Friday, July 25, 2014

Feline Friday: Tabbies Galore

A300907 A300905

I have noticed a weekly trend in the cats I photograph - some weeks I find tons of orange cats, last week, I saw tons of black and white cats, and this week it was tabbies. Those two above are siblings, and their expressions are so unique and individual.


Maybe I'm a cat freak, but I do feel that each cat has its own personality and expression - I love how this little one looks like she's wearing eyeshadow...


This beauty's vivid green eyes...


This girl's calm, friendly demeanor...


And this extra-special ticked tabby - definitely something I don't see often, and gorgeous.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Knit Stitch a Week: Fancy Trellis stitch

Fancy Trellis stitch

Teaching myself one new knit stitch a week, from the Complete Guide to Needlework book, c. 1979. I cast on 14 stitches on size 9 needles in a pink yarn from my stash (left) and Vanna's Choice in Toffee (right).

Row 1: *K2, K2 tog, yo, K3*
Row 2: *P1, P2 tog tbl, yo, P1, yo, P2 tog, P1*
Row 3: *K2 tog, yo, K3, yo, sl 1, K1, psso*
Row 4 and 8: purl
Row 5: *yo, sl 1, K1, psso, K5*
Row 6: *yo P2 tog, P2, P2 tog tbl, yo, P1*
Row 7: *K2, yo, sl 1, K1, psso, K2 tog, yo, K1*

It's a pretty nice stitch - and I was surprised I kept up with all the directions! I like the way it stitched up best in that brown acrylic. I bet it would be really nice on a sweater.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Roumanian stitch leaves

I'm still working steadily on my floral pillow - most of what's left now is filling in leaves...

all finished leaves from afar

I wanted to experiment with different leaf stitches, so I found a stitch diagram on Pinterest, and tried it out:

Apparently, this is the Roumanian stitch - using this diagram as a guide, I got to stitching with some dark green pearl cotton:

finished leaf!

The pearl cotton gave it a nubbly texture, but I really liked it - it's almost like fish scales. It's a lot faster to work than satin stitch or the raised herringbone stitch I learned last week, and it eats up a lot less thread.

Here's how I stitched it, step by step:

I tried the same stitch using 2 strands of crewel wool on that bottom left-most leaf:

finished leaf!

I love how the crewel wool sort of floats and expands above the fabric - it's a totally different effect!

Here's how I stitched it with the wool:

What do you all think? I'm having a ton of fun finishing up this project - I'm amazed to say I am almost done now! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Knit Stitch a Week: Seafoam Stitch

Seafoam stitch

So, I took a brief break from the Complete Guide to Needlework because I saw the Seafoam stitch and fell in love. I love those wonderful Eye of Horus-like textures it creates when you go back and forth between Garter stitch and multiple yarnovers.

Up above, I cast on 21 stitches on size 6 needles and used this pattern - the blue is a bulky yarn in my stash and the other yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Thyme. I like these two yarns best for this stitch - I think it's better to have a tighter structure.

Here I experimented with lighter yarns on size 6 needles - it looks ok, but you don't get as clear a picture of the wavy shapes:

Seafoam stitch

I like the color, and the airiness of them, but I prefer the look of the bulkier yarns on this stitch.

Seafoam stitch

Here's the back of the stitch - it sort of hangs out all over the place.

What do you guys think? Have you ever tried this stitch? It's super easy and fun to work!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Crewel Obsession

stitching more leaves

I am having so much fun with this project now! Here I am working some leaves, this time in a DMC pearl cotton - I love the raised texture this stitch gives the leaves. I used this tutorial on Pinterest to form this stitch -  I never execute it perfectly, the leaves always tend to lean to one side or another, but I think that gives it an organic look.

learning the Van Dyke stitch

Here I've worked the leaves using 2 strands of crewel wool and the Van Dyke stitch. I was stitching along with Kristin's Craftsy class for this stitch, which is really helpful. I'd tried this stitch before, but only in a straight line, never in a leaf shape. I love the way the crewel wool can stretch into such a fine, defined line, and the way this stitch puffs above the fabric like little green caterpillars. :)

By the way, here is the pattern I am working from for the pillow - it's much more balanced and dense in its original version, but I enlarged it and kind of winged it here and there:
gorgeous flowers

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Crewel is magic!

Adding some crewel threads

Stitching with wool for the first time last week was a total eye-opener for me. Crewel wool is perfect for larger works - it moves differently, sits differently on the fabric, it has an extra springiness and a visible texture. It makes a much stronger, bolder line, and is so nice to work with. I can't believe I'd never used crewel wool before, and it has already added so much to my stitching.

