Cross Stitch Ramblings


Stitching Questions

1. How old were you when you started Cross Stitching?
About 25

2.Who taught you to cross stitch?
No-one. I already knew embroidery but learnt how to do counted cross stitch by following the instructions that came with a kit.

3.What inspired you to begin Cross Stitching?
I did some embroidery and wool tapestry when I was in my teens, after that nothing for a few years. A short while after I got married, I felt a strong urge to do tapestry again. My mother-in-law bought me a long stitch kit for my birthday which I completed in about a day. I wasn't satisfied, so I went in a shop and found counted cross stitch kits. From then on I was hooked.

4.What has been your most difficult Cross Stitch Piece?
TW's "Companions". It involves a lot of green, and the backstitch was near-on impossible. If I'd had the printed chart, I would have found it a lot easier but I had the handwritten chart which came with the Janlynn kit. I found it so difficult to decipher the backstitch lines from the gridlines on the chart. For this reason, it was a UFO for about 10 years. I finished it eventually last year, but I improvised on the backstitch.

5.Do you have friends that stitch?
Only online friends. I'm very secretive about it as I feel a lot of people would consider it an old lady hobby. Only four of my work colleagues know I cross stitch. Up until a week ago it was only 2 until at a party last Saturday my husband decided to embarass me and tell 2 more. But they are nice, non-judgemental people so its ok.

6.What is your Favorite stitched Piece?
TW's Companions. Because it was such an accomplishment to finally finish it, and its traditional Christmassy without being tacky but a bit different, because Father Christmas has a horse instead of a reindeer and is wearing blue instead of red. I have it as the wallpaper on my computer. Its one of the lesser-stitched TWs which also makes it special.

7.What is your favorite Fabric?
I'm happy with most evenweave fabrics.

8.What is your favorite Fiber?
DMC. I've occasionally used cheap unbranded threads in kits which knot terribly. I rarely have those sort of problems with DMC.

9.What is your favorite Needle?
Size 26 tapestry needle.

10.Do you prefer Black & White or Colored Charts?
Black & white, but clear, because with complicated patterns I shade them in as I go along.

11.How many Works In Progress do you have at this time?
I am currently working 4 projects in rotation.

12.How many UFO's do you have at this time?
One. Tutenkhamun's Mask - its from my pre-childbirth stitching days. I was very attracted at the time by the vibrant colours and I think it was the only kit I paid full price for. Now, it is languishing at the bottom of the stitch box. The threads are all muddled, the metallics are a mess, and at one time or another its had coffee spilt all over it. I don't like it anymore, its a death mask, I don't want it on my wall. I doubt it will ever get finished, but maybe, one day when I'm an old lady...

13.How many cross Stitch charts/kits/mags do you own?
About 20-30 of each.

14.How much fabric do you have in stock at this time?
Lots of little bits, and about 20-ish big bits.

15.Where is your favorite place to stitch?
In the living room in the chair by the window where there is most light.

16.What is your favorite time of day to stitch?
I will stitch at any time but find it easiest during the day when there is the most light.

17.How many pieces have you stitched in your lifetime?
As a rough guess - maybe 40-ish.

18.Do you give your stitched pieces away?
Rarely. Most people don't appreciate the time and effort that has gone into them. I have given away as gifts three finished and framed projects, and about 6 cards.

19.How many different fibers do you have in stock at this time?
Almost every DMC shade, a few odd Anchor skeins, about 10 kreinik reels, and some petite treasure braid I bought for Celtic Spring.

20.How many pairs of scissors do you own?
One. They are not proper embroidery scissors, they came from body shop. If I can't find them I will use any pair of scissors I can lay my hands on.

21.Do you use stitching enhancers (lights, scroll frames...etc)?
I have a bright halogen lamp which is a godsend. I sometimes use a hoop. I own a set of R&R or 'Q-snaps' but I rarely use them. My favourite enhancer is my Paco needle organiser which currently houses all the blends needed on the Castle Sampler.

22.How many pieces that have been stitched but not yet framed or finished off in some other way do you have at this time?
Only my most recent finish, Michael Powell's Mini Cottages. I only take them to the framer once I've got two or more done.

23.Do you have a craft/stitching room?
No - I mostly do my stitching in the living room. I keep current stitching projects in a couple of drawers and a needlework box in there, everything else is in a cupboard in the bedroom.

24.Why do you stitch?
Because I am otherwise completly non artistic and it gives me a way of creating beautiful things. And I love it.

25.What is your most memorable time related to cross stitching.
Its a little thing, but its the admiration my daughter's 8-year old friend Emily shows towards my Flower Fairies. I don't expect a child of that age to show appreciation of subtle stitchwork. It gives a good feeling.


Castle Sampler WIP

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I finally finished the figures on Castle Sampler tonight. The close up pic looks blurry but it isn't like that in real life, must be the camera flash bouncing off it. Either I need to take my photos in daylight or work out how to use the scanner! I've run out of several colours of thread now but luckily had supplies of them all. Now all I have to do is the large, outer border, I guess I'm about two thirds of the way through now.

