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 ( 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 ( 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 (   (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 ( 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 (–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: ( 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

Happy and Safe Forth of July

14-07-04 flag

Hope Everyone celebrates a Happy and Safe Forth of July.

This is  a flag I stitched a couple years ago. I intended to hang it vertically until my husband told me that it was stitched wrong to hang vertically. I thought I was a pretty patriotic person but I did not know the flag hanging vertically should have the “union” (blue part) hanging to the observer’s left. Guess I never thought about it since hanging horizontally the “Union” is to the  observer’s left also…I just figured you turn the flag clockwise, otherwise, it is seems to me you are looking at the flag from the wrong side.   Anyway, now we display my flag horizontally and one of these days I’ll stitch it again so I can hang it vertically…maybe I’ll chart it then too.

If you’re interested here are links to flge display:

and flag etiquette:

Be safe today I hope you have time to stitch today!

Happy Birthday America!


Finally Some Things finished

I started finishing with four huck towels that have been stitched more years than I have had grandchildren. I loved doing these with all the women in my family. I have a drawer full of them already finished and use them…because I can’t take them with me and I know none of my children or grandchildren will want them. I’m saving them from a garage sale or worse the thrift market. And if I get the right out of the dryer I can hand press on counter and they require no iron. I have more huck toweling and after get some of this finishing out of the way may try again. Wish I could find linen huck towels, they are my favorite and colored huck toweling would be wonderful too; but all I can find now is white and it soils so quickly.

14-06-30 towels a pulled threadAnyway, I am starting my finishing with huck towels. First I pulled a thread at the bottom to make sure material was even…I would like to tell you this can instantly to me but truth is after I pined the first towel I realized the fabric was not even on the bottom…then it 14-06-30 towels b cut on pulled thread spacecame back to me that I had seen my mother pull a thread (more about that later) and even the fabric up. Then I cut on the pulled thread line with my pinking shears. I used the floats (these are the parallel vertical threads on huck toweling you use to make 14-06-30 towels c creased with toolthe designs) to turn a small hem and then a hem about 1 inch. I pinned the hems and made sure I had not slipped a thread or two by matching the ends.

I always have to think about hemming…most of my needlepoint stitches are 14-06-30 towels e ends matchcompleted by stitching diagonally or from left to right and hemstitching is executed from right to left. It’s one of those out of order sequences for me. Here’s my diagrams that will go in my finishing notebook…the small stitches have been 14-06-30 hem stitchingexaggerated, you really should not see the stitches. I just catch a few threads on the backside (top) and try never to go to the front of the fabric. (This is where those floats on huck toweling are good. Slide the needle about 1/4 inch left and come out very close to the turn back(1/4 inch) in the pinned 1 inch hem.

14-06-30 huck design cIt was fun to stitch these towels and remember the wonderful women who stitched these and gave me my love of needlework . I never appreciated how detailed my mother was in her craft work. She was an office manager and very left brained in her life, so it should have been no 14-06-30 huck design c2surprise to me she would be this way in her crafts too. Notice this towel with the overdyed thread all the threads have been pre-cut to keep the color in the proper areas. But on the small band on the other end she either forgot or accidentally stitched with the wrong end of the thread in the needle.

And this pink to red overdye probably drove her nuts because there was no pre-cutting, it was a random pull. Would not be surprised if my grandmother didn’t stitch this one, she was the 14-06-30 huck design acreative one in the family. The green one I may have done but I’m not sure, looks pretty complicated for a kid…but as many of these as we made I got pretty good. The yellow towel I know i stitched…I have a yellow ducky collection in my bathroom (surprise surprise 14-06-30 huck design bsurprise…another collection; but then my friend says you have three of a kind it is a collection…I have too many collections!)

When I went to hang three of the towels (pink ones) in the office bathroom I found one my mother had finished 14-06-30 huck design dand she open hem stitched it. Remember I told you I remember her pulling a thread or two? Well, maybe she was pulling threads to do an open hem stitch; but I think she pulled a thread to even the fabric too.  I was lucky to get mine hemmed, open hem stitching will have 14-06-30 huck with pulled hemto wait another day.  But now they are stitched hanging in my office bathroom, I can see them from my desk. They will get little or no use (I keep Viva towels in there for everyday use.) The towel wall is mostly decorative and I figure I will enjoy them the most. The bath towel in the center hanging on the men’s suit hanger my great Aunt Rose made and it hangs on a wooden hanger from a men’s clothing store my mother managed for years. Aunt Rose crocheted around the hand towel and then crocheted the basket right onto the towel…needless to say it has never been used. It is a treasure. Isn’t it fun to look at things that were made when life was slower and simpler; it brings back such fond memories of those that shaped who I am today.

14-06-30 huck hanging

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

Betsy Ross stitched and blocking

BRoss complete14-06-26 Ultra Suede thread redBetsy is finished but she almost did not get a tuff-it to sit upon. I decided to use Ultra Suede for the cushion. I used short lengths (12 inches and a larger than normal needle) but I still had trouble. My thread kept breaking. After several breakages, I cut another piece and gentle pulled on both ends and it broke. At first I thought it was breaking where the Ultra Suede was bent around the edge of the card but this didn’t seem to be the problem (although the thread did break here a few times.) What it seemed to me to be more likely was it was an old thread. I have had this thread for a couple years and I do not think it has stored well. I did get the tuff-it stitched but it took a great amount of patience…probably would have been quicker to get up and get another thread but I am lazy and stubborn. Anyone else had problems with this thread? I am going to check my other Ultra Suede and if they are as unstable I am going to dispose of them. Frustration is not part of my stitching world.

