Monday, February 7, 2011

The Festival of Broken Needles is Tomorrow

Japan's Festival of Broken Needles (or Festival of Needles, I've heard Hari-Kuyo translated both ways) is tomorrow, February 8.  I save up my tarnished needles all year for this.

I'm not Japanese nor am I near a Japanese temple where needles are inserted into tofu and then floated away in a river, so tomorrow I will carefully package up my used needles in the prettiest box I have before I ceremoniously put them in the trash.  I like the idea of honoring the little needles without which I could not needlepoint.

If you are curious about the tradition, read what Susan has to say, then click on the link to the booklet that explains the traditions around this ceremonial Shinto tradition.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Old Websites with New Faces

Holly Berry Snowman from Just Libby
Yesterday's canvas of the day was a particularly fun one--a Just Libby snowman!  Libby Sturdy does line drawn canvases that come with a stitch guide so that you fill in the areas of the outline with specified threads and stitches to create something wonderful. Libby's updated her website recently and reorganized things so you can find the various subjects she stitches easily.

Gay Ann Rogers is always changing her website to reflect the seasons and the designs she is promoting.  This month she plans to sell some of her old heart charts and is posting new photos of her hearts to her website daily.  She is asking folks to let her know which ones they'd like to see in the sale.  This allows her to build excitement for the sale yet not have to print out instructions for hearts that folks don't want to buy instructions for.  To see the show, go to the GAR website and then click on Hearts Gallery.  Each day new designs will be added.

The moral is to keep checking your favorite websites.  Makeovers happen there all the time!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Gold Fish Embellishment

Lillian Chermor Gold Fish
Carol and I've been talking about embellishing her Lillian Chermor canvas with all sorts of things.  Carol says, "Because I like to do dimensional work, I would like to incorporate some into this piece. I think the seaweed would be the place to bring that in; the fish fins (which would be my other option on this piece) are too big. I really like the picture I see in my mind of the fish actually being behind the seaweed strands, not just stitched to give it that appearance. I also wonder if shisa mirrors would work for the bubbles."

Carol, thanks for the quick response on this. Shisha mirrors should work for the bubbles if you can find them in the right sizes.

Have you thought about covering the mirrors with a thin see-through fabric like tulle, appliqueing the fabric to the canvas, then doing background on top of the fabric edges to hide them?  With a sharp needle you can easily stitch right though fabric.  You could choose different colors of fabric for the different colors of bubbles.  We can talk about this further but I'd try stem stitching around the mirror through the tulle with a ply of black floss and then basting the raw edges of the fabric to hold them in place.  The basting stitches may come out or maybe you'll just do background right on top of them.

If shisha mirrors don't work for whatever reason, think about buttons.  You might be able to find rhinestone buttons you could use the same way.  Sequins are another alternative.

Meanwhile, see what beads, sequins, and metallics you have, ok?  We are really going to go to town on this one!  Do you have a fabric store nearby with a good selection of fabrics?

"I have a fair selection of beads, but Minneapolis is blessed with some of the best bead stores in the country, so I can get what's not in my stash. As for fabrics, are you thinking fancy fabrics or quilting cottons? I can get either."

I thought you might use some bits of Ultrasuede on some of the seaweed but that's not certain yet. Depending on the background stitch and how you finish the Gold Fish you might put a piece of gold lame underneath it for a subtle shine. But we have a lot of talking to do before we decide on this.

I think the blue-green would be an excellent choice for the water. The split complementary on the color wheel of blue-green is orange and red so it should work well.

"I'll check my stash for some fab colors for the water.

I've done some work with shisha mirrors, and have several sizes in my stash. I actually thought about the netting thing as well--I think that would be a great look. Gathering up the tulle around the mirror would probably be faster than trying to tack down edges, but then of course you need a way to attach them to fabric--Invisible thread would work to tack them down; a blending filament would add some extra sparkle. I had one other thought about the background. I would like to explore the idea of letting a small amount of the canvas show through; the canvas color to me is the color of sand, which would fit well with the scene."

If you want to let sand colored background show, we can space out rows of stitches to allow either bare canvas between them or position tent stitches in the background color between rows.  Look at the stitches I sent and see if you like any of them and if we can modify the ones you like to allow this effect.

Think also about using brown beads as sand, perhaps scattered along the bottom of the canvas.  Or bead the school of fish we talked about.

