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Happy New Year

Diverted by Candlewicking

My thrift store Christmas continues.  As well as the potholder kit, I also found a Candlewicking ornament kit for 50 cents.  I've heard of Candlewicking before, but I've never tried it so I grabbed the kit as well.

When I opened it up I discovered the stitches where mostly french knots, with lazy daisies, stem stitch and padded satin stitches.   Nothing new, I've done all those before.

A quick trip to Wikipedia revealed that Candlewicking is traditionally done on muslin with a thread that could be braided into candle wicks.  So, the name is more for the materials and style and not the stiches themselves.



So, while the dog slept I started stitching.  I didn't get the ornaments completed, but I made a good start.  I'll get my ornaments for next year done early.  Maybe.




Those are padded satin stitches and I've only done the first pass, so they will look better when complete.

Potholders

Christmas is the time for crafts.  Making looped potholders is one of those childhood pasttimes that I had forgotten.  Over the summer I attended a cookout and one of the hosts daughters was busy making her own potholders.  I was instantly taken back and wanted reach my hand in the bag of loops and grab a loom.  I restrained myself.

Flash forward till a few weeks ago.  On the shelf at a thrift store was a lonely potholder kit for a dollar so I snatched it up for some Christmas fun.

Things have changed.  The loom was plastic, not metal and the loops seemed skimpier.  The following warning was printed on the back:



Great, potholders that you can't even use as potholders! 

Somethings haven't changed.  Some of the loops, no matter how you tugged and pulled would never be big enough to fit on the loom.  There weren't even enough of the full sized ones to complete one potholder so I had to work in 5 loops that where an inch too short resulting in a lopsided potholder instead of squa…

Merry Christmas to All

Jacob's Ladders

One of my favorite things to do is visit the new books shelf in the library.  Besides fiction, I look at cook books and craft books among others.  I find many great ideas in these books. 

Last week I spotted Origami Card Craft: Clever Cards and Envelopes to Fold by Karen Elaine Thomas.  The project that caught my eye was a Jacob's Ladder.  The picture above is my first try.  I messed up the folding so you will see some creases where there shouldn't be.  Next time I'll do better (and I'll find brighter paper).  I've made Jacob's Ladders before and I was doubtful how the paper version would work.  Except for having to divide the paper in thirds, it was easy, and the result is very sturdy.

For those who haven't seen these before, it is a book that is hinged on both sides and can open either way due to the clever arrangement of the ties (in this case the white paper).  If you put a sheet of paper on the left half, close it and then open on the other hinge, the p…

Transitions

I started this blog to record information about my cross stitch designs.  Last weekend I covered the last of the designs that I have finished and are for sale.  So, no more "new" material until I have another design out (don't worry, there are many in the works). 

Now is the time to get creative if I'm going to keep this blog going.  I am horrible at paper diaries and never managed to keep one for a few days.  I've been doing this for months and having fun.

Luckily, I have many things going on so I should be able to keep going:
A color class based on some earlier designs is now a Petite Project for chapters of The Embroiderers' Guild of America.  I am working on another color class for the StitchMAP Yahoo Group. Yesterday I got a rejection from a Cross Stitch magazine and now need to decide what to do with that pattern. I want to make heart for Piecework Magazine's 2010 Contest. I will be releasing a bunch of new designs late winter/early spring 2010. I'm s…

Snowflakes Fly

Here is my Snowflake Sampler.  It is available for sale from http://www.patternsonline.com/

This time, instead of making up the snowflakes as I stitched, I drew them on graph paper.  Since I wanted the snowflakes to be reproducible, it was much easier to graph them first and stitch them second.

The only thing I didn't design in advance was the bead placement.  It's much easier deciding where they go on the actual stitched piece instead of a pictoral representation.

