Saturday, September 27, 2008

French Knots (Sort of)

Tonight I decided to tackle the dreaded French knot again. I used the tutorial that Carol pointed me to (thank you, Carol!) and after many false starts I came up with this:

They aren't the most beautiful French knots in the world, but at least now I can say I made one! It took awhile before I realized I shouldn't pull too hard when finishing the knot or it would go right through the fabric. One thing I haven't figured out is how you are supposed to start a knot if you aren't bringing the thread from another stitch; when the knot is actually where you first start using the thread. I had to make a loop start first, then I moved over to make the French knot. I'm not sure I am making any sense here - I think what I am asking is can you start a French knot when you start using your floss, and if so, how do you secure it so it doesn't just pull through and out the other side of the fabric?

I should have practiced more before I tried to make knots for eyes on this little freebie I am making. I ended up doing several knots in the same place, so his eyes look rather bulgy. I may take them out and try again, but at least he isn't blind! I think this chart comes from this blog - the design says it's copyrighted by Kirsten Schmidt, but I can't find the chart there. I hope I am attributing it correctly. I just fell in love with this little guy!

A new discovery to me is a blog called Stitching Bloggers Links, which I read about on Independent Needlework News. I was pleasantly shocked to find that my blog is listed there; it's still hard to believe that I am considered part of this great community of wonderful stitchers. As I try to navigate this hobby and get better at it I so much appreciate all the support I get. There is so much inspiration out there and it makes me want to keep trying and not give up!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teacher Gift Framed

Here's the framed version of the gift for my son's teacher. Thanks again to Tanya for the wonderful chart.DS has a new teacher now - he just started third grade. So far she seems nice; we'll see if she merits one of these at the end of the year. DS's first week was a bit dramatic - I got called to the school because he had a fever of 103. Of course this call came in while I was on my way to my haircut and color appointment, which was already three weeks beyond when it should have been. And my hairdresser was going on vacation the next day. So now I look kind of like Medusa, with my hair all over the place. At least there aren't snakes coming out of my head (yet).

Right now I'm working on a little freebie that should be finished soon, and I am trying to talk myself into giving a floss tag a try. Carol got the greatest looking device for putting in the eyelets. I was thinking of giving the one sold at Joann's a try - has anyone used it? The idea of putting a hole in my stitching scares the dickens out of me, but then so did making a needleroll, and I managed to handle that okay.

I have been reading all the Me, Myself and I RR plans with pleasure. Being a contractor isn't something I'm quite ready for, but it's such fun to go to open houses! I have a great old book by Dorothy Rodgers (wife of Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame, and mother of the woman who wrote Freaky Friday) called The House in My Head. She kept a kind of journal as she planned and built her dream house. I can't help but think of that book when I read the planning blogs. If I were to design one, I'd model it after a town near the border of Wales called Shrewsbury (are there any Brother Cadfael fans here?), where DH and I spent a wonderful trip over Thanksgiving one year. It has a castle, a narrow windy street called Grope Lane, a Tudor-style B&B where we stayed, and a friendly, non-smoking pub. I'm still too new at stitching to take on a project of this magnitude, but I'll be dreaming and scheming along with the rest of you in spirit!

Monday, September 1, 2008

French Knots (Not)

I finished Our Souls Entwine in the nick of time; my husband's birthday is Wednesday. The only thing I tried to change was instead of making cross stitches for the birds' eyes, I wanted to make French knots. Unfortunately my attempts to perform this feat led to abject failure. I looked online for instructions and even though I found plenty of references, I couldn't figure out how to hold the thread properly. The pictures usually only showed one hand holding the thread but not both hands, and I was all fumble fingers. I also wasn't sure how many strands of floss to use - the instructions kept telling me to "wrap my floss around the needle" but not how much of it would make the knot correctly. If anyone can point me to "French Knots for Dummies" or some such, I would be forever grateful.

Meanwhile I finagled with cross stitches so the eyes look a little more substantial than Xs. Just Xs made it look kind of like the birds were supposed to be dead! Not a very romantic thought for a birthday present to one's DH.
Our Souls Entwine
R & R Reproductions (Parched Bone)
Weeks Dye Works and DMC

The frame looks perfect, doesn't it? Well, don't look too close. It's just a regular picture frame, so the excess fabric is too thick to lace at the back of the stitching. I took the picture by hiding the fabric behind the frame. That's the way DH will get it, with my promise to have it framed properly one of these days!

So now I am project-less, not counting UFOs Gingerbread Cottage and Schoolgirl Lessons, neither of which are calling to me at the moment. I've been looking for a chart that I can use to make a floss tag for the MFC, and I really want to start something with which I can start to master color changes. I love LHN and the like, but I want to conquer my fear of something more complicated. I found a chart in a British cross-stitching magazine that I might try - a country house with a garden in front. But for this I'll need a trip to the LNS for the linen. You all seem to have endless stashes of beautiful linen - do you order it online? I have been getting it project by project but it would be wonderful to have a small store of it. So much linen, so little money... Off to look for a floss tag chart - see you soon!