Friday, 21 August 2015

Progressing with the 'Painted Ladies' piece

Hello everyone!  A special, warm welcome to anyone visiting from the Inspirations Magazine newsletter!  I'm delighted to have been featured there this morning. 

It's been rather difficult to keep up with blogging of late for a few reasons, but mostly because I'm still dealing with headaches which either start with or are made worse by wearing the glasses I need in order to be able to deal with photos and blog posts.  I'm braving it today though lest new visitors think Sew in Love is one of the (sadly) many dormant blogs, and also to bring you up to speed on how one of my current projects is going.

Here you can see how far I've now got on the Helen M Stevens' 'Painted Ladies' piece from her book 'Embroidered Butterflies'.  I started it last September and it's got stalled and neglected many times.  I love her work, but I find it rather hard to emulate.  Anyone else feel the same?

This second photo was the last shot I posted of this piece a few months ago and it got stuck there for quite some time after my having done that big, double-coloured leaf you see in the foreground.

Actually, I was finding the snake stitch needed for the thicker stems rather hard to do, so I shied off for a while - as is my wont.  I really have to stop doing that - allowing projects to get stalled for so long because I'm scared of a certain part!

Anyway, I had a go and it seemed to go OK.

Then it was onto the pinky-brown stems and the curling tendrils, which were working by couching Kreinik Very Fine Braid 102C in single, double and even triple rows down with their 102C Cord.

The short straight stitches at the tips of the berries were also worked in Kreinik Cord, this time 087C.

The stranded cottons used so far have been from DMC (the greens and brown) and Anchor (the oranges and reds).
The next stage is another one that fills me with dread and that I feel inclined to delay indefinitely and that's the butterflies.  Getting all those little, bitty areas worked all in the same radial directions and without being able to use guidelines like I could in the leaves (it would clutter up the outline just too much) is frankly scary.  Also, the tracing is disappearing and needs retouching.  Not easy.  However, as I want to enter it in the Sheffield Fayre next weekend, I need to get on with it, and that right quickly!

I've also been working a whole new cross stitch piece for the Fayre and I'll show you that soon.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - the tenth year, 2014/5

Whoops!  Hit the publish button a few hours too early.... =)

The tenth and final year of our blogging review, the home stretch!!

It's been a fairly slow year on the whole for embroidery and arts blogging (with a six week silent patch from January to March 2015), but it got off to a good start with a number of big finishes early in the blogging year.

The first was the Tudor Lady cross stitch in all her finery with rayon and metallic threads trimming her up.  She was interesting and sometimes challenging to work, and I plan to do the Mediaeval Lady to go with her next year.  I entered this one in the Sheffield Fayre as planned and she won third prize (of only three - sob!) in the category.  I entered the green sampler in for fun too and it walked off with first prize honours!!

The next big piece was the wedding ring cushion for my friends' wedding.  This one also got third prize (of seven this time) in the 2014 Sheffield Fayre and, again, a piece I'd entered for the sake of it, the stumpwork bunny, was awarded with the first prize!  As you can imagine, I was rather pleased with my first year in the Show!

After that, I worked a couple of smaller bits and pieces, including this one that I turned into a simple stumpwork face tutorial.

Early August saw me complete all projects on hand for the first time in years!  I had no WIPs, no UFOs and was celebrating the completion of the feather piece you can see here.

In September I documented my re-vamp of my thread storage system, brought about by the advent of the Really Useful Box rack I'd been eyeing up for the previous four years.  I also finished up the Needlequest as best I could, but with little to show for it.

After the busy summer, things really slowed down stitchery wise, with only a couple of smalls being done.  I certainly did a good deal more buying and organising of threads than using them!  However, it was around this point that I began to do a clear out of a lot of my clothes, which led on to other areas of my possessions and that's all been documented on Fluffly Little Idiot.  For a change, that blog has been almost as busy as this one for much of the blogging year as I started doing some monthly goals and checklists, half of a 30 Days of Blogging Challenge, (which I've yet to finish, but can't really convince myself is more urgent than a number of other tasks!!), and then the big stuff downscale project.

