St. Patrick’s Day sampling

Photo by kkmarais on Flickr

Photo by kkmarais on Flickr

If you are in the mood to do some green or Irish-themed stitching these days, I found just a few items that you may like. As you know, a Google search will turn up a ton of such designs. I thought I’d share a few that I found that I liked.

Letters Leprechuans Luck

Letters, Leprechauns, and Luck from Blue Ribbon Designs

The cross stitch design I chose is Letters, Leprechauns, and Luck from Blue Ribbon Designs. The model is stitched on 40ct linen with a mix of DMC and Sampler Threads. It could be easily stitched on 32ct or 28ct linen, it will just be bigger. The Sampler Threads could be switched out for similar DMC, but you’d lose some of that hand-dyed effect.

Glitz and Glamour Emerald from DebBee's Designs

Glitz and Glamour Emerald from DebBee’s Designs

 

The needlepoint design I really liked for St. Patrick’s Day is this gorgeous green counted canvaswork piece from DebBee’s Designs. If you visit her site, you will see so many gorgeous designs that you won’t know where to begin. Her Glitz and Glamour designs each focus on one particular shade of a color (for the most part), and this one is Emerald.

Free shamrock square from from FreePatterns.com

Free shamrock square from from FreePatterns.com

Finally, I found this really pretty shamrock square design that is lacier and different from most of the chunkier designs I’ve found. This is a free design from FreePatterns.com, but you have to be a member (it’s free) in order to download it. I’d probably stitch it in a more green and less sage color than is here, but I like the design itself very much.

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WIPocalypse – March 2015

March WIPocalypse

March question: If money – and time – were not limiters, what projects would be on your stitching bucket list?

Since money would be not object, I would have the space and proper equipment to work on larger projects. I’d also have the money to buy the canvas and wool for a needlepoint rug – and the time to make it. I’ve always wanted to make one, but can’t imagine how long it would take me and how expensive it would be to stitch and then finish. Then there is no way I would allow anyone to actually walk on it, so I would need the wall space to hang it. I have seen some gorgeous rugs on display at some shops, but – for once – I’m being realistic about my time and money.

Projects to start in 2015 – progress since 2/10/15

Stitching on 32ct. Belfast Misty Blue

Stitching on 32ct. Belfast Misty Blue

Cross Stitch
2001 Mirabilia Cherub – started
Blossom Harvest – started
Mermaid of Atlantis – started
Queen Mermaid – started
South Seas Mermaid Woodland Fairy – started
Touching the Autumn Sky – started
Amethyst Fairy – started
Enchanted Dreamer  Christmas Wishes – started

 

Crochet
10 infinity scarves for gifts or to sell – not started
Temperature scarf – ongoing
Moogly’s 2015 Crochet-Along afghan – restarted with new colors and yarn, only block 1 is finished
special project I need to finish with a friend in February – FINISHED! It was a rainbow stole a friend of mine and I at church stitched for our pastor’s first commitment ceremony. 

Projects to finish in 2015 – progress since 2/10/15

Cross Stitch
Garden Verses (Mirabilia) – not a stitch since 2/10
Angel of the New Dawn (Mirabilia) – not a stitch since 2/10
Sleeping Beauty (Mirabilia) – not a stitch since 2/10
Mermaids of the Deep Blue (Mirabilia) – not a stitch since 2/10
Quaker Diamonds (Rosewood Manor) – not a stitch since 2/10

Using Planet Earth silk, Threadworx 6-ply cotton, Kreinik, and Rainbow Gallery threads

Using Planet Earth silk, Threadworx 6-ply cotton, Kreinik, and Rainbow Gallery threads

Needlepoint (I don’t remember designers at the moment) – haven’t stitched on any needlepoint projects
Geisha Cats (picture at top, just need to finish the ribbon embroidery and beading in “hair”)
Chinese Dragon – some progress
St. Basil’s – some progress
Santa stocking – not a stitch

 

 

Uses Caron Simply Soft

Uses Caron Simply Soft

Crochet
Tim’s afghan – not a stitch
Temperature scarf – nothing in the last week, but progress before that
Moogly’s 2015 Crochet-Along afghan – restarted with new colors and yarn, only block 1 is finished
Baby blanket (soooo close, can finish it in a night or two) – finished in February, but gave it away before I got a final picture

Other projects (there will always be some!)
Three charity scarves – finished in February
Four more charity scarves — finished in Feburary
Receiving blanket for charity – started
prayer shawl for charity – started
Fairie Treasures – no progress since 2/10

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday 3-4-15

I’ve been getting a lot more done on my needlepoint projects this week, though I started one that I had no intention of beginning for quite some time. Funny how that happens. Long story short, I couldn’t find my threads for my St. Basil’s canvas, so I started another canvas that is similar. Then, I found my hiding place for my threads — a “safe place” I had obviously forgotten — so, I also worked on that one. I also started crocheting a shawl and a new Mirabilia.

