Thursday, June 14, 2018

TUSAL June 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.     

Even though I took pictures on the correct day, I’m late posting this month’s TUSAL – last night I just *had* to stitch rather than crop pictures and type and edit.  The Silly Stitching Calendar says I had 21 stitching days since TUSAL check in.  And all the orts (again) are from working on Jane Turner.

I’ve hit bottom!

See that last blue line, the short one in the center?  That’s the very bottom of Jane!  Here, take a closer look.

It's hard to settle down and stitch, I'm so excited!

To bring you up to date, since my May Ort Report, I’ve finished the wide Montenegrin band …

… and the reprise of the narrow Montenegrin band.

I’ve learned how to do marking cross stitch – a reversible stitch (when done properly, that is) that I believe got its name because it was used to mark the household linens.  The instructions said the stitch can be worked from any of the four sides, but I wanted to insisted on making sure the top of the Xs would ALL go in the same direction - between the top left and bottom right corners (the way my plain vanilla cross stitches do).  I’m going to say that's the reason I’m having difficulty making the letters completely reversible.

Not too bad.  And I'm getting better.  But when you look at the back, it’s pretty clear my stitching would not have been good enough to mark those sheets and things!

Happy stitching, everybody – thanks for visiting today!


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

TUSAL May 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.    

Jane Turner is the only project I’ve worked on this month and the Silly Stitching Calendar says I had 21 (!) stitching days since TUSAL check in.

Still working on the wide Montenegrin stitch band, and would probably have finished it by now if it weren’t for those diagonal parts which have continued to give trouble.  But ALL the Montenegrin stitching in this band is complete - there’s some filling yet to be done on the flowers and leaf on the right and also that knot motif and inside the long green double line, but should be able to finish it up by the end of the week (I hope, I hope).  

I think the knot in the center is pretty neat.

The middle portion was rather cool all by itself too.

The entire band so far (and yes, I've continued to make adjustments to satisfy my obsession with desire for symmetry):

It’s finally springtime here!  Apparently things were just waiting for a bit of warmth – flowers and trees and have just exploded open.   And the hostas – yikes!  They always surprise me by how fast they grow – sometimes I think they get taller while I watch. 

Happy stitching, everybody – I’m so glad you stopped by today!


Monday, April 16, 2018

TUSAL April 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of leftover thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.    

The Silly Stitching Calendar says I had 25 stitching days since TUSAL check in time last month.  I’m pretty sure that’s a new high count since I’ve joined the TUSAL fun, and I’m certain my March monthly total of stitching days – 28!! – is also a new high - woohooo! 

Once again, Jane Turner has provided all the orts for this check-in.  And yes, that ort pile has a fair amount of the telltale, short-fuzzy-twisted bits that show the frog spent several days in my stitching bag, and required me to rip out the lower right side blue flower.  Twice.  (er … maybe it only counts as once since I ripped out about half of it two different times?  I dunno.)

The bottom center will have an almost-Celtic knot which I was just about ready to start when I decided a long run of stitches with only a few turns was in order and so shifted over to the lower line of that double green ribbon-like bit.  It looked really good to me last night, but seeing the picture, I notice that the diagonal portion at the bottom is different from the one at the top – narrower space between, and it seems like the angle itself is different (how the heck can that be? 45 degrees should be 45 degrees ... right?).

Ugh, why do things like that hide when you’re stitching, but scream out their presence once you take a picture?  Or maybe you don’t have that problem.

Perhaps this new moon will herald real, actual springtime for the northern hemisphere.

Happy stitching,all – thanks for stopping by today!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Not the flower... explanatory detail

While working on the Montenegrin bands these past several weeks, I've learned how to see and count the stitches.  But even though you all are my stitchy friends, you're not really sitting with me and chatting while we all work on our projects, are you?  So I thought it might be helpful to post a marked-up and more detailed picture about the flower the frog decided to make his home in.  I do not have the control over my current version of PSP as the one I had years ago, but hopefully the bright colors will work.  I also cropped out the middle of the photo so it would be easier to compare the two flowers.

The bright green - though sloppy - arrows point to the first line that I stitched on the right side flower and the corresponding line on the left (correct!) one.  The pinkish-purple lines are drawn on top of the vertical stitch (uh ... well, it would be vertical if the line of stitching were running left to right ... in this section it's actually horizontal, isn't it?) that is what I count to know how many stitches I've done.

Ugh - I have no clue if there's special terminology for Montenegrin stitch, but I think there ought to be! 

Anyway, if you were to count the pinkish-purple lines,  you'd see there are 13 in the flower on the left and 14 in the one on the right - the reason for my angsting last evening.

But (yay!) I was able to snipsnipsnip the stuff that was in the wrong place and then unstitch about half an inch of thread on each side of the lower part that had to be removed  - yay!  Maybe I'll boot out that frog and be able to finish this flower after all!