I had a pillow project I'd stashed away - I loved the pattern, and all the bright colors I'd chosen for it. I'd already done some really dense stitching that I'd totally enjoyed, but then my enthusiasm just burned out. I looked at the large expanse of remaining shapes and practically groaned. I imagined myself separating out 2 strands of floss for each line, and painstakingly stitching away, forever.

crewel wool + embroidery thread

But again, crewel wool and traditional filling stitches were designed to fill up large spaces quickly - and I'm loving that long and short stitch with a thick, plush white wool.

I used a buttonhole stitch to trace the edges of that teal paisley shape, and again I said, "well, duh" - it hugged each curve so perfectly when stitched with crewel wool - no more dividing lots of strands, and fussing as they get caught and tangled up with each other - even when I double up the crewel wool, it pulls through linen like a dream.

Many needles

I keep a lot of needles on hand as I stitch with the different weight fibers - large dull-tipped darning needles with big eyes for thick yarn (left), a long yarn darner with a sharp point for more detailed stitches (center), and a regular sharp crewel needle for the crewel wool (right).

In short, I am in love with crewel - I'm glad I added so much dense texture in the embroidery floss at first, and I'll build on that with all the matte, textured shapes I'll stitch in wool. Yay for crewel wool!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Feline Friday: Kitten Season


This little cutie made it to the Flickr Explore page a couple weeks ago.


I photographed this little sweetie last week. This has been quite a busy kitten season - I find myself snapping up to 20-25 kittens each time I visit! And that's just a handful of the cats and kittens there.

Sometimes I adjust levels, etc. on photos, but on these two I did nothing at all.

For even more cat and kitten pics from ACS, check my Tumblr! Happy 4th, by the way!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tag, I'm It

stitch close up

So, the lovely Keeley from Stitch and Color tagged me for a Blog Hop that's been making the rounds. If you're reading this, you're tagged! But don't worry, a piano won't fall on you if you don't play along. :)

What are you working on?
My latest project was reviewing the Stitch it with Wool class on Feeling Stitchy last week, and it was really fun. Up above you see one of the stitches I learned - the Spiderweb stitch (although I've heard it called by a few other names). If you hurry over, you can take advantage of a 50% discount code through Saturday!

Aside from that, I am knitting a huge log cabin blanket, working on a Jane Austen cross-stitch sampler, stitching a crewel embroidery pillow, and knitting a baby hat. Yeah, all that. :)

How does you work differ from others of its genre?
I guess that would be something an onlooker could better answer - but as for me - I have a mild obsession with cataloging - the tendency was in me, from childhood. I tend to photograph the steps of my work very methodically, and I really enjoy taking others through my process. Actually, I like process shots even more than my finished work, I think. I'm both a neatnik and unrestrained and messy in my crafting - you can see both tendencies, equally.

Crewel wool

Why do you create what you do?
I feel compelled to create things. I love the feeling I get when I'm lost in a project, be it drawing, or painting, embroidery, knitting, etc. It's so meditative and calming and inspiring, all at once.

Lately, I do most of my creating for posts on Feeling Stitchy, but I sneak a few of my own projects in as well. The nice thing about writing as a volunteer is being able to pick and choose whatever I want to write about!

drawing circles

How does your creative process work?
Oh, I'm all over the place, usually - take my review project, for example. While I watched the lessons I spent a long time staring at the crewel wools I'd purchased, picked out my faves, then lined them up with a few yarns from my stash. I knew I didn't have enough time to try every stitch for the review (I wanted to!) so I focused on just one stitch.

I was inspired by a chain stitch circles pillow Kristin shows off in her class, and wanted to do something along those lines in a small hoop. I traced a few circular shapes with a disappearing ink pen, and got to stitching.

fluffy texture close up
I usually work like that - doing some online research on Flickr, Pinterest, and Google for inspiration, then I just let myself spring off in my own direction...

Spiderweb stitches

Again, if you're reading this - Tag, you're it! :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New Knit Stitch a Week: Diagonal lace stripe

Diagonal lace stripe

Teaching myself one new knit stitch a week, from the Complete Guide to Needlework book, c. 1979.

First, my mess up version - I cast on 23 stitches, this time on much smaller needles - size 6, using a pink yarn from my stash and Wool of the Andes in Oyster Heather.

This was a complicated one, and I messed it up. I think I didn't execute the yarnovers and PSSO's like I was supposed to - they look wonky, although they're consistently wonky. Depending on my desire for prefection, I might try this again... Re-worked below!

I studied the Knitting Bee pattern to figure out how I messed up. This pattern is complex, and I must say, rather annoying to master! :)

I wasn't working the p2 tog tbl correctly, and I was also moving my yarn to the wrong side before my sl 1, k1, psso - once I got that right, I got it.

Diagonal lace stripe

BUT, there is something about this sequence of steps I just couldn't keep track of - you can see a small hole at the top left where I messed up and I literally spent hours trying to get the second swatch right, to no avail. I practically threw my swatch at the wall. :)

Lesson learned, I'll continue to focus on simple patterns, that I can work consistently without doing violence to my yarn. ;)