Melissa Shirley Wicked: Fun stuff

You should know that stitching does not happen overnight. I probably stitched on the background and letters for a good three weeks and maybe longer since I know it got boring. Big projects like Wicked are home projects; you just don’t pack these up and take them to a 2 hour stitch-in…at least I don’t. I like to have them set up in my stitching nest and it is usually the one in my bedroom, where I can get away and just stitch. These times always remind me of the old Calgon commercial….”Needlepoint take me away!”  I have my TV with recorded shows and my needlepoint, who could ask for anything more?

I usually have small projects (anything smaller than 12 x 12 inches) that I can take to a stitch-in or stitch downstairs in the family room stitch nest. Sometimes these are just my doodle canvas to audition stitches for the big project or another piece. And then there is the computer work that I often let get away from me…my own that is. If I have a teacher’s work I keep on top of these…they have a schedule and so do I. We all have deadlines and other things to do in our lives.

I really like Melissa Shirley’s “Wicked”…I guess, otherwise why would I stitch it?  I can’t imagine buying a piece of needlepoint I didn’t like let alone stitching one. Now that’s not to say that while stitching a piece of needlepoint I have not become less enamored with it. But I don’t think I have ever abandoned a piece of needlepoint; I even completed a notebook class.  (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/wilanna-bristow/) Wilanna Bristow, my first ever seminar teacher, even told me she had never seen one completed.

I have taken a technique class at seminar that I knew I was not taking for the piece, but to learn the technique or a class from a particular teacher; and I knew I would not complete the pieces after class but I stitched on them during class and kept all the information and samples in a notebook. The remaining supplies I incorporated into my stash.

But this is a whole other blog post; see how I can get sidetracked? …so lets get back to “Wicked”

Again I started with the “W” and moved right. I left all the beading until the very last but I’ll tell you about that as we go along. All the little white circles on all the letters are beads representing stars. All these were left until “Wicked” was stitched. More about beading later.

I am not going to tell you specific threads, because I feel that is part of the stitch guide and should be protected by copyright. The stitches are also protected by copyright …not the stitch but their use in this project. But since you can see the stitches in the picture I will use names.

Letter W: I started with the moon. It is lightly padded with a stranded thread (I may have gotten the padding thread from my stash) and then stitched over in Diagonal Gobelins with a thread that had some glitz. I outlined the moon also, since the cat was stitched with a black furry thread and did not want to be dragging this into the moon.

I padded the vertical slates of the fence and the center of the pumpkin only before stitching over them with the appropriate threads. I used the same thread to pad the areas as I used to stitch them.

The cat called for a stitch that to me seemed more difficult to do with the furry thread so I changed it. I used a brick stitch for the cat’s body and random stitches for his tail.  I also used a stranded thread to stitch the two fangs on the face, I though a furry thread was not needed and another thread would make them look more like fangs. On hindsight, who was going to notice this but me? You would have to be too close to the canvas to notice this, but what can I say…it was my choice and at the time it felt right.

I left the cat’s eye (white square) and the curly q (rectangle on picture) on the pumpkin for later. I did use a highlighter in the stitch guide to note the areas I was leaving to do latter. It is easy to miss these details once you have stitched a large project. It has taken a long time to stitch and you are excited to get it finished and may even be stitching on a date deadline, so it is easy to overlook a small detail that will bug you later on. Just mark the stitch guide or keep a notebook handy to make notes.

I outlined the “W” after I finished all but the final embellishments.

Letter I: This was one of the three most difficult letters to stitch. It has a lot of details and several different techniques required.

