Thursday, March 31, 2011

Visiting John Johanssen at Home

Melissa Shirley Designs just posted a series of photographs of John Johannsen's art studio on their Facebook page.

Melissa licenses some of his art to reproduce on needlepoint canvas.  Until I saw his studio, I never really understood the painted canvases. WOW!

I hope those without a Facebook account can view the pages above, but believe me, it is worth signing up just to tour that studio.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shapes of Needlepoint App

I read on the ANG email list that Sandy Arthur's new book, Shapes of Needlepoint, is now available for download as a smart phone app.  It looks like it is available from iTunes and from Sandy's website for iPhones (not Android phones) and iPads.  It works for some iPod Touches also.  I would email the author if you have a 3rd generation iPod Touch but the 4th generation Touch probably works with this.  Check to see if your device is running OS 4.2 before you pay for this.

UPDATE:  I've heard from folks who use this on their iPads.  They say it runs, but you have to click on 2X to resize it and it doesn't look as good on iPads as it does on iPhones.  Just so you know....

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It's a Miracle! (With Music)

This morning was livened up by Robin's video demonstrating her flat iron technique for straightening Neon Rays.  See the thread with the bends from being wrapped around the card?  See the flat iron for straightening your hair?  See what happens when you combine the two?  Magic!

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Donna's Woodlawn 2011 Report

Read about Donna's visit to Woodlawn here.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stitch Guide Blog Updated

Yesterday I added a new article to the Chilly Hollow Stitch Guides blog--an article about stitch guides and how they have evolved written by Barbara Elmore.  I also updated the article on Brenda Hart's stitch guides with a new link to photos of more canvases she has written help about.  Here's the link to Barbara's article.  You can find the updated Brenda Hart one by using the search box at the upper left hand corner of the blog.

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The Connoisseur's Needlepoint

I have wonderful things for needlepoint fanatics this morning.  First of all, check out the amazing Japanese Embroidery pieces Jane photographed at the class she just took in the UK.

Do you like a more primitive and colorful style for your stitching?  Zecca has some wonderful canvases for you.  (Hint:  look for these on eBay.)

If you are a fan of SharonG's Italian landscapes, you'll want to see how Denise has her latest piece framed.  Lovely!

I always found armadillos interesting creatures but I never realized they make great frame weights until I saw what Gail Hendrix did with one in this new design for her Squiggee line of painted canvases.  Even if you are not really into these ancient creatures, you'll enjoy reading what Gail says about the creative process and her funny story of her brother-in-law versus the armadillo.

Finally, Callaway Gardens' School of Needle Arts has released their classes for 2012.  Read this and dream!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Kurdy Briggs at Woodlawn 2011

Cleopatra's Eyes by Threedles
I've already mentioned how much I liked the two original geometric pieces that Kurdy Briggs displayed at Woodlawn this year.  Turns out she is a designer of counted canvaswork and the piece I liked best (Cleopatra's Eyes) will be available as a chart shortly.  The photo above is as close in color as I can get it to the very sophisticated color scheme of the original blue ribbon winner.  The photo came from Scarlet Thread's interview with Kurdy. 

Here is her website.  She produces various colorways of her designs, which is a nice touch, but let me tell you, the original of Cleopatra's Eyes is the one for me!  Here you can see a good photo of her other piece on display at Woodlawn through March 31--Looking Glass, which is pastels on black in the original I saw.

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A Glimpse of the New

Patt and Lee Belt
Janet Perry has written a posting about new threads, charts and painted canvases which are being released.  Sadly, there are no photos for us visual people.

Luckily Scarlet Thread believes in eye candy!  Want to see some new counted canvaswork pieces?  This is the place.

More Christmas Belt
Plus several designers have posted photos of their new painted canvases.  Want to see the new belts from Patt and Lee?  Scroll through the last few blog entries on their blog.  Check out the Christmas belt.  It has a LOT of possibilities!  I  like it so much I've posted a series of photos of different parts of the belt throughout this article.

Squiggee is going to put their new things on their website as they are created.  This is very good news for shops who can't make the trade shows.  Easy ordering from the Temptress of Painted Canvases....

Here is the newest thread from the Society of Soie Surfine.

Even more festive belt
Here are the new colors from Cottage Garden Threads.  All those photos are going to be very helpful for those trying to pick new colors for a project.

Finally, I have a review of Julia Snyder's latest book of blackwork patterns.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Tour of Needlepoint Inc.

Needlepoint Tool Time just visited Needlepoint Inc. as part of their recent getaway weekend.  Here is all about it!

Although we can't visit in person, the NP Inc. website will give you a better look at the painted canvases glimpsed in the photographs in the links above.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Lost My Temper

I lost my temper this morning.  The Washington Post had an article on the state of needlepoint in their Home and Garden section this week that made me really really mad.  And I'm not the only one.

ANG's Facebook page posted about it, and Catherine commented that the Post has a place where you can upload photos of our "best or most creative sewing and needlepoint projects" to their website.   So I did.  I uploaded a good number of contemporary needlepoint designs I've worked on this century.  I encourage you to do the same.  No reason we should let the Home and Garden staff remain ignorant of contemporary needlepoint!

Here's the link to the Post's page where you can upload photographs.  You will have to create an account to do so (pick a login and password) and share your email address (I think) but I've had an account with the Post for years and never gotten any spam or advertising from them.

I labeled everything "contemporary needlepoint."  Wonder if the Post is listening...?

[Jane stomps off, still swearing]

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A Visit to YouTube

YouTube has three interesting videos up that you may be interested in.  The first video is about copyright theft.  The artist who made the video is a painter but the principal still applies to needlepoint designers.  After all, Maggie and Melissa Shirley and others license art from painters to put on NP canvas.

