Monday, December 24, 2012

Just in time for Christmas

My angel has earned her wings!  It took the better part of a cone--the equivalent of five spools--of Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032 to finish filling in the layers of wings with the Nobuko stitch.

To celebrate, I worked the leaves in the garland around her hair in a satin stitch with two different shades of green Impressions.  I won't be stitching the flowers until much later so they don't get in my way.

Moving on to the lion, I stitched his ears and nose with pink Petite Very Velvet. More white Medici was used in basketweave for the center of his ears and in an encroaching gobelin stitch for his muzzle.  I finished off his mouth in tent stitches with DMC floss #310.

Wishing all of my readers much peace in their kingdoms, wherever they may be!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Angel progress: winging it

Time and time again, people have asked me the question: "Where do I begin stitching on a painted canvas?"  Pretty much anywhere you want to, with a few exceptions, is my answer.  And this canvas presents one of those few exceptions.

The general rule of thumb in needlepoint is to stitch white and light-colored threads first, to avoid having pesky darker threads traveling to the front of the canvas and rearing their ugly heads to mar your masterpiece.  This angel has such a large expanse of wing area that I really do need to stitch as much of it as I can before moving on.  I've made good progress working the Nobuko stitch in the wing layers with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032.

 When I was ready for a break, I moved on to the lamb, which also needs to be stitched before I can touch even a smidgen of the angel's dress.  The lamb's head and legs were stitched in basketweave with white Medici from my stash, with gray Medici in tent stitches providing the shading.  Black Petite Very Velvet provided the hooves.

The center portion of the lamb will have to wait for the dress around it to be stitched--very carefully!--since it will be worked in French knots, which I always do after the areas around them are completed.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Angel progress 1

The first step in working this angel was to determine the outline for the stand-up.  The proximity of the angel's left wing to the outside border dictated that the top be more of an arc than an arch. After working out the curve on the computer and printing it out, I slipped the paper under the canvas and traced it using a Fabricmate permanent marker.

Now to stitch the face!  Whenever possible, I like to stitch faces first so I'll have someone pretty peeking out at me while I'm working on the rest of the canvas.  I wanted to tone down the angel's "makeup" a little--I've never used eyeliner in my life.  I used DMC cotton floss #950 for the skin tone and DMC floss #3733 for the shadowing, substituting the latter for the black around the eyes to make it look more like the edge of her eyelids.

 DMC floss #224 and #223 were used for her cheeks and mouth and #898 for her eyes.  I'll add her eyebrows later when I decide which shade of brown to use for her hair.

Next up:  the wings, and there's a lot of stitching to be done.  I opted to simplify these areas by dividing them into layers separated by tent stitches using Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002.  I then started filling in the layers with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032 in a Nobuko stitch, a thread just light enough that the gray painted shading still shows through.   As you can see, I'll be winging it for awhile!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The lighthouse tree

Each year, we put up a tree between our family room and kitchen.  While in the previous two years it's been decked with cylindrical ornaments, this year we're back to lighthouses!

I designed the first lighthouse ornament in 1997 to surprise our youngest son who had a collection of lighthouse models.  Fifteen years later, there are 99 on the tree, representing every state in the U.S. that has a lighthouse, plus representatives from four Canadian provinces, Australia and Argentina.

Hopefully I'll be able to reach 100 U.S. lighthouses in 2013!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A very long-term project

I'll be the first to admit it--I'm a frugal New Englander.  When I first saw this canvas on eBay some 10 years ago or so, I couldn't resist.  We were living in Texas at the time, and the canvas made the trip to the Cape still untouched in my stash.  Looking for something else the other day, I came upon it and decided that its time had arrived--nothing like a long-term project to keep a stitcher out of trouble!

The design is "Peaceable Kingdom" by Joan Thomasson, spotlighting an angel for all seasons.  She stands approximately 15 inches high with an overall width of 11 inches on 18 ct. canvas.  One of the reasons I hadn't worked this canvas yet was because I wasn't sure how to finish it, but I've decided to stitch it as a stand-up.