However, back here, in January I made a hardanger bookmark from part of the pattern for a larger piece, and finished up an old hardanger project I'd unearthed into a little ring cushion for another old friend's wedding.

The last projects to be featured this year were a bookmark and card for my hubby for our anniversary but, as that was posted recently, I won't re-post here (esp. as I wasn't terribly pleased with either piece!!)

Works in progress at the moment are still the Painted Ladies piece from Helen M Stevens' 'Embroidered Butterflies', which I started for the 'Autumn' Needlequest theme last September and the 'Paradise Island' cross stitch I put into commission as my WIPW piece after the Tudor Lady, the ring cushion and the feather were done.  Both of these have been crawling along throughout the calendar year so far and I hope to complete the butterflies fairly soon at least, as I'd like to enter it in the Sheffield Fayre this year (although I doubt it's of the style to win a prize).

And that's it!  Feels a little like finishing on a low note, but that's the last year as it's truly been.

As I hope to have something to enter in this year's Show, whilst we're still resident in Sheffield (although I've never seen residency conditions in any Show schedule), I also hope to have something more to share with you over the coming weeks, but, having said that, I've given myself permission NOT to enter if I feel it's too much time and energy to produce pieces for the competition when I have other, more pressing things to do. I'm trying to keep a balance though and need to get the butterflies done as they're for a local friend, so there may be something to enter yet.

I expect things will get back onto more of an even keel once we get re-located and settled.  Until then, just enjoy others' blogs if mine is quiet for any period of time.=)  It takes quite a long time to produce decent quality posts, especially tutorials, which can take many hours, and cuts into time needed for both the creation of things to post about and other things in life.  So, although some readers may prefer very frequent posts and features, (and I take that as a great compliment), being realistic, it's not likely to happen whilst I'm just a hobby blogger who isn't making a living (or even a single penny) from it.  I have plenty of needlecrafts planned for the future, but of course, other things may have to come first.  The rest will happen in due course. =)

Thanks everyone for following along and for all the nice comments you've left.  Looking forward to sharing more with you over the next decade!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - the ninth year, 2013/4

Welcome to Year Nine!

Work in Progress Wednesdays proved a big feature for me throughout this blogging year.  The biggest WIPW finish was the sampler that I'd started back in the April of blogging year seven, which was finished in October, then stretched and off to the framers and ready at last to give to my mum in January.

I also worked on a very long-neglected sample from my C&G studies (look out for the finish of that tomorrow), and started, in January, on a large cross stitch that I planned to enter into a show, having discovered these in late summer 2013.

Thanks to WIPW,  the Lizzie*Kate seasonal bird house cross stitched pictures were completed.  I'd started these back in Taiwan  and done the Winter and Spring ones then, but the Summer and Autumn ones were done this year and here's the whole series (which is still awaiting framing - as are many other projects!)

I also wrote a few feature posts on Korean costume and embroideries, goal setting for needlework on blog design tips, tutorials on finishing a cross stitched bookmark, using a flexi-frame and creating a little stumpwork strawberry in needlelace, and bought and found a good storage solution for a stack of Pipers Silk threads, drool!

Sew in Love hosted the Needlequest challenge throughout 2014 and, although some months really didn't work out for me, I still learned some new skills, such as blackwork and developed existing ones more, such as needle painting, fabric painting and appliqué.

This blackwork heart worked as part of the challenge made a nice card for Sir for our 15th wedding anniversary.

The last completed item of this blogging year was the Chinese Junk cross stitch I featured in the first year's summary.  It took us this long to get it framed, but I finally did it for part of my hubby's anniversary present.  It's been on his study wall ever since. =)

The year finished with me beginning to design and work my friends' wedding ring cushion and my Tudor Lady being almost complete after having had to re-chart part of the petit point hands and neck sections.  Full photos of those and others tomorrow in the last instalment - year ten!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Monday, 13 July 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - Year eight, 2012/3

Here I am again, back to complete the blogging review series.  I've been dealing with a series of headaches, which means I haven't been able to wear the glasses I need for computer work, so have had to delay getting back to this.  Anyway, as the saying goes, better late than never, and without further ado:

The first finish of this eighth year was the hardanger scatter cushion cover for Caleb and Susannah's wedding present, which you can see here minus zip.  I was getting well to grips with sewing up using the machine now, which saved a lot of time.

