Jane Longstreth Update

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I have been rather sluggish with my stitching over the last year. Though I kept working on Jane, my heart was not in it and I just could not sit still long enough to focus. Moreover, it all seemed so pointless because each cross stitch project takes forever and all of my stuff and stash would become rubbish after I die anyway. Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten to enjoy the process – to lose oneself in simply creating something beautiful with color and design, and fabric and thread, without fretting about finishing and usefulness and tangible value – all those dreadful inhibitors of the artistic impulse.

Fortunately, my enthusiasm was renewed over the last two weeks when a friend took me to Stitches West – a yarn trade show held at a nearby convention center. Granted it had almost nothing to do with cross stitch but it felt very good to be among crafters and see all that fibre and color around me. And I discovered a Pat Carson’s needles, which are made by an elderly man in Japan. I like to think of them as magic needles because once I had them in my hand, I didn’t feel like putting my stitching down. Just like old times!

Some of the motifs in the Jane Longstreth are over one. The prospect of using regular thread over one was daunting but it was not as bad as I had expected. The leaves are outlined with stem stitch and supposed to be filled in with stem stitch too but I didn’t like the look (the leaf on the right).

So I stitched them with the Cretan stitch using the excellent instructions here and here. I am going to try doing the rest of them without the stem-stitch outline.

Here is where I stand on the sampler. Not significant progress since the last photo but I am happy to be just enjoying stitching again.

Pattern: The Jane Longstreth Sampler
Designer: Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College
Fabric: 38-ct Nacre by Gander
Threads: HDF silks
Started: August 21, 2015

Embroidery in Iceland – 3

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We have been visiting Iceland almost every year since 2006. One of my great delights during these trips is seeing embroidered pieces given pride of place in homes, farmhouses and hotels. This is particularly observed in the countryside and smaller towns. In the summer of 2012 we stayed at Ytra-Áland, a very remote farmhouse in north-east Iceland. They had a very old traditional piece hanging on the wall by the entrance.

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Colors in these old Icelandic works were muted and subtle because the threads were dyed using natural ingredients instead of chemical dyes.

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It’s not a cross stitch. Not sure what the stitch is called but it appears to be a simple vertical stitch. I love the movement and flow in this design!

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The fabric is a gorgeous shade of brown, probably locally made and dyed. I have not seen it sold in any of the needlework stores I visited in Iceland, so I am guessing it is no longer made.

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This charming piece was hanging in one of the inside hallways. It is also stitched in the vertical straight stitch of varying length. ytra5-frameshop_1

I am looking forward to going back there some day and admiring these beautiful works at close quarters again.

Enchanted

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Jane was becoming a bit of a bore, so I decided to have some fun on the side with Kathy. Before anyone gets any wild ideas, here is my little extracurricular activity – Kathy Barrick’s Enchanted. I just love the simple joyfulness of this design and it’s a nice change from a sampler.

It didn’t take too long to select the fabric and colors. I wanted the fabric to be mottled; and I wanted to retain the original interplay of colors but make them more saturated. The only challenge was the golden leaves/flowers – I need something that won’t get lost in the fabric but not so dark that it competes with the deer. Contenders are Haywains, Kodiak Bear, Rum Scullion, and Ochre. As I write this, I am wondering why I didn’t consider Cerveza.

I started in the middle because I was afraid the piece wouldn’t be centered properly if I started on the upper left corner as usual.

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Pattern: Enchanted
Designer: Kathy Barrick
Fabric: 36-ct HDF linen Zymurgy
Threads: HDF silks – BeSeeded; others TBD
Started: September 16, 2016

Jane Longstreth Progress

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I have been plodding along on Jane. I love how the colors have come together.  I got started on the specialty stitches in the bottom border. Youtube tutorials on the stem stitch were very useful. The chart instructions are to trace the outline for the leaves with a pencil using the dark diagrams provided, and then fill in with stem stitches. I did this for a couple of leaves, then got tired and just stitched using my eyes as a guide. jane-frameshop

I made a mistake on the inside blue border: on the right side, I kept stitching the ovals mindlessly and forgot the straight line in the middle. I realized it only when I fell one stitch short for the last oval at the bottom-right corner. Normally, I would not have bothered to correct it, but in this case, that straight line is needed to accommodate the large flower (see the border on the left). So I frogged. Things dragged a bit after that. To perk things up, I started a new project on Friday (will post it later).

