KreinikGirl

It began in the late 1800s, peaked during the 1960s and 1970s, and found a resurgence in the 2010s. That’s a nice run for a math lesson involving thread. I’m talking about string art: arranging threads between various points to create geometric patterns, shapes, and designs.

Today, many of us don’t even like math, er, I mean, many of us make string art for the patterns and colors rather than for the geometry. I dabbled in it during my Girl Scout years, then started pinning and following string art Instagrams last year when the home decor magazines brought it back in style. I didn’t really pick it up again, however, until Doug Kreinik showed me his latest creation: metallic thread string art. This was different from any string art I’d seen, and not because of new patterns and designs. It was the thread that made it unique: it was shiny thread not plain yarn. Doug started showing his metallic string art models to designer friends, and they all had the same reaction, “Wow.”

Christmas Tree string art created with Kreinik metallic threads (specifically, Medium #16 Braid).

Christmas Tree string art created with Kreinik metallic threads (Medium #16 Braid and Heavy #32 Braid, www.kreinik.com).

Since then, I’ve spent many evenings stringing my metallic heart away. Metallic thread string art is more vibrant than yarn string art, but not garish. It marries child-like colored lines with a grown-up finish. It somehow encapsulates rudimentary form and modern tech. It’s geeky, retro, yet current. It’s so eye-catching, it surprises you. Can you tell I’m a convert? It slices, it dices, does your taxes and calls your mother. Well, not really, but you get the idea: it’s something fun and different. You are going to have to try it, trust me. It’s one of the freshest trends in thread that I’ve seen in a long time.

Designs from the Monogram and Nature String Art On Canvas kits by Kreinik.

Designs from the Monogram and Nature String Art On Canvas kits by Kreinik using metallic and glow-in-the-dark threads.

Kreinik (the thread company out of Parkersburg, West Virginia) developed a line of String Art On Canvas kits as a result of the growing interest in metallic thread string art. Instead of needing hammer, nails, and wood, not-to-mention carrying that around as a cumbersome embroidery project, these kits are compact and portable. This is free-form embroidery with metallic threads on a gauze-like canvas. The gauze gives stability to the design, plus makes it like a patch that you can attach to any surface.

Designs from three different string art kits from Kreinik Manufacturing Company, using metallic and glow-in-the-dark threads.

Designs from three different string art kits from Kreinik Manufacturing Company, using metallic and glow-in-the-dark threads. The string art is created on a gauze-like canvas, cut out, and attached to surfaces using double-sided tape.

The kits include everything you need to make one design, including outlines, canvas, needle, thread and reusable embroidery hoop. There are no rules, no limits, just color in the outline. I can stitch one in about two hours if I’m really engrossed in the game/show/movie I’m watching. The Kreinik kits include glow-in-the-dark threads, which adds another layer of fun to the project.

Glow-in-the-dark threads add a fun dimension to string art.

Glow-in-the-dark threads add another level to string art creations. This bat design is from the new Halloween set in the Kreinik String Art On Canvas kit series.

I demonstrated metallic thread string art at the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival last month. Kids and teens LOVED it. I mean, couldn’t stop doing them, begged their parents for them. For some it was the first time they’d held a needle and thread. I’d say two out of five adults had trouble with the “free form” concept (“No charts to follow? I don’t know if I can do that?”), and one parent even told their child, “You’re doing it wrong” (yikes, poor child, and there’s no way to do string art incorrectly). Once they tried it, they embraced the freedom. Funny, how hard it is to let creativity loose once we “grow up.”

Sample from the Kreinik String Art On Canvas kits. Trace an outline onto the canvas, then make random stitches with metallic threads.

Sample from the Kreinik String Art On Canvas kits. Trace an outline onto the canvas, then make random stitches with metallic threads. The gauze provides a stabilizing background for the stitches but also creates the sense of a “floating” design.

Your mission is to explore the exciting world of metallic thread string art: to seek out free-form creativity with random stitches, to boldly stitch on something you may not have tried before. You can go here for more information on Kreinik’s starter kits. Stitch long and prosper.

P.S. It’s so much fun to be on this stitch-and-embroidery voyage together. Happy 6th birthday www.mrxstitch.com.

