Sunday, June 30, 2013

Marie Antonette Embroidered Picture

Doing two Altrusa trees this year has meant a lot of planning and starting early on the decorations and gifts.  So far I have volunteered for several decorations but I am not sure what gifts I could make.  The thing I like about our groups tree is that we don't throw money at them.  We make almost all of the stuff ourselves.  Some members do donate money for the supplies to make things, which is very generous.  We also get things from thrift stores and fix up.  One gift idea that I've had was a pair of crystal earrings.  I bought 2 large pink crystals that will be used to dangle large woven gold drops.  The crystals will made into cabochons sew in with gold or pearl beads, haven't made my mind up yet!  That is as far as I've gotten making gifts!

Last night I was looking at a friends pintrest page, , and came across a lovely picture of Marie Antoinette and decided to embroider the picture as a gift.  I could have turned the image into a cross-stitch or needlepoint.   But instead I printed the image on cotton canvas and started embroidering sections to bring out the image.

Original printed image of Marie Antoinette onto cotton canvas.

When starting this kind of project deciding what to do first can be daunting.  So I took one thread of gray DMC and started embroidering straight stitches to add detail to the feathers in her hat.  This gave me the courage to keep working.  Besides all of the thread and color challenges there is also the challenge of getting the needle through the fabric.  The fabric is a commercially processed sheet that can go through a printer.  The fabric is very thick and besides bending several needles I also bruised my fingers when the eye end went into my fingers because the point end would not go through the fabric.

  Feather enhanced by straight stitches in grey DMC thread
and variegated silk ribbon added to the hair.

This style of embroidery is completely different from the more standard embroidery forms.  Unlike embroidery patterns whether to leave something plain or stitching to enhance a section is entirely up to the embroiderer.  The most helpful thing is to have a wide variety of embroidery supplies.  In this piece I have used silk sewing threads and ribbon, DMC floss, silver passing, crewel and needlepoint fibers.  In the above picture the feathers are enhanced by straight stitches in grey DMC thread
and variegated silk ribbon added to the hair.  On the right hand side of her neck bullion knots in dark gray DMC were added.  The darker shaded hair and smaller stitches make her hair recede into the background.  The color of gray was similar to the artists choice of color.

Curls added to the left neck area using crewel acrylic yarn in pale gray
and seed pearls added to form the necklace.

After enhancing the feathers I had thought to leave the hair simple with a few silver stitches.  But the curls were so tempting!  So I used a white acrylic crewel yarn and a silver crewel yarn and formed them into loops.  Then the loops were tacked down on top of the hair.

How to Make the Loops.

The loops were very easy to make!

Step 1:  Thread a needle with a strong thread matching the color of the curls, I used silk sewing thread.  Hold the thread along a dowel and wrap the hair fiber around the dowel and thread.

Wrapping the hair fiber around a dowel and encasing a sewing thread.

Step 2:

Once the loops are as long as you want for one area, sew through the hair fiber with the encased sewing thread.    Make sure to pierce through the actual hair fiber as you sew.  Keep sewing through until all the loops are sewn loosely together.

Sewing through the hair fiber.

Step 3: 

Sew the fibers through again going in the opposite direction.  Tie a small knot at the end of the loop with the sewing thread.  Be careful not to pull to tight.

Sew back through the hair fibers, do not tighten to much.  The loops should be sewn close together.

Step 4: 

Slip the hair fiber loops off the skewer and sew in place using the same sewing thread.

Finished hair loops ready to be sewn into place.

Loops starting to form hair on left side of head.

Bullion knots form tighter curls on right side of head.

Hair added to left hand side of head is made with darker variegated crewel fibers and is formed by making bullion knots.  This forms tighter curls which gives the impression that right side of her face is turned away slightly.  This is a simple trick to form depth to the picture.

Silver passing is used to give detail to the lace edge.

