Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Embroidery on the No-Slip Hoop!
I honestly didn't believe a no-slip hoop existed!  They are made by Morgan Quality Products of Chanhassen, MN ( and cost more than the average hoop.  But are they ever worth it!  You will note the huge screw and nut apparatus on the side.  That, combined with cleverly molded smooth plastic, makes a hoop that is a joy to work with!
Here is Nubi performing the Cat Test - leaning his weight against the stretched fabric.  It stayed in place!  Hollywood sat on it for some minutes yesterday, but I was on the phone and couldn't get a picture.  You have to get used to this sort of thing with cats.

I designed the picture after Mucha's 'Le Reve', using one of the sack cloth tea towel blanks.  Then I became discouraged.  The hoop I had was old and wouldn't hold the fabric taut, and then there was another problem.  Who the deleted expletive wants a tea towel?  I finally decided to sew the thing together and stuff it as an accent pillow; people actually enjoy those.  A hobby is a lot more satisfying if somebody is likely to enjoy the results.

I've used a full variety of embroidery thread to make this project special - metallic, acrylic, satin (rayon), and cotton, including heavy, single strand pearl cotton.  I even used (ssh!) fine knitting wool.

When I was first learning about knitting threads, I had a chance to buy some baby alpaca.  I'd read about alpaca all my life, so I wanted to try some.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize that 'baby' meant a very thin, fine yarn, also known as 'fingering'.  Obviously, some people knit and crochet with it, but that tiny thread just turns into knots and snarls for me.  It does, however, embroider beautifully and provided me a nice leafy effect.

You can make art with cloth and thread - just make sure it's art somebody would want in their house.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Embroidery Project
I've embroidered since my preteen years, but, now that I'm a Hobbies Examiner for, I've been trying to think of meaningful, relevant embroidery projects.  Yes, embroidery has been important historically, but part of that time it was important as a refined, meaningless occupation for ladies.  I mean, who ever wanted to use the painfully worked stuff?  It was just a husband-catching mechanism.
I've thought up a few projects that might actually make a desirable gift for a loved one.  My first is pictured above.  I've included the sketch on the embroidery frame, the photo original I took it from, and the stencil I used to add some holiday greenery.  The little blue dots mark the boundaries of my project.  I plan to compete and hem this picture and sew it onto a 4" x 4" 'blank' tote bag.  This ought to make an attractive gift, and it shouldn't be beyond the ability of an average embroiderer.
Then I realized that a lot of embroidery methods aren't basic, everyday knowledge, so I wrote this article:
Embroidery is such a huge field, bigger even than knitting or crocheting.  I was amazed to find YouTube embroidery videos from Mumbai and Multan - quite a different kind than what I learned!
Now I am trying to choose the most accessible, least daunting techniques to write about.  Embroidery is part of a woman's heritage.  Since all the textile work was thrown at us, we developed our own language and expression in it.  We need to find that part of ourselves again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Very Slowly Making an Afghan
Let's face it: this isn't a project for summer.  I started in the spring and have been going at my own pace.  Actually, I got the idea when I combined the big Sensations Rainbow Classic yarn (looks like a watermelon!) with Deborah Norville's Chunky Serenity.  I had intended to make a bunch of potholders and tote bags.  Then I saw how the colors worked together in such a varied, subtle way.  No!  Such beauty deserves a larger scope.  I decided to make an afghan - for me.  If somebody else likes it, I might make them one.
For maximum variety with minimal knowledge of patterns, I decided to crochet and knit panels alternately and sew them together.  The panels are 17" to 19" wide, and I decided a full panel should be 60" long.  That's as long as my tape measure is, and a five foot length is enough to provide a cover for the average human.  I don't know yet how many panels I'll make to complete the project.
Of course you'll have noticed Hollywood sitting on the edge of my project.  He has to get involved in anything big.  The really nice thing is that I don't have to worry if he sheds or throws up on it.  ACRYLIC YARN WASHES!  I can have something beautiful and not worry if the cat throws up on it.  Picture me dancing.
Come winter, Hollywood will be under the afghan whenever I have it out.