Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dressing a lady

Lady Jane has consented to being laced into her fancy dress so she can take a walk in her garden!

I’m excited that the Lady’s dress is now complete, even though I’m not 100% happy with it.  The little direction-adjustment jogs in the chain stitch outline caused waves/ripples in the detached buttonhole filling.  Also, I used a slightly different shade of floss for the taupe in the skirt than in the bodice and sleeves – wanted the color change to be more subtle, but it had the exact opposite effect (phooey).  Don’t think I’ll be ripping it out to change that. I’ve had enough of detached buttonhole -  I’d rather do trellis!

I’d love to be able to see and feel the weight of the threads Jane used when stitching her sampler and to compare them to my materials.  Looking at the best photos I have of the original sampler (and also a closeup of the Lady from one of the “sister” samplers, which is much clearer), Jane stitched many more rows of detached buttonhole to fill the dress sections than I was able to fit into the spaces - so I have to think her threads were much finer.

So what’s this odd little thing?  My first effort at filling the right hand side of the skirt pulled and puckered the ground fabric and had to be clipped out – bleah!

Lady Jane in her finery:

The remainder of this band is pretty straightforward stuff and should go quickly so I’m hoping to get it finished this month, even though it *is* December.  Crossing my fingers….

In case you ever wonder about the “splinters” part of the blog name, I’m really good at catching them when we’re working on a household project.  The current one is a coat cabinet in the mud room – didn’t even feel this until later when I was working on Jane and wondering why stitching was making my finger hurt.

Here’s the cabinet-in-progress.

Hope you’ve been having a great weekend – thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

TUSAL November 2017

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally  Useless SAL.    

Jane Turner provided all the orts this month.  I had some really productive days but then pretty much fizzled the last week or so - the Silly Stitching Calendar says I’ve had only 15 stitching days since the last TUSAL post (phooey). 

I’m finally working on filling in the Lady’s dress with detached buttonhole and the bodice and sleeves look pretty good, I think..  I had wanted to have that left side of the skirt finished to show you but just didn’t get there.



Sunday, November 12, 2017

One thread? Two? … None?

I diligently stitched two detached buttonhole filling samples on my doodle cloth – one using a single foundation thread for each row and the other using two.

Then Francesca made this comment on my previous post, which I’ve truncated a bit (thanks again, Francesca - your comment was not only fascinating, but also a huge help!):

I've studied and done a lot of detached buttonhole in historical reproduction embroidery and have never heard about two foundation threads. About the direction of the stitching, in some old embroideries the foundation thread can be a separate thread that goes from left to right and back right to left and the "working" thread, the one that makes the stitch, can be another thread so the stitching can go L to R and R to L.

I felt sure the words in my instructions said to use two foundation stitches and that the diagram showed that as well, so I pulled out all the instructions.  

Oh dear… what  was that saying about assumptions? 

While the text instructions for this band say to work the detached buttonhole within - and attached to - a chain-stitched border (as Mary Corbet’s video tutorial shows and as Tricia Nguyen’s directions show as well), there is nothing at all there about any kind of foundation thread. 

Okay, that’s fine – the directions are for stitching the sampler, not instructing me in the techniques for the various stitches used.  However, the stitch diagrams included are quite generic (of course it makes perfect sense for a designer to be able to reuse stitch diagrams).  But the one for detached buttonhole is apparently for executing the stitch without using any framing, whether chain stitch or back stitch or any other stitch.  So yes, it really DOES say to use two foundation threads, but that’s only for the *first* row – subsequent rows are merely worked through the first row, and call for no foundation thread at all.

Yeah, I’m a turkey.

So let’s take a look at my stitched samples anyway, since I really did learn something from this exercise … uh, something more than reading twice before starting to stitch.


The upper sample uses ONE foundation thread on each row, and the direction of the detached buttonhole stitches is always left to right.  The lower sample has those erroneous TWO foundation threads, and stitching direction alternates – left to right on the first row, then R to L, and so on.

