Sunday, May 30, 2010

A softer side of silver

For my next set of ribbons--the horizontal ones with multi-colored squares--I decided to use a silver with a softer look than the Kreinik holographic silver thread I'd previously used.

Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #101, which the company calls "Platinum," was used for the ribbon edges in a slanted gobelin stitch over two threads. I then filled in the squares with Scotch stitches, using the platinum thread, DMC white floss and repeating the lightest shade of blue with DMC floss #800.

For the portion of this ribbon where the date appears, I tent-stitched behind the numbers so they would show up better. The verdict is still out on which silver metallic I'll use here, but it will be the same as what I decide to use for the name on the cuff.

Only one more ribbon to go!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Another ribbon, a different look

Working on the two vertical "diamond" ribbons, I finished the edges and stitched the background in basketweave with white DMC floss. On to the silver!

I chose Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #001L--the new holographic thread. The first thing I noticed in threading up the needle was that this was much coarser and thicker than any other #12 braid I've used--it almost felt like a #16 medium braid.

As I worked with this thread, I also noticed that the color was darker than the Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #001 I've used so often in the past--a cross between the #001 and #019, which Kreinik calls "Pewter." It's always difficult to photograph metallic thread, but I do think you'll see a bit of shine in the intersections of the diamonds, which I worked in a Leviathan stitch variation.

I'll be moving on to a different Kreinik braid for the next set of ribbons to compare and contrast the two threads.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Establishing the grid

I always like to start stitching a woven ribbons design by establishing a grid. I began with the background rectangles, using my lightest shade of blue--DMC #5 perle cotton #800--in a Scotch stitch variation.

Next came the three horizontal "filigree" ribbons. I outlined the edges with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032 in a slanted gobelin stitch over two threads. I filled in the background with basketweave using my darkest shade of blue--DMC cotton floss #799--and added the filigree in tent stitches with the same Kreinik metallic braid.

I've started work on the vertical "diamond" ribbon, using white DMC #5 perle cotton to outline the edges in a slanted gobelin stitch over two threads. I'll work on the background of these ribbons and then begin adding some glitzy silver thread!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Bling Factor

My next project is a mini-sock for a young friend of mine. She was the recipient of the Gail Hendrix gingerbread cuckoo clock that I blog-stitched last year. She's also very feminine--a "Silver Girl"--so I decided to stitch a variation of my "Winter Wonder" mini-sock as her 2010 ornament.

One of the fun parts of this project will be trying out a new thread which I've had in my stash for some time but was waiting for the perfect opportunity--a silver Kreinik holographic metallic. I'm looking forward to exploring the properties of this thread as I combine it with other Kreinik metallic threads. I'm hoping that, by the time I finish, the "Bling Factor" will be very high!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mission accomplished

Mission Santa Clara de Asis is finished!

I wrapped up construction on the buildings by adding hinges to the doors and a handrail with two plies of black DMC cotton floss in spring stitches. There are three statues placed within the niches between the columns and above the front door. Considering how tiny these spaces are, I took some artistic license and represented them with satin stitches of DMC floss #318.

On to the landscaping! The trees in the background on the left were worked with one strand of Impressions #5061 in a vertical diagonal cashmere stitch. The palm trees on the right were formed with long stitches with one strand of Sheep's Silk "Moss Green" and Sheep's Silk "Dark Chocolate" in tent stitches for the trunks.

The two taller bushes flanking either side of the columns were worked with one strand of Sheep's Silk "Camouflage" in a vertical diagonal oblong cross stitch over two threads. The bushes immediately in front of them and on the far ends were stitched in French knots with Sheep's Silk "Dark Moss," with more French knots of Sheep's Silk "Green Leaves" for the bushes closest to the sidewalk. One strand of Impressions "Emerald" in satin stitches created the grassy areas.

Using a variety of silk/wool blends for the greenery creates a nice contrast against the cotton floss and perle cotton used to stitch the buildings. Mixing different shades of green, with the darkest in the background graduating to lighter shades in the foreground, adds depth to the canvas and a more natural appearance.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Construction progress-Part II

I haven't had much stitching time, catching up instead with my oldest son visiting from Texas, but the buildings of the Santa Clara mission are complete with only a few tiny details remaining.

The imposing columns on the front of the chapel were worked in a gobelin stitch over two threads with DMC floss #436. The same thread was used for the doors, in a combination of tent and mosaic for the doors on the left and right and a Scotch stitch variation for the center door. Shading around the architectural elements was stitched with DMC floss #739.

The window at the peak of the chapel roof is a cross stitch using two plies of DMC #535. The window underneath it, as well as the small window on the bell tower, were worked with the same thread in a spring stitch--a vertical oblong cross stitch secured with single horizontal stitches. The window on the attached building at the far left was worked with a satin stitch using four plies of DMC floss #535.

