Monday, December 28, 2009

Stitch of the Week: Ashley

The Ashley stitch is a very pretty stitch. It is really more of a pattern than a stitch but we won't split hairs. The stitch begins up two horizontal canvas threads and over two horizontal canvas threads to the right. The second stitch begins immediately underneath where the first stitch began and goes over three horizontal canvas threads and to the right over three vertical canvas threads (ending immediately to the right of where the first stitch ended).

Stitch numbers three and four are repeats of stitch number two -- going up and over three canvas threads and beginning/ending one canvas thread underneath where the previous stitch began/ended. Stitch number five begins one vertical canvas thread to the right of where stitch number four began and goes up and over two canvas threads in the same manner as stitch number one.

This five-stitch, Cashmere-like unit (over two, over three -- three times, then over two again) is repeated immediately underneath the first group. However, the stitches in the second unit are done from the top down and to the right as opposed to up and to the right. The stitch progresses in this manner -- one group of five stitches slanting up and to the right, the next group slanting down and to the right. In the next column, the orientation of the groups is reversed thereby creating a blank area where the four "group of five stitches" meet.

In the final step to the Ashley stitch, an eyelet stitch over one canvas thread is executed in the vacant center area where the "group of five stitches" meet. Variations to the Ashley stitch call for using a different color/type of thread for the center eyelet stitch. One can also vary the stitch by using a different stitch in the center such as a Mosaic stitch or a Smyrna Cross.

As with any stitch that spans several canvas intersections/canvas threads, a ribbon-type thread can be used (such as Neon Rays, RibbonFloss). The Ashley stitch can be used for architectural details, wallpapers, borders and backgrounds.

Stitch of the Week: Van Dyke

The Van Dyke stitch, this week's Stitch of the Week, can be worked either vertically or horizontally. It works up easily and fairly quickly and it has a nicely woven/braided appearance. The stitch works especially well with overdyed thread such as Threadworx Floss or Caron Watercolours.

The stitch consists of oblong crosses that overlap. Begin by going down and to the right over four horizontal canvas threads and two vertical canvas threads. The second step begins two canvas threads to the left of where step one ended and goes up and to the right over four horizontal canvas threads and two vertical canvas threads.

The second stitch unit is begun two horizontal canvas threads underneath where the first stitch unit began and proceeds in the same manner as the first stitch unit (i.e., down and to the right over four horizontal canvas threads and two vertical canvas threads, over to the left two canvas threads and then up and to the right over two vertical canvas threads and four horizontal canvas threads). Each of the subsequent stitch units begins two horizontal canvas threads underneath the previous stitch. At the end of a row you must end your thread and then begin again at the top of the row.

To work the stitch in a horizontal manner, rotate the canvas 90 degrees and proceed as above. When used as a single row the Van Dyke stitch makes excellent columns. The Van Dyke stitch also make great stripes, borders and when done in wool it looks like a knitted garment. To compensate you may want to fill in at the top and bottom of the row with a Gobelin stitch over a single horizontal canvas thread.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stitch of the Week: Double Stitch

This week's stitch of the week is one of my favorites -- the Double Stitch. This is an easy stitch to do and very useful as well. It can be used for filling in large areas, as a design element or even as a background stitch.

The stitch consists of two parts. The first part is an oblong cross done over one vertical canvas thread and three horizontal canvas threads. Work horizontal rows from left to right skipping one vertical canvas thread in between oblong cross units. The second row of oblong crosses begins two horizontal canvas threads below the first row. The top of the second row of oblong crosses will overlap or encroach one canvas thread onto the previous row of stitches. The final step is a simple cross stitch inserted in between the oblong cross units.

The result is a wonderful bumpy texture that looks like quilting to me. When worked in one color the stitch can resemble tree bark. You might try combining an overdyed thread with a related solid-colored thread for a more interesting look. When the oblong crosses are stitched with a dark colored wool and the cross stitches with a very fine metallic, the double stitch can resemble a night sky. Other suggested uses for the stitch include bushes, shrubs and even the fur trim on coats.

Adjust the thread amount you use to provide the level of canvas coverage that you desire. Also be sure that all your top stitches are slanted in the same direction for greatest effectiveness. The Double Stitch is a stitch that you will not regret learning and one that you will find many uses for in your stitching projects.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Colors -- Planet Earth / Silk & Ivory

The National NeedleArts Association is having its Winter show next month in California and in preparation for the show manufacturers and designers are releasing their new products. Brown Paper Packages, the distributor of Silk & Ivory, recently dispatched 4 new colors bringing their total number of colors to 220. Tilli Thomas, the makers of Planet Earth, also released their new colors -- thirteen new luscious colors bringing their total number of colors to 165.

The Silk and Ivory colors are Pewter, Onyx, Smoky Quartz and Straw. Silk and Ivory is a 50% silk, 50% Merino wool thread, made in Switzerland. It offers a incredibly soft feel, has a medium twist and a lustrous appearance. If you haven't tried Silk & Ivory before consider using it on the background of your next 13/14 mesh piece.

Also for use on 13/14 mesh canvas is Planet Earth, a 100% silk, single stranded thread. The colors of Planet Earth are wonderfully saturated and vivid. Their new color families include a fantastic array of yellow-orange from Amber to Persimmon (see above). Also released is a blue family that includes colors entitled Venus, Calypso, Poseidon and Neptune (bottom right) as well as a great new neutral family (Almond, Honey, Cashew and Dijon -- at right).

