Monday, October 30, 2006

I spy a design

Design everywhere!? My design class assignment open up my eyes to see designs all around me. I found a beautiful design on the front doors of a retirement home where an older friend of mine lives. There was a border design on my post office box. My awareness of surroundings has been increased with this "I spy a design" outlook. Not only is nature full of design but man-made goods as well. Perhaps I'd shut down my awareness by being functionally oriented. Do this and what is the next step? Oh, yes this is next... Then along came my teacher's challenge to find designs--photograph them or sketch them and adapt them for needlework. And then if not adaptable, use them as a starting point for your own designs. Give proper credit. I made a childhood game out of it. Open up a magazine to read, do I spy a design? Going out on an errand, where is a great design? Review them; what was the best design I spied today? It has given me tons of stuff to mull over while sorting out a few of the very best to work with intensively. I've been enriched by a simple change in outlook. I want to keep this game going, despite a finished class assignment.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Tiny borders

I'm not sure what lead me to the color selection. But I still like the little tiny borders. They can sneak in between lines of alphabets, go on both sides of a larger border and turn a corner with ease and no fuss. Many stitches will lend themselves to the center of the flower or it can be removed altogether. I think variation adds to the appeal when it is stand alone but when it is dressing for a bigger border, then I tend towards repetition so that it doesn't draw away attention.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A border and half a border

Well, these were again very simply stitched borders. The top is the full border and below the half, exactly the same except for losing an edge. These look good vertically, too. In fact, I flipped the lower one around from being a vertical border. Truly, both use same thread and are on the same ground; the difference a .jpg image above and a .png image below. Yes, it made me stop and think. Perhaps .jpg is not the best type of file for my needlework after all.

I love playing with borders. I don't always keep them along the edge of a design, however. I've made a few designs out of borders only. No, nothing as fancy and as beautiful as some of the Spanish samplers or laced ribbon samplers that I've seen. What I enjoy is the repetition and rhythm of a border. I find them very relaxing to stitch. That makes me ready for the challenge of turning the corners! I haven't figured out just how to show the corner treatments using the software I have, but I aim to learn more soon.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


My favorite thread is Au Ver a Soie 100/3. It's showing up in a lot of these pictures. This thread doesn't do everything I would like, but most everything! Some stitches might require a floss then usually I resort to Needlepoint Silk. Then DMC Perle cotton 12 and 8, I don't usually use 5 although I've some in my stash for special projects. I love Gloriana's overdyed threads because of the Luminescence which uses a 100/3 thread. And, of course, to me her colors look wonderful. Oh dear, I just remember seeing a new one on the last visit to my LNS. I have to return soon and check that out.

The above rounds out what I use day in and day out except for some special projects. Do you have any recommendations? Why do you use the threads you do? I'd be interested in knowing. Perhaps I'm just in a rut. Or I'm ignorant of what might do a better job.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

A simple cross-stitch border

It surprised me that these few simple cross-stitches would make a border. I'm playing with two colors here again--just not in the same stitch. Everything is pretty self-explanatory just by looking at the picture. But if you wonder what I did and prefer words this is my best attempt.

I used 2-over-2 cross stitches throughout. For the light peach curved line there are 3 cross stitches sitting next to each other at the high and low part of the curves. To go down (up) work 4 more cross stitches each one set one thread down (up) from the last stitch. Then start the 3 even stitches for the bottom (top) of the curve to set one thread down (up) from the last of the 4 staggerd stitches. The middle orange cross stitch is 3 threads directly under (above) the center of the group of 3 stitches on the upper (lower) curve. The other two orange cross stitches are worked 1 thread over and 1 thread up (down) from the middle stitch, one on each side. Note: ignore what is in parenthesis until doing the other portion of the curve.

I didn't turn a corner on this trial border but I liked the curve both vertically and horizontally and it looks like it would be easy to turn a corner gracefully.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rice stitch

Rice stitches are a favorite for me. I like the queen stitch and the satin stitch, too. Is there a stitch I don't like? Yes, the one's I haven't worked with until I've understood their beauty and usefulness. Oh, yes, and then there are the ones I failed to learned how to execute successfully. The french knot and the dove's eye immediately spring to mind. They are beautiful, I see their usefulness, but I don't like them. They give me fits when I do use them and I tend to avoid them as much as possible. I did this sampler as I first began to understand and work with the rice stitch. Darlene O'Steen's book The Proper Stitch helped me. She encouraged stitchers to try a different weight or color of thread for parts of the stitch once the basics were learned.

I am excited that this book is being republished and expanded. I'm sure it may be a help to so many stitchers who haven't a copy of the previous edition.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Border variations

Sorry, that I used the peach backstitch, but had lots of fun with this.

