Saturday, July 4, 2015

Jenean's Arizona Memory

My Brazilian dimensional embroidery stitching friend, Jenean, is a snowbird. When our snowbirds fly back from the sunny Southwest, they bring memories of the desert in bloom and lovely cactus flowers – coincidentally, the theme and flower for the Brazilian dimensional embroidery guild, BDEIG, in 2016. Jenean captured a photo of cactus in bloom on her doorstep as she was leaving to return to the Pacific Northwest. How better to remember it permanently than with floss! (Thank you, Jenean, for granting permission to publish your photograph.)
I'm sharing a free design, but first I'm going to write here about how I used the photograph as a "pattern" to make a simple embroidery design before adding some of our favorite dimensional stitches. I started by copy/pasting this photo onto a Word file. The photo was sized to 3" x 3".

I used some of the simple 'shapes' under the "INSERT" command -- the oval, 12-point star, circle, and lightning bolt and arranged them over the photo in white so they would show up against the dark background.
          I added a square 'frame' around the photo and "grouped" everything together, then deleted the photograph image. Next, I turned the lines to black so I could trace the design onto fabric.
          Almost any fabric works for Brazilian embroidery although many of us like Blazer poplin, a poly-cotton blend that is a bit heavier than other fabrics. But for this design, I thought a fancy fabric that reminded me of Southwest locales (where I have been only in my imagination) would be fun. Weavers cloth is a nice cotton blend. The white weavers cloth looks like linen, but doesn't shrink and is a delight to needle.
          There is also a weavers flax that looks unbleached and has little brown nubbies running through it. That's what I used (because I had some). This is similar to Osnaburg fabric (all are available at JoAnn stores). If I had a batik or other fabric that looked like a Southwestern sky, I might have used that. Anything works! (I even thought about pulling out my fabric crayons and coloring in a few horizontal sky lines in those glorious Southwesty colors!)
Here's the traceable pattern; the corners are 3" apart if you need to resize:
If you have a metal tip (lt. turquoise blue) LePen by Marvy (available at Amazon and probably also available from your local B.E. merchant), you can easily trace the pattern. The Marvy pens are filled with blue wash-out ink, so the lines will disappear on laundering. You'll see that I added a few curved lines for the cactus ribs.
Now we are ready to stitch. Here's the floss that I used, but feel free to substitute with dye lots and colors you like:
          Iris, shaded green #040, light yellow #114; 
          Cire #143 (light mulberry) and #218 (light fuchsia; one full skein);
          Boucle #008 (light yellow) and #303 (over-dyed rose/gray/green). 
You'll also need 2 darners, an embroidery or #3 milliners needle and a sturdy pincushion for the drizzles used to stitch the upper flower petals. 
Iris 040. Stem stitch all cactus ribs. Add some horizontal straight stitches at the left side of each blossom center to add depth/shadow.

Boucle 008. With a darner, add tiny Boucle straight stitches equidistant along each cactus rib. Bring needle up on one side of a stem stitch and go down exactly across on the other side. Where the lines meet at the center top, make a small "star" of straight stitches to 'join' the ribs together.
--or you could make French knots. But the Boucle already does all the hard work for you!
Cactus Blossoms - Cire 143, 218. Iris 114
[It's a good idea to use a darner when working with Cire.]

The cactus blossoms are made with reverse lazy daisy stitches - 12 of them - for the background petals. These are in a darker color.
The 12 dimensional petals are made with drizzles in a lighter color.

Make the background spikes with the darker color using a reverse lazy daisy stitch. Offset the [A-B] points to taper the stitch:
Next, change to the lighter-color Cire. Pull two strands of floss. Knot each strand on one end. Use the darner and bring one strand up next to the flower center inside the lazy daisy loop. Repeat with the second floss strand, bringing needle up inside the next lazy daisy loop area, as shown on the center diagram below:
Place two darners next to each other and between two lazy daisy stitches (See third diagram above). There really are ONLY two darners here -- ignore the shadows on the photograph below. I was focused on the stitching and not the camera's behavior.
Even though the above photo doesn't show it, I think I had those two darners between the lazy daisy stitches.
Now you will add 12 double cast-on drizzle stitches around:
Double cast-on 6 sets of loops (6 loops on each side of the two needles).
Remove one needle and double cast on 2 sets of loops (2 loops on each side of needle).
        [I'm going to interrupt myself here to share a couple of handy-dandy tips.]
The firm pincushion is a big help when making drizzles, but sometimes those needles like to cross as you work. If you slip a pin or another needle between, they will keep their distance, as required.
But it works even better if you have both darner eyes next to each other - this will keep the needles where they belong:
To finish the petal, rethread the darner with both floss strands. Remember to insert a pin through the outer loops as you finish the stitch. This avoids those annoying knots and kinks as you pull the floss through the center of the stitch.
It's also helpful to keep that pin in those outer drizzle loops - you can "size" the drizzle to the length you want. Here I extended the stitch to match the spokes below:
Now you are ready to make the next drizzle. Begin by bringing the needle up
inside the lazy daisy loop AND through the lower (first) drizzle loop. This will help adjust the width of the drizzle, but it will also connect all of the top petals, make them stand upright, and avoid any gaps between petals. See:
I kept that pin in the outer loops so I wouldn't accidently pull the 'petal' down. You could also knot off after each stitch, but life is short; time's a-wastin'...
Iris 114. Edge the center of each cactus blossom with 1-wrap French knots. Add 3, 12-loop up-down drizzles as stamens. (Thanks, Loretta Holzberger of Loretta's Custom Stitchery for this tip! Up-down drizzles keep the stamens upright.)
Boucle 303. Add ground/soil/gravel with straight stitches at the base of the cactus. Cut floss as needed to work with the colors you want.

You can decide to frame your finished embroidery if you like, or you can use it for a fabric postcard or a patch on a crazy quilt, or add it to a wearable item.
I'm also writing a bit about this design on the Facebook group, Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery. It's a great place to visit and share our work, and I hope you can all join the fun over there, too.

          In addition, this design will be published in the August issue of the BDEIG newsletter, The B.E. Wrap-Up. As I wrote earlier, the BDEIG theme for 2015-16 is "Cactus Gardens" and the flower of the year is the Cactus Blossom. Here's mine, all finished:

Speaking of cactus, I discovered a few years ago that there is a cactus called the "Old Man Cactus". So he wouldn't be lonely, I made up a design I named "The Old Man Cactus and the Sweet Young Thing Cactus". Because I sign and date my embroidery, I see that I designed this little piece in 1997. (I'm also including a photo of how I decorated the frame with a strip of ribbon tape.)   Here's a picture.
This 3" x 5" design is framed in a pseudo-pshadow box. I used my acrylic paints to paint the inner frame and the outside.
I also found a piece of ribbon tape trim, which I glued to the outside.
Cuthbert thought it was nice. My friend Erin crocheted these little towelettes for me, but I discovered I have to hide them from The Cat.
Now and then, Cuthbert speaks:
"I am Lion; hear me Roaaaaar" . . . .
...and because I probably just don't have enough pictures here -- the other evening I was stitching and drawing pictures out on our deck. It was still in the 90's, but felt good. I looked up and across the yard saw my pink campanula happily blooming away. So I picked up the camera. (Guess what entertainment you'll get next -- lots of flower photos!!!)
I hope you enjoy the free Brazilian dimensional embroidery design I'm sharing today.  Happy Fourth of July!!





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