Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Be Merry, 10

Ah, delight!   After today's stitching, I have finished 9" out of 16".  So finally this afternoon I was able to move the canvas.  Here's what I have accomplished (including doing the French knots on an R and finishing the French knots on a red stripe).
 I finished the blue/white chevrons on the E; the French knots on the R; the missing red stitches on the Victorian step stitch and the diagonal mosaic stripe (again finishing those French knots); then the straight gobelin in pink and the red fern stitch.  Not to mention the continuation of the peppermint stick. Whew!  When I concentrate, I can actually accomplish a lot of stitching.

I wanted to show you what I do when I am stitching a canvas linearly.  Rather than moving forward and stitching the short bits in my needle, dumping them into my bag of fibers, or wrapping them around the original cards, I stitch them through the blank canvas on the sides of the canvas.  This is the end of the canvas to the left of the frame.  Today when I moved the frame, I also moved these fibers to the blank canvas to the right of the frame.  I do this because I don't like coming up in a hole with yarn--go down in the hole makes a prettier stitch.  So I don't stitch something until I come to it.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Joan Gantt's Heritage Designs creations

In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, Joan Gantt published many lace-like designs for needlepoint.  They were stitched primarily in Paternayan wool, but lately I've been thinking using fibers such as silk 'n ivory, perle cotton, and 6-strands of splendor.  These fibers would produce even more elegant varieties of the designs.

Joan published a booklet of some of the designs.  She used eyelet stitches and Smyrna crosses to produce the lace-like designs.
Other designs she packaged them with stitch guides and provided the canvas and  yarn count.

 The Westminster Work designs also contained some stumpwork stitches such as picot petals.

Needle Nicely has copies of some of Joan's designs for sale.  Trubey and I are both close relatives of packrats!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A needlepoint box

Years ago, I stitched  a companion to a picture frame that contains a picture of me and my husband just before we married.  For the companion,  I had my new monogram painted inside the frame.  After I stitched it, I sent it to a finisher who used heavy cardboard for the stability of the top and bottom.  She backed the top with moire; the bottom she covered both sides with moire.  Both pieces were edged with a twisted cord of perle cotton.  The sides are a slightly lighter-weight cardboard, covered by shirred moire.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Noel, XIV

This morning I made myself finish the large gold ornament while I watched the final round of the women's golf at the 2016 Olympics.  Though I was disappointed that the Americans didn't medal, it was a momentous occasion for the LPGA--since all three medal winners were Asian. That is a gigantic audience/market just waiting for the development of golf.  All three medalists are such good role models.  The gold medalist, Inbee Park who is South Korean, is so calm and within herself while she sinks seemingly impossible putts.  Lydia Ko, a Korean transplanted to New Zealand, is a laughing, articulate 19-year-old who won the silver medal.  ShanShan Feng, the bronze medalist, is from China.  There was so much pressure from their countries for these women to win.  I'm not a golfer (obviously, I devote my life to a needlepoint shop!), but I can really appreciate their talents and achievements.

If you enlarge the photo, I think you can see that those dark squares and rectangles are Scotch stitch and cashmere stitch.  The rest is continental or basketweave.

This is an overview photograph of my progress on the canvas.
There is a lot of background to stitch and lots of ribbon, not to mention that gigantic green ornament to the right.  Now, if I can just be diligent and make progress!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Be Merry, 9

The past few days, I've been trying to make progress on Be Merry.  I am close to the spot when I will
need to move the canvas.  Of course, in the process I have violated one of my cardinal rules--don't run out of yarn in two different spots,  Actually, I preach to never start an area if you aren't positive you have enough fiber of the same dye lot.  And I did it in two places.  Admittedly, the missing stitches on the Victorian step stitch are so small, that I doubt a dye lot change will be noticeable.  Less excusable is the small area of diagonal mosaic to the right.
And I must restrain myself from shifting the canvas until after I have done the French knots in that red area and the green R above.

I almost completed the slanted gobelin in alternate directions (forming a chevron) on the letter E.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Carol Costello's Fancywork and Fantasies

Someone posted on Facebook Needlepoint the other night a photo of a Carol Costello design.  Carol designed about 35-40 years ago.  The photo shown was of "Patchouli", perhaps one of her more popular designs.  I have taught it several times at Needle Nicely.  This is a photo of our shop model stitched by Trubey, over a weekend, but "in hand", rather than on a frame.  If you look closely, you can easily discern that the straight outline stitches are not quite straight because the inner stitches are distorting the canvas.  This offers another good reason to stitch on a frame!

It is stitched using a combination of medici and perle cotton.  I'm sure the look would be different using something other than medici, but maybe not.  Stitching this is like eating peanuts--you just can't stop!  I understand that there are no leaflets available, but Fleur de Paris (who seems to have the rights) is willing to sell photocopies.  This is a fun stitch and a good introduction to pattern stitching.

Eterna--My absolute favorite of Carol's designs is one that she did, I have always heard, in collaboration with Jean Hilton.  And that I really believe--the center is Jean's "mistake stitch" and everything flows like Jean's patterns.  Everything is 12s and is marvelously geometric.  One time when I taught this, I had a student who absolutely could not see the difference between 11 and 13 stitches.  To me, it just pops out.  I had to take her class piece home and stitch enough to establish her count.  Naturally, she couldn't understand why I was so concerned!  I could look at it forever!

My second favorite is Saxony, a marvel stitched on 10-mesh canvas.  It works up so quickly, you cannot believe it.  Somehow, the original ecru version has disappeared from Needle Nicely, but I still have two other models.  One is in pink to show its versatility.  The other is in tan with watercolors substituted for the perle cotton accents.  Definitely a quick stitch, and so satisfying.

