Ya Gotta Love Red Hots (Thread)


I did a ton of stitching over the holidays. With my deadline in sight, I have a serious case of Git-er-Done fever. My backside would be happier if I could stitch while I’m standing up, but that’s one skill I have yet to master.


The only downside to all of this stitching, other than a sore fanny, is that I’m seeing red. As in a whole lot of Laura Wasilowski’s Red Hots thread. I am nearing the edge of the second huge medallion, and I’ve been going through red thread like water.


Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Laura’s threads. If I were working with solid colors, I would probably be blind by now (or bored to tears…). The automatic color changes of variegated threads make doing hundreds of cast-on stitches a whole lot more interesting.


One of the biggest challenges I’ve had with this project is figuring out how to make stitches meet at sharp points. Sometimes I add a stitch to disguise a less-than-perfect meet-up, but this wheat-ear stitch in Light Christmas Red (DMC) worked out well. (This one is not quite red in my book, but they didn’t consult me about the color name. Imagine!)


I worked from the center of a medallion out to the edge, which is filled with some interesting shapes and big huge dots. I call these shapes my tiny dancers. They are lovely little creatures; but there are 16 of them around the circle, so I have been getting to know them quite well.


The dancers get the international treatment. Portuguese knotted stem stitch for the outline and Italian knotted border stitch for their collar. Such fun!


I debated a lot about all of these dots, but settled on a ring of Palestrina Knots. The look great in the Size 5 pearl cotton.


As you can see, this middle panel has lots (read that LOTS) of red. In fact, I’ve had to order more Red Hots thread twice — and borrow from a friend — to get this done. I’m looking forward to finishing this up with the red so I can get back to my favorite greens, blues and purples.


You’ll find tons of beautiful hand-dyed threads at

For instructions, patterns and tutorials on stitching, head over to and check out Mary Corbet’s How-To Video page. Lots of good stuff there!

If you are new to stitching, but live near Alexandria, MN, check out the Contemporary Stitching 101 Class at Dawn’s Quilt Shop. That’s where I got my start!

What Is Your Favorite Stitching Site?

Do you have a favorite go-to website for information on hand stitching? I have discovered and Are there any you would add to my list?

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  1. Mary Corbet on January 8, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Thanks so much for the mention, Shelly! WOW – this project is amazing! I like the little dancers. Isn’t Palestrina stitch the best? It’s one of my favorite textured line stitches. The project looks like a lot of fun to work – but huge! – and yes, I know what you mean about the posterior problem…I think we all suffer from it at one point or another! I may have to check out this thread you’re using…….it looks delicious.

    • Shelly on January 8, 2015 at 10:25 am

      Hey Mary! It’s great to hear from you. I love your blog and your stitch tutorial videos. They are priceless! This is a really large project. I started the design work a year ago, but it feels like forever now! I’m looking forward to seeing it finished — and doing a huge happy dance! 🙂

  2. Leanne on January 8, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Shelly…I LOVE what you’re doing in those swirls…is that crochet? Actually…I love all of it. It inspires me. =)

    • Shelly on January 8, 2015 at 10:27 am

      Thanks, Leanne. This has been tons of fun. The stitch on the swirls is a cast-on stitch. It’s worked on a needle, just like casting yarn onto a knitting needle. (On a very tiny scale.) After all of the hours, I’m inspired every time I sit down to stitch. It doesn’t get any better than that!

  3. Helen on January 8, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I love how this works, but learn best by being shown. Is there any place in the Twin Cities (MN) area for this???

    • Shelly on January 8, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Helen. Unfortunately, I have no idea of where to point you in the Twin Cities for a class similar to Jean’s Contemporary Stitching here in Alex. You do, however, have some awesome needlework stores that may have classes to get you started. Start with a call to Stitchville USA near Ridgedale. Also, check with local quilt shops to see if they are doing any stitching classes. Finally, look for things like Sue Spargo’s block of the month program at Sue does amazing stitching on wool folk art quilts.

  4. Lou Ann on January 8, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Shelly, what is the name of the “blue fingers” product, for sore finger tips, that you learned about in Houston? With all the stitching that you have been doing I would expect you to be able to give it thumbs up or down!

    • Shelly on January 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Hi Lou Ann. Here is a link to my post about the “blue fingers.” I definitely give these a thumbs up. I can stitch at least twice as long in a day using these as I don’t have to grip the needle so hard to pull it through the fabric. They run smaller than I expected. I like the large size. I would like to see them add an extra-large.

  5. Dale Ricklefs on January 8, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    BEAUTIFUL handwork, Shelley. We don’t see much of that these days.

    • Shelly on January 9, 2015 at 10:05 am

      Thanks, Dale. I appreciate your note. Hand stitching (more than hand quilting) seems to be making a comeback in the quilting world. I see a lot of it in the folk art and primitive pieces. Since my work is more on the contemporary side, the hand stitching takes on a whole new look. I’m thrilled with the way it looks paired with my painted images.

  6. Etta on January 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Shelly, what are you going to do for the quilting? It is cool

    • Shelly on January 9, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      As little as possible! (I’m smiling…) The quilting will be minimal. All outlining and a little filler in the few open spaces. I don’t want to distract from the stitching.