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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Making Santa's Tree Look Realistic

Over a year ago, I started to stitch the tree that Santa is carrying. I found that if I stitched it in random long-and-short stitches using the thread that came in the kit (Thread Gatherer's Sheep's Silk in Forest of Greens). I quickly found that this stitch choice (as I stitched it) ended up looking like a big blob of nothing. Certainly not a tree. Unfortunately, the original photo shows a decorated tree, with too much bling to let me tell how the green was stitched.

Even worse, I found that I had a lot of the canvas peeking through from between my stitches. Since the canvas green was quite a bit different than the green of my thread, this was quite obvious.

Thankfully, Jane (hand-painted canvas guru extraordinaire) from Chilly Hollow made a great suggestion. She advised stitching the entire tree with either tent or encroaching gobelin to cover the canvas before adding the random look of the tree's needles. So I did that. Used encroaching gobelin with floss to cover the whole thing. And the tree's been in that state since January of 2009.

I wanted to wait to finish the tree until the background was complete, thinking that some of the tree's needles could overlap the background stitching a bit. As I mentioned several weeks ago, the background is finally finished. Now there's no excuse not to tackle the rest of the tree.

Back to the long and short. I tried again to use the thread in the kit. I started at the bottom of the tree. I got this far:

It just wasn't working for me. The thread was too thick, parts of it were far too blue, and it just didn't look like evergreen needles to me.

So I went back to the drawing board. What thread would look like pine needles? I didn't want to use a stranded thread like floss - a single strand would be too thin, and laying multiple strands wouldn't look like needles. Maybe a round thread? Well, something like pearl cotton would be too... um... structured. You know. Unnatural. I needed a thread without a tight obvious twist.

The winner was a thin wool thread from The Gentle Art called Simply Wool. I didn't use long and short stitches. Instead, I just kinda sketched in branches with needles using the thread.

It looks somewhat strange in the photo because the needles on the lower half of the branches are slanted in the same direction as the encroaching gobelin. This makes them less noticeable than the upper needles that are slanted opposite to the gobelin stitches. It's not quite as obvious when looking at the actual stitching, but it is there. I don't know how to fix it, but I don't think I really need to.

I may go back with a lighter green shade of wool to add some dying needles, but maybe not. The variations in the gobelin may provide enough depth.

What do you think?


Anna van Schurman said...

Fantastic! Looks great.

Elmsley Rose said...

Looking at the second last photo (which is a bit lighter, so I can see more detail) it looks great - detail and depth.

NCPat said...

I like it and yes, I would add a few lighter stitches here and there. Great looking tree!

Tara said...

It looks really good. I do want to second NCPat's comment, add in some lighter coloured stitches to add a bit more depth to the tree.

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Personally, I think it looks fabulous. Remember, this will be seen from a distance much greater than you see it when you are stitching it. So prop it where you will display it for Christmas and leave it a bit. After you walk back and forth in front of it for a day or two, you'll know if you want to do anything else to it or if it is great the way it is.

I think you did a wonderful job with this.

Jane, waving from you-know-where

Kathy A. said...

I think it looks wonderful. I think you have the needles just right! I hope the rest goes much easier.

Rachel said...

Looks good. Don't overdo the lighter stitches, but certainly putting a few in would help to break up the shape a bit!

Edy said...

Definitely looks like a fir tree to me! I like the way you scattered the needles and the branches so it is not all one depth.

Front Range Stitcher said...

From my view the tree is looking life-like just the way it is. You and CH Jane make a great team.

designer said...

It looks great! Just like an evergreen!