Thursday, November 28, 2013

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!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Arabella Reborn

I have become addicted to StitchPlay Designs classes through Shining Needle Society.  Michael Boren and Carole Lake have great designs - lots of geometrics, which just call to me.  And they always include lots of colorways so there is something for every mood.

Their current class is Arabella Reborn.  It was so much fun to stitch that I finished it ahead of time! The piece uses lots of Caron Collection threads and I stitched it in the Kelp colorway.

Arabella Reborn - Kelp Colorway
Designed  by StitchPlay Designs
5½” x 5 ½” on 18-count canvas

Today is such a gloomy day here in New Jersey.  It's in the mid-50s and raining.  I don't know exactly what happened to Spring; it feels more like October than the end of May.  I think I'll go stitch something.

Until next time, happy stitching!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Or Nue Star Lily Finished

Posting three times in as many days - that's certainly a record for me.

I finished Or Nué Star Lily last night.  I really like the way it turned out.  We used the "economy" style of laying the thread - coming up in the hole directly below the one that the thread went into.  My tension is not that even and the #16 braid was a little stiff to work with for this method, at least for me. So, I think I may try to either lay the metallic using a satin stitch so that it wraps around the back or lay it all on the top and couch at the end.  Sounds like a trip to the needlework store for some canvas!

Or Nué Star Lily
Designed by Brenda E. Kocher Designs
2" x 2" on 18-count black canvas
Until next time, happy stitching!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Or Nué Class

Yesterday I took an Or Nué class by Brenda Kocher.  The ANG Main Line Stitchers Chapter hosted the event.  The day was somewhat gloomy - a perfect day for stitching.  We were all so excited to start on Brenda's Or Nué Star Lily design.

Or Nué means "nuance of gold" or "shaded gold".  In this technique, gold or silver threads are laid across the canvas and then held down with silk threads couched over the metallic.  The silk threads are couched in a pattern that forms a design.  At the ends, the metallic threads can either be "sunk" into the canvas, which is what we did in class, or turned on the surface.  There are some excellent references on the Internet, including Jane Zimmerman's Traditional Technique of Or Nué.  There is a magnificent collection of Or Nué embroideries in the Altar Room (Sala dell'Altare) in the Cathedral Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo) in Florence.  They were designed by Pollaiolo in the 15th Century and took 23 years to complete.  We were able to visit there two years ago and the embroideries are breathtaking!  Unfortunately, my attempts to photograph the embroideries were not successful.

Our efforts yesterday were very basic and gave us a first taste of the technique.  Brenda is a terrific teacher and the class was very enjoyable.  It was so much fun watching the design emerge as we couched the Kreinik #16 braid that we were using as the metallic.  Of course, we were all so absorbed in stitching that we had to be reminded to take a break every so often.

By the end of the class, I finished about half of the design of Or Nué Star Lily.  You can see that I have a number of needles going at once to avoid dragging threads across the back of the work.

Or Nué Star Lily
Progress as of May 18, 2013
And here is the what the design will look like when finished.

Or Nué Star Lily
Brenda E. Kocher Designs
Completed Piece
Since it's raining here today, I think I'll work on finishing this piece.

Until next time, happy stitching!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Stash Building

I should just change the name of my blog to I Don't Know Where the Time Goes.  I was thoroughly aghast at how long it has been since I've posted.  Oh, well, much like my diets, tomorrow is another day (channeling Scarlett O'Hara).

I have been quite busy with some stitching - and I hope to get the finishes posted soon.  Right now I'm in a hotel room in King of Prussia, PA, trying to blog on my iPad; a new experience for me.  I already miss my laptop because I don't type as fast on the virtual keyboard.  And I tend to edit a lot when I write.

So what has all that to do with stash building?  The reason I am here is that tomorrow I will be taking a class on Or Nue, which uses silk couching threads over laid gold thread to create the design.  Brenda Kocher is teaching at the ANG Main Line Stitchers Chapter.  I decided to come down a day early so that I wouldn't have to get up ridiculously early tomorrow to drive the 2 hours or so before class.  I want to be really awake since, in my usual contrary fashion, I chose the black canvas on which to stitch rather than the white.

Still wondering about the stash building?  There is a needlepoint shop nearby- Fireside Stitchery - that I was able to visit this afternoon.  I almost didn't make it before they closed because of traffic, the two-hour ride turned into three, but I got there with about 30 minutes to spare.  They have a fabulous selection of threads and beads and canvases.  I restrained myself (something to do with recently looking at all of the canvases, charts and projects already waiting to be stitched) and only purchased a few things.  But they are goodies!

With any luck I'll blog about the class tomorrow, but it may wait until I get home so that I can use the laptop and be able to format everything.