Friday, December 28, 2012

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”

*quote from Claude Monet

In the middle of winter it's nice to have a beautiful bouquet of flowers to remind you of spring. There are so many gorgeous floral canvases to be stitched that would remind you of spring year round!

 This Orange Hibiscus canvas by HP Designs is gorgeous. I can just imagine how beautiful it looks stitched. It's a 5 x 5 canvas, so you could either have it framed, made into a small pillow, or have it mounted in one of HP's lovely lacquered boxes. This canvas is perfect for an advanced stitcher who does not necessarily need a stitch painted design. Blend threads together to create seamless shading in the petals. Soie Dalger would be lovely.

This isn't necessarily a spring setup, but these Sunflowers by Melissa Shirley are really beautiful. Melissa Shirley has such a reputation for having truly great painted canvases. This is no exception. Try some beading on the "center/seeds" of the sunflowers and some ribbon work with Flair on the petals. Also, a woven stitch would look beautiful on the border.

This adorable canvas called "West Porch August" is by Maggie & Co. I love its whimsical flair. The colors are really bright and cheerful. Try some special stitches in the stripes on the watering can. Also, a fun shiny thread like Kreinik (perhaps this color) would look nice for the polka dots. This piece is just 4 x 4, so it would be great as a coaster or a small framed piece. This piece would be a very nice pick me up during the long cold months of winter and would be a quick fun stitching project.

This gorgeous Lenten Rose canvas by Barbara Russell is really stunning. Barbara Russell does a great job with stitch painting, so this canvas would be great for someone who likes doing larger projects but does not like shading or deciding where one color starts and another stops. Try some silks to really make the different flower parts pop out. I'm sure some special stitches would also look nice, but because there is so much going on in the design of this piece, you don't necessarily need to have special stitches to make this project special.
Flowers are a great way to make a dreary winter day feel bright and cheerful. Perhaps a flower canvas would help enliven the mood of the day!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dig in!

We love food here at Rittenhouse Needlepoint. Some of our customers think all we do is eat because we sit at the table to eat together at lunch, and they often come in when it's our lunch time! So, when it comes to needlepoint that celebrates food, we love a lot of them!

This Popcorn canvas by Studio 2 Ltd is a lot of fun. It would be great for a tv room, especially if you love vintage posters and designs. Try out some new stitches with it. An open background stitch would look great over the yellow. Also, you could try some Flair and do a ribbon stitch over the word Popcorn.

This Persimmon piece by Shore Bird Studio is really lovely. I love the Asian design in the background. This piece would look really beautiful with some Pepper Pot Silk for the Persimmon. Also a nice idea would be to do an open stitch over the fruit with some stranded thread like Soie Dalger. Use a laying tool, and it will lay really flat. Something with a little less sparkle might be nice in the background. It would really make the Persimmon pop. I suggest trying Burmilana. A variegated thread would look very nice, but if you want something solid, they have a beautiful solid line.

This Sushi Plate was painted by our in-house painter. It's a great little canvas that you can really do a lot of things with. Whether it's using specialty threads, special stitches, or even just sticking to the tried and true favorites of Silk & Ivory or Pearl cotton.  

This Piece, Love, Joy oven mit canvas by Sew Much Fun is adorable. It would be perfect as a decoration in your kitchen! The great thing about this canvas (besides its adorable design!) is that it  comes with a stitch guide, so if you don't know what stitches to use to really compliment the quaint feel of it, they're already laid out for you. If you click on the link above, you'll be directed to our website where there's a picture of the stitch guide. You can get an idea from the cover picture of what it looks like all stitched up.
If you like food as much as we do, perhaps one of these canvases will appeal to you. Check out our website. We have a few different food inspired categories, whether it's a general food category, or fruit or vegetables. There are many to choose from and lots of different opportunities to have fun stitching something that will look great in your kitchen or dining room!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Scissor Cases

Last week we covered Eyeglass Cases as good gift ideas. Another great idea would be a scissor case! There are so many great designs, and there are some really unique shapes too, from flowers, to the standard "scissor" shape shown below, to sea shells and more. 

