Showing posts with label Cross stitch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cross stitch. Show all posts

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Break

Now that all the birdhouses are done for Down in the Garden, I've been picking up a few of my other projects. Yesterday I finished up the piecing on this block of Best Friends Forever:

Although it's pretty cold today, on hot days it's nice to work on smaller, individual blocks like this, so I think I'll be doing more of them over the summer.

I also think that I'm going to unplug this summer, and take a blogging break. The last day of school was this week, and I've been reminiscing about how nice it was to look forward to a completely unstructured summer. I also remember that I used to go home with as many library books as I could! These days I'd rather stitch than read, but I still have a big line up to keep me busy.

Last winter there was steady, behind-the-scenes progress on Jacks and Cats:

All the wool felt pieces are sewn together, and I'm currently working on the back stitched lines for the teeth. The oval Jacks pumpkins will get their stems, vines and leaves once they are appliqued onto the blocks. I'd like to be well along on this by Halloween, although I doubt it'll be finished.

For Slow Stitching Sunday today, I'm going to put a few more stitches in this Dimensions Gold cross stitch design, A Kiss for Snowman:

This one will be finished soon -- just a few more stitches in the background, and all the outlining left to do.

In all the chaos with the basement flooding (we had three floods total last month), some of my new fabrics have been sitting on my sewing table, waiting for things to settle down. Tempting me. Eventually I started cutting them up:

They are the two new summer collections from Connecting Threads, Island Hopping and Batik Paradise. I thought they would be perfect for the cover quilt on Carrie Nelson's book, Schnibbles Times Two, which I've been wanting to make for ages. I put together a few rows, just to see how it works...

With the crosses and the Hawaiian-themed fabric, I'm calling the quilt "Aloha Kisses," The white fabric is from Northcott. Around here it is the same price as Kaufman Kona solids, and I actually like it better. It is smoother, the thickness of the threads is very consistent, and it has a dense, higher thread count that makes it stable and easy to sew. I am very happy with it!

And, of course, Down in the Garden still has plenty of work left to do. Here's the first of those dratted butterflies:

They're a trial, but I know they'll be worth it. They'll probably end up as the key feature of the whole quilt.

So, I don't think I'll have time to be bored this summer! But, I'm not going to schedule anything. And who knows, there may be more new projects as well. Like the kids, I'll be back for sure after Labour Day. If the finishes really pile up (she says optimistically), maybe you'll see me sooner. Our basement problems are half fixed, so there's still plenty left to do there as well.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great summer (or cozy winter if you are down under)! I'll still be around and answering email if anyone needs me. Take care!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Long Time, No See!

Remember those diamonds I made in March (here and here)? Well, this is what they are for. The last time I posted on this project was almost three years ago. Since then, it's been growing!

I have already written more than enough extensively on this project, and it went through many changes. But, the end is in sight and the plan has pretty much jelled. I started with these three cross stitch designs by Jim Shore:

They were stitched on raw linen aida instead of the perforated paper in the kit, and the plan was to stack them vertically and sew them into a long quilted banner. In 2012, the paper pieced borders were going very slowly, and the project got pushed aside.

Over a year ago I thought that a long, skinny banner didn't feel right to me. I decided to line them up horizontally instead, and add a couple of borders to make a wall quilt with some presence. The question was whether I had enough of the original fabrics:

The orange fabric was my main worry, because I knew I wanted it for My Country House too. Fortunately, I still had lots, and after searching high and low I was able to find all the other fabrics too.

So in January I easily finished up the last four of those green flying geese borders. My paper piecing is so much better now! I know it looked ok, but I have learned some things since then. The Quilt Show had a Carol Doak video available a year ago, which was very helpful. Also, the Judy Niemeyer instructions with Prairie Star had a surprising amount of good information, and improved my technique as well.

From the start the tricky part with this project was going to be joining the aida and the pieced sections. I used a narrow strip of dark green fabric to frame the cross stitch and transition to the quilt fabric. I carefully trimmed the aida and left a 4 thread seam allowance. Then I pinned the green strip to the front, and from the back I carefully (and slowly!) machine stitched four threads from the edge. Then I went back and stitched a second line three threads from the edge to anchor it:

By accident I found that if I lined up the pins along that fourth thread, it was easier to stay on course:

Then the last step was to trim the seam allowance down to one thread from the stitching:

So, it was a lot of slow, careful machine sewing, and I ended up taking a one month break in the middle, but I am happy with the result so far:

