Category Archives: Project – Embroidery

STITCHING ON THE GO

I’m moving right along on the Don’t Be sampler. The cross stitched letters zoomed by. And over the past three days I’ve gotten a good start on the border, as well. Whole piece photo so you can see the overage I’m leaving to facilitate both stitching and final framing, plus the quick hem job.

Note that my observation on the skew weave was correct. Those first couple of leaves on the return under the letters are differently proportioned than the leaves in the edge’s vertical part to the left of the motto. That will become more evident as I march along. I don’t remember exactly where I got this piece of pre-packaged ground, or how long it has sat in stash – possibly purchased, possibly as part of a supply salvage gift from a friend who passed it on to me, but certainly not recently. As it is, I will not use anything from defunct company “MCG Textiles” again. Ground sold as evenweave should be exactly that (ok, plus or minus a smidge I will forgive), but a 16% difference between the number of threads in warp and weft is flat out misrepresentation.

The corner is incomplete. I forgot to pack the correct shade of my garnet floss, so the little berries/grapes in the corner will be done later tonight. On the one green leaf, I’m still deciding whether or not to fill in all or some of the leaves. I used plain old cross stitch with one strand of DMC floss for that, flat out skipping partials, and only working full cross stitch X-units. It’s passable. It’s also tedious. When I am done with the double running I’ll make the grand decision. Every leaf, alternating leaves, or none at all.

Now. Where was I that I was working “on the go”?

We ran away to our place on Cape Cod for a last weekend before the renters descend. We went with some long time friends, so it was doubly fun. And I brought this project with me. Folk have asked before how I pack and bring projects, so here’s a thumbnail. Note that I didn’t do it perfectly this time – after all, I ran out of garnet. 🙂

First, the container. The plastic zip bag below (shown both sides) is something I saved the last time we bought a full set of queen size sheets for our bed. It’s rectangular, with an interior pocket, and a zip all the way around one end. It’s also a very tough plastic.

Here you see the main components of my travel kit – the three pieces that make up my sit-upon frame, the project itself, a zip pouch containing essentials (threads, beeswax; my third-best pair of scissors on a retractable spool and a laying tool, both attached to a beaded badge holder; my needle nose electrical assembly tweezers); a little magnetic stand/folder (with magnetic needle minder attached); and a spare in-hand hoop.

Note that the stand itself is an easy assemble/dissemble, and fits in the pouch with the project. I bring the spare hoop because it’s not always comfortable or possible to use the sit-upon, and because the sit-upon features a fixed hoop-on-stick, it’s cumbersome to use without full assembly.

When I stitch on the beach I leave the magnetic stand folded in the interior pocket of the see-through plastic pouch, with the pattern page on top. If necessary I have a place-keeping magnetic strip that can grip the board through both the plastic and the paper pattern. That way I can keep my pattern safe from dampness and wind on the beach. The supplies/tools zip stays safe in the transparent plastic bag, too, although I do either wear the beaded “chatelaine” around my neck, or clip the retractable badge holder that minds my scissors to my beach chair.

ANOTHER OPENING…

I offered to make one of my nieces a pair of socks or an embroidered bit – noting that I would be happy to stitch up any saying, no matter how profane it might be. She was amused and intrigued by the thought of naughty embroidery, padded off to think, and eventually returned with a request that I’d term more cheeky than offensive. True to my word, I’ve plunged in. The pearl-clutchers who sent me private notes decrying my lack of taste for the Covid sampler and removing themselves from following this website are no longer here, so at this point there should be few left to object.

First a method description because folk have asked how I go about starting a new piece.

I selected a piece of ground from my stash – a piece of 32 thread per inch evenweave with the branding “MCG Textiles.” Well, it claims to be 32 tpi, but it’s really 32×38, so some distortion is expected. I did this first so I knew roughly what size I was going to be designing to fit, rather than starting with the design then questing in vain for a piece of cloth of the correct dimension.

Then I and Target Recipient had a chat back and forth on the general aesthetics. We established that green was a favored color, considered overall composition choices, and looked at some candidate alphabets and strip patterns for the borders. Once we had general agreement on the direction for the piece, I set in, using my chosen computer-based drafting method – a home-grown solution based on the freeware drafting and image editing program GIMP. I offer a tutorial for that (including templates) here on String (read up from the bottom because the blogging software only allows newest at the top organization.)

This is what I came up with.

The charts below are deliberately blurred because while they are good enough for me, they would need to be cleaned up for use by others. Plus I am not sure if I want to add them to the permanent collection here. Target Recipient would have to give permission, for one.

For the record, the leaf and twist border is available in Ensamplario Atlantio II. The alphabet used for the initial caps is from Ramzi’s Patternmaker collection of pre-1920s European leaflets, Sajou #160. The body text from an older book on my shelf – Creating Historic Samplers, by Judith Grow and Elizabeth McGrail, Pine Press, Princeton, 1974. Original elements of this piece not published before include the supplemental embellishment around the words, adapted from the flowers on the initial caps, and the corner for the leaf and twist border.

