Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Some Holiday Stitchin'

Now that the holiday hoopla has started to die down, I've been able to pull out an old Christmas project and do a little bit of "fun" stitching.
Last year I purchased the set of Prairie Schooler "12 Days of Christmas" patterns and wanted to work them all as one piece. Here's what I've got done thus far:

Instead of cross stitching them, I'm mainly doing basketweave stitches with 4 ply DMC floss on 18 ct. sandstone mono canvas(for a slightly antiquey look). And wherever I can add some fun/easy alternate stitches - like Smyrnas, or diagonal satin stitch or long stitches - I'll do so, to add a bit of unexpected texture to the overall piece. And I'm also going to add small gold beads to all the Santa's coats when I've stitched everything, just to add a bit more sparkle and dimension... Here's the FIRST design up-close, so you can see the few stitch changes I've made:

I've left the numbers unstitched so far, because I don't know what color I want them to be -- dark brown? gold metallic? dark red? I can't decide, so I'll leave them undone until inspiration strikes...

And I've started on the second row of Santas this week. I hope I'll be able to breeze thru a few more of them before "work" stitching beckons and I have to put these Santas back in the closet...

I hope you're all enjoying the "after-Christmas" glow and have snatched some quiet time to do some stitching on a favorite project. It's time to clear the decks and get ready for the New Year, isn't it? Time to start thinking about starting some new and exciting projects, don't you think?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mini Mystery Monday #3

There's just a little bit more to do before this small ornament design is finished.

First, let's put a quick little border pattern around your set of eyelets.
When working on a diagonal border, you have to find an element that fits well on the diagonal. Smyrna Stars are perfect for creating a quick but elegant border.

Starting at the top tip of your stitched eyelets, create a row of Smyrna Stars, alternating colors of 1 strand gold Ribbon Floss with 1 strand of your bright accent color #5 pearl cotton... with a graph that looks like this:

And your stitches should look something like this:

Although I should mention here that you certainly can stitch your Smyrnas all in one color if you want (all gold? all red metallic??) or you can stitch TWO rows of Smyrnas if you want a wider border space... In any event, work your Smyrnas all around your eyelets, so the border is finished, before going on to the next step...

Which is to add the final outer border - a padded border that looks like this:
With 1 strand of your dark #5 pearl cotton color, lay 4 long diagonal stitches along the outer edge of your stitching. Then cover those long stitches with straight stitches (going over 5 canvas threads), to create a raised, padded border.

To see how all the elements fit together, here's the full graph for this ornament:

Once your borders are all stitched, you have one more stitch sequence to work. You need to add a few more long diagonal straight stitches in-between each of your eyelet diamonds. Use 1 strand of the finer gold Kreinik #8 Braid 002HL, and you'll notice as you stitch them how outlining your diamond eyelets suddenly gives them more definition and makes them "pop" on the canvas.

And to make your ornament as sparkly as possible (that's what ornaments are about, right?) let's finish by adding lots of beads! See the full graph above, to place all your beads. And once you do, here's what your ornament should look like:

I thought this little ornament was super fast and fun to stitch -- I hope you agree! I also think there are lots of ways you can stitch this particular design and change the look entirely by playing around with different colors and different threads. I'd love to try this in a more monochromatic color scheme - maybe whites and golds? or icy blues and silver? - and see how it looks... If you stumble across any great combos, send me a picture and I'll share it with the rest of the Mini Mystery stitchers out there!

And P.S.: I'm taking a break from ornament stitching for a little bit, and I won't be posting anything on the Monday after Christmas..... so check back a little bit later, okay?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just a Quick Note, Stitchers...

In my enthusiasm to pass along my "Mini Mystery" ornaments to you, I forgot to mention a few very important facts.

First, all of the ornaments I've posted are copyright protected by
COPYRIGHT 2011 Laura J. Perin Designs, with ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Secondly, these Mini Mystery Monday projects are for your PERSONAL USE ONLY. That means that you can stitch them and have fun playing around with them, but please don't use them for any profit-making projects.

