Monday, June 25, 2018

“What gentlemen says and what’z they thinks is two different things....and I ain’t noticed Mr. Ashley asking for to marry you....”


Some of the best advice on men I think I’ve ever received! (haha).... but there you go, right from the get-go you know two things, that Mammy knows the ways of the world and that she’s got Scarlett’s number... and does she ever! Poor Mammy has probably been tying to corral her since the day Ms. Scarlett was born and with the likes of this southern belle, that’s no easy feat! What was brilliant about Mammy’s character is not just her bluntness (and ability to somehow get away with it) but Hattie McDaniel’s facial expressions were so marvelous, there are many times she has no dialog at all but you know that she knows just what Scarlett's up to. And while we’re talking about Hattie McDaniel’s acting, it’s no wonder she won the Oscar for best supporting actress. It was truly monumental at the time, it being the first Oscar awarded to an African American acting professional. If you watch her acceptance SPEECH, few rival her grace and humility. She didn’t JUST win an Oscar, she won it the year film critics consider the best year ever in film, 1939. When you look it like that, it puts her on a whole other level.

Unfortunately though, Mammy is in the background on this piece, similar to her position in many scenes, so she can’t be center stage like at the Oscars. We’ll have to excise restraint. I hate that. Why can’t she stand out you ask? Because “it ain’t fittin, it just ain’t fittin”... sorry I couldn’t resist! 


For Mammy, I started with her dress. I’m so glad this canvas designer made it a more lively shade of blue than in the movie. I used the same DMC Floche #800 as we used for Ashely’s vest. Which reminds me of a good point to keep in mind, when your canvas has as much going on as this one does, don’t think you have to use every crayon in the box, feel free to repeat colors across different areas of a piece, it adds a subtle consistency. Like Rhett mentions when talking about the war, “I hate waste”, so why get a whole other color thread when what you have already used works. I stitched Mammy’s dress in a scotch stitch, then a square of basketweave the same size as the scotch, and then the scotch again. I checkerboarded this pattern in rows working across. I didn’t invent this, I have seen this stitch around. I don’t know it’s name, but I do know it’s a handy pattern to have on hand because it isn’t overly boxy but adds a little interest but not too much. I then used Vineyard, C-153 Baltic to stem stitch the shading of Mammy’s dress.

After the dress, I stitched Mammy’s face and hands using three strands of DMC 840 for the bulk of her skin and DMC 838 for the shadowing/shading. So Fidelis has a thing about hands, it is often difficult to get them just right. Remember all the issues I had with Bonnie’s hands?! If you missed it, you can read about it HERE. Since Mammy is in the background, I decided to keep it simple and just basketweaved her hand as it was painted. The thing is, you can’t have everything stand out, otherwise nothing does because you don’t know where to look, so you have to choose your battles. Besides I wanted attention to go elsewhere—more on that in a minute.

Mammy’s eyes are so expressive, they needed to sparkle and shine, I used Kreinik 032 white with iridescent sparkle and 005 in black, both of which are #12 braids. The single black stitches on the furthest left hand side of each eye is a cross stitch to emphasize that “side eye” Mammy so naturally gives. Mammy’s mouth was painted white which I thought looked off. It didn’t make sense to me and thought it looked awkward so I stitched it in Vineyard Caviar which you will hear about later. Which is another good point, if you see something that seems “off”, if it’s a small area, just change it. Your instinct is probably right!

Next I tackled Mammy’s scarves. The neck scarf was stitched using Pepper Pot Silk in Salt 02 with Diagonal Mosaic and Reverse Diagonal Mosaic stitches, similar to what I did with Ashley’s vest actually. I needed something to follow the direction/angle of the scarf and this works but doesn’t overwhelm which is important especially given my plans for the headscarf which I wanted to be the one thing that had a little something extra for this character. After all this, my brain needed a break so I stitched the black background behind Mammy in Vineyard Caviar C-161. I love this color because it’s black with an undertone of blue in it. I decided to go with skip tent because it’s not too dense and I didn’t want the area to get too foreboding or heavy looking.

Mammy’s headscarf was another adventure altogether. Once again I’m back to “do as I say, not as I do” because normally I skip any areas using silk ribbon and tackle them at the end (after stitching, beading and any 3D appliqué) but for the interest of the readers I am breaking that rule and completing each section at a time (Scarlett’s dress was an exception and you’ll find out why towards the end of this project)To make the headscarf more approachable, I mentally divided it into three sections. You could even use a dressmaker’s chalk pencil in light blue or an air erasable pen to help you envision the sections. I then used the Pepper Pot (color Salt) silk thread to pad by making some long directional stitches. You could also use white pearl cotton or even floss but this thread was already in my stitching bag. Keep in mind that any padding stitches should stay one canvas thread inside the area, otherwise you could run into issues trying to cover them up and why make things more difficult for yourself. Here’s what the padding stitches looked like:



Now that we have our shape in, I then used Planet Earth White S002 7mm silk ribbon and stitched right over the padding. A personally like a nicely laid ribbon, I know other people take a more relaxed approach to ribbon claiming the twisting is part of the charm but in this case, I want a smooth almost tight look here so it is time well spent to lay that thread. Notice the ribbon in the middle section is abruptly vertical. Google images of Mammy and you will see why that center section needs to be on top so stitch the sides first and even go into the center section a thread or two (depending how you did your padding), this way you don’t need to worry about gaps in the center section when you do your vertical stitches. I am pretty pleased with how it came out, if I do say so myself! Don’t forget, a little crinkling of the ribbon will make it look more authentic, so you want a nice balance of laid, relatively taunt stitches but not too perfect looking.

Next I went onto the windows. I really like that the designer, Labors of Love, simply shaded the windows. The lines in the panes of glass helped me figure out which direction my stitches needed to slant but I wanted long and short and light. . . enter Kenan stitch again. I have never used this stitch before yet here I am using it again already. . but it feels so different in this application! The painting on these windows is very well done so I used Water N’ Ice WT2 (Water Blue) and WT1 (Transparent Ice /clear) shading as it was painted and it came out even better than I had thought. Water ‘N Ice is another thread you have to lay, and it does shred a little — ok more than a little— let’s just say it shreds, OK?! But there is nothing else like it on the market, at least not that I know of anyways, and it is EXTREMELY versatile so it is a good thread to have in your arsenal. And did you know that it comes in 16 COLORS?! I didn’t! My head is swimming with ideas. The blue, pearl ice and clear  are obviously perfect for water, ice, snow and glass but think of the Flame Red and Flame Orange for well fire, or the Rain Gray for raindrops obviously but also for smoke, and the black for anything witchy (boots, hat, cauldron) or any kind of leather-Santa’s boots and belt perhaps... ooh or any of the brighter colors in varying combinations for a stained glass window... the possibilities are as endless as your imagination so keep these specialty threads in mind.