The next step was to choose my colors – DMC 890 for the darker green, DMC 320 for the lighter green, and DMC 816 for the tiny flashes of garnet red.

Now we get to the fun part – setting up the cloth to begin stitching. The first thing I did was to square off the cloth. I unraveled the thing around the edges, removing all partial threads until I had a full span of both warp and weft. Then I carefully trimmed off the remaining “fringes” left from the unraveling process. I’ve written before about the poor quality control on the MCG packaged product, and this sample was no different. It was quite skew in cut and desperately needed this squaring to determine true grain and useable size. In this case, I lost about an inch of width in one direction and about a half-inch in the other. Having done that I cut the piece allowing a generous border all the way around the stitched area dimension.

Cut piece in hand, next I had to make sure it didn’t unravel further. I have to say am not a fan of taping the edges, and I’ve had equivocal results using zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to secure them. I’ve had the whole zig-zagged strip pull off. I don’t have a serger, so I stick with old fashioned hand hemming. For this small project that took about an hour to do a finger-pressed double turn hem, a little less than a quarter inch deep all the way around. I followed the ground threads as I did this, so my hems are (mostly) even. Since this will be framed or otherwise finished so that the edges won’t show I wasn’t super-exact about mitering the corners perfectly, as I would be with a handkerchief, napkin or placemat.

The last step of preparation is determining the exact center point and adding the basted orientation guides for both the vertical and horizontal center lines. I use a light color plain sewing cotton for this, and I don’t bother to make the basted stitches any particular length long (some people carefully stitch these over evenly counted blocks of the ground threads). Just having the simple lines are good enough for me. You can see them along with a bit of the hem in this work in progress shot:

Now it’s just a matter of transcribing my graphed out design to the cloth, using cross stitch for the wording. I’m using two strands of the DMC floss for maximum coverage.

When I get up to the surround I will probably switch to double running, and work the outlines and veining of the ivy leaves and twist in the dark green. I am thinking of using one of the more open fillings, diagonal, boxy, or steps, for the infilled areas, and doing them in the lighter green. We’ll see if I change my mind and do something else when I get there.

All in all I expect this one to be a relatively quick stitch. It’s not large or complicated. Here’s progress as of last night. Considering I started this on Friday night, it’s flying.

I hope this step by step on beginning a project is helpful to someone. And as ever, if you enjoy my designs, free broadsides stitch-along and books, and my published books, please post pix. Obviously I’m in this for joy, and few things make me happier than seeing my designs being worked up by others.

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 15

MAY THE FLOSS BE WITH YOU

The tribute here should be obvious. But there’s always room to insert yourself into the action, and this band is designed specifically for that. Obviously, the chart bears my initials over a ribbon, but it’s easy to modify to include yours there instead. Or instead of big initials, you can include a smaller set, bracketed by tiny AT-ST walkers. Or you could draft up a short saying, dedication, or motto to fit the spaces left and right of the center helmets. Or you could either doodle something else entirely to put in those spaces, or use the extra motifs I provide.

The whole idea of this strip is to help to make the piece uniquely yours, either through selection of the provided elements, or by taking that step into modifying a design or even drawing up your own bits for those two spaces. To that end there’s a worksheet on the last page of this band leaflet. I offer the layout, two sample alphabets (one large, one small); a panel with spaces to draw in your final design, plus a few “rehearsal” slots below with the corners of the available space drawn in, and those extra motifs.

Time Factor 5+ entirely for the accompanying layout and design task, plus the long straight stitch runs. (I can hardly wait to see what people dream up).

134 stitches wide x 17 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a stand-alone continuous band, one full repeat in 134 units, plus one blank unit in between the full iterations.

Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches.

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 16 will debut on the Facebook Enablers group on 21 June and will be echoed here on 5 July.

#EpicFandomSAL

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 14

SNACK BREAK

Another respite from evil. We take a snack break, complete with pretzels. Or a twist that makes me hungry for them. Think of this as a seventh inning stretch. There’s a lot more game to come, and quite a bit of excitement left. When you see Band 15, you’ll appreciate coming off this bit of rest.

Time Factor 1, but stay awake! There are twists and overlaps to keep sorted out. But through it all, I promise – NO partial stitches.

134 stitches wide x 15 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a stand-alone continuous band, one full repeat in 15 units.

Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches.

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 15 debuted on the Facebook Enablers group today and will be echoed here on 7 June.

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 13

WHERE’S MY FLYING CAR?

Our salute to Retro-Futurism! Slap wings on that SUV and take to the skies. I am dating myself, but I can confess that we kids of the late 1950s/early 1960s were convinced we’d have flying cars by the time we had our own kids, and would be vacationing in orbit or on the moon. But the whole personal computer and Internet revolution, and the phone-in-every-pocket transformation weren’t even on our radar. Just as well. Computer/phone crashes are far less painful than having one’s flying car fall out of the sky.

Time Factor 2, mostly for height and discontinuity (the motifs are separated, and the wind/speed lines present lots of annoying little “orphan islands” to stitch).