I'll finish the few details remaining and move on to landscaping, where I'll be able to add some texture with different threads in various shades of green and decorative stitches.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Construction progress

Busy days, busy people--but I had two hours of good stitching time in the car yesterday, driving to Boston for the graduation of our youngest son from Boston University!

The facade of the wing is almost completed with the exception of the door--I'll do all three later. With the addition of satin stitches in DMC floss #712 for the architectural details, the center chapel area is starting to come to life. It's interesting to see how the light plays off these areas, before the shading is even added, making them look lighter than the wall stitched in the same color of floss.

The base of the stairs in two areas has also been added with DMC floss #433 in a slanted gobelin stitch over two threads. The sidewalk below was worked in tent stitches with DMC floss #648 and the road below in DMC floss #535 in slanted gobelin stitches over three threads.

Once I finish construction of the buildings, I can start adding greenery in a variety of colors and textures!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Raising the roof

The sky is finished, and I've learned a lesson: choose color families wisely when needle-blending! Too much discrepancy between DMC floss #813 and the next value, DMC #827, has created more of a line in the sky than I'd like to see. I'm hoping that the eye will be distracted away from the sky as I add more architectural details to the buildings.

Now to the buildings themselves! I chose DMC floss #712 for the primary color, stitching all but the architectural details in basketweave. More basketweave? Yes, because the facade is a smooth surface, and a decorative stitch would be totally inappropriate here--the intrinsic beauty of these missions lies in the simplicity of their design, so it just makes sense to keep the stitch simple, too.

The top of the bell tower is now complete, with a roof of DMC floss #975 and #3826. The beam below the roof was worked with DMC #5 perle cotton #938 in a gobelin stitch over two threads and the windows in satin stitch with DMC floss #535. The roof of the chapel, side building and wall to the right were worked in a mosaic stitch with DMC #5 perle cotton #434. This combination of thread and stitch provides just enough definition against the sky as well as the buildings below the roof.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another basketweaving marathon

I've been working non-stop on the sky of the Mission Santa Clara canvas for the last two days, and this is what I have to show for myself: a sea of blue!

Unlike my other mission canvases, I decided to needle-blend the sky on this one, with a predominantly deep blue gradually fading to the horizon. So far all you see here is DMC cotton floss #813, in basketweave using three plies. I normally use four plies of floss on 18-count canvas, but after experimenting on my Mother's Day flower project, realized I could cover a painted canvas adequately with one ply less. Thinning the background will also help make the buildings stand out in higher relief.

The area stitched here represents one full skein of floss, and within it is a tiny bit of streaking which, at this point, I've chosen to ignore. I'm hoping the eye will be drawn away from this when I start adding another value of blue in the needle-blending process.

When I reached the top left corner of the canvas, I treated myself by working the crosses and dome of the bell tower using DMC cotton floss #927 in a combination of tent and satin stitches. I've got a long way to go yet, but console myself that almost one-third of the canvas is stitched!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A mission to stitch

This armchair traveler has headed to California to once again follow the Mission Trail. My next project is an adaptation to needlepoint of Mission Santa Clara de Asis, eighth in the chain of 21 missions established by Franciscan missionaries along the coast of California.

Founded in 1777, the mission was the first to be dedicated in honor of a woman--St. Clare of Assisi, who also happens to be the patron saint of needlework. Originally established on the Guadalupe River, the church was moved to higher ground in 1781 due to floods, fires and earthquakes. Another earthquake in 1818 destroyed the structure, and a fifth church was dedicated in 1825.

In 1851, ownership of the church was transferred to the Jesuit order, who established on the site Santa Clara College, the first college in California. The whole structure was burned in a fire in 1925 and replaced in 1929. The church pictured here is today the chapel and centerpiece of the campus of Santa Clara University.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Flowers for Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there in blogdom! This year I treated myself to a little stitching diversion that I just had to share!

Last week, Australian fibre artist Sharon Boggon posted an interesting entry to her part of her TAST (Take a Stitch Tuesday) challenge. She demonstrated a stitch she called "cloud filling," with a step-by-step tutorial on how she executed the stitch on an evenweave fabric (look for it on May 4). I began to think of ways in which this stitch could be used in needlepoint as a surface embellishment to canvas work, and decided to try it out for myself.

After practicing the stitch on doodle canvas and figuring out how much of an area I would need, I painted a rectangle 36 threads wide by 42 threads high. Since I knew there would be a lot of threads placed on top of one another, I wanted to keep the "ground" stitching as thin as possible. So I switched from my usual four plies of DMC cotton floss to three plies to basketweave the rectangle. It turns out I really didn't need to paint the area ahead of time, as the three plies covered beautifully with no dandruff!

