Friday, April 30, 2010

Layer One: Legs and Tail

Last night I stitched the first layer of stitches on the tail and two of the four legs of the lion. Following my usual practice, I used two plies of my silk or cotton floss but just one strand of the #8 Kreinik gold metallic.  The stitches you see are stem stitch (mostly, although to make the right curves I occasionally used outline stitch).  This layer just covers the painted canvas, more or less.  I will add more layers in a single ply of my threads on top and blend the threads down into the tent stitched paws.  The most important thing at this stage is to lay down a layer that slants in the right direction--the way real fur lies.  I don't have a lion here to look at but the dogs and the cat have fur, so if I have any question I just look at a tail or leg or tummy here.

This first layer can--and for the most detailed results, probably should be stitched--with one ply instead of two, but using two makes it all go faster.  I enjoy this sort of needle painting but it isn't a fast stitch.

If you want to see how a master of needle painting creates very lifelike animals, we should go visit Tanja Berlin.  She uses long and short stitches instead of the stem stitch technique I am using.  I feel that my stem stitches work better on a small piece that isn't very large but I am not as skilled at Tanja, either.  Whatever technique you want to use, Tanja's approach has great information that will help you, so do a little exploration here, starting with her section that describes what her needle painting instruction booklet.

I hope to do the other two legs and start on the main body today.  I need to put down the first layer on all of the legs, tail and body before I start with the head.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Stuart Plaid Lion: Padding and Paws

The next section of the Leigh British Dynasty Ornament to be stitched is the central figure of the lion.  The first step in stitching this is to make a color copy of the canvas itself.  I do this first thing, before I do any stitching of a painted canvas.  It's a good reference point if you cover areas that you will stitch on later.  I'll toss the copy after the piece is stitched but until I finish, it is what I refer to when I need to see where something goes I can't see on the real canvas.

Once the copy is made, I pull threads.  I choose a brown, a goldenrod, a bright yellow and a metallic gold for the lion itself.  All but the metallic gold are floss type threads since I plan to use random long and short stitches on the lion.  The mouth was already stitched.  I'll need black and white floss for the eye and nose when I get to it.

Then I pulled another thread to use for padding.  In the photo above you see that I used a medium light brown Burmilana doubled to pad the front rear leg and the mane around the lion's face.  I did two layers, one slanting one way and then topped with another layer slanting in another direction.  In the above photo I have not finished the mane's second layer so that you can see better how it was done.

The next step is to tent stitch the lion's face, eye and nose; then tent stitch his paws.  In the above photo this is mostly done and I've added a tiny bit of padding to his lower front paw.  Once the padding and tent stitches for detailed areas are finished, then the base for the random long and short stitches is done.  Now I can actually stitch the lion once I finish his eye and nose which you'll see done using black Splendor #S801 floss and white Impressions #0057 in the photo below.  I used tent stitches for the eye and nose.

The last thing I did before putting my threads away was to finish stitching the metallic hanger at the top of the ornament.  I'd already put rows of yellow beads (the same ones that make up the yellow lines in the Stuart plaid background) on the ornament hanger.  Now I stitched the remaining metallic gold, goldenrod and brown lines with threads I choose for the lion.  I used DMC cotton floss #3862 for the brown, Kreinik's new holographic gold #002L in size 8 braid for the metallic gold, and Soie d'Alger silk floss in #2244 for the goldenrod lines.  The metallic gold was done in extended tent stitches (over two threads high instead of just one thread intersection) to maximize the shine from this lovely thread. The goldenrod and brown areas were just tent stitches, done with four plies of each thread.

I hope to start work on the lion's body tonight.

On another topic entirely, here is a photo of the Barbara Bergsten Designs display at the Dallas trade show.  I love seeing how the designers present their work.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stars: Vivian Leigh Finished

I'm sure you are thinking About Time Vivian was finished!  I know I am.

Tomorrow Blog should return to the painted canvas side of needlepoint as I pick up my British Dynasty ornament and start stitching the lion.

In other news, Sandra Gilmore is making a surprise personal appearance at The Chaparral today (April 28) from 1-4 p.m.  There will be refreshments plus a mini truck show and sale of her Once in a Blue Moon canvases.  If you happen to be in Houston today, stop by.  Here's contact info and a map.

By the way, if you click on the photo of the little Victorian Fourth of July girl at the Chaparral site, you can see their new monthly series of these vintage Melissa Shirley designs.  I love the little drummer boy and his parade outfit!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The New Vivian Leigh (and the Other New)

Last night I managed to restitch the border around the outside of Vivian Leigh in colors that I think better show off the quilt block pattern.  The slanting buttonhole variation stitch is done in four plies of A7 (DMC cotton floss #340) and the Sprats head stitch triangles are done in A4 (Impressions #6043).  This is not what Tony planned but I do like it a lot better than his threads or my previous iterations.  Yesterday's border with the overydyed thread and dark violet Rainbow Linen perle is shown in this photo so you can see why I changed the threads.

Now I just need to stitch the black sashing below Vivian before I put this away for a while.

In other news, The Management Team's (not TNNA as I thought--thanks for the correction, Joan) cash and carry trade show is happening in Dallas.  Already the Texas shops are posting on their blogs about the goodies they are bringing home.  Here is what the Needle Works in Austin loved.

And here is what Pocket Full of Stitches in Lubbock adored.

I expect to see more shop news about the latest designs as shop owners stagger home over the next few days.  Everyone, travel safely!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at

Monday, April 26, 2010

Look at the Cats, Not Vivian Leigh

Yesterday I finished the border around the perimeter of Vivian Leigh and then promptly ripped it all out. I hated how it looked.  Alone, the border looked great, but the mix of deep violet and the overdye's shading just didn't look good with the paler and lighter center of the square.  Instead of setting it off, it detracted from the square and really bothered me.  So out it came.  I am going to try again today.  Wish me luck!

While I wrestle with Vivian,  here's a preview of new designs created for the Columbus TNNA show in June.  The canvas above is the latest Halloween Trick or Treat Cats from Patt and Lee Designs.  There is a preview canvas --but just one-- available from New Needlepoint as the owner Marianne and Patt herself are good friends.  Patt has just finished stitching the canvas and is writing up the stitch guide which will be available soon.  Note that the canvas is 16 count.

