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Monday, March 31, 2014

Chain Stitch Sampler

From left to right:

Rosette chain stitch
Spiny chain stitch
Twisted chain stitch
Feathered chain stitch
Rope stitch
Backstitched chain stitch
Ladder stitch
Zigzag chain stitch
Broad chain stitch
Shell chain stitch
Chain stitch
Snail trail stitch
Heart chain stitch
Heavy chain stitch
Cable stitch
Wheat ear stitch
Petal stitch
 Linked chain stitch
Crested chain stitch
Chained cross stitch
Linked double chain stitch

I was initially worried I wouldn't have enough to fill up the hoop, but clearly I was wrong; there are lots of other variants I didn't get to try.

I plan to finish it with a nice wooden hoop.

The Complete Book of Embroidery (Reader's Digest),by Melinda Cross
Complete Guide to Needlework (Reader's Digest),ed. by Virginia Colton
Judith Baker Montano's Embroidery & Crazy Quilt Stitch Tool

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Maggie Rabbit

I made Posie Gets Cozy's Maggie Rabbit:
She was lots of fun to make, and goes nicely with my Lenten quilt and pussy willows.

Making Maggie required a little knitting, for her capelet.  I do know how to knit, a little, having learned from a baby sitter when I was a child (she made knitted clothes for all the local girls' cabbage patch dolls), but I've avoided it because I have too many hobbies as it is.  A bit of poking around in knitting tutorials to remind myself how to cast on and off was all it took to make the capelet; I learned how to undo stitches and rip out rows, too, because of all the mistakes I made. And in the process, I learned that although I am left-handed I knit right-handedly, but I use my left to wrap the yarn around the needle.  Apparently that might be the continental knitting style, rather than English?  Given that I use a fork and knife also in the continental style, it amuses me to realize I am a right-handed European, rather than a left-handed American.

I had leftover yarn, and having been bitten by the knitting bug, I searched the interwebs for a tiny floral project.  I found this pattern for a knitted rose, and made it:
I'm having a hard time keeping myself from knitting more.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Nightis the second volume of Harkness's trilogy, and I enjoyed it just as much.  It got off to a slow start, as the first 200 pages are spent on Diana and Matthew acclimating to Elizabethan life.  Harkness goes into quite a bit of detail describing dress, culture, household and village functions, and all the famous people (of course) Matthew knew/knows.  But once the couple gets married for the third time (yes, really), and remembers why they went to 1590 in the first place, the novel picks up quite a bit.  We get a few more clues about the mystery of the alchemical book at the heart of the story, and hints at the true relationship among the different species.  Diana finally comes to terms with her magical heritage and begins to learn how to control it; it was gratifying to see her regain some agency, even managing to rescue herself from the obligatory peril. 

I'm greatly looking forward to the third volume, which is not yet out. Curses!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Embellished Circle Sampler III

 This was inspired by Katherine Shaughnessy's Circle Sampler in her The New Crewel: Exquisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery.I used quarters and nickels for the templates, and a different embroidery stitch for each circle, and then interspersed sequins for good measure.

The stitches:

Outer circle, starting at the top and going clockwise: spider web, stem stitch, knotted cross stitch, split stitch, french knot stalks, satin stitch, overcast stitch, square filling stitch, straight stitch, blanket stitch, french knots, chain stitch. 

Inner circle, starting at the top and going clockwise: rhodes stitch, laced backstitch, seed stitch, coral stitch, fern stitch, reversed buttonhole bar

Center: eyelet hole stitch.

I will back this with silk, as I did the other two samplers.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chain of Hearts

When I made the crazy patch for my heart sampler, I tried to use as many heart-related stitches as I could, including an experiment with chain stitch:

I liked the way it came out, so I decided to do it again in a more rigorous manner, complete with step-by-step instructions.

Make a row of very loose chain stitch, going from the bottom up:

Once you get to the top, go back down working tacking stitches to shape the hearts -- one on each side, a little above the insertion points in the fabric:
With all but the top heart, the two tacking stitches cause the top of the loop to stretch flat across.  Add a third tacking stitch in the middle, coming up at the insertion point and back down one thread above (or in the same hole, if you wish):

Continue all the way down to make a chain of hearts!
(You can see how I got better as I practiced -- those bottom hearts are a little blobby.)

While searching Pintangle's Take a Stitch Tuesday archives for another project, I came across a chain stitch variant called shell chain stitch.  That pretty stitch plus the hearts inspired me to start a chain stitch sampler:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I generally stay far, far away from paranormal romances.  I have never understood the romantic appeal of vampires and werewolves, I don't like the woobification of monsters to make them more palatable to modern American sensibilities, and I especially don't like the "weak, pathetic humans!" tone most of these novels end up taking.

And yet I kept reading good things about Harkness's A Discovery of Witches,so I bit.  And I'm glad I did -- this book was smart and fun.  The world-building was fascinating, the mystery at the core of the plot involves alchemy, history, and genetics (Harkness knows her stuff), and the hero and heroine were refreshingly honest with each other (impressive, given all the secrets everyone is keeping).  Harkness even managed to avoid Mary Sue territory, despite the fact that her heroine has dead parents, incredible professional success, unusual hair and eye color, and super-unusual and -powerful magic.

The novel isn't perfect -- I'd have preferred a little more ancient mystery and a little less romance, and I don't know why male vampires must be The Boss of Everything -- but I've already picked up the second volume of the trilogy (natch) from the library.