Category Archives: Product reviews

What I got for Christmas this year…..

Santa always brings me something for my hobby each Christmas. That’s because I always help Santa out by leaving little hints around the place about what I’d like ¬†ūüôā

Xmas 1

This year, I got this wonderful table lamp. Well, this is the box it came in, obviously! But I thought it might help to show the box, as there are several lamps on the market that look similar.

Xmas 2

I wanted a lamp with an attached magnifier, and this was about the only affordable one I could find. The magnifier can be removed if required.

Xmas 3

The part with the fluorescent tube in unfolds from the upright housing (and that’s what makes the light come on – there is no on/off switch), and can be tilted to shine the daylight bulb in exactly the direction¬†that you need.

Xmas 4

There’s an attachment for keeping scissors, pens, etc., that hooks onto the back of the lamp – or rather it should, only on the one that I have, the lugs are too big, so it doesn’t quite fit properly yet, and so the lugs will need a bit of filing down!

Xmas 5

The lamp costs between ¬£32 and ¬£40, depending where you buy it from. My one came from Siesta’s own website.

It’s really lovely to use, and the light is a good bright ‘cool’ / daylight one, so I can now easily stitch in the evening, when I don’t want to use my¬†tapestry frame with attached light by Stitchmaster.

My other present on an embroidery theme is this beautiful book by Jane Nicholas, called ‘Stumpwork butterflies and moths’. It’s the third in the series (the previous ones were on beetles and dragonflies). I’m usually not that keen on insects, but butterflies are so pretty, I can *almost* forget that they’re insects!

Xmas 6

The book covers the background of butterflies in art and science, including explaining how people used to collect them for displaying in glass cases. Most of the book is given over to how to make an embroidered version of  such a case. There are 18 different butterflies to make, using many different techniques.

Xmas 7

The beginning of the book features images taken from old books, jewellery, etc.

Xmas 8

As well as the butterfly display case project, there are four smaller projects using butterflies taken from the earlier part of the book, and used in other ways, such as this pretty ceramic jar lid.

Xmas 9

As usual. Jane’s instructions are really good, and very detailed, with dozens and dozens of line drawings and photos.

Xmas 10

I was so taken with the book, that I spent a good part of Christmas Day afternoon online, sourcing the fine wires (33 gauge, usually used in sugarcraft) and chenille thread that I’ll need in order to make these. This particular butterfly is my favourite, and I want to make this first:

Xmas 11

I’m quite tempted to make all 18 butterflies eventually, but I think I’ll start with just the one, and work out what to do with it once it’s made!

This book is well worth buying – it’s so beautiful to look at, even if you never make anything from it. If you have a little embroidery experience you would have no trouble making the projects in the book. It’s available from Amazon, etc., and costs around ¬£19 hardback. Published by Sally Milner Publishing. ISBN 978-1863514521

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A blast from the past: looking through a vintage Cross Stitcher magazine

While I was out shopping last week, I came across a bundle of old (very old!) Cross Stitcher magazines from 1994 and 1995. I got 8 of them for £3 in a charity shop, and was very pleased with myself.

Vintage 1

When I got home, I sat down with a cup of tea to have a browse through. This is the first one I read, from 1994. It’s amazing how much things have changed since then! The magazine has quite different designs in it from the type that they now feature. There are more detailed designs in the old magazine, and things like the review of kits and charts on one theme (Christmas themes, in this particular issue) cover 26 items! I think that these days, there are far fewer¬†options available to stitchers (in the UK at least), so reviews tend to be far briefer now. The emphasis on ‘country’ themes was clear, too, which isn’t popular much these days.

It may be my imagination, but the paper quality seemed to be better then – more glossy – and the number of pages was greater than now. It is also noticeable that there aren’t many ‘filler pages’ – double-page spreads offering reduced rates for annual subscriptions, and so on.

The articles are very interesting. I liked this one on computer design software, which was quite a new thing back in 1994. They compared four different software programs, varying in price from £32 to £399!! Think how much £399 was worth back in 1994!

Vintage 3

There is a funny paragraph in the computer charting article, which explains what a mouse is for, for those who don’t know:

“Almost everything is done using the mouse (in a computing context a ‘mouse’ is a device that you push around your desk in order to move a pointer around the screen. It has one or more buttons which you ‘click’ to make things happen).”

Another article is about the cross stitch designer Jo Verso, who, at that time, was really well known for her modern ‘sampler type’ small designs, available in book format. Jo was just starting to offer weekend courses, and the writer of the article¬†attended¬†her first one.

Vintage 2

The pages of adverts at the back of the magazine were interesting for two reasons. The first is that there were so many people advertising – both high street shops, and individual designers. Most were offering catalogues available by post, with payment by cheque or with stamps. No websites at all. That seems really strange now. Some people just *described* their designs (no pictures!), and expected you to send off your money based just on that! Also, it’s very obvious from the picture below that the advert pages were all in black and white, as colour printing was expensive, so was saved for the main section of the magazine. ¬†I noted as well that an awful lot of the shops that advertised in 1994¬†are no¬†longer in existence. And that’s not just because new ones have replaced them – in the UK, it’s now very hard to find an embroidery shop at all, never mind a good one.

