Thursday, July 21, 2016

Basics of Stumpwork Class...maybe I should have started with this?

Before you read about the wonderful class I just took.  Here is a peek at one of the slips for the birds.  This one is an Acorn Woodpecker (very common here), and it will be stuffed, and one of the wings will be a wired element.  I might pad the tail....outlined with stem stitch, filled mostly with split stitch, and a little herringbone stitch to make the feathers.

And now the main part of this post.

I got to take a stumpwork class with Celeste Chalasani this past weekend, and it was glorious.

I teach myself how to do things all the time, by the process of making every possible mistake or wrong turn, or misreading of the instructions, until I finally figure something out.  This is a wonderful, but time consuming process.

So, I took a Basics of Stumpwork class with Celeste Chalasani sponsored by the Bay Area Sampler Guild.

She provided a kit, a textbook, and a bunch of muslin squares to practice on.  I took notes on mine.

I learned a much easier way of doing just about everything.

Follow the link above to her website to see if she is teaching near you!  Or you can purchase her Craftsy class (I bought it, but have not yet taken it...)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


I have several needlwork projects going at once.  Not counting the pile of shame lurking in my linen closet of abandoned projects.

A brief list reveals: A) A large needlework canvas showing sound waves in colored blocks,  B)  Amy Mitten Fibers To Dye For Excursion #3, C) a perforated paper needlebook of poppies.  D) A basket of flowers on a beautiful purple background, E)  These stumpwork birds.

Every once in a while, something actually gets finished.  This happened last night.  I will show you, and it will give me a chance to talk about how much inspiration turns out to really be problem solving.

I finished  Amy Mitten, Fibers To Dye For, Excursions #2,  I loved the black silk and the spot motifs, but I left out the alphabet, in the interest of time.

In the meantime, I decided that I wanted to try some ribbon embroidery.  In my mind I started to see some gold satin, and black velvet, and some hand dyed silk ribbon, coming together as a pillow.

I went to Needle in a Haystack and got some Gloriana hand dyed Ribbons.  I bought #133 Pecan and #001 Charcoal, and a bag of odds and ends.

Then I went to my local fabric store and bought some gold satin, and some black velvet.  The velvet was expensive, so I only got a quarter yard, and that is where my design inspiration started.  I now had to limit my design to the size of the width of the velvet I was using for backing.  I knew I wanted strips of velvet on the front, because I wanted to try the ribbon embroidery on that.

Pro Tip:  If you have never done ribbon embroidery before, you should try it, but not on velvet, it is very thick and hard to pull the ribbon through, requiring much cursing, and a thimble.

Here is the finished pillow.  I love how it turned out.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Why I wrote a blog...

If you have read any of the previous blog posts, you know a few things about me by observation.

#1 I am not a professional photographer.  Sorry about that, I live in a very dark house in the redwoods, and my best camera is on my iphone 4.  I hope you enjoy blurry pictures.

#2  I am babbling on at you about something I actually know very little about.

#3  I sure do like birds.

#4 And embroidery.

This is why I started a blog.  I have never done much designing of my own.  I enjoy stitching and have been doing it off and on for a good portion of my life, but mostly I recreate other people's designs, which is soothing, and good for learning stitches and techniques, but does not always reflect me.

Not that every project has to, but when I started playing with stumpwork I found that I started having visions of things that I could use it for.  Birds, bugs, comic book characters, pictures I took, and so has a creative element to it and a free form design idea that seemed to work well for me.  I can't see myself charting a cross stitch design, or laying out a black line for some crewel work, but building dragonfly wings out of organza and copper it!

So the purpose of this blog is for me to document the process so that next time I decide to design something, I can look back on the process and refine it for the next one.  My hope, if you are reading and following my blog, is that you use it to help you design something if you've felt nervous about not being an Artist.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This is exciting!  I've actually started stitching one of the birds.  I've decided to go with the Acorn Woodpecker for several reasons.

#1  They often are on the shed.  This means I can squeeze another bird into the scene.

#2  They have very bold, clearly defined markings.  This means I do not have to do long and short shading.  Which is great, because I am not very good (yet) at that kind of shading.

