My name in Print

14-08-13 Thistle 1

14-08-13 Thistle 2

14-08-13 Thistle 3In the mail today I received my current ANG magazine and low and behold my diagrams are featured in The Thistle by Carole Lake and Michael Boren. Someone had written me an email to tell me they had seen it, but it is always a pleasant surprise to see one’s name in print. Thank you Carole Lake, Michael Boren (http://www.stitchplay.com/index.html) and ANG (http://www.needlepoint.org/index.php).

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you find time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

Timeless Tomato Progress

Debbie Steihler’s Timeless Tomato is progressing nicely…makes me want to keep stitching all the time But I do have other commitments and my tomato will just have to wait for when the girls get together to stitch , graze and gab.  I only stitch on this at stitch-ins and where I can have my stand up. It requires laying threads and there is a ribbon which I prefer to lay front AND back. Just finishing one segment and all the grid  for the other segments makes a world of difference. I did get some serious stitching completed during my doggie sitting week, I can see this piece being finished…someday.

Before

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Now14-08-10 progress a

 

But now it is time to get back to finishing…The finishing basket has re-emerged, so next week I will be back to finishing…bottoms, stuffing and tops are next.

And speaking of finishing, I will also be finishing up instructions for you ladies that are going to ANG National in Chicago. Enjoy your week and if you are a blogger…look forward to hearing from you as you stitch the week away.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you find time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

Finished Lighthouse on National Lighthouse Day

I’m still on dogie-watch schedule; I can’t seem to get back in the grove of things.

14-08-07 desk beforeMary Corbet (http://www.needlenthread.com/2014/08/embroidery-work-space-or-where-is-waldo.html) and I have something in common this week…I came back to a desk piled high with things that needed attention and all I wanted to do was stitch and let the dogs out. But I did tackle my desk and made a dent to put some order into my desk; now instead of a heap of mess, I have organized piles of mess.

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But since I finished stitching my first light house and Vicki De Angelis over at Mostly Needlepoint (http://mostlyneedlepoint.com/did-you-know/) pointed out it was National Lighthouse Day…I figured it was an omen and I should share this with everyone today.

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My first lighthouse from ABS designs (http://www.absdesignsonline.com/)is Portland Head Lighthouse and is destined for Sudberry’s (http://www.sudberry.com/) black box. My box is like the one shown on Anne’s website (I think it was called the pen box) but I think it is out of stock and unless you find it in a shop somewhere, you may have to frame this piece.  I needleblended the sky (post: http://sudukc.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/hiding-out-is-such-fun/) and will share with you my email from Anne, MNS (master of Needleblended skies):

You’d think that counting the number of threads in the depth of your sky, then dividing it by the number of “blends” you’ll be using, would give you the right number of lines deep for each “blend.”  But every time you cut in a new “blend,” it encroaches on the one before it.  So….

 Try turning the canvas upside down, working the lightest value of blue at the horizon.  Keep going until you run out of “blends.”  In the case of the box insert, you then have the option of going to DMC 3755 to cut into the 3325, so the darkest shade is at the top of the canvas.  That makes for a more dramatic effect, and the lightest shade at the horizon doesn’t overpower the shades above.

That makes sense to me…I started at the top and worked down but next time I’ll work up from the horizon line.

This was one of those pieces that no matter how hard I tried to place more decorative stitches, my friend Virginia’s words kept rattling around in my head. Virginia is a guild member, who has tried more techniques than anyone I know; she stitches till the wee hours of the morning and until recently (last year or two) stitched on 40 count canvas without extra light or magnification. Oh yes, and did I tell you she is 80+ years young. I always say Virginia has forgotten more than I am ever going to learn. Anyway one time, I was trying very hard to put decorative stitches on a canvas and it was not working out at all. Virginia said; “Honey, when it’s screaming Basketweave, just stitch Basketweave. Sometimes Basketweave is best and every needlepoint should have some…it’s a place to rest your eyes. “

Well, every time I would try to think of a different stitch I would hear Virginia, “Basketweave” So much of this piece has Basketweave. The sky is Basketweave, but I did get to play around with the needleblending technique. And after I was completely finished with the sky I thought I could have used Nobuko or Diagonal Mosaic for the clouds…but I was lucky to get the clouds in there anyway. And I love the rocks, Alternating Padded Satin with overdyed threads just jumped off the canvas. And the Diagonal Gobelin for the water was good too. The foreground green and shoreline could be nothing else but Continental and Basketweave.

