Thursday, July 31, 2008

TIF Challenge August - and Imari!

Beautiful colors for this month! Although it isn't yet August here. (tomorrow!) My first thought immediately was the Imari colors from the Japanese porcelains from which I designed my needlepoint canvases for so many years long ago. The colors will be glorious also in my new obsession - the embellished crazy quilt in needlepoint. As these colors are some of my favorites, although I favor the burgundy showing on my screen rather than the "rust" on the Imari, so I have lots and lots in my stash. I have shown this piece before - "Nellie's Imari" but will show it again, to illustrate. This is my favorite of all the Oriental porcelains I painted, and is the only one I have a copy of. If I ever achieve some semblance of "balance" in my life and work, (the August theme) maybe I'll take time to stitch it. My children assure me this won't happen - the balance part, anyway.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

SRE and Beads on Crazy Quilt (in NP)

This reminds me of someone who is complimented on beautiful hands, but then points out that she needs a manicure - causing the total focus from then on to go to her ragged cuticles. I won't point out the things I'm not happy with here, as the end result isn't really too bad. Having stitched the silk ribbon leaves on the curved seam, the next thing to do was to make the stems - By doing this first, before making the flowers, it's easier to position the whole image. Then the flowers are made - and leaves (chain stitch) placed where they need to be. Again, this is like drawing and painting with the needle and thread - or, in this case, the silk ribbon - 4mm.

I labored for hours, it seemed, making zillions of French knots in the vine - and it seemed a bit heavy until the finishing touches were added to balance the weight - the beads and the little yellow flowers. As usual, nothing looks quite like I envisioned it - it just creates itself and surprises me. The old saying about a bit of yellow in Grandmother's flower garden also holds true in this color scheme - it needed a bit of "warming up."

I stopped with only three yellow flowers, as they would have been "too much" with any more. I had wanted to make a visual "circle" here - with the flowers swirling around - but any more would have been too heavy at the bottom, and too bright. I would rather have had beads without quite so much sparkle, but these were the ones in my stash that were the right color - so there they are! Not too bad. It was just too hot to make a trip to the LNS - and besides, I have resolved to use only the stash items whenever possible. I was looking at the lower right patch last night, with the greenish teal next to it, and struck me that this would be a very pretty color for a warmer, late late summer effect with maybe some orange California poppies on it! Then moving on to fall, I had already put another color scheme into a zip-loc bag that came about by accident - just lying on my table when I was digging around for something else - pretty!! Maybe I'll take a few more days off.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Crazy Quilt Progress!

I've been working hard on this! At this point, it usually has a mind of it's own - and I just do what it seems to call for in the way of colors and stitches. First the seams have to be covered - both to hide the jagged edges of the stitching, as in the real crazy quilts (they have this problem too.) Colors are important, but in this case I am planning a "splash" of color in the flowers and leaves, so don't want the little design overwhelmed - it's only 5 1/2" in diameter. .

I'm not sure I like the little bit of buttonhole stitch at the top, but it's a short seam, and after making the planned leafy vine, it won't show up much - not worth taking out and re-doing. The leaves on the vine on the curved seam were made with overdyed ribbon - 7mm (from Thread Gatherer). I'm not sure what will happen next - but am looking at ribbons and colors from River Silks - and liking it so far. The 2mm ribbon on spools is from ThreadArts of Houston, and is great for little clusters of French knots. We'll just see what develops - I never know at this point.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Few Days Off??

I am always amused/annoyed when people exclaim over my state of self employment: " You only have to work when you want to. How wonderful!" Well it doesn't work that way. I have no paid vacations, no paid days off, deadlines to meet, and other responsibilities whether I want to or not - and there are many many days that I would fire myself permanently if I could find a suitable replacement. About ten days ago, I decided to re-do one of my "create your own" type design patterns, and put it into e-pattern form for my web page. I spent four days in front of the computer doing text and layout - and got a bit carried away, producing a monster of 26 pages. Consequently, my back "went out" and I was laid low on the heating pad for two days. Then of course, I had to catch up on work that had been waiting. Finally done, three days ago I decided to take a two or three day break and just rest myself, watch trash on T.V., read, and stitch - basically enjoying myself with no pressure. Strangely, every time I do this, I seem to produce a volume of work - and actually enjoy it! Maybe I need a serious new way of looking at this design business thing. Anyway - what I have done now is to expand on two ornaments I did a while back (stitched) in my "jeweled chains" series and draw some new ones for Valentine's and Easter. This, of course, called for some serious stash diving after I had spent time re-organizing the bags and drawers. Had to dump it all out again and dig for treasure!!

