Thursday, May 31, 2012

TAST 8: Chain Stitch

Record speed on this one - started Tuesday, finished Wednesday, posted Thursday!

I like chain stitch. I also like making pictures better than rows of stitching.

The big plant is mostly open chain stitch, tapering down to "regular" chain stitch. I was thinking of the charming horsetails plant, but the little plants look as much like asparagus spears as horsetails. They are "magic chain stitch" where you thread the needle with two colors and use them alternately.

The big plant was originally intended to have flowers, but it turned into a slightly different plant than my idea. Not a flower plant. It probably reproduces with spores.

Take a Stitch Tuesday on Pintangle: Chain Stitch

Horsetail (Equisetum) from the trip two weeks ago:

Special lizard bonus - I was hoping for a snake, and got a lizard! I was SO excited. The lizard escape technique is to dash madly for about a foot, and freeze unblinking as the hiker peers at you and takes pictures.

(We did see several snakes and a second lizard.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

TAST 7: Detached Chain Stitch

As I neared the end of the chevron stitch sample, I had a revelation: I was not enjoying it. These are SAMPLES. They are supposed to be fun. I do NOT need to cram in as many stitches as could possibly fit.

So, for this one, I left lots of space, getting around twinges of horror vacui by placement and just plain being tired of fanatical cramming. And presto, it was more fun to do - for one thing, I think I just like detached chain stitch better. Also, as its other name of lazy daisy stitch indicates, it is great for flowers and I had just seen lots of lovely flowers on last weekend's hikes.

This is the clearest embroidery-inspirer; I knew what stitches were coming up (since I'm so behind!) and this little flower was perfect.

Take a Stitch Tuesday
- detached chain stitch page.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TAST 6: Chevron Stitch

One more down for this year's Take a Stitch Tuesday.

Chevron stitch is nice enough, but I liked herringbone better. Not enamored of the lavenderish background color. It's a really loose weave, so I held muslin against the back as I stitched. The weave was clear enough to help a bit to align the stitches, but yet again, this is a stitch that would potentially be more pleasing to execute on an evenweave fabric. Alas, my cleverness in preparing dozens of pre-cut bits of fabric may be at least partially in vain. I think I will end up needing a bunch of evenweave.

Least appealing color experiment yet...I've started the next TAST already and like it much better. It is heavily influenced by wildflowers from the hiking trip last weekend. More about both some day soon.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

TAST 5: Herringbone Stitch (& other stuff)

Still trailing along behind. This time I looked at some of the posted examples on Pintangle before I completed my own sample.

Oh, I also haven't mentioned my main references:

Jacqueline Enthoven, "The Stitches of Creative Embroidery" (Reinhold Publishing Corp. 1968)
- a vast array of stitches, including unusual ones like Breton stitch, and many suggestions for use; diagrams are decent but basic, well-supplemented by written explanation.

Grete Petersen and Elsie Svennas, "Handbook of Stitches" (Van Nostrand Reinhold 1970)
- really great diagrams, no written directions. This small format book is my favorite for taking along if I imagine I will need diagrams. The left-hand page has the diagrams, and the facing page an embroidered sampler with all the stitches in use - labeled so you can tell what they are.

(Years back I figure out that I'm a diagram person, not a photo person - I wondered why I unhesitatingly bought some bookbinding books, while others didn't appeal even if they had nice things in them. Diagrams vs. photographs.)

In German, herringbone stitch is Hexenstich. I'm a bit rusty on my cases, and had to peruse the dictionary in order to decide that is feminine plural genitive, i.e. "witches' stitch." (Nice examples at Handarbeitswelt, which I discovered while testing that my recollection of "Hexenstich" was correct.)

Still having trouble with the photography, but here it is.

The stitch is kind of witchy magical, looking like that on the front, and like this on the back:

* twill: not good if you are still stubbornly trying to do even stitching without marking anything. I worked the top four rows, then started at the bottom and worked up. For the purple and green bit I drew pencil lines with a ruler, band that helped. I also drew the fish outline. (I had to do a fish, for the herringbone stitch. I hoped it would look sort of fossilized, but it looks more grilled.)

As a bonus, today I looked through the stacks of little drawings (even a few watercolors and collages) that I did back in 2006. There are 365 of them, one for every day. Kim told me about some "one piece of art a day" challenge (catch-up days allowed) and I *did* it. I'm pondering what to do with them so they are more accessible - I don't think I'd looked at them since I finished them. There are several pretty good things in thing I learned in art school: if you make a LOT of stuff, you will also make some good stuff. The main thing is to make stuff.

And a completely unrelated thing - my bellydance veil arrived today! I ordered it from A'kai Silks and it is gorgeous. (Of course, someday I want to make my own, but I am learning to be sensible. Now is not the time.) The first one went astray in the mail, and she had to make a replacement - and included a scarf with it! I can't wait to try it out in class. I started classes back in January, and recently I feel like I'm beginning to be somewhat coordinated. It's fun. If I can figure out how to take a picture that does justice to the luscious colors of the silks, I'll post one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TAST 4: Cretan Stitch

Ever since being on the cast of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" about 15 years ago, the word "Cretan" always triggers the line, "Oh no, a religious Cretan."

I really liked this stitch. It would be great for embroidering a trilobite.

Certain bits about the back were also surprisingly pleasing (the center area, behind the pods).

(Cotton, DMC 777)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ethnic Textiles: Turkoman

This for Sarah, because of the superb abundance of finishing treatments (for Complex Weavers).

In November this textile clearly indicated it should come home with me. The lady at the booth said it had been in her collection about 20 years; I don't know how much older than that it might be. It is Turkoman, and the wide part at the top is wool yarn done in the braid that tends to be called "fingerweaving." Six braids sewn side by side, and splendiforous fringe: wrapping with thread, wrapping with beads, tassel heads covered in what look like some sort of needlelace. Battered (tin?) beads - one of them has only its white (plaster?) core left. The fringe on the little tassels is thread over-twisted back on itself, so little beads and sequins can hang from it, and it doesn't have fuzzy cut ends. It delights me.

P.S. I belatedly realized I omitted measurements:
The width of the whole thing ranges from about 4 1/2" (right above the tasselage) to a bit over 5 1/2". The individual braids range from under 1" to a bit over 1" - they do not all have the same number of strands. I don't know if it shows very well in the photo, but there are actually several distinct shades in alternating braids; one of the reds is more intense, and one of the blacks is more blue. I wonder if it is really different dyes, or (bearing in mind something from Barber's Mummies of Ürümchi) if some of the yarn could be overdyed brown yarn instead of white.

The tassels are almost 7" from top wrapping to bottom bead. The braids themselves are hacked off irregularly at about 27-29"; fingerweaving tends to be worked from the center to one end, then reversed/upended to braid the other half. This leaves a distinctive diamond-ish pattern in the center, which is completely absent in the bit I have, so I don't know how long it may originally have been.

I also don't know what it might have been. It was made with love, but the yarn is kind of coarse. An animal trapping? Seems too stiff to be a sash, and in a cursory look at some pictures in Janet Harvey's Traditional Textiles of Central Asia and online does not seem to indicate any such thing.