Sunday, December 28, 2008

4-way Flowers in Bargello: A Preview!

I have just put a short tutorial on Possibilities, etc. on the subject of the 4-way bargello on an egg, using the flowers I'm developing - great fun on a cold day while watching the History channel! I'll have the piece finished, hopefully, in a few days, and can post the charts and instructions here - but meanwhile, take a look at the other blog and maybe try it on your own. This is a detail of the center with the beginning of the 4-way "frame."
The blue flower has no leaves yet, as I'm tired, and need to study it tomorrow. - but here is the chart for the little pink one to keep you busy.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bargello Progress

I couldn't resist working on this for a few hours again today. It really comes to life with the outer framework finished - and you can see the beauty of using threads with different surface textures to further enhance the look. It would work to simply use floss or perle cotton - but is sooo much more interesting with a bit of shine and sparkle.

Outside the primary framework of the mitered bargello, it is simply a matter of filling in the blank spaces. I continued to use the format of "over 4 threads" that I had used on the other white elements, and just filled in as I could against the outline.

Backing up a little bit, this second picture (close-up) shows how very very easy it is to turn the corner at the 45 degree diagonal if you mark it first with dots out from the center.

I had to make a trip "out" today to get a big bag of cotton floss in Spring colors to start making the next ornaments and eggs, and now am starting to visualize different flowers in 4-way bargello. Quite a challenge with buttercups, etc.!! Something to look forward to, as this is my favorite part of the design process.

P.S. Update! I just posted a picture of the finished ornament on the other blog!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Four-Way Bargello Ornament (or Egg)

I didn't get this finished, but thought it's far enough along to see what it will look like - and also easier to use as a guide for stitching. Also, I chose to use the bright colors of the season, which could easily be replaced with the colors of spring for an egg - or any color you wish on a small circle. I drew the pattern so it would fit either this 4" octagonal shape, a 4" circle, or the egg, which is 3 5/8" wide by 4 5/8" high. (on 18 mesh canvas).

As usual, I enjoyed using fibers with different textures instead of lots of different colors. The whites are YLI ribbon floss for it's shine, Kreinik metallic ribbon 1/16" in color #032 (white) and plain old DMC Perle cotton #3. The flower is made with Frosty Rays, and its center is four smyrna crosses in yellow Ribbon Floss. The leaves are Kreinik 1/16" ribbon in green. The light green just inside the darker green Perle Cotton border is also Ribbon Floss. (I love this stuff, as it's so versatile) The gold outline is Kreinik gold 002HL ribbon 1/16", and the red is the same width metallic ribbon.
The drawing on canvas is easy to follow. As always, I outlined the shape first to confine the bargello stitches and make the edges smooth and even. It's much easier to stitch this way. Also, I made the chart to fit the octagon, so you would need to expand the stitches to fill in the circle shape, as well as the egg, which is very easy to do.

Another alternative would be to simply fill in with basketweave around the basic four-way bargello motif. I have marked the centers on both designs, but you will need to mark the diagonals yourself on the circle (trusty Sharpie or Pilot ultra fine point drawing pen)

I have marked the flower center for you on the egg, as well as the diagonals. Again, I have drawn the chart with the top of the motif cut off, as it was made to fit the octagonal, but you would go ahead and expand it to use on the egg.

This motif has many possibilities both as shapes and colors, and the way of setting it up. I can see maybe Petite Very Velvet in basketweave as a background around it, and maybe a few beads set in. (of course). Enjoy being creative and adding you own touches and ideas! The stitch count is very simple - just based on two, three, and four threads high for the stitches - nothing complicated or elaborate for this one!! Just have fun and relax!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

To Brighten another Gloomy Day

This is just a small preview of what I'm working on today - probably as a mental protest against the fog and gloom we have here in Austin for yet another day. Damp and cold! Anyway, hopefully by tonight I'll have at least a small ornament made for you to print out, if not an egg, as these go fast!

