Monday, September 7, 2015

What else am I up to?

Edit: this idea has been nixed, everything is all in one place now, Huzzah!

I've looked at what it would take to run a broader topic blog the way I'd like and it basically involves writing my own code. I'm going to stick with Blogger for the time being so this is how I'm breaking it up instead...

I've started up a blog specifically for crafty and more lifestyley stuff:

Click image above to check out the new blog
So that whole plan of having one multi topic space? Completely abandoned for the moment. :(

Maybe someday I'll combine into one lifestyle blog, sadly today is not that day.

This page will continue pretty much as usual: hair, makeup, skin, clothing, accessories.
Other topic pages are linked on that navigation bar on the top of my page.

Rebel Rebel

I've decided that not only am I doing the bat design with the stitches in different directions as previously discussed... I'm apparently now kind of obsessed with the idea of playing with texture and stitch direction in cross stitching.

While I agree doing things haphazardly in all different directions can look messy and detract from a pictorial piece that's no reason to abandon the idea of deliberately working with texture to create a desired effect.

One of the specific joys of many other types of embroidery is the play of light on directional stitching... so why is this such a taboo idea in cross stitching?

Historically, changes in texture are EXACTLY how we create visual interest in regular, single material objects. Jacquard, knitting, card weaving, pressed velvet, mosaic work, crop circles, magnetic nailpolish... texture play is everywhere!

I'm kind of obsessed with herringbone so I'll probably start there, but yeah, expect some experiments.

New Project - Na na na na na na na na Bat Square! (phase 1)

My next project - Bats by Tantes Zolder

My husband and I are very keen on bats so the minute I saw this design I knew it would be ALL over my home. I plan to do several versions of this in different coordinating tone-on-tone colourways to be framed up as coordinating pieces.
Phase 1 is all mounted up and gridded out in 18 ct oatmeal coloured Aida cloth to be stitched in a bronzey goldy olive green thread.

So far I also have a white on white and a black on black planned (and materials sourced) but I'd love to do some more contrasty versions too - cream thread on lilac fabric is one version I have in mind and I'd also love to do something on a natural or grey fabric with white polka dots.

I'm a leeeettle obsessed with that particular shade of green right now. I wish I could have found a closer fabric but there's not a lot of variation in Aida cloth 
The *only* thing holding me up from starting in at this point is a style question and I'm waiting for some other brains to chime in:

I know the prevailing cross stitch logic is to do the whole piece with the stitches in the same direction BUT since it is a reflected medallion sort of thing and very texture oriented I'm thinking it might look cool to stitch each repeat separately from the top down in the same direction so that each has its own sort of texture.

I think that makes sense, I hope that makes sense!

Is this just crazy enough to work... or just crazy?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

She chose down? - A thing I just learned about setting up new embroidery.

I've been dabbling with embroidery of various sorts since I was a kid but I recently got back into cross stitch after a looooong hiatus. I remembered most of the basics but I spent a lot of time poking around the internet to flesh out setup details and see how other people did things.

One of the things I specifically looked for was the best way to set up the fabric on a frame or hoop for stitching and in particular -

Why do some people set up their canvas "underneath" the frame/hoop - is there an advantage to this?

I couldn't find anything to suggest an advantage either way, and I found the most pics of people working "over" so I set up my recent pieces to match.

Now that I've found the answer to my question completely by random chance on a Facebook Cross Stiching page I'm switching up what I do with cross stitching and sharing the tip. Working underneath fixes a problem I find REALLY annoying and hopefully having this info handy will help others.

The main issue I find with working over the top is that when I get too close to the frame/hoop it's REALLY hard to maneuver the needle under threads horizontally. This isn't a problem for up and down stitching like in cross stitch, but it's a really big problem if you want to run the needle under previous stitches to finish off a thread and you are very close to the frame.

Ever hit up against this? Pulling that needle through would be SO ANNOYING!
You never work horizontally on the face of the embroidery when you are cross stitching so this will never be a problem if you work with the top of your piece in the ditch.
Y.M.M.V. if you're working a different style of needlework, but there are a couple of other advantages as well so unless I was doing a LOT of tight horizontal work (like in attaching Shisha mirrors for example) I would probably continue working this way.