Thirdly, these Mini Mystery Monday projects are not intended to be used in any for-profit ventures such as kits, classes or teaching sessions. [For those shops that are interested in teaching stitchers about the joys of counted canvaswork, I suggest you check out the hundreds of patterns I have listed on my website - with my recent HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS SERIES 1 & 2 being the best place to start....]

Anyway, I've been enjoying creating and sharing these fun little mystery gems with all of you, and I hope you're enjoying stitching them up too!
See you again on Monday...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mini Mystery Monday

I thought I'd share a few of my finishes from Mystery #2 that might give you some additional inspiration and ideas for stitching your own combinations....

First, here's my original Mystery #2 ornament, in the traditional holiday colors, and I wanted to see if I could quickly finish it off with a simple felt backing and a blanket stitch edging (done with red #5 pearl cotton). I cut the canvas just FOUR canvas threads away from the finished stitching to get this look:

Yeah, my stitching is pretty messy... but I was stitching fast and wasn't sure how it would look, so I consider this a "practice" ornament - grin!

Then I wondered how the Mystery ornament would look if you stitched it on a darker canvas (in blues and silvers) and left out the ecru background stitches. Here's how it turned out:

Pretty cool, huh? And it just takes a few strands of ANY variegated thread you have left over, plus a few solid colors of #5 pearl cotton, and sprinkle in your favorite metallics for some sparkle! I really like this version, don't you?

And then because I wanted to create a green and gold ornament, I tried this color combo, again leaving the background stitching undone:

But it doesn't have the drama that the darker canvas version has.... so I added some background stitches around the central star - using the gold metallic ribbon. And then I thought, what the hey, I'd add a few gold seed beads, to see how that looked as well. Here's the result:

They look totally different, don't they? Yet they were all done from the same simple pattern. As you might guess, I enjoy playing around with different threads, using the same design. It has a surprise factor that's just plain fun! Why don't you whip up a few of your own color and canvas combinations, using the supplies you have on hand....

And I'll see you again next Monday.... I stumbled upon another easy peasy ornament combination that is sooooo cool, I can't wait to share it with you!

Mini Mystery #3

Here's another fun and easy ornament to make before Christmas. And because there's only two Mondays left before the Big Day, I'm condensing the instructions into two lessons, so you'll have another ornament finished before Christmas!

You'll need a piece of 18 ct. mono canvas, at least 6" x 6". The finished ornament is a diamond shape that measures apprx. 3.75" by 3.75" from its tips. I used the same palette of threads as the previous ornaments, namely:
- a few strands of variegated Watercolours 047 - "Camouflage"
- DMC #5 pearl cotton 890 for the dark border
- DMC #5 pearl cotton 3685 for the accent color
- Ribbon Floss 148-047, honey/copper for the gold metallic ribbon
- and this time I added a finer gold - Kreinik #8 Braid 002HL
- AND I added some 8mm round gold beads (which you should find in any local craft store)

Okay.... find the center of your canvas and make a tiny hole with the tip of your needle for a reference point.

From that center point, create a diamond-shaped eyelet with 1 ply of your variegated Watercolours, going in EVERY OTHER HOLE, like the graph on the left:

Note that your first vertical stitch will go over 8 canvas threads, and as you proceed around the diamond shape, going in every other hole, you should go DOWN into the center hole. And as you are going through the hole, try enlarging it with your needle or by pulling on your thread when you are on the underside of the eyelet - because you'll be putting lots of stitches into that center hole and it will help to get it as large as you can.

Then, after you have your variegated stitches done, cut a piece of the finer gold Kreinik #8 Braid and stitch around the eyelet again, but this time going in every other "vacant" hole, as shown in the graph on the right side above. And then your eyelet should end up looking something like this, step-by-step:

Now create a sort of "nine patch" of those eyelets, using this graph:

Once you've got all your eyelets stitched you can move on to fill in the four remaining diamond openings. For that you'll need to use 1 strand of your #5 pearl cotton bright accent color. And you'll start by creating this star foundation shape between your eyelets, using the graph on the left:

After you have the star foundation stitched, go back and add the gold stitches with 1 strand of Ribbon Floss, as shown in the graph on the right above. And then your stars should look something like this, step-by-step:

And the overall graph for both types of eyelet motifs looks like this:

Pretty fancy looking for just a basic eyelet, huh? Notice how different the two types of eyelets look, depending on which threads you use and how you mix up the stitches... Now you could easily make an ornament with just ONE of those two eyelet motifs, and create a pattern by just alternating the thread colors from diamond to diamond... It's amazing what you can do with just a few basic stitches and lots of threads to play with!!

