Monthly Archives: September 2012

On the cover of Dolls House World magazine this month…

….is me.

Well, not exactly me, but a room setting featuring a collection of miniature needlepoint kits from my range  (called ‘Alice’, in the blue colourway). They are on the cover to highlight the fact that the Maker Profile in this month’s issue is about me. So, if you want to find out what makes me tick, how I design, and how I got into doing such a strange thing for a living, then get a copy of Dolls House World this month – on sale from today, 27th September.

The September 2012 issue of Dolls house World magazine

PS: When I got the image of the cover emailed to me, I was very excited, and showed the image to my husband. His response? ‘Is that a big deal, then?’ YESSSSS!!!

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A new cross stitch project – ‘Mrs Waddelow’s Huswif’, from With my Needle

The chart pack for the huswif

I bought the chart pack for Mrs Waddelow’s Huswif about six months ago, but it’s been lurking in my stash cupboard since then. As Ellen Chester, who runs With my Needle, told me in an email that this design stitches up quite quickly (as it’s stitched in just one shade of a hand dyed thread), I thought I’d get this one done before I start my mammoth project – Celtic Autumn – which I expect to take months.

The huswif is a long length of fabric, with the cross stitch design on one side, and pockets made from five different cotton fabrics on the other. Ellen suggests that you choose your cotton fabrics first, and then find thread and evenweave fabric to match the cotton prints afterwards.

This photo shows the Crescent Colours thread ‘Ruby Slippers’, that I’d originally planned to use.

I love stitching on yellow fabric, so I bought a fat quarter bundle of cotton print fabrics on Ebay, in various shades of lemon yellow with pink/red flowers and fruits on them. I then chose some  yellow 28 count Permin evenweave from Sew and So. That was the easy part. I wanted to do the stitching in a darkish purply red hand dyed thread, but there are no bricks and mortar embroidery shops near me, so I had to choose online, which is never easy.

The first thread I bought was too brown, when I actually received it. So next I ordered Crescent Colours’ Ruby Slippers. But when I started to stitch with it, the variegations in the thread just seemed too coarse. Dark red, light red, dark red, light red. Very predictable. I’m sure it’s great when used on the correct project, but this wasn’t it. Before I’d got too far into this project, I had to choose something else.

This is a motif from the huswif, worked in the Crescent Colours thread that I decided wasn’t right – the variegations aren’t subtle enough.

I settled on a Thread Gatherer shade called ‘In the burgundy’, which was much better – uneven lengths of tones such as a plummy maroon, light purple, deep red, scarlet, mulberry….loads of colours. And the thread itself is great to work with – very smooth, as it’s silk. Bit pricey at nearly £6 per skein, but I only needed one skein for the whole project (the huswif itself, and a tiny needlebook).

This image shows cross stitch worked with: two strands, then one strand but in ‘reversible cross stitch’, then one strand.

Ellen suggests that the type of cross stitch used to work this project is ‘reversible cross stitch’.  I’d never heard of that. It is a stitch which looks like a normal cross stitch on the front of the fabric, and on the reverse there are crosses separated by uprights between the crosses. This is because the crosses are made with two passes from bottom left to top right, and one pass from bottom right to top left. Ellen says that when she was first stitching up this design on her fabric, one strand in the needle looked too spindly, two strands was too thick, but two passes in one direction and one in the other with one strand gave perfect coverage. Actually, I was hoping that, with the thread I’d chosen, this might not be the case, as it meant each stitch takes 50% longer to complete, but I did a quick sample, and annoyingly, she was right!!

This is how much I got stitched on Saturday….

…and by Sunday night

I got into the project ‘properly’ last Saturday, and got a serious amount completed on Sunday. It’s not going to take very long to get this finished  🙂

The Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Ladies’ have got me….

A couple of weeks ago, I posted here about the death of Marilyn Leavitt Imblum, the designer of the Lavender and Lace angels and Celtic Ladies, who was also known for her ‘Told in a Garden’ range of cross stitch.

Several times, I have been back to her website during the past two weeks, looking at her lovely designs again and again…

Eventually I got to the stage where I decided that I really *did* want to stitch some of those huge, complicated cross stitch pictures. I’ve done two of the angels before (Angel of Hope, and Angel of Summer), but this time round it’s the Celtic Ladies that have attracted me.

At first, I was just mildly interested in getting perhaps one chart – then I had a quick look on Ebay (as you do), and saw that someone was selling all the Celtic Lady charts, together with all the threads and beads as well.

Well, you can’t pass up the chance to get a bargain, can you? Well, I can’t. I managed to ‘win’ one – the Celtic Spring design. Which is fortunate, really, as, having spent a bit more time researching the colours of threads and fabric, that is the only one where I wouldn’t want to alter something in the pack! I still need to track down the correct fabric to stitch her on – the chart pack suggests Zweigart 28 count linen ‘Willow Green’ – but that seems to be impossible to get at the moment. 

