Archive for September, 2008


Shisha is glass, and it is rough cut. Before using it on fabric, you have to smooth the edges with a honing stone. Maybe in these shots you can see the rough edges and the honing stone.

These two shisha are now glued to the fabric and I have begun stitching—at last!

Oh, and the beads I ordered arrived yesterday, too. They are perfect. So I think I’m all set with what I need to finish the jacket embellishment.

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Oh, yeah–oyas!

Yesterday, by registered mail from Turkey, I received a package from Rengin. It included my order of her oyas and oya trim. This is what I ordered.

And this is what I got! Gifts of ribbons, beads, and RED threads. She’s been reading my blog about trying to get the right red threads. These are great, and the gifts are so much appreciated.

As my husband watched  me opening the package and the baggies inside, he said, “You’ve gotten your money’s worth just in looking at them.” I agree. You can’t see the delicate lace work in my photos, so I hope you’ll go to Rengin’s sites.

To get a better view of these exquisite needlelace creations, do go to her blog and to her photo album. Or to her Stitchin Fingers page. If you e-mail her at rengin03ist@yahoo.com, she’ll send you a pdf file of real close-up shots of what she has available for sale. Eye candy. Take a look.

I found this information about traditional Turkish lace where you can also see close-ups of some oyas, patterns, and more information about their traditional uses.

Oya, The Language of Anatolian Women

Anatolia’s thousand and one species of plants and gaily colored flowers are reborn in the imagination and inner eye of its women. The history of the decorative edging known in Europe as ‘Turkish lace’ is thought to date back as far as the 8th century B.C. to the Phrygians of Anatolia. Some sources indicate that needlework spread from 12th century Anatolia to Greece and from there via Italy to Europe. Traditionally, the headdresses and scarves women wore on their heads, the printed cloths, and prayer and funeral head coverings were decorated with various kinds of oya, which was also used on undergarments, to adorn outer garments, around the edges of towels and napkins and as a decorative element in many other places. In the Aegean region even men’s headdresses were decked with layers of oya.

Oya edging, which appears all over Anatolia in various forms and motifs, has different names depending on the means employed: needle, crochet hook, shuttle, hairpin, bead, tassel to name just a few. Sewing needle oya is a variety that was produced by affluent, aristocratic, urban women. The most beautiful examples of such oya, which was usually made with a sewing needle using silk thread, were produced in the Ottoman Palace.

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Into production

Even with all my dithering over threads, I’ve begun production. Here are the washer and sequin paddings glued into place. To make sure no glints of metal shine through the stitches, I’m going to paint them.

And then I will start the actual stitching. I have the reds and golds I want to use.

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Talk about over-kill!

Here are the threads I’ve bought so far for this jacket project.

Actually, I ordered this Edmar thread pack mostly for stash, but also to fulfill a minimum order requirement with the Rajamahal Art Silk threads I wanted to check out for the jacket.

It turned out that the turquoise or aqua beads in this pack are exactly the right color for the jacket, but not enough of them.

Here are the threads I already had on hand that might work, including the ones I dyed.

Notice especially this gray thread. It’s perfect.

Trouble is, I’m afraid I don’t have enough of it, and I can’t match it. It was given to me in a box of off-loaded stash from an EGA chapter after a member had read about my stitching history. It doesn’t come close to any DMC thread, and I have the thread chart, the real threads.

I wouldn’t be so persnickety if I were not trying to match or complement the colors of the scarf. Even with all the threads I now have, I still don’t have the right grays. Here are my experiments on a remnant of the scarf that I’m using as a practice or trial cloth. I’m still trying to find just the right grays and off-pink/mauvish threads.

The silk twist mauve is the perfect color, but I prefer the firmer lines of the pearl cotton. The silk is too soft.

Here I’m trying out some off-whites for the scallops, for both size and color.

Can you believe this? I’m about to place another order for threads–grays, pink/mauves, and off-whites, because either I don’t have the right color or the right size.  And yesterday I ordered beads, after finding that I didn’t have enough of the right size red ones, either. Of course, I had to order enough to fulfill a minimum order requirement.

I’m thoroughly enjoying myself!

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Fire the engineers!

“Fire the engineers and get into production.” That’s what Ernie said after reading my post yesterday, coming into my room, and being shown my latest try-out stitches and the red threads I have to choose from among.

If you’ve never worked in manufacturing, this order may not mean much to you. Ernie and I both have held  management positions in the offices of the  manufacturing facilities of government contractors. There, contracts set specifications, due dates, costs, and incentives and penalties. If the products are done on time, meet the specifications, and within budget, the company can receive a bonus. If not, they may have to pay the government a penalty.

