Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blending Filament for Special Effects

Blending filament again, and what a great find for a former dilemma! These Talavera pieces couldn't take decorative stitches, but definitely needed something to jazz them up a bit for use as tree ornaments - especially with the bright and lively colors.

This little cross is a smaller version of one I'm showing on Freebies, as an example of how to make the change in size for a simpler project. The description of how I use blending filament for the most effect is on this blog in an earlier post.

Anyway, I have really liked this one, but didn't want to undertake the big one right now, so had to "small it down" to stitch for myself.
I enjoy working on a bare canvas with only the outlines drawn - both because it's like painting with needle and thread, and because I'm too lazy to paint one for myself. It keeps me going to watch the pattern emerge in color!

I've started the outline on this one in Kreinik navy 018HL, size 12 braid (for 18 mesh canvas). It gives a bit of sparkle and shine along with the DMC cotton floss I've chosen.

The floss colors are exactly the colors on the cross, and the blending filament fits right in. I'm calling the navy, white, and orange the "background" on this piece, so won't use any sparkle with it - but the pattern elements definitely need the zing of some random sparkle and shine - hence the blending filament that won't overwhelm it as a shinier thread would.

By not making the background sparklle, the design will show up better. I'm off now to stitch a bit, as the weather turned cooler, and I can enjoy some fine, hot tea. (a new package has arrived from Tea Embassy - one I've gotten rather addicted to is the Rooibos, and my favorite has just a hint of chocolate and mint. It's yummy, and has no caffeine.)

Footnote: These Talavera crosses are available for sale at my Web Store, ELEGANT WHIMSIES - the link is on the side bar.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Creating a Color Scheme

I didn't take time to ask Sharon Boggon (a great fiber artist in Canberra, Australia, if you're not familiar with her) if I could use her photograph of colorful trash bins in New Zealand, so will just let it suffice to tell about a great aid for making a color scheme.

You can see this on her blog PINTANGLE, and also go directly to the site here: KULER Go take a look! I have plans, myself to play with it a bit - fascinating, it is.

I"m showing these zinnias, as this is the kind of thing I look for when planning color shemes of my own - I'll try it on the Kuler thing, I think. What fun!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Napkin Rings

Pat Miller at Needleartnut has finished stitching my little Halloween napkin rings - and they look wonderful the way she did them. I asked her to do this, as I hadn't a clue how they should be worked - I'm really really pleased with them, so do go take a look, and then see how she finishes them! WOW!

UPDATE: Pat has finished the napkin rings - they look great, as she did an amazing job on them. They now look like napkin rings!! Just click on the link above, and you can click to enlarge the pictures.

A reminder - these are on my Freebies, Etc. blog, so you can print them out and do your own.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BEADS! The Many Faces for Needlepoint

I love beads incorporated into needlepoint - which is obvious, I think, as I just looked and have about 63 posts on this blog (three years old last September - time flies)

Also have a book on this subject in my "Coloring Book" series, which is available both as a book and as E-Books in two chapters on my web page.(Elegant Whimsies)

In the first photo, (an old one), I used beads on the background by placing one at each intersection of the open work done in ribbon floss - very effective! The second photo is a bracelet and earring I made about two years ago - there are two different patterns, and as I remember, they are shown at Fireside Stitchery already made up (cuff bracelets) On this one, I used beads in my "solid" technique that really isn't solid, but looks that way.

The blue Petite Very Velvett patch has the clear Sundance beads applied with floss the color of the background - gives the effect, I think, of rain drops on a cold winter night in December - or is it ice? (We don't have much ice here.) I love this effect of using the clear beads with colored floss, as it gives a different dimension to the surface texture.
Seed beads also make great cactus spines on a tiny little cactus! The leaves are PVV, and the beads have a finish that doesn't sparkle and glitter - so have a great look for this.

All of these projects are showing on this blog in numerous previous posts - as I started using beads and experimenting with them about ten years ago. A GREAT accessory to jazz up the work when textured stitches won't do - or just for the beauty of the beads.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about the term "seed bead." Seed beads are uniformly shaped, spheroidal (round) beads ranging in size from very very tiny to several MM. These are termed "seed beads" as opposed to "bugle beads" and other types and shapes. I did check this info with the dictionary to make sure of my facts.

