Monday, August 31, 2015

Splish Splash...

One of the best ways I know to stay cool on a hot summer's day is to sit under a ceiling fan and work on a project that has cool blues and greens in it -- which is my idea of color therapy!

One of my favorite blue and green designs is REFLECTING POOLS, done many years ago...

It was the first piece I created for my "Impressionist Collection" because it was such an asymmetrical abstract, it really didn't fit with my other more traditional samplers.  It was also the first piece I created using a technique that still fascinates me today: mixing "heavy" #5 pearl cotton variegated threads with "light" stranded silk or cotton threads in the same colorways, just to see what happens when you put them side by side.  Here's an example of what I mean:

The border areas in REFLECTING POOLS are stitched with 1 ply of a 3-ply #5 Caron Watercolours thread; and the same stitch pattern is worked "on the other side of the border line" but using 1 or 2 ply of a finer cotton or silk thread (in this case, Caron Waterlilies).  You're making the same stitch pattern, but all of a sudden it looks different - paler, softer, farther away.  Here's another example:

While the thicker #5 version has a richer, more solid look to it, the thinner version looks totally different, doesn't it?   I love the lacy-ness of those inner patterns, although the variegated colors really pop in the heavier border areas.  When comparing the two versions I rather think those "light" versions would make terrific background patterns for painted canvas pieces.   And notice how different the plain ol' Basketweave Stitch looks when done with 1-2 ply of a stranded silk, against the more solid chunk of Basketweave done with the #5 Watercolours.  Interesting, huh?

NOTE: I used a family of Caron Watercolours, Wildflowers, and Waterlilies in 068 - "Mediterranean" for this piece, and yes, the thread colors between the different thread types are different.  But you know, that's one of the things I like about using variegated threads -- every stitched piece will look slightly (or even greatly) different, since dye lots can change drastically over the years -- because that makes every stitched piece unique.... 

Anyway, this piece was stitched over 10 years ago, but I love it just as much now, and it is still refreshing to look at, especially on a hot summer's day. The darker border areas remind me of mosaic tiles around the edge of a swimming pool, while the inner patterns are a softer, paler reflection of those same tiles, only seen under the shimmer of an imaginary pool..... Ooooooh, very cool!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Oh, Lovely Summer Days!

Today we had cool foggy morning, burning off to blue skies with none of the hazy smoke from northern fires.  The blue skies make me think of a favorite quilt design I created several years ago, for a store that requested a design that used a piece of rectangular canvas (for the leftover strip of canvas stores get from cutting many squares).  That design is called SUMMER DAYS, and looks like this:

I loved working with the variegated Watercolours 214 - "St. Tropez" because of it's muted blues, aquas and yellows.  I've always think it has a very French Provincial look, n'est pas??

And this was one of the first designs I used a "shiny" rayon Ribbon Floss in the background areas, to give it a different look and texture.  Here's an up-close look at the rest of the fun borders I enjoyed stitching around the central blocks:

Looking at this happy piece gave me the idea of quickly graphing a small freebie project for you today that uses the classic star block, as seen in the quilt above.... then adding a fun little border around it.  I'm calling it  A LITTLE SUMMER FUN:

I've graphed it in a fun red, white and blue color scheme, but you can use any handful of threads you want to play around with.  And I've given you two different border treatments to choose from: a striped one or a wavy one.  I've put them both in the graph, but you can just pick your favorite and stitch it on all four sides. Also, although I've graphed the borders in red and white, you could also stitch the red sections with your variegated thread, to spread the color out from the center motif and to give it a more monochromatic look....

Anyway, I hope this fun little project puts a smile on your face and helps you enjoy your own sweet summer days.   And, HAPPY FRIDAY!

Monday, August 17, 2015

A New Autumn Cyber Class

Here in Northern California, the skies are very hazy with smoke from fires raging further up north.  Added to the hot temperatures we've been having this week, it's feeling more and more like fall is on its way.  I've even found some small acorns on the ground under the oak trees lining the (pathetically dry) creek we walk along each day. 

Which got me to thinking, then designing, and finally stitching a new fall cyber class project that I'm calling AUTUMN LEAVES:

It's 8" x 8" on sandstone 18 ct. canvas, done as a companion to my earlier CORSAGE and FLEUR-DE-LIS pieces that many of you have stitched.  I stitched the model with greens and golds - using Watercolours 285 "Sherwood Forest"  with DMC #5 pearls 934 & 936 for my green version....

But for those of you who aren't as crazy in love with green as I am, you may prefer the teal version, which uses Watercolours 010 - "Fiesta" and uses DMC #5 pearls 500 & 501.  Below are the basic threads used for both versions:

I had a really fun time creating four different leaf patterns, with four different itty bitty leaf stitches in each of the stitch boxes.  Then there's a large central leaf that is easily stitched with irregular diagonal stitches.  Pretty easy stitching overall, with LOTS of fall colors woven throughout the design...

So if you're starting to crave those bright fall colors, you might like to sign up now for my new cyber class, that won't start until late fall - November 2015.  For more information on this new AUTUMN LEAVES cyber class, please jog on over to my website and see all the additional information.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Vacation Retreat

Hey, Counted Canvas Stitchers:
Do you need a secret summer hideout?
 A vacation retreat in the mountains or by the water?
A sweet little cabin you can relax in,
 reading and stitching and watching the clouds roll by?

Well, why not STITCH UP you own little country cabin, with my brand new

I've been itching to create another panel project for some time now (using the same format
as the long NORDIC PANEL I did last year as an exclusive Nordic Needle project),
because it really was a lot of fun to stitch, with interesting patterns divided by
a handful of cheerful borders.  And I wanted to add a cute little cabin surrounded
by tall trees, just to give it a summertime feel. 
 I also mixed in some of my favorite design elements from 
American quilts, Indian blankets, and country style to give it a real rustic feel.

 Here's a close-up look at the middle cabin section:

This 7.25" x 18.5" piece was stitched on 18 ct. canvas in eggshell,
 but sandstone could also work for a more woodsy look.... 
I stitched my model in greens and browns (the Mountain Cabin version), but
the pattern also includes an alternate thread palette with blues and browns
 (the Lakeside Cabin version).
Either way, it's a darn fun piece to stitch up, let me tell ya!!

So if you'd like to stitch up your own country retreat,
 please mosey on over to my website and
 check out the thread lists and ordering information....