One of the hardest things about designing your own sampler is deciding on colors.  I started with 2 doodles.  One on off-white linen in light blues and one on lavender with white and darker blue snowflakes.  It was a hard decision, but I finally decided to go with the off-white and light blues.  The result is low-contrast snowflakes.  I now think my model should have been in the higher contrast colors. 

Whenever I decide to go with the safer colors I end up deciding that the wilder colors would have been better.  Whene…

Crafty Snowflakes

Besides paper, snowflakes can be made in many other ways.  This blue one was tatted by a friend.



And this snowflake was crocheted, also by a friend.  I don't tat or crochet, but I do cross stitch.



I love stitching snowflakes.  One year I made a bunch of them one after the other.  This is the only one I have left.  All the others where given away.

They are simple to make with a basic formula (formula, not pattern).  I start by cross stitching a big plus sign - the size doesn't matter.  Then I either cross stitch or backstitch an X over the top of it.  Then, all you need to do is start adding backstitches, beads and other embellishments until it's complete.  Voila!  Almost instant snowflake.

Paper Snowflakes

Winter has definely arrived.  Temperatures at night have been well below zero and the snow is crunchy.

It's fun to make snowflakes that don't make the roads slippery or mess up traffic.  It also doesn't hurt that this can be done inside where it's nice and warm.

I've made snowflakes like this since I was a kid.  I'd tape them to the windows so it always looked snowy outside and they would stay there all winter.

A few random snips and you end up with a unique snowflake.  Never knowing how they will turn out until they are unfolded is part of the fun.

Usually I start with a square folded in half and in half again and then in half diagonally to make an eight pointed star.  This time I got a quilt ruler and tried folding the paper into sixths to get a six pointed star.  It's not as easy as eigths but it can be done if you are patient (I'm sure there's a good trick that I haven't figured out yet).

Let it snow!

Watercolor Christmas Tree Cards

I'm making Christmas Tree cards.

I was framing a watercolor painting and had to trim it down to fit the frame.  I know, I shouldn't do that.  Over 10 years ago I had a frame job quoted and the price caused me to put the watercolors in a drawer and forget about them.  I found them a few weeks ago and decided to make them fit in a standard frame.

I ended up with thin strips of paper with bits of watercolor on them.  They where so pretty I made a few sheets of watercolor doodles just to cut them up.



They look even prettier cut up into smaller pieces and turned into trees.  Before I could stop myself I had fashioned 20 cards.  I just can't let anything pretty go to waste.

Now I have some "new" watercolors on the wall where they can be seen and some non-store-bought Christmas cards as a bonus.

Blue Alphabet

This is my first alphabet sampler.

The letters are of random sizes and are not on a straight line.  They where created by writing sloppily on graph paper and then charting it from there.  The resulting alphabet is whimsical and fun.

I've started designing my samplers to fit in pre-made frames and the alphabet wasn't quite big enough for a 5 x 7 opening so a border was necessary, besides an alphabet by itself is boring.

I stitched it on a piece of fabric hand-dyed overdyed with blue.  Going with the blue theme I simulated the look of overdyed floss by using different shades of blue and changing colors every few letters.  The result was just too blue - the piece looked very cold.  I had used the same fabric for Les Fleurs des Bois and the bright colors looked much better there.  I decided my initial border was not right and changed it to a flame design with different shades of peach to warm things up.  I still think I should have made it warmer.
Anyways, I really like the alphabet a…

Winterberry

This is my latest design available a few days ago on http://www.patternsonline.com/.

This design started out on graph paper.  I was playing around with border vines and it was a cold day so I was thinking of cool colors - blues and greens.  The blues and greens where too cold so I added a contrasting red which became the "berry" part of the design. 

Once I had the vine designed I decided to turn the vine into a border.  I had to figure out here to turn the corner and it turned out to be easier than I thought by adding the flower. The border came out about 3 inches square. 