 The first order of business will be to create an outline for the scene.  I have a few ideas already about the threads and stitches I'd like to use, stash-busting as much as possible.  But with the holidays fast approaching, my time for a trip to my LNS to see first-hand the colors and textures I'd be using is limited.  So I'll work on this canvas a little at a time, using what threads I already have.  No way will I have her finished this year, but next year is another story!  I'll post from time to time on my progress when I'm not decorating mantels and baking cookies.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A double finale

It's nice to know I have a leg up on next year's gift-giving--I've finished the mini-socks for the new baby and her 2-year-old brother!

Presents for the sock on the left were worked in a 5 x 5 Scotch stitch (DMC floss #699) and a framed mosaic stitch (DMC floss #321), trimmed with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002.

Using the same Vineyard Silk Classic "Holiday" that I'd used for the earmuffs, I worked his scarf in a slanted gobelin stitch over four threads and added looped turkey work "fringe" on the tails.

For the presents on the baby's sock, I used Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #5760 in a 5 x 5 Scotch stitch, trimmed with DMC floss #962, and DMC floss #3716 in a diagonal mosaic stitch trimmed with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #031.  The scarf was stitched in braided knitting with Vineyard Silk Classic "Cherry Tree" with more looped turkey work.

The only difference between the original design for both socks is the way I depict the penguins--girl penguins have a pointy beak and "eyelashes."  Changing the colors and stitches to personalize each sock for its recipient makes a world of difference, as you see here!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Heel, toe, one-two-three-four

Moving right along! 

I worked the heel and toe of the little boy's sock in a skip-tent stitch with Vineyard Silk Classic "Holly" and "Holiday."  The penguin's earmuffs were added in tent stitch and French knots with "Holiday."  Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002 in tent stitches formed the name and date.

The heel and toe for the baby girl's sock used the same pink Petite Very Velvet as was used on the cuff.  The name and date were added with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #092.  The girl penguin's earmuffs were worked the same as the boy's, using Vineyard Silk Classic "Cherry Tree."

Only the scarves and presents remain to be stitched--I'm almost there!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Yikes, stripes!

The background of Big Brother's stocking is finished with the addition of candy cane stripes in Vineyard Silk Classic "Holly" and "Holiday."

I worked the background of the cuff with "Holly" in a diagonal mosaic stitch, which is easy to compensate around the letters of the name.

Like the other penguin, this one has the white sections stitched with two strands of Medici.  I added eyes in Smyrna crosses with DMC #5 perle cotton #310.  Using Silk & Ivory "Pumpkin," I worked the beak in an upright gobelin stitch and the flippers in a satin stitch.  Now I have a little penguin face peering at me as I stitch the rest of the mini-sock!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A background for Baby

The checkerboard pattern behind the little girl penguin is finished!  The diagonal rows of Scotch stitch in Vineyard Silk Classic "Bright White" and "Blossom" created the soft, quilted look I was aiming for.

I moved on to the inside white sections of the penguin's body, using two strands of white Medici from my stash in basketweave for the face and tummy and a slanted gobelin stitch under the wings.

With two mini-sock projects underway at the same time, I think I'm actually working a little faster than I normally would on a single canvas.  Time to finish the background on the other sock and make decisions about the toes and heels of each!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Working on Big Brother

Putting aside the baby's mini-sock for the time being, I concentrated on the one for her big brother.  He's a typically active two-year-old, who loves the new fire truck given him by his new sister and enjoys careening it into walls with suitable sound-effects.  So the colors for his mini-sock will be more lively than his sister's.

I first stitched the outside of the penguin with black Petite Very Velvet and brushed away the fuzzies. The inside white of his body will be worked in basketweave with two strands of white Medici left over from my stash.  Actually, all of the threads I'm using for both socks are remnants of previous projects!

