Monthly Archives: January 2017

…and the results are in…..

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my previous post, where I talked about the possibility of either expanding this blog from being only about embroidery to including posts about my three doll’s houses as well, or whether to start a second blog to write about them. That post became my ‘personal best so far’ as to comments – over four dozen of you commented, and it was really interesting to read all of your opinions.

It became quite clear, from reading them all, that the vast majority of those who commented would like me to combine the two themes – embroidery and the miniatures hobby – into this blog, rather than start a new blog for the minis. To be honest, I had set up a second blog, and written a couple of posts already (just not publicised it), but it wasn’t working for me, somehow.

This blog has been going since 2009, and I have a very large, regular readership now. I was a bit torn as to what to do, as I know that some of you are purely ‘stitchers’, and many of you do both hobbies. But as several of you said, to have two blogs would not only be more fiddly for you all to keep up with, but it would also be more work for me to maintain.

A couple of people also said that they like the idea that whatever I write about would be showing what I *as a person* am interested in at any one time, and I think that is what has been the most persuasive factor in my deciding to stick with the one blog.

This is the first mini-quilt that I made - it measures about 20 inches by 16

This is the first mini-quilt that I made – it measures about 20 inches by 16

For instance, in the past I have written a few times about patchwork and quilting, as I ‘dabbled’ a couple of years ago with that hobby (I still have three mini quilts kitted up, ready to make). And a couple of times I’ve talked about things that are completely ‘non-craftlike’, depending what occurs to me. So, to blend the blog’s usual topic of embroidery with other topics isn’t completely new, but I am definitely planning to do some different things in the coming months.

My Georgian style doll's house

My Georgian style doll’s house

I own three doll’s houses now – one was bought fully built and painted on the outside – I’ve had that one for 34 years, now! The other two have been bought in the past couple of years as flat-pack kits, so I intend to share my decorating and collecting stories with you. I have many doll’s house scale kits of various types (miniature flowers, furniture kits, dolls, etc.), which I will be doing kit reviews of, too.

But the blog posts to do with embroidery will still continue – my stash isn’t getting any smaller, despite me always making stuff – while I make one thing, I seem to buy two more projects, so there’s always lots of gorgeous things to create and then write about!

I’m aware that a few of you said that if the focus of the blog changed from being almost exclusively embroidery-based to being less focussed on stitching, then you might not follow it any more, but although that is your choice, I think that would be a shame, although I know I can’t please everyone all the time. But I’ve always found that the hobby of miniatures can appeal to lots of people, even if they don’t make things themselves – the attraction of the tiny just draws people in! So hopefully most of you will stay, and see what I write about….

A tiny doll's doll that I made from a kit from Tower House Dolls, which is only an inch and three-quarters tall

A tiny doll’s doll that I made from a kit from Tower House Dolls, which is only an inch and three-quarters tall

Thanks again for all the feedback, it really did help to clarify things for me.

New direction for this blog

I’ve been having a think over the New Year about how I’d like this blog to develop. I still love doing embroidery of all kinds – not just the mini sort, that I sell as kits for adult doll’s houses in my business Janet Granger Designs, but also the surface embroidery, stumpwork and cross stitch designs (sometimes my original designs, and sometimes kits and charts by other designers) that I have kitted up and have ready to go in my huge stash.

The print room in my first doll's house

The print room in my first doll’s house

But I also spend quite a bit of my time making and collecting miniature things for my own doll’s house collection – I now have three doll’s houses, with two of them being ‘newish’, and never written about before.

The collection of 'smalls' from the Carolyn Pearce 'Home Sweet Home' workbox etui set

The collection of ‘smalls’ from the Carolyn Pearce ‘Home Sweet Home’ workbox etui set

So, my decision needs to be about this: do I ‘diversify’ this blog, and start sharing more about what I do for my mini hobby (making and collecting), or do I keep it purely ’embroidery focussed’? Do I start a separate blog, to keep ’embroidery’ posts separate from ‘miniatures’ posts, or blend the two in the one blog (this one!).

I’d love a bit of feedback here, so please comment below and let me know what you think. Would you enjoy reading about both subjects? Do you, too, have an interest in both hobbies, or not? Would you prefer there to be two blogs, so that you can visit or follow the blog that interests you, and not read the other one?

Talk to me!

Book review: Stumpwork embroidery designs and projects by Jane Nicholas

I have owned this book, ‘Stumpwork Embroidery: designs and projects’ by Jane Nicholas, ever since it first came out in 1998, and it is one of my all-time favourite embroidery books. It is the book that got me started on doing stumpwork embroidery.  So, although it’s definitely not a new book, it most certainly is a classic, so I thought I’d do a review of it.

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Jane Nicholas is a stickler for detail. Her stitching is so neat, it’s unbelievable. I should think the back of her stitching is as neat as the front, but she’d never let you see, I bet!