This Clown Fish Scissor Case by Amanda Lawford Artworks is a lot of fun. I love the bright colors, and I love that it is double sided. Both sides are really visually interesting, and would be fun to stitch. It is painted on 13m canvas, so you would need a thicker thread. Silk and Ivory is one of our go-to threads that we recommend very often. It comes in a wide range of colors and each color is really vibrant. If you haven't tried it, give it a try!

This Chinese Ming Vase Scissor case by The Studio Midewest is so pretty! It's a really classic design, and would be great for someone who is more conservative. Pepper Pot Silk would be a great choice to stitch with for this project. 

For your fashionable friend, this plaid case by Associate Talents is really chic. Vineyard Merino is a great choice to stitch this project with. It's strong and durable, so it will stand the test of time, and it comes in a great selection of colors.

This Pansies Scissor Case by Whimsy and Grace is really beautiful. It comes with a tassel to attach when it's being finished, and the colors are so bright and eye-catching. Try Splendor, Soie D'alger, or Impressions when stitching this canvas. Either of them will give a nice shine and will emphasize the saturated colors of the flowers.

Scissor cases are great little gifts. Some stitchers may not think to stitch a special case for themselves (although they're a great way to store your scissors in a personalized and pretty case!), so if you stitch and finish one for them, I'm sure they will really appreciate it. Check out our Scissor cases for some more ideas. There's lots to choose from!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Eyeglass Cases!

A great gift idea are Eyeglass cases! They're small projects that don't necessarily take a lot of time to complete, and they're relatively simple to finish! There are so many different motifs you can choose too.

This Heart Geometric Eyeglass Case by Elizabeth Turner is really bright and colorful. It would be great for someone who enjoys girlier canvases. It would also be fun to stitch because you could definitly try special threads or stitches. Some possible thread choices could be Threadworx Overdyed Floss, Mandarine Floss, Silk Opal, or Pepper Pot Silk.

For someone who's a little more conservative this Apple Blossom case by Silver Needle would be a perfect pick. Impressions is a lovely thread to use on 18 mesh canvases and comes in a wide array of lush colors. If you don't mind stranding your thread, Planet Earth's 6 ply silk is really pretty too.

For a vintage look, this Anemones Eyeglass Case by Whimsy and Grace is a funky choice. Vineyard Silk has a huge line, and the colors are all really saturated. Soie D'alger is a similar thread, except that it is strandable. Combined with the shiny quality of silk both of these threads would be a nice choice to stitch this eyeglass case with.

One of my favorite Eyeglass cases is this Cat case by Barbara Russell. Barbara has painted the cat really well, and it has just enough detail in the cat and the sofa to really keep a stitcher interested while stitching, not to mention how nice it will look when finished. Try using something a little fuzzy for the fur. Petite Peluche would work really nicely, and it doesn't have a big nap, so it won't get caught on anything or rub too much when it's in your bag. For the couch, Impressions, Vineyard Silk Classic, or Pepper Pot Silk would look really stunning.

If you're wondering what to get a friend or loved one (or even yourself) perhaps an Eyeglass Case would be a good choice! Check out the Eyeglass Cases category on our website. There's lots to choose from!

Happy Stitching!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Folk Art and Needlepoint

Needlepoint and Folk Art lend themselves well to each other. I think this is because needlepoint has been an art form that is rooted in the home. Women (and men) have needlepointed for thousands of years, starting as a way to stitch up their canvas tents* and evolving into a domestic craft that illustrated the times and people's cultures worldwide.

Folk Art has been characterized by its ability to reveal the lives of common people. It is/was not primarily created by trained artists but mostly by untrained artists who wanted to create images of their daily lives. Folk art is an excellent way to study different cultures and the values they treasure.

Grandma Moses is a very familiar American Folk Artist.
Her paintings illustrate rural towns and the people who live in them. Many of her paintings were inspired by different holidays and seasons, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July, and etc. It's important to note while looking at her paintings that community was important to her. Everyone is interacting and seems to be enjoying themselves.
Even if the painting depicts people performing manual labor, they are not unhappy. They are working together to enhance their community.

