Are you ready for this week’s destination on the Threadventure? Great! Hop aboard the Serendipity Express with me and we’ll take our magical virtual vacation tour bus to our next stop, on the shores of lovely Lake Michigan – Chicago!
And here we are! (WOW…that was quick!) 😉
Have you ever been to Chicago? I absolutely adore it! There’s so much to see and do – restaurants (Pizzeria Uno!), museums (The Art Institute), sporting events (Cubbies and Wrigley Field), shopping (The Mag Mile) and more. But the architecture tour along the Chicago River and, of course, nearby Lake Michigan are – hands down – the things that make me smile most when I think about that toddlin’ town.
Over inside the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook group, I asked you to guess what we’ll be exploring in Chicago.
If you guessed rivers and lakes, then CONGRATULATIONS! You’re ever so clever. 😉
In a quandary about which stitches and threads to use for rivers and lakes on your needlepoint projects? Well, fret no more! I have five primo suggestions that you can put to use right away.
Let’s start with rivers, since there’s a really interesting story about the Chicago River that I only learned a few years ago, on one of my first trips to the city. Did you know that the Chicago River actually flows in reverse? Yep – instead of flowing into Lake Michigan, water is fed from Lake Michigan into the Chicago River, which then flows into the Des Plaines River. (Click here to read more about this amazing civil engineering feat.)
The Chicago River flows gently (even though it flows backwards) through the center of the city, so let’s start by taking a look at some stitches that are good for quiet, calm rivers.
Hungarian stitch is one of the simpler stitches to execute. It’s a great choice, if you’re new to using decorative stitches, or if you’ve been away from your needlepoint hobby for a while.
Hungarian stitch is really versatile, too. It’s relatively small (so it’ll fit in tight spaces) and you can turn it on its side and work it horizontally. And when you do that, it really does look like water flowing gently down a river.
Sparkle Rays is a flat ribbon type thread, shot through with a metallic blending filament.
What does “shot through” mean? Great question. You see, several very thin strands of thread combine to create Sparkle Rays; one of those thin strands is a metallic blending filament. When all of the strands are braided together, the metallic blending filament changes position in the ribbon, giving it an overall metallic look. (Think about how a French braid hairstyle is created – same principle.)
Sparkle Rays has 70 vibrant colors and each card holds 10 yards. It’s best for 13/14 mesh canvas, but you can easily use it to work long stitches on 18 mesh needlepoint canvas. Since Sparkle Rays is a ribbon type thread, it helps to use a laying tool (or your finger) to guide it into place. It has a slight tendency to unravel, so use a dot of Fray Check (or a Thread Zap) on the ends to keep fraying to a minimum. I also recommend using short lengths – no more than 15″.
Byzantine stitch creates a strong diagonal pattern. It’s a medium to large size stitch, so it takes a fair amount of space to establish the pattern on your canvas. Use it on medium to large size areas on your projects.
Water N’ Ice is a loosely braided translucent 100% nylon ribbon thread. It’s particularly effective when you use it on painted canvases where you want the painted design/color to show through.
Use Water N’ Ice to stitch ice, mirrors, glass, dew, and frost, as well as water design elements like rivers and lakes.
There are only 18 colors of Water N’ Ice and each card holds 10 yards. Use it for working long stitches, like Byzantine stitch, on 13 – 18 mesh needlepoint canvas.
I also recommend using a laying tool with this thread, so that your stitches lay smoothly on the surface of your canvas. Use a Thread Zap to singe the ends of Water N’ Ice, since it’s prone to unraveling. (Note: I haven’t tried using Fray Check on Water N’ Ice.)
If you’ve never been to Lake Michigan, you really ought to put it on your list of places to visit. It’s ahhh-maay-zing! Let me just tell you, when people say it looks like the ocean, they’re not kidding. Standing on the shoreline and looking out across the lake – all you see is water, water, and more water!
You may flip Vertical Wave stitch on its side, too, and work it as a horizontal stitch, just like you can Hungarian stitch.
Frosty Rays is a stretchy tubular 100% nylon ribbon that has a single strand of metallic thread running through it. It’s available in a whopping 206 colors and each card holds 5 yards. It works well on 10 – 18 mesh needlepoint canvas.
Frosty Rays has a subtle shimmer and it glitters when the light hits it just right. I recommend using it “as-is”, directly off the card. Cut short pieces – no longer than 12″ – 15″. Apply Fray Check to the ends (or use a Thread Zap), since it’s prone to unraveling. Remember to use a laying tool to lay Frosty Rays and pull your stitches taut.
I’m using Flair as a complementary shading thread, for an interesting change in textures. Since Flair is making an encore appearance, you can click here to learn more about it.
Silk Lamé Braid 18 is a blend of silk (72%), rayon (18%), and metallic polyester (10%). It’s actually 4 strands of Splendor and 4 very thin strands of metallic blending filament plied together to create a sparkly wonderful thread. It’s available in 221 exquisite colors and each card holds 10 yards.
Silk Lamé Braid 18 is best for 16 – 18 mesh needlepoint canvas; use it for light coverage on 13/14 mesh canvas. (NOTE: I’m using Silk Lamé Braid 18 to work the long stitches in Diagonal Roumanian stitch.)
Treasure Braid 12 is a 65% rayon/35% metallic polyester 12 strand braid. It’s available in 48 colors and each card has a 10 yards.
Treasure Braid 12 works best on 13 – 18 mesh needlepoint canvas and it’s comparable in both size and finish to Kreinik Braid#12. It’s very sparkly and provides contrast to both matte and high sheen threads. Use it “as is” off the card and use your finger or a laying tool to guide it into place, so that your stitches lay flat on your canvas. (NOTE: I’m using Treasure Braid #12 to work the short tent stitches that “tie” the long diagonal stitches to the canvas.)
It’s a super-terrific option for water of any kind, in my opinion. It’s a small-ish stitch, it’s easy to compensate, and it’s really fun to work, so it’s in my arsenal of “go-to” stitches. Alternating Continental creates interesting texture on your canvas while allowing the painted design to peek through.
First, working from top right to bottom left, execute diagonal tent stitch on every other row of your canvas, following the diagram below.
Then, working from top left to bottom right, change the slant of your stitches and work every other row in diagonal tent stitch. Use the diagram for help with stitch placement and orientation.
Petite Silk Lamé Braid is very much like Silk Lamé Braid 18, but it has only two strands of Splendor and two very thin strands of metallic blending filament.
It’s 92% silk/5% rayon/3% polyester metallic and each card holds 20 yards. There are 218 luscious colors available and it works best for light coverage on 18 mesh needlepoint canvas. You may also use it on Congress Cloth.
Use Petite Silk Lamé Braid “as is” directly off the card.
It’s been so much fun sharing these stitches for rivers and lakes with you.
Now, let’s hop on board the Serendipity Express and hit the road to our next Threadventure destination…
Before you go, be sure and tell me what you think we’ll be exploring in NOLA. (Don’t be shy…I ❤️ hearing from you and I read every single comment. Pinky promise!!!)
Leave your thoughts down below in the comments box and I’ll enter your name into a drawing for a FREE 6 month membership in The Stitcher’s Club, too. Not sure what The Stitcher’s Club is? Click here to find out more. 🙂
Until next time, happy stitching!
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