Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving & Indigo

On Thanksgiving I was grateful for the usual things - family and friends, having a job that pays for books and food and a place to live and internet access - but also that I still have kitty. We had a couple of very bad days.

The shibori class is now over. I barely managed it, but I did end up with a narrow length of handwoven which is now turned blue and patterned.

Stitched and tied:

Dyed, not quite dry:
Untied and unstitched (but not yet rinsed; the color will lighten slightly - and the color is *not* accurate; it is definitely dark blue, not black):

I also dyed some of the same cotton yarn so that I will have matching yarn to make a hanging braid; part of this is going to be a small wall hanging. The rest will be assorted very small things, yet to be determined.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I don't care if Wednesday's blue... least if it's because of indigo.

Here are a couple pieces from last night. They all spent about the same amount of time in the vat; the color difference is because they are different types of fabric.

Squares - okay; circles - okay; but the triangles really tweak my horror vacui gene.

This is the sample handwoven - I *really* like it. Too bad it's so small...and wish me luck that I can get some more woven in time for the final class next week.

Food again. If you like kiwi fruit, you should try kiwi berries. They taste like kiwis, they look like kiwis, but they're only this big!

(Meet Antler Man; I don't believe he has appeared here before, but he gets around. While you're there, take a look around at some of the great photos. Not by me, just to be clear.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Seasonal Libation, and Several Sundry Tidbits

Alas for the long hiatus - although I've had my delightful, completely functional new computer fully-installed for well over a month, it is the first time I've hooked up the camera to it. I suppose I might catch up eventually.

Seasonal libation:

Something completely different - a "Romanesque broccoli" which caught my eye at the grocery store (what is that? oh, that's PRETTY)

I'm taking a class wherein I have access to indigo, so I've been making things blue:

And I managed to weave a bit of fabric - these are the samples (washed and unwashed) - the intention is to weave more and dye it blue. At this point I'm dubious I'll get it done; we'll see. I'm still having difficulties from having several fingers not quite in, not quite out of joint. Weaving is not too bad; tying knots is, so the set up is irritating, as is preparing fabric for dyeing.

And, to round things out, a kitty picture. Recently this Nap Box has returned to favor; nose in the corner is one particularly-Princess posture.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Apparently August

It is still cool - not that I miss the 100+ weather we can get, but I've only worn shorts about three times this summer. I have turned a fan on twice.

I never got around to posting this, from early July.

Such a tiny embroidered face looked...wizened. But I decided to just finish anyway, because I knew of no rule precluding a tiny feather-cloaked lady from being wrinkled. Er, the cat hair is, ah, for scale.

No embroidery since then, as six weeks ago I (sprained?) two fingers on one hand and they still don't work right. Frustrating in a lot of ways, including that the weather is perfect for schlepping and organizing, except you can't do that one-handed. I had planned on doing the outdoor closet so I could install a hook to hang my bike, and I need to repot some plants, such as the hens & chickens the jays keep vandalizing.

Instead, I've read a lot, and managed to start getting back to painting. Hence the pods. Here are the next two stages:

Time for the little brush on the black and white painting; I think one more session of black and white before I add color. The colored painting...I'm somewhat stymied. I accidentally made a large pepto pink - yikes. Maybe it will help to get an apple to model for me. I need more practice figuring out how the different paints work together...which is after all the reason for these studies. And seeing the pictures all together reinforces my niggling suspicion that the last time I worked on them I made them worse. Some of it is my photography - even dry they're kind of shiny. And the camera seemed pretty unhappy with bright red and green.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Where has this summer gone? - or, where has it been? Because it just really finally got here. It's hard to be convinced by the calendar when the weather is cool and overcast.

At any rate, the weather has been almost completely like summer since last weekend, when I went on a hike:

(If you look at the large version, you can just barely make out one of the hawks that was circling around and around--one of the tall grasses points at it.)

Yesterday Princess had an excellent day.

And I finally got in gear and did some painting--two new in-process and one probably almost done practice piece from a while ago:

The pomegranate/seedpods are experiments in that one is going to be only colors, and the other is starting off with the black and white underpainting as per the workshop I took a couple of years ago. Initial notes: I "get" black and white. Instant color is fun. And I tend to either use very little or way too much Liquin (thinner).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another project! And a plethora of pictures.

This is the embroidery that was the antidote to the math embroidery. I started it Monday and sewed the last few beads on Friday! It has to be a record. (Blue linen, DMC embroidery floss and beads, 2 1/2 x 3 3/8 inches.)

I've been kind of hankering to do an owl for a while, and a week ago I realized it would be now. I didn't actually expect this particular owl, but that's what happens sometimes.

Speaking of birds, I've been watching the heron family in the park next to where I work. I have a bunch of pictures - the nest pictures aren't really much to look at, but a few times I've been lucky to find a heron parent hunting. This one is from yesterday.