That's not all.  There are more Trick or Treat cats, and cats in general, that will appear in June at the trade show.  These are on the Patt and Lee website already. (That pirate cat cracks me up!) Patt and Lee creates high quality printed canvases on the size 14, 16 or 18 canvas.  Charts are also available, and there are plans to release the most popular of their line as painted canvases since many stitchers don't realize what good quality (and great prices) there are in the Patt and Lee line of printed designs.  You can wait and pay more for a painted canvas later this year or splurge now.

I hope you have fun exploring the newest designs for our stitching pleasure while I glare at Vivian....

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vivian Leigh (and More)

Last night I finished up the diagonal trellis squares and then tackled the triangular Sprats heads around the border of Vivian Leigh.  They gave me fits but not because they are hard to stitch.  I had trouble picking a thread to use.  As you remember from yesterday, I decided to use the overdyed silk that was supposed to be used for the Sprats head stitches for the slanted buttonhole variations instead.  But I really didn't want to switch the threads for these two areas because I didn't think black would look good in the Sprats heads.  I thought they'd just disappear into the sashing and border around this square.  That's one of the problems of using black as one of the four colors (plus overdye) for this piece.  You can't do shading well.  Tony's green Sprats heads are not the same shade as his green sashing but my blacks are all pretty similar and in this instance, I wanted more than texture to make these stand out.

So I did a lot of stitching and ripping out.  In the end I settled on using Rainbow Gallery's Rainbow Linen in deep purple #R453.  This is a 100% linen thread in a perle twist.  It makes a lovely contrast to the rest of the stitching, especially the overdyed threads that are also in the border.  I should finish all the Sprats heads today and the bottom area of sashing and be ready to return to my painted canvas tomorrow.

In other news:

Madonna takes scissors to her Red Kerchief canvas.  Not to worry, it turns out just great in the end.

Before I forget, Needle Works' April newsletter is available for viewing on their website.  Links to recent newsletters are in the left column below the green owl canvas.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vivian Leigh Almost Grown Up

The last Stars quilt block on the top row is almost done.  I first did the squares outside the center star.  They are a four step trellis variation stitch.  Then I did the slanting button hole variation stitch with my overdyed silk and have started the first of the Sprats Head stitches that fill the triangular empty spots around the border of this block.

There's a closeup of Vivian Leigh below so you can see the trellis variation stitch better.  This is stitched four times and I didn't finish it so you could see how Tony took a basic trellis pattern and added layers to it to make a complex layered stitch that is very pretty.  You can see that the stitches in the Stars for the New Millennium book are not standard.  The Headmaster is making them up as he goes along.  After I finish this piece, I'm going to reuse the Stars book as a stitch dictionary and as inspiration to embellish other stitches to add depth and complexity of color and texture to the painted canvases I love.

The first step of the square Diagronal Trellis Variation is above at the Southwest position between the black rimmed kite shapes.  It is done in C3, which for me is my terracotta Trebizond silk perle #Peach Sorbet 343.    I did two of the squares with the canvas right side up and the other two with the canvas upside down so that I was certain that the top layer of the trellis was always the same.  Tony tells us the Southwest to Northeast layer is done first and if I turned the canvas sideways to work, I was afraid I'd get the wrong layer on top.

Move counter-clockwise to the right and you'll see layer two, which is long narrow cross stitches laid on top at an angle.  This step uses A1, my violet Impressions 6242.  If you continue to move counter-clockwise, you'll see step three, which adds another layer of long narrow cross stitches but these are in B8 (black Trebizond silk perle #1320) and they slant the opposite diection.  There is a lot of compensation in this layer but it's easy to do.

The final step adds tiny Upright Crosses over two threads between the slanting narrow cross stitches.  This step is done in D2, which is my light copper metallic Petite Treasure Braid #PB21.  I am not sure if you can tell from the last square in the upper Northwest corner, but this step really brings the stitch to life by adding a touch of metallic.

The last two steps in Vivian Leigh are the parallelograms in slanting buttonhole variation stitches and the triangular Sprats Head stitches that interlock to make up the border.  The instructions say to stitch the buttonhole stitches with B7 and the Sprats Heads in the overdyed silk (which is separate from Tony's colors A, B, C and D).  I decided that since my B7 is the black silk perle Trebizond #111, and my overdyed silk floss is Threadgather's Silk N Colors #Autumn Twilight 62, that the overdyed silk would make better buttonhole stitches and the silk perle better Sprats Heads, so I switched them.  I like how it all turned out, although I am tempted to pull out the buttonhole stitches and do them all in an terracotta overdyed cotton floss that shades from coppery dark to light terracotta....

We'll see if I actually do it once I finish the Diagonal Trellis Variation area and once I master a Sprats Head or two.  I will still have to do the sashing under Vivian Leigh before I can put this away for a bit to go back to my Leigh Dynasty ornament.  I won't be doing the right outside border until all of the quilt blocks are done to minimize disturbing the border while stitching quilt blocks.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at

Introducing Diana Bosworth

Texas stitchers and fans of Petei's designs already know all about Diana Bosworth, the genius who works at The French Knot in Fort Worth creating the monthly Santa club there each year from Petei's canvases.

Santa fanciers probably have at least heard of her little booklet called Beards I Have Known, which is full of tips on stitching a huge variety of beards and hair for your Santa Claus. (I own an autographed copy which I use a lot.  Diana, I'm waiting for you to write Backgrounds I Have Known, or Clothing for Petei books.  Either would be a great addition to my bookshelf.  Pretty please?)

Now courtesy of the Cleburne Times-Review's online paper, we can read an interview with Diana done by Larue Barnes.  Larue kindly let me use her photo of Diana above, too.

I have to say I disagree with Diana Bosworth's husband when he says,  “I’m so proud of Diana. What she creates are heirlooms, they are true treasures.”  The true treasure is Diana herself.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stars: Vivian Begins to Grow

As you can see, Vivian Leigh is expanding to fill the quilt block.  I finally got all the black crescents on top of the last step, then added small triangles to flank the kite-shaped areas. This part is done with A7 (which for me is DMC cotton floss in 340).  It looks woven to me and is starting to make the rather boring center a lot more interesting.

