Friday, March 30, 2012

Celebrate the Season With the Holiday Owl

The sixth and final owl in this preview is the Holiday Owl, all decked out for the most festive season of all in pink and green. He's also a little bundled for the weather in a couple of warm, furry textures as well, thanks to a little Fuzzy Stuff and Petite Peluche. There are variegated silks and holographic sparkles throughout too!

Here he is all set to fly down your chimney with his little silk wings:
Here he is stitched and flat, the better for you to see his holiday finery:
I was looking to do something special for his chest feathers-- something feathery but also I wanted the look of vintage-style glass tree ornaments. I came up with a variation on the Barred Beetle stitch, framing holographic green sequins in pink silk and metallic. Wait 'til you see how these shine!
His wings are pretty jazzy in Byzantine with Peluche and Sparkle Rays:
I chose a Very Velvet for the beak because of the luscious orange color it comes in; the stitch is a Fern variation:
I hope you have enjoyed this preview of my upcoming series. My distributor, Ruth Schmuff, mailed the first owl shipment out to stores yesterday, so get your needles ready! In honor of the current season, she has chosen the Spring Owl to be the first owl out the door, so you should get her in all her pink and green glory sometime next week. Hope you will enjoy and if you have any questions at all, please do send me an email. Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Needlepoint in the News

Could we be on the verge of a Needlepoint comeback? Everything else that was popular in the 1970's seems to be around these days, so why not needlepoint? It must have been nice back then when needlepoint was so popular; imagine how great it would be to tell a new acquaintance "I Needlepoint" and not get a blank stare or worse, "Is that like knitting?" Sadly, I have been on the receiving end of both those responses and others like them. This article from has been making the rounds over on Facebook today and I wanted to share it and some of the photos from the article with you here. It would seem that needlepoint is all over the fabulous clothes modeled in the Fall runway shows. Look at this tapestry-like design on a Balmain shirt:And this fabulous Dolce & Gabbana blouse:
It's amazing to see such a quaint design decorating a high fashion look! Sweater by Suno.
It actually doesn't surprise me so much to see beautiful embroidery from Valentino, however!
This Proenza Schouler tunic reminds me more of Japanese embroidery than needlepoint but is fabulous just the same:
So there you have it. I certainly hope this marks a beginning of a trend that will bring needlepoint out to the mainstream again. It certainly would be good for all of us already addicted-- new stores, new products, and even more importantly, new stitchers to keep our art alive far into the future!
I also have heard that a new movie coming out this year will star Susan Sarandon as a character who needlepoints and apparently, it won't be just a background thing, you will see some actual needlepointing in the movie. If that's the case, let's hope it's not a period piece but something in the here and now. I will see what I can find out about this movie and share it here. And by all means if any of you have any information about it, please leave it in the comments for us all to share.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

BOO! It's the Halloween Spooky Owl!

Halloween is my very favorite holiday so I knew that I had to create an owl dedicated to the occasion. I gave him raven black head feathers, a sickly but cute green face and a jazzy set of wings and chest feathers that were inspired by the snappy outfits worn by vintage Halloween figurines that I collect.

I love the little black wings the finisher added! Shall we call him Count Von Hoot?
Here he is pre-finishing so you can get a better look at all his fun details:
His head got the full Bride of Frankenstein treatment at the salon! It's a mixture of Sparkle Rays and Fuzzy Stuff. His face and eye rings are pretty Franken-ized as well:
Silk N' Colors floss accentuated with rows of beads and yes, that is good old-fashioned rick rack decorating his wings. I sealed the ends of the rick rack with a very light dab of fabric glue and then tacked it down over the canvas with a clear nylon thread. It looks sort of crazy and unusual so I love it for Halloween designs.
Belle Soie is a very subtly variegated silk which is one of the reasons I love it for needlepoint. It's never too "stripey" if you know what I mean. Plus it has the softest texture of any silk I've ever worked with. I combined it with Sparkle Rays and Panache to stitch his chest:
Hope this owl has you happily anticipating your next Halloween celebration. Who knows, maybe you will have yours stitched and finished in time for him to guard your candy bucket! The biggest celebration of the year will close out the Hoot Owls series preview, next time we will take a look at the Holiday Owl!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Welcome the Season with the Spring Fever Owl!

