Monday, June 30, 2008

A Few Beads More!

It's amazing what a few little beads can do to the surface of a needlepoint piece to jazz it up a bit. This is exactly what was missing, I think, as it was looking a bit lifeless before. The beads on the left side are my favorites of the Sundance beads - the #250 clear. These are the smooth ones rather than the hexagonals, as I didn't want glitter, but just a subtle textured effect with some shine. These beads have a rather iridescent surface, and reflect the surrounding background color as well. Also, by using floss the same color as the background silk to apply the beads, they look the same color, but with a different effect than I would have with pink/purple beads - and I like it much better!

This canvas was enjoyable to stitch, and simple, as it was the silk ribbon flowers that were to be the important part. With only five patches, the flowers show up well, and aren't overshadowed by a lot of pattern and texture in the background. Incidentally, my camera seems to make a better image than the scanner, as the colors here are true, and the beads show up better (which is why I opted to use the camera). Also, the flowers aren't mashed!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The CQ Heart Almost Finished!

The next step, having put in the seam treatments and vines, is to place a few flowers and leaves in silk ribbon. I'm a bit rusty at this, as I haven't done it in several months - and am also using the 7mm ribbon that I haven't worked with in about ten years - it's clumsy at first, and I couldn't make it do exactly what I wanted - but practice will help. The ribbon is new to me - it's absolutely gorgeous in it's finish and sheen, and comes in the 4mm and 7mm widths that I enjoy using for embroidery on needlepoint. (see this ribbon at Riversilks) Placing flowers is just a matter of adding one at a time at random - and then a few leaves, etc., progressing slowly without a real plan in mind. I'm always a bit surprised at the end result - instant gratification, also, as it goes fairly rapidly. My problem with it is knowing when to quit. One can get carried away!

It was necessary to put this thing away from time to time this afternoon, as it gets tiresome and confusing if I work on it too long. I'm sure there will be things I don't care for by tomorrow when I look at it with a fresh eye - or maybe some small element to add that would help. Anyway - it will stay like this for a day or two until I look at it again. The beads will be added last, and will jazz it up a bit. I have chosen beads that don't sparkle - but rather shine nicely, as "pearls" on the Hungarian criss-cross patch, and clear beads on the pink/purple patch with matching floss to apply them. A subtle effect is needed here so as not to distract from the embroidery. The pink flowers are a bit mashed from the scanner - but I am thinking they need a second layer anyway, as the petals look a bit limp and skimpy to me.

This one is in the stage of "laying in the color" - which means I tried one at a time to see what looks best where out of my pile of potential threads. So far, it is not looking anything like the piece I saw in my mind - but it's interesting, so I will continue and see what happens. Sometimes these things take charge and do as they please. I'm never really sure what to expect in the beginning.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Crazy Quilt Progress

Several people have asked if I plan these things ahead. I learned the hard way a while back not to, when I "planned" one quite a bit larger than this, and had every patch, including color swatches of the threads taped on. That didn't work - as nothing looked quite right when I followed this pre-conceived notion of mine, and I ended up changing almost everything. I have found also that it is much more entertaining to just dump out threads, choose a basic color scheme and build as I go - not really intending to use them all, but having plenty of choices available.

In this case, I had been studying Allie's "Spring" quilt that has lots and lots of silk tie fabrics, (see this quilt here)and wanted to start with the pink and blue patch, which closely resembles a patch on hers. I will put little "pearl" beads in to the spaces marked with dots that are between the criss-cross Hungarian stitches. Having started with one patch, it is easy to select the next color and figure where to put it, so it's really just a matter of adding a bit at a time - it seems to fall together as it should. That little bit of teal rick-rack happened when the thread fell out of the bag onto the colors I had chosen, and looked so fine I decided to go ahead and use it. Notice that on the darker pink/purple patch on the left, the dots were marked before stitching basketweave around them for later placement of beads.

The next step is to begin the seam treatments. I like to make the main "vine" effect first, onto which the silk ribbon flowers will be made as the main embellishment feature. I won't know what color these flowers will be until I pour out the bag of silk ribbon and see what looks best. I don't dare work on this when I'm tired, as I will get careless or get in a hurry and make a mess - soooo will put it away for this evening and start background patches on the yellow one. I'm making the patches mainly with silk, and rather plain, as the predominant feature will be some new flowers I want to try with the 7mm ribbon I found at Riversilks - gorgeous stuff!.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A New Rollie - the Mermaid!