Anyway, I'll finish this little cutie next Monday, when we'll do two small borders and add lots of beads for maximum sparkle effect -- see you then...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mini Mystery #2, continued

We're on the homestretch on this little project, so let's move along....

The border row you are going to stitch next is a string of variegated boxes (8 x 8 threads overall) that have a metallic diamond edge around the middle, and a metallic Smyrna Star in the center. The graph for a single row stitched right up against the center block looks like this:

I stitched my model with just one row and made the boxes all the same, with red metallic diamond edges and gold metallic Smyrna Stars. But if you want to stitch TWO rows around the center block, you can alternate the metallics - in checkerboard style, so the metallic colors switch in alternating boxes.
Here are the two different metallic combinations for you to consider:

And the graph for this two-row border would look like this, and you can continue stitching the rest of it around your center block:

Which combination you choose may depend on what colors are in your variegated thread. My red metallic edges blend in to the "Holiday" variegated thread a bit too much, I think (but I do like the row of gold smyrnas marching along the edge). Maybe I should have gone with the other combination to show off the diamond edges... but sometimes you never know until you finish stitching!

And here's another quick option for a two-row border - just add some plain square "checkers" around the diamond squares - with your choice of thread color.... either the bright color metallic or even the dark border color. Here's the type of quick border I'm talking about:

Soooo, the decision you need to make right now is whether you want to stitch just one row around your block (and then your ornament will be 3.25" x 3.25") or will you stitch TWO rows around your block (then your ornament will be 4.25" x 4.25").
(And if you can come up with another combination of colors/stitches - go for it!) In either case, I recommend stitching all the variegated thread stitches first, then go back and add your metallic stitches afterwards.

Also, in the corners of your border row/s you can add the larger Rhodes Diamond done in whichever color of metallic you like best for your corners (I stitched gold ones). And if you decide to stitch two border rows, try alternating the metallic colors of your corners - it makes a very dramatic flourish to the piece....

And after you stitch your border row/s you can add the final dark border row

using your darker pearl cotton color in a simple Diagonal Satin Stitch. And again, in the corners place a metallic square - in whichever metallic color you prefer. Here's the full quarter graph of the whole ornament (use this graph to stitch the first quarter, then complete your ornament by stitching the other three parts by turning the graph to match your stitching, being sure to follow the stitch direction of your initial section):

So when all your stitching is done, your ornament should look something like mine:

And as for you beaders out there: I challenge you to find places to add a few gold beads... I didn't put them on the graphs, but I know where I'd put my beads. Where would YOU put beads on your ornament??

Next week I'll show you an idea I had to finish off my little ornament... as well as another way to stitch up this design for a surprisingly different effect. Keep stitching...and I'll see you next Monday!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mini Mystery #2

We've turned over the autumnal leaf of Thanksgiving weekend and now we're in the madcap straightaway leading up to the Holidays... Time to really get those stitching fingers busy, if you're planning to create a few last-minute gifts!

Because we all have a jillion things to do now, this next Mini Mystery is a small one, so it's fast and easy to finish. You'll need a piece of 18 ct. mono canvas that's at least 7" x 7" - any color is okay, since you'll be stitching over all of it anyway.

[PSSST: The finished size of this small ornament will be determined by the choice you make next week about your border row. If you stitch just ONE border row, your finished mini mystery project will measure approx. 3.25" x 3.25". If you stitch TWO border rows, your finished mini mystery project will measure approx. 4.25" x 4.25". But don't worry, you don't have to make any decisions now... that's for next week!]

In any event, the threads you'll need are:
- one variegated Watercolours of your choice (you'll use 1/4 of a skein or so);
- one dark color #5 pearl cotton for the border (you'll use 1/4 skein or so);
- one light color #5 pearl cotton for the background (ecru or pale hue - and just a few strands);
- one bright accent color metallic ribbon thread (1/2 skein);
- one base metal metallic ribbon threads (silver, gold, copper, etc. 1/2 skein)

And hey, if you want to use stranded floss or silk, that's perfectly fine too. And if you want to work on 24 ct. Congress Cloth, that would make them even MORE special! These mini mystery projects are very adaptable and intended for you to experiment with threads and colors.