Looks like most of us are enjoying an early Spring this year and this owl definitely fits the mood of the season! Where winter was icy and pastel, Spring Fever Owl is all about brilliant, fresh colors and pretty, pretty flowers. But there's still a little furry and fuzzy there too, as Spring is a cool season after all! She's wearing a little Fuzzy Stuff and Very Velvet on her head and her chest is a little fuzzy in a hot pink Petite Peluche. The rest of her shimmers in silk and metallics.
Here she is back from the finishing parlor! Check out those pearls on the base, so sweet!
Here she is when she was still on her stretcher bars:
This owl's pupils are a breeze to create-- they are extra-large sized sequins in a black holographic finish. They give such a life-like sparkle to the eyes, I just love them! Her eye rings are Colonial Knots in a beautiful wool/silk blend.
Look at these sequins! So glad to see these flower shapes becoming more available to stitchers, they really add a special touch.
Her chest is a laid-fillings technique with a mix of furry and metallic threads:
I love Spring, I break out all of my pink and green clothes just as soon as I possibly can! Hope you all are showing your colors too and enjoying all this great early warm weather! See you back soon with another owl sneak peek!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Winter's Snowy Owl from the Hoot Owl Series

The pastel shades, fuzzy textures and the sparkle and shine of the Winter season were the style inspiration for the Snowy Owl. I picked through my stash for my iciest colors as well as five different shades of white in both metallics and furry textures. I think the end result is both frosty and cuddly!This detail of his wing shows a combination of Sparkle Rays, Wisper, Kreinik and beads, worked in a laid filling technique.
Another fun thread that gives a great subtle sparkle is Flair. I used a whole card of it for his eye rings, stitched in Loopy Basketweave. His pupils glisten with Delica beads worked in Basketweave Beading.
His beak glistens in a pastel orange shade of Water N' Ice. I placed two Sprat's Head stitches side by side for the shape.
Here he is all finished and ready to take flight on silken wings.
Hope you are enjoying these early peeks at the Hoot Owl series that begins next month with participating retailers. Spring Owl will be next owl profiled, please stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Challenge Updates and the Challenge to Come

Our Challenge stitchers over on Stitcherie were hard at work on Sammy over the weekend. Much progress was made and a great time had by all sharing photos, comments and suggestions, as well as just fun chatting, of course. We don't mind when the conversation goes "off topic"!
Here is Judy's canvas so far. We all had to talk her out of changing her water and it's a good thing too, I think it looks swell. (Pun intended!)
Karen is moving right along as well. She has done more stitching since this photo, but this one shows off her sand the best. The thread and stitch she chose really work nicely! She is currently a little frustrated with her sky though, she's listening to Don Quixote while stitching and says she feels like she's "tilting at windmills" herself. She made another good observation this morning when she said it may "take a village to stitch this canvas" and she's so right, Stitcherie really is a stitchy village!
Like the true stitchers we are, we are already planning the next Challenge even though we have just gotten started on this one. (And it is not too late to join in on this one, we have a few stitchers who won't get started until April so do join us if you want!) The next Challenge is due to start in June and our Challenge Master this time will be Colleen Church, owner of the fabulous needlepoint store The Needleworks in Austin, TX. We are all anxious to see what she will come up with for challenges, they are sure to be interesting as Colleen really knows her needlepoint. Plus, she is such a good sport that she agreed to come up with rules for two different canvases! This time, the voting was so close between two different designs it was decided to do both. (We are nothing if not flexible!) So this Challenge is going to be exceptional, I think as we are essentially doubling our fun with two canvases. What I'm wondering is will we have any stitchers intrepid or crazy enough to do both??? I hope so!

