Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Xmas Ornament Finishing

Two great ornaments arrived just in time for tree trimming!

Custom Wood Boxes for Needlework

Two boxes provided to customers for beautiful treasured gifts. Both stained cherry with hand wax finish, hinged, with interior brass chain and velvet. Small box has brass feet with brass knob, larger box the lid overhangs for easy lifting. Boxes were made here in the US and the box maker includes finishing services. Can make just about any size box in a variety of woods and finishes. Prices begin at about $125.00.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Extraordinary Embroidery

Today marks the unveiling of the recreation of a lavishly embroidered 17th-century woman’s waistcoat. Read the story and you'll see why this was no small feat. Development and production of materials not made for centuries, hundreds of stitchers and thousands of hours. Tricia Wilson Nguyen, MIT trained textile engineer, spear headed the project, she has so much to be proud of. And a great big thank you to all those involved. For those of you in my "listening area" the jacket will be on display at the Winterthur museum in Delaware for the next two years before returning to Plymouth Massachusetts.

story of the 17th-century waistcoat

Friday, December 11, 2009

Embroidery Fiends and Fanatics

For samplers go to

The Hermitage Museum has done an excellent job of bringing their collections to everyones fingertips.

Load the page listed above and select Textiles. They have nearly 400 textile pieces from their collection availabe to view. Best part is once the item comes up allow it to fully load the high resolution image and then with your mouse you can "hover" and examine every detail by the enlarged image that comes up tracing your path. Amazing. Need a stress break? This is the place to go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


My DH emailed me about someone excitedly blogging about Bargello and how its is so appropriately "retro". Only a non-stitcher would think of bargello in this sense. Furthermore the examples shown were not bargello at all but rather needlepoint sampler pillows found in beiges and avocado greens. Books have been written about bargello so how to put it in a nutshell is a challenge. Often bargello is thought of as a flame stitch motif but it can also be executed in ribbons, medallions, four way and even eight way. Eight way? that would surely land me in an asylum somewhere. Bargello can be on the less expensive end of projects since you don't have to pay for a painted canvas and it can be satisfactory to do it in wool, often a less expensive thread choice. I'd only use wool if it was going to take some wear and tear, as bargello can also be lovely stitched in silk floss. Below is a quickie bargello frame weight I made. It is stitched in Gloriana lorikeet, a very soft wool indeed. It is backed in Weeks wool felt. The tassels could maybe be nicer if I separated the 9 ply's. I think I'll save this task for when I'm in the asylum.

Bargello (needlework) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Two examples of Bargello patterns (Florentine work). The top is a typical curved Bargello motif. The bottom image is a "flame stitch" motif similar to that found in the Bargello museum chairs. Bargello is a type of needlepoint embroidery consisting of upright flat stitches laid in a mathematical pattern to create motifs. The name originates from a series of chairs found in the Bargello palace in Florence, which have a "flame stitch" pattern. Traditionally, Bargello was stitched in wool on canvas. Embroidery done this way is remarkably durable. It is well suited for use on pillows, upholstery and even carpets, but not for clothing. In most traditional pieces, all stitches are vertical with stitches going over two or more threads. Traditional designs are very colourful, and use many hues of one colour, which produces intricate shading effects. The patterns are naturally geometric, but can also resemble very stylised flowers or fruits. Bargello is considered particularly challenging, as it requires very precise counting of squares for the mathematical pattern connected with the various motifs to accurately execute designs.


As with many traditional crafts, the origins of Bargello are not well documented. Although early examples are from the Bargello Museum in Florence, there does exist documentation that a Hungarian connection is possible. For one thing, the Bargello Museum inventory identifies the chairs in its inventory as "17th century with backs and seats done in punto unghero (Hungarian Point)." (Williams, 1967:5). In the 18th century, Queen Maria Teresa of Hungary stitched Bargello and her work has been preserved in the Hungarian National Museum.

Alternate names

A number of alternative names are used by different scholars, including:

• Florentine Work - After the fact that the Bargello Museum is in Florence.

• Hungarian Point (punto unghero) - In Italian, Bargello is known as "Hungarian Point" (Williams 1967: 5, Petschek 1997), indicating that the Florentines believed the technique originated in Hungary. However, English embroidery vocabulary also includes a diamond shaped stitch called the Hungarian Point, so few English language books use this term to refer to Bargello.

