Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 20 August 2014

I'm taking a blog writing break just now.  No, not a break from blog posting, but a break from proof-reading a chapter of Sir's doctoral thesis to write my blog!!=)  It's not time for a holiday from my blog just yet.  I might take a week off every quarter or so.  At the moment though, I've too much to show to want to get that far behind with posting.

I've been working a little on the Paradise Island cross stitch and there's still not so much to see.  The first picture is how far I got on the last day I posted about it, a week ago.  The second one is after two  more sessions' work.  It looks a bit like a map at the moment.  The 'V' at the bottom left hand side reminds me a bit of the outline of India on a proper globe, but the wrong colour, of course!!

This piece is the complete opposite of the Tudor Lady.  This piece is whole cotton cross stitches only, whereas the last one was cross stitch, petit point, satin stitch, beading, rayons, metallics and what have you.  This is simplicity itself and will make a nice change to stitch.=)

As always, head over to Pintangle to see what the rest of the WIPW-ers have been doing.

There should be a tutorial coming up this weekend!  I'm just going to make a start on writing it/preparing the photos, so look out for that, Friday or Saturday.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 18 August 2014

Needlequest Update - 18 August 2014

Hi!  Welcome to another week and another Needlequest update and piece completed.=)  This is a rather experimental small piece, but I'm quite pleased with the finish,

First I painted the whole flower using the paints I showed you last NQ post.  I was amazed at just how pearlescent the pearl paint is, even more than the metallic, I think!

I created the colours I wanted by mixing pearl, metallic and regular fabric paints together and, although one of the greens came out a little more lurid than I'd wanted, (I should have added red earlier than I did!) I was favourably surprised at how well I'd remembered colour mixing theory!!!

The next stage was to select some colours to stitch with.  I decided to use some of my new DMC threads for two reasons: 1) I bought them and want to use them; and 2) They're easier to select from as they're still all hanging around in clear plastic bags in colour groups, so I can just pick them up and see what I want straight away, rather than mess around with the Anchor colour chart and then fishing the skeins out of the box.  Oh, yes, there's another reason for choosing DMC for this project and that is that, as several other experienced stitchers have noted, DMC shades are brighter and just that little bit shinier than Anchor ones.  One project needs one type and another project the other brand.

Here are the colours I pulled out.  I used five of them - both yellows, both pinks and the brownest green, #580.

Here are the results, the top photo showing detail and the contrasting textures and the second shot giving an overview of the whole piece.

I just need to mount it in a card blank now and get it in the post to my brother tomorrow as his anniversary is on Wednesday.=)

Something for my fellow Needlequesters to think over:

I've noticed that techniques and styles seem to attract better levels of participation than design themes do, so I'm planning on changing the topics for two of the four remaining months of the challenge.  I'm going to leave September as 'Autumn' as that's a fairly easy design theme to work with and, of course, 'Stumpwork' will stay in.  Other than that, I'm considering two from '3D Stitches', 'Hardanger' and 'Miniaturisation' for the other two months.  Any preferences?  Also, as stumpwork and 3D stitches are related, which order should it all go in if we had both of those, would you say?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 13 August 2014, plus a WIPW review!

The trouble with starting a new piece, especially a new cross stitch, is that there really isn't very much to show in the early stages.  Often, the first steps look much more like something very different from what they actually are.  Remember the 'cross stitched Emmenthal cheese' look in the first month of the Tudor Lady project?  Well, I'm not really sure what this section of tropical ocean looks like, but it's the first bit of my Paradise Island picture.  I've done quite a bit more since, but it was barely worth taking an extra photo, to be honest!  It's more of the same, really.  (OK, OK, it'll look more when updated next week too!!!)

So, as there's so little to show with this new endeavour, I thought I'd do a little review of what I've achieved in the just under two years that I've been joining in Sharon B's Work in Progress Wednesdays blog-along.  My first WIPW post was back on 6 September 2012 and I decided to enter two stalled pieces in the challenge, the first to be finished being the Rolled Roses Brazilian embroidery piece:

The other one, not finished for over a year more, was Cross'n'Patch's 'Sunshine and Flowers' sampler:

The next piece entered, and the most recent to be finished was my peacock feather, which you will remember from the WIPW post just last week.  It took me a long time to convince myself to finish that one, but I did work on it in two or three bursts of activity.  Reporting back to WIPW was a great help in getting both that and the other four pieces complete.

