Monday, November 14, 2016

Basketweave Stitching

The basketweave stitch is one of the three tent stitches. They all look almost the same on the front, but they don't look the same on the back. It is good for filling in large areas of all shapes, though stitch diagrams often show this stitch as a neat square or a triangle.  It distorts the canvas very little and is just as easy to work in hand as in a frame.  You do not have to turn the canvas for each row.  The front of the work is a tent stitch, with each stitch covering a single intersection of the canvas from lower left to upper right.  On the back of the work, the basketweave looks like a woven fabric, with horizontal and vertical threads.  At the edges of the work and at the edges of areas of each color, the basketweave looks like a single row of the continental stitch.  You have to look very closely to see this, and it is not visible on all edges.

As you work the basketweave stitch, you bring your needle up at the lower left and go down at the top right of each stitch.  You will come up in an open hole and go down either in an open or shared hole.  On the back your threads are either over two horizontal or two vertical threads.  The exception is at the edges, where it looks like a single row of continental stitches.


This stitch diagram has each pass of the needle marked.  To make things more clear, I will mark an identical diagram, but just number each stitch in the order you should place them.


In this diagram, each stitch is numbered.  Bring your needle up at the number and go down to complete a tent stitch over a single intersection.


When you are working a row from the bottom to the top, this is the stitching order.  If you look at the back of the canvas, your threads are horizontal, crossing two threads of the canvas.  Most of the time a row like this is referred to an "up" row.  Up rows are more fun and easier for me to work.  I have to be careful to not pull my thread too tightly when working in this direction.


In this diagram, a "down" row has been indicated. The overall stitching direction is from the top to the bottom.  Your thread on the back will be vertical over two threads of the canvas.  Because of the angle of the needle, I find this row to be less fun to work.  It isn't any harder than going in the other direction and I don't have tension problems with this row.  Win some, lose some, I suppose.


Please remember that these up and down rows of stitches usually share canvas holes with other rows, leaving no empty intersections.   You bring your needle up in an empty hole and go down in a hole that is either empty or shared with another stitch.

When ending threads using the basketweave, the first impulse is to run the needle under the work at a diagonal on the back.  Please don't do this. It will leave a line you can see on the front.  Either go along the horizontal or the vertical when burying your ends on the back.  This will be much less visible on the front.  When you bury your thread on the diagonal, you are using a single row of stitching and disturbing that row.  When you go along the horizontal or vertical, you will be using a single stitch out of several rows each. I know that if you use the "other" diagonal, you won't be disturbing a single row of stitches, but it is easy to become confused or grow careless.

If you stop stitching at the end of a row, it is possible to do two up rows or two down rows one next to the other.  This is not a good idea as you will find a diagonal line becomes visible on the front of your stitching.  If you stop stitching in the middle of a row, you will find that it is easier to start up again in the correct direction.  It is also easier for me to end my threads neatly.

This was plenty for me to keep sorted out as a beginning basketweave stitcher and if you have grasped this much, you will be producing some good work.  For the ultimate in basketweave, you should be paying attention to whether or not the top thread of the canvas intersection is horizontal or vertical.  If the top canvas thread is crossing in the vertical direction, you should be in the midst of stitching a down row.  Your thread on the back will be vertical.  If the top thread is crossing horizontally, you should be stitching an up row with horizontal threads on the back.  Fortunately, you establish this pattern with your first stitch and every other stitch should fall correctly,  without you having to check every single stitch.  This is also a useful way to keep track of where you are when jumping from one area to another and when starting and stopping rows.

If you need to make a shape other than a square or triangle in basketweave, you simply don't turn and go back for the next diagonal on the same row or column of the canvas threads.  On a doodle canvas, try filling in some circles.  You should not be placing your first stitch at the very top, but more to the right and slightly down.  Your first stitch will then not be a singleton, but will be one of a row, going up or down, depending on where you started.  Remember to avoid long tails of thread on the back when you move from row to row.

If your shape has very long, skinny areas, you may find yourself trying to stitch a single row or line in basketweave.  You will immediately see that you produce the continental stitch.  That's correct.  You cannot stitch a line of single stitches traveling horizontally or vertically using basketweave.  If you are working on the diagonal for lines that are a single stitch wide, you may want to use the basketweave for the \ rows and a backstitch for the / rows.  Do not turn your canvas sideways for diagonal rows of a single stitch.  Try to always work in a right to left and top to bottom pattern similar to writing a page of text.

I find it is better to work both background and pattern together, rather than filling in all of the pattern first and then doing the background.  Hold your canvas up to a strong light and try to look through it to check for missing stitches.  Basketweave and continental each use up about the same amount of thread.  The general rule is one and one half yards for each square inch of stitching.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Coloring Books

I used a Christmas gift card to purchase some adult coloring books. Then, I took my books to an office supply store with a printing area and had them cut the spines off. About $2 per cut. Since all my books were the same size, it could be done with a single cut, saving even more money. They have a massive, guillotine style paper trimmer, with a vise built in and a motor driving the blade. The gentleman doing my cuts has a GF who has him trim her coloring books for her, so he took the least amount of spine. Some of my pages were still in folio format.

