Saturday, May 30, 2009

X-Stitch to Needlepoint and Back

I saw counted cross stitch for the first time in the late 70's in San Antonio, where the Yarn Barn had a class to teach it (I was there visiting Bobbi). They were using a needlepoint chart from Maggie Lane's NEEDLEPOINT BY DESIGN, and it was really really pretty!. We all thought it was a lovely idea, as there would be no background to stitch. Also, working the M.L. designs were difficult for most people to try in needlepoint right off the charts - as basketweave is confusing that way.( I always went ahead and drew the patterns onto canvas before stitching, so I could relax.)

Anyway, lately, there seem to be some people confused about "converting" the charts one way or the other - but it's actually the same thing once you understand the presentation of the design.

The first picture is how a X-stitch chart would appear, with the squares filled in. To do this in needlepoint, simply make a stitch where each square is.

Considering using 18 mesh canvas or 18 count Aida - the size will be the same. I think what may be confusing is that the lines on graph paper to most of us needlepointers represent the threads on the open scrim that is needlepoint canvas, whereas the little colored squares represent the solid fabric for counted X-stitch. I have demonstrated this by making "stitches" in colored ink on the lines instead of filling in the squares on the exact same graph paper.

To do this in needlepoint, however, I would first DRAW it onto the canvas with my pen I use for designing - as I am entirely too lazy to try to look back and forth from chart to canvas to stitch.
Equally, to convert this needlepoint chart to X-stitch, just make the X's on your fabric where the little needlepoint stitches are indicated. That's all there is to it. There is nothing difficult or mysterious about it!!
I have thought that counted X-stitch would do well with the wonderful novelty fibers we have, and also some of the decorative stitches. The "bump" stitch, Smyrna Cross would do well - and a lace border could be worked, as well as other effects.
On the left is Smyrna Cross in needlepoint, where it goes over 2 x 2 canvas threads. On the right is the way it would work on Aida cloth - the count is still 2 x 2 stitches, but using the squares instead. In plain words, you could use a needlepoint pattern for lace to easily make the same effect in counted X-stitch!
I saw this confusion once when I was teaching by e-mail a friend who wanted to do work with Waste canvas on a quilt block. She did not know needlepoint, so was confused by my charts, as she kept trying to put X-s over the 2 x 2 threads, as one would do in X-stitch, so that the motif became HUGE. I can't illustrate this without pictures - but you get the idea.
Anyway, later this evening, I have a post to make about a tree pattern that could easily be translated to counted X-stitch and decorated accordingly!!

Tree With Tutorial (or "a tree for all seasons")

These trees are from about 12 years ago when I was practicing new stitches and trying out new threads, etc. I couldn't stand to waste the effort, so devised this tree - and had little stands made for them so they could either be hanging ornaments or placed on the mantel or a table. On 18 mesh canvas, they are only 4 1/2" high - nice size.

The one on the left is worked with beads on the background and swags of silk ribbon flowers. This, I think, could also be done on counted X-stitch fabric with great effect.

The green tree on the right is made with stitches I found in an old, out of print book from the 70's - I think it was "A New Look at Needlepoint" by Carole Chaney and Georgia Devlin Rome - I had found an ancient used copy and grabbed it. Except for the red upright Hungarian stitches, it is entirely upright stitches, as bargello, over two or three threads in a zig-zag pattern. Simple. I used various threads for interest in texture.
The red and green tree is made with a fascinating stitch, again from an old book. I have no idea what name it had - but that doesn't matter. It is kind of "woven" looking. The star I'm showing simply to illustrate it's effectiveness in other colors. Threads used were Petite Frosty Rays and Kreinik metallic (for the woven element).
By the way - do notice that these are all OUTLINED first in simple tent stitches so that the decorative stitches end cleanly and neatly with no ragged edges.The first chart shows the sequence of the vertical stitches for beginning this stitch.

The entire shape should have the verticals done first, and then turn the canvas and do the horizontals. The last chart shows the horizontals in orange - and also the metallic braid being woven through - first vertically, and then horizontally. For some reason, this was more effective. The braid stays ON TOP of the canvas- only goes to the back at the end of an entire row, and then back up again to start back across.

The tree drawing on canvas is easy to do - plenty of instructions on this blog - probably under "canvas preparation." This outline could easily be done in counted X-stitch on fabric, and decorated any way you wish. Even for other seasons!!

Incidentally, this tree is one shape from my downloadable e-pattern collection on Elegant Whimsies (my web store), as "shapes for all seasons."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It'll Soon Be Summer!!