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Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

Using a variety of threads in a needlework design is like using spices in cooking: all one flavor and texture can be rather bland, whereas a blend of different ingredients can make the final result fabulous.

I’ve often thought of quilting as a recipe, with multiple ingredients cut, mixed, combined, and blended together to make a whole. Like cooking or baking, the process and end use can be utilitarian, celebratory, decorative, or therapeutic, while the creative process is nourishing for the mind, hands, and soul.

Take a look at Eleanor Levie’s beautiful quilt, Pomegranates, to see how her recipe came together. On the whole, it is a lovely blend of colors and patterns. Take a look at the individual ingredients, and you will see threads, stitches, fabrics,  and other embellishments that add “flavor” and visual interest. For the thread embellishments, she used Kreinik metallics: Very Fine #4 Braid, Medium #16 Braid, Heavy #32 Braid, 1/8″ Ribbon, Facets, and Fine Twist.

By Eleanor Levie

Designed and stitched by Eleanor Levie using a variety of fabrics and Kreinik metallic threads.

Detail of Eleanor Levie's Pomegranates quilt

A close-up look at Eleanor Levie’s quilt shows how she machine stitched with metallic threads and couched Kreinik Braids (with a zig-zag stitch) to add a touch of light to the outlines.

Eleanor used Kreinik Twist, a high-speed machine embroidery metallic thread.

Eleanor used Kreinik Fine Twist, a metallic thread designed for high-speed machine embroidery (it works on sergers, long-arms, embroidery machines, and basic home sewing machines). The black and gold blend of the thread adds light, color, texture (= visual interest).

Kreinik Facets couched on Eleanor Levie's quilt

Kreinik Facets are a bead-like yarn used for surface embroidery embellishment. Here, Eleanor couched red Kreinik Facets with a zig-zag stitch. The thread has a candy-like gloss, so it adds color depth as well as texture.

Beautiful blend of scraps (just like life...) in this Eleanor Levie quilt.

Beautiful blend of scraps (just like life…) in this Eleanor Levie quilt.

Stitch variety in Eleanor Levie's Pomegranates quilt

Your project doesn’t have to be an official crazy quilt to have a mix of stitches. Find a stitch dictionary or library online and see how you can alter or play with threads by using them in different stitches. You are telling a story through your selection of fabrics, threads, and stitches – so feel free to express your creative thoughts through these choices.

Can we say this is a "delicious" blend of colors in Eleanor Levie's Pomegranates quilt? Fabrics of citrus colors add to the overall "flavor" of the piece.

Can we say this is a “delicious” blend of colors in Eleanor Levie’s Pomegranates quilt? Fabrics in citrus-fruity-vegetable colors add to the overall “flavor” of the piece.

These photos show some fun ways to edge your quilt applique, using various stitches and threads. (Kreinik metallics)

These photos show some creative ways to edge your quilt applique, using various stitches and threads. (Kreinik Cord, Kreinik 1/8″ Ribbon in Easter Grass, and Kreinik 1/8″ Ribbon in red)

Close up look at the beautiful blend of fabrics, patterns, stitches, and threads in Eleanor's Pomegranates quilt.

Close up look at the beautiful blend of fabrics, patterns, stitches, and threads in Eleanor Levie’s Pomegranates quilt.

The famous chef Julia Child once said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” I think it is the same with needlework, quilting, crafts…anything creative. Take a cue from Eleanor and Julia: use good quality ingredients and time-tested techniques, add your own spin, a dash of what-the-hell, and your creation will be a masterpiece.

QUILT BY ELEANOR LEVIE. To see more of Eleanor’s work, click here.

METALLIC THREADS BY KREINIK. To see the range of Kreinik threads, click here.

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Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

It’s Monday; got the blues? Are you back to work after a fun weekend, maybe looking at a beautiful blue sky…through the windows of your office? Well, let me show you some blues that will lift your spirits. They’re threads. I call them The Blue Thread Group. They will amaze your friends, inspire your creativity and leave you energized, or at least give you a moment of serenity on a Monday morning. (Just looking at pretty threads is a mood-booster, so imagine the lift they can give to your stitchery…)

The blue thread group covers hues from light to dark, from pastel to jewel tones, with a few variegated blends in between.

