Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tyler and Tartan

One doesn't have much to do with the other - but I'm attempting to explain my lack of enthusiasm and blogging the last two weeks or so. It seems that I'll be moving back to Tyler, after many years, and am delighted - but do dread the upheaval again.

I've packed up to move from one residence to another three times in the last few months, and am worn out, crabby, and just plain mean at times. I can't find anything, and it's maddening. However, as long as my computer works, and I have my coffee maker, paint brushes and plenty of canvas and something to stitch, I'll survive one more time. The Imari isn't the first one I did - I can't find a picture of it right now.

I started out in Tyler in 1969 when a woman brought me a gorgeous Imari saucer and asked me if I could put it onto needlepoint canvas for her. That was a long time ago, and I have continued to design from the antique porcelains whenever I run across something magnificent. This is from a plate my oldest son gave me in 1995. There were two of them, but I can't find a picture of the other one.
The Alpine Meadows tartan is almost finished - and needs a bit of light blocking with a steam iron. I've really enjoyed working on this one! Incidentally, I just posted a tutorial on stitching gingham checks on a circular shape over on Freebies, etc.
The ladies in the U.K. are amazed at the terminology we use - I was told in a comment that all of this is "tartan" and they've not heard of the term "plaid." I had researched this in curiosity a while back - and it's true that they are all one and the same - woven fabric with a pattern created by stripes horizontal and vertical meeting at 90 degree angles are referred to as "TARTAN." Interesting!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Silk Ribbon Embroidery - a different twist!

I took a little bit of time this morning and treated myself to another cruise through Needle Crafts. If you click on "silk ribbon embroidery" - or something like that - on the list of topics under the header, you will see some techniques that are different from the "norm" we usually see.

There are even dragonflies and butterflies and a few flowers I haven't seen before - enchanting! Also, the other patterns and tutorials are amazing. I have no picture here, as I couldn't communicate to get one to show.

I've used silk ribbon in three different widths for about 12 years - for surface embellishment on stitched needlepoint designs. It's almost instant gratification, and a very creative endeavor, once one "gets the hang" of handling the ribbon and making the stitches.

On this blog this morning, I saw the solution to one dilemma I had had with a particular flower - this is good! I used the SR embroidery extensively on my "birthday crazy quilts" in needlepoint, and it's easy to get carried away sometimes. A most rewarding form of needlework!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Inspiration for Design

I'm in the middle of another week of chaos and confusion, in moves I'm making - hoping to land soon wherever it will be that I can "bloom where I'm planted." I'm pretty wilted and falling over right now, so haven't really produced anything to show. However, I never neglect my blog cruising in the morning while having coffee, and love the way the beautiful images get my mind going in the right direction.

I found a new one yesterday in Australia, that you might enjoy. It's called BEACH TEXTILES , and has some of the most beautiful pictures I've seen in a while.

As I say often, I look at blogs written by fiber artists all over the world, rather than needlepoint blogs (except for two or three), as I find they stimulate my creativity well, due to the beautiful and tasteful color combinations, and the patterns developed. Lots of inspiration here, and these things "imprint" on the brain and influence images and thinking.
Liz Morrow and I had been chatting by e-mail a while back about some "marbelizing" one of her needlepoint groups is doing on canvas - I don't usually do this sort of thing, but became rather intrigued with it.
This blog this morning had some dyed fabric on it - art work- that gave me some ideas, so now I'm in search of my natural sea sponges so I can play with it a bit - see what I can "replicate" that will do for needlepoint. I'm already looking at the yellow and orange picture - the first photo- and figuring how I might adapt that sort of thing by "painting with needle and thread" on needlepoint canvas. What fun!!
When you visit this blog, be sure to read Dian's profile - it's wonderful, and something many of us can relate to.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Classic and Gorgeous Crochet and Cross-Stitch Patterns!

I enjoy lots of other forms of the needlearts, in addition to needlepoint. Crochet has been a great love of mine since I was a child, as long as it's the classic and traditional type patterns.

I have a blog post over on Freebies, etc. about a beautiful site with FREE patterns - crochet both traditional (with new twists and uses) and whimsical.

Also counted cross stitch patterns that I might even do although I don't usually enjoy that. This woman's photos are gorgeous.

I have collected Fillet Lace (crocheted) patterns for many years, just because they fascinate me - and I love adapting them to needlepoint.

A rug is shown that is exquisite, and I would never have thought of using it that way!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Liz's New Bargello!

