Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Peace on Earth, Good Will to Everyone

Our "chicks" have flown home to the nest to be with us for the holidays, and I've been doing a fairly respectable imitation of Betty Crocker.  Not much in the way of stitching is going on, but my mind is still whirling as I stir cookie batter.

My Christmas card to you all is my favorite design of the season--"Joy to the World," first shown in the November 2001 issue of Needle Pointers.  It was inspired by a vignette my father had created for our mantel one Christmas when I was a child.

May you all safely celebrate the holidays with friends and family!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Crossing another finish line

One last finish for 2013!  I picked up the completed baby block yesterday at my LNS.  The little ornament is a gift for a friend's new grandson.

The cube measures 2-1/2 inches on 18-count canvas.  Stitched in DMC cotton floss and Kreinik metallics, it's personalized with the baby's initials on top and the year on the base.

I'm pleased with my first venture into designing a 3-D piece--hope the new parents like it!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An angelic season

Over the course of many years, I've stitched a lot of angel canvases--28 to date--but have never had an opportunity to display them.  This year is different! 

DH and I scoured the stores for a little tree to put in a corner of our living room, and here is the result--the Angel Tree.  Topping the tree is the December angel designed by Judy Harper for me a couple of years ago. I blog-stitched Emily the angel (bottom right) some time ago.  The remaining angels were designed by Joan Thomasson.

There are angels on the back of the tree as well, which can be seen through the window, but I ran out of tree before I ran out of angels!  So the remainder spilled out onto the mantel.  Believe it or not, I still have unstitched angel canvases in my stash!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A wild and hairy guy

Santa has a beard--a lot of beard!  This section took quite a bit of time to stitch, but I'm happy with the result.

The beard was worked with DMC Medici wool, the same thread as Santa's hair and eyebrows, using two strands of white and gray in a long-short/split stitch.  I actually stitched the gray areas first so I'd know where to fill in with the white.  The only tricky places were around the Christmas tree, where upright Gobelin stitches over one or two threads were all that would fit.

His cheeks look rosier now that he has his beard in place!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Starting a sixth year

Yesterday's 5th blog birthday totally slipped by me.  I could have sworn it was Nov. 30 but when I checked my own archives, realized I was off a day.  My, how time flies when you're having fun!

So Pierre the French chef penguin is here with a birthday cake to celebrate.  My thanks to everyone for stopping by, lurking or leaving comments!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hemming, not hawing, for Thanksgiving

At this point, you may well be thinking, "Is this crazy lady still French knotting?"  Yup--and a sea of French knots is now tickling the tummy of Mr. Penguin!

With the hem of Santa's robe done, so is my stash of Vineyard Silk Classic "Bright White" for the trim, with one sleeve still to go.  A trip to my LNS is in the near future, but until then, I'll need to move on to another area.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  And a Happy Thanksgivukkah to all my Jewish friends!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

In the nick of time

Another deadline met!  The finished Baby block went to my LNS yesterday afternoon, right after having its picture taken.

The threads, all from my stash, included DMC cotton floss Blanc, #666 and #704, with letters worked in Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #003 and #015.  The background for the letters was worked in a diagonal mosaic stitch, framed in slanted Gobelin and Scotch stitches.

The little recipient was actually born shortly after I last posted, so the top block was finished with HIS initials!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Necessity is the mother of invention

A time out from the Santa canvas--I need a baby gift!  A dear friend's daughter is expecting her first child, and I've been mulling over just what to stitch for some time now.  I've made baby gifts before--a "First Noel" mini-sock,  "Rainbow Juggling Clown" and  "Humpty Dumpty" stand-ups, and most recently a Penguin mini-sock for the expected baby's cousin.

I really wasn't excited by the idea of stitching something a second time. I wanted a new design that would be a quick stitch but hold my interest--and here it is!  A 2-1/2 inch block that will be finished as a 3-D ornament, it's being stitched in contemporary shades of Christmas red and green because no one knows--parents included--what the gender of the baby is.