What about the final two?  Well, one is the Tudor Lady that I showcased just a couple of weeks ago and that is currently on my desk in the middle of being stretched pre-framing.  You'll see that again soon when I show my little collection for the Fayre just before the event itself.  I wasn't ever really struggling with this piece, I just decided to post an update most Wednesdays and stay in the WIPW 'group.'

The other piece was entered in two finishing challenges, WIPW and also Anna Scott's 'Finished in February' which she did last year, and was a stumpwork bunny rabbit adapted slightly from the design in 'The A-Z of Stumpwork' from Country Bumpkin (now known as Create in Stitch).

So, altogether, five pieces in various styles.  Having the semi-commitment of reporting progress each Wednesday (and, frankly, wanting to have something to post about at all at times!), has really helped and, if you're having trouble motivating yourself to finish one or more projects and would love to be able to blog/post to on-line albums etc about some stitching victories, then you just might find WIPW helpful.  Hop over to Pintangle and find out more!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 11 August 2014

Needlequest update - 11 August 2014

Here we are again, working on a new theme/technique and I decided to use the lovely hibiscus thread painting from one of Trish Burr's books as the basis of my first (hopefully, i.e. I hope I'll be able to do more than one) experiment this month.  First I did a quick pastel drawing of it on some light blue paper.  The contrast is greater in reality, but it does show up a little here.

I've prepared this piece of blue fabric to work on and am thinking of using these pretty, metallic and pearl fabric paints to provide most of the colour in the piece.

I'll do the leaf in non-shiny paints, I suppose.  The metallic paint pack I bought didn't include the red or green shades, which I thought was a shame, and they only do larger sizes (the same size as the pearl white) in those.  I wouldn't mind that in theory, but in practice, my paint drawer is already full.=)

After painting the flower, I plan to pick out some details in stitch and, all being well, mount it in a card for my big bro's 20th wedding.  As that's in just over a week, I'd better get on with it....  

I had hoped to have got further along by now, but I've been spring cleaning (OK, just pretend I live in the southern hemisphere if you're picky!!), and have been devoting my time to mucking out the bedroom, living room and my study.  Ugh!  All that dust under the bedside tables (nightstands) etc.  No small wonder I was sneezing, dealing with itchy eyes and a runny nose!  I've been allergic to large amounts of dust over the past five years.  Strange.  I never was before.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Introducing Hanako!

Remember this exotic lady?  I didn't actually showcase the whole of her when I completed the appliqué and so on back in late Feb/early March as I wanted to save her and display her in situ.  Well, the scatter cushion cover she was made up into was finally finished on Wednesday, shortly after my posting the feather finish.=)

She's worked on white fine cotton lawn fabric, which was backed with another similar piece of white.  The appliquéd fabrics are Japanese imports bought in a fabric market in Taipei, Taiwan.  They were sold in either fat quarters or rolls about an eighth of a fat quarter in area for patchwork and quilting (which seems quite popular in both countries).  The background to the hands and face was painted using Colourcraft's fabric paints and all the outlines were put in using good old anchor stranded cottons.

Sewing this one up was almost as bad as all those trousers! I think it was too much at one time.  It was also the most complex scatter cushion cover I'd ever done, having a border with mitred corners on, plus piping.  It was my first go at mitred corners and three of the four came out very well.  The fourth just missed, but the gap isn't really glaring, so I decided to let it go and put that down to experience.=)

So, what do you think?  Was she worth the five month wait?!!

Here's the top corner of the back so you can see the pretty backing fabric.  I actually used the same one that appears in Hanako's obi.

I think I'll send a photo to the 'Inspirations' magazine team , because I got the outline for her from a back issue and they may be interested to see what I've made of it.  I'm considering sending a shot or two of the ring cushion to Helen M Stevens too.=)  Have you ever sent photos of your work to the designer?  What happened?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 6 August 2014

The management are delighted to announce another misnomer of a Work in Progress Wednesday post, because: THE FEATHER IS FINISHED!


The bottom is a little odd, but I decided that nature is rarely that 'even' and, whatever it looked like, it was finished!

I am now officially UFO free.  Not that I ever had many, just this hanging around from my C&G days back in autumn 2008 and a few painted canvas needlepoint kits from childhood (25-30 years old!).  The only thing I have now that's in any way started is the butterflies 'spring' piece that I made a rotten start in silks on back in April, then took all the stitches out.  I plan to work that one this month, but as the actual stitching's unstarted, it can't really be classed as unfinished either.  It's more like having a kit in stock, or a printed design.

