Saturday, March 19, 2011


Basketweave is one of the two most basic needlepoint stitches. We always recommend our beginners to start with the Continental stitch, and Basketweave is the next step. Unlike Continental stitch, which is stitched on a horizontal row, Basketweave is stitched diagonally. Check out the diagram on the right, which shows exactly how to stitch in Basketweave.

Basketweave is a good stitch to use when you are filling in large areas of space. It is a good strong stitch because it creates a woven pattern, hence the name "basketweave", on the back of the canvas, which gives the canvas durability and ensures your canvas will be strong. Although most canvases need to be blocked after stitching is completed because distortion happens with stitching, Basketweave distorts the canvas less than other stitches. This is another plus to using this key stitch. The picture to the left shows what the stitches look like when they are stitched.

If you are interested in learning this stitch and would like to join us in our bi-weekly class. This class happens on saturdays from 4:30-5:30 pm. It costs $5 and includes canvas, thread, instruction, conversation and beverage! The next class on this important stitch is on March 26th. If you would like to learn the Continental stitch, which we recommend as your first stitch, you can come to our weekly free beginners class! These happen every saturday at 10 am sharp and include canvas, thread, and instruction! We hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Stumpwork is a raised style of embroidery where the figures, whether floral, fauna, person, etc. are raised from the piece to create a 3D effect. The figures can be created using an armature, of wire or padding and then fastened to the embroidery. Traditionally stumpwork was found on boxes, cabinets, mirrors, and small bags. It was also popular to decorate book covers with stumpwork, incorporating other elements such as beading, jewels, pearls, and other embroidery forms to create unique covers.

Much of the stumpwork I have seen has been used for decorating flat embroidery. The piece on the right is actually an old kit by DMC, stitched by Elizabeth Braun and shown on her blog Sew in Love. You can check out her blog by following the link. Her work is very pretty and is a great example of stumpwork. The kit is no longer in production, but it shows how you can use special stitches along with stumpwork to create a really nice piece. The fact that this is a DMC kit also shows that it would be easily accessible to stumpwork beginners.

The piece below on the right stitched by Kay Dennis is a perfect example of how you can use molds and create not just puffed pieces but 3D elements, such as an acorn. This piece is just fabulous. I love all the colors and all of the different stitching techniques. The wings are pefect with their delicate stitching, and I love the little mini acorns and leaves. This piece would look great on the wall, framed. In my search for different examples of stumpwork, I've come across a lot of really great embroidered fairies, and they are all technically very good and look like they'd be a lot of fun to stitch. If you check out her website, and see another fairie on the left by her, you'll be able to see that Kay has done a lot of really fun fairies. From the variety it's easy to see that these are easily customizable, and it would be quite easy to make your own.

And, to show you that you can do anything if you have an idea, here's a Stumpwork portrait of Lady Gaga. Follow the link to see the artist's other stitching projects.

We have a Beginners Stumpwork class coming up. It's scheduled for April 16th. The minimum signup is 4 people, and the max is 8. It's $10 and includes linen, fiber, instruction, beverage (we have lots of teas and coffee!), and conversation! To assure your spot in this class, you must RSVP and prepay. Hopefully if any of these projects pique
your interest you'll give us a call or come in to the store and assure your spot in this fun class!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Summer time!

We can tell by the slightly warmer weather that summer is well on its way. If you were thinking about stitching something for the summer, now is the time to start! There are so many canvases that really exude the warmth and pleasure that summer brings that it's hard to choose just a few, but I thought I'd show you some we have.

Last summer we had a trunk show by Sandra Gilmore for Fleur de Paris. She had a lot of really gorgeous canvases, but her summer ones were breathtaking. They had such vibrant colors and a lot of really great details that it was obvious that these would not only look fabulous when they were stitched but would be a lot of fun to do. The canvas on the right features a villa with a field of lavender in what looks like Tuscany. This canvas is simply gorgeous! It would look gorgeous with silks and wools. I can invision this canvas becoming even more pretty with the addition of different fibers and using blending.

Another designer that does really beautiful landscapes, especially summer scenes, is Alice Peterson. The canvas Beach Cottage, seen to the left, is beautiful. For the more adventurous stitcher, using varigated threads and/or mixing fibers would really create great effects with the sky and water. Watercolors by the Caron Collection, is a great fiber and includes a lot of really beautiful varigated colors. These are made to really highlight the water and sky.

