Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gonna Take a "Sentimental Journey"

That's right. Laura Perin is taking us all on a Sentimental Journey with her newest design in the American Quilt Collection.

What a beauty! The Blue colorway is based on Caron Collection Watercolours Elderberry, one of our favorites, and is stitched on Aquamarina canvas. Look at the threads:

Does it get any better than this? Well, some might think so when they look at the other two colorways Laura has provided. Here's Pink:

And then there's also Red:

It's hard to choose, isn't it? We're offering all three colorways as kits as well as just the chart for those who want to pick out their own colors. So hurry on over to check them out along with the rest of the new things you might have missed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Goodies From the Baltimore Market

We spent several hours prowling the floors of the Embassy Suites Hotel near Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Saturday, on a hunt for the latest treasures to be had for canvaswork fans. This is a quick-and-dirty report, with pictures and links. Feast your eyes! (Links are for kits, unless we're currently offering just the chart. Of course, we can kit up any chart you'd like. Just e-mail us to let us know.)

First, from DebBee's Designs, we came away with several exciting new designs as well as some oldies but goodies that we for some reason didn't already have. Horrors!

Diamond Delight 9: What a beauty! The colors are absolutely gorgeous. Debbie used DMC Memory Thread to make those spirals in the background, a great effect.

Glitz & Glamour Opal: Very pretty! The colors are beautiful, and we love the stitches Debbie used.

Rice Pudding: Something for the novice stitcher. The whole design is done in variations on the Rice Stitch, using only Sullivans #5 pearl cotton.

We also picked up Diamond Delight III, done in lovely autumnal colors, and Autumn Fantasy (being shipped). Can you tell we were in the mood for fall? Could it be that we're tired of the awful heat of the summer, anticipating the cooler temperatures coming in a couple of months?

Brenda Kocher was there for her very first TNNA show. How delightful to finally see her designs in real life! The pictures don't do them justice, but we're working on getting better pictures from her in the near future.

Log Cabin Christmas: This is a brand-new design, just the right size to fit into a boxtop.

Celebration: An oldie but goodie, Brenda's created four new colorways for this design! We got to see samples of a couple of them.

We also picked up Fancywork and Jewels Within and Without.

Nancy Buhl of From Nancy's Needle wasn't there, but her distributor brought her two newest designs, which we had to snap up, of course.

Cardinal Caper: For all you cardinal lovers out there, this is quite nice in autumn colors.

Woodland Star: Absolutely stunning! She uses Caron Collection Watercolours in Rainforest, Chianti, and Seaweed, along with DMC #5 Perle Coton and a bit of sparkle.

Last, but certainly not least, we stopped by to see Kathy Rees of Needle Delights. We picked up two brand-new designs and are awaiting shipment of three new Color Delights creations as soon as they're officially released in the next few months.

Lollipops: A really clever, colorful design. Each lollipop is a different stitch motif!

Color Delights - Plum: The latest in this quick-stitch series, and the colors are beautiful.

Phew! I think I got everything in there.

Wait! One more thing! We recently received Carolyn Mitchell's latest bargello dream design, Florentine Dreams, which is another stunning accomplishment from her. She used a lot of silks, for which she provided DMC cotton floss equivalent. We're using the cottons for our kits, but let us know if you'd rather have the silk.

Now, really, that's it. At least for today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

With Six You Get Eggroll!

Or in this case, options. Kurdy Biggs has done it again. Her latest design, "A Different View," is loaded with options for you to make the design your own.

This is a truly dynamic design. Kurdy has provided needlepoint charts for six octagons, which can be combined as you wish to create the finished project shown above. You can stitch it just as Kurdy's stitched her model, or you can mix it up with your own choice of four of the six charts. The five small squares can also be switched to suit your fancy. Of course, if you just happen to like the way Kurdy did it, there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing it her way.

She's also provided two other colorways in addition to Black (shown above). They are Golden Glow:

and Koral Kiss:

These are both stitched on hand-dyed canvas from Zweigart. Stunning!

We're offering this innovative design as both the chart and the Black kit. The other two kits will be available on demand. While you're drooling over this fabulous new design, check out the Tools and Accessories we offer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trick or Treat! Jeff Kulick Serves Up His Take on Halloween

Scarlet Thread is excited to introduce another new designer to you: Jeff Kulick. We've been working with him for several months to bring his first chart to you, "Halloween Abstract." Recently, Jeff sat down and answered a barrage of questions we lobbed his way. I think you'll find his take on needlepoint refreshing and inspiring.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, e.g., what region of the US do you live in, what do you do, anything you'd like to share.

I grew up in the Midwest, but I've lived in the Washington, DC, area for more than 30 years. I teach at George Mason University, and I work with a number of publishers reviewing content of cases and books and preparing support materials for textbooks. I'm married with two grown sons and one granddaughter.

When did you start stitching, and what got you interested in it?

I had worked as a carpenter during and right after college, and I've enjoyed making things. I was hooking rugs and my wife was doing needlepoint. I worked with her on a piece and then started working on my own. That was several decades ago.

