Yipes, Stripes!

First of all, my cat wants to welcome you to 2016.

www.nancyland.com

Second, I needed a project to fill time and quiet my twitchy fingers before the next build. Although I fully intend to get back to the Animals rug, last seen somewhere around here:

www.nancyland.com

It’s been hibernating in an old soft cotton pillowcase for like a year. I love this thing, but stitching it requires a lot of concentration. But as John From Cinncinati suggests, I need to get back in the game. My ideal project right now is something I can fit in between work, and not have to read or follow a chart. While still deriving all the benefits miniature needlepoint stitching brings me.

So I came up with this, sized to fit on the 49-count silk gauze remnant I have on hand. Behold, the beginnings of the Yipes, Stripes rug.

www.nancyland.com

It will be 2.5 x 6 inches (6.35 x 15.25 cm) when done, using Gütermann silk thread. I’m making up the design as I stitch along, although variations of the black and ivory motif will recur. Feels good to be nimbling up my fingers again :)

Animals rug: carrying on

animals_061414-2

Things being what they are, the Animals rug is pretty much the only thing I’ve been working on, and I love it (still). It’s been made somewhat easier with my acquisition of a Needlework System 4 stand, which I also love. I had a personal best breakthrough when I managed to stitch an entire flying saucer-paisley motif correctly (main border, left middle). Compare to the other two, and you’ll see the, um, variations. There are three more to stitch, so we’ll see how that goes.

The area below the blue birds is about to get very interesting, as I work the swirly-jagged yellow border reversed at the bottom. I think the terminal flowers might appear behind the blue birds’ tails. After I get that border in, I’ll be able to determine what else will go in the background.

Here’s a closer view of the center panel:

animals_061414-1

I felt very clever using the flower colors on the big blue birds’ tails. There is a garland of small flowers in the center shape with a yellow background, and I’m undecided what colors to work them in, likewise with the wing-shaped leaves.

Details: 49-count silk gauze, 281 x 398 stitches — well now a bit more (5.75 x 8.125+ inches, 14.57 x 20.63+ cm); DMC cotton and Gütermann silk. Original design by Natalia Frank.

 

Animals rug: all four corners

The perimeter is secured

The perimeter is secured

The Animals rug has been my project of choice lately, interspersed with work on the Great Green Room, the new build for the HBS contest, and ongoing additions to the Sea House Pavilion. Miniature needlepoint stitching is tremendously absorbing and satisfying, and I’ve been searching out pattern books from the library and used bookstores.

I got this from the downtown Santa Cruz Friends of the Library bookshop, primarily for the cover:

“…a modern breakthrough book in the technique of the ancient, joyful, and beautiful craft of needlepoint.” from the 1970 foreword by Clare Booth Luce

“…a modern breakthrough book in the technique of the ancient, joyful, and beautiful craft of needlepoint.”
from the 1970 foreword by Clare Booth Luce

Needlepoint by Design by Maggie Lane, 1970. As it turns out, the cover design is not included in the book, but there are several other motifs graphed — a fish, a stag beetle, a tortoise, a frog — that I look forward to incorporating in something, some day. Well worth the US$4 price.

Then there is this, Needlepoint Designs From Oriental Rugs by Grethe Sorensen, published in 1983:

“Perhaps, unencumbered by outer distractions, the mind’s eye turns inward to the world of color, shape and symbolism to which human imagination first awoke.” Grethe Sorensen, 1981

“Perhaps, unencumbered by outer distractions, the mind’s eye turns inward to the world of color, shape and symbolism to which human imagination first awoke.” —Grethe Sorensen, 1981

This book. This book is luscious. There is a great history and discussion of design elements, rich full-page photography, and well-drawn charts. I am daydreaming a simplified version of the cover’s outer border, without the squiggly bits, as part of the next major rug after Animals is done.

Spec’s: 49-count silk gauze, 281 x 398 stitches — well now a bit more (5.75 x 8.125+ inches, 14.57 x 20.63+ cm); DMC cotton and Gütermann silk. Original design by the fabulous Natalia Frank.

animals rug: turning the third corner

We have turned the third corner!

We have turned the third corner!

Been spending quality time with the Animals rug again. And with progress comes change. I had been in a quandary over the outer border, and finally solved it by adding an entire additional motif to the length. I had also not been satisfied with the design of the bottom center panel, so adding just a bit to the overall length will allow me to flip the whole yellow flamey curlique border with the spotted doves and poppy pods around and put that in on the bottom, replacing the various sun and flower motifs of the original design. It will fit behind and under the larger birds’ tails. And on the outer border, I’ll flip the horse, elephant and the two stripey lions around, so in effect we have birds and animals coming and going. Or something. Makes sense to me.

This is the portion of the center panel I’m working on now:

The upper part of the Animals rug center panel

The upper part of the Animals rug center panel

And you can see I’ve made some other changes to the colorways and pattern as well.