• Flame Stitch (fiamma) - A type of Bargello motif in which zig-zag or flames are created. The chairs in the Bargello museum do use flame stitch motifs, but curved motifs are also common (see below). These curved Bargello motifs would normally not be "flame stitch", but would be called Bargello.

Because of the potential for confusion, most books written in English refer to the technique simply as "Bargello" (Williams 1969, Kaestner 1972, Petscheck 1997).

Needlepoint Kimono Stands

The Nimble Needle has been working with the same woodworker employed by the original owners of Lee Needlearts for providing kimono stands in all of the four sizes. The only difference is at this point I am selling them with a smooth sanded surface paint ready. The cost of the stands are: $40. XLRG., $28. LRG, $20. MED, and $8 for the very smallest.

Shipping is additional. To date I do not believe the new owners will be providing stands made by the same gentleman. I am close to the original Lee Needlearts owners so it makes acquiring the stands easy and they are not coming from China. I will ship anywhere!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lace in Translation

The Design Center at Philadelphia University has received a Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to create an exhibition entitled: Lace in Translation. Lace in Translation will be the first exhibition produced by The Design Center in conjunction with its new interpretive initiative, The Fabric of Philadelphia. Three contemporary art/design studios, whose works are often inspired by traditional lace imagery, are mining the historic lace collection at The Design Center (TDC) for inspiration. These Dutch and Canadian art/design teams are being commissioned to create new, site-specific works for installation in the Center’s galleries and on its adjoining grounds during the fall and winter of 2009/10.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Attention all Medici lovers

Out of necessity I have done an inventory on what Medici I have left. There were 180 colors in the line and of those I have left everything with the exception of: Blanc and Noir. Pinks & Reds 8818, 816, 8817, 8127, 8126, 8221, 8101. Plums 8113, 8107, 8124. Blues 8800, 8799, 8799, 8209, 8200, navy, 8993. Greens 8426, 8871, 8369, 8413, 8414, 8415, 8346, 8404, 8405. Golden Browns 8328, 8309. Yellows 8027, 8026, 8725, 8845. Mauves 8514, 8105, 8301, 8300, 8842, 8841, 8840, 8839, 8838, 8504, 8501. Taupe & Browns 8512, 8505, 8503, 8502, 8306, 8509, 8508, 8507, 8204, 8877, 8500, Noir. Mostly what I have left are small skeins, with some half and or whole hanks. Aside from needlepoint and cross stitch its a good choice for surface embroidery, hand quilting and punch needle (using the 3 strand needle). Contact me for further info.

Honestly there are many decent substitutes but nothing quite exactly like it. The twist is tighter and finer than Appleton Crewel weight wool, slightly heavier than RG Designers Wool, slightly finer and tighter twist than Bella Lusso. Weight wise it's somewhat comparable to one strand of Gloriana Lorikeet with a little less loft. I suspect that Needle Necessities used medici as a base for their overdyed French Wool. (Not sure if Threadworx has picked up on the wool or not). Skeins remaining are 1.10 each or 10 for 10.00 or 20 for 15.00.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

stiching woodblock prints

This is a new way for stitching to enter popular arts - wood cut block print artist Alec Dempster shows stitching in his Loteria series of prints in the piece El Borado.

translation of the text:

Each puntada reveals an adorned thought.
The magic on the fabric makes arise the embroidering.
Arturo Castillo Tristán

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

River Silks Kits

These kits are now available in the shop, along with some other kits by River Silks. And the RIversilk technique book, and their ribbons too! I'm finishing up a Patti Mann pineapple standup myself using predominately silk ribbon so stitchers can see its easy and versatile. Nimble Needle also has silk ribbon by Gloriana. Both offer 4mm, 7mm, and 13mm. River Silks come solid and varigated while Gloriana's tend to be shaded due to the hand dying process. Rainbow Gallery offers limited selection of silk ribbon now too including some that are 2mm.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Indie Arts

I have a feeling crewel work as we know it is dead. There is some amazingly creative stuff coming from many textile artists in the UK. Artists, yes, but they are just like us with "real" jobs and families but have taken stitching into the 21st century. Much is done by machine but much is also on a much smaller scale and could easily be done in hand. I think its time to leave being so stuck in the past with the "prim" look. Many of the techniques used could be translated onto linen or canvas using charted or painted pieces. We have the raw materials, it just takes some time and imagination. Take a look:

Inspired by Hungarian Embroidery. Hand made l o n g book. By Jackie or aka Dog Daisy Chain.

