Friday, October 31, 2008

Color Change

In case anyone is wondering about my monthly header changes, I am using parts of my "Crazy for Birthdays" series of CQ hearts in needlepoint. A great excuse to play with new skills on the blog thing, as getting the size just right and then choosing the colors from the little chart that pops up is high entertainment, and rather time consuming for this computer dummy. Anyway - this is from the November heart, which is now on my web page (Elegant Whimsies). The flowers are chrysanthemums, and the birthstone is Topaz. I was rather pleased with it, but the flowers were a struggle. I was cheered on and encouraged by Jean at RiverSilks, whose gorgeous ribbon I use.

Hopefully I will get another 4-way Florentine ornament posted tonight, as I have it ready. However, it is Halloween, and I might be busy stealing and eating candy from my grandchildren's buckets after they go out trick or treating.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Drawing a Circle!!

Now that the question is answered (see the previous post) about the permanence of the colored Sharpies - (I bought a set, drew on canvas with each color, soaked it with water and several other liquids, and the ink wouldn't budge!) let's draw a circle. I used black, tho' so they would show up well.

This is a picture of some of my favorite templates - if the diameter is right, I don't have to get out the high tech compass. For the large, 15" diameter pillows I paint, usually on 18 mesh canvas, I don't count and stitch paint the perimeter, as I don't feel it's necessary if I take great care in the drawing. I had a framer cut templates for me from mat board in several round sizes and two ovals - as this makes the neatest line. NEVER try to draw the circle on paper, and then trace it onto canvas, as this usually makes a messy, squiggly line, which is quite unattractive - especially if you want to wholesale painted canvas. Also - don't try to draw onto canvas with a compass, as the holes in the canvas will cause it to slip around the point of the compass and make a big mess - a line that doesn't meet at the end of the circle.

This little four inch square quilt pattern is a good example of WHY it is so important to stitch count and make symmetric some of these shapes. The circle is 2" in diameter, and could have been just carefully drawn onto the canvas, but it would NOT have stitched to be symmetric, and would be ugly and lopsided. To do this, I drew a 2" circle in ink on paper, and then put the canvas over it - and marked the vertical (and the horizontal) center down the groove in the mesh, as it is an EVEN count due to it's being a four patch quilt pattern.

The canvas was then put over the drawing, and I counted 18 threads up from the center to make the mark at the top to begin. This was just to assure that each section was 18 threads, to create one inch sections. The drawing on canvas at the bottom illustrates that the diagonal was marked out from the center, which is a little square of four stitches. Then, with the canvas still over the circle drawing, just dot around to the diagonal - to make 1/8 of the circle. Then this is simply duplicated going on around the circle until it meets on the other side - very very easy, once you understand what's going on. Mistakes can be easily dotted out with white acrylic paint. Do remember that canvas is square, and no matter how hard you try, there are going to be jagged little strange square places - but even if you draw a perfectly smooth, nice circle with a template, when it's stitched, the edges will have those same little jagged edges - it's the nature of needlepoint canvas.
Another illustration of the importance of stitch counting a circle for symmetry is the white and purple bargello ornament - scroll down a bit and look at it. I made the top an even count, as it was intended for upright stitches, and I needed the groove for the stitch. The symmetry is absolutely necessary so that the design elements come out even, and appear more attractive. The circle with the little flower motif in the center was drawn in the same way - but just by placing the canvas over an inked circle on paper that was drawn with the little plastic bowl. I drew the diagonal out from the center, and proceeded around the circle in the same manner as the 2" version. I put the flower there so you can see why this one is 13 stitches across the top - an odd number, as the flower itself is on an odd count. This assures that the pattern (one of my diaper pattern designs) comes out even on both sides and at top and bottom.

The crazy quilt pattern is on the 5" circle, but I saw no reason to stitch paint it - but did take great care in the drawing. It has no symmetrical design elements, so I didn't think it necessary.