The last thing that I did last night was to start enhancing the lace on her dress with silver passing thread.  This was a bit tricky because after so much work I was afraid that the silver thread wouldn't work and I would have ruined the embroidery.  But it came out fine!  I used short lengths of silver thread and straight stitches.  I worked the silver following the white edge in the lace.

View of dress after silver passing was added to the lace.

Some of the bullions knots on her right side are a bit dark and I may do them over again.  The bouquet in her hand has stems and leaves but I still need to figure out how to make the rose.  The next big step is embroidering the background.  The trick is to make the background interesting and at the same time not so detailed that it is to busy.  Now to try and not destroy the picture today by doing something stupid!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A New Orchid

All of the gardening lately has helped to remind me how much I really love orchids.  Yesterday at Trader Joe's I saw a beautiful purple phalaenopsis and it followed me home.  Once an orchid decides to follow you home there is little choice but to surrender!  The new orchid is the same kind as Sally but unlike Sally it is really large.  All of Sally's flowers fit in one hand but the flowers of the new orchid are so large that each flower is as big as my hand.

Purple phalaenopsis.

Closeup of purple phalaenopsis.

This lovely orchid was only $12.99 and was grown in Salinas CA.  I plan on studying the two new additions to the shade garden.  It will make a lovely embroidered square for the needle painted quilt.  It will be a challenge making up a pattern.  I hope to get started after the wild pansy is done.  But before either of these projects I need to write an article for the Bishop's Peek EGA newsletter.  Lot of stuff to keep me busy!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Secret Garden

The last few days Lee and I have been working on a beautiful shade garden.  Lee has done 90% of the work and I have been doing the easy stuff like starting seeds and planting.  Yesterday I planted a lot of violets, spearmint and apple mint.  Now that the area has been mulched I've been thinking about growing mint as a ground cover and naturalizing some bulbs for next spring.  There are a lot of paperwhites and narcissus to replant from the Spring.  The amaryllis has baby bulbs to replant too.  I would appreciate any suggestions.

The victory garden is really doing well, the weather has been so lovely and the tomato plants are getting full of fruit.  Usually we don't get tomatoes this early because there are so few bees.  But this year with have both honey bees and bumble bees.  They are still enjoying the lavender plant I planted 12 years ago.  It has grown into a beautiful plant but it needs to have the old flowers removed so it will bloom again.  Once I cut back the lavender the bees should be more interested in the vegetable.  The green beans are finally coming up and should take off in the beautiful Summer we are having.  A new section of the yard is almost finished it has taken me a long time to get it ready.  Lee worked over the soil but I want to make sure the weeds are out of the soil before I start planting more seeds.

The wild pansy embroidery is slowly taking shape.  The leaves are almost finished.  Getting the right angle of the stitches has been difficult and it seems to be an important factor in needle painting.  Tomorrow I hope to have some pictures.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wedding Garland for the Bride

The last few days I have been working on a design for a Bride's hair piece.  She put some pictures on her Facebook page.  The flowers are to small for me to make them from ribbon.  So I took apart a tiny flower arrangement I made a long time ago and cut some suckers from the olive tree.  The suckers were very easy to make into a garland.  It came out cute but to bulky.  So now I know that I will need really tiny flowers.  Once I have the garland finished I think I will try making a basket with the surplus of olive tree suckers.

Bridal garland.

Close up.

The quilt idea is coming along.  I started lesson 10 the wild pansy and it is coming along slowly.  I also added the large round petaled flower yoyo and a small butterfly yoyo to the quilt idea.

Flower shaped yoyo.

Flower shaped yoyo.

Butterfly shaped yoyo.

The butterfly yoyo is supposed to have rounded upper wings.  I kept the upper wings loose and then closed them leaving them pointed.  It came out cute!  Lots of stuff to work on and the summer is going by fast.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Goliath the Hummingbird

The last three years we have had a huge hummingbird I named Goliath.  I find it hard to believe it is the same Anna hummingbird but not many get that big.  Today I was outside and saw two huge hummingbirds!  The best part is that they were doing a mating dance in the air.  If you've never seen the mating dance of hummingbird all I can say is that it is pretty strange.  So maybe by the end of summer we will have lots of baby hummingbirds on the four o'clocks!

