3/1/13

Hair's to You


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This morning I spent quite a bit of time on my Quilting Snowladies embroidery project.


Right now, I'm working on the middle block in the top row.  It's a fun project, and it's challenging me a little bit.  I would say it is moderately difficult.  It's not the sort of project you'd want to choose as your first, but if you are familiar with the basic stitches, it's simple enough.  

As for me, I'm completely self-taught on embroidery.  I used to do a lot of crewel work back in the 70's.  I think the last project I did was a little wall-hanging right before Erik was born.  That would explain the "last project" part of that sentence.  The question answers itself.  I didn't do any more embroidery (other than the occasional cross-stitch piece) until about three years ago when I took on the Winter Wonderland quilt.


After that, I was almost as hopelessly hooked on embroidery as I was am on quilting.

But to get back to the Snowladies...I've been approaching a section of this stitchery with fear and trepidation.  Here's a partial picture of the completed block as it looks on the pattern cover.


Can you see the dimension in her hair?  The pattern suggests using a "Fringe Stitch" and then provides the following utterly unhelpful diagram of the stitch with no instructions on how to actually stitch it.


This must be my week for non-instructive instructions.  I figure the Universe must be smiling on me with all of these opportunities for growth.  For example, it gives me a chance to learn new vocabulary words containing more than four letters.  And it gives me a chance to practice my stoicism.  These are excellent skills to put to use in the sewing room, I'm realizing; and so as the opportunities present themselves, I weep in celebration with each new insight.

So I searched the internet, including Mary Corbett's Needle 'n Thread, which I consider the seminal blog on all things embroidery.  I could find nothing.  So I turned to my other volume on embroidery stitches.  Marsha Michler's book on Crazy Quilting has some excellent diagrams and instructions for doing embroidery.  Some day I would like to read this book cover to cover and make a Crazy Quilt.  For now, I turn to this book when I'm trying to figure out embroidery stitches.  


I looked in the index under "fringe" and found lots of references.  This page seemed to be the best hope for making the hair on the snowlady correctly.  Basically, one makes a loop and then stitches a cross stitch over the top of it.  Then, you can either leave it looped, or clip the loop.


Well, I still don't know if I'm doing it right, but it seems to have worked out.  My problem is that the more loops I put in place, the harder it was to see what I was doing.  I ended up with this:


I cut the loops and then sort of mussed them up some in an effort to unravel the floss and give it a fuzzy appearance.  Just to be sure, I tugged at the individual strands, and they seem to be holding fast.  I figure snowladies aren't fussy about their hair.  Besides, I think that's probably why she's wearing a hat.  That's what I do when my hair isn't looking good.


Hopefully, I've done her some justice.  I'm not very happy about how the marker is showing below my French knots.  I might have to redo that part, possibly switching to a lazy daisy stitch.  Again, the pattern neglects to suggest a stitch or a floss color for that part of her face.  I don't even know if I'm using the right color.  In fact, as I'm writing this, I think a switch to black (like coal) might be the solution to this problem.

So for the rest of today my plan is to go grudgingly and do my Curves workout.  It's so frustrating to continually lose arguments with myself on this issue.  After that, my sock monkey would like some ears, please.  And then I'm going to start on my March doll quilt for the Doll Quilt Swap.  This is going to be a Fun Friday.  Absolutely no housework on the horizon.

24 comments from clever and witty friends:

tubilinha tiacarminha said...

Eu amo isso.

Terry said...

It doesn't look so bad to me. Maybe she was out in the wind!

Cinder Gal said...

I think you did a great job with her hair. Looking at their instructions it almost looks like a French knot at the base of the loop. What ever gives the desired effect works!

Sherry said...

I think your fringe stitch looks GREAT, and I love the rest of the blocks. And thanks Barbara for informing me about the no reply blogger I hope I have it fixed this time.

Junebug613 said...

I think her hair looks wonderful! I have a huge book of stitches for everything! When I get home (sshhh, don't tell the boss that I'm reading your blog at work!) I'll send you the name of it. It's fabulous and well detailed. I also would suggest those new Frixion pens for some of the small stuff you may not be able to cover with the thread. I am loving this embroidery!!

Quilting Babcia said...

I think her hair looks great. Happy that you found a good diagram of that stitch, a good one to have in the arsenal. Have fun with your projects today.

Teresa in Music City said...

