The Trouble With Trebizond

When I started to stitch on my Blackwork Thread Sampler project I wrote this:

Trebizond silk twisted filament

Product image from http://www.purlsoho.com

“I was going to use the Trebizond for the cover because it’s so shiny and pretty.  But I didn’t like working with the silk.  Let me be more specific.  I did not like working with stranded Trebizond.  I will do some more research to find out if there is a way to handle stranding the twisted silk so it will handle more neatly in the stitching.”

Today I was reading Mary Corbet’s newsletter and learned how to handle Trebizond and other filament silks.  I thought you might be interested in the info, too.  Also, by putting the link here in my blog, I will always be able to find the info when I pull that Trebizond out to make the Trebizond page in the Thread Sampler book!

And how about that!  As an old friend used to tell me:

“Bury a rock and save two birds!”

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.

Uh-Oh!

I am taking a break from blogging (“Again?!,” you say) for a couple of weeks.  I have had a severe injury and we are heading south on October 15.  So, I need to heal, do what I can to help get things stowed away for hauling the trailer, and then have my 35 stitches removed.

If interested, you can read the saga at my latest post at The Shop Sampler.  Since then I have developed what looks to be a giant blood blister under one half of the stitching that I am hoping will resolve without becoming an open area, compromising the stitching.  The good news is that the hospital my Doc works at has a top rated wound care center.  I can vouch for it personally having been a patient there for several months after an annual visit to the barbaric practice of mammography.  The pressure caused a cyst to erupt and I ended up with an incredible mess that had to be debrided under general anesthesia. Thermal mammography is the only way for me now!

I am going to start the blackwork stitching, i.e., prep the fabric by hemming.  Will let you know when we get to Alabama unless I’m able to sit for hours in front of the computer before then, not to mention run around to prep photos, and all the other stuff that goes into a post.

Blackwork Thread Sampler Continues

I have stitched my first stitches on my Blackwork Thread Sampler!  Feels good!  Of course, I’ve already had my first snag.

I was going to use the Trebizond for the cover because it’s so shiny and pretty.  But I didn’t like working with the silk.  Let me be more specific.  I did not like working with stranded Trebizond.  I will do some more research to find out if there is a way to handle stranding the twisted silk so it will handle more neatly in the stitching.

Instead I decided to use an old faithful—Mori stranded silk from Kreinik.  I have used this before and enjoyed it.  It is soft, but strong.  It does not fuzz up while you’re stitching, nor does it break as some threads do.  It is a matte finish, but I can live with that.

So, what exactly am I stitching?  Let me back up a step or two.

I mentioned before there are some factors to consider before laying thread to fabric.  And these are the factors:

  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.

I also said that I wanted this work to be like the Encyclopedia Britannica of blackwork thread usage.  For those who don’t know what the Britannica was, it was a reference book, the oldest English language encyclopedia in fact.

So, I’m making a book!  A fabric book!

It took me a while to find information about how to construct a fabric book.  I had a basic Idea, but I really am not interested in trial and error when it comes to finishing.  I want a fail-safe method that will make me proud to show my work to others.  I found a very nice answer at Shade Tree Art.  My model will be my take on Shade Tree’s model.

  1. My cover will be the title stitched in black silk on linen.  This piece will be bordered with the “cover fabric.”
  2. Each page of the book will be devoted to one thread.
  3. There will be a Table of Contents identifying the order of the threads sampled.
  4. I will leave several end pages to accommodate threads that will come to market in the future.
  5. I’m not sure if I want each page to be the linen with the thread sample or a muslin page that I appliqué the stitch sample onto.
  6. If I do attach the sample to a foundation page, I will embroider the page number and identifier info onto the foundation fabric to show how the thread handles on a different ground.

Boy, this is a lot of work to do just to stitch a sampler!  But I’m loving every minute of it, truly a labor of love energized by passion!

What do you think about item 5?  Should the stitched sample be applied to a foundation page or be the actual page itself?  Tomorrow I’ll show you where things are at with the cover.  And for now I’m going to go stitch on it some more.  Feedback, people, feedback!

The Thread Sampler Threads

This Coptic motif is 34 stitches by 34 stitchesWhile we consider if there are other questions I have missed (see previous post), I thought I would tell you about the threads I’ve gathered to sample.  

