Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Birthday on Cape Cod!!

I was searching for something on my blog last night (didn't find it, of course) and found a post about a new blog that had just started (exactly a year ago today) that really excited me - and the excitement is still there after a year.
Today is the first birthday of The Cape Stitcher!!! I've learned SO much from Anne Stradal - and I look forward to seeing what she's doing every morning while I'm having "first coffee."
She demonstrates how effective it can be to just use simple materials, and uses decorative stitches in moderation and in good taste. Her canvases are beautifully stitch painted, so are a pleasure to work.
If you're not already watching this blog, be sure and add it to your repertoire of fine things to do for entertainment and enlightenment! My announcement of it on the "day of it's birth" can be found by clicking on "good stuff" on the side bar under LABELS.
The St. Marks lighhouse was a gift from her during pre-blog days - and her stitching is so fine, I've been afraid to work mine for fear of falling short. Maybe today is a good day to begin!
ADDENDUM: The St. Marks lighthouse is in Florida, and is one of my favorite places to escape and contemplate life in general - and enjoy the scenery. Anne has almost 100 lighhouses in her line of designs.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A "New Kid" on the block!

A young woman whom I thoroughly enjoyed last year, but with whom I lost contact due to her being busy with grad school and real life - surfaced yesterday in my e-mail, and I was delighted to hear from her and chat and catch up on what she's doing these days. A real live native of Sanibel, Florida - which is where I wish I were right now.

She's a painted canvas designer also, and I had to share this really cute turkey. She also has worked Raymond Crawford's wonderful turkey - which may be seen on her latest blog post. Do go see both of them, as well as her other recent work, at
Barefoot Needlepoint.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stitches for Edges and Small Borders

It was while painting this new Talavera tile, and deciding it needed a small border to confine and define it, that I remembered a stitch that was among the first decorative stitches I learned in about 1969 - the Knotted Stitch. That is what decided me on painting a three thread border for this piece!

I've used this stitch off and on for many years, as it's a perfect solution for a small outer border for things like 5" square pincusions - and designs such as this one. There are many stitches shown in books, but they seldom explain the uses of some of them that aren't suitable for covering areas of a design. This stitch is one of those - only should be used as a small border of one row.

It's very very simple, and is worked from right to left to avoid warping the canvas badly, and to assure it covers. I didn't take time to work basketweave inside this little border, but when that's done, it covers nicely any "dandruff" of white canvas showing at the edges. I just turn the canvas when the end is reached to start the vertical side, and work, once again, from right to left.

The first sample is worked with DMC Satin Floss - which is rayon, but much easier to handle than the old Rayon floss . This is to show how pretty the stitch is worked in something shiny - rather different!

The second photo is made with DMC overdyed perle cotton - beautiful, it is, and a subtle color scheme for a monogram pillow inset could be taken from it, as the colors are, of course, compatible with the solid color floss and perle cotton.
I like to show the stitch with two different colors on the chart to illustrate the sequence of making the stitch.

The other "small border" stitch I enjoy, and it's totally unattractive used any other way, is the long-armed cross stitch. I use it constantly, and you can see it on several projects - including my napkin rings and bracelets. It's also recommended by many belt finishers, as it makes the edges roll over beautifully and neatly.

Enough about border stitches now - I have some new DVD's from Neflix and new tea from Tea Embassy which came in the mail today - I'm off for a relaxing evening of stitching - or maybe painting, as I'm way behind.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bargello: Simple and Simply Beautiful!!!

This picture is from Liz Morrow's blog, and she's announcing that she has the patterns for sale - I'm getting in line to purchase them for myself! She says "for beginners" - but I would love to do them, and play with changing colors for different effects and looks.

Do go see them. (Click here) Sometimes, simplicity is the most effective - and these would be a pleasure to stitch. You could use simple fibers, or go nuts with really jazzy ones. Classic ornaments for any decor!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Good Shepherd and a Jeweled Butterfly

It's very rare that I get to see any of my designs stitched, but I had to make a hasty trip to Vikki's house yesterday (most excellent finisher here in Austin) to borrow back a Celtic Cross for which I had discarded the pattern, and to take a picture of this Alms basin pad (collection plate) I designed for Church of the Good Shepherd here in Austin about two years ago.

