About Me

Friday, October 09, 2009


Everything in my life is on hold as I deal with the murder of my firstborn grandchild, a beautiful young woman and mother of three.  I am still stunned from the devasting news and expect closure will not be forthcoming until the killer is found and brought to justice.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Although I divided my time among other creative pursuits, I managed to get in quite a bit of knitting. I have only the collar and finished edges remaining in the blazer-vest I discussed in my previous post. As predicted, it was an ideal long travel project.

I took along another project, a lace ring scarf using Schaefer's Andrea in the colorway Elena Piscopia. I had my LYS order the yarn and also the Heartstrings pattern: H45-7041, but I took so long in picking it up, the owner started the Ring of Lace Wrap herself -- in my chosen color!
And yes, I did snatch it off her needles -- at her offering, of course. She had only a few rows done, and oh that I had kept them and purchased her needles. The pattern calls for a crochet cast on of 300 stitches. Just keeping count of that many stitches in a fine thread was challenge for me, more frustrating each time I had to begin over after several false starts. I heard lace is forgiving, so I kept going, mistakes and miscounts in the first few rows notwithstanding. I'm several inches of pattern rounds now, and I became comfortable and overconfident with the ease of progress. Agggghhhh. Complacency strikes again! I forgot to yo at the beginning of my last row. I'm just not up to dealing with removing 300 (or whatever number I may have ended up with -- oh the shame) barely visible stitches to correct the problem and am contemplating a suicidal leap into the frog pond.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I've been thinking for awhile about what to take along as a summer knitting project. Two things are within reach of my passenger seat, camera and something to knit or crochet. When I'm not Nancil Adams ever alert for photo ops, I'm Nanci Navigator; in either mode I don't have time to rererence chart or detailed pattern directions. Ideally a project should be, well, I won't say mindless, interesting enough to hold my interest without becoming a distraction.

What I am taking this year should have been the least of my considerations. It's a sleeveless blazer from Knitter's Magazine that I have been admiring for nigh onto a decade. I've been waiting all this time for "just the right yarn". The design called for a handpaint in a shetland coupled with a baby loop in a deeply contrasting color. I wanted primary colors against navy. I did not want a boucle giving me added bulk. My years long quest had me often contemplating Koigu sock yarns, but I could never make a choice among all the colorways, and besides, it would have made the project a bit pricey, and what would that do to me if I hated it after knitting it up? A recent offering from Elann.com seemed to fit my need, and after consulting with their staff, I ordered it along with a solid blue that would blend. I changed my mind about the navy, and opted for a blending blue, a less stark contrast I hoped would be more subtle, ergo more flattering.

You can see in my swatches my plan didn't quite come together. The blue all but disappeared in the background panes. The multi colors are actually less than my crayon expectations. What appears as bright red here is actually hot pink. The green, though, is indeed the deep olive it looks -- not the bright verdance I'd anticipated. Dwell on the top swatch only long enough to realize I obviously garbled the directions. The stitch pattern (panes of multicolor alternated with those having a cross frame within) of the original design is not there, the color carry-overs on the right side don't belong there, but far worse, the stitch instruction required like 14 rows.
Agggghhhh. Not pretty. Not suitable for travel.

Just curiosity had me make another swatch with a simpler slip stitch. Hmm. Gauges the same.
Certainly looks tidier. Easy peasy knitting...

I already have about six inches done! It's knit in one piece to the armholes. This is a project I can work on and off and not lose my place. BTW, this garment is called a sleeveless blazer because it has a tailored, notched collar. I'm not so sure how I'll like border loops that go completely around. If it looks too fluffy, I'll do a simple crochet picot and/or eliminate some of the frous-frous.

I'll be westbound tomorrow if I can get packed. It's insane, but I want to get one more blog off before I face a computerless summer. If I don't, I'll have plenty to write about when I get back this fall.

Friday, May 22, 2009


If you refer to my previous post further down the page, you'll see that I completed the design I began with work in casalguidi. Here I've put the spin on it so you can see it in different rotations. Funny, while working on it, I thought the correct orientation had the two butterflies on the left, but I think I like it best with the butterflies at 12:00. The words are important only in that they indicate the months of the stitch exploration, although I did wrap "MAY".
I used two shades of Watercolours, regular cotton floss, and perle cottons in #5, #10 and #12.
The wheel began as a circle stitched with knotted buttonhole with spokes added evenly spaced from the center. I worked detached buttonhole around the inside of the circle and making a crescent shape on one side. From the center of the circle I wove with the same perle as the spokes, followed by two rows with watercolours. Next I wove three spokes together, then two sets of two wrapped spokes, 2 individually wrapped spokes, and finally two more spokes wrapped together that look like a continuation of the first three spokes. Five spokes remain bare but with the illusion of looking different lengths.
The first arc from the wheel has a foundation of parallel lines of backstitch (Watercolours). I used perle to wrap the two lines with a loop effect. The next arc begins with a line of barred chain, over which I worked surface coral stitch, knotting each of the underlying bars. Later I extended the line with regular coral stitch. The short arc is simply two rows of running stitch with the "bars" alternating. Then a second thread is woven .
I thought I was finished until I saw Sharon B's recent tutorial on weaving a picot and I had to try it right then. The closest stitchable thing was my April-May sampler segment. Cool. I thought I'd be stitching a cluster of leaves, but the angle of my second picot made me think of wings. I made two more and judged these butterfly/moth thingies deserved to stay on my doodle design by merit of their spontaneity and because they verify my use of words (remember, MAY is comprised of wrapped straight stitches). A few more fillers : tied crosses, French knots, eyelets.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stitch Explore 09 - April: Casalguidi

