9.25.2012

It's Finished!

     It's happy dance time! I finally finished stitching "Stella Polaris" by StitchPlay Designs, a cyberclass I started in June.


     Isn't she pretty? I really love the way this worked up. I used Caron Collection Watercolours Wheat Fields as the basis for the colorway. Although the purples are definitely part of my usual color palette, orange is rarely something I go for.

     Those of you who are familiar with my stitching history are probably astonished at the speed (yes, I call this speed) with which I finished this piece! Once I grasped that silly double fan doubled stitch, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. It was mostly a matter of making the time to stitch. In fact, I finished it in a marathon session Sunday night/Monday early morning. I could see the end and decided to stitch as long as I could without making mistakes. (No, I didn't go over this with an eye for finding any mistakes. Any mistakes are personal design decisions, à la undocumented features in computer software.)

     So what am I doing now? I'm so glad you asked! At my ANG chapter meeting on Thursday, we started Marilyn Owen's "Ornament Quartet" from the Chapter Project Book. We could choose one of four different designs (or all four, of course). I selected the string art design (no surprise there). Here's my progress (all done last night, as I had to rip out what I had done at the meeting because the thread wasn't right):


     I'm using one of Nature's Palette's beautiful hand-painted canvases, Coffee Metallic, as my ground. The threads are Planet Earth Fiber 6-Ply Silk Hand Paint, Gloriana Princess Perle Petite, Kreinik #8 Braid, and Caron Collection Soie Cristale. The starting point for my thread decisions was the Planet Earth silk. After Dawn and my visit to the TNNA market in Baltimore a few weeks ago, I contacted Planet Earth and requested some samples. This is one of the ones they sent, and I just swooned! I needed to use it, and right away. How fortuitous that the chapter project called for a 6-strand floss. I had also wanted to use this rich brown canvas, and they played very well together. I pulled the happily coordinating Princess Perle Petite from another WIP (which someday I may get back to and for which I'll have to get more of this), then picked up the Soie and Kreinik (thanks to Donna for having just the right color to convince me that my first choice was wrong).

     There's not much more to this ornament. The Walnetto is repeated on the other three sides of the center motif, there's a Brick Couching stitch filling in the sides, and Mini Crescents fill in the corners. Will I finish this as an ornament? Stay tuned. You never know.

     I'm also still plugging away at "Carnival" from Seminar. I do love this piece and hope to finish it in the near future. Now if only I could apply myself to "Stars for a New Millennium."

     Kthxbai.

9.16.2012

Post-Seminar Catching Up

Goodness! Has it really been over two months since my last post? I'm chagrinned. I haven't been doing a lot of stitching. It's been somewhat sporadic, with bursts of energy followed by stagnation. I'm not sure why, although I have been reading a lot. In fact, I spent most of August reading because I managed to borrow four (or was it five?) books from the library (having intended to just pick up one that was on hold) and had to finish them all within three weeks. Yikes! I managed to get them all back on time, but I did end up quitting one after about 100 pages because I just couldn't get into it.

On to the stitching news.

I made pretty good progress on "Stella Polaris" for a few weeks, before getting bogged down with the double fan doubled stitch. It wasn't the under, over, under, over, then go down (or is that over, under, over, under, then go down?) that got me so much as having three threaded needles going and keeping track of what went over or under which color. I tried doing this stitch at my Tuesday night stitching group and had to quit early on. Then I never went back to it. As it turned out, I was psyching myself out about this. Once I applied myself on Tuesday last week, I managed to complete the first of four large diamond areas containing this stitch. Huzzah!


I'm very happy with how this is turning out and hope to press ahead and finish it up in the next few weeks.

The last week of August was wonderful! I attended my first ANG National Seminar, held in Philadelphia this year. It was a drivable distance, so I and two friends decided to make it our first but we hope not last. We spent five days immersed in the world of needlepoint, surrounded by hundreds of people who understood our fascination with threads, canvas, and the artistry of needlework. If you have the opportunity, you simply must go at least once in your life!

