Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Friday, June 29, 2012

Examing the Queen Stitch

You will mostly all remember that when I began working on my American Sampler, I was completely terrified of the Queen Stitch.  I actually said if I messed them up again (as I have always done in the past) I was going to convert all the Queens to crosses.  I was even more intimidated when I saw Valerie's (Shenandoah Sampler) Queens.  They were perfect.  Sigh!  When it came time to bite the bullet and do them, I didn't look at a single one of my reference books.  I'd done that in the past and it had not worked out well.  And then, amazingly (really REALLY amazingly) I did them - and they came out (well not) perfect, but very nicely.  And a few of you have asked how I did that.

So, here I am going to examine the Queen Stitch in detail.  My Queen stitch.  I'm not saying this is HOW TO DO THE QUEEN STITCH (imagine voice of God) but this is how I did the Queen Stitch and it's been workin' for me. 

I have consulted my two most liked reference books for stitching - The Red Book of Sampler Stitches, Eileen J. Bennett, The Sampler House, 2003, p. 46-47 and Encyclopedia of Needlework, Donna Kooler, Leisure Arts Publications, 2000, p. 71.  I like these books because the 1st seems to be very knowledgeable and the second is knowledgeable and has great pictures.  For some of this stuff, you're just going to have to suffer through some of my hand-drawn directions below.

"Red Book" diagrams you start at the far right and work your way left overall.  The first two vertical stitches are held in place by horizontal stitches that go from far right to left.  Two verticals are done to the middle then the next two are worked from the middle to the left and this time the horizontal stitches are worked from the left toward center.  See drawing with numbers:

"Encyclopedia" also works from the right to the left, but each horizontal stitch is worked from left to right across - no switching in the middle.  It also seems to indicate that overall, you would start stitching your Queen stitch area in the left and work, filling the area to the right.  See drawing with numbers:


That's not what I did.  And maybe, just maybe, that's why they finally worked for me?

Queen Stitch, with Exceptions
First of all, I looked at where I wanted to go within the Queen stitch area.

Here in this first picture, you can see that I have another quadrant to complete.  We'll call these quadrants, NW, NE, SE and SW.  I need to stitch the SW quad.  I want to go toward the NE quad and then work my way back so I'm not traveling beneath and I don't constantly have to flip and hide my thread.  I have four Queen stitches that need to be done.  So, I want to stitch from the left side of the first Queen to the right.  I'm going to MIRROR the stitching in the diagram of the way I stitch.  I come up at 1 (the top of the entire stitch) and down at 2 (the bottom of the entire stitch).  Now, there are four holes across that I'll be working in.  For this example, they're hole 1, 2, 3 and 4 from left to right.  I want my first horizontal stitch to come up in hole 2 and go down in hole 1.  This way, I'm pulling the vertical thread where I want it to be instead of pushing it.  When you come up to do the horizontal stitch, don't pull the thread taut or it will be more difficult to place the stitch.  I just want to have a loop there that I can hook and I can snug things up a bit more as I finalize the stitch.

I come up and hook the vertical thread and swing over to go down in hole number 1

The first vertical set of four is complete.  I make the next vertical stitch only when I come up to do the horizontal stitch, I come up in hole 2 where I started the previous horizontal stitch.  That's because I can see where I've stitched better than I can see the linen.  The needle goes down in the center hole, two threads down from where the vertical stitches are starting from.  Sometimes I need to just nudge the thread over to the left or right so I can see where the horizontal thread came up to make sure I go over one thread of the linen and put the needle down.  On to the third vertical stitch - I do it the same way as the 2nd and for the same reason, I can see where I stitched and I can nudge the stitching thread over a bit to make sure I'm going down one thread of linen over.  When it comes to the 4th vertical stitch I complete the horizontal stitch by coming up on the inside and again, pulling the vertical thread to the outside to secure it where it is supposed to be.

Above you can see the completed Queen stitch.  I want to start the next one, moving toward the NE quad.  Where I ended the last Queen is going to be the bottom of this new Queen so I go up to the top and come down to the bottom to do my first vertical stitch.  Then go from the beginning again. 

Here is the second Queen completed.  Note that now the far right horizontal stitch is the top of the next Queen.  That's also where I stitched down on that one, so logically, I can't come up in the same place I just went down because that will pull the stitch out.  So I go to the bottom and create the first vertical stitch of the new Queen by going up.

