Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year in review "Purpose"

This is the hardest to evaluate and write. I find it much more soul searching to consider. And I intend this to be the last of "those" kinds of post for a good while. I've got pictures of some of the stitching I've been doing the last couple of weeks that need to go up. Now that I've a halfway satisfactory manner of posting them on this blog, I need to get to that. If you're interested in looking at what I'm doing with the stitches in SharonB's Take a Stitch Tuesdays Challenge, my plan is to soon be filling up my other blog with those pictures. Her start up day is January 2, 2007.

Back to the question at hand--did I keep to the great purpose "...whatever you do, do all to the glory of God"? I think that God has allowed me to explore His simple shapes with a needle and thread. I find geometric shapes and patterns fascinating. I thank Him for the exploration in those thing by use of a needle and thread on a ground. Many times I think of the stitch itself as a shape; other times a group of stitches is the shape I'm considering. This year I've found some of my stitching is an attempt to express something to God, if not others. One such piece I titled The Last Drop. Another is History Examined.

I'm indebted to so many wonderful stitchers who in God's providence have helped me learn. First, Lois at my LNS, Darlene O'Steen for her book The Proper Stitch (And the lady who recommended that book to me so that I actually pulled it out and read it rather than just looking at the diagrams.),
Sherlee Lantz for the diagrams in A Pageant of Pattern, SharonB for her website and class and there are so many others that I thank God for also. The blogging has been an attempt to make available some of what I've been learning about stitching. But I found so many other needlework bloggers teaching and inspiring me instead, I can't say anything.

The other purpose besides exploration is what my mom said when we were discussing my needlework a few years ago. And I suppose only moms say these things to their daughters, "it would be good if you can put something beautiful in the world." I've had that purpose in mind from time to time on one piece of work or another. And often think of how the woman in Proverbs 31 was so involved in work with textiles not only for beauty but usefulness to her family and beyond. That concept seems difficult to translate into my circumstances but perhaps that is where I need to re-purpose or re-aim a bit this coming year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Year in review "Learned and learning still"

Please note: Updated information about my participation in SharonB's 2007 TSTC and future of this blog on a post below

Learning to look to see.

Value - my design teacher taught me to take time to block out color and think of what I'm seeing in terms of value. I think that people must have learned to do this more readily in the days when they had black and white movies, TVs and photos as a part of daily life. For me it's hard to do, but I see it now as a very exciting and important part of a design.

Design - with another big thank you to my design teacher- notice design in everything from what is in Creation to the manufactured things used time and time again in our daily life.

Take a break stand back and see - when I'm stitching I get caught up in a different point of view than when I stand back and look from a distance. It's hard for me to get up when I'm so busy stitching; but I've learned it is valuable to get up and look from a different perspective. Yes, when I'm right of top of it, I can see all the details. But from a distance has it all turned into a blur. If it's hanging on the wall does it beg a second glance? Does it call, "Come over and look at me and see what I'm about." And if it does, is it worth seeing closeup?

View the design wearing other "hats"- I work with package printing, so when ever I pick up a new package of something, I almost always am taking a look at the print job on it. How the art performed, what they are doing with the design to make it work on the press used, checking out what kind of board, paper or film they are printing on. There are so many things that I'm checking out--what font, type size, line thickness, screens, inks. Well, many more things, just too many to mention. But it truly is of interest me and I can be noticing so much at once in a small amount of time. Why? Training, experience and interest.

But what is a sales representative or a marketing person looking at? He wants to know how that design works on the shelf, when the customer is so many feet away, when they are right on top of it, in conjunction with other products the customer is selling, with other (read that "competitors") products that will be displayed around it, does it indicate what the customer anticipates or wants to know about the product, what does it reflect about the company behind it and how does it represent the product inside it. Of course, he cares about the print and I care about how the package will look on the shelf, too. We come from different points of view, training, experience and interest. But yes, if I take time to think about that salesman's point of view (and I also think need to think about the pressman, the filler's process and so forth) it helps me as I think about what needs to happen to the art being prepared to go to press.

