Monday, August 21, 2017

Twist Festival 2017

I have no stitching update to share today. I did almost no stitching this weekend. Instead, I spent the weekend at the Twist Festival with Patricia Côté the owner of l'Atelier de Pénélope helping out at her booth. Patricia came to pick me up at home on Friday and we made the hour and a half drive to where the Twist Festival is held.

The weather was very strange on our way there. When we got to Montebello, it suddenly started pouring rain (check out the video below).

Luckily the rain stopped before we reached our hotel. We dropped our stuff and made our way to the festival complex in Saint-André-Avellin which is about 10-15 minutes away from where we were staying. The drive there was lovely and we saw some beautiful sights; farms and fields, horses, cows and even lamas. So glad the sun came out so I could takes some pictures.

When we got there everything had to be unpacked to get ready for the opening of the festival the next day. Luckily our booth was in the gymnasium. The second larger location was in an arena, an ice arena!! It was freezing in there. I don't know how the exhibitors there could stand it.

Patricia brought all kinds of goodies with her. I love looking through everything when I unpack the stock. Here's a video tour of the booth. I really love how she displays her fibers.

We weren't the only ones setting up on Friday night. Once we finished, we took the time to walk around the empty gymnasium and arena. The booth below was not far from ours. The owner makes the cutest felted dioramas.

There was also a booth selling brooms.

Natalie who was there as a teacher bought one for her daughter.

It's not only the inside of the complex that was filled with fibers. The outside was also yarn bombed. The fence below was decorated with "Pourquoi tant de laine?", translated to English it means "Why so much yarn?".

There was even a tractor and spinning wheel that was covered in crochet and knitting.

We were completely swamped on Saturday, barely getting the chance to eat lunch. Patricia even taught me how to process sales so she would be able to help out customers. I met many embroiderers who came especially to see Patricia's booth. It was the perfect opportunity to advertise the Lakeshore Creative Stitchery Guild as many of them were coming from the Montreal area and had no idea there was a guild there.

Things were quieter Sunday morning, so Patricia and I took turns going around all the booths for some shopping. I got two cute bags as a souvenir of the festival. This big one below would make an excellent bag to take to embroidery classes and I got a smaller one (in the next picture) that would be great as a project bag.

This year there were two embroidery booths: l'Atelier de Pénélope and Mes Broderies, Ma Passion. The rest of the booths were all about wool, yarn and felt. I considered bringing back some felt for my sister but there were so many booths I didn't know what to get. So I stuck to getting stuff for me :)

I really couldn't resist getting a felted animal from the booth I showed you earlier. The fox is a creation by Melissa Bellmare. Carolyn I think I bit the fox bug, they're just too cute.

A hand made wooden thread minder from La Maison Tricotée that is so Alice in Wonderland. This will come in very handy.

Some beaded bracelet kits from BeadAddict. These bracelets uses a bead weaving technique, which I've been wanting to try out. I've already tried Kumihimo and bead crochet.

From l'Atelier de Pénélope, I got two magazines, a sashiko and cross stitch kit. We sold so many sashiko kits that I got tempted to try it out again. I didn't get the threads as we'd sold out of the navy thread I wanted, but I'll pick that up from Patricia the next time I see her. The cross stitch kit is a really cute pincushion with a darning pattern in pink, black and white.

The Italian magazine is a technique book on whitework embroidery. It was the last copy in stock so I couldn't pass it up. The other magazine is volume 3 of Les broderies de Marie et cie which is a project book. It's a pretty magazine but I mainly got it for the projects below. (Open the post in your browser to see the images)

I also got two panels of this fabric. Patricia had stitched two of them for the shop to make into cushions and I thought they were just so pretty I wanted to try my hand at designing something with them. I don't know when I'll have the time though :P The panels I bought are pink but they are also available in red.

This last one is not a purchase but a sample piece of fabric. When Patricia ordered the Graziano linens she ask for samples of of the Bissos linen. They sent her 5 meters of it! It's a 42 count very fine transparent Italian linen that's great for shadow work and very fine white work. Patricia gave me a square piece that would be great to embroider a handkerchief or doily. I'd love to stitch a design in the broderie blanche technique using DMC broder special thread. My eyes will not thank me but it will looks amazing!