I like the nice even look of the upper sample – see how the rows tend to slant back and forth a bit in the lower one?  And while I like the stability and sturdiness that the two foundation threads gave, I think the lacier look is nicer for Lady Jane’s dress, and I'll be using the single foundation thread when I next pick up the sampler and start filling in a sleeve.

Another thing I learned is that – for me at least – it’s easy to pull the stitches too tight.  While the stitches look nice and even for most of the top sample, you can see the bottom row looks rather wonky.  That’s because it’s really working to pull the detached part down against the chain stitch outline and each individual stitch is taller than it ought to be as well as tighter.  The high contrast of the blue border doesn't help that sample.  The lower box is stitched in the color that actually outlines the dress.

In the lower sample, I added an extra row even though it looked like there was no room for it on the sides, and that allowed the rows to be more consistent in height and tension.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

To two or not to two...

I'm at the point on Jane's Lady Band that I need to decide how to do something and I'm in a dither.  Working on Lady Jane herself, (nearly) everything is finished except the parts of the dress that are to be filled with detached buttonhole stitch.

Here's Lady Jane in her partially finished dress.  The bits that are filled are done with perle cotton couched with every-day DMC.  I think it looks rather cool.

Have never done detached buttonhole before, but it doesn't seem like it should be hard.  I've certainly done enough normal buttonhole stitch on crewel projects.


Except that the stitch instructions provided with Jane Turner say that TWO foundation threads should be laid for each row, and the stitching is to be done left-to-right in the first row, then right-to-left in the second, then left-to-right and so forth.


Each and every tutorial I've found online calls for ONE foundation thread for each row, and each row to be worked in the same direction (I think they all call for stitching left-to-right).

I will be using my doodle cloth to ... um ... audition both versions - though I do sort of resent the time it will take to lay TWO chain stitch rectangles and work blocks of the stitch in both methods since it won't be actual progress on the real sampler.

What would you do?  

Execute the stitch as instructed in the directions?  Or using the (likely more consistent looking) method found in online tutorials from Tricia Nguyen, Mary Corbet and others?   My Jane is an adaptation rather than a reproduction at this point as there have been any number of changes (both intentional and unintended), so authenticity is hardly the issue.  

I welcome your thoughts!


Friday, October 20, 2017

TUSAL October 2017

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog for all the details about the Totally  Useless Stitch A-Long.    

Lots of orts this time!  Well, for me, that is.  All these are from Jane Turner.  I did stitch a bit on LHN”s Seasons Greetings, but not enough to finish the gold frame yet.  You could imagine two or three gold orts off to the side if you'd like.  The Silly Stitching Calendar says I’ve had 18 stitching days since the last TUSAL post. 

Jane’s lady has hair!  And a floral crown!  And a dress!  Well, sort of.  Guess it’s more like she has a dress frame.  I keep thinking I should do the detached buttonhole filling but since I stitch in hand I’m a little worried about that looooong stitch the buttonhole goes over.  You see, those sections will get filled vertically (turning Jane sideways to stitch) rather than across the short direction.  I think I’ve figured out how to make sure it doesn’t pull things out of shape, but I keep putting it off. 

So both those spiral trellis flowers are done, a few of the fruits on the trees are stitched, and the large birds have eyes now so they can watch what that caterpillar's up to.  Also, one of the moths is filled in.  You can see that, like the moths on at least two of the Jane Turner “sister” samplers, he has a head and antennae and a couple of legs – quite bug-ish, if small.  That’s because it looked really dumb just being a two-colored floaty thing.  Not too creepy, right?

Thought you might be interested to see a moth comparison.  All of these little snippets are of the right-side moth which turned out to be easier to catch.  Jane's original very un-mothlike moth is on the left, the kit model in the middle and my unfinished one on the right.  

But if you look at the same part on the "sister" samplers, it's easy to see what these floaty blobs are supposed to be.  You can barely see the outline of the lady's dress on the snip on the right - that's because this picture was from the back of the sampler signed D.O. which belongs to the Museum of London.