Perhaps you will think this is too great a stretch to apply this example out of my business life to design and needlework art. Nor by using it do I mean to treat my designs as a product to be sold although some of them are, of course. But it makes sense to me to think about how will my design will impact others. And "looking" that is not so wrapped up in only my own point of view as I stitch a piece and "looking" that gets me outside of my narrower point of view brings some elements of balance into my design that I think would otherwise be lacking. Again, I think this is something I need to thank my design teacher for. She is always explaining what the viewers eyes are drawn to, what they tend to skip over, what makes them comfortable and uncomfortable (and not every design is intended to make the viewer comfortable). And then that constant anticipation of the submission of my work to her trained eye, helps me to train my own.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Year in Review "Done"

Please note: Updated information about my participation in SharonB's 2007 TSTC and future of this blog on a post below

I've been thinking over this year to take stock and re-aim for the new year. This is a basic list of what got "done" without comments to compare the outcomes to the expectations. I'm evaluating that, but privately! And I might be far wise to have kept this part private, too. This list is neither in order accomplished nor order of importance.

I got a first website up, started two blogs, released five new designs and re-released a previous one. Bought a camera and obtained Photo Elements and a couple of other photo editing software programs. Bought a printer for covers and switched to XP (still a disaster!). Took a design class, SharonB's Personal Library of Stitches class and a photography class. Developed three new designs for release and have some other work in various stages for release. Started idea books (visual journals). Experienced some freedom in working "off the grid". Tried stitching on fabric other than evenweave linen. Started stitching with threads other than silk floss, 100/3 and Perle cotton. Obtained and read a few useful books relating to stitching, design and websites. Read more books through the library. Obtained more books, not read, but ready to tackle next year. Bought and lost a few more pairs of scissors!

I want to do two more things in evaluating and re-aiming 1. look at what I learned and need to learn 2. evaluate if goals are realistic and consistant with my end purposes.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Test for pictures

Some more pictures from my trial Christmas cloths. I keep trying to think of ways to make pictures available on this blog. Perhaps this test will work out. Thanks for putting up with all my experiments.

Trial 1
Trial 2

Where did I go?


I'm at a new blog for TSTC 2007
This is going to be a wonderful year with SharonB in her Take a Stitch Tuesdays Challenge (TSTC). Please look into joining the challenge or simply take a look and see what's going on. Sharon has set it up so that it is always open for one more to join in and any day is the right time to begin. Once at Sharon's blog, the side bar has a category called Take a Stitch Tuesday. It will quickly gather all those posts together to fill you in on the details.


I'm staying right here to post updates for all my design work. This year I'm working on shape, color and texture. I'm so excited about all I have planned to tackle, the Lord willing. I'm still exploring moving this blog over to my website, posting pictures to a flickr account or posting pictures here again. I'll be updating my book list and journalizing my personal needlework explorations here. I've been doing more thinking on design and design exercises so I'm sure those topics will be coming up. I find having to express my thoughts in writing helps clarify and further my own thinking. If anyone has any suggestion on books or other means of exploring these topics, please post a comment. Thank you!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Trials again for photos

I have been reading and checking a lot of things on this new photo album that is somehow now connected with Blogger. I just thought I'd try and re-check whether it will load my photos. Some of the help material sounds like I should be able to upload pictures from my desk top but then again its hard to tell if that material is still in effect. If this doesn't work then I think I will be looking about for another host for my photos and/or a new company for my blog unless I can understand what this new agreement is requiring to my satisfaction. I've got quite a few options to explore. I'm thankful for some of the time off during the holidays to concentrate on it. Post will definitely be spotty until I have it figured out.

No, they won't take my pictures. I will be back up and on track before the first either here or else where. I'm going to try one more test before I close my post and see if I can upload a picture from my website. No, it won't do that either. Either it doesn't realize its me trying to upload my own pictures or (and I think more likely from the message I got) it still wants me to sign a new agreement.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No more pictures until

Well, I started out to post some more borders and fills this morning. (I forgot to post yesterday.)And I was greeted by some type of new agreement for Picasa Web Albums. I'm going to have to do some reading before I agree to this new set up!

