Shop Project: The Neighborhood

I am taking a shop project, it is very much like a shop class except the instructor did not design the piece. The instuctor has stitched the piece. It is run very much like a class, we all received a kit with marked canvas, threads, instuctions and needles. Now this in itself is no big deal, I think everyone can and should take a class; you are never too old to learn. You can take a class in needlework or try a new media, whatever floats your boat.  

I am taking this piece because I think it is just too cute for words. The Neighborhood is from Finger Step Designs by Susan Jones. You can see it at Custom House of Needle Arts, distributors only, ( ). You must order from your local shop or our local shop carries it: Two the Point ( or I also found it at Thistle Needleworks ( ).

Remember, if you want to order this, it is only the instructions…my shop is offering it as a shop project and so we paid more to have it set up like a class with canvas, threads and a moderator who stitched the piece previously. I had no one in mind to stitch it for when I decided to take the piece, but now I have thought of at least a couple people I think would like this piece besides me. My husband even said he liked it; it reminds him of growing up in his neighborhood.

I really thought this shop project was a no brainer. The stitches are fairly simple and straight forward, no layer upon layer, thread upon thread. The threads are all perle cottons, not much laying. There are a couple places you use cotton 2 strands #8 perle, but no big deal… Oh yes, there is the bit about the rayon floss for the window panes but that is the last thing you stitch. Since this is a shop project, my shop marked a canvas and pulled the threads for each of us, just like a class 😉 .  What could be difficult about this piece?

Well, I’m here to tell you, that if house #1 is any indication this is not a beginning piece!

1st there is COUNTING…Yes, I said counting! Now I am not counting challenged but if the white roof line #1 does not go in correctly the entire house will be off. And you have to think about the order of stitching to make it less difficult on yourself. This is a good reason to be in a shop project/class…someone else has already stitched this piece and knows the tricks, traps and pitfalls. Maryann (shop leader) suggested you start on the left at the mark and stitch top row to the right side and then back. Good thought, if your count is off you only have one row to “frog stitch. ” And even though you as a stitcher should count for yourself twice (remember the carpenters’ rule: Measure twice, cut once)…Stitcher’s rule: Count twice, stitch once! If you count correctly and stitch correctly…this works. If you are counting challenged, you may be frog stitching. Maryann gave us the stitch counts, but I counted too. The best part is she has lines marked on the side of the canvas that help you check your stitching.  

#2 is the roof. Pretty straight forward stitch: Diagonal Scotch. Don’t forget to stop at the roof peak, another mark on the side of the canvas. Thank you, since you start at the lower right corner of the area to establish a pattern, I probably would have stitched it right on up to the left side of canvas…too far. This was one of the easier parts to this stitching.

#3 Bricks! This is an Offset Horizontal Cashmere variation…I say variation because a cashmere stitch is: Stitched from lower left to upper right: over one, over two, over two, over one; this Cashmerevariation is: Stitched from lower right to upper left: over one, over two, over two, over two, over one. You got it…I am already frog stitching!  Area 3A is the largest area of full rows in this entire house; there are a couple more areas on the left of the house and below the windows but I’m not there yet. AND then, there is that red line (3B) I have drawn a line on my canvas to help me remember that this is the subtle way to show the corner of the house. The designer, Susan Jones starts and stops the bricks here, very clever, but I would have missed it completely if Maryann had not pointed this out.

Areas 4 are pretty straight forward…Count to locate a starting point, count for size and placement…Lots of counting. I did okay until I got to the door and then I had a lapse in counting and of course did not notice it until after I had filled in the door. I might not have had this problem if I had stitched the steps and railing first but those I left because somewhere in the recesses of my old mind I remember that when stitching black and white threads, it is best to put the white in first when possible. What can I say:  live, frog stitch, re-stitch and learn!

Area 5 The Door. Looks pretty easy, but by now I am really checking the instructions and ah-ha I notice that this is not as simple as it looks. Tent frame outlines the door, Mosaic and Cashmere stitches give it the panel look, and the rest is filled with Diagonal Gobelin stitches…BUT every so often there is a stitch over 3 threads just to keep you on your toes.

So the quick, fast, easy little project I decided would be a lark has proved to be a challenge and I’m only on house #1. I am so glad I decided to take this piece in a shop project setting. Maryann has stitched the piece and she marked the canvases and her insights into the piece are so helpful. And if these reasons aren’t enough…the best reason is I am out of the house and stitching with 8 new friends (okay 6, I knew 2 already)

After I post this to my blog I am off to stitch bricks, trees and grass. My homework was to have at least the roof completed but I am an overachiever…what can I say. I want to have this almost complete when the shop project time is complete

I hope everyone has time to stitch today! ttfn…sue


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