Thursday, 31 July 2008

Karahana, the last petal

When I am nearing the end of a good book I feel compelled to finish the book as quickly as possible. Not by reading faster (like most things I do, I read slowly and don’t know how to read faster) but by spending every spare minute nose in book. It is the same when I am nearing the end of a stitching project; I want to spend every spare minute stitching. The paradox is that when I complete the project or finish the book, I know that I will feel sad that it is over.

My feeling is that when all the petals on Karahana are couched, the remaining elements will stitch relatively quickly, so I think I am nearing completion. Even if that proves not to be the case, stitching the petals was such a time consuming exercise that it was like a mini project; the desire to finish the petals was compelling enough on its own. Throughout the week I have snatched an hour here and half an hour there, even getting up at six o’clock this morning just to finish it (that’s early for me). I actually woke up at four o’clock and was very tempted to get up then, knowing how frequently I underestimate the time needed to do anything, but the poor light convinced me that I should stay in bed!

On this occasion the two hours I thought it would take proved sufficient time to finish the petal without rushing.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

This is the smallest petal and it has no turnover like the other petals so it took considerably less time to complete, even so it took me four and a half hours to stitch petal number six. I wish I had kept a record of how long each of the other petals took.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

At 8.00am it was still heavily overcast and beginning to rain but even in such low light levels the gold gleams. It truly is beautiful substance both to look at and to work with.

Now I have all the satisfaction of having completed the mini project and still have the excited anticipation of stitching the remaining elements using different techniques. A bit like finishing a good book but already having the sequel to begin reading straight away.

Happy Stitching, indeed.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Karahana, the fifth petal

I had some unexpected stitching time at the beginning of the week that allowed me to complete the fifth petal. This petal is smaller than those I have already stitched but I also think that I am stitching slightly quicker than when I began. I suppose that is to be expected.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

After completing each petal I wonder whether to continue with the petals or to have a change and stitch a different element. With only one small petal remaining I will definitely complete that petal before turning to the leaves, stems and stamens.

I feel that I have reached a turning point with this piece now and expect the remainder to be completed relatively quickly, provided I get some stitching time.

Happy Stitching

Monday, 21 July 2008

Needlepoint Group Project 1

The Stitchin Fingers' needlepoint group are doing a group project. I don’t think that there are many of use doing it, but hey, it is summer in the northern hemisphere and a lot of people are in holiday mode.

The chosen project is the American Needlepoint Guild’s 1999 stitch of the month, otherwise none as Barbara's Patchwork. Each stitcher can chose their own colour scheme and the fabric, some of the more experienced needlepointers may even elect to change some of the stitches but every one must stick to the original log cabin grid.

July 31st is the deadline for choosing your colour scheme and stitching the outline, the remainder of the stitching should be complete by August 31st.

I have chosen a blue and peach colour scheme. I have used DMC cotton perle #5 in shade 90. For the peach shades (colour A) I have chosen DMC floss in shades 741, 743 and 745. The blues (colour B) will be stitched in shades 796, 798 and 800 DMC floss. I also selected a Steff Francis viscose ribbon in pale blue but when I tried to stitch the outline with it, it proved too thick for the canvas. Instead I stitched the outline in the #90 cotton perle.

The center square is stitched in slanted gobelin with scotch stitch in each corner.

Area B has 3 flowers created around Smyrna cross centers.

Area C is based around an elongated cross stitch and irregular Smyrna cross stitch.

Happy Stitching

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Little Stitching, Heaps of Inspiration

My posts have been rather infrequent lately. This is because I have done very little stitching and I have nothing to show you. The thing is, I seem to be suffering from PPD - post project depression. I put so much thought and energy into my May TIF, and so enjoyed stitching it that now it is finished I miss it and so far nothing else has really grabbed my attention.

I’ve done a little bit of stitching, I’ve started another petal on Karahana (but one picture of round and round couching looks very much like another) and I’ve joined in a project on the Stitchin Fingers Needlepoint group. We are going to do the Stitch of the Month block on the American Needlepoint Guilds website. Everyone participating will choose their own colour scheme and some of those more experienced in canvas work will change some of the stitches but we will all retain the original log cabin design. For me it is an opportunity to learn some new canvas stitches. So far I have stitched the outlines for the inner square and the first round of logs which doesn't make for a very interesting picture.

I’d like to thank everyone who commented on my May TIF, I really do appreciate the lovely things you said about this piece. I’m quite good at starting projects but not so good at finishing them. Once the embroidery is done, I lose interest and start something new, but I have plans for this piece and hopefully it won’t remain a UFO for long.

