Monday, February 28, 2011

In Memoriam: Judy Harper

These folks all say what I feel about Judy Harper way better than I ever could.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

New Stitch Guide Information

I have so much going on in my life I forgot to mention I've updated the Chilly Hollow Stitch Guide blog with two new articles.

The Feb. 27, 2011 article links to an article Robin King wrote about how she creates her stitch guides.  The Feb. 22 article is about the stitch guide information Janet Perry is providing Cyberpointers at their March meeting.  Just follow the above link to read more.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Off to Class and the Flower Show UPDATED

I am turning green this morning and it's not because spring might be about to arrive in Chilly Hollow!  I'm jealous of all the fun things that other stitchers are doing.  Vicky is taking a class from Brenda Hart.

Peggi is taking a class from Tony Minieri.

UPDATE:  Since I wrote this post yesterday, Peggi has posted again about the Tony Minieri class she's in.  I am even more jealous, if that were possible.

Rittenhouse is getting ready for the Philadelphia Flower Show by spotlighting floral canvases in their shop.  The neat thing about their little article is that they sort canvases into difficulty levels to help stitchers pick just the right piece.

At least if we can't be there, we can participate virtually.  Thanks for the reports, everyone.  We may be jealous but at least we got a taste of all the fun.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Sunday, February 27, 2011

By the Way...

...the Stitching/Destashing Blog has added a bunch of new things for sale.  Read the header of the blog for information on how to buy.  And move fast--there are good deals here and folks are starting to realize it.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Settling in With Morning Eye Candy

Janet Perry alerted me to a new design by Debbie Rowley (DebBee's Designs) called Eight Pansy Portraits.  It's a charted study of eight different flowers in different shades.  You can see good photos in the second link and read about the chart booklet in Janet's review.,-canvaswork,-Debbie/Detail.bok

Speaking of eye candy, you will want to see Vicky De Angelis' interpretation of the SharonG canvas called Cat Walk.  The framing is spectacular to match Vicky's stunning stitching.

I haven't been idle.  I've finished Luna's hair except for her bangs and the hood of her cloak and it's fur trim is done.  I am doing the easy stitching instead of the harder cloak lining as this has been a busy week with not much energy for stitching at night.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Down Memory Lane

I've been revisiting Judy Harper's Possibilities blog, thinking of Judy and enjoying her art and creativity.  And I found one last gift from Judy--a new shop blog to follow.

Thank you, Judy.  Get better fast.  I really need that Frida Angel I've been begging you for....

By the way, here's another fun blog.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

The Needlebook, the Geisha, and the Queen

Remember how excited I got when I saw Susan's new needlebook?

The only thing missing from Susan's article (besides her saying she would sending the needle book to Chilly Hollow) was a tutorial on making them.  Thanks to DMC's blog, I have a link to instructions!  This needlebook is also Asian in feel as it uses a free XS portrait of a charming geisha for the cover.  Here's the how to.

Here's the direct link to the geisha pattern, which is called "J is for Japanese Embroidery."

Speaking of Susan, she is starting a new series of blog articles about a Queen.  Want to see some of the new William Loves Kate/William Marries Kate samplers?

Here is Susan's Majesty.  She's inspired by crazy quilting but a needlepointer could create their own Queen very easily.  Needleworkers have the skills to move between needle arts if they are brave enough to try something new.

Now here is where we start to see Susan building her Queen.

And here she explains quite a bit about English coronation gowns and how Queen Elizabeth II's gown is replicated on Your Majesty.

I know this isn't needlepoint, but it is about fantasy and aren't we all stitching a fantasy of some sort as we work?   Right now I'm dreaming of a slinky vampire walking through a graveyard but soon it'll be another geisha....

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Gold Fish and More

Mary Lake Thompson's Gold Fish
In non-Luna stitching news, Carol writes she's found four more skeins of the dark teal Empress Silk at Edwardian Needle.  She is still a little worried she won't have enough silk for the background, but the folks at Edwardian Needle suggested that she alternate her Swirl stitch row done in Empress Silk with two rows of tent stitch in her Cire nylon floss instead of one row. Clever idea, don't you think?  Personally I think she'll have enough thread but then I probably would only use four plies to cover the background.

Carol has decided she'd like to use all Cire on her fish as the nylon threads look wet to her.  She's pulled some colors to choose from (above).  She has also found two sizes of topaz colored crystal sequins to use for the dots on the fish fins.  So things are moving right along.  I need to get busy and turn up some stitches for Carol to use on her fish to help her choose colors.  A thread may look totally different when stitched than it does in the skein.  Hopefully I can get to that this weekend.

While we all weren't looking, Joey had a birthday.  Wait'll see what she did to celebrate!  Next time, invite us too, ok?

Speaking of Texas, fans of monthly clubs will enjoy a peek at some of the clubs and a canvas with threads and stitch guide that Needle Works in Austin is stitching.

After the 2001 ANG Seminar, a lot of people were interested in finding this Clarice painted canvas which was exhibited there.

Nimble Needle has it!

The Nashville trade show over the weekend is one of the big cross stitch venues for shops to pick up goodies.  Want to see what Sara Leigh bought for us?  Scarlet Thread specializes in kitting up counted canvaswork projects so you can see both the chart cover and the colors used to stitch the model.  (Hint: if you liked Needle Delight's Rainforest Crunch, you'll want to click on this link.)

