Saturday, February 28, 2009

What A Web!

I was cruising around the web this weekend, and found a few more interesting stitching/needlepoint blogs to add to my "must read" list. What a treat to find more needlepoint sites.... Isn't it always fascinating, educating and even liberating to see what other stitchers are doing on their canvases?

Here they are:

Stitches and More

The Cape Stitcher

Summer Louise

I really enjoyed looking/reading all of these blogs because they have great detailed photos of their stitching progress. They all provide even more threads, canvases, stitches, and ideas for us to consider as we tackle our own projects....

Which is really one of the best things about sharing things on the web -- not only are we creating something for our OWN enjoyment, but letting other stitchers see what we're doing expands the whole world of stitching, making us all a part of a really, really big stitchers community!

Friday, February 27, 2009

It's All About Organization

As any stitcher knows, so much of stitching revolves around organizing. Organizing your threads; organizing your patterns; organizing your beads; organizing your unfinished projects; organizing your finished projects.... The list goes on and on.

I've followed with much interest fellow bloggers who, in their quest to find the perfect system, are constantly organizing their stitching projects as a way of managing their stitching life. I'm fascinated by their ongoing determination to organize their projects by designer, season, technique, size - or anything else you can think of.

I'm particularly intrigued by the "rotation" method: rotating through your stash of unfinished projects so you get a little bit done on each project in its turn. I also love the idea of stitching by season: working on the appropriate designs, season by season, or holiday by holiday. Gosh, I wish I were that efficient!

My own method seems to be: "What am I in the mood to stitch now?" Which works most of the time, but sometimes I get stuck in that uncomfortable dithery place, where I simply can't decide WHICH project I'm in the mood for. (It's like trying to drive a car while stuck in neutral -- you spin your wheels, but don't GO anywhere, and just end up getting totally frustrated.)

I should also mention that as a designer, I classify my projects into two groups: 1) the WORK group (my own designs), and 2) the FUN group (other designers' stuff). While I'm constantly yearning to stitch on the fun stuff, I always guilty about stitching on it, because I have so much "WORK" stuff to stitch. (Yeah, Yeah... It's a tough life, but someone has to do it.) And since I have constantly changing deadlines, I am constantly re-prioritizing my project list, somewhat like a card dealer constantly shuffling his card deck!

Anyway, back to the organization theme... I've decided to try a slightly different approach to managing my stitching projects (the WORK ones). I'm going to try using the "Tickler Tree" that I've made (see above photo). I had one of those card holder thingys.... which I never remember to put cards in, but is too cute to throw out. So the other day, INSPIRATION STRUCK. I thought, "Hey, what if I made tiny cards with my projects on them, and put them on the card holder?" That way, I can rearrange them by priority and best of all, see at a glance which projects I need to get finished first.

Brilliant! So now I've got my Tickler Tree sitting primly in my office, quietly reminding me of all the projects I have to WORK on..... Time will tell if it's a good idea, or just something else to organize.....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Between Raindrops

We had lots of rain this past weekend. Finally.

In between the storms, I went outside and took these shots
of the flowers in my yard....

because, despite all the wind and rain, the flowers will bloom...

and continue to unfold...

...waiting patiently for the sun to come out again....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Valentine Threads

Several stitchers have asked me what threads I used on my "freebie" valentine model that I posted a few weeks ago.

Here are the threads I used:

First, I used a variegated thread (a #8 pearl cotton) that I dyed myself, so there's nothing QUITE like it out there....however, if you use Wildflowers (a single ply cotton from Caron Collection) in color 025 - "Holiday" or even 005 - "Nefertiti" (has some blues), you'll come close.

Then I used DMC #5 pearl cotton 436 for the gold solid color.

And also two of my most favorite soft metallic ribbon colors: Ribbon Floss 148-047 - "honey copper" for the gold; and Ribbon Floss 148-039 - "wine/red" for the deep red.

For the finer gold grid behind the heart, I used one of Kreinik's #4 Braids, in a vintage gold, 002V... but you can use any gold that you have on hand.

I hope this gives you some extra inspiration for stitching those valentines!

(And after I stitched this valentine in red and gold, I thought, "Gee, wouldn't that look pretty in gold and blue?.... or even gold and rose?" There are lots of color possibilities with this one, so have fun with it....)

Monday, February 23, 2009


Ooooooh, thread lovers.... check this out!

This weekend, whilst rambling through online stitchery sites, I stumbled upon another great place to reseach threads.

Actually, I was trying to find some sort of cross-reference or thread guide that would show me which new Threadworx threads corresponded to the old Needle Necessities Floss Overdyed colors. (Are you like me and have a stash of old Floss Overdyed skeins and would like to see how the new Threadworx variegated colors compare? Well, read on...)

