Saturday, June 18, 2016

WIP SMALL - Barbara Campagna for Stitch Notions "Lollipop Flowers"

Shape.  Biomorphic shapes represent biological or organic things.  I really like these Lollipop Flowers because of the exaggerated circles which still look natural on top of the soft-edged rectangle backdrop.  They kind of look like fried egg flowers or futuristic mums.

Although the pattern calls for DMC threads, instead of following the colours exactly, what I did was find what threads I have on hand that is close to the model and experiment.  So far so good.  I used 2 threads over 4 squares and a variety of solids and overdyed ‘The Gentle Art’, ‘Weeks Dye Works’, and 'Crescent Colours' and I think it is working out well.  It looks like a have a new and different picture which is a bit refreshing because I am not sure exactly how it will end up.  A bit of a surprise I guess.  Kind of cool!
Although it is hard to see, I dyed the brown fabric with a slightly darker brown to see what kind of effect of one colour on top of another.  It is almost too subtle.  In fact, if I did not tell you about the dye, you probably may or may not have noticed.  However, despite the failed dye experience, the upside is that if you never experiment you will never learn what works and what does not work (generally and catering to your own personal tastes). 

Now, having said earlier about not following the pattern, I have nothing against stitching the pattern exactly as suggested especially if you have a kit because it would defeat the purpose of buying a kit.  However, if you have your own fabric (no matter what colour), separate floss (no matter what kind/colour), and some intrigue and imagination you can create your own picture that is unique and wholly individual that is not only a one-of-a-kind but a treasured piece from the didactic experience (didactic = intending to teach).

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Completed Cross Stitch - Crafty Like A Fox's "Spooky Friends/Fran and Frankie"

Hello fellow stitchy enthusiasts!  It has been some time hasn't it?  How are you?  Me?  Not bad thank you.  There have been a few changes and sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same.  I can tell you that I think this is truly, well.....true.

Full-circle change back to sameness can be good or bad.  Sorry if I seem a bit cryptic.  I really do not mean to be because as I am writing this I am thinking about my recent sacrifices seeking change and found a lot of no change at the end of it.  Wow.  I feel satisfied yet at the same time am experiencing a little of 'now what-i-ness?' type-thinking going on.  Have you ever felt the same or similar?

You may be asking so what does what I just mentioned have anything to do with my cross stitch?  Well, let me tell ya!  :)

One thing I really like about this picture is not only the design but the concept behind Frankenstein and his bride.  Both had experienced something that transformed them from something inanimate to animated.  In their case, it is electricity.  So I am thinking, well, what kind of jolt is needed in my life to reinvigorate and re-animate my life?  See where I'm going with this?

With M. Ali's recent passing, one of his quotes really stood out to me where he said "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."  Where does courage come from though?  Do you get this kind of strength from other people?  From yourself?  Is courage about being different or trying different things?  Jeez, I really do not know.  Do you?

This cross stitch fabric was dyed by me using Dylon dye on about 18-ct. Aida cloth, stitched 3 over 1, and specialty threads used:  DMC Precious metal effects E317, DMC Antique effects 415, DMC S414, DMC S762, and Kreinik fine braid #8 101.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Completed Cross Stitch – Lanarte’s “Art Nouveau” by Mucha-primrose


Alfonse Mucha is probably one of the most recognized Art Nouveau artists out there and has yet to be surpassed. Originally from the Czech Republic he lived from 1860-1939 and left behind a legacy of organically-styled paintings made for commercial advertising. 

His neoclassical look takes on a slightly ethereal style using long-haired females with shapely figures, flowing hair, billowing fabric and sensual flowers. Mucha’s feminine elements make his work ever so softly enchanting and also seems to draw in the viewer’s eyes into a fantastical world that only appears to exist for only for the briefest moment you are looking at the picture. 

 His work is currently showcased in Prague at the Baroque Kaunick√Ĺ Palace. I have not been there and since I love Mucha’s work so much I hope to visit there one day soon. Are you an art gallery type of gal or guy? How many different places have you been to or are you overdue for a little culture and diversity?

As far as fine art, I’ve been to the AGO in Toronto, ON; MOMA in NYC, NY; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA; the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg; FL, and have seen M.C. Esher’s work in Acton, OH during a tour. I’m sure I’m missing a few from this list.

As much as I love art and art galleries, and it would be awesome to visit them all I'd like to also make a personal pilgrimage to every planetarium out there. Planetariums seem to give more of an overall visual and audio experience than just a viewing experience (I mean, c’mon hey, there is only so much staring at paintings and sculptures one can do in a day right?) Visiting the Strasenburgh Planetarium was one of my best childhood memories growing up and I was very sad that Toronto closed the McLaughlin Planetarium many, many years ago. But I digress…..

