I don’t really like the idea of “reblogging,” but when I read this article I’m thinking I may have been wrong. I could never say what this young man says so well. He deserves to be not only read by everyone, but followed, too! I know I am!

Cristian Mihai

There’s a part of me that believes art to be a primordial aspect of the human condition. Art inspires, art is a way of achieving greatness, of building a better world. Art turns strangers into friends. Without art, without artists, we wouldn’t be ourselves anymore.

Because I feel that within the confines of any artistic form of expression, we allow ourselves to wear a mask. The artist hides behind words or paints or brushes. And he feels safe. He can be anyone he wants to be. His freedom is limitless. And he plays this bizarre game of hide and seek with the rest of the world, constantly changing the rules, until he decides – maybe on a mere subconscious level – to  be himself, thinking that people will never find out.

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Synchronicity and Thread

Do you believe in synchronicity?  I do!  Especially when I put a question out to the Universe and the answer is sent to my e-mail box!

Yesterday I shared my Thread Sampler thread list with you and asked for input about any threads that would be good additions to my list.

Today I got my daily e-mail from Mary Corbet’s website, Needle ‘n Thread.  And what was she writing about but,Trebizond!

I’d forgotten it’s on my wish list of threads to buy and try.  It is a lovely, shiney 3-ply twisted silk from Access Commodities.  Your finer embroidery suppliers will have it or know how to get it.  Or you can click on the links in Mary’s article!

I’m adding it to my list!

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?

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.

I Had An Accident…

Blackwork Bow Tie

Blackwork Bow Tie

…and designed something with blackwork in it!  It happened like this…

I’m participating in Sharron Boggon’s (AKA Mistress of Pin Tangle, Stitchin’ Fingers and some pretty amazing stitching) Take a Stitch Tuesday, the challenge for 2012.  During the 13th week there was a break to give busy stitchers a chance to catch up.  After all, if you get frustrated and so behind the challenge might just become another UFO!

For those who were up to date there were two bonus challenge offered.  One of them was to create some “Bling,” some eye candy to inspire others using from 3 to 6 of the stitches from the challenge list to date.  For some reason “Bling” hit me.  And when I think of Bling I think “Black Tie.”  And, with my interest in Blackwork, my mind obviously jumped to Blackwork Bow Tie.  Here is what I quickly stitched up (based upon a sketch in my Studio Journal.)

The details are as follows:

Design Size:  5.5 inches by 3 inches

Materials:

And the stitches I used are:

So, do you like this pattern?  Would you like the pattern?  For free?  Sign up to follow this blog and leave a comment saying you want the pattern and I’ll email you the pattern!

Big News In Blackwork Embroidery!

At least I think so!  Got my newsletter from Berlin Embroidery today.  Tanja Berlin has a Mini Mystery Blackwork Project that is available for readers gratis.  That’s right—for free!  The first of three installments is absolutely charming.  I hope you’ll stutch it along with me!

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!

Gathering Mystery Blackwork Sampler I Materials

Blackwork Sampler Materials
Gathering the goods!

I was torn about what to post today.  It’s a nice feeling to have ideas flowing.  Someone said the other day they would love to learn how to do this.  I almost decided to post on a basic lesson, but I think I will save that for the next post.

I did say I would show you the lovely red silk I found to use in this sampler.   And here it is.  It is from ThreadWorx, Vineyard Silk number V140.  Not too clear in the photo is a packet of YLI black silk floss.  The red sequins are 5 mm and are a Darice product.  The red fabric I’ll be using is a 16 ct evenweave.  Not shown in the photo are the black 11° seed beads I plan to secure the sequins with.  I may use another black fiber.  Not sure yet–I’ll play with that as I go along with the project.  It would be just as easy to use more than one strand of the YLI silk.  We’ll see.

Next post I plan to share a pattern for a blackwork mitten  and discuss how to tackle a pattern that has no instructions with it.   I will probably address the project in two posts.  One that talks about the actually stitching basics.  And a second about the topic of “Journeys.”That way I can begin to answer the question, “how do you do that?”

Are you planning to work this sampler with me?  What materials do you plan to use?