Cross Stitch Ramblings


Another week goes by.....

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One day last week I had a strong compulsion to stitch something by Michael Powell. This little one was a freebie, given to us by Carol on her blog a few weeks ago. Wasn't sure if I liked it too much at the time but it kinda grew on me. The blurb calls it a weekend project, but I beg to differ on that one. Maybe a fast stitcher could get it finished in a weekend but certainly not me! I have to say I'm not enjoying it as much as I thought .... its very blocky, white on white is mindblowing. Still, I do still like it and fully intend finishing it. It looks weird right now because I was missing 2 or 3 colours when I started it. Lesson learned, ensure all threads required are actually acquired before starting something new. I still really like this designer's (Michael Powell) work, but if I do another one I'll make sure its one with less blocky patches and a lot more detail.

Funnily enough, Celtic Chrismtas is also large blocks of colour, but not in the least bit mind blowing. I'm really enjoying this - have been back working on it again since Saturday. I love the way the different reds fade into each other. I'm sure somewhere along the line I've got the wrong reds in the wrong places - but I don't think it matters. Not sure if its visible from the photo, but along the lefthandside there are a few single stitches in a sort of brown colour. They are wrong and need to be pulled out. No idea how I managed to translate the symbol on the chart for that colour because it is in fact the symbol for a bead. I think I'll leave the beads 'til last.

I mentioned before that I'm useless at winding thread onto bobbins from skeins, so I bought some ready-wound ones off ebay. Big mistake! They stank of smoke. I spread them all out on a tray and febrezed them and put them out in the garden. Then my neighbour decided to have a bonfire so not only do they stink of smoke but they are covered in ash. *Sigh*

I also bought some new DMC threads, appx. 120 skeins, the ones needed for the Angel of Cross stitch, although I don't have any suitable fabric for this one as yet. Some of these threads are 8m lengths cut from bulk cones rather than in actual skeins so hopefully I won't have such a difficult job winding them onto bobbins.

Finally, my first months fabric club order came from Tandem Cottage. There's a very big bit of blue/grey Permin linen, nice colour, should be useful for one of the Mirabilias, a lovely bit of silver lurex, slightly smaller, I'm hoping to be able to use this for the snow Princess, once I've checked its the right size. And a smaller, oddly shaped bit of lemon coloured evenweave, not sure what I'll do with that, I don't think I like the colour very much. Can't win 'em all!


The Queen is finished

Here is the Queen, or the lady if she isn't the Queen....

I bought a plastic box for storage of the stash yesterday as the old cardboard one was falling to bits, and had a bit of a sort out in the process. I never realised I had so much fabric, there's stacks of it, and I'm buying more! And I have a number of charts and magazines that I don't want either so a bit of clearing out courtesy of ebay is in order in the near future.


Thoughts and stitches

Hand died fabrics
I'd never given a thought to hand died fabric until the comments received on my last entry. To be honest I didn't really care what I stitched on as long as it is evenweave. But now I'm hooked on the idea. The Lady with Lilac flower I'm stitching is on printed linen which gives a mottled effect. It works. I'll definitely give serious consideration to Silkweavers hand died fabrics when it comes to stitching some of my large Mirabilias.

New stash!
The 'Angel of Cross Stitch' chart arrived this week. I don't usually do angels - being a non religious soul, but this one is special! I was introduced to it by Angelsan who stitched it last year. It involves 391 different colours (all the DMC colours that were available at the time, in 1999), the challenge of which appeals to me very much, it also gives me an excuse to considerably increase my already substantial thread stash!

The daily rotation idea has gone out of the window. It worked well a couple of weeks ago, when I was stitching at least 5 hours a day. But stitching has to give sometime. Dull as it all is, housework, laundry, ironing, car washing etc. has to be done eventually. And when I only get half hour or so to do stitching in a day and I'm switching projects every day I get very little done and get myself in an almighty muddle. I still want to rotate but I'll stick with one for a while before moving onto the next. No hard and fast rules about when I switch, just when I feel like it really. But I do want to regularly work on all 3 of them. UFOs are banned!

