Adrastea

Phase 1 of this fabric concertina is complete: the initial stitching together of layers on each panel. Threadcrumbs patches were stitched to their backing and the very thin dyed cloth was stitched to a gauze backing for more substance. I used metallic thread, blue for the what I’m considering the front and gold for the back. Although I hesitated about it due to the gaudy bling factor, it’s done now. The configuration is set as shown below, although there might still be tweaks required. I think it’s a nice balanced layout that will “read” interestingly when assembled as a concertina. Phase 2 will be embellishing some or all of the panels with stitched motifs. I’m thinking mostly thread beads representing seeds, but maybe some seedlings too.

While stitching, I think about the book, the title, how I feel about it, what it’s trying to convey. The working title had been Blizzard of Seeds, which was the packet name from the threadcrumbs shop. The theme is early spring and the juxtaposition of snow, melting, greenery poking up here and there. Kind of astringent, bitter, and maybe dreamy too.

While looking for the names of the moons by month online, I stumbled instead on a baby name generator. Under names that mean moon, the first listed was the Greek name Adrastea. It’s the name of one of the moons of Jupiter and means “inescapable.” I liked it well enough to use as a working title for now.

Randa stitch

This is a mini tutorial for the randa embroidery stitch I used for the concertina joins. The joins look great on both sides! I used a variegated Valdani pearl cotton thread.

I learned this stitch from a YouTube video, not in English:

316-Decorative joining of two edges with needle(Randa embroidery) By Sushma’s Craft and Creations

The steps:

The first three steps are to get started. I didn’t take pictures; maybe I’ll update this post later because it’s much easier to show than explain.

Side A is on my right, and Side B is on my left. I keep the gap quite small when taking the first three stitches. After the pattern is established, it’s easy to maintain the same amount of space.

1) first anchor the thread on Side A. Come in from back with a knotted thread. Take another stitch from front a few millimeters away, same side. Bring thread up through the center of the loop created.

2) take the first stitch on Side B coming in from the backside and wrapping thread over the needle before pulling through. This leaves a little knot and a teeny single thread bridge in the gap area between the sides.

3) take the needle under the thread bridge (right side, near Side A). Wrap thread over needle before pulling through.

From here, the pattern is established and next four steps are repeated as long as necessary.

4) take a stitch on Side A and wrap the thread over the needle before pulling through.

5) insert the needle through the left hand loop in the gap, near Side B. Sometimes the loop sinks down and is hard to see, but I usually found it clearly visible. Wrap thread over needle before pulling through.

6) I found it helpful to turn the piece a quarter turn to the right before taking this stitch, probably because I’m right handed. Take a stitch on Side B and wrap thread over needle before pulling through.

7) last of the four stitch pattern. Rotate the work back a quarter turn to the leftb. Insert needle through the right hand loop in the gap, near Side A. The loop may be a little harder to see than in Step 5. Wrap thread over needle before pulling through.

The four-way rhythm of the stitching becomes hypnotic and the work moves quickly up the seam. Just remember to always wrap the thread over the top of the needle before pulling through.

The finished book:

Other joining stitches: http://dig.henryart.org/embroidery-stitches/class&usage_nav_pages/join_stitches.htm

Xenotopias — progress

I am really happy to be getting closer to a finished concertina book, titled “Xenotopias.” The name came from Rob Macfarlane’s book The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. It means strange or foreign places.

The book started with patchwork squares depicting landscapes. Developed for practice stitching curves in Jude Hill’s Patchwork in Perspective class. Most of the scraps came from a big bag of scraps purchased from Deb Lacativa.

The next step was to assemble pages. This required a backing fabric to frame the squares, and an insert material for stiffness. The concertina should stand up when opened and turning the pages should be a soft but not floppy experience.

My first choices were a stiff muslin for the background and cut squares of cardboard mailers for the inserts. I made a few of these, but honestly it was a painful struggle. The muslin was really hard to stitch through. I could attach the patch through one layer easily enough, but trying to assemble the pages was really difficult. I bought a thimble. Didn’t really help. I went on vacation, got sick, then the holidays, then a spurt of crochet projects. A nagging feeling that I’d abandoned the project.

Meanwhile the urge to dye kicked in and I dyed some white lightweight cotton with walnuts. On a whim, I laid out some patchwork squares on this dyed piece. Eight squares fit with a small but adequate seam allowances. A way forward!

In one evening, I stitched all eight squares onto their walnut-colored backing fabric with white silk thread. It took another day or two to stitch the squares into pages, right sides together, with a beige cotton thread that blended in. I chose a square of mull for the insert. (I bought mull after hearing about it on Jody Alexander’s Instagram as a stiffener for a fabric concertina.) It gave the right feel, more bendable than card yet holding its own when the book was standing on end.

So at last the final decision was how to join the pages. I’d saved a few Instagram posts of other people’s books with embroidered joins, but I wanted something a little fancier. I had learned a key term – “insertion stitch” – and a little YouTube browsing brought me to this video:

316-Decorative joining of two edges with needle(Randa embroidery) By Sushma’s Craft and Creations

I don’t understand most of the narration. Only a few words like “anti-clockwise” are in English. But I could follow the video well enough to recreate the join in a green variegated Valdani pearl cotton thread. I finished one join this morning. Two more and the book will be complete!