I use exclusively the Sundance Beads, as they have an enormous variety of colors and finishes - not just the shiny or sparkly! Also, in the packaging, they are so totally uniform in size that I very rarely have to discard one, as opposed to other brands. I use, for incorporating them into the body of the work, the size #14 on 18 mesh, and #11 on 13 mesh. Other sizes could be used, of course, for different decorative effects.

Incidentally, using beads on needlepoint is the subject of my next article in Needlepoint Now - stitching the Mindy Canvases! ( I need to go finish those beautiful things.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bargello by Liz (Her 4-Way FourWay)

If you haven't followed Liz Morrow's new Bargello design - do go see it now finished! I continue to be amazed at her gorgeous and innovative work in this area - The best I've seen in many years!

I believe she intends to sell her patterns, and also maybe teach a cyber-class or two. I'm begging for this one!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Talavera and the Calla Lilies

Having noticed a lot of the Mexican ceramics showing calla lilies lately - especially the Talavera style, I decided to investigate, as this is not a motif used on the traditional Spanish Uriarte, which has been produced in Puebla, since the 16th century.

I had always associated this flower with condolences on greeting cards designed to send to the bereaved, and therefore a bit depressing - but when I moved to Mexico City in the 60's, I was surprised to find that it's a most beloved flower, and used primarily at Easter.

This makes sense, as it's a symbol of re-birth and resurrection. The white version of it is also used at weddings, as it's a symbol of marriage and purity. Here, we use a true lily for this time of year, and call it the "Easter lily." Not a true lily, the Calla lily is indigenous to Africa (I don't remember which part) but traveled to Mexico at some point.

Digging a little further, I discovered some things I didn't know. The Aztecs were a "flowery" civilization, having many of their religious and spiritual activities centered around the use of many many of them. A vast number of their deities also had flowers as their symbols.

Archaeological discoveries have shown the Mayan civilization to have also been a flower culture. The valley of Mexico is, indeed, a most beautiful place with a vast wealth of gorgeous flowering plant life.

I've also always loved the paintings by Diego Rivera in which he used many many calla lilies, painted very simply, flat, and always in white (at least I've never seen anything but white in his work.) I think this is what prompted me to do a little bit of research as to why it's so prominent also in the modern version of Mexican tiles and other ceramic items.

I had held back from adapting these ceramics to needlepoint, as I still had that bit of stigma in my mind about the Calla lily being used at funerals, but now I've done two pieces, and understand the "why" of it, so will continue to do a few more! This one is now on my ebay auction, which is kind of my testing ground to see what others think.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Using Blending Filament: A Pumpkin and a Cross

I first saw blending filament in a shop that was mostly counted X-Stitch in about 1986. At that time, it was known as "Balger Blending Filament" and was used by the cross stitchers to add a bit of sparkle to their work.

I had refused, in the past, to design Christmas ornaments, as Persian wool and cotton floss were all we had for needlepoint, and tree ornaments need glitter and sparkle and shine - or at least one of the above.

Anyway, I had an "aha!" moment, and decided it might do as well for needlepoint with cotton floss - so I used a X-stitch chart of a peach, and since needlepoint on 18 mesh canvas requires 4 plies, and X-stitch this size only 2, it seemed only reasonable to go ahead and double the strand of blending filament along with the floss - and it worked! I had a peach in needlepoint with sparkles!!!

For anyone who hasn't seen my little method of using cotton floss so that the plies stay put and don't go anywhere, I simply open out the entire skein, then put the two ends together and fold it over three times, cutting the loops on the ends. This leaves a rather long thread - even doubled, it seems long, (19") but it doesn't fray, and is sooooo easy to use this way. I simply take off two plies and double them, and thread the loop through the eye of the needle - and then make a slip knot against the eye. Very easy stitching, as everything stays put.

The illustrations are showing the floss including the blending filament, which I cut to the 38" length before doubling the entire strand for threading. Stitching with the needle threaded this way, the plies all stay put and give me no trouble at all!!

