Sunday, January 31, 2016

Challenge Day 28 through 30

I am winding down on my new starts for January 2016.

On Day 28, I started My Quaker House by Blackbird Designs.  This pattern is included in small book and it is a colorful alphabet with Quaker motifs and a house at the top.  The stitching went quickly and I like the colors, it should be fun to finish.

On Day 29, I started Angel's Song by Shepherds Bush.  Tina Richards' designs were my introduction to silk threads, beads, and the addition of decorative stitches to contemporary samplers.  The angel at the top is odd looking, but the sampler is rather pretty and it should be fun to work on.

For Day 30, I selected a crewel kit by Elsa Williams.  I have been reading Mary Corbet's blog Needle'n Thread for some time and admiring her crewel work and use of color.  Working on this piece will give me a chance to try some of that embroidery myself and to play with shading.  It took me forever to separate all the colors of wool in the kit and then to get the fabric set up in the hoop on a stand that I acquired from another stitcher.  Once it was all set up, it was easy to work on.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Challenge Day 24 through 27

I swapped out some more of my original challenge selections for other pieces.  A couple of the rejected projects just didn't have the right fabric or threads with, others were too similar to other pieces I had already started, and a few were things I didn't like and could not image spending time stitching.

Start 24 is A Knot Garden by Catherine Jordan.  This piece was a ANG Cyber Workshop.  I love the way it looks and I enjoyed working on it.  The blackwork background is endless but it is also relaxing to work on and I got a lot accomplished in an hour.

Start 25 is Autumn Leaves by Prairie Schooler with a thread conversion from Shakespeare's Peddler.  It is a companion to Spring has Come.  I have enough fabric to work both of the designs in the leaflet if I am careful.  These are cute and I think that they will work up pretty quickly.

Start 26 is One Starry Christmas by With Thy Needle and Thread.  I bought the chart, threads and fabric in October because I liked the colors and design.  I am stitching it over one thread on 30 count and the bright colors of silk glow on the fabric.

Start 27 is The Village of Hawk Run Hollow by Carriage House Sampling.  I kitted this up to join a stitch a long in 2015 and never started it.  Now it is started, but I am one thread off either on the initial or the border around it.  I think it will be easier to take out the border when I pick it up again.  This is a big piece, but not a particularly difficult one.  Maybe this year will be its year.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Challenge Day 20 through 23

One of the reasons I participated in this challenge is to force me to look at the needlework projects I have collected over the years and to decide which ones I want to stitch and which ones I do not.  I have decided that I really don't want to stitch all of the Mill Hill kits that I have, the idea of stitching and beading on perforated paper does not appeal to me.  So I have changed my list of projects a bit and added some Ewe and Eye scissor companion kits.

My day 20 challenge piece is the St. Nick Scissor Companion from Ewe and Eye.  The stitching is hard to see but I made good progress in my hour of stitching and when he is done he should look quite jolly attached to a red pair of scissors.

Day 21 is another Ewe and Eye Scissor Companion, this one is Big Berry.  It is accompanied by a pair of embroidery scissors with a pink handle.  It is working up very quickly.

Day 22 is another one over one piece, the 1996 Annual Ornament from The Heart's Content.  I quite like the outer border with its bright colors and simple motifs.  A fir tree covered with snow will occupy the center when it is completed.

I started another sampler on Day 23, The Betsy Davis Sampler by Joanne Harvey of The Exemplarery.  This is a pretty sampler with some free embroidery on it and it is not overly large.  It was a Lake Michigan Sampler Guild workshop.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Challenge Days 16 through 19

My Day 16 challenge piece is the calendar and initial tag that I stitched for my 2016 Secret Stitcher from EAC Virtual Threads.  For Day 17, I started a Gay Ann Rogers piece called Sampler with a Pearl.  I got it mounted on a scroll frame and the basting done.  This is an old teaching piece.  I didn't attend the class myself, I purchased the kit from the estate of another stitcher.  Quite a few of the instructions are hand drawn, but they are as complete as any of Gay Ann Rogers current pieces.  The piece is full of different types of open work which will be fun to stitch.