The center of the top square has been deliberately left blank--depending on when the child arrives, it will either include the first letter of the family's last name or the baby's initials.  I've set a deadline of this Saturday to get the stitched piece to my LNS in time for Christmas finishing.  The baby was due last Friday, so the race is on to see if the new mother or I deliver a finished product first!

Monday, November 18, 2013

More trimming

Still in French knot mode!  For the trim on the teddy bear's sweater, I chose Trio "Natural."  It contrasts well with Santa's hair adjacent to it.

For the trim on the first sleeve, I used more Vineyard Silk Classic "Bright White" just like the trim on Santa's hat.  The top right side of the canvas is now completed!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Raising some eyebrows

With all the relatively "flat" stitching done on the Santa canvas, it was time to move back up to his head.  First off, the wisps of hair peeking out from under his hat needed to be reinserted.  I'd stitched over them while working the face, but I used the photo of the original painted canvas to determine the correct placement.

The eyebrows were next, worked in long-short/split stitches with two strands of white "vintage" DMC Medici wool.  Santa's hair was stitched the same way.

There are many different "whites" produced by thread manufacturers--some are creamy, some have a gray cast, and others are pretty bright.  A white thread stitched by itself may appear bright, but take on a different look when combined with other colors--Felicity's Garden "Snow," for example, really isn't that white when used next to gray and black thread as it was for Mr. Penguin in my previous post.  To distinguish the trim on Santa's hat from his hair, I changed both thread and stitch, using Vineyard Silk Classic "Bright White" in French knots.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

One plump penguin

Mr. Penguin is finished!  While the beak was worked in a few tent and slanted Gobelin stitches, the rest of his body was formed with encroaching Gobelin stitches--a lot of them.  Three shades of Felicity's Garden, a 50/50 silk/wool blend, were used--Cast-Iron Black, Baby Squirrel and Snow.

His eye was formed with tent stitches using Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #005 and #032.

Two strands of white Burmilana created the stripes on his scarf.  I used two strands of Impressions #7030 to fill in between the stripes in a satin stitch to provide a higher profile against the red Petite Very Velvet background.  One strand of Impressions stitched on top of the background supplied the fringe.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Details, details

With the last of the stars and twinkles completed on the left side of Santa's robe, I decided it was time to give him a belt.  This was worked in a diagonal oblong cross stitch using Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002.  Nice and sparkly!

Then it was on to the trunk of the Christmas tree, where no one single thread in my stash seemed to be the right color.  Time to needle-blend!  I picked two Burmilana threads, one solid and one tweed, and combined a single strand of each in a packed stem stitch worked diagonally with the canvas turned 90 degrees.

Now it's really getting interesting--I made my way down to the penguin!  His hat was worked in a diagonal mosaic stitch with one strand of Trio "Shamrock"--the same shade of green as his gloves but with a different texture.  The band on the hat was added in basketweave with Petite Very Velvet V604 and the top was filled in with DMC cotton floss in a satin stitch.  Mr. Penguin's body is going to take a while to stitch, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tassels, gifts and gloves

More Santa progress!  The tassels were worked in Vineyard Silk Classic and Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002.  The cords were formed with stem stitches using "Gothic Grape," and the knobs were a combination of cross, Scotch and satin stitches using "Cherry Tree" and "Ceramic."  The tassels themselves were stitched in encroaching Gobelin with "Lavender," "Deep Wisteria" and "Gothic Grape."

Since Vineyard Silk Classic creates a nice profile against the Petite Very Velvet background, I used more of it on the gifts to the left of the tassels.  The bottom box was worked in stem stitches with "Ceramic," the middle box in stem and slanted Gobelin stitches with "Deep Wisteria," and the top box in basketweave with "Cherry Tree."  I stitched the center ribbon in slanted Gobelin stitches with the Kreinik metallic but will wait until later to add the bow.

Still more Vineyard Silk Classic was used for the gloves with "Cactus" and "Black Forest" for the shading.  I debated over the stitch for the gloves, finally deciding to use basketweave since the areas around them would be worked in decorative stitches.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Now where was I?