Hope all your stitching this week goes forwards!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

This is not the flower you’re looking for

Out darned frog, out I say! 

Okay, clearly I’m guilty of extreme quote mixing, but I believe it’s warranted.  If you look carefully at the light thread that’s runs between the two dark blue motifs, you’ll see that the flower on the right is NOT right – the far right vertical (which is where I started) is one stitch too long, putting the bottom … section … piece … thingy one stitch too low.  At least the upper portion is okay.

Argh.  (I used to have a .gif of a stick-figure guy bashing his head on his desk but seem to have lost it - please imagine that here)

I’ve already snipped this flower out once because the entire thing was too low.  Not ripping the whole thing out again, nope, nuh-uh.  At least I hope I can just remove that bottom bit!  Sigh.

Hope your week is free of amphibian infestation!


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Small tip

Wanted to share a quick little tip with you.  If you wind your DMC floss on those plastic bobbins, then you probably already have the winder tool.  What a marvelous thing – so much faster than winding those bobbins by hand. 

But not perfect.

The small peg that holds the bobbin in place is made of the same hard plastic as the winder and (for me at least) works best with the paper/cardboard bobbins.  But I want the durability of the plastic bobbins.

Over the years, I’ve tried a bunch of things to either snug up or take the place of the peg, most often stuffing a piece of paper in the hole with it so the peg doesn’t fall out after three or four turns.  Some plastic bobbins are thicker than others and I’ve had ones that barely fit into the slot – the peg was unusable with those as the holes did not align perfectly and then I used a piece of copper wire snipped out of a bit of leftover romex.

Having quite a bit of floss to wind right now (will explain that below), I was once again mentally grousing that the peg has no give and then inspiration struck.  Years ago, a friend suggested using knitting needle point protectors on the tip of my embroidery scissors to protect both my fingers and the scissor points and at some point I’d bought a package of them.

Ta-dah!  A softer, friendlier peg!

And why am I winding all this floss?  Some of you might remember that Wonderful Husband gifted me with an incredibly scary amazing chart of the Unicorn in Captivity tapestry for Christmas. 

I took advantage of a great sale at my favorite online needlework shop to get fabric for the unicorn.  And since I expect this project to take approximately forever, it seemed wise to just go ahead and get new DMC, so have been using coupons at Michael’s and JoAnn’s to accumulate all 119 colors in the design.  Eeek!

The other day, Wonderful Husband asked me what I’d like for my birthday.  And being mindful that the size of the Unicorn is 285 x 404 and is solidly stitched (eeek again!), I thought perhaps something smaller would be a better first for a solidly stitched piece.  So I suggested this, which is a detail from the Cluny tapestry known as  À Mon Seul Désir. 

(image from Scarlet Quince website)

Hey, it’s only 123 x 274 stitches.  And has only 109 colors of DMC. 

Yes, I probably am crazy.

Hope you had a lovely weekend!


Saturday, March 17, 2018

TUSAL March 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.    

I’m happy that the Silly Stitching Calendar says I had 19 stitching days since last month’s TUSAL check in.  In that time, I’ve finished Band 13 of Jane Turner and made a good start on Band 14 while collecting a pleasing little pile of orts. 

Thought I was going to stitch the large green line/band first so I could use it as a reference for where the flowers go.  Uh, nope.  Turns out I needed to stitch flowers to know where the green band goes.  Maybe Jane and her 17th century friends and fellow students didn’t get confused by Montenegrin stitch - applause for them! - but I find it especially befuddling when it’s on the diagonal.

Since I’ve already made some intentional changes in the stitching, I gave in to my compulsion desire for balance and symmetry and made that lower dark blue flower the same on both sides/halves. 

Looks like I have a couple of new followers - welcome, I'm glad you're here!

Hope everyone's weekend is starting off well and you have lots of lovely sunshine.  And that your snow is melting!  Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, March 11, 2018

To frog or not to frog

Turning corners with Montenegrin stitch is … complicated?  Confusing?  Uses a heck of a lot of thread?  Yes, yes, and yes.  Also not a good place to begin stitching a motif.

Have been working on a flower in the wide Montenegrin band, and the farther along I got with it, the less happy I was with how the first part of it looked – my corners were messy!

So I kept going, trying to figure out how to make those turns look better, and pulling the thread a bit seemed to help and I was able to make the corners more square.  Okay, so I’ll go back and redo that first bit.   Cut the thread in the middle and … uh oh.  I just discovered something else about Montenegrin stitch:  while removing stitches going backwards – truly reverse stitching – is doable, going *forward* is terrible!  I simply could not unstitch in that direction and felt lucky I was able to tease out about a half inch of thread tail to bury after clipping out all those first turns.

And then I stitched that bit again.

And it still looks messy.  (rats!!)