Once my panes of glass were complete, I started with the window frames. With areas this shape and size I like to do a Diagonal Long Stitch Horizontal\Vertical Stripe (as appropriate) which is basically like a super long Cashmere stitch diagonally over three that you just keep going to fit the area. I used three strands of white Splendor S800 (again you have to lay stranded threads but it makes all the difference) and for the gray part of the window I used Splendor S947 which is a gray with a touch of blue to it. This is the same gray I used for the stripe in Ashley’s shirt. Again, peppering a color throughout a canvas to create consistency so it doesn’t come out looking like a dog’s breakfast.

And here’s how Mammy looks once she’s all stitched up:


 And with that we have completed our spotlight on Mammy. Hopefully we did so with more subtlety than the rustling red petticoat given to her by Rhett. I will say she is defiantly one of the more memorable characters! 

We seem to have hit about the halfway mark...And what happened to Fidelis? I though we were going to share the work... hump! Well maybe she’s like Mammy and is going to stay in the background. That being said, it will be a surprise to me too on which area we are going to work on next so don’t forget to subscribe (and tell a friend, or two or three!) so you don’t miss a single bit!

Until next time, take some advice from Mammy and don’t show your bosom ‘fore 3:00!
(Thank you Turner Classic for this AWESOME meme.)


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

“Frankly my dear.....



....I don’t give a damn.” One of the most famous movie quotes in history, by the time you get to this line in the movie and Rhett finally says it, you just want to stand up and cheer! Finally someone tells Ms. Scarlett they have had enough! And like I said in my last post, he’s my favorite character because he just doesn’t take anyone’s crap! But most of all he’s a survivor above all else and that really appeals to me.


If you know anything else about Rhett Butler, you know that he looks sharp as a tack so I want to impose that with my stitch choices. We already stitched his jacket and skin tone. Now what to do with the color of his shirt? It’s a small area and I wanted the fabric to look like a small check, so I stitched in a skip tent pattern but as a cross stitch in Pepper Pot, color Salt 02 and by doing the stitch as a cross stitch, the stitch appears more square reinforcing they checkered affect. To stitch his eyes, I used a Kreinik (brown) metallic #12 Braid 002. The pupils of Rhett’s eyes on this canvas were painted all black. I thought it made him too sinister looking so I replaced a few stitches with the brown metallic to slightly soften the look. I stitched the mustache and the eyebrows in long and short style diagonal stitches in DMC pearl cotton 5 in black (310). I like the contrast of using a different thread for facial hair than the hair on his head.

Rhett has that dark and handsome thing going on and he has that unflawed jet black hair. I really wanted it to look dark, thick and slick. When you want that dense look in the best thin in my opinion to use is Rainbow Gallery’s Flair. I used black (F501) and just more than a touch of light gray (F591). While we only need a touch of the light gray — and we could have done without— it makes him look distinguished and it helps break up that expanse if black so it’s not too one-note. Similar to how I stitched Ashley’s hair, I found my part line and drew a line with blue dressmakers chalk (which is in a pencil form). I then stitched long and short in both directions leaving the vertical row for the part unstitched/empty. I stitched down the right side first then I worked from the top down on the left side in the black. Once I got to the silver streak, I had both colors going in separate needles at the same time. I will often do this as I find it an easier way to shade. Remember though to maintain good thread management so you don’t get tangled up on the back side. Once I stitched the bulk of the hair, I then went back at the end and stitched tent with the black Flair over the empty vertical part row. I find black much more forgiving when doing hair. It’s so dark and dense it hides a lot of stitching flaws so if you’re cautious about trying “Flair for hair” (I love how that rolls off the tongue), I recommend trying it in black for your first attempt.



As soon as I saw the flower in his lapel, I knew I had to stitch it as a woven ribbon rose. I think it’s rather busy how it’s painted but if you use the right ribbon and simplify, it could really be a feature. When doing woven ribbon roses, you need the appropriate sized ribbon and a matching thread—floss or pearl cotton is fine is that’s all you have but silk ribbon is just luscious. You probably won’t see your thread but having a decent match helps disguise it if it peaks through. I am using Planet Earth Fiber 4mm ribbon in the color Lollipop 011 which has a little over-dyed edge which will look especially nice once it’s woven into a rose. Using 3 strands of DMC 3687 I made a circle of 5 “spokes” in a circular pattern. On smaller flowers you can use 3 or on a larger you can do 7 or 9 but it has to be an odd number so that’s your most important take away. You don’t want your spokes too loose or too tight, remember these are going to create your petals and you don’t want them so tight they over wear your ribbon. Below are my spokes:



Attach your ribbon in the back either by burying it under existing stitches or piercing it with your needle and come up one canvas thread from the center. I tend to like to work clockwise but you can work in either direction as long as you keep going in the same direction. You then go around the clock weaving over and under, over and under. Keep going round and round and as you do, manipulate the ribbon a little so you get some nicely shaped petals. Once the flower seems pretty full, keep going until you make sure you can’t see any of the spokes’ thread and when you are satisfied with your rose, poke your needle under a fat nice petal through to the back of the canvas and end your thread as your normally would when working with ribbon. And here’s my finished rose.
  

If my description wasn’t detailed enough, Sarah Homfray has a great instructional video HERE. If you aren’t familiar with Sarah, she has taught for the Royal School of Needlework and is an enormously talented embroidery teacher. Many embroidery videos can be easily converted to needlepoint especially if you aren’t afraid to pierce the canvas (there isn’t a law against it you know), so if you ever want to try a new to you technique and can’t find a needlepoint video, I highly recommend looking at embroidery videos to help just remember you want the idea of it not the exact science (because this type of needlework work isn’t).

