This patriotic lighthouse sits in New York Harbor. It’s the “Little Red Lighthouse” of the famous children’s book. The canvas is from ABS Designs.
I’m republishing this column to wish you all a Glorious Fourth!
Besides the sky in my lighthouse, there is another interesting thing about this design. Except for the metallics and the black, the entire canvas was stitched using hand-dyed and overdyed threads.
Many stitchers avoid using these threads for painted canvas, but I have come to prefer them. They have the advantage of combining shades so that the shading work is done for me when I pick the thread and stitch.
But they have the disadvantage of being loud, often combining more than one color (for the sky this was good,but for the lighthouse it would be bad).
Effective choice of thread color, stitch, and technique are key to making this work.
Begin by looking for your thread. Most of the time you will want colors that are shades of the same color. These can be very close (like the threads for the brick) or more varied (like the threads for the grass and trees). By picking semi-solid threads you will get realistic shading. Few things in nature are random combinations of different colors.
Once you have picked your threads, look at them in conjunction with the areas on your piece. Some things, like pavers on a patio or walk, can have great variation, but others, like a tree trunk or a brick wall do not. Use threads with more variation in areas that would have more variation.
You can see this by looking at the grass and the trees. The grass is closer and has more variety. Because the trees are on the other side of the river, the colors are darker and more muted with less variety. The piece would look odd if the threads were reversed.
Pick a stitch that suits the item and the area. Stitches have texture and, just by themselves introduce texture. You can use this to enhance your threads. The process is the same as choosing stitches using solid threads, but these threads will reinforce that shading.
Finally your technique will make a difference. Look at the grass and trees again. Both are Tent Stitch but they look very different. The grass was stitched in Continental in horizontal lines. The trees were stitched in clumping a technique where small groups of stitches are made (tomorrow we’ll have a how-to about this technique).
The thing I love best about these threads is that the end result is always a bit of a surprise and, almost always, better than I thought it would be.