It's strange for someone who works in education, but I've never taken a class. I collect and read books and articles. I've got probably a couple dozen stitch books or more. When I need a break from the stitching I am doing, I browse through these to come up with new ideas or approaches.

It's also important to talk to other stitchers and the people in the needlepoint supply stores. I've also had the great good fortune to meet and become friends with a number of other designers. And talk to the finishers. Their advice is invaluable.

What do you like most about charted needlepoint? Do you do any other type of needlework?

I like seeing designs emerge, and I customize almost every piece I do — sometimes changing stitches and threads, almost always changing colors. I do work on painted canvasses, even finishing some.

I have tried crossstitch, blackwork, and others, but they don't interest me in the same way.

I start more charts and designs than I finish. I keep looking for new ideas and things to learn. Sometimes I abandon pieces when I think I've learned what I can. I can only recall one piece I was so angry at the poor quality of the instructions and design that I threw it away in disgust.

What was the first piece you designed, and what was your inspiration or motivation?

I began designing pieces soon after I began stitching. I started experimenting with stitches and colors, which I continue doing today.

Today, I often start with a simple design idea, an image, threads, or even a stitch. I also create designs to try new techniques.

What keeps you designing?

I'm also a really good cook. Almost twenty years ago, I realized in mid-March that I had not repeated a menu that year, and that began a challenge that continues today. We don't have the same menu more than once a year. We might have several different kinds of pizza, but not the same one in any given year. It's the same idea in designing and stitching. I recently did four color variations of the same design. It was another experiment and did win an award at Woodlawn, but I'm not doing that again.

If I start running out of ideas, I can always start finishing some of the projects I've started.

You've submitted a lot of finished pieces to needlework exhibitions, and won a number of ribbons, close to 50. How do you see such shows influencing or supporting the needle arts?

I was lucky in terms of exhibitions. The first piece I ever entered won a blue ribbon at Woodlawn, and I was hooked.

Not all the pieces I design or stitch are "competitive." Things that I submit are at a high level of stitching quality and special design. I think these competitions keep raising the bar. I have not gotten an award for each piece I have submitted.

The exhibitions show talent and trends. I learn about new designers and new techniques. I don't copy ideas, but I look at the ways other stitchers are handling challenges.

I don't think every piece should be entered, but I think every stitcher should accept the challenge of creating a piece that should be submitted. Stitching is very personal, and creating an exhibition piece is about stitching at the highest level one can.

You did some experimenting with more than just fiber in one of the designs you entered in the Woodlawn Needlework Exposition this year. Please talk a little about this piece, which we found fascinating.

Ah, that piece. Canvaswork is constrained by the up and down threads. I've played with a lot of designs to push that. One of my pieces that won a lot of recognition included a five-sided figure. That was a real challenge. Circles are a challenge. Curves are a challenge.

The next logical step for me was to look at the canvas ground and change it. I found the idea in New Canvaswork: Creative techniques in needlepoint, by Jill Carter. I found some specialty papers at my local art supply store and online. I then started pulling threads and thinking about specific design ideas. I finally selected a paper with grey, hair-like threads and a black and grey colorway. The design challenge was to find threads and shapes that looked complete but were open to show the paper.

The paper, by the way, was fused to 14-count canvas using iron-on fusing material.

I have been working on designs where some of the canvas shows through. I've also been thinking about designs that go beyond conventional threads.

It's a matter of playing with all these ideas until a good, strong design emerges. Just because you can do some things in needlework doesn't mean you should. It's got to have a unifying idea that pulls everything together. Details are wonderful, but they must support the overall design.

Do you see any particular challenges facing needleworkers today?

You mean besides finding the time to stitch and the money to finish them well?

Here's one: Supporting your needlepoint stores — online and physical stores. Both have roles to play.

I also think it is important to experiment. Right now there are problems with the supply of some wool threads. Wool has good points, but it's not the only thread to use.

What do you do with your needlework once it's been finished?

That depends. Some are framed, others end up as hangings, stockings, or pillows. Most of my completed pieces are simply put into a portfolio or stack. I don't have enough wall space — or the desire — to display all the pieces I've finished. I rotate pieces.

What are you working on now? Do you find yourself stitching other people's designs less often and spending more time doing your own thing?

I've got about ten active projects — some original. I find I'm attracted to experimenting with bargello techniques as a starting point. I also am extending the idea of "Halloween Abstract" to create abstracts for other holidays.

In general, I find myself going back to designs, ideas, and techniques from 20 or 30 years ago and experimenting with new threads and ideas.

And finally, what we're all dying to know: What's it like frequently to be the only guy in the room?

As part of the fraternity of male stitchers and designers, I'm sworn to secrecy.

"Halloween Abstract" is just the first of Jeff's designs that we'll be charting and distributing. So you'll want to keep an eye out for them in the next few months. Meanwhile, click on over to pick up the chart or the kit. And while you're at it, browse our new items.