Color notebooks: start with gray

“He who works with his hands is a labourer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
– St. Francis of Assisi
Read this on Threads Across the Web blog August 27th, 2013 (

I love this quote…My heart just wishes my hands would work as fast as my head. I can wake up in the middle of the night with either a new idea…or an “ah-ha” moment for a problem that has been bugging me. I have learned that to try and maintain my sleep pattern, a notebook by the side of my bed helps. I just write down the thought and sometimes I can go back to sleep…and well yes other times I just give in and get up and “putz” around the house, computer, or stitching. (a nice lady once told me “putz”…it means “to do”; she also told me to “utz” someone was to give the a joyful dig or pun. So since “utz” is in “putz” I always take a second look at the “putzing” I have done in the wee hours of the day…I need no surprises…I can create those on my own with a good night’s sleep.

And before I forget, Kurdy Biggs sent me a comment and she has posted the pictures of her tote and stitching book to her websight ( and even linked you to her finisher…Now I can go lust and drool over her finishing anytime. They are beautiful.

Can’t believe August is over, seem like it just started a few days ago…but  I did OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAspend August organizing the color and design notebooks. I spent a good deal of time working on just sorting and getting myself more organized in the color and design notebook area ( don’t want anyone to get the idea I went over board and organized my life) These notebooks have long been neglected; they were sitting in the corner of the library just growing. This month I whipped them down to a manageable size…okay so I just cleaned them up a bit. (I am also trying to convince myself that I am a packrat…not a hoarder…you can still walk through my library but it is filling up. After a general clean-up of the growing color and design area I eliminated one computer box of stuff and several piles of growing “I may need this” piles; I feel like I have a grasp on this project now and I am committed to working on this project long term.
When I was in teacher certification you were required to take adult education classes related to art…and this never hurts anyone…you’ll find a bunch at your local colleges and now even online (and in some areas if you are over 55 these classes are free or at least offered at a reduced rate). I was and am a sucker for a color class and so I signed up a few times in different medias…silk dying, watercolor, acrylic…you get the idea.
The one thing that was consistent in all these color classes are the first thing they would talk about is value and most would also start with gray value system because once you understand the value system in grays then value of colors is easier. So I have started with my “The Value of Gray” notebook too. Notice I didn’t say much easier…gray values and even color are greatly influenced by the values or color used together (one color influeces another and this can be very frustrating), the light we live with and our very own color perceptions. My gray OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvalues may be warmer (more to the browns and greens) or cooler (more to the blues) than yours. I may see a different number of gray values between white and black than you do. A value scale can have many grays or just a  few…a good number to strive for is: white, 5-9 values of gray, and black in your value scale. I took a picture of some of the value scales I have collected or made over the years, most have 7-9 gray values.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have started to organize the gray notebook and even planned some of the exercises but not all the stitching exercises. I have folders in the back of the notebook with extra pictures I collect. I have started some of the exercises and have others at least written down. I have also collected the floss for this project and have taken 13-09-04 floss togetherpictures of the floss by brand as well as13-09-04 floss company family by color, even scanned the floss for better color clarifications. This month my goal is to get the gray notebook pretty much completed and ready for a pilot test.
I’m off to gray stitch a value scale or two…Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have time to stitch today!

