About Me

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

TAST 38 & 39 CITYSCAPE, 3:00 a.m.

As soon as I started the knotted buttonhole bands I sensed they would take on an architectural element. I started staggering the top peach bands with skyscrapers in the back of my mind. I thought they looked like pieces from an erector set, but soon I was thinking bridge girders!

Unfortunately I began the sampler with the center horizontal band. I used a Caron Watercolours, and I have to say I've come to the conclusion that the color spacing for these threads is too long to add anything special to my sampler works unless used as a border. In other words, I'm wasting specialty stash! For this band I made the foundation bars (sparking ribbon that doesn't particularly show up) of different lengths, so in the wider areas I could work extra stitches or half stitches. I rather think it looks like a macrame bracelet. It's positioning then limited my working area. I decided to pretend it was a double decker bridge and considered making reflections of the buildings in the water below. Boring. Instead I switched colors and made vertical bands of different lengths and heights. Peach bands were angled at the end of the central band and perle cotton woven down the center. Nothing accomplished in doing this, unless maybe you look sideways and see a dragonfly.

At this point I abandon TAST 38. With all my catch-up TAST's I don't want to start over and I don't want to waste time. Imagine my surprise checking In a Minute Ago this morning to find TAST 39; I thought it was Saturday -- not only do I still have jet lag, I'm calendar challenged, as well.

To combine TAST's or not to combine? It occurs to me that before anything else I need to try to fill in the doodle and make an attempt at balancin the elements. This accounts for the scrolly thingy to add curve. I made the foundation bars with rayon ribbon and worked half a band stitch, reversing the direction midway. I wondered if this was really a knotted buttonhole stitch, but concluded that because it is worked over a bar, then it's legitimately half of a knotted buttonhole band. I next threaded more peach ribbon under the unstitched bars.
I wanted the bottom half to be heavier than the top. I began experimenting using a deeper shade of melon perle. I used the bottom of the blue half band as bars and worked the stitches from blue stitch to blue stitch. I did two knots, reversing the looping of each (I figured if I didn't do this, I'd be back to plain knotted buttonhole.). Above I used small straight stitches & French knots on the outer curve (reverse below). To get it more of the coral color, I did a short reversed buttonhole bar in two colors and made a "moon" using two rows of BH bar, alternating thread color every other loop.

I kept looking at this now very strange doodle and still couldn't get the idea of a suspension bridge from my mind. Of course! It's the Golden Gate! It's the San Francisco skyline as seen in the wee hours by someone a little tipsy. That big number 3 represents all the neon city lights. That leaning building on the left? Why that's the landmark Quoit Tower. That's my story and that's my hand dye in the background.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I thoroughly enjoyed making this mini sampler in Rice and Boss stitches. The predominant thread used was Caron's
Watercolours in "Winter Wheat". I also used silk perles from Vicki Clayton in either "Bojii" or "Seaweed" and
"Dapple Gray". The darkest gray here is silk and wool yarn in laceweight. My background is a scrap I hand dyed with a mixture of bright yellow and fuschia.
My scanner has been wonky with color of late. Instead of the mellow harvest gold you see here, my background is actually a bright golden orange or orangey yellow. In fact, I think it's a leftover piece from Pinata.
As said I liked these two stitches and the effects I was able to achieve with mixing and matching. I hope to return to these and play more with blocks of color in the composition as Sharon showed.


CABLE CHAIN: #3 perle cottons and rayon floss and yarn worked on cotton duck background. If I'd known when I started I'd be adding the "shishas" , I would have stabilized the fabric. As it was I just let my needle meander in cable chains. I played with covering stitches as well as chains of assorted size. The 2-row arc at the top was made using two threads in the needle, alternating colors. The heavier chain to the left began with a chain of #3 perle doubled. Although it doesn't show clearly, the medium #3 was laced around both sides of the chains. I used pearl gray in #3 to lace one side only and used a double strand of rayon yarn to tack these 4=strand edges.

SHISHA STITCH: When I'd done all I wanted to with cable chain, I went on to the shisha stitch. Not having any mirrors, I made do with a quarter and a flatbacked acrylic "gem". The "jewel" is faceted and domed, making it difficult to stay within the base threads. I knew from past experience to use a dab of glue, but I skipped this step and the result is apparent with the sloppy, uneven stitches.
As often happens to me, I ended up flipping the sampler. I just think it's more interesting upside down as an unintended figure seems to emerge, and it looks like he's breaking the chains that bind -- or not.