Yesterday we went to the gym and I walked 30 minutes in the pool.  Then went to JCPenny and bought two blouses.  There were hardly any people in the store and they were having a four hour sale!  They say that the company is having trouble with the way the prices were setup but I liked it.  It is so nice to see the exact price and not  wonder how much something really costs with a discount.  My opinion of why people weren't in the store was ugly clothes.  But I did find a 3/4 sleeve white blouse and a fuchsia pink long sleeve silk blouse.  But no cute skirts were to be found and Capris were everywhere!

After shopping I went to Beverly's and got some green fat quarters.  The pattern on the green fabric is the same as on the purple yoyos.  Then I also purchased Clover's small 5 petal flower tool.  The idea was to use the 5 petal flower yoyo instead of a tradition one.  Then to make green large pointed flower petals into leaves.  The flowers and leaves would then be sewn around the outside of the embroidered panels.  I've looked on the internet and have not seen anything like this which makes me think it can't be done.  So far I've tried making the small flower but it seems a little to small for the size of the panels.  The large pointed petal doesn't make the best leaves, I can make better ones without the tool.  So I guess we will see what happens!

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Like My Coffee and Cotton Kona!

The other day I bought some white Kona cotton to finally start on an embroidered quilt.  The embroidered designs will be from Trish Burr's book "Needle Painting Embroidery".  No more wasting the embroidered lesson or turning them into small projects.  The cotton is a medium weight and will take many launderings.  Lee preshrunk the fabric for me and I have copied lesson 10 wild pansy onto a 10 inch square.    The idea was to make embroidered centers with smaller squares surrounding them.  The problem was that the embroidered designs are very diverse in colors.  So how would I find colors for the smaller patchwork squares and have the design look balanced?  I was working on a square when I had what I hope will be a really great idea.  I was feeling guilty because I hadn't finished the yoyo quilt and here I was starting a more traditional patchwork quilt.  So I decided to put them together.  A 6 inch embroidered square padded and with a simple quilting pattern surrounded by purple yoyos!  Here are some of the layout pictures for the quilt.

Yoyo quilt with 6 inch embroidered centers.  This pattern is
Wild Pansy from Needle Painting Embroidery.
Test layout.
There is still a problem with color to work on.  The purple yoyos are great but will they look right surrounding a peach colored rose?  So maybe just embroidering purple flowers would look better.  Another idea would be to make yoyos that match the embroidery colors and do a kind of staggered rainbow.  Whatever colors I decide on I do want to work some green into the yoyos area.  I was thinking of adding green leaves by using the pointed petal tool by Clover.  Just a little reshaping should make it look like a leaf.  I am getting very excited about this quilt.  My estimates are 20 embroidered blocks and 600 yoyos.  Lots of fun or work which ever way you look at it.
This morning I planted some interesting plants we found at KMart.  Orange mint, red geranium and a pink brandwine tomato plant.  We also got a bee balm, greek oregano and fern leaf lavender but I haven't found the right place to put them yet.  The bee balm is a Monarda which is very invasive so it may go into a large pot or planted on the edge of the yard.  The flowers attract butterflies and bees, we have very few of these visiting so hopefully we will see a lot more.
Fern leaf lavender.  It has very tiny flowers.
Greek oregano and bee balm.
The clematis is finally blooming.  So very pretty and longer blooming then I hoped for.

Another clematis flower.
Fuchsia in the shade garden in front. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yoyo Quilt

Today I was reading on facebook and my niece posted that she was making a yoyo quilt.  So I suggested that we encourage each other by posting how many yoyos we made in a week.

Yoyos for quilt.

So I started making yoyos and made 20 today.  It really helps when you have someone to make something with.  Maybe I will finish the quilt this year.  I also bought some white cotton to embroider with needle painting lessons.  I hope to embroider 6.5 inch squares and then surround them with squares of printed fabric.  But one quilt at a time.  Thanks to my niece for the challenge it helps to keep me focused.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fun Hat

Today after walking in the pool we went to Kmart to look for some more plants for the garden.  However I found a silly hat to decorate.  It was on sale and it fit so I got it to decorate.

