Saturday, April 29, 2017

Old becomes new

Several years ago I started teaching myself Tambour embroidery/beading. I did a few projects and started on a more elaborate design that was going to be a purse. I didn't make much progress on it so I put it away. 

Forward to the present and I've gotten re-energized on Tambour work and what did I find in my sewing stuff but this project. The material I was using was completely inappropriate to my skill level but I still had the paper pattern so I decided to use a material that was more my speed. 
You can sort of see the pattern laid out here as well as the working side of the seed and bugle beads I'm using for part of it. 
And a close up of the front side of the beads.  In this style, the work is done from the back side of the material, which is why having a sheer fabric makes life so much easier for the beginner!
You can see the pattern a little better from the paper master. Some of it will be worked with beads and sequins and some with thread. Might take a while, though!  

The pattern was taken, I believe from this standard book, now sadly out of print. 
Unfortunately with these more obscure techniques, there aren't a lot of printed materials. We treasure the little we can get. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Now that I finally feel more confident about warping, I can't get enough of weaving. 

I finished my warping class project made from linen. 
It's washed and and put away now. I have a plan for it but I'm not ready to start. 

Then I did a project with tencil and some hand spun. 
Again, finished, washed and put away. 

Now I've just finished warping for a scarf, which if I can get the hang of the beat, will be beautiful. Merino wool and silk yarn. Soooo soft. 
The warp will be the dark blue shown here as dividers between the color strips. God willing and the creek don't rise, it will be this. 

I managed to warp the loom with 3 colors and very few tears. Good start!

I've also started playing again with Tambour Embroidery again. I first saw it practiced at Lincoln's New Salem but I've put it away for quite a few years. Now I've come across a YouTube Channel by Robert Haven that has me excited about it again. 

First steps:  

It's on a sheer piece of material so I can see what my hands are doing. 

This site gives a little history and some photos. You actually work from the back and it can include beads and sequins but it can also be just thread. It's a beautiful technique most often used in haute couture design. It's kind of like me - a bit different but nice!!  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Error and a Home Run

As I continue the section called, Decorations in Half Stitch, I've hit a sample that I just couldn't figure out and could not find any additional information on. 

It's referred to as Gravenmoersche appears to be a half stitch ground that has a little different orientation than a regular half stitch ground. Honestly the variation seemed almost indistinguishable but I gave it a go. And then took it out and gave it another go. And so on. I finally admitted defeat and finished the piece with the old standard. 
Even if I couldn't do the proper stitch, that would have looked like this
It's still a lovely pattern. 

Fortunately, that miss was followed by a lesson on something I've long wanted to learn - how to start and end a piece with a border that runs all the way round. There's a fan I'm going to do one day that needs to start like this. 

On this technique the diagrams were very clear indeed and I'm so happy to have this reference point for the day I begin The Fan. 

This lesson had a whole array of variations for the ground sections that could so easily be substituted for basic rose ground and add a little bit of fancy to any pattern. Trails, border, grounds. This one had a bit of everything!

And what does tomorrow hold?  Perhaps the warping of a loom?  Perhaps the start of a new lace?  Time, as they say, will tell.

For now I'm happy with whatever comes. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sample, sample, sample

I know people are probably getting sick of me talking about it but I'm still loving the patterns in the Torchon Workbook. I'm on the 9th chapter, Decorations in half stitch. 

I've just finished a group she has labeled Escalator. The name comes from a section made up of a row of half stitches that are worked uphill. 
In this example, you work the section above the line all the way to the end and then use the pair at the base of the line to work half stitch to the point at the top of the line. Now you're ready to work the section below the line. And you get this one in the middle. 
Each of these samples uses this escalator technique, although in different ways. 