Betsy’s cap is Alternating Scotch Stitches and again I stitched the scallops in tent and then before adding the bullions, I French Knotted some hair for Betsy using an overdye. You can see in the picture it started to diagonal stripe…that’s because I stitch everything I can diagonally, so I tried the puddle method. (see: OR I’m not too sure I was successful but I don’t think it will be as visible once she is finished. After the knots were in then I did bullion knots around the cap. I’m pretty good at bullions now.

14-06-26 BRoss tuffit & basketI also did needleweaving a basket for Betsy and was going to cover pony beads with floss and place them in the basket for balls of yarn/thread. But I did not leave enough give in the basket and I don’t think it would have worked anyway…I think the beads 14-06-26 pony beads coveredwould have been too large, but you can see I tried and I prefer what I did better..

Betsy was a fun take-a-long, I really like stitching Anne Stradal,  ABS Designs ( or canvases; she paints a great canvas. My husband has hinted he likes lighthouses, so now I have an excuse to buy more canvases ;-) …I like this idea.

So Betsy is on the blocking board and will be finished soon…maybe not in time for the fourth of July but before too long.

14-06-26 BRoss blocked

It’s back to finishing for me and I promise to have something (finishing) to show next time.

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

New Book: finishing

I have my father to thank for my love of books; I never remember him not having a book to read in his position. Somewhere I have a bookmark where he wrote; “a good book is sometimes the best company to keep.”  AND, I have procrastination down to an art…but I learned this from my mother. She had to own every book, magazine and all the tools and supplies on a subject before she tried doing it. I remember tole painting…I didn’t think she would ever get around to putting brush to paint. After reading and taking several classes she tole painted a few pieces…she was really rather good at it too.

14-06-12_finishing101So, I stopped the finishing and read Pat’s book and it is a good one. Great advice and it is more than a finishing book, it has thoughts on the whole process of stitching. I loved that she said to read all the finishing instructions before starting and to adapt your own style of finishing. I think that’s great advice, what I might do to my piece you might not like on yours and I am not opposed to glue in certain instances and Pat doesn’t use glue.

The first third of the book is general information about needlework and finishing. I found it very interesting and also thought provoking. She takes about everything from clean hands; how to make a blocking board and how to make trims. She gives you suggestions for where to obtain or make those little things that will make finishing easier.

The major part of the book Pat walks you through how she finished several different pieces of needlework. I had a “AH-Ha” moment while reading one of these instructions for a finishing idea I’ve been mulling around in my head. And another I wish I had read before I did the Henny Penny Eyeglass case ( last year…would have made finishing much easier.

This has long been the advice of needlepoint books to know what your needlepoint will be after it is stitched and if it requires fabric then purchase it and then pick your threads. This is great advice but we seldom do this, we just expect our finisher to find just the perfect match. And like Pat said you’re not likely to find much apple green when hunter green is all the rage.

Another thing we never think about when we take our stuff to the finisher is her costs. She has to buy fabric, remember decorator fabrics are 55 inches wide and the finisher has to buy the whole width; dress fabrics are only 44-45 inches wide but she still has to buy the width. And your green may not be my green even if we were in a class together and I may want my pillow 15 inches while 12 inches is your size. And in some decorator shops there is a yardage minimum unless you happen to find a remnant, but if you order that special fabric there is a minimum.  This drives the cost of your pillow up…finishers have to figure they may never use the rest of the fabric purchased for your pillow. And we haven’t even talked about the trims, ribbons and do-dads that make you needlework special. So please remember this the next time you wince at the cost of finishing what really goes into the cost of finishing that ornament, pillow or whatever…and it’s not just the cost of the materials but also the time and cost it took to look for that special fabric, ribbon, do-dad.

Pat also suggests you start a notebook with your own finishing hints; I have a 3 inch binder that I keep all sorts of finishing notes from ideas that appeal to me; helpful hints I have garnered from other needlework teachers; to finishing instructions I have written for other needlework projects. I’m sure I will need a larger notebook before I am finished.

Pat’s Bibliography and Sources is very good. She has far more books in her finishing library than I have in mine…but she finishes professionally and I am but a dabbler. This book also has possible design patterns with information on how to use.

I am not indorsing any one book but I will tell you I am glad I have the books I have in my library (See 2 posts back for list:  From Pat’s book, my newest addition, through Edie Weilemann, Sandy Higgins and Summer Truswell’s books (, I will be reading the how to’s before I start a project. I also hope to take lots of pictures and do lots of notes and drawings for my notebook. I glad I have my old books too ( Pat calls them her: “Classic Books”) by Dorothy Burchette and  Katharine Ireys, they have some unusual finishing items that I may want to try , plus some helpful timeless hints.  And I am going to look through my Singer books for ideas, not to mention the interne.  And next time I am at the fabric sore I am going to look at the pattern books for ideas too, maybe someone has already invented my wheel… and of course the book section (this girl can never have too many  books…my family would disagree but they are wrong.) .

Reading Pat’s book has affirmed for me that I can do my own finishing; I may not be as fast or as good as the finisher who does this all the time, but I can do this. And it does not mean that I am not going to send needlepoint to the finisher, it just means I can do this and I can share my ideas with others.

So it is back to the sewing table; summer is here and I want to make lots of progress.

I’ll be back later in the week I finished stitching Betsy and I had some issues; not with the canvas Anne Stradal ABS Designs ( or paints a great canvas. I had a problem with a thread. Later this week.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today! I’ll be stitching some finishing. ttfn…sue