Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mellow Yellow Class #1

This was the weekend — the first Mellow Yellow Class! Melissa Shirley designed this great purse canvas that we unveiled at our trunkshow in April.

I am designing a stitch guide for it and teaching it sort of as a mystery class. Every few weeks we meet and I unveil the next section stitched.

First we tackled the background.

It's unconventional to stitch the background first in needlepoint, but there are times it is a great solution. Our background pattern is a fun repeat of octagons. It's a lot easier to count octagons throughout the background when you don't have to work around previous stitches. We just stitched, counted across open areas and viola, the background began to come to life.

The pattern uses 3 threads to complete the stitch. First a metallic and then vineyard silk in beautiful Scotch Stitches followed by little accents of an overdye silk. All combined it makes for an elegant background reminiscent of a quilted Chanel bag — perfect for a girlie pink handbag and just what I wanted.

A fun time was had by all. Stayed tuned and in a few weeks there will be more to see!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Remember my Compulsions

It's about time I posted something with a picture. We need more color.

You may or may not remember that a month or so ago I posted how incredibly O C D I could be. I spent an entire evening looking for just the perfect tote bag to go with a piece of needlepoint.

I ended up with 4. Here's my silly rantings on that evening.

Once they came I sent the favorite tote of the moment to the finisher along with the needlepoint dutifully embellished with more than enough crystals for any self respecting tote bag.

Here's what arrived today. Do you my finisher and I are in synch? It's fabulous! She of course added even more crystals - Crystals all around the border of the needlepoint. The crazy tassel is her addition. It has a pink bird on it just like the birds on the elephant. Too fun.

This will be my needlepoint bag. Not my bag for projects but the supply bag. That has embellishments and beading supplies and pliers in it.

I love it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Woo Hoo a Spiffy New Look for the blog!

Hi All

Just wanted to show off the new look for the blog. I decided that after 96 posts it was time for a face lift. Guess that's like 70+ people years.

Not only do we have the new look but we now have google search on the page so if you lose a post, but remember that it had something to do with purple monkeys you may just be able to find it via the search box.

Next trick will be adding a listing of all my favorite blogs to the page. Hopefully we'll figure that out toot sweet. I may just know of a few that you haven't stumbled upon yet. There's always hope.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So Many Opinions

Wow, I seem to have hit a nerve with my last post. I've been reading other blogs and comments on mine and it's all very interesting.

We all have our favorite things about this hobby. We can all agree that we love it, love the colors, love the threads and for us no matter how we do it, it's relaxing. Some find relaxation in plain basketweave, others in fancy stitches, others in counted work, yet others in random surface embroidery on canvas. Yes, I did say random. :-) Sometimes it just depends on the day of the week what is relaxing.

So, as there are many different options for doing the craft, there are just as many options for who we as designers are trying to reach. We want to see this art continue.

I remember my very first piece of needlepoint. I took a summer class just after 6th grade and diligently finished a sampler. It was probably 14 x 14 on 13ct. Stitched in acrylic yarn in somewhat fancy stitches. It had a heart, a sailboat, a kite, my name in the middle and something else. Okay, I was bored then, but I was told that I had to do that or I couldn't do something that I liked better. A friend of mine points out that I could be the poster child for ADD. I admit to having the attention span of a gnat. I'm also not a good doodle cloth, practice stitcher kind of gal.

I did learn in that class so many years ago that I loved threads and wanted to play with them and that love never faded. I've tried all kinds of different things. Some experiments I decide are a bad plan and I will never do again. Bobbin lace falls in that category. Bobbin Lace isn't fast nor is it friendly for pick it up, put it down working.

So, back to topic..... We all know that the way to reach a certain group of stitchers is with a good design and a basic stitch. My point with the last post was simply how do we reach a different group of stitchers - the younger ladies who I see come into the shop. They are attracted to the fancy stuff, they want to learn, they want to complete the piece but wow what a pile of threads that they don't yet understand. For that one segment of future stitchers I offer to simply start writing my own stitch guides slightly differently, including a master list of threads and threads for a section at a time. If this allows the new stitcher (who may not be truly a new stitcher but may only be new to stitch guides) a moment to breathe that's a good thing.

I want to see this art continue and evolve. To do that we need a little of this and a little of that basketweave, fancy stitches, painted canvases, line drawn canvases, counted work. We need it all and more.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Stitchers

I've been thinking and talking to people and thinking some more about how we get younger stitchers comfortable with what we know and love - lots of stitches and lots of threads.

I'm not talking kids. That's a different group but what can we do to help the 20 - 40 year olds who are interested but overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what's now available? Where do they begin?

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and she made some very good points that I think I'm going to try. She was thinking about a friend of hers who is semi-crafty might like to learn but wow, look at this pile of threads. Look at the price of the threads. She has a 6 year old son and is a single mom so we have to be smart with money and her time.

Step one select a canvas.

Step two, hopefully the canvas has a stitch guide so that once at home she won't panic. Otherwise the shop can help with this.

This is all good but even with a small canvas as a beginner you and I both know the cost of the project is mounting. Canvas, threads, stretcher bars. All that stuff that we need and love.....

We know she can buy her threads a few at a time but as a beginner, how does she begin to know that without agonizing over the stitch guide. Where to begin?

Lightbulb moment!!! Here's the suggestion. Write the stitch guide in segments. Okay, we do that. We as stitch guiders write the instructions a section at a time telling the stitcher exactly what to do where, but what we fail to do is tell them what threads they will need for just this section of the project. So, instead of here's the grocery list for the entire 4 course meal here's the grocery list just for desert. Wow, cool!

Encourage a new stitcher to buy just enough for this one section, make it easy and friendly and then invite them back with project in hand for the next segment of the project.

We can now break a stitch guide into more manageable bites and quickly learn what newbies are loving and what they may be struggling with. We make it fun and social. It's just a quick trip to the local needlepoint store to pick up a few things on a manageable budget.

I'm going to try it. Watch my new stitch guides and see what you think. We'll have a master thread list of all threads needed for a project along with threads for each section.

Looking forward to hearing from you on this idea.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Captain Crunch French Toast

Okay, here's a little bit about me that you probably don't know and maybe don't want to know. I can't cook. I can bake because it's mathematical and very OCD (See earlier post where I admit that compulsion.)

Basically, I have no real interest in spending a lot of time cooking and then eating in 2 minutes. At least with dessert you have leftovers.

I do however love the Food Network. Of course we all have our favorites. Mine happens to be Guy Fieri. I'll watch him cook anything and I will say that the few things that I have attempted following his recipes have been awesome. Can't say that for the rest of the things I have tried after watching shows from other hosts.

Besides a great cooking show, Guy also hosts Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. This show is rather like watching a train wreck. You just can't turn away no matter how hard you try. It has no purpose, what are the odds you are going to end up in any of these locales?

Guy came to our fair state who knows how long ago and visted the Blue Moon Cafe in Baltimore's Fells Point.

The Blue Moon Cafe is about as big as a minute and apparently serves Captain Crunch French Toast. So, finally ages later we go. The Captain Crunch French Toast isn't even on the menu. That gave me pause. Fortunately our waitress was also the owner and said no problem. She promptly brought it with what she calls the food pyramid on top, whipped cream, blueberries, strawberries and bananas.

Here it is, this amazing concoction that takes Captain Crunch my favorite cereal to eat right out of the box as a kid to new heights.

Pretty, huh?

There you have it, nothing to do with stitching but if you ever find yourself in Baltimore with a hankering for Captain Crunch here's your destination.

Happy 4th of July.
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