Great tool!

Many thanks to my friend Kurdy Biggs of Threedles for a lead on this great tool!

Electric scissors are making my life much easier! Cutting canvas is hard work, especially when you have to cut a number of canvases for class kits. Today I cut 21 pieces of canvas in just a few minutes, thanks to these awesome rechargeable scissors.

electric-scissors

They’re cordless, which is great – no fear of cutting the cord. The charge lasts quite a while. And they’re so much easier to use than regular scissors.

Last year I did something to my thumb, not sure what, but it hurt like the dickens and made simple tasks really difficult. I had to cut a canvas while my thumb was sore, and it was excruciatingly painful. My hand is better now, but I do have a tendency to repetitive stress problems. So I’m really grateful for these great scissors. Thanks Kurdy!

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Starting the new year right

The end of one year and the start of a new year is always a time of reflection. Did I meet my goals for the past year? What were my successes, my failures? Did I use my time wisely? Did I improve as a person? There is always room for improvement! And the start of the new year is the time to implement those changes that lead to improvement.

I must confess here. For the past two years I have been struggling with health issues, with no apparent resolution. I’ve visited many doctors and specialists, had many tests, and no one has any ideas as to the problems I’ve been having. The best information I’ve gotten is that it’s not my thyroid. The problems seem to have two primary symptoms, and perhaps are unrelated. The first is I do have nodules on my thyroid. I’ve been assured that they aren’t cancerous, and the nodules are being monitored. But it has affected my ability to sing, which has been a huge part of my life. And, I have a perpetual sore throat. When the symptoms first appeared I thought it was the lingering affects of a cold, but when there was no improvement I had to start looking for other answers.

The other problem is fatigue. It may be related to the first problem, but it may not. A year and a half ago, I walked 4 miles a day then did an hour of Jazzercise. Now, I can barely walk 2 miles, and if I go to the grocery store I’m exhausted by the end of the trip. There seem to be no answers to this problem.

So, how is this pertinent to stitching? The problems are beginning to play on my mental state, making it difficult for me to want to stitch. I have to force myself to keep working, and creativity seems to have fled as well.

As a result of these problems, my goals for the new year are vastly different than previous years. My goal is to get done those things that need to get done – new designs for class proposals, preparing class kits, and encouraging creativity through some specific exercises. I also want to write more in my blog. It may not always be about stitching, but I hope it will be still be interesting.

I have a new understanding and sympathy for the way health affects energy levels. So if any of you need a sympathetic ear, I’m listening.

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Inspiration

thai-wall-art

What inspires you? Have you ever been struck by a piece of art, floor tiles, concrete patterns, wallpaper, carpet? I’m frequently asked what inspires me to design, so I’m sharing this – THIS inspires me to design.

I saw this wall art at the local Thai restaurant. Every time we go in, I can hardly look at the menu for staring at this particular dimensional piece. And of course, the next question is how to translate this to needlework?

I have also recently encountered some intriguing materials:

dmc-cork-and-mesh

From DMC, stitchable cork and mesh.

edmar-threadsShiny rayon threads in several weights from Edmar.

kreinik-copper-meshAnd finally, Kreinik copper mesh.

Now the inspiration needs to turn into perspiration! How to combine all these materials into an intriguing, dimensional needle art?

Stay tuned!

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When plans go awry

Sometimes things our plans don’t materialize in the ways we think. I’ve had just such a plan go off the rails. But in this case, it’s a good thing!

I do a lot of work for various publications. Over the years I’d say I’ve done at least 40 designs intended not for release by DebBee’s Designs, but in other outlets. The reasons are various. Sometimes a publication wants something a little different to include with their other offerings. I’ve done a fair number of designs for hard bound book collections; most of the other designs in the books are cross stitch, and then mine, either canvas work or Hardanger. I participate in the Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue every year for the last 12 years, and now I’m being included in the Halloween issue as well. I’ve done designs for Needlepoint Now and Needlepointers. Sometimes the designs are buy outs – the publication purchases all the rights to the design, and it’s theirs. Sometimes the publication has a limited right, for about 6 months or so, and then I can do other things with it.

I like to keep a hand in these various publications, especially the ones that are mostly cross stitch, to hopefully expose other people to counted canvas work and get them interested. I was recently asked to create a colorful design for a catalogue company, so I got to work on it and designed this:

spectacular-spectrumThis is Spectacular Spectrum. It’s 8″ x 8″, and stitched with mostly floss, a couple of #8 pearl cottons, and a few metallics. I finished stitching it this weekend, then contacted the catalogue company. Alas, their plans have changed, so good news – I have a new design almost ready for release!

Nothing is ever wasted. Sometimes I start a design, and don’t like it, but use elements that I do like elsewhere. Sometimes what I intended for one thing doesn’t work out, and I use it another place. So that’s the case with this design, coming soon to a local needlework shop near you!

I’ll continue working on designs for other publications, and hopefully they’ll work out. But if they don’t, I almost always have another place I can use it!

 

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Starting a new project

Is anything more exciting than starting a new project? And is anything more tedious than mounting the canvas? A little extra preparation to mount the canvas will make for a more pleasant stitching experience, though, so I thought I’d share today how I prepare a canvas for stitching.

A note: I use Evertites stretcher bars, so my process may be a little bitt different, but the principles are still the same.

The first thing I do is to bind the edges of the canvas. This prevents threads snagging on the rough edges of the canvas. I’m fortunate to have an edge binding machine, but I have also taped by hand. I use white 3/4″ wide artists tape, that I buy through Amazon.

Next I assemble my stretcher bars. With Evertites, the name should be on the inside of the bars, with the little screws on the inside of the joints.

mounting-canvas-3aThis gives you room to tighten the screws after the canvas is mounted.

Next, lay the canvas on top of the assembled stretcher bars. I place one tack in the center of each bar:

mounting-canvas-1

Begin in the center even with regular stretcher bars. I’ve seen several people begin mounting by tacking at the corners first, and this doesn’t allow the canvas to be adequately stretched as you tack.

Next, work all four sides at the same time by placing tacks on either side of the center tacks.

mounting-canvas-2

Pull and stretch the canvas as you place the tacks. I work opposite sides, first the top and bottom, then the sides, placing tacks on each side of the center and working toward the corners.

Notice that the tacks are very close together. This allows for an even stretch of the canvas without strain at specific places. I had a framer tell me that this is the best way to place tacks – almost touching, and certainly never more than 1/4″ to 1/2″ apart.

I place tacks almost to the corners for the Evertites. The corners must remain free so the screws can do their job of expanding the canvas until it’s tight. With regular stretcher bars you place tacks at the corners.

Now the Evertites do their magic. I work one corner at a time, turning the screw 5 to 6 times at each corner then moving to the next. If more is needed I come back to it, turning the screws at each corner an equal number of times.

mounting-canvas-4This picture shows the screw extended so it pushes the frame apart. A note: always retract the screws before disassembling the stretcher bars when the project is complete, to prevent damaging the screw assembly.

Now my canvas is all mounted and ready to stitch:

mounting-canvas-5

Why to go to all this trouble? First, it only takes about 20 minutes to get the canvas taped and mounted properly. Second, a tight canvas is easier to stitch; you aren’t pulling the canvas each time you pull the needle through. Third, a tight canvas supports the stitches better, and it’s easier to lay the threads.

I won’t get into stitching in the well or with the canvas on top; that’s strictly a personal preference (I prefer with my canvas on top). So I hope I’ve shared a few tips with you that will make your stitching easier.

 

 

 

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