Dec 25, 2011

Associated Talents Offers Free Stitch Guides

Associated Talents has started putting free stitch guides on their website.  Not only is this good news for owners of these canvases, any stitcher who wants to learn Don Lynch's basketweave beading technique can do so just from looking at the PDF stitch guide for any piece that uses this technique, such as the Plaid-Pumpkins-Dots Candy Corn ornament.

Don is busy writing up a description of his basketweave beading technique but don't expect that to be available until after the January 2012 TNNA show.  There is just too much for Don to do to get ready for that right now!

Dec 21, 2011

Hannukah Stitch Guides

Kreinik has posted stitch guides for several fun Hannukah items (menorahs and dreidels) on their website.  You'll have to pick up the Stitch-a-Pens or the painted canvases from either Kreinik or Gone Stitching, but the instructions and stitch guides are available free of charge here.  The instructions are downloadable PDF files, so you can download and print them out to stitch at your convenience.  Happy Hannukah!

By the way, here is the Gone Stitching website.  It's full of Jewish themed canvases in case you are looking for something special.  Pay special attention to the Stitch Guides section in the header bar.  Clicking on it will take you to painted canvases that come with their own stitch guide.

Dec 1, 2011

Amy Bunger's Stitch Guide Catalogue

After a lot of work, Amy Bunger's staff has compiled a listing of stitch guides she has created over the years and offer them for sale to anyone who buys the canvas and/or the thread kit from Amy.  The announcement and all the details are in Amy's November 2011 newsletter.

Amy has also finished a new guide for another of the small Labors of Love birds.  This time it's a flamingo.  These small canvases and cheap guides are a great introduction to Amy's guides at a good price.  Amy is now turning her attention to Kirk and Hamilton's small Halloween poison bottles to add to her collection of small canvases with cheap guides.  It's a great way to treat yourself with a bit of Amy at a reasonable price.

Besides all of the above, Robin King's stitch guides have been broken out into a separate page on the Amy Bunger website.  Now fans of Robin's work can go straight there to see if she's worked on that canvas they are lusting after.

Here's the link to Amy's most recent stitch guides.  The bulk of her work will be in the catalogue, however.  Amy's staff will have the newest stitch guides here but older guides will be in the catalogue which you can access from this page.

Note that I have never been able to get the individual sections to open with photos.  That space is always blank.  It's a quirk of my computer setup probably.  I always go straight to the host site to see the catalogue.  If you are having the same problem, go here instead.  You will have to hunt a little to find each section as they are in no particular order, but at least you can see the thumbnail photos so you know that the canvas you have (or want) is the one Amy did a guide for.  The controls are at the top of the page once you open a section.

A few more details about how this will all work are in my earlier article on Amy's catalogue.

A Range of Stitch Guides from Needlenook of La Jolla

As one of the larger online shops, Needlenook of La Jolla has a nice search function.  You can go to their main catalogue, then put "stitch guide" in the Search tab on the right to see what canvases with stitch guides they have available.  Some stitch guides are extra, some are included with the canvas at no extra charge.  Read each listing you are interested in with care to discover which category the guide you want is in.

The shop also has a custom stitch guide service for canvases purchased from the shop.  Costs range from $35-$125 depending on the size and complexity of the design.  I don't know who does the guides but David McCaskill manages the store and does lovely guides.

Nov 22, 2011

ABS Designs with Stitch Guides

Anne Stradal's lovely designs are very simply drawn and painted, but brought to life by the stitch choices she makes.  She stitches a lot of models for her pieces--let me tell you, a display of forty or so little lighthouse ornaments will knock you socks off!--but until now most of her pieces didn't have stitch guides to let a stitcher reproduce them exactly as Anne stitched them.

The operative words are "until now."  For the set of four gentlemen's outfits which she calls Savile Row, Anne is having stitch guides created by Sue Dulle.  Hurrah!  You can see two of the designs at the link below.  There's an Irish country gentleman (Liam) in an Argyle sweater and wool scarf, and Reggie the tennis pro dressed to play in a warm up jacket.

The third is the city gentleman Oliver in a Fair Isle vest, and the fourth is Cecil the dandy.

When they are all finished and on her website I'll update this article with a photo of all four.  Until then, here's the site for general browsing fun.

Nov 3, 2011

Robin King's Creepy Creatures Set Guides: A Review of Raleigh, NC has been stitching Robin King's Creeps which are a set of Halloween character ornaments shaped like candy corn.  The shop blog posted an article after they finished each character and then posted a review of the whole experience once they finished.  Here's the review.

The individual articles have tips for stitching each character.  If you are stitching these also, check out the article on each character.
Fraidy Cat-



Mehitabel (witch)-

Spider Queen-


Oct 31, 2011

Halloween Parade

Vicky DeAngelis shows off the Halloween Parade House with all the trick or treaters on her blog in honor of today.  Vicky did the stitch guide for the set which is designed by Needle Deeva.  The charming group of kids and the house can be done separately or as a set.

The Needle Deeva website has even better photos of each and every little kid and decorated house they are all visiting.  Ask your shop to order if you are interested.

Oct 8, 2011

Cupcake, Anyone?

The Needle Deeva website has been updated with a photo that shows finished models for her Halloween cupcake series, which come with a stitch guide from Cynthia Thomas so you too can "bake" a perfect batch.  The round canvases are based on the Halloween Creepy Characters series, so if you find candy corn-shaped ornaments not to your liking, you have options.

