Thursday, July 4, 2013

And The Winner Is ...

One of the things I love the most about Crewel is that I can put any stitch anywhere I want on my piece.  Even when I am stitching a commercial design, I can pick my colors and my stitches.  Some people prefer to have a chart or a specific map of where everything goes, but not me....   except for that darned butterfly on my Master Craftsman Step #6 piece!   

As I said before, I have never had a single motif give me more trouble.  My original intent was to have a monarch butterfly, orange and black.   Early on, I decided that there was too much detail to fit into the small butterfly I had for all the intricacies of the monarch pattern, but I could use the colors.  So this is what I stitched:

I was a little concerned that it was too bright, and the judges agreed with that.  I tried looking for the same color family but just a bit softer hues, but I didn't have anything (and I have almost every color of Appleton Crewel wool made!)   I looked for totally different colors -- a blue, perhaps?  Nope.  Peacock?  Nope.  Scarlet?  Ick!!  After hours of pulling colors out of my cabinet and laying them on the piece in various light conditions, I finally reverted back to the same colors in the surrounding design, the yellows, pinks and purples.  

With that decision made, Next was a question of what stitch to use.  For some reason, I moved away from the bands of Satin Stitch and tried my old standby Long and Short (right side in the photo below.)   I liked it, but it just looked a little too much like a flower petal and not a butterfly wing!  So I tried the Satin Stitch bands (left side below) which I liked, but I couldn't get the edges as crisp as I wanted, and I was worried that there was not enough contrast between the yellow and the linen.  

That's when I tried adding the outline stitch, both in the Bright Mauve below, and then in the Bright Rose Pink further below.  Neither of those was quite the effect I wanted. 

Out it all came AGAIN.  By now, I was beginning to worry a bit about the linen fabric getting a bit frayed from so many attempts and having to rip them all out, and resorted to my Doodle Cloth!  (I'm not sure why it took me so long, especially since that's the name of my blog.)  I stitched a Satin outside band, with two lines of outline in the Bright Rose Pink, and the center is Satin in Bright Mauve.   It's hard to tell from the photos, but the wing below is on oyster linen (almost white) and the actual piece is on a darker background.  I really liked this combination, as long as it would have enough contrast! 

I can't tell you how many hours this one butterfly has cost me.  The original orange one not withstanding, this new version -- between thinking and pondering and planning and trying and ripping out and trying again -- probably took ten or twelve hours.  I like the results (close-up below, in context further down.)   

Do you?


I have now made all of the requested changes to the piece, washed it, and it's now blocked and drying.  Sometime in mid-September, it will be on it's way for final judging, and hopefully a successful outcome. 

Now, on to the small piece I have designed as a program for my Local EGA Chapter (Bucks County).  I'm really excited about this project, and there are 10 people signed up for it already!  It's a small design (the linen is 9" x 9", the design about 4 1/2 - 5") that incorporates motifs from Jacobean Crewel, with a nice variety of stitches.  I'm going to put a complete kit together, and I'm writing a nice instruction booklet complete with photos of me working each stitch.  Stay tuned, and I'll write more about it in my next post!

Happy 4th of July!! 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Master Craftsman Step #6 Judging Results

I see I have fallen behind in my blog posts again.  I will admit that life events have thrown me off track for a few months, but I am working to get back on schedule with things, and this is one of them.   

Quick update on Master Craftsman Step #6 -- it was returned to me as "Provisionally Passed" which means the judges wanted some things changed and/or improved before they would pass it in full.  Sometimes I think they just do that to feel powerful <g> but this time their objections were legitimate.  I had take a chance including metal threads, and my hunch was right.  The judges' comments were that they COULD have disqualified the piece entirely because of that, but they felt is was so  'exquisite' that they would allow me to just remove the metal threads.  Okay, I can live with that!    They also didn't like the two bigger butterflies, feeling that the bright colors were a bit overdone, and I agree with that!  I was under the time crunch and was not happy with them but sent the piece in anyway.  So I guess it would have been better to follow my hunches and just held off sending it in until I was totally happy with it!

So the past few weeks I've been making the corrections requested.  Had I known how difficult it was to remove the metal threads, I would have thought twice about taking THAT chance!  Good heavens, that was a chore!   Here is the hummingbird, re-stitched without the metal threads (I think he looked better with it, but then it's technically not crewel!):

Here is the new butterfly at the top of the piece -- I tried to lighten him up a bit since the comment was the stitch I had chosen was too heave.  Here, I am going for almost a dragonfly look:

And here is the new butterfly at the bottom of the piece -- again, replacing the bright orange I had originally with something a bit lighter and more in keeping with the overall piece:

I have a whole blog post planned around this butterfly -- no one piece of embroidery has ever given me as much of a challenge!!

I also neatened up the edge of the large leave you can see to the left of the butterly -- another criticism I agreed with.   The only other change they wanted was the make the raspberries round.  I will add a knot or two, but raspberries are not round!!   They are supposed to be bumpy edged and irregular, and that's the way I want them.  

So now, the next step is to wash and block it again, and get it ready to go back to the judges in September for the October 1st judging deadline.   Hopefully after that, I will be able to say I am an EGA Certified Master Craftsman in Crewel!  Fingers crossed...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Final Phase of Master Crafstman

I apologize to my legions of followers (all 8 of you -- ha ha!) for not staying active in my blogging!  I don't know how good bloggers do it, and wish I could!   I had every intention of doing step by step updates of this final phase of my Master Craftsman journey, with photos as I went, but I really wanted to finished it in time for the April 1st judging deadline, and that meant head down concentration and no time for anything else in my life for several months.  

It is now finished.  I think.  The problem with original designs is you always want to tweak and add things!  I have added several things in the last week to help balance the colors and the density to white space ratio.  Unless someone points out something glaring, I declare it finished.  There are a few things I am not 100% pleased with (and I won't say what!) so it will be very interesting to see if the judges point any of those out.

Here it is, the whole piece, and some close-ups of each section.  


I am pretty happy with it. 

One thing it has taught me is that I enjoy desgning original pieces!  I have loved stitching designs I have obtained over the years, but there are so many other versions of the same design out there.  Doing an original raises it to more of an art, in my mind.  I sometimes wonder if there would be any market for original works of "needleart", like original paintings?  I might have to give it a try!

So now it's on to the washing and blocking phase, then all the paperwork (I need to create a stitch diagram, where I indicate on a copy of the design every stitch along with thread samples and every color used.  That takes forever!) for submission.  It must be in the judges hands by April 1st which is not a problem at this point -- I'm usually doing all of that in the last 3 days and then paying for priority shipping!  Hopefully, I'll be announcing a "Passed" decision soon!

I did take a small bit of time out a month or so ago, and shipped two completed pieces off to the Woodlawn Needlework Exhibit in Alexandria, Virginia.  This is one of the largest exhibits in the country, and is actually a competition.  I have no idea if I have won anything, despite the judging being complete, because the group that does it is apparently not very good about posting results or advertising!  Personally, I think that's deplorable in this day and age -- how hard could it be to scribe the results and post them online?  I plan on driving down to see the exhibit the weekend of March 16/17, and will report back any news. I'm not sure photography is allowed (the exhibit is in a Historical Home) but I'll see what I can do.  Stay tuned!

Here are the two pieces:

An old Elsa Williams Jacobean Design, one in a set of six. 

A Deerfield Early American Design

My next blogging goal is to go back and share the Master Craftsman Certification experience from the beginning!  I'm also designing a small project to be taught at my local EGA Chapter later this year that I'm really looking forward to.  I'll share that as well.