Sunday, February 6, 2011

Carol Talks Water Stitches

Lillian Chermor Gold Fish
Yesterday I wrote Carol this about the background for her canvas, “My first thought is to use a rippling stitch that looks a little like the seaweed
that hands in front of the Gold Fish’s body. Something that is a vertical
stitch with movement. I’ll check my stitch books and see what I can come up with.”  I sent Carol some stitch suggestions.  She has looked at what I wrote her and responded below.  Her comments are bracketed by asterisks.
The traditional water stitch looks something like the background of this
canvas from the Sundance Designs Photo Album.  (Many thanks to Sundance for permission to link to these photographs!)  Personally I think this very horizontal stitch would look odd intersecting with the vertical seaweed on Carol's canvas.  What do you think, Carol?

***While I like this one, I do agree that it would look weird with the vertical seaweed. This canvas has a very vertical line, and I think that movement should be pulled through in the background.***
I prefer something like this gray sky background--a vertical wavy stitch.
Doesn't have to be this one but I'm thinking a stitch that is roughly shaped
like the seaweed bits dangling around the Gold Fish.

***YES!! Maybe with a subtlely overdyed thread for a tiny bit of contrast in the color.***

Carol, I like your idea of an overdyed thread with just a touch of color change.  If you don't have such a thread in your stash, you might want to do a little shopping.  Personally I like Gloriana's overdyed silk.  There are some lovely subtle water colors in this line.  Silk has the added benefit of a slight shine that mimics water's gleam in the sunlight.

A more jagged edged vertical wavy stitch would work also.  Do you
like the sharper edges of this sky stitch, Carol?

LOL  Glad you know what you like and what you don't, Carol. That makes it easier to narrow down types of stitches.

Another way to go is to use a darning pattern in the background, using small
fish shapes in one thread surrounded by tent stitches in another thread in a
slightly different color or texture.  Look at the base of this Easter canvas
to see what I mean.  The fish shapes could be in rows, scattered at random,
or be done on the diagonal facing \ the way the fish is swimming.  The fish
shapes could be beaded or stitched in a metallic thread (either a totally
metallic thread or one with metallic woven in like Silk Lame Braid) in a
similar color to the tent stitches surrounding them.

***I think this is a cute idea, suggesting a school of fish. I fear, however, that it would detract from the main focal point if its done over the entire background. I like the idea of doing them in the same color, but a slightly different thread. Maybe not all over the entire background, but just in one portion of it, like there's a school of fish off in the distance.  

I like that idea!  However, all this depends on the background stitch you choose.  Compensation isn't the problem.  You want the school of fish to "float" on top of the background stitch, not be a distraction because they are sunken into the background stitch.  So you'll need to do some test stitching to see how the background stitch you choose works with the school of fish.  How about applique fish in the background instead?  Appliques don't sink into background and detract from it.  Cut out some paper fish shapes and arrange them around the canvas background and see if you have room before you commit to this idea, ok?  A 9X9 canvas isn't very big.  You may not have room for a school of fish in the background.

***Would you recommend doing both the vertical stitch above, and compensating for the fish, or do you envision doing the background in tent/basketweave and putting these fish shapes in randomly? I'm pretty good at compensating, so I could handle the fish along with the wavy stitch. This idea is growing on me, especially if it's not over the whole background.***

It depends.  If you choose a wavy vertical line stitch, you may not be able to do the school of fish at all if they look odd among the fancy stitches.  If you want to try adding darning fish, then you could do them in the same thread as a tent stitch background but add a thin metallic (or Silk Lame Braid or a similar thread that has metallic already mixed in) to the fish shape so that the school of fish is subtle.  Or you could use a different textured thread in a slightly lighter (or darker--you'll have to test stitch to see which looks better) shade for the fish.  If you tent stitch the background, a subtle overdyed thread would give the background some movement.

A fourth choice is to use an all over pattern like the green sky here done
in Criss-Cross Hungarian in an overdyed thread to suggest water.  This
stitch doesn't have a direction but the changes in color suggest water
***Meh. Not so much.***

I've given Carol some things to think about.  Tomorrow we'll talk embellishment while she mulls over the background and what she wants to do with it.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Chilly Hollow Stitch Guides Blog Updated

Yesterday I updated the Chilly Hollow Stitch Guides blog with new information in the Carolyn Hedge Baird, Melissa Shirley, and Robin King articles.  Just use the search box in the upper left hand corner to find the updates.

However, there are a lot of articles about Melissa Shirley since so many folks write guides for her canvases.  The update to the main Melissa Shirley article is just that she is starting to post about new stitch guides (as well as show off finished canvases and the ones she is stitching herself) on her Facebook page.  To find it, log into your Facebook account and search for Melissa Shirley Designs.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at