Melitastitches4fun's Blog

Technique Issue: Stitching into stitches and catching fiber
November 26, 2019, 11:46 am
Filed under: General comments, Technique Issues, Threads

In reading over suggested materials from the EGA Master Craftsman Canvas bibliography, I have found a couple of interesting issues and will post about some of them. I’d love to get your input on these.

In Needlepoint and Beyond: 27 Lessons in Advanced Canvas Work by Edith Anderson Feisner, she says to always work into the stitches that have been previously done. That makes sense. It’s also been described as working from a clean hole into a dirty hole. That’s not always possible but an excellent tenet to follow.

Before I proceed, let me say she is using size 10 or 12 mesh interlock canvas and Colbert Persian wool in her examples. So, perhaps her next statement that I have some question about is not applicable to all fibers.

She says to catch just a tiny bit of the fiber as you work the stitch to lock the stitches together but do not split the fiber. Her reasoning is that, “This will prevent friction between stitching from building up and destroying the fibers.”

Do you think her finished pieces are being used as rugs or something being handled a lot? Because when would there be friction after you stitched and framed something?

I have always tried to keep the holes more “clean” by specifically avoiding catching the fiber from the previous stitch. I thought that was preferred. And, so, perhaps “it depends” on what you are stitching and for what purpose. In straight stitches like bargello, it might decrease the chance of seeing the bits of canvas on either side of the threads (sometimes referred to as teeth or dandruff). And, bargello patterns are often pillows or purses which would get wear.

Have you ever heard anyone recommend catching the fiber while stitching? And, if so, when, what fiber, and why.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments.

EGA Canvas Master Craftsman Program, Step 1 (Three Fish)
November 24, 2019, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Canvas Master Craftsman Program, Embroidery Guild of America, Step 1

I got started on the Canvas Master Craftsman Certification Program through EGA ( in September 2019 with Step 1. I am also interested in the Color and Design Certification Programs. But, I decided to start with the Canvas program in order to demonstrate “mastery of basic canvas techniques and compensation” before advancing. And, I am thrilled to say that I passed the Step 1 evaluation with distinction! They want me to exhibit it as “an example of the beautiful work” being done as part of the Master Craftsman Program portion of the Education exhibit at the 2020 EGA National Seminar, September 4-8. I am happy to promote the program.

Since each program has 6 steps with judging at 6-month intervals, it’ll take a minimum of 3 years per program. But, you can take longer periods to complete any step. By the end of the 3 programs, I will have stitched 21 pieces and written 6 essays for the Color program (these sound tougher than stitching). While this is ambitious and challenging, it is just what I want. Even though I didn’t get started on my first piece until September, I was able to get it done before the end of October and send it in for the November evaluation. It appears that 3 people did the evaluation which looks at following directions, transferring the design, stitch technique, stitch placement, correct compensation, canvas coverage, and use of color.

For step 1 of Canvas, I had to select 10 stitches from a list of 20 and one of three designs using a monochromatic color scheme of 5 values of stranded cotton floss.

I selected the three fish mainly because I could use 5 values in the monochromatic color range that DMC calls Golden Yellow (3078, 727, 726, 725, and 972). After I made multiple copies of the design, I pulled out my colored pencils and mapped out the basic colors to be sure there would be contrast between adjacent areas and to get an idea of some different shading for each fish.

Next, I decided what direction each area would be. And, I wanted movement that would keep your eye within the piece. I selected Mosaic for what I saw as the furthest away fish (upper left) because it is a smaller stitch pattern, Parisian for the middle fish (right) because I could rotate the stitch 90 degrees for the tail which is showing the backside of the fin, and Milanese for the closest fish (bottom left) because it is the largest stitch pattern. Then, I filled in the rest of the areas.

For my initial tracing, I used a yellow copic marker but I couldn’t see the lines well enough. So, I got another piece of canvas and used a pencil even though I don’t like pencil. It either rubs away on me or it is too dark to cover with the light colored threads. As it turns out, one negative comment was that the lighter threads in some places picked up the graphite. Or, it might be that I didn’t cover the tracing quite enough in a couple of places. They offered two suggestions including colored pencils or micron pens which come in different sizes and colors.

I was pleased they noted my threads were “very nicely laid with good tension”. My coverage was good but “a small amount of canvas is visible in some areas”. I liked the coverage with 3 or 4 threads. But, I can appreciate their suggestion to use more strands on the straight stitches to cover even more. They also offered a good alternative to use paint behind the stitches. I wasn’t sure that was allowed but now I know it’s ok.

