I’ve just begun the stitching project of a lifetime

A few months ago, I bought the chart pack for this wonderful design called ‘A Stitch In Time’ by Aimee Stewart, who designs for HAED (Heaven and Earth Designs). Isn’t it gorgeous? But it’s huge. When it’s finished (and I’m going to stitch it on 25 count Lugana evenweave, which is quite fine) it will measure almost three feet by two. That’s about 340,000 stitches.

I know, I know. Do I have enough life left to finish it? Hope so!

ASIT 1

When I first got the chart pack, although the instructions gave DMC thread information in the colour key, I decided to use Anchor, as I use that brand for all the miniature needlepoint kits that I produce, so I have the whole range anyway, so I thought that would be better.

I did have flu at the time, so that’s my excuse for deciding to do something so daft  :-)

So, I spent a sniffy weekend working out the thread equivalents for myself, and cutting all the threads, and winding them onto bobbins.

They looked really nice in the box that I found, to keep them in.

ASIT 5

But then I did a sample area (if you’re going to invest years of your time on something, it’s good to do a quick sample). And I found that as the design had been made to use DMC, it just didn’t work as well with Anchor, as, for some colours, I had to duplicate them, so the subtle shading wouldn’t have worked the same.

So, I treated myself, and ordered the thread pack from HAED in the USA. When it arrived, it was beautifully packaged. There was even a little fabric pouch with a wooden needle holder in, and a needle threader (which I am now addicted to using – more about that in another blog post!).

ASIT 4

This design is BIG. I attached my fabric to the largest rectangular frame that I own – it’s got 30 inch horizontal bars. Even so, I am having to stitch this design sideways, or the fabric wouldn’t have fit the frame at all. Still, it looks nice in my stitching corner, ready to go.

On the round table next to my chair, you can just see the two Pako thread organisers that I use with this design. I use one needle for each colour, and store them in the triangular organiser. otherwise, I’d spend most of my stitching time changing the thread in my needle.

ASIT 3

As this design is so huge, and the chart pages are solid with stitches, you need to have a plan when you tackle one of these. I watched a few YouTube videos first, and it was suggested that you grid your fabric into 10 x 10 areas, so that you can count from the chart easier. I don’t usually bother to do this, but this design has 87 colours (and this is the SIMPLE version – there’s a detailed version available too, with 235 colors!!!). To grid, I used Sulky Sliver metallic thread (that’s not a typo – it really is called Sliver, and I used the purple shade), which is like a strong filament (a bit like Balger). It pulls out very easily when you remove it after stitching an area, but doesn’t split if you catch it with your needle whilst stitching.

I made an acrylic pattern ‘window’ to place over my chart, with a 10 x 10 square area highlighted at the corners with a permanent pen, so that I can quickly see which part of the pattern I am working on. I hold it in place with a needle minder magnet, and can slide it around on the chart when I need to.

ASIT 2

When I actually started stitching, this tiny area took me 4 hours to do. I’m doing it in tent stitch, rather than cross stitch, as it will take half the time to complete that way, and the stitches are so tiny that coverage is good. In the first 10 x 10 area, there are 37 different colours. This is going to be a slow project  :-)

ASIT 6

I must admit that until I started to see a bit of something recognisable emerging, I did wonder if I had lost my mind completely. But as the detail started to emerge into something that I could make out, I got really hooked on doing this. It’s an exercise in concentration, and just focussing on the little bit in front of you. But the design is just amazing – so many details in it.

This is where I am up to, after three months. Yes, that’s three months. I average a page a month. And there are 84 pages for this design. That’s probably about seven years, if I don’t get bored with it along the way. I also have to allow extra time to colour in each page of the chart with pencils first. I know that a lot of people use pdf software these days to highlight the areas of a chart that they’re working on, and then use an iPad or something to work from, but I like to do it with pencils and paper, as I can really get into the detail of that particular page before I start stitching. And I love colouring with pencils, too (another blog post, I think).

I stitch using the ‘cross country’ method. That is, I stitch all the squares of one colour over the whole page, then pick the next colour and do that again, until the page is finished. As each 10 x 10 block is completed, I cross it out on the chart. Some people stitch using the ‘parking method’, where they stitch all the squares of one colour in a small area (such as one 10 x 10 block), and then park the thread in the next box at the point where the first stitch using that colour occurs, unthreading the needle and letting the thread hang loose. But just the thought of all those untidy threads does my head in! I have to keep things tidy! The part I’ve stitched so far measures about seven inches high, to give you an idea of the scale.

ASIT 7

The part I’ve stitched so far is the very top left hand corner of the design – here is a part of the original painting again, to show the area I’ve done. Except for the bottom left hand corner. That’s another month’s stitching, then.

ASIT 8

It’ll be lovely when it’s finished, but the journey is great, too. What do you think?

Are you stitching for the competition of the year?

Have you entered my competition yet for the chance to win £200 to spend on miniature needlepoint kits and charts?

Who has the most beautiful doll’s house full of mini stitching? Could it be you?

There is one prize of £200 in vouchers and two runner-up prizes of £20 in vouchers to be won. The closing date is 14th November 2016.