I've posted the photo turned on its side to show that the overall Stars for the New Millennium design looks good from any angle.  There are three more areas to finish before the block is done.  The next one is a very complex trellis pattern with four steps of its own, followed by parallelograms and triangles that interlock to make a fancy border. I won't get it all done tonight. I'll be lucky if I manage to get all of the trellis steps done!

I hope it continues to add to Vivian Leigh.  I like how she is starting to look.  Once I finish her, I'll decide whether to add beads to the previous block and do the sashing below the block before I return to my painted canvas project.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch and Other News

It's been a while since I've reported on any new monthly clubs that shops are offering.  Old World Designs has a new club--a pumpkin patch of various little squashes in fascinating shapes.  The first five are stitched and look great.

If you live in New Jersey and are a fan of Lynn Payette, you'll want to check out the Beautiful Birches class Gone Stitching is going to offer.  There's a small photo on the home page and a link to details about the class.  While you are at the site, don't miss the Flicker photo album of stitched or finished items from the shop and remember that Gone Stitching Radio is each Monday afternoon.  You can hear all the radio interviews with stitching personalities by clicking on the Blog Talk Radio Gone Stitching link in the right hand column.  Once you arrive at the radio page, choose an interview to listen to.  Better yet, bookmark the second link below.

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Stars: Introducing Vivian Leigh

I need a little break before I start on the lion himself in my Stuart Plaid Lion ornament, so I've been working on the last block in the top row of the Stars piece.  This is called Vivian Leigh.  Just to remind you, my colors are:  violet (A), black (B), terracotta (C), and copper metallic (D).

The photo above shows the first four areas out of the seven that make up this quilt block.  The center square is worked first in C4 (Flair F527), then covered with straight lines using B7 (Cascade House's overdyed silk perle 9325). That whole area is topped by A6 (Trebizond silk perle 111), which seems to have pulled the straight lines out of true. I've been trying to straighten them, but so far without success.  Any ideas?

The second step surrounds the center square with a border of long armed cross stitch using B7 again.  Since my B7 is an overdyed silk perle, I got very pretty color variation as I worked each side.  The third step is to add pale terracotta kite-shaped areas around the perimeter of the center square using C5, my Impressions 3064.  Once these are all in, the fourth step is to top these shapes with a crescent stitch using just two plies of B8 (J.L. Walsh's silk/wool blend #1320).  I stopped after doing just one as it was difficult to see where the crescent went at night.  You may not have trouble if your underlying thread and the canvas color aren't as similar as mine are.  I just couldn't see easily where to put things.  I'll finish up this step late this afternoon when it is sunny.

And maybe I should start saving up for a new light/magnifier!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Surrounded, Crowned, and Beaded

Yesterday I finished the red crown.  To do so, first I added a few tent stitches to the empty spaces on each side of the crown and in the middle with my Elegance silk perle.  The skip tent background was showing there and I thought it would look odd because of Step Two.  The second step was to attach crystal hex beads (I used Sundance size 14 beads in color #250) with a doubled ply of my royal blue Sullivans Floss.  That helped the beads stand out a bit. In the photo the red crown doesn't show up much against the red skip tent background but in person the metallic shine makes it pop off the background.  Using blue thread to attach the beads makes them stand out, too. Notice that I slanted the beads on the right using reverse tent stitches and did the beads on the left in tent to slant them the other way.  The center column of beads were attached straight up and down in a row.

This stitched sample on 10 count plastic canvas shows how the crown was done.  The white stitches are the left to right row I stitched.  The brown stitches are the second row I worked right to left.  I stitched this on top of the skip tent background, so the next step was to add tent stitches to the empty right/left/center spaces inside the crown with my background thread so that they were completely stitched.  (This is not shown above for clarity.)  Then I attached beads on top of the tent and skip stitches.  The green thread shows how the beads were attached with different slanting threads to make them turn or stand upright.   I found this darning stitch diagrammed on page 101 of SuZy Murphy's book entitled SuZy's Darn Stitches.

Then I took my red Elegance silk perle and put 2 tent stitches all the way around the perimeter of the ornament to help the finisher.

The last thing I did last night was to attach rows of yellow beads to the ornament's metallic hanger.  I used the same yellow beads that make up the yellow stripes in the plaid and the same DMC yellow floss I used there to attach them.  The rest of the hanger will be stitched with the threads I will use on the lion.

By the way, Leigh Richardson herself suggested I use gold for the crown instead of red.  She thought that gold would be lighter than the red and I could put a gold crown in above the tail.  I may try that but I may not.  I am very happy with the canvas as it is but when the designer has an idea, it is always worth serious consideration and I thought someone else stitching the Stuart Plaid Lion might want to use gold crowns in the background.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Path

Here's what I finally settled on for the background behind the Lion.  I appreciate everyone's opinions.  They really helped me decide what I liked and why.  Almost everyone who responded had a different set of likes and dislikes, all of which look good.  I just chose what I liked best personally.  No beads or metallics in the background, either.  I've decided to leave the skip tent background alone.

My next step is to put two rows of tent stitches all around the perimeter to aid in finishing.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

More Background Paths

I worked a bit more skip tent background behind the Stuart Plaid Lion yesterday and also started back on Stars.  I'll report my progress on the Tony Minieri counted thread piece tomorrow.  Today let's just talk about the Dynasty Ornament.  As you can see in the photo above, I have the background 2/3 done and also worked crowns in the margins around the design.  Several folks had mentioned they liked the crowns in the background if they were muted, so I stitched a couple of crowns in my #8 silk perle (Elegance #E822 from Rainbow Gallery) and also a slightly smaller version in my red holographic Kreinik 1/16 inch ribbon.  It always helps me to compare things if I have the real thing to look at.

I also started playing around with the skip tent background, trying to see if I should put #8 braid in the empty spots (I used the holographic Kreinik again) or use crystal clear hex beads instead.  And if I used beads, should I use red floss or blue floss to attach them?  The next photo shows a close up of the background with all three variations.  I need to see this in good light (it was very overcast yesterday) to see what it looks like but so far I think I like the beads better than the holographic metallic. They are more subtle. I like the background but I do have to make sure it stays in the background and doesn't overwhelm the lion.  I think the red holographic Kreinik might make the background too overwhelming.  Of course I could stay with the tweedy look of just plain skip tent stitches.  Decisions, decisions!

