As I work on the carnation needle book, I’ve run into an issue. I mentioned before that the outer lines wobbled more than I intended them to. As I stem stitched over the outline, following the thread rather than my drifting lines, the full extent of the problem became glaringly obvious.

That’s a lot of drift.

However, rather than taking the fabric off the frame and consigning it to the trash in despair, I decided to think of this as a design opportunity. My initial thought for the border was gray stem stitch whipped in green. However, given the drifting lines, why not make the border wider?

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Doodling with Thread

While I was working out the drawings for the needle book, I had about a week with no specific project to work on, which made it a good time to experiment with techniques. I have no specific use in mind for these; it’s like doodling in the sketchbook. (Sachet aside, that is; but it started as a doodle, too. It was meant to be given away, but one of the seams came out wonky, with no time to rip and redo it. To my sock drawer it goes.)

The buttonhole stitch larkspur is something I’ve been wanting to try, because: pretty, and in the hoop is a hibiscus, which is also an opportunity to practice long and short stitch.

Does anyone else do this? What do you do with the finished pieces?

Beginning a Needlebook

My system for storing needles is efficient (lazy): I leave the needles in their original packaging until I need to use them, and keep all packages in a ziplock bag. Stylish? No. Easy? Yes.

lazy storage

However, I’ve seen some lovely needle books around the internets, and thought that might be a more elegant storage solution than the plastic bag. I have some nice, thick wool felt for the inner pages, and I’m going to challenge my meager hand-sewing skills by adding pockets for scissors and notions.

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Bugs and the Shadows of the Apt

I recently read the Shadows of the Apt books by Adrian Tchaikovsky, and I got struck by an idea for an embroidered piece. A little bit about the books: they’re a fantasy series, and the premise is that groups of people (called kinden) have gifts based on an ideal of bugs– Wasp-kinden can sting you with their hands, Ant-kinden have a telepathic link– and also, that magic is on its way out, and technology is on its way in. Some kinden have Aptitude– they’re capable of understanding technology and believe that magic was only ever a legend. The Inapt can’t comprehend even simple technology. The Inapt were dominant over the Apt for generations, but technology is leveling the playing field.

As I was reading, an image wouldn’t leave me: the Apt species on some clockwork, and the Inapt species on a tangle of vines. I started looking into stumpwork bugs, and decided that would be a striking way to get some dimension on top of the base embroidery. I ended up using an astrolabe to represent Aptitude.

This is not the biggest, but certainly the most involved piece I’ve done to date. From drawing to finished piece took from January to May. It was great fun to do, not least because I learned about stumpwork as I made it.

possibly most time consuming fan art ever

I feel that I’ve become proficient at stumpwork wings.

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The bee is in the lavender

I just finished a big, big project that took months. I like that kind of involvement with a project, but it’s also nice to knock out a quick project. To that end, I’m working on a sachet.

the bee is in the lavender

I’ve yet to decide what fabric I’m going to back it with, or how I’m going to finish it.

The other project I’m working on is going to be the inset to the lid of a little wooden box. It’s a bee in Turkey stitch:

fuzzy bee

I haven’t worked much with Turkey stitch before. It’s fun. It works up quickly and the results are excitingly fuzzy. Both the sachet and the bee box are for a charity auction themed the Birds and the Bees.

Extreme close up of bee fuzz: