Friday, October 30, 2009

Stitches of the Week: Diagonal Cashmere and Cross Plus Two

Once again we are doing two stitches this week. The first was one that I hesitated to do since I figured that most of the class would be familiar with the stitch -- Diagonal Cashmere. As it turned out, the class was very enthusiastic about learning this stitch and it is indeed a hard stitch not to like. It's tremendously useful -- making a great background and covering large areas of canvas relatively quickly.

To begin working Diagonal Cashmere, start stitching at the upper left hand corner and work diagonally down and toward the right. The stitch unit consists of three individual stitches -- a short stitch (meaning a diagonal stitch up and to the right over one canvas intersection) and two long stitches (diagonally up and to the right over two canvas intersections). The three stitches begin immediately underneath one another. The next group of stitches commences one canvas thread to the right of where the final stitch of the previous unit began.

To start the return row can be difficult. It helps if one realizes that the first long stitch of the second row is diagonally below the short stitch. Complete as many full rows of the pattern as your space will allow and then add your compensating or partial stitches at the end.

The second stitch of the week is called Cross Plus Two. This is also a very attractive stitch although a bit less universilly applicable than Diagonal Cashmere. Cross Plus Two consists of a large, oblong cross stitch over six horizontal threads and four vertical threads. A gobelin stitch is then placed from the base of the X to the top of the X crossing over the center intersection of the X. The final portion of Cross Plus Two is a horizontal stitch across the base of cross. The second row is worked with a half-drop between rows.

When this stitch is done with a fine thread the effect is very lace-like in appearance. The stitch "produces different effects with different threads" so be sure to experiment with wool, pearl cotton, etc. This stitch would make an interesting background.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Update from the store

Took some time out this morning to "smell the roses" as it were. Here's the whole gang enjoying lattes (made by Russell). The only staff members missing are Steve, Patsy and myself (I am taking the photo). Unfortunately, it is also hard to see Mark but it is hard to take photos in the store living room -- so much light coming in through the windows.

Jim the painter is hard at work developing a line of Rittenhouse Needlepoint canvases that will be available for sale soon. I've been working with the Web site designers on the upgrade of our Web site -- very exciting.

Mark has been updating the Web store placing online Watercolours and Silver Needle. Also online currently is Alexander Collection -- great horse-y canvases. To find any of these collections just type in the search box -- Watercolours, Silver Needle or Alexander Collection.

Wendy the Magnificent has been busy, busy, busy waiting on customers and re-working the displays in the shop. She doesn't like to have her picture taken so that's why I've included it here! Unfortunately, the photo is a little blurry and she wouldn't let me take another one -- party pooper!

Russell of course continues to do nothing!! Ha ha.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stitch(es) of the Week: Combination Cross and Cushion Stitch

This week I chose to do two stitches for the price of one. The Cushion Stitch is also known as the Framed Scotch stitch. This is an excellent background stitch. It consists of Scotch Stitches done over one, two, and then three intersections. Between each Scotch Stitch unit, skip a canvas thread (both horizontally and vertically). When you have finished doing your field of Scotch stitches, fill in the skipped rows with Continental stitch. Consider doing the Scotch Stitches with an overdye thread.

The Combination Cross stitch (also known as Interlocked Upright & Diagonal Cross Stitch) is a most appealing stitch. It too makes for a fine background. The stitch is done in two different steps. The first step is to cover the canvas with cross stitches done over two canvas intersections. When you have finished your field of cross stitches, the next step is to insert a row of upright crosses in between the rows of completed cross stitches. The Upright Crosses are also over two but in their case it's two canvas threads not two canvas intersections. This stitch works in small areas and is easy to compensate. Beth Robertson and Suzanne Howren in their excellent book Stitches for Effect recommend this stitch for clothing and for use with overdyed thread.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

News from the Store

Well, I don't have to tell you about the article at the Caron web site ( ) This is a great web site filled with lots of useful information, free patterns and designer profiles.

In other news, we have a new trunk show in house from Silver Needle of Greenwich, CT. Silver Needle is the officially licensed distributor of designs featuring Paddington Bear™, The World of Peter Rabbit™, Goodnight Moon™ and Hadley Pottery™. They have a great line of city and state ornaments, also lots of canvases with a Martha's Vineyard/Nantucket/Cape Cod theme as well as children's storybook characters.

We've hired another new person -- Jonelle Kelly who will be doing bookkeeping for us as well as general problem solving and believe me have we got problems for her to solve.

We've almost finished processing the Watercolours collection from Caron. This is a gorgeous line of variegated thread in 3-ply pima cotton. The line has been much requested and having taken photos of all the different colors I can personally attest to the luscious character of these variegated threads. They have both a wonderful sheen as well as intriguing color combinations. I am hoping to have them on the floor by this weekend (fingers crossed).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stitch of (Last) Week: Montenegrin

Last week's stitch of the week is the handsome Montenegrin stitch. I had a couple of people take a look at the chart for this stitch and groan as it looks rather complicated on paper but in fact the stitch is not difficult to do and after a brief period of time working it up one gets into a rhythm.

The Montenegrin stitch is an old stitch, it covers well and is good for general use. It can be done over two or four horizontal threads. My instructions will be for the smaller version.

The stitch begins by doing a diagonal stitch across four vertical canvas threads and two horizontal threads. Next step is to drop down once canvas two canvas threads below where you entered the canvas and then count to the left two canvas threads. Return to the front side of the canvas and go up two canvas threads and to the left two canvas threads before entering the canvas again.

In step number three return to the front side of the canvas in the hole where you came forward to begin stitch number two (that is, in the hole that is two canvas threads to the right of the beginning hole). Go straight up two canvas threads and return to the backside. Re-emerge out of the same hole (for the third time) and this time repeat step number one -- going up two canvas threads and forward four canvas threads. Repeat steps numbers two and three. The stitch consists of a repetition of this "go forward four, go back two, straight up, repeat." You are coming forward in the same hole three times.

The final result is a tweedy, ribbed texture that is similar to the long armed cross.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Stitch of the Week: Backstitched Spider

This week's stitch is also known as the "Ridged Spider Web" in Jo Christensen's The Needlepoint Book. This book, which I believe I have featured in the past on the blog, is a marvelous resource. If you do not already own a copy, I would urge you to get one.

Most of the information for this week's stitch is taken from the Christensen book -- pages 353 and 355. Spider webs are an interesting type of stitch. They are two-step stitch, first you need to lay down a foundation stitch and then you stitch over your foundation to create the final look.

Our foundation stitch for the Backstitched Spider consists of what I think of as a Smyrna Cross eyelet. The stitch consists of a plus sign and an "X" however all legs of these stitches meet in a center hole. The plus sign is done across four vertical canvas threads and into the center hole. The cross stitch is done across three canvas intersections and then into the center hole.

Once the foundation has been laid, the next step is to perform the backstitch. Return to the front side of the canvas in a hole that is as near as possible to the center of the canvas but not in the center itself. Go underneath two of the spokes and pull the thread forward. Next go underneath the last spoke for a second time and then underneath the next spoke. Pull the thread forward. Continue working in this fashion -- going underneath the last spoke and the next spoke -- around and around the circle. You should do this until it is not possible to go around again.

The result is a round stitch where each of the spokes is padded -- a most unusual effect but perfect for "grapes, apples, other fruit, wheels, balls, buttons, flowers, ladybugs, spiders, and other insects -- anything round" (Christensen, p. 353)