The design engineers were always coming up with another idea, a better way, a new technique or material that would perform better, and on and on.  Meanwhile, the production supervisors were chafing at the bit to get going on making the thing, knowing they had a tight schedule. At some point, someone in upper management would shout, “Fire (or kill) the engineers and GET INTO PRODUCTION!”

My inner design engineer cannot stop coming up with other ideas, or being dissatisfied with some aspect of the design, or discovering a new material that may work better. It is always at war with my inner production supervisor who really wants to get going, get the thing made, see the results, and have the reward of satisfaction with a project completed. At some point, some higher function has to take over and stop the design process so the thing can be made.

I just loved it when Ernie said that. It made me see what I’ve just written. I’ve got to “kill the engineer.”

(But I’m still waiting for those #8 pearl threads to arrive. And I REALLY would like to think of a way to use all those red threads!)

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Since finishing the course on particle physics, I have read three books by particle physicists–Dreams of a Final Theory by Nobel Prize winner and theoretician Steven Weinberg, The God Particle by another Nobel laureate and experimentalist Leon Lederman, and Belief in God in an Age of Science by former physicist and now theologian John Polkinghorne. Not planned, but just the right sequence. I was especially interested in Lederman’s explanations and descriptions of the apparatus used by physicists for experiments with particles.  Some day I will probably have to write an essay about why subatomic physics matters to me. That’s the way I figure out what I have learned and what it means to me.

I try to relate to myself everything I read. What does it mean for me personally? How can I use the information? How has it affected me, changed the way I think or view things?

I have also spent an inordinate amount of time choosing threads and placing orders online where that required scrolling through 64 pages at one site, adding items to my cart, one by one. Then doing that again at another site. And another.

While waiting for threads to arrive, I’ve continued to try out ideas on practice cloths. Here are two trial pieces of fabric, pinned to my board so I can see how they look from a distance. Just some ideas. You can see on the red curve the iron washers I used for padding the wrapped spider web stitches. If you click to enlarge, and then enlarge again, you can also see the padded buttonhole stitching over the petal shapes above the red.

Here are some closer looks at the stitches. It’s texture, as well as color, that matters to me. I’m almost paralyzed, trying to decide exactly what I want to achieve.

For these experiments, I didn’t have the right threads or the colors I wanted. If you look at the bottom of the shot just above, you’ll see padded detached buttonhole covering two of the ovals. That’s shisha at the tails of the curves.

In a panic that I still wouldn’t have the right red silk threads, and unwilling to place yet another order large enough so that it would cost more than the postage, I thought of dyeing. Some years ago I bought silk paints and subsequently I bought some extra white silk threads of various kinds so that, if I needed a specific color, I could dye the thread I wanted. Remembering that, I got out my dyes and did it.

These are Jacquard Silk Colors. So easy to use. And here’s the little plastic palette on which I mixed the colors and dyed the threads. (With the rubber gloves I forgot to use initially.)

I dyed Eterna silk floss, Rajmahal Art Silk, and YLI buttonhole silk. I was afraid to unwind the Art Silk, because the strands are so fine and springy that I feared I would not be able to untangle them.

Next day I rinsed the threads in a chemical to make them colorfast. Then I did have a mess, as you have to keep the threads stirred in the bath for five minutes.

But I had thought to knot the ends of the Art Silk so the strands couldn’t separate. Fortunately, silk threads are easier to untangle than cotton floss.

Now I have three different red silk threads, in addition to those I bought. And, after receiving the first three orders, I decided I needed more #8 cotton pearl, so now I’m waiting for another delivery. This is ridiculous!

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Aw, shucks!

My goodness, this week I’ve been given two awards for this blog! Thank you, both. My cup runneth over. It took me a couple of days to figure out how to get the images in my blog, but here they are:

from my dear friend Maureen in Australia. To see some exquisite embroidery and some amazing fantasy figure creations–incredible dolls, do go look at her blog.

From Neki Rivera in Barcelona, Spain came this award:

neki desu, as she blogs, is a weaver and textile artist of great accomplishment. By all means, go browse her site. She has been a big encouragement to me.

The rules accompanying both awards require me to nominate four or five blogs with their links. This means I can nominate nine blogs. All of you whom I name can put either or both of the award images on your blogs. I did it by copying it to my Desktop, then picking it up from there to my Edit page. I’m not asking any of you to pass on the award, as I think it would be a burden for you.

Now, decisions, decisions, decisions! Well, here goes.