I stitched the “I” in the following order, although I think the stitch guide started at the bottom and moved up… I stitched from lightest thread to darkest thread for the larger areas and left padded area until last. I Basketweaved the face, stitched Witch’s dress, coat, and then the pumpkin. The pumpkin is self-padded in the center section only. I stitched the details on the face and the nose, leaving the eyes for later (white rectangle). I left the hair (white rectangles), hat (white triangle), beading on hat White oval) and flower (white circle), skull beading (white oval) and the curly q (white rectangle) on the pumpkin for later. I have not done much applique, so I had to build my confidence up. The beading suggested was not a method I was familiar with so I had to decide whether to learn this or do something else. And the flower I knew how to do but it couldn’t be stitched until the hat was in place.  I stitched the outline of the letter “I” even though the top was not completed. Then I moved on to…

Letter C:  I outlined this letter before I began the details of the stitch design. This is one of the major changes I made to the piece and one of the easiest to stitch. The curves of the spider web were supposed to be beaded, but I didn’t do this. I stitched the spokes of the spider web first with a shiny braid and then couched the curves with the same thread using  a thinner matching thread to couch (I either had both threads in my stash or purchased them). I couched the long line the spider was hanging from last. I used the unstitched picture as a guide but since the entire letter C was stitched in Nobuko, no black lines were showing except the thread the spider was hanging from and the spider and the background had been stitched over these too.  So everything on this letter was surface applied. The spider was supposed to be beads also but I stitched the body in a Cashmere Stitch and later stitched the legs in Bullion knots. I left the stars (white circles) and spider legs (white rectangle)  until later.

Letter K: Another difficult letter. Again stars (white circles) are stitched later. I really had to think about this letter and how I was going to stitch it so I took a few days to live with the letter and look at it closely. By “living with the piece” I mean I leave the needlepoint up in the stand and uncovered, so I can see it while I am working on another piece, sitting down to study the piece, or just walking by the needlepoint. I had to decide the order I wanted to stitch and if I wanted to do it like the stitch guide suggested or whether I was going to add my own stitching to the piece.  I even thought about moving on to the letter “E” but it was also presenting its own difficulties and I wanted to save the letter “D” for last because it was easy. So after living with the piece a few days and really looking at all three letters that were giving me some difficulty (I-K-E), I came to some decisions. I made notes and checked the kit to be sure I had the things I needed and then began to stitch again.

I decided to stitch the bird first.  There were three stitches suggested for him, his head was Basketweave , I did not like the Basketweave on his beak so I stitched long slanting stitches over these to a point for his beak. His body a Cashmere pattern and his tail a straight stitch pattern. I stitched his pretty much as suggested but I did cover more of his body than was suggested because I had decided to make the wing a stumpwork piece. I also couched the black line from tip of his beak to the large eyeball bead using the black braid I had used for the spider web in letter “C”. I left bird’s eye to add later (white square)

The wing took some thinking about but and I decided to do it more like a stumpwork attachment than what was suggested. The suggestion was a second canvas finished like a small ornament and attached along long top side to main canvas by sewing The wing was stitched on a separate piece of canvas, I outlined the wing in satin stitch over a wire that I used later to attach wing to canvas. I also could bend the wing to give it more dimension.  I striped the canvas threads back to the stitching and wove them into the backside and covered these canvas threads with a piece of ultra-suede with an applique/sewing method. The wing was saved to attached later.

The pumpkin is self-padded with the same thread. If this piece had not been kitted I would have used floss or perle cotton to pad but I had a bunch (3 skeins). I outlined the letter but left pumpkin curly-qs, eyeball veins, birds feet and wing application for later (white rectangles and oval).

Letter E: I made more changes here too and even left some elements off. The easy part were the logs at the base of the letter. Before I did anymore I outlined this letter. Next I tackled the caldron; I would have to say the applique of the caldron wasn’t that hard. It is a padded piece of black leather but I did not put the metal handle on the caldron nor the lip of the pot. I didn’t think a handle was necessary and the pot was boiling over so you wouldn’t see the lip. The boiling and steam were a challenge I ruched the Flair for the boiling portion and I tried the technique suggested for the steam but didn’t like the way it looked.  I took it out (what a pain). Since I was trying to cover the painting error; I wanted to be able to manipulate the thread. So I couched long lengths of Flair twisting as I applied for steam.