Center panel detail with a few pattern and color changes

Center panel detail with a few pattern and color changes

Spec’s: 49-count silk gauze, 281 x 398 stitches — well now a bit more (5.75 x 8.125+ inches, 14.57 x 20.63+ cm); DMC cotton and Gütermann silk. Original design by the fabulous Natalia Frank.

back to the animals rug

Tiny stitching has resumed

Tiny stitching has resumed

Spending quality time with the Animals rug again. It had been supplanted by work on the Sea House Pavilion, then (and now) by the Great Green Room and the Baluchi prayer rug.

The center design is absurdly complex. Whereas the borders have independent motifs, the interior is all tangled up together, and I have a dozen threads going at once, which of course jumble themselves every other stitch no matter how cleverly I try to keep them out of the way. Part of the challenge, I guess.

Still. I love working on this rug and seeing it come to life. I may have coined a new term to describe those who do miniature needlework: needlepointilist :)

The reality check: 49-count silk gauze, 281 x 398 stitches (5.75 x 8.125 inches, 14.57 x 20.63 cm); single strand of DMC cotton and Gütermann silk. Design by the fabulous Natalia Frank.

the animals rug lives

two doves and a second leopard snakey-beast

center panel progress and a second leopard + snakey-beast

In progress. Underway, going on, ongoing, happening, occurring, taking place, proceeding, continuing; unfinished, in the works.

Aide-mémoire: 2,400 tiny diagonal stitches per square inch of material.

how the leopard got its spots

the leopard and the snakey beast

the leopard and the snakey-beast

This motif was one of the most agreeable to stitch, and watching it emerge was very satisfying. I changed the snakey-beast’s colorway with two shades of olive green and gave it a red eye. The leopard’s eye is the same bright olive because the two are regarding one another, entwined, and I kept thinking about Paul Schrader’s 1980s film Cat People, and hearing Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack and David Bowie’s voice singing “…I’ve been putting out the fire, with gasoline…” So now you have an eensy insight into why this is my favorite motif thus far.

The leopard’s spots were worked by my third-grade self, when “How the Leopard Got His Spots” from Rudyard Kiplings’s Just So Stories was one of my best beloved books.

Before this, I thought the striped lion was my favorite animal, with its Nepalese flag-reminiscent rising sun and its music Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Gold Lion. Curiously, I learned that until 1962, both emblems of that flag had faces; they were removed for “modernization”. Natalia’s chart has faces on its suns which I chose to omit. Me and Nepal, thinking modern. And the Gold Lion lyric, “Gold lion’s gonna tell me where the light is / Take our hands out of control” is an interesting concept to consider when making tiny stitches.

infinite ways to make mistakes

as if I needed more opportunity

as if I needed more opportunity

Tiny rug progress! I am still *loving* stitching this. It’s really cost-effective therapy: I have to concentrate so intently, few other thoughts slip in like, Really? We’re driving across North America with three cats and a giant dog in a 31-foot long so-called recreational vehicle? By choice?

I’d like to able to say my purity of focus prevents mis-stitchery mistakes, but that is profoundly not so. I’m rather amazed at all the many ways I make them. And although I’m learning as I proceed, inventing tricksy cross checks and multi-stranding, new mistakes creep in despite my diligence. Some are caught soon enough, and I can de-stitch the messups, but some are insidious and aren’t detected until far, far too late.

When that happens, I usually just go to bed.

And thus a whole realm of stitchery and pattern adjustments opens up, and I ponder and puzzle the most graceful way to move forward. With 2,401 tiny stitches per square inch of basis, one might think I have lot of options. But pattern and symmetry are both demanding taskmasters, and the challenge becomes how to fail slightly less obviously, and to not let the tiny errors compound.

I totally fail especially at symmetry; my brain fingers invent ways to diverge on not one but both sides of the pattern. And where motifs repeat, I must decide whether to intentionally try and recreate my, um, adjustments or go for the original pattern again. Thereby introducing further potential mistakes variations.

It’s humbling.

So this is about four of the 20 chart pages completed. Mostly. Impressive, ne?

summer coping with liger

pheasant chicken ? and rising sun lion tiger with sword?

pheasant chicken ? and rising sun lion tiger with sword?

The liger motif is what drew me most to the “Animals” rug pattern. I chose not to include the silly face on the sun, but everything else about the creature I love: the vaguely Egyptian mane, the jaunty red and yellow stripes, and the sword ? or staff ? held upright in its paw. I think of it as the cheerful beast who cuts through illusions, allows us to perceive reality, and makes our house sell for full asking price tomorrow. Actual width of the two-motif stitched area is 2.5 inches (6 cm) and represents about 1.5 chart pages of 20. Twenty. I’ve plenty of time and opportunity to perceive reality. Yay!