Monday, May 31, 2010

I came up with a pattern that I call a coaster sampler pattern. It should work out to 3" x 3" when complete. I used a free graph paper download on the internet and chose 8/inch which means there are lines to help me know where to couch down consistently. I will work on this one off and on. Since it's all white, I guess it will need to be in color to see what I'm doing. I need to get some colored paper to print on.

I actually want to work on some leaves and petals and plan to print the pattern out when I get some colored paper because I want to use white thread for some of it.

I'm working on a few tatting projects at the moment, which you'll find on my tatting blog. I also need to get ready for a bobbinlace class in mid-June which means I need to redo my cookie pillow and wind bobbins and practice a few cross/twist thingies. LOL!

Cripes! Never enough time!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

No lacework this week. It's been hot and I've been tuckered every night, showering and then laying down for awhile. Then later I would just read or watch TV. It's a little cooler tonight for a change!

At the weekend, I was in the Half-Price Bookstore in Indy, hoping to find a bargain book on some kind of lace. For some reason, they haven't had anything beyond knitting and crochet for months. This time though, I found this needlelace book by Pat Earnshaw. I had borrowed a Pat Earnshaw book from the library so I was familiar with the name. The history and development of needlelace is interesting and she offers some good insights on developing a design. A lot of it is theory with not a lot of patterns or practice exercises but that's okay. I have very few needlelace books. This was only $7.98 plus I had a coupon for 15% off my entire purchase. Everything else I bought was clearance for $1 or $2.

I guess I did work on the rpl cord handle of a tatted bag one night. I only need to finish that and sew the lining. With the 3 day weekend coming up, I hope to finish at least one UFO!
I was up after midnight finishing this leaf! I was done shortly after midnight but then it took me nearly an hour to get it off the pattern. More about that later. I like this so much more than I expected. I tried photographing it in my palm as my scanner does not show the colors right.

This was to be another practice piece. I figured out quickly that I had couched it down too tightly. I didn't know that was even possible but by having the couching stitches so close and so tight, it was hard to manipulate the needle in the outline. My original intention was to use the same color thread and I used a dark green for my outline. THEN, I decided to use the pastel size 80 tatting thread for the filling stitches instead of green. This makes it harder to completely cover the outline threads and you can especially see it in the stem end. The outline threads are in size 40 and the covering thread is in size 70, also not a good match for covering.

I said last time that using a variegated thread was not a good idea and even as I was stitching this, I wondered what was I thinking? In the end though, I really like it. Sometimes the lavender dominated, sometimes the green and sometimes the cream color. I used a very dense stitch where the openings are. The vintage instructions I'm using refer to 737th stitch, etc. - all are numbered so I haven't matched up the known names with them yet. I did use a solid color for the cordonnette.

Even before I couched down my second leaf, I noticed the pattern was not in the best of shape. This is how it looks now, completely torn up. I couldn't figure it out since I use the same process for my RPL lace and those patterns are still intact, even after using 3 or 4 times.

But then I realized there are a few differences. In many of my RPL patterns, I transfer the pattern directly on the fabric and then cover it with clear adhesive paper. I have some that have a paper base though. The other thing is that I'm not really manipulating the "outline" very much in RPL. You attach your fillings at the side loops and hide your ends in the cord, but other than that, you aren't continually wrapping them in thread. The "outline" is already finished.

Another view of my demolished pattern! I will rip out the zigzaging that holds the plastic on and take off the plastic. This is really a fairly large base for this leaf so I might put a different pattern on there instead and make a new base for the leaf. I suppose I should do something besides the leaf at this point. I made a square sampler "coaster" pattern that I might try. Or the petals that I was originally going to do. Or the leaf shaped sampler strip.

I'm doing a beginning bobbin lace class in June though so I need to redo my pillow and get my bobbins wound and practice the basics a bit. I also want to get a RPL piece done for an exhibit for my lace guild. That means I'll probably have to set this aside for the most part. Other eyecandy to come!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Here's the completed leaf, front side. It's not quite what I had in mind but I went off on some tangents and learned in the process. I thought I would make the same stitch or maybe only two stitches but each would be in a different color and with differing spacing and tension.

I'm easily bored however.

So I went for some fancier fillings. I think I've tried the chain stitch before but I'm not sure I used it in a finished project. The other stitch I tried was a radical departure from the usual. It's a buttonhole "button" that sits on top of a Single Brussels base. I'm still not clear on whether they are made separately or along the way. Since there wasn't much room anyway, I just made it on the spot. It's the yellow tip. Kind of hard to see. First you weave around a spot only for maybe two rounds and then you do the buttonhole stitch over it, starting at the center and working your way around back to the center. It is more effective over a larger open base or perhaps even in two colors. I saw it done on two different bases. I like the way it sits on top of the "fabric".