These two mini-stockings are a little bit bigger than the one I have already shown on a previous post finished.
I don't know if I'll ever have time to stitch these things, but I envision all of them in various ways with different kinds of threads and metallics - beads, etc. The enjoyment of this design - the "chains" is that different fibers give them different looks. I have quite a few threads (understatement) from the distant past when I first started playing around with "jewels" - first on Faberge' crosses and eggs, and later on jeweled sea shells.
Next - an update on what I had intended to do on my "days off" - just stitch and finish the new Crazy Quilt ornament and an older "rollie," which I haven't yet picked up. Maybe tomorrow - as I just received a huuuuge package of gorgeous silk ribbon from River Silks, which I'm anxious to try. Self employment is good after all - I do have these options at times. The new "jeweled chains" pieces will eventually end up somewhere on my web page as "e-patterns" - the kind you download, print out, and draw for yourself onto canvas, dump out your own stash, and choose your own colors! However, this is another of my options - I will not destroy my poor back again by sitting here longer than I should - will exercise self discipline and a bit of good sense. (maybe)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beautiful Bargello in Metallics!

As promised - a look at Inge Wooley's bargello ornaments, which I have had filed away in a box for about two years, intending to get them out and see if I could dissect and re-do them just for fun. Two of them appear to be prepared for making a top for one of her zippered moire' jewel cases. Anyway, her work, as always, astonishes me. When I met her, she was knitting gorgeous Aran sweaters for the Neiman Marcus downtown Trophy Room - but within a year of that meeting, she was buying my Imari canvases for her shop - and we soon started Creative Needle together for production and marketing of these things. I got lucky, as I tell people - as she has maintained the quality of the canvas design and preparation for 37 years. We still get together from time to time, and totally enjoy time spent brainstorming and exchanging ideas, etc. I think we have both slowed down a bit, but as she says, "What else would we be doing?"

The first set of ornaments is two that were done in the "4-way" style, and are quite striking done in metallics in Christmas colors. The second set shows just the regular "straight across" style with the little motifs across the center. Great fun - and probably the first I will start with to see if I can figure out what she did (lots of counting here).

The third set is, again, the Florentine style done in the 4-way format, which means it turns at the 45 degree angles and changes directions. Dorothy Kaestner did a wonderful and fascinating book on this subject in the 70's. Finishing the show and tell with one more of each style - the one on the right being a simple, traditional style design. Hopefully I can finish my present tasks and get to the fun part - trying to figure out what she did, so I can stitch them in different fibers for a different effect! These, incidentally, were stitched before either of us discovered the Kreinik metallic ribbon - wonderful stuff, as it lies completely flat and covers well as upright stitches - much prettier than the braid.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Crazy Quilt Ornament - a new one!

At this point, it is just a matter of choosing the colors, placing them onto the design - and deciding on stitches. The two patterned patches - inspired by silk tie fabrics, are more effective placed apart and not touching. After placing those, it was a matter of laying a skein of thread (Caron Soie Cristale) onto a patch to see where it looked best in the grand scheme of things.The blue/green patch on the right came about, as the original color I chose was too light, and the darker one was too dark - so inventiveness worked here! I simply mixed them to create a sort of tweed look by using T-stitch, and alternating colors on each row. It will be most interesting to start choosing the colors for the seam treatments - and then on to the silk ribbon flowers to embellish. (and the beads!)

I have shown this one before - one of my Talavera designs now produced by Creative Needle of Dallas, and inserted into the top of a gorgeous moire' jewel case (a built-in). It's almost finished, and only needs about another square inch of work, and a few more beads. I especially like the way the little green beads look placed in the diaper pattern area on the dots. I used red shimmer blend YLI ribbon floss for the bump stitches on the squares on the diaper pattern, as well as in the centers of the pink flowers. Otherwise - the pattern and vibrant color would be a mess if cluttered with any more textured stitches. The next post will be about another bit of buried treasure - this time Inge's beautiful bargello ornaments, worked entirely in metallics and in Christmas colors. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bargello and Beads and Stuff