So why didn't Jane stitch heads and legs on her moths?  Did she forget?  She could have meant to go back and add them and then lost track since this band has a lot going on.  Maybe after stitching the legs on the caterpillar, she decided they were too creepy crawly?  Or perhaps she just didn't like moths.  We'll never know, but it's fun to wonder about and come up with possible reasons.

(end edit)

Have realized that with a good bit of stitching yet to do on the Lady Band plus three narrow bands, a wide band in Montenegrin, and the alphabet band, there’s not much chance Jane will be finished by the end of the year.  Oh well ... next year, then!


Monday, October 16, 2017

Giveaway opportunity!

Nancy at the Victorian Sampler Shoppe often hosts giveaways of her wonderful flosses, but the one she's doing right now is even better than usual:  the winner gets to pick from more than a dozen options of these gorgeous collections!

Go HERE to enter!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Small victory

Take that, Black Bart* ... er ... Frustrating Flower!  I did try the ring of chain stitch to anchor the spiral trellis part back to the fabric, but like previous efforts, it looked sloppy/messy/bad so I just tacked the inner edge in three or four places with the same color thread.  Center is filled with Colonial knots (which took me far longer than I'd have liked to figure out again as all the diagrams I could find were for right-handed stitching).

Woohoo - flower! (that "missing" lower right leaf will be covered by the Lady's scarf/shawl)

I've also stitched the last two birds, using the outlining only as a general guide and giving in to my inclination to free stitch them - they pretty much look like they're flying, right? (the one on the left works a bit better, I think)

Worked on outlining the Lady's dress some last night.  This band has so much in it, it's hard to decide just which bit to work on next!

* In my family, we say "take that, Black Bart!" to convey the idea "I've succeeded, so there, ha!"  But I have no idea where the phrase came from or why we say it.  Wonderful Husband doesn't recall either.  But for the curious, apparently Charles Earle Boles, aka Black Bart, was an outlaw  remembered for poetic messages he left behind at two of his many robberies.  He had a reputation for style and sophistication and robbed stagecoaches in and around northern California in the 1870s and 1880s (thanks, Wikipedia).   


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Birds for m'Lady

Happy October!

Still in a dither about those two large flowers that are supposed to be filled with spiral trellis - have once again ripped out (or rather cut off, since that's the only way I've found to remove this knotted stitch) the bit I'd done.  And since the Lady's dress overlaps the left side flower, I need to make up my mind.

Now I'm thinking satin for the outer petals, spiral trellis for the next ring (in the lighter peach), then a ring of off-white chain filled in with yellow Colonial knots or bullion knots. 

Maybe.  Opinion, anyone?

Have been working on the birds while I'm being indecisive about flowers.  The bodies of the large yellow ones were to be filled with encroaching satin.  Not sure if I did it correctly, but the stitches in the lower rows do go up into the higher ones and it looks different from regular satin stitching so I'm pleased with it.  (you can also see try #3 on the large flower in this picture)

I used darker versions of the called for colors in the tails - the model's birds looked far too pastel for my taste.  I think they need eyes, though - in black.


The two birds in the treetops were to be stitched in a reddish brown, but I decided they ought to be sparrows.


Then there are these guys at the bottom.  Jane stitched them in off white with a dash of red on their bellies, but I'm thinking they might be sparrows as well.


How's your weekend going?  Are you getting some stitching in?


Thursday, September 21, 2017

TUSAL September 2017

Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog will give you a thorough explanation of the Totally  Useless Stitch A-Long.  CLICK HERE  for all the details.

It feels like I got a lot accomplished this lunar month even though my Silly Stitching Calendar says I’ve had only 15 stitching days since the last new moon.  I’m thinking that’s because I was able to finish filling in all those (so very tedious) leaves on Jane’s Lady Band and then went on to do a bit of the fun stuff.

