Friday, November 26, 2010

Washington D. C. Metro Map, Part Three

Our conversation with Barbara about her metro map canvas continues....

Have you thought about how you want to finish it? Not a clue but I will probably frame it – I have a room I call my library full of books and maps!

Gosh, that sounds delightful!  Framing also means we don't have to worry about the wear and tear a pillow or a box top might get either.

I think Jessicas and beads for the subway stops is a great idea. Did you have a stitch in mind for the Gloriana petite perle lines?
I had thought about couching parallel lines for the subway lines but I am not sure I like the idea. I wanted something that would convey they idea that they are lines if you know what I mean. Maybe rows of outline stitch or diagonal satin stitch for the red or orange lines? By the way when I got home and looked it turned out that I got Gloriana Luniescence (sp?) not Petite Perle and it is very fine so I am not sure if I will be able to use it after all – not sure what I was thinking when I bought it!

Packed stem stitch might work for the subway lines.  Depending on how wide the lines are you could also do satin stitch that has a \ slant in the top half of the area and then the / slant below so that it looks like directional arrows pointing in various directions.  You will have to have an even number of threads for this to work, however.  The two halves have to be of equal size.  But if the canvas is painted that way, it would very good to have the "arrow" pointing to the left for the red lines and to the right for the orange (or vice versa).  Satin stitches laid carefully look really beautiful, too.  They will catch the light and reflect it.

When I looked at the piece I got a sort of Wizard of Oz fantasy feel, Barbara, like this is not just a map of a real place but a guide to magical destinations. I get fanciful sometimes!
I like this idea but I have now idea how to go about implementing something like this – I am a very down to earth, practical type.

I think you have plenty of imagination, Barbara.  You just need someone to talk this over with.

Following through on the fantasy land idea, I noticed that there are two landmarks - the Capital and the Washington Monument - plus the compass in the right lower corner. If it were me, I'd try to make those areas very glitzy (as well as the letters of Washington, D.C. in the left border) by using beads, metallics, goldwork, etc. Then I'd do the black background in tent stitches using my favorite silk or silk/wool blend. It is not easy to make fancy stitches show up on black using black threads and I suppose the background really is just a sort of black velvet to show off the subway lines and the decorative elements, anyway.

Again – I agree with all of this in principle but have little idea about how to go about it. My current favorite for tent stitch on 18 count is Vinyard Silk. I don’t know if there is a Shimmer in black but that might give the background a bit of sparkle which might be a nice effect – or would it not really show up?

You are right.  I know Vineyard Silk Shimmer has a black thread with black metallic in it.  That would look very nice I think, especially in artificial light at night. 

I think I'd use various small textured stitches for some of the subway lines and perhaps toss in some metallic here and there. I'm thinking stitches like Nobuku, Dotted Swiss, Double Cross, etc. You are going to have to be careful where you put texture and metallics on the lines. Some of them seem to be in the background and others in the foreground, probably because of the color choices. I am not that familiar with D.C. subway lines. Are the green lines part of the Green Line, so to speak?

There are two shades of green – a lighter green which goes from the compass rose to the capital. That is one of the subway lines. The other green is not part of the subway system and is meant to represent the National Park portion of the city (Arlington Cemetery, the Mall, Capital, Rock Creek Park, etc). Same with the blue. The more Williamsburg blue which goes from the bottom near the monument to the left edge is the subway line and the lighter blue represents the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

I think it makes sense for the greens in the park area and the blues in the river areas to be a different stitch, one to evoke woods and the other to evoke water. Do you have any favorite stitches for these things?  I know we mentioned French knots for the woods but I think that might be too much.  There is a lot of pattern on this piece.  A simple cashmere stitch or a Scotch stitch depending on the width of the park areas at their narrowest might work.  There are quite a few diagonal stitches that are based on cashmere/Scotch stitches that could give the river areas movement.  Using a similar stitch for the water and woods helps relate them to each other and make them different than the subway lines.