In August or September I decided it was high time I joined in with Sharon B's Work in Progress Wednesdays weekly WIP check-in in order to motivate me to get on with some neglected pieces.  Over the next couple of years, this proved to be a real help to me in finishing a number of items and having a set day to get something posted.  This Brazilian piece was my first WIPW victory over a piece I'd been dragging my heels over.

I first joined in the Creative Every Day challenge in 2013 and, for the first month, I did some summary posts recoding how I'd done something creative each day.  That was fun, but best only for the short term.  It heped me to see how much creativity comes into many areas of life.  I also joined in the Grow Your Blog Party, which has become an annual event thanks to Vicki's hard work each January!

On my other blogs during this year, I started doing some goals posts for a couple of months in early 2013 on both Fluffy Little Idiot and Polyglot in Training, and caught up with the photos from a couple of day trips up north on my travel blog, which I otherwise hadn't touched for as much as two years before!

I did a number of baby knits over the year, of which here are some samples and close-ups:

I really enjoyed re-learning to knit, creating fancy textiles with yarn and how to work basic garment techniques.  This is definitely something I plan to return to.  I suppose that might count as something I'd half forgotten about but would like to do more of, Rachel. =)

It was quite a good year for stumpwork finishes and related tutorials as I finished this cute rabbit as part of both Work in Progress Wednesdays and Anna Scott's 'Finished in February' Flickr group, and used the creation of the fluffy tail (and the grass) to show how turkey work or ghiordes knot stitches are worked.

Then in March I finished the DMC stumpwork butterfly kit and used the wings to publish a tutorial for wired fabric elements for stumpwork, which sparked off some debate as many stitchers seemed to complete the outer buttonhole or overcasting of the wire before filling in the shape, whereas I always do it afterwards so as to preserve as clean a line of outer stitches as humanly possible.

The blogging year finished in June with a couple of tutorials on how to create the raised, padded stem stitch band for a stumpwork dragonfly, then how to assemble the whole thing.

There were one or two smalls throughout the year too, especially cards, and I worked on a couple of other WIPW projects which you can see more of in year the nine and ten summaries tomorrow and Wednesday.

Thanks for reading and I hope you're all still enjoying the series.  I've kept this one a little shorter as these posts take about an hour to create and I do want to get some time to stitch soon!!! LOL!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - Year seven, 2011/12

Whoops! Nearly went to bed and forgot to publish today's post!

It's year seven now and my first real tutorial appeared on blog this year in August 2011 - how to create simple ribbonwork flowers.

Actually, I'm absolutely no expert on ribbon work, I just know a few simple techniques and this was just me photographing every stage of working a kit!

This October I finally finished stitching up the goldwork viola I'd started on back in Taiwan about 18 months before.  It's still waiting for a mount and/or frame, but has been on display in my blog header for a few years, so I can't say it hasn't been seen.=)

November 2011 started with me conducting a sort of reader survey to see what people liked and wanted more of.  I also finished up the cross stitch narrowboat which was also started in Taiwan and I'd been working on ever since in fits and starts.

It wasn't until this month that i got around to putting needles in that hardanger case I'd stitched in Taiwan and then I began a dog rose needlepainting that ran from November to January. Part-way through project this my blog got splogged!  That meant that someone had copied pretty much the whole blog onto another site.  Strange thing was that splogs are normally trying to get hold of advertising revenue etc, but as I'd never had any, I really couldn't see the point to it.  Anyway, I soon got it shut down and, so far as I know, it hasn't happened since (except a certain site recently pinching all the photos to three tutorials, but more on that soon...)

From January onwards, I joined in with TAST 2012 on a fairly irregular basis.  I suppose I'm no different from most people in getting off to a great start, then falling quickly behind.  Some I managed to keep up to OK and even did a little picture made almost entirely out of versions of fly stitch for the first one, but resorted to a bit of cheating later on, esp. for satin stitch, stem stitch, couching and French knots as I just re-posted sections of a few old projects!