The buildings: I tried my best to stitch the siding of the large building in a small decorative stitch but nothing seemed to work for me…Okay Virginia, Basketweave it is. I did get the windows and doors stitched in Cashmere and variations of Cashmere. The brown building did lend itself to a decorative stitch and so the siding is worked in Diagonal Mosaic, the shutters are Oblong cross, and yes, the windows are basketweave. And all the red roofs are a Gobelin stitched diagonally, horizontally or vertically.

The green background I couldn’t decide whether that was grass or trees and I wanted it to be trees, but they had to stay on the back. I used 2 ply green overdyed floss and did French Knots. They were small enough that they did not overpower the little brown house but added a texture to the right side of the canvas to help balance the decorative stitches used in the rock.

The lighthouse did give me pause…I thought since it was behind the main house it should be Basketweave too, but then I decided that lighthouses are round and so this was probably a bit further behind the house than I originally thought and maybe if I did Alternating Diagonal Gobelins it would make the light house the focal point (as it should be) and still not overpower the house  or the whole canvas. It worked, gave the lighthouse a bit of definition and the illusion of roundness yet stayed behind the house. The top is mostly Continental stitched in black perle cotton and Kreinik black braid with the lights in yellow Kreinik braid cross stitches.

But my favorite is the fence, I was afraid it might get lost against the white house but it didn’t (even if the picture doesn’t show this. I wanted to stitch the fence in a whiter white but could not find DMC B5200 in & 8 perle and did not want to use floss. I stitched small horizontal  (2 threads x 1 thread) Overlapping Oblong Crosses for the rails and then when I had cleared the area for a post I went back and stitch an upright Oblong Cross (4 threads x 1 thread)…see diagram.

14-08-07 overlapping oblong cross

My first lighthouse is completed and as much as I would like to keep stitching new canvases I have a box full of canvases I need to stitch so I have decided one PPC (previously purchased canvas) before new canvases. And I haven’t decided what that will be yet…but I have to find a small one for my carry along project.

In a couple days I’ll show you how much progress I made on my Debbie Stiehler Tomato too. I really did get some serious stitching done last week. BUT I have to get back to my finishing…Christmas is a coming!

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today!

ttfn…sue

Hiding out is such fun

Every year my niece asks me if I would like to house-sit and dog-sit, Frankie & 14-07-30 peachesJoey? And every year I say yes…Who wouldn’t, this is like a vacation in the city.
The whole house to me (and two loveable puppies) and nature right out my back door. I’m 5 minutes from good food too (don’t even have to cook.)
14-07-30 tomatoesBut I found a fruit and vegetable stand and have been eating fresh tomatoes and
peaches like there is no tomorrow…and every morning I have coffee to this…   14-07-30 view

 

 

 

 

 

 

14-07-30 DoeAnd the first day I was here a doe brought by her babies to visit. I have seen twins before but this doe has triplets; it was like she knew this was going to be my special week and she wanted to start it off right…she checked out the area while the babes stayed 14-07-30 doe and triplesback and then she brought them up for me to see. I was so excited my pictures are blurry but you can see all three. What away to start my house sitting. And so far it has been perfect I have read three books in four days, even managed to needlepoint and watch nature out the windows. And this week the weather has been cool enough to sit on the deck and do all the above…too perfect!.

14-07-30 ABS BoxI decided to start my needlepoint lighthouse journey with Anne’s Portland Head, ME lighthouse since I have the same box she used to finish the piece (this might be a quick finish) I know that Anne is a master at needle blending skies and I wanted to try this method, so I spent the better part of  a day last week researching her blog (http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/) for sky stitching and lucky for anyone interested I kept a record… Here are her hints on needleblending skies (or at least the ones I read): http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2009/01/needle-blending-sky.html http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2009/07/blue-skies-over-long-island.html http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2009/09/needle-blending-again.html http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2009/11/skys-my-limit.html http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2010/02/sky-above-water-below.html http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2011/07/taking-it-from-top.html http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2011/08/cloudless-sky.html http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2012/02/sky-and-water.html http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2013/07/two-skies-side-by-side.html

And here are other skies Anne used: Sunrise at the lighthouse: http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2010/07/sunrise-over-fenwick-island.html

Need a gloomy Sky: http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2009/10/needle-blending-gloomy-sky.html

Night Sky anyone: http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2010/04/looking-at-lighthouse-in-different.html

Don’t forget the moon reflection: http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2010/04/in-for-penny-in-for-pound.html

