Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 10 Dec 2014

Yay!  A WIPW update post to share!

There's very little change since the last post on this piece back in early November.  I've just done some bits of dark green on the bottom left hand side.  I think I'm going to finish this corner before moving on anywhere else.

Actually, it's a bit awkward working in that area, but I'm managing it OK.

There are two shades of green down there, but it's hard to tell - even on the piece itself.  One's only very slightly darker.  Might consider changing one of them if they occur together much in other parts of the picture.

The 'Work in Progress Wednesdays' weekly project check-in is run by Sharon B over on Pintangle.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 8 December 2014

Needlequest - November round up and December intro - Miniature Work

Sad to say that November was a bit of a dud month for most of us on the Needlequest.  =(

* I meant to do the orange(s) piece and still will (with a new finish date of 3 Jan 2015 or before), but I didn't get to it last month.  Actually, apart from a bit of knitting, I barely touched a needle of any sort last month!

*  Pamela did a little bit on her stumpwork WISP, a pretty floral, but found she couldn't get into it either!!  However, she did get the piece she got back into commission during her first NQ month in May completed, a coloured blackwork alphabet sampler.

* Dorte did quite a bit of catching up and completed some leaves for the September autumn topic, which she plans to use on her stumpwork sample for the November topic, when she can get to it, and worked a fluffy thistle piece for the October 3D stitches theme.

Moving on now to the last topic of the year, which is miniaturisation.

What does miniaturisation mean?  Well, it can mean whatever it means to you, as is often the case.  The only requirement is that it's something smaller than usual.  For instance, those keen on thread painting may like to work a small piece like some of Trish Burr's miniature designs.  Perhaps try some half size cross stitch or another counted thread technique and finish it up into something tiny as well.  There are so many options!

A classic area of miniatures is, of course, things for dolls and doll's houses.  That's what I'm planning to do as, as many readers know, I'm hoping to get into miniature textiles production and sales in the near future, so I'm planning to use this month's challenge to help me develop some ideas.  Below you can see one of them in the shape of a tiny sample of hardanger worked on 40ct linen over only 2 threads as opposed to the usual 4 and in much finer gauges of thread than normal.  You can compare the size against this full scale 22ct piece.

I'm hoping to produce a few tiny hardanger soft furnishings in the fullness of time and a few other things as well.

Some time ago, Kathy of The Unbroken Thread blog (which I'm sure many of you follow already, and if you don't yet, I encourage you to start now), sent me these tiny samples of high count linens from her own fabric stash so I could get an idea of what they're like.  As she lives on the European continent, her counts are per centimetre, so I've measured them in the the more familiar (in much of the English speaking world) counts per inch and noted them down.  High count linens are fabulously expensive, so I greatly appreciate Kathy's generosity in sending me these samples!  Mwah, Kathy!

I also want to have a go at some 1:1/12 scale doll's house bedding and scatter cushions, as well as some tiny blackwork etc.  I don't expect to get all that in this month, but I have so many ideas that it'll be hard to get them in at all, never mind just this month, especially as I'm experiencing a language learning and writing fit at the mo and others need me for proof-reading a bit too.  The real proof-reading extravaganza will come in the spring when Sir's doctoral thesis will be being finalised for submission....

Finally, for general interest and information: I mentioned about the word 'mojo' last post, which some readers were unsure of, so here's the definition from good old Wiktionary:
mojo (plural mojos)
  1. A magic charm or spell.
  2. Supernatural skill or luck.
  3. (slang) Personal magnetism; charm.
  4. (slang) Sex appealsex drive.
  5. (slang) Illegal drugs.
  6. (slang, usually with "wire") A telecopier; a fax machine.
The idea in talking about "getting one's mojo back" for something, seems to have something to do with the first two definitions, perhaps coming from the idea that one could, by some magic spell or other, induce interest in oneself or others.  So maybe that explains why I'm not so keen on its usage.   =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Friday, 5 December 2014

Is it December already?

Goodness me!  Have I really neglected my blog for a whole month?  Wow!  That must be a record.  Well, here I am in the usual one piece.

My main reason for not posting was lack of anything interesting stitch-wise to report.  There have been other things - illness, being busy with day-to-day stuff, stress etc, but plain lack of productivity (related to the other reasons!!!) is the main cause.


I made it to the Harrogate K&S Show this year after being afraid I couldn't go.  In fact, I had a better, longer day there this time than I had for a while.  I also realised how dehydrating the place is and made a mental note to pack twice as much liquid next year so as to avoid the feeling of being very achey and tired most of the day.

