Thursday, January 24, 2008

Oh, Those Flighty Flamingos!

Check out this color combination:

Isn't it pretty?

I pulled these threads to start another new quilt design. And the block is actually called "Flamingos in Flight"...which tickled me so much I just had to design a quilt with it! (And I'm definitely using the title, too...) It has bits of the flying geese triangles in the bird theme is woven nicely into the block pattern.

And of course, what other colors could I choose but bright pinks and corals (with a touch of lavender for a little tropical punch)?!? Luckily for me, Caron Watercolours has a great variegated thread color called Fraises du Bois (190) so I could match my pinks and corals to that... I'm really having fun stitching this up.

And I decided to work on a pale pink canvas - just for a change - although you don't see any of the canvas once all the stitching is done, so it could be done on good old eggshell....(But sometimes I like using a different color, just for the variety and fun of it.)

The colors remind me of the colors in the mix of little candy hearts we usually see around Valentine's Day. So how appropriate is that?!?! It's a very happy color combination to stitch with on a cold, grey, dreary winter's day...

I expect I'll have this pattern available sometime in February...until then, I gotta get back to stitching all those flighty flamingos!

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Creative Eye

Most people, when they see a photo like this in a magazine would be looking at the little boy and saying, "Oh, how cute...." When I look at this picture, I'm looking at the patterns on the sweater and saying,"Ooooh, those patterns would really look good in a stitchery design..."

And I actually did keep flipping back in the magazine to look at the sweater in this photo....and it became one of the sources of my next nordic designs: NORDIC VALENTINE. But I wanted to use bright valentine-y colors: red and blue and green. So I found a happy variegated Watercolours thread: "Passion" and began stitching, keeping focused on the hearts/valentine theme, but also incorporating other simple and fun nordic-type borders. And here's the final piece:

I'm thinking I'll turn it into a now I need to find some happy fabric that compliments this design....and sew it up!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A New Morning...

Remember the handful
of yummy jewel-tone
threads I showed
you last week?

...those ice blues, aquas,
purples, periwinkles,
with a dash
of fuchsia???

Well, here's what I did with them....

Yup, I got the whole thing stitched up! I call it MORNING GLORY. The latest of my American Quilt patterns. (It's not available yet...I still have to finish the graph and instructions, so be patient...keep checking my website: for its availability.)

And it was really, really fun to stitch. After stitching lots of other types of complex designs, it was so fun to return to the simple enjoyment of diagonal satin stitched triangles and squares. I stitched this over this past rainy weekend, while watching lots of the Weather Channel and a few movies as well!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Let it Snow!

Several months ago, Nordic Needle asked me to design a little pattern they could distribute for their January 2008 catalog. So I came up with a little snowflake design that has a very happy Nordic look to it, using wintery colors of pale blues, aquas and lavenders. And I added a bit of silver metallic in the star a few beads...

It's a fun small project, that uses a few strands of a #5 variegated pearl cotton (of course), plus blue and orchid solid color #5 pearl cottons....And a bit of silver metallic ribbon floss to add even more sparkle. I thought it would be fun to stitch as an ornament (turned on point, and a fat tassel added) or even a small pillow or box insert.

It WAS fun to stitch this little snowflake star and after I finished, I pinned it up on my art wall. I kept looking at it, and realized I really, really wanted to stitch up a larger version, with four snowflakes - in alternating colors combinations - with lots of fun, happy, easy borders. I even used a sparkly white canvas (to look like snow) so you didn't have to stitch the background. It was a fast, fun project to stitch, and before I knew it, I had whipped up the larger pattern: NORDIC SNOWFLAKES.

It has a very limited thread palette: just my favorite Watercolours 192 - Elderberry Wine, and #5 pearl cotton 208 (orchid) and 333 (that luscious blue violet) plus a new shimmery blue Ribbon Floss 148-109.

When Nordic Needle saw this completed pattern, they asked if they could use it on the cover of their catalog....and of course I said YES!

Although I framed this model, I can also see it as a wintertime pillow on a sofa or bed. And wouldn't you know it, the more I stared at the finished NORDIC SNOWFLAKES, the more I could see some other designs in the same manner: Nordic Flowers or Nordic Leaves, perhaps, or the one I'm working on next: Nordic Valentines (think bright primary colors).

That's the fun thing about just never know where one little project will lead you...(and that's the fun of following your creative curiosity).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Snow on the Roof

I bought this Melissa Shirley Christmas house canvas several years ago, and have been inching my way along as the mood hits...and time permits....I expect this project will take me several years to complete, but the process is so fun, I don't mind the wait...

Anyway, I am determined to keep as much of the dimensional painting on the canvas interpreted with the stitching, so I'm proceeding very slowly, as I figure out how to create just the right effect with my thread and stitches.

The first area I tackled was the moon, because I could just "see" it as a big pale yellow, cratered moon. I didn't want anything too flashy or distracting, so I used a random pattern of "dimpled" squares - with the biggest squares in the middle (closest to earth) and smaller ones around the horizon edges. I also blended two hues of pale yellow, keeping the palest color in the center with the darker color fading around the moon's edges. Plus, I added tiny little tent stitches in the random spaces in-between the various squares, using a pale butter-yellow soft metallic ribbon (just to add a quiet bit of reflected light on the moon's surface.)