Speaking of decisions, I made a color and a black and white copy of my design to use when I start stitching the lion.  I cut out the crowns I stitched in the margins of the canvas from my black and white copy, put double-sided tape on the back of each, and positioned them here and there on my color copy.  This helps me decide just how the crowns look if I scatter them different places.

First, you'll remember that Robin made us a mock up of the Stuart Lion Plaid with an all-crown background using Photoshop.  I think this is too busy, even when done in my silk perle instead of metallic.  It would work nicely if done on a cream colored background but since I want red, I've discarded this option.

I could use three crowns instead of an all crown background.  These seem too many to me.  What do you think?

I could use just two crowns on the right and omit the one near the fading stripes.  I think this moves the focal point too much to the right, however.  The lion is clearly looking at the fading stripes on the left.

I could drop one of the right hand crowns and have a more balanced background with a crown on each side.  I like this.  It adds weight to the  focal point on the left but fills the empty spot on the right side above the tail.

I could also use just one crown.  In this version it is located just above the lion's paw, adding to the left side focal point.  Does this make the other side of the ornament look bare to you?  If I do this, the crown has to be shrunk a bit to fit or I have to remove the fading stripes entirely and move the crown to the middle of where the blue stripe currently resides.  I do like the fading stripes but the lion reaching for the crown is a more symbolic background.

Finally, I could put the single crown on the right side above the tail, leaving the fading stripes without a crown.  This is a more symmetrical balancing of the ornament but it makes the fading stripes look a bit wimpy.

I'm going into such detail to explain the possibilities and point out that whatever you prefer, most of the options are equally valid.  To some of us, the all-crown background isn't too busy while it drives others of us nuts to have all those crowns.  It is a matter of personal taste which background you prefer.  The choice of threads matters greatly in deciding as well.  I like the holographic red crowns but adding holographic red tent stitches between the skip tent stitches seems too loud to me.  All a matter of taste....

I know a great many folks don't like to stitch painted canvases without a stitch guide because the huge number of possibilities seem overwhelming.  I find all the choices very interesting myself.  They make me think and plan and come up with ways to try out the possibilities without having to stitch and rip and stitch again.

After all this, I think I like the single tiny crown in red holographic Kreinik just above the lion's paw near the fading stripes.  But I'll have to decide about the skip tent background before I make a final decision.  Using beads or Kreinik metallic will definitely impact the crown....

Stay tuned.  This is better than the Perils of Pauline, right?  LOL

By the way, the poll seems to be broken.  No one can log in to vote, not even me, and I have to be logged in to post Blog entries! In the hope that this will be fixed today now that folks are back at work from the weekend, I'll leave the poll up until tomorrow.  You can always post your vote in the Comments or email me directly at chilly hollowat hotmaildotcom.  Thanks for your patience while I glare at Blogger.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Bit More Background (and Tongue)

While everyone is thinking over their vote (or trying to make the poll work--lots of folks are having trouble but not to worry, just post a comment here or email your vote to me at chilly hollow at hot mail dotcom), I added the background stitch to the ornament.  I choose skip tent.  I wanted something rather plain in the end.  I did test all the background stitches you see on the right of the ornament first but kept coming back to the tent stitch family.  I wanted a stitch that would work with either the crowns --which can be stitched right on top--or the fading lines from the plaid, more of which can also be worked on top.  I also removed the thin silver line on the right side of the ornament which I never liked once I'd stitched it.

Right now it looks a bit tweedy.  I may fill the empty spots between each skip tent stitch seen above with a tent stitch in my red holographic Kreinik or perhaps with crystal beads.  (Or maybe I won't!)  The thread I used is Rainbow Gallery's Elegance, which is a silk perle thread around the size of #8 cotton perle.  The color is E822 which is a very pretty medium Christmas red that is slightly darker than the reds used in the plaid.

By the way, I stitched the lion's tongue a while ago and keep forgetting to nention it.  The darker red base is tent stitches in my red holographic Kreinik #8 braid, and the lighter top is stem stitch in the bright red Trio.  These are both threads used in the plaid area. In this instance I separated one of the three Trio bundles into half so I used one of the six strands you can separate this thread into.  Ordinarily I just use of of the main three bundles but this I made smaller.  There's not enough stitching to stress the thread enough to make it pull apart in the middle but I was pretty careful with my thread tension, just in case.  Trio is really not intended to be divided into 6 sections.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Fork in the Road UPDATED

After I worked a bit on the background last night, I realized we've reached a fork in the road.  Let me explain.

I always intended to work some of the lines up into the plaid and have them fade away into a background of darning stitch patterns.  I planned to use a fleur de lis for the darning stitch as that is a prominent part of the Stuart royal court of arms.

But I never found or was able to create a small enough scale fleur de lis to fit into the background space.  I did find a lovely little crown pattern in SuZy Murphy's SuZy's Darn Stitches, which is a book full of darning stitches for borders or backgrounds.  In the photo above you see two crowns from page 101 done in the 1/16 inch Kreinik holographic ribbon.

The dilemma comes because I don't think I have enough space to work both fading lines and the crowns.  Do I rip out the lines that are in the empty background space and just fill it with crowns?  Do I rip out the crowns and just do a few more lines?  Or do I stop here and go with what I have stitched, just filling in the background with tent stitches around what is in the photo above?

I am having trouble deciding and I'd like input.  Therefore I am about to post a poll at the top of Blog for folks to vote on their favorite background. I'll wait a couple of days until I have another Stars block finished and we'll see what the poll result is before I take the right fork, turn left, or stay on my current road.

UPDATE:  To vote in the poll, you have to have a Blogger or Google account.  If you have neither, just post a comment below.  I'll count those in as part of the official poll vote.  Robin sent me a photoshopped photo showing an all crown background which I've added on the left.  This will help you decide.   THANKS, ROBIN!