This link shows the original Creeps.  These come with a stitch guide by Robin King.  Sort of like choosing between chocolate cupcakes or red velvet ones, isn't it?  There are choices but I love both!

Sep 26, 2011

Stitch Guided By Sheena

Sheena's updated her blog to list her available stitch guides, which are available by emailing her directly or calling Wool and Willow Needlepoint, her home shop.  She specializes in Cleveland landmark canvases but will work with you on any canvas you need a road map for.  All the contact information is at the link below.  Clicking on Home will take you to her blog and clicking on Stitches will take you to interesting stitches she'd graphed for you to use.

Sep 24, 2011

Welcome to Fall

Robin King celebrates the Fall Equinox this week with a little article about her Debbie Mumm Harvest Fairy stitch guide. You can read all about the canvas and finishing and learn just how to order the canvas and stitch guide from Melissa Shirley and Robin herself by clicking here.

Happy Harvest, everyone!

Sep 23, 2011

My Miko Stitch Guide Is Now Available

Miko Stitch Guide Now Available
The second stitch guide in a series of three Fash Inserts** from Leigh Designs I'm stitching is available from me now.  This piece is called Miko and I had great fun stitching her.  Miko was designed to be inserted in the Lee nylon tote bag (see photo below),

but she's willing to be framed or made into a standup paperweight for your desk if you prefer.  Covered in beads and sequins and with a beaded background, she's quite a charmer.  Your shop can order the canvas and the stitch guide from Leigh Designs for you or you can add the stitch guide alone to your collection of reference materials by contacting me at sgfromchnp at gmaildotcom.

**Smilin' Jack the pumpkin and the Tea House are the others in the series I'm doing for Leigh Designs.  Smilin' Jack is finished and the stitch guide for him is now available. You can see all the Fash Inserts available from Leigh at the LD website.

Sep 9, 2011

Julia's Needleworks Has Guides

Julia represents a great many wonderful painted canvas designers (Peter Ashe, AGA, JB Designs, JHL Designs, etc.) and has free guides for a few of these canvases posted on the Julia's Needleworks website.  Browse here and see if your Julia piece has a free guide available.

Sep 7, 2011

The Cat's Out of the Bag...

September/October 2011 Issue of Needlepoint Now
...and the magazines are in the mail.  My complimentary copies of the September/October 2011 issue of Needlepoint Now arrived yesterday and guess what's inside?

Yes, Temple of 1000 Cranes is one of the featured canvases!  My stitch guide for this piece is included so you can stitch this beautiful Leigh Designs fantasy pagoda. Or if you are stitching one of the other seven in the set, crib ideas from my pagoda for yours.  Haven't seen these yet?  Here's the link to Leigh's website.

I still sell the full guide (my version is 22 pages while NP Now managed to squeeze everything into 4 since we omitted a lot of photos and the essay on light coverage stitching) but most folks will want to pick up a copy of the magazine since that will be cheaper than buying the guide.  You will want a copy of this issue anyway since there are guides by Robin King (a darling owl ornament for Halloween), a charted patriotic apple by Susan Chaleff, Amy Wolfson (whom you know as AmyBear) charts her first wonderful design--Dan'l Webster frog, Shirley White charts an elegant Christmas ball, Debroah Forney does a geometric pattern based on Chinese ethnic patterns, Debbie Stiehler does a Chinese coin purse that has a fabulous background pattern perfect for Asian-themed pieces, and the legendary Susan Portra does a guide for the cover canvas.  Oh, and Laura Perin contributes the first step in a small three part pattern that is old gold and purple with touches of other harvest colors.  Then there are the regular articles on new products, how to use common stitches in unusual ways and how to use them to build a complex design, and of course The Spinister Stitcher makes an appearance.  It's just a wonderful issue and I am thrilled to be included.

I've kept this secret since last January.  How is that possible?!


Aug 31, 2011

Amy Bunger Opens Her Stitch Guide Library

Amy's just announced that she is soon going to release 8-10 years' worth of custom stitch guides she's written for purchase.  The details are in Amy's September 2011 newsletter.

Amy's done a lot of guides over the years and many canvases may be no longer available, but since you might have one she wrote a guide for hidden away, waiting for just this opportunity, make sure you check out the lists (which will be PDF files you download from her website that are updated periodically) when Amy makes them available.  The process will be for customers to email Amy asking about a guide in case it uses a lot of threads which are no longer available.  She'll have to update the guide in that case and might even have to borrow your canvas to do this.  The guides will be available for purchase with the purchase of the canvas or the thread kit, or both, just like the new custom guides currently listed on Amy's website (link below).

Aug 26, 2011

ABS Designs Stitch Guide

The Ring Bearer Pillow
Anne Stradal has just announced a lace ring bearer's pillow she showed off in her column in the July/August 2011 issue of Needlepoint Now has a stitch guide by Sue Dulle available.  The gorgeous "lace" border is based on Judy Harper's lace patterns and is just fabulous, whether you have a wedding in your future or not.

Aug 24, 2011

Why You Should Collect Stitch Guides

The Front Range Stitcher's using a stitch guide by Tony Minieri she found in the July/August 2011 Needlepoint Now to stitch a very similar Mindy canvas.

