Tuesday, December 25, 2007

T'is the Season...

At this time of year, please remember to stop and say a prayer of warmth, love, hope, and peace for all the creatures living together on this earth....


All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Have a very merry holiday season!

Oh, Christmas Tree!

I always forget how many Christmas patterns I have designed over the years! I try to do one a year, so by now I have quite a few in my collection. Here are some of my favorites...

This one is my Christmas Tree 2004.
I wanted to do something really different, so I first stitched the tree outline, then filled it in with assorted stitch patterns that reminded me of ornaments and tinsel. It ended up looking very modern and elegant. Yet it also reminds me of those trees people would make out of old costume jewelry. So I consider it a modern, yet retro type of tree. How neat is that?!?

I originally stitched this tree on green 24 ct. Congress Cloth, so the design was approx. 8.5" x 8.5". Then I got to wondering how it would look on 18 ct canvas...sooo I just HAD to stitch it again on 18 ct green mono canvas. And it looked equally lovely - just a lot bigger! (approx. 11" x 11").

And here's another type of Christmas tree. I call it my Christmas Forest.
It's actually a blackwork design - with each tree having a different blackwork pattern inside. Even I've been surprised by how popular this pattern has been. I keep selling it year after year. And that makes me happy, knowing that so many people are creating blackwork forests of their own! It's stitched on a 25 ct. Lugana even weave fabric, with lots of sparkle added, with green and gold Kreinik threads, and of course, a few star sequins and jewels to hang in the sky.

And here's another favorite of mine: Christmas Village.

It's a magical place - it sort of suggests Santa's village... or maybe an old-fashioned town nestled in a snowy valley. Anyway, it's surrounded in lots of fun borders and ribbons that I think are very fun to stitch up. I especially enjoyed stitching the candy cane border and the pine boughs & ornament border - both add a very festive touch!
This piece is stitched on 24 ct. white Congress Cloth, and it's finished size is 10.25" x 10.25" (on 18 ct canvas the size would be 14" x 14").

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lots of Santas!

Here's one of my all-time favorite Christmas pieces: Santas Around the World.
It was shown as a cross-stitch pattern in a cross-stitch magazine many years ago...I don't recall which magazine it was. I guess you could also consider it a Santa Sampler...

But in any event, I fell in love with the image of all those different santas in a row, with the rest of those lovely wintery motifs of trees, stars, hearts and snowflakes.

Again, I stitched this on the brown 18 ct mono canvas, using 3-4 ply of DMC floss (and some sparkly thread for the snow and snowflakes). The orginal pattern probably had a lot of backstitching around all the santas, but I only backstitched where it was absolutely necessary, and let the thread colors define the santas. The dark brown background is left unstitched, because I like the vintage, rustic look...and I feel it lets the thread colors POP without creating any background distractions. (Of course, when you stitch this way and leave the background unstitched, you need to be careful not to lay threads across the back - or they will show through to the front.)

And here's another cross-stitch santa that I stitched as a needlepoint santa, and then hung to make a small Christmas banner:

These are just a few of the ways you can have fun with all those lovely cross-stitch Christmas designs by adapting them to needlepoint!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Prairie Santas

Well, now I've also got to show you some of my Prairie Schooler santas I've stitched over the years. They are among my favorite patterns to stitch; they have a limited thread palette and use simple stitches, yet the designs are rather elegant in their simplicity.

Just like a lot of you, I have a nice stash of these little santa patterns. And I love to take them out and shuffle thru them. I never have enough time to get them all stitched, but hey, hope springs eternal, doesn't it? I figure I'll get them all stitched EVENTUALLY.....

And as you can see, I like to stitch them on the brown 18 ct. mono canvas, using 3-4 ply of DMC floss. I use the old Tent or Basketweave Stitch, instead of cross stitches, so I can whip these out a little faster...

And I like the brown background showing thru... it looks rustic and old-fashioned to me...

And this year I decided to get the whole series of Prairie Schooler's 12 Days of Christmas designs(see the first one, below) because I just loved the simple images. I've only worked a few of them, but again, they're fun to stitch because the thread and color palette is limited and easy to stitch up.

Again, I'm stitching all of these with the basic Tent Stitch or Basketweave Stitch, instead of cross stitches...and I'm using sandstone canvas instead of brown.