Tomorrow I intend finishing up the little corner of Celtic Christmas I put aside while waiting for the gold thread.


New Stash/SBQ

New Stash
There has been much stash acquistion this week .....

1. The latest edition of Cross Stitcher magazine features flower fairies so of course I had to buy it. The free kit is of the marigold fairy, unfortunately they've chopped her legs off half way to fit her into a printed mount which is a shame. There is also a giant flower fairy sampler chart. The fairies are a bit simplistic for me, I like them to be more detailed, so, I guess the whole magazine is for the ebay drawer.
2. Ebay win - flower fairy booklet featuring various fairies mostly in birth samplers. This includes the marigold fairy complete with whole legs, which is better, but still not very intricate, so I doubt I'll work on any of these either.
3. Tandem Cottage FOTM. This month I got a fat quarter in a dusty pink, its not bad, I'll find a use for it, and two smaller pieces in beige, one of which has a mottled effect as if it is hand-died, but it isn't. I like getting these packages every month, feels like pressies, but I feel I ought to stop it as I'm getting far more fabric than I can use. I'll have a think about that one.
4. Three TW Rocking Horse charts, Misty, Diamond and Sweetheart. Ebay bargains at 99p each. My favourite is Misty.

Stitching Blogger's Question
How many strands of floss to you prefer to stitch with? Why?

I enjoy stitching with one strand, because the floss is less likely to go in knots and I can get a nice neat finish without worrying about railroading. Two strands are more appropriate for most of the designs I chose though.

New L&L Design
A picture of the long anticipated new L&L design has appeared on the TIAG website this morning. Looks familiar, lots of swirly gold around the hem???? Not sure at the moment, but no doubt it will grow on me.

Castle Sampler
All of my stitching this week has been on the Castle Sampler - progress is slow! I'm not posting a pic today as the king doesn't have a head yet and just looks like a blob of stitches. I haven't finished the backstitch on the mandolin player yet as I ran out of one of the colours. I'm bound to have some more in the cupboard but haven't got around to digging through it yet. I will get there.

In other news
Went to see Guys & Dolls in London with Ewan McGregor on Saturday. Excellent! Then went to a 21st birthday party and stayed out 'til 2am. Its been a looooooooong time since I did something like that! Then yesterday we had a family barbeque and the rain just about kept off. Its been a busy weekend ..... which might explain why less than usual stitching got done!


Castle Sampler/New Stash

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I've finished the cross stitching on the 3rd minstrel, the mandolin player .... I hope to finish up the backstitch on him tomorrow, and a little of the king's leg. It was sad to hear that TW has decided to put cross stitch designing on hold, but good for her! Teresa has produced enough stunning designs to keep me going for about 30 years so I can't complain!

I had lots of new stash arrive today. Firstly, from Sew and So, the gold thread I need for Celtic Christmas, I'm intend finishing the bottom of the dress within the next few days. Also, because I didn't want to pay the minimum £1 postage for just one skein of thread, I bought a bead caddy. Celtic Christmas is the first design I've used beads on, and they've already been all over the floor twice. It is very fortunate I have wooden flooring.....

I also had some ebay acquistions arrive, the long-hankered after Celtic Autumn by L&L. I do like this maiden, but not as much as the other 3. I feel the colours aren't right for Autumn, I may have a go at changing them when I eventually get onto stitching it. Also, Mirabilia's 'Elizabeth and the Lavender Sky' - this one appeals to me, she looks sort of distant and mysterious. Finally, Mirabilia's Crystal Christmas. I do love ebay bargains!


Celtic Christmas WIP/SBQ

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I had intended to finish the bottom of the dress but couldn't because I have run out of the metallic gold thread. There is only a tiny bit needed for this bit but I will need quite a bit more in other parts of the design. I originally bought it from Sew and So who provide a shopping list of materials needed, according to which I only needed one skein, but unless I am extremely wasteful with thread it was well out! The LNS has none of this colour so I had to order some online, unfortunately it won't be here before Tuesday, but I'll finish off the skirt as soon as it arrives.

Joy - if you're still reading, thanks for your kind comments on my last entry :-)

Stitching Bloggers Question
Given the option, would you rather buy a chart and get the material
and floss together yourself, or buy a pre-packed kit?
I'd rather buy the chart and kit it up myself, one because I have a huge supply of DMC thread, two because I get to chose my own fabric..... I have yet to be very adventurous regarding fabrics, usually chosing a plain evenweave, but most kits come with aida, which I don't like anymore. Most of my stash is kits. I like kits that have pre-sorted threads and nice fabric, mostly because of my incurable lazy-itis!

A little off Topic
Ok this bit is aimed at any UK readers. I think there are probably only a handful of UK readers here but I'm going to ask anyway. Off the top of your head, without looking it up on the internet, have you heard of Crays Hill? If so, what do you know about it? Ill explain why in a later entry if I get any responses to this.


