KreinikGirl

Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

Have you ever walked up to a painting in a museum, a quilt in an exhibit, or a relief on a building, and thought: “Wow, how did they do that?” I responded that way when I saw needlepoint designer Gay Ann Rogers’ newest project, The Young Catherine. An artist’s vision, technique, ability, and the finished art itself inspires and touches us as humans regardless of the medium. You and I are stitchers—all ages and skill levels—connected by common stitches and shared passion, so I know you will enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the design and designer. She adds layers to our favorite stitches, mixes in beautiful fibers, and teaches us that it’s ok to reach for the stars in our projects.

Take a read through this interview with Gay Ann Rogers, a wonderful lady and designer I’ve known for many years. The Young Catherine is extraordinary (“exemplary & bloody amazing” says one stitcher on Instagram who is “currently #losingmysh!% over it!”), yet not out of reach; Gay Ann offers complete instructions/chart/diagrams in a kit, and will be teaching the project via the Shining Needle Society, an online needlework group.

The Young Catherine needlepoint by Gay Ann Rogers

Gay Ann Rogers’ newest needlepoint design is of The Young Catherine. The project combines history and a classic medium with modern fibers and the hot layering-stitch trend in textile art. For more information on The Young Catherine or Gay Ann Rogers, visit http://www.gayannrogers.com/

Q: What inspired you to create this design?

Gay Ann: About five years ago I designed and stitched a portrait of Elizabeth 1. You can find it on my Gay Ann Rogers website, I think. It was a very successful project for me back then and my followers wanted me to do another big one. They wanted me to do Henry Vlll but I wanted to do another powerful woman. My husband suggested Catherine the Great. The style of the two portraits is so different, having to do in part with the evolution of painting in the 200 years between the two.

Q: How long did it take to design The Young Catherine?

Gay Ann: From first stroke of pencil on a drawing pad to last stitch on the piece it took me just about 6 weeks. I stitched her last summer.

Q: Why did you choose Congress Cloth for this piece instead of linen or canvas?

Gay Ann: Congress cloth is usually my ground of choice, although I sometimes work on 18-mesh canvas, and occasionally (very occasionally) on linen. I am essentially a needlepoint person who tinkers with some counted thread techniques and some surface techniques as well.

Q: The face is extraordinary; how did you achieve such detail, shading, and expression?

Gay Ann: Thanks! When I did Elizabeth’s face, I noticed in studying the portraits that there wasn’t much shading. By the time of Catherine’s age, it was dominant. I had been on a personal study course of Cezanne years ago and I had evolved from him a way of shading very unlike traditional shading. I used the techniques to do Catherine’s face. They are essentially blocks of color. I don’t like traditional shading in needlepoint, it ends up looking too splotchy to me. I wrote all about it on my website. here’s the link to my lessons: http://www.gayannrogers.com/6-painterly.html

As far as the face goes, I have tinkered with figure drawing and faces the whole of the time I’ve designed needlepoint. I am a great believer in trial and error — I sit with all kinds of threads in a horseshoe shape around me and then try and rip, try and rip until I get the effect I’m looking for. For Catherine’s face I stitched it partially three times on doodles and then once fully on the doode. I stitched it twice ‘for real’. My followers are lucky — they don’t have to go through my trials and errors as the face is fully graphed for them.

Q: Layers of embroidery create beautiful details on the clothing. How many different stitches are used in the piece? Do the instructions include stitch diagrams?

Gay Ann: The effect is all layered: there’s a base stitch, often Diagonal Tent Stitch and then layers on the top of it. I tend to use rather basic stitches but layered to achieve the color mixes I like.I don’t know how to count how many stitches because there are so many variations. Yes, the design is fully graphed — to do it, the stitcher just has to count well and follow my instructions. The instructions are 45 pages long; in addition there are 12 Oversize Graphs (11 x 17) and 2 color prints of my finished Catherine. I used to draw the graphs by hand, now I do them all in Illustrator. I once answered a questionnaire from Adobe about my use of Illustrator and I said, minimum 40 hours a week — I stitch with my laptop beside me and build the graphs in Illustrator as I stitch.