I continued my walk, and hit the avian jackpot - for I was passing the heron tree just as a heron parent swooped in for a landing: feeding time! It was a prolonged and raucous affair. The youngsters truly sounded like dinosaurs as they clamored and squabbled and jostled and flapped. (They used to sound like hoarse geese.) (Horse goose? That must be worse than a pig dog.)

Then when I got home, the light was just right to inspire a quick bit of photography. I made these a few years ago, and I still enjoy them. They consist of birch twigs, abaca paper (handmade by me!) and linen thread.

To completely round out this post, a nap kitty photo. (She's still grounded, and she is way calmer. I may allow bathtub again soon.)

I could have titled this post "The Owl and the Pussycat!"

Friday, June 3, 2011

Math + Embroidery =

SP (my Special Person) told me this was his favorite math formula. I instantly thought it would be perfect for a cross stitch embroidery. And I harbored this idea in secret.

SP cleverly used the formula as a decorative illustration in my birthday card. This was fortuitous because I had naturally instantly forgotten it, and now I had it and I didn't have to ask and risk spoiling the surprise.

Now, cross stitch is not really my thing, but it does have its applications. I've done a tiny bit of cross stitch. If you've done any serious cross stitch you would probably realize that I should have done some math. I knew I wanted this to be small, so I had to graph very minimal numbers otherwise it would be too big. Experimentation revealed that stitching a single strand of DMC over individual threads of 28-count linen would do the trick.

The equation went pretty fast, especially the second time. (The first time I did the "1" last and that is what demonstrated that two strands of DMC was too much - definite distortion of the fabric.) Then, background. Piece of cake; it would go along speedily, one stitch over and over, no counting.

Actually, instead of counting I should have multiplied. After taking approximately half an eon to do the first few rows of background, I did finally multiply.

Just over 2.5 inches square at 28 stitches per inch tallies out at just over 5,000 stitches.

At that point I didn't work on it for a few weeks.

Eventually I got back into gear; my cross stitch technique (and speed) improved. By the end I think I could do at least two rows an hour...this is an estimate based on my soundtrack - I never worked with a clock in sight!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Camera Captures Clever, Coordinated Kitty Cat Cuteness

(Excess verbiage to assuage alliterative affliction.)

Licking the damp bathtub is a pastime that gradually developed into a refined practice.

There are certain ways to have drinks. By last weekend, the pattern was developing thusly: drink out of bowl in kitchen (long spurned, recently returned to favor). Proceed to bathroom to drink out of favored water dish. Demand loudly of human to run bathtub. If human is present, demand loudly again that the water should have been left running for feline amusement, and then as feline water fountain. Exit bathtub and have another drink at favored water dish.

From the human's point of view, this was becoming a problem due to the extremely loud nature of the feline's requests, and the increasing frequency the feline felt it was necessary to have bathtub fountain, and the unfortunate earliness of certain requests. Demands.

Thus as of Sunday, Princess was "grounded" from the bathtub. She quickly caught on that noisiness did not help, even when the human was RIGHT THERE, and she made quiet, disgruntled entreaties which were very entertaining, and staked out the bathroom for long periods, hoping that the bathtub would be restored to service.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Project and Kitty Pictures

This is something I finished back in February - about 1 month from idea to rummaging around locating ingredients, to completion. It's about four inches square.

Sunday evening I realized I had knocked my doublet off the futon. Princess realized it first, and she knows a good thing when she sees it.

And here's a picture of Princess in the reigning favorite Nap Box:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weaving News

At long last, this afternoon I finally finished a weaving that has been languishing on the loom for ages. It was a warp set up for doubleweave (weaving two layers of cloth at the same time). More accurately, it was the tail end of a warp from ages ago when I took a weaving class. I wasn't able to finish the whole thing during the class, and I had to take it off the loom. (Couldn't waste all that string, after all.) I got my own loom a few years later, and at some point I decided I really had to finish up this warp. The main problem was that I wasn't very interested in it anymore...I finally figured out a simple pattern that would take advantage of the doubleweave set up, wherein one can laboriously row by row manually interchange the layers and create a pattern. I've cranked through it in the last few weeks; it came out okay, but I had tension issues and selvedge issues.

This is a close up of the patterning, which is made by trading the top layer to the bottom and the bottom to the top.

Now you can see the pattern--I told you it was simple! One interchange per row, that's it.

Almost done, and definitely done (no string left!):

Of the next two pictures, first is the front, then the back--you can plainly see the result of the tension issues in the spots where some of the threads didn't interweave properly. And the thicker lines are inattention issues, where I got the weft in the same shed twice.

Also, the sett was too close, so it's not a balanced plain weave--not necessarily a bad thing, just not what I had in mind. The section I had woven during the class seemed too loose...that definitely wasn't a problem here.

