I've just finished Rebecca Ringquist's 2010 summer sampler. I decided to do it all in variegated threads. Because the printed lines I was stitching over are pretty thick, I used pearl cottons (mostly #5) and also a lot of Caron Collection Watercolours -- one strand of that is about the same weight as #5 pearl cotton, and the color combinations are so yummy! I did the whole thing with variegated threads; the pearl cottons include ones from Weeks Dye Works, Anchor, DMC, Valdani, Crescent Colours, and some that I dyed myself using fiber-reactive Procion dyes from Dharma Trading Company. The threads are heavy and the base fabric tightly-woven, and I had a lot of trouble getting through the fabric at first, and even broke the eyes of a few embroidery needles, until a helpful staffer at the Status Thimble (San Mateo, CA) recommended I switch to a chenille needle instead. That worked much better!
Here's the whole sampler:
I was dreading the amount of buttonhole stitching, but I actually really enjoyed working it -- it went fast -- and it shows off variegated threads wonderfully. I want to try some crazy quilting soon, and this stitch is definitely going to be in the mix:
The spiderwebs were a new stitch for me. There are two styles, and I did them both. This photo doesn't quite do justice to the yummy colors:
I experimented a little with the tulips. The one on the left is one with a backstitch stem, satin stitch leaves, and stem stitch blossom in pearl cottons; the one on the right is done with a stem stitch stem, satin stitch leaves, and split stitch blossom in Caron Watercolours. I think the satin stitch works much better in Watercolours than in pearl cotton. I had been curious about using linear stitches like stem stitch and split stitch as filling stitches. I found it tricky to figure out how to best fill the shape and not leave odd little gaps!
Finally, I just love how these French knots and bullion knots show off the variegated threads:
My twin daughters Michelle and Rebecca have a baby cousin named Willa, born last winter. After she was born, we started a joint project: the Willa Bibs. They drew the designs and chose the thread colors. I transferred the designs to organic cotton bibs from Dharma Trading Company and did the stitching. The girls were 3 1/2 when they drew dthe designs; they were 4 by the time I finished the project!
Michelle designed one with zebra stripes and chose blue and green threads for the decorative edging:
While I was working on it, Michelle was delighted at the idea of her cousin looking like a zebra.
Rebecca drew a flower and chose a yellow thread for her edging:
Rebecca says it's a "singing flower". My friend Linda notes that it looks a lot like the wildflower farewell-to-spring that grows abundantly in our yard.
The zebra bib is stitched entirely in chain stitch (good practice for it -- my chain stitch is a lot better now). The flower's stem and leaves are backstitch, the flower is long-and-short stitch, and the edging is blanket stitch. The brown spot on the flower bib is from actual use in feeding baby Willa! They're stitched with 2-4 strands of DMC cotton, so they're machine washable (very important!) and colorfast.
I made this as a gift for a friend. It's from Inspirations magazine, issue #50. I followed the pattern and directions as given in the magazine, except for changing fabric and thread colors: it was originally designed in pink and cream, not pale purple and cream.
It's going to be a panel of a patchwork baby toy (for a little girl whose first initial is M). I did it in padded satin stitch with three strands of DMC floss. The design is from a vintage Simplicity iron-on transfer my mom gave me when she was cleaning out her stash. I did split stitch in the general shape of the M first, then satin stitched over that. I used a laying tool to try to get the strands flat and not twisted (you can learn more about laying tools here). Between using the laying tool and trying ultra hard to stitch right on the outline, it was pretty slow going. Since then, I've read a tip that says outlining with one strand, then satin stitching over the outline, makes it easier to get a really smooth edge; I may try that next time.
Here's an ultra-closeup, mostly because I can, and partly to show some of the uneven bits:
I wasn't sure how to do the peaks of the M. As you can perhaps see in the closeup, I did the tips straight across, without changing thread direction; I considered going around the curve instead. That is, look at these two ways of stitching:
I did the one on the left, but wonder if I should try the one on the right. What do you think?
I got interested in some different embroidery fibers when I saw this blog entry about the differences between pearl cotton, embroidery floss, and floche a broder. Basically, pearl cotton is a relatively heavy 2-ply twist, floss is 6 thin two-ply strands, and floche is one 5-ply strand, about the weight of two strands of floss. (Actually, the pearl cotton is available in a range of weights, but they're all 2 ply.) I looked around and found floche at Elaine Magnin Needlepoint in San Francisco, and pretty much fell in love. It lies beautifully smoth and soft in the hanks. I bought all 3 fibers in DMC color 920 to do some experimentation. Here are the three fibers:
From top to bottom, those are pearl cotton #5, embroidery floss, and floche a broder. To compare the fibers in use, I made a little bookmark with satin stitch circles. Front:
Left to right, we have Pearl cotton #5, 1 strand of floss, 2 strands of floss, and floche. The shapes are irregular because of my drawing and stitching ability, not anything about the fibers! I did the floche first and the pearl cotton last, and I think my stitching got a bit better as I went. When I did the two strands, I tried to "railroad" the floss, that is, take the needle between the two strands to keep them from being twisted around each other. The back is a scrap of print fabric:
I like to think that the bookmark overall has a bit of a midcentury modern look.