This is how the 4-way Bargello begins when I get an idea. A sketch on my tracing of the egg shape, and then the drawing on canvas, complete with marked centers and diagonals - and the most fun part, THE THREADS!! Stay tuned.

Monday, December 15, 2008

4-Way Bargello: A Preview and Tutorial!

This is just a preview and some background for a project I have planned for later - maybe next week. The 4-way Bargello has fascinated me since I first saw Dorothy Kaestner's book in about 1974. The possibilities and versatility of this method are almost limitless, and can even be used to create round pieces - as ornaments, lids for round jewel cases (my illustrations, made by Inge Wooley of Creative Needle), or even glittering Kissing Balls.

Bargello is a type of needlework made on canvas with upright stitches - the name originates from some chairs seen in the Bargello Palace in Florence, Italy. (These have the "flame stitch" pattern, which is a sharp, zig-zag pattern as opposed to the curved motifs). The term "Florentine" work is also applied to this type of needlepoint, as the Bargello Palace is in Florence. I strongly suggest, as it is very interesting, that you "Google" four-way Bargello, and click on the link for the Wikipedia, which is the source for these swatches demonstrating the difference between flame stitch and the curved motifs. Lots to learn there!

Anyway, It's close to Christmas/Hanukkah, and I thought maybe a very small project to play with might be relaxing while taking a break from lots of activity. The 4-way bargello is actually a "mirror image" thing, and looks a bit Kaleidoscopic, as it mirrors in 8 sections. I'm showing the very small 3 1/4" circle (on 18 mesh) for starters to play and practice. It would be a bit larger on 13 mesh. Notice that it is drawn with an EVEN number of stitches at the top, bottom, and sides, as the stitches are made in the grooves between the threads, being upright. The center is marked BETWEEN the threads, and then the diagonals are marked with dots in all four directions.

The first stitch should be made in the center - not necessarily at the center of the ornament, but somewhere between the top and the center if you wish. Then it's a matter of repeating to the left of the vertical center the same stitches - and turning at the diagonals for the mitering. You can play with threads and colors, and create your own patterns by doing this - surprising results!!

The larger round ornament is one I made from my favorite 4 1/2" circle - and was already on an even count, as I had added the top element, and intended to make that with upright stitches in Kreinik metallic ribbon. (This shape is from my collection of Traditional Ornaments, available on my web page) If you are new to this blog, there is an earlier tutorial on drawing circles of any size, and also the instructions for the "medley of white" ornament, on which you can see that the circle was outlined BEFORE stitching the bargello. This confines the area and makes the outline neat.

I intend to offer individual 4-way Bargello ornaments here later, but meanwhile, study these beauties of Inge's and see how they are done. The last two pictures illustrate what happens by just turning the thing 45 degrees for a different look!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Flower Trim!

Once started with the doodling on canvas, I couldn't leave this alone. This is my standard 4 1/2" circle - great for simple ornaments! The centers are marked horizontally and vertically, and the center of the large flower is placed - then the rest are drawn. This assures symmetry of the trims.
There are twelve threads between the center lace and the top and bottom laces.

So many possibilities for threads, etc.!! The squiggly lines simply show the direction change for slanted stitches - I like to use Frosty Rays or Rachellette for this. Bump stitches for the centers, etc. and also for the leaves in between. Use your imagination and have fun!!

My intent is to use the Petite Very Velvet as a background, as it is gorgeous with the Sundance #250 hexagonal beads for glitter. The little dots show placement of beads on the WEFT (dips) of the canvas so they will nestle down nicely and not wobble.
The photo in color demonstrates how gorgeous the PVV is in white for a background for the laces and trims (these are diagonal). You can easily see the glitter of the clear hexagonal beads. The Kreinik metallic braid in 002V (#12) is also very pretty in this combination.
This ornament drawing could also probably be used for counted cross stitch, with each dot on the canvas being used for an "X" on fabric.

Mini-stockings and Ornaments: Design Your Own!