Wedding style hat.
I wanted to start making silk flowers for the hat but instead I started a knitted shawl.  Monday when I was out I asked for help with a knitted lace pattern.  So I needed to cast on and do the knitted rows before the lesson tomorrow.  The pattern is from "Knitted Lace of Estonia" by Nancy Bush.  It is a small shawl with a lily of the valley pattern.  In return I am going to show how to start a crochet project without making a chain to work into.  So the hat will have to wait a bit so that I can try knitting lace again.  Hopefully I will get the hang of reading the graph.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This Last Weekend

Actually had a really nice weekend.  Saturday I went to the EGA meeting.  They were teaching how to cover candy tins and how to twist embroidery floss into cording.  Instead of attending the class I started a bargello needlepoint in pink and green wool.  This was the first needlepoint that I had worked on in over 30 years.  It wasn't that easy to get started but it got easier as I progressed.  The trick is to copy the pattern line and then repeat it making sure that you are going over the correct number of threads.

Bargello needlepoint.
The pattern is so easy that it only took me three days to get it finished.  Needlepoint doesn't have the appeal that it once did but that doesn't mean it isn't pretty and useful.  This piece is probably going to me made into a pillow.  Today I got out all the needlepoint books I have which is only six.  The book "More Needlepoint Designs" by Lou Gartner is very interesting.  The author's goal is to teach needle workers to chart or paint their own designs.  To trust in their ability to stitch without a specific "this color stitch goes here".  It is an interesting book and it has a lot of pattern outlines to start stitching.  It also has color photo to help determine colors and shading.  It is a lot like painting with a needle.
Sunday I put in beans and watermelons into the garden.  The garden is slowly it is getting bigger and we now have several tomatoes.  I also started some cantaloupe seeds sprouting.
Tomato plant.
Here is a picture of a new orchid.  Sally is a lovely pink shade.
Sally she is small but lovely.
Flowers pots in an wash tub.  This was to disguise a drain in the yard and be easy to move.
After weeks on a wheat less diet I had pizza from the best deli in town and watched "Red Dwarf" on Netflix.  I should have been eating toast but I love pizza more!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Yet Another Day

Went out in the early morning and fertilized and watered all the tomatoes.  Our first tomato is growing!  We usually don't get them started this early because the bees are still fertilizing the lavender.  The tomato plants aren't very large yet but they are getting flowers.  So with some luck we will be getting a large number of tomatoes by July.  I like to dehydrate the extras in the oven and free them for winter.

Yesterday we went to the local OSH store and got some beautiful purple pansies and mixed colored cosmos.  This is the first time that I have had this much ambition to have a flower bed in many years.  Usually there are hundreds of four o'clock plants in the flower bed.  So to fit other flowers in I've been weeding out a lot of four o'clock plants.  So I decided to plant the cosmos to feed other small birds.  The tiny finches like to sit on the cosmos and eat the seeds directly, sometimes upside down!  To say the least we see a lot of humming birds with all the four o'clock plants.  We also have a purple flowering bush that attracts humming birds even more than the four o'clock plants.  So there will be plenty of nectar for all visitors.  I've left some four o'clock plants in with the other flowers to fill in the back of the flower bed.

The little finches seem to have used the supply of coconut fibers I left them.  Perhaps I will put out some of the small ends left from silk ribbon embroidery.  Those finches will have a really cool nest!  Most birds in this area have three nesting seasons so they are very busy!

Last week I had a run in with a spider and spent 5 hours in the emergency room getting antibiotics.  Good thing I got up around midnight and looked in the mirror.  My mouth was so swollen and twisted that I couldn't form works.  It took 6 days for the swelling to go down and I have only started to eat solid foods again.  I was to tired most of the time to craft.