I collect stitch guides just for this reason--to use the ideas on similar canvases. Not many of us will be lucky enough to find a guide for a canvas very much like our own, but we all can use great backgrounds, hair stitches, a really cool clothing idea, etc. on our own designs.  Stitch guides are done by folks with a lot of experience.  Why not tap into that expertise by collecting guides from folks whose work you admire?

Aug 19, 2011

PFOS' New Stitch Guide

Pocket Full of Stitches has just posted photos of the newest finished canvas done from one of their guides.  The elephant canvas is from Maggie and it's wonderful!

Aug 15, 2011

Smilin' Jack Stitch Guide Available

Smilin' Jack
I've finished the first of three Fash Insert canvases from Leigh Design and a stitch guide is now available.  Smilin' Jack is his name and charm is his game!

Smilin' Jack in the Lee Nylon Tote

The Fash Insert line is a series of 8 1/2 by 4 inch canvases on 18 count meant to be used in Lee's nylon totes. But of course you can finish these canvases any way you like.

Leigh specifically asked for simple but elegant stitch guides, so all three of the Fash Insert guides I plan will be significantly shorter and cheaper than my usual stitch guide.  To make Smilin' Jack elegant I used lots of beads and silks and metallic threads.  He's a pretty quick stitch, too, and is meant to be a seasonal touch for your purse to be switched out for a new design once Christmas is here or spring time makes you want something more pastel and feminine.

Email me at sgfromchnp at gmail dot com to order a Smilin' Jack guide.  If you are a shop, wholesale pricing is available.

Aug 14, 2011

Aristeia Stitch Guide Tidbit

Several years before the Chilly Hollow Stitch Guides Blog was born, I did a quick review of the stitch guides that Wendy Harwood of Aristeia did.  Here's the link. There's a random photo of a page from one of Wendy's guide in the slide snow.

Aug 2, 2011

Amy Bunger Guides on the Cheap

Stitch guides from Amy Bunger are pretty expensive, but she's started doing short guides that are only $15 with the purchase of either the canvas or the thread kit (or both) for the double-sided clip on bird canvases from Labors of Love.  The bird canvases themselves cost between $60-75, depending on how large they are and whether they come with a Tony Minieri stitch guide.  (Amy's working on some that don't already have a Tony guide so there's no overlap, sadly.  Having both Tony and Amy working the same bird would be a great treat and quite an education! )  Here's Amy's announcement.  She's done the Baltimore Oriole already and is starting on the peacock.

Here is the eagle.

If you want to see the entire flock of canvases, visit the Labors of Love website.

Aug 1, 2011

Reviewing Robin King's Stitch Guides

Robin King kindly sent me a PDF version of her stitch guide for Kelly Clark's Katt Z. Witch canvas from Kelly's Halloweenies series for review.  This little Halloween witch is 7 3/4 inches high by 5 3/4 inches wide on 18 count canvas.  I've seen the bare canvas in person as well as a hard copy of the stitch guide and I must say, Robin's stitched details add a lot to the teenaged witch's personality.  The stitch guide is printed on white paper and is inside a large plastic bag to keep it pristine. The shop I saw it at sells both the canvas and the guide for one price, but your local shop may sell them separately.

The guide is twelve pages long.  The cover page has a large full color picture of the finished model and the last page lists all the threads and other supplies needed to follow Robin's instructions grouped by manufacturer.  This makes it easy to buy all the threads you don't have or to have the canvas kitted up for you by your local shop.

Of the remaining ten pages, three are crammed full of stitch diagrams which are large and easy to read.  Not all the diagrams are numbered, however, so some stitches such as crescents will have to be looked up in another stitch book if you don't already know the thread sequence needed to create them.  There are good diagrams for unusual techniques such as picots and needle weaving but Robin also directs stitchers to the "How You Do That?" technique DVD #7 called "Techniques of Needleweaving" from Amy Bunger/Kelly Clark for more information about how to weave sections of your canvas.  Could an experienced stitcher do needleweaving without buying the DVD?  Sure, unless you happen to be one of the folks who learns from watching others.  Then you will certainly want the DVD but it will be helpful for anyone who wants to try this on other projects.

The instructions themselves are clear and concise.  They cover 6 1/2 pages and would have been shorter except that Robin includes plenty of close-up photos of each section to help you work it properly. (I counted 27 small close-ups.) The last page of instructions has a complete list of stitches used and a reference section of helpful books and DVDs, most of which are by Amy Bunger.  (Robin works for Amy and is part of the production team that produces Amy's DVDs.)

Each section of the guide tells you what to do where and with what thread.  This is important because 64 different threads, silk ribbon, memory wire, 22 gauge wire, invisible thread, three colors of beads plus two findings are needed to exactly copy Robin's stitching.  The instructions will enable you to replicate the wonderful portrait Kelly Clark created and Robin King brought to life, however.

If all Robin's guides are this quality, they will be wonderful additions to your stitching library, whether you actually stitch the canvas they describe or not.

For more information about the stitch guides currently available from Robin King, read yesterday's posting on her guides.

Jul 31, 2011

A Guide to Robin King's Stitch Guides

Besides working on stitch guides for Amy Bunger, Robin King teaches at Amy's shop and also has started branching out to do stitch guides for other designers' canvases.  You may also know that Robin works behind the scenes producing Amy Bunger's How You Do That? series on DVDs.  She also designs and maintains websites in her spare time!  Recently Robin updated the Needlepoint Study Hall blog with a list of her available commerical and custom stitch guides by designer.  This is a work in progress and isn't complete yet but it worth bookmarking and keeping an eye on.