I also got some great new stuff.  The first picture is the threads and the lovely, fine-point scissors.  I bought my first Stef Francis threads (the gold one) and also my first Japanese thread (the multi-metallic one).

The second shot is of the contents of a bargain pack of light evenweaves I picked up for only £8.  There are 8 pieces in there, all good project sizes, some larger, and some even seem to be linen or linen-look fabrics.

I also got a couple of packs of small pieces from a different stall.  I enjoyed looking at Jane Greenoff's little fabric sampler books and thought these smalls would work well to make up one of my own. =)

The next photo, and the last from the Show, is of the four pieces of silk I got from The Silk Route, one of my favourite stands.  I'm still interested in making miniature textiles for doll's houses and I thought the one on the far right especially would be great for 'the gentleman's room' stuff.  The piece on the far left is actually lemon, not cream, and I just bought that for the sheer pleasure of it. =D

As I'd recently made a fair bit of pocket money on e-bay and Amazon, I still had a decent amount left after the show and so put in a big thread order with good old  I more or less completed the Anchor Coton à Broder #25 collection (just omitted 2 shades I couldn't see myself using) and then plugged some gaps with some DMC ones.  Sadly, their skeins are a completely different shape, so I wasn't able to store them together.  Other than that I grabbed some more Pearl Cotton #12 balls and discovered that I still have room for about another 15.  The beads are Mill Hill Pony Beads in sizes #6 and #8.

So, just a quick stash posting for now as I still have nothing to show you and hope that the stitch-itch might strike again soon.  It always does, never fear. =)  No 'mojo' comments though, please!  I'm quite passionately against magic and related things, so that expression doesn't sit well with me, although I appreciate the thought behind it. =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 5 Nov 2014

This is what I have for you this week.  Not a lot of progress, but a little.  I just put a few stitches in on two of the leaves.  Hmmm, looks like there are a lot of white bits on the fabric that I didn't notice when I was taking the photo this morning.  Not that it matters too gravely just now.

I really haven't had much stitching or art time as I've been busy with regular tasks (yawn) as well as doing some increasingly time sensitive proof-reading for a Chinese former manager who is applying for a grade promotion at work.  The application deadline is Friday 7th, and there are still two sections to go, including a long academic CV.  So, I think I know what I'll be doing at least part of tomorrow.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Needlequest November - Stumpwork

Here we are at the beginning of a new month for the Needlequest - the second to last one.  This month's theme is stumpwork.  A few years ago I wrote an introductory article to stumpwork (and ribbon embroidery) with some suggestions on how to get going etc, so some readers may like to (re)view that.

Stumpwork is terrific and is a favourite with many stitchers - just to look at and admire, if not to have a go at themselves.  However, this month's challenge is try it out for yourself.  How?  Well, why not have a go at one or two of the tutorials for stumpwork elements on Sew in Love?  I've tried to keep the materials needed just to things you'll already own - cotton threads, a bit of felt and maybe some beads in most cases, so they may be a good place to start.  You can, no doubt find some elsewhere too, if you have a good poke around on-line, in magazines and in books.  Your local library may be able to come up with something that will help you as well.

As with most styles, I suggest starting small and, if at all possible, with a entry level kit.  The advantages of a kit are manifold, but just take supplies as one.  Many keen stitchers have a good supply of fabrics, needles and cotton threads, but not necessary much in the way of beads, metallics, wires and so on.  A kit can solve this problem by providing you with everything you need for that design without you needing to go out and buy a whole pack of something you may never use again.  Also, kits often have good, clear instructions.  I learned a few good techniques using five of the old DMC kits, now long since deleted.  (If you're reading this, 'Emma Brodery' the DMC threads' blogger, suggest some new ones!  People want to learn raised work and, whilst they won't fly off the shelves like cross stitch kits would, I'm certain there is a market for them.)  Ditto (including the bits in brackets, just aimed elsewhere) for the old RSN kits, where the dog rose you can see above came from, and from which I learned the technique for my needlelace strawberry tutorial.

Originally, I had planned to work the Colleshill Collection butterfly and sunflower kit I have in stock for this month's NQ, but I really don't want three fair sized projects on the go at once.  It just gets too much, esp. when one other project is time sensitive.

