Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 9 April 2014

Anyone remember that I said I was going to complete all the cotton cross stitch before moving on to the rayon etc?  Well, I was going to, and that's what the pattern instructed, but I just ended up finding working the shawl around areas to be stitched later was leading to far too many mistakes being made and so I decided to work the green sleeve sections first then finish the shawl.  Of course, once I'd decided to do the green, then I decided I'd start by completing those rows on the skirt instead so, here you have what I got done over the past couple of days.

I have to say it, Anchor Marlitt is beastly stuff to work with!  It's incredibly springy and is forever slip-sliding against itself in the needle and every few stitches see me having to re-align the threads in the needle as one has slipped and is then longer than the other and doesn't pull through fully.  Add to that the thread having a mind of its own when it comes to how it lays on the fabric as well and you've got hard work for relatively messy, uneven stitches.  That wouldn't trouble me greatly normally, but this is a competition piece, so I wanted it to be as near to perfect as I could make it.

Having said that, the thread shines wonderfully and I took this photo with the light falling on the stitches so that you can see the difference in sheen between Marlitt and the regular Anchor stranded cottons used so far.  I think Marlitt is much like metallic threads in that they're all a real pain to work with, but they look great in the piece.

Here's the full piece at the moment.  It's a little behind the published schedule at the mo, but as the schedule was leading to completion almost 3 months ahead of the show date, I'm not worried about it as yet.  There is a lot to stitch at the mo, what with wedding things etc to do, and I haven't had much oomph to get on with it of late, but it seems to be coming slowly back.=)

You can join in with a piece of your own, or see what others in the group are up to on Pintangle.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

Needlequest - First Quarter Round-up and April theme - Spring

Well, here I jolly well am again!  Still having some headache/glasses etc problems, but I can manage for long enough today to get this long overdue post sorted.

What you see here is how far I myself got with the March goldwork challenge.  March was a bad month for a lot of things, stitching included, so I didn't really get this one off the ground, although I do still want to do it in the relatively near future.

Here are some people who did manage to produce something for last month's challenge:

* Tingting completed a UFO for her March challenge - a goldwork lotus head.

* Wendy combined goldwork techniques with canvas work to complete a lovely copper and white ornament.

* Elaine spent some time working on a part goldwork bird.

Looking back to February and the Japan theme:

* Tingting wrote a lovely post on her travels in Japan and the Sashiko she worked for the challenge.

* Dorte shared her work so far on a Japan themed quilt using Japanese fabrics and embellished with hand embroidery.

* Wendy shared her quite expansive explorations into Sashiko as part of her February round up post.

January's topic of needle painting attracted a number of people and here are the results:

* Erica produced a lovely floral piece and posted it to Stitchin' Fingers.

* The Whitness worked a pretty pink rose.

* Elaine worked a shaded bird and then mounted it in a box.

* Wendy worked on a shaded crewel floral piece during the month.

If I've missed anyone off, SORRY!  Please let me know and I'll add you at once!  I'll be doing this round up at the end of each month, so as long as you have a link left for me on, say, the previous Needlequest post any time up to the last day of the month, you should be in time to be included.  I'll add 'latecomers' in afterwards, but you'll get more visits by being 'on time'.  Your project doesn't have to be completed, just show us how far you've got and let everyone discover your talent!=)

And now, onto the April theme: Spring.  First of all, my apologies to those in the southern hemisphere for making both this theme and the September one of 'Autumn' coincide with the northern seasons.  If we decide to continue with the challenge and do 'Winter' and 'Summer', I'll do them in July and January respectively, OK?=)

Spring is a relatively easy theme to find inspiration for, even if it weren't visible every time we looked out of our (northern hemisphere) windows!  There are so many lovely flowers, baby animals and blossoming trees to inspire our work!  Here are a couple of photos I purloined from two of my stitching books.

The first is from 'The A-Z of Thread Painting' published by Country Bumpkin and is a tulip.  That also brings to mind Dutch bulbfields as an idea....

This second photo needs little introduction - Trish Burr's wonderful needle painted crocus from her 'Colour Confidence in Embroidery' book.  This was something I thought I might do this month at one point and it's still on my stitching 'to do later' list.  I just love crocuses, especially when you see a whole bank of them - a feast for the eyes in white, yellow and purple against the bright green of the spring grass and the crocus foliage.  Bliss!  I really missed that in East Asia.

Speaking of the Orient, how about Japanese cherry blossom as an idea?  We pass rows of trees here that are also blossoming in light and dark pink - a real picture!

What ideas do you have?  I'll share mine next week....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Needlequest updates coming soon

Sorry about the delay in getting the Needlequest stuff up.  I've got a heavy cold and can't wear the glasses I need for computer work as they seem to put pressure on the exact spot that encourages monster sinus congestion,  (so I'm posting this from my phone).

I'll be back as soon as I can, if not sooner, with a round up of the first three months, featuring links to all sorts of work done by challenge participants, and an introduction to the lovely topic of spring. Don't wait for me though Needlequesters, make a start! :-)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 26 March 2014

It's Wednesday again and time for a Tudor Lady update.  I haven't got as far as I wanted to over the fortnight since my last WIPW posting, but then, I haven't done much of anything recently!!

