While working on a different project (punch needle embroidery) I had a minor textile collapse when the foundation fabric shredded all the way through. Eeeeek! Although I knew what I had to do--patch it--I have been putting it off for days. I've never had to patch anything before and it was intimidating.
This morning, after a bit of tangling and a lot of meditation, I took on the task and as with many intimidating things, in actual practice it was easier than I thought. And I learned a lot.
Things I Learned:
No need to draw on the patch first, or to pin it in place. It can be done by "feel." I did lengthen the loop length by 1 (went up from a 2 to a 3). Go slowly, be prepared to back up a bit if needed. Check how it looks on the other side frequently. Afterwards, be ready to clean up well, and trim off the extra. Here are the steps (sorry I didn't take a "before" picture). Imagine a blank spot with no punching and holes in the fabric where the patch now sits:
Well of course as I was patching this up I was thinking of all the times I've screwed up in other life issues and had to try to make repairs. Oftentimes it's been quite successful. Occasionally, not.
Don't we all have to patch things up in relationships from time to time? Seems like the guidelines are the same: You cannot plan everything perfectly in advance, although you have to think things through. Then, you have to do it by "feel," going slowly and being prepared to back up occasionally. Checking frequently with the other person to see how it's going, and if it's successful (not always or immediately guaranteed), cleaning up afterwards by following through. Finally, it really helps to learn from our mistakes by analyzing what worked well and what we could have done differently.
If only we as humans could get better at patching things up. Especially in this very messy scary world right now. Someone once said, "Life is the art of drawing without an eraser." And yet--even with no eraser--it is often possible to keep going and turn a mess into an eventual triumph. Let us hope we can do that in the current situation. May we all treat each other with respect, compassion, and generosity.
If you're a runner, you'll certainly recognize what this refers to.
(The dime is just there to indicate the size of the piece)
I punched this with Valdani thread as a prototype for a friend who wants to learn to punch. This teeny piece is relevant to a project she is creating. Before I teach her, though, I needed to figure out the right tools to loan her. She will be punching many small pieces for her project and I wanted to make it as easy on her hands as possible. After a few hours of testing various threads and needles, I think I've got it worked out. A little textile mystery that was a very fun experiment.
Well shame on me--it took me weeks to get around to just putting a hem on this but I got it done today and it was extremely easy and quick. I don't know what took me so long. Nice to have this done at last. 9" x 20" hemmed.
This is what happens when I run out of black Micron 01s and still want to tangle. Spynes, which I tried for the first time yesterday, is a really fun tangle for experimentation--I couldn't resist this second try.
The Stone House Runner is nearly done; just the usual finishing steps left. Here it is:
And here it is, my current punchneedle embroidery project. You've seen the progress in the past few posts, from the beginnings to the middle and now it's about 2/3's done.
This is a relatively large project. It will be 9"x20" when completed.
Slowly but surely I am getting there; punch by punch by punch. There will be thousands of punches by the time I reach the end.
In meditation, we go breath by breath. I often think I was well prepared for meditation by the textile pieces I did as a teenager, so many years ago. Stitch by stitch, breath by breath. Cultivating an ability to stay with each moment, with each stitch. With each breath.
I have more done than this shows, but to make a better photo, I had to cut out some of the parts that are partly-done but mostly-undone. This is the Stone House Runner in progress (from The Old Tattered Flag, links in my previous post), a punchneedle embroidery pattern using cotton Valdani threads. I haven't cleaned this up in any way yet so it's still raggy-looking but it's coming along. It's also the reason I haven't been drawing--I've been obsessed with getting this underway.
It's a pure pleasure to be punching this piece.
(There are a lotta p's in that last sentence, eh?)
Another new project, with all the excitement of a new beginning. This piece is one I've had my eye on making for years, literally...it's called the Stone House Runner and it's also from Old Tattered Flag. Julie, one of the owners, is such a great designer. You can get this as a punch needle embroidery piece OR as a full-sized stunning rug design. At some point, despite wanting to focus on my own designs, I may also want to make this as a rug because it's so beautiful. Here you are just seeing a small part of the entire design. I've put off punching this for 5+ years and now is the time.
Beginning again with projects brings so much excitement. Unless, that is, I have to pull something out and totally re-do something (start over), in which case it can bring another emotion entirely, one that's less fun.
Still, I'm reminded of that most basic instruction in meditation: When the mind wanders, just notice that, and begin again. Without judgement. Oh yes, that's the hardest part: without judgement! Both in meditation and when re-doing a project at work or in a hobby or in art.