Poor Santa took a back seat for a while as I stitched another piece to make a deadline, but he's back on track now!

Progress to date includes a finished Nobuko background and all the red Petite Very Velvet on the robe completed.  The stars and "twinkles" are done on the right side of the robe as well.  Down the center of the robe, I added "buttons" of Smyrna crosses using the Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002.

For a change in color, I think I'll work on the tassels next!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Q:  Why are the "Dreamgirls" singing today?

A:  Because the Red Sox won the World Series last night!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Celestial navigation with a twist

For almost a week now, I've been working the red background of Santa's robe, steering around, not by, the stars!  One of these days, I'll figure out exactly how much Petite Very Velvet I need for a project--either I wind up short or over-buy.  This time I think I got it right.

 Three cards were available at my LNS, and by the time I crossed over the center line of the robe, working right to left, I still had a fair amount of thread on the second card.  Here's where I ended when the second card was finished.  After stitching the Nobuko background down to the hem on the left side of the canvas, I'm ready to start that third card of PVV!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Seeing red

Santa now has two sleeves, worked in Petite Very Velvet V631 and Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002 and #102 for the stars.  With the smidgen of PVV left, I stitched the section of robe above his belt.  Only six inches of PVV left--time to hit my LNS!

In preparation for the trip, I worked the Nobuko background down to the hem of the robe on the right side.  After stocking up on PVV, I started in on that side, working the red to the right of the tassel down to the hem.  I moved up to the area below Santa's left glove and will finish this side of the robe before adding more stars.  It's a darned good thing I like the color red!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

One arm full of presents

There's a lot of Santa's robe in this design, and I wanted to keep up with stitching it.  After adding a couple more inches to the Nobuko background, I worked the same red Petite Very Velvet and two Kreinik metallic braids to finish Santa's left sleeve.

With the exception of the trim on the teddy bear's sweater, which will be done later, all the presents in this arm are finished.  The little bear received a sweater worked in satin stitch with Trio "Shamrock" and "Really Red."  The snowman now has a top hat worked in satin stitch with black Silk & Ivory and a scarf worked in satin/Scotch stitches using navy Burmilana and some "vintage" DMC Medici wool.

The wrapped presents were all stitched with DMC cotton floss and Kreinik braid using diagonal mosaic, framed mosaic, slanted gobelin and tent stitches.  On the purple package, I used Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #013 and #021 in overlapping oblong cross stitches to work the stars.  A colorful assortment of presents, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A star-spangled hat

Happy to report Santa's second cheek stitched up pretty well, after needle-blending it with two values of pink DMC floss.  In needle-blending, you need to remember that two pieces, stitched with the same combination of plies, will never look the same.  When you combine two plies each of two different values, your chances are 50-50 as to which value will rise to the top as the floss plays through the needle.  I finished stitching Santa's nose and mouth, then decided to work on his hat.

Funny, the things we inherit from our parents!  I have my father to thank for whatever artistic ability I may have.  From my mother, I inherited a dislike for the colors red and yellow mixed together, which is basically the way the stars on this canvas are painted.  Not a problem!  I outlined each star with tent stitches and worked each "speckle" in cross stitches with Kreinik #12 tapestry braiid #002, then filled in the center of the stars with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #102.  The result:  super-twinkle!

The fancy collar on Santa's robe that peeks out on each side of his shoulders was worked in a diagonal mosaic stitch with Vineyard Silk Classic "Berry."  I outlined this area with the #002 braid and filled the centers with #102 braid using either a Leviathan variation or Smyrna crosses.

The teddy bear's body was stitched in basketweave with Burmilana, with the muzzle and sole of his foot stitched with Petite Very Velvet.  Black Burmilana was used for his mouth and the pad on his foot, while Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #005 worked up in Smyrna crosses provided the eyes.  I used the same black metallic for the snowman's face, after stitching his body in basketweave with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #5760.  Orange DMC floss in a satin stitch formed his nose.  So far, so good!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Needle-blending: not just for skies

I started work on Santa's face by stitching the flesh tone in basketweave with DMC floss #950 and the shading around the eyes and nose with DMC floss #3773.  To soften the look of his blue eyes, stitched with DMC floss #931, I used DMC floss #3799 instead of black.