Robin wears both her webmaster and her stitch guide writer hats for Needle Deeva.  She's created the famous Creepy Creatures monthly club for Needle Deeva that will be in the shops starting this fall and is teaching a new Creep that I call Bones that isn't part of the club at Ruth Schmuff's shop this fall.  She will also teach one of the original Creeps at the TNNA show in August to shop owners.

Here's a shop review of the Creepy Creatures set.

Here's the Needle Deeva website, with a listing of all the stitch guides available from folks like Robin, Debbie Bowers, Vicky DeAngelis, and Cynthia Thomas.  Remember, Robin didn't just write some of the guides--she also created this part of the Needle Deeva's website.  Talented lady!

You can get the Kelly Clark Katt Z. Witch canvas with Robin's stitch guide included from the Amy Bunger website if your local shop doesn't have it.  I saw this canvas and Robin's guide at Waste Knot recently.  You won't believe the wonderful touches Robin adds to the canvas to make it even better than the original.  But that's what stitch guides are for.  They make for a fabulous collaboration between the canvas designer, the stitch guide writer and the stitcher!

If you are a fan of Robin's guides, keep a careful eye on Amy Bunger's website.  There's a section for custom stitch guides there that is updated periodically.  There you'll find many of the guides by Robin (and Amy, too).  They can only be purchased if you buy either the canvas or the thread kit from Amy's shop.  Details and clickable thumbnails of the custom guide canvases below.

Robin's finished Debbie Mumm's Harvest Fairy.  This canvas is distributed by Melissa Shirley.  Robin will be one of the featured stitch guide writers on Melissa's website once the new stitch guide writer Hall of Fame is finished.

You can see the Harvest Fairy and the Zecca Bird and Worm canvases Robin created guides for finished in the December 2010 e-newsletter from Amy Bunger's shop.

Melissa Shirley has added a profile of Robin to her website as well as a list of all the guides Robin has written for MSD canvases.

Cynthia Thomas Stitch Guides UPDATED AGAIN

Cynthia Thomas writes a great many stitch guides for Melissa Shirley designs.  Search on Melissa Shirley to read about them here in an earlier article.  There is a link about a new stitch guide series for cute old fashioned Halloween pails from EyeCandy Needleart here.

Melissa Shirley's website has a profile for Cynthia.

Cynthia has stitched the seasonal tree ornament set by Rebecca Wood.  A slide show on the Rebecca Wood home page shows these off beautifully!  (I don't know if this is still available as this profile was written in 2011 and websites change.)

By the way, Cynthia has a blog  You can follow the adventures of The Hill Country Stitcher here but Cynthia's not maintaining the blog any more.  Still, it's a good place to see some her older models.

Her first book is out, too.  You can get a glimpse of the techniques covered in Noses, Roses and other Fun Stuff here.

UPDATE:  Cynthia is starting to post photos of all her stitch guide models on her Facebook page.  It will take a while for her to post all her guides as she is asking the designers for permission to use their photos, but you can always message Cynthia and ask if she has a guide for the canvas you are interested in.

Jul 24, 2011

Melissa Shirley Stitch Guides

Please note this article was written in 2011.  For the latest information on guides for Melissa Shirley's designs (and those of artists she represents), check her website.

Melissa Shirley makes it easy to see if a stitch guide is available for her canvases by listing them all on her website.  There is a brand new section for guides from shops, as well as a brief bio of many of the folks who write stitch guides for Melissa Shirley Designs. (To read the bios, click on the thumbnail photos, not the name under them.)  If you have a Facebook account, Melissa often adds new guide photos to her Melissa Shirley Designs FB page before they make it to her website.

Melissa Shirley also has photo albums for her stitch guides on her Melissa Shirley Designs Facebook page.

Please note that there are free stitch guides for her Shimmery Snowy Angel and the Yellow Apple Purse on this page.

Melissa Shirley herself explains how she stitched her Brown Tiger Butterfly purse (1363-A for 18 count and 1363-2A for 13 count) on my blog.  Here's the direct link.

Melissa Shirley guides are available from the following stitch guide writers:
Amy Bunger
Carolyn Hedge Baird
Beverly Churchfield (Aristeia)

Wendy Harwood (Aristeia)

Gina Liuzzi (A Stitch in Time)
Tony Minieri and Cynthia Thomas
Janet Perry and Holly McGuinnes
    (Napa Needlepoint and Golden Touch Crafts)
Nancy Reeves (Old World Designs)*
     *Two of Nancy Reeves' guides are on DVD, not printed out in hardcover.
Needle Orts Inc. (Debbie Bowers and Dennis Masellis)
River Silks
Ruth Schmuff
Lynne Segill (Wellesley Needlepoint)
Laurie Weldon (Chandail) - Pink Ribbon Candy
Terry Christopher (2 the Point Needlepoint)

Laura Taylor (Aristeia)

Cynthia Thomas (Needle Artisan)

Many of the stitch guide writers or shops listed above have websites. I'll write separate articles about each as time permits.

Needle Orts (owned by Debbie Bowers and visited often by Dennis Masellis) is in Florida.  Here's the website.

