Friday, February 29, 2008

Tish's Garden

I never get tired, it seems, of going to Tish Watkins' web page - her wholesale design line at Happy Heart Designs, and admiring not only her great designs - simple, colorful, and well done - but her husband's ingenuity at putting it together. My favorite lately is her lovely "in my garden" series, which seems appropriate, as the trees are leafing out here in Texas, and we look forward to flowers and critters alike (except the mosquitoes). These little ornaments-on-a-stick make me want to do each of them myself, as they are great for experimenting with new threads, new stitches - and for just plain enjoyment of looking at bright, pretty colors - and being able to finish one quickly! Part of the fun of this web page, also, is looking at the "book feature" - just click on "finished pictures," and when you get there - click on "new - in my garden series" and it will take you to the book. When the corner of the page is slightly curled, click on it, and it will turn the pages. Enlarge each picture, and it is a joy to behold - the stitching, fibers, and colors!! Reminds me. I have one in my stash that I haven't worked on yet. Must go find it and get started! Also - don't miss the link to her blog, as she has a new piece showing there too - the link is on the home page of the web site. Happy cruising!! (and enjoy turning the pages of the book!)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Celtic Knotwork - the Crosses

Sometimes inspiration for design comes from unexpected places, and involves things I had never really noticed before. In this case, shortly after I moved back to Austin about twelve years ago, St. David's Episcopal Church asked me to design and paint some canvases for them, and I was given the most wonderful books for research, including histories of the "encircled cross," and the mathematics of the knotwork itself. Being a rather mathematical person, I really really enjoyed this, and the knotwork is unbelievable in the "figuring out." One of my favorites of the Welch stone carvings was the Nevern cross, from which I did a few things for myself and for my neice's husband, who is of Welsh ancestry. This one is in very subdued colors (stitched, as I remember, with Trebizond silk), in regard for the original stone. Then, realizing that bright colors would work as well, I made some ornaments with other stone crosses in the same courtyard - perhaps St. David's Cathedral in Wales, but I'm not sure at this point. (I don't remember - might as well admit it.) First was another of the Nevern encircled cross. This one has since been finished with a few rows of white silk stitched around it, and a dark green cording - beautiful tree ornament. The "Cross of Ennlaun" wasn't finished, as I wasn't happy with the colors of the knotwork I chose. This knot is composed of two entertwined cords, and the colors should be distinct enough to show it - so I put it away twelve years ago. Maybe I can find the threads and finish it anyway!! The next one is labeled "Maen Archway," and I have no idea where that is - but I really like the red "rope" around it. This one I may re-draw and go ahead and stitch. Maybe. One thing of interest that I did not know until I really got into the research of these beautiful things, is that the Irish Celtic cross has a shaft, whereas the Welsh Cross is encircled, and generally on a base - as in the Nervern stone carving. I only painted and stitched two of these, and am very pleased with them - apparently, as I gave them away and have no idea who has them. Both of the crosses were finished by my friend Vikki Pinson, who is one of the finest in this field. She covered the backs with a coordinating color of silk moire, and added a little easel so that they can stand on a shelf or table for display.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Woven Leaf!!

