Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Needlelace bag finished

Here's the bag that I just finished this morning, using the new crochet cotton thread I bought on sale a few weeks ago.

Here's how it started, with the outline shape couched down, and the filling started. I should have started the filling at the top of the shape, but I wanted to test that I could turn at the open edges on the inside. The join doesn't show on the finished piece.

This pic shows the start of the scallops, and before I turned the strap loops inside out.

This pic shows version one, where I did a flap started in the paler turquoise thread then continued in beading, but I didn't like that so I cut it off and headed to the bookcase to check out...

Jacqui Carey's "Beads and Braids" book. Unfortunately, I don't have a maru-dai, and I didn't want to spend the time to cobble one together, so I used The Beadworkers Guild "Introduction to Beadwork: Bracelets", trying Tubular Herringbone, which I couldn't figure out, so I settled on Spiral Staircase to make the cord, finishing it in the centre with some drop beads and a feature bead.

The other book you can see in the pic is "Beadwork Magazine Presents The Beader's Companion" by Judith Durant & Jean Campbell, which I flicked through for good measure.

In my search, I found "The Beading Book" by Julia Jones which I bought ages ago, mail order, I think. At the time, I looked through it quickly then put on the shelf, but now that I have the bead bug again, not to mention the time, I'm going to read it from cover to cover and experiment with techniques.

Why all this bead mania? Well, I signed up for the 2008 Bead Journal Project - eeeekkk! Although it only starts in September, I thought I might start experimenting with techniques now.

Critique on the finished piece: It's sort of what I had in mind. I wanted to create a casing to hold the cord, and it was really an experiment to figure out how to do that. Although the turned handles kind of work to hold the cord, it's not right. I have to figure out the correct pattern shape to get the casing to work. I think a sumptuous, crunchy tassel would look well in a similar design, but I kept the embellishment simple on this one because the scallops were fussy enough. I could have used an open edge all around instead of just on the inside shape. The colour was difficult to match to my stash of beads. I find the overall size and shape pleasing. That crochet cotton is lovely to work with, and the cordonnette holds its shape well.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Busy busy Springtime

I've been working on a new needlelace and beaded piece but that's all I'm going to say about it for now - I'm busting to post pix of it, but there's just that little bit left to finish and I want to post the whole project in one go, so here are some pix of other things we've been up to. The semi-ruin in the middle distance is the Cathar castle of Saissac in the Montagne Noire, about twenty minutes drive, where we went to check out a boucherie/charcuterie we had been told had good produce.

These pix show the bud one day and the flower the next.

This pic shows the two rows of lettuce I put in the potager - I really like taking shadow pix - I think they are fun. I also dug up and separated the strawberry plants, to make a cordon around the edge of the potager. I find they give more fruit if I spread them out.

Here's the orange/peach rose bush giving us a wonderful show this year, and a pic of a single bloom DH cut for me to try to show the colour better.

Here's a darling fig just starting to swell. We put that tree in year before last, but late in the season, so we only had three or four figs last year. Hopefully there will be many more this year.

And last but not least, here are the brown-y purple iris being just too gorgeous.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bead experiments

Looking at beaders blogs, I thought I'd try to do bead embroidery, and this little rose made itself.

I was also thinking about Celtic knotwork, and tried to incorporate that - unsuccessfully - I think the rose looks better on its own.

Having "finished" the design, here's a pic of the contents of the experiment box in my bead drawer, where the design shall now live.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's a woman thing

Woohoo - I found these yarns and beads on sale for -30% when I nipped out to get himself some cigars because he was busy painting the wrought iron on the kitchen window. It is extremely pleasant to noodle round the fabric shop on my own, but I do smuggle the goods into the studio to avoid comments such as, "You could open a shop with all the stuff you have in there", or, "Don't tell me you got MORE beads - what are you going to do with the ones you already have?" Men just don't understand.

Second April TIF Finished

Here's the plant lifecycle - I must have had roses on the brain, left over from the March challenge...

I started by making up a background using the colours I could find in my stash, in the Fibonacci sequence 1,1,2,3,5,8, then used automatic patterns on the machine to stitch them to a plain calico backing. As I didn't really like the colours in my stash, I added a couple of squares of organza to shift some of the colours more to orange or red. It still wasn't pleasing my eye, so I added a layer of the darker red organza, then started to stitch scraps of pink shot metallic organza on top to make the full flowers.

Then I went outside and photographed some of the shrub and climbing roses to study bud, leaf, blossom. I particularly like the way the new leaves come up dark red before turning glossy green.

Then I used the oyster stitch (among others) from SharonB's Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge from last year, thinking they looked like buds and leaves.

