Monday, January 9, 2017

A Design By Loretta Spears (Free Chart from Needle Necessities)

I just stitched "A Design By Loretta Spears" which is a small 1993 design from the double-sided page of instructions I found stuck in the pages of a mystery chart.  I know the original owner of the mystery instructions where I found this chart shopped at Loretta's store, so this was probably a giveaway at her shop to promote Needle Necessities' threads, and possibly was handed out at other shops as well.  I have never seen this stitched or heard of it before I found the chart.  I am going to change canvas count and threads for this, but you can see something closer to Loretta's original by checking Pat's stitched example here. She has also worked this design.


My Colors 

My materials list is much different than what Loretta specifies since I wanted to do an 18 count version.  I chose sage green canvas with a mottled brown pattern which is a specialty item, not something you can easily obtain, but it looks good with my Needle Necessites overdyed floss.  The instructions say to use Needle Necessities' overdyed floss and their overdyed size 8 perle cotton in the same color.  Since I didn't have a perle cotton to match my floss, I choose a solid color that coordinates. I also found a nice Sampler Threads overdyed floss that also looks good with my Needle Necessities floss so I added that to the mix.  I may or may not use it.  We'll see....

If you find these instructions and want to stitch this, choose an overdyed thread with a lot of color changes first, then pick a color from the skein that comes in size 8 perle cotton.  Finally, choose a contrasting color of size 18 needlepoint canvas so the threads will show up well.  You will need a 10 inch square piece of canvas. Here is my materials list for my autumn color version:

My Materials List:
9x9 or 10x10 inch square of 18 count needlepoint canvas (depending on the side margins you prefer)
Needle Necessities overdyed floss #146 "Fall Foliage"*
Sampler Threads overdyed floss "Bittersweet"
DMC size 8 perle cotton rust #919

*If you want to stitch this yourself as I did, substitute ThreadworX's 1076 "Honky Tonk" for the Needle Necessities overdyed floss.  Or pick your own colors.

Center Motif

The first step in this design is to stitch the central motif.  Mine is about an inch and a half square. I used four plies of the NN overdyed floss to cover on 18 count.  A laying tool helps keep the stitches smooth.

T-stitch Using Sampler Threads Cotton Floss (pictured)

Step two is to do T-stitch in a box around the center motif.  I used one ply of my second overdye from Sampler Threads instead of using the perle cotton.  As you can see in the photo, half of each thread strand is more yellow and half is more rust, so I used the yellower half for the regular tent stitches and then the more rust half of the thread for the reverse tent stitches.

Mirror Imaged Jacquard Stitch Rows

The background continues with Jacquard Stitch, done with four plies of the Needle Necessities overdye.  (The instructions say to use two plies but it's written for Congress cloth.)  You do mirror images on each side as you see above.  A laying tool will come in handy.  I worked from the middle of the center up and out, but you may be able to count up from the center and start at the edge.

More Jacquard Stitch Rows

As I've worked this on 18 count and come to the end of the Jacquard Stitch rows, I've realized that you will need a full skein of Needle Necessities cotton floss to work this with as many plies as I did on 18 count.

Jacquard Stitch Rows Done

I have only three full strands of the NN floss plus a few plies left.  So don't start this on 18 count without enough overdyed cotton floss.

Square Rhodes Stitches Underway

The last step is to fill in the empty boxes among the Jacquard Stitch rows with square Rhodes stitches.  You are to use the size 8 perle cotton for this.  Interestingly, the upper left and lower right quadrants have the slanting / stitches worked clockwise while the lower left and upper right quadrants have the slanting \ stitches worked counter-clockwise.  With the solid perle cotton I'm using, the changes aren't too obvious but they may be more so if you use an overdyed perle cotton.

The Final Design

The final piece is shown above.  My final design is 4 3/4 inches square on 18 count needlepoint canvas.  The different ways the Rhodes stitches are made didn't show up well but I like the way the different slants of the Jacquard rows reflect the light and make the outer border flow in a sort of circle.  Very nice design!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mystery #9 Being Stitched Publicly

Pat Miller is going to blog-stitch Loretta's Mystery #9 ("Shimmering Silks") on her blog.  You can follow along by clicking on the links, earliest on top.  I'll update this article as she stitches.  But if you don't want to see the design and preserve the mystery, don't click on the links!


