Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stitching Every Day

Lucky Jackson is a self taught artist residing in Peterborough, Ontario. Recently she decided that she was going to fulfill one of her longtime goals: to create something every day! For 365 days she is going to create something and post it on her blog. You can click on the title of this blog to go to her blog and see more of the photos of her finished pieces. Also check out her website for more information about herself.

Her pieces have all been visually exciting and fun to look at. I love seeing the photo of the embroidered and appliqued piece and then reading the caption. Most have a funny little story that really adds to the charm of the pieces!

This lovely piece is called "Joan Love" and represents Joan from Mad Men. It is hand embroidered on vintage fabric with applique. I love the way she combines the different threads and stitches with the fabric choice for the background to create a piece that really represents Joan!

Frequently she has theme weeks, where for each day she'll stitch a piece that has to do with a larger topic. The picture above (one of my favorites!) represents one of the days she illustrated different jobs she had in the past. She named this series "Take this job and shove it week." I loved her story behind this piece and instead of paraphrasing, I'll just share her words: "I worked in a bakery and got to be around the smell of baking bread.... Yum right? The only down side was that my apartment at the time was located above another bakery... there was no escape from the smell though delicious it was . Maybe that's when I started having problems tolerating wheat ;). And no my uniform wasn't as cute as this one."

This last piece is also one of my favorites because it has such a warm feeling. I love the hand-quilted top and the feet sticking out. One of my favorite things about all of her pieces is her composition. She really has a knack for combining different shapes and textures to really make the whole piece look cohesive.

This series and each post I see on her blog inspires me to do more of my personal work every day. I look forward to seeing all of her future pieces and hope that they have inspired you to do a little bit of stitching each day! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Piano Benches

If you have a piano and would like a way to make your piano bench stand out, a great thing to do is to have a piano bench made! We have had a number of customers stitch piano bench covers, and have been enthralled with the results!

The most recent piano bench is one that our custom painter specially painted for her. It is a reproduction of the "Heavenly Chorus" panel from Klimt's Beethoven Frieze in Vienna. You can see a section of the original painting above.

Stephanie has come a long ways since last fall, when we had it painted for her, and is about half way done. She sent us an update with a picture of it, and it looks great! You can see the picture above. I'm sure that it will look fabulous once it's been finished into a piano bench!

This spring we had another customer who is a very prolific stitcher have a piano bench finished. She chose to use Bargello for this one. It looked great! I love the colors, and am sure that it looks fabulous next to her piano!

We just got a piano bench in stock. Our painter is very qualified, and has the ability to paint exquisite canvases per your directions. If you are interested in having one painted for you, or perhaps would like to take a look through our catalogs and pick one out, come on in! We'd love to help you! Also feel free to ask about our finishing! We have finishers who can finish your piece into a pre-existing bench, or you can even have a custom bench made! There are so many options for piano benches. It's fun to see all the ways you can make one special and personal!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Small Business Saturday

November 26, 2011 is "Small Business Saturday," a day when America comes together to celebrate the Shop Small movement and support small businesses like ours.

To help make the day a huge success, American Express is giving Cardmembers who register their card for the Small Business Saturday a $25 statement credit when they spent $25 or more at businesses like ours.

Don't miss on this opportunity to buy products you love and need for your needlepoint projects, and also get a savings in your credit card statement! Visit their facebook page today to register your card for this great event! We hope to see you on Saturday, November 26th!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Needlepoint Your Special Memories

As you may know from reading our previous blog entries, we have a fantastic custom painter on staff who can create any needlepoint canvas that you would like. This is a great example of how to take a special memory and memorialize it in needlepoint.

Recently we had a customer by the name of Alison who did just that! Her daughter got married this year, and Alison loved the bouquet so much that she wanted to do a needlepoint pillow of it! From a photo of the bouquet, shown above, our painter was able to create a detailed sketch.

After Alison approved the sketch, our painter converted the sketch to a beautiful painting large enough that once it had been stitched, it would be a lovely pillow.