I'm thinking you might want to solidly bead the black Capital silhouette, purple outline and all, and then fill in the gold background with some sort of fancy stitch, perhaps one that is more or less oval or perhaps cross-cross Hungarian, but putting touches of gold metallic in the stitch, whichever you choose.

I have never done solid beading on 18 count – I assume that means a bead at every intersection? Or I could do as (I think it is Judy Harper?) suggests and bead every other intersection and stitch every other – I am not sure how I feel about the very crowded look over beading every intersection. I really like the idea of criss-cross Hungarian with touches of gold metallic in the background.

We have our first stitch--criss-cross Hungarian in the background of the Capitol silhouette!  If completely covering the silhouette doesn't appeal to you, you could do skip tent in black Vineyards silk (probably plain instead of the Shimmer) and then fill in beads in the skipped areas.  Then couch a pretty purple perle or perhaps metallic over the purple outline.  I think the purple outline needs to be raised a bit to not look sunken next to the criss-cross Hungarian background and the slightly beaded silhouette, so things like tent stitches aren't appropriate for the purple outline.  Actually, you probably could fill in the black silhouette with more criss-cross Hungarian using the black Vineyards Shimmer from the background.  It would take a lot of compensating, not everyone's cup of tea.  If you go this route, use a different metallic for the second part of the stitch, or use purple beads to tie the silhouette to the purple outline around it.

I'm thinking goldwork for the compass I am not sure what you mean by this – are you talking metal threads? Or kreinik metallics? perhaps just the center padded to stand up to the Capital in greens and golds.

I was thinking either.  The photo isn't big enough for me to see exactly how much space you have in the compass.  A padded center covered with either Kreinik or real gold threads with couched Kreinik for the spikes that rotate from the center would be lovely.  The threads you choose will probably depend on getting a gold and a green that will work in the same thread line (I'd stick to the same brand if possible) means this will probably be done in Kreinik as they have so many color and size choices.  I know they have some lovely greens, too.  

Then we'll have to do something equally spectacular with the Washington--Monument. I see the spire and the lettering as similar. Whatever you do with one, you'll need to do with the other.
Beading would work but a lovely Burden stitch with the right flashy threads might look lovely on the spire with the same threads used in the lettering.

Aren’t the letters awfully thin to be doing burden stitch?

Yes, they are.  I didn't mean to use burden stitch on the letters, just to use the same threads on the letters on the left as in the Washington monument.  I suspect the letters will have to be in either tent stitches or diagonal satin stitches.

We have lots of thinking to do on this one but this is a start. I do think you will need tent stitches in the black background and possibly behind the letters on the left border. Probably the red, darker blue and orange lines will need tent stitches, too, as there are all those little boxes on top of them.

(each of those little boxes is a subway stop where I was thinking of a Jessica – the larger boxes are stops where the more than one line meets – larger jessicas?)

I think two sizes of Jessicas would look great!  What color are all those subway stops?  Silver?  Kreinik Jessicas are beautiful.

any thoughts about the bands along the top and bottom - I had thought about herringbone, diagonal satin...?

I think diagonal satin stitches would be very pretty.  I think herringbone might be too hard to compensate behind the letters myself and it also might be too complicated looking.  This is a very busy piece with a lot of areas.  Using too many stitches will make it even busier.  We already are talking tent stitches, criss-cross Hungarian, Jessicas, and perhaps forest and river stitches, too.  Plus couching and padding.  If it were me, I'd look for calm and simple stitches like satin stitch and tent stitches for the borders.

Sorry I did not get this back to you last night – got busy and was unable to get it taken care of before time to head off to the [guild] meeting. I did bring the canvas with me but did not get many helpful suggestions. Mostly they critiqued the canvas (many of them are from DC so they know the area and subway system – I got comments like the fact that the map is out of date since they have finished the subway and there are now more stops! They also felt that they did not like the capital being black and felt it should be white or grey like the Washigton Monument. If I changed the color of the capital I would have to change the color of the sky behind it (they though maybe a midnight blue with silver for stars)….. Don’t know how I feel about all of that.