While we’re on the subject of silk ribbon, let’s work on that ascot. Now men’s fashion is not usually my thang but in reviewing some images of Rhett’s character, he has an array of neck adornment. Traditional ties, bow ties and neckerchiefs. I’m going for a broad silk necktie look, not to be confused with the narrower necktie that we’re used to today. To get the effect I am looking for, I decided to use River Silk ribbon in 10mm in color 310. I stitched a couple of long directional stitches about half way down and then long directional stitches on top of those to fill in the length. The stitches that go only about half way provide subtle padding and help with coverage towards the top. With a ribbon this wide, keep a light tension, don’t pull the ribbon to much, let it breath and billow on its own but don’t let it twist, use a laying tool to lay it flat. I prefer one with a rounded tip, not sharp for ribbon work. Then I used The Collection Designs Swarovski Flatback crystal in color 3700 6mm color Crystal which is a gorgeous irredentist purple/pink/green with a single The Collection Designs miyuki size 11 seed bead coincidentally enough in color crystal as the tie tack. The colors in this crystal are perfect for the look I want. It is subtle without being garish, just what it needs. And while I am mentioning The Collection Designs (also know as Embellishing Plus for their crystals, beads, etc.), they also make an awesome beading thread that is totally invisible, yet it’s very strong, and absolutely will not break or stretch. I originally purchased it for beading, which it’s great for, but I also use it for couching especially when I want something to appear to just float on the canvas or if it’s a heavier component, it’s what I always turn to. I would normally wait and do my ribbon and beading as the last components of my design but I’m trying to work in sections for the sake of the blog readers so do as I say, not as I do.

My version of Mr. Rhett is now complete. I think this is the perfect example that proves you don’t have to do anything outrageous to bring a character to life. He looks pretty damn (there’s that works again!) suave, if I do say so myself!


We are chipping away at our Gone With the Wind canvas and like the ladies in the mid-afternoon at the barbecue, I need a nap, although I guarantee if I snuck out, I would not be whipping a vase at Rhett’s head! I’d sense his presence anywhere. Who will make their presence known next? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

“Heaven help the man who ever really loves you”....


Bet that wasn’t the quote you thought I was going to lead in with, but it pretty much sums up the whole story. When I think of all the unforgettable characters in Gone with the Wind, Rhett Butler has got to be my very favorite. I mean a lot of us are attracted to the bad-boys but he’s not just that, I think he’s multi-faceted in comparison to many of his fellow characters. Let’s face it, everyone else is pretty consistent. Scarlett is selfish, vain and completely self absorbed, Ashley always his wishy-washy idealist self, Melanie the sweet, angelic one and Mammy’s just trying to keep her attitude at an appropriate level. But Rhett, on the other hand, one moment he’s bringing trinkets to Scarlett (and in the book to Miss Pittypat and Melanie too) another a hardened blockade runner but in the midst of a sinking south, he’s the only character with the gumption to tell it like it is — whether you're going to like what you hear or not. In some ways I find him more gentlemanly than the illustrious Ashley, at least he respects women enough to be honest with them. Let’s look at all the great one-liners Rhett has, shall we?
 
I mean those are some unforgettable lines! My personal favorite is the one about being kissed and often and by someone who knows how...wooh whoooo, Miss Pittypat pass me your smelling salts for I dare say my knees get weak at the thought of it!!! If you’ve read the book, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do, there are entire characters in the book that are missing from the movie, Rhett’s wardrobe is portrayed more like a dandy, wearing bright snappy colors and always the latest fashions for Paris, so I’m going to keep that in mind and amp up that purple ascot. His stature in the book is also much bigger (more Cary Grant than Clark Gable actually), but I digress.... I decided to start with his suit jacket since is the largest expanse of his outfit. I wanted something that looks almost knitted so I went with Vineyard Merino in Pale Honey (M-1189) and Glazed Ginger (M-1191). This thread has a tight twist so as you stitch you want to let the needle fall and relax that twist a bit. Because this thread has so much texture, I wanted to keep the stitch relatively subtle, the look of a light tweed and Kennan stitch fit the bill perfectly. The empty space within the stitch leaves a little breathing room to show off the character of this thread and keeps the thread from appearing too heavy. It’s slightly loftier than I would normally use on an 18 count canvas but with that bit of breathing room it works. 
 
When you use lighter coverage stitches you need your thread to be a really good match, otherwise you need a stitch with full coverage. This is kind of the situation I ran into with Scarlett’s bow shown below. I know I’m going to put silk ribbon over this area, so I stitched right over the bow and assume that the silk ribbon on top is going to cover enough of the green you don’t see it peaking through the stitch and even if it does you won’t notice because of the bow’s shadow. 


This is why you can’t stitch areas in a vacuum, because as much as you think each area is their own, they aren’t, the piece is layered and you have to approach it that way. I don’t want to have to deal w this area again later if my silk ribbon bow doesn’t completely cover, might as well fill it in completely now and prevent potential headache later.

With Rhett being dark and handsome, the thread pallet we’ve been using for the other characters’ skin shading won’t do. Rhett is slightly darker, more tan, so I’m going to use the Splendor color card in Bronze (as opposed to porcelain, like the others) to help with shading. I know I’ve talked about the Rain Gallery thread cards before but seriously, having so many skin shades in a single card is so convenient. Choose the correct card for the tone you’re using and it’s like half the work is already done for you. For Rhett’s skin I’m using three strands of colors S1085 for the outlines of his face, S1131 for the shadows, S1085 for the checks, S1083 for the highlights, and S1098 as the majority of his skin tone. I’m using all the colors on the card except the darkest one at the bottom. 


If I do say so myself, the colors for Rhett’s skin are spot on, I especially like the blush color which isn’t too pink. You may notice a little something going on with his nose, as I was stitching, I took one long stitch diagonally down the length of his nose from the upper left to the lower right and then basketweaved over it. It’s a quick and easy way to add just a subtle padding to the peak of the nose. I don’t incorporate this on all of the people I stitch but I felt his nose didn’t have enough definition color-wise, again it’s subtle so I’m not sure if you can even notice it in the picture but sometimes the smallest changes are enough to add a bit of character. Here is that subtle padding before it was all covered up (sorry for the bad quality photo).

And here is our Rhett thus far.:

Next time we’re going to deal with Rhett’s hair. NEVER a strand out of place, even while saving dames in the middle of a burning Savannah. And I’ll finish off his other facial features, mustache,  boutonniere and ascot....oh, what to do??? Don’t you worry your pretty little head, I have some interesting ideas in mind, but like Rhett at the political discussion at the BBQ, I know when it’s time to take my leave.....for now....