In haste this morning, as I have work to do and errands to run. Gail Hendrix just sent me this picture of her new design - and I love it! It's also another great excuse to go "stash-diving" in the boxes in the closet - and hopefully I will find that I need to go shopping for another thread or bead or two. This canvas is an example of what a beautifully drawn and painted needlepoint canvas looks like, besides the exquisite color. One never has to guess where to make a stitch!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Stash in Progress (tutoring Marilyn)

The colors belong to Marilyn - another of her custom projects she asked me to do. This is an example of how a fine stash comes about, as these gorgeous silks will only be slightly used. There are a few more, numbering a total of 18 skeins in all, for a small book cover only 5 1/2" x 7 1/2". There will be lots and lots left over, and I'm sure they will suggest future works. As I was dumping them out of the bag, the way the colors came together already gave me some ideas, so I jotted down the numbers and intend to buy a few myself. I'll just put them away in the "silk bag," until I'm ready to use them. The pinkish orange, two pinks, and yellow have already triggered an idea or two - that 's how this seems to work for me. I will also keep an eye out in the LNS for maybe something that sparkles, and of course some beads, so I'll have a good supply when the designing urge hits. (great excuse, Huh?) Anyway, I taught her a while back to work my freehand plaid, so I think her dog Humphrey will have some fine and colorful plaid collars in the future - and maybe a belt or two for her daughters in these colors.

My "crazy quilt" heart is coming along nicely - so I pulled out this fine silk ribbon I bought a while back to try, and it's perfect with the "stash" threads I'm using! The ribbon is from River Silks, and is new to me. It has a lovely sheen, and comes in the 7mm width that I enjoy using for flowers. I also bought the 4mm width in the same colors so I'll have choices when the work is begun for embellishing.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Wealth of Stash!

Back in the "olden days" of stitching on painted needlepoint canvas, we only had Persian wool, and it was usually sold by either the strand, oz., or sometimes a little hank of ten strands - so there was seldom much leftover to "stash."

Now, with the enormous number of novelty fibers available to us, we seem to accumulate a lot of leftovers, as sometimes one must purchase a whole skein of thread just to stitch one square inch of design. I actually have one large plastic bag labeled "sparkly green stuff," and another, "sparkly red stuff." Then there is "shiny white stuff" and of course BEADS! Most of this is left over from my "jeweled" cross phase, as well as Christmas ornaments. At the present time, I am grateful to have already this supply of threads to choose from for my latest madness, the charted "laces and trims," which are sparkling and jeweled when made into tree ornaments.

Anyway, a plentiful stash is, indeed, as Sharon B. suggests, wealth - as it provides a certain security and convenience, as well as a source of inspiration for new designs. It's also a great challenge to see if I can work with what I already have, rather than buying more. Also - don't forget the "eye candy effect"!! It's good for the spirit.

I have begun recently a new series of small CQ designs in needlepoint, so have dumped out my leftovers, as well as some recent impulse purchases, to see what is available. Amazing combinations can fall together by doing this!. A well stocked stash is, indeed, full of possibilities for special effects in contrasts in texture and color. A useful thing, I think, with a feeling of luxury as well.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tweeting, Chirping and Humming!

At the present time I am rummaging through my rather formidable stash of threads, beads, metallics, silk ribbons, and all kinds of hoarded-for-years goodies, exploring the possibilities for yet another design project to keep myself entertained. A stash is a good thing, as I find over periods of time, that color schemes are easily put together from groupings I accumulated during different "phases" - and it's a great challenge to see if I can create something attractive and meaningful without going shopping. Of course shopping is good, and I never leave behind anything I see in a store that appeals to me in some way - that might come in handy at some later period of design development.

Also, at the present time, I have a NN deadline pushing - so need to get my mind clear and on that. Meanwhile, if you haven't already done so, please go look at Gail Hendrix's gorgeous feathered critters - which I would rather be stitching instead of my own!! See them here at "Squiggeeland"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Projects In Progress (The Peacock)

A "project in progress" (PIP) differs from a WISP in that it isn't slow - it's just not finished. It's an ongoing thing. I usually don't work on just one thing at a time - and especially if it's a brightly colored piece. This time, however, I have two rather splashy ones going at the same time. The peacock is shown in previous posts - and at this time, it's nearly done. (Do also see Gail's other new birds here, as they are totally delightful and full of color and personality.) I only have about two square inches left to stitch, and a few beads to add, and I will be done. Then it's off to the P.O. to Gail herself to send away for finishing as a rollie. The colors are magnificent, so it hasn't been boring - and the designwork is actually a rather semi-abstract thing. I can't really call any of the features "tail" or "wings" etc. - so just tried to enhance each area rather simply with basketweave and beautiful threads. The bump stitches are for accents, and carefully placed wherever I saw a square of four stitches.

I rather like the texture it added to this area - as it is the same color as the elements on each side of the body of the bird.

The last thing I will do is to sew on the bugle beads which were provided with the canvas - I haven't done this on top of finished stitching before, as I normally do the beading incorporated into it. If I can't figure it out, I'll send it back to the artist herself for the task.
The jewel case has my own Talavera design on it - which is now produced by Creative Needle. It is coming along nicely - but I'm getting a bit weary of bright colors, as these two pieces are rather intense. The outlining, done with a navy high luster braid from Kreinik, really enhances the pattern. The rest of it is stitched with Splendor silk, with the exception of beads where the green dots are, and red shimmer blend ribbon floss for the little squares in the diaper pattern. These two have been fun - but I'm going to start something a bit more subdued, I think, next time.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Marilyn's Lace