  1. Caron’s Impressions, color 0020—This thread is 50% silk and 50% wool.  It is soft, slightly fuzzy, and has 3 plies.
  2. DMC’s Medici, color noir—Another soft, fuzzy thread which is considered a fine weight wool that is not divisible.  Wool threads are non-reflective so will provide a very matte finish.  And it’s mothproof!
  3. Vineyard Silk Classic, Jet Black—While this thread is 100% Chinese silk, it feels like the Caron’s Impressions.  It is non-strandable and supposed to not untwist when you’re using it, nor get dented by the needle.
  4. Needlepoint Inc. Silk, color 993—This 8 ply thread is 100% Chinese Silk.  Since it is reeled as opposed to spun the fibers are longer and should hold together better.
  5. Belle Soie, Noir—French for “Beautiful Silk, black” really does describe this 12 stranded spun silk.  The color is not quite as intensely black as the others, perhaps because it is hand dyed.
  6. Baroque Silk, Witching Hour—This company’s colors are so rich, I’m looking forward to stitching with this hand dyed 3 ply thread.
  7. Splendor, S801—Rainbow Gallery threads are probably familiar to the average stitcher of today.  Splendor is their 12-ply hand washable silk thread that is manufactured in France.  While I haven’t used this color, I have used the thread in several projects and I love working with it.   This is what Rainbow Gallery has to say about the product:  This is a 12-ply silk floss with an unusual construction. It has three bundles of four strands each. It is easiest if you pull the bundles out first and then take out each strand. The twist of each individual strand is tighter than most silks. This makes Splendor easier to use. It will not snag on all but the roughest hands. Be careful to ply and lay the silk to keep the nice shine. I have also stitched with each bundle as it comes. This silk is perfect for people who have been afraid of silks. Many of the usual problems experienced with silk will not occur with Splendor. Anyone that stitches with cotton floss will have no problem with it.
  8. Mandarin Floss, M801—Have you played with any of the newer untraditional threads?  I have used Sea Grass with success and now love it.  Mandarin Floss is in this category for me.  It is 100% Bamboo and has 6 plies.  It feels so nice that I may start with it!  This is what Rainbow Gallery has to say about their product:  “It lays better than cotton because it is softer and yet is still quite strong. You can use slightly longer stitching lengths since it wears better too.  It is less costly than silk but has many silk-like properties. Its semi-matte finish doesn’t overpower your other stitches.  Most matte threads lines have gone off the market and Mandarin floss works well as a  substitute. Blends well with with metallic filament for cross stitching.  Great for French Knots, Turkey Work, tassels and twisted cords.”
  9. DMC Cotton Floss—I’m sure everyone is familiar with this 6-ply thread
  10. DMC Cotton Perle #3, #5, #8, #12, color #310—Everyone is most likely familiar with these, too!
  11. Sulky Cotton—This is my favorite sewing machine thread.  I have also used it for hand quilting.  I like working with it so thought I would add it to my list.

What threads would you have on your list?  Any recommendations for one or more that I really should add to mine?

What Happened to New Year Resolve?!

Dear Reader,

I am very, very sorry that I have not kept to my schedule.  Truth be told, I threw the schedule away!  It wasn’t working for me.  That is not to say this is not the Year of the Blog.  Indeed it still is the Year of the Blog for me.  I have been blogging regularly over at The Shop Sampler.  I have chosen The Shop Sampler to showcase my efforts in Sharon Boggon’s challenge, Take a Stitch Tuesday 2012.  And you can follow the challenge and click on comments to see the work of the worldwide participants.  I’ve heard there are 500 or more participanting from around the world!  (I even practiced my French in commenting on one blog!  And the lady even understood me!)

I first ran into a snag with the schedule when I had problems with a table I was setting up to display photos on a blog.  And I was trying to figure out how custom menus work in WordPress.  So, I played around and made mistakes and finally seemed to start to figure it out.  Then I started to reorganize some info on my blogs with my new found knowledge.  It’s still a work in progress.  Please, don’t get discouraged with me and my blogs!  I’m discouraged enough for a football stadium full of people!

And, then there’s another little “thing” I’ve gotten involved in.  It’s called the Stitchers’ UFO Challenge.  This is an online support group for up to 100 stitchers like me.  Stitchers who have stacks of projects begun, but set aside in favor of the newer, more exciting, and sexier projects that we just have to start now!  The idea is to make a committment to complete some of these UnFinished Objects.  One should be kind and gentle to oneself and committ to the process and spirit of the project, not beat oneself up and turn those old loves to tortured projects you hate and strip of all their soul as you bash that pile into submission. 

With that in mind let me take you on a little tour of what I’ve accomplished since I last wrote here.  You should begin the tour by browsing posts in The Shop Sampler, Sight Sniffing, and Relatively Ryan, my three other blogs.  Then look through the following photos.  Written descriptions and links to the free patterns as appropriate follow the slideshow!  Get a cuppa or some pop corn and enjoy!  All feedback will be appreciated and replied to!

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First up…Family Stuff.  I have two sisters.  One just had her fourth grandchild.  The other is expecting her first in February.  One of them has asked me to bead something special for her (an eye glass leash.)  I repurposed a necklace I would never finish and am ready to start the beading project.  I pulled out a 12 year old UFO.  (That would be the quilt which is now finished!)  The hooded bath blanket for Baby Girl Burgess to be is from a free pattern.  So is the bunting, also for Baby Girl.  The quilt will be going to Lucas X. Robinson (along with a sweater that I have kitted, but not knitted—YET!)

Next on the tour—Projects For Me.  Well one (the blackwork chess board) is for Jeff, but the actual stitching part is a pleasure for me, even if it is still a UFO!  I have written  about the Blackwork Chess Board before.  I have fourteen chess pieces to stitch in black then outline the 16 in gold, wash the piece.  Once it’s fringed it will be done.  Maybe a month to go! 