The flames were the hardest, didn’t care for the fiber given for this, Flair didn’t work so I tried a glitzy ribbon. I stitched Turkey Tufting with glitzy ribbon threads and then frayed ribbon with a sharp needle. I like it better than the other ideas, but I’m still not happy with it. I will say, when I finished stitching this letter the only thing left were to embellish with the stars (white circles).

Letter D: Always good to have an easy part to complete stitching or almost complete stitching. The D and C were the two easiest of the letters. Small bats at top of D were Basketweave and larger bats (lower part of D) were Basketweave faces and Directional Diagonal stitches.  I outlined the letter “D” after I stitched the bats.  I left the stars and eyes of the bats to bead later (white circles, ovals and rectangle).

Next time we will do the embellishing.

Later today I’m off to our first art show of the season and always one of my favorites. I may even get dinner and ice cream.

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

ttfn…sue

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Why do you stitch canvases?

When you buy a canvas do you think what the finished product will be? You should but few of us do. We are impulse buyers and this is good for shop owners but not always wise for us. There is just so much wall space that pictures can occupy. And even though I love my dog to bits, I do not like her using my needlework pillows as her lounging chair. And when are stand-ups & ornaments too many, not to mention where you store them all? So next time you go to buy that canvas, please think about the finished product; what will it be, where will it go, where will you store it if you need to do this and who will get it (if it is a gift)? All good questions and if you can’t answer them, then you might think about another canvas…because we all know that we have to purchase a canvas to maintain our mental stability. And visiting a shrink is more expensive and it will take you too long to get an appointment, so find a canvas you can see finished (someday), you can live with and then by all means… purchase it.

Do you ever buy previously owned canvas? Sometimes these canvases come with threads and stitch guides too. They can be from Susie Stitcher who is no longer as excited to stitch the canvas as she was when she purchased it; it can be from a guide member who is downsizing; or an estate sale of a former member. While I have purchased a canvas or two (less than 6) from an online auction company; I like to buy directly from the original owner, I like the connection to the stitcher.  I prefer to purchase something from a guide member at an estate sale for a couple reasons: 1. It gives that person a portion of her investment back or 2. It reminds me of that guild member who is no longer with us.

I have several of these and each time I stitch one I remember this lovely stitcher and how much I enjoy(ed) her company. This is one of those canvases, and when I got it out to stitch it I wondered how she had meant to finish it. I’m guessing a picture, but I do not know for sure. I asked on Facebook: Needlepoint Nation Group how I should finish this piece (https://www.facebook.com/groups/NeedlepointNation/search/?query=sue%20dulle) and received many responses: bolster pillow, box, black lacquer box, top for a new stitching bag; basket band, top of a chair back, door draft stopper, hat band, eyeglass case, table runner, top of a mirror, tray insert, coat rack inset and a stand up. At first I thought I would learn to make a box, then I thought top of a tote bag or a bolster pillow, but after stitching on it I’m not sure.

The canvas is an older canvas from Melissa Shirley Designs. I think it has been retired; but when I contacted Melissa Shirley Designs (http://melissashirleydesigns.com/)for permission to use photos, she had some great advice for those of us looking for an older canvas. She suggested you contact your local shop and have them check with the designer; they sometimes have a back stock or will be willing to paint a special order. There were at least two others if memory serves me well; one was with a fish and the other I do not 2015-07-06 Barbara pictremember. Thank you Barbara Cohen for sharing one of the other pieces that are in this series. The piece is lovely and I do like the framing too. .  Does anyone remember the other design canvases in this series? Maybe I should check and see if the others in this series are still available… Oh my gosh, I am enabling myself!