So good at planning – that’s me.  Since it’s the most complicated part of the sampler, I had read the instructions for this band and looked at photos and the chart and thought and read and looked and thought some more.  I came up with what I thought was a good plan – to do the filling stitches in three sections, left to right, keeping everything neat and reducing the chance of mangling some bit I’d already stitched.  Sounds good, right?  Yeah, well, I finished filling in the leaves on the left side tree and tossed my plan out the window.

Tree trunks are filled in with trellis using a blended needle.  I do not recommend using a blended needle to do trellis – makes it about three times as hard to figure out where to put the next stitch.  Started working on the two spiral trellis-filled flowers last night – spent a half hour trying to stitch them as called for in the instructions and ended up frogging the whole bit as it looked like garbage.  Restarted on the second ring of the flower – must decide whether to do the outer petals in satin or something else … fans of bullion stitches perhaps?  Suggestions, anyone?  But am hoping to next outline the lady’s dress.  Maybe.  (Oh dear, another plan!  But maybe I can stick to this one.)

Not too much progress on LHN’s Season’s Greetings ornament though I did work on it once or twice. (EDIT:  oops - had wrong picture - this is right)


Friday, September 15, 2017

It's fall! (yay!)

It really is - the flowers say so!

These are my fall crocus - what delightful things they are!  In the spring, the bulbs put up wide green leaves which die off at the beginning of summer (and then I cut them back), then at the beginning of fall, these delicate, light purple flowers reach up to let me know cool temperatures are on their way.

I love these flowers - not only are they heirloom flowers, but family heirlooms as well!  My grandfather gave bulbs to my father (in the late 40s) and Dad gave some bulbs to me.  So I not only love that these ethereal flowers are the first sign of fall, but also that my family has enjoyed them for at least three generations.  And the very best thing?  The bulbs multiply!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

FFO ... I think

Never got back to my Santa ornament last weekend, but was able to spend some time with him today.  At this point I think he’s finished but haven’t fully made up my mind.  And I dug through my JCS ornament issues to satisfy my curiosity - Santa Star by Lavender Wings was in the 2002 issue, so he was part of the Chartswappers 2003 ornament SAL.  Then I remembered the little notebook where I used to write down all my starts and finishes - started 11/28/03, stitching completed 12/28/03.  He's stitched on a quite stiff 27 count natural linen, over one.

Here's the magazine picture.  You can see I made some changes.

Not sure if he's really finished because I got all excited about putting him together and didn't wait till I'd found all my trims (now not only are they found, but sorted and gathered together into their very own box!).  Had vague thoughts of putting cording around the edge, but might have used this trim with its ribbon of shiny flat gold woven into the green loops if I'd seen it earlier.  Harley's trying to help me decide what to do.

Not positive about the bow, either, but it's just attached with a straight pin thanks to the foamcore.  So what do you think - does he need that other trim or not?


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Working at finishing

I've had this piece stitched for ... I honestly don't know how long as I didn't photograph it once the stitching was complete, but I'm guessing it was from somewhere between 2002 and 2006 since I'm pretty sure it was stitched as part of a Christmas ornament SAL with the now-defunct Yahoo Group Chartswappers.  Of course sharing with you has made me curious, so I'll have to dig back through the JCS ornament issues to find out what year!

For some reason, my heart got set on making this an oval ornament.  Maybe because of the arc made by the juggled stars?  Anyway, had cut posterboard ovals ages ago and put them with the stitched piece but was leery of starting for fear of smooshing everything when gathering the fabric around the form - this is a rather stiff unbleached linen.

Then yesterday I remembered the scraps of foamcore left over from framing Noah.  Yes, the how-to-do-it has been right there all along, waiting for me to figure it out.

Maybe I can finish it today - will certainly be inside all day as it is pouring!  Now if I can just find my box of trims....

How's your holiday weekend - what are you doing for fun?


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TUSAL August 2017

Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog will give you a thorough explanation of the Totally  Useless Stitch A-Long.  CLICK HERE for all the details.

