Saturday, July 30, 2011

Farewell to Argentina

Les Eclaireurs lighthouse is finished, just in time for Sally to pick her canvas up at her LNS and start in on her version!

I finished the bottom red stripe on the tower with the DMC #5 perle cotton #321 and added the door at bottom right with DMC #498 perle cotton in slanted vertical gobelin stitches. The base was formed with DMC #5 perle cotton #642 in slanted horizontal gobelin stitches.

To provide a hint of movement in a very small space, I worked the water with four plies of DMC floss #334 in a horizontal interlocking gobelin stitch.

On to the base, where I stitched the grassy areas in Impressions #5011 in basketweave. The rocks were worked in a satin stitch with DMC floss #647. Last but not least, I worked the orange lichen in French knots with Silk & Ivory "Tangerine."

I think this may well be one of the prettiest lighthouses I've stitched so far: the snow-capped mountains certainly add to the scene and the combination of thread colors I've used are pleasing. I hope Sally enjoys stitching her souvenir of Ushuaia, Argentina, and I thank her for bringing this lighthouse to my attention!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hitting the slopes

When I finished the white bricks in the middle of the tower, I started in on the snow-capped mountain ranges. This section should appear to be in the far distance, so I stitched it in basketweave with DMC floss white and #318.

I needed different stitches for the upper and lower tree lines, one with a slightly higher profile than the other to add to the illusion of depth. For the upper tree line, I worked diagonal vertical oblong cross stitches using Impressions "Moss." The lower tree line was worked in a Nobuko stitch with Sheep's Silk "Dark Moss."

The rocks at the base of the tree line were added in a satin stitch with DMC floss #646.

I'm on the home stretch now, and hope to show a finished Les Eclaireurs lighthouse over the weekend!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brick by brick

I've finished needle-blending the sky behind the Les Eclaireurs lighthouse. I had begun adding DMC floss #3841 to my formula, combining it with DMC floss #3325. By the time I reached the bottom on the left side, I was using two plies of each shade.

Then I continued brick-laying for the tower using perle cotton. The higher profile of this thread is making the tower stand out nicely from the sky.

There's still a lot of scenery to be worked, so stay tuned!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taking it from the top

I just bet a lot of you are saying right now. "Yup, she's needle-blending again!" With such an expanse of sky behind Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, I really didn't want to miss the opportunity.

I certainly don't subscribe to the "my way or the highway" school of thought when it comes to stitching, and I've seen skies stitched any number of ways--some really good, some not so good. When the canvas area in a design permits it, I choose needle-blending for a number of reasons.

First, it's easy to do. Anyone who can basketweave can needle-blend: it's just a matter of combining different colors when you've stripped and re-assembled your plies of floss. It's also economical, since floss is one of the least expensive threads available.

Needle-blending, I think, produces a more realistic-looking sky--it stays in the background, where it belongs, while providing additional depth to the design. And it lets the main element of the design--in this case the lighthouse--take center stage.

I began stitching this design at the top of the canvas, using four plies of DMC floss #3755, and ending at the top of the gallery surrounding the lantern room. I then introduced DMC floss #3325, switching the combination of plies every six rows deep, using the following formula:

Row 2: DMC floss #3755- 3 plies; DMC floss #3325 - 1 ply
Row 3: DMC floss #3755 - 2 plies; DMC floss #3325 - 2 plies
Row 4: DMC floss #3755 - 1 ply; DMC floss #3325 - 3 plies
Row 5: DMC floss #3325 - four plies

It's been pretty hot and humid around here the last several days, and I began suffering from sticky fingers, so I switched over to work on the lighthouse. DMC #5 perle cotton #310 in tent and satin stitches formed the lantern room and gallery. The top of the tower was worked in slanted gobelin stitches with DMC #5 perle cotton #321.

I wanted the stitch for the rest of the tower to simulate the look of brick, so I used a cashmere variation two threads high and four threads wide. It doesn't matter that my bricks are an even number of threads wide when the design area is an uneven number, since the lighthouse itself is conical.

Next, I'll finish off needle-blending the sky and begin on the white areas.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A lighthouse for Sally

I've been sharing vicariously in the vacations of fellow stitchers for more than 10 years now, beginning with a lady in Michigan who sent me her summer vacation photos of some wonderful lighthouses that she asked me to adapt to needlepoint. My most recent request came from Sally in Florida, who shared photos of a journey of a lifetime!

Last December, Sally traveled to Ushuaia, the capital city of Tierra del Fuego province in Argentina, to board the National Geographic "Explorer" for a 10-day cruise to Antarctica. It was in Ushuaia that she first saw penguins up-close-and-personal and snapped some wonderful photos of a very distinctive lighthouse. Would I adapt it to needlepoint, she asked. After some research, I agreed, and here it is!

Les Eclaireurs lighthouse sits on an islet off Ushuaia, with the Martial mountain range to the north and the Beagle Channel to the south. Its name, appropriately, translates from the French as "the enlighteners." But because Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, the people of Argentina refer to this structure as El Faro Del Fin Del Mundo, or The Lighthouse at the End of the World.

The conical brick tower, 33 feet high and 10 feet wide at the base, was first put into service in December, 1920. Its white flashing beacon is now automated, operated by remote control and powered by solar panels. The islet upon which it sits is uninhabited and the lighthouse itself is not open to the public. There are no windows in the structure, and its only access is by a single door to the right of the tower's base.

The orange splotches nestled among the rocks at its base are actually dried vegetation. Rising behind the lighthouse is the snow-capped mountain range, making this my second lighthouse with snow in its scene. So do come back and cool off as I stitch what probably is my most exotic lighthouse to date!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A garden in bloom

Now that all the flowers have been added, this little Sailor's Valentine is finished!

