Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sharon G Needlepoint

Sharon G Needlepoint

I am home from a three week teaching marathon. The next time I need to touch a suitcase will be the early part of January. Then it will remain unpacked till summer.

Classes were in Ridgewood Needlepoint in NJ, Fireside Stitchery in PA and at Needlenook of LaJolla.

It was a fun time and last night I slept for 9 hours which is double the time I normally sleep in two days. I feel good and am ready to play catch up here at the office and studio. Both are in the same room . But it sounds good.

I have some good pictures to post of the finished items and they will also be on my web site soon along with my teaching schedule for next year.

Maybe even a cyber class!

And they will come with stitch guides. I was told by students they are the best stitch guides they have seen. It was a lot of work and years of experience in teaching to come up with a good user friendly format.



Friday, September 22, 2006


A while back I blogged about doing a billion French Knots on Tuscan Cove.

I am all done complaining. As many of you know, French Knots rank right up there with Turkey work as my least favorite stitches. But some times you have to do what you have to do, like it or knot!

I do like the result. When you embellish a canvas and also try to do a realistic interpretation, you limit yourself to a certain few stitches. French knots did the trick with the trees. I called them sloppy French knots since I did nothing consistent. I used anywhere from 2 to 4 strands of silk at one time, blended colors, did up to 6 wraps and came up with good looking trees and flowers.

Maybe a future cyber class? The threads were a pleasure to work with. Except for the roof tops and the border and one color of Splendor silk, the entire canvas was done with Gloriana silks.

I will be showing you a few more canvases I finished over the summer. Many of which I will be teaching in the coming months at several shops. My schedule will be posted on my web site.


Congratulations to Dale Miller

Dale Miller won a ribbon for her entry of Catwalk at the recent ANG Seminar in Tucson AZ.

I am so proud of Dale and also Brenda Hart, who had a hand in selecting the stitches for the winning entry.

Here it is naked. I will post a picture of the finished needlepoint as soon as my camera can meet up with Dale's Masterpiece.

Again, thank you to Dale for spending her time needlepointing one of my designs.

Stay tuned for a photo of the finished masterpiece.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

End of Artist Block in the Nick of Time

Here is what I have been doing for the past few days. I happened to have a bad case of Artist Block. Never happened before. Must have been the gardening I had to endure and the sun on my head!

But I managed to create 6 new exciting designs.

I finally did a Dog Walk to complement the Cat Walk I did a few months ago. I had to include sight hounds. She is walking a greyhound. You can see the elegant Whippet looking back and to the right is my Phyllis, the Italian Greyhound.

Next one is Fish Out of Water. Haven't we all felt that way? This one was fun and the fish were a final thought. I painted some squiggels but did not like them. Then I needed to cover them up. Here comes the black paint. But you could see the metallic shine through the paint so I added some metallic over the black. Then it looked odd. Not that I mind odd. Odd is interesting to me.

Then I got the idea. Paint fish. So I did and now we have Fish out of Water.

I want to stitch this one myself. Bead the fish!

Then I moved over to abstracts. I love to paint them and love to needlepoint them. You really do not have to pay attention to realism, only have fun.

Expresso was fun to paint but I did have a hard time trying to figure out what it represented. I saw a highway, a fence, made the black spot into a building, the arch into a tunnel and the round circle into a light source. I went to make a coffee and tada! Expresso.

The next one is Energy. It almost looks a bit Asian to me only because of the ribbons of energy coming out of the knot at the center bottom.

And the last of the abstracts is called Moon Shine. Not because I drink the stuff, but because I see the moon shining, the wave of turquoise water, the flaming trees or maybe fire coming out of the green grassy earth and the abstract bird. Almost called it Elements.

When I paint, I quite often do not have a plan. My work simply happens. And the 3 abstracts happened.

Now it is back to where I would love to spend a month. In Italy relaxing in a villa overlooking the water. Well, I can dream. And needlepoint my dream.

Now I can concentrate on my packing and try to figure out which black skirts to pack. And which comfortable shoes to pack. Being on your feet on a concrete floor in 3 inch heels is a thing of the past. I have brains now and wear comfy shoes. But if the urge happens, I have nice 2 inch heels which tend to go into the tote by noon.



Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dirt and French Knots, an Out of Character Sunday.

Today I did something completely out of character.

Yard Work.

I am not fond of putting my hands, gloved or not, into dirt which is decayed stuff laced with earth worms. Yes, I love flowers and garden veggies. But, I also love it more when I do not have to mingle with the soil and face earthworms and bugs up close and personal.

