Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Little Birdie Sent a Tweet . . .

I already posted this on my Facebook page earlier today, but thought you might like to be re-entertained. I wrote:

I'm sitting outside on my patio drawing designs on this beautiful sunny Oregon afternoon, and I heard a birdie making a big chirp up in a tree. I tried to track him and finally saw him. Some of his cousins showed up and they all had a great time.

And I thought what fun it would be to be a little bird -- nothing to do all day long except hop from one high tree branch to another, just having a good time. And what a view they must have from up there, looking down on all of... us "little people" and cats.
However, there are two sides. Birds have to eat with their feet, they don't have thumbs, and they also fly into windows and knock themselves silly.
I guess it's OK to be a people, but now and then birdies look like they are having a really good time.

So my mind left my body for a few moments there. 
          And then an idea for a new Brazilian dimensional embroidery design popped into my head. A few years ago I designed "B.E. a Tree". This year I am designing "B.E. an Owl". Must have been those birdies....

I've stitched owls before, this one reminded me of the song, "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed a fly...":
That above design is Millefiori #959 "The Balance of Nature", named to show that life eventually balances itself. Which reminds me of this bit of humor found on the Internet (I am not sure who to credit, but it's funny anyway so I thank them.)
This is the stitched center of the design, the part that is all Brazilian embroidery:
I also stitched these owls as part of my "Wind Chimes" design (Millefiori #8005):
This was a happy family of owls just hangin' out.
 Mom and Dad above, and the little guy below.
And I designed this little Hooty Owl family for my Millefiori Design #857 "Crazy Quilt Pillow" (I still have some left if you can't wait to stitch an owl!!):

Here's the rest of the design:

I'll share the newest owl design as soon as I have it stitched. At the moment I'm planning to teach it at BDEIG Seminar 2015.

Here is my inspiration, watching every move I make in hopes that one of the motions with my hands will produce a kitty treat or two:
This is my other inspiration. I have two yellow roses in my garden. I think this one is Gold Medal. It just bloomed a couple of days ago ... hanging onto summer for as long as possible.
Now I'll get busy with my little birdies. --and a couple of other new designs that are percolating. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Continuous Drizzle - A New Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery Stitch Technique

No, you haven't missed any posts. I've just been re-adjusting some priorities, but would like to start sharing more detail about some of my Millefiori stitch techniques and ideas for Brazilian dimensional embroidery. I've had some requests for making the Continuous Drizzle, a string of drizzles that is useful as leaves, vines or even flowers.

Most B.E. stitchers are familiar with the drizzle: Threaded needle up from fabric, unthread needle, push needle into pincushion and start looping (single or double cast-on) over the eye of the needle. End by re-threading this needle and pushing it through the fabric to end with an upright, dimensional stitch. The drizzle is often used to make stamens for flower centers. Please visit the BDEIG website to learn more about the drizzle:  

One day when I was playing with my floss, I wondered about making a string of continuous drizzles. It's one of those ideas that really worked! I cleverly named it "Continuous Drizzle". It's described in My Book of Stitches, but I'm going into more detail on this post.
 Here's the idea:
This "Summer Drizzle Climbing Rose" is stitched with Lola #017, 305 and 308 (4-5 yards each) for the greens, and #327, pink over-dyed, for the flowers. Some of the continuous drizzles were started at the top, some at the sides, some in the center. After the entire strand of floss is finished, the 'flowers' and 'leaves' are tacked in place (however you want, so that they please your eye).

The tree leaves on this design are also stitched with the continuous drizzle:

Yes, that's a kitty (button). I stitched the "Garden Party" twice - once with all rayon floss and a second time with all beads and other fibers, including rayon ribbon floss. I'll write more about these designs in another post.

Most recently, I used the continuous drizzle technique for Millefiori design #8004 "Crystal Springs".  Here's a picture showing the alder tree leaves (upper right).


And here's how it's done, step by step in photos. By the way, I'll paste all of this post into a pdf file for you to print and save if you like. Just email me if you'd like a copy.