After I finished the hard part yesterday, I was excited to put it up on the wall and see how it looked with the second and third borders:

Why did that look wrong? It's just because I cut the light green second border oversized, I said to myself. Out came the tape measure. Argh! There's an extra diamond block in the top and bottom borders. How did I manage to make too many? I decided which two diamonds to eliminate and just pinned them under for now:

I'm going to applique some flowers in the light green second border. I spent the rest of the day yesterday auditioning fabrics and cutting out the appliques. That's when I really start to feel creative! After all that, I finally realized that the diamond side borders were wrong too! They should be one diamond longer, which accounts for the "extra" diamonds along the top and bottom. Argh again. That fix won't be quite so simple, and I'll have to juggle things around to keep it balanced.

But, the applique flowers are all figured out, so that will keep me busy for a while!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Half Cross Stitch -- Which Way?

I have three, no, four, Christmas UFOs at the moment, and I won't finish them all, but I'm going to make a push on this one:

Dimensions Gold, "A Kiss for Snowman"
I thought it would look cute if I finished the figures before I started the background, and I think it does!

It feels like ages since I've done any cross stitch, but I think I last touched this piece in June. That was when I decided to unpick all the half cross stitches from the blue snowman body. It took two days! The trick was to pull them out without damaging the full crosses. It only took one day to stitch them in again.

Why did I put myself through that? Crazy perfectionism? Maybe. But here's the issue:

I am never really sure which way to stitch the half cross stitches. Should they slope up to the right, like the first or bottom layer of a full cross stitch, or up to the left, like the top part of a full cross? I have done it both ways on different projects. As you can see, the Dimensions instructions say to slope up to the right, like the lower layer of the cross stitch. And that's how I started with the snowman body.

But, I didn't like it. There was a clear shadow line where the stitch direction changes. So on the snowman face I stitched the half crosses parallel to the top stitch of the full crosses, which smoothed it all out and made the shading more natural. Then, once both figures were done, I realized I had enough thread left in the kit to restitch the body so it would all align.

From now on, I'll be stitching the half crosses in the way that gives the desired effect, rather than just unconsciously following the pattern!

The next step is to stitch the entire background in half crosses going the other way, so hopefully the figures will stand forward a little. And hopefully, it'll be done before Christmas!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mesa Santa

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a good holiday, or at least, better than us! We have been through the wringer here in Toronto, where a massive ice storm knocked out power, and therefore heat in most homes, for several days in subzero temperatures right over the holiday.

After the first night we moved to my sister's cat-infested house, which had power the whole time. I am extremely allergic, and recovering from a surgery the week before, so it was pretty challenging. But, I'm glad she was able to take us in! It could have been much worse. We are back home now and the lights are on, but it will probably take a few more days to really recover from it all.

This Mesa Santa Christmas ornament in the photo above is one of the Southwest Santas collection from Mill Hill. Do you see the cute armadillo in the lower right corner? I love his blanket too, with just a few chunks of turquoise to set it off. It was my take-along project to my sister's house. So, at least I got one more project both started and finished in 2013.

I'm sure ready for a fresh start in 2014!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Start on Christmas

Ever since the deluge of "Christmas in July" marketing emails, and many blog posts too, I've been completely off the idea of Christmas. I understand that the fabric companies need to give you lead time to make your Christmas projects, but I just can't think about Christmas when it's hot and sunny outside. It's my conditioning. But, now that we've had a couple of cold and rainy days, suddenly, a cozy Christmas project seems just the thing!

So, this is a new-ish cross stitch project, "A Kiss For Snowman" from Dimensions Gold Petites. I say new-ish because I actually started it last year, but it was so similar to my Lima Beans project that I put it away again. It is stitched on 18 ct aida in crosses and half-crosses with varying weights of thread, similar to other Dimensions Gold Petites projects that I have done. The stitching will finish at 6" square, and the piece is destined for the centre of a Christmas pillow. The last Dimensions Gold project took me 5 months, so I'm not sure that I'll finish this by Christmas, but at least it gets me in the right mood!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cruise Ship

First, a little theme music:

Now you will be singing that all day!

Since I've been in such a tidying up of loose ends frame of mind, I pulled out my Summer Sampler next. The second motif just needed a few more details to complete:

Those French knots were not for the faint of heart! They are not perfect, but I don't think I can do any better.

The bite out of the left side is for the next motif, the postcard from paradise! That's next, but probably not soon, because I have still more loose ends to finish up. ;)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lima Beans Finished!

