Archive for the ‘Needlework’ Category

My third row of Chicken Scratch for the Stitch Explorer Challenge is done simply with variegated Watercolours cotton.  I made a “box” of four cross stitches and then laced a single strand through the legs.  Each box was completed before moving on to the next one to get the color gradations.  


I still like the first more traditional exploration band the best.

I think chicken scratch would be cool with beads added, but I don’t have time right now to look in my stash to see if I have any beads to work into a fourth exploration.  This will have to be it for now.  The new stitch comes on Sunday!


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The next row on my Stitch Explorer Sampler is another exploration of Chicken Scratch.  I doubt anyone would recognize it as that, but I used the basic ground of cross stitches, upright this time, and placed with uneven spacing to created an elongated space for wrapping with a gold thread.


I tried adding other stitches around these units, but found that it looked best just like this.

I’m working on one more row of Chicken Scratch variation and then I think I’ll be done with this exploration.  I like the more traditional one that I did first, in green, better than these others I’ve been exploring.  But I can definitely see the potential of this stitch.

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The stitch for January’s Stitch Explorer Challenge is Chicken Scratch.

Chicken Scratch is traditionally applied to gingham fabric and is used to decorated items such as aprons.  It employs cross stitch, running stitch and wrapping.


I immediately made a change from the standard way of doing this stitching by using 32-count pale green linen instead of gingham.  I placed the traditional base stitches with Medici wool across 8-thread units.  Then I did the wrapping with a subtly variegated perle cotton in nearly the same shade as the base linen, wrapping three times.  While it may not be obvious in the photo, the light plays very nicely across this combination.  

I could see this used as a decorative band on the neck and cuffs of a linen shirt like New Look  6677 view  A.


The instructions for this challenge are to “explore” the stitch by finding different ways of doing it.  So my next sampler row is begun with three strands of DMC cotton floss and tiny crosses over 4 threads.  However, they are spaced in an elongated arrangement, which I hope will give a very different look when I begin to do the wrapping.  I’ll be using a completely different fiber for the wrapping.  And I’ll probably add some additional stitches around these units.


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I have finally gotten just a little bit tired of knitting socks.  That doesn’t mean I will stop knitting them.  I just won’t work on them as totally as I have been. I’m still working away on the Cable Ribbed Socks that I started earlier this month, but I’ve made a mistake somewhere and it will take a bit of work to go back and figure out what happened.  That’s what I get for knitting on tiny needles with dark yarn in low light.

It’s time to start on some lace and that jacket I’ve been wanting to do. 

I’ve also been wanting to do some garment sewing ever since I got my new sewing machine almost two years ago.  So when I was in DC I went to GStreet Fabrics in Rockville, MD and chose a simple top pattern and some great printed cotton fabric.  I used to make all of my clothes when I was in my twenties, I even made my wedding dress!  But once I started quiltmaking, I kind of stopped doing garment sewing.  ‘Just Halloween costumes for Larissa and a few miscellaneous things here and there.

I have become so fed up with what’s available in ready-to-wear, that I’ve decided to make some small steps toward making my own clothes again.  Of course I have much less free time, techniques and materials have changed, and I am way out of practice.

So, although I found myself looking at the lovely patterns for tailored suits and dresses in the pattern books, I held back and chose something that would be easy to sew and require little, if any, fitting — a top to wear with jeans.  It’s not a style I would normally choose for myself, but I thought that change might be fun also.


The pattern is New Look 6677 and the top is very retro looking — like something I remember from the 60’s.  ‘Don’t know how it will look on me, but I think the techniques for making it will get me back into garment sewing quite easily. I’ve picked up another pattern for a simple dress and jacket I want to make in linen, but I’m waiting on fabric until I see how this project goes.

My other new project is to begin a band sampler while participating in the Stitch Explorer 2009 challenge on pintangle.  I bought some beautiful pale green linen at The Lazy Daisy in Raleigh (my first visit there) and also found a lovely variegated perle cotton that was on sale.  I’ll add other threads and fibers from my stash.


The first stitch exploration is chicken scratch which is usually done on gingham.  But this is about exploration, so I’m doing it on 32-count linen.  

The fabrics are prepared, now the task will be to work in a few minutes here and there on each, along with everything else.

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Today’s quilt is one I designed for teaching beginning quiltmaking.  It is hand pieced, appliqued, and quilted.  It’s called “Heart’s Delight.”  It was made in 1987 and is about 40″ square.


