Still Life from Quimper

Still Life from Quimper
A shot of an almost-completed still life needlepoint

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So very happy you came to visit. Now, pull up a chair, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and read on about adventures in needlework.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stitching Post - counted needlepoint

I've promised a stitching post on this blog, and wanted to give a little bit of background as I launch into showing the pictures.

In June of 2004, I went to the TNNA trade show in Columbus, OH, the largest trade show for yarn and needlework shop owners, teachers, and designers. Yes, folks, we really, really have our very own trade show and it is as wonderful as your imagination lets on. You get to see all the really beautiful things out there and make selections as you stare at yummy colors and different textures. The show offers classes in everything from knitting to finishing needlework to needlepoint to more of everything. I selected counted needlepoint for a couple of my classes, since I wanted to become more familiar with this art and thought that more needlepointers would be interested in this form, too.

I took a class where you stitch an authentic English teahouse shaped like a teapot. I'm not kidding. It's a real, truly live place where the artist who designed the pattern had tea with her family when she was vacationing in England. The artist's name is Libby Sturdy, and she publishes under the name Just Libby Designs (website is, which I am having a little trouble getting onto this morning). She was a terrific teacher, one who understood that students are going to ask a lot of questions and she will need to repeat herself and explain the steps in her designs clearly. Libby made sure that we went through the entire design booklet step by step so that we could make notes about what the directions said, and that we also stitched the most complicated portion of her design in the class. I was suitably impressed and went home, full of delicious English teahouse energy.

So here we are, 4 years later, and I'm on the second floor of a three-floor teahouse design. I will say that I like to work on projects a little at a time, rotating as I become tired of one design and starting on another. I've always been this way: I find great enjoyment from starting one design, picking up another, and moving onto a third when I become bored with an earlier one. I understand now that there are official Project Rotations on people's blogs - glad to know that I was on the cutting edge all along! The other thing is, I like to finish my needlepoint and move onto the next section, then the next, then the next, and there are many, many embellishments on this teahouse. For example, the windows are stitched with the basketweave stitch, then
overstitched to make the mullions, then the outer parts are stitched with padded satin stitch (a really cool technique - it requires you to stitch a long stitch in a perpendicular direction to your planned satin stitch, allowing the satin stitch to stand out more [think stonework] and for the long stitch to peek out through the gaps in the satin stitch), and so forth. All very well and good, and all instructions are laid out page by page, section by section instead of taking the easy way out by saying "refer to paragraph x on page 7." But I finished the entire 2nd floor this spring (go me!), and took pictures of it when I took pictures of the Lopi purse. Here they are:

The canvas is a gold-flecked mesh, which you can't see very well in the picture. The section on the lower right is what we stitched in class - there is a blue wrought-iron fence which you stitch in its entirety, then stitch the urn and flowers on top of it. The left-hand side is how the right-hand side looked prior to embellishment - all you can see is the urn (and on the canvas, the fence).

OK, so I didn't turn the .jpg when I brought it in, but you get the general idea. The blue is the fence, stitched in its entirety, then the urn (that you can see in the picture above), then the flowers and trellis in the urn which are overdyed ribbon done in French knots. Not the easiest thing in the world to do, but makes a great effect.

This shows the first floor which I stitched in 2004, then put down for a long time until a camping trip with friends in 2006. Most of the stitching is self-explanatory - midnight blue Gold Rush, Anchor floss, DMC perle cotton. You can see the front stoop at the very bottom of the stitching that uses the padded satin stitch - the blue ribbon is peeking out from beneath the individual strands of metallic satin stitching. It makes the whole section look like, well, a step. The part that had me give up in frustration was the stone work. It's very much a free-form decision between padding with purple under grey, grey under purple, or tent stitch. It was fun for a while, but then it had to sit for a while until I wanted to do more free-form (and finish the stonework before moving onto the side windows and the walls. Which for me was a lot more fun. But looking at it on this post, I really, really like the effect of the stonework.

This is the second floor, which I worked on this spring. I had noticed a boo-boo with one of the side windows (like, I overstitched the area where the midnight blue was supposed to go, which is probably why I put it down and didn't pick it up again!). Each of the windows is overstitched, either with tent stitch on top of basketweave or with single straight stitched to show the individual panes. Then the outside of each window is stitched with more padded satin stitch, and I gotta say, I love the way that the corners are mitered. I have another counted needlepoint piece that I may use this same technique on since it's so very effective here. The second floor stonework is sectioned by padded satin stitch and tent stitch to give the effect of wattle-and-daub for the second story.

So again, it's a case of finishing the window, stitching over the same window, stitching around the same window, etc. I like the effect, I just have to put the stitching down for a while after I've finished with that particular bit of time.

Here are the last of the pictures of the work thus far:

We'll see when I next pick this up - I'm working on a Mirabilia fairy, and finishing a pillow case that's a pre-stamped companion to the one I stitched for my "trousseau" in 1991. Oh, and by the way, the blue pre-stamped ink does come off the fabric. Just thought you'd like to know!

More later.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bag with Handles

Aside from the fact that I mis-sewed (is that a word?) the handles back-to-front and I had to re-sew them front to front and back to back, the bag is ready for felting. You'll see on these pictures that these are the mis-sewn handles, but you get the general idea.

Here's the completed bag in all its glory! Off to the washing machine . . .