Although I missed posting yesterday, I will post photos of beginning of class and end at the end. We have been working totally on buildings until break time this morning. Then we moved on to the highway below the buildings. We are saying this is Lake Shore Drive and that it is raining lightly making the roadway wet. Can you see the glistening of the road with the Neon Rays+ and the Capri threads? The lights, both headlights and brake lights, are created by the rayon floss. We lay the Neon Rays+ and couch it with the other threads. The lights are random which is not difficult in the first line of lights, but may become more difficult.
After lunch we began on the sunset. Diane had used many photos of the sunset behind the skyline. This gave her not only colors but also where the sun sets in relation to the Sears Tower so that this is realistic. To do the various sky colors, we are blending threads and using an encroaching Gobelin to make the color changes more subtle.
Two things that Diane does that I love. She writes the threads that we will be using for each am and each pm of class. So when we arrive, we can get them out and ready. When we start a new section, she tells us how long she will give us to work on this section. This means that five minutes before we move on, I am not starting a new thread with 4-6 strands of floss threaded in my needle. I use the time to work on another section where I have loose threads.
This design by Diane Herrmann is the sky line of Chicago from Lake Michigan at night. When we got to class this morning, we each got a line drawn canvas of the entire piece and a bag of fibers most of which are DMC. Diane told us in our teacher letter that she would show us an easy way to store all these threads if we brought a kitchen towel with us to class. Here is what she showed us to do.
We placed all our threads on the towel in whatever arrangement we wished. Folded the sides over the threads and rolled it up into a small bundle! How neat is that for the number of threads we are using! There are also some other threads such as rayon floss, Twinkle, Kreinik and others.
We began stitching the Sears Tower. The open spaces will be in a lighter color for the lights. The top of the tower has no lights because there are no windows. It stores water to be used in case of fire. The second building we worked on to the right is the John Hancock building–the roof top bar would be well lit at night, wouldn’t it? Then we began on the diamond in the Diamond building. This is where the rayon floss came in with the yellow outline. Diane gave us two tips which made working with the floss so much easier. She had us cut a length of about one yard, strand it, and dampen each strand then laying it out to dry. We threaded two strands in the needle, put the needle in the middle and knotted the four ends together. We used an away waste knot to secure it. We had a diagram to follow to make the outline and three small hash lines on the canvas indicating where we should go. It really worked! And what life it gives the outline. The inside is being filled in with basketweave using the thread Twinkle–rayon with a filament. I am loving the class. There are eleven of us with ten tables for students and excellent lighting. Couldn’t ask for a better setup. We shouldn’t be interrupted either as our classroom. Is one of the most remote.
Today Rosie and I went to Woodlawn as we have been doing for the past few years. We now have a system of going through the house once, having lunch in Nelly’s Cafe and then a second go around of the exhibit. At lunch we talk about what we have seen and what warrants a second visit. This year during our second trip around we picked our People’s Choice vote for a silk ribbon design that had special touches of embroidered felted wool small birds and tiny 3 D butterflies that had a shadow of the butterfly stitched behind it as well as all the beautiful silk ribbon flowers! We missed those details the first time around.
As usual we found some needlepoint counted designs that we particularly liked and wanted to know the designer. My job is to fill out a question sheet to be given to the stitcher requesting the name of the designer. Rosie’s job was expanded this year as photographs of rooms were permitted–not close ups where a design could be repeated by another stitcher without purchasing the design. So to entice you to come, here are a few room photos.
An entry from Sue R and the silk embroidery with the butterflies!
Joan S’s two ribbon-winning pieces were displayed on the same wall.
Diane B’s and Barbara L’s SOTM along with Sue R’s second piece.
Two pieces by Andrea B as well as Cathryn C’s and Ellen B’s entries.
Rosie’s two collages by Debbie Stiehler, Imari collage won a ribbon!
We did not get photos of all the entries from NJNA, hopefully there will be a later post including others.
