Saturday, October 29, 2011

Swedish Weaving, Part Deux

I got my Swedish weaving books and charts yesterday and went shopping for supplies today.

The books are Monk's Cloth Diamond Afghans and Learn to Make Monk's Cloth Afghans, both by Marilyn T. Magly. Both have very clear instructions on how to prepare the monk’s cloth, stitch the designs, and finish the afghans. However, the charts in Learn to Make Monk's Cloth Afghans are a bit tricky to follow. Rather than the “what you see is what you get” type of charts showing the vertical floats and lines of stitching that most Swedish weaving designers use, this book has graphs with symbols and lines, somewhat like a cross stitch pattern. Being used to cross stitch, I naturally assumed that each symbol-filled square represented a stitch, i.e. the needle going under a float. It wasn’t until I got to the first figure eight stitch – nearly halfway across the first row – that I realized that something was amiss. I had to look at the color picture and count floats before I realized that the blank squares represented the floats and the symbols represented the yarn between the floats. Counter-intuitive, to say the least. However, once I figured that out, the chart made sense. Monk's Cloth Diamond Afghans has the “what you see is what you get” type of charts, and the designs in both books are beautiful.

I also got the “Inspiration 2” chart pack by Katherine Kennedy at Swedish Weave Designs. It consists of 3 designs meant to be stitched on huck toweling with instructions on how to prepare the fabric, do the stitching, and finish the towels. Her charts are the “what you see is what you get” variety.

After reading through the books and making a list, I went to Jo-Ann’s this morning to buy supplies. I was pleasantly surprised by the different types of fabric available: monk’s cloth, aida, towels with aida insets (including, of all things, huck toweling with aida insets), aida bookmarks, afghan-sized pieces of aida, etc. However, I wasn’t too thrilled with the color selection, or rather lack thereof. Except for the 14-ct. aida, everything is available only in white, off-white, or natural. Rather oddly, the terry cloth towels with aida insets were available in white or red. Who knew there was such a demand for red towels?

I got some 14-ct. aida in white, polar ice (a light turquoise/aqua), and navy.

I also got a pre-finished 16-ct. aida bookmark. One of the “Inspiration 2” designs by Katherine Kennedy will just fit on this.

I didn’t notice the staples until I got home. Yes, they go through the fabric. Fortunately there wasn’t much damage, and what there is looks repairable.

I am not happy with the sloppy finishing job at the ends of the bookmark, or how they were conveniently hidden by the packaging. I won’t be buying any more Sensations fabric.

I also won’t be buying any more monk’s cloth by Charles Craft. I got an afghan-sized piece in white.


It’s very soft, but it’s riddled with foreign bits of colored thread and junk like the one pictured below.

Now, one expects to find the occasional flaw in any fabric, but this stuff has dozens. It’s usable, but I’m going to have to spend a lot of time teasing this crap out with a needle. Not my idea of fun. I’ll order monk’s cloth online in the future, and be sure to avoid Charles Craft.

I was a bit disappointed in the towel I bought too. It’s also by Charles Craft, and is a terry cloth towel with a 14-ct. aida inset. The towel is rather low quality, and there are snags from the packaging. However, the aida inset is a dream to stitch on (more on that below).

I was very surprised at the poor quality of these 2 Charles Craft products since their aida and evenweave fabrics are very good quality. I’m going to have to inspect their products more carefully before buying them. Caveat emptor.

Lastly, I bought a bunch of #5 perle cotton. I bought every color they had that I liked. Mark Lipinski recommended that I try variegated perle cotton, but unfortunately they only had solid colors. I’ll have to order some of the variegated stuff later.

I wanted to get some worsted weight yarn to stitch on the monk’s cloth, but Jo-Ann’s didn’t have any that I liked. I plan to order some nice mercerized cotton yarn.

For my first project, I decided to stitch the towel. I’m using the small motif from the Feathers To and Fro afghan in Learn to Make Monk's Cloth Afghans, by Marilyn T. Magly, shown at the bottom of this picture. (If you should decide to buy this book, please note that there’s an error in this pattern. Row 15 should be stitched in blue, not purple as stated in the stitching key and shown in the chart.)

I’m using these colors:

Here’s what I got done today before hunger forced me to quit. Mark Lipinski tweeted the other day that he needed to buy Depends because he didn’t want to put down his Swedish weaving to go to the bathroom. I think I’m going to need an IV so I don’t have to stop to eat.

