Saturday, November 15, 2008

Needlepoint Cowgirl Boots

Having just finished a large Halloween canvas, I wanted to work on a small and quick project. I raided my stash of pre-store ownership canvases and found these two Cowgirl boots. I had a blast stitching them—I finished them in 3 nights in front of the television (HGTV, the DIY Network, the Food Network and NCIS). These canvases will be my girls’ ornaments for 2009—I’m from Texas and they have cuzzins there.

The blue boot has stars of glow-in-the-dark Kreinik because it’s fun and it was the perfect turquoise match. I stitched the blue boot top in the Parisian stripe using Ultra Shimmer. The leaves are stitched using the Nobuko stitch (one of my go-to stitches) and Fiesta (only because I had a card of it on hand…ick). The black part of the boot is criss-cross Hungarian using Petite Very Velvet and Kreinik #12 in black. I was going for the effect of an exotic leather. Real boots are made with all sorts of interesting textured leathers, including ostrich. The toe is a Byzantine variation stitched with overdyed Kreinik. The tab is a Rhodes stitch done with Petite Sparkle Rays.

The red boot features a lot of basketweave dressed up with Coronet Braid, Kreinik braids and Renaissance threads. The red top is stitched with Snow using alternate vertical rows of Gobelin over 2 and over 1. For the bottom of the boot, I ignored the shading and stitched the Diagonal Hungarian ground using 2 different shades of Trebizond silk Perle. I experimented with Herringbone Gone Wrong for the tab, trying for a plaited suede effect, but after several tries, I went back to the tried and true Rhodes.

Chris commented that I put a lot of glitter on these canvases, but I think if they are going on the Christmas tree, they should sparkle. These are now available on our website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's Done!

Using graph paper, I worked out a variation on the Cashmere stitch for the foundation. I altered the orientation of the stitch slightly for the orange and brown squares (okay, this may be too subtle to matter, but I liked it). The squares stitched up like a dream—2 ply of Impressions stitched using a laying tool.

The moon is stitched using 2 colors of Flair and a giant brick stitch. I carried that stitch throughout the background sky. For the 3 areas of clouds that stretch over the moon, I switched from Flair to a cotton floss in an exact matching blue and used 2 ply of the floss. I almost threaded Kreinik glow in the dark braid through the center of the yellow Flair for a custom Frosty Rays, but decided that the few minutes of enjoyment I would get from the effect when I turn out the lights didn’t justify the bad language that would accompany the process. But hey, don’t let me hold you back!

The remainder of the sky is stitched in 1 ply of cotton floss in a duskier blue and 1 ply of Splendor in a dull gray. Because this is similar to a darning stitch (you would see any additional threads from the back,), I was careful to begin and end the threads in nearby solid areas. Also, I made sure I anchored the threads well—since this will be a pillow, I don’t want any threads to get caught and pull free. I toyed with the idea of leaving the sky unstitched because the painting is so eerie and beautiful, but in the end, I couldn’t do it.

The fence was stitched using Wildflowers, an overdyed cotton from the Caron Collection (life’s too short for shading) and Grandeur for the dark brown areas. I chose 2 ply of Wildflowers and used the appropriate sections of color to match the weathered wood. The bats are stitched with Petite Very Velvet, making sure not to allow any loose threads from starting and stopping, as these would show through to the front. The tree branches are stitched in stem/outline stitch using Perle Cotton #5. I have to admit I was a snob about Perle Cotton, but I have come to appreciate its uses.

The leaves were stitched in combinations of Soy Luster, Weeks overdyed floss, and Splendor. I was careful about starting and stopping these areas, too. I played around with different free-form stitches. Some worked better than others, but I think each needlepoint project is a learning piece. (And my good friend Linda has pounded the phrase “What, are you nuts???” into my head when I say I am going to rip something out. Life is too short for negative work and I have learned to leave a stitch in and think about it before I take it out.

The spider web is a silver Kreinik #12 braid couched down with one ply pulled from a length of the same Braid. Using a portion of the same thread to couch means that they will match exactly and you don’t have to buy a matching filament. I thought about using a #8 braid, but I decided that I wanted the spider to stand out a little more. The spider is stitched using bullion knots for the legs and a drizzle stitch (couched down) for the body, using the black Perle Cotton.

Have fun stitching!

The Big Witch

This witch is the star attraction—she’s just a bit creepy because she seems to be the only one who is not quite human.

Her dress was stitched in the Mosaic stitch using 3 colors of Burmilana. The original painted canvas has touches of blue here and there. Rather than try to stitch those areas exactly, I blended a blue and brown tweed Burmilana with a brown Burmilana and alternated it with Mosaic squares of just the brown color. I used a darker brown Burmilana for the dark folds of the dress. For the patches, I appliquéd felt over the canvas.

