Friday, September 10, 2010

EGA Report from San Francisco Five

Vicky is back, reporting from EGA Seminar:

"Another cool and foggy morning in San Francisco. What has happened to the sunshine? The locals love this weather, so they say! We quickly boarded our bus as everyone anxiously awaited the start of our wine tasting trip. The bus started off on route by traveling us up Van Ness Street passing all of these magnificent buildings of old, the Orpheum, the library and on and on. I wish that I could remember the names of all of them. You just marvel at the architecture and the quality of the workmanship. It makes me want to go home and order a Peter Ashe canvas of the San Francisco architecture from my local needlepoint shop and start stitching away! Our tour guide told us that the buildings on one side of Van Ness were vintage from the turn of the century and the other side is not. Many of the buildings were destroyed in the ensuing fires from the 1906 earthquake. The damage was not done from the tremors, but from the fires. Going through this area makes me think of one of my all time favorite movies starring Clark Cable called San Francisco...swell what else would it be?

We drove by Lombard Street while hoping to get a glimpse of the most crooked street, which we didn't, and then through to Golden Gate Bridge which to me is another architectural marvel. The first stop was to be at the bridge for that Kodak moment, but the fog was so heavy this morning that the bridge was totally shrouded in it. So we passed on that and drove through Sausilito, one of my favorite San Francisco stops. San Francisco has such wonderful public transportation that you can take the ferry from the City by the Bay to get here! As we drove through Sausilito, the fog was lifting, the sun was shining and blue skies were peaking out. I learned that as we looked at the bay, that here lives the most 'floating homes' or houseboats. What a way to live!

The windy and scenic roads took us to our first winery in Sonoma, which was Gloria Ferer. I was thrilled that we were stopping here as her label is one of my favorite wines! We toured the champagne caves and sampled two types of the sparkling wines a great and unusual way to start off your morning. We watched them bring in a bin of grapes from the fields and then went into the crusher. Just a fascinating process to learn about. As we meandered through the caves we returned to our starting point and had another pour of a cuvee, which I learned is the premium as it comes from the first crush. I think that everybody did a little shopping and I of course had to pick up a bottle of wine!

The time went too quickly and we were on the bus again and headed to the town of Sonoma. Quaint little shops and lots of eating places. You could have a great wine tasting adventure as along the square are many boutique wineries with their own tasting rooms. A quick bite to eat so that we could sample more wines without getting too tipsy. Viansa Winery and Italian Marketplace was our next stop. A beautiful place with breathtaking scenery with a great gift shop catering to the gourmet cook. We sampled many wines and each pour was served with a specific cheese. Our tasting finished up with a slight sweet wine along with chocolate, the very best of both worlds! I added another bottle of wine to my collection as the wines from Viansa are only sold at the winery, not to be found anywhere else. Sadly it was already time to get back on the bus, but we were headed back to the hotel and then onto shopping at merchandise night!

Shopping! Well it is our duty to help the local economy! We quickly headed downstairs to see what treasures awaited to be added to our stash. So much to pick from and such little time! My first purchase was a canvas from DJ Designs. It is an oval snippet taken from the beautiful Christmas stocking of San Francisco, that can now be an ornament for your tree. It is a new canvas just introduced to his line. I am sure that your favorite needlepoint shop can order that for you! It is a great canvas featuring many San Francisco landmarks around a magnificient Christmas tree. There was so much to pick from at merchandise night canvases, threads, books, charts, fabrics, and on an on. All kinds of toys and gadgets, displays that will just thrill and excite you. I was so excited to learn that I won a door prize consisting of 2 skeins of Olde Willow hand dyed threads, a cameo of beeswax and a bead kit to make a red corset, which was the trademark logo of the show.

More shopping! As I headed back to Needlepoint Inc again. I just wanted to look at everything again while I had more time to really browse. The wall of Needlepoint Inc silk is so pleasing to the eyes. There were two canvases by Melissa Shirley that were finished into the two most gorgeous pillows. Chickens, now you say how exciting can that be? The background was done in a patchwork of stitches and finished off with this trim that simulated chicken feathers! It was just perfect finishing. I browsed through the canvases and found this darling little cat canvas (well of course a cat!) that will quickly work up into an ornament. I happily left the shop with my latest purchase and headed around the corner to a place called Britex Fabrics. I had never heard of it, but I knew that many of the seminar attendees had, so it must be something special.
Something special was an understatement! WOW! is all I could say. Four very long and narrow floors of fabrics, quilting fabrics, upholstery fabrics, fashion fabrics, trims, buttons, ribbons, lace in all colors and patterns. Precisely stacked from the floor to the ceiling in color families and styles. Definately a feast for the eyes!