Want to do fog? Anne has covered that too, not once but twice: http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2009/06/fog-rolls-in.html.. http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2011/10/another-foggy-sky.html

April 2009 has several and two of the lighthouses are mine what luck. April 15 has the Portland Head lighthouse…A limitless sky (http://thecapestitcher.blogspot.com/2009/04/limitless-sky.html)

Hummmm, I bet I could add clouds to mine too… Well,  my clouds were not easy for me! The one on the leftI did without an outline, just stitched it, but it was 14-07-30 cloudsfrustrating to me so I took the picture I had printed off and drew lines around Anne’s clouds and then with my blue Pilot sc-uf pen, I drew clouds on my canvas (isn’t there a song about this?) I stitched them all using lightest value of the blues flosses I had chosen (DMC 3756).

Time to start the sky: I used three other DMC flosses (A:3325 B:3841 C:775) and needle blended as follows:

4 ply color A

3 ply color A and 1 ply color B

2 ply color A and 2 ply color B

1 ply color A and 3 ply color

B 4 ply color

B 3 ply color B and 1 ply color C

2 ply color B and 2 ply color

C 1 ply color B and 3 ply color

C 4 ply color C

14-07-30 1st rowThat was the easy part, then I counted the rows of sky and divided by the number of color choices I had; see my marks on the side of the canvas. I started at the top with the darkest of the blends 4 ply color A. You can see in the picture I even added 14-07-30 count offsome random stitches in the next area and left some random stitches in the first are so the next color blended better. I was going along just fine until I got to the bottom.  I think I am counting challenge; either that or I am so relaxed I lost all sense of
where and what I am doing…I vote for the relaxed.  Somewhere in the last three areas I got off and needed to adapt. Anyway, the needle blending is so subtle that you can barely tell I did it until you look at the whole picture. In fact it was hard to get a picture to show you. I even took a picture of the back, I think you can see it better.

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14-07-30 sky finished

 

 

 

 

I am going to enjoy the last couple days of my retreat …I hope momma doe brings her babes back for another look…triplets are so rare.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

And a word from my stitching…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI joined the ANG CyberWorkshops for Michelle Roberts’ Ukrainian Eggs class. I received my instruction book a few weeks ago; the other supplies I already had, so I am ready to go. I spent one evening reading the instruction book (Michelle’s instructions are so good). I even have several of the Ukrainian Egg books in her bibliography that I have dug out. I am probably going to have to put this project out of sight…I want to start it now…looks like such fun. And lately we have been testing the web connection, so I’m really getting excited now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am also stitching on Debbie Stiehler’s Tomato but it is not a project I can take in the car…need a stand to stitch…going to have to find a small project to stitch for my to-go piece. Debbie has retired from active teaching, but if you were ever privileged to take a class from her, you know what fun she is. I love this piece and have put all the base lines in so now it’s just a matter of stitching along. I can tell some patterns are more difficult than others but that is the beauty of a Debbie Steihler piece…she keeps you on your toes (or I should say fingers).

And then I got a great surprise, the answer to my “to-go piece” prayers…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho in their right mind is going to tell their DH that they can’t buy canvas(es) when he says I would like to have a some lighthouses to go with our ship pictures, why don’t you stitch me some. Oh a collection in the making, I love it. I sent him to ABS Designs (http://www.absdesignsonline.com/) and he picked out about 30 he liked! Now this is roll-reversal, but I made him look again and be reasonable to start…he picked out three he liked and I added a fourth. I kept a list of the others and let’s just say his birthday, anniversary; Christmas and Father’s Day are taken care of for the rest of his and my life. Lucky I also have a grandson that will like these someday too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then he was looking through my current issue of Needlepoint Now (http://www.needlepointnow.com/) and I heard him chuckle…and he said this is a funny canvas, you need to order this. Since I already ordered it from Wellesley Needlepoint (http://www.wellesleyneedlepoint.com/)   (months ago); it arrive a couple days after he said something. He thinks we have a great delivery turnaround time; “That didn’t take long, did it” …when the opportunity opens you don’t have to tell me to twice to keep my mouth shut. Yep, we girls are fast.

Of course now his mantra is, “I don’t want to hear you say you have nothing to stitch.” Glad he doesn’t look at my office and closet very closely.

I’m off to choose my new stitching project threads…don’t want DH to think I am not doing my part to start his new collection…and I did say I needed a something small to stitch.

