Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sheep Crewel Embroidery

I finished another little crewel embroidery yesterday, so here it is.
I didn't plan to do the sheep with turkey  knots from the start. I had been thinking long and short, but then when I stopped to think about my other choices, I decided to give the turkey knots a go. I used 3 strands in the needle.  It made it easier to try blending the colors. I didn't really know how close together the stitches should be for a nice result, but three strands is really a lot of yarn. I didn't really expect the result to be quite this dense though!
It's very soft and fluffy, just as a sheep on fabric should be. It is quite high above the fabric too. The only thing is, the head is looking a bit flat compared to the body.  But since the head was already stitched, I let it be as it is.

I got some questions on Flickr about crewel work last week. I had been thinking to write out nice answers here as Flickr really isn't a good format for anything other than very short messages. If any of you have any questions, you can leave them here. I will be answering them shortly!

As always, thanks for the comments, and thanks for reading my posts!! I hope you get a little inspiration from my work to pick up your needles!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Creature of the Deep Blue Sea

I've been busy working on more wool stitching! My subject this time in an octopus.
I wanted a semi-realistic shape so I did a photo search and got a feeling for how the head should be. The tentacles are a bit exaggerated, but I wanted them long so you get the feeling of them floating around in the water.
After I made the octopus, I added the seaweed on the sides and the middle. I managed to use this week's TAST stitch, the feather stitch in there! And even better I found a great use for the wheat ear stitch. Makes perfect sea plants.
Lots of french knots and a starfish finished off the embroidery. I really filled the fabric this time! Next up is a sheep. I already made the design.

And finally, we went out to the flea markets yesterday as we often do. I found something a bit special this time.
Unfortunately the name and name plate are missing, but this is a Willcox and Gibbs sewing machine from about 1885. It has no bobbin and makes a single thread chain stitch. This design was patented in the 1850's. I can tell you, this little machine isn't a lightweight. They surely don't make them like this anymore! In the background is an antique Husqvarna sewing machine from the early 1900s. So now the count is up to 3 antique machines. I swear I am not a collector, it's all Mr Floss Box's fault!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Feather Stitch: TAST Week 3

I made a little sampler. This time I used tapestry wool yarns. They are soo nice for making these sorts of samplers. Nice, fat yarns, so you can really see the stitches. And I discovered that I really like these yarns because they sit up on the fabric and give lots of extra dimension. This sampler is different!
Basically, I threw out the idea of making nice even rows of perfect stitches. Why not let some of the chaos that surrounds our lives come out in the needle. I know there is an instant left-brain reaction not to like it, but you can't help looking extra, trying to find the patterns. I just stitched, I stitched right over other stitches if they were in the way. I really like the layering in any case. It's complicated and sometimes hard to see what's underneath. Ok, maybe I am reading a lot in, but I just couldn't be "neat" with this one.

You can refer to a previous sampler I made if you want some really nice laid out variations of this stitch:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Bliss in Black

I re-stitched a design, something I almost never do. I needed to know the amount of thread I used, so I chose to do the skate in black for something different.
The black is a little more dramatic maybe, but not so different. I was uncertain of my color choice for the branches on the side, but working with the colors again, I think they work together quite well. I mirrored this one so I could place the two skates side-by-side.
They look good together.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stitches are like brush strokes

I've worked hard on this, but now it's finally completed. It isn't a project, but instead my first book of embroidery, and I just have to say something about it here.
This is my first book, so I start at the beginning. My main theme throughout the book is that embroidery is an artform and for us, the stitches are our brush strokes. We can learn to use them, just as an artist would to achieve different effects. However, we must learn to use those brushes through practicing the stitches and seeing the possibilities each one offers us. I start with 10 basic stitches, not just how to form them, but ideas of how they can be varied and used in projects. There are suggested exercises for each one to help get you started. Then there are 7 patterns included for you to work with.  The book is 42 pages plus the patterns with many photos from my embroideries. In short, I don't just tell you how to make a bunch of stitches, but rather the goal is to show you some of the possibilities and get you thinking in a different way.

This book is a beginning but not just for beginners, but for all of us seeking to make our work more personal. We all have a different viewpoint, let this come across as you choose stitches to incorporate into your work. And remember, the main thing about art is that it is an expression from within by the artist, so take the time to learn the media and techniques to help you increase that expression.