StBasil_full_3-2-15 StBasil_detail_3-2-15I’m using all Planet Earth silks for St. Basil’s, except for the two Kreinik gold braids I’m using for decoration on the buildings. If you needlepoint and haven’t used Planet Earth threads, I highly suggest you give them a try. They have stranded silk, as well as other types of threads. I usually use the single ply, which is ideal for 13ct canvas, and would probably work well for 14ct canvas. I bought all the colors when I originally bought the canvas, though I will probably need to purchase more black, blue, and tan for the borders and sky. Buying all those colors in silk cost a pretty penny, but the threads are so gorgeous and easy to work with that it was worth it. I normally use lots of different stitches, but with all the detailed colors in this one, I decided it made more sense to work in basketweave, with a little texture in the sky using the Byzantine stitch.

Russian_full_3-2-15 Russian_detail1_3-2-15

I’m also using Planet Earth silk for the other canvas that I just call “Russian.” I think it’s a more whimsical take on St. Basil’s, but I’ll confuse them if I call them the same thing. I’m debating whether or not to stitch the “clouds” that look like waves. I bought Rainbow Gallery Flair in two shades of blue and in white to stitch it, but I’m not sure if it will add to the design or take away from it. It adds a flair of whimsy, but I could also stitch the entire sky in navy without the light colors showing through. Either way, I’m not stitching the stars in the sky but will instead use some beads for stars. Some of the building tops will also use Rainbow Gallery Neon Rays ribbon. For example, that’s what I used on the green part of the yellow and green turret. Right now, I’m just playing around with various stitches, but I like it a lot so far.

Mermaid of Atantis 3-4-15

As part of my 15 Miras in 15 project, I started Mermaid of Atlantis on 32ct Lagoon Belfast from Picture This Plus. My Kreinks and Caron Waterlillies are on order, so her hair looks a little strange at the moment. Since I mentioned how much I like Planet Earth silks earlier, I feel I should also say how great it is to stitch with Waterlilies – it’s like buttah! Originally, this was a challenge to start/continue with 15 Mirabilias the first 15 days of January. Well, that ship has sailed, but I’ve decided to keep to the basic idea and keep them going or start them all sometime in 2015. A few are on my WIPocalypse list to finish this year so that I actually make some progress and am not just starting projects (which I tend to do).

blue shawl 3-4-15I also started crocheting a shawl for a gift, using some beautiful yarn I bought at Loop a few weeks ago. This is Berroco Modern Cotton in Bluebird. It’s 60 percent cotton and 40 percent rayon, so it has a nice sheen to it and is a nice lightweight worsted yarn. That was my first time in that shop, which is down on South Street, and it was a great time. A good friend took me, as she is a regular there. The people working there were very helpful, and I will definitely be returning. As for the yarn, I love the color and drape of it, but it’s a bit more slippery than I’m used to — rayon gets me again! I feel like my tension is all over the place on this one and I may take it out and start over. It took me a while to get a feel for the yarn and the areas between the shells, so I think if I start over it will look better. It will be a gift for someone I care about very much, so I want it to look as good as possible. (And now that I got away from it for a day and see the photo, there is something funky going on in that third row. Yeah, it’s comin’ out!)

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday 2-25-15

 

New yarn for CAL

New yarn for CAL

CAL  square #1

CAL square #1

I’ve only been working on a few projects since last Wednesday. Much of my craft time went to Moogly’s CAL. As usual, I am unable to leave well enough alone, and restarted it. I stitched the first two blocks (she’s up to #4), and got stuck on the third block. I was going to move onto the fourth block and come back to #3, then I realized that I just wasn’t very happy with the bulkiness of the squares. I think next year I may go with a DK yarn, but since I was in a hurry to replace my yarn for this one, I went to Michael’s and – lo, and behold! – Caron Simply Soft was on sale. That pretty much clinched it, since Caron Simply Soft is a tad thinner than the worsted I was originally using. I also changed the colors and how I’m stitching them: Each square will have a variegated center with one color for the rest. I think that will be easier for me, as this is my first blanket made of elaborate (for me) squares.

