Saturday, January 15, 2011

Put the Kettle On

Last night I finally picked up Stars and started the center of the newest block.  It is supposed to be done in color C2, which for me happens to be three plies of a pale peach DMC floss.  You can see that it didn't quite work out that way.  I decided that I would substitute one of the overdyes I'm using on this piece for my pale peach color.  (Yes, I'm using two separate overdyes plus tossing in some solids to fake an overdye since the colors I am using are not available in an overdyed thread).  So the center stitches you see I've started are done with Silk N Colors (from Threadgatherer) in Caledonan Road #209.

As a reminder my colors are violet (A), black (B), terracotta (C) and copper metallic (D).  The photo above shows my limited progress.  When I started stitching last night, I realized just how warped and uneven the sides of the canvas were. There were several waves where the canvas arched up between the staples holding it to the stretcher bars.

The canvas is slightly distorted despite being on Evertites.  (I loosened the Evertites before I put Stars away to reduce strain on the canvas, by the way.)  I have never had a canvas do this before but have never worked on such a large piece over such a long period of time. Before I do any more stitching, I need to rip out what I've done above, deal with the wavy canvas, and reattach the canvas to my stretcher bars.

This calls for a tea kettle!

The first thing I did was fill my tea kettle half full of water and put it on the stove on high.  Then I took the staples out and removed Stars from the stretcher bars.  Then I made sure the dogs were secured in another room.  You do not want any distractions while steaming wrinkles out of your canvas before putting back on stretcher bars.  Steam can give you a bad burn!

By the time Stars was free of its Evertites, the kettle was beginning to boil and steam was coming from the spout.  I held Stars above the steam pouring out of the canvas, moving the top edge back and forth in the steam, keeping my hands well away the steam.  This took about 5-8 seconds with the canvas in motion so that the steam didn't hit any one spot too long and wasn't too near the threads already stitched.  Then I put Stars down on the clean counter and turned the heat down under the kettle.  After all, the canvas is now hot where the steam hit it and it needs to cool for 1-2 seconds before I handled it.

I gently pulled the canvas top until it was straight and attached it to the stretcher bars in the middle top with a staple.  Then I carefully arranged the canvas (which the steam has made temporarily pliable) along the top and attached it in two more places closer to the corners.  (Remember, with Evertites you DO NOT attach your canvas at the corners because the Evertites move apart at each corner.  If you use regular stretcher bars, you would attach the top side at the middle and then close to each corner.)  Then the kettle was turned up again until the steam flowed freely again.

I steamed the top again, turning the canvas over so the steam mostly hit the canvas, not the stretcher bars.  Then the canvas was turned upright again and I carefully pulled and stretched the top again at a few more spots.  Now it was time to attach the bottom.  I repeated the above steps and got the top in position.  Once I had the bottom reattached to the stretcher bars in a few spots, it was time to work on each side.  Repeating all the above, the sides were reattached to the Evertites.  Then I worked my way around the sides, alternating top and bottom, then side and side, adding more staples as I carefully steamed and then positioned the canvas so it was attached tightly (but not drum tight!) to the Evertites.

Occasionally I had to remove a staple and redo an area that wasn't as straight as I thought or which was moved out of position as I attached other areas.  But that's ok.  This is a slow, careful process.  I didn't want to burn myself with the steam, or get the canvas too soft in the steam or get steam on my threads more than absolutely necessary.

In the end I spent about 45 minutes putting Stars back on my Evertites.  The photo above has it straight and securely attached but not tightened on the Evertites.  I will let the canvas sit all day, then see if I need to tighten the Evertites and will remove the first stitches in Gary Cooper and redo them.   Stitching on a crooked canvas isn't a good idea.

If you attempt to do this blocking technique, be very careful.  Steam and hot water are dangerous to pets, small children, and of course to stitchers everywhere!

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

A Newsletter and (Surprise!) More TNNA News

Squiggee has excitedly posted a photo of her distributor at their TNNA booth.  It's always fun to see folks what folks we've known online actually look like, although really the photo isn't good enough to tell much more than Margaret is a brunette.

Ridgewood more than makes up for that tiny photo with a whole series of photos of 3-D canvases from various companies.  If you've ever wanted to do a stuffed animal, this is the place to browse.

There's a photo of a beautiful Colors of Praise geisha, too!

My final treat this morning is Chandail's Winter 2011 newsletter which announces their Texas-themed monthly club for the new year from A Collection of Designs.

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