Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Second Stitching Whimsey

Today I have another guest visit from one of the Stitching Whimsies. This time Gini is here to treat you with loads of eye candy and great ideas from her version of Melissa Shirley's Stitching Club canvas. You'll remember that the Stitching Whimsies meet weekly at Queen Anne Stitches in Santa Clarita, California, to stitch on the same design. They each interpret their own canvas in their own way and have a blast doing this. The Whimsies are going to visit Blog about every other week to show off their particular take on Stitching Club, which is by Melissa Shirley (as I just said). The canvas is 18 count and about 8 inches tall by 15 inches wide. By the way, the link below has the plain canvas of the Stitching Club at the top of the page and also shows other variations on this charming design.

Now, here is Gini to tell you about her Stitching Club ladies who you see in the full photo above.


"My Stitching Whimsies isn't quite finished, but I'm close enough to share.
All the decisions have been made, but there are a few details that haven't
passed from idea to reality yet. First, a huge and very public thank you to
Chilly Hollow Jane. I'd been stitching for more years than I want to count
when I confessed that I was terrified of painted canvases. She 'virtually'
took my hand and walked me through the thought process -- the resulting
'Overcoming Painted Canvas Phobia' is posted on the ANG website FAQs. I
told her she had unleashed a monster, but she just smiled and welcomed me to
her world. This has been a delightful piece to stitch, proof positive that
there are as many ways to stitch a canvas as there are stitchers. It's also
one I never would have chosen on my own. So it has opened my eyes to the
possibilities of designs that are more simply drawn and painted. I did some
painting years and years ago, and I'm drawn to the more artistically painted
canvases. But this was much more simply painted. Oh dear, more horizons
opened.... sigh.

As our Thursday group planned our Whimsies, we discussed the background. We
all knew we wanted it to stay, well, in the background. That meant using a
light weight thread and a stitch that didn't call a lot of attention to
itself. We also decided that it would probably be best if we stitched the
background before stitching the ladies, particularly if we wanted to depict
some of their canvases as works in progress. Doing the background first
would allow us to count the pattern more easily and to avoid carrying
threads behind the stitchers' canvases should we decide to leave those
backgrounds open.

One day, Sharon Quickstitcher called me to say she'd found the perfect
thread to match the paint. Well, I pulled some from my stash and I didn't
agree. Now, Sharon prefers clear, cool colors, while I lean towards warmer
and more muted ones. Sure enough her choice for the background was a cooler
blue while I preferred a warmer aqua. Both of our backgrounds use the
pavilion diamond stitch, and I like its simplicity and non-directional
nature. I used a single strand of Splendor. The background paint would
support either choice, but as we chose other colors, we found that we
continued with our preference for warm v. cool colors. Interestingly, most
of us chose different backgrounds -- either different threads, different
stitches or both.

While the red border is painted on the canvas, I've discovered that I like
doing a solid border around many of my pieces. It seems to ground the whole
design and also eliminates the need for an extra mat when framing. I trame
pad with pearl cotton, then satin stitch around the border using Very Velvet
or Petit Very Velvet.

Now to the stitchers themselves. The lady on the left is very sparkly. Her
blouse is Neon Rays Plus in alternating rows of tent over 1 and tent over 2
creating diagonal stripes that accentuate her small waist. Her blouse is
trimmed in Neon Rays. Her slacks are a tweed Burmilana, in long vertical
stitches couched with #4 Kreinik braid in a diagonal pattern. The vertical
stitches allow the paint to shadow through, making it unnecessary to stitch
the shading. Her belt is Petit Very Velvet in a dark purple, the same
thread as the center lady's stitching bag. Her liquid silver necklace
finishes off her ensemble. Her hair is stitched with Alpaca, in loose
'slidey bullions' made by holding one ply of the thread and sliding the
other two down so they bunch together, then manipulated so the gathered
plies lie fairly evenly along the single ply core. The curl is finished by
plunging the threads through the canvas and tacking them down, repeating the
process for each curl. Her bag is stitched in floss, Vineyard Silk Classic
and Neon Rays with a large rosebud bead in the lower panel. The threads
spilling from the top are Neon Rays (the same one used for the trim on the
green jacket) and an overdyed Rainbow Gallery silk ribbon. The chick on her
canvas is Fuzzy stuff and the frame is a JL Walsh silk and wool from my
stash, as are the frames on all the stitchers' canvases.

I chose to use the same threads for all the skin, eyes, and mouths so as to
emphasize the women's hair, clothing, projects and bags.

