For whom the bell tolls…

I’ve spent my holiday weekend working on my castle project. I decided the castle needed some hand embroidery. I started with a bell pull. One must be able to summon the help. A first step to any project is to assemble one’s equipment:

One four inch embroidery hoop
28 count evenweave fabric
Embroidery floss and size 26 tapestry needles.

When you are planning to make several small pieces on one piece of fabric, make sure you leave plenty of space between each item. Otherwise you won’t have enough space to leave a working edge around each item. You need this to sew cushions or glue flat pieces. Here’s the start of the bell pull:

And here’s the completed stitching for the bell pul and one of the cushions:

The Tudor Rose
The bell pull.

Once the stitching was done, I cut the pieces out and did some finishing work. I folded the working edges of the bell pull back and glued them in place. The ends are two jewelry fittings that are meant for making necklaces or bracelets from ribbons. And I added a tiny bell from a piece of holiday ribbon.

An here we have the completed bell pull and three cushions. Because they are so small, I didn’t put any filling in them, or they would have been too bulky.

A Tudor rose, a lion, and a Saint Andrew’s cross, with a toothpick for scale.

Stop, banner time.

Tonight I am making banners and tapestries for the castle project. I have printed several possibilities onto my trusty printable fabric.

When they are done, I will be able to use toothpicks and beads as hangers. So here’s the first one, cut out. Notice I have left a border around the image. This is so I can fold the cloth over and glue it so the edges don’t fray. The top one is longer because that part the will go around the hanger.

Carefully glue the edges of the tapestry to the back of the piece. Keep the lines as straight and even as you can.

Once the three sides are done you are ready for the hanger. Cut short tabs on the side of the top edge. Fold them in and glue them in place.

Then fold the top down so it makes a little sleeve.

now the hanger can be inserted through the sleeve when you are ready to hang your tapestry. It can also be removed, if you decide you want a different type of hanger.

And there you have it. One hour later, I have a collection of tapestries and banners for the castle.

I totally geek out.

Today I completely lost my mind. Over a piece of cardboard. Yes, you read that correctly. I found a totally awesome piece of cardboard at work today. I described it as hugely exciting. That’s how much I love this piece of cardboard. Look, here it is:

It’s an inch thick and solid as tile. I bet it could support a small human. I seriously love this piece of cardboard. Even Johnny is interested. You can see him in the back ground with his tongue sticking out. This will be my new work surface when the old one needs to be changed out. I swear, this piece of cardboard is the best thing that has happened to me this week….and isn’t that a sad state of affairs.

Inside the castle.

I’ve begun work on the interior of the castle, as I cannot decide what do do with the exterior. I would like to do the outside in some kind of stonework, but I haven’t chosen what I wish to use.

I’m starting with the stairwells. They each have been given two coats of white acrylic paint as a base. White is a good starting point because I can go over it with other colors if I decide to later. Meanwhile it really gives the space some light.

I think decorating will be a challenge, since all the rooms are tall and narrow. Also I plan to put “stained glass” in the windows. I have some templates I can probably use, but I will again state my familiar litany of “i’m waiting for a delivery”. This stupid virus is making everything difficult in every way possible.

That’s all for tonight.

Bye-bye boys. Have fun Storming the castle…

I have to tell you, I was not feeling inspired by the shop so I decided to set that project aside and switch to this castle I bought at Michael’s.

Here’s the outside. It folds up and has a handle for easy transportation.
Here’s the left half.
And here’s the right.

The first step will be to sand off the rough edges and decide what I want the exterior surface to look like. I’ve got my trusty sanding sponge ready to go.

Alright, the sanding is finished, but I realized that I was wrong about the first thing for this project. The real first step was taking out the steps to make painting easier. I had to use my tiny saw to get through whatever industrial strength glue they used. I think it was the same glue they use to put the ceramic plates on space shuttles.

My extremely useful tiny saw.

Here’s the hall without the stairs. It will be much easier to reach in there now. I can glue the stairs back into place later.

I am now hot and sweaty, so I shall adjourn to my bedroom and the air conditioning for the rest of the evening.


Setting up Shop.

Tonight I am working on some items for the lingerie shop. I’ve chosen some fabric in a color family I like and plan to use it to cover some baskets for the counter. I’ve also chosen some patterns for corsets and a design for a simple display mannequin.

I think some ecru lace would look good for table runners and such for the counters and shelves. I bought some at dollar tree the other day that I think will do nicely.

And this is the template for the baskets.

I may need to try several sizes before I find out what works in the space. Start by tracing the template onto thin cardboard and cutting out the shape. Then glue the cardboard to the wrong side of your fabric. Leave enough fabric around the edge to fold it down and glue to the inside of the basket.

Once the fabric is glued down, the next step is to line the inside of the basket. I used some pretty origami paper because i didn’t want fraying edges or the additional bulk of another layer of cloth.

