Saturday, December 24, 2011

March heritage ornament by Kelly Clark

I'm stitching these gorgeous ornaments by Kelly Clark at a rapid clip. I love the stitch guides, but I have added my own twist to them. Instead of using beads, I am adding Swarowski crystals in the appropriate gemstone color to each canvas. Bling!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Spider Queen

After my latest stocking was finished, I said I was working on lots of ornaments.  The Spider Queen was a Sunday afternoon project (I didn't say they were all Christmas).  Again, what's not to love about this series with stitch guides by Robin King?

Robin was so good about incorporating many threads in each piece and also making sure that these threads get used on multiple Creeps.

My favorite stitch is the Elliot Stitch.  Done in two shades of lavender, it gives a feminine touch that belies the fierce look of this black widow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My brother-in-law's stocking is finally finished.  As my sister said, it has been a loooooong labor of love. This poor Santa has mostly languished in the closet, waiting for me to love him.

Because this is a Tapestry Tent canvas, most of the work was done in basketweave, French knots and lots of beads.

My favorite part is the cuff background--it's a mini scallop shape from one of Brenda Hart's books.  I brought home a skein of Vineyard Silk and Silk & Ivory to see which would work best for this vertical stitch on 18 count canvas.  Surprisingly the Vineyard Silk fit the bill perfectly.

I've since been rewarding myself by stitching ornament after ornament, looking forward to special new canvases at market.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New clip on peacock from Labors of Love

Just a little something pretty to stitch as a reward for FINALLY finishing brother-in-law's stocking....

I love the way the blue breast feathers turned out.  I used the Diagonal Romanian stitch, combining YLI Shimmer Blend Ribbon Floss and the Painter's Thread version of the ribbon floss.  A little Painter's Thread goes a long way.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Creepy Frank finished

Look who just came off the rack ... er ... stretcher bars--Frankenstein from the Creeps series by Needledeeva.

My favorite things--Robin King's wonderful choice of composite stitches and the great way his sweater looks.  He's dressed perfectly for this fall weather.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spooky times with Brenda Hart at the Bristly Thistle

We had a wonderful 3 days with Brenda in October. Strangely enough, there were more than a few Halloween canvases in the store!

Brenda will be visiting us next March 16-18 2012.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Creepy Devil

What a handsome devil we have here.  This is the latest release of "the Creeps" from Needle Deeva, with stitch guide by Robin King.

I only made one change--I stitched the stars in glow-in-the-dark Kreinik.  "The Creeps" are addictive!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Third Witch Hat

My new ghost magnet is celebrating the finish of my 3rd Kelly Clark witch hat.  I am using the stitch guide that is available for the hats, with a few twists of my own.

For the background, I used 2 strands of Splendor and 2 strands of Accentuate for a brick stitch on the hat and skip tent on the brim.  My favorite thing: using beading thread from The Collection to couch the Kreinik Hot Wire and braid.  Whether I pierced the couched thread or looped over it, you can't see the couching stitches.

Tip:  Place the crystals for the spider bodies (I used hot fix Swarovski crystals) before you bead the legs.  (Do as I say, not as I did.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Creepy Hooty Owl finished

My Hooty Owl canvas is finished and will be back soon to hang on my Halloween tree.

Hooty and Robin King (and NeedleDeeva, of course) were featured in the most recent issue of Needlepoint Now.  You may have noticed that the current canvases differ in color from the one Robin stitched.  It's not uncommon for production canvases to vary from the pre-production canvases, causing bits (or more) of havoc for the stitch guide author.

I chose to follow the colors Robin used, especially for the background.  This meant that I had to use a full coverage stitch--basketweave.  I used Silk Lame' and needed a card plus part of another--so make sure you buy 2 10 yard skeins or cards if you decide to change the canvas background color.

I can't wait for the next "Creep" to arrive!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kelly Clark Pumpkin Hat

I've been indulging myself by stitching both of the recently released "Creeps" from NeedleDeeva and the 6 witches' hats by Kelly Clark.