I decided to go ahead and put the June header on a few days early, as March has long gone, and I still haven't put the silk ribbon embellishments on "April." These are from my Birthday Crazy Quilt heart series - and I actually finished "June" last October.

Anyway, I run a bit behind from time to time, so the next one will probably be August - which also only lacks the silk ribbon gladioli and other embroidery.

This June piece reminds me of the song from "Oklahoma" - "June is Bustin' Out all Over!!" I wish I had some of the exuberance of that rose bush on the needlepoint version. The colors are taken from what I "see" as bright pastels of early summer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Napkin Rings for Summer Tables: Watermelon and the 4th of July!

Since I won't have time to stitch these, I went ahead and painted them to give you an idea of what can be done. The flag thing has been brewing in my head for quite a while, - and also others with flag themes, like 6 Flags over Texas or Florida, etc.

Anyway, on this one, I think I would do the red stripes and the stars with beads - and Kreinik gold or silver metallic for the dividing element. The white stripes would work well in simple T-stitch for a bit of subtle texture.

The watermelons are arranged so that when the seam is made, there will be a whole motif on the back.

As for color, I can see maybe a bright chrome yellow background with white flowers and orange centers. The flowers could be outlined with Kreinik 032 for a bit of sparkle, and the petals in smyrna crosses with something very shiny, like DMC Satin Floss. OR - the background might be a "summer sky blue" (I will have to ask Anne Stradal which DMC floss is that color, as she is able to tag the beauties of nature on Cape Cod with #'s.)

Remember that these are 5 1/2" long, but could be lengthened to 7" for a cuff bracelet (with rounded ends as shown in a previous post) or 8" for a bangle. Even belts would be fun in these designs.
Here are the charts - just print them out and draw them onto canvas with the appropriate drawing pen. I outlined the stars on the flag with a light blue one when drawing - with the thought that white thread would cover it better than it would black. (Sharpie ultra fine point) I rarely paint anything I'm going to stitch myself. I also used the blue on the flowers on the watermelon piece.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

4th of July and Summertime Coming!

Doodling on scraps of paper and canvas on my table is how this begins - so out of the ashes and mess arises the next Freebies, etc. project - hopefully by Saturday.
That's a watermelon in the pencil sketch at the bottom. Note the Hershey's Kisses on the table - the Sprite is off to the left, as I won't have liquids on my work table.

I got lucky on the "flag" napkin ring, as the thing came out even without much effort. I started in the center to make sure it would be alike at both ends.
The big mess is on the right end of the table - it seems to be the only way I can function. I know where everything is in which layer of debris!
The yellow item at the lower right is a ceramic starfish Jake brought his Granny today - makes a wonderful paperweight to go with the one I made a few years ago with seashells. Now I have a "clay" buddy, so need to go to the clay store on Saturday.The little cacti are a treat to myself, but will also be used to demonstrate that beads aren't just for Christmas sparkle on the painted canvas! Later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Basketweave Around Shapes: A Free Tutorial

Having seen a number of people having trouble stitching basketweave around shaped ornaments, I have begun a tutorial on the other blog (Possibilities, etc.) to show step by step how really simple it is.
By doing basketweave, the ornament canvas won't warp, and as always, is much smoother and prettier - it becomes second nature when you understand the correct method of stitching.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Knitting with Fabric Strips

I'm seeing a lot of interest in fabric strip knitting, which has been a favorite occupation of mine off and on since the mid 80's.

I have dug out a few pictures to post, and meanwhile will find more finished pieces, as well as the patterns I wrote at the time of my last "binge" about four years ago, and will present them here.

I learned to knit as soon as I could read the little Coats & Clark green book we all bought at Woolworth long ago - and taught myself. I have alternated knitting and needlepoint all these years, and have especially enjoyed the diversification in designing with the fabric strips - which I call "Raggedy Chic."

The skills required for this are few - and projects work up quickly, due to the large needles and "fat" strips. There is a link to a site for printing out graph paper for designing your own geometrics, as well as other patterns, as it requires an assymetric graph to accomodate knitting. (knitting stitches are wider than they are high).

Anyway - I'll try to get this started by early next week - needlepoint is pending right now!!

Lest I forget to mention it, the rags are splendid also for crochet projects! I did a leaflet for Leisure Arts in the early 90's on Crocheted Rag Rugs - and also have done flower pot covers, and all kinds of fun things with a big, fat hook.

