More on 1st Communion crosses

I have done three 1st Communion Crosses, each is a bit different, but I still planned them all out on graph paper before stitching.

 

 

 

 

 

I plan out on graph paper the name and design before I begin stitching. I use an alphabet that is 9 stitches high for uppercase and 5 stitches high for lowercase letters. Whatever method of framing you decide to use, your design MUST be planned on graph paper.  Plan your design out first on graph paper, remember to allow for open space around the design area I usually figure 5 threads on each side for this type of design….although you usually are going to get extra space by choosing a standard mat..

I count the lines of the graph paper (each line represents a thread of canvas)  and divide by the needlepoint canvas thread count to see what type of design I might be able to use; i.e. square or rectangle. This will also let you know if you can use a pre-cut mat and frame (my favorite). If I had a long name  I might consider making a rectangular piece from the start

For example: a name like Christopher Robin is long…by my quick calculations this rectangle stitching would need minimum 87 by 105 threads. This translates to 87 divided by 18 count canvas equals 4.8333 inches of 5 inch opening and 105 threads divided by 18 count canvas equals 5.833333 opening or 6 inch opening , Since standard mats usually are 5 x 7 inch openings. I would be look for a shadow box frame with a precut mat with a 5×7 inch opening or find a frame I liked and have a 5 x 7 inch mat cut to fit the frame.

The best method is to have your piece stitched when you go to look for the frame. If you are lucky you will find a precut mat and frame; otherwise you may have to have a mat cut to fit a premade frame. But remember sometimes this still does not work and you are going to have to bite the bullet and the piece custom framed. EDNOTE: If you are planning to  enter a piece to be judged, then you MUST have the piece custom framed. …There are framing rules too, maybe not rules but guidelines or ratios of mat size to frame size…Your framer will know these, I don’t; I just know if I like the way it looks matted and framed.

 

Other things I did to make stitching easier for me:

I tent stitch the grape areas first. This gives me an idea how they will look and it is easier to remove tent stitches than it is French or Colonial knots. Then when I stitch the grapes if I am using an overdye I use the puddle stitch technique to stitch the knots. I learned this from John Waddle years ago and blogged about it once but I will repeat it since it was years ago that I wrote about puddle stitching.

Puddle stitch method:  

I do not cut the overdye thread in this instance (some overdyes are pre-cut but the method is the same.)

Here is a graphic of a length of an overdye thread; I have numbered each segment with an arbitrary number of stitiches (10-8-12-6-etc…). Notice that there are three circled 10’s; these are the beginning of the repeat. The numbering has no significance in puddle stitching other than to show the repeat and the number of stitches I arbitrarily assigned to each area.

The next graphic shows this overdye thread stitched in Continental Horizontal rows (top left), Basketweave (bottom left) and then puddle stitching on the right. I attached the sequence numbering to all these so you could compare to the first graphic and follow he sequence of stitching. The puddle stitching is a bit hard to follow but you can and there is no method to this it is just a random thing.
Puddle stitching is nothing but a group of stitches randomly placed together to form a puddle of color. You could call this method a glob, blob, whatever you choose to call it…but then it would have to be glob stitching, blob stitching and I like puddle stitching best. Remember this is not my technique I learned it from John Waddell (http://johnwaddellneedlepoint.com/index.html)  in his Fun with Overdye class.

If this has confused you more I am sorry but just drop me note and I’ll see if I can do better or take a class from John, he’s really good or maybe your local shop can help you.

Making a twist:

I sometimes make a tiny twist of usually 2 ply floss to be the stem of my flowers or in this case wheat.

I showed how to make a twist here: (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/all-twisted-up-making-cording/) and this twist is the same but it is only an 18 inch length of thread so I usually just twist between my fingers.

Once the twist is make I use a larger needle. I thread the twist into this needle to start stitching. I bring the twist to the front of the canvas leaving the knot on the backside…I know the rule about knots and needlepoint but there are exceptions to every rule.

I’m showing you the back of the my stitching because that’s where all the work can be seen! The free form shape in picture is my beginning knot. The rectangle is the line I couched the twist on the front with second needle using 1 ply floss. And the circle is a picture of how I end this twist.

Ending the twist depends on if there is enough twist to use again. If there is enough twist to use again make two overhang knots as shown in picture and cut between them. This will help keep the stitched twist from becoming lose and it also keeps the remaining twist, twisted. If there is not enough twist to use again just make an overhand knot and clip, leaving the knot on your canvas.

 

Over the years I have stitched three 1st Communnion Crosses and I have a PDF version of the first cross instructions but have also included information on all three in this newly revised edition. If you are interested, email me (sudu@kc.rr.com) your email and I will send to you a copy; be sure and put 1st communion in subject line or it might go to my junk mail.

