Hearts and color

January 29, 2009

Somehow the loops I started making with the hearts in the last post lead to more thoughts along the same line. My time is has been limited in the last few days. However, thankfully I’ve hit some wait points along the way. That allowed a little time for trying out some of those thoughts.


These loops remind me of little bows.


Two more hearts. I didn’t have any red perle 5 handy, so I tried doubling the perle 8–sadly not very skillfully.


In the areas with the white double cross stitches, I was able to try a more delicate looping in the red perle 8.


I’ve been mentioning that I’m planning to make color one of my study topics this year. Here are two links I found interesting in that regard.

The first in chicken scratch experiments.

Virginia at Luna’s Baublebilites did a post using a lovely vintage fabric and great experiments with chicken scratch in this post.

The second in regard to the broader subject itself.

Orna Willis at Ornamentshas just started a weekly series on color. Do please stop by to read the announcement and see what’s going on, if you haven’t already seen it.

Many thanks ladies!

And many thanks to all of those continuing with chicken scratch experiments. One I was particularly excited about was Mandie’s work with lettering in this post. Please keep checking back with Sharon b‘s original January Stitch Explorer’s post for more chicken scratch work. I’m so pleased with what I’m seeing popping up there as people add their comments with links. Here I’m passing over so many others that are excellent and have been inspiring to me, I’m thankful for everyone linking back to Sharon.

Corrections and hearts

January 26, 2009

Sorry to have been absent from the blog the last several days. My dad has been rather unsettled but things are looking up and he has some new things to try. In the meantime, I’ve done very little other than make some corrections to the chicken scratch posts. I think I’ve corrected all the references to eyelet stitches to double cross stitches now, but if you find any I missed please let me know.

Do you ever have dreams that wake you up knowing you have to fix or attend to something? That’s what happened to me on this. I knew the stitch but I was calling it by the wrong name in my all the posts. The dream was so startling that I woke and sat bolt upright, sure enough the dream was true. Please forgive me if I’ve caused you any confusion.

Just before this turn of events for my dad, I’d had the opportunity to go to a local fabric store. I was looking for material for chicken scratch. I wanted a slightly larger check than the charcoal and cream fabric provided and something that was substantial enough that it didn’t have to go into a hoop like the aqua gingham.

This is what I found.


I like the weave. This photo doesn’t pick it up entirely but there are two different weaves. It is most easily seen on the navy threads going vertically as opposed to those going horizontally. On the other side of the fabric there are very dark lines and very light lines so that the checked pattern is less pronounced.

Here is the chicken scratch that I tried.


I’d seen so many patterns with the chicken scratch squares being filled in to make heart shapes that it made me curious to see if it would work for the looping also.

And as you may notice I’m still using this to further some of my color study objectives for this year. I’m learning more about what makes chicken scratch work and so much of it revolves around color.

Giving chicken scratch butterfly wings

January 22, 2009

For some reason the contrasts between chicken and butterfly wings make me want to laugh. But doodling around with chicken scratch last night, I tried out butterfly wings. They may need more perfecting but here are two versions (upper left/ lower right). The others are just doodles.


As you may have noticed the lower row is trying out a pattern of two mirrored and one off set row of double cross stitches. I like the flower shape that came out of that.

Some other doodles.



A few experiments with arrow stitches and a couple of other thoughts.  Maybe you will pick out a triangle or tear drop shape. The stitches above the tear drop work like fly stitches tied down by a detached chain…I think…maybe not I might need to think that over…

The central valley is gray, wet and rainy today.

Color and fly stitches

January 20, 2009

To me one of the appealing things about chicken scratch on the traditional gingham is the way the stitching may void out some of the three color blocks. The minimum grid is four blocks, one block each of color # 1 and color # 2 and two mixed blocks 50% of each color. And colors can pop one way or another depending on the thread color and stitching pattern.

I had fun with this concept and working with the fly stitch rather than the traditional double cross stitch or cross stitch.


The sample above shows one third of the dark and three fifths of mixed blocks knocked out by the stitching in the five gingham rows of this pattern.  


Above, the stitching tends to knock out all the 50% blocks and leaves the extremes. In this case the cream and charcoal blocks. Now imagine what would happen if I used a black or white thread instead of the red. 

This next pattern with the cross stitches knocks out the dark blocks, cuts through the light blocks and preserves all the 50% blocks. What if I’d laced with a white thread and what if all the stitching was with the white thread? It is not only the change the stitching makes to the stitched squares but in contrast to the rest of the fabric. If you didn’t follow this link in Sharon’s Stitch Explorer post, Linda at Chole’s Place has an inspiring collection of chicken scratch photos that address this visually. Many thanks for making this collection and many others available to us, Linda.


And turning back to the fly stitch, where did the idea of using the fly stitch come from? It was from seeing the work of my friend, Anne Gailhbaud, with the heart shape in her chicken scratch. Many thanks Anne for helping me to see more possibilities. As someone wrote me in a comment, I love the metamorphosis from where we start to where we end up. Me, too.

And what inspiration I’m receiving from looking around at various blogs. I hope everyone interested will keep checking back on Sharon’s original Stitch Explorer post. There is such good and innovative work with chicken scratch out there to see right now. If you haven’t jumped in and tried it I hope you will.

