Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The waiting game

When I finished stitching the four outside segments of the octagon on the Brant Point Sailor's Valentine, using Vineyard Silk Classic in a Nobuko stitch, I knew exactly what I needed for the remaining four segments. Time to hit my LNS!

But when I made the trip to Town-Ho on Saturday, it turned out Barry had only one card of Petite Very Velvet in the color I needed--V604, a light tan that I've used before. He promised to order more for me this morning, but it will take perhaps 10 days for it to arrive from California. Drat!

Why was I so adamant about using Petite Very Velvet? I wanted a different texture for these remaining areas, while staying as close as possible to the color in the original areas. I'll also be doing some top-stitching in these areas, and I've found the PVV provides a nice, smooth "bed" for this purpose.

So until my ship--er, shipment--comes in, I'll be playing a waiting game with this project. I've long since given up being a monogamous stitcher, so I'd better find something else to work on in the interim!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two down, two to go

Last Sunday, I was finally able to squeeze in my shopping expedition for Sailor's Valentine supplies! That night and last, I've been working on the octagonal frame around the center scene.

For four of the eight segments, I've chosen Vineyard Silk Classic "Beach" in a Nobuko stitch. These areas will be embellished mostly with shells, and I figured the "nooks and crannies" of the Nobuko stitch would work well when I get around to attaching the shells.

This shade of thread, when combined with this stitch, almost gives these areas a grass cloth look. Two more segments to go, then I get to attack the last four segments, with a different stitch and thread!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The center scene

Progress: I've finished stitching the center scene of the Brant Point Sailor's Valentine!

For the lantern room and gallery of the lighthouse, I took a little artistic license. These areas are all black, but I wanted to accentuate the railings of the gallery. So I worked all the black areas you see here in DMC #5 perle cotton and filled in the base of the lantern room with DMC floss #3799 in mosaic stitch. The beacon, which has a flashing red light as its night identification, was worked in Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #003.

I didn't have the right shade of perle cotton for the little red roof, so instead used all six plies of DMC floss #3777 in rows of slanted gobelin stitch to make this area stand out from the tower itself. I used one of my favorite small water stitches--diagonal horizontal cashmere--with DMC floss #322 to give a hint of movement without overpowering the lighthouse itself.

I chose Felicity's Garden "Truffle" in a diagonal mosaic stitch for the sand. primarily because the silk/wool blend gives a softer look. The rocks at the base of the lighthouse were worked in satin stitch with DMC floss #646 and 647.

With the center scene completed, I can move on to the outside area, but I need to find some time for a shopping excursion first!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A tranquil sky

I began work on the Brant Point Sailor's Valentine with the tower of the lighthouse itself. Since it has clapboard siding, I worked this area in slanted gobelin stitches over two threads with white DMC cotton floss.

The larger size of this Sailor's Valentine gave me an opportunity to needle-blend the sky. Turning my canvas upside-down, I began at the horizon with four plies of DMC floss #3841, stitching five rows deep in basketweave, and being careful to stagger the bottom stitches so I wouldn't create horizontal lines in the stitching. I then followed this recipe:

Row 2: DMC floss #3841 - three plies; DMC floss #3325 - one ply
Row 3: DMC floss #3841 - two plies; DMC floss #3325 - two plies
Row 4: DMC floss #3841 - one ply; DMC floss #3325 - three plies
Row 5: DMC floss #3325 - four plies
Row 6: DMC floss #3325 - three plies; DMC floss #3755 - one ply
Row 7: DMC floss #3325 - two plies; DMC floss #3755 - two plies
Row 8: DMC floss #3325 - one ply; DMC floss #3755 - three plies

I finished off the remainder of the sky area with four plies of DMC floss #3755. I'm quite happy with the way this looks--it reminds me a little of a watercolor painting. Now that the sky is finished, I can work on the lighthouse itself!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

To the lighthouse

Another Sailor's Valentine? You bet! And this one is at least two and a half times larger than the one I just completed!

I was commissioned to design a Sailor's Valentine eight inches in diameter on 18-count canvas. The larger size provided me the opportunity to incorporate one of my lighthouse designs in its entirety, as the central scene is four inches in diameter.

Once again I've chosen the island of Nantucket for my inspiration, focusing on the lighthouse at Brant Point. Commissioned in 1746, it's the second oldest lighthouse in the United States, after the one at Boston Harbor. At least eight structures have stood on or near this site, besieged by fire and ravaged by storms off the Atlantic Ocean, giving the structure we see here the dubious distinction of being the most moved or rebuilt lighthouse in the country.