I had reached the last step in the stitch guide for the Pumpkin hat by Kelly and I felt I was all thumbs.  No matter what I tried, I couldn't combine 7mm ribbon, ruching and beads in a way that made me happy.  Many bad words were used.  In desperation, I drove OTB (Over the Bridge) to the nearest Michael's for an easier embellishment solution.  I searched the ribbon section, almost giving up, when I spotted 2 possibilities:  a 3/8" black gimp and a 5/8" black gimp with black velveteen ribbon running through it.  Not having had the foresight to bring the canvas, I bought both of them.  I ended up using them both--the narrower gimp on the hat brim and the wider gimp under the pumpkin...ghoulish couture realized.

While in Michael's I also gathered what I would need to make a black feather wreath like the one Robin King is shown holding in the latest issue of Needlepoint Now.  Having put a Styrofoam wreath form,  black spray paint, 6 black feather boas, extra bags of black feathers and silk ribbon for the hanger in my cart, I did some mental arithmetic.  Adding in the time spent not stitching, I decided I should look for a ready-made wreath.  To hedge my bets, I bought 2 boas (I can always wear them in the shop in October) and some extra black feathers in case the purchased wreath is skimpy.  When I arrived home, I went straight to the computer and found the perfect wreath.  From JoAnn Fabrics, it is 19" in diameter and 50-% off  I can't wait to decorate for the howlidays.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creeps from Needle Deeva

As many of you know, the first canvas in "The Creeps" series by Needle Deeva has arrived. I saw all the finished models at the Columbus market, fell in love and will (selfishly) be stitching the complete set for myself. I had intended to show this as a new canvas in progress, in my stitching rotation, but I had so much fun I finished it in no time at all. The extremely talented Robin King wrote the stitch guides that come with each canvas. Her guides are always very clearly written and illustrated and I always learn something new--a new thread, a new stitch or a combination of the two. My favorites from the Pumpkin were the two composite stitches. The best part about this 9 month club is that you can pick and choose your canvases without signing up for all of them. And of course, you can always go "back in time" if you change your mind and pick up an already released canvas.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kelly Clark witch hats

We have Kelly Clark's trunk show in the shop and I am treating myself to the six witches' hats and the stitch guide created for them. I have started with the Pumpkin hat, adding a few of my touches to the piece. I am adding the large flat beads to the hat brim, as suggested in the guide. Because the stitch is a full coverage stitch, I am leaving the center stitch open to allow me to place the beads properly. I had a great time looking for beads and such on the Fusion Beads website ( They lured me in with a 20% off weekend sale and I stocked up on all things that glitter, especially in Halloween and Christmas colors. And the stash just continues to grow....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mile High Kitty

I'm working on 3 large projects and I needed a quick, fun piece to fit in my "scheduled" stitching. This pretty witch and cat kept me entertained.

The sky is one strand of Impressions in the Irish stitch with Swarovski hot fix crystals for the stars. (That's not a red crystal, its a clear one caught in the sunlight.)

I used the Neon Rays + white glow in the dark thread for the ghosts and Kreinik glow in the dark for the green in the cat's eyes.

The witch's hair is Petite Fluffy Fleece, couched down with one strand of Splendor.

I love the witch's necklace. I used a product that is new to me--the clear beading thread from The Collection. I have always used Prisms and Sundance beading thread, but I'm open to anything that makes beading easier. The Collection thread was easy to thread through the needle eye and easy to knot. It behaved very well and I will definitely use it again (and again).

I ran the thread (doubled through the needle, knotted and anchored) through Sundance size 11 real metal beads. Once I had the right number of beads for the necklace I sank the needle at the other end of the necklace. I then came back up and tied down/anchored the necklace every few beads. Finally, I came up a third time and ran the needle and thread through the center of the entire string of beads. Voila! Bling!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Noah's snow leopards

These leopards are the first pair I have chosen to stitch from the series of 12 Noah's animals by Kelly Clark

These are large animals painted in a small design area on 18 mesh canvas.  The spots reminded me of a pointillist painting.  To keep the two animals separate from each other, I tweaked the colors of the leopard on the left, trying to use a slightly different palette.  Another trick I used was to choose the most distinctive colors on each coat, stitching one color at a time until the most difficult to see color was the only one left.