I use exclusively the Kreinik filament, as I really like the color range and the look of it, and also the fact that it comes, like the braid, in several different "finishes" - including the Vintage and High Luster. I've never had a problem with it breaking or fraying when I use it this way.
I think some are misunderstanding the purpose of "blending filament," as I hear complaints that it gets lost in the thread plies - but this could possibly be the result of only using the one ply. Also, this filament is not intended to look like a solid metallic, or to show with every stitch, but to BLEND with a fiber, and give the lovely effect of random, occassional sparkle. You can see it here, I think, on the features of the pumpkin.
Pat Miller (Needleartnut) suggested, when I couldn't decide whether to make the features yellow or black, to do a yellow metallic - which made sense, as I wanted to do a black background, and there is supposed to be a candle inside the pumpkin anyway. However, I felt that a solid metallic yellow might be too much, so I dug out a yellow blending filament, and am very pleased with the result. Glowing, subtly sparkly features against the matte Petite Very Velvet of the pumpkin is a great contrast!
On the Talavera cross, the filament also solved the problem of my not wanting a lot of glitter - as I am using the Kreinik navy HL braid for the outlines (and the 032 on the blue at the top), and didn't want a lot more on it. However, it did need something, so the blending filament is on the yellow-green leaves, and will be used also on the flowers at the bottom. It's also in the yellow center of the red flower - so by just using this little bit, the eye travels downward from the top, drawn by the subtle bit of sparkle, and doesn't get distracted by too much in the body of the design.
The pumpkin is a Freebie design on my other blog - so I'll deal with stitching it there.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Silk Ribbon Flowers for October (Marigolds)

I believe "Calendulas" is the correct name for these flowers, but I've always called them "marigolds." By any name - they're awfully pretty.

This is one of the "Crazy for Birthdays" series, stitched for October last year - with the opals included! That one was fun, and I think I have a description of how it was achieved under the label on the side for Birthday Crazy Quilts or something.
Anyway, I studied not only the real thing growing in the flower bed, but looked at a lot of pictures, as that seems to be the most efficient way of replicating the "look" of flowers in silk ribbon.
I used 4mm ribbon for these, as the petals aren't quite as fine as the asters for September - on which I used 2mm ribbon. The little centers are made with French knots and Soy Luster.
Creating with silk ribbon for surface enhancement is almost instant gratification, and one only needs to learn to handle the ribbon - it's qualities and limitations. Just a few basic stitches are all I've found necessary to make flowers that at least resemble what I wanted - and it's great fun to study leaves and flowers, vines, etc. outside, and figure out how to do them in silk ribbon. I even did a series of Texas Wildflowers several years ago! (can't find them now)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Beautiful Bargello: Four "4-way"

Many times it is a matter of colors, thread choices, and arrangement that makes a project come to life as a beautiful decorative home accessory!

Liz Morrow's blog, LIZART, is one of the very very few needlepoint blogs I look at regularly, and this morning, as I was admiring the beauty of the colors and effect of the outlines on this new piece, I realized that it's an extremely simple mitered bargello pattern - quite elementary, and a great one for anyone to begin.

However, the arrangement of the four, in addition to the lovely choices of overdyed threads, etc., makes it one that anybody would enjoy doing.

I was surprised at the simplicity of the design, as Liz is, in my opinion, the best of the Bargello artist/designers these days, having surpassed the Elsa Williams style many of us started with in the 70's - as well as Dorothy Kaestner's Four-Way Bargello, which I found to be fascinating.

Anyway - whether you have or haven't worked Bargello, do go take a look and watch the process as she proceeds. She says she has other color combinations working as well - and I hope this one will be available as a pattern I might try for myself!!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Running Behind

Sorry there have been no posts for a while - I am not able to admit it when I'm ill, and let this one go too far - and then the treatment made me sicker. For the first time in a long time, I've been "laid too low" to function properly, so have done not much of anything but lie around and whine and feel sorry for myself.

This is very difficult for someone with OCD (obssessive/compulsive disorder) for needlepoint design and stitching! Feeling a little bit better today, so have the paints and brushes out, and have taken a few stitches on a small piece. It was my apathy toward stitching that had my children worried.