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When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!

Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.

Sound familiar?

Hand dyed yarn by Eleanor Shadow
This hand dyed yarn looks great at first glance, but in reality it’s “muddy” – the colours have somehow blended into each other in a not-so flattering way.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.

The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.

The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?

(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)

 


 

Silk cocoons

 

A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).

I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.

Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.

The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.

The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.

I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.

It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.

 


 

Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?

While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!

I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).

One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.

The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!

The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.

The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.

Detail of Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated as sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.

I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.

My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…

 


 

That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?

 

Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.

Enjoy your weekend!

OVWSG Fibre Poker Felting Challenge

OVWSG Fibre Poker Felting Challenge

You’ve seen the piece I was working on for this.

I still have not decided what I what to do. It was suggested that using some stabilizer on top might help keep the stitches on the surface and not have them sink in and look quilted. so I thought I would make a new background and give the stabilizer a try.

I picked some colours and carded up a little bat to use to felt a new background.

When it was finished I thought it looked like the water in Monet’s pond. I decided to add a waterlily. I looked up some google and traced the outline onto some was away stabilizer.

For thread, I decided to use some maybe real and maybe artificial silk. some of it says silk on it and some Artsyl rope. I got this thread in a barely started embroidery kit at a garage sale. I don’t know how old it is but the company that made it stopped manufacturing silk in 1911. It does seem to have continued to sell thread and ribbon but I don’t know if they also sold artificial silk. I haven’t burn tested it.  I don’t mind if it’s artificial, it’s pretty.

 

The thread is “2 ply” in appearance but each ply is made up of 5 individual threads. I used one ply for the outline and 3 of the smaller threads for leaf definition.

Onto the petals

As you can see my stabilizer started to fall apart. I am sure it’s because the underlying piece is so soft and squishy, it tears. I had the reference picture so it all worked out.  I pulled most of the tattered bits away. the last thing was the yellow center.

 

And after washing away the rest of the stabilizer. Not too bad if you don’t look too close. that should be just about the actual size of the piece.

I was happy with it even if it was a little plane. than after sowing it to some friends on Zoom, they suggested a dragonfly or some bead water drops. I didn’t feel like making a dragonfly so I decided on fish.

I added 3 koi fish around the lily. I think it worked well. I decided against the water drops because it’s an outline. Seeing it as a picture I can see I need to rub out the needle marks.

 

I enjoyed making this piece and the stabilizer did help keep the stitches on the surface so that was a good idea. I want to try the other kind of stabilizer. The stuff that looks more like plastic wrap. After chatting with a friend we think perhaps a layer of the plastic stuff and a layer of my stuff might work best. Now I just have to find some of the plastic stuff.

Not much progress yet

Not much progress yet

It has been a very busy week and I am afraid I do not have much to report.

I added a few rocks to the picture and I built up the bottom edge to be more feeling of depth. it looks a little better in person but not sure if it was worth the effort, but maybe.

I still have to add a thread or fine yarn element. I thought a few dandelions around the rocks would work. I found a nice dark green variegated thread that Jan had picked up for me.

This is a needle felted picture it is squishy, not flat and “solid” like when I wet felt a picture and then add definition or extras with a needle. I think it may make things difficult.  I made a few stitches, making sure to keep them loose because I don’t want the flowers quilted into the picture. As you can see in my mind these are large rocks, good for sitting on and watching the sea.

That did not work. It still looks quilted and I think the thread is too thin. they may have looked better with flower tops but still like they are in the rock rather than beside the rock.  At least they were easy to take out.

Fine yarn is next up. Fine is a relative term, right? Yes, I am sure it is. This doesn’t have a label but I am sure it’s a Briggs and Little sport single.

 

I will try this next but I think it may be too thick. If this doesn’t work I will look for some green embroider floss. I am sure I have some. If that doesn’t work I may try to think of some stumpwork maybe, something else  I could do separately with thread and then attach to the picture or maybe embrace the squishyness and quilt a simple flower or bird outline, large to cover the whole thing. Or maybe add some fabric like Ruth did and stitch on that.

And one more thing, to make Jan and Bernadette jealous.  My mom bought me a basket.

My husband said, “we don’t have a cobra.” I have a feeling he wants it to stay that way. LOL

 

Autumn Nuno Slow Stitch Update

Autumn Nuno Slow Stitch Update

It’s amazing how my slow stitch project is moving along and almost complete. Twenty to thirty minutes of stitching per day definitely works for me and even though I have been working on this project for a long time, it has been a fulfilling project. I have enjoyed seeing the piece slowly fill in with thousands of stitches.

Here’s where I was the last time I showed you the piece in mid June.