My absolute favorite of this trio is the edging at the right. It has some of my favorite techniques like the spider ground and the Scotch broom trails. I would have carried on with it but I'm anxious to get moving on. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Two experiments

My sample warp is finally finished, off the loom, and washed. My main objective was to get a feel for the materials (the tencel yarn) but it ended up becoming a wider learning experience. 
  1. I learned how to beat the weft to give the balanced look I'm going to want when I make my tartan-patterned scarf. I tested how an ultra light beat made it look messy. Maybe if I had fewer ends per inch (I warped at 24 epi) the lighter beat would have seemed more airy but not so much with this. I knew I didn't want a weft-faced fabric (which would have happened with a heavy beat. So a light squished of the beater seemed to produce the best way forward.    
  2. I learned that I may want a slightly less dense fabric so I'll warp to 20 epi instead of 24. I think that will make a nicer scarf fabric.  
  3. I am working on a table loom which means you don't have to go far until you have to advance the warp. The mistake I was making was advancing it too far so that I got weird wiggly bits in my fabric. Once I figured that out and started leaving a couple of inches in front of the front beam, hey, presto, I got a much more even fabric.   
  4. I learned that it all feels different after a good wash. I guess that's why teachers are always talking about washing your samples. Good call, teach! 
  5. I learned that using a spare variegated skein of hand spun works fabulously with the base color of the warp.  
I'm going to use some of this strip to make a coin purse and part of it is going to be used to make phone holders. Here's the type I mean. 
I was given a similar holder that has microfiber on the bottom to clean the screen. In trying to work it out, I tried all sorts of gyrations. That is until I realized that a simple tube of fabric seamed on one end and the closed at the other end in the opposite direction would do the same thing. 
Now I'm experimenting with filler so that it has enough weight to be steady without going nuts. I'm thinking that it could double as a pin cushion depending on the filler used. 

Again with the pin cushions?!?


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Appearances can be deceiving

I started a new sample this week. There was a section that even the text said was tricky so I worked to that point and left it that night. I decided I needed to wait until I was rested to attempt it. I had already worked the whole left side and then the right side. Then I completely undid the right side because I'd made a mistake at the beginning then I'd worked the whole right side again. 

The "complicated" section involved working a pair half-stitch through six other pair. Not so bad except that it had to go backwards through the pairs before heading into the 8-leg spider. 

When I sat for a minute to look at it the next morning, the light bulb went on and I worked it with no problems at all. 

You can never tell. 

Last night I got involved in watching a couple of fascinating shows on YouTube and actually finished the whole dang thing. 
I never realized working in whole stitch was so fiddly to keep the tension right. 

Everyone should see these films. I couldn't stop watching. 

Edwardians in Colour (First of 4 episodes)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Weaving on

I have been working on a little side weaving project. Since take #HopewellWeaving's warping class, I've been inspired to tackle a project I've had in the back of my mind for a while now. 

Several years ago, I bought these cones of tencel yarn but I hadn't done anything with them yet because I wanted to make sure I could handle them properly. 


Lovely, shiny, softee yarn. Thread. Whatever. 

I've decided on a simple Bruce tartan pattern from the book, Tartans - Their Art and History. It uses two main colors with the third color making the occasional thin stripe. I'm going to use the purple and tan as the main colors with the green as the accent. 

Before I dove in head first with it, I wanted to make sure I understood how to handle the materials and be clear on the sett. So I wound a small warp with the green (since I knew I wouldn't need as much of that for the final piece) and I've been playing. 


I'm using a 2/2 twill, since that's what you use for the tartan (over 2 threads/under 2 threads). Here I've done a 2/2 twill and then a reverse 2/2 twill to give the herringbone sort of pattern. 

I'm so glad I did this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I understand better now how to handle the warp with this thread. Second of all, I've got all sorts of ideas about what I want to make from this 5 inch or so strip. Coin purse, glasses case, etc. 
I'm also playing with how the colors play. Here it is with the green warp and tan weft. 

You don't see it here but in person it has more of a pinkish hue. (Is there a pinkish hue? - George Constanza)