Always make a scan of the canvas after drawing a new circle - with the setting on dark, so it can be filed away for future use, and you won't have to go through the creation process again. The "ornament" was made simply by adding the top - it is to be upright stitches, so I made the count even instead of odd. These shapes can be manipulated in many ways to make still other shapes for playing around with all kinds of patterns and threads, etc.

This scan is of a circle simply drawn around a template - a bowl or plate. One must NOT bear down on the pen, as it will slip down into the groove and not stay on top of the thread, which is where it needs to be - that's where stitches are. I'm sure many of you have purchased rather pricey canvases only to find that the drawing was not well done, so the paint is down in between the threads, and you couldn't decide where to make the stitch. Also, don't make little short strokes with the pen. You need t o make a long, even line as well as you can. Light touch!! No matter how careful I am, I can still usually see a little bobble where the lines meet. Look at the bottom left of this one.

My next pet peeve, besides lopsided eggs with pointy tops and dark, ugly outlines, is hearts that don't have the top curves on the same thread. They might look O.K. on canvas, but not when they are stitched, and it's difficult to make them look right when finishing. also - if there is to be background around these symmetric pieces, they will look totally AWFUL if they aren't stitch counted and symmetric. The center V's of the heart should be on the SAME THREAD. I'm giving you two sizes here, but do try to draw some of your own. Just draw a heart on paper - the sides don't have to match, as you will only use one side as a pattern, and then, after placing a piece of canvas over the drawing, make dots around one side of the canvas - and then copy what you did around the other side, making dots with your drawing pen. Sometimes I resort to the old grade school method of cutting one out from a piece of folded paper. This is really well worth the effort to do correctly.
When putting one of these patterns onto canvas, there is no need to count the long slanted lines that meet at the bottom - just start at the center top, and simultaneously draw around the shape and down the sides to where the slant begins.

The Sharpies in Color!

I have now used the colored Sharpie "ultra fine" point pens, as I purchased a set of ten at Target. I had used the "extra fine" point before, which many designers do - and which only comes in the red, blue, green, and black. These are perfectly safe - and so are the new ones in more colors! I chatted with Sanford several months ago about the inks in their various pens, but these were not available at that time. I drew on canvas with each of the colors, and have poured water on the canvas, "spilled" Sprite on it, spit on it and rubbed hard - and I am unable to budge or smear the ink in any way, just a few minutes after the drawing.

These are also available on the internet on the Sanford site in a set of 12 - the extra two are yellow and brown, which I can do without. These will be great for drawing on canvas, as sometimes even the paint in a light color won't cover the black lines made by a black pen - which is all we have had for many years.

About the Sharpie ultra-fine point

While working on the "drawing shapes" tutorial I decided to check in with Sanford to make sure about the pack of multi-colors in the ultra-fine point Sharpie. It is not the "Permanent type," but says "permanent on most surfaces" - which would make me afraid to use it on anything that would subsequently be wet blocked, steam blocked, or dry cleaned. I have seen too many disasters over the years in needlepoint to trust anything but the one that says PERMANENT on it. This one does only come in red, blue, black, and green, for which I have no use in my commercial needlepoint designing - so I'll just stick to the black. I keep hoping for a nice gray one, and a white one for marking on black canvas.

The problem for the pens that are not totally permanent is that after zillions of hours stitching, not to speak of the cost of a painted canvas from a "reputable" designer - (I have seen this happen) when the blocking or later dry cleaning is done, the ink will lift to the surface and totally ruin the piece of needlepoint. Soooooo be careful. I intend to go ahead and buy the colored pens, however, as I do a lot of marking on the little ornaments I design, but don't paint when they are just for me. This will greatly increase the ease of stitching them! Also - the dilemma I've had personally of the black wanting to show through light colored threads.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Drawing Pen Alert!