My Day 18 start is Halloween at Hollyberry Farm by Notforgotten Farms.  As I was stitching, I realized that I don't have close to enough thread to complete the project, I didn't notice that the materials list includes different size skeins of the threads.  I like the piece and so I will have to go shopping to ensure that I have enough thread to finish it.  Since the fabric is overdyed and there are quite a few separate large motifs, I should be able to make skeins of different dye lots work.

My Day 19 start is another Halloween piece, Jack-a-rachnid by Tempting Tangles.  This is an ornament pattern that was published in the September/October 2013 issue of Just Cross Stitch Magazine.  I think it is cute and will be fun to stitch.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Secret Stitcher 2016

The Embroiderer's Association of Canada has a lot of cool teaching projects and is very affordable to join.  They have an on-line chapter called Virtual Threads which is very active and plans lots of activities and events.  This year, I have decided to participate in them and joined the two Secret Stitcher programs.

I received a very cute bookmark calendar that can be embellished with stitching and a Rosewood Manor thread bobbin.  The bookmarks are cute and the stitching embellishment is a fun additional touch.  The thread bobbin is also cute and since I love tools of all kinds, it is a great gift for me.

I decided that I would stitch some things for my Secret Stitcher and picked some charts out of the February 2016 issue of The CrossStitcher.  I stitched a cute black cat curled up on a black chair and an alphabet with a threaded needle attached to each letter.  I backstitched around the cat and then cut a couple threads away from the stitching, removing the loose threads to create a short fringe, and then inserted the fabric between the cover and front page of a small calendar.  I finished the initials in a similar fashion and then glued them to a small chalkboard tag.  Both the calendar and the tag came from Target.  I think they are cute and I hope that my partner likes them.  I am counting them as my 16th start and second finish for the 2016 challenge.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Challenge Day 12 through 15

During the week, I had some evening commitments so I picked out some simpler, less involved projects for weeknight starts.

Start number 12 is Full Winter Moon.  It was a free Wichelt pattern designed by Katherine Moser for Brown House Studio.   The design included a skinny snow man dressed in scarf and hat with two scrawny evergreen trees on either side, a bird, and a full moon.  It is stitched in a combination of overdyed cotton floss from Stranded by the Sea and DMC floss.  I am stitching it on a piece of pale lavender evenweave fabric.

Start number 13 is Peppermint Pig by Tempting Tangles.  I bought this and kitted it up to make for Perry a few years ago, thinking that it would be a good addition to her pig collection.  Like so many things, I never started it and it has languished in my stash.  Now it is started.  I am not enthralled with Quaker medallions so this may take a wile to finish.

Start number 14, and finish number 1, is another Silver Needle Secret Needle Night piece called Autumn Awes Me.  I had plans to finish all four of these seasonal pieces and put them into a wall quilt but one of the kids or a pet spilled lamp oil all over the first one that I finished.  I may have had to throw it away.  I am not sure what I will do with just three of the seasons, but they are cute and quick to stitch.

Start number 15 is Harvest by Mill Hill.  These small bead and button pieces are stitched on perforated paper.  They are cute and look good when they are completed but they are a surprising amount of work to complete.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Challenge Day 8 through 11

Starting a new project every day is turning out to be a lot of fun.  It gives me an excuse to sit down and stitch almost every day.  It has also forced me to take a look at my stash of kitted projects and charts and to start thinking about which ones I will actually stitch and which I will not.

On Day 8, I started the Elizabeth Derby Sampler which is in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum.  It was charted by Joanne Harvey for The Exemplarery.  I like the free embroidery flowers and leaves in the border and the floral band.  I was able to spend enough time stitching to finish two rows across the top of the inner portion of the sampler.

On Day 9, I started Think Summer by Lizzie Kate.  This is a fairly small, fun piece full of bright summery colors.  A great piece to work on in the middle of an Illinois winter.  I think this piece will be a quick finish when I go back to working on it.

