This double sided hanging Santa is yet another favorite. It was a painted canvas with stitch guide and I love the beautiful details from the shading on the face to the gifts in his bag. I also have great memories of stitching this piece on the plane to and from a wonderful week in Paris! The same stewardess was working both flights, and we had a lot of fun talking about stitching in general and my progress on this little Santa in particular.
I guess if you have super powers like Santa, you're not limited to traditional animal based transport!
This piece was a painted canvas I picked up at my local needlework store's annual garage sale. I used fibers from my stash for Santa and the duck's beak, eye, and feet. I spent a lot of time coming up with a good stitch for the bulk of the duck (but I was not forward thinking enough to write it down). I'm also really pleased at how the background came out. Most of it is dark blue DMC floss. . .but there are also "clouds" of closely matching blue metallic that really turned out well. . . hard to see in the photo though.
I remember this Santa because I was stitching him during a trip to England with my sister, nieces, mom, and DH in 2000. The pattern was published in Stitcher's World magazine, and I think he's just the epitome of today's dapper, but traditional Santa.
Well, so much for my good intentions to post a Santa every day. . . Somehow yesterday got lost in the shuffle. To make up, here are two delightful Libby Sturdy Santas, her Jingle Bell Santa finished as a stand up plus a little Russian Santa ornament. These are two of my very favorites!
I didn't realize it until I was editing my photos, but I must have had a pile of turquoise floss sitting around a couple of years ago when I stitched these three little Santas from Princess and Me designs. Add some bright pink, and I'm not sure if I was thinking Christmas or Easter. But the pink and blue work great in these designs, and all three were a lot of fun to stitch.
As we all know, stitchers are exceptional enablers. And when I joined EGA and ANG, my stitching pace REALLY picked up. For novelty stitches and fibers, needlepoint really excels. . . and so most of my smaller Santas are canvas work.
The pattern for this little Santa appeared in the predecessor to Cross Stitch and Needlework magazine. . . and is really tiny compared to the 2-foot high "big Santas" at between 3 and 4 inches tall.
Subtitle for today's post. . . I am not a designer...
On a roll after finishing my 2 "big Santas," I tried to design my own. Here's the result. . . not totally horrible, but it does highlight the amazing talent of all our wonderful professional designers.
If I had to choose what type of stitching project was my favorite, I'd probably answer "Christmas stitching. . . especially Santas." And with SO many fun patterns and a seemingly often open invitation to go totally and enjoyably overboard with fibers and stitches, is it any wonder?. .
I had hoped to do a series of posts. . . a Santa a day throughout December, but found I didn't have that many. But I still will be posting photos of a series different versions of that jolly old elf between now and Christmas.
To start off, here is a photo of one of my three "big Santas". . .standing about 2 feet high, stitched mostly in cross stitch on 7 count fabric. I stitched this back in 1997 as I was getting back into stitching regularly after a pretty long absence.
Happy dance in progress here with the completion of three hardanger pieces (all the same pattern) that I have been stitching as samples for planned programs next February and March for my local EGA chapter. Here's the trio itself -- a stocking cuff, tea towel, and tiny little ornament, complete, pressed, and ready to go! Yea! Now on to charting the pattern and preparing instructions.
Just in time for the Halloween holiday, I'm doing a little happy dance celebrating the completion of a little project that has been sitting in the UFO pile for quite a while indeed. Here she is. . . a little Candy Corn Angel from a pattern by Pam Pabst.
She joins two other Halloween themed Pam Pabst angels. . .
And being unusually organized, I even managed to find a little spooky tree so the three can hang out together!
A friend recently asked me why I didn't have more posts on my blog about books. And since I don't have much recent stitching in a state ready to show ANYONE, this seemed like the perfect time.....
.....especially since I've found a NEW series of medieval mysteries by author Mel Starr, featuring Hugh de Singleton, surgeon, living near Oxford c. 1375.
