Monday, February 24, 2014

Blue Russian: Adding a Border with Bling

Leigh Designs' Northern Light Santa To Date

I decided that I wanted something for Santa to stand on, so I created an optional border under his feet. It is up to you whether you want to add this, depending on how you plan to finish your Russian Santa.

Mine is made up of a variant of Sheena James’ Snowflake Stitch.  You can see the original stitch on Sheena's blog.  I am reusing a part of the stitch with her permission.

This is what my Sheena's Snowflake looks like.

Sheena’s Snowflake is 12 threads high and wide. The blue snowflakes are stitched with the Kreinik navy #018 size 8 fine braid. Count down four empty threads below the bottom of Santa’s robe and one thread from the edge and put in two snowflakes, one on each side. Now count over six threads and start the next snowflake in toward the center. Do this on both sides so you have four snowflakes total. Now count all the empty threads remaining in the center and divide by two so you know where to center the fifth snowflake. Note that you may have an odd number of threads and will have one more empty thread on one side of the central snowflake in the series of five snowflakes. That won’t matter.

Step One:  Blue Snowflakes
Here is a photo of the snowflakes I stitched.

The next step is to add the icicles at the bottom of the border using one of the Kreinik silver metallics already used in this project. I used the Kreinik size 4 very fine braid in #001HL but it might be better to use the size 8 fine braid #001L holographic silver as the size 4 doesn’t cover well. I ended up going over my stitches twice to cover with the size 4 but I didn’t want the heavy shimmer of the holographic silver so I stuck with the 001LH  Choose whichever thread you prefer or use 001HL in size 8 or even larger size 16 if you happen to have it in your stash.

Step Two:  Silver Icicles

The icicles are done in straight and slanting stitches. I positioned the icicle bottoms five threads from the bottom of the snowflake stitches. Because everyone is likely to have a slightly different width of their border, I can’t tell you exactly how many stitches of each size you will need or where to put them exactly. The best I can do is to is to tell you to place the longest stitches that make up the slanting triangle in the middle between two blue snowflakes. Then position the longer straight stitches under the middle of the snowflakes. Then fill in with the shorter straight stitches, putting 1, 2 or 3 of them between each longer straight stitch. Icicles don’t form regularly so this will look ok, but if this drives you nuts, then repeat the top silver edge described below when I talk about the background stitch for the border at the bottom instead of creating silver icicles.  Here are the icicles diagrammed with a Sheena Snowflake.

The next step is to position sequins on either side of the central blue snowflake. I used square silver sequins turned to make a diamond shape, attached with straight stitches done in silver Accentuate coming up from the center hole to the middle of each edge. Once the sequins are firmly attached, use the Accentuate to attach a light blue Swarovski bicone crystal in the middle of the sequin. Note that you can substitute any combination of sequins or beads you like or have handy here. Cartwright’s carries snowflake sequins of various sizes and colors, for example.

Step Three:  Add Sequins and Bicones

Now you have to add the background stitches behind the icicles, snowflakes and sequins. I used Upright Crosses with two plies of the darker blue Splendor #S914 but you may wish to use three plies for better coverage if your stitch tension is tighter than mine. For the very first row, the one directly under Santa’s feet, do not use the blue silk—use your Kreinik 4 very fine braid in #001HL for just one row of Upright Crosses, then change to the blue silk to do all the rest of the background rows. Having one row of silver divides the border from the rest of the design.  Here is Upright Crosses diagrammed.

Upright Crosses Background

Note on the diagram I occasionally I skipped an Upright Cross and left that space empty.  The diagram has a red bead and red thread lines added where an Upright Cross should be.  Use the photo of the finished border to position your empty spots or scatter them as you prefer.  The blue diamond on the side of the diagram is supposed to be a sequin, attached with thread and held down with a Swarovski blue bicone.

I used tent stitches and reverse tent stitches between the interior areas of the Kreinik snowflakes. You may be able to put a full Upright Cross between the arms but mostly you will need to compensate so I just went with tent stitches, carefully moving the Krenik aside to slide my needle full of silk into position when necessary.

Steps 4-6:  Upright Crosses, Beads and Backstitches

Once the Upright Crosses are done, stitch four straight lines to make a diamond shaped box in the spaces where you omitted an Upright Cross, using a strand of the glow-in-the-dark Petite Treasure Braid PB300 (not the Petite Silk Lame Braid). In the diagram for Upright Crosses you will see the box shown in red lines.  You may use the regular white instead of glow-in-the-dark thread if you prefer. When the boxes are all done, fill each center with one of the Clear Crystal Aurora Borealis beads also used in the background. I attached my beads using the Petite Treasure Braid PB300 but you may have to use a doubled ply of white cotton floss if your beads have central holes too small for the Petite Treasure Braid to fit.  In the diagram for Upright Crosses, the red dot is the bead in the center of a box.

The final step is to use the Kreinik size 4 very fine braid in #001HL to back stitch across the top of the silver row of Upright Crosses to further separate the border from the rest of the design. I made each back stitch the same length, over four threads, but you can make yours longer or shorter to fit across the length of your border.  If you ended up using another silver thread for the icicles, use the same thread for the single row of Upright Crosses in the background and the backstitches.

Questions? Email me at chillyhollow @ and I'll get back to you by the next day.  I'm going to work some on the background, which I have sadly neglected, and then start to tackle the last section of this canvas--Blue Russia's ermine trim.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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@ Copyright February 23,  2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Simply Stumpwork

Mary Corbet reviews the new Stumpwork Flowers book from Sachiko Morimoto.  It looks like the perfect book to learn simple stumpwork to enhance your needlepoint canvases!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
and at
@ Copyright 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.