Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Hare Crewel Embroidery

This is my finish for the week:
As you see more crewel embroidery. This has a little bit of spring feeling to it, which is good timing because the weather is improving quickly! I didn't really plan it, but this to me has a little bit of old time sampler feeling. I like that. I might think of other ways to bring that feeling out.

I wrote a long post about Pinterest, but I wasn't sure this was the best place for it. I have to think about it. I am not writing about how to use it, but rather how to protect yourself from it. They are basically uploading your photos to their server and claiming ownership whenever someone "pins" something of yours. A flurry of articles is being written, and most are calling it wholesale copyright infringement. I think a lot of crafters and artists need to be very wary. Personally I welcome people to use my images IF I get proper credit, but in this world, that is not a given, so I am going to be marking my photos from now on, even if I think it ruins them in a way.

Now I have to see what projects there are for doing! I am waiting on some needlepoint canvas to come. Am I about to start needlepoint? Well, there will be some but what I really need is a sturdy fabric so I can try my hand at some projects with more dimension in them. There is lots to learn. It should be fun!

Friday, February 17, 2012

February Embroidery Journal Project

Yesterday you got a sneak peak with my tutorial. Today you get the finish!

First a few details about the project. I stitched this on plain woven cotton. I used Appleton crewel wools throughout. Lots of long and short, but a few other stitches are in there too, stem stitch, split stitch, french knots, satin stitch and couching. I wanted some interest in the background but nothing to overwhelm my little bird, so I chose to add some beads to give the feeling of snow falling. They look dull in the photo, but in the light they add a lot of sparkle. They are nice contrast with the fuzzy wool. This here shows by the way that "stumpwork" or raised embroidery as I really prefer to call it, is not just meant to be stitched with fine cotton and silks, but any thread you can imagine. So this I call my crewel stumpwork project.
Now for the reason I chose this subject. This bird is the great tit. I feed the birds all year round even in the summer. The woods surround us (the woods don't actually have many birds in them as they are production forests not natural forests - more about that another day) but when you come to our property you can hear the birds singing. These little birds stay here all winter long and keep me company. They are one of the most common birds in Sweden and have a truly wide variety of songs, but some are reserved for the spring and summer.
 Like many of you, I long for spring, the winter is long and dark here. So it was quite a welcome surprise and a reminder that spring is on its way when I heard the first mating song already in the middle of January. The days are growing longer fast now, the sun shines stronger each day, but the air is still cool, and the snow remains on the ground. But these little birds are in a hurry just as we all are.

My little tribute to the birds wouldn't be complete without a photo of a real one. This is a young fieldfare. I'm counting the days till new life flutters around us.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Embroidery Slips Tutorial

This week I have been working on my embroidery journal project, and I thought I would take the chance to show a useful embroidery technique. Making slips has been around for centuries. It was a convenient way to make an embroidery that could be moved from one object to another when the background fabric got old, thus preserving the work. So what are they and how do you make them?

Embroidery slips are bits of embroidery that are sewn on one fabric then appliqued to another. They can be fully stitched in or partially. They can be stuffed in order to give dimension to your embroidery. They are widely used throughout stumpwork, raised embroidery, for this reason.

So the first thing you need is a design! I have made these slips many times  now, and I recommend always enlarging the area to be attached by about 7% - this number will be higher for small objects. How can you tell how much that is?  I made a little graphic of my before and after to demonstrate this. In this example it's maybe 1/16 inch.
This is something to consider to when planning your slips: It is really difficult to make nice little points. So in this example. I don't include the beak. It's easy to stitch those little details on at the end.

Next, you really should embroider as much of the background fabric as you can before attaching your slip because it will be in the way and might get worn or dirty. So that is what I have done:
A note about marking the fabric with the slip is to be attached. I have had troubles in the past with the slip not being the size I intended, so I really recommend that you mark it very lightly or with washable ink because it is very difficult to get the slip to sit exactly over the lines.  It's a little hard to see, but I marked the beak, the top of the head, the lower belly, and a little on the back. The tail feathers are also a reference point too in this example.

Next mark and stitch your slip on another piece of fabric. Then cut it out leaving about a quarter inch seam allowance. You will need to trim curves and points a little which I haven't shown in the photo.
Then turn under the seam allowance. You can use pins to hold them down. I always pin the slip to the fabric by just poking the pins straight down. They will be in the way, so you have to work around them, but it is simply to bulky to pin them properly. At the very start you need to go slowly and be sure the slips stays where you want it to be as you make your small stab stitches.
If you plan to stuff it, start in a place that is easy to leave a little opening. I chose the back of the bird. I have used floss, but I think sewing thread is best for attaching the slip. This time I used hand quilting thread. It's extra strong.  Continue around the shape making little stab stitches.

When you have a little open space for stuffing anchor your thread to the back of the fabric so it doesn't pull loose while stuffing.  I have done these with very small gaps, but this one allowed me a little extra space, so my gap is maybe 3/4 inch. You will need something sharp but blunt at the end to push in the stuffing. I sometimes used tweezers I hold shut. It can even work holding your embroidery scissors closed, just don't push to the edge.
Stuff your shape lightly. It nearly always bulges a little on the back, so don't make it stuffed like a pillow.  Then close your opening with more stab stitches.

The next step is optional, but it separates the pros from the amateurs. It takes a little extra time, but it improves the appearance substantially. You will need to go around the edge of your shape and make little straight stitches with matching embroidery thread to cover where the fabric and the slip meet.
Go around the whole shape like this. For this example, I also extended the stem stitching on the wings by 1 stitch to cover the gap.
You can seen above that I have covered all around the edge. I also added a few straight stitches for the beak, coming up through the slip and down in the back ground fabric. If you do it the other way, you will squish your slip down.

