A New Apartment

Well I hope you haven't given up on me. It's been a rough few weeks and I have put off coming here.
First off, we didn't get the apartment we applied for, there was a previous applicant and they got it. We had to make another trip down to Mulhouse and do more apartment searching. This time though we were successful and we found a place that both of us love...

Bright and open, the view is breathtaking AND it has a wonderful kitchen fully equipped and full of cabinets!

I won't know how to act with all this storage space. I have a nice room for my studio with a bathroom right off of it for my dyeing. It is so much easier when a sink is handy! Plus it has a nice walk in closet for storing all my stash. Now to just finish packing and get myself there.
I have my studio completely packed and stopped dyeing last week. I am slowly but surely making my way through the rest of the house, tossing stuff as I go. I feel like I have been packing forever but it's ok because this time I am doing it right and making sure everything is sorted. It's amazing how much you can accumulate in a short period of time.
I go back to the eye doctor Wednesday for a checkup. I have had severe headaches since the surgery and I am hoping she tells me everything is fine. Unfortunately my spot is back in the other eye so I have left off with my embroidery until she has a look at it. Last time I got the spot I was put on a rest for quite awhile. It doesn't seem quite as bad this time so I hope we can catch it early and reverse the process. For now I am afraid I wont have any embroidery or dyeing updates to show you so I doubt I will post again till after the move. I have been messing around with a little needle felting

It's something I can do that doesn't require a lot of strain to my eyes and it's easy to pick up for a few minutes. I am also thinking about doing a bit of velvet ribbon weaving. Even when I cant do what I want, I just can't NOT do something.
Hope you all are well and enjoying this fall weather!

Blackwork Fill and Eye Surgery

First off I just want to say that yesterday my eye surgery went without a hitch. I am already feeling much better and even the light sensitivity is almost gone. I am so glad to have that chapter finished and behind me! I get the jeebies just thinking about someone touching my eye so you can imagine how difficult it was for me.
Last weekend we did manage to make it to Mulhouse and not only did we look at an apartment, we looked at four! We ruled out all but one for various reasons and applied for the other. Unfortunately there are other applicants so we have to sit back and cross our fingers, hoping we get it. I know I don't want a repeat of last weekend searching when it comes to my hip. No matter how much I think I am healed up any kind of strenuous activity and I am right back down again. One thing I have noticed though is I seem to heal back up quicker now so I guess it is all just a process. I know I will never again take for granted the ability to walk. It is a precious thing indeed!

So I wanted to post a few pics of my progress on the coif. I have started filling in the area that I outlined and I am loving it. I get reminded over and over how much I love the blackwork effect. Hubby has decided that he likes it too! I am loving this thread a lot more than the other too. I am so glad I decided to dye this batch. It is much smoother and stronger than the commercially dyed thread I bought, and really isn't hand dyed better...even when it's black?

Blackwork Coif

Hello Everyone! I have been a bit under the weather but am feeling better now. I wanted to make a quick post to show you the beginning of my blackwork coif. I traced part of the design onto a piece of linen and started the outline of the design. I am using a fairly heavy silk thread and using the split stitch with this. The thread is so heavy it actually resembles a chain stitch which is fine by me. That is a common stitch from that time. I wanted to use the heavier thread for the outline to create a nice contrast with the blackwork fill in that I plan on doing later. All in all I am quite satisfied with how this is coming along so far. I feel so unsure of everything I am doing with this. I want it to be as authentic to period as possible but with never having the opportunity to study any pieces up close myself I find myself questioning everything I do from the fabric to the weight of the threads to the stitches. Hopefully some day I will have the opportunity to see some pieces myself up close and personal.
This weekend we are going down to Mulhouse to look at an apartment, or possibly more than one if we get calls back on any others. If not then we will spend the rest of the day exploring the city. I am getting excited about the move. I am slowly packing to make it easier on me. The studio is a room of boxes and now the packing is moving out into the other rooms. This week I took the trellis down and trimmed back all my vines. They will be going with me to my new home where they can grown with abandon hopefully! I will try to keep updating this blog as i go along but things are a bit crazy around here so it probably wont be often. In the meantime I hope you have a wonderful creative time at whatever you are doing :)