The best studio accessory--the feline muse--she has to go away from the living room when the loom is in use. (Sounds and moving parts. Not good.) One of the places I find her is the studio nap box.

This may be the first time that I finished something and posted the same day!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Today is five years since Princess moved in with me. She spent several days under the futon; all I saw was glowing yellow eyes, but sometimes I could reach in and pet the silky, invisible kitty.

These days she is much more relaxed. I left some yummy stinky treats for her before I left for work, and this evening she performed numerous balcony patrols and had a good nap in The Box.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Medieval Inspiration for an Embroidery...

or, Breakfast at the Ashmolean.

It’s just wonderful that institutions like the Ashmolean have invested in making their collections available online. Much as I would love to visit in person, it just isn’t least on short notice. And they wouldn’t allow tea!

In late December I finished the last bit of a small embroidery I started a long time ago. This experiment was prompted by historic examples in several books—separate inspirations for techniques and for motif.


"Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt," by Marianne Ellis.

Embroidery #5, pg. 16-17, done on linen fabric, is couched linen thread with silk filling in the background. Probably originally the end of a shawl, only the roughly cut off embroidered section remains. You can see it online courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum:
Textile fragment with Naskhi inscription, birds, and palmettes
Egypt, 12th century (1101 - 1200)

Embroidery #9, pg. 21, was couched with buttonhole stitching; that intrigued me, and I decided to try it.
Textile fragment with band of Naskhi inscription, scrolls, and floral pattern
Egypt, Ayyubid Period (1169 - 1260)

I really like how the couching turned out, though the effect I got in my embroidery is different than that in the picture. Some of the reason is probably that my embroidery was not buried in Egypt for 800 years.


The design is one I made up; basically, I needed something that fit the linen I found in my stash, which was left over from something else. The shape of my fabric (about 4 ¼” x 6 ¾”/11 x 17.5 cm hemmed) dictated a narrow composition), and the shape of the border is a nod to the Islamic inspiration for the embroidery technique I used.

As for imagery, I’ve been hooked on pomegranates for some time; conveniently, they were ubiquitous for centuries of textile designs. I was also enamored of the adorable little partridges from a 12th century Italian tapestry weaving. I found it in "Tongeren. Basiliek van O.-L.-Vrouw Geboorte: Textiel van de vroege middeleeuwen tot het Concilie van Trent" (a collection of medieval textiles in the Basilica in Tongeren, Belgium).

Woven silk tapestry fragment, used as a wrapper for a relic; Palermo, 12th century. It is very badly deteriorated, and was “repaired” with embroidery in the 19th century.

Thanks to the Royal Institute for the Artistic Heritage of Belgium, you can see this online: go to and search for cliché number: N7124 (the cliché number search box is under “Administrative Data”)

I decided the bird in my embroidery needed to be as big as possible, and I filled in the top with as many pomegranates and leaves as I could fit.

The filling stitches used in the Egyptian embroideries seem to be mostly stem stitch, but I confess I deciding on chain stitch for the partridge anyway—it fills in faster, and kind of looks like feathers. And I’m not sure what kind of silk it is, and since I need it for another project I thought chain stitch might possibly use less thread. The beads are also my idea.

More bibliographic detail:

Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt. Marianne Ellis. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2001.
1 85444 135 3 (paperback)
1 85444 154 X (hardback)
This excellent book is available from the Ashmolean—not only can you order directly from them, but they have THE ENTIRE THING online, hooked up to the collection! I just discovered this today, as I was tweaking my essay and playing with the links again. When you look at an item that was included in the book, you get the option to read the “object entry” about the item, and also to follow back to the Ashmolean publications…and then you can find all the items that are online that were included in the book. It’s very cool!

I recommend the book highly—it has superb photos, often full-page, in which you can usually see the threads of the ground fabric and of the embroidery; how often can you say that about photos of medieval textiles? Also there are a couple of diagrams that are probably not in the online version (a couple of stitches and some charted patterns).

Tongeren. Basiliek van O.-L.-Vrouw Geboorte: Textiel van de vroege middeleeuwen tot het Concilie van Trent. (Clenodia Tungrensis I.)
Uitgeverij Peeters, Leuven, 1988.
Available through Oxbow/David Brown Book Co. as well as from the publisher; as you probably guessed, it is written in Dutch. It contains many, many delightful things, but the photographs are mostly black and white, and often smaller than you’d like. There are some very nice diagrams (mostly of weaving structures), and detailed textile information. I recommend this book highly, but with the caveat that I think it would appeal mainly to serious textile geeks as it is heavier on the brain candy than the eye candy, especially if you don’t know Dutch—though since my German is decent, and I’ve read a bunch about textiles, I was able to work my way through it all right. That, and a serious need to know more about reliquary pouches.