Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

As 2011 winds down, I wish all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! Thanks for stopping by to follow my explorations in needlepoint--I appreciate your comments and personal messages cheering me on!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mission accomplished

Just in time for a new year, Mission San Gabriel Arcangel is finished!

The strip of grass below the stairs was worked in a slanted gobelin stitch with one ply of Wildflowers "Jade." Using the same thread but with two plies, the grassy area in the foreground was worked in a diagonal horizontal cashmere stitch.

I didn't have quite the right shade of thread that I wanted for the trunks of the palm trees, so I decided to make my own thread! I combined three shades of Burmilana--one ply each of 3504H, 3729T and 3506--and worked the trunks in a vertical slanted gobelin stitch. While I'd normally use two plies of Burmilana for basketweave, three plies make the trunks stand out nicely from the buildings behind them.

The shrubs were worked in different green threads and stitches to make them look more realistic. The shrub on the far left was worked in long stitches using one ply of Impressions "Moss." The darkest green shrubs were stitched in French knots with Impressions #5060, while the middle shrub was worked in more French knots with Sheep's Silk "Moss Green." The shrub on the far right was worked in a satin stitch with Impressions "Moss"--no French knots here, so I wouldn't give my framer fits when trying to place a matte around the border.

The fronds of the palm trees used--believe it or not--two different dyelots of Sheep's Silk "Green Leaves Dark." I first worked the darker shade with one ply in long stitches, then added long stitches and stem stitches with the lighter shade on top to give the fronds some dimension.

I'm happy with the way this project turned out, and hope the graduate of the Mission high school who asked me to work up this design is, too!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All but the foliage

The buildings are finished on the Mission San Gabriel canvas!

When I completed stitching the roof and facade of the building on the left, I popped in the window using DMC floss #3799 for the frame and DMC floss #318 for the panes.

The top of the lamp post was worked in satin and tent stitches with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002V and filled in with DMC floss #745. To make the pole and base look metallic, I used Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #100HL--despite its "high lustre" designation, this thread doesn't have the glitter of other white Kreinik metallics. The base was worked in satin and tent stitches, with the pole worked in stem stitches.

I added a sidewalk in slanted gobelin stitches with DMC floss #644. All that remain to be stitched are the trees, grass and shrubs, which I hope to finish in a few days.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Up on the rooftop

How appropriate--I've finished the roof of the building on the right just in time for Christmas Eve!

With the same white DMC #5 perle cotton I'd used on the bellwall, I filled in the facade of this building with more Nobuko stitches. The window alcove was stitched in basketweave with DMC cotton floss #415.

For the roof, I used a thread new to me: Weeks Dye Works pearl #5 "Molasses." The variation in color is very subtle in this thread, making the slanted gobelin stitches appear weathered and more realistic than if I'd used a solid colored thread.

As you can see, I've started raising the roof on the building to the left. Since this building is set back slightly from the bellwall, I'm stitching the facade in basketweave with DMC floss #415 to make it recede.

It's time now for me to get in high gear in the baking department, but I wanted to take the opportunity to wish all of you the most wonderful of holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bells are ringing

This time of year, it's hard to get as much stitching in as we'd like, but I did manage to finish the bellwall for Mission San Gabriel Arcangel.

Using the same white DMC #5 perle cotton that I had on the top, I worked the base of the bellwall in a Nobuko stitch. I've used this stitch before on other missions, as I think it mimics the undulations of stucco well. The steps were worked in a row of slanted gobelin stitches and a row of tent stitches.

The cross, bells and grille for the door were all stitched with DMC cotton floss #3799--it's not as harsh as black and gives kind of a weathered look. The bells are a combination of satin and tent stitches. The area behind the grille was worked in tent stitches with DMC floss #317.

I'll move on to the wall at the right, as I'm anxious to try a new thread for the roofs that I picked up at my LNS yesterday!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Focusing on the sky

I began work on the San Gabriel Arcangel mission canvas with the sky--not a particularly large area compared to some of my other mission designs, but large enough to add a little visual interest by needle-blending.

Starting at the top of the canvas, with four plies of DMC cotton floss #3755, I worked seven rows deep of basketweave across the sky, staggering the bottom stitches randomly. The next blend of floss--three plies of DMC floss #3755 and one ply of DMC floss #3325--ends at the top of the brown roof on the right and extends across the canvas.
I continued to subtract one ply of DMC floss #3755 and add one ply of DMC floss #3325 until I had reached the top of the brown roof on the left, using one ply of the former and three plies of the latter.

