Homespun Gathering

Monday, September 24, 2018

Happy Fall, Y'all

I don't know what your favorite season is, but mine is fall.  I enjoyed it Friday morning on my back patio with my first cup of coffee as the wind rustled through the trees.  I enjoyed it as the weather finally cooled off that day to somewhere in the 70s.  

I really enjoyed it when I brought this lovely piece to my framer.
After 2 1/2 months my version of Christmas Garden is finally done.  I've learned to double the stitching time when something is fiddly like this, but I really do love the look of fiddly.

Blackbird Designs
Christmas Garden
Called for Linen
36 count 

The five sets of initials belong to me, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother.  Fortunately, there is to help with some of this, but my mother was the first to be born with a birth certificate.  My grandmother actually had to apply to get hers before she started teaching in the 1950s.    

The first three generation's initials were easy, but I needed help with the last two.  I could only find a first name and maiden/married name for my grandmother's mother.  Her brothers had them.  Not even grave stone markers helped.  Mom had a locket that belonged to her and on it is inscribed "EB".  I believe the "E" belonged to a name she never liked or used.  That must be some name!  Also unclear what my great great grandmother's "J" stood for, but her mother's maiden name was Jones.

A year ago I started Dearie and Darling by Kathy Barrick.  The changes started with the doe and a poor color charted.  Then all the colors started to change depending on what was in my personal stash and those colors I was drawn to.  

When all was said and done there was DMC, silk and fancy floss.  Stitches included cross stitch and wheat stitch.  Some people can't do things the easy way, and I decided not to lift a design from any pattern I had but design my own.

Without further ado here is the Doodle Sampler.

Dearie and Darling
Kathy Barrick
32 count linen
silk, DMC, fancy floss

This sampler has a cookie theme for me.  Those who know me know I love to bake Springerle in the dry winter months.  These cookies come from my German heritage and are traditionally raised with hartshorn.  Hart=deer and horn=antlers.  In the 1600s this raising agent was made from the deer antlers.  Today the bakers ammonia is made by chemists in a lab.  No worries it bakes out but gives a much better texter than baking powder ever could.

So, we have deer.  Instead of Kathy's swans I thought a windmill (my Dutch heritage) and wheat.  The wheat gave me a chance to try out the wheatear stitch, and I left every quickly stitched version of it in there.  This is a learning peice, don't you know.  The wheat must be ground, so that is where the windmill came in.   Yep, designed by me and stitched with fancy floss.  Any excuse to practice the flow of floss.  It will be hard not to see cookies when I look at this one :-).

Dearie and Darling
Kathy Barrick
32 count linen
silk, DMC, fancy floss

The only thing left to finish is my tiny biscornu.  The stitching is completed.  Then I'm off to start Sarah Brazear.  I bought the floss last week.  Wow, it's getting real.

I'm thankful for:
  • not having to be perfect all the time
  • the ability to bake
  • the ability to give to others

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Flow of Floss

School is back in session, and fall is on it's way.  So . . . in the spirit of the classroom I thought I would share how I stitch with the fancy floss.  

So many are looking for the stripy look of over dyed flosses, but I spend a lot of time in nature studying flora and fauna.  I also remember the lines from the old tube televisions.  When I see stripy designs I see the tube TVs and what I want is HDTV.  This is what caused my stitching with fancy flosses to move to the next level.  I typically stitch primitive designs with FF, but some designs say DMC to me, so that's what I stitch with.  Sarah Brazier will be started soon, and this girl is stitching with DMC.  

Let's get started.  When stitching this tree I kept the bark in mind.  Many trees have a vertical pattern, so this one did too.  I started with the top of the tree and then stitched the left and right outline of the tree.  To keep everything moving toward center, I stitched a line down the center.  That extra 6 Xs was to finish off the floss in my needle.  

Next, we are going to look at the vertical lines.  When stitching this way lacing is so important.  Just like laying floor you want to lace the planks together.  For a floor it's more about weakness.  For a natural effect in stitching, lacing allows the eye to keep moving around as it would in nature.