I have just learned from Kimberly Smith at the LNS (The NeedleWorks here in Austin) that Sharpie has now produced a set of the ultra fine point pens (that I like to use for drawing on needlepoint canvas) in COLORS!!. For many many years, black in either the Pilot or the Sharpie, has been my only option. The black pens feed out ink heavily in the beginning, so have to mellow out a bit, as I have to take great care not to make heavy, dark and ugly lines. I'm really excited to learn about these pens in multiple colors - Kim is a designer, herself, so I trust her judgment in this. Not all pens are "safe" that claim to be. I will be off to Target or Walmart to get some this weekend.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Great Border Stitch!

Sometimes a stitched piece of needlepoint needs a little bit extra as a defining element - maybe just on two threads around it. Basketweave can be boring for this, both the stitching and the look. The one I have enjoyed most for many years is Long-Armed cross stitch. It's extremely easy to do, goes fast, and looks great! It also has the characteristic that the excess canvas rolls back easily from it, and makes the edges of belts, coasters, etc. look great. I have also used it at top and bottom of "rollies." (as on Gail Hendrix's peacock!)

The little green patchwork piece really needed this accent - so I added it easily last night. You can see in the detail how neat it is, and also I left the dots on the warp threads showing so you can see how the "dotted swiss" background is constructed.

The long-armed cross stitch works from left to right, so I started at the upper left corner of this, and just turned the canvas when I reached the corners and continued on around the design. It really gives it a bit of zing it didn't have before - and will make it finish nicely for insertion into a box top or whatever. I made smaller ones (not stitched yet) for coasters. For belt finishing - and dog collars, etc. - this stitch is wonderful, as the canvas just kind of rolls back and leaves a neat, defining edge. .

It is also a very attractive way to surround a name or monogram - or any simple design motif- as I did "Julia" here to separate the name plaque from the checked border.

P.S. The canvas isn't warped in the detail - it looks buckled because of the needle I left at the top.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Mitered Bargello

I found this ornament in the same file box as the previous one - and sometimes I wonder what was on my mind at the time. It was made about six or seven years ago, and it appears that I was dredging up some left over perle cotton, as the entire piece is stitched with this and some Kreinik metallic braid - #202HL for the gold, and silver HL for accents - as well as "jewels" made with bump stitches in Accentuates.

It was the first in this series of mitered Florentine ornaments, and perhaps this is why it's simple - but it has lots of potential for all kinds of different fibers and decorative effects! The ornament, after adding the one outside row of gold stitches, and then two of dark green for finishing, measures just slightly over 5" from point to point on 18 mesh canvas.

A square at least 8" needs to be cut, and the vertical and horizontal centers marked. Fortunately, I have always kept scans of the stitching in progress! You can easily see how it goes - just start with the center square of 4 x 4 stitches, and then mark the diagonals out from the corners. Start stitching in the center, as well, and progress outward. You will change direction at the diagonals as always on the mitered Bargello.

Just follow the chart, as it's quite simple. I see a row of some different color of Kreinik metallic braid (#12 on this canvas mesh) that has little blue and green sparkles in it - My stash is out of this, so I don't know the color number.

After doing the outer green bargello border, mark with your Pilot or Sharpie drawing pen the line around the ornament, a you will then fill it in as indicated on the chart with slanted stitches. I used #3 perle cotton for the upright stitches, and #5 for the basketweave background and the slanted stitches in the outer border.

Please enjoy this one, and do use more imagination than I did in your selection of colors and threads, etc. It's easy and quick to do, so lots of possibilities here!

I decided to wait to do the white and purple bargello until I can get a proper tutorial together (in a few days) on drawing circles and other simple shapes - this is VERY important when doing a symmetric design, but also helps with any painted or counted canvas, as it makes it prettier in the finishing! Nothing lopsided or mishapen.