What we always enjoy is trying to identify the designer of pieces that we see. This year we identified eighteen different designers whose work we have either stitched or are familiar with! See what spending time with NJNA members will do! This year several members, who had stitched former president of NJNA Susan Hoekstra’s Stitch of the Month design for ANG in 2016, exhibited their completed piece either framed or as a pillow. Unfortunately for those of us who find the different color ways as well as variations of the design a great study of both design effect and color relationships, these pieces were exhibited in several different rooms. Another two (that I counted) exhibitors stitched this design with a very different center. One was at eye level so that we could see the center was beaded and three dimensional. That was one of the question sheets I filled out, who had designed the center. It made for a very different piece!
I felt that in this year’s exhibit there were many more original designs than I have ever seen exhibited before! Several were by teachers but most were not (or at least I don’t believe they are designers!). This seems to me to be a good sign that needlework is expanding and more people are creating their own work.
Each year I come away inspired to stitch more and a plan of what I want to complete for exhibit next year! If you have not come, plan a day in March–not a Tuesday–to come see the beautiful pieces and be inspired! If you have not yet exhibited, consider exhibiting next year to inspire others in this great hobby!
This past weekend five NJNA members attended a stitching retreat offered by the Monmouth Chapter, EGA, in Voorhees, NJ. There is a needlepoint shop nearby in Merchantville, the Nimble Needle, run by Karen Milano. Karen opened earlier in the day than her usual hours and gave those attending the retreat a 20% discount! Her new location is roomier, and it is much easier to find threads. Karen has a wonderful selection of threads as well as great accessories (think magnets, with bling and without). She is also wonderful at helping select the threads needed for a painted canvas.
Then it was on to stitch. There were twenty three of us taking over the Hampton Inn along with the families participating in a boys soccer tournament. We had the large meeting room with wonderful lighting both day and night. (I never used my light and stitched on congress cloth without my magnifiers!). We sat at round tables with four Stitcher’s at a table, ample room for us to spread out our supplies. Most of us worked on several projects during the three days we stitched. We took over the room at three Friday afternoon with all our bags and carts, set up our edible treats and were ready to go. Stitching continued after dinner with participants dropping out for bed as the evening progressed. Last one out locked the door and first one up to stitch asked the front desk to open the room.
There were a wide variety of eating places within five miles on route 73. Or you could walk across the parking lot and eat at the Voorhees Diner which almost everyone did on Saturday evening. If you had been there, you would have seen Ada D. working on her Japanese embroidery and a birth sampler. Ellen S. divided her time between a painted canvas of a snowman and a counted Bargello design, “My Favorite Things”. Tina F. spent her time working on a birth sampler for her grandson.. Sue R. has a beautiful painted cuff she was stitching as well as a painted autumn canvas on which she was stitching a beaded pumpkin and the background in a sign for her newly painted bathroom. Sue C. Divided her time between the chapter project, the Magic Shell and beginning her Bargello, “My Favorite Things” which she bought after seeing Ellen’s–I finished purchasing the threads at Nimble Needle on Friday.
There are so many benefits to a retreat like this, time to escape from your daily life–no laundry, no meal preparation, no work! It is a chance to meet new stitchers and to share ideas among all, a chance to see new designs and projects and to admire the work of others. We learned the names of excellent finishers for our beautiful pieces. We heard about good shops and what they offer. Best of all a productive, relaxing weekend for all. By Sunday at three we were headed back to the real world refreshed.