This is one my son and I chose for his family to donate as a memorial to the child of a good friend and church member.

These things really come to life when the stitching is completed! It's worked in Paternayan persian wool, of course, in basketweave, as durability is a factor. However, I chose Kreinik 002V metallic braid for the halo, as well as silk, to make it stand out against the "ecclesiastical red" background.

This piece has a very sad story that developed while I was designing the series - but I won't deal with that part of it today. It's a beautiful day outside, and time to move on.

While I was chatting with Vikki, I was also looking through the stacks of finishing on her table - she also does finishing for Amy Bunger, so there were some very interesting pieces to see.

Then I spotted one of mine from several years ago (now discontinued) - a "jeweled" butterfly that I had forgotten about. A lady who does exquisite stitching had apparently purchased it from a shop and worked it - and there it was!!! I came home and actually found the pattern, so have it offered on Freebies, Etc. for anyone to do.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Plaid without Paint (for Needlepoint)

For someone who didn't want to paint canvases any more, I'm certainly doing a lot of it. (the fish is my latest madness in the Mexican Talavera line)
Lest anyone think I've gone to join my ancestors, lost interest in pontificating and enlightening via my blogs, lost my mind, or just been too lazy to do any new posts, I 've actually been busier than usual. I've been re-writing two of my books that I did several years ago that I think need refreshing - and also put into E-Book form for sale on the web page (Elegant Whimsies).
The PLAID is one of my favorite "special effects with simple materials," and I've been doing it for personal projects since about 1973, when I first started playing around with developing "fabrics" on needlepoint canvas without having to paint.

Having studied Textiles extensively in college, the weaves are of special interest to me - and the plaid is a very very simple one, as it's an even weave pattern, so is perfectly compatible with the even weave of needlepoint canvas. I won't go into the history of it, as that's in the book - but the earliest examples of it were found in Scotland, and were simple woven grasses which varied in color.
My method is one I call "plaid without paint" - as it needn't be painted onto canvas first. Actually, painting it would be terribly time consuming, as one has to consider that where two colors cross, a second color is created.

The photo shows some simple pieces I stitched freehand with very little pre-planning except to choose colors and make marks on the canvas for size and scale of stripes.

This plaid stitching is very addictive, and I've found myself watching people out shopping and studying the clothing of those wearing plaid - figuring out how I would adapt the pattern to needlepoint. I also find that my eye goes straight to plaid on upholstery in decorating magazines.

There is a brief tutorial on my Freebies blog from about a year ago (link to plaid is on the side bar) when I was demonstrating gingham checks, which is the simplest of all plaids. Basically, as the warp of a fabric is the strength, the VERTICAL stripes should always be worked first - on the warp "bumps." Simple basketweave, skipping the weft threads is used, and this way the canvas doesn't get pulled out of shape. The weft - horizontal stripes - are then worked when the vertifcals are in place.
This is the order in which a fabric is woven - so it only makes sense to work it this way. Also, experience will show you it doesn't distort and warp the canvas. I don't use a frame, and have never had a plaid piece, no matter how large or small, pull out of shape.

The Julia pillow isn't "woven" plaid - but rather the effect of gingham checks made with cotton floss in double leviathan stitches. I just wanted to show one of the many uses of this wonderful thing called plaid.
Also showing some other fun projects. I've especailly enjoyed an old book I found in my grandmother's house of Scottish tartans - mine is the Anderson plaid, which had to be worked for a large chair seat, as it's a rare one with seven colors in it (wouldn't you know it would have to be complicated). I loved the Donaldson plaid, as it's blue and green on white - so stitched it even though I don't know anyone by that name. Also, belts and dog collars are great stitched in plaid!!! All kinds of wonderful things!!

Friday, November 06, 2009

BEADS on a "Jeweled" Bracelet!!

I very much enjoy using the pretty threads and other materials for needlepoint that weren't available to us in the decade of the 70's - and also the imaginative things we can do with them. What I like doing most, however, is creating what I call "special effects with simple materials."

