Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Goldwork redux, and flowers and vases. Also some plants.

Here is where I've gotten on my Benton and Johnson Lily kit. Actually, all I have left is some detail on the flowers and filling in the leaves with bright check "beads". Bright check is wire that has been bent into a square spring shape, and it is flat on the outside, so it really reflects light marvelously well.

Here is a picture from before I finished sewing down the leather flowers, with the check wire on top of the piece. That wiggly, squirmy thing is absolutely wonderful stuff. My daughter says it is very fun to hold it in the air and gently jiggle it, as it transmits a buzzing feeling to your fingers, so of course I had to try that. Plus, it absolutely multiplies light, sending sparkles everywhere. And sadly, what you do with it is to cut it into short lengths and sew it down like beads. Well, that actually gets us to why I stopped where I did. I thought I had my wire cutters with me, but I didn't, so got stalled yesterday, as I will not use my good embroidery scissors to cut wire. I was down at my sister's house, and she gave me a beech tree for my yard, and has promised a sassafras tree once she figures out where her colony of them is. I'm starting her a couple of trees from my yard, including the native persimmon tree, of which I have a female in the yard, so usually have a zillion seedlings to choose from.

I have moved my tropical trees outside now, as we should no longer be in danger of getting frost. Here are their pictures...

This is Granny Weatherwax. She is about eighteen inches tall, and her leaves are about six inches long. She had a little trouble with Marie the cat again, after I took her off the bookshelf she was on. Marie loves avocado leaves. Weird.
 This is the pink plumeria. The flower buds survived the winter, and I have moved her to the porch and given her some water.

Lastly, here is the lemon tree. Nero, in complete contrast to the normal run of cats, who allegedly dislike citrus intensely, liked the chew on her leaves. In front of her, in the two boxes, are dormant blueberry bushes. Not quite sure exactly where they are going to go, probably in what I call the "Way Back Yard, which is up a very steep hill with a staircase from the rest of the back yard. I also have a pair of raspberry bushes that I have not yet placed. One of them has flowers, so the raspberry loving daughter will be very happy.

 These are the vases that I have done for the quilt. They fabric is a square around 10 inches to a side, some a bit taller, some a bit narrower, but all will be trimmed to the same dimensions when I am ready to sew the quilt together. Three of them are from a chart titled Vase Row, only I have been stitching them separately so that I could use them with the flowers.
This vase is one of three I am doing that came from Mary Hickmott's New Stitches magazine. Being roughly the same dimensions as the other vases, I decided to incorporate them to make the numbers a bit more even. Stylistically, they are both different and similar, and I think they look nice together.
Another vase. This is the first vase I stitched. Not sure why I remember that, but I do.
Blue and white vase. The one I am working on now has more blue and white, and also has a spray of flowers in the vase. The other two from Vase Row are a turquoise vase with a coral pink flower and a black vase with a white flower.
 This is one of the fabrics I am using as sashing. this print is going around the vases. The oranges and golds of the flowers look very nice with the vases, and echo the golden brown in some of the vases.
 Tree Peony. And yes, it does kind of look like there is a bit missing from one side of the flower, but that is the way the designer did it. Um. Yes, several people have mentioned that to me, why do you ask?
Lotus. This is one I finished recently, and when I was doing it I was very unsure about the greens, mostly whether they would look nice together. One was more blue green the other tended toward olive. They worked well together though.
This one is Tiger Lily. My brother's in-laws went to Taiwan, and sent me a birthday card that they got there. The picture on the card is very similar to this one, which is why I started collecting the kits in the first place. Also, they are drop dead gorgeous, so there are two reasons.
 This is Chrysanthemum. The photo with the kit is much lighter yellow than it ended up being, which I was happy about. I love the spider mums, which is what these look like, because of the long curly petals they have.
 This one it titled Clematis, and I think I have done all the yellow flowers now. This is the one I was working when I took a very long break from cross stitching.
 Iris, and the only one of these which I varied from the kit contents. I really hated the change from the darkest purple to the next color, so I added an intermediate color. The top iris has the darkest purple with my intermediate and the next purple, for the two bottom flowers the darkest color is the intermediate.
This is Wisteria. Everyone likes this one the best, and it is the second flower I did. It really turned out well, but the metallic gold backstitching on it was tricky. I did a lot of what I learned is called Holbein or double running stitch, but which I call Bilbo stitch, and fans of The Hobbit will, I hope, get a giggle when I explain that it is because you go there and back again. This is all the flowers I have done, I still have Morning glory (blue violet), Quince, (orange), Poppy (red), Magnolia (pink), and Camellia (dark pink-red). I also have five vases left, and yes, I did that on purpose, so I can alternate flowers and vases. I am working on a blue and white vase right now, but have not yet taken a picture.