"I was originally thinking about simply not having full coverage on the background stitching to let the brown show through, but skipping stitches might work as well. In my head, I like the more random look of the sparse coverage--skipping stitches might look too planned for me. I think I'm going for overall blue, with a hint of brown. I think the beads would not be random enough, and my brain would always want to know why the water has bumps in it. I'll check out the links to the background stitches once you send those."

Some background stitch suggestions have gone out to you already. Once you settle on a color and decide if you want to put a school of fish in the background, we can talk more about background stitches.

I was thinking about appliqueing Ultrasuede for your seaweed but that depends on the size of the seaweed.  It can be fiddly to stitch down very small pieces but if you are game, it'll look great.  I was also looking at the tear drop seaweed and thinking maybe using Flair or something similar stitched over beads to give dimension.  Look at this blog posting by PFOS.  The pumpkin is done this way.  You'll maybe need a teardrop bead to get the right effect, though.

"I LOVE the idea of the tear drops covered with the Flair. I was thinking of making a detached buttonhole net to cover something, but your idea is way easier and faster. It might make sense to insert the bead into the Flair and stitch up the excess so it covers the bead tightly. Finding these beads might be hard--I probably should not have thrown away that catalog I recently got from Fire Mountain Gems!"

Not to worry. They have a big website and when I searched on “teardrop” I got a lot of hits.

"As for the Ultrasuede, I'm not so sure about it. I really want the seaweed to be dimensional and I'm not envisioning how that would work with the Ultrasuede--although I guess I could applique to a slip and attach the slip to the canvas. I also wonder if Ultrasuede would be too stuff, and wouldn't have the flexibility that would create the seaweed in water effect. I was thinking something like a twisted silk ribbon would be the right weight, but I'm not sure what to do with it on the bottom edge."

Ultrasuede comes in two weights. If you use the light weight Ultrasuede meant for clothing instead of the upholstry weight, it isn’t stiff at all. I wasn’t thinking of using a long strip of it twisted like you might use ribbon. I was thinking of making xerox copies of your canvas, cutting out each squiggle in a different color of Ultrasuede, and stitching them down separately. You would have three blue shapes, two dark green ones and two light green ones. That’s what I meant about fiddly--there is a lot of cutting. The teardrop seaweed would be done a different way. Make sense? If you want to twist ribbon over the seaweed shapes, you can do that. First, stitch over the background and the fish entirely, then using a color copy of the unstitched canvas, come up with the ribbon at the top outside the margin and secure it. Then twist the free end of the ribbon and tack it down. When you get to the bottom of the seaweed, take the ribbon down into the canvas and secure it on the back. I’d use River Silks ribbon as it comes in various widths and a lot of colors. You could even mix colors and come up/go down each color separately although that is a lot of work and I’m not sure just how it would look.

How do you feel about doing the spots on the gold fish using the hot fix Swarkovski crystals?  Again, it depends on the size of the dots and you'll need two different sizes of crystals.  They do come in various sizes.  Do you think yellow or red or gold crystals are the right color for these?  I think using purple crystals on the coral red, and gold crystals on the red and yellow crystals on the purple would work but maybe that's too much color.    The fish is pretty busy.  Sequins might also work but I personally find it hard to get sequins in various sizes that look nice.  Most of them are just plastic or foil.

"I was wondering about what to do with the dots. I was thinking some sort of dimensional stitch, like a woven or a spider web rose, but I think the sparklies would be fun. I think it makes sense to use the complement of the background color for the sparklies. I have not worked with the hot fix crystals--do they just get attached with a hot glue gun, or is there something more to the process?"

You need a special hot fix tool for the crystals. It’s sort of like a hot glue gun but Swarkovski hot fix crystals come with the glue already on their flat back side. The hot fix tool is used to simultaneously pick up the crystal and heat the back so that when you press the tool holding the crystal down on your fabric (or canvas), it sticks. I’ve used the Jolee brand and it works nicely. Here’s a video that shows how it works. The tool and the crystal and glue get pretty hot, though. You have to be careful.  Here's a video that explains the process pretty well. This looks like a Jolee brand hot fix tool but they all work pretty much the same.

I think you are going to have to go shopping for Ultrasuede, tulle, shisha mirrors, sparking buttons, crystals, and perhaps sequins and beads.  Once you know what is available to you, then we can make more choices.  Told you this was going to be fun as we ran wild with it!

"I'll try to get out on Sunday and do some shopping for this stuff."

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