Monday, May 30, 2011

The Cat Topiary Garden and Light Coverage

dede Odgen's Cat Topiary Garden
I've waited a bit to start my new dede Odgen cat topiary garden canvas because I know several folks took advantage of Canvas Be Gone's stock of this discontinued design to pick up a copy at a good price.  I thought I'd better wait until folks had their new canvases so we could all stitch more or less together.

The starting point for this canvas will be to stitch the background since I need to have the distant background done before I start on the middle and foreground.  (The reason why will be revealed later.)  If you look at the black and white photo of the canvas above, you can see that the background is mostly evergreen trees and shrubs.  It's a topiary garden, after all.  There's a tiny amount of pale blue sky at the very top but I have chosen to stitch both the trees and the sky in the background above them in one thread and one stitch.  I'm not going to change colors when the trees change color because using a light coverage stitch will allow those color changes to show.  But we'll talk about this later on.  Right now I want to talk about what is different when you stitch using light coverage stitches--you have to secure your starting and ending threads very very well!

When you stitch with tent stitches, there is a lot of thread on the back.  It is easy to run your needle under an inch or so of your stitches to tie off the thread.  Starting is equally easy, whether you put a small knot on the back or use an away knot on the front that you eventually cut off after you cover the thread leading up to the knot.

When you stitch with light coverage stitches, even light coverage tent stitches, there isn't much thread on the back side to anchor a new length in.  Sometimes there is a place nearby where you can start/end threads the way you normally do. Unfortunately, in this case the light coverage background has to be done first, so using a neighboring regularly stitched area for anchoring points isn't an option.

So, to start a thread, I will tie as small a knot as I can manage.  If there is a little tail sticking out of the knot, trim it off. If you leave that little tail sticking out, it will start to poke itself through to the front sooner or later, particularly if you are using silk.  Silk threads seem to get very wiggly when there are only 1-2 plies and they will work their way loose on the back.

Now stitch a Locking L stitch in an area that will be covered later on by your stitches. The Locking L stitch is just a little stitch over a horizontal thread immediately followed by a little stitch over a vertical thread next door. Together these two stitches make the shape of the letter L.  (If I am using a really slippery thread, I might make a Z shape from three tiny stitches.) In most cases, even if you are using only one ply of silk, these tiny stitches will be hidden by the regular stitches. You just need to figure out where to put them so that the regular stitches will cover the Locking L. This is one reason it is smart to do some test stitching in the margin of your canvas or on a scrap piece of canvas if you haven't done the stitch before. You'll soon have a good idea where to hide the Locking L.

Once I have my Locking L done, I stitch until my thread is about 3 inches from running out. (If you are using a thread that unravels in the eye of the needle you might have to stop stitching when there are 4-5 inches remaining.) To end a thread once you have finished a section, use the Locking L stitch again. This time, slide a stitch you've done already over with your needle tip and run the ending Locking L stitches under this thread and its neighbors. Then turn the canvas over to the back and slip the end of your thread under neighboring stitches, if any. I often slip my thread under previous stitches on the back going in one direction, then slip it under neighboring threads going in the opposite direction. Trim the end tail.

This technique should secure your light coverage stitches well.  And this is the only difference between light coverage stitches and regular ones--you have to secure light coverage stitches better.  It's an easy technique, in other words, with just a little extra care for starting/stopping threads.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the stitch I've chosen for the background.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Janet Reviews

Janet Perry has a series of product reviews up on her website.  The first is the folded fabric ort box, very similar to my leather origami coin purse.  If you travel a lot with your stitching, this might be a great little item for your pocket or purse.

She also gives SharonG's SENSE a rave review.

I love reading reviews of the things we stitchers use. There are so many, more than I could every use, even if I could afford them all!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at