Rachel Makepeace in Australia. She does not write about stitching, but about her life with ME-CFS. It is a wrenching yet uplifting acccount of what it’s like, living alone, with only a little help from her neighbors, in an almost totally disabled condition. Even if you’re not up for reading about her struggles, just stop by and give her a wave of encouragement with a comment.

Megan in Australia, also lives with ME-CFS, in a very disabled condition, on her own. She writes about that elsewhere but in this blog she is describing the historical sampler she’s working on using design ideas, techniques, and stitches from the 16th century. She also explains how she does everything and provides lots of useful links to sources of historical embroidery. Worth checking out, and do say “hi” so she’ll know you’ve been there.

Sue in northwest USA also lives with chronic illness. She has Multiple Chemical Sensitivities which means she gets really sick when she is exposed to lots of things in ordinary life, so she has to spend most of her time at home, where she makes gorgeous quilts and does other kinds of needleart. Take a look and leave her a comment.

Chitra Gangadharanin in Oman has just begun to blog. A teacher of embroidery, she does beautiful traditional Indian needlework and she gives tutorials on the techniques she uses. Visit her blog and let her know she’s welcome to the stitch-blog community.

Now I’m going to nominate some blogs that I know are already popular, and I’m not going to ask them to pass on the award, as that would probably be a burden for them, but here are some of the blogs that inspire me:

Allie whose incredible creativity in crazy quilt explorations continually inspires me.

Veronique. Don’t miss seeing the belts she has just created for herself. Or the pictures of her garden and travels.

Mary Teacher extraordinaire. Is there a needlework technique in which she is not expert? She offers helpful information on stitches, threads, needlework tools and supplies, and a video stitch dictionary.

Acey Also disabled with ME-CFS, she creates bold, unique works of needleart.

Conni What she’s doing with a sampler is definitely worth seeing. You should also go to her website to see her adorable and artful Santas.

Barbara works in several needlework types, knitting as well as quilting and embellished embroidery. And a great source of cheer for  me.

Nancilyn Beautiful designs and exquisite stitching. A source of inspiration and pleasure.

Karen Beautiful crazy quilting. She also offers fabric packs that are a great way to add to stash. I know, I have several of them.

Judy Of all things, this retired needlework designer does crazy quilting in needlepoint. So original. Must see.

And last but not least, another newbie to the stitch bloggers, but much beloved by many crazy quilt stitchers, the great Carole Samples.

Okay, I’ve more than done my duty. I hope you will find some pleasure in visiting these blogs.

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I’ve been re-inspired. Thanks to the comments left on my previous post, I returned to some thoughts I had dismissed and I saw how I could use those ideas.

Here’s what I had been pondering about how to stitch–just this fragment from my first cutting of the scarf. I was looking at tiny details and not seeing the whole picture.

After reading the comments, I decided to take another look, this time at the pinned jacket. I tacked the jacket to my “design board” (LOL) and from a little distance, this is what I saw:

I laid it on the floor to get a shot of the front, too troublesome to hang it on the board.

The extra fabric is all bunched up inside, but it’s plain to see that I could do something with the overall design. I lightened and printed the photographs; and then, with pencil, I traced over some major design elements, like this:

What would I do without the computer, scanner, printer, and PhotoShop Elements? Can you see the dark pencil lines? Okay, now I was sure I could do something with these sections and I was ready to cut.

The back was basically okay, but I had to cut out the parts of the scarf that had the pattern I wanted to use on the front. Here’s the first cut piece with very sheer Pellon fusible interfacing that I had cut for that piece. I used it to help me see where to cut the second side.

As you can see, I also used my printed, penciled design as a guide for cutting. The next step was to cut and fuse the Pellon to the cut pieces to stabilize the fabric for the kind of stitching I envision doing on it–beads and textured dimensional stitches. Then I pinned the fused fabric back on the jacket one more time, just to make sure it would still work, with the firmness provided by the stabilizer. I put on the jacket for another look at how this would look on me.

Satisfied that I could make my ideas work, I searched my stash for threads and found that I will have to order some colors I don’t have. But I wanted to try out some stitching on the fabric, so I put that original fragment, fused to Pellon, in a hoop and made a few trial stitches. Thanks, friends, for your suggestions. You’ll see that I’m using them.

Here’s the back of the hooped fabric with the interfacing showing. I’ll be stitching the fused fabric before attaching it to the jacket, so that I don’t have the back of the stitches showing inside this unlined jacket.

Here are the remnants of the scarf, enough for more practice cloths, and probably some left for my stash drawer, instead of my scarf drawer.

The scarf is a really nice fabric that looks and feels like very fine wool. It isn’t. I held an edge to a candle flame and it melted. Still, it looks and feels like very fine fabric.