As you can see from the photo above, Alison stitched this gorgeous pillow up, and is very happy with it! Our finishers were able to put the final touches on this special project, giving it a gusset using the fabulous special fabrics we have on hand from a local high end fabric shop, and incorporating the same colored threads she used in her piece to make a lovely cord for it.

This project was a work of love, and I am sure that Alison's daughter just loves it! If you would like to do a project that is special to you, and would like some ideas, or need help in making it come to life, give us a call at the shop, or email Jia, our lead painter at

Happy stitching!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Focus on: Accentuate

Accentuate is a gorgeous poly thread that is comprised of 70% polyamide and 30% metallic polyester. It is sold in 50 meter spools, in 148 different colors. This very fine metallic filament is very strong and flexible. You can use it alone or blended with other threads to give your color a little bit of a pop of glitter. You would use this filament in a 2:1 equivalent. If you're using Accentuate alone, you should select simpler stitches. It would be a waste of time to execute a complicated stitch with sparkly metallic threads like Accentuate because the pattern would not be apparent.

Use the Ashley stitch, shown in the photo above, to create a lovely background, a special clothing pattern, or wallpaper. In the example above, Stephen used 12 strands of Accentuate by itself to create the effect of this stitch. It's nice to see how beautiful this thread comes out when you're just using it by itself.

Another stitch that uses this lovely thread is the Framed Reverse Scotch Stitch, which you can see above. This stitch would look lovely in a design with a tablecloth, a pattern on curtains, and rugs. Once again, the thread is not blended with another color, but is placed next to another contrasting color. This little pop of shimmer really makes the yellow pop and gives this stitch added character.

The Raised Maltese Cross, seen above, is another fantastic example of a stitch that this thread really shines in. The combination of the loveliness of this stitch as well as the beautiful colors that Accentuate comes in, would make this an excellent stitch to use with Accentuate to create a patch of flowers or shrubbery.

Try this lovely thread out for yourself. By all means let us know how it works for you, and what you use it for! We love to see everyone's projects!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stitch of the Week: Rosemary

This past week we held a Thread Tasting class. In this class, we give you a goodie bag with samples of five to six types of thread that we carry. All of the threads that Stephen chose were beautiful. With each of the threads, Stephen also gave a stitch lesson.

One of my favorite ribbons we carry is Neon Rays Plus. I wrote a blog all about it back in August.

The stitch Stephen used to show how to incorporate this ribbon into your next project was the Rosemary stitch. This is a beautiful stitch that really catches your eye and can make your piece look special.

This stitch is completed in three parts. For the first part, which you can see in the image above, you will use basketweave to complete each square.

Once you have completed a 3 x 3 group of these squares, you will stitch two straight stitches over three intersections, following the guide above.

Finally, once you have finished stitching the straight stitches, you will complete the stitch by doing a small cross stitch in the middle of each cross, as shown above.

As you can see in the stitched sample at the top of this blog, this stitch looks best when using three different colors for each of the parts. A cotton thread, such as DMC or Hylas, or Mandarine Floss, shown in this past blog post, is perfect for the first part where you use the basketweave stitch. Use Neon Rays + for the second step to make the straight stitches (or "petals" as I like to call them) really pop. For the final step, use a complimentary color of the petal.

This stitch would look great as a border, a pattern on clothing, or used as a square in a stitch sampler. As I've mentioned, this stitch would also look great as a little flower patch.

I hope you give this stitch a try, and feel free to send us a picture of how you incorporate it into your piece!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stitch of the Week: Nobuko

The Nobuko stitch is a great stitch for creating special effects in your piece. It is a textured stitch that is worked in alternating long and short diagonal stitches, and is worked in rows similar to the Continental Stitch. It can be worked in a single color or multiple colors by row.

To stitch the Nobuko, you will work from right to left. Bring your needle up through the canvas and over one intersection (1-2 in the diagram shown). After that, you will bring your needle up one row under the first (3), and then you will carry the stitch over three intersections (3-4 in the diagram shown). The next stitch will be over one section, and then you will continue in the same way across the row you are stitching. When you are stitching the next row (as you can see in the picture below) you will be working in the opposite direction.