I worked French knot flowers using four colors of Vineyard Silk Classic: Provence, Captain's Blue, Peppermint and Cherry Tree. I fell in love with these colors working on the ring-bearer pillow in the latest issue of Needlepoint Now, and wanted to incorporate them in another project.

My goal for this Sailor's Valentine was to make it look more feminine and romantic than the nautically-inspired ones I've done, and I think I've succeeded! Now I'm going to try to escape the oppressive heat and humidity by heading for my cool basement studio/office and working on another lighthouse design!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Almost, but not quite

The embellishing process has begun on the little Sailor's Valentine!

I began by working pairs of tiny leaf stitches on each of the outside scallops, using Vineyard Silk Classic "Sage." Then in the corners where the scallops meet and a few places inside, I added Smyrna crosses with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032 for a little bit of sparkle.

The shells I've chosen for this project don't have any natural holes with which to attach them. So once again, I've "netted" them with three criss-crossing passes using white DMC #5 perle cotton.

Every self-respecting nautical garden needs flowers, so I have a little work still to do before I'm finished with this project!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Getting to the good stuff

Both "beds" are made now on this little Sailor's Valentine!

For the inside section around the captain's house, I used DMC floss #225 in basketweave. You can see this area has a lower profile than the scalloped area worked in Petite Very Velvet. This contrast provides some dimension to the piece and makes the scallops look more like a frame.

I've worked French knots around the center scene with Vineyard Silk Classic "Sage" as the first step in planting my nautical garden!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Working from the outside in

Following through on the theme of a nautical garden for this Sailor's Valentine, I chose a shell pink shade of Petite Very Velvet to work the outside of the octagon.

Original Sailor's Valentines created in the 1800s often used silk or velvet to line the octagonal boxes in which shells and seeds were placed. The Petite Very Velvet will provide a nice plush bed for further embellishment.

I'll fill in the blank area next before digging out my shells and planning their placement!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Setting the center scene

Stitching the center scene of a Sailor's Valentine first helps to get me "in the mood," and this one is no exception. And some of the colors I've used here will give you a hint to the flowers that will grow in my nautical garden!

Since this section is only 25 threads wide, most of the stitching was done in basketweave, with a few exceptions. The roof and stoop were worked in slanted gobelin stitches and the bushes at either side of the door are French knots.

I'm almost done with my canvas painting, so I hope to be able to spend more time on this little design as the week progresses!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In the interim

A lot of work has been going on in my little corner of the Cape this week. First, there's the painting: a lot of Nutcracker Suite ornaments have been dancing off the painting table, with lighthouses following in hot pursuit. Then there's the stitching: two projects for future issues of Needlepoint Now. And let's not forget the researching: I've identified five new lighthouses that I'll be adapting to needlepoint in the next couple of months.

I'm not much of a shopper, and even less so during summer months when throngs of people discover that what I call home is a beautiful place to visit! So the Brant Point Sailor's Valentine sits patiently in a corner of my studio, waiting for its starfish. In the meantime, however, I decided to go ahead with another idea I had, and for which I do have all the materials needed. Here's another Sailor's Valentine, a three-inch size, featuring a captain's house in its center scene.

Like my other Sailor's Valentines, this one, too, will feature some shells for surface embellishment. But these shells will be nestled among flowers, to create a garden with a nautical twist around the outside of the valentine. So do come back and watch my progress!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Fourth finale--sort of

I finished Eldred Rock lighthouse, or so I thought, until I took this photo and discovered two missed stitches! But with a houseful of guests and Fourth of July festivities to occupy me, I decided to run with the photo anyway and pop those two stitches in when the dust settles!

For the water behind the lighthouse, I needed a low-profile, horizontal stitch for an area only five threads wide. Fitting the bill was a horizontal interlocking gobelin stitch, for which I used three plies of DMC floss #3755.

The grass was worked with Wildflowers "Jade" in a diagonal mosaic stitch. I used two strands, cutting the lengths as they came off the skein, then reversing the direction of one so streaking of the variegated thread would be minimized.

The rocks had me stumped for a bit. I knew I wanted to use a diagonal vertical cashmere stitch, but the shade of Burmilana I'd planned on using was too brown and the gray Burmilana I had on hand was way too light. Scouring through my stash, I found an unopened skein of gray Medici which, had it been a human, would probably have been old enough to drive. The Medici was almost identical in weight to the Burmilana, so I combined one strand of each to produce just the color I was aiming for. French knots of Sheep's Silk "Camouflage" formed the vegetation growing in the rock crevices. It's the outcropping just right of center missing the two stitches!

I used the same horizontal interlocking gobelin stitch for the water at the base of the rocks, increasing to four plies of floss for a more solid look. Less than ten minutes of work, and this lighthouse will join its scores of buddies!

Happy Birthday, America!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Raising the roof

Moving on to the Eldred Rock lighthouse itself, I reached another "layer" in which to add to the depth of the canvas. Here I used DMC #5 perle cotton, a tad heavier in weight than the Impressions I used in the tree line, so the profile of the lighthouse would stand out from that area.

The black on the lantern room and the red roof were worked in a combination of tent and slanted gobelin stitches. The white areas were worked in basketweave. The beacon itself was stitched with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #221 in a vertical oblong cross stitch over two threads.

Next I'll be working on the far shore line, the water behind the lighthouse, and the grassy knoll upon which it sits. I'm not sure how much stitching I'll get done over the holiday weekend, but I'll give it my best shot!