Monday, April 4, 2011

Monthly Clubs Return at Old World Designs

Old World Designs is offering a new series of snowmen canvases and a new series of California ornaments for their 2011 monthly clubs.  These were very popular in previous years so they have created more.  The earlier series are also still available if you missed out and want both versions.  Here are the new snowman ornaments.  Note the link to the earlier series if you want to see more.

Here are the newest California ornaments.

There is no link to the earlier set but I found them here.  I don't know the designer of any of these series but the guides to stitching them are by June McKnight, whose small books on needlepoint are a delight to read.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Arlene at Woodlawn 2011

Arlene's Lace and Original Pieces
Despite the lack of a Flickr album of Woodlawn award winners this year, I do have some Woodlawn photographs for you to see of Arlene's three entries.  Look carefully, for each piece is a riff (using a different form of needlework) on a piece of lace Arlene made. Unfortunately, Woodlawn doesn't take lace in the exhibit so Arlene didn't send the original inspiration piece, just the three designs inspired by it.  However, she graciously agreed to share the original lace design with us here on Blog.

Arlene writes:

"For the effort that I put into writing artistic statements (which I never have before because I've never submitted an original piece before), it is sort of a shame that visitors can't read more of what stitchers were thinking about their pieces. Even commercial designs - sometimes I just want to know what inspired a person to stitch a particular piece.

Bobbin Lace
I've attached 5 pictures. One picture is my four pieces together, and then a separate picture of each of them. (The lace wasn't shown at Woodlawn - they don't take bobbin lace.) Copied below was what I wrote for my artistic statements. The first two paragraphs I repeated on each piece and then there was a separate paragraph about the specific piece. "

Artistic Statements sent to Woodlawn 

"As I imagine to be true of many who exhibit at Woodlawn, my interest in the needle arts is not limited to one particular type. Moreover, that interest extends beyond work with needles to the art of bobbin lace – making lace the way it was made before machines. A couple of years ago, I picked up a French bobbin lace pattern book titled La Dentelle Torchon by Martine Piveteau and was immediately struck by one particular pattern – a geometric design so beautiful that I was determined to create it. As my bobbins weaved back and forth over the months, I began to envision this exquisite design in different needlework techniques. That is to say, what could my needle create?

Good old-fashioned graph paper, pencil, ruler, and a little bit of math helped me deconstruct the original design. I wanted to size my needlework interpretations to be nearly identical to the original lace piece, and I pictured the final pieces together on the wall with the effect of connection, interpretation, balance, and structure. Eliminating the idea of 'color' was simple; the threads of these pieces would range from white (bobbin lace) to light grey (pulled thread) to dark grey (canvaswork) to black (blackwork).

For this blackwork piece, I wanted to preserve the lacy effect of the bobbin lace while turning the colors inside out, so to speak – black on white, instead of white on black. I knew that the straight stitches of blackwork could have allowed me almost literally to reproduce the thread patterns of bobbin lace, but I found myself wanting to make the piece its own creation. Instead of following the exact lines and twists of bobbin lace thread, I played around with many blackwork patterns, in books and in my imagination, to find combinations of density and openness that would recreate the look and feel of the lace without mimicking it literally. This decision allowed me to realize the goal of interpreting a piece of art through a different thread technique.

After lots of trial and error with various threads and shades of grey, I realized that this canvaswork interpretation of the bobbin lace needed to focus on one deep shade, with metallic accents conveying the lightness of the open spaces as well as emphasizing the overall geometric structure. The dense areas of the lace were created with different stitches on the canvas to make solid areas and the open lacy parts were created with the lightness and airiness of a fine metallic thread. As is true with all three of the pieces I am submitting to Woodlawn this year, my goal was to recreate the look and feel of the bobbin lace without mimicking it literally. This project helped me to understand how it is possible to interpret a piece of art through different thread techniques.

Counted Canvaswork
I originally planned this light grey pulled thread piece to be a Hardanger design. That is to say, the open lacy areas of the original bobbin lace design were going to become Kloster blocks with decorative filling stitches. I worked the dense areas in satin stitch, but then I found myself stuck when it came time to cut threads. The math worked out on paper, but I realized the look of thread on fabric would be all wrong. Wisely, I decided to set this piece aside – allowing my mind to work through the technical problems before I did any cutting of threads.

Pulled Thread 
Eventually, I came to realize that there would be no effective solution using the traditional count of Hardanger stitches if I wanted the overall dimensions to be the same as the bobbin lace. It finally dawned on me that I needed to change my thinking if I was to find a way to reproduce the airy open areas of the lace with light grey thread on light grey fabric. The stitches of pulled thread embroidery made this possible – a technique related to Hardanger but one that would allow a little more flexibility with the math. I learned an important lesson from this piece – the need in any needlework project to keep an open mind in the design phase because many factors can drive the final solution."

Arlene is starting her next large project--Jean Hilton’s ScottLee. I expect we’ll have more wonderful stitching from her to see at Woodlawn 2012!

Arlene, thanks for all the work you did pulling this together for me to publish.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at