How long does it take to frame a piece of cross stitching?

Answer: 21 years.

I’m not kidding, honestly.

When I first met my husband, in the early nineties, I was mainly doing cross stitch pictures from kits. Occasionally, I did surface embroidery from kits (you could still buy some really good ones, then). I remember sitting in our new house, and stitching these two pictures, and really enjoying doing them:

A surface embroidery picture from a kit, made over 20 years ago (can’t remember who it’s by, now!)
A cross stitch nursery sampler from Mary Hickmott, of New Stitches magazine. This design first appeared in the magazine, and then as a separate kit.

But, as anyone who knows me would tell you, patience isn’t my strong point. In fact, recently, I did one of those online ‘personality test’ things, and the area I got the lowest score for was ‘patience’. Once a piece of embroidery is finished (I mean the stitching part), then I have to really force myself to complete the assembly/framing/blocking, or whatever it is….I just want to get on to the next project. Even if I can make myself finish something completely, I have to be very careful not to rush it, and make a mess of what might have taken me dozens of hours to actually stitch – all because I want to save a few minutes right at the end of the process.

So, as you can see from the two images above, these two pictures are now framed. Eventually. And the reason they’ve finally been finished is because a friend of mine mentioned that she’d like to have an example of my stitching, and she said she’d always wanted a sampler-style one. That’s when I remembered the two pieces of fabric rolled up in the drawer under my bed – stitched, but not framed. Not displayed for over 20 years. Bit of  a waste, really, isn’t it? So, having the excuse that they were now wanted by someone, I dug them out, blocked them, ironed them, framed them, and gave them to her a couple of weeks ago. And now they’re up on her wall, being seen. Which was the reason I stitched them in the first place, really. Only it took a while to get round to doing the last bit  🙂

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Want to win a miniature needlepoint handbag kit?

In New Stitches magazine this month (Issue 235  – dated November – on sale 18th October 2012), there’s a Giveaway for the chance to win one of my miniature needlepoint handbag kits.

New Stitches, Issue 235 (November 2012)

8 of these kits are up for grabs altogether. They are to be stitched from a colour block chart on 32 count silk gauze, with one strand of 6-stranded Anchor thread. The design on offer is called Delicate Flowers, and it’s the white handbag that I am holding in this picture:

Three tiny handbags for doll’s house dolls. The black one is stitched on 40 count silk gauze, and the other two are stitched on 32 count silk gauze.

If you’d prefer to buy one, then the whole range of eight designs can be seen on my website. Each kit costs £9.95. Shipping is £1.50 per order worldwide, unless your order total is over £40, in which case shipping is free.

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A beautiful set of doll’s house rooms with mini stitching in

Sometimes, customers of mine email me with images of the stitching that they have made from the kits that I sell. I always love seeing how people have used the kits in their doll’s houses and room settings – they are a talented lot!

Recently, a customer called Margaret, from Wales, sent me these amazing pictures of her latest doll’s house, which is a Tudor style house. She has furnished it in a Victorian / Arts & Crafts style, with Tudor wallhangings to suggest its long history. All the needlepoint items are from my range of kits.

This is the house, fully furnished.
The miniature version of a William Morris Hammersmith carpet features in this room

An attic room, with two carpets stitched on 18 count canvas, in needlepoint.

Isn’t Margaret’s house just beautiful?!

Lots more examples of doll’s houses featuring miniature embroidery can be seen in the Customers’ Gallery page on my website.

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The Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Ladies’ have got me….

A couple of weeks ago, I posted here about the death of Marilyn Leavitt Imblum, the designer of the Lavender and Lace angels and Celtic Ladies, who was also known for her ‘Told in a Garden’ range of cross stitch.

Several times, I have been back to her website during the past two weeks, looking at her lovely designs again and again…

Eventually I got to the stage where I decided that I really *did* want to stitch some of those huge, complicated cross stitch pictures. I’ve done two of the angels before (Angel of Hope, and Angel of Summer), but this time round it’s the Celtic Ladies that have attracted me.