Q: Which Kreinik threads are used in the project?

Gay Ann: As I think you know, I love Kreinik braids and ribbons and I can’t remember the last piece that I stitched without them. In Catherine I used one #8 braid and two #4 braids for overstitching on her headdress (Kokoshnki) and costume; in addition I used 1/16″ ribbon and 1/8″ ribbon on her veil.

Q: What is your favorite tip regarding stitching with metallic threads?

Gay Ann: My favorite tip for using metallic threads is paying attention to size. I almost always use lighter weight braid than people think is ‘right’. I am a lover of #4 Kreinik braid on congress cloth and #8 braid on 18 mesh. I think you get amazing sparkle, but the thinner braids make your stitching look more delicate.

Q: Attention to detail in your designs goes beyond the image—do you use test stitchers and/or proof readers?

Gay Ann: Absolutely!! I have the most amazing proof-stitcher! No matter how many of my designs she has done, she catches every little thing — and if I make a mistake in phrasing, she tells me what it should be and exactly where to insert it. Her amazing skill at proofing might just have to do with the fact that she was a lawyer ‘in another life’ (as she puts it). The most incredible part about her involvement with Catherine was this: from first stitch to last, she stitched it in 12 days, IMHO, and inhuman feat. But I know she did it because she sent me a photo of her progress for the day every evening. I will teach the project online at Shining Needle Society and I asked her if she would be a ‘guest commentator’ in the class. I think she will be great at explaining lots of tips. Remember, I never stitched my design from my instructions, but she did.

Gay Ann Rogers knows needlepoint. She has been teaching and designing for many years, and now uses internet resources like cyberclasses and her website to reach new stitchers.

Gay Ann Rogers knows needlepoint. She has been teaching and designing for many years, and now uses internet resources like cyberclasses and her website to reach new stitchers. You will learn something from every Gay Ann Rogers design—and have an amazing piece of textile art when you’re finished.

Q: Are you going on a vacation now that the biggest project to date has been released?

A: No, Kate Gaunt has set up a classroom for me at Shining Needle Society; it’s not a formal class, it’s a Stitchalong Group. I think I’ll be leading it for a year. It will be a fun year, watching a group of Catherines come to life. When I taught my portrait of Elizabeth 1, I posted a bunch of them and it was fascinating how each Elizabeth had a different personality. Stitchers brought a bit of themselves to their pieces and each was a little different — it was super.

Q: Where can stitchers learn more about your designs?

Gay Ann: Probably the best place to learn about my designs is on my website, www.GayAnnRogers.com. I don’t have everything of mine posted up there — I’ve been designing and teaching needlepoint for such a very long time (I used to travel and teach for the Embroiderers’ Guild (EGA) and American Needlepoint Guild (ANG); then I discovered the computer and have been online ever since.

Needlepoint teacher and designer Gay Ann Rogers with Kreinik Creative Director Dena Lenham and thread company owner Doug Kreinik, at a TNNA tradeshow.

Needlepoint teacher and designer Gay Ann Rogers with Kreinik Creative Director Dena Lenham and thread company owner Doug Kreinik, at a TNNA tradeshow.

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Dimensional Needlepoint

by KreinikGirl on 13 April 2015

Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

Isn’t the world of needlework fabulous right now? You can stitch anything, on anything, with anything. With the internet, you can share what you make, discover what others are making, shop for supplies or learn a new technique 24/7. As they say, this ain’t your grandma’s needlework world, but we think she’d admire the creativity anyway.

Needlepoint is an embroidery technique that has evolved fabulously. No more flat-paneled nature scenes stitched in fuzzy wool and mounted in plain wood frames, or pillows that are just for show, or dining room chair covers you aren’t allowed to sit on. Needlepoint projects today are often finished as objects to use: shoes, belts, keychains, purses, wallets, and grown-up toys. No, no…I don’t mean that, I mean stuffed animals, stand-up characters, and other 3-dimensional designs.

