Tuesday, June 15, 2021

I am confused by the Unicorn instructions

 I was happy to see that the directions and materials stayed with the canvas on the Unicorn Pillow.   This is making it possible to finish a project that was in UFO state for four decades (from the early 1980s to today).  

But in addition to the stitch guide issue that I mentioned in the introduction post, I have hit a bit of an odd instruction.

don't you love the mimeograph directions with the hand written edit


"Outline Stitch", yes, I know what that is.  But the actual directions are for STEM stitch (thread below the needle when stitching from left to right).   Mary Corbet's tutorial for OUTLINE stitch clearly states to keep the working thread ABOVE the needle when stitching left to right.   There's a LOT of "outline stitch" in this piece - used as a filler as well as the actual outlining in crewel wool, which takes the place of backstitching in counted cross stitch.

As I look at the cover photo, it gets even more complicated.  Some of the lines have the characteristic 'rope' look of stem stitch, while other lines are less defined, so outline.  The Persian Wool is S twist, so Stem Stitch will make the 'rope', which I like the look of.    

I'll just say that the editor wasn't a stickler for nomenclature and to be honest, the two stitches are often used interchangeably by needle-workers, sometimes even in the same piece!  The reason that I try to not make that mistake is that I got down graded on a 4H Fair submission for it once.  Nothing like getting a red instead of a blue ribbon to make one pay attention!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Slow Sunday Stitching - June 13, 2021

 Well, I've been stitching this week!  This is an improvement.

I've put in a couple of hours on the Unicorn Pillow.  Part of that was getting it the rest of the way set up.  I got a nifty thumbtack pusher and puller set from Lacis (recommended years ago on Mary Corbet's excellent site) that makes getting a canvas mounted a lot less stressful than the staple gun I used to use.

And I sorted all the threads.  This kit uses both embroidery floss (all 6 strands) and Persian wool (2 of the three strands) on a 12 count mono canvas.  The quality of the wool and canvas is quite good for a mass market kit, but the floss is not DMC or Anchor.   It's much thinner and not as tightly spun.  There's a large area of white background done in the floss and I'm thinking about subbing out DMC Blanc to hopefully get better coverage.  AND there are blends!  Wool and cotton blends - very odd to handle.

See the introduction to this project for where I started.   I got the nose done and have the background around the unicorn's face started.   The solid blue around the lower neck was already done, but all of the area between the horn and the muzzle is new.

I also managed a bit on Lucy Boston (my #LunchHourCrafting and travel project).  I still haven't figured out the neutral yet, so once I finished the center squares area of the first alternate block, I went on to the second one. 

And I got a few inches in on the Sock Yarn Blanket, around 8 inches to go until the next corner (the last corner on round 8).   It's good to be back in the routine again.  (Linking up with SSS.)

Thursday, June 10, 2021

2021 Rotation #3 Start

 Wow, my rotation got sort of bollixed up the last month or so.   When the crafting slump hit in mid May, I stopped stitching for the most part and just messed around with the Plaza Sewing Bag trying to figure out where things left off and putting in the over one names / dates that weren't already done.  Then it was Blackbird weekend. So, Rotation #3 for the year is starting off to a rather rocky beginning.  But it's time to get back into the groove.

First up is the new 'not counted thread' UFO.  The Unicorn Pillow.   Traditional needlepoint and crewel on canvas.  Here's where I'm starting:

This project is from about 1981.  My boyfriend (later husband)'s mother gave me the kit for either my birthday or Christmas the first year we were dating.  I collected unicorns as a teen, and Walt must have told her about my collection, which I did display in my house at the time.  My mother in law was not a needleworker, but she always loved to see what I was working on.

While I've done a fair bit of needlepoint over the years, I have been very spoiled.  I worked on three different 'group' projects with large budgets and very high quality hand painted canvases.  This was not a high quality kit, being a printed canvas instead of one of the hand painted canvases that I prefer.  My second preference is for a counted thread style chart (like the birds on the tissue box cover a few years back).  I do like the design though.

The problem with printed canvas is that unlike a hand painted canvas, there's no guarantee that each thread intersection is a single, distinct and clear color.  They get 'off registration' in the printing process, the print is also not accurately pixelated, so the stitcher is somewhat left guessing what threads to put where.

The other issue is that the stitch guide for this project is very hard to read.  Instead of being printed to a grid, it's a hand drawn picture, with the colors very sketchily indicated.  Luckily, the cover photo stayed with the project in storage and I'm actually using that as much (or more) than the stitch guide!

I have got the canvas edge binding repaired where it had come loose and have it re-mounted on a fixed frame.  First off is to puzzle out the nose......

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Introducing the "last" needlework UFO - Plaza Sewing Bag

I have been diligently working down the UFO pile; it's down to two 'not counted thread' projects (the Unicorn Pillow is now in the rotation) and one last project that I have not mentioned yet.  If I REALLY really want to get to "UFO zero", I need to stop procrastinating on this project. 

This project has been in what @Handworkmaniac calls "craft prison" for a reason.  "Craft Prison" is where you put a project which has an issue that may cause it to be totally abandoned.  However, you can also sort of see what might need to happen to get it to a finish even if you aren't sure it's worth it.  That's definitely the status of this project.  It has a HISTORY!  