I'm busy stitching on a large (for me) piece right now. I've got all the outline done and now I'm filling in with color. A very strange piece for me primary colors plus black and white on 22 count linen. Also I'm planing for the design to spill out over on to a background cloth of red gabardine. I keep surprising myself with what I want to do next. Ideas are not hard for me to come by. It's the execution of them that is hard since that is where I have to scale back to the reality of my limited skills and knowledge. In turn that keeps me pressing forward to learn more and that stimulates new ideas. Some days I feel like a little child trying to walk, stumbling and getting up to start out again.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

More trial thoughts

I'm still pulling out some things I was playing with for a Christmas piece. These are things that did make the cut. Not that they are bad, but they didn't fit in with the piece as it evolved. Perhaps they will show up in something else or there will be another Christmas piece.
It's surprising to me what just a few changes will make. Look at the lower small green border. It shows how my thoughts changed as I worked right to left. The top green border shows more play with that idea in what started out basically as a mirror image without the diamond fill. From there I tested out a few other variations.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas in stitches

Going through some of my trial cloths I found a few wintry, Christmas things. I had so much fun making the pine cones. I love the threads from Gloriana. Some of her threads make up the pine branches and are couched and create the border for the Field in Winter piece.

I have a Field in Autumn and a Field in Spring. So summer and winter are waiting in the wings. Field in Spring is hanging up in my home thanks to a very kind friend who had it framed for me. Although some parts of it are good, the middle needs spicing up. I did another Field in Spring but that name didn't stick. I suppose that means I have three seasons to go in the series. Perhaps 2007 will be their time.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Queen stitch fill-in

I wanted to get back to this queen stitch learning sampler. Here are a few more ideas from it. I think these can work well as borders or fills. I haven't exhausted this sampler, but the rest I'm saving until I see what ends up happening with this piece.

This year I explored the straight stitches and had so much fun with the working with various ideas. I've put together two pieces using them. And even with such a plain stitch found it so exciting. My limitation was that the stitches could not cross, I could use no tie down, but I could put the stitches at any angle. Perhaps in some peoples mind that's too much flexibility. However it allowed for endless possibilities and many experiments.

Because of SharonB's 2007 stitch challenge(see post below for information on the challenge). I'm not starting off the year with any one certain stitch in mind to explore. The one stitch that I'd been toying with before the challenge idea came up was the woven stitch. I've done a bit of work with them in several pieces and on my trial cloths. So you may see some of them showing up in the blog soon.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

SharonB's 2007 challenge

Saturday I referred to SharonB's Take a Stitch Tuesday 2007 challenge. It is an interesting challenge and the link explains it much better than I. Each week the group will explore a new stitch that Sharon presents. Please check it out and see if it would interest you.

I'm looking forward to it because of the opportunity to gain skill and inspiration from Sharon and the others involved as well as the fun exploring myself. The other great thing is that it is a flexible format and fits each persons skill level and special interest in embroidery. I find myself learning so much from people who are not involved in my particular niche. It gives me another perspective and draws me out of my "rut" thinking.

The picture above is part of my collage made with transparent and opaque materials. So many of the details of the sky just don't show up in the photo. I don't know if I'll try to post any more of it to the blog or not. It is either a case of seeing it in person or having a better photographer!


Saturday, December 09, 2006

The last edge on felt

More experiments in spare moments with the inside out chevron (lower) and the twisted flies, cable chain and feather stitches (upper). I'm going crazy stitching on transparent layers to finish one of last my design class pieces. Definitely off grid work! Perhaps it's fortunate I've been exploring that a bit in SharonB's class.

It's funny how these two classes have worked together to stretch me. I wanted to only do counted thread work on 36- to 40-count linen when I started the design class in mid-January. Now here I am at mid-December and have had to experiment with different fabrics and threads in spite of all my initial intentions to the contrary.

I'm hoping next year will be a good solid year of growth with some of these concepts I've learned and need so much more practice with in my designs. The only new learning challenges planned for next year are color and shape. I want to join in on SharonB's Take a Stitch Tuesday and keep up with the group of people in the PLS class after the close of the Joggles' forum this coming Wednesday.