Starting Color Project

My previous post brought up a project that I have long overlooked and so one of this summer’s projects is to work on my color notebooks. I love color but it is the one thing that intimidates me more than any other element of design. And I really don’t think it is color as much as value of color. I have my favorites and I have those that I shy away from…but what is really interesting to me is those colors I shy away from I have a better time choosing combinations that work. I think I try to force the colors I like to work whereas I just let the others be.
Color NotebooksI am going to make August a priority to get my color notebooks up to date. I have two notebooks; one for value and the other for color.
I know value is an element of color but it is the most important. In all the color classes I have taken value is an important element and in one color class I took, everything we were doing in color we first did in a gray scale before the color rendition.
Another thing I learned in my color classes is everyone sees their own colors. My true red may be your red orange or red violet or even a lighter or darker value than your true red. Everyone should make their own color wheel with a minimum of 12 colors using the medium of their choice (color-aid papers (; paints, inks computer generated, threads). I think before you make a thread color wheel you should make another media so you have something to work from.
My Color WheelsI made my own color wheels on the computer this week and am going to do threads using DMC and Anchor flosses soon. I have several color wheels because I made 4 with shades (gray added) 3 with tints (white added) and 2 with tones (complementary color added).
Not hard to believe since there is more than one color theory. In fact, there are more than 50 color theories and color wheels ( Sir Issac Newton developed the first circular color wheel and his Yellow-Red-Blue theory has been accepted as a standard since 1666. But there are other color wheels and theories: a Red-Green_Blue color wheel is based on light theory and a Cyan-Magenta-Yellow color wheel based on printing theory.
I have several sources for color inspiration; books, magazines, online…but my favorites are my books. Know when you buy a book which color wheel the book is based upon, it will make a difference in its color harmonies. I try to stick with the R-Y-B color wheel since that is what I have grown up using. I like Michal Wilcox’s theory about two color wheels: one cool color wheel and one warm color wheel; I think with threads this theory works well. And I like Stephen Quiller’s theories on mixing colors; I think these help with our thread choices too. Here are some of my favorite color theory books; I have been re-reading some of them to get my mind set for August…
Box, Richard; Color & Design For Embroidery; Brassey’s Inc; Washington, DC; 2000
Edwards, Betty; Color; Jeremy Tarcher, Inc.; California; 2004
Howard, Constance; Embroidery and Colour; B T Batsford Ltd.; London; 1986
Lambert, Paterica, Mary G. Fry, and Barbara Staepelaere; Color and Fiber; Schiffer Publishing Limited; Pennsylvania; 1986
Menz, Deb; Color Works; Interweave Press. Colorado; 2004
Quiller, Stephen; Color Choices; Watson-Guptill Publications; New York; 1989
Quiller, Stephen; Painter’s Guild to Color; Watson-Guptill Publications; New York; 1999
Shipp, Mary D; Color for Embroidery; self published; New York; 1997
Wilcox, Michael; Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green; Rockport Publishers; Mass; 1989

Quilting books are a great color resource too, closest to needlepoint because both are thread and dye based. Some of my favorites are:
Barnes, Christine; Color: The Quilter’s Guide; That Patchwork Place; Washington; 1987
Beyer, Jinny; Color Confidence For Quilters; Quilt Digest; California; 1992
Dobbie, Jeanne; Making Color Sing; Watson-Guptill Publications; New York; 1986
Chijiiwa, Hideaki; Color Harmony. A Guide To Creative Color Combinations; Rockport Publishers; Massachusetts; 1987
McKelvey, Susan; Color For Quilters; Yours Truely Publications; California; 1984
McKelvey, Susan; Light and Shadows; C & T Publishing; California; 1989
McKelvey, Susan; Color for Quilter’s II; Wallflower Designs; Maryland; 1993
Seely, Ann & Joyce Stewart; Color Magic for Quilts; Rodale Press, Inc; Pennsylvania; 1997
Spingola, Deanna; Watercolor Magic; That Patchwork Place; Washington; 1996
Wolfrom, Joen; Magical Effects Of Color, The; C & T Publishing; California; 1992
Wolfrom, Joen; Color Play; C & T Publishing; California

And Beading has some great color inspiration too. Beaders have some of the same color limitations needlepointers have…their media of choice is pre colored and they can’t mix there colors themselves. One of my favorites is Beverly Ash Gilbert’s website ( and her blog ( Beverly is a bead artist and I love to read her blog and look at her beadwork. She has written three books; two are available online (I need to order Artful Color for Creative Projects (; but was hoping she would make it available as a hardcopy soon) Her books are:Beaded Colorways; North Lights Publishers; Ohio; 2009 and Dip Into Color; self published E-book; Washington; 2008. She also has published several color wheels too that are great I own them all. Eye for Color ( are two color wheels; one with tints, one with shades.; and Earthtones and Cool Earthtones ( 4 color wheels based on tones of the color wheel.
And with Margie Deem ( has written three newsletters (two free, one a charge); Ask the Color Queens; online publications ( .I have all three and love the color inspiration.
AND anyone lucky enough to have taken a class from Mary Ellen Searcy learned a lot about color and design. A few of her classes were: Art A’ La Carte; Color Mixing: 5 parts; Watercolour Washing Canvas and Threads. She no longer teaches so you will have to find her works at local guild sales or eBay. Anything Mary Ellen taught was worth taking.
That’s about it for now, I am starting a T-shirt quilting class tomorrow (I’ll keep you posted…quilting has never been my thing), trying to get some dresses stitched for my trip to South Dakota and still do needlepoint stitching too.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have time to stitch today!

