Finishing up TSTC 2007

December 31, 2007

There was enough sun in the valley for me to get some normally editable photos this afternoon. The photographs in today’s post should prove a little more useful for understanding the Spanish feather stitch than yesterday’s. I think I’ve titled three posts, “Finishing up TSTC week …”. Today I’m not only finishing up TSTC week 52, but finishing up Sharon b‘s 2007 TSTC.

My thanks go out to Sharon for the challenge and to all those involved in the challenge this year. My thanks to all the visitors who have stopped by the blog. If you feel sad that TSTC is finishing up, please check out the blogs of some who heard about TSTC late in the year. I’ve seen several people mentioning that they will be continuing to work on TSTC stitches this year. I’m looking forward to seeing their work and being re-inspired by these stitches.

So what did those samples from yesterday post really look like?






This is another of with my experiments with couching felt.


Best wishes to all for the new year.

Filters and the Spanish feather stitch

December 30, 2007

I wasn’t able to get home in time to get pictures before the afternoon was foggy and gray here in the central valley. I rushed to take my pictures. When I started editing, it seemed like I couldn’t salvege any of them. Rather than not doing a post, I applied filters. I hope you enjoy the post, but if not please visit again on Monday (usa, west coast) when I plan to be back with normal photographs.







Best wishes to all for the new year.

Day 4 with the Spanish feather stitch

December 28, 2007

Today I’ve hardly had time to do more than hurriedly take a few quick photographs of some of the samples I’ve done. It just seems like a blur of unrelated samples. But in one way or another I’m still trying to explore the Spanish feather stitch.

I did succeed in using some thinner thread, perhaps slightly larger than a Perle 12, that stayed in place with a wider stitch. I’m so glad this experiment worked because that means more flexibility with the stitch than I anticipated. And below that picture are a couple of attempts to embellish one of the “on grid” lines from yesterday’s post.




The rest of the the work is “off grid”. The extra stitches in the first photograph are cross stitches; in the second, detached chain stitches; and of course, French knots in the third. The fourth photograph is only the Spanish feather stitch except for a little use of threading on the lower right corner.





Off and on grid with the Spanish feather stitch

December 28, 2007

It’s near to freezing these mornings in the central valley but we’ve been having a few sunny days here. I took sample photographs much earlier than usual because of it. I’ve finally been able to work with the rhythm of this stitch and enjoy the pattern of it. On the back of the fabric it produces a nice neat look, too.

To keep control of the stitch I’ve had to bring the needle up through the fabric very close to the loop of the last to begin of the next stitch. On the finer thread between a Perle 12 and 8, I’ve had to keep the stitch very narrow. I’m going to try so more experiments with that type of thread later to see if I can get any more play out of it.

I have also been slowly working on curves and circles. The two photos below reflect some of the fun I’ve been having as I tackle that work.



Below are photographs of some other “off grid” work. The first photo shows the use of a mirror image and a tiny detached chain stitch. In the second I’ve used straight stitches and French knots.



“On grid” work using various threads range from something close to a Perle 12 to approximately a Perle 5.




More work on the Spanish feather stitch

December 27, 2007

Work has been progressing on the Spanish feather stitch today. I’m finally understanding more about how to control the thread and keep the stitch stable. Unfortunately, much of the progress was made after taking the photographs for today’s post.

The samples in today post focus on threading and combinations with other stitches more than perfecting the stitch itself. This stitch is holding my attention and I think I have much more to learn about it. All the samples in this post are “off grid” work.


My apologies for the washed out colors in the photo below. The olive thread is threaded and wrapped around the loops.


My practice on curves and circles.


In the photo below is another way I tried threading around the loops. I was also working on a gradual increase in the size of the stitch. It was interesting to work on; I like the texture. But it needs to be buried in the middle of some other work. It’s nothing I’d use for a border as I would some of the other samples posted today.



Turning the corner, I thought I’d mention two of the books that are influencing my stitching plans for next year. These are not books that I’m recommending because I think my knowledge of what is available in the field of needlework is far too limited. But they are books I benefited from reading.

One of the books I’ve mentioned several times this year is Stitch Magic by Beaney and Littlejohn. I plan to blog about some of the work I’ve outlined for myself due to exercises suggested in that book. Another book concerning the work of Martha Mood came to my attention this year. While her work and subject material is not my style, her use of applique fascinates me. As a result I’ve been reading about applique and plan to do a series of posts on that subject. I’ve not decided if I will blog my work as I learn or only point to some on-line resources I’ve found helpful. Maybe I need to do a bit of both.

TSTC Week 52: Spanish feather stitch

December 26, 2007

I’m back from Christmas holiday and looking forward to this last week of the of 2007. I want to talk about two things in this post, the weekly TSTC challenge and then my plans for this blog in 2008. Many thanks to all the visitors who have enjoyed SharonB’s challenge along with me or who have enjoyed looking in on what has been happening in TSTC. Above all my thanks go out to SharonB for organizing and keeping up with this challenge. It has been a great learning experience all year, Sharon. Thank you for your dedication to all of us in the challenge, to hand embroidery and the on-line needlework community.

A week ago Sharon b announced the fifty-second TaST stitch that completes the challenge. It is the Spanish feather stitch. Sharon did a great step by step in her introduction. I should have started practicing then. I still can’t make it curve or circle gracefully. Most of what I’m posting today reflects some problems I’ve been having making even the straight lines behave. My problems slightly decreased in my “on grid” work. Happily, it’s an interesting stitch and it’s only fitting that TaST should challenge me right up to the end.

This first “off grid” sample was actually an attempt to make curves and circles. As you can see I abandon all hopes.