So, in order to keep thins simpler, these oranges are the sort of thing I plan to do this month.  I've done a fair amount of wiring things before, but I want to have a go at using my paper/cotton moulds to make oranges etc.  I've had the things in stock for a long time, but have never got around to trying them out.  I don't think I'll do as many as five and probably not all the same size, (as I have three different sizes of paper/cotton balls on hand), but we'll see how it goes and how quick they are to work.  I have some ideas that I may want to use them for later on.  Kits/designs-for-sale sorts of ideas.

BTW, this is from Kay Dennis' "Beginners' Guide to Stumpwork"

I hope I can use some of these lovely coton à broder #16 shades that came this morning for my sample.  I got them on e-bay UK and was thrilled to find these 11 shades that I hadn't come across in this gauge before.  The two orange shades, and maybe the greens and even the yellow, may just come in handy this month.

What wonderful retail therapy stash shopping is!  20 days to the Harrogate show.....

November is also 'Art Every Day Month' as hosted by Leah Piken Kolidas, the lady who also hosts the 'Creative Every Day' challenge.  I'd forgotten all about it until I saw her post in my feedly earlier on.  Last year I was all gung-ho to join in and found it went like a complete damp squib for me, so I hope I can do better this year.  My first day's participation will be to relax with a little on my cross stitch later on, but I hope that I can revitalise my art blog during this month too and get some paper-based work done too.  I'll let you know if and when there's anything to see over there.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Friday, 31 October 2014

Needlequest October round up and stuff about blogging

It's the end of another month and here's what I've been doing for the Needlequest challenge. I did a few more raised stitches and, as my personal goal was to learn five new stitches, I did these from a stitch dictionary type of book. They're all more or less new to me.

The second photo shows the 3D, raised effect of all the little samples I've done for this month.  Sorry the nearest sample is so blurred, but my camera can only cope with so much to focus on.=)

What about other participants?  Well, it seems I've been playing the game alone again this month, but Dorte has been catching up on some previous months' work.  She showed us some table linen inspired by crockery that she'd worked in both freestyle and cross stitch for the July theme, 'Crockery and Tableware'.  She also did a lovely painted floral, which she then picked out details of in stitch for the 'Fabric Colouring Techniques' theme from August.  Similar idea to my own piece, only much more impressive!!=)

Thanks for the encouraging comments about blogging, subscribers and so on.  I agree with pretty much everything that was said!  Thankfully, it's only a minor number who get impatient and won't stay subscribed to your blog if post numbers drop (yes, Wendy, it's actual subscribers/readers, not just page views - although that as well, of course).  It would show up more if I had a huge readership and would matter more if I was running my blog as a business, as some do, but it still makes me roll my eyes.

I'm like those of you who commented who prefer quality to quantity, and so I won't post padding posts ('fluff' as Rachel called them!!!) just to keep up quantity, or unsub from blogs that are infrequently updated.  I'm with D1-D2 in that I only unsub if the content becomes completely irrelevant to my interests and I stay subbed to inactive blogs sometimes for a long time in the hope the writer may start up again.  It doesn't cost any time, money or effort to leave someone who isn't currently posting regularly on my feedly list!!=)  Actually, I'm far more likely to unsub for over posting than under and I skip over the content of the majority of posts in my feed.  To be honest, I look more at the photos than anything else, although I do read some more carefully.  Which?  Not tellin'!!!LOL!=)

Thanks also for the kind words about my mum.  She's 81 now and in pretty bad shape, bless her.  Up to just before she turned 80, she was quite strong - even with emphysema, then she had a moderate level stroke and it was downhill from there through pneumonia and a fall down the stairs to the point that she really can't walk anymore and needs help with almost everything.  I don't expect she has much time left but, yes, we're trying to spend time with her regularly and also trying to make her last days of life as comfortable and pleasant as possible.  It's not easy to watch her failing like this, and it only reinforces the fact I long since learned from the Bible that we were never meant to die or lose loved ones.  We may say it comes naturally, but it doesn't, not really.  It also reinforces the fact that smoking is NOT a good idea!  All the things that Mum suffers under now, even the wholesale loss of teeth, are heavily related to 40 years of smoking.  Don't do it.  Just don't.