Jul 19, 2011

Announcing House of Koi Stitch Guide

I have finished a custom stitch guide for House of Koi (Leigh Designs) and am posting it here for sale per the agreement with the gentleman who originally requested the guide.  He asked for something subtle and elegant, that would draw the viewer in to see more and more detail as they looked.  I hope I met his expectations!  It's a wonderful piece, especially the water and the gold trim on the building.  If you are interested in this stitch guide, email me at  Wholesale pricing is available for shops of course.

This is one of a series of fantasy pagodas by Leigh Designs.  I also have done a stitch guide for Temple of 1000 Cranes. You can see the entire series on the Leigh Designs website.  All are magnificent and beautiful and dream-like, aren't they?

Jun 17, 2011

Witch Hats with Stitch Guide by Kelly Clark

Kelly Clark Witch Hats
Folks love Halloween and they love Kelly Clark's designs, so naturally when Kelly designed witch hats for the June 2011 TNNA show, people got excited.  Here are the bare naked canvases on display in Kelly's show booth (very last photo).  Click to enlarge it.

The hats seem to be made up of two pieces--a triangular hat top and a semi-circular brim. This will make finishing and display easier.  I'm not sure about the size but they look too large to be ornaments.

Nimble Needle (Atlanta, GA) says that there is a spiral-bound stitch guide book for all six witch hats.  The photo that illustrates this article is from their newsletter.  I'm sure they are going to get it in stock.  Here is their website in case you don't have a local shop that can order the stitch guide and a canvas for you.

Needle Works in Austin has another photo of the Kelly Clark witch hats on their shop blog.  Of course they can order for you, too.  (second link)

Many thanks to both shops for keeping us informed!

Apr 30, 2011

Terry Christopher (2 The Point Needlepoint)

2 the Point's Terry Christopher has quite a few wonderful Melissa Shirley stitch guides available.  Melissa posted photos of some on Facebook today.

You can read a bit about Terry's approach to stitch guides on the 2 the Point canvas clubs page.  Click on the links to see her work.

UPDATE:  Here is Terry's guide for this Maggie bird and flower canvas.

Apr 11, 2011

Needlenook Does Stitch Guides

Needlenook of La Jolla (California) has updated their website with a new look.  Now there is a reference to custom stitch guides and a link to a sample page of what you can expect.  Pricing is available "upon request."

Mar 27, 2011

Barbara Elmore on Stitch Guides

Here is a charming essay on stitch guides and their writers by the incredibly talented Barbara Elmore.  The modern guides I've seen written by Beverly Churchfield and Wendy Harwood continue this tradition of hand drawn charts and notes, and the books by Carolyn Hedge Baird all have mostly hand written text and drawings to illustrate her points.

Mar 21, 2011

Why Buy a Stitch Guide?

This morning I stumbled across an interesting article on the Ridgewood shop blog that talks about a painted canvas embellishment class Jan took at the ANG Seminar.  This class was team taught by Suzanne Howren, Tony Minieri, Beth Robertson and Meredith Willett.  Jan came home with a stitch guide she developed under their tutelage but she wasn't happy with the sky so she posted a question on the ANG email list asking for ideas.  You can follow the link Elaine put in her article if you want to see the piece and Jan's thoughts on it.

The reason I mention this (besides it's being a quite interesting discussion) is that I wanted to point out there are many reasons for buying a stitch guide.  Most people buy one because they don't know how to stitch a painted canvas they bought except for tent stitches.  That isn't something everyone wants to do these days, so a stitch guide is very helpful.

Other folks use a stitch guide as a jumping off point.  With a guide, you don't have to make every decision yourself.  Many folks want all the decisions made for them so they can just sit and stitch in a relaxed manner, but others take the guide as a general map and substitute threads and stitches for spots where they have ideas of their own they think will work better.  That is what Jan ended up doing and in my experience, many folks have very decided ideas about how they want to stitch a piece--they just have a problem area they are unsure of or they need help figuring out how to execute their plan.

The third reason for buying a stitch guide is to learn.  Each stitch guide writer has an individual style that probably is different than your own.   I love reading stitch guides to analyze them to learn how a master approaches a certain canvas.  I keep them and re-read them periodically, using the stitches diagrammed inside in other similar places, and just for the joy of watching a really good stitcher at work.

Whatever your reason for adding a stitch guide to your collection, I hope you have great fun stitching your piece with a stitch guide leading the way.

Mar 16, 2011

Art Needlepoint's "Stitch Guide"

Art Needlepoint's blog just mentioned what they call a stitch guide, emailed free to anyone who has bought from them in the last year.  It appears to be a collection of twenty-two diagrammed stitches along with hints on where to use them.  It is NOT what we generally refer to as a stitch guide, which is usually what a road map plan for a specific canvas is called by modern needlepointers.

Please note that Art Needlepoint sells glicee printed canvases (and some hand painted ones--see Doreen's Comment below) that reproduce various paintings.  Their work is not stitch painted so if you are not comfortable with canvases where you have to figure out what color goes where, you should avoid their designs.

Mar 8, 2011

Tapestry Fair Stitch Guides on Website UPDATED

Partridge and Pear Stitch Guide
Hurrah!  Tapestry Fair has reorganized their stitch guides section of their website to include guides for their canvases from many sources.  Sometimes there are multiple guides available for the same piece so you can pick the style closest to your own.  Here's the link.