Working left to right I started out with 4-over-4 cross stitches staggering over 2 and up (or down) 4 for the next cross stitch and switching directions every fourth stitch (counting that fourth stitch as the first stitch of the next group, too). I then worked 2-over-2 upright stitches to outline around the 4-over-4 stitches. Partial eyelets were then worked from bottom point of each upright cross stitch to the center point even with or deeper than or the height or depth of the embroidered points.

And around one of the eyelet centers I wrapped the thread under the eyelet rays and fasted the wrap down two threads from the eyelet's center. Why? For 3-D effect and I'm a little crazy with experimenting. I did try wrapping with out the lower fastening point but I didn't like it as well. And then half way through I dumped the center 4-over-4 center cross stitches. I wanted to do something different. Well, "different" does not of necessity equate to "better". I hate the peach. Another color or white just for texture might have worked. And perhaps 1-over-1 cross stitches in white instead of backstitches. Thread play, yes! I love it.

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(Click on chart to see details)

I've used this chart may times for planning my counted thread work.

Reading the top row think -- number of threads in linen or squares in aida
Reading the first column think -- number of threads in linen or squares in aida used for motif or repeat

For instance if you have a piece of material with 24 threads (find 24 in top row) available for a design you may have 2 repeats (find 2 in first column) of 12 threads each (intersection of row and column), 3 repeats of 8 threads each, 4 repeats of 6 threads each, 6 repeats of 4 threads each 8 repeats of 3 threads each or 12 repeats of 2 threads each. If using for repeats consider if there are any leading or ending threads needed. If using for motifs consider if you want space between the motifs.

For a band samplers repeats of 12, 8, 6, 4, 3 or 2 would all turn out evenly, excluding leading or ending threads, if any.

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Fades from color to cream

Top row 1st stitch down cream increasing until all cream
2nd row 2nd stitch cream increasing
3rd row 3rd stitch cream increasing
4th row 4th stitch cream increasing
5th row all stitches in color
6th row every other stitch cream

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Design & random chance

My design class is providing exercises to aid in stimulating new designs. Some of these techniques have been great; I've learned by doing. But others seem to me to reflect the exaultation of random chance. Perhaps it has to do with influence evolution theories have had in the many other disciplines including art.

I find myself with dubious expectations of best results based these controlled random chance exercises. Didn't Aaron's story to Moses run something along this line: I put the gold in the furnace and out came this golden calf? Well, it seems to me that the controlling part of the chance exercises are the best hope I have of any specatular results. I would welcome others' thoughts on these type of exercises. Have you encounter them? What were the results? How much control did you exercise over "chance" to get the results? Did you feel like you were bringing harmony out of disorder when you made adjustments? Or were you giving chance a helping hand? Do you see a difference between the insertion of chance into a design compared adding spontaneity?


Thursday, October 12, 2006

More images

This is just a design of play with a number of different ideas running around in my mind--a little bit of a number of techniques.

Below are some results of my recent interest in using more than one color thread in a stitch. I like the way that a thread matching the ground adds texture, can almost disappear or blots out part of a stitch of color on the ground. But then two colors contrasting with the ground in a stitch produce interesting results. They soften transition from one color area to another or may create almost a shadow affect. I am very much a beginner in exploring here.


Improvement on images

Improvement gained and still needed. Hopefully a class on photographing needlework will be underway shortly. Otherwise my other fond option of a scanner will be in place!

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Conclusion: I don't need batteries

It is evident I don't need batteries for a camera; I need a scanner! I understand how those work. The camera is another matter. These are from doodle cloths. After looking in the dictionary, I think I'm going to drop that name.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

A quote instead of photos

Wanted to make a quick attempt at posting something from doodle cloths this evening but was curtailed by the low battery light coming on. A few pictures--postable? No!

Thought I post this quote instead. I've been thinking about it for a day or two now and how it may apply to needlework. It's from Itten's The Elements of Color p 18: If color is the chief vehicle of expression, composition must begin with color areas, and these will determine the lines. He who first draws lines and then adds color will never succeed in producing a clear, intense color effect. Colors have dimensions and directionality of their own, and dilineate areas in their own way.

I'm amazed by the immensity of the if clause. Do I concur? This man seems to have been marked by diligent study of color and impressed by it from youth.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Trial and error

Still working on getting things sorted out.
Some texture squares on blue directly above--
lots of fun to stitch,
no fun to photograph.
And my first attempt at fabric postcards at the top.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006


Above are a couple of designs from the past few months. But what is on my doodle cloth is generally my favorite work. It's unedited, undeveloped but earnest exploration of stitches, designs. What is posted is done with the thought that it may be of help or interest to other needleworkers. Also I look for comments that either correct, refine or further my understanding of stitches and design.

I think it shall be a slow beginning as I begin to accustom myself to the techology and discipline involved. But I hope that as my understanding grows that it will be a more frequent, consistant record of the work.