Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 6

I’ve been stitching the skirt of Celtic Autumn for hours now – first, doing all the gold outlining (that took nearly ten hours just on its own), and then filling in the shading. The terracotta part was very detailed, using five shades (some of them very close shades, too), but it’s coming out beautifully. As I expected, I didn’t enjoy stitching the pale cream band quite so much, but that part’s all done, now.

Celtic Autumn after 60 hours of stitching – gradually, the skirt is getting ‘filled in’ !
…and after 70 hours. Filling in the terracotta shades was fun to do. It’s all looking much more ‘solid’, now.
Close-up of the skirt on the right hand side. The gaps that are still left are to have gold seed beads stitched on, later.

As I’m working my way down the skirt of this Celtic lady, I’ve noticed that different kinds of stitching make me think of different things. Or, rather, stitching of different kinds gives me opportunities for different kinds of thinking.

Let me explain:

Usually, I do surface embroidery of various types – particularly stumpwork. Lately, I’ve been attracted to cross stitch again, after several years of not doing any. For my business, Janet Granger Designs, I do miniature needlepoint, on fine counts of canvas and silk gauze.

A doll’s house room, showing miniature needlepoint items from my range of kits

I’ve found that each of these types of stitching make me think differently as I’m doing them. For instance, with stumpwork and other surface embroidery techniques, although the planning stage can be quite tedious and needs attention to be successful (such as when I’m transferring the design to the fabric via tracing, or working running stitch over pencilled lines on tissue paper), once that part has been done, then the actual stitching is incredibly relaxing. I can get into an almost meditative state while I’m doing it. Each stitch almost ‘places itself’, as I don’t have to be consciously aware of what I’m doing, and yet I’m really concentrating – but in a relaxed way. It’s as if my left brain has been switched off, and my right brain can ‘get on with it’. So, I can really relax with surface embroidery.

This is a bag I made for my MP3 player, using surface embroidery, gold thread, and beads

Cross stitch (or any counted technique) leads to my brain working differently, I think. If I am constantly referring to a chart, then what I tend to have running through my mind while I’m stitching is something like ‘three green squares, miss one, two more green ones, miss one, down a line and one to the left, stitch five, miss two’ etc etc. So, there isn’t much opportunity to go ‘away with the fairies’!

‘Mrs Waddelow’s Huswif’ – a cross stitch design from With My Needle

Needlepoint is similar to cross stitch in the effect it has on my thinking, in that the design needs counting from the chart first, but then there is the ‘right brain’ part of the project where the background needs to be filled in (which isn’t usually the case with cross stitch). So I can get to the meditative state with that too, to some extent.

This is stitched in needlepoint on 40 count silk gauze – stitching the background is when it can get meditative!

It’s not that one type of stitching is better than the other, it’s just that I hadn’t noticed the differences in the way they make me think before.

One way that I have found to introduce a bit of ‘meditation practice time’ into my cross stitching is to repeat affirmations while I’m stitching some of the simpler areas; either a short phrase with each up or down motion of the needle, or one word each time. I’ve got some of the Louise Hay affirmation cards, and also some of the Abraham Teachings (Esther Hicks) cards, and they both have good affirmations to work with.

It probably makes me look a bit strange if anyone were to watch me stitching, as I tend to mumble them just under my breath, but I have found that they help to keep me focussed on ‘inner stuff’, which is important to me, and I get my stitching done at the same time!

Does this approach resonate with anyone else?


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And here are the winners…..

A few weeks ago, I announced that there was a Giveaway offer running in New Stitches magazine (the November issue, number 235). The Giveaway was for the chance to win one of eight miniature needlepoint handbag kits (the design called ‘Delicate Flowers’, which is the one I am holding in the picture below) from my range for doll’s houses. The closing date has now passed, and the winners have been chosen. The kits are now in the post, so if you were one of the winners, look out for an interesting little parcel coming through your letterbox in the next few days!

A selection of doll’s house scale handbags to make, stitched on 32 count silk gauze

The winners are:

Clare Davis from Cowbridge

Kate Rawlings from Davyhulme

Valerie Puleston from Canterbury

Mrs C Knott from Worthing

Elaine Lewis from Elsenham

Elizabeth Redhead from Hemswell

Mrs J Shadbolt from Banbury

Sarah Laycock from Fleet

If you weren’t one of the winners, but you’d like to try stitching one of these cute little handbags for your doll’s house, then they can be bought for £9.50 each, from my website. There are eight designs in the handbag range altogether.

One of my customers bought one of the other designs (called ‘Rose reticule’) as soon as the kits were launched a couple of months ago, and recently sent me this picture of the finished handbag in her miniature orangery. Doesn’t it look great?


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Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 5

I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks, and not had as much time for stitching as I’d have liked, but here is the Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Autumn’ cross stitch design after another ten hours (fifty hours of stitching altogether):

Celtic Autumn by Lavender and Lace, after 50 hours of stitching

…and after 40 hours:

This is what it looked like after 40 hours

As you can see, what I’ve been mostly working on is the gold swirls on the skirt. In fact, I’ve hardly done anything else on this, during this 10 hour section! I’m stitching it using Rainbow Gallery’s Petite Treasure Braid number 1 (one strand). Some people who have stitched this design have said on their blogs that they hated stitching the gold thread part of Celtic Autumn, but I quite like it. It clearly defines the areas that are to be filled in with the Anchor stranded cotton, making the next part easier to do. I’ve used other ‘gold’ threads in the past, such as Balger blending filament (which I could have cheerfully thrown across the room, as it stretched and snapped really easily, even when used in conjunction with other threads in the same needle). Kreinik number four braid is a possible substitution for the thread I’m using, but would have worked out quite a bit more expensive. I’m on my third 25 yard card of Petite Treasure Braid already, and I haven’t finished the gold detailing yet.

The method I’ve been using to stitch this part of the chart is not one that I usually use – I’ve been working across a horizontal line of the chart, from left to right, then from right to left, working my way down to the hem of the skirt, just stitching what it says on the chart, and taking no notice of whether I’m making the ‘swirls’ or not. I use a magnetic ruler on top of a metal board, placed aross a line of the chart, so that I can clearly work out which line I’m copying. I’ve read on a cross stitching forum that the design is so complicated for this part, that it’s really easy to go wrong if you try to complete one ‘swirl’ before doing the next (if you can identify where one ends and the next one begins), so I just decided to be like one of those Seventies knitting machines that would read cards with punched holes in, line by line! I managed to get right down to the hem without going wrong, fortunately.


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Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 4

I’ve done 40 hours of stitching on this lovely design, now, and it’s looking like this:

Celtic Autumn after 40 hours of cross stitching

This was how it looked after 30 hours:

I’ve found it to be very relaxing doing the shading on the skirt, although I do need good light, as the shades are incredibly close, sometimes. If I put a piece of thread down, and don’t tie it onto its relevant skein, I might as well throw it away, as it’s sometimes impossible to be sure (especially with the terracotta shades) which skein it was originally from. The terracotta stripe at the back of the skirt, for instance, has three shades in it, but you’d hardly know, would you?

As with the shawl around the upper body, I’m not enjoying stitching the pale shades of the skirt on the pale fabric quite so much as the terracotta and green colours. I’m debating whether to get on with it and finish those pale colours on the whole design, just to get them out of the way!

I had my first bit of frogging (unpicking) to do during this ten hour chunk, too – I mis-counted while stitching the gold thread on the right hand side, as I planned out the medallions, so I had to undo the gold on four motifs and start again. NOT pleased with that!


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