I'm not quite down to the Jurassic level in the UFO's box, but I did find these today from the far distant past - probably about five years ago. I was speaking (by e-mail, of course) with Inge Wooley today of Creative Needle, and was reminded of the gorgeous bargello ornaments she was doing at about the same time - our minds still seem to work on a parallel even after all these years. I will dig those out tomorrow and show them. Anyway, this was, I think, about the time I discovered the world of colored metallic braids that Kreinik has - as all I had used before was the gold and silver. It was a whole new world. I was also re-discovering Bargello, and trying to remember how I did it 30 years ago. With this one, I just dug white threads out of the stash - several different kinds - and used them with different stitches for textural effect. It was an easy matter of just marking the horizontal and vertical centers of the circle, and starting in the center, as good bargello is when it's symmetric. (Those gorgeous old Elsa Williams flame stitch/Florentine patterns were different).

The next one is simply four motifs interlocked - a simple thing to do - and then the metallic braid Raised Spider Webs in the centers. The white backgrounds are stitched with my beading technique of stitching basketweave on the warp only, then filling in with beads on the weft. They look beaded solid!! The red and green stitches are made with Rainbow Gallery Frosty Rays.

If you click to enlarge both ornaments, you will notice that I make a row of tent stitch always all the way around the ornament - it makes it look neater, it finishes better, and is just more attractive. The red and green one also has two rows of basketweave around the outer edge so as not to lose any of the bargello stitching in the finishing. On the round one, the outline was stitched first, so that the bargello doesn't look ragged around the perimeter.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Challenge - "Halfway" to Where??

So far the colors for this month haven't stirred my imagination, and I'll probably just opt not to stitch anything new with them, as we are approaching the halfway mark of July anyway. My children decided last year to "temporarily" move me into my daughter's guest quarters until they could find me a suitable smaller residence than the house I was in - I had been quite ill, but apparently didn't fool them, as here I still am. I have told friends I think I'm in a Halfway House - that is, halfway to the nursing home (which looms just up the road.) My phone number is one digit different from the lovely assisted living for Alzheimer's home where I had my aunt staying for several years before her death - and people misdial and call here fairly often. However, lately, I have wondered if I am there and just don't know it. Anyway, this past six months have definitely been a landmark of some kind - not halfway through my life, as I would live to be 136 if that were so. ( I do not want to live so long that I can't dance the tango, play in the ocean, or see to do fine needlework.) The death of my beloved little granddaughter in May has brought me to the realization that this year is a sort of landmark for me - in plain words, I'm not as young as I used to be, and have moved on to the next phase - whatever that is. Granny doesn't watch soap operas and crochet in a rocking chair.!!

On a brighter note - I decided, after using up a great deal of my stash - at least what is not packed away in boxes, that I needed to go shopping for a new color scheme to inspire me. This is what I found at the LNS. I have no restraint where pretty colors are displayed. This is a big batch of the gorgeous Caron Soie Cristale that I enjoy using on my crazy quilt renditions in needlepoint. I selected a few, intending to use them on one piece - and also added some ribbon floss in the same color ranges that I had in my "leftovers."

These fibers and colors are super for the part of the CQ I enjoy most - replicating the background fabrics! Allie's new quilt has zillions of silk tie things in it, and I have studied them closely (my new colors also were inspired by this). I made an enlargement of one little patch to show how it was then translated to needlepoint - Hungarian Criss-Cross in the two colors, with little pearl beads for the white spots. Too often I see designers making patches with very colorful and busy textured stitches - but this isn't conducive to the embellishment, and is a different thing altogether. My pieces are small, so the background patches must be subdued but interesting. I do use the textured stitches, but as a means to an end and not the total focus.This is what I will do for the first one!
I have made the little dots with a pen on the weft stitches, and intend to insert beads where the same pattern is showing on the sample swatch (also an enlargement from one of Allison's ties that I saw on her quilt.) If by any chance anyone hasn't seen this gorgeous thing - look at this link.
The squarish markings at the top are to indicate placement of tone on tone stripes from another patch. The rest of the piece will be stitched with just beautiful fibers in pretty colors - textured stitches, but subtle - as background for the silk ribbon flowers and other intended embellishment. I'm never quite sure what will happen, as I don't dare plan these things in the beginning - just build as I go with the selected threads.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

More Buried Treasure

Cleaning up a bit and going through boxes yesterday, I found more! This is an ornament that was done when I had started exploring bargello again several years ago - and also making ornaments with threads in my stash. This one began as just a simple sketch of a shape - and then laying the canvas over the inked drawing. After stitch counting with the drawing pen on one side, I duplicated it on the other to make the entire outline symmetric. Notice also that the outline is worked with tent stitch to eliminate messy places where the upright and other textured areas end.