Next you will need to glue the side into place to form the basket. The handle is made by covering a thin piece of card stock with fabric.

And there it is, a completed basket:

And here’s the group of three ready to hold inventory:

The camisole and panties I knit look pretty good in there.

Silver thread and golden needles…

Johnny and I are not leaving the air conditioning tonight, I thought I would give an expanded discussion of working with silk thread. Here’s Johnny, ready to assist:

You can see my caravan miniature in the background. It was the last kit project I built.

Silk thread, REAL silk thread, can not be purchased at your local Michael’s or Joann’s. It also can’t be mentioned at that other craft store, whose name I shall never use in this blog, either. If you want silk embroidery thread you must order it.

For miniature knitting, I have found that real silk is the best as the colors are gorgeous, the fibers are strong, and they knitted garments drape like full size cloth. Normal cotton embroidery floss works as well, but the clothes turn out kind of stiff. In small scale, cotton looks more like canvas than something one would use for clothing.

When you order a batch of silk thread (I got mine from Amazon). It comes in a bunch, like this:

The bunch is divided into color groups like this:

After you CAREFULLY untie the knot, you get individual hanks like this:

The next step is to untie this second knot and separate your hank into a circle. Place the circle around an object. This keeps the thread from tangling while you wind. I’ve used this pillow because it is soft and won’t damage my thread, but it is also solid enough to keep my circle from collapsing.

Next, you want to find the ends of the thread in the hank. They will be tied together making a very small knot. Once you have located the knot, snip it off with a pair of sharp scissors. I use my storks.

Now you are ready to start winding. I am using plastic bobbins because they can be reused once the s thread is gone. Place one end of the thread in one of the notches on the bobbin and hold it in place.

Begin gently winding the thread around the bobbin. Once you have a few wraps done, you can let go of the end of the thread. It will be held in place by the rest of the hank.

Continue winding until you reach the end of your hank. Now you have some nice neat “yarn” with which to knit, crochet, or embroider.

I’ve been putting this off for months in favor of more interesting work, but it’s an excellent task when you wish to avoid leaving your bed.

Off to a slowish start.

Since the lab is essentially done, it just needs the lights now and I’m waiting for a shipment, I started working on the storefront. I’ve decided to make it a lingerie shop and have completed my first pieces for it. The miniature knitting is getting a little easier and here is the first completed set:

There is going to be a lot of needlework in this next project.

Here’s a picture of the store again.

This piece was apparently more or less mass produced several years ago, as I have seen some like it on EBay. They all have the low counter you can see in the window, but none of them have the wall shelves. That means either mine is a different edition than the others I have seen, or I will be continuing the work of a miniature woodworker who built the extra shelves, making mine unique.

I need to start planning the displays, as much as I plan anything, and choose a color scheme.

What do you all think of yellow?

Surface tension can be a bitch.

Today, I got my supply of syringes and needles that I was waiting for so I could finish the titration vessel. Just a warning, unless you want your friends and family to think you have developed a sudden addiction to heroin, buy the blunt needles. They can’t be used to puncture skin.

Even with the syringe, it took longer than you might think to get the watered down paint into the onion glass at the bottom of the titration apparatus, and even longer than that to get the watered down paint into the tube of the apparatus. There was much aspirating, dispensing of air, cursing, tapping, and, when all else failed, VERY carefully flicking the tube as one would with a shot. I think I mentioned once before that the titration apparatus is hand blown glass and I can’t get another one.

Here’s how it looks now:

And here it is on the table with the rest of the equipment:

And here it is in place in the lab:

Now I am waiting for the supplies I need to finish the lights and I will be finished with this scene.

Making big things small.

Tonight I am practicing my miniature knitting. At full size, I am a fairly accomplished knitter, if I do say so myself. However, miniature knitting offers unique challenges, and I am far from proficient.

First, let’s talk about materials. These are my needles. They are 0.7mm in diameter or size 000000.

In place of yarn, I am using silk embroidery thread. It comes in hanks like this:

In order for the thread to be usable, you must wind it on to a bobbin, like this one:

The last thing I need is a knitting pattern and I have chosen one from this book:

Some things you should know about silk thread: 1) it frays easily so be careful with it while you are winding and unwinding your bobbin. 2) It will catch on any roughness in your fingers. I suggest using gloves if you can bear to wear them. If you can’t (I abhor the things), then make sure your hands are clean and moisturized. Keep the moisturizer nearby so you can reapply while you knit. 3) if you get a knot in your thread, don’t bother trying to untangle it. It is basically impossible.

The pattern calls for 18 stitches to start. Here they are cast on to my needles. Notice that I held both needles together to cast on. This keeps the thread from getting too tight during the cast on.

And here it is a few rows in:

And this is how far I got with it tonight. If you think it looks like a tiny shirt, you guessed correctly. Go get yourself a cookie. I’ll have to finish it tomorrow.