Thursday, March 31, 2011

A two-for-one special

I finished the "Think Spring!" canvas yesterday! First I added the lettering in tent stitches with DMC floss #336, the same shade as the checkerboard border. Then I completed the flower petals and buds with the Silk & Ivory.

For the leaves, I used more silk/wool blend threads: Sheep's Silk "Green Leaves Dark" for the lighter green and Impressions #5011 for the darker green. The leaves were worked in long stitches and the stems in--three guesses!--stem stitch. Lastly I added the stamens in tent stitches and French knots with DMC floss #741.

The second photo here is a flashback to 2003, when I stitched the model for this canvas. I thought it would be fun to see what changes were made between the two versions--not just in the color choices but also in the selection of stitches and threads.

The borders were worked exactly the same--Scotch stitches and slanted gobelin stitches in perle cotton. The older version, however, has a white background of diagonal mosaic stitches. The flowers, buds and leaves were worked in the perle cotton as well--my LNS at the time either didn't yet carry Silk & Ivory or only stocked limited colors. Sometimes we take for granted the explosion in the variety of threads now available to us compared to as little as eight years ago!

Leaving the colorway aside, I know which version I prefer--what do you think?

Monday, March 28, 2011


As promised, I was a very good girl this weekend and finished the basketweave background for "Think Spring!"

With this much accomplished, I was able to also finish the inner border--the checkerboard framework is complete.

Next up: lettering and more flowers!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The lone crocus

Normally, I'd finish all the basketweave background on the "Think Spring!" canvas before stitching any of the details. But several people, myself included, were anxious to see the flowers come to life. So....time out for one lone crocus and its bud!

I frequently use a silk/wool blend thread to stitch natural elements: its inherentl sheen and loft make whatever I'm stitching stand out so nicely from the background. From my stash, I pulled some blueish-purple Silk & Ivory--"Pansy" for the darker shade and "Columbine" for the lighter one.

To simplify stitching the full-blown flower, I mentally divided it into its six petals. I began with the petal at top right, working it in satin stitch, then moved counter-clockwise to the top center petal. For the petal at top left, I turned my canvas 90 degrees to orient the satin stitches in the correct direction.

Then turning the canvas another 90 degrees so it was upside down, I worked the bottom left and center petals. Finally I gave the canvas one more 90-degree turn to finish the bottom right petal. Voila! A crocus!--minus its stamens, of course, which I'll save until last to stitch. I worked the bud in a combination of tent and satin stitches.

Now I promise to be a very good girl and finish the white background before I attack the fun parts!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


There once was a time when I was a monogamous stitcher, conscientiously working one project at a time until it was finished, then moving on to the next. Lately, it seems, I'm multi-tasking, working on several projects simultaneously. The little crocus canvas got some time in the stitching sunshine, though!

In choosing a stitch for the background, I needed to take several factors into consideration. First, I wanted to maintain the look of a frame created by the checkerboard border. I also needed a stitch which would compensate easily around the lettering. Normally, I'd opt for a diagonal mosaic stitch, which easily glides around letters, but in this case would be too busy when contrasted with the Scotch stitches surrounding it. Diagonal mosaic would also detract from the crocuses themselves.

So I'm basketweaving the background with white DMC cotton floss to provide an area for the eye to rest as well as call attention to the flowers when they're stitched. When I'd reached the bottom right corner of the canvas, I treated myself by adding the blue slanted gobelin stitches for the inner border. Here's my progress to date!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend musings

On a little excursion yesterday, DH and I encountered some darling crocuses, poking their heads through the soil. Alas, the only crocuses around our house are the ones on this canvas! Not that I didn't plant any when we moved into the house five years ago--I went through a bag of 50 bulbs in a relatively small area, hoping for a glorious display the following spring.

Assuming that the growing conditions here on the Cape were similar to that of Connecticut, where I'd been a pretty fair gardener, I liberally doused all the bulbs with bone meal as I planted. Wrong!
Where we live is particularly susceptible to moles/voles, despicable little nocturnal creatures with a voracious appetite for bulbs--particularly if the gardener adds bone meal as one does a cherry to the top of a sundae. The effect is similar to that of a neon sign, screaming "Eat at Anne's!"

So I consoled myself to a crocus-less existence by finishing the checkerboard on the "Think Spring!" canvas. I need to tackle some of the background next, before adding the blue inner border. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back to work!

I began my stitching of the "Think Spring!" canvas with the border--I'd like it to look like a frame for the center design area. So I chose DMC #5 perle cotton in white and #336 to give a higher profile when the center background is added later with cotton floss.

The border has been painted "to the stitch"--in this case, lots of little Scotch stitches which form a checkerboard design. All the white squares are done, and I've begun filling in with the dark blue.