Speaking of comments, back in June Marjorie of Moonsilk Stitches left a comment to say that she had given me an award. The "Arte y Pico" award was created and to be given to bloggers who inspire others with their creative energy and talents, whether it be writing, artwork in all media's. When you receive this award it is considered a "special honour". Once you have received this award, you are to pass it on to at least 5 others.

Well I am honoured that Marjorie made this award and humbled by the lovely things she said about my blog.

Now for the hard part, it is so difficult to reduce the long list of blogs that I find inspirational down to just five.

I’m sure I’m not the first (nor last) to nominate SharonB of In a Minute Ago but Sharon’s TAST and now TIF have literally been the inspiration for much of the stitching you have seen here in the past 18 months. Without these challenges I would probably have been stitching something but I doubt with the same fire and enthusiasm I have been, and it is possible that I would not have been blogging but for TAST.

Link hopping from Sharon’s blog led me (directly or via another blog) to Judy’s blog, Possibilities, etc! Judy designs, stitches, and writes about needlepoint. Recently Judy has done a series of work interpreting crazy quilts in canvas work, these were the inspiration behind my May TIF.

There are not many Japanese Embroiderer’s who blog their progress. Of the few who do, Jane is probably the most prolific. I know Jane in 'real' life and am privileged to have seen her work and listen to her speak about the art form she is so passionate about. Now she has begun to share her knowledge and her beautiful work through her blog, Nuido - a Student’s Journey.

Plimoth Plantation is recreating a 17th-century embroidered jacket and The Embroiderers' Story chronicles its progress. There is so much inspiration to be found here from the beautifully written and illustrated stitch directions, the wonderfully detailed explanations of how materials and techniques have been sourced or reproduced, the obvious enthusiasm and determination of everyone involved and last but by no means least the wonderful stitching and lace making. I only wish this project were taking place in Plymouth, England so that I could join one of the stitching sessions.

And finally, a blog that I have only recently discovered (through Jane) and have found very inspirational even though it has nothing to do with stitching. Sweet Persimmon is about the Japanese tea ceremony; it is about the long process of learning and understanding the ritual of performing or attending the ceremony. Much of what the author writes about, I can relate to Nuido - the Way of Embroidery and to the idea of the Slow Cloth.

I always feel a little uncomfortable passing on Tags and awards; I don't want to burden the recipients with an obligation to pass it on, unless of course they want to. I know you have very busy lives and other concerns already. Having said that, I am delighted to share why these blogs have been a particular inspiration to me and are part of my essential reading list.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

May TIF - Finished?

On the original the area of blue fabric above white lace is left unstitched. I like it that, but my 'fabric' is long satin stitches, without some stitching to secure them they are too vulnerable. I decided to add my monogram. I think the 'C' is a particularly boring letter and looked long and hard for one that I though ornate enough but not too intricate to stitch at the size I required.

To stitch the monogram I combined knowledge gathered from Mary Corbet’s blog on stitching a monogram and padding techniques I have learned in Japanese Embroidery. I padded the letter with strands of padding cotton, starting with a single strand, adding more strands as the pen stroke became wider and removing them as it tapered away. I found it difficult to work the satin stitches around the tight curves and on the macro shot they look too spaced apart on the bottom of the letter.

Isn’t it funny how one thing leads to another? About 2 years ago I was looking for information on seasonal colours for kimonos and came across Hideko’s blog. It was the first textile/embroidery blog I had ever seen! Over the next few days, I read every entry on her blog and then started clicking on the links in her side bar; that led me to Sharon Boggon’s blog. Well, that led me to so much, first TAST and my own blog, then TIF and now Stitching Fingers and an RSS feed list as long as your arm. I’m sure it was Sharon that directed me to Allison Aller’s blog. Allison creates beautiful crazy quilts with her own distinctive style. I’m not sure if it was Sharon or Allie herself that directed me to Judy Harper who reinterprets Allies quilts in her own unique way. Judy selects a small segment of the quilt and reproduces it in canvas work and these have intrigued me from the beginning. I was thinking about Judy’s take on Allie's quilts when I had my Aha! moment back on the 28th May. My plan was to reinterpret in my own style the beautiful block stitched by Sharon that inspired the colour palette for the May TIF. Instead of piecing a fabric block and adding lace and ribbons, I would recreate them all in stitch.

I would like to thank Sharon for the inspiration and for her permission to rework her original design. I could not have designed this myself, I am not a designer but I have had immense fun figuring out how to reproduce the laces and jacquard fabric in stitch. What do I call myself? I call myself an embroiderer.

I think the block is finished now, I still have concerns about the trailing vine on the left and may yet add to it but I am so pleased with the overall block that I am afraid to spoil it now. Maybe I’ll leave it for a few days before deciding.

Happy Stitching.