Blended Leg

Just a general needlework and cross stitch blog

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

SBQ: Collecting habits

Do you collect charts by one particular designer, yet have never stitched anything by that designer? If so, which designer and why do you collect the charts but have not yet stitched any of them?

Not intentionally. I have collected a number of charts by the same designer, usually with every intention to start them someday. I don't think I've ever bought them just to say I own a particular chart, nor would I call myself a completist with needlework. (If you asked me the same about authors or musicians I like, it'd be a completely different story.) I have quite a few Drawn Thread patterns but I haven't started any of them yet. Usually in my case, I find a shinier chart/design that I can't live without... or I get intimidated by the specialty threads or stitches. There's usually a reason I haven't started something.

Speaking of designers I own a number of charts, but haven't done them, I was interested to learn that Teresa Wentzler now has a blog called Artistic License. One of her posts talked about the process of recharting her older designs, weighing the artistic desire to improve her older designs, while feeling a certain loyalty to those who've already stitched the pattern. Personally I don't see why having the alternate version available is so terrible. Stitchers are known to do the same pattern twice, although not TW's patterns usually, because they take so long to finish. Apparently a number of her charts are available now on Patterns Online where you can download and print the chart. Her patterns still look pricey, but compared to the hassle of searching for used copies off ebay, it's a nifty way to keep patterns in print.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Scary Book progress

As I mentioned in the "Five More Minutes" post, I had a second Pocket Dragon UFO called "Scary Book". I've been stitching steadily on this project since I finished "Five More Minutes", much to the dismay of my Mirabilia WIP, who must now feel like she's being deserted in her garden.

In retrospect, I should have scanned this before I started to give you some idea where I stopped before. Basically I had done most of the dragon and background on the left side. The arch and background below him will take some time. Most of them are shades of grey which sometimes makes it difficult to find my place.

I've been amused by the response to the Pocket Dragons thus far. Everyone loves them and wishes they could find their own copies. Sadly they've been out of print for a looooong time. I still have no idea where my original copies disappeared to. I bought them from the Dancing Dragon catalog. Last year, a vendor at MediaWest was selling old used cross stitch charts and both in the collection. Besides ebay and its equivalents, I'd check to see people's chart sales/trades. Maybe someone will want to part with them.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

SBQ - Specialty stitches

What is your favorite specialty stitch? Which one is your least favorite? Why?

I don't do a lot of specialty stitches to be truthful. My least favorite would probably be french knot, because I have yet to master them, no matter how hard I try. I've tried a couple of tutorials, but I think I really need someone hovering over me to show me the ropes, like with beading. My favorite is probably the Holbein stitch or double running stitch for blackwork. There's just something about flipping over your work and seeing the same thing on the other side. At least you know you're doing it right. I seem to remember liking nun's stitch when I used it for the fringe on a couple of bookmark projects.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

SBQ: Who stole my mojo?

"Lately, it seems that many stitching bloggers have experienced a loss of their stitching mojo. Have you ever lost your stitching mojo? If so, how did you get it back and how long did it take?"

A timely SBQ question this time around. Only in this last month I have started to recover from a long stitching drought. I don't think it was losing the interest or "magical influence", just constraints of time. I always had a number of other priorities or other hobbies holding me back.

And yet even with other friends knitting away around me, I didn't feel the urge to pick up my needlework in my usual solitary protest. (It's not that I dislike knitting. I just don't seem to have the coordination for it, so I stitck with the craft I do know.)

A month or so again, several friends online discussed the idea of a general themed stitch-along and I wanted to participate. Suddenly I itched for a project. I wanted to stare at fabrics and pretty overdyed specialty fibers. I found myself actually looking at needlework websites and discovering how many stitching blogs existed. Even discovered a larger cross stitch community on Livejournal I hadn't found before. Seeing other people's WIPs and finishes helped the process back along. Stitching can be very solitary sometimes, like writing, and I seem to do better when I have other like-minded souls to correspond with. (Or feel like I am anyway.)

For me, the time away refocused the juices on the older projects. Sorting through my stash was both depressing in what I had left unfinished (or even unstarted) and invigorating. Hence my desire to finish the two Pocket Dragons patterns. "Scary Book" is still coming along, although I need to frog a whole section of 932 I did last night. The dragon himself is mostly done except for some little "pockets".

I'm hoping to start some new projects when BGAL starts in June, so hopefully the stitching will continue.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Update of sorts

"Scary Book" continues to be my focus piece for the month. After many attempts I found the problem area, so the dragon actually now has most of a tail. I'm hoping to finish this piece before my trip out of town at the end of the month or at least get the stitching down to the fill in stage.

