Monday, September 29, 2014

More Fabulous Four-way Bargello

 (We return to Annake's "Introduction to Four-way Bargello" with Part lll ...)

4-way bargello needlepoint "Green Envy"
Framed 4-way bargello needlepoint, "Green Envy"
This time we are going to make a four-way design based on the arch shapes we practiced in the March 20, 2014 post. It is a little bit more difficult than the last pattern but not much. The result, however, will look like it is much more difficult than it really is, and really impress people. The variegated green four-way is an example of traditional four-ways done in this manner.

wave bargello stitch sampler
Bargello wave stitch sampler
Use a small piece of plastic canvas to practice your stitches. We are going to start with a simple arch. (This time our basic bargello stitch is an upright stitch over three threads of canvas.) The top of the arch is made up of three parallel upright stitches. On either side there are two parallel stitches dropped down one thread lower. Repeat this. Then do three single stitches, each dropped down one thread from the start of the one above it. The last of these stitches is the bottom of the arch. Do not double it. Now start upward at one side of the arch with three single stitches, each raised one thread above the stitch below it. Repeat the two sets of paired paired stitches. Do three parallel stitches for the second arch and complete it with downward stitches. Now make a third arch in the same way on the other side. Remember that the bottom stitch of each arch is shared, not doubled.

center marked plastic canvas
Center marked plastic canvas
Prepare a piece of plastic canvas at least 10 inches (26 centimeters) square on which to practice the entire pattern. When you are ready to work the pattern on needlepoint canvas, you can make the square as large as you wish. Draw the center lines and diagonals carefully. This time, start at the center square of the canvas and count up to the 20th square on the vertical line (Think of this direction as North if it helps you). Mark the square. Mark the 20th squares on the East, South, and West centering lines.

quarter baseline for 4-way bargello
Quarter baseline for 4-way bargello
Now thread a dark-colored yarn into your tapestry needle. Starting in the marked North square, make an upright stitch over three threads of canvas (the plastic bars represent threads). This is the center stitch of the three parallel stitches that make the top of the arch. Make an identical stitch on each side of the center stitch. Now chose a side and complete half of the arch. When you reach the bottom of the arch, start up the side of the next arch. You will be not be able to complete the first double stitches, but, instead you will need to make a stitch over two threads, ending at the diagonal line. Then you will have room to do one very short stitch over a single thread, again ending at the diagonal line. Run your needle under completed stitches on the back of your work and cut the yarn. Return to the three stitches at the top of the arch. Secure the end of your thread and do this side of the arch and the beginning of the next, working the exact reverse of the stitches on the first side you worked. The stitches on the right side should begin and end in the same rows of squares. Check this occasionally with a straight edge (ruler, index card, envelope, etc.). End by securing your yarn. Now you have made the baseline of your design on a quarter of your canvas.

full 4-way bargello baseline
Fully outlined 4-way bargello baseline
Turn your canvas 90 degrees. Repeat the baseline in this quarter exactly as you did in the first quarter. The two short stitches at the end of the baseline should end on the diagonal in the same squares of canvas as those stitches on the previous quarter. Continue turning your canvas and working the baseline on one quarter at a time. Your four baselines should meet and join as seen in the sample here. If they do not, find your mistake and correct it. Otherwise your mistake will get worse with each row you complete and your finished project will be irregular and uneven.

4-way bargello stitched outward from baseline
Practice 4-way bargello stitched outward from baseline
Now you are ready to work outward from the baseline. Choose your colors of yarn and decide the order in which you plan to use them. You may work the first row outward as a continuous row if you like, rather than doing one quarter at a time as I had you do to establish the baseline. If you feel more secure continuing to do a quarter at a time, however, by all means do so. You may even want to thread two needles and work from the center line of two adjacent quarters toward the diagonal line between them. If you have problems at the diagonals, you will then only need to remove a couple of stitches on each side and correct them. Begin each stitch in the same square of canvas as the end of the same stitch in the baseline row. Cover three threads with each stitch, working toward the edge of your canvas. This time you will be able to complete the two parallel stitches, plus a tiny stitch over a single thread. The tiny stitch at the beginning of the next quarter should be at right angles to the tiny stitch you just made and end in the same square on the diagonal. On the next row, you will be able to work both sets of double stitches before you reach the diagonal. On the following row, you will be able to add one of the three single stitches. Continue in this fashion, each time doing just as much of your pattern stitch as you have room for, stopping on the diagonal. As you approach the edges of your canvas, you may have to use partial stitches to complete a row. Continue working in your color sequence, even when you can only put in a small part of a row in each corner. Or, as an alternative, work the corners in the color of your baseline, keeping to the pattern stitches until the corners are complete. The sample is complete to the edges. Remember: your stitch sequence is 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, descending and 1,1,1,2,2, ascending to the next 3 at the top of the next arch.