Oh more finishing, I need to get caught up so I can send this stuff to someone else…maybe I can interest my daughter –in –law into finishing…she likes to sew. She makes American Girl doll clothes and sells them on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/alldolldup). If she has the patience to do doll clothes maybe she’d like needlepoint finishing…hum-m-m.

And it will be a couple weeks before I get back to finishing, I am taking a break to house and dog sit at my niece’s house…This is my favorite week of the year, nature and stitching and no cooking if I chose not to do so. Just me, and my stitching…DH is there too, but he comes and goes…cooks too. I’ll take pictures, it is so tranquil and peaceful.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

Roll up finishing has begun

My fingers hurt…first I pulled needlework then I stuck myself with pins and needles…I know two thing for sure:

#1. I will never be a professional finisher! I will be able to talk somewhat intelligently about it but I will not get better with practice. I do not enjoy it that much and I am a true believer of if you do it you should enjoy it. But I will have the feeling of accomplishment when summer is over; I will have Christmas ornaments for sons and grandchildren, and I get to share all my stuff at a guild meeting, an added bonus.

#2. I will never be a junkie that requires sharp objects….I knew there was a reason we use blunt needles!
14-07-16 RU-a TG trimBUT, I am progressing nicely…I have eight roll-ups I am finishing…so you may see different roll-ups for different stages. I am doing all the roll-up at the same
time so when I cut the canvas to within 1/2 inch of stitching, I cut all of them. My problem seems to be I can’t remember to take a picture of the same needlepoint.

14-07-16 RU-b TG fold & pinThen with my fabric creaser (saves the fingers and the nails) I mitered all the corners and then I turned the sides in and pined all.

Then the stitching began…I used a long (about the only good thing I can say is 18 inches is NOT the required length of thread for finishing), as long a thread as you can comfortably manage is a good length…and I have long arms. I used regular sewing thread that I doubled in the needle and ran several times through beeswax.

14-07-16 RU-e beeswaxBeeswax may be purchased at the notions counter of your local sewing center, You can purchase either just the beeswax or beeswax in a cute little holder. I have both, not because I needed a cute little container but because since I am a stitching collector, I needed one. I usual thread and knot (yes knots are acceptable in finishing) the doubled thread and then run it through the beeswax a couple times. I think beeswax keeps the thread from tangling as much and it adds strength to the thread.

14-07-16 RU-c sew sidesI start stitching in the middle of one side, using a running stitch to secure the turn back to the backside of the stitching. A running stitch catches a few of the needlework stitches, then comes up through the unstitched border, see picture.  I make sure I do 14-07-16 RU-d sew miternot go through to the front and only catch a few threads. I did not do this but you could cut a lightweight piece of pelon or muslin (white or natural) to fit the design area and then turned and pinned the extra canvas to the muslin; tacking stitches will then be secured to the muslin. I will do this to ornaments that have open stitching and need lining later. It is a good idea to line pieces with muslin if you are afraid you will disturb stitching on the front.

I stitch to a corner and then secure the corner together, making sure I have a flat turned corner and then continue around the roll-up securing the mitered corners as I go. End this thread.

14-07-16 RU-f rollup pinNext came the pining of the roll-ups. Ouch, I stuck myself several times…Okay I am klutzy but I don’t do this often. After I got them all pinned then with another waxed double thread to match the stitching (i.e. black for black; but if the design is mufti colored just picked a color that blended…if this stitch is done correctly you won’t see it anyway.) I probably used white for both of these.

I stitched the roll ups from the top down. There should have been no problem with one side being longer than another but should that problem arise make sure the top and bottom are even and then the excess should be fudged in the lower half of the design. If you are more than three or four threads off you may want to figure out why.

I just had a friend who forgot to put the border around one piece of a purse and this didn’t get noticed until the finisher was ready to put the purse together. Lucky, the finisher had left about 5/8 inch canvas around the piece because my friend has three rows of stitching to put around the piece. Opps…

14-07-16 RU-e beeswaxWith a waxed double thread (does not have to be that long, but long enough not to run out; I stitch the sides together with  a Ladder Stitch (because that is what the lady who taught me called it). I have also heard it called the Hidden 14-07-16 RU-g ladder stitch graphicApplique Stitch. I catch 2 or three canvas threads on one side and then 2-3 canvas 14-07-16 RU-g stitchthreads on the other side. About every 4-6 stitches I give the thread an extra tug to pull the sides and thread tightly together. I use this stitch to stitch the ends on also and anytime I am stitching a piece of needlework together or to a backing.