I'm participating in the Blue & Gold Along. BGAL is open to any needle arts as long as the projects involves some combination of blue and gold. Yes, Ravenclaw scarves do apply. Hence my current fascination with the golden dress with blue trim of "Rose of Sharon". The current start date is June 1st to allow people to find supplies and steel themselves for the coming project. But rules wise, it's fairly loose and open otherwise.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Frogs and pocket dragons

In my post about "Five More Minutes", I mentioned that it has a sibling UFO "Scary Book". That UFO actually was one for two reasons, not just one. The main one was I'd misplaced my copy of the chart. The second more irritating reason was I had made an error. I could see the error quickly after comparing the chart and project a few times. I'm wondering if this is fourteen years of hard won experience showing up or just dumb luck. Probably a combination of the two. The irritating part is figuring out where the end is for that section. I wound up having to frog the whole shell of the poor dragon's tail before I was even close.

The background is going to drive me insane with all those greys and dark blues. I may focus on finishing off the dragon before I attack those areas just yet.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

SBQ: Floss & kits

When you stitch from a kit and use the supplied floss do you have leftovers? If so, how much and what do you do with them? If not, do you usually have just enough or do you have to dig into your stash to finish?

I do mostly smaller bookmark/card kits. I've usually had more than enough floss to finish. Usually they just go back into the packaging, especially if they don't give a DMC equivalent.

The only big kit I've used is Teresa Wentzler's "Romeo & Juliet". I haven't gotten far enough to run out just yet. Usually though I'll dig into my stash for more, if it comes to that.


UFO sighting at finish line

I feel like Miss Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls" perpetually engaged to Nathan Detroit for fourteen loyal years with no wedding in sight. And then finally in the last act, closure!

I started cross stitch fourteen or fifteen years ago when I was in college. I learned one afternoon while staying with a friend. Her sister visited and she taught me to stitch, doing one small red fox I have somewhere. Her then-husband taught me backstitching. I graduated to the occasional leaflet on Aida, including a pair of Pocket Dragon patterns from Crazy Crafts, "Five More Minutes" and "Scary Book".

Somewhere along the line I lost my copies of both patterns, so neither of them ever were completed. They became in the parlance of stitching UFOs - unfinished objects.

I despaired of ever finishing them when I came upon the patterns again at a media convention. Someone was selling a bunch of cross-stitch and needlework charts, so I bought both. I came upon both the charts and the UFOs over the last week while I was sorting through my stash. So hey, I needed a break from the Mirabilias, so I opted to finish "Five More Minutes". voila the little Pocket Dragon can now have his nap. Or at least hit the snooze alarm a few times in my honor...

"Scary Book" is a sibling UFO and hopefully that one will get finished in due course. In retrospect, I wish I'd done that one on navy fabric, because there's a lot of background to stitch on that pattern.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Saturday stash shopping

So I went needlework shopping today. Now that I've identified new projects I want to work on, then I obviously need the fabric and threads and bits and bobs now. I also have an upcoming trip at the end of the month, so I hope to get some stitching done then.

My LNS is Needlewoman East, a lovely little shop in the middle of Falls Church. I'm enough of a regular there for them to recognize me. The one lady commented that they hadn't seen me in there in awhile and it was true. The shop is heavily geared towards the needlepointers, rather than cross-stitchers, but they're still a fun group.

I bought two pieces of 28 ct fabric for the two new Mirabilia WIPs "Winter Queen" (Off-white) and "Rose of Sharon" (Mushroom). Both were stitched on 32ct, but the store's supply of 32ct fabric in the evenweave wasn't much. I suppose I could have done them on linen, but I suspect those projects might have been more frustrating than relaxing.

I also bought yet another Mirabilia "Stargazer". Really, I can stop myself any time. But I've seen a couple WIPs of this piece online and couldn't resist getting this pattern.

Unfortunately their building hadn't turned on the a/c yet, so on this spring day, it was sweltering, even with the windows open. I can only imagine having to work in those conditions.

I bought some floss at Michaels/JoAnns. Michaels has completely reorganized. I almost didn't recognize the place when I walked in. Unfortunately they've put the DMC floss in these weird individual display trays. Even looking at the notices of which floss ranges were where wasn't always a help. I should have waited until they were having one of their sales, but I can't guarantee it'll be before my trip.

As usual I didn't find all the colors. I'm a little worried because I didn't see trays for some of these colors. I need to see if DMC has discontinued any colors. And hope mine weren't the ones...