Sometimes a little spark becomes a raging bonfire, and just won't quiet down or let go - or let me sleep. I had to do this last night, after Allie's and Ira's woven leaf tutorials got me thinking - and thinking and thinking. First was the delightful task of dumping out several boxes of "stash" and finding those glorious colors of Sharon B's for this month: I can "see" what I would do with the threads if only I had the time, but February is running out, and has been unusually busy for me. The sunset pictures that inspired me would be the starting point, and I would stitch some facsimile of layered colors BEFORE doing the "woven" designwork on top of the stitching - but no time for even a swatch right now, so it was worked on bare canvas. (not nearly as easy) Working on waste canvas made more sense, as it gave me more freedom of direction and firm guidance for placement of stitches - so, having received a nice package from a lovely shop in Portland, Oregon, The Playful Needle, I chose to use the 18 mesh, as this project is small. I keep small pieces of mono canvas ready for just such occassions - and already had this circle drawn. The first order of business was to sketch on tracing paper, and then ink the drawing, - a spray of leaves that would fit the space nicely, pretending that I had already stitched in the "sunset background." Next, using the Pilot Permanent extra fine point pen that I use for drawing on needlepoint canvas, (totally waterproof, as opposed to "water resistant" as some pens are) I traced the design from the paper onto the waste canvas, and then - after moving it around to get just the right position, I basted it to the mono-canvas. Then it was ready for stitching! The first thing to do, according to Ira, was to put in the "warp." I will say - do NOT use a stranded thread for this. I used the Splendor silk, which I really like, but it is stranded, and dealt me misery while putting in the weft. Whatever was I thinking? or maybe not thinking, as it was near midnight after a busy day. Anyway - next was to do the weft. I chose the Kreinik metallic ribbon, color #018HL, which is a lovely, vibrant navy - and the ribbon is flexible, whereas the braid in the HL is a bit stiff. (I did use the braid in the same color for the stem stitch outline). Ira suggested not going back down into the fabric at each turn of the weft, but on canvas, I got better results from going down and back up with each crossing - I had good control due to using the waste canvas for this. After finishing the weft weaving, the waste canvas was cut away fairly close to the leaf, and then the remaining threads pulled out easily with the help of my little needle nose pliers. To finish, a stem stitch outline!! The dimensional effect of this is amazing - and will be very pretty on TOP of a stitched background. Possibilities for color, design, and use are endless here - and thanks to Ira for bringing it to our attention, and for Allie's tutorial, which I found first - and which led me to Ira's delightful blog. (see links on the previous post). Good Job, ladies!! What's next?? I'm always waiting to be inspired by the beautiful work I see in blogland.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Raw Materials - Woven Leaves

The woven leaf tutorials by Allison, which she did when inspired by Ira's, somehow really caught my imagination, and I can't seem to put it aside for later - so today dug out the raw materials for maybe working this wonderful thing out for needlepoint embellishment. I had despaired of finding something to do with the February TIF colors, but after looking at the sunsets - there they are! Now I think these leaves might work into that, and help create something tangible that is art. I will use waste canvas, as it needs to be done on TOP of the stitched needlepoint background. I have the advantage with this of being able to use several different sizes of waste canvas, as the work will be on top of the stitching - so it will be interesting, I'm sure, and allow me to use several different fibers. Also, another advantage is that needlepoint "fabric" is stiff - lots of body - as opposed to working these woven leaves on a flimsy fabric, so should give me a firm ground and make the task much easier. I really am happy with the idea of having a dimensional embellishment of this sort that isn't done with silk ribbon - need the variety!! Time is short this month, but I'll try to at least get a design painted and do some practice leaves as well. Maybe digging through boxes will reveal some backgrounds already worked and ready for embellishment - I do find some strange and unexpected things there. My raw materials for beginning this thing include waste canvas, mono-canvas, paints and brushes, and my pens for both drawing a design onto paper, and then for tracing it onto the canvas!

Monday, February 18, 2008


I was just looking at that picture and remembering. This is the very house that I tried to paint yellow with my new crayon, as Mother had always talked about wanting a "yellow house." (She got one after the war - a very pretty ivory colored house, which qualified as yellow). Mother cried, as it was a rental house, but I remember the landlord collapsing in laughter on the porch steps when he saw it. I also remember that we were fortunate people, as we had an ice box for food storage. Mother would put a little square thing in the window on ice delivery day - it was in four different colors, with how many lbs. of ice she needed - It was placed so that what she wanted was on top. I used to change it when green wasn't on top, as that was my favorite color - and the ice man with his giant tongs finally learned to consult her before bringing in the blocks of ice. We still were calling a refrigerator (miracle of modern technolory) the "ice box" thirty years later.


