Tag Archives: Surface embroidery

It’s National Needlepoint Day!

Today, 7th September, it’s National Needlepoint Day!

So, make the most of your stitching today, wherever you are doing it – try stitching in public, to let people know that needlepoint is a legitimate hobby, and how much fun it is!

I’ve tried most embroidery techniques over the years. In the eighties, I went through a phase of stitching only needlepoint – that lasted for several years, and I don’t have any of those pieces left now, as I tended to make things as gifts. Big scatter cushions, wallhangings, bellpulls – mostly from kits, but some were  my own designs.

I used to travel from my home in Essex by train into London, and visit The Needlewoman Shop on Regent Street to get my needlepoint supplies then, and struggle home again with huge bags of goodies! Such a pity that that shop has long since closed. I used to love it! They had an amazing range.

Obviously, I’m biased, as I sell *miniature* needlepoint kits, so everything I do for my business is small, but I have grown to love the mini versions of needlepoint more than the full-sized ones now.

Here’s a few examples of my dollhouse scale needlepoint, which can be bought as kits from my website:

 

Are you stitching any needlepoint at the moment? Do you only do cross stitch? Or surface embroidery? Or blackwork? Or does it depend on your mood as to what kind of project you want to stitch?

Let me know in the comments!

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Are you interested in doll’s houses and stitching? Then why not visit my website, where you can buy doll’s house needlepoint kits to make all kinds of soft furnishings for one-twelfth scale dollhouses. There are over 280 kits to choose from, plus chart packs, fabric project packs, tutorials, and lots of eye candy to inspire you! Kits are available on 18 and 22 count canvas, 28 and 32 count evenweave, and 32 and 40 count silk gauze, so there’s something for everyone – from beginners to experts.

As a special offer for new customers on my website, use the code FIRST TIME 10 at the checkout to receive 10% off your first order!

Dollhouse needlepoint kits

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Brambly Hedge vintage embroidery kits 1: some lucky finds

Do you remember the brambly Hedge children’s books, from the 1990’s? They were cute little story books, similar in style to Beatrix Potter. I used to work in a public library around the time they were originally published, and I well remember the stir they created when they were first brought out.

Brambly 4

Recently, I came across a lovely full set of the eight titles in a slip case on Amazon – and it was priced at just one penny! I couldn’t believe my luck, so I bought them before anyone else beat me to it!

Brambly 5

When the set arrived, I was quite shocked to see that the original price for the set of eight had been £55!!!

Brambly 3

The images in these little books are just magical. They are full of detail, and really well drawn.

Brambly 8

The reason I wanted to get the books is that I am also interested in the embroidery kits that were brought out at around the same time (that is, the early 1990s). Then, surface embroidery was much more popular than it is these days. I have managed to get two so far, on Ebay. Both of them have never been opened! There’s this one, which is four little mice looking out of a night-time window at the snow falling:

Brambly 1

The kit has the outlines printed on a beige fabric with a slight sheen to it, Anchor full skeins of thread, a key to the stitches, and even a flexi-hoop.

Brambly 2

The other design is of several mice sitting round a table drinking mint tea.

Brambly 9

This one didn’t have a flexi-hoop in the kit, strangely, but the rest of the contents are similar. I think I’ll get a flexi-hoop to match the first one, so that I can display them together.

Brambly 10

The embroideries are very well designed – similar to the pictures from the books, despite using only about half a dozen stitches (mainly stem stitch and satin stitch). The colours have been deliberately kept muted, like the watercolours from the books.

Brambly 11

The instructions that you actually stitch from can seem a bit daunting at first sight, but anyone who stitched surface embroidery kits in the eighties and nineties will be familiar with this – a really detailed image, with each line having a different pattern, so that you can refer from it to the key, which tells you which stitch you should do, in which colour. It’s like painting by numbers, but with thread. It’s easier to do than to explain, really!

Brambly 12

There are several other kits in the range, but I have been outbid on Ebay several times now when I’ve tried to get those. I’m still after these two, in particular:

Brambly 6

Brambly 7

Cute, aren’t they?

Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 41: the base and the roof

The base of the original stitched version of the Home Sweet Home workbox that Carolyn Pearce made (to appear in her book) had a plain, unstitched, base panel. But she didn’t like it, so she unpicked the box, added some embroidery, and assembled it again. I can see why she liked this version better, as it’s really pretty. Unfortunately, it’ll hardly ever be seen, but when has that ever stopped an embroiderer from making something anyway?!

The original base panel was supposed to have the name of the embroiderer and the date. I don’t like putting the date on things I’ve made – I don’t usually put my name, either! But the oval looked too blank with nothing in it, so I added ‘made by’ and my name, as Carolyn had done on hers.

The oval is a line of green chain stitches, worked in Perle number 5 (quite a thick thread – it makes lovely chains), edged on both sides with a line of stem stitch in Kreinik very fine braid.

Base 1

Then the red and orange anenomes are stitched in raised cross stitches, with a black French knot in the centre. The little flowers nearest to the green bands are made in Rosette stitch. On the left hand side, you can see where I’ve already worked the deep yellow French knots for the centres of the Forget-me-nots.

