Years ago when I decided to make a Hardanger wedding sampler for my brother and sister-in-law, I decided I should practice Hardanger in another project first.
I found a simple beginners piece in the much missed Classic Stitches magazine called Christmas Star. I learned and did the klosters, star eyelets, nun's stitch border, cutting and woven bars. However, the pattern called for doing the eyelets after all the woven bars were done, instead of when you got to the right place and I didn't know any better. Hiding your threads while moving around all those woven bars is much harder and slower than just doing the fillings while you are weaving that area. I moved on to the wedding sampler after an eye or two and while I'd picked it up once or twice, I never got very far. (I did spend an evening with a pair of tweezers once doing damage control from my beginner's mistake of not cutting aggressively enough.)
It came out last week as I am reorganizing my stash, so I just sat down to finish it today. It needs ironing, but I think I will send it to the charity auction Cyberstitchers supports, so I will do that right before sending it.
I ran into this guy and his real life Sashiko repaired backpack at a local cafe and he was nice enough to let me take a picture of it. He had never heard of Sashiko, it was just how he'd figured out how to repair his pack, but he was interested to know that it is a traditional Japanese style of repair and decoration.
I am currently working on Plum Blossom - Sashiko, an Embroiders' Guild of America (EGA) Group Correspondence Course (GCC). I've done a number of Sashiko pieces and enjoyed them, but I'm not particularly enjoying this one. At first I thought it was because this piece doesn't have marked stitches and so I was having to learn to pick and make my own even stitch lengths. And admittedly, the chalk marks fading as I stitch thing IS irritating. But I realized that the real issue is that what I really enjoy about Sashiko is the way so many of the traditional patterns can be stitched in one line - it's like the 9 dots puzzle brought to real life and gives me the same sense of satisfaction that stitching logic puzzles do. Because this design is made as a sample of different patterns (and uses some of the traditional patterns that can't be done as a single line), I lose that satisfaction. That said, it is a really pretty pattern, and I've learned a lot about how to do more than stitch by rote following the dots. I'm working very hard right now to get it finished so I can send it in for evaluation, and then I'm going to use my new found knowledge of what I like in Sashiko to pick some patterns I will enjoy more!
Check out some of the Sashiko samplers that can be stitched as a single line (and some that can't) here
I'm starting a new needlepoint project today and as a result had the chance to try two tools I've had for a while but hadn't used and a third in a new way. First, for tacking the canvas onto the stretcher bars, I used an EZ Tack-It kit that included a set of tacks, an ergonomic magnetic tack pusher to insert the tacks and a large metal with plastic handle tack remover tool. It comes with the good sturdy style flat tacks in a really sturdy box, and I'd actually bought it because it was on clearance (due to a packaging change) for about the price of buying just the tacks and I'd thought the sturdy box would hold up better for traveling. The tools are great! And while the small tack removers that often come in the box with the tacks (ie if you buy Clover tacks) are great, they are so small that I usually lose them - this tack remover is the size of a small screw driver so it won't be so easy to drop unnoticed! I would totally buy this set again at full price.
I've been quilting and sewing lately and I bought a June Tailor Quilter's Cut 'n Press II a few months ago for sewing purposes. I've found that the padded back (intended for ironing) makes it great for use for cutting fabric on my lap while sitting on the couch. Today I discovered that using it like that allows for excellent ergonomics when tacking canvas onto stretcher bars. Also, the marked 1" grid makes it really easy to mark your canvas, as you can see the grid through the canvas easily. Since one side is dark with white lines and the other is light with dark lines, it should work with any color canvas. The padded side would be great for steam iron blocking and is also marked for blocking circles. The Cut 'n Press II has a 12" by 18" grid with about an inch margin on each side and a handle at the top. The original Cut 'n Press has a 10" by 10" grid if you mostly do work in that size.
Finally, several months ago I saw a Berkley Hot Line Cutter at the sporting goods store. Its a small battery powered hand-held tool designed to instantly hot cut fishing line. I immediately thought of the tabletop hot cutters I'd heard about for use with synthetics like Kreninik and Rainbow Gallery threads that provide a nice fray-free cut. Since it was under $10, decided to buy one to try it out. Naturally, I've been stitching exclusively with cottons and wools ever since. However, my new project has a number of synthetics in it so I finally got to try it. Wow, what a difference!