New books are starting to show up in the shops (I have friends who just got their copies of SharonG's Simply Essential Needlepoint Stitch Explanations.  I hate them.)  Here's another review of June McKnight's Spooky Stitches.  By the way, SharonG is saying her second book will be about landscape stitches.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Odds and Ends and Bangs

Last night I worked on Luna's hair and started the cloak trim. Although the purple Empress wool from Pure Palette I have is too heavy for the cloak lining, it makes beautiful tiny French knots as you see in the photos.

You probably won't see Luna again until I finish the cloak trim, lining and her hair.  I need to cut down on the number of redundant photos I post here, so we'll talk about other things until I am able to show you these items finished.  

Speaking of other things, Judy Harper continues very ill.  Apparently her family has turned off any eBook purchases on her Elegant Whimsies website but the website and her two blogs are still there for now.  It distresses me to know Judy is seriously ill since we carried on a lively correspondence and a running debate over just how much embellishment is too much on a canvas.  Judy always argued for restraint although she was a big believer in beading a canvas using the "use skip tent stitch then fill in the empty holes with beads" approach.  Here's Judy's Blogger profile which says what Judy is in just two sentences.  Keep those good wishes coming!

If you are curious about the tiny colored sequins that Needlepoint Tool Time has in stock, Tisha has posted a bit more information about them as well as listing shops that stock them.

ABS Designs has posted all of the Nutcracker Ballet ornament series that Anne blog stitched here so we can see the set together.

Rittenhouse has posted an interesting article about NP portraits on their website.  It's a good read with plenty of eye candy illustrations.

If animal portraits are more your style, check out the dog and wolf examples from Barbara Russell at Nimble Needle's blog. (Feb. 22 and 23, 2011 if you are late to the party.)

Are you a NP book collector?  If so, you'll want to take a peek at the books PFOS profiles on their blog.  Many are Julia Snyder's but not all.

Finally, these are for bargain hunters.  Ruth Schmuff has a Groupon (Groupon is a group coupon) deal going. 

Amy Bunger is doing a sale of the week for each Friday-Sunday.  Keep an eye out tomorrow to see the limited sale items for this weekend.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at


Over the weekend I went through my Blog photo albums and deleted a bunch of photos.  Blog has a limit of how many photos I can upload and I am at 52% right now.  I took down all the Canvas of the Day photos I could find, plus I removed photos from articles that I thought I could do without.  If you are reading old Blog articles and find a photo missing, that's why.  I just can't keep everything.

If you blog using Blogger, you may want to log into your Picasa web albums also and see if you need to delete photos.  I've found that partial uploads and duplicate photos are common and these stay in your photo album until you manually delete them one by one.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fixing Luna's Hair

Luna Unstitched
Today's Blog posting starts off with a photograph of my Ladies of the Night canvas untouched because I want you to see how her hair was painted before you see how I stitched it.

I'd planned to stitch her cloak lining next but realized I had better figure out if the lining stitch played nice with her hair and I got carried away last night.    This is her head.  I'm not finished yet but I needed to get both sides of her hair stitched before I did the bangs.  Look at the unstitched gray area in this photo and then at the full photo at the top of this article.  I've skipped the gray shading in this close up head shot.

Here you see black and gray areas stitched except for that gray spot at her neck.  I'm using two threads--a black silk/wool blend and a silk/metallic blend.  The color is way off on this photograph so you can see as much of the texture change in her hair as possible.  In person it is quite visible, even under night lights, but the camera doesn't pick up the sheen of silk or the sparkle of metallics well.

I don't always necessarily follow the painted areas when I stitch a painted canvas.  I wanted to use a stitch that didn't follow the gentle curves of the gray waves so I had to adjust where the highlighted areas (i.e., the gray) fell so my stitches would fit.

Here is the bottom of the canvas showing how the hair and the cloak lining stitches work together.  Another unstitched gray area is at the top of this photo just under her hand.

I'll finish the hair tonight before I work further on the cloak lining stitches.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Upside Down or Right Side Up?

Lillian Chermor Gold Fish with Seaweed
I've just gotten a second comment about Carol's Gold Fish canvas being photographed upside down.  And it finally clicked!  (Ok, I am somewhat slow.  I admit that.)  Some folks like the fish turned so that the dangling seaweed (above) becomes weeds growing from the sandy bottom (below).

Lillian Chermor Gold Fish with Water Plants
What do you think?  Should Carol frame this so that she can hang the canvas either way?  How would you display it?

You can see the design on the Needlepoint Originals by Lillian Chermor website by clicking on Collections (left side) and then choosing "Flora and Fauna and Friends."

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not a Good Morning

It is not a good morning.  I learned late last night that Judy Harper is very ill.  Please send good thoughts out to her and her family.

About the same time there was a bad earthquake in New Zealand centered on Christchurch.  I have a friend south of there and I do hope Anne, her family and her friends are well.  Send more good thoughts, ok?  Illness and natural disasters are, well, natural but that doesn't make them fun when they happen to your friends.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

While I Futz With Luna's Hair

While I test stitch hair stitches to see which plays nice with Luna's cloak lining stitches, here are some things of interest for Blog readers.

First up, here's a review of Sandy Higgins' finishing book, which has been in print for many years because it is a classic.  If you are interesting in finishing your own needlepoint, you'll want to consider buying a copy.

Needlepoint Tool Time has the new small colorful sequins in stock.  Tisha had a little accident when taking a photo of some of the available colors. I had to laugh at Robin's comment that Tisha has created the Assortment Color Pack by dropping the camera!

