Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring 2: How I tackle large cross stitch projects

This is  what I’m stitching at the moment – the Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Spring’ cross stitch design.

I thought I’d explain this week about how I tackle large cross stitch projects such as this one, as I think that being organised makes it much easier to attempt a design this big (it’s about 18 inches high by 9 inches across on 28 count fabric, just for the stitched area, and the Autumn one in the same series took me about 90 hours of stitching).

Spring 1

With a design this big, I always use a rectangular rotating frame to mount the fabric on – it keeps the fabric taut (very important when I get to the stage of adding the beads), and it means that I can rest the frame comfortably on my Stitchmaster floor frame, so that I am in a comfortable position while I’m doing all that stitching!

I’ve been getting very committed to doing at least a couple of hours on this each evening, and if I tried to do that with the fabric in a hoop, holding it with my left hand and stitching with my right, I’d have a frozen shoulder by now, and my chiropractor would be telling me off!

You can see from this image that I have scanned in the chart and printed it out onto white paper (the original chart is a large piece of beige paper), and I’ve then coloured in the page with coloured pencils. To my brain, it’s easier to tell different colours apart than different black and white symbols.

I have several needle minders holding down the chart paper – not because they’re necessary, really, but because I love needle minders!

The ‘grime guard’ along the bottom edge is an elasticated rectangle of fabric with casings made along each long edge, with elastic threaded through in one loop, so that I can hook the ends of the elastic over the vertical bars of the frame and protect the bottom roller from any dirt while I’m working on the cross stitch.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

What really saves me a lot of time when I’m working on a piece of embroidery with many colours is that I use one needle per colour – so I use one of these, which is a LoRan needle holder – a plastic triangle (like a Toblerone!), with a foam centre to poke the needles into, and a removable paper strip that has the black and white symbols for this project drawn on. You get about a dozen strips with the needle holder, and refills are available too, but if you’re careful you can rub the symbols out and re-use the strips a couple of times, as they’re made from quite sturdy card.

You can just about see that towards the left hand end of the bottom row there is a yellow pearl-headed pin – I use this to mark the place of the needle that I’m using at the moment, so that I know where to replace the needle when I’m finished stitching (when shades are similar, it’s easy to get confused!).

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

I keep all my skeins in this – my lovely embroidered workbox. I did the stitching for this about twenty years ago, and my husband made the box. I love using this! It’s about ten inches by seven by three – big enough to keep whole skeins in, plus scissors, etc.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

This is it when it’s open. Very simple inside – I didn’t want lots of compartments that nothing really fitted into – just one space.

If you’re REALLY OLD, you might recognise what I keep my supply of tapestry needles in – it’s a black and green plastic canister for 35mm film, for a very old camera! I’ve never found anything better than that for my needles ….

When I start a large project, I also make cards listing the shade name, number, and add a tuft of the thread so that I can cross-check this with the skeins I’m choosing.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

Of course, I also need some embroidery scissors! I’m kind of addicted to buying scissors, so with each new project that I start, I exchange my scissors for a different pair from my collection. I bought these ones from Mace and Nairn, about five years ago. The scissor fob is from the Carolyn Pearce ‘Home Sweet Home Workbox’ project that I described on here a couple of years ago as I made it.

Embroidery scissors with scissor fob

So, that’s all the stuff I use…how about you? What can you ‘not do without’ when you’re stitching?

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needle minders, needle holder, pin keep, sampler, cross stitch, magnetic needle holder

 

 

 

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Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring 1: starting from the top

A while back now (just after the death of cross stitch designer Marilyn Leavitt Imblum of Lavender and Lace fame), I decided I would like to stitch all five of the ‘Celtic Ladies’ – Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Celtic Christmas, which has the word ‘Noel’ across the top of the panel.  I’ve decided, having already done Celtic Autumn, that I’ll do Celtic Spring next. This image below is from the ‘I’d rather be stitchin’ blog, (well worth a visit) to give you an idea of what I’m going to be making…

I'd rather be stitchin blog1

Isn’t it a lovely picture? Great frame, too.

So, I got the chart, and the threads, all in one pack on Ebay. I even got the beads included, so all I had to do was sort out the fabric.

Spring 1

I’ve chosen 28 count Prairie Grain fabric to stitch it on – it’s a soft grassy green, which looks really good with the purples and yellows of the dress. I couldn’t find the Willow Green fabric recommended on the chart. This photo doesn’t do justice to the fabric – it’s a lot greener than this really!

Spring 2

This is a picture of how much I got done in a week of evenings. The beads still need to be added, but it’s a pretty good start.

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needle minders, needle holder, pin keep, sampler, cross stitch, magnetic needle holder

 

My stash just got bigger….

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I’d have a New Year Resolution that I wouldn’t buy any more embroidery kits or supplies for one whole year (other than things for my dollhouse needlepoint kits business, obviously!). But I have found it impossible to stick to it already, and my stash just got bigger……

At first, I was tempted, via a Facebook group for people who do cross stitch, to start looking at charts by Little House Needleworks, an American company. They do dozens of really nice, smallish projects with buildings in, usually – and I just love embroidered buildings!

So, my first ‘failure’ of my New Year’s Resolution was this chart pack set to make these nine alphabet ‘smalls’ pincushions. Of course, I had to buy all the threads as well. And the fabric.