I've been going through my projects underway. I have so many in various stages of progress that I should finish off the old ones and never start a new one until mid-June. I'm going to try sticking my new designs into a visual journal. I want to see if that will help prevent stitching on anything new until then. I have two ideas that are just eating away at me. One is an abstract that needs colors and stitches determined. The other is a dragon. Of course, the dragon is an abstraction, too, but very recognizable. Thankfully, all my plans for this next year are as last year's, subject to God's providence.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Twisted flys and Inside out chevrons

Still working with the felt to see what I can do on it. Enjoyed doing a twisted fly and feather (inner three lines at the lower right) and the inside out chevrons (two rows outermost upper right). I'm not sure what the name are for these stitches; these are names I use to help me remember what I did. There are four slipped cable chain rows at the lower left. The first has the slip done on top and twisted at the loop before fastening. Then I put a French knot on each side. The second has detached chain stitch on each side, the third one is beaded and the lower chain is laced with a stitch added in the middle and some extra loops on the bottom.
I finished reading SharonB's sixth lesson. The text and the visuals are wonderfully inspiring. It is making it so hard to pull away for a few days and concentrate on my design class. But, of course, once I get working on that I will be just as happy there. Now to work on bringing the two together seamlessly!

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

More on felt from Lesson 5

Below is some more play with rice stitches in the beaded areas. And my best efforts to implement some SharonB's tips about them. In the rest of the piece I'm sure my classmates will pick out other elements from lesson 5. Thanks to the good advice I've been getting I'm off to the store to recheck the fabric and purchase some other needles to try. Many thanks to everyone who was so willing to help me.

I've almost finished reading the amazing lesson 6. I'm looking forward to beginning the stitching. What a great opportunity SharonB has provide for us to learn. I would highly recommend this class whenever she offers it again. The class link should provide a good overview of the course as well as other links for information about it. I thought this class and Sharon's teaching style allows any stitcher to start where they are and go as far as they can. I don't see how anyone could exhaust all the material provided in the six weeks. I plan to be returning to it time and time again. The elements on design that Sharon provided in addition to the stitches is a great plus. I found it augmenting the design course I am taking concurrently.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Making holes

Much to my distress, I am leaving needle holes in this felt. If anyone stopping by has knowledge of this subject and would kindly post an answer, I would appreciate it along with any other tips you might have. I'm wondering 1. if I bought the wrong kind of felt and if so what do I need instead? 2. how do I avoid making the holes besides not changing my mind and parking threads outside of the design area? 3. is it possible to reduce or smooth the hole after it's made? I used a 26 tapestry needle and a thread about equal to a Perle 8. The 22 inch bolt said wool felt. But it looks very different than the wool felt that my LNS had. However, they(LNS) did not have any light neutral color that would work with the threads I had. Therefore, I went off to the craft store, where they were very nice but had no idea how to answer my most basic questions. The thread is actually a very nice purple and the felt is antique white even if the picture didn't capture this. This is some attempt at suggestions SharonB made for the rice stitch and the rest is just testing the material with a variety of stitches.

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Filling in the holes

A few ideas to fill in the page for the single straight feather stitch came up to mind as I had read some of the more recent lessons from SharonB's class. The other night with no thread to do my grid, I finally had an opportunity to try them. I might have pushed the limit too far on the 3rd light blue border and reduced it to nothing more than a fly stitches. But it's too late for, it's stitched!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Shapes and Grids

My design class and SharonB's stitch class are pushed together on this page. On the design side we have been studying grids and stitch shapes in SharonB's. The rice stitch is a very definite shape either square or diamond. I decided to push it into a rectangle too. I've got one more grid to add to this, but my LNS is closed on Mondays. I can't find any suitable thread in my stash.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

More on density

SharonB's lesson 4 has me thinking about density. On this 4x6 I learned new variations of the buttonhole and Cretan stitch, made a long-tailed French knot and tried the cloud stitch. All aimed toward the use of density in embroidery. By the time I was finishing up I was also striving to consider a way to convey distance and what part density has to play in that. These two considerations have forced me to think about the color, luster and thickness of the threads I use.

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