Friday, February 29, 2008

At the Beach

This past Presidents' Day weekend, my stitchery friends and I rented a house in Bodega Bay where we could sit and stitch ALL weekend long. Bliss.

In the past, we've rented a house in Half Moon Bay, but this year we needed to find another house to rent and decided to try Bodega Bay (a little farther north, above San Francisco). It's always a little iffy going by photos when you rent a house. But I think we were all pleasantly surprised at the house we rented. And as you might imagine, our stitchery specifications were quite definite: we needed lots of good light, lots of comfortable seating, and lots of elbow room to spread out our stuff. Oh yeah, and enough bedrooms and bathrooms for all of us.

Well, it certainly met our requirements. Turns out the house was about 100 yards from Hwy 1 - which is a two-laned road that winds along the California coast, at times only a few yards from the ocean. So, we had a perfect panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean at all times....

On Saturday, the sky was sunny and blue all day - like the top photo shows - a perfectly beautiful coastal winter day. Then the sun disappeared and the remaining days were overcast and grey, like the photo below shows:

Which didn't hamper our stitching one little bit... No matter what the weather, it was truly stitching bliss!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just a Little Heart...

Recently, I was reading in Janet Perry's site (NUTS ABOUT NEEDLEPOINT) about her suggestions for different ways of finishing needlepoint projects. I found it particularly timely because I had just finished stitching up the sweet little canvaswork heart (a Barbara Richardson design in the Jan/Feb issue of Needlepoint Now magazine).

Although the magazine model was stitched all in winter whites & golds for a box top, I wanted to stitch it in variegated reds & pinks, so I went thru my stash of home-dyed threads and found a suitable colorway to stitch on pink canvas (just for fun). I envisioned a happy valentiney heart that I could make into a stuffed ornament, that I might hang on a doornob somewhere in the house.

The photo above shows how far I've gotten....I wasn't worrying about how it turned out - I just wanted to experiment with the stitches and threads. I improvised a bit, made a few boo-boos....but I just had fun with it. It's a fun project, with several areas of fun stitch patterns to play with. And I particularly enjoyed stitching the center row of hearts - each one in a different pattern.

Maybe I'll stitch a bit more around the hearts....maybe I won't...but I'm looking forward to turning it into an ornament that I can display all year round.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Thank You, Pierrette & Janet!

I was delightfully surprised to get two emails last week from two different stitchers - Pierrette (Love To Stitch) and Janet (Nuts about Needlepoint) - who had both given me their "You Made My Day" Award. What a lovely treat!

When I decided to start a blogsite last year, my mission was to share my thoughts, ideas, and stitching projects with other stitchers who love stitching as much as I do. And it's truly been wonderful meeting and visiting the large community of stitchers that stretches around the world.

Aren't we fortunate to be able to get a glimpse into the lives of other stitchers; to look out their windows at their view of the world; and to peek over their shoulders at whatever project they are stitching? Although we may never physically meet, we have found a way to become friends with stitchers around the world, who, just like us, are delighted, challenged, and inspired by the whole wide world of stitching.

To all those stitchers who share their love of stitching with the world: I give you ALL my "HEARTS AFIRE" Award (see the above Hearts Afire photo).

May we continue connecting through our common interests; spreading joy and beauty; warming and lighting up the world with our stitching!

Friday, February 22, 2008


Where DOES the time go?!?

Here it is, practically the end of February, and I haven't done any blogging since Feb. 5th. Well...time to update you all on the projects I've finished this month.

Here's the finished FLAMINGOS IN FLIGHT:

Very upbeat, sort of tropical and a little bit of deco thrown in, too. It was really fun to stitch up (VERY easy stitches), and I particularly enjoyed seeing the juicy fruit colors come to life on the canvas. Although, when I look at it, I do think it would be a really wonderful pattern to change the colors. While I love the pink/peach/lavender combo, I can also "see" it in tropical blues/greens/turquoises...Can you see it that way too?

And here's the other project I've finished this month, the LILY OF THE VALLEY COLLAGE:

Can you recognize it from the "mystery" collage I showed you a few weeks ago?
Did you guess which flower would be going into the center block?

I had planned to stitch the ribbons with white pearl cotton, but when I started stitching them they were TOO stark white and way TOO bright, so I ripped out and stitched the ribbons with the palest blue I could find. The only place I used white pearl cotton was in the highlights of the actual lily of the valley flowers.

