The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 1
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 2
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 3
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 4
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 5


RSN Canvaswork: Closer and closer!

There has been so much stitching going on that I haven’t written as I’ve gone along so this will be a bit jumbled. We leave soon for England and the piece needs to be at a point where I can finish the stitching in three days and leave one day for mounting. The problem is, I’m not sure how to determine when there will be only three days of work still to do!

DSCF4681 RSN Canvaswork: Closer and closer!

After stitching the eves I did move on to the top part of the temple building and the small building on the left. I stitched them using a mix of reds and browns but after living with it for a few days decided that it looked messy. My husband agreed – in the nicest possible way! – so I took it out. This poor piece has had so much taken out it’s a miracle that the canvas is still in good shape!

As I worked I covered the finished stitching with plastic wrap stitched loosely to the canvas outside the design area. I tried using tissue paper but it just floats away or falls on the floor. I didn’t leave the plastic wrap on the piece when I was finished with the sky but it did help prevent the snow from getting dirty.

DSCF4697 RSN Canvaswork: Closer and closer!

The details on the tree were especially fun to do. I took some floss in a medium tan/brown/pink and stitched around the bark. To stitch through all this wool you have to use a sharp needle and I found a thin one was best. I’ll probably outline the tree with the same thread but will wait until I can talk to my tutor to make sure my idea will work. This is one place where I don’t want to take stitches out.

DSCF4666 RSN Canvaswork: Closer and closer!

Here is the stitching on the smaller building that I took out. In fact, if you look at the photo above this one you can see a tiny bit of fuzz left on the canvas. There are two things about this stitching that didn’t work for me: the right hand edge, where I’ve tried to show perspective and the corner just looks daft and the mixed threads look too stripy and messy. In the photo above you can see that using the same stitch – double linked cross – but Impressions threads in single colors in the needle worked much better. I did change shades of red, getting lighter as I worked towards the bottom. The single color in the needle seems to have worked well here and, although I did mix the colors in the rows to make the shading gradual, I didn’t mix the threads.

DSCF4708 RSN Canvaswork: Closer and closer!

Next time a close up of the work! You can see my worked packed up and ready to go to England in a beautiful bag Jan made for me. I called British Airways and spoke to a lovely lady who assured me they would let me carry this down the gangway where it would be carefully put into the hold for the flight and I could pick it up in the gangway as I got off. I hope it all works out! We’re flying away to England today and soon you’ll be hearing from me as I work with Kelley Aldridge in Bristol! I can’t wait!

turnbull ad 400x150 jpg RSN Canvaswork: Closer and closer!

iStitches – what a great idea!

Before I begin, let me explain clearly to all who read this that I love books, real paper paged books. I have a huge library of embroidery books and I treasure each one. I am also a proponent of technology and think that to ignore what it can do for us is a mistake. Mankind will continue to invent new ways of sharing knowledge and information and I believe the more ways we can share knowledge and information, the better.

When I traveled to Hampton Court in February I took my threads, my canvas, my needles, a frame, a lot of other things I needed for my Canvaswork course. All of these things – with the exception of the frame – are very lightweight. Even the frame isn’t that heavy. The books, however, are heavy. Especially the Mary Rhodes Dictionary of Canvaswork Stitches. I wasn’t over my limit on weight but I did think about it and I did weigh my suitcase to make sure I would be within the limits.

No sooner did I get home that I came across a wonderful “app” for canvaswork. It’s called “iStitches”. Ruth Schmuff, who writes the blog Not Your Grandmother’s Needlepoint produces them and I have been using them a lot during my canvaswork project.

IMG 0842 500x887 iStitches   what a great idea!

There are three stitch dictionaries produced as iPhone apps. Now, I realise not everyone has an iPhone, not everyone likes technology as much as I do, not everyone would choose to use an “app” instead of a book, but I love them! I currently have the first two volumes and will purchase the third if I decide to do even more canvaswork. (Highly likely since I am really enjoying the problem solving aspect of canvaswork!).