It took me 8 months of on and off again work to put this together. In that time my ideas had time to grow and develop, and in some ways, this book is almost like a journal (although it isn't written like one). I've been a stitcher and an embroiderer for awhile now - I'm not a "beginner", but as I came to the conclusion of this project, I realized that I really am just a beginner, there is so much more to do and learn.  Now it's time to get going and really start stitching!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 2012 Embroidery Journal Project

I've completed my embroidery journal project for the month! It's a bit different, but it has a meaning.
I thought about what theme I wanted for the month and decided I would use new beginnings. It took me awhile to choose this theme. I've considered many others. New beginnings - not just because it's a new year, but also because I feel I am starting a new phase with my embroidery. I am hoping to break out of some of the boxes I put myself in and try new things and new ways of incorporating stitches. In short to see more of the possibilities embroidery offers as an art-form and hopefully to increase my creativity.

After I decided on a theme, I sat down with a pencil and just starting drawing. I didn't know what it would become. I decided that what I had drawn represented a seed - the small plant and the shell around it.  I thought a seed was a great symbol for new beginnings.

I used a lot of blanket stitch in this project. It isn't a stitch I have used all that much so far, but I put it in my drawing and decided to stitch it that way. I stitched this project with a fine wool thread - also new for me to work with. It went through the woven cotton fine and even with the backing fabric it was fine too. But it didn't feel right until I switched to a bigger needle, then it was much smoother.

I admit I had doubts as I worked on this project - it felt a lot different than my other projects, but in the end I am satisfied with it as a starting point for my embroidery journal project.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fly Stitch TAST Week 1

This year I signed up to follow along with TAST run from Pintangle. This is the first week, and the stitch is fly stitch.
Here is my sampler. I just sat down with a needle and thread and tried a few different ways of lining up the stitches and spacing them. It was fun. There is no better way to really learn and understand the possibilities each stitch offers than to sit down and practice the stitch and try a few variations. I've said this before, embroidery is an art form, and the stitches are our brushes. Learn to use them like an artist would, and you will be on your way. I'll be revisiting this idea again, so stick around.

I've worked this sampler with a fine wool yarn (2-ply like crewel yarn) that I offer in my etsy store. It's the thinnest wool I have ever seen, and it's a delight to work with. It's just barely the thickness of two cotton strands.

Last year I made another fly stitch sampler as part of Summer Stitch school. Here is that sampler:
You can read more about these fly stitch variations here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First project

The first project of the year is now completed! This one I am calling "Crewel Beetle". That gives the whole thing away, so here it is!

I used some classic crewel embroidery stitches here, namely the beetle's body. I took the time to lay the lines carefully to be as parallel as possible. Nearly all of them I had to pull out and re-lay at least one time, but I think this is the best job I have done so far with this stitch. The first leg section on all 6 legs are bullion knots. I thought those worked out pretty well. I was a little bummed because the paper slipped a bit while transferring the design, so the body is not perfect. I didn't realize it until I had the body already filled in. Sometimes that is the way it is, so I pressed on.

These crewel projects are fun. I'll be making more of them, but I am mixing in some other projects too. I'm calling this series of patterns "Crewel in a Hoop". It wasn't a planned out idea, but the 6-inch hoop is a great size for working in. Plus they are easy frames for displaying the projects.

I have more little projects finished or near finished, so I will be back when the light lets me get a good picture. Until then, keep on stitching!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Embroidery Journal Project: January 2012

Happy New Year to all stitchers everywhere! I hope this year will be the best stitchy year yet. This year I am getting the Embroidery Journal Project going. The main purpose is to give you a chance to make your stitching more personal.

This post is the gathering place for anyone wishing to participate in the Embroidery Journal Project for January 2012. Everyone is welcome to join, and it doesn't matter if you complete your project in January or later. Just leave a note in the comments with a link to your project. I will collect links and post them on the main page for the Journal Project.

If this is your first time reading about this project, you can read up about the embroidery journal project here.

Thanks for participating! And those who are just checking things out, be sure to go to the links and see what people are doing! I'll post the link to my project here too when I have made it.