If you are curious about copyright and needlepoint design, the best article I've found on the topic is posted on NP Now's website.  It was written by two attorneys who specialize in copyright law.

Here is a fascinating 2011 interview with Kaffe Fassett.

And here is a similar 2011 interview with Raymond Honeyman.  Both have been posted by Ehrman Tapestry for whom they often design needlepoint.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

A Quilter Goes to Woodlawn

I discovered this report on a quilter's trip to Woodlawn this morning while looking to see if the promised Flickr photo album has been created yet.  (The answer to that seems to be No.)

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New for Spring (and Halloween)

Melissa Shirley has released a few new designs (and a few new stitch guides) for the spring season.  Visit them on her website, especially if you happen to live in Texas or want to stitch for someone who lives there.

The other new treat for this morning is Ruth Schmuff's just finished Spookin canvas.  The design is by Leigh Designs and Ruth shows off both her version and the one that her friend Sue stitched under Brenda Hart's direction.  Both turned out sophisticated Halloween pumpkins but in totally different styles.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Goodbye to The King of Metallics UPDATED

The Kreinik blog announced yesterday that Jerry Kreinik (who with his wife Estelle founded the Kreinik Company) was very very ill.

The Kreiniks just posted on their Facebook account that their father has died.  I hope he knew how much his metallics mean to stitchers, especially those of us who remember the time when needlepoint meant only wool.

UPDATE:  A brief profile of Mr. Kreinik on the company blog.

UPDATE #2:  SharonG found his online obit.

UPDATE #3: Sue speaks for all of us in thanking Jerry for what he did for us.

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The Other Bird

The second bird is now beaded.  My final step will be to work the legs and see if I need to add a bead to the center of the tent stitched eyes of each.

Once that is done I'll probably return to working the lining of Luna's cloak.  I got a little distracted there!  (Beads do that to me.  Do they do that to you?)

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May's Monthly Clubs

Fireside Stitchery has announced their monthly clubs, all of which start in May.  There are dimensional pears from Little Shoppe Canvas Company, pastel patterned hearts from Associated Talents, Rebecca Wood's season tree ornaments, and A Collection of Designs' miniature Halloween ornaments.  Click on the link under each photo to see the entire set.

Stitchbirds has a cowboy boots monthly club.  If you want Western ornaments, this is the place for you!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: Shapes of Needlepoint Series One (Circles, Squares, Triangles, Rectangles)

Shapes of Needlepoint:  Series 1
Sandra Arthur's new book, Shapes of Needlepoint, has been a big hit.  All you have to do is read about Marianne's attempts to keep it in stock in her online store and you know how folks are thirsty for stitches organized in a way in which they find the shape they need for their painted canvas easily.

Recently a friend sent me a copy so I thought I'd do a review so you can see whether you need to join the stampede to get your own copy.  Marianne covers the basics above very well but I have taken a photograph at random to give you another inner page to look at.

This book is just what Marianne describes:  a book of diagrammed stitches organized into shapes.  Each section has its own table of contents with the stitches described in terms of how much space they cover.  In other words, there are Circles - 4x4, Circles 5X5, Circles 6x6, etc.  After the four tables of contents (one for each shape covered in the book) there is an Index By Thread Count that lists all the 2x2, 2x3, 2x4, etc. stitches diagrammed in the book.

The diagrams are very clear.  They are done in shades of gray but occasionally an important area will be highlighted in red.  Stitches are usually, but not always, numbered to show the sequence your needle and thread follow to make the stitch.  In a very few instances there are colored photographs of stitched examples.  A great many of the stitches diagrammed are "string art" type stitches that counted canvaswork geniuses like Jean Hilton use in their designs.  This makes the book not something a stitcher new to needlepoint will need but it is useful for both the painted canvas and the charted design crowd.

I have to admit I probably would not have bought this book as I am used to analyzing the sort of space I want to fill and flipping through my stitch books looking for what I want.  If you aren't good at analyzing your unstitched canvases, this is going to be a useful series.  But it won't tell you which stitch to choose for your design, just what will fit into the space you have unstitched.  Picking just the right stitch is still going to be up to you.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Luna's Birds

Ladies of the Night:  Luna (from Leigh Designs)
The moment I started looking at my Ladies of the Night piece, I wanted to bead the birds.  I don't know why the idea of beading them popped into my head, but it did.

The birds look very Art Deco-ish to me.  I think of Rockefeller Center when I look at the bird on Luna's arm and of The Maltese Falcon statue when I look at the bird perched on the tombstone. In other words, I think of rather stylized and glossy birds.  Stylized and glossy equals beads to me!

For those who haven't seen Rockefeller Center or who aren't familiar with the iconic Maltese Falcon of movie fame, here are links--

Isn't it odd how something reminds us of something totally different?

I decided I would use brick stitch to bead the birds.  I've started on the top bird, turning the canvas on its side and doing brick stitch in vertical rows instead of the more normal horizontal rows as this is easier for me. Most of us are used to doing brick stitch over two threads.  To bead using brick stitch, just come up as usual, put a bead on the needle, and go down as usual.  The bead nestles between the two threads nicely.  You will see some of the thread you are attaching the bead with but that's ok.

Here's what the bird looks like totally beaded.  It looks much better in person than the photographs as my camera doesn't pick up the sheen of the faceted beads.

I've started beading the vertically oriented bird but haven't gotten very far.

If you need diagrams to understand what I've done, check out Robin King's tutorial of what she calls Beaded Brick on the Needlepoint Study Hall blog.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Busy Needle is having a spring cleaning sale.  In stock items are 25% off (except for the current truck show from Ewe and Eye which is 20% off).  Time to go shopping!