This book covers instructions for 26 different projects – from single pansy flowers, to drawstrings bags, needlebooks and more complex pictures. The photography is very clear and detailed, and there are hundreds of diagrams to show you exactly how to achieve the results that Jane describes so eloquently in her text.

The book is a large (8 1/2 x 11 inch) hardback book, with 192 pages. Each project is carefully explained, with lists of materials required, the order of work, and the patterns needed, all together (rather than having to turn to the back of the book for the pattern templates, for instance, which is common in other books). There is a stitch glossary and index at the back, and also thread conversion information. This is a useful section, as Jane realises that although she loves to use the more unusual/expensive threads such as Soie d’Alger, many people do not have access to these, so the thread conversion page gives alternatives for Soie d’Alger, Madeira Silk, Cifonda and Minnamurra thread to DMC equivalents. Very helpful! There is also a good bibliography too.

Jane’s take on Elizabethan stumpwork, updated for today, is just wonderful. Take this, for example:

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Or these roundels, stitched on black and white silk:

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My favourite project in the book is this drawstring bag etui set, with woodland animals and plants embroidered on the pieces:

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I made the hedgehog pipkin from it a few years back.

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And I have used the squirrel needlebook assembly process (but not the squirrel motif) to make a needlebook (although the design on the front is still by Jane Nicholas – but this one appeared in Inspirations magazine, as a motif for a sweet bag!).

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It is not always available in the UK, but Amazon.co.uk has it at the moment.  Maybe it’s on it’s way to being out of print, so if you’re interested, I’d track down a copy sooner rather than later. Embroidery books as good as this one are few and far between!

Stumpwork Embroidery: designs and projects by Jane Nicholas.

Milner Craft Series

192 pages

ISBN 186351 208 X (Hardback)

£19.99 / US$24.95

Christmas 2016 stitching prezzies and mini prezzies

There’s nothing I like better than getting prezzies for Christmas that give me something to make during the next few months. This year, I was very fortunate to get a bumper crop of really lovely gifts that will keep me quiet for AGES!!!

The first is this wonderful book, ‘A Passion For Needlework‘, which is a new one from the publishers of Inspirations magazine, featuring lots of gorgeous embroidery ideas from various designers from all over the world.

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As with the Inspirations magazine itself, the book has the patterns for the designs printed on large sheets which are bound into the back of the book, for tracing onto your fabric.

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I love almost all of the designs, but this one, by Susan O’Connor, is my favourite – an Elizabethan-inspired panel of flowers, stitched mainly in satin stitch and long and short stitch on Duchess satin fabric. When complete, it measures about 10 inches by four.

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The original is stitched with Au Ver a Soie silk threads, but I think I’ll do a version in Anchor stranded cotton, as I have a full set of that already, and to buy all the threads needed as listed in the book would set me back about £80!

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I also got some miniature kits this year, as I’m starting to make two doll’s house shops (an announcement about a new blog for those will be made soon!).

One of the shops is going to be a toy shop, so I am going to need lots of tiny toys, to fill it. This is a 1:144 scale kit from Severn Models, made from brass sheet, with incredible detail. The sheet shown is about six inches by four. When assembled and painted, the house should look like the image that’s just beneath the brass sheet, on the flyer, and be about 2 1/2 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide. You can even get furniture to put inside it, but I think that’s taking things a bit too far!!

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I also got several kits from Tower House Dolls (who make dolls, obviously, but also many kinds of little toys – both finished and as kits). This is a kit to make a Punch and Judy theatre, with scenery and metal puppets too. It’s about four inches high when finished.

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This kit is to make four pull-along toys on wheels.

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And this kit is to make a toy theatre with Alice in Wonderland characters, which fit in the little drawer in the base.

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These are the characters – and yes, they do all fit in a match box! The tiny silver thing in the top right of the match box is a collection of little magnets, and one will be glued to the base of each character, so that when they are set on the stage, which has a magnetic sheet under it, the characters will stay put. Clever, eh?

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This little kit was suggested to me by someone on Facebook, who reads this blog, and knows that I love making Victoria Sampler’s Gingerbread Village buildings. When she came across this kit by Sakoran, she told me, and of course I had to let Santa know that it should be added to my wishlist! It’s to make a tiny gingerbread house, less than two inches long, to hang on the Christmas tree. It’s stitched in cross stitch, with French knots and whipped backstitch for the gingerbread details.

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One more present completes my haul for 2016 – a pair of fluffy socks called HotSox, which you heat up in the oven or microwave, and has little beads inside which hold the heat so that your feet don’t get cold. Whenever I sit and stitch in the evenings, my feet get really cold as I’m sitting still for too long, so my husband thought these might help  🙂 They are so cosy…the only problem is you can’t actually walk in them, which takes a bit of remembering! And they look a bit daft, but I’ve got to the age where I don’t really care about that. I just want to be comfy, and these are incredibly comfy!

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