Sunday, March 27, 2016

Crystals and Crows and Confetti (Oh My!)

Hi y'all! :)

Fair warning: this is a long, rambling post in which I'm begging for your opinion, if you've one to venture.

Well, I'm having a bit of trouble deciding which fabric to use for an upcoming new start, so I figured I'd write about it and get some input, if you're willing. :) The chart in question is called Crystals and Crows, by Omar Rayyan, an artist whom I adore! HAED has already been charting his wife's work, and I thought if he ever submitted work to be charted, I would definitely pick one to stitch. So here we are!

I must confess, I'm actually surprised by my own choice. I thought I might wait for Contessa with Squid to be charted (a personal favorite) or perhaps something like The Favorite. Instead, I chose the more whimsical fantasy piece, Crystals and Crows:
I fell in love with this piece gradually. The more I looked, the more I saw, and of course, I love the color range. I'm doing the max color version of this chart, which is a bit daunting, but there was a definite difference in the mock ups, and max color was the clear winner. It has 237 colors! Even Golden Kites only have 200, so this will be a definite challenge.

My quandary is choosing which fabric count to use: 18, or 25? Ordinarily, I would stitch my usual columns on 25ct. However, a chart with this much confetti does not lend itself toward column stitching at all, as I've found with Pavonia. It's not impossible, but cross country is much easier, as I don't like having too many parked threads, and each 10x10 block can easily contain over 50 colors. (I counted one with 78 colors on Pavonia once.)

I've never done cross country on 25ct, and as I'm getting older (new glasses again this year) I thought maybe it's time to switch to 18ct. (I've decided I don't like 20ct very much anymore; it gets too bulky with a lot of confetti.) I know this project will take several years, and all that confetti can be hard to see sometimes, as I've learned with Pavonia. However, I am resisting the commitment to 18ct! It's a matter of pixelation: I want the details to be as defined as possible, but I also need to see when I'm missing a stitch. Normally I don't mind the difference between different fabric counts, but for some reason, this one is bothering me.

To help with my decision, I did a small test swatch on 25ct and 18ct fabric. I wish I had chosen something specific to test for detail, but I was more interested in testing the confetti factor. So I stitched a bit of random background leaves, and not even well defined ones at that, from the middle of the pattern in a 3 square grid, so 900 stitches. I did meander a bit, but it's mostly the same between the two:
18ct on the left; 25ct on the right
These were laid next to each other for the picture, so actual relative size is shown. So what do you think? Which would you choose? Can you even tell the difference? Again, I apologize for the fact that it looks like nothing but smoosh, but trust me, they are leaves. Believe it or not, there are 110 colors in this sample, so it was an excellent test for confetti. It really wasn't bad on either swatch, but I think the 18ct got a bit bulkier, probably because I stitched with 2 strands rather than 1, as I did on the 25ct.

For those that are interested, here are the backsides to each swatch:
As you can see, I'm not really concerned with making the back look neat. I find stitching this way gives an even coverage across the back, so it's not really lumpy at all, just a bit thicker than usual. I do use the loop start for 2 strands, and the pin stitch start for 1 strand.

Every time I think I've made up my mind, I change it again. Non-stitchy friends have claimed the colors are easier to see on the 18ct, and it looks brighter. I agree, but I don't know if the brightness is a side effect of the white fabric (didn't have ivory in my stash).

I think I may know which way I'm leaning, but I thought I'd fish for opinions from fellow stitchers before I decide for sure. :) Thanks in advance for any comments or opinions!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March WIPocalypse

Hello again!

This will be a rather iterative post as I've just posted progress for IHSW this weekend, but more pictures can't be a bad thing, I think. :)

This month, I've managed a page (and row) finish on Moon Indigo . . .
Another page finish on Euphoria (featuring part of a flower) . . .
And some progress on Cassiopeia (almost to the edge of her dress).
The decision to stitch another page on Euphoria was a bit impulsive, but I'm glad I did it. Now I finally have more than a pink blob to show as progress! :) Since February is over, I can now report that my total stitches for that month was a staggering 16,327! Half of that was on Euphoria, as those tent stitches go really quick (especially when two of those pages only had 3 colors). I forgot to mention it last post, but January was also a good stitching month (since I was lounging around in my jammies the whole time) with 13,048 stitches. So I'm already a third of the way toward my yearly stitching goal! Now let's hope I can keep it up. :)