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Until next time.....

Friday, December 8, 2017

Whipping it up!



As if Bonnie Butler’s story-line wasn’t tragic enough, Bonnie has been giving me a run for my money with this canvas. You remember the saga last time of figuring out what to about her buttons, well the drama continues! I had some moments of inspiration followed by challenges and then some wonderful victories, so the journey has been all over the place, similar to Rhett and Scarlet's marriage come to think of it.


The next component I wanted to tackle was her fabulous whip! I’m hearing that Devo song in my head. . . “Whip It, Whip It Good!”! Right off the bat, I knew I wanted to somehow pad it to give it some shape. You can use all kinds of things for padding, felt (popular in goldwork and stumpwork), Q-tips (both the ends and just the cardboard center portion are great for walking sticks, staffs and all manner of stick like items), and pipe cleaners are all popular choices, but none of these seemed quite right, and then one day inspiration struck. For my regular job, I work a traditional office job and one day I was in our coffee station getting a cup of Joe and it dawns is me, our black mini-straw-like coffee stirrers might be exactly the ticket, and I was green, I literally washed the one I used and brought it home. I cut it to length and tacked it in place at a few different points using black floss and then used Rainbow Gallery Patent Leather in black (PL1) and wrapped it and the canvas underneath to fully hide everything. At both the top and the bottom I had to go around the end first and then up over the top to smooth it out. I will admit that this thread was easier to use than I had expected, however, this being a flat thread and having a back and a front, you have to lay it on both the front and back of your canvas to keep the correct patent side on top so the thread is not twisted. A word to the wise about using this kind of material for padding. This straw is plastic. All along I have had every intention of framing it and given the techniques I'm doing that won't change but if you were planning on doing this technique or an ornament or or a stand up or a pillow, make sure you give your finisher a heads up so in case they iron it, the plastic doesn't melt. It hasn't happened to me, but better safe than sorry. 




Now that the handle is all wrapped, I couched one strand of Kreinik #12 braid 005 (black metallic) above for the straight line above the handle section (which I have since found out--thank you Google-- is call the fall) and back stitched the part you would hit the horse with (which is call the popper). Black Metallic is one of those thread I highly encourage you to keep on hand, even if you don’t have an immediate use for it. It’s great for all kinds of areas from pupils of eyes to wrought iron fences. I wanted some dimension too so off to the local craft store where I found this cool leather cording in the jewelry making section of Michael’s (if you don’t have or like to support big box stores, your local beading stores might have this as well). I only needed a little but I can think of alot of potential future uses so I don’t mind having the left over in my stash. I cut a few inches, widened the holes on either side of the whip, fed it through and then created an over-hand knot to make it really fly off the canvas and cut it to the desired length. The center of this leather is actually brown at the cut areas so here’s that OCD-ness again so I used a sharpie and just touched up the ends. So now I’m going to say to do as I say and not as I do. You might want to hold off on the leather cord until the end. I’ve been catching stitches on it. I’m fine with it because I wanted you to see the affect, but it might slow you down, so feel free to hold off on that last bit of leather cord.


Now what to do with the whip handle going through Bonnie’s hand which I determine  has a glove on it. I knew I wanted to use Neon Rays N22 because it’s the perfect color and with so much texture already going on with Bonnie’s ensemble, why not guild the Lilly and go with rayon thread! First I made 2-3 long verticals stitches for padding to the left of the stirrer/whip handle. I then wrapped the handle/stirred similar to how I covered the handle only one canvas row to the left and stitched in horizontal stitches all the way to the right following the painting of the canvas. I then basketweaved the remainder of the hand/glove.

From this point is where the plot thickens. (Cue the drama!) The next thing I did was use a slightly darker shade of two strands of Anchor Marlitt (which has been discontinued) to make long stitches to give the appearance of dividing lines of the fingers.  This was an epic fail.


When that didn’t work, I took those out and then stitched bullions with my Neon Rays. I have successfully used this for a Melissa Shirley small Santa. That time it worked because the scale of the hand was the same as the bullion. So bullions are not ALWAYS a bad choice, but when I tried it this time, the scale was too small, so that didn’t work. I also tried doing two bullions and wrapping the two together, Neon Rays being a rayon, it kept snagging while I tried to wrap them and quickly became a complete mess so that wasn’t working either. What a disaster! So now what??.....


At this point, it’s late and a school night and I’m tired, (and aggravated, don’t forget about that), so when in doubt, take a deep breath and take it out what you’re unhappy with and give it some more thought in the morning with a clearer head. So for my above mentioned “real” job I have a long commute of over an hour by train and then subway both too crowded for stitching, but built in time to stew—I mean strategize—about my next stitching move. I have long known that stump work often uses wrapped wire for the base of fingers and hands. I found a nifty video online demonstration how (which you can see HERE) but it was more involved than what I needed... but it provided great inspiration. What could I use that would be about the right scale, be easy to work with and easily accessible? Thus enters the humble wire TWIST TIE! Yes, as in the kind on your bread bag. Coffee stirrers? Twist ties? I’m sensing a kitchen theme afoot.

We all have that jar or drawer full of twist ties and elastics and such, I got lucky and had several red ones. If you only have white ones and they have an outer layer of paper (not plastic), you could use a sharpie to make them any color you need (if you do this, make sure you tell your finisher, sharpies have been known to bleed so word to the wise). My ties ended up being a tad too thick, so using tweezers and a pair of my not-best embroidery scissors, I trimmed them down to size by taking a little off both sides and cutting them to the desired length. Using a stiletto/laying tool to open up the holes in my canvas, I maneuvered my wires through the canvas and folded them over to the back. I let them sit slightly off the top of the stirrer so they had a little loft, threaded up my Neon Rays and came up one canvas thread in from the wire and proceeded to wrapped the twist tie laying my Neon Rays. Neon Rays is a flat thread so you want to make sure your thread lays flat as well as you wrap, you might need to manipulate the thread. Once I had it wrapped, I re-pierced the canvas and went to the back, buried my thread and then wrapped my twist tie ends down to my stitches on the back making sure it didn’t get too bulky back there and then trimmed the extra twist tie as necessary. And then I repeated these steps three more times (wait, you may think I’m missing a finger, ohh but I’m not because when you hold something, your hand is in a fist so your thumb is in the back, so we won’t see that - the devil really is in the details!)



