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.

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.

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.


Here, there and about

December 27, 2008

I’ve been having a little time to stitch on a few things.

Sometime last year I joined the Shining Needle Society(SNS) and took a class and signed up for another in starting in early 2009. Gay Ann Rogers has a SNS classroom and I’ve been following the conversation she had started there with her Mystery in a Corner project. At Christmas she had a project on color to kick off the new term of classes. I decided to try some of her experiments and did as she encouraged throwing in a few of my own.


Jeanne at Just String has done a fourth in her Stitch Studies series, excellent posts. Many thanks Jeanne. My heart goes out to you and I’m praying for you and your the little one on the way. Jeanne is currently is in the hospital awaiting the baby’s birth. 

Here are some of my practice bits from her teachings on the detached buttonhole stitch variations.


Sharon b has a new challenge, Stitch Explorer, launching January 15. Please do consider joining in. I think it will be a rewarding experience. More people joining in will make it all the richer. Reading through the comments on her post, I’ve been so excited about those involved whose work I know and those whose work I’ve just found by following their link. I’ve updated my Sharon b’s challenge page.

I plan to be more involved in this challenge than in her TIF challenge where I’ve been having a great time doing the design but a terrible time doing the stitching. I don’t think any one of the twelve is entirely stitched and over half of them are not even started. It has definitely been a stretch for me to design more self-reflectively as many of these monthly challenges have seemed to set me off in that direction.

The closest words I find to express what I mean is to say that I generally design to say something  or show something in contrast or comparison. These monthly challenges have made me consider designing to bring something hidden to view in a more expressive, emotional way. My design teacher made me do exercises on using lines to express emotion, but all too much they remained just school girl exercises. Sharon’s challenge has allowed me draw on some of what I learned there and use it.

I’m thankful for that and what was gained in spite of having so much trouble staying focused and gathering sufficient time for TIF. Having done the color exercises in the past day or two, I’ve been wondering how much I missed by not doing that part of the TIFC. Perhaps I’ll have an opportunity for a focus on color in this upcoming year.

Still dreaming

December 4, 2008

Perhaps I’m merely drawing air castles with needle and thread. Last evening I was adding a little more to my dream and thinking about what I could do with four threads and limited colors.


I decided I could couch threads and let a little more or less of the couched colors show through. I tried more needleweaving. With that, using two colors, I trying to allow the overdyed areas move into a third and then fourth color. I also wanted to vary the stitches while keeping continuity with the first block. You might catch sight of a couple of new stitches slipping into the mix.


I also tried more practice on the spiral trellis and detached buttonhole stitches that Jeanne has been covering in her stitch study series. Please do pop over, if you haven’t caught them already. Another post  in the series just came out yesterday. I love what I’m learning about these texture loaded stitches. Many thanks, Jeanne ! 

The photo below show that area in my work from last night. More practice is in order for me. 


No dreams tonight.  My break is over. I’m back to “school girl” blackwork and hardanger tonight. But I’m planning to return to this piece.

Dreaming with needle in hand

December 3, 2008

Dreaming with needle in hand sounds dangerous. But what I mean is that sometimes I wish to relax and day dream with needle in hand–a relaxed alert. That’s just the opportunity I had yesterday evening. This piece needs some more work but the photo reflects its current state. I’ve used a number of the stitches I’ve been working on lately.


Here is a close up of a variation of a half Chevron stitch I’ve been experimenting with. I’ve used it to couch a thread of pima cotton running through a tubular nylon thread. Directly above it are a tiny fly stitches.


Here is a close up of the tubular nylon thread. It’s threaded with a three ply pima cotton thread here. The nylon thread is very stretchy so this pima cotton goes through easily. As you can see there is plenty of room for expansion. The nylon is very light blue color, the photos unfortunately don’t capture much of how the light plays against the thread.


The photo directly above and also below show a variation of a detached cable stitch used to couch threads. Below on the right, I’ve filled in the area with slanted weaving against the couched threads. 


I’m stitching on two other projects–one blackwork, the other hardanger. They are monopolizing most of my attention at the moment. But yesterday and today I decide I needed to break away, relax and stitch to my heart’s content.