Celtic Christmas WIP

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Here is an update after a lot more hours. The idea of the bottom of a robe is now emerging, so I can stop calling it the splash of red paint! The DMC metallic thread is no fun to work with, I'll avoid using that in the future.
I won two ebay auctions today .... L&L's Celtic Autumn, which I have been after for yonks ... happy dance! and Mirabilia's Crystal Christmas which was a real bargain and is quite sweet. I just found out that the next L&L release is to be (edited to remove title), so I will have something new to keep my beady eyes out for.


Lady with Lilac Flower/SBQ

I've spent many hours stitching this week and here is the result. Because its on such a small scale, it feels as though growth is very slow. From top to bottom, it measures roughly the span of my hand. I lost track of how many blocks I stitched, but its at least my goal of 20. Today, I am moving on to Celtic Christmas.
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Finishing SBQ
Do you finish all your finished pieces? (pillow, frame, etc,) If so, how do you finish the pieces? If not what do you do with them?

Some of the little ones have gone into cards, all of the medium/large ones have been framed. I've never fancied putting them into pillows/cushions or anything else that would be used because 1. people put their bums on 'em, 2. they'd get dirty. My work is too good for that! Besides, the type of work I do tends to be pictures which are not really suitable. Having said that about my work deserving to be framed, all but two are stacked up in this room, due to lack of decorated wall space to hang them on.

Freebie SBQ
What is your opinion of Internet "freebies?"

Great idea. Especially the little ones offered by the known designers. Good for giving an idea of whether you could cope with a larger design. I'm really pleased I did that little Michael Powell cottages freebie rather than buying one of the large kits and launching myself into it without considering how mind-blowing all of the plain stitched areas would be, and regretting it. I also have a little Chatelaine freebie printed out which I will try some day, and I like some of the L&L Christmas freebies.


A few more ramblings

I stayed up into the wee small hours last night and completed 2 blocks on Lady with Lilac Flower, and have done a further 8 blocks today, I spent most of the day on it! I think its about halfway done now.

I achieved a weight loss goal today so treated myself to non-ebay bargain stitching goodies. I've been after something by Passione Ricamo for some time, I spent quite a while deciding which one to chose but finally decided on Moon Fairy Spirit.

An ebay bargain also arrived today - Mirabilia's Fairy Idyll. I wasn't sure about this one, didn't pay very much for it, but now its arrived I really do like it.

I rarely buy cross stitch magazines nowadays but I did get The World of Cross Stitching last week because its got a Flower fairy in it - the Lady's Smock fairy (I think thats what its called). Its pretty but has a funny face. Its a long way down the line but when I eventually come to stitching it I'm going to try & change the face to be more like the original paintings. The magazines always seem to have a free Flower Fairy whenever DMC are about to bring out some new kits they want to promote. They seem to have re-released some old designs, one of them is Apple Blossom Fairies which has an RRP of about £15. The one I stitched is the same size as the kits which they retailed at £19, so I'm assuming this is a simplified version. The chart I had has long been discontinued. I guess they thought it would sell better as a kit. There's a new one - the Pink Fairies, which I do like. From my point of view its a shame they seem to be going in the direction of producing kits rather than separate charts since I have more than enough DMC thread in stock plus the new kits always seem to come with aida, which I'm not so keen on. Still, I've got about 20 flower fairies in my stash and really don't need any more, so what am I complaining about!


Goals and a finish

Its been a hectic week. Preparing for my daughter's birthday sleepover. A house full of little girls, cuddly toys, sweets, cakes, crisps, assorted clothes, plastic toys, plastic jewellery, sleeping bags, visits to the sweet shop, hairbrushes, knickers, toothbrushes, giggling, wriggling, and finally sleeping. They've all gone home now. And my baby is nine years old!

Needless to say little in the way of stitching got done, and I didn't achieve my goal of getting Mini Cottages finished by the end of April. I've done a lot of work on it since though, and it is finally finished. I had a lot of doubts over this one while I was doing the cross stitch, but once the thick, heavy black lines of the backstitch were on I remembered why I liked it in the first place. Its earmarked for my son's room, he really likes it. Most of what I stitch is a bit girly for him this one is much more suitable.

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My goals for May.....

Lady with Lilac Flower - stitch 10-20 more blocks, concentrating on the top (the hat) and working downwards.

Celtic Christmas - finish the skirt

Castle Sampler - finish the figures. This might be a tall order but we'll see.

I missed several questions of the week. The one about goals is pretty much answered above .... not usually but why not?

The one about model stitching .... I've never been asked. It would be quite flattering but unlikely ever to happen. My work is not of a high enough standard. Good enough for most people but not for the scrutiny of a professional cross stitch designer. Besides, the obligation would make it a chore, and I would hate it. It would be flattering to be asked though!

Stitching with the seasons - absolutely not! I'm quite happy to stitch for Christmas in the middle of summer and vice versa. I get a bit SAD in winter so its probably just as well to remind myself of brighter times.