Now that I’ve gotten through all these challenges, I was happy to start basketweaving Bonnie’s face. The main skin tone was stitched with Pepper Pot’s Tippy Toes #194, the darker dividing lines was Pepper Pot’s Scallop #035, the shadows on the neck was stitched in Pepper Pot’s Baked Alaska #192 and there are a few highlight stitches down the bridge of her nose, above the blush on her left cheek and under the mouth in four strands of Splendor S1147. Her cheeks were stitched with four strands of Splendor’s S816 (third color down on Rainbow Gallery’s Santa’s Rosy Cheeks card) and her lips in Neon Rays N22. Her lips are a little bright but they are in my inspirational photo too, plus I think it helps tie in the gloves and feathers in her hat so I went with it. And below is our completed Bonnie.

























It’s funny, I hadn’t imagined I could fit so much technique into little Bonnie, but I guess I did, how fun! So now what area should we tackle next? You’ll just to stay tuned and find out next time. If you haven’t subscribed to our blog, please do so and encourage your friends (and importantly, don’t forget to click on the activation link to finalize your subscription). If you run into any issues, feel free to leave a comment along with your email and I’ll get back to you.



Until next time, Fidelis and I wish everyone a magical holiday season!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bonnie Blue Buttons...I mean Butler!

Last we met I had stitched Bonnie’s jacket with Petite Very Velvet and left you with the promise that I had something cooking and I don’t mean no vittles. Ever have this happen? You get an idea in your head, it sounds easy enough. You gather the necessary materials are pumped up to go through with your hair-brained scheme and then PHOOM, you fall on your face! Well maybe not as dramatically as Scarlett entering a roomful of gentlemen, but you get the idea. It all started in this wonderful little shop that had adorable mother of pearl buttons for doll cloths, but they’re not the right color, but wait, I’m feeling creative, so assume I can cover them! With what? I’ll think of hat tomorrow.... well, turns out “tomorrow” is now today... so I covered the button with 13mm silk ribbon, the same color as in Bonnie’s hat, Victoria colored Pepper Pot silk ribbon. I was quite proud of myself actually it wasn’t so bad to do, but then I attach it to the canvas and as much as I want to, I can’t deny it, the scale was too big, at least I thought so (as did my closest & oldest stitching friend). They also had a high shank so they sat high off the canvas. So now I think “OK, I have crystals, I’ll just use those”. Yeah, right, they’re round and small, so as I work with them, they go flying across the room like Scarlett after one of her sister’s suitors. Plus no matter how hard I try, because they’re round, I can’t hide the mechanics of my stitches on the back, and it’s too bulky. Now I’m beyond aggravated because it’s been an entire evening of fruitless work!! But the crystals are a gorgeous matching dark blue, so I throw my hands up in despair and think they’ll just have to do. One would think the story ends there but clearly you don’t know me like you think you do, usually that is not my method of operation. So the next day after I’ve calmed down a bit and more (obsessive) thought, I decide the crystals aren’t right because it’s a riding jacket, again with the day wear rule (eye roll). So I remove the crystals and find smaller clear doll buttons. These ones are at least two millimeters smaller and don’t have a shank, so they’ll sit flush on the canvas.  

After my many failed attempts, let me tell you how I finally accomplished my task.. First you need teeny tiny doll buttons (mine were clear 5 MM buttons), a sharp needle, 13 MM or 17 MM silk ribbon (I used 13MM but you could also use a scrap of fabric but let’s not muddy things shall we) and matching thread (I used DMC floss). Cut an inch or two of ribbon and place your button right side down centered on the ribbon. With knotted thread, go through one hole of the bottom of the button, pierce the ribbon and then down through the ribbon again to go through the other hole of the button. You have to almost feel the buttonhole since you can’t see it. You are now at the bottom of the button. Now fold in the short edges of the ribbon and pierce one side of the ribbon and then the other as close to the button as you can (make sure you are not piercing the ribbon on the side of the button). Then making sure the button is relatively centered (I found this the trickiest part), twist the ribbon relatively tightly, but not so tight you mange the ribbon, twisting it up close to the bottom of the button. Then use the thread to pierce the two long lengths of twisted ribbon making 1-2 small holding stitches again as close to the button as practical. Now use the thread to wrap two times around the bottom of the button to hold the twist and put in a few stitches as close to the button as possible to securely hold everything together and close any gaps. Using sharp scissors, trim the access of ribbon as close to the stitches as possible. Important: Do not cut the thread—including the long one your needle is attached to—if you do, it’s going to unravel like a house of cards. If that happens, you HAVE to start all over again. I assure you, there will be no saving it, I’m talking from experience here....and this is how it looks after it’s been wrapped and trimmed (sorry about the photo quality).

With all the steps above you always want to pull your thread through gingerly while still keeping everything tight, any bulk is going to hold the button off the canvas. Also different brands of ribbon are different weights, and the weave/weft sometimes get pulled out of being square, even though you want it relatively tight, be kind to your ribbon so it doesn’t look like it’s been put through the ringer. 

You will now need to think about spacing your buttons. I find a good set of pins with faux peal tops is a great way to test and figure out spacing. In the photo below I was toying with the idea of a top button, I nixed that idea but it may come up again at the very end of the project, we shall see, but the point is the same, using pins is a convenient way to visualize what is going where and  save time or possible aggravation later.

 

Once you have your placement figured out, pierce the top of the canvas where the button to going to go, on the back of the canvas come up one canvas thread away and go through one hole of the button and back down the other (as if you were attaching a regular button) and repeat so you go through both holes twice. Now come back up to the top of the canvas under the button but not piercing the button or the ribbon and wrap underneath the button from the top 1-2 times and go back through the canvas. This will help any mechanics if you can see them. For extra security, I take a stitch through the stitching already on the back of the canvas and catch the loop like you would with hand sewing and I do this twice for good measure (or because I’m OCD — twice is always better than once in my book). These suckers are never coming off! And speaking of OCD, as you attach the other buttons keep in mind you probably want to attach them with the line between the two button holes consistently either horizontal or vertical, for a more polished look.


Now that I was able to bring my hairbrained idea to fruition, please don’t get me wrong, there were alot of failed attempt and more curse words than would be lady-like to admit, so if you try this yourself remember patience is a virtue. These will be a labor or love, but I’m sharing my saga—I mean story, — with you because I want to encourage you to try something different/new, even if you don’t know how it’s going to work out. If you can invasion it, there has to be a way to bring it to life on your canvas. Sometimes it’s that you don’t have the right materials or the right skills, but keep persevering. Go to other forms of needlework for inspiration, try different techniques, ask a stitching friend, eventually you will figure it out. I would be embarrassed to tell you how much time I spent plotting and practicing these buttons. I probably wasted an entire yard of ribbon, but in the end I’m happy with the results. To me it’s worth it because not only do I now have a new skill in my back pocket, but I also didn’t want to hate those crystals every time I looked at my canvas after it is all framed. If something doesn’t “feel right” to you, you will probably never be happy with it later. It is one thing to take some time to see if it grows on you, but before you go for finishing, if you still do not like it, take the time to change it, especially if it’s a piece you’re keeping for yourself! 

For such a little character, Bonnie sure has garnered a lot of attention — must have gotten it from her mother—but next time we’re going to get her finished up. Until then, please share this blog with your stitching friends. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving and happy stitching! 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Feeling blue. . .

I’ve been feeling blue this week. Not depressed kinda blue, more along the lines of little miss Bonnie BLUE Butler. So as I mentioned in my last post, I’m using Petite Very Velvet. I’ve shied away from this thread in the past other than in small areas because usually my stitching aesthetic is that I really enjoy seeing specialty stitches and this thread is so plush, it almost amasses itself into fabric once stitched, but luckily that’s the look I’m going for! One thing I love about this thread is even if there are little errors, it won’t even be noticeable so that’s a bonus.


At first I thought I’d stitch her coat using brick over two but it’s looking way too stripe-y for my liking. We don’t want her looking like a prisioner of the confederacy now do we? Here is a perfect example of knowing when a stitch is NOT working. 


What I do need is a stitch that lends itself to shading but is relatively small and forgiving so I went with an old classic, Encroaching Goblin... like most old movies, it’s a classic for a reason, it WORKS. The owner of B.F. Goodstitch, Fidelis, and I have had this conversation many a time....new, fancy (I think of them as “sexy stitches”) are great and all that but it’s the ones that actually work that you keep going back to again and again, and there’s no shame in that game. I’m using V644 for the deepest saturation, V660 for the bright highlights and V634 for the bulk of the blue. Sometimes I even write this on the card it comes on and I find it really helps. 

A word about interlocking/encroaching stitches, alot of my students struggle with them. Many stitch diagrams tell you to come up at the area where the interlocking sections touch, many new stitchers (or stitchers new to special stitches) find this very difficult/awkward because they often don’t have a clear hole where they’re coming up because it’s almost under the previous stitch. I find it’s often easier to manipulate your stitch to come up further away (usually in a clear hole) and then go down through the canvas in the area near the interlock from the top of the canvas where you can see what you’re doing and if you can’t, this allows you to slide your thread over a little so you can see. Its fine to stitch a specialty stitch in a different direction than charted but I caution you to be consistent within the same series of stitches for a host of technical reasons I won’t bore you with.

So as you will see in the following photos, I went over the collar and buttons. Don't be alarmed, I often do this for a couple of reasons. First if I’m attaching anything, I will often stitch over that area, so if the attachment ever falls off, at least there isn’t a naked spot (goodness me, how scandalous!). Second, I’m doing something fabulous with that collar but I need to be on top of those stitches, so I’m going to do my technique on top of the stitching.

After a lot of delineation, I decided to do a loopy detached buttonhole in a #8 Braid Kreinik number 100 10M.  Why a Kreinik? The simple answer, weight. I want this thread to have a little heft to it but not be bulky, especially since it’s on top of velvet. I don’t want anything floppy and too fine, but anything heavier than a #8 would be too much (at least on an 18 count canvas). 

Never done detached buttonhole? Don’t be nervous, it’s pretty easy actually and I think a big bang for your stitching time. You can stitch your baseline in chain or backstitch. I went with backstitch since I want to keep this relatively simple. You don’t want your baseline stitches super tight but not too loose either, about the same as if you were planning on wrapping them. You then come back up through the hole of the end of your baseline and you make like you’re wrapping but you want to catch the stitch.... like this:


And you keep the “wrap” relatively loose and the nice thing with a Kreinik is it almost naturally curls. So here’s a little secret about me, I sometimes cheat, except I like to think of it as a helping hand.... I kept pulling my loops too tight when I went to do my next stitch pulling the previous stitch’s loop, so I strategically poked a stainless steel pin in each stitch and then when I did the next stitch I moved it, so it like followed me across the row. This is a great trick
if you’re having issues with tension and you can’t get your loops about the same. Necessity is the mother of invention! You continue this all the way across and you can go back to where you started and keep adding rows by using what you last stitched as your new baseline if you like...I’m not doing to do this because I really do want to keep it relatively simple. Make sense? If not, I may not be not articulating well. If you’re a visual learner, pop over the Mary Corbet’s YouTube HERE, as she has a great tutorial (these are shown as embroidery but most of her videos can easily be applied to Needlepoint). And here we are so far:



So I was going to show you the rest of what I’m going to do with little Miss Butler but I think I’m going to save that for next time. And don’t worry, I didn’t forget about her buttons. I have a couple of ideas I need time to work out, all of which I can catch while I’m working other areas so I think I’m going to try a few things and attach them towards the end where they won’t vex my patience. Like Bonnie Blue who had been waiting for her father all morning (before that fateful pony ride) I’m going to keep you wanting more, so that’s my cue to stage left.... Until next time, we would be ever so appreciative if you would please spread the word about our blog. Pass this along to your stitching friends or those who love the movie as much as we do. If you haven’t already, please consider signing yourself up to receive updates—new post delivered right in your inbox—and don’t forget to verify your subscription by clicking on the link in the verification email!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Feather in my cap!

Today I'm focusing on Bonnie's beautiful chapeau. The movie costume was made of velvet (which I never understood, I mean they're in Georgia) so that's what I'm using, Petite Very Velvet from Rainbow Gallery in numbers V664, V634  and V660 which are the perfect hues for this very famous outfit. I usually use Very Velvet very sparingly as it often appears heavy but for this piece I am probably going to use it in two large areas which will be a first for me, but the subject matters call for it and thankfully the areas are in opposite corners so they will balance out the heaviness within the piece. 