The colors were easy.  I needed black, white, red and yellow/creamy color.  I usually (by which I mean, in all 2 of my previous projects) work in silk, but I do not want to buy a $4 skein of silk for 2 strands, so sometimes I will be using bits of cotton floss from my stash, and that yellow creamy color was a good example.

I bought the white and the black from City Needleworks in San Mateo, I love her silks and her palette, very nice to work with.  I knew I would need a lot of those colors, so silk made sense.

The white is City Needleworks #1, the black is City Needleworks #3.

For the red I am using some Soie d'Alger left over from the Hummingbird and Honeysuckle project.  #915

The yellow creamy color for the throat was a little harder.  Since it was a very small area, and none of the other birds would need it, I did not want to buy a whole skein of silk.  So, I rummaged through my collection and settled on the yellowish bits of a varigated thread from Weeks Dye Works...Eucalyptus.

Very satisfying, and somehow irrevocable to have actually started stitching.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A project begets other projects, without fail.

I promise that a few of these posts will actually talk about the PROJECT, (which, in case you've just joined us, is to create a stumpwork collection of birds from my life list).

This is not one of those posts.  This post is going to talk about my bird books and my life list.  And possibly, why I bird in the first place.

Actually let's start with that one.

The woman in the picture, Debbie, is the reason I bird. ( I really like her husband as well.)  She has been my best friend since I was 18 or so.  And she is an avid birder.  I started birding because she was so enthusiastic about it.  I have been known to call her from road trips, describe birds to her and have her id them for me over the phone.  She's that good.

I now have bird books;  many bird books, from many trips, and I keep field notes in them.  Where I saw birds, when I saw them, who I was with (usually Debbie),  notes about the sighting, etc.

There are 2 problems with this.

#1  I have terrible handwriting.  My notes are hard to read, even for me.
#2  It is hard to have a cohesive idea of what I've seen when I have it spread out through so many books.

So the project that will be going on with the stumpwork project is to make a database of birds I've seen using google sheets.  Along with that idea, I have decided to turn a google form into an app on my phone using Appsheets, which, in theory, should allow me to add to my life list from my phone, while I am out and about.  There are some bugs, but I have a prototype version that I am testing.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Birdfeeder and the Birds

I have a backyard birdfeeder and these are my common visitors.  Black headed Grosbeak, Dark Eyed Junco, Chestnut Backed Chickadee, California and Spotted Towhees, Acorn Woodpecker, Band Tailed Pigeon, Stellar Jays and White Breasted Nuthhatches.

I want to stitch them all into my project.  Problem, I can't fit them all onto the piece of fabric I have.

I am using a piece of Legacy Linen that I purchased from Needle In A Haystack, discounted since it had a small fleck of dirt on it.  The piece probably has a 14 by 14 stitchable area.  Not bad.

But as with most sewing projects, the problem is tension.  Stumpwork works best when the ground (background) fabric is drum tight.  I own a 12 inch quilting hoop that is not too big to hold, and holds the fabric tight enough.

Stumpwork enthusiasts rave about slate frames...I read Mary Corbet's blog about dressing her slate frame, and I have decided to skip that.  You can click on that link to see what I mean.

So instead of having 196 square inches, I am working with 113-ish square inches, that is a big difference....

So, I put the sketches away....and decided to start this blog.  Hope you'll join me for a future post.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Project

I recently became obsessed with stumpwork.  This is a form of embroidery with dimensional elements added with the use of wired or padded elements, and incorporating a range of embroidery stitches.

Do not be fooled into thinking I am an expert.  I have done exactly 2 projects.  They looked like this:

This is a project from the Embroider's Guild of America , it was a stitch along, and I thought that there would be a video class to help out.  There was not.  The project was designed by Luann Calley, and her instructions, and her pacing in her written guide turned out to be fantastic.  I believe the class is no longer available, but if you find it, take it!

The second project was this one.

This is by Jane Nicholas and I got it from Issue #88 of Inspirations Magazine (there will be much more about this magazine later).  Here is a link to the kit.  Lacewing and Dogwood Kit.

I loved the hummingbird in the first one.  Stuffing the fat little bird body with stuffing made me a lot happier than it should have.  So, my girlfriend suggests that I do my life list in stumpwork birds.

And that is what this blog will be about.  I hope you'll join me.