On Day 10, I started working on Catherine Jordan's Jamestown sampler.  She enhances her stitched pieces with paint which will be added to this one when it is completed.  I took this as a class with the Lake Michigan Sampler Guild and initially was more excited about her method of stitching than I was about having a map of the James River.  Several years and a lot of genealogical research later, I know that my Baugh ancestors had settled on the James River in the 1630s and that I am descended from the Boons who settled in Isle of Wight, Virginia.  I think I will mark the locations of their original homes on my map when it is completed.  So far, I have only stitched a small amount of the coastline.

On Day 11, I started the Jacobean Berry Weight, a small over one project from The Heart's Content.  I had difficulty counting the sawtooth vine correctly and unstitched as much as I stitched.  I think I am going to need a combination of better light, and either better glasses or a magnifier to finish this piece.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Planning the Historical Sew Monthly Challenge

I haven't sewn any clothing in years.  Instead I have used my sewing machine for mending, sewing patches onto Karate gi's and finishing needlework.  I used to make quite a few of my own clothes, fancy clothes for the kids, and spectacular Halloween costumes.  Most of them have been passed onto other people, but I still own a silver lame lined velveteen wizard cloak and a black and red cloak for a vampire.  

I want to make clothes again and I have a collection of fabric to use.  I decided that the Historical Sew Monthly Challenge would get me started and challenge me to combine my embroidery skills with dressmaking.  I am not a reenactor and I plan to wear the clothes that I make for this challenge, so some of my selections will be from the 20th Century.  

Since it has been so long since I have made clothing, I don't have unfinished projects lying around, certainly not any period ones.  So for the January procrastination challenge, I plan to use fabric that I purchased 25 years ago to make a paisley blouse.  I chose McCall's Pattern M7053 and plan to make the long sleeved blouse.  I want to make the coordinating skirt as well (McCall's Pattern M6993), either in the same paisley or in a solid color.  These patterns are part of the McCall's Archive Collection and are based on styles from 1933.  

The February challenge is tucks and pleating.  I have some cotton fabric that is white with peach stripes.  I think that it would make a beautiful 1890ss shirtwaist.  There is enough for a skirt to match, but if I make the skirt, it won't be a period piece.  I bought the fabric to recreate a favorite, full skirted Norma Kamali shirt dress that I wore to dance in so there is plenty of fabric.  

The March challenge is for protection.  I plan to make a short cape using a pattern for a bustle-era cover up.  It is lined and has an optional beaded overlay.  The beaded overlay will be my December project since it would be for special occasion wear.

April is a gender bender challenge and I would like to make a man's smock.  There are lots of patterns out there for different versions -- some with smocking and others with peasant embroidery.  

May is holes and I will either cheat, and knit a shawl using a historic pattern instead of sewing something or I will figure out what to do with the lace on the late 1920s dress I found in Grammy's things.  The dress has deteriorated, but the hand made lace in the collar and jabot are still intact.  It is black, but so fancy that I wonder if my grandmother wore it to her wedding.  It is possible that it was another color and she dyed it later. 

I don't know what to make for June, July, August, or September.  The October theme is heroes and I would love to reproduce one of Elsa Schiaparelli's embroidered jackets.  They are absolutely fantastic, my favorites are one that has a woman's face on the front and her hair embroidered in gold across the shoulder and sleeve, and another with two faces that join on the back with ribbon roses across the shoulders.  The November challenge is to make something red, if I can't come up with something to sew, I can always use the red laceweight wool in my stash to knit a Victorian shawl.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Knitting with Bulky Yarn

In general, I like to work with fine yarn and small needles to create things that contain a lot of detail.  I have small hands and short fingers, and actually have trouble holding onto large needles for very long.  But sometimes it is very satisfying to work on a project with large needles and large yarn.  There is the instant gratification of finishing something quickly, and there is the squishy warmth to enjoy in items made out of bulky and super-bulky yarns.  In December, I started and finished the Common Bean Shawl.  This week, I made a Cabled Hat using Lion Brand's Hometown USA in Gators (Illini colors too).  It was a quick project and came out well.

