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.


Patterns in the long and short stitch

June 23, 2007

I wanted to try some patterns with the long and short stitch. I tried some blends earlier in the week, but they are not patterns to me.

I’m making slow progress on the radial version of the stitch. I didn’t post any today. It’s not too exciting to look at yet. I’ve worked up to about three layers and ten to fifteen stitches on the third layer at an angle of ninety degrees. At least I’m not ripping it all out anymore!

Here are slivers and slices of patterns using the long and short stitch.




I might have cheated a bit with this one because I doubled up on the pattern–two longs, two shorts, two longs…


Practicing on the long and the short stitch

June 22, 2007

Here are my practice pieces with the radial version of the long and the short stitch. I can not experiment with this radial version for a long time. My skills are just not up to some of the experiments I want to try. I ripped out almost everything. I had pity on these and they survived. I still can’t do the diagonal version either–I didn’t bother to rip it out I just left it for now. Perhaps it will be a good reminder in my journal that I have plenty more growing to do.

tstc25dradialflower.png  tstc25dradial.png

As you can see I stayed with one color. I was having enough trouble managing that!

I’m thinking about just sticking with the vertical and horizontal lines. There is plenty to explore there. But it would be nice to learn the full range for this stitch.


More progress on the little piece I’ve been working on in previous days. I didn’t put in the stem for the bell flower yet. I think I’ll try a stem stitch after everything else is put down. I was able to baste in a guide for the remaining corners of the purple square. Now, that stitching should go fast when I tackle it. I brought the yellow down into the lower half of the piece. I’m debating about filling in everything behind the purple square. I’d like to try some rick rack patterns in ecru to cover up the ground.

Progress on the long and short stitch

June 21, 2007

I still am working only vertically and horizontally with the long and short stitch. But this afternoon I plan to try the radial long and short stitch. That is why I  decided to post earlier and post the experiments tomorrow.

Here is what has happened with the sampler.


The dark pink flower is finished. It does have a medium pink center. I added a few leaves and a bell flower. I might switch that out and try to do a radial stitch on that flower. I finished off the purple square in the lower right–not good. I should have basted a diagonal line before I filled up that area with the flower and leaves.

What is ahead? I think the blue flower needs beads or something exciting in the center to help break up the diagonals. Maybe a touch of yellow since I need to start pulling some yellow down into the lower area.  The upper right is looking very bare. It’s a good thing this is just an experiment on a scrap of fabric!

The long and short stitch day 2

June 20, 2007

I’ve been having fun with this stitch and getting myself into trouble, too. I tried to do some work on the diagonal. What a mess! I had to pull it all out. I hope by the end of the week I can do more but for now I’m keeping on the horizontal or vertical–traveling the same way as the threads. This is a little different than most of my samples; it’s a work in progress.


I’m using two threads in my needle and that allows me to take two colors and get a third color in between them by using a thread from each in the middle step. I did this on the larger yellow square. The smaller yellow squares are solids within themselves although the middle square is a  thread of the light and one of the dark. What I mean by solid in this case is that there is no color blending from light to dark within each square itself. I’m not sure how well the photograph is capturing these subtle differences.

The purple square (in progress) is just two purple colors also. I worked outward from the center and after I did the two threads of the lighter color I then added in an ecru thread with one light purple. Ecru is the color of the ground and I finished the square off with two ecru threads.

The pink rectangle is a mistake that I decide to keep for the time being. It is three colors. A light pink, a light pink with a medium pink and then a dark pink at the ends. By accident I pulled the wrong pink from the box when I threaded the needle for the ends. It’s more of a contrast but I didn’t hate it. On the other hand, I’ve not filled in that area with the purple square just in case I change my mind!

As you can see I’m just getting started on another flower–not sure if I’ll keep it or not and whether the center will go to light or dark. Right now I’m leaning towards light.

For any one interested in the variation from a week or so ago, I will have a post up by tomorrow. It is just taking me longer to pull together than I anticipated. It is a lot for me to think about and I’ve been stitching more samples than I expected.

On another note, I’m having some physical struggles going back a couple of weeks ago that I can’t seem to shake. While they seem minor, I’m having to keeping computer time much shorter. Please forgive me for not being about flickr and various blogs to leave many comments. I’m in and out, here and there, looking. There are so many wonderful pieces being posted. I feel badly to be going by without saying a word so frequently.

TSTC Week 25: Long and short stitch

June 19, 2007

The subtleties of the long and short stitch are exemplified by the work Sharon b posted in her introduction to this week’s TSTC. I love the unicorn and all its shading; butterfly and the contemporary samples are outstanding.

For me it looks like this will be a getting-my-feet-wet week. I’ve always been interested in using this stitch for shading but was afraid to seriously attempt it. All I remember doing is taking a few stabs at the basic straight long and short stitches for a class last year. And even then it that was for texture and perhaps sheen comparisons between threads, not for shading.

Here’s a photo of that project and I added two more squares last night. My photographs just can not do justice in conveying sheen and texture. There are some color differences because “white” is not uniform among these various manufacturers. I suppose even if all the manufacturers could use the same white in the dye, the materials in the threads might handle the dye differently.


These are the added blocks silk floss and pima cotton respectively. For some reason the silk floss is much more on color than the pima cotton.

tstc25asilkfloss.png tstc25apima.png

After looking at Sharon’s examples again, I think I did these incorrectly. The short stitch probably should have come to the half way point of the long stitch. On the color blending squares below you will see I tried that adjustment.

Here are my beginnings at blending with this stitch. My favorite thread, 100/3, used in these samples doesn’t work as well for blending as I think a floss would. I see more experiments on the way. I better stop making rash statements until I’ve got more proof in my hands. Let me say I was disappointed by the 100/3 experiments. There could be a host of reasons, including my own skill level.