Different Threads

Liam…another project stitched… and a disclaimer…If the designer suggests threads I would use them…she probably has spent a good deal of time choosing these threads. That said, let me show you what happens when I don’t follow my own advice.

Anne's piece

Anne’s piece

Anne Stradal ( at ABS Designs ( stitched Liam this way, it is her design.

I stitched my Liam with these threads.

I used the same stitches but I decided to use threads in my stash rather than purchase new ones. I used

My Liam

My Liam

some threads that are out of production but thought they would work.
The only area that did not work for me was the scarf. My thread choice was not variegated enough to make the stitch show direction. The swag of the scarf should show a horizontal direction/pattern while the ends should be a vertical direction/pattern. I will just have to outline the horizontal swag of the scarf to delineate it more.

Anne's in B&W

Anne’s in B&W

mine in B&W

mine in B&W

But for the most part my threads did work; mine are darker thread choices but the values changes are the similar and they work; look at the black & white photos. The jackets are the lightest value with the lapels being slightly darker than the jacket but lighter than the rest. The pants and the next darker value, followed by the scarf and then the outlines are the darkest value. Anne’s has 6 values in her piece and mine only looks like 5 values; my pants and scarf are the closer in value, but both work…Anne’s is just more correct.

Learning to check values in a piece is a good thing to know. You can do this with your phone camera or digital camera (most have a black & white setting) or a copy machine will work too. It is a good tool to use when choosing your threads for a painted canvas. Lay the threads on the canvas close to the areas you will be stitching; take a picture of them using the black and white setting on your camera or lay them on the copy machine to do the same. If the values of the threads are close or right on to the painted canvas the threads will work.
If while you are stitching something doesn’t please you or look quite right, take a black and white picture and check the values of the colors being used. If a color is off it is most likely the value of the color and not the color…the value of the color will either blend with the other choices or stand out as too light or dark. Value choices are the biggest mistake we make when using color.
On a completely different though…I hope all United States citizens have a Happy 4th of July and for those of you across the ponds from us, have a great day. And may we all get to stitch today and all week-end …Thank you for stopping by today!


I’m an “Advocating Inventor”

Want something fun to do whle you are snowed in or it is just too plain cold to go out…try this:

This is my personal color DNA…


You can see that it is just to cold to do anything here…I am playing on the internet when I my fingers can’t stitch or I can’t take a third nap of the day for fear of being declared senile or dead.

Hope everyone has time to stitch today (and stay warm)!  ttfn…sue

April TIF

I probably should not be doing this today but I’m afraid if I don’t I will be next week before I can get back here. I think my grey mood is directly related to our weather…Who would have thought it would get cold again in late April…I am really tired of cold weather. Luckily and hopefully, it is not going to damage the foliage.

Anyway, I struggled with this months TIF, almost did not do it. I was expecting a color scheme of bright or pastel colors…after all we in the northern hemisphere are thinking spring and warm weather. Had to change my mind set and work with what was given. Change is a sometimes difficult especially if if goes against your grain or mind set. I decided that even though changecan be difficult it is worth a try especially on the TIF. I have thought of these TIF projects as something that should be quick and fun. Simulating, mind stretching but not overwhelming or mind boggling.

April TIFSo I incubated…then because of another project I am following I decided to make a color card using these colors ( Note: since we all perceive color one way and our computers display colors differently these colors may not agree with other TIF participants) I did take the RGB percentages and entered them into my color program so I think these colors are close. Then I lived with this card for a few days and came up with a few ideas to explore.