Embellished Pin by Chris Gray

Tree Brooches by Kayla Coo

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


My husband thought it was so cool that you can actually stitch a fractal, so I thought I would blog about it and see if anyone else was equally excited. For me its too painful to think about actually stitching. Though they make bookmark size ones these are very large averaging around 350 stitches square. To make it even more "challenging" it is suggested they be stitched on black. Next thing they'll recommend that you stitch these holding the needle between your toes, or maybe stitch by the light of a candle? All kidding aside they must be popular because there are dozens to choose from. . I'm currently stitching on 40 count gauze so I'm sure by some standards this is kind of crazy but it is only 75 stitches square (a lovely piece by Ute Senkel Weinberg). Actually maybe I'm just a stitching wimp, as it only has 2 different threads. Most of the fractals approach 100 different thread colors. Anyone up for a fractal?
Fractal definition for geeks: A fractal is generally "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole,"[1] a property called self-similarity. Roots of mathematical interest on fractals can be traced back to the late 19th Century; however, the term "fractal" was coined by Benoît Mandelbrot in 1975 and was derived from the Latin fractus meaning "broken" or "fractured." A mathematical fractal is based on an equation that undergoes iteration, a form of feedback based on recursion.[2]
Fractal Trivia for us simpletons: Fractal patterns have been found in the paintings of American artist Jackson Pollock. While Pollock's paintings appear to be composed of chaotic dripping and splattering, computer analysis has found fractal patterns in his work.[7]
Decalcomania, a technique used by artists such as Max Ernst, can produce fractal-like patterns.[8] It involves pressing paint between two surfaces and pulling them apart.
Fractals are also prevalent in African art and architecture. Circular houses appear in circles of circles, rectangular houses in rectangles of rectangles, and so on. Such scaling patterns can also be found in African textiles, sculpture, and even cornrow hairstyles.[9]
Approximately 350 x 350 stitches

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lee Needle Arts Anew!

Its really happened, a done deal and Lee Needle Arts has a new owner! I'm especially pleased to announce that Nimble Needle was the First Customer under the new owner Colonial Needle. I think its a good thing and we're all eager to see how it plays out over time. Best wishes to everyone on both sides of the transition.

seasons coming up

Two fun and small canvas's to stitch up for the season. The Spooky Cat is small and can be finished as a small beanbag similar to Lee ladybugs. The Witch Kitty can be finished as an adorable stand-up. I think the cat doesn't even mind being dressed up, must have had a good dose of catnip. Spooky is $29. And Witchie is $48. Both on 18 count.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Charlie Harper, Lee Needle Arts

I'm already beginning to forget who I've told but the current status of Lee Needle Art's is production started again in preparation for the new owner. Anything you thought was gone forever, now's your second chance!
For nature lovers and retro fans alike there are many Charlie Harper canvas's available. Have a favorite one from him, ask and maybe its available as a needlepoint canvas. Here are two I have in stock. Petunia's in Peril is on 18 and Double Lucky is on 13. Most all of his canvas's very well for different stitches because of the large areas of color. However I think the graphic success and excellent use of color is what makes these pieces what they are without feeling the need to do more. To date I'm not sure there is a source online showing the entire Harper line.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back into the swing!

Slowly I am getting back in to full swing at the shop again. Away for 11 days in Denmark chaperoning teens on a mission trip sure put my head in place very far removed from stitching. Here are a few canvases that came in recently. If you like historic homes and or lighthouses Needlecrossings has many many nice ones. As well as some shore birds and other seaside activities ie. sailing, beach going etc.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tree Huggers Rejoice!

A new chart in the shop which will go somewhere in my stack of "want to do while I can still see". I have always loved trees and think anyone else who does will agree this is lovely. If too intimidating certainly there are so many things that could be extracted and used separately for bookmarks, greeting cards, towels, or one better yet stitch on linen banding and make a self finish-able bellpull / wall hanging. I love just trying to isolate out all the critters too!