So far there are three in the series: The Unquiet Bones, A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel, and A Trail of Ink. I've really been enjoying them!
I do find that each of my looooong list of series of historical who-done-its has a little different focus. In the case of the Master Hugh series, the author spends a lot of time with little details. . . mostly of ordinary daily life. . . woven in the the story-telling. Mel includes a lot about what folks are eating and wearing -- from the type of shoes a peasant might wear to the "high fashion" garb of a 14th century dandy. The focus seems mostly on quick glimpses about the life of "ordinary" people. . . which to my mind is most interesting. . . for example,. as what the type of hinges on the front door might say about the prosperity of a peasant family. The pace of these tales is fairly leisurely, which to me mirrors the slower pace of life of the time. . . and the fact that our hero, Master Hugh, is first a bailiff....then a surgeon, and only third a "detective."
I hardily recommend the series to those who read historical fiction both for the story AND the history. For folks who like fast paced suspense, these books may be a little tame.
I'm crossing my fingers this is just a start in a long series. . . especially since the authors of a number of my favorite many-volume series seem to be winding down.
I admit I have hardly been turbo-stitching recently, but have not abandoned my needle and thread. I recently completed a model of an interesting 19th century reproduction sampler for a new designer. Needless to day, I can hardly steal her thunder. So I need to wait to show you pictures until she launches her new web site. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, I have also finished a small Dresden Lace piece that was taught for our EGA chapter by wonderful teacher Jane Ellen Balzuweit. I enjoy doing pulled thread, and found that working on the very fine count linen wasn't really a problem. In fact, compared to doing pulled stitches on 32 count, for example, with the shadow work linen, you could make a little error and it really doesn't show. With around 50 threads to the inch, being one thread off just doesn't shout WRONG WRONG WRONG the way it does with other fabrics.
This piece is designed to be mounted on an Altoid tin top. . . so I need to pull my materials together and get that done. . . but as some of you know, I don't really enjoy doing finishing. . . so when will that be done.......???
Not a whole lot of stitching to show lately. . . because we've been ON VACATION, scuba diving in beautiful beautiful St. Lucia. And although I did bring stitching with me, it just doesn't go well with 90+ degree temps and multi-layers of sun screen.
Right now I also don't have photos of all the really cool stuff we saw diving (DH and I didn't take photos, but others in our group did. . .so I may have some photos eventually). But I do have photos of the lovely place we stayed. The resort is called Anse Chastenet, and it's by far the best resort I've stayed at diving.
Not too terribly long ago, scuba diving was a manly manly sport, so originally diving facilities were more geared to the macho adventure crowd. Happily that is changing, no where more so than here.
The resort is scattered along a mountain side:
With rooms open on all sides (can you believe this was a "standard" room!!):
Ours had this wonderful wrap around balcony, with views of the ocean and the pitons (volcanic mountain tops):
Add fancy and delicious meals. . .beautifully presented (DH absolutely REFUSED to let me take photos of my food). . . plus great diving. . . .and it was wonderful week! And yes, I did stitch some. . . on the balcony and on the plane. . . photos to come soon.
Moving ahead on Tricia Nguyen's gold masterclass, I've been working on learning some new (new to me, that is) goldwork stitches. Here is my sampler to this point with the several little new spots of gold, followed by a close up of the my doodle cloth.
From top to bottom, the new stitches are detached buttonhole, chain stitch with buttonhole edging (first try and second try), and guilloche stitch.
The DBH isn't a new stitch for me, but working it in gold was. . . and I must say, IMHO this is not the very best use for the gold. To me, it just looks rather messy. . .but then again, maybe in the right application it might be super effective. On the sampler, gold DBH is done in a small spot sample and then in little triangular patches in a geometric medallion. As shown in the photo, it doesn't really pop in good overall light. . .but does look much more impressive at night under less even light. This was a really interesting point Tricia made during the creation of the Plimoth jacket. The garments were made to be worn in the evening by candle light, and the gold work does look most impressive under that kind of flickering light.
