Sunday, March 02, 2008

Camp Stitchalot

Feb. 29-Mar. 2 Stitches 'N Things (my favorite store!) hosted Camp Stitchalot at the Comfort Inn in Davison, MI. The weekend featured classes by three needlework designers, a needle felting class by Deb Koch of Stitches 'N Things, an on-site store, and lots of time to stitch! I attended with my stitchin' friends Laurie and Sue.

We spent most of the weekend stitching current projects. Laurie started and nearly finished a Huckwork baby afghan. Huckwork is a Swedish surface weaving done with yarn on Monk's Cloth, a soft, layered cloth that's easy to work with -- and the needlework doesn't show on the back! Huckwork goes quickly, as long as you count correctly on the first row.

Sue worked on a beautiful counted-thread "housewife" piece by Betsy Morgan (Willing Hands Designs). I keep thinking it's Hardanger because it includes eyelet stitches, but there is no cut work on this piece! It looks like a long, narrow band sampler on the outside but is designed to roll up to carry around your stitching tools and threads inside. She's stitching it in variegated silk floss on linen. I'd never be patient enough to do such beautiful work! It's amazing.

Here's the cover of Betsy's book and Sue's work in progress:

A close-up of Sue's work:

Isn't the shading amazing?! Sue uses a laying tool so all the threads lay flat to show off the stitches and shading. She says there's a reason I can't find a web site for Betsy:

She may not have a website because you can only take her pieces when you take a class from her. She gets hired for seminars and by guilds, then you can get her stuff. You really need her, because of the idiosyncrasies in her stuff that she tells you in person, then you write your own notes so you remember. Plus her technique for joining from the outside is pretty nifty – you need to see it in person – then have her watch you do it so you can complete the project later.
This kind of beautiful, detailed work is way out of my league! I used to like complicated pieces but now that I have very limited stitching time I stitch mostly small, simple things that I can actually finish. I really admire Sue and others who have time patience and dedication for such amazing and time-consuming projects!

I only took one class this weekend:

Deb Koch of Stitches N Things

The "'Sheep Tricks' Needle Felting Pin" class included a kit with everything we needed to learn how to needle felt and make a cute sheep pin. Mine looks like the one on the right. I chose it because it's cute and the bell reminds me of an iPod (these are very smart sheep). Deb also told us about the history of needle felting. This was my second needle felting project (the first was a snowman pin when I took Deb's other class last October). This time I learned that when she says to go slow and be careful with those sharp, barbed needles, she's not kidding!

When I wasn't doing that I started and finished cross-stitching "Frosty Whiskers" by Mosey N Me:

I stitched the piece on the right but used a light pewter gray instead of light blue for the background. This was one of the few times I've stitched on linen instead of aida cloth and I really like it! The linen is a finer even weave cloth than aida; this linen was 25 threads/squares per inch so I stitched over two threads/squares. This makes the three-quarters stitches much easier and neater. I'm very pleased with myself for starting and finishing two projects in one weekend!

I enjoyed meeting the designers and admiring their work. Their classes looked really cool but I already have so many projects to work on! Here are the classes I did not take (descriptions adapted from the Stitches 'N Things web site):

Betsy Stinner of Earth Threads

The "Amish Basket Stitching Smalls" kit included a basket handmade by an eighty year old Amish woman. Stitchers made the "smalls" to go in the basket: a needle book, wax container, and scissor fob. The class also included a lecture on the Amish people and their way of life presented with Power Point. (I love the irony of that!)

Catherine Strickler of Indigo Rose

Students in "Kate's Necessaire" class made a cool caddy for needlework tools. When closed, it looks like fancy book. When, open it has pockets for scissors, a laying tool, and needle tin. It even has a tiny pin cushion!

Denise Archer

Students in this class learned how to make, bead, and finish/assemble a "biscornu" (pronounced "biss-kor-noo" or "biss-core-new"), a French adjective that means "that which has an irregular form, with projections" or "complicated and bizarre." It's also called a "tuffet" (yes, as in "Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet"!). It's a tiny cushion that can be used as a pincushion, ornament, scissor fob, sachet, or whatever else you can think of. (In our house it would be a cat toy.) The kit included buttons and beads for the top and a magnet for the bottom. I wasn't interested until I actually saw these! They are interesting, attractive, and look like a lot of fun to stitch!

As always, it was fun and inspiring to see what all the other stitchers (about 40 in all) were working on. I saw lots of cool needlework, made new friends, and am very glad we went! I'm already looking forward to the next camp in October.


J. Michael Held said...

Hi Cat!

I've been offline for six months and it totally sucked. I'll never live in a camper again. Good to see Saffron is still lurking about; my cat is not. Watch my blog for an overdue eulogy. Take care and I'll be in touch.

linen and things said...

For years, I made the mistake of buying the wrong type of linen, bath products and other home products simply because I decided to buy from the big and popular names.
However , the love for linen isnt dying as far i am concerned :) . Thats why i am reading linen related blogs :)

The Cat Bastet said...

Hey JMH,

Nice to hear from you but I'm sorry to hear about your cat. I know it's hard to lose a furry little buddy, no matter how long they live.



The Cat Bastet said...

Hello linen and things,

Thanks for visiting my blog!

For years, I made the mistake of buying the wrong type of linen,

I've been very lucky. All the folks at Stitches 'n' Things are very helpful with lots of good advice about linen, fibers, etc.

So far, I've only stitched on a couple of types of linen but I have enjoyed it. I have more for my next couple projects and will write about those when I get to them.