Oh thanks for sharing your Winter Wonderland again. It always inspires me to work on mine :*) Your quilt lady's hair looks great! As I was reading that the instructions did not give a color for the face, my thought was that black would work well - and then you wrote that you thought so too - cool!!! It will be fun watching these blocks come to life.

Diane Wild said...

Nothing wrong with your fringe stitch. Whatever works. You don't need to look over your shoulder for the embroidery police, do you?

Shanna said...

I love the Winter Wonderland Quilt and I am so glad you have shared it with us.

Lyndsey said...

I love her hair ... it looks a bit like mine did today as I was blown about. Your winter wonderland quilt is amazing I'm pleased you have posted it again. I have got to take a leaf out of your book and start exercising. Unfortunately I win the 'I don't want to do it' argument with myself every time.

gpc said...

Your fringe looks amazing - the Universe is smiling! :) For me, I can make fringe any time I try to do a french knot. Not one has ever behaved for me!

quiltzyx said...

Snowlady's hair looks just right to me. I agree about the 'coal' for her face too... but I doubt anyone would really notice the marking anyway!

Cath said...

I think your "fringe" stitch looks really good. I have never heard of it either. And yes, the markings showing up under the knots would annoy me, I think changing to black or charcoal grey would be a better choice. I really was taken with your blue snowman quilt.
Cath @ Bits 'n Bobs

LynCC said...

I lov her hair! you did a great job with it. So... the marker - did you use a frixion pen for these? Or were they preprinted?

Brown Family said...

I like what you did with the hair. I don't think I ever heard of that stitch wither, but is affective (effective? ) for hair. I would use black for the french knots for coal,too.

Nan

LethargicLass said...

your hair turned out great :) And I agree with maybe switching the french knots to black... but I thought you used Frixion pens... couldn't you just get rid of the marks?

Denise :) said...

You did a great job on her hair! At first I thought it was bullion knots, which I love to make! The redwork course I took instructed us to use a sepia toned marker for pattern transfer. I have to admit that the markings are far less visible. I think I'm like you -- nearly as hooked on embroidery as quilting. Maybe more so! The Winter Wonderland quilt pattern is on my wish list. Literally, it's on my amazon wish list. LOL! I like it done in the blues very much, too! I know you've probably said this, but where did you get the pattern for your snowladies? It's really darling!! :)

KatieQ said...

I really like the way the hair turned out. It reminds me of my red headed daughter who constantly wears hats with bits sticking out at the bottom.
I missed my workout at Curves twice this week so I'm headed there this morning. My enthusiasm for the program has ebbed considerably. I need to psych myself up to get back into the groove. I take 3 classes a week through the adult ed program in the local school system. The classes are really hard, but fun and I really like the teacher and the group. The Curves routine suffers in comparison so it's easy to play hooky.

Lou said...

You did a wonderful job!
I am at a stopping point on a cross stitch project for the same reason... a stitch I am unfamilar with. Have put it down since Christmas so will have to dig it back out and get working on it again:)Now tht I am done with the other handwork projects I was working on:)
I made the snowman quilt too!!! Just love yours in the blues!!!

Patrica said...

Love the hair! You nailed it no question. I used to embroider all the time - so much so that I got burned out but that was in the 70's! You make me want to take up that relaxing activity again if only my hands will cooperate at the end of the day. :(

SJSM said...

Barbara, I think the fringe looks great and really fluffy. If you are interested there is a way to make that stitch by taking one strand and hold the ends together put the ends through the eye of the needle only as far as needed to not lose them while stitching. Take your threaded needle and place it where you want the knot on the top of the embroidery. Pierce the fabric from the top, go over a small amount on the bottom then come the top again. Catch the loop and pull your thread through the loo, pull tight. Cut off the double thread at the lenth you like. This page shows how to thread and start if you are going under the work. You just make it so the knot is on top. HTH. http://www.better-cross-stitch-patterns.com/loop-start.html

SJSM said...

Barbara, this one is better in explaining. http://quiltnqueen.blogspot.com/2011/02/no-knots-to-start-your-embroidery.html

Kate said...

Love the snow lady hair, it looks windblown, exactly how I think it should. Changing color might help with the french knots, you might also try a few more loops on the needle before you tighten the knot and take the stitch. I've done up to five in order to make a bigger dot. You might want to practice that on a scrap and see if that works better for you.

Lynne said...

I think her hair looks fabulous! I use Colonial knots instead of French knots; in my opinion they sit better, look better and don't pull through the fabric!