So, I then set about finding the other charts. I got Celtic Christmas next. I had most of the necessary threads in my stash already, so the beads didn’t take long to get hold of. The beads and fabric I got from Sew and So (I love that website – huge range, and very quick service). I decided that I’ll stitch the design on the recommended fabric – 28 count Cashel linen, in Natural colour. I’ve loved this design ever since it first came out, about 15 or so years ago!

An almost-finished version of Celtic Christmas, on black fabric – beautiful, but hard to do, I should think

Above is a version that I found online, stitched on black fabric. It’s stunning, but I don’t think I could face doing such a large project on black fabric!

Celtic Autumn chart, but with the threads for the alternative colourway.

The Celtic Autumn design is probably the one I’ll stitch first, as I found a lovely alternative colourway for it on the Lavender and Lace forum.

The alternative colourway for Celtic Autumn

A detail of the alternative colourway

Instead of the original yellowy olive/lavender colourway (a bit weird for Autumn, I thought), I’m going to do it in green and russet shades, which seems much more fitting. The fabric I am going to stitch it on is 28 count Cashel linen ‘Platinum’.

I’ve still to get the chart for Celtic Summer, which is a gorgeous design, but again, the colourway isn’t quite right.

Celtic Summer in the original colourway

I  love this alternative colourway in more teal/blue shades – I’m just trying to track down the actual thread shades now, as, so far I’ve only got an image to go by, that I found on a blog that seems ‘dead’ now.

[Edit 24 Sept 2012: I have recently found out that the reason that these two images above look so different, is that the cover photo on the chart pack appears to be a computer-generated image. That is, it is the colour block chart with the gridlines removed, superimposed on a fabric image background. This would account for the harshness of the colours. When the design is actually stitched in the colours suggested in the colour key, it comes out looking like the larger photo above (although the fabric used above is obviously a different shade).  Celtic Summer, Celtic Autumn and Celtic Winter have all been put on sale with these ‘constructed’ kitfront photos, which is a pity, IMO. A  photo of real stitching would have sold more charts, I think. Still, at least it means that I can now buy the ‘usual’ threads and beads for Celtic Summer, and know what it will come out like. I still have the problem that some of the Needlepaints that this design calls for are unavailable now, but I am going to use Presencia Finca thread instead, as they seem to have close matches.]

The Celtic Winter design, in its original colours

Celtic Winter is another lovely design, but again, I’ve got my eye on alternative colours. The original chart has gold thread around the hem – I think a more blue-toned dress, and silver thread highlights, would work better. And there’s an alternative colourway version that I’ve seen where the hair colour is changed from a very dark brown to a silvery white, which tones better with the pale icy colours of the rest of the design.

[Edit 24 Sept 2012: This lovely alternative version shown below comes from HERE, on Nathalie’s website – where she displays many Lavender and Lace designs that she’s stitched (including all of the Celtic Ladies), many in alternative colourways or with adaptations to the design, and they’re all beautiful!!]

This beautiful customised version of Celtic Winter has the silvery hair and silver thread that I would like to use

I’ve read on a Celtic Ladies Stitch A Long blog that each of these Celtic Ladies takes about a hundred hours to make, including attaching the beads (often around 1000 of them per design). Never one to to be disheartened, I just feel that it’s a long term project. I definitely haven’t got enough wall space left to display all of these at once, if I ever get all five of them stitched. But one stitcher on a blog had the good idea of displaying each one in its suitable ‘season’, so each one got displayed for a few weeks each year.

I’ll probably do that then. All I need to do now is get stitching…..

Tiny handbags for doll’s house dolls have just been launched as kits!

The new range of handbag kits – some stitched on 32 count silk gauze, and some stitched on 40 count

Customers have been asking me to design some mini needlepoint handbags for years – and eventually I’ve got around to it! This week I’ve launched kits for eight designs altogether, to be stitched on either 32 or 40 count silk gauze, depending on the design, using tent stitch. You can see full details and buy them on my website.

I had great fun designing these – once I had worked out a good way to assemble the finished stitching, the designs just kept coming! The series covers day bags and evening bags, for several different historical eras. There’s even an Art Deco one called ‘Jazz Age’.

An Art Deco style handbag called ‘Jazz Age’

Each handbag kit contains a piece of silk gauze (32 or 40), Anchor stranded cotton threads, a colour block chart (the design is not printed on the fabric), detailed instructions, suitable needles, a tiny bead for the closure, beading thread, and fine gold thread for the handle. The bags measure approximately seven eighths of an inch across, when finished.

This is what you get in a handbag kit

For those of you who perhaps haven’t tackled anything this small before, there are many free  tutorials on my website which cover everything from what equipment you’ll need to do miniature needlepoint, to how to make up these tiny handbag kits.

Part of the handbag Tutorial – everything you need to know is explained clearly

The beginning of the Handbag Tutorial

Each kit costs £9.95. Shipping is free on the website on orders of £40 or more (under £40, there’s a flat-rate charge of £1.50  per order).

Why not treat yourself to a little needlepoint kit to start the Autumn? Even a doll’s house doll can never have enough handbags  🙂