Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stitch of the Week: Herringbone

This week's Stitch of the Week is the Herringbone stitch. It proved to be a little challenging to learn but the results are very much worth it.

We begin the stitch at the left side of the canvas. Because this stitch does not leave much in the way of thread on the backside of the canvas, it is best to use an "away" knot.

The first step is a compensating stitch up and to the right over two canvas intersections (just like a tent stitch but over two intersections instead of one). The next step is to come forward with your needle in the hole that is two canvas threads to the left of where you just entered the canvas.

Now we begin the pattern. Go down and to the right over four canvas intersections. Return to the surface of the canvas two threads to the left of where you just finished (i.e., in the same row of holes, two threads to the left). Go up and to the right over four canvas intersections and enter the canvas. Return to the front side of the canvas two canvas threads to the left of where you just entered.
The pattern continues across the row, advancing either up or down and to the right across four canvas intersections only to return under two canvas threads in the same row of holes. The row is ended with a small compensating stitch up and to the right over two canvas intersections. When finished with the row, end your thread by weaving it back and forth underneath the canvas threads on the backside. Cut off your away knot, re-thread your needle and end the thread in the same way.

The second row is worked in the same fashion as the first row (complete with away knot and compensating stitches). Make sure that the top stitches cross in the same direction and that the long stitches on the second row nestle underneath the long stitches of the first row.

A variation on the herringbone stitch is to use shorter stitches (slanted stitches over two canvas intersections and return stitches under one canvas thread). This variation would be better done on Penelope canvas as stitches under one thread tend not to be very stable.

Another variation on the herringbone stitch is called Herringbone Gone Wrong. This involves proceeding from left to right and then from right to left. One row of stitches will be different from the next row and the effect is very much like woven basket.

The herringbone stitch can be tedious to work but the results are spectacular.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Such a Week

Oh my gosh -- we've had such a week here at RNp. Lots and lots of new faces. Very exciting.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Breaking News!

We are all very excited here at Rittenhouse Needlepoint this morning. We've made the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer! Can you believe it? A big thanks to Melissa Dribben for the really nice article and to Bonnie Weller for the great photos.
We've already been out to breakfast to celebrate and lots of customers, family and friends have called to share our excitement.

Even Lulu is excited. She says: "I always knew I was special but newsworthy? Well, I guess so."

So, if you haven't picked up a copy of the newspaper today please do so and take a look on the lower front page and you'll find us. Or you can go to and look at the bottom left of the front page under the heading "Living" and you'll see us (just remember -- newspapers cost money to produce so if you can buy a copy ...)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Needlepoint Plaids

We had a great class last night if I do say so myself. It was on needlepoint plaids. What fun! It's an easy way to enhance any needlepoint project (as an article of clothing, background or border) or even as a stand-alone project (pillow, bench cover, footstool, chair seat). We learned about the difference between tartan and plaid, what a "sett" is and how to create a needlepoint plaid based on your birth date or some other date of personal significance. The plaid in the photograph is based on my birthday which is February 19 (2-19-?? You can guess the year based on the photo!) It has two rows of a color, followed by one row, then nine rows and so on. The colors were just what happened to be in the instruction basket but they worked out rather well I think.

We'll be offering the plaiding class in the future -- so look for it. We may even feature it as an instruction video to be hosted on YouTube and linked to from our Web site. More about that initiative in the future. Lots of stuff cookin' here at RNp.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Internet Trunk Show -- DJ Designs

We are having our first-ever Internet trunk show right now. Just go to the Web site home page ( and type in the search box "DJ Designs" (you can select "canvas" from the drop-down menu but you don't have to). The result? A list of all the DJ Design canvases that we have in house right now. Nearly all these canvases are available thanks to the trunk show that is in residence until the end of the month. So, if you see something you like, buy it now or come into the store to take a closer look. Of course we can order it for you in the future but wouldn't it be better to see it/have it now?

We are hoping to have more Internet trunk shows in the future. It's all a matter of quick processing. If we can inventory, photograph and mount these items on the Web quickly enough you will be able to see our in-house trunk shows from the comfort of your own home! Neat, huh?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stitch of the Week: Daisy Stitch

The Daisy Stitch is a variation on the eyelet stitch. It is rather easy to do. I used an "away knot", brought my needle to the front side and then started the stitch by going over three vertical threads to the right and down. The hole that I went into then became the center hole of the eyelet. Stitch number two takes place three canvas threads below the center hole. Stitch number three takes place three canvas threads to the right of the center hole and stitch number four takes place three canvas threads above the center hole. The result is a cross or plus sign over three canvas threads.

Part two of the Daisy stitch involves placing a cross stitch in the form of an "X" over the existing plus sign. The "X" stitch is over two canvas intersections and each leg is placed equidistant between the existing arms of the cross.

