“Hello…It’s Me…

…I’ve thought about us for a long, long time”  (sing along with Todd Rundgren)

Yup.  I’ve thought about us for a long, long time.  Through two computers, in fact.  I have killed two computers in one year!  And frankly dealing with anything computer-ish has been sickening for me!

Actually, I have been loving being computer-free!  I’ve had a lot more time for stitching and reading.  I’ve participated in a few stitch-alongs (SALs).  A couple have been blackwork!

One of three blackwork finishes in the past year.

One of three blackwork finishes in the past year.

Banu Demirel SAL

This is the beginning of a SEBA SAL around Xmas 2013

 

Currently…

I’m working on three SALs and in the last two weeks of a design class with Sharon Boggon.  The first project in the class was a monotone piece.  I used a kaleidoscope image of one of the patterns in the chess board that I made for Jeff.  Here’s the finished class piece:

Modern take on old form

Some old blackwork fill patterns mixed with some modern threads, a few canvas stitches, some embroidery stitches, and some beading!

Would you like to join me in the two blackwork SALs I’m doing?

Both are year-long projects.  One is a quick to stitch canvas take on Sashiko, very much like blackwork.  You could be caught up in less than a week.  The pattern is updated on the first of every month and is FREE.  You can find it (and a lot of other cool patterns) at Blue Dogwood Designs.  I am using my own colorway.

Pattern by Kay Fite at Bluedogwood Designs

My own rainbow colorway.

The other SAL is more time-consuming but a true joy for the blackwork freak (a non-derogatory 1970s term for someone loves something almost to the exclusion of all else!)  You will learn oodles and oodles about “journeys.”  You don’t have to do this as a reversible piece; in fact, I don’t think you can.  But you can practice tracking journeys so your backs will be very neat so when you want to do a reversible piece, you will feel more than ready.

In fact, for the first blocks I will be posting pics and notes about how I tackled each block so you have as few dark threads crossing as possible on the back side.  So if you’re anxious about how to tackle the more complex pattern, we can talk about it here.  We can help one another!

The best news is that the piece is designed by Elizabeth Almond, one of my blackwork heroines!  The design is called “Saving the Stitches.”  Here’s a bit of my work.  I’ve gotten quite a bit further on, but don’t have it photographed yet.  But, I think this will entice you to try your hand at this free pattern, too.

Elizabeth Almond's SAL

This the first 3 blocks. Not all metallics have been added yet.

Save the Stitches close up

Shows work a bit more clearly. I am loving stitching this. You will, too!

Are you convinced yet?  Get the pattern at Elizabeth Almond’s website with new installments on the first of the month every month for a year or so!  When you are ready to share your progress send me a note so I can link to your blog or website!

 

 

Blackwork SAL Starting May 17

Avis of “Oh Sew Tempting” is organizing a Mystery Stitch Along at her blog.  It will feature a design she has created.  Get the details at her blog.  I don’t think you have to do anything to join.  Just show up!  I’m going to!

I just finished my Seba Claire93 SAL that Avis mentions.  You can read about it and see it on the latest The Shop Sampler post.

Blackwork Journey

Ort Box with reversible blackwork

Reversible Blackwork: stitching the same on both sides of the canvas

The word journey keeps coming up for me these days.  Of course, thinking about the word journey leads me to think about blackwork stitching, especially reversible blackwork. (We’ll look at blackwork journeys much more closely in the future.)

It also makes me think of my two blackwork design projects, the mystery sampler and the thread sampler fabric book.

Since I’ve started my virtual apprenticeship with Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo to learn the process of creating Tibetan Buddhist thangkas, I was reminded that concentrating on the end product is not as valuable as attending to what is learned in “the journey.”

This is so true when I consider my impetuous and rather simple-minded plan to design a blackwork sampler.  By the time I’ve completed the design I will have learned about

  • thread and it’s interaction with ground fabric and one thread’s relationship to other threads
  • shading in blackwork by working with different numbers of strands of thread as well as different weights of thread
  • the process of design, kind of like how a child learns plaids don’t necessarily go with paisley
  • cultures that have been using blackwork in their designs for centuries
  • innumerable resources.that I can catalog and share here
  • and I will have met quite a number of people

Already I have learned

  • to slow down and look more closely at details, the small bits.  (I’ve always been a big picture kind of person.)  This requires a bit a patience
  • to accept that this blog is about sharing with others and documenting my process and interaction with blackwork embroidery.  It is not about producing something that will earn me followers and get big numbers.  (Although it is always nice to know you are not the Lone Ranger!)
  • loads about balance, not just in design, but in daily life.  I’ve always been kind of an all or nothing sort of person.  But so much is missed when you don’t follow “the middle way,” looking all ways along the way.