This canvas I purchased from a guild members estate was kitted with silks and so I decided to use these…there were some stitch suggestions from the shop that chose the threads but I decided to wing it on my own. First I took a picture of the unstitched canvas. I always try to do this as a reference to the canvas; I print this as a reference only. AND I do not keep them 2015-07-06 MS JB unstitchedafter I am finished stitching and shred these pictures as they are not my designs.

I try to remember to ask permission of the designer to use pictures of the design in my blog too. I’m not always good at this; I guess I think all of you who needlepoint and read my blog are honest. I did contact Melissa Shirley Designs and obtained permission for two of her canvases. And then feeling guilty, I contacted some other designers I plan on stitching and received their permission too.

I Basketweaved all the children’s skin and most of their outfits; the exceptions were the small decorative stitches and they were either Reverse Basketweave, Cross over 2 threads one direction, Cross stitch over 1…whatever fit the area. Their backpacks or ribbons were mostly Diagonal Goblins to fit. I decided to have some fun with the hair and so three of the children have padded, hair, I think they call this Shimada hairstyle [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimada_(hairstyle)]. The second child from the left just had wild hair… Random Straight stitches; while the second child from the right had a more controlled hairdo using Straight stitches in a more controlled method.

2015-07-06 MS-JB shoesThe shoes of the children were a combination of Cross stitches to fit; the heels and straps were Elongated Cross stitches to fit.2015-07-06 MS JB feet & grass

I spent 2015-07-06 bookan evening perusing for a grass stitch I liked. I chose #Grass 27 from Stitch Landscape from Little Shoppe Canvas Company (http://littleshoppecanvascompany.com/books); your local shop should be able to get this helpful little book for you.

Next I am going to stitch the butterfly…and then the background.

I still am undecided about how to finish this but maybe it will come to me as I stitch.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July! Enjoy the rest of your summer…

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

ttfn…sue

Dressed to the nine

Before I begin I want to insert a couple personal comments.

This week Jane over at Chilly Hollow’s blog (http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com/) wrote about my blog. What an honor that was, Thank you Jane. I noticed an increase of traffic to my blog but did not realize what was happening until I read Jane’s blog later in the morning. Needless to say, had I more visits to my blog than ever. Thank you Jane. AND Thank you to all of you who took a few moments to visit and read my blog, I hope you will return.

I also had this comment from Deborah Hubbard from South Africa (it is posted to the blog too) but I thought it worth quoting…

“You might like to know that here in South Africa we use the word (not name, but hey) Toppie (with a long aw sound) for an old gentleman. Usually a pleasant one, but it’s also a good word for muttering under your breath if the driver ahead of you shows signs of strange behavior! Either way, it’s perfect for a leprechaun, and I’m pretty sure he knows that and somehow suggested it to you …”

I did not know this but I’m sure Deborah is correct and Toppy picked his name…he just has that look about him.

Okay back to Toppy…

Last week-end Toppy got duds…His shirt is a windowpane pattern stitched in Continental & Basketweave stitches using linen threads. First a dark green outline was laid and then filled with the white. Notice that the pot of shamrocks is being covered, BUT they  will return (that’s the main reason I take a picture of canvases before I start stitching…at my age I could forget what was there or just because sometimes on larger canvases it takes time to start adding the embellishments.)

His suit is Velvet, so soft but requires a wee bit o’ patience to stitch. Very Velvet threads need to be cut short, really no longer than 12-15 inches…a good quick measuring tool is from fingers to elbow. Use a larger sized needle, this will help open up the holes of the canvas and allow the thread to pass more quickly with less friction. Place the needle a ½ inch onto the thread and DO NOT move around in the needle. The pictures on the right show how thread will wear.  Sometimes the thread will break and then the needle needs to be moved in another ½ inch.

Toppy’s jacket is stitched in Mosaic stitch. Notice the letters on my jacket (A-B-C-D). This was the order my jacket was stitched in case one card of Very Velvet did not allow my entire jacket to be stitched. There did not appear to be a change in dye lots but sometimes these subtle variations do not show up until after stitching is completed. Should a new card have been needed it would have been used in ALL of area D.