Now all four "stitches' are done. 

All I did was basically stitch in a circle.  Truth to tell, I had to do these four the way I did because I'd come to the end of my thread and had to start a new piece.  Mostly when I'm stitching the Queens, I find it easiest to just do them in a row.  Once you get one Queen down and done right, she's sort of the guidepost for doing all the rest. 

I hope that I haven't made this as clear as mud.  The thing that I say you should keep in mind is where you are in the Queen area and where you want to go.  I'd let that guide me as to whether I start on the left or right.  I also found it most helpful to secure the two outermost vertical stitches by working their horizontal stitches from the inside out.  Some people may feel more comfortable securing those two outside stitches and then filling in the middle.

I say "stitches" because each Queen actually consists of  8 stitches.  I actually counted and there are a total of 1,378 Queen stitches in the American Sampler.  And, that's not counting the half Queens that help to shape each flower.  So, that's 11,024 stitches, by my count - plus!  The flower I'm working on here has 120 Queens all on it's own.   Oh, and just in case you didn't know, the Queen stitch is also called the Rococo stitch.  I much prefer "Queen". 

Please be sure to let me know whether I did this well or not.  If I helped you all, I'm really glad.  Otherwise, hope you enjoyed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Revisiting an Old Friend

There's trouble brewing on the horizon as I go out and take down the blankets and towels I left hanging on the clothesline overnite.  Thunderstorm is almost here, but will usher in cool, fresh air for a few days.  Sebastian follows me.  It really amazes me how attached he seems to be.  Most cats, you walk out the door and they could care less.  I can't leave the room without Sebastian
following to see what kind of hijinks I'll be up to next.

He's found a stick in the yard and begins playing with it.  Quickly tiring himself out.

Since I finished Opus Magnusson, I picked up American Sampler again.  It feels like I'm revisiting an old friend since I am  no longer intimidated by the multitude of Queen stitches.

Here is the most recent progress; I finished the motifs on one side, all the way down to the urn.  Now I'm working my way back up the other side having started with the urn.  And here's an urn closeup -

The urn is worked in Florentine stitch and I thoroughly enjoyed stitching that.  You can see the outer border beginning to take shape in Rice stitch.

Here is what it looks like over all (a little droopy).

Turns out when I was stitching the strawberry flowers, I made a mistake.  I actually stitched them like strawberry flowers.  Turns out on the chart, each of them have four lavender spots.  Not sure yet whether I'll go back and put the lavender in.  I have also still not decided what verse or information I will put in the car touche below the arch.  There's plenty of time to decide, I think. 

Had some fun this weekend.  While my husband and I were out running an errand, we came upon a community yard sale.  This was a sweet find - for only two dollars:

Yeah, they're prestamped, but after working on the kit for The Chase sampler, I decided that pre-stamped wasn't SO bad.  The color scheme of soft pinks and sage greens is very 80's though.  The blocks are about 12 inches.  Only six come in a package so I am clearly not going to be able to make a quilt with them.  However, all six, or even just three, will make a nice table runner or table topper.  So that will eventually make it into the rotation.  Fun, huh?

Oh, and I also came up with another find (not pictured, but if you want me to in another post, I will).  You remember I got a new car?  Well the console goes up the center all the way, into the dash, so there's no place to put or hang a trash bag.  In my minivan I had a beautiful stitching tin that I would line with a grocery bag and that was my trash container.  So, a girlfriend (thanks Cheryl!!)  gave me the idea last week to use some sort of plastic container with a lid.  One of the yard sales I stopped at had a Tupperware bread keeper - with a snap-shut lid.  For another 2 bucks, I got it, came home, put a bag in it over the lip, snapped the lid shut and now I have a trash container that will sit on the floorboard on the passenger side, or the back, and if it falls over, no big deal - the trash will still stay inside!  Brilliant!

So, that's it from the thundery Eastern Panhandle.  Hope you enjoyed!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stitching Along

We've had some bumps in the road the last couple of weeks, but I've been stitching through them as (we all know) it is therapy.  I'm trying to be careful about my diet and trying to get more exercise as well; trying being the operative word.  I'll find out if I'm being successful when I go see the Dr. next month.