While you debate, you might want to visit the new Pocket Full of Stitches blog.  The shop has transitioned to its new owners and is having a sale on current stock.  The day's sale is announced through the blog postings about the Designer of the Day.

You will want to visit the shop itself to see their announcement of the two new monthly clubs for the year:  Kelly Clark's Pears set and the Renaissance Designs' Halloweenies ornaments.  PFOS is famous for their monthly clubs and a favorite of many stitchers. I am really glad the original owners were able to find someone to take over the shop so that it continues after the retirement of its founders.

Speaking of clubs and Halloween, I just stumbled across Needle Orts' Halloween ornament set.  These are different and fun for the holiday stitcher.  They are all on this page mixed in with the nutcracker club canvases.

I'll go set up a poll while you browse.  See you back here shortly!

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Friday, April 16, 2010


I decided I wanted something a bit different for the yellow stripe in the plaid half of this ornament, so I pulled out a tube of size 15 yellow hex beads (they are not labeled as to manufacturer but are slightly smaller than Mill Hill's Magnifica G11011 beads) and attached them in horizontal rows, using a doubled single ply of yellow DMC floss to attach them in an upright line.  Once I finished all the horizontal lines, I turned the canvas on its side and worked the vertical lines horizontally.  I thought that would work best and I am pleased with the outcome.  As with the royal blue stripe, one row of yellow is worked up into the pink background area by stitching a group of beads, then two single beads.

I need to finish the silver rows.  I haven't done the row just under the tail on the right and some of the silver lines will extent into the plain upper background so I have more work to do before I can say that the plaid is stitched.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 2010 Chilly Hollow Newsletter Article

I am writing this the week before IRS Day, on a cold day with lots of sunshine. I think Spring has started to arrive in Chilly Hollow and I hope it is well underway wherever you are.

The guide to needlepoint has posted a spring looking bamboo framework chart meant for an initial. She also has created an Asian looking alphabet to use in the center. These are neat!
Here is the bamboo framework,
and here is the alphabet.

Spring always makes me thing of Asian designs. If you are like me, Jane Zimmerman's newest cyber class for the Shining Needle Society is shown here. It's a pretty thing, isn't it?

However, not everyone is a fan of Asian themes. Not to worry. Jane is about to publish a new stitch dictionary, all background stitches. This is not a huge book, so it's not expensive, but it will be useful.

In other book news, Linda Corirossi's books are coming back into print. I own her first book and use it often to find stitches.

Finally, I've found mention of a place to get famous people NP canvases. If you've ever wanted to stitch Abraham Lincoln, this is the place!

Have a great spring, everyone!
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Jagged Silver

Yesterday was hectic so I only finished the silver lines in the plaid, couching a doubled line of #8 braid with a 1/16 inch length of the same Kreinik holographic silver.  It is harder than you would think because the metallic threads catch other loose threads that are on the back and bring them forward, even if you think you had them secure.  It also is hard to keep the 1/16 inch ribbon smooth as you work.  I can see in the photo that there are 1-2 places where the thread twisted that I didn't notice.  I'll fix that before continuing the silver lines up into the background.

Pat asked the in the Comments yesterday what I planned to do with the background.  Wait and see....

Jane, teasing here in CH

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sullivans Embroidery Floss and the Stuart Plaid

I know at least one reader is interested in stitching plaids in more than just tent stitch.  If you look carefully at yesterday's photo in close up above, you'll see that the largest bright red areas are broken up into smaller sections, each stitched as a separate rectangle.  I thought that would look better than a smooth filling of the large shape with laid slanted stitches.  I want the plaid to have dimension and I'm doing this with texture (using silk/wool blends and metallics) and also with different stitches.

Today I am adding a new thread called Sullivans Embroidery Floss (well, it is new to me) that a friend sent.  She'd heard good and bad things about it so she got some samples for me to use.  One color happened to be a royal blue, suitable for the Stuart Plaid.  So I used it.  Sullivans Embroidery Floss is a six stranded cotton floss thread, made in China according to the label.  Sullivans is an Australian company with an affiliate in New Zealand.  They do tapestry wool and a lot of sewing notions, too.  The royal blue color I have is #796 and it seems to be a pretty close color match to DMC's #796.  Sullivans says right on the label that this skein is "similar to DMC #796."

I had a little trouble stripping the Sullivans floss into the six plies. I cut my usual 18 inch length and it did knot itself together as I tried to separate the plies.  It seems to be important to hold all the plies in one hand and pull hard on the one you want to separate with the other.  The individual plies seem a bit thinner and a little shinier than DMC cotton floss plies.  Otherwise, I can't tell much difference.  The Sullivans stitches up just fine.  Since no one here carries Sullivans, I probably will just use the colors my friend sent and not try to mail order but I'd bet that folks in Australia where it is based use Sullivans all the time.  If anyone else has experience stitching with this thread, we'll all love you to post about it in the comments.  For everyone else, here is the Sullivans American website's page about their embroidery floss.

Back to the stitching!

Using four plies of my Sullivans, I stitched the bright blue areas in Cashmere Stitch, mostly laid out horizontally.  Here is a diagram but the stitches here are oriented vertically.

It is pretty easy stitching.  There are a few areas where the cashmere stitches need to be a bit longer or shorter, or where a tent stitch or two is needed around a leg, but it is straightforward. As you can see, I extended one of the blue stripes up into the upper half of the ornament and started to fade it out, stitching with spaces between two cashmere stitches, or just doing some of the stitches that make up a cashmere stitch block.  This fading technique is one Marnie Ritter uses a lot and I admire it greatly.   I thought it would continue the plaid up into the top background without dominating the area.

I've also started working the white lines in the plaid.  You may not be able to tell from the photo, but some of the white lines are light grey where the line crosses the black plaid areas.  I decided rather than stitching some as white and some as grey, I would stitch all of these lines in silver, using my new Kreinik holographic thread.  I've done two vertical lines, laying long lines of thread on either side of the thread painted white (or grey).  You can see this on the right hand line that is stitched.  My vertical threads actually lie in the "ditches" on either side of the painted line.  I used Kreinik holographic 001L in #8 braid for this.