It seems that Gail's beautiful renderings on needlepoint canvas of the AG dolls has started several episodes among many of us of remembering beloved dolls in our early lives. This has, as have other activities, evoked wonderful memories of childhood, throughout which a common thread has been a beloved doll of some kind. This photograph is one of my most treasured possessions - my parents sometime, I think, in the spring of 1944 (I wasn't four years old just yet, as I celebrated that birthday at Ft. Pierce, Fla. in connection again with Daddy's preparation to go overseas in the Pacific front) I call this the "Palm Tree Dress Photo." Daddy had just returned from Hawaii, and brought Mother this dress - white with fine shoulder pads and a green palm tree. She was soooo elegant to me in that dress with her "spectator pumps," which were high fashion in footwear at the time. Daddy was tall and handsome in his dress whites. I remembered this photo, as I do admire my parents so in continuing, against great odds, during WWII in giving me some semblance of a normal childhood - and a doll (and new best friend) for each birthday/Christmas. Toys were scarce during that time, and dolls were expensive - but I always had one. I think it was Linda Lou who was my gift for the 4th b'day, but she met a sad end in that we were in Norfolk later that year, and downtown in a snow and wind storm. Daddy was in his dress uniform, and supposed to keep his right arm free for saluting, but I whined and yowled, as I remember, until he picked me up. Then I lost control and dropped the box containing many clothes belonging to Linda Lou that my grandmother had sewn for us, and the clothes blew out into the street just as a streetcar full of sailors was passing by. It had to stop while Daddy went out to retrieve all those doll clothes. You can imagine the glee of those sailors. Daddy was an officer. Linda Lou spent the duration of the war in a locker at the train station. In remorse, for my 5th birthday (at Corona Del Mar while Daddy was overseas) I was given a rag doll dressed like Rosie the Riveter, whom I immediately defrocked and attired with a dress. She was Christened "Susan Jane," and stayed with me through college. Until I married and left home, I still was given a beautiful doll each Christmas - mainly those absolutely exquisite Madame Alexanderkins - the small ones. My sister later destroyed those, as she was never a doll person. Oh well. That's what baby sisters are for. She will be 60 next month. EGAD!! I'm older than dirt.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Exquisite Work!!

I meet the most fascinating, funny, and talented people on the internet that I ever imagined. Gail Hendrix is the kind of artist/designer in needlepoint who makes me hang my head in shame and think of burning my paint brushes and taking up pottery again. I talked her into doing a blog several months ago (her husband thinks I created a blog monster), but it has been one of my very favorites for quite a while now. Yesterday I found these ornaments, and am, once again, astounded by this woman's ability in putting a design on canvas - besides the wonderful subject matter. This one really made me laugh and remember - clear back to those Toni Dolls of my childhood - the ones who had that awful spun plastic hair and a sugar water solution for giving them "home permanents." We won't discuss Barbie here, who, in my granddaughter Madeline's opinion, has descended into a world of a "lot of pink plastic stuff." Both my "Granny's angels" here in Austin have the American Girl dolls, and they are beautiful and wholesome things for a little girl to own, play with, and display. As you look at these pictures, do notice the beautiful, nearly perfect detail of Gail's stitch painting - even the little doll hands will work well. (more of Gail's work can be seen here.) I think my favorite of this collection is the gorgeous Indian maiden - "Pocahontas" immediately comes to mind. This ornament is small, but looking at it on my screen makes me want to stitch it, as I can see Very Velvet or suede fibers, beads, and other fine things to make a piece of needlepoint art come to life. I also like the idea Gail has expressed in her blog, that long after the dolls have met a sad end of one kind or another, the ornament would remain as a beautiful reminder. (To see her other AG doll ornaments, click on AmericanGirlDoll on her blog Tag Cloud - to which you can find a link on her web page) Our Madeline and Julia have no brothers, so their dolly friends have a better prognosis. I will not go into the grisly details of the demise of my girls' dolls at the hands of their four brothers, but it wasn't pretty, and if I want to throw a tidbit into the group for immediate lively discord at a family gathering, all I have to say is "remember when poor Emily lost her head?" These people are in their 30's and 40's now, but this kind of question gets immediate results! (Granny is wicked these days, but I have earned the privilege.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine from the Heart of a Child

As I am still residing in the guest quarters at my daughter's house - I walked into the kitchen this morning after they left for work/school, and found a card and a box of candy by the coffee pot waiting for me. Had to share it!! I immediately spotted the hand of Jake, who is almost five years old, both in the selection and in the signing of the card. Laughing out loud first thing in the morning is good for the soul. He will learn so quickly, as did his two cousins, Madeline and Julia, to make the letters properly, and will be deeply offended by anything I do to immortalize his work. I have saved artwork and signatures that M and J did years ago when they, too, made letters backward - Madeline spelled her name "Mabeline," and Julia also turned the "J" around. I still intend to make a set of needlepoint pillow insets with these masterpieces, as their parents will love it. BTW, the name on the bottom is "Seth" - the baby brother in this family. He is still more prone to try to eat the colored markers than to draw with them. Anyway - I absolutely adore children's art, and have put a lot of it for people onto needlepoint canvas - makes wonderful pieces, as much of it is rather Picasso-esque or even like Matisse. I found when my little ones were about that age, that art would soothe the savage beast and keep them quiet and occupied and out of trouble for quite a while. Jake's Uncle Joe (father of Madeline and Julia) would sit under my work table and fight the Battle of the Alamo with full sound effects for an hour or so - in this case, the Mexicans were little stick figures in full uniform, and they were losing the battle. I wish those masterpieces had not been lost in moves. The other two pictures here, I am hoping at some point to have time to paint onto canvas and stitch - his mama would love it, especially as he gets older. Lots of places to study and do decorative effects with fibers and stitches. Fortunately, I have a copy machine that I can use here at home to enlarge these things for tracing onto canvas - but there are print shops who can also do the job. Other possibilities are to print them out, properly sized, onto silk for use in making quilts or pillows - or onto T-shirt transfer sheets. I have also used them to make thank-you notes for their mothers. Speaking of mothers, please notice that "Jennifer" is the first name on this - in this house, she is known as "Mama" and I am now called "Granny." How times do change. I love watching the childrens' interests change from week to week! Note the pirates in full regalia. Sometimes the best part of this is asking them to "tell me about it." A child's powers of observation are rather incredible at times - the details they notice and record on paper. (or on the walls if they can do it without getting caught). I remember it well. Do take a minute to enlarge the picture of the pirate ship and see the lookout on top of the mast! I must get this on canvas soon, as it will be delightful to stitch!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bangles and Beads!