This is the canvas that had the most votes. It's called "In the Good Ole Summertime" by Dream House Ventures. Size 8 x 8 on 18 count.
This one was a very close second: Yellow Floral by Melissa Shirley, 9 x 11 on 13 count.
So we have a lot to look forward to for Summer stitching this year! Hope you will decide to join us-- remember, even if you decide not to stitch along, we have plenty of folks who "watch from the sidelines" and cheer the others on. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hoot Hoot, It's Fall's Harvest Owl!

Next up in my Hoot Owl series is Fall's Harvest Owl. I used to live in the Napa Wine Valley in California and even though I've lived in the Northeast for several years now (the land of nearly mythical fall colors and deservedly so) I still think of Fall colors in the terms of the grape harvest-- wines, purples, grape-leaf greens and the like. Those are the shades that color the Harvest Owl:His eyes have been beaded in Basketweave Twill with a blend of Silk Lame' Braid and shiny hex-shape beads for an amazing sparkly and textured effect. The pupil on this owl is an eyelet of Fyre Werks and Kreinik Braid.
I didn't entirely leave out the traditional fiery orange colors of Fall-- his chest is a gorgeous Belle Soie silk mixed with Sparkle Braid. The Sprat's Heads make for very stylized "feathers" and are stitched in the most delicious shade of fuchsia Petite Very Velvet.
The wings are Fuzzy Stuff and more of the Velvet, plus I decorated them with Swarovski Crystal Sequins in Fuchsia.
Hope you are enjoying these early bird previews of the series! For even more photos of each owl, please see my EyeCandy Facebook page.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Trunk Show Update

In case you feel like doing a little shopping this weekend, I thought I would update you on the two Trunk Shows I have going on this month. Fellow designer Ruth Schmuff is my distributor, so she sends all of our designs out to two shops each month. Beth's Needlepoint Nook in Louisville, KY is one of our hosts this month:
As you can see, Beth has been busy hanging a LOT of canvases! There's even more photos on her Facebook page. Stop by if you are in the area or give her a call, they do mail order too!

Threads LLC in Charlottesville, VA is our other host this month and Gretchen has developed a class to go along with the show, featuring my Witch Hat Topiary Tree. She went all out and put an amazing amount of detail and fun stitches into this small canvas. She is offering both a Wednesday class and a Saturday class as well. Check out her website for all the details.
Hope you have a fun Shopping & Stitching Saturday, whether you are off to the shops or shopping by phone-- have a good one!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Prismatic Quartet and Beach Blanket Bingo!

I cannot believe how fast time flies!! I just received my preview copy of Needlepoint Now in the mail, featuring part 3 of my canvaswork design, Prismatic Quartet. To me, it seems like it was just yesterday that I mailed the finished canvas off to the editor-in-chief, Elizabeth Bozievich. I cannot believe this project is almost over already-- it seems like it took longer to stitch than it did to publish!
Here are parts 1 and 2 of the design, already published in the Nov/Dec 2011 and Jan/Feb 2012 issues:
And here is part 3, coming in the March/April 2012 issue:

