17 UFOs in 2017

Still More Circles
Still More Circles

Meredithe (Pomegranate and Chintz) and Anne (Frayed At The Edge) are running a challenge for the year – 17 UFOs in 2017. The idea is not necessarily to finish, but to make substantial progress, on 17 UFOs.

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Now, I’m not sure I have that many UFOs, and I have many new projects I want to work on (more on those soon), but I do have a good few that are stalled, or that I’m not sure whether I’ve finished or not, so although I’m not going to join in regularly, I will try to use the impetus of the challenge to remind myself to assess progress.

Blanket Stitch Fans
Blanket Stitch Fans

1 Eve in the Garden of Eden – I really want to finish this so I can sign up for the Stumpwork Lion!
2 Nefertiti Shawl – well, clearly, I want to be able to wear this!
3 Queen Anne style teacloth – this is a travelling project, so it depends on where I go and whether I have light or time to work on it.

From The Back
From The Back

4 The Modern Stitch-Off – I’m not sure whether this is finished or not, so if I can at least decide that by the end of the year, I’ll be pleased.
5 The Christmas Angel – I was going to work on the Christmas Angel last year between Christmas and Epiphany, and never set a stitch on it.

Shoulder Cape
Shoulder Cape

6 The Faience Necklace – this has been a real trial to me, as I can’t bring the design into focus. I’ve got some lovely silk thread so maybe that will help me to get started.
7 The Swan – I got the first layer of Laid and Couched work done, and have had trouble working out the detail layer…

Swan - First Layer
Swan – First Layer

8 The Unicorn – again, first layer done, details escaping me.

Unicorn - the first layer
Unicorn – the first layer

I have a lot of other things I want to do, which are barely begun, never mind finished, and as I have said, in the case of several of these projects it is not a matter of simply stitching, so much as deciding what to stitch, and then stitching it.

My real target for the year with these eight is to have finished the Nefertiti Shawl and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Anything else is a bonus!

Continuing The Worktop Bin Cover

Bargello Panel
Bargello Panel

Once I’d settled on a pattern, it fairly romped along. Ten count canvas is such a lovely rest after the forty count linen of Eve In The Garden Of Eden!

As with the Crazy Canvaswork Cushion, I’m not buying extra wool for this, hence the row of light stitches which aren’t the same shade as the other two. Most of the thread is Paterna Persian Yarn, but the odd one out is Appletons. The texture and level of shine are different, but then, anything will be better than a sawn-off milk bottle!

Edges Turned In
Edges Turned In

The next stage is to turn in three of the edges. I’m going to use the canvas at the bottom to help create the bottom of the bin, so I’ve left that, but the short edges will be seamed together – somehow (I’ve not solved that puzzle yet!).

Herringbone Edge
Herringbone Edge

I’ve learnt, over the years, that it is better to finish the folded edge of a piece of canvaswork than it is to try to fold the edge to be completely invisible.

So what will be the top edge of the bin has now been finished with herringbone stitch. It creates a lovely piped effect, much denser and firmer than a simple overcast stitch, and that will be very useful to help the bin stand up!

 

Poppies And Wheat, Cleaned and Conserved

Some of you may recall that some time ago, my mother and I were planning to reframe one of my Grandmama’s embroideries, and discovered to our horror that it had been glued to a backing board made of strawboard.

In due course, we found a textile restorer, not too far away, and I took it to her. And now we have it back again. In the course of the work, it was discovered that two different sorts of glue had been used. One of them was unstuck fairly easily, but a particularly acidic glue had been used on the back of the embroidery itself – almost as if the framer did not believe the work had been finished off properly. Which it had – apparently it was very difficult to find some threads to take out to test for colourfastness!

The fabric and thread are both much brighter than they were, but the very acidic glue that was used is the reason for the bloom of staining around the embroidery. It’s much reduced, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to remove it entirely.

So, Gentle Reader – be careful with glues and boards. Avoid if you can, use neutral-pH as far as you can, or someone in the future will be muttering imprecations in your direction!

The Red Panel on the Nefertiti Shawl – Part Three

More Circles
More Circles

Third installment..

Remember, the two inner circles are always in the same stitches – Open Chain Stitch, and Stem Stitch.

