Pliers, Flat Irons & C Clamps

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“What’s that?” I asked Andrea over the din of last year’s Needlefest.

The room was large, noisy and yet cozy with stitching friends catching up on news and projects. She and I had sat next to each other, and I couldn’t help but notice the pliers she extracted from her project bag. She turned her small needle nosed pliers one way then the other for me to admire and explained that she used the tool to pull the end of threads through stubbornly tight stitches on the back of her canvas.

A relative newcomer to stitching, I loved the idea that I could raid my husband’s workshop to improve my needlepoint. (He’s been smart enough to ignore the occasionally borrowed pair of pliers ever since.)

And recently I wondered what other hardware, drug and office supply items my stitching friends were using to up their needlepoint game.

So I asked them all at our most recent “Stitch of the Month” session. The answers came fast and furiously:

To pull the ends of stubborn threads through stitches on the back of your project, try hemostatic forceps, needle nosed pliers, tweezers or a one-to-two inch square piece of nonskid rug pad material.

A meat mallet can help you assemble a wooden needlepoint frame. To protect the wood, place a pot holder on top of the spot you’ll be pounding.

A pill case like this one – https://www.travelsmith.com/product/am-pm-vitamin-pill-case.do– can keep needles organized, which is especially helpful if you’re carrying multiple types to class(es).

To straighten out neon rays and other “kinky” fibers in a flash, use a small flat iron. If you’re planning to use the device throughout a stitching session keep everyone safe by resting the flat iron in a mug.

To hold multiple threads as you work, gently attach magnetic paper clips like these – https://oliblock.ecwid.com/Small-Magnetic-Clips-c22190385 – or quilters’ clover clips to the edges of your canvas.

An industrial C clamp can be used to attach your project to a table and stabilize it while you work.

Try making your own needle minder to perfectly match your new project. All you’ll need are two small craft store magnets, industrial strength glue, such as E6000, and charms, unusual buttons, or pieces of leftover fashion jewelry.

I’ll take the blame for including this last item, which finds a place here mostly because I never expected to hear these three words uttered together: magnetic; bingo; and, wand. Yep. If some of your needles are MIA on the floor, try sweeping an inexpensive magnetic bingo wand over your rug. It’s a thing.

Thanks especially to Margaret, Linda, Rosie, Jill, Sue, Marge and Amy for sharing this information.

Happy stitching, everyone.

 

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EGA Regional Seminar

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Hi Everyone —

This past weekend I attended my third EGA Metropolitan Region Seminar in Madison, NJ.   Usually, I just take a class, but this year I was responsible for coordinating the Opportunity Basket Auction.  I was nervous about handling the large amount of cash, but in the end everything balanced to the penny and the money was distributed without incident.

I had initially signed up to take studio time because Opportunity Baskets and, DUH, UFO’s!   But, when I was in Scotland last summer, I bought a Mackintosh Rose tote bag on deep discount and convinced myself that I had signed up to take Toni Gerdes’ Mackintosh Rose Kimono.  So imagine my surprise/disappointment when my registration came and said “Studio Time”.

The Mackintosh Rose tote bag and Toni’s Kimono!

Luckily, I knew the registrar and was able to change into Toni’s class!  Charles Rennie Mackintosh was known for his Mackintosh Rose stained glass windows, but the motif appears throughout his designs.

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A set of tiles in the Mackintosh Rose design.  Can you see the source of Toni’s inspiration?

(As an aside, Toni is doing a series of artist-inspired kimonos:  The Wright Kimono taught at ANG in Chicago, The Mackintosh Rose Kimono, The Klimt Kimono to be first taught at ANG in Houston, and The O’Keeffe Kimono in design for ANG Tucson.)  Are you tempted yet?

