Friday, 23 January 2015

Big owl (cross-stitch)

Some years after completing the little owls,(small-owls.) having collected several larger patterns of owls but not sewn them (although one did inspire my pumpkin carving)  I bought a DMC kit Barn Owl-La Chouette as the combination of image and colours appealed to me.

I noted there was silver metallic thread and could not make out what that bit was on the picture and looked forward to finding out where it would go.

Always intended for my mother as a gift I worked on it in secret and it grew quite slowly. This is the owl in who's feathers bears and horses appeared and then were absorbed.patternicity

Barn Owl

The silver thread, not sure if you can see it here but it is spider web.

The owl now takes its turn with Nantucket Rose, The Castle and my Christmas embroideries on the wall in the living room.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Eyes of Green

Green eye
In my post 'not just a pretty face', I told you about my doll making friend. Each time I have sewn a face, I have checked the hair colour and asked what colour eyes to do.  I have done blue eyes and shades of brown yet all the time what I very much wanted to do was green.  I like green, it is a favourite colour of mine in all its many shades.  However, for many it is considered an unlucky shade so has not made its way to a dolly's eyes.

This time was different, the doll was destined to wear clothes made from my friend's husband's shirt (she had been after cutting it up for dolly clothes for some time) and it has green in it.  So with instructions to do a face to go with the clothing material I at last got to sew eyes of green.

I passed the finished face back before Christmas presuming the doll was destined as a Christmas gift.

Have you ever heard the story of the builder commissioned to build a house, and who after building it was gifted the house to live in?  Depending on the teller of the story and the point they want to emphasise, the builder either cuts corners and now knows he has an under specification house to live in, or has done a splendid job and is delighted with his new home.

Green eyes
Of topic, nope, I was glad that I had maintained my standards in this doll face as with giggles and a large grin my friend gave the finished doll to me.

So not only did I get to sew the green eyes I had always wanted, I got to keep them to.

You will note that I have yet to add shoes and a bag.  Mulling over the colour to use perhaps!

Oh and just as a tease of things to come (I most earnestly hope this year at last) these are not the only eyes of green I have sewn.

Mystery green eye 
Although not just sewn in this case.

Since this post was originally published the mystery has been revealed at ( Once upon a time)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Small Owls (cross-stitch)

My mother likes owls, I like owls too.  So my stitching owls is not surprising.

I started with little owls from a pair of mini patterns I spotted in a sale basket in a small shop, I forget exactly where.

The material is not purpose made for cross stitch, it is from a  linen skirt I had. Worn only once or twice and kept at the back of the wardrobe I remembered it after buying the pattern. It had a high to the inch thread count and I stitched the owls over two.

Barn owl in flight

For the Barn owls, each owl, in flight and resting
was stitched on a separate bit of material as were the words barn and owls.
Perched Barn Owl
 As that meant very thin margins for framing, and I had previous experience of a framer in a shop giving me grief about the small margin of material round a design, and this had even less, so I cut the mount myself with a small mount board cutter and did it myself.

Whilst the end result leans more to the unique of my motto than the perfect I am still rather pleased with my arches.  My first go at cutting a curve.

Framed Barn Owl

Perhaps I should mention dimensions at this point. The aperture size for the full frame is 10cm wide and a little over 14cm high.  The owl in flight is 5cm wide and a little over 5.5cm in height.  The Perched owl is 2.5 wide and 5cm in height.  It was, when I made it intended for my mothers office.  She kept it at home as being a touch to big for her desk.

So I did say there were two patterns the second had a smaller "in flight" bird so back to the skirt and office picture number two.  This time Tawny Owls.  The in flight bird measures 6cm across and 3.5 down, the perched version is 3.5 across and 5.5 down, so I could get them in a frame with an aperture of 11 by 7.5 cm.  No fancy arches this time and still a bit wobbly on the cutting  but it went to work and squeezed its way onto her desk.

It came home when she retired and joined the Barn Owls.

Tawny Owl in flight

I must admit that of the two I prefer the framing on the Barn Owl, but I like the perched Tawny Owl, there is something engaging about the eyes.

Perched Tawny Owl
Framed Tawny Owls

Friday, 9 January 2015

Good , better, best

never let it rest till your good is better and your better best.

so goes the little rhyme.  When it comes to the tools for crafting best is not always the most expensive or the latest new thing.  Best is exactly that, what works best for you.  Of course you can only find out what that is by trial and error.

For the quilting as I mentioned before I started out with an ordinary 12" plastic ruler."My first patchwork" It was fine for a start and if necessary I could manage with that again but much better is my quilting ruler, 18" see through (although I occasional loose sight of it for that reason) with a grid making measuring so much easier.  I have a wider heavier quilting ruler and for some that would be best but nice as it is, the 18" sees more use, strips being the main for my default logcabin.

Inch dragon ruler
                                                      For getting a shorter firm line I like this early learning centre ruler,the handle effect lets me get a good grip, apply even pressure with little strain to my hand.

edge on

And it looks like a dragon of course (so it is supposed to be an inch worm but it looks more like a dragon to me).  It works well for paper crafts and for slippery material.

