Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stitch of the Week: Diagonal Roumanian

This week's "Stitch of the Week" is the Diagonal Roumanian. The Diagonal Roumanian is a tied stitch that works up rather slowly but has a good backing. Owing to the denseness of the final product, Diagonal Roumanian is quite durable and snag-proof. The stitch has a wonderful texture and pattern and really could be used just about anywhere on your painted canvas projects.

The stitch appears to be quite simple and indeed it is but it can also be tricky. The tricky part comes from not being able to see the canvas mesh underneath pre-existing stitches. If you count carefully and proceed slowly, you should be all right.

Like most tied stitches, the Diagonal Roumanian lends itself to shading work. Howren and Robertson in More Stitches for Effect suggest: "subtly change color values in the same row by first changing the tie down element then changing the whole stitch as you move along" (p. 40). Diagonal Roumanian also lends itself for use with overdyed threads.

This versatile stitch is excellent for depicting animal fur and woolen clothing. It could also be used for tree trunks, bird nests and fields.

Pearl cotton looks great with this stitch but is a challenge to work with due to the tightness of the end result. If you are using the Diagonal Roumanian for shading work then stranded threads would be your best choice. I would, however, use fewer strands than normal.

Diagonal Roumanian is often suggested for backgrounds but I think that it would be too slow and heavy a look for most backgrounds. In my opinion, the stitch is better suited for use as a design stitch (or supporting character stitch as I like to call them).

Try stripes for an interesting effect.

Trunk Show: Ewe and Eye

In the shop now until April 20 are the whimsical designs of Ewe and Eye. Ewe and Eye features an extensive collection of Halloween and Christmas designs.

Ewe and Eye has partnered with Maggie Thompson at Maggie & Co and they do a lot of marketing/shows together though I believe that they remain separate companies.

Ewe and Eye has sent us a lot of their newest canvases that includes some great Americana-type designs. There is also an extensive collection of very small but cute holiday canvases that would make great Christmas tree ornaments.

The wild and whimsical designs of Ewe and Eye lend themselves to using different threads and stitches as they tend to have larger areas of color to work with and also avoid the extensive shading techniques of some designers.

The show also includes some great finished pieces that are definitely worth checking out including the crazy framing of Lisa and Jim from Evening Shade,AK.

Now until April 20.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Focus On: Silk Lame Braid 13

Perfect for 13 mesh canvas, Silk Lame Braid 13 is a lustrous silk blend from Rainbow Gallery. It comes in 44 colors and Rittenhouse Needlepoint carries the full line. The thread is made in the USA and comes in 8 yards lengths on cards.

The thread is truly a braid of silk strands with blending (also known as metallic) filament. It has a wonderful hand and the metallic gives the thread an elegant sparkle.
The braid will separate easily so it is best to use short lengths (maximum 15") and a larger needle than normal to help force the mesh hole open so that there is less abrasion on the thread.
Recommended stitches for use with Silk Lame Braid include the Diagonal Mosaic (for water and skies), Ermine (for a lacy background look) and Kennan (also recommended for water and sky).

Silk Lame Braid comes in a number of different shades of blue so it would be good, as mentioned above, for water (either deep water or tropical) and skys. Also there are a number of pretty pinks and reds that would work for lame fabric clothing and the white could be used for snow.

Silk Lame Braid also comes in size 18 for use with 18 mesh canvas.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stitch of the Week: Moorish

The Moorish stitch is essentially the diagonal scotch with tent stitches in between. Moorish offers good coverage and is relatively easy to compensate. This stitch has a pretty texture even when just using one color, but using two colors or two types of threads really takes full advantage of the stitch. Moorish is good for rooftops, sky, mountains, fields, gardens, clothing, and backgrounds.

Here I have used #3 pearl cotton on 18 mesh canvas, dark green for the diagonal scotch and light green for the tent stitch. There are two ways to stitch Moorish: 1. Stitch all the diagonal scotch first, then the tent stitches; 2. Stitch it in order so that you are switching colors and stitches as you go. Play around with it and see which way is easier for you and gives you the look you want. For instance, it may seem easier to stitch all the diagonal scotch areas first, but it could lead to counting mistakes for the row left empty for the tent stitches.
There are also variations of this stitch, Wide Moorish to the left (instead of a tent stitch use a slanted Gobelin over two threads), and Giant Moorish to the right (Scotch stitch is one thread larger than the standard Moorish, with a tent stitch). Make sure you have a large enough stitching area so that you can really see the pattern of these stitches take shape.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Trunk Shows: Cooper Oaks Design and Patti Mann

Now in the shop (in addition to the Canvasworks trunk show which will be departing on 3/23) we have trunk shows from Cooper Oaks Design as well as Patti Mann. Cooper Oaks Design began in 1996 and specializes in stitch-painted needlepoint canvases adapted from the artwork of various individuals. Some of the larger artists represented in the current show include Linda Ragno whose French country style exudes the warmth and charm of the South of France as well as the charming beach-inspired, Americana designs of Susan Wallace Barnes. Some of my favorites include the alphabet designs of Warren Kimble and the charming florals of Susan Verble Gantner.

