Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stars: Clark Gable Underway

I've started the second quilt block on my Stars for the New Millennium piece.  This is called Clark Gable and it is made up of six general steps.  In the photo above, the first three stitches are done and I've completed one of four sides using the fourth stitch.  I'm working this piece upside down or on the side so I can reach everything easily.  My colors are A-violet, B-black, C-terracotta and D-copper.

The first area worked is the center starburst, which is done in C1, which is a lovely Alyce Schroth silk perle in Lt. Rose 241.  I used a different C1 thread this time, thinking that the silk would make a nice central area.  It is surrounded by four plies of my D1 thread, Lume H13, although you don't add the outlines until the second and third areas are finished.

The second areas are all the "kite-shaped" areas in black that surround the central starburst.  These are done in a bargello pattern of upright stitches, mostly over four threads.  The top of the pattern is B3 (Burmilana 3641), the next row is B4 (Gumnuts' Tulips 999), the third is B5 (Felicity's Garden #12), and the tip of the pattern which touches the outside borders is B6 (Tweedie 18 in T491).  I used three strands of Burmilana, two strands of Tulips, but only one of the Felicity's Garden and Tweedie as they are much heavier threads.  The shades of black move from charcoal to deep black from the center out to the tip and the different thread textures come into play in person. This is a subtle and masculine square block in many ways.

Once the black "kites" are in, you fill in the triangular shaped area with A4 (Impressions 6043).  All this went pretty fast but the fourth step, which is patterned couching, took almost as much time as the first three steps combined.  The thread that is being couched is violet A5 (Rainbow Linen R453).  It is held down with one ply each of the black B1 (Soie Crystale 0020) or C2 (DMC 758) worked in a pattern.  There are 15 rows if I remember correctly, and it is a pain to keep checking to see if I'm working the right row as the couching pattern on each row is different.  Still, hopefully I will get the other three sides of pattern couching finished tonight so I can move on to the last two steps which are going to be pretty involved.

In other Stars news:

Donna has stitched her border five times now.  But you are going to be happy with the final version!  Sometimes all that pain is worth it in the end.

Sara Leigh has redone her corner design and it looks great to me.

The biggest Stars news comes from someone who isn't stitching Stars at all.  Glenis just noticed that my photo of Stars in the left column of blog was upside down!  I looked at my copy of the book and the photo there is also upside down.  I wonder how many of the books were assembled this way?  It might have been deliberate, to showcase the design.  When Stars is finished, it won't matter whether the row we stitched first is on top or bottom.  Or it might have been a mistake in assembling the booklet.  I don't know.  It'll be fun to look at all the photos of the book cover we see online and find out if they all have Stars upside down from the way it is worked in the instructions.

Thanks, Glenis.  I've turned my photo upright.  I think you might be Tony's favorite pupil today with your careful observation.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Future Fun

I took last night off from needling.  Instead I read through my Stars for the New Millennium book, looking at the directions for the next quilt block, which is in the top row to the right of Marilyn Monroe.  This block is called Clark Gable.  The star pattern for Gable is make up of six sections, most of them repeated four times.  A lot of color B is used in this design which will be a challenge for me as my color B is black.  I expect some fancy footwork to make black-on-black patterns show up.  We'll see how it goes. I'll start this tonight.  I hope to get most of it finished by the time I leave for Easter vacation on Friday.  Blog probably won't be updated on the weekend as I won't have easy computer access and probably won't get any stitching done while I'm away.

The Tardis is going with me as it is a birthday present for my niece.    I'll let you know how she likes it.

I went to the Woodlawn Plantation exhibit yesterday.  I met friends for lunch and a browse among the stitching, then I left them to make a slightly meandering way home via three shops.  I didn't buy a lot, just a blue star-shaped bead at In Stitches, two skeins of red Trio that were on sale to try, my favorite color of Kreinik (4002, a milk chocolate/silver mix), a red Hologram Kreinik to try, a skein of royal blue Vineyards Silks, and a card of red Splendor at Needlewoman East, and a packet of Piecemakers needles,  a skein of navy overdyed Gloriana Lorikeet wool, and a pair of stretcher bars in the size I need for the next project at Waste Knot.  I will update my stash credit number by removing 7 from the total shortly.

The blue star bead is for the Tardis.  Last night I glued a straight pin into the bead hole and today I stuck the decorated pin through the Tardis' door to hold it closed while it is wrapped.  The inner core of the ornament is finishing foam, so the pin will stick there safely and keep the door closed.  I included a photo above.

I also put my next painted canvas on stretcher bars.  But that is a tale for another day.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Tardis is Finished

The back side is a thin black velvet that resembles light weight Ultrasuede.  I am quite happy with it although I could have done a better job on the roof.  Stitching it to resemble the photos wasn't as successful as I'd hoped.  Somehow the angle made the stitches look odd.  I would have done better to have ignored the photos and do stitches to fill a triangular space instead of doing stepped satin stitches.  But that only matters to me and it is a lesson I'll remember the next time I stitch a building.

Hope you like it!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Throwing Rocks, Making Ripples

I am sure you have heard the debate about patronizing local needlework shops versus spending money online or in the big box craft stores to buy supplies we need for our stitching at a better price.   You have never heard it described this way, though.  Before you head off to read the article in the link below, the Thistle Threads blog is written by Tricia Wilson Nguyen and all the other folks deeply involved in recreating a17th Century embroidered jacket they have named Faith.  Recently Tricia has been talking about the costs of mounting a museum exhibit, how publishing a book about needlework is done,  and other topics about the business of needlework and museums.  It's a fascinating discussion.  If you want to start reading other articles about this topic, click on the header title to go to Home, then look for the March 18, 19 and then 23rd blog articles.

Every time I mention a new tool, book or thread, talk about some of the lovely designs I've seen here and there, every time I add to my Master Enabler points,  I am sending ripples out into the stitching world, ripples you see and react to as we all bob on the ocean called the Internet.  Hopefully the shops, tool and thread manufacturers, teachers, designers and writers feel the ripples I have made and benefit from them.

Now go make some ripples of your own....

