[UPDATE: A pile more patterns have been added to the Knitting Patterns page (Button above).]
Yes, I’m still porting old site content over here, but to reassure my embroidery audience, my massive green sampler is still in the works. With the quickie book covers out of the way, I’ve turned back to it:
The pulled background fill does go slowly, but progress is being made. You’re looking at about half of the strip. The large downward pointing clump of lettuce at the left is actually the center. So I’ll be working on this one for a while.
Extra bonus: See that dangling thread? That’s how I end off without adding more knots, or adding bulk that obscures the drawn mesh effect. I take several running stitches down the center of an area that will be tightly overworked. Then after I do that stitching and the loose end is captured, I snip it close to the work. Starting a new thread is done in the same way.
Extra extra bonus: If you click to zoom on the photo, you’ll see a little arrow pointing out a mistake. I’ll be ripping that little bit out. My work isn’t perfect, just proofread.
[NEWS FLASH: Kombu Scarf, Justin's Counterpane and Mountain Laurel Counterpane patterns have been ported over. All are under the "Knitting Patterns" button above.]
The embroidered notebooks are finished and ready to send off to the recipient:
Each one took a bit over two weeks to finish out. The stitched area is approximately 5.3” x 8.25”, made to slipcover a standard 5”x 4” pocket journal style notebook (Moleskine is the most well known brand, but these were “work alikes” I found in Staples). Before you ask – they’re the same front and back – completely stitched.
Thanks to everyone who sent encouragement on the port. The first three knitting patterns I reformat and post will be the Mountain Laurel blanket, Justin’s Octagon Blanket and the Kids’ Faux Chain Mail. I wish it were an instant process, but a bit of redrafting is in order. I’ll have all up ASAP.
Also thanks to the folks at Craftgossip.com who picked up the folded ribbon trim method I used on the Steampunk dress. If you’ve found String due to their link, welcome! I’ve got a lot more to show you.
Wondering what we’ve been up to?
Well… You’re looking at it.
After a good run, we’ve closed down wiseNeedle. Sustaining it was no longer possible. I’ll be rescuing the patterns and most of the articles from it, and reposting them here over time. And the yarn review collection will become part of the data trove at (as yet stealthy) Nimblestix. They’re still in Beta, but if you log on with “wiseneedle” after your user name, you’ll get a priority spot in their admission queue.
All String content is here. There will be some inevitable cleaning up as we settle into a new set of internal links. Most but not all links here from external sites should work. We’ll try to fix as many of the broken ones as we can. In the mean time, please take advantage of the much-improved category index and search features.
What have I been stitching?
On our trip to India and on our vacation at Cape Cod I busied myself with small, hand-held stitching projects: two quick book covers for small pocket sized appointment/jotting notebooks.
The finished book cover is adapted from two patterns that will be included in TNCM2. The one in process is a multicolor rendition of a filling in Ensamplario Atlantio, with a twist edging adapted from a larger design, also in TNCM2.
So. Be welcome! Let me know what you think of this new site and about what parts of wiseNeedle should be at the top of my rescue-me queue.
This is new for me. I’ve had projects that spanned years (decades, even), but never before have I had one embroidery project that I worked on without stopping, that has taken more than a year. Even my blackwork underskirt was done in 10 months. But as of mid December, I have now spent an entire year working on my big blackwork sampler. I’m not quite done. Almost, but not quite:
You can see that I’m filling in the area to the left of the dragon. I’ve finished the first dark band, and am now on a lighter one just above it. Two more to go, balancing the progression of shade values on the dragon’s right. Then it’s a sliver of the voided leaf panel at the top of the work, to finish that off even with the edge of the strips below. And finally – I will sign the piece in the strip beneath the dark panel on the leftmost edge. And it will be done. Maybe two more weeks? More if work deadlines intrude.
Here’s a close-up of the latest two strips:
The sharp-eyed will note that the voided one on the bottom is included in TNCM, on Plate 28:4. It’s from Jean Troveon’s Patrons de diuerse manieres…, published in Lyon in 1533. Those of long memory may remember that I’ve used it before. It’s doubled, and appears on the left and right-most edges of my filet crochet dragon window curtain.
The Troveon’s original is shown single width, but the halved fleur-de-lys motifs seemed to beg use as an all-over pattern. Also, the graph of the original is shown in reverse of mine color placement, with the foreground emphasized rather than the background, more like the treatment in the crocheted piece. (Come to think of it, that knot strip along the top of the curtain might be a candidate for the dark strip at the top of my current sampler section. Hmmm….)
The lighter strip I’m currently working on will be in TNCM2. It’s adapted from a non-graphed (but oh-so-obviously-intended-to-be) design in Ostaus’ La Vera Perfezione del Disegno…, Venice, 1561 and 1567. I’ve chosen to augment it here with the frilly edge treatment.