So, I have finished the first block and will eventually get caught up on the rest. I will use the old yarn for some pretty scarves, as I really do like the color combinations. I’m using a similar combination for my new one, as you’ll see. I only bought one skein each of the old yarn, which is good. I’ll continue buying the Caron as needed.

Chinese dragon - full - 2-24-15

Almost a picture of the full canvas. The side borders are identical, so you get the idea.

Chinese dragon - closeup dragon - 2-24-15

Detail of the small amount of dragon I’ve stitched using various metallics. I love it!

Chinese dragon - border - 2-24-15

Detail of the border, stitched in Planet Earth silk. It’s mostly basketweave but I’ve used a few special stitches to give it a little added interest.

Other than that, I worked one night on my needlepoint Chinese Dragon. I haven’t worked on him in quite some time and forgot he beautiful he is. I’m looking forward to seeing him stitched in all his metallic glory. I took a few pictures so that you can see the whole project and some detail. I’m using Planet Earth silk for the border, Threadworx cotton floss for the inside background, and Kreinik, Threadworx, and Rainbow Gallery threads for the actual dragon. I don’t want the background to have too much of that stripey look you can sometimes get when working with variegated floss. So, using four strands at a time, I reverse two strands when I separate the strands, and skip around in one area just a little to give it more of a natural look.

Blossom Harvest 2-24-15

Second day on Blossom Harvest

 

Finally, I got a little time in on Blossom Harvest last night. I finished her face, except for the backstitching of her lips and a little of her hair because I don’t have those colors at the moment, and that always helps me to move on to the rest. I know other people are the opposite, preferring to stitch the face last, but there’s something about those pretty faces that inspire me to (eventually) finish the designs. The fabric I’m using is a little more blue than it appears in the picture. I’m looking forward to finishing the stitching so that I can add the big beads to her hair and get rid of those holes.

This is the first time in years that I’ve been able to do a little in all three of my main hobbies, mainly because my job hours are so low. So, while I hate having to look for work and not having much money, it’s given me more time for my hobbies. I’m very thankful for the part-time job I have that keeps me working in my field of choice.

Scotch, Hold the Ice

My timing with this is interesting — coldest weather on record for so much of us, and I’m sharing Christmas designs. Well, they are beautiful, and the Scotch stitch is a great base stitch to learn. You may want to imbibe in a different kind of Scotch if you are stuck inside during this crazy winter, but I also hope you will check these out. 🙂 I also found a project that is not affiliated with winter and is a great stash-buster.

Scotch is one of my favorite box stitches; it is easy, covers ground — er, canvas — quickly, lends itself to many variations, and is easy to compensate at the edge of the stitching area. I found some great legitimately free designs that use Scotch at Nuts About Needlepoint. The first two could be quick stitches for your Christmas tree next year, or for someone else’s tree. The other is appropriate for any season. All three designs have great instructions, just follow the links.

Mini stocking

Design by Janet M. Perry

You can stitch the Learn a Stitch Mini-Sock in the colors shown or whatever solid and/or variegated colors you wish. The outline, stitch directions, and materials used are all available for free. It’s a great little project for learning variations on the Scotch stitch.

patchwork-xmas-tree

Design by Janet M. Perry

Another opportunity to use a variation of the stitch is the Scotch Stitch Needlepoint Christmas Tree. This uses a pretty cool version of the stitch, called Genny’s Scotch, in honor of Genny Morrow who designed beautiful quilt-like needlepoint designs. It also includes a reverse version of the stitch to make the tree and add some additional interest to the background and border. Instead of all the stitches going across the full square, the longer stitches are divided into two shorter stitches, which gives this design an interesting texture. You could stitch the whole project in standard and reverse Scotch, but this version adds just a little “something” to the look of the project.

wedding-day-quilt-portrait-300x291

Design by Janet M. Perry

Finally, here’s the non-winter stashbuster project I mentioned, Wedding Day Quilt Portrait. It’s a pretty and simple quilt design and you can use whatever colors you’d like. Sometimes I start stash-buster projects with the intent of truly getting rid of extra threads in my inventory, but I end up wanting specific colors and end up buying more. Hopefully, you are more strong-willed than I. You could also make it larger or smaller or more rectangular to fit a specific project you may have in mind.