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tardis Door Attached

The Tardis' right door is attached!  I poked the four beading wires that were stitched to the hinge side of the door through the main canvas' holes, then twisted the two wires from the top half of the door together on the back side.  After twisting the two bottom wires together, I stitched each pair to the rear of the main canvas.

You may remember I'd planned to use magnets to make the door stay closed but the advertising magnets that are easy to cut aren't strong enough.  I decided I would have to use a pair of my rare earth magnets.  While I looked for them in my stitching tool box, I left the ornament sitting on the table and noticed that the door when it is partly open, looks quite inviting.  So I decided I would let the door be partly open rather than sacrificing magnets to let it open and close. I'm a bit worried that the door handle beads won't stay attached if they are tugged on constantly to open the door. So my Tardis ornament doesn't have a locked door.

Last night I turned under the raw edges of the main ornament and tacked the corners in place.  The untacked edges are sticking out some because I pushed down on the ornament on the scanner bed.  I will spend the rest of the weekend hand sewing the backing on the ornament.  I need to add a loop of #8 perle cotton to hang the ornament with but that'll wait for a while. I plan to start stitching the backing on at the base of the Tardis so I will wait to add the loop so that it is not in my way while I do some of the hand stitching.  I have black velvet for the backing and will use black thread to attach it.  Hopefully the edge will look clean enough I don't need to put trim around it.

Wish me luck.  Finishing is not my favorite part of the process.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Tardis Door UPDATED

Hurrah!  The Tardis ornament stitching is finished!  Now all that remains is the finishing.  I hope to be able to upload an image of the finished design shortly.  UPDATE:  Blogger allowed me to upload images normally after I posted this blog entry without photos and went back to edit.  If you are having trouble with photos today, try doing your blog entry first, then edit it to add photos.

Yesterday I trimmed the canvas around both pieces, leaving a margin of bare canvas to turn under on the Tardis itself but trimming right up to the stitching on the right hand door.  I had to be careful not to cut the door attachment wires as I worked but otherwise this is easy to do, even with my regular (not my stitching) scissors.

Using my paper pattern, I cut a piece of finishing foam slightly smaller than the main canvas.  I used the self stitch finishing foam so I could put the sticky side down onto a piece of gold lame, then cut it out to the right size.  I will put the finishing foam in the middle between the large Tardis and the velvet backing, with the gold lame facing out.  This way when the door to the Tardis is opened, the unstitched black canvas will be even more sparkly than it already is.  This is why I choose black canvas with green and gold metallic specks woven into it.  I was already planning to have a black and sparkling emptiness inside the Tardis when the door was opened.  I didn't want to stitch the interior or the Doctor as what I think of when I remember the interior and my favorite Doctor actor isn't what my niece remembers as she's only seen the current programs with the 10th Doctor.

However, using the finishing foam covered with gold lame is today's chore as I assemble the ornament.  Before doing that, I had to finish the door.

I'd forgotten that I needed to add the door handle and brass lock before I cut out the little door piece but not to worry--all I did was stitch a crystal round sequin held in place by a tiny gold bead in the right area for the lock.  The faceted glass sequin is diamond-like but having the gold bead on top makes it reflect gold so it does look like a brass lock if you aren't looking too closely.  Above the lock I used three beads (a yellowish-brown regular size 11 bead, a gold faceted dimensional bead from Mill Hill's findings, and then a second yellowish-brown bead) to indicate the handle.  These are all stitched on as well as I can, using a doubled and waxed ply of my yellow Finca cotton floss that I ran through the beads multiple times.

My next step was to print out a message to the recipient of this gift that was smaller than the right hand door.  This was going to go under a piece of pale blue chiffon so that the door's back side was lined.  The chiffon is see-through, although it does have specks of silver dotted on it.

The photo on the right shows the back side of the door with the message and chiffon.  I hand sewed the chiffon to the door with whip stitches and more of my DMC cotton floss.  The chiffon's raw edges were turned under, I stitched one long side down, inserted the message, turned under the other edges and pinned them in place, then stitched all around the other three sides.  It's not hard, just time-consuming to do this.

By the way, the saying in the message is one I saw on a Dr. Who t-shirt once.  Let me see if it's still for sale....

Yes, here it is.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Beads, Glue and Wire

I've been pretty busy with little things on the Tardis ornament.  I've beaded the light on the top (size 15 yellow hex beads that a friend sent me), added a bit to the roof line on the left above the side wall, added tent stitches at the top and bottom of the ornament to make finishing easier, and carefully stitched letters on the sign above the doors.  I used the same thread (Finca's Prescencia overdyed cotton floss in shades of yellow #9025) for the lettering and to attach the beads except I doubled my single ply for the beading but used just one single ply to stitch the letters.  I used the same sharp beading needle for both tasks.  A sharp needle makes free hand lettering like this easier as you can put the needle through a NP canvas thread if necessary. You aren't limited to just using the holes.

I've also done some things you can't see.  I put glue (Aileen's Tacky Glue) around the back side of the right door along the edge.  It'll have dried well by the time I cut out this piece to attach it.  I added another piece of wire to the door's hinge edge as well so there are four attachment places instead of just two.  It seemed more secure that way.

I've taken an old advertising magnet down from the refrigerator (one with a 2009 calendar on it) and cut two strips of magnet from it.  I'll use those to make the door stay closed.  And I went fabric shopping.  I picked up a bit of pale blue chiffon with silver dabs of paint on it to back the right door's underside so it doesn't show off the back side when open.

I just need to do a bit more on this piece before I can trim the canvases for finishing.  I am finishing up the area just below the roof line with a couched line of #8 perle held down by long and narrow cross stitches.  After that I need to add a few more tent stitches above the roof, but I think the stitching will be done by then.

This is on track to be finished this weekend.  HURRAH!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Woodlawn 2010 People's Choice Award?

I got an email last night from Amanda who was told at the Woodlawn exhibit that Catherine Jordan's little tree set has won the People's Choice Award.  I am not sure the docent who told Amanda this is right--surely the People's Choice voting has not closed so soon?--but I am sure Catherine Jordan's work is fabulous!  Here is the set in question.  There are more photos of these pieces from other angles in the photo set.