Here is what Peggi says about the guides on her blog.

By the way, Ruth Schmuff just finished the stitch guide for Tapestry Fair's Pharaoh Dog.  I am not sure this is up on the Tapestry Fair site yet so here is the link to Ruth's description of the guide.  Follow the links to Ruth's shop to pick up the guide or to see her companion piece, Bastet the Cat.

Feb 27, 2011

How to Write a Stitch Guide (Robin King)

Writing on the Needlepoint Study Hall blog, Robin King tells us a bit about how she writes a stitch guide.  It's fun for other stitch guide writers to see how a peer approaches the task of documenting their road map to a canvas.

Feb 16, 2011

Review: Vintage Pears Stitch Guide

Beverly Churchfield's Vintage Pears Stitch Guide
Through the kindness of a friend, I've borrowed a copy of Beverly Churchfield's stitch guide for the Vintage Pears canvas (design by Melissa Shirley on either 13 or 18 count) to review for you.  Please note that the stitch guide doesn't specify whether it is for the 18 count or the 13 count version of the design but I understand the guide is for the 13 count canvas only.

This is a comb-bound booklet, with clear plastic protector sheets on the front and back sides.  There is a color photo of the finished canvas on heavy paper inside the front plastic protector sheet.  Inside the booklet is a list of the necessary threads and beads on one page, followed by a black and white copy of the canvas with the pears numbered for reference purposes, and ten pages of instructions with hand drawn charts for the stitches that go on each pear or in the background.  There is space at the top of each instruction page for you to make notes.

A peak inside....
This is a straightforward and bare bones guide without any tips on beading (there are a lot of beads on this piece),  information about the stitch path you should take,  or any tips on securing threads on this light coverage design, all of which makes it unsuitable for a beginner.  There isn't much explanatory text at all.  The photo above of a page chosen at random, is pretty typical.

The stitches are both unusual and lovely, and the finished piece is gorgeous.   The hand drawn diagrams are clear but the stitches are not always numbered.  It is up to the stitcher to figure out how best to execute the recommended stitches.  This guide sells for $20-25 depending on where you purchase it.

I would certainly buy one of Beverly's guides for a canvas I wanted to stitch but I am not a beginner.  If you are, I can only recommend this guide if you are very determined and have access to a good shop that can help you understand what you should do.

Beverly Churchfield writes several stitch guides for Melissa Shirley painted canvases.  Search on Melissa Shirley to see the guides she has written that I know about.  Beverly can be reached via Aristeia Needlepoint.

Thanks for the loan of the guide, Marj!

Jan 18, 2011

Brenda Hart Stitch Guides

Brenda Hart teaches all over the country but she also occasionally does a stitch guide.  When you can find them, trust me, they will be fabulous!  I'm going to list all the guides I can discover.  If you know of others, please let me know in the comments so I can update the listing.

Brenda has collaborated with Red Thread Designs to write many stitch guides for their canvases.  You may be familiar with her book
It's In The Bag, which is a series of purse canvases from Red Thread Designs which Brenda stitched and published guides for.

Her book A Banner Year is done the same way.  It shows how to stitch a series of monthly banners from Rebecca Wood.

More traditional stitch guides for a single canvas can be found here and there.  Here is a tree canvas with one of Brenda's guides (from Red Thread) that pictures a little girl leaning up against the trunk, reading a book.

Ruth Schmuff has asked Brenda to write many guides for her modern and colorful canvases.  I believe that Brenda's guides are free with the canvas purchase.  Here's Fuchsia Lady.  Love that pony tail!

Yellow Lady also has a Brenda guide.

Top Hat Lady is the third in the series and she also has a Brenda guide.

If you can't decide which canvas you like best, then pick Party Girls, which is a larger design that incorporates all three woman and has a Brenda guide to stitching.

Shoppers is one of my favorites.  The stitch guide for it is for the 18 count version only.

There is a Summer Shoppers version with a Brenda guide.

Here is Shorebirds' lovely peacock canvas, for which Brenda has written a stitch guide.

Brenda has written stitch guides for several SharonG canvases. I know SharonG's Cat Walk and her Winter Stream have Brenda Hart guides and I believe there are more SharonG guides available.

Brenda has done guides for four of the eight big canvases in the Guadalajara series from Leigh Designs.

Jan 14, 2011

Patty Paints with Stitch Guides

The charming Patty Paints website has a nice stitch guide page that has thumbnail photos of some of the canvases that have stitch guides.  Click on the tiny photos to have a better look. The list of canvases at the top of the page to the right of the photo are the various categories of her canvases.  I think --but don't quote me on this!-- that only the little thumbnail canvases have guides but they are included in the price of the canvas.

Patty Paints usually creates small, simple designs that are perfect for fancy stitches and creative embellishing.  I love her mermaids in particular (they are in "Beachy") but I think her hilarious animals, the nutcrackers and the wonderful Stirling bag inserts are her most popular designs.  Have fun browsing, whether there's a stitch guide available or not.

Jan 12, 2011

Temple of 1000 Cranes Revealed

Temple of 1000 Cranes Unstitched
Leigh Richardson has just revealed her latest series of eight canvases at the January 2011 TNNA show in Long Beach, California.  I am stitching the first in the series of what Leigh calls "fantasy pagodas."

Note the Five Cranes on the Roof
My design is called Temple of 1000 Cranes.  You can see the rest of the series on the Leigh website.