The completed design, thanks to the Needlepoint Now team for their great photography!
It has been great working with the talented people at Needlepoint Now. Elizabeth wears many hats, in addition to being the editor, she also designs the terrific layouts. I have always been completely delighted by how she has presented my designs in the magazine-- she framed my Floating Hearts design from May/June 2010 with candies and made my Winter Tree look like it was part of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree lot, how could I not love that?! For Prismatic Quartet, I have had the extra added pleasure of working with Vicky De Angelis, who edits the projects as well as doing the meticulous charting work. Being a fabulous stitcher herself, she is great at her job and fun to work with too! Thanks so much, Team Needlepoint Now, it is an honor to be included in your pages!
Now, on to the Beach Blanket Bingo portion of our program! Karen has been hard at work on her Challenge canvas and shared her progress with the group this morning:
Is Sammy's beach blanket fabulous or what? Karen has thrown down a gauntlet for the other stitchers for sure, I cannot wait to see what other great beach blankies our other stitchers will do! Sheena has mentioned doing a bamboo-style mat, using the Sea Grass thread. If you haven't read the rules for this Challenge, one of them is to use Thread Gatherer's Sea Grass somewhere in the design and I assume Sheena may weave her's out of that, thus fulfilling two Challenges in one step, a woven stitch being another one of the rules. Clever Karen has ticked off 3 Challenges in just one step: she used the Blueberry Watercolors, the strongly overdyed thread and a Byzantine stitch all together for the blanket. Well done, Karen! I can't wait for more, our stitchers are pretty intrepid. There has even been talk of using the Sea Grass to "weave" a picnic basket for Sammy, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ready For a Challenge?

What sort of a challenge you ask? A needlepoint challenge, of course! While quilters have been doing challenges for a while, one of the intrepid stitchers over on Stitcherie (a social network site like Facebook, but with a focus on needlework) decided to organize a challenge for us needlepointers. The idea is that a group of stitchers cast votes for a specific painted canvas to work on, and then two "challenge masters" come up with a list of rules, or "challenges" one must follow while stitching the canvas. The challenge rules are to use certain threads and stitches-- for example, for our first challenge last year, we had a set of 6 threads and 6 stitches that had to be used somewhere on the canvas. One might think that that would insure that all the canvases would come out the same, but instead they could hardly be more different! Each stitcher decides where each stitch and thread will be used on the canvas and it turns out that everyone has a different idea for the placement of each.
Our current Challenge is Sammy, one of my very own kitty designs! I am extremely happy that our stitchers are wasting no time getting him started. Judy's Sammy, pictured below, has him Basketwoven in beautiful black DMC Floche. One of the challenge rules this time is to do some type of woven stitch, and she has decided to use this stitch for the sun. That's one challenge down, only 5 more to go! To see the complete list of rules for Sammy, see the Challenge page here.
Karen is off to a great start as well, she has used one of the challenge stitches, Criss Cross Hungarian, for her watermelon slice. Doesn't it look good enough to eat? By the way, it was Karen that we have to thank for bringing the challenge idea to Stitcherie. She is our main organizer and motivator (some say enabler!) Thanks Karen!
Hope I have intrigued you all enough to get you to join us for the next Stitcherie challenge (or for this one, we've only just started so you have plenty of time still!) We are currently compiling votes for the next Challenge, due to start this June, so do come take a look at the choices and cast your vote if you are up for a Stitcherie Challenge!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Introducing Summer's Patriot Owl from the Hoot Owl Series

I'd like to start introducing you to the owls in my new retailer club series that is starting next month. Hoot Hoot! is the series name and it is a set of 6 retro inspired owls that combine seasonal and holiday themes. The owl for summer is Patriot Owl and his red white and blue color scheme reflects not only summer but all the holidays that set the season, Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. Here at home I set out my patriotic decor in mid-May and leave it up all summer long until mid-September. I hope Patriot Owl will inspire you to celebrate all summer long too!

Here he is all finished as a cute stand up, with cording, silk wings and a coordinating wooden base. This is him before finishing, but completely stitched. Threads include Au Ver A Soie, Silk Lame' Braid, Fyre Werks Soft Sheen, ThreadWorx Floss, Silk N' Colors and more!
I made an effort in this series to make each owl unique in threads and techniques, so there are very few stitches or threads that are used twice anywhere in the 6 designs. I also wanted to try something new and/or unconventional on each owl, either in threads or stitches and sometimes both. On the Patriot Owl, I used the new Kreinik Hot Wire thread on his chest to make the zig zags. With the fine wire running through the core of the metallic, this thread is a dream to couch with as the wire holds its shape beautifully, but is also very flexible.
Again, in an effort to give the stitcher maximum variety, I made a point to stitch each owl's beak differently. This one is done in a variation of fern stitch using Trebizond silk.
I hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek of Patriot Owl. If you would like to see even more detail photos of this and the other owls in the series, please visit the photo albums on my Facebook page. The Hoot Owl club starts shipping next month and will be available at shops nationwide. If you don't have a local needlepoint shop (I myself am of one of the many who don't) check my EyeCandy website for a list of retailers that will do the club via mail order.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Revisiting Aurora Borealis Revisited