The left hand stitched line is tidied up by couching over the two underlying silver holographic threads with Kreinik holographic 001L in 1/16 inch ribbon.  The 1/16" ribbon is shinier than the #8 braid and couching the underlying thread makes for a tidier and brighter line.

This is just another way of dealing with a single line in a plaid.  I think it will look nice once I finish.  Some of the silver lines will also end up in the upper background.  But you'll have to wait and see what things look like until I can finish the silver stitching tonight (hopefully).

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Stuart Lion's Plaid

I decided the easiest place to start on the Stuart Plaid Lion ornament was the plaid section, and I also decided to work all the plaid a color at a time.  This is a bit chancy as the various lines and rows and boxes are of different sizes.  It is really easy to do a block three stitches wide and then do the section above it four stitches wide by accident.  So I am careful to work a vertical column at a time, making sure that the next color I use is done in stitches that are as wide or narrow as previous colors in that section.

In the above photo, I have worked all the reds, using the Trio (Really Red #T312) for the bright red and the holographic Kreinik (Robot Red #003L) for the dark red.  As I mentioned yesterday, I used size #8 Kreinik braid for the single line of tent stitches and the larger size #12 Kreinik braid for the blocks of cashmere or Scotch stitches.  I liked how those two sizes covered these various sections.

I worked the single line in tent stitches first, then stitched the single stitches around the paws and tail, then worked the larger boxes and rectangles for each color.

Once those areas were done (and it took longer than you'd think as there is a lot of red in the plaid) I worked the black squares and lines in the same fashion, using the Felicity’s Garden Cast Iron Black #008.  Felicity's Garden is a silk/Merino wool blend tapestry style thread.  You can't ply it, unlike Trio, but the two thread brands are both half silk and half merino wool.

I love the silky shine of Felicity's Garden and since I have a nice little stash of it, I used it often.  It works well on either 13 or 18 count canvas if you are doing tent stitches.  On the Stuart Plaid Lion, it looks very deep and inky black in comparison to the two red threads.  It's perfect for my purpose, in other words, although there is a bit of black fuzziness compared to Trio which--although fuzzier when unstitched--is less so stitched.  Here is the Felicity's Garden website.  They offer a shaded overdyed Felicity's Garden called Felicity's Garden Duet, a lambswool/alpaca tapestry thread called Newport Harbor which is made up of shades of colors, and Annabelle's Playhouse, which is a wool tapestry yarn.

I'll have a photo tomorrow that shows the black areas stitched and reveals the interesting things I plan for the thin yellow and white lines and the slightly larger blue lines in the plaid.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Woodlawn 2010: More Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Remember the bamboo design all in silk ribbon that I admired so at Woodlawn last month?  I got a message in the Comments section of that message from the piece's stitcher this morning which tells more about the design and the silk ribbon embroidery.

The stitcher writes:
"Thank you very much for your compliments and the attention to this important piece!! This was very special piece for me to stitch. The canvas was a wedding gift from the designer, Keri Duke of Keri Designs. I used 39 spools (5 meters each) of 100 percent silk ribbon from River Silks, a wonderful company that my Parents started in 2003. This is the only kind of ribbon that will withstand this kind of stitching abuse. Since I have been asked about this piece and have had stitchers interested in stitching it, River Silks will be adding this piece to their arsenal of Kits To Go. Your favorite fiber arts store can order it for you. 

For more inspiration and ideas for stitching with ribbon, please visit the and click on "Finished Projects" You will be able to see a wide variety of pieces stitched with River Silks ribbon from First-Timers to Professionals! Can you guess which one is which? After that, please explore the website and learn more about our fabulous ribbons!

Thank you again, please don't hesitate to contact me with questions regarding this piece."

Happy Stitching!
Lynn Krynicki Bayer
"Green Bamboo" stitcher
River Silks LTD

Here is the canvas on the Keri Designs website.  By the way, the design is reversed there.  I flipped it in the photo above to show the way I saw it at Woodlawn.  There it was framed in a simple black frame and didn't have the green fabric at the top and bottom that I remember.

The River Silks website.  The bamboo piece isn't shown there in the Kits to Go section yet.

Many, many thanks to Lynn K. Bayer for answering the questions I had about this piece.  I should point out I have an indirect commercial relationship with River Silks as I write stitch guides and stitch models for Leigh Designs canvases and Leigh Designs is distributing River Silks right now.  But I had no idea who stitched this piece until the comment showed up this morning.

Sure glad we know more.  It was a lovely piece and I am glad that it will be available as a kit.

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Test Driving Threads (Part Two)

Once I got home with my new threads and actually started to stitch, I had to decide just where to use Trio and the holographic Kreinik.  I had two Trio skeins, a dark burgundy and a bright red.  I also had a ruby metallic, the holographic Kreinik.  The plaid itself just has two reds so one of the three threads was going to have to be discarded.  So I put the burgandy Trio aside and started some test stitches with the lighter red Trio and the metallic.  Since I had three sizes of the holograhic Kreinik, I had to test stitch with each. So there are actually four threads in the stitching above--one Trio and three Kreiniks.

If you look carefully at this close up, the #12 Kreinik holographic braid is the two fat lines just under the top paw.  Moving down directly under them, you see a line that has the right and left sides stitched but not the middle.  This row is in Trio.  The left side is one ply and the right side is two.  I was testing whether I could get away with one ply in these long slanting stitches.  I decided that for this stitch, I preferred two plies of the three that are in each strand of Trio.   Trio is easy to stitch with, by the way.  Each ply can be easily removed from a strand.  I used an 18 inch length of thread, which is normal for me, without any problems although the last three inches of the thread are worn by the needle and have to be cut off and discarded by the time I finish stitching.  I think the wool texture and the silk shine of Trio is going to look great on the plaid areas.

However, you should read the comments after yesterday's blog message.  Not everyone has an easy time with Trio.  The three plies can each be divided into two parts, giving you 6 plies altogether.  I would not do this myself as Trio is a delicate thread.  Separating it into six plies makes it very soft and delicate and the thread could separate as you stitch.  If you are having a great deal of trouble, try shorter lengths, a larger needle eye, and don't split it into more than 3 plies.