This is not a genetic thing. My whole family likes to toss around garden dirt. I have a sister, Geri, who as a child would take earthworms to bed with her, in a container of course. She is still an outdoorsy one and loves camping. Geri is taking her Girl Scouts to Wildwood New Jersey this month to camp on the beach with a few thousand other scouts, sleeping in tents while the saner adults occupy hotel rooms.

Vince's family is heavy duty into gardening. But me, the desire passed me by. More proof I was switched at birth. And now that my Vince is not able to do the heavy duty stuff, I am the delegated digger. I guess it is not all that bad though. I love to complain and whine and make a big deal out of things and today I had a great opportunity to feed my desire. I should have been nominated for an Oscar. Even the neighbors came to watch me fling a shovel trying to dig up the hydrangea. It took me and two men to lift it once the digging around the thing was done.

It had to be moved.

It is further complicated by where I live. Mountaintop is famous for its lack of soil. You dig down a half a foot and hit rock. No matter where, you hit rock. Or water.

I moved dirt, planted strawberries someone gave us before they dried up into unrecognizable mulch, cleared an area of compost and ashes, dug out and moved 2 huge hydrangea bushes, moved more dirt, got rid of countless dandelions, dealt with the sod that was dug up from the areas where things were moved, vowed to get a decent shovel and a wheel barrow that you can push without getting your feet banged up by the legs.

Then it was time to make dinner. Poor Vince was exhausted telling me what to do and not too thrilled he could not do it. Dinner was a simple grilled dinner. The best part was the potatoes. I partially bake a few spuds, run them under cold water, and peel them.

They I take a large piece of foil. Butter up the bottom, layer the potatoes with thin slices of Vidalia onions, sprinkle with Morton's Hot Salt and throw in some butter. Then I wrap it all up into a pretty little aluminum foil package and toss it on the grill. Good stuff. Not really diet food but good. I usually make enough for leftovers for a diner the next day with sunny side eggs. The best darn home fries you ever had. We like to eat breakfast food for dinner once in a while.

So I sat watching the grill with feet up, (Vince does not cook) enjoying a few minutes to read a fun book, George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops, and enjoy a great cup of tea. Jerry Garcia Magic Herb tea. I love tea and this is a great tea. And I enjoy some odd humor once in a while. Carlin is a favorite of mine. Picked up this book in an airport to read on the plane but fell asleep instead. I sleep like a baby on a plane. Or should I say how some people wished a baby slept on a plane. Back to the tea. It is really good tea. I collect tea like some people collect wine. This company has some wonderful tea. You must try the Ginger Peach.


In between the gardening, I was doing French knots on a white poodle. Not a real poodle as a friend assumed, but on one of my canvases, MB39. You can see him here.


Over time, I am getting to like French Knots. However, a poodle in French knots will look a look a lot better than a poodle in Scotch stitch! So I grabbed some of my Gloriana overdyed silk stash and went ahead with the knots. I still have his butt to finish and one leg, then the beady eye and nose and his leash and collar then the background and border. I have no clue what I will do for the background yet. Need to get done with the knots so I can get back to some fun stuff. He is only a 2x3 canvas. I like the little 2x3's. You can finish one fast. I am having this one framed with a larger than normal mat.

I am getting into the mood to design my new line for the TNNA Summer trade show. I always love the pressure to come up with something different in a two week period rather than fretting about it for 5 months. I am thinking about 4x6 postcards of different landscapes. Maybe a few modern things. I enjoy doing those since I am not held into the bounds of realism. Who knows what else? My designs seem to simply happen.

I will post a photo of the poodle in a few days. I also want to post a photo of my Tuscan Cove which is almost done and say a few words about that canvas. I had to take a break on CT10, Tuscan Cove. Yes, the French knots caused me to set that one aside for a few weeks.

In the past few weeks of my cleaning campaign, I finally dug out a path in my Studio.

When they first hit the scene, I was into the Fly Lady routine. That was several years ago. I flunked Fly Lady 101.


So I rejoined and am having decluttering my home. I have been doing the "27 Fling Boogie" at least once a day.

Back to the French Knots, after I water the strawberries.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Happy Belated Birthday Phyllis

I am such a bad Mommy! My precious Italian Greyhound Phyllis had her second birthday on the 4/26. And I forgot! You can see her picture below. She is the skinny one without feathers.

Some days I need to go see the newspaper to figure out what day it is. When you work 7 days a week, this happens.