Shifting gears

January 18, 2009

I was busily working my long cross samples when Sharon b‘s January Stitch Explorer post popped up. I knew I wanted to start learning and experimenting with chicken scratch. But for some reason, I kept stitching those long cross stitch samples and thinking about how I should be pulling out fabric for chicken scratch. And suddenly my mind engaged with my stitching. Why not try rice or boss stitches for cross stitches and double cross stitches. They give places for loops to slide through, too.

Here is the photo of where I shifted gears in my sampler and started running with the chicken scratch.


The photo below shows where I was trying various loops. And in the top area (right side of photo above) I have a grid prepared for testing more.



So many other ideas are popping into my mind, I must do more trials and see what happens.

Now I have saved the best for last.

My friend Anne Gailhbaud sent me an email with cheery, inspiring photos of her work with chicken scratch. Anne’s embroidery is so bright and full of good ideas. I love the beads added to these hearts. It is my joy that she shows me her work and increases it by giving me permission share these photos with others. If you aren’t familiar with her work please swing by her website where you may see a fuller range of the work she does.


A close up



Please do keep checking back with Sharon b’s post. As I’m finding more people working on this January challenge, it is so exciting. I love the energy of the ideas that are flowing from so many fellow stitchers.

Sharon b’s Stitch Explorer Challenge

January 16, 2009

I’m so excited about the chicken scratch work already showing up in the comments on Sharon b‘s January Stitch Explorer post.  I hope everyone will take a look, follow the links and see whats going on. From what I’ve seen there are new ways of looking at chicken scratch in the making.

I found a color test, some new looping and ribbon looping threads from Diane Matheson. And there is a great idea for a ground from Diane Roeder. And I’m just mentioning a couple of things briefly. There is more there to see, and probably by now even more than when I last looked. Sharon’s own samples have been firing up my imagination since Wednesday (us, west coast). Many thanks Diane and Diane and to all those involved in the challenge who are linking right back to Sharon’s post so others can find you. If you haven’t joined in the Stitch Explorer challenge, here’s a link to the details.

I’m still in learning mode about this type of embroidery. I’d tentatively thought about taking some more time with it this year. But now it is sooner rather than later in the year and I need to get busy and pull out some fabric and thread.

Long cross: diagonal

January 14, 2009

Last night I was wishing for a tiny delicate plaited stitch for a border. I began working with the basket stitch, but it was too bulky. So I started playing with an old idea–one quarter of a rice stitch or a cross stitch with one long arm. It was the right kind of chilly January evening to playing with a thread that always reminds me of winter’s tans and purple-grays.


The second band is the basket stitch. I should have probably pulled up some old samples on the rice stitch. But some times its nice to revisit an old trial to see if anything fresh comes to mind. 




One single stitch by itself? I ran out of time but I’ve marked it to try something more soon. 

As these photos show this is more like a spot sampler. Each row is no more than about an inch across on 32-count linen. I put down just enough to give an idea of the pattern developing and then move on to the next line.


Color tests

January 12, 2009

I tried some color tests a couple of weeks or so ago. And in the meantime someone suggested trying tests with a rice stitch. Playing with three colors is easily possible when making rice stitches over four threads. Since the rice stitch is one of my favorite stitches, I couldn’t resist putting three threads to the test.


The test worked great, sadly the experiments haven’t photographed well. There is more of a rusty peach look to the colors than photos captured. One of the fun ways I tested it was looking at it from a distance where I couldn’t see it distinctly and then slowly walking closer until I could see every stitch.

I want to spend time this year studying color. I have several books I want to plunge into. I don’t know if more formal study will be possible, but I’m looking around for opportunities.

I started using canvas for these tests but I think I will transfer over to a linen ground since that is usually what I work with. These are colors that I’m using in my hardanger piece. One thing that has caught my attention is the difference the ground color makes. The hardanger piece is on fabric matching the middle thread. The white canvas I’m using here makes a difference. I should love to be expert enough to try painting the canvas and doing more tests along that line.

Here’s a close up of what was happening. Tests 1 and 2 used the darkest thread as the initial cross of rice stitch. Tests 3 and 4 used the middle thread and 5 and 6, the lightest thread for the base cross.


A stitch: not much on wave and curves

January 9, 2009

The continuous “A” stitch didn’t do well for me on waves and curves. Or is it that I can’t do well with waves and curves on any stitch? Regardless of where the difficulty is, here are some photos of the trials that went on. Most of them look like peaks and valleys to me.




I had to try one grid and a non-continuous one at that.


A stitch: continuous unbroken lines

January 6, 2009

I decided to take the “A” stitch in a new direction and start playing with continuous unbroken lines. As I was thinking more about the way the stitch “A” stitch was made, the up and down buttonhole stitch came to mind. It has a similar action in the way the thread is worked back though the loop. It seemed reasonable that if it is like a buttonhole stitch I should be able to make it in a continuous unbroken line.

These samples are the results.




From a distance a little distance.


Next planned post Thursday. I’m planning to work with waves and curves today and tomorrow.