And yet, there is always, always something fresh and interesting when we start over/begin again. Always something to learn. As I practice this in both meditation and art, I get enormous pleasure from those learnings. Just as I am with this new piece. It's excitement AND contentment, all rolled into one.
The birds they sing at the break of day...'Start again,' I hear them say.
Why "done but not finished?" Because this is the piece that I'll be using to demonstrate finishing at the class I'm giving a couple of friends on punchneedle embroidery. The punching is done; the finishing will wait for the class.
If you look at this sample, there are some loose threads that have popped up on the front and need to be trimmed. That's one part of finishing a piece. On the back, which can't be seen here, there are many loose ends to trim. And there are two other major finishing techniques waiting to be done--I'll use this sample to demo at the class.
This pattern is GREAT for beginners--not only do you learn to punch, but there's some additional hand embroidery involved (the red petals on the echinacia flower), plus the border is punched using a deeper height on the needle, which gives newbies a chance to see what punching much longer loops will feel like. The design is simple enough for a beginner. This is the Old Tattered Flag's design called Under the Blooms. You can even buy it as a kit with all the threads required. Highly recommended if you want to learn punchneedle embroidery, or if you plan to teach it.
In just a few weeks I'm going to be teaching two good friends how to do punch needle embroidery. They are both ordering kits from The Old Tattered Flag in New York. One has ordered a kit called "Under the Blooms," so I am making up the kit in order to have an actual finished model for them to examine.
Here we have the start--the two crows under what will eventually be an echinacea plant. Since students always have a lot of questions about proper spacing and about frames, needles, threads, it'll be useful for them to have something real to inspect and should prompt even more questions. A very good thing. And I am enjoying the process as usual. This particular textile art is totally relaxing.
Hot off the punchneedle--this is a small piece (5"x15") I just finished last night and steamed this morning. It's ready for hemming. Every bit of the punching was enjoyable. The pattern is called Cupboard Flowers from The Old Tattered Flag, and I punched it in Valdani cotton thread, doubled, using an UltraPunch medium needle on a #2 setting.
Julie Thomas is such a good designer, and I deeply appreciate her creativity and color planning. Sometimes , in these stressful times, all one can do is sit down and do something simple, designed by a kind talented person who makes it easy to complete. Thank you, Julie.
I do love punch needle embroidery. This is my wildly different interpretation of The Old Tattered Flag's Dutch Tulip Pattern. I needed to be doing something that was meditative during the last couple of weeks, and this fit the bill.
I have two partly-finished textile projects underway. One is the punch needle embroidery piece above (this is a partial photo of the edge of the piece--just a teaser). I'm liking it a lot.
The other is a rug. I'm getting pretty close to finishing the rug, but don't want to show it until it's done. There's quite a story behind it and I look forward to sharing that.
And I just finished punching a 16" square piece that will become a pillow. As soon as I get it into the pillow form, I'll reveal that one as well. Lots of textile work going on around here. Feels good.
Antique Coverlet, a pattern by The Old Tattered Flag. I did this in red and beige hand-dyed cotton last spring, and this spring I thought i'd try it again in brown and beige hand dyed wool, using an Ultra Punch needle, medium tip, set on 2. This was great fun and I'm still debating how best to display it.
To contrast this version to the previous version, click HERE.
I'm working on two mammoth projects, neither of which is related to textiles or drawing. Alas. So not much artwork can be done for awhile. But I am sneaking in occasional minutes to do a little of each on the sly, and here is the progress of my textile work, a punch needle embroidery I've been working on.
This is a partial photo as only half of the center is done. I am truly missing my art work but I know I need to put my nose to the grindstone (where DID that expression come from?) and work at the other projects until they are done. Although I suspect I'll have the occasional jailbreak along the way, in rebellion.
I have managed to grab a few minutes here and there for some creative work, which feels wonderful. Not enough, however!
Here are some of the things that have been accumulating.
This is the result of a short voice-guided meditation class with Molly Hollibaugh of Zentangle®. She took us through three voice-guided tiles last Saturday in a two-hour workshop. This tile was the first one that we did. All of us heard the exact same verbal instructions, yet look at the mosaic below--it's always so interesting to see how people interpret things on their own.
On a totally other track, I am doing some punch needle embroidery and here is the progress on the piece so far. The entire piece is about 9"x9" and you can see the start of it in my previous post. It is very different than the one I did exactly a year ago (same piece, different colors and I did it in cotton last time; this is wool).
It feels so good to sneak in some creative work. Makes all the difference to me...