Staying in Asheville for the eclipse the day following the end of the seminar seemed like a good plan, but after the banquet on the last night there were many distressing stories. Our plan–Jill and myself–was to leave our hotel after breakfast for the hotel in downtown Asheville where we would spend Monday evening. Then we would wander through the shops during the day and ending at the designated eclipse park in downtown Asheville. When we were leaving the banquet, we were told that downtown Asheville would be closed on Monday. Now what. We postponed any decision until Monday. There was nothing on the internet about shops closing so we left before nine expecting lots of traffic. There was very little. We got to the hotel, parked, sat in the lobby with a cup of coffee and layed out our walking route before setting forth. Almost all the shops were open but there was virtually no foot traffic in these stores. It seems that most people were staying away from the area. About one we walked towards the Pack Park where the downtown event was being held. As we walked we saw more and more people headed in the same direction. The park is small and had a number of families set up on blankets. There was music as well as activities going on for the youngsters. We found a place across the street with trees for shade and a low wall for sitting where we waited and watched. At that time there were some clouds in the sky but it was easy to see the moon “eating” the sun using our eclipse glasses–thanks to the library for supplying them. As the time for the maximum coverage approached, larger and larger clouds appeared and we were concerned that we would not be able to see it. Watching constantly was difficult because you needed to crane your neck. One diligent woman kept us all posted and shouted out when the sun was visible! The clouds broke open for about a five minute window with the maximum coverage right in the middle of the window! As we waited the sky got dark enough for the street lights to come on. The maximum darkness was similar to the time right after sunset in Asheville where the coverage was 99%. It was a great experience and fun enjoying it with friendly strangers appreciating the same event.
Yesterday, Sunday, was the last day at this year’s EGA seminar in Asheville, NC. I had a second day of the Lily of the Lake with Gail Sirna. I did as she asked us all and got rid of my “tails”, some I finished and some I just tied off. Tail free, we began today working on thenleft border which has several bands. After lunch it was the right border. I really like the way they look. The participants of this class were so cooperative and helpful to all–lending a battery operated light to someone who was not near an outlet, giving suggestions for how to count for placement of stitches, etc.
There was so much hubbub about the eclipse which occurred today and the traffic that was around Asheville that many were anxious to get on the road last night and not wait for the morning. Our class instruction ended before the afternoon break so several people skipped the banquet and got on the road. I did stay and felt the dinner was tastier than the opening banquet. The prize was the dessert which was a small chocolate teacup filled with berries and whipped cream. I ate every bit of that cup! The favor was wonderful! On of the committee members made one for each of us!
You can see mine and Rosie’s with one open and one with the embroidered cover. This is a favor that can be put to good use. At the banquet it was announced that the only elevator in the Looking Glass building was not working! By the time I was leaving this morning it was back in operation, but not when we returned to the room! It was a good seminar although there facility issues, the classes offered were great as was the merchandise night and teachers’ showcase and both seeing friends and making new ones!
I could not post last night as the room is too dark with all lights on to take a photo. You can see all the parts added during the day which give the border as well as the quills so much more character. This is a piece that I can see myself completing. Not only do I like it but the directions are clear and there is no “new” techniques to learn without guidance. There is more to add in the borders as well as the quills and each adds more character to the design.
Today was day one of Lily of the Lake by Gail Sirna. I like the picture and the threads used are beautiful. Today we completed enough of each petal to understand the stitch and how it fits in the petal–some petals are repeated. The stitches are designed to fit the shape of the leaf with minimal compensation. Thank you, Gail! You can see the reflection of several petals which is stitched with a single thread. Tomorrow we will work on the borders.
We are currently at the EGA seminar in Asheville, NC. My first class is with Ann Strite-Kurz working on another of her animals, “Hedgie”. We did have prework to get in the correct shape of the animal as well as to have a foundation for the border design.
You can see how cute he is going to be! It was a small class, fortunately because the room is small with light provided by large windows and two table lamps from the hotel, but we do have our own private bathroom! Ann had us working on several areas to help us become accustomed to the stitches in areas where we may need to learn the best way to compensate. We also began the framework for the quills and the framework for the background. As the quills are blackwork, Ann explained the whys of the stitch sequence making learning the sequence much easier. Ann also showed us a much easier way to get to the lobby by going outside instead of using the interior stairs or elevator! Thank you, Ann!!
This past week I went up to Sturbridge, Massachusetts to the Winter Stitching Retreat run by Sue Donnelly. You could sign up for five days of stitching with great meals or less. As this was my first time, I decided to try two days. There were two other NJNA members stitching there this week, Ada D. and the mysterious Ellen S. They both spent all five days stitching. The retreat is held at the Publick House complex, a very old hotel.