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Book Review: SharonG's SENSE UPDATED

SharonG has finally stopped stitching, designing and teaching long enough to write a book, and it's a doozy!  The title is Simply Essential Needlepoint Stitch Explanations (SENSE for short).

As you can see in the photo, this is a small spiral bound book.  The front and back covers are protected by plastic sheets so this can be tossed in a tote bag and carried to your guild meetings, or go with you on trips.

The book is 75 pages of SharonG's needlepoint knowledge, mostly diagrammed stitches with brief notes with each chart.  The stitches that are diagrammed inside the book are the ones that all of us have seen and used before.  (The only stitch I didn't recognize is Reverse Diagonal Knitting.) Those who are familiar with SharonG's Stitch of the Month stitches or her stitch guides should know that I haven't found any of her own stitches in this book yet.  This is not a place to find the creative and unusual stitches that flow out of her amazing stitching mind diagrammed.  So why am I raving about a book that diagrams stitches you can find in most any book?  Because of the notes Sharon has put under the charts and because of the introduction to this book.  Here's a page I picked at random and photographed for you.

Sharon tells us beads look good on arrowhead stitch and that Byzantine isn't always a good background choice.  All of the stitches have these tips and tricks included.  In this book Sharon reveals her Go To stitches that work well for most canvases.

But the best part is the introduction.  She talks a bit about selecting the right stitches for clothing and water and explains why texture and directional flow are important.  Sharon's Go To stitches are classified in three groups--stitches with very low texture and not much pattern, stitches with a medium texture that has no diagonal flow, and stitches that have what she calls "a well-defined diagonal flow."  This alone is worth the price of the book.  Now you can pick out a stitch knowing whether it will emphasize an area or not.

This book is suitable for both beginners and very advanced stitchers as it presents the stitches we use a lot in a way that allows anyone to choose stitched for a painted canvas wisely.  It is not going to be helpful for folks who do counted canvaswork (unless they are interested in designing their own) or for people who prefer all tent stitched pieces.  It is for canvas embellishment fanatics and is a gold mine for those who want to dress up their painted canvases as it starts a conversation about the most important topic for people who embellish:  How do you choose a stitch for your painted canvas?

This book is the first of a series.  SharonG says the next book will be about landscape stitches.  I can't wait!

UPDATE:  Pocket Full of Stitches has posted more glimpses inside Sharon's book.  If you are still wondering if this book is for you, check out their mini review.

UPDATE #2:  Nimble Needle also reviews Sharon's book here.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Asian Painted Canvases

Although I managed to make it all the way to November last year before I stitched an Asian-themed piece of needlepoint (last year was the Year of the Small Christmas Stocking while this year will be the Year of the Purse--stay tuned), I love painted canvases with vaguely Japanese or Chinese themes the best.  So I was very happy to see this lovely Japanese belt from Patt and Lee.  It's not only Japanese in feel, it is modern Japan, not a recycled geisha design.

Not that I have anything against geisha!  Melissa Shirley has some real beauties that were just released last year.  There are a few oriental bird designs among the ladies, too.

Heading back to the modern side, remember Kirk and Hamilton's geisha glasses case pair that Bonnie and I stitched virtually here last year?

They have added a geisha scissors fob to their line.  Charming!

Maggie continues to add modern geishas to her line of canvases as well.

Trubey has a traditional geisha canvas meant to be finished as a vase.  Interesting!

I could go on and on but I'm sure the non-oriental canvas lovers will appreciate it if I stop here.  Those who admire Asian design like I do will be happy to know there is a range of these designs, traditional and modern, in all sizes and meant to be finished in many ways.  We can get our fix no matter how we like our oriental!

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Delicate Embroidery Scissors for the Lefty

Ridgewood has scoured the Internet and their distributors for embroidery scissors made for the left handed stitcher.  I thought all the lefties who read Blog might like to see these.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Butterfly Ornaments of the Month

Thistle Needleworks has the only charted monthly club I know about.  This year it is butterfly ornaments in a series called Butterfly Garden. Click on each butterfly to see it stitched up next to the plain canvas.  Aren't they beautiful?!

Many thanks to Thistle for filling a hole in the counted canvas worker's options.

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Stitch a Box of Chocolate Covered Cherries

How did Laura Perin know that chocolate covered cherries are my very favorites?!

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Friday, March 18, 2011

SharonG Art Stitching

Regular Blog readers will know one of my favorite designers is SharonG.  I love realistically shaded canvases and she does some of the very best.  Some of Sharon's Italian landscapes were inspired by a series of photographs Denise took around her place in Ponza, Italy.  Denise kindly has posted the framed original photos and her stitched interpretations on her blog.  Click on the photos for a better look. Isn't it interesting how SharonG changed the elements in the photos to make the design her own?  Denise did a fabulous job stitching the canvases.

You can see good photographs of the plain canvases on SharonG's website.

Speaking of SharonG and fabulous stitchers, wait'll you see what Belle did with the SharonG dragonfly sampler....

Amazing designs interpreted by amazing stitchers!

By coincidence, Rittenhouse has published a bit about stumpwork kits and the beginner's class they have planned. If you are interested in learning more about using stumpwork in your stitching, you will want to give this a read.

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Counted Canvas Workers Head to Las Vegas

No, it's not a field trip. They are all headed to Liz Morrow's website to pick up her newest design, Vegas Nights.

Actually, the first four patterns on the page above are new, so if red hot jazz doesn't appeal to you, there's a soothing white monochromatic pattern available.  Or you can combine bargello with counted in the charming Hen and Chicks or go straight bargello in the Pricky Pear design.

This is modern bargello at its best.

