where warp and weft intersect

a corner outer border

a corner outer border. I decided not to keep track of the time spent, for obvious reasons.

Working on this tiny rug is like entering another dimension (not that scary Twilight Zone episode one.) It is interesting training my eyes to see not only the tiny holes of the silk mesh, but where warp and weft intersect. Threaded needle goes through the openings, but the actual stitch is made diagonally. It’s a different set of pattern recognitions depending on the direction in which I am stitching, both vertically and horizontally and right to left or left to right. Seriously, where to stab the needle and where to lay the stitch looks different each way. Thread makes a difference, too. Silk fits the holes perfectly and slides through easily; cotton is fatter, fuzzier and tends to untwine itself more.

Progress: I’m making it.

an outer corner border in relation to all the rest of the rug

the outer corner border in relation to all the rest of the unstitched rug. I know.

my new best friend

this threader saves minutes of aggravation

this threader saves minutes of aggravation

So, I’ve begun stitching what now seems like a gigantic rug. The stitches are even tinier than I imagined, nearly impossible. Six rows cover .125 inch (3mm). Mistakes have been made, and quite a few of them picked out and re-stitched, though not all. The difference between a correct diagonal stitch and an incorrect horizontal one are barely discernible. (Invoking two of the Four Ps: Perfectionism and Patience.) I have learned silk thread is far more forgiving than cotton. I have taught my non-dominant, under-hoop hand to stab the needle fairly accurately up through the mesh, which seems to speed up the rate of progress. I have stitched, and then removed, an entire corner motif outline because I counted incorrectly and was two rows off. Beginning to get the feel of needle placement in the mesh. Suspecting I may have, um, over-estimated my abilities with this as a first project. Doing it anyway.

15 minutes into it


large chart for a tiny rug

The “Animals” rug kit I got from Natalia Frank has been breached. It is intimidating. This is the chart, the map from which I will stitch. It is 20 pages. O_O The chart alone is a thing of beauty.


palette of silk and cotton thread, and silk gauze

The colors are gorgeous, subtle and rich. The silk gauze, sturdier than I expected, feels like it will hold up to the thousands of stitches it will eventually carry.

The first step (apparently) is to frame the edges of the gauze with a sturdier fabric, to both stabilize and extend its size to fit the 12-inch hoop I’ll be using (probably until the end of time).

a drop hollows out the stone

Exquisite miniature rug by Natalia Frank

Exquisite 1:12 miniature rug by Natalia Frank

I’ve ordered this needlework rug kit from Natalia Frank, a miniaturist and needlewoman of remarkable talent and skill. To try to get your mind around what she does — and what I want to do — know that the final piece measures 5.73 x 8.12 inches (14.5 x 20.6 centimeters). It is stitched on 49 count silk gauze, which translates to 49 x 49 tiny stitches per square inch of gossamer fabric (281 x 398 stitches do the math). With a single strand of DMC embroidery thread. (Regular embroidery floss is six strands twisted together.) I’m starting with the finger and eye exercises suggested on her blog.

I am excited about this project for so many reasons, like for instance you can only work on it for 20 or 30 minutes at a time or you’ll go blind, and that you don’t need a whole studio to do it in, and that Natalia has The Four Ps. That’s one more P than mine: Perfectionism, Procrastination, Paralysis. Hers are Practice, Persistence, Patience, Perfection. Her definition of Perfection is that no one is, which we all need to be reminded of from time to time. And she quotes Ovid, Gutta cavat lapidem (A drop hollows out the stone.) Thinking I like her Ps way more than mine. I’ll keep you apprised of my progress, and do check out her work.