You know you love crochet or knit amigurumi, so take a look at these images of needlepointed “toys.” They are all designs and models from Sew Much Fun, a Canadian needlepoint company known for 3-D animals, characters and bean-bag creatures. They use lots of sparkly Kreinik threads in their models, which adds to the fun, color, texture, and dimension of each design. I bet you can spot the Kreinik metallic threads in the photos.

Scotty the Dog is a needlepoint canvas by Randi Gelman of Sew Much Fun. Stitch this painted canvas in fun fibers, like Kreinik metallic threads.

Scotty the Dog is a needlepoint canvas by Randi Gelman of Sew Much Fun. Randi’s sister is also in the needlework biz: she owns Cindy’s Needle Art store, http://www.cindysneedleart.com/

The creative team behind Sew Much Fun is designer Randi Gelman and her sister Cindy Saltzman, who owns the needlework shop Cindy’s Needle Art. Cindy opened the store in Canada more than 18 years ago. She sells Randi’s needlepoint canvases, plus threads, other designs, giftware and more online and in the Richmond Hill (Ontario) location. The partnership has resulted in some of the most creative, dimensional needlepoint designs on the market.

A design company like Sew Much Fun paints the pattern onto needlepoint canvas. It's almost like getting a painting, a work of art, which is why painted canvases can be so expensive. This Sew Much Fun pattern is called Mikey Monkey.

This Sew Much Fun pattern is called Mikey Monkey. A design company like Sew Much Fun paints the pattern onto needlepoint canvas. It’s almost like getting a painting, an original work of art, which is why painted canvases can be more expensive than computer-generated designs.

Side note: Randi and many other talented needlepoint designers paint their images onto an open-hole canvas. This kind of needlepoint doesn’t have a chart to follow (you can find gorgeous counted needlepoint designs on the market as well). This type of needlepoint is good to stitch when you don’t feel like counting or traveling with charts. If you loved coloring books as a child, you’ll like these. With painted-canvas needlepoint designs, the image is already on the fabric (canvas), and you just fill in with the fun stuff (colored threads and textural stitches).

Don't you love the ribbon mane on this design? It's a painted canvas needlepoint pattern from Sew Much Fun, called "Lion King."

Don’t you love the ribbon mane on this design? It’s a painted canvas needlepoint pattern from Sew Much Fun, called “Lion King.” The color scheme is bright and cheerful. Also note the variety of stitches used on his legs, face and belly, which adds playful visual interest.

“My idea was to introduce needlepoint to the women of Toronto, and breakdown the stereotype that needlepoint was just for grandmas,” Cindy says. From Toronto to The National Needlework Association tradeshows and the world wide web, Cindy’s Needle Art and Sew Much Fun have reached stitchers internationally. “I am so happy to see how excited everyone gets from learning a new stitch, or using a new thread, and seeing their work finished,” Cindy adds.

These creative carolers are part of the Christmas ornament series from needlepoint painted canvas design company Sew Much Fun.

These creative carolers are part of the Christmas ornament series from needlepoint painted canvas design company Sew Much Fun. Find more designs here: http://www.cindysneedleart.com/ornaments.html

This little Lady Bug needlepoint is part of Sew Much Fun's Christmas ornament line.

This little Lady Bug needlepoint is part of Sew Much Fun’s Christmas ornament line. The stitch and thread selection is creative and colorful, but the bead arms and legs are quick and fun embellishments.

And, my goodness, is it about the finishing…This is a tricky step, since it can often be the most expensive or architectural part of a painted-canvas needlepoint project. If you don’t have the sewing expertiseand most of us don’t—the key is to find a good finisher. Many needlework shops offer finishing services, or you can search online for needlework finishing companies. Cindy’s Needle Art offers finishing services, which is perfect for the animals and characters in the Sew Much Fun line.

Petie Puppy is the name of this painted canvas design from Sew Much Fun. He is part of the 3-D Baby Animals line.

Petie Puppy is the name of this painted canvas design from Sew Much Fun. He is part of the 3-D Baby Animals line, shown here: http://www.cindysneedleart.com/babyanimals.html

Penelope Poodle is a made by stitching various needlepoint painted canvases and having them finished as a stuffed animal (with movable legs!).