At first, I was just mildly interested in getting perhaps one chart – then I had a quick look on Ebay (as you do), and saw that someone was selling all the Celtic Lady charts, together with all the threads and beads as well.

Well, you can’t pass up the chance to get a bargain, can you? Well, I can’t. I managed to ‘win’ one – the Celtic Spring design. Which is fortunate, really, as, having spent a bit more time researching the colours of threads and fabric, that is the only one where I wouldn’t want to alter something in the pack! I still need to track down the correct fabric to stitch her on – the chart pack suggests Zweigart 28 count linen ‘Willow Green’ – but that seems to be impossible to get at the moment.

So, I then set about finding the other charts. I got Celtic Christmas next. I had most of the necessary threads in my stash already, so the beads didn’t take long to get hold of. The beads and fabric I got from Sew and So (I love that website – huge range, and very quick service). I decided that I’ll stitch the design on the recommended fabric – 28 count Cashel linen, in Natural colour. I’ve loved this design ever since it first came out, about 15 or so years ago!

An almost-finished version of Celtic Christmas, on black fabric – beautiful, but hard to do, I should think

Above is a version that I found online, stitched on black fabric. It’s stunning, but I don’t think I could face doing such a large project on black fabric!

Celtic Autumn chart, but with the threads for the alternative colourway.

The Celtic Autumn design is probably the one I’ll stitch first, as I found a lovely alternative colourway for it on the Lavender and Lace forum.

The alternative colourway for Celtic Autumn
A detail of the alternative colourway

Instead of the original yellowy olive/lavender colourway (a bit weird for Autumn, I thought), I’m going to do it in green and russet shades, which seems much more fitting. The fabric I am going to stitch it on is 28 count Cashel linen ‘Platinum’.

I’ve still to get the chart for Celtic Summer, which is a gorgeous design, but again, the colourway isn’t quite right.

Celtic Summer in the original colourway

I  love this alternative colourway in more teal/blue shades – I’m just trying to track down the actual thread shades now, as, so far I’ve only got an image to go by, that I found on a blog that seems ‘dead’ now.

[Edit 24 Sept 2012: I have recently found out that the reason that these two images above look so different, is that the cover photo on the chart pack appears to be a computer-generated image. That is, it is the colour block chart with the gridlines removed, superimposed on a fabric image background. This would account for the harshness of the colours. When the design is actually stitched in the colours suggested in the colour key, it comes out looking like the larger photo above (although the fabric used above is obviously a different shade).  Celtic Summer, Celtic Autumn and Celtic Winter have all been put on sale with these ‘constructed’ kitfront photos, which is a pity, IMO. A  photo of real stitching would have sold more charts, I think. Still, at least it means that I can now buy the ‘usual’ threads and beads for Celtic Summer, and know what it will come out like. I still have the problem that some of the Needlepaints that this design calls for are unavailable now, but I am going to use Presencia Finca thread instead, as they seem to have close matches.]

The Celtic Winter design, in its original colours

Celtic Winter is another lovely design, but again, I’ve got my eye on alternative colours. The original chart has gold thread around the hem – I think a more blue-toned dress, and silver thread highlights, would work better. And there’s an alternative colourway version that I’ve seen where the hair colour is changed from a very dark brown to a silvery white, which tones better with the pale icy colours of the rest of the design.

[Edit 24 Sept 2012: This lovely alternative version shown below comes from HERE, on Nathalie’s website – where she displays many Lavender and Lace designs that she’s stitched (including all of the Celtic Ladies), many in alternative colourways or with adaptations to the design, and they’re all beautiful!!]

This beautiful customised version of Celtic Winter has the silvery hair and silver thread that I would like to use

I’ve read on a Celtic Ladies Stitch A Long blog that each of these Celtic Ladies takes about a hundred hours to make, including attaching the beads (often around 1000 of them per design). Never one to to be disheartened, I just feel that it’s a long term project. I definitely haven’t got enough wall space left to display all of these at once, if I ever get all five of them stitched. But one stitcher on a blog had the good idea of displaying each one in its suitable ‘season’, so each one got displayed for a few weeks each year.

I’ll probably do that then. All I need to do now is get stitching…..

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