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Beads and Sequins UPDATED AGAIN

I lucked out several years back when the local counted thread shop up and moved 400 miles away.  They had a nice little sale to clear out stock before the move and I picked up several packets of silver crystal sequins at a very good price.  They came from Sweetheart Tree. I just found their webpage which shows a great many sterling silver charms, beads and sequins/paillettes created for their designs which will be useful for needlepointers.

Along the same lines, Pocket Full of Stitches has bead assortment packs in stock.  I find these particularly useful for beaded edge trims but they have many uses.

You may not need such things for your stitching but it's nice to know where they can be found, just in case.

UPDATE:  By coincidence Unbroken Thread just posted a photo tutorial on how to attach sequins and beads to your stitching.  She is  doing blackwork on linen but the principal is the same for NP canvas.  This isn't the only way, of course, but this will work very well for scattered sequins and beads.

UPDATE #2:  Pocket Full of Stitches has posted photographs of the new shapes of sequins they have in stock.  The article doesn't say the source so I don't know if these sequins are from Sundance Designs or from another manufacturer.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day UPDATED

If you need a little Irish green this morning, check out Jody's newest shamrocks design.

Pocket Full of Stitches is having a Cooper Oaks trunk show.  They have posted a ton of bright canvases from the designers which you can see in these two links. UPDATE:  PFOS has added a third, fourth and fifth blog entry on this trunk show so I've added new links.

In Woodlawn news, Susan writes of her fun day out with a friend.  There's not much about the actual needlework exhibit, but she has information about a bead shop close to Woodlawn Plantation that those who are planning on visiting will want to check out.

Remember, turn left exiting Woodlawn and drive through two sets of traffic lights.  You'll see a McDonald's in the strip mall on the right.  Turn there and look to the right when you are facing McDonald's.  That's where In Stitches is located.  The shop carries counted thread and knitting supplies as well as a good number of painted canvases.  They have lots of threads and tools and it's a wonderful shopping experience before or after the show.

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I forgot to provide the link to the blog Arlene found that talks a bit about how Woodlawn Plantation's yearly exhibit is organized.  Here it is:

While I'm mentioning additions to Blog, I also updated the CH Stitch Guides blog with a short mention of what Art Needlepoint calls a stitch guide.  It seems to actually be an emailed (PDF?) file of twenty-two diagrammed stitches with some hints on where to use them, but I haven't seen it in person.  You can read the article here.

I don't know what it costs but if you have bought from them in the past year, it is free.  It looks like a second volume is planned.  Please note that Art Needlepoint's canvases are silk screened.  If not having a stitch painted canvas bothers you a lot, their designs are not for you.

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DMC Resources

The DMC blog has posted an unusually useful article that links to a tutorial on how to cut cotten perle so you have the perfect stitching length each time and a page that tells you the color name that go with all those DMC numbers.  312 is Very Dark Baby Blue, for example.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Trip to Woodlawn 2011 (Part Three)

I've written about my overall impressions of the items sent to the Woodlawn Plantation exhibit already.  Now let's talk about what I saw there.  I'll post links when there is supplemental material you should see.

The photo above is Carol's stumpwork design which won a blue ribbon.  She kindly gave me an old photo to share with you.  I hope you can see the delicate dragonfly and the lovely flower petals (and the charming caterpillar).  Woodlawn doesn't hand out real blue ribbons any more.  I'm glad about that because often the ribbons would hang over the piece and hide the best parts, but it makes it harder to find the winners.  Blue stickers on the name tags are hard to spot in Woodlawn's less than ideal display conditions.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Woodlawn were the very cute little linen pillows that had short sayings like "Eat locally" or "Keep our air clean" or "Be Kind to Animals" on them.  They were the essence of the modern sampler and all stitched by Juniors, perhaps in a class?  These little stuffed pillows are symbolic of the interesting ways the cross stitch and sampler stitchers are pursuing their art.  I saw two spectacular caskets, which are chest-like boxes stitced with typical sampler motifs.  Usually there are stitched accessories called Smalls inside as part of the set.  One casket had its fob, needlecase, scissors sheath, etc. on display next to it.  There was also an upright jewelry chest type piece covered in floral motifs.  These are works of art.  I didn't find a photo of any of the ones I saw online but Betsy Morgan's photo of her latest casket will show you the general style of these amazing pieces.

These weren't the only unusual counted thread pieces, either.  Melita mentioned Constance Tobias' stitched book in her Woodlawn report.  It looked to be stitched on linen, then bound together into a 6-8 page book with what appeared to be 17th Century style Biblical motifs.  The same glass case held other fascinating pieces, including two of Catherine Jordan's river boxes. You can see those on Catherine's website (the first two items).  These are astounding in person.

There were also beaded cuff bracelets and Susan's 5x5 embellished beaded stumpwork pieces.  You can see some of Susan's squares shown in the link below in her lacing tutorial.   Besides the stumpwork girl in a teacup, there was a pastel blue and silver star wand piece, a square featuring a set of painter's easels with their individual drawings, and my favorite--beaded birds among pink and blue flowers.

I found another embellished box in the first parlor.  This one was mermaid-themed with beads and stumpwork.  The smalls belonging to this mermaid casket were decorated with mermaid and shell motifs.  The same room had Susan's Your Majesty piece on display.  You can see her and read about her here.

The last piece I want to mention today, still in the small first parlor, was a version of Michele Robert's stumpwork tulip, done in mauve-pink.  It was lovely!

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Sue and the Easter Bunnies

With Easter on the way, Sue posts about her new rabbit standup and the piece she just finished.  Charming!…bunnies-coming-and-going/

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Eight Rhodes Stitches

Cheryl has posted diagrams of the Rhodes stitch and the various varieties shaped like diamonds, hearts, pinwheels, etc. on the needlepoint stitch section.  This is page one.  Just keep pushing Next to see all the varieties of Rhodes stitch.

