Monday, January 31, 2011

Learning/Practicing/Creating Needlepoint on Simple Shapes

I'm still working on the conical topiary trees, and also on the Bavarian lace - but as a lot of background is required, and both pieces are green, I have to take a break.

This subject is a result of two things: First, I have been cruising around on the internet looking at painted canvases, and cannot believe some of the things I see. There are pieces that are so simple that anyone could put them onto canvas, and at rather outrageous prices, I think.

As a designer of painted canvas for so many years, I do know why fine HP Canvases are very expensive - but people need to know that they can do their own simpler small pieces if they are shown how. I used to love teaching this. Actually, most of them don't even need to be painted!

The houndstooth check piece is one I did while experimenting with effects with mosaic stitch - and making my own houndstooth larger from the simple little count I developed for it. No paint required here, but just the symmetric outline of the heart drawn onto the canvas. I usually don't paint my ornaments of this sort- it's just not necessary.

Naturally, getting out these patterns (showing on the side bar as e-patterns to buy and download yourself) sent me spinning off in yet another direction: I thought of painting a bare canvas drawn in a shape- probably a circle or a heart - and doing some "scant coverage" things on it, after painting/smearing with a natural sponge in an abstract pattern..

I had to go dig out my collection of sponges from my pottery making for this, so the rest of the story waits (for success or failure). Liz Morrow is who told me about this technique.

If it emerges as I "see" it in my head, it will be great. If not, Oh Well. I normally do not like scant coverage, but in this case it has some possibilies. Now I'm off to find a movie to watch and more green stitching on the tree, and then some lace drawing.

I'm showing here several of my "cookie cutter" ornaments - something I developed a number of years ago when I was experimenting with different fibers, stitches, and techniques, and tired of wasting time and canvas with just scraps. At least this way, I had something I could finish and use later - and they are small, bright, and entertaining, and they don't take long to stitch. A great relief in among larger projects.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bavarian Lace in Needlepoint (hopefully)

Embarking on a new quest for knowledge, and I'm afraid gone a bit too far, as usual.

When I first decided to do the "ethnic" dolls in their national costumes, I noticed the beautiful lace insets on the aprons and sleeves of the German dirndl.

To back up a bit, I began replicating lace many years ago in needlepoint, but my facination was the Irish crocheted lace, as I had crocheted many pieces of it myself, so understood the construction. I especially enjoyed doing "filet lace," as you can see here in the top two pieces, in which a netting is worked with fillers in the "bump" stitches to create a pattern.

Bavarian lace is a bobbin lace, constructed down flat on a pillow, which produces a netting that is flled in with various patterns, but lies flat rather than having the "bobbles." I was amazed at the variation of the netting in the different regional laces, and that of different countries, and wanted to be careful not to make it look like the crocheted lace in my needlepoint things.

One of them has the same netting as filet lace, and others range from six to eight sided openings. So - my first chore has been to figure out how to replicate this fine netting on needlepoint canvas, which is an even weave scrim, and then to fill in a simple pattern - without making it look like crocheted lace.

I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who know a lot more about this lace thing than I do, as the construction of real lace has not been one of my studies over the years.

Anyway, what I finally devised as a netting has four pointers to show a fast and easy way to draw it onto canvas without having to count - or even to think, in this situation. That was a total struggle in the beginning, and I made some pretty awful mistakes with it. The canvas that looks like ladders is to show the quickest way to do this without having to count anything.

Next was the task of filling in a pattern of some sort to see if I could stitch it.

This is drawn with the light blue Sharpie drawing pen, as I intended to stitch it in white with a dark green "fabric" showing through. I like the second one best, as it shows "netting," which is the most difficult part of developing this thing. I have to keep reminding myself that's it's only to be a little band of lace on a small apron, but I enjoy the designing process and figuring it out. Oh well.

There are several mistakes here, as I was trying out different things - and the pointer shows where I decided I could make a scalloped edging by leaving out the two little stitches in that space.

Now I need to design an actual pattern to use, and although I never design on graph paper, I decided it would be easiest on this to have something on paper for doodling.

I enlarged the drawing on canvas, (150%) printed out several paper copies, and that will be my practice page. Canvas is on the left, paper copy is on the right.

ADDENDUM: I used DMC cotton floss # 3865, which I like very much, as it isn't so bright white as the Blanc, and it lies nice and flat. The background is Vineyard Silk - "Holly" as I remember. (lost the tag) I tried perle cotton for the lace, but it was pretty awful looking for this due to the twist.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Music and Ballet Continue!

For any who have missed some of these delightful renditions of the characters from The Nutcracker Suite ballet - be sure to look at Anne Stradal's blog, The Cape Stitcher, often, as her little dancers are the best that have been done. They have amazing movement and personality as well as excellent choices of stitches to enhance them.

