There’s a thing doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment, called the Five Day Art Challenge. Artisans are nominated to present three photos of their work on their blog for 5 consecutive days, nominating another artisan on each day.
A fellow miniaturist, Sandra Morris, of Tower House Dolls nominated me, so here goes with my contribution…….
I started my business, Janet Granger Designs, in 1996, after writing a book, published by the Guild of Master Craftsmen, called ‘Miniature Needlepoint Carpets’ (now out of print). The 25 designs that were featured in that book made up the first kits that I decided to produce – now, 19 years later, I reckon I have designed over 400 miniature items altogether!
Here is the cover of the book:
And here are two of the most popular mini carpet designs from it – these are still available as full kits, to be stitched on 18 count canvas with Appletons crewel wool, from my online shop.
Now that the Gingerbread Stitching House is finished, I’m back to working on the spoolholder again.
Here is the side wall of the spoolholder from Carolyn Pearce’s Home Sweet Home Workbox book, with my embroidery completed. I found some tiny brass bee charms on Ebay (12 for £1.99), which were smaller than the ones suggested in the book, but more in scale for such a small item, I think, so I am very pleased with those.
Having finished the side wall, and having previously stitched the top and base, I now needed to assemble the whole thing. The instructions Carolyn Pearce gives in her book call for a decorative edging stitch around the top and bottom of the cylindrical spoolholder, called Knotted Pearl Stitch. I hadn’t come across this stitch before, so I practiced it first.
I worked the stitch much larger than I would use it on the spoolholder itself, to get the rhythm correct, and the spacing – then it would be easy to just ‘close up’ the distances between the stitches when I did it ‘for real’.
Coming up in the middle between two pencilled lines, I took a stitch from the top line to the bottom one, vertically.
Then, without piercing the fabric, I slipped the needle under the first small stitch, from right to left, making sure the end of the thread was under the needle.
Then I made that movement again, still making sure that the thread was under the needle.
When the thread was pulled snugly taut, it made a knot in the centre between the two pencilled lines. I then moved an eighth of an inch to the left, and took a stitch from the top pencilled line to the bottom one.
The small stitch just made became the starting point for the two wrapped loops to be made around it, constructing the second knot. Here is the first loop stitch:
And here is the second one:
Once you get a rhythm going, it is quite simple to do, and makes a nice raised band of knotted stitches.
On the spoolholder itself, I won’t need to draw two pencilled lines – I will just make sure that the top end of the vertical stitch is on one panel (e.g. the top round part) and the bottom end of the stitch is on the side wall each time, covering the seam. The ‘legs’ of the stitches will be made much shorter, so that really it will just look like a row of knots, more like Palestrina stitch.
Now that Christmas is out of the way, I can show off the completed Gingerbread Stitching House which I made from a chart booklet from Victoria Sampler. The first image shows it assembled as far as the main house goes. The second image shows the hardanger window, lined with yellow cotton fabric. With hindsight, I think red would have shown up better, but I thought red would clash with the orangey colour of the evenweave fabric.
The panels are attached to each other by working slip-stitches through the back stitches that are worked around all edges of the main pieces, lacing them together. I found this to be very neat and successful.
The lining worked out very neatly in the end, although I did have to trim all edges of the card pieces several times to make them small enough to work, and not buckle. The instructions given in the chart pack didn’t quite work for me.
The roof lining contains this needlebook, with white felt pages. The instructions suggested making a felt pocket for one side of the roof, to store scissors in, but I preferred to have needle storage on both sides. The chart book’s instructions suggested making a fine cording (although it didn’t say *how* to make the cord, just to make one!). I didn’t feel mine needed a corded edge, so I left it plain.
Here is the completely finished house. It measures about five inches by four, and about four inches high. Isn’t it wonderful?! I’m so pleased with it!
Just as I get that one finished, and feel that I’m getting somewhere with my backlog of ‘things I must make in this lifetime’, I found out that Victoria Sampler have brought out a Gingerbread Bakery, and a Gingerbread Needlework Shop (which is a box with a lift-off lid, not just a model, as the bakery is). Oh dear, I feel more purchases coming on!
This is the rest of the Gingerbread Village series. They are all so tempting:
So, having made the Gingerbread Stitching House, these are my thoughts on it, as a project to spend time on:
The design itself is cute, with lots of areas of interest. It’s been well thought out. However, the production of the chart booklet lets it down somewhat. The booklet contains several spelling mistakes, including one regarding the size of backstitch outlining to work for the base. This is quite annoying! I contacted the customer services person at Victoria Sampler, and she said I must have an early version of the chart booklet, as that has been corrected in later versions. The chart pack is reasonably priced, and it is printed on good quality paper. I scanned the charts and printed them out so that I could colour in some areas as I stitched them, as the paper in the booklet is too glossy to use coloured pencils on. Although the chart pack is reasonably priced, the Accessory Packs are quite expensive – the main one doesn’t contain the DMC 12 or 8 Perle thread balls, or the Kreinik Mori thread – you need to buy a second accessory pack for those. Kreinik Mori is an expensive thread, and no quantities are given as to how much you might need, if you wanted to buy your own, which I found unhelpful. But it is easy to buy your own supplies instead of the Accessory Packs, if you look carefully at the product pictures on the Victoria Sampler website first to see what you’ll need. I thought at first, for the cost, that whole skeins of the threads needed would be included in the Packs, but that’s not the case. You get half yard or full yard cuts. So, raid your stash for similar colours for the threads, and do Google or Ebay searches for the tiny buttons, etc., to find suppliers, if you don’t intend to buy the Accessory Packs. They are not hard to find.
I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re in the UK and thinking of buying this chart pack (and the Accessory Packs), get it from Sew and So, as the shipping from them is only a token £1 – far cheaper than International postage from Canada!!
When I first decided I’d like to make this Gingerbread Village, the Tree Etui design was only available if you did an online course with Victoria Sampler, but it’s since been released as a chart pack, like the other designs. So, I have bought the chart for that one too, now, and that may be the next one in this series that I make.
Although I’m tempted to make another Gingerbread Village item next, other items from my stash drawer are calling, and I need to get back to the Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home project, too….
Have you come across the wonderful US magazine called ‘Needlepoint Now‘? It’s published bi-monthly, and always has many interesting articles and designs featured in it.
The issue which has just come out (the Jan/Feb 2015 one) has a special article in it that I have written, with a free chart for a doll’s house scale sampler for you to make, called ‘Blue Vases’. It’s to be stitched on 32 count evenweave linen fabric, with one strand of thread such as DMC or Anchor cotton (floss). It measures 2 1/4 by 2 inches, when framed. It’s stitched using tent stitch, and would only take a few evenings to complete.
If you like the idea of making the sampler, but you don’t want to have to source your own materials, then there is a kit for this design in my online shop. The kit contains everything you need to make this sampler, including a varnished wooden frame. Readers of Needlepoint Now can order the kit from the website and get a discount off the usual price of £8.95 when they quote the special code which is printed in the magazine.
You don’t have to own a doll’s house to make one of these. You just need to enjoy making cute little things! It would make a great gift for someone who loves to collect samplers.