Anyhoo - here's what I've been up to -

More blocks on the Path to the Civil War:



Devil's Puzzle



Nine Patch Checkerboard

Both Opposition and Connecticut were meant to be cut out using templates according to the instructions in the book.  I measured the angles of the triangles and did things differently.  For Opposition, I cut the six small 30 degree triangles then attached them to scraps that were long enough to extend out as far as I needed.  Sewed it all up and squared it up to 12.5 inches.  pretty much the same with Connecticut, although, different angles.  Also, used full squares to make Nine Patch Checkerboard - except for the four corners.  This time, I cut the square down, but it was still missing its corners.  I used the triangles that were the product of squaring-up to sew on as the corner ('cause they're smaller at the corners than at the sides).  Savvy quilters will see that I lost a couple of my points on Mosaic.  Alas, my perfect mojo seems to have deserted me.

I've also been working on this; I'm calling it my Hexie Project:

I saw a piece on Sewing with Nancy, this Texas quilt artist - a man - was doing these full size quilts.  He'd learned the technique from the book One Block Wonders.  His quilts were astonishing!  And I thought, oh, I have to try that.  He used large scale prints to come up with his quilts.  Do you know it is not easy to find large scale prints these days?  But I found this:

I quite like the colors and this is the fabric that so far, I've made those six hexies with.  I do not plan to make a full size quilt.  I'm going for a table runner.

Then, there's this:

A friend of mine found it at a yard sale and bought it for me.  Isn't she sweet?  I quite like the design on the cover.  The quilts are meant to be made from scraps no bigger than five inches.  I have quite a lot of scraps and even if I don't make a full size quilt, I can do another table runner just to play.

Finally, I had a little retail therapy.  This one was a gift from my husband.  We'd gone in search of a yard sale a friend had told me about that had lots of stitching and sewing stuff.  We didn't find that, but we found a church sale.  Those can be quite wonderful.  And I was walking along and here was this older couple and she had this box on the table and I went WHOA!  I asked her how much, she told me and I said, can you wait on that for me?  She nodded.  I turned around and scanned the crowd, saw my husband, flagged him over and he came over to me saying "Did you see that on the table?"  I said yes and asked if I could have it.  Now, I'm not the demure, submissive wife, not by a long shot.  I didn't have the funds, that's all.  He asked me if it was a good price and I said yes.  He asked me if I wanted to haggle and I said no.  The price was that good.  So, I turned around and said to the lady, I'll take it!  And here it is -

It's a Singer, 1956, Model 99.  I have been doing a little research on it.  It's not a Featherweight.  They call it a 3/4 size.  I haven't run it yet, but if it doesn't run, I'm sure my husband or my shop can make it run quite well.  I've wanted one of these for quite some time.  That nice lady, she was sort of sad to see it go.  She told me they'd bought it in 58 or 59 - she couldn't remember which, but it was right after they got married.  Her husband was quite happy to wrap it up and hand it off to my husband - no emotional attachment there.  I gave the money to her though.  Just to make the pain of parting a little easier.

So, that's it.  Hope you enjoyed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'm Done on Several Fronts; Moving Ahead on Others

I have finally finished Gabe's quilt. It came back from the quilter about a month ago.  She did a wonderful job.  I really can't say enough good things about her work.  I often tell her that she takes a sow's ear and turns it into a silk purse.  At left is an awful picture of what the quilt looks like - overall - on the front.

Now here's the long story about the picture...  10 years ago I had ankle surgery because I'd managed to lacerate all the ligaments on the right side of my foot.  So I have some eyebolts in my leg, just above the ankle where everything was reattached.  The other day I was walking down the driveway and the cat meowed at me from the top of the drive.  I did not want him to follow me down to the road, so I was looking to see where he was.  I was paying more attention to the cat than where I was walking and I "walked" sideways off the edge of the driveway which is about a 4" drop.  And my ankle started to go out in the direction that I know it is not supposed to go.  I then threw myself to the left and crashed down onto the blacktop.  I really hurt my left leg because the jeans I had on at the time have these brass buttons on the outside of the leg and they gouged and scraped on the outside of my left calf.  But, I thought my ankle was OK.  I went all day yesterday doing all sorts of chores and grocery shopping and no problem.  Last night it hurt a bit, but no biggy.  This morning I was limping on it.  So, my husband got my boot out of the basement and I'm back in it.  Hopefully the boot will stabilize the ankle long enough for it to feel better.  If not better in a few days, I'll have to go see a orthopedist and see if I've done it again.  So, for now I'm mucking around in the boot and it's not easy because something's been going wrong with my left knee over the last few weeks.  I have a feeling I'm going to the orthopedist one way or the other, but I'm trying to put it off.  So, can't hobble down to the clothesline and hang the quilt up and take a really decent picture - that will have to happen soon as I'm more mobile.  Next picture shows you what the quilting looks like on the front.  It's done in a really gorgeous saffron yellow.