This blue thread group covers hues from light to dark, from pastel to jewel tones, with a few variegated blends in between. Threads by Kreinik for cross stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, quilting, weaving, knitting, crochet…

These bubble blue colors add a subtle shimmer to designs. Good water colors, baby themed designs, and blending with other colors. They come in Kreinik Braids and Ribbons.

These bubble blue colors add a subtle shimmer to designs. They are ideal for stitching water themes, baby themed designs, and blending with other colors. They come in Kreinik Braids and Ribbons.

Use metallic threads like these blue shades to realistically recreate water in your needlework designs.

Use metallic threads to realistically recreate water in your needlework designs (water glistens in real life, right?). Light blue Kreinik metallic Braid colors are used in the Pam Kellogg design on the left, while the bolder royal blue Braid color is used in the Mosey N Me design on the right. Both are free patterns on www.kreinik.com.

These shades of cobalt and royal are from Kreinik's Braid and Ribbon thread lines.

Cobalt blue is so popular in clothing and home decor, and it’s no surprise. This kind of rich, cheery, bold blue goes with everything. It makes great background colors in needlework. These cobalt and royal blue spools are Kreinik color numbers (from left to right) 329 Bahama Blue, 051HL Sapphire Hi Lustre, 033L Royal Blast, and 033 Royal Blue.

Gorgeous royal blue Kreinik metallic threads in Needlepoint: a Waterweave Designs canvas on the left, and a TS Designs canvas on the right.

Gorgeous royal blue Kreinik metallic threads in needlepoint: a Waterweave Designs canvas on the left, and a TS Designs canvas on the right.

Kreinik makes variegated metallic threads like these often by request of designers.

Kreinik makes variegated metallic threads like these often by request of designers. The color on the right, 060 Midnight, was created when a designer wanted something to stitch a night sky. It has become one of our most popular colors. The blend in the middle was created by a group of Fantasy cross-stitch designers who wanted “dragon colors.”

I love blues with a touch of gray, and metallic versions are somehow dramatic and subtle at the same time.

I love blues with a touch of gray, and metallic versions are somehow dramatic and subtle at the same time. These spools are Kreinik color numbers 014 Sky Blue, 044 Confetti Blue, 3214 Blue Zircon, 4012 Stormy Weather.

The ocean in this needlepoint canvas from Cheryl Schaeffer Designs was stitched with metallic threads to make it more realistic

The ocean in this needlepoint canvas from Cheryl Schaeffer Designs was stitched with metallic threads to make it more realistic, and to stand out next to the matte sand and sky threads. The mix of thread types creates a sense of dimension, and the metallic creates light play and a sense of movement.

Here at thread maker Kreinik Manufacturing Company, we try to make thread colors that will help stitchers recreate images from real life, and many of our colors come from designers requesting certain shades. We may have 25 different blues, but there are always requests for “a blue with more green in it,” or “blue with less green,” sometimes “more of a country blue,” or “denim blue but with a touch of aqua,” etc. It’s a challenge, but also rather fun, to come up with the right shades for the creative market. If you ever have requests for new thread colors, contact me (@Kreinikgirl on Twitter, or dlenham at kreinik dot com).

Range of blue metallic threads in the Kreinik Braids and Ribbons line, www.kreinik.com.

Range of blue metallic threads in the Kreinik Braids and Ribbons embroidery thread lines, www.kreinik.com.

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Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

Colors of Kreinik Blending Filament that add the iridescence to stitched birds.

I come from bird people. My grandmother in rural Oklahoma would show me the cardinals in the woods, we’d walk down the lane to spot bobwhites and scissor-tail flycatchers, and then we’d listen to the owls at night. My city grandma had shrubbery that attracted hummingbirds and a “special house” for blue jays. My aunt introduced me to bird feeders, and my uncle led me to the lake with a bag of bread as soon as we heard ducks quack. I’d get bird feeders for birthday presents, and decorate bird houses at camp. Today I sit with my cats, pressed up against the window, watching the orioles, bluebirds, goldfinches, red-headed woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, wrens and other species that grace our garden. Life-list accompli: I’ve even seen the stunning Indigo Bunting in the wild.