The slanted gobelin stitch outer border was worked over four canvas threads, while the blue border is three threads high. I love the look of blue and white--so crisp and clean! I'll finish the frame, then move on to the center area.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top 'O The Mornin'

Little Colleen and I wanted to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

French knot curls peek out under her bonnet, and a shawl of Twedie 18 in diagonal mosaic stitch keeps her warm. (Note: Rainbow Gallery discontinued this thread several years ago, replacing it with Rainbow Tweed.)

Her apron is stitched in alternating rows of braided knitting and slanted gobelin stitches, while the bottom of her dress was worked in the Milanese stitch. Over her arm hangs a market basket in mosaic stitches.

Hope you all enjoy this grand day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is winter over yet??

The order of calendar months is often different on the Cape from that of other parts of the country. We frequently go from January to February, March, March, March and June. No, that was not a typo! Yesterday, looking out my kitchen window, tiny snowflakes were swirling against a backdrop of clear blue skies and sunshine.

Enough, already!--it's time to think spring! Which is exactly what I'll be doing for my next project: a door hanger canvas that I plan to stitch as a gift. The recipient's favorite colors are a little different from the ones I used to paint the canvas some time ago, but I'm not anticipating any problems in making the switch.

So if you, too, are sick of winter, do come back and watch as these crocuses bloom!

Friday, March 11, 2011

One down, ? to go

I'm quite pleased with myself: it's not quite the middle of March yet, and I already have one ornament stitched for 2011 gift-giving!

After adding the horizon line using DMC floss #422 in tent stitches, I started in on the water. Here I've needle-blended, turning my canvas upside down and working away from the grass with four plies of DMC floss #312 in basketweave. After five rows, randomly staggering the bottom stitches so as not to create a line, I switched to three plies of DMC floss #312 and one ply of DMC floss #322.

I continued in this fashion, subtracting one ply of the darker floss and adding one ply of the lighter, until I'd reached the horizon using four plies of DMC floss #322. Using the darker color at the shore line, fading to the lighter color at the horizon, gives the illusion of depth even in this small space.

Since I didn't have the right shade of red for the outbuilding's roof in #5 perle cotton, I used a full six plies of DMC floss #3777 in slanted gobelin stitches over two threads. The last step was to add the date, using Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #221 in tent stitches.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A little here, a little there

Work continues on the little Curtis Island lighthouse. The lantern room was worked in satin, tent and mosaic stitches with DMC #5 perle cotton #310. Then the beacon was added in a single Scotch stitch with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #008HL. Yes, this lighthouse really does have a green light as its night identifying characteristic!

I'm always on the lookout for new green threads when I visit my LNS--I go through a lot of green thread stitching the backgrounds of lighthouses and adding foundation shrubs to doorway canvases. Recently I picked up Impressions "Moss," used here for the trees in the background in a satin stitch. Its heathery look works well to mimic the indistinct color of pine trees as seen from a distance.

Shading for the outbuilding was added with DMC #5 perle cotton #415, with #413 perle cotton providing the doorway and plaque to the side of the door. I'll wait to put the red roof on after I've stitched the water.

Sheep's Silk "Leaf Green" in a diagonal mosaic stitch provided the grassy area in the foreground. The rocks were worked in a satin stitch using three strands of Burmilana. I normally use two strands on 18-count canvas, but added another strand here so the rocks would be sure to stand out from the grass. Not much more is left to stitch on this ornament, and I hope to finish it in the next couple of days!

Friday, March 4, 2011

So far, so good

Lots of work these days for yours truly, which is good--painting Nutcracker ornaments, getting a leg up on stitching a new design so I don't bore you to tears in the future, and putting a few stitches in here and there on the little Curtis Island lighthouse ornament.

I began with the sky, done in basketweave with four plies of DMC floss #3841. I had decided there really wasn't enough sky here to make needle-blending effective--I'll save that technique for when I stitch the water.

Moving on to the lighthouse and the small building, I chose DMC #5 perle cotton #B5200. The perle cotton gives these elements a higher profile, which will make them stand out from the background later. The lighthouse itself was worked in a framed Scotch stitch and the side of the building in a framed mosaic stitch.

I'll return to the top of the canvas next to work on the lighthouse's lantern room and light the beacon!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When the going gets tough....

....the Tough get stitching. I was working on a new design, but the events of previous days proved too distracting. I needed something small to work on--I get very grumpy when I don't have something to stitch!

I pulled out this little design--only three inches round on 18 ct. canvas--which I originally painted as an insert for a Sudberry House Nantucket basket lid. Why not stitch it as an ornament? I added the year toward the bottom of the water and am ready to go.

This particular lighthouse is located on Curtis Island in Camden, Maine, a beautiful part of the country that I visited many years ago.