Penelope Poodle is a made by stitching various needlepoint painted canvas sections and having them finished as a stuffed animal (with movable legs!). It can be expensive for the painted canvas, threads, and finishing…but wouldn’t it look perfect in your Paris apartment…someday….

I hope you enjoyed this little view into the colorful, creative, and contemporary dimensional needlepoint designs of Sew Much Fun. For more information on the designs shown here, visit http://www.cindysneedleart.com/Sewmuchfun.html

Pretty in purple, this daisy stands out for...well, standing out. It's called "3-D Daisy" and is from the design company Sew Much Fun. Can you spot the Kreinik metallics?

Pretty in purple, this daisy stands out for…well, standing out. It’s called “3-D Daisy” and is from the design company Sew Much Fun. Can you spot the Kreinik metallics?

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Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

I just returned from the Nashville Needlework Market, which is a trade show for needlework businesses. It was primarily a cross stitch event, with many independent cross stitch shops and cross stitch designers attending the show. This year I was delighted to find several new shops opening soon, and meet many new designers. One of the most frequently asked questions from this Next Generation was, “How do I use metallic threads?”

Metallic threads add light and color to needlework designs. Use them like a spice in cooking—to add interest, a little zip, to keep your design from being bland.

Metallic threads add light and color to needlework designs. Use them like a spice in cooking—to add interest, a little zip, to keep your design from being bland. Spools shown are Kreinik Blending Filament and Very Fine #4 Braid, which come in all kinds of colors, from bright to pastel, jewels, earth tones, and “quiet” colors.

Many have heard good things about Kreinik metallic threads so they came to us for advice. It’s exciting to see stitchers expanding their horizons and experimenting with different threads, different fabrics, and such. Life itself is mixed media, in all its glory. The world around us isn’t flat, boring or plain, so why should our stitchy means of self-expression be one-dimensional? Even printers are going 3D. Any time you add a French Knot to your cross stitch, work in a glow-in-the-dark thread, or stitch on wood, you are standing out, in all of your stitchy glory.

Walk toward the light (metallic pun intended). Metallic threads add color, texture, and light reflection when used next to cotton, silk or wool floss. They can emphasize a certain area of your design, like using a bold font next to a plain one.

Stitch the light fantastic. How? By using metallic threads. They catch the light and make designs "dance."

Stitch the light fantastic. How? By using metallic threads. They catch the light and make designs “dance.” Shown here: Kreinik Blending Filament and Braid in a Kooler Design Studio project.

I want to share my top three suggestions for using these beautiful threads. We must start with this mantra, however: Metallic threads aren’t difficult, they are just different. Say that out loud, then try this:

1. Pick the right thread.

As a Kreinik thread ambassador, my mouth should be washed with soap for saying this, but: Don’t start with the most common metallic thread, Blending Filament. Akin to Christmas tree tinsel, Blending Filament was created by the Kreinik family for a wonderful purpose (add subtle metallic shimmer) to be used via a short-cut (combine it with the cotton floss you’re already using). For beginners though, it can be tricky to combine two different kinds of fibers in one needle. Save Blending Filament for your future projects, when you are more comfortable. You can find all kinds of tips for using this thread here.

Instead, start with a metallic Braid, which is just a fancy word for, basically, a metallic string. Kreinik Fine #8 Braid is the equivalent size of two strands of cotton floss, so it’s perfect for stitching on 14-count Aida (or over two threads on 28-count fabrics). Kreinik also makes Very Fine #4 Braid, which is half the size of #8 Braid, and thus good for stitching on 16-count Aida (or over two threads on 32-count fabrics). Other sizes of Braids are available (see here). With Braids, you just cut about a 15- to 18-inch length, put it in your needle, and go. Don’t use more than one strand in your needle; if you want thicker or thinner coverage, just go to a different sized Braid. These threads are meant to be simple.

Cross stitches of Kreinik Braids and Blending Filament to show the various degrees of metallic effects you can create.