To begin, poke a hole in the center of your canvas and then stitch this central star:

It's one of my favorite motifs - the quilter's lone star; But this one has metallic tips on the star ends, which you stitch with the bright accent color of your chosen metallic; My stitched star looks like this, using the same thread palette I used in the first Mini Mystery project:

After you have your central star stitched, fill in the middle with a big Rhodes Diamond using your base metal metallic ribbon color, so it looks like this:

And then, with your darkest #5 pearl cotton color, add the corner triangles so it looks like this:
And to complete the stitching on the central block, add the background stitches, using your ecru or lightest color of #5 pearl cotton:

Here's my central block:

But that's enough for this Monday.... Next week we'll stitch the border row around the central block. You'll have the choice of stitching one row or two, and that will change the size of your finished ornament... but more on that NEXT Monday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Holiday Ornaments!

As promised last week, I've got a new pattern to share with you called HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS SERIES 2. Here's what the four new quilt-y ornaments look like:

I've chosen several more quilt designs that I enjoyed stitching in their larger versions - Falling Leaves, Feathered Diamonds, Missouri Star, and Cherokee Star - and made smaller, ornament-sized designs.

Here's a close-up of the Falling Leaf design:

Each ornament is approx. 4.5" by 4.5" on 18 ct. mono canvas (you can use eggshell or sandstone or any other color you prefer). And the threads I used were: Watercolours 025 "Holiday", DMC #5 pearl cottons 304 (2 skeins if you want to do all four in the series); 890 (2), ecru (2). . . as well as two metallic ribbons: YLI Ribbon Floss 144-001 (or Kreinik 1/16th 017HL) and Ribbon Floss 148-039 (or Neon Rays+22).

NOW HOLD YOUR HORSES, NELLY: before you rush over to my website to order this new pattern, let me tell you that I've spent all morning working on my website, not only adding the new data but trying to add new PAYPAL and CREDIT CARD purchasing options for all my patterns (which should make it easier for all of us), but after much teeth gnashing and hair pulling, I'm not able to publish the updated website YET - due to a slew of problems on the host site that they say will hopefully be resolved in a few days. So, after many deep breaths and a big chunk of dark chocolate, I'm trying to be patient and calm about this setback and hope you will be too. If you need to order this new HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS #2 immediately -- please give me a call or email me and we can chat about it... plus the joys of modern technology...or how many days are left for stitching holiday projects... or what your favorite brand of chocolate is - grin ....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mini Mystery Monday

Time to finish your mini mystery project...

Here is the next step for building your outer border area:

And here's the graph for it, starting on the upper right-hand side:

You have two choices here: 1) stitch your big corner Rhodes Square right up against your existing work (upper right-hand corner shown on graph); or 2) count up/over 8 canvas threads and start diagonal satin stitching your outer border over 3 canvas threads. (I suggest working on the outer border first, because you have a few more options to consider for your final border filling that is coming up next, so just read ahead before you start stitching - grin!)

Okay, here are your two choices for filling the wide border area:

I stitched my model with the LEFT border. And after I stitched it up, I thought that the RIGHT border would be equally interesting, so I've included it here for you to consider. Here's the option I stitched:

The graph for the LEFT border looks like this (and yes, it's a partial graph, so you'll have to stitch the rest of it on your own):

And the graph for the RIGHT border looks like this:

Notice that the big Rhodes Square in the corner changes color in the above graph. I've made it gold instead of red.... you can make your squares ANY COLOR YOU WANT! But I might also tell you that making all those Rhodes Squares uses up a lot more thread, so keep that in mind. If you only have a limited amount of a certain thread, you might opt for the first border, which uses less amount of thread - although there's more metallic in that border, so keep that in mind as well.

And speaking of metallics, when you're stitching ornaments, isn't it a good idea to put as much sparkle as possible? I mean, that's what catches your eye when you hang your ornament up, isn't it? So think about how much metallic you want in your design and especially for the holidays, the more glitter the better, right??!!

