Before I ever started piecing and quilt making I was active in the needlearts. It began with traditional embroidery, as it has with so many others. I tried crewel work and cross stitch, blackwork, Swedish weaving, and latch hook rug making. The interest that surpassed them all in those days was needlepoint. I still have many of the books I collected back then - even though I can't safely read or look through most of them. If I'd known there was a certificate or degree program in the textile arts I would have taken that route when I was pushed into college. Instead I found myself in business administration courses. The best part of my college years wasn't the official education I was getting or even the friends I made. It was the access to glorious shops full of colorful yarns and intriguing painted canvases in south central Ohio.
I doubt those shops exist now, although I have not taken the time to find out. Both of the shops we had in this area that catered to needle artists have closed. Obviously I can - and have to, in general - shop online but it just isn't the same. You can't see the colors or feel the textures the way you can in person. But I'm probably preaching to the choir here. Back to the point...
I put away my needles and threads and canvases when the children came along. It just wasn't practical to have those sharp things and expensive materials laying out where little hands could get hold of them. We didn't have a lot of room in those days either, for putting things out of reach. So a lot of it got packed up and put away more or less permanently. Some of it went away altogether. It was only a matter of time before I had to find new ways to relieve stress and that's when piecing quilt blocks came along. They've had a firm hold on me right up until I injured my shoulder in January.
Regular readers will know that I have returned to the needlearts as my shoulder is slowly healing. You've seen the little needlepoint cases I've been churning out. As you know, one thing leads to another. I've found groups on Facebook where stitchers meet and share their work and questions. I've discovered Fiber Talk
and Stitchery Stories
, a couple of podcasts I've been enjoying and learning from. I have also unearthed one needlepoint canvas I couldn't bear to part with when I was purging my supplies back in the day. It occurs to me that this is probably my oldest UFO. It dates from the end of the 1970's.
The image area is ten inches wide and about 7.25" high. The horses are all stitched in DMC floss. The background was stitched with a wool yarn, probably Paternayan. I can see two reasons why I stopped work on this piece. I didn't know how to meld the upright mosaic stitch I used in the background with the tent stitches of the horses. Worse than that, it doesn't look like I have enough of the wool to complete the background. This wool has to be a good 40 years old. I doubt I could even begin to get a matching dye lot, especially since there doesn't appear to be the hint of a label in the bag this was stored in.
I still don't know exactly how best to move from the textured background stitches to the smooth tent stitching of the horses. What I have decided to do, at least for the moment, is to use what wool I have left to fill in around the horses with more tent stitching. I'm also going to remove a good deal of the background. I may have to remove all of it eventually. I don't yet know what I'll use to replace it, either thread type or color. The removal process has already begun. Let me tell you, it hasn't been easy!
The other thing I'm discovering is that I'm not all that interested in doing fancy stitches for the background, which seems to be the popular thing to do these days. Frankly, I enjoy doing tent stitch, basketweave style. I find it soothing. I do not enjoy working with the wool yarn however. Having filled in around the horses with tent stitch in that wool provides a nice contrast in texture and color but I'm going to want to transition to something else somehow. I also like the idea of preserving at least a tiny bit of the original materials used on this piece back in the day. I may try to keep some of those mosaic stitches, maybe around the perimeter or just along the bottom. I've come to a place in my life where I can work on this just to please myself, no one else. That's an accomplishment in itself.
In the meantime, I've also succumbed to temptation and purchased a small hand painted canvas to stitch. 😁
The image is only about 5.5" tall and 3" wide but there's lots of canvas around it for me to play with one way or another. You may be able to see that I bought this from The Wool and The Floss
in Michigan. I learned about the shop from one of the older Fiber Talk podcasts and fell in love with this guy immediately while browsing their website. A hand painted canvas is a real splurge for me. No guessing where the stitches are meant to go though, so it should be a joy to stitch. Plus it gives me the perfect excuse to use some of the delicious floss I've been accumulating from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe!
This seems to be a rather link-heavy post. I'm not getting any kickbacks from anyone, just so you know.