The second lady sports an unconstructed boucle jacket. When I first saw the
canvas, I just knew that was what she was wearing. So, naturally, I used
boucle thread. Finding a stitch was tricky because I wanted the thread
choice to dominate the stitch. I finally decided on a wavy stitch made of
alternating oblique gobelins. It's also one that could be stitched to
indicate a change in direction at the elbow. Her jacket is trimmed with
Neon Rays, and the button on her jacket will be a Chinese frog in a dark
purple metallic. Unfortunately, I don't have the right weight thread in my
stash, so that will have to wait, unless I decide to use Grandeur. Her hair
is two shades of Burmilana, with her curls a combination of French and
colonial knots. I also built up the long stitches so it looks like her hair
is pulled back somewhat loosely. Felt padding would have worked to do that,
but I just overstitched until I had the desired effect. Her skirt is Petit
Very Velvet in encroaching gobelin, and I will add a row of fringe in floss
to match the skirt and jacket once I've taken the canvas off the bars. The
canvas at her feet is a large copper pot, done in beads. The flowers seem
almost an afterthought since they are in such a different scale to that of
the pot, and I'm wishing I had realized that earlier. I must admit that
beading the pot accentuated it far more than it was originally. Lesson
learned. Because they will always bother me, I'm going to paint out the
flowers and leave just the beaded pot. Of course, that will mean taking
those flowers out and redoing the couched background, as well as being VERY
VERY careful with the white paint! The canvas she's working on has several
flowers in a metal bowl. The bowl is cross stitches, which makes the edges
both even and vertical. The rose is bullions, using Silk 'n Colors, the
yellow flower is the same overdyed silk ribbon as the threads in the first
bag, in lazy daisy stitches with a bead for the center, and the purple one
is Grandeur in a Rhodes stitch. Her bag is basket weave, using the same
threads I did for the middle lady, with beads for the checks. The handle is
a piece of Petit Very Velvet, couched down with gold beads sitting donut

Sharon's and my color preferences came through again with the middle lady.
While Sharon used a more raspberry pink, mine is a warmer strawberry pink.
Both are done using Belle Soie. Since the stitch covers the canvas
intersections, I chose a slightly darker color to use for the shading. The
dots on her dress are a scotch stitch in a cotton candy pink Kreinik braid.
Sharon chose white and a heavier weight thread so her dots are more obvious
than mine. This lady's hair is long stitches using Wildflowers in a black
and brown blend. I followed the direction that hair grows to add to the
realistic look. Her glasses have gold frames and Water 'N Ice for the
lenses. Her current project is a plant in a wire basket. I still need to
add beads for the flowers or berries. She has another project, along with
various supplies in her bag. There is a piece of canvas rolled up, along
with a measuring tape that I got from a miniature shop. Her stitching bag
is really eye-catching, but it's the result of several false starts.
Initially, I used a brick stitch in purple pearl cotton, but it just seemed
blah. I had some dark purple Petit Very Velvet in my stash, and a bit of
purple and green Watercolors left over from a previous project. The purple
in the Watercolors blended beautifully with the Very Velvet, and the green
added a wonderful contrast. It seemed like some of those gorgeous tapestry
bags to me. I used a byzantine stitch, outlined in tent, and the reverse
side of the strap shows the lining fabric. I love the effect. That bag
became the focal point of the canvas -- the spot your eye returns to in its
travels over the entire piece.

The orange lady's bottom half unfortunately shows the effect of too much
sitting and stitching... Her pants were another challenge for me. In this
case, I wanted to accentuate their voluminous nature. The stitch and thread
choice took several tries. Initially I tried Grandeur, but it was heavier
than the soft, billowy look I wanted, and it didn't come in the darker color
for the shading. So I decided on Splendor and balloon stitch, with a darker
shade for the waist band, the dots on her top, and the shading; needle
blending smoothed out the center demarcation. Her hair is stitched with
Medici. Her curls are bullions, and her scrunchi is Splendor. The dots on
her top are smyrnas while the background is basketweave. It must be a really
hot day, because the shading under her arms really shows a lot. LOL

The purple lady on the right is a bit of a rebel. There's definitely a part
of my inner self in her. She's not as dressed up as the others, choosing
instead a corduroy jumper and a tee shirt for the occasion. And then there's
her hair. Rather than curly, it seemed spiky to me. So I did turkey work,
cut the loops, and left it rough, using a combination of two strands of
Crescent Colours floss and one strand of Burmilana. I considered trying to
work diluted glue into it like hair gel but decided to leave well enough
alone. This would have been the time to have traced the shape of her hair
onto another canvas and practiced, but by the time I realized that, I'd
already stitched it. I don't want to trim the turkey work because that will
spoil the texture. I did remember to make a photo copy of her bag. I'm
going to try something on it that I've never tried before. I hope it works!
I'm going to trace the pattern onto Congress cloth, basketweave it, turning
the upper edge under. Then I'll cut it out leaving at least a 1" margin on
the remaining three sides, fringe that back to the stitched area, and attach
it by plunging the fringe to the back and securing it. I'll make the top
edge a few stitches wider than the original to allow it to project from the
canvas. I've already done a few rows of basketweave where the inside might
show. My fall-back plan is simply to basketweave the bag... Keep your
fingers crossed. And I plan to bead just the top portion of the heart on her
project -- a work in progress. Then, there are a few bag handles, earrings,
adding the miniature scissors, and perhaps more necklaces before my
Stitching Whimsies will be fully completed.

I find that once I get to this point in a canvas, I'm ready to move on. Our
Funky Forest canvases have arrived, and while it's calling my name, I'm
determined to get this one finished first. In truth, I'd also like to
finish two other canvases that are at about the same "almost done" point.
So, I'll try to limit myself to making a photocopy, pulling the beads I
still want to use on it, and planning stitches and threads... Will I be
able to resist? We'll see."


Thanks, Gini! This is so much fun. Now I can't wait to hear from the next Whimsey. Is it two weeks from now yet?

Jane, writing from Chilly Hollow
with mirror blog at

Main blog at

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your great detailed description! You are all having so much fun!