Friday, July 20, 2012

What? I'm a Forest Cat....

 Well, what?
Oh, hai ... It's ME, Cuthbert.   Can you find me?

This is my FOREST, deep in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, in search of tasty morsels (aka, birdies) which always seem to elude my tempting wiles.
See?  There I am!

In the FOREST.  I am a Forest Cat, after all. The ony difference is that this isn't Norwegia ...
Sort of a forest anyway. I had to put on my hiking boots and I labored long and hard to climb this mountain, over these rocks that have pierced the tender soles of my feet. You can see my climbing safety harness as I face the wilds of the back yard, undaunted -- a vision of courage in the wilds of my own personal forest.

Emmy, who could care less about The Big Guy, guards the portals of their home, tactfully suggesting that Cuthbert should just stay out there in his forest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Casting-on with Z-twist Floss in Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery

This is the cast-on stitch made with Z-twist rayon floss that we use for Brazilian dimensional embroidery. The cast-on is looped over the needle with the left hand. Looping with the right hand will untwist the floss and make a flat stitch. Yes, there is a definite right and wrong side to a cast-on stitch, the same as there is to a bullion:
I looped the bottom cast on with my left hand. I tried the top cast-on stitch by holding the floss with my right hand and looping over the needle. Notice how the floss untwists, plus the stitch isn't nearly as pretty.

This is the same principle we use when we wrap bullions. When we use Z-twist floss, we wrap the needle in a clockwise direction so the plies of the floss will not untwist and flatten out. See:
For the top bullion the Z-twist floss is wrapped counterclockwise around the needle. Notice how the plies are separating and making a flatter stitch, not nearly as pretty as the properly-wrapped, clockwise wrap bullion at the bottom. Here's a picture from another angle:
You can see that the top bullion (clockwise wrap) even has more dimension. I used Nova and my #15 milliners needle so I could get the best picture for you.

This is basic Brazilian embroidery, but we are getting lots of new stitchers right along, so I hope you'll be patient while I share with you the things I've learned from other teachers and would like to pass along on this blog.

One of the really great places to ask questions - and a location many stitchers new to B.E. are finding - is our BDEIG Online Chapter, a Yahoo group. You can click the link here, or over there on the left side of the page (if you're reading this online). I've also mentioned that people can sign up to receive these posts in their emailbox, too -- there's a place to sign up, also over there on the left side of the page.

OK, back to casting on. This morning, one of our stitchers wrote that she is having a really had time casting on painlessly because of carpel tunnel. So I tried to figure out a way to keep her stitching. It actually can be done! I wrote a lot of this to the online group, but repetition is supposed to be like knowledge reinforcement
     I finally figured out how to do a proper right-hand cast-on, but also found that I really had to think outside the box (or hoop) since I've been doing the left-hand version for so long. I'm also adding some other cast-on notes while we are on the subject.
This is The Little "e". It looks just like a lower-case "e" when you do cursive handwriting. When you loop properly with your left hand, you'll have that little "e" and you want the tip of the needle to pass through that loop from front to back - just like in the picture.

In Brazilian embroidery we cast on with the left hand because of the Z-twist rayon floss. Just as there is a right and a wrong to wrapping bullions clockwise or counter-clockwise (the no-no) using Z-twist floss, there is also a right side and a wrong side to a cast-on stitch, as you'll agree if you study that picture above with the red floss. Right-hand looping over the needle will "untwist" the Z-twist causing the strands to separate. Here's a better picture:
See how the floss separates?
But sometimes a situation arises where you need to make another choice and still be able to do this beautiful embroidery in the proper manner. I finally figured out a way to get the same end results, but using your right hand to loop the floss over the needle. (I used a pen because I needed my hand for snapping pictures.)
  ...or, in lieu of a pen, my right hand pointy finger:
--always remembering that you need that little cursive "e", here I will lift my looped finger up over the tip of the needle and slip the loop over the needle, front to back. (This would be MUCH easier if I just made a video...)

Back to the purple pen! Use the pen to form a Little "e". Lift the pen waaay up...
...and then up over the tip of the needle!
Easy as pie!
Here are a whole group of right-hand cast-on loops:
As I mentioned earlier, it’s best to get in a habit of looping with your left hand, but sometimes we need to learn a different way of doing the same thing.

And now for all of the extra little hints and tips. Whenever I finish making my cast-on stitches, I place the floss behind the needle before pulling through. This prevents those little kinks that sometimes happen. (It also helps to pull all of the floss through the eye of the needle and then back it out to a short floss tail before finishing a cast-on stitch. You've probably noticed that the more loops you put on the needle, the tighter and more twisted the floss gets. Changing gears - reverse and forward - will solve that little problem!)
Finished, and settled in place - ready to make another one!

Here's another handy dandy hint. Have you ever had to undo a cast-on stitch, but you didn't want to cut it out? Well, you can pull all of the loops off in one easy process. Remember this: The last place where you came UP is where you pull OUT.
When we make our needle path through the fabric, we often talk about A (up from fabric), B (into the fabric), C (back up again to start the loops or wraps) and D (down and out to finish the stitch).

"C" (that dark arrow above) is the last place where you came UP. Slip the eye of your needle under that thread (it's the carrying cord for the loops or wraps - you can see the cord running through --indicated by those 3 arrows), and pull it up, or away, from the rest of the stitch (in this case, I'd slide the needle eye to the right).  The carrying cord pulls out of the stitch and all of the loops fall right off.  I did say "handy dandy", didn't I?

One more thing – you can always take loops or wraps OFF the needle before finishing a stitch, but it you want to add more, you’ll just have to start over.

If you have questions, be sure to drop me a note - in the comments below if you want. I love to talk about B.E., as you have probably already noticed.