The varigated thread probably wasn't the best choice. It had green in it but not in the portion I used. Over the center and veins, I started with the regular buttonhole stitch but it bunched up and looked horrid. I could NOT get a smooth series of stitches going, so I took it out and tried doing the buttonhole stitch in alternating directions, which seemed to work much better.

This is the back of the leaf. There is no way to tell how well you are covering up the back as you go. Although it does look tidy, I didn't get the threads covered all that well on the back.

I have a few more projects already lined up but I'm tatting right now so it will be a bit before I get to them.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I started this late last night after I returned from my grandkids' Spring Show in choir - a three hour program! It was quite good with the last half being far better than the first half. I probably should not have started so late but I was wide awake and had been thinking about it all day.

It's not quite what I had visualized but I'm learning things. To get a lacier effect, I should probably use a finer thread but I'm going to continue with this size which is size 40 or around there, I think. I used the 4 stitch Brussels to start off with and kept it quite close because I wanted it dense. It gives it a texture because the scallops are so close it nearly looks ridged. For the next part, I used a corded single Brussels and kept it quite close too. I think the next segment will also be a single corded Brussels but spaced further apart. I'll do the same with the tip but in a lighter color.

For the top side, the colors will be lighter and the stitches/spacing even looser, so the lacy effect will hopefully show up more there. I suspect I'll have to do more than one of these to feel like I've got the hang of it. It's not just about stitches. It's about density and color choice and pattern choice creating an overall work of art. I already don't like the way these two shades look but in the end, we'll see. If I use a solid color, I need to vary the appearance of the stitch more to show more contrast between the segments.

I still need to find one of my smaller tapestry needles. I put them all in one place and now I can't remember where that one place is. I think I moved most of my embroidery stuff to one box so I'll check there - once I remember where I put it!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I thought I had posted the final piece here but it was on Needle Lace Talk, the Ning group that is hosting this resource. Since Ning has taken away free hosting and requires payment, I was waiting to see where the group would end up before putting it in my links.

I finished this Thursday evening and then soaked it in OxyClean and blocked it. I guess it's not bad for a first piece but I see so many places to improve. My favorite parts visually are the first square in corded brussels and the bars with opposite buttonhole stitch. I forget what it is called now. Those were pretty much tatting stitches made with a needle - not like needle tatting, but using a needle as a shuttle and the bars were the core thread. You make the stitches on one side, far enough apart that when you go to the opposite side and make the same stitches, you are fitting them between the stitches from the first side.

I realized when I was done that this was the equivalent of more than a few leaves that I had originally couched down. I'm getting ready to do the leaf next. I'll be doing some color play on that one. I want "shading" so the bottom of the leaf will be in darker colors and denser fillings while the tip and top of the leaf will be in lighter colors and looser fillings. Anyway...that's my plan.

I'm going to make up another sampler pattern of perhaps 9 squares, 3 across and down, with spaces between. I think this one will be more for practicing new stitches and I will make the square smaller. The bookmark squares were all at least 1 1/2" wide or wider and most were more than 1" tall and some were taller than they were wide. I also want to try one with curved shapes, like the leaf bookmark that Lenore offered from her past doodles. Those are all practices though.

For regular projects, I'm doing the leaf as I said, and then I want to do some simple petals that I saw in another project which end up being a flower. I haven't liked any of the other flowers I've seen so far.

After the leaf though, I will probably work on some RPL for another commitment and maybe some crocheted lace. Oh...and I have a bobbinlace class in June, so you'll see that one here too!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm on the home stretch! I've gone all around the outside except that last bit of the last square where the thread is coming out. It goes pretty well when I get into a rhythm of stitching. I will definitely use a better quality of thread on the next sample/project!

I still need to outline the narrow sections after I finish this last little bit. I'm not sure when I'll get home tonight as I have a commitment after work but I may get to do some stitching yet. I also have lots of hand dyed thread to wind on floss holders so I'm not sure which will get picked. You can see some of the threads on my other blog, Threads of a Tatting Goddess. I intend to use these threads for other lace and stitching besides tatting. There is a beautiful gold/brown combination drying that I can't wait to try out on something!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

All the filling stitches are done! So now I get to outline the whole thing in buttonhole stitch. I really don't like those heavy padded edges exxcept in very simple pieces. I think that's why I like Romanian Point Lace better. Once you're done with the fillings, you're done. It's just a matter of clipping it off the pattern piece and cleaning it up. The crochet braid is flatter too than buttonhole stitch. But we'll see. I might fool myself.