Actually, I finished the feather a few days ago and have been busy clearing the sewing decks since - altering 4 pairs of trousers (NEVER again!) and making up the Hanako cushion (look out for her at the weekend....).  I'm wearing one of the pairs of trousers right now, the other three are residing in my recently cleared out wardrobe and Hanako is almost finished, just need to complete the zip insertion, which I'm part-way through, and then sort out the ends of the bottom seem.

So, what am I working on stitch-wise at the moment?  This is as far as I've got with anything:

An R&R frame loaded up with some 28ct black Jobelan!  Inspiring and informative, no?=)

Here it is again with some threads on it.  A floss toss, no less!

In case you're wondering what this little collection is all about, then look no further than the following image, a design from exactly the same cross stitch magazine as the Tudor Lady!

I thought it would make a nice scatter cushion for Sir's room.  Mine won't be precisely the same as some of the sky in the original is unstitched as the piece was designed in delft blue Aida, which is no longer made.  Also, I don't much like working on Aida anymore (except for blackwork, which I'm still in the infancy of) and SewandSo had no suitable blue evenweave available, so I thought, 'Bubbles to blue.  I'll do it on black.'  Also, I've changed some of the shades of blue and will finalise the greens as time goes on.  I'm very sensitive to greens being just so.

So, that's the next WIPW project.

To see what others have been doing this week, click on over to Pintangle and even leave a link of you own of work you've been doing on a large project.  WIPW is a kind of weekly Weight Watchers weigh in for stitchers and is very handy for providing the impetus to get on with a project that may have been dragging for a while, or even a UFO.  I find I have a lot more motivation as I want to post about it each week and have already finished quite a few things that may have otherwise got neglected.  I'll do a WIPW review soon.=)

Yes, Glenis, I could be persuaded to complete one or two of your projects, as long as I like them and I don't have loads of things that I need to get on with, that is.

Right.  Time to get away from my laptop and get Hanako's zip fully done and then, wow! I've nothing more in progress!  Clear decks.


Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Friday, 1 August 2014

Needlequest July round-up and August intro - fabric colouring techniques

Another quiet month for NQ participation, but here's what we do have for the theme of Crockery and Tableware:

* I finished up my little blackwork cup.  Thanks for the comments about wonky being OK, I appreciate your encouragement.  Having said that, I do prefer straight myself so, when I re-do and develop this design (as I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would), I'll straighten it up somewhat!!=)

* Pamela worked a cross stitch trim for a kitchen towel for her piece.  She used the design from an old favourite crock set as her inspiration and pattern.

* Dorte has posted photos of her finished up pouch made from the blackwork pieces she did for the May Quest and also an experiment textile sample for her line work for June.  She's been on holiday on the island of Rhodes recently and has posted some glorious photos.  The text is Danish, but the photos are universal.=)

My stitching plans for July with results follow:

* Finish the wedding ring cushion.  Done!
* Finish this Tudor Lady piece.  Done!
When those two were complete, then:
* Do the blackwork pottery sample for the Needlequest.  Done!
* Complete, or at least substantially progress, the feather.  Done!  (It'll be complete to show you on Weds)
* Make up the Hanako scatter cushion (and do my trouser alterations) whilst I have the machine out for making up the ring cushion.  Finally chose the finishing materials, but haven't started any sewing yet.

Had I not lost about a week in total to illness, I would easily have finished this list, so I do still consider it a victory and any and all pigs may take off at their earliest convenience.=)

So, onto August's theme: Fabric colouring techniques!  Time to experiment with anything and everything that will change the colour of your fabric.  Here are some rather vibrant samples from my C&G days:

Painted silk habotai ready for embroidery

A rather over-lurid fabric painted sample.  It was meant to be autumn leaves, but the vibrancy of the sky made it look more like a brilliant spring day!!

Hand-dyed fabric with some Broderie Anglaise stitching on it.

My plans are to try a bit more with fabric and silk paints, maybe do one or two simple flowers and stitch in some outlines.  I also want to try more dyeing of fabrics, both a few pieces to stitch on and also some clothes that have got stained and aren't wearable in their present state anymore.  I need to get a larger dyeing vessel first though, maybe just a big bucket!!

Other than that and getting the leftover sewing from July done, here are my plans for August needlework-wise:

* Start tropical island cross stitch (for WIPW)
* Work butterflies small piece (the one I planned for NQ April)
* Stumpwork face card for my niece
* 20th anniversary card for my bro
* Find a way to create a single image banner for my stitching blog (ideas welcome!)
* Try to mend Sir's jumper (doubtful)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 30 July 2014

Just the usual quick check-in today with my WIPW progress photo.

