Monday, December 31, 2007

Stocking Detail 35

Today's detail is a feather stitch seam with pistil stitches along both sides. The other little seam at the top is palestrina stitch with knots along the sides.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Stocking Detail 34

The top seam here is cretan stitch, whipped along the inner zigzag. Along the top are silk ribbon knots and loops.
The filler motif is lazy daisies sewn with Caron wildflowers silk floss.
Along the bottom seam is a ruched silk ribbon.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Stocking Detail 33

The lower diagonal seam is herringbone sewn with silk/cashmere knitting yarn. Along one side is silk ribbon chain stitches.
The upper diagonal seam is palestrina stitch sewn with silk ribbon. Along the top are pistil stitches and straight stitches in silk ribbon.
The motif is a braid trim couched down in a spiral.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Stocking Detail 32

This detail is simply two overlapping cross stitches that form stars or snowflakes. Along the seam is chevron stitch with French knots.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stocking Detail 31

The main seam in this detail is covered with a piece of tatting I made with a single strand of Caron wildflowers silk floss. The upper seam was done with loose silk ribbon stitches. Straight stitches and lazy daisies were added along one side. The left patch has a filler motif started, a chain stitch vine sewn with silk floss. It needs further embellishing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Stocking Detail 30

This motif was an early attempt at silk ribbon embroidery. I don't recall the name of the rose stitch, but it is made with straight ribbon stitches in a circular petal formation.
The pink seam is a zigzag chain stitch sewn with a hand dyed silk blend fiber. Along the side are detached chains tied down with pistil stitches.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

The next few days are big events here. We have Christmas with two teens and a baby. It's the first that the baby can tear paper and get into things herself. The day after is my birthday, and the day after that is my anniversary. I don't know if I'll be online at all, but I hope everyone has a joyous Christmas.

Snowy Cookies - Gluten Free

Mexican wedding cookies are one of my favorites. I remember them as a traditional Christmas cookie while growing up. There are many variations on the recipe as well as the name. I've also seen them called Russian tea cakes or snowballs.
It's been almost a year since we discovered the baby is allergic to wheat. Since she is nursing, I have given up everything made with wheat - bread, pasta, crackers, pizza, Chinese take-out, almost anything processed or packaged, and cookies. There are several good cookbooks for making these things gluten free. We probably don't need to go totally gluten free, but it's easier to find gluten free recipes. If it's gluten free then it's also wheat free. I've tried making bread, but not been successful. I tried making pizza. It wasn't great, but it was okay. I haven't been motivated to make pies, but I do make a good apple crisp. Macaroni and cheese with rice noodles is good enough. I've made chocolate chip cookies twice and they were good. Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of traditional baked treats that I was just planning to pass on. But there are a few good gluten free blogs that I enjoy reading: Gluten Free [Cooking School], Gluten Free Mommy, and Karina's Kitchen. They make it sound easy enough to experiment with adapting a favorite wheat filled recipe to one that is gluten free. So, I decided to give it a try. If it didn't work out, there are other uses for the less than desirable cookies. They could be used to make graham cracker pie crusts or in the crumb topping for the apple crisp. Well, these cookies are as good as the original. They do leave a bit of an aftertaste, but that's easily cured with a good milk chaser, or something more interesting if you're not nursing a baby. :)
There are probably other flour substitutions that would work just as well, but here's the recipe that I used:

1 pound butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but I like it)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
2/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup soy flour
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
8 ounces walnuts (or almonds or pecans), ground fine in a food processor
Extra powdered sugar for rolling cookies in (1-2 cups)

In a large bowl, cream butter and extracts. In another bowl, mix powdered sugar, flours, and xanthan gum. Gradually mix into creamed mixture. I use a hand mixer and it was easier to mix by hand after a while. Stir in the nuts. Cover and refrigerate until workable with your hands. Roll into balls about 3/4 inch. These cookies are plenty crumbly when made with wheat, so err on the small side. Arrange on cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake on top oven rack for 11 minutes. Let cool 3-5 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and roll in powdered sugar while still warm. I didn't count, but it probably made 8-10 dozen cookies.