My Silly Stitching Calendar says I’ve had only 14 stitching days since the last new moon – that’s because nearly every night last week, the book won out over the stitching bag.   

For some reason, I couldn’t keep from starting Little House Needleworks ornament Season’s Greetings.  I’ve switched out a couple of colors on it, the biggest difference being I’m stitching the frame in bright gold rather than off white.  

What it was designed to look like:

On Jane Turner, I’ve begun filling in the oodles of leaves on the Lady Band and have done the first color on all but one on the left side tree.  So far, they're going quickly (probably shouldn't have said that), but expect progress will slow as I add in the second color.  See the top of the tree trunk with the diagonal green and yellow stripes?  That took far too long to do.

Hope you're all having a lovely week! 


Saturday, August 12, 2017


The double running stitch on Jane Turner’s Lady Band is finished, and I feel a bit like Dr Frankenstein shouting it’s alive!!!  The lady has a head!  The problem is, that’s all she has.  Her body / dress is outlined in chain stitch and I don’t plan to do that until all the (endless) leaves are filled in.

And harrumph, I’ve found another error on the chart.  I really should have learned by now to look at all the pictures before doing major bits of stitching, but apparently I’m untrainable about certain things.  The trees, with all their leaves and fruits and flowers, are charted as a (nearly) perfect mirror image, but Jane didn’t stitch them that way and neither did the model stitcher.  So what did the model stitcher work from if her stitching matches the original sampler rather than the chart?  Oh well, deep breath.  (chanting to self:  adaptation … adaptation … adaptation)

This band has several things in the chart that are not addressed in the written instructions, such as those four light blue blips around the lady (they're actually diamond shaped).  No idea what they’re supposed to be.  And those two odd looking things, the right-side one being right above the caterpillar?  Moths.  Whoever stitched Jane’s “sister” samplers made them clearly moths, while Jane’s look like … odd things.  Since I don’t really care for moths in samplers, mine will just be odd floaty things as well.

ETA:  Apologies for not being clear!  In my sampler, the two sides ARE a mirror image, but on Jane’s original and on the model, the right side is different.  Blissfully unaware of this, I stitched the double running stitch as charted, but the chart doesn’t match the model or the original sampler. 

In the picture below, Jane’s original is on the left, the model in the center and my Jane is on the right.  Look at the areas inside the ridiculously bright green ovals.  In the original and the model, there’s a fruit at the bottom and two good-sized leaves at the top, but on mine, there’s a fruit at the bottom with little leaves attached to it and a second fruit at the top - definitely not the same!
(end of added bit)

Haven’t shown the entirety for a while so thought I’d share at this point.  Jane measures 17 1/2 inches from the top row of stitching to the bottom of the Lady Band - getting big!

Hope you all get lots of stitching time this weekend!


Monday, July 24, 2017

TUSAL July 2017

Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog will give you a thorough explanation of the Totally Useless Stitch A-Long.  CLICK HERE for all the details.

My Silly Stitching Calendar says I’ve had 18 stitching days since the last TUSAL check in.  I’m quite pleased about that since there was a long weekend where I didn’t even touch my stitching bag because Daughter was visiting.

Been working solely on Jane Turner, filling in some bits on band 10 and then working on the double-running outlines for band 11, aka the Lady Band.

Next time I hope there will actually be a lady in the Lady Band!

Hope you had a good weekend and that your week's going well so far.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Finished ... again (x 2)

Band 10 of Jane Turner is finished - again.  I'd posted a picture of the completed band a while back, and then discovered that a couple of things had been left out of the instructions (boohiss), said discovery making the band unfinished.  Here it is with the flower bud thingies under the sunflower-ish flowers filled in.

This was actually done a while ago, but I was dealing with the Great Photobucket Annoyance (otherwise known as the we-won't-show-your-pictures-on-your-blog-anymore-unless-you-pay-us ransom demand).  All pictures have now been retrieved and dropped into posts courtesy of Blogger's editor (so easy!  who knew?), and there should no longer be any ugly notices in past posts.    


