November – December TIF

December 1, 2008

Oops, where am I? I’m here stitching all manner of things I can’t show photos of today. We are having gray, wet fog in the central valley today. I was out raking leaves with the energy I could muster. I had time today to check on my bloglines and find Sharon b‘s December TIF. I do think my bloglines went slightly crazy. Today it says I’ve 3,671 posts to read. I can’t be that far behind.

And I was so delighted with Sharon’s concept of generosity. It’s a perfect month to think about this. For me it ties in with both Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.  I was thinking, what could illustrate that concept?

Probably because on my blackwork sampler I’ve been diligently removing all the handshaking motifs and replacing them with other designs, hands are the first thing that popped into my mind. Hands that give and hands that receive. Something pouring from one set of hands to another.

And then I happened to glance again at Sharon’s photo. She gave me the perfect solution. I’m going to translate the red ornament into queen stitches. The oval shape is an “O” for my November TIF where the design was to be based on typography. And the inside of the ornament represents two hearts with a funnel between them. Do you see it? To me it captures the idea of generosity–the pouring out of something good from one heart to another. I’m going to see where my sketches take me.

Preliminary thoughts on SharonB’s November’s TIF

November 10, 2008

I was giving some preliminary thought to  Sharon b’s November TIF in the last four or five days. In this month’s challlenge Sharon said, use typography as an inspiration for a piece.

I was debating about stitching a design using just one letter or using one letter multiple times. That make me think about doing a piece using just one stitch that resembled a letter. So many embroidery stitches naturally form letters. The straight, fly stitch arrow stitch and cross stitch are readily identifiable letters in my language.


Then I began brainstorming about other possibilities.

The Breton stitch. I’m currently leaning toward this one since I certainly need to practice it too. Oops, I just noticed the straight stitches on the lower right. Please ignore them.


The Chevron and half chevron stitch which I favored over the herringbone which could have done some similar letters. 



I got carried away by these two stitches and will probably post some of the work I did with them on Wednesday (us, west coast).

Many thanks for the comments and suggestions on the balancing issues from Friday’s post. I have spent some great hours cutting and pasting based on these suggestions as well as some from emails. Many thanks to everyone who added to this. It has been a great help to me. If anyone would still like to add something please do. I’m still working if I was engaged by a fascinating puzzle.

October FIT and uglies

October 17, 2008

I’ve been thinking about SharonB‘s October TIF challenge.  She had two questions about our textile work space. The first, how do you feel about it? The second, what role does it play in your life? 

At the beginning of the month I couldn’t even capture a single idea about it. The first question seemed easier than the second. I have everything at my finger tips when I’m stitching. I have good light and a fairly comfortable seat for stitching. There are a couple of books within arms reach for easy reference. More are close by. Supplies are handy.

Every day has it’s problems and duties and as I’m out and about I usually have something with me so I can sketch or stitch if I have a few down spots along the way. But when I get home and can actually sit down to stitch in my work spot, it feels like I’ve flown away to a little nest. It’s a safe spot and from there I can concentrate on the work at hand.

I think I do my best work there. I find it much harder to make progress or experiment when I’m on the go or in another place. Other things are distracting me. And when there are no other distractions, my own thoughts tend to scatter more than when I’m in my normal place. I don’t have supplies readily available. Sometimes the lighting is a problem, too. 

As I began thinking along these lines, my sketches for the October FIT have been based on this photo I took sometime last year. I lost the original and had to try and reconstruct it so I suppose to some degree the sketches based on my imagination as my thoughts keep going back to original photo.

I’ll probably post an update with those sketches when I think about Sharon’s second question more. I’m still working on September’s TIF.

In the original photo the house was lined up so that it reminded me of a bird’s nest perched in the tree.  

Now to turn a corner…

I think my ugliest stitching to date is finished. 

I almost backed out of posting it. But I need it as a reminder of how much I can learn from a project that should have hit the scrap pile long before this point. I learned some lessons about color, about mixing stitches within a piece and some new thoughts occurred while I was using one of the raised chain stitches on the piece.

When I decided that I couldn’t turn it around, I actually enjoyed doing what I could with it. I didn’t spend lot of time on it, but the time I did use allowed some lessons to sink in deeply. It allowed me to see some of my design teacher’s cautions to me worked out in a way that I now know with certainty why she wisely gave them to me. And that is a good understanding to gain.

Next scheduled post: Monday (us, west coast)

Balance: August’s TIF

September 24, 2008

After my falling down the stairs design for the half way point in SharonB’s TIF challenge, it made me laugh when I found what Sharon had to say in her August TIF post. Her question for August was, what is balance to you? And her follow up question was, how do you balance aspects of your life? 

If one feel like she has just tumbled down the stairs, it should accenctuate her concern for balance. And it should be a easy design to come up with. Logical, right?

The next few photos are reflections on my difficulty to find balance in life. If smarter, I’d try putting this into a video slide show. In fact, I may have to take time out and learn how to do that. I wonder if I can photoshop in a sky or if I need to stitch it. Better yet why not make several skys to indicate the passage of time.


A well pruned life, the balanced life?

Now turning a corner…

Update: The link below is now working! Many thanks to Christine at Lady Jane’s Journal for very kindly pointing out the broken connection. If you aren’t already familiar with her blog please do swing by and acquaint yourself with it.

