Thursday, March 31, 2005

Hardanger Lace

In the late 80's or early 90's, I was shopping at my favorite store in my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. Patches & Stitches sells fabric for quilting but also carries supplies for canvas needlework and Hardanger Lace. I was intrigued with the lace and purchased a beginner's book, thread, fabric, and needles. My first piece was a small sachet from the book and I was hooked.

Hardanger comes from Norway, specifically from the Hardanger region, although it probably originated in ancient Persia and Asia. Hardanger is worked on an evenweave fabric using blanket stitches and kloster blocks with specialty stitches (such as picots and spiderwebs) worked in openings created by cutting away threads in the design.

You can see photos of the Hardange project I did for my last class in my Crafts gallery. If you'd like to try your hand at this wonderful craft, I highly recommend Hardanger Basics and Beyond and Hardanger Fundamentals Made Fancy by Janice Love. Nordic Needle also has some tutorials to follow where you can see how to do the stitches. Hardanger looks very complicated, but the basic stitches are very simple.

Kloster blocks are the base of the piece and are the first thing you do, followed by blanket stitches around the edge of the piece. These two stitches stabilize the fabric and provide a guideline for where to cut threads. On medium to large pieces, it's very important that you use a colored thread (sewing thread will do fine) to stitch loose guidelines every 10 to 20 threads so that each side matches up perfectly. Nothing is more frustrating than getting all the way around the piece only to discover that you're off by one stitch. You'll then have to check back along the stitches to find where you made the mistake. If you do have to redo stitches, don't reuse the thread you pulled out. By now it has lost its sheen and is a bit ragged. Let's assume you got all the kloster blocks and blanket stitches done without incident.

Next comes the scary part, cutting away the threads to create the openings in the piece. Use a sharp pair of small scissors for this to keep control of the situation, take a deep breath, take another one, check to make sure you're about to cut the right thread, take another deep breath, and cut the thread. See, that wasn't so bad, was it?

After the threads are cut, you're left with open areas on the fabric. The "bars" left between the spaces are wrapped into a round bar or woven. Any picots or dove's eyes are added while wrapping the bars. With the bars done, you can add other stitches, such as spider webs, eyelets, ships, and tulips, and add beads, silk ribbon embroidery, or other elements.

Once the piece is done, it's time to cut away the threads around the outside of the piece. This is as nervewracking as cutting the threads for the open areas, but patience and perserverance will win the day. Time to wash the piece and block it. When it's almost dry but still slightly damp, I like to place the piece upside down on a fluffy white towel and iron it to remove any wrinkles from the working and washing process.

Hardanger can be used on bedspreads, coasters, doilies, table runners, sachets, curtains, aprons, collars, and much more. Nordic Needle has some absolutely sweet Hardanger Angel Dolls for topping your tree at Christmas.

Why not give Hardanger a try? If you don't have a craft store near you, Patches & Stitches will send supplies to you as will Nordic Needle. If you live in the Clear Lake Area of Houston, Harbour Stitchery in League City has books, supplies, and classes (where I get my supplies).

Try something new today, you might surprise yourself.

Shorah Y'all!

Typing out the frustration

One of the reasons I started this blog is because I'm frustrated and need an outlet. It's not that I don't have plenty to do, I do, however, I'm under doctor's orders restricting me to light activity. This means no lifting/moving/pushing boxes (which means I can't unpack them), no weaving for a bit, no hanging things on the wall, no activity that could possibly cause what's left of the blood clot to move faster than it should before it is completely dissolved. I've got projects for my class to finish weaving, I'm surrounded by boxes that I can't do anything about, and working on things on the computer can only amuse me for so long before I go bonkers. All my needlework stuff is somewhere in boxes in the garage ... also needed for class projects, so no embroidery or cross stitching either.

So, my alternatives at the moment are ... finishing some 3D modeling projects, a bit of geneology research, washing some clothes, and harassing the cat. Oh, and updating the web site I maintain for a local girl's soccer club.

My geneology pursuits are for the "Oleszkiewicz/Oleszkowicz" and "Riggs" families. I've also done a bit on "Lippincott" which is my brother-in-law's family. I've contributed a bit to "The Oleszkiewicz Project" as well.

I just returned from the university to fill out an incomplete grade contract with my instructor. Because I can't unpack anything or find my project supplies, plus being restricted as to my activities, I now have until the end of November 2005 to finish my six projects, two article summaries, and project journal.

Current class projects (may change as needed):
  1. Woven scarves out of Wool-Ease, these will be done on my floor loom and have already been started
  2. Woven pillow tops woven on my new table loom then made into pillows
  3. Weave-It Girl's Purse, needs to be lined
  4. Needlework project - Ukrainian Easter Egg design
  5. Crocheted project of some sort, choices include:
    - Evening wrap with beads crocheted in periodically
    - Baby blanket


    Woven Shawl made on a triangle loom if I can get my BIL to make the loom for me (he did such a great job on my warping board)
Anyway, my lunch hour is over and it's time to get back to work.

Shorah Y'all!

Sanity Check ...

I had a blog once that announced the new artwork, tutorials, and downloads on my site, but it faded away as I redesigned the site several times. I decided to try again after dealing with a pulmonary embolism last week and will hopefully put down my thoughts on my artwork and crafts but I may ramble sometimes (much like now).

Being creative is my sanity check, hence the "dangling" part of my blog title. I also do a variety of crafts, including painting and fiber arts and that's the "painted thread" part of the title. My friend Toob came up with the name after I mentioned a possible title of "Keeping My Sanity" which was amusing but not a great title.

Now about me, in case you're interested. I live just south of Houston, Texas and work on the International Space Station Program as a Technical Services Specialist. I have an Associates in Computer Information Systems from a now defunct Junior College and a Bachelors in Information Technology, Web Management emphasis from the University of Phoenix. I'm currently working on a second degree in Art at the University of Houston - Clear Lake. I also work part-time for DAZ Productions as their Bryce Coordinator and write articles for Maxon, plus, I make baby hats and afghans whenever I can for All Crafts 4 Charity, an online group of crafters who make items for charities and such.

As part of the art classes, I learned how to weave on a loom, something I'd always been interested in. I found a homemade floor loom on ebay and recently found a Schacht Table Loom there as well. You can see my class projects in my Crafts, Class, and Weaving galleries. In addition to weaving, I crochet, make Hardanger lace, make Ukrainian Easter Eggs (pysanky), sew, do paper cutting, cross stitch, paint Nested Dolls, and create art using the computer. For the digital art, I use Bryce (my first love), Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop CS, Painter, DAZStudio, Poser, MojoWorld, Cinema 4D, BodyPaint 3D, ZBrush, and Sterling (a fractal program).

I also love playing computer games with my favorites being any Myst game. I'm currently obsessed with Until Uru and hang out on the Tapestry Shard (visit the site) when in cavern. I'm Guild Master of the Guild of Artisans there and we even have our own neighborhood on the shard.

Well, that should be enough for now. Let's see how it goes ....

Shorah Y'all!