Monday, January 27, 2014

Blue Russian: What's Beard and What's Not?

Welcome back to another step in stitching my Leigh Blue Russian Santa!

First of all, I've finally made up my mind which thread to use for the little Smyrna Cross on each mitten. It's the glow-in-the-dark white Petite Silk Lame Braid, folks.   If you don't want to use the glow-in-the-dark white, that's fine.  The regular white Petite Silk Lame Braid will be ok.   I just like the stark whiteness of the SP300 versus the regular white of the SP02.    I didn't want to tell you to buy a card of that color just for the mitten snowflakes, though.  I had to wait until I did some beard-eyebrow-mustache stitching to know if my idea of achieving an icy hair look would work.  And it did!

So now I can justify using the white Petite Silk Lame Braid since you'll need more than six inches of it.  Stitch guide writers think about these things, you know.  We don't want to waste your money on something that you won't use much of unless we absolutely must.  In the photo below you will see both mittens and also see the eyebrows and mustache are in place.

Eyebrows and Mustache

I did the mustache first.  It is stem stitch mostly, using a ply of white Splendor silk mixed in the needle's eye with a strand of gray Wisper.  First do a short horizontal stitch over his upper lip, then start working one side of the mustache in stem stitches.  Occasionally you'll need a split stitch or a straight stitch to get the fullness you want but simply sketch him in with needle and thread.  Oddly, I discovered that it is easier to do the beard after the mustache is in position, so that's what I recommend.  If you look carefully at the photo you will see I did most of the beard and then pulled it all out.  The holes show the pattern of the stitch I used, but first let's talk eyebrows.  They are also a mix of threads--this time a strand of white Wisper mixed with that white Petite Silk Lame Braid from the mitten snowflakes.  Just add 3-5 slanting stitches over his eyes.  Take a stitch, stop and look, take another stitch, repeat.  You will know when the look is right.

Once your Santa has a mustache and eyebrows, then it is time for the beard.  It is done in the same threads as the eyebrows--a strand of white Petite Silk Lame Braid mixed with a strand of white Wisper.  You get the icy sparkle from the metallic in the PSLB but the fuzz of the Wisper makes the mix look like a soft beard.  I love the look!  Unfortunately, the two threads don't lay quietly together--they wrestle in the needle's eye--so you will need a laying tool and some patience to get them to lay nice and flat.  The stitched used is balloon stitch.  Here's a diagram.  Turn Santa on his side so his head points right or left (your choice) and work the stitches along the row.

This is what you will end up with once you turn Santa upright again--

Beard and Shadow

But before you start stitching the beard, you have to decide what is beard, what is the beard's shadow, what is the ermine trim around Santa's cloak and what is the fur trim at his wrists.  In the photo above you can see that I have some darker beard at the bottom where it is in shadow.  That effect is from substituting a strand of gray Wisper for the white Wisper mixed in the needle with your white Petite Silk Lame Braid.  Note that along the edge when I had to compensate I mostly splint the longer stitches in half instead of into three quarters.  I think that looks best.  By the way, my Blue Russian was painted in such a way to have some white hair between his right eyebrow and beard. I just did straight stitches over two canvas threads there to achieve a smooth look. (Remember to add this when you have Santa turned on his side to work the beard.)  Your Santa may be painted slightly differently, though.  All the Blue Russians are being painted by Alex from Leigh Designs' studio but she is human so there is a slight variation in the Santas she creates despite her best efforts.  

My Santa Right Now
Here is what Northern Light Santa looks like as of today.  Several folks asked about magnets that would coordinate with their Blue Russian.  As you can see I choose to use my blue ANG magnet and one of the Elizabeth Turner Bling rhinestone magnets.  I don't have any snowflake magnets, "snow" being a dirty word here after all the snow shoveling I've had to do recently!

The next posting on Blue Russian will be February 3.  I need some time to work background and and decide exactly what to do for the ermine trim.  I may end up working Santa's inner robe front instead.  My ermine idea might need to be worked last.  We'll see.  Regardless, I'll be back with more Blue Russian on that date.  Remember to send me progress photos so I can show off your work.  

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

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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  1. Ths is looking Fabulous! I really love this one and the stitches you are choosing enhanes it so
    well! Look forward to the next post!

    1. Thanks, Pat. I am struggling with the next lesson but that's mostly because it's a stitch/thread combo I've not used before so I have to do test stitching to figure out the best way to work it.

  2. un lavoro molto originale molto interessante