Thursday, September 12, 2019

This is war, not a garden party!

Let me begin by apologizing for being away, dear readers and stitchers, for so long. Now I probably have no reason to complain. I mean I’m not going through the level of setbacks like Scarlet and Melanie, but sometimes LIFE HAPPENS and this is one of those years where life just keeps throwing things our way. I would complain except I have good friends who have encountered so much worse lately so I will count my blessings and keep my (often big) mouth shut because unlike Aunt Pittypat, I know what’s important. And I think that’s why she is a character I’m so ambivalent about, because she gets wrapped up in “the stuff”... you know the type, they’re all about faux drama. A catastrophic and as I get older I have no time or patience for that kind of nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, I have a healthy respect for etiquette, rules and all that, but to a point. I think Doctor Meade summed it up perfectly when during the taking of Atlanta he tells Aunt Pittypat “Good heavens, woman, this is war, not a garden party!”

After a break from a project for a while, I find the best way to get back into it is to start with something relatively obvious—or obvious to me anyways. The smelling salts bottle is so iconic to Aunt Pittypat... it deserves some bling. At first, I was thinking wonder ribbon but I’m saving that for another area. And I already used Water and Ice for the glass windows so the next obvious thing (to me) to do would be mass beading. I took a class a few years ago and they had us use 2 strands of Accentuate changing the bead thread color to mass bead with clear beads. I’m sure the technique has its merits but after five minutes both myself and my friend I attended with were already highly annoyed...Accentuate stretches and shreds... no thank you! I also recently took a (different) class and that teacher felt strongly about using specialized beading thread to match the bead color. I bead fairly often, a lot of times on a whim so that would require a whole other type of thread I would need to keep on hand which for me just isn’t practical. In the end, I used what I always use for beading, The Collection’s clear beading thread along with their 11/0 crystal (clear) beads. Their beading thread is so versatile and it doesn’t stretch or beak and it is really really strong. Their beads are always perfect. Never any uneven hole sizes, chips or burs. Mill Hill beads are also nice but hard to come by around here. I just love the even look of brick beading in mass. The beads always look so orderly (out pops that OCD again). For the ridge at the top of the bottle, I came up at one edge, fed four beads on my needle all at once and went back down at the other end, I then went back and made a stitch between each beads over one canvas thread and that helped them stand up straight and kept them from bouncing around. For the top knob, I attached a single The Collection sequin in DM4-14 with the same clear bead. In case you aren’t familiar, i did this by coming up in the middle of the round knob, through the sequin, through the bead and then back through the sequin and canvas. There were a few canvas threads that were left uncovered near the knob so I went back in with the purple thread used on the sleeve to cover them up. 

As you may recall, there was a bit of white showing through on the edge of the sleeve. Originally my thought was to attach more lace but now that feels like gilding the lily. Thankfully it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind because I decided to stitch a wrapped back stitch using four strands of Splendor in S803 which is not a stark white but I like it. If you aren't familiar with this technique, you should be because it really comes in handy. All-things-needlework guru, Mary Corbet, created a great tutorial on it which you can see HERE. I highly recommend you check it out, as well as other tutorials on her site.

Since Aunt Pittypat’s hair will be dimensional, I won’t be able to do that until towards the end (and by “I” I mean Fidelis who recently taught a fabulous beards and hair class), so all that’s left is her skin. For the shadowed areas, I used Baked Alaska by Planet Earth, the darker shadow of her chin and around the outside were stitched using Splendor S1131 from the Bronze Porcelains card. For the areas of the lightest highlights, I used Splendor S1063 and for the bulk of skin, Splendor S1083 also from the Bronze card. Her cheeks were stitched in S816 from the Santa’s Rosy Cheeks card. All of these were stitched with three strands which is the usual amount I use on an 18 count canvas.

All that is left now is Aunt Pittypat’s features, but something about how these lips are painted bother me. The smile as painted reminds me of a demonic clown (ask my brother, he will tell you, even as a kid, clowns freak me out — they do him too and he had to carry a gun for work!)... not quite the look I’m going for in a frilly maiden lady so I’m going to make a few subtle changes. First of all, I want a color that compliments her purple dress but not so bright she’ll be confused with Belle Watkins, so I went with a pretty Merlot color of Neon Rays N120. But I have to do something about the shape of those I’m going to make some tweaks. I found the bow of the mouth which luckily is clearly painted, that will be my center. From there I stitched diagonally over two on each side in opposite directions. Then underneath, two straight stitches over one canvas thread in the middle and one diagonal stitch going in the opposite direction on either side to create the bottom lip. If my description has left you confused, which I can’t say I’d blame you, I created this rudimentary drawing to help clarify.  

You might be concerned that there is still some naked canvas where the lips were painted, no need, I just covered them up with the skin color thread. This is an excellent example of why I often prefer working with stranded threads. I know, I know, people don’t want to be bothered... it’s an extra step, I get it, but because I’m covering up a dark color with a light color, I was able to add an extra strand (so four instead of my usual three) and with that no one would never know I reshaped the lips. There are often times I’ve seen nice painted canvases except the facial features are slightly “off”. As long as there is enough room (meaning the head is not too small to make changes), give these a second look and ponder before you buy, sometimes a face can be saved with a few creative tweaks. Like with makeup (or Botox!), don’t be afraid to experiment to create the face you want. 

Since I am not sure what thread we are going to use for her hair, I am skipping the eyebrows for now so all that is left on the face are the eyes which I think really requires a metallic. I’m going to go on record as saying I highly prefer Kreinik metallics to other brands. They don’t kink and I am particularly partial to their vintage line. If it curls when you take it off the spool a light stretch will usually straighten it out. You don’t want it to pop though, stretch slowly and carefully. But nothing’s ever perfect and the only thing I find inconvenient about this brand is the little round labels with the thread size and color number are constantly  falling off! First world problems I know, but it comes into play and you’ll here how... So I can tell you I used a #12 braid Kreinik color 005 - black. And I know that I used a #8 braid color 100 (a white subtle sparkle). But for the blue, I am outta luck because the label is gone like the wind (pun intended, I just couldn’t resist)!  I know it is a #8 Kreinik but I don’t know the exact color. From what I can tell from looking at Kreinik’s website, I think it was color number 684-Aquamarine but I can’t be positive. Anyone who’s ever tried to match a thread using any kind of screen knows how problematic that can be. Mine was a nice aqua/turquoise with a little green twisted in. I like this color because it makes her eyes almost hazel which would look pretty with the purple dress. 

So there we have it. Aunt Pittypat, although bald at the moment, is done for now. Now I get to move on to Ms. Melanie, and I can explain why the older I get, the more I understand what all the fuss is about. 

Until then, keep calm, stitch don’t need silly smelling salts because you got this!