I can work on one sheet of paper at a time. I don't worry about messing up the other sheets, and I am not fighting the valley of a paperback book.

Go me!




Friday, April 22, 2016

Colored pencils!

I have fallen victim to the latest craze of adult coloring. Being me, I've gone out and done some research on how to color. Yes. I really did research.

Here are the websites where I gathered information that I found to be useful.

  • Dickblick.com  You will have to scroll to the bottom to find the videos that are tutorials on colored pencils. 
  • Elfwood.com   More text than graphics, but lots of useful information. Was I absolutely wowed by his finished graphic? I wasn't sure it was finished. 
  • Art is Fun  This one is a brief, direct, useful set of instructions. They also include links to more information and some very good instruction books. 
  • The Virtual Instructor Comparison chart of some different brands of colored pencils. Also has a lot of the instruction you will find on Pinterest, like drawing and eye and a nose.  
  • The Coloring Book Club Blog This one has a good bit of instruction, but also is part of a monthly club, where you pay to download coloring books that you then print out for yourself. 
There are three basic types of colored pencils. 
Wax based -the most common type. 
Oil based -not nearly as common.
Water-soluble -also known as watercolor pencils, can be wax or oil based. They are not actually watercolor paint in a pencil form. 
It is OK to use all three types of pencil in a single piece of artwork.

When making a pencil, pigment is mixed with wax or oil, some copyright ingredients, and clay to form a colored paste. That paste is extruded into a thick, noodle-like core. The cores are dried, cut to length, and put inside a shaped 'sandwich' of wood to create a pencil. So, you talk about the 'core' of a colored pencil, not the lead of it. 

Within the three types, there are sub-types based on whether the cores are very hard or soft, the size of the core, the shape of the wood, and whether there is a wood casing at all. 

The amount of pigment, the final rigidity of the core and the quality of the wood used all combine to create a better or not so nice pencil. Cheap wood doesn't sharpen well. Fragile cores break easily, even breaking inside the wood casing of the pencil. Dropping a colored pencil isn't a good thing. Heating a wax based pencil will soften the core and reduce breakage. Since I live in Florida, just working outside on my lanai can change how my pencils respond to pressure while I'm using them. 

Don't assume that all cores should be soft and responsive. There are times when a much harder core is desired. Detail work is best done with a harder core that can be sharpened to an extremely precise point. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

E Books

I am currently completing an update of my e-book collection. I have over 3,000 titles. I've been reading books in digital format since 1997. I read a lot. I always have.

I use Calibre on my home computer to manage my books. There is no hand held e reader that can manage that many titles. Especially since I don't get them all from the same place. How could I? I was reading e-books before Kindle was invented!

This means, like all competent librarians, I must spent time sorting through  my collection, marking groups, making titles and authors make sense and making sure that I can find the book that I am looking for. I have discovered that by tagging my books, I can sort through them easily and find books on the subject that I'm interested in. But taking the time to tag 3,000 books? Not so wonderful. I do it one author at a time. That way, I can frequently apply tags in groups.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Long Line of Makers

I was thinking of my father and this father's day. I remembered that he did a lot of making things when he was young. I have on my dresser, one of the lead soldiers that he made when he was a child. He had molds, he melted the lead and poured his own toys. As a child, I played with them, setting them up and shooting them down with a popgun that my grandfather found corks for. The corks were too big and he had to trim them down.

The concept of dealing with melting and cooking things to create toys was a part of my own childhood. I had a Mattel "Thingmaker" when I was young. I put liquid plastic into a mold, put the mold onto a heating element and cooked the plastic into either monsters, or flowers, or Peanuts characters. There was a risk of getting burned, and I probably did, though I don't remember it. I never owned an Easy-Bake oven, but my best friend, Becky, did.

So, not only did I grow up making things, so did my father before me.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stabilizer Basics

New machine embroiderers are always asking, "What stabilizer should I use?" Usually, they are overwhelmed by the variety of responses they get. One person loves a stabilizer that another person hates.

My advice is that a newbie should get three stabilizers. One cutaway, one tearaway, and one wash away. All should be light weight. That's it! No iron on. No heavyweight. No medium weight. No heat away. When a heavier weight stabilizer is needed, use multiple layers. When floating, use 505 adhesive, pins, or a tack-down stitch.

Why do I suggest this? Because it makes it a lot simpler for a newbie. I teach newbies that a tearaway should be used for wovens and a cut away for knits. Wash away is for topping. There's so much to learn and remember about machine embroidery. Sixty-eleven different types of stabilizers are sixty-eight too many.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It Ain't Broke, So I Don't Have to Fix It!

I had a slight problem with the new embroidery machine. It gave me an error message. I knew there was an easy fix for it, but couldn't recall exactly what it was. No panic. I looked for an instructional video on line and had to push a few buttons on the screen and slowly turn a knob.

POOF!

The Avance was right back to work.

While I was looking for the video, there was a subtext running through my head. A similar error on Mama Bernina, and she'd be in the shop for a week or two and it would cost a minimum of $100. My worst case fear was that I'd have to load the Avance into my truck and drive it to Tampa.

I'd heard really good things about these machines. I'm inclined to believe them now.