Monday, September 17, 2007

More of my past projects

I forgot to mention in some of my past posts that I used to hang out on the rec.crafts.textiles.needlework USENET group many years ago and through that I became part of a group that got together in Austin every so often to stitch. We did a fun shop hop down to San Antonio too. Through one of the members of that group, I had a chance to volunteer at the Alma Lynne booth at the Spirit of Cross Stitch Festival when it came to Austin in 1996. It was tons of fun and I spent tons of money! In the process of working the festival I finally "got" the idea of what really high-quality stitching was about through looking at some of the competition winners. Since then, not only do I take more care in getting all my stitches to go the same direction, but I've also taken more care in "carrying over" and making the top stitches lie flat (well... flatter... I'm still a little sloppy at times) and not letting fuzz from dark threads show on light and vice versa. I'm by no means a competition quality stitcher, but I am definitely improving.

Also at the festival, I caught the bug for stitching small. I've mentioned it before, but I really enjoy doing stuff on high count fabric, although I'll admit that I haven't done a lot. The project that caught my eye was a small section of "Jacque's View" from Graphs by Barbara and Cheryl done on 28 ct. over one. I was working with Cheryl of the above design team and she had the model for that chart in the booth with us, including the section around the cat done small. I was entranced!

The above project was probably the biggest that I've done on 18 count to date. I started it in around 1993, but it wasn't finished until several years later. It's from a Candamar Designs book called "Something Special: Home Sweet Home".

I also thought I would toss in a picture of one of the few needlepoint projects that I've done so far but I've got a couple more kits in my stash. I think that the sunflowers above are from a Dimensions kit, but I'm not 100% sure. I also did a eyeglass case for my mom that was a needlepoint kit... I'll have to get a picture of it someday. I also did a magnolia for her a little over 10 years ago that I also need to grab a photo of.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One of the things that kept me sane in the days after September 11, 2001

In the days following the attacks, I, like so many others, found it hard to tear myself away from the news coverage. There were several things that kept me going in those first few days... reading "Lord of the Rings", knowing that a friend of mine who worked at the top of the north tower wasn't in his office yet that day and was okay, going ahead with the public viewing on Sept. 12 at the telescope I run at work (which was very well-attended that night by people wanting to get away from their TVs for a while) and stitching the Tower of London design you see above. It gave something to do with my hands while the news coverage droned on in the background. I'll probably always think of those days when I see this design.

The pattern is from Heritage Stitchcraft, designed by Susan Ryder. I finished it in around October 2001, but I still haven't gotten around to framing it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Some more of my past projects

Here are three more of the past projects that I've stitched. I think all three of these were begun and finished in the 1993-1998 range.

The first is an ironwork gate design from New Stitches issue #10. Anyone who is familiar with the design might notice a big mistake in the gate stitching, but thankfully it isn't obvious if you don't know better. (If you're curious, the mistake is that I ended up making the space between the brick posts for the gate one stitch too wide, so when I went to do the backstitching for the gate I had to make the gate a stitch wider... I ended up doubling the center of the design.)

This next design is another from New Stitches, this one from issue #13. This is one of a pair of designs, where the other one is looking in to the house through the window. They've run several "in and out" designs over the years, but this is the only that I've stitched so far. This was also my first experiment stitching on a higher-count fabric. It's over 1 square on 22 ct. aida. I actually found that I liked working small and have done some more since, although several were given away as gifts and I never took pictures of them (bad me!).

This is from a different British magazine, Needlecraft, in the July 1994 issue, and is one of my favorite things that I've stitched. I'm probably going to do it again on linen eventually (I have this weird desire to re-do a lot of my earlier projects on different fabrics and in different sizes... you'd think I would be more interested in doing new designs instead!) I think this was the first thing that I stitched with variegated floss (the symbols at the bottom of the "England" and "Wales" strips) and I really liked how it turned out.

From roughly September 1994 to May 1995, I worked at a craft store to supplement the part-time job I was still working at the university (when I went full time at in June 1995) and of course worked in needlework and fabrics. This was the time that I caught the quilting bug (which will be its own series of posts eventually) but I also started learning about doing some new techniques. It was around this time that I got my first little linen project, the rose sachet in the picture above. I can't remember if this was a cover kit or something I bought separately (I think the latter), but the other two are cover kits from more British needlework magazines. The rose card was, I think, the first time I did beading on a design.

That's more than enough for today!

Friday, September 7, 2007

How Anne Boleyn nearly lost her head for a second time

(From New Stitches Magazine, Issue #8)

The next big thing in my needlework life was the discovery of British needlework magazines. In particular, I became a big fan of New Stitches. I was browsing in a bookstore in Dallas during a visit in c. 1993 and came across NS and saw the design of Anne Boleyn (I was already long down the Tudor path at that point) and of course I had to buy it. I was also intrigued by the blackwork design, which was a technique that I was unfamiliar with up to that point. While I was up there I bought some 22 ct. fabric and two thicknesses of thread and began to stitch. Unfortunately, I completely screwed up the starting place and by the time I started to get to the top, I realized that Anne was about to end up "historically accurate" without a head. As you can see above, I did actually managed to squeeze in the top of her French hood on the very tip top of the fabric. I actually plan to do this design again someday (and start in the right place, and probably on a different type of fabric) although I've been keeping the "mistake" version around for some reason. I guess as a reminder to "measure twice, start stitching once".

Thursday, September 6, 2007

More Christmas ornaments

Not much extra commentary on these.

The first batch is an older set (as you can tell from the "wrong" way stitching). I enjoyed painting the little house on the one on the left. These are from those little kits you can find at the craft stores for about a dollar. They aren't the most challenging stitches, but they are fun to whip out on a lazy afternoon.

This next set is from another kit set I bought at Michael's or some other chain. These technically aren't finished yet because I'm looking for some small ribbon bows to put on the bottom over the ends of the cording. (I added the cording... it didn't come with the kit. I thought it finished the edges off nicely.)

Cute little gingerbread man kit, stitched over 10 years ago.

Some of my first experiments with beading and ribbon embroidery. I think these are all from Mill Hill Beads kits. I think I have at least three more bead ornament kits somewhere in my stash.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The 15 year Christmas ornaments

Christmas ornaments are another favorite project-type of mine. There's just something about stitching Christmas ornaments in a hot Texas summer that is refreshing. :)

The above ornaments are from a Janlynn kit I bought in or around 1992 and began shortly after. Being of the easily bored personality type, I stitched all the 'interesting' parts (the instruments) and then got totally bored when I got to the greenery part. So the projects languished for ages. A while back (maybe 5 years ago?) I finished three of them, as you can see above on the left. The other three ended up in my WIP (works in progress) pile. Until last week, that is. I've been on a kick of finishing a bunch of smaller projects that I've had stashed away in a plastic shoe box.

Of the three remaining ornaments from the kit, I recently finished the drum and the clarinet, although they are still waiting to be made up into the little pillows and finished with the gold cord. I had planned to finish the horn over the long weekend, but as I started on the greenery, I realized that the mouthpiece and the thin part of the horn on the right were in completely the wrong place and I had to rip them out. Thankfully I still had all the remaining threads from the kit. So, now I'm working on replacing the bits of the horn and finishing the greenery. Hopefully by the weekend I'll have all three ornaments completely finished and my longest work in progress will finally be done.