And TA DA! Here's what your finished mystery ornament should look like (more or less - grin):

I hope you enjoyed working on this little design.
I'll be posting another one next Monday, so stay tuned... and keep stitching!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Ornament-Making Time!

This weekend I'm going to the Marin Golden Threads EGA group to visit my stitching friends and teach one of my HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS, SERIES 1 designs. In preparation I've been finishing up my ornament models and this is how I've finished the first set:

As you can see, I've finished two of them as squares and turned two of them "on point". I was going to make my own twisted cable trim out of #5 pearl cottons, but found some ready-made trim at a local garage sale (I suspect it originally came from Costco) that matched perfectly, so I used that instead - how easy is that?

(And in case you're wondering... On the back of the ornaments, I've laced up the canvases over a cut piece of mat board and then hot-glued a piece of cut felt to cover the kaka mess underneath.)

And just because I wanted to see what the "shining star" design would look like in different colors, I stitched it up in fall colors (using a variegated thread I dyed myself):
It has a totally different look, doesn't it? (It reminds me of a harlequin fabric, for some reason.... ) And I found this gold braided trim sold by the yard at Joann's Fabrics. This particular design is very fun and fast to stitch up, so it didn't take any time at all to finish.

[DESIGNER ASIDE: I had so much fun finishing these ornaments, I decided to design another set of holiday ornaments for this year. Stay tuned as I reveal the next set of ornaments on my blog next week!!]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mini Mystery Monday

It's Monday again....
And here's the next element of your mystery ornament:

Which is graphed like this:

And then after you stitch all the empty blocks with this new element, your overall center area will look like this:

BUT WAIT! Before you start stitching, check this out: maybe you'd like to try a different block in that space, which is graphed like this:

And then your overall center area would end up looking like this:

Aww, shucks.... did I forget to mention that there might be some choices you can make to personalize your mystery ornament?!? (grin!) You can also switch the thread colors around, if you want to play with them as well. That's the fun of these elements -- you can "mix & match" with colors or threads or stitches and come up with a fun and original ornament of your own.

But for this Monday, YOU decide which element you want in your ornament... and maybe you can stitch up a second ornament later with the secondary element I've included, just for fun to see the difference!

[Psssst: Here's another idea for you to consider -- try stitching up just FOUR of the blocks to make a mini-ornament! With the outer border that'll you get next Monday, the finished size of a mini-ornament will be 3" by 3".... Or if you just stitch the four little blocks and add a simple diagonal satin stitch border row, you can create an even smaller ornament that's just 2.25" x 2.25", which would make a truly tiny ornament - or maybe a scissor fob??! Just another idea for you to play with - grin...]

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Mini Mystery" Monday

I was playing around with a few simple stitch elements this weekend, and came up with a rather fun ornament design. It occured to me that it would be fun to create a small "mystery" project that I would run only on my blog - and only on Mondays.

So the beginning "clues" to this little mystery ornament are:

A) The finished design willl be 4" by 4" on 18 ct canvas.
B) You'll need a piece of 18 ct. canvas that is at least 7" x 7" in size - whatever color you want to use is fine.
C) For threads, you'll need: just a 1/2 skein of Watercolours; one dark color of #5 DMC pearl cotton; one medium or bright color of #5 DMC pearl cotton; and one metallic ribbon that matches your variegated thread (such as Ribbon Floss, Kreinik 1/16th Ribbon, Neon Rays+, or any other metallic ribbon that you like to use)....and yes, it's perfectly okay to use ANY combination of thread types you want to try instead of the ones I've mentioned!

Here's the thread palette I picked:

Watercolours, 047 - "Camouflage"
DMC #5 pearl cotton, 319 - dark green
DMC #5 pearl cotton, 3685 - medium garnet
YLI Ribbon Floss, 047 - honey/copper

To start this little "mystery" project, find the center of your canvas and poke a hole with your needle, for a reference point.

At the center of your canvas, stitch this motif:

So it looks like this (but in your colors):

Then repeat the motif so it looks like this:

That's all for this week.... see you next Monday for the next part of the "mini mystery."