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

Haunted Heritage photo book

by brae  

I've listed a new item in my etsy shop.  It's a full sized 8" x 8" hardcover book featuring photographs of the Haunted Heritage built and photographed by me.

It has 20 pages of full color photographs showing the exterior and each interior room as well as a bonus image from a Halloween scene done after completion. I have signed the book as well. :]

Watson Mill - sails, part 3

by brae  

Continuing work on the windmill sails.  I've done some research on windmills and a fair bit of virtual sightseeing, but I am by no means an expert.  I am also not planning a precise model, though there are some remarkable works out there.  The first one I ran into is a 1:30 scale mill kit by Amati.  The model has a hub made from wood that looks fairly straightforward for me to recreate for my own model.  I've been using an offset alignment on the mock-up hub mainly for ease of use, but I plan to have a hub setup more like the real life mills (and this Amati model).

Another fabulous resource is Penterbak, where you find many different scale models with exacting details.  It's in Dutch and google translate works only so well, but you can see from the photos alone just how much work went into these.  The hub on the windshaft here is remarkable and gives me some ideas on how to dress it up.  :]

Finally, let's learn some terminology.  There's a wealth of information in the online publication of The Dutch Windmill by Frederick Stokhuyzen, though I admit I skipped around to parts I needed.  There's also this awesome website with a video by The Yorktown Windmill Project showing how to make a common sail.  (They also have a great page on the conical roof, which I have done in miniature in the past.)

After seeing this real life example, I decided to change my design to match.  My sails won't have the gentle curve of the true sails unless the wood warps so let's hope it warps in the right direction.  :\

In the Bruce Hirst model, he used 1/8" square strip wood, but mine will have mainly 1/16" x 1/8" strip wood.  The adhesives used were Elmer's Wood Glue supplemented with super glue gel.  The Easy Cutter Ultimate was a lifesaver here.  Mom also gave me a box of 100 X-Acto blades for Christmas.  Maybe that will be enough.  haaaaa  :D

I cut four 12" lengths of 1/4" x 1/8" strip wood to make the whip (center shaft of the sail). This is longer than I will need, but I wanted extra just in case.   Instead of trying to cut holes in the whip to form mortises, I notched the pieces every 3/4" from the end.

Time to cut 44 sailbars, 11 per sail, at a length of 2.75" each.  This is more than I had in my cardboard mockup, but it should add stability.  I also cut 12 hemlaths (outer vertical strips), 3 per sail, at a length of 9" each.  Again, this is slightly longer than my mockup, but it made for easier math.

Since I was cutting by hand, there were some gaps.  I used Minwax Wood Putty in natural pine as filler.  Could I have been more precise?  Maybe, but I get in a hurry for tedious portions of a project.  Once it's all stained and aged, it will all blend in.   :D

A corresponding piece of 1/4" x 1/16" strip wood encloses the notches to make the mortises in the whip.  I cut and added the little blocks (don't know the term) that keep the sailbars uniform along the whip.  This makes me lament all the times I've discarded tiny bits of wood.  Who knew?!!  They add detailing that makes the sails seem more realistic.

This might have been a bit of overkill for a model, but I also used nails in addition to the glue.  I don't need these suckers popping apart later on down the line, and since they will be motorized it's likely worth the extra time and effort.  I did drill pilot holes so I wouldn't split the boards.

I am going to leave the final finishing as far as stain goes until after I have all the parts fabricated just in case something breaks along the line and needs to be redone.

One sail down, three more to go.  :]

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