There are a lot of great threads you can use to really emphasize this attractive stitch. Flair is a very pretty ribbon thread that you can use to create snow. Threadworx Overdyed thread is great for stitching sky and water. To create snow, sky or water, you can use Silk and Ivory and Silk and Ivory Stardust. To create fish scales, you can use Perle cotton in either #3 or #5, and you can also use Trebizond.

Focus on: Mandarin Floss

Mandarin Floss is a beautiful and easy to use 6-strand floss made of 100% Bamboo. Stephen, one of Rittenhouse Needlepoint's owners, says it lays better than cotton because it is softer, yet it is still very strong. For these reasons, it's very similar to silk, but it has the benefit of being less costly! You would use this fantastic thread wherever you would use embroidery floss, strand for strand. Ply up or down to suit your needs, of course. We recommend using four strands of Mandarin Floss for 18 mesh. For 14 mesh, use 6 ply. For 14 count cross stitch fabric, use 2 plies.

Above is an example of this thread stitched up. I chose to use the Milanese stitch, which was very easy to learn. The Mandarin Floss just glided through the canvas and gave me no problems. It didn't snag like cotton sometimes does, and it really is very soft! Another great thing about this thread and also with this stitch is that Mandarin floss has a semi-matte finish, so it doesn't overpower other stitches. So, if you use the Milanese stitch shown here, and blogged about earlier in the week, you won't have to worry that it will look distracting or overpowering.

Some other stitches that Mandarin Floss would look great with are French knots, Moorish, Damask, Byzantine Scotch, and the Fancy stitch.

Come in to the store and check out this fantastic fiber. We carry 120 of the 132 colors in the line, and they're all beautiful!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stitch of the Week: Milanese

The Milanese is a lovely simple stitch that can really enhance your needlepoint. The Milanese stitch is comprised of triangle shapes arranged in diagonal rows. Depending on the effect you want, you can stitch each row in the same color, or you can do multiple colors. It would also be striking to use an over-dyed thread (like the image above), which would give the canvas another interesting dimension!

This stitch is a great stitch for filling larger shapes and backgrounds because it can be slightly bulky depending on the thread used. You can see in the sample above that it is stitched using Perle cotton. Because this is a thicker fiber, it would be best for a background stitch. This way it won't distract your eye from the focal point in your piece (unless you want this to be the focal point in the piece of course!).

You can use this stitch to create realistic mountains using Pebbly Perle, Perle cotton, or an overdyed thread. It is also great for Southwestern motifs, especially with an overdyed thread that combines the colors in your piece.*

We hope you enjoy using this lovely stitch in your needlepoint! Let us know how it works for you!

* p.40, Stitches For Effect, Suzanne Howren & Beth Robertson, 1996.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Focus on: Gloriana Lorikeet Wool

A few months ago we built up our thread selection in the store, and one of the lines that we purchased was Gloriana's Lorikeet wool. It's a beautiful hand-dyed over-dyed 100% Australian wool. It is a great choice for embroidery, crewel, needlepoint, punchneedle and counted-thread. It comes in a skein of five yards, and is plyable to nine strands. One strand can be used on 32 count linen or in any combination of 1 to 9 ply depending on the fabric and use. We recommend using six strands on 13 mesh.

Above are some samples of how this beautiful fiber looks stitched. The bottom right sample is stitched in continental. The bottom left is continental again, but the threads are reversed. You can see how this creates a total different look! The top right sample is stitched in Basketweave, and similar to the bottom row, the left stitched square is stitched in Basketweave again, but this time the thread is reversed. It is really amazing how different the sample looks depending on how you stitch it!

Lorikeet has shades of colors within the rainbow, so you may find between one and five shades in each color range, which is great for shading!