I think that’s it for today…but I did score a major coup this week and I’ll tell you more about that next week…

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

ttfn…sue

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1st Communion: Number 3

Another deadline met…

After I left my blog post last week I went into design and stitch mode. I have already stitched two other canvases for her brothers but I wanted this one to be a bit more feminine. I also wanted it to fit into the same frame as the others because it comes with a pre-cut mat and all I have to do it stitch and frame. The first one is here: https://sudukc.wordpress.com/category/project/first-communion/

And the only difference between the first and second was the size of the cross. I’ll share more about these three crosses next week when I can think a bit clearer. So please wait to ask me for the PDF version until next week so I can tweak the instructions.

First I re-designed the cross and then I auditioned threads…

 

some made the final cut others did not…And the threads that made the cut don’t always get the job but at least they are around if needed.

 

I made some notes, marked the center of the canvas and began stitching.

 

I made a template of the opening size of the mat so I can make sure the lettering fit…If it didn’t, I would have started over. I stitched the cross first, and then made sure the lettering was going to fit around the cross and within my template dimensions. I was stitching the lettering, going along just fine until I stitched the last side. I needed to move the stitching out one more row. Frog stitching…ugh! Lucky I start in the middle and work to an edge. Trust me this was just luck but to be on the safe side I did leave out a space between day and year and when I stitched April I was prepared to scrunch the letters here too.

 

I used the template to be sure the lettering was going to fit my opening. Yeah it does and so now I was on to the wreath design around the cross. Again I made a round template for the wreath and basted a curve in each quadrant. I started with the hosts and once they were in to my satisfaction, I started with the lower right quadrant…added the grapes to one quarter, then the wheat. I did the second quarter and then finished the other two at the same time, first stitching the grapes, then the wheat.

Again, I was not the brightest light bulb in the package. Somewhere in the back of my design training I remember someone telling me that if you are right handed and you are trying to do mirror images, it is easier to start with the left side and then finish the right side. Has something to do with your brain and the your predominate hand…the coordination factor. Needless to say I hadn’t done this for the first two quadrants

 

Once my finishing was completed I needed to frame the piece. Since I stitch on a frame, I had little distortion and I didn’t need to block the piece. So first I cut the piece to the size of the mat and then I trimmed away more to give me room to add a lining fabric behind the canvas. I also cut a lining fabric the same size as the needlepoint canvas.

 

I use double faced tape, I buy it at the art store and it is archival safe. First I apply the tape next to the mat opening, I removed the protective covering and I place it over the needlepoint centering as I went. Once I am satisfied with the placement I finger press in place. I apply a second round of double sided tape around the edges of the needlepoint canvas and place the lining fabric over this, pulling the lining taut as I go. I finger press the lining on the tape, trim if necessary and then I place

archival art tape over the edges to finish off and hold all in place. I place the matted design in the frame and now all I need to do is wrap for Sunday.

 

Finished by the skin of my finger.

 

Next week when I have a little more time I will give you some details of how I stitched this piece and also ideas on how to design your own piece.

 

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.  I am stitched out; so I am going out to enjoy the spring weather we are having, it’s not supposed to last. Last Sunday we had snow…nothing much but it was cold. I was stitching so it didn’t bother me, but this week has been nice and then it is supposed to snow again Sunday…what’s with Sundays and snow in April?

 

ttfn…sue

Mom & Me: More Flowers

I can hardly wait for the REAL flowers to bloom. I know they bloom quicker and with more ease than this border has blossomed! Yes, you can hear I am a wee bit frustrated but I think I have the hybrid in the pot now. It took me the better part of the week-end to get these flowers to the place I want them but I think I have it now and all that’s left to do is stitch them. 14-03-26 Mom&Me Mst flower centerIf you notice in the center diagram all the stitches are over 4 threads. And most of the purple threads (purple lines) are stepped 2 threads up or down. The exception are the red parallel boxes where I made a mistake on the far outer purple stitch on the top left and only stepped up 1 thread so on the right I did the same (that makes it not a mistake but a planned stitch 😉 ) Then when I stitched the dk purple stitches (black lines) I decided that stepping up or down by one should be continued (this is called artistic planned mistakes) and so all the red parallel boxes are only stepped up or down 1 thread. I also do not straight stitches over a single thread and so the red ovals are stitches I make 1 thread longer over 5 threads (an artistic planned moment). 14-03-26 M&Mst flower all

I had thought the couter stitches should be over 2 but then decided that over four would be quicker. NOT, I tried stitching them over 4 threads and did not like …so-o-o-o I frog stitched them and went back to the over 2 threads. I liked this better and so after I stitched the left side I computed the stitches and then stitched the right side. Sould not listen to that left brain while designing! The black ovals are the compensating stitches I made to avoid the dreaded over 1 compensating stitch.