I have zero will power when it comes to cookies, so I store them in the freezer and warm up a couple when I want them. That keeps me from eating one every time I go in the kitchen.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Stocking Detail 29

The details on the black stocking were very challenging to photograph. I took the pictures on a nice sunny day without the flash and I still got quite a bit of glare. I have tried to adjust the brightness the best I could. This detail is the toe area. There are silk ribbon flowers started.
The large seam is a meandering feather stitch variation. It is sewn with a few different fibers added in layers. A seed bead was added to the end of each stitch.
There are tiny peach colored roses on the next patch sewn with rayon floss. They were an early attempt at bullion stitches.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stocking Four

This is my stocking. There is still much stitching to be done. I got stuck on the focal motif. I couldn't think of a motif that I wanted to represent myself. So, this was as far as I got. Notice, there isn't really a theme for this stocking like there was for the others. It has a color scheme of sorts, but even that has not been strictly adhered to. Many of the threads and ribbons I dyed myself. There is a piece of tiny delicate trim that I tatted. Still, this stocking has more of the feeling of being a sampler of sorts.
When I pulled these out two years ago, I eventually decided on an angel motif. This is not to say I think of myself as an angel. My husband could certainly tell a few stories that would squash that thought, but he won't. I chose an angel more for lack of anything better. Angels are good Christmas symbols. They are helpful and kind and sometimes mischievous. They are God's messengers, but not always welcomed. I have since crafted a couple of polymer clay faces to try out. I have some ideas percolating for creating my angel. She may make it onto the stocking before too long.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stocking Detail 28

The right seam along this cuff is a bit different. The base is not an embroidery stitch. I started this seam by sewing on a line of chip beads. I don't remember what kind they are, possibly some type of jasper. They're sewn on with a gold rayon sewing thread. Along the upper edge of the seam, I added French knots with metallic floss and detached chains with rayon floss.
For my husband's name, I couched on decorative fibers, a green knobbly fiber that looks a bit like silk and a fuzzy gold fiber.
The left seam was detailed in yesterday's post.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Yoyo Garland on Heather's blog

I just discovered Heather's blog. I was poking around a bit and found this great idea for garland. Figures, I finally got my tree up yesterday and did most of the decorating this morning. Maybe next year.

Stocking Detail 27

The focal motif on my husband's stocking took some time to decide on. He means so many things to me. Eventually, I decided on a cross. Our church was very important to us when I chose this. Neither of us grew up in church going families. We began attending church together several years ago. For the last three years and the next three, my husband has been a deacon. It also adds to the Christmas theme. I created the base of the cross with herringbone stitch sewn with three strands of gold metallic thread and then added seed beads. Detached chains and straight stitches sewn with a single strand of the metallic thread add a bit of radiance.

A new blog I've found reminds us of the reason for the season. They're having a birthday party for Jesus. Check it out.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stocking Detail 26

This filler motif was made with a glass flower bead with bugle beads around it. I added a gold swirl design around it with chain stitches and a metallic thread that resembles tinsel.
The lower right seam is also chain stitch in a wavy line with a combination of threads.
The upper seam is closed buttonhole with French knots and detached chains along the side.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stocking Detail 25

A couple of simple motifs for today. The key and heart charms on my husband's stocking are because he holds the key to my heart. The glass leaf beads paired with gold metal beads aren't exactly like holly leaves, but give a similar feel. I used a metallic gold thread to fill the background with similar leaf and berry shapes, knots and detached chains.
The seam across the middle is chevron stitch in gold. It's accented with rayon floss detached chains and clusters of French knots.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stocking Detail 24

I used buttonhole stitch with metallic gold floss for the seam here. Metallic gold French knots and rayon floss detached chains create the tiny flowers. The reindeer charm adds a touch of Christmas, with gold running stitches showing his flight path.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stocking Detail 23

Progress on the pink stocking is slow going, but I am enjoying it. I have found that when I am tired it takes longer to decide on a fiber and stitch for a particular spot. I was adding a piece of trim across the toe area last night. I tried three different fibers , all with different stitches, before I found something I was happy with. This is very unlike me as I usually avoid the frog stitch. I'm also whipping and lacing stitches more than usual. When I was taking this picture, I noticed how linear all the stitching is. I've since started adding the extra bits and straying off the seams. There is much still to be done, but it is coming along. At this point, I am thinking these will be done for next year. There are a few charms and such that I want to use on this stocking that I don't have in my stash, and a motif or two to create that will take more time than I have before Christmas. When I started the first four stockings, I started early in the year and planned to finish them that season. That was several years ago. I've since enjoyed pulling them out each autumn and adding to them throughout the season. My current goal is to keep working on them when the season is over and finish them before next advent. If all goes well, next year will be our first in a house of our own. The home inspection was this morning. I was really looking forward to it, but I had to miss it. My little angel has had a fever for the last three days and may have an ear infection. So, I stayed home and my husband went alone. He took notes for me, but I am more obsessive about details. It would have been easier to ask the inspector questions directly. There aren't many major concerns, but there are some things to address. Hopefully, they can be resolved.

Anyway, on to the photos. First is the full shot for a snapshot of current progress.

