Saturday, February 28, 2009

Needlepoint Peasant Dress

I just finished the canvas featured in a class taught by Amy Bunger at Market. Her stitch guide introduced me to some new threads and accessories and I thought I would share my thoughts with you.

There were three products from Gloriana—a 13mm silk ribbon, Lorikeet and Princess Perle Petite. The ribbon was used to make the rose at the top of the dress. 13mm ribbon is hard to find and this ribbon is hand-dyed. I liked the effect of the ribbon worked with the colonial running rose stitch. The ribbon was very thin, but I think it has to be for a use like this. Lorikeet is a 9 strand overdyed wool thread; Amy used two strands for the woven stitch she called for. I liked the thread—it didn’t shred or pill, and you can clearly use any number of strands from the thread. The Princess Perle Petite gave me fits—it reminded me of Patina in its slipperiness and was difficult to work with. I would substitute Trebizond or Grandeur for the Princess Perle Petite.

I used Silk Lame’ Braid from Rainbow in two colors. This is a silk, rayon and polyester braid with sparkle that works on 16 to 18 ct canvases and on 13 to 16 ct canvas if you are using a long stitch. I liked this thread—it didn’t shred or split and was easy to handle. The range of colors is good and it’s fun to use something relatively new.

Vineyard Silk in two colors was called for in the stitch guide. This silk is beautifully and evenly dyed; it doesn’t shred or pill. One strand (as is) provides full coverage on 18 ct canvas--the manufacturer says that it can be used color-on-color on 13 or 14 ct canvas, but I didn’t think it covered well enough. I loved stitching with it so much that I am adding the entire classic color line to my store.

My absolute favorite new products were the 4mm hot set Swarovski crystals and the electric tool to set them. The 4mm crystals cover 4 stitches in a box shape. After setting the crystals, I tried like mad to pull them off—no chance. This is my new favorite thing—I’m going to try smaller crystals for the stars on my current Tapestry Tent Christmas stocking. And of course, I’m adding them to my store. They are super-easy to apply and the effect is wonderful. You just need to make sure that you are covering all the threads with the crystal before you let it hot set. The applicator heats to a cotton setting and it doesn’t melt or burn the adjacent threads. What a great way to add bling to canvases!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pay attention in needlepoint class

I had the pleasure of taking an all day class at market taught by Amy Bunger. With a class filled with a noted needlepoint author, nationally known teachers and shop owners, she moved at great speed. My head was spinning when we broke up after the morning session.

One of the many tips that Amy gave related to the green and black band on this Pretty Peasant Dress canvas. Although I heard it, it didn’t register again until I stitched the band at home. The red scissors on the right show the wrong way to work a satin stitch around the black squares. The stainless steel scissors on the left show the right way to work the stitch.

On the right you can see that I stitched across the corners of the squares, thus clipping or rounding the corners. The right way to stitch around the squares is to end the satin stitch in the corner of the square and begin another one in the corner of the square, splitting what would be a long stitch into 2 or 3 sections.

And now it’s time for me to go back and rip out a few stitches….

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Noel" part 4

Finally, the cuff, where I really hated the stocking. This was the last section I worked on. I tried a number of different background stitches in the outside margins, but they either let too much of the white canvas show or they drew attention away from the main design. I settled on Basketweave (boring) in a paler blue from the same family as the sky colors. I loved the lettering, but when I stitched it with Kreinik, it faded away. I then stitched over it with the Ribbon Floss I used for the sleigh. This was a little better, but the lettering still faded away, especially at night. In frustration, I picked up the #4 Kreinik I used to couch the braided trim and outlined each letter…and now I am back in love with the stocking.I have one last step to complete. I have decided that I want my stockings to be passed on through the family, so I have stopped putting names on the cuff. Instead I will stitch a name or monogram tag that coordinates with the stocking. I started with my own stocking—that way no one has to name the cat or dog Michele. (Heaven knows there won’t be any grandchildren named for me!)

My favorite words of advice from Brenda Hart are that you need to step back and admire your work as you stitch. As stitchers it is so easy to “get into the weeds” and focus too much on individual stitches, ignoring the overall effect. When I get tired of stitching a Christmas stocking I prop it up in the evening light and I can see how it will look hanging on the mantel. “Noel” definitely glows and shows all the effects I was hoping for.

My next Christmas stocking is for my brother-in-law. He has a Harley Davidson “Fat Boy”, so his Tapestry Tent stocking features Santa on a bright red motorcycle. I love this stocking…for now!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Noel" part 3

The background is done in Alicia’s lace using 2 strands of Accentuate doubled through the needle for a total of 4 strands. I was able to match the blues perfectly using two shades of Accentuate. For the finishing touch, I beaded all the snowflakes and gold stars using Prisms doubled through my needle. I love Prisms for beading because it doesn’t bleed, it is finer than beading thread, very strong and you don’t have to change thread when the bead color changes.

The fur on Santa’s robe and hat is stitched in a random long and short using one strand of Wisper. I kept building layers until I was happy with the result. I still haven’t decided whether or not to brush it with a nap brush. Santa’s beard and hair are stitched using 2 strands of Floche in a twisted stem stitch. (This is beautifully illustrated in the book “Knots, Fur and Turkey Work”.)