Monday, July 23, 2012

Hot Days, Cool Projects

We've been having some hot days here in Northern California.  Not surprising, since it's the height of summer.  Time for cool drinks, sitting in the shade of a leafy tree or a patio, and dreaming about.....stitching, of course!

When it gets hot, I like to wear cool watery colors - blues and aquas and greens.  Same with my projects: I gravitate towards working with cool color threads - blues, greens, aquas.... Ahh!

Here are a few cool projects I've created in the past, that I thought you'd appreciate seeing in the midst of a hot summer day:

OCEAN WAVES (how perfect is that on a scorching July day?)

 MOORISH TILES (this is a real optical illusion piece!)

REFLECTING POOLS (totally cool project, but requires focusing to count all the boxes...maybe not
the best "no-brainer" piece for a hot day - grin!)

BLUEBONNET COLLAGE (just looking at these flowers makes me think of a field of bluebonnets waving in the breeze, and calms me down)

IRIS KIMONO (a very serene blue pattern)

Hope you're staying cool and enjoying all the best things about a summer's day!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Flowers: Some Stitched Hydrangeas!

It's been ages and ages since I've done a blackwork piece. One popular blackwork pattern I released  many years ago was called JACOBEAN FLOWERS.  Here's what it looked like:

Basically, I wanted to see what a variegated thread would look like in a blackwork design, and I used a variegated dark pink thread throughout the whole design.  As you can see, this piece has lots of different areas to fill with lots of different blackwork patterns.  

I always wanted to do more long blackwork pieces, but somehow never got back to that format.  Until last year when I got obsessed with doing a long hydrangea piece.  There are so many more variegated threads to use now, and I really wanted to use a thread that had blues and greens for the flowers, and then a variegated green thread for the leaves.  Here's how it finally turned out:

I got halfway through the stitching on this one before I realized that there was no way I could outline each little hydrangea floret -- duh... The only way I could finish off the mophead hydrangeas was to outline the whole shape, and unfortunately, they rather DO look like big blue mopheads - grin!  

But up close, there are lots of beads (silver and crystal ones included in the pattern) that add fun sparkle and I like using Kreinik Blending Filament in my blackwork because it adds even more sparkle:

Belatedly, I also realized that if I had added some center circles to each flower, they would make great sunflowers, or roses, or camellias, or peonies!  So I've added that option to the drawing in the pattern that you trace onto your fabric, so you have a broader choice of flowers to stitch:

See how different the design looks now?  (Can you imagine these flowers as sunflowers, with dark beaded centers? Or cottage roses with gold centers?)  Anyway, that gives even more color options for these flowers, and the instructions tell you how to stitch the centers as well.

[ASIDE: I might add here that the way I learned to do blackwork was to trace the drawing onto evenweave fabric, then just start stitching in each space, filling them with geometric blackwork patterns.  Since blackwork is essentially backstitching in a repetitive manner, once you know your pattern you just keep stitching it over and over until it fills the space.  I find this "fill in" method much more enjoyable and relaxing than working from a stitch-by-stitch graph -- I find it goes faster that way, so that's the way my blackwork instructions are written.]

So if any of you enjoy blackwork, like I do, or maybe would like to try creating your own blackwork flowers, please visit my website for more information on this new BLACKWORK HYDRANGEAS pattern....

Friday, July 13, 2012

Some Stitched Friday Flowers!

Now that the sizzling hot days of summer are upon us, I want to share with you my cool new cyber class offering -- "DAYLILY."  I've been stitching these two canvases over the last month or so, and totally enjoying the process.  My goal was to finish them in time to have a class this summer, and now that they are ready, so am I!  

In my flower photos, I had a really great shot of a daylily that offered a nice big shape that works perfectly for some shadow stitching -- nothing difficult or complex, no blending of different colors or stopping and starting different thread types -- just a big hunk of yellow that was screaming for some stitch patterns!

