Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why Needlepoint Drives People Nuts

The Unboxing is going fairly well. I have thrown out pounds and pounds of old papers and magazines, though I have not found the one thing I absolutely have to find before Wednesday. I am getting a little nervous about it.

But organizing one thing leads to organizing other things. I started organizing all my Weeks Dye Works threads and put them on rings organized by color number. I did the same with my Maderia rayon threads. Then I decided to organize my Rainbow Gallery Threads, especially when I found this page to create Thread Lists.

Needle Artworks, Inc.
hread Inventory System

has some pretty up to date lists of threads from various companies. It also has links to the color cards on the Rainbow Gallery website.

And once I had my threads all organized (and I was drooling over all the beautiful Rainbow Gallery threads), I just had to do something with them.

Which led to a new start. I have had this for over two months. I meant to start it in June so I could submit it to the Project Spectrum Flickr account for the June/July colors of Red/Black/Metallic. Then I thought I wouldn't have time to finish it before the beginning of August when the colors change to Orange/Brown/Purple. But it called out to me and so I began.

Starting modern needlepoint is a lot different than starting a cross stitch pattern. For cross stitch you have a pattern. Unless you are specifically asked to do a specialty stitch, all the stitches are cross stitches (or half or quarter or three quarter crosses). You might change the suggested fabric or a thread or two, but mainly you picked the pattern because you liked it and you knew what it would look like when it was finished.

Old fashioned needlepoint had one choice of thread, wool. You had a painted canvas and you stitched a tent stitch over every cross of canvas in the design. Now there are hundred of threads you can use and hundreds of stitches to cover the canvas. So the very first things you have to do are decide what the piece is going to look like and how you are going to accomplish that look. I decided that the box was going to sparkly. So I started looking for shiny threads. I came up with RG FyreWorks for the black ribbon, RG Fiesta for the white ribbon, RG Patina for the red box, and RG Alabaster for the spirals on the box. The rest of the pattern would be subdued. RG Silk & Cream for the background and RG Pebbly Perle for the plaid border (with shiny red spirals). I also decided on a Double Twill stitch for the box, but only a tent stitch was appropriate for the border.

I normally start in the middle and work outwards, but from my very first stitch I knew I was going to be in trouble. I started with a 26 needle, but I was having trouble getting it through the canvas even with FyreWorks, which is a pretty flexible ribbon. I switched to a 24 needle, which was somewhat better, but still a struggle. The white Fiesta I used next was also a problem. I decided I needed to test every thread I was planning to use, so I moved to the red spirals. Kreinik #8 Braid was going through very smoothly. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. But when I got to Pebbly Perle, which is rated for 18 count needlepoint, again it was a struggle just to get the needle through the canvas. Although Pebbly Perle is a twisted thread, it is separable. So I stitched the white around the red spiral with three strands (not four) of Pebbly Perle. Not bad.

Then I tried a 22 needle, just to see if that would help. Ouch, the needle bent! Back to a 24 needle (which is a little bent, but not as bad as the 22). OK, three strands of Pebbly Perle will work for the border. The Silk & Cream (being wool and more compressible) works for the background. But when I tried the Alabaster (also rated for 18 count needlepoint), I couldn't even begin to pull it through. Fine, the box spirals will be Kreinik #8 braid. The white braid seems a little thinner than the red braid.

Now on to the red box. After two stitches the Patina was shredded. I picked it because it was a twisted rayon and not stranded. This is not going to work. I still want shiny, but not silk and not sparkley like Kreinik. I want a rayon. OK, what about RG Neon Rays? It's a rayon ribbon. I'll have to use a laying tool, but it definitely fits through the canvas! And even though it doesn't really fill the stitch, the fabric behind the stitch is painted. Whatever canvas shows through will be (almost) the same color as the threads. I also changed from the Double Twill stitch to the Single Twill stitch. Ribbon shouldn't be stitched over one.

So here is about an hour of stitching (and two hours of rethinking and testing). I possibly could finish it by the end of the month, but I'm not counting on it.


Jennifer said...

Wow! That sounds really frustrating. You have such an enviable thread collection!

Itching To Stitch said...

I do both, cross stitch and needlepoint. I haven't needlepointed in quite some time but I will only use certain fibers because I know they will work well for what I want to do. Your canvas will be very pretty once it's stitched ;)

Chiasmata said...

Tapestry kits would be the closest I've ever come to needlepoint. Which is good, because I'd get frustrated having to play around with threads like that!

Can't wait to see your progress on the pressie.

Ruth said...

lol I soooo feel your pain. I have those canvases -- the needle-eaters, the thread-shredders, the sanity -destroyers. It's enough to make you drink, but then your stitches get off and you start the whole ball going again.

I do like that box. It's mighty cute.

Judy Bemis said...

please contact me - I've lost your e-address and phone #