Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back to School

Although we celebrate the new year on January 1, somehow September always seems to be the real beginning of the year.  Part of it, of course, is that my life still is scheduled around the school year. DD is a high school junior this year and we are starting the college tour circuit.  But, I think, part of it is that the cool weather seems to re-energize me.  I am, by no means, a cold weather person.  In fact, I have a very limited temperature range in which I am comfortable.  And even that is off-kilter these days - I am hot when everyone else is cool and vice versa.  But it seems that many activities take a hiatus during the summer and then resume in the fall.

My needlework classes are no exception.  I have managed to sign myself up for four different classes of varying length/complexity starting in September/October.  On Saturday I blogged about my Ukrainian Embroidery class at the Ukrainian Museum in New York City.  That class will meet for eight weeks.  I learned that there are three eight-week sessions with the second one beginning after the New Year.

So today I will bring you up-to-date on the other classes.  Of course, I still have in-progress projects that I started months and even years ago!

Slava Russki
I  started the Slava Russki class at The Edwardian Needle's new location.  This is one of Tony Minieri's designs which are always fun but a bit of a challenge.  This class will meet once a month for a year, which means I have a chance to actually finish the piece since I will have some time in between classes to work on it.

Slava Russki
Designed by Tony Minieri
Design Size 8"  by 11"
(on Light Blue Congress Cloth)
We worked on one area last week:  the triangle in the upper left corner.  This is a five-step composite stitch; I completed three of the steps in a small area; you can see the stitches as they are built up.  I am determined to finish this area before the next class in early October, and to keep up with the stitching from each class.

Progress after Class 1

Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood
I am also ghosting Carole Lake's Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood.  Carole is teaching the class in October at the ANG Georgia Chapter.  It will make a nice companion piece to Carole's St. Basil's Cathedral which I stitched a few years ago.

Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood
Designed by Carole Lake
Design Size 12" x 14"
(on 18-count Blue Mono Canvas)

Stitcher's Hideaway Retreat
And, finally, I will be attending the Stitcher's Hideaway Retreat in Mystic, CT again this year.  The incredible Thea Dueck of The Victoria Sampler has designed a very special piece for this Retreat and I have been busy with my pre-work.  We will be concentrating on the Hardanger embroidery at the bottom of the piece and the hemstitching in the middle, as well as some of the specialty stitches.  I am hoping to have all of the cross-stitching completed before the Retreat.  Some of that cross-stitching (such as the lettering) is over one!

Mystic Christmas Sampler
Designed by Thea Dueck
of The Victoria Sampler
Design Size 14"  x 5"
(on 28-count Misty Blue Cashel)
I just love this Retreat - what could be better than spending a few days away from work/home with other stitchers doing what we enjoy so much?  This is my fourth retreat and I look forward to it every year.  There will be an ornament exchange during the Retreat so I have to add that as part of my stitching obligations.

That brings me up-to-date on my classes.  I hope to be a little more conscientious about blogging on my progress with these projects.

Until next time, happy stitching.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ukrainian Embroidery

Every Monday morning I get an email from Nordic Needle and there is usually a story about one of their customers.  In May of this year the featured stitcher hailed from Astoria, Queens, and talked about the classes she takes at the Ukrainian Museum in NYC.  I was very intrigued - my father grew up right down the block from the museum.  Although he attended the Polish Church with his father, his mother and sisters attended the Ukrainian Church.  But they all spoke Ukrainian at home.

I actually got started in counted cross stitch while in college because I had found a piece of cross stitch that my grandmother had done and I tried to replicate the pattern.  So I signed up for the embroidery class that started last Saturday.

It is an interesting class, running from 1:00 to 3:30.  There are about 15 women in the class but it is more of a gathering than a formal class.  There were about eight beginners at the class and the teacher sat with us one-on-one.  We are working on a band sampler.  The more advanced students are working on a number of different projects using other techniques, including cutwork.

We beginners are using DMC floss (four strands) on 25-count Lugana.  I have to admit I am having a very hard time with it.  Not because it's difficult to learn - the first class was all running stitches (essentially darning patterns).  But we are working "in hand" without a hoop or frame, the threads are not separated and then recombined, and we are not using a laying tool.  This is not how I'm used to stitching!

I will have to look closely at the teacher's sample to see what the threads look like because I can't decide whether I should just shrug and accept that the stitching is not going to look like I'm used to seeing; determine that the final product when done expertly looks like something that I should strive to achieve; or secretly work a second piece at home on a frame with a laying tool (or maybe just #8 pearl cotton). 

In the meantime, here is my progress from the first class.  We are using DMC 310 (black) and 321 (red) which are traditional colors in Ukrainian embroidery.

Progress after Class #1
The first band (at the top) is a simple over/under three threads and the second band is over/under two threads. The third band is a "vee" with the red thread woven through it on the surface.

Teacher's Sampler
I'm not really sure how many bands we complete during this eight-week session.  I think it depends on how fast one stitches.  Many of my fellow beginners are not needleworkers so we all had a different number of bands completed by the end of the class.  My homework was to complete the fifth band although we didn't start it in class.  The teacher told me to go ahead and take a picture of the band so that I could figure it out at home. While I had the camera out I took pictures of the rest of the teacher's sampler.  This is obviously the area we started working.

And here are some of the other areas.  While the traditional red and black are my favorite colors, I am itching to work some of those colorful areas!


Today was our second class so I stitched some more bands.  These were, I think, a little easier to maintain tension as they are satin stitch.

Class 2 Progress
Class 2 Close-up of Stitching

I am working on ecru fabric although it looks more white in these two photos.  I have to figure out the best place to photograph my stitching.

Until next time, happy stitching!