Are you curious about how to use sequins in NP?  Check out what Denise did with a lovely Raymond Crawford ornament.

Finally, if you just want a little eye candy to enjoy with your morning cuppa, Stitch By Stitch has a lovely gallery of finished pieces to enjoy.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

The Turkey Question: How Do Stitches Meet?

Mary Lake Thompson/Melissa Shirley Turkey Canvas
Nancy sent me a note last week about her turkey canvas.  She'd run into an unexpected problem and wanted some ideas about how to overcome it.  Take a look at the background stitch in the photo above.

Now think about stitching that background around the turkey's head.  Nancy's calls this the "Who owns the line?" problem after what Amy Bunger says on this very same issue at Peggi's Needlepoint Study Hall blog.  Amy is talking about her Home Study Halloween House canvas but this issue is apt to turn up on any canvas.  Just how do you compensate two very different stitches when they meet?

Let me quote from the discussion Nancy and I had so you can benefit from what we worked out.

Nancy:  Hi, Jane. I'm stitching away on the background on the left side of the turkey. I'm coming up on stitching around the head and wattle and have a question about a perennial needlepoint issue: merging a vertical stitch to a diagonal stitch.

I know from Needlepoint Study Hall a good question to ask is, "Who owns the line?" I'm sure the answer in each case around Tom Turkey is "Tom Turkey." I didn't think it was such a deal as I worked around the tail. But as I get close to the wattle and head I'm not sure about where to draw the line. I don't want to distract from the turkey by putting too much background against it, but I don't think I want any canvas showing either. And that wattle is so very narrow that it could easily get lost.

Here's my thought: what about stitching a single row of tent stitches around the turkey head in the background thread? That would mean the vertical background stitches would overlap the tent stitches, not the turkey. I'm not sure I've seen this option suggested anywhere. Is it a possibility? Have you seen such a solution? 

Jane: I've been thinking about this all day since I found your note in my email box this morning. I've run into this occasionally and have done one of two things--either laid a row of stitches (couched or backstitched or stem stitched, depending on the breadth of the line I needed) on top of the line where the background and the foreground meet or I have used tent stitches as you describe.

I think you are going to have to do more test stitching before what will work but I personally would put tent stitches in the area between the waddle and the neck using the background thread. If you have a metallic line running through that area, just do tent stitches with both threads.

You may find you need to put in a few backwards tent stitches as well as regular tent stitches, depending on the shapes and how they meet. I would work the background up to the waddle, take a good look, and then pull out any stitches you need until it looks good to you, then fill in the empty spaces with tent stitches. If it looks right to you, it is. 

This is one of those questions that we all have to tackle in our own way but you are certainly on the right track thinking that outlining with tent stitches will help. I think you'll find you want more than one row but again, it all depends on how things look to you as you get your background close to the turkey's head. With so many stitches and threads available to us needlepointers, it is hard to have hard and fast rules beyond SharonG's "If it looks right, it is." That one I stick to religiously!

Nancy:  Thanks so much, Jane. I knew that once again you'd be helpful! I hadn't thought about backstitches, but I can see that they could also be useful in solving this issue. I'll tackle the background/image boundary with renewed confidence now! 

While thinking about the background, I've been putting in the pale yellow breast with more silk, but haven't got too far yet. 

Jane: Glad to help out, Nancy, even if it is just to say that you are going to have to experiment to see how to keep the little waddle from disappearing into the background. I think the contrast in colors will help you but an outline, tent stitches, or both are probably the answer.

Nancy wrote later: I finished the background yesterday. It went fine around the wattle and head. The only trouble I had was figuring out the stitch pattern where there was just a small area. I finally figured it out yesterday and will restitch a small area at the top where I goofed. Now it's on to the feathers! 

Thanks for this very interesting question, Nancy.  I'm sure Blog readers will have other tips for handling the meeting of two very different stitches.  I hope they post them here in the Comments or email me at chilly hollowat hotmail dotcom so I can post for them.

By the way, anyone interested in compensation should take a good look at Tony Minieri's four part article on this topic.  This has been republished online on the ANG website.  He breaks stitches down into four types and discusses in depth how to compensate each type of stitch.  This doesn't directly address how to handle the area where two different types of stitches meet but it is an essential resource for the serious needlepointer.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unavoidable Delay

I had planned to test hair stitches on Sunday so I'd know that what I wanted to use there would work with the cloak lining stitches before I spent too much more time stitching the lining.  It would be a shame to finish the lining and then discover the hair stitches didn't look good with them.  Since I already know as many swear words as I need to, it's best to test everything in this area before committing to anything.  Besides, I don't like ripping out!

Unfortunately, the power was out for three hours on Sunday and all my stitching plans went out the window as it was a very overcast day.  By the time the power came back on, I was worn out from running up and down the stairs to tend to the wood fire (no electricity equals no heat) and by keeping a close eye on the kerosene and propane lamps so that Watson the Rambunctious and Curious Puppy didn't knock them over and start a fire.

But Mother Nature, after having knocked down trees and power lines with high winds over the weekend, is planning stitch time for tomorrow since she will dump 4-6 inches of snow in Chilly Hollow overnight.  So today I'll run around and prepare by restocking the bottled water we used yesterday (puppies drink a LOT of water!) and getting sunflower seed.  I'm running low and dare not run out.  I've seen Hitchcock's The Birds....