The other day I was reading back in my blog, and I was chagrined to see that it was back in June that I was starting to hint that this project was almost finished. I guess not! But, now it's finally done.

I started out thinking that this would be an easy, tv watching project, but it was not nearly as forgiving as I expected. Even when counting was not an issue on the large flat areas, I still had to give it my full attention in order to make neat stitches on the 18 ct aida and cover the fabric as much as possible.

In the end it was just sheer persistence to finish it. I would strip 6 strands of the black brown floss each day, sew until they were gone, and then put it away again. Now I think I will do the same thing with all the metallic gold on Celtic Spring,* which has been stuck for a while too. I have too many cross stitch projects on the go, so I am determined to finish some of them! Anyway, it is nice to have this one done. :)

*Holy moly, I see I haven't posted on Celtic Spring since last November!!! But, I do want to finish the dratted gold in the hem before I show it again...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Butterfly Catchers

Every spring I used to worry that I was suddenly losing my eyesight, but now I know that it is just my allergies, and if I wait it out it will get better again! Today I was finally able to see well enough to put the finishing touches on the next section of my Août sampler:

These two are spending their August vacation catching butterflies!

While all my even weave projects have been on the shelf, I've been making good progress on the Lima Beans, which are stitched on 18 ct aida. I'm in the home stretch now, so I hope to show you that soon. The next section of the Summer Sampler is almost ready too.

Riviera Star, unfortunately, has ground to a halt. I still have to cut the fabric for the next section. That's always a hurdle, isn't it? The sewing is the fun part. But the weather forecast is for a hot and humid week, so I don't think I'll be ironing and cutting any time soon. More hand sewing to come!

In the meantime, here's Août so far:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Sampler, Take Two

Back in March I came to an inglorious end on my first run at this great Summer Sampler from Janlynn:

It didn't take me long to decide to start over will all new materials. I bought some Cashel linen (28 ct) in light sand, which is really more like light yellow, and proper DMC floss. I've been working it for a while now, and it is all so much nicer to stitch!

Rather than repeating the section that I goofed on before, I started at the bottom this time:

My plan is to fully complete one section at a time, backstitching and all. A professional stitcher gave me this tip as a way to minimize the tedium of the backstitching at the end, and so far it is working for me. Next up will be the little cruise ship motif.

Remember this fabric? No wonder it reminded me of Hawaii!

Anyway, I also want to apologize, because not only have I not been keeping up with my blog, I haven't had a chance to keep up with everyone else's either. I've been dealing with a health issue this spring that is fairly serious, but completely fixable. I think that when it's all over my life will improve considerably, but until then I may be absent once in a while. In the meantime, happy stitching!

Monday, April 22, 2013

First Couple for Août

All twelve of my monthly samplers from Bonheur des Dames feature this young, enraptured couple in the centre:

Here they are dressed for the country in August. This time around I have decided to finish each motif completely before starting the next. When I did the Juin sampler I got stuck with all the tiny backstitching at the end, which was quite a chore. But it's not so bad in small doses!

Not much to show, I know, but even this minute little finish is heartening these days. I've had so many distractions!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Epic Fail

Many of you know by now that I am perfectly willing to share my mistakes as well as my successes. I don't think any blogger sits around producing perfect work on the first try. I certainly don't! So here's what I've been working on recently. I'm over 20 hours in on this. Doesn't look too bad at first glance, does it?

This is where I found myself today:

Inside the circle is a gap of five stitches that is supposed to be a gap of one stitch. Don't kid yourself, this is a serious mistake. As far as I can tell, I counted wrong on the very first row I stitched. How did I do that? I stitched the extra four stitches on the chart twice!!

I'm an experienced cross stitcher, I know how these charts are supposed to work. I do remember that the day I started this project I knew I was a little tired, so I chose something that I thought would be easy to work on.

The worst thing is that I kept having nagging doubts while I was stitching, and I ignored them. I started my Août sampler in the wrong place, and while I was stitching that I kept remembering previous times I had counted wrong. Sure enough, the next time I pulled it out I could see it was wrong, and it was an easy fix. The same thing happened with this project, but I said to myself, "surely I am not wrong again!" Argh. I am all about trusting your gut and listening to your inner guidance no matter what, so believe me, this is doubly humiliating for me. A good lesson, though!