When I'm noodling over how to stitch one area, I often move to another section that's a no-brainer.  So I stitched the red of his hat with Petite Very Velvet #V631, with shadows provided by DMC floss #815.

With that accomplished, I moved back to his cheeks, which are painted differently from most I've seen--not a solid color, but rather shaded from dark on the outside to a light sheen in the center.  To replicate this look, I decided to needle-blend them using DMC floss #818 and #776.  Starting with four plies of DMC floss #818, I worked the center area in basketweave with all the outside stitches staggered.  Then with four plies of DMC floss #776, I filled in the darkest areas, again staggering the stitches closest to the center every other canvas thread.  The last step was to fill in the remaining stitches with two plies of each color floss.  Satisfied with the effect, I can now stitch the second cheek!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Chipping away at the background

I'm taking a slightly different approach to stitching the Amanda Lawford Santa canvas.  There was so much background stitching for the Toyland Rocking Horse canvas, I got a little bogged down at times.  So while there isn't that much background on this canvas, I decided nevertheless to work as much of it as I could first before getting into the really interesting areas.

My choice of thread and stitch for the background was predicated on the design itself.  I wanted a neutral color that would make the colors pop but not make all the white in Santa's hat and beard disappear.  Texture, too, was a factor:  I'll be using a variety of threads on this canvas and wanted a background thread that wouldn't be used elsewhere.  The answer:  DMC #5 perle cotton Ecru.  I'll need to buy a fair amount of thread for the rest of the canvas, and perle cotton offers the added benefit of being economical.

And yes, I'm using the Nobuko stitch again for the background!  I wanted a little texture to contrast with the central design but not detract from it.  The Nobuko stitch is non-directional, compensates easily, and--for me, anyway--works up quickly.  It also won't be used anywhere else in the central design.

Now that I'm a little over half-done with the background, I can treat myself by working on Santa's face!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A new project!

Now that the Toyland Rocking Horse canvas is finished, it's time to start something new.  This chubby-cheeked Santa designed by Amanda Lawford has been waiting patiently in the wings, and he's finally getting a place in the spotlight!

Like all of Amanda Lawford's canvases, this 15-inch Santa is exquisitely stitch-painted--a big plus.  The design incorporates a lot of bright, festive colors so the stitcher can move around the canvas and not get bogged down working with just a few threads.  And front and center in the design is a penguin--a popular figure at our house year-round.

I've started work on the canvas by drawing an outline around the Santa for the background.  After tracing an oval onto onion-skin paper, I darkened the line with a black Sharpy.  I slipped the onion-skin paper under the canvas, lining up the black outline with the canvas threads themselves, and carefully drew the border for the background onto the canvas with a gray FabricMate permanent marker.  Now I'm ready to start stitching!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The tail end of a long-term project

Another finish for 2013--the "Toyland Rocking Horse" canvas is completed!

My favorite part of the design is the ballerina doll, and I'd promised myself to save it for last.  So after working the bodice of her dress in diagonal oblong cross stitches with white DMC floss, I moved up to work the tail of the rocking horse.  Like the mane, the tail was worked in long/short split stitches with two strands of white DMC Medici wool.  A single strand of tan Burmilana was added in random long stitches for shading.

The bow was worked in encroaching gobelin stitches with Vineyard Silk Classic "Deep Wisteria" and "Gothic Grape."  I then moved back to the doll, completing the skirt with more diagonal oblong cross stitches.

Finally--time to take the canvas off the stretcher bars to finish the background at top and bottom with Vineyard Silk Classic "Tea" in the Nobuko stitch.  This was such a fun canvas to stitch, albeit a rather large project measuring 17 by 19 inches.  It took about five months, on and off, to finish--slowly but surely, one section at a time.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Coming home to Mama

Yesterday was a banner day at my house--I picked up my "Peaceable Kingdom" stand-up at my LNS!  I started stitching the canvas pictured at left early last December, not exactly as originally designed but rather as I saw it in my mind's eye.  I wanted to have a glimpse of a "kingdom" behind the angel, so I added a needle-blended sky, some hills and a field with tall grass for the lion to recline.

