Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another Month, Another Page

I managed to find an hour or so to finish the June Challenge.  Here is the finished page mounted in the book I began a couple of months ago.

I made the page a little larger than the first one I completed.  Right now, it is on the top (page 1?) but I will eventually change the placement as the book evolves.  The knitted scrumble is in the middle of the page, and the needlepoint panels are to the right and left.  I wrote on Friday that there was a smooth transition from the knitting to the needlepoint, which is not was I was after at first.  I had planned discrete panels of embroidery with floss, beading, crocheting, etc.  However, I am glad I stuck with my gut instinct after the first two needlepoint sections.  The transition from knitting to needlepoint is so smooth in some places that you really have to examine the work carefully to see which panel is which.

Here is a close-up of the page.  The knitted border panel includes the eyelash fiber and the two light purple and the pink mohair yarns.  The needlepoint border panel includes the yellow, light blue and dark blue sections.   The piece looks better than the photo depicts.  It's so good that I am thinking of using the other scrumbles to make some additional pieces to frame and sell.  I have to work out the blocking - the piece does not lie flat, but I did not use a frame when I was stitching so that could rectify the problem.  I'd also have to see about the framing.  There are several good framers in my area who specialize in mounting needlework, so maybe one of them could offer some suggestions.  It might be a good series to use in charity challenges, since I already have the scrumbles done and the other elements are in my stash.  Framing would be the only cost, and I do have a miter box.....

I wasn't wild about the page backing I selected after I got the whole thing stitched together.  However, I did get the fabric from my stash and as a result I spent $0 for this challenge.  Everything for this project came from stash.  Wow!  And it's done.  Margot, my quilting instructor, kept asking us during my recent class with her:  "Do you want it perfect or do you want it done?"   For this challenge, I want to try new techniques and have fun, so I guess in some ways I wanted it done so that I could move on to next month's assignment.  It was a test piece for technique and mixed stitching types and I succeeded in what I set out to do, even though the piece evolved significantly from the initial concept.  

Here's a close-up (sort 0f) of the back of the page as it looks in the book.

And here's a shot from a distance.

See you in July.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Better than I Had Planned

I am absolutely dancing for joy.  I love the piece that resulted from the combination of knitted scrumble and freeform needlepoint.  I have to say though, that I didn't end up with what I had planned.  I had thought I to use a patchwork of several different fibers and fabrics from my stash.  But as I began to work the piece, it became clear that what looked best was an all-wool patchwork.  What really surprised me most was the seamless transition between the knitted scrumble and the needlepoint. 

In this photo, you can make out the needlepoint on the right and bottom left.  The middle part of the photo shows the knitted scrumble.

Here's a close-up of the needlepoint.  I did end up using the beads, but not as I had originally planned.  I had thought I'd do a whole panel of beading, but instead I just used the beads to embellish and accent the panels.  The beading was done randomly, sometimes just to cover up a part of the free-form I didn't like, sometimes to highlight an area.  I did more beading on the needlepoint panels than on the scrumble.

I had planned to use a paper backing for the piece, with a border of ribbon - both from my stash.  But after some consideration of how I wanted the piece to be able to bend and drape, I decided to go to my fabric stash instead.  There, I found a remnant I bought a few months ago.  It's glittery and has the same deep rose-to-pink color palette that is dominant in the scrumble and needlepoint.

Here's a side-by-side of the front and back.

This weekend, I'll sew the backing to the piece and roll the fabric to the front to create a hemmed edge, so that the fabric will show  bit on the front.   If I manage to finish the piece by Sunday morning, I'll post photos of the finished product before I go back to the capitol.  If not, I'll post next weekend.  

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Can Do That - Or Can I?

I was feeling pretty good about my project until I sat down to actually do some work on it.  First of all, I realized that attaching the scrumble to the canvas would make the piece difficult to work on.  So, I sketched the outline on the canvas, set the scrumble aside, selected some wool for the needlepoint panel, and began stitching.

It wasn't too long into the project before I realized that the embroidery with floss panel might not work.  The wool panels of the design are "heavy" and will overpower any floss embroidery I might put into a section.  So, I have not jettisoned the embroidery idea, but the panel will not be done with floss.  I think I might be able to save the beading section, though, because the beads are weighty enough to be compatible with the wool fiber.

I also decided to pull the unfinished ends of the scrumble sections to the front of the piece.  It gives the panel a less finished appearance, and I'll see if I like that effect when I get to the assembly stage.  Right now, for the work-in-progress stage, I like it.

I have three needlepoint sections finished - all freeform, which is definitely out of my comfort zone.  But the sections look good with the scrumble, which is free-form too.  When I get back to the capitol tomorrow night, I'll see if I can work in a beading section.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I'm Having Fun Again!

