April WIPocalypse – Part One

Which specialty stitches do you love doing on projects?  Which do you dread?

I like most specialty stitches. I started learning them while stitching designs from Just Nan and the Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issues, and both had great instructions for all sorts of stitches. When I started to needlepoint a few years back, I learned how to use special stitches to make painted needlepoint canvases more interesting when I stitched them, and I have reference books I use for ideas regarding stitches that are good for sky, water, buildings, etc. I love the look of a needlepoint canvas with different stitches.

My favorite stitches vary, depending on what I’m doing. I tend to like Rice, Herringbone, Algerian Eye, and Rays when working on linen. When I’m needlepointing a painted canvas, I often find myself using Byzantine, Diagonal Mosaic, Cashmere, and Scotch stitches. I sometimes use “light stitching” on painted canvas, where the effect is more about giving the color that is already on the canvas a bit more interest than to completely cover it.

I also like to learn new crochet stitches, though I’m not as accomplished a crocheter as I’d like. I want to learn Tunisian Crochet and how to make Broomstick Lace. I’m also starting to work with crochet thread and smaller hooks, so we’ll see how that goes.

As far as stitches I dread, there are only a few:

  • I refuse to make Bullion Knots – and I have a good reason. I made lots of them on a freestyle piece I made several years ago, and something about the way I was making them gave me tendonitis in one hand, and it took a long time to go away. I love the look of them, but it’s just not worth it.
  • My Queen stitches look horrid on linen, but not as bad on canvas, for some reason. There is probably a trick to making these that I haven’t yet learned.
  • I was scared to death of Hardanger for years, but took one of Julie Norton‘s classes at Celebration of Needlework two years ago and am a little better, though I should probably take a refresher course or sit down with my work, as I haven’t worked on it for a while.

Crochet – Keyhole Ripple Stitch

prayer shawl - keyhole ripple stitchI’ve tried a few ripple stitches, but this is my favorite because I don’t have to worry about increases and decreases. I also like the look of the “keyhole,” as it adds a little airiness to project. I quickly finished this prayer shawl using the Keyhole Ripple Stitch, a solid yarn and a variegated yarn. I plan on using this a lot in the future, and I think it would also make pretty scarves using various types of yarn.


I found easy instructions at New Stitch A Day. The blog provides a plethora of crochet and knitting tutorials and allows fellow bloggers to share them. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it.

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!)

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.


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.


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.

Cluster Stitches – The Mindless Scarf

Mindless scarf

Photo of Mindless Scarf by Nicole Ross, who also created the free instructions found at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mindless-scarf

I really like cluster stitches that are easy and quick to stitch, especially this time of year. These types of projects are great when you are trying to finish holiday gifts that sneaked up on you while also finishing a last-minute baby blanket – for which I’m using a different but quick-to-stitch cluster stitch. Even a beginner can stitch The Mindless Scarf pretty quickly, only need to know sc, dc, and ch. The first row is stitched into the starting chain, so that has to be counted. After that, you simply create the cluster stitch in the ch2 section of each cluster. The first few rows may look a little off-kilter because of the scalloping on the sides, but don’t let that deter you. After a few more rows, that scalloping will take on the look of the pattern and is very pretty.

variegated mindless scarf

Mindless Scarf by cuddlelump at Ravelry:. Click picture for link.

This pattern will leave you with a straight edge on end of the scarf where you began stitching. Some people immediately turn it around and stitch the first row on the outside of the turning chain to give it that scalloped effect. Others will wait until the end and add a row there. I’m going to add a row there when I’m done, attaching it to the beginning tale. I will post about that when I do it. I’ve also seen this stitched with variegated yarn, and the effect is spectacular. The picture to the left shows the scarf stitched in Knit Picks’ Chroma Worsted in Impressionist, and can be better viewed at Ravelry.  Impressionist doesn’t appear to be available any longer, but there are other beautiful colorways. Lake Front is pretty close to Impressionist – close enough that I wonder if they just changed the name of that color.