The top of the bellwall has been worked in slanted gobelin stitches with white DMC #5 perle cotton, with the ledges worked in DMC #5 perle cotton #415 in tent stitch. I'll wait to stitch the bells after I've finished the rest of the wall.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A mission to stitch

I frequently receive requests from folks to adapt their favorite lighthouses to needlepoint, but I rarely get an inquiry about a California mission. A couple of months ago, a stitcher contacted me about Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. She had graduated from the high school located on the mission grounds, and to date had been unable to locate a canvas that would help her capture some happy memories. A few false starts and a couple of magazine deadlines later, I'm adding this ninth design to my Missions of California series!

Father Junipero Serra, known as the "Father of California Missions," commissioned two priests to explore the area near the San Gabriel River. They founded the fourth mission in the chain in 1771 in present-day Montebello. The area proved ideal for farming and raising of livestock. In the early 1800s, vineyards were introduced, with grape-growing and wine-making continuing to the present day.

One of the most distinctive features of Mission San Gabriel Arcangel is its bellwall, or campanario, which unlike other missions is located at the back of the church instead of the front. My stitching friend and I agreed that this would be the focal point of the design, highlighting the mission's six bells of varying sizes.

Do come back and check on my progress as I bring this canvas to life!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cecil steps out!

One more dapper gentleman joins the Savile Row series--Cecil is finally finished!

Cecil is the first in the series to sport a bow tie, which I wanted to appear as 3-D as possible. Using Vineyard Silk Classic "Berry," I first satin-stitched each of the three sections of the tie--but in the wrong direction! For the left and center portions, I turned the canvas 90 degrees and kept the canvas in the upright position for the right side. I then went back and satin-stitched each section again so the stitches for the left side and knot are slanted from bottom left to top right, with the right side slanted in the opposite direction. Padding the stitches in this way gives the tie a nice high profile against his pink shirt.

His pocket handkerchief was worked in a diagonal mosaic stitch with DMC floss #3865, a creamy white which blends better with his sweater. His belt buckle was worked in stem stitches with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #001L. At my local fabric store, I found some antique silver buttons for his coat.

I see a trip to the framer's in my future, so Nigel, Liam, Oliver and Cecil can hang out together!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

'Tis the season....

....when I find myself wearing too many hats at one time! DH keeps mentioning decorating the house for the holidays, and I keep giving him a dirty look.

But Cecil is on the home stretch now, thankfully. His trousers have been added, using Trio "Caviar" in alternating rows of slanted gobelin stitch over two canvas threads and tent stitches. His pale pink shirt--yes, pink! I couldn't resist!--was stitched in basketweave with three plies of DMC cotton floss #818, with a vertical row of slanted gobelin stitches over three canvas threads for the placket.

On a recent trip to my LNS, I found the perfect thread for his scarf: Watercolours "Cinnabar." It's a slightly variegated thread , in just the right weight so the scarf stands out against the adjacent sweater and coat. I've worked it in a Nobuko stitch, with looped turkey work for the fringe. The shadow between the drape and longer expanse of the scarf was worked in tent stitches with DMC floss #3685.

Let's see: I still need to stitch the tie, pocket handkerchief, and belt buckle, but I need to find a minute to shop for buttons before working the buckle. Let it never be said that Cecil's wardrobe isn't totally coordinated!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Well coated

Cecil is a lot warmer, now that his coat is finished!

After working all the Scotch stitches with Felicity's Garden "Granite," I added frames of tent stitches with Trio "Burgundy" for the windowpane pattern. I'm happy with the way the coat sets off the sweater.

Next up: some trousers and a shirt!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A sweater for Cecil

It's amazing how much stitching you can accomplish riding in a car for three hours!

On the trip to Boston's airport the other day, I started work on Cecil's sweater, using Sheep's Silk "Ivory." The edging along the V neck was worked in oblong cross stitches over two canvas threads, while the ribbing along the hem was done in a Kalem stitch.

The body of the sweater was stitched in braided knitting alternating with a vertical row of tent stitches. To make sure the "cables" ended uniformly along the ribbing, I turned the canvas 90 degrees to begin each row of braided knitting.

A few more hours of stitching back home finished the sweater, so I treated myself by completing the Scotch stitches in Felicity's Garden "Granite" on the right side of the coat.