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Showing posts from July, 2010

Knitting Randomly

Random Lessons, Part 2
My first lesson randomness occurred at the Great Sand Dunes.
My second lesson occurred a few years later when I found "Glorious Knits" by Kaffe Fassett.  This was in the late 1980's.
I fell in love with the Toothed Stripe Waistcoat and decided that I had to make one, even though I could barely knit.
Both the colors and the teeth are stitched randomly.  A small section of the pattern is charted with some advice on how to keep stitching the design without using the chart.
Unike walking randomly, which I found impossible, I found knitting randomly to be easy.  After I had decided the colors for one section, I could think about the next section.  I would have time to change my mind a few times before I had to make another decision.  It turned out that I didn't need a chart.
It was great fun to knit the sweater.  I enjoyed using many bright yarns and watching them come together to form a pattern.    In fact, this project spoiled knitting for me for a long…

Blue Flax Mini

Here's my latest cross-stitch design available on patternsonline.
I have 4 of these 3x3 inch frames and I need to get them filled.  I decided to stitch various flowers from my garden and picked blue flax for the first flower.

As you can see the stems and leaves are very delicate and they have a blueish-purple flower.
This is Linum Lewissi named for Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame.
Linen, the fabric I often stitch on is made from Linum Usitatissumum.  Blue flax must have similar characteristics because my wildflower guide states that the American Indians did twist the stems into fishing lines.
It is very difficult to photograph flax on a windy day.  But, I discovered that they make great shadows.

On my to-do list is to play with some of the shadow photos on Photoshop.  If I can get a pleasing arrangement I may try a feature of my cross-stitch software that I haven't used yet.  I can upload a photo and have it automatically converted into a chart.  I'd like to see what it…

Knitting Needle Holder

This is my old knitting needle holder.  It was made by a good friend out of vintage materials.  Actually, it's more for sewing tools  and it doesn't do a good job with the needles.  They all fall out and my smaller things like stitch holders and yarn needles get lost in the big pockets. 

It's really pretty on the outside so I decided to make a real knitting needle holder.
I found "Sew What! Bags" by Lexie Barnes a while ago and loved the book.  It has an Artist's Roll that is similar.
I modified the pattern from the book to make a roll custom for my needles.

Best feature - the top folds down so the needles can't escape.  Also, I made the smaller pocket really small so it holds my smaller stuff - including paper clips and safety pins.
I was thinking of doing something to mark the pockets with needle sizes. But, I may not always be carrying the same needle size.  I got the idea of sewing in a ribbon so I could hang tags on the ribbon to mark the needle size.  Th…

Visitor Update

The caterpillars are getting bigger and greener and the parsley is disappearing.

Visitors in the Garden

Look who I found crawling on the parsley.
When I first found them they all looked like the upper 2 caterpillars.  I decided to try to identify them to see if they were good caterpillars or bad caterpillars.
My well-used butterfly book that I received in 1972 didn't show any caterpillars resembling mine so I switched to the Internet.  All the caterpillars that came up with parsley didn't look anything like it.  So, I focused on the white stripe.  Everything that came up had stripes going from head to toe, not across. 
Next, I tried white band and that did it.  The same caterpillar associated with parsley came up.  After I clicked into enough sites I discovered that the caterpillar starts out looking one way and then changes.  The photo above was taken 24 hours after I first found the caterpillars and you an see that the lower one has changed but the remnants of the stripe is still visible.
The caterpillars will become black swallowtails. I went back to my old book and read the entr…


The "America The Beautiful" reception was yesterday.
It was a HOT day in Palmer Lake but around 200 people came out to the Tri-Lakes Arts Center to see the show. 

I baked cookies for the refreshment table.

And demonstrated stitching techniques. 

The show runs through July 29.

Stitching Randomly

No, this isn't the same picture as last time.  All the wool strips have been tacked down so the project is now portable.
I'll be filling it in with stitches, beads and sequins.  I don't know exactly how and I don't care.  I'll figure it all out as I'm stitching.  When I'm not following a pattern that's how I work.  I sometimes think that if I had started the project a day or an hour earlier the end result would be completely different.

I call this random stitching - this is one I did a while ago.  It is actually work to be random.  It's easy to fall into a pattern and then start repeating it again and again.  I had some lessons in randomness early on and I can now easily stitch randomly.
Back when I was a teenager, my sister and I read the Dune series by Frank Herbert.  Briefly, it is science fiction and takes place a planet made up entirely of sand dunes.  Outside of the main city on Dune it is dangerous.  The main predator is a gigantic sand worm tha…

Third Try with Wool

I recently posted pictures of my Striped Heart and Purple Mountain Majesties.
Both are made with strips of wool appliqued down with embroidery.  It seemed like a good idea, but I didn't know how it would turn out.
I made the heart first and used some painted aida cloth and multi-colored floss. 
Then I added beads to fill in the gaps.  The whole stitching process went smoothly.
When I went to finish it the aida was difficult to work with - hearts are a difficult shape with both inward and outward points and aida doesn't ease well.  I had liked the idea of the paint showing through but when I finished you could barely see it.
So, I tried something different the next time around.

