Friday, December 30, 2011

My Walk With Nature

I was busy snapping pictures of some embroidery this morning, getting ready to write about the cast-on stitch and a new flower. Then I looked out the window at the gray day we are having here in western Oregon. Mild weather, gray day (between rains). And lo! and behold!  I saw BLUE SKY -- just a bit peeking through.
So I flew through the house, camera in hand, to check the bit o' blue from the back yard to see if it was still there!  It was. This is a view to the west where our weather (mild temps, moisture in the rain shadow of Oregon's Cascade Mountains) comes in off the Pacific Ocean.
That's a photo to the east, a typical gray December day, and the tree is our neighbor's beautiful 35-year-old deodora cedar.
While I was hiking through our back yard, I noticed the beautiful moss and decided to take some pictures. This moss is on the NORTH side of our catalpa tree.
And on the SOUTH side of the very same branch, I photographed this, which I call lichen. I actually don't know the difference between moss and lichen (green might have something to do with it....); I get more excited about flowers. But this was pretty.
    So I started looking for MORE moss -- didn't have far to look:
And I thought this was interesting. These mosses take the wintertime place of my old-fashioned lilacs, my very favorite flower! 
Here is how it looks in the spring:
(I think I miss springtime.)

Well, I think I'll have to Google "lichens" and "mosses" to learn more. While I'm thinking about it, I'll share a photo of my "Great Thinker", Cuthbert:
 ...thinking, as usual, about not much.
           And here he is again in a photo I took a little while ago that I call "Television for Cats" -- we have just about every kind of "tasty little morsel" at our bird feeders, finches, nuthatches, towhees, twits (or whatever they are called, the itty bitty ones) and either wrens or sparrows. (I'm better with flowers.)
And before I go to finish "developing" the new-flower (I'll include a toot) and cast-on hint/tip, I thought you would like to see one of my pretty rocks from back in my rockhounding days - a moss agate, slightly different than the mosses pictured above:
It's such fun snapping pictures. I hope you are enjoying them!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Winter Holidays!

Here's wishing all of our fellow Brazilian dimensional embroidery stitchers the happiest of winter holidays -- whichever one or more that you celebrate.

This little penguin is my Millefiori design #905, "Black Tie, Optional". I linked him to my in-progress website and, although you won't find it there yet, this little design is still available for stitching.

It's printed on pale turquoise blue fabric and has some interesting stitch ideas. I try to add different techniques to each of my Brazilian dimensional embroidery designs and this one incorporates my original Tuxedo Flowers, the Forget-Me-Knot made with a Double Knotted Loop that I'm pretty sure is original, the Criss Cross Satin Stitch and Raised Close Herringbone, one of my favorite self-padding dimensional stitches. His sparkly little eyes are Swarovski bicone crystals and cast-on stitches and drizzles complete his little feet and "?arms?"
I haven't posted an actual pdf tutorial because Blogspot hasn't yet shown me how to link them to my blog.  One of these days I will...
          In the meantime, this is another Millefiori design that is available to stitch.
I had SO much fun with this design that I decided to use it in a winter tablescape. I purchased a clear 5"x7" acrylic photo frame from the craft store, popped out the hollow box and pushed this foam-core-board-mounted piece in (added a colorful backing sheet behind so it would look good from any angle). Then I purchased a small flat mirror with beveled edge and also found some acrylic ice cubes at the craft store. Fabri-Tac is my favorite clear, fast-drying glue. 
Little broken bits of an old compact mirror (I upcycle almost everything!) are attached with nylon beading thread to give an impression of falling snow.

Where I live in Oregon, we had a big batch of snow a couple of years ago. Here is Cuthbert, my Norwegian Forest Cat, amazed by the wonder of it all (and not one bit happy that I carried him outside in one arm, my camera in the other hand, and plunked him down in a snowdrift).
This year we are having NoSnow, but lovely mild temps. Can't complain! Every day is lovely.
           Happiest of holidays to all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No-Calorie Yummies in Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery

Come into my Gingerbread House!
The last time I was here, I wrote about one of my Millefiori Brazilian dimensional embroidery designs, "Gingerbread House". 

Today, I think it would be fun to tell you about some of the stitches I used.
Everything I do when I'm designing is based on about a half dozen basic Brazilian embroidery stitches -- the bullion, cast-on, drizzle, knot, lazy daisy, etc. The only difference is that I get adventurous every so often and see how far I can take my needle and floss.

See those pinwheel lollipops? They are just drizzles. I made two drizzles in two colors and then looped them around the center, tacking one side to the fabric.