Ahhhhhh...I can feel a giant sigh of relief as I begin this 9"x9" piece on my punch needle frame. While I knit every night, and that in itself is calming, there is nothing like textile work--punch needle or traditional rug hooking--for relieving creative tension. A dilemma which had been building for days because of too many other obligations.
How is it that just the feel of cloth or thread moving through my hands brings such a sense of release and equanimity? It works like a charm for me and for so many other textile artists.
I did the same pattern last year in another colorway with cotton (Valdani) threads, but I know I'm going to prefer it this way, done in wool. What is it about wool? I love it.
Art has to do with the arrest of attention in the midst of distraction. (Saul Bellow)
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I bought three t-shirts, each with a different design I absolutely adored. Each one was like a mandala to me.
[Ok, so it was actually only 2 1/2 hours' drive from here and only about 20 years ago. But I do love these t-shirts.]
Slowly but surely they are all starting to wear out. I got the idea to use the designs for a series of 3 punchneedle embroidery pieces (see the other two designs below), and have just completed the last of the trio. The designer, Rob McLellan, gave his t-shirt designs titles, and the title of this one is "Elksong." Many thanks to the folks at University Silkscreen for giving me permission to interpret these designs in my needlework. I'm really happy to finally be able to share what I've been working on all summer.
Below are the two previous works in my series, Midnight Pony and Redwing Blackbird. Rob McClellan was an artist who lived in Ohio in the late 20th century. He died in a car accident around 2005. A fascinating man, he was adopted by the Cheyenne Tribe and much of his art reflects that.
A HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE TO ALL
(in the northern hemisphere)
This was my way of celebrating the Solstice and our gorgeous weather. I took ten skeins of fingering-weight yarn, each ten ounces, and dyed around the color wheel using the Wooly Mason Jar Dyeing Technique. Below they look even better, dried and rolled into yarn cakes.
This is the first time I've ever dyed the entire color wheel in one go.
I was trying for variegated yarn, which I prefer. I didn't succeed with the three primary colors (check out the evenly-dyed red, yellow and blue skeins at one o'clock, five o'clock, and nine o'clock), but I adjusted my method and am very happy with the variegation in the other nine skeins. I'll be using this technique to dye for my punch needle embroidery work, and also for future rug hooking.
Thank you Lucy Richards! (originator of this technique) Lucy should be canonized for answering all my dumb questions up to this point. Unfortunately I'll undoubtedly be sending more dumb questions her way in the future. But what fun, and I think I've finally gotten the hang of this. It can only build my confidence for future dyeing adventures.
If you read the previous post titled "A Good Yarn With a Sad Story," you'll know that a few days ago a friend and I took a very confused-looking cone of wool yarn from WEBS, carefully turned it into skeins, and made it glamorous.
Well, I went back to WEBS for more of the Sad Story yarn, because there was just one cone of fingering-weight yarn that I knew would be perfect for punch needle embroidery. And if you didn't already believe me about the sign on the shelf, here is a photo of it:
Unbelievably, the cone that I bought was in even sadder shape than the cone my friend had bought last week. Here is my cone on the shelf as I saw it:
It was this very yarn that I turned into the color wheel above.
I know it's much happier now. Me too.
The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with base notes, or dark lake with the treble.
Two of my good buddies have been wanting to learn Zentangle®, so I went over to their place and did a class today. They did great--have a look at these results:
Really well done.
Of course, I forgot the handouts I had carefully prepared and printed before the class. It's been about two years since I have had a chance to teach tangling, mostly because of buying a house, packing, moving, unpacking, and then the Great Broken Wrist Adventure.
So it was truly wonderful to be able to refresh my teaching skills today with kind friends. Mind you, I have NO idea what they thought about it, but I sure had fun, and am delighted with their results. I hope they are also.
Much of what I've been doing in the last month involves embroidery with punchneedle and wool yarns. Unfortunately, I can't really show it here because the designs I'm using, both of which came off t-shirts I own, are not mine and I can't reach the artist for permission. But I'll show a portion of one of them...the back end of a horse. Here it is. I am really in love with working with wool yarns (these are lace weight and/or sock yarns) in my punchneedle.
The pink-ish background is a single ply hand-dyed Malabrigo lace weight yarn. Really the possibilities are endless since sock and lace-weight yarns come in so many colors now.
One of the best things about this is that I can try out rug designs in punchneedle first, before going ahead with the dyeing for a large rug only to discover that the colors or the design are not working. Better to find that out in a small punchneedle piece than after spending money for wool yardage or expensive wool rug yarn.
After weeks of playing peek-a-boo, leaves are exploding on the trees here. Yesterday I could see houses clearly through the trees in my backyard. This morning when I looked out, all I could see was leaves. Overnight.