The row just under the Trio row is the #12 holographic braid again. At the bottom of the picture you see a strand of that thread in #8 braid.  Note how the cut end frays.  You will need to be careful on the back side that none of these loose ends wiggle out and show on the front.  This row also shows that occasionally some of the shiny Mylar that gives holographic thread its shine will become exposed.  You'll get a silver "streak" there.  I will have to remove part of this stitch and cut out the streak and restitch but since this is test stitching, I left it.  I know most if not all of the stitches I've done will be pulled out since this is Just A Test.

Using the same close up photo again, look at the red block just above the lower paw.  This is done with the #8 holographic red Kreinik.  I also did a row of tent stitches to the right of this block between the white and yellow lines.  I decided I like the #8 braid better for tent stitches but the #12 braid better for the slanted rows.

At the very bottom of the ornament near the cut frayed thread is the 1/16 inch ribbon.  In this piece the holographic read is a little shinier using the holographic ribbon and the texture is flatter, especially next to any red plaid in the Trio.  I think I am going to use the #8 braid holographic Kreinik for the tent stitched single lines and the #12 braid holographic Kreinik for the longer slanted lines that fill a fatter row.

You have to remember that just because I choose to use the #8 and #12 braid for my piece that yours won't do better in the 1/16 inch ribbon.  It all depends on the stitch you are using, the threads stitched next door to this area, and the effect you want.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Test Driving Threads (Part One)

When I made the long drive to the Woodlawn Plantation exhibit, I took along a list of DMC colors to use to pull the threads I didn't have in my stash already for the Stuart Plaid Lion ornament.  I was particularly looking for threads that matched the dark and bright reds in the plaid area of the ornament.  I searched In Stitches, Needlewoman East, and Waste Knot the same way-- I pulled out my list of DMC colors, then found the two skeins of DMC cotton floss in each shop that were on my list.  Then I could carry the DMC around each shop, matching shades of red in order to pick something I thought would work with the threads I already have for this project.  Once I had found (or not found) something, I could return the DMC floss to its home on the shop shelves.

I ended up with three red threads for the plaid--two red Trios and a red Kreinik #12 metallic.  Trio is a silk and wool blend that can be stranded like Paternayan into three plies.  It is made by Brown Paper Packages, the company that sells Silk & Ivory.  Silk & Ivory is a silk/marino wool tapestry thread that is not dividable.   It is a little too fat for 18 count canvas, so Brown Paper Packages came out with Trio which can be used on 13 count (all three strands) or on 18 count (one or two strands).  Except for the thread being dividable or not, Silk & Ivory and Trio are identical.

I choose two shades of red in Trio--Really Red #T312 and Burgundy T324.  You can see them both in the Wine Red section of the Brown Paper Packages website.  The color numbers differ online because the threads pictured are the tapestry wool Silk & Ivory line, not the Trio.  I haven't stitched with Trio before so I am eager to try this thread.

I also bought a spool of the new Kreinik holographic thread in size #12, color 003L which is a ruby red (it's called Robot Red).  Here is information about the threads and small squares of the color on the Kreinik website.  If you can enlarge the page, do so to see the colors better.

A few days after my trip, I got an email out of the blue from Dena Lenham of Kreinik asking me if I would like a little of the new holographic thread to play with.  I asked for a second spool of my holographic ruby thread in #8 braid.  I was a bit afraid that #12 was going to be too fat as it really was intended for 13 count canvases.  The Stuart Plaid Lion is on 18 count.  My envelope from Dena arrived last week and I was amazed to find the entire line of #8 braid and also the entire set of 1/16 inch holographic ribbon inside!  Thank you, Dena!  Blog's readers are very grateful that you sent all this for review purposes.

In the photo above, the #8 braid set is on top and the 1/16" ribbon on the bottom.  My #12 spool is in the middle.  The colors are a bit brighter in the holographic ribbon as it is shinier than the braids, whether they are #8 or #12 braid.  But the reds are identical across all three sizes otherwise and the other colors seem to be the same in #8 and 1/16 inch ribbon.  It is just that the ribbon thread shows the holographic Mylar better so it has more reflective ability.

In both photos you can see the frayed cut end of my #12 braid spool, and how curly the thread is when it first comes off the spool.  The curl stays in the thread longer than a perm stays in my hair!  I suggest you cut a twelve inch length, then grasp each end and pull hard.  That will straighten it some. If you use too long a length, the curl will start to kink and knot somewhere in the middle.  Even pulled and stretched, the curl remains and might cause problems in a longer strand.  The curl isn't as prominent in the 1/16 inch ribbon but a short length is still a good idea.  The ribbon will twist and has to be laid to make sure it is flat so that the light will bounce off it well and shine.  I find it easier to lay a thread that isn't too long a length since I only have two hands, one for the threaded needle and one for the laying tool.

I've also decided that once you cut a length and tie a knot, you should trim the raw end past the knot as close to the knot as you can.  The end will splay out into the elements that make up the thread and those loose ends can be pulled into the front as you stitch.

This message is getting a bit long so tomorrow I'll post about actually using these two new threads as I began stitching the plaid area.

Janet Perry has written a review of these new holographic threads.  Here's the link so you can read what she says about them.’s-holographic-threads-–-product-review/

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Clark Gable Finished

I finished the second full quilt block yesterday.  Isn't Clark handsome?  The charcoal to black shading in the kite-shaped areas bothers me a bit and I'm still considering adding either black or copper beads to the square, but Pat's idea of waiting until Vivian Leigh is stitched and the whole row done to decide whether to add beads and what color is a very good one.

I also finished the sashing borders around the first two blocks.  My plan is to stitch the sashing margins around each as the block is done so that I am not resting my hand or arm on finished stitching as I work.  I also plan to work the outside borders later for the same reason.

The photo above is upside down.   Stars can be hung with the first row on top or bottom, as one chooses. You could even hang it with the right or left side as the top but I suspect most of us will choose to hang it vertically.  When Stars is framed, I plan to have it done so that either end could be hung as the top so I can change the view occasionally.

Now I am going to switch to my painted canvas project.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Clark Isn't Surrounded--Yet

I was up late last night finishing the last step of Clark Gable.  The corners which you see in two shades of terracotta (the lighter is C3, Trebizond silk perle and the darker is C1, my Alyce Schroth silk perle) were easy but I still had to finish adding the copper metallic to the 8 little scalene triangles in the previous steps.  That was done with a doubled strand of Lume.  You can barely see the copper in the photo above but in real life it adds a lot.