The gumdrop "stands" for the lollipops are made with colonial knots (I prefer the colonial to the French knot just because it's more dimensional. But, hey!  I'm flexible.), and the cuppy cake has a chocolate bullion paper. The bright pink #131 frosting is made with a cotton floss bullion beneath (for padding - often in the same color that I'm using on top) using long and short buttonhole stitch. The maraschino cherry on top is simple satin stitch, and the stem is stem stitch.

Because I stitched this design on white fabric, I chose the palest turquoise blue (EdMar #224) for the snow lines and also for the snowman to show contrast. It wouldn't be any fun to stitch a white snowman on white fabric. It would look like he has just melted away!  Here's Frosty the Marshmallow:
He is stitched with Cire.
     Here are candy canes, jelly beans and ribbon candy:
When I was stitching these delectable little jelly bellies, I went through my floss stash and pulled out only the most delicious candy colors. The jelly beans are simple satin stitch, too, each stitched in a different direction.

For the ribbon candy, I used two strands of Iris threaded into the same needle. When you look closely, you'll see that these are separate twisted lazy daisy stitches, one pointing north and the stitch next to it pointing south. Yes, I was pretty surprised myself that such a simple stitch made realistic ribbon candy. For sure!
More jelly beans are used to make the chimney. The ruffle at the top is a cast-on stitch with a row of detached buttonhole stitches added.  And the peppermint sticks are made with red and white bullions -- one strand of red Iris and one strand of white Iris threaded into the same needle. Sometimes the floss colors aren't evenly distributed. This is easily fixed by tugging one color strand of floss or the  other to even out the colors.

Oh, let's see -- what else did I entertain myself with?  Oh, yes - the roof:
The brown roof is satin stitched, and the stitches are uniform from tip to gutter because stitches at the "top" or outside edge are close together and along the bottom, they are slightly apart. You can't tell - it's an optical illusion. I learned about keeping satin stitches spaced nicely from one of Erica Wilson's books, Needleplay. (...and what a gift she left to embroiderers everywhere!  Her needlework stitch books are loaded with helpful hints and tips and are recommended for all stitchers, whether you are doing Brazilian embroidery or not.)

I used a variegated light pink/light yellow for the bullions (pink shingles?), and the eaves are scalloped with cast-on stitches. I added a row of detached buttonhole stitches using a white metallic DMC craft thread (from JoAnn Stores - in the craft section, on a spool). DMC metallics  (skeins) would also work well.

The candy mint trimmed windows are satin stitch and the "curtains" are cast-on stitches made with lemon drop yellow.

Bright fuchsia Cire was used to stitch the cotton candy clouds. To make the clouds, you'd start with a row of stem stitch or outline stitch. Next, make a really loose detached buttonhole stitch (or two) in each base stitch, but before you to on to the scond stitch, make another detached buttonhole stitch in the loop just made, but pull it snug.  I call this a "Locking Buttonhole Stitch" and it keeps long loopy stitches in place.  I think I used #083 to stitch these clouds -- it's a shaded color, so I could use the darker part for the "underside" of the clouds and the sun could shine happily on the top or bright side.

Here are the evergreen trees:
You can see that they are also very simply made with double cast-on drizzle stitches --not too many, because I didn't want to hide the Snowmallow.  I added a stitch that I developed -- Star-Fill, the Five-Point Star Filling Stitch -- at the top. This stitch is made just like the stars we learned to draw in grade school.
There are lots of choices for finishing this adventurous little delicacy. I used an 8" frame and tucked in a row of fancy rick-rack trim instead of matting the piece:
A shadow box could also be selected, and these are easy to find now because of the popularity of scrapbooking. You could add little "bead or button" snowflakes from the top of the frame, add little ornaments or reindeer or silk flower greenery inside the shadowbox, or you could trim the outside of the frame. You could even substitute beads for any of the elements of this embroidery. There are no limits - whatever you think up, you can try.

Just remember to look at your embroidery design and think about what ELSE you can do to make it your own truly unique creation. That's the fun of doing Brazilian dimensional embroidery. You can do ANYthing, and you can ADD anything.  But mostly, you can just have a LOT of fun.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Gingerbread House - Delicious in Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery!

The "Gingerbread House" is one of my Millefiori Brazilian dimensional embroidery designs, and I have copies available for stitching if anyone would like to get really "sugared up" for Christmas. You can email me for more information or visit my website to read more, and to see even more B.E. designs. Look for Design #962.

This design is stitched with all dimensional stitches using EdMar's Z-twist rayon floss, but I thought it would be fun to stitch using little Christmas charms, beads and buttons. 

Instead, I had an-OTHER idea!