 Then I added the framework for the background with Vineyard Silk Classic "Bright White" in stripes of slanted gobelin stitches over three canvas threads.  With this much accomplished, I can start adding the brighter colors for the cuff and the pinstripes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A tale of two socks

A stitching friend of mine recently contacted me about working up some ornaments for her young family members that she could have for next year's gift-giving.  She particularly liked the Penguins on Parade series, so I incorporated a penguin within a mini-sock and added a few presents.  When I finished painting four of these for her, I couldn't help myself--I had to stitch this design, too!  Since I'd offered to give her some suggestions for stitches, I decided to show my progress here--some other readers may be interested to see what stitches can fit in small areas, too.

The intended recipients of these two socks are a brother and sister:  a newborn baby girl and her 2-year-old sibling.  I've already begun stitching the one for the baby, with the intention of making it look like a quilted bootie.  I started at the cuff, working it in basketweave with Petite Very Velvet. 

Before starting in on the background, I stitched the outside of the little penguin with black Petite Very Velvet.  Why the black first?  I've used this thread so often that I know some cards can produce a lot of fuzz as the thread passes through the canvas, and I want that fuzz long gone before adding the lighter threads in the background.

I'm using Vineyard Silk Classic "Bright White" and "Blossom" in a Scotch stitch for the background.  When stitched in diagonal rows and alternating colors for each row, it produces a checkerboard effect that works up quickly and presents a soft, quilted appearance.

I need to set the baby's sock aside for awhile and play catch-up with her brother's stocking!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another finish!

As promised, here's Emily the Angel, which I picked up at my LNS yesterday.  She was finished with a flat back covered in light blue moire, with matching cording for the seam treatment and hanger.  The finisher did a super job of matching the cording to the color of her dress.  It's SO satisfying to see another project completed!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

All dressed and ready to go!

Pete the Penguin is ready for the finisher! 

The date was worked in tent stitch with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #003HL.  Trio "Really Red" from Brown Paper Packages provided the earmuffs and scarf.  The earmuffs incorporated tent stitches with French knots.  The section of scarf around his neck was worked in a Kalem stitch at a 90-degree angle to the tails.  Looped turkey work formed the fringe.

I'm satisfied with the amount of texture I was able to achieve on this small ornament, and I'm pretty confident little Pete will bring a smile to the face of his recipient!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pete takes shape: stash-busting again!

Pete the Penguin now has a body!  Like every other character in my Penguins on Parade series, his outer body has been stitched in basketweave with black Petite Very Velvet.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  you can't be too rich, too thin, or have too much black PVV in your stash!

I decided to switch threads, however, for the white sections.  Sometime prior to 1998, when we moved to Texas, I bought half a hank of white Medici wool from my then-LNS The Village Stitchery in Wilton, Connecticut (which closed nine months after I moved, a coincidence not lost on DH).  Since the original Medici hasn't been made in years and I couldn't use it for a model,. the thread has languished in my stash.  But I always thought it to be the "whitest white" of threads, so decided to use it here. 

Pete's eyes were worked in Smyrna crosses with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #005.  Silk & Ivory "Pumpkin" was used in an upright gobelin stitch for the beak and a satin stitch for the flippers.

Only the red areas remain, which I hope to finish in the next day or two!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A background for Pete

Pete has a background now, worked in a woven stitch with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032.  The woven stitch compensates easily around the numbers for the year, and once you establish a rhythm to your stitching, it works up fairly quickly. 

Interestingly, this stitch also seems to provide a little more twinkle than some other stitches when worked with a metallic thread.  Perhaps the reflective quality of the thread is enhanced because the stitches slant in two different directions?

With a nice frosty background in place, I can begin working on the little penguin himself!

Monday, November 5, 2012

One last gift

For the last few years, I've stitched a dated ornament for each of our sons.  In the appropriate years, I worked up ornaments representing the universities from which they had just graduated.  Another year, I designed mini-socks which reflected their very different personalities.  I have one more to stitch, for the son who's hardest to please.  The year I stitched a Boston ornament from another designer, he thanked me, but mentioned that he'd prefer a design of my own.  So....I decided to rework Pete the Penguin, since the guy needing the ornament brought Pete into our family in the first place and launched the Penguins on Parade series.