Another Angle
These are large designs.  They are all 14 inches high and 11 wide on 18 count canvas.  They are on sage green mono needlepoint canvas and because they are all dream landscapes of Asian-themed temples, each fades away into mist at the edges of the design.

Rocks and Carved Stone Steps
Because of the size, I can't scan the entire canvas but the photos above are snippets of what I have stitched so far.  I've been amazed at how effective fairly simple and common stitches are on 1000 Cranes.  My stitch guide for this piece will be available the end of the month.  The building, rock and vegetation stitches can all be used on other designs in the series, although you may have to slant the stitches another way, depending on how your fantasy pagoda is painted.  I also think the Foo Dog Gateway will need different building stitches than the ones I used since it is built differently than the rest.  In all cases you will need to add your own touches.  The stitch guide isn't totally transferable to the other canvases.

Stay tuned for me to finish and post an overall photo here.

Jan 4, 2011

Amy Bunger's Stitch Guides: A Review Updated

UPDATE:  I've seen something that indicates that Amy may sell her guides without your having to purchase either the threads or the canvas as well.  Stay tuned.

I’ve long been a fan of Amy Bunger’s stitching. You may know of Amy because of her shop in Memphis, or you may have heard of her as a teacher, or perhaps have watched some of her “How’d You Do That?” videos. Recently with the explosion of stitching blogs, you’ve probably seen Peggy McGown’s Needlepoint Study Hall blog that talks about Amy’s Home Study canvases and posts hints and help for Amy’s students who are stitching them. (Amy tells me Peggy’s blog is in no way tied to Amy or her store other than the fact that Peggy wanted to work and write about the Halloweenies as she works them.  We owe Peggy a big thank you for her volunteer efforts to help her fellow stitchers.)  So I was very very happy when Amy agreed to send me two of her stitch guides for review.
But before we start, here’s the section of the Amy Bunger website that talks about her custom stitch guides.
Many (but not all) of the custom stitch guides available from her shop are listed above. Please note that any guides written by Robin King instead of Amy are clearly marked, and that the guides are only available for purchase if you buy the canvas and/or the thread kit from Amy’s shop. We’ll talk about why Amy works that way in a minute but first, let me quote Amy herself about her stitch guides.
I actually write more than one type of stitch guide. One type of guide is a custom stitch guide written as a request for a class participant for a class in my shop. When the class is over and the student has received their guide, then I will sometimes open the guide for purchase by other people. These guides are written without having been stitched by me and will rely partially on the experience of the student to put the stitches and thread suggestions into practice. I try to be as thorough as I can be without spending an excessive amount of time writing them. (These guides are commissioned at an hourly rate and can become quite expensive.) I require that a person purchase either the canvas and/or the thread kit to qualify for the purchase of a custom guide. My style has changed through the years and now sometimes these guides include drawings as well as stitch diagrams.”
Amy loaned me a copy of her 2005 guide to Maggie’s Piece of Cake #M-722 canvas to serve as a typical sample of one of these custom stitch guides.
This particular guide comes as loose sheets paper-clipped together which Amy says is her usual practice. There are four pages of bare-boned instructions followed by five pages of stitch diagrams. The instructions list each section of the painted canvas and tells the student the stitch, thread and number of plies to use for that section. The stitch diagrams are excellent. Each stitch used is diagrammed (unless it is a very common stitch like a tent stitch). The diagrams are usually black and white (or shades of gray) and most are numbered so you know where to start each stitch. Some stitches have more than one diagram so you see how each row works together. There is one line drawing that illustrates how to do a technique in this particular guide.
Note that there are no tips. After all, this custom stitch guide is for a class where students will be able to ask Amy about anything they don’t understand. A colored photograph of the finished piece is not included. There also is no master list of threads used since this custom stitch guide was intended to be part of a kit. The student will have the threads pulled and waiting when they arrive at Amy’s shop to take the class. This means that anyone who buys one of Amy’s custom stitch guides to use at home will want to at least pick up the thread kit so that everything is right there. Going through a custom guide and making a list of threads yourself is not a hard task but many stitchers will prefer having their threads included with the guide especially since the custom stitch guides don’t tell you how much of any one thread will be needed. (However, an experienced stitcher should be able to estimate amounts if they read the guide carefully.) Amy explains about the lack of a thread list in the custom stitch guides this way--
The custom guide does not come with a thread list. Many of the earlier ones don’t even have one--we have to make it if we get an order for the canvas (or guide). The thread lists change continuously as threads are changed in color or discontinued and we make those changes when the guide is ordered if possible or desired. The Home Study Guides do come with a thread list since I know exactly what and how much was needed for every stitch of the canvas from experience. We do make every endeavor to kit adequate amounts of thread for the custom guides without over-pulling threads, but we can only estimate on these guides.
Since there is no photo of the finished piece to refer to in Amy’s custom stitch guides, these stitch guides are really more useful to the experienced stitcher who will understand the instructions better than a beginner. I’m not saying a determined beginner can’t figure them out--they are very well done--but it is going to be easier if you have some previous needlepointing under your belt.
Now let me refer to Amy again to talk about the second type of stitch guide she offers:
The other type of guide that I write is for Home Study Projects. These are ‘classes in a box.’ With these guides, I try to add the flavor of a classroom with tips and hints from the teacher about the stitches, design, and threads. Since I physically stitch these projects before writing the guides, they are more detailed. The only way that you can purchase a Home Study Stitch Guide is by signing up for a Home Study Project through our store or a local needlework shop. I do not sell these guides wholesale but I do ‘share’ a retail sale with other shops across the country. The student’s local store can sell the student the canvas and we will sell them the guide and thread kit. We refer to this as a Co-op program between two shops. There are some shops that do not opt to do this, so the student can choose which shop to order their canvas from, but the guides and thread kits are ONLY available from us. These guides are not as expensive as the custom guides because they are designed to be sold in mass quantities (as part of a kit) and will pay for themselves in that way. The example that I have enclosed is for a Halloweenies Character, Frank N. Stein, and was one of a series of either guides making up the Halloweenies Character Series.

