Thursday, April 26, 2012

Batting 500

I've added another stitch to my compendium: the Ashley stitch, seen at top right and lower left in the first photo. I've done the groundwork for it with four plies of DMC floss #776.

This stitch is basically a cashmere stitch with the first and last short stitches eliminated. Every other vertical row is worked at a 90 degree angle to the row next to it. The gaps between "bricks," shown in the close-up photo, are supposed to be filled in with eight individual tent stitches that are either upright, sideways or angled. Hmmm....I'm not sure why the stitch is completed this way, except perhaps to give the impression of a little flower in the gaps.

Getting eight little stitches inside those gaps seems like an awful lot of trouble to me--I'll think about that later, when I've decided what color to use in finishing the stitch. I still have more canvas to cover!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Fenway finale

Those of you who've read the March/April 2012 issue of Needlepoint Now may recognize the canvas in this photo. It's by Cape Cod designer Melinda McAra, who created a commemorative version of the original design which I stitched to celebrate the 100th birthday of Fenway Park in Boston.

Over the weekend, Melinda sent me a photo of the finished piece, which was made into a pillow by Marcia Smith Brown, owner of The Binding Stitch, also on Cape Cod. The navy fabric is a nubby corduroy, with little baseballs appliqued at two corners.

This pillow will be auctioned during a radio telethon at Fenway Park in August to benefit the Jimmy Fund, which provides research and care for pediatric cancer patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I hope it fetches a hefty price for a good cause!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Continuing education, Part 2

With the top and bottom bands finished, it's time for a word about the quodlibet border. As a stitch for surface embellishment, I think it's quite pretty--a great way to perk up the hem on a piece of clothing, for instance, that otherwise is a solid color. A series of this border in pastel colors would also be a great way to decorate an Easter egg. Because it's worked over eight threads, it definitely isn't something to use on a piece where the stitches might get snagged.

In the center section, I've stitched the grid for another stitch that's new to me: the double cross. With one strand of DMC #5 perle cotton #335, the same color trimming the top and bottom bands, I worked cross stitches over four canvas threads square. For a complete repeat of this stitch, a canvas thread count evenly divisible by four is required, so I filled in the extra row at top and bottom with tent stitches. No sense in sweating the small stuff when I'm just practicing! I'll go back later and fill in the tiny crosses within the larger crosses when I've figured out what colors to use.

On to the vertical stripes flanking the center section, where I filled in with basketweave using four plies of DMC floss #946. Remember the surface embellishment on the border of the little fish? I wanted to try the same diamond ray stitch I used there, this time in a vertical orientation. With three plies of DMC floss #917, a color best described as magenta/purple, I worked diamond rays on top of the background. I found it interesting that the magenta/purple actually toned down the vibrancy of the tangerine floss. The diamond ray stitch looks okay here, but I think in the long run, the horizontal orientation of this stitch is more effective.

I'll finish off the stripe on the left and move to one of the outside sections to try out another stitch!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Continuing education

Last weekend, I wrapped up another column for Needlepoint Now and decided I needed a break before jumping into the project for the next one. I'd been scouring my stitch books recently, and came across a few stitches that intrigued me. They were totally different from ones I use a lot for stitching models, but also totally cool!

It occurred to me: why not practice some of these stitches in a more formatted way than the typical stitch notebook? After a lot of counting on graph paper, I came up with a grid within a six-inch square to accommodate three of these stitches. I dumped out a bunch of perle cotton and floss from my stash--wild and crazy colors that I definitely wouldn't be using any time soon to stitch a lighthouse!

I've started stitching on top and bottom borders, using DMC #5 perle cotton #335 (hot pink) in a slanted gobelin stitch over three threads. I added DMC #5 perle cotton #208 in two bands of slanted gobelin stitches over two threads, and filled in the area between them with DMC floss #776. I'd already painted the lighter pink bands to insure coverage, since I used only two plies of floss here. On top of the pink I added my first new stitch--a quodlibet border, stitched with three plies of DMC floss #3340.

I've already added stripes of slanted gobelin stitches over two threads, which divide the center section into three areas for the next new stitches, using DMC #5 perle cotton #210. I'll finish the bottom border, just like the top, before moving inside.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The full effect

Hooray! I finally made it over to my LNS yesterday and picked up two skeins of DMC floss #825. Now the little fish canvas is REALLY finished!

