Friday, September 19, 2014

Round Robins

Have you ever participated in a round robin?  I've been in 2 or three now and they are all a little bit scary to start, but well worth it in the end. This one above was stitched over a year with my Monday morning stitching group.  We've been getting together now for years to enjoy each other's company and stitching knowledge.

When we decided to start this round robin we decided to try something different and not the usual sampler type.  I started in the centre of this one by stitching the little house and then 11 others worked the garden around it.  After the main stitching was finished I added a few little bits and pieces to tie it all together like extending the roses on the garden wall and adding the little paths in.

I was extremely pleased with the final result, even if the perspective does defy logic in some places.  It is a lovely memento from my Monday mornings and I smile every time I look at it.

For those of you who haven't heard of a Round Robin, let me tell you about them.  All it takes is a group of stitching friends who are willing to stitch something that will be given to someone else.  Each person decides on a theme for their piece - mine above was cottage garden.  Then you all decide what type of design you want - a sampler, a picture (as above), indiviual small motives - the possibilities are endless really.  Then it is very important to decide how long you are going to take to stitch the piece.  In this instance we decided on one year, with each person having each piece for one month. It is very important to stick to this schedule, so if you don't think you can stitch a small motive a every month for 12 months, then let your fellow stitchers know this.  The idea is that you meet regularly and pass the pieces along to the next stitcher until everyone has stitched on every piece.

It's a nice excuse for a group to get together once a month and have coffee or ice cream.  Since our group met every Monday anyway, it was really easy to pass along our pieces.  I have participated in one where the person to whom  the piece belonged was not allowed to see it, after their initial work was done, until it was completely finished.  We took almost two years to finish that one.

Another nice idea is to have a diagram of the piece that travels with it, and have each person sign in the appropriate place on the diagram.  It is really hard to remember who stitched what when it is all over.

Round robins are great fun to participate in, but you have to be aware that you have no control over what will be added, so you must be ok with that, and they will take a huge commitment on everyone's part, but the end results are usually well worth it.  A few years ago my guild did one where each piece was shaped like a tree, but not all were for Christmas.  One was a Halloween tree, another was a tropical beach tree - they were all so beautiful.  I didn't participate in that one, and I was very sorry when I saw the result.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Spring Blossom Stumpwork

I was out  one day  a few years ago at Walmart to pick up some more Anchor threads and there was a free cross stitch pattern available.  For some reason it spoke to me and I could immediately see it as a stumpwork design.  I took some time to get permission to use the original pattern as the basis for my project, and then started work. What you see above is the final result.  

I teach the project as a beginners piece because the shape of the leaves and petals is very simple and the petals are stitched with long and short stitch with extra colours added later as highlights, rather than true thread painting. Students also get the chance to progress from small shapes to larger ones and learn how to change colours while doing the buttonhole stitch on the edges.

This was actually the first stumpwork project I designed and is still a favourite for teaching.  It can easily be covered in a one day class and is actually kind of fun to do.

If you are tempted to use someone else's design as a starting point for your own it is very important to make sure that you get permission to do so if you're planning on publishing.  If you are just doing a design for yourself, well then it's not so important

On a side note, I notice after looking at this photo that my fabric is beginning to look a little the worse for wear, and has a couple of marks on it.  The grey marks under the stem are actually slubs in the fabric, but the piece has been handled so many times now that I notice a couple of very small stains.  I don't put glass on most of my finished pieces, nor do I panic if someone wants to touch the petals or 'feel' the stitches, which I find happens frequently when I'm teaching.   How do you feel about people touching your work?    I stitch and teach because I love the process and I don't kid myself that many people will be holding their breath to own a piece of my work when I'm gone.  I figure if someone wants to have a really close look at it, well why not.  I take it as a compliment.