Today I'm going to concentrate on her hat. I find it helps to start with an inspirational photo and I used this one below.



I started with basketweaving the deepest blue (V664) which is the shadow on the bottom and then backstitched to outline the edge. I have been dying to use some ribbon lately and this gorgeous Planet Earth Silk Ribbon fit the bill perfectly. It is 7mm and the color is called Victoria (I would have named it Bonnie but what do I know?!). For me Ribbon often involves a bit of futzing (yes that's a technical term) and I tried to balance laying the angled satin stitches and getting some pretty pleats. This color is an overdyed so that really helps create depth. Using the medium blue, V634, I then stitched diagonal mosaic in the left hand blue portion of the hat.

Now how to tackle those feathers? I knew I wanted to use this beautiful Access Commodities Wire Check Purl #5 in Melon, MET 1607. I'm going to warn you, it's a "slippery little varmint" as Bonnie's mother would probably call it. If you don't have the patience to deal with purl, I would suggest memory wire as a suitable substitute, but like Ms. Scarlett, I'm always up for a challenge so oh yeah, I went there! 



I thought of curse words I haven't thought of in years because you have to treat this product delicately, with kid gloves. You can slightly stretch it to make it less springy or even purposely over stretch it (and twist another thread into it) if that's the look you want but once you do so there's no going back. You can use a matching thread that you have run through beeswax to couch it but I used The Collection Designs' clear beading thread because it's one of my favorite products. Once you have this invisible/clear beading thread in your stash you will find tons of uses for it and at a generous 100 yards per spool, it lasts a very long time-- I'll be using this again on this piece, I'm sure. So I cut the purl to length in mini-sections and went through and applied it like a very long bead and then strategically couched it down to manipulate it into place dividing the feathers into sections. If you have a very long piece you want to attach, you could always try using those bullion needles we talked about last time. "WARNING WILL ROBINSON," watch your couching tension, one swift, too-forceful tug and you'll crimp/deny the wire and ruin the purl beyond repair. Just take me on my word on this... Full confession: a decent amount of purl ended up in the trash... I don't anticipate using purl again on this piece but I do intend to practice using this product-/like Bonnie practiced her pony jumps-let's hope I have less tragic of an outcome.  Here is a photo of the purl, before I started with the Fuzzy Stuff.



After that, I went back and did long directional stitches, random long and short, using Rainbow Gallery's Fuzzy Stuff FZ13. You may notice there are two colors painted in the feathers. I decided to use the painted lighter color to help me with placement location of the purl but I only used one color Fuzzy Stuff because between the fuzz which also includes a little shine/sparkle and the metal purl, there is a lot going on already, no need to further gild the lily. Using a clean tiny comb (brand new, I save this one just for needlepoint) which was originally designed to separate lashes after you apply mascara, I did a little fluff job. I normally use a wire nap brush for fluffing turkey work and the like, but did I mention the purl is as delicate as dew on a magnolia?? I think I did, so I dared not catch it on the purl so I went with something I can better control. Sometimes restraint is most efficient in the long run. And below is the result.



Next time I'll be working on Bonnie's outfit. My mind is racing with ideas for that lace....and what to do for those teeny, tiny buttons??? Until next time, I'm gone with the wind.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Don't get bull about bullions. . .

Bonnie Blue Butler, it's a very strong sounding name for a fragile little girl. The original "daddy's girl". It's difficult to think of her without associating her with her character's tragic end, but we'll think about that tomorrow. Beyond her being the apple of her father's eye, she was also her mother's daughter in that she was simply beautiful, again with the gorgeous skin and hair, those amazing ringlets! So knowing what we have in mind for Aunt Pittypat's ringlets (I say "we" but as you may remember from my first post, it's GOING to be Fidelis who does that!), how do I stitch Bonnie's hair to give it justice? After much debate I kept having the same thought.... Oh, no, it can't be.... It can't be.... Fiddle-dee-dee, there must be another option???  Dare I say it? Bullions!!! Oh bully!

Bullions can send shivers of fear down the spine or even the most serious and advanced stitcher, but not too long ago I decided to get over it and try and tackle this sometimes elusive stitch. First of all, the most useful materials I've found about bullions is Mary Corbet's video on Needle N Thread. Yes, I realize this is an embroidery site, but the stitch is the same and I have learnt so many technique from Mary. If you haven't spent significant time on this site, I highly recommend you do. I am also a big believer of tools... In general I love stitching accoutrements and going to the trouble of getting bullions needles really is worth it in my opinion. For one thing the eye of the needle is the same width as the rest of the needle making it easier to pull your wraps through, for another the extra length or the needle helps with longer bullions so your wraps don't keep falling off. I suggest getting a package with assorted sizes so you can experiment and find what's best for the situation at hand. I used the 3 1/2 size and I will admit they were a bit too big, I probably would have been fine with the next size down, but this worked fine. I used the ones put out by Colonial Needle and if you go to their website they also have instructional videos which is a nice bonus. 


Some other things to think about, don't wrap the needle too tight (or too loose....it's kinda like Goldylock's bed) and after the last wrap, I give the wraps on my needle a quarter twist in the opposite direction of the  direction I wrapped, hold the wraps firmly but don't squeeze and pull your needle through. I personally do the little quarter twist because I tend to me a tight wrapper and I find it just helps. And most importantly, do NOT be afraid. Even if your bullion looks really messed up as your pulling, just keep holding and pulling, I have saved some really dire bullion knots and had them come out just fine in the end... sometimes you have to finagle a bit by putting the needle under the knot and running it back and forth sometimes even with a little tension and then re-pulling it to help smooth it out. Bullions are used a lot for natural things like hair, flowers, fur and quills, none of these things are perfect in nature so don't over analyze your bullions, they're not "imperfect" they're "realistic". 

For Bonnie's hair I used Vineyard C-042 Dark Earth and really packed them in. I even had to do some bullions almost on top of others, but I wanted a certain look. I followed my "hair rules" that I wrote about in my previous blog previous post by breaking it up with a few directional knots and then filling in.


In our next episode we're going to focus on the mark of any proper Southern young lady (besides her manners that is), her attire, so if you haven't subscribed, please consider doing so and you'll get our next edition in your inbox!

Monday, June 5, 2017

When tomorrow is NOT another day!


