I have just added four new firescreen kits to my miniature needlepoint kit website today. They have all been designed to complement existing items in my range, so if you like the matching look, these kits will help make your doll’s house rooms even better 🙂 You can choose from ‘Berlin Woolwork’ (a striking black and gold design with a multicoloured floral centre), ‘Tree of Life’ (a plant with sweepinging stems, sporting fantastic flowers and leaves), ‘Willow Pattern’ (traditional blue and white), or ‘Barbara green’ (flowers in shades of peach, on a trellis background).
Each firescreen kit contains a piece of 32 count silk gauze, a colour block chart to count the design from, plenty of Anchor stranded cotton, detailed instructions, a suitable needle, and a white metal firescreen frame kit, which comes as three parts and simply needs gluing together and then painting with an enamel colour of your choice.
When finished, the firescreens measure two and three quarter inches high, by two inches wide.
They can be bought from the ONLINE SHOP now. There is a FREE ONLINE TUTORIAL for the firescreen kits, if you’d like more detail about what making one of these kits involves.
The kits cost £19.95 each.
Here are images of the new firescreens, along with the other kits that co-ordinate with them:
This photo has come out a little bit more realistically than previous ones (my camera doesn’t like taking photos of black silk). The thread colours are really jewel-like, and this image gives a hint of that.
This week, I’ve been working on filling in the scroll on the left of the panel by Alison Cole. The outline is couched in gold Elizabethan Twist, using Gutermann thread. The ‘points’ work out more successfully if they are done as two separate lengths, as, even with tweezers to pinch the tip, it is hard to get a sharp point simply by turning the gold thread back on itself. It is better to take the thread to the back, and re-emerge a short distance away before continuing. To colour in the scroll with the silk thread, Alison suggests working a couple of rows of stem stitch filling in from each of the sides, then filling in the centre gap last (rather than working from one side to the other), which I found to work very well.
Before stitching the scroll, I worked the stems for the currants and blackberries – both of these have gold kid leather leaves, like the forget-me-nots did. I really enjoyed making the redcurrants – they are made using a largish red bead, which is then wrapped carefully with one strand of red thread, and just before finishing off the thread, a tuft of black and gold threads together are secured in the top end of the berry. Leaving a tail of red thread enables you to attach the currants to the fabric. The blackberries were also great fun to make. I was very pleased with these! They need a tiny layer of black felt for padding, then little iridescent purple and blue-black beads are sewn all over the black felt, creating the berry. The sepals were a pain, though! They are really tiny needlelace picots, and they are each only about a quarter of an inch long, made after the berries (so there’s hardly any room to manoevre the needle). They look great now they’re finished….but I’m so pleased they’re finished! They are a bit ‘loose’, and not very tidily-woven, but they are lucky to be there at all, and not in the ort heap! This image below shows how ‘raised’ the berries are, and how much they catch the light:
I’ve been getting on with this Illuminated Floral stumpwork panel by Alison Cole, and it’s really starting to look good, now.
The stems of the star flowers (on the far left) have been stitched in chain stitch – the pansy stems (centre) in split back stitch, and also the forget-me-not stems (on the far right). All stems have one side couched with gold thread alongside them, as a highlight. I was a bit bemused by the forget-me-nots (which I have always thought were BLUE flowers), being stitched with PINK thread. Maybe in Australia they’re pink… Anyway, the forget-me-not leaves are partly stem stitch filling, and partly gold kid leather applique pieces. These have to be absolutely tiny – I kept trimming more and more off the leather, but they still looked huge. I still think they’re a bit too big, but they’ll have to do now.
The instructions said to just fix them at the base of each leaf, but when I tried that, the gold leaf on the kid started to lift off, so I had to add another tacking stitch at the tip of the leaf, to hold it all down.
The pansy buds are worked with two layers of felt padding, long and short stitch filling in lilac silk on top, and then the sepals are a blend of green silk and gold thread in the needle together, making tiny chain stitches. As I’ve mentioned before, my camera is having trouble taking photos of black silk, so these are coming out looking a bit ‘washed out’ – really, this is a very vibrant piece of embroidery!
I’ve found a lovely new hobby. Well, not exactly new. I’ve decided I want to do some patchwork, which I haven’t done since I was 15 (shockingly, I realised that’s 35 years ago). Back then, there were no such things as rotary cutters and self-healing mats. So, the quilt I made for my bed during one winter was all hand cut, hand pieced, hand quilted…it took me six months, and by the time it was finished, I was sick of the sight of it, so I gave it away!
But recently, I was drawn in to the ‘modern’ way of quiltmaking, and I’m desperate to have a go, now! I’d been Googling websites to do with the Amish way of life – from there, I came across images of their quilts (which use plain colours, mainly dark blues/purples/browns). Then I found American Civil War quilt designs, using reproduction fabrics in muted shades, and small scale patterns.
AND THEN, I found a couple of websites where people were selling design packs for making mini quilts in these Civil War type designs. That’s when I got hooked. They’re small, you see, and I love all things small. And as they’re small, they don’t take up much room when they’re finished. This last bit is vital, as my house is already full, so anything else that I make has to be small to be squeezed in 🙂
All these websites that I found, by the way, are in America. I tried to find something suitable in the UK, but quilting and patchwork in the UK has gone off at a tangent – the designs are cutesy, often using hot pastels or 1950’s retro fabrics, and with many designs being for children. Not my kind of thing at all.
So, once I found what I wanted, I had to get things shipped to the UK – not an easy (or cheap) task – some US websites won’t ship outside America, which is very frustrating. But I did find a few really good websites to help me get started, with shipping at a reasonable cost.
The first website with gorgeous small patterns was From my Heart to Your Hands, run by Lori Smith. I bought a pattern pack for 9 quilt designs, each measuring 16 x 20 inches when finished, for $12 plus very affordable shipping of $4 (other US website owners please take note – international airmail shipping doesn’t HAVE to start at $16!!!).
Lori has also written a book, which has many of her small designs in:
I ordered some fat quarters from The Fat Quarter Shop. This website is enormous, and I could have bought dozens of their fat quarter packs, which are really well displayed, with mouth-watering colour selections…just yummy!
Then I was tempted to get another pattern from Primitive Gatherings, even though I suspect this one will be a killer to do, as the triangles are tiny (the finished quilt is only 12 x 14 inches).
My wishlist on Amazon has grown hugely in the past few weeks, as I add books on quilting and patchwork as if they are going out of fashion (which they probably are). This one looks really good:
So, expect to see my attempt at quilting and patchwork soon.