Sunday, August 31, 2008

A True Sampler

Samplers are for learning ... whether it is new stitches, new motifs, or how to use new fibers. And, I am finding Spots of Fun [a Debbie Draper Design free chart] a very real learning experience. In stitching it, I am using many "new-to-me" fibers. Here is a run-down of my reactions so far
Thread Gatherer Silkn Color: a dream to work with ... I will have to add Thread Gatherer to my short list of favorite silks along with Caron Waterlilies and Vikki Clayton silks. By the by, the color I used was Mandarin ... just beautiful
Rainbow Gallery Grandeur: a silk perle comparable to DMC #5 perle in weight. On my 28ct linen stitched over two, this fiber gives a very sculptured effect, which is interesting. However, because it sits so high on the fabric, it tends to overshadow the next linen thread and it is very easy to miscount stitches if the stitcher is not vigilant ... I learned this the hard way and had to frog some 30 stitches because I was one thread off my count. I can't quite call this a drawback because the manufacturer does note that when using this fiber for cross stitch, one should stick to 11 ct aida or 10ct tula. So I was actually using this fiber beyond its recommended range. In any case, I did learn that if one frogs very carefully the fiber is salvageable. The other thing I learned was that I had to change needle sizes ... for most of the silks and cottons on this project I have used a #28 Piecemakers tapestry needle ... for this fiber I used a #24 John James tapestry. Even with the larger eye, the tail tends to fray, so keep tails short to avoid waste. The "twist" of the perle loosens as one stitches so it is important to use relatively short strands of 12-14" to keep the perle look. In short, it is a decent value for the money spent but if money is not an issue, I strongly recommend going with
Thread Gatherer Silken Pearl: a much finer perle than the above, with a higher sheen and a tighter twist. This perle does not loosen as one stitches. I continued to use the larger eyed needle, shorter lengths and a shorter tail just to be on the safe side. This perle is so tightly twisted that the thread in the needle needs to be relaxed frequently [by dangling], and at the beginning of the stitching while the thread is still relatively long, slip knots can form if attention isn't given to properly laying the fiber. But once the stitcher establishes a rhythm, the fiber just flows and glides ... well, like the silk it is. It lays beautifully on the fabric and looks terrific. It also requires very gentle frogging ... and if I had to frog more than ten stitches, I'd probably cut my thread ... for fear I'd lose that beautiful sheen if the fiber passed through the fabric too often. The color I used was Rose Briar.
Mystery Silk labelled only CW 542, a remnant from a CATS class: It breaks my heart that I don't have a better identification for this beautiful fiber ... all I can remember is that the instructor [either Lori Birmingham or Liz Turner Diehl] described it as a Japanese hand-painted silk and used the term color washed. But, oh my, does it ever stitch beautifully... if I ever again run across such fibers in a needlework shop, I shall buy all of my favorite colors.
I have a number of other new fibers kitted up to use in this sampler and I shall report on them as I use them. These include: Caron Watercolors [a 3 ply pima cotton] and Impressions, Thread Gatherer Sheep's Silk, Rainbow Gallery Pebbly Perle, Glorianna Silk Floss and Silk Ribbons and some hand-dyed cotton from Catherine Jordan of Catherine's Designs. Of course, I am using many fibers with which I am quite familiar as well: GAST and WDW overdyed cottons, Caron Wildflowers and Waterlilies, Kreinik Silk Moire, Needle Necessities overdyed cotton, Rainbow Gallery Fuzzy Stuff and Mandarin floss [bamboo].
I like the variety of texture and tone using all these fibers is giving to the project ... the light catches each differently ... so the eye is treated to quite a display. I am thinking about adding some Mill Hill Petite Seed beads and glass treasures and a few tiny buttons to the piece as well but I will have to try a few and then judge whether they add or detract from the look of the piece. I am afraid I am one of those folks who actually have to see embellishments in place before I judge whether I want to include them or not ... I don't have the kind of visual imagination that can project how such a thing will look.

1 comment:

Erynne said...

Riona, thank you for posting your reviews of the various fibers you are using; very helpful!

I was organizing my stash this weekend and I shamefully admit to having found fibers I must've forgotten about! I don't even remember where I got them which is worse!
I have The Thread Gatherer's - Sheeps Silk in 8 different colours, Flax 'N Colors in three sizes and various colours, Silk 'N Colors Egyptian Nights x2 skeins and some Silken Chenille in Forest of Greens. Geez, I'm such a dum dum. I must have put it away because it intimidated me at the time, haha!
Should've seen my face when I picked up the Sheeps Silk....I had that lost look on my what is this puffy stuff?! Okay, so far I know you're not supposed to ply down!