Search This Blog

Monday, July 26, 2010

Square 13

After doing whitework and blackwork squares, redwork seemed to be the logical next step:
Traditionally, redwork is the embroidery of line-drawings using red thread and the stem stitch; it often appears on household linens and quilts with red patchwork. For this square I did some free-hand cherries, which are the quintessential red fruit (and in season). I used the split stitch for the cherries themselves because I have always had difficulties with stem-stitching tight curves.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Stitching

Between the heat waves, changes in Beadboy1's schedule, and house guests, I haven't spent much time in my craft room or working on any of the projects I should be finishing. Instead, I've been doing some small cross stitch projects.

The first is an unusual take on Halloween, done in ecrus and browns which give it an elegant look. The design:
My stitching so far:
The other project is a Christmas ornament, from the Just Cross Stitch Ornament Preview. The sooner in the year I start these ornaments, the more likely one of them will actually be done by Christmas. The design (Cool Christmas by Lynda Watkins and Angie Williams of Fresh Threads Studio):
So far:
I also found time to do a little blackwork stitching for the twelfth square of my 36 Squares. Blackwork uses the back stitch and a Holbein stitch (like a double running stitch) to create repeating geometric designs, which are great for filling in areas. Different patterns create darker or lighter looks, to imitate shading. For this square I used a tile flower pattern:
It took about three tries before I got the spacing right, though.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen

A new procedural debuted on TV this week, based on a series by Tess Gerritsen centered around a police detective and a medical examiner. So of course, I decided to check out the books. My library had only a couple, from the middle of the series, but I threw caution into the wind and got The Keepsake anyway (an unusual thing for me, given how determined I am to read series in the order they were written).

I started the book at 10 p.m. one night, which was a mistake. At 11:30, 12, 12:30 I kept telling myself "just one more chapter." I finally gave up trying to stop myself and just accepted was I was going to read the book until I finished it; at 2 I was done. The combination of an exciting mystery, serviceable prose, lots and lots of well-written, varied female characters, archeology, and a lack of exploitative violence made for a very quick, very enjoyable read. I'm heading back to get whatever other volumes by Gerritsen I can.

As I expected, there was no problem picking up the series in the middle -- there was no over-arching storyline to worry about, and recurring characters got a sentence or two of exposition. There are still a few things I'm curious about, such as the Mephisto Club -- what the hell are they, a secret society? Illuminati wannabes? Lone Gunmen with better looks and more money? And then there's the fact that one of the characters apparently is having an affair with a priest. They're adults and it's consensual so . . . yay? Ah well, the rest of the book more than made up for this.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Footprints in the Sand . . .

"Footprints in the Sand" is a famous generically Christian poem that is not really to my taste. As a twelve-year-old, the first time I heard it, I thought it was so profound and moving; now, as a true gen-Xer, I read it and think "It's not edgy -- where's the irony, the meta references?" It doesn't help that the poem has been the subject of controversy, with lots of people claiming to have written it and seeking to cash in on its popularity. Then there is the bad artwork; for a true, uh, marriage of style and subject, check out the rendition by "painter of light" Thomas Kinkade (no, not that painter of light).

It was bad Christian art that inspired my embroidery in the first place. Fr. Beadbrother, O.S.B., sent me a link to the Crescat's post about a rather inexplicable painting of Jesus wearing a zippered hoodie robe and walking in the mountains with a bear. Lots of people in the comments thread had funny little captions for it, but it was Tim's -- "When you only saw one set of footprints in the sand, that's when I let the bear eat you" -- that had me laughing all day. I just had to immortalize it in embroidery (fitting, given one can buy cross stitch kits of the poem).

The fabric is linen, cut from an old skirt whose waistband is too stretched-out to wear anymore. I printed out the saying in Apple Chancery typeface, 36 point, and used a lightbox to trace it onto the fabric. I stitched it in stem stitch using Caron Collection's Waterlilies silk thread in Midnight. To continue the beach theme (and partly inspired by Love Stitching Red's Rockpool Hearts), I pulled bits of shells and sea glass from a jar holding the results of years of beach-combing, and sewed them on along with scraps of sheer voile (from the trim of the skirt), unrolled silk rods, crocheted lace, and sheer gray polyester-y fabric. I embellished the results with feather stitches, french knots, and bullion stitches (a sign of my commitment to my vision, because I hate making bullion knots) in more Waterlilies thread (Midnight, Mardi Gras, and Williamsburg) and white perle cotton.

I'm quite pleased with the results; I'd prefer an oval hoop to display it, but I haven't found one in the right size. The fun part is showing this to people, who see the first few words and think they know what this is about, only to do a double-take when they look closer.