Base 2

Then the flower petals are stitched – five French knots for each flower, in pale blue and pale cream.

Base 3

Lastly, leaves in Silk’n’Color pale variegated green shades and Kreinik fine gold braid are worked in Lazy daisy stitch. I love the way this looks – and the way it builds up, using very simple stitches, to make something that looks really good. As I said, pity it’ll hardly ever be seen….

Base 4

You might have noticed that the spelling of my first name here is a bit different from what I usually use, maybe? That’s because my birth name is Janet, but my Sufi spiritual name is Jannat, and that’s the name I use when I’m not ‘working’. So, my business is called Janet Granger Designs, but my friends call me Jannat. It’s Arabic, and means ‘the garden of happiness’.

Having spent a nice weekend stitching the base, I then spent a pretty boring couple of evenings stitching the roof. In Carolyn’s book, she used a pale grey green 28 count evenweave fabric for the roof, and a variegated Perle thread to stitch the ’tiles’. But even though I bought the book only a month or so after it had been published, that thread was already unavailable. So, I chose a darker fabric (Zweigart Jobelan 28 count in Tartan Green – a fat quarter was plenty), and a crochet cotton, mercer 20, Lizbeth brand, in Leaf Green Dark for the tiles, and Fern Green Medium for the lacing. I bought mine from Roseground.com, for £2.75 per ball in 2015. But using a plain thread on dark fabric wasn’t much fun to stitch. It looks good when it’s finished, though.

[EDIT January 2017: for anyone wishing to find the dusty green roof fabric as listed in the second edition of the book (published late 2016), Lazy Daisy in Melbourne, Australia has it and is happy to cut a fat 1/8th for about Au$13, which is enough for two roofs. The price shown at the site is for a fat quarter.]

You start to do the honeycomb stitch by stitching blocks of stitches, four threads high by six stitches wide, diagonally across the fabric. For hours. And hours.

Roof 1

Then, using the lighter green thread, you lace through the blocks (not going through the fabric except at the very beginning and end of each row), up and down from one row to the next, from right to left.

Roof 2

Then you start again at the right hand side and work along the next row, creating a honeycomb effect.

Roof 3

It looks good when it’s done, but it certainly isn’t my idea of fun stitching. When my husband saw what I was doing, he said,’Why are you doing that?! It’s just green on green!’ Quite. And I’ve got to do two of them. One for each side of the roof. But this is the final bit of stitching before I can assemble the box, so the next bit should be a bit more exciting 🙂

Roof 4

 

Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 39: the front door side of the box

This is the second to last panel that I need to stitch in order to complete the Home Sweet Home workbox, designed by Carolyn Pearce.

I must admit, I had been putting off doing this side and the one with the pea pods on, as they both have these applique windows on them. I have read the instructions over and over, but don’t really like the method suggested in Carolyn’s book (using a cloud-filling stitch to make the leaded lights on the windows). So, in the end, I decided to make my own version!

I cut a piece of organza ribbon to the exact size of the window, and tacked it down with tiny stitches around the edge (not using a kind of Bondaweb, as Carolyn had suggested, as I didn’t have any). Then I laid pale grey stranded cotton in a diamond pattern over the organza, only attaching it around the edges.

Front 1

Where the strands crossed over each other, I tacked them down with a tiny stitch in a darker shade of grey. Then, to divide the large panes of the window, I stitched rows of chain stitch in two strands of the darker grey.
Front 3

Finally, I surrounded the whole window with a very dark grey outline of Chain stitch.

Front 4

The door, too, I stitched slightly differently from Carolyn’s instructions. She suggested Cretan stitch variation, worked over waste canvas. I had some 14 count waste canvas, but couldn’t be bothered with such a fiddly stitch, so I worked rows of tent stitch over two horizontal and one vertical threads of the canvas.

Front 5

When it was all done, I dampened the canvas (being careful to not get the surrounding pencil lines of the rest of the design wet), and then pulled out the canvas threads with tweezers, leaving the embroidered chevron pattern behind.

Front 6

To finish the doorway, I worked two rows of Stem stitch in the same variegated thread.

Front 7

The climbing rose tree has Stem stitch branches, and Coral stitch trunk.

Front 8

I used two skeins of variegated fine wool for the leaves, but due to the variegations, it looks like I used many more colours than that – I am really pleased with how this part turned out! The roses are made by stitching little Rosette stitches among the leaves, in two shades of pink.

Front 9

Along the base of the wall, on the left hand side, is a large pansy, stitched mainly in Long and short stitch, with a four-wrap French knot centre.

Front 10

On the right hand side is a cornflower.

Front 11

At the base of the climbing rose is this dear little rabbit. He’s stitched in one strand of Appleton’s crewel wool for the most part, in rows of Stem stitch, and some Long and short stitch. His tail is Turkey stitch (uncut), using Rainbow Wisper thread. This picture was taken before I’d stitched him holding a carrot. In Carolyn’s book, she uses a charm for the carrot, but I don’t like charms much, so I embroidered the carrot instead.

Front 12

After stitching the meadow flowers along the bottom edge of the wall, and adding a sequin and seed bead for the door handle, this is how the whole panel looks now that it’s complete:

Front 13