The stand-up was finished with blue velveteen backing and cording which perfectly blends with the sky.  It's weighted so the angel stands firmly despite the fact the piece is about 20 inches tall.

She's been consigned to the closet for now, wrapped carefully in plastic, but I look forward to taking her out in a couple of months to show off during the holidays!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Off her rocker and then some

Back to work on the Toyland Rocking Horse canvas!  I finally finished what seemed like an endless stretch of rocker, working it in an encroaching gobelin stitch with Burmilana #3506.  And all the background of Vineyard Silk Classic "Tea" is completed at the bottom of the canvas--all I can stitch, that is, until I remove the canvas from the stretcher bars to finish the half-inch remaining.

Then I started filling in some of the remaining areas:  mostly French knots in DMC floss for the berries nestled in the holly and the pompom on the hat of the Jack-in-the-Box, as well as a few missed stitches I'd identified while working on the rocker.

I'm working now on the ballerina doll, who has a hairdo of satin stitches using DMC Medici wool and a crown of satin stitches with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #092.  DMC floss #776 in satin stitches provided the cuffs of her sleeves and waist sash.  I outlined the edges of her petticoat with the same floss, then filled the area in with white floss to accentuate the ruffles.  Her bodice, begun with a diagonal oblong cross stitch with white floss on the right sleeve, needs to be finished next.  I'm getting close to a finish!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Colleen--the finale

Little Colleen is ready for the finisher!

To keep her dress from looking too sombre, I broke up the dark green expanse with a framed Scotch stitch using DMC floss #500 and 504.  The shamrock she's holding was satin-stitched with DMC floss #700.

Her market basket was worked in a woven stitch with DMC #5 perle cotton #434. I added her curls with French knots using the dark brown Medici wool.  Then I popped in the date at the bottom of her dress with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002, so my friend will remember her summer trip to Ireland--and me--this Christmas!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

More on Colleen

Colleen is moving along well with the addition of an apron and a shawl.

The apron was worked in white DMC #5 perle cotton and trimmed with the same Fleur de Paris fine mesh velour that I used on her cap.  The inside is a composite of slanted gobelin stitches over three threads alternating with stem stitches.  The outside is slanted gobelin stitches over three threads as well.

Two strands of Burmilana #3652--a heathery-looking thread--were used in a diagonal oblong cross stitch for the shawl.  Two cashmere stitches and one Scotch stitch formed the knot and tails.

I'm hoping to finish this canvas by the end of the week!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Looking back

Yesterday I taught a class at a meeting of the Cape Cod chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild on how to stitch skies using the technique of needle-blending.  I had the most wonderful time, working with a group of very talented stitchers eager to try something new to them.  The experience led me to think back on my 16 years of stitching lighthouses, and the various ways I've handled the sky behind them over the years.  To the left is my first model of Cape Cod lighthouse in Truro, Massachusetts.  I had a lot of blue to stitch and thought, at the time, "Better use a pattern stitch to fill in all that blue."  Try again!
In 2002, I started adapting some of my lighthouse designs for use as inserts in Sudberry House bookends.  Pictured right is Camden Island lighthouse in Maine.  I started layering the skies, using gradual shading of DMC floss in a random pattern of basketweave.  Notice that I didn't "cut in" the values of blue--there's a definite line showing between the layers.

That same year, I tried something different for a Sudberry House pencil box insert of Portland Head lighthouse in Maine.  I was still basketweaving the sky with gradual values of DMC blue floss, but VERY randomly to incorporate clouds in the sky.  Yes, it looked realistic--my youngest son tried to convince me I should stitch all my skies that way!--but it was virtually impossible to duplicate from one lighthouse to the next.