Anyway, I finally ended up at NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK's website:


Not only do they post a picture of every color of Threadworx's Overdyed Floss, but they include the old Needle Necessities color number, if applicable. What a wonderful thing to do for all us stitchers!

I also had a blast checking out their color lists for various other types of threads. I was especially pleased to see a full list of Caron Collection's Watercolours. The pictures are WONDERFUL -- you can actually see most of the variegated skein's colors. It's a great way to see the true thread colors, which helps you decide on the threads for your next project. I spent some time hop, skip & jumping thru their very extensive list of threads. I can tell you that I'll be visiting this site again, very soon....

So, THANK YOU, CATHE RAY AND STAFF, for all the hard work you've put into your website... just to provide an extra-special thread-choosing tool for all of us stitchers! [Aside: Needle In a Haystack is a stitchery store in Alameda, California with a fantastic line of all things needlework.... just like their website. And if you want to keep abreast of what's new in the needlework world, read their "What's New" section, which provides tantalizing blurbs on all sorts of new stitchery items - not to mention the latest in new threads.]

So, all you thread lovers out there: go and oogle all the luscious threads there are for us to choose from... I dare you NOT to get inspired by looking at all these threads (not to mention doing a little online shopping!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Pre-Valentine's Day!

So, here's my finished valentine for this year, stitched up from the freebie pattern on my website:

I really thought I was going to do a "winter white" valentine on the red canvas. But then I was browsing through a magazine and saw this red and gold cup and saucer.

And I thought, "Ooooooh, wouldn't a gold valentine look scrumptious on that red canvas?"

So, I pulled some red and gold threads and started stitching right away.
And, in my typical tweeky designer way, I made a few modifications to the original graph as I was stitching.

Check out my heart pattern - Version 2 - on my website, if you want to stitch another heart with a slightly different pattern from the first version.

Oh, and if you want to try a PINK version of the valentine, I'll offer you this magazine photo as inspiration!

(Can't you just see a "winter white" valentine on pink canvas, with just a touch of soft pink metallics?!? Oh, YUM, another deliciously fun idea....)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Two Hardanger Valentines

Well, here's another old pattern that hasn't seen the light of day for lo, these many years, called TWO RED VALENTINES:

I like doing Hardanger. It's exciting and rather dangerous.... you know, CUTTING the fabric after you've done a lot of the stitching! Scary stuff, right?
But of course, I can't do Hardanger in ONE color. Nooooooo, I always want to see what it will look like in different colors - or better yet, in a variegated color!
[Aside: Yup, what can I tell you, except I'm afraid I'm totally addicted to variegated threads. Can't. Stop. Using them. Ever.]

So here was my attempt to see if I could make two different "valentines" that were the same size, but with different designs that incorporated 1) Hardanger motifs, 2) blackwork motifs, 3) woven ribbon borders with wrapped roses, 4) two different variegated color palettes, and 5) two distinctly different canvas colors.

One has a more traditional hearts & flowers theme:

Here it is up-close:

The other has a floral theme:

And here's this one close up:

And, if you're interested, both of these designs were worked on 25 ct. Congress Cloth; and each design measures approx. 7.5" by 7.5".

Monday, February 9, 2009

Are Your Hearts All Afire Yet?

Keeping with this week's valentiney heart theme, I thought I'd show you some of my other heart designs. The pattern above is an older one called HEARTS AFIRE. I just wanted to do a bunch of heart shapes floating around like balloons and fill them with different composite stitch patterns. It's kinda silly really, but it was fun, too.

My favorite thing about this design is the lovely Watercolours skein I used: 028 - "Confetti". [Aside: don't you just love the names of all these threads? I think they add a magical allure to each thread, making them even MORE irresistable...] It has a yummy mix of dusty pinks, with pale golds, greens, teals, you can pick and choose the contrasting colors you want to highlight. (Of course, I can't guarantee that current dyelots are the same as the one I used many years ago, but chances are "Confetti" is still a happy mix of mid-range pastel colors.)

Here's an up-close look at part of the pattern:

As you can see in the close-up shot, I also stitched it on eggshell canvas that has gold metallic flecks in it. A good "cheater" canvas, when you don't want to stitch all the background areas.

If you ever get a chance to pick up a piece of this fancy canvas, do so... it makes a great background for ornaments when you leave the background unstitched - because it still looks elegant! (FYI: This metallic canvas also comes in white with silver metallic flecks, and white with opalescent flecks - like snow. It's available in 18 ct. mono canvas, as well as 25 ct. Congress Cloth.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Friday Treat

Last weekend, for Super Bowl Sunday, I had planned to have an all-day stitch fest (sort of a stitch blitz, if you get my drift...) Instead, I ended up with my laptop on my lap, designing several little projects, and leapfrogging back and forth between Animal Planet's PUPPY BOWL and Sci Fi's GHOST HUNTERS marathon. Never did get any stitching done.... Go figure.