Why do I like this “app” stitch dictionary so much? There are 300 stitches in each volume and they are all stored on my phone.  For better or worse, books are heavy and carrying them around can be problematic, especially when you are travelling. I have scrolled through the iStitches dictionary on the train going to and from work, thinking about my project and looking at different stitches.

IMG 0844 500x887 iStitches   what a great idea!

The dictionaries are organised in two ways: stitches by type or stitches by name. I find the type index helpful since, as a beginner, I don’t know the names of the stitches yet.  On the other hand, looking through all of the stitches by name lets me explore loads of stitches i’ve never heard of and maybe find one that’s perfect.

IMG 0843 500x887 iStitches   what a great idea!

The stitch diagrams are wonderful. Clear, easy to understand and, best of all, they can be enlarged so you can really see how to do the stitch. There aren’t instructions, simply a diagram with numbers telling you where to begin and what to do next. As a visual learner, this makes it really easy for me to understand a stitch.

IMG 0847 500x887 iStitches   what a great idea!

There are often variations included in each stitch, so you can see how to work the stitch in different sizes. On the Gobelin stitch pages it’s shown over 2 threads, 4 threads and 6 threads. If you’re an experienced canvaswork embroiderer, then this might seem obvious, but for those of us who are not experienced, then showing that a stitch can be enlarged or reduced is really helpful.

IMG 0848 500x887 iStitches   what a great idea!

The cost is reasonable and, of course, shipping is free. Here’s a link to the page where you can purchase the app or you can search for it in the app store; just search for “iStitches” and you’ll find it.

This review is unbiased – except that I like the app – and I am not getting any financial incentives or gifts for writing about this app. I just think it’s a great idea and I hope to see more like it in the future!

What about you? Are you strictly a pager pages book person or do you appreciate and use ebooks or apps? Share you thoughts with us – I’m sure it will be an interesting discussion!

RSN Canvaswork: Test stitches

When it came time to work out which stitches to use for the temple, I stuck with my (now!) tried and true method of testing the stitches on my small piece of test canvas.  Firstly, I looked closely at the texture and pattern of the temple building on the original image. I could see 4 different patterns which are labeled below. It’s a little difficult to see on a computer screen so I used my high quality printout of the image.

HASUI jpg2 500x626 RSN Canvaswork: Test stitches

Looking closely at area 1, you can see that the building looks like it has square shapes on the wall.  Number 2 seems to have long, thin rectangles running horizontally. Number 3 also has long thin rectangles but there is snow sitting on the edges of the wood (I assume it’s wood!) so the wood must be thicker there. Finally number 4 looks like planks.

DSCF4580 JPG 500x326 RSN Canvaswork: Test stitches


Here is my test area where you can see I tried some stitches that I’ve decided not to use. The stitches on the top of the stitches sample are both Roumanian couching. The area on the left is stitched with three strands of Impressions wool/silk blend and the one on the right with only two. I’ll be using three strands on the finished piece.

The stitches that are numbered are the ones I’ll be using on the temple building. The number of the stitch corresponds to the numbered area on the building.

Sample 1 is Roumanian stitch again, done with two strands of thread (to save thread).  Stitch number 2 is a stitch from Mary Rhodes book called Chequer. This stitch alternates squares of Cushion stitch and Tent stitch. Stitch number 3 is called Double Linked Cross in Rachel Doyle’s RSN Canvaswork book. Stitch number 4 is Bamboo stitch which I found in a stitch guide by Ruth Schmuff.

All of these stitches look like they will be relatively easy to shade. The temple changes shades of red from darkest to lightest so it’s important to be able to shift the shade of red. Since all of these stitches will be adjacent, I wanted to see how the different stitches would work together and line up (or not), so I tested the stitches close together. Each stitch is based on a group of three threads so they all work well together.

I’m a bit nervous about starting the stitching on the temple before I go to Bristol, but I think if I wait there won’t be enough time to finish the whole piece and mount it once I’m there.

What do you think about these stitch choices? If you have any tips, suggestions, ideas, advice please let me know!