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Pattern: The Jane Longstreth Sampler
Designer: Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College
Fabric: 38-ct Nacre by Gander
Threads: HDF silks
Started: August 21, 2015

New HDF Examplars

Family matters, including an unexpected death of a close family member this summer, have kept me away from this blog and from stitching in general. I had been looking at my threads, linens, patterns, and reading other stitching blogs but just did not feel like stitching. Slightly alarmed by this, I forced myself to stitch this weekend and while I didn’t get the same pleasure as before, it still felt good. I am hoping that doing a little bit every day will take me back to the old pleasures. Today as I was clearing up space on my computer, I came across photos of the new Examplar cones that I had shot when Vikki first dyed them. I am posting them here for reference. Post is pic-heavy!

Examplar Azurite: ExAzurite-FrameShop

Examplar Blush Cherries:ExBlushCherries-FrameShop

Examplar Buckwheat PorridgeExBuckwheatPorridge-FrameShop

Examplar ConiferExConifer-FrameShop

Examplar Crimson RoseExCrimson-Rose-FrameShop

Examplar Curry FavellExCurryFavell-FrameShop

Examplar DovecoteExDovecote-FrameShop

Examplar Dried HydrangeaExDriedHydrangea-FrameShop

Examplar Fantasy BirdExFantasyBird-FrameShop

Examplar Fire BrickExFireBrick-FrameShop

Examplar Hedgerow ExHedgegrow-FrameShop

Examplar LavenderExLavender-FrameShop

Examplar Ocean FoamExOceanFoam-FrameShop

Examplar OleanderExOleander-FrameShop

Examplar PeacockExPeacock-FrameShop

Examplar PeahenExPeahen-FrameShop

Examplar PrimroseExPrimrose-FrameShop

Examplar RainbowExRainbow-FrameShop

Examplar RosebushExRosebush-FrameShop

Examplar SeashoreExSeashore-FrameShop

Examplar Summer DuskExSummerDusk-FrameShop

Examplar Tussey MusseyExTusseyMussey-FrameShop

Examplar Weeping WillowExWeeping-Willow-FrameShop

Examplar Wooded Glen ExWoodedGlen-FrameShop

Jane Longstreth

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I had put down my needle for a few months after a death in the family. For a while it didn’t feel like I would ever get back to it again. Fortuitously though, a friend gave me this sampler pattern and I found the verse so comforting that I was moved to start stitching this beautiful piece.

Great God thy name be blest
Thy goodness be ador’d
My soul has been distress’d
But thou hast peace restor’d

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Pattern: The Jane Longstreth Sampler
Designer: Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College
Fabric: 38-ct Nacre by Gander
Threads: HDF silks
Started: August 21, 2015

Wagtail

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This is the second in the One Day Wonder Challenge series.  I failed again.  With young visitors as house guests, I am getting very little uninterrupted stitching time.  I enjoyed this little stitch though.

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Pattern: Wagtail (free)
Designer: Kissy Cross
Fabric: Zweigart 40ct Cream
Threads: HDF silks (Examplar Primitive Black, Examplar Pussy Willow, NightSmoke 5303, Wrasse Green 3317, Gandy Dancer 1109 & 1105, SSF in BeVexed and Black)
Started: April 26, 2015
Finished: May 2, 2015

Spring

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Someone started a One Day Wonder Challenge at a stitching forum that I frequent.  Based on a selected theme, you have to pick a design and stitch it in one day – the timeframe runs from midnight to midnight.  I was immediately drawn to the idea.  It would break the monotony of my current WIP, provide the excitement of a new start and the gratification of a quick finish, and I would put my HDF sample tag skeins to good use.

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So I selected a small pattern from my voluminous freebie folder.  It was only 43w x 42h.  Husband was away, I had the house to myself, it was a Sunday, and I had no other distractions.  Easy peasy.