Cuff bracelets, in about 1953, when I was in the 8th grade, were a necessary thing for accessorizing the well dressed young lady - so I had my share of them in assorted metals, including copper, silver, and some mysterious metal that gave me a rash and/or turned my arm green. I wanted an ankle bracet too, but my mother held those in the same low regard at the time as pierced ears. Until I discovered the wonderful beads and metallic ribbon and other shiny things in recent years, I would never have considered designing something of this sort in needlepoint - but these have been really entertaining to put onto canvas and stitch, as they do glitter and sparkle!! I remember that a few years later the fashion trend changed - I was in high school - to "bangle bracelets" and charm bracelets. These rattled and clanged and jingled and made lots of interesting noise, which drew attention from our peers in the classroom. Also from our teachers, as I had one with no taste and no sense of humor, who insisted that we leave them in our lockers before we came to her class. Imagine that. Anyway, the subject of this post is not fashion in past years and another life, but is to be a brief bead tutorial, as I have had questions about that - and also have seen some rather strange instructions regarding putting the beads over a hole in the canvas and not on the stitch. I use the beads exactly as I would a tent stitch, and this incorporates them into the body of the needlepoint fabric that is created. They can be placed as accents, or as a technique I discovered by accident, whereas the surface looks beaded solid, but isn't. You can see on this close-up that the background, worked in YLI ribbon floss, is stitched in basketweave, but only on the warp threads - leaving the weft (with the little "dips") bare. When the beads are placed on the weft stitches, the surface appears heavily beaded - and it really takes surprisingly little time! You can also see in this close-up the little burgundy beads I placed in the space in the gold "picot" edge. To do this, I use the old fashioned long, skinny beading needle and the little wire threader that I normally find at craft stores. Tapestry needles are too thick and too short for easy beading. I use cotton floss in the same color as the background or the bead - in this case, I used the Sundance seed beads - size 14, color 250, which is crystal clear. By using the same color floss as the background, the bead takes on the aqua color also- but with a nice, subtle "frosty" look. It's quite pretty, and more effective here than using an aqua bead. Cut a piece of floss about 16" long, and separate off two plies - then thread the needle one ply at a time. Come up under the stitch to be made, grab a bead with the tip of the needle, and go back down over the stitch as a tent stitch. Then come back up again and separate the floss to go around the bead, and go back down once again - and this anchors the bead nicely so it won't wobble. (in addition to its being placed into the "dip" of the weft) Except for the petals on the flowers (YLI Ribbon Floss in Black Orchid) and the background, this bracelet and earrings are worked totally with Sundance seed beads and Kreinik metallic ribbon!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