Also in the shop are the fantastically painted designs of Patti Mann. Patti has been in the needlepoint business since 1974! She prides herself on the clarity with which her designs are painted which we all know translates into ease of stitching. Patti's collection also includes needlepoint adaptations of paintings by Mike Savage. Mike's artwork is quite distinctive and features bold brushwork and an expansive color palette (lots of fun to stitch). Patti also specializes in a charming collection of Pudgies. These three dimensional, melon-shaped creatures are about 6" tall when finished. Patti has a number with different themes including Halloween, Easter and Judaica. Some of the other Pudgie designs resemble animals such as a bunny, dog, or even an elephant. But my favorite three-dimensional piece by Patti Mann is of a sea turtle with Asian designs.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Last Weekend for Melissa Shirley Trunk Show

This is the last weekend for the Melissa Shirley trunk show which is scheduled to return March 16. Melissa Shirley has been designing fine hand-painted needlepoint canvases since 1981. She is a self-taught painter. She lives in California and works with her husband Tom. In addition to selling her own designs, she also sells designs from Linda Carter Holman, John Johannsen, and Mary Lake-Thompson.

Her canvases are artistic, fun, elegant and unusual. The show includes some of her newest designs. Also featured are Christmas stockings, stand-up figures, fruits, florals and gorgeous bird portraits. The show includes a generous smattering of designs by Mary Lake-Thompson (a personal favorite of mine).

Don’t let the rain ruin your weekend – experience the wonderful world of Melissa Shirley at Rittenhouse Needlepoint.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stitch of the Week: Ermine

The Ermine stitch is a very versatile with an open look. The stitch is compromised of three straight stitches: one vertical and two diagonal. The two diagonal stitches cross at lower half of the vertical stitch. The stitch may be varied according to the length of the vertical stitch and/or the spacing between individual stitch units.

Begin the stitch with the vertical portion. Go straight up and over six horizontal canvas threads. Begin the first diagonal stitch up one horizontal canvas thread and to the left one vertical canvas thread from where stitch one began. Go up and to the right over three canvas intersections. Return to the backside. The final portion of the stitch begins up one horizontal canvas thread and to the right one vertical canvas thread from where the first stitch began. This time, go up and to the left over three canvas intersections before returning to the back side of the canvas.

Traditionally the spacing between stitch units is six vertical canvas threads either to the right or left (in the same row of holes). Subsequent rows are staggered so that the vertical or middle portion of each unit in the second row encroaches halfway upon the previous row of stitches and also so that each stitch in the second row is located halfway between the stitch units of the previous row. Tip: if your second row of stitches is placed correctly, the tops of the diagonal stitches in row number two will share a hole with the bottom of the diagonal stitches in the previous row of stitches.

The Ermine stitch makes a nice background when it is done in variegated thread. It also looks quite striking when executed in black thread on a bright white background. The stitches make for a handsome decorative border or band. As an individual stitch the Ermine stitch works well for ferns, shrubs, or ivy on walls.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Canvs Works / Traditions Trunk Show

We are happy to announce the arrival of a trunk show from one of our favorite designers, Dorothy Combs of Canvas Works. Canvas Works features exquisitely painted canvases with designs based on real oriental rugs. Other designs feature geometric patterns and Persian motifs. These are perfect for stitchers who enjoy detail-work and precision.

The colors used in the Canvas Works line are the wonderfully faded colors of the desert and are perfect for subtly overdyed or heathered threads.

Many of the designs are available in multiple sizes for different functions (pillows, floor pillows, coasters, rugs, brick covers, etc.) The Canvas Works rug designs are particularly striking.

Don't write off doing a rug -- believe it or not, stitching a beautifully detailed and carefully painted rug canvas can be more relaxing than stitching a much smaller canvas that has been less precisely painted.

For those who enjoy shading and decision making, Canvas Works also offers a series of shade painted animal portraits with counted work backgrounds featuring elephants. Dorothy and her husband Neil are very accommodating and are quite willing to alter the mesh size, dimensions or colors on any of their designs. Canvas Works designs are perfect for upholstery work.

Also good for upholstery work are the designs of Betty Smith's Traditions. The Traditions line features a series of floral chair seat covers that are classic and very adaptable to individual color schemes. Traditions has a very different design sensibility than Canvas Works. The line features classic florals including many Texas wildflowers.

The designs of Canvas Works and Traditions will be in the shop until March 21st.