Friday, March 27, 2020

the march of the penguins


This week has been very strange hasn't it?  We've been settling into our new routines and way of being, learning to work around the others in our household so that everyone can do what they need to.  We've set up our guest bedroom as an office for my husband.  My two adult children are both at home and taking online college classes for the rest of the school year.  I'm teaching a middle school costume design class via Zoom. No actual costumes will get made but there will be lots of research and designing. It's a major adjustment for everyone. 

I've been struggling a bit with being able to concentrate on anything for long.  I've also been dealing with an asthma flare-up triggered by seasonal allergies (everything is blooming here in California) and fueled by anxiety.  I have some more meds now thanks to a video call with my doctor who shared how stressed he and his colleagues are and how he goes home as little as possible to protect his family.  How thankful I am for our medical professionals right now.  What a task they face. 




I have been stitching though and I've been working on these penguin pincushions.  These are papa emperor penguins with their chicks.  This design uses something called thread painting, where you use different colors or shades of thread and blend them.  For the yellow on the papa penguin I used three shades of yellow and one of orange and used just one strand of each.  I'm no expert but I've gotten better with practice.  I've found this book to have very clear instructions and examples of thread painting.  





The sides of these pincushion design are grey and have icy ocean waves with tiny silvery fishes.  When my children were little we had a membership to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the penguins were always a favorite.  The penguins they have are not emperor ones like these but my daughter had a bit of a penguin obsession so we watched all the penguin movies!  




I have these mostly all stitched up and ready for stuffing now and when finished they will be part of a future Etsy shop update.  











Monday, March 23, 2020

how to finish an embroidery hoop for hanging

This morning I finished my hoop ready for hanging on my gallery wall and I thought I'd share how I usually do that.  




I remove the linen from the hoop I use for actually doing the embroidery.  I use that purple plastic one as it is really sturdy and holds the fabric really taut.  The wood hoop is the same size so I simply placed the linen in the wooden hoop and tightened it up, making sure the heart was centered and the clamp was at the top because I use that to tie the ribbon or twine to for hanging.  The next step is to trim the linen and glue it to the inside of the wooden hoop as shown.  Don't use gobs of hot glue and be careful as it's hot and you'll be pressing the fabric into the glue with your fingers.  I recently found a hot glue gun on Amazon that causes less of those crazy strings and doesn't drip when it's resting, I think it was just called a "no drip" hot glue gun - it was a couple of dollars more than a regular one but I'm very happy with it. 




I gave this a good going over with a sticky roller - I have a white cat!


The next step is to cut a felt circle to fit the back of the hoop.  Some people like to glue this in to cover the back of the embroidery.  I like to stitch mine as shown in the photos.  It's not hard, just a bit fiddly around where the hoop clamp is.  I just like how it looks when it is stitched.   



I've hung my hoop on my gallery wall.  I totally meant to add the date on the back but forgot so I may embroider a little label and add that, not that I'm likely to forget March 2020!  






Saturday, March 21, 2020

embroidery for strange times

These are strange times and most of us are struggling to deal with our own new realities.  Maybe like me, you are under a "shelter in place" order or maybe you are voluntarily self isolating.  Whatever, it's likely you are living a different life right now and that can be stressful.  I'm finding it hard to concentrate for long so I'm filling my days with things that take smaller chunks of time.  I've been baking more and stitching in between other chores and activities.  

One of the things I've been working on is an embroidery pattern by @tinkerellen on Instagram.  It's a very simple pattern available in her Etsy shop for $1 and my first decision was background fabric.  I really like stitching on linen and I had these three colors.  Since I knew I'd choose bright, clean colors of floss I decided to go with the black linen.  If you don't have linen a low volume quilting cotton would work great or any plain cotton.  




I sketched the pattern freehand onto the black fabric because I knew I wouldn't stick to it exactly.  I'm incapable of following a pattern as it is written 😂.  I knew I'd be adding felt flowers, sequins and maybe beads.  In my mind I could see this as a bright Spring like embroidery with that section of running stitch as a burbling stream, fed by snowmelt and crystal clear.  The flowers would be pink and purple and the leaves, the bright greens of early Spring.




I added my felt flowers and interspersed them with embroidered ones. Then I filled the spaces between with french knots because they are my favorite stitch and I can never have too many!



I really like using variegated thread for this type of project.  It looks so good against this black linen and the repetition of stitches really shows off the color variance.  Instead of a running stitch for the "stream" I decided on chain stitch and I worked the rows really close together because this gives such a lovely texture.  



If you look closely you will see a bit of metallic thread for some watery sparkle!  This project is all about using what you have on hand and I have a pretty good stash of floss - it's been fun to use it!  You'll see some sequins here too, these are so pretty and very sparkly.  I used lots more french knots (um my favorite stitch!) to fill in between the leaves and then black french knots between the flowers on the right.  I know, black on black - what was I thinking?  It was hard on my eyes but again, the texture is awesome!  





In my next post, I'll share how I like to finish the back of an embroidery hoop.  If you'd like to stitch a long, check out @tinkerellen on Instagram.  Those of us who are participating are using the hashtag #coronavirusrainbowheart.








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