Part three of the Daisy Stitch involves filling in the remaining canvas holes. Beginning to the left of the stitch in the 12 o'clock position, you proceed around the circle in a counter-clockwise manner.
The result is a lovely stitch, one that is "as pretty as a daisy" if you will and looks remarkably flower-like when a French Knot is placed in the center hole. Suzanne Howren and Beth Robertson in their wonderful book, Stitches for Effect (item #2887) recommend using the Daisy stitch for lacy dresses (using embroidery floss), animal eyes (using a wet or shiny looking thread), flowers (using an overdyed floss) or snowflakes (using a thin Kreinik braid.

I experimented with using two different color threads below. The first involves using a pink thread for only the first portion of the stitch (the cross or plus sign) and the second involves using the pink thread for the first two portions of the stitch and the purple thread for the final bit (that is the one that I prefer).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Book of the Week: Long and Short Stitch Embroidery

This is the last entry related to "What I did on my summer vacation." In addition to stitching, spending and listening I also did a fair bit of reading and one of the books that I read is one that I think may be of interest to "youse guys" as we say here in Philly. It is called "Long and Short Stitch Embroidery" and it is by Trish Burr. Before I go any further I just want to say that I hesitated writing about this book because I only have one in stock and I just know I am going to be hit with a tsunami of requests for it after this entry (haha). So, if you want it, better act now!! Seriously, I will be ordering more and you can always look at my copy or maybe I'll teach a class on the technique.

The technique of long and short embroidery couldn't be easier but the results are spectacular. I am telling you these embroidery people know what they are doing when it comes to shading. It's a short book and the back half is pretty much all examples and projects that I know I'll never do but still it was instructional to look at them and read the directions for how to execute.

As I said the methodology is quite easy and it is presented with good diagrams that are clear to follow. It's a quick read and I learned quite a bit so I recommend it (just don't come to my shop and try to buy it!!???)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More About What's On My Needles

So, as I was saying, I did a lot of work on the Christmas stocking. I also did a lot of work on my upside-down koi project. You may remember this one. I started stitching the canvas upside down and only later discovered that it makes a whole lot more sense right side up. Not too bright -- what can I say?

Anyhow, this has been a fun project for me. I am using lots and lots of yummy threads. Metallic braid, Vineyard Silk, Planet Earth, Silk &Ivory, Appleton Crewel -- all in shades of green and aqua. It's really been fun. I just love the colors. I am doing this -- brace yourself -- in my hand (i.e., no frame, no scroll bars) and you know what? I kind of like it. It is so nice and portable and it has that whole tactile thing going for it. Of course every now and then I get a twinge of guilt when I see my beautiful threads getting all scrunched up but you know what? It's needlepoint, not planetary physics (is there such a thing as planetary physics?)

I am doing this project in all basketweave too. It's really all about the colors which are just luscious. I am thinking about making an alteration to the canvas though. There is a little spot that is painted yellow-orange and I am not sure why. It could be some mud that the fish have disturbed or it could be a leaf or branch or something. I've covered the area with my hand and I think that the canvas is more effective without the distraction of the yellow-orange, "What is it?" bit. If I do stitch over that area it would leave the koi as the only non-turquoise/aqua bit which is as it should be I think. So, we'll see. I don't have to decide right now. Especially since we've just gone back to work and it is not looking as if I am going to have a whole lot of stitching time in the near future.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm Back Baby and Better than Ever!

I'll tell you I am as fresh as a daisy after my week-long vacation with Russell and LuLu in Cooperstown, NY. What does one do in Cooperstown, NY for a week? Well, let me just tell you. We went to Glimmerglass Opera. We saw Cenorentola, Dido and Aeneas, Traviata, and Menotti's The Consul -- all of them very good (well actually the Traviata I didn't care for too much but the others made up for it). We also went book hunting. Oh my gosh, I found so many good books you wouldn't believe it.

There was this one bookstore in Cooperstown that I almost didn't go into because it did not look that promising from the street and it turned out to have the best collection of needlepoint books that I have seen in quite some time. It was unbelievable and right down the street from the Baseball Hall of Fame -- go figure. Ugh, those baseball people -- don't get me started.

I also spent lots and lots of time stitching and that was great. Some people might be surprised to hear that I spent time stitching on my vacation but hey it's my way of relaxing and even though I own a needlepoint store it is not like I have a lot of time to stitch. So -- you know me -- I brought a number of unfinished projects with me. And I made progress on all of them. Well, most of them. I didn't do any work on my Frank Lloyd Wright cross stitch project. Not sure why guess I guess there just wasn't enough time and/or didn't feel like it.

I did begin work on my Christmas stocking for Russell. I embroidered the bird using wool, alpaca and Impressions and a loose interpretation of long and short stitch. I think that it turned out rather well. Stop by the shop and I will show it to you. I also got started on the background. I am using an open stitch that I call skip-a-row diagonal mosaic but I am not sure what the "real" name of the stitch is. I am doing this stitch with just one strand of Appleton Crewel wool and so I am a little concerned about its durability but I like the effect -- very open. The photo doesn't do it justice. I chose it because I thought that I needed something diagonal in orientation and also something that would not call too much attention to itself. I want the tree to be the focal point and I want the piece overall to have a peaceful, restful feeling.

I will write more about some of my other projects tomorrow. Don't want to use up all my new material at once.