Today I recover from one weather event and prepare for the next weather event.  Tomorrow I stitch!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Carol's Fish Gets Fancier

Carol's Gold Fish canvas

While Carol hunted for more of the dark teal in either the discontinued Empress silk or another thread, I’ve held off posting our discussion.  She needed some time to think, after all.  But we are ready to take another stab at working out a plan for her Lillian Chermor Gold Fish canvas.
Carol wrote:
An update for you on the water thread. I've had no luck tracking down additional skeins of the Empress silk. However, I did find another thread in my stash, Baroque Silk from The Pure Palette, that is almost the same color. It's between the #29 and the #30 in the Empress. The texture is a little different, but I probably could live with that.
Hurrah!  I think the color is the most important thing.  Just make sure the amount of Baroque Silk matches the amount of the Cire in your rows of background so that they look equal.  You can ply the Baroque Silk if you wish.
I need some time to think about your ideas here. They are somewhat different from what I was starting to develop in my mind--not really the stitches, but the ideas about threads. I was leaning in the direction of using more of my Brazilian embroidery threads because I love the sheen they create, which seems to be more realistic interpretation of the fish--even though he's not a very realistic fish.
Remember, my ideas are just ideas.  They are things that I would try if I were stitching this canvas but you are not me.  You will have your own ideas.  I'm here to get you thinking about what your vision for this design is and get you moving to achieve it, not tell you what to stitch.  This isn't a stitch guide roadmap after all!
There's no reason you can't use more Brazilian embroidery threads. I'd prefer to spend all day at the dentist myself as they misbehave terribly for me, but this is you stitching, not me.
My other thought was the Vineyard silk with the metallic in it. Maybe that's similar to the Lame braid.
I thought a touch of metallic would look nice on the fish, hence the Silk Lame Braid.  It is very similar to Vineyard Silks Shimmer, but Silk Lame Braid is just a little more tender a thread and a little shinier.  There's no reason you can't use some Vineyard Silks, some Brazilian threads or other threads you happen to have in the right colors.  Maybe you should rummage around in your stash and see what you have before we pick stitches. However, I'm thinking small scale stitches, perhaps some that we can use beads among....
Carol continues:
I'm still thinking about the hot fix crystals. If there is an option for sewing, I think I would rather do that, as it would not require me to buy something I'm not likely to use again. I would really like to find something with a flat back that would allow me to sew it on that would have the same glitter as a crystal. I guess I'll be checking Fire Mountain again...
Good idea.  You may find just the right thing at the Fire Mountain online store.  There are crystal buttons available at some fabric stores, too.  I think I might look for Swarkovski crystals with flat backs without heat activated glue on the flat side.  You could use regular fabric glue for those since you are thinking you will frame this.  They seem to come in a variety of sizes so you might be able to get exactly the right size to cover the fish fin dots.  
We also haven't talked about the bubbles.  Personally I think you might want to get some of the new Kreinik holographic threads in size 16 or higher and couch some of the light blue and some of the purple in a circle, starting in the center and spiraling out, then finishing with a couched circle of black holographic thread.  That will really stand out against the background.

We did talk a little about the bubbles...the discussion at the time was shisha mirrors, covered in tulle. I still like the idea. Maybe skip the tulle and use the holographic thread to sew them on. I also like the idea of the spiral thing, but I would probably not do couching; I would probably use a stem stitch or something similar to give it a little more dimension. I have a picture in my head, but I'm not sure how to describe it.
Then experiment with your ideas until you are able to mimic what you see in your mind’s eye.  Tulle comes in a lot of colors so you’d be able to add a tinge of blue or purple to the shisha mirrors that way if you wish.
I know beaders attach shisha mirrors using stitches and/or beads around the perimeter of the mirror.  That will outline the bubbles which you may or may not want to do.  I found some great instructions on attaching shisha mirrors online.  I thought I’d include them here for Blog’s readers.

I do like the idea with the washer for the eye. Maybe instead of a bead, some sort of dimensional stitch (like the circular Rhodes) could go in the the hole. I'd stitch the Rhodes slightly bigger than the hole in the washer, then place the washer on top of the stitch so the highest part comes through the hole.
As for using a dimensional stitch as the pupil within a washer hole eye, you just have to find a washer with the right size overall dimension and a large enough hole.  Time for a trip to the hardware store!  
I’ve been browsing my ribbon embroidery books looking for ideas for your seaweed and ran across the term “double-sided” ribbon.  This means one of two things--either the ribbon is shiny on both sides or it has one color on one side and a second color on the other.  It occurred to me that your bi-colored seaweed might be done beautifully in double-sided, two colored silk ribbons.  This is what they look like-
Wired ribbons often come in two colors, with the main body of the ribbon one color and the wired edge a second color. By the way, I don’t know anything about this website.  It just happened to have both tulle and double sided ribbons in two colors.
A colored edge wired ribbon is another way to introduce a second color to your seaweed.  The wired ribbon probably will hold its shape a bit better over time.  I’m just guessing here but it might be better to go wired than double-sided. It all depends on the look and of course you can tack down the double-sided, two color ribbon in a matching floss to hold it in place.
Anyway, let me think about these ideas for a little bit and get back to you.
Take your time thinking this all over.  This isn't a quick process.  I know you have been busy hunting for the background thread in the right color and also collecting various items like shisha mirrors, beads, crystals, tulle, and such.  This is a complex project!  It involves lots of unusual materials as well as the more usual choices of threads, colors and stitches.  It is going to look great but it won’t be a quick stitch and our planning will take a bit of work to decide on the right materials, stitches and colors.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stitch Guides, Classes and Other Fun Things UPDATED

Those of you who think of stitch guides as just about one canvas may find Ridgewood's mention of the Brenda Hart Banner Book (which discusses stitching Rebecca Wood's series of seasonal banners) enlightening.  I may be slightly prejudiced since I write stitch guides, but I think of them as inspirational reading, not just a road map for a certain canvas.