As usual, Toni’s class was awesome and I came away with some new techniques and ideas for use on other projects.  One of these was Wonder Ribbon and the other was the best ever use for Flair!  Here is my progress at the end of two days:

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The Wonder Ribbon appears in the bottom right corner of the design.  This ribbon started as about a 3/8-inch wide tube.  It stretches when you pull on the sides and goes back to its original shape when you pull on it lengthwise.  So you can pull it into any number of shapes; the website says it is good for waves.  It comes in five widths.  (Carol, do you remember those necklaces we bought in Mexico?  Same idea.)  Toni had us use two balloon sticks to widen the ribbon to the approximate width that we needed and then tack it down with Accentuate.  The ribbon will be stitched over when the design is nearly done.

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A close-up of the Wonder Ribbon.  Note that you can see the canvas through it!

For any of you who have stitched with Flair, you know what a mess it can be.  I promised you the best use ever, so let’s look at rosebud on the Kimono,  Here’s a close-up:

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The center of the rosebud is Flair that is stretched open and tacked down in exactly the same fashion as the Wonder Ribbon.  An oblong Jessica is stitched over it.  The Flair fills in the center of the Jessica.  It creates a translucent effect and IMO is the best idea ever!  When I said that to Toni, she suggested that Wonder Ribbon or Flair, depending upon width, would be great for windows — covering the area, but receding as well.  I plan to try it out on Lombard Street and The Neighborhood!

I HOPE to finish this piece since it is my remembrance of Scotland.   However, the kit came with two spools of the same color of Accentuate…….

Cheers, Rosie

March SOTM

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Hi Everyone —

We had a small turnout at today’s Stitch of the Month, but Sylvia did an awesome job of hosting us.  (And her dogs are very well behaved!)

We all expected to be done with this month’s SOTM and to be able to work on something else afterwards.  But — best-laid plans — most of us did a lot of un-stitching this month.  Take me, for example, I started with red and didn’t like it.  Then I stitched in green and I liked it but made a mistake and had to take it out.  Then I decided to go in the blue direction to introduce a new color to my design, but it looked terrible.  Then I finally restitched the flower in green.  So — I have a few more steps before I am done for March!

Here’s a collection of our progress:

What a variety of different looks!  This is truly a mystery!

Cheers, Rosie

A Cold Day at Woodlawn

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Hi Everyone —

As Linda alluded to in her earlier e-mail, a quartet of NJNA members visited Woodlawn today.  All of us were exhibiting so our admission was free!  HA!

As usual, Woodlawn was decked out in needlework glory albeit with fewer entries than past years.  We were allowed to take pictures and I took pictures of all of the NJNA pieces.  I think I’ll hold most of those pictures until later because it is always a fun surprise to turn the corner and discover your own piece in its Woodlawn location.

Here we are with OUR pieces:

Unfortunately, our SOTM Stars pieces were not hung together.  And we saw one Stars that was not from our group!  Similarly, we were disappointed that Andrea’s beautiful butterflies were not together.  And, we found three versions of Holiday Patches — only one was holiday-themed — and the casual observer would not have realized that they were the same.  Clearly a missed opportunity for Woodlawn.

We saw a stitched version of Beachcomber’s Booty — the Ann Strite-Kurz piece that is being offered by Needleworkers in mid-May.   It was more beautiful than any of us imagined.

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Beachcomber’s Booty — the background is a lovely shade of aqua that none of the photos has quite captured.  One of our group signed up for it on the spot!

Another item that we found fascinating was this sun/moon piece that I know at least one of our members has stitched.

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Notice that the fillet is gold on the sun side and silver on the moon side!  Unusual, but apt treatment!

Of course we had lunch in the charming Nelly Needler’s cafe — Sue and I always do a turn around the exhibit, have lunch and compare notes, and then view it all again!  It was such a pleasure to have Ellen S and Janice M join us this year!

It is always a joy to meet so many other stitchers and to see some some amazing creations!  I hope you will have a chance to visit for yourself!

We stopped at Waste Knot in Arlington on the way down,  visited In Stitches in Alexandria today, and plan to stop at Hillside Needlepoint in Stevenson, MD on our way home tomorrow!   And, yes, the credit cards got a workout!