Walking back to the hotel through Union Square, I wished that I had more time for window shopping through the unbelievable choice of stores that grace this area of San Francisco. I walked by the St. Francis with the eye-catching red awnings that have been seen on tv many times. I need to get back to the hotel, one more visit to the merchandise area, boutiques and book store. Our week has gone way too quickly and it was time to start packing before the big night out!

The EGA brilliantly scheduled a night out for the girls and the guys too! Beach Blanket Babylon was on the schedule and a private performance just for our group was scheduled. There were four large buses waiting and we traveled on through the North Beach Area which is the Italian section of San Francisco. What is beach Blanket Babylon you ask? Beach Blanket Babylon is a wild and zany show that was originally only to run for 6 weeks and 35 years later, the show still goes on at Club Fugazi, still in North Beach. Over the years the show expanded to include more characters, grander sets, a larger cast and what was to become a trademark of the show, bigger hats. Through the years there have been many versions, but some things have stayed the same, outrageous humor, wacky characterizations, unexpected parody and the biggest hats in the world, along with the element of surprise. It is extremely entertaining, it will make you laugh till your sides ache and you want to go again! It can change every few days to every few months as they try to stay current with the events of the world. If you are ever in San Francisco, you should definately try to go, as you won't be disappointed! The producer of the show came out after the performance and answered questions for us for about 30 minutes. What an extra treat and a great way to end the wonderful week in San Francisco.

All good things must come to an end and it is time to go home. But going home to San Diego is not so bad at all! and tonight I am off to the baseball game, another love of my life..."

I couldn't find the San Francisco oval Vicky mentioned above on the DJ Designs website, but it says new designs for 2010 will be posted shortly.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at

Picking Stitches for the Pirate Cat Part One

 Patt and Lee's Pirate Cat
Have you ever found a wonderful canvas at your local shop but put it back instead of buying because you have no idea what to do with it?  Did you go ahead and buy it, then hide it in the back of the closet or under the bed because the only thing you can think to do with it is tent stitch the whole thing and you'd rather do something else?

This article is for you.

Sadly, there is no one way to stitch a painted (or printed) canvas.  There are too many styles, too many personal preferences, too many variations for there to be many rules to follow.  Needlepoint is not math.  I can't tell you that if you always add 2 + 2 you will always come out with the answer of 4.  But I can describe my strategies for analyzing canvases and how I choose stitches and threads for them.  This time let's talk about how to pick stitches.

The Pirate Cat canvas above has a lot of empty background.  How on earth do I figure out what stitch to use in the background?  What I like to do is study the canvas and pull out shapes from it that I can repeat in the background or anywhere else.   The Pirate Cat has a rectangular sign, so I might use box shapes in the background to reinforce the shape of the sign.

The fancy hat the cat wears is shaped a bit like bargello wave patterns.  That's another idea for the background.  I think it might be a bit too busy, though.  One thing you have to keep in mind is that the background shouldn't overwhelm the central parts of the design.  (There are exceptions when the design is very abstract, but just know there are exceptions to every rule.  This doesn't apply to the Pirate Cat.)  Ok, scratch the bargello background idea.  Too busy.

The background itself is sort of slanted like a flat \ pointing toward the cat.  I could choose a stitch that slants diagonally like Diagonal Mosaic.  A stitch like that would be a sort of arrow pointing the eye toward the cat.

As you can see, just analyzing the major shapes of the canvas gave me three ideas.  One I discarded, but I still have two good ideas left.

With all that empty space and a Halloween themed canvas, I could add darning patterns shaped like rows of little pumpkins or tiny skulls for the background.  You could also repeat words over and over again.  Horizontal rows of Feed Me repeated over and over in the background in a thread just a bit darker or lighter than the gray background would be quite cute.  I'm sure many pet owners have critters living with them who use mental telepathy to get us to hand over treats!  So there is a third idea to add to the list.

Finally, when I looked at the Pirate Cat canvas I realized all that empty space could be filled by a real feather.  I'm sure many of you have seen photos like this one.  Now I have a fourth idea, but one that hinges on my being able to find the right size and shape and color of a feather to attach to the canvas.  If I go this route, I could leave the entire background unstitched or use tent stitches all over.  Either way will work.  With something as fancy as a feather stuck in the Pirate Cat's hat, the background stitches need to be minimal.

How do I decide between four ideas?  I reluctantly decided to winnow the ideas to three as I'm going to have a hard time finding feathers.  Not that there aren't birds dropping feathers all over Chilly Hollow--there are!  But they are not ostrich feathers, full and curling.  Those would have to be purchased somewhere and due to the rural nature of where I live, I think this is going to involve mail order.  I don't want to go that route.

So now we are back to three ideas for the background:  use box shaped stitches to echo the rectangle of the sign, use diagonal stitches to subtly point toward the cat and his sign, or use darning stitches to write out either words of Halloween symbols.

Time to pull out my stitching dictionaries!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at