Saturday, March 30, 2013

Funny Bunny Easter

Easter Bun! - Happy Easter, Everyone!!
Bigger Bun ... also says Happy Easter, Everyone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Oregon's Sun Came Out. Where am I? I'm in my Flowers. The Cats are Not.

There's a good point about not cutting your clematis back each winter. It can surprise you when you walk outside in the springtime.
This is our Apple Blossom Clematis the other day. Today it is decadently dripping in flowers:
Delicious flowers, happy to see The Sun.
REAL sunshine, on a lovely spring day:
I think flowers can actually smile . . .
...and dance in the sunshine.
...and try to outshine their neighbor flowers.
Or not. This is my camellia, one of them, and I think I took this same picture last year. It can put yer eye out  . . .
Here's the rest of it:
OK, that was pink and more pink.  How about a little yellow?
That little primrose has been in our back yard for years and years, spreading hither and yon. I helped it -- divided it and planted some in my front yard.

And a little purple? This is my bashful hellebore, a total waste of a flower when all it shares is its back:
Well, it's still pretty. And THIS little flower can't decide if it should be purple, or blue, or pink. But it's one of my favorites - the pulmonaria:
Well, they are ALL my favorites. Just like colors. When someone asks me my favorite color, I just reply, "Yes".

Meanwhile, back at the house. Emmy could care less; she just wants to finish her nap (or go to the dentist) - I'm not sure which.
And Cuthbert just wants to come outside and play. He doesn't understand why I am having all the fun. Poor woeful (spoilt) kitty . . .
Hiking through my garden with my camera is ever so much fun. Since I photograph the same flowers pretty much every year, I should probably start hiking through my neighbors' yards.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Rayon FROST Floss Speaks. FROST says, "Work with me here, folks..."

Frost is a medium-weight 100% rayon floss made by EdMar-Co. for Brazilian dimensional embroidery. Frost is temperamental. Frost is wannabe Lola, but picky, picky, picky about being used. 

Don't give up on Frost, though, and give away all of your Frost to your Friends. You can do a lot with it (besides making tassels). It's all in the needle you choose, all in how you work with it.

Frost has a twist similar to Lola - try a rolled rose with Lola and next to it, make a rolled rose with Frost. You'll see they look the same; one is only smaller.

There are some interesting things one can try to make Frost your Floss Friend. First, if you are making bullions, try a larger (#1 milliners needle) instead of the #3 usually recommended. You can work your bullion down to the correct diameter as you finish the stitch.

Because of its twist, Frost (and Lola) produce realistic, rounded flower stems and are a perfect choice for leaves with parallel veins, such as lilies, tulips, iris and other flowers.
The upper curved line is a flower stem made with Frost using Brazilian outline stitch, in which the floss is held below the line of stitching (exactly the opposite of S-twist threads shown in needlework stitch books).

The lower stitching shows the floss held below, but I'm also stitching a lily leaf with side-by-side rows of outline stitch. See?
 Now I'm going to talk about Frost and its kinky habits. Bad Frost! Bad Frost!
See the arrow in the picture above, pointing to a nice collection of twisties, just while I'm making ONE little stitch! *sigh* (You can double click the picture if you want a REALLY good close-up...)

I've found out (oh, by the way, I do my outline and stem stitching with an embroidery or chenille needle with a larger eye. It just seems to work better.) that - with Lola and Frost, and especially if you are doing some satin stitch - you can 'unwind' the floss. The other thing you can do is to LIFT the stitch a little ways with your needle and then settle it back in place. Somehow this relaxes the twist and the threads look nicer.
 OK, I exaggerated a bit in the photo above, but when you try it, you'll see what I mean. Lifting or 'un-twisting' your floss (or dropping your needle) are a good idea when working with our lovely rayon.
Here I've lifted it a bit before settling it in place -- and you should try that while holding a camera and snapping pictures!

Here's the finished lily leaf and the stem, all stitched with Frost:
Oh!  --and those stamens up there?  Well I'll give you a twofers. 

That is my own discovery (and a much better pistil stitch) - that I have named "Cast-on Pistil Stitch".  For those who read here, you've gotten the entire tutorial when I first developed the stitch.  It's here and here, or you can go back to the September 2011 posts. 

Just always remember, when you make a Cast-on Pistil Stitch, you come up where you want the knot to be. See?
Then take your fabric bite (the length of the pistil stem). Come back up where you want the knot to be and cast on one or two times.
Place the floss behind the needle, and go down and out right there (you can't go down and out anywhere else!):
This is a better picture of the leaf and stem made with Frost. This is also from one of my newest Millefiori designs, which I named "South of the Border". (I should have given it a "Lily" name because it has several new Brazilian dimensional embroidery stitches and ideas for lilies. I stitched the original design with lots of hot salsa colors, and now I'm trying another version with more muted, gentle lily colors (or will try to). I'll keep snapping pictures and sharing them. Here's the original Millefiori design which will be available for you to stitch in a couple of months, South of the Border:
I hope these hints and tips for using Frost will encourage you to give it a try. After I finished my embroidery, I looked around for The Cats. Usually they are sleeping on top of my table under my bright light and tactlessly suggesting that I go somewhere else to stitch. Cuthbert, however, is safely hidden in a new box, out of sight of Emmy (in the background, caring less...)



