Monday, November 7, 2011

Back to Work on the Cat Topiary Garden

The Cat Topiary Garden Progress Report
The power outage last weekend and all the associated yard work to remove downed trees and limbs have put me way behind on posting about dede Odgen's cat topiary garden. I've been working away, though--I just haven't taken time to talk about it.

As you can see from the photograph above, I've finished the brick border (using Felicity's Garden silk/wool in a nice rusty orange called Cinnamon 012) and also tent stitched the two cat statues using Trebizond Silver 956 (the dark gray), Trebizond Black 111, and Trebizond 953 (light gray).  Since I wanted a smooth and slightly shiny look for the statues, the Trebizond silk perle worked well.  The black eyes of each cat are cross stitches, by the way.  I thought about doing tent stitches for one cat's eyes and reverse tent for the other's eyes but cross stitches looked best to me.

I left the gold necklaces the cats wear unstitched.  I will bead the necklaces but that needs to wait until the end as beads snag threads you are stitching with.

Working both the brick border and the cats was more challenging than I expected.  Remember, I am stitching through a layer of tulle laid on top of the canvas.  This makes laying stitches for a smooth look or doing perfect basketweave stitches harder than I expected.  No matter how careful I was, my stitching wasn't as nice as I'd like.  The tulle catches the threads slightly and keeps them from being perfectly smooth.  If I had it to do over again, I'd put the tulle layer just on the top over the already stitched background and not stitch through it, but I've also discovered that the right thread doesn't snag on the tulle.

Take the brick border, for example.  I used one strand of Impressions (light pinky tan), two plies of Lorikeet (dark brown) and one strand of Felicity's Garden (rusty orange) for the "bricks."  Of the three threads, the Felicity's Garden definitely laid best.  It's the thickest of the threads, so I think what is happening is that the Felicity's Garden comes through the tulle and then meshes together with previous stitches better than the other two brands.

What I'm trying to say is that if you have to stitch through tulle, some threads work better than others for long stitches.  But overall, I'd not recommend using long stitches on top of tulle unless you really must.  I didn't have the same problem with my previous stitches but they all used 1-2 plies of floss.  Of course it is hard to see just where to put my skip tent cross stitches on the topiaries because the tulle masks the canvas thread locations, but a good light and some careful planning gets me over that hump successfully.

Remember, this piece is not just a present for my mother:  it's another mad needlepoint adventure!  That's how we learn what works and what doesn't--by trying everything.  You'll soon find out that some things work, some don't, but you will increase your stitching knowledge immensely and be better prepared for the next project and the next! I highly advocate experimentation in needlepoint.  It is a fun way to learn.

Speaking of next, I'm working on the bird topiary.  After that I hope to alternate work on the cat topiary and the white fence and gate.  But first, there's a problem with the cat statue on the right side....

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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Be Nice to the New Guy

Donna reminds us that our comfortable guild full of old friends may not be welcoming to new stitchers.  Remember this, ok?

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at and at

Be Good to Your Body, Stitchers

Last week I posted a new link in the right hand column under the "Yoga For Stitchers" section.  It joins the two links to Barbara Bergsten's column for relaxation and stretching exercises.  This link which I've called Hand and Wrist Exercises is actually more than that.  It gives you a great deal of information about proper ergonomics for those who use a computer a lot.  There are specialized tips for those who have arthritis, too.

We don't realize how much we use our bodies until they protest.  Take good care of your body so that surgery or a break from stitching isn't in your future.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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