Saturday, December 4, 2010

Finishing for the holidays and beyond!

Over the last 6 months, our finishing department has grown and become even more impressive with the addition of two of our employees, Nicole and Emily. Upcoming graduates of the University of the Arts, they have the artistic sensibility and talent to pull off any project you have in your head!

Another exciting addition to our shop are the hundreds of remnants of high quality designer fabrics we received from a local interior design company. Combined with the impressive talents of our finishers, these beautiful fabrics will make any needlepoint finish spectacularly.

A finished needlepoint that you've spent time lovingly stitching for a loved one would be an excellent gift, and we can take your already fabulous stitched project and finish it into something spectacular!

Don't forget that you can incorporate almost any of the fibers we sell into a custom cording for a pillow, ornament, or any project you require cording for! This will give your piece an even more unique feeling, as you'll be choosing the colors for the cording!

Come in and see our fantastic fabrics, canvases, and fibers today!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Products and Trunk Shows!

November News:

* This month we've received two fabulous trunk shows that we think will interest you! They are Lee Bags and Canvases from Colonial Needle, as well as many fabulous canvases from NeedleDeeva.

* We're always receiving new products, but this month we've received great new Clear Project bags in assorted sizes!

* Come in and see the great new products and trunk shows we have in store!

NeedleDeeva (in store until November 29th)

The NeedleDeeva trunk show is a carryover from October, but we loved the canvases so much that we wanted to carry them a little longer, so we have them for November as well! Their line covers all of the major holidays as well as other themes, such as baby signs and canvases, and other children’s canvases as well.

Lee Canvases from Colonial Needle (In store until November 30th)

This is a fabulous trunk show featuring many great canvases, the majority of which coordinate with the many fantastic bags and accessories that also came.

A great little mirror case!

A beautiful red poppy canvas that can be used as an insert for their bag.
One of the beautiful purses that offer windows to put your own finished needlepoint to really make it your own.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Great Idea for Shading

Ever wonder how to shade using non-strandable threads? Try checkerboard-ing. Stitch every other stitch/intersection in one color and then return with a second color and stitch the open areas. It is a simple concept but powerful too. You can combine checkerboard-ing with thread blending "in the needle" and add a whole new dimension to your shading.

Checkerboard-ing works not just with tent stitch but with other decorative stitches as well (such as brick, alternating tent, etc.) However, it is most effective with smaller stitches because the effect is more subtle.

At first you may not enjoy the look of checkerboard-ing but give it time and distance and it grows on you. It's a great way to develop a color that you can't find, to transition between areas or between DYE LOTS.

Happy stitching!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stitch of the Week: Plaited Square

Sherlee Lanz in her book A Pageant of Pattern for Needlepoint has this to say about plaited stitches: "Even when their structures are completely known, one finds a certain unaccountable mystery in them" (p. 254). Less poetically she also calls plaited stitches "dynamic" and "rewarding" and I agree with her. I was surprised while doing research for this Stitch of the Week to discover that the Plaited Square stitch is not listed in the index to many stitch guides. Perhaps it is known by another name. If not, it deserves a wider audience. The stitch is easy, versatile and makes a fine fill stitch.

Like many stitches describing how to execute the Plaited Square is more difficult than actually doing it. The stitch consists of four straight stitches (all of the same length) that alternate in orientation from vertical to horizontal as they proceed in a counter clockwise direction. Each new stitch overlaps the previously completed stitch except for the fourth stitch which ends underneath stitch number one, completing a nice, neat little package.

A variation on the Plaited Square involves orienting the stitch unit diagonally rather than straight up and down (the Plaited Square Diagonal).

How the individual stitch units are arranged creates the versatile nature of this stitch. They can be arranged side by side or one can leave a space between stitch units to be filled in by another row of stitches halfway below the first. Alternately, one can leave space in between the stitches to be filled in with tent stitches or any other appropriately sized decorative stitch that fits.

The stitch can be executed in most types of thread. I used wool to stitch up the examples included here but a plied thread might have been a better choice to show off the stitch detail. I would probably use a thread slightly smaller than normal for the size mesh.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Focus On: Vineyard Merino Wool

We recently started carrying the entire Vineyard Merino Wool line — all 150 colors! We've only had the wool on the wall for a few days, but customers are already raving about this wool.

Merino Wool comes from a breed of sheep prized for its wool, the finest and softest of any sheep. Vineyard Merino Wool is 100 percent wool, sells in hanks of 30 yards and is best for 13 to 18 mesh counts. Its texture is similar to pearl cotton, yet it retains its softness; strong but not scratchy. It is not strandable, so is very easy to work with -- just cut it and go. Vineyard Merino Wool is ideal for Bargello stitching on 18 mesh because it will cover that smaller mesh well on straight stitches, and its colors and numbers match much of the Vineyard silk.