Ashes of Roses is one of my least favorite of Carol's designs, primarily because it uses alternating basketweave (or Alicia's lace), which to me is tedious and doesn't give much bang for the buck.
Obviously, I didn't stitch this Needle Nicely model!

I have booklets for most of these designs.  Just give me a call.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Destination Dallas Classes

Color me heart-broken.  I have been sitting here, typing fluidly and with great perception--and I hit the wrong key and everything disappeared.  Obviously, in the flow of my thoughts, I too often forget to save my content.  I will try to reconstruct my previous brilliance!!

Destination Dallas 2016 occurs in Dallas beginning Sept. 17 (Saturday) through Sept. 19 (Monday) with travel days of September 16 and September 20.  It is to the trade (no non-shopowners admitted). I made my airplane reservation months ago so I could pay with Capital one miles.  I made my hotel reservation very early, because last year I procrastinated and had to stay at a "satellite" hotel--that meant at least 20 minutes to get to the show, each way.  Minimum.  The shuttle drivers are delightful, but it's a pain to not be able to just get on an elevator.

I watched the DD website like a hawk so that I could have the optimal chance of getting the classes I really wanted.  The system is wonderful--there is a free business seminar (the one I selected was beginning media usage).  Then, you get a free technique class; additional classes cost a mere $20 each because the needlepoint community of designers and fiber suppliers offer the class materials gratis. They realize the need to spread the knowledge and further the industry.  The classes I selected were: a sort of informal class with Tony Minieri; a Easter project taught by Gretchen Janacek from Threads in Charlottesville, VA; and a floral ribbon class from Laura Taylor from Aristeia in CA.  My impatience overwhelmed me, and last week I called Kathy (in charge of classes) to find out my fate.  I had the good fortune to be early enough to score all four of my classes.  I'm so pleased.  Hooray
There is one proviso--be aware that morning classes begin at 8:00 am and evening classes end at 8pm.  That's in addition to walking the who knows how many floors of the market in between.   I can envision a mid-afternoon nap for the old lady!

There are 3 types of needlework markets--an on-line show that happens, I think, twice a year (I haven't taken advantage of this type); convention hall shows which occur twice a year; and my preference, the hotel room show.  Hotels room shows are less expensive (for both attendees and exhibitors).  They are also closer and more personal.

Wholesale markets are a wonderful combination of things.  It permits shopowners to get to interact with each other at early morning coffee, during classes, or at after-show cocktail hours.  It similarly allows shopowners to rub elbows with the designers of the canvases and get to know their suppliers on a personal level.  When I started in this industry (centuries ago), I could cover a market in a day and a half.  Today, at the end of the third day I am still scrambling because I know so many more people I have to chat with.  I try valiantly to deal with all my ordering, but as often happens, I find myself drifting into personal conversation.  I've known some of these people over 40 years--quite a history.  And like an old war-horse, just dancing to get back to another market!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Some trivia from my life

Last week, my husband and I had our house painted for the first time since buying it.  We live in a 250-home community.  We are fortunate that the people who have volunteered to manage things (other than "the management group" we have hired) are doing a marvelous job.  When you want to paint, you are okay if you paint the original color.  You must get approval if you plan to change the color.  Our community was originally all pale values.  There is a jarring dark grey on our path as we enter and exit.  What were they thinking?  Anyway, my husband approached the head of the house color committee while I was at the shop.  It was a comedy of errors to me after I heard the conversation.  Arthur said, "we want the original color.  I think it's pink".  The head of the color committee (male) concurred.  What saved us is that Arthur insisted that I be the final arbiter, since my business deals with color.  The head of the color committee gave Arthur the color samples so I could peruse them.  The hilarious thing is that when Arthur told me about this conversation, I told him that I didn't need to see the color book, our house is Peach.  That was the color it was the day we bought it when it was a model. I'm trying not to smirk!

On another note, Arthur and I celebrated our 25th anniversary with brie and champagne this afternoon.  Of course, our anniversary was Wednesday, but why get so technical.  Neither of us can remember the exact date until we check in a wedding photo album my Aunt Maggie did for us.  During those years, I was spending the summer in Blowing Rock while Arthur remained in Vero Beach.  We both have a vague idea of the date, but obviously we are more into the thought than the actual date.  And cheers to another 25!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Things you should know about finishing and how to prep for it

Things you should know about finishing and how to prep for it:
1.  You should ask your shop whether or not you should add extra rows to your pillow or stocking            canvas.  My current finisher doesn't like them, but I previous finisher wanted them.  My ornament      finisher finishes things by hand and therefore doesn't require extra stitching around the ornament.        My belt finisher likes 1 1/2 " of needlepoint for a 1 1/4" belt. He prefers 6" of needlepoint less            than the finished belt size.  Other belt finishers prefer 4" less.  Some belt finishers also want the
     binding stitch done of the edges of the design.
2.  Backing materials:  Each shop varies, so double-check with your local needlepoint shop.  I have a
     finisher who offers fabric samples, but I also have fabric in stock.  I do not have  an inventory
     of commercial cording, so I prefer that my customers provide this.  I do make perle cotton cording
     for finishing, but do expect a customer to provide more commercial cordings. My ornament  
     finisher provides her own fabrics, though I send perle or metallic for the twisted cording.  Some
     finishers prefer to have the free rein to decide how an item is finished.  I prefer to give
     detailed instructions.
3.  Price is determined on what is done to the needlepoint.  The price should always include blocking.
     However, anything else that is added, such as twisted cord; commercial cord; cord in a  
     contrasting color; fabric framing; silk fabric rather than moire; down filling...and on and on.              There are many more elements that can be added to determine the final finishing cost.

FYI, Amy Bunger's August newsletter shows many samples of a finisher Amy often uses.