I didn't realize until I was looking in my picture file for this piece that it is in keeping with the beautiful colors Sharon B. has chosen for us this month - of course I will refrain from telling Marilyn about the "discarded kitchen sink" palette.
Anyway, her latest project has been to do a "wedding pillow" for friends of her daughter's. I don't think the bride has chosen her colors, yet, but we thought that doing a rather understated and elegant piece would endure over the years - and is more likely to be treasured by any future offspring. Sometimes, as sweet as they are, a lot of hearts and bells and winding ribbons become a bit cloying in the general decor of the home, and they get relegated to a trunk in the attic. The couple's names and the wedding date will be machine embroidered on the back of the pillow after finishing is done.
I won't go into great detail about the lace again, as I have done this in previous posts labeled "Needlepoint Lace" - as well as it's being the subject of my article in the current issue of Needlepoint Now. It is just a simple matter of playing around with small elements to replicate the look of crocheted lace edgings. In this case, the "picot" edge with it's little bump stitches is composed of smyrna crosses. The size of the inner field is drawn in white paper, traced onto canvas, and the center marked - then, starting in the center, the lace is drawn and turned at the appropriate place on the corner. The threads used here are from Vineyard Silks - I really like the effect. We had to outline the initials to make them "entertwine." This effect is also possible to do on fabric by using waste canvas - I use the 18 mesh for narrow edgings. I simply mark the lace onto the waste canvas with the same black Pilot pen I use on needlepoint canvas - (or an ultra fine Sharpie in lieu of the Pilot.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A New Blog!!

No picture right now - but the good news is that I have nagged my James (#5 child) to start his own blog to show his magnificent "suspended universe" artwork. (see it here, as well as in a previous post of mine) I had not seen him in three years until this past Memorial Day weekend, as he is in the Navy and had been overseas three times in that period. What a relief it was to see him and his little family. Anyway - before he left to go overseas, he set me up on the internet and taught me how to e-mail, find a chat room, etc. etc., as I had refused adamantly to even have a computer until then. My Joe had given me one for Christmas, and James made me use it. Do I need to say how long it took me to become addicted? While he was here, I showed him the entertainment and great rewards of doing a blog, as well as showing off my skills - so I have spent much of today with IM's between us, as he is back in Oklahoma now - helping him set up his blog. Do take a look at it. I'm sure it will be very enlightening and entertaining when he finds his wings here. He is my own child for sure (and very talented with art and music) - we march to "a different drummer."

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Peacock: Phase II

Working on the peacock again - you may have to click on pictures on the previous post about him to understand what is going on here. I'm trying, as a fellow designer, to read Gail's mind (This is Gail Hendrix's peacock, which she has graciously allowed me to stitch after I hinted, whined, and finally begged.) The beads now placed on the stomach were put onto the very very lightly painted dots - almost white, and hard to see. For this reason, I felt it didn't need polka dots, but a rather subtle bit of texture and sparkle, so I used my favorite of the Sundance beads - the color #250, which are crystal clear. I used the plain ones, and not the "hex" as I didn't want glitter for this one. They were applied with a very light blue floss, which of course shows through the clear beads - just the right amount of light color and sparkle when the light strikes. The blue dots are also beads, but I had to re-arrange them, which involved painting them out with white acrylic, as Gail put them onto the warp - "bump" stitches. This is a logical thing, except when the plan is to use beads - she didn't know I would be stitching this one, so didn't do the weft thing. I made little black dots with my Pilot pen on the weft stitches in just the same count and distance apart. I'm very pleased with the look so far, but am surprised at the amount of YLI ribbon floss I have used. I have a lot in my stash, as I like it very much - it has a lot of body, and a really pretty shine, which is better in some cases than the softer sheen of silk. The colors I had in my stash, coincidentally, were the perfect colors for this bird and his gorgeous feathers. Also - the contrast in texture is great against the matte of the Petite Very Velvet of the birds' body - and also the green framework around the purple area. The white beneath the blue dots is also ribbon floss, as are the green bump stitches. The breast of the bird is stitched with 3ply of Splendor plus 2 ply of Accentuate, as Gail had painted it with a little bit of sparkle - which I think it needs. The sparkle and glitter of beads are kept just to the central figure of the bird - notice his black top knot also has beads in it - because this is the main focus. The colors and pattern are so beautiful and so busy, I didn't feel that more would be appropriate or attractive. This design is intended to be a "Rollie" - a cylindrical ornament. I couldn't wait to see what it might look like when finished, so wrapped it around my pottery rolling pin for a preview. I did add a row at each top and bottom of long armed cross stitch (in Kreinik 002V metallic braid), as this makes a nice finish for the edges. The beak is worked with Kreinik Vintage silver, and the little purple area above it is the same Splendor as the purple background, but with a bit of Accentuate used as blending filament. There are gold beads for additional sparkle in the lattice work looking design at each side of the bird. The little dots were so very light that I didn't notice them at first - but accomodated the counting so as to place beads there. Since the beads are gold on a metallic gold ground, they aren't obvious, but the glitter is there whenever the ornament moves and turns. Gail's canvases are delightful to stitch, as they are not only stitch painted - but in this case, symmetric, as it should be. I can just duplicate with ease on the left side what I have already done on the right without struggle or counting myself.