Monday, September 16, 2013

Remodeling and Needlepoint Don't Mix

On New Year's Eve, I made a resolution that I would stitch a minimum of one hour per day.  For the most part, I've stuck to it.  That is until mid August.  That's when we started to remodel our house.  Since then, my needlepoint has fallen to the wayside.

Our home has been graced with the architecture of the 1980's.  In my opinion, the 80"s were a scary decade: fashion, hairstyles and yes architecture.  For instance, the bathtub in the master bath is situated right in the middle of the room.  This was done to accommodate a planter!  Yep, you read that correctly, a planter so one could do some gardening as they relaxed in the tub. Hmmmm...makes me wonder who thought that one up....

Hopefully the bathroom will be completed soon and life will return back to normal.  In the mean time, I decided to work a canvas from the Kelly Clark nativity series.  This was part of a club that I signed up for through Amy's Golden Strand in Memphis, Tennessee.  Each canvas comes with a fabulous stitch guide written by Amy Bunger.  Amy's stitch guides are thoughtfully written and challenging.  I always learn something new when using them.

Here is my progress on Joseph after working on him off and on this past week.

The bottom border and background are the same on all the canvases.  Since I've already competed Jesus and Mary, this stitching has been easy.  I took the time to count out the trellis design to make sure that Joseph is centered in the design.  To help with the counting, I used a blue pen to continue the design on the canvas selvage.  This is a quilter's pen which will disappear when you brush with cold water.  I haven't had any problems with these pens, but I've heard from other stitchers that the blue lines can come back.  To be safe, I only use these pens on the canvas salvage.

You might also notice, that Joseph's facial features have been painted out.  Amy provides a detailed chart in each stitch guide that maps out the face.  Sometimes the chart doesn't match up what has been painted on the canvas.  At first, I thought I could stitch over the painted image, but the dark colors were showing through and creating weird shadows.  For me, it was just easier to paint out the face with good quality acrylic paint.

Here is a closeup of the border. I just love the way it turned out.

Happy Stitching!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Finish!

Lately, I've been frustrated by most of my needlepoint projects.  With some canvases, I've been stumped as to which stitch to use.  With others, I just can't get particular stitches to turn out the way I want.  When this happens, I find the best thing to do is to switch to a different project.  Sometimes a little break is all that is needed to get those creative juices flowing again.  That's exactly what I did this last week.  

This canvas is by Ewe & Eye and is called Dee. I'm not sure how it ended up in the closet in my WIP pile because all I had left to stitch was one of the arms and then attach the beads.  Easy!  I had stitched over the spots for the beads, so that they wouldn't get lost between the decorative stitches.  In doing this, I wasn't able to see where the beads were supposed to go.  Most people would just wing it and place the beads where they see fit.  But if you're like me, that is easier said then done.  

Before stitching a canvas, I always make a color copy.  I took that copy and darkened the black dots where the beads were to be placed. Next I carefully lined up the color copy over the canvas.

I pierced the copy and canvas with some large size tapestry needles.  Next, I carefully lifted the copy away leaving the needles in the canvas.

Now, I had the correct placement for the eyes.

I did the same thing for the mouth, too.

Here is the canvas all finished.  Yeaaah!  Finally a finish! The following pictures are closeups of this canvas.  I wish I could take credit for coming up with all these beautiful stitches and thread selection, but the credit goes to Terry Christopher from 2 the Point in Pleasanton, CA.  I love Terry's stitch guides.  She does a great job making sure that a canvas has perspective.  Notice how the snowman looks like he is coming forward, and the background recedes.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Retail Therapy in San Diego

I can't believe how quickly the last couple of weeks have flown by.  I've been a bit overwhelmed with some remodeling projects, a trip to San Diego for Comic-Con, and my daughter's college orientation.  Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of stitching done.  In fact I managed a whopping three hours.  No, that's not three hours a day.  That's three hours since my last post.  It's times like this that I wish there was such a thing as the "Stitching Police" so they could enforce my commitment of stitching one hour per day.

Although I don't have any stitching to show you, I did partake in a little a lot of retail therapy.  I went to three needlepoint shops while I was in San Diego.  All of them were absolutely wonderful: friendly, knowledgeable staff, and great threads and canvases.  San Diego knows how to needlepoint!

The first store I went to was Needle Nook of La Jolla.  They are in a beautiful part of La Jolla just blocks from the beach.  The store is split in two.  One shop for threads and another for canvases (with a linen store in the middle).  I stopped by the canvas store first and was helped by Beverly and Susan who were just awesome.  Look at all the trouble they got me into...
Sew Much Fun

Ewe & Eye

Canvas was not labeled with the designer's name.  If you know, please comment.
and these great books...

Merry Needlepoint

Ohhhh, The Essentials of Ribbon Needlepoint

Beards That I Have Known
After shopping at Needle Nook's canvas store, I needed a break.  After all, that shopping was hard work.  I went across the street to The Cottage for lunch.  If you fallow Vicky De Angelis' blog, Mostly Needlepoint, then that name might sound familiar.  Vicky is always raving about The Cottage, so I had to try it out.  It did not disappoint.  After lunch, I was ready for Needle Nook part two: the fiber store.

Needle Nook of La Jolla
Doesn't it look wonderful!  I'm not sure if you can tell from the photo, but there are sliding doors on each of the long walls which double the amount of hanging space for fibers.  I thought that was a fabulous idea.  Everyone at the Needle Nook was really nice.  As you can probably see, I had a lot of fun shopping there.

The next day, I visited Needlepoint of la Jolla.  I have to admit that I used to think that Needlepoint of La Jolla and Needle Nook of La Jolla were the same store.  I'm glad I realized my error, otherwise I would have missed out on visiting such a great store and meeting owners Michelle and Bill. 

I had such a nice time chatting with Michelle.  She has such creative finishing ideas.  Look at this little pillow...
Needlepoint of La Jolla
The t-shirt opens at the top for a bone (which was still being finished) to be inserted.  Isn't that the cutest idea!  Michelle also has one of the best fabric selections I've ever seen at a needlepoint store.  She must have close to twenty fabric books filled with gorgeous silks, cottons, etc...

Michelle's partner, Bill, also provides a unique service to their customers.  He paints custom orders.  I know that might not sound that different, but he does all the painting in the store.  So if he is painting a custom for you, you can stop by the shop to see how it's progressing.  
Bill's work space
Needlepoint of La Jolla
Besides carrying a huge assortment of fibers and canvases, they also sell Elizabeth Bradley kits.  These can be hard to find in California, so it's nice to know where to buy them.

I only bought one canvas, because, well, I ran out of money.  I can assure you that I could have bought a whole lot more.  I love this little egg  This is sure to be a quick stitch = instant gratification!
Associated Talents 

My last stop was at The Needleworks in San Diego.  This stop was a little sad because after 40 years The Needleworks is closing.  They are, however, planning on creating an on-line store.  You could tell that this store was special by the number of ladies who were just hanging out and stitching/knitting.  It's a cozy shop that makes you feel like you are visiting a friend.  I'm sure they will be missed by their customers.  Although, most of their stock was sold, I did find this cute Melissa Shirley canvas.
Melissa Shirley / John Johannsen
There were a few other needlepoint stores in San Diego that I didn't get a chance to visit.  I guess I'm going to have to go back!  For now, I think I better get stitching.

Happy Stitching...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Miss Bunny

After visiting John Johannsen's studio, I was itching to stitch one of his canvases.  You should be proud of me.  Instead of starting a new canvas, I went through my WIP pile and found this little bunny.  

Terry Christopher, owner of 2 the Point, created the stitch guide.  I love Terry's guides. Everything is well explained and charted, so you don't have to reference any other books.  I had started stitching this canvas last year, and then stopped because I didn't like how my ribbon flowers were turning out.  This was the first time I had ever used ribbon, and had underestimated how difficult it can be to work with.  So now it's time to practice stitching up some flowers on the margin.

 This is a photo of the stitch guide.  Terry's bunny is adorable!

Terry stitched the flower on the left.  Mine is the one on the right.  See what I mean about needing to practice.

Same thing here.  Terry stitched the rose on the left and I did the rest.  I like one of them, but the two all the way on the right have got to go.

I do love the way the fur and collar turned out.

Now it's time to finish this WIP!