It's still December, but I'm already thinking about/working on things for spring, including eggs - as these need to be finished to show in January. The lace I've worked on for the last few years (addictive, it is) has been on my mind for adorning eggs - with pretty white lace on pastel backgrounds in "Easter" colors. Also, pretty "lace" flower trims.

The models I have finished are, of course, for Christmas - but the lace trims are the same. You can see how very simple it is to create your own ornaments for any season by just combining different trims, techniques, and stitches.

The "Jerie" stocking has the floral lace trim dividing the body from the cuff, and diagonal ric-rac and lace on the heel and toe. The body is simply "Double" stitch.

The two smaller mini-stockings demonstrate the use of simple vertical "chains" with beaded jewels. Again, a very simple technique with pretty threads is very effective - and so much less expensive to do than the painted canvas. (including mine - as I would charge quite a bit for the time it takes to stitch paint these things onto canvas.)

The only kind of "counted canvas" I can tolerate is the kind I count directly onto canvas with my Sharpie or Pilot drawing pen - so I won't have to think while I stitch. It's an easy process that anyone can do - and mistakes can be dotted out with white acrylic paint.
This drawing on canvas is a mini-stocking on 18 mesh canvas, and it's about 3" across the top of the cuff x 5 1/4" high. It would be proportionately larger, of course, on 13 mesh. I stitch count where it indicates, but have found that it works to simply draw the rest of it (trace it onto the canvas very carefully). The reason for this is that the lace trim needs to be centered and symmetric. You can see the marked center top - there are 27 stitches on each side of the center thread. I have marked the "cuff/body" division also, and have placed one flower for you to show the centering process.
The canvas drawing of the actual flower trim shows two different sizes. The larger flower may have the flowers drawn together with one tiny leaf to separate (#1) or with a leaf between the flowers (#2). This was used on the "Jerie" stocking.
Another thing you might try is to simply do a round ornament with the flower trims. I enjoy using the Kreinik metallics for outline, and maybe Caron Rachelette or Rainbow Gallery Petite Frosty Rays for the petals. A variety of stitches could be used - "bump" stitches, or simply slanted ones that are nice and puffy, as well as sparkly.
You already have my circle tutorial in an earlier post - try it on different diameters. Also would work very well on eggs!! I have two different sets of ornament shapes for sale on my web page as downloadable e--patterns for creating these things - as I enjoy experimenting, myself, with stitches and materials. Many many possibilities for creativity here!!I
Incidentally, I have found the best way to print these out is to click on the picture to enlarge, then click "File/print preview" - and then print!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An Ad for Plaid!

I don't usually do this, but the response to my plaid has been rather enthusiastic again, so I'll call attention to the fact that I do have a book available on my web page - "Elegant Whimsies." There are so many many things one can do with plaid - it's like painting with a needle on bare white canvas, and never gets boring.
You can easily just plot your own with your preferred colors, or work from a piece of woven plaid fabric - a simple thing to do. I've used it over the years for covers for footstools (even on 10 mesh canvas), pillows, borders for names and quotes - lots of good stuff!

I'm hoping to find the time in the near future to put this book, which I did several years ago as one of the "Coloring Book" series, in two installments as e-books - but the second one on "LACE" has to come first.
The illustration shows a few of the plaids demonstrated in the book, and there are also instructions on how to set up individual projects.

Monday, December 8, 2008

More Filet Lace

I was tired last night and forgot to include this gorgeous picture. When I was preparing my article for Needlepoint Now early last spring, (the subject was Lace) my son-in-law told me his mother has a beautiful tablecloth that her aunt or her grandmother made for her in Italy for her wedding (since she is my age, my children classify these things as "antiques.") She had bestowed this treasure on my daughter, so I was able to study it and get great pictures for illustration.

