Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Zecca Retreat 2017!

It's time!  It's time!

It's time to plan for Zecca Retreat 2017.  This is the big event of the needlepoint year.  Karen, of Zecca fame, and I have so much fun planning this event.

First she designs a canvas just for us.

Then I write a stitchguide for it and plan goodies to go with it.

Then you come for a weekend, April 29th and 30th, of stitching fun with me and, drumroll please..... Karen Hennessey from Zecca!  How fun is that?

As with most of my classes this is a pretty informal class.  We hang out, stitch together, laugh and have a good time.  I walk you though the parts that may be a challenge and I'm here to answer questions.  We are very relaxed.

This year's canvas is called Friends which I think is the perfect theme for not only the Zecca retreat canvas but 2017 in general.  The canvas is actually pretty cheeky, it's a bird talking to a stature of a bird in front of a painting of a chicken hanging on a wall that is covered in bird wallpaper.  Really?  That's pretty funny.  Design size is 11.5 x 7.5 handpainted on 18ct.

All details are on the website.  Sign up fast as this class is always a sell out!


Sunday, January 29, 2017


I love all of lulu mypinkturtle's girls.  The girls have such sweet happy faces with big beautiful eyes and the perfect pouty lips.  They really are a joy to stitch.  The designs are always happy and the spaces lend themselves to stitches and patterns, YAY!

The Angel Queen is our current mystery class and she is no exception in the land of cute and fun!  Today was the first lesson and we stitched the two areas that you know I tend to start with; the face and the background.  I'm nothing if not predictable.  :-)

Yes, her face is stitched in T Stitch.  Nice light coverage so let the shading show through.

The background is a fun new stitch that shows off one of our colors of Color Dreams Floche.  I love that it looks like ikat fabric.

The wings are a pretty little laid filling stitch with just enough weight to it that they come forward from the background but not so heavy that she can't fly.

Here she is all together, pretty and sweet.  Next lesson in two weeks.  See you there.

We do have a few canvases left in stock if she calls your name. Give us a call at 410.296.0405 or order online.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

So much new from Zecca

Ok, I admit it.  I love Zecca.  Her canvases make me happy.  They are whimsical with bright fun colors.  They have good spaces for stitches.  Since the subject matter isn't really real, I can experiment and do whatever makes me happy.

Not only did she have new designs of her own at market last week but she is now representing Sara Pulver who is a wonderful artist in her own right.

These are just a few of the new canvases now in stock.  There's so much more to be added to the website.  If you see something you like you know where to find us.  Just call 410.296.0405 or order from the website.


P.S.  Tomorrow is the first lesson of lulu mypinkturtle's Angel Queen.  She is such a fun stitch.  I can't wait to show her to you.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pretty Little Bees

It's time for new snap trays!

One can never have too many snap trays!

These are 6 x 8 when the sides are folded up.  Just the perfect size for  you to keep threads, scissors and laying tool close at hand.

The inside is a beautiful rich felt and the outside is a pretty print.  YUMMY.

You can order yours here in pink or green.  As always you can call to have one sent, 410.296.0405.


Monday, January 23, 2017

The happiest of florals and birds....

Every canvas ellen giggenbach creates makes me smile.  Such happy art.

New from ellen we have a cute bird on teal.

See, happy and pretty.  Perfect words to describe needlepoint.

If you are interested in any of these canvases, they are instock now.  Give us a call at 410.296.0405 or order online.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tent Stitch

Here we go....  Another how to from me to you.

Tent Stitch is the basic needlepoint stitch. 
It is a single stitch that covers one canvas thread on the diagonal.  It's that basic tiny stitch that you have seen in needlepoint forever.  Look at a canvas intersection and cover it with thread the same color as painted.  Pretty Straight forward, yes?

For the purposes of needlepoint, Tent Stitch can be executed as either a Continental Stitch or Basketweave.

Continental Stitch

Begin at the top, right side of an area, bring your needle up at 1 and down at 2 covering one canvas intersection. 

Continue across the row. 

Rows work right to left.
Stitches slant from California to Maine.

When you reach the end of the row, flip your canvas upside down.

Rows still work right to left.
Stitches still slant from California to Maine.

Continue in this manner, flipping the canvas at the end of each row.