The two outer circles in this case are in Herringbone Stitch, and Half-Chevron Stitch. I’m a little disappointed that neither the counterchanges of colour nor the counterchanges of thread seem to show in this photo. I assure you, they were there when I worked it!

Still More Circles
Still More Circles

The first of these is Breton Stitch, which is a little like Herringbone stitch with added twist. I’m sure I could have done it with the twist towards the outside, but I think like this, it will balance some of the other circles which have a strong edge.

The second is Wheatear Stitch, which I have found myself turning to every now and again, although maybe not often enough. It produces a spiky but continuous line, so while it has definite uses, it is also one which doesn’t work in all contexts. That  said, I enjoyed working it, so maybe I will be able to tweak either the context or the stitch, so as to use it more…!

This pashmina is going to be quite the stitch sampler, isn’t it!

Small canvaswork worktop bin

First Trial
First Trial

I have a small plastic bin – cut down from a milk carton – on the worktable beside my chair. It’s very useful for odds and ends, but it scarcely adds to the ambience.

Since all my embroidery at the moment – “Eve in the Garden of Eden”, and something I’m planning for “Dreams of Amarna, but haven’t quite got ready for stitching yet – is fine and detailed, I’ve decided to work a cover for it in bargello work.

One stitched and one drawn
One stitched and one drawn

I’m using another of those offcuts of 10-count canvas. Ideally I would use something finer, but since I want a rest for my eyes, and in particular to use up some more of that persian yarn, I’ve been playing with various patterns in an old book. In this case, one pattern drawn on, and the other stitched, partly in wool, and partly in a fine silk, just to help me with stitch placement.

Another trial
Another trial

I’ve decided to use the rusty colour, which I have rather a lot of, as the main colour, and I’m trying to find a small pattern that won’t dominate the room. I don’t think the “pomegranate” pattern qualifies…, but this one might…

The Red Panel on the Nefertiti Shawl – Part Two

More circles..
More circles..

Moving on to the next set of stitches…

The circles weren’t perfectly drawn, so the slightly wonky appearance of perspective is partly owing to that. The lighter coverage is Cretan Stitch. I often have trouble using cretan stitch in my more figurative projects, so I’m hoping that being reminded of it will help me to find uses for it in future. Up and Down Buttonhole stitch is an old favourite, as long term readers will know. I’ve done it more neatly, but I always enjoy stitching it.

Still More Circles
Still More Circles

This pair was actually among the last to be finished. Italian Border Stitch can be described as a fly stitch with a French Knot instead of a straight stitch. First I did a single row, and it looked a bit thin, so I added a second layer. Much better!

The second circle is in Chained Feather Stitch. This one curves well around  the circle, and has something of the feel of a victor’s laurel wreath about it. Maybe an omen for me finally finishing the Dreams of Amarna in the next year?

Harrogate Haul..

The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate is my main opportunity to stock up on thread, fabric, materials and oddities.

Yes, I know we all buy online these days, but so often I am looking for something slightly obscure, or I know what I want to achieve, but not how. The opportunity to look and feel before buying, and to talk to the specialist suppliers who are there, is absolutely invaluable.

Flat Silk for Necklace Embroidery
Flat Silk for Necklace Embroidery

This time I was semi-organised, and as soon as I arrived, I went to Midori Matsushima’s stand with a shopping list of colours for the Faience Necklace designs, when I get to them. I’m hoping that now I have the silks I will have an incentive to pull my ideas into focus, because I feel that the Dreams of Amarna panels need more colour in them.

Felt and Thread
Felt and Thread

I also bought some wool felt and silk threads, some because I have plans for it, and some to have something frivolous to do. I still have a couple of those wooden pots to put pincushions in…

This slightly less dense felt – some from 20th Century Yarns and some from Oliver Twists – is much easier to stitch than the dense felt sold to crafters which is stocked everywhere. I also like the somewhat rougher texture.

Silk fo Spinning
Silk for Spinning

I went to a workshop introducing wet felting, which I am planning to use as the initial colour blocking for the “Vision of Placidus” panel, but what I actually bought was more silk to spin into thread for the second layer. I’ll have to wait until the sore elbow and shoulder have healed, but this is something I can do in preparation for the project while I’m still working on the Dreams of Amarna. I’m thinking about Placidus quite a lot in my odd moments!