Here is a little trivia for you: if you have watched or still watch the sitcom "Three’s Company" from the 80s, there are a total of 3 Mucha paintings in the apartment (but only 2 are visible in the majority of the episodes and the third is...well, guess you'll have to keep an eye out won't you?). Do you know the name of the British sitcom that "Three's Company" is based on? And....can you spot the Muchas? :o)

About the cross stitch: The fabric is 28-count white evenweave and the finished size is 9.45” x 23.62” and is part of Lanarte’s Classic Collection kit including all threads and one needle.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Completed Cross Stitch - Karen Marie Zabroski's "Seaside Cottages" for Sunset/Dimensions

Key West, Bahamas, opening scene (of Malibu) on Two and A Half Men as well as the lilting song spot of "By The Sea" in the movie Sweeney Todd.  All of the aforementioned scenes features glimpses of cute cottages or handsome homes near the ocean front.  Although in reality, it would be nice to own 11 islands like the magician David Copperfield and have as many fun sand huts as I want but, for now, this is all I can manage at the moment LOL :-)

What is really nice about this piece is that it captures the essence of the sun, sand and breeze with no hint of corporate, clock-driven, hectic "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" schedule and so far I have not found anything "too" about it.

You've heard of the art form of "too-ism" right?  No?  Sure you have..."It's too hot outside"..."I'm too full"..."She's too (?)"..."He's too (?)"..."It's too spicy"..."Oh, I don't do it too often"..."It's too expensive"..."School's too hard"..."The mountain's too high"...etc. (Maybe that's why the game show "The Price is Right" has lasted beyond Bob Barker?)

Seriously though, it seems (to me) that if anything is "too" in either a minimizing or maximizing fashion we seem to re-direct our attention towards something or someone that is not "too" much of anything in order to seek a comfortable equilibrium (with the exception of excess and pleasure until the after-effects kick in and the "too" cycle starts all over again).  We've alllllll been there! :-)

So, as I was saying, this cross stitch project isn't too hard or too difficult and despite that it is a larger piece, it has been very enjoyable to work on (with the exception of the time that I ripped out a lot of correct stitches that I miscounted as a result of being too tired...yeah, that realization wasn't pretty :0))

The finished piece will be 18" x 7" on 14-count white cotton Aida (22" x 11").  This is a kit, so all of the floss is provided along with an organizer and two needles.  One for stitching and one for couching.  What's couching?  Just fancy stitching on top of already fancy stitching for artistic effect.

As this work develops, you may notice a few details such as the light source (of the sun) seems to be of late afternoon (maybe 2-4 p.m.?) with a gentle wind travelling from west to east that you'll see compliment the direction of the sailboats, flying kite and swaying grasses.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Completed Cross Stitch - Rose Calton's "Pig Pals" for Leisure Arts

Are pigs really that big of a deal around here?  Like with March 1st coming up and being National Pig Day (USA midwest) and all....

While I think about March 1st and why it has been declared a National Pig Day, I will have to piggyback this idea off of another while I put my pigs in a blanket in the oven.

I wonder if my friend will like his birthday present of "101 Manly Uses for Bacon"? I put his present down next to my books of George Orwell's Animal Farm, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web and "The Three Little Pigs"to wrap up and send to him a little later.

As I sit at the kitchen table and sip my coffee, I watch the neighbour's boys toss around the pigskin for a while. Then I go into the other room and turn on the TV for a bit and see all of Jerry Springer's guests hurl pig-phrased obscenities at each other for about a minute (which is all I can stand).

Maybe I should clean up the house so it doesn't look like a pig sty even though I'd be happier than a pig in sh*t if I didn't and just sat around and ate like a pig though.  Ah, so what if I become fat as a pig?  Later, I'll just become a guinea pig and try a new diet next month or something.

What's that loud noise outside?  Oh, it's just someone on their HOG driving by, I guess that person is living pretty high off the hog if they can afford a motorcycle like a Harley Davidson. Meh, hogwash, those motorcycles aren't that expensive I guess.

My friend 'so-and-so' is calling me and she tells me about squealing on her friend at school while she confesses that it's all really just hog slop.  She says she has to go because she has to play a DVD for her kid about Winnie the Pooh and his pal Piglet. We finish talking and after the baking is done I decide to go hog wild and buy up a lot of left over chocolate from Valentine's Day.  I changed into my Miss Piggy/Muppets sweater then put my hair up into pigtails and got into the car.

While I'm driving to the store, I start to think about "This little piggy went to market..."  I'm sitting at the light and I look over and see another car's passenger hamming it up by telling some animated story to her driver.  I drive past a billboard promoting the movie Babe with the phrase in bold letters "That'll do pig, that'll do."

