Saturday, March 31, 2012

Beginning the border

I started work on the border for the little fish using DMC #5 perle cotton #807 in a slanted gobelin stitch over three threads, then repeated the process for the inner border. Between the two raised areas is DMC cotton floss #807, stitched in basketweave using three plies of floss.
I've decreased the number of plies I normally use because I'll be stitching over the basketweave later.

If you look at the borders in the bottom right-hand corner, you'll notice that they're mitered. No big deal, you might think to yourself. But I've seen stitchers I'd consider to be expert who reach a corner, finish off the gobelin stitch, and resume stitching in a separate column. Sometimes those overlapping columns may actually become a design element, but for a simple design like this one, I personally feel mitering is the smoother, more graceful way to round the corner.

I've started the outermost border with DMC #5 perle cotton #825, again in a slanted gobelin stitch but over four threads this time. You'll be seeing this electric blue again, when I finish the border treatment and move inside to surround the fish.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gone fishin'

Last weekend, I needed to paint a cylindrical ornament canvas to fill an order. With 98 different charts to sort through, it took a while to find the right one--and as luck would have it, it was toward the bottom of the stack. Stuck in with the cylindrical charts was a little fish, which I designed several years ago as a gift to a friend. I had never stitched it up as a model, but decided that its time had come. The colors of thread I found in my stash seemed particularly appealing as we await a full-blown spring on the Cape.

The design is six inches square on 18 ct. canvas including the border. I'm not yet sure how I'll have it finished--as an insert for a box lid or pillow or framed to hang on a wall for a little spot of color. After I drew the outline on canvas, I realized that the pattern for the border would require an even number of stitches--that's why the gray lines on the top and right side aren't painted over with blue. The exact colors of the fish have yet to be determined, too, but I promise they won't be timid! I'm planning on using different colors and stitches for the various parts of the body, and perhaps a little metallic thread, too, just to give the little fish some bling.

I'll begin with the border and--slowly but surely--make my way to the center. So stay tuned!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Patrick Penguin and I want to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day! He's off-Cape right now, spending the holiday at Louise's Needlework in Powell, Ohio.

His tiny Aran sweater was worked with white Trio in a combination of slanted gobelin and tent stitches and braided knitting. Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #008 in a satin stitch formed his top hat.

I'll be spending the top 'o the mornin' stitching, but this afternoon I'll cook our traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Taking a deep breath

Another trunk show was shipped out this morning! It's headed to Louise's Needlework in Powell, Ohio (, where it will run from March 17 through April 4.

"On the Pond" (shown here) from the Kid Stuff category, along with its stitch guide, is among the large assortment of canvases included in the show. I think it's a good reminder that spring is just around the corner!

There's a lot of work involved in assembling a trunk show. beginning with painting the canvases themselves. Since I do all of my own painting, I spend a lot of time in my studio--and away from stitching!--hunkered over my painting table. I try to include designs representative of the season, like "On the Pond," as well as perennial favorites across the product line.

Then it's time to assemble the models, and I have stitched representatives of all my designs, either finished or in photo form, so folks can use my threads and stitches as a springboard for working their own version of the design. I find myself going through a lot of zip-lock bags to protect the canvases and models--who would have thought that somebody actually developed them to store food?!

Lastly, inventory time! Every canvas is counted and notated, so the shop personnel can double-check on their end when the show arrives. One of these days, I may actually go to one of my own trunk shows, but in the meantime all my models speak for me. Having just returned from my local UPS shipping center, I'm going to find a comfy spot, take a deep breath, and stitch!

Monday, March 5, 2012

That was then--this is now

I've finished stitching the Bass Harbor Head lighthouse ornament for my friend, and thought it would be fun to do a side-by-side comparison of this version with the model I stitched back in 1999.

One big difference is in the way I stitched the rocks the second time around. I still used DMC floss here, but needle-blended the different strata and stitched over the dividing lines. Starting with the rocks closest to the tower, I used four plies of DMC floss #648 in a satin stitch, then moved down one layer using two plies of DMC floss #648 and two plies of DMC floss #647. By the time I reached the bottom layer, I used four plies of DMC floss #646.

Except for the Kreinik metallic braid used for the beacon, all the threads in the original version were DMC floss. The second time around, I added some silk-wool blends--Impressions and Sheep's Silk--for the trees and grass to give these areas a softer look.

Probably the most noticeable change is in the way I worked the sky: needle-blended for a more realistic appearance and to give the overall canvas more depth. Amazing, isn't it, the little tricks and techniques we pick up in the course of stitching over 13 years?