Here is my 'princess of the cows' seam. I wanted dimension and fluff to balance out the other seam along the cuff. These silk ribbon loops filled that requirement nicely. I dyed these myself. The ribbon came from RibbonSmyth. It has a wonderful feel to it and is very nice to work with. Several of the other fibers used on this stocking, including the thread in the seam here, I also dyed at the same time. I was experimenting with starter packs of Setacolor and Dye-na-Flow fabric paints. It was lots of fun and produced some nicely colored fibers to play with.
Zigzag chain over herringbone:
Knotted cable chain with added lacing:
I'm not sure if I like this yet. I had something darker in mind for the lacing, but this fiber jumped out at me.
Pekinese stitch, lacing done with feather boa yarn:
Crested chain stitch, with last week's TAST, pistil stitches added:
Pistil stitches are one of my favorites for accenting a seam or motif. They have all sorts of uses. Many sources for inspiration can be found among the blogs of my fellow TAST participants. I particularly liked the way Elizabeth and Maureen used this stitch.
This is the 'feathered' up and down buttonhole, which is now hidden under the added stitches. I've done this week's TAST stitch, berry stitch, in the little V spaces, with a different thread for each of the detached chains. I've also laced the seam with a knitting yarn, a ladder type. The lacing goes up the seam and back the other way to fill it out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Stocking Detail 22

A beaded spider lives on the heel of this stocking. His web is straight stitches with metallic gold thread. The seam on the left is a curving buttonhole stitch sewn with two colors of rayon floss. Metallic gold floss was used for detached chains and pistil stitches along the seam.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stocking Detail 21

The feather stitch on the left seam is sewn with a single strand of gold metallic floss. Two different greens in rayon floss were combined to make the French knots along the seam.
The bottom seam is cretan stitch sewn with two strands of the gold metallic floss. Changing the number of threads used in the needle creates the illusion of more variety where I had a limited number of threads that fit the color scheme. A variety of beads were used to embellish the seam.
A flock of butterflies adorns the patch. They are made with three black seed beads for the body. The wings are detached chains sewn with two strands of a darker gold metallic thread.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stocking Detail 20

A simple detail today, around the patch is herringbone stitch sewn with three strands of metallic floss, one gold, one green, and one black. On the patch is a black ribbon tacked down with gold seed beads.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stocking Detail 19

This is the area near the toe. The toe itself is still empty. The lace is 1 1/2 inches wide and already had the gold braid as part of it. I added gold seed beads and green bugle beads in little V shapes to accentuate the zigzag and spice it up a bit.
The seam across the top is palestrina stitch sewn with rayon floss in two colors of green and a gold rayon thread. Hanging down from that are vines done in tiny feather stitches, randomly spaced and sewn with a single strand of rayon floss. Each tip has a gold seed bead.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Stocking Number Three

This is my husband's stocking. Green is his favorite color. I wanted it to be Christmasy, but not too much, and elegant. The embellishments are primarily green and gold with some black. In one patch, there is a Christmas reindeer charm with a gold running stitch flight path. In another patch, there is a painters palette charm because my husband is an artist. And in another patch, there are charms of a heart and a key, because he holds the key to my heart.
Since I was working with a very limited palette, the variety of threads I had to use was also very limited. As we go through the details, you may notice that I combined threads in the needle to create more variety than what I had to start with. I did this on all of the stockings, but it was more necessary on this one.

I hope you are enjoying this series as I am getting a lot out of examining past projects. It is providing a greatly needed boost to my creativity while I am highly stressed buying my first house and heaped with fiber projects I can't seem to focus on.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Stocking Detail 18

Progress on the pink stocking...

Auditioning laces and trims:
The lace angel would have to be dyed, probably lavender gown, pink face and hands, and gold for the wings and halo. That would fit the color scheme. First layer of seam stitches almost done:
This seam is made with alternating composite stitches, Head of the Bull and Crown stitch. It's kind of a family thing. My angel has quite a collection of cows for only being a year old. So this seam is symbolic for our little princess and our obsession with cows. She isn't quite 14 months yet, but she can "moo" while pointing to a cow picture.
A few seams with new stitches learned from Sharon's Take a stitch Tuesday challenge:

Knotted Cretan
Knotted Cable Chain
This is my first attempt at this stitch. It adds a wonderful texture, but it's beauty is somewhat lost here. I'm hoping to highlight it a bit more with accent stitches or beads to be added later.
Up and Down Buttonhole
I attempted the feathered variation, but the angle isn't quite right. I think it looks more like a cretan variation.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Stocking Detail 17

Thank you all for the recent comments. It's nice to know my readers are enjoying this series as much as I am.