This son is the Minimalist, who's decorated his apartment in black and white with sparing splashes of primary colors.  So I've kept the colors for this Pete to a minimum, but that doesn't mean I can't spiff him up with some decorative stitches.  The ornament itself is only a little over three inches in diameter, so all of the stitches will be small.  I'm hoping to give this ornament as much texture as possible, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or treat!

Happy to report we survived Hurricane Sandy unscathed, unlike our unfortunate neighbors in New York and New Jersey.  And how did our little terrier Phoebe weather the storm?  Why, hunkered down on top of her best friend, Molly the beagle, of course!

The little ghosts of "A Chorus Line" wish everyone a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trip project finale

I've finally finished the "English Rose" canvas that I took with me on our recent trip to Texas and Kansas!

The background was stitched in taupe Petite Very Velvet, while the ribbons were worked in DMC cotton floss.  Pink and gold Kreinik #12 tapestry braid provided a bit of twinkle along the edges of the ribbons.

I'll add this to my collection of dining room ornaments, in hopes of eventually getting enough to decorate in a new theme and color scheme!

Monday, October 8, 2012

More finishing!

Here are the rest of the finished projects I picked up Saturday from my LNS:  three ornaments to adorn a tree for the Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary's Holly Berry Bazaar on Nov. 10.  Two friends of mine are in charge of decorating two trees to be auctioned off--these are destined for the tree with a red and gold theme.  I also provided three signal-flag ornaments for the tree with a Cape Cod theme.

Anyone planning to be on-Cape Nov. 10?  Stop by Nauset Middle School in Orleans to jump-start your holiday shopping!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A TADA moment

As luck would have it, I ran one skein short of DMC floss #503 to finish the English Rose canvas I'd taken on our recent trip.  But while we were away, I'd received a message from my LNS that some of my finishing was ready for pick-up.  So off I went this morning to collect my treasures!

Here's the finished Nellie's Imari pillow, a design by Judy Harper that I'd been working on for the last three years.  It's nestled in its new home, in the corner of our living room sofa.  Backed with navy blue velvet and a welted seam treatment in the same fabric, it has a zipper in the back for ease in cleaning. 

I was so excited, I just had to snap a photo right away!  I'll show more of the finishing I collected when I take some photos.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stitching on the go

When I'm taking a trip, I always bring a stitching project along--and our recent junket to Kansas and Texas was no exception.  I was looking for something small that would pack handily in my carry-on bag, and my English Rose canvas fit the bill. It's only 7 x 9 inches, small enough to comfortably hold in my hand. This time I decided to change the colorway a little to coordinate with some other ornaments I'd stitched to decorate our dining room during the holidays.

Was I ever glad to have this project with me!  I read instead of stitching on the plane flight from Boston to Dallas (737s are too cramped).The trip from Dallas to Kansas, however,  turned out to be a six-hour drive each way, and with DH behind the wheel, I managed to get a lot of stitching done when not admiring the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma.  The flight home on a 757 was much more conducive to getting work done.

When mounting the canvas on stretcher bars before our departure, I added a small piece of scrap canvas to the corner of the frame to act as a "parking lot" for needles.  I don't own a magnet--I'd much rather spend the money on threads!  I slipped the canvas and the threads I'd pulled in a clear plastic bag, with my bright teal-colored Fiskars blunt-tipped scissors (purchased for $1.99 years ago just for this purpose) prominently on top.  I added this bag to the quart-sized plastic bag for liquids in a bin going through security and sailed through the screening process.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Go West, young woman

The "young" part may be a bit of a stretch, but I really didn't fall off the face of the earth--I went to Kansas!  For the last week, DH and I have been visiting our sons:  No. 1 in Kansas and No. 2 in Dallas.  A wonderful trip and great visits, but now it's back to work!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tree-topper angel: The finale

Looks like I'll have a tree-topper for an angel tree this year after all--my "back" for Judy Harper's "front" is finished!