This week I need to really spend some time on stitching my runner. I need to finish at least two flowers before the end of the week or I will be in trouble of not finishing in time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Busy, Busy

Since finishing Foxy, I've put all my time and concentration on trying to finish the runner I introduced to you at the end of July. I've set myself a deadline for beginning September as I'd like to display it at my local guild's exhibition.

On Friday, I finished all the stitching I need to do with the #12 perl cotton. All that's left for whitework is some satin stitching in #8 perl cotton and the actual finishing of the hem with DMC cordonnet special. I decided it was time to start working on the design at the center if I wanted to finish in time.

I used a blue pen that washes away to trace my design. It looks very faint in this picture I think because of my stitching lamp but it's much clearer in person. If you're tracing a design for whitework and want to use a pen, the best color is blue. The color blue tends to get absorbed into the white so if there are markings that didn't disappear in the wash your eyes won't see them.

The center design involves a technique I've been avoiding for years now. Goldwork doesn't scare me and I'm unfazed when it comes to cutting fabric, but traditional embroidery and needle painting makes me nervous. I actually picked this design specifically to see if I can get over that fear. And to help with that is Trish Burr's book Needle Painting Embroidery Fresh Ideas for Beginners. I bought this book ages ago when I was gung-ho on learning the technique.

First step is split stitching the outline. I wasn't sure which color to use, but after closely inspecting the projects in Trish Burr's book I noticed she always uses the color that is used at the center of the flower. In my case, it would be the darkest pink. By the way, those markings that go down each petal are not part of the original design. I put those in to help with the embroidery later.

I got all the split stitching done and moved onto the second step: stitch all the stem stitches. I closely looked at the pictures in the magazine to see where each thread is used. I spent some time flipping through the pages and looking at my fabric and decided to just redraw the design on paper and color it.

Once I marked out where each green is used for the stems, things went much faster.

The piece is very long so I needed to take two pictures, but you can get an idea of the what the runner looks like with designed outlined in each color.

The leaves and flowers will all be filled in. I didn't particularly like how they did the actual shading in the original so I needed to figure out the shading on my own. I used markers but I really need to invest in a set of coloring pencil. I find myself doing this more often and sometimes you just can't get the same shading effect with markers. Also, the DMC thread numbers you see in the picture below are my own choices. The pattern itself doesn't specify the thread color used. I decided on colors that closely matched the sofas in our living room.

I should be able to finish this piece for the exhibition, providing I don't procrastinate on the flowers and leaves. There is still some whitework left for me to use as an excuse to avoid them, but not enough for me to do so for very long.

Now onto the fabric. Some of you asked me about it when I first introduced the project. The fabric is called Graziano linen. The stamp on the edge says pure linen in Italian and it certainly feels like the linen fabric I have for my Hedebo piece.

Below is a macro shot. The linen I'm using is 38 count in white. The white is very similar to DMC B5200 which is what I've been using for the whitework portion of the runner. It is heavier than fabric you would use for cross stitch and hardanger. I don't recommend you use it for cross stitch as there are slugs, but for drawn and pulled thread work it's fine. It was a little difficult to withdraw the threads as the weave is very thik. This thickness of the fabric also makes it ideal for traditional forms of embroidery as it's heavy enough to hold the stitches. I'd still recommend you back it with muslin so you can hide the ends of your threads.

I showed the fabric to Natalie of Sew By Hand who uses Alba Maxima linen (check out Mary Corbett's post to learn all about the different linens) for her goldwork embroidery and she said it would be great for that technique as well. Not to mention it's a less expensive option to Alba Maxima.

I bought the fabric from L'atelier de Pénélope. The owner was nice enough to look into ordering it for me. She ordered a sample card of the fabrics they made and even sent me swatches of each so I can make my choice. She now stocks a few of the colors to start with including the linen I bought. They are available to purchase by the meter and in the case of the 38 count, it's 70 cm wide. There is plenty in there to make multiple projects.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Blogger of the Week

For the past 6 month, Jo of Serendipitous Stitching has been showcasing different stitchers on her Blogger of the week page. It's been fun discovering a new stitching blog or learning more about those that I've been following. I love reading about how someone started stitching.