There are times when projects just get away from you. You have the best of intentions, but then another project or deadline comes up (for instance, Christmas finishing deadlines are approaching – consider this your un-official reminder – some LNSs and finishers have deadlines now of 9/1 but I’ve heard 7/31 so inquire if you’re unsure) or you just need to have a mental break and stitch on something “brainless” for awhile but then you look up and miraculously a month or [gasp] TWO has somehow gone by. . . it’s like time is just “gone with the wind” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and you haven’t stitched a single stitch on that other project. I don’t often procrastinate but when I do, I hear Miss Scarlet’s “Tomorrow is Another Day” quote in my head . . . but what do you do when that tomorrow just doesn’t come?! My boss at my 9-5 job often says “tomorrow is the busiest day of the year” and he’s absolutely right about that but unfortunately there’s not much you can do, you can’t go back and recreate yesterday. All you can do is cut yourself some slack, put the project back on your needlepoint stand and get back on track. One thing I often do when I get stuck or stalled – they are often related I have found – is pull some fun threads/beads/ribbons/crystals and start determining a stitch for the next few areas I’m going to tackle. Doing so is often enough to rekindle my excitement. . you know like how Miss Scarlet somehow has a new found interest in Rhett when he brings her a new bonnet back from Paris. . .  kind of like that, but not QUITE.

Unfortunately while I’ve been sidetracked, you all have been waiting with breath that is bated to hear about the results from the giveaway from my last post! I’ve already kept you “waiting on me” (as a northern, I love that southern phrase) for far too long . . . so with no further ado, the winner of the magnet and needle case is JUDY FORD . . Judy, please reach out to me at annecarrsalem@yahoo.com with your snail mail address and I’ll pop it in the post. Enjoy!



So in my next post I’m going to be talking about Scarlet’s “mini-me”, Bonnie Blue Butler. . . I promise to have tips and tricks in my next episode. If you don't currently subscribe, please consider doing so to get updates delivered right to your email inbox. In the meantime, I’ll need to stop “thinking about it tomorrow” and get to stitching because “tomorrow is another day”.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Oh Ashley, I love you, I love you, I do"


Everyone remembers "that beautiful love scene" as Rhett refers to it a few moments later (after a vase is hurdled over his head I might add) that profession of love between Scarlett and Ashley that repeats in periodic scenes throughout the movie. It's the first scene where we get a glimpses of what Ashley Wilkes is really made of. Excuse me if I'm underwhelmed. I've devoured the book and I've seen the movie hundreds of times but I still can't wrap my head around what Scarlett's infatuation is all about, why didn't he just cut her loose right then??... but we wouldn't have such a great story I suppose... but that being said, it will be interesting to see how my personal lack of enamor for the "elegant Mr. Wilkes" plays into my stitch selections. 

He certainly can't stand out like Scarlet does. It's during antebellum after all, we have to let the ladies steal the show! It wouldn't be gentlemanly otherwise. Luckily though this character is pale and always seemed to fade into the background so I'm going to respect that and keep him true to character by stitching him in a rather quiet way to balance out the ladies. 

I used a much paler shade for the bulk of Ashley's skin; Vineyard Conch C-136 using  Splendor S896 and S1147 to highlight and define his skin and S1149 for his cheek color. Speaking of skin colors, if you haven't acquired the Splendor skin cards, I would highly recommend seeking them out. There is Blush which is what I pulled from on this and Bronze color ways (which we will see later). They are a must-have in my opinion for anyone stitching people regularly. It is so convenient for shading to have so many flesh-tones on one card and the colors on each coordinate so well together so it takes a lot of the guess work out of choosing shades.

His lips were stitched with four strands of Splendor S1041. I tent stitched them and then wrapped them but I wasn't satisfied with how they turned out so I wrapped them again in the opposite direction.

His hair is stitched a similar way as we stitched Scarlett (you can read about that HERE) using Vineyard Snapdragon C-049. 

Ashley's shirt is stitched in white Splendor S802 doing a Cashmere stitch to follow the shape. The collar is stitched in a skip tent using the same white Splendor. The shirt stripes are stitched in S947 and I first stitched one long stitch down the entire stripe coming up in the bottom left and going through the canvas at the top right of the stripe and then basketweave over that long stitch, this gives the stripe a subtle lift. The vest is stitched with three stands of DMC Floche 800 in Diagonal Mosaic and Reverse Diagonal Mosaic and I used Steel Grey High Luster Kreinik 010HL using French knots for the vest buttons. The tie is stitched using Neon Rays N01 in brick stitch over two. There again, I played with stitch direction to add dimension and the knot area of the tie is vertical brick and the two sides were done in horizontal brick. 

Now this brings me to a decision, what to do about the areas where one element goes into another shown in the areas circled below.



On the left Scarlett's hair bow will be in front, as will Melanie's veil on the right. I will be doing the hair bows in silk ribbons when I am almost done the entire piece and the veil will be something fabulous but I don't want to reveal my plans just yet, but I want it to be on top of Ashley's suit jacket so I'm going to stitch the suit jacket right on top of both areas covering them up and keep a photo to reference so I know what goes where later on. First, I back stitched the outlines of his lapels and wrapped the back stitching using the Neon Rays N01 and then the bulk of Ashley's suit jacket was stitched using Splendor S889 in Byzantine #2 (from the book Stitches for Effects) stitch on the left and then I reversed the direction on the right-hand side. Playing with direction is a very easy way to add some dimension and interest without making the piece too busy and it is an interesting way to visually break up areas that are the same color or stitched in the same thread. 

So going back to the beginning of my post about Mr. Wilkes, when I think of him, I usually associate him with books, maybe it's because that first love scene with Scarlett seemed to be in a library. My second favorite book happens to be Gone with the Wind and although I read it digitally, I have a much loved edition that just so happens to look like my magnet I mentioned in a previous post. And what is that saying about what you love you have to give away?? Well, in the spirit of that saying, I have a magnet and a matching needle case that I'm going to give away as a set. How do you win them? Please comment below on who your favorite Gone with the Wind character is and why, please also include your email address. Contest closes at 4 PM on April 7th. On April 8th, everyone's name will go in a bowl and one of our needlepoint students at B.F. Goodstitch will draw the name of the winner (it could be you!). The winner will be contacted by email. Duplicate comments will only be entered once.

See, you never know what's going to happen around here so please consider subscribing so you don't miss any of the fun!