I planned out the thread blending on the bodies of each fish and they noticed. “Color blending added interest and the transition of values, particularly in the upper left fish, is excellent.” That fish had the most complicated thread blending pattern. And, they loved the way I turned the stitch on the right fish’s fin to add movement. It’s nice to read that my submission was “artfully done” and that the color blending and stitch placement, especially on the fin were appreciated.

An extensive bibliography is provided and, as a guide, each entry references which step it applies to. I own about 10 of the books. And, Rittenhouse Needlepoint has another 6 in their classroom library. I came to appreciate the stitching order as suggested in The Needlepoint Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen. She indicates that slanted stitches should be stitched first when next to straight stitches.

Step 2 instructions were included when Step 1 was returned to me and I am already planning what stitch goes where in the assigned geometric design. My analogous colorway with DMC floss has been determined. Color placement is tough. While I am anxious to get started, I am not in a rush as I have until May. And, there is a painted canvas that I must finish first.

Zentangle Class
November 17, 2019, 9:41 am
Filed under: General comments, Zentangle

Mt. Airy Learning Tree offers a great variety of classes throughout the year. I decided to take an Introduction to Zentangle class. I had been exposed to Zentangle by my ANG Keystone Garden chapter and stitched a design I had drawn (which got Honorable Mention in 2018 at Woodlawn). Candice had given us an excellent class but that was a few years ago and decided to give it another go.

Mindy Shapiro, a certified Zentangle teacher, provided a Micron 01 pen, a Micron 08 pen, a short pencil, a smudge stick (Pro Art Stump No. 2), and 4 cards (3.5″ x 3.5″ heavy stock with wavy edges and curved corners from There are no erasers because whatever happens is meant to be.

In just 2 hours, we covered the origins of the art form and got exposed to multiple patterns. The design on the left has Crescent Moon with auras (upper left area), Hollibaugh (pairs of lines passing under others; bottom right), Printemps (circular pattern with auras or dots; bottom left area), and Knights Bridge (grid; upper right area).

The one on the right was done in the last 30 minutes to expose us to a few more patterns including Florz (grid with diamonds at the intersections with shading as I did or it can have an aura inside each white space; upper left area), Printemps with Sparkle (leaves an open area in the circular pattern; bottom center area), and Static (zig zag with shading; upper right area).

Four dots are placed in the corners. Then, connect them. Mindy liked the wavy lines that I used to connect my four corners. The left design has a Z string and the right design a V string. A ‘string’ divides the large area. The smudge stick smooths out the pencil marks to create shading and depth.

It was a fun class. There was 9 of us and no 2 looked alike.

Barbara’s Patchwork Area B
November 8, 2019, 6:59 pm
Filed under: ANG Main Line Stitchers Chapter, Barbara's Patchwork

One of the counted projects for my ANG Main Line Stitchers Chapter is ANG’s Stitch of the Month (SOTM) from 1999, Barbara’s Patchwork. There a nice variety of colors going on.

This is the next area, a composite pattern looking like a patch of flowers to me. It was a little tricky to stitch without threads showing through. I either passed the thread through the outline or started and ended within the motif.

And, one more person signed up for my Crescent Journey! And, one woman is stitching on a black canvas. This month will reveal everyone’s center motif with 6 stitches.

We’ve got the projector and speaker going again and are watching Tony Minieri and Amy Bunger Back to Basics DVDs alternating months with discussing Vases, a Sharon G painted canvas. Doing both was just too much in 2 hours. This month, we are starting Part 3 and will take 20 minutes to look at The Canvas, Compensation, and 3 Filling Patterns (Burden, Double Burden, and a Composite Couching Pattern).

Please join us November 11 (always the second Monday of the month from 7-9 pm) at Starbucks in Wayne, PA (218 Lancaster Ave).

Sisters from Nancy Cucci’s Pilot Class
November 4, 2019, 9:42 am
Filed under: ANG Delaware's Seashore Chapter, Sisters

Sisters is a Nancy Cucci piece from a 2016 pilot class held by our southern friends in the ANG Delaware Seashore chapter. Linda was there too and finished hers awhile ago. It was a great weekend with some outlet shopping too!

Nancy is known for having beads in her pieces! The interesting thing about this piece is that depth is achieved by using beads and threads in the three largest /closest areas, Kreinik and thread in the medium range areas, and threads only in the smallest/furthest areas.

I finished it a few weeks ago but almost forgot to mention it here. Between this and the fish, I have applied a lot of beads lately.