Mindy mindless scarf wine

Just a few rows of my Mindless Scarf using Knit Picks Brava Worsted in Wine.

Since I’ve been only working a few part-time hours over the past two months, I am currently making projects from my “in stock” yarn. Thank goodness for taking advantage of sales! I’m using Knit Picks’ Brava Worsted in Wine. Knit Picks has great yarn of different varieties at very reasonable prices, and if you purchase $50 or more from their site you get free shipping. They also have fun sales throughout the year, including all green yarn on sale near St. Patrick’s Day, all red/pink yarn on sale near Valentine’s Day, etc. I’m not an employee or partner, just a very satisfied customer. It only took me about 20 minutes to stitch what is to the right, and I’ve been crocheting just about two years. I’m betting others can whip this project up much faster. (Please ignore that stray piece of yarn that looks like an errant stitch near the top left of the scarf. It’s just the ending yarn that I didn’t get fully underneath the scarf.) I like how this creates a nice V pattern.

Do you have favorite scarf patterns that you tend to use over and over for those last-minute gifts, or just because you need something to be easy?



Stitch of the Week: Floral Cross

So, with all that obligation stitching I fell behind on my blog posts. The good news is that the customer stitching is done except for one more project which is small and due in February. I also learned more about what type of paid projects I will take in the future. I plan on being a bit picker.

Now, I’m working on my list of stitching goals for next year. In the meantime, I wanted to share a Stitch of the Week I taught some time ago at Rittenhouse Needlepoint. (I know I mention that shop most often, but it IS my local shop, where I buy my stash, hang out with friends, and teach classes – and stitch customer projects and store models.)

Floral Cross

This is a large stitch and not easy to compensate, so choose your space wisely. As you can see, you can change the look of the stitch depending on the color and thread combinations you choose. For example, stitched in a combination of three different white threads, at least one of them sparkly, this could be a beautiful choice for a stocking cuff. The blue/green version could make a pretty lake, and combining green with a colorful variegated thread like Watercolurs or Threadworx, could create a beautiful image of a garden. It has an architectural feel to it, so shades of the same color could create a pretty building.

For stitching directions, check out the Floral Cross blog post at Rittenhouse Needlepoint. While I stitched the sample and taught the class, they own the CD from which I chose the stitch and I want to be sure to give them credit.

Stitch of the Week: Corkscrew

If you’re like me, you can’t stand bouillon knots but love the look of them in some cases. A few years ago I made some of these knots on a small “freeform” hodgepodge of stitches and beads on linen. Those stupid knots actually gave me tendonitis and it took FOREVER to completely go away. So, I vowed I would never do one again and find a way to compensate.

Well, Ruth Schmuff has used what she calls a corkscrew stitch on this Halloween tree she recently taught in a class. Basically, you bring the thread up through the canvas, twist it several times, then come down in the hole next to it.

I don’t want to take any pictures from her blog, but check out both the crazy (in a good way) Halloween design and how she forms this stitch. I’m definitely going to try this for hair or plants when stitching future designs.

And I’m not sure, but I think she placed the beads on the skulls with glow-in-the dark thread. I saw a close-up of the tree and the skulls are beaded, but in that last picture they have a bit of a green look that you sometimes see with items that glow in the dark. Perhaps it’s just the photo, but what a cool idea if she did that?

This is why I love visiting other blogs. People have such interesting ways of using fibers and attachments that I wouldn’t think of.

Stitch of the Week: Rosemary

The Rittenhouse Needlepoint blog usually has a great stitch of the week posted. Instead of coming up with my own stitches to showcase here, I’m usually going to put a link to their blog. Why reinvent the wheel when they’ve already made a great one?

Anyway, this week’s is Rosemary. A photo is below but you can get great details regarding best threads to use and applications over at their blog.