Since stitching these, I have completed the peacocks and I am now stitching the giraffes.  I have found it very helpful to Google photos of the animals I stitch to look for distinctive details.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Haunted House by DC Designs

I had to stitch something just for me, something with a stitch guide, something on 13 mesh--I have been stranding and laying too much silk on 18 mesh canvas.  I went to my June market class stash and pulled out "Haunted House", canvas by DC designs, stitch guide by Cynthia Thomas.  Perfect!

Derek of DC Designs (he is Amanda Lawford's son) started his needlepoint canvas career with the mission of bringing fun, affordable canvases to market.  He has truly succeeded.

Cynthia Thomas is an expert at creating stitch guides and a wonderful teacher.  It was a delight to just let her guide my needle.

Since a stitch guide is a guide, I wanted to try some "new" threads and to substitute anything else for stranded silk.

I used the new glow-in-the-dark Neon Rays + for the skulls and bones.  I found it to be very flat on 13 mesh and in retrospect, would have used it for the moon with a basketweave stitch. I love that the thread is very white and sparkly and does glow in the dark.

I stitched the moon with Brown Paper Packages' Stardust in white.  Skeined, it looked very thin to me, but it was very fat on 13 mesh.  I would use it for the skulls and bones, if I were stitching this piece again.  This is another thread whose brightness and sparkle I appreciate.

In my attempt to take a vacation from stranded silk, I substituted Planet Earth Silk and Neon Rays for a couple of the silks.  I'm not a fan of Lorikeet, so I went with Gloriana silk floss for the grass, still staying in the Gloriana family.

For the icing on the cake, I added Swarovski hot fix crystals for the skulls' eyes.  JAB makes wonderful skull buttons in XL that look great if you stitch over the painted skulls.  Just be aware that the buttons are somewhat fragile--be careful sewing them on and don't use them on an item that will receive abuse (think pillow fights).

I'm not sure what I will be stitching next, but I feel as though I have had a very relaxing and fun break.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Noah's Peacocks from Kelly Clark

I spent my Sunday afternoon working on my second pair of animals for Kelly Clark's Ark, Noah's Peacocks.  (I had to do something while I watched the Cubs lose to the Pirates.)

As I usually do, I started by Googling photos of peacocks and peahens to see what effect I needed to create.  Since the animals are small pieces, I can go all out on the main characters.

Most of my time was spent beading, using four different colors of Sundance beads.  I am working on a beading class, so I tried a few different threads and techniques to stitch the beads.

For the threads, I tried Splendor in lime green to intensify the color of the lime green beads, one strand doubled through a beading needle.  I also used YLI invisible thread, also doubled through a beading needle.  For other pieces, I have used Sundance beading thread.  The net:  they all have their place.  Using a silk thread (or a colored beading thread) allows you to manipulate the color of the beads you are using.   (From what I have read and heard in classes, silk is preferred over cotton floss.)  The advantage of a clear beading thread is that it can be used for all colors of beads, obviating the need for a different color thread for each bead.  Some say the nylon threads stretch over time, but I have not experienced that.  However, if I were stitching a piece that would get a lot of use, like a purse, I would use beading thread, like that offered by Sundance.  I love using beading thread when I can because it is so easy to use (nylon thread can drive you nuts).

On the peacocks, I used the "lasso" technique, I went through some beads twice, and I went through some beads only once.  I have come to agree with the experts at Sundance that the "lasso" technique is seldom required.  Its purpose is to keep the eye of the bead from showing and further secure a bead.  However, even if I went through a bead only once, if I used a tight tension and adjusted the bead angle with my needle, the beads stayed in the proper position.  Also according to the Sundance experts, if you are concerned about truly anchoring a bead, going through it twice is more effective than using the "lasso" technique.  I also stitched some of the tail "eyes" by anchoring the first bead, a middle bead and an end bead by going through them twice; the rest were only stitched to the canvas with one pass-through.  Basically, you should use the technique that makes you most comfortable with the end results.