The second stitch is a composite created with a base of chain stitch. . . with buttonhole worked along either side. I really liked this stitch -- once I worked the kinks out. I think it would make a really nice wide line. . . possibly an alternate to plaited braid.
The final stitch of this group was guilloche. I LOVED the concept of this stitch but was frustrated by my inability to keep it quite as even and pretty as it seemed to be in the stitch diagrams. Maybe I'm too close to it right now, and it will look much better to me after a week or two. Here are photos of the stitch in the heavier gold and as the veins of leaves made with the thinner silver thread.
So Months 1 through 5 complete. . . Months 6 through 15, here I come.
With little Leo complete, it's time to move on to another of my sea of UFOs. Near the top was Tricia Nguyen's goldwork masterclass. The most recent installment of instructions and background information was Month 14. . . while I had just completed Month 1. YIKES! So I stocked up on ink for my computer printer, dug out my sampler thus far (silk work done. . . but nothing else), and got to it.
Happily, the next couple of months' worth of lessons were not too taxing, so over the past week, I've managed to complete Months 2 and 3. (Each month, instructions are posted on new goldwork stitches plus an essay on the history complete with fabulous up-close research photos of key historic pieces.)
Here's the sampler with the Months 2 and 3 gold (and silver) stitches in place. As you can see in the picture, in some places the sample of goldwork is just worked rather randomly on the fabric. . . while in others the goldwork is incorporated into the silkwork motifs.
And here's my doodle cloth showing samples of the goldwork stitches (from L to R) chain stitch, twisted chain, heavy chain, four-legged and eight-legged spider stitches along with lengths of the two threads we're using. . . Benton and Johnson 371 (thicker) and 340 (thinner).
And here are several close-ups showing how the goldwork stitches fit into the larger motifs:
Four-legged spider stitches in geometric motif
Heavy chain stitch (in thinner thread) as spines of the leaves
Queen stitches in thinner gold as accents in geometric motif
So, I'm making progress! Yea! But Month 15 is due out later this week. . . so I better keep stitching before I fall back another month yet again.
Major Happy Dance time here with little Leo the stumpwork lion finally complete! Here he is, looking quite pleased with himself on his sunny grassy hill...and ready for his closeup.
The big addition in this post is Leo's elegant wreath. This was another one of the "so that's how they did it" moments. . .as I've seen lots of similar wreathes in historic pieces and tried to figure out exactly how they were constructed.
The process isn't terribly difficult, but it was time consuming. Step one was wrapping silk or silk perle purl around pieces of parchment. . . folding the silk covered parchment into shape, and tacking the finished leaf-like shapes into the wreath outline. The photos below show the wreath in process.
The last steps were scattering sequins around the flower outlines and adding a jaunty tuft to Leo's tail! I'm still pondering whether he needs a little butterfly or flower to keep him company. . . or possibly just a sequin or two scattered around him. But those details can wait. . . probably for quite a while. . . because there's still a lot of work to do on his companion, the little mermaid who has been waiting patiently while Leo took shape.
First some housekeeping -- thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. Apparently blogger is having some issues, and no matter what I do, it won't let me respond. So please don't think I'm ignoring you. I'll respond when blogger works out whatever the problem is. Now on to the post....
Still working on Leo! But in the meantime, I've completed a really fun needlepoint fireman nutcracker painted canvas by Damarj with stitch guide by Susan Portra. The piece belongs to a guild friend. . . who had purchased the canvas because her little boy loved firemen. Word is the "little boy" is now in his mid-twenties. (Boy can I sympathize with that scenario.)
This was an enjoyable piece to stitch and I very much liked Susan Portra's stitch guide. Her stellar reputation is truly well earned. Here's a picture of the full piece and a close up of the torso.
And here's the stitch combo that I'm adding to my reference notebook. . . the nutcracker's hair. . .made by alternating two diagonal rows of french knots with two rows of basketweave. I never would have guessed that this combo would create this effect!