Tag Archives: Marilyn Leavitt Imblum

Celtic Summer – finding substitutes for Robin’s Egg Needlepaints, and deciding which fabric to use

I want to make the Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Summer’ cross stitch picture soon – partly because it’s very pretty, and also because I’m making the whole set of four seasons, plus the Christmas one (eventually).

However, I have a problem.

Everyone who wants to stitch this design has a problem.

That’s because when the designer, Marilyn Leavitt Imblum, was designing it, she couldn’t find the exact shade of grey-green thread that she wanted for the dress, so she had some manufactured, and sold the skeins under the name ‘Needlepaints’. All good so far. But now these threads aren’t available (well, the lilac and purple shades in the range still are, apparently, but not these ones, which are known as the ‘Robin’s Egg’ shades. And Celtic Summer uses all six of the Robin’s Egg shades. So, just substitute colours from other manufacturers’ ranges, right? Well, no, not really. I have looked everywhere for decent substitutions, but I have found that it’s very difficult to find (a) good images online to compare substitutions with the originals, (b) anyone who’s actually got the whole range of the substituted thread to sell to me, and (c) substitutions that actually work.

By the way, it doesn’t help that the chart pack image is not one of a stitched model – it’s a computer generated chart without the grid lines, so the colours have all come out looking ‘hot’, and not realistic at all.

Celtic Summer original colourway

I did manage to find several places online which gave really helpful advice, though.

On the Told In A Garden website (Marilyn’s company)  it says: “The DMC low 500 series (504/3813, 503, 502, 501, 501+500, 500) is not as blue or deep but will work in the designs using the 2100 series of Needlepaints. You might want to adjust the blending to get six shades.”

On Julies’ X Stitch, she has a very helpful chart in colour, showing how a slightly different selection of DMC threads would look, compared to the original Needlepaints:

Needlepaints Robin's egg shades to DMC thread equivalents

Needlepaints Robin’s egg shades to DMC thread equivalents

On the Needle In A Haystack website, there is an image with the Robin’s Egg Needlepoints shown in colour, with Finca brand substitution numbers listed:

Needlepaints with Finca suggestions - 1Needlepaints with Finca suggestions - 2

At first, I thought I’d use the Finca threads, but after buying them, I felt they looked too drab with the other threads for this design. I also thought they didn’t really go well with the purple shades of Needlepaints threads (which I *HAD* managed to buy online).

I then bought the DMC threads as suggested by Julie’s Cross Stitch, but again, I thought these were too drab. So, I got my own DMC thread shade card out, and started from scratch. I decided to use these shades: 3811, 598, 597, 3810, 3809, 3808. These are shown below, along with the Finca shades I bought first, for comparison on the right. The purple Needlepaints threads are along the top.

Summer 5

My selection on the left is much more tealy than the suggestions given when people are trying to make a close match with the Needlepaints, but I’d seen this alternative colourway below, and although there were no thread lists given with it, I loved the sharper contrast between the purples and the teals.

il_570xN_105887336

I saw another version, on a green fabric, and loved that, too:

Polstitches colourway on their silversage fabric GALLERY_celticsummer

So, with the threads decided on, I now had to choose the fabric. Another problem  – I couldn’t use the fabric suggested on the chart pack, as that needed the original grey-toned threads for it to work, so I had to make my own choice. I decided to lay out the threads on various pieces of 28 count evenweave linen that I had in my stash, to see what worked. First up, Zweigart Platinum – a ‘safe’ choice, but a bit dull.

Summer 1

Next up is Cashel linen in ‘Natural’. This is what I am going to stitch Celtic Christmas on. Again, it’s OK, but a bit dull for this colourway. I think it would do if I had nothing else to use.

Summer 2

I had bought this ‘Silversage’ 28 count hand dyed linen from Polstitches when I’d thought I would be able to buy the proper Robin’s Egg Needlepaints from somewhere, but it’s far too greeny-yellow to use with my DMC teal substitutions, although it’s nice fabric for a different project!

Summer 3

This is what I’ve decided to use in the end – it’s ‘Jacaranda Haze’ – a hand dyed fabric from Stitches & Spice, in Australia. Yes, that’s right – to get the right fabric for the project, I had to buy it from the other side of the world! But it is really beautiful – a lilacy-grey, with very subtle mottling. The teals look fantastic on it (the photo doesn’t really do it justice). The only thing I might still have to change is one of the colours of beads – the light green ones, second from the top in the photo below – for something more tealy.

Summer 4

So, that was easy, wasn’t it?! No!!! But it’s important to get the fabric and thread choice right for a project like this, as it’s going to take about 90 hours to stitch it, I reckon. At least I’m ready to begin stitching now.

Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 8 (the colour key)

Several people have emailed me for the full colour key list for stitching the Lavender and Lace Celtic Autumn in the alternative colours that I used. To make it clear, these colour choices weren’t my idea – I found the suggested colours on the Celtic Lady StitchA Long blog. If you’re interested in any of the five Celtic Ladies, this blog is wonderful, as it is a place for lots of stitchers to upload their progress photos. Sadly, the blog seems to have virtually ‘died’ now, but the images and text are still there as a really useful archive.

