Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Summer Project

On the Summer Solstice I took the whole day and stitched.

I began stitching a project in an unconventional way: I gathered together a variety of threads in colors I like and a square of 18 mesh canvas and I began stitching without a plan or a drawing to guide me.

My idea is to start with one color and one stitch and then make the next decision based on that color and that stitch, then the next decision once I see the first and second choices, and so forth, and watch where it all leads.

I have stitched this way on several occasions In the past, and sometimes the designs work out and sometimes not. Even if the designs don't work out, I always come away with some interesting patterns or color combinations which I have incorporated into other designs. In the best of circumstances, I come up with a design that stands on its own. My past design called 'Twilight Garden Square' was one of these experiments.

This time is a bit different because I decided to document each step and make it a summer project on my website. I have been snapping photos along the way and making notes about the process as I go. This morning I posted the first of the series on my website: a photo of the threads and canvas I started with and some notes about my choices. I plan to write about my decisions along the way, why I did this, why I chose that, etc., as I go.

The thing about this way of working is, I never know where I am headed, so I am hoping it will be lively, a bit of suspense and a bit of living on the edge in terms of needlepoint. We'll see how it turns out.

To follow along: and click on 'Summer' on my navigation bar.

Gay Ann

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Solstice Stitch In

It is the eve of one of my favorite days of the year: tomorrow we have more daylight hours than any other day of the year and that's why it is one of my favorite days.

In my classroom at Shining Needle Society I planned a Summer Solstice Stitch In. My original plan was to start stitching after dinner and stitch till the last light of the day fades.

Now I've revised my plan. I decided I deserve one of my favorite days all to myself, so with notable exceptions for errands and to-do tasks and of course food breaks, I plan to pick up my needle at first light tomorrow morning and stitch all day long till the final bit of light in the evening. I have invited all of Shining Needle Society, at least all of the members I can reach, to e-drop in and join me for whatever time they can, then tell us how much they accomplished.

My idea for myself is to start a new project.

Lately, out in my guest room, I have had squares of 18 mesh canvas in all colors spread out with chunks of favorite threads in favorite colors on top of the canvas squares. Today I plan to choose one of those squares and its colors, mount the square on stretcher bars and set it aside along with two shiny new tapestry needles for tomorrow morning.

So what do I plan to stitch? That's what's unusual about this project of mine: I don't know, I don't have any drawings or any plans. I will just pick up my needle and start, then see what I come up with. I plan to start at the center of the canvas and watch what evolves.

I've done this before and it is great fun. I have to watch what is happening and I often have to rip a lot, but I usually do a lot of ripping anyway. I love not knowing where I am heading, just interacting with the canvas to see what evolves.

This time I plan to take photos each step of the way and post the results on my website, bad or good, through the next month.

We'll see how it all turns out.

Happy Summer Solstice Eve. Enjoy the wonderful long hours of daylight.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Lace: Hand-made vs. Machine-Made

Because of the Royal Wedding and Kate Middleton's dress, I have been featuring examples of Carrickmacross lace on my website. This is the style of lace on Kate Middleton's dress.

This morning I began a journey of study when I posted closeups of hand-made Carrickmacross and machine-made Carrickmacross. I have posted arrows noting certain areas where the stitches are easier to see and If you look carefully at them you will begin to recognize stitches made by hand vs. stitches made by machine.

To see the closeups go to, click on Lace Box, then on Lace Box 8.

Why learn about this? If you like to shop in flea markets and you go armed with a bit of knowledge, you are likely to find some real treasures for a few pennies. Many dealers buy quantity of laces, but many of them don't know the difference between hand and machine.

For example, at Covent Garden market in London, I once bought 3 strips of lace for the equivalent of $2.50 for the three. I bought them as samples to illustrate hand vs. machine in my needlework classes and they were great for that. Two were machine-made, but the third one was a great little strip of hand-made Venetian lace.

Besides studying them, what else can you do with these things? In the next couple of years I hope to figure out ways to incorporate bits of lace into some needlepoint patterns. In the meantime I am hoping my followers will learn a tad bit about the lace they may one day incorporate into their needlework,

Gay Ann