This is the fabric I am using for the sashing for the flowers. I think it looks like Gingko leaves, or maybe cilantro. One of those. It also looks absolutely fabulous with the flowers, so I have high hopes that the quilt will turn out well. Maybe I'll take a page from my sister's book, and get Mum to sew the top together in stages...

THE Magpie

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Goldwork, and other stitching.

Finished the waterlily, and started and finished the tiger lily in my oriental flowers, so I am now over half done with the cross stitched patches for the quilt. Yay!

Also, after studying the directions, reading, re-reading, and examining all the supplies, and finding my silk dupione stash, I have at long last started on the Golden Lily pattern from Benton and Johnson. To start, I drew the picture on the back of the muslin with a pencil, backwards. Then I basted it in with the same floss that I was going to use to couch the metal threads down with. Here is a picture of the back with the basting partly in...

Here is the front. Because I did the stitches on the front very small, you can't see them very well, which bodes well on me being able to cover them up.

This is one of the flower buds with the japan gold around it, and extending down as the stem.

The closed teardrop shapes are going to be finished with gold kid leather. There are also curled leaf shapes will be filled with bright check, after it is cut into "beads". All the lines will be couched japan gold, and I like the way they have you plunge one end of the pair of gold threads, then separate them to go around the open shape, and finally couch them together for the stems. I don't know if that is standard operating procedure, as I have not taken any goldwork classes, and this is the first thing I've ever done in goldwork, but I like how it looks.

The kit for this actually came with an ice blue silk piece for the ground, but the picture on the kit was more of a turquoise, so I subbed a piece out of my stash. The couching thread I am using is a cotton overdye named Whiskey, from Weeks Dye Works, color 2219. Other supplies are japan gold, check thread, bright check, gold kid leather and something called passing, which is a wire cored gold metal thread that looks kind of like japan gold. Ah. Just re-read the directions, because it occurred to me that I did not remember where the passing thread was supposed to be used. There is a bit that forms a bow over the stems on the bottom, and the passing thread is used to make them, and that is where the wire is handy, as you just make loops with the thread and then bend them into shape on the front.

I realized that doing this stuff intimidates me, at least until I start, although sometimes it runs all the way through the project. Even so, I still do it, and usually the things turn out very nicely. So to anyone who is reading/finds/whatever, if you want to do something that you fear is above your skill level, go for it. You never know, and it will most likely turn out very well indeed. Go for it. And have fun.

THE Magpie

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Berkeley and Marie

As near as we can ascertain, not having the precise date, this the the birthday of my cats Berkeley and Marie Curie. I figure that makes sense, as all cats are April Fools. Well, Marie is anyway, as she gets into a state in the Spring where she is, quite literally, bouncing off the walls. And racing up the hall, down the stairs, behind the books on the shelves, and otherwise going berserk. Mind, all that is without the aid of catnip.

Meanwhile, I have been working on my oriental flowers and vases quilt, I got some new fabrics for the sashing, and finished a couple more flowers and another vase. I just started the tiger lily, you can see a photo here http://www.choicesembroidery.co.uk/acatalog/Oriental_Collection.html, and that is all twelve of the flowers. I have finished peony, wisteria, iris, clematis, chrysanthemum and lotus. I just started the lily, so all I have so far is some green and brown curves on the fabric. Once the light is good, I'm going to get a photo of the two fabrics I just got for the quilt, and I think I may start cutting strips and adding sashing to the blocks I've stitched so far. With twenty-one blocks, the sashing is going to be a big job.

I'm also going to start working again on my Month quilt, of which I have finished the first four blocks and stitched them together. I started the cross stitch blocks in January of 2001, and after September put them aside for several years, and finally finished the last of them in 2010. There are three small stitched patches for each month, and then I picked out a fabric that went with each monthly set of three blocks to put them together into larger blocks. The sashing is a pretty green and cream swirl. I put it aside when I couldn't get the May block to come out even, but I think it may be time to take it up again. The stitched pieces were all out of a book titled "365 Tiny Cross Stitch Designs" and some were done in themes, of which I did the samplers, quilt blocks and flowers of the month. The pieces are lovely, and as I stitched, I added the occasional deviation from the actual design. Sometimes I used specialty stitches, for the Easter Sampler I used angora yarn for the bunny tails, for the July Sampler I used beads and silk ribbon to do the ears of corn, things like that. Again, once the light is better, I'll get some photos of those.

I haven't forgotten about my Jane Nicholas Stumpwork pieces, or my Michele Chavez pieces either. Still mulling options in my head, and once I have my plan figured out, I shall begin. I just got the blue silks I needed for the blue peony from the Jane Nicholas book, so that may be the first piece I do from it.

THE Magpie