Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Art of Bead Embroidery by Margaret Lee

When I got my copy of Margaret Lee's The Art of Bead Embroidery a few of you requested a review of the book.

I decided to change it up a bit and taped a video review. It's my first one so it was quite an experience figuring everything out and learning how to use the YouTube video editor. You will all have to let me know what you think about it. I don't plan on doing videos full time instead of blog posts, but for things like this a video is much more efficient. If you're reading this post by email, you will need to open the post in your browser.

This is a disclaimer on traditional Japanese frames because I know my friend Nancy will email me about this (wave!). The book includes instructions on how to stretch your fabric on the Japanese frame, but it is highly recommended that you do this for the first time with a teacher. For beading, the fabric doesn't need to be as taut as it would be for Japanese Embroidery with silks. However it is still stretched tighter than you would normally do with other forms of embroidery. An experienced teacher would be able to teach you how to stretch your fabric and judge when it's ready for stitching.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Fair Bit of Progress

Last week (Monday) I said I'd take out Foxy to work on the last remaining areas left to be covered with the passing. I did do that, but then left him aside trying to avoid all the plunging.

I didn't touch him for the rest of the week. On Saturday I said "enough was enough!!" and got all those suckers in. I was so relieved this part was over.

Next step was a more enjoyable kind of couching. This time with Pearl Purl.

And I really mean enjoyable. I was finished outlining in a matter of hours while the passing took days. Unfortunately, I still have some touch ups to do with the metal passing. Notice the teeny tiny bit of felt where the head lays on the body. I was really hoping that would get covered with the pearl purl.

I'm now at what I like to call the fun part: Chipping! It's really no different from beading except I'm using bright check purl cut into tiny pieces. This one is silver and has a lovely shine to it.

The silver bright check is stitched only on the white tips of the tail. I'm still chipping away but I should be done in no time. Things have really progressed much faster. After the chipping comes the metal cutwork. It will be great to get more practice in of that technique.

Also, remember that beading book by Margaret Lee I ordered last week? It's here! I thought for sure I'd have to wait till next month, but no I got it within a week. I also got Karen Barbé's book Colour Confident Stitching. I've already looked thru Margaret Lee's book but I'm still reading the other one. I've promised Jessica to do a review of the beading book and will try to get that out soon. I've been tinkering with the idea of making it a video instead of writing a post. I will see which one is more efficient.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Couching Around and Around

Last week, I started couching the passing for the body. I still had a few rows left.

Once I got into the rhythm of couching, the last few rows finished very quickly. At this point I needed to make a decision: plunge what I've done before couching the rest or leaving it for now. I decided to leave it. I wanted to get the curve just right when I plunged these first few rows. The reason is because the next step on the body is couching in the round. To help get the angle just right, I took a pen and sketched out how I imagined the curve should look.

Becky Hogg's instructions said to cut out a 120 cm piece of passing that gets folded in half. Now that piece even folded was really long. When I started couching, I could never imaging running out. However as I got closer and closer to the center, I started to sweat. My passing was getting shorter with no end in sight. I started trying to remember if I ever read/heard of what to do if you run out of metal thread to couch before you reach the center. What do you do if you underestimate the length? Definitely something I will be asking in the future.

Becky's instructions are pretty good. I have exactly the same amount of circles as she does and the amount of passing I needed was spot on.

I like how the back looks. Doesn't it look like fur? The head looks like it has Shirley Temple's hair :P

I didn't go further than cleaning up all the passing. I'm going to try and work on it again tonight. I saved a few pieces of passing that are long enough to fold in half that could fit the really tiny spaces.

Friday I cam home to find that my copy of Inspirations finally came in. We had two holidays one after the other, meaning Canada Post was closed so post was a little late.

I was really eager to get my copy because there was a Japanese bead embroidery project by Margaret Lee in it. This project was a class that Margaret taught at Beat Around the Bush last year. I'm so happy I don't have to go all the way to Australia to do it. It's finished off as a lovely case for you stitching tools.

I've already started looking into gathering the beads, but it's very hard finding some of them. They're all TOHO beads and there are 3-cut beads again. It seems like it's a favorite kind of bead to use. Also impossible to find in North America. Last time I replaced them with Czech beads. So I will either make adjustments keeping to the same colors or change the colors to suite my tastes. I haven't decided yet, but I spent Saturday doing some adult coloring to figure out where each bead is used.