Here is my effort at Casalguidi. It is just a sampling of some of the raised and pulled stitches. I enjoyed these and will probably add more. I went to a linen fabric for the pulled work, and it was a refreshing change from the red, white and blue on gray I had been using. Here, too, is proof that I do use a hoop on occasion.

I'm not certain, but the fabric may be Dublin. I began the long, meandering line by couching down a cotton yarn. I satin stitched over it with #8 perle, then did the over stitching with Caron Watercolours. Then I made more lines with buttonhole bars and detached buttonhole. I used plain buttonhole to stay stitch consistent and for flat contrast. I worked a few bullion knots because they were mentioned and because they are such fun to do. ;-)

For the pulled stitches I used #12 perle and worked part of the pattern provided in Carol's pulled stitch tutorial. From her whitework lessons I tried, I'm not sure how successfully, to make faggots with a #5 perle. These showed up better than the stitches done with #12. I think #8 or #10 would have been better choices; I didn't have any on hand but a few that would color clash.

You realize the above is just doodling. I'm sure there are many ways to vary these stitches . The whole time I was thinking how I might distort or make the stitches irregular, so I have some ideas I'll save for another playtime session.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stitch Exploration 09: March - Assisi


The rose to the left is from an internet pattern. I just used part of it to get a feel for the stitch. I've done cross stitch , and although I know Assisi work in principle, I've never stitched it.

I have trouble recognizing negative space, so I was relieved to learn I could outline before working the background if I wanted. Next I had to figure out what to use as a design. I couldn't get past the association of St. Francis whenever I tried to think Assisi .
I wanted some color for the background but didn't have the ambition or time to attempt an outdoor scene. I went for a stained glass look , contemporary, with a hint of a cross and just the suggestion of a church window. Most of the background filler is cross stitch done with single strands of cotton floss. As you can see I ran out of fabric length.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I'm still working on the Textured Surfaces class I took from Lynda Monk and Carol McFee. I've had so much fun and am learning so much as I perform little experiments every day. Gathering in new art supplies and learning their properties, I'm finding the total satisfaction I missed when I finally got the chemistry set I nagged my parents for way back when. Each day has been Christmas morning and I get to play with a new toy.

In this class (you can register on their FiberInform website for future offerings) we used a variety of backgrounds suitable for stitching and how to create texture and color with different mediums. I've prepared twenty or more samples up to the color stage. Today I show my first two examples. Here is the before picture which doesn't show very much. It is 140# watercolor paper from a tablen. After priming I used molding gel which I swirled around and imprinted with bubble wrap. I wondered about the gel taking color since it is transparent. But look what happened after I added paints and waxes. I can add surface embroidery or even machine stitch at this point.

The next sample began with a piece of canvas from an artist tablet. After applying the molding gel and pouncing around with small bubble wrap, I added cheesecloth and made more bubbles with a stencil and molding paste. When it came time for the painting, I used the wrong color by accident. Then I realized I did not have the interference paint called for and made do with what I had.

I also tried to make do with the metallic waxes I've had for a long time by freshening with xylene. That trick works, but I quickly discovered I could not apply with a light touch. As a result I played around with the addition of pewter over silver and even some mushroom dauber to tone it down. The end result reminded me of abalone shell. The actual piece looks nothing like the photo on the right. I tried scanning, I took camera pix from all different lighting. The canvas has deeper tones that don't show up; there's a lot more tonal interest there. Also from the camera angle and lighting you can't appreciate the irridescence and mettallic highlights that shine through the cheesecloth. The canvas is ready to stitch. I think it wants some gray pearls. I think I want to call it Casting Nets by Moonlight.
Drop by Chaska Peacock's website for info about her upcoming classes. Chaska always gives good instruction, lots of inspiration and always a surprise or two.

Friday, February 27, 2009

SPIRAL TRELLIS - February Stitch Exploration 09

The stitch for February's Exploration 09 is the Spiral Trellis. If you clicked on the second link you would see how beautiful and perfect are Sharon B's examples. I have not yet reached that level of expertise, but I like the stitch and plan to attempt more experiments.