(Sorry about the fuzziness of the photos...I quickly shot them with my new phone, so it was hard to get really sharp shots - but you can still see what I'm talking about...)

The next area I wanted to tackle was the snow-covered roof. How was I going to create that soft blanket of snow on the roof yet STILL keep the blue shadows underneath?

Here's what I came up with: I padded the snow with several rows of long diagonal stitches - most of them white #8 pearl cotton, BUT the bottom row is made with long stitches of a soft, french blue ribbon floss, that follows the blue shadow line painted on the canvas (you can see a glimpse of it in the photo). Finally, I used a snow-like Ribbon Floss (144-10: white/opal) to make VERTICAL stitches over the padded roof areas. I decided to use vertical stitches because that's the direction snow comes down, right?

The effect was exactly what I had hoped for: you can JUST see the blue ribbon floss peeking thru the top layer of the semi-transparent snowy ribbon floss, creating a realistic blue shadow, just like the painted canvas! (You can also see the effect on the moon photo above - notice that faint blue shadow on the chimney and under the snowy roofline.)

Here's another shot of the top of the house, that shows the subtle color changes of the moon, and the faint blue shadows on the snowy rooftop....

Well, now that I've been talking about it, I'm eager to finish stitching the snow on the roof and move on to something else in this canvas.

There's still a LOT of the border to stitch -- a safe area to work while I ponder my next move...I've added a small padded border in dark green to frame the canvas...and there are plenty of little white border snowflakes to stitch, plus I'm putting a white/chrystal bead in the center of each snowflake, for a sparkly finishing touch.

And it took me a while to notice that the pattern on the wall of the house is actually little trees, so I'm carefully stitching them with very pale greens, in a herringbone variation that ends up looking like trees (although doing the compensating stitches on this pattern is not very fun)...

And oh...I want to mention that I'm working the gold edge of the roof's gingerbread trim with another Ribbon Floss color I'm crazy about: 148-54 - it's a cinnamon/gold that is very dull, yet has a very discrete sparkle to it. Perfect for areas you want to have some metallic, but not real bright or harsh.

Okay, enough talking about it...time to go stitch!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Pulling Threads

Yesterday I mentioned the new projects I've just started.

Well, here are the bunches of threads I pulled for each new design.

The first one is for the new floral collage. This will be a delicate spring flower, done in cool greens and the softest of pinks and whites (maybe a little pale blue or lavender, if it's called for).... I'm using Watercolours' 141 - Alpine Moss, which is a thread I've been eager to use for some time - but I had to find JUST the right flower to use it on. (I won't tell you what the flower is....but I'll show you glimpses of it later, as I get started stitching...)

The other bunch of threads I pulled is for a new quilt design I'm thinking of calling MORNING GLORY because it's a happy, vibrant quilt that shows off lots of blues and purples, with a dash of fuchsia.

This particular color combination, with Watercolours' 192 - "Elderberry Wine", is one I seem to crave every winter. The colors remind me of winter - lots of cool blues and purples with a bright punch of teal or fuchsia. I used this same color combination last year on STARRY NIGHTS...and again, just recently on my new NORDIC SNOWFLAKES. I just can't resist those deep jewel-tone colors....they are very wintery, January colors to me... that all the threads are pulled, and the canvases are attached to their stretcher bars, it's time for me to get to work -- stitching, stitching and more stitching!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year, New Projects!

I celebrated the first day of the New Year by watching the Rose Parade and sketching out some new designs.

I realized I hadn't stitched a quilt in a while, so I decided to look through the quilt blocks on Electric Quilter (a software program for quilters to design their own quilts). It's one of the best resources I've found to search for quilt blocks. Sometimes I'm inspired by the quilt block's name...sometimes it's the block's arrangement that catches my eye. In any event, there are so many hundreds of quilt blocks, that it doesn't take long to find an interesting block and then start playing around with colors and compositions. And voila! I print out a draft layout of the desired quilt, and I have a quilt design that inspires me to start stitching....

I also realized that I needed to start another flower's been some time since I've done a new one of those too! So I sketched out a collage composition, and then sketched in some different patterns and ribbons to fit the various sections. And another design is now ready to stitch...

But of course, one of the most important elements of any new project is picking out the variegated thread I'm going to use. EVERYTHING depends on the colors within that variegated thread. So I spend a lot of time pawing through my drawer of threads, looking for JUST the right color combination that will work in whichever design I'm working on at the moment.

The next step? Cutting the canvas and attaching it to stretcher bars. Then I'm ready to start stitching. And then it's my FAVORITE part of the whole process: starting to stitch on a new project.....

Here's to a wonderful New Year, filled with wonderful New Projects!
(Now go celebrate the New Year by starting one of your own...)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's a New Day...

I have this card framed in my office, and I look at it every day.

Underneath the photo it says:
"Show me a day when the world wasn't new."
- Sister Barbara Hance (1928-1993).

A simple thought, but how profound.

It reminds me in the simplest but most powerful way that each morning when we rise and greet the sun a new day begins, and we have the chance to start anew.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year....

May each and every new day be filled with hope, wonder, peace and love.