What now? I have to think about it. I could unpick the entire right side, which has less done on it so far. However, the whole piece will end up very close to the left edge of the fabric, which may make blocking and framing it more challenging down the road. The kit fabric wasn't very large to start with. Plus, now there is going to be a thread issue. The threads appear to be DMC colours, but the quality is not the same as the individual skeins you buy retail.

I could just throw it out and call it bad luck all around, but this is just one of a set of four, and I've actually really been enjoying it up until now.

Probably I'll buy some new fabric, replace the missing threads, and start over. I should be able to blend together the new thread and the old so it doesn't show. And I'm not happy with the quality of the kit fabric anyway - the piece is pretty small and there is an awkward flaw right in the middle of an open section of the design. You can view the chart for this project here. I would recommend buying just the chart, rather than the whole kit. Then you can use your own better quality fabric and threads.

Now I'm wondering if this is a good opportunity to upgrade the project to a nice evenweave and better threads. I'll let you know what I decide. Maybe everything has worked out for the best after all!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What's Next?

Obviously, with two projects recently finished, I am now allowed to start two new ones! My next embroidery project will be Breath of Spring, the linen tote bag with an embroidered pocket from Inspirations 56:

This kit has been ready to go with the threads all sorted as long as Cottage Garden was. I was a little put off when I found that the kit came with a pre-printed panel:

I hate it when the lines show around the stitching. But, now that I am starting it, I am also glad that I don't have to transfer that complex pattern! There are 17 different elements to stitch in this pattern, so, many blog posts to come!

My next Bonheur des Dames counted thread project will be the monthly sampler for August, Aout:

If anyone knows how to insert the special character for the "u", please send me an email or let me know in the comments. I can never figure it out!

I have already started both projects. As I was putting the first stitches into the Aout sampler, I realized why I love counted thread work so much. It's because you start with a completely blank canvas, with no prior markings on it. So it's like creating something out of nothing, and it actually feels more creative to me than an embroidery pattern, even though with counted thread projects you are usually more of a slave to the design. There's something magical about watching your first stitches grow.

So, lots to do! Plus, I need a break from Celtic Spring, which is at the stage now where it is nothing but the gold braid for the forseeable future. I can only do so much of that at a time!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Juin - Stitching Finished!

I finished the stitching a week ago, but I finally got it washed and pressed today. This has been a long time in the making! I started it in 2005 or thereabouts, but had to put it away because the stitching was too fine for me at the time. I took it out again in 2011, and have slowly been working on it ever since.

The big breakthrough was taking it out of the frame. This is 32-count linen, and I found it much easier to count, and to come up in the right place, once it was in hand.

What I would really like to do for the finishing is to hem stitch it and hang it on some kind of oversized bell pull hardware. The stitched area is about 10" wide. Even after washing, though, the linen is very stiff, so I may have to think about that some more.

There are 12 monthly samplers all together. The long term plan is just to hang the current month, so I'd rather not have bulky frames to store. If anyone has any suggestions for alternate finishing ideas, I'd love to hear them!

One down, eleven to go!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Smoky Mountain Santa

Here's the last Appalachian Santa from Mill Hill, the Smoky Mountain Santa. It's been in a partially done state for quite a while - I think I started it 18 months ago while waiting for my car to be smog checked at Canadian Tire - so I am happy to see it finally completed.

I hope everyone has had/is having a great Christmas. Mine has been excellent. Plus, I got an extra present when I logged on today - my blog just passed the 10,000 page views mark! That's a good-feeling milestone.

Back to quilting tomorrow. I've started the machine quilting on Edward's quilt, and the nine patch flimsy just has four long seams left too. My goal is to have them both quilted and bound before the next meeting of my quilt guild at the end of January. Celtic Spring will be a year old next month, so I'd like to finish it before the end of January too, but I don't know if that's reasonable. Everyone has been asking me what I plan to buy in the Boxing Day sales tomorrow, and I've been saying that I really can't even fathom any more new projects right now. I am so ready to close out some of these lingering projects! I am in a finishing frame of mind. Let's hope it lasts. :D

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blue Ridge Santa

When I saw Jillian's finished Mill Hill ornament Melchior last week, I thought it could be a good way to test out my wrist again too. This is the second of the Appalachian Santas, the Blue Ridge Santa. I stitched it entirely while watching dippy Christmas movies. This was silly fun at first, but believe me, I am WAY past the saturation point on Christmas now!

I have the third one half done and ready for the beads, but I think it will go back in the box for the time being. I'm not sure if I'll be posting again before Christmas or not, so if not,

Happy Christmas!