In any case, the holidays have departed here at String. The tree is undecorated, the cookies, panforte, goose, cassoulet, and other goodies have been consumed or distributed. And the long slog through the year commences.
At long last, and as promised. Ensamplario Atlantio: Being a Collection of Filling Patterns Suitable for Blackwork Embroidery is here in PDF format!
I have to admit that my ambition ran away with me. The entire thing is 40 pages long, with 35 plates of designs – over 220 or so individual all-over or filling patterns for double running stitch embroidery. Some are very large repeats and would be better suited for free-use, others are smaller in scale and would work well as fillings in traditional outline/infilled blackwork (like on the pix of the cover, below):
The book ended up being SO large that I was unable to upload it, and downloading would be problematic for most people. So I have cut it up into four parts:
- Ensamplario-1.pdf (2.03 MB)
- Ensamplario-2.pdf (2.92 MB)
- Ensamplario-3.pdf (3.19 MB)
- Ensamplario-4.pdf (3.21 MB)
I would dearly love to see any projects that use fillings from the collection. Since I’m making this available as a free download, seeing what my pattern “children” are up to in the real world is my biggest reward.
And also a reminder – just because this is being made available freely doesn’t mean that I have relinquished my author’s rights. This book may not be re-issued, re-posted, or sold by others without my specific permission. I ask that needlework instructors wishing to use the thing get in touch with me so I can keep a log of by whom/when the book has been circulated.
I’m still trying to work up my favorite mode of double running graphing. I’ve pretty much dismissed all of the dedicated charting programs. They don’t allow the dot/stitch metaphor that I find far easier to stitch from than heavy lines superimposed on a background lighter grid.
Again, here’s that jester snippet from TNCM. I find this clear enough to stitch direct from the thumbnail, even at its tiny size/poor resolution.
It’s small, but it’s clear. The lines are stitches, the dots represent the “holes” in the cloth being stitched. In something like Aida, Hardanger or Fiddlers Cloth, each dot is an actual hole in the weave. If one is using plain weave linen, each dot corresponds to the interstices between each two (or three, or more) threads over which the stitches are taken.
Here’s the same pattern, graphed out in one of the stitching programs (click on this, to see it better than it is shown in the thumbnail):
Yes, there are some aids built into the stitching program, like decimal bars on the graphs (every 10th bar indicated), and stitch counts along the margins, but those can be added to my style of illustration.
My main beef with ALL of the stitch graphing programs is that they treat back stitch, double running or other straight stitches as an afterthought. Sometimes the back/double running notation can’t be easily mirrored or manipulated (as in KG-Chart LE, which I used for the bit above). In others it always appears as an undifferentiated or symbol-represented line, with no indication of individual stitches. And in all of these programs, scale is limited. They’ve been invented for folk who stitch at larger gauges than I favor. My 18 stitches per inch (36 count linen) is a bit smaller than the 7, 10 or 12 stitches per inch many modern stitchers favor. Patterns plot out waaay too large for easy display or reproduction on book size pages. So far I’ve taken the demos of quite a few of the dedicated stitching programs for a test drive. To date I’ve tried and discarded PCStitch 9; WinStitch, SitchR-XP, DigiStitch, KG-Chart, Easy Cross, Easy Grapher Pro, STOIK Stitch Creator, and Cross Stitch Professional. I will say though that most of them do a fine job at turning photos or drawings into cross stitch. (I am a bit frustrated with programs that allow very limited trial periods. I work. Lots. My hobby investigations take place over months, not days. I would have liked to have gone back and re-tried some of the earlier programs I encountered later on, but was unable to do so because my 3-day trial had expired. Their loss, not mine).
Now I’ve turned to general purpose graphics programs. I need one that lets the user manipulate grid density and representation, that allows mirroring and rotation, and grid-constrained line drawing. Ideally I want one that allows either patterned lines, or that allows some sort of logic-based display controls (black pixel overlaid with white pixel = white pixel as displayed; black pixel overlaid with black pixel = black pixel as displayed; white pixel overlaid with black pixel = black pixel – you get the idea).
I’m not quite at the optimal yet. But I’m getting close. I did the bit below using GIMP – a general purpose open source graphics manipulation tool. Elder daughter (the one jumping up and down, waving madly over there in her dorm room) gave some vital assistance with layer manipulation and masking. Here’s the result (click on this one too):
I’m not quite happy with the dots/voids. I find my original method from TNCM much easier to parse out visually than I do the new version, with dots in the center of each void. But that may be just me.
I’m going to soldier on, looking for something – anything – that can get close to my original. For the record, that was done on my long gone Mac IIcx using Aldus Superpaint. A program that has no direct cognate today.
