Category Archives: Japanese Embroidery

Well, it’s been a long time…

…and yes, another post is starting that way, woe is I.  🙂 However, all of us have lived through times when life throws a few curves into our path so ‘nuf said.  Anyway, to sorta quote a scary movie from long ago…I’m back.

It is spring here in Minnesota and, while the last few days have been beastly hot, mostly it’s just glorious.  The kind of glorious when I can’t wait to be outside…

The most amazing thing about spring to me is all the different colors of green.  Everything from chartreuse to deep olive and even teal.  The fragrance of cherry and apple blossoms wafting on a breeze only adds to the magic.  It is this time of year that makes winter only a distant memory.

Have I been stitching whilst negotiating curves?  Well, in finest Midwest parlance…YOU BETCHA!  In fact, I have a finish to share today.  This is kind of a special finish in that up until I put that last stitch into canvas, it was my oldest living needlepoint work in progress.  It is a JINICE kimono and was my first attempt at charted needlepoint (with a drawn outline) and I started it in the early 1990’s.  I know, I know…some of you were BORN in the early 1990’s :-).  What can I say except I have the attention span of a chipmunk some days.  But eventually I get there and today I have this to show:

Jinice Kimono

Jinice Kimono

I also took some close up shots:

Jinice Kimono-Upper left

Jinice Kimono-Upper left

Jinice Kimono-Upper Right

Jinice Kimono-Upper Right

Jinice Kimono-Lower Left

Jinice Kimono-Lower Left

Jinice Kimono-Lower Right

Jinice Kimono-Lower Right

The border is six strands of floss plied, re-assembled, then laid. It was a time intensive project, but I love the way it looks.  The metallic around the outside of the kimono itself  is a heavy braid that is no longer made and was DIFFICULT to work in that it almost refused to lie flat as I was couching it down.  The background is not what was charted.  The stitch guide calls for a diamond shaped running stitch in a metallic decorated with beads.  For me that was too busy, given my desire to have the kimono be the focal point.  So I put in a very simple tone-on-tone (actually cream wool on tan ground) repeating (diaper?) pattern that suggests a bit of motion. The color choices are also my own. The compensation of the aqua wool in the upper part of the pattern was a…er…a challenge. 🙂 I think the most interesting part of finishing the piece was to see the progression in my skills over the last 20 years.  I did leave the parts originally stitched intact…because I value knowing and seeing that my stitching has improved.

I also just finished another session of Japanese embroidery class with Kay Stanis (fabulous teacher-teaches silk and metal work at many venues…TAKE A CLASS from her if you have the opportunity!). I am still working on Phase I, but it went so much better this time, simply because I had time to spend on specific motifs rather than getting so much information all at once.  I felt much less overwhelmed and bamboo leaves and I are even starting to be friends. 🙂 I hope to finish this phase in the next three months and start Phase II in August.  I really love the challenge of this discipline.  And I love the results. But after a 9-4:30 class four days in a row, I was exhausted.

Class was also a special treat this time because one of the sisters who was fighting cancer last fall, is well on her road to recovery and was able to start Phase One.  She is a joy to be around…and I had the added advantage of being able to listen to all the instructions all over again. My notes are much improved.

I don’t have photos yet, but will share them when I finish my bamboo leaves!

Just as an FYI, I am taking down my stash for sale page for a few weeks.  My stash room badly needs organizing and I haven’t gotten through it yet.  I will put a revised page back up as soon as I figure out what I have to sell/trade.  Thank you for your patience with me. I will also be adding a number of new volumes to my library over the coming weeks.  I am in a constant state of collecting and right now my interest seems to be in historical costume, couture embroidery and tambour work. So if any of that interests you, stay tuned.

I have to head for work shortly so I will draw this post to a close.  I hope all of you have a wonderful day filled with stitches and very few frogs!

Blessings,

Julie

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Good morning…

…er, make that good afternoon. I had good intentions of writing early and I did…but not here. I was working on my ‘Artist’s Way‘ morning pages. It is surprising how writing three standard sized sheets of thoughts and ideas longhand can necessitate a re-scheduling of one’s whole day. At least this one’s whole day 🙂 I think it would probably be easier were I not severely allergic to 6:30 a.m. (I am much more comfortable at 2 a.m.) Instead I get up around eight and feel like I’m already behind.

As you probably have guessed I did start the Artist’s Way curriculum by Julia Cameron.  Why?  Well, to be honest I get a lot of almost, but not quite feelings about my needlework. Feelings that I want to take it further, to design, to teach, to run a studio.  Feelings that I want to move needlework from an avocation to a vocation.