The link I just mentioned directed me to 3 excellent tutorials. Still I had trouble in the beginning. As with most knotted stitches it takes me awhile to get thread wrap right. My first attempt was actually the plain trellis stitch that is worked back and forth in rows, whereas this trellis is worked continuously so a spiralling line of knots results. I looks very much like beading. After frogging my rectangular trellis fill, I went straight for a heart shape in spiral. I should have known better!

A & B are built up too high before decreasing, and the stitching lines aren't flowing. In B in used a chain stitch foundation, an I idea I read about on Elizabeth M's blog Quieter Moments. Elizabeth thoroughly researches stitches and is gracious to share her experiments. Trust me, Elizabeth can find the ultimate innovations possible in a stitch, and not only that, her needlework is supurb. Back to the doodle rag, my use of the chain ( I later learned from Elizabeth she used a reverse chain) was so I could add embellishing stitches to fancy up the dimensional heart. I was thinking of a lacy valentine. I forget what I had in mind adding a second row of backstitching around C. When I remember, I'll get back to it. I did make a heart, but it's sloppy . For D, I switched to a #3 pearl hoping it would help me see the knots and bars better. You can see it didn't work for me. I had a sloppy lacy top (I wasn't going for "lacy"), I lost the heart outline, and I still couldn't wrangle those knots into flowing lines. Didn't get better with E when I returned to #5 pearl.

Here is a continuation of the sampler I began last month. My designs are a little large to cover up the linty cloth underneath. I stitched a number of figures and ripped them all out , even though one of them was quite interesting. I wanted to see if I made an s-line into a snaky shape, could I build it up to create a third dimension. Answer, absolutely! Unfortunately it was weird looking. After building up the sides and finally drawing them together in a single line of knots, I had a leech! I would have saved it as a curiosity on my sampler had I not realized I needled in all the way around instead of needling out.

While the cloth still held together I went where I should have in the first place -- to a circle. I'm glad I went with the overlapping circle design because it gave me the opportunity to try for variation. I began with the navy circle and finally got the lines to spiral nicely. If I'd stuffed it, it would be a dome, but I let mine peak slightly so it actually resembles a Chinese hat. The light blue area is actually a partial circle, but I was still able to achieve the swirl by ending at one side and bringing the thread up again at the beginning. The partially eclipsed circle with the stripes was constructed exactly like the light blue one.

You can see I finally got a heart filled in. I'm not completely happy with the way the swirling knots come together in the center, but it's a start. On the other hand, I am very pleased with my 4-color spiral.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


This is the beginning of a sampler for Stitch Explorations 2009, a challenge in stitching techniques from Sharon Boggan. January's study is Chicken Scratch. It is basically weaving through straight stitch anchors and is a needlework commonly stitched over a checkered fabric. A typical example might be a gingham apron embellished, which could be fancy for a hostess or simple as a young girl's 4-H project. To me the traditional look is nostalgic, homey, the textile equivalent of comfort food.

I decided to begin a sampler for the 09 stitch explorations. I've admired Sharon B's rollable sampler and also liked the way she incorporated some current event. I just happened to begin my sampler the day of a presidential inauguration, and I chose patriotic colors to record my stitching. The cloth is a light gray hardanger fabric, and with the exception of the sparkly white, my threads were all basic cotton floss and #5 perles. This sampler is for me as I play and experiment with the stitches, so I don't worry about counting threads and proper centering; I just eyeball it.

What I tried to explore here was using different stitches to accomodate the weaving and also the use of multiple colors. The first solid across block of stitches is a failed experiment. I was going to weave small circles around large cross stitches. When it didn't work out, I added more stitches just to make it decorative. The first two circles in the following row are woven through stacked arrowheads. The next circle I think might be interesting in larger scale. I wanted to see what it would look like if three colors were used to weave concentrically through three straight stitch anchors. I couldn't get it to look right, so I switched to just one color for the weaving. You'll probably have to look at the enlarged picture to see the staggered effect. The fourth circle also utilizes 3 straight stitches in varying lengths as anchors. Fifth circle is another dud. The final segment has circles woven through 3 rows of cross stitch.

The next band is where I went from neat circles through even cretan stitches to freeform cretan stitching. I really love the irregular circles and the odd shapes formed in the negative space. In the final band I began with close set cretan stitches with the second row alternating points. The uneveness caused the top and lower circles to slant, while the center circles stayed normal. I think the effect might be more interesting had I reversed the threads. The rest of the band was more freeform play. It may appear like a couched thread, but what I actually did was scatter arrowhead stitches in varying size and orientation, then wove the thread as randomly as I could through the V's. Thread tension didn't show up when I sketched the idea, so the outcome was not as interesting as I'd hoped. Maybe more v-stitches in a different color and another color for threading. In fact I think I need to do just that to fill in that area and make the January segment look more balanced.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


The before angel is below. You can see I've made her halo larger, added a butterfly hair ornament, a magic wand and lots more fibery stuff including tulle and hand dyed scrim.