Except that the design had 21 colors. I was bored as soon as I had started.

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Here is what I accomplished by the end of the day:

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Then the week rolled around and I had to work, cook, eat, watch TV, read my Ken Follett tome, and do all sorts of things to avoid stitching this aggravating piece.  I ploughed through it on three additional days, about an hour at a time. It was like pulling teeth. I finally finished it on Saturday.  Now I see why it was called a challenge.

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Pattern: Spring 2002 (free)
Designer: Whispered by the Wind
Fabric: Zweigart 40ct Cream
Threads: HDF silks (Examplar Pettyfog, Kodiak Bear 5129, 5133, 5141, Alluvium 3401, 3405, Velvet Midnight 2151, 2153, Imperial Green 3327, 3331, Sue Purple 6103, 6105, 6107, Sea Wrack 3429, 3431, 3433, Cerveza 4141, Fish Pepper 4421, BitterBloom 4447, Phlox 1337, 1341, Backstitch in SSF OMOT Soil and OMOT Surf )
Started: March 29, 2015
Finished: April 4, 2015

Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten

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I loved fairy tales as a child and I still do.  Back then the stories were an escape into imaginary worlds where everything turned out okay in the end – the evildoers got their just deserts and the good ones lived happily ever after.  As an adult, I am fascinated by their subtext, and the way the exaggerated characters often contain a kernel of true human behavior.  So when Kirsten of Kissy Cross showed her fairy tale charts on her blog, it brought back many nice memories of childhood and I knew I had to stitch them all.

The first in the series is The Town Musicians of Bremen by the Grimm brothers.  The story titles in the charts are in German. I considered translating to English but then decided that they sounded more romantic in German (for example, who could disagree that Dornröschen carries a ring to it that Sleeping Beauty doesn’t?).  But I did have some trouble with German spelling 🙂

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I stitched the entire design in Vikki Clayton’s Rubbed colors – a limited edition series of 60 colors that she did in 2013.  I am glad I collected the entire series because they are incredibly lovely.  Just look at the Rubbed Grey on the donkey!

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The house turned out darker than expected and I initially fretted over it.  But now I like it because it looks a little more sinister than the original design.

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I am stitching all 6 blocks on a single piece of linen.  Next one will probably be Rapunzel.  Or maybe Little Red Riding Hood.

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Pattern: Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten
Designer: Kirsten Schmidt (Kissy Cross)
Fabric: HDF uneven 36x40ct Peach Butter
Threads: HDF silks (Rubbed Colors – Moss, Lime, Jade, Bronze, Brown, Sampler Brown, Chocolate Brown v1, Chocolate Brown v2, Hare, Dark Copper, Failed Orange, Grey, Ash, Silver v1, SSF in Black)
Started: Jan 1, 2015
Finished: February 22, 2015

 

 

 

Reminiscing on Old Finishes

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I am going through my old posts on a blog I briefly maintained on the HDF site before I started this blog.  The entry on May 3, 2010 ran like so:

Here is my progress on the project that I am stitching in the Marquoir group (pattern is by Jean Louis Grandsire). I have completed 9 parts. The pattern is being released in 36 parts.  

I am using Examplar White Chocolate and a mystery dark color. Do you notice the difference in shades of the dark floss? I kitted this when I was an HDF newbie and had no idea that the dates on skeins represented dye-lots. I had 5-6 skeins of this color in dbags and I could have sworn they were all the same shade – I looked at them several times in daylight. It does not bother me yet, but I am a bit worried how the final piece may look awkward. Should I frog? 

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Eventually I decided to keep calm and stitch on without ripping the offending parts.  The piece turned out just fine.  It’s been almost five years now and I still agonize about color choices but I have stopped wringing my hands over minor changes in shades and dye lots; in fact, I welcome them as they break the monotony of a color and add interest to the piece.  Here is finished work.

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Pattern: Carré Coeur
Designer: Jean Louis Grandsire
Fabric: 40ct Newcastle Flax
Threads: HDF silks (Examplar White Chocolate and a mystery maroon)
Started: December 28, 2009
Finished: April 17, 2011