And now you are done!!
My little bird really stands out from the fabric.  More and better photos are coming when I am finished with the project.

Final notes. This technique is not hard, but it does take a little extra time and patience and some practice. It really does look great in the end, so I highly recommend it as a way to make your embroideries more interesting.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chevron Stitch Sampler

I've completed my chevron stitch sampler. This is for this past week's TAST.
I numbered my variations, so I could easily describe them.
1. The basic stitch
2. Chevron stitch can easily be varied in height, width and width of the horizontal stitch. I just have a few example shown, there are many more possibilities.
3. Here I have woven through the bars with a contrasting thread.  There are many other ways to whip, wrap and thread this stitch.
4. In these two examples I have made the stitch in discrete units.
5.There are many ways to make rows of this stitch that line up in different ways in order to fill an area.
6. Overlapping rows make a denser filling and have a lot of interesting texture.
7. A row with varied heights.
8. A row of irregular stitches.

This type of sampler seems to suit me, so I plan on continuing with them. I am up to 14 little samplers now. And I do actually find myself referring to them when I am looking for a stitch to use. I would encourage everyone to do some sort of sampler where you just focus on making variations as they are a great way to get an idea of the possibilities the stitch offers, and you will learn a lot about how it looks on the fabric.

A note about the fibers I use: For these samplers I use linen thread in different thicknesses, wool in both crewel and tapestry weight, and soft cotton yarn. I like these threads for their thicknesses and the texture they add.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bee and Flowers Stumpwork Embroidery

I have to admit that this project tested me. I wasn't at all happy with it as I went along. I was determined that it would be finished though.
Hard to say what exactly bother me so much. I can tell you though that I thought the bee body looked very odd when it was just the fuzzy yellow and brown, especially next to the flowers. After I add the beads and antennae it suddenly looked much better. The wings of course helped too.
I made everything with cotton threads but the bee body. Those are Appleton wool threads. I just wanted to try a different look than cotton offered. It worked out in the end.

Now I put this aside and see what is next on the list! I am going to do a chevron stitch sampler next, and maybe the herringbone too. Then I plan to do my February journal project. I already have a picture  ready to stitch. Then there is a rabbit waiting for me. You see, there is much to do! :) I have a new side hobby I am going to show soon too. I just need to get some scans. I have a lot to say about it so I have to think a little.  I'll be back soon! :) Until then keep those needles flying!!!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

TAST in a row

Everyone is making such lovely compositions with their stitches! If you haven't seen them, you can pop over to Pin Tangle or Stitchin Fingers and have a look at some of them. I sat down and wanted to try a composition too, but I just wasn't excited about what I had drawn, so I just picked up my needle to see what I felt like doing. It turns out I just wanted to make some simple rows with the stitches.
So far we have feather stitch, buttonhole stitch, cretan stitch, herringbone stitch, and fly stitch. I think it's great to see them side-by-side. It gives you the chance to see how each has a different movement and feeling. (Remember to think of them as brush strokes!) I will continue making rows of stitches on this cloth. I may add variations, I don't know. Sometimes you just have to wait and see what feels right. I didn't re-post my sampler that I had made for summer stitch school for cretan stitch.
Tomorrow is a new stitch. We will see what fun there is to have with it!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cross Stitch WISP

I haven't been as fast as I had hoped, but I am making steady progress!  Enough so to justify a little update.

I made this design in honor of my mother who is a quilter. So of course, guess who I am stitching this for. I just have to be done by June, which I can surely manage! It's a nice project, and I already know she is going to like it!

Europe is in the midst of a deep freeze, but it's perfect for staying inside and getting lots of stitching done!!  Next I have to catch up a little on the TAST stitches. I got behind. Also time to think about this month's embroidery journal project. It feels like winter should be my subject, but I don't know about that. I am counting the days until spring starts!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Love Birds Crewel Embroidery

Hi, I rested a few days last weekend and spent some time thinking about what projects I most want to do. Sometimes the way isn't always so clear, and I get easily distracted. We'll see in the days ahead if I can focus in on what I most want to do. In the meantime, I at least found a fun project to do! I call it Love Birds.
I like the feeling of the birds flying towards their nests. Feels a little both of Valentine's day and spring. The colors are soft to add to the feeling.

Something a bit unrelated that has been on my mind late is that I hope I can find some balance with the blogging. I admit I am very alarmed by the ever-decreasing privacy we are allowed on the web (which itself has become a sign that you are suspect). It used to be no one would use their real name or post family photos, now the opposite is routine. There are profound implications of this new behavior. It feels better to consider those than rush out and write about all the details of your life. So I refrain from showing too much about myself and the other things I do because I really intensely dislike that my life can be sold to the highest bidder. Think twice about what you write and post. Even the most innocent can be twisted in ways you didn't even imagine by those that collect and save your data. I feel compelled to limit myself to my stitching and a few nature photos here, even if it makes me more distant and less "social". I know there are still many stories to be told even if I am selective!

In case you wonder where that all came from, this issue has been in the news and on my mind lately. I and many fellow crafters are completely reliant on the web. It's worth a putting a little thought into what we put out there because it will follow us around for a long time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 2012 Embroidery Journal Project

A new month begins, and so it's time for a new month of the embroidery journal project.  If you want to know more about this, please visit the embroidery journal project page.

After you completed your project please post a link here.  It will be easy for me to collect them then.  There is also a Flickr group available to send your photos to as well. 

Thank you so much for joining in!!