Vintage 4

Still, it gave me a couple of hours of nostalgic pleasure to read through the old issue of Cross Stitcher again. And I’ve still got another seven issues to read ¬†ūüôā

Update on the new embroidery scissors from Hemline

Last week, I blogged about the editorial in New Stitches that mentions my new firescreen kits for doll’s houses, and also about the new embroidery scissors that featured on the same page in the magazine. At that time, I said I was having difficulty getting in touch with the manufacturers, Hemline, to find out where the scissors could be bought.

New Stitches editorial firescreens June 13

If only I’d known what I had started….

I have been having an email ‘conversation’ with Hemline ever since, as I tried to get out of them *where* these scissors can be bought. At first, it took ages to get any reply at all. Then I was asked to supply the product codes, so they could check which items I meant. Well, the editorial feature doesn’t give product codes, but surely, if it’s new products that they have bothered to advertise this month, it shouldn’t be that difficult to track down? Apparently it is. Anyway, then I was told that they are available on Amazon.co.uk. ¬†But only if you type in ‘Hemline’ and the product code in the search box. Otherwise, if you put something more general like ’embroidery scissors’, the results list is so huge, you’ll never find them. But even keying in ‘Hemline’ and the product code only found two of the styles in stock (one *pair* of each available to buy), and the other style didn’t show up at all.

So, back to Hemline. They then said that Sewandso.co.uk stock them. Now we were getting somewhere – Sew and So are my favourite online needlework website, and they do have a huge range, so I thought it was good that they’d stock them – so I had a look….and they weren’t there. Back to Hemline again. ‘Yes, they definitely did buy some from us. Give them a ring’. Now, is it just me, or do you also think it’s daft to have to phone an online retailer to see if they have something in stock? I expect to see it on their site, not to have to ring them.

Anyway, I emailed SewandSo’s customer service department, and explained that all I wanted was to find a real stockist, so I could mention them on my blog, so that people could buy them….you know? A FREE ADVERT!!!!!

They checked, and emailed back to say they hadn’t placed an order yet for these new styles (so, what were Hemline doing, telling me they had?!), but that they’d placed an order with Hemline that morning, and stock would arrive in a few days.

So, if you want these lovely scissors, go to sewandso.co.uk¬†, click on Accessories / Scissors / Other scissors. I’m not guaranteeing they will be there yet, but give them a little while, and, you never know…….

There, that was easy, wasn’t it?! I’m going for a lie down, now ¬†ūüôā

A new supplier of half cone sticks for stumpwork embroidery

A few¬†months ago, I wrote a series of blog posts about a stumpwork bride’s bag that I was making, that featured foxglove flowers made out of needlelace¬†worked over a half cone stick.

A half cone stick in use, tacked to the fabric to hold it in place while detached buttonhole stitch is worked in rows across it.

I explained that I’d bought my half cone sticks¬†years ago, and that they weren’t that easy to get hold of, now. I subsequently did some research, and found a few stockists. But recently, a woodturner called Bruce Bassett who lives in Utah¬†contacted me for advice, as he’s been asked to make some half cone sticks to add to his range of lacemaking tools, a few of which he recently began selling on Etsy¬†[ EDIT November 2013: the Etsy shop is no longer active – please email Bruce instead – see below]¬†¬†and the items he’s come up with are really lovely. Look!

They are available in five sizes, and the finish is really smooth.

He also sells a couronne stick (sometimes called a ring stick or hedebo stick), for making round needlelace cup shapes and flowers and for other uses in bobbin lace making.

The couronne stick.

PRICES, and  SHIPPING/HANDLING COSTS (for within the USA, and also worldwide):

For the half cone sticks, the price depends on the size: the smallest one is US$9, the three medium-sized ones are $10 each, and the largest one $11.  Add $4 per order for shipping within USA, $6 elsewhere.
The full set of 5 half cone sticks costs $40 plus $4 shipping within USA, $6 elsewhere.

The couronne stick is $20 plus $6 within the USA, $8 elsewhere.
The complete set of 5 half cone sticks and the couronne stick costs $56 plus $6 within USA, $8 elsewhere.

To purchase, email Bruce with your requirements, and he can send a Paypal invoice. With the half cone sticks, two small holes can be drilled in the foot end if required, so that the stick can be¬†tacked to your fabric¬†more securely if wanted, for no extra charge – just mention that you’d like that to be done when you email him with your order.

To contact Bruce, send an email to brucebassett@gmail.com

His ‘snail mail’ address is:

Bruce Bassett
420 Heather Road
Orem, UT 84097
USA

Tel: (801) 226-5267

I don’t make any money from this blatant advertising blog post! But I would like to think that by helping him get started with these lovely needlework tools, he can become more widely known for the wooden tools that he has such a skill for making, and more stitchers can make beautiful embroidery using them.