Hanazume: Stamens Everywhere


I had another class in Japanese embroidery (from Bluebonnet Studio)! I am very nearly finished with the Hanazume Flower Circle design from the Japanese Embroidery Center. First I gave the yellow chrysanthemum some knots in the center. Then I embarked on an endless series of stamens. There were five cherry flowers, and each needed 16 stamens at precisely equal angles and lengths. I’m not convinced they truly needed it since I’m pretty sure wild cherries don’t. However, in the spirit of learning the Japanese style I went with it.


Each of the gold stitches had to be carefully couched in a curve. 


And THEN I added an additional two stitches of equal length in twisted yellow silk to the end. DSCF1590


It took a while! I finally finished the couching, but I still have some of the little yellow stitches left. I’ll be finishing it up soon, then learning the de-framing process. Then in late September I start a new Japanese embroidery project!!!

I have also been taking a life drawing class! It’s a total blast and I’ve been making some really nice sketches of the models. I’m working mostly in black and grey markers, so the designs are a little stylized. I’m going to be turning some of them into embroidery. There are several that would be just gorgeous in Japanese embroidery. So the nudity content of this blog is going to go way up in the not too distant future ;-) I also found a gorgeous tree that I’d love to embroider, but I am still working on the design. Perhaps I’ll show it to y’all and we can talk ideas!





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A Visit to Lu Lu’s: Part 2


Next up in my exploration of Suzhou silk embroidery in Lu Lu’s Silk Art Gallery is random stitch! This beautiful lotus flower looks like an ink painting. It’s embroidery! But how do they get the smudged edges???  They build it up through layers and layers of stitches in random directions with slight color variations. The flower itself is in parallel stitches, but the smudged background is entirely covered in tiny silk stitching in random directions. I took closeup photos to show you (below), because nobody can believe it without actually seeing it. It is an unbelievable amount of effort.

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That was a random-stitch embroidery in Chinese style. The gallery also had Western-style art done in random stitch. Check this one out! It was hard to get a good photo since it was next to the door and the light kept reflecting on the glass. But you can use the door at the right of the photo to see the scale of the piece. It’s enormous! The proprietor told me that it took an entire team of embroiderers a year and a half, and I definitely believe it.  And see all the other embroideries lying around in the photo? There were three full rooms like this one, with every wall completely covered. I was in heaven :)


See that little forest to the back right of the embroidered picture? Check it out up close! 


It is totally covered in layers of stitches in a variety of forest colors. What about the rocks in the stream? Here is part of one:


I’m going to show one more close-up. I don’t remember where in the picture this was. Again, layers and layers of stitches.DSCF1509

The whole piece, once more. Now that you’ve seen the details it’s even more impressive.


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A Visit To Lu Lu’s: Part 1


I’ve been vacationing in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California! While I was strolling around, I happened to wander right by Lu Lu’s Silk Art Gallery. It has dozens and dozens of gorgeous Chinese silk embroideries! These are Suzhou style embroidery. And they let me take pictures! See this beautiful vase? It’s entirely worked in Chinese knots. Really! Take a look:


These are all very very tiny knots in silk. Given my recent exasperation with doing far fewer french knots in yarn for my Hilltop Farm project, I have a good idea of just how much effort this must have taken. It’s incredible.


I have a bunch of photos, but I’m only going to show one more piece today :) It’s a beautiful piece worked mostly in straight stitches.  This one is impressive because the entire background as well as the figure is embroidered, and it’s 2ft by 2ft (60cm x 60cm). That’s not a printed fabric background – it’s embroidered.


Despite the large scale of the work, small details like earrings, curls in her hair, and eyelashes are included.


Even her fingernails are drawn in. Her dress has designs on it too. Of course, the entire thing is silk so in person it shines in the light. Walking through three rooms covered in works like this is really an experience.

I’ll show you more another time :)


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Henry Grace a Dieu: New Project


My lovely reader Julie sent me a beautiful kit from her stash. I couldn’t resist, and started it :-) I’ve been saving pictures of it up to show off, and here it is! The Henry Grace a Dieu was the flagship of King Henry VIII while attending a diplomatic summit with King Francis I in 1520. The site of the summit was named the Field of the Cloth of Gold due to the ridiculous amount of fancy fabrics on display in costumes and tents from the two kings.

DSCF1080 Next up will be filling in a whole lot of shield and flag designs. I enjoyed working the cannons. POW POW POW! I would shoot everybody. DSCF1081

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Hilltop Farm: Hillside


I watched Macgyver episodes while stitching this hillside :-) It has four different colors of yarn, and I think they mixed well to look like a distant grassy hill. After working all the bushes I’m sick of french knots, but that was the last of them. Woo!


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Hilltop Farm: Two more trees


This weekend I worked on my Hilltop Farm project (from Rowandean). It’s very different from the Japanese embroidery I’ve been working on lately. Look at my gigantic yarn french knots! It makes for an impressive tree. In fact, I finished two trees in different yarns. I picked these yarns out myself – I love the yarns in the rest of the kit but the yarn that was assigned to these two trees just didn’t do it for me.


All the trees combine for a really textured fun design. I am leaving the sheep for later so the white yarn will stay cleaner.


I also worked on the grass for this hill, which is taking forever! It’s such a large hill. I inspired myself by watching terrible, terrible action movies while embroidering. So terrible I’m not sure I should admit to watching them.


How big is it? 20 inches by 27 inches (0.5m x 0.7m). It goes faster than you think because it’s yarn, but it’s still gonna be a masterpiece!


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Hanazume: Silk layer complete



The two chrysanthemums are complete, one in twisted silk and one in flat silk! I think there will be knots of some kind inside the yellow one and gold veins on the leaves.


For the cherry blossoms I finished the underlying silk layer. Two are worked in flat silk and three in soft-twist thread (which I twisted myself). For comparison below you can also  see the maple leaves in (hard) twist thread and flat silk.



What’s left? Gold! All the cherry flowers will have stylized gold stamens to make it even more sparkly. It shines already, although it’s very difficult to capture the effect in a photo. I tried with two different kinds of lighting -maybe I will try again tomorrow! I love looking at the different textures plus the light on the silk. This is really bringing textural design to my attention. I wonder what happens if you twist non-silk threads? I should try it.DSCF1360 DSCF1374

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