This is always one of my favorite needlepoint adventures of the year!

Cheers!

Rosie

 

 

Nashville Needleworks

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As most of us do when we travel, we scout out local needlework shops.  I am no exception and recently found a jewel of a shop called Nashville Needleworks owned by Connie Camp.

It is a lovely, bright welcoming shop with two rooms.  One has a large table around which stitchers are always seated. There are hand painted canvases all over the shop of varying subject matter.  What struck me the most was the abundance of thread.  There were one or two threads I could not get locally, but there are walls of all the different color ways.  The picture on the bottom left is just Kreinik.  I did not end up purchasing a canvas, but did buy a kit for a frame weight that had been from a class taught at the shop in regard to beading.  I’d love to start that project soon, but the queue is rather long at the moment.  Of course, I did the obligatory magnet needle minder purchase as well.  Brenda Soffit is going to be teaching a remarkable rabbit that employs needle felting.  I’m sorry I did not get a picture of that.  It was so special that the rabbit was under a glass dome.

The store is known for its needlepoint retreats that are only open to out of owners.  Information on those can be found on FaceBook or call the shop.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit!

Needlework Friendships

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As most of you have realized by now, being a needlework enthusiast brings with it, its own brand of friendship.  The non initiated think of needlework as a solitary activity.  It certainly can be that and many of us relish that alone time doing repetitive movement and creating at the same time.  However, the uninformed are astounded when I say, that needlework for me has a huge social aspect.  I have dear friends across the country that I have made over the years at conventions, classes, from guild memberships and stitch-ins.  Perhaps the dearest friendships of this type are with three ladies from my time spent on the national board of the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA).  We met in 1985 as each of us was going on to the board for the first time. (Technically, one of us came onto the board a year or two later, but we never seem to keep the facts of that story straight.)  Let me introduce you.  I (Barbara) am from NJ.  Bonnie is from Wisconsin, Cary is from Alabama and Regina is from the East End of Long Island.

This friendship of ours certainly defies all odds.  We are from different parts of the country, have different religious and political beliefs, had very different professional aspirations and have led very different lives.  We have no idea what binds us together so tightly, but it is quite evident that there is an abundance of chemistry.  We may not speak for months at a time, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off.  Our largest claim to fame are our giggles.  There are lots and lots of those.

We meet usually once a year.  Formerly, we always got together at the annual SAGA convention, but as our needlework interests migrated we breached out and started meeting in other places.  For many years, the ladies came to Long Beach Island to my beach house, but when I sold it (to spend more time in CA with the “little people” ), we had to get creative again.  It can take us months to plan (just coming up with mutually convenient dates is quite the challenge) but there is not much that keeps us away from our appointed get together.  I missed once because of a death in my family and one time Cary got as far as Charlotte and then the flight was canceled due to weather.  This year it looked as if Bonnie wouldn’t make it because of a blizzard in Wisconsin, but somehow she got there at the appointed hour.

So where did we go this year?  We went to Nashville.  Now one might think we saw the Country Music Hall of Fame or that we took the tour of the Grand ‘ole Opry, but you would be wrong.  What we did mostly was scout out yarn stores and the one needlepoint shop, Nashville Needleworks (more about that in another shorter blog entry) and hang out in our suite hotel to knit, stitch and laugh. Cary’s grandmother was from Nashville so we did do some driving to see some of the mansions and horse farms off the beaten track. No honky tonk nightlife for us.

We all cherish this friendship and will be devastated when we can no longer manage these trips.  We are always up for suggestions on places to go.  However, SAGA turns forty this year.  We are hoping to make an appearance at the convention in the fall to honor the legacy of SAGA and more importantly the treasure of our friendship.

I will attempt to upload a photo of us at a yarn store in Nashville called Bliss.  That is such an appropriate adjective for how we feel about each other.  From left to right, standing is Bonnie followed by Cary.  Seated on the left is Regina and on the right, yours truly.  Now let’s hear about your needlework friendships.IMG_0246