TIF February: Sunsets

In the beginning of this month's challenge, I wasn't terribly excited about the color scheme, and had almost decided to just wait for the next one, and concentrate totally on "memories" of back in the day when I was young - and needlepoint hadn't so many possibilities. Recently, a friend sent me a picture by e-mail of a sunset with a windmill, which immediately triggered memories of west Texas, where I grew up. In the 40's, when I was a child, the rural landscapes were full of these lovely things, which by the late 70's were almost gone. Standing against a gorgeous sunset, this one makes quite a dramatic statement. Due to a lot of dust in the air, a west Texas sunset is quite gold/orange/red, and if there are hills in the background, the layering is a soft, dusky blue, as in the colors Sharon B. has chosen for us. This triggered an idea, of course - if I were a quilter, I would know exactly what to do. However, I do have an option, as there are threads in these colors somewhere in my stash at some level in the boxes and drawers - and I could surely, if I try, do a needlepoint version of my imaginary crazy quilt! Further intrigued, I went to one of my favorite sites - the Jigsaw Puzzles - and looked under "nature scenes - sunsets" to find more pretty pictures. (I am totally addicted to this activity now, and it is a must with my morning coffee). Do any of you remember back in the "good old days" when we were children, and the jig saw puzzle in the box was a family occupation - or at least two people? My grandfather used to do this with me, and it was lots and lots of fun and togetherness - and leaving the card table up for days until it was finished. A great birthday or Christmas gift was a new puzzle to work. Doing it on the computer is nice - but rather solitary, and not nearly as satisfying. Of course the "togetherness" we had before TV and computers will never be the same. I even remember "corn shuckin' and pea shellin' and quiltin;'" as community projects. (but then I'm older than dirt.)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

TIF February: Earrings and Ink Pens

I remember it well!: Ink pens. This thought flashed through my mind, as the stage is set for remembering things waaaaay back when - things like ball point pens and felt markers didn't exist. I remember in the third grade finally being allowed to use a real ink pen - the kind we filled from a little glass bottle set into the ink well of our desks - Scripto, I think it was, and it had a little glass bowl looking thing under the lid to make filling the pen easier and not so messy as dipping it down into the bottle. (This came to mind as I was placing orders for boxes of 12 of the assortment of pens I now use for my design work and other assorted tasks.) I use a fine line permanent marker for drawing on needlepoint canvas, a fine point felt marker for inking master drawings for tracings, and medium point gel pens for other tasks, like writing copy for Needlepoint Now magazine on legal pads. This came to mind as I was putting the "lace" designs onto canvas, and the ink ran out of my pen. The high spot of getting ready for a new school year to begin, besides shopping for new wardrobe, was going with my mother to the office supply store and selecting a new fountain pen - preferably a Sheaffer's, in my favorite color at the time, which could be left to have my name embossed in silver on it. What luxury!! Anyway - on the subject of earrings, we've come a long way! My grandmother used to wear button earrings shaped like this - I found a large collection of them when I cleaned out her house a few years ago. All "clip ons" which were agony to wear, but all there was when I started wearing them myself at the grown-up age of 14. When I went away to school at 18, I had still been wearing them all those years, and they hurt really really bad, but one must suffer to look nice, I was told. Back then, one wasn't allowed pierced ears, as it "wasn't nice" - but the day I was 21, I went straight to the doctor with two other friends, and we had them done. I used the birthday money my father gave me to buy myself some fine antique smoky topaz dangling earrings, and my mother was furious, needless to say. My grandmother applauded, and gave me the diamond studs that her father had given her when she "came of age" at 16. (apparently it was "nice" back then.) The subject of this post was supposed to be remembering again that back in "the day" we had nothing for needlepoint that sparkled and glittered except that horrible gold "cloissone'" stuff that raveled if one caught a fingernail in it. Working on these little pieces has been a joy, as I have used lots and lots of Kreinik metallic ribbon, seed beads, and shimmer blend YLI ribbon floss - they really shine, and are fit for a party!!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

February TIF: I Remember it Well!!