If you're interested in stitching a belt, which can be worn during the summer months, we definitely have a lot of those. Jane Nichols, whose trunk show we just had in store, has a lot of fun belts. This ice cream cone themed belt is so much fun and would really be fun to wear! The only downside would be that whenever you looked at it, you'd crave some ice cream!

For a beginner, the coaster on the right would be a lot of fun to stitch. It's catchy and the colors are a lot of fun.

Summer is a great season to embrace the warm weather, and these canvases really embody the fun spirit that summer brings.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Blackwork embroidery is a traditional form of embroidery. Any black thread can be used, but it's been found that tightly twisted threads have better results than embroidery floss. Blackwork is usually stitched in silk thread on cream or white cotton. Metallics or colored threads can be used as accents.

When beginning to learn blackwork, one technique to start your piece is to put in the outline first. This is not necessary, but it gives you a guideline to work to so you will know where to put your stitched patterns. You can use a back stitch, a running stitch, a whipped stitch, or a running back corner to stitch the outlines. To the right you can see a diagram of these stitches. If you are starting with an outline, you want to use 2 strands of floss for that and use 1 strand for the fill pattern.

Before starting your fill stitches, it's important to take the time to really look at them and understand how they will be stitched. This helps keep the piece from becoming confusing and muddled. This also helps plan where you're going to start the different stitches so you'll be able to know which stitch would be better to do first, second, and so on.

On the left, you can see a chart of a pretty blackwork fill pattern. This would make into a very pretty blackwork pattern. Another possible pattern is shown on the right. Both of these would look beautiful.

A good way to use Blackwork in your stitching is for representing walls/buildings, tile/paving and baskets/weaving. Consider a floral/plant themed motif as a background pattern for designs featuring plants and flowers. The piece below is by DMC and incorporates a modern twist on blackwork. This image was found at The Making Spot. The flowers are really beautiful, and the blackwork really helps capture their delicate beauty.
Also, check out this fun blackwork fish featured at the top. The artist improvised for this piece and created it using patterns of her choice. It's a lot of fun and shows that with a little planning, you can create some really fun pieces!

Some information in this blog was found on the following websites: Needle N Thread, and Needlwork Tips and Techniques. Check them out for additional information about blackwork! If you'd like to take a class on blackwork, we can also schedule a private lesson with one of our instructors. This will give you one on one experience and will help you get started learning to stitch with this fabulous technique!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The upcoming Flower Show's theme is Paris. Paris is definitely an inspiring city, and a lot has come out of it. Needlepoint certainly has a lot of Parisian products, including canvases and accessories.

This fall we had a trunk show by Alice Peterson. She has so many great canvases, but her landscapes and village scenes were really impressive and looked like they would be a lot of fun to stitch. A few of them were set in Paris. The canvas on the right is called French Chef, and it's simply adorable! I love the details and the setting in general. It's a really warm canvas, and would be perfect in a kitchen or dining room.

Another set of Parisian themed products we carry that are actually French are sets of scissors by Sajou. The pair of Eiffel Tower Scissors below are of great quality, and the tassel is so charming! These would be a great addition to a personal stash of sewing supplies, but would also be a great gift for a fan of France and Paris.

For the cross-stitcher, we have a bunch of charts by the French company Reflets de Soie. The sampler below is designed by Ann Mitchell. It's so beautiful, and is a great traditional sampler. It is about 8 x 9, and is designed for 40 count cross-stitch fabric.

DMC released a number of little booklets called the "Blibliotheque D.M.C." The one titled Point De Marque has great patterns charted out, ranging from geometric patterns, to fonts, to pictures. This image of a suite of cards is particularly fun and would make a really cute stitched piece.

To stitch, we have the entire line of Soie Dalger 100% silk embroidery floss. This line of french silk has so many fabulous colors that no matter what you were going to stitch, you would be sure to have fabulous dynamic colors.

These are only a few of the French products in our store, but it's not hard to see why the Flower Show would have such a great theme. There's so much to draw on in French culture for all of the arts, whether it's flower arranging, painting, sculpture, writing, OR Needlepoint!

And, in the words of Mr. Bogart, "We'll Always Have Paris."