LL - 26 Celtic Autumn framed

The colourway I used was listed on 3 June 2010 by ‘Little Cat’, if you want to find it by date on the blog. The only amendments I made when I stitched mine was that I used Petite Treasure Braid in shade PB03 instead of the suggested PB01. I used it straight as it came off the card, and in total I needed 3 cards of it, with just about 1/3 card left at the end (which I can use when I stitch the others in the series)  🙂

Here is the conversion:

Celtic Autumn – Changed Colours (DMC stranded cotton)

We have changed the colour of Celtic Autumn to orange and greens. You use the original copyrighted chart that Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum has designed. The symbols remain the same as on the original chart but you stitch with different colours. You may find it helpful to write the symbols on your thread card

Ecru = this remains the same
300 = this remains the same
301 = this remains the same
356 = this remains the same
400 = this remains the same
402 = this remains the same
644 = this remains the same
754 = this remains the same
758 = this remains the same
780 = this remains the same
781 = this remains the same
783 = this remains the same
822 = this remains the same
829 = use 936 instead
830 = use 937 instead
831 = use 469 instead
832 = use 470 instead
833 = use 471 instead
834 = use 472 instead
924 = use 610 instead
926 = use 612 instead
948 = this remains the same
3371 = this remains the same
3768 = use 611 instead
3776 = this remains the same
3820 = this remains the same
3822 = this remains the same
3823 = this remains the same
B5200 = this remains the same
2001 = use 3825 instead
2002 = use 922 instead
2003 = use 921 instead
2004 = use 920 instead
2005 = use 919 instead
2006 = use 918 instead
PB01 = use two of the three strands of gold instead

BEADS (Mill Hill)

Some of these have also been changed
5 = 00557 this remains the same
9 = use 00221 instead of 02009 – 2pks
4 = 02034 this remains the same
2 = 02093 this remains the same
3 = use 62020 instead of 03024

I hope that if you choose to make this lovely cross stitch design, you enjoy it as much as I did!

Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 7

Over Christmas, my routine for stitching got a bit disrupted, not surprisingly.

LL - 24 Celtic Autumn beading

However, I pressed on with my Celtic Autumn when I could, and it’s now FINISHED!!!

In total, the cross stitching took me 72 hours, and the beading another 11 hours, so 83 hours altogether. I’d expected the beading to take a lot longer than it did, as people on various forums have complained about that part ‘taking years’, ‘putting them off finishing the design’, etc. But I got it all done in one concerted effort during a weekend where not much else got done!

LL - 25 Celtic Autumn beading round hem

Various threads had been suggested for attaching the beads, on the forums. I chose to use Anchor stranded cotton (one strand), in as close a shade as I could find, from the shades I’d already used for the cross stitch. I avoided the temptation to use ‘invisible thread’, as some had suggested on forums, as a wary stitcher had also posted that when you get to ironing your work when it’s all done, invisible thread might melt, as it did with her stitching, and all the beads will fall off! Incredibly disheartening, I should think, as there’s 1250 beads to stitch on in total.

I managed to find a lovely ‘walnut effect’ picture frame in a local shop, for only £8, so I got on with it and framed the piece quickly (see my previous post for how long I can sometimes take to get things framed).

LL - 26 Celtic Autumn framed

I’m really pleased with how this has come out. It was a big design to tackle, but after taking a short break to make a couple of  ‘sewing smalls’, I’m already eyeing up the other Celtic Lady designs, to see which one to make next.

Celtic Autumn in alternative colours – 5

I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks, and not had as much time for stitching as I’d have liked, but here is the Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Autumn’ cross stitch design after another ten hours (fifty hours of stitching altogether):

Celtic Autumn by Lavender and Lace, after 50 hours of stitching

…and after 40 hours:

This is what it looked like after 40 hours

As you can see, what I’ve been mostly working on is the gold swirls on the skirt. In fact, I’ve hardly done anything else on this, during this 10 hour section! I’m stitching it using Rainbow Gallery’s Petite Treasure Braid number 1 (one strand). Some people who have stitched this design have said on their blogs that they hated stitching the gold thread part of Celtic Autumn, but I quite like it. It clearly defines the areas that are to be filled in with the Anchor stranded cotton, making the next part easier to do. I’ve used other ‘gold’ threads in the past, such as Balger blending filament (which I could have cheerfully thrown across the room, as it stretched and snapped really easily, even when used in conjunction with other threads in the same needle). Kreinik number four braid is a possible substitution for the thread I’m using, but would have worked out quite a bit more expensive. I’m on my third 25 yard card of Petite Treasure Braid already, and I haven’t finished the gold detailing yet.

The method I’ve been using to stitch this part of the chart is not one that I usually use – I’ve been working across a horizontal line of the chart, from left to right, then from right to left, working my way down to the hem of the skirt, just stitching what it says on the chart, and taking no notice of whether I’m making the ‘swirls’ or not. I use a magnetic ruler on top of a metal board, placed aross a line of the chart, so that I can clearly work out which line I’m copying. I’ve read on a cross stitching forum that the design is so complicated for this part, that it’s really easy to go wrong if you try to complete one ‘swirl’ before doing the next (if you can identify where one ends and the next one begins), so I just decided to be like one of those Seventies knitting machines that would read cards with punched holes in, line by line! I managed to get right down to the hem without going wrong, fortunately.