Monday, 31 January 2011

Setting Goals

I have a difficult relationship with time. I’ve never been able to manage it, keep track of it, or make best use of it. If times marches on then time and I march to a completely different beat.

To me time is erratic and unpredictable when logic tells me it should be constant and measurable. When I think that I have plenty of time, it speeds away from me, hence, I am always behind time. Time is the bane of my life.

I’ve been thinking about how I can make more time for embroidery, particularly my Japanese embroidery and beading. In the past, I have devised many plans for managing my time more efficiently but none have worked for me. I think it is time to take a different approach. Rather than focus on time, I am going to get SMART. I am going to get myself some goals that are Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time-bound.

I am going to start with four goals for February based around my four Japanese embroidery frames.

Loving Couple is on the first frame. This is my largest frame and the one I prefer to use for my Phase pieces. I have finished the stitching but need to do the finishing. I can then mount Loving Couple ready for the framers. I want to complete this by the end of February.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Embroidery Bridge Between East and West is on the second frame and has been for over 3 years. I am getting together with some friends this weekend for an embroidery weekend. I am going to do some stitching on Bridge. I won’t be able to finish it this month but would like to complete it this year.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Poppy Pouch is on my third frame. This is my main project at the moment. I have been doing a little nearly every day and it is steadily progressing. I have now done all of the couching on side two and can now move onto the flowers. I would like to finish Poppy Pouch by the end of February. This may be a little tight but if I continue to do a little each day, I think that it is achievable.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

My fourth frame is less substantial than the others. At the moment I have my Phase IV beading on it but I think that the eventual weight of the beads may be a problem. When Poppy Pouch is finished, I will transfer Floral Melody to frame 3. I would like to use this frame for projects that take less stitching time. I will probably start with the Double Cherry Blossoms fan.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I have other things on the go but don’t intend to set goals for those just yet. I want to see how I get on with these main objectives first. I plan to do a progress report and monthly objectives at the beginning of each month.

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

That's my Himotaba, update

I emailed the Culture, Community and Rural Affairs team and the county council web team. First thing this morning I had a reply informing me that my message had been passed to the Heritage and Museum Department and that they would try to respond in approximately 3-5 days. They responded in approximately 3-5 hours. The picture has been removed from their website and I received a gracious apology from the Senior Keeper of Printed and
Topographical Collections
Department of Culture, Community and Rural Affairs and from the manager of the museum.

They did not disclose whether they selected the image from the web or if it was supplied by the “...local experts and tutors ...” !

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Yes, sir! That's my Himotaba

I have a google alert set for Japanese Embroidery and every now and then it provides with me an interesting link. Yesterday it provided me with a surprising link. It took me to an events page on a County Council website which is advertising a lecture on "...the beauty and skill of traditional Japanese Embroidery with local experts and tutors ..." at one of the Council's museums.

On the page there is a picture of Himotaba. In itself not very surprising but this is a picture of My Himotaba used without my knowledge. No one sought my permission to use this picture. Not the 'local experts and tutors' (whom I have never met), nor the Culture, Community and Rural Affairs team that last updated the page; and not the county council web team who maintain the site.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

While I am flattered that my work was chosen as an example "... of the beauty and skill of traditional Japanese Embroidery ...”", I am amazed that none of the parties concerned are concerned with observing copyright. I am amazed that they would use an image without prior consent and not bother to acknowledge the designer (JEC) and/or the embroiderer. Lack of any such acknowledgement implies that the work was designed and stitched by one of the named tutors.

After my initial surprise, I wondered if I was mistaken and if this Himotaba could in fact have been stitched by someone other than me. So how can I be so certain that this is my work? Although this phase piece has been stitched by many Japanese Embroidery students, no two will be identical. The design is available on a variety of fabrics; mine is stitched on gold Nishijin. It does not appear gold in the picture but the rich, smooth appearance of the fabric is still apparent.

Then there is the colour of the cords. I have used a traditional Noh Drama colour scheme; so have many others, but there are many variations on this theme. Ruth and I began Himotaba in the same class. We each had the same palette of colours but a couple of shades apart; my set of silks comprised deep, rich tones.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Even if two students stitched this design on the same fabric with the same coloured silks, they would not produce clones.

Given the method of blending from one colour of thread to another, it would be impossible for one embroiderer to exactly replicate the work of another.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The fade-out on the ends of the cords must surely be as unique as finger prints.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Then there is my tassel! When I first stitched the tassel I thought that it looked too mean for the end of the double central cord.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I stitched extra strands between the existing ones to give the tassel a fuller look. This is an adaptation of the original design. I now realise that I my lines of staggered diagonals should be more like those I eventually stitched on Mr Duck’s neck feathers but I quite like the 'unique feature' on my Himotaba.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

When you spend nearly 150 hours on an embroidery, you get to know it intimately! I know that is my Himotaba.