Need to make up my mind whether or not to frog and restitch that section again.  One thing though, I got LOTS of practice turning corners - there are OVER 40 right-angle turns in this flower!  (um … looks like I missed a connecting stitch – will go back and check the chart, but I’ll put it in even if it’s not charted because the asymmetry will bug me if I dont!)

Hope your weekend’s going well.  Thanks for stopping by to visit!


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Band finish!

Finished up band 13 – the first of three Montenegrin bands - last night.  The rows that go straight across at the top and bottom felt like they took approximately forever, but this band stitched up faster than any of the others.  Maybe that's because even though it's slow, Montenegrin is faster than double-running stitch with satin filling?  Must be. 

But that’s not to say it was fast compared to regular cross stitch!  Each of those blue or pinkish flowers took about half an hour.  No matter which order I stitched the bits in, it didn’t make any real difference in how long those posies took.  And no, I generally don’t time my stitching, it’s just that I noticed that after stitching for an hour, I’d only finished two of them so after that I paid attention.

I’d been worried about stitching these bottom bands since I haven’t found anyone posting about actually *finishing* Jane Turner (well, except for one person, but she was posting on the Scarlet Letter Years Gallery blog and her Jane was hung with several Scarlet Letter samplers so was mentioned only for identification).  Nobody to hold my hand, so to speak – ack!  What if I’m not doing the small Montenegrin sections the right way?  Should I go back and forth?  Stitch all the bits in one direction?  What about that that single stitch all by itself in the center of each flower, how am I supposed to do that when a full Montenegrin stitch covers two "squares"? 

But I had to dive in or never finish, and now I see there was really nothing to be worried about.  What a dork. 

Still, I’d like to see somebody else’s finish of Jane. 

Hope everyone’s been having a fine weekend.  Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Heeeeerrre’s Monty!

No, I won’t be talking about what’s behind door number three today or offering you a quick $50 to give up the contents of that box you just selected.  Instead I'd like to introduce you to the Montenegrin stitch.

Like any number of (fancy) stitches used on 17th century samplers, the Montenegrin stitch is reversible.  Before working on Jane, my experience with this stitch had been a single horizontal row used as a dividing band.  And I’m not even sure I was executing the stitch correctly (need to look at a one of my other stitch books to check on that).  Hands Across the Sea Samplers has a nice tutorial for the basic stitch HERE.

I’ve told you before about Amy Mitten’s wonderful little book and how I would be lost without it.  Jane was clearly quite adept at Montenegrin stitch and not only stitched rows that go diagonally down, across, diagonally up, and so forth, she also stitched flowers and such using it. 

So back to that reversible thing.  That indispensable little book details two different ways to make the stitch, and each way makes a different pattern the back.  So let’s start with a peek at that since I decided to do the two lines which mark the top and bottom of Band 13 first, and that I’d stitch them in the two different ways.

So even though I told you you’d seen the last of Jane’s backside months ago, I’ll flip her over for you here.

In the top (blue) row, the steps of the Montenegrin are stitched in such an order as to make a four-sided/box stitch on the back.  Cool, huh?

The other way to do the stitch is a little easier for me, guess it just feels a little more natural.  The back of this version (red row) produces a pattern that is cross stitches with vertical lines between each stitch:  X|X|X|X|X|   But because I’m using two threads on 35-count linen, it’s rather hard to see that pattern.

From the front, the two methods produce a similar stitch, though I think the sequence that makes the four-sided stitch on the back give a slightly more braided look on the front of the piece.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, February 15, 2018

TUSAL February 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.    

My orts this time are exclusively from Jane Turner. 

The Silly Stitching Calendar says I stitched only 8 days since last month’s TUSAL check in.  Yikes, that’s patethic!  Work has been especially hectic for the last month or two (and not likely to let up for at least another month) and fairly often lately I get home too tired to remember my own name - not a good condition for stitching.

But he *good* news is that I’ve finished Band 12 (yay!).  I know I’ve mentioned before that Jane’s wider, more complicated bands are bracketed by pairs of narrow bands that are essentially mirror images, and I had decided to show you that when this band was finished.  But while stitching it, I noticed that the colors on the satin stitched circle flowers in Band 12 were reversed from those in Band 10.  So that would mean that instead of being mirrored, it’s spun around 180 degrees, right?  Nope.

Band 10

Newly-finished Band 12 (I like the darker green outlining better...)

Weird, huh?  Now I’m curious about the other paired bands.

And I’ve begun Band 13 - the first, narrow Montenegrin stitch band!  Next time I hope to show you a bit of progress there, and some detailed pictures of the stitch.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tangentially related...

... to stitching, that is.