So when Jo emailed me the questions I was delighted. Click on the link here to read my asnwers. I even share a picture of the very first stitching project I ever did. When I look at that picture side by side with what I'm working on now I'm really amazed at how far I've gone.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

First Step on a Long Journey

It's been five years since my first post on Japanese Embroidery. The plan was always this: start with Japanese bead embroidery and then one day, go back to the JEC and start phase 1 for Japanese Embroidery. This was always the plan for three reasons:
  • I didn't have the space (I still don't) to accommodate all the paraphernalia that JE would involve (frame, trestle, special tools and threads). Right now all my tools for my phase 1 Japanese bead embroidery fits in one tote bag.
  • I don't have the time to really give it the proper attention as I'm still working full time. 
  • And the really big one, there are 10 phases in JE and it would be too expensive to travel to and from the JEC to do all of them as there are no teachers anywhere near my area.
That all changed last year when classes for seminar 2017 were announced. At the EAC seminar this year, a taster class on Japanese embroidery was offered. Not only that, the teacher Sue Sprake lived in Ontario, Canada. Since seminar, we've approached Sue to see if she would be willing to travel to Montreal to give a 4-day class and she has accepted! This means, starting October 27 I will be beginning my (long) journey into Japanese Embroidery.

I'm beyond excited to start as I've been dreaming of this moment for a long time. I've already payed for my deposit and booked the days off at work. Now all that's left is picking my phase 1 piece and placing my kit order with Sue. There are four phase 1 designs offered by the JEC but I'm stuck deciding between two right now and can't make up my mind. So I figured I'd ask you all for your opinions.

Choice #1: Hanazume - Flower Circle. This is the piece my friend Nancy has stitched. I've seen hers and it looks wonderful. It's a great beginner piece as it has a little of everything without being too big. The colors are lovely in person with soft peaches and creme, coral and greens. It would suite my more traditional tastes perfectly.

Choice #2: Bouquet from the Heart of Japan. I was not particularly enamored with this piece and I've never seen it in person. However, Nancy sent me closeup pictures of it that she had saved from the now defunct Stitching Fingers and it looks beautiful. So now I can't decide. The bouquet piece is bigger and has more work in it than Hanazume. It's more complex and there are also a few extra techniques in this one that aren't in Hanazume like the basket and the cords. This is the piece recommended by the JEC as it introduces many techniques that are expanded on in the later phases.

So now I have a problem. I have to decide between satisfying my tastes and my love of complexity. The bouquet piece would look just as lovely hanging in my home, but Hanazume would fit better. What do you think?

Monday, August 7, 2017

He's so Foxy

My friend Natalie from Sew By Hand is teaching Becky Hogg's Owl in Montreal and had asked if she could borrow Foxy to show the class. I was supposed to bring him over on Friday but because of work I had to reschedule to Sunday.

I was kind of disappointed that I had to cancel as she's just come back from a trip to the UK and had loads of stitchy things to share. When I came home I figured it would give me more time to finish the cutwork on the tail.

Not only did the afternoon speed by, but the stitching did as well. I definitely have a handle on the cutwork now. I finished the tail in no time. I'm so happy with the curve. I think I can come to enjoy cutwork as much as I do chipping one day.

I still had plenty of time so I decided to keep stitching and before I knew it the ears were done and eyes were stitched in.

I had some fun taking pictures at different angles.

And here's the back. Not bad, I didn't have any stray threads this time. I'm doing better with the length of threads I'm cutting. I don't get as many tangles anymore.

Saturday morning, I busied myself in finishing him. I decided that I wanted to use the hoop that came with the kit.

Fabric is cut all around the hoop...

 ...and then gathered. The fabric bulges a little at the back but it doesn't really bother me that much.

 Here he is all finished.

 I've already picked out where he will hang. I have the perfect spot on my cork-board.

It's great to see more color on the board. I will have to look for more small projects to fill in the empty spaces.

Just to give you an idea of what's leftover from the kit. I still have plenty of metal threads to play with. If you're a beginner worried about not having enough in case you have to cutout and redo, don't be. There is plenty to finish it.

So what's next? I'm looking at my list of WIPs and the priority right now is:
  • Giuliana Ricama runner 
  • Hedebo Enchantment
  • Japanese bead embroidery phase 1
I'm going to try very hard not to start any new projects from now till the fall as I have many projects that will be starting then. I do have plans to start another goldwork project (I have two planned to start and finish before seminar next year). I'm aiming for September 22 to start the first one.