Ten years later, with the ins and outs of the needle-blending technique
under my belt, I stitched East Chop lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard,
Massachusetts, with a foggy sky. (Photo right.) It was one of the lighthouse canvases
members of the Cape Cod chapter worked on yesterday.  Is it realistic?
Absolutely!  I copied the details line by line from a photo my youngest son
had taken for me when he visited the island on a foggy day.  Can I duplicate
the look?  Definitely--I've done so since with other lighthouses.  And by
using the same "foggy sky" recipe with the canvas turned upside down, I've created "gloomy" skies, too.

You may be saying to yourself right now, "All these skies were stitched in basketweave and that's just boring!"  Well, not boring to me.  I've seen simple skies and extremely complicated skies filled with patterned stitches that made me want to cringe.  I've always held that the background should stay IN the background without being boring.  You have to admit that a simple sky with the twist provided by needle-blending keeps the subject of the canvas--the lighthouse itself--in center stage.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Taking it from the top

When I stitch a cylindrical ornament canvas, I like to work the face as soon as possible so someone's smiling back at me as I finish the rest of the project.  I first worked the lacy trim of Colleen's cap in tent stitches and the collar of her dress in slanted gobelin stitches with DMC #5 perle cotton B5200.  On to the face!

The flesh tone used here is DMC cotton floss #950--I usually use #948 for females but needed a darker value to contrast with the white of the hat and apron.  The nose was stitched with DMC floss #3774 and the mouth and cheeks were worked with DMC floss #223 and 224.  Her gray-green eyes were stitched with DMC floss #926.

The top of her cap was worked in framed mosaic stitches with the white perle cotton and trimmed with some "vintage" Fleur de Paris fine mesh velour from my stash.  I raided the stash for the hair as well, using two strands of DMC Medici wool.  I'll finish the bottom of the hair when her shawl is completed.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stitching a wee gift

It's already September, and I haven't stitched anything yet to give as gifts this coming holiday season.  I've been focused exclusively on the Toyland Rocking Horse canvas, and it's slow going.  So to take a little break, I decided to switch gears and work on somethiing  that's quick to stitch for a change!

This cylindrical ornament, the Irish Colleen from my International series, is destined for a friend who visited Ireland on a two-week tour this summer.  Last Christmas, I gave her the little Leprechaun that I'd stitched for Judy Harper's last Possibilities column in the March/April 2011 issue of Needlepoint Now.  With any luck, the leprechaun will have a girlfriend this Christmas!

I've made a few subtle changes to the design for my original model and will be using different threads and stitches in several areas.  So stay tuned--I'm hoping this project will work up faster than some of the other projects I've worked on this year!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Decking the horse with holly

Where has August gone?  There's been too much painting and not enough stitching this month for my taste, but I haven't given up on my Toyland Rocking Horse canvas!

I decided to concentrate on the garlands of holly decorating the horse and the bottom of the rocker.  The holly combined two shades of green Burmilana:  two strands of the darker green in tent stitch for the veins and two strands of the lighter shade in satin stitch for the leaves.

Before working the holly on the rocker, I needed to finish the two packages between the duck and the toy soldier.  The silver package was worked in a diagonal mosaic stitch with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #001.  The purple package received a gold bow in satin and tent stitches using Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002.

Next up:  stitching the rest of the rocker itself between the gold decorative trim.  Encroaching gobelin is a slow stitch, but I shall persevere!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A satisfying moment

Stitching has been slow lately, with a lot of painting to do and a column to get ready.  I finished the gold line at the bottom of the rocker with Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002 and filled in below it with the Burmilana in tent stitch.  I then resumed work on the background with Vineyard Silk Classic "Tea."

Am I ever glad I chose the Nobuko stitch for the background!  I could probably work this stitch in my sleep and find compensating along the curves to be a breeze.  Nevertheless, when you've been working down two sides of a canvas and finally reach the bottom, there's that moment of truth:  will the sides meet in the pattern evenly?  The answer is YES!

I just used up the sixth skein of Vineyard Silk Classic and still have two more skeins waiting in the wings, so no problems there.  It's amazing how much mileage you can get with this thread--like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going and going!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Now, where was I?

