Sunday, May 29, 2011

Frustration on a Sunday Afternoon

This past week I started a new program for myself and for members of my Shining Needle Society Class. Last Sunday I looked ahead at the week to be and I set up some stitching goals for myself.

Happily I kept to my goals all week long. I even started a new design and spent several days consumed by it, but in the end, sadly it didn't work and I just tossed it.

I don't mind the time I spent on it -- it is a part of any creative work. I got myself backed into a place I couldn't deal with. The part I mind is, I've been there a dozen times before and I forget about it.

It all has to do with Zweigart and the colors of congress cloth.

I find Zweigart congress cloth colors too strong and too true to their colors. Even the ecru (I always forget the real name of the color), the light blue and the gray. The ecru is too yellow for my tastes, the light blue is so light blue and the gray to my eye is more like a middle gray.

I would prefer a series of grounds with 'barely there' colors, with just enough color to take the Scream out of Screaming White. I have wished for this as long as I have used congress cloth which is a long long time.

Last year I rejoiced when Zweigart announced 4 new congress cloth colors and I ordered them sight unseen. Then they arrived on my doorstep. All four were strong strong colors. Couldn't just one of them be a soft barely-there ground? I'm not asking for all four, just one. Ahh, my soul for an antique white (a genuine antique white), or a pale (I do mean pale) gray or probably what would be my favorite choice: a barely-there gray blue. Or how about a barely there gray green. Actually the color doesn't matter, just an almost-neutral color to take the Scream out of Screaming White.

I live with Screaming White. I have adjusted my whole career to Screaming White: I use pale colors so that the contrast keeps the Scream at bay.

From time to time I forget and I start a design calling for strong colors, and that's what I did last week.

I got part way into it, liked very much what I had done, then I started choosing more colors and stopped cold. The Screaming White was screaming overtime. Knowing the lessons from the past I simply bundled it all up and tossed it -- and wished for the umpteenth time for a barely there color.

The frustration leads me to write about it every once in a while and the frustration is looming large this afternoon. Very large. So I am writing about it on my blog. Writing about it makes me feel better, I guess. Gets it off my chest.

So now I've written about it again.

Back to the drawing board. Hmmm, let's see what design of mine will harmonize with the soft colors necessary to keep the scream in white down to a dull roar. The wish list tabled for yet another year or two.

Gay Ann

Friday, May 27, 2011

Carrickmacross Lace

After my Royal Wedding Extravaganza on Queendom Website, I decided to dig into my Lace Box and find samples of Carrickmacross Lace, primarily because that was the lace on Kate Middleton's wedding dress.

I found several pieces and have displayed them on my website. I began with such a poor example of the craft, a sad hankie with amateur appliques. Carrickmacross is a lace made of applying fabric bits onto net. Whereas the more difficult laces have solid areas created by Buttonhole Stitch, Carrickmacross solid areas are applied fabric. The best part of my coarsely made hankie is that it is easy to understand the technique.

This morning I posted my favorite piece of Carrickmacross, a beautiful 19th century handkerchief of Carrickmacross Guipure. All Guipure indicates is that there's no net. This hankie is such a beautiful example and I have always loved it. I found it years and years ago in a basket on the rainy ground of a large flea market outside London. I had gone there with an antiques dealer friend of mine who was shopping for her own stock.

In future days I am hoping people will find hankies from their moms and aunts and grandmothers and we will look at photos and see what people have. Tomorrow morning or Sunday morning, I am not sure which, I will post a couple of 1950's machine-made lace hankies that borrow patterns from the handmade Carrickmacross Lace.

Gay Ann Rogers and click on 'Lace Box' on the yellow navigation bar

Thursday, May 05, 2011

A Small Slice of London from Betty Chen Louis

The best part of my Springtime Extravaganza is its end: a new and small piece, a slice of London's skyline, from Betty Chen Louis. I have posted the piece on my website's home page:

For so long now I have been writing about restraint from gooping up pieces of needlepoint and here is a prime example of how restraint has paid off big time. Betty hasn't used many stitches or threads to stitch her small skyline; her skill is the manipulation of color and scale to show the construction of the buildings and the lights and shadows across them. To my way of thinking Betty is the master of manipulating color and scale.

The piece is brand new. Betty finished stitching it less than a month ago. Because it makes so many of the points I would love to see reinforced, I am hoping it will become an online class sometime early next year through Shining Needle Society. For interest in the class, contact For now she is compiling an interest room.

For my own part, I am delighted to see Betty stitching again and it is lovely to see a new piece of her elegant work.

Gay Ann