Here is Catherine's website.  Many of the designs shown there have won at Woodlawn in the past.

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The Roof Is On

The Tardis has a roof now, plus a place for its light.  I used tent stitches in my perle cotton to sketch out the light and long vertical satin stitches for the stepped roof line.

See the new line of the roof started on the left?  I'm going to pull that out as I think I need to do a horizontal stitch there.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two Door Tardis

Even though I've been posting here about other things, I have been stitching my Tardis ornament each night and have the tent stitched walls finished.  I also replaced the mutins (just long stitches in perle cotton couched with a ply of DMC floss where the horizontal and vertical stitches cross) in the windows.  You'll remember I had to rip out the windows and door panels to get them all sized and positioned correctly.

I started working long stitches over the front left corner but stopped when I ran out of time last night.  I will count (shudder) the threads the free standing right door covers and then count (shudder) the same amount of threads over from the center where the two doors meet and then add horizontal satin stitch on the right side corner today.

After that I will need to work on the roof.  Once I know exactly where and what the roof stitches are, I can continue working horizontal satin stitches up the front corners toward the roof line.

The end is in sight!

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Kimono Cyberclass Updated Again

Remember that I mentioned the three mini cyberclasses that Janet Perry is offering?  I have an update for you--a photo of the first class's finished kimono.   The painted canvas is from Patt and Lee Designs.  Janet has chosen the stitches.  The first class starts April 1 so if you want to learn a bit more about fancying up your needlepoint, or if you know a beginner who'd enjoy this class, head over to Janet's blog to sign up.

UPDATE #2 - Here is the stitched second kimono for class #2 which is going to be about shading.

Update #3:  Below is the third kimono finished.

More details can be found on Janet Perry's blog.

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Melita's Woodlawn Report

Another kind person has posted a report about their trip to see the Woodlawn Plantation exhibit on their blog.  This time the visitor is Melita.  You can read all about it here.

She's provided a link to the photo album of the ribbon winners. If you want to look up the items that won awards she mentions, enter the IMG number in the search box. BEFORE you push Enter, use the Search pull down menu to choose Preservation Nation's albums so that you don't get results from all over Flicker.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Tools for Ripping Out UPDATED

I'm working away on the Tardis ornament.  To date I have tent stitched the entire left side plus the left door, and have ripped out the interlocking Goblein I first thought would work on the right door so I could start tent stitching it.  This is time-consuming, but perfect stitching for a weekend spent mostly in yard work.  I was too pooped at night to do anything more complex than basketweave anyway.

I've done quite a bit of ripping out in my last couple of pieces and it dawned on me perhaps you might be interested in the three items I use for this from my needlework toolbox.

When it comes to cutting threads, if I have more than just one or two to remove, I usually turn to my sharp little Thread Snips.  Mine are Japanese and they look like the ones here except mine have colorful foam covers on the handles so that squeezing them to cut is easy.  I bought mine at Needlewoman East but Liz didn't know who distributed them and there is no manufacturer's name on the package or the snips themselves.  They are quite sharp so there is a plastic point protector on their tip.  I like them because they are small and slip under the threads I want to cut easily, making it less likely that I will cut anything I didn't mean to.

Once I have the threads cut and removed, I pull out my Boo Boo Stick to carefully brush the surface of my bare NP canvas where the threads were to pick up any leftover fuzz.  The wider end of the Boo Boo Stick is soft and the smaller end is hard bristles, so you can scrub or just softly wipe the canvas, depending on your need.  I've had my Boo Boo Stick for at least ten years and use it often but it looks brand new.  Of course I keep it in the plastic envelope it came in to keep the bristle ends clean.

My final tool is one we all have--a 2-3 inch length of leftover metallic thread.  When I finish a length of metallic thread, and cut off the short end that is not long enough to use elsewhere, I check to see if there is a similar piece already laying with my pile of current threads.  If not, I keep it, particularly if it is something medium sized like a #4 or #8 Kreinik braid.

Often I find when I rip out threads I accidentally disturb threads next door. Sometimes these threads will start to poke their end through my stitching to the front.  When that happens, I thread up my needle with my leftover metallic (no knot on the end--that's important) and put the needle in the hole with the loose end from the front.  Pull the metallic thread to the back and it will drag the loose thread with it.  Then you can decide whether to snip it close to the back or re-secure it.

My friend Mimi told me about this trick which she picked up from the ANG email list years ago and it has proved very useful.  So keep a little tail end of metallic thread around.  It is a useful tool when you find yourself ripping out something that needs replacing.

Hopefully tonight I'll finish the tent stitching on the Tardis and can start stitching the roof line.

UPDATE:  My spies say the little thread snips are distributed by Dovo, who also distribute the grasshopper scissors.  I still can't find a photo of a set exactly like mine but these are close.

Here are the "grasshopper" scissors. I don't own these but I find them intriguing.  They also allow for precise fine cuts and are operated by squeezing.

If you need scissors to meet a special need, while searching for the above I found Nordic Needle's newsletter that talks about the scissors they carry and recommends various types for various chores, for lefties, etc.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Canvas of the Month - Bonnie's Buddha Cat

This month's canvas of the month is a Brenda Stofft design called Buddha Cat. This is a 6x10 inch design on 18 count canvas.

Bonnie's Buddha Cat Ideas:

This month with the cat canvas, I would start with the cat. I think its time to so some turkey tufting with a strandable wool/wool blend fiber following the shading on the canvas. The center of the ears would be a tent stitch in a cotton floss to make it distinct from the fur. The paw pads would be a padded satin stitch in floss to raise them up a bit to match the fur. The eyes would be silk, done in tent stitches and with a stem stitch outline – maybe add a little metallic for the sparkle in the middle of the eye. The nose is a padded satin in silk and the mouth a stem stitch in the floss.
Next I would move to the robe. All of the shaded folds make it tough to come up with a stitch that would work. Ideally a stitch that would make a wave pattern would be perfect, but it is such small areas. I started thinking maybe just lay horizontal satin stitches in a strandable silk breaking the stitches at the dark lines and the breaks would create the folds, but the idea of a horizontal stitch on a robe that lays vertically seems off to me. So I would maybe try some vertical satin stitches over three or so instead, maybe in groups of two staggered so that you end up with a diagonal feel, but not too strong of one. So I would do two over 3 vertical satin stitches, then drop down one hole and do another pair and then drop down one hole, and so on. I would make sure I compensate at the dark lines so the idea of a fold stays. Each side would form a diagonal down towards the center so would mirror each other. The middle which isn't angled could just be down in staggered pairs of just a row of satin stitches depending on how tall it really is. After the robe is all stitched, if the folds aren't prominent enough, I would go back in and stem stitch them in a slightly darker color or maybe even the same color with maybe just one strand so there, but not bold. There are a couple of dark areas that appear to be the lining of the robe. Those I would simply tent stitch in silk. That leaves just the bracelets and the belt buckle on the cat which I would simply bead.