I took two two-day classes, leaving a day free between them. The first class, I and my companions all took together. Toni Gerdes taught her stunning design "Carnival," the beauty of which wasn't truly apparent until we got in class and opened up our kits. The threads and canvas were stunning in shades of pink, coral, yellow, blue, and green, all pulled from the Caron Collection Carnival Watercolours. This is where I am after the two-day class and a couple of short stitching sessions:


Even this picture doesn't do justice to the colors of this piece. Our canvases had the outline drawn and several key points marked by slightly enlarged holes. This made it so much easier to get right to stitching, since a great deal of counting was eliminated. Thank you, Toni! She was a great teacher, giving us many great tips and explaining things thoroughly (sometimes more than once). Note the large diamond-shaped area in the upper right portion of the canvas. Does that look familiar? It should. It's a variation on the double fan doubled, and I'm sure that doing this one finally made it clear to me how to do the one in "Stella Polaris."

The other class took me out of my comfort zone. "Purple Mountains and Golden Wheat" is a beautiful landscape designed and taught by Lynn Payette. I learned how to iron! Seriously, the whole first day was spent ironing Wonder Under onto lots of little rectangles of sheer fabric in a range of purples and golds, then figuring out which fabric would go where to create the mountains and fields of wheat that formed the base of the design, cutting each piece to match the drawing on the Congress Cloth, and finally permanently fusing the fabric to the cloth. I didn't actually finish this up till the next morning. This was what I took the class for. I wanted to learn how to do this, how to visualize and then execute the effect. This is what I had done at the end of the second day:


Probably doesn't look like much, does it? Let me put the viewfinder included with our kit in place.


I think that's a little better. As you can see, I didn't get very far with the stitching. I did learn a great technique for beading that keeps the beads firmly in place along with how to make a cord from rayon (shudder) floss. But I spent most of my time creating the landscape base. Lynn is a very interesting and patient teacher. I feel like I really learned a lot about the process of creating this piece and hope to implement the technique in other projects. Will I ever finish this? Probably not. But you never know.

Btw, here are the completed models for both classes.



As you can see. I have a long way to go. I do hope to finish "Carnival," and you never know, I may get inspired to finish "Purple Mountains."

Kthxbai.

7.09.2012

A Finish and a Start

     Shortly after my last post, I finally completed the stitching of "Flyways." Yay! It feels so good to finish this at last.


     Here it is from another perspective.


     I decided to put it in a Sudberry Small Square Tray and give it to my eldest sister for her birthday, which was July 3.


     So I wrapped the completed canvas still on its stretcher bars, gave it to her, then wrapped it up again and brought it home to put in the tray that I'll be ordering in a day or two. She's used to this kind of gifting from me.

     On Sunday, July 1, my Stella Polaris cyberclass officially started. I refrained from doing anything other than the basting before receiving the first official lesson from Michael Boren and Carole Lake. I thought it would be nice to see what special notes, tips, and suggestions they'd provide before doing any stitching, and I'm so glad I did. These two are a hoot! In addition to providing incredible information and supplemental materials, they make a great comedy team. The back-and-forth banter is perfect, and it makes it seem like you're really in a classroom.

     So here's my first lesson, completed mid-week (I think). (Hey! I'm old. I'm allowed to be a little vague with details. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking with it.)


     I like the way the colors are working, and yes, the variegated thread is supposed to have that stripey look. Carole and Michael said so!

     The next class, which I received yesterday but haven't started yet, uses the accent color that I've been waffling about. After looking at several more alternatives on Tuesday night (I was wrong; I finished it on Monday or Tuesday night), which I had looked at with my stitching peeps the week before, I decided on an entirely different thread and color, Soy Luster in a tealy blue.


     I really like this color and just hope that the Soy Luster isn't too thin a thread to use for the Walneto and Arrow Amadeus stitches that are layered on top of these basketweaved squares. If it's too thin, I may have to see if there's a Presencia #8 pearl cotton that is close to this color.

     It's funny. I really wanted the pink to be the right accent, but when I looked at it on top of this center section, it just looked kind of bland and insipid. (Okay, that's redundant but I think that says it all.) Oh well.

     Kthxbai.