I was, of course, delighted and grateful, as not only did this kind of lace originate in Italy, - but what a coincidence! This tablecloth is crocheted, as the Irish did to imitate the effect. I haven't tried yet to get the look in needlepoint of the difference in the background behind the rose, and the simple netting around it. I could do it in crochet, but needlepoint is another kind of challenge!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Filet Lace in Needlepoint

When I was a very small child, my great grandmother gave me a set of pillowcases that were edged with "fishnet" lace. The motif was a parade of little ducks, crocheted into the network in very fine threads, and I wish I had been wise enough to preserve this treasure! The love of and fascination with this type of needlework has never left me. It was the first kind I started "replicating" in needlepoint in the early 70's.

The first illustration is a needlepoint pillow I made for my granddaughter Sophie, as I love the look of the crocheted filet. The motif is simple, and it moves quickly in the stitching - great borders, as well as lovely pillows may be made this way. Next - the pink one, is for our Julia. (truly a W.I.S.P., as I get distracted with other things to stitch). You can see how this is done, I think, simply by studying the pictures - click to enlarge. I like to use smyrna cross for the filled-in spaces of the design, and the background color within the body of the lace is mosaic stitch.

I have thoroughly studied the history of lace, and encourage anyone to do it, as it's fascinating - but I won't go into it in depth here. There are Biblical references to "netting with linen," and early examples have been found from the year 2,500 B.C. This type of "filet lace" originated in Italy, where some of the very earliest laces were made - it originally evolved from a linen fabric from which threads were drawn to make a sort of grid or netting, into which embroidery stitches were placed (buttonhole) to make a lacy openwork. In the late 14th to early 15th century, the Reticella lace then became a "punto in aria" or "stitch in the air" type lace, rather than starting with a fabric and pulling or cutting the threads. It was this lace that the Irish imitated with their beautiful crochet - and it became "fishnet" lace, or "filet."

To make filet lace in needlepoint, a grid or "network" must be stitched - making the vertical lines first to avoid warping the canvas. This is the only time I have ever used graph paper for designing in needlepoint - but find it necessary - extremely simple! The little spaces are filled in with smyrna cross to create the pattern. Here are some very simple charts to explain the method: Also, I can fairly well figure the size of a motif - or whatever I need, by just marking lines, as each design space requires 3 threads. The very simple chart illustrates the tent stitches that make up the "netting," and the little green stitches illustrate Smyrna crosses to fill in for pattern. The hearts are designed to be small motifs - you can count the threads, adding two between each, to find the size. The green one is about 2" wide, or slightly more. The little blue one I visualized on 13 mesh, so it would be app.
1 1/2" wide. I have found great sources for patterns for crocheted filet lace if you don't want to create your own. This site, has some really pretty ones that are free - I would make pillows with them!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Patchworking again! (in Needlepoint)

I discovered the joy of drafting patchwork patterns to size about 135 years ago (1973), when I was a young wife and mother with lots of energy and enthusiasm, and had learned to piece and quilt with a group of elderly neighbors on adjacent farms. This was very absorbing, but I soon began the process on needlepoint canvas, as I had scant patience with the hand sewing and quilting required, except as a social event at Miss Minnie's house.

This pattern was one of my favorites - "Stepping Stones" - and I made several pillows with it in different colors, which I used in my little book on patchwork pillows.These ornaments are worked on 18 mesh canvas, but would work as well on 13 - just a bit larger proportionately.
This first drawing on canvas is for a 4" patch, and as the pattern is a "four-patch," I made each square 36 stitches. Examining the design shows that each of the four squares is divided into four more squares - so each little square within the big ones is 18 stitches. This is just to illustrate the format and construction of this quilt pattern. I didn't actually draw all these squares when I put it on canvas, as I would have had to white out (with acrylic paint) a lot of black lines that would have shown through the background stitching.

The next drawing is the pattern itself on canvas and ready to stitch. You can "read" the elements as 9-stitch squares. simple!! The next pattern (same quilt pattern, but smaller) is based on 24 stitches square instead of the 36 on the larger one. This makes the little squares within it 6 stitches. Adding the border made it 3 3/4" square.

The partially drawn canvas illustrates starting in the center with the 12 stitch square. If this is a bit vague, just look closely at the drawings and it will become clear.