I'll be stitching this model with the intention of having it framed, although it could be just as easily worked as a boxed pillow without a lot of surface embellishment on the outside of the octagon. I'll start with the center scene, and work my way out!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


The little "Nantucket" Sailor's Valentine is finished, but not without some thinking "outside the box"!

First, I finished the stitching part, adding Smyrna crosses of Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #100 and French knots with DMC floss #841 to the stylized starfish I'd already put in place with perle cotton. Now it was time for the shells!

Last year, when I was working on Sailor's Valentines with Judy Harper for her Possibilities column in Needlepoint Now, a very gracious lady in Florida sent me a treasure-trove of shells. Looking through them again for the "Nantucket" valentine, I realized that the ones I wanted to use on this piece didn't have holes with which to attach them.

DH offered to drill some holes for me, but I was afraid of breakage and I didn't have enough just this size to spare. Glue was also out of the question--I just don't like the idea of putting glue on a needlepoint piece. There had to be some way to "trap" these shells....wait a minute! Don't shells occasionally get caught in nets when fishermen are casting for a catch?

So I "snagged" my shells with "netting," making three passes with perle cotton for each shell to hold it in place. And I assure you, these little shells aren't going anywhere! I'm happy as a clam with the finished product, and hope you will be, too!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Surface embellishment

I finished stitching the outside of the "Nantucket" octagon with Petite Very Velvet, and I like the look! This shade of tan reminds me of sand, and sets off the center scene well.

I then worked stem stitches around the scene and the outside of the ornament with ecru DMC #5 perle cotton, which has a bit of a "ropey" look because of the inherent twist in the thread. With the same perle cotton, I stitched some stylized starfish on top of the previously-worked background.

Next up: finishing the surface embellishments before I start adding some shells!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More progress on "Nantucket"

Since my last post, I've finished the center scene on the Sailor's Valentine. I raided my stash of DMC cotton floss to construct the buildings along the wharf.

The two chimneys and three doors have a stitch in common: the spring stitch, essentially an upright oblong cross stitch that's then tied down with one or two horizontal stitches. All of the windows were worked in tent or mosaic stitches with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #9200. I could have used gray floss here, but decided the little glint of metallic made the buildings look more inviting.

For the wharf itself, I chose a brown Burmilana in a slanted gobelin stitch. I used three strands instead of the usual two because I wanted the wharf to project from the buildings and add to the depth of the scene. I've started to stitch the outside of the octagon in Petite Very Velvet in basketweave, in preparation for adding some embellishments.

Wishing all of you mothers out there a happy day! May you get lots of stitching done, as I plan to do!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sky and water

Since I'm in a paint-by-day, stitch-by-night mode, I haven't had much opportunity to work on little "Nantucket." But the center scene is starting to take shape!

The sky was stitched in basketweave using DMC cotton floss #3752--the area was way too small to make needle-blending effective. I then moved on to the white areas. The buildings were also worked in basketweave, while the sails of the schooner were worked in satin stitch. I then added most of the brown areas using more DMC floss, with either satin or slanted gobelin stitches.

For the water, I needed a small decorative stitch which would mimic moving water as well as bring this area forward for more depth. Here I used DMC floss #931 in a diagonal horizontal cashmere stitch. So far, so good! Now I need to finish up the buildings and the wharf itself, while contemplating how I'll work the outside of the octagon.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sailor's Valentines revisited

My blog vacation lasted longer than I'd originally anticipated--I literally hit a brick wall last weekend and got an Easter egg on the back of my head for my troubles! Enough lounging, however--time to get back to work!

My adaptations of Sailor's Valentines to needlepoint last year seem to have sparked some interest, so I decided to have a go at designing another one which I'm calling "Nantucket." This seemed like a fitting name, as the seamen who brought back the original Sailor's Valentines to loved ones after long voyages were primarily from Nantucket and New Bedford, Massachusetts. The center scene, featuring a schooner sailing past a wharf, is two inches in diameter, while the octagon shape of the valentine itself measures three inches overall.

I'll be stitching this canvas as an ornament, and because of its diminutive size, the center scene will be pretty straightforward. But I hope to include some embellishing around the perimeter of the octagon, details of which I'm still working out, so stay tuned!