Project Updates

Thought I should do a catch up post since it's been awhile since I have updated the blog. I have managed to pack away most of the studio, after going through all of the material and tossing several garbage bags full of stuff. It was a good feeling knowing I will be moving with a lighter load. I still have the other five rooms to go through but they aren't quite the challenge my studio was. It is now a room full of boxes with one corner still reserved for any dyeing I have to do. I will pack that at the very end.

In the meantime I have found time to do a bit of stitching and planning although the jacobean bunny project ground to a halt. With the sewing machine not being set up anymore I will probably not work on it until we are moved. I did change my mind on the material I want to use with it. My wild sense of color took over with the embroidery and the piece I had intended to use just didn't seem suitable anymore. I chose this piece instead. It looks like I made it for it I think!

I finished up the blackwork cuffs and collar and think they turned out very well even though I didn't like that silk thread. I have since dyed some new thread to use with my new project. I hope the new doesn't want to snag like the other. I had to use shorter piece and change frequently to keep this piece looking good.

I worked for several evenings on this flower study, sketching pieces from the painting that I mentioned previously. I wanted to get the feel of the style. I found it very fantastical and that pleased me much. It was much looser and more free form than I expected and so I started my new piece with excitement.

My new design is very much based on period motifs. Although the placement and overall design is mine I made sure every form and shape is used in this period as well as the overall feel is in keeping with this period. I just didn't want to copy some piece from a museum or from a painting. After all I am sure people from that period didn't want the same thing as their neighbor either. They all wanted something new and different. I wanted to keep with the feel and look yet make it different enough that it could be considered an original piece.
Now I just need to get started on it. I have dyed two different weights of silk for it. I plan on doing the stems and outline of the flowers in the heavier silk and then do fill in black work patterns with the lighter thread. I don't want to venture into gold work or spangles yet. I want to get the techniques down with these two and then I will investigate what I need to do more elaborate work. My next piece after this will probably involve gradient colors which were often used in the 16th century also.
So that's what I have been up too besides looking at apartments non-stop. It looks like we should be able to find a decent place without too much effort. The prices seem reasonable there and lots of nice big places. Now just to hope I can find a place with a bathtub, a dishwasher connection AND nice big balcony or garden. *fingers crossed*

Blackwork Cuffs and Collar

Hello Everyone! The embroidery on Jacobean Bunny is finished. I haven't taken a photo yet but will soon. I am thinking about doing a tutorial and drafting out the pattern for anyone interested IF it comes out ok. My first stuffed animal so not sure what the results will be. I am quite happy with the embroidery part though.
In the meantime I have started on my blackwork. I just couldn't wait. Since the studio is a mess with packing I had an excuse. I cant even get to my sewing machine right now! I haven't done black work in years so I decided to start with a practice piece, but one that could be useful anyway. I picked out a set of cuffs and collar from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion View 12 the 1580-1600 Men's Shirt. I realize that the entire piece is embroidered but to start out I thought I would stick with something small and simple. I chose a few geometric fill patterns and combined them to make a band pattern. I think they go well together and I am already zipping along with it.

I laid out the two cuffs on one piece of linen with plenty of seam allowance around them. The linen I am using is not perfectly even count. I prefer this and my reasoning is this. I highly doubt that weaving methods in the 16th century were exact enough to produce perfect even weave linen. this linen is barely off but just enough that I feel good about it, if that makes sense. I can't remember the exact thread count but I believe it is 52x54 per inch. I did my stitches over four threads. this seemed to be a nice choice making the motifs small but not TOO delicate. I already have ideas bouncing around for designing a coif based on the blackwork in this painting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_I_Jesus_College_Oxford_1590.jpg I just love the free flowing flowery vines and the blackwork fill is just exquisite!