In spite of my forgetfulness, she had a great day. Vince slipped her a piece of his t-bone steak and I took a nap with her. Later today we will go for a nice walk. Phyllis gets all upset when she is more than 400 feet from her house. I guess she loses the scent of her own yard. I can't smell anything different but I am not Phyllis.

Phyllis was barely 5 months old when she found us. She lived in 4 locations before we took her into our hearts. She is a sweet little 9 lb beauty and fills our days with laughter. Phyllis is a character.

She should not feel too bad. I was in Chicago working for my Birthday. The day later I finally remembered.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Cleaning up my act...or trying to, again.

This is our little girl in her t shirt I just had to buy. Italian grandson's are skinny little things.
These are the girls I often refer to. Lana is the larger one. We rescued her from the Humane Society a few years ago. She is a Spaniel mix and we adore her. Lana is 5. The little thing is Phyllis, our 2 year old 9 lb Italian Greyhound we rescued when she was 5 months old. What a dog! She is a bundle of energy and flies through the house. It is said she can run at 25 mph. Believe me!

And Sam, our foul mouth Parrot who is in his mid to late 20's. We are not really sure. Sam came to live with us in the early 90's from a smoke filled home. He was living in a dark room. Poor baby. He is happy now and will tell you all about it.
Now onto my weekend.

Good way to spend the holiday weekend when you can do whatever you want and not worry about feeding 14 relatives and Uncle Harry overloading on the wine, listening to well meaning female relatives suggesting how to run your house, and the little ones pouting for having to sit at the "kids" table not wanting to eat since they each put down a chocolate rabbit and are now having a big case of sugar overload zoomies, and watching the men negotiate who gets to take an after dinner nap on the only couch.

Then facing the mountain of dishes and leftovers clogging up the fridge for the next week. And clogging up the arteries! Leftovers include 4 green bean with canned fried things and mushroom soup over them that others brought each thinking they were the only ones. I hate that stuff.

Being a household of two has its good points. I made myself shrimp scampi and he had a lobster tail. I frying pan, one pot and a few dishes. Made cole slaw yesterday and threw a salad together. No chocolate bunnies, no hard boiled colored eggs, no ham and none of that green bean/canned fried onion mushroom soup crap. Just us and the girls. Enjoying our dinner on TV trays in the TV room watching some movie called Phenomenon with John Travolta. Bet he did not get an Oscar for that one! I will post a picture of the girls. Phyllis is a 2 year old 9 lb Italian greyhound and Lana a 4 year old mixed up English/Springer Spaniel Mix. And Sam the Parrot.

Vince found a cabinet which looks like it might have come from a kitchen. I really don't care where it came from. It has a Formica top and two doors and two drawers, is in very good shape, smells good,is clean and weighed a ton. I know since I did most of the lifting and draggin it in. Works for me. Perfect to use for a packing/shipping table. Formerly I was using an antique library table and would freak out every time I dropped something on it afraid I would put a ding in it.

I need to put that library table to a better use. Like use it to read books at. One future project is to dig into the book shelves that line a short wall floor to ceiling in my studio. It is a 16 foot wall lined with bookshelves that are double deep. Meaning there are stacks of books behind the books you see. Good insulation!

I spent the weekend rearranging stuff to fit it into its new space. Now it may sound easy for most but not for me because things are piled in assorted boxes and bags with no rhyme or reason in my 16 by 46 foot studio and workspace. Clearing out one corner is more like an archeological dig. And you need to find a new spot for stuff that is not going into the trash. Which means going on another dig in another corner and repeating the same playing "Musical Junk" till you are tired of it and say, "Screw it!" Or words to that effect. And some of the words are quiet effective.

I found some interesting stuff. Several books on getting organized I bought and lost in the piles during the process of trying to do what the books said. I found out I own 2 copies of Mary Rhodes Needlepoint, the art of Canvas Embroidery. I found my other brown shoe that one of the dogs must have hid on me. I tossed the other one long ago so I don't need to wonder what ever happened to the other shoe. I found a heavy duty stapler. I since bought 3 and I know where only one is. I found 3 pair of large scissors. Always losing them.

Found a whole box of assorted odds and ends of no value. A brass incense burner, luggage straps I was missing. Found about 20 knitting magazines that I forgot about since I am not knitting anymore. And even if I was, I hardly used patterns. I learned to knit years go and have designed all my own stuff. I studied pattern drafting back when I was in college and can do that so I knit to a shape. I discovered I love needlepoint more. I found 3 bags of knitting. Spotted 4 Rubbermaid bins of garments, including 3 coats, that need to be assembled. Love to knit, hate to assemble. I know there are 3 jackets in the bins needing assembly.