There are a lot of free needlepoint designs out there, but I caution you to use your discretion, as there are also many designs that are “free” from websites run by people who have stolen them from the designers. It’s important to our art that we honor the designers who create our lovely needlepoint, crochet, knit, cross stitch, and other designs by only downloading charts that are truly gifts to us from the designers, and purchase those that are not meant to be free.

Cool stuff I had to share!

I woke up at 6:00 am this morning, which is always annoying on a Saturday when I don’t have to be up early. So, after trying to go back to sleep for a while, I decided I should just get up and get some things done — look at my store’s flyer to see what’s on sale and use it to plan my meals and grocery list, pay some bills, get caught up on my temperature scarf, and start that second block for the CAL before I get behind schedule. So, what do I do? I go online to check Facebook and a few blogs. Well, while doing that I found some great projects that I just had to share. Honestly, I found one last night on Facebook and shared it there, but I think it deserves another mention.

Please check out these beautiful projects/ideas that I found and am sharing instead of doing something more constructive. (Well, I did all the grocery stuff and paid some bills, so that’s something.)

Also, I want to be clear that I am not affiliated with any company or person I’m mentioning below, just a fan.

Mermaid Me Blanket

mermaid blanketThis is an absolutely adorable design from The Felted Button! You can stitch it using any colors you wish, but I have to say that these are my colors. It’s a great idea for that special girl in your life, no matter her age. It’s a blanket, not a cocoon, so feet and legs will not struggle to get free. And it’s so sparkly! Instructions say it’s for experienced stitchers, but I think I will still give it a shot sometime soon. The pattern is available for a nominal fee on CraftsyEtsy, and Ravelry. Susan’s blog is full of all sorts of colorful projects.

The Learning Sampler Chart

LearningSamplerNorthern Expressions Needlework designs are unique and use color and specialty stitches beautifully. I purchased their Twisted Band Sampler a little while back and bought threads and fabric for it — and one day, I’m actually going to stitch it. I have looked at the instructions for Twisted Band Sampler and they are very detailed on many pages, and I’m sure the chart for The Learning Sampler is no different. You may view a larger, more detailed photo and purchase it at their Etsy shop. While you are there, peruse their other designs. You won’t be disappointed.

Create Travel Photographs Through Embroidery (please click the link to see the gorgeous photos)

This is more of “what a great idea!” than a specific design. Teresa Lim, artist, says this helps her become part of the environment, rather than just someone traveling through. This could be a good way to work on stitching what you see, without a chart or specific stitches in mind – just go with the flow. Some of you are fantastic at this, and others are more like me and have a hard time with it. I think it could be good practice for people like me who are trying new ways of using a needle and thread, and a very fun project for those of you already skilled at doing so. I think next time I visit my old stomping grounds in the Finger Lakes or my sister in San Francisco, I may try this. Of course, there are some beautiful places in Philly I could do this, too. Maybe this spring I will spend a morning or afternoon in Rittenhouse Square.

Throwback Thursday

SmokyMemorial

I really like some of the themes I see making the rounds on various blogs. Some of them really don’t transfer well to what I talk about here, but I think I can make Throwback Thursday definitely work.I snagged it from Ouch!! My back hurts!!, so if you decide to share the same on your blog, please post back on that blog to share the memories – and feel free to post the link here, too.

So, for this week’s Throwback Thursday, I’m sharing the short story of my little needlepoint kitty that is my main photo for the blog. I made this a few years back as a memorial to my Smoky Cat, my Russian Blue who I had to put to sleep in December, 2011, He was 16.5 years old and was full of personality, even up to his last moments. I saw this canvas, which had a black cat on it, and I figured the Rainbow Gallery Velvet* would cover the black nicely so that it wouldn’t show through, and it worked. The original eyes were yellow, but I changed them to green to match Smoky’s eyes. The background is the Arrowhead stitch using Caron Watercolours and Rainbow Gallery Flair. I used Kreinik metallics for the eyes. I really like the combination of the four textures. I had it finished at Rittenhouse Needlepoint in Philadelphia, where they always do a great job.

I have my little memorial (it’s about the size of a postcard) hanging on the wall where I can see it every day and remember that beautiful obnoxious kitty who kept us on our toes.

*Threads in links may not be the exact color used in the project.