Back Side

WIP Update

Jacobean Bunny is coming along well, in fact I am on the edge of finishing it! It has been a crazy last few weeks and my mind has been elsewhere but each night I try to spend some time stitching on this piece.

I love how it has come alive and I can't wait to put the piece together and make my bunny.

After this is done I will turn my attention to the Blackwork stitching. I have everything ready except my decision on where to start *grin*
I will have to squeeze my stitching in though, as I will be packing once again. Yes, we are off to a new home, this time I get to take my time though!


I See Rainbows!


Bunny Update

I have been lost in blackwork research. Reading pages and pages on period pieces and looking at examples till I feel like I am going blind. Put a few questions out there on forums but answers are slow in coming. I hope to start on a piece soon. Just getting my ducks in a row so to speak

I am not allowing myself to do anything though, not until the Jacobean Bunny is done. Fortunately he is coming along great and I hope to have the embroidery done soon. I am really enjoying this method of embroidery. I have learned several new stitches and that's always fun. If I keep going at this pace I will have a bunny before you know it~



Yesterday I dyed the biggest piece of fabric I have ever dyed with this method. I couldn't do big work before because I didn't have adequate containers. Now I have some nice big dye vats so I managed to do this 4.5 yard piece. I still had room enough to fit another yard in if I wanted too! I am quite happy about this. I can see so many more possibilities now.

HandMadeNews Feature!

First off I want to say that I am so proud to be the featured artist on HandMadeNews and ask you all to check out the wonderful article that Jennifer Mercer wrote about me. What a sweetheart!

Secondly, I just wanted to show you a few progress photos on the Jacobean Bunny. I have been lost in learning copywriting and keywords and lots of not so fun stuff but still made a little time to stitch!


More Jacobean

Hello Everyone, I hope you all had an enjoyable week. I have still been busy with ribbons. I finally have them all wrapped and under control, that was a chore! I have also been working some more on my Jacobean Bunny Project. I still haven't received my crewelwork book in the mail but I don't think it's going to have to many things in it that I don't already know. I have done as much research as I can online and have learned quite a bit.

I am doing this work in cotton embroidery floss instead of wool because I like the sheen of the thread and feel it ends something to the piece. I am still cursing the velvet though. The even stitching is quite difficult and believe it or not, the green part of this flower was eyeballed. There is no way I could mark the fabric for these thinner stitches so I just have to do my best. The linen would definitely be a better choice as I would have the threads as a guide This flower is not quite done but I like how it's coming along. I probably should have stuck with the purple and green only a but it is begging for a little more variety in the colors. I hope in the end it all comes together ok!
Wishing you all a wonderful creative weekend!


Photo Overload

I have been a busy bee finishing up these last 8 colorways. I ironed, wrapped and photographed tons of ribbons and fabric the last several days. I have uploaded all of the photos onto my flickr photostream except the last few I needed to reshoot. I will be slowly adding these to Etsy and Artfire as I can. I have a lot of specialty threads I will be including, among them slinky rayon chainette and raggedy silk satin bias. Also a bit of cotton lace. I will be glad when this is all done though and I can get back to my stitching. For some reason I am not in the mood to play with my dyes right now. I am much stronger though and full of energy. I almost feel like myself again. The hip still has not healed but I believe in time it will also recover. I have lost almost 25 pounds and if that doesn't help the healing I don't know what will!

Here is a quick shot of the Jacobean Bunny Project. It is slow going but fun. I am not so sure I will ever pick velvet to do this type of work on again. It is hard to do counted and precise work on such a fabric. I want to play on the linen!