This month's question is: Do you use hoops, stretcher bars, lap stands or Q snap frames and why?
First: yes, no, yes and yes.
Second: I use whatever tools make it easier to stitch, which varies depending on my project and my mood. When I first started Luna (and Scale, and Wisdom) I used a hoop so I could stitch in my room at my desk. For a while, I switched Scale to Q snaps, along with a floor stand to hold her. When I stitch on Favorite Bird, that is also done in my Q snap, because the fabric is too large for anything else. But my preferred method by far is stitching on scroll frames. I like having the whole project neatly rolled onto the bars, not bunched up like on my Q snaps or hoops. I also like having a whole section of my piece visible and easy to work on, so I can range across a whole row if I want without having to stop and readjust. And, because I generally work strait across, there is that special moment when you get to roll the fabric further. :)

I haven't used stretcher bars because I'm too lazy to deal with all the pins, and I don't like square pointy frames. I've never stitched in hand either, as I'm too worried I'll mess up the tension. But I would encourage everyone to try different methods, and stick with what works for you.

I'm going to stop there, as I could wax on about stitching styles for days, and that would be tedious to read, I think. Can't wait to see what everyone else is stitching! Until next time. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March IHSW

It felt so good to be hermiting again this weekend! Many thanks to our wonderful hostess at Random Ramblings for continuing this happy sal. :)

I worked on two projects this weekend, Luna and Euphoria. I don't think I got a whole lot done, but I did manage to reach a milestone on each. First, I'm doing a mini happy dance for Luna, as I've managed to complete the first row! So happy about this. Here's before and after:
It was just the last 1000 stitches or so, but it did seem to take forever. Probably because I was a little sick this week (but ok now). Sad to say, but in 8 years of stitching BAPs, this is only the second project I have with a complete row finish. Guess that shows what a serial starter I am. :)

It was hard not to continue to the next row immediately, but I was determined to finish the next page of Euphoria, which was also close to being done. Here's the (messy) before and after:
Not just solid pink anymore! That bit of white is the tip of the first flower hanging over her shoulder. Surprising just how long that flower really is; I don't think this bit is even half of it. But it does help to break up the monotony.

This next bit isn't exactly stitching related, but I think it's pretty, so I'm gonna share. As I am finally well enough to sit at my sewing machine again, I've been practicing quilting designs to finish off a quilt I'm making for a friend. I'm still debating, but I might have settled on this design:
This was my first attempt, which did get easier as I found my rhythm. (Can you tell which half I did first?) I found a tutorial for this here if you want to try it. I have never done a branching pattern before, but it's a lot of fun, and I love the results. I'm trying a larger sample now to see if I can really do this on a full size quilt. It's tricky (especially seeing where I'm going with all those branches) but I might be able to pull it off.

Well, that's all for now. Hope everyone else has had a lovely stitchy weekend. Until next time!

Saturday, March 5, 2016


I've just spent a week on Cassiopeia, so I thought I'd share my progress on her. Here's a before and after:
I am almost to the other side of her dress (never mind the gaps)! Of course I've returned to work now, all recovered from surgery last year, so I haven't nearly as much time as I'd like to work on her. Still, I managed 2,583 stitches during the week, which is a nice chunk of my 6,000 stitch goal met.

I think this one is my mother's favorite (probably because she got to keep the last Mirabilia I finished) as she calls her "the pretty one." She definitely is pretty, and I still love all those deep teals in her dress. I also tried to work on the border, though it's not as interesting. It does work up quickly though, and I'm glad to have one side of her "frame" nearly done. And of course, the border has a bit of silk thread in it (my favorite part!) so it isn't too boring. Those little black motifs offer a nice contrast as well, but the larger ones are slightly aggravating. It seems no two are exactly the same. They all have minor differences to follow the folds of her dress, so I have to be extra careful with them to make sure I'm doing it correctly.

It's a ways away yet, but I am already thinking about her skin. My Green Fairy was done as charted, but I'm debating working Cass' skin over 1. It's a lot of skin, but I think the effect would be very nice. I've found a YouTube video (in Russian, drat it) of a stitcher working her skin 2 over 1, tent stitch. (She really gets up close about the 2:00 mark, with mini comparisons at 2:28.) I would work 1 over 1 full crosses, but this gives me an idea of what I would be working toward. If anyone has any thoughts to offer, I'd be glad to hear them!

Well, that's all I have for this week. Right now I'm working on Luna, trying to get a page finish by the end of the month. I'm also working on a test swatch for an upcoming new start (more on that later) as I cannot decide which fabric to stitch on. I've never had that dilemma before, so hopefully the swatches will help, but it's still too early to tell. And did you know HAED is having another sale? (I really must stop stashing...)

Until next time. Keep those needles smokin'! :)