A good reference book
A good reference book
Blanket Selvedge
Blanket Selvedge

Finally, I bought a book – only one, but it’s a cracker! – and a ball of wool selvedge, for purposes that will remain a mystery for now…

The Red Panel on the Nefertiti Shawl – Part One

Two circles
Two circles

Once the colour scheme was sorted out, I decided that I was going to try my usual trick again. There are elements of the panel which will be the same, and other elements which will change. The combination ensures that there is interest everywhere, but rhythm and similarity to help the eye rest.

So, the two inner circles are open chain stitch for the innermost one – at about the largest scale at which open chain stitch works without decoration, which is tiny! – and simple stem stitch. Furthermore, the open chain stitch always uses the thread used for the outermost circle, and the stem stitch counterchanges to a different weight and tone of thread.

The first circle here is done in Chained Blanket stitch using a silk perle in a warm russett-y red. Chained blanket stitch is one I’ve rarely used, but I’ve decided I like it. It produces a strong edge, and a pleasing texture. The second circle is in a rather finer silk thread, with a blueish tone – counterchange again, you see. This time I used Closed Feather stitch, which is one of the old faithfuls…

Two more circles
Two more circles

The next two continue the theme…

The outer circles are in Basque Stitch (top), which is another stitch with a family resemblance to chain stitch and blanket stitch, this time using two strands of stranded silk, and Chevron Stitch, in another silk perle. Chevron Stitch is an old friend, but as you see, it doesn’t run happily around curves – or at least, not curves as tight as this.

Still, the counterchanges of russet against burgundy, thick against thin thread, same stitches against new stitches, all seem to be working so far…

Playing with brooches again

Gauze Spiral
Gauze Spiral

I was very taken with a length of gauze ribbon i found when I was rummaging for bits of teal fabric, and spent an idle moment or two running a gathering thread along one edge. I wasn’t at all sure where I would go from there, but as I pulled the gathering thread up the ribbon settled naturally into a tight spiral reminiscent of an Elizabethan ruff. Hmmm. Promising!


In the end, I covered another self-cover button with two layers of a rather gorgeous silk fabric which I originally bought for my mother to line a bookbox she made for a fine binding of “The Wind In The Willow”, and created a cross between a winner’s rosette and a new species of flower.


I think it will be fun to wear, but the real delight is the ruffle… It has “loft”, and a gentle glimmer, both from the gauze and from the silk button. More of a spring than an autumn piece, with that light spring green and and the gauzy ruffle, but I’ll look forward to the treat!

Satin and Tweed
Satin and Tweed

Talking of unnatural flowers….

What I would really like to do is think of something else to do with the tweed fabric in the centre of this. It was cut off a pair of trousers which were too long for me, but it is a nice fabric and I want to create something fun with the scraps.

Thinking caps on, then…

Progress on the Nefertiti Shawl – the frame

Golden Border
Golden Border

The internal borders of the Nefertiti Shawl, outlining the various coloured blocks, turned out to be fairly easy, as they were part of the inspiration that struck me when I was laying out the pashmina to transfer a design to it. The threads are all silk, with a soft perle used for the chain stitch. The vertical internal borders ended up as two rows of chain stitch, which should define the coloured blocks nicely.

The horizontal border consisted of two rows of chain stitch, in the same variegated silk thread, bordering a single row of cable chain stitch in a much shinier silk thread, which turned out to have a mind of its own. It kept trying to tie itself in knots, it twisted into snarls, and it unwrapped itself when I tried to finish off ends. But it looks lovely!

Wavy Chain Row
Wavy Chain Row

My design ideas put two lines of gold on either side of the coloured blocks that I’ve taken from Nefertiti’s crown. I didn’t want to do them the same, so I decided to make the rows nearest to the coloured blocks slightly wider. Then I had a wonderful rummage in my books of stitches and chose to take the opportunity, since the rows are straight, to use the Wavy Chain Stitch I found when I was doing the Circle Skirt and couldn’t get to curve. It works beautifully on the straight!

Shell Chain Row
Shell Chain Row

The outer lines, I decided should be narrower. Shell Chain Stitch seemed to fit the bill perfectly. It belongs to the same family – chain stitch – but produces a light, almost textured effect.

Having made all my decisions, it became a matter of sitting quietly, doing miles of chain stitch variations.  The coloured panels will follow later…