The canvas on the left, "Summer Homes on Pond" by Maggie & Co. reminds me of Grandma Moses' type of paintings because there is a celebration of rural life and Americana. The landscape is lush and beautiful, and it looks like a pleasing place to be! Maggie & Co's canvases are all fun, and many have a similar Folk Art appeal.
This canvas, called "The Pecking Order" is a great example of another of their adorable pieces!

Another artist who embraced his people and culture is Diego Rivera. He was a Mexican painter who is celebrated for his mural paintings from the 1920s through the 1950s. He is also well known for his
tumultuous marriage to Frida Kahlo. His paintings are narrative. They tell the stories* of his fellow people and depict the changes Mexico was going through at that time.

One of our favorite designers is Sundance Designs. We recently had the pleasure of hosting their trunk show at the ANG Seminar here in Philadelphia. Their line is full of beautiful designs that depict Native American and Mexican designs,
culture, people, and aesthetics. The fun canvas to the right, called "Day of the Dead Fancy Hat" is a great little piece that acknowledges the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. There are a few other pieces in this series, which you can see in our Southwestern section on our website.

Another of their beautiful canvases is this piece called "Adobe Dreams." I love their use of pattern and color in this piece. It draws
on important parts of that culture and allows you to use your creativity with different stitches and threads to really embellish the piece and make it yours.

Nautical paintings are familiar among Folk Art collections. This lovely drawing by William Golding is in the American Folk Art Museum's collection in NYC. It brings me back in time to when ships were common sights at the harbor. This artist obviously appreciated all different types of ships.
There are many different needlepoint canvases that also celebrate nautical scenes, whether it's the beach, boats/ships, fisherman and fish, or the landscape itself. When I think of Folk Art inspired needlepoint I can't help but think of Birds of a Feather. They are really masters of the style. The piece to the bottom left is called Night Sail, and it reminds me of
the drawing above, except perhaps a tad more stylized. I love the use of color and motion. The piece below and to the right is another of my favorites of theirs. It is called Fisherman. Like "Night Sail" it really emphasizes color.

Birds of a Feather have such a distinguished style. Their pieces are a lot of fun. We are looking forward to having their trunk show this coming May and seeing all their canvases together!

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of the different types of Folk Art inspired canvases that we carry and have access to. If you would like to see more, check out the Folk Art section on our website. Also make sure to check out the American Folk Art Museum's website (or if you're in or near to New York, take a trip to the Museum and see their inspiring collection of Folk Art in person!)

Happy Stitching!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tis the Season!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is right around the corner!
Here at Rittenhouse Needlepoint we love getting in the holiday spirit. We have a tree in shop that we decorate with our finished needlepoint ornaments and when customers' projects are finished, we hang them up for display until they're picked up. It's a great way to show everyone how beautiful a Christmas tree can look when filled with beautiful needlepoint projects!

One of our favorite ornaments, and one that is stitched often in our shop are these Santa Ornaments.
Here is a photo to see how they look finished. They're just darling! I love the fluffy beard and the candy cane custom cording!

Another of my favorites is this colorful Elf ornament by Ruth Schmuff. This series is a lot
of fun. You would finish it in this diamond shape with some custom cording and a little ribbon hanger, perfect for displaying on your tree or mantel!

We have many beautiful Christmas stockings in stock, but this snowman Christmas stocking by Treglown is one of my favorites, partially because it really lends itself to using special threads and stitches. Of course if you're a fan of the Basketweave stitch, you can use that stitch as
well, and the piece will look great too! This has been proven here a number of times. We recently had two customers finish a Liz stocking. They are known for their exquisite scenes. Many times people will use special stitches to enhance all the different areas of the canvas, but it's also true that often people like to stick to the tent stitch and stitch exactly what is painted. We had this situation happen when two ladies bought the canvas in the link above. One lady stitched it in basketweave with Pearl Cotton, and one of the ladies stitched it with lots of special stitches and threads. They both came out beautifully, and it was great to see the different ways you can finish one canvas!

This Santa Flip Flop by Shelly Tribbey is so cute! I really like her
whole series of flip flops. They are the perfect small project that can be finished into mini flip flops and hung from a little ribbon. She has many different flip flops for many different seasons, so it's possible to do a whole series of them as well!

