Sunday, January 31, 2016

Heaven & Earth stitching instructions: to follow or not to follow

Heaven and Earth recommends to complete their designs page by page.  This makes no sense to me on several levels.  Practically  - if the symbol you are following on one page continues onto the next, why end your thread only to later have to weave it in again.  This will bulk up the back, and brings me to my second reason  - Aesthetically.
Depending on your tension and how you end your threads, stitching page by page, can create visible ridges that cannot be repaired.  Stretching and framing will only make these more noticeable.
These ridges are only created vertically, not horizontally.  They are most noticeable in the darker  and solid coloured areas.  This is a photo of one of our Heaven & Earth models, The Forbidden Doorway. You can see a ridge in her skirt and another running down the door and through the stone steps.
My suggestion to avoid these ridges is not to end your stitches along the sides of each page.  As you get close to the edge of each page, tape the next page to it and follow each symbol across, or park your threads.

Heaven & Earth also recommends to cross stitch on white 25ct Lugana.  There is nothing wrong with this, but by no means is this the only fabric you can stitch a Heaven and Earth design on.  Due to the large stitch count of these designs, the finished design size sounds smaller and thus more manageable than cross stitching it on 14, 16 and even 18 count aida.  The amount of work is the same, only the finished design sizes vary.   In actual fact, I find it easier and faster to stitch on aida than to cross stitch over one fabric thread on 25ct Lugana.  Lugana is a woven fabric and if not careful, stitches can slip under at the cross over.  Furthermore, cross stitching  1 over 1 on 25ct Lugana does not completely cover the fabric, this is very noticeable with darker thread colours.  One way to avoid this is to reduce the contrast, choose a light to medium fabric colour.  Another is to cross stitch on 18ct aida.  Yes, the design will be larger, but 2 strands of floss give perfect coverage on 18ct aida.

So, my recommendation is to draw from your own knowledge and cross stitch experience.  Designers, and that includes yours truly,  will make recommendations based on their own preferences and biases, but this does not make it gospel. Just remember..
The only rules to needlework are:
   1.  The thread must go through the needle.  
2. The needle must go through the fabric. 
 Everything else is only a suggestion.

We stitch because we love it, so enjoy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Starting & Restarting my first Heaven & Earth Design

I had always wanted to petit point a Heaven & Earth design, but which one?  They're all stunning, HUGE and require a great commitment of time.  While perusing their website last November I finally found one that I could not resist, "Catherdral".  It is 400 x 640 stitches, or 256,000 stitches in total.  If I stitch one of the 10 x 10 squares (100 stitches) per day, then it will only take me 7 years to complete.  No problem, right?  Right!  I figure I can petit point more than 100 stitches a night, so I should get it done in less than 7 years.  I started as soon as I had the pattern in hand.
 This is as far as I got  in 2 nights, but then with the Christmas rush I put it away for over the holidays.   So maybe 7 years isn't far off the mark after all.

To further complicate matters, I am starting all over.  I first petit pointed on a 22 count canvas, using 3 strands of floss.  I would have preferred to petit point using 2 strands of floss, but there is no finer count of canvas.  Or at least that is what I had thought.
I have since found a 25ct canvas, it's grided and 2 strands of floss give perfect coverage.  So it's decided, I am starting over and this will become my new project for 2016.

I'll post my progress every once in a while, and over the next month I'll post some general suggestions to consider when stitching these large  computer generated charts published by companies such as Heaven & Earth, Mystic Stitch, and Scarlet Quince to name a few.

If you have any questions or wish to share your experiences, please join the conversation by posting a comment.