We are ready to roll! We have our patterns traced, our frames set up, our punches at hand and our yarn balled up into yarn cakes! The excitement is palpable! Are you ready to work those hand muscles and get your fabric stretched!
This is one of those tasks that Heidi makes effortless. If you've ever been to the school and seen her in action, you will agree with me. She can have the monk's stretched and ready to go faster than a race car driver can change tires. She is also wonderful at checking all of ours to make sure that we have gotten the fabric tight enough. If you don't know, you really want to make sure that you get the fabric as taught as you can. It needs to spring like a drum. For those of us not as fast as Heidi, it takes some patience. The first time she ever showed me, she busted out some pliers for me to use to really make sure I got it super tight.
A handy tip from Cotey: when you are stretching your monk's cloth, or any foundation cloth, you want to make sure that you get your pattern lines as straight as possible. This will help to insure that you're finished project itself has straight lines. Cotey says "It will bounce back slightly when you take your project off the frame, but not enough to correct a really wonky line." (She didn't say wonky, that was me but I couldn't remember the exact word she used...)
Once you're done with that you will most definitely want to slip your frame cover on. You will want this to help protect you hands and clothing from those gripper needles that can poke through the weave.
Helpful Tip: Make sure you are not starting your border in the corners, your end will stick out if you do and show where you started. Start it in the middle and make sure you start the next line in a different spot!
Daring to be different, Heidi and I decided that we wanted to do the bead stitch as our borders. Bead stitch while a bit complicated, is a fun stitch to do and adds a nice element to your piece. Below you will find a diagram showing the spacing for stitches.
When creating the bead stitch you are going to want to count every 4 holes to punch into with your first color, thus making 3 s.p.i. With your second color, you will start in the middle hole between the stitches of your first color. Once again you will punch every 4 holes, again making 3 s.p.i. Amy and Louise Kulp wrote a really amazing article for a couple of years ago that explains this beautifully. I did find that I needed to modify the stitches as I went since I decided to make my border reminiscent of a checkerboard.
When creating the bead stitch you are going to want to count every 4 holes to punch into with your first color, thus making 3 s.p.i. With your second color, you will start in the middle hole between the stitches of your first color. Once again you will punch every 4 holes, again making 3 s.p.i. Amy and Louise Kulp wrote a really amazing article for Rug Hooking Magazine a couple of years ago that explains this beautifully. I did find that I needed to modify the stitches as I went since I decided to make my border reminiscent of a checkerboard.
You can also do the bead stitch with fine needles. In the case of fine needles you will punch every other hole with your first color, creating 6 s.p.i. With your second color you will start in the middle hole between stitches of your first color and again punch every other hole, repeating the 6 s.p.i. Heidi used this technique as well with her Welcome Mat, seen below. She also used the bead stitch in her lettering. (It creates a look on the backside as f the stitches are just really close together, when in-fact they follow the same line across.) The bead stitch allows you to make things really fun and different in any given piece. It adds an element of pop and an element of texture as well.
Christy pulled both ends from her yarn cake. The middle thread and the end on the outside. This why she was spooling the yarn out from a single skein.
We made sure to get our outline, letters, and scrolling done before moving on. This wasn't without hiccups though. Some of us decided that the colors we were originally going to use just didn't work in the piece or that the placement wasn't great. For some, like Sid, this meant rethinking our color pallet. You'll remember that Sid had settled on a fairly Autumn like colors. He decided that the contrast just wasn't great enough to really make the colors stand out.
Spreading the colors out and holding them up to what he had already completed was helpful to see where we needed to bring in the contrast. As much as we all love Spring Fling, it just wasn't what the mat needed. Sid pulled out and add a bright pop of an unexpected color!
(That's how I was able to get that stitch gauge picture!)
I found that in mine, the bright colors when placed where I had imagined, looked very late '80's early '90's, and not in the way I was hoping. Therefor I had to really edit down my color pallet and be more intentional with my color placement.
I was much happier with the more colorful border and the simpler scrolling. Here's a peek at the end of day one:
In clockwise order starting top left: Heidi's, Sid's, Cotey's, and Christy's. Mine, is above.
I added some helpful quick tutorials to our Instagram page on both the stem stich and the bead stitch, go check them out! They are under the highlights for both Tutorials and #OxCoPALs
Handy Tip: Did you trace your pattern backwards? It happens to all of us. It's a simple fix! Just flip it over and retrace the pattern on the backside! You can trace it on your window, it makes a great impromptu light table! (Trust me, I've had to do this.)
Make sure you're tagging us in your posts #OxCoPALs or @amy.oxford, we love to see what everyone else is doing!
See you next week to finish up the punching on these mats!