This is a picture of the Sugar Plum Fairy, who is my own personal favorite, as is her music. She is completed, and the stitching is shown step by step in the blog posts.

Today is the beginning of "Chocolate," which should be most entertaining - a duo of characters dancing, dressed in costumes with more than a hint of the Spanish influence. If you aren't already following, this one will be great entertainment.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Site for Great Images and Color!

Before I get excited again and can't remember the name of the artist and the quilt - this is Laura Wasilowski of Illinois at the Houston Quilt Show, where she says she was a "woman packing iron." The quilt is named "Pressing Matters."

I found the site by total accident, and have spent several hours over a few days looking at things - there is a blog as well as a delightful web page.

This is an art quilt technique in which the fabric patches are cut and then fused onto a background, rather than sewn as they usually are. Then stitching embellishments follow.
Laura's graphics are delightful and colorful, and the text had me LOL in several places - especially the part about the Chicago School of Fusing. Her style ranges from whimsical to rather sophisticated and abstract.
Be sure to click on all of the "departments" on the front page of the web page - the "stitch-u-structions" is equally delightful and informative. It has a ten commandments for art quilters, which tells me we need one for needlepointers as well. (right now, I don't remember if this is on the blog or somewhere on the web page.)

The second picture is one of her large quilts from the "Housing Department." Equally wonderful are the Produce Section and Landscapes and Nature.
I won't attempt to show any more, as I could go on for several more pages about this wonderful version of needlework, which is a new one to me. Oh where have I been??
This lady dyes her own fabrics, I forgot to mention, and has them for sale, as well as threads. Anyway, do go see her web page at Art Fabrik and enjoy it. See also her blog, as there is a link to it on the web page.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Joy of Simple Things - Fun Stitches and Techniques

I was checking again today on Mary Agnes' blog from Needle Nicely, (click here to see) and was happy to see what she's done with a simple, but effective stitch (Hungarian criss-cross, one of my very favorites) to make a bright, easy, effective piece of needlepoint stitchery
Mary Agnes is a shop owner and teacher (In Vero Beach, Florida) - so it's very gratifying to see someone who strays "out of the norm" and gets very creative for herself and encourages her clientele also.

Needlepoint is supposed to be fun. I had become bored with my topiary trees, but after seeing this and it's potential, I'm back at the drawing board and into the stash and decorating more trees, etc. - it's fun and relaxing, and these little projects are great for decompression from more tedious and serious things sometimes. It's also a great way to use up stash threads, and to learn and practice new stitches and techniques.

As it's time to get started for the next season, I have put purchase buttons for some of my e-pattern eggs and hearts - two on this blog, and two on the Freebies, etc. front page. Quick, easy, creative!!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Great Thread Information!!

Be sure to go see Mary Corbet's wonderful, informative blog as soon as possible, as she has just started a great series of posts involving the effect of the "Z-twist and S-twist" threads on our stitches. Click on the "continue reading" to see the whole thing as of now.
While I already was aware of the twist in the Perle Cotton (and who isn't?) I really hadn't thought of the effect it has on things like stem and outline stitch and even French knots!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A Learning Experience (a Big Mess)

New things never quite end up the way I had imagined. I wanted to use some of the stitches on this tree from Sharon B's stitch dictionary, which you can find on PINTANGLE, so chose as a base for the "tinsel" her heavy chain stitch. (You can find this dictionary on the list on the right side of her blog.)

The arrow points to an error I made when I decided not to stitch paint that line, centering it - it is quite off center and looks very strange. However, a few well placed silk ribbon flowers and a few French knots should disguise it, as I will NOT be ripping out anything here.

I switched to a chenille needle for the chain stitch, and found it quite easy and very effective, as it's fat and stands up well off the surface of the canvas. I didn't have the Kreinik braid I wanted to use in my stash, so used the 002V 1/16" ribbon, which has a lovely color and sheen. The lower arrow points to the place where I stitched in the mark for the next swag and failed to center it either. I'll have to make do with silk ribbon flowers here as well.

It's amazing how the curved lines become straight ones when the canvas is folded around to make the cone! The arrow points to a dip which is only there because of the way I'm holding the piece - it's just kind of crumpled and held in my left hand while I took the picture.

The lower arrows show where I extended the stitches down through the sawtooth gaps in order to continue the Nobuko stitches correctly, and as they are "blended," it will be even better. Again, the line looks wavy because of the way I'm holding it.

I redrew the line that was light blue, and made it totally centered for better appearance. The arrow at the bottom points to the center mark I had made when I drew the lower curve. You can see how far off center my blue line was - YUK!

Anyway, back to the stitching, a good movie, and hopefully some more inspiration. I do have something else working that I'll show on Freebies hopefully tomorrow.