I have this Shadow Box (wood frame, 12x12"). And I have this craft felt (one of the heavier ones, about 1/4" thick), both are made for a 12x12" design. I found these where they sell scrapbooking supplies, at either JoAnn Stores or at Michaels.
(Don't you just LOVE a blank canvas?  -- so many possibilities!)

And I have ALL of these beads and buttons (picture to come next time).
I love bead embroidery and thought it would be fun to do another little Christmas embroidery.  Here is one I stitched a while back:
This design is embroidered entirely with individual beads (no earrings, no pins, no charms), although I might give that a try at some point. The Santa is an especially-made whatever-it's-called, about 3-1/2" across. I embroidered everything onto craft felt, trimmed around the beaded area and colored the edge of the felt with a permanent marker. Then I went back to the craft store and purchased a wood plaque (8" diameter), painted it green with acrylic enamel paint, put a hanger on the back and bring it out of its box every Christmas to enjoy and, hopefully, look for compliments about.

Bead embroidery is great fun, as you can get lost in the story you are telling. You'll find that out if you stay tuned and read along with me. I'll post pictures as I'm working on the red felt background.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

OCCUPY - Well, why not?

Seems like everyone is making a statement these days with the "Occupy" movements in various cities around the USA.

I think this is also a good idea:
Just think of all the Unfinished Projects we could complete!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

TURKEY - Gobble, Gobble . . . It's Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery!

Happy Thanksgiving to all -- and a Happy Belated Thanksgiving to our Canadian neighbors!  This little turkey, one of my Millefiori Brazilian dimensional embroidery designs,  is stitched entirely with our Z-twist rayon floss and mostly cast-on stitches. The fruits and veggies are also embroidered entirely, except for the "grapes", which are size 6/o seed beads.

In my design description, I wrote about what a wonderful centerpiece this would be for your Thanksgiving table.  And think how happy the turkey would be!

Do you like the background? You can do that to your fabric, too. Using a stencil brush would probably be easiest (there are soft paints prepared especially for fabrics), but I did this background before screen printing the turkey design (because the ink we use for our lines washes out). I pinned a paper doily to the fabric, thinned some light sienna color acrylic paint to almost thinner than water consistency. Next, I put it into a mister bottle, or an airbrush and sprayed the paint onto the fabric. When I unpinned the doily, I had the beautiful lace pattern.
      You can try this with any textured material (as in rubbings), or spray paint over lace, or you can use a fabric brush marker or crayon (look for fabric crayons) to sketch interesting backgrounds or leaves, stems, fine growth, etc., onto your fabric. If you are stitching a holiday design, look for some of the sparkly white/silver paints.

Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Designing for Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery

From time to time, I'm writing notes about designing for Brazilian dimensional emroidery -- hand embroidery with Z-twist rayon threads in several weights and featuring motifs that are mainly floral. (Cats and armadillos and hedgehogs have, however, occasionally dropped by to visit one, two or ten of my Millefiori designs.)

But many of our stitchers enjoy creating flowers. It's very easy to make your own using the tools in Microsoft Word or Publisher - or any other graphics app.
This is the command for shapes from the Microsoft Word 2010 toolbar:
You can see that you have lots of choices to play with. These shapes can be combined, distorted, poked, prodded and stretched to give interesting results.
That donut shape, when you open it in a Word document (or Publisher) has a little yellow diamond (not shown). The diamond in the second top image has been drug to the center of the circle. Adjusting this shape will give you a flower center in the diameter of your choice.

The second set of shapes, the 8-point star also has a little yellow diamond that can be moved to the center for a flower with eight dividing petals. (Other circle divisions are available, up to 32 or more (if you copy/paste/group). Usually 3, 5, 6 or 8 petals on one flower are enough to make most stitchers happy.

The star in MS Word 2010 also draws into a 5-part division. You can see it has been used to divide a circle into 5 parts. There's also a handy heart shape in these "Shapes" and many other designs.

Mostly it's just a matter of playing around with shapes to give you something new.

OK, now for the designing part. Remember those leaves I suggested you play with here? [Scroll down] Open a new Word document. Drop in one of the circles or stars, or a triangle. Add a leaf or three (uneven numbers are tastefully artistic, according to "peeps who are supposed to know these things").

Once you have circles and/or leaves positioned where you want them, sharpen a pencil and start drawing other pieces and parts to fill out your design. I'll usually start with the circles or triangles, print the page, and then start drawing to add ideas for the rest of the design. By the way, templates also work just as well as the Shapes in Word, and you can find them in a variety of sizes at your local office supply or art store.  ...and an eraser. Don't forget the eraser! 