ADDENDUM: I'm seeing so much interest in this, that I'm getting out my file folders of patterns I created back when I did these - and many others. I will offer some here as Freebies, but also will put them for sale as e-patterns on my web page. There are also tote bags in this series (showing on my other blog) - and tutorials on how to cut and knit with the fabric strips and design your own on graph paper..

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crosses for Personal Prayer Cushions

Several years ago, I had a number of painted canvase (by request) in my wholesale line that had to do with Bible/Prayer book covers. I'm pleased lately to discover that many many people are now looking beyond church kneelers, etc., and wanting to do personal prayer cushions, which may, of course, be any convenient size that fits the space and the need.
I had an irreverant moment remembering a church in Tallahassee that made an effort to do a great tongue-in-cheek type quote each week on a billboard that was hilarious as well as thought prevoking. I remember one that said "When your troubles knock you to your knees, you're in a praying position." (so true) This is how I've been feeling for the past year, only by now, if I knelt on the floor, I probably would require help getting back up.

Anyway, as usual, while digging in old files and boxes I found these small cross drawings that I've used in the past, not only for Bible covers, but in groupings and arrangements for personal kneelers. I remember one that had three of them across the center, and a simple but elegant border - very effective.
This Jerusalem Cross is one of my favorites of the many many types and styles of crosses used over the centuries - and is also adaptable for an ornament. Could be placed on a symmetrical stitch counted circle or a diamond shape easily. Also - lots of possible color combinations.
On 13 mesh canvas, this one is 3 1/2" high. On 18 mesh, it is tiny @ 2 3/4".

The simple Latin Cross has the Alpha and Omega added. It's almost 4" high on 13 mesh, and 2 3/4" on 18 mesh.

The Trefoil Cross shown here is a bit small, but apparently was used in the same project - it would be simple to draw it larger. It's 4" high on 13 mesh, and 3" high on 18 mesh. Incidentally, the study of the styles of crosses and other symbolism is fascinating - one can get many great ideas for kneelers this way!!

It was while designing some pieces for St. David's here in Austin that I became fascinated with the Welsh Celtic things - the encircled cross, as well as the Leeks (flower of Wales) and, of course, the knotwork. This is a very simple outline that has many possibilities for use as an ornament too.

The second scan shows a few "jewels" added maybe for interest.

The last scan shows how to simply add a "seam allowance" background, which would be done quickly and easily in basketweave.
A really competent finisher can work wonders with a shaped ornament - which brings up another subject - "Backgrounds for Shaped Ornaments" - which I'm preparing for a Possibilities, etc. tutorial. If I can't get it done by tonight, it will be for tomorrow - so stay tuned over there.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of an encircled cross I drew from the actual stone carving at the St. David's Cathedral in Wales - the Nevern Cross. It was on a tall base, so I just used the top, stitched it with bright colors - and gave it to my sister's son-in-law, who has Welsh antecedents.

When I took this photo, I had not yet stitched the background, and hadn't stitch drawn the circle around it properly. I don't remember what color I used for it.
ADDENDUM: I had forgotten, but several years ago I painted a series of needlepoint Eggs for Easter - as that is usually the season of Baptisms and Confirmation. I used the traditional bright pastels of the season, and put a cross or "Chrismon" (Christ Monogram) on each - they were pretty, and a variety of different colors, stitches, beads, metallics, etc. could dress them up a bit. I think I either discarded the file or lost it, but will look for it in a few days.
I have also found, now that I have grandchildren, that small cross ornaments or eggs make wonderful Godparent gifts.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Animal Skin Patterns: Update!

This is a "Freebies" blog, and I intend to keep it that way - including lots of fun tutorials. However, I have had lots of interest in animal skin also on the other blog, so decided to do an "e-pattern booklet" for my web page with lots of patterns to print out and trace, and projects to do with them. I don't usually like to advertise this way, but after all, I do have to spend $$ on canvas and threads and beads and paint brushes to keep me going. Take a look at the web page (Elegant Whimsies)

Meanwhile, isn't this guy gorgeous?!! I have a number of file folders full of animal skin pictures etc. but haven't done the Jaguar from Central and South America yet - his spots are rather large and a bit complex, and wouldn't do for my little pieces I've designed so far - but what an elegant sofa pillow it would make!!
P.S. I would really like to hear what you would like to see on "Freebies, etc." that you can't find anywhere - I need guidance in developing new free projects and patterns! Just leave comments, if you will, and I'll get busy.