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.

Rivers, roads and rails

October 31, 2008

I’ve been stitching on a very small piece of fabric something about Vermont where I grew up. Rivers, brooks and ponds are plentiful. Beside the rivers are roads and beside many of the roads are railroad tracks. And tucked away some where will be small village. 

A fabric store is sometimes a delight and at others times a temptation for me. I was walking through one the other day. I couldn’t get by this piece of material. It is a sturdy cream and charcoal check. And I tried a little embroidery on it. 

The sides of the white bordered squares are about one and one-half inches. This charcoal gray has a green cast to it. And the green thread brings that out, although it is not apparent to me in the photo.

The red thread in the next photo makes the charcoal threads look much blacker. And this stitching is on the back of the fabric. I like the backside of the little border as much as the front.

Beading round chicken scratch

October 27, 2008

I’ve been working with round chicken scratch intermittently since my last post on the subject. Over the weekend I got some more beads for experiments. So I thought I’d show some of the work I’ve been doing. I’m turning the original piece into a pincushion. Nothing has fallen in to place for a good border. I’m still full of experiments but may settle for beading the center of each circle for a contrast.

Here’s the current border that’s in the original piece at the moment. Because of the honeycombed arrangement the circles, the border will not configure the same way vertically as it does horizontally.

I have two kinds of white beads. One is rounded with a hole through the center; the other is like a tiny length cut off a drinking straw. It’s no wild guess that I know little about beads. Here is a side by side comparison. I like the rounded look best for this.

A few more samples.

Saturday I received some of my old embroidery pieces back from a shop that had kept them in their cupboard. It was surprising to look at all that work and compare it to some of the things I’ve been doing recently.

Next scheduled post: Wednesday (us, west coast)

Round about again

October 15, 2008

Another round chicken scratch post. I was going to do a post on another grid that was used in my original post and then I saw that I’d not exausted the first flower grid. 


As you can see in the photos above and below, I had lots of fun with designs on just one flower grid. However, I had to use a border grid slightly modified from the one in the previous post to do the work in the photo above.

Here’s a photo of that grid and the start of the loops.


But what if I started the loops in a different place.

That’s what I did with the shapes in the top photo and the lower left of of the second photo.  The loop starts under one of the straight stitches in the center of the grid. Except at the start (s) and the end (e), the needle never goes back through the fabric but just slips under the straight stitch. When you get to “5” continue the pattern until arriving at the starting place and bring your thread down through the fabric. Pulling aside the straight stitch will hide your start and finish. In the following examples “c” means continue until arriving at the starting place.

All I’ve added is a loop around the center grid. This would be easily beaded, I think, so I’ll have to try and see.


In the example above and in the following examples “c” means continue until arriving at the starting place.

These loops are from the edge, to the opposite edge and back again and then must repeat at the next two edge stitches. In the center I did some interweaving, one loop over and then under the existing loops.  


The last examples for today’s post are below. The only difference between them is one has an extra loop around the inside of the grid and the other on the outside straight stitches of the grid. I think it would be fun to do a border that only had three prongs completed and not bother with the second start shown in the example.

If you experiment with any of this, please let me know, I’d love to see what you do. And if anything isn’t clear, please let me know that as well. I’d be glad to help as much as I’m able. 

I’ve gone beyond what would be done in regular chicken scratch because that work is usually for decorating garments that needed to stand up to daily use and washing. I’m using this primarily for something that will not get that kind of daily usage. While some of these samples would probably stand up to it, others definitely would not.

While I’m thinking about the real chicken scratch again I will mention a little more research I did on it yesterday. First, I remembered SharonB’s stitchin fingers might be a resource. And so it was. I found Karri at Karri Made has gone a great tutorial on two bookmarks. And from there I found Kay Susan had done some lovely work and has a great poston chicken scratch. Many thanks to Karri and Kay Susan!

One of the most interesting instructions leaflets on chicken scratch I’ve seen is on Lace’n’ Ribbon Roses blog. CC also has a couple of motifs in this post and the cutest duck embroidery here. Many thanks to CC and to Mary Corbet at Needle n’ Thread for pointing me over in that direction.

Next scheduled post: Friday (us, west coast)