Here you can see the degrees of metallic, based on the different thread weights. From left to right: Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid, Fine #8 Braid (which is thicker), Blending Filament combined with floss, just floss.

2. Feel the thread.

As Meghan Trainor might say if she stitched, it’s all about that base. Metallics are man-made fibers, which means they can be made of all kinds of things. Some metallics have polyester in them, some nylon, some even have real metal. Reflective threads are usually made of tiny glass beads. Some metallics can be wiry, some stiff, some soft, some fuzzy, some smooth, all depending on what they are made of and what effect they create. Some threads are cheap, and they will feel and act that way. So feel the thread first—staying away from stiffer or cheaper fibers if you are a beginner—just to get a sense of how the thread will behave. You will know to stitch more slowly with a wiry thread, for instance. In the Kreinik metallic thread line, the softest are the basic colors (ie, ones that don’t have HL, V, L, or C after the color number). Side note: if you’d like color recommendations from the Kreinik line, feel free to contact me. Side note #2, Worth Noting: I haven’t used this product, but many stitchers recommend a conditioning product called Thread Heaven on metallic threads.

Metallic Braids add light and color to designs, and are meant to be used next to, or in place of, embroidery floss.

Metallic Braids add light and color to designs, and are meant to be used next to, or in place of, embroidery floss. Here I am stitching on 18-count perforated paper, so I am using Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid, which provides perfect stitch coverage.

3. Calm down.

Let it go, let it be, shake it off, be happy, take your time, do it right. I can’t sing it any more clearly: Realize a metallic is going to be different from cotton floss, and you may need to stitch more deliberately. Don’t try to use a meter of thread (stick with 15 to 18-inch lengths), and don’t try to speed stitch. Meditate, stay in the moment of the thread, watching the color and effect brighten your project and make the final result visually stunning. That’s what it’s all about.

Metallic Braids give bolder coverage than metallic filament, which is a thinner and more subtle shimmer.

Metallic Braids give bolder coverage than metallic filament, which is a thinner and more subtle shimmer. This sample shows Kreinik Fine #8 Braid in cross stitch on 14-count Aida.

The bonus tip today is to “Pick the right needle.” You would be amazed at how many thread problems are caused by the needle. A too-small needle will cause a thread to fray and shred, for instance. A too-small eye will cause you to curse when you are trying to thread it, and a rusty needle is just bad. Some people find coated needles work well with metallic thread, and many swear by the Kreinik Needle which was developed for better stitching with metallic threads. I find many problems resolve if you use a good, clean needle.

Hopefully these simple tips help you in your wonderful, colorful thread journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, tips, or tricks, too. Leave a comment or reach me via Twitter, the Kreinik Facebook page, or Flickr. Happy—or happier—stitching!

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Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

Stitching for the holidays is one of the top ten motivators for needleworkers. Whether we are making decorations for our home or making gifts for friends and family, holidays give us themes (and deadlines) for our creative expression. In the arts and crafts industries, holidays are big business, as you can always count on good sales from Halloween and Christmas designs, for instance.

But Valentine’s Day as a holiday creeps up on us. Sure, when we were younger we had time to craft a paper mache flower, color a page of hearts, or decorate a card for our mom and/or grade-school crush, because Christmas was over (nothing new going on) and we were stuck inside in the middle of winter (yawn, boredom). Older and much busier, however, we are swamped at work, still cleaning up from the holidays, organizing papers for our taxes, not-to-mention recovering from get-togethers (and the flu). Before you know it, Valentine’s Day arrives and the thought of making a little love token for your love turns into the reality of just buying them candy.

So I say forget the February 14 deadline, and celebrate the themes of Valentine’s Day all year long. Love never goes out of style, and you can get miles of stitching and crafting ideas from it. Stitch hearts (lifted up, broken, or blessed), or stitch song lyrics and love icons. Stitch a memento of past loves (grandparents, old flames) or new ones (babies, crushes). We all know that stitching is good therapy; stitch your true feelings in a sampler of self-expression. Take all that Valentine’s Day represents—the good, the bad, the ugly and the lovely—and carry it through your stitching projects all year. We can all use a little love, any time.