(To see Frank N. Stein and the rest of the Halloweenies as well as the companion Halloween House in this Home Study Series, check Amy’s website.)
The Home Study lesson that Amy sent me for review arrived sealed in plastic. There is a cover page with a full color photo of the finished Frank N. Stein and a full thread list along with any other items you might need (such as size and type of needles, size of stretcher bars, etc.). The photo and the thread list face out through the plastic so it is easy to check in your thread kit that arrives with the guide.  Remember, the guide is ONLY AVAILABLE with a thread kit.  There is also a reminder in this Home Study guide that some of the leftover threads from that lesson’s Halloweenies character will be used with another of the set. 
There are 12 pages of instructions in the Frank N. Stein guide. Each section of the canvas is described, and there are tips for working each section under the description of how each section is worked. Amy lists the stitches, threads and number of plies needed for each section and refers to the diagram for the stitches used. There are seven pages of diagrams and drawings that explain fully how you stitch each section. The diagrams are in black and white and in color when color helps explain what you are to do. The stitch path is numbered to make it easy to understand how each stitch is done.
For those who are interested, here are links to the Needlepoint Study Hall blog run by Peggy McGown so you can see how the Home Study guides are packed to be mailed to students.
The Home Study guide Amy sent me for review is very, very detailed and full of Amy’s personality. I think even a beginner could stitch Frank himself with only minimal help. Amy has certainly achieved her goal of making these Home Study guides a real “class in a box!”
Reading through Amy’s custom and Home Study guides is an inspiration to stitch guide writers like me. They are beautifully done and the diagrams out of this world. Amy has managed to include useful information in the Home Study guides as well as making her own unique style accessible to folks who aren’t able to take one of her classes.
However, I do have one criticism of the custom guides. They are quite expensive and are also not available unless you buy either the canvas or the thread kit (or both) from Amy’s shop, which increases the price even more. So I asked Amy if she’d consider at least having a yearly sale of her guides to make them more affordable. Here is her answer. You are going to be surprised by why Amy prices her guides this way!
Your criticism is noted and I know shared by others. Experience has taught me that guides are purchased once and then copied many times for friends, etc.... I can only write about 85 guides in a year (and am getting slower each year) and it really sticks in my craw when I find out that the guides have been copied with no remuneration for me or consideration for the person that commissioned them in the first place. By forcing the purchase of threads or a canvas with each custom guide and Home Study Guide I have put in place a partial protection against ‘sharing’ with friends or reselling the guide by other shop owners. I would love to sell my guides by themselves, but I try not to be foolish in my business practices. Maybe that is why I have been able to keep a retail business open through thick and thin for over 30 years. Every time I break the shop rules, it comes back to haunt me somewhere down the road. I would love to sell hundreds of each guide that I write, but I am happy to sell just a few, or only one, and protect my customers from finding that the guide that they commissioned, at what I feel is a high price, is available to everyone without having to buy the threads or pay for a class.
Those of us who pay attention to the world of cross stitch know how copyright violation has put quite a few cross stitch designers out of business and put a serious dent into profits for many others. I am not sure that cross stitch will ever recover from these thefts. However, it never occurred to me that our needlepoint world was threatened by the same thievery. As a beginning stitch guide writer I knew that I ran the risk of selling a guide and having it xeroxed and sent to the buyer’s ten closest friends, but it never dawned on me that Amy Bunger’s business was seriously enough impacted that she was forced to only sell her custom stitch guides with a thread kit or canvas to protect her investment of time. This makes me worry about my fellow stitch guide writers and about counted thread designers like Laura Perin and the folks who publish Jean Hilton’s charts. Are these going to become less available through the greed of stitchers who refuse to pay for charts or stitch guides?
We have only ourselves to blame for the high cost of Amy’s stitch guides. Believe me, Amy’s frank discussion of her guides and their pricing will make me re-evaluate my own stitch guides and how much they cost, and it will certainly make me more rabid about copyright theft since I know now just what it costs us in higher prices as stitchers!

Jan 1, 2011

Free Associated Talents Stitch Guides from DMC

This morning I was happy to hear that DMC's blog has links to free stitch guides for the Associated Talents shop canvases.  These little painted canvases show various storefronts, all embellished with DMC's memory thread (which is copper wire wrapped in DMC cotton floss).  Here's Robin's message that tells you about the canvases and links to the free stitch guides which are PDF files.

Click on her photograph of the stitched examples for a better view. As a bonus, Robin has included a photo of the cover of her latest stitch guide for Zecca's Bird & Worm canvas.  Congratulations, Robin!  Very professional looking indeed!