Friday, May 05, 2006

SBQ: Overdyes

Do you or have you stitched with over-dyed threads? (Weeks Dye Works, The Gentle Art Sampler Threads, Six Strand Sweets, etc.) If so, what is your opinion concerning them? If not, why not?

I am on the fence on over-dyed threads. I've bought a number of them over the years, but I've only dabbled in actually using them. I've used Caron's Waterlilies and Watercolors and Gentle Art's Sampler Threads predominantly. I've also bought Silk N Colors and a few others.

I love the muted colors. I'm an old-fashioned girl and I like the antiquey feel to most over-dyes. And I love the imagination and creativity that goes into the naming of some thread lines. Silk N Colors had a series based on the London Tube stops. Gentle Art has their Simply Shaker, not to be outdone by Olde Willow's Quaker Colors. Amy Mitten's Fibers to Dye For are delightfully ghoulish and mysterious.

On the other hand, I don't love the upkeep. The price you pay for hand dyed anything is that they are usually unable to be washed. I consider myself fairly clumsy, especially involving drink or chocolate or tomato sauce. White sweaters have given their lives in my name. Some would tell you unspeakable tales... So telling me something can't be washed or might bleed makes me skittish.

Reading the responses so far, I've noticed a number of people aren't wowed or convinced. They want more variegation for their buck. And they are expensive threads so I understand completely. For small pieces, it's a nice effect, but I'm not sure I'd want a full wall hanging in it. I don't necessarily like the wide variations in color, but that's me.

I include this small piece of work using Caron Threads:

This appeared in New Stitches #122 "Ackworth School Samplers", stitched on Aida using Caron's "Alpine Moss" Waterlilies thread. The motifs appear to be the same as the one shown in the center of the "Elizabeth Shephard" 1820 sampler. I just needed a small project to work on one weekend, hoping that it might encourage me to pick up the bigger projects I've let languish.

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SBQ: March 2005

Do you prefer old-fashioned black and white symbol only patterns, color patterns, or a combination of color and symbols on your patterns?

Black & white are fine as long as they're clearly printed. Having looked over some of older charts this weekend, I noticed the ones that were lovely designs, but I'd be hard pressed to read the charts. If you have to do color, I'd prefer it combined with a symbol of some kind.

I'll add a caveat to the color plus symbol method. I was working on a chart like that last night. Please for god's sake, don't put the same symbol with two different colors, especially if they're right next to each other on the chart, however nice they look on the printed chart. It'll just confuse the poor stitcher on which shade of green she needs.

Do you have a favorite designer? If so, who is it?

You're asking me to choose? But... but... but... I'd probably go with early Mirabilia as my current favorite. They're beautiful and relatively easy to make progress in.

On average, how many hours a week do you spend cross-stitching?

Varies widely. I just went through a long drought, so comparatively speaking, it seems like I'm stitching a lot lately. I try to do a few hours a day if possible, but sometimes all my stitching is over the weekend.

What are your thoughts on craft and/or needlework shows? Have you been to one or are you planning on going to one this year?

I've only been to two needlework shows, the Woodlawn and Loudon Museum shows. The Woodlawn show was usually bigger and covered a wider range of needlework styles. The Loudon Museum one was mostly samplers, but they had a large book dealer. I enjoyed both shows immensely, but they were also quite intimidating. I'm not sure I'd ever show my work. The closest I came was when Needlewoman East showed some of their customers' work for an Open House and my "Winter Rose" hung on their wall.

How has your stitching evolved since you first started stitching?

I'm not as afraid of evenweave/linen fabrics as I used to be. I still tend to do older patterns by designers so I can dodge the worst of blended colors and beading/metallics. I still shy away from the specialty stitches, which is a pity because I like a lot of samplers. The only non-cross-stitch stuff I've dabbled in is blackwork. I'd like to do a full project in that sometime.


I'm taking over...

Good heavens, someone is posting here again. Please don't keel over in shock. After a long drought, I'm slowly getting back into needlework at full steam. I have been doing needlework since the last entry, but they've mostly been smaller pieces. I desperately need to update my finished projects page with new scans/pictures.

I started this page to chronicle my headaches on Teresa Wentzler's "Romeo & Juliet". Hopefully those posts will return when I get back to that piece.

Until then, I'm going to turn this blog into my regular needlework blog with comments on the projects I'm working on. I'll also be answering the Stitching Blogger's Questions, both old and new, because I like the topics they've raised so far.