Liz Morrow's bargello continues to fascinate me - I can't imagine having the kind of mind that produces these intricate and beautiful designs. She has a new one that must be seen, but you will need to go to her blog to see it properly. Click to enlarge the picture there to see the details of the Kreinik Holographic metallic she used in small, effective areas.
Also, scroll down to the post just below it and see more beautiful counted work - a stitch of the month thing, I think.

Jan Fitzpatrick has a new rug already in progress, which is a wonderful thing to watch - this time a totally mosaic stitch adaptation of a Moroccan rug, with "delicious" colors. See her at Thread Medley.

Friday, June 11, 2010

More Angels and Tartans

It's only an "almost" angel and one tartan - but I did manage a lot of sketching on new angels today. This is a very very rough drawing, but I'm beginning to almost be pleased. I decided to do this one for July - hence the water lily.

Larkspurs are the alternate July flower, and would be easier to stitch, just requiring a bunch of French Knots with overdyed thread or silk ribbon. However, I like the symbolism of the lotus - as the Chinese revere it for having its beginnings in the mud at the bottom of the pond and then growing up toward the light at the surface, and blooming beautifully finally.

I wish I could do that. I think sometimes I'm kind of stuck in murky waters still - or some days, just sitting at the bottom stirring up a lot of mud.

Anyway, that's what this little ink drawing is about. The dress looks a bit drab, but I plan to add color above the water line also. The rubies are on the neckline of her dress and in her hair.

I have "May" also sketched in pencil with the lily-of-the-valley and the emeralds - but not far enough along to show. The faces are drawn directly onto canvas, as they must be stitch painted to look right and be easy to stitch.
The Alpine Meadows tartan is progressing nicely, I think. I'm enjoying it as relaxation from drawing.

Usually I won't use just one thread line on any plaid, as it does't show up or stitch quite right - but in this case, the white line had to stay at one thread only, or the entire pattern would have been way too large, and I like the scale of this one.

Since each stripe is bordered by one line of white, I rather like the effect - it shows up well and adds some additional interest.

I'll stitch some more over the weekend, but tomorrow I have to make another move - back to my daughter's house and the "guest quarters." (the Granny suite) I won't be able to think clearly to draw more angels until about Monday when the house quiets down.

I have decided to be an almost elderly runaway, and run back to Tallahassee where I can sit and contemplate the pine trees and other delightful things in nature. Austin hasn't any, and I need the inspiration I always find in north Florida..

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A New Angel and More Satin Floss!

These are two unrelated topics, but I wanted to show both - and then retire to stitch for the rest of the evening. Enough of painting for a few days!! (being busy is good).

I was finishing an order of my Talavera crosses, and decided while the paint was out to go ahead and put the same motif on the skirt of an angel. This was from my favorite of them.

She's 9" high, so I was able to use the pattern exactly the same size as it is on the cross - just moved the elements around a bit. The wings are outlined in light metallic gold, and I can see using beads on the sunflower center as I did on the cross.

Next, the DMC Satin Floss. Last January there were 24 colors. Now there are 60!! I remember last fall when I first heard of Satin Floss, I called all over Austin and couldn't find any. Only one counted cross stitch shop had a little box of six colors.

I decided to go directly to the DMC site and buy some there, as I really wanted to try it. I had liked the shiny look of what they had before (can't remember the name of it - rayon floss) but it was not pleasant to use, and was crinkly. The Satin Floss is rayon - and is shiny and slilppery, but gorgeous, and when knotted up against the eye of the needle, it's easy to use.

What you see in the first photo is the entire collection as it is now - lots of fun to dump out of a bag and play!
Next, I separated it into shades, which is a wonderful development - there are actually FOUR shades of yellow and four of blue! The colors are rich and vibrant. I was doing this with a huge window behind me, so had the benefit of natural daylight, so I could see the true colors. It's amazing what effect one color has on another when placed side by side.

I remember a 5th grade teacher I had who gave us basic enlightenment into color theory - and what the retina of the eye does with color. One exercise I loved was when he had us stare for about 45 seconds at a red shape (we cut these shapes out of construction paper) - and then look immediately up to a white board he had in front of the room. There, an image formed of the same shape, but in the complementary color - which in this case was green. Budding artist that I was, I was so enraptured with this, I didn't want to be bothered with anything else - like history, etc.
In the last picture, I have separated out the low intensity colors in the collection - gorgeous, they are! I really enjoyed my activity here, as color schemes automatically fell into place - I separated out these skeins and put them into little ziploc bags for future reference.