Friday, June 30, 2017

Well, that stinks

So the online photo storage site I've used for 15 years or more has just decided they will no longer host pictures I want to add to my blog and have put up ugly blocks on them all.

My apologies for the unsightliness - I now need to figure out what to do and move all my pictures. (grumble grumble grumble)

Looks like Blogger's editor will let me drag and drop - certainly simpler than adding HTML coding, but does anyone do that?


Thursday, June 29, 2017


Yesterday I printed the two pictures of the Lady Band that were in my previous post *LINK*, from the stitched reproduction model and from Jane’s very own sampler. Printed 'em nice and big so I could refer to them while stitching (hey, the supplied picture doesn’t offer a lot of detail).

Uh oh.

TWO uh ohs.

The first one is annoying, but truly not terrible. Here’s a small bit of both the reproduction model and the original sampler, showing part of the band I finished last week. Picture’s fuzzy because I’ve blown it up so much, but it's easy enough to see the problem. Look at the green arrow on the snippet of my Jane below it. See that bit that I didn’t fill in, but *is* filled on the model and the original?

Guess what’s NOT in the (densely typed, poorly punctuated, very stream-of-consciousness, single paragraph for each band) instructions. Grumble. So ... that band was complete. And now it’s not.

And that really bugs me and makes me feel like I cheated in starting the next band (yeah, pretty dumb, right?).

The other issue makes me feel a bit ill. Look at my leaf the red arrow points to – see how the satin stitches are diagonal to the weave of the ground fabric? The instructions have nothing to say about what direction those stitches should go in, but before filling the first leaves way back in band 2, I looked and looked and looked at the supplied picture to try to figure it out. And it looked to me like those satin stitches went diagonally.

There are several leaves in the Lady Band that have narrower segments than ones I’ve already stitched – they're so skinny that I couldn't figure out how diagonal satin stitches would fit. So when I printed the pictures, I zoomed in really close to see how they were stitched.


Apparently ALL the leaves on the original - and the model - are filled with satin stitches that run vertically and horizontally, meeting at the center line of each leaf. You can see that in this picture from the model. It's harder to see on the original sampler, but those leaves the same.

I’m not tearing out the dozens of leaves I’ve stitched. Thought about it for maybe three seconds. Nope, not doing it. So now I’m back to trying to figure out how to stitch the leaves with the really narrow sections. Maybe the best thing is to change those four leaves a little bit so I could fill them in a way that matches the rest of my leaves?



Saturday, June 24, 2017

TUSAL June 2017

Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog will give you a thorough explanation of the Totally Useless Stitch A Long. CLICK HERE for all the details.

No posts in an entire (lunar) month? Rats. And the Silly Stitching Calendar says there have been only 11 stitching days since the last TUSAL check in.

I keep writing and backspacing here, undoing what I’ve typed because it sounds like Jay Stewart describing what’s behind Door Number One (sigh). Two piles of orts this month as there were several of days I just was not up to stitching on Jane.

Band 10 of Jane Turner is finished. It’s a little different with the couched centers of those flowers, a technique that does not appear elsewhere on the sampler. And I can’t help wondering why Jane didn’t fill in those other leaves….

The next band is the one with the trees and the lady and I’m excited to start on it – my needle’s at the first stitch and all ready to go! To whet your appetite a bit, here’s a view that band in the Essamplaire’s reproduction (with apologies to Stitching With Kittens for snagging from her blog as I couldn’t find a similar shot elsewhere), and then again from what I believe is Jane’s own sampler. Pretty, no?

The other orts came from work on the border vine on Catherine Theron’s 1840 Town House Sampler, which has now rambled down both sides and is ready to go across the bottom … and it lines up – always a relief. Am debating whether to stitch the berries (? rosebuds?) in Smyrna cross or perhaps Algerian eye with one thread – just so it’s a bit more interesting. Where it was last time I showed you, and where it is now: