Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Needlepoint and a "gift" for Vonna

Let’s see, I said I owed you a needlepoint update from the weekend so here you go.

Actually, it is kind of funny in that last weekend I worked at my needlepoint shop. I was filing in for the owner who couldn’t find a baby sitter for her grand daughter. So off I traipsed to the shop with 3 pieces already on stretchers and kitted up and 4 canvases looking to be on bars and possibly threaded. Sure, I knew we had at least to bundles of people coming in to pick out and thread tallis bags for their little darlings who are approaching bar mitzvah time, but neither my buddy (who I was working with) or I expected it to turn out to be Tallis Bags R Us weekend. Sheesh. To our best reckoning at the end of the day we sold 7 tallis bags and threaded all but 1 of them. {For the record a tallis bag is pouch, generally the shape of a large, rectangular couch pillow in which you keep your tallis, or prayer shawl.]

My cross-stitching buddies may not understand, but those of you who needlepoint will. Threading a large canvas is a significant undertaking on a good day, but picking and threading a tallis bag is a MONUMENTAL undertaking. First of all on your average canvas what you are dealing with is one woman (or man, sure, we’ve got a couple guys who frequent the shop without twitching) deciding between silks, wool, perle and shades of colors and maybe picking a stitch to start with. When you do a tallis bag you are dealing with the bar/t mitzvah child, the parent(s), the sibling(s), a child’s friend or two, and the aunt/grandma/family friend who is doing the stitching. So, you take this herd and as a group they debate the virtues of the 200 or so tallis bag canvases we stock – with whining about colors, alignment, etc. Then once a single canvas is settled on you get to the threads. I divide the shoppers into the “sparkly pink pony” crowd and the “adults.” The Sparkly Pink Pony folks are the ones who are lead by a boy/girl who really like pink, purple, unicorns, UCLA football, the Yankees, etc. and really, really, really want their tallis bag to feature that. The bigger the crowd with the Pink Ponies the longer the debate over canvas and threads because the stitchers/parents are trying, without squashing youthful enthusiasm, to impart the idea that in 5 years you’re going to be thoroughly embarrassed by this bag and grandma/auntie/Mrs. Good Samaratin isn’t going to do doing another one for you. The “adult” kids are the ones who can think at least partially forward to a time when lavender won’t be their favorite color and the world won’t revolve around baseball.

So, we did 7 tallis bags on Saturday which meant from a quarter to 10 until 4pm (when we close) I did not one single stitch. I did have some non-customer time, but that was spent staring at a canvas wondering why I’d pulled the threads I did for it. Why is it I created these great needlepoint mysteries for myself. I mean it was soooo obvious when I change the threads used in the stitch guide, but now I’m completely befuddled. Why, oh why don’t I write these things down?????? Hmm, I should have taken a picture of that for you. Oh well, you’ll have to wait until I finally get some stitches in.

By the end of the day the “accomplishment” of my shop day was that my buddy pulled out the section of my Zuni bear that I had stitched. Here’s what it was looking like:
Zuni bear close up

I wanted thicker coverage so later in the day I replaced it all and now I’m much happier:
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The sparkly crosses are Tiara, the blue those sparkles sit in is Gum Nuts, and the turquoise line is Splendor. The next wide line below the Splendor is supposed to be turkey work, but that’s just not happening. I’m going to try a plaited stitch I think.

Question for ya’ll – I simply had to do this bear, but I have no clue what to do with it. The two options so far have been to have it finished to its bear shape and mounted to a pillow top with cording around the bear’s border, or to make him a weighted standing doll. What do you think? Any ideas I am being blind to at the moment.

The only think I “accomplished” at the shop was to restretch one canvas of mine (still not yet started…. It’s been kitted up for at least 6 years! Heaven help me if the moths find it.) and to tape and put on stretchers two small canvases I brought with me – both ornies that I figure are handy to have ready for a quick take along if I have a needlepoint yen.

On an xsing front I have at long last remembered to take a picture of the new patriotic piece I started. Because I “had” to adjust the pattern I was forced to stitch it starting in a bottom corner which leads me to this as a progress pic:
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Every time I look at it I think of Vonna, who commented on one of pictures of my Halloween Fairy some months back that I really needed to give her some legs….. and here I am, legs only. So, Vonna, these legs are for you – and one of these days that Fairy will have legs too! Lol


P.S. Here's how far I got on the office -- not bad for a single day:
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Yeah, that's a bag of potting mix. It's a long story.
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Cyn, the green polka dot thing is a Beanie baby bear covered in shamrocks and wearing a top hat. Since my Ph.D. is in Irish-Ameircan history folks tend to give me Irish-themed things.
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And the tangelo is there somewhere but I'm not sure where. I didn't eat it, bubt I can't find it now. Dang it! It's gone free range!!!!! lol


Linen Stitcher said...

