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

Monday, 6 October 2014

Needlequest - 6 October 2014

I had a go at cast on stitches again last night.  The results were better than previous attempts, but still shaky.  Actually, this photo makes them look quite good, but it's a bit of a con, I'm afraid!!=)

My first idea was to do a cast on stitch rose, but I'd had enough after 5 stitches and I was very tired, so I just put some bullions in for sepals (2 out of 3 of which ended up with an extra wide loop at the bottom, grrr... also needs much practice) and a quick stem in its own namesake stitch - stem stitch.  Now what, if any, flower it resembles I don't know, but it at least exists.

I'm pleased to say there's been quite a bit of interest shown in this month's technique, even from stitchers who aren't signed up for the challenge.  A big welcome to all.  All you need to do is to post a photo of your challenge work on your blog or photo album or a social network page with open access (I don't use facebook for instance, so I can't visit your page to get a link if it's not publicly visible) and leave a link on one of my Monday posts here.  At the end of the month, when I do the round-up post, I'll include links to all the pieces I've been 'shown'.  So, feel free to get stitching and join in!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Needlequest October - 3D Stitches

A new month and a new Quest.  This month it's 3D stitches, embroidery stitches that in themselves, without padding, wiring or other 'external' support, have a 3D effect.  They're not stumpwork as such, (although I have seen pieces worked from 3D stitches labelled as 'stumpwork'), but are often used in stumpwork designs.  They're also used prolifically in Brazilian embroideries, such as the only one I ever managed shown here!!

To be honest, I'm no expert when it comes to 3D stitches, so I'm looking forward to learning a lot over the next month.  I've tried some before and not got along well with them, so I hope to learn more and improve my relationship with ones I've tried such as bullions and cast on stitch.

Here are some other examples to whet your appetites to join in!  The first sample is mostly of ghiordes knot/turkey stitches, but there are also french knots in both stranded cotton and ribbon.  Yes, many knot stitches qualify.=)

After that comes padded satin stitch.  Although this has padding, it's an integral part of the stitch itself, being worked in the same thread.

Here's a dense bunching of French knots worked in metallic threads which provide some texture in the piece.

I can't quite remember the name of this fourth one.  Something like ribbed spider's web wheel.  It was one of the stitches back in 2012 in TAST.  Definitely a useful looking one, I think.  I want to have a go at developing it further.

More bullion and french knots in an old favourite piece.  I wish I could find more designs like this.  I suppose I should have a go at creating some myself...

So, my plan is to try and work a small sample each week, both developing my experience with stitches I already know and enlarging my repertoire

Blogging plans for this month are:
Mondays - NQ post featuring my 3D stitch samples
Wednesdays - WIPW post with the previous week's work on the Paradise Island cross stitch picture
Fridays - Update on the Helen M Stevens' Painted Ladies picture.
I'm not promising each one every week, but that's the goal.

What are your stitching plans for this month?  Why not leave a comment, with a link to your blog if you like, and share your goals.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Needlequest September round up

Well, I had hoped to complete half of this piece this month, basically all but the butterflies, so the autumn foliage and berries in keeping with the theme for the month, but I only managed a couple of mediocre-ly worked berries and let my piece gather dust - literally!  Things did not go according to plan this last month, with this or other things.

Speaking of other things, thanks very much to those who sent some comforting clucks and pats on the shoulder last time.  I really appreciated that.=)  I feel a lot better now.

OK, back on topic.

I'm happy to say that I wasn't working alone this month with the NQ as Wendy has been working on her 12 month hardanger piece and has completed the September block.  I'm assuming it's not that the blocks themselves are seasonal, but that it's meant to be a block worked per month?  I missed any earlier segments, so I'm not sure, but it's very pretty and was worth Wendy's hard work on it.=)

So, yeah, September hasn't been the best on a few fronts, but I'm still alive and kicking and hoping to progress my two current projects substantially, plus do some work on October's NQ theme (more on that tomorrow) and to be able to share more pretties with you all in the weeks to come.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014