If my sample is any indication and I make no other creative stitches I think the flowers are 14-03-26 M&Mst flower 2going to work. I have started at the center and am stitching one flower and then I will work either to right or left and the far outside flowers will fall where they may…I think if my counting is correct and I have no creative moments I could be very close to having half flower units on either side…

14-03-26 M&M tulips allThank you for stopping by this week and I hope you have time to stitch every day! ttfn…sue

Betty Chen Louis

I am breaking one of my personal rules about commenting on another teacher’s work, especially when I had a small part in its production. I am doing this for two reasons:

#1.  I want to give those of us who do not design an idea of how long it takes a concept to go from rough draft to completion. This is but a small part of the design process.

First is the “Idea phase”; this can be as crystal clear as Stuben Glass (http://steuben.com/index.cfm?&loc=GAWOS1)  or just a vague concept and may take a an hour, day week or month(s).

Next is the “Incubation stage”, this is another time variable; it can be long and arduous or short and to the point. This phase is the “what if” phase. What if I try this technique with this thread? 

Next is the “Execution phase”; this is the one that where you pick chose and try the threads and stitches you have visualized in the “Incubation stage” and hope they work without a hitch. How long does this take…until the designer/teacher is happy with her work.

Next is the “Planning Phase” and I like to tell teachers/designers this should be done in conjunction with the “Execution phase”.  Write down (“Planning Phase”) what you do in the order in which you do it (“Execution phase”.) It helps the designer teacher remember what she/he did when they go to write their instructions and it makes the graphic editor’s job easier too.  If instructions are written as we go about the same time as “execution phase”…If not add an extra week or two.

“Production phase” is when the teacher instructions, student handbook or stitch guide is written, proofed, re-written, re-proofed until it is as good as the teacher/designer feels it can be. This phase also includes photos of the project. Somewhere in this process the teacher/designer usually pilots the piece…tries teaching or allowing someone to stitch the project with the written instructions. Then usually there is more rewrite. Then it is off to the printer…This is about 2 to six months or longer depending on the size of the project.

Even after it is completed at the printer it may take longer to reach you the stitcher…If this is a project that has been submitted as a teaching piece for one of the four major stitching venues; ANG (http://www.needlepoint.org/index.php), Calloway Gardens,  EGA (http://egausa.org/), NAN (http://www.needleart.org/ ; it may not be released until after it has been taught at the event and depending on the popularity of the piece may be chosen by another event and even local guilds.

So, by the time this piece reaches you as a class piece or even a retail piece, it could be a year or years. Remember this when you take a class or buy a “new piece” and one of the threads on the materials list has been discontinued. Your local needlepoint shop or the teacher will usually have a suggested substitute handy.  

So with this in mind, remember in  Jan 2009 (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2009/01/30/17-days-later/ ) I mentioned great things were coming….it has arrived (http://www.gayannrogers.com/site_2/Small_Cityscapes_For_Sale.html) . Betty Chen Louis is releasing a design and is going to also teach online at Shinning Needle Society (http://www.shiningneedlesociety.com/ ).

See how long it takes for a project from just the planning phase to today!

#2. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON:

In my opinion, Betty Chen is one of the greatest teachers in the needlepoint art community. What an opportunity! I so agree with Gay Ann Rogers:

(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SNS_Lounge/message/1620) “I think Betty is the mistress of line and color and if you look at her work you will see why she holds the title. Betty is all about subtlety and transition, about the flow of line and the organization and use of space in a design.”

(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SNS_Lounge/message/1622) “Here is another opportunity to see more work by the person I think is the best designer/teacher now working in my world of needlework, so don’t miss the opportunity to study her sense of line and color.”

And since I have been compensated and will receive nothing more than the satisfaction and pride of knowing that I was asked to be a small part of this endeavor I am going to extol her greatness shamelessly. I was privileged (And I do mean privileged!) to be asked by Betty Chen to assist her in this project; I was but a drop of sand in this very creative process. I have been needlepointing for well over 40 years and have been a member of the stitching organizations for better tan 20 years. I have known Betty for many years and have always been in awe of her creativity and knowledge.  I have signed up for two of Betty’s classes and got sick one time and was in the middle of a house remodeling the second and so when Betty asked me to help with this project I jumped at the idea.  I even shamelessly suggested I should stitch the project as I did the work. Betty agreed and I was very privileged to receive one on one instruction if I needed.  I would just ask a question to hear her talk.  If you have the time, do not miss the chance to take this class online at Shinning Needle Society (http://www.shiningneedlesociety.com/ )…the only thing better is to have her live in a class! Betty is truly one of the Masters of Needleart, a truly gifted artist, and just a wonderful person at heart.  

And check out Gay Ann’s website (http://www.gayannrogers.com/site_2/Home_Page.html) to see more of Betty Chen’s fabulous work.

Okay, now I broke my rule, BUT it is my rule and I can break it for greatness.

ttfn…sue

P.S. Here are my hearts…I love them! They are a cherished memory of my brief time with greatness.