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.

Expanded squares – lace border stitches

October 15, 2007

Expanded squares

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while you may remember that one of my favorite design tools is the expanded square. Just as I left for vacation I came across another post about them. It was Susan’s at Art of Textiles in this post. When I got in touch with her after vacation, I found out about her follow-up post. Here Susan shows taking one of the expanded squares and using it as a pattern for a quiltie.

Then when I came back from vacation I found Penny at Back Valley Seasons had also been at work with them and wrote about it in this post. Penny also has another blog about her sketch book you may have noticed along with me due to SharonB’s post on visual journals .

I was delighted to see this work posted on expanded squares. My thanks to both Susan and Penny for their blogs and in particular their posts about expanded squares. If you follow the links and are not already familiar with their blogs, I hope you take time to look at some of their other work. I enjoy keeping up with them in my Bloglines.

Lace border stitches

Separating scroll stitches from lace border stitches.

Did I tell you that I love to look for good used books? Yes, even on vacation. If they can be worked in, used book shops, library sales and so forth are on the agenda. Due to a used book I shipped back from Vermont and received Saturday, I’ve learned that these samples stitched last week are not considered a variation of lace border stitch but a zigzag scroll stitch.



My apologies, I hope I’ve not confused anyone. Sometimes my experiments wander too far and unknowingly I move into another stitch. Since I’m just slowly making my way through this book, I’m not prepared to name or recommend it yet. It has interesting stitches–some new and some familiar to me.

New samples on the lace border stitch



Here I played around with some kind of thread or ribbon I don’t really understand how to use. I liked using it and need to experiment more.



More playing and this might have some scroll stitches mixed in with the lace border stitches. Very disappointingly, I’ve still not been able to turn up my lost sampler from last week. As you can see looking for it and the used book cut into my stitching time.


Out, about and guitar picks

September 3, 2007

Out and about

This is a word of welcome to those new to this blog or the on-line needlework community. Thank you for visiting. I enjoy many blogs, I’ve tried to highlight a few major categories of needlework blogs on my blogroll. From there I think you may find many others of interest.

The highlight of my week was seeing the start up JoWynn Johns blog at Parkview 616. I’ve been busily reading her excellent essays as well as seeing her beautiful embroidery. She has done a lovely tree using various stitches to attach the shishas. Annie at Annies Crazy World has some wonderful and informative posts on this subject as well starting with her August 31 post and going through today’s post. And in this post she also points on to another example of more good work with shishas. And there is so much more good work on this stitch that I wish I could highlight all that I saw this week.

Gwen Magee at Textile Arts Resources posted an article worth considering on working in a series. There is a follow up post here with an Amy Lindenberger quote on the subject.

Cyndi at Layers upon Layers has done two great posts on expanded squares one here and the second here explaining how to make a digital stamp with them in Photoshop. Many thanks to Cyndi for the great posts and to Susan Lanz of Art in Stitches for pointing me to Cyndi’s blog. There is a nice profile piece on Susan there, too.

Guitar picks

This week has been rather exhausting for me. The incident with my eye took a lot out of me. What a wonderful gift our sight is to us! I’m so thankful that no harm followed, but it did limit my stitching and sent my whole stitching plan for the week in a new direction. And I am not sad about that, I explored the stitch in a different way and learned perhaps more than if things had proceeded as I’d planned.

When I began to think of substitutes for the mirrors, guitar picks stood out in my mind as a possibility.  They are made in all colors and a variety of shapes. I see butterflies and flower petals in them. They also have shinny metal look versions but the ones I saw didn’t appeal to me.


Here are a couple of trials with them.



I found the thin picks cut fairly well. I had in mind almost a stained glassed window look. I was first thinking of doing this with the CDs but started practicing with the guitar picks since I’m still perfecting a few things with my cuts on the CDs.

The alternating work I did the other day with the shisha stitch needed improvement. This went much better. I’ve used a different thread for the anchor stitching to make it clearer what I’m doing with the stitch.

tstc35ealteven.png  tstc35ealtdiag.png

News and a few more thoughts

August 25, 2007

A few more thoughts on the Portuguese stem stitch are in the post today. But first two pieces of news that may be of interest to my readers.

Where is Sharon b blogging these days? Probably most of you have already seen what is happening with Sharon b’s in a minute ago blog. But if not please click the button above for the new links. My blogroll is updated. I’ll be checking to see how my posts are affected. I may have some updating to do to keep those links working and connecting back to her posts.