If you are truly worried about losing a bead from a finished piece, you should stitch under the bead with the appropriate colored thread before beading.  I'm not that paranoid...yet.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My new Cockatiel - from Labors of Love

This beauty from Labors of Love is just another fun canvas in an addictive series. They stitch up in a flash and are so gorgeous on a tree.

For this one, I added one strand of Fuzzy Stuff to Silk Lame', using a long and short stitch for the top feathers.

The top two wing sections are stitched in Nobuko, again with Silk Lame'. the lower wings are done with a Random Satin stitch.

For the lower body, I used the Fern stitch.

My next project--stitching all the Kelly Clark Ark animals, starting with the cheetahs.

I'll be watching the Cubs game this afternoon while I stitch away.

Happy 4th to all!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Columbus 2011 day 2

Some of my favorite canvases so far
* A 3D crow by Melissa Shirley on 13 count canvas; he comes with a hat and a monocle.
* Also from Melissa, gorgeous orchid purses and fanciful startfish
* From Kelly Clark, 6 witch’s hats that are so wonderful, you want them all. They come with a stitch guide, too.
* Dede Ogden has painted two views from a sitting room. My favorite is a view of the Eifel Tower through the window of a pied-à-terre.  It reminds me of trips to Paris when we rented an apartment instead of staying in a hotel. The second view is from an elegant New York apartment with a fabulous view of Manhattan.
* Labors of Love has new clip on birds to add to our collections, all of them colorful and fun.

I started the day with a fun class taught by Cynthia Thomas. The canvas was a Halloween House by DC. I’ve had a couple of customers stitch the canvas and I wanted to see what Cynthia could do with it. She taught us a technique borrowed from gold work for two of the lollipops that I can’t wait to try on other canvases. Her stitch guide and instructions were, as always, top notch.

Tips from Cynthia:
* When working with Planet Earth Opal or Vineyard Silk Shimmer, use a larger needle to keep the metallic from coming up short at the end.
* Cynthia demonstrated how to separate Lorikeet, a 9 strand overdyed wool that gives many of us fits. She started by teasing the ends of the thread apart—you can see that it separates into bundles of three. The best way to pull the strands loose is to hang a weight (like the one from Puffin Co) from the end. The real key, though, is patience.

New threads—at least for me
* Rainbow Gallery has introduced 17 new colors for Silk Lame’ for 18 count and new colors for Neon Rays +. The very coolest new Neon Rays + is a white sparkly ribbon that glows in the dark.
* YLI has an organic cotton ribbon floss that comes in the 26 Painter’s Thread colors. I love the texture—a little primitive—and can see ruching it for great effect.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Landscape Stitches Book

We just received the new book from Little Shoppe Canvas Company, "Landscape". This is the first of a series of books to be published, each based on effects for a specific category. "Landscape" includes stitches for clouds, flowers, grass, mountains, sand, shrubbery, sky, snow, soil, stone, trees and water.

I saw a rough draft of the book at market and placed an order on the spot. Now that it is finished, I love it even more and here's why:

  • the categories for natural scenery stitches are all things we stitch often
  • the book is small and lightweight, but packed with ideas each category includes a great variety of stitches, many of which are not in other books that recommend an effect each of the stitches is numbered and shaded for multiple layers
  • each category includes important factors to consider when stitching for that landscape effect
  • stitch hints are provided for each category to optimize stitch and thread choices
  • each chapter begins with a stitching example that shows how to create a specific effect using a combination of threads and stitch.

This book is a welcome addition to my personal library of needlepoint books.  We have them in stock now.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Ark Monkey House

Hooray!  Except for the part where I ran out of my silk floss, the Monkey House from the Ark is complete.

I love the stitch I used for the red walls--I found it in Jane Zimmerman's "Canvas Embroidery" Volume One.  The inspiration stitch is a "variation of basic Scotch alternated with elongated Cashmere".  I reduced the row height by one stitch, used 3 strands of silk and the result looks like wood shingles.  The best part is that I only had to rip out one previous stitch to replace it with what I think is the perfect one.