The pillow is next. I envision the part the cat is sitting on in a rich velvet, so I would do satin stitches in very velvet making sure it lays smoothly. Then I would take silk and lay it in long straight stitches toward the middle of each petal for the pale green parts – this would mean changing the direction of the stitches as you go to match the direction of the petals. So it would be vertical at the top and bottom, horizontal on the sides and angled to fill the spaces in the middle. I might even pad under the stitches to give the petals a more raised look on the edges. The middle of the top petals would be a version of the sheltered diamonds pattern from Brenda Hart’s Favorite Stitches 2 – you'd have to compensate to make it fit, but the middle would be a metallic and the edges a silk. The smaller leaves at the bottom would just be the silk part of the stitch without the middles. Lastly I would take a metallic braid or cord and couch it all around the petals and leaves to get that nice smooth rounded look.
Now what is that behind the cat? A sun or what? For lack of a better guess on my part, I am going to go with the sun. So I would find a nice fiber with some shine – maybe a metallic, or maybe something like Flair which would just catch the light or maybe something like Neon Rays since it has a nice sheen to it. I think to get more of the light play, I would go with something like vertical and horizontal pavilions which is essentially one row of vertical diamond patterns followed by one row of horizontal diamonds. Now if you tell me that is something else, I may change my mind entirely!
The letter to the right I would tent stitch in silk or they might be fun to couch some really thick metallic for them depending on their actual size. And that leaves the background. Since it is black and stitching on black is tough, I may be just tempted to leave it unstitched. If I was going to stitch it, I would pick a #12 perle cotton for some texture, but no shine. Something like the crazy rain stitch or even the gobelin wave II stitch from Brenda Hart’s Favorite Stitches 2 book would be fun. Neither fills up all of the canvas holes but with the perle cotton would provide some texture to the background.

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Canvas of the Month - Jane's Buddha Cat

This month's canvas of the month is a Brenda Stofft design called Buddha Cat. This is a 6x10 inch design on 18 count canvas.

Jane's Buddha Cat Ideas:

Canvases with large areas of black are always tricky for me.  Not only it is hard to see black threads on black canvases, any fancy stitch you do will often not show up very well so all that work is wasted.  It is tempting to just tent stitch the black background behind the Buddha but I'm going another route--I'm going to recommend working a gold border in satin stitches over padding around the outside edge of the design, then work a light coverage stitch using a thinner gold thread right on top of the black.  After all, there is no rule saying you have to use the same color on top of a painted area of canvas!  I would use something along the line of Brenda Hart's Blackwork Vertical Hexagons (without the central motifs) from p. 87 of her Favorite Stitches Two.  Stitch it all over the black area including the gold Chinese characters, then go back with more of your gold threads and using packed stem stitch, cover the Chinese characters right over the background blackwork stitch.

The final background area that will use gold threads is the golden halo around the Cat Buddha's head.  I think I would couch this in concentric circles, using a brighter gold than the gold in the Chinese characters, the blackwork background or the border.  Obviously you will need a variety of sizes of gold threads for these areas, working from a heavier cord like Kreinik's #16 or #32 braid for the border that is covered with something like Treasure Braid ribbon, to a thin metallic like Accentuate or blending filament or even Petite Treasure Braid for the blackwork pattern over the black area to a more substantial #4 or #8 braid for the Chinese characters.  You can couch the padding heavier braid with the very thin blackwork thread on the halo or you can go so far as to totally bead the halo.  I think I would use a shinier gold like Coronet Braid for the halo and couch it myself.  

Once the gold areas of the background and border are stitched, I would work on the stylized lotus petal cushion the Buddha meditates on.  For the blue centers of the lotus petals, use Beetle Stitch (page 18 of Brenda Hart's Favorite Stitches One).  You'll have to compensate for the end petals.  Tent stitch the green shading below the blue petals, then use long slanting and upright stitches for the petal outlines.  Top off that stitching with couched gold outlines.  The blue cushion itself that you can barely see should be tent stitched in a thread that is soft and not shiny (Petite Very Velvet?  A wool-silk blend like Impressions?), but I'd do the petals themselves in a shiny thread.  

Ignore the gold bracelets on the cat's feet and the gold belt buckle until the end.  I'd cover those areas with tiny (size 14) gold beads but that needs to wait until the cat and the pink sari are stitched.

For the cat's paws and chest and face, use a soft wooly thread and use a combination of tent and brick stitches.  The tent is for tiny areas like the inner ears, the nose and mouth lines, while the brick stitch (over two threads) is for the rest.  The eyes should be done in silks and tent stitched, with either a clear or white bead attached as the pupil highlight.  If you think a bead too prominent, use a white or silver metallic and do a cross stitch for the highlight in both eyes.

The pink robe should be stitched all in tent with something like Vineyard Silk or Planet Earth's silk strand thread except for the sleeve and lapels which can be done in long packed stem stitches.  Layer more packed stem stitch on top to raise this area slightly. 

Once you finish the stitching, attach the beads for the belt buckle and bracelets, then scatter a few sparkling hex gold beads around the canvas at random, on top of the design.  (If you beaded the halo, you might want to omit this step.)  Frame or make into a flat finish stand up as a meditation aid for a dear friend who does yogi or put this piece somewhere you see it each morning to remember to breath deeply and calmly in times of stress.

