Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cutting My Losses

I've been working on step 2 of my Papillon Creations 80 Stitches Around the World SAL. I was using some 32-count cream linen I had in my stash. I hadn't been entirely happy with step 1, but I thought I'd see how the project progressed. I finished tulip #1 and about 1/2 of tulip #2 when I finally acknowledged that it just wasn't working. I decided to give myself 30 minutes and make a decision about continuing with the project in it's current form. Did I like my choice of color palette? Was I happy with my choice of greens?  Would it look better on a larger count fabric? I found some 28-count and 25-count fabric in my stash to help the process.

Part of step 1 is the Lindisfarne stitch. The original on 32-count is on the right, the middle is on 28-count and the left is on 25-counts, all over two threads. In the 32-count, the stitches are all "smushed" together and you can't see the stitches details. The ones on 28 and 25 count look pretty good.

Another stitch from step1 is the Norwich stitch. On the 32-count, the threads are squished together and again, details are lost. On the 28-count you can see more of the details with the 25-count being the best for this stitch.

Step 2 includes the Danish knot. It makes the lowest petal in the yellow flower. It's hard to see the definition of the stitch on the 32-count, but on the 25-count there is too much space between the center rays and the knot. The best flower is stitched on 28-count.


 Step 2 also used the Queen stitch. It makes the dark blue bottom of these flowers. Again, most of the details of the stitch are lost on the 32-count while there is too much open space on the 25-count. Again, the 28-count fabric seems to be the best choice.

I do like my color palette but I'm going to reverse some of the colors. I had to choose 8 colors. I went with dark and light versions of blue, pink, yellow, and coral. However, I realized that all the odd colors (floral color 1, 3, 5, 7) need to be the dark version and the even colors (2, 4, 6, 8) should be the corresponding light version. That way the darker colors "frame" each heart in step 1 and they are on the bottom of each flower in step 2. Those yellow Norwich squares will be light yellow and back stitched in the dark yellow which is more pleasing to my eye. The coral flowers around the edge will be dark and the coral lazy daisies in the middle will be light, making a better match for the values in the other heart. As for the greens, I'll probably return to my original choice of greens that are a little closer to each other that what I actually used on the 32-count piece. For good measure I found a little piece of yellow fabric and tried out some of the stitching on that but realized that I really like it on the cream background after all.

So...I don't like the fabric count and I don't like my use of colors so I'm cutting my losses and starting over. I'll add the beads to the hearts and turn them into ornaments so it won't be a complete loss. Normally I'd be going crazy over so much work down the drain but with 22 months to go on this SAL I have a chance to get it right instead of dropping the whole project later.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chottie's Plaid

Come near, children, and hear the story of my adventure with Chottie's Plaid.

As a member of the Baldy View EGA chapter, Chottie Alderson's name comes up occasionally. She founded our chapter and was a pretty famous teacher in the 1970's. In fact, the EGA Pacific Southwest Region has a special charm to honor Chottie. Yup, it's the plaid one. And then a member of my chapter mentioned that Chottie had a stitch named after her in Jo Ippolito Christensen's book "The Needlepoint Book." Oddly enough it's called Chottie's Plaid. Hmmm, interesting, maybe I'll try it someday. THEN Pat C. mentioned that you could make a plaid out of any date. WHAT? COOL! Back to the internet and I found this. Okay, I need to try out this stitch.

I decided to start at the beginning:  buying some interlock mesh to try a plaid since I want to do this in a needlepoint style. I thumbtacked it to some stretcher bars and decided to make my own plaid using green, blue, black, and red.

 First you stitch EVERY OTHER thread in a single color until you have the stripe thickness you like. I made 5 rows of green, 2 black, 3 red, 2 black, 6 blue, and repeated it ending with green. You stagger the stitches so the colors are interwoven just like they appear on a woven plaid.

Next turn the piece 90 degrees. Notice my TWO red stripes? On the first photo they are horizontal. In the second photo they are vertical. Then begin repeating the exact same sequence up in the corner: 5 rows green, 2 black, 3 red, 2 black, 6 blue, 5 green, etc., filling in the open spaces. In the beginning there was stripes, then there was plaid!

I discovered a few things in trying this out:
     1.  I used a roll of M.C.G. Textiles 14-count mesh I picked up at Hobby Lobby. This stuff is awful, completely twisted up on the roll. I considered blocking it first before I put it on stretcher bars but for just trying out a little patch it was just too much work. If I do this on interlock, I will invest in a better quality material.
     2.  A full length of 6-stranded floss does not fill 14-count mesh well. I plan on trying some of my different pearl cotton sizes to see if something is better. The traditional wool may work best but I don't have any wool and am not planning to get any for a little project. I may try this on an 18-count mesh but that would take longer to stitch.
Thistle and Kilt: Goldwork and Plaid       3.  Stitching the foundation of this stitch (the initial stripes) is a little boring, but watching the plaid come together on the last half is fun.