When this was lying on my work table one day, I started to see what it would look like if I rotated it 45 degrees and chopped off two corners - one of my favorite ornament shapes!

As for stitching, you can just look at the picture at the top and fairly well see what I did. The red pattern is made with long slanted stitches in Kreinik metallic ribbon - 1/16" width.

On the very small version, the center square is made with green metallic braid (Kreinik) in Leviathan stitches (four stitches square each), and the little gold bumps were made with smyrna crosses, which adds some interesting texture. For background on the little one, I used YLI Ribbon Floss in basketweave, and the same thread on the border, but in long, flat stitches - you can see the texture is different because of the way the light strikes the surface. It looks like two different fibers. Wonderful effect that I use often!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crazy for December

The new header is a part of my December "Crazy for Birthdays" heart ornament. The history and symbolism of the mistletoe, holly, and narcissus, as well as the turquoise are explained in posts on the other blog under "Birthday Crazy Quilts." The research on these was fascinating!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Mini-Plaid tutorial: Gingham Checks

When researching the origins of plaid several years ago, I was not surprised to learn that it originated, of course, in Scotland. I still visualize, however, in pre-history, some ladies weaving grass mats for their homes, and noticing that the different colors of grasses, when they crossed each other in warp and weft, created a definite pattern - and this probably led to further experimentation with plant dyes.

Plaid, in it's simplest form - the gingham checks - is one of the first woven fabrics I sought to replicate in needlepoint many years ago. It's just a matter of using a color plus white (in it's simplest form) and a symmetric count - that is, on this one, four threads blue and four white. Where they cross, a third value is produced. (When using two colors instead of the white, a third color is made.)

In the second picture, I used two colors plus white, and a different format. Same number of threads (4) but it looks entirely different from the simple gingham. This illustrates the many many possibilities for re-arrangeing thread counts and colors and creating an endless variety of plaids!

To begin a plaid, the canvas needs to be marked for ease in stitching - and the WARP must be stitched first, as needlepoint canvas is a woven fabric, and the warp of any fabric is the strongest element. I have seen people start stitching across - on the weft, but this is like doing continental stitch on mono canvas - it will warp badly.

You can see on the marked canvas that I have marked the four threads for color only - as this makes it easier to see where to insert the white. Just stitch in basketweave down as far as you want on the four threads vertically - using ONLY the "bumps" of the warp threads. Make the stripes of color and white BEFORE stitching the weft. (which also should be marked at the sides to avoid confusion).

I really enjoy using this to frame names and monograms - or quotes, and made a door hanger for my first grandson with "crayon" colors - full intensity! The white "background" was reduced to three threads only, and the color stripes are five.

Ihad an interesting development several years ago, as I decided one day I needed a very small scale plaid for a patch on a crazy quilt ornament - so I used two threads of each color - and to my surprise, houndstooth check appeared. Happy accident!!

Another happy accident happened when I was stitching the little pink and orange gingham heart, and was bored that day, - deciding to do the weft in beads in the same colors to see what would happen. To my amazement, it looked beaded solid!
There are many many uses for plaids - and I enjoy them so much, as starting to stitch on a bare white canvas is like painting with your needle - and as the plaid emerges, one wants to just keep on going to see what the next repeat is going to look like. It never gets boring. I have done a book on this, which goes into much more detail and shows many more uses for it - but meanwhile, this should give you some ideas to get started.

The next two charts will show the progress of stitches, beginning with the vertical stripes of the plaid worked on the warp threads - the "bumps" when the vertical threads are on top. Then the weft (where the horizontal threads are on top - the "dips") I used blue ink to show what would be white on the blue and white gingham.
The arrows point to the warp threads as they lie on top in the weave.
The second chart illustrates the plaid being formed as the weft is stitched horizontally. Notice where the green crosses the white (blue on this) that a second element of color is formed.

I hope you will use this and enjoy it - and create some new ones of your own. You'll find yourself closely examining clothing on people at the supermarket, and noticing the structure of plaids in upholstery materials - Fascinating!!