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More Needlepoint Resources

As I wrote my article yesterday on the weird and wonderful stitching things you can find on the Internet, I left out a lot of links that were more educational in nature.  I saved them for today's posting.  Want to talk a stroll down Memory Lane?  Then look at this site which quotes an article about Berlin woolwork straight from Beeton's Book of Needlework, published in 1870.  There are lots of illustrated stitches, too.

This online magazine is not really about needlepoint, but the stumpwork is spectacular and you may also enjoy turning the pages and seeing contemporary needle artists and their work.

Did you notice that the last issue of Needlepoint Now magazine referred to online videos that illustrate their articles?  Now if you don't learn how to do a stitch well from a diagram, you can see it being done on the Internet.

TNNA, the trade group that puts on the shows our shop owners go to, has started putting photos of new items on their website.  Here is the Needlepoint area, called World of Needlepoint.  You can see slide shows of the latest things arranged by date.  The current slide show is from January 2010 but earlier shows from 2009 have a link at the bottom of this page.

Finally, I have a new DVD from Claire Halden at Old World Designs titled "All About Hair, Beards & Fur."  Claire has already done a beginner's DVD and a stitch guide on DVD.  I haven't seen any of these, so I can't really review them but it's a new resource for stitchers who like stitching people and animals realistically.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

More Whining

Yesterday's blog posting about Donna's Woodlawn report is showing up as the latest blog entry and hiding today's posting about various Internet links.  That's my fault, I'm afraid.  Somehow the Woodlawn report published a day early but with a later date.  You may not understand this (I certainly don't!) but the bottom line is that there is a later posting just underneath the latest Woodlawn report.  Sorry!

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Another Woodlawn Report

After I begged shamelessly, Donna has posted a review of the Woodlawn Plantation exhibit on her blog.  She was a docent at the show and tells us a bit about how the show is laid out this year and remarks on her favorites.  It's a two part article and here are both links.  The photo above is the Jeff Kulick piece she voted for in the People's Choice award.  I shamelessly ripped it out of the Woodlawn photo album so you could see how wonderful it is.  This is almost certainly an original design.

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Weird and Wonderful Stitching

I've been collecting links for odd and wonderful things for a while now and thought you might enjoy browsing through them instead of looking at even more photos of my basketweave progress up the side of the Tardis.  So, without further adieu, here's the stitched Stylophone.  Note that the title says this is NP but it looks like a cross-stitched keyboard on aida cloth to me.  You might want to play the video to listen to the sound.  Whether it is NP or not, it does work.

I've had Mr. XStitch on my Google Reader for a while now.  This site features handwork of all types, half of which is NSFW (which means Not Safe For Work and seems to be replacing "X-rated" as a term among the 20-30 age group).  There are more stitchers than I ever imagined who like to stitch semi-pornographic scenes and Mr. XStitch showcases a lot of them. Or maybe I am just prudish?  Regardless, everyone will enjoy seeing the stitched line drawings on paper in this article which is totally safe for any setting.

The remaining links are of wonderful stitching.  The Needleartnut has her Boots Bailey purse flap back from the finishers.  Please join me in swooning over how it turned out!

Are you a fan of Noah's Ark pieces?  This little box is special.

Are you a Halloween fan instead?  Or have you always been curious about how Amy Bunger's mail order classes are done?  Then you'll want to keep an eye on the NP Study Hall and watch as folks from Amy's shop stitch their Kelly Clark Halloween House and the attendant monsters.  The latest lesson includes tips on stitching the witch's belt buckle, but Peggy has given tips on the witch's cloak, hat, dress and face in earlier postings.

Finally, DMC's blog talks about needlepoint briefly this week.  They do a lot of thread giveaways and some of their articles about DMC itself are terrific.  The blog doesn't say where the above photo came from but it is a really wonderful and simple thing to stitch in case you need a Keep Out sign on your stitching door.

Don't mess with Momma when she has sharp pointy things in her hands!  LOL

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Out Come the Slanting Lines

True to the stereotype of feminine behavior, I've changed my mind about using interlocking Goblein stitches for the Tardis walls.  If you look at the free standing right side door, you can see how after only three rows and no compensation, the stitch looks messy and bunched, not like the smooth Tardis walls in photos.  So I will rip this out tonight and replace it with tent stitches.

I've been busy stitching the side of the Tardis with another stitch.  See the difference in the effect?  The side wall is a lot smoother, the tent stitches (basketweave is a tent stitch, along with half cross and continental) sit next to the diagonal long stitches well, and I have to admit it was very relaxing to basketweave last night instead of fussing over getting the interlocking Goblein in the right holes on black canvas.  It looks like the side panels show up well against basketweave in the same blue, although I may backstitch around one end to have a shadow there.  Haven't decided that yet.

One step back, then two more forward.  When things don't work out, I just change direction.

And practice my swear words.  [LOL]

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Police Sign and Slanting Lines

I'm making good progress on the Tardis now.  Last night saw me outline the Police Box sign on the front top of the Tardis by stitching long stitches over my perle cotton with my floss.  Then I filled in the sign center with tent stitches using my perle cotton.  I will add the letters on top of this later.  I plan to alternate working out the roof of the Tardis with filling in the exterior walls.

After a lot of experimentation with various stitches that Tony Minieri recommended in his Needlepoint Now articles on stitching architectural elements, I decided that Interlocking Goblein (over three threads) works best to cover the black canvas and give me a smooth wall.  I have started this stitch on the right door piece and will work my way down the door while I figure out how to stitch the top of the Tardis.

I want to point out two areas of the Tardis that are problems because I choose to work a three-quarters turned view of it instead of just a straight on view.  See how the police sign on the front has drops to the top periodically?  I can't do a slanted sign (which the correct perspective requires) in the stitch I've chosen that is smooth.  I have to drop down a thread periodically.

The other problem area is the base of the Tardis.  Again, I can't do a slanted padded line well because of the stitch I've chosen.

I could have avoided this by choosing a head-on view.  If this sort of thing bothers you, don't stitch your buildings or architectural elements any way except straight on.  Or choose another stitch that does slants better.  But really, all I need to do is convey the idea of a Tardis.  It doesn't have to be perfect and I know better how to do the next building more realistically after stitching this.

