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!