Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wool Applique Chicks - I Love Handwork!!!


Robin Atkins embroidered, wool applique chicks
I started this project in October, 2014, so I would have a nice handwork project while traveling for a month in Europe. I love it!!!

Robin Atkins embroidered, wool applique chicks
A bunch of pre-cut threads and trims, a small package of mixed seed beads/buttons/sequins, a folded piece of felt with various sizes of needles, embroidery scissors, Sue Spargo's book, and 16 wool chicks already stitched to the background wool fit very nicely into a 12 x 9 inch zippered, mesh bag.... perfect to tuck into my backpack! I stitched on the airplanes, in people's homes, and with my beady/quilty friends! At the end of the month, 8 chicks were finished. You can see them here.


Robin Atkins embroidered, wool applique chicks
Since then, I've been busy making a Travel Diary quilt, and starting another very challenging "Shimmer" quilt, which will be the subject of the next post. However, once in a while, the Chicks are just the right break from machine sewing. Working on them makes me happy and peaceful.

Robin Atkins embroidered, wool applique chicks

The new ones are in this post... As you can see in the photo below, I still have 2 chicks to embellish, plus one that might need something more.

Robin Atkins embroidered, wool applique chicks, unfinished

When all of them are finished, it will be time to decide what to do with them. My idea so far is to make them into a small wall quilt, hand quilting around the chicks, maybe adding a few flowers between some of the chicks.  I'll wait to decide, keeping all options open until the chicks are finished.

Robin Atkins embroidered, wool applique chicks

Most of the chicks are girls, but so far 3 of them seem to have a bit of testosterone...  can you tell which ones are the boys? You'll need to click on the above picture of all 16 to enlarge it enough to find the boys. If you feel like making a guess, let's give them numbers starting at the top left with 1 and going across row by row. As you can probably tell, the one below is definitely a girly girl!

Robin Atkins embroidered, wool applique chicks
By the way, the lace trim on the above chick is vintage lace from LaDonne Weinland, an Etsy vendor. It was white, which was too "strong" a color for this piece. So I painted dye on it!!! These are the pieces I painted. To give you an idea of scale, the lace is just under 1/4" wide. The chick, from the bottoms of her feet to the top of her crown, is exactly 3 inches tall.

Threads! 

People ask me where I got all the threads I use for these chicks. Here are some answers...

Variegated pearl cotton. I'd estimate that over half the stitches (all the beaks and feet, most of the edge stitches, tails, and top-knots) are pearl cotton, size 8 or 12. I like using threads that are subtly variegated. DMC and Valdani are two brands of pearl cotton that come in a ball for $5 to $7 per ball. I have purchased some Valdani balls from Sue Spargo and some from this site.

But most of my perle cotton comes from African Folklore Embroidery ... Leora Raikin, the owner, packages hand-dyed, variegated, pearl cotton on cards of three colors, each color about 10 yards in length, for $5.  She has a HUGE selection, from which you can have 24 colors for only $40!!! I love the colors, the subtle changes of colors in the variegation, and the quality of the thread. Here's a page that shows her colors in size 8 pearl cotton... mind boggling!
Variegated pearl cotton from African Folklore (I have already used some of it!)
My photo does not show the full amount you get... only how it is packaged, 3 colors to a card!

Embroidery floss.  For finer stitches and details, I often switch to regular embroidery floss. Again I gravitate toward the variegated colors. DMC has put out a lot of new variegated skeins in recent years. If you have an older supply of solid colors, you might want to check out DMC's 24 new colors. Here's an Etsy seller that offers them. Or, if you are in the Seattle area, Nancy's Sewing Basket (on Queen Anne hill) stocks all of them. They are much more subtle than previous DMC variegated floss choices, more like hand-dyed. Anchor has also added nice options to their line.

DMC variegated embroidery floss, 24 new colors


DMC variegated embroidery floss, 24 new colors

I also buy hand-dyed embroidery floss when I see a skein that appeals to me. Again, I like the subtlety of it.