Then I began the first step of the cloud filling stitch, using DMC #5 perle cotton B5200, to make upright stitches over two threads across the stitched area at five-hole intervals. The first photo here shows this step completed. Using the same perle cotton, I began "lacing" the thread through the anchoring stitches--the thread slipped through the anchors rather than piercing the canvas itself (photo #2). What a pretty lattice I'd just created!

Using one strand of Impressions #5061, I started weaving vines through the lattice, taking small stitches to form leaves which also served to anchor the vines. Finally came the French knot flowers, which I scattered randomly using DMC cotton floss #602. Voila!--a flower garden!

I can see endless opportunities for using this stitch, not just for a small piece such as this, suitable for a nametag, maybe. Imagine a Christmas ornament, with a ground of red or green and a lattice of metallic thread, possibly even popping a bead inside the diamonds. It would also be great for embellishing the top of a box lid insert. No need to purchase an expensive painted canvas here--just a piece of blank canvas cut to suit your project and some threads raided from your stash! Do check out Sharon's blog and try this stitch for yourself!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Grounded and planted!

The Cinco de Mayo party is over for little Pedro the penguin, but he's recovering nicely in his completed habitat!

Using DMC #5 perle cotton #642, I worked the sand in a Nobuko stitch, which is non-directional but provides some texture to this area as well as balancing the light shade of his sombrero.

The cactus on the left was worked in a satin stitch with Silk & Ivory "Guacamole"--how appropriate!--with flowers in French knots of DMC floss #3837. I stitched the cactus on the right the same way, but switched to Silk & Ivory "Dill Pickle" and DMC floss #601. Working each outgrowth of the cacti in segments, the Silk & Ivory provides just the right loft to make them distinct and look more realistic.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dressed for the fiesta!

Pedro the penguin is decked out in his finery for the Cinco de Mayo fiesta!

Before I could dress him, I needed to finish his body, adding the black Petite Very Velvet in basketweave. I used Silk & Ivory "Big Orange," which covers 18-count canvas perfectly in upright gobelin stitches for his beak and satin stitches for the flippers. The loft of this silk/wool thread also provides some dimension to these two areas.

For his sombrero, I used DMC #5 perle cotton #739 in basketweave for the crown and diagonal mosaic stitch for the brim. DMC #5 perle cotton #321 was used as an accent and as the ties to hold his sombrero on in a stiff wind!

Stitching Pedro's serape was a trip down memory lane! I pulled from my stash some Tweedie 18, since replaced by Rainbow Gallery with Tweed. I remember purchasing the red at least 14 years ago at my old LNS in Connecticut for a Santa suit! This thread is 100% wool, with a rough heathery look to make a perfect blanket. I used three different colors in tent stitch and slanted gobelin stitch over two threads here.

Not a lot of stitching left to go--this little penguin should be finished by the end of the week!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sunny skies

As eager as I am to stitch Pedro the penguin himself, I was a good girl and worked the background first!

I needle-blended the sky with DMC cotton floss, more to provide a little variety of intensity in the background than to create a realistic sky--after all, how realistic is a penguin in a sombrero anyway? Using four plies of DMC floss #519, I worked in basketweave halfway down the canvas before changing over to three plies of DMC #519 and one ply of DMC #3761. I ended at the horizon with one ply of DMC #519 and three plies of DMC #3761.

I then began working on Pedro's body, using one strand of Felicity's Garden "Snow" in basketweave for his face and tummy. I've consistently used this thread, along with black Petite Very Velvet and Silk & Ivory "Big Orange" for the beak and flippers, for all my penguin models.

With any luck, he'll be fully dressed in time for Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Getting ready to party!

It's only two days to Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for "the fifth of May," a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. On that date in 1862, Mexican forces scored an unlikely victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla.

Today Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the United States to honor the contributions of Americans of Mexican ancestry--the Mexican equivalent of St. Patrick's Day, Chinese New Year and Oktoberfest. For the occasion, I've created little Pedro to join others in my "Penguins on Parade" series.

I've got a fair amount of sky to stitch first if I want Pedro's sombrero finished in time for the holiday, so I'd better get cracking!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another lighthouse finish

With the pier all stitched, Presque Isle North Pierhead lighthouse is finished!

The walkway is a combination of dirt and aggregate, so I chose Felicity's Garden "Fawn," a heathery-looking thread, worked with one strand in Nobuko stitch.

The side of the pier was worked with DMC #5 perle cotton #414 in a cashmere stitch variation. For the rocks along the water line, I again used Felicity's Garden--this time "Granite"--in a satin stitch.

I now only need lighthouses from four more states--Alabama, Alaska, Delaware and Louisiana--to have representatives from all the U.S. states that actually have lighthouses. I'm open to suggestions--anyone out there have a particular favorite?