Whether you are doing a Christmas stocking, ornament, pillow, or scene, we hope you enjoy your holiday stitching! Check out our finishing website to see some examples of past Christmas projects we have finished for customers. We hope you have a great holiday, and look forward to seeing all the lovely projects you have been stitching!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Crewel Class with Katherine Shaughnessy

"Queen Ann's Lace" from The New Crewel book.

Whether you're brand new to stitching or an advanced embroider, Katherine Shaughnessy's New Crewel Embroidery Workshop is sure to be a perfect fit. Shaughnessy is coming to Philadelphia on July 6 and will be stopping by Rittenhouse Needlepoint with a trunk load of her unique crewel works and autographed copies of her latest book, New Crewel: The Motif Collection. Come and learn the basics of crewel embroidery including Shaughnessy's favorite and essential New Crewel stitches, a little history, explanation of materials, finishing techniques and pattern transfer tricks. Participants will receive all the supplies needed to get started -- linen fabric, wool thread, needles and a hoop. Shaughnessy's Wool & Hoop kits,(after following the link, scroll to the bottom to see some of the kits we have in stock already!) supplies and books featuring her original designs, dozens of fun projects and over 20 embroidery stitches, will be available for sale. The workshop is $65 and runs from 2-4pm. Sign up by calling 215-563-4566. Space is limited.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Flower Club

If you have followed our newsletters, you may remember a notice a few months back about a flower of the month program we had been developing. Well, we have finally received our flowers, and the club is up and running! As you can see above, we stitched a bunch of the Tulips and had our finisher finish them. They are beautiful, definitely a perfect way to use your favorite extra vase! There really are so many different ways you can stitch them! You can do special stitches if you wish, and/or you can use specialty threads to make these gorgeous three dimensional flowers stand out even more. I stitched one up using Neon Rays, using a Satin stitch. It came out great, and was a breeze to stitch! Below is our Sunflower design. Like all of the flowers in this program, it is available in both 13 and 18 mesh canvas.
There are four different programs to suit your individual needs. The chart below details each program. You can also buy them individually (without signing up for the club) if you wish, but you would not receive a discount, which you would if you purchased the club. Prices are marked individually.
If you decide to sign up for the club, the flowers are shipped on the first Tuesday of the month. Your credit card will be kept in your secure notes in our computer system. It will be charged each month with the applicable tax and shipping. Your card will be charged for that month's purchase with or without threads and shipping charge, depending on your wishes. If you live in town, you can certainly come pick up the canvas and forego the shipping charge, but if you don't live close, we can certainly ship it to you! The club runs for the duration of the program selected, with no cancellations allowed.
We are all very excited about this club, and are looking forward to seeing how all of the flowers stitch up! Our finisher has mastered the finishing process for these special flowers, and using the same flower stems you would find in a high quality artificial flower shop, is able to make these looks very lifelike! Check out all of the flowers on our website. If you would like to sign up for the club, email or give us a call and we will get you set up with your first flower!

If you'd like to sign up for our newsletter, which this article was recently featured in, fill out the form below. We'll be sure to send you our future newsletters!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cross Stitch Fun!

