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!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Checking off the colors

I kept a promise to myself and finished all the white background on the Nellie's Imari canvas--a major milestone!

Moving on to the fourth corner medallion, I finished the last area of navy and then filled it in with the red. I worked the leaves around the stylized flower with the pale peach, then switched to the bottom border and filled in the remaining areas needing that color. I also added the last little bits of gray thread. Four colors down, six still to go!

Thus inspired, I worked the diamond band under the vase. I'll finish outlining the red areas in the bottom border next--I just may see an end in sight for this project!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Emily--coming and going

Not to worry--I haven't given up on the Nellie's Imari canvas. But DH commented the other day that all of my recent progress photos look the same--there are so many color changes in the design that a couple of days' work really doesn't show that much progress. So I've decided to add another canvas to the two I'm already working on.

It was years ago, when we still lived in Texas, that I saw the canvas posted here. It was a virtual fire sale on eBay, and I hated the idea of such a graceful little angel without a home. While in the style of a well-known designer of angels, this canvas has no designer's name whatsoever--the first time I think I've seen an unmarked canvas. I decided to give the angel a name--Emily--for the simple reason I like the name!

Emily is a poster child for what NOT to do with a needlepoint canvas: you never fold it! But the seller evidently didn't want to bother securing a mailing tube for the 11 x 18 inch canvas and, instead, folded it down the middle and stuck it in an envelope. Luckily for Emily and me, the fold--now somewhat discolored from years of being stored away-- is in the center of the canvas and doesn't effect the design area at all. So when I mounted the canvas on stretcher bars, I stretched the living daylights out of it and the buckle in the center pretty much flattened out.

I'll be stitching Emily as a tree-topper--I have close to 30 angels stitched and finished over the years and I think I've finally convinced DH that they need their own tree for the holidays. So stay tuned!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Plodding along

I've now finished the border on the left side of Nellie's Imari. For those of you who thought I'd be done with the whole piece by now, dream on! This is a mighty large canvas!

The next section I'll be working on--the white background on the bottom--is tricky. I have fairly long arms for someone my size, but the canvas is on 20-inch stretcher bars. If I turn the canvas 180 degrees to stitch the area between bottom center and the medallion in the bottom right corner, I can't reach that far. And I can't switch to a scroll frame to finish the piece because the margins aren't that big. Judy Harper stitched everything "in-hand" and could never understand why I bothered with stretcher bars.

So I'll muddle through somehow--I've promised myself to finish all the white background before delving into any more colored thread!

Friday, July 6, 2012

More progress on "Nellie"

Time sure flies when you're having fun!

Since my last post, I started work on another major project, under the radar screen, and have been painting canvases. My studio/office is in the basement, a great place to hide out when the humidity and temps start to rise. I usually stitch at the kitchen table, where the light is good and I can keep my eye on "the girls," our two little pooches. But when the heat rises, stitching with silk/wool blends creates a wicked case of sticky fingers.

So I switched over to work on Nellie's Imari, which uses Vineyard Silk Classic and Kreinik braid--a little easier for summer stitching. I need to stitch a fair amount of white before I can move on to another color, which sometimes means skipping around a bit to finish off a strand of colored thread. I decided to concentrate on one area at a time and have actually now finished the center section--a TADA moment!

I'll move next to the third border panel on the left--the white background is already done, so I can pop colors in and scratch that area off my to-do list.