By the way, I have listed all the online stitch dictionaries I find useful for needlepoint at the bottom of this page.  Know of any more?  Please let me know.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Trip to Woodlawn (Part Two)

Picking up where I left off last time, it is always interesting to see two very similar pieces hung close together.  Woodlawn always tries to group like items together.  (By the way, you can read much more about how Woodlawn is organized at this blog which Arlene found for us.)

The small parlor had two Native American Indian pieces -- one of a deerskin outfit with fringe, tassels and beads -- and the other of an Indian woman in front of a string art "dream catcher," also beaded.  I think both of these pieces were embellished cross stitch.  They looked great together!  The same room had a crewel chair lightly covered in the American style with birds.  I was told this was an original design.  Kudos to the stitcher/designer!  The chair was lovely.  Nearby was a set of sandpiper brick covers and a pillow in with a sandpiper design.  Sandpipers are ocean birds.  I had an immediate vision of these adorning someone's seaside cottage.

As always, Woodlawn had several traditional wool rugs.  One was an Elizabeth Bradley floral with 6 panels and the other a leopard patterned all-over design with a fancy red and yellow curved border.  (The border was curved, not the edge of the rug.)  The EB rug looked something like this, except it was made up of single floral squares with the names of the flowers written on the bottom.  This link shows a small version of a rug, not the full thing.  It certainly gives you the flavor of such a rug however!

As usual, Woodlawn sets aside the fancy parlor as a display area for Asian-themed designs.  These included kimonos, a nice Mindy Japanese quilt design, and dragons, including a very large Chinese dragon pillow.  There were two koi design pictures, hung together.  I personally liked a long fish pillow done all in metallics (the fish) with a plain regular thread (probably silk/wool) background of seaweed.  The fish sparkled in the sunlight, giving a wet but elegant look to the creature as he swam forever on his pillow.

Because these are traditional designs, don't think only classic pieces were sent in this year!  I saw a very cute stitched license plate that read Needle Ptr, one of Leigh's Floozies (with a lovely green and gold chain link necklace), and a cross stitch framed piece of abstract brush strokes in bold colors.  There were also two stunning original abstracts by Kurdy Biggs.  Both of the Biggs designs were octagon shapes, but one was in pastels on black canvas and the other featured a very sophisticated palette of olive, rust, navy and blue-gray.  Both used complex Hilton stitches to great effect but I have to say I think I'd take the olive octagon home in a heartbeat!  It is tied for my I'd Take It Home If I Could Award this year.

Sadly I can't show you photos of much of the above but the Floozies series is widely shown online.  The one I saw was similar to this except for that gorgeous green and gold chain necklace which seemed to be made up of tiny flat sequins or charms.

Around the corner is the parlor one passes on the way to the Tea Room if you are having lunch.  There I adored the Alaska Angel piece from In Good Company,

but was unable to really study much of the stitching located there.  I did notice a coat of arms banner and several floral pieces I would have loved to study furtner.  The standout was Connie Jordan't ruby slipper pillow, which featured a stitched and stuffed shoe on top of the stitched pillow. It was glitzy and unusual and a great treat to see.

I'm running out of time again, so I'll continue this later....

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Luna's Statement Jewelry

Luna's Ring and Broach
After tackling Luna's hood and the cloak draped over her shoulders, it was time for a little treat--I stitched her jewelry!  What you see above is the Before photo.

And here is the After.  I had planned to put a silver cross from the Potomac Beading Company on top of the broach setting but silly me-a silver cross on top of silver filagree, even with the bits of purple in the filagree, disappeared.

Plan B was to plop a square crystal sequin on top of the broach setting and hold it down with a lilac bead.  I think it looks great, especially in person.

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Monday, March 14, 2011


Let's face it--finishing is expensive (although it is worth every penny in my opinion) so we stitchers love finding finishing tutorials and self-finishing items. It saves money for us to spend in other areas:  threads and canvases and tools.   Susan treats us to an ornament finishing class on her blog and Needle Nicely shows off their self-finishing votive lights. They make it look easy!

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Chaparral Loves You

Chaparral has announced their newest monthly club for 2011--Love Letters. These are a set of ten Valentine card-themed canvases from a range of designers which they’ve had finished as a chair. The finishing is fascinating but of course you can do your love letters as separate items. You can see the finished chair here but do click on the photo to see each stitched love letter. These canvases are related by theme instead of being a set from one creative mind. It’s very clever of them to make up a series from many designers, don’t you think?  I noticed that many of the main stitches are either squares or diamonds, which also unites the series. Carolyn Hedge Baird is a very talented stitcher!

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Book Review: Spooky Stitches

Here's another book review of June McKnight's Spooky Stitches.  I've posted two reviews of this book already but each review seems to share more information, even if just in photographs of the inside, so I've linked to this one also.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Adding to the Monthly Club Choices

Adding to the monthly clubs for 2011, The French Knot has announced they are going to offer a Holiday Train club (Little Shoppe Canvas Company), Kelly Clark's Pears and also the Tassels clubs, a Nativity Series (Winnetka), and a Halloween Tree (from Collection of Designs).  Everything  but the Halloween Tree is on their website.  Don't miss their annual Petei Santa series (naturally).  By the way, right now Petei isn't adding new things to their line. If you have always wanted to do Petei Santas, don't delay.

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Newsletters and a New Alice Peterson

I am late reminding everyone that the newsletters for Needle Works and Amy Bunger are available on their websites.  Here they are, Amy first (alphabetical order).  In her newsletter you can see plenty of neat new products to aid the needlepointer as well as see Amy's terrific Halloween House framed.

