Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Murmuring pines and memories

More progress on Bass Harbor Head lighthouse--it now has trees!

This time around, I used a diagonal oblong cross stitch, an amazingly versatile stitch. I'd used it to form bricks in the lighthouse tower, stitching with the canvas turned 90 degrees. I also divided the tree area into two sections, stitching the tree in the front with one strand of Impressions #5061 and the one peeking behind it with Impressions #5060. A little bit of darker thread in the background goes a long way in adding some depth to the canvas.

I've started on the rock ledge, using four plies of DMC floss #648 in a satin stitch. There are quite a few rocks to go yet, but then I'll be finished!

On a personal note: as I was working on this canvas yesterday, not a minute went by that I didn't think of Judy Harper, who passed away Feb. 28, 2011. What a tremendous loss to the needlepoint world, but she left us with a wealth of information gleaned from a career spanning 40 years. I'm grateful her remains to enlighten and inspire us. Do check it out if you haven't before!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Up on the roof

The tower and outbuildings of the Bass Harbor Head lighthouse are now finished!

The roof and gallery around the lantern room were worked in DMC #5 perle cotton #310 in a combination of satin and tent stitches. The same thread created the railing at the base of the lighthouse. Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #003 in a single Scotch stitch formed the red beacon.

For the roofs of the outbuildings, I used DMC floss #347 in satin and tent stitches. I used all six plies for these areas, to make the weight of the thread more compatible with the perle cotton that had been used in the white areas.

The grass at the tip of the granite ledge was worked in a slanted gobelin stitch, while the area below the railing was worked in a diagonal mosaic stitch. For a softer appearance, I used Sheep's Silk "Green Leaves Dark" for these two areas.

I think I'll tackle the trees next!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sky and water

I've finished needle-blending the sky around the Bass Harbor Head lighthouse. If you recall, I was working seven canvas rows deep in basketweave, randomly staggering the stitches at the bottom, using four plies of DMC floss. Here's the final formula, beginning at the top of the canvas:

Row 1 - DMC floss #3755- four plies
Row 2 - DMC floss #3755 - three plies; DMC floss #3325 - one ply
Row 3 - DMC floss #3755 - two plies; DMC floss #3325 - two plies
Row 4 - DMC floss #3755 - one ply; DMC floss #3325 - three plies
Row 5 - DMC floss #3325 - four plies
Row 6 - DMC floss #3325 - three plies; DMC floss #3841 - one ply
Row 7 - DMC floss #3325 - two plies; DMC floss #3841 - two plies
Row 8 - DMC floss #3325 - one ply; DMC floss #3841 - three plies
Row 9 - DMC floss #3841 - four plies

While I still had all my blue floss-away bags at hand, I stitched the water area as well. I began at the horizon with three plies of DMC floss #334 using a horizontal interlocking gobelin stitch--a great stitch to use in a very small canvas area to give a slight indication of movement. After three rows, I switched to DMC floss #312 to add a little depth to the water. I'd originally worked this area in a satin stitch using only one shade of blue--I think this new treatment is more effective.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The second time around

It's been a busy week: the column for the upcoming Needlepoint Now issue was approved and the next column submitted, plus an order to paint and another trunk show to get ready for. But I've made a little headway on the Bass Harbor Head lighthouse canvas, beginning with the lighthouse itself.

The first time I stitched this, I used DMC cotton floss in Scotch stitches for the tower. Here I've switched to white DMC #5 perle cotton in diagonal oblong cross stitches over two threads, with the canvas turned 90 degrees. Now I still have the look of bricks but in a much more appropriate scale for the size of the building. The perle cotton also provides a higher profile so the tower will stand out better against the sky.

The sky, too, is getting a change: instead of the diagonal mosaic stitch I used originally, I'm needle-blending this time. Starting at the top of the canvas with four plies of DMC floss #3755, I worked basketweave seven threads deep, staggering the bottom stitches. I've started the next row across with three plies of DMC floss #3755 and one ply of DMC floss #3325. I'll be back with another photo when the sky is completed!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

My day started off on a sweet note: a box of chocolate pecan turtles was waiting at my place at the breakfast table! Hope your day is warm and fuzzy, too!

I stitched this one-of-a-kind pillow several years ago for an ANG discussion list Valentine's exchange. Threads included Sheep's Silk and Silk & Ivory in various solid and variegated pastels, accented with Kreinik gold metallic. The canvas was finished framed on the front and backed with ivory silk and corded with moss green.

You could make a pillow like this easily enough by outlining a series of hearts on blank canvas, then raiding your stash to fill in the centers with a number of different stitches.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A lighthouse revisited

Once upon a time, I was a monogamous stitcher: I'd never start a new project until the current one was finished. Those days are long gone! I've found that it helps my sanity to have a small project at hand while I'm working on larger pieces under the radar screen.

My newest small project is a canvas of Bass Harbor Head lighthouse in Maine (the photo here is of my model). A friend of mine used to live close by the lighthouse and has fond memories of it--a watercolor of the lighthouse hanging in her home was painted at the exact angle as my canvas. So I'm stitching it a second time for her, but not the way I stitched it originally! That was back in 1999, when new threads, both natural and synthetic, were making their way into the market. My taste and ability as a stitcher have evolved, too, and are reflected in my choice of stitches as well as threads.

Bass Harbor Head lighthouse, at the southwest corner of Mt. Desert Island, marks the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay. Perched atop a granite bluff 56 feet above the water, the 32-foot-high brick lighthouse has been operational since 1858. Its distinctive red light, automated in 1974, is made possible by a plastic "shroud" over the Fresnel lens, and can be seen for 13 nautical miles. This little gem is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I think it will be fun to see what changes and what remains the same as I rework this design almost 13 years later!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Eye candy

I love to see how other people interpret my designs! Just this week, I received a photo from Lucia in Arizona, who had stitched Mission San Carlos del Carmelo from my Missions of California series.

Lucia did quite a bit of needle-blending on this canvas: mixing different shades of floss for the stucco facade of the mission as well as combining one ply of a darker shade to three plies of blue floss for the sky. Didn't she do a fabulous job?!

This mission canvas is among the selection sent to Old World Designs in Menlo Park, California, which opens a trunk show of ABS Designs today through February 25.

Fellow designer and stitch guide collaborator Sue Dulle is gearing up for St. Patrick's Day by stitching my Leprechaun cylindrical ornament. You can watch her progress at