I have been very happily following Pat's progress on Aurora Borealis Revisited over on her blog, Needleartnut. I've always enjoyed watching people stitch a project that I myself have longed to do, and when you have a really big pile of projects in your stash as I have, watching may be as close as you ever get to actually stitching them! But it's maybe even more fun to watch as someone works their way through a project that you have already completed, especially if it's one that you enjoyed stitching as much as this:
This is my Aurora Borealis Revisited, stitched, framed and everything! I had so much fun with this piece! It sums up what I love most about canvaswork, filling small areas with beautiful color, fun threads and interesting composite stitches. I would happily stitch this one again, and by watching Pat stitch away on hers, I am sort of reliving my own pleasant experiences with the piece. (I wish that my flowers on the yellow section were as colorful as Pat's though!) I hope to stitch the original version of this design from the old Needlepoint News magazine. The "Revisited" version is from Needlepoint Now and both were created by the fabulous Marnie Ritter, who's work I adore. Her designs fill out most of my Top Ten list of canvaswork designs I want to stitch someday! She is an absolute master of pattern.

Here is more teasing, continued from my tease pictures from Friday. As I mentioned, I'm working on a new club series, so top secret I cannot show you an actual whole picture (yet!) :) I showed you the before and after threads, and swore to you that I did actually attach some of them to a canvas, and here it is:
Just a small section, but do see that I have lots of color, sparkle, texture and fun stitches planned for you. Just what it is yet will have to wait, but you are free to start guessing!

Finally, an update from yesterday-- no, I did not finish Katy's necklaces yet (hopefully will be done with those before lunch today) and did not even touch Tahiti again. Good intentions though!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Working against a deadline

Seems to be the story of my life these days! Yesterday, I told you that I was trying to finish stitching two new models by the end of this month, so I need to get started on those. But first, (and those two words are becoming a mantra for me) I need to work on my friend Katy's birthday presents. We both love beading, so a few years ago Katy came up with the idea of exchanging bead kits with each other, with the plan that we would make it up and send each other the completed, ready to wear item. This plan has worked out extremely well and so this is now how we handle birthday and Christmas gifts for each other. Having run through all her store bought kits, Katy has started sending me kits she has made herself by pulling beads from her stash, with the idea that I make up the design myself. She tells me what she wants (necklace, earrings, etc.) and includes the findings as well, the rest is up to me. This might be difficult if Katy wasn't so good at coordinating colors and styles. The beads in the kits she made up practically put themselves together-- look at this red/gold/shell combo:
And this blue/silver/Venetian glass combo:
I am having fun looking through my beading magazines getting inspiration and ideas for these. Hope to have them both done by tonight! (That's part of the appeal of beading, I think, is that it can be so quick to complete compared to needlepoint. Most of the needlepointers I know also do beading!) I will post the pictures of the finished items later, after her birthday on the 11th.

I also hope to work some more on this:
This is "Tahiti", a canvaswork design by Needle Delights Originals. A few of us over on Stitcherie are working on this piece in a sort of virtual "stitch-a-long" online, posting pictures of our progress as we go. One of us has already finished hers and was able to share insights and pattern corrections with the rest of us as we stitched along behind her. This has been so much fun so far and it's just one of several projects that I'm involved in on Stitcherie.
OK, now I'm off to start beading! But first... ;)