Saturday, March 19, 2016

Casaguidi anyone?

Yep, many of us love our Pinterest where you find lots and lots of needlepoint ideas...and it's where I was first turned onto Mary Corbet's Needle 'N Thread stitch tutorials.  If you have a needlepoint board on Pinterest, you've probably pinned many of her Stitch Play tutorials and probably pinned the Casaguidi stitch, but most likely have not stitched it.  It's very challenging...the sort of thing that most of us want to try but alas, generally do not.  We admire it but might be a little afraid.  

Here is the tutorial link for this fascinating stitch - also called the "Really Raised Stem Stitch" on Mary Corbet's site:

My tendency is to down-play the difficulty of a stitch, but in this really is a challenge.  First of all, it's got four steps that build on top of each other and unless you are just using this in a straight line, it's curvy and tricky to execute.  However, having said that, it is a tad more forgiving and "easy" than I actually expected.  

I knew I wanted a pretty background on this camp ornament and a high-relief stitch for the camp "brand".  This camp logo has been around since I was a girl - generally represented with a rope that forms the CM shape and has also been recreated in a James Avery charm that we campers love very much. 

I used this gorgeous Gloriana over-dyed silk for the background stitched in Double Hungarian.  The color is called Tropical Sea and is a blend of my favorite color shades:

I stitched the entire background first.  If you follow my stitching, you know that I love to use cotton rope as a padding for raised stitches.  Most often I just satin over it with a flat thread and it turns out lovely.  This Casaguidi stitch requires you to heavily but smoothly pad the entire shaped line as a base for the stitch, so my trusty cotton rope was the obvious and perfect choice.  I carefully couched it down with white beading thread as you can see below:

Next, you have to cover the entire thing in satin stitches.  I wasn't sure if any of the base would show through the finished stem stitch, so I used a flat sparkly silver thread (Fyre Werks) which nicely covered.  And then I hoped that it wouldn't snag too much as I worked the stem stitch on top - but it seems you'd have that worry about any thread really. I got this far and started asking myself, "Really, Suzanne?  What were you thinking?"  and "Maybe I should have started with a short straight line?  Or maybe practiced it at least once?"...LOL

But really, I probably should have started with a small centipede or something and probably should have done so on a practice canvas instead of a real one that was important to me...I have to say that until I was completely finished, I was prepared to just cut from the back and remove the entire thing!  I worried the whole time.  But I charged my usual daring way.

The next step is to add "bars" across the satin stitches in 1/4-inch intervals.  You will use these to anchor rows of stem stitches.  If you look closely at the picture below, you can see these "bar" stitches on the M-portion.. The C-portion has been completed with the rows of stem stitch. For these steps, I used a pretty Gloriana Perle called Blue Heron - a silvery-gray color. 

You just pack row after row of stem stitches until it's totally full.  It's not perfect, but it's a keeper - after all that work, I certainly wasn't ripping it out unless it looked awful.  While I can see a few imperfections and a snag or two, especially in high-resolution close-up photographs (sigh), it looks pretty nice in person.  It's definitely different than anything I've ever done.  I really did enjoy it and it didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. I just worked on this part for two evenings - the laid background took longer.  

Here is the completed piece:

What an adventure to step out of the comfort zone...and fun to actually try one of those crazy Pinterest items!  Hope you enjoyed this...please don't look too close. 



NCPat said...

This is lovely! Nice work!

Suzanne said...

Thank you, Pat. :)