Saturday, January 01, 2011

Fiber, really

Hue, value, chroma. Okay, that's out of the way. I believe it has something to do with how much black, white, and purity of color, but, it's more axes to me and like chirality, I am not so good at it. I think about it partly because of sites like Colourlovers and partly because I am trying to organize my embroidery thread holdings. These are comparable to my wool holding, only much smaller in area, thank God. It's bad enough. Little DMC skeins everywhere.

So I have been doing the embroidery thing again, partly because of a need to have more sugar skulls in my life, and from there to Sublime Stitching and Urban Threads and Mr. X Stitch and partly because it was my first real craft. When I was about eight, my mom tried to quit smoking by taking up crewel work. She did not succeed in quitting smoking, but I was interested in stitching and she bought me some kiddy embroidery sets (polyester penguins in herringbone. I still can't do good herringbone). Sometime not much later she gave her friends a copy of Native Funk and Flash and I must have nearly worn it out staring before she gave it away. Around then I started my father a shirt, which I worked on at various times, letting him wear it in between.

And other stuff. I fell for counted cross stitch in about 1980, and pursued that (I also learned to knit and crochet) until a) my son was about 5 months old and b) I left my bag of threads and patterns on the curb one day and it was gone when I came back. I hope someone enjoyed the Beatrix Potter patterns. You cannot do them with a newborn unless you have a nanny or much more powers of concentration that I do.

So I sent out for ALL the DMC colors and organized them and didn't do much embroidery again until about 1990, when I did some ecclesiastical cross-stitch. Do not put smouldering incense in the wastebasket of the church you are using. When you burn down the sacristy, as some Ethiopian Rite Christians did to mine, you make bad, unecumenical feelings. It was a lovely Advent/Lenten stole in eight colors of blue and purple on ash-grey linen and it was about nine feet long. Perhaps I shall see it in heaven.

No, I am over that. Of course I am.

Anyway, I read in my entry of August 23, 2008, that I was asked to make Alice an embroidered tea cozy, so I promptly began a shirt about the Gault project (there are two blue chambray shirts in that Flickr set, one his and one mine. I need to record the one I made Doug). My shirt is about 2/3 finished, as far as the things I intended to illustrate, and I actually made half of a splendid weird tea cozy for Alice this past fall, only then I had Christmas and so on.

I had a bunch of things to craft, so of course I spent a lot of time putting that off and became serious about overhauling the whole darned embroidery stash. I have a fancy thread color card with real thread from about the mid-80's, and a supplement, but that's still missing DMC's latest new colors. Apparently someone there bit the bullet and rearranged their cards into color families, much more useful than the old way. They sell a photographic color card, or you can download them off the web. Then, if you are insane, or OCD, or avoiding housework, you can Photoshop each column onto a separate piece of cardstock, and affix ziplock snack bags (they're small, and they open on the long axis) to it, and be able to see what and where your threads are.

There are something like 75 colors of green alone. Whitish green, yellowish green, murky green, different intensities, different amounts of blue in them. A reasonable person would pick maybe 5 and let it go, but I have never been reasonable, and if you embroider trees or lawns or flowers... well, you point out, fine, but you can pick them by eye. And for self-generated projects you can, but I also occasionally like to do... kits. Other people's patterns. Needlepunch tends to come in cutesy Olde American Primitive patterns; sometimes I find it restful. Sometimes I don't want to make something up, I want CUTE or EASY or tattoo-flavored. And then, though I am ashamed to admit it because I am usually so damned snarky, I ... I follow the directions. And they ask for specific colors, so you need to be able to find specific colors. If you have an iThing (Phone or Pod) you can get a very nice DMC floss app called X Stitcher, and you can feed your need for tidiness by recording what colors you actually have.

I have made three Instructables: Organize your embroidery floss (first steps)

Making a color card (embroidery floss mostly)

and Organize an unreasonable number of embroidery floss

It takes longer to do an Instructable than you would think, despite an excellent interface. Working with me is always an exercise in patience and mislaid files. But I hope it will make thins easier for someone like me. I think I would have run across them.


Anonymous said...

hmmm. Your organizational tools are quite wonderful. But when I start a new project, I just go buy more thread. Hey! I should start a new project!

Laurie said...

That first paragraph is an instant classic and it blows my half-tea'd mind into shreds. Love it!

I did embroidery as my first craft also. I should take a picture and post my magnum opus. A sun on my jeans. Can't fit into the jeans anymore.