After shopping, I'm waiting in line and take out my cell to watch some old Looney Tunes cartoons with Porky Pig.  And of course, like a pig in a poke I give in to a few temptations of buying some magazines without really flipping through them first. As I leave the store I thought about that outfit I saw but thought if I bought it, it would make me look like I was making a silk purse out of a sow's ear because it wasn't my style.

As I'm driving home, there is a lot of traffic because of the usual road hogs and I wanted to change into another lane but the other driver wouldn't let me in and let me know it by yelling out "in a pig's eye!"

Once home, I put my spare change in my piggy bank and see my boyfriend is completely hogging the couch because he has a touch of the swine flu and is tired from bringing home the bacon.  I'm wearing a sweater that is too hot so I'm sweating like a pig and take it off and after sitting down I realize that I just cannot figure out why March 1st is National Pig Day.  Maybe when pigs fly it will come to me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Temp link update 1 - Mirabilia's Enchanted Mermaid


WIP LARGE - Mirabilia's "Enchanted Mermaid"

This is my (reboot) newest gigantic WIP.  Mirabilia's "Enchanted Mermaid".  I started it in Spring, 2012 but really didn't work on it over the summer, well, because it was summer!  This is my second attempted Mirabilia piece.  The first was "Winter Queen" but I abandoned it.  The reason I gave up was that I was still more of a novice back then but have built up more experience and confidence leading up to this pattern.  This one, though, I cannot wait to see finished with all of the fancy treasure beads and seed beads, etc.  I dyed the fabric but really kept it super light though....I was afraid of ruining it.  Since I am back in University full time now, I can only limit my cross stitch time while I am listening to audiobooks for school to maximize my time.  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Completed Cross Stitch – “Wicked Night” by Isabella Abbiati for The Primitive Hare

This piece is stitched on a 28-count Ivory-coloured Lugana cloth, dyed with Dylon’s Velvet Black and stitched with one thread over one.  The dyed piece's dappled effect reminded me of the moon’s surface at a magnified level and I found the pattern to match after the dye experiment. 
If you are not entirely familiar with your different cloth types for stitching just yet, Lugana cloth is an evenweave fabric.  Evenweave looks like a piece of graph paper and Lugana is a smaller version of Aida cloth, which is a larger evenweave.  The nice thing about working with an evenweave fabric is that it provides an easier way to count your stitching against the pattern, allow for overall stress-free stitch placement, and nice uniformity.

What makes Lugana different than Aida is not only the size difference (Aida is typically 14, 16, 18, or 22) and Lugana has a higher count such as 25 or 28 but there is also a texture and dye-ability difference which I will get into in a bit. 
But what do all these numbers mean?  Well, just like your computer monitor or TV, the more squares or dots per inch means a higher or stronger resolution and the less squares per inch means, well, it looks more blocky the bigger it gets (Minecraft is a good model).  Think of micro (small) vs. macro (big).  So, for example, in this piece there are 28 stitches per one inch.  The pattern size is 77H x 163W.  H = height and W = width.

By doing a little math, you can figure out how big or small your work will be.  For example, let’s divide 77 into 28 and 163 into 28.  Remember we are still working in inches, so the design will be 2.75”H and 5.82”W on a piece of 28-count Lugana cloth.  The size of the cloth I am using is 5” x 14” which is important to know as you need to have an extra few inches around your design.  If you don’t have a few extra inches of fabric around your design, you run the risk of it unravelling or making it hard to stitch and/or frame.  See how it works?  It’s called scalability.
Getting back to the graph paper example, it would translate to 28 squares per inch and in the case of a TV or computer monitor 28 dots or pixels per inch (dpi or ppi).

So, why isn’t there an Aida cloth that has a 25 or 28 count then?  It’s the ingredients used to make the cloth.  Aida is made out of 100% cotton which is of course good right?  It is but only to a degree.  The cotton fibers are too large to work with after a 22-count and the evenweave openings look more like pinholes instead of uniform squares making it very difficult to work with as far as stitching may go.

In order to get around this problem, Lugana cloth reduces the amount of the cotton blend and increases an intermingling of part viscose rayon.  The combination is roughly a 50/50 split give or take a 1%-2% difference between the blends.  Viscose is plant fiber and viscous rayon is plant fiber that goes through an additional chemical process to smooth out the fibers a bit more.  With smoother and more refined fiber, smaller weaves can be achieved.  The overall texture between Lugana and Aida is smoother/flatter versus slightly coarser and raised fibers respectively.
As you may have already guessed, plant fiber and cotton fiber absorb water and/or dye differently which definitely has an impact on your specific or experimental dye job of creating artistic-looking cloth for the background of your work.  Cotton will absorb liquid more quickly and rayon will slightly repel liquid before absorption.  Picking out the right cloth is a combination of personal preference and technical requirement for the piece you wish to wonderfully create and both fabrics are lovely to work with in their own special way.