And look! At the back of the issue there is an advertisement for Margaret Lee's new book on bead embroidery. I've already placed my order at Book Depository for it. The site says it's available but the publication date for the book isn't until July 27. So that means I will have to wait till next month to get it. After getting a peek at the inside of the book I think it will be well worth the wait.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

More Couching

The last time I showed this piece I had reached the edge of the ears on each end. The next part was going to be tricky, I had to couch down small pieces of passing in the areas below the ear.

Foxy by Becky Hogg
I guesstimated the amount I'd need, making each strand shorter and shorter until I reached the end.

So that I wouldn't forget how long the passing should be, I cut the ones for other side at the same time.

The easy part was couching them down. When it came to plunging them it was really hard since I'm pulling down through felt. The first one made a "big" hole and freaked me out. Luckily it doesn't show once everything was in. What really made me sweat was pulling too hard on that last row and losing the passing to the other side. The piece was so tiny it unfolded and I had to tinker with it to get it back to what it was before.

It took me a few days to get over that panic and pull Foxy back out to do the other side. That one wasn't too bad since I knew what to expect and to be careful when pulling.

I had enough with teeny tiny pieces. I decided to start working on the body where there is more of the same couching. You start off by couching 11 rows of passing and then once you get to the middle, there will be some circular couching. I have 7 done so 4 more to go.

It does have a very pretty look to it and I'm very happy with him. I'm a little behind now, as both Natalie and Catherine have finished theirs. You can check out Natalie's on her Facebook page Sew by Hand and Catherine's on her blog Hillview Embroidery. Luckily, Natalie has decided to stitch a second Becky Hogg piece, a wood pecker this time, so I will still have some company while finishing Foxy.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The End of Hedgehog Handworks

As many of you have heard through Mary Corbet, Hedgehog Handworks was closing their doors. I had already taken advantage of their closing sale before, buying only books. They had a final, final sale last month and I decided I really should make an effort and enhance my stash. I don't know if you've noticed, but I always buy kits. I'm complete rubbish at buying stash that is not actually for some sort of project with a supply list. Especially colored thread. I really should work on that :P

First off, I got needles. These are all sharp needles by Bohin. I keep hearing from other stitchers that they are the best needles. As I slowly start veering away from counted, I find that I don't have good sharp needles. So I figured I'll stock up. I got one of each size: 7, 9 and 11.

I got two of each size cotton DMC broder special that they stocked. They only had #20 and 25. I'm thinking maybe I should have gotten more.

I've been wanting to try Mountmellick embroidery and Hedgehog Handworks had the threads in stock. I got 2 of every thickness. They range from Very fine to Heavy. Even with the sale they were pricey. The heavy thread is 6$ each!

I didn't even bother to look at the silks even thought I would have loved to get some Au ver a soie. I think instead what I really need to do is invest in a color card. It was even worst in the metallic thread section. Luckily, they decided to make things a little easier: they created mystery bags. Now I don't normally buy things like this as you never know if what you will get will be even worth it. But since they were closing and the price of the bags were so good I decided to chance it.

The first one I got is a metallics mystery bag. I recognize the typical Kreinik, Rainbow Gallery and DMC metallics (yuck!). I've heard of Madeira and one of these is by Access Commodities, but the rest is a complete mystery and I have no idea how they are used. If you recognize any of it, please don't hesitate to chime in below. I'd love to know what I can do with them.

The second bag I got I'm VERY happy with. This mystery bag was for Japanese embroidery. The description was products from the JEC and it could contain silks or metallic threads. I didn't get any silks, but I did get lots of metallic thread. They also included a felt block for needles and a hybrid #9 needle. I will have to bring these at the next Japanese Embroidery get together so I can learn what I can do with each. Honestly for the price I paid, I wish I got a second one of this bag instead of the metallics mystery bag. Too late now.

Other than that, I had a very productive long weekend. I'd been steadily working away on a course that I have been testing for the EAC for the past month. I can't share pictures as it's a new class that will be offered in the fall, maybe later I will be able to. Now that it's over I can go back to my regular scheduling and put in some good progress on Foxy and the others. Hopefully, I will be able to a share an update of my progress sometime this week.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Mishmash of Updates

Since we had a long weekend, I had more stitching time. I just wish I had the energy to take advantage of it. I mostly spent it lazing around, but did try to put in a tiny bit of stitching everyday.

Foxy came back out for a second attempt at couching the passing thread. With some tips from fellow stitchers on Instagram, I was able to get that first one in properly. The main suggestion was to draw a line on the felt to use as a guide. Once the first row went in the rest were easy to align. I got all the way to the edge of the ear on each side and stopped there. I decided to plunge these ones first before moving on so it would be easier to see where to stitch in the little bits. I got the chance to try out a curved needle for the first time and let me tell you it is AWESOME! I wish I had it when I was trying to frame my pieces in the spring.

