Thursday, July 23, 2015

Making Waves at Sturbridge ...

... was the name of the stitching retreat from which I have just returned.

The class project was a marvelous needlepoint piece, Making Waves, composed primarily of 27 rows of randomized bargello stitching of varying band widths gradually progressing from white sea foam to deep turquoise sea blue.  There were also randomized eyelets in #8 and 12 perle cotton, beading and a bullion stitched star fish.

The designer, Diane Herrmn, pictured here with the project, drew her design inspiration from the graph of a sine curve.  [Here I will insert a very small apology to Sister Anna St. James for ever doubting that geometry and trigonometry would ever have an impact on my life after 11th grade.]  It was fascinating to follow Diane's design process as she described how she decided to lengthen and lighten the waves as they approached the shore, why she used 65 beads [no more and no less] to lend sparkle to the eyelet sea foam, how she selected the colors and graphed the proportions of light and dark when blending the strands.

I believe no class is truly a learning experience unless I get to practice a new technique or to try a new stitch.  This class met both requirements.  After 40 some years of stitching, I finally learned how to lay my stitches.
I actually got to use the laying tool I bought a decade ago simply because I thought it was lovely.  I will say it makes a difference.  I don't expect I'll become one of those fanatics who lays ever single stitch I take. But I will probably use it for all my satin stitching in future. Using stretcher bars was a new experience as well.  I learned how to mount the piece on the bars.  In the past, I'd always done needlepoint in hand, relying on the stiffness of the canvas to make handling the piece manageable.  I am a convert and will invest in stretcher bars in various sizes in future. Oh, yes, and a small ladylike hammer is on the shopping list as well.  Pressing in all those thumbtacks by hand is painful, to say the least.

And I learned the proper way to make a bullion stitch.  I practiced: got the first one done perfectly and proceeded to mess up the next three to varying degrees.  And then made two more reasomably decent attempts.  But I have seen it done properly, remember the tips and just need to practice some more.

Since this was a Sue Donnelly Stitcher's Hideaway retreat, there were the usual generously stocked gift bags, door prizes and an in house shop.  In other words, it was a very complete stitching experience. Here's a photo of the stitching room.  Some folks are busy stitching, some are socializing and some are off camera in the shop area at the back of the room. The accommodations at The Public House were comfortable, the meals were good and the support staff were attentive and helpful.

Sue's retreats always include an exchange and a show and tell session.  Above are a few photos of the exchange items and of the projects on display for show and tell.  There was a great deal more but my photographic skills are sadly lacking.

And, finally, here's a photo of what I accomplished in class.  I expect I'll make better progress now that I am home and can use my stitching stand.  Not having to balance the stretcher bars between lap and table edge will make for quicker two handed stitching.


Anonymous said...

Lovely stitching! I've done this piece as well, and really enjoyed it.

I have to ask, though...was that the needle you were using to make your bullions? If so get yourself some milliner needles, probably size three, depending on what thread you use for the starfish. Milliners have an eye that is the same size as the shaft, and the wraps slide over it easily. If you were using that needle pictured, its eye is much wider than the shaft. You most likely had a hard time pulling those wraps over the eye. Using the wrong kind of needle is the biggest reason why people struggle with bullions, and the main reason why they might not look good.

And your laying tool is gorgeous!

Carol S.

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

I've been seeing this design in FB, it's lovely.

Looks like you had a great time at the retreat too.

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

Having another closer look at the photos, I love the little mermaid scissor fob!

I have never used a laying tool but I do railroad at least the top left of my stitches. It becomes second nature after a while.

Julie said...

What a fabulous retreat. A great design that was begun by you all, so very effective. I've never used a laying tool.

Dani - tkdchick said...

Wow your laying tool is just gorgeous! No wonder why you bought it, I would of too!

The retreat you went to looks like it was great!

Justine said...

I've never heard of a laying tool! Yours is lovely though, whatever it's for.
I love that seaside piece, how beautiful.

Cynthia said...

Glad to hear you had a good time at the retreat. The piece is beautiful. I wish I could have gone, but unfortunately, it didn't work out this time. Can't wait to see it finished.
Happy stitching and stay well.

Maggee said...

What a great retreat you shared with us! I don't get a laying tool either... and have had a very different of what needlepoint entailed... didn't know there were a variety of stitches! The waves piece is so pretty!! I am sure you will complete it...

Anna van Schurman said...

Lovely piece. At first I was a little confused by the title since Sturbridge is a ways from the ocean! (Then I worried that you were causing trouble.) Glad you enjoyed the retreat!