I think Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold sang that in GIGI - I loved it! I haven't really decided on any one fine, big project to begin and work on during the month, but as I start each new small one, it seems to now bring back a memory of something about needlepoint "back in the day," as someone has said. Apparently this is happening to many who began stitching about the same time I did, or under the same circumstances: i.e. nothing but wool or cotton floss to work with, and no really exciting and novel items to make. Pat, (NCPat to many of us - but also of the wonderful blog "Needleartnut") showed a bracelet and earrings last week that she is making - or has made, so of course I had to go investigating that one, and found that jewelry, indeed, is a big item at the present time. I am, currently, working on recreating the "lace" designs I worked back in the 70's - and it occurred to me, with collaboration with her, that due to the great metallics and shiny ribbon floss and sparkling beads, jewelry could, indeed be created - the kind that sparkles a bit. In the beginning, when I hadn't been painting canvases very long, a shop owner asked me to do some small Christmas ornaments for her - I did, and was horrified when they came back stitched and finished, to see that lthe little squares and rectangles worked in Persian wool and stuffed like little clunky pillows were just plain ugly. They sold very well at the time, but I have not since, in all these years, designed any Christmas stuff - mental block, I think. Of course the picture has changed now, and ornaments do, indeed, sparkle and glitter and shine - so I am stitching "jewelry." Oh boy!! The second picture is the drawing I made on canvas this morning - will stitch it after I catch up with my other obligations. I think it would be super on black canvas with just a few black beads on the background - but I didn't want to do battle with drawing on black today - hard on the eyes. If I get around to stitching it, it will have red flowers, green leaves, and gold metallic lace trim - and a white beaded background. Pat is looking for buttons to cover with these earrings, and will send me sizes soon, I'm sure. Even before Sharon announced the theme/topic for this month's challenge, I was thinking back to how few resources we really had in the late 60's and during the 70's for interesting needlepoint pieces - but we enjoyed it immensely anyway. (Quite addictive, it is.) I think this is probably what has led me to go back to the beginning and re-do many of my old techniques and designs. Now possibilities are, it seems, almost limitless for things that can be made with this wonderful fiber medium.

Bad Spam Experience

Before I think about what fun I had today thinking about the February TIF Challenge, I want to say that if anyone who reads this and has communicated with me by e-mail received really really strange mail apparently from me on Friday or so - it wasn't. My apologies. It was a bad "spamming" experience I think, as someone got into my address book and sent out zillions of strange "are you my friend" things. A first for me. By the time I figured it out, deleted the spammer from the user name list, and set a new password, I was frightened, frustrated, and very embarrassed. What a nuisance - I hope it is over, and that nobody else has had the same thing happen. Now - on to the "good stuff."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Taking it Further in February

It is now Feb. 1 in Austin, Texas - but I cheated and peeked last night at Sharon B's blog, as it was already that date in Australia. I had resolved this month not to do needlepoint again, but after taking a break this morning to "cruise" pictures and posts and comments - I have decided to do this thing with the "evolution" and growth of my own work and experience with needlepoint design and teaching in the last 40 years - after all, that is a lifetime for some people (including my third child). I am amazed to see people asking questions such as "what is needlepoint canvas" etc. I will say that for me it is much more versatile than a fabric, which can be a bit fragile for pillows - and would never do for a rug or chair seat. Granted, the background has to be filled in, but that is part of the relaxation and enjoyment of the craft. Way back in the late 60's, when I first became aware of needlepoint and the painted canvas, we had nothing more for stitching than wool or cotton floss - and the term "Needlepoint" meant tent stitch, either diagonal (basketweave) or continental (suitable only on Penelope canvas) We did use decorative stitches for emphasis and interest, but sparingly, as most designs, such as my Oriental porcelain collection, (and my current Talavera designs) were too "busy" to further confuse with more texture. To make a long story short - I can remember waaaaay back when: we stitched only with wool and basketweave. We have so many more possibilities now with wonderful fibers, the exposure to zillions of new stitches,etc., but at times it is a bit overdone in my opinion. In my recent work in the last year, as I have been exposed to the Art Crazy Quilt via Allison Aller and Sharon B., I have given myself the freedom to do what I call canvas "embroidery" enhancement - because in needlepoint, that's what it is. A whole new world opened for me in design!! True needlepoint, as it was done as "Berlin work" in Victorian times, was only worked as tent stitch - usually continental stitch on a background with preworked center motif. Now we have incorporated embroidery into our work, and it can be lovely and interesting. I have been resurrecting things I was doing in the 70's, as I think they are timely - and this is what has brought me to the decision to once again do needlepoint for my February TIF - 40 years of evolution and back to the beginning with modern improvements. I had already dug out this JULIA pillow - hoping to finish for my little Julia, who just had her 9th birthday. I didn't - but will soon. I started it when she was four years old, and could just recognize her name. Shame on me. Anyway - the version of Gingham checks is one of the first things I did in about 1972, as I had painted the old Quilt applique design, Sunbonnet Sue, on canvas, and wanted to make it a bit more interesting with a gingham checked border and dress. Love those Scotch stitches, as they go faster! This is another use of the charted designs I chose to resurrect about four years ago - the "Lace" replicas in needlepoint, and am wondering if they could also be done on linen or other x-stitch fabric. Again, with so many gorgeous shiny, glittery, sparkling fibers available - we can do all kinds of things with lace that couldn't be done with wool or cotton to be effective. More later - this has me going now! Time to get to work.