These napkin rings that could be lengthened and made into bracelets were shown a while back on my Freebies - (the pattern for them is there), and were inspired by my daughter's love of emeralds, and also the fact that her husband's birthday is in April - fortunate for her!! I thought jeweled napkin rings would be a festive touch for a birthday dinner.

Anyway, the first picture is showing the DMC cotton floss, worked in a tent stitch with 4 plies, on the WARP threads only, leaving the weft "dips" for inserting the beads. The tiny little diamond chain from which the emeralds are suspended, was placed on the canvas carefully, to make sure there would be only one warp stitch in the configuration of the little diamond shape - and of course the very very small one only has one stitch, which is weft to accomodate one bead. (a sparkling, hexagonal Sundance bead - crystal clear size 14 in the #250Hex)

The next picture shows the beads in place on some of the jewels. I used green beads that aren't "hex," as I didn't want the sparkle on the emeralds. While it's great on the diamonds, it's too much for the green stones.

This effect of nothing more than Petite Very Velvet, Kreinik #12 braid in 002V, and Sundance beads makes a stunning effect, yet is so simple - no fuzzy or glittery threads and no decorative stitches except the long-armed cross stitch I like to use at top and bottom, as it makes the edges fold over nicely - and is pretty in this braid.

I also put little single bead "jewels" suspended from the edges. I used the clear beads with green floss, but am not really happy with the look - so I tried a green bead farther down the row, and it's great! Out come the sharp scissors.

The diamond chain bracelet has a great effect with the two colors, I think. n this one, I'll use the clear hex beads at top and bottom, but will apply them with blue floss on the top, and green on the bottom. This makes sense. The detail of the diamond bracelet is showing where the weft threads were left bare for bead insertion.

When drawing this onto canvas, one would take care to make sure the square cut ones have five WEFT spaces, and four WARP spaces. The diamond shapes have 9 weft, and only 4 warp spaces. If attention is given to these small details, it makes the work easier. All it requires is a little experimenting on scrap canvas.

There's still time, as these are small, to even make jeweled bracelets for holiday parties - or sew them onto the cuffs of an evening jacket - lots of possibilities here. Do experiment - and with other motifs, too, than jewels.

ADDENDUM: I failed to mention that this technique for using beads (the simple way) is explained in detail in Chapter I of my book about using beads with needlepoint. I've divided it into two chapters for the downloadable e-patterns, or it's also offered as a coil bound "workbook." You can see it at Elegant Whimsies - my web store.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sea Shells and Other Jeweled Things in Needlepoint

A really nice lady, who used to buy from me when I was wholesaling, called me about two weeks ago and asked for five of a seashell I had done for her before - I told her I had discontinued it, implying that I had trashed the pattern.

That didn't work, as she offered to send me a picture - so I agreed, as actually I still had the picture, myself, and then found the file with many many patterns for these shells and fishes and other sea critters, etc. I did during that binge from about 8 years ago.

Anyway, I was looking through the file and finding things I had forgotten about that I might decide to resurrect soon. I had started with antique fish jewelry, and then progressed to one of my avocations - the sea shells. Marine biology holds great fascination for me.

I took liberties here, though, in that I painted them with bright pastels in "Caribbean colors," and in most cases, added "jewels." The scallop shell has a fine sprinkling of pearls, which I stitched on the model I worked with Renaissance shimmer. (Painting this shell is the subject also of a post I just finished on my other blog - Freebies, etc., dealing with paint brushes.)

The pink and yellow scallop shell is actually the exact color of it in "real life." I have a wonderful huge book among my other books on shells, and was delighted to find this one. Of course I also did it in aqua, and added pearls.

The green tree snail is actually very very green, so I kind of ad-libbed with the color and made it look more like a sea shell, as I really like the shape - and added a few pearls.
Where there are sea shells, there might also be parrots - this one was adapted from a piece of jewelry! It was fun to stitch, but I won't paint it commercially - too hard to draw!!
Oh well. Back now to painting Mexican tiles and Talavera crosses. The shells were a refreshing break from "work."