Click on post to see animation
My friend Nancy hosts Japanese Embroidery retreats once a month at her house for some stitching. It's a good way to encourage us to put in some progress on our pieces. They all do the traditional Japanese Embroidery. While I worked on my bead embroidery phase 1 piece, Nancy was working on finishing her phase 5 piece (she's already taken all 10 classes) and the other lady was working on a combined phase 2 and 3 piece. I didn't do much since I was low on energy, but I'm very happy that I finished one row of flowers. I've also realized that by stitching a specific pattern instead of just randomly picking colors, I will not have enough garnet and dark and light topaz beads. Luckily I can contact the JEC for more, but I have enough to work on it again when we meet up next month.

While I was there, Nancy lent me her Needlework system 4 floor stand and I must say it's fantastic. It doesn't tire my arm so much as I don't have to raise them to stitch like I do right now with my table stand. I will have to keep it in mind when I start shopping for a floor stand. It's a very light-way, easy to transport and put-away.


Hedebo Enchantment also got some time. I finished the border that goes around the entire center.

Now I really need to start working on the smaller squares. I decided to start easy and finished square #1. This one uses taellesyning and platvaerk. Taellesyning is a form of counted thread work and platvaerk simply means satin stitch.

No stitching for me tonight as I have a cake to finish. It's my sister's birthday and I promised her a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I baked the two layers yesterday but I have to make the icing today and decorate it. Crossing my fingers it comes out pretty. I will have plenty of stitching time this weekend though as we have another holiday coming up, this time to celebrate Canada Day.

Monday, June 26, 2017


I'm very late for TUSAL this month. We had a long weekend here celebrating St-Jean Baptiste which is a provincial holiday in Quebec. This means I made some progress on a few WIPs :) TUSAL in June was very white mixed in with some orange.

Monday, June 19, 2017


I didn't get much stitching Saturday as we were invited to a friend's wedding. This meant I had a busy morning and then my evening was full. It was a lovely reception. We lost power half-way through which gave a lovely atmosphere for the couple with all the candles.

I woke up the next day ready to tackle Foxy again. The first order of business was ironing on the cotton interfacing Natalie sent me. I really like the quality of it (much better than the other one I previously used for Hana). I will have to find out where I can buy more.

The next step on Foxy was couching the passing on the head.

Unfortunately, my first go was really crooked. It's really important to get that first one right because otherwise the rest of the lines will look wrong.

While I was waiting for advice in Instagram, I decided to take out Hedebo Enchantment and work on setting up the smaller squares. I got so engrossed in getting them all done, I never stopped stitching and completely forgot about Foxy.

This means that I will have to get the head done this week in order to be able to catch up for this weekend.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Introducing Foxy

A while ago I showed this kit by Becky Hogg that my sister brought back for me from the RSN. My friend Natalie from Sew by Hand asked if I would be interested in a stitch along with her and Catherine from Hillview Embroidery. We each had a kit from Becky Hogg's; I have fox and Natalie and Catherine both have the owl. We settled on a June first start but things got in the way.

We decided to start this weekend and to at least take out the pamphlet to read and stitch the felt. The kit comes with everything needed to start stitching.

I only had to provide a hoop, this one is 6", and scissors. You can use the hoop that comes with the kit, but it could get cramped.

I didn't line the back of the fabric for now. Natalie is sending me some cotton interfacing to try out. I will probably put that in before I start on any of the metalwork.

It turns out that the felt included in the kit is polyester and not wool. It's not as bad as the polyester felt I stitched with before but it would be better to switched it out for wool if you have it on hand. I decided not to bother switching it out as the pattern is already printed on the felt and I just wanted to jump into stitching.

Here's an animation of the felt being applied. I really enjoy this process. I enjoy it so much, I tend to put way more stitches on the lower layers :P

click on the post to view the video

Here is my fox all felted. All the different pieces were the right size except the head. I had a hard time covering the markings with the felt. It should be fine though as these will be covered later with the purl pearl.

For this project, I took the opportunity to test out the seat frame my sister got me. I didn't use it as a seat frame, instead I just put it on my desk and placed my puffin from seminar on the base as a frame weight. He's heavy enough for it, so the setup was really great :)

The next step will be starting metalwork embroidery on the head which involve a lot of couching.