There really wasn't that much stitching to do since my last post. I got the DMC floss I needed to finish the skirt, then worked the holly sprig on the left with the Fleur de Paris fine mesh velour. Holly berries were added with French knots of DMC floss #816.

Finally I popped in the date with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002V.

Off she'll go to the finisher this week, with time to spare before she'll be needed for the holidays. I promise to show her in 3-D splendor when she comes home!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Almost, but not quite

No, you're not seeing things--I changed the bottom of the skirt a bit! I decided that a sprig of holly on one side only was too plain, so I painted another in mirror image and popped in the date in the middle.

When I totally exhausted my supply of DMC floss to complete the skirt, I moved on to the hair. Using one strand of Silk & Ivory "Coffee Bean," I worked the main portion in a satin stitch, turning the canvas 90 degrees to angle the stitches for the left side. I then added French knot curls at the nape of her neck.

Her belt was worked in tent stitches and Smyrna crosses with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002V and #014.

The sprig of holly on the right was stitched in basketweave with two shades of green Fleur de Paris fine mesh velour. Discontinued several years ago by the manufacturer, this thread is equivalent to Rainbow Gallery's Petite Very Velvet and provides some dimension to the holly against the floss of the skirt.

Off to my LNS for some floss, and I'll be able to finish this angel!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fenway Park at 100--An update

What happens when a needlepoint designer, designer/stitcher and needlepoint finisher collaborate for charity? Good things!

The radio-telethon held at Fenway Park this past August to support the Jimmy Fund raised more than $3.4 million for patient care and cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The 100th birthday commemorative pillow designed by Cape resident Melinda McAra, finished by Marcia Brown, also from the Cape, and stitched by me brought in $410.99 for the cause! Pretty cool, don't you think?

Monday, September 10, 2012

No more cold shoulder

Working on the back of the December angel tree-topper, I've been raiding my stash for threads. I've lucked out on some of the specialty threads, since I evidently haven't touched them since I stitched the front of the angel two years ago.

Still waiting for me were the burgundy Petite Very Velvet and the Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #080HL for the trim on the angel's shawl. And I had plenty of DMC floss #902 for the rest of the shawl, too.

I resumed stitching the skirt in basketweave--I'll definitely need more DMC floss #3726 to finish it. Then I took a break and worked the angel's halo with the same Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002V that I'd used for the wings. The outside edge and radii were worked in tent stitches with the inside worked in satin stitches.

One thing that's been bothering me as I've worked on the skirt is the trim at the bottom--it's looking a little too plain. Now's the time to make any changes, before I get too far along with the skirt. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pardon my back

Work on the back of the angel tree-topper began with the wings, using Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002V in the Nobuko stitch. So far, so good!

The front of December angel's dress was needle-blended, so I needed to continue as I began. Using four plies of DMC floss, I progressed through four values of one color family: DMC floss #778, 3727, 316 and 3726. This photo was taken when I'd made my way to four full plies of DMC floss #3726.

I don't think I'll have enough of this thread to finish the skirt, so I'll move on to other areas and check thread quantities before making a trip to my LNS for reinforcements.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Already half-way there

I was quite disappointed when the tree-topper angel canvas I'd been working on turned out to be poorly painted. The stitch count for the front didn't match the back, which would have produced a cock-eyed mess for a finisher had I gone ahead with the tree-topper idea. I finished stitching Emily as a one-sided ornament--pretty, but one-sided.

Then it hit me: I already had the front of an angel that I dearly loved, tucked away safely in a drawer for more than two years. It was the December angel, painted by Judy Harper for me as December is my birth month. I stitched it for her Nov/Dec 2010 column in Needlepoint Now, blog-stitching it with her permission in August of that year. She insisted that I keep it, but I hadn't decided how to finish it. Now I know!