I did mark the vertical centers, top and bottom, of the ornament on canvas as a point of departure for the design stitching - then just kind of "took off" stitching. The bottom part is worked with Rainbow Gallery Flair, which I really enjoy for this sort of thing. These are easy to create, as you might just mark bands across the shape and see what you can come up with as far as color and stitches. With beautiful fibers, it's not hard to make something wonderful and colorful. Actually, there isn't much bargello on this one - I got diverted!

This poor thing has been put away for a very long time - dates back to some of my first experiments with beads. It's a bit lumpy, etc. I think I probably abandoned it when I realized I should have marked the center top and bottom, and made the diagonal stitches go in different directions - making a 45 degree angle "V". If I can find the beads I was using, I may go ahead and finish it, as it is colorful!!! Again, I used the Flair for the checkerboard effect - and, of course, Kreinik metallic gold.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Beads and SRE for Christmas (formerly a UFO)

This thing was hiding in a box, and was in the category of a serious UFO - or even an abandoned object. It dates back about ten years to the time I was investigating effects with beads and silk ribbon - but I got off on another track and forgot about it. It is just a simple ornament shape I drew, determined to make it sparkle and shine for Christmas without a lot of effort - I decided yesterday that I am in bad need of some serious practice with the SRE, so worked on it a bit.

I still need a lot of practice, but it's getting better - I stuck to the 4mm ribbon that is a bit easier than the 7mm, especially for this small space. The beads, of course, on the white background, were added last - the Sundance #250 hex for glitter. I used Kreinik metallic ribbon - 1/16" for the gold, as it's great for upright stitches and lies nice and flat.

Friday, July 04, 2008

CQ with Silk Ribbon and Beads!

Another crazy quilt heart in needlepoint is finished. This one, however, I'm not thrilled with, as I don't care for the white flower at the top right. It's a bit large to suit me, but I'm not going to take it out just yet - not in the mood for a re-do. I really need to practice more with the 7mm width, as it's been a few years, and I'm not as comfortable with it as I was. I will go back to the 4mm width, (as on the vine and the French knot "roses.") and try to remember the great assortment of flowers I used to know how to do. Like many skills put aside for a few years, it's clumsy to start over. I like the colors now that I have the embroidery done - and the effect of the beads is striking! Once again, on the green patch, I used the clear #250 beads with floss to match the silk on the background. Using green beads wouldn't have been nearly as pretty. A word to some of you who have mentioned that you couldn't find a place to order the Riversilks ribbon or the Sundance beads, these are wholesale websites, but your favorite LNS should be happy to order for you. Riversilks requires no minimum order, so that makes it super easy for the stores.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Crazy Quilt of a Different Color

Working with different colors - and this is more difficult for me than the pinks and blues of the previous heart. I made a small error in judgment on the two yellow patches, as they are a bit close in value - but when separated by a vine of silk ribbon roses, they will be fine. I wasn't in a mood to dump out boxes and boxes of threads to find the right one. - but theoretically this is working with "scraps" anyway. The patch on the top right is stitched with the very first of my "fabrics" that I worked out in the early 70's, and was inspired by the dotted swiss my mother liked for my Sunday dresses. The background needs to be plain, as I plan to add big white silk flowers - but it also needs a slight amount of texture. I marked the dots before stitching to make it easier, but, in this case, I marked the warp "bump" stitches instead of the weft "dips" as I do for beads.

Just beginning to add the silk ribbon embroidery - and again, using the beautiful Riversilks. The seam treatments are an assortment of threads - a bit of Kreinik metallic ribbon, a 2-ply strand of Baroque silk, and some Soy Lustre - all of which add interest. Now, off to do something a bit mindless - and more silk ribbon flowers tomorrow when I'm rested. Again, there was no pre-plan for this except to pull out a pile of colors that looked right together. The white flowers are needed, I think, to kind of cool it off. There will, of course, be beads for the finishing touch!!