134 stitches wide x 15 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a stand-alone continuous band, one full repeat in 28 units. Note that this strip isn’t exactly centered. I moved the placement in order to squeeze three whole autos into our allotted area.

Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches.

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 13 debuted on the Facebook Enablers group on 12 April. Band 14 will premiere there on 10 May, and be echoed here on 24 May 2022.

#epicfandomSAL

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 12

We continue, this week’s offering is rest and relaxation again after the last band.  Think of the fabled treasures sought in so many books, movies, and series:  the sparkling gems, items of destiny, and priceless bric-a-brac.  You don’t need to be a dragon to have your own hoard.  Just stitch this up.

Time Factor 1 – it’s very simple.  The only big challenge here would be all those ends if you succumb to my temptation to do this in multicolor In plan monochrome it would make fabulous trim, and would be even more special if worked in several jewel tones.

134 stitches wide x 8 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip.  If worked as a stand-alone continuous band, one full repeat in 28 units. However, if you want to work just one unit of graduated stones, starting and ending on either side with one complete smallest gem element, the count would be 32 units.

Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches.

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 13 debuted on the Facebook Enablers group today, and be echoed here on 26 April 2022.

#epicfandomSAL

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 11

On to one of our heavily themed strips – WHERE NO STITCHER HAS GONE BEFORE.

I know you’ve been waiting for this one. Our voyage continues. To seek out new worlds, new civ… Well, to possibly to try new techniques and have fun along the way.

This is another chance to attempt voiding – filing in the background for dramatic effect (in this case, The Final Frontier). I suggest long-armed cross stitch, plain old cross stitch, but you can see in the examples that one of the more open fills also works nicely. The stars really pop against any of the backgrounds. But even without voiding the piece presents well, so if you prefer not to do it, don’t feel pressured.

Time Factor 4 for height and complexity. Time Factor 5 if you choose to work the background, too.  Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches.  Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches

134 stitches wide x 26 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip.  If worked as a continuous band, one full repeat in 93 units.

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 12 will debut on the Facebook Enablers group on 29 March, and be echoed here on 4 April 2022.

#epicfandomSAL

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 10

Time for one of the “in-betweeners” – the simpler bands that alternate with the more complex, themed ones. This one is entitled PORTAL TO NOWHERE

Yes, I know this was supposed to be a plain and boring strip. It started out as a simple geometric with some interlaced bits to make it interesting.  After I finished drawing, I noted the vague echo of a Portal Cube in its center motif.  Subconscious channeling from other dimensions?  Probably just coincidence.  Yes, that’s right.  Coincidence.

Time Factor 2 for height and the overlapping flanges on the motifs (Without those layered bits I’d consider this a Time Factor 1.)  Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches

134 stitches wide x 18 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a continuous band, one full repeat in 12 units.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 1 yard
each of black and red
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 plyVariegated floss
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 ply
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
About 1.75 yards
of light red,
remnants of
light green
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie plus Kim

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 11 debuted on the Facebook Enablers group today and will be echoed here on 15 March 2022.

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 9

Bug eyed monsters waving ray guns in their tentacles!  Mid-century era finned spaceships!  Coming and going! Run!  Hide!  It’s an invasion, for sure and cheesy peril abounds.  Or capture them for all time, frozen in your stitching.  I recommend the latter. It’s far more relaxing to sit and embroider than it is to bolt away in terror.

Time Factor 2 – not particularly complex nor wide as the featured odd number strips go, but there is one small tricky bit.  Note that the rockets flip and are symmetrical.  BUT the little monsters mirror, alternating orientations where they are firing ray guns to the left or right.    

134 stitches wide x 16 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a continuous band, one full repeat in 23 units.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 ply
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 ply
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 2 yards
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
About 1 yard of red,
1 yard of green,
.75 yard of blue,
remnants of yellow
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie plus Kim

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 10 debuts on the Facebook Enablers group on Tuesday, 15 February and will be echoed here on 1 March 2022. Happy zapping until then!

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 8

To continue our slither through North American winter I present Band 8 – Snakes! And They’re Plain!
OK. So, this one is a bit more creepy-crawly than it is classic-blackwork-floral-ordinary. My excuse is that I drew it in the run-up to the 2019 Halloween season, adapting it from a design in Ensamplario Atlantio II, one of my free books of blackwork fills and borders. Plus, we should only ignore those who adore campy horror movies at our own peril.

Time Factor 1 for height and the ultra-simple straight repeat. Our scaly friends are all identical, with the second row flipped and travelling the opposite direction. Feel free to work all the right-bound crawlies in one pass, and then all the left bound ones, or hop back and forth as you please. Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer. There are no rules or must-do approaches here. One of the beta testers used beads for the eyes – a charming enhancement.

134 stitches wide x 16 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a continuous band, one full repeat in 23 units.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 ply
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 ply
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 2 yards
Plus 20 beads
(See below)
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
About 1.5 yards
each of light red
and light green,
about 0.75 yards
of light blue and yellow each
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie plus Kim

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 9 debuted on the Facebook Enablers group today, and will invade here on or about 1 February 2022. I’m betting you’ll be long finished with Snakes before then.



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