The second BIG advantage is that the projecting frame will help keep your top hand up off of the face of canvas so it will help keep the top of the piece a lot cleaner. Also: if you drop your frame or your pet/spouse/child bumps against it - the fabric which is most exposed on the edge is the underside of your work instead of the top.

A third potential advantage is that the well created by the frame projecting upward could be handy to keep working items nearby. You can rest items like scissors or a pattern right on the piece with you, though I *personally* would be really careful with this. Given *my* luck my scissors would open up and cut threads, or the ink from the pattern would transfer onto the fabric, or something similarly Murphy's Law-ish. Even if I don't make active use of it I can't even express the number of times this could have saved me from stopping everything to move my work off of my lap so I could pick up a a needle or threader which just joyfully rolled off the working surface and on to the floor.

I have a large-ish piece (around 11x15 inches) I've been working on for a bit that I have on stretcher bars and after finding out about this I'm SERIOUSLY considering un-mounting the whole thing and re-mounting it underneath the bars.

(2 am edit: I did it after I got back from dinner and I regret nothing!)

Anyway, I hope having this info out and about helps someone because I know I'm TOTALLY taking advantage of it.

Bonus thing - How to tell the front from the back on a piece of woven fabric:
(as much for my future reference as for yours)
"Hold the fabric by opposite corners and pull gently. If the fabric forms a "valley" between two "hills", that is the right or front side. If it forms a single "hill", that is the back. The front side is smoother than the back. However, it really makes no difference which side you stitch on unless it is a printed fabric."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

So, what's with the name anyway?

I am one of those multi-tasker-types.
I'm also such a true-crime buff that I got a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology. I don't do anything with my degree professionally so the practical upshot of this is basically that I watch A LOT of true crime television.

image via

If I'm up and out of bed I require a minimum threshold of brain activity for sanity (bed is a magical fairy universe with different rules). Otherwise my mind comes up with its own things to poke at and that's not always fun. Pretty much the only time I don't bother with background noise is when I'm reading because I am an extremely focused, immersive reader.

I really wish this translated to being all caught up on the television I want to watch, but since I'm usually looking at the thing I'm doing and not the screen I don't feel comfortable watching shows with distracty things like drama and plot and visual interest.

I'm umpteen bajillion seasons behind in Dr Who, and have yet to even start watching Sherlock.
The single solitary show I am caught up on is Supernatural (expect Supernatural themed crafts - I already have patterns) but I have exhausted every single procedural true crime show on Netflix and Amazon Prime!

The "plot" on procedural true crime is pretty predictable so it's ideal background noise for what I'm doing:
Someone dies, they look for the killer, someone discusses nature vs nurture, and the biggest plot twist you ever get is "Other than the small animal torturing he seemed so normal!". Commercial break recaps also help catch me up if I "miss" anything.

Like a really gory game of Clue
I blew through everything on Netflix and had kind of a True Crime dry spell for a while, but luckily (?) I've now found the shady underworld of poorly ripped YouTube videos!

I barely ever look at the screen so the video quality doesn't matter much. I've seen more than enough crime scene photos for anyone's lifetime so unless it's related to an explanation of how they worked out some specific clue I don't feel the need to look at all the gory images. I think the biggest source of interest for me at the moment is comparing the way different countries conceptualize criminality.

I try to find other things to listen to while I'm crafting, but that always ends up with me just digging through Netflix for 45 minutes and settling on something true-crimey anyway.

I'm not sure how much I'll be talking about the true crime stuff here, I don't think it will be a focus but if people are interested let me know and I'll pipe up with whatever I happen to think about the stuff I'm watching.

In case you're curious: here are all of the true Crime documentary shows I half watched while cross stitching last Sunday - warning, for some reason you tube true crime channels seem obsessed with using extremely gory (and often not even related) promo shots for these shows.

Peter TobinFrancis Michael FaheySteven Kummerfield and Alexander TernowetskyEdmund Kemper The Co Ed ButcherDamon Bamberg and Sonya BambergOtis TooleMichael Ryan - Hungerford massacreDouglas Thames