Rittenhouse Needlepoint has posted a profile of their in-house custom canvas painter.  Many designers start out painting other folks' designs, then graduate to going out on their own but a significant minority of painted canvas designers started with custom work, catering to the customer's design to memorialize something special to them.  Jim is going this route and the photographs of his work are something special.  I particularly love his Scarlet Letter pillow but there is lots to admire here.  Kudos to Rittenhouse for showcasing his skills!  I can't wait to see what he does next.

Laura Perin's first cyberclass is over and she is starting to post photographs of her students' finished pieces.  As always, the various colors they chose make each piece totally unique.  One of the greatest charms of counted canvaswork is picking your own colors to create something that is totally unique.  It's not a custom painted design like the ones Jim does for Rittenhouse, but it's the next best thing as the stitcher is the color artist.

UPDATE:  Laura has just announced her second cyberclass, Lilac Time.  Here are the details.

Speaking of new blogs as I did yesterday, Beth at ThreadworX has started one, too.  She is heavily involved in ThreadworX's stitching publications and writes lovely stitch guides, so I have high hopes that Peppermint Street will be a fun place for stitchers to visit.

My final treat for you this morning is a close up of Carole Lake's St. Basil's Cathedral.  Any of you who were at the 2001 ANG Seminar saw the original model on display.

Carole occasionally teaches this piece, much to the delight of lucky stitchers everywhere.  Ridgewood Needlepoint has the class scheduled and have received the class materials and the model recently.  They couldn't resist taking some close up photos to showcase this wonderful piece.  Note that there are a few differences between the 2001 model and the class model.  Carole restitched this as the original design and some of the threads are no longer available.

By the way, there are two openings left in this class so if you live close to Ridgewood, NJ, act quickly!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Luna's Mysterious Cloak

Cloak Stitches
I inadvertently misled you yesterday about which of the stitches I tested I am probably going to use on Luna's cloak lining.  I posted the photo with two of the three stitches upright but one was on its side as that's the easiest way to stitch it.  And that's the stitch that looks like the best choice for Luna's cloak lining. The stitch I have been working on is the June 2009 stitch from Tony Mineiri.  It's called Henderson Variant.  In the photo above I worked a line on the diagonal which is how it is diagrammed but in yesterday's test stitching, I was working it with the diagram and canvas turned on their sides.

More Rows
Here is how Henderson Variant looks in two shades of purple.  The next step is to stitch some of the hair and see how it looks with the HV stitch.  You may notice another line of thicker thread in the upper left.  I tested Empress wool (from Pure Palette) there but it is a little too heavy a look for the cloak lining.  I may use it on the outside of the cloak, however.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Luna Mystery

Cloak Stitches?
Last night I did some test stitching, trying out threads and colors and stitches that I will use for the inside of Luna's cloak.  I'm not going to tell you which stitch I choose, I'm going to let you try and figure that out yourself.  Above are three of the four stitches I thought might work.   In the photo above I'm using various weights of Planet Earth's 6 Ply Silk.

All the stitches I tried out are Tony Minieri's from his Stitch of the Month project for 2009.  What you see above are (from left to right) June, September and July  I ran out of time before looking at March, so it isn't shown above.

Which one would you use for the cloak's lining and why?

There's a new blog on my Blog List this morning.  Vicky DeAngelis, who is a superb stitcher, has started posting about her work.  You are going to have fun watching what she does with her stitching and with her blog.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Friday, February 18, 2011

Trunk Shows, Manicures and Other Things

If you are a fan of SharonG's painted canvases, you'll want to mark your calendars as AP Needle Arts/Thistle Needleworks is having a SharonG trunk show from February 19-March 5.  Things are 20% off.  Have a nice browse here--

I've updated yesterday's posting with a photo of Luna's face and manicure since I finished stitching her fingers.  I am adding the photo here, too, in case you don't have time to go back to yesterday's posting.  I can still see the white highlight on her lip (the Frosty Rays didn't cover 100%) so I will play around with outlining the lips with a ply of matching red silk to see if that looks better.  I see a missing stitch near her left hand on the gown as well.  After those cosmetic fixes, it will be time to test drive stitches for the inner lining of her cloak.  I have several in mind and threads to use for them but it will take some audition stitching to know what will actually work.  Stay tuned.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Luna: From Fingertips to Lips UPDATED

Ladies of the Night:  Luna in Close Up
Last night was spent thinking about, stitching, ripping out, and finally restitching Luna's fingers and lips. In the photo above notice her mouth is slightly open.  It has a white highlight on her lower lip and you can see black background between the lips because her mouth is open.  (Is Luna like me in that she never stops talking?  LOL)

Her very long fingernails are the same shade of red as her lipstick, so I decided I wanted to use a shiny and slightly metallic thread for both areas.  But what stitches?  I decided the lips should be in either tent stitches or in long laid stitches and that the fingers and fingernails could be done in bullions, in wrapped long lengths of perle cotton, or in tent stitches.  Then I remembered DMC's new memory thread which is wire wrapped in floss.  Could I use it inside a length of Flair for fingernails?

