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  06:32:00 pm, by Airycat   , 282 words  
Categories: Chitchat

Blinded by the Light!


Well, not really, but there was the very, very bright ball of heat up in the sky on Saturday. It was there a bit on Sunday, too, but seems to have diminished since then.
I have been working on my gift project. I hope to have them done this week.
On Sunday and Monday I was helping my granddaughter's mother remove wallpaper. Yesterday I helped my son figure out his school budget. Today I took my mom shopping. I haven't gotten back to any sewing of any kind. Maybe tonight.
I have over 600 blog entries to read, too!  How do I get so behind. That's just the needlework. My personal blog over at Xanga hasn't seen me in a while.
Anyway, rather than wishing I had gotten something done, I'm going down to my sewing corner and actually get something done.

Well, not really, but there was the very, very bright ball of heat up in the sky on Saturday. It was there a bit on Sunday, too, but seems to have diminished since then.

I have been working on my gift project. I hope to have them done this week.

On Sunday and Monday I was helping my granddaughter's mother remove wallpaper. Yesterday I helped my son figure out his school budget. Today I took my mom shopping. I haven't gotten back to any sewing of any kind. Maybe tonight.

I have over 600 blog entries to read, too!  How do I get so behind. That's just the needlework. My personal blog over at Xanga hasn't seen me in a while.

Anyway, rather than wishing I had gotten something done, I'm going down to my sewing corner and actually get something done.



  02:51:00 am, by Airycat   , 720 words  
Categories: Tutorials

Braided Thread Tutorial

I was asked about how I keep my DMC floss in braids and thought I'd do this tutorial to show how I do it.

This is something I learned in a cross stitch class a long, long time ago. So long ago that I don't remember exactly when, where or who the teacher was. I prefer this to using the winding bobbins because a.) the thread is ready to use after you pull it out and b.) I think it looks pretty! &amp;#58;&amp;#68;&amp;#68;

  1. First it helps to know how long your thread is. Mine is 9 yards or 324 inches.

  2. Then you decide how long you want your threads to be. I chose 18" because it divided evenly, but it seems a bit short. Alternately you could simply decide how long you want your threads to be and see how it works into the total length. It may end up wasting less thread to have one shorter length of 6 strands. I think this is how I actually did most of mine.

  3. ('11/10/01) EDIT: Another way to measure is to hold the end of the thread between your thumb and finger and pull the thread to your elbow  (or measure from your thumb tip to your elbow).  This is about the length of thread you should use to stitich.  

  4. Measure out the lengths either along a ruler, as I did, or by wrapping it around a cardboard or other item of the right length. My threads didn't come out exactly the same length, but if I had wrapped it around something they probably would have.

  5. You need something to hold the thread. I prefer these little rings, but any sturdy, closed item would work.

  6. Put the thread through the ring halfway.

  7. Then snip all the loops at the ends.

  8. Don't forget to slide the wrapper with the color number back onto the thread! But only on one side.

  9. Divide the thread into three sections and braid.

  10. It will look like this (more or less).

  11. You can then slip the ring onto a binder ring.

    You can see here how the braids hold the color number papers in place at the top.

  12. Selecting thread to use: Use your needle to pick out a single strand of thread. With it under the thread, pull until one end (or both) are completely out of the braid. Because of the direction of the twist of the fibers, one end usually (but not always) will come out first. It's best to keep the fibers all in the same direction, so pay attention to that when you pull out more than one strand.

  13. Dont the braids look pretty hanging with my ribbons?

  14. I also will put the binder rings on another binder ring to keep them all together when I'm carrying them.
  15. (In my case, "carrying them" usually meant when I moved, but the idea is if you take them to a class or stitching group.)
    You can also take specific little rings off the binder rings (I try to keep them in numerical order) and put them on a separate binder ring for a specific project.


This is the first tutorial I have ever written. I have tried to be very clear, but if I haven't been clear enough, please let me know exactly what isn't clear and I will be more specific or do whatever I need to clarify.


My floss:
This skein of embroidery floss is very old! I went digging through some drawers to find it. You can tell by the price! (See pictures in steps 7 & 8.) Also, it's not DMC. I think it's American Thread Co.

Why we want to keep our fibers going in the same direction: If we have two threads in a needle and their fibers are going in opposite directions, it creates friction between them. This will cause one thread to become shorter as you stitch. I presume it's bunching up, however minutely, in each pass through the fabric. This can affect how the thread lies and the look of the project.

Ideally, DMC would make little rings with the numbers already on them, but since the bobbins seem to be the more popular method of keeping thread, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them. The papers do hold up pretty well at the top of the braid.


  02:21:00 am, by Airycat   , 373 words  
Categories: Needlework, Chitchat, Crafts

Gray, Gray, Gray!

Today was another gray day in Oregon. I wish summer would get here! At least I did discover that this is not just a SAD thing. It's been gray so long (with only tiny intervals of sunshine) that even people without SAD are really feeling it.