14-07-16 RU-h spoolBefore I go this time want to share this little tip I learned at the sewing store last week…If you have thread spools that still have that little cut in one side to secure the thread, mark the slit with a waterproof pen and you won’t be looking for it. I know the new spools have Kreinik type secure spools and I love them but I have old spools and some of the store brand threads have not gotten the updated spools.

After I get all these stitched up I’ll start the tops and bottoms and stuffing.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

Blocking is not for sissies…

14-07-09 blocking board fullMoving right along I have taken the first of finishing off the blocking board and set the second set. I’m starting with roll-ups or nutcrackers as I have several. A couple roll-ups were already off the blocking board and that’s why I decided to start with these and my thinking was they will be all finished alike so I can get an assembly line going…not that they would be easiest. Probably would have been easier to start with simple shapes, squares and ovals but I usually don’t do things the simple way.
14-07-09 Blocking remove tape & selvagesBlocking… first and foremost is after you are finished stitching your needlework…REMOVE THE TAPE. I have a couple pieces I did not do this and I can feel the gummy on the canvas so I cut the canvas off. And this tape is the kind used by needlework shops…never use masking tape on your canvas it is even worse. And if you buy that canvas you can’t live without and are going to put it in your stash pile, do not have tape put on the canvas, wait until you are ready to stitch this piece to tape it. If your local shop won’t tape it for you or you don’t have a shop you can purchase artist tape in different widths from art supply stores; here’s an example (http://www.danielsmith.com/Item–i-768-020-003). One of these days when I start a new canvas I’ll show how to tape a canvas…but now, back to blocking.
Also if your canvas still has the selvage on it cut it off…hopefully this will still leave you room to block piece. If not, for now just clip through the selvage like you are clipping a curve, block and then remove. And shame on the designer or teacher who put her design too close to the selvage.
14-07-09 blocking nddlept st lineBlocking is hard on the fingers and the fingernails. You have to pull the canvas taut. I start to pin my needlepoint in the upper right corner. I pull the canvas taut and pin the top first (it does not matter whether you pin across the top or down the right side first whichever you prefer) The two things that are important are that you pull the canvas taut AND you pin in the same ditch, channel, between two parallel canvas threads (straight line) across the canvas. Next I pin down the right side, pulling taut and following a straight line. Next is the left side and then across the bottom Sometimes my bottom pining will be off a canvas thread or two, but what matters is that the canvas is square with no waves or puckers. Adjust pins by pulling canvas if you have waves or puckers.
14-07-09 blocking nddlept pulling & st lineTo dampen or not…NEVER if silk or overdyes are used. I have a steamer and a mister but unless badly distorted (you must not have used your stretcher bars…shame on you) I seldom use water on my needlework. If I do, I put a towel under the blocking board and I mist very very lightly and leave the blocking board lying flat. You are going to love this reasoning…it makes no sense but it makes me feel more secure…I think if the board is flat and the color is going to run it will run down and not 14-07-09 blocking nddleptsideways. I told you it makes no sense but it makes me feel better. The other thing I have found is if I dampen needlework I have to adjust blocking the second time.
Okay needlepoint is on the blocking board and I leave it for a day or two, or three, or more…I check it after 24 hours and if the needlework is puckering I adjust the tension by unpinning two sides (bottom and left) and re-pin pulling taut. I leave blocked needlework on the blocking board until I get ready to finish and trust me I have had needlework on a blocking board a long time.
Another thing I want to mention here is if you have a piece that is badly distorted, I recommend two things:
1. Have it professionally blocked
2. Immediately find someone who will lace it for framing.
And know that over time it is going to distort again…unless of course you are planning on putting it in a museum where they can climate control it and keep it from the real world. And never let someone talk you into glue for the back or using pelon on the back… needlepoint is stronger than both of these and you will just have a mess.
I have a few old pieces from my grandmother and mother stitched in Continental or half cross and they distort. I’m sure my mother paid good money in her day to have these pictures framed but about every three or four years I can’t stand the ripples anymore and I take them out of their frames, and re-pin them (they were pinned to corrugated cardboard but I changed that to artist board years ago.)
Anna Pearson’s blog this week is also about finishing: (http://anna-pearson-needlepoint.blogspot.com/2014/07/your-needlepoint-deserves-best.html) She states she never designs or suggests a project without know who and how it will be finished. I love to read posts from across the pond…the English have such a lovely way of putting everything.
Next time we start finishing the roll-ups. Until then…
Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! ttfn…sue