Craft idea for 2012

It looks like Take a stitch Tuesday is returning.
I’ve been wanting to play with wool felt appliqué.
Maybe I can combine the two in wool crazy quilt blocks for experimentation with embroidery?

Wool & silk? Definitely wool and silk and cotton threads. Ideas are bouncing around inside my head. This would be good for a lunch-at-work project.

Chevron stitch and Algerian eye

Well, I actually did these a while ago, but I’m posting late. It’s been fairly busy around here. But I did get them up on flickr!

Anyway, this is one where I actually planned ahead and decided to draw out some ideas of how to use these two stitches together.

Something about these two together really got me going — I had lots of ideas, as you can see.

So the first thing I tried was to simulate a quilt block idea, with partial and whole Algerian eye to shape it, and chevron to add some life in the four-patch quarters. All done with perle cotton 5. It came out pretty well, although I felt it was somewhat uneven in spots.

No, no, wait, that wasn’t first!

First was me doing some layered chevron stitch, using the different variegated threads of embroidery floss. The picture is a little dark, but the overall effect is there. I liked it, but was somewhat bored by it; partially I think it was because my floss had such long stretches of color. To get more of the color contrast and effect I was looking for, it needed closer color changes. I’ll have to look for that next time I buy some thread.

After that came the quilt block.

Then I got going on a landscape image, using these two stitches, along with some basic backstitch. I made a mountaintop using the Algerian eye stitch, then trees and a road using chevron stitch. It came out rather well.

Somewhere in the midst of this, I did try to do a stitch combination the way I’ve seen the crazy quilters among us use them on seams in a block. You may not be able to see it incredibly well, because the colors are darker, but it starts with a base chevron stitch, weaves in a twisted together strand of the blue and the gray colors, adds in fly stitch, then a French knot. It looks nice and complex, although I think the colors could have been done better. But I was in the mood for blue and gray (old high school colors; I’ve always liked that color combination).

So, the last things I tried were a “sun” shape, using the Algerian eye stitch with buttonhole, plus a basic border stitch seam treatment,
and another attempt at a kind of quilt block, a nine-patch this time. The sun came out rather nice, certainly better than the picture ideas of it, I think because it was actually smaller and closer together on fabric than it was on paper. The nine-patch is, well, still in process. I outlined it, and then decided I wasn’t sure exactly what to put in the blocks. Something different or the same in each one? I’ll have to think about that one some more.

Next, fly stitch, maybe combined with the next stitch to come along. Soon, I’ll try to get up the new quilt blocks I’ve made and a progress report on my other craft work. Today I just attended a class on learning how to spin flax. I’m not sure I really mastered the skill, but at least now I have a good grasp of the basic idea.

Cretan stitch

Well, I actually did get to this one last week, but am only now finding time to actually get the info up. It’s a good thing this challenge is so flexible. Right now, life is busy, among other things, because I’m taking a sane machine quilting class. My embrace of quilting is wide-ranging!

Anyway, unlike detached chain, I found the Cretan stitch rather inspiring of varied treatments. My mind was just turning over on the various things you could do with it.

First off, I looked at it, and thought, “Chinese temple?” If you look at the shape of a Chinese temple, it’s like a Cretan stitch that grows a little larger with each level. So I tried to produce that, using a variegated green floss that seemed to connect with the serene ideal that I associate with Chinese religion.
(that very first example is simply my attempt to make sure I knew how to DO Cretan stitch; I had to go look it up in the stitch dictionary to be sure)

I think that this stitch has distinct possibilities for expressing this kind of shape and picture. I really liked that one.

So then I went on and got some other possibilities in.

Here I tried to do one Cretan stitch on top of the other, in differing colors, obviously. During the first half, I put the yellow underneath the green, and then switched and layered it on top. It made an interestingly subtle difference as to which color was dominant. I wonder what would happen if I alternated them. (Pearl cotton 5)

Then I decided to try a plain, large, measured out evenly Cretan stitch and then layer on another stitch as the crazy quilt embellishers do. The choice of stitch was scroll stitched, which turned out to be a mistake, as I was working with the wrong kind of thread and/or material. The stitch dictionary even told me that — after I’d already started, of course. I still like the idea, but ended up not being sure of what other kind of stitch I wanted to put in.

Then I decided to try actually producing a flower shape, since Sharon indicated that that was possible in her examples. Unfortunately, her examples were not large enough for me to see how she achieved it clearly. So I kind of figured this out on my own, although I have no idea what kind of flower that it might resemble. That’s detached chain in the middle — I actually was inspired enough by the Cretan stitch to actually see a possibility for detached chain. Pretty cool!

Who knows when and where ideas will hit? These came to me in the middle of church! I just had to scribble them down before I forgot. The circle on the right is what led to the flower shape above. The long trail to the left is my realization between the figure 8 pattern that I sometimes see in quilting stitch designs in sane quilting, that I also see in similar shapes in the fluid curves of medieval Arabic designs. In the middle, you can see the diamond shape (opposing fly stitches?) and detached chain stitch which could also recreated this same design, but nowhere near so fluidly as the double-layered Cretan stitch.