Personally, I like the dramatic black silhouette of the Capitol as is.  You are right, if you change the color there you'll have to change the sky behind it.  Better to leave all that alone, I say!

I did get a few suggestions though. One thing I mentioned was that I had thought about keeping the subway lines relatively smooth and making the water and park areas have more texture to differentiate them. French knots were suggested for the park areas. 

Personally I think French knots would be too busy.  But this is something you can wait to decide on after you have other parts of the design stitched.  It will make it easier to toss in a few French knots (perhaps scattered a random over tent stitches) once other areas are stitched to know whether French knots are Too Much.  At worse, you'll have to rip an inch of them out later and use another stitch.

Another suggestion was needleweaving for the points of the compass rose to give them a raised texture. This would not give them the two color look but could give them a nice raised shape – maybe - if I could do them well. 

I'd stick to couching or packed stem stitch myself.  Easier!

They also disagreed about the background having to be all basket weave. They thought there was a lot of background and maybe something like skip tent or alicias lace could work so that I did not have cover the whole thing. - possibly with a metallic to give a glitz if there was not already too much glitz elsewhere. Someone at the meeting had Planet Earth Opal in black for a project she was working on and it had silver highlights and I thought that might look like city lights shimmering and someone else agreed so I might give that a try as well.

I happen to love Planet Earth's Opal thread.  It would make a lovely background and if it has silver woven in (we talked about using Vineyards Silk Shimmer which I know is black metallic and black thread) that would look like twinkling city lights.  If the Jessicas are silver, that relates the background to them.  And if you use silver beads in the criss-cross Hungarian for the Capitol, it relates even more.)  I personally don't like skip tent and avoid using it when possible but this is your choice.  I like the idea of a velvety black background all tent stitched for all the patterns and colors to rest on myself.  

I am really thrilled to be doing this – maybe now I will finally get this piece stitched - Thanks for choosing my canvas. I look forward to finding out what you and others suggest.

I am very glad you volunteered, Barbara!  Why don't you sit down with your canvas and write up all the things you are sure about and then a list of all the things you are not decided on?  Once you get some stitching done from the To Do list, the Undecided areas will become clearer to you.

Tomorrow I plan to move to the second canvas we are discussing while Barbara thinks all this over.  If she comes back with more questions and comments, I'll post them here later.  I know the holidays are about to make everyone's time much shorter so Barbara may not get back to us right away.

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

Decorating for the Holidays

This year I'm only doing a little decorating for Christmas and it is here on Blog instead of in my home.  Hope you like the new header photo and background color.  Not everyone is like me and not decorating, though.  Ruth Schmuff's new mystery class is working away on whichever of the two holiday canvases they picked to work on.  I think Ruth's idea for the striped background is fabulous!

Ruth's shop is very cheering and decorated with all sorts of goodies.  She just posted about a Wendy Harwood class held there and I thought you'd like to see the canvas Wendy taught and the happy faces of all the folks who attended.

If you would like to use your decorative impulses to make a great one-of-a-kind needle magnet for yourself, Mary Corbet has a tutorial.  The donut shaped magnet she used is probably a rare earth magnet.  If you Google that term you will find them online.  A word to the wise--they are very strong.  A 1/4 inch round donut set is about as strong as you will need.  Anything bigger will be very difficult to pull apart.

In other news, June McKnight will release a new book in January.  It's full of Halloween stitches.  I hadn't seen any of June's books until a friend gave me some of her stitching books and I've been very impressed.  Anyone who does a lot of Halloween stitching will find this book useful and fun judging by June's older books which I have been reading lately.  There's a photo of the cover and a slide show of some of the stitch diagrams (I think those are from her overdyed thread stitches and bargello books) she uses on her website.

Finally, The Needlehouse has posted their winter newsletter on their website.  It has a review of one of Julia K. H. Snyder's books and a stitch diagram from it of a heart-shaped Sprat's Head.  They also announce their newest monthly club, snowmen!  You can see photos of the club canvases and find the link to the Winter 2011 newsletter on their home page.

Now I need to get busy and work a bit on ideas for Barbara's subway canvas!

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