Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Blue Russian: Choosing Background Threads and Stitches

Once I had a background shape roughed out, then it was time to choose a thread and a stitch for the background.  I wanted something small in scale, Leigh wanted something that looked icy and cold, and I wanted a beautiful stitch.  I always like beautiful backgrounds, don't you?  This is Father Frost, the Russian Santa, so I was thinking cold, icy and Fabrege in style.

I looked at all the threads I had chosen, trying to find a color than enhanced the blues and silvers and whites on Santa that looked icy.  I couldn't use white or pale blue (the natural choices for an ice look) since the whites and pale blues of the Blue Russian would run the risk of blending into the background.  What to do?  I knew I could always go with ecru as Northern Light Santa is painted on ecru canvas and looks good, but this isn't an icy color.   I finally ended up with a lovely shade of pale pastel blue with a hint of green mint--Splendor S855.  It is called "Blue Blush."

I like it because it is so pale but it is not white or blue.  I only had Splendor, though.  To get the proper icy feel, I was going to want Silk Lame Braid with its metallic sparkle.  Have you used Silk Lame Braid before?  I love it!  It is Rainbow Gallery silk mixed with metallic in three sizes:  13 count, 18 count and Petite.  You choose the diameter of thread based on what stitch you plan to use.   But does the same pastel blue with a hint of mint come in Silk Lame Braid?  To find out, I used my Secret Weapon--I emailed Rainbow Gallery and asked.  The answer was YES!

And I soon had my hands on 18 count Silk Lame Braid SL17 and Petite Silk Lame Braid SP17, which you see in the photo along with the original Splendor S855.  They are all the same color, except that the Silk Lame Braids have a touch of green metallic woven in with the silk.  (By the way, the 18 count SL17 also has gold highlights along with the green although the Petite SP17 does not have a touch of gold.)  In the photo you see three cards of my color in regular and Petite Silk Lame Braid and also in Splendor.  The stitched area around Santa's head and staff are in that color although ti looks whiter in the photograph.

For the background, I choose a lovely stitch called Staggered Crosses.  That's the diagonal stitch in the upper right of the canvas above Blue Russian's head.  I've only stitched the big crosses in the photo above.   The tiny cross stitches (which can be replaced by beads) have not been done yet.

Why that stitch?  Because it is beautiful, it is a two-step stitch so I can add a second thread to ramp up the ice or beauty factor in Step Two, and it is small scale.  All that matters.  In the large photo above you will also see three tubes of beads and a packet of blue crystal sequins.  I have been considering whether to use beads or sequins in Step Two of Staggered Crosses, so I poured out clumps of beads and put sequins on the canvas just to see what the colors do with my stitch.   Right over Santa's head are a clump of tiny pearls, then there is a clump of crystal beads, and finally on the right side a group of blue-green beads. So far I like the pearls best.  I also put two blue sequins on the canvas.  Alas, I can see I need to stitch more of Santa before I decide what to do with Step Two in the background.

If you look even more closely at this photo, you'll see I have three background stitches tested in the background.  On the right side I've done quite a bit of Staggered Crosses (and will do some more of that background after Christmas) but on the left I've worked some Large Woven Stitch in gold and blue.  This stitch is groups of slanting parallel lines with a shorter stitch in between. You can do all three stitches in a stitch unit in one color or you can use a second color on the middle short stitch.  This is a slightly larger scale stitch but very elegant in golds.  It occurred to me that folks stitching several Russian Santas might like a stitch that they could use on all of their Santas.  Blue Russian could have a silver background with blue touches, the Holly Santa could have a gold background with green touches and the Birdland Santa could be gold with red, etc.  You get the idea.

This is what Large Woven Stitch looks like.  Sharp observers have also spotted the blue snowflake on the left side of Santa.  This is actually a Russian Orthodox cross.  I thought folks who want a basketweave background because they are doing a shaped stand up or ornament might like to include something Russian in the background.  I charted two of these Russian style crosses--one color block equals one tent stitch.  They can be scattered across the background.  Make a paper copy of your canvas and put coins all around the background until you find an arrangement you like, circle the coins on the paper and then put your Russian Crosses there on your actual canvas.

Before I end for this week, I have added a new tab to the front page of Blog--a materials list for the Northern Light Santa.  As I make my choices, I will list the materials I am using there for those of you who are copying my stitching exactly.  Eventually I'll transfer that list to the stitch guide but for now, it's there to help you in your shopping.  For those of you who have to mail order everything, I suggest you wait until I am further along before you start ordering so you don't have to pay multiple shipping charges. I'm sorry, but this is unfolding as I blog, so I don't know what I am going to use yet.

I'll be back again on January 6th with more stitching on Blue Russian. Until then, everyone have a happy Christmas and a safe New Year!

Questions?  Email me at chillyhollow @ hotmail.com and I'll get back to you by the next day.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com
and at http://chstitchguides.blogspot.com
@ Copyright 2013 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.


Cindy said...

Just wishing you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year. Stay safe & warm(ish), and enjoy a respite from the hard work you do on Blog. I surely appreciate the daily inspiration & education, news of new "stuff" & the lovely finishes. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad this has worked out for you! Looks beautiful and what a beautiful Santa he will be when completed!
Sally/Rainbow Gallery

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Thanks, Cindy! You made my morning!

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Thanks, Sally. It is just perfect. Wish you could see him in person but maybe Leigh will have him on display at the spring show in May. He's so cute and your thread is perfection!