The 3 bags of Scarves are in progress. I will finish them since I now have 3 nieces and 1 nephew who I have never met. Hope to meet them soon. One is getting married next year. It is good to have family again. Scary but a good feeling. I have not seen them in about 25 years.

Hope they don't think I am the eccentric aunt. Well better than the nuts aunt.

You know the difference. Rich people that are a quart low are called eccentric. Poor folks are simply nuts. Calling me eccentric is a compliment.

I found a small bag of Medici wool, some Flower Thread color cards and color cards for Medici. No sense keeping them. Found some old show books from TNNA dating back to the 80's. Paged through some and found most of the people are no longer around. Like looking through your high school yearbook.

The antique library table is in place, the garbage bags are filled, the boxes broken down for the recycle man, another corner is being worked on.

And the place is still mess. Funny how cleaning makes a bigger mess.

I also wonder why I was saving those little plastic bags of air companies use for packing instead of the Styrofoam peanuts. I had at least 5 big lawn cleaning bags full. Don't ask the last time I ever used one. Could not tell you. I got out a pair of my new found missing scissors and started stabbing those little bags of air to compact them and get rid of them.

I filled up a few boxes of magazines I am parting with. I have trouble tossing old magazines. Yes, you can sell them on eBay but it takes more time than it is worth. And I have a neighbor who loves to read magazines and has no trouble getting rid of them. A good friend, Beverly Bradley, has me in the cleaning mode. Beverly is from LA and yes, Katrina made a mess of her life for sometime. When you lose everything but the shirt on your back, material things you thought were important suddenly cease to be.

So I picked a few categories of magazines to purge first. First is the cooking magazines. My education is in culinary arts and I hardly ever use a cook book. I have over 150 cook books and read them like novels. But when it comes to cooking, I go without. I know how to juggle ingredients and love creating. So, all the cooking magazines are off to new homes. And followed by Oprah, Martha, Health, Vegetarian Cooking and Organic style. And any other odds and ends. Keeping the decorating ones for now.

The dust is flying and my Dyson is in constant use. The room has 4 corners and the adjacent room has 4 corners. I visited 2 of them this weekend. Maybe by the time I collect Social Security I will have the place organized. That gives me about 10 years. Wish me well.

Tomorrow I am going to attempt to finish up the French knots on another tree. More about that in another blog.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Painted Canvas Phobia and the Flush Theory

Recently the ANG list had another interesting discussion. Painted canvas vs. line drawn or charted.

The discussion also migrated into the expense of painted canvas.

That caught my interest, as it always does. As does the expression of fear in stitching a paitned canvas. Hey, they don't bite. Needlepoint canvases are completely deaf, feel no pain and really don't mind if you make a mistake or two.

Painted canvas phobia????????

One thing to remember, it is all in the planning. For years I have been teaching needlepoint and part of what I teach is planning. Remember 4 things. Motion, texture and what level the object is in relation to the whole composition, be it foreground, background or mid ground, perspective.

Speaking of perspective, you have Aerial which is more realistic and Oriental which is flat. Something done is Oriental Perspective might be easier. You really don't have to worry about realism or delicate shading.

You must get the stitch going in the direction of the motion. Remember to keep the higher texture stitches in the foreground and the lower texture ones in the background.

Color plays a big part. The background color should always be quieter than the foreground. Mountains are not bright green. Look out the window. The mountains and hills have grayish lavender cast to them. That is if your mountains wear trees that are full of leaves.

The sky is not a solid color.

Direction of light. A good artist will paint the canvas paying attention to light direction.If something looks wrong with a canvas, do this. Take it to a mirror and look at the mirror image. Often the problem area will jump out at you. If possible, do this in the shop before you bring it home.

When I stitch a canvas, I let the canvas tell me what it wants. I rarely use a book for stitches, although I own a pile of them and some duplicates purchased by mistake. I never claimed to be organized.

I often lay my thread in the direction I think it should go and if it looks right, I plunge the needle. I create my own stitches.

My background was in embroidery. I had a very short lived passion for cross stitch. In about 1970 I was torn between crewel and needlepoint. I still love embroidery but don't have the time to do it. That could be why I seem to use a lot of embroidery stitches on my canvas. I love long and short, random stitches and, heaven forbid, I am even getting to like French knots.