Next, I had to figure out how to fill in the center.  Adding a big flower was a logical choice, but I couldn't come up with one that fit so I just added the center square which left the middle to fill in and I wasn't sure what to do next until I thought of blackwork.  I'm usually not patient enough for blackwork but it is a small area and there are alot of colors.  It balances the heavier stitch…

The ABC's of Cross Stitch Alphabets

Alphabets are quite popular on cross stitch samplers and there are many decisions to be made when choosing an alphabet.  Upper case or lower case is one decision.  It seems that upper case is most popular.  Using lower case causes all sorts of compications.  Extra space is needed for j, k, l, p and the other letters that extend above or below the main line. 

Another important decision is even or odd.  The alphabet above is odd.  That is, it is and odd number of stitches high, in this case 7.  Notice the B and D.  Both are symmetryical.



This is an even alphabet that is 6 stitches high.  Notice that the B and D are no longer symmetrical.  I prefer odd alphabets.  I've been known to change the size of a sampler to mak an even alphabet into an odd alphabet.

Both of these samplers are in a traditional font.  But it is easy to re-arrange the stitches to create different looks for you alphabet.  Here is an elegant alphabet that is only 7 stitches high:



Each letter takes up more space and gi…

Diverted by the Aztec Stitch

Last Christmas during an ornament exchange I recieved one made in a technique I did not recognize.  I've been stitching a long time now and this doesn't happen too often.  I tracked down the lady who made it and discovered it was the Aztec Stitch.  Some quick googling revealed information and a free project from Piecework Magazine that I quickly printed out.  I didn't have the supplies on hand so it was put aside, but not forgotten.


My EGA (Embroiderers' Guild of America) Chapter was looking for program ideas so I suggested the Aztec Stitch.  Patience paid off and the program was a few weekends ago but I had to miss it.  I picked up the canvas and instructions last weekend and dropped everything to get started.  This bookmark is stitched using 18 count canvas and #8 pearl cotton.



Canvas threads are removed and the design area is outlined with nun's stitches.  Then the fun begins.  Alternating stripes of wrapped bars create a beautiful effect. 

This thread was dyed in…

Diverted by Fun Fabric People

Thing #1 and Thing #2

Last weekend was my monthly class at the local needlework/quilt shop.  It's called Art Journal and each class is a secret until we arrive.  Every month we get to play with a different technique.  So far this year we've done kool-aid dyeing. fusing, free-motion quilting, free-form embroidery, made fabric buttons, made layered fabric and others things I can't remember right now.

Many of the these techniques I've seen in books and magazines.  They are the type of thing that I want to drop eveything and try but end up not doing.  All year I've had a few hours every month to just play with these ideas. 

Last Saturday the teacher brought in scraps of fabrics, beads, yarn, threads, batting and a few examples.  We went crazy.  Each of us picked different fabrics and beads and immediently went to work creating our people.  No two ended up the same although many had really wild hair.

On many classs days I've been busy and tired and wondered why I had s…

Rocky Mountain Wildflowers

Rocky Mountain Wildflowers

This is my Rocky Mountain Wildflower Sampler.  Here I have featured two wildflowers that grow all over the Rocky Mountains.  They grow in my yard in the meadows just over 7,000 feet.  They also grow high up in the mountains over 10,000 feet.



Rocky Mountain Bluebells

These are Rocky Mountain Bluebells.  Every flower identification book I own has a different species of this plant in it.  Streamside Bluebells; Mertensia ciliata.  Tall Bluebells; Metensia paniculata.  Alpine Bluebells; Metensia alpina.  Long-flowered Bluebells; Mertensia longiflora.  I do not know which version this is.

I first saw this flower along a small alpine stream near the ghost town of Hancock, CO, elevation 11,050.  When I moved here I was surprised when spring came along and bluebells sprouted up in my yard at 7,200 ft.  They are much shorter than the tall bluebells growing up higher - only 6 to 12 inches off the ground.  But, the flower is unmistakable.



