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

Finishing up the Kids and Butterfly

I did finish the couching and am posting from afar…I am still watching nature go 2015-07-28 deerby, but I spoke too soon about our wonderful temperatures. Summer is here with a vengeance; hot temperatures and humidity. Even this doe doesn’t want to move much.  I hope after this week I will be able to finish up some of those half-done projects I have been creatively avoiding.  I like Anne’s term “Creative Avoidance’; if it were a disease (and it may be), I have a terminal case of it!

Couching is fun and it hides a multitude of creative stitches (if procrastination= Creative avoidance then it stands to reason we can also have creative stitching…another thing I am very good at doing)

2015-08- MS JapButterfly  top of head & stringAfter I finished the clouds and sky I added the antenna to the butterfly I decided a Wrapped backstitch was better than couching.

2015-07-28 cording on canvasAnd then on the lower part of the butterfly (red outline) I made a small cording or twist on the canvas and couched it in place. I make my cording or twist on the canvas and DO NOT turn it back on itself, but rather twist until I get the twist I like, I also use a few extra ply or a larger thread since I am not turning the cording/twist back on itself. . I find this much easier that trying to turn it back on itself and getting the proper length I need.  I start couching at the ends brought up through the canvas and stitch toward the open ends of the twist. This way if I need to twist more I can. When I get to within an inch of the ending I plunge the open ends of the cording/twist threads to the back and hold in place under where my couching will continue so I can catch and secure these ends. When I am through couching I plunge couching thread and secure cording/twist even more.

When I laid the cording twist out for the initial placement I realized that I was not going to be able to coil this at the end of the tail so I did a Cross Stitch over 1 thread and then placed a tiny Jessica around this. Then I plunged the cording/twist under this stitch area.

2015-07-28 MS JapButterfly couching aLest you think I was trying to cop-out of couching…all the gold is couched using 0023 Kreinik Japan #1 for the couched thread and Accentuate Gold to couch in place. I like to couch from the outside toward the 2015-07-28 MS JapButterfly couching bstitching. I think it makes for a soother line and I can control those little opps areas that I always seem to have.

2015-08- MS JapButterfly couching orderNotice that when you are couching either the red twist or gold some planning has to go into the placement of these threads. I did the upper red cording /twist before I did the lower red twist. See the picture for the order of placement for the red and gold. And the shorter kite string was couched before the longer one. I even thought of bring the gold back out under the child’s hand and letting it hang free; but decided against this for wear reasons. I did not want it to maybe accidentally get pulled and mess up other couching or just begin to wear poorly and then I would not have rest of couching secured well if I cut it off.

I have decided to frame this piece after all and am not going to stitch the black bands but have it matted in a black mat with a gold bamboo frame. I can see this, just hope I can find the gold bamboo for the framing.

2015-08- MS JapButterfly complered

The Children with a kite was a former guild members canvas and threads and I hope that as Jessie is looking down from her golden cloud in heaven, she likes the way I stitched it.

I have already picked my next piece to stitch another Melissa Shirley Canvas(s) from another former guild member. More about this after I get back…

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

ttfn…sue

Asian Collage…just keeping current

I know these posts are not very long nor real informative but it tis that time of year. I just don’t want to get behind and forget to keep projects updated.

The guide stitch-in was more of a visit-in, I think I took three stitches, BUT I had a great time. Maybe I can remember to take pictures at the next one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI keep stitching on Asian Collage, I hope to have it completed by the first of the year…I would like to have said Thanksgiving but that is not going to happen; and so I am giving myself the benefit of the doubt and hoping for the new year. But I am making progress and I do think from now on it will go pretty quickly…I think all the really difficult patterns are stitched.

I am almost done stitching my Value of Gray pieces and just have the big one left and I think that will have to wait until after the first of the year to begin.

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

Asian Collage Update

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week I showed you my Asian  Collage Class and I have been working on it. Since no one decided to give me their input I decided that I would work what I thought were the more difficult patterns first and let me tell you there is a whole bunch of couching in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthis piece…I happen to like couching but it is time consuming….As you can see I am making progress…

s   l   o   w   l   y .

Saturday I am taking it to a stitch-in with guild friends, we will see how much stitching I get completed there…

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

Classes

Before I forget I want to thank everyone and especially Tapestry Fair (http://www.tapestryfair.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9&Itemid=28) for taking the time to look and respond to the pictures I posted here and on Facebook. The elephant has been identified and does he look cute. If you want to see him just click on the elephant on the home page and all these cute 3-D animals will tempt you.

Do you still take classes? If so what kind: mail order, correspondence, online, local shops, national teachers brought in to shops…to guilds; local, regional or national seminar? I still take classes. I sometimes take them because they are educational, a technique I do not know, and sometime just because the design is fun,  but I also take a class just for the experience of having the teacher. Why do you take a class?