I used needlepoint canvas.  I managed to completely cover it so none of the canvas was visible.  I liked working on the stiffer fabric.  But, sometimes I wanted to split the thread and other times I didn't so I was constantly switching between a tapestry needle and a sharp needle.
Now, I'm on my third w…

Purple Mountain Majesties

America the Beautiful: The Fiber of our Heart
This show is running at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake, Colorado through July 29.
The highlight of the show is the America the Beautiful tapestry done by the Embroiderers' Guild of America.
There is also a show of local Needle and Fiber Art.  I have 2 pieces dispalyed.  One is Postcards from Colorado that I did several years ago.  The second piece was done for this show.  I had just finished the Striped Heart and wanted to play more with the technique.  Instead of a shape I wanted to do a bigger picture.
Here is the picture I selected.  It was taken during an April day in the Garden of the Gods.  It is not Pikes Peak, but the peak is nearby.

The picture has the sky, mountains, plains and grains (sort of) to fit the America the Beautiful lyrics.
I recreated the picture using the same stripes of wool as the heart (in different colors) and lots of different flosses,stitches and beads.

If you look at the center of the top pictur…

Striped Heart

It's back.
I made this heart during the springtime and sent it in to the Piecework Heart Ornament Contest.
Needless to say, it was not selected.
At the time I was imagining intricate embroidered hearts with lots of fancy stitches.  I had wool out for other projects and the colors were perfect for hearts.

The thread was from a sampler pack of remnants from a yarn shop.  It was a 3 ply cotton yarn that stitched beautifully on the wool.  I have since looked for and been unable to find a whole skein.  I found something very similar but the colors change about every yard instead of every inch.
And beads!  Had to add beads.
I picked up the latest Piecework with the contest results yesterday.  All the winning hearts are fabulous.  I am so jealous of the bleeding hearts.  I wish I had the patience to stitch something like that.
Oh well, Piecework will have another contest announced in the fall.  I'm going to try something more ambitious and competitive.

Finally Basting

After a big delay I've finally started basting my big quilt.  Since I machine quilt I always pin baste.  Everyone assumes that I hand quilt.  But since I enjoy different types of embroidery I save my hands for that and quilt on the machine.
 I've been going to the local quilt store and using their tables to baste but my wrists, shoulders and back are not looking forward to an all-day session.  I'd rather do it a little at a time over weeks instead of hours.

I dug the table out of storage and set up in an out of the way area.  In the first week I have 3 rows basted and another 7 left to go.  Doing it a little at a time sure beats doing it all at once even if its going to take longer.
This is the final smoothing out of the quilt.  As it was pieced, the fabric was continually being ironed flat.  Now, I'm going to great lengths to get all 3 layers, backing, batting and quilt top, as smooth as possible.  Once this basting is complete and it is taken off the table it will never…

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!

Knitted Domino Bag

Another finish!
This started out as Potholder # 2 from Domino Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro.  I really liked the way the colors worked together and decided to make another one and turn it into a bag.
I like bags but making them intimitdates me.  After staring at the parts for a few weeks I finally decided to do it.  I've made my share of errors assembling bags.  I've sewn the pocket in upside down and made the lining too small.
This projects first mistake involved the straps.  I remember seeing something somewhere about i-Cords with clothesline on the inside for strength.  That sounded like a good idea.  I knitted the i-Cords and then got some clothesline to stuff inside.  That doesn't work.  Had I done more research I would have learned that you knit the i-Cord around the clothesline (and there are great tutorials out there).  Instead I ended up using a doubled up white shoelace for strength.  It was actually possible to thread it in the i-Cord and will make a servicable strap.

Another Penstemon

It's not like I don't have enough to do.  I don't really need to stitch two of everything but this time I did.
I wanted to see if the Penstemon would fit in a 4x6 frame and this was the first one I found.  Yes, it looked like it fit so before I knew it I was stitching.

It turned out so different from the first one. 
The supplies: Weeks Dye Works 1277 - Collards The Gentle Art  Simply Shaker Sampler Threads - Rhubarb Indigo Dyed Aida Cloth Botanical Penstemon Chart
I love the faded, washed out look.  This is another reason my favortie color scheme right now is red, blue and green.
The indigo aida comes from my stash.  Down the road from where I live is Table Rock Llamas.  Years ago they had an "Indigo Day".  They had a pot of indigo brewing and for a small price you could dye what you wanted.  So, I have a supply of indigo floss, aida, linen and fabric.  Every once in a while I have to use some.
OK, enough penstemon.  I should really go on to the next project now.