Back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, I was involved (a founding member, treasurer) of the sadly defunct Kansas City Historic Sampler Guild.  One of the other founding members was a designer and did a whole series of smalls exclusive to the guild.  (One of her designs is what I'm modifying for the second tape measure cover.) She also did some designing for a local shop, the Counting Cottage.

In 2003, that shop did a class for a vintage inspired (1930s) sewing bag in the same design style style as all the guild smalls and inspired by the same historic area (The Country Club Plaza) in KC.  The kit materials are lovely and the stitching is fiddly but fun with lots of specialty stitches in the details.  BUT, the shop closed before the second class on how to assemble the project.  

So I am left with two large, basted pieces of linen and no finishing instructions to speak of, just some hints in the description and layout sections of the pattern!   I've lost track of the designer and don't remember who else was in the class.   So I'm not sure if I just didn't get the final instructions or if they were never sent out. 

Back of Bag

Pattern Back

Front of Bag

Pattern Front

This project went out on the second UFO Round Robin in 2009.   But I didn't really pick it up again once it came home (unlike Dutch Beauty where the RR got me "over the hump" and excited about the project again).  This is not one of the projects that I lost track of like the unicorn pillow, and it is not one I worked on every now and then prior to having my stitching mojo kick-started by joining the Slow Sunday Stitching crew like Dutch Beauty.  No, this one I just ignore, pass over, shove in the back of the storage container and never pull out.   

I think what I need to do is to make a mock up of the bag.  Pull out some muslin or quilting cotton, mark it up with the same lines as the basting and try to figure out exactly how to assemble it (and take really GOOD notes).  If I can get past the "I have no idea how this thing will go together" point, the actual stitching should be fine.   That is my goal for next week when I am on vacation.

I'm being sort of a grump about this because between the end of the guild and missing all of those ladies, especially Meredith, and a good LNS (not exactly LOCAL, it was a 2 hour drive) store closing, there's a lot of bad karma wrapped up in this piece.   But I still like the design and I'd love to have a cool bag for the guild smalls set.  So maybe this project will be on parole soon!

(pattern photos Copyright 2003 Meredith A. Rosenblum)

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Slow Sunday Stitching - June 6, 2021

There's often a point in the summer where all I want to do is curl up in a recliner and read ALL THE BOOKS.  It usually lasts a couple of weeks and is probably a reflection of how I often spent childhood summers (there were Girl Scout and church camps and swimming lessons and crafts and chores, of course).   But I have very fond memories of lazing about in the porch swing after a trip to library.

This year, it hit both earlier and longer than usual.   In the month of May, I got very little crafting done.  I got the stitching done on the tape case, which I hope to show as a finished object soon.  I did about 10 inches on the sock yarn blanket - not nearly as much as 8 novels and countless fanfiction short to novella length reads would normally have produced.  Yes.  I read without my knitting in hand.  Shocking.

I got started on the first of the four alternate blocks for Lucy Boston, though this progress was almost all at Alexis' softball games this week.

love the fussy cutting!

 But all of that is what would normally be a week's worth of crafting! 

This is the first weekend of the month, which means it's time for #BBDweekendSAL. Hopefully this will kick-start my mojo.  I did stitch for several hours yesterday - more than I did in all of May, so there's hope.  "First Offering" is coming along.  I still have mixed feelings on the 40 count Picture this Plus fabric.   I am stitching slower than I do on 32 count, even with magnification.   But as this is only my second project on forty count, I will hopefully improve with practice.  I do like working with one strand of the silk.

On the up side, I have been getting out more now that my family and I are all fully vaccinated.   I went to several end of year activities for the grandkids, the above mentioned softball games, the open house at their gymnastics gym (Alexis does gymnastics, Carl does 'ninja warrior') and church is back to open (though still masked).   Work is still at home through the summer; after Labor Day is the current schedule.   

Linking up with the SSS crew, because accountability is a good thing.  (current roundup)

Friday, May 21, 2021

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Slow Sunday Stitching - May 9, 2021

Missed posting in the Slow Sunday Stitching link up last week.  There's not been a lot of crafting the last couple of weeks.   Work has been busy, and what free time I have had is being spent in the garden.

I did get the last of the main Lucy Boston "Patchwork of the Crosses" blocks finished.

And I have a confession.  I succumbed to the Blackbird SAL temptation last weekend.  But at least I did so modestly.  This is "First Offering", a free chart.  It's 72 x 126, so not very big.  I'm doing it on 40 count linen, one strand over two threads in NPI silk thread.   Since I'll only work on it one day a month (first Saturday), I'll ignore it for rotation purposes.  

The only other thing I accomplished is to get to the next corner (Round 8, Corner #3) on the sock yarn blanket.  I'll work on that today after church.  I have to knit today in honor of my mom, who taught me to knit before I was in Kindergarten.  Miss you, mom.

(My sister on the left, me in the middle and our mom c 2006.  Mom's hair was red before she went platinum grey.  I take after my dad with the straight dark hair, though mine was a dark auburn until I was in my forties.)

Linking up with the SSS crew (link to current roundup).