As you get more comfortable with the stitch you will no longer need to flip your canvas.  The backside of your canvas should always look as shown below.   If you see short vertical stitches you are not following the correct stitch order.  You have slipped into Half Cross Stitch. Yes, Half Cross Stitch is also a Tent Stitch but we rarely use it for needlepoint.


Basketweave will look just like Continental Stitch on the front of the canvas.  It creates a woven pattern on the back of the canvas.  Whenever possible (aka whenever your area is big enough) use Basketweave, it will distort your canvas less than Continental and because of the weaving of the threads on the reverse of the canvas it creates a stronger finished project.  Think chairseats.

Instead of working rows from right to left as you did in Continental, you will work diagonal rows of stitches.

Begin at the top, right side of an area, bring your needle up at 1 and down at 2 covering one canvas intersection. 

Continue working diagonal rows up and down the canvas. 

Look at your canvas carefully.  Some canvas intersections have the horizontal thread of the canvas weave on top and others have the vertical thread on top.  It's important to pay attention to this. 

The rows where you work up the diagonal should cover horizontal canvas threads on the canvas.  The rows that work down the canvas should cover vertical canvas threads on the canvas.

Next up we will talk about starting and stopping threads.


Lizards, Cows, Moose and Dragons

Who but our very own Brooke Connor could be responsible for these super fun new canvases?

Lizard Maureen even sneaked her way into our last embellishment class and oh my!  She's a scream.



All are beautifully painted on 18ct count.  Each is more fun than the next.

See all of Brooke's canvases here.  Give us a call at 410.296.0405 or order online.

More new to follow.  I'm going to post a different artist each day.  Fun, fun, fun.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Add a little glow to your life

Sometimes you just want a little something different.  Glow in the dark beads might be just the thing.

Stitch them on, turn out the lights and watch the fun begin.

Some colors even change to an entirely different color when the lights are out!

We have complete sets ready with one of each color, just give us a call at 410.296.0405 or order online.  Lots of fun can be had with theses beads.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It feels like Spring

So what better time than now to announce the next super happy sunshiny mystery class

We love zecca and this canvas just called to us.  How could we resist it?  I have so many fun ideas for this canvas.  We are going to have a blast. 

We will stitch this canvas together in four lessons.  Classes will be March 12th and 26th, April 9th and May 7th; Sunday afternoons from 1-3pm.

Canvas design area is 11 x 14 handpainted on 18ct canvas.

You may join us in person or sign up for this mystery long distance and have us send it to you in installments.  The choice is yours.

Full details are on the website.

I hope you will join us. 

I'm even going to offer a little incentive.  The first 25 people to sign up will receive a discount on the cost of their canvas!!!  We will apply a credit of $44 to your first shipment. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Let's Talk - Stretcher Bars

We have a new stitcher.  She's actually a returning stitcher but it's been many years.  Things have changed!  Oh my have they changed.

We aren't stitching with persian yarn any more, and only using one stitch, or horror of horrors, just stitching a background.  It really is a wonder the art survived when all you could do was a brown background.

I thought I would do a series of blog posts on the basics in her honor. I'll file these away in their own section of the blog Tidbits and Techniques so if you want to refer to them you can.  Who knows, you too may have a friend returning to stitching.

Lets talk stretcher bars.

Stretcher bars are pretty magical.  Learning to stitch on them will improve your game.  Your stitching will instantly look neater and prettier.  What's not to love about that?  You will fuss and complain for the first few days until you get used to them.  But once you do, oh my!  Your stitching will look so much neater.

No more needlepoint that is warped and funny looking. 

There are even some stitches that you can only execute if you have your canvas on stretcher bars.  There's really a lot good to be said about stretcher bars.

We love evertite stretcher bars.  Yes, they are heavier than other bars, but they last and they hold your needlepoint super tight.

You start with 4 bars, you need to make a square.  The bars are sold in pairs at 1 inch increments.

Evertite stretcher bars have screws at each end.  This is where the magic starts to happen.  At each end of a bar the screw sticks out on one side and is inset on the other.

You want to push the bars together forming 90 degree angles for each corner of the frame.  The screw that was sticking out needs to be buried in the corner.  if it's not, your threads will get caught with every stitch.

Put the bars together so that they are smooth.

Once the frame is assembled push each corner into a window or door frame to square it up.  We'll assume the door frame is square.