Trace your pieces and parts onto fabric, thread your needle and you're ready to go!  Don't doubt yourself. You are already an artist if you are stitching Brazilian dimensional embroidery. Just draw lots of pictures, write notes in the margins. If you see a flower or a stitch technique that you like and want to include it, contact the designer to ask for permission and always give credit. (If you clicked that link, you'll see that it goes to my own email. I'm always happy to share the stitches and techniques that I've been lucky enough to develop.)

Be sure to write notes - the floss colors you use, amounts, and notes about the stitches. Have fun. Let me know if you have some designing questions and I'll write more.

And if you are still with me after this long-and-windy post, here's a flower in Brazilian dimensional embroidery to keep you entertained. It's one of the flowers I used in my ABCs for Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery book (cover shown above). The stitch is the Barbed Bullion I first described in my book Take A Stitch.
Your turn now!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cuthbert, and a Brazilian Dimensional Embroidered Peony

This is Cuthbert. My cat. At rest. As usual.
This is Cuthbert, aware that "someone" is disturbing his nap.
This is Cuthbert, delicately (he is a 15-plus-pound Norwegian Forest Cat) balanced on the very edge of the table.
This is Cuthbert, continuing his nap.
This is Cuthbert, pointing out the fact that he is "A Very Useful Cat" - multi-talented as a duster-helper.

And this is Cuthbert, trying to make sure I have all of the details of his biography exact, as I write this post:
And THIS is Cuthbert, from a while back, showing off his Total Magnificence, since he feels this story is all about him.
Thanks for stopping by to visit.
Oh, wait!  You were expecting flowers?  In Brazilian dimensional embroidery?
This is a Double Flowering Peony  from one of my Millefiori designs called "Drizzleberry Punch'. I designed the center dimensional drizzle/cast-on combination and have used the original technique on several other designs.
It was my interpretation of this double peony:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I Got Tired of Looking at the Cat . . .

So here's a picture of a Brazilian dimensional embroidered flower:

The hibiscus is from my book (Rosalie Wakefield) My LadyFlowers, and one of my favorite stitch combinations for petals that stand firmly off the fabric.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Better Tail . . .

The tail of this kitty and the tail of the little mouse on the previous post were both stitched with Brazilian outline stitch (floss held below the line of stitching when you use Z-twist rayon floss). The stitches can "gap" away from the fabric, depending on which direction you stitch and which stitch you use.
Select the direction of stitch for the final effect that you prefer. Although this tail is outline stitched, I added a couple of extra stitches at the base. I also left just the slightest space between the kitty's paws and body to add definition. The entire cat is stitched with vertical satin stitch (except for the tail).

Draw a curved line on your doodle cloth and outline stitch, first from top to bottom and then from bottom to top to see the differences.  Repeat the curved lines and now stitch them with Brazilian stem stitch (floss held above the line of stitching with rayon Z-twist floss). Make notes on the fabric with your Micron Pigma pen and choose the effect you like when you stitch.

This design is a dogwood tree in which the cats have treed the dogs (I'll post a picture when I've finished stitching the design). It's another of my new Millefiori designs.

There's another kitty:

I added a bullion to pad this kitty's tail and then satin stitched over. I also padded the kitty's bun and am satin stitching over. The tail rests across a tree root and without the padding, it would look like it is actually slicing through the tree root.

I'm Having A Guilt Trip

...about the kink I stitched into the tail of this little mouse. I call it "The Eek Factor" because the little mouse is having a stare-down with an elephant in full bloom.
     It's one of my new Millefiori designs that I will have ready for everyone to stitch next spring.  The design is named "Toot".

I guess I could cut it out and smooth it.  I could probably move the little mousie eyeball to somewhere besides the back of its head, too.

Well, while I'm thinking about it, I will go on to stitch another of my new B.E. designs.  I just thought I'd write a note into this space in case anyone drops by.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery Flowers

Each year members of the Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery International Guild, Inc. (BDEIG) stitch and assemble a beautiful art quilt. Tickets are sold and all proceeds are used to provide scholarships for our members. My contribution was a 6" design featuring lilacs and a gazebo (and of course, a kitten and some butterflies showed up as entertainment).  Here's a detail photo:
I've used this stitch technique on other of my Millefiori Brazilian dimensional embroidery designs and also have the instructions in my book, An Artist's Garden. But I'll be teaching this little "Lilac Gazebo" design at our BDEIG Seminar next June. All classes will be posted at the website in January/February 2012.

And here's a sample swatch of the fabric each of the volunteer member/ stitchers received. This was great inspiration for choosing our colors and even for deciding what to design for the scholarship quilt project:

Here's the design I stitched for the quilt. I kept the sample attached to the embroidery to help me focus on color choices:

And now it's back to work in my Rose Garden. I'll post pictures as I finish. It's great fun to dream up these designs and I hope our B.E. stitchers enjoy playing with them.