So it is no surprise that at a recent needlework tradeshow, my eye caught sight of bird designs galore. In fact, I’d even call it a trend: humorous birds, primitive birds, silhouette birds, and highly stylized, detailed birds are available on quilting fabrics, needlepoint canvases, cross stitch charts, and home decor designs. One popular social media platform has a bird in its logo (I’m @kreinikgirl on Twitter), and video game Angry Birds is a merchandising phenom that could put Donald Duck to shame. I’m not even going to get into Duck Dynasty. We are surrounded by bird themes.

This string-art bird is from Kreinik's new line of String Art Canvas Kits. Look for the "Nature" kit in needlework stores and at www.kreinik.com.

Nature has influenced art since the dawn of art, it transcends languages, and it has always been a popular theme in textiles. Cross stitch, needlepoint, and embroidery are art forms that speak in threads and stitches. So in this month’s column I want to showcase stitched birds, with three observations on how to achieve some of their visual effects in your own projects.

Note the wonderful variety of stitches in this needlepoint canvas from Melissa Prince Designs. The stitch guide and stitching was done by Patricia Sone of Creative Stitches and Gifts in Dallas, Texas.width=

1. Threads. First, threads will help you interpret birds’ coloring. Birds come in shades of brown, black, white and tan. They also come in shades of pink, red, blue, purple, yellow, green, holographic and more. Nature put every color under the sun in the bird world, and thread companies (like Kreinik) make every color you need for a realistic or fantasy stitched version.

Metallics don't have to be over-the-top. These shades are three of the many muted colors available in the Kreinik metallic thread line, which add subtle shimmer to bird and nature designs.

This needlepoint bird canvas by Melissa Prince Designs is a treasure trove of techniques: varying stitches, using color for shading, and using different kinds of threads for textures.

Stitched in Kreinik metallic braid (holographic colors), this needlepoint canvas by Labors of Love looks like jewelry, like cloisonne.

Second, the variety of threads available to needleworkers today will help you create texture in your bird design. There are fuzzy threads that look like the down of a baby bird and there are metallic threads that replicate the iridescence of wings. Don’t be afraid to use an out-of-the-ordinary thread (ie, something other than cotton floss) to add effects to your design.

Kreinik Micro-Ice Chenille is a fuzzy thread that you couch on the surface of fabric, needlepoint, embroidery or cross stitch.

Louis Carney couched Kreinik Micro Ice Chenille around the bird and pears on this printed fabric.

Beaded and embroidered bird by Cathie Hoover, using Kreinik metallic threads in the wings and outlines of the bird-themed fabric.

2. Stitches. Notice the variety of stitches used in the photos here, and how they make the birds look more interesting. Even using the same stitch in alternating directions can create interesting visual effects. There are many stitch encyclopedias online; I recommend browsing through them and making a doodle swatch of interesting selections.

This is a needlepoint painted canvas from the design company Labors of Love.

Patricia Sone of Creative Stitches and Gifts in Dallas, Texas stitched this Melissa Prince Designs needlepoint canvas. Her stitch guide includes the variety of stitches and threads needed to create this gorgeous bird.

3. Feathers. Real birds have feathers, so why can’t your stitched birds have feathers? Buy them at outdoor/fishing stores, craft stores (ahem, you may even have a feather boa in your closet…), and attach with tacking stitches or even glue. No better way to make a stitched bird look eye-catching, and show a little attitude, than with actual feathers. One step beyond: add other ephemera like wire or beads.

A variety of stitches, threads and ephemera (wire, feathers) come together to make this stunning needlepoint hummingbird. Painted canvas design by Labors of Love design company.

So the next time you see a needlepoint canvas bird design, a sampler with bird motifs, embroidery patterns or a cross-stitch chart of a bird, think about creatively using threads, stitches and other materials to make your design come to life. Have fun. (I’d love to see photos of your stitched birds. Let’s meet up on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.)

This Kreinik thread cone is really for the birds, thanks to Rebecca and Evie of Hugs Are Fun.

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Mr X