It’s done. All 80+ gears, each with a different filling pattern, worked with well-aged “Art Silk” (probably rayon) purchased for a single rupee per skein in India, on 30-count linen. The soot sprites (little black fuzzy creatures) playing the part of “Trifles” are in discontinued DMC linen floss, so that they contrast shaggy and matte against the brighter, smoother silky stuff. I’ve also attached some real, brass gears as embellishments, to add extra Steampunk flavor.
Here’s a close-up of the sprites in process, adapted from the little soot creatures in the movie Spirited Away.
To stitch them I worked totally off count. (Yes, I can do that, too). I outlined the eyes in split stitch using one strand of floss, and placed the eyes’ pupils, using French knots. Then I worked long and short stitch, encroaching on the split stitch eye frames, to get that spiky, unkempt, hairy texture. The arms and legs are close-worked chain with two strands, with the little toes and fingers (what of them there are) also in split stitch, but with two strands. The gears are filled in using (mostly) double running, with some departures into “wandering running” using two strands of the very fine art silk floss; and outlined in chain stitch using three strands of the stuff. All threads used were waxed using real beeswax, for manageability.
I am happy to say I’ve hit all of the specific design requests. And there were many:
- A good motto
- Steampunk (the gear theme)
- Something Whovian (the Daleks)
- Octopodes (dancing in one of the fills)
- Snails (ditto)
- Unicorns and/or dragons (ditto, and the winged, serpent tailed, beaky thing is good enough)
- Anime (the soot sprites)
- Interlaces (also inhabiting the gears)
- Autumn colors (brown, gold, russet, silver)
- Something from India (the thread itself)
The saying itself is particularly suitable for the target Daughter. It’s one of Mushashi’s Nine Precepts. The Daleks are from a graph by Amy Schilling, intended for knitting. The narrow border is in my forthcoming book, The Second Carolingian Modelbook. I found all of the alphabets used (there are four) in Ramzi’s Sajou collection. The gear shapes are adapted from a freehand tracing of a commercial airbrush stencil by Artool. Most of the gear fills can be found in Ensamplario Atlantio. The few that aren’t from that source are recent doodles, and will be made available in time, either as a fifth segment of that work, or perhaps as their own stand-alone sequel. Ensamplario Secundo, anyone?
Now Younger Daughter doesn’t head off to school until next fall, so I have about a year to add hanging tabs, or back the piece with contrasting fabric to make a scroll-like presentation. So while the stitching is complete, this piece may revisit String when I decide what the display treatment will be.
On to the next. I’ve got two more original stitched pieces in queue, with only a general idea of what each one will be, and what styles/designs/colors I’ll use. Free-fall stitching! Gotta love the adventure!
After lots of happy chugging along, as you can see Trifles is nearing completion.
I’ve got only eight more gears to finish up, including the two in process now. Then come a couple of “Trifles,” modeled on the little soot demons from Spirited Away, another special request from the target recipient. The hapless little things will be prisoners in the mechanism.
Finally, if there’s room and it looks good, I plan to add some brass watch gears for extra Steampunk flavor.
To answer questions, no – I am not planning this in advance. I choose the fill and color as each new gear presents itself. I chose to use four colors as a nod to the (rarely used) four color theorem, which states that any contiguous plane map can be colored in using only four colors, and have no two regions of the same color touching each other. In my case as a non-mathematician, this was done on a lark, and adds geeky joy.
I do admit that a little logical thinking has been used to select the optimal color for each gear, in a “If I make this one brown, then this one will have to be gold, and that one must be maroon,” sort of way. But again I haven’t sat down and plotted my plan of attack, other than to make the juncture point where I finish adding gears around the motto be the narrowest point of the sampler, to simplify any color meet-up issues.
On fills, I’ve tried to mix up densities and shapes, to achieve as much contrast as possible. So fills based on interlaces abut fills with isolated spot motifs, which bump up against all-over small geometrics, which in turn are next to line-based fills with few or no closed shapes. I’ve had a lot of fun paging through Ensamplario Atlantio looking for the best choice for each gear. And I’ve ended up doodling a few more, just for fun. Here are a couple:
The rather annoyed unicorn is an adaptation of a motif from the open source pattern group exercise I hosted here back in 2010/2011. I have to say that doodling these is addictive. Just playing around, I’ve put together twenty more design squares, including those I collected from the Victoria and Albert Museum smock, item T.113-188-1997. I could easily do dozens more. Now comes a question, with T2CM now finished and awaiting only resolution of logistical and publication issues prior to general availability, do I release the new group as a fifth section of Ensamplario Atlantio, or do I go on and start on Ensamplario Secundo?
You know you’ve hit full stride in a project when you think of what to write in a progress post, but have no new challenges, discoveries, tricks, or lessons-learned to report. All I can do today is show off more gears and cams, with more fillings:
I’m continuing up the left side of the motto, then I’ll do the right side, and finish with the top. I’m having tons of fun selecting fill patterns from Ensamplario Atlantio.
I had hoped that when I released the thing I’d see more things on line that use its designs, but searching does turn up a few projects:
- Ben from Tiny Dream Stitchery is doing a sweet sampler, I really like the layout he’s using. It’s reminiscent of a formal Renaissance garden plan.
- Whispered Stitch is making adorable little needlebooks using motifs from the patterns, and offers a tutorial on their construction.
- And Stitches used the patterns in her rendition of a large group stitch-along project.
- Rebecca of Hugs are Fun did a name sampler, a striking and innovative idea for using the fills.
- Kathy at Unbroken Thread stitched up a spectacular piece, incorporating gold, paillettes, purl, and beads.
- Miriam did a bunch of nifty key fobs, using EnsAtl patterns along with ones from other sources.
- Colorize also has a sampler. She’s picked some of the more complex designs, brave soul!
- Susan at Tuesday Stitchers used a design in a large departure from the usual, as an embellishment stitch done on gingham in a crazy quilt. Very cool!
If you know of any others, please post them in the comments. It gives me immense joy to see the mischief that these designs get up to out there in the wide, wide world.
Sadly, I’ve also found a ton of pirate sites on line, mostly in Russia, who felt it necessary to steal the book and repost it in its entirety. I can’t do anything about them besides despise the lack of integrity and gutter slime ethics that such theft represents.
The ONLY authorized source for the book is right here on this site. It’s free. Link above, and under the Books tab on every page of String. If you have downloaded my book anywhere else, you have found a stolen copy.
As you can see, Trifles is coming along. I’ve just about finished the first set of gears:
The next bit to do will be the two sides, proceeding left and right of the established bit, growing up to frame the motto. I’ll use the same stencil for my basic layout, rotating and flipping it to make the repetition less evident.
A couple of you have written to me to say that you find the gears rather disappointing – that they are not sharp and mechanical enough. In fact, the edges of some of them are more gentle, cam shaped rather than toothed, and the teeth do not mesh exactly.
Frankly, I don’t find this a problem, and I don’t care. The thing will be more representational than mechanistic. I’m going for the idea of gears here, not a CADD drawing.
I am having fun flipping through Ensamplario Atlantio looking for which fill to do next. Everything you see here has been done ad-hoc, one gear at a time, with no pre-planning on what design/color to use next. I’ve used four-color placement principles to avoid having two gears of the same color right next to each other. I’ve also tried to achieve a nice mix of densities and shapes, with contrast between horizontal/vertical and diagonal elements, all-overs/spaced spot motifs, and between straight lines/curvy patterns. On the whole I’m pleased. I’ll add more dark and density to the lower left, next. Also more gold there in that corner.
Stay tuned for further developments!
[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.
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.