Last night (or this morning, really) I was dreaming about I-don't-know-what, but I remember seeing five or six of my fabric art hanging on a wall. I woke up then and was trying to remember the last one I saw (since I haven't even made these, yet), but Iqbal came in and told me my sister was here and I jumped up and promptly forgot the little I had been able to recall. All I have now is a vague recollection of red and of hands. This description sounds like albedoarlee's project, but it really was quite different. I just didn't have enough of a view of mine to be able to describe.

What I picture happening is me eventually sitting down with a bunch of fabric (which will have a lot of red) and working without thinking. Otherwise, I will be too left brained and, not knowing what the piece is, I will sit there not knowing what to do. Although... I find myself putting red ideas together in the back of my mind as I read through the too many needlework & fiber blogs in my reader.

It's still almost a month away, but I'm looking forward to Sharon Boggon's "GIMP for textile designers" starting July 7th. I signed up mainly to learn how to use the program (it is not intuitive for me), but I find myself wanting to know more and more about the textile designers aspect of it, too.


Cloth, Paper, Scissors has an article about making cloth from paper. I want to try that! That sounds like the ooey-gooey, messy thing I'm in the mood for. That would be great for some of the stuff I was fiddling with yesterday, too. Hmmmm...

I love both Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Quilting Arts magazines. Lots of inspirational eye candy and some practical advice, too.

It's after 2 a.m. and my brain has a gazillion ideas when it had none all day.

Oh, well...


  07:00:00 pm, by Airycat   , 901 words  
Categories: Needlework, Machine Embroidery

Playing with Machine Stitches

I'm here, but I have been working at my sewing machine today. Woohoo. There was even a little bit of sunshine. I'm actually not going to spend too much time here, I hope. I came up to do something with the embroidery program.

I didn't work on the fairy quilt. I still have something I'm making for someone else, so I can't post about it yet. With any luck, I'll have it finished so I can send it off by Monday or Tuesday next week. After it's received, I'll have some posts of it.

I also was playing with the embroiderer. I learned that if you sew on disolvable stabilizer and wash it away, the stitching won't hold. Bah. So then I tried sewing on tulle. That works pretty good, but the basic stitches are mostly too small to easily cut away the excess tulle.

About three hours later...

So I was working with the embroidery program and all was going well until I was almost finished. BAH! I forgot to save as I was going along. I do that periodically. Of course, the program had to close. ::sigh:: Fortunately it's not to hard to redo, just not now.

Instead, I'll show you what I did while playing with the machine. All of these photos are easier to see if you click on them the tall skinny ones may need to be clicked again to get full size (depending on how your browser handles large graphics).

This is a grosgrain ribbon I embroidered with the machine. Not really embroidering, but one of the fancy stitches. It's 11/16" wide. The stitching pulled the ribbon slightly out of shape. I didn't think to see if the wonkiness would iron out. That first part of the pink is supposed to be hearts, so it obviously pulled the ribbon out of line as it was sewing. It's hard for me to tell because the design pulls whatever it's sewing every which way even when it stays aligned. The latter part of the pink, and the green, are pine cones with needles.

This satin ribbon is 5/16" wide. The very first stitching is I-don't-know-what. The rest are various zig-zags and scrolly designs until it gets to the butterflies. This ribbon pulled a lot more than the bigger grosgrain. I put stabilizer under the butterflies and that helped quite a bit.

So, with these I learned that I can have fancy ribbon limited to the fancy stitches on the machine. Maybe on larger ribbons I could do some freehand stitching, but these are really too small for my ability.

This is stitching on stabilizer paper. The left and lower edge are where I pulled the paper away. That worked fine except when I wasn't careful and tore the paper above the thread instead of below. At the top left I started to pull all the paper away, but then the stitching started to lose its integrity.

This would work to sew on the edges of soft paper. Since I didn't try anything other than the stabilizer at this point, I don't know how it would work on card stock, construction or other paper. The needle makes holes that are nice tearing perforations, so it will be something to consider with what paper is used.

This is another design sewn directly on the stabilizer. I like this one a lot.

This is some of the zig-zag and pine cone designs sewn onto tulle with a disolvable stabilizer. I started to cut away the tulle around the pine cones, but the narrow zig-zag is too tiny. The pine cones are about 1/4" wide and the zig-zags about 1/8" wide. This piece also twisted when I put it on the scanner and you can see that I should have used a matching thread in the bobbin. I was just to lazy to wind some. The white threads are what I use for the regular embroidery since the tension in that is set so the top thread pulls under a bit. They are also pre-wound and hold a lot more thread than I could wind onto a bobbin.

This is tiny bows sewn directly onto the paper stabilizer. I pulled it away , but it's too tiny to get out of the bows -- which is why, if you can see really closely, they still look like bows. Some of these flipped, too, and you can see the paper.

