It's Finally Finished!

After a concerted, dedicated push, I finally finished stitching Morning Glory. Hallelujah! I was beginning to think I was stuck in a loop and would never put in the last stitch. I'm pleased with the way it came out; I really wasn't sure until I got down to the bottom right corner that was all one color (and extremely tedious to stitch). Without further ado, here it is!
The central image, the actual flower, is stitched in full cross stitches with two threads of overdyed cotton (Carrie's Creation Threads and Crescent Colours) over two threads. The background is stitched in half cross stitches with one thread of cotton (DMC, Anchor, and one Weeks Dye Works floss) over two threads. I used WDW 3550 Williamsburg Blue instead of DMC 310 Black for the darkest shadow. The black was just too harsh.
The fabric is 32-ct Silkweaver Silver Mist Belfast Linen. Even though there is technically no fabric unstitched in the design, I think using a single strand of floss in half stitches allows the fabric to add some depth that would have been missing if I used a solid white or off-white.
I don't think I'll be adding a border to this, but that may change. I'm going to mull it over for a while. I still have to show it to the Thursday morning stitching group. The Tuesday night group saw it almost completed with just a small trapezoidal shape unstitched in the bottom right corner. At that point, the possibility of a border was still on the shelf, not even on the back burner. I'm toying with putting a border all around that will allow the fabric to show a bit and suggest a lattice effect, but that may be a bit much.
This may be one that I frame without a mat because the fabric is so nice and could make a nice self-mat. I'll have to wait until I'm actually at the frame shop to see what Clive, the Brit, has to offer. Since I'm planning to give this to my sister for her birthday, I have to take her taste into consideration too.


The UPS Man Cometh

     Yesterday, the UPS man delivered a large box to my door. Yippee! Inside were two Lowery Workstands, one for me and one for a customer. If you're not familiar with this floorstand, you're missing out on an elegantly simple tool. I don't know why I waited so long to get one for myself.
     Here it is as assembled out of the box. There are three basic elements of the stand: the base, the post, and the arm.
     The attachments include the daisy dish, which is optional and can be used to hold needles, tacks, tape measure, M&Ms, whatever your small stitching essentials may be, and the clamp, in this case a side clamp. They also make a corner clamp that is useful with stretcher bars and QSnaps, perhaps even large hoops. I like the side clamp because it's good for any type of frame.
     The base of the stand allows for much flexibility in placement. It can slide under a chair and is especially nice if you like to sit in a recliner. I set it up in position by a recliner (not actually where I sit and stitch but good to illustrate).
    The Lowery is simple to transport and can be packed in a suitcase easily when traveling by bus, train, or plane. (I don't recommend putting it in a carry-on to go through security though.) Simply remove the attachments and separate the three basic elements, and you have a fairly flat, compact package.
     I'm so excited about having my own stand at last. I really want to just sit and stitch for a while, but the office beckons me to get back in there and make it functional instead of a file warehouse.


How Do You Stitch Revisited

     When I do canvaswork or hand-painted canvas, I always use stretcher bars. Someone brought to my shop a canvas to be stretched and finished as a small (dollhouse) rug. Can you say "parallelogram"? There were no squared corners. Stretching it was a real challenge, and the person doing the stretching (my partner at the time) was heard to mutter some choice words about it. Every time she took out the pins, while it might have less acute angles, it would gravitate back to the original shape. I don't know how many times she had to pin, spray, dry, repeat. It never did get totally squared up, but it was a vast improvement. I have been told if one does basketweave instead of continental or tent stitch, there is less distortion. I'm not experienced enough to know. I just know that if you put your canvas on a frame, you can pretty much eliminate that skewed effect.
     As far as I know, there are two basic frameworks to use: stretcher bars and scroll (or roller, as I've heard some people say) frames.
     Stretcher bars are the simplest, least expensive way to go. You have to buy them in pairs to match your canvas size, put them together, square them up, then tack the canvas on, keeping it as taut as possible. A woman who worked for me for a while passed along a tip for squaring your stretcher bars: place the corner in the corner of a door frame and knock it to fit snugly. This assumes that your door frame is square, which it should be. There are two styles of stretcher bars, regular and mini. The difference is the thickness of the bar. The regular size is 3/4", and the mini, 1/2". I generally use the minis for canvases up to 12" or 13" max. I just don't think they're sturdy enough for the larger size canvas.
     Having said that they are the simplest, least expensive way to go, I have to tell you about a very (relatively speaking) expensive type of stretcher bar that pays for itself over years and years of use: Evertite Stitchery Frames. These are made of a higher quality wood than the others and have the added advantage of being adjustable. Normally, as you work your piece, it will gradually loosen the tension, requiring untacking and retacking from time to time. The Evertite is made so that by using the "T Tool," you can tighten the tension without removing the canvas and retacking it. These stretchers are excellent for a piece that will be on the frame over an extended time. But from what I've seen, once you try them, you want them in all sizes for all of your projects. I haven't used them myself, but they never stayed in the shop for long.
     As for scroll or roller frames, they're pretty much the same as those I talked about for counted thread and cross-stitch. Generally, you want to use the ones that are more heavy duty, with a diameter of perhaps 3/4".
     I'm sure there are other ways to stitch canvas. These are what I've come across in my relatively recent foray into needlepoint and canvaswork. Please let me know of anything I've missed.


A New Beginning

     Phew! Glad that's over. It's been an intense week or two. I finally got everything out of the shop on Wednesday at noon. Confession: I still haven't emptied the last load from my car. I have three pieces of furniture on my side porch, awaiting purchase, or carting away if it comes to that. My home office has a couple of paths among the boxes, to the phone and to the bathroom. The basement, oddly, isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Bags and bags of threads, boxes of patterns, baskets of fabric. Ack! Where to begin? I think the office, since I can't avoid seeing it every day. The basement? Out of sight, out of mind. Haha!
     It was a real treat to go to the Tuesday night stitching group as just another stitcher. I did a little stitching, a little chatting, a little just sitting there enjoying the hubbub surrounding me. I had hoped to join some of the Thursday morning group at Panera but opted to visit my niece, back from Spain with family, including 8-month-old David whom we are just now meeting. Another confession: I also overslept Thursday morning and just couldn't get myself in gear till around 11 or 11:30. I'll be there this Thursday, though.
     As for stitching, I'm ready to apply myself to those DIPs. I think I have a color change to make on the Morning Glory. There's a really vivid green in the background that looks out of place right now. I'm going to stitch a little more of the colors around it to see if it gets balanced out. If not, I'll be rippin'.
     The Gingko, or It Is What It Is, is screaming at me from the recesses of my brain. There's not that much left. I just have to apply myself and chart those two little side pieces. How hard can it be?