Thursday, January 17, 2013

An Old Favorite Shines Again

I was printing up some older quilt designs this week and realized how much I enjoyed stitching this classic SHINING STAR design:

I always wanted to quilt something this complex, but knew I could never get all those fiddly triangular shapes to match up if I sewed them, so I figured out how to create the pattern on needlepoint canvas -- and THAT I COULD DO!

This is one of the few patterns that uses four variegated Watercolours threads, combined with four more solid color pearl cottons.  I was focused on re-creating an Amish quilt, with those rich jewel-tone colors of blues, purples and pinks.

And I LOVED stitching this piece!  It looks complex, with all those small elements, but really it was very easy and fast.  (Personally, I think it's one of my easiest quilts to stitch...)  I worked just one quadrant of the star first (the upper right section), and once I had that section completed, I could use it to continue stitching the remaining three quadrants that are mirror images of the first. 

Working the rectangular outer border was a no-brainer, too - except for keeping track of which color goes where!  Then I always leave the ecru background for last.... and on this piece, the different stitch directions create a really dazzling play of shifting light and dark ecru. Here's a shot that shows what I mean:

I created this design back in 1998, and at that time I only had a black and white printer to use for the graph.  Because this really is such a classic design, and truly one of my all-time favorites, I decided to take the time this week to revamp the whole pattern, incorporating COLOR symbols this time around (woo hoo), so it's much easier to work from the graphs and is a breeze to print on my big color laser printer.

So if you love Amish quilts (like I do) and want something really fast and fun to stitch, please consider my newly-updated SHINING STAR!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mini Mystery Monday, January pt. 3

Just a few more stitches and we'll be done with this month's mystery piece, so let's get started!

All that remains to be done is fill in the area between the zig zag rows.  Here's the next graph for you to follow, showing three possible options:

And again, you can see that I've selected three different filling stitches you can choose from.

Option A is the simplest; lay whichever thread you want (the fatter metallic ribbon is a good choice), then couch it down with a few straight stitches done with the thin #8 Braid metallic, or even your dark pearl cotton color.

Option B is another fast and easy filling; just lay a trio of diagonal stitches in the zig zag space and cover the intersections with a metallic straight stitch.

Option C is the more complex filling, but it's not hard; it's a wonky, "stretched" cross stitch that fills the space and is then tied down at the middle with a small metallic stitch.  Here's what that Stretched Tied Cross looks like up close:

It's a strange stitch in that it's three stitches covering a four-holed area, but somehow it works.  It looks especially good using the fatter metallic ribbon, tied down with the #8 Braid.  The fatter ribbon thread covers a multitude of sins, so if you get your stitches in the wrong holes it's OKAY... the stitches cover the space just fine, no matter where your three long stitches are placed.

After you fill all your zig zag rows, all that's left to do is add some beads. Again, you can decide how many or what type of beads you want on your piece.  As the larger graph above shows, I've placed beads at the points where the snowflake/star tips touch.  If you stitched the Eyelet Stars, you can also add larger beads in those holes, to alternate with smaller beads at the star intersections.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this Mini Mystery piece.  It's a very versatile ornament and would be fun to stitch in lots of different colors and threads.  Please experiment with different stitch combinations as well.... I'll bet you'll come up with lots of great ornaments using this one design!

Friday, January 11, 2013

First New Pattern of 2013!

Here it is, the start of a New Year.  And you know what that means?  MORE NEW DESIGNS to share with you!  Woo Hoo!!

I'm hoping you're gonna love this one, because it's something some of you stitchers have requested over the past year - another season in the Long Panel series.   So, TA DA, here it is:  the LONG WINTER PANEL.....

I had fun stitching this one up, since it's very monochromatic (using the french blue family of DMC 930/931/932) with LOTS of shimmer and sparkle with two metallic ribbon threads, plus lots of silver and blue beads. Here's a close-up of the middle section; the blue arrow is pointing to the sky blue metallic ribbon, the purple arrow is pointing out the snowflake (there are three of them on the panel) made with really cool twisted bugle beads, and the pink arrow is pointing to the ice blue metallic ribbon:

 When I was designing this piece, I was thinking about the colors and shapes of SNOW: snow-covered mountain peaks (see the jagged mountain peaks that divide the sections?) .... different composite stitch patterns that suggest snowflakes or falling snow..... and of course blues and teals and silvers.... all built around  variegated Watercolours 157, "Polar Ice".  I stitched this 4.5" by 16" design on the pale "french blue" mono canvas, but it could also be done on pewter.... or hey, how about the white with silver metallic canvas?!?  Veeeeerrry Wintery.  Brrrrrrr.....

And ahem... I even received a surprise Christmas gift from a friend that matched this project PERFECTLY!

Talk about a beautiful, blingy blue scissor fob!! Whew, this one takes the prize, and I loved using it as I stitched this icy blue piece.  (Thanks, Laurel... how did you know I needed a blue one, huh??)

So if you're in the mood to work another long panel with a decidedly wintery palette, please visit my website ( and get the rest of the information.
Happy Friday Stitching!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mini Mystery Monday, January, pt. 2

I hope you have your foundation work done for this cute ornament, because now we're going to fill in those empty diamond shapes with some fun starry/snowflake elements.  AND, you'll have some creative decisions to make over what type of snowflake/stars you want on your ornament.

Here's the next graph for you to work from:

I've chosen some simple Rhodes Stars for my starry snowflake elements, to give you some idea of how the alternating colors will look.

A second option is to make Eyelet Stars, where each arm/stitch goes DOWN into the center hole, thereby creating a hole that is an excellent place to add a bead later.

The third option is to make a complete Rhodes Star, where each hole is filled, and thereby creates a really fat/full diamond shape.

Here's a detail graph of the three different kinds of snowflake/star elements you can use:

Option A is the Eyelet Star, with a center hole  that can be left empty or filled with a big bead.
Option B is a "light" version of a Rhodes Star, which creates an airy feel to the space.
Option C is the "full" version of a Rhodes Star, where every hole is filled and creates a nice plump star.  When worked with the flat metallic ribbon, the finished raised shape adds great texture, and a whole row of these beauties is very eye-catching.

All three versions cover an 8 x 8 thread diamond shape.  And of course, you can alternate the different types of snowflake stars if you want, and also alternate the colors and thread types as well.... so go ahead and mix & match to your creative heart's delight!

Next Monday we'll finish up with the final filler element, and guess what?... you'll have some more creative choices to make then, too!    See ya then, Mystery Stitchers.