You can use Vineyard Merino Wool on just about any stitch, but keep in mind that this covers best on 14 and 16 mesh; if you use it on 13 you may want to double it on vertical and horizontal stitches, and it may be too think for small stitches on 18 mesh.

Below are some stitch samples using Vineyard Merino Wool. We also want to point out that this has some nice shades of purple — very rich — that are not always available in other lines of fiber. The stitches used, in order are:

Cashmere: A nice box stitch that is easy to compensate and works well on architectural designs

Double Stitch: Stitched with wool, perfect for fur trim on a coat. It also works well for shrubbery.

Horizontal Parisian: Works well in small areas and easy to compensate. Also good for large animals, bird wings and backgrounds. I used two strands on the sample, as it's on 13 mesh and needs a little more coverage than one strand offers

Diagonal Mosaic: Very versatile, good for backgrounds, sky, water, clothing, fields, angel or butterfly wings.
Kalem (Knitting): Looks like knitting, so great for scarves, sweaters, mittens or any other article of clothing you want to have a knitted look.

Oblique Slav: Wonderful texture for horizontal straight lines, wall or ceiling molding, and decorative bands on clothing. I've stitched it using one strand and two strands so you can see the difference.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Focus On: Alpaca 18

Alpaca 18 is a great thread to use when you want to achieve a realistic look for animals, hair and beards. It is 100% natural Alpaca, made in Peru from the Alpaca sheep of South America. While primarily used on 18ct mesh, it also works on 13ct mesh if you don't pull too hard and want a light look. Rainbow Gallery produces Alpaca in 19 colors, 12 yards to a card. It is a non-divisible thread, and one single strand is equal to two strands of Patternayan wool.

Alpaca 18 is available in natural animal colors and offers a variety of choice for animals, hair, beards, and other natural effects. It can also be brushed with a Bunka Brush or toothbrush to raise the nap a bit. When stitching with Alpaca 18, it's best to use shorter strands than usual so that it doesn't get worn out from too many passes through the canvas.

Some stitches/effects suggested for Alpaca 18:

Giant Horizontal Interlocking Gobelin (over 4 horizontal, 1 vertical thread) -- use for animal fur (cats, dogs, horses, etc.) see photo top left

Horizontal Interlocking Gobelin -- flat appearance (see photo top left)

Kennan -- animal fur (see photo top right)

Long and Short -- animal fur (see photo middle left)

Horizontal Parisian -- fuzzy animal, elephants, reindeer, horses, dogs, bird wings (see photo bottom right)

Velvet -- fuzzy effect, hair, fur (see photo bottom left)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stitch of the Week: Medieval Mosaic

This week's Stitch of the Week is Medieval Mosaic, an excellent stitch to know. Medieval Mosaic works up quickly, makes a lovely background or filling stitch for a large area and is very versatile. Use Medieval Mosaic with overdyed thread for depicting sky, water and beaches. Medieval Mosaic can also be used when stitching up wallpaper, carpets, clothing and rivers.

Medieval Mosaic is stitched in vertical rows. If you want, you may turn your canvas 90 degrees and stitch in horizontal rows (the end result will be the same).

The stitch is a series of Gobelin stitches -- one group is over four canvas threads, the other group is over two canvas threads. Each group consists of four individual stitches. The longer stitches step to the left one canvas thread with each stitch while maintaining the same stitch length. The shorter stitch units step to the right one canvas thread with each stitch unit. The result is a series of forward advancing long Gobelin stitch followed by a series of receding shorter Gobelin stitches. As you may have already guessed in subsequent rows the position of the long and short Gobelin stitches are reversed so that if you started with long stitches in the first row you will start with short stitches in the second row (and vice versa). See diagram for a visual representation of these directions.

Medieval Mosaic is a stitch that shows off flat, ribbon-type threads such as Neon Rays, Ribbon Floss, Flair and Sparkle Rays. It also looks good with stranded threads such as embroidery floss, Splendor or Mandarin Floss. Be sure to use a laying tool for best effect.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Focus On: Impressions

Impressions is workhorse thread -- it comes in many, many different colors (approximately 230), always looks appropriate and is very versatile. Impressions is manufactured by Caron Collection. It is composed of 50% wool and 50% silk. The combination of silk and wool is a popular one. The silk lends lustre while the wool provides durability. Also, silk and wool reflect light differently giving greater depth of color.