Of course, it's not actually overnight as budding and growing has been happening for weeks, but something in the weather of the last few days has caused an explosion of leaves from their buds. They are so green, tender, and beautiful.
I haven't deserted the blog; my lack of entries is only due to the fact that I have been focused on punch needle embroidery and am working on two large projects that I haven't been able to get permission to show. The designer is dead, unfortunately, and I've no idea how to get in touch with his estate. I'm still working on it.
But since I'm teaching a Zentangle® beginner's class in two weeks, I'm now focusing on that. I found out today that the class is full and has a waiting list. I warmed up this morning with the typical beginner's tile (including tangles always taught and one frequently taught in a first class. If was fun to go back to basics.
I'd hoped to use my new projector and ipad for teaching this time, but in trying them out over the last couple of days, I've been unable to make them work well. Argh! I'll figure it out.
My "beginner tile" above was done while I was holding up the projector with my left hand and tangling with my right. Talk about awkward...even so, I could feel myself slipping into the meditative state found when doing Zentangle.
Next I decided to try a new tangle:
The main tangle here is called Safflower, by Sarah Fowler. This is my (mis-)interpretation of her stepouts. Does not look anything like hers, but that's ok. Done with a Micron 01 and graphite on an Apprentice Tile. I snuck some Mooka in on the lower right and bordered it with a few dots. Shading was...a challenge!
The Diva Challenge in mid-April involved two of my favorite tangles, Shattuck and Tripoli. A "duotangle." (Click on that link for eye candy--scroll down to the bottom of her blog for the location where everyone posts their response to her challenge) Here's my response. You really never know what will happen when you sit down to tangle, as this just proves. This one's just...odd. I like it though. Other than the two tangles requested for the challenge, the tile includes random linework.
I can't express how good it feels to be tangling again after several weeks of working on other art. Tangling has a unique place in my heart. Rug hooking can be so relaxing and meditative. Ditto with any type of drawing. Punch needle embroidery is also extremely relaxing. But tangling just takes me to another place, a quiet place, a place of focus and calmness. And it happens almost as soon as my pen hits the paper.
"The last time I checked, it was still legal to take long, deep breaths."
It seems Spring is scarce as hen's teeth around here. It comes and then goes just as quickly. Fortunately last Saturday we had one glorious spring day, coinciding with our rug hooking meeting in Connecticut at Ann's farmhouse. The weather and sun smiled upon us; all of us were able to attend, and we had a blast.
I have only a few pictures (since many of us have been working on the same projects for quite a long time) but they'll be worth seeing.
Well, of course--those of you who've been reading the rug hooking category of this blog will recognize Cheryl the Rug Rescuer's name and title. Yes, this is ANOTHER rug rescue by our intrepid colleague. I believe the designer's name is Denise Mitchell...see this close-up below:
Apparently Denise (if I have her name correct) was a rug hooking teacher who died recently. Before her death she designed and hooked most of this rug, but was unable to finish it. Another rug hooker who didn't feel able to tackle the job approached Cheryl, asking her to do complete it, and gave her the remaining wool for the rug. Cheryl accepted the challenge and is basically done with the hooking now. Someone else will take care of the binding, and then the rug will go to the woman who asked Cheryl to finish it. Denise, wherever she's currently existing, would be proud to see her rug completed. A better photo is below.
Elizabeth was punching away on this beauty:
And Kathleen had brought along this pattern to work on for the day (K is in the middle of two other very complicated gorgeous rugs, too large to carry around):
That's it for the rug photos, but wait until you see what is coming next. Ann, our hostess, brought out a hand-embroidered tablecloth that had us all drooling down our shirts. One of her relatives (grandmother? uh-oh, I can't remember) had begun this, and I think Ann prevailed upon an aunt to complete it. It is just stunning. I took lots of photos. Here it is:
Here are more photos of various motifs, and some close-ups. What a labor of love.
You may be wondering (but you probably aren't!!!), "Where's your rug?" My rug is so close to done that I've decided to wait until it is done to show the photo. Since I am moving at a snail's pace--too busy to work on it much--that could be another month, but I hope not. I'll try to get it done and on here sooner.
Instead, since Ann had been asking me about punchneedle, I did bring my latest punchneedle project. I finished it this morning. Still debating how to frame it. Below you can see the original tee-shirt I've had for at least ten years, if not more, with this design on the front. And next to it, my punchneedle version. The tee-shirt is fading, and I've loved this redwing blackbird image for so long that I cannot bear to lose it, so I wanted to immortalize it in punchneedle.
