Monday, August 31, 2009

Ever-Changing Hydrangeas

I have a couple of hydrangea bushes in the front of my house. When they began blooming in the spring, they were all pink...

And then they began turning into pale lavender blossoms...

And then they decided to turn blue...

until I had overflowing waves of blue and purple hydrangeas with scarcely any green leaves to be seen.....

What an incredible flower show these hydrangeas have performed for me this year Needless to say, I've enjoyed every single color they've displayed.... How inspiring is THAT?!?!?

(Actually, they've been incredibly inspiring for me....stay tuned for my next exciting post - featuring a new hydrangea design...)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anatomy of a Project: Color Palettes

One of the fun things I like to do when looking through magazines is see if I can find interesting and new color palettes that might be fun to try in stitchery projects. As we all know, every season colors are combined in the latest and "trendiest" colors and the powers that be decide which colors will be HOT for the upcoming year.

Here are some photos I've pulled from magazines that had color palettes that caught my eye.

Oh, YUM! Each of these color palettes gets my creative juices flowing...

Once I've found an intriguing color combination, I'll save it and then decide where I want you use it: in a floral collage?... a quilt design?.... a contemporary geometric abstract?.... a bargello pattern? (You can see how many possibilities there are, once you start playing around with color palettes.)

Then I'll look through my thread stash, or maybe take a trip to the local stitchery store to see if I can find a variegated thread that matches the color palette I've decided to work with. After I have the right variegated thread in hand, I'll start pulling the solid color threads, as well as a variety of metallics to try.

With my thread palette picked out, and my inspiration photo close by, it's time to start stitching!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Orange Dragonflies

Several of you asked about those orange dragonflies I mentioned in my last post.

Here are a few photos I took this summer while I was visiting my parents in the Bay Area.

This dragonfly was resting on a branch above a waterfall in the yard, and I stealthily(?) managed to get close enough to take these shots with a new little digital camera I was playing around with....

Frankly, I didn't realize until I got home and put the photos on my computer, how close and amazingly clear these pictures were.... And yeah, there's no mistake: these dragonflies are REALLY TRULY ORANGE, aren't they?!?


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dragonfly Summer

I haven't seen many dragonflies this summer...maybe it hasn't been hot enough around here. I usually see a couple of bright orange dragonflies hovering over my hot asphalt driveway in the late summer afternoons. So I thought I'd bring out some stitched dragonflies instead...

The first one is DRAGONFLY DANCE, shown above. It's 12" by 7", done on 18 ct mono canvas (white with silver sparkles woven thru it). The three dragonflies have metallics woven into their wings - purple, teal, blue. I surrounded them with an Art Nouveau border of swirling lines; and then filled it in with Basketweave Stitch, using a variegated thread just for fun.

The other dragonfly design is DRAGONFLY SUMMER (shown below), which is 8" by 8", stitched on pale green 24 ct. Congress Cloth. I've listed two different colorways: one is the blue and green version I stitched for the model; the other version could be purple and pink.

This dragonfly version uses a variegated silk thread (Waterlilies 068 - "Mediterranean") with other floss colors and fine metallics.

What was fun to stitch on this one, was the delicate border patterns. My favorite border was the outer "ribbon" which has tiny little dragonflies dancing along the edges, in-between the flowers; and they're stitched with the variegated silk, so they change colors along the border. Here's a closeup shot so you can see them better:

I chose to stitch this design on the pale green Congress Cloth, because I wanted a cool, leafy feel to it. But maybe the design would have shown up better on a brighter canvas - eggshell, give it a sunnier feel. Although I also think it could be worked on a 25 ct. Lugana fabric - and maybe a variegated, hand-painted fabric would REALLY give this design some extra dimension, too!

Monday, August 17, 2009

An Easy One

Sometimes stitchers will ask me which of the American Quilt Collection is best to start with, or which is easiest to stitch as a first project. There are several, actually..... The first quilts I designed (Lone Star, Bear Claw, Wild Geese) are really the easiest to stitch because their designs are simple but elegant and they only require one skein of a variegated Watercolours plus a few skeins of a background color - usually ecru.