Impressions is a single stranded thread with a tight twist. One strand is equivalent to one strand of Pearl Cotton size 8. On 18 mesh canvas use one strand of Impressions for Basketweave and two strands for upright stitches. For 13 mesh canvas use 2 strands Impressions for Basketweave and three strands for upright stitches. For decorative stitches on either 13 or 18 mesh canvas experiment with one, two or more strands of Impressions to create the look you prefer.

Impressions combines well with other fibers. In the photos here it has been combined with Splendor for Diagonal Mosaic (see photo top left) as well as Cushion stitch. Either of these stitches would make an excellent background. Other stitches for use with Impressions include the Kalem or Knitting stitch which makes for elegant looking knitted garments as well as Giant Interlocking Horizontal Gobelin (at left) which would be perfect for animal fur.
Framed Pavilion (below) makes elegant clothing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stitch of the Week: Angelis

Angelis is a darning pattern -- the first that we have featured as a "Stitch of the Week." Darning patterns are a special breed of stitches. A darning pattern is essentially running stitches done in decorative repeats.

The possibilities for darning patterns are endless. Angelis is a popular darning pattern that works well as a background stitch or as a filling stitch for a large area. The best part of darning stitches is that they are quick to work up.

Because the pattern calls for numerous straight stitches done over five canvas threads, Angelis poses a risk of snagging and should be avoided on pieces where durability is a major consideration.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Stitch of the Week: Arrowhead

The Arrowhead stitch can be many things to many people. Our version of the Arrowhead stitch is essentially a Milanese stitch where the "empty" spaces are then filled with tent stitch.

For the stitch to be most effective, use two different colors. For a more subtle look, use two colors that are closely related or even two different types of fiber (overdyed + solid).

To stitch the Arrowhead stitch, begin with a regular tent stitch. Do three more diagonal stitches (over two, three and then four canvas intersections), each one beginning immediately underneath the last and each ending in the same row of holes as stitch number 1. The final stitch is a tent stitch which is positioned in the center of the over four stitch. Begin again with the next stitch unit, immediately underneath where the over four stitch began.

Start the pattern once again -- over one, over two, over three, over four, center and over one. When you have completed an entire row (or area), go back and fill in the empty spaces with Continental stitch.

The Arrowhead stitch is recommended for clothing, rugs, quilts, roofs, fish scales and border.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Upcoming Classes

We've got a lot of interesting classes coming up at Rittenhouse Needlepoint. We have a Shading and Thread Blending class on May 12. If you have not already taken this class I would encourage you to do so. The class is full of easy techniques that will get you thinking about your needlepoint in an entirely new way.

On May 19 we are offering a class on the Long and Short Stitch. This is the first time that we have offered this class. It will focus on learning the basics of the Long and Short stitch and also how to apply it in a realistic manner.

"Dude Up Your Canvas" is a class on making your own tassels that will be taught by our finisher Bianca Lindblad. On Saturday May 29, we have another guest instructor, Robin Bannister. Robin has taught at our store before and on the 29th she will be teaching a class in Embroidery.

Looking ahead to June, we will be offering a new class on stitching with overdyed threads (June 8) as well as a new Bargello class on Christmas ornaments.

Also in June will be our second Thread Tasting. The first thread tasting was so popular we've decided to have another. This time we are hoping to bring in fibers that we do not currently sell in the shop in order to get your opinion on whether or not we should. This is destined to be a popular class --be sure to sign up early!

The full class calendar is available online at:

Focus On: Crystal Braid

Crystal Braid is a wonderful thread available from Rainbow Gallery. It comes on cards in 10 yard lengths. The thread is 55% nylon and 45% polyester. It comes in 14 colors and is manufactuired in Japan. We carry the entire line at Rittenhouse Needlepoint.

Crystal Braid is intended for use with 18 mesh canvas. One strand of Crystal Braid is equivalent in size to one strand of #5 pearl cotton. Crystal Braid is also equivalent to Kreinik Braid #12 (tapestry weight) -- both consist of 12 strands of metallic thread braided together.

According to The Thread Thesaurus, Rev. Ed., the great strength of Crystal Braid is its "unique icy pearl look that shimmers" (p. 40). The thread also does not fray easily. It can be used anywhere you would use Kreinik Metallic Braid #12 and it is much easier to handle than Kreinik Braid being softer and more pliable.

Suggested stitches for use with Crystal Braid include Parisian Stripe (clothing -- top left), Chottie's Plaid (background -- middle left) and Hesitation (for both clothing and background -- lower left). I would also consider using Crystal Braid when depicting snow or a starry night.

The range of colors is appealing -- strong in pastels, especially greens.

Consider using Crystal Braid in your next project. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Aviva Trunk Show

Now at Rittenhouse Needlepoint until May 14 are the designs of local talent Meryl Packman and Aviva. Meryl is located in Cherry Hill, NJ. She has been painting needlepoint canvases for years and we are delighted that she has agreed to share her designs with us.