I’m pleased to say that Hilary Metcalf of Textileplay has posted more expanded squares. Please do click over there and see them as well as read about the developments there, if you’re interested. She’s been working on the electronic versions and has notes available. It is such a exciting improvement from having to roundup scissors, black paper and rubber cement. Unfortunately, my Photoshop Elements can’t handle them so I need to start doing that more frequently myself. Thanks for another great post, Hilary!

Back to the Portuguese stem stitch and a few more ideas.


Here I’m experimenting with lacing two rows together and testing out the changes it make as the distance between them varies.


Here is an experiment with changing the angles of the “thorns” variation I was playing with the other day (pink thread). Then I threaded the other side of the stitch and was pleased to see how this emphasised the pink knots.


I tried doing a filler in the spiral; not too successful. It is not very neatly done at the joins and I should have used a Perle 8 instead of the 5. That would have prevented the tightness there is between the stitches and also lent more interest due to the change in height. But that’s why I stitch samples! I may learn either from both a good or a poor choice.

More threading and my favorite sample in rust and tan.

tstc34echainwhipped.png tstc34edoublewhipped.png


The unexpected and the expected

August 24, 2007

The unexpected: A mini midweek out and about

Hilary Metcalf of Textileplay posted this article about Expanded Squares. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may remember this post and how excited I was about the very same Quilting Art’s article by Jane Dunnewold. Hilary’s post includes examples of both her paper and electronic expanded squares. Thanks for a great post, Hilary!

The expected: Stitch work with the Portuguese stem stitch

This is the composite of some of the things I was experimenting on the other day. Most of it is the Portuguese stem stitch or a variation. But a few things are my own invention or fillers.


Here’s the Portuguese stem stitch at work on curves and circles.




Perhaps the cutouts are another unexpected element in today’s post. I hope they were not too distracting. I certainly don’t intend to start using them. I had problems with the normal squares and rectangles because of stitching these shapes so close together.

Blogs, Expanded squares and broken rules

June 25, 2007


I thought I would highlight the blog of another participant in Sharon b’s TAST as a way of welcoming newcomers. Conni at The Scoop, Score and Deal has a blog that I always look forward to visiting. As a Vermonter (state flower: red clover), I very much appreciated her clover for the long and short stitch. She consistently has wonderful pieces up on her blog. Here are a few of my favorites: for TaST, here and here; from the embellisher, this piece; a work in progress, Binky’s Garden. If you’re not familiar with Conni’s blog, please do have a look around since I’ve only been able to highlight a few things. Thanks for a wonderful blog, Conni!

Expanded squares

This weekend I could not find one magazine in the craft store on embroidery. Out of frustration and being at loose ends, I picked up a Quilting Arts Magazine, Issue 27. It had me hooked by one article, Design Tools: The Expanded Square by Jane Dunnewold. I bought the magazine. I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the article and I found a lot of interesting things in it for a poor embroiderer like me.

Looking around the web, I found that there is an mini article on the technique by Jane here, at her website Art Cloth Studios. There is an article done by Lin Altman, a teacher at Cedar Creek Elementary in Texas, who mentions Jane’s article and pulls in lots of links and examples done by students some of whom are seventh grade students. Unfortunately, a number of the links do not appear to be working for the Santa Rosa Junior College and that is why I’ve put in the one link to student work that did work for me.

In my design class from last year expanded square exercises were by far my favorite involving paper. I did over 25 of them. Some are definitely school girl exercises. But when I got to play with them, I was amazed by the patterns and drama of the black and white image. It was nice to see such a well written article in Quilting Arts bringing this tool to the forefront.

One thing that made me smile was Jane’s encouragement that, “Once you get the basic rules figured out, you are free to break them.” One of my expanded square designs came back with words to this point from my teacher, you broke the rules, but I approve of breaking the rules when it turns out this well. She was too kind to mention the many times I broke the rules and it did not turn out so well.

Here are some broken rules on the long and short stitch. And I’m afraid, I still don’t have the basic rules on this stitch figured out.

Long and short with mirror image

tstc25fmirrorsquaresintr.png the key element: short-long-long-short

and fun with it


fun with the French knot

tstc25ffrenchknotsopp2.png opposing each other

and layering on one another


Rick rack the basic elements


and a row of fun tstc25fslanttogetherrow.png


A long and short buttonhole rows, opposing each other and filled in. Rather a bad job because my thread and fabric were working against full coverage.

Interlaced long and short slanted and facing each other with thin thread as the next layer on both sides and interlaced.