I have chosen for the time being to continue to make Temari Balls even though I am a needlepointer at heart. I have known how to make Temari Balls for a long time and have made a few a year but this year I wanted to really get back in the swing (change) and fine tune my skills at this art. And I think the only way to get better at something is to practice, practice, do do. So the media again is Temari  (no change here).

My first Temari Ball was as close to the original colors as my mind set could get. While stitching this ball I thought about Sharon and all of you in the Southern Hemisphere who are entering the fall and winter seasons. I am glad I live where there is a change of seasons, each season has it’s own beauty.


But then I had to do a second Temari Ball to change my thoughts back to spring. I used the same family of DMC green to link the balls together.

You can see all the pictures:

Next week is guild meetings and family business hope I get stitching time in somewhere. And most of all I hope the Mother nature decides to blow her warm breezes our way and turn our world into full blossoming spring.


Time gets away from me

No matter how I try I seem to forget about writing a blog. I was never a journal writer or diary keeper, so blogging is going to be a difficult task for me. And even once I start to write, it takes me forever to get my thoughts down. I am a verbal person not a writer.

I have finished my February TIFs and have posted them. I am going to try and put together a “how-to” for temari but it will be brief. There are many good web sites out there and I will mention two and then from there anyone can dig deeper into this great art. 

February color palette  Temari 080215   Temari 080216  Temari 080217  Temari 080217b

I liked the color palette for February, but then I can’t imagine a color palette I will not like. This is a complementary color scheme and one of my favorite color schemes. I had lots of ideas but decided to stay with Temari Balls because they are quick and easy and that’s what I think these challenges should be. When I first read about this challenge I wanted something that would stimulate my imagination, inspire me and that not necessarily require a finished project.  I have always thought that a group to brainstorm  would be stimulating and rewarding.  I love looking at the interpretation of the month’s challenge and reading how these challenges have been interpreted.  A challenges need to stimulate your imagination, keep your imagination working and even give you food for later thought.  I have several ideas also for needlepoint, but my incubation of a needlepoint design is longer than Temari balls, therefore my goal is to keep doing temari balls as monthly projects.

The other part of the TIF challenge for February was “What I am old enough remember”…

I think this challenge should have said “What I am old enough to admit to remembering.”; but I think I am secure enough in myself to admit that I remember our first TV. We had one of the first TVs in the neighborhood; it was a black and white set in a big mahogany piece of furniture. The piece of furniture was nicer than the TV, the picture tube might have been 13-15″ but the furniture was at least 4 feet high and 3 feet square.  I remember watching the test pattern and thinking it was a great design.  I remember running home from grade school to watch, Howdy Doody, Hopalong Cassidy, and the news. TV was one station and I don’t think it was aired more than 6 to 9 hours a day when it first started. I remember lots of highs and lows of early TV, remember many programs were live. When TV became color TV, we had one of the first in our neighborhood also.  I remember one of the neighbor girls just sat there and stared at the color TV and when I asked her why, her reply left me wondering if this girl every looked at anything. She was watching a commercial and said, “The Folger’s (coffee) can is red.”  No kidding, it always has been red! I remember thinking I must have a vivid imagination because I visualized clothes in color before color TV and sometimes I liked my visualizations best. I still enjoy watching old black & white movies and I still visualize in color. Sometimes I will see an old movie that has been colorized and will think “That’s not the color I visualized.”…color is truly subjective

I also remember my grandmother kept coloring books and new crayons in the hall closet of whatever house we lived in. When I was small it was always a treat to have her get a new coloring book and a new box of crayons was a true gift. She always had the biggest box of crayons available. I don’t every remember not coloring every page, nor do I remember subject coloring books (Barbie, movies, etc) they were themed (farm, princess, Mickey Mouse and friends, etc). They seemed much simpler and certainly had no dot to dot, puzzles…I remember when  coloring book was a coloring book.  I still enjoy a coloring book and especially when you can find one that is simple and fun.

 I also remember …

The treadle sewing machine (learned on this) that I could make run as fast as the new electric one we had.

Angel Food Cake meant 13 egg whites and not Pillsbury, Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker.

Dial phones and a voice on the other end when the phone was answered.

Mail and milk was delivered to you front door…hucksters with fresh fruit and veggies came by…and bread was delivered too.

…when life seemed simpler, and certainly less scary.