New Kits

These are some new silk ribbon kits including painstakingly hand drawn canvases by Terry Dryden. Kits are by RIver Silks, who always do everything with the utmost kindness and professionalism. Kits come with extensive stitch guides, practice canvas and plenty of ribbon to complete each piece. They are 5" x 5" and are two in a series of four florals. A great way to get a taste for working with silk ribbon. You'll amaze yourself with how easy and forgiving stitching with ribbon is. If I receive enough interest I'd love to do one of these as a class.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There's Shaded and then There's Varigated

I very much want to add a complete line of threads that are shaded and possibly varigated too. By shaded I mean tones within a like color/s and varigated I mean unexpected colors all within one skein. While I do have a full line of Weeks dye Works and Gentle Arts hand dyed floss as well as lots of Cresent colours these are not available in color families which I think is to their disadvantage when doing painted canvas's. So I'd love to know what all you would like to see available. I'm leaning towards a floss because of its versatility but there are so many other choices too. Please send me an email or give me a call if you have opinions! I'm thinking of: Gloriana silk floss, Gumnut Stars, Threadworx, Soy Lustre... If I had my 'drothers I'd like one with a moderate price point yet I know this may not yield the best in color. Think about it......and let me know your thoughts.
FYI Nora Corbett's alphabet is now through letter "R".
Looking for any Lee? Call me. I have some items and can always see if what your looking for is still available.

Lee Orchids

Lee leather accessories

Nora's R

Monday, July 20, 2009

Christmas cracker ornaments

In addition to the Melissa Shirley candy canes I also want to share one of Melissa Shirley's Christmas cracker ornaments. This one was great fun to stitch, the picture doesn't show all the textures. Threads used include Gloriana silk ribbon, Fyre Werks soft sheen, DMC floss, #4 Kreinik braid, Frosty Rays, Very Velvet, Silk Lame braid and the best bling of all ~ heat sensitive swavorski crystals. There are many crackers to choose from and are perfect for using up your stash or just going crazy trying new threads.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Candy Canes Back from the Finisher

Melissa Shirley has soooo many candy cane options. To me I still think of candy canes as being red and white. Ok, green is ok, and in my town where Aunt Charlottes still makes them from scratch black and red is ok too because black = anise. And I love anise. But for the more adventuresome, creative types Melissa Shirley has collections in green, chocolate and the traditional red and white and maybe even more?

Nancy Faulkner and Heaven & Earth Designs

Always looking the new and different I came across these fully stitched cross stitch charts that could also be done on 18 count canvas for those not discouraged by stitching from a chart. Particularly the Mother and Baby Bear reminds me of the illustrations by Maurice Sendak for Else Holmelund Minarik Little Bear stories. On 18 count they measure a modest 4 1/2" square +/-. Lots of detail, numerous threads and blending of floss plys.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New canvases, week of June 28th: Sandra Gilmore

For those needlepoint stitchers who enjoy doing interiors Sandra Gilmore has many nice ones. Aside from scenes, she does outstanding faces and her designs are reminiscent of gentler times gone by. See all her designs on

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Blue Suit

When I bought the Nimble Needle I found among many books The Very Stuff, of all things in a stitching shop a book of poetry. What was it doing there? Its a book of poems by Stephen Beal based on DMC colors. For the history buffs DMC was founded in 1746 by Jean-Henri Dollfuss. The M comes from his daughter-in-law Anne-Marie Mieg and the C stands for Compagnie). What was remarkable for me was I think the poems are actually quite good! and the fact that DMC is the inspiration is secondary. I enjoy poetry and I'll admit many I don't understand without having someone more knowledgible explain them to me as in back in my college days. However his poems are so visual for me that I get them. I hope you do also. For no other reason than July 4th I've selected one on #3750, a nice blue. Its not one of ones I like best but it is short. Many of my favorites are on reds. But some are long and not knowing my audience i don't want to lose readers. Though maybe around the holidays I just might have to try.

When I Was a Little Boy
I had a storybook about the making of a suit,
a blue suit for a boy who lived in the country on a farm.
His father sheared the wool for the suit from the sheep,
then his mother carded the wool, and spun it,
and dyed it in a vat of indigo.
She hung the hanks of wool on a line
   where they turned the green grass blue as they dried.
Then she wove this blue wool into worsted
   and sewed a suit from the cloth for her son.

Hello, 3750.
The last time we met I was sitting beside Mother,
looking at the pictures while she read me that story.
The first grownup suit I had was blue.
and I wore it to Miss Pocock's Dancing Class,
with white cotton gloves and a blue and red silk tie.
My ears stuck out.
My pompadour was carefully arranged.
I never thought of the contribution of sheep
   to my stylish appearance.
I was learning the foxtrot and the rumba and the Charleston.
I was on my way to being Fred Astaire.
  and I had no patience with the basics of life.

Thus sons leave the farms
for newfangled lives in the cities.
Thus aging men put their feet up
as they consider the joys of long ago.

Stephen Beal, fiber artist; poet and the ninth President of the California College of the Arts.