Luna's Hands 
I visited my stash and pulled the right deep crimson colors in Kreinik, in Frosty Rays, and in silk and got our my little bit of red DMC memory thread.  Then I did some test stitching to see what thread/stitch combo gave me the look I wanted.

In the second photo above you see that I tent stitched Luna's hands to the base of her fingers.  The long lengths of thread are there to show you were I stopped stitching.  My original thought was to use padded fingers or bullions for fingers and fingernails but I ran into the same problem with either stitch--how do you transition from the flesh color to the red fingernails?  I decided it was impossible to do with bullions or memory thread inserted into Flair and have them look ok but I could lay down a length of perle cotton and wrap it with two colors of floss to make fingers and painted nails.

While I thought, I absentmindedly tent stitched the fingernails with my Frosty Rays to see if that color was ok and to my great surprise, the fingernails looked great!  Is it possible that the answer to a good manicure is tent stitching?

In this case, I think it is.  Look at the photos again and notice that the red and pink colors of her fingers and fingernails stand out nicely against the black tent stitched background.  That means tent stitches in those colors will also stand out.  Now look at her elaborate ring.  Using bullions for fingers might mean the ring would be overshadowed by 3-D fingers sticking up from the canvas. That would look horrible.  And how was I going to make the fingernail tips taper using wrapped cotton perle?  The base of the fingers would need a lot more wraps which might raise that area so much it looked odd.

These are all things you have to consider when stitching a painted canvas--does it look right next to the stitching you've already done or the stitching you still have to do?  I've had fabulous ideas that just weren't right for the canvas I was working on that I had to abandon.  But abandon them I did.  Otherwise I'd risk turning out a canvas that was dominated by one thing that did nothing to enhance the entire design.

After the fingers were under control, it was time to stitch those lips.  I tried my fingernail Frosty Rays in tent stitches first, covering only the red painted areas and ignoring the white lip highlight and the black background seen through the open mouth.  The Frosty Rays didn't look quite right (too metallic?) and the mouth looked odd with the black and white areas unstitched.  I didn't think they would look good stitched in black and white later, either.  So out came the lip stitches and I thought things over.  My second attempt used my Frosty Rays again except this time I pulled the metallic thread out of the center of Frosty Rays.  For those who haven't seen Frosty Rays in person, it is just Flair with a length of metallic thread down the center of this Barbie doll panty hose-looking thread.  This website has good close up photos of Frosty Rays, including the color I used "Midnight Red" #Y318, so you can see how Frosty Rays is made.

Without the metallic core thread, my Frosty Rays was a little less metallic but still had a bit of shine so it looked like lipstick.  I stitched the entire mouth area in red tent stitches, whether it was painted red, black or white.   This looked much better!

With all this ripping out, I ran out of time and didn't get Luna's fingers below her fingernails all tent stitched, so there is no photo of the finished area yet.  I'll stitch her fingers later today, take a photo, then update this article so you can see the finished look.  I may or may not put the white highlight or the black line back on top of the red mouth stitches, but that's a decision for today in the sunlight when I can see whether they make a difference.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE:  Luna has fingers as well as fingernails and lips.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Finishing (with Hardware)

I got a note yesterday asking a finishing question I couldn't answer so I turned to the professionals.  Pat Mazu answered my question and during our conversation, I visited the website that sells Pat's finishing book and her mini stocking designs.  It's worth taking time to see the slide show of Pat's stockings and marvel how she uses simple stitches and an overdyed thread to great effect.  Who said simple wasn't gorgeous?! If you are a member of the American Needlepoint Guild, check your old issues of Needle Pointers magazine for free mni sock charts from Pat.  You won't be sorry.

Also in pursuit of answers for my correspondent, I was at Cheryl Schaeffer's website.  On her New for 2011 page, there are some cute mini socks and some stunning Halloween bell pull hardware that in combination with Cheryl's designs, brings the traditional bell pull into the 21st Century.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Update: Chilly Hollow Stitch Guides Blog

I've updated the Chilly Hollow Stitch Guides blog article on Adrienne Spencer Designs as she has added a list of the guides available (with prices) to the site.

I've also written a new article, a review of the Vintage Pears stitch guide written by Beverly Churchfield.   If you are curious about this Melissa Shirley canvas or Beverly's guides, check this out.  It's important to remember that the Vintage Pears canvas is available on both 13 and 18 count canvas but the guide is written for the 13 count size.

I'm trying to keep the CH Stitch Guides blog current with all the information I can found about stitch guides collected there so folks hunting guides can see if one is available for the canvas of their dreams.  When I update something or have added a new article, I'll post a note here so you can visit my other blog.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

The Turkey Reappears

Nancy's Turkey Canvas
All of the volunteer canvases I've been discussing here lately have many fans, so I was thrilled when Nancy sent two progress photographs of her Mark Lake Thompson/Melissa Shirley turkey.  She's busily stitching the turkey according to the plan we worked out here.  

She had a little trouble with the turkey tail feathers as the stitch doesn't fit well on the diagonal but after she adjusted the long stitches to two plies of silk, it looks nice, especially the silk sheen.  Note the pretty background stitch.  Note that the canvas was photographed at an angle.