Here at Rittenhouse Needlepoint, Planet Earth is one of our favorite fibers. We recommend it all the time for 13/14 mesh canvas. It is affordable and wears well and as they continue to add colors it just keeps getting better and better.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stitch of the Week: Diamond Straight

The Diamond Straight is an easy stitch to learn. It is comprised entirely of straight stitches. The pattern is: over one, three, five, three, one -- skip a row of holes, repeat. The tallest stitch of the second row lines up with the bottom of the smallest unit of the first row, one canvas thread to the right or the left (in the skipped row of holes).

After you have stitched the diamond units you fill in the empty spaces with Continental stitches in a complementary-colored thread. These fill-in stitches create a lattice pattern which nicely enhances and completes the diamond pattern.

When stitching a straight stitch over one canvas thread it is sometimes wise to do the stitch twice so as to avoid the dreaded disappearing stitch syndrome. A straight stitch over one canvas thread has a tendency to disappear. Doing it twice makes it more prominent. Try it -- see if you like it.

The Diamond Straight has a wonderful quilted appearance therefore I think that it would be useful for Santa's clothing or bag. It also would make great paths, roads and backgrounds.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frog Class Reunion

On Thursday night we had a reunion for the frog class of 2009. We had a good turnout including many completed frogs! Each was more creative than the next.

Martha Hurt, pictured here, stitched a Mosaic Frog (item 6356) from Julie Pischke for her grand-daughter Chantria. Jonne Smith completed Woodland Animals Frog from Edie & Ginger for her cabin in the woods. Other completed frogs included Michael McAlister's Ms. Key West (Julie Pischke, item #6359), Fran Dorfman's Baby Hanukkah Frog (item #15010) and Brit Traugott's Baby Ho Ho Ho.

Still-in-process frogs included Mindy Bogue's US Traveler Frog and Lois Kyler's Flora Frog (item #6348). And then of course there was your intrepid blogger's frog -- Imari Frog which sadly is nowhere near being finished (I can tell you more about this some other time).

Of course, the point wasn't necessarily to finish but rather to enjoy ourselves which is something that we all did with pizza, champagne and good camaraderie.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Trunk Shows Galore -- Online and Otherwise

The big news is that we've got three trunk shows in residence right now -- Tapestry Tent/Liz, Patty Paints and Brenda Stofft. The Tapestry Tent show is departing shortly (12/13) but what a show it has been. Liz, the painter for Tapestry Tent, is really an accomplished artist. Her canvases, particularly her Christmas stockings, are quite spectacular -- with lots of unusual themes and incredible detail. You can see the trunk show online by selecting "canvases" from the home page and then typing in the search box "Tapestry Tent".

Patty Paints features Americana-type, Colonial Era inspired canvases but she also has some more contemporary designs for Halloween and even Dr. Scholl's sandal toppers (a nice way to have a pair of needlepoint shoes that are more affordable to have finished than a full shoe). You can see the Patty Paints trunk show online by selecting "Canvases" from the main page and then typing in the search box "Patty Paints".

Lastly, we have the designs of Brenda Stofft in house until January. Brenda is a designer who we were unfamiliar with until a customer of ours asked us to purchase a couple of her pieces. Well, one thing led to another and we are happy to offer her line for sale. She has a wonderful whimisical sense of humor and you can see the Brenda Stofft trunk show online by selecting ... well, you know the drill.

Happy shopping.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stitch of the Week: Roumanian Leaf

The Roumanian Leaf is an interesting stitch. It is a nice stand-alone stitch but would also make for an interesting background. As the name implies, the stitch looks like a leaf of sorts. However, it also looks like a stylized tree/Christmas tree. It is important to study the diagram carefully in order to get the count right when doing the Roumanian Leaf. The stitch begins with a straight up and down stitch and then consists of a series of "V"s that get wider, stay the same size, and then eventually get smaller.

The first part of the stitch is a simple Gobelin stitch (straight up and down vertically) over two horizontal canvas threads.

This Gobelin stitch is then flanked by two diagonal stitches which are begun one horizontal canvas thread below the top of the Gobelin stitch. Each of the diagonal stitches goes over two horizontal canvas threads and one vertical canvas thread (either to the right or the left). This first group of stitches ends immediately underneath (one horizontal canvas thread below) where the Gobelin stitch ended. A tacking stitch completes the group.

A second group of stitches is done underneath the first group. It starts with two diagonal stitches, each beginning one horizontal canvas thread beneath (and one vertical canvas thread to the right or the left) of where the first diagonal stitches began. This second and larger "V" flanks the stitches of the first group. The second group ends in the same manner as the first group (i.e., with a tacking stitch, straight up and down over one canvas thread).

The Roumanian Leaf continues with another group of stitches forming a still larger"V" and ending underneath where the stitches of group two ended. This, the largest of the "V"s, is repeated two more times as shown in the diagram. Don't forget the tacking stitch.

The final "V" formation begins down one horizontal thread and to the right or the left one vertical thread from where the third group of large "V" stitches began. This final "V" is more sharply slanted than the previous "V"s and brings the Roumanian stitch to a close.

In terms of spacing for multiple Roumanian Leafs, the important thing to remember is that the top of the Gobelin stitch for the next Roumanian leaf unit shares the same hole as the farthest right or left hole of the final, longest "V" stitch. You will also know if your spacing is correct if the beginning of the first of the three longest "V"s shares the bottom hole of the previously executed Roumanian leaf stitch unit.