As the above screenshor from my Google Analytics account shows, January also saw an enormous leap in blog visit stats, and also subscribers. This was mostly down to the Wired Needlelace Elements for Stumpwork tutorial, which was featured on Pintangle, Craft Gossip and Jules' former blog. I quickly folowed that one up with one on assembling stumpwork flowers and there'd been another one on making a simple raised beetle a while before.

In February I created an 'About' page on this blog and this month also saw me starting on a stumpwork rabbit (which would get shelved for a while) and posting the first of a couple of tutorials for stumpwork berries using different methods.  The second one happened along in March.

In early April I broke ground on the sampler design I'd been planning to do for my mum for the previous two or three years.  I kept up with it for a few months, then let it lie fallow for a few. I also had a thread storage reorganising session that month and finally got around to sewing up the dog rose needlepainting into a manicure case for my old friend, Rosie.

June was quite a full month.  I stitched a little globe for my hubby's anniversary card (the one that's been in the blog header more or less ever since), and made him a tie out of some of the oriental fabric stash I'd bought in Taiwan, getting both done in the nick of time.

I reorganised my little room in early June, having got some shelves put up on the blank wall section and bought two different sizes of plastic four-drawer units.  I posted lots of before and after photos, including the contents of all eight drawers.  I do so love looking at others' collections of thread, fabrics and trimmings on their blogs, so I always hope my blog readers like it here too.=)

About the same time, I began to make wedding gifts for my old friend Caleb (the one you saw me dancing with in the first year's review post).  I completed the card and started on another hardanger scatter cushion cover.  Catch the finish of that one tomorrow in year 8)

The last feature in this blogging year, was a stumpwork ladybird tutorial, originally requested for the 'Crazy Quilt Gatherings' magazine and then published on my blog after a decent interval of time.  Here are the models, with plenty of variations.  (All tutorials and articles that I haven't put links in for can be found on the Tutorials and Features blog pages respectively.)

Almost there now, only three more years to go.  Year eight will be along early next week - I need a break!  I hope you're all continuing to enjoy the series. =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - the sixth year 2010/11

Here we are at year 6 already and we began by visiting Japan in the July, me being dressed up in a kimono and having a look around Tokyo, Kyoto and Tsukuba.

I also finished up a couple of projects for friends in Taiwan, (of which this was one and the field mice and blackberries cross stitch shown in the Year 5 post was the other), and completed my hardanger needlecase.

We flew home via Korea

and my mother-in-law's in south west Germany.  The first picture is her house!

We then moved here to Sheffield as soon as things could be arranged and I rejoiced greatly in having my own little workroom/study for the first time!

The review of the stitching year 2010 saw me lamenting an all time low in projects completed - a mere three, the two hardangers and one cross stitch mentioned above, but I had started a few other projects and they progressed during the year to come.

In January and February, as well as posting WIP progress, I also ran a four-part Threadfest series having a look through my stash and wrote the first article that was later picked up and featured by Craft Gossip, Stumpwork and Ribbon Embroidery - Where Does One Start?  This still remains my most popular post so far and was the starting point for a marked expansion in blog readership from year 7 onwards.

Although I was working on a couple of projects, finishes were on the slow side coming, so I ran a three-part series of stitching projects created for men during the spring, showcasing hardanger cards, cross stitched cards, gifts and even a picture, and all the things I'd stitched for my hubby up to that point.

My second feature article, From UFO to Happy Dance - How? offering help on getting stalled projects re-started and finished was written in April 2011 (which may be where some readers remember the dog portrait from as I used it as an example complete with photos at various stages) and I worked on a goldwork viola, a cross stitched narrowboat (both finished during blogging year 7 - look out for those in later posts) and completed the stitching of this Helen M Stevens' design that I worked from a photograph in one of her books.  I had awful trouble with the fish, until I found some really helpful drawings in another of her books. Later on this piece was finished up into a scatter cushion cover as a belated wedding gift.

During the year's invigilating duties, I'd had some very low key assignments meaning that I finished up a number of the boring backgrounds on some childhood UFOs (un-finished objects) and worked on the creation of a number of embroidered smalls for cards and small gifts of which I'll leave you with a selection (although I did the first one entirely at home).

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015