As previously mentioned, January's project in Chaska Peacock's Creative Sparks group was to create a doll that would represent us and what prosperity meant to us individually. We were to make dolls from a technique Chaska taught us that involved wrapping a wire armature. She gave us two examples of her own, one with her picture for the face and the other with a mirror face. You can see other examples from the class on her website

I initially had major reservations about using my own likeness on this doll. I learned a tragic lesson in being careful what one prays for, and I've avoided petitioning for personal favors ever since. After some deliberation I decided I could make a doll that simply represented prosperity,
good fortune and things people usually wish for. If I clarified in my intent that none of my loved ones would suffer as a consequence of fulfillment, then generalized wishes would be okay. I was going to include names of those with whom I'd most want to share the luck inside a tubular fabric bead I would make. Wouldn't you know the doll exerted its own creative guidance and eliminated the dilemma altogether.

As the doll took shape I noticed masculine characteristics. Not only did my doll choose to be male, he chose to be magical, as in anything-is-possible magic. My doll morphed into a genie!
Unlimited wishes could be mine for the asking. Neverending stash came immediately to mind -- after world peace and abundance for all, of course. I could wish for the moon. Instead I opted for the world on a silver platter (that ought to cover about anything).

Here are the details. I painted my guy red and named him Red Genie. I wrapped his arms with size 8 perle cotton floss. I wanted him dressed in red, but I only had small pieces of silk from my CQ stash, so instead of one robe, he sports separates. The paisley fabric was only long enough to cover from high waist down, so I made a tube and gathered both ends. I deliberately put the seamline down the front and ruched it slightly to give the suggestion of harem pants. I made slippers with curlicue fronts from air dry clay and painted them gold. They just peek out at the bottom and purposely look off-balance because, hey!, he's tripped over Happy Cat, who facing front has his right hand raised to bring personal riches and facing back has left hand up to promote good business and many customers. I don't have a business or clients, just covering the bases. One never knows. An apron of claret hangs from the neck down and is bordered with a piece of woven ribbon that repeats around the neck. A leftover snippet of paisley made a sleeve and draws across the back to blouse over the gathered waistband. Two rectangles of red silk stitched together in the back with gold metallic make a shawl that covers the bare shoulder. The ends cross in front beneath the arms for an added detail. He has some wired beads around the neckline and a handmade Chinese knot with charms hangs as a pendant (found it at a local Chinese restaurant). I used French wired ribbon for a sash and simply twisted the ends at the side to make a fan shape. Red Genie's turban is a swirl of silk chiffon from one of my dye batches. Atop it is a miniature Christmas ornament that is "bejeweled" and shaped like a turban or oriental onion dome. My man's face is glued to a bottle cap glued to a flat filigree medaillon.
He is looking down in shock as his silver tray spills. The tray was cut from the foil vacuum seal from a coffee can; a piece of lace is the doily.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Since my fourth return from CA this past year I've been quietly working on a number of things, some catch-up, some new comittments. Although I haven't posted, I feel comfortable with the degree of accomplishment, even though these may not have been measurable as finished "things". So much of what you will not see is evidenced in the art journals I've kept puruant to the Joggles class I took from Sharon Boggan. My journals have become a playful means of capturing ideas that tend to swirl through my head until overshadowed or forgotten.

I had thought I might ease off my creative involvements in 2009, but as usual, enthusiasm got the upper hand, and I find my studio calendar full. Call me weak. I cannot resist the temptation to learn something new even though my pragmatic self knows there will always be similar opportunities.

So far this month I have continued with Chaska Peacock's Creative Spirit Group. Following the angels class, January's lesson in creating a Prosperity Doll which involves wrapping around a wire armature. Mine is ready to dress and embellish, so you will see a picture soon. I also signed on for Lynda Monk and Carol McFee's course at FiberInform on textural surfaces. I have admired their work for so long, and now I have the opportunity to learn how to use the multi media materials to achieve different effects in texture and color.

I can never resist anything offered by Sharon B. I've started a sampler to go along with her
Stitch Explorations 2009, and I'll be sharing my variations of chicken scratch soon. I purchased Maggie Grey's latest book, Textile Translations: Mixed Media ,which comes with online studies and a Yahoo support group. I've deferred these lessons until I complete the FiberInform course even though I understand the Yahoo group will have disbanded by then.

In February I will stay with Chaska to learn how to make a cigar box altar. I will also be participating in a group book study at Goldilocks and Friends . We will be performing the exercises in Susan Stein's Fabric Art Workshop .