No problem is just an error--it is an opportunity to learn.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More About Woodlawn 2010

Before you ask, no, I haven't had a chance to get to the Woodlawn Plantation needlework exhibit yet.  Now that the weather has cleared up, I hope to go this week or next, depending on all the appointments scheduled during this time that were postponed from February due to four feet of snow.  I am not sure I will write much about the show, however.  After all, we have a photo gallery to visit and some folks have blogged about it already.

Once again, here are all the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.*

The owner of The Point of It All, the best known needlepoint shop in Washington, D.C., writes about her visit here.

Susan visited Woodlawn yesterday.  Here's all about her trip with her friend Carolyn.

As Susan says, a separate photo album has been set up to showcase the Japanese Embroidery on display.  You can visit the pieces here.

Donna's been serving as a docent.  I hope once her stint is done she writes about the experience in detail and talks about the pieces she fell in love with and why.  My own limited docent experience tells me you really have time to study the pieces when you are a docent and learn more than a quick visit's study allows.

Claudia on the ANG email list wrote that this is the Best of Show winner.  *She mentioned that she thinks not all the award winners are in the ribbon photo album (the first link above).

I know they don't have the award for The Piece Jane Would Take Home If She Could listed.

You'll have to wait to hear about that.

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Back on Track

I've been busy with the windows and door panels on my Tardis ornament and I like how they look now that they are all even.  I also took out the left side window to make it lower than the right.  Pamela's right--it looks better this way.

The insides of the panels are tent stitches to get a smooth look, mostly done with my #8 perle cotton. The top door panel on the right and the top roof panel on the side have writing on them so I used Water N Ice (the clear WT1) to do tent stitches that I hope indicate writing.

I've played with the placement of the wall panels on the left side, trying to make them look ok at that angled perspective.  This is why it is easier to stitch buildings head on--if I had just done a front view Tardis I would have these issues.  But it makes for a nicer look in my opinion and a more interesting thing to stitch.  

I also buttonholed around the left front door to match the right detached door.  I use buttonhole stitch a lot for edging of things like glasses cases and have never had such a time making the stitches even but I normally use crewel wool, which is much more forgiving and stretchy than the #12 perle cotton I have used here.  Stitch and learn, right?  Next time I stitch a Tardis I'll use wool!

I stitched the area above the left side windows with wrapped backstitch but I think I am going to take that out.  It's the right stitch for here to indicate the lines between the windows and the sign on the side but I think it'll look better if I use perle cotton instead of cotton floss.

So out that will come to be restitched.  If I like it, I will probably use the same stitch on the roof line of the front.  

I have tested stitches for the walls of the Tardis and right now I like brick stitches over four threads, but we'll see.  I want to use the same stitch for all the wall areas, which means I want everything stitched except the walls before I settle on a stitch for the walls.  That way I can compare the stitch to all the other stitches to make sure they play nice together.

This is starting to come together and the weather is much improved.  Things are starting to look good in CH! 

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Still Grumpy

I'm still grumpy this morning.  Our road is closed to traffic but the river is receding and it should open soon.  The road across the river was under quite a bit of water and probably will have to be cleared of debris before it is passable.  See the moss-covered tree with the two parallel horizontal limbs?  The top limb shows about where the river bank is. You can clearly see how far inland the river is from the bank.  The photo doesn't show that the trees on the far bank are standing about 2 feet deep in water.  I took this photo yesterday after the river crested. The water level is dropping now.

I'm also grumpy about the Tardis door windows.  This is how they look today.  I like the spacing on the left door but I think everything is about 3-4 threads too high, so today I'll start at the bottom of the left door, rip out each panel and the window and restitch them lower down.  After I am sure of the placement then I will finish the right door.  Oh, well, since the road is closed I might as well get this right.  Right?


Everyone stay safe and dry on this dreary and wet Monday.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mismatched Windows

First of all, let me state firmly that I HATE THE TIME CHANGE.

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.

Secondly, my windows are mis-matched.  Sigh.

I don't know if you read the Comments yesterday or not, but Pamela pointed out in a comment yesterday that the side windows should not be level.  The tiny one on the left should be a thread or three lower than the one on the right for the perspective to be correct.  I agree with her but I'm not pulling it out and restitching correctly just yet.  Remember, I have to stitch the exterior wall around these tiny windows.  I don't know what stitch I will use yet but unless it is tent stitch, compensating around the tiny windows will probably draw attention to the fact that they are not identical and I don't want anyone looking at the side windows.  I want the front windows to stand out.  So I'm leaving things alone for now.  I may indeed pull out the left tiny window later on.  It all depends on what stitch I choose for the walls.

I do have to pull out the window on the left front door.  Can you tell it is larger than the window on the right door?  I didn't realize this until yesterday after I had chosen a stitch for the door panels below the windows, stitched two, then realized that the left one was larger than the right.  I will have to rip out the larger left window and door panel and restitch them to the correct size.  How I managed to count the windows over and over again and end up with two sizes is something only other dyslexics can understand.

But rip out I shall, probably later today.  Right now I'm going to pour more coffee and go stare at the Mindy trunk show (25% off and free shipping!) at the Nimble Needle.

Then I plan to look at the new congress cloth colors from Zweigart,

and stare at Pierrette's stumpwork goldfish and wonder if I'll ever be able to attach the Tardis door using stumpwork tehniques.

Jane, stomping off in the heavy rain for more coffee (sigh)

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Making It Up As We Go Along

I'd like to point out that I'm no expert in stitching time machines, painted canvases, charts, or anything else you might want to interpret in thread on NP canvas.

I make it up as I go along.  Who knows if I can make the Tardis door open or not?  I don't!

For me, the adventure of trying something, failing, trying something else, succeeding, keeping going until a piece is finished--that's the charm of needlework to me.  Of course we all stitch for various reasons at various times.

But me, I don't explore the Amazon, I don't walk on the moon, I don't do medical research....  I needlepoint.

I'm glad you find it as fascinating as I do.

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Consulting the Windows Expert

Yesterday was Window Day.  As you know, I like cheating consulting the wisdom of other stitchers, particularly the real experts among us.  So before I decided on how to stitch the lighted windows in the Tardis I pulled out my 2006 and 2007 copies of Needlepoint Now.