I also have closeups of the different fibers. Pearl cotton has the most pronounced texture and shine:
Two strands of floss is smoother, with good coverage:
The single strand of floss didn't cover as well, but maybe if I had been even more meticulous about spacing my stitches closely I could have avoided that:
I think the floche looks smoothest:
I have four colors of floche and want to do a small project or two to explore it more; I'll post the results.
Not many people have heard of huck weaving, aka Swedish weaving. It's a form of embroidery where you slide the needle under "floats" that lie above the fabric surface, rather than through the fabric. No stitches show through on the back whatsoever. There are all kinds of cool ripple-y patterns you can do. It's often done on specialized fabrics like huck towelling, huckaback, popkorn, and monk's cloth, but can also be done on the same aida that's used for cross-stitch. I recently did a huck pincushion for bsonlytoots in the Pretty Pincushion swap:
The pincusion is done with some really awesome Valdani variegated pearl cotton that I bought at Lacis in Berkeley. I've started another one in a similar design, but a different colorway, for my mom. Here are a couple of bookmarks I did last year:
I finally, finally, finally finished a pillow I started 4 years ago. It was my first foray back into embroidery as an adult, and I didn't realize how ambitious I was being. When I started, I didn't know about splitting the strands of the floss, or how to do anything but backstitch and satin stitch... I've been working on it on and off and learning as I go. It includes backstitch, stem stitch, split stitch, laced running stitch, couching, French knots, satin stitch, seed stitch, and leaf stitch. The early parts were stitched with the whole thickness of floss; the later parts are mostly with two or three strands. Here it is:
I recently bought this 1976 book by Better Homes and Gardens from Book Buyers in Moyuntain View, CA. I was grabbed by the cover project, which I quite like:
It's an embroidered butterfly with shiny metal inlays fastened on with shisa stitch. It's the same stitch used to put those little round mirrors on saris and other traditional Indian garments. The mirror or inlay isn't pierced by the thread, just held securely in a little frame made of thread. This project uses bits cut from soda cans for the inlays! I looked around at the grocery store, and I don't think today's cans have big enough areas of solid color to be used for this, so I'm wondering what to use instead; I was thinking maybe pieces of old CDs.
I'm going to post a few pics in separate posts of this thread, so no one post is too pic-heavy. I hope no one minds my filling up the "recent with pics" page with these un-recent projects!
I wanted to try my hand at doing a silk ribbon piece from scratch, without a pattern from a book. I wanted something to start from, though, so I got this image off of 1-800-flowers:
I did a rough sketch from that, got some ideas of how to do different flowers from this book, and started stitching. Here's the finished project:
and a closeup:
I like some aspects of it. The colors are nice, and I really like how the pink flower at the upper left came out. And I used pistil stitch for the first time, which I learned about recently from this post. But some of the stitching seems sloppy to me, and the overall design is too cramped; the flowers don't spread out enough to balance the vase. Onward and upward... I have a new book that looks really good for learning in detail to make nice stitches with ribbon. I'm looking forward to stitching the samplers in there; then maybe I'll try a larger project -- maybe from someone else's design.
Edited to add: I would have just linked to the image on 1-800-flowers, but they don't seem to have that bouquet any more. I'm hoping this qualifies as fair use, and besides, it's free advertising for them.
My parents live in Pennsylvania; I live in California. They want to spend more time with my daughters, their granddaughters, who turned one year old today. They aren't moving, but they've rented an apartment near us so they can visit us often, easily, and comfortably. To mark their new bicoastal mode of living, I made these as a housewarming gift for them:
The one on the left is a ruffed grouse, the state bird of Pennsylvania; the one on the right is a California quail, the state bird of California. The grouse:
It's embroidered in one strand of Caron Watercolours, in variegated brown and black. The grass is one strand of DMC Medicis (I wished later that I had used two strands). The images are from the Martha Stewart Living website -- she has pictures for all the state birds (she suggests using them to make a redwork quilt). It's all stem stitch and some disconnected straight stitch. I'm really pleased with it.