Sunday, October 22, 2023

Daily art on the cruise 2

I wrote in my last post about a large piece of stitching that I did on my cruise, and said that I was not pleased with the result.  

The next piece I worked on made me much happier.

stitching, July 31

It was fun to be working on color after two weeks of beige, and I started out making little stars in the corner for a sky, but after only one day of stars I shifted to blanket stitch across the bottom for the earth in a landscape.  And after only one day of that, I realized that the sashiko thread wasn't playing well with blanket stitch.  

stitching, August 1

I don't have a lot of experience with sashiko thread, despite having admired its use by many other artists.  A friend gave me a package of it some time ago, but I only started using it earlier this year.  I love it for straight stitches, but apparently the blanket stitch causes the thread to twist and I found that after four or five inches, the two strands of the thread would start to separate, and I didn't like the looks of the stitches with the two distinct strands.  I compensated by twirling the thread in the opposite direction between finger and thumb every few stitches, but this was tedious and imperfect.

Before too long I was planning my exit strategy from blanket stitch, plus an exit strategy from the six-pointed stars, which I realized would be boring if they filled the whole sky.  There had been a supermoon earlier that week, with lots of nice pictures on TV, so I decided to put a supermoon in my landscape.  I wanted it to be perfectly round, so I made a template and filled the circle with tightly packed coral stitch.

stitching, August 6

The moon went slowly, and on August 10 I had a disaster, taking a classic face-plant fall when we were ashore in Ireland.  I smashed my glasses and ended up with a beautiful black eye.  That left me coping for the rest of the trip with my $2 glasses that I had luckily stuck in my cosmetic case just in case.  They focused about 24 inches from my eye, perfect for computer work and acceptable for reading on my phone, but not well suited for precise embroidery. 

I could see well enough  to finish the moon and start a new density of sky, in which I picked up only one thread in a tiny dot of a stitch.  But I couldn't see well enough to actually do the tiny stitches accurately.  So in a snit, I switched to another piece of fabric and started a new stitching.  It was not well planned, and it looked terrible.  So I slunk back to my blue landscape and resolved that I would figure out how to soldier through for the ten days left in the cruise.

Turns out that sometimes you can overcome adversity with a good attitude and a willingness to try what seems impossible.  I found that I could reliably make stitches over a single thread of background fabric by feel, if not by sight.  The hefty homespun-type fabric had fat enough threads that I could place the tip of the needle at the hole where the thread emerged, then carefully move it up and over one thread and stick the needle in where it came down over the hump.  This worked for probably nine stitches out of every ten, and on the tenth, I was willing to pull the thread out for a do-over.  

stitching, August 23

At home, of course, I wouldn't dream of being so picky and patient, but what else was there to do while listening to lawyers talk about the fine points of mugshots?  It was surprisingly calming to slowly stitch a Milky Way across the blue, and I finished the piece a couple of days before we came home.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Daily art on the cruise 1

I do daily art, you know, and I gave some thought to how to do this while traveling.  Most of the time this year I have been doing a separate small piece of stitching each day, working from my huge inherited stash of my friend Joanne's leftover fabrics.  But I didn't want to have to prepare 35 pieces of fabric to take along.  So I found four large pieces, packed a couple of skeins of white sashiko thread and worked a little bit each day. 

The routine on a cruise ship varies depending on whether you're at sea or making a port stop for the day.  On sea days there are more activities such as concerts and lectures, and I did a lot of stitching during those events.  But where I really went to town was while watching the news.

There's a very limited repertoire of TV stations available on a ship, and our news choices were slim: Fox, MSNBC and BBC.  For much of our cruise there wasn't much to look at, but then we struck news gold -- the former president was indicted twice and mugshotted once.  For once there was actual news to be watched and discussed, and we were impressed by the legal experts assembled to explain the niceties of criminal procedure.  Many of them were former federal prosecutors themselves, and I learned a great deal from them.  And while I learned, I stitched.

As it turned out, I finished two of the four pieces I had brought along. 

I was reminded that seed stitch -- the bulk of the top half of this composition, where the stitches go in every direction -- is surprisingly hard to do.  If you want your little lines to look random, you have to think several stitches ahead to avoid a lot of parallel pairs.  Not so much thinking as to take your mind totally off your music or news, but enough to slow you down considerably compared to running stitches.

I was not thrilled with how this piece turned out.  The blanket stitch "railroad tracks" through the middle drew too much attention without being particularly beautiful, and the spirals didn't stand out all that much from their backgrounds.  I think the drab neutral background would have been better with a colored thread or at least some colored accents, but I had nothing with me to do that.  I was glad when I finished it.

I'll show you the other pieces in the next post.