Just a couple days ago I started working on a cupcake.  The idea is to make some for an Altrusa tree.  Here is a picture of my first try.

Close-up of cupcake.
The cupcake is made from felt with a decorated satin top and has a red velvet bottom.  Then the icing on the side is made from a sheer white ribbon stitch in zigzag runching.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Day in the Garden

Today I worked on a very small garden, weeded and planted 6 tomato plants.  Fell and hit my knee and hip both of which are trying to persuade me not to move tomorrow.  Think I will listen to them both! 

In the evening I saw two tiny finches.  One was in a tree and the other was tearing apart one of the hanging baskets!  It took a minute then I realized they wanted the coconut liner for nesting.  So I tore up some extra liner and left it for them to collect.  Now I know why some of the baskets have holes!

Haven't done any crafting at all today.  But I did find an out of print pattern book called "Weldons Flower Embroidery".  It is a really nice little book with patterns for shaded embroidery, cross stitch, and wool.  Lots patterns and instructions on flower and bird embroideries.  I intent to read it tonight if I can stay awake!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Don't Know Where to Start

Here it is June 1st already!  A whole month without posting, I've just been feeling quiet lately.  Sort of a brain vacation.

Usually this time of year is full of working on the fair entries.  I signed up and then decided to drop out.  Usually I redo the entries thinking they aren't nice enough and end up ruining the projects.  So instead I'm leaving them alone!  That leaves me a whole month of working on something new.

The garden is full of tomato plants.  The trees have lots of hanging baskets of herbs.  The basil and catnip are hanging out of the way of snails and cats.  Lee bought a clematis for me and I started it growing on the wisteria. 
I've also been working on a small potted garden under the olive tree.  So far I have two miniature roses, two fuchsias, snapdragons, violets, peppermint, lilies, white potato vine, hollyhocks, narcissus, gladiola, and three orchids.  I only had two orchids but they needed to be split.  The one was so pot bound that all the wood chips had been consumed.  So with some ambition and a heavy knife I worked on seperating it into two plants.  Even with the roots curled they were over 30 inches long.  Needless to say $8,000 and an emergency MRI later I now have them separated.  Thank goodness I have insurance again.  Still the copay would have bought a lot of orchids.  So no more wrestling with huge orchids.  Yesterday I pulled out some irises to make a small herb garden.  Hit myself hard in the head with the unpointy end of a pitch fork.  Happy about that!  So now there are herbs closer to the kitchen.  Now to find homes for the displaced irises.  They are small, 18 inches tall, and a beautiful deep purple.  They even bloom twice a year with extra care.  They are prolific and all my friends are trying to get rid of extras from irises I gave them years ago!
Embroidering has been my main hobby lately.  Working on surface embroidering mostly and slowly working through the needle painting book.  Just like painting it takes time to get the hang of shading and highlights.  But I am getting tired of working small pieces.  So I am considering making embroidered quilt squares, just need to find some nice fabric.  My butterfly  making has gotten better.  Using finer wire and cotton and silk sewing threads together seems to be the best combination.  I made a butterfly to put on my name tag for EGA meetings. 
Stumpwork butterfly.
Butterfly closeup.
A friend found a great deal on real French bias silk ribbon. She got me four rolls for $24.00 and the rolls have 28 yards each and are 1 1/2 inches wide.  Also the YLI 4mm silk ribbon was on sale for 50 cents.  I've never had an abundance of silk ribbon to play with before.
French bias silk ribbon.
Green and pink striped silk ribbon.
The green and pink ribbon was a challenge to work into a flower.  At first I didn't think I could use the ribbon.  After looking at ribbon flower books I decided to tried making it into a carnation.
Silk ribbon carnation.

The ribbon works beautifully as a carnation making it's own calyx with it's green stripe.
The carnation looks so real it is hard not to sniff it.  The other ribbons will make lovely roses when
I get some time to work on them.

Currently I am working up samples for a beginners embroidery class.  Hopefully I will be able to help someone learn to embroider.