Cross Stitch Ramblings


Fairies Update

The fairy is progressing slowly. All I've worked on so far is the little one. I've done the face, the dress (unless there are some little bits which merge with the surrounding flowers, one arm, and about half of the other arm and legs. It looks like a bald plastic doll with empty eye sockets at the moment, a bit scary! Never mind..... its progressing well enough.


Colour Concern

A little way into the Apple Blossom Fairies I felt alarmed.

The colours on the chart pack are pastel, almost wishy washy. The colours I was stitching were much brighter, almost brassy. I checked the original CMB painting the chart was taken from and the colours are much closer to the ones I am using, which is a big relief! I wonder why it looks so different on the chart though? It is a possibility it was old stock and had faded on the packaging, or maybe it was a bad print run, who knows? I believe DMC have since discontinued this chart since I don't seem to be able to find it on the internet any more, and Sewandso were selling them off at 75% off so I can't compare it.

Anyhows, I feel more relaxed about it now.

Whenever I have done fractionals in the past I have just done the quarter stitches in either corners. The charts for the dragon & castle, & Father Christmas, never said anything about 3 quarter stitches, and the other half of the cross was usually filled in by a back stitch anyway. But this one says to do 3 quarter stitches and they're bothering me a bit. I'd rather all the top stitches were lying the same way but thats just not possible. Still, I guess it will all get obscured by backstitch in the end.

I don't intend to rush this project like the last two I did. With both the butterfly fairy and ballerina I felt compelled to finish them asap and was not really enjoying doing the stitching. This one will take a while but thats ok. I might intersperse it a bit with some of the mini kits I have in my 'to do' pile. I hate having so many projects waiting to be done!


Apple Blossom Fairies

It took me a while to find the Piglet kit. When it wasn't in the first place I looked I decided not to bother with it after all and start on the Apple Blossom Fairies. In the event I actually found Piglet before I found the chart and fabric for the Fairies but my mind was made up by then.

This one is going to be a real challenge! Not only does it have masses of french knots but it also has bags of fractionals and frequent colour changes. Just the way I love them! This one is probably going to take me a loooong time....

As I'm working from a chart rather than a kit this time I decided it was finally time to sort the 100 or so new skeins of thread I've bought over the years for one project or another into the thread boxes on bobbins with all my other threads. It really is too much like hard work rifling through so many skeins to find the next required colour.

It took me about 4 hours this morning to sort them all out, with some sporadic help from my daughter, who, as expected, got bored with winding thread very quickly. Most of the time was spent untangling knots. If there is a special technique for winding skeins onto bobbins without creating knots I still haven't discovered it after having wound so many threads. I do have this little thread winding gadget but can't remember how to use it, if ever I did know in the first place! I'm very impatient with gadgets. A few months ago I had a spate of buying DMC thread off ebay,  I'm always out for a bargain. I would turn my nose up at any that were already wound onto bobbins but after this mornings experience I think I've changed my mind for if I ever go thread hunting on ebay again!

I spent the whole time I was winding and knot unpicking wondering what I would run out of first, bobbins or space in the box. In the end, with about 10 skeins to go, it was bobbins, and despite searching through all my various boxes, & cupboards for stashing cross stitch materials, no more materialised. A trip to Hobbycraft tomorrow is in order! Besides, I discovered I'm short one colour on this Fairy project, which has turned out to be quite an important colour and its going to be difficult to go much further without it.


Ballerina Finished!

Finished in 3 weeks.....hmmm not bad.

My husband says I have done a good job but he doesn't like the colour combinations and he thinks the face looks deformed. I laughed when he said that, its better than crying! I think it looks effective from a distance, although it is far from my favourite finished project.

Photo to follow!

Piglet to be finished next, I wonder where I put it........


Moving Swiftly On.......

The ballerina is starting to look like something other than a blob of pink stitches!
I have finished the bodice, both arms and about half of one leg. It seems to be moving on very quickly now I've gone beyond the skirt although it has to be said I am spending an inordinate amount of time on it, to the expense of the housework, ironing etc....
I have been trying, and so far failing, to get some pictures on this diary/journal etc. A diary about something so visual as cross stitch really needs pictures but my computer, which is feeling quite unhealthy lately, does not seem to want to communicate with the camera. It really needs a Doctor, in the person of my computer expert big brother, but he will be away on holidays for the next couple of weeks so unless I can figure something out without him the pictures will have to wait until he's waved his magic wand at the computer!
When I've finished the ballerina I want to get the little piglet finished, although at this moment I'm not entirely sure where I put it!
After that, it is my intention to tackle the Apple Blossom Fairies. This is a larger DMC design apparently 'for the discerning needlecrafter'. Why I've chosen this one is because it requires french knots, something which I can't do and I need to learn how. They are a kind of nemesis with me, I'm scared of them. I've never really tried them but I keep on reading about how some people find them very difficult. My determined streak wants to be able to do them, and do them well, so the Apple Blossom Fairies it must be!