Anyway, one of the little projects I graphed out was a fun little valentine treat that I'm sharing with you plenty of time for you stitch up for Valentine's Day next week, if you're interested, and need something else to stitch (ha, ha).

Here's a glimpse at the graph:

You can print out the complete pattern on my website, in the FREE PATTERNS page. The apprx. size is 4.5" x 4.5" on 18 ct canvas.

I haven't had the chance to stitch it up yet, and I don't give you any thread names, only the most basic color options. But I think this will be a fun pattern to play around with. At first, I thought it would be fun to stitch in assorted pinks or reds on a neutral background - like a traditional valentine. But on second thought, I remembered I have a piece of red mono canvas that I've never stitched on, and wouldn't it be fun to reverse the colors, and stitch a winter white valentine on red canvas (or any other dark-colored canvas)?

And of course, there are all sorts of ways to mix & match thread types. You can use pearl cottons for the scalloped border, a variegated thread for the inside diamond pattern, add some metallic sparkle (whichever is your favorite - Neon Rays, Ribbon Floss, Flair, etc.), work the background pattern in fine threads (like #8 pearl cotton, or maybe a fine silk) to give it a delicate lacy look..... any of these possibilities will work in this design. And for the center heart: how about creating a padded heart? Or maybe attaching a heart charm? A ceramic heart button? And if you're a bead person, there are lots of places to add your favorite beads. I'm telling you, once you start playing around with this design, there are all sorts of fun possibilities!

I still haven't decided how I will stitch my valentine, but I'm looking forward to playing around with it this weekend. Hope you enjoy stitching one, too!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Hey, Stitchers.... I just found a great thread-shopping site you should visit if you want to browse for different thread types from the comfort and privacy of your own computer. It's A to Z Needlepoint, run by my local stitchery store, The Regal Rabbit, in Windsor, California.

The store owner, Diane McGregor, was telling me all about it one day when I was shopping in her store. We were talking about how many different types of threads there are and how hard it is sometimes to find just the right thread for your canvas. She suggested I check out her website and search the thread section; she has spent many hours listing practically every thread in her store, in order to give stitchers the best possible way to select and order threads online. Not only are the threads organized by COMPANY and TYPE, but also - most significantly - by COLOR FAMILY and DMC NUMBER!

For instance, say you're going to start stitching on a valentine canvas and want to use the red color of DMC 814. But what other types of threads (metallics, silks, rayons, wools, etc.) match that particular red? Just go to A-Z Needlepoint's thread section, type in the DMC number, and . . . Voila! up pops a screen with all the possible thread types that match that specific DMC color. And as you browse around all the various individual skeins of thread, each has its corresponding DMC number listed on its main page, so you can get a definite idea of what the color exactly IS.

And, in addition, Diane took the time to add very helpful tips about using each and every type of thread on her website. Want to try a twisted silk thread, but are unsure how to use it? Read Diane's tips and you'll learn how to use the thread and feel confident enough to give a new thread a try.... It's MORE wonderful information right at your fingertips. Here's a sample of Diane's description of Trebizond:

"Trebizond is a twisted filament thread that is extremely shiny and can be used on canvas as well as on linen. The weight, luster and composition are unique and can be used for embroidery as well as canvas work. Stitch with a length no longer than 18 inches to maintain the luster of the thread. Be careful to keep the twist of the thread to maintain its sheen. This thread makes beautiful leaves and flowers."

Isn't that marvelous? You've really got to visit her website and browse through all the thread collections. It's also a great way to see if certain types of threads have just the color you're looking for. Do you need a soft ribbon, such as Neon Rays, in a particular shade of pink? Well, here's the place to see if such a color exists! (And, yes, of course, everything is available for convenient online ordering.) What a great way to spend the day oogling all those yummy threads and planning out your next canvas project!

Monday, February 2, 2009


Now that it's February, has everyone started working on their hearts and valentines?

I thought I'd share some of my older valentine designs....Just to get us all in the right mood!

Many years ago,I went through quite a feverish blackwork phase, and one of my first (and very elaborate) attempts was this VICTORIAN VALENTINE:

I was inspired to try and recreate an ornate and frilly Victorian Valentine using red cotton floss (1 ply), a fine red Kreinik blending filament, a fine gold metallic, and simple blackwork patterns. The border areas were rather tedious, with lots of repetitious patterns:

But the valentine itself was fun, stitched in a large flowery blackwork pattern; and couched with a fat braid I twirled myself of pearl cotton thread. And I contrasted it with a rather simple and much smaller background pattern:

And after I finished stitching the valentine, I realized it needed a center focal point, so I attached a big acrylic jewel. I guess I could also have attached a gold or brass charm in the center. An old-fashioned heart locket would look lovely, wouldn't it?