Every quarter when Jeanine sends her notice to the EGA list to about updates at the Italian needlework website, I say to myself, I won’t bother to mention it on my blog. Then I go see what they have put together in various pages and the downloadable antique books. I can’t help but say it is beautiful white work, please go see it. If you have special interest in hardanger (punto norvegese) or reticella, this quarterly update highlights these areas and there is much more.

Click the appropriate flag but don’t hesitate from going to the middle of the Italian page where the header says  “le novità in questo aggiornamento”. I only admire reticella and other needle laces but if I worked with them perhaps I’d find the lovely pages of work as instructive as beautiful. There are a variety of designs from intricate to simple that could be translated over into other needlework disciplines.  

As for the hardanger pages, I had my sketch book out because I was so impressed by the way I was seeing some of problem areas handled. I felt like I was staring at answers to some of my “how to” questions from older, wiser stitchers. And they were giving me new ideas about what solutions might be available.

Many thanks to Jeanine in Canada and others for work in translation at that site.

The half way mark – July’s TIF

September 17, 2008

In July Sharon b‘s question for the Take it Further challenge was, what is it to be at the half way mark? At the half way point in this calendar year, I felt like I was falling down the stairs.

This was the initial sketch

This is the most recent version

This is definitely not the final version.

Capturing the continuing motion, the immovability of the stairs and the fragility or frailness of the human person is what I’m after. Just not achieving yet.

I’m working with a new-to-me thread called Flair. It is a stretchable tubular ribbon for needlepoint according to the little card it came on. It’s nylon and more shinny than I’m happy about. But with it is sheerness I’m hoping that stitching over it or couching it may prove successful for taking the edge off a shape and showing some of the motion that I was hoping for.

Because of the tubular construction another thread can be placed inside this ribbon. I’ve tried catching the back layer of it from the back of the fabric and that worked as another alternative for attaching thread to the ground.

I’m full of how-to questions. If anyone has worked with this thread and has any tips or examples, please leave a comment, I would appreciate learning more. Or if you could suggest a more suitable thread, that would be great, too. Thanks very much.

Next post scheduled for Friday (us, west coast).


September 10, 2008

I’ve been working on SharonB’s TIF challenge this summer but haven’t been posting any of the work. I thought I’d take today’s post to catch up on June’s theme. Sharon’s final instruction was think about stories that are and stories that are possible. 

I like to look at the back of needlework as much as the front. Some people may think I have an obsession with a tidy back. I like a tidy back, but my obsession is with patterns. And frankly, sometimes stitching patterns on the back of the fabric are as interesting as the ones on the front. To me while looking at the front of the embroidery tells one story and looking at the back possibly tells another.

The double backstitch is one of those stitches that while one side of the work looks like a closed herringbone stitch the other side shows two very nice neat rows of backstitching. This is taken advantage of in the alternating double backstitch where commonly three stitches are make with the herringbone to the front and then the stitching is reversed so the double backstitching appears on the front. This is often used as a decorative border stitch. In samplers, I’ve seen this worked as a small separating line between rows of the alphabet letters.


My June’s TIF sketch has to do with looking at the back side of the embroidery.   

Here’s the first sketch

There is a reason I had a “D” in spelling when I was in fourth grade. The teacher sent an alarming note home to my mother, but I see it failed to do much good. I still don’t know how to spell.

The most recent version

As you can see I’ve made notes about how to approach the work. I’m stuck on the two different ways of doing the project. I don’t know which one will win out in the end. But at least I’ve written down the ideas…I captured them.

There is actually an idea in the initial sketch that I edited out along the way. While I was getting the post ready today. I said that’s not such a bad idea. Maybe I could do something with that later.

Next post should be up on Friday (us west coast).

May and June TIF plus …

June 3, 2008

May TIF This is my design for the SharonB’s May TIF. Her question was roughly what do you call yourself and why. My answer is that I think of myself as an explorer. I wrote this is 2006 and my thinking is still close to this basic. How did I ever get pulled into counted thread needlework on a linen ground? The opportunity to explore some of God’s simple shapes with a needle and thread caught my attention and keeps my interest. Stitches, color, design, pattern, texture that all plays apart in it. Is it the most important thing in life or in my life? No! But it is a part shared here. When I read Sharon’s post the only image that came to mind was a compass such an might be on an old map. But it didn’t convey needlework to me. Finally I thought about the twin pointed needles that are made with the eye in the center so you don’t have to turn the needle around in going back and forth between the top and under side of the fabric. I had to stylize it to get it to work as a compass. The design means to convey that when I have a threaded needle in hand I’m prepared to explore in any direction. June TIF I don’t have the full image for June’s TIF challenge. I thought as I touch the fabric or thread and begin to work with it, a story begins to come out and talk to me. I can very easily do a lot of exercises to explore a stitch but when I begin to work on a piece it’s like an unfolding story. I’ve tried ten or fifteen small sketches so far everything is rejected. I have one image in my mind that I can’t seem to get drawn out in any reasonable way. I’ll have to see what happens as the month progresses. Plus… a response to a comment. I’m so thankful for all the comments I receive. They keep me encouraged and meeting more people whose work I’m not familiar with. Some time as with the comment I received yesterday from Leena, they send me exploring. Many thanks, Leena. As she mentioned the Indian embroidery called Kutch uses a pattern very similar to the English interlacing and Maltese cross. There is a video here. And very good instruction here. Many thanks to Bhavani Harikrishnan at Needlecraft.