Fortunately the Spanish feather stitch is easily threaded. And there are a number of ways to do that although I’ve only shown one of them in today’s post.


I tried the stitch “on grid” with a Perle 8 and then tried adding French knots in a pima cotton thread to dress it up.



I did try working with a 100/3 silk. I don’t think this is the right thread for the stitch. Below is the photograph of the sample.


Sometimes I work with increases and decreases in stitch size to help me learn more about a stitch and to prepare for making curves and circles. The following samples with Perle 5 show some of those attempts. One of them almost became a tall thin lopsided Christmas tree before I was done.



Now turning a corner, I will mention some of the changes I anticipate for this blog in the year ahead. As you may know I plan to work on SharonB’s new challenge, Take It Farther (TIF). However, I don’t anticipate making the TIFC the subject of daily posts as I did with TSTC. A post once or twice a week as should cover the monthly project.

So what will I do with the rest of the week? I plan to keep on blogging about stitch explorations. For instance, I’ll be finishing up a series of posts on the Indian edging stitch that Anne Gailhbaud taught me. In the next day or two, I’ll outline a few more projects that I would like to work on in the upcoming year.

The chained bar in school girl mode

December 22, 2007

Isn’t is just like me to be a school girl mode with this week’s stitch, the chained bar, just in time to get out for the holidays. I don’t know what sent me into this more experimental mood for this last post. But I had fun trying out various materials.

The hard thing about it is that none of the experiments are up to snuff in one way or another. I was almost thinking it was a good thing that Photoshop Elements balked on me and that posting was not a good idea. However, when I gave it another try, I tricked it into opening for me. So here are the experiments.

A ribbon where unfortunately the cooper thread wasn’t able to hold the angle I was working with so there is a little slippage.


In the photo below, I loved the sparkles. The blue cord is very fat and firm but the cooper thread failed to hold up under pressure. I think I may need a cooper cord or braid. I need to hunt up my gold cord and see if that does the job. Gold might be prettier anyway.


With those two disappointing trials I switched to other materials.

Petite Very Velvet with woven chain couching.


Perle 5 using the same color thread for couching as the middle couched thread.


Then I began my felt experiments–couching felt to felt? That is what I tried. I don’t have any felt on hand to make something with a large contrast to the background but this was a lot of fun. The straight strips of felt were thin; they laid flat and curved very well. I didn’t go as far as finding out the breaking point with them. However, I’m going to definitely try more experiments with them.



Merry Christmas!


I’m on holiday and will be posting again the day after Christmas (usa, west coast).

Christmas and paper cutting

December 21, 2007

It might have been some early childhood Christmas season when I first learned about paper cutting. While I was still using blunt point scissors to cut out construction paper strips for decorating the tree with paper chains, I’d watch my mom cut out beautiful tissue paper snowflakes with the sharp tipped, “grown up” scissors. My childish mind would anxiously wait as if on tiptoe to see the feathery creations unfolded.

Perhaps that is why a few weeks ago as I was going through bloglines I was especially delighted to see this post of Ati’s at Ati on the crazy road. I loved this beautiful tree because it took paper cutting from two to three dimensions. And she pointed me on to Margreet’s blog where I lost myself in posts like this one that goes a step or two¬† beyond the displaced square exercises my design teacher set for me last year. And then she had other posts like this and this one. I’ve only quickly highlighted a few of the different styles of paper cutting Margreet does. If you’re not familiar with Ati’s and Margreet’s blogs already, I do hope you’ll take a look and see if you don’t enjoy seeing their work. They do many other beautiful things besides paper cutting or scherenschnitte, I should hasten to add. Thank you so much for your beautiful work ladies!

This month I also had another expanded square “sighting” at the Dancing Crow, a blog that I’ve been following since some time this summer. The post for December 7th features a postcard based on an expanded square design. As you may know I’m delighted by expanded squares and it’s so nice to see them translated to fabric and stitching.

I’ve only recently been able to take photographs of my expanded and displaced squares and edit them sufficiently to post. As this blog changes with the close of Sharon b‘s TSTC and the opening of her TIF challenge. I’m sure you may be seeing some of them pop up as design tools that I put to use in the months ahead.

Since it’s hard to leave the post without a photo, I’m turning a sharp corner here and posting a mini sampler of an Indian edging stitch with a slight variation.


Christmas is close at hand, I expect to do one more post to finish up the barred chain stitch. And I plan to start posting again the day after Christmas (west coast, USA) to wind up the TSTC year with the Spanish feather stitch.

More with the chained bar

December 19, 2007

I tried to work on curved and circular chained bars but I honestly didn’t make much headway. Maybe it’s the holiday mood but I’ve just been relaxing and enjoying this stitch.




Below is the only full circle I tried. Not exactly successful, but it give me something to practice on in the next few days.



The photo below shows how I stitched this little doodle…


but when I was editing the photo I wondered if it should look like this instead.


It seems like if I put some light blue lines and a few short yellow lines of thread I could make a sunset or sunrise scene with trees or some growing “thingsoutlined against the horizon.

After two great suggestions in comments yesterday, I’m off to see if I can turn yesterday’s green circle into a Christmas wreath. My thanks go out to Maureen and Karen for a great idea!

Fun with lines

December 18, 2007

Today’s post reflects the fun I’ve had making chained bars. I’ve been busy stitching some other things and just relaxed when I got to these. But I have some of the trials from yesterday and a few more things that I tried out today.



A series of rose over green.





Per my usual, the difficulty is with the circle. (And a few slipping chain links due to the angle.) Those circles and curves will be my challenge for tomorrow.