4-way bargello filled inward from baseline
Practice 4-way bargello filled inward from baseline
Working inward from the baseline, you will lose stitches rather than gaining them. As you come to the diagonal, work as much of the stitch as you can, ending on the diagonal itself. The stitches that begin the next quarter should still be at right angles to their counterparts in the previous quarter. You should work your color sequence in the reverse order moving in toward the center than the one you used moving out toward the edges. You will have to make a decision about the center itself. I used a longer center stitch for the center stitch of the three final stitches, but you may want to use four tiny stitches in the next color. It is the decisions you make about such things, along with your color choices, that will make your work distinctive and individual.

Working on a much larger canvas with much smaller mesh, I made a few different choices, so that my finished canvas (below) differs in some ways from my original sample. The point is that, even if you don't follow the pattern exactly, as long as you do exactly the same thing in each of the four quarters, you will make a successful pattern. Once you feel secure with your pattern, you are ready to make it on needlepoint canvas and to have a beautiful project that you will be proud to frame. Congratulations!

4-way bargello needlepoint "Autumn Explosion"
Framed 4-way bargello needlepoint, "Autumn Explosion", using the same stitch as the practice piece above

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Use It Up!: Glass and China “Whimsies”

a group of glass and ceramic garden "whimsies"
A group of glass and ceramic "garden whimsies"
Those of you who have been reading these posts for some time know that I and other members of the Annake's Garden team really don't like to see anything go to waste (see the posts for March 15, 2013 and June 3, 2013). Lately our glass artisan (see the December 30, 2013 post for her interview), in between periods of canning and freezing food for winter, has been combining pieces of miscellaneous glassware and china dishes into delightful “garden whimsies”. I just cleared a couple of shelves in my kitchen cabinets of glass and china pieces that I never use and passed them along to her so that she can create more of these objects. There are quite a few examples of this kind of item on the Internet, most of them to be used as bird feeders. I feed native and migratory birds all year, and I have to say that many of these items while attractive are not particularly bird-friendly. You want to feed seeds and suet to the birds, not feed the birds to the neighborhood cats!

small garden whimsey with candle
So we determined that most of her creations would have other uses, in addition to (or instead of) bird-feeding. We chose three of her many pieces (see above) to feature for you. These can be used indoors, on a porch or patio, or outdoors, under trees or along paths or in flowerbeds. The smallest, we decided, was perfect for a candle-holder and it is shown that way throughout this article. I can picture a double row of these, each different from the other, along the edges of the sidewalk that leads to our front door, acting as luminarias to welcome guests to our home. Obviously the candle-holder could have many indoor uses as well.

large garden whimsey with floating flowers
The largest piece is an ingenious combination of a bowl, its inverted lid, the glass cover of a ceiling light fixture, a saucer and a small cut-glass dish, all bonded together. Indoors on the buffet, it could hold chips and dip, canapes with nuts or mints, holiday cookies and candies, etc. Outside, it makes a lovely water feature, either by itself or with flowers floating in the bowl. Its color can be changed with the water used to fill it. Just add a drop or two of food coloring to the water and stir it thoroughly before pouring it into the container. And it can even serve as a bird feeder in the right, safe, setting. The water in the base makes it very stable and hard to overturn. All the pieces are securely fastened together with an all-weather adhesive, so it is easy to carry and to transport from place to place.

medium garden whimsey with candle
The medium-sized “whimsey”, a pedestal arrangement topped with a vase shaped like a flower, proved to be the most versatile article of all. It is shown here as a candle-holder. At the bottom of this post you will see it again in a montage showing just a few of its possible uses: holding a floating flower, potpourri, hard candies and, yes, even birdseed. Incidentally, all the photographs were taken in Annake's Garden, so they give you little glimpses into small corners of our late summer gardens.

"whimsey" used as a serving tray
We were so happy with the first arrangement we made with a fourth “whimsey” creation that we photographed it separately. This is a vase cemented to a glass tray. The artisan filled the vase with her dried flowers and I contributed a combination teapot (top handle) and teacup (bottom handle). What a nice object to have at your elbow when you are ready to relax with a cup of tea and a good book! It also shows how three of our team (J.D. took all the photographs) worked together on this project for this post for you.

Recycled and fused glass trivet and spoon holder
Recycled fused glass trivet (left) and spoon holder (right)
Finally, we wanted to show you a couple of items our glass artisan “re-purposed” in the kiln she uses to make her glass plates, jewelry, sun-catchers, wind-chimes and other beautiful creations. The first is a plain glass tray which she has ornamented with fused glass dots and stripes in bright colors. She turned it into an attractive trivet to protect a tabletop from a hot dish or pot. The second article is a simple bottle, melted and shaped into a holder for a cooking spoon. It is also decorated with bits of colored glass. 

I think everyone who has been a homemaker for more than a few years probably has leftover or mismatched pieces of glass or china. While we don't all have access to a kiln, we do have access to a variety of appropriate adhesives. (Be sure to read all the cautions and directions very carefully; look for terms like “food-safe,” “dishwasher-safe,” or “weather-proof,” depending on your plans for the object.) We can all think of useful and decorative ways to keep these items from going to waste. I hope we have provided you with some ideas and inspiration. We would love to hear about and see pictures of your own creations.

Have fun with your “whimsical” project!

glass and ceramic garden whimsey collage
Some of the many uses for a "whimsey"...

 Creative Commons LicenseThis post by Annake's Garden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.