Please excuse the "lumpy" look of this ornament - It hasn't been properly sent to the finisher. I just folded the canvas under and taped it - so it's rather strange looking.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Next Bargello

This is to be my next bargello offering, but first I will have an extensive tutorial on my other blog by this evening on why NEVER to use Continental stitch on mono canvas - it's a thing only intended in our grandmothers' time for use on penelope canvas with the pre-worked design. Please don't miss it, if you have been taught to use it. We "outlawed" this in the early 70's, and I am appalled to discover it has re-surfaced and is being taught to new needlepointers.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another Bargello Ornament!

This is another of the ornaments made several years ago when I was trying to remember these skills from 30+ years ago. It's actually extremely simple in that the count is only over 6 and 3 threads. I was playing around with making shapes, and after making one small one, realized that by just repeating the count and interlocking the motifs, I could make a nicely sized and usable ornament. The measurements are: 5" high x 3 1/2" wide on 18 mesh canvas. Each little motif is 2 1/2" high x 1 3/4" wide.The ornament is stitched with RainbowGallery Frosty Rays for the red and green, and Kreinik metallic braid - size #12 for 18 mesh canvas. (015 green) The background is Splendor silk in white, stitched in basketweave on the warp only, and beads added in the weft stitches. Again - the Sundance #250 hexagonal for some glitter!. The raised spider webs were, of course, made before the beads were added.

I have made a habit since I acquired a color copy machine of making copies as I go to keep a record of the stitching in progress - without these, I wouldn't be able to re-create a piece done years ago without dissecting the thing. As you can see, the blank spaces could be decorated in many different ways - basketweave background with small silk ribbon flowers or perhaps a "jewel" or two for more sparkle. The outside was stitched with a line of gold braid in tent stitch for a nice edging.

If you haven't worked raised spider webs, they are done on TOP of the stitched background, and it's a simple matter of just making an 8 spoke wheel - (as opposed to the five we use for spider web roses.) Then, come up with your needle and thread as close to the center as you can, go BACK over one thread, and FORWARD under two threads of the spoke. Continue this way until the "web" is completely full. It's a great little decorative element - I use it often.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mitered Bargello: An Ornament

This ornament has been in the bottom of my stash of unfinished (but completed) pieces for several years. It dates back to my wanting to resurrect some of the things I did long ago, but could barely remember how. The 4-way process has many interesting looks and possibilities - and this one is very simple. The threads used were just Perle Cotton (#3 for the upright stitches, and #5 for the background basketweave) and Kreinik metallics.

Also, shortly after finishing several of these, I started using a lot of beads incorporated into backgrounds for some extra sparkle and interest. The "jewels" are made with Renaissance Shimmer in a garnet/burgundy color. Since doing this one, I have discovered the wonderful Kreinik metallic ribbon - the 1/16" size would work perfectly for the upright stitches in the center - and the slanted diagonal elements would still work well with either the #12 braid I used here or the ribbon. The inner turquoise color in the border in bargello was also worked with Kreinik braid, but, again, the ribbon would look much better and cover well for upright stitches.

This is a design that could take on many different faces according to your imagination and the colors and fibers in you stash! Just mark the canvas as you see on the scan of mine - find the centers first on the vertical and horizontal, and then make the diagonal dots out on the 45 degree angle. I used 18 mesh canvas here, and the piece, including the outer tent stitches is 4 1/2" from point to point.
The scan of the stitching in progress might aid in your seeing just how this is done. The term "mitered Florentine or Bargello" simply means that it changes direction at each of the four diagonals - a very interesting design to play with. You might find you can even design your own just by changing the count and the size and shape of the Bargello elements! I have several more of these, which I'll present as soon as I can get them ready (the charts and instructions) - this means I'll have to remember how I did it in the first place. The little tent stitches on the inner border were added last - as an afterthought, as I needed a bit of strong color for emphasis here. It was done with Kreinik #12 braid in a bright navy.
Incidentally, Frosty Rays by Rainbow Gallery makes very interesting bargello motifs on these small, sparkly creations.