Ballerina Skirt Finished!

I finally finished the skirt yesterday and am well into the bodice. The skirt comprises well over half the design so it shouldn't be too long before its completed. This is what I'd call a medium sized project. It cost me about £20 for the kit which I think is quite expensive compared to some other kits but it was the only 'proper' ballerina I've seen in cross stitch and it 'drew' me! There are a lot of kits around of children ballerinas and mice dressed up in tutus etc. I quite like the anchor children designs, including the ones that look like pencil drawings but no-one else in my family seems to like them, and I don't think I'd feel motivated to stitch anything that only I like so it looks like I'm only going to be doing one ballerina which is a shame because it would be nice to have a pair of them!
I have a tendency to have several projects on the go at once - having read some other journals I think this is common stitching practice! Although there does tend to be one main project that I concentrate on - the ballerina at the moment. I don't flit around from one to another.
The other works in progress currently outstanding are:
Companions - the Father Christmas and the horse I started years ago. I do have a stab at this one every now and then but it always gets discarded in favour of something easier. Its nearly finished, I'm on to the back stitch but the problem is the lines on the actual grid are quite bold and its really difficult to see the back stitch lines against them. The actual work itself is quite complicated as well and difficult to see where the backstitch lines have to go. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, I like to do things exactly as they're supposed to be done, not so good at improvising, which is probably why I'm finding this one so difficult. I can safely say its the hardest project I've ever tackled! I will finish it one day!
A miniature sunset kit by Permin. Measures about an inch square and is on 22 count aida with a single strand. Its a horse in shadow with orange background. I had 4 of these permin mini kits - the idea is to put them in daughter's dolls house - which is going to be chocablock with mini cross stitch kits by the time I've finished all the ones I've got! I've already finished 2 of the kits - they take a lot of work considering how tiny they are. The current one is my least favourite, it lacks something somehow, but I will finish it nevertheless. Its my travelling kit, I do it in Waitrose cafe while my son is doing cooking lessons. I only started it last Monday. It may well take several months!
Piglet - this is a cover kit from a cross stitch magazine a couple of months ago. Another one destined for the dolls house! This kit involves blended stitches of the type where you do the bottom stitch in one colour and the top stitch in another. For me, it is unneccesarily complicated. Don't get me wrong, I love complicated designs, but I honestly think its wasted on Piglet. Winnie-the-Pooh characters look effective enough done simply. Still, I will finish it eventually.
Besides these four I have another 17 projects in waiting. These are either kits or charts for which I've bought all the materials. I have assorted other charts for which I haven't got the materials yet, can't justify buying any more while there are so many projects in waiting.


Ballerina skirt nearly finished

Nothing of note to say really. the ballerina skirt is nearly finished, but not finished yet. I showed it to my husband earlier and he said it just looks like a mess of pink stitches, which is encouraging (not). I feel as if I've been working on it all day today, and I probably have spent several hours on it. I even fell asleep on the settee with it in my hand at one point, when I woke up I promptly started stitching again. My husband laughed. I'm not totally happy with the quality of my stitching, but I wonder if as with all my projects I'm being too much of a perfectionist. Stitching in pale pink on black fabric does make the sloppy stitches show up more. Perhaps I'm being paranoid. One of the symbols is one strand each of two different shades of pink, its the patches which are done in this colour that look the worst. I expect it will look ok when its done.



My husband went into a local art shop that does framing yesterday and asked for a rough price on how much it would be to frame the butterfly fairy I finished last month.
They quoted him about £100 ......... OUCH!!!
I have no memory of how much the old guy who did all my framing charged. I said roughly £10 - husband thought it was nearer £25. Either way I know it wasn't offputting at the time. Problem is I have no idea if he is still doing framing, not having been in contact for 10 years or so, or, if the old bloke is still alive even.
I have about 5 or 6 medium-large finished projects that need framing. Even at £25 a shot its going to cost me a pretty penny that I really can't afford so I'm going to have to have a go at framing at least some of them myself.
I'll start with the little ones - there are 4 completed ones of these, two which came with mini frames, I managed to get hold of 2 little square framecraft frames for 75p each the other day for the other 2. The idea is to hang them on the walls of my daughter's dolls house.
If they go ok I'll have a go at doing the flower fairies, they're fairly small and with a bit of patience I don't see why I can't make a good job of framing them with a ready made photo frame and a mount. I'm patient enough to spend hours and hours doing cross stitch so I should be able to manage putting one of them in a frame! We'll see how I go......
The skirt of the ballerina is now about 2/3 - 3/4 done. I'd really like to get this one finished by the end of July as I'm itching to start on a Castle Sampler which I bought years ago from one of those clubs. So my current goal is to finish the skirt by the end of Friday.