The show, while small, has some interesting and unusual canvases. There are a number of tooth fairy pillow canvases. A tooth fairy pillow is a great way to do needlepoint for the youngsters in your life. Truly a family heirloom!

Also available are a number of Judaica designs as well as images from the twenties and thirties featuring children at the beach and smart, sassy and newly liberated women.

Stop by the store and take a look. Remember, shop local.

Focus On: Vavoom

Vavoom is a new thread for us here at Rittenhouse Needlepoint. It comes in five yard skeins and is available in seven colors (white, black, red, tan, light gray, dark gray and pink). The thread is 100% polyester and consists of long hairy filaments attached to a fine, hallow core.

Interestingly, the thread looks quite different on the ring than it does stitched up. Loose, Vavoom appears feathery like a boa but stitched up it looks soft like angora. To fluff up the yarn, brush with a toothbrush or a Bunka brush. This will create the look of a beard. Vavoom can also be used for fluffy areas such as pom-poms and fur trim.

Suggested stitches for use with Vavoom include Gobelin, slanted Gobelin, Giant Brick and Encroaching Gobelin. Complex decorative stitches are wasted on Vavoom since the hairiness of the yarn obscures detail.

Vavoom can be mixed with wool to achieve a mottled animal fur. This would help to achieve a more realistic effect (hair is rarely one solid color).

The manufacturer also suggests that the thread can be curled by used a heated metal knitting needle and rolling the threads like a curler. I'll leave that for you to try!

Stitch of the Week: Paris

This week's stitch is the Paris stitch -- not to be confused with the Parisian stitch, a totally different animal. The Paris stitch probably ought to be called Tied Double Gobelin or Double & Tie as it is sometimes known.

The stitch is simple enough. It consists of two Gobelin stitches over four horizontal canvas threads. Both stitches are performed in the same row of holes and lie side-by-side. The final part of the stitch consists of a horizontal stitch over the two vertical stitches you have just made but also over two vertical canvas threads. The row of stitches progresses from left to right. Subsequent rows are staggered between the stitches of the previous row.

The Paris stitch has a good backing and is snag-proof (i.e., a good choice for a piece that needs to be hard-wearing). The stitch is most attractive in a single color but can also be executed in two colors for a striped look. Because both of the upright Gobelin stitches are executed in the same row of holes, a finer thread weight is recommended.

Because the stitch is slow to work up, I would use it as a filling stitch for small areas. It is also often suggested that the stitch has a woven basket look. Compensate the stitch with upright Gobelin stitches over two canvas threads (forget the tie down portion).

Monday, April 19, 2010

What I Am Working On

Well, I continue working on the "STJ" pillow that I shared with you last week. I've actually made some good progress though it is hard to tell in the picture. I have a long way to go. The diamond-shaped areas are a real bear! Just plain slow going. Basketweave is s-l-o-w that is just all there is to it.

I picked up another project this week (so what else is new?). This is a little Christmas tree ornament -- a silly thing really but for whatever reason it spoke to me. I got it from the Patti Mann trunk show. It's an underwater snowman of all things. Mostly I got it because I wanted to use a new fiber that we have from Threadworx. The fiber is called Legacy and it is one of these shaggy all-polyester threads. It looks just like seaweed which is where I intend to use it on the canvas. Also, I plan on doing the background in bargello using Crystal Braid, Flair and Overdyed Embroidery Floss (also from Threadworx). It should be fun.

Still not working on the Christmas stocking or the frog projects. Not sure what happened with these two projects. I was on a role and then presto my desire just left me as quickly as it came. I think if I can ever bring myself to return to these projects then I will pick up enthusiasm for them again but it's hard. So many great things to work on and never enough time. Also, these projects are both on 18 mesh and large in size so I think that has me discouraged as well.

No matter. It's all good. Life is too short to beat myself up over needlepoint.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Birds of a Feather Trunk Show In Store Now

"Birds of a Feather" began designing and selling hand-painted needlepoint canvas in 1997. According to their Web site: "In the late summer of 2007, Danielle Gann purchased Birds of a Feather. Her long history of needlepointing spans 4 generations, encompassing her own needlepoint shop she previously owned with her twin sister. Additionally, her mother currently owns her own needlepoint line, continuing on in the family tradition."

That's a lot of needlepoint experience and it shows in the well-painted canvases with appealing designs. The canvases have a graphical quality and include bright colors and abstracted elements that makes them both playful and impactful.

I particularly like the large collection of sampler-inspired designs as well as the florals. My favorite is a patriotic themed canvas that you probably have enough time to complete before Independence Day!!