My trusty needlepoint floor frame, and the saga of the chartholder

I have had my needlepoint floor frame for about ten years now, I think. I used to stitch by just rolling the fabric up in my left hand, and stitching with my right, without using a frame at all. But my chiropractor warned me that if I kept on like that, with the amount of stitching that I do, I wouldn’t be able to stitch at all in a few years, as my left shoulder would seize up completely. I was already getting back pain and headaches  :0(

My tapestry frame. The rust-coloured bag holds the flex for the lamp when I’m not using it, and the green bag hanging on the left of the frame is to cover the magnifying lens when I’m not using it, so that I don’t set the house on fire!

So, I invested in this StitchMaster wooden floor frame – this is it, proudly standing in my conservatory. It cost about £35 at the time. I found it useful from the start. For one thing, I could stitch quicker, as I could use both hands at once!

I bought the Daylight bulb attachment with removable 2.25 magnifying lens almost immediately, as I love to do miniature needlepoint. That’s what I sell in my doll’s house embroidery kit business, so I do a lot of stitching on 32 and 40 count silk gauze fabric, and it’s a lot more comfortable to do with a suitable magnifier. The one for this frame is good, as it is right there attached to the lamp, so I always have good light and magnification at the same time. The lens is rimless, which is more restful on the eyes.

A rectangular frame sits on the lugs of the arms
By moving the arms closer together, a hoop can be supported in the same way

The frame can take hoops, rotating frames (both of which just rest on the dowels at the end of the ‘arms’), and, with the help of my husband and his woodworking shed, my stand has a special attachment that slots over the dowels so that I can clip my silk gauze in its card mount onto the frame, too.

This custom-made wooden bar has holes at each end so that it sits on the dowels, and a notch in the centre so that a card mount for silk gauze can be held securely

Recently, I decided to get the other attachment that goes with this model – the chartholder clamp.  Before that, I’d used a bulldog clip to attach my charts to the arms of the floor frame, but I decided I’d like the ‘proper job’. However, once I started searching online, I realised that almost all websites were mysteriously ‘out of stock’ of the attachment. I found a couple of sites that said they had them – until I tried to order from them, and then I was told that, actually, they didn’t have them in stock at all. So, I looked on the manufacturer’s website, and, sure enough, the chartholder and lamp attachment had both been discontinued – because the frame seems to be on its way out, too.

What a shame! It’s a wonderful product, and does just what you need it to. The floor frame itself is very adjustable for all kinds of needlework frames, as they just rest on the ‘arms’. It doesn’t slowly collapse, like several other makes of floor frame tend to, as it has a nifty ‘wedge’ that supports the main upright piece. The wingnuts stay tight – there’s even a wooden block that comes with it, to help you tighten the wingnuts without hurting your hand.

So, why should it be on its way out? Well, because there’s a shiny new METAL floor frame that’s been introduced to replace it. It’s called the new StitchSmart metal stand – the blurb about it on the website starts with the words ‘Wooden stands are over’. Oh dear, I do hope not. Apart from anything else, this shiny new metal one costs £80, with the chartholder and lamp/magnifier accessory pack (only available as a set, now) costing an additional £90. It all seems to be getting a bit expensive, and ‘modern’ for the sake of it …..

Anyway, back to my search for the chartholder attachment for my nasty, old-fashioned, wooden StitchMaster frame –

I looked on Ebay (always a good place to look for discontinued things), and found someone selling one for £4.99. So I bought it, got it within 3 days, and have been using it ever since. Lovely.

My frame with all its attachments in place, ready for a nice long session of stitching!

So, if you fancy getting a very good floor frame to help with your stitching, I wouldn’t leave it too long, as even needlework accessories seem to be getting a bit trendy!

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Want to know about a brilliant tapestry and cross stitch shop in South Wales?

I recently visited a friend of mine, Karen Dixon, who lives near Abergorlech, in South Wales. No, I’d never heard of the place before, either. But it’s a lovely area, about 25 minutes’ drive from Llandeilo, with wonderful views across the valleys, very few people, and lots of sheep.

Karen has been running her own tapestry and cross stitch design business from Cathilas Farm for about 10 years now, since she moved there with her partner, Richard, from Hampshire.

I hadn’t visited the two of them for about eight years (long story – I think life just got in the way. Oh, and it’s a five hour drive from where my husband and I live, in the Peak District. That might have something to do with it!).

Anyway, the last time we visited, in 2004, they were just about to embark on renovating the barn that adjoins their house, to make it into a design studio and shop, selling other people’s kits, as well as Karen’s, under the business name of the Tapestry Kit Collection. So, this was the first time I’d seen the barn completed, although I’d heard about the project as it progressed.

But the finished barn has to be seen to be believed!!!! It’s got dozens and dozens of tapestry kits, by all the main UK designers, a good range of cross stitch kits, and a large range of trammed tapestries in stock. Stitched models are all around the room. There’s even a cosy log-burner in the corner, with squashy chairs to sit in while you choose what to buy (or the corner could be used as a ‘men’s creche’. Just a thought…..). Have a look at these images, which show a selection of what you’ll find in the shop:

The shop is open 11am till 4pm each Wednesday, and either Saturday or Sunday most weekends (other times by appointment  – phone 01558 685096). Phone before travelling, though, to make sure someone will be there to meet you. The address is Cathilas Farm, Abergorlech, Carmarthenshire SA32 7TB, and the website is here.

And a note to Karen: thanks for big bundle of spaced-dyed threads! They’ll keep me busy for months  🙂

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The March Issue of Artisans in Miniature magazine is now online

The theme for the March issue of the AIM magazine is the Tudor period. There’s 125 pages of high-quality miniature ideas, projects and articles for you to browse through – and it’s all FREE! Click here to view this wonderful magazine now.

The new March Issue of the AIM magazine – online and free!

Some of my miniature needlepoint wallhangings appear in the magazine this month, such as the Cluny Women tapestry, which is available on my website as a kit, to be stitched on 22 count canvas with Anchor stranded cotton. When completed, it measures 4 inches wide by 5 1/2 inches high. The kit includes ribbon to make the tabs, and a pole to hang it from.

Doll’s house scale miniature tapestry kit ‘Cluny Women’, measuring 4 x 5 1/2 inches

There is also an interesting article about blackwork embroidery, and in that article my Blackwork sampler kit is featured. The sampler kit comes with 28 count evenweave fabric, and a stained and varnished wooden frame to put the stitching in when it’s finished.

A tiny blackwork sampler on 28 count evenweave fabric, measuring 2 x 2.3 inches

The Cluny women kit costs £18.50  (or £9.25 as a chart pack), and the sampler kit costs £7.95. Both kits are available from my website www.janetgranger.co.uk

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