Starting in the March/April 2006 edition of Needlepoint Now, Tony Minieri wrote a series of short articles about stitches that work well in rendering architectural features in NP.  I have slowly read through all the 2006 issues through September/October 2006 which is when the series ends for that year.  (There are more articles on this topic in 2007 but I haven't gotten to them yet.)  As I read, I thought about how I wanted my Tardis windows to look.  I know they are divided in half with three small glass panes above and three more below the horizontal line in the middle.  The photos of the Tardis from publicity stills shows the windows in either white or yellow, so I choose yellow as a nice contrast to the blue outside of the Tardis.  It looked like couching some of my perle cotton on top of the Crystal Braid would make nice muntins (which is the fancy architectural term for the grid that divides a window into smaller elements).

One of the stitches Tony recommends is cashmere.  This stitch can be done on the diagonal or in straight rows.  I choose the straight version which is how the windows look in my reference photos.

I thought it would be easy to make a row of three over three cashmere blocks for the front doors of the Tardis, then leave off the top and bottom of the blocks and just use the slanting lines of the stitch for the side windows on the left.  So that is what I did.  I used Rainbow Gallery's Crystal Braid in sunny yellow CR07 for the glowing windows.  The hardest part was counting each row of blocks to make sure both rows in both windows were the same size. I skipped a thread between each block so there would be room for the dividing muntins for the ones on the front.  I just put the muntins on top of the side windows. There's not room for much window there.

The muntins themselves are done with two lines of #8 cotton perle on the front windows and one line of the same thread on the side.  The side areas don't show up much but that might change once I couch down the pairs.  I didn't get to that last night as I also covered over the rear vertical line of the barely glimpsed side of the Tardis.

Here is the NP Now website where you can browse the table of contents for back issues to see which ones you might want to read.  See where it says back issues cost $7 a magazine plus shipping?  NP Now is having a sale of their back issues which now cost $3 per issue plus shipping.  The sale is until May 1st so if you want a copy of something, now is the time to buy.

Tonight I'll couch down the muntins with some DMC cotton floss in the same blue, then start reading up what Mr. Minieri has to say about door panels.  

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Kimono Cyberclasses

I've just learned about a series of three mini cyberclasses that Janet Perry is offering.  The classes (each class costs $27.50) include all the materials you need, from needle and threads to a small canvas from Patt and Lee Designs with instructions by Janet Perry.  The lessons and the answers to your questions are done via email in a Yahoo Group format so that you can choose to get your messages in digest form if you prefer.

The photo above shows the canvas for the first class which will be about using textured stitches.

The second class will be about shading and will feature a different small kimono from Patt & Lee Designs.

The third class will be on using different types of threads to create texture and will feature a third kimono design.

The first class starts April 1 so if you want to learn a bit more about fancying up your needlepoint, or if you know a beginner who'd enjoy this class, head over to Janet's blog to sign up.

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How To Construct a Time Traveler's Machine

If you haven't read yesterday's comments about how to attach the door to the front of my Tardis, please go do so. There are a lot of great ideas folks contributed to the construction project!  You can find the Comments link at the bottom of each day's posting after the date. Just click on Comments and you can see what readers have said in reply to a posting.

I decided to use the wired stumpwork technique the Needleart Nut describes on her blog.  She's making leaves and flower petals and her fabric is different but the principle is the same.

The photo above is extra light so that you can see the wires poking out of the top and bottom edges of the separate door section.  I cut a length of size 28 beading wire that would allow a 2 inch tail on each end, bent it into a C shape, then attached it around the top, left side and bottom of the door with buttonhole stitch, using #12 cotton perle from DMC in the same blue as the cotton floss and #8 cotton perle I've used elsewhere.  If I manage it right, I can slip the door wires through the main canvas and secure them on the back side to have a door that opens.  But there is a long way to go before I get to that point and there are details like how to stitch the door handle, if a magnet will work to close the door, what to back the rear side of the door with, etc.  These are all problems we'll have to tackle but not today.

I should mention I left the #8 perle guidelines of the door in place and also buttonholed over them as well as the wire.  I want my door to have a raised edge.  I will have to outline the other door on the front the same way but there won't be wire there as the left side door doesn't open as Dr. Who #10 demonstrates above.

Last night I also covered some of the vertical outlines with 6 plies of my DMC cotton floss (#798) to make the edges of the Tardis.  The middle division line on the partly visible left side of the Tardis  is thinner than the two front corners of the Tardis.  I didn't use more cotton floss on the front corners--I just laid two more lines of #8 cotton perle there, then covered all the lines with six plies of my cotton floss.  You can see the three foundation threads on the right corner which isn't finished.  I realized that the foundation threads weren't quite straight last night and will have to pull them out again and start over.

Looks like if you have 5-6 inches of lines, it is smart to either tack them down or do them in sections so that they don't wiggle out of line.  I don't want to pull out and restitch the foundation lines in sections as those breaks might show when the DMC cotton floss covers them so I'll pull out the covering threads and then tack down the foundation perle cotton threads in a couple of places to make sure the right corner doesn't lean.

I'm also planning to buttonhole around the left door on the front.  Hopefully I can get all that done by tomorrow.  Buttonhole stitch takes a while if you want each stitch to be even.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Choosing the Right Angle for the Paper Pattern

Making an ornament out of Dr. Who's Tardis police box was a logical choice for me.  It is all straight angles.  That will translate into NP nicely.  An image search was my next step.  If you do a Google or Bing search on Tardis, then click on "images" to limit the search results, you will see photos of the Tardis, mostly ones like this which shows two sides of the exterior.

Occasionally you'll see images like this--a head on view of the front only.  When it comes to translating things like police boxes or houses to NP, it is easier to do a front view instead of a three-quarters angle.

But since I am insane enjoy a challenge, I picked a clear image of a 3/4 view (above) and printed it out on my printer.  I knew from working on the Candy Cane Dog stocking that I wanted an ornament that was roughly six inches high by three inches wide, so I enlarged my image on the printer until I got roughly the right size.  Then I printed out a black and white copy so I could see the angles clearly, and cut it out like a paper doll.  My paper copy is on the right.