There is a psychological reason for this…we read words from left to right and we also usually scan pictures from left to right. If the thread needed to be changed and there had been a slight variance in the dye lot it probably would have be skimmed across and areas C & A would have been the last the eye would have scanned and since they are identical the mind would have dismissed the first B-D variance.

The sleeves are padded Horizontal Gobelins. The padding of the sleeves was done with the Very Velvet but #5 perle coton could have been used for the padding to conserve thread usage. See how the sleeves stand up off the jacket?

The pants are also Very Velvet but a darker green and they are stitch in Diagonal Gobelin. You would also stitch these in a special order if using 2 cards of threads. In this case the two outside areas would be stitched first because when finished they well be adjacent to each other. The two inside areas are separated by other stitches and will show less change.

The ideal thing is to not to run out of thread or to have to use threads from two separate cards. Buy enough thread to stitch a piece at the same time! AND this WILL NOT work for obvious dye lot changes in threads. But occasionally it will happen that you have to use more than one card of a thread and if you cannot use either a needle blending or stitch technique to blend these threads together this is another way to minimize the subtle changes that might occur. This only works IF the dye lot change is hardly noticeable or if you are unsure that the cards were purchased at the same time. Remember not to place two different cards of threads adjacent to each other or where they will touch when finished. Also try to place in the most inconspicuous areas. Toppy’s sleeves would have been the best area to change threads  since the stitch also changes and “the mind” would have probably attributed this small color change to light play on the stitches.

So now Toppy has duds and is feel’n mighty proud…next socks, shoes and a hat, then he’ll get some hair too.

Little long today…but

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

A heart for all

You all are so sweet to read my blog, I want to share a Valentine with you.

I have been reading about Stumpwork: A Beginner’s guide to Stumpwork by Kay Dennis (http://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-Stumpwork-Kay-Dennis/dp/0855328703/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266015043&sr=8-3 )  and A-Z of Stumpwork from Country Bumpkin Publications (http://www.countrybumpkin.com.au/product_info.php?cPath=40&products_id=432817) … Both stumpwork books available at Nordic Needle ( http://www.nordicneedle.com/ ) I am also reading Ann Strite-Kurz  (http://www.needleartworks.com/dsgnr/ask/askimages.htm)  book Stitch Variations and Mutations. I decided to play around with these for Valentines Day and this is one of my results.

 

I made the heart outline on the computer and then stitched it on a 10 inch square canvas, eyeball centering it. I stitched the red and white band down the center using 1 strand DMC #5 Perle Cotton: red (321) and white (blanc) in a Scotch Stitch variation (later will fill some centers with red bead). Then I stitched the left red and white band using the same threads and Scotch stitch in a different variation. I repeated the threads on the right band with still a different Scotch stitch variation with a French knot in the center of four areas.

Next I did the cherries using DMC Floss red (321). First I used a red pilot pen and marked the placement on the canvas, I free-handed mine but you can use the dots on the canvas graph as a guide. I stitched the cherries in the following order: felt padded, thread padded, and basketweave.

Felt Cherry: I attached three layers of felt to the canvas with 1 ply of DMC floss red (321), starting with the smallest and ending with the largest. Over this I placed a layer of stitches going the opposite direction of the last stitches using 6 ply red floss. Then I placed the last layer of stitches over everything. And finally using 3 ply of red (321) floss made the Jessica around the cherry. Remember some Jessica stitches slip under other Jessica stitches.

Thread Padded Cherry: Using 6 ply red (321) DMC floss I stitched the padding stitches going the opposite direction of the final stitches. I stitched the padding stitches twice. Over the padding stitches I stitched the final satin stitches using 6 ply red (321) floss, carefully laying the threads. Around this cherry is another complete Jessica using 3 ply red floss.