And here's what that saffron yellow ends up looking like on the back -

It was Bettie's idea - as soon as she heard me call this the "Pirate Quilt" to use this pantograph.  We went through several different colors of thread, but finally landed on the yellow because of how nice it looked on the red of the back.

So the quilting helps support the "Pirate Quilt" theme - and so does this -

The pirate hat with scull and cross bones.  I tried to make it look NOT scary.

So, that's that finished.  I'll get it organized in a box soon as I have several things I need to ship out to them.

Here's my other finish:

Opus Magnusson and the gajillion trefoils in the border.  I'm quite happy with it.  In the end I ran out of Gentle Art Tiger Lily (green) and had to substitute with some Weeks Moss.  It's almost a perfect match in color, it just lacks the yellow of Tiger Lily.  Methinks that Tiger Lily is a discontinued color; I'll have to check on the GA website about that.  EDITED:  No, it was introduced in 2010 and is not discontinued.  Now I have to pull my invoices and give the final count of how many of each color I used.  That's on the back burner for now though.  This piece, I have decided, I will make into a wall hanging.  It's really big - about two and a half feet square, so would cost me an arm and a leg to frame - and then another arm and leg to ship to Seattle.  So, if I do it as a wall hanging, I will be able to roll it up and pack it in my suitcase when we go to visit the kids next year.  Thus saving all my arms and legs for another time.

And I've been working on the Civil War reproduction quilt, having finished several more blocks:

Four Square, above, was easy piesy - again.  I cut out all the blocks, the same size as the red ones.  Then sewed them all together like I did on the album block and then cut the whole thing down to size.  No tricky triangles!  This one helped me make up some of the time I lost on the more complicated blocks before it.

 Homefront, above, however, was a four-hour block.  The "petals" are appliqued and although it is simple, it is big and fiddly with the placement - since the book does not provide a placement template on the 13.5 inch square.

Cartwheel, above, WAS simple, but I made it difficult on myself by sewing the red and black parallelograms together - leaving me with set-in seams to do the rest.  But, that's my fault for doing it wrong.

Finally, Log Cabin.  Simple block, right?  Yeah, but it took a long time to cut all those pieces out, then I had to lay them out on the table and do them in exactly the right order.  Took me the whole two hours and then some to do that one.  I had to be so exact with the cutting, because the darker ( and some of the lighter) fabric is limited and I can't cut more than I absolutely have to use - 'cause I'm afraid I'll run out.  On the Cartwheel block, I actually did run out - of the red fabric - and had to come up with something different.  Grrrrr.

There is one more all applique block and three more easy blocks to do.  Two of those easy blocks will help me make up the time I lost on the Homefront block, but I also have a basket block to do with the handle as applique.  So I'm afraid I'll end up going over my predicted hours on the whole.  Keep your fingers crossed I make no more dumb mistakes - I have a total of 20 more blocks to go!!!

Last, but not least, I am going to blow my own horn.  My DAR Regent asked me earlier this year to print out all the entries I'd made for our chapter blog.  As fellow bloggers, you'll know that is not easily done.  What I did was screen capture and then stitched together in my photo editor.  If anyone knows an easier way, please let me know, 'cause I'll have to do it again early next year.  Well my regent submitted the prints in a little notebook at the State Conference held last month.  We DAR ladies are very competitive!  My chapter held it's picnic earlier this week and the regent was telling us about all the awards we received at State Conference.  And the blog I do for the chapter was named best in the state!  I was SO pleased.  My chapter sisters give me an enormous hand in getting the blog done by getting information and pictures for me, so don't get the idea that I do it all on my own.  But it was awful nice to have it recognized as the best.

The regent and I are working on finalizing the official website for the chapter, so hopefully soon I'll be able to tell you all to check it out.  Until then - hope you enjoyed!