Then last is this plaid from a Michele Roberts ANG correspondence course. She is using Chottie's Plaid as a striking base for her goldwork design. A plaid would make a great base for initials or a couched beaded design. I can see this as a nice gift for a man. To see more needlepoint plaids, do an online search (aka google) "needlepoint plaids" and click on the image option. To see some information on tartans and check if there's one for your family, try this search in the scottish government tartan registry.

As for the date plaid, I'll try to work out that system and attempt one in the future.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stitcher's Showcase

In April, Needle Artist's by the Sea EGA group had their 4th biannual needlework show. I entered three pieces and won for each. Whoopee!

 I received a 3rd place for my "White Queen" designed by Carolyn Webb. It was an EGA group correspondence course for pulled and drawn thread. I believe it's done on 28 count linen.

Here's a larger picture of the lower section so you can see some of the detail.
I took a 2nd for my "Fascination" designed by Marc Saastrad of The Silver Lining. It's stitched using one strand of floss over one thread on 25 count Summer Khaki lugana. Marc combines both the DMC and Anchor floss lines to gain a 700+ palette, so you MUST use his colors to get good results. I think this used about 80 colors from both DMC and Anchor. And that's for yellow, white, and green!

I won a 1st for "Angel of Cross Stitch" designed by Joan Elliot. She published the design on 1999 in the Cross Stitcher magazine to commemorate the 100th anniversary of DMC. The charts uses (I think) 391 DMC colors. By the time I got around to stitching it, DMC had added several colors so I couldn't say that it had all of them anymore. Why couldn't they have waited until I'd stitched my angel?! But really, it was fun and taught me not to fear rethreading my needle...a lot.

All three pieces were framed by Bob at Needles & Niceties in Upland, California. He did a wonderful job and I would recommend him for any heirloom quality framing jobs. In fact, the show judges kept praising "my" wonderful framing!

I am currently working on a myriad of little projects. As you can see from the items above, I LOVE BAPs (Big A** Project) but it's draining to stitch and stitch and stitch and rarely complete anything. However, with my smaller projects I'm stitching and stitching and stitching and getting the stitching done, but then I'm not finishing the project into it's final form! Sheesh! There is no pleasing me at all!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No Stitching, Just Candles

It's been in the 90's around here the past week and the bugs have come out to feast on me. I went to the store for citronella candles but didn't find any I liked because they never seem strong enough, so like a good little crafter I searched online for info on making my own - and then I did!

I went to Michael's craft store and bought some candle wax and a double boiler pot with a handle. I also bought citronella essential oil at Sprouts.

I chopped up the wax. Here's a picture of the label and the wax. I was going to use jars so I got the glass fill wax. I opted for paraffin wax over soy because  some websites suggested that it burns hotter and is more flame resistant. These are outside candles after all.

I weighed out 1 pound of wax and melted it over a pot of simmering water. After the wax was melted I added 1/2 ounce of citronella essential oil.

I had prepared jars in advance. I'd seen some really cute candle holders at a craft show recently and decided to make up something like that. I found some inexpensive candlesticks at a dollar store and dug some old canning jars out of the garage, glued them together using E-6000 and let them set for 24 hours. I stuck premade wicks to the bottom of the jars using sticky wax and kept the wicks straight by paper-clipping the wick to a stick across the jar.

I poured the wax into the jars and let them set up. Pretty simple! They smell really strong, too. I ended up making 6 half-pint jars and a 1/2 fill of a pint jar from 2 pounds of wax and 1 ounce of citronella oil. The double boiler came with some wax and vanilla scent, so I made up some vanilla votives too. I let them harden overnight and trimmed the wicks.

 Then I tied ribbon around the to dress them up.

I finally read the candle wax instructions and I probably should have saved some of the wax to fill in the depression around the wick that formed as the wax cooled, but who cares?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Canvas Project from EGA

I'm a member of the Baldy View EGA Chapter that meets in Ontario, California. Our program for the past several months has been little projects that will eventually be used together in a sewing basket. Georgette B. has done a great job pulling this all together. May's project is from an EGA petite project by Margaret Bendig. It will be a little case for scissors and perhaps needles as well. I started it a few days ago. Here is the first little bit of my stitching. As you can see, the entire canvas is only 12 inches long, so it's fairly small. The outer edge is all smyrnas.

Here's a closeup of the smyrnas. They are little stars. Smyrnas make a nice row or border and can easily be made large or small. We're changing the design a little as the original was a little scissor pocket that was closed but we're going to be able to open our little cases. Our June meeting will be about how to finish it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Papillon Creations "Around the World in 80 Stitches" SAL

This lovely designer has just started this new stitch-a-long. She will release one section each month for 24 months. I just completed the first month. Look!

The stitching is about 7 1/2 inches across on 32 count fabric stitched over 2 threads. She will be using a new country each month with specialty stitches connected to that country. This month's stitches were scotch stitch, norwich stitch, berwick stitch, and lindisfame stitch. This took me a while to complete because I kept making mistakes. All the backstitching was done as least twice, and I kept having issues with the green colors I'd chosen, but I really had fun with it and am looking forward to stitching up the rest.