I remember in Maggie Lane's NEEDLEPOINT BY DESIGN, she said her favorite way of choosing a scheme, was to just dump out her trunkful of yarn and see what fell into place - it works!!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Angels in Talavera

This isn't what I intended to do today, but after having to trash my earlier efforts on the "birthday" angels - which were supposed to lead up, after much practice, to the version with Texas wildflowers, I went ahead and spent the day painting these much simpler ones - with Talavera patterns on them.

The first one was easy. As I said before, I simply used the pattern I did a long time ago with the Tlaquepaque ceramic design - it seemed to suit this as well, as they are both Mexican ceramics.
The design on the skirt is the same one I used for the fish.

The second photo shows the calla lilies - beloved in Mexico and also by Diego Rivera.

Next - the sunflowers, also used frequently, as they are also symbolic for many different religions through the centuries in Mexico. A beautiful flower, native of the Americas, it turns it's face toward the sun as it travels across the sky.
I forgot to put the white diaper pattern on this one, but have since added it - tired this evening, and didn't take a picture of the updated version.
The last pattern is taken from a more exuberant ceramic piece - This would be great for lots of glitz and sparkle and shine. There are some things I don't like on this one, and intend to re-do it. There are two more I'll have to leave waiting, as I have other things that have to be done first - but it's good to loaf on Sunday, and actually do something productive.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Angels and The Big Mess

I've worked really hard for two days now, and haven't a painted canvas to show for it. I have this odd feeling that if I don't produce something, I haven't worked. Stitching models in preparation for a magazine deadline doesn't count as work either, and I always feel guilty about sitting still to do it (and enjoying it).

About 12 years ago, I painted a series of "birthday" Guardian angels - and after about two years, was so tired of them, I discontinued. That didn't work, so I finally just trashed the patterns so I wouldn't have to paint any more.

I found two in an old file - just what I needed! June and July. I want to do these smaller and much simpler - so this has been added to the chaos on my work table.

Also there are the nine Talavera angels I drew yesterday, and two Tlaquepaque angels from the Gov's Mansion group. Also begun is the new July angel, in preparation for moving on to the wildflowers for the ANG event next year. (I'm practicing - but need to decide which size to use)

Have to get "warmed up." . I've drawn little "blanks" for these things so I can make sketches on them as they occur to me. So far, I'm not happy with my July angel, as the waterlilies aren't looking as I want them. Maybe tomorrow when I'm fresh and full of coffee. Size is one of my dilemmas, and I would really appreciate some feedback and opinons about this.

As I said, I've drawn little blanks for sketching - not complete, and I'll change the wings for many of them - these are just for ideas.

Anyway, the originals, both birthday and the Ceramic adaptations, are 9" high, but I have reduced sizes to 7" and think that's what I'd prefer, myself.

The 9" tall ones are great for stand-ups, but that's a lot of stitching. I've drawn the Talavera angels both sizes, and can't figure out which to paint. That's all part of "The Big Mess" you see here.

The June and July images aren't good, as they are scans of photos I took long ago - way before I had a computer and digital camera. These were done also before I realized a good finisher could do more shape around them - so I just made domed stand-ups.

The June roses were painted back when people were still willing to shade with basketweave, and I enjoyed the painting process to make them look right and still be easy to stitch. These have three distinct pinks on them - well separated, but reading as shading.

I'm going to have to go clean up the piles of clutter now - there's no room left on the table to put my paint palette. This happens sometimes when the ideas are coming too fast - but it's great! Much better than the days when I have no ideas at all.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Alpine Meadows is Blooming!

This is the Anderson tartan - my family. I keep looking at it and wishing I could do something with it, but it's the only tartan registered that has 7 colors, and there are too many elements to enable me to make a small piece with it. I had originally wanted to make a little chair pad for the rocking chair I have that was my father's when he was a small child.

When I started counting it out, I realized it would make a small rug to put beneath the chair, and not a little pad for it. Oh well. Maybe I'll tackle it yet - on 18 mesh canvas, I could probably do a nice pillow for my oldest son, who was very close to my father.
A small disclaimer here: I am not doing any of these tartan patterns to sell, as they are officially registered in Scotland, (even the Bluebonnet tartan) and the rights do not belong to me for reproduction in any form. I would imagine this would be illegal, and if not, at least unethical.

However, just for personal use, there's no harm - I felt that I probably should have contacted somebody before showing them on my blog, but don't know where to go. Since I'm making no profit here, I suppose it's O.K. They are just so beautiful!! I'm using them to illustrate how to adapt a plaid to needlepoint, put the marks on canvas, and stitch it - and also how to set up a specific project, not just making little squares.

