July - October 2017
First thing an apprentice should do is setting her toolbox in order, right? Where will I store all my floss?! (Not that I had much of it in the beginning, but even so...)
It wasn't long before I came upon a great idea: Blümchen from Austria rolls her skeins up in a kitchen towel, secured with safety pins. So here are my first two "floss rolls"...
By the way, it was her who directed me to Needle'n Thread by the "American embroidery expert Mary Corbet", whom I'm following till today and who became my first and greatest teacher. Stitchers of the World Unite and look out for Mary's blog! More than 12 years of blogging, thousands of posts, and I mean substantial posts. You'll find nearly everything on embroidery there you could possibly want to know.
This is the very first stranded cotton I got: remnants from the former G(erman) D(emocratic) R(epublic). The sleeve says "VEB Zwirnerei Sachsenring Glauchau" (VEB being a Volkseigener Betrieb, i.e. Publicly Owned Operation; Zwirnerei = cotton-spinning mill). There was also a bit of silk floss, both for the price of 0.30 M per skein. Let's do the maths: for 0.30 eastern marks, we got 0.15 D-Mark after the reunification, and for 0.15 D-Mark we got 0.075 euros after the currency reform. Can you imagine: 7 euro cents for one skein of floss?! That's 0.085 dollars! In fact the price is worth much less still!
The floss is a wee bit "hard" (as opposed to soft), but it serves, and it's even boil-proof. So is the silk, which is somewhat "springy" in handling. I doubt if it is natural silk, though.
And below is the first stranded cotton I bought. I ordered it via amazon - 150 skeins in a chance selection of colours for 14 euros. I have no idea where it comes from (likely from China?) and what its name is (the sleeve says "friendly spiraea" - spiraea being a shrub, um ... I see a smiling shrub hence ...). It's incredibly cheap, so I was very doubtful about its quality beforehand, but it's a very nice floss indeed. Very soft, a bit "woolly" even, with a nice sheen. It wears off quite quickly, but for the price I really like it.
So the toolbox was set up - now let's try and stitch something!
First thing I tried was the Long & Short Stitch Lessons at Mary's. I always wanted to do needlepainting, and it was fun - until I noticed that we should stitch with one strand of floss only, and I had begun with six strands, followed by three, then two (because I noticed myself that six came out way too bulky). That's why I canceled the lessons halfway through, trying to pick the threads out, but instead I plucked a hole into the fabric, so this was the end of the experience for the time being.
Next idea: what about an embroidered outer layer for my floss rolls, similar to a quilt? At Mary's I came across this Basic Embroidery Stitches Sampler, which I adapted to my needs. That is what I came up with in the end:
It's obvious that I'm an apprentice at elementary level. But I did invent a new stitch here, can you see it? Ok, a new stitch variation: a Lazy Daisy Stitch anchored at three points instead of one, in order to give the petal a rounder shape. I call it the "Not So Lazy Daisy Stitch".
It is all stitched with the GDR floss - the name with silk, the rest with cotton. I was amazed how well I did with the satin stitch, whereas the ribbed spider web and especially the lazy daisies and the French knots resulted in a grandiose flop. I decided that I just don't like spider webs and French knots ... which has changed dramatically in the course of events.