I enjoyed your long, newsy post. The description of the selection process for the tallis bags was very interesting! As for the legs, I'll just have to stay tuned to see what they're attached to eventually.

Kathryn said...

Ever since I saw a dozen weighted, standup pieces from Melissa Shirley's Halloweentown (done in dark blue velvet), I have wanted to do mine like that. Of course, I have to stitch them first! So I am leaning to a bear standup, but because he is a bit "head heavy", I think you are going to have to do him as a half circle, which does mean you would have to stitch the white under his head, neck and stomach. Maybe that is the time for some simple tv background stitching. He is gorgeous whatever you do with him.

Kathryn said...

Are you going to stitch his body with something fuzzy?

Barbara said...

I went to a Jewish school for a year and really enjoy the explanation over Tallis bags!

Chris said...

I noticed the bag of potting soil and was wondering....

I like the idea of making the bear a stand-up. You should be able to weight him so he stands up correctly. Now, do you have a place to stand him once this is done?

A free range tangelo???? ROFLOL!!!!!

Cyn said...

Hi Ruth,

And then the Tallis stitchers and their people will return as they won't like some/all of the threads that they selected and they'll expect you to remember all about their project and do the selection process all over again! :-) Hopefully, the stitcher will be smart and will return without the crowd.

And yes, since I’m a needlepointer I do understand about how long it takes to pull threads and select stitches for a canvas! That’s why I always have multiple projects going at any one time. I’m always thinking about the next canvas(s) project while working on the current projects. Sometimes you don’t know if a particular stitch and thread combination will work until you try it. Happy Dance if it works but if not, it’s frogging time! :-) That’s part of the fun of stitching needlepoint but it can be very frustrating when things don’t work out and you end up with another opportunity to exercise your creative skills!!!

I like the new stitch combination on your Zuni Bear much better than what you had originally. It’s looking like a heavy blanket now instead of a portion of sky or water.

I'd finish the bear as a weighted standup and display him in a glassed in cabinet. The other option would be a large ornament that you could hang from a knob in your house. Of course you could always frame him but I would finish him as a weighted standup before I would choose framing. He has too much personality to be stuck on a wall! :-)

I see that you stitch in the well (canvas mounted on the bottom of the stretcher bars). This is a very valid technique as many feel that it keeps the canvas cleaner. I mount my canvas to the top of the stretcher bars as I don’t like putting a canvas right down on a surface. I have teens who are usually very good about keeping things clean but that would be the one time that something would spill, no one would have noticed, and then I’d put the canvas right down on the spill!

Which patriotic piece have you started? We need details! :-)

Thanks for the explanation about the green bear. I thought that’s what he was. :-)

I love that the Tangelo has gone “Free Range”! You should be okay unless it decides to grow a fuzzy covering!!!

Now you know we need to know about the potting soil. I’m sure there is a story about that!

Windy Meadow

Jennifer said...

I love how Zuni bear is coming out - and I think frogging and restitching that section was definitely the right choice. Also, I love Cynthia's idea of finishing it as a weighted standup.

Coni said...

It takes me a year and a lifetime to colorize my canvases! I can't imagine trying to do it for somebody else, and then doing seven of them to boot! Yikes! I love your bear and agree with the gals that he would be a fantastic stand up.

Vonna said...

I always love reading yoru posts ;)
And hey! Thanks for the legs ;)
Now I'm singing "She's got legs" in my head by ZZtop...LOL!

Chiasmata said...

Sounds like you had a pretty hectic day. I'd never heard about tallis bags, they certainly sound like a heavily involved thing. Good thing they have an expert canvas stitcher to help them. :)

I can't express how much I *love* your Zuni bear. The colours are absolutely amazing, and your stitching looks great. I think a weighted stand for finishing would be a brilliant idea.

Lelia said...

oh, how very interesting! I enjoyed reading thru your post.

Luv your zuni bear. And, I like the idea of keeping the bear shape, edge w/cording. Would be an interesting pillow or toy!! It is a fantastic shape. If you get ambitious, you could stitch both sides : ) LOL

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