Needle Works has a great explanation of the differences between basketweave and continental in their newsletter (page four).  If you ever wondered about following the weave of a canvas for basketweave, you will see what is meant here.  The directions are for both right-handed and left-handed stitchers, too!

By the way, the email that announced Needle Work's March newsletter mentioned that Alice Peterson has a new website.  Alice Peterson is known especially for their stitch and zip products but they also have a great line of floral designs.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Show and Tell

This morning's show and tell is brought to your by Tapestry Fair which has posted a lovely finished version of one of Leigh's cowgirl canvases,

and by Ridgewood which shows off two different versions of a canvas that folks are stitching in class there,

and by Melinda who is showing off her finished Amy Bunger Home Study canvases and enjoying the new class from Ruth Schmuff that just arrived in the mail.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Woodlawn 2011: Overall Impressions

This year's Woodlawn exhibit differed from past years' exhibits in that there were many fewer samplers than in the past, and more of those big Mirabilia ladies done in cross stitch than I've seen recently.  (If you don't follow XS, there is an example in the link below.)  When I first started going to the exhibit, these were everywhere but they have died out over the years only to start a comeback this season.

It seemed to me there was more beadwork and surface embroidery than I've seen recently.  A lot of the show was needlepoint although there were a few pieces of Japanese Embroidery and smocking and some crewel.  The needlepoint designs were both geometric counted canvaswork and painted canvases but there was a significant number of original designs, which makes me very happy indeed!

The counted canvaswork interested me because I saw no Susan Portra charts (for the second year in a row) and only a few Jean Hilton designs.  Instead, there were many more charted pieces designed by folks like Debbie Rowley, Laura Perin, Carole Lake, Ro Pace, Michael Boran, Orna Willis and others I couldn't immediately place.  It seems to me that counted canvaswork is having a renaissance.

The painted canvas pieces were predominately tent stitched.  There were some embellished pieces but not many.  Unlike last year, the majority of the tent stitch pieces seemed to me to have been stitched using the popular silk/wool blends, with some notable exceptions like the large rectangular fish pillow in the main parlor which was beautifully tent stitched in metallics for the fish and solid silk/wool for the seaweed background.

This year I didn't notice any color trends, but as usual, there are enough animal- and Christmas-themed items for them to have their own display rooms.  There were many floral designs and quite a few Asian-themed pieces (although perhaps not as many as in past years).  As usual there were a good number of Halloween pieces but I didn't notice much in the way of Easter rabbit or egg designs.

I was impressed by the number of junior pieces (under 18) this year.      But before I talk about some of the pieces I admired, let's take a break.  I'll be back later with the rest of my Woodlawn report.

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More Thread Reviews

Since I've been talking about threads myself a lot lately, I thought I'd turn over the topic to Janet Perry who has several thread reviews on her website that you might be interested in.  The first article talks about the new Candy colors from Kreinik.

Dinky-Dyes has new colors for their silk threads and ribbons.  Because Dinky-Dyes is an Australian company and their threads perhaps not available in your local shop, the second link is to their website to do a little exploring.

Janet's final article is about ThreadworX threads and talks about their colorfastness and proper care if you plan to wash them or get your finished piece damp in blocking.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Out the Door (with Crewel Wool)

I'm heading out the door shortly for two weeks of vacation visiting family.  But not to worry!  I have sent up a series of Blog postings that will appear like magic while I'm gone.  (They'd better or I will make a personal appearance at Google Headquarters demanding to know why not!)

Yesterday I posted a new article about Tapestry Fair and their stitch guides on the CH Stitch Guides blog.

I also noticed the announcement of a new crewel wool from Weeks Dye Works.  They started out specializing in gently faded colors of floss for the repo sampler crowd so I expect the colors will stay in their usual range.

The WDW website has a nice slide show of the crewel weight wool they are dyeing and distributing now.

When I taught myself to needlepoint in 1988 there were two threads available to me--wool and wool.  I could choose between Paternayan wool or Appleton crewel. I learned to love crewel wool then for its strength, texture, color and versatility.  Although I don't use it much now (I'm allergic to most wools) I still love it and am happy that we have this new thread in our stitching toolbox.

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Overdyed Very Velvet UPDATED

Overdyed Petite Very Velvet
One of the new threads introduced at the January 2011 TNNA market is overdyed Very Velvet.  Most of us have seen Very Velvet (or the Petite Very Velvet, sized for 18 count canvas) in the shops as it is a very popular thread for anything that needs a velvety look. Rainbow Gallery has now come out with overdyed versions of Very Velvet, some of which a friend sent me to show to you and stitch with.

As you can see in the photograph and in the link, the colors are mostly a light to dark range of one color.  I think the reds will be very popular for a red velvet Santa coat since you won't need to do anything to have a subtle shading.*  My personal favorite is the subtle grays but the brown card will be perfect for tree trunks in a forest or for animal fur.

Many thanks to Rainbow Gallery for a great new thread to add to our stitching tool box.

*UPDATE:  While on my annual Woodlawn exhibit and shopping extravaganza, I ran into Ruth Dilts of Needlepoint 101 and 202 fame.  Ruth showed me a small Santa she was stitching using the red overdyed Petite Very Velvet.  She created a Bargello pattern on his coat front, mirror imaging the sides so that the shades of red played out on both sides exactly the same way.  It was gorgeous and very imaginative--a great use of this new thread that showed it off beautifully.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bunnies Overrun Houston

If you live in Houston, you'll want to visit the Needle House's annual Easter canvas show.  The shop is covered with painted canvases of eggs, rabbits and carrots!  Read about the other local shop news in their newsletter.

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Painter's Threads Meets Ribbon Floss

Painter's Threads Overdyed Shimmer Ribbon Floss
What do you get when you cross YLI's ribbon floss with Germany's Tentakulum Painter's Threads?  You end up with overdyed ribbon floss, of course!

