Monday, January 6, 2014

Blue Russian: Polka Dots and Spaghetti

With the holidays just ending and a major deadline this week, I didn't have a lot of time to spend stitching my Russian Santa, so I choose small areas to work up.   I decided I would stitch Santa's cap and diadem, and his dark teal robe and sleeve.

If you haven't made a color copy of your canvas, do so now.  Also make a black and white copy.  You are going to use them this week.

The dark teal of the robe, sleeve and cap are all stitched in Dotted Swiss.  This is a quick and easy stitch that is perfect for small areas that need a little texture.  Because this is Northern Light Santa, I wanted a mix of velvet and sparkle, and Dotted Swiss is perfect for that as well.

Here's the stitch diagrammed for you.  Start with the cap.  Work the cross stitches first in two shades of teal using Impressions 8121 (the darker teal) and Impressions 7005 (the lighter shade).  Use the lighter Impressions for the lighter painted areas.  The cross stitches look like polka dots, don't they?  Step two is to add in the tent stitches with two shades of Kreinik metallic.  Use #8 Kreinik in 025 (blue-gray) in the areas stitched with the lighter Impressions and use #12 Kreinik in 018 (dark blue) for the areas that have the darker Impressions.  Note that I used two sizes of the Kreinik.  Pull the #12 dark blue metallic tight and let the #8 lighter blue rest lightly on the canvas when you work your tent stitches.  I am going to need the #12 later and decided it was a waste of money to buy two spools of the same color, one in size 8 and one in size 12.  I am making the #12 do double duty here.

Once you have the cap finished, work the sleeve and the two outer robes on each side the same way. A tip to keep from accidentally getting off track with your cross stitches when doing Dotted Swiss is to always stitch them on the same mesh intersection.  You know how on 18 count canvas some mesh intersections have the horizontal -- thread on top and some mesh intersections have the vertical | thread on top?  If you always pick the same direction intersection for the cross stitch and check as you work, you won't throw the checkerboard effect off.

The diadem is stitched in basketweave except for the dots of blue and green where gems go.  Skip those places.  Use Kreinik size 8 in 001L holographic silver for the lighter silver of the diadem and Kreinik size 8 in 5001 (blue with pink highlights) for the darker areas.  Boring, right?  Hey, this is just Step One!   We are laying a foundation for Step Two.  Look at the diadem in this black and white copy of the canvas.

Spaghetti on the left, Trellis on the right

See the squiggles that look like cooked spaghetti on the left side of the diadem? This is a filling stitch that embroiderers use.  Using my Kreinik #4 silver 001HL, I came up just to the left of the arrow point and laid curlicues and circles all over the basketweave, couching the #4 very fine braid down with silver Accentuate.  I was careful to avoid the gem stone dots of color, though.  Later on I will put beads or crystals on top of those dots.  (By the way, my black and white photo is from earlier, before I removed the excess Staggered Cross that helped me continue the row across Santa's cap to line up the background on the other side.)

Mary Corbet used this same technique on a piece of gold work she designed.  She has more space so her spaghetti doesn't double back on itself.

Since I know not everyone likes random curves and loops, look at the right half of the diadem.  I have sketched a trellis pattern there.  If you prefer, use your #4 silver Kreinik in a regular pattern of straight lines, couching each thread intersection where they cross with your Accentuate or blending filament or whatever thin silver metallic you happen to have.  It will be harder to avoid the gem dots of color with a trellis pattern, but you can approximate your gemstones on the trellis later, using your color copy of the canvas as a guide. It can be hard to see the bare dots once you add the basketweave layer, so whichever route you take for your diadem, you will need that color copy for jewel placement on the diadem later.

Once you stitch a pattern on top of the diadem's basketweave, you will finish the diadem by back stitching a line of the size 12 Kreinik in 018 all around the outside edge.  See the arrows?  That's where I came up to start my backstitching around the outside edge.  This adds a definition in a darker color all around the diadem in a color that echoes the color of the cap Santa wears.  Told you I would need that #12 Kreinik later!

Diadem Awaiting Gems

Here is how my Blue Russian looks now.  You can see his sleeve is worked in Dotted Swiss just like the cap.

I'll post again about my progress so you can follow along on Monday, January 13. Yes, that's a week from today, but today's lesson won't take you very long.  I think I'll be talking about the mittens and the silver staff next.  If you get caught up before then, work on the background some more.  I hope to have the right side's background around the staff stitched before I work the staff.

Email me if you have questions (chilly hollow at hotmail dot com) or leave a comment here.  If you work your diadem in a laid trellis pattern, I'd love a photograph to show off here.

See you next Monday!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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@ Copyright 2013 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

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