Ordinarily my next step would be to trace around the outside of the shape onto my canvas, then fold the paper model along angles like the center line between the two front doors and trace these other lines.

However, because I am insane wanted to use a black canvas with green and yellow sparkles woven in, I had to baste lines on the canvas since no marker would show well against that background.  The principle is the same except instead of drawing lines with a marker, you draw them with thread.  Below is my outlined Tardis.  Note that I haven't drawn in the roof side angles, just put in the long horizontal lines. I'll add the side angles when I stitch this.  The light on the top of the police box is also missing.  I will add it in later, using my reference photos.

The long lines are in #8 perle cotton from DMC.  It didn't matter what color I used for the outlining as long as it would stand out against the background, but I choose blue because the Tardis is blue and I had this in my stash.

You will see in my photo that I am doing one of the doors separately. I thought it would be nice for the right side door of the Tardis to open.  I am not sure I can make this work, but I am going to try.  If I can't get it working, I can always stitch a door panel on the main piece.

You also see that I have started stitching the base of the Tardis.  I am using my thread lines as padding for the base.  I plan to remove some of the lines (like the door panel window lines) once I stitch something inside them but others will raise the corner of the Tardis, or pad the roof line in the right place.

Last night I pulled out the royal blue thread I was using in the photo above and substituted DMC cotton floss in medium blue 798.  It more closely matches the blue of the real Tardis from the tv program.  I bought three skeins of this yesterday and also picked up a skein of DMC satin floss in color 30798 which matches the regular 798 blue shade.  I've not used stain floss before but since Judy Harper likes how it adds highlights to her ornaments, I thought I'd use it for details like the windows on this fake Tardis.

I've deducted four points from my Stash Credits because of this purchase.  I am somewhat astonished as to how many threads I've used from my stash, actually, especially considering I have worked on only five projects since I started counting my thread usage in August:  Leigh's South Seas Dynasty Fiji ornament, Brenda Stofft's Rabbit Geisha, the Leigh O'jishi Japanese Noh Theatre Mask, the SharonG camouflage bra and tap pants set, and Tony Minieri's Stars of the New Millennium.  Of course Stars isn't done but since I know what threads I will use there, I've counted them already.

A few times I was able to add 5 points because I used up all the thread from a skein, and occasionally I've used the same black silk or gold Kreinik here and there on many pieces, but in general I have used many, many types and colors of threads.  I'm a threadaholic, after all!  This isn't typical, though, and one can certainly be a great stitcher using a limited palette of threads.  I just love thread and love showing the various types to you.  Each is wonderful in just the right place, after all!

Wonder if I'll hit 200 stash credits before the summer?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's Next? The Doctor, Of Course

I should go back to Tony Minieri's Stars for the New Millennium and work another quilt block but I have a quick ornament I want to do next.  My niece has become enamored of the Dr. Who series on BBC America, so I am going to stitch an ornament for her that will remind her of all the fun we've had talking about what has been a favorite series of mine since the mid-1970s which she has just discovered.  The actors above are Tom Baker (left) who is my favorite Doctor, the 4th in the series and the just retired 10th Doctor (right), David Tennant, who is my niece's favorite actor in the part.

For those who aren't familiar with this vaguely sci-fi series, Dr. Who is a Time Lord who travels around the universe, having adventures. There are a lot of possibilities to choose between when it comes to picking something to stitch from a British tv show that has been on for decades.  I know I'll need something that is easy to translate into NP, which means something with fairly straight edges (circles are hard to do in NP) that is instantly recognizable despite my lack of drawing skills.

I could use the new logo but although I think it is clever, it doesn't really do much for me.

I could use something iconic like K-9, the 4th Doctor's pet.  However, my niece hasn't seen him on any of the shows since she is just familiar with the 10th Doctor.  (By the way, ten actors have played the Doctor and the eleventh Doctor is due to premiere on BBC American in mid-April.)  So this shape would mean more to me than to her.

But one thing has remained virtually unchanged throughout the series, and that is the vehicle the Doctor travels in--his TARDIS.  It's in the shape of an old fashioned English police call box.  Inside, it is huge (larger on the inside than on the outside) and the interior design has changed with the Doctors.  But outside, well, it has remained virtually the same.  So this is what I will create for my niece--the TARDIS.

Tomorrow I'll talk about how I transferred the design to NP canvas.

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Woodlawn 2010 in Photos

As promised the Woodlawn Plantation exhibit is viewable in photographs this year.  Here is the link to the photo album.  I think what we see are all the first, second and third place winners.  Note the stickers on the id labels.  Blue is for first place, red for second and orange for third place winners. The name, age (junior or adult), state and technique are also on the labels.

This is a really great idea and I commend Nelly's Needlers for doing this.

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The Candy Cane Dog Stocking

Elmer the Candy Cane Dog stocking is finished!

Now he will be put away with the Joan Thomasson Surfin' Santa to wait for Christmas present time. Have you realized by now I'm devoting the bulk of this year to making small Christmas ornaments for my family and friends?

Elmer's trim around the edges is Facets from Kreinik.  This is a trim that looks rather like metallic square beads.  You can see the various colors available here.

I looked at the gold, silver, red and both shades of blue before deciding that I would couch the lightest shade of blue all around the stocking. I did put two rows at the top of the tiny stocking, just because one row looked skimpy.  I used the regular Facets, not the Petite Facets.

The back side is blue velvet and the inside is blue chintz fabric.  I also added a few dangles made from the crystal cubes and the Sundance #11 and #14 hex crystal beads to make the stocking a little more fancy.  I think that if the stocking turns on the tree, the rear view will be pretty, even if it isn't as charming as Elmer himself is.

I think the stocking is really cute and was amazed that it took me only a little over a week to stitch.  Of course I worked each night on this but it still worked up fast.  Elmer is not very big.  The "ankle" is only around 3 inches wide and the stocking almost 6 inches tall.  That makes for a difficult finish.  Next time I won't make something this small a real stocking.

He's a cutie, though. I am so glad he caught my eye and came home with me!

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