Those of you have been readers since my January Barbie adventure know that I had two goals for this challenge:  to use stash as much as possible and to have fun.  I have to say that three of the last five months have not been fun.  Interesting, challenging, therapeutic, but not necessarily fun.

Anyway, fun looks like it is making a comeback.  And this may be the first month where I use stash 100% - no outside purchases look like they'll be required.

I decided to use as many fiber and needlework techniques as possible in one piece.  I drafted some designs and thought that a patchwork pattern worked best.

Four years ago, I was playing around with freeform knitting.  I ended up with about 10 patches that I was going to make into a sweater or a coat or... I don't know?  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Looking at the patches or scrumbles now, I think had I completed the project, I'd have looked like a rag doll who had some of the stuffing knocked out of her.  In any case, since a garment is not likely to arise from my freeform attempts, I picked the smallest patch to serve as the foundation for the June challenge.  It was made from stash and it was in my "projects to be done sometime before I die" stash.  A two-fer so to speak.  The patch is in the lower right hand corner of the photo.

I had drawn a pattern that I thought might work.  It called for knitting, crochet, crewel embroidery, needlepoint, embroidery with floss, and a paper element to be determined.  After rummaging through my various stashes, I found some Persian wool for needlepointing, some DMC floss for embroidery and some Aida cloth, needlepoint canvas, beads, paper, and ribbon - ALL in the same color palette!  Now don't jump to the conclusion that my brain is ordered to favor certain colors.  No, no, no.  I've just got an ungodly amount of stash.

Anyway, here's where the project stands:  I washed the needlepoint canvas (I haven't done needlepoint in about 40 years, and canvas was tan, but after washing gently with detergent it's now white again) and cut it to the page size for my fabric book.  After I get back to the capitol tonight, I'll baste the knitted scrumble to the canvas and block out the rest of the patches.  The needlepoint will be worked directly onto the canvas.  The patches of embroidery and beading will be worked on the Aida cloth and then basted to the canvas.  The paper (acid-free!  How lucky can a girl get!?) will serve as the page backing and the ribbon will be used to edge the page.  I just have to work out the designs for each patch so that they don't clash with the knitted piece.

Sorry, Tanquera - no candlewicking this month. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008


One of the goals I had when I signed up for this challenge was to use materials on hand from my stash to complete the monthly projects.  I have had limited success.  For each of the four months thus far, I have used at least one item from my stash in each project.  However, I also bought new materials as needed to complete the designs so that they'd be visually appealing.  As a result, I can't really say there was a huge net outflow of stash.  Imperceptible might be more like it.

So when Sharon named stash as this month's focus for the challenge, I was sort of giddy with delight.  I began thinking up ways to incorporate a number of fibers and fabrics from my stash into a project - probably another page for my fabric book.

But I attended a wool applique class yesterday, and  the women began discussing really old, unfinished past projects.  Some of these projects went back almost 50 years.  Do any of you remember these passing needlework fads: crewel embroidery; needlepoint; macrame; candlewicking; cross stitch (counted and/or stamped, depending on your preference); knitting a la 1970's; crochet (1960's hats and vests); well, the list could go on and on, especially if you include non-fiber crafts like beading and pottery.  As I drove home from the class, I thought about all the pattern books that still populate my bookshelves.  I thought they were kind of like stash, too.  Projects not yet realized, just fodder for dreams.  Eye candy of a sort.

Anyway, I am thinking I will do a walk down memory lane using my stash of both books and fiber.  Maybe a collage of past techniques rolled into one page - a crazy quilt-like page.  An index of stashed items.  Heaven knows, I could use a guide - I get really annoyed with myself when I come upon a kit I purchased back in the day when my eyesight was good and I knew what was in every drawer in the house.

So, this weekend, I will pull out my stash for every fiber technique I have ever attempted and see if I can find some design inspiration in the needlework books in my book stash, aka library.  By Sunday, I hope to have a design in mind, although I may be very late posting the finished product.  I enrolled in a quilting class and the first meeting was last Saturday.  The goal is to have a finished lap quilt by June 30th.  I am busily sewing the 4-patch design, but I'm having the devil of a time getting the points to meet.  I guess that's what happens when I sign up for a class having no experience with a sewing machine or rotary cutter.  Fortunately, the instructor, Margot, is the most patient person in the world.  I'm sure she finds students like me trying, but she just keeps smiling.  And even though all the blocks aren't perfect, it's sort of coming together nicely and looks really good from 3 feet away.  It won't win any competitions I'm sure if judges get up close, but it's making me happy, and that was my principle goal.