Ready? You need a pincushion for drizzles, a needle threader and a couple of darners, plus an extra long straight pin or two if you like.  And floss - any weight, two weights, color or colors that you like.
For a double cast-on drizzle (you can do singles if you like...), you need two floss strands. Knot each separately. For rayon floss, slightly moisten the knot - also known as 'slurp' - and ravel out the floss past the knot, as shown.

Thread a darner and bring the floss up through the fabric.
Unthread the darner and reinsert this needle point down into the fabric and the pincushion below. These photos are made on a doodle cloth; if you have a design print, start the string of drizzles as needed.
Double cast-on four times (i.e., loop floss over the eye of the needle, left side one time, then right side one time). This is four sets of loops. I'm using two colors for this demo. Remember that when you are looping over a darner, you have a wider eye - don't pull those loops too tightly because you want to get the needle back through that drizzle. 

Now re-thread your darner. This is where the needle threader is handy, and it's a good idea to thread each floss strand separately.

Next, verrrrry carefully, back the tip of the needle out of the fabric. Slipping those loops a tiny way up the needle is helpful. See:
Now, you are going to push that needle through the cast-on loops. Sometimes I'll slip my finger into the loopy area at the top of the drizzle, but I've found that a needle is very helpful to keep one side or the other tightening early:
When the drizzle is 'evened out', anchor the tip of that needle in the fabric so you can knot the floss at the bottom of the drizzle:

You might notice that if you get TOO enthusiastic and pull the needle ALL the way through the loops, the stitch will fall apart. That's why we will knot after each drizzle. A square knot is preferable (right over left, left over right, pull snug, moisten knot). An overhand knot adds more bulk than is desirable, but you can do whichever you wish, depending on the floss weight you are using.
Below is a picture of an overhand knot. With Nova it's a definite no-no (too bulky). I think I prefer a square knot.

Well. Wasn't that fun? One drizzle completed!  Oh, but wait.  We are going to continue the continuous.

Use the second darner, insert it into the fabric at the "X". This will keep those drizzles fairly close together. Repeat, double cast-ing on four times (or your choice, depending on how long you want your leaf or flower to be). Eventually, you will have a big pile of drizzles on your fabric, ready to bend to your whim.
Make more:

When all floss is used, re-thread the darner and sink the needle into the fabric, leaving the string of continuous drizzles loose enough that you can tack them into position. Use another floss strand to do this couching or tacking.

Okay. Learning by repetition really works. Sometimes it only takes a second look for light bulbs to go off above our heads.
This diagram shows the needle anchoring the top loops of the drizzle as the second drizzle is completed:
This is the string of continuous drizzles:

 If you like the idea of embellishing a crazy quilt with a trellis design, here is the pattern from Millefiori design #926 "Garden Party":
Soooo . . .

I recently wondered what would happen if I made a flower out of the continuous drizzle. I think this looks like a dahlia, so I'm calling it a drizzle dahlia.  You can make one, too -- all you need is a little "x" on your fabric.

For this project, I pulled off 3-4 yards of rayon ribbon floss in two colors. I cast on the lighter color with my left hand (left side of the 'petal'). The picture below is actually 25 drizzles, five sets of loops for each double cast-on.
Here the string of continuous drizzles is stretched out, anchored at the fabric at only the beginning of the first drizzle (as mentioned above).
To anchor the drizzles and complete the flower, I used regular thread and tacked each petal around the center "x".
 This is the back of the fabric, all drizzles couched to spiral around the center.

Actually, it took so long to make 25 drizzles (tedious repetition, for sure!) that even the cat got bored. This is Emmy trying to look interested:

She soon gave up. Bored, I think:
Really bored . . .
I hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial and the new drizzle dahlia made with a continuous drizzle. I'd love to see the other ideas our creative stitchers come up with. Have fun!

You'll find even more ideas in My Book of Stitches that might inspire you to try new things as you play with your floss.
        And don't forget to ask for a pdf copy of this post if you would like.