I love the colors in this project, but I dare say I've never met a shade of blue I didn't love. Balancing the different blues and greens was a great learning experience, and I'm happy with the way this canvas turned out.

There are some colors in the rainbow that I'm not really crazy about, and I'm wondering if I should try another project that incorporates a few of these colors. Sometimes it's good to step outside one's "comfort zone"--I may just do that down the road!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Swimming along

The "pool" of blue around it still isn't finished, but my little fish is all done!

I wanted to use various shades of blues and greens in different stitches--but not too many colors or stitches, which would have created a patchwork effect. So I settled on five colors and assigned an area to each.

All the fins were worked in a diagonal mosaic stitch with DMC floss #959, with the canvas turned 90 degrees to stitch the three fins at the bottom. The center section used DMC floss #3839 (periwinkle) and #943 (teal) to create alternating stripes in a slanted gobelin stitch.

The face (do fish actually have faces?) was worked in an encroaching gobelin stitch with DMC floss #519, and Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #005 in a Smyrna cross stitch formed the eyeball.

I am so glad I outlined the fish with the Kreinik metallic braid--now that the inside areas have been stitched, the outlining really makes the fish stand out.

It's a busy week here, with a magazine deadline looming, but I hope to still get over to my LNS for the last little bit of floss to finish off the background!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A fabulous finish

I received an e-mail the other day from Sally, a stitcher in Florida for whom I'd adapted to needlepoint the Ushuaia lighthouse in Argentina. As you can see, Sally has been busy--her ornament is finished!

She has personalized the ornament with the date of her visit to Argentina, aboard the National Geographic Explorer cruise. I love her needle-blended sky and the white cording around the ornament, which emphasizes the snow-capped mountains behind the lighthouse.

Super job, Sally!--and thanks for letting me share the photo with my blog readers!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Murphy's Law

My goal in stitching this little fish canvas was to pull all the threads I needed from my stash--I've dropped a lot of money at my LNS so far this year for various projects. As luck would have it, I ran out of DMC floss #825--the electric blue--just shy of the bottom of the background. Had I painted the background initially, I wouldn't have needed to ply up and would probably have come out even. Another trip to my LNS is in order, but not until next week as I have other priorities right now.

To keep this project rolling, I've started to stitch areas for which I do have threads! I filled in the bubbles with DMC floss #807, the same color in the border. Using three plies of floss, I first turned the canvas 90 degrees and worked a satin stitch, then righted the canvas and worked another satin stitch on top.

I stitched the white around the eye with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032 in tent stitches. The lines dividing the body have been worked in tent stitches with DMC floss #906, the same green that I used to work the diamond ray stitch in the border.

I've pulled all the threads for the body of the fish. so I guess it's time to decide which colors go where and determining the stitches.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter to everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Accentuating the positive

I zipped along with the Nobuko stitch for the background until I got close to the top of the fish itself. Decision time: what threads should I use to outline the fish and the bubbles?

Why outline? A couple of years ago, I stitched an underwater fantasy piece (shown on the right) in collaboration with Judy Harper. I worked the sea horse first, outlining it with orange perle cotton, and then moved on to the angel fish, stitching the various parts of its body in different colors. The little angel fish totally disappeared within the jacquard patterned background. It was only after I outlined the angel fish in a dark green perle cotton that its body became prominent. I certainly didn't want my new fish to do a disappearing act! As my grandmother was fond of saying, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!"

The navy perle cotton I had in my stash was too dark, so I used Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #033 to outline the fish and Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #032 to outline the bubbles. Confident now that the fish wouldn't "go missing," I resumed work on the background. I'll outline the remaining bubbles, and then finish up with the Nobuko stitch.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Embellishing the border

When all the slanted gobelin stitches and basketweave were worked on the border, I added the final touch: a series of diamond ray stitches on top of the basketweave. When worked in four plies of DMC floss #906, these stitches look--to me, anyway--like little water plants.

It was for this stitch that I readjusted the size of the border--diamond rays are worked over four threads, both from top to bottom and from side to side. When I reached the corners, I added two more stitches on either side of the centerray stitch to better fill in the area.

With that much accomplished, I moved to the center, working a Nobuko stitch with five plies of DMC floss #825. Had I painted the center background first, I could easily have used four plies of floss--possibly three plies. At that point, however, I was undecided about the stitch for the background--I was considering adding some metallic thread. I've since nixed that notion, since the metallic would detract from the fish itself. So a solid background it will be!