Here is YLI's website, the page where the description of the varieties of ribbon floss start.  Ribbon floss comes in regular, metallic, Shimmer (which has a bit of metallic woven in--this is the type of ribbon floss Painter's Threads has overdyed), and heathered (which looks rather tweedy and thicker than the other ribbon flosses).

This is Tentakulum's website, with links to all the threads they manufacture.

This link shows all the current colors of Painter's Threads in overdyed Shimmer ribbon floss.  I am told this is available from YLI if you are a shop owner looking to order.

This close-up shows some of the new Painter's Threads Shimmer ribbon floss as well as the regular ribbon floss in the old tube packaging.  If you compare the regular ribbon floss tail end with that of the new Painter's Thread overdyed Shimmer ribbon floss, you'll see the dyeing process makes the overdyed thread a bit less ribbon-like.

YLI now packages ribbon floss wound around flat rectangles of plastic (which you see at the top of the first photo) but you will still find ribbon floss wound around cardboard tubes as well.  I put the mesh tubes around the tube ribbon floss to keep the spools neat.  They don't come this way but I didn't have any of the old style of packaging I hadn't opened.

Amy Bunger's Halloweenies Home Study project used Painter's Threads overdyed Shimmer ribbon floss on the Devil character.  Here's a picture of Melinda's finished Dev L. Mann.

Many thanks to LR for sending me these lovely threads to show off to you and use in my stitching.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Now I've Seen Everything

File this in the Now I've Seen Everything Department-stitched pet dishes!  It is actually a clever and useful idea.

Ridgewood also stocks Boots Bailey's small suede bags.  These are first rate in quality and a quick self-finishing project.

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Reviews and New Looks

Sandra Arthur's Shapes of Needlepoint is a new book that focuses on finding stitches to fit certain shapes.  As you know, I often choose stitches that mimic the shape that I need to fill.  Sandra's book is an organized way to make this happen and has the nice touch of helping you resize a stitch to fit inside the space available. Here's Janet Perry's review of the book.

Orna Willis has revamped her blog to match the new direction she is taking her stitching.  Stay tuned.

Weeks Dye Works has also redone their website.  Now there are links to free charts using their threads and a place to download a PDF list of their best-selling colors.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Melita's Woodlawn Report

Melita is the first to write about her trip to see the Woodlawn Plantation needlework exhibit.  And she won a ribbon!

For those who are about to ask, yes, I made my annual trip to Woodlawn over the weekend.  I'm not sure when I'll have it written up, but stay tuned....

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Easter Eggs and Monthly Clubs

Pocket Full of Stitches has gathered the biggest collection of Easter egg canvases on their blog that I've ever seen.  If you think you might want to stitch a spring egg one day, take a gander at this.

March 1st they posted photographs of their newest monthly club, a Kelly Clark exclusive peppermint stick club.  Stitch candy topped by bows starting next June with this club.

More pictures!

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Can You Identify The Designer?

Ok, I've got a mystery for you guys.  Can anyone identify the designer of this painted canvas?  Hopefully you don't have to have a Facebook account to see this red foo dog design....

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Ever Wonder How a Trunk Show Is Born?

Mary Agnes gives us a little insight into all the work involved in putting on a trunk show at your favorite needlepoint shop.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Off to the Beach with Needle Crossings is having a Needle Crossings trunk show.  To get the 20% off discount if you are ordering online, use the code "NC" in your shopping cart.  The canvases are mostly beach-themed canvases.  If you are sick of winter and would like to spend a little time on the sand, you might want to pick up one of these charmers.  Move fast, though.  I don't know how long the trunk show will be available at this shop.

By the way, the March newsletter is up on their website as well.

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Creating Dimension with Threads and Stitches

Who's In Front?
Most folks would take a look at the Ladies of the Night series and want to stitch them because they are glamorous and spooky, but that wasn't really the main reason I was eager to stitch Luna--I wanted to stitch her to learn how to stitch adjacent black areas so they were distinct from each other.  To do this I am using texture (i.e., mixing metallic threads with silks and wools) and dimension (i.e., making some parts of the canvas look raised and others look flat through my stitch choices).

Take a look at Luna's hood and hair.  I wanted the fur trim to stand out a bit from her hair while the back of the hood should recede more than the hair and fur trim.  This is how things look in real life and this canvas is realistic enough that I want to mimic that look.

Her bangs (or fringe if you speak British English) should be a bit puffier than the smooth sides of her long hair.  The cloak over her shoulders should be a bit more prominent than the long black dress underneath.

I stitched French knots with wool for the fur trim, used Petite Very Velvet in tent stitches for the back of the hood and the shoulders, and choose long stitches in a mix of wool and metallics for the hair.  The bangs (or fringe) are stitched in stem stitch using Baby Alpaca (from & More) to make them look puffy and slightly raised.  The Petite Very Velvet used on the hood and shoulders was considered for the long gown but it looked too heavy and crowded, so I used it only for the exterior of the cloak and stitched the gown in Impressions (a silk/wool blend) in tent stitches instead.  I took advantage of the heavier look of PVV on the cloak after I realized it was too much for the entire long gown.

The next challenge is to make the raven perched on her elbow stand out without overwhelming the canvas.

Wish me luck!

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Judy Harper's Obituary

Judy's family has posted an obituary of Judy and her stitching career on the front page of her website.  I have been updating my first posting that announced her death with all the memories of Judy her stitching friends have posted, but this is the official obituary.

