Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nancy Starts Thinking Turkey Feathers

Turkey with Border Tests (Nancy will use left border)
Nancy and I are starting to talk about the turkey proper since she has her background and border stitches chosen.  I wrote her:

I'm glad you agree that the background stitch should run from the upper right to the lower left corners (see example above). I didn't realize that would make it easier to stitch--I was thinking about the background flowing the same way the turkey will walk--but of course it does. Me, I always choose the easy option. That just makes sense.

As you browse your stitch books, don't think feathers, think oval or rectangular shapes. Feathers themselves are roughly ovals but longer feathers could fit into a rectangle if it were long and thin. After all, Tony Minieri choose a rectangular stitch done over a line of metallic for the owl we are watching Madonna stitch.

 This sort of thinking will help you broaden your choices of stitches for feathers.

Personally, I would stick to tent stitches for the foot, claws and leg as well as the head, beak and wattle. I'd use different types of threads there to get the effects I wanted instead of stitches because the areas are small and detailed. I know we talked about using a metallic for the foot and leg just to get a realistic effect. Consider mixing two colors of metallic in your needle for that foot. You can even do a #8 Kreinik paired with a skinny Accentuate in a slightly different color to add depth. Or you can mix in one ply of a dull floss to tone down the metallic if it seems the right shade but too shiny to you. There are lots of tricks to making a thread do what you want and one of them is mixing colors or textures to stitch an area.

Which leads me to the red head. I think I might mix a lighter red metallic with my chosen thread for the wattle's highlight. Then I'd stitch the red shading of the head down the neck onto the red breast in tent stitches. Once that is done you can add metallic highlights at random using a very thin red metallic by just turning the canvas on its side so that the head points right. Do random tent stitches here and there right on top of the first layer of stitches with your metallic to mimic the iridescence of a real turkey's feathers. I've done this with a Santa's coat to add just a touch of sparkle to a Santa ornament. It looks good and is easy to do. Just take your black and white photocopy of the turkey and mark areas where you think you want metallic highlights, then turn the canvas and the drawing and put stitches where you marked. (This works nicely for adding sparkle other places on the turkey although you probably will be using other stitches besides tent on those parts.)

You have both flosses and twisted perl- or tapestry-looking threads available for stitching the bird which means more test stitching but you also might be able to use a reddish floss one place and the same or a very similar shade of silk/wool in another place to give a different texture with the same stitch. That's just something to keep in mind.

Consider a big bead for the eye but one that is oriented so that the hole shows instead of the bead being turned on its side so that the hole is parallel to the canvas. If you use one ply of cotton or silk floss, you can go through the hole 2-3 times to get it at just the right angle that the hole becomes the eye pupil. You can also use a colored floss that contrasts with the bead so that you have a black bead and a very dark green thread (or something similar). This gives depth and more character to the eye although you will have to try various threads and stitch positions to get an effect that pleases you. It'll be more work than just plopping a bead there, in other words, but these little touches turn a canvas into a masterpiece. Of course the eye is going to be a later addition to the head but I wanted you to start looking for a suitable bead.

Since you've already marked out leaf stitches as one you want to try, how about a little test stitching to see if that stitch just works for the upright tail feathers or if you can position them elsewhere. Remember, you can adjust the size of the leaf stitches to fit your area, making them taller and wider (or shorter and narrower) as the canvas changes shape. They don't have to completely cover the painted canvas, either. You might like an open stitch effect in certain areas.

Look for fan shaped stitches in your books as the breast feathers look like little fan stitches to me. You could also use buttonhole stitch done in a fan shape for there although it makes a ridge. You might have to use floss for a button hole "fan" to minimize the ridge.

Have fun rummaging around and trying stitches. Once you have a few you like we can talk about how to make them work together.

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

Stars: Gregory Peck Finished (with a Treat)

Gregory Peck Block Finished
Yesterday's scan of Stars made me realize that I needed to add a few more beads to the center star, this time at the sides where the star touched the terracotta lozenges.  Photographs and scans are really useful when it comes to pointing out problems that your eye just doesn't see.  For example, there is a white hair stuck to the top leg of the star in the photo above, courtesy of Watson (looking guilty below.)  I didn't see it until I looked at the scan.

The culprit
I used black beads this time.  In order to keep the bead sizes the same whether I was using black or violet beads, I used Mill Hill's Magnifica beads.  These are faceted beads, roughly size 11 (or 11/0, depending on how the size is written).  Using the same brand and type helped me keep the bead sizes the same.  Sometimes you will want to do this, sometimes different sized beads will look better.

Gregory Peck's on the right, middle row
Once the beads were added, I finished the sashing that surrounds Gregory Peck.  I'll put Stars away now until I finish Temple of 1000 Cranes and its stitch guide, then I'll move on to the Ava Gardner block on Stars after I work on Luna a little.

Progress to Date
Here's my progress on the total design to date.  As a special treat, I have a photo of another finished Stars.

Arlene's Pink and Blue Baby Stars
This photo was contributed by Arlene.   It is notable because this is the only pastel Stars I've seen.  Arlene stitched this as a baby gift for a close friend so she used pink and blue as the main colors and alternated pink and blue as the highlights in each square.  It was exhibited at Woodlawn a couple of years ago where I saw it.  Note the variation on the border which squares it off and makes it easier to frame.  This piece and my experiences while stitching my version of Stars make me want to see it done in ecru and beige with red and gold accents or all in grays or white and silver.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Arlene.  It's beautiful.

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

More New Things from TNNA

Ridgewood Needlepoint has posted more photos of new things they picked up for their shop at the January TNNA market.  Look at the postings dated Friday, January 21 for more wonderful eye candy, particularly the Shelly Tribbey canvas of a woman with flowers.

(By the way, for those of you in the business, TNNA has decided to move the January market to the month of April.  They may hold it in Phoenix instead of holding it in California as has been the case in the past.  I'm not sure exactly what is happening but there's been an uproar since April is the cash and carry show in Dallas already and shops like to place orders in January for the entire year.  This upsets all their plans.)

Fans of classic design or cardinals will love Squiggee's tree skirt. 

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