Both the Trebizond and Alyce Schroth threads are silk perles, but Trebizond is thicker. I was worried that one strand of the Alyce Schroth wouldn't cover the area but the darker color seems to blend with the canvas color and it looks fine.  It isn't obvious that Alyce Schroth is a lot skinner than Trebizond, either.

I'm debating whether to put black beads on top of the black bagello shaded area that is shaped like a kite.  I'll think about that for a bit while I surround Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable with the black sashing borders I didn't finish earlier.  Maybe I'll add beads there and maybe I won't.  There's no reason that each block has to have beads.  I might use copper beads instead of black if I have any.  This block doesn't have much of the D color (copper for me) in it so copper beads might be a nice touch.

The next star block is called Vivian Leigh.  It is the last block on the right in the top row.   I won't start Vivian right away, however.    I plan to finish the sashing today if I can and then put down this piece for a little while to stitch the Leigh Stuart Dynasty ornament.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Clark in the Dark

The Clark Gable quilt block star is coming right along.  In the photo above I have done three of the four steps to surround the black motifs with layered latticework patterns topped by crosses and then by another latticework pattern.  I had to stop before the last step as the power went out last night and was out until just before bedtime.  Although I had two glass kerosene lamps burning and also the propane lantern, it was simply too dark to finish, especially since it was raining.

Even though there are 8 sections to do, this stitch went pretty quickly despite the compensation. I did find it was easy to miss an area in the third layer, but that might have been because the light was fading.  The bottom layer is A4 (violet Impressions), the second layer is C1 (terracotta Alyce Schroth silk perle), the third is the black crosses using one ply of Splendor silk which is B1, and the last layer will be D1, a doubled strand of copper metallic Lume.

I read this article about the devices our ancestors used to stitch at night yesterday morning.  After my experience last night, I thought you guys might find it very interesting!

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stars: Doesn't Look Like Much

...but doing the four corners of pattern couching in the Clark Gable block took me almost six hours!  It would have taken less time if I wasn't constantly interrupted as I stitch, if I'd realized that I was using the wrong base thread on the second quadrant before I had four rows in, and if I could count correctly the first time, but it is done and it looks very nice.  You can see the shading of the charcoal to black threads in the kite shaped area from the previous step in this photo well, also.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shop News

There's been a lot of shop news going on while I was looking the other way.  First of all, M's Canvashouse has expanded.  They have a new shop in Louisville, Kentucky which expands their presence in Lexington, Kentucky.  The owner, Meredith Barnhill Willet, is well known as the co-author of Knots, Fur and Turkeywork, the owner of Elizabeth Turner Designs, and for the superb finishing her shops do for the stitcher who needs canvaswork shoes, purses or other items. If you live in Kentucky, you'll want to visit either shop when you can.  If you are not local, you can see a bit about both shops in the videos posted on their website.

The Needle Works' new shop in Austin, Texas is going up fast.  Construction of their new and larger store is moving along quickly to meet the July opening date.  You can see photso of the vaguely Craftsman style building on the shop blog.  Click on New Store in the Categoruies list on the left side of the page to read more about the interior.

I don't know about you, but I find this expansion news heartening during this bleak economy with so many out of work.

By the way, this isn't shop news but Martha Stewart has a new book out on crafts, especially sewing.  DMC went to the book launch and reports on their blog about the shindig with plenty of pictures.

If you aren't familiar with Martha Stewart, check out her website.  The recipe and project database (which I worked on at my former job) is fabulous to browse.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's Next--Introducing the Stuart Ornament

I was too tired last night to even think about counting out the three sections of pattern couching I need to finish on Stars last night, so I picked up my next painted canvas design (mounted on stretcher bars last week) and started doing some tent stitches on it.  I can do tent stitches even when I am half asleep and I did want to stitch--I just didn't want to have to rip out what I stitched the next day!  More about that later.  I know you are asking, what new painted canvas?!

My next project is a Leigh Designs piece from her Dynasty Ornament series. It's one of the new British Dynasty series, just released at the February trade show.  Leigh sent it to me free to stitch.  It'll go back to her to use as a model at the trade shows and I will eventually write and sell a stitch guide for this ornament.  More about that later.  The entire new series of eight ornaments based on British kings and royal families can be seen in the next link.  My ornament is the Stuart Ornament, first on this page on the Leigh website.

All of the British Dynasty ornaments are painted on 18 count pink "blush" canvas and all are approximately 4 inches in diameter.  Each comes with a little metal loop to attach at the top so they may be finished as an ornament.  (My loop is seen attached to the canvas in the photo above.) They join the other sets of Dynasty ornaments all of which are linked to from this page.  Look under Christmas and then choose whichever country's Dynasty ornaments interest you.  Some of Blog's long time readers will remember the Chinese dragon ornament I did for Leigh last year.

Leigh choose the ornament for me since when we discussed this, they were still being created, so I didn't know which ornament I would receive or what the others looked like at that point.  I think I got lucky--the Stuart Plaid Lion is my favorite of all the ornaments although the Plantagenet ornament is sitting there, whispering "stitch me in goldwork" every time I look at it.  LOL

This is the back side of the Stuart Plaid Lion canvas.  I'm showing it to you because Leigh mentioned in passing that one can always tell a painted canvas by looking on the back side.  Hand painted canvases show blobby paint on the back where it bleeds through.  A printed or silk screened canvas does not.  I thought anyone who was unsure about a canvas they were thinking about buying might like to know this.  Many of the printed canvases today are hard to tell from hand painted ones if they are well done unless you take a very careful look.  This isn't going to help anyone buying online, but it is a good tip for the shopper in a real stitching shop, particularly a beginner who won't necessarily know that such-and-such a designer never sells anything except stitch painted or silk screened or hand painted canvases.

I plain to work on this piece once the Clark Gable block on Stars is finished.  Until then, you might like to read a bit more about the Stuart kings, who include indirectly the ill-fated patroness of needlepoint Mary, Queen of Scots.

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