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

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 24 September 2014

Here we are for the WIPW update.  I really haven't done much stitching at all recently. Sadly, I've been forced to deal with acute distress and hurt, [rest deleted].


I've also been away for some work etc and so really haven't been getting much done.  Having said that, i had chance to return to the Leeds branch of Hobbycraft who are selling off their Anchor Coton à Broder #25 at about 20% of the normal price, so I grabbed another 8 skeins to help build my collection.  Thread therapy!!  I've been making lists of the beads I plan to treat myself to at the Harrogate Show this year as well and got one more 0.3l Really Useful Box to store them in the other day.

Thanks to Rachel and Kate for suggestions on how to improve the photography situation.  I tried Rachel's today, being the simplest, namely trying black and white card behind the piece, and the white card as well as focusing more on the main progress area (the flowers this time) seems to have helped.  I will try the more techy idea, Kate, I just need more peace of mind and time to play first.

To see others' WIPW updates and find out more about the 'group', click on over to Pintangle.

Now, I must crack on as it's visiting mum day and I still have to shower, make and eat lunch and what have you.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Thread reorganisation essentially complete

Hello!  Today I'm going to share the results of my big reorganisation project.  This may turn out to be a 'thread envy' type of post as it features virtually every embroidery thread I currently own, but I just want to say that the reason I'm creating it is to share my pleasure at having completed a big job and maybe even give some helpful storage ideas for those in need of them.  Bragging or showing off doesn't come into the equation.

Many of the threads I've got here came in newsgroup stash exchanges, or when I've been given gift money or ONS gift vouchers/certificates.  Some have been special offers on e-bay and some have been me reinvesting money I'd just made by selling my own stuff on e-bay, or just by plain saving up pocket money.

It's also a collection ranging back over 12 years and there aren't any really pricey ranges here, such as Au Ver a Soie, or Silk Mill, where you're looking at around £3 per skein.  Most of my stuff is around £1 per item, even the silks!

OK, having got the 'non-bragging disclaimer' done with, the first photo shows the completed drawer tower.  The thing is, before, I had things I didn't use very often in these drawers, such as haberdashery and papercraft supplies, and that was mad given that it's very much on-hand storage for me, right next to my desk and easy to use.  Now it holds almost exclusively embroidery threads.

As you can see, I moved the art caddy and silks box off the top (the art caddy being far too heavy and the silks running the risk of fading in direct sunlight), and put them on the floor.  I've re-placed the Kleenex on the drawers' top instead, which also frees up the desk space again.  I love as clear a desk as I can manage.

Here are the four drawers now:

The first contains packs of needles, some elastic etc and some cotton and paper round moulds for making stumpwork fruit etc at the back (left hand side here).  The front holds my organza ribbon pack, three packs of scraps of metallic threads, both from use and the smaller bits from a Kreinik Bag-of-Bits that I went through thoroughly the other day and sorted out well.  Other than that, there are a bundle of DMC skein metallic threads and five or six Anchor ones in there as well.

Moving on to drawer two and, with the exception of the DMC Linen threads collection, all these are variegated to one degree or another.  There are some DMC and Anchor multi-colours in stranded cotton and pearl #5 as well as a few from the Caron Collection and some Weeks Dye Works multis at the back.  The front section holds the rest of the WDW and also some Gentle Arts Sampler Threads.  I had a whole lot more, but sold them about 5 years ago as I really couldn't see myself using them, so I just keep useful looking shades.  I've also separated out some Anchor multi-colours in pearl #5 and #8 to sell.

Drawer three is my favourite.  It's the least fancy being just solid colours of cotton threads, but I really like it.  At the back are some skeins of Anchor pearl cotton #5, then almost all the Anchor Coton à Broder #16 shades (not a very good collection of colours, I feel, especially the greens - yack!) and around 40% of the newer Coton à Broder #25 range.  This is almost the only section of my whole collection that I'm planning to expand in the near future as I'm currently saving up for the rest of the shades and, very likely, some of the DMC range to plug the many colour gaps.  With only 80 shades in the range, it's bound to be very limited.  It's better than it was, though, as there used only to be 40.

The bottom drawer contains 'shinies' in the form of Madeira Silks (stopped from moving around by an old pincushion!!) and Anchor Marlitt.

As I'd taken the Marlitt out of my wooden box, I had room to spread the pearl cotton #8 and #12 balls out a little more.  Those on the left are all #8 with three more in the browns section.  The rest are all #12 and there's a bit of room in the drawer to get a few more.  I'd like a few more floral shades - pretty pinks, purples and a deep red.

Although the organiser still hasn't been fixed to the wall, I've finished this section too.  One of the Really Useful Boxes I emptied and put my goldwork threads into (I don't have many as, as you might recall, I'm not big on working pure goldwork, although I love to add metallic touches and goldwork trims wherever possible).  I also decided which pencils I wanted to have to hand and filled up my store tubes.  Those were a really good deal - just £3 from Hobbycraft.  The RUB organisers can be bought from there too at the decent price of £18 (although I got a slightly damaged one for £12 on Amazon), but take care that you get the 0.3l boxes, not the tiny 0.16l ones.  Those tiny, dinky ones look great and now come in all sorts of fun layouts and colours, but they really don't hold anything.  The clear 0.3l or the coloured version is far better IMHO.  Of course, it depends entirely on what you want to store, but Mill Hill bead packs don't fit in and I could get next to no Kreinik spools in one too.

The basic idea of all this, apart from busting out of my old system, was to have to hand and easily visible the things that I use most or want to use more.  I've now put most of my low use sewing threads and card making trims into the blue craft tote on the floor as I don't often need them and it wasn't sensible having those so easy access. Before, many of my threads were in boxes in that blue box.  I needed to go through two or three stages to even see what I wanted, compared to a simple one stage layout now in the drawers.  I was watching a YouTube video the other day where a stitcher showed her cross stitch stash storage.  She had things in piled up boxes and bags in a chest of drawers.  There were several stages involved in getting to each item, including high demand tools and threads.  I wanted to eliminate this wherever possible and simplify the whole thing.

So the real moral of today's story is: if you're thinking about having a sort out or tidy up, take some time to really think about making it the most user friendly system for your own personal needs.

Moving on now to the very last stage of things:  the stranded cottons.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm not that likely to resort my stranded cottons after all.  I think the idea I had would have worked, but I can't be sure that it would have been so much better than it is now.  Actually, the real problem is that the box containing the stranded and pearl cottons is in a different room from the rest of the collection, which is somewhat contrary to the above, no?  Rather hard to solve too, owing to space restrictions.

I have the DMC threads that I've invested in sorted into colour bags and, as you can see somewhat from the last photo, esp. the bottom row, unlike DMC, Anchor colour numbers tend to be in colour families anyway, at least from 1 to 403, which seems to be the basic colour range.  As for the others, I know where the most useful newer shades are in the numbering system and have the real thread colour chart, so I think I can manage for now this way until such time as I find myself rarely working others' designs (when I need to get threads out according to shade number), so I'll leave them as they are.  I don't mind doing the reorganising work, I just doubt it'll really be worth it.  That may mean that I use more DMC when I need to get colours out purely by shade, but that's hardly a problem!  I think I've bought all I mean to get of their collection for the time being anyway and am happy with what I've got now, esp. the greens and purples, many of which are very different indeed.

So, no more excuses now, girlie.  Back to your stitching!=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014