The Passion of the Dance

My current project is The Passion of the Dance by Elsa Williams which is a 'grown-up' ballet dancer in pink on black aida. I rarely stich with a final destination for the finished piece in mind but this one is specifically aimed at my daughter's bedroom which has a dance theme. I spotted it on ebay a few months ago and had to have it - eventually bought it from the cheapest online shop I could find it in. I couldn't find it at my local cross stitch supplier (Hobbycraft). I started it a month or so ago and did a tiny patch, using just one length of thread. The fabric is very stiff. I didn't go any further with it, finished the large project I was working on at the time instead and finally came back to this one on 1st July.
I've never worked on a dark fabric before but its not overly daunting. The only problem is I have trouble finding the holes from the back of the fabric but this may be more to do with the fact that the fabric is so stiff. I really do prefer working on evenweave, the advantages (softer fabric, easier to do fractionals, more impressive finished result), in my opinion, far outweigh the disadvantages (counting is more difficult), but with kits you get what you're given.
There's only about 12 colours, no fractionals, and hardly any backstitch. A lot of the colours are very similar in shade so I was finding it very difficult to keep track of where I was on the chart, eventually resorting to colouring the chart in as I went along, something I've never done before, although I was comforted by my Mum at the weekend who told me she would find cross stitch impossible to do if she didn't mark the chart as she went along.
At the moment it just looks like a blob of pink stitches, which it probably will do for some time to come. I've done about half the skirt. Will post some WIP piccies soon.


My Stitching History

Ok ......
I've been itching to write about my new re-found hobby of cross stitching for, em, quite a while now and now have at last bothered to do something about it.
I'm probably going to want to fiddle around with it quite a bit, when I've figured out how, different sections, adding photos and such, but I really feel the most important thing about these online journal type websites is to update them regularly so for now, that is what I intend to do.
I first started cross stitching some time between 10 & 13 years ago, a little while after I got married. I'd done embroidery, mostly table cloths as far as I can remember, as a child, then later on done some tapestries on printed canvas at least one of which is still sitting in a cardboard box in a cupboard unframed. Don't really like it too much now, I much prefer cross stitch.
I got the bug for stitching again after I was married and asked for a tapestry kit. I got a long stitch kit for a birthday or Christmas from my mother-in-law. Didn't really realise at the time long stitch is kind of a beginner's type of stitching. I finished it very quickly and was eager for more so got myself another kit, this time counted cross stitch.
Not sure what my first project was. I had a trilogy of cottages which I bought from one of those clubs where you get so many items at a ridiculously low price then have to commit to buying x more at the regular price. Not sure if the cottages were the first cross stitch I did or if there was something else before.
Anyway, the cottages were actually quite hard for a beginner, not that I realised that at the time. They were on eavenweave linen and there were lots of colour changes. The second one I did with the crosses the other way round. I got them all framed and they were on our bedroom wall in our old house. The glass on one of them broke when my husband threw a racketball ball at it (accidentally).
The next project was elepants in the savanna, or somewhere like that. It is also on evenweave and the first time I had done half cross stitch with one strand. I did a load of it in two strands at first then had to unpick it all. It isn't that complicated though, there are no fractionals and the backstitch just follows around the edges rather than being an intrical part of the pattern itself. Its very effective and the only one of my projects which is up on the wall now. From a distance it looks like a watercolour.
The next project was the dragon and castle, a Janlynn kit, the most complicated design I've done to date and the most impressive! This one involved blended threads (two strands of different colours stitched together) - loads of different combinations, fractionals and effective use of backstitch. This kit was on aida, the first time I'd used it. I didn't realise at the time that aida is in fact more of a beginner's fabric. Owing to the large number of fractionals in this design it probably would have been easier on evenweave. Its framed but the frame is damaged, its sitting in the hall now waiting to go back to the framer if I'm ever brave enough to try contacting him again.
The only other framed project I have is Winnie the Pooh holding a large blue balloon. The balloon is just plain blue and I remember doing it, painfully boring!
Back then I also did a shire horses picture which I got from a magazine. I had that framed too & gave it to my mother-in-law as a present for birthday or Christmas. It went up on her wall but disappeared after a couple of weeks and I haven't seen it since. I also did an assortment of Christmas cards including a large old fashioned father christmas for my brother, and a tiny Christmas tree for my mum which probably only took me about half an hour. Mum gets that card out every year, bless her! It is my intention to stitch her a card again this year but I feel very disinclined to stitch gifts for anyone else as I really feel they don't appreciate the amount of work that has gone into them.
Back then I also completed a cartoon-y type Father Christmas coming out of a chimney which we get out every year, and a Pooh-sticks picture which is still sitting in the box unframed.
I tended to have several projects on the go at once and when I put my hobby on hold for several years there were several abandoned projects left.
1. Tutankhamun mask - about half done.
2. A very large vertical picture of 2 clowns hanging onto a rainbow - almost complete just a tiny bit of backstitch to be done.
3. Pansy Fairy - Craft Collection kit - about half done.
4. Old fashioned father Christmas with his horse - all the cross stitching complete just the back stitching to be done.

To be continued ...........!