Her socks gave me a chance to try the Diagonal Knitting Stitch. I like having her wear her fancy boots with rough wool socks

The witch’s hat was great fun—I loved watching the plaid unfold. Using 2 shades of Splendor, I stitched the plaid stitch over 3 for the brim and over 2 for the top. The hat was painted with pretty serious shading, and I think life is too short for complicated shading!

The broom was stitched in random long and short using Alpaca 18 and Rainbow’s flax thread. I used a larger needle than usual for 18 mesh to keep the canvas from distorting.

The staff is a very cool stitch called Raised Stem Stitch Band. It involves looping Grandeur over a horizontal framework of threads from top to bottom. Each vertical woven row is pushed tightly to the side to allow the staff to have a higher profile. This is diagrammed on page 58 of Even More Stitches for Effect.

Little Ghost

This little guy is pretty simple. I stitched the eyes using 3 ply of Splendor to allow them to recede. The patches are, again, felt appliquéd over the canvas.

I played with the shape of the right shoe a little bit—the sheet and shoe outlines didn’t work for me. The shoes (I’m thinking Converse sneakers—can you tell I love shoes?) are stitched in Velour and Petite Very Velvet. I use white Petite Very Velvet often, but it does shed white ‘dust’ so I try to stitch that area first. Otherwise I use a very soft toothbrush to brush the debris away.

I had to stitch this Goblin in the Encroaching Gobelin stitch; the play on words was too hard to avoid.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Young Frankenstein

We call our two computer terminals at the store Frank (for Frankenstein) and Igor, so I definitely have a soft spot for this guy. The mask hair is made of bullion knots using 4 ply of Splendor; the mask bolts are the same orange Kreinik used for Dracula’s bag stitced with cross stitches. The boy’s hair is stitched with Rainbow Tweed in an Interlocking Gobelin over 4 stitches.

I wanted to give the coat a quilted effect (we always want our children to stay warm on Halloween night). I used 3 shades of Splendor and a Staggered Cashmere stitch. His pants are stitced using the Corduroy stitch, appropriately enough—he is a well-dressed little monster. His trick or treat bag is stitched with a background of the Mosaic stitch. The cat is stitched with black Fuzzy Stuff with glowing orange eyes. I used my curved scissors to trim the Fuzzy Stuff and allow his eyes to show. (I think this cat and the “real” one are exchanging glances).

For young Frank’s feet, I used Petite Very Velvet for his shoes (I think they are Birkenstocks) and 3 strands of Splendor for his socks. My favorite scissors are my curved tip scissors. Not just for trimming turkey work, they let you get close the canvas for trimming threads without as much of a risk of damaging the canvas as straight scissors.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dashing Count Dracula

Dashing Count Dracula stitched up in no time—I think he has a crush on the little witch.

The turned-up collar is stitched with Neon Rays in an Upright Slanted Gobelin over 2 rows. I think it makes the underside of the collar look quilted. I didn’t like the way the trick or treat bag, pants leg and open spaces looked, so I squared up the sides of the bag. I used one of the ‘new” solid Kreinik colors for the orange on the bag.

I stitched the cape with Petite Frosty Rays 821 using the Damask Stitch. The glitter in the thread and the angle of the stitch give the cape the proper sense of movement. When stitching with any thread like Flair, Frosty Rays and the like, use shorter lengths, cut the end at an angle (this cuts down on unraveling) and use a laying tool.

The finishing touch for Count Dracula’s cape is a Rhodes stitch in Shimmer Blend Ribbon for the clasp.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cute little witch with red hair

I actually started stitching this character first. I think she is so cute—and I love that she is the only character looking at the full moon.

Her hat is composed of upright crosses in Kreinik #12 braid. The band is also Kreinik #12 braid in 2 colors—the purple stripes are basketweave and the orange ones are long upright crosses to give the band more depth.

Petite Peluche in two colors using a random long and short stitch creates her hair. The vest is simply Petite Very Velvet in a basketweave stitch with gold braid buttons in the cross stitch.

Her skirt is one of my favorite parts of the piece. I stitched the highlights with Kreinik light lavender using the tent stitch. Then, using a Kreinik braid appropriately called “Brocade”, I stitched the skirt in a diagonal cashmere stitch, reversing the slant for the other side. The picture doesn’t do it justice—the effect is truly the look of a glistening brocade. (I had originally tried the diagonal cashmere stitch on Dracula’s cape, but the angle of the stitch did not match the angle of the cape.)

For the entire piece, I referred to the 3 volumes in the “Stitches for Effect” series, books I consider essential to my needlepoint library.

My tools included stretcher bars and Japanese tacks, my floor stand, a Dazor magnifying light, laying tool and the Bugz Eye.

Tip: when thread ends come to the surface with the thread you are using, take a needle threaded with Kreinik braid and go through that hole from front to back. The Kreinik catches the loose thread and magically pulls it to the back side.