If you're wondering what kind of stitches this thread looks great in, and how you would incorporate it into one of your pieces, I have some suggestions. The Ashley stitch would be really effective on a rug, as would the Irregular Jacquard. The Criss Cross Hungarian stitch in Lorikeet would look great on a beard, so if you're stitching a Christmas stocking, try out this stitch and the appropriate color for Santa's beard! The Dutch stitch, is a fantastic stitch for a stone wall. The Hungarian Stitch is also fabulous for cushions. Also, when you're stitching a person, whether it's santa, or a figure in a landscape or ornament, consider using a complimentary color and trying Turkey Work for hair! That would really make your piece stand out!

I invite you to come into the shop and check out all of the gorgeous colors we have of this thread. We have the full line, so there are a lot to choose from, and will give you lots of opportunities to try it out in whatever piece you're working on!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stitch of the Week: Fern Stitch

The Fern stitch is a lovely stitch that can be used in a number of ways. It consists of pairs of overlapping diagonal stitches worked in vertical rows. It has an inter-locked look, and is a medium texture pattern. This stitch can be incorporated as individual or group columns. It is perfect as a border or background.

The advantage of this stitch is that it works up relatively fast and is very versatile. You can use the chart shown as the rule, but also keep in mind that you can vary the length of the arms. The only disadvantages are that it creates a bad backing and is a yarn hog. If you would like to use this stitch on your piece, make sure you have more than enough thread!

When you are stitching this pretty stitch, work from right to left in vertical rows. This means you should work from top to bottom only. Do not attempt to do this stitch from the bottom to the top. When you reach the end of the column, stop and bury your thread. Start your next column back at the top.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bargello In The Media

Missoni, a world-renowned designer brand, just created a special limited edition collection for the department store Target. From the headlines we've been seeing this morning, it seems like it was a huge hit! Target's website was so flooded with customers eager to buy Missoni's products that it crashed multiple times, and as is normally only seen on Black Friday, there were long lines, with many stores selling out within a half hour of opening. The picture below is from an article on apartment therapy of the writer's local store shelf 20 minutes after opening. Pretty crazy!

Besides the appeal of having a designer product that didn't cost you an arm and a leg, I think that Missoni's line is really interesting because they incorporate elements of Bargello that have been around for hundreds of years. They are especially interested in the Flame stitch, which you can see in this bedspread they have in the Target line.* Although it's not actually stitched, it incorporates the flame stitch pattern in its design.

Jonathan Adler is also very interested in using traditional needlework. He's used needlepoint in the past for many of his pillows. Now he has an entire line of Bargello themed pillows. The one on the right is from his current line. It's called the Bargello Worth Avenue Pillow.

If you haven't ever heard of Bargello before, Bargello is a type of needlepoint in which you stitch upright flat stitches that are laid in a specific pattern to create geometric patterns. It is usually stitched in wool on canvas because it is very durable. When you're stitching a piece that will be made into a piece of furniture or a rug, durability is definitely important! The chair by Charles Newhaven Interior Designers shown in the photo is done in Bargello. Bargello is a great stitch for pillows, upholstery, and even carpets, but not for clothing unless you're using a patterned fabric that looks like Bargello (Missoni has definitely found a way to do that successfully!).

Bargello designs are very colorful and normally use more than one hue of one color. This will create a very detailed shading effect. As mentioned before, the patterns are normally geometric, but you can use bargello to create stylised flowers or fruits.

Our finisher, Emily, found this great Bargello piece at a thrift store. There were actually two in the set! She picked them up for a steal (a few dollars each!) and finished them into lovely pillows. This heart pattern is really pretty and whimsical but incorporates the traditional Bargello stitching.

If you're interested in learning Bargello, we are developing a Bargello class. Get in touch with us and we'll put you on the wait list and will notify you when all of the details have been solidified!

*picture found on Apartment Therapy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stitch of the week: Floral Cross

The Floral Cross is a lovely stitch. It is a large stitch, so it needs lots of room to develop its pattern. This stitch is hard to compensate, so choose space wisely. This pattern would be excellent when stitching ornate backgrounds, borders, clothing, stocking cuffs, large baskets, and quilts.