And now for a shopping spree. I have my DMC color chart and the equivalents for silk threads and after I post this, I will be choosing threads.

See why it takes me so long to make anything?

Thanks, again, friends who commented.

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The next step

Usually I get ideas for designs by doodling. I’ve learned that my first idea is seldom my best, and that I think best with a pencil or pen in hand. Maybe that’s because I’m more of a writer than a visual artist. Making fabric art is something I’ve come to very late in life, and I realize I’m a novice “artist.” That said, in the previous post I’ve shown the first doodles I did seeking ideas for how to shape and position some embellishment on my jacket.

I didn’t feel like doing any more. No motivation and not enough energy to make myself experiment on paper. After a day off, I got the idea to try draping some scarves over the jacket to see if that would stimulate ideas for where to place embellishment. When I took several scarves out of the drawer to play with them, lo and behold, there was a scarf I’ve had and loved for over 30 years, I’m sure. But I’ve had no occasion to wear it for the past 16 years. Its colors are perfect for this jacket.

Wow, I thought, I’ll just put pieces of this scarf on my jacket and embellish them. Using a scarf was not my intent; I just wanted to get placement ideas. So, a little reluctantly, I began cutting the scarf and pinning it in sections on my jacket. Here’s what it looks like, just roughly pinned so I could see the effect. I love the paisleys and the colors would go great with pants I can wear with this jacket.

BUT, when I studied the fabric closely, considering how I might embellish it, I got stuck. I want this jacket to have heavily textured stitches, lots of dimensionality and variety. I could not think of a way I could achieve that effect by stitching over the design of the scarf. Also, it looked a little too symmetrical and too “dramatic” to suit me.

However, the trial was worthwhile, because now I’m ready to cut up some muslin and try placing it on the jacket in various ways. Maybe I’ll even go back to my pencil and paper for some more doodling.

It always takes me a long time to get started on a new project. I have a hard time coming up with ideas I like and making choices and decisions about materials, techniques, stitches, and so on–making a plan. Once I have a plan, I can work steadily, as much as I can. With this jacket, I want to be sure that I will wear it and enjoy wearing it before I spend a lot of time (which it will take to do what I have vaguely in mind) on something I wouldn’t wear.

Sharon Boggon has posted about ways of motivating oneself to finish a project.  That’s not a problem I have. I work on one project at a time and I finish it. I have no UFOs, but all, all my projects are WISPS, works done very slowly. Once I know what result I want to accomplish, I just keep working on it, eagerly seeing how my ideas work out. As the piece progresses, I want to work on it more and more. I’m like a horse nearing the stable. I want to bolt for home, get it done. My problem is limiting my work time, at that stage, not motivating myself to finish the piece.

I think it’s largely a matter of temperament. I am not able to work as spontaneously as I would like to. I’m a planner. I like to know where I’m going and what I’m trying to achieve before I can get down to producing anything. I’m a slow starter and a fast finisher, fast being relative, of course!

So, back to planning for my jacket embellishment.

As I write here in Baltimore on the East Coast USA, we are getting the effects of the hurricane: high winds and heavy, driven rain.

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The jacket

This jacket just calls for embellishment, don’t you think?

Here’s the back.

This jacket came from Deva. I’ve been buying clothes from their catalog for over 15 years. The company was founded in a rural village in Maryland, Burkittsville, by a husband and wife. When we were living in West Virginia, Ernie and I actually went to their place of business–a home in the village, not too far away from our home. Their clothing is all simply designed, comfortable, casual, made from cotton woven for them; and it is all sewn by women in their own homes.

Not long after we were there, the company was challenged as illegal under an old federal law forbidding sweat-shop labor, aimed at ending the exploitation of poor people in the garment industry around the beginning of the 20th century. The Deva founders successfully lobbied to have the law repealed, so that women who want to work at home can do so. Subsequently, they sold the company to new owners who moved it to North Dakota, where women still make the clothing in their own homes.

If you like comfortable, casual clothing, for men, women, and children–all of which would be suitable for embellishing–check out their website.

Some fabrics I may try out with the jacket. I think, not sure yet, that I want to make a crazy patchwork yoke that would also give me a chance to practice some Elizabethan stitches. Among these fabrics are gifts from my mother, Gina, Nina, Allie, Carole Samples, and my daughter-in-law who once managed the business for a necktie designer. Also a piece from one of Karen South’s fabric packs.

But first, I’m playing with design ideas by photographing the area of the jacket I want to embellish.

Then I joined and scanned the photographs and made thumbnails of them on which to try out some ideas with pencil. This is just the beginning. More ideas to play with.

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