The one problem: I cannot find any contact information for the original artist, Rob McClellan. I believe I've traced him to Ohio, and have even found a gallery there that sells some of his work. But the most recent work they have is decades old. I wrote to the gallery to see if they could help me locate him, but they wrote back to say they have no idea how to do that. If anyone--anyone!--knows how to locate him (I suspect he may be long dead--I've found some photos of someone with that name on the internet but they too are decades old), PLEASE let me know. Clearly I did this for myself only and will not be selling or profiting in any way from the piece, but I would love to find him and thank him and credit him even more than I can by doing this.
A happy Spring to all. May it come, and stay for awhile, before the summer.
Oh, this was fun to do. It has been a long time since I've done any punchneedle embroidery, and I enjoyed every minute of this. I've done a lot of my own designs but when I saw this pattern by Lori Brechlin of Notforgotten Farm I just couldn't resist.
I recognize this sentiment as being universal to all rug hookers and rug punchers. Here's a shot of the piece before it was framed:
After all, a hooker can never have too much wool.
This morning, while waiting for news on The Big Project (which is dragging on and on...will I ever get a go-ahead?), I forced myself to tackle a Little Project I've put off for decades: Sorting through a huge pile of tangled, jammed-together embroidery threads.
I made a start. But it's a scary one.
I am now mired in "Lower Slobbovia," as my family used to refer to any wildly messy space. Have a look (but you may want to look away quickly):
And here's the scariest part: I could not fit all of Slobbovia in this picture. Even when using the "Panoramic" option on my iPhone, this is only HALF of its length! The rest of the mess is unseen and continues to the right.
(Slobbovia is a very large place.)
This was a first fast sort, using the ROYGBIV method (Red, Orange, Yellow, etc.) and dumping all the white, black, neutrals and un-categorizable color mixes on the far right.
Now I have to move on with another task, leaving the Lower Slobbovia thread-mess parked on my desk. I deliberately put it there because I know I cannot leave it there long. I'll be forced to deal with it. I've been postponing this for decades (yes, decades) and it's just ridiculous to have let it get so out of hand. Hopefully I can find a system that will enable me to store and find colors much more efficiently for future punch needle embroidery projects.
Speaking of which, my good friend Patt reminded me that I had designed and made this punch needle piece back in 2004 for her wedding. I'd forgotten it and appreciate having this photo for my gallery. Thanks, Patt, for sending this!
Anonymous quote which I should adopt as a motto:
"My room is not messy. It's an obstacle course meant to keep me fit."
Apparently I would rather do anything but straighten out the ghastly mess of embroidery threads crammed together tightly in a bag (my so-called "method" for "storing threads" for punch needle embroidery). See my last post...Hah! It's all catching up to me now, and I'm avoiding, avoiding, avoiding...hence I'm writing two posts in one day.
I just finished this embroidery last week, but haven't begun to think about the framing for it yet:
I bought the pattern around 2011 from the Paisley Studio in New York state, and completed the bird that same year--and then dropped it. As I've been saying for a while now, punch needle embroidery projects are keeping me sane while I'm waiting to find out whether I'm going to be starting The Big Project (stay tuned for more on that). Since The Big Project will take up all my time for months to come, I'm afraid to start any serious textile work so I'm basically knitting and punching tiny pieces.
Thus I am finishing up all the half-done work from the last several years. Two weeks ago I pulled out this piece and began to think about a background. Below is Sarah's initial photo that came with the pattern:
I admired her technique and colors. I stuck to exactly what she did, with none of my usual tendency to make changes. The big difference is in the eye of the birds--my bird looks a lot more surprised than hers! That's the difference in how we each handled the eye. Her bird looks meditative--mine looks a lot less settled, right?
The work was so much fun, but once I had it complete I could see it needed a background around it if I were going to frame it. So five years after finishing the bird, I finally punched the background using Valdani cotton thread. I'm pleased with the results, although in my own photograph above I notice that many subtle colors in the background simply do not show. It looks like a much "busier" background in the photograph than it does in person.
Sarah has an Etsy site HERE. I don't see any punch needle embroidery patterns on it as I'm writing this, but that doesn't mean she doesn't still sell them. Check with her if you are interested.
I loved her title for this piece, "Through My Window," and enjoyed thinking about being able to see a bluebird out my own window as I punched. It would never happen where I live now!
To round this off, here are some bluebird quotes. I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the last two...
A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.
Edwin Way Teale
The bluebird carries the sky on his back.
Henry David Thoreau
An optimist is someone who figures that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's the bluebird of happiness.
The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society