I added a lot of foreground stitching. The bit on the top left shown here is still a little pale for me. It jumps forward in front of the foreground bush in my eye. So there will be a little more stitching there.

 

I added some running stitch in the distant trees with a “grey” thread. It leans very heavily to purple but really works well to give these tree trunks a bit more definition and to move them further into the distance.

Here is where I am now. It’s getting very close to finished. A few more areas of darkness perhaps. Lindsay asked me a while ago how I decide when it’s finished. What I do with a piece like this is to get to the point where I think it might be finished and then I hang it up on the wall in my studio so I can study it. I look at the piece from different distances and different angles. I give it some time to “rest” and then I add what I think is still needed based on the assessment I have done. Or I pronounce that it’s finished. What do you think?

Slow Stitch Update and a Celebration

Slow Stitch Update and a Celebration

The last time I showed you my Autumn Nuno slow stitch piece was back in April and it looked like this:

I have been continuing to stitch on this piece for 15-20 minutes per day. I have been concentrating on the bottom left corner and bottom foreground to fill in the vegetation/foliage in those areas.

Here’s a close up of that area which has the first pass of seed stitch and just needs some of the lighter areas filled in a bit more. I also think I need to evaluate the values once I’m happier with the foreground.

And here’s what the full piece currently looks like. You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them. So progress is being made, albeit slowly. I’m still enjoying the daily practice of hand stitching, adds a little zen to my day.

One year ago today, we adopted this little guy from Mission Valley Animal Shelter. His name is Edgar and he was a stray so we don’t know his breed or his age, but he has added so much joy to our lives. I thought you might want to help Edgar celebrate his adoption day and see how he is living his best life.

Olive Sparrow Giveaway Winners and Second quarter challenge, stitching all done

Olive Sparrow Giveaway Winners and Second quarter challenge, stitching all done

First things first:

The winner of the 100 grams of premium washed Teeswater locks is Sttamburo

The winner of the 150 grams of Swiss mountain batt in your choice of colour(s) is Darrel

Congratulations! Monica will contact you via the email you provided.

Now my stuff

My heat erasable pens arrived. They come as a pack of refills and some empty pens. I got one that came with 4 colours, white, red, blue and black. That should cover all possibilities.

I picked the white. I think red would have worked too.

 

Onto the last part of the design. Diamonds were a popular repeating pattern. I better check to see if this will work the way I think it will. I did not do my usual quick sketch but using a ruler. Are you amazed?

Yes, that should work fine, real diamonds and not just squares on point. Now let’s see if those pens work. A straight line to work form. I may stitch that in too. I wasn’t sure it was going to work, even smooth felt is very textured.  The tendency when a pen doesn’t write is to press harder. That didn’t work. A light touch was much better.

 

 

A couple of weeks has passed since I did the lines. I decided to use yellow for the lines.

 

 

I really like how the yellow looks against the green but it didn’t look complete so I added some red and black french knots in the middle

 

Next was finishing the sides. I decided to use double-fold bias tape. I like double fold because it’s easy to sew on invisibly. the bias I like to use with felt is a fleece bias. It blends with felt so nicely but isn’t as bulky as using felt. I had black and green that would work. I chose the green as it was such a good match.

If I had easy access to my machine I would have stitched the first side with it. You can stitch in the ditch of the fold and it’s invisible. That is the way I do it when I put a bias tape on the brim of a hat. As it was, I just stitched both sides by hand.

 

I think it looks good.

 

Next is sewing the pockets and filling them up. I should have that done by next time. I have almost a whole month to get it done and still be on time.

 

 

My 2nd Quarter Challenge is Progressing

My 2nd Quarter Challenge is Progressing

I’ve been working on the stitching for my basket organizer.  The first part I did was the waves. I liked them but I didn’t like how the edges were fuzzy.

 

I went looking in my stash for the right size yarn to edge it. I found my stash of Briggs and Little Sport singles. I picked up several colours cheap from a weaver who had finished a project.  I picked black to outline the waves.

 

I used the outline stitch. I used the tutorial in this great stitch dictionary. https://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/stitch/stem-stitch/outline-stitch/

You can see how the wool yarn is raised adding texture as well as definition. I enjoyed following the curves with my stitching. more fun than straight lines. I only

And finished. I like it much better the black outline really makes the waves pop.

Next was the rectangles on the flap at the front bottom.  I used some red this time.

At first, I thought I would do a Fly stitch up the middle of each one.  My stitching was really uneven. I didn’t like it, so out it came.

I decided to put two lines up the rectangle. the stitching isn’t fabulous because I had no line to follow. the only thing I had to mark it was chalk. I did try it to see how it would brush out and it was really hard to get off the felt it wanted to move further into the felt rather than come off.