Here you can see a mid-way point where I've finished the collar and filled in some of the headdress.

The second photo shows where I left the piece yesterday after the hair, inside dark sections of the shawl and a tiny bit of the top part of it have been inserted.

Hopefully, I'll feel more like stitching over the next week.=)  Too sleepy to write more just now....zzzzzz!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 24 March 2014

Needlequest - 24 March 2014

Yesterday I got a 'commission' from my French friend who is getting married in July and for whom the 'shampoo bottle' design will be the basis of the wedding card.  I'd asked her, as I usually do when friends get married, if she wanted something for the wedding (a ring cushion), a souvenir of the wedding (a sampler type of thing) or something for the home.  To my surprise and delight (as I usually end up doing cushion/pillow covers for the home), she and her fiancé requested a ring cushion when I saw them yesterday, so I've been thinking about designs and so on.  She tells me they've chosen yellow flowers as the nearest thing to a theme colour (they're keeping things simple), so I have that to go on.  I thought I'd do something along the lines of this cushion I worked 9 years ago.  This sort of thing isn't meant to be practical beyond that it needs room for the rings to sit, and can be as ornamental and fancy as one likes, so I'm going to have great fun designing this one!

So, how are you all getting on with your Needlequest projects?  I'll be honest and say that I haven't done a thing this week.  Oh, OK, I did select the colours for the butterflies, but haven't got to doing any as yet....  At least the above has some goldwork elements... Anyone else got anything to share this week?  I hope so, as Wendy has made the terrific suggestion that I post a selection of links to others' work.  There aren't anything like enough submitted to make that worthwhile each week, but why not towards the end of each month??  So, please do leave a link to your project, whether or not it's completed, and I'll do a list of them next Monday.=)

Something else I want to ask about it how participants feel about the subjects/themes for the Needlequest.  Whilst I know that many people who sign up for challenges don't actually take part and for many that do, they run out of enthusiasm fairly early on (I've done both myself - more than once!!), and we only have about 15 people who signed up anyway, but links have been very thin on the ground, especially this month and last.  This month has been really problematic for me for one reason or another, but I've usually been trying really hard to have something to post almost every week so that there's a post open here for folk to leave links on and, as I'm running the challenge, I need to get well and truly on with it - LOL!  It's often a little disappointing to not have anyone else's work to see though, so have you any thoughts?  Problems with the topics?  Suggestions?  I know some prefer not to showcase until they've finished a piece and so links are more plentiful later in the month, but I still thought I'd take this chance to survey the Needlequesters and see what they think.  I'm concerned there's something 'wrong' with the challenge, thus the low level of checking in, so I'd like to know what you who are taking part think.

I have got SO much stitched stuff to get done over the next few months that it's rather a nuisance to have already lost so much time to illness and exhaustion as well as my interest needle having swung very firmly over to 'Chinese' etc of late.  I find that it goes from one extreme on the scale to the other, either completely or to some degree.  Although I never entirely lose interest in either and the needle's been very much on the 'embroidery' side for several months past, it's been pulling me off towards my other big interest recently...  Well, it's better than being bored.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 17 March 2014

Needlequest Update Post - 17 Mar 2014

Dear All,

I'm sorry, I've done precisely nothing on my goldwork butterflies since we last talked about them!  If I've had the time, then I've not had the umph and when umph was present in decent quantities, then I had other stuff that needed doing and I've barely touched a needle, beyond a tiny bit on my cross stitch, since last post!  Oh well, it happens to us all from time to time.

Still, I wanted to make sure that there was a post here for anyone who wanted to share a link to their Needlequest work this week.

For fun, I thought I'd share the famous shampoo bottle!!  Sadly, the range has been redesigned and this pretty graphic has gone now and I didn't get a drawing of the others in the series, which were also rather nice.  Still, good thing I got this one whilst I could!!=)  Any suggestions and/or inspiration on how to adapt it?  I have some ideas of my own, but I thought I'd see what you all think too.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 12 Mar 2014

It's Tudor lady update time again and today you'll see that the piece is really taking shape now! First of all, I completed the blue sections on the skirt, including plenty of smoothening off of the outer edges.
After that, I had an hour or so's respite from blue to insert the (probably) linen edges of the sleeves.  And then, back to blue!!=)

When that was done, it was time for the bodice section, leaving gaps for the pendant, bead trims and so on.  I also smoothed the outer edges here as well.
Here is where I left the piece about 20 minutes ago when I finished off for the time being to take photos and update you all.  It's begun to look like an over thin (Barbie shaped!!) dressmaker's dummy - body, but no head, don't you think?LOL!=)

What do you think of it so far?