Basketweave Cherry: I used 4 ply (You may need 6 ply depending on you tension.) to basketweave a partial cherry behind the thread padded cherry. I also did a partial Jessica around this cherry using 3 ply red floss.

I made the leaves off to the side using a method I found in the Stumpwork books for making wire leaves. I also learned that when you do Stumpwork you incorporate needlelace techniques too. I was too excited to see how the cherries would look, I added the leaves and stems. DO NOT DO THIS…patience is a virtue and it sure makes stitching the background easier if you wait.

All the backgrounds are stitched using 1 strand DMC Flouch .

Upper Left Background: Stitch the background of the cherry area using 1 strand white (blanc) DMC Flouch. This is a Woven stitch stitches in rows from left to right and right to left. I started I the corner where the red and white bands meet.

Upper Right Background: With 1 strand white Flouch I stitched this area with a backstitch starting again in the corner where the red and white band meet. Stitch all the rows in one direction before beginning the rows that are perpendicular to first rows.

Lower Left Background: Traditional Nubuko stitched with 1 strand flouch. My long stitch (over 3) meets the red and white bands in the corner.

Lower Right Band: Decided I need to repeat the green and brown and so in this small area I stitched a reverse Nubuko using 1 strand white flouch for all the long stitches (over 3). The small over 1 stitches are alternating rows of either 2 ply green (890) DMC Floss or 2 ply brown (840) DMC Floss. I started with a green/white row.

Now I would make the leaves…I used two 12 inch pieces of 28 gauge green wire. The center vein is 2 ply green (890) DMC floss wrapped over the 2 wires at the end to make 4ply vein. This 2 ply vein thread should be at least 24 inches long to begin. Do not cut off it will be used later to attach leaves to back of canvas. Over the two wires and the 4 ply vein I wove 3 ply of green floss back and forth from the tip of the leaf to the open ends of the wire. Use a lon-n-ng 3 ply thread and weave snuggly…do not end thread, it will also be used to attach leaves to back of canvas. My leaves are about 1¼ inch long.

Before apply the leaves I made the wrapped back stitches stems using 3 ply brown (840) floss.

I attached the leaves to the canvas by slipping the wires through the front of the canvas to the back. I also placed the extra 4 ply vein thread and the remaining 3 ply weaving to the back side of the canvas.  I secured the wires to the canvas along the stem stitch lines with the 4 and 3 plies of remaining floss.

I was going to place this heart in a red tray, but that won’t work stumpwork does not work well under glass. So now my thought is a box, I would love to find a shinny red one or a picture frame. I can picture both so I will wait and maybe next year it will be finished finished.

Hope these instructions, picture and graph are clear to you should you decide to try my project. I am going to write up the instructions and use pictures and hope to publish on a website that my DH is going to attempt to build for me soon…I hope.

We are expecting more of the white glitter that falls from the sky, BUT I am not going to complain. My best friend’s daughter lives in Alexandria Virginia and she can complain. I talked with her this week and she has 30 plus inches of snow in her yard. She has 2 young sons who no more get outside than they need to come in…”I’m cold…I’m done playing now…I need to get…I gotta go.”  Been there, bought that snowsuit.

But if you are lucky enough to be able to stitch this week-end you might also want to listen to the Gone Stitching blog. I have no monetary interest in this website but I think it is so interesting and such a great addition to the needlepoint community. I found a couple months back and have downloaded 10 episodes to my I-touch but haven’t figured out how I did it so I still have to download the rest. BUT I have listened to every episode and found them all very entertaining and informative. Go to their new website (http://www.gonestitching.net/index.php/?SID=a4vhk4v2dn9541e1pdhhfro1e1 ) and you will see the blog link. There is also a great contest beginning there too. Check it out!

I am not thinking about the snow anymore…I’m just wishing you the warmest of week-ends, great stitching and

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

ttfn…sue