The stitching room with two NJNA members and friends
There were about ten tables of stitchers working on a variety of embroidery related items, some huge, some small, some cross stitch, some needlepoint and other techniques as well. As you know we are always looking for new tools for our hobby. One woman was using a bead mat about the size of a 3 X 5 card held onto her canvas by a strong rare earth magnet. Nancy gave us all the information we need to buy one for ourselves!
Meals were an important part of this retreat! We had a choice of about three main courses and three desserts for each lunch and dinner which we selected about a week before the event. I enjoyed everything and heard nothing from others except how good it was. The fruit offering for dessert at each meal was always fresh and loaded with flavor and there was always a delicious choice from the inn bakery. The waitstaff was always on top of things and ready to respond to a request for another cup of tea or coffee. Conversation and laughter flowed at every meal.
Do we look happy?!!!
The accommodations were very good and available in several places at the Publick House, in the main building, next door in a newer building and about a block away in a motel like building. I stayed in the motel, walked down for breakfast and then drove down for class as we did not want to walk up the hill after evening stitching in the dark. The weather was beautiful so the walk and distance was not an issue.
Other inducements to come included a lovely reusable gift bag which included several design charts, a spool of Kreinik, a card of Weeks Dyeworks, a sample of lotion, Kreinik thread color chart, a button pin for the event for stitching. There was even a Victoria Sampler Christmas Cardinal stocking design with the thread/bead pack included. The hotel kept ice and ice water available at all times. Cookies were set out daily which I do not even try as I filled up at the meals. A nearby shop was the vendor with numerous cross stitch designs, a few accessories and a few Nancy’s Needle counted work designs. The owner would take orders for threads she carried and bring the threads in the following day for those requesting. Each evening after dinner about ten names were drawn for door prizes that had been donated primarily by companies such as Kreinik and 123stitch.
If you think you might be interested, check the website for Stitchers Hideaway which should have the information posted for next year by mid March.
On Friday I drove down to Alexandria, VA, with friend Barbara K. to see the classes that would be offered in Asheville next year as well as to go to the boutique and Merchandise Night. I was hoping that there would be classes for the 2017 EGA Seminar that I would like because I really wanted an excuse to return to Asheville. There are and I will register this month during early registration! To tempt you to log on to the EGA website–egausa.org–to see the classes, let me tell you a bit about some of them. Ann Strite-Kurz will be teaching the hedgehog Rosie has been talking about, Happy Hedgie, as well as Loon Tunes, that we have seen stitched by Rosie in a pilot class. Ann also has a one day class, Leaf Luster. Another teacher we are familiar with is Gail Stafford. She is teaching Fog in the Mountains which Jill took at the ANG seminar in Myrtle Beach last year. Gail’s second class is A Dusting of Snow showing a gazebo in the snow. Kurdy Biggs has a one day class of a three dimensional ornament and a four day class reminiscent of A Different View in that the canvas is covered with many different stitches that all fit together–how does she do that? Gail Sirna has two offerings, Rosalie’s Roof Garden and Lily of the Lake, both beautiful designs. Joan Thomasson has a one day class with another of her Santas, this one called Medieval Santa Ornament and a four day class, Bavarian Wedding. Janet Zickler Casey has a two day class stitching a “minaudiére” which by the class description is a small purse. Janet is also teaching another two day class with two of her Santas, Christmas Light Santa and Candy Swirls Santa. Jeanette Rees has a four day class, Feeding Frenzy. This is described as a mixed media class and is not as canvas. All of these classes as well as the rest of the offerings should be online this evening or tomorrow morning. Early registration runs through the end of November.
Asheville has other draws as well. The famous Biltmore Estate is located there as well as the well known Southern Highland Craft Guild located on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the outskirts of Asheville. If you are going to Asheville, the Grove Park Inn is well worth a visit just to see the lobby and walk around the public areas reading a bit of the history of the building. One of the women working the area showing next year’s classes told me that the day following the last day of classes there will be a total eclipse of the sun visible in this area of North Carolina making it worthwhile to stay an extra day before coming home. You can see I am excited about visiting Asheville next summer! If you are not currently a member of EGA check to see if there is a chapter near you!