Easy grip action

Useful but by no means essential I have a flexible ruler and a set of French curves.  Oh but the ruler that has made so many a quilt edging easier is a metal meter rule, now there was a gift chosen with a great knowledge of my needs. You can see it at the bottom bottom of the picture below. It is also quite helpful smoothing flat the backing material when laying out ready to "sandwich".

all my rulers

Occasionally I borrow one of those laser tools advertised for lining up dado rails or hanging wallpaper.  It is quite good for getting a long straight line on a quilt edge. Oh and I have a quilters quarter for marking quarter inch seams, it gets little use as I confess I mainly use half inch seams (the purists are shuddering now at the very thought) I like the extra margin for uniqueness that gives me.

For my cross stitching I have a triangular ruler,self titled "The Stitchers Friend", the six different edges measure in the various counts,  10,14,18 and 12,16,27, it makes measuring out the material for a design quicker and takes away some of the worry about getting the things the right size.

Cross stitch ruler

Scissors are another essential that can become an obsession.  I often look like a crazy woman in shops, holding scissors up to my ear so I can hear the quality of the cut, as how they look is no guarantee of cutting quality, I prefer not to buy scissors I can't hear.  My friend, having seen me do this repeated the check in the presence of her husband, after some gentle spousal scoffing he tries it for himself..another convert to "hear the quality".

Anyway the size and type of scissor depends much on the craft and the level to which you intend to do it. I started off with one pair of paper scissors and one pair of material scissors.  They were joined by several little pairs of embroidery scissors, people, once they know you sew will be delighted with a new avenue of gift possibilities and little scissors are readily available and appeal. That is fine as you can leave little scissors in with different projects (and I often do which is why there is only one pair for the picture). Other scissors for paper and material joined my original cutting implements and pinking shears, I have a cunning plan for scissor storage and if I ever bring it to fruition I will no doubt be sharing it here.

Scissors plus

Let us not forget what is by many considered better for quilters, the rotary cutter.  I do have one, in fact I had it several years before I made use of it, my carpet page quilt (Tracing inspirations.) being its first project however, for me best is still a good sharp pair of scissors.

Oh I almost forgot, snips, good for carrying with cross stitch kits when all you want is to 'snip' a thread or two. I have a couple of those as well.

Some innovations have not been for me, I use the little flat square bobbins for my embroidery threads but could not get away with a bobbin winder.  Nor, although I can see the merit to the idea could I use the thread bow method of storage.
Thread storage.

All my threads on cards in the top three boxes and the spares bundled together in the bottom three fit into this storage bag.  Nice and useful but I have a feeling given my love of wooden boxes that there is a best out there for thread storage had I the room to store it!

Of course had I the room, there are dream items that I imagine would be best with a capital B.  The first I have already mentioned in the preceding sentence, room, I would love one room dedicated to all my crafting fits and starts.  A room big enough to include the other dream items, a full size standing quilt frame,(I currently use hoops) a long arm quilting machine, oh a cutting table, a design wall.(wouldn't a Harry Potter style room of requirements be great for a sewing room or Terry Pratchet's The Luggage with unlimited storage space and what ever you want to get out always at the top). But dreams aside I will keep going with things stored here and there  (there often being the loft) and whatever works the best for me.

And I will try and keep the tenth commandment when looking at the wonderful sewing, quilting, crafting rooms stuffed full of handy implements on other crafter's web pages and Facebook posts. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A sense of deja vu and celestial bodies (cross-stitch)

Another new year, the second since I started this blog.  My how the time goes, and not always on the things planned.  I did manage to get a couple of things finished.  However, as is always the way, those finishes feel outweighed by the unfinished or little progressed items and the new year starts with a determination to do better this time.

Given I never promised a blog in chronological order I will for this first share of the year go back in time.  The first item of interest to me is an old (and I do mean old) Christmas card I found in the loft whilst looking for something else (as is always the way) I had thought the card long gone.  It was the starting point for my Three Kings embroidery (shared 2013 under the title Christmas Card Inspirations) and other than, ohps!, more confirmation that I am less organised than some give me credit for, it is interesting as my interpretation is more different that my memory has suggested, especially all that red . Still no details as to the designer but the card was sold in aid of Oxfam and from Mr and Mrs Doctor friends of my father.

Christmas care, an inspiration

So as I took down the Christmas card embroideries for another year I determined to make some progress on Hark the Herald Angels.  I am 98% happy with the adjusted design now, a little more contemplation and it will be time to transfer it to the material.  That last 2% will be changes and alterations in thread choice and stitch direction as I go (judging on past experience with the others) wish me luck, the last one took seven years once I started stitching, I have spent that long trying to settle on the design this time round so goodness knows how long I will be a stitching it.  I have a fancy for incorporating DMC light effects into this one and perhaps using the Anchor variegated threads I received from a cross stitch magazine (a tale for another time) but nothing made firm yet.

Oh and the second element of the title, a long ago gift made for my BFF at a time suns and moons and stars as a decorative motif had not moved from the arty hippy fringes to become mainstream (and have since passed out the other side) and my friend was very fond  of them.  This is on 18 count navy and started life as a book mark design (from the same set of bookmarks as the Sound Wizard in my Halloween entry for last year),  I adjusted the mount myself so it would sit in the frame I had.  This is a new picture taken for the blog, and happily evidences that special people do appreciate, keep and display the things we crafters make for them.

Sun and moon and stars