Castle Sampler
All of the work this week has been on the Castle Sampler. The cross stitching on the Queen is now finished. There's a lot of background stitching around this part of the design, when I've finished all the stitches that actually touch the Queen, I'll do the backstitch on her (for which I'll need to retrieve the TW fantasy booklet from wherever I shoved it last time) and then I'll take a photo. Shouldn't be too long!


Bits & Bobs

Ok, no apologies for my slackness in keeping my blog up to date, stitching always takes priority over blogging!

Fabric Club
Firstly, thanks to all who responded to my questions about Fabric Clubs. I did consider Silkweavers, they have some very appealing clubs on offer. The problem for me being it coming from overseas. Not that I have any objection whatsoever to buying supplies from the US, if I want something in particular I will buy it regardless of where it comes from! But in the case of fabric I can just as easily buy it from the UK so can't justify to myself the extra postage Silkweavers would cost. I emailed Tandem Cottage and they said their monthly club for £10 usually entails one fat quarter and two half fat quarters which seems good enough to me so I've signed up. I'll give it a go for a couple of months at least.

New Stash!
I bought some really ancient embroidery magazines off ebay, for a bargain price of 1p!! I don't know how old they are but the price on the covers is in old money so they've got to be at least 3o years old (I think we went decimal in the early 70's? I don't remember old money myself and was born in '66). Some of the designs are beautiful. Now, I am much more of a cross stitcher than I am an embroiderer so I'm not going to commit myself right now to actually embarking on any of these designs, but they're a nice thing to have. Maybe when I'm an old lady I'll embroider some flowers!

Castle Sampler

The Castle Sampler is plodding along slowly, I am now stitching the queen but she's more time consuming than the vines as there are a lot of colour changes. This project is now officially declared an original work of art. All of my projects are declared original once I have made mistakes from the pattern that I don't see the need to rectify. Its not as it was designed now so therefore it is original, which is my justification for going wrong! I stitched some of the vines in the wrong green, it doesn't notice ......

Lady with Lilac Flower

Ok its going ok, albeit slowly. I like to stitch in patches, particularly on evenweave fabrics, stitching one clear section of the pattern before moving onto another, the methodical method, its the way my brain works I guess. With this one the patch method is near enough impossible, the sections all sort of 'wash' into each other with no clear divides. There are very few backstitch lines to define the sections and to make it even more tricky the chart isn't divided into grid blocks of 10 like most charts are. Its a bit all over the place. Still, its progessing .... slowly.

Celtic Christmas
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At the bottom of the skirt there are swirly patterns which use gold metallic thread. For fear of fraying the metallic thread I thought I would leave it 'til last, but its proving difficult to work my methodical patch method with leaving one colour out, I'm not marking this chart off as I go along (like I am doing with the other two), so I am losing trace a little of where I am. I managed to stitch one row twice which resulted in some major frogging this morning. For now, I am just going to concentrate on the areas which don't use the metallic gold. This project is not difficult, there are large patches in one colour, but some of the reds are so close in colour it is majorally difficult to tell one from another once they're actually in the farbic. Still, as I always say, I love a challenge!


Stitchers Question of the Week

Do you have a favorite designer (or designers)? If so, who is it and why is he or she your favorite?

It has to be Teresa Wentzler. The best word I can use to describe her designs is 'striking'. They always give impressive results. I love the detail, and I love a challenge. The subject matter is also usually close to my heart. I love fantasy designs, particularly castles. I wouldn't stitch absolutely everything of Teresa's, she hasn't even stitched them all herself! I have only actually completed 2, The Castle, which was one of my earliest projects, stitched some time in between my taking up cross stitch in around 1991 and the birth of my son in 1994, when cross stitch was virtually abandoned. The 2nd was 'Companions' (Father Christmas in non-traditional blue accompanied by a non-traditional horse but still clearly Father Christmas), which was vitually finished before my son was born but remained a UFO until I took up stitching again in earnest last year because I found the backstitch so difficult. My 3rd TW, 'The Castle Sampler' is about one third of the way through. There are about another 8 in my stash.

Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies are another firm favourite. I would stitch virtually anything of her's although I do prefer the DMC interpretations over the Craft Collection ones

I do need lots of variety so I stitch lots of different styles from assorted different designers. Sometimes there may be just one I like from a designer, my current 'Lady with Lilac Flower' from Sara Moon for example, and 'Passion of the Dance' by Elsa Williams which I stitched last year. Lavender & Lace, Mirabilia, the list goes on .....

All in all, a pretty mixed bag!!


Frog Away!

Castle Sampler
I finished the vines down the right hand side of the castle panel on Friday and worked a bit of the right hand side figure, the Queen. There's plenty more of the vines in the background of the figures but it shouldn't be so monotonous now as I will be interspersing (is that a proper word??) vines with people.

Lady with Lilac Flower
I discovered to my distress that I had mistaken a symbol and done a substantial amount of stitching in the wrong colour. Boo hoo! So I frogged and I frogged. All damage is now repaired. But such a waste of time!

Celtic Christmas
I promised myself a little while ago that once I had finished the vines on the Castle Sampler I would add a third project to the rotation. I decided on Celtic Christmas because one - I have all these Lavender & Lace & Mirabilia charts and have not yet attempted to stitch any one of them, two- I want to do something that involves beads, because to date I've not used beads in any design, and last week I bought some beading needles! And three - the other two projects, although very different in style to each other, are both in muted tones. I need to do something more colourful! Celtic Christmas is largely red.
During the course of sorting the relevant threads onto bobbins I realised the advantage of kits! I must have lost the knack of getting thread from skeins to bobbins without spending far too much valuable stitching time untangling skeins. I wonder if there's a particular way you're supposed to do it for it not to tangle .... that little arrow on the skein must mean something, but I don't know what! I wish they sold it pre-bobbined.
I started on it today and am amazed at how easy it is. I guess I was expecting it to be as complicated as a TW. Progress is fast, though it is huge so will take a long time. The fabric I'm stitching on is dusty green linen from Permin (or Wichelt). Its a really stiff fabric, kind of like canvas, I hope it softens up in time.


Question of the Week

Stitching Bloggers Question

Which do you prefer and why? "Old-fashioned" black and white symbol-only charts, charts with coloured blocks, or charts with a combination of coloured blocks and symbols?

Most of the charts I've worked on have been the "old fashioned" style. These are fine, especially if they are printed rather than handwritten. I've only worked a couple with a combination of coloured blocks and symbols, charts from magazines, these were fine too.

I once stitched a design with just coloured blocks - The Pansy Fairy from the Craft Collection. I had a terrible time with it! I was almost seeing stars in front of my eyes and found it impossible to differentiate several of the colours from each other. This project was a UFO for about 10 years and I've a good idea why! I finally finished it last year but ended up largely improvising. I have one other kit with a chart like this one in my stash - The Daisy Fairy, which is even worse because the chart looks like a colour photocopy (I bought it off ebay - highly suspicious). Its right at the top of my 'projects I may well never end up stitching' list. Ah well!


Lady emerges from blob

I've been spending many hours on Lady with Lilac Flower over the past couple of days and now she has a face! I was really keen to get this bit done as its not so rewarding stitching a blob!

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Castle Sampler is plodding along nicely ... a couple more hours and I should have the vines finished.

My friend who I was stitching Numbers for had a baby boy last week and I went to see them with her pressie on Tuesday. Mum & Dad were very happy with it, makes it worthwhile doing something like that when its really appreciated.