It's been a while since the Toyland Rocking Horse canvas has appeared here--it's been waiting on the back burner for other more immediate projects to be finished.  This is what it looked like when I resumed stitching.

As you can see, I've made an effort to catch up with the background after the Vineyard Silk Classic "Tea" arrived to work it in the Nobuko stitch.  And there's quite a bit of background, indeed!--the design area is 17 inches high and 19 inches wide.

The rocker also takes up a fair amount of space, so I've been alternating my stitching between the background and outlining the bottom of the rocker with Burmilana #3506 in basketweave.  I had to pick up some Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #002 for the gold highlights on the rocker.  Some of the gold line along the bottom just isn't visible anymore--it's possible that it's worn off, since this canvas is 20 years old.  I want to stitch the gold line and the areas outside it, so filling in the encroaching gobelin stitch inside the gold lines is easier to do.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Highland Lighthouse, new and improved

Sometimes when you're on a stitching roll, you work straight through until the piece is done.  Such was the case for the Highland lighthouse canvas, which is now already to go for the class in September!

DMC #5 perle cotton #B5200, 310 and 415 provided the tower, with a smidgen of Kreinik #12 tapestry braid #221 for the beacon.  The fence was worked in DMC #5 perle cotton #318.

The outbuildings were stitched in DMC cotton floss:  #349 in a slanted gobelin stitch for the roof, Blanc for the siding, #415 for the shadowing and #414 for the windows.

I didn't have enough grassy green variegated thread in my stash, so I decided to make some, using one strand each of two green Burmilana shades worked in a diagonal mosaic stitch.  Dark green Impressions in French knots formed the little bush in front of the fence. 

There's only one more non-blog stitching project to complete before I can get back to my rocking horse!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Two skies, side by side

I finished stitching the sky behind Highland lighthouse (left) using the needle-blending technique.  The same four values of blue--DMC floss #3755, 3325, 3841 and 775--that I used for the Nobska lighthouse sky (right) are at work for Highland.  The spacing of the needle-blends is also the same:  12 rows down from the top, followed by eight rows of consecutive blends down to the horizon.  You'd think the two skies would be identical, but they're not.  Why?

When you combine three plies of one value and one ply of another, and let them play out as you basketweave, one of those values will predominate over the other.  This "luck of the draw" produces a slightly tweedy effect, which will change every time you stitch.  The only constant you'll see is when you're stitching with a full four plies of any value. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Another lighthouse "remake"

The second lighthouse that needs to be updated is Cape Cod lighthouse in Truro, Massachusetts, almost at the tip of Cape Cod.  The first of its kind on the Cape, it was also the seventh lighthouse to be built in the country.  Its nickname, Highland Light, is derived from the high ground upon which it was situated.

Truro was founded as "Dangerfield" in 1700 because of the treacherous waters along its coast.  To safeguard mariners, George Washington signed a bill in 1796 approving $5,000 to build a 45-foot wooden, octagonal tower set 500 feet back from the bluffs.  Lit in 1798 and rebuilt in 1831, the structure suffered from deterioration due to wood rot.

In 1857, a new 66-foot tower was completed and fitted with a new first-order Fresnel lens that produced a flashing white light every five seconds.  Three outbuildings were also constructed for the lighthouse keeper and his two assistants.  The lighthouse was automated in 1987.

Like so many other lighthouses, which have fallen prey to erosion, Highland Light was in peril of falling into the Atlantic Ocean.  The clearance from the cliff of 510 feet measured in 1806 had by 1989 dwindled to 128 feet.  After raising $1.5 million, the 430-ton tower was moved in 1996 to a safer distance of 453 feet from the cliff using I-beams greased with Ivory soap.

I'll be needle-blending the sky behind Highland Light, just as I did for Nobska lighthouse. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

One down, one to go

The "new and improved" Nobska lighthouse is finished, with the addition of the keepers' houses and the grass.

