Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Depth perception

Despite its diminutive size--5 inches tall and 2-3/4 inches wide--the Eldred Rock lighthouse canvas poses a definite stitching challenge. There are six "layers" to this design, and the choice of threads and stitches for each is critical to establishing an illusion of depth.

I began first with the snow on the mountain ranges. When viewed from a considerable distance, snow doesn't "twinkle"--it appears as a flat white surface. So I stitched it, not with a metallic, but rather four plies of white DMC cotton floss in basketweave. I then filled in the upper and lower mountain ranges with four plies of DMC floss #334 and DMC floss #312, respectively.

On to the sky, which I wanted to look as though it disappeared behind the mountain ranges. After testing out my theory on doodle canvas, I stitched the sky in basketweave using two plies of DMC floss #3325. I wasn't aiming for "light coverage," which I personally think to be inappropriate for this type of design, but I wanted a less "beefy" look when contrasted with the density of thread in the snow caps of the mountain ranges. The two plies of floss covered the already-painted area nicely but provided a subtle transition from the sky to the mountain areas.

Moving down to the tree line, I wanted to gradually increase the profile of stitches compared to those of the mountain ranges. I chose one strand of Impressions #5061, a misty-looking blue/green color appropriate for trees still in the distance, in a diagonal vertical oblong cross stitch. I'll complete this area when I've stitched the white of the lantern room. Then it will be time to work on the lighthouse itself!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Heading Northwest

While my Brant Point Sailor's Valentine continues to simmer on the back burner, I decided to move on to a different project: adapting another lighthouse to needlepoint. Several months ago, Jan Fitzpatrick ( sent me some lighthouse links to investigate. We both agreed the red-roofed beauty shown here would be ideal to represent the State of Alaska!

Eldred Rock is the oldest original lighthouse building in Alaska and one of the most remote in North America. From 1867, when Alaska was purchased by the U.S. from Russia, to the late 1890s, there were no lighthouses in the area to provide navigational aid. Then in 1898, the steamship Clara Nevada went down close to the rock, with 75 lives and 850 pounds of gold lost, bringing the need for lighthouses to the attention of the U. S. government.

The beacon of this octagonal, wooden structure was first lit in 1906. The original third-order Fresnel lens is now housed in the Sheldon Museum & Cultural Center. The lighthouse was decommissioned by the U. S. Coast Guard in 1973 and has been operated remotely ever since. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. A committee organized by the Sheldon Museum continues to lobby for the restoration of the lighthouse .

I never thought I'd be painting a lighthouse canvas with snow-capped mountains in the distance, yet here it is! So do check back in to see my progress in stitching this Alaskan landmark!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Progress on another front

What a crazy week! My Webmaster arrived on Sunday for a visit from Kansas, and we've spent all week updating my website. Scary--it hadn't been updated since January of 2010! And I'm equally awed by how prolific I've been since then!

So, if you have a minute, check out, and see all the canvases I've been blogging about for the past 18 months! There are two new categories: Nutcracker Suite and Clocks. And I think we caught up on the Missions, Penguins, Christmas, Halloween, Nautical, and Lighthouses, too!

Onward and upward to new, exciting things to add!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Mother always told me there would be days like this! I've been working on the Brant Point Sailor's Valentine diligently, finishing the segments with Petite Very Velvet that I'd waited about 10 days to arrive. It was time to starting adding the embellishments.

I sewed on some rope trim I'd found on my shopping excursion three weeks or so ago, and all went well until I needed to end it off. Can we say UNRAVEL, boys and girls? Can we use it in a sentence?

I thought I had a solution to that problem, so I rummaged through the shells I had purchased and started arranging them on the canvas. The four absolutely wonderful starfish I bought, which I had planned to showcase on the Nobuko segments, were too big. Back to square one.

A very wise woman once counseled me, when you run into a glitch in a design, put it away for a few days and wait for the "light bulb moment" when the logical solution dawns on you. Rush a design and it will be garbage. So I'm heeding this advice and putting this canvas on the back burner until I either (A) have a flash of inspiration or (B) go shopping again!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Slow but steady progress

Stitching basketweave isn't tedious--it's actually quite relaxing. But it's also time-consuming, as you can see from my progress photo for today.

I've been stitching exclusively on the Brant Point Sailor's Valentine since picking up the threads I needed at my LNS on Saturday. I've managed to finish two segments on the outside of the octagon and start the last one. I'm itching to finish with the Petite Very Velvet, as then I can start in on the fancy stuff!

But the more I work on this outside area, the better you can see the difference in textures between the PVV segments and those stitched in Nobuko with Vineyard Silk Classic. I'm liking the way this project looks so far, but I'm also anxious to move on to the next steps!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back in the saddle

I'm doing a happy dance here, because my order for Petite Very Velvet for my Brant Point Sailor's Valentine came in and I picked it up yesterday at my LNS. And I've been basketweaving myself into oblivion ever since!

No photos yet, but I promise to remain diligent and have something to show for myself soon. Just didn't want my faithful readers to think I'd fallen off the face of the earth!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!"

So where have I been and what have I been doing? Ensconced at the painting table in my office/studio, cranking out canvases!

First I Sugar-Plum-Fairied myself out painting Nutcracker ballet ornaments. Yesterday I moved on to characters from the Wizard of Oz, and what a trip down Memory Lane this is turning out to be!

I remember the evolution of these designs as clearly as if I'd done them last week, although it was actually 1998. My two sons enjoyed keeping me company through the first showing of the movie I'd rented, but I lost them for the second screening. I sat there with pencil and paper in hand, making notes and sketches for future reference. We lived in Connecticut then, but would soon make the move to Texas, and my personal life was in turmoil. These little people are definitely a bright spot from that chapter, and I'm enjoying getting reacquainted with them.

Dorothy--and Toto, too--will be headed to South Dakota when I've finished painting the series for someone who saw them in the recent issue of Needlepoint Now and wanted to give them a good home. And if this stitcher enjoys working these canvases as much as I did way back then, I'll be Over the Rainbow!