The second bar is made by doing a buttonhole stitch, first the normal way and then reversed, so it ends up looking like a tatted double stitch. You leave a little space between the stitch sets and do the same thing on the opposite side.

The triangle cones were new for me too. You do the simple Russian stitch (the narrow bar above this one) and then weave back and forth making triangles or cones. The tricky part is that when you are halfway, you have to whip the thread up to the next point to work the cone from point to width. It tends to pull and lump a bit so I need to practice that one more.

I'm wanting to make a few RPL pieces for our lace exhibit but I'll probably do a few more needlelace samples first. I want to make the simple leaf, even simpler than the one I've already couched down, and then I want to do the petals for a simple flower I've seen. The trace threads are couched down with a thin wire to help form the petals when you are done.

I dyed some threads over the weekend too and hope to use some of them in my next piece.

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's going to be a busy weekend so I'll post this now since I probably won't get back to it for a day or two. I'm going with two of my lace guild members to take a workshop with Pat Winter in dying fiber. They're doing ribbon and I'm doing thread. I hope to use some of that thread in my various laces.

This is what the bookmark sampler looks like right now. Once I get the fillings done in the narrow spaces, I'll be finishing the outline of it all. The usual finish is a buttonhole stitch all around but I really don't like that. I'd rather do the weaving back and forth but I think it will be too difficult to get at the trace threads so I'll do the usual buttonhole finish. I think it looks thick and detracts from the finer fillings but that's just my opinion and I have seen some that looked nice and sleek. Like everything, it takes practice. I'm pretty sure mine will look like crap though. LOL!

These are the last two square segments. The next to last one is the Triple Brussels Stitch. In the last square, I divided it into two triangles and worked my filling from the center out. The left side is Double Brussels and the right side is Triple Brussels. I worked the Triple a lot tighter in this segment than I did in the square above. I'm still playing with tension and spacing.

This is the first narrow space and I'm stitching interwoven bars. I saw lots of fancy stuff I would like to try but my brain was having trouble with one that didn't really look all that hard last night so I went fo the super simple bar! It's still hard to get the stitches even and snugged up nicely.

I like the corded brussels look so much more than single brussels and will likely use that much more. I need to find a smaller tapestry needle. I know I have them...I just have to remember where I stashed them all. I stole this one from a different project, a needleroll I'm embroidering and will show here eventually.

For tonight, I'll probably wind some more skeins for the workshop tomorrow and make sure I have everything ready to go. I had to catch up on mowing last night so didn't get much stitching done. I saw some eyecandy, some needlelace flowers that looked very easy to make, comparatively, so I will keep that in mind when I'm dying threads tomorrow. Then again, I've got odds and ends of thread all over that I need to use up, so I'm sure there will be a lot of variety in my projects!

I don't remember if I mentioned it but the trace threads are size 20 and the filling is in size 30. The size 30 is an old vintage thread which is why there is discoloration. I'll soak it in oxyclean when I'm done and if that doesn't help, if I feel a need to make it look nice, I'll just do a tea stain!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Needlelace - I've always wanted to do it but found the various instructions I came across confusing. They were almost always from the early to mid-1900's and the photos were black and white or drawings. There were a few online sites with tutorials but to have an ongoing conversation with anyone knowledgeble seemed out of reach.

Recently a new group was started on the Ning community and I joined without hesitation. I didn't really have time to do much more than read the discussions at first but I did decide which pattern I wanted to start with.

And then changed my mind.

After reading all the discussion, I decided I should start with a bookmark sampler. I haven't done much stitching along this line for quite awhile and needed a refresher. As it turns out, all the stuff before you even get to the stitching is important.

The pattern is by Lorelei Terry Halley. There were several to pick from, some by members and some from expired copyright publications. This one seemed good to practice on. I actually ended up couching the trace or outline threads a second time. The first time, I was just going around the outside and thought I would add in the bars later, but then I realized that would add bulk so I moved a single thread inside for the cross bars, which doubles it coming back so I had the 2 threads couched in one move, and then when I came down the other long side, I just pulled the thread through the end of the short bar. Anyway, I hope I did or it will come apart!

Finally I had some time to do some stitching. All of the filling stitches are attached to the outer "trace" threads. The segment at the top is called a "detached buttonhole with straight return, open form". BTW, the buttonhole stitch is the basis of most filling stitches.

The second segment is the Single Brussels stitch, which is basically just a loose buttonhole stitch. As you can see, my tension and spacing is horrid!

Here's another try at the Single Brussels stitch in the 3rd segment. Better...but still crying out for practice! My needle finger is getting tender so I'll have to wait to do anymore.

This was my first choice for a pattern but since I have a use for this in mind, it seemed prudent to practice on something else. I'm anxious to get to the leaf, but I'll be glad I waited.