I got out my graph paper, carefully counted the stitches from the finished canvas, and then painted the outline on canvas in mirror image. I decided to simplify the flowers on the angel's skirt, adding just a sprig of holly at the bottom. I'll be stitching this back as my next project--just for me, a one-of-a-kind angel that will have much more meaning for me than any canvas I could have purchased.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Drumroll, please....

Amazing!--I actually finished two projects in a week's time. But the most recent finish is a doozie and a long time in the making!

Yesterday I put in the final stitches on the Nellie's Imari canvas designed by Judy Harper. The finish came ten days shy of three years since I began the project. It usually doesn't take me that long to stitch a canvas, but other projects would take precedence and I'd put Nellie aside.

It's stitched entirely in Vineyard Silk Classic and Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002V, and is destined to take pride of place on our living room sofa. I promise to show a photo when it's made into a pillow!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A star-studded finale

In my last post, I mentioned that while Emily the Angel's skirt had been stitched, it seemed a little plain. Some embellishment was needed, but what form would it take?

I considered some French knot flowers on her skirt--but flowers generally have leaves, and I didn't want to add any green to the canvas. So I thought long and hard about what I could add, taking my cue from one of the colors I'd already used.

With the Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #2094HL that I'd used at her neckline and belt, I started randomly stitching stars and individual tent stitches on top of the basketweave background. The top-stitching doesn't obscure the needle-blending but does provide a little more visual interest.

Despite the fact that Emily has just a one-sided personality, instead of being the tree-topper she was originally destined to be, I'm happy with the way she turned out. She certainly was an economical little angel, since all the threads I used came from my stash. A tree-topper angel will have to wait for another day!

Friday, August 17, 2012

At it again!

I finished stitching the background of Emily's skirt--needle-blending again!

If you choose the right color family of floss, the effect of needle-blending is quite subtle. So subtle, in fact, that you won't see very much difference at all between the first few combinations of thread color.

In the photo at left, I'd started with four plies of DMC floss #3753 in basketweave, staggering the bottom stitch every other canvas thread so a line wouldn't be formed across the skirt. I moved on to three plies of DMC floss #3753 and one ply of DMC floss #3752, stitching five canvas threads deep. Continuing to subtract one ply of lighter floss and adding one ply of darker floss, I snapped the photo when I'd finished three plies of DMC floss #3752 and one ply of DMC floss #3753. As you can see, it takes awhile before the skirt starts to darken.

The photo on the right shows the finished skirt background. I stitched four plies of DMC floss #3752 across the canvas, then started cutting in DMC floss #932 in a 3-1, 2-2. and 1-3 ply combination. By the time I reached the bottom of the shirt, I was using four plies of DMC floss #932. I then used this same floss to stitch the fold lines that I'd previously skipped.

Is Emily finished? Not yet! While pretty, her skirt looks a little plain to me--I'll be back with some final touches soon!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A dress for Emily

I've started work on the last section of this angel canvas--Emily's dress. Blue is my favorite color, so despite the fact that I've changed the other colors in her costume, I've retained the blue for her dress.

Beginning with the bodice and sleeve, I worked alternating rows of vertical slanted gobelin and stem stitches using four plies of DMC cotton floss #3753. This stitch combination provides a bit of visual interest to a fairly small area. The shadow of her arm was added with tent stitches using four plies of DMC floss #932.

Moving down to the skirt, I continued with the DMC floss #3753, stitching each panel in basketweave to a level I'd previously determined. I skipped over the shadows of the folds, as I'll add those in when I reach the bottom of the skirt.

Regular blog readers can probably guess where I'm going here with the skirt--the irregular bottom line of the basketweave is a not-so-subtle hint!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

An apron and a hairdo

Returning to Emily the angel, I finished her apron using Vineyard Silk Classic "Peppermint" in a framed mosaic stitch. This is a great little stitch to provide texture in small areas where compensating can be tricky.