There is a skirt on the table.  It is blue linen (and finished).  I have also made a lined blue linen vest to go with it, but I can’t turn it.  I’m sending to my sister to finish it for me.  (Heads up, Toni!)  I learned how to rework a pattern to make this wrap around skirt fit me properly and now have two wrap skirts as a result.  If you like sewing with linen, you must check out the Fabric Store.  It is the best source for linen at incredible prices.

The fingerless gloves are from a free pattern I found, knit in Deborah Norville’s Everyday yarn in Carnivale.  This was wonderful yarn to work with and I love the color.  (I have also started this hat in this yarn to go with the gloves, but it will not be picked up again until I finish the baby projects.  My head won’t get any bigger—I hope!)

The afghan is also a free pattern.  It is called Tree of Life.  I knitted it.  But you can crochet it.  You can also do a Tree of Life for baby with two tree panels and one garden panel.  I have absolutely loved knitting this.  Maybe because it was a challenge and I met it.  I didn’t give up!

And, finally, two projects I did with a group of fellow campers.  The redneck wine glasses were a lot of fun.  Tips if you try to make this project, beading glue E6000 is a good glue or epoxy.  Don’t soak your glass in water for lengthy periods of time.  Avoid the dishwasher.  If not–you may have to reglue!  The painting was done in an art studio in Picayunne, Mississippi.  Painting parties are a rather common thing around here.  I see all kinds of problems with this painting, but I had never used acrylics before and the paint was drying as quick as I put it on the canvas.  Guess you can use more than when you paint with oil.  This was a two hour class.  Everyone did a great job, really.

So you see, I may not have been writing here every third or fourth day, but I have been quite busy.  At this point I’ll strive to write here once a week or every 10 days.  More if possible.  If you’re missing me here, try my other blogs cuz I’ll be writing somewhere!

Blackwork Basics For the Beginning Stitcher

As scientists work to find the smallest elements of matter, stitchers have already found theirs  and it is the foundation of one of the most fascinating stitch genres I know.  Blackwork, or Spanish work, is the creation of some of the most intricate patterns and they all begin with one straight stitch.  That’s right—thread pulled up through one hole (or up through fabric) and down in the next.  Simple.  It really is!

 Stitch Basics  Blackwork Stitch Step Two - Down
Blackwork Stitch Step One – pull threaded needle up through fabric Blackwork Stitch Step Two – push threaded needle down through fabric

Can you see yourself stitching this?   I can see you stitching it!  I know you have! How about making a whole bunch of random lines, one stitch length at a time, or better yet, be a little random in length.  Think bits of pollen on a flower petal.  Hold your work up to the light now and then to see how the thread you’re using shows through, or if it shows through.

Congratulations!  You have just done a black work stitch technique called speckling (may also be called seed stitch).  You’ll see it and use it to add depth and shading, as seen in the image on the right (from Threads of History).  It’s especially effective in curving areas—around eyes, in the curve between leaf ribs, on the chest of a bird.  Check out this example in the leaf on the cover of Becky Hogg’s book on Blackwork.  (It’s a must have for anyone serious about blackwork.)

Covers shows speckling to shade leaf

Becky Hogg's leaf shows speckling in shading the leaf.

Now, how about adding another line—errr, stitch to that first one?

One stitch, two stitch

Come back up where you started then go down in a different place. Voila! Two stitches

Add a third line and you have a triangle or a blackwork motif.  Motifs are added together to create patterns.
Two triangles

More than one triangle makes a triangle scatter pattern. Used as you would speckling.

It’s that simple!  Pull out some even weave fabric and stitch some triangles.  All kinds of triangles.  After you have a nice little patch of triangles, hold that fabric up to the light again to watch how and when your thread shows through, if it does.  Before you move on pat yourself on the back because you’ve just completed the blackwork pattern called scattered triangle.  You’ll find times, as with the speckling, that you’ll want your triangles close together to suggest shading in comparison to spaced far apart giving a suggestion of light.

If you want to get really creative, do some speckling and scatter some triangles with one strand of fiber, then two strands.  Okay, try 3 and see what you think, too.  Again, when you hold the work to let the light shine through, what do you see?

Now, stitch the following shapes:

polygons

Squares, rectangles, stars, diamonds, and all sorts of polygons are good basic motifs for blackwork

Be brave, try to attach a few of these shapes together.  What happens?  What shape occurs when you stitch a few shapes together?  Try other shapes you might think off.  Can you see popping a bead in anywhere?  Do different shapes suggest specific colors to you?  Try to put what you imagine on the fabric with your needle and thread.  It’s just doodling.  Not right.  Not wrong.  Just thread doodles.  Do you see any of your doodles or the shapes above in this image?

Lots of triangles and diamonds

Look what you can do with just triangles and diamonds! Angle the curves and you'd have a wonderful design!

When you’re done with these doodles, be proud of yourself.  You have just created your first blackwork sampler!