Happy Stitching...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

John Johannsen

Claude Monet, Boats Moored at Le Petit-Gennevilliers

Last week, I went to the Legion of Honor to view their new exhibit: Impressionists on the Water.  It was a wonderful collection of paintings depicting water scenes along the Seine and the coast of France.  The picture to the left was one of my favorites: Boats Moored at Le Petit-Gennevilliers by Claude Monet.  Other works of art by Renoir, Pissaro, Caillebotte, and many more are featured in the Legion's galleries.  If you are interested in seeing this exhibit, here is a direct link to the Legion.  The exhibit ends in October of 2013.

After viewing all the wonderful paintings, I stopped by the museum's store and found a great book entitled The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe.  Some of you may have already heard about or read this book as it was published in 2006, but it was new to me.  I've always loved learning about the lives of artists, so this book is perfect.  I think it's fascinating to know the why, where and when behind works of art.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite modern day artists: John Johannsen. (If you are a fan of Melissa Shirley, then you have seen John Johannsen's work.  A few years back, Melissa began producing John's painting on needlepoint canvas.  Here is a link to John's needlepoint designs.) As you might have guessed, I was very excited to meet John and see where he created his work.

John's studio is nestled in the California foothills in a very unassuming warehouse type building.  The kind of building you could drive by hundreds of times and not think anything about it.  But once you step through the door, it's as if you stepped into another world.

Notice the picture above the bookcase...

I loved this dinning room table and chandelier.  The painting resting on the chair is so pretty.  

Here is a closer look at that painting.  I think it would look perfect in my breakfast nook.  It's the perfect view to enjoy my morning cup of tea.

The painting of the girl was one of my favorites.  

John's painting are inspired by the art work of Mexico

and Provence

with a little Lake Tahoe tossed into the mix.

Wouldn't this bear be fabulous to stitch!  (Hint, hint, Melissa.)

There was so much to see and take in.

Another fabulous painting.  Notice the painted luggage under the table.  I thought that was a great idea.

I have an old chair in my garage.  I'm thinking it would look great if I painted it like this.  Of course mine would never look this good!

Another whimsical chair.

These two monkeys are available through Melissa Shirley for your stitching pleasure.

This one is for all you cat lovers out there.

Hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of John Johannsen's studio.  I have a few more pictures to post, but they will have to wait until next time.  

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Matthew's Stocking

I haven't made a whole lot of progress on my daughter's stocking to justify a post.  So I've decided to show you the stocking I made for my son.  Both June McKnight and Terry Christopher helped me out with fiber and stitch selections.  The canvas was designed by Peter Ashe.  Hope you enjoy the photos...

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Halloween with Melissa Shirley

It wasn't so long ago when you would have been hard pressed to find a Halloween canvas.  Well, not anymore.  Halloween is second only to Christmas canvases and the margin is narrowing.  It's easy to see why - these Halloween canvases are so darn cute!  When I visited Melissa Shirley's studio, I fell in love with all her Halloween and fall themed canvases.  Here is a glimpse of what's available...

When you first enter Melissa's studio, you are greeted by this lovely cabinet filled with needlepoint.  (Who needs dishes! lol)

Hanging from a knob is this whimsical skull.  It was finished so that it could be filled with candy or other Halloween delights.

Isn't this adorable.  I love how the pumpkins just jump off the canvas.  I didn't notice this while I was there, but I think some of the pumpkins might be appliqued to the canvas.  At least that's how it looks in the picture.

This little guy just makes me smile.  It's a small canvas that would stitch up in a weekend. There are lots of different "monsters" available.  Imagine a row of them trick or treating across a shelf in your home....

This witch was fantastic!  Look at all the great stitches and fibers that were used.  I'm not sure what fiber was used for the straw sticking out of her hat, but it is really effective.  And the frog is the cutest.  His tongue is sticking out and looks three dimensional - maybe a picot stitch

On top of the cabinet, were these fun Halloween decorations.  The wooden stands look great and are a smart way to display needlepoint.  And doesn't everyone need a witch's house made of needlepoint?  I'm thinking that I do! 

Also on top of the cabinet was this great hat.

These two houses were not stitched, but I can just imagine how they would look all finished.  They are smaller than the larger houses that Melissa is known for, but just as cute.

This Indian maiden was one of my favorite canvases.  Here is a close up...

Everything about this canvas was just exquisite!  I think I definitely need to add this to my stash.

I have a few more photos to share with you, but they will have to wait until next time.  I need to get busy and get some stitching done.  Hope you have a great weekend.

Happy Stitching!