October 16, 2011

Just One More Row: Ruthy and Mary Ann

Greetings, all! Do you suffer from "just one more...[row][stitch][thread]" syndrome? I do, consequently, I am not getting a lot done around the house, although Ruthy (and now Mary Ann) are profiting. If you're thinking of stitching Ruthy, she's very time-consuming, but a fun and absorbing stitch. She may have been stitched free-hand by the original stitcher, but you and I, if we want Ruthy to look as her picture does, are going to have to count and count and count. And outline. And stitch and stitch and stitch. And after an intensive week of this, you'll look at her and think simultaneously "ahhhhhh" and also "That's all I accomplished even though I haven't eaten a real lunch in days and haven't folded the laundry and gone grocery shopping so that we're down to eating Triscuits and cream cheese over the sink for dinner?"

I finally put Ruthy away. I was tired of outlining leaves and satin stitching them, and tireder still of the filling stem stitch. I wanted to cross stitch! So I pulled out Mary Ann Gollins and finished up the basket in the center of the row.

Here's most of what I've accomplished so far. There's a lot left to go. But after all of Ruthy's outlining and filling and counting, it feels like Mary Ann is flying. [Edited to add: I started Mary Ann Gollins early this year. I did a conversion to silks from what I had on hand: AVAS, NPI and a couple of Silk 'n Colors. I'm stitching her on 40 count Picture This Plus Legacy. I stopped because I suffered uncertainty and doubt about her colors. While the charting is fine, the photo of the finished project is not clear and so badly reproduced that even the colors are not a sure thing. Added to which, the called for fibers are Madeira, so in order to do the conversion I had to find a conversion from Madeira to DMC then to silk, and I limited myself to what was in my stash since I wasn't working at the time. So I was left feeling uneasy about my choices, although I've decided to just get on with it, since in the end, who's going to know? For me, indecision=paralysis, and not just in needlework.]

Off I go to get some chores done and then go back to stitching...something.

Pink: "And spend some time with the bunnies."

Happy week ahead!

October 09, 2011

Specialty Stitches

Greetings, all! A couple of ladies have arrived: Ruthy Rogers and Anne Anthony. Ruthy is going to be a huge challenge, but I think she's going to be well worth it. I am stitching Ruthy using 36 count Lakeside vintage examplar and AVAS. Scarlet Letter samplers generally don't specify a fabric, and I had a hard time deciding between examplar and tundra (which is a gray/green/blue, if you're not familiar with it). It's almost beside the point since most of the sampler is covered in stitches, except for the border.

We got into a scuffle right out of the package. I'm determined to do this sampler as the original was done, using the filling stem stitches. They add a texture and interest you simply will not get from cross stitches. Although this sampler can be done in all cross stitch, I don't recommend it. I think something will be lost--the lovely crayon-y, naive folky look. Plus you'd have to be willing to do quarter and half stitches. But my initial stab at the filling stems was not encouraging. Note this closeup of my first attempt. Disappointingly sparse. You can see the outline stitch and the fabric between the lines. The photo of the stitched sampler shows lush, full stitching. I didn't want my stitches to look like a bad comb-over with scalp showing through. Hmmm.

So I continued stitching the counted part of the sampler with one thread and doubled the thread on the filling stem sections. Ahhhh--much better. Plus, it has the added bonus of filling it faster. A couple of cautionary words, though: in order not to go astray, you need to outline each of the motifs to be stem-stitched; and you really need to follow the directions in terms of stitching the counted cross stitch sections first. They will serve as kind of a frame or scaffolding, so that you can attach the stem-stitched sections; otherwise you will not be able to count accurately. I will stitch a section of cross stitches, then add the stem-stitches sections to vary things, and will move through the chart that way. One of the fun aspects of the stem stitches is that they don't head off in a consistent direction. The chart shows the direction they're stitched. The end result will look like random fill-in, which after the nice predictability of our normal, neat cross stitching, goes "against the grain."

Taking a step back to see more of the design:

I'm still working diligently on Sarah Hatton McPhail.

She has specialty stitches too. From the top: the first row is a row of long-arm crosses in a tan color, over-stitched with blue diagonal stitches and finished with a stem stitch in gold above and below the crosses; the script alphabet is cross-stitched in blue and then those stitches are four-sided stitched over in gold floss (blue and pink in the top row that I haven't stitched yet); the next row down is a series of long-arm crosses; beneath that are capital letters in tan four-sided stitch; then below that are gold rice stitches outlined on two sides with blue.

Anne Anthony arrived in all her splendor. I subbed out the linen for Lakeside Pecan Butter in 40 count. Those little over-one people are going to be a bear to stitch, I imagine.

I spotted Carriage House's "Noah" stocking at In Stitches. I've been meaning to start it forever, so I picked it up (along with the "Virtuous Woman" stocking). No specialty stitches, although I'm sure the finishing will be a challenge.

Forty count Lakeside (Examplar) using NPI as charted. The coat's a snooze, but I'm looking forward to getting to the animals.

I got this out again. I stopped it because I wasn't fond of the over-one coverage on 32 count, but really, I think it looks all right. So I re-kitted it, having cannibalized the threads. One problem--I had not noticed when I stitched it previously that the yellow capital letters should be rice stitches. I really like rice stitches, and I think these letters would look better done that way. Trying to decide whether to take them out and re-do, or just leave and continue with cross stitches. Oh well, not fatal either way.

Here we have a nice example of a bunny loaf. Peaches: "I am not loafing!"

May your week have ample opportunity for loafing and stitching!