I am enjoying this journey.  And, after all, stitching is supposed to be fun!

What does your stitching life teach you?  How has stitching changed your life in little ways or big?  What kind of Journey are you taking?  Are you on the Blackwork Journey with me?

Giveaway over at The Shop Sampler

This is what I’m doing at The Shop Sampler.  Join in if you like!

Hurricane Sandy Embroidery Pattern Giveaway

Posted on November 3, 2012 by 

I’m slowing but surely getting back to regular life given traveling, the leg injury, and frozen shoulder—just like those effected and affected by Frankenstorm Sandy.

I have purchased an extra of a charming pattern created over at The Floss Box to help support the financial efforts of recovery from Sandy.  This is the image:

Pattern from The Floss Box

This pattern is being sold as a fund raiser for Frankenstorm Sandy survivors.

I will give my extra copy to the 13th person to like and/or comment on this post.

For those of you who would like to do the same on your blogs, here is the link to the page at The Floss Box.

http://www.theflossbox.com/store/pattern/sandy-cross-stitch

Go to The Shop Sampler if you’re interested in participating.

Thread Sampler Cover

I have been working diligently on my Thread Sampler.  It’s unfortunate that life keeps getting in the way or I’d be onto the first page of threads!

I finally came up with a title for my fabric book.  I wanted something that sounded kind of Medieval and definitely wanted to use an old English script for the lettering.

The title:

Specimens
of
Threads
Sampled
by
Julie Castle

The lettering:

Thread Sampler Cover Graph

I like the letters, but not the spacing

Thread Sampler Cover Graphed

The little numbers represent the width and height of each word.

I like the lettering which I found on the (free!) alphabets pattern page at Embroidery and Embroider.  But I decided I want only one space between letters, two between words on the same line, and three between lines.

I don’t like the program I used to graph this.  It’s really hard to move things around and copy and paste repeats.  So where I would expect to graph in an ‘e’ once and copy and paste where needed repeatedly I ended up graphing it over and over.  Very tedious. Graphing colors could be easier, too.  In November I’ll be taking Sharon Boggin’s course on using GIMP which I’m hoping will be the answer to my design software needs and wants.

I am loving the Kreinik silk Mori thread.  It is so soft it makes me think of one of my favorite scarves/shawls.  A very warm and comforting feeling.  But I ran out.  Actually I should have had enough to do the full cover, but I think the last length of six strands walked away with a dog (most likely my black and silver mini schnauzer, Taz) and is probably hanging in a bush outside somewhere.  Ah well, a bird or chipmunk will have access to some real luxury nest material!  Next week I’ll go to my favorite local shop and pick up a couple more skeins.

Thread Sampler Fabric Book Cover

Title of the thread sampler fabric book stitched thus far in cross stitch with Kreinik Silk Mori, two plies of black

And here is the back of this piece:

Thread Sampler Fabric Book Cover

This is the backside of the stitching thus far. It is not supposed to be reversible, just very neat.

Part of the reason I wanted the space between the letters to be one stitch width is so I don’t have to worry too much about being able to see lines of black thread being carried from letter to letter from the front.  I use a loop method or away knot to start my threads and bury them as soon as I finish a length of thread.  In this way I can assess my neatness as I go and there will be no disappointments when the piece is completed.

Now, on to the actual thread samples and the pages of this fabric book!

When we get to Alabama for the winter I will order some fabric for the book cover that will frame the title stitching.  I’m thinking a brocade, something sturdy and heavy.  I like this and this, too.  I’ve done some research on what might have been used in early book binding and really don’t want to use leather as my sewing machine probably wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Which of the cover fabrics do you like best?  You might want to seriously consider this question because if I order too much I may just have to give the extra away to some lucky reader!  I’ll keep you posted!

Blackwork Experimental Sampler In Progress

This Coptic  motif is 34 stitches by 34 stitches

Please ignore the arrows. This motif is 34 stitches by 34 stitches. It would make a charming border

This little project is a marriage of my love of blackwork and my love of samplers.  Anyone who has been following The Shop Sampler blog will know that I have been playing with samplers and stitch practice for this year through the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge at PIn Tangle and with the support of the Stitchin’ Fingers community.  I have also joined the Yahoo group The Sampler Life.  (As if I didn’t already have enough internet reading to do!)  It is also a good group that is supportive and very creative as well as opening up even more of the international stitching world.