Happy Stitching.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Seed Beading

They say that the more you practice something the better you get. Well, I have had a few opportunities to practice being random now and I think that I might be getting the hang of it. Certainly I am growing in confidence and the word 'random' no longer strikes fear into my heart. I might even go so far as to say I am beginning to enjoy it.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The area around the pansies is filled with Tataki-ume, seed stitch with beads. I have already used this technique on Calm Flow and found a method that works for me. In fact, I am becoming so laissez faire about the whole random thing that I hardly employ technique at all now and simply let the beads tell me where they would like to go ;-)

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

As on Calm Flow, the beads are closely placed within the available space and not having to think about the spacing between beads certainly makes the process easier.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The space around the flowers is not terribly big and was filled in three short stitching sessions.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

One side of the bag is now complete, so all I have to do is stitch the second side in exactly the same way! I am not a big fan of doing things again but the bag has two sides so it has to be done. My friend Sue, who has already completed both sides, tells me that the second side goes in much quicker than the first. I’ve made a good start on couching the rows of white, silver and gold beads. I plan to do all of the couching before stitching the flowers this time. Although I don’t mind couching, the flowers are much more fun to do, so they will be my reward when the couching is done.

Happy Stitching.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Parallel Lines

Ideally, all of the couching should be done before stitching the poppies. The beads are strung onto a thread which is couched into position with a second thread. During couching the string of beads is help in position by winding the thread around a pin. The raised beads of the flowers make it difficult to position the string of beads accurately and the couching thread keeps snagging on the crystals. I think that the frequent snagging and tugging is the reason that the thread securing the large crystal broke!

I had two lessons when I began Poppy Pouch and wanted to use the class time to learn how to stitch the flowers. Once I’d started them, I could not tear myself away from the beautiful blooms; the remaining couching had to wait until the flowers were finished!

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I do enjoy couching. I have spoken before about how I can lose myself in the rhythm of the stitching. And watching those rows of beads gradually filling the space is very satisfying.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

They are not perfect, there are one or two gaps between the beads, but they are straight and perfectly parallel.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy stitching

Friday, 7 January 2011

Poppy Progress

I am lucky in that my office closes for the entire Christmas/New Year period giving me a whole 12 days off. As for everyone, this is a busy time of year for me but I usually have 2 or 3 days with nothing in particular planned when I imagine I will get some stitching done. And usually it turns out to be a figment of my imagination. This year proved to be no exception and I barely picked up a needle during the entire break. In fact, since I finished Loving Couple I’ve done very little stitching but I have managed to squeeze in a little time with Poppy Pouch now and then. This design lends itself quite nicely to short sessions; areas such as a leaf can be completed in about an hour.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

While I worked on Loving Couple, I had stowed Poppy Pouch in my frame carrier. When I took it back out the largest crystal was missing!

Fortunately, I found it in the bottom of the carrier. Instead of simply replacing the crystal, I decided to reverse stitch the centre of the flowers and redo them incorporating some of the bicone beads supplied with the design. At first I had substituted the bicones for small margarita beads; I was concerned that the bicones would not cover the printed guidelines. With all the crystals removed I could see that the lines were covered by the beads of the petals.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The margaritas and the bicones are both fabulous so I have no preference between the version 1 and version 2 so I may as well stick with the bicones as they are currently in place.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Picking up from where I had left off in August, it didn’t take many sessions to complete the flowers and their leaves.

Happy Stitching.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

2011 already!

Where did the year go?

It appears that I am writing progressively fewer posts each year; last year I posted only 50 times, less than one post per week! I shall have to try to reverse that trend. The excuse I gave myself was that I did less stitching in 2010 and therefore had less to write about. A quick review of my year shows that I actually stitched far more than I’d thought. Below are the projects that I finished during the past 12 months; two of them, Himotaba and Edward, where started the previous year.

Valentine travelling page

Edward Scissor Fish
Dragonfly scissorcase

Drooping Cherry Tree fan
Snowflake travelling page
Blue bead necklace
Black bead necklace
Green bead necklace

Loving Couple
Christmas Card/ornament
Beaded bead necklace

There were a few more completed projects that I have not blogged for some reason, mainly pages for the Travelling Books.

Below are projects that I have begun and hope to complete (or at least progress) in 2011 and some projects that I hope to start.

Embroidery Bridge Between East and West. I can hardly believe that I began this piece in November 2007. Admittedly, I’ve stitched mainly during shows but I had planned to move it up on my to-do list and perhaps complete it this year!
Poppy Pouch – I’ve complete on side of the bag and begun (just) side 2
Double Cherry Blossoms fan – I did the gold leafing in a workshop with Midori, I have yet to begin the embroidery
Floral Melody (Phase IV Japanese bead embroidery) – I have had one class on this phase but want to complete Poppy Pouch before going on with it.
Floral Glove – started then I hit a snag. Thistle Threads have sent some new piece of linen so I can start again.
Goldwork master class – This class has been running for 8 months but I have yet to look at the first lesson!
Travelling Pages – I still 'owe' several people pages in this swap, 2 are in progress.
Travelling Books – despite my best efforts, I could not resist joining in this swap between members of the Oxford branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild
Japanese Embroidery, Phase VII – I have booked my place on the March course in Bournemouth and practically wriggle with excitement whenever I think about it. I must not wish my life away but I so look forward to my week of Japanese Embroidery every spring. Phase VII is, in my view, the most difficult. I don’t convince myself that I can’t do it even before I have tried but this phase teaches long and short stitch and I find LSS amazingly difficult to do. I hope that my tutors can help me finally come to grips with this stitch but I am not at all confident about it.

I am also seriously considering an entry for the Embroiderer’s Guild Members Competition. I have the germ of an idea but it needs fleshing out. I also need to consider if I have time for what I have in mind or if I can adapt the design to be less time consuming!

I dare say that I will be tempted by one or two more things throughout the year and some of this list will fall by the way side but for now, that is what I have in mind for 2011.

Happy Stitching and Happy New Year.