It's most effective when worked in three colors/threads, or three values of the same color family. Perle Cotton, Impressions, Silk and Ivory, Rainbow Tweed, and Velvet are great for the four single diagonal stitches. A thinner thread like Perle 8, Rainbow Linen, Kreinik #8 or #4 and Lacquered Jewels would look perfect for the cross stitch. Waterlilies, Vineyard, Splendor, Perle Cotton, Watercolors, and Impressions would also do very well for the remaining straight stitches.

I hope you try this beautiful stitch out in one of your projects! Let us know how it turns out because we love to see your work!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stitch of the Week: Fancy

The Fancy stitch is a stunning decorative stitch that is very effective when using two different threads. It looks especially good when used on waterfalls, rivers, paths, gardens, mountains, patios, porch lattices, victorian gingerbread house trim, wallpaper, borders, and clothing. Consider using an overdyed thread with a complimentary solid in Flair, perle, stranded cotton or silk.

For a dramatic effect, combine a metallic with silk, cotton or wool as shown below.

For a shimmery effect, combine Frosty Rays with Flair as shown below.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Needlework Accessory Kits

Button and Earring

Cross stitch and Embroidery Kits

We have just released a big selection of kits we developed here in the shop! We were so inspired by some of the cross-stitch, embroidery, and needlepoint accessories we've been seeing lately (which you can see in this past blog entry of ours) that we thought it would be fun to make up kits so that you guys can make your own stitched earrings and pins! I've been working on these kits for the last two months, and they're finally finished and ready to sell on the floor!

We have a good selection of designs in cross stitch and embroidery, and soon we'll have some needlepoint ones featuring special stitches, so no matter what your favorite stitch method is you'll find something fun! Above is a picture of me wearing the pie earrings, which feature two different types of pie! One side
is cherry, and the other is blueberry! There are cherry, pineapple, and strawberry earring kits, and soon there will be an apple earring kit too! For buttons, we have an adorable cupcake kit which you can see to the right. There's also a darling sparrow, bunny, and a banana which you can see below! These are only a few of the delightful designs we have. There are more in the store.

All of the kits include an embroidery or cross stitch
design/pattern, thread, finishing instructions, stitching instructions for beginners, a needle, fabric, earring backs for the earrings, and a pin back for the pins. The cover button maker kit is sold separately, but the great thing is that each button maker kit has at least 4 buttons included, so you could get a few designs, and do them all with only one cover button maker! These kits are really affordable and are a ton of fun to make. It's really satisfying to know that you made something that you'll be able to wear!

I hope you like these and will hopefully come in and try your hand at one of these kits!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Stitch of the Week: Dutch

This week we're focusing on the Dutch stitch. This stitch can create a really dramatic look on your needlepoint canvas depending on the fibers you choose. It can be worked all in the same color or with a different color or thread for the tie-down.

This stitch would be excellent for baskets, stone walls, shrubbery, mountains, borders, and clothing. I can definitely see this as a pattern on a piece of clothing!

For a really striking look, choose an overdyed thread from lines like Watercolours, Threadworx or Impressions. Select a matching solid color stranded cotton, silk, ribbon or Kreinik for the tie-down. Also think about using two color values of the same or different threads. That would be a nice way to create depth in the piece!

Try this simple but elegant stitch out for yourself! Feel free to show us how it turns out in your piece by posting an image of it in the comments! We'd love to see how you worked with it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Focus on: Neon Rays +

A few months ago we received a few more lines from Rainbow Gallery. One of them was Neon Rays +. Neon Rays is a fantastic ribbon to use in needlepoint and ribbon embroidery. Neon Rays Plus is just as easy and fun to stitch with and has pretty metallic threads imbued in the ribbon. This gives the ribbon a little more sparkle and would make the piece you're working on pop even more. Neon Rays + works best for straight stitches, as this will really highlight the metallic threads in the ribbon. Some special stitches that will make this thread really shine are the cameo stitch, diagonal cashmere (which you can see demonstrated to the right in Chartreuse Neon Rays +), diagonal mosaic, oblique slav, and the rhodes stitch.

Diagonal Cashmere is an easy stitch that really has a nice finished look. It is a great stitch for clothing. Check out the diagram below to learn how to stitch it in your project.