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!