As you can see, I've been working a little on the right hand fronds.  I estimate there to be something like three hours work left in this piece and then I'm a totally UFO free zone.  Hurrah!  In fact, one the Hanako cushion is sewn up, there won't be anything half done (oh, unless you count the camera case I've been meaning to sew for the past 5 years and have got no further than cutting some bits of fabric to use.)  I've decided to complete this before starting my new cross stitch etc etc....

I would have had it mostly done by now, but I've ended up in bed again with another bug.=(  Still, I usually feel a little better in the evenings, so maybe I might sit up for half an hour and work on it later on.

I actually feel quite keen and motivated and, since leaving the remaining left hand fronds for later and starting on the other side instead, I feel so much closer to the finish line.  Hopefully I'll display the completed piece next week.

As always, you can find out more about Work in Progress Wednesdays and see what others have been accomplishing lately over on Pintangle.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 28 July 2014

Needlequest Update - 28 July 2014

I haven't done a thing stitchwise from completing the Tudor Lady a week ago until just now when I did a bit on my NQ piece for the month!  Nice to have a week off to devote to other things (like the huge wardrobe clear out that took place early last week!), but also nice to get back to it.=)

I transferred my charcoal sketch to a piece of graph paper and divided the parts of the design up into sections using the two six element blackwork filling patterns you can see here.  The idea was to reflect the shading by filling in more and more sections of the pattern.  I think it would work well, if carefully done.  However, I decided to cut the design right down and just do the cup at the front both in view of time and interest constraints.  It's only a challenge sample, when all's said and done, and isn't meant for anything else.

It's when you get to stitch the outlines that you realise just how wonky your sketch is!!  If it was for something important/serious (i.e. had I still been doing it for a C&G sample), I would have reworked the whole design to make sure it was decently symmetrical!!  Anyway, the next stage is to fill it in and I should be able to show you that for the monthly round up and next month's intro which is due on Friday.

In the meantime, if fellow Needlequesters have any links to post, esp. for inclusion in the monthly round-up, please leave a comment on this post by close of play on Thursday.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Friday, 25 July 2014

Ring Bearer Cushion/Pillow - completed project and the wedding!

Here's the finished embroidery still in the hoop.

Below is a close up of the lower leaf section, (about the only close up shot that came out well!!!)

The finished item from various angles:

You may have noticed that the first, in the hoop pictures didn't feature any tiny dewdrop beads.  Well, there's a story behind that!  When the stitchery was finished, I decided that it didn't need any other trims and decided just to make it up without beading etc.  However....

When I was pressing the flatwork from behind, the silk went all puckery and odd.  I knew it was nothing to do with the backing or the iron being too hot, but I didn't know how to solve it.  So, I tried steaming it with the iron.  That's when our delightful and rather ancient steam iron decided to spew out jets of rusty water all over my precious embroidery!  You can imagine the howl of horror I let out!  I'm glad Sir was in the States at an academic conference at the time as I may otherwise have wasted time taking it to show him the disaster.  As it was, I ran straight to the bathroom washbasin to rinse out as many of the marks as I possibly could under the cold tap.  I was more relieved than I can tell you that the vast majority of them came straight out.  Phew!

Next I pressed what I could of the un-embroidered areas with the iron on cool (and steam OFF!) and then put the whole thing back in it's original hoop and set it in front of my study fan heater to dry again.  Not only did it dry nicely, but it also pulled out all those original funny puckers!!  I was left with one or two light brown marks that most people wouldn't have noticed, but that weren't good enough for me.  So, I got out the petite seed beads and put one on top of each tiny mark!  I added a few more in certain unmarked areas to even things up a bit.

I won't try your patience with all the hassles incurred whilst putting it together, I'll only say that I had neither time, desire nor inclination to add the braids I'd made.  It really didn't add anything to the finished product and I was feeling a spot on the stressed side by this time.  Anyway, into a Tesco zip-lock freezer bag and then into a gift box it went, ready to hand over to the happy couple.=)

When I'd managed to calm fully down, I felt quite proud of my work and although one or two of the friends I told the near miss story to said, 'You shouldn't tell people that', I realised I wasn't only enjoying having a tale to tell, I was also rather proud of having done a good rescue job.=) LOL!

Here's the piece 'in action':

And here's the happy couple after the ceremony posing for their promised photo with their gift.=)

I really did learn huge amounts from this project.  As usual, that was more what not to do next time than anything, but it was a good learning process, if a little tense at times!

Now then, what's next up....?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014