The right materials really do make all the difference. As I stated before, the towel itself may be crap, but the aida inset is lovely. It’s very soft and easy to work with. The needle slides easily under the floats, and it’s easy to split the floats for the v stitches. Also, the perle cotton is so much easier to work with than embroidery floss and looks better too.

I’m not abandoning Bright Feathers. I’ll continue to work on it part time, at least, until I get it done.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weekly Update - Bright Feathers & Tiny Stockings

I finished 2 more of the Tiny Stockings by Jorja Hernandez.

These are the last ones I’m going to do this year. I’m putting away the rest until next year.

My progress so far on Bright Feathers:

I’m going to concentrate on Bright Feathers until I get my Swedish weaving books and get distracted again.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Swedish Weaving

I finally got a chance to listen to the podcast of Mark Lipinski’s Creative Mojo yesterday morning. One of his guests was Katherine Kennedy of Swedish Weave Designs.  They were discussing Swedish weaving, a.k.a huck embroidery.

I vaguely remember seeing Swedish weaving designs in craft magazines back in the eighties, but the designs were so boring, plus you had to buy special fabric, that I wasn’t inspired to try it. However, I do recall thinking that it looked easy to do. Fairly recently, I saw a beautiful example of the technique that made me think it might be worth trying someday, but then I promptly forgot about it again.

As I was listening to the podcast yesterday, I started thinking that it sounded interesting, but that I really didn’t feel like tracking down special materials. Then Katherine mentioned that Swedish weaving could be done on aida with perle cotton rather than on the traditional monk’s cloth or huck toweling. That got my attention. Not only is aida readily available, but it comes in lots of different colors. I looked speculatively at the piece of aida I was cross stitching on, experimentally slipped my needle under one of the vertical floats, and thought, “Yeah, this might work.” Then she started talking about monk’s cloth: about how it’s made from 100% cotton (my favorite fiber), how it gets softer each time you wash it, and how Jo-Ann’s is now carrying it.

I paused the podcast and started poking around online to see if I could find a free pattern and basic instructions. Then, I raided my stash for a piece of aida. After deciding to liberate the fabric from an unopened kit and replace it later with a decent evenweave, I sat down to finish listening to the podcast.

After the podcast, I pulled up the free pattern I had found, chose some pretty colors of embroidery floss, read the general instructions, and got to work. I opted to follow the chart and ignore the rather complicated instructions beneath it.

After several hours of obsessive stitching I had this:

I also had a burning desired to buy books and supplies. After overcoming my initial impulse to buy everything I saw, I ended up ordering one of Katherine Kennedy’s charts, and a couple of books with more traditional patterns that were recommended as being good for beginners (Monk's Cloth Diamond Afghans and Learn to Make Monk's Cloth Afghans, both by Marilyn T. Magly). I’ll buy supplies after I’ve had a chance to peruse the books.

Swedish weaving is incredibly easy. You simply weave your needle under the vertical floats on the fabric, following a chart.

I used 14-ct. aida and 3 strands of DMC floss for mine. I like the way it came out; however, I did learn a couple of things the hard way. First, use a decent quality fabric. This cheap stuff I used was stiff and difficult to work with – my hand was sore by the time I got done. Second, I now understand why Katherine Kennedy says she prefers perle cotton over embroidery floss. The strands of my floss kept separating, twisting, and bunching up. I spent as much time fighting with the floss as I did stitching. In the future I’ll avoid anything consisting of multiple strands.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with my practice piece yet. Maybe I’ll frame it or make a small pillow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Weekly Update - Bright Feathers & Tiny Stockings

This week I finished one of the Tiny Stockings designed by Jorja Hernandez,

cut out pinned another,

and started stitching a third.

I also got some work done on Bright Feathers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Design - Diamond Jewels

I was reading today’s Girl Genius, and part of the background inspired me to create this design.
 Diamond Jewels - Computer Simulation

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Weekly Update - Bright Feathers & Tiny Stockings

Yesterday was a busy and exhausting day, so I ended up going to bed early. Hence the late post.

I did some stitching on one of the Tiny Stockings designed by Jorja Hernandez.

I also got a tiny bit done on Bright Feathers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011