So I pulled some silk threads and started stitching.... added a border.... and a few simple textural stitches.... and eventually ended up with this:

I was all set to post this yellow daylily as a cyber class a week ago, when it occurred to me that as lemony yellow as this flower was, not everybody loves yellow.  So.... maybe I could tweek the photo to get another color daylily, and sure enough, after I photoshopped it a bit, I was able to get a darker orange flower that has a rather autumnal feel to it (I especially like the purple that shows up in the background) -- maybe it could be the last daylily of the season, just before Halloween. So I quickly stitched THAT one up, too:

Now they are both done and ready to show to you.  The registration period for the DAYLILY cyber class starts now and runs through August; the class will start September 8th (the weekend after Labor Day).  I've just posted all the cyber class information on my Laura J. Perin Designs website, so you can visit there to get all the particulars....

And here's a close-up look at the yellow daylily that shows a bit of each of the stitches highlighted in the class, in case you're curious. By the way, those center stamens were fun to stitch - I just laid a whole strand of silk Spendor along the lines, then couched them down; afterwards I added the dark anther heads with fat bullions:

(P.S.: Just so you know, the first two photos seem a bit dull in color because I've backed them with a piece of dark green paper (so the stitch holes show up better) .  Here's another photo with a piece of white paper slipped underneath half the canvas.  Much brighter, huh?  It's interesting to see the subtle differences between the white and dark backing and how the thread colors change as a result... Just something to consider when framing shadow stitched canvases, or any canvas that has the background colors exposed:)


Monday, July 9, 2012

Mini Mystery Monday, Floral Surprise - FINI!

Well, these weeks have gone by quickly, haven't they?
So now we're ready to finish up by adding the final flower arrangement in the center.

Here's the overall graph for you to follow:

Did you guess it was going to be a bluebonnet???  I borrowed a few bluebonnet flowers from my larger design, "BLUEBONNET COLLAGE", because I thought these little stitched flowers looked remarkably like the Texas flowers (although here in the West we call them lupines and they come in other colors besides blue - like pink and white and yellow). Here's the full BLUEBONNET COLLAGE piece for you to see:

And here's a closer look at the way the little flowers are created (without the french knots, so you can see the stitches better):

Once you've stitched your bluebonnets, as shown above you can add the french knots, with 1 strand of your light flower color, and then you're done.  Or you can certainly use beads instead of the french knots, if you prefer....  Here's how my little bluebonnet mystery turned out:

I hope you've enjoyed this project and will try it in other flower colors as well.... and even try it on different canvas colors, to see what other effects you can achieve. ( I think it would look really lovely done in soft whites, on the pale green canvas...or maybe use pale pinks or yellows...what do you think?)

 Until next time, Monday stitchers, have fun finishing this one up!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day!

It's time for a little flag waving,
so here are a few of my favorite Fourth of July designs:

Clockwise from upper left: Stars & Stripes Forever!, Independence Day, Independence Inn, and Liberty Star.

Hope you have a grand & glorious Fourth, and maybe even get a bit of stitching done (in between watching parades, eating hot dogs and admiring fireworks, of course).....

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mini Mystery Monday, Floral Surprise pt. 3

Happy Monday, stitchers!

Now we can move ahead to actually adding some flowers to our mystery project.

Here's the next graph for you to follow:

 As you can see, you'll be filling in the small diamond-shaped openings of your lattice with very simple flowers.  Make your flowers with 1 strand of your light flower color, and then add a
cross stitch on top, with 1 strand of your gold braid.

Also, you can add elongated cross stitches in the narrow opening under each scallop of your outer border; plus sneak in a small smyrna cross at each corner of your scalloped border.  Here's a stitch diagram for those different elements:

 Have fun adding these sweet little elements, and then next Monday we'll finish up with the center flower!  (Are you thinking you know what kind of flower it will be?  Just wait....and maybe you'll be right!)