Happy Groundhog Day 2017

by brae  

According to legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow on this day, there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he doesn't, then there will be an early spring.  Since it's a bright sunny morning here, I am distracting Woodrow with cake!  :D  Happy Groundhog Day!

The results are in...

by brae  

Ye Olde Taxidermist has won an Honorable Mention in the 2016 HBS Creatin' Contest!  :D

It's a great honor to have my work recognized.  A huge thank you to HBS!

For the full recap post on Ye Olde Taxidermist, click here.

You can see the winners and remaining entries posted here.  Congratulations to all on your creativity and hard work!  :D  Now on to this year's contest kit -- not sure if I will enter, but there's plenty of time to mull over my ideas.

The Persian - printed fabric

by brae  

Continuing the saga of the Persian rug.  I've used tracing paper and transfer pen drawings in the past to make stitching patterns.  Considering the intricacy of the Persian pattern, I didn't think I would be able to map all of the fine details without spending countless hours.  Plus, the transfer pen is only so fine for small details.  Instead, I opted to print the existing pattern directly on fabric.

I scanned the pattern from the book on a high DPI setting and then copied the quadrant in PhotoShop to make a whole chart image.  I edited the image for contrast, brightness, hue and saturation to make a very pale version.  After resizing in Word, I printed a facsimile of the rug measuring approximately 8" x 4 3/8".  This seemed a bit tight to me considering the fine details of the chart versus knot size, so I printed a second version at 8.5" x 5 3/8". Using this method, you can make the rug a custom size without being limited by thread count of your fabric.  This will be a large rug, but lovely.  :D

I've printed on fabric in the past with mixed results.  In this instance, it doesn't much matter if the color is true or vibrant since my threads will provide the final color and texture.  I recently helped a family friend with a fabric printing project, and she gave me the leftovers.  This is the particular brand of printable fabric I will use for this project.

After printing on the finest settings, I let it dry completely.  Here it is before removing the paper backing.

Per the instructions, I ran the fabric under water.  Ink residue discoloring my stitching over time would be bad, bad, bad.  I sped up the drying process with a hairdryer.  There's a hint of the grid in the whiter areas and even the color areas are boxy from the chart image.

It's a faint pattern but good enough to follow, and for me, a lot easier than trying to focus on counting silk gauze.  I'll also have the original chart to follow along.  Using the Bees and Trees rug as a guide, this rug should top out around 210 hours of stitching time. The advantages are the precise replication of the original design and the fact that the colors are printed in place, so I can keep better track of which colors to use where.  I'm not following the grid here, but it will help in the center portion where there are vines.

Since the printer fabric measures 8.5 x 11", I sewed on scrap fabric to mount the print in the Morgan 12" No-Slip Hoop.  It has a groove in the middle that keeps the hoop from coming apart until you loosen the wingnut.  (My review here.)  I use this hoop with the Baby Z Lap Frame.  I have a clip-on LED and can use my standard 3.5X magnifying readers for needlework.  :]

The Persian - colors and trials

by brae  

There are nine colors listed on the original Persian chart, but I have added a few additional colors to bring my total to thirteen.

I have a piece of 40 count silk gauze to test out the knots.  I'll be coming up through the fabric, making the knot, and going back through the fabric at a diagonal.  So, like a half cross-stitch, but with a knot.  I'll be wearing 4X magnification readers and using a clip-on LED as needed.

Silk gauze is hard on thread, so you have to use shorter lengths and try to pull straight to minimize the wear and tear on the thread.  So far so good as far as texture goes.  The challenge is making sure you are in the right spot.  The knots provide excellent coverage, so it's easy to be one hole over from where you need to be -- that is where the time-consuming part comes in.

It might seem daft, but I wondered if I should stitch in blocks, one row at a time alternating colors as I go instead of doing one color at a time and filling in around that color and so on. It would minimize the risk of losing count and dropping stitches.  I gave that a try as well, and it seemed to work a little better for me.  I was able to count and keep track better.  I guess there is no "wrong" way to accomplish something if it suits the way you like to work.

Honestly, I don't think this technique is going to work for me.  I spend so much time figuring out if I am in the right spot or skipping stitches that I might as well draw it on muslin and just fill in French knots freehand.  It might not go faster, but it would be less stressful.

I could still do cross-stitch or half-cross stitch on the silk gauze.  The main reason I haven't done true petitpoint is that I'm not comfortable working on anything higher than 40-42 count, and with the way I stitch, my pieces are still sheer and look bare in spots using single strand.  It doesn't look bad until you put it up to the light and it's sheer through the stitches.

In double strand, it can get bulky.  :\

I will think on it some more, but I am now leaning toward French knots on muslin.  I love the French knot texture.  I just can't see the silk gauze well enough to use it for this technique.  I'm prone to migraines, and I have to stare and concentrate too much because of the sheerness of the material.

Baskets o' Echeveria

by brae  

Nancy Enge has been up to crafting lately and doing a fine job of it.  :]  She's been making succulent and basket kits for her etsy shop.  I ordered up a basket kit and the EC01 Echeveria kit with hand-colored leaves.

You can tell a good designer from the overall presentation.

Could I have colored the leaves myself? Maybe. Would they have turned out this well? Nope. Well, not without a lot of swearing.

The baskets come with liners, and I will likely make them up like the brown ones on her blog.  I haven't planned a specific time for assembly, but I didn't want to miss out on the kits!  :D

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