Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Have a Turkey Stitch Plan

Mary Lake Thompson/Melissa Shirley Turkey Canvas
Nancy's beginning to finalize plans for the body of her turkey:

"Thank you for clarifying your idea about putting backward tent stitches randomly with metallic on the red head. I understand now just what you meant.

Jane:  Good.  Communication is hard!

Scallop Stitch--Too regular?
For the body I have tried out the Scallop stitch (page 90, Stitches for the Millenium).  I like it a lot but I don't think it's the stitch for this bird.  While it works either vertically or horizontally, it won't work well on an angle in between.  I think I'd like this piece to be fairly realistic with movement of the feathers as painted.  So forcing everything to the vertical or horizontal leaves too much angularity, if that makes any sense!

Jane:  It does make sense, Nancy.  I can see how it might not look good tilted at an angle.

I have thought long and hard about your suggestion on needlepainting the bird.  I think I won't for two reasons.  The turkey is painted with very short feather portions, unlike the parrot on Mary Corbet's blog page (which is stunning!  as are all the other photos on that page).  My true reason is that a year ago, I started work on Mary Corbet's introduction to needlepainting.  I stitched and stitched and stitched and managed to get one petal done!  I am the slowest needlepainter there is!  Needlepainting is lovely, but I think I'd be forever working on a piece this big.

Jane:  This is your choice, Nancy.  A lot of folks don't like needle painting.   Besides, what I would do with a canvas certainly isn't the only way to go.  When you are staring at a canvas without a clue how to start it, sometimes it helps just to hear what someone else would do and know that's not right for your design.  Reacting to something is often easier than coming up with a plan from scratch.  The real reason for our dialogue is to get you thinking about what will work for you.  Part of the process is for you to say both "Great idea" and "NO!" when I make suggestions.

Various Metallic Thread Sizes
So back to the test stitching.  I tried two other ideas.  I did basketweave in two test spots.  On one I did the dark arcs in backstitch, using a variety of threads for the backstitch (one strand floss with one strand Bijoux, floss with two strands Bijoux, one strand #4 Kreinik metallic, two strands #4 Kreinik metallic, and one strand #12 Kreinik).  The various weights of metallic seemed best to me.  They would allow me to adjust for the different sizes of dark lines at the edge of the feathers.  You will see on the photo that I tried angling the lines in different ways.

Tie-Down Stitch
The second effort on the basketweave was to use the Jane Zimmerman Tie-Down stitch (creating a long stitch 6 canvas threads wide, then coming up in the middle and down one canvas thread to hook the long stitch giving it a curve).  I used different weights of Kreinik on this too.

I think one of these two 'topstitch on basketweave' stitches will make up the bulk of the body.

The basketweave in both cases was done in Impressions, two strands.  I like the Impressions since it will let me adjust the color by using two different colors in the needle as I move from say, red orange to orange.

Jane:  Personally I love Impressions color range and feel.   I find it wonderful to stitch with.  It does beautiful and even tent stitches on 18 count.  (Note:  Nancy's turkey is painted on 13 count canvas.)

Varying Number of Plies for Leaf Stitches
Finally I worked several leaf stitches on my test canvas using Splendor.  I started with 6 strands, obviously too heavy.  Then I tried 4, then 2.  I think 2 or 3 will be the final choice for the upright tail feathers.

Jane:  That will allow some of the paint to show but if you lay the stitches, they'll be smoother and will cover more.

As I look at the downward pointing feathers in orange and brown behind the turkey's foot, I'm thinking Gobelin?  Do you see any better options there?

Jane:  I would use straight vertical satin stitches for the wing feathers.  That way you can pad the largest feathers if you like.  Whichever way you decide to go, you'll have the outlines to deal with.  Can you use the backstitching and/or the Tie Down Stitch to outline the feathers best using satin stitches or Gobelin?

I haven't tried putting the Ray stitches over the top of the basketweave yet, but I'm really intrigued by that thought.  In my mind it looks terrific.

Jane:  I think it might look terrific, too.  That'll give you three different types of top stitching on top of your basketweave, which will enable you to create different looks for the different sizes of feathers.  I want to warn you that the metallics may snag your Impressions when you start stitching through the Impressions for the top stitches.  It is possible that running the metallic thread over something like beeswax or a thread conditioner like Thread Heaven may help.

Also, you may find one weight of metallic snags more. I think I'd try using multiple strands of the thinner ones instead of a fat metallic. Experimentation may help you figure out what works best to solve this issue.

I'm getting excited to start work on Tom.  I've ordered the rest of the threads I need for the border and background.  It's sure fun having you to move me forward on this canvas.  The possibilities just expand with your suggestions.  I remain grateful for this opportunity!

Jane:  It's been fun for me, too.   Doing virtual stitch guides enables me to work on a canvas that I probably never would have picked, which is very interesting and stimulating.  Do let us know how things work, ok?  There are a lot of fans of this canvas reading Blog.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Robin Travels, Ruth Beads Snow, Cassie Makes Flowers

It's funny how the Internet makes friends of so many of us who live all over.  Needlepoint connects us and makes me feel like I know a lot of people, especially the visitors here at Blog.  So I was glad to hear what a great time Robin King had on her teaching gig after the January TNNA market in California.  She also reports on how to attach Hot Wire (Kreinik's new wired size 16 braid metallic) onto canvas.  Welcome home, Robin!

The Spinster Stitcher has taken the plunge and ordered threads for Tony Minieri's Stars.  She shows off her coral, ecru, olive and gold  color scheme on her blog and credits Ruth Schmuff for helping her choose just the right threads.  Can't wait to see what she does with Stars!

Speaking of Ruth, she has posted the next lesson in her mystery snowman class.  She is beading snow!  As usual, I never would have thought of that.  I would have nominated Ruth for Genius of the Day except that Cassie over at Sundance is giving her a run for the title with her border for Oaxaca, which is a Mexican sampler piece.

Then of course there's Michele and her Easter Parade canvas (from Susan Roberts/Tapestry Tent).  The little girl's pink dress is fabulous but the bush and the Easter Bunny's basket are almost as great.  I think we've got a four way tie for NP Genius of the Day.

And it's not 9 a.m. yet.  [Jane mutters "More coffee!" and wanders away in search of some so she can toast her genius friends from CH....]

For those interested, the Oaxaca Tree of Life sampler and the Easter Parade canvas can be seen in their entirety here, while you can keep up with Robin's stitching via her Robin King Facebook page.  Coni will update her blog with Stars once she gets started on the design.

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