Related Post

The first Appalachian Santa

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Some Beads for Celtic Spring

I decided that I didn't want to be stuck with all the beads at the end, so I have started to add some as I go along. It has been very rewarding:

Unfortunately, I have also found that I have a tendency sometimes to sit there mesmerized by all the sparkle instead of stitching!

The instructions do not include any information about which threads to use with the beads. Here is what I've been using:

  • Mill Hill beads 62037 (lilac) - DMC 209
  • Mill Hill beads 3025 (purple) - DMC 327
  • Mill Hill beads 3012 (dark green) - DMC 936. These "green" beads are actually half olive green, half dark purple or blue, which gives some unexpected results sometimes. You can see that in the wreath around the figure's head, where many of the "leaves" have turned purple. I think it adds interest, so I have left it:

  • Mill Hill beads 3054 (pearl gold) - DMC 676
  • Mill Hill beads 557 (shiny gold) - DMC 676 or DMC 3822, depending on the location. If the beads are surrounded by the metallic gold Treasure Braid, then I found that 3822 is a better match. If there is a mix of shiny gold and pearl gold beads, then I do them at once with 676. That's what I did in the side border:

It has been very challenging to get decent photos! The colour in the first one is probably the truest - the fabric is the Willow Green Cashel linen. You really have to see it in real life to get the full impact. It is surpassing my expectations!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lima Beans Update

Lima Beans? Update?? I know, the beginning of this project was buried in another post, so it is unlikely anyone remembers it. But, it has been coming along this week:

This is the first of four seed packet patterns from June Grigg that I bought in the early 90s and am finally getting around to.  The stitching is on 18 ct aida, and the texture and coverage are really nice.  I remember now that the texture is what attracted me to the projects in the first place, when I saw the samples in June's booth so long ago. I wish you could all feel it through your screens!

Other than some cross stitch and a few more stars, I've mainly been waffling about some design ideas this past week.  I've been over to Fabricland three days in a row now.  Yesterday I had finished my shopping and was driving out the driveway, when I had another idea and turned around to go back again! Most of my plans have been for the RVQG BOM, but today I cracked and bought some Christmas fabric too.  It's hard to say no to $5 per metre! And we need new Christmas placemats...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tipsy Tree Brooch

It was like opening Pandora's box when I pulled out the Allegheny Santa the other day! Those Mill Hill kits are addictive!  Here's another quick finish to show:

Cute, eh? This one is almost all beads, with some satin stitches and Smyrna crosses to give variety.  Less than four hours, all in.  My mom wants one too, so I have kept the pattern this time. I think I can dredge up enough supplies from my stash to make one more.

I'm getting in that holiday mood!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Allegheny Santa

Just a quick finish to show you today.  I've been working on this while waiting for my replacement bulb for my sewing lamp.  It's one of the many Santa ornaments that Mill Hill has produced over the years.  This is one of the three Appalachian Santas.

Usually I work on these while on the road.  They are great take-along projects, and can be done in a small space and with any reasonable light.  I've done quite a few over the years!

In any case, my new bulb arrived yesterday, so now I am spoiled for choice while I consider what's next!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Clara - Finished!

I popped over to Art of Fabric in Pickering last weekend to look for the thread I needed to finish Clara's ears.  It wasn't in my stash, but judging from the other colours I did have, I thought it was probably DMC 841 that I needed.  Wrong!  It was a good thing I brought everything along with me to the store.  It turned out to be DMC 3864.

The new thread looked ever so slightly darker.  I used one old thread and one new thread together in the needle to blend out the transition, and I don't think you can see it at all on the finished piece.

I gave you a bit of a close up in the photo above so you can see the Algerian eyelets in the waistband, and the great shading you get from the Sampler Threads in the blouse.  The light blue squares are Morning Glory, the green ones are Evergreen, the purple is Hyacinth, and the pink is Victorian Pink.  The dark indigo of the apron is Midnight, and the lighter indigo of the skirt is Blue Jay.  The inside of the ears and the hearts on the apron are Cameo Pink.

Because I decided not to use any of the charms in the kit, I added another heart to the band on the apron (see below), and just used French knots for the buttons on both Clara and Henry.

Once they were both done, I saw that Henry was actually a little taller than Clara:

The plan is to set them both into pillow covers.  Given the great faded indigo look of the Sampler Threads, I think I will sacrifice some old jeans and make the covers out of denim.  I am glad the flood uncovered them. Clara was a fun and easy project, and I think they make a nice couple!
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