Other threads. Sue Spargo offers a line of variegated silk threads in beautiful colors, which she calls Silken Pearl. I bought some of them from her during the class, and have enjoyed using them. The sheen of the silk is a lovely contrast to the more matte quality of the pearl cotton.

In her book, Sue recommends using a wool thread to applique the wool chicks to the background wool. Since it is quite expensive, I used 60 weight cotton applique/sewing thread by Metler, which I already had in a range of colors. It works fine. If I didn't already have the Metler thread, I probably would have bought a set of Genziana wool threads on bobbins on Etsy, here. This wool thread is a bit too fine for embellishment work, but it's great for wool applique.

Novelty yarns, metallic threads, chenille, dazzle threads, etc. all have their occasional use as well. As I tend to like more matte and less bling, I don't often use these threads. But it's fun to experiment with them. I did use chenille on one of the above chicks... can you find it?





26 comments:

  1. I'm amused what you did with these cute chicks! I saw them "naked" in November, now all of them came out sooo interesting, rich and beautiful! My guess: #4, #8 and #12 at the ends of the queues, staring at the girlies in front of themselves. 😊 Inspiring work, Robin, as all your works, even if it's sewing, embroidering or beading!! ❤️

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    1. Four and eight are right, Ildiko... and yes, they are strutting their stuff and hustling the girls!! Number twelve, I think, is a girl. The other boy is a little more shy than the other two, but really wants to find a girlfriend. Thanks for guessing and for the compliment! :)

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  2. These little gems make me feel happy. I am sitting here with a big smile plastered on my face.

    Happy Stitching & Beading ~ FlowerLady

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    1. And your comment plastered a smile on my face! Thanks, Lorraine :)

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  3. These are so fun, beautiful, playful,energetic. You are so talented!

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    1. Thanks, Liz... you are always so generous with your compliments... love it, and YOU!

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  4. Fenomenalne ! Serdecznie pozdrawiam. Ala

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  5. Great work !!
    I love those chickens.
    Greetings Marion

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    1. Great to hear from you, Marion! Thanks!!!

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  6. Oh, these are beyond adorable! Full of color and texture and quirky personalities, I've been looking and grinning and looking some more. Wondering if there are enough hours in the day to add embroidery to my list of stuff to do! Guess I'll just come here and get my "fix". Lovely!!

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    1. Why not, Rhetta??? It is such a lovely between-project and/or travel project... You just squeeze it into the other things when you have a small chunk of time. :)!

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  7. number 8 has a mohawk with attitude. Call him Spud!

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    1. OK... Spud it is... I agree about his attitude. Funny how they gradually take on personalities enough so you can identify personality traits and give them names. It just happens... not of my conscious doing.

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  8. Anonymous5:22 PM

    I just love your chicks. They are so cute. I can just see them in a quilt. Thanks for using my lace. LaDonne

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    1. Thanks, LaDonne... I love your lace and trims too!

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  9. I'm just getting back to blogging and you'e one of the first people I checked on. I love your work and have one of your books. These are wonderful! I love the idea of a wall hanging, the flowers, quilting....I can just see it, esp. in a child's rom!

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  10. These are really cute and what a great way to practice your embroidery stitches. I could see these appliques as way to combining the "take a stitch' tuesday challenge run by Sharon Boggon http://pintangle.com/tast-faq/ Look forward to seeing the finished quilt

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  11. I adore this scurrying bunch! Isn't it hard to stop stitching them once they are all finished? Best regards to all of them, cheep, cheep!
    As to the testosterone, I will make a wild guess: 4, 8, 10, and I think chick 11 is asking for some more "bling".

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  12. These chicks are just SO cute!

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  13. Just wanted to say thanks for linking my Etsy shop! The 24 new variegated flosses are a great addition to DMC's line. And your chicks are adorable with all their personalities - that's a very fun project...

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  14. These are absolutely charming! Love the way you dressed them up with your stitches. Inspiring. :-)

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  15. I love Sue's designs and I love how you have embellished them!. Its such fun seeing how other people interpret the design

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  16. Just wish Sue Spargo would do a chick pattern like your chick. Of course if I was smart I would just dry one! Lol.

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Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!