Finally I added a couple of beads to represent the rosehips et voila I think it's finished. It's pinned up in the studio now while I go through my "I don't like it" period, before it tells me what it wants to become - not a bag, this time I think - perhaps a wall hanging?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

First April TIF Challenge Finished

I'm counting this piece against April's challenge. The reason I think it "counts" for the April challenge is because it changed from the original thinking when I started it for the March challenge.

Here's what happened: I wanted to try out Oyster Stitch before I went any further with my plant lifecycle design, to see if it would "read" as seeds. I decided to try the stitch on the abandoned piece from March with some variegated knitting ribbon and chainette, but once started, I couldn't stop because I was enjoying the stitch so much. Then I decided to cut up and resew, et voila. I think it will be a strap on a bag which I have yet to design & make.
The two pieces on the left in the photo are offcuts - click on the photo to enlarge.

Back to the drawing board now...

I bought this set of Gardening Encyclopaedia in an antique shop in Topsham years ago.

It touched me because on the flyleaf of each book is the name of the original owner and the date, starting March 18, 1898 and going to 1890. S/he must have subscribed for it and received one each month. They are in remarkably good condition considering they're 110 years old - some foxing on some of the pages, that' all.

There are terriffic engravings of the plants and the occasional colour plate. Sometimes I look through it just to admire the drawings, which is what I plan to do next, to get some ideas for the plant lifecycle piece I think I want to do for the April Challenge. I don't believe in tracing directly from the book, instead, I use it as a guide for my own drawing, and to get inspiration.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Studios and other thoughts

Yums - got these at the market this morning - very happy making - along with our first bunch of asparagus of the season.

While we were walking through the Bastide St.Louis, I thought of using architecture in this month's challenge - old buildings. I especially like crumbling rock and peeling paint for embroidery, so I'll add that to my list of Change challenges. Here is a piece I did shortly after we moved here, of the abbey ruins at Alet-les-Bains.

Then, while checking one of my favourite blogs, Beading At The Beach, the author showed pix of her studio. I just love looking at other creative people's studios, so I thought I'd include a couple of pix of my workspace - la voila - enjoy.

Now that I've taken the pix, the studio seems really organised and neat, and it makes me feel a tiny bit embarrassed. I do most of my handsewing at the dining table, which probably explains it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

April Challenge

Sharon Boggon's April Take It Further Challenge is, "How do you see change?" Here are my first thoughts:

Mostly positive: I like change and seem to adapt well. I think it is because we moved almost every year when I was little, in Montreal. Since then, I've moved to Toronto, Bermuda, England, and now live in the South of France. But this didn't give me inspiration for stitching, so I put the question like this:

What does change mean to me? This gave:

Seasons: Spring into summer into fall into winter and starting again. I could do a number of panels to get this, or make it a circle or even a spiral - need to figure out how to do this, maybe later in the month.

Plant lifecycle: Seeds into plants into flowers into falling leaves making compost to nurture the seeds falling to make new plants. I had a look at Sharon Boggon's Take A Stitch Tuesday blog, thinking I might use new stitches, to change my habits because I keep coming back to my favourites, French Knots and Fly Stitch. Also, the TIF Challenge grew out of the TAST Challenge which I didn't do as that was in the days before I had discovered embroidery blogs. I came across the Oyster Stitch and it's been in my head ever since - I see it as seeds against the earth colours she set for the April challenge, so this looks a likely candidate.

MCEscher's Metamorphosis. I'd love to do a long runner with shapes morphing into each other. Maybe after I have a go at the seed idea.

Sayings: What goes around comes around. Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose. Chinese whispers. I could free machine somehow. I think Chinese whispers could be really funny.

Evolution: Using that diagram of ape to man that we all seem to know. I researched this a bit thinking it was called The Ascent of Man, and found it is called "The March of Progress" by Rudy Wallinger, first published in "Early Man" 1970 Time Life book by F. Clark Howell. There have been numerous takes on this, including this one which I found amusing while sitting at the computer doing this research...

A Dinosaur: I thought I could repeat the original March of Progress motif twice and attach it to the back of a dinosaur shape, like those plates that stick up - I'll sketch the idea in a minute - to represent "standing on the shoulders of giants", a quote in a letter during Darwin's acrimonious debates with some of his peers - I'll have to find that reference, too, so I can write it up properly. It would be a visual gag on Darwin, evolution, change.

Finally, still thinking about evolution, I thought I might want to use Fibonacci progressions, as that is the way things grow in nature, so I did a paper pattern this morning to think about size and placement of objects, using 1,1,2,3,5,8,13. Rainbow's End made me remember about Fibonacci numbers in a post last week.

Here's what I found in my stash to make a start...

just need to get the threads out now...

A big thank you to Sharon for adding me to the challenge list - I just noticed it in the blog the other day - and for coming up with these wonderful ideas.