Over the past year we've really expanded our cross stitch collection. We now carry kits and beads by Mill Hill, the magazine Just Cross Stitch, which always comes with lots of fun projects and news about cross stitching in general, a good selection of Bent Creek charts, and a great selection of beautiful artist reproductions by the Scarlet Quince, among others. We've definitely heard your voices and now have lots of projects to satisfy your cross stitch urges. :)
Just Cross Stitch is a great magazine. Like I mentioned above, it is full of great projects, from small ornaments to large pieces. As you can see in the photo, this month's issue features a project for a Lemon Tea design. We've seen a lot of coffee designs, which you'll get to see one of below, but surprisingly there aren't many designs for the tea fans out there! I know that I've been keeping my eyes out for one, and I'm glad that Just Cross Stitch now has one! Each project included in their magazine includes a detailed chart as well as a very organized materials and instructions section, so that there isn't any room for confusion. Another fun project they have had going on over the past few months is a "Main Street" Sampler. When it's finished it will look like a quaint village Main Street. Each month there's a new chart for another building. This month's building is "Ivy's Cross-Stitch Shop." There's a picture of how it will look when finished, and I'm sure it looks even more stunning in person!
Mill Hill Kits are great little cross stitch kits that often include everything you will need to complete the project. This kit, featuring a big cup of Cappuccino, is a fun little kit that includes a bead for finishing. It also comes with seed beeds, perforated paper for stitching, floss, needles and a chart with instructions. Mill Hill has a great selection of kits. They all have such fun designs, and it's great that they incorporate beads and buttons too. It really makes the process a lot of fun!
Our cross stitch teacher introduced us to Bent Creek. They're another delightful company who has a lot of great charts. One collection in particular caught our eyes. It was the Sampler Collection. This is because they have such beautiful classic samplers with a touch of a folk-art appeal. This sampler, entitled "Brownbird Sampler", is such a charming little piece! The perfect way to add a little bit of a folk quality to your house! To stitch up this little project, the chart gives you the option of using DMC or Weeks Dye Works floss, both of which we carry in the shop. Weeks is a great hand-dyed floss. It gives an extra special little touch to the project, and would certainly make areas like the bird or house stand out.
We also have some great kits by Michael Powell. This one, entitled Harbour 1 is a quirky little town. It looks very much like an Italian harbor town! This pretty kit comes with charts, pre-sorted threads, Zweigart fabric, a needle, and full stitching instructions. I love that this piece really embraces the illustration aspect. It looks very much like a drawing, just made in thread!

Cross stitch is a fun craft to take up. It's very similar to needlepoint, with the difference being that instead of following a painted canvas, you need to pay attention to the chart. I enjoy the whole process of cross stitch, and that you can really embrace the fabric you are using as well. In many cases, cross stitch patterns do not cover the entire canvas, so you will see the fabric. This really allows you to try out different fabrics, whether it's simply trying a colored fabric, or using one with a pattern or marbling effect.

Be sure to check out the cross stitch section on our website, and let us know if you have any questions about one of the pieces! If you're interested in having a private lesson, or would like to put your name on a wait list for a beginners, intermediate, or advanced cross stitch lesson, get in touch! We'll be happy to help!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's a Crewel World

I've written about Crewel before on this blog, but there are a few items that I hadn't mentioned before that I think deserve to be featured! Crewel is a form of surface embroidery where you use wool thread to employ a variety of embroidery stitches to create a design on fabric, traditionally linen. We've had a crewel class in the past, and are hoping to offer one again in the future, so that we can introduce you to this beautiful craft if you haven't been already!
This past winter we found out about Wool & Hoop, a small business out of Texas founded by Katherine Shaughnessy. Katherine's designs are simple and straight forward and are therefore perfect for beginners. She has a very informative book called The New Crewel. It's an excellent book, filled with lots of great information about crewel, from its origins to how it's being used in the contemporary world of needlework. The book has a great selection of her designs with project ideas, but she also has separate kits that we also sell. If you follow this link you can see all the crewel kits we offer. At the bottom of the list are all of the Wool & Hoop kits. Each kit comes with linen fabric, wool thread, needles, a blank greeting card and envelope, as well as instruction. These kits are great first projects but are also fun projects for more advanced stitchers as well, as the finished product is a lovely card you can send to a loved one! Who doesn't love getting such a special note in the mail?
Another great Crewel kit we have is this "It's the Berries" kit. It's perfect as a chair pad, picture, pillow or stool top. I like the vintage appeal of it, and think it would be great as a chair pad! This kit comes with a 14" diameter design printed on pure linen, 100% wool crewel yarn, a needle, cording, and complete stitching and finishing instructions. This project would probably be best for an intermediate stitcher, but since the stitches look like they're mostly satin stitch, it shouldn't be difficult to pick up quickly if you're a beginner and happen to be adventurous and love this piece!
Besides Katherine's book, we have a great book called A-Z of Wool Embroidery. This books is part of the A-Z collection of books. All of these books are great for beginners and advanced stitchers alike because they are packed with different stitches and projects. This particular book has a lot of valuable information about Wool Embroidery. As well as teaching you a wide variety of stitches that you can use in Crewel projects, it has a back section full of designs which you can transfer onto fabric and stitch up for yourself. It's a great book, perfect for anybody looking to learn about Crewel. Come on in to the shop or check out our website to see these crewel projects and more! I hope you enjoy learning about crewel and trying it out for yourself!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cats, Cats, Cats!

