Monthly Archives: February 2009

Plans go awry

Some evenings don’t go according to plan.

My husband is away, so I thought I would make myself an easy dinner, then spend some time relaxing and stitching, and go to bed early (I was up at 4:45 this morning).

But what happened is that I started dinner, and then started a load of laundry, and then the phone rang, and then I went to check email, and back to the stove, and in between, I made a batch of cookies, and put them on the stovetop while waiting for the oven to heat up.

And then, 10 minutes later, while checking my work email, I smelled something burning, and went into the kitchen, and discovered that the I had put the baking pan with the cookies on a hot burner by mistake.  So I grabbed the Pyrex baking dish, and moved it off the burner, and took a step back, and the dish exploded.

This didn’t just break.  It exploded.  It was one of the few times I’ve been truly grateful that I wear glasses.

There were shards of glass everywhere.  And even better, I had made a batch of linzer bars, which include raspberry jam, so there was raspberry jam mixed with the glass.  On the floor, on the counters, on the stove.  It looked like a crime scene.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ontario division.

So I spent the evening cleaning – swept, vacuumed, cleaned all the counters, took apart the stove (glass got in the burners, and under the burners).  Tomorrow I’ll wash the floor.  Really, I’m too tired and too pissed off to stitch.

Lesson learned – and I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way of stating this – too much multitasking ruins the cookies.


More spiral trellis stitch

I’m enjoying working with this spiral trellis stitch.  I tried another example:


The paisley shape is outlined in 3 rows of trellis stitch.  There’s  a round spiral trellis inside the shape, and the inside is filled in with some random French knots.  This is all done with a variegated no. 5 perle.

On an angled view, you can see the height of the paisley shape a bit better:


I like how this stands out from the background.  But lesson learned – filling in the inside after having first built up the edge was not smart.  I should have done this in reverse.  After outlining the shape in backstitch, I should have first stitched the inside circle, then done the edge.

Trellis stitch

I was hunting for examples of trellis stitch.  Most of what I’ve found are from historical textile collections.   For example, the Victoria & Albert Museum has a fabulous jacket – go to their site and look at the original and at an enlarged version of this detail.

I also found a number of examples in samplers – mostly with trellis stitch used as a filling, rather than spiral trellis.

Here’s my own first efforts at spiral trellis stitch:


The darker example was done with a varigated no. 5 perle cotton, the lighter one with a no. 8 perle.

Here’s one more sample:


It is a little hard to see in this image, but I first made the center with 5 or 6 french knots.  After doing those, I backstitched a circle around them, then started working a spiral trellis going out.  This would be more effective if the center were in a contrasting color.  I may try this again.


In celebration of a day off from work (“Family Day” here in Ontario, or, as I prefer to think of it, “Not Presidents Day,”) I tried making bagels for the first time.  I’m most pleased with my results.


I used a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website which called for steaming the bagels, rather than boiling them, prior to baking.  I didn’t bother with adding sesame seeds, but next time I try this, I think I’ll substitute a bit of rye flour.  All in all, a very satisfactory first time effort.

The only problem is that the recipe calls for letting the dough rise at room temperature.  Whatever temperature that is, it probably isn’t the temperature of my house in February.  I put the dough in the oven to rise, to keep it from drafts.  I have an electric oven rather than a gas oven (no pilot light), so I turn on the oven at 150 degrees for 2-3 minutes every couple of hours.

On another topic, Sharon B has posted this month’s Stitch explorer challenge, trellis stitch.  I’m looking forward to this challenge.  This is a new stitch for me.  Last month’s challenge, chicken scratch, was also new to me.  It was interesting – I very much liked seeing other people’s efforts – but I don’t think this is a style of needlework that particularly appealed to me.

More chicken scratch

I was playing a bit more with chicken scratch.  Here’s a couple of ideas.  First, I was trying an alternate lacing – a little messy, but I can see how this would get interesting:


Next, I tried changing the dimensions – instead of a 4 x 4 cross stitch, I elongated it.


I can see how this would lend itself to more variations.  However, it does raise a question – how far can this be pushed before it is no longer “chicken scratch”?  For instance, since this is not on checked fabric (which most of the references mention as a basis), does that “disqualify” this?

As an aside – if I do “whitework” in another color, is it still whitework, or does it loose some basic characteristic?

Anyway, I also did a bit of searching regarding the origin of the name.  I couldn’t find any information on that, but was intrigued by the number of other names I found for this type of work:   snowflaking, Australian lace stitch, gingham lace stitch, depression lace stitch, Amish embroidery, cross-stitch on gingham, gingham tracks, and snowflake embroidery.

Where have I been?

Where have I been?

It has been about 6 months – no, 7 months – since I’ve done any needlework. What happened?  Well, first it was summer, and I’m outside as much as possible – sometimes working in the garden, sometimes just lying in a hammock – and I generally don’t do a lot of stitching in the summer.  Then in the fall, I was obsessed by the election.  Work has been quite busy, and I can come up with any number of other excuses.  Basically, I was unmotivated. I’ve had piles of stuff sitting on my worktable for months.

Sharon B’s started a new activity – Stitch Explorer 2009 – to explore different styles of needlework. I’m joining in late.  The first style is chicken scratch.  This isn’t a style I’ve tried before, but the individual elements – cross stitch, running stitch, lacing – are all familiar.

Here’s my first example.

chicken scratch example

Chicken scratch is generally done on gingham or other checked fabric, which I don’t particularly like (nor do I have any readily available), so instead I counted threads to set up a grid.