But another easy favorite of mine is FEATHERED DIAMOND.

I like it because it LOOKS complex, but it's really not - just lots of little triangles and then lots of straight stitches - easy peasy - and FAST! I stitched this model with Watercolours "Abalone", a very monochromatic thread in blues and greens, with a dash of purpley- pink.

I've often wondered how it would look if you changed the thread colors.... Using a bolder colorway would really jazz this quilt up, I think. Or you could even add some solid colors (or, hey, what about some metallic ribbon thread, too) in the borders and also in the wavy lines of the outer border patterns. Fun to play around with, this FEATHERED DIAMOND pattern! You could stitch it up a half-a-dozen different ways and they's all look different, depending on what threads you used....

I even like the look of the center square all by itself.

It would make a cute little quilt just like this, don't you think?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Very Purple Flower

Here's another blog-style flower collage (mixing stitched flowers with real flower photos) that features clematis.
(You say CLEM-a-tis, I say cle-MAA-tis - well, however you pronouce it, it's a pretty flower...)

Here's the real flower:

And here's my stitched version:

Clematis come in the most amazing variations of purples (not to mention other colors) so I made a subtle color change on my stitched flowers. Notice how the lower flower is slightly darker than the top two flowers. It also creates the illusion of depth in the piece (instead of having all three flowers the same color). You can see the color effect better in this close-up shot:

At the time, I remember I wanted to make a really spectacular purple statement, so I just used one purple family, but later I wished I had stitched all three flowers in different colors - just to show how amazing these clematis colors are.

As you can see, I wanted a small stitch pattern that wouldn't be too disruptive but would still create a directional pattern (to mimic the the directional changes on each flower petal). Here I used a Cashmire Stitch variation.

And check out those bullion centers! Let's face it, stitchers -- while French Knots have their place and are always fun to make, there's nothing like a sexy Bullion (or two or twenty) to make a really good flower center....

So....doesn't it make you want to have some of these purple beauties climbing in your garden? (Or if you don't want to get your hands dirty, you can always stitch them instead!)

Monday, August 10, 2009

A New Quilt Design

I recently finished this new quilt design, called IDAHO STAR:

I wanted to stitch something using Watercolours 245 - "Savannah" and thought this quilt would be perfect for that thread, since the colors evoke a high mountain landscape, with green-gold meadows and ice-cold streams under bright blue skies. Here's the thread palette I used for IDAHO STAR (plus a turquoise and gold ribbon thread not shown here):

Although I must admit, as I was half-way through stitching this model, I realized this design would also look terrific in other colorways - blues and purples, for instance... or maybe a more southwestern palette of adobe and turquoise....

The actual IDAHO STAR block looks like this:

The variegated chevrons, or "arrows" are fun to stitch with 1 ply of Watercolors, and then all the other colors revolve around them. The "stars" alternate colors in each block - I used turquoise and green, for a more monochromatic look, but you could be a lot more daring with colors for a totally different look.

And the border is a little bit different too:

I've continued stitching the variegated arrows along the border edges, and then, instead of stitching the background in just one color, I decided to work the background a gradation of golden tans - which is fun to stitch, and then fun to look at after you're done.

So, if you're interested in stitching up a new quilt design (and maybe even changing the colors) you can find this new IDAHO STAR design on my website.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I'm Back!

Sorry I've been gone so long. I was sidelined by an unexpected medical problem, but now I'm (slowly) getting back into shape....

I defintely know I'm on the mend because I'm suddenly eager to pick up all my recently ignored and sadly abandoned projects and start stitching on them again. HOORAY!!

And lots of new designs that have been bubbling away for months on the back burner of my creative stove are eager to make an appearance RIGHT NOW.... So I've been cutting canvas, pulling threads, and sketching new ideas like crazy. WOO HOO! It sure feels GOOD to get back in the stitchin' mode!