Over the next week I hope to work the linen collar, the headdress and the shawl over the left hand side.  The following week should see the larger section of shawl on the right completed and that's the cotton cross stitch all done and I'll be ready to insert the green and gold rayon crosses.=)

Join in the Work in Progress Wednesdays party on Pintangle.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 10 March 2014

Needlequest Update Post - 10 March 2014

Hi!  How's everybody doing?  Many thanks to the 14 people who left kind wishes on my last posting.  I appreciated each and every one of them.  Thank you, merci, obrigada and 謝謝!I'm feeling more like an ordinary human today for the first time in nearly two weeks, and am ready to get back down to it!  Taking a week away from feeling like I *had* to post and, worse, that I *HAD* to have something stunning to post about (!!!) was a real help.

Towards the end of last week, I managed to finish little Hanako 花子 off and here's her face and top bit.  I was pleased with this part as I was actually quite scared I was going to mess up the facial features, but they went very smoothly indeed.  I was glad that I changed to a strand of sewing cotton for the eye area details though as one strand of embroidery cotton was way too thick and wouldn't have looked anything like as good.  It's rather a pity I didn't think to match up the skin tone this way too...  Next time.=)

Here are her feet with the little sandals all stitched around to bring them to life more.

Where's the whole piece shot?  Well, frankly, you've got the best bits of it here and the photo I took of the whole thing was irretrievably blurred, so I thought you wouldn't mind waiting until I've made her up into a cushion/pillow cover to see the whole thing.=)

On the whole, I'm quite pleased with the piece, although there are certain things I would do differently in order to close up some of the gaps in the piecing and I would also make the obi (belt part) bigger, as it's rather too small.  Still, it wasn't half bad for a first attempt at this kind of thing and it's meant to be a learning process, so all's well.=)

So, that's February's needlequest up to date!  What about March?  Well, as you can imagine, I haven't got very far along as yet, but I have been working with some designing as you can see here.  The two butterflies top right are from the Hazel Everett book and I'll work them as closely to her instructions as my thread collection allows.  What that means simply is that I mayn't have some of the specialist goldwork threads that she used and so will have to adapt a bit to what's in stock.

The other design is a straight drawing of the design on the front of one of my shampoo bottles (!!!), which I thought would adapt nicely to metallic work and can be made up into a wedding card for our friends' big day in mid July.  The design will change, it won't be just as you see here, but I decided to start with as close a copy as I could make of the original and get to adapting it later on.

Here below is the lovely green silk fabric all backed and in the working hoop - just a 4"/10cm one - ready to start.  I still need to work out the threads, and even the colours to use, but I need daylight for that.  I may have time to start looking at is after I'm finished here, but I'm not sure I'm in the mood just now....

Finally, here's a throwback from the January needle painting challenge:

A friend of ours left for a year on a working holiday visa in Taiwan, so I made this into a little leaving card for her.

What about you?  Have you fellow challenge participants anything to report and share from your work?  If so, please leave a comment on this post and let us all come and admire what you've learned lately.

In a month or so, I'll be asking participants for their thoughts and feedback on the challenge so far, so please get your thinking caps on!=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 3 March 2014

Taking a week out...

Dear All,

I'm having a break for a week as I've been having an unusually bad time with my health recently and I need some more time for myself.  Also, I haven't anything to show you yet really, so there's next to nothing to post about and I'm out of 'write aheads' for the time being!!=)

Hope you're all well and see you next Monday!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Needlequest 2014 - March - technique - goldwork

Welcome to the third month of the Needlequest challenge and the second technique: goldwork.  Like all embroidery techniques, goldwork is a huge topic and a month is really only enough time to have a small taste or two, but that's what the challenge is about - sampling something new and seeing if you want to take it further later on.
Goldwork can be done in gold, in silver, in a host of bright, metallic colours and also as a part of a piece alongside silk, rayon, cotton or other threads.  The pieces decorating this post are from my own work with metallic threads in the past.  As you can see, there are some more traditional, entirely gold/metallic pieces and some that are a combination of both glitzy shinies and more everyday materials.

Many goldwork pieces rely on a lot of couching, which can be done with either quite thick and heavy threads or finer threads to achieve more delicate effects.  The body of this fish is couched around, but the fins are created with long straight stitches, (the yellow and orange part is worked in rayon thread - Anchor Marlitt).

If you're interested in books on goldwork, some good titles to consider include:

* Country Bumpkin's 'The A-Z of Goldwork'
* Hazel Everett 'Goldwork - Techniques, Projects and Pure Inspiration'
* Ruth Chamberlain 'Beginners Guide to Goldwork'
* Helen McCook 'RSN Stitch Guide: Goldwork'
There is also a section on goldwork in 'Royal School of Needlework Embroidery Techniques' by Sally Saunders et al.

As ever, there's a good list of tips, techniques and book reviews over on Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread gold work page.

One thing to bear in mind when trying out goldwork is to make sure to cut your metal threads with specially toughened scissors, or even wire cutters if you have nothing else!  Don't use your regular embroidery scissors, unless you want an excuse to buy a new pair...!!=)

Of course, goldwork samples and pieces don't have to be large or complicated.  In fact, for the purposes of our challenge, small and/or simple are probably best.  I plan to work two of the simple butterflies from the Hazel Everett book (more on that in my next update posting) and the design my own small piece, which will go on to be mounted in a card for friends' wedding in mid July.

What about you?  What will you create?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014