Cross stitch thread winder pocket – 2

As I’d hoped, this little cross stitch project is progressing quickly, so it’s keeping my interest.

The cross stitch on each panel can be completed in a couple of (longish) evenings. Each panel is then backstitched around the edge using fuchsia pink – this bit is important, as the backstitching is used in constructing the pocket. The yellow Symrna crosses and tiny opalescent beads finish off the cross stitching really well, and then I’m back to my non-favourite bit….assembling it!

I cut pieces of iron-on interfacing, to fit just inside the backstitched outline on each of the three panels. Then I finger-pressed the spare fabric to the back, and mitred the corners of the seam allowances (quite loosely), tacking them in place for now.

A tricky part was attaching the houndstooth check wool fabric to the smallest of the three areas of stitching with buttonhole stitch, carefully concealing the seam allowances as I did so – I seemed to need four pairs of hands to hold everything together as I did this, which I wasn’t expecting, but it worked out OK in the end.

Now I just need to lace the rest of the pocket into shape……


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Where to buy half cone sticks for needlelace embroidery

When I was making my Elizabethan bride’s bag recently, and posting photos on this blog, several people contacted me to ask where they could buy the half cone sticks from.

I used the half cone sticks to form the 3D shapes for the foxglove flowers and the bluebell flowers on the second side of my bag. I’d had the sticks for several years, but never used them before making this project. But now that I have, I can see me using them a lot more often, as the results are really good.

The sticks are temporarily tacked to the fabric, and then lifted up detached buttonhole stitch is worked over a base thread, row upon row, until the half cone shape is covered, then the stick is removed. I have tracked down various sizes of half cone stick, which are available from several UK websites (and I should think it wouldn’t be a problem for them to ship overseas, if necessary).

The type I own myself are available from Stitch Direct, and come in a set with a hedebo ring stick (to make circular needlelace rings, for flowers, etc). The text on their website says:

Hedebo Stick and Half Cone Set

The Hedebo stick (also known as a ring stick) is tapered with a range of diameters for producing cup like petals. The half cones are perfect for bell shaped flowers and create a wonderful three dimensional effect. The set contains one 7 tier Hedebo stick and two half cones, 1 inch (2.5 cms) and 1.5 ins ( 3.75 cms) long, not including the handle. Made from mahogany from a sustainable source these tools are light and will never rust or tarnish.

The set of three costs £18.73.

Set available from Stitch Direct

Viking Loom of York sell a half cone stick on its own for £4.50. No dimensions are given. The text on their website says:

Use as a template to stitch over to make a 3D flower shape.

Half cone stick from Viking Loom

The Guild of Needle Laces  sells several different designs and sizes, singly, for £5 each. The text on their website says:

Half Cone Sticks or ‘Shoes’: Small, medium and large. Tapered or rounded ends. Please state your preference.

These are used when making stump work flowers. You work your stitches over the half cone and remove the half cone when the stitches are finished. This gives you a raised effect.

These are available singly from the Guild of Needle Laces

They also sell a ‘Raised Embroidery Set’ for £20. The text for this says:

This set includes a brass stiletto, medium ring stick and five half cone sticks of various sizes.

Raised embroidery set from the Guild of Needle Laces

Another really good one is Needlepaws –  a UK business which (from the look of the items shown) manufactures some of the items mentioned above, so maybe try them first, as they also sell direct to the public. For instance, they sell five sizes of half cone stick for £5 each, to these dimensions:

Large –   45mm x 13mm

Dumpy – 28mm x 12mm

Medium – 32mm x 10mm

Stumpy – 18mm x 12mm

Tiny  –    17mm x 7mm

Five sizes, available from Needlepaws

They also sell lots of other wooden needle lace and embroidery tools, so they are well worth a visit, even if you’re not looking for half cone sticks just now. Their range of hedebo sticks is wide, and they also sell stilettos and thread palettes.

Postage needs to be added to the prices of all these products, for all companies listed above, depending on the total value of your order. I don’t get any commission for recommending these products and websites, I just think they should be more widely known about  🙂


EDIT 26 July 2012: Thanks to Elmsley Rose for alerting me to this extra supplier, in Australia – Alison Cole Embroidery sells a set of two half cone sticks and a hedebo stick for AUS$25.


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Success! My Sufi embroidered boxes sold well!

Last week I was in Germany, at the Sufi summer school that I go to each year. On the Wednesday afternoon, there’s always a market, where participants offer for sale things that they’ve made, and I took some of the embroidered boxes that I’ve been featuring on this blog.

I was really pleased to sell about three-quarters of the boxes that I took, and all three of the miniature framed pictures. People often sell jewellery, or ethnic-style clothes suitable for dancing, but no-one else was selling anything embroidered.

They have all gone to good homes – some of them, to the homes of senior Sufi teachers, as several people who bought a box told me that it would be a gift for their teacher.

The Dervish design box is one of these – it will be given to a woman in America who is well known for her beautifully graceful dervish dancing (‘turning’).

One of my firends, who is half Scottish and half Australian, bought the box with ‘Allaho Akbar’ in Arabic calligraphy on it – the first box in this series that I ever made.

And one couple bought a  Sufi heart and wings box to put their wedding rings in when they get married next month, which I think is really sweet.

So, I only have a few left, now, and they will probably be given as either birthday presents or initiation presents to people that I know. Well worth the time it took to make them all, I think  🙂


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Details of the Sufi embroidered boxes

Here are some close-ups of the Sufi embroidered boxes that I’ve been making during the past year (see my previous post for why I’ve been doing this!).

This is my favourite colourway of all the boxes I’ve made, so I’ve assumed other people would agree with me, and made several like this 🙂

The boxes are just right for storing prayer beads in – they measure about two inches by three and a half, by two inches high.

This is an Arabic calligraphy box, showing the phrase ‘Subhan Allah’, which means ‘All glory be to God’.

This one shows the phrase ‘Allaho Akbar’, which means ‘God is greater than all things’. This one was lovely to do, but took ages, as the stitches around the curves had to be placed very carefully, or the design lost the flowing lines. It was done in stem stitch rows, mostly, with one strand of a Stef Francis variegated silk thread. The box measures just over three inches in diameter.

And this one is stitched on duck egg blue Dupion silk, with a pale pink heart and feathers in silver thread, inspired by my friend Lindsay, who just loves all things pink!

This is the whole collection of boxes I’ve stitched:


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