Sunday, June 4, 2017

Following the Path to a Background and More (Angel with Tree)

Last time I choose stitches and materials for the Angel with Tree's hair, skirt and jacket, skin, and snowflakes.  I promised to talk about where I started stitching, what choices I made, what worked and what didn't, and how I altered my path as I worked on this design.

Face and Hair
The easiest part of stitching people is to work their faces.  There are pitfalls to make a face look right, but those probably are generally related to stitching the eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth.  I tent stitched my face using various shades of cotton floss.  Then I added the features with bits of brown wool, black Kreink and burgundy floss.  I suggest that after you work an eye, you carefully consider what you have done, then rip out if necessary.  Even one stitch will make a huge difference.  I often add either a reverse tent stitch or a straight vertical or horizontal stitch to an eye or mouth to make it look right.  In this case the nose paint showed through the pale pink floss so I didn't bother to stitch the nose.  The eyebrows were done in stem stitches using the lighter brown thread I used for my hair.

I like wool and wool-like stitches for hair.  Because my godmother had gentle curls in her brown hair I altered the angel's hair to match.  I found two shades of Medici wool, a Felicity's Garden silk/wool blend, and Vineyard Silk Shimmer (silk with metallic woven in) in my stash and created hair using French Knots and Colonial Knots.  I wanted big, irregular curls so a mix of threads and stitches served to create the look I had in mind.  Some of my French Knots were one wrap, some were two.  All were placed roughly to match the four shades of hair painted.  I particularly like the fact that the Vineyard Silk Shimmer has a bit of metallic in it. That added highlights to the angel's hair.

Next I wanted to tackle my background.  I had a lovely blue Splendor silk matching the background paint and wanted a light coverage stitch that looked like snow.  I chose to make up a stitch around each of the white snowflakes to emphasize the dots of white.

First Background Attempt
But once I had the little diamond motifs in, I was stuck.  What do I do next?  Open stitches?  Solid tent?  Everything seemed WRONG.  I had to face the fact that a fancy background was going to be the star of the show instead of the angel herself.  So I ripped it all out and went with the calmest of backgrounds—brick stitch.

Second Background Attempt
I did compensate around the white dots.  Luckily brick stitch over two is very easy to compensate.  And as you can see, the little tree worked up nicely using leaf stitches dotted with small round gold beads and Swarovski crystal sequins.  Three good ideas out of four ain't bad!  It is all too easy to fall in love with an idea that doesn't work.  Then you are stuck with a piece you can't finish because you cannot bear to rip out that one part that you love--but that doesn't work.  Don't be that stitcher!  Be ruthless when you must!

Today's Stitch Guide Moral:  Don't be afraid to change directions. Staying committed to the wrong path doesn't work.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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wenhkc said...

Valuable lesson, Jane. Sometimes a stitcher feels she/he has committed so much time to stitching an area, or so much money invested in the fancy thread(s). But it would be so much more a waste if the stitching looks so wrong that the canvas is never finished.

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...


Cindy said...

She's lovely, Jane. Feeling a bit pleased with myself after reading that I had done a "Jane thing" on my GS's angel ornament. When he was 2, he had a head of soft blond curls. I took him to the shop & matched his mop with an overdyed cotton. The hair was stitched in French knots as you did, with varying numbers of wraps, from 1-4, so some drooped. Being somewhat lazy, I carried the thread along the back from area to area, to let the overdyed do the changes for me. Totally improper, but it worked (& the NP police haven't come for me).

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Cindy, glad that you did such a good job on your angel ornament. I won't rat you out to the NP Police if you won't tell on me!