Back to the rooftops of the Ark!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Ark part 5

I've been watching the Dodgers play the Cubs at Wrigley Field, stitching away at the main roof.  (Da Cubs are losing.)  Next, to mix things up, I'll finish the turtles and snakes on the main deck.

I am stitching the teal roof line in two long rows of continental.  In several 3-D classes I have taken from Ruth Dilts and Joan Lohr, I learned a very important tip.  Keep your finisher happy--stitching corners that will be bent by splitting the stitches at the corner.  Stitching the teal areas in basketweave would make bending the canvas more difficult.  Hopefully, the continental rows will allow for a clean, crisp edge.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ark part 4

The great thing about working on the Ark is that if you can't think of the perfect stitch for an area, you can stitch something else while your brain works on the  problem.  The other great thing is that 6 of us are stitching this together and we are bouncing ideas off each other.  The solution for the diamond area kept eluding me.  I tried stitching a Rhodes the same size as the nearby black rectangles in the pale green.  Boring!  A fellow stitcher suggested a black beaded rectangle in the center.  Since I was going to bead the painted rectangles, this turned out to be the perfect answer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ark races - second leg

I'm not sure how clearly you can see this, but I have tried two different threads for the same stitch.  One of them will be ripped out....  One side is Trebizond in the perfect colors, but I don't like the loft or the sheen.  One could argue that the roof of the Ark is wet and therefore shiny, but I want a somewhat more rustic finish.  I switched to 2 strands of Soy Luster which I love.  The strands lay perfectly flat, the color works and the roof doesn't overwhelm the windows.

Now back to the Ark race!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ark races

I'm having so much fun with this canvas because there are so many different pieces to work on--I can't get bored!

For the main deck of the Ark, I've used an overdyed thread and a random width, random length Cashmere stitch.

The snakes are a simple padded satin with the top layer a Gloriana silk floss.

I will admit to obsessing over the turtles.  I started with the idea of beading them in their entirety, but I would like to finish this piece with my sanity (mostly) intact.  I did bead the black lines and then the obsessing began.  I tried a Kreinik #12 for the gold section of the turtle on right, but felt that it was too flat.  I left the basketweave with that thread on the two sides of the turtle.  For the center, I cross-stitched each thread for a higher profile.

For the turtle on the left, I bumped up to a Kreinik #16 and simple basketweave.  The result:  6 of one, 1/2 a dozen of another.  Maybe the next time I have turtles to stitch, I will bead them.  Maybe.  But only if Brenda Hart makes me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Noah's Ark

At the end of Brenda Hart's whirlwind set of classes, I started Noah's Ark, beginning with the two largest pieces, the main ark itself.  So far, I'm working primarily in silk, using 2 to 4 ply.  For the squares, I'm choosing a stitch for each block color.  I've been  happily scouring Brenda's books for ideas for all of the ark.

I'm still in the honeymoon stage with this big project, with ambitious plans to bead a couple of fun areas.  And I've already decided to have a Plexiglas box built to house the finished Ark.  Alas for my poor brother-in-law's stocking....

Monday, February 14, 2011

A smaller project

I have (mostly) finished the Easter March and its stitch guide.  I have moved on to my 3D turkey, but I was itching for a new small project.

I raided the ACOD trunk show for this shoe canvas and tried the new Painter's Thread for the main part of the shoe.  I bought a designer ring of the Painter's Threads at market.  I had no idea what they were or how they could be used, but they were too beautiful to pass up.

The thread is YLI Shimmer Blend Ribbon that has been hand dyed.  Each of the 25 colors is named for a famous painter, therefore Painter's Threads.

I loved the thread--it will work on 13 or 18 mesh, can be finger-laid and is beautifully shaded.  Use the thread and you can ignore shading!  I'm going to try it next for tassels.