I'm going to miss her so you can be sure I'll sign up for the newsletter to hear when her website goes live again as her family works to preserve her unique stitching voice.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wanted: One Shorebirds Panda

A friend of a friend is trying to find Katie Molineaux's panda canvas (shown above).  If you have it in your stash or in your shop and are willing to sell it, would you please email me at chillyhollow at hotmail dot com?  I'll put you in touch with the person who is lusting after this lovely design.  Thanks!

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The D.C. Subway Map is Finished

The Ruth Schmuff Metro Map is Done!
Tuesday I got a wonderful surprise in my email In Box--a photo of Barbara's finished D.C. subway map!  You may remember that Barbara was my first volunteer with a problem canvas she was willing to blog stitch here.  I asked Barbara for her final thoughts on stitching this design and here is what she said:

"I really want to thank Jane for her help with this canvas. While I have been doing one type of stitching or another since I was 11, I am a relative new comer to painted canvas. I look at them and have no idea what to do. Thanks to reading Jane's, and other, blogs for several years I have made a few feeble attempts on some small canvases but this is the largest one I have attempted without a stitch guide. I must admit with Jane's help I really enjoyed the experience. I have a large stash of threads and got to try out several of them. Some I did not end up using (although it was fun to try them out) but others I did. I especially liked J Walsh Silk Perle and will try and find places to use it again.

I am very pleased with how the piece came out, especially the Capital and the Washington Monument (both of which were Jane's suggestions). Beading the Capital was more difficult than I thought it would be - getting all those beads to fit, and doing black on black was very hard to see, but I am very pleased with the result. While those are my favorite parts I am pleased with the whole thing and really want to give another of the canvases in my pile a go. Jane - thank you again for a wonderful learning experience."

Barbara, everyone here is thrilled to see how your subway map turned out and appreciated greatly the opportunity to discuss this canvas and various approaches to stitching it.  Those who would like to re-read the articles about Barbara's canvas can put "metro map" in the search box in the upper left corner.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Woodlawn Exhibit Opens

The 2011 Woodlawn Plantation Exhibit opens today, March 2nd.  It runs through the end of March with the exception of Tuesdays.

Woodlawn is NOT open on Tuesdays so don't go there then hoping to see the needlework exhibit.

Last year Woodlawn put photos of the award winners in an online photo album.  I don't know if this will happen again this year but here is the link to last year's pieces in case you missed them.

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Stitching the Gold Fish

Lillian Chermor's Gold Fish
I’ve been really busy with other things and Carol’s also been busy collecting supplies for her Gold Fish, so I’ve not really talked about stitches she might want to use for the fish itself.   Let's start that now.

The Swirl stitch Carol is going to use in the background is pretty large-scale, so I think the fish will stand out more if we go with a small scale stitch on its sections. Those sections are pretty narrow, so a small scale stitch has the advantage of being easier to compensate.   Look at this example to see what I mean.

The fish has red, orange, yellow, harvest gold, brown and purple sections. If you look at the photo, you see than many of these sections are set off from each other by lines that resemble the black lead that divides stained glass windows. Personally, I’d ignore all these lines except for the mid-line that divides the fish’s upper body from his lower body.   These areas are busy enough with all the small sections in different colors.  Carol may have other ideas, though.

Going back to the six colors of the fish, Carol could use the same stitch for all six colors or she could pick six different stitches, or she could choose one stitch for the fish’s body and another stitch (or two) for the fins and tail. All of these possibilities would work.

However, given that the fish has all those yellow polka dots that Carol will cover with crystal sequins, I think I would limit the number of stitches used to 2-3. I would also choose stitches that have spaces where beads could nestle so that Carol could add beads to the fish’s body or the upper fin to match the sequins on the tail and lower fins. I think this fish will look good with a lot of sparkle. Carol and I already talked about using contrasting colors on the fish sections (i.e., putting purple beads on the yellow sections and red beads on the orange sections, etc.) but again that might be too busy. If it were me, I think I would choose beads that were similar in color to the crystal sequins Carol will use to cover the polka dots on the fish. Using topaz sequins and topaz beads ties the various colorful sections together somewhat.

Now that I’ve given you way too much to think about, let’s talk potential stitches. I used the list of online thread diagram sources listed at the bottom of Blog to start browsing stitches.

I started with the Needlepoint Guide site and immediately found a stitch that looks like fish scales to me. It’s called Tressed Stitch.

This stitch has the virtue of not covering entirely, which adds depth to a design but those little empty spaces could be filled by beads or a tent stitch or cross stitch in topaz metallic.

I also liked Oblique Slav, which covers better but doesn’t have empty spaces for beads or cross stitches. However, one could use Oblique Slav for the tail and fins and use Tressed Stitch for the fish’s body. These two stitches are enough alike that they would blend convincingly. If you use two stitches on the fish, they should not look too different.

Note that if Tressed Stitch was used for the fish’s body, Carol could see the wavy lines on the fish’s body through the light coverage stitches and stem stitch or couch a dark line on top of Tressed Stitch to create the wavy lines again.

Another way to stitch the fish is to give him a pebbly textured skin like the blanket worn by the lady on the left. Stitches like these have the virtue of fitting well into small spaces. 

Dotted Swiss is a similar stitch. Essentially it is skip tent stitch with cross stitches (or beads!) done on the empty spots. Here’s a diagram. But perhaps Carol will think she’d rather have the subtle texture of cross stitches in Cire rather than all those beads? Again, this is a good stitch for small spots and easy to compensate.

My final idea today is to try doing something totally different. Smyrnas are harder to compensate and may not fit well in the tail and fin sections but look very nice on the fish’s body. They will also show off the shine of the Cire thread Carol is using on the fish well. 

I’ve given Carol a lot to think about. She may love or hate these ideas or have some of her own so I’ll give her time to react.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at http://chstitchguides.blogspot.com