Onto more cheery things and Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show trip is three weeks today!  I'm enjoying counting down and hope to goodness that this year I won't have a bug when I go as I have the last two...=(

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 29 Oct 2014

Here we have my one picture for this weeks WIPW 'challenge' as far as my pretty 'Paradise Island' goes.  I haven't got much done, but, to be honest, stitching isn't featuring high on my agenda at the mo.  Things are a little stressful, what with one thing and another - mostly connected with looking after Mum and how things will go in the medium term (she won't be around in the long term, that much is clear), as to where we need to be living etc.  So, things may not be as 'active' on blog as I might like over the coming few weeks or months, but there are plenty of other blogs to read if I'm quiet for a while. =)  I really don't get why readers unsubscribe if a blogger doesn't post a certain number of times per week.  I was 'talking' (by e-mail) about this with Sharon of Pintangle where WIPW is hosted, and she finds that her readership drops if she posts less than four times per week.  I've noticed a similar thing here. Now, if these were paid for subscriptions, I could understand people unsubbing, but as it's all free, it seems odd to me.  Maybe I'm easier to please!!LOL!  Well, in some things, anyway.... =)

I'm really not getting along well with my other piece, the 'Painted Ladies' butterflies picture.  I can't seem to get into it.  Having said that, I don't feel up to more challenging needlework at the mo, thus cross stitch getting more air time.  However, I don't have the luxury of choice with this one as it's really needed by the end of the year and I just must get on with it.  That being the case, I'm moving it into the WIPW slot as I like to have something to post about here!!!

Here are some more of the berries filled in, but not filled in terribly well, I think.  I just can't seem to get my stitches to look like Helen M Stevens'.... =(  Still, they'll look better with stems and 'trims' etc and, of course, as part of the full piece, so I'm not going to re-stitch them, I don't think.

I bought my ticket for the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show yesterday.  One can get e-tickets these days, but I was sorry to see that part of the advantage to buying well in advance, namely the £2 cheaper ticket has been swallowed up by the fact that Twisted Thread are now charging a £0.95 booking fee for advance purchases!  Whatever next??

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 22 October 2014

OK, so I was MIA for more than a week, but you had plenty of interesting blogs to read to mind too much, right?=)

I have got *some* stitching done, only not as much as I'd hoped.  I blame the feverish cold that decided to take over my body last week and is still leaving behind a legacy of sticky sludge!  Mercifully, I haven't developed a cough, unlike poor Sir, who sounds terrible hacking away...=(

Here are the shots of the four days' work I did on the pretty Paradise Island piece.  The first one was to complete the first three flower centres and outline the final flower.

Next you can see that I finished that flower and worked some more of the water.

The next day saw me adding in the first bits of the greenery in the shape of the flower stems and some more water.

The last day's work was ... more water!!

Finally, here is the piece as it appears in full just now:

Hmm, probably should have reduced the brightness further on these last two shots, but I'm still learning, really!  One kind reader suggested I post a tutorial on photographing this kind of project and flattered my vanity very much.  However, I'm really not sure I would have the know-how.  Still, a general 'photographing embroidery' article might be a goer.  What do you think?  Interested?  Any suggestions to make?

So, some visible progress and I'm back on to the duller bit now, that of building up more water.  Having said that, apart from the sea parts and the other set of flowers, the rest is mostly greenery, so I plan to split it down into parts so that I don't end up with endless green to work towards the end.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Taking a week off....

Going to take a little big of a blog breather this week.  I seem to have got behind with everything I can think of and am also finding myself a bit shorter on umph than I would like, so I plan to give myself as much of a break as I can from extras and have resisted the temptation to take on extra students and a free CQ course that would have added to my load recently.  Being good - however dull that may be. LOL!!

On the positive side, a break week usually means I have more to show you afterwards!!=)

Have a good one, readers all and I'll be back soon.....  (but will still be reviewing your blogs....)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 8 October 2014

I have some progress to report! AND I seem to have managed to get a couple of passably decent photos of the work so far.  How's that for news?=)

I've been playing around a little bit with some of my camera settings.  Rather blindly, I'm afraid, as I really don't know what I'm doing with it, but having a good play around has helped me get some shots that seems to distinguish the different reddish shades.  The light's not quite right yet, but it's moving in the right direction and, well, there's always Photoshop!!!

I had quite a surprise the other day when I finally got around to putting the threads from the stumpwork face kit away.  I matched them up via my thread colour chart and found out the dark pink was shade #76.  However, there was no #76 in my thread pack (#s 52 - 100).  A missing colour, no less!  I thought I had the lot.  I then picked the shade card back up and looked through the whole of the section checking to see if any others were missing and there were two more in that pack.  A couple of days later I went through the rest of the collection and found another two missing.  A nice parcel of threads arrived from SewandSo this lunchtime with both the five missing stranded cottons and 14 more of the Anchor Coton à Broder #25 shades that I'm collecting.  About two dozen to go now....

To see what the rest of the WIPW team have reported on this last week, hop on over to Pintangle.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014