For the rest of the shoe, I used Coronet Braid for the gold areas, ruched and couched Neon Rays + for the green and used Petite Frosty Rays and the blanket stitch for the purple.  Now all that's left is a bit of background and French knots for the jewel. (I did consider ordering a flat back semi-precious cabochon, but luckily my web connection was too slow.  Then again, maybe I will....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Easter March part 3

Stitching the little girl in the Easter March brought back fond memories of dressing our girls for Easter Sunday and the Easter egg hunt that always followed.  For myself as a child and for our girls, egg hunts continued into the high school and college years, where fooling the eye and the brain became a diabolical game.

This little girl's hat is stitched in two sizes of the Double Nobuko.  I tried appliqueing River Silk for the ribbon, but no matter how subtle my efforts to attach the ribbon, the result was not good.  I used the same ribbon in an Outline Stitch for the final result.

Her hair was stitched with 2-3 strands of Lorikeet using a long bullion needle and the Bullion Knot.

I didn't care for the way the dress was painted mostly white, so I took the richest pink and stitched the dress with two strands of one of my favorite threads, Floche.

This happy little blonde is even able to ignore her little brother, who is kicking up the back of her skirt.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Easter March part 2

I'm finishing up the Easter March--this is a photo of the flowering shrub at the lower right of the canvas.

In each 4 x 4 flower I tried: 1) 4 size 14 beads, 2) 2 x 2 Cross Stitches, 3) 2 x 2 Upright Crosses and 4) Smyrna crosses (not shown).

The beads would have driven my class nuts and I don't think the effort was at all worth the effect

The Cross Stitches would have overwhelmed the shrubbery; the Smyrna crosses were even more overwhelming.

The winner was Upright Crosses. Another option would have been a single size 11 bead placed in the center hole.

Time to write the stitch guide!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Christmas March Epilogue

Earlier I tried to add the final touch to the Christmas March by using hot fix Swarowski crystals for the stars. Trying to get those small (2mm) critters to work with the recommended tip did not work at all. The crystals kept getting jammed into the tip and the round end of the hot tip left a circular dent in the threads. After more than a few choice words, I gave up and added beads as the final idea in my stitch guide.

And yet I couldn’t bring myself to bead the stars on my canvas. After some time, I decided to try the crystals one more time.

The solution was to use the spatula-shaped tip and the index finger from my left hand. After heating the tip, I used my small tip tweezers to place the tiny crystal in place. With the hot tip pressing down on the crystal from the top, I used my left index finger to push up from below. This kept the tip from leaving an imprint because my finger made the crystal the highest point on the canvas. I held the hot tip down until I felt the heat on my skin. Another hint: once the glue has started to melt, pick up the tip to make sure placement is perfect. If not, use the tweezers to move it to the right spot and then press down until you can feel the heat.

And the stars sparkled in the night sky….

Friday, January 14, 2011

Non-Tacky Solutions for Holding Beads

Alice Borge gave this tip for holding your beads while you stitch with them. Start with a 20% off coupon from Bed, Bath & Beyond. Buy their hotel blanket and cut it into a rectangular shape. Pour your beads onto one side and bead away. When you are ready to take a break, just roll up the rectangle like a jewelry roll and tie with a ribbon or thread. No sticky beads!

To make Tacky Bob Just Plain Bob, cover one side of the inside with paper. If you want to make it special, choose a scrapbook paper to coordinate with the exterior design. I don’t know if the hotel blanket material will work because I haven’t seen/bought it yet, but take a fabric that will hold beads (not felt) and cut it to fit the other side of Tacky Bob. The sticky side will hold the fabric and the fabric will hold the beads.

Bead-utiful! (sorry, youngest daughter has begun family punning competitions...)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bird and Worm canvas by Zecca

I so love taking classes from Robin King—her models are inspiring, her stitch guides are as close to perfect as humanly possible and she is just plain delightful to be with.  The beauty of her stitch guides is that even if it is 2 in the morning, you have such precise photos and directions that it’s like having Robin right there explain.

When I first saw the class canvas, I gave a little start because the canvas was so small compared to my mental image from the class promotion photo.  It didn’t take long to realize that Robin had packed that little whimsical canvas with lots and lots of fun stitches and threads.  The result is a doable project in bright cheery colors and enough different stitch and thread combinations that the project will stitch up like magic.