The cats heard that our last post was dedicated to dogs, and insisted that we do one for them! I love cats. They have such personalities, and will let you know what they want! Luckily, needlepoint has a lot of cat related canvases to fulfill my cute cat needs!
This canvas, called "Cats at Home" is by Needle Crossings. I love it because I'm sure that's exactly what cats do when they're left to their own devices during the day. This piece is on 13 mesh, and I'm sure it would look great with a variety of threads! Silk & Ivory would be a great base thread, and then if you wanted to highlight certain areas, like the cats for instance, you could use a Furry thread like Peluche.
Another great piece, shown above, is by JP Needlepoint. This would be a really fun piece to stitch. I think it is an excellent opportunity to use some furry threads. We recently had a customer bring in a similar piece to be finished, and our finisher stitched some mono-filament on the outside for the whiskers. It looked fabulous! This canvas is on 13 mesh, so threads like Silk & Ivory and Planet Earth Silk would be great threads to use.
These cat coasters by Princely Collections are some of my favorites. I love the vintage illustration style, and the fact that they are small, and each one is different, makes it a fun piece to stitch! It will be a really quick project. These are definitely pieces that would benefit from using fun threads!
This piece by Ruth Schmuff is another favorite. I love Ruth Schmuff's style anyways, but this piece is really adorable. I'm sure my cat dreams of catching fish and birds!
If you're looking for a cat collar, this collar by Voila is really sweet. Stitching a collar is a great way to personalize your cat's accessories. As I mentioned in the post about dog canvases, our belt finisher does belts, collars, and leashes. He does a great job, and will be able to finish this or any collar you would like superbly. If any of these canvases appeal to you, and there isn't a link to them on our website, you can order by phone. Give us a call at the shop and we'll be able to put together and order for you. Also check out our website. We have lots of cat canvases to choose from!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gone to the Dogs

We love dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, pretty dogs, ugly dogs. Come one, come all! Luckily for us it seems like the needlepoint community shares our love of these furry friends! From collars, to leashes, pillows, signs, and more, there are many different needlepoint canvases and products to choose from if you'd like to stitch man's best friend.

Barbara Russell is a very well known local needlepoint designer who excels in painting dogs. We have a number of her dog canvases, and they've been favorites for many people. The Westie shown at the top is one of her canvases, as well as the English Setter on the right. It is one of my absolute favorites, not because I have a particular interest in English Setters, but just because I love the way she captured the dog's gaze, and the lovable quality this dog possesses. Don't you just want to pat his head? In all of her canvases she also incorporates interesting patterns in the background. These always go to highlight the qualities that the dog featured possesses. The colors are captivating, and I could see using some fun threads to stitch pieces like this!

If you're looking for a funky kind of canvas, perfect for a child's room, the canvas below, titled "Running Dog on Yellow" by Patti Mann is an excellent option!
This canvas has such fun colors, and a great illustration style. It's on 13 mesh, and it looks mostly stitch painted, so it should be a great project for someone who's done at least one needlepoint piece before. I bet a child would like this piece in their bedroom too!

We also have a good collection of collars and leashes. The collar on the right is beautiful, also designed by Barbara Russell.
I love the beautiful floral pattern, and the colors are really stunning! This collar would really pop against a dark haired dog, but I'm sure it would be beautiful against a lighter dog like a Golden Retriever or Yellow Lab. Our belt finisher also finishes Dog Collars for us, and he does a great job. They're very durable and are sure to make a really special collar for your pet.
Leashes are also a great way to personalize your dog accessories. We have some really great ones! This fun dog leash by Voila is really striking! The red background would really stand out, and I know our finisher, the same one who does the belts and collars, would really do a great job! We love dogs and are so proud to have such a great selection of canvases that celebrate these lovable creatures. Come on in and check them out some time, or get in touch if you have any questions!