This week I’ve been practicing and experimenting with stitches using waste canvas from Pam Kellogg’s book, Elegant Crazyquilt Seam Treatments. It’s a treasure trove of tips and designs. I’m warming up for my next project which will be a crazy patchwork block using some goldwork.
In the meantime, doing counted stitches on the waste canvas reminded me of some counted stitch pieces I worked way back when I was just starting to teach myself different embroidery techniques. Because I had to live in seclusion, I could not go to classes or workshops; I had to depend on books. Fortunately, the Martinsburg library in West Virginia, where we were living at the time, had several shelves of needlework books. I borrowed most of them. Although I got design ideas from them, I always modified or adapted the designs, using different materials, different colors, different uses. Here’s a pillow I made just to see if I could follow a rather complicated chart. It’s stitched in crewel wool cross stitch on burlap (cheap) just for practice. It turned out so well that I gave it to my mother. It’s from 1997.
If you click twice on these images, you can enlarge them quite a bit.
Also done in 1997, this cityscape was also stitched in crewel wool, this time on canvas in what Erica Wilson calls “crewelpoint” because it combines needlepoint with crewel stitches. It represents row houses around a courtyard with garden plots in their backyards (recognize the veggies?) and a hedgerow–lots and lots of French knots. Adapted from a book design, for practice, and given to my daughter-in-law.
In 1996 I did some experiments with waste canvas and used the technique to cover some leaks that had sprung in an old cotton sweater. Gave it new life!
How different I looked 12 years ago. The changes come faster after 60, I’ll tell you!
In 1998 I stitched this pillow for my husband’s 73rd birthday. This kind of patterned stitching is not my most preferred technique. I like more free-form designs, but Ernie is fond of regular patterns and precision. I got the idea and the lettering from that great resource, Cross Stitch Calligraphy, by Iva Polansky. And I found out how enjoyable it is to stitch a repeat pattern, how meditative.
Finally, for this post, here is a shot that unfortunately cut off most of the frame, of the wedding gift I made for granddaughter Melissa. Since it is in New Jersey, I can’t re-shoot it. It features initials from Dover’s Ornamental Initials, a terrific book that comes with a CD, Polansky’s alphabets, dimensional flowers from Jenny Bradford’s Textured Embroidery, my own redwork pattern and use of gold and beads. That inner border is pearls. For these lettered pieces, I had to create charts using the designed letters.
This is very early work, when I was seeking a replacement for the consulting work I had loved and could no longer do. As you, my friends and readers know, needleart has become my new vocation. It is a gift.