This is the cuff area of my son's stocking. His name is a hand dyed silk tweed yarn, couched on. It was odd using the nickname here as I only call him by his full name, although recently I've started referring to him as "the brother".
The diagonal seam to the right is the palestrina stitch sewn with silk/cashmere yarn with a strand of rayon floss. For a time, palestrina was a favorite stitch and appeared on all of my projects. Along the spokes are French knots in two strands of waterlilies silk floss. Along the cuff side are oyster stitch flowers in #5 cotton pearl. Red metallic pistil stitches form the centers. The leaves are detached chains done first with black silk/cashmere yarn and then with blue rayon floss over the black. There are three little gold metallic straight stitches in between each flower.
The left diagonal seam is cretan stitch done in Caron watercolors pearl thread over Portuguese knotted stem stitch in three strands of metallic black thread. There are detached chains and French knots in red rayon floss and detached chains in gold metallic floss. There are more French knots in rayon floss, blue and olive combined. In between the knot clusters are Ermine stitches in rayon floss, a darker blue that somewhat blends into the background but adds a hint of something to make you look closer.
The chained vine to the left is more silk/cashmere yarn dyed with the same colors as the yarn for the name. It's interesting to dye different fibers together and see how different they take the colors.
A dragon charm makes his home in the middle of everything.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Stocking Detail 16

This little guy is the main focal point on my son's stocking. I don't keep track of the time I spend on each project, but I do know I spent many hours on this. His body is beaded with a variety of beads. I've heard the term "thread painting" in various places. I've never tried it following any instructions, but I think my natural style is fairly similar on motifs like this. This could be "bead painted". I tried to create a sense of direction and depth with the placement of the beads, as well as create texture that imitates dragon scales. The tail turned out to be padded satin stitched. I started the tail by couching down a thick blue metallic fiber for the vein of each section. Along each side of the veins, I did a narrow satin stitch with red metallic floss. After doing quite a bit of the red, I decided I didn't like it. It was too harsh a contrast with the background and flow as nicely from the body as I envisioned. I only rarely rip anything out, preferring to plod along and make the best of "happy little accidents", as a painting teacher used to say. So I combined a gold metallic thread with an olive green rayon floss and satin stitched over the red, letting the red peek through. I'm quite pleased with the result.

An update on the pink stocking, I've auditioned laces and trims and threads and fibers and decided on a color scheme: pink and purple with gold accents.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Stocking Detail 15

I don't remember where this little dragon came from, maybe a scan from one of my son's books. He was printed onto a plain cotton fabric and appliqued onto the stocking. I used a fine gold thread to couch a boucle fiber around the edge in a blue to match the background.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Stocking Detail 14

This patch is very irregular. I cut the fabric, a loose sueded rayon, extra long and gathered it to fit the space. I started embellishing this patch with the shorter lines of stitching. I wanted to break up the long patch, but it created too much of a split and just looked funny. Eventually, I started adding more lines of embellishment, longer and curvy to mimic the flow of the dragon tales.
The seam running down the length of the patch is feather stitch sewn with a strand of fuzzy wool knitting yarn and a strand of gold rayon thread. Tiny red rayon floss French knots are tucked into the spaces along the center. Along the outer spokes are matte finish seed beads sewn on with the gold rayon thread that gives them a little hint of shine.
Starting at the top and going clockwise, the lines inside the patch are:
Split ribbon stitch sewn with overdyed 7mm silk ribbon.
Snail trail sewn with two strands of wildflowers silk floss.
Beaded stem stitch with a larger center bead in each stitch.
Squared palestrina knot sewn with silk/cashmere knitting yarn and a strand of rayon floss.
Braid made with seed beads.
Chain stitch sewn with silk/cashmere knitting yarn underneath and 4mm silk ribbon on top.
Clicking on the top photo will give you a closeup. The bottom photo shows how the patch fits into the whole stocking. There are also a couple of gold lazy daisies. I am likely to add more of them.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Advent Calendar Link

I stumbled across this pattern for an advent calendar on Allsorts blog. I don't expect to have time this Christmas for another project, but maybe for next year. If things work out, next year will be our first Christmas decorating our own home. The little envelopes could even be crazy quilted. :)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Stocking Detail 13

The heel section of this stocking is still pretty bare. I may need to add a bit more to it. The only thing on here now are these three little cross stitch flowers with detached chains added to fill them out.
The seam across the heel is wavy. The fabric for the adjacent patch was cut extra long and then gathered. The wavy edge was then folded under and sewn down. I've used variegated silk floss to sew a chain stitch along the wavy edge to highlight the curves. Along the gathered side I added detached chains with red metallic floss. Fly stitches were then added in between the chains. Lazy daisy flowers in metallic gold floss peek out along the heel side of the seam.