These hearts were done on the tulle and paper stabilizer. I got most, but not all, the tulle cut away. This strip is only 1/4" wide. I did some of these on the disolvable stabilizer and no tulle. When I washed away the stabilizer they became just wads of thread connected. (I didn't get them into the scanner.) I like these a lot and I think if I use matching bobbin thread, they would come out very well.

Sewn onto the tulle with the paper stabilizer. I got about 99% of the paper out. These are 1" wide.

These are just a couple of the larger designs stitched on paper. They are a whopping 2½" and 2¾" wide.

I'm going to keep playing with these and see what else I can come up with. I am trying to create little pretties to use like lace, rickrack and such. Even though these did not come out perfectly, I may end up using them in collages... or my mom might. She liked some of them.


  01:55:00 am, by Airycat   , 918 words  
Categories: Chitchat


There are boxes that contain things and boxes that contain ideas and creativity.

These are some boxes I found at the Dollar Store to contain some of my things:

I like how these look and will be going back for more. They cost four dollars & something at Wal-Mart, although I suppose those were bigger. These larger ones are about 9" cube. They work better on my window sill than a 12" would, though.

whining, self pity and general moping ahead. If you're not up to it, head straight to the comments or move to the next blog. I will understand.

Unfortunately, right now I feel like I'm trapped in some of that other kind of boxes. There is something in me trying to break out. I don't know what it is. I just sense it, no more. Sometimes I think it is my storytelling. One box with that is traditional form. I really like traditional form, though and I don't think that's as big a problem as discipline is. I have no writing discipline. And this year, I haven't even felt any urge to write. I'm barely reading ('cept needlework and craft blogs).

So is it needlecraft? I dunno. I seriously doubt it will be embroidery. Although I'm hopeful, in the past projects have usually taken me years to complete. It certainly isn't couture. Frumpy seems to be my style and I have little to no patience with sewing clothes.

It might be fabric collage/art quilts. I'm totally enjoying working on my fairy quilt. Unfortunately, most of that work has been planning, not doing. I have what I need to get to work. What stops me?

I don't know, but I'd say it's invisible boxes. When I look at someone else's work I like, I feel a bit of envy, and a bit of "Why didn't I think of that" and on an occasion or two "Why didn't I do 'whatever' 'cause now it'll look like I'm copying." I think they are all one box. Another might be fear. I can't figure out what I might be afraid of, let alone why. Fear of failure is the only thing that comes to mind, but since my needlework, unlike my writing, is not for anyone other than myself and a few others I know will like it, that seems like a stupid thing. I don't discount the possibility, though.

Anyway, that's not my point. My point is that I feel this something inside that's trying to get out. Somehow it's tied to story and color and form (in a physical sense of form). It may have nothing to do with either writing or needlework. I like other creative things, too. Actually part of me has been craving some papier mâché, lately. I made a dragon/dinosaur once. As a teen, I made dolls with papier mâché heads and sometimes hands and feet.

I think I want to be unfettered... no schedules of others to have to work around. Sometimes it take me hours to get started and then I often have to stop and get dinner or run errands or something. It would be nice to be able to jump right in and get to work. Sometimes I can, but not often enough. And the combination SAD/ADD means that everything takes ten times as long as I think it should and often longer than anyone thinks it should.

I was going to work on the fairy quilt this week. I hope to do something. Monday and Tuesday (today) I have been really SAD. June is not supposed to be totally gray! It's so weird. I am NOT sad. SAD is, for me, just a blah lack of energy -- mental and physical. BAH! I ended up sorting sequins on Monday. A simple boring job that I was able to focus on. Today I've been reading blogs and old copies of Artful Blogging (something this blog isn't -- not today, anyway). I thought the magazine might inspire me to be more "artful," but the actual blogs are better at that.

Besides the SAD, the fact that I need to clean my workspace so that I can work is a hindrance. I need an old fashioned wife! LOL Someone to follow me around and pick up after me. My DH used to do that a little bit (on the surface, anyway), but his tolerance has grown, rather than mine shrinking. It's nice that he doesn't get uptight about the disorder, but I miss his filling in for my weaknesses.

Oh well, life goes on! I will do what I do and create what I create. We'll see what it is when it's done.

I'm not quite as depressed as this may sound. I probably should have kept this in my paper journal, that no one but me reads, but maybe someone else feels the same way. It would be nice (for you if you read this & for me if you let me know) to know we are not alone.

A few random thoughts.

Getting out and meeting people, even if it's only the cashier at the grocery, can actually improve creativity. It's the human interaction in real time. (Online is good, but not as good.)

Sometimes going through the motions, without any creative feeling, is the only way to get that creative feeling back. (I need to work on this one!)

My sister, who's lived in Oregon for over 20 years, tells me that the sun will come by July 4. I certainly hope so!


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