A few things to remember:

Painted Canvases don't bite.

They don't cry and pout if you say a few unkind words to them.

They do cost more.

They are painted by human hands, not machines. Believe me; it does take more than 15 minutes to paint. Some take hours, others a full day and a rug can take several. They are painted by professional artists who must be paid a fair wage. They are not painted in huts in some third world location.

Break it down to cost to you per hour. A $300 purchase might take up to 200 hours to complete. Break it down to about $1.50 an hour. Cheaper than a movie. A heck of a lot cheaper than 18 holes of golf. And, I being the frugal one, often compare it to a nice dinner for two with wine and desert and tip for around $100. Takes about 2 hours to enjoy dinner. Yes you have to eat too but if you do that at home, you can do it for $5. And where does it all go in the morning? Flush.

It is all a matter of priorities.

There are some beautiful geometrics. I would love to stitch some myself but I can hardly find the time to stitch what I need to do for my own purposes. Would have loved to do Pink Champagne. Ro's class is stunning. I like anything Jean Hilton.

The only counted piece I ever designed was the Stitch of the Month Kimono. Did I enjoy doing it? You bet I did.

When I retire...well, I will probably croak with a paint brush in my hand.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Month later

It has been a month since my last posting. After writing that, I feel like I have gone to confession.

What a month. I had a delightful class at Designers Desk in Bloomingdale IL last month. I enjoy visiting Desinger's Desk. The owner, Pat, and her staff are so nice to work with and Pat is such a gracious host to teachers.

So I came home, was in my post travel "coma" for a few days catching up on life and work back at the "ranch". The weather went from bitter cold, snow to 70's and sun.

I have been working on a canvas that has lots of French Knots. Tuscan Cove is the canvas. I have it done except for the knots. Back when I was a kid, I embroidered too many pillow cases and dresser scarves, all with stem stitch, chain stitch and those dreaded French Knots. In my adult life I joked at substituting beads for the knots.

But this canvas was not a canvas where you would do that. It needed knots. Nice neat one and random sloppy ones. Every day I do a few hundred and those trees are blooming! I did have a few days off from stitching. I cut my finger on my left hand, messed up my pointer and thumb on my right hand and on Saturday I burnt my middle finger and ring on the right hand on my oven rack. That should teach me to stay away form the oven!

Aside from not loving French knots, for some reason I also hate to needlepoint with green or brown thread. Have no clue why. But if you are doing a landscape, green and brown colors are part of it. You simply plow on ahead.

So, in a short time I can post a photo of the Knotty canvas.

I will promise myself to post more often. In a few weeks I will be heading off to Dallas Texas to do a small trade show. There are times I really enjoy getting out of Mountain Top and there are times I would rather have 3 root canals without any novacaine. Right now I am in-between on my preferences.

Spring is here. There are robins in the back yard and I can hear the birds chirping away in the morning. Including Sam, my big parrot. He sings right along with them. The trees are starting to look like they are getting ready for another season of foliage. The lilies are poking up through the mulch and the last pile of snow has melted.

More when I get a chance.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

February 5 chaos

Hello everyone! And hello to me since I am the only one who currently knows I have a blog. Well, I hope I remember this one. Not the first blog I did. The others were done and forgotten when I forgot my own blog address.

I am stitching away on Tuscan Cove finishing up a few fields that had me stumped. Finally got unstumpped but am now running out of time.

Story of my life.

I work best at night, sleep best from 3AM till 7AM so I guess I am on schedule. Somehow it all gets done.

So it is back to French knots and figuring out what is next. I love the challenge but wish I had another week. Finally got to like French knots. Guess I had to mature to 55 years old to learn to like them. Have flashbacks form childhood when I did loads of French knots, Lazy Daisy and stem stitches on countless pillow cases and dresser scarves.

Phyllis needs to go out, I need coffee, the wind is blowing the trash cans all over the yard, I have laundry to do, orders to ship, canvas to paint, instructions to write, floors to vacuum, light bulbs to replace in the garage (lights have been out for weeks but I use a flash light to put clothes in the dryer) dishes to put in the dishwasher and tons of other stuff. I have to unpack the freight before I replace the suitcases to go Thursday Morning.

I am teaching in Chicago at Designer's Desk. More later when I get time to think.

Well I have lots of time to think when I stitch but little time to react to what I think.

Someone said it is Super Bowl Sunday. Well for me it was toilet bowl Sunday. I finally brushed the toilet bowls.