Friday, March 22, 2013

A NEW Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery Stitch Technique ... Braided Lace

Well, maybe not that new. But new to some, so I'll make a little tute here.

These LadyFlowers are "Becky, Bertha and Bubbles".
Becky, Bertha and Bubbles are all stitched with the same technique - a drizzle I have named "Braided Lace".  I have the instructions for these little LadyFlowers and almost 80 others in my book, My LadyFlowers by Rosalie Wakefield. Here's a picture:
I know, I know... *sigh*.  Sounds familiar.  I advertise and then I advertise some more. That's partly the reason for this blog, but the bigger reason is that I like to talk about Brazilian dimensional embroidery and am always willing to teach/share the things I've discovered. While I'm advertising, you can read more about the book, My LadyFlowers, on my website, here

All of the LadyFlower designs/patterns in the book will fit those little 2.5" frames, and are traceable patterns. However, you can tell from looking at the picture above that all you need are a dot for the drizzle and a spray of lazy daisy leaves and some beady or French knot curves and you'll have a design ready for your favorite wearable item or a crazy quilt, or a fabric postcard for a friend -- anywhere you can poke a needle!

I know you are more interested in learning about the Braided Lace Drizzle, so I'll tell you how to do it. I'll show you, too, with pictures as I write, since many of us are visual learners.  (And you can always drop me a note if you have questions).

You're all familiar with the basic drizzle, right? Thread your needle, come up through the fabric, unthread your needle, and start applying thread. Finish by re-threading the needle and going back down through the fabric and out. If you'd like to see a picture, please visit our BDEIG website. We have a "getting started" page that contains all of the basic stitches with diagrams and directions.  Here.  (Look around while you're here - there are freebie designs and lots of other good information, including all of the new Seminar 2013 classes, plus you can join the guild and learn even more!!!)

Back to work.
Braided Lace
You need:
      Two darners
      Two strands Lola (100% rayon Z-twist floss, from EdMar Co.), or your favorite floss weight.
         Needle Threader
      Pincushion for Drizzles
Thread a darner with Lola. (Repeat for the second strand.) Knot each end of a Lola strand separately (or just center one strand of Lola so that the fabric bite is approximately 1/8").
Bring the threaded needles up through the fabric, unthread needles. Re-insert the 2 darners, point down, about 1/8" apart into the pincushion. Like this:

You'll double cast on 18 times (this is 36 cast-on loops total, 18 alternating, on each side). Work as follows:

      With your left hand, cast on over the right needle.
      With your right hand, cast on over the left needle. 
          (The floss will cross in front) Like this (I did this a couple of times using different floss colors ...):
After you have cast on 18 sets of loops (or 36 times, total), your Braided Lace Drizzle will look like this:
See that pretty braided center vein? By the way (if you are "arranging" colors, the loops on the left side of the drizzle will be your flower "petals"). The right-size loops are 'gathered' into a tight center -- you'll see what I mean in a minute.
OK. After those loops are all on your needles, you will thread ONE needle:
     Thread the left-side floss into the right needle.
     Thread the right-side floss into the right needle.  Like this:
or this:
Now ...and very carefully so nothing pulls out, push that threaded right-side needle a little deeper into your pincushion:
...and always holding your floss loops against the needle (so nothing loosens or gets all wonky), carefully pull out that left-side (unthreaded) needle.  Now you have only one needle, the right-side threaded needle. See?
(I went and neatened up my fingernails as soon as I got finished here ...)
OK.  Finish the drizzle by pushing the right-side needle down through the fabric a little deeper into the pincushion. Remember to slip a pin or needle into the outer two floss loops so they don't twist and kink and knot for you (it's really hard to undo these with only one free hand...). Here's what I always do:
Oh, oops. Don't let these colors confuse you. I stitched this flower twice - you'll see in a minute. On the above picture, the red loops were cast onto the left-side needle. This is just a better picture, trying to show you about the pin through the two outer loops to prevent kinks and knots. On the earlier photo, the blue loops were on the left-side needle.  OK?  I guess I'd better show you:
As an interesting side note, the Braided Lace technique is a "reversible" stitch. I'll talk more about that in a minute. First, let's finish the drizzle.
          Pull the drizzle down snug to the fabric and the needle all the way through to the backside.
          Slip one of the strands of Lola out of the needle eye (you can use this long floss tail to knot off by hand later if you want).
With the one remaining threaded needle, come back up through the fabric at the base of the drizzle, or right next to where you started. Pull this threaded needle all the way through. With the tip of this threaded needle, guide the outer drizzle loop/edge/center braid of the drizzle to around in a circle to meet the beginning to the end and pull down snug. You'll have what looks like a circular flower with the blue loops forming the flower 'petals' (red loops in the flower pictured just below).
And done:
By the way, if you don't like your "joins", you can tuck them beneath another flower, or you can use any green, come up from the center and make 2-3 long bullions or cast-on stitches to give an impression of calyxes.
As a "technical" note, when you are using Z-twist floss and double cast-ing on, you'll notice the right-side loops "untwist" slightly, or flatten out (the reason why Z-twist bullions are wrapped clockwise).  [Perle Cotton is S-twist, by the way, and for those who do not have access to Z-twist floss, just reverse the procedure.] 
          I pretty much speak in "Z-twist". When these right-side loops 'flatten out', you'll see that they sort of tuck into each other and make a nice, smooth center for your flower.
That's it:  Braided Lace!
Braided Lace looks different on one side than the other. When I cast on with the blue loops on the left needle, these will make 'petals'. If I cast red loops over the left needle, I'll have red 'petals'. As I mentioned earlier, this stitch is reversible and you can flip the drizzle so the 'petals' will tuck under, or you can position the drizzle so that the 'petals' pop up.
Pretty both ways! See:
At the top of this post, you'll see that Bertha, Becky and Bubbles are kicking up their skirts and enjoying themselves. 
If you prefer the more demure LadyFlower "Garnet", let those left-side loops rest against the fabric, or even tuck them under with your needle. The picture below introduces you to the LadyFlowers, "Amber, Opal and Garnet":
I have lots of more advanced techniques in my book, My LadyFlowers, if you have already learned the basic Brazilian embroidery stitches and are feeling adventurous.
Always remember, too, that if you are trying to follow my instructions and something different comes out of your needle, just give it a name and continue - you have created a new design! 
Be sure to drop me a note, either in the comments below or by email, if you have any questions at all. I really LOVE Brazilian dimensional embroidery. Can you tell?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another Teaser - Millefiori Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery NEW Design!