And after I cut off all the tails.

So far so good. I have a plan for the last part of the decorating. It will need lines for me to follow so I will have to wait for the heat erase marking pens I ordered. After that is the really hard part……….. the finishing.

Autumn Nuno Slow Stitch Update

Autumn Nuno Slow Stitch Update

I haven’t updated you recently on my slow stitching project. I hate to admit it but after my last post in January, I got out of the habit of daily stitching. It’s amazing how easy it is to stop doing something and then find it hard to get back into the habit again. But I did start stitching again towards the end of March and I have made a little progress.

Here’s the entire piece now. I have added some darker values in the foreground trees, added a few leaves down in the trunk areas and stitched some of the “shrubbery” to the left of the trees. I also added some darker values in the middle ground area to give it more depth.

Here’s a closer look at the area to the left of the trees. I am planning on continuing the stitching in the foreground areas to give the look of bushes and undergrowth. So the slow stitching will continue. I could probably forgo the stitching in the foreground but I like the look of the dense stitching and want to cover the entire surface. It’s not about the time spent on this one but the journey.

I thought it would be interesting to compare a very early photo on the left to the way it looks now on the right. A bit different?

 

A new picture: A lighthouse

A new picture: A lighthouse

I seem to be in picture mode. I wanted to do something with water but not necessarily as the main feature. I thought about a beach and that was my intention as I started but as was looking for pictures and some of the cliff-top pictures really took my eye.

I used a nice thick piece of wool prefelt that I bought at the Almont Fiberfest a few years ago. It is 4inches by 6 inches, 10cm by15cm  I think it is wet felted on a flatbed machine. It is course wool and more solid (felted) than the thin needle felted prefelt we usually get. It is much closer to being felt.  I would love to get some more but don’t know where to find it.  If you know let me know.

I start with what is farthest away, sky and water. When I do sky, it’s always cloudy and I have to do a google search to remember if the sky is darker or lighter near the horizon. The wool I used for the water has a few bits of sparkle in it. I think that’s what is making the white dots in the picture.

 

Then some land and the rocks. I used a mix of 3 grays so the rock wouldn’t be flat.

Added the lighthouse and the path

 

Then I used throwers waist to make the white water around the rocks and some whitecaps. At this point I gave it a light felting mostly to sink the silk into the felt so it didn’t look so much on the surface. . There was still more needling to do though. I added the top of the lighthouse and started the stitching.

 

And as usual when you start stitching you start unstitching. The grass stitches here were much too small. The path needed changing as well as being far too straight it was much too wide.  you can see how all the extra stabbing pulled the piece in even though I was poking up and down and not sidewise.  I stretched it out.

Back to stitching. I am using 4 colours for the grass, 2 shades of gold and 2 of green.

 

I added some small blue dots for flowers.

 

Then the foreground grass

 

Then some french knots for more flowers. I used a couple of shades darker blue for the foreground.

 

 

This is a close up of the stitching.

 

That’s a lot of pictures but I hope you enjoyed seeing the progression.  Stitching really helps a picture pop. And as I promised picture without Sheep. I can do it. LOL

So a week has gone by since I wrote up this post ready for the 4th of February. After a comment from a friend, and looking at it after a break from working on it,  I decided to fiddle with it more.  First I ripped off the path it was far too white, I remade it with some light gray. I did want it to be distinct but not a lightning bolt from Zeus. I added a tiny little dock, not easy but that’s what I get for working small.  And the sky was too much open space so I added some birds, again very fiddley. I did add some slight shading to the lighthouse but it doesn’t really show in the picture the wight really reflects.

so here it finished again. I hope you like it.

 

 

 

Still Slow Stitching in the New Year

Still Slow Stitching in the New Year

The last time I updated you back in early November about my slow stitching project, this is what it looked like. I had started adding some leaves to the foreground trees.

I have been continuing my slow stitching over the holidays and it has been nice to sit down for 15-20 minutes a day and just do detached chain stitch in different shades of yellow, yellow-orange and orange. Ignoring any drama of the holidays or other issues that arose for a few minutes, calmed my mind.

Here’s how the trees are looking. I think that I will be adding a bit more orange but than I’m going to go back to the yellow shades.

Here’s what the full piece looks like now. It is definitely taking shape as a landscape. As I look at it in a thumbnail format, I can see that it still needs more dark values for shadowed areas but I like the progression. It’s interesting to me how the slow progression makes me look at it more closely and how the different colors affect each other. It’s been an interesting project and I imagine it will continue through most of this year.

What are your thoughts on a slow moving project? Do you get a Zen feeling or perhaps you are impatient and want to move on to a different project?

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