I wanted to use deep solid hues somewhat like those used in Amish quilts, but with a twist.  Thus the light pink hearts.  

I taught two sessions of the class to make this quilt and it was so fun to see all of the different color combinations people used.  The most fascinating was the quilt a Pakistani woman in one of the classes made.  When she came in with her fabrics I was unsure about the color choices:  what I would call Christmas reds and greens along with a mustard yellow.  But when she finished, with her cultural sense of color use, it was beautiful. She instinctively knew precisely how to put the colors together.  It was especially striking among the other quilts because it was during a time when the “country” blues, browns, and roses were so popular, and most people were using those.  

I wish I had taken pictures of the quilts my students made in those classes.

Today was the final day of my first Doctor of Ministry class and I’m still processing all of the images and material.  We spent a lot of time yesterday and today on the formal elements of art–things like color, balance, etc. most of which I already knew, but it was good to have a review.

We also went to see the magnificent reredos that was designed by my professor, Catherine Kapikian, for Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church just a couple of blocks from the Seminary about 20 years ago.


A reredos is the covering on the wall behind the altar in a church.  This is a 10′ x 30′ work made up of beautifully needlepointed panels that were stitched by congregation members and are held in place by a specially designed and constructed fretwork.  It is spectacular, especially because it was designed so well to fit with the entire space and architecture of the sanctuary.  Catherine took us through some of the process of how she designed and worked with the congregation on executing and installing this piece of “participatory aesthetics.”

Seeing this piece first from the distance of the balcony, and then up close, was amazing.

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Readers of my blog will know that I participated for about half the year in sharon b’s Take It Further Challenge.  However, with the cross-country move and especially being back in the pulpit again, I had to drop out.

Today I found that Sharon has a new challenge for 2009 that I might be able to manage.  It’s called Stitch Explorer and will involve a new stitch or style of stitching each month.  I don’t think I’ll try to do projects per se, although that certainly seems possible.  I think I’ll try to do a sampler instead.  I can’t tell for sure from the rules, but I think that will qualify.  Something to keep my hand in stitching while working, studying, and playing with other fibers and fabrics.  

I’ve been focusing a lot on knitting lately and need something to pull me back out into the wider fiber realm.  This should do the trick.

The picture for today is of some beautiful orchid plants that I gave my staff members for Christmas.  I hope they enjoy them!


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For many years I have kept a Design Source Notebook for quilting and needlework.  I’ve not added much to it recently, but I decided to pull it out to spark my imagination for the cover for the journal I will be making for the techniques class for journal makers that I’m taking with Sue Bleiweiss.

I put all kinds of things in this notebook:  photos pulled from magazines, ads, wrapping paper, doodles, and lots of other odds and ends; anything I think may provide inspiration sometime.  

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for this cover, but I knew I wanted to use some of the fabric I dyed earlier this year.  So I started out just by looking through the notebook before going to my fabric palette.

I came upon this two-page photograph that I pulled out of some magazine years ago.  Unfortunately I didn’t note where it came from or the photographer’s name.  That’s something I would proabably do now. But then again I might not, since I’m not going to copy the photograph.  I’m just using it for inspiration.

This beautiful sunset and the prickly pear cacti remind me of the American Southwest that I love so much and miss here in Virginia.

I’ve pulled out these fabrics and I’m going to do some kind of loose interpretation of the photo.  I’ll be using applique and embroidery, and I’m pretty sure there will be beads.  I’ll be stretching myself to do more machine work than handwork, since I’m not very practiced in it, but there will be handwork as well.

I’m quite certain I won’t have this finished by the time the next lesson arrives, but since this is the overall cover for the journal, I think I can work on it while I work on the inside.  It’s also way more complicated than what is expected for the class, but since I’ve already done several simpler journal covers, I want to make this one more intricate.

In the class we’ll be learning lots of different techniques and then applying them to some of our own work. I’ve decided that this is going to be a “small quilts” journal with multi-media quilts employing different techniques and materials.  

I got this idea from Jeanne Williamson‘s book The Uncommon Quilter that I checked out from my local library.  Jeanne gave herself the assignment to make a quilt a week for seven years and used a variety of non-traditional materials and techniques as a creative challenge.  She has some very interesting and inspiring pieces on her website.  And she talks about her work in progress on her blog.  

I’m not planning to be quite that prolific, but I’m hoping the process will stretch and challenge me in process and creativity.

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