Now it's time to start pinning the canvas on the frame.  We like to start with one tack centered at North, South, East and West.


Continue adding tacks  keeping the canvas flat and straight.  Put tacks on one side of the frame and then the opposite.  As much as possible you want the grain of your canvas to run along the edge of the frame.  That ensures it is straight.

Continue adding tacks until the entire canvas is secure.  You don't have to pull super tight at this point.  Straight is more important than taught right now.

Remember those screws in the corners.  There are two in each corner, a total of 8 on a frame.  Using your T Tool, insert it into the hole on one bar's end.  Start turning the screws in each corner until they touch the opposing bar.  All 8 screws should just touch the opposite bar.   Make sure you are still square.

Are you ready for magic?  Starting in any corner, turn your T Tool one or two complete revolutions.  Move to the next screw and turn it the same number of turns.  Continue with all 8 screws.  As long as you turn all 8 screws the same number of turns your frame will stay square.  You don't want a trapezoid.

Turn as many times as you need to in each corner until your canvas is nice and tight.

If the cat sits on your stitching or you lean your needlepoint against something and things get a little loose, get out your T Tool and tighten all the corners.

Magic, I'm telling you it's magic.  Your frame expands under your needlepoint to tighten it.  Why didn't I think of that?

More tidbits and techniques will follow.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Snowflakes and Flowers and Holly Leaves

Today was the final lesson of Determining Naughty or Nice.  Lots of little details to finish up.

Most of the details are quick, but there are a lot of them.

The holly leaves in the corners are pretty magical.  They are really just long stitches, lots of long stitches.

It's hard to see, but the background features delicate snowflakes worked with one of my yummy new floche colors!  The big painted snowflakes will all be beaded just like the one that is done.  Shhh, don't tell I didn't finish my homework.

The trees are the magic of a really good thread couched in place.

And at last the big fluffy poinsettia.   Mine is orange, just because.  If you are waiting for your package, yours will be red.  Worked in ribbon, the flower is big and puffy with lots of drama.

There you have it, all the details are coming together.  I still have some finishing up to do but it will get there..... one day.

If you would like a kit for Santa, give us a call at 410.296.0405 or order online.

Our next mystery is completely different, designed by lulu mypinkturtle, the Angel Queen of Hearts is sure to make you smile.  She starts in two weeks!

See you soon.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One canvas inspires another and then back to the first!

Tapestry Fair has this great series of canvases that show big bold baubles that are sort of funky, sort of sparkly, totally fun.

First there was the menorah and the Christmas Collage and I loved them both but not enough to want to stitch them.  They are too blue for me.

I asked Peggi of Tapestry Fair to use these as a jumping off point to create another design that would inspire me to stitch it.  She hit it out of the park.  The Christmas Abstract has all the beauty and detail of the original pieces but suits me so much more.  Super fun to stitch and one day I will finish it.

Going full circle, a dear friend requested that I use what inspired me in threads and stitches from the Christmas abstract to write a guide for the Menorah.  And so I did. 

It all came full circle from one canvas to another and back to the first!

If you are interested in either, give us a call at 410.296.0405 or order online.  Here's the link for the Christmas Abstract and for the menorah.


Monday, January 09, 2017

The Wish for More Time

This weekend was our first embellishment class of 2017.  We had a great group of ladies despite the snow.  They came from all parts of the country to visit and stitch.  Thank you all for coming!

When I teach an embellishment class I work out all of the details for the canvas ahead of time.  We then have two days to stitch and  have fun.  I wish we had more time together and more time to stitch all these gorgeous canvases!

The magical Huppe Bird from Zecca now has a stitchguide. It is going to be stupendous stitched.

Karen requested a quide for this fabulous Lily style tree by Raymond Crawford. 
You know I loved picking threads and stitches for this!

Pam stitched our lulu skater and she's awesome!!!!!

How about a beaver with a candy cane???

This hippo by Birds of a Feather was another super popular canvas. 
How can he not make you happy?

Dan in the Garden has so many wonderful opportunities for embellishment.

In the Rain by Penny MacLeod is another fun stitch.

We had a great group of super talented stitchers with quite an array of canvases it was so much fun.

More classes will be coming later in the year.  Maybe I will see you there.  Until then, if you would like any of these canvases kitted or just need a stitchguide, give us a call or order online.

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