Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring 4: add beading to the cross stitch, and it’s finished!

I’ve reached the point now with the ‘Celtic Spring’ design from Lavender and Lace where I only need to add beading to the cross stitch, and it’s finished! This one has taken me about 80 hours of cross stitching, so far, I reckon. It has a much larger area of cross stitch than the Celtic Autumn that I made a few years back, so either I am getting quicker at stitching, or I have mis-counted the hours this has taken me, as the ‘Celtic Autumn’ one took me about 90 hours altogether, I think.

This is ‘Celtic Spring’ with all the cross stitch finished. Nice, but definitely ‘missing something’.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

So, I spent seven hours adding all the beads! I used a polyester cotton sewing thread to attach the beads, in a similar shade to the fabric – a light greeny-beige. This is so that I don’t have to keep changing my thread colour when I add different colours of beads – I can do the whole lot with one type of thread. You can hardly see the thread when all the beads are attached, anyway. I don’t use a beading needle, as they drive me mad when I’m trying to thread them, so I use a number 10 ‘betweens’ needle (for quilting, usually) – one of the John James ‘big eye’ ones.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

There’s a good mix of shiny to matte beads in this design, which gives it a special quality.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

The top of the panel, in particular, is heavily beaded.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

I had been keeping this white plaster-effect frame for several years, just for this project. I bought it in Wilkinsons, for just £8!! I think it really sets off the purples. I mounted the stitching over the backing board supplied with the frame, but didn’t use the glass that came with it, or it would have squashed the beads. I used a layer of 2 ounce wadding under the fabric, to pad it a bit, and laced the fabric over the board with Perle 12 thread.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

Here are my Celtic Autumn and Celtic Spring designs together, finally.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Autumn and Celtic Spring cross stitch

I don’t plan to display them like this, usually, though. My long-term plan is to have all five of the Celtic Ladies stitched (one for each season, plus Christmas), and display the relevant one for part of each year. That might take a while to get them all done, though, so for now, each one will be displayed for six months each.

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Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring 3: completion of the cross stitch

I’ve been going into overdrive on this ‘Celtic Spring’ design from Lavender and Lace for the past couple of weeks – and this week I’ve reached the point of the completion of the cross stitch (there’s still hours of beading to do, though!).

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

I can’t seem to capture the correct colour of the fabric in my images – it’s Prairie Grain 28 count linen, and it’s really quite a greenish shade, but it keeps coming out beige in my pictures! But it does make a very good contrast to the purples in the design in real life (I’m using the called for fabric).

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

For the back half of the skirt, I decided to stitch all the purple first, and then fill in with the gold thread. This took me ages, but was quite therapeutic to do.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

Then, with the front half of the skirt, I stitched all the gold thread first, to see if that would make it easier to count out the design. Half way through, I decided that it didn’t help doing it that way, but I was stuck with it by then  😦

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

But when both halves were stitched, they did look lovely!

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

I then went back over the design and did the small amount of backstitch – mainly around the face and hands.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

Now I’ve just got the beading to do, which should really make this design pop!

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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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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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