A possible side trip

A friend recently commented, after viewing the drawing for my jacobean bunny piece that I should consider making pieces for RSA renaissance members. I absolutely adore blackwork and although I havent done any Jacobean work before I love every sort I have ever tried, and will probably pick up my needle tonight to try this one for the first time!
It is a very enticing idea and I am strongly considering doing just that. I realize that all of my work in the past has been on the more colorful and fantastical side but there is also a love of tiny precise stitches inside of me, I can see myself happily stitching away for hours working on such a piece.
For those of you who dont know me, I was actually a cross stitcher for many years, working on many large involved pieces. I even brought several of them with me to France to finish as seen above. I always wanted to make things that were used though, it's one of the reasons that many of the items I have made in the last year are bags, belts, brooches and scarves. There is only so much wall space in anyone's home but clothing accessories are worn as the fancy strikes. I also like designing my own items. Although I loved to paint the canvas with my stitches they were someone else's creation. I think that working on some period pieces would satisfy my love of tiny precise stitching and also my want of making things that are useful. After some study of the period patterns I even hope to design some of my own that are true to that era.


And color has bloomed once again in my studio...

Jacobean Bunny

I have to admit, I've never done Jacobean Embroidery before but I like it a lot. I spent the last several days studying some of the stitches used in the technique and familiarizing myself with it.
I was unable to find a hoop quite big enough to avoid pressing the velvet in it so I wrapped and prepared my hood to make it less damaging. I then traced my design onto the velvet. I dont usually trace things when I work but the Jacobean images will be so heavy that I dont think there is any worry about lines showing through:

I then picked out a color palette to go with the fabric of the main portion of the body. The fabric I am using is the fabric in the background of this picture

I am now ready to start stitching!

Preparing For The Next Dye Batch


Bunny Belly

Mutant Fat Bunny has been hacked to pieces. Each stitch removed and the pieces laid out to make a pattern. After the pattern was drafted I moved onto the next step, designing the bunnies belly. I thought about it for awhile and settled on a Jacobean style embroidery. For some reason it just seems to fit. I only hope I feel the same way after it's done. So today I spent drawing the design and here it is:

Now if I could just decide what material to do it on. Hmmm!

Mutant Fat Bunny

I've been working real hard this week to get things back on course with my shops. This involved a lot of inventory and planning. The boring parts of my work. I am also planning a new dye batch which one of the exciting parts. I hope to have lots of pretties by this time next week!
In the meantime I need something to stitch again. I could finish up an old project but instead for some reason I got it in my head to make a bunny. Maybe it was my friends trip to the Steiff or more likely the adorable tutorial for a bunny another friend posted on plurk that set me off. All I know is I couldnt get it out of my mind yesterday so I set out to make a bunny. This is quite an endeavor for me because I am not a stuffed animal maker. I only have a vague idea how to go about this task but I was determined and here are the results:
My Mutant Fat Bunny!
He is just a mock up and pinned up like a voodoo doll. I think though with much pushing and prodding and figuring that he is finally starting to look like a bunny. I finished ripping him apart this afternoon and making a pattern. So now I am onto my new stitching adventure. It starts with his tummy and I hope to have pics up for you to see soon!

Have great weekend!

Back in the Studio

After almost three months of inactivity I am trying to unearth my studio and get it back into some semblance of order. I am amazed at how piled up things are. I have spent the last week sorting and organizing and it is slowly beginning to look like a place I can work in again. I found these beauties in two different boxes, half wrapped, all needing some attention. I spent a few evenings wrapping them all. I had completely forgot that I even made them! I really feel like my life took a big detour there for awhile and I am so glad to be back again!


Hello Everybody! I am finally back from my jaunt in the South of France and let me tell you did I have a time of it. SO much fun, good food, good wine, wonderful friends and beautiful breathtaking countryside.

I got to play with this handsome young man

and play in the water mirror in Bordeaux

Drank excellent wine in the wine bar "La Parcelle" all night one night

Had fantastic seafood in a restaurant right by the sea

Picked up sea glass on the beach

rode down scary little skinny roads up on the edge of way high mountains

crawled through crumbled ruins of old monestaries and castles

watched amazing sunsets

wandered down skinny walkways full of colorful shops

and just soaked up all the beauty of the scenery.

I am now a whooped puppy but I will be back to work shortly. Did you miss me?