Just a peek . . .
Easy Egret!  The lazy daisy stitch is my favorite stitch - you can do almost anything with it. This Brazilian dimensional embroidery is from one of my newest Millefiori designs, "Crystal Springs".

It will be ready to stitch in a couple of months; I'm going to teach the design at our BDEIG Seminar in June in Portland, Oregon. Here's a better picture on our BDEIG website. --and a closeup here.  While you're here, I hope you'll visit the other classes at our seminar and also check out some of the other website pages - it's a great group of stitchers with something new to learn all the time. We have some great designers, wonderful teachers and the best time ever, and it all happens in the City of Roses - exactly when all of the roses are blooming and the Portland Rose Festival is happening.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery and The Balance of Nature

I have SO much stuff in my camera, but have been busy, or I'd be writing more bloggy things. At the moment, I discovered this little hooty owl among my Millefiori Brazilian dimensional embroidery designs. Many of you have probably already met this guy?  "WHooo?"
Friendly, isn't he? Not. Of course, it could be a good case of indigestion.

“The Balance of Nature” (Millefiori design #959 - available for stitching if you are feeling "sociable") is about the food chain as it relates to Brazilian embroidery and was inspired by the children’s rhyme, “There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly…” 

The magnificent owl, a bird of the night and a bird of prey, is associated with wisdom. Our owl is wise enough to capture some interesting creatures and flowers in Brazilian embroidery along with his lunch and its lunch and its lunch, etc.

Innards include another kitty cat, a bird and a mouse that already has an “x” on its eye, plus sunflowers, monarda, asclepias and zinnia. The owl’s perch is a realistic log resting on a bed of ferns.
Framing the owl  is a nicely plump and well-fed kitty cat which can be embroidered or a pattern used for transfer to a wooden plaque (included with the fabric print and instructions). I bought my wooden plaque at JoAnn Stores and painted it with acrylic enamel paint (I found a really pretty copper color). I think I used my black Sharpie pen to do some of the outlining. Then I used my MS Word program and printed the title onto paper, glued it to balsa wood and found a nice fat needle to poke into the side of the design. See?
The "tummy" part of this design - the owl and its dinner 'fixins'" are printed on fabric. I used some interesting stitches, some fairly simple.
The little sunflowers are my favorite, though, and I've used them elsewhere. They start with a drizzle (double) with a long bullion that fits around the outside of the drizzle, and next I worked a row of detached buttonhole stitches through the drizzle loops and around the bullion (for support).
You'll also see that I added my Ridged Blanket Stitch fern to this design. I've written about it previously on this blog.
 I have instructions for the sunflower (I give it a different name depending on where I use it...) in my book My LadyFlowers by Rosalie Wakefield. Here's a better picture:
Sorry about the blur. Maybe I will re-shoot some of these pictures.
Anyway, since it's springtime (almost), the idea of birds comes to mind. (I'm keeping my cats away from owls, though!) As you can see, Cuthbert and Emmy could care less.