One of the comments on my previous examples kind of opened my mind to the relationship between buttonhole and fly stitch and detached chain, and I realized that Cretan stitch is a near relation as well; it’s amazing how something as small as the direction of a stitch will change the entire look of it. But then insights like that are why I decided to get involved in this challenge.

Now I have to go do my homework related to the sane quilting class I am taking, so I don’t how soon I’ll get to the chevron stitch. I’ll only say that the squared examples that Sharon showed really made me think of quilt blocks. Geometric patterns, you know?

I’ve suddenly realized, I should tell you that if you want to see the stitches in larger sizes, you can find me in the flickr group.

Detached chain stitch

Well, I hate to say it, but I found myself distinctly uninspired with this stitch. I couldn’t really think of anything interesting to do with it. So, I chose simply to test out some different sizes and heights to get varied effects.

Here’s a bit of wide and narrow stitches.

And another selection of playing with patterns in some pretty metallic thread. I did some interweaving as well to see what that looked like.

Neither thread I selected shows up all that well against the fabric, unfortunately. Just another example of my lack of inspiration, I think. I probably should have taken the time to go look at other people’s playing before trying anything, but found it hard to find the time. Maybe next week, I can add in something more interesting with detached chain in combination with something else. By itself, it doesn’t seem to be truly interesting.

Buttonhole stitch

Well, the second week is the buttonhole stitch. This week I was a little better prepared, having bought some pearl cotton size 5 colors. And I had had my ideas expanded a bit by the previous week’s efforts of the group. So here’s what I came up with:

1) This one includes a buttonhole stitch of multiple sizes and multiple colors. It was an interesting effect, but I was using 6-strand embroidery floss for that in combination with the pearl cotton size 8, and it didn’t work for me. The colors were fine, though.

2) I also did a circular version, using some leftover metallic thread. It was a little difficult making a consistent circle. If I want something like that, it needs
some help to be a perfect circle.

3) This is a simple pattern of varying heights of buttonhole stitch, but with each section of the pattern being a different shade of red. I do like that one. I would, however, want to improve the smoothness of the transition from each color, but I’m not sure how to manage it.

4) Next, this is one where I did another circle, with the buttonhole stitch pointing outward. This would make a marvelous sun. The variegated thread added to the effect here, I think. It’s rather pretty — but I ran out of thread before finishing. I wasn’t so in love with it that I felt the need to finish.

5) Last, I decided to do something a little more elaborate and actually plan ahead on it. This one I actually drew out the pattern, so I’d have consistent sizing, and make an interesting shape. I think you can see that it’s a vague serpent shape.

I wanted to use more colors and more random heights for the buttonhole stitches to make a mottled effect, like snakeskin, but with an obvious preference for bright colors!

I look forward to the next one.

So how do we like this new year?

Not that much different, I gotta tell you. There’s already too much to do and too little time to do it. And much of it is my own fault. However, I’ll talk about what I’ve signed up for later. Right now I want to report on my embroidery experimentation.

On the blog In a minute ago, SharonB suggested Take-a-stitch Tuesday as a way of experimenting in a group on various embroidery stitches, for crazy quilting and just for exploration fun. Since I am trying to learn more embroidery stitches and get comfortable with them — after all, that is how you can then learn to see the possibilities of where to use them appropriately, I decided to sign up. So this past Tuesday, she started with herringbone stitch, with all kinds of fascinating possibilities.

I decided to start simple.

I knew I wanted to experiment with the different sizes and one type of thread, with interweaving, with herringbone on top of herringbone using a variegated thread, and with the shaping of a curve. So I did a little experimentation.

1) Pearl cotton with shaping.

I really liked that effect. I can see myself using it in a picture somewhere. It’s like the trusses on an old-fashioned bridge.

2) 6-strand embroidery floss with different sizes

You can’t really see all the sizes here — there’s only so much a camera can do, and it’s so difficult to get good, close-up, detailed shots that don’t blur! I really tried, too! (I think I will try again.) Anyway, I found it fascinating to see how the difference between herringbone over two stitches height, versus four, versus six, really changed the effect. Plus, I find myself becoming more and more fascinated with variegated thread. I love the effects of it.

3) 6-strand embroidery floss with two herringbone stitches laid on top of one another

AND 4) 3-strand embroidery floss with interweaving of two types

I find it interesting how the herringbone in #2 looked like braid when it was just two stitches high, but in #3, it also looks like braid, just a more complex one. I rather like the look, but then I’ve always loved long braided hair.
On #4, I established the base herringbone with a light green strand — they are actually variegated threads, but it’s such a long dye section that you can’t tell it here — and a weaving on each section of the herringbone in a light pink to contrast. It is a lovely, light combination, which I enjoy more than I expected to, since I like vivid colors. Then I tried a different weave on the right, and even with the same colors, it turned out to have a more definite contrast. My liking for definite color contrasts comes out — I think I like that one better. Maybe. I guess it depends on what effect I am trying to achieve.

Now, what else would I like to try? Well, depending on time, I’d like to try something with beads ON the thread and weaving in ribbon. I fear that may have to wait however. But this is fun!