NOTE: There is a great back issue of Piecework Magazine with an article on applying shisha with different stitches.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Arriving first at my father's home in the Bay Area, I'd've thought there'd be no trouble finding a computer for downloading the TAST stitching assignments. First stop in my quest the local library. Closed! What library is closed on a weekday??? Still early, I drive to the next library, a main library, and I should be early enough to find a parking space on the square surrounding it.
Hah! Circling the third time, I notice all the people waiting for the doors to open. All the people turn out to be teenagers. I'm thinking summer programs. I think again, "They're there to swoop down on the computers!"

Yellow pages give no promise of cyber cafes or nearby places for renting computer time. I'd call a friend, but I don't have any still in town. If I knew any of Dad's neighbors, I'd be knocking on doors. I briefly consider ringing random doorbells. Thankfully common sense prevailed over my increasing anxiety. Does anybody ever suffer withdrawal from homework? Finally, in the deepest, darkest, post-midnight hours of my despair, the answer comes: senior center!!!
Early morning finds me there (it's within walking distance!) delighted to find an entire room filled with computers. Apart from engagement in intriguing conversation with other users, I was easily able to print out 3 weeks of stitches.

Sorry to say, I never got back to the Bay Area until time to fly home. Typically during the summer, I'd get to Tahoe maybe once a week for shopping and errands. It's only a 10 mile drive, but involves a boat trip to a public landing with limited parking just to get to the car. Factor in windy weather and my limited stamina for getting up and down the granite steep to our cabin... I made my way to the South Tahoe Senior Center once, but the two computers there were occupied. I didn't bother with the library since it was still vacation time.

I savored the time to work on the stitches I had and also the beaded journal pages. When not absorbed in those activities I was reading. Thanks to my LED book light, I can read whenever insomnia strikes. I finished at least a dozen books, including several historical perspectives of
Native Americans. Obviously this was on my mind while working on this piece:

What could be more appropriate for this sampler than Arrowhead Stitch! I used that predominately along with Sheaf Stitch in cotton and silk floss and perles. The teepees I created with ink stained Tyvek leftover from "Rock Island". As I folded and manipulated the Tyvek, I thought about the early Lakotah women assembling their lodges and dismantling them again when the tribe changed encampment. The color of the Tyvek fabric seemed just right for the buffalo hide covers. The entry flap of the right teepee is open to show the interior blackened by smoke from the lodge fire and a little piece of fuzzy yarn is supposed to be the buffalo robe used for sleeping. Eagles, big horn sheep, elk, grizzly bears and trout were at one time prevalent in all our western mountains. Native peoples wintering there would have made their way to the plains for seasonal buffalo hunting. Having had to fell two small lodgepole pines this summer, I have new regard for those long, straight teepee poles that had to be dragged from camp to camp.

Go Fly a Kite! Why not kites, colorful, simple or fancy?
My kites always seemed to land in trees; still kites evoke for me images of happiness.
Seed, Delica and buglebeads embroidered on moire. The focal point is a vintage, design under glass cabochon from Germany. The floral called for a formal look, so my effort an attempt at scrolling lines with different golds and irridescence for a Baroque look . I tried not to clutter the background and let the flowers come to fore. Colors here are not accurate. Background fabric is a creamy ivory, and the golds are much warmer than appear here. The darker beads are more purple but with definite gold flash.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


My vacation excitement included a forest fire (the horrible Angora fire at South Lake Tahoe and just over the ridge from our lake), a ranch wedding (bride delivered by her grandfather in a 2-horse buggy), a cattledrive, and a 90th birthday party.

My vacation sorrow included the passings of a cabin neighbor, a true blue friend, a near constant companion, and a beloved aunt just turned 90.

Despite the above, my vacation included much needed R&R with time for creative pursuits like unsuccessful but fun experimentation with chartreuse lichen as a dye, more rust dyeing (hatchets & stove plates work great, old screens don't), progress on my EGA hardanger project, completion of my July bead embroidery journal page and start of August's, two-thirds of a fringed bracelet, and keeping up with TAST as best I could (4 weeks down, 11 to catch up on), and teaching my daughter to scrumble (at forty-something she's decided to learn to knit and crochet and seems completely uninhibited about freeform). Here's what I got done.

TAST 26 - Half Chevron: I have to say the appearance of this sampler improves only slightly in the cloth; the colors do blend a bit better. I finished this piece waiting for delayed and cancelled flights on my way to California. I thought the raspberry stacked rows would be good for lacing with ribbon, but I didn't have anything that worked with me.
To be continued...