I also continued to make Warm Up America afghan squares with left over bulky yarn.  The red and gray square is knit in two stitch check using slip stitches and knitting with only one color in each row.  The other square is in a pattern called Thermal Underwear, I think it would work well in a larger piece with finer yarn and smaller needles.  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Challenge Day 4 through 7

I have four more starts to share for Debbie's Ultimate/Crazy January/February Challenge 2016.   These are not as involved as the first three because I have less time to stitch during the week.

First up is start number 4, The Little Fir Tree! a Secret Needle Night kit from The Silver Needle.  Almost 10 years ago, I purchased these little kits every month.  I have stitched most of them.  The kits use perle cotton, 10 count fabric, and fun threads and embellishments.  Finishing kits are available, but I think that most of them are too fussy.  I have used several of these pieces to decorate bags and have given them as gifts.

Start number 5 is a Mill Hill Buttoned and Beaded Kit called Fa La La.  I had to start this twice because is wasn't close enough to the middle of the perforated paper card.  These are fiddly kits, but they are cute and they look good on a Christmas tree.

 Start number 6, is Spring Has Come! from The Prairie Schooler.  I like their folk art pieces and this one is was converted to Crescent Colours by Theresa Vennette when she still had her shop, Shakespeare's Peddler.  As it turns out, I have enough fabric for both pieces in the chart.  This is a fun piece to work on and another piece that should not have spent so long sitting in the closet.  If you want your own copy, order one quickly because they are retiring this year.

Start 7, is A Winter's Night by Brightneedle for a Kreinik kit that was part of their Remember the Ladies series.  These kits came with Silk Mori in their Milkpaint colors.  I supplied the fabric and changed the original background from a brown linen to a blue/gray/purple color that looks like an evening sky.  The stitching went quickly last night.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Challenge Day 2 and 3

Last night I started working on Elizabeth Easdon - 1827, a sampler kit from The Essamplaire.  I bought it because I like all of the different animals on the front lawn in front of the house.  The alphabets at the top and the general layout of the sampler are similar to the ones on my ancestor, Cyntha May's sampler.   I haven't stitched on 40 count linen in a while so it took a little bit of time to get used to it, but once I did I made quite a bit of progress, finishing the vine in the upper border all the way across the top.

This morning, I started work on Mockingbird by La-D-Da.  My chart was designed for Hand Dyed Fibers which are no longer available.  The chart is still available, charted for Needlepoint Silk with a DMC conversion.  I have the Hand Dyed Fibers so I am using them.   The colors are beautiful and the soft silk is easy to stitch with.  I am not sure why I let this cute project sit in my stash for so long.  It would make a lovely gift for a child and it would be easy to add a child's name and birth date either under the bird's tail or across the bottom under the lower border.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Day

I love lists and challenges.  I like to set goals and make New Year's Resolutions.  My two main goals this year are to be more creative and to get my house decluttered and in better order.  In order to force myself to be more creative, I have joined a number of monthly challenges including the Bead Journal Project and the Crazy Quilt Journal Project.  

I also decided to join Debbie's Ultimate Crazy January February Challenge.  This started out a number of years ago as a blog challenge to start fifteen new stitching projects on each of the first fifteen days of the year.  The challenge expanded over time and moved to Facebook.  The original Debbie died suddenly and the challenge continues in her memory.  I am using the challenge to force me to go through my cross stitch stash and identify those projects that I will actually work on and complete and start them.  I plan to sell or give away projects that I will never work on.  I have decided to start 31 new projects in January 2016 and to pull out 29 Works in Progress in February 2016.  The new projects are all different sizes and are listed in the side bar.  On January 1, I worked on Heart'n Hand by Jan Stephens Rogers of With Humble Heart Needleart.  I originally thought that this piece was solidly stitched, but it is not, the background is a hand dyed teal linen and only the design is stitched, not the background.

I am also challenging myself to walk every day.  On January 1, I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden and enjoyed their walking paths.   The paths were liberally coated with sand and it was not windy so the walk was fairly pleasant.  I encountered several couples who were looking for directions and a number of other walkers, but there were more geese and squirrels out than people.  Remnants of the recent snow storms were easy to find and added a zen-like quality to the winter landscape.