“Here is the deepest secret nobody knows,” wrote EE Cummings, “I carry your heart (i carry it in my heart).” In honor of this age-old theme, and Valentine’s Day this week, I am sharing photos of some of my favorite stitched pieces of love and hearts, just a few design ideas to inspire you. Enjoy, stitch, share your heart and your love through your craft. The world needs it.

Sweet and soft metallic threads worked in basic backstitches add elegance to this dollar-store tea towel.

1. Sweet and soft metallic threads worked in basic backstitches add elegance to this dollar-store tea towel. It’s a quick, inexpensive, mood-lifter of a project that stitchers of all ages can make. Threads are Kreinik Braid, instructions from https://www.kreinik.com/shops/Embroidery-101-Hand-Towel.html

Celebrating a special couple with an silk thread embroidery project.

2. If you have an example of true love in your life, a couple that shows you what love is meant to be, honor them in an embroidery project. This project features hearts stitched in silk thread on a scrap of linen, with metallic thread accents, and attached to a burlap heart. A photo personalizes it even more. Threads by Kreinik (Silk Mori, Very Fine #4 Braid), project from https://www.kreinik.com/shops/Stitched-memory-heart.html

A charted needlepoint design from West End Embroidery featuring Kreinik threads.

3. This charted needlepoint design is a pattern available from West End Embroidery. Designer Yvonne Close blended a variety of threads and stitches to recreate something we all love: cupcakes! Visit http://www.westendembroidery.com/acatalog/Cup_Cakes.html for design information.

The Queen, a needlepoint design by Sandra Vargas, thread and stitch guide by Sandra Arthur, and distributed by Ruth Schmuff.

4. The fabulous needlepoint designer Ruth Schmuff has terrific senses of color, humor, and style. She also owns a needlework shop in Baltimore, Maryland. Get thee to the shop, and shop for this design: The Queen needlepoint canvas by Sandra Vargas. With a variety of stitches, threads, and embellishments picked out by designer Sandra Arthur, it’s a needlework wonder-land. See http://www.tistheseason.org/The-Queen/ for details.

This design is a simple word painted on needlepoint canvas, but it is brought to textile life through a variety of threads and stitches. Design by Lani Silver of Lani's Needlepoint.

5. This design is a simple word painted on needlepoint canvas, but it is brought to textile life through a variety of threads and stitches. Designed by Lani Silver, who also owns a needlepoint and knitting store in California. Visit http://www.lanisneedlepoint.com/ for information.

Designer Pam Kellogg created this cross-stitched bookmark using Kreinik silk and metallic threads on a piece of Zweigart band fabric. It's such a sweet design, reminiscent of old-fashioned stitched tokens, like the bookmarks you find in antique books.

6. Designer Pam Kellogg created this cross-stitched bookmark using Kreinik silk and metallic threads on a piece of Zweigart band fabric. It’s such a sweet design, reminiscent of old-fashioned stitched tokens, like the bookmarks you find in thrift stores and tucked into vintage books.

Kreinik silk and metallic threads make a sweet and simple cross-stitched heart.

7. Sometimes simpler is sweeter. This design features a pink background stitched in Kreinik Silk Mori, metallic x’s and o’s stitched in Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid, and Kreinik Hot-Wire wired metallic braid to make the word…all done on a Tokens & Trifles brand perforated paper heart shape. It is attached to a greeting card.

Love is how you earn your wings, needlepoint design by Zecca

8. Here is a colorful design with a message of heart, hope, peace, and love. It’s by Zecca, a needlepoint canvas design company, and features a variety of threads and stitches. For more information on the design, visit http://zecca.net/needlepoint/

Cross stitched heart from a Breast Cancer Awareness design by Brooke Nolan for Kreinik Manufacturing Company.

9. Brooke Nolan created this cross stitch design for Breast Cancer Awareness, using Kreinik silk and metallic threads. It will be available on the Kreinik website later this year, but the heart is a simple motif you can stitch now, and add to any project.

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Mr X