All you need to do is take photos of one of your existing doll’s house rooms full of stitching, or start stitching now to complete a room, to be in with a chance of winning!

Simply follow the rules as explained in full on my website, to have a chance at winning £200 of miniature needlepoint kits and charts.

Have a look at the Customers’ Stitching page of my website now, for lots of inspirational ideas. Dining rooms, drawing rooms, summer houses…..all kinds of rooms in miniature can have mini needlepoint added to them.

Bella group 540

This gives you an idea of what £200 of kits looks like (of course, the exact choice would be up to you – in this selection, there are 13 kits):

competition prize £200

The winning image and two runner-up images will be decided solely at my discretion, and the result announced on Friday 18th November 2016 on my website, in my email newsletter and on social media (including here, of course!). Winners will be notified personally by email. There is no time limit on when the vouchers have to be used by.

By entering the competition, you agree that any images submitted, whether they win or not, can be used in publicity both online and/or in printed magazines at my discretion (the stitcher’s first name or initials may be used in publicity, but not the full name or address).

Barbara-green-group-540

So, get those cameras out and have a go! It could be you who wins the £200 of kits and charts – but only if you enter the competition! (You’ve got to be in it to win it, as they say!)

Visit the website now to see the whole range that you can choose from to make your dream doll’s house room.

My workroom gets a makeover!

I work from home, and anyone who does as well will tell you that it is difficult to make the distinction  between ‘work’ and ‘non-work’ when you do that. I have lived in this house in the Peak District for over 16 years now, and the rest of the house has been decorated to be exactly how my husband and I both like it – kind of comfy!

But the workroom (much like a craft room, only it’s the place where I am supposed to be earning my living! – the place where I spend the majority of my day) was the last room to get decorated. It always seemed to come last in the list of priorities, somehow. But not any more!

We’d planned how to do it, ages ago, and even bought the paint and fabric for curtains. But that’s as far as it got.

After some ‘reminding’, my husband waited until I was away from home for a week, and then, while I was out of the way, he cleared out the workroom, painted the ceiling and walls, and laid the new carpet. When I returned, I was suitably stunned to see the transformation! Now that the curtains for in front of the shelving have been made, I have a beautiful workspace to make the kits and parcels in for my needlepoint kit business.

Here’s some ‘before and after’ photos:

Everything used to be stored in old cardboard boxes, box lids, old packaging – it was just so messy. The shelving over the radiator was from our old house, and although it’s a practical size and height, I didn’t like it being the first thing you looked at as you came into the room.

Room 1

So now, all of that shelving is hidden behind curtains (and what is on the shelves is in standardised cartons, too). The nifty shelf unit with all the little drawers in was made by my husband, Chris, after we had spent days trawling round the shops looking for something suitable. It seems that six foot high, 30-drawer shelf units aren’t needed by anyone else! Can’t think why…. This is where I store all the stock of doll’s house needlepoint kits that are very small. They are organised by type, at the bottom of the unit. Towards the top, I store the balls of Appleton’s wool that I use to make up the doll’s house carpet kits. Everything is labelled neatly, because that’s what I’m like  :-)

Room 5

This was where I kept the packaging materials for making up parcels, plus an overflow of some of the kit stock, plus the bulk Anchor stranded cotton cones.

Room 2

These are all tidily put away behind more curtains, now.

Room 6

This is the ‘space behind the door’. Hmm, a bit of a non-area, and such a mess!

Room 4

It is now my canvas-cutting area, parcel-making area and generally tidy space! The box on the floor with the padded fabric lid is a seat when I have visitors, and a storage bin for polystyrene packaging ‘lumps’ the rest of the time.

Room 7

Here is my desk, old cutting area, and storage for the doll’s house carpet kits above the desk.

Room 3

This is the same area once tidied up, with lighting installed under the deep shelving, so that I can actually see what I’m doing!

Room 8

I love this room now! It’s just great to work in!

Autumn Quakers 2: a slight problem….

I’ve been working away on this lovely sampler lately, which I started in April 2015. It’s called ‘Autumn Quakers’, and is a cross stitch sampler chart pack, by Rosewood Manor:

Autumn Quakers 4

It uses 12 shades of Valdani variegated thread in gorgeous Autumn shades. I bought this accessory pack direct from Rosewood Manor, which contains all the shades needed just for this project. The box measures about four inches square. Isn’t it cute?! I use one needle per colour, which is why each ball has a tapestry needle sticking out of it!

Autumn 8

I have just got to the point where I needed to add the date to the sampler. I had to amend the date from what was charted (2014) to 2015 (as I date my stitching from the year I start it, not the date I finish things – just to be awkward!). The chart shows the numbers like this:

Autumn 5

There is a set of numbers listed in the chart booklet at the side of the chart, to allow for alterations. However, I realised that the additional numbers are two squares taller than the ones on the chart!

Autumn 6

So, I have had to create my own ‘number five’ in the smaller font, and re-position some of the surrounding cross stitch motifs to make adequate space for the date.

Autumn 7

Other than that little glitch, I’m really pleased with how this is turning out  :-)