She says the head is done except for the eye.

I think it looks great!

Thanks very much for sharing progress photos, Nancy.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow 
 Blogging at and at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Luna Reappears

Ladies of the Night:  Luna

Remember Luna?  She is a Leigh Designs piece from the Ladies of the Night series.  Luna has seven sisters, each "more beautiful than the next" as the fairy tale says.  You can see the entire family of canvases here.

Remilla has been stitched by Beth of ThreadworX and a stitch guide/thread kit is available from ThreadworX if you want to stitch her the way Beth did.

When I put Luna away due to a family emergency, I had just finished beading the bottom of her long gown.  To refresh your memory, the tree, moon and clouds, tombstones and the ground and grass at Luna's feet have all been stitched.  Luna's face and arms have been stitched down to her fingers as well.  That means I still have to tackle Luna's cloak, sleeves, her hair, her fingers, jewelry, and the two ravens.  In other words, she is about half done.

If you want to refresh your memories of Luna to date, just use the search box at the top left of this page.  Enter Luna and all the previous blog articles should come up.

While I re-read my progress on Luna, fans of the 17th Century Reproduction Embroidered Jacket featured on the Thistle Threads blog that is currently on display at Winterthur will be pleased to hear the museum has posted a description of the jacket's manufacture on their website.  It's a PDF file and you can read it by clicking here--it's an amazing piece of work when you read through all the steps that had to happen to bring the jacket to life.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finally, the Fish

Lilliam Chermor
Now that we’ve talked about everything except the fish, it’s time to tackle the main part of the canvas-the fish itself. The Lillian Chermor Gold Fish is painted in such a way that it reminds me of stained glass--it has black outlines around solid colored areas. The fish is in red, orange, yellow, purple and brown. Let’s leave aside the gold spots on the tail and lower fins for a minute and talk just about the lines and the shapes. If it were me, I’d not outline any of the areas in black. The colors are distinctive enough that you really don’t need the black outlines except perhaps the midline that divides the fish’s body into a top and bottom half. I think I would stitch that line. In the photo it looks like it might be painted brown or purple but I can’t tell for sure. Anyway, it will be easy to couch a length of thread in the right shade and diameter across this area once the adjoining areas are stitched.

The body of the fish (except for the head and eye) is plain if you ignore the wavy lines of light and dark orange on the fish’s side. The eye itself looks easy enough to stitch. I would find a washer at the hardware store that is the right size to cover the eye area, paint it with clear fingernail polish to make sure no oil from the washer gets on my canvas, and wrap the washer in orange and white threads to create the donut shape that is the eye. It will be easy to stitch the washer down in the right shades of thread once it is wrapped as the thread that secures it will blend into the threads that wrapped the washer before you attach it.

You can then either stitch the blue pupil with a metallic thread in tent stitches or put a blue bead inside the hole, depending on whether you want the fish to have pop eyes or somewhat recessed ones within the donut shape of the washer.

There are four ways you can go with the fins. #1--You might just use flosses (this is an 18 count canvas, by the way) to do straight vertical satin stitches that are carefully laid. In silk that would introduce a lot of shine. The bottom fins on the fish’s body have tiny yellow outlines. You can do those in Silk Lame Braid in rows of stem stitch.

Silk Lame Braid is a loosely twisted silk perle thread that has metallic woven in. It’s a pretty thread and will look nice in stem stitches. Actually, I might be tempted to stitch the entire fish using Silk Lame Braid as it comes in many reds, oranges, browns and purples and there is even a yellow. (Remember, this thread comes in two diameters--one for 13 count canvases and one for 18 count. Make sure you pick up the right size for the stitch and canvas you are working with.)

Of course if you use Silk Lame Braid for all of the fish, not just the little yellow borders of the bottom fins, you probably won’t want to use a straight satin stitch. #2--How about using various small scale stitches on the fins and fish body? You could use plain old tent stitches for the calm brown and purple areas, and then switch to fancy stitches for the red, orange and yellow sections. I have to caution you that going for multiple stitches might make this canvas too busy for some tastes. Let me show you come examples of canvases that have multiple areas, many of which are done in different stitches, to help you visualize what I mean.

Look at this Sundance canvas from their photo album which they kindly agreed to let me use to showcase types of stitches. This flower design has three colors of petals. Cassie chose to use three stitches, one for each color.

To keep the changes from making this a mess, you can organize the areas so that you actually use either all related stitches or just use four different stitches, one for the red, one for the orange, one for the goldenrod and one for the yellow areas. The red and orange areas are larger than the yellow and goldenrod spaces so it makes sense to choose smaller scale stitches for the smaller areas and slightly larger ones for spaces with more room.

Here’s another floral example but there are more stitches used on the various petals. Personally I prefer the previous flower with its more limited number of stitches. But this is a matter of taste. I think this is a larger design as well. You can put more stitches on a bigger piece in my opinion.

Here’s a third Sundance floral canvas. Note that the flower petals are all the same stitch done in a shaded thread with slightly different tones. The leaves are done in two different very muted stitches, one of which is basketweave and the background stitch is subtle but fancy.

Of course one can do all the fish areas in the same stitch and just change colors (alternative #3). This flower is done that way with one fancy stitch and an overdyed thread for its petals. An overdye won’t work on Carol’s fish but this would be a nice way to handle a fish with only one color.