Indian Paintbrush

And this is the Ind…

Diverted by a Photo Album

Wyoming

I started taking pictures in the 70's when film came in rolls with 12 pictures on a roll.  On a long family vaction of 3 weeks I might be allowed to use 2 or 3 rolls of film and it might be another 2 or 3 months before they where developed.



Montana

Sometimes I allowed myself 2 pictures a day - one of scenery and one of family.  Sometimes I would go crazy and take more.  Especially if we where someplace scenic like Yellowstone.



Yellowstone Falls



Old Faithful


Now I have 2 digital cameras where I can take over 1000 photos on one memory card.  Oh, the luxury!  I can stroll through the yard on a beautiful day and snap 50 or more pictures.  I'll probably keep 10% or less of them, but it gives me the freedom to try different angles and perspectives.  And talk about instant gratification.  I can look at them right away, not when the memories of taking the pictures are a distant memory.


Funky Flowers

These are my Funky Flowers.  Until now, most of my flowers have been realistic interpretations.  These started as doodles.  I decided to see if they could be successfully transfered to cross stitch so I transferred one to a 4 inch graph paper square.  By working bigger you can definitely get in more detail.  I like the way the hastily scribbled leaves turned out.

The flowers where more difficult.  Actually, upper left and bottom right where more difficult.  I liked the other two as soon as they where drawn.  But the difficult ones where redesigned many times.  Interestingly, those two are sort of based on real flowers (Upper left the blanketflower and bottom right a flower growing in a friends yard that I don't know the name of and never had a chance to look up).  Since the other 2 came totally out of my imagination they didn't have any expectations to live up to.

Since the flowers where more cartoony I gave them black and white checked borders.  I love the way they turned out b…

Striped Christmas Ornaments

These ornaments are my latest design availaible on patternsonline.com earlier this week.

These are another simple/not simple design.  It's simple to come up with different striped patterns but not so simple to make the round shape.  I ended up with a compass and graph paper tracing various sized circles until I got one that lined up nicely.  The patterns still don't look like a perfect circle, but they are close enough for me.

I could have spent the whole day designing stripes on graph paper but I restrained myself after designing just four good ones.  I have several not so good ones that I'll work on later.

Next came the colors.  It was hard using the same four colors for each ornaments.  There are so many great shades of red and green to choose from.  I ended up with 2 greens, a red and a pink.  Although pink isn't as traditional as red and green it's fun and brightens up the ornaments.

Although these patterns look like they could have come from a fair isle sweater, …

Design Idea - Fair Isle Sweaters

Sometimes finding a design idea is as simple as looking in your closet.  Fair Isle sweaters have great patterns.



They may look complicated, but each row only has 2 colors.



There are simple geometric patterns and not so simple geometric patterns.




These designs can be easily adapted to cross-stitch for borders and to fill an area.  Start with a simple zig-zag, line or cross.  Vary the colors.  Add dots, circles and other shapes.  Sometimes you'll be amazed at the patterns you can make with only a few colors and a few shapes.

I've even used these sweaters as an inspiration for a beaded amulet bag.  It's done in peyote stitch.  The grid is a different shape than cross-stitch but it lends itself to similar patterns.  As in Fair Isle, each row only has 2 colors.


Sequined Christmas Trees

Since these ornaments have been my most popular design and since holiday season is almost here, I think I should write about the Sequined Christmas Trees.

After I made arrangements with patternsonline.com I had a deadline - a certain number of patterns by a certain date.  I had some patterns already but I still had to come up a few new patterns. 

I decided on Christmas Ornaments.  After all, Christmas is a popular stitching time and I figured I could whip out some ornaments rather quickly.  Wrong!  Designing smaller patterns is easier and quicker than designing bigger patterns ... up to a point.  At a certain size, the smaller patterns become harder.  There is less space to work with and, since there is less stitching, every stitch is important.



My first attempts where pathetic.  The trees didn't look right.  The stitch placement was awkard with no places to hide the threads (I was stitching on perforated paper and you can't have threads running across the back).  When I got to …