13-11-08 Asian_Collage class picRecently I had the chance to take a Debbie Stiehler (http://debbiestiehler.com/home) class, Asian Collage. Debbie and I have known each other a long time and I have always wanted to take a class from her. Two of my all-time favorite pieces are her Lily (Lily and the Ladybug) and her tomato (Timeless Tomato). Debbie has this upbeat, magnetic personality that makes every student feel like she is Debbie’s new best friend.  Her classes are fun and she has a way of making the most difficult or mundane pattern fun.

I sometimes get what I like to refer to as “brain block”, where no matter what I do it is not the right thing or I just don’t see the pattern, stitch sequence whatever,,, And it has taken me a long time but I know now when these “brain blocks” happen just stop…go back to a previous area and work quietly until the next area is taught. Don’t fight the “brain block”, it will only get worse. Hopefully your brain block does not happen in an area that will keep you from moving on.

If it is more than a one day class, do you go back to your room, home wherever you are and finish the areas that have “spaghetti” hanging; or do you just leave it until after class is over and deal with it then? I have to get as much of the “spaghetti” taken care of as possible and I even try to catch up on the areas I just left blank because of “brain block”. Sometimes if it is not an area that will be affected by other areas I just leave it for a quieter time. At the end of each class removing “spaghetti” is my mission, catching up my goal. Usually make the mission, the goal is sometimes too much for my brain tired fingers and head.

And once class is over, if you are not one of those turbo stitchers who walks out of class with the piece almost finished how do you finish the piece? Do you finish the piece? I must confess that when I first started on this needlepoint journey I though everyone finished every class they took…even those notebook classes. I remember one time showing a teacher the design notebook class I finished (Yes, I even stitched a piece to go with the class) and she very politely looked at it and then told me she didn’t think she’d ever seen a completed notebook of this class before. (I know she taught this class at least a half dozen times). Well no one ever told me that notebook classes usually don’t have a final goal/piece. And I am proud to say that there are only two classes that I have ever taken that I just knew I was never going to finish stitching and broke the kit up and put the supplies in my stash; and I only have three class pieces (including this one) in my “to be finished stash.”

And what about those project or technique class pieces, do you finish them? When I first started taking classes I took the class because of the piece and the teacher, I’m not which was more important, I usually liked both. And then one day the piece was not as important to me as experiencing the teacher…it is sometimes the little nuggets of information that these wonderful needlepoint teachers share, their life experiences and just their wealth of knowledge that are better than which class piece they are teaching. Why do you take classes?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd if you plan on finishing the piece,  how do you finish stitching the class piece once you are in your own stitching nest? I usually start at the beginning of the instructions and follow thru to the last page. I am working on this piece but I am thinking about skipping around and doing what I consider most difficult first. I know the closer I get to finishing a piece the more anxious I get to have the piece completed. So I figure if I’m down to the no brain areas I can whiz right through to the finish.  I’ll keep you posted.

And of course I had to order one of my two other favorite pieces and so I want to start the other Debbie piece that arrived in my mail box last week…like I didn’t have enough to do so I ordered one of my two favorites. I’ll just keep you in suspense until I decide to start it.

One last thing…Debbie is going to retire from circuit teaching ;-(; it will be a great loss to the needlepoint community. She wants to spend more time with her family…and I understand this completely. But if you are one of those lucky ones who will be on her final teaching schedule enjoy and if you want a great piece to stitch visit her website and order a great piece.

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

Books & Desk

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I am still walking on air about my cookbook debut. Still pull it out just to look at it…Can hardly wait until it is in the stores too.
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And then within two days of this three wonderful reviews of my couching book. I have been very pleased by favorable reviews the book has received on the following blogs:
Kreinik Thread Blog- http://kreinikthread.blogspot.com/2013/07/book-review-pattern-couching-and-or-nue.html
Jane at Chilly Hollow- http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com/2013/08/or-nue-book-at-last.html
Janet at Nuts about Needlepoint- http://www.nuts-about-needlepoint.com/two-lovely-designs-to-learn-a-great-technique/