All advice/leads on possibles are gratefully accepted. In fact, if someone manages to put me onto an effective solution to produce the look in the first snippet above using Windows software, and I end up using their method for my next book, I will reward them with a highly suitable stitching related gift.
16. Black strip pattern. From page 57 of Louisa Pesel’s Historical Designs for Embroidery, but I worked it outlined and voided instead of foreground stitched.
The patterns I tested on this piece will probably make their way into a sequel to TNCM – once I find a graphing program capable of handling double running stitch with ease, and that can chart out giant repeats at a small, but useful gauge. I want to be able to present largest of these patterns on a single page, and to do it using a background dots and voided line style of presentation which I came up with for use in TNCM, and which I find much easier to follow than regular dark line on background graph paper charts:
What’s next? I’m not sure. I’m certainly not stitched out. I’d like to do another big sampler to try out more patterns, but I haven’t decided on its size or form yet. There’s also the possibility of a set of matched but not matched napkins – six all using the same colors, but all different. There’s also a pile of holiday knitting to achieve between now and the end of the year. Rest assured – I won’t be idle.
A look at how far I’ve gotten on this last strip, sans frame:
I still think a narrow dark black strip is needed below this panel to establish a visual border along the bottom edge. After that the only stitching left is to fill in some small doodles at the motto’s line ends where my text didn’t span horizon to horizon. And to finish off the thing I need to edge out the piece with mitered fabric strips (sort of a self-matting made from cloth), and figure out whether to frame or rod-suspend the final piece. I’ve been working on this now since the first week of December, averaging between 30 and 45 minutes per day. Not particularly fast, but about what I thought it would take when I embarked on my project.
To answer my far-flung offspring – What’s next? Not sure. I owe a ton of holiday socks, so I may take a knitting interlude. But I haven’t broken the stitch itch yet, and will probably start another randomly executed band sampler, although I haven’t decided it it should include a saying, some alphabets, or be just another collection of patterns I’m auditioning for future publication.
Another possibility is the immense dragon from my favorite source (seen at the left of center in the photo). I’ve already begun charting it up. It’s gigantic. Just the little pepper shaped blossom object at the lower right spans more than 40 stitches. Given that few people appear to be interested in this stitching style at the level of complexity that fascinates me, I’m not sure if a multi-page dragon graph would be of use to anyone else. Still, I might do it just for the fun of just doing it. We’ll see.
Evidence of progress on my penultimate (possibly ultimate) strawberry panel, way down at the bottom of my Clarke’s Law sampler:
A strip this wide with a voided filling does take a bit of time to complete. Still, I’m chugging along, about a quarter of the way through, perhaps a bit more. And I’m thinking on what to do next. I do owe a ton of holiday socks that need to be knit between now and the end of the year. But I’m just not engaged to produce socks right now. What I want to do is to keep stitching. It’s always a bittersweet moment when a project is within sight of the end. There’s impatience to be done with it and be on to the next. There’s indecision about the direction of the next work. And there’s dissatisfaction with and pride in the current piece mixed 50/50. I can see what I’d have done differently on this one, and I can also point to bits that turned out even better than I expected.
In the mean time, I hope someone got use out of the three part tutorial on stitching logic. Here are recap direct links to all of the posts:
I also took an earlier and less organized stab at the subject here:
I’m still working on the accreted section post, but I’ll hop in to answer my own questions from my last note.
First, here’s progress to date on the current strip.
The baseline anomaly in this one may be easier to spot now. If you click on the image above and look closely you’ll see that the pattern is composed of two identical sections that never meet. There’s a void that runs through the entire longitudinal stem. Therefore since the upper and lower sections are totally separate, there are TWO baselines in this one, an upper and a lower one. Here’s a suggested baseline for the upper section:
And the baseline for the lower section:
Sneaky to be sure. But the sneakiness is my fault based on a misinterpretation of the sources I had available.
This pattern is graphed out in TNCM as my (early) interpretation of the center-most design in the lower section of the ultra famous Jane Bostocke sampler in the V&A. At the time I did this I was working from a tiny 2″ square photo in a book, and did not have the luxury of the magnificent photos now available on line. I did the best I could under the circumstances, fudging the little violets in the center somewhat, missing the ornament running down the center of the main vine (which may or may not connect the top and bottom halves of the pattern) and missing the true nature of what looks to be mulberries between the strawberries in my piece. In the original they’re more like little spiral tendrils. I’ve also missed a couple of other fruits/leaves branching from the main line. If I were to re-issue this design now I’d play up “inspired by” in my description. Still even with my clumsy amendations, the pattern is recognizable as a scion of the Bostocke design. Or perhaps not since no one identified it over the past week.