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Monday, July 29, 2013

Bokhara Coat Man

The last of the four Men of Skiros in this first block for my chair is wearing a long coat. I have used Bokhara stitch for the coat, to give it texture and also because it is a faster stitch for such a large space. I used Bokhara on his boots as well - seemed more sturdy for boots!

The rest of this man is in darning stitch, as the designer intended.

I got so carried away with the long runs of couching that I forgot to leave space for his belt - so stitched it over the top.

Now I have the four men finished for this centre panel of the chair, I have only four small motifs to do and I can think about stitching the panel on to the chair cover.

I am away for the next ten days holidaying on Kangaroo Island with family. The hoop is too large to take, so the rest will need to wait. I have plenty of stitching to do, but may not have Internet access to post.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Men of Skyros: Lattice Man

I am very happy so far with my Bokhara and Darning Men of Skyros, but thought I'd try a lattice on the pantaloons of the third of the men.

It was relatively easy to put in the first row of threads. I put the lines two threads apart - easier to see than the single thread of the original mending stitch. The even-weave linen helped.

Similarly, there is plenty of guidance to place the horizontal row.

Couching down the thread intersections, is however, a bit trickier. Here I have only couched down the top tips and the lower left - but developed a bit of a curve in the latter. By working two threads apart for the original rows, I gave myself a bit of a challenge in couching in small spaces.

From a distance, he looks as if he is wearing gingham, or checks. It will be quite a hard-wearing stitch, and worth the experiment, but it isn't a stitch I am going to use again on this project now I have the darning stitch under control.

I have applied the darning stitch to the rest of Lattice Man - with my magnifiers I can work a proper running stitch!

We had a couple of sunny Winter days while I was working on him. I took my hoop into the sunny extension and worked in the natural light. Jim took a photo.

Here's Lattice Man finished, and, below, the three men so far.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Men of Skyros: Bokhara Man

Although I managed to conquer the darning stitch for the Men of Skyros, using my magnifier, I continued on Bokhara Man, and am pretty happy with him.

Bokhara stitch is very pleasurable to work with. It takes care (so is not an in-front-of-TV affair) but is not a strain on my eyes and keeps me interested. It works on the big areas but also on the smaller ones, like the flower and shoes.

I set the embroidery direction so lines are vertical were he standing up straight with arms by his side, so embroidered his arms and back foot horizontally and the rest vertically.

While I have experimented with at least one other stitch, and will use the intended darning stitch as my mainstay, I am sufficiently pleased with Bokhara at the moment to think I will use it in other places in this project.

Friday, July 19, 2013

More gloves and a hat.

Brigid asked if I could make her some gloves to wear in the mornings - fingerless so she work her iPod. I was pretty happy to oblige. I like knitting gloves and I like using up wool in my stash! She chose an apricot 8 ply wool which knitted up really nicely and easily.

I used a pattern from Patons C.16 Gloves and Socks which I've had for about as long as I can remember.

I had plenty of wool, so decided to make a hat that I had been wanting to try from 101 Designer One Skein Wonders. It was also great to knit and pretty quick.

These are a hit: a great match for her favourite jumper and no hindrance in being active.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Men of Skyros: Original Darning Man

With a bit more confidence and my clip-on magnifiers I have returned to the first Skyros man I began. This time progress has been more to my liking.

With the magnifiers I can see well enough to work the darning  as a running, rather than a stabbing stitch while the work is still in the large floor-standing hoop. This makes it much easier to get a base line to work from. Rows can then simply follow the 3x1 darning pattern of the original row - much faster and more satisfactory.

The new work is denser and more even than the original.

The work isn't fast,but it is not painstakingly slow either, and, more importantly, it is enjoyable!

I have dubbed this figure 'Original Darning Man' in recognition of the darning or running stitch, and his place figure on which I began the project. I have, in fact, experimented with a couple of other stitches, and have Bokhara Man and Lattice Man on the go as well. More on them soon.

I am very grateful for the encouragement and tips from fellow stitchers and bloggers. Lyn's blog on magnifiers is helpful. I wrote about my clip-on magnifier when stitching the Toy Chest Etui and should, in hindsight, have been ready to use it when I started my Skyros men.

I bought my magnifiers in Australia from the Fox Collection.

The magnifiers make a big difference in getting a good base line to begin the running stitch. From there, with the magnifier, I can see to (1) move over by one thread and (2) move down one thread in each stitch. There is much less counting when you can clearly see the thread and stitch length you are following!

So Original Darning Man is finished and I am very satisfied. I am also pleased with some of my stitch variations and will incorporate them - but I am satisfied that I can restore running, or darning, stitch to its place as the main stitch for this project.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Men of Skyros- Stitching begins

After all the setting up, I have been working on the Skyros Men the embroidery. The piece is intended to be stitched in a darning, or running stitch, over three threads, under one, off-set on each row by one thread to produce a tweed effect. The first pair of pantaloons took me about 12-14 hours stitching.

It isn't as even as I would like, and although I have found working at the frame very relaxing and comfortable, and I understand the importance of running stitch in Skyros work, I am concerned that I will not be able to sustain counted thread work for this whole project on the 32 thread count linen. The level of accuracy it requires and the difficulty I have seeing well enough to count  over such large spaces for sustained periods, will, I fear, cause me to give up well before I finish. I need to be able to work the stitches as true running stitches, rather than stabbing stitches if I am to work such large areas.