In my stash, I found some Silk & Ivory "Chocolate" for her hair. I worked this in a satin stitch with one strand, angling my stitches away from her face. The right side of the hair was stitched with the canvas upright, and the rest was worked with the canvas turned 90 degrees. The loft provided by the Silk & Ivory thread gives the hair a higher profile against the wings.

Wish my hair were as sleek as Emily's--the humidity here on the Cape is starting to make my naturally wavy hair look like a mushroom cloud!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

From sea to shining sea

Today is National Lighthouse Day! To mark the occasion, I'm highlighting lighthouses of the Cape and Islands from my collection.

Top row, from left to right: Brant Point on Nantucket; Race Point, Provincetown; Nobska, Wood's Hole; Nauset, Eastham; and Gay Head (Aquinnah), Martha's Vineyard.

Second row, left to right: Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard; East Chop, Martha's Vineyard; Chatham; and Cape Cod (Highland), Truro.

Three cheers for all of our country's aids to navigation!

Monday, July 30, 2012

A one-sided personality

The verdict is in: Emily is destined to be a one-sided angel!

You may recall I'd noticed a significant discrepancy in the shape of Emily's wings front-to-back when I finished stitching the wings on the front. I overlaid tracing paper on the full front image and transferred the outline, then flipped the tracing paper over and placed it on top of the painted back. Not surprisingly. the outline was way out of whack.

Could I have "fixed" the back, redrawing the outline so that both front and back were in alignment when the finisher seamed them together? Maybe. But the painted outline of the front side was too indecisive to use as a template--I'd need to stitch the entire front first, so I'd have a clear stitch-by-stitch outline to follow.

My time is at a premium right now, as I have a Needlepoint Now column due in a little over two weeks. So, in one of those "Life's too short" moments, I decided to stitch just the front of Emily and let the finisher back her with velveteen. A tree-topper angel will have to wait for another day!

With her face, arm and wings in place, I resumed stitching on her scarf, using Sheep's Silk "Winter Sky" in a diagonal oblong cross stitch over two threads. The left side of the canvas was worked from bottom right to top left, while the right side was stitched from top right to bottom left so the pattern of the variegated thread would be in opposite directions from one side to the other. With Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #2094HL, I added trim to the neckline in tent stitches and a belt in a slanted gobelin stitch.

If you compare this photo to the one in the previous post, you'll see that I'm changing some of the colors in Emily's wardrobe. I'll be blending her dress and apron colors with those of the scarf, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Can this angel be saved?

I began work on Emily, the tree-topper angel, as I usually do with "people" canvases: I stitched the face first, so I'd have something pretty looking back at me as I worked on the rest of the canvas. The skin tones of the face and arm were stitched in backetweave with four plies of DMC floss #3770 and #950 and DMC floss #761 for the cheeks. Brown and pink floss in cross stitches provided the eyes and mouth.

The wings were worked in a Nobuko stitch with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032. I then eyeballed the wings for the backside of the angel and stopped dead in my tracks: no way were they the mirror image of the wings I'd just stitched. To confirm my suspicion, I placed a piece of tracing paper over the stitched wings and outlined the area in pencil, then turned the onion skin over and placed it on top of the wings on the backside. The tracing didn't line up.

I like to stay on my finisher's good side, so I knew that I'd have to make a decision: either scrap the idea of a tree-topper, stitching just the front of the angel "as is" and eventually backing it in velveteen as an ornament, or redrawing the wings on the backside so front and back would ultimately line up. Another thought occurred to me: if the wings were out of whack, there was a good possibility that the rest of the body was, too.

I thought of getting another design to work as the tree-topper, and cruised various shop websites for possibilities. I found a couple--none that I actually fell in love with--and I definitely didn't love the prices!

So I'll go back to poor Emily with my tracing paper and determine just how much work is involved in adjusting her outline front-to-back. There may be a good reason why this canvas doesn't have a signature!