ABC samplers Little House needleworks 1

Then from the same designer, I saw this standalone chart pack, for a ‘Hands to work, hearts to God’ picture. I’ve been after a design with this phrase on for ages, and this one appealed to me. I want it stitch it as a ‘stand-up’.

Hands to work hearts to God 1

Then I gave in to my Resolution VERY SERIOUSLY!! I found out about the US website 123Stitch.com, which has an enormous range of everything you could possibly want if you do stitching. I was on the hunt for some 28 and 32 count evenweave fabric – the reason being that, in the UK, it is becoming very difficult to get interesting colours of fabric. There are only a few websites left in the UK that sell anything other than white, cream or natural colours, and I was starting to get twitchy. With Brexit looming (which will cause all kinds of problems for UK people wanting to buy things), and many US sellers also stopping selling overseas, due to EU distance selling rules being perverse about returned parcels, and shipping getting expensive, I felt it was justified (!) to put in a big order to last me….well…. probably several lifetimes actually! But my theory was ‘get it now, and be smug later when things go pear-shaped’.

Evenweave fabric from 123Stitch

So, I had a lovely afternoon ordering 31 fat quarters of all kinds of 28 and 32 count fabrics, in plains, overdyed and specialist glittery fabrics. The parcel arrived a few days ago, and it’s really inspiring! Also, every fabric has a label attached, noting the count of fabric and name/manufacturer. UK online shops please take note!! So many times in the past I’ve ordered several fabrics at once, and when they’ve arrived, I can’t tell them apart, so if I need to re-order something, I can’t quite tell what it is I need to order!

So, that’s my excuse for my ‘transgressions’ on my Resolution! I needed them!

Have any of you stuck to a New Year’s Resolution like this? I really thought it would be easier to do  🙂

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needle minders, needle holder, pin keep, sampler, cross stitch, magnetic needle holder

 

How to find a Beatrix Potter themed box for a new cross stitch project

I’ve never been one of those people who do idle retail therapy. When I go shopping, either online or in person round ‘real’ shops, it’s because I know exactly what I want, and I’m just trying to find it in the shortest possible time, as I don’t actually enjoy shopping much.

So, when I decided the other day that I wanted a box, I wanted a very particular kind of box, and quickly. But it wasn’t to be!

Beatrix Potter cross stitch

I’ve mentioned on my blog before about the gorgeous little French cross stitch book ‘Le monde de Beatrix Potter’ by Veronique Enginger, full of very well-designed interpretations of Beatrix Potter’s animal characters and related motifs from the series of books.

Beatrix Potter cross stitch

 

Beatrix Potter cross stitch

Annoyingly, it’s now out of print, and when it appears on places like Ebay, it is really expensive. I paid about £40 for mine, several years ago, but I’ve never got round to stitching anything from it, because I couldn’t decide what to use the designs for. Then, this week, I had another look through it and decided how I’d like to use them.

What I’d like to do is stitch lots of the designs and related motifs from one page in the book (for instance, the iconic Peter Rabbit image of him holding a carrot, and then a border of carrots and cabbages, the robin, the scarecrow, etc.) leaving lots of space around each motif, and then cut the fabric around them so that they can be appliqued separately on to pieces of patchwork fabric from my stash (Ha ha!! Then I can get my fabric stash down at the same time!! Fat chance!), and store them as loose ‘sheets’ in a box. I don’t want to make them into pictures or pillows, because my house is so full already, but I thought that a square box would do nicely, as I could then store them flat.

Here’s the fabric that I want to applique the motifs to. It’s called ‘Whitewashed Cottage’ by 3 Sisters for Moda:

Beatrix Potter cross stitch

Should be easy, then, shouldn’t it? A square box, about 10 x 10 inches, with a lid? Hmmm……

Well, I looked on Etsy (arty, but not suitable), then on Ebay (cheap, but not suitable), then on Amazon (gaudy, and definitely not suitable – their search engine kept showing me leather-covered rectangular footstools, for some reason). Getting slightly desperate, I looked on Pinterest (but I always find that frustrating, as the images are great, but the links never go to anything that you can actually buy), and Google images (those links tended to go to blogs, or American shops which don’t ship to the UK).

I searched with the phrases ‘Beatrix Potter box’, ‘fabric covered box’, ‘memory box’, ‘gift box’, ‘lidded box’, ‘wooden box’, ‘decoupage box’….you get my drift? It’s not easy.

I even contemplated learning cartonnage and making my own box from scratch, after I came across a remnant of Mrs Tiggywinkle fabric on Ebay.

After about five hours I was giving up the will to live. I’d stopped looking for PRETTY boxes, or boxes with Beatrix Potter images on, to ANYTHING remotely ‘nice’. Still no luck.

Then, the following day, I thought I’d have another go on Google, and lo and behold, with the wonders of the internet, Google in its wisdom decided to show me something ‘related’ to my previous search….and actually showed me in the sidebar what I’d been seeking for hours the day before – a 10 x 10 inch gift box with a loose lid, covered in Peter Rabbit paper, nicely lined, and only £6.50, from Paperchase. Hadn’t thought of them!!

So, here’s the box I’m going to use:

Beatrix Potter cross stitch

I hadn’t noticed at the time I ordered it, but the Peter Rabbit on the box lid even has a fluffy little tail!

Beatrix Potter cross stitch

Simple, eh? All I needed was the internet to behave itself…….

Beatrix Potter cross stitch

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needle minders, needle holder, pin keep, sampler, cross stitch, magnetic needle holder