Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday 26 Sept 2012

A key part of my posting on Getting UFOs finished asks the reader to assess just why the project got put aside.  Was it through boredom?  Gone off the project?  Lack of motivation?  Project too hard?  There are a number of reasons and I thought it was time I thought about why I was struggling to get and then keep going on my WISPs (works in slow progress).

It's not boredom as I associate that with large, monotone backgrounds and things like that.  I haven't gone off either of them design-wise and there is motivation to finish them as they're both for other people and the WIP Weds posting idea also helps to have something ready to post each week.  So, I'm left with them being hard.

This is how far I've got on the Sunshine and Flowers sampler:

As some of you might remember from previous postings on the subject, I was doing quite well and then it suddenly seemed to get stalled.  Admittedly, there were other 'due soon' projects, such as wedding things, that intervened, but apart from the frame being too large and unwieldy as I mentioned last time, there is one other problem:  The chart is exceptionally hard to follow.  I find I have to read and re-read sections each time just to find out where I am and then I'm still puzzled.  There are two permutations and sometimes the chart instructions don't specify where there are differences and you can lose time working out that it's the other version that has 'four large flowers' whereas the version I'm doing has five etc.

Another thing that gets me is that it seems to assume that you know what the designer has in mind without you having to be told.  Section 5c says: 'Begin the Fly stitch center with a single Backstitch.'  Now, quite apart from the fact that stitch names do not need to be (and should be) written with initial caps, what fly stitch centre?  There's no indication on the graphic chart that any part is done in fly stitch (there's no key, apart from the usual symbols for cross stitch colours), either of this flower centre or anywhere else.  It just looks like small satin stitches there and it's only by looking through 3 different parts of the chart that you can just about work out what on Earth is required!  Frustrating, time consuming and puzzling.  That's why it's got neglected.  And these are relatively simple parts.  I dread to think what's it's going to be like when I get to the large, cutwork gate section!

The second WISP I'm moving slowly forward on is this Brazilian piece:

So, what's holding this one up?  Cynthia and 'Bunny' both asked about the thread last time.  It's rayon thread, specially made for Brazilian work (Edmar Lola, colour 007, variegated lilac), and is the world's number pain in the neck to work with.  Bullion knots are not my favourite things to work as I can't manage it without puckering the fabric to save my life (tips welcome!), but this thread is just beastly.  I can hardly describe why, but it seems to object to being wrapped and the part that hasn't gone around the needle then starts to try and twist the other way, thus making it a real challenge to get the needle and thread back through the fabric and the knot completed.  The thread looks gorgeous, but it's a real headache to work with.  The last two stitching sessions have been started with a rose and a half and then I moved on to the sampler, (frying pan to fire??).

So, I'm trying, bit by bit, to get on with these pieces and am looking forward to when I can a) follow the Cross'N'Patch chart without wanting to burn it; and b) get the bullions finished on the rose piece and can move on to the greenery!


Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2012


Anonymous said...

Elizabeth--regarding your Brazilian embroidery and the problem you are having with your bullions...have you tried wrapping your thread in the opposite direction? Rayon thread is a Z-twist thread and must be wrapped around the needle in the opposite way from cotton, wool or nearly any other thread in order for it to behave properly.

Rayon bullions wrapped in the right direction should slide over that needle really smoothly. You also need to control the twist once it's off the needle and on the thread, but wrapping in the correct way will help with that, too.

You didn't mention you have tried this, but if you have, my apologies for telling you something you already know.

Carol S.

Elizabeth Braun said...

Thanks Carol, yes I have tried this. If you wrap it in the other (wrong) direction, then the knots won't form properly and the thread is 100% mucked up, not just 50%!! I am wrapping the right way, it's just that the remaining thread naturally 'protests' as it gets, in effect, twisted the other way whilst you're wrapping.=(

Cynthia Gilbreth said...

I have used rayon threads a couple of times and now I have a standing rule: Never touch rayon thread. I don't care what the project is, I won't use it. I'll find something else. If this rule prevents me from trying Brazilian embroidery, so be it. And you know what? I'm much happier for it.

Rachel said...

If the thread is too lively, try making a weak solution of hair conditioner and water, and wiping it over the strands and allowing them to dry before using them. Of course, this only works if the threads are colourfast, but it does sometimes help with lively threads. Try it with one length to see whether it helps with this one!

Rosalie said...

The Z-twist rayon floss that we use for Brazilian dimensional embroidery actually will make really beautiful stitches once you get the knack of working with the threads.

When you are making a bullion, take your stitch (needle up from fabric, in and back up again). Place the floss behind the needle (this will have you in position to wrap clockwise). Put the desired number of wraps on the needle. You'll notice you are adding kinks and twists but here's how to get rid of them:
BEFORE you pull the needle through to finish the bullion, grasp the floss tail and pull ALL of the floss through the eye of the needle (really LONG floss tail now), and then back it out to about a 3" floss tail. You have now gotten rid of lots of kinks and twists. Pull the needle through.

Now you don't want a really FAT bullion, so work with it a bit, pulling the needle so the floss tightens around the core thread. When you have the bullion worked down to about the thickness of 3 strands of Lola, pull the needle through, go down and out and settle the bullion in place.

Please visit the BDEIG website ( for more information, or check out the book "Floss Flowers Book 1" by Virignia Chapman. Virginia is a technical genius on working with the floss and stitches and we have all learned a lot from her.

Don't give up. This is beautiful dimensional embroidery (with the word "Brazilian" added when you work with Z-twist floss).

Rosalie Wakefield

Rosalie said...

Forgot to have you send comments to me at my blog. I'd love to know how it goes for you. Thanks! Rosalie.