This isn’t an impossible dream, in fact it is very possible, but I never seem to quite move from dreamer and artisian (as I stitch someone else’s designs…sometimes changing colors or fabrics) to designer, writer, business owner and artist. Action on my part is required and to be frank I’m feeling a little paralysis as I seek to move ahead. The ‘Artist’s Way‘ is Julia’s process for nurturing creativity, for being able to view your desired path in a clearer way and for removing personal roadblocks to success. The curriculum sounded like what I needed, was reasonably priced and it was a step forward. (There have been a few more since…more on that later. 🙂

Having been in the corporate world for some time, I have seen a lot of these..self actualization (for lack of a better term) seminars come and go—some with good results, some far overpriced for less than stellar content.  So far, I think the ‘Artists Way‘ is proving to be one of the former.  Week One alone has given me a lot to think about and work on as I plan the second half of my life. Just what I needed in the way of a kick in the pants.

So…have I been doing anything to pursue my art?  The answer:  Not as much as I’d like, but progress is being made, mostly in the realm of JE.  Since I don’t want more than a few days to go by without working on my Japanese Embroidery (I don’t want to forget what I’ve learned), I’ve left the frame up and have now finished one ENTIRE clump (wooo-hooo) of pine needles.

Here are my first progress photos of ‘Mile High Shochikubai‘, my phase one piece for JE:

Plum Blossom and Pine

Plum Blossom and Pine

I have also worked on a flat silk plum blossom:

Flat Silk Plum Blossom

Flat Silk Plum Blossom

Some Bamboo:

Bamboo

Bamboo

and some cloud pine in two different techniques:

Cloud Pine

Cloud Pine

I know…it scarcely seems possible this is the result of HOURS and HOURS of work, but bear in mind, JE is also about learning a discipline.  There is a right way to do each stitch and departure from that way really does impact the appearance of the needlework. I have frogged more on this project alone than I have in years.

Still, I can honestly say, I love when I settle in to work on JE.  The silks are beautiful to handle and to use (okay, so flat silk is still a bit of a pain and I still manage to shred it in a rather magnificent fashion on occasion, but the results are sure worth it. :-)), the silk ground fabric is also lovely, the frame holds the work beautifully tight and I usually have some soft, instrumental music on as I stitch.

I’m not at the point where I can relax and let the needlework speak, but I can see how practice will eventually make a difference.  Most of all, I simply love the look…the artistry of the finished pieces.  There is so much history and so much beauty all created with a needle and thread.

Apart from JE I’ve been knitting away on my Meadow Afghan, with high hopes for a finish by the end of the month.  I am also feeling the urge to do a bit of needlepoint. More on what I choose to work on in my next post. 🙂 I have a lot of WIP’s to choose from…and I think this time it might be one of my kimono designs by Jinice.

I have also added to my library and will update that page sometime today as well as my page for goals.  I have been absolutely terrible about keeping track of my hours, so I may just have to start from where I am and go forward, since there is no way I can remember every hour worked. Suffice it to say, needlework is a huge and wonderful part of my life.

Well, right now I’m off to buy a light at Joanne Fabric.  I need a new desk lamp for my stitching room and since their stock of Daylight lamps is 40% off this week, it seems the time is ripe.  The older I get the more important lighting becomes and I’ve been spoiled by spectrum corrected bulbs. 🙂

That’s all for today.  I think often and with great gratitude of this this online stitching community.  There is so much inspiration and so much to learn as stitcher’s share.  Thank you all so much!

Blessings,

Julie

AARRRRGGGGHHHH…

…I’m EXHAUSTED!!!

Why, you may ask? Japanese embroidery, that’s why.

I love it, I love it, I love it. However, I have spent two solid days in class. Hours of work and being taught and what do I have to show?  2.5 bamboo leaves, a plum blossoom, half of another plum blossom, a few thingies at the top of the bamboo leaves, five bunches of pine needles in silk, one bunch of pine needles in gold…and a few branches courtesy of a demonstration by my wonderful teacher.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve ripped out and I don’t even want to think about many strands of flat silk I’ve turned into balls of fuzz.

Every time I think I’m getting it, I realize my left hand is on top of the frame or I’m stitching counter-clockwise or left to right. For those of you that play cards, Japanese Embroidery is the bridge of needlework.  It’s enough to make this poor novice’s head hurt.

Am I being negative? Nope. That’s just a true statement of how I’m feeling and progressing.  I have learned SO much. Kay Stanis is a fabulous teacher.  I had talked about her previously when I attended her class ‘Winter Wonders’ at the Minnesota Needlework Guild retreat.  She is a good communicator, straightforward and very knowledgeable.  If you EVER have a chance to take a class from her, don’t hesitate! Sign up!

Tomorrow it’s day number 3…and I think that involves something called shell powder.  I can’t wait. Really.  I think it’s some of the most beautiful needlework I’ve ever seen. (Maybe not mine…not yet…but the example pieces are lovely.

Pictures later…

Hope all is well in your neck of the world!

Blessings,

Julie