Sunday, 4 October 2015

Stash Sunday - Coton à Broder #25

I finally got around to getting out my entire Coton à Broder #25 collection and laying it out in colour groups to look at the spectrum available (and just because I enjoyed playing with them!!!).

As you can see, I merged the two brands together.  I don't have anything like all of the DMC ones as there are something like 180 in their selection of shades and, including the 79 (I think) Anchor ones I got, my whole collection is only around 125.  I might complete it one day, but as I don't really use them that much just yet, it's not likely to happen in the near future.  I fear that it may be a case of 'just for the sake of it', which isn't good sense either financially or space-wise.  Hoarding yet more thread would hardly contribute to my minimalist goal.  Having said that, many creative pursuits really aren't very minimalist, but there are degrees to which these things can be taken.  Some are happy with the care essentials at any given time, some want everything on the market.  Most of us fall somewhere in between.  I do have a tendency to horde stuff I like, but I'm aware of that and try to control it, at least!!!

Anyway, all that aside, I do like Coton à Broder #25.  It's a nice gauge, a nice texture and seems to be replacing the formerly popular #16 gauge thread, which I also have a collection of, but probably about half this many.  They're threads that seem to me to have a lot of potential and I hope to do some experimenting with them in the near future.  Have you used Coton à Broder much, or at all?  Which gauge(s)?

I've also just been doing an inventory of things I've bought this year so far and, apart from embroidery supplies, I'm doing really well at not buying stuff.  I've been given three books, but bought none (and one of the give-aways I won't be keeping), given one bottle of perfume and bought one cosmetic item that I needed, but returned it as it was terrible!!!  Embroidery supplies-wise I've bought one piece of linen (which I used half of for the recent L*K piece), 37 DMC Coton à Broder skeins, 19 balls of Anchor Pearl Cotton #12, 3 spools of Kreinik Cord and 23 packs of Mill Hill beads, mostly in the sell-off event at Hobbycraft.  Oh, I also bought two bumper cross stitch pattern magazines.  I'll be doing a Project Minimalist update on my lifestyle blog soon, which will detail the stuff I've cut down too.

I was brave and did an approximate thread inventory recently.  It turned out that my estimate of around 1600 threads was more or less accurate.  I can see myself letting go of as many as 400 in the medium term if I continue to not use them, but I'm not forcing myself to.  I don't plan on buying (m)any more though.  I ordered my ticket for the November Harrogate Show this week, but it'll be a pleasure and inspiration trip as much as anything and I hope to come back fairly empty handed.

I have been doing a bit of cross stitch - my big WIP and a card for Sir - recently and hope to show you both of those during the next week.  I'm still having headache troubles, although some days I can use my glasses OK.  Trouble is, they're usually days that I either haven't time for blogging, or just don't really feel like it.  How typical is that? LOL!  Anyway, I know what causes the trouble and am working daily on resolving the problem.  It takes time, but progress is being made, so I'm happy with that.  I've just managed to edit lots of photos and write 4 blog posts (3 in advance), so things aren't bad today.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Update on the Paradise Island piece

Recently, on my post about completing the butterflies piece, Glenis asked me, 'What next?'  Well, one of the first things I'd like to do is finish the Paradise Island cross stitched picture.  The first shot today is the last photo I posted a couple of months ago, then the second one is with all the water that I plan to do at this stage completed.

This third one shows how far I've got with putting in the trees on the distant shore.  There's just one colour here so far and I'm ready for the next one as I've done as much as I reasonably could of this shade for now.

Other than that, I'm also cross stitching a little card for my hubby as he's now had official notification that he's passed his PhD completely and is now entitled to call himself Doctor!  So, he's now Doc Martin, or Dr Sir!!!  He's trying not to make a big deal of it, but I can see that he's really rather chuffed just the same.=)  Anyway, I'll show the card when it's done as it's only a small design and not really worth doing a WIP series for.

I also went through the drawer which holds my kits and project ideas etc and found this little lot:

This is what's in stock at the mo, (i.e. what's left when I sold off most of the kits etc that I used to have in my stash, but realised I was never going to stitch).  I'm also interested in another Coleshill stumpwork kit and hope to get hold of that one soon.

Having posted those, there's nothing to say I have to do any of these next and I'm also really interested on some more thread painting sort of work, polishing up some skills there.

So, the bottom line is, other than the current WIPs, I really don't know what's next!  Any suggestions?  Ideas?  Requests?  What are you working on or hoping to work next?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Sunday, 6 September 2015

L*K 'Cherish All Living Things', another show piece

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have no trouble recognising what my second entry into this year's Sheffield Horticulture Show was as I posted quite a few WIP shots there last month as it progressed.  I've saved the 'main camera' photos up until I was ready to post them all in one go on blog.

Fans of Lizzie*Kate designs will probably know this one, although it's a few years old now.

As you can see from the first photo, I had my tray of over-dyed threads to hand much of the time as I was constantly changing the colours for shades I thought looked better!!

 Here we have all the cross stitching complete.  Just needed to add the charms before finishing up.  With all the other L*Ks I've worked, I didn't use the trims provided as I wasn't that keen on them, but this time I like the ones in the chart pack, so decided to include them.  What I had in my stash just didn't work out with this design, most of them being too big.
Rather than spending £30-40 on framing, I decided to make this one up into a bellpull.  That way, I could use up one of the bellpull ends I had in stock and also present something a little different in the Show.

When I was stitching this piece, Sir asked me if I really thought it stood any chance of winning something and I said I did as it was very different from the entries I saw last year, which were mostly detailed, picture type pieces (very British taste) and I'd noticed that the judges seemed to lean towards the less classic, more whimsical pieces.

When we went to the Show after judging, he saw what I meant and agreed that this was a departure from 'same old same old'!!

I'd wanted to enter something in the 'Cross Stitch - Own Design' category, but thanks to computer use problems (the headache saga infinitum), I wasn't able to even complete my design.  However, I plan on doing one, or even two, for next year's competition.

There were four entries in this category (embroidery, on the whole, was poorly supported this year), but winning second place out of four was a lot better than first of one as with the butterflies!!!  Don't you agree?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Painted Ladies complete!

I took a few shots whilst the piece was still in the working hoop (above), then some more after having stretched it around piece of thick cardboard (below) (the back of an old art pad!)

And here it is in situ after judging at the Sheffield Fayre last weekend.

Don't be too impressed at the 'First Prize' docket - it was the only entry in the category!!!!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Working the Butterflies

Here we go with a photo-heavy post showing the working of the butterflies.  Lots of small stitches make for long-winded work and I would say there was at least 10 hours work here, if not more!

Here you can see some error correction taking place.  As I worked this first butterfly, I noticed that the stem above it didn't quite meet the edge of the wing, requiring three stitches to be re-worked.  Also, the bottom edge had caught on the stem there, so that also needing taking out and replacing.

These two 'whole butterfly' shots were taken before those mistakes were corrected,  but I don't think they're too visible. =)

Moving onto the second butterfly now:

The butterflies were worked in Anchor stranded cotton with Kreinik Cord 102C for the 'feelers' (what are those called?!)

And the whole piece?  Coming up soon....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

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