I mentioned in my last post that I am an avid fan of the Antique Pattern Library and have joined that Yahoo group, too.  It’s the best way to keep up with what’s new at the Library.  Also an international community of stitchers, I’m expecting that anyone needing help with translations can find someone there.

So, here’s the deal.

  1. I have struggled with what thread I want to use for my Mystery Sampler project.  I’ve looked at and bought a sample of every black thread out there.  I have read about different people’s preferences.
  2. I have been playing with different (colored) threads in my TAST projects and it is very clear how certain threads work for one desired effect and some threads will not work in the same situation.  Like twisted thread works well for Double Twisted Chain, but stranded thread just looks messy in that stitch.
  3. It is clear—Thread matters!
  4. Samplers are the tried and true method of testing patterns!  Hence birth of a new sampler!

Oh boy!  You would think you could just pick up your fabric and start stitching.   WRONG!

Well, maybe a little right.  But I want this sampler to be useful, to be a really good reference, like the Encyclopedia Britannica of blackwork thread usage.  Or Wikipedia entry of blackwork thread usage for those of you who are younger than Baby Boomers!

So what features should be incorporated into this sampler for it to be eternally useful?

  1. The threads should be identified clearly in the sample or there should be a legend that will never be separated from the sampler.
  2. The threads should be used as fully as they would in any worked piece.  In other words, if the thread is a stranded one, then strand usage should be incorporated to the piece.
  3. The sampler should answer any question a person might have about the thread as used in any type of work.
  4. The threads sampler should show very clearly the differences between the various thread samples.

And another thing—

  1. How does ground affect the thread usage?  How can I work this into the sampler?  Certain fabrics tend to “eat up” the pattern.  Like Aida 14 or Fiddlers Cloth just don’t show silks off at all, in my opinion the fabric is too heavy and overpowers the delicate strength of the silk.  [Are there fabric/thread combinations that you simply would never use?]
  2. How does the thread work with colored threads in the case I want to get into the latest thing in blackwork—Colored Monochrome?  I don’t know about you, but I have experienced how different colored threads behave differently than the exact same thread in another color.  Because the dye has an effect on the fiber.  I have found reds can sometimes be rather knotty to work with.  [How about you?  What thread colors have you had weird experiences with?]
  3. [Can you think of other questions that should be considered in planning this sampler?]

I have answered some of these questions, in fact many of them at thigs point.  But before I tell you what I have figured out, I want to hear from you.  How would you answer these questions?  What other questions do you think would be important? You tell me then I’ll tell you.  Deal?!

I’ll give y’all a couple days to mull this over before I post again!

Blackwork in the Back seat

Yup.  That’s where blackwork has been for me for a while.  Kind of like it’s in the incubator of my creative brain, waiting to hatch.  Soaking up all kinds of warmth and light, sounds and sensations.

And guess what?!  There’s activity in the “egg.”  It’s about to hatch!  And you get to watch. This is what candling has revealed.

I  transcribed this pattern from a DMC publication written by Thérèse de Dillmont.  I believe it was published in 1908 as it is the Second Book.   There was another published in 1890, the year of Thérèse de Dillmont’s death.  Her niece, also named Thérèse de Dillmont, continue writing for DMC after 1890.

The title of the publication is L’ Art Chrétien en Égypte:  Motifs de Broderie Copte, Deuxième Partie.  Translated:  Christian Art in Egypt:  Coptic Embroidery Motifs, Part Two.   This pattern is on page 9, Panel (Planche) 4 , Design (Dessin) 18.

I found my copy of this pattern book at the Antique Pattern Library.  If you have not checked this resource out yet, you are missing out on an incredible treasure, just like Project Gutenberg.  On the home page of the Pattern Library, click on the catalog tab.  Then click on the technique tab and choose the type of pattern you are looking for.  DO NOT let the fact that many of the pattern books are in non-English languages.  Find yourself a translation tool at Google and you are home—Free!

Yes these patterns are free for you to use as there are no longer copyright holders to the text.  However, you Do Not own the pattern.  The person who approved the scan owns the pattern, thus is technically the copyright holder according to the Creative Common Licensing regulations.  In this case that would be: s cans donated by Sytske Wijnsma, edited Judith Adele 2006.

Bottom line, if you decide to use this pattern, you MUST give the total reference including title of the work, original author, and the owner of the hard copy.  But is that really such a big deal?  I think not!  (Oh, yeah, ignore the arrows before you use this pattern, my software wouldn’t let me remove them.)

Since I had a Major allergic reaction today, I’m going to end this lesson for today. Tomorrow you’ll get to see what is going to happen to this little Coptic motif.