Of course if you want to cheat and see the ending, here is the article about "Shimmering Silks" from the Loretta Spears Design Archive.  Click on the photos to get a better view as Pat works her needle magic.  It's very interesting to see the design develop.  Finished photographs don't reveal the intricacies of this design the way that Pat's WIP photos do.

The thing I notice most from watching a step-by-step progress report is how intricate Loretta's mysteries are.   Photos of just the finished pieces don't show that at all!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Needle Necessities Chart: "A Design By Loretta Spears"

The Needle Necessites Free Chart Logo and Materials List

Recently while organizing the mystery kit giveaway I found a double-sided page stuck into one of the mystery envelopes that didn't belong.  It was a chart and instructions for what appears to be a free giveaway sponsored by a thread company, in this case Needle Necessities which is no longer in business (although their dyer now runs ThreadworX and carries similar colors).  The header of the instructions (reproduced above) has Needle Necessities' logo and phone numbers in Washington State.  The design is copyrighted by Loretta herself in 1993.

Free designs such as this are handed out in needlework shops all the time to promote a thread company's products.  Needle Necessities' defunct website had 5-10 such designs available for download in PDF form although this wasn't one of them I don't think.

The design is on gray Congress cloth using a blue-lilac overdyed floss and matching size 8 overdyed perle cotton.  It features a four way design that is a sort of floral pattern inside a rectangle filled with Alicia's Lace.  The outer pattern alternates a Jacquard Stitch and square Rhodes Stitches.  The finished design is supposed to be wrapped over a styrofoam circle or heart and finished with a tassel using the same perle cotton as the design uses.

A Design By Loretta Spears Finished (18 count)
I am also going to stitch this design but will use a solid perle, overdyed floss, and 18 count needlepoint canvas.  My progress is posted here--

Pat Miller of the Needleart Nut blog also stitched this piece, on Congress cloth and with similar colors to Loretta's original instructions.  The link to her blog is at the bottom of this article.


Materials List:
7x7 gray Congress cloth (24 count)
Needle Necessities overdyed floss #179 "April Showers" (substitute ThreadworX #1133 Summer Shadows)
Needle Necessities overdyed perle #879 "April Showers"  (need two skeins to allow enough for tassel - substitute ThreadworX #81133 size 8 perle cotton)

You can see the conversation table to ThreadworX with photographs here.  The second link shows the current line of ThreadworX perles and flosses very well.


The Finished Design by Needleart Nut

The Needleart Nut is going to stitch this design for me so we can all see what it looks like.  She will use the recommended colors in ThreadworX but stitch on blue Congress cloth instead of gray Congress cloth as that's what she has and she likes how it looks with the overdyed threads better any way.  Here is Pat's first posting about this chart, showing her colors.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Message from Loretta with Mystery 13

Loretta's Kit Mailing Announcement

It has become clear to me that Loretta originally intended her mysteries to be sent out a lesson at a time with the thread and other supplies kit sent along with the first lesson.  I've seen several kits now with a series of 4-5 lessons stapled together separately that appear to have been mailed to their owners separately.  Each lesson has a little sticker holding the pages closed at the top which the owner is supposed to break when it is time to work the next part of the mystery.  I found this note (above) on a small slip of green paper included with mystery #13 "Superstition" from Loretta explaining that due to requests from stitchers, she is sending everything at once so that folks don't miss out due to their summer vacations.

Sadly, Loretta only designed and sold one more mystery after this, and I don't know if it was shipped all together or not.  Still, it is obvious Loretta listened to her students and adjusted plans to please them.


The Origin of the Reflections Series

While checking the contents of a kit for mystery two "Winter Reflections" I discovered a sheet of green paper inserted in the kit which explains due to popular demand, Loretta decided to do a series of seasonally themed mysteries.  These are the Reflections series--mystery three became "Spring Reflections," followed by mysteries four ("Summer Reflections") and five ("Autumn Reflections").  All the designs are the same size and coordinate well together as Loretta explained above.

It's nice to know that Loretta listened to her many fans and adjusted her mysteries to please them.

By the way, the top of the green sheet in the image above was cut off to hide the name of the original owner of this particular kit for privacy's sake.