I couldn’t find any other tutorials on “randa embroidery” online, but I’d love to find out more about it. More ideas using this method of joining are percolating!

Started join using randa embroidery stitch

View of two squares being joined on my lap

Finished join – squares not aligned that well! There’s always room for improvement.

Habitable

  • They didn’t suit me after all
  • Revisions
  • Long division
  • Adjusting to new territory
  • Adjusting

Titles auditioning for my art piece in progress. It will be made of 20 pieced squares representing landscapes.

The titles came to mind during a long walk through the preserve, then down Point Road to Cross Road. They are noted in reverse chronological order.

I like “Habitable” the best. Or maybe “Habitability.” I find it amazing how the mind ruminates and rummages around and eventually comes up with a title that pulls it all together.

The project may take the form of a wall hanging or a concertina book. Also thought about a table cloth.

Lots to do.

Shibusa saga

I lost blogging momentum as many pleasant late summer activities took precedence. Now it’s October 1st and time for an update on the shibusa felting adventure.

Batch of 10 stitched prefect sandwiches – side A

Batch of 10 stitched prefect sandwiches – side B

Preparing for eco printing – sumac leaf and berries

Preparing for eco printing – tansy

Bundles ready to immerse in a rhubarb root dye bath

Another bundle using dyer’s coreopsis flowers

Results are quite brassy and antique-looking

Dyed stones

Another view of the dyed squares

Another dyeing session – a steam bath

Nine dyed squares, plus Nicola’s pale green one

Testing out different arrangements for assembly

Assembled – side A

Assembled – side B

With added shaping, scraps, and stitching plus some supplemental wool – side A

With added shaping, scraps, and stitching plus some supplemental wool – side B

Submerged in hot water

Patch play

I laid out the two-inch patches and played with finding pleasing arrangements. I like some of these a lot and may stitch them together. Some are still a play-in-progress. My favorite part of this process might be the stitching together while pondering names for the piece. It takes time.

Hesitation: Jude is posting about adding more detail based on the grid. Tiny squares in the center and extra stitch detailing. I feel happy with the simple nine patches, but maybe I’d be even happier with more detail?

Blue and white.

Still playing with the rotation of some of these squares. I have an extra white square with blue streaks but can’t shoehorn it in. The piece demanded darkness in the center. I like how the lower center pieces make a shape that looks like a tornado.

Bronze Age moon.

Loving this unlikely color combination of the deep walnut and purple pieces with the lighthearted pinks and aquas. And that glowing peach moon.

I just stitched three of the Threadcrumbs moons into puzzle pieces today. I didn’t want to touch them, they seem so perfect unto themselves. But they really add extra dimension to the center of these patches.

  • Proud to say that some of these were dyed by me:
    • Top left from the “clearing in the woods” course with India Flint. I have leftovers. I don’t think I can explain how these colors came about, but it involved long steeping and plant matter and metal (probably iron) and a lovely piece of duppioni silk.
    • Aqua squares were dyed in a Suzanne Grosjean workshop. I think they are weld overdyed with indigo.
    • Dark bronze silk in the middle row also from a Suzanne Grosjean workshop. Black walnut.

    Finding gold.

    I wish I had more of that golden yellow, it’s so rich. This patch is like a summer meadow.

    Moon shadows.

    I originally had the purples scattered about, but it’s a hard color to coordinate. It seemed to lend a confetti-like aspect to everything it touched. So I grouped them all together with a moon. Nice. I feel contented when there is a symmetry to the colors like this. Disrupting it may be something to try?

    Shibusa felting

    I’m starting a new activity under the guidance of India Flint in the course being (t)here 2019: shibusa felting.

    The first step was to locate some roving. I was going to go to the yarn shop in Bangor, but before I could get there I found a sweet ball of it for sale at the Ellsworth Farmer’s Market by vendors Mountain Foot Farm.

    Then I made the pre-felts (shown below).

    Steps:

    • Lay out scraps of roving vertically, then horizontally, on a sushi mat
    • Garnish with a few bits of dyed mohair (optional – I have a bag of this and I’ve been looking for a way to use it!)
    • Roll around a length of pipe and secure with rubber bands
    • Soak in hot water
    • Roll back and forth on the marble countertop for a few minutes
    • Open and disentangle wool from pipe and mat. Lay it at a 90 degree angle and reassemble.
    • Roll a few more minutes.
    • Open and squeeze extra water out of prefelt. Do not wring!
    • Allow to dry.

    Then I chose fabric and threads to stitch as the front and back cover for the prefelts. So far I’m using:

    • Nicola’s gift of light green eco-dyed silk from South Africa
    • Pieces of eco-dyed silk scarf I made in Susan Smith’s workshop
    • Pieces of habotai silk dyed with bits of marigold and calendula from A Verb for Keeping Warm.
    • Threads from Beautiful Silks dyed by me. Red cabbage, maybe?

    So far I’ve stitched two. The silk-wool sandwich is lovely to stitch into, although I have to resist feeling that I’m making a potholder or a baby diaper.

    Will keep working and await the further installment of instructions from India Flint next new moon.