I started the lacing (overlap) on the right, but either side is fine.  The black vertical line shows how far down I went (horizontal line) before coming back up for the next column of stitches.  Continue this way with some overlap until you get to the base of the tree and come back up to do the next set of columns.

Here you will notice a tent stitch.  The column next to it ended up finishing at the bottom, but this was no problem.  I just tent stitched up to the top and then finished the stitch on the way down continuing the lacing pattern.  This saves floss and leaves a neater back. I will say this.  Once I finished crossing my stitch I hopped over to the columns to the right and finished the pattern.  This means there will be a couple more columns starting out with tent stitches before the right side is complete.

Here you will see the finished bark on one side and the natural bark pattern you'll achieve.  On His Eye is on the Sparrow I wasn't looking for a bark pattern, but avoiding the bands of color.  There wasn't much shading when I stitched vertically, but horizontally it was pretty obvious.

Follow the same method for the second side as you did the first.

Grass  Oh  Grass

Here I stitched the outline and then filled in the letters. I find I make fewer mistakes this way.  With grass I like to stitch columns of three.  To get started with the lacing pattern the columns on the bottom will need to be stitched vertically in a 2 Xs high, 3 Xs high, 2 Xs high, 3 Xs high and so on.  This is your base.  The next row will have each column 3 Xs high.

Here is a closer look at that 2/3 X column pattern.

Normally, stitching blocks of color like this is mind numbing, but stitching this brought on an unexpected surprise.   No mind numbing anywhere in sight.  Note to self:  Any large blocks of color must be stitched this way.  Think the swan on Repeat the Sounding Joy by Kathy Barrick. 

Now for Mr. Peacock.  I stitched the outline and beak first then I filled in the center pattern.  I have no idea how I stitched the head on our peafowl here, but if I did it again I would just stitch vertically until I got to the same spot leaving a comb-like appearance like that above so I could start my lacing.

Feathers follow the body of your bird so your stitched columns will need to also like the tree--sorta.  See below.  The 5 or 6 rows on the peacock's neck was just stitched vertically.  Just winging this one as I went.  I did the lacing using columns of 3-5.  Columns are always going to be shorter on the inside of a curve and longer on the outside.  This is really more art than science. 

Look closely and you will see how I got the feathery look.  If you inspect my stitched columns vertically you will notice I stitched a column, skipped one and stitched another.  On the next row down I started lacing them in using the same every other row pattern.

Then it was time to fill in the empty columns using the same stitching pattern.  Here is a tip.  Look at the color in your floss.  If you notice there will be no contrast stitch in a place where you will get it.  Don't expect perfect.  Perfect doesn't exist.    Note below how you don't see columns of color.  My goal here was to avoid stripes and a little trompe l'oeil--fooling the eye.  Essentially, our brain sees feathers.

I filled in the single stitches in the tail first before I started stitching my columns of 5 and overlapping the next row down by two.

Back up to the top I started to fill in an "every other column" pattern for each row.

How you fill this in will be completely up to your artistic eye.  I tend to be methodical.

all done

This diamond pattern was probably the most tedious but still doable.  I stitched rows in an every other type pattern going from top to bottom, left to right and back again. 

Eventually, I finished up the peacock stripe free.  Could I make improvements?  Yep.  Am I beating myself up about it?  Nope.  Stitching is about learning, enjoying myself and growing.

Can we talk about the house a second?  Thanks.  Do you remember I talked about looking at the floss color as your stitch.  On a larger building this won't matter, but because this house was so small I had to stitch most rows every other.  I didn't want three rows of dark floss next to three rows of light.  That wouldn't look like siding.  This does.

Now, let's talk about the larger leaves.  Larger leaves can look stripey.  To avoid this, I tend to stitch the outline and then concentric "circles" until I get to the middle.  I've also stitched one edge and followed it up along the shape of the leaf until I got the other side.    Sunshine doesn't always hit and entire leaf with the same level of intensity.  It's going to be okay.

Manor at Peacock Hill
Brenda Gervais

Written, I think this is far more complicated than it really is.  If you'd like to leave the stripes in your past give this a moment to sink in and give it a try.  It won't take long to figure out what works for you and build on it. 

Practice makes progress.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.