I found a really fun thing today you might want to check out. It is more entertaining than the JigZone puzzles I enjoy for taking breaks. Go to SCOTWEB and check it out - a site where you can make your own tartan!! You can actually choose colors, width of different stripes - all that. You will land on the home page - so click on "tartans" and then scroll down the page to see the spot for making your own.

The green photo is showing progress on the Alpine Meadows piece. At this point, it's hard to put it down, as I want to stitch one more vertical stripe, cross a few with weft stripes - and on and on. It's a fine activity for some kind of mindless and relaxing stitching, and it doesn't get boring.

However, I always enjoy having a little sparkly ornament or something also waiting for attention for a change.

I did draw angels yesterday, and got on such a roll with that, I didn't get anything painted - but will tomorrow. Lots and lots of angel. I wish I could paint faster!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Bluebonnet Tartan/Plaid: Another adaptation!

To be an "official tartan," a pattern has to be registered, and I was surprised to see that all 50 states in the U.S.A. have one!

This is the "Bluebonnet" tartan for Texas, and I think it's a beauty. Even though it has five colors plus the white lines, it's rather simple to set up on needlepoint canvas. However, due to the pattern elements being larger, it's not quite as versatile as the Alpine Meadows, but on larger canvas would make a stunning pillow or tote bag.

When I plotted it out on 18 mesh canvas, it was 6 1/4" from the edge of one light blue square to the other (meaning on both sides of the dark blue stripe) In plain words - stopping just before the red stripes. I had to stop where I did because I had picked up a little scrap of canvas that wasn't quite long enough to accomodate.

On this one, the white is a little bit wider than it was on the green one, so I was able to make it 2 threads wide. The green stripe, therefore, looks correct at 4 threads wide, and the blue ones are 7. Yellow and red are 2 each. This makes the white/red/white stripe larger in proportion to the blue ones than they are on the actual tartan, but I think it will work. I made the blue stripes only 7 threads wide, as 9 was entirely too much, and the pattern would have been huge, and also tiresome to stitch.

Incidentally, the formula for figuring the size of these for each different canvas mesh is simple: just multiply the inches (6.25 in this case) x the mesh (18) and then divide that answer by the mesh size you want to use - on 13 mesh, this measurement would come to 8.65" and on 10 mesh, 11.25". This is only the measurement, remember, from light blue stripe edge to the opposite side- so would be a lovely pillow on 10 mesh canvas if more stripes are included.

I liked the idea of adding another dark blue plus a bit of green to edge what I'm doing, (the arrow points) but, once again, I picked up a piece of already cut canvas, and it isn't quite big enough to do what I intended. It's wider than it is tall, so I couldn't make a square, and had to choose where to place the dominant pattern element (The dark blue stripe).

This was easy, as I just used the strip of canvas with the stripes marked in color (Sharpie drawing pens) and moved it up and down until I was happy with the arrangement.

To do this tartan (or any tartan), first determine what size the finished piece will be, and cut canvas to accomodate it. Mark the center at the top by folding it in half - in this case, mark in the GROOVE, as the center stripe, the green one, is four threads - an even number.

Then mark a line across the top with a black drawing pen, and proceed to mark the colored stripes with colored pens. Draw the vertical right edge AFTER you've marked all the stripes. I changed the colors a bit with my thread choices (DMC floss on this one), as the Texas bluebonnet actually has a lot of purple in it.

After all my life seeing fields and fields of bluebonnets (briefly in the early spring) and picking them in my back yard, I didn't realize this until I started mixing paint when I was painting decorative accessories for the gift shop at the Wildflower Research Center. LOTS of purple. I worked from a real flower sitting in a little vase of water on my table. Also, I changed the red stripe to "burgundy," as there are burgundy spots here and there in the bluebonnet that people aren't aware of until studying this flower up close.

I'm also thinking of the pretty Drummond's phlox that blooms at the same time, and is seen scattered in beds with the bluebonnets at the Wildflower Center. They are red, but have a bluish cast. (The red red is the Gaillardia and the Mexican Hat.)

Now that this is done, here is progress on the Alpine Meadows tartan! I'm really enjoying this one.

When asked why not paint plaid onto canvas, I say because I don't want to mix so many different colors. In a true plaid, wherever two stripes cross, another color is created. I counted 14 on this one, just being curious. (It has five colors)

A pattern resembling plaid can be painted - but not a true one, unless one stitch paints the little intersections, which would take forever and make the canvas very expensive at retail level.

Now - for next time, on with the Angels!! (reviving and revising old ones and creating new ones) I'm being prodded hard and often by a delightful and talented friend who has graciously offered to stitch a model or two for me. This induces designer paralysis in me, as I'm afraid she won't like what I do, and will be too polite to say so.