Shortly after I began working on Jane Turner, I realized that Amy Mitten’s fat little book on everything you ever might want to know about executing the Montenegrin stitch (HERE in case you’re curious about the book) was going to be a necessity as I had never stitched it as anything but a dividing line straight across a sampler.  If you follow that link, you’ll see that Amy Mitten designed a humorous pocket to store and carry the book – fun, yes?  I thought so too, but figured I didn’t need it, so couldn’t justify it (and didn’t want to have to complete that project in order to work on Jane Turner).

Now that I’m getting really close to the bands that are filled with Montenegrin, I was thinking more and more about that pocket and how something similar would keep my book in better shape than just dropping it into my stitching bag every night.

So I dug out some supplies…

… and measured and marked and made a pattern.

Then I rooted through my denim stash till I found a piece that was tough but still soft.

And then I got too tricky for my own good – something I absolutely excel at when finishing smalls or making things like this.  Wouldn’t it be much nicer if the pocket was lined?  Yes, of course!  Cut two pieces of denim …

Uh oh.  How am I going to construct it?  Well, just sew the two pieces together, turn, and then … oh wait, can’t do the pocket side seams easily that way....  Okay, sew the pocket sides together for each piece and square off the bottom corners, turn one inside out and stuff it inside the other and then … oops, that’s a LOT of hand stitching to finish it.  Seems there should be a way that I could sew the two pieces mostly together and then turn it all through an open part (I’m still pretty sure this *can* be done… but work seems to be using the entire allotment of brain power these days and I just couldn't see how it ought to be done).

But at this point I was, as we say in our house, a bear of very little brain (apologies to A. A. Milne).  Think, think, think…

All right, let’s go for the least amount of hand sewing:  sew, turn, press, fold, pin …

Sew down the sides by hand.  Ah, at least I can shape the bottom.

Now slide the book in …

… and, finished!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

TUSAL January 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and find out why we're saving our orts!    

As usual lately, all the orts are from Jane Turner. 

The Silly Stitching Calendar (yes, there’s one for 2018) says I had 11 stitching days since last month’s TUSAL check in.  Sounds like an embarrassingly small number till I remember that the December new moon was *before* Christmas and I didn’t even pick up a needle while visiting family were here for the holiday.  The 2017 version of that silly calendar reports that I stitched 171 days – not as often as I’d hoped, but not too bad.

I’m working on Band 12 now – the narrow band under the Lady Band, and an inverted version of Band 10, though with the double running stitch done in dark green.  Will show you progress on the band in a moment, but first I want to show you this motif.

I’ve now stitched that motif ten times, and I don’t think I followed the same path twice!  Certainly that wasn’t planned, it just seemed to go a bit differently each time.  

Here’s Band 12, and you can see that I have only one more of those fussy little yellow and green leaves to fill in.  That’s the last one of those in the entire sampler!  Think I’ll dance a little jig when it’s done.

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stitchy stash (yay!)

A round up post of what I stitched last year would be deadly dull (multiple bands of Jane Turner plus two starts).  And a what-I-plan-to-stitch-this-year post would be only moderately more interesting (finish Jane, finish those other two, then pick one from the three or four at the top of my list).  Showing off my new goodies seems like a good alternative.

Wonderful Husband gifted me with two good sized projects for Christmas.  Seems selecting large or long-term projects is his forte - he also chose Jane.  First he gave me the chart and silks for True Wisdom from Examplar Dames.  I’ve been wanting to try a Quaker style sampler and think this is lovely.

And then he completely surprised me.  I love the unicorn tapestries from the Middle Ages, both the Lady and the Unicorn series and the Hunt of the Unicorn.  Our very first Christmas together, he surprised me with this - he built the frame and gave it to me ready to hang, and it's been on the wall in our home ever since.  He had planned to frame a similar museum show poster of the Unicorn in Captivity but never got around to it.

So what was it he surprised me with this time?  Also under the tree was a chart (um, *booklet*) of the Unicorn in Captivity from Scarlet Quince.  Who knew there was such a thing?  At 285w x 404h this is NOT small.  

And, oh yeah, it’s solid coverage - see that little grid in the lower left?  Eep!

I went through every bit of my linen stash and discovered that I had nothing large enough for either project.  Good thing the Silver Needle’s New Year’s Eve sale was coming up, right?

I had made it all the way through 2017 essentially without buying stitch stash.  I allowed myself to buy threads, but that’s all since the previous NYE sale.  Just thread.  Really.  So even though there’s virtually no chance I’ll get to them this year, I did order a couple of charts. 

I got fabric for both of the very large projects – 40 count for True Wisdom and 36 count for the unicorn.


The impossible-to-resist, just had-to-have-‘em charts.

And of course I had to buy more threads.  One each of all the new DMC colors…

… plus another card of my favorite GAST green (forest glade), and a few other overdyed cottons because they looked so pretty.

I will now return to my regularly-scheduled stitching of Jane Turner.  

Thanks for stopping by!