And the pale background is done with Caron Wildflowers in 141-Alpine Moss, which matches the thicker Watercolours 141 that I used thruout the rest of the boxes. Just using one strand of a thin, single-ply variegated cotton can create such a lovely watercolory washed effect on your canvas....I used a simple four-way diamond pattern here, but I've also done a simple zig zag pattern, which looks equally lovely. As you can see, it makes a terrific background for any canvas design!

[NOTE: Thes patterns are not quite available yet...please check my website in a week or two, and - hopefully - they should be available by then...]

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Another W.I.P.

Here's another current Work In Progress:

It's the next design in my flower collage series. Remember, I showed you the palette of pink and green threads a week or two ago? Well, I spent some time this week working in tandem with my laptop on one side, and this canvas on my other side -graphing, then stitching, graphing, then stitching...I usually try to use my computer to graph out the various boxes and get each design centered within each box - before stitching them - so I don't have to do any ripping out on the canvas.

The whole design is worked in #5 pearl cottons - with the exception of the fine background thread (shown in the top upper right corner), which in this case is a single ply cotton of Wildflowers (in the same color as the main Watercolours thread - 141, "Alpine Moss".)

These colors are very soft and pastel. Just right for a delicate springtime flower. Can you guess what it will be?? (You'll just have to wait and see, won't you?)

Although, as this pattern develops on the canvas, I'm suddenly thinking that this would make a great wedding sampler! Instead of a flower in the center box, how about stitching the couple's name and wedding date? Wouldn't that look lovely?

Here's an up-close look at some of the patterns. They are created from very simple stitches, but combined in unusual ways to create new patterns. Notice the way the variegated thread looks when you create a diagonal grid foundation (lower right box). The colors flow softly - like a watercolor painting - across the box, creating a very subtle flow of colors upon which you can add the primary design elements inside the boxes. The use of a variegated thread for the grid - instead of a flat solid color - immediately creates more depth and dimension in the space. Doesn't it look like a shadowy lattice flickering in dappled sunlight? ...Also, note the empty 2x2 space at the grid intersections; here I'll add a small smyrna cross, probably in a metallic thread, which will create a bit of sparkle in the overall grid pattern.

Here's a up-close look at the patterns on the left: a simple ribbon pattern, a small cluster of bell flowers, and another box pattern created from composite stitches. Note the large pink rice stitches (over 8x8 threads) in the bottom pattern. Using these large rice stitches creates a lovely lacy design. These are alternated with a quartet of elongated & tied crosses (very easy to do, but they create a satisfyingly dense pattern...and using the variegated thread gives a soft watercolor flow across the whole pattern).

And here's the small ribbon pattern on the right side. It's so lovely - and fun to stitch as well. There's a slightly scalloped edge; two long laid stitches of the metallic Ribbon Floss tied down with simple crosses; and inside, composite stitches that create a raised ribbon look. Here, the variegated thread is used in tied bundles that march along the ribbon center - another way to effectively use variegated thread to move the soft colors across the ribbon's length.

Anyway, I'm having fun working these delicate patterns. Every time I think up a new ribbon pattern, or a new box pattern, I think, "Ohhh, I like THIS one best!" and then I stitch up the next one and think the same thing. ...That's what is so fun about designing - you can indulge your creative playfulness and explore all sorts of stitch, color, and thread combinations!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Flamingos on the Go!

Remember last week, I showed you the palette of pink, coral and lavender threads I was using to create FLAMINGOS IN FLIGHT? Well, here's that work currently in progress:

The main blocks are easy to stitch up...and I wanted to use two pale colors for the background: pale pink and pale coral...Of course, the overall effect won't be seen until it's all stitched, but I think it's coming along nicely... and I can't wait until it's finished.

And as usual, as I'm stitching this one, I'm visualizing it in OTHER color combinations. Although I chose a pink palette for the model, I think it would look really great in blues and greens....or how about all reds?? The scalloped border area gives it a sort of valentiney look (although I was trying for a art deco look to go with the flamingo blocks). So I can definitely see it with a red variegated thread, in combination with solid reds and/or pinks....

And I've added a bit of soft metallic, with two different Ribbon Floss colors - one is a deep coral accent, and the other is the palest coral diamonds that appear in the scalloped border areas.

Anyway, I'm almost done with this design, and I'm really having fun stitching it.