By the way, I did consider light coverage stitches (alternative #4) for this canvas but given the brown background, I didn’t think they would work well. With the strong teal blue background Carol has chosen, I don’t think a light coverage stitch on top of the fish proper will be in proper balance, especially with the dimensional bubbles and the seaweed strands.

Regardless, the above are four ways to handle this canvas. Anyone have other ideas?

Once all the stitching is done, then Carol can add beads or crystals on top of the stitching and do either stem stitches or couch threads on top of the body to make the vertical squiggles there.

Carol, I hope this stimulates ideas in your head about how you want to stitch the fish. Once you know which direction you want to go, we can toss around even more ideas.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Hearts for My Valentines

He's Really Into Needlepoint
Today is Valentine's Day and in the spirit of the day, I want to announce my Valentines of 2011--the gentlemen who stitch.

Michael Boren, David McCaskill and Tony Minieri are all superb stitchers, designers and teachers who charm us with their talents and inspire us all to be better needlepointers.  There are gentlemen stitchers who don't teach such as Dr. Donn Hunter who lost his true Valentine in 2008 but who stitches on, inspiring me to get better and better with each piece.  Of course there is Jeff Kulick whose award-winning talent astounds me each year at Woodlawn with each new original design.  I will never forget the late Ray Dockstader, either.  I will miss him at Woodlawn each year I visit now that he's gone.

Then there are the wonderful Kirk & Hamilton guys and of course Raymond Crawford.  And who can forget Doug Kreinik or the gentlemen at Rainbow Gallery whose threads make us so happy?

And there's the young man in the top photo (from a literacy poster from the State Library of Iowa) who reminds us that stitchers come in all sizes and shapes.  Let's not overlook the unexpected stitcher who is hidden in that large man (or the little boy) you see at the counter at your shop.  Today they are our fellow stitchers and my Valentines.

If you wish to celebrate a male stitcher you know, please add him in the comments below.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gold Fish Bubbles and Beads

Lillian Chermor Gold Fish

Carol, I have been thinking about the next step for your Gold Fish.  Right now we have the background color (a rich teal) and stitch (the twisted ribbon shape of the Swirl Stitch which you will customize so that you can alternate it with a row of tent stitches in your Cire nylon floss). You've also found tear-drop shaped beads for the seaweed that has those shapes and you plan to use Flair or Frosty Rays or another of the "panty hose" type threads there so you can put the beads inside the Flair, then use the same thread in another color for the stem and leaf caps (or whatever they are) for the teardrops.  You also have a tentative plan to use twisted ribbon for the other two seaweed shapes.  You still have to decide on colors of the Flair and ribbons and also ribbon width but at least you have ideas for these areas.  

All this is pretty high profile stuff.  It's dimensional or in shiny threads like silks and nylon.  We have to come up with a plan for the body of the fish and its fins that can stand up to being surrounded by all this dimension and shine.

We've talked about perhaps using the hot fix Swarkowski crystals for the dots on the body of the fish.  I think they would look nice but you might want to try beads there.  Swarkowski also has regular crystal beads that are just as shiny as the hot fix flat-back crystals and you might prefer sewing on crystal beads rather than gluing them on.  Perhaps you will want to wait until you actually have chosen threads and stitches for the fish before you decide whether you wants beads or crystals or hot fix crystals or bead crystals attached with needle and thread.

We also haven't talked about the bubbles.  Personally I think you might want to get some of the new Kreinik holographic threads in size 16 or higher and couch some of the light blue and some of the purple in a circle, starting in the center and spiraling out, then finishing with a couched circle of black holographic thread.  That will really stand out against the background.

Things like a Circular Rhodes stitch will also work.  Here is what it looks like.  It is easy to vary the size of this stitch to fill the round shapes of the various bubbles.  If you go this route, I think I would stitch the bubbles before I did the background around them.  

However, since you live in an area with lots of wonderful beads, you might want to look for pearly flat back beads that remind you of bubbles.  You can also go a third route and cover circles of felt or cotton makeup removal pads with a pearl looking thread.   Other colors of Flair (or some of the pink and blue Water N Ice shades) might look very nice and the padding will raise the circles up.  You could finish them off by couching black holographic Kreinik around the perimeter.  Many parts of your canvas have black outlines, and although I personally would ignore all the black lines around the fish except for the mid-line that bisects his body into an upper and lower half, I like the black lines around the bubbles.  That will set off the bubbles a bit from the dark teal background.  Here are the Water N Ice colors in case you haven't seen them.   There isn't a purple but you could used their Rose pink instead or use silver and gold bubbles by switching to pearlized beads.

I can see this is getting pretty long and we haven't gotten to the fish yet again but let's stop here to give you time to think about beads and crystals and bubbles.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Hearts for Valentines: Two

My second day of Valentine celebration is all about beautiful heart canvases.  Ridgewood has posted photographs of Associate Talent heart canvases on their website, and I wanted to share the charm with you.

If you want your hearts to be romantic instead of geometric, Jane Aurich has created a series of 40 hearts, some of which you can see on her website.  Think lace, chocolates, champagne and a cozy romantic dinner by the fire.

Her sister Joy Juarez has also done romantic heart canvases perfect for that romantic fantasy about love birds, lilies of the valley, calla lilies, or one perfect rose.

If painted canvases aren't your thing, don't worry. Laura Perin has created several free charted designs just for you to stitch for the person you'd like to gift with a hand made Valentine.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at