Although, in this series I've decided to add a few other simple needlepoint stitches to add some extra dimension to them (see the pears? and Santa's pants?)...plus I've added gold beads on Santa's coat, just to add a little more sparkle. It's fun to embellish a cross stitch design with very simple needlepoint stitches...and there are so many easy ones to choose from. Give it a try!

I've been working these designs on little pieces of canvas, but it occurs to me now -how am I going to finish all of them? I originally bought the pattern thinking I would only stitch a few of the santas...but now I want to stitch them ALL. Maybe I should stitch the whole 12 Days of Christmas on one big piece of canvas, so they're all together. Ooohhh, wouldn't THAT would be something to see! Hmmmmm.....I'll have to give that some more thought!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Here Comes Santa Claus...

Ho! Ho! Ho!

It's time to show off some of the stitched Santas in my collection.

I love to bring them out at Christmastime and remember how fun they were to stitch.

Here's another Pat Thode hand-painted canvas. They are so fun to stitch! And because they are small canvases, they stitch up quickly and you can enjoy them immediately. Because her canvases are "stitch painted" and have an attached stitch guide, you can be sure that every thread of the painted canvas is accounted for, and you'll be shown how to stitch EVERY thread.

If you want to try a small painted canvas, I'd definitely recommend trying one of Pat Thode's canvases. (She markets them under the label: "The Artists Collection".) She also designs many counted cross-stitch patterns under the name,"Heartstrings", so you can also find many of her santa designs done in cross-stitch too. My Mom just finished a Heartstrings santa design - and it's gorgeous!

I fell in love with Pat Thode's Santas after seeing them at my local needlework shop, The Regal Rabbit in Windsor, CA. The owner has several pieces finished in her shop. I particularly loved this santa:

She had it finished as a rectangular standup figure. I was smitten!
This design was one of Pat Thode's older limited edition Christmas santas. So I went home and searched the internet for anything I could find. And lo and behold! I found a cross-stitch store that had Pat Thode's pattern book for this very santa.
Of course I ordered it immediately, and stitched this santa by COUNTING it on the canvas...not as a painted canvas. It was a bit of a challenge...but I wanted it so bad, I was prepared to take the time to work it out. And I'm soooo glad I did!

I still have to attach a red felt bag (with treats) that Santa is holding in his lower hand....and I want to try finishing it myself as a rectangular standup figure.
(Just something else to do in my free time...ha, ha.)

And here's the most recent Pat Thode Santa I stitched this fall, called "The Juggling Santa."

And notice the background. I did something really daring on this one: Instead of stitching a background, I used colored pencils and colored the canvas around the santa. CAREFULLY, of course, so the pencils didn't get near the stitched stuff. I really like the effect, and think it gives it a lovely depth. Give it a try sometime...if you dare!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Deck The Halls!

Is your house decorated for the holidays?

What's the first thing you do to get your decorating started?

With me, it's putting up all the Christmas stitchery that I've done over the years.

Here's last year's addition to the collection: Pat Thode's 2006 Christmas Chalet.
It's a painted canvas, but I couldn't resist it, because....I LOVE HOUSES!! And I'm a sucker for any type of stitched house.

Here's a few of the other Christmas houses that I bring out for the season.

This is a really old (well, I did it in the 70's) counted canvaswork piece my sister and I call "THE CHRISTMAS HOUSE" because she first saw and stitched it when she was going to college in Southern California.

It's a design by Carol Costello, one of my all-time favorite designers. It's supposed to have tiny little dollhouse rooms stitched in each window, but by the time I got the house stitched, I was so eager to get it finished, I quickly stitched some Christmas motifs in each window, just to get it DONE. I love pulling it out every year; it's become an old favorite of mine.

And then here's another Pat Thode Christmas house...
I fell in love with this canvas a few years ago, and it was definitely a fun piece to stitch up. (It's sort of a companion piece to her Halloween House, if you're familiar with that canvas). If you ever want to try a painted canvas, just look for a Pat Thode canvas. Her Santas are wonderful (more on THEM later) and all her canvases come with a stitch guide to help you place all the stitches in just the right way.
My stitching friends urged me to try Pat Thode canvases....and they were right! They are lots of fun to stitch, and when you're done, you can enjoy looking at them for years to come.

Have fun decking your halls for the holidays, everyone!