Roof shingles were worked in tent, slanted gobelin and satin stitches with DMC floss #817 and #347 for the shadow.  The windows were outlined with white DMC floss and filled in with DMC floss #414 in Scotch or cashmere stitches.

To get just the right shade for the cedar shingles on the sides of the buildings, one of the ANG Cape Cod chapter members, who lives near the lighthouse, made a "drive-by" to check it out.  She reported back that a combination of two plies each of DMC floss #627 and #3782 was the closest match, so that's what you see here!

Another blend, this time of two Burmilana greens, created the grass, using a diagonal mosaic stitch.  It looks like the groundskeeper did a very neat job of mowing, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Building the lighthouse

The Nobska lighthouse is stitched now , using DMC #5 perle cotton Blanc for the tower and #310 for the lantern room and gallery below.  The perle cotton gives the structure a slightly higher profile when set against the sky stitched in basketweave with floss.

The tower is clad in cast iron, so I stitched it in basketweave, too, for a smooth look.  The shadow below the rings connecting the cast iron plates was defined by a single row of tent stitches in DMC #5 perle cotton #415.  The base of the lighthouse was worked in slanted gobelin stitches with DMC #5 perle cotton #644.

To further distinguish the railings of the gallery from the base of the lantern room, I added individual tent stitches with DMC floss #3799.

Mary Agnes (www.needlenicely,blogspot.com) had asked if the needle-blending class I'm teaching in September would be open to non-members of the Cape Cod chapter of ANG.  I checked with the program chair, and the class is for members only.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The sky at Nobska Point

I've begun stitching the updated Nobska lighthouse model a little differently than usual, starting first with the needle-blended sky.  After all, needle-blending is what I'll be teaching in September!  The blue floss is light in color, and I was careful to begin and end my threads far away from the white tower, so I don't anticipate any problems stitching the lighthouse itself.

I began at the top of the canvas with four plies of DMC floss #3755, stitching in basketweave 12 canvas threads deep and staggering the bottom row every other stitch to avoid creating a line.  The rest of the sky was worked in segments eight canvas threads deep, using DMC floss #3755, 3325, 3841 and 775.  By the time I reached the horizon, I was using two plies of DMC floss #3841 and two plies of DMC floss #775.

So far, so good!  Conveniently, this combination of blue values will also work for Cape Cod (Highland) lighthouse, another design offered for the class that needs updating, too.  On to the lighthouse!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A lighthouse makeover

An intensified work schedule has prompted me to rearrange my stitching priorities:  the Toyland Rocking Horse canvas, which I was stitching for myself, must go on the back burner to make way for more immediate deadlines.

In September, I'll be teaching a needle-blending class with the Cape Cod chapter of ANG using a couple of my lighthouse designs.  I needed to widen two of them so all three would be the same size, so surfed the net to properly elongate the buildings adjacent to them.

As I was living in Texas in 2001 when I first designed Nobska lighthouse, I used a photo from a book with a 1998 copyright date.  Flash forward to 2013, when my internet surfing revealed the keepers' quarters had since been resided with cedar shingles.

I'd also stitched the sky for the original model with a jacquard stitch in a solid blue DMC floss.  Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn't have worked the sky that way.  Bottom line:  time to stitch another model, this one  with a more appropriate--and realistic--needle-blended sky.

A Brief History of Nobska lighthouse

Located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, at the entrance to Vineyard Sound, the original lighthouse was built in 1828.  Its octagonal tower was an integral part of a typical Cape Cod-style house.  Over time, the roof began to leak, and the lighthouse was razed to construct a new 40-foot free-standing tower in 1876.  A second outbuilding was added in 1907 to provide housing for a newly-appointed assistant lighthouse keeper.  The lighthouse was automated in 1985 and the keepers' dwellings are now home to the U.S. Coast Guard regional commander.

I need to write a stitch guide for this "new and improved" lighthouse design, so I'd better stitch it first!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

The flag is waving proudly in front of our house this morning to celebrate America's birthday!  Joining me to wish you all a safe and happy celebration are some little people from my Early American series of cylindrical ornaments.

From left to right:  Uncle Sam, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.