Thursday, August 27, 2015

A little of this ... and a little of that...

This summer is just flying by.  It's hard to believe it's August already and it seems too soon for leaves to be changing colour, but I found some this morning!

The weather this past week has been absolutely dreadfully hot hot hot!  The worst kind of hot. The kind that comes with mugginess, high humidity and no sun.  Everything has been sticky and gross.  It was so hot that I finally broke down and pulled out the portable air conditioner. 

The sun finally peaked through this afternoon.  Although, it's only going to last a couple of hours according to the weatherman, we're taking full advantage sitting outside and relaxing watching the birds and squirrels.  Below are some of the things we've been seeing a fair bit of in the backyard lately.  
Blue Jay in the bird bath re-purposed as a bird feeder.

Squirrelly - I think I have a dozen of these little guys running around.
On the stitching front, I've worked away on Seville. I've used one full skein of yellow so far and I've only finished half of the first page. 



I've also worked on Summer Tree of Stitches, an old WIP that was a SAL in the Stitch Specialist Group on Yahoo.  This one is easily a couple of years old now, so I don't have a before pic to easily show what I've done.  I completed the light and dark pink square like stitches, the blue stitches and the light purple lazy daisies. 

 I think I'll stick with this one whenever I feel able to work on something a bit more complex because it's almost done.  It really reminds me of a whimsical tree from a children's book and each section of leaves should tell a story. 

Time to get back to stitching for a bit.  A la prochaine!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Prick and Pounce and hand embroidery

Hand embroidery can be a bit daunting if you've never tried it before.  When using old retro designs, there is no colour pallette already decided for you and you also need to decide on the types of stitches to use.  Plus, there is the whole issue of transferring the pattern onto the fabric.  All of this takes some thought and some preparation.  

Another challenge in hand embroidery is transferring the design.  There are so many ways of doing it. Recently, I ordered the prick and pounce set from Berlin Embroidery.  After a lot of reading, it seems to me that this is probably one of the oldest ways of transferring a design and it looks like it still gives a crisper transfer.  

Pictured above is everything needed for using the Prick and Pounce method.  A steel pricker where a chenille #10 needle is inserted, a pouncer which is more or less a piece of wood that has pieces of felt attached to each end, a container of pounce dust and a Bohin retractable pencil that uses chalk instead of lead.  The kit includes white and grey leads and I chose grey pounce dust.  

I also ordered an extra package of needles because these ones seem pretty hard to find around here and a yard of cotton muslin that has a higher count than what I can buy locally.  The fabric is without those little puckery flecks that you get in the muslin that is used for sewing.  According to Tanja Berlin this fabric is ideal for thread painting, which is what I would really like  to try and it also makes a good backing when stitching on fabric that might be a bit too flimsy for hand embroidery.  

So, last night, I pulled out all of this stuff to give it a go.  I searched the pictures in the Hoop Love Group on Flickr (which is an amazing source for out of print retro transfer patterns that do not violate copyright policies).  I decided on a modern looking teacup pattern.  

The next step is to take a heavy piece of tracing paper and copy the design onto it.  It is recommended to use Vellum paper, however,  it's very expensive and difficult to find.  Vellum paper is a natural paper made from animal skin.  My kit came with a small piece of it, which I decided to save for later. 

I used Dura-Lar instead.  This stuff has a plastic feel to it which makes sense since it's synthetic.  It isn't cheap either (around $25 at Michael's), but more affordable than Vellum when you use a 40% off coupon to buy it.  It has the same level of transparency as Vellum and it is about the same weight, maybe a bit heavier.  The difference between the two is that Dura-Lar is extremely smooth and the Vellum paper has a bit of a grain to it which makes it stay in place better.  Also, I think it would be easier to pierce the Pricker needle through Vellum than the Dura-Lar.  

Once the design is drawn onto the transparent paper, you set it onto a towel or two and pierce holes on the lines all the way around the drawing.  The more holes pricked into the paper means the lines will be more complete because more pounce powder will fall through the holes. Below is the result.

The next step is to attach the drawing onto your fabric.  I attatched it with pins.  Then lightly dip the felted end of the pouncer into the powder and rub it over the holes in a circular motion.  This pushes the powder through the holes and onto the fabric.  

The very final step is to take the Bohin pencil and connect the dots on the fabric left by the pounce.  As you can see below, this process gave me a very crisp pattern on the fabric.  

Since I haven't actually tried an iron-on transfer, I can't really compare. However, I think this turned out well and aside from it taking awhile to prick the pattern into the paper, it is fairly simple.  I do understand why the iron-on transfers are probably more popular since it is probably a lot faster and not as messy.  The pounce powder is very fine and definitely a little messy.  

Now it's time to stitch!  Since I was testing this whole process out, I decided to put the pattern on a couple of little tea towels that I made a couple of years ago.  I always planned on embroidering something on them.  I simply stem stitched around the cups with Perle Cotton #8 in red (DMC 321).

This was a fun little project that was completed from start to finish in one evening.  My stem stitch might need a little bit of work, but I think the towels turned out pretty cute. 

Thanks for reading!


Friday, August 07, 2015

Simple things

Recently, I started a little Sweetheart Tree tiny sampler.  There is some over one stitching and some backstitching, and beading.  Oddly, the over one stitching didn't phase me at all, but when I got to the backstitching I sort of hit a mental block and had to set it aside.  It sat with just the center alphabet completed for a few weeks.  I worked on some other, simpler things in the meantime.  Anyways, tonight, I finally picked it back up again and decided to tackle the backstitching.  As you can see I didn't get too far, but it is a start.  (sorry for the blurry picture)

Tiny Spring Violet Sampler
Sweetheart Tree

I've been learning a lot of new stuff at work (I recently changed departments) and I haven't felt like exerting myself to work on anything too difficult.  So, while this cute little Sweetheart Tree pattern languished in the background I made up this cute little strawberry from the Covered Buttons kit by Jeanette Douglas.

Covered Buttons
Jeanette Douglas

This little kit is the cutest thing.  It includes the threads to make three little buttons and one button form. I still have a lamb and a flower to make and since I'm not sure which one I'll make into the button, I haven't finished the strawberry yet.

After I finished the strawberry, I still didn't feel like backstitching, so I looked for something that had no backstitching.  The first thing that caught my eye was an Assisi pattern in a recent Just Cross Stitch issue called Seville.  This pattern is exactly what I needed.  No colour changes, no backstitching.. just plain cross stitch that allows for some much needed meditative stitching.  It's quite a large design, but it's stitching up quite quickly considering the amount of time I've been able to put towards it.

JCS June 2015

It's being stitched on a piece of cream 36 count linen that has been in my stash for years.  I decided that it was time to use it up. For some reason I had a  bunch of this yellow DMC thread in my stash too, so, I decided to use it as well... I have no idea why I had so much of it in my stash, but I did.   I hope the yellow will be enough of a contrast,,,,

So, for now, I'm slowly working away on these and hopefully, eventually, I'll have the mindset to do something a bit more complicated.

Enjoy your weekend!!