2013 Goals: Combination of WIPocalypse and StRIP

As I said in my 2012 Recap, I have set some goals for 2013. Even thought it’s still December, I figure getting a head start on them is a good idea. I’m combining WIPocalypse 2013 with my StRIP list (explained here) to help keep me motivated to stitch my works in progress (WIPs) and not be distracted by all the new stuff there is out there – or by the unstitched canvases and designs in my collection.

Geisha Cats April 2012

Geisha Cats. Stitching done, working on beading and ribbon embroidery in “hair.”

Needlepoint WIPocalypse and StRIP

Finish: Sleeping mouse, cat in star ornament, Faberge egg, San Francisco block. Start the restitch of my red and black design for a friend.

Finish: Geisha cats, Santa in car stocking, and Cat in snowsuit stocking: Start Rabbit stocking

Finish: French brick, mouse on bookshelf, and purple Russian ornament: Start Ruth Schmuff’s ladies in hats

Finish: US Travel frog

Progress to 50% finished: Jungle Cats, Chinese Dragon, St. Basil’s

Cross Stitch WIPocalypse and StRIP:

Finish: Aqua Topiary Ribbon, Angel of the New Dawn, Tsunami Sampler. Start Angel of the Sea

Progress to 75%: Sleeping Beauty, Garden Verses, Oh Christmas Tree

I’m hoping these aren’t too ambitious, but the only way I’ll know is to write it down and see if I can do it. I will post before & after pictures each time I post on the full moon. 2013 dates are:

January 26
February 25
March 27
April 25
May 24
June 23
July 22
August 20
September 19
October 18
November 17
December 17

2012 Recap

So, I abandoned my blog for a while this past year, and also didn’t pay attention to that StRIP list that I put together. Since June, I’ve been really focusing on my health — working out, cooking for a few hours on the weekend for the week — and haven’t stitched much at all since then. I’m working on finding a balance, which is always difficult.

However, my big accomplishment for 2012 is that I finished the Edie & Ginger 3D pig – just last night! It has over 30 pieces and each piece has composite stitches and was most challenging project I’ve stitched, yet. It will be a while before I can save the money to actually have it finished into the pig, but I’m so thrilled to have finished the stitching. (Note: the pig in the linked blog was the model from Edie & Ginger. Some of my colors are slightly different, but you get the idea.)

GGMorganite320

Copyright DebBee Designs

I also started stitching Morganite from DebBee’s Designs Glitz and Glamor series for a class I plan to start teaching in the spring. I have also stitched a few small models for Rittenhouse Needlepoint. I really need to remember to take pictures of these, but I like to see them when they are finished at the shop. I hope to get some pictures soon.

So, all in all, not a big stitching year, but I made progress in other areas in my life (down a size and feel healthier). As much as I’d love to just stitch and read all the time, I still have to do what’s best for my health and I have my job. As I said, working on finding as much balance as possible, something I think we all struggle with.

Stay tuned for my 2013 goals post.

In addition, I designed and stitched a piece for a beginners sampler class that used different types of stitches. I had a good time creating it and teaching the class. I’m restitching it on red canvas for a friend of mine as a purse insert, and I would have chosen red canvas to begin with if I had thought ahead enough. On the original I used white canvas, and some of the white shows through where the vertical and horizontal stitches are. I’m still pretty happy with the outcome, as it was my first stab at designing anything on canvas. (I thought I had a picture but I don’t seem to, nor can I find one. Woefully behind on taking pictures of my stitching!)

Buyer Beware: DMC Blanc vs. B5200

If I remember correctly, several years ago DMC started producing B5200 because many people felt their white (or “blanc,” as DMC is based in France) wasn’t bright enough. Many used DMC for most colors, but chose to use competitor Anchor’s white because it was brighter than DMC’s blanc. Then came B5200, which DMC calls “bright white.” It is a brighter white, but it’s not always easy to tell which you are working with — until you use the wrong one on an in-progress piece of needlework and, hopefully, soon realize your error because you see the shade difference.

However, while helping customers at the needlepoint shop pick out colors, I’ve found that many people do not realize there is a difference and they just grab whatever white DMC pearle or stranded floss that they see. Big mistake! They may look the same if you aren’t looking closely, but on your project you will see the difference, poassibly after you have stitched quite a bit.

If you must buy more white for a project that you are working on, bring the project with you if you are not sure which color you have been using. To be on the safe side, buy a few of both shades — you’re bound to use them sooner or later, and they are pretty inexpensive. Bright white is nice, but you may want a more subdued white (but not quite ecru) for some projects. Be sure to actually check the label on the thread and not just go by what the caddy is marked.