“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!

 

 

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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!

A Photo Log of My Blackwork Projects

Perhaps some photos of my own blackwork projects would be a nice break between lessons in the history of blackwork and information about the mechanics of designing it.  The Blackwork Lovebirds I’m including are the result of a class I took with Tanja Berlin of Berlin Embroidery through Shining Needle Society.  The piece is off to be framed at this time.

Funny, I found Tanja’s site when I was looking for information on Berlin Embroidery which is an especially colorful embroidery developed in Germany when beautiful colors were so new to consumers.  Pelin Tezer had a lovely free pattern of Berlin Embroidery in a ribbonwork pattern.  Unfortunately, she has changed her website and I can no longer find it, but check this out.  It along with a half a million other things is on my To Do List!

The other photos are from the Blackwork Chessboard I am finishing.  Enjoy!  Tell me which is or are your favorite photos!  That could influence my choices in the Mystery Blackwork Sampler square choices.

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Mystery Blackwork Sampler Outside Border

Finally, I have a pretty good idea of my blackwork sampler design.  I feel good about how it is coming together.  I had decided I wanted to do a sampler as my Blackwork Chessboard has been so much fun to stitch.  Actually, I am almost done with it.  I’ve got two white chessmen to stitch on the outside, then the black chessmen.  A good, but gentle washing.  Finish fringing.  And it will be done!  Jeff has decided to make a leather box for the chessmen he has picked from his collection.  Then the chessboard will be rolled and set inside the box.  I would recommend Carol Leather’s pattern wholeheartedly, even if you are not a chess player nor have one in your life.  You could leave the chessmen off and have a simply lovely sampler of really cool blackwork motifs to inspire your own designs.

So for my design.  I have come up with a border I like.  Why start with a border rather than the squares?  I don’t know.  Feels right.  The border will help me set the tone for the squares it will surround.    I don’t want to just develope squares I like and stick them together.  I want to achieve a certain feel.  The border has a certain airiness to it, reminding me of a wrought iron fence you might find outside a Victorian home.  Neat.  Clean.  Geometrically lean, yet complex enough to hold moderately dense patterns.  I will need to create squares that will blend to not give the piece a heavy look.  The blackwork squares will be lacy and variably open while the needlepoint squares will be simple and linear.

Lessons figure 1

Figure 1 Outside Border

The top of the diagram (figure 1–click image for larger picture) represents one eight of the border.  The 60 stitches to the right  would be a mirror image of 1 through 60, left to right.  Repeat three times for the other sides.  Consequently, the piece will be 120 by 120.  The three stitch inner border will be a needlepoint stitch, I’m thinking.  The remaining internal area will be 92 by 92 stitches.  I’m thinking a 4 x 4 grid with each block being 23.   The middle 4 x 4 grid of squares will be divided by gold double running stitch.  Or you can use whatever color will contrast nicely with your main colors, a solid for the blackwork and overdyed for the needlepoint squares.  Whatever you use for the blackwork will be the proper thread for the outer border.  The number of threads you use should be appropriate to whatever fabric you choose to use.

Lessons figure 2

Figure 2 Detail Image

Figure 2 is a close up of the center section of the top row.  Note the yellow dot at the base of the partial cross.  The represents placement of either a bead or a spangle.  Your choice.  The color should complement your colors, maybe the color you use to define the middle grid.

So, to summarize:

  • Total stitch size is 120 x 120
  • You will need three threads:  one for the blackwork, one for the needlepoint, one for the center grid divisions
  • You will need either beads or spangles matching the thread for the center grid
  • Fabric of your choice cut with appropriate space surrounding the stitch area, with edges protected from raveling
  • Frame of your choice and other stitching tools of choice