Then I got to thinking, someone had asked or written about on their blog or one of the needlework lists and I’m sorry I don’t remember who…how long it takes a design to become available…Well here is an example. Back in October 2011 I wrote on my blog about Celtic Origins (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/my-project-pattern-couching/) I had written this project for my guild that summer to be taught in the fall 3-4 meetings.
After several had finished or almost finished I received their feedback (the guild was my pilot class) and did some revisions. Then I had a trusted friend, and good stitcher stitch the piece from these revised instructions and then made the minor corrections. Now I felt it was as good as it gets…from experience I know there are other typos and small mistakes and with every printing I try to make these corrections if stitchers let me know the mistakes.
Now, it is the beginning of this year and the Woodlawn show was approaching. So I decided to enter these pieces in this show before releasing the book. And that is history (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/woodlawn-plantation-needlework-exhibit/).
Then I had 5 copies of the book printed to send to mail to the various material suppliers to include in the design files they keep for designers using their products. This is a courtesy I do to let them know I have used their materials in my design; and some material supplies require you send them something every few years to remain on their designer/teacher lists.
After the pieces came back from Woodlawn I had more copies printed and it was on my list of thing to do after vacation to promote the book.
So how long does it take a design to become available? This one took two years and maybe a few months longer. Some designs do not take that long but this was written as a teaching piece and so it has more information than just the two designs. If a design is stitched by a stitcher other than the designer it is going to take longer than those designs that are just stitched by the designer. Stitch guides take about the same time as a teaching piece because usually the stitcher is not the computer graphic person. And sometimes they have to communicate back and forth about what was actually stitched where and when. I would say any design I do, if it is just the design takes at minimum six months (but more like a year) to get from design to print and that is not counting the research, experimenting with stitches and thread, and all the other pre design ( I like to call incubation time) it takes when designing a piece.
But now the book is ready for sale. I would like to find a few distributers but right now the only place you can get it is from me. And NOTE: no website from DH yet ;-(  Maybe this will motivate him too. If you send me an email: sudu@kc.rr.com I will send you an order form.
And this wasn’t even the blog I planned for today…this is
13-08-06 deskOMGosh…you should see my desk top… did I really leave this mess on my desk or did the desk gremlins visit?
Twenty one days of relaxing, no computer unless I wanted to do so, only a cell phone, a good book & wonderful scenery…Yes it happened but now it is but a memory and one that seems to have happened months ago and not just days ago.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have time to stitch today! I will be cleaning up my desk so please take more time to stitch for me too.
ttfn…sue

Woodlawn Plantation Needlework Exhibit

Washington DC is probably the #1 place on my “where I would love to be if I am not at home” list. I have always loved DC since I was a little girl; my best friend says she know I lived there in another time. There is so much history (past and present) there and it has a diverse art community (there is a museum for just about everything). I don’t know how anyone who lives there can say, “There is nothing to do.” … Buy a Washington Post Friday edition..Week-end section (http://www.washingtonpost.com/) and read it …90% of the stuff is free too. My plug for the Nation’s Capital…

I have been to Woodlawn plantation to see the Needlework exhibit a few times. I think this is one of the oldest judged needlework shows in the country and have always thought maybe someday I would enter. I have always thought of this show as one of the premier shows in the country and they always have hundreds of entries (714 this year.) It’s one of those things you always think about but never do.

I had stitched these two pieces for my guild to teach couching. Both these pieces have identical border patterns; each uses different threads, one is on congress cloth and the other is on 18 count canvas and the center couching is different design I wrote a 45+ page booklet on couching  that I will publish later this year, but I had not framed the pieces. The Celtic knot piece was done with Jean Taggart’s Gaelic Gold in mind…I’m hanging them together in my study.  (http://www.needleart.org/Exemplary02/GaelicGold.php And the shamrock was just a natural companion since I had decided to call the project Celtic Origins.

[ED Note: you might recognize the Celtic Knot centers from a couple back posts…I had stitched these twice before stitching the big piece. ]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut this year I decided to take the leap and cross another one of the “tuit”s off my list. It was the 50th Needlework Exhibit at Woodlawn and just seemed like the right time.  So I had the pieces framed, packaged them up and sent them off. I am so glad I did, I won two ribbons (third and honorable mention) but that was just icing on the cake. What was the biggest honor was winning with other needle artists like Catherine Jordon OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(http://www.catherinesdesigns.net/), Kurdy Biggs (http://www.threedles.com/06012011/default.htm), and Susan Elliot (http://plays-with-needles.blogspot.com/)…I have their websites and blogs bookmarked and visit often just to be inspired and drool. I would love to be as free and creative as these ladies.

I would love to have gone and seen the exhibit but time did not allow for it. I am going to have rely on others to post pictures and links to those that are able to put their works online to share with us. Melita posted on her blog about her visit (http://melitastitches4fun.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/woodlawn-roadtrip-2013/) to Woodlawn…I hope she’ll post her pictures soon too. If you have a blog or website and have posted pictures please let me know I will link to you too.

And for those of you in the Washington D.C. area, get out and do something wonderful this week-end…a trip to the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, and museum on the Mall, the cherry trees at Jefferson Monument must be beautiful right now, or just a trip to the zoo…It’s twitter-pated season, so if you go by the zoo, say hello to the Pandas for me. They are my favorites…and don’t forget to be nice to the camels as you pass by…they a jealous of the Panda attention and let you know.

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