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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Book review: Inspirations magazine index for the first 100 issues

For those of you who collect the wonderful Australian embroidery  magazine ‘Inspirations’ – either with a subscription, or just the occasional issue – this recent release from the publishers for an index for the first 100 issues will come as a welcome addition to your collection.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

At first, I was a bit put out that the index costs almost £20 – as much as a ‘proper’ embroidery book! And this is ‘just’ an index….except it isn’t – it’s far more than that, really.

I remember around 1999, Inspirations brought out their first index, which was for the first 24 issues – I think I’m right in thinking that it was just a free supplement to an issue of the magazine itself:

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

It was pretty, in their usual style, but only had 16 pages, and was really just one list of projects and stitch diagrams, all listed together, with the occasional illustration to jazz it up.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

This new index for 100 issues is something else entirely! For one thing, it’s beautiful – really nicely produced, with lots of clear photos of all the projects, and magazine covers. 148 pages altogether!

And it covers a lot of subject areas, so you can use the index for looking up things in all kinds of ways:

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

In the main part of the index, the cover for each issue is shown, as a visual reminder, and then all the projects for that issue are listed, with  a quick note about what the main technique being used is, and which page it is on in the magazine.

Just browsing through this main section made me realise how many lovely projects there are that I’d still like to stitch!

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

There is a good section at the back, of projects by type (so, if you wanted to make something for babies, or a doorstop, for instance, you could track down a suitable project here). There’s also an index of designers, so if you want to see all the projects, for instance, that Carolyn Pearce has done for the magazine over the years, then see this section to look them up.

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

There’s also a technique index, and it’s amazing to see how many types of embroidery have been featured over the years. There’s even an index of the step-by-step how to’s for particular stitches, which is really useful.

One section which is very useful is where they list the errata (there’s bound to be some in a magazine with this much detail!). This section includes reprints of charts, or parts of designs if necessary, or just a description if it’s a little thing that needs correcting.

If you don’t own the full set of back issues, you might think that this index is of no use to you….however, although many of the back issues are now sold out – especially the early ones, which, when they pop up on Ebay occasionally, sell for a lot of money – many designs are available as digital downloads from the website now, so having the actual back issue is becoming less and less of a problem.

The publishers plan to gradually release most of the projects from the 100 issues as digital downloads, sold separately (rather than a whole magazine’s worth!). Many are already available on their website, but if you look one up in this index and then find it isn’t available yet as a download, contact them, as they say they could probably fast-track the one you want to make it available  🙂

Inspirations magazine index world's most beautiful embroidery

Originally published in late 2018, this index sold out really quickly – it’s been reprinted, and is back in stock now (April 2019). Available from their website HERE.

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