I decided, therefore,  to experiment with changing the stitch as well as experimenting with magnification. I'm thinking I might work a series of different stitches - including chain stitch and Bokhara. I really like this piece, so I hope I can find an adaptation that will work for me.

I began my adaptation by trying Bokhara stitch on the pantaloons of the next figure. I tried to keep the couching stitches running diagonally, as the counted running stitches are intended to run.

I am much happier with this outcome in terms of result-for-time-taken to produce it. This I can manage, so now will look for other stitch variations - maybe try a different stitch for each man? I am also going to try using the magnifiers that clip to my glasses.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Felted Bag

I bought some Murano wool recently from Bendigo Woollen Mills, with the intention of trying out a bag pattern from the book, Felted Bags by Alice Underwood and Sue Parker .

The bag I wanted to try was the one on the cover, but I was keen to try knitting the handles, rather than using bamboo handles.

Murano is suitable for felting, and I was attracted to the variegation. I used CK27.

I hadn't expected it to be so even in its striping - but it did prove useful in measuring the length!

I knitted it on circular needles - very easy, but it developed a decided skew to the right as I knitted - maybe influenced by Australian politics at the time of knitting.

I used directions for knitting handles on another bag in the same book but had some difficulty positioning them even though I had four markers in place level with the four corners of the base.


I began felting by hand - our hot water service doesn't heat above 50C - but soon decided to try the washing machine and add a couple of jugs of boiling water. This worked quite well. One cycle in the machine reduced the size by one third - and produced a fair bit of dark blue water!

It took a couple of days to dry fully in our current winter weather. I finished it off on the second day over a garden broom - perfect fit for the base, which was the last bit to dry, and easy to move with the sun.

Although I was able to correct some of the skew that developed as I knitted, it isn't entirely gone, resulting in the handles being not properly aligned. I could cut these and reattach with a button finish.

It has been an interesting experiment, and the bag will be useful for shopping so for the moment I will live with it as is.

I have a couple more balls of Murano to try smaller bags, so will try to apply what I've learnt on this one.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Men of Skyros Preparation

I really, really loved Alison Snepp's Men of Skiros  director's chair in  Inspirations 78  and thought for  a while I would make one for my craft room. In the end I decided it wasn't the right chair for the room, so hatched an even more ambitious plan.

After a lot of thought, discussion and hesitation, I bought a chair at Ikea. The idea is for the men to be stitched around the inside back of the chair.
I bought the chair without a cover, thinking I would make panels to stitch over the chair itself. After measuring and cutting 3 toile panels in calico to try out inside the chair, I decided it would be better to buy a cream cover for the chair and stitch the panels to the cover. That way the panels can be laundered without unstitching, and I can also machine stitch the panels to the cover as opposed to handstitching them to the chair itself.

Once I had the bought the cover, it was also a lot easier to cut the calico toile panels more accurately - I could mark the curve rather than relying on a series of measurements around the chair.

I basted the calico toile panels together and tried them for size. Then I undid the the basting and used these as a pattern to cut the linen panels, allowing about an inch all around for seams.

My method of tracing the pattern is to photocopy the figures, then go over the outlines with felt pen and trace from these outlines using a light box. Black felt pen gives a nice dark line to trace from. I used brown archive pen on the linen.

I only traced on to the middle panel so far. I had to wait for the thread pack and didn't want to get too far ahead of stitching in case something doesn't work.
I then basted the centre linen panel to calico strips, and mounted it in the oval floor frame that I bought in Berima in about 1977. I used it when I bought it, to stitch, as I remember, tablecloths, but I have not used it in years. It is a great frame, and having a craft room now makes it much more practical to set it up and leave it in place for a large project.

It is also fitting to use it sitting in the chair for which I am working the cover!
Now for some stitching!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

In Good Time: Construction

I did like the red surround on the magazine version of In Good Time,  but I wanted a smaller cushion, reminiscent of a crewel cushion I worked on linen in 1972 - now in need of significant repair.  I considered backing the cushion in red, or dark green or blue, but in the end went for cream, using a remnant of blanketing that I had.

I purchased some red piping and created a brick-like cushion.

This made up part of a birthday present for Jim.  If it proves to be too brick-like I will reduce the depth.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Crewel work cushion

There were two projects in Inspirations 78  that I really liked and wanted to make: Alison Snepp's Men of Skyros and Di Kerschner's In Good Time. I ordered the kits for both and had to wait a few weeks for the threads to come in.  I began In Good Time early in June.

Somewhat reluctantly, I followed the instructions and used water-soluble stabiliser to trace the design, since it is stitched on wool flannel. It fitted well into the 12 inch hoop of my sit-on frame.

The problem with the stabiliser is that it splits as I stitch it - especially, I find, along long straight lines such as the stems. That means I lose the exactness of the surrounding design. To minimise this effect I decided to outline design rather than following the suggested sequence.

Once the design was outlined, I could remove the stabiliser and stitch from the instructions - much more satisfying.

An eagle-eyed observer will notice that I have traced the design in reverse. While I'd like to claim this as a deliberate decision, I did it unconsciously by reversing the stabiliser when I placed it on the fabric. I discovered it after I had basted the layers together - around the edges, the diagonals and the half-diagonals. At that point a reversed image looked great!

There are some really lovely elements to this project - great colours, easy to see where you are going and a logic to it that gives you freedom as a stitcher.

I am going to construct it a bit differently to the original as I want a small cushion, rather than the large one suggested. More on that soon.