Friday, 30 November 2012

Six Months Of Stitching - Kits To Take Your Time Over

About 18 months ago, I realised that it had been several years since I had done a piece of cross-stitch.

Never one to ease myself back into anything gradually, I ordered myself a large kit measuring approx 16" x 12" from  Dimensions and set to work. 

The kits are really good value, with plenty of thread supplied - in fact I had so much left over at the end, I wondered if I'd done something wrong! The only thing I hadn't noticed when I bought it was the metallic thread used (mixed with normal thread) for the bamboo 'framework' around the outside. I'd never used metallic thread before, and I have to say, I didn't particularly enjoy it, and wouldn't mind if I never used it again, but it does look very effective!

The whole thing took me roughly 6 months to complete, although I put it in a cupboard over last Christmas and forgot about it for about 6 weeks, which didn't help, but I got there in the end. 

I seem to remember trying to work out how many stitches it actually contained at one point, but can't remember the figure I came up with now - whatever it was I'm fairly sure about 30% of them aren't in quite the right place, but it didn't look too bad once I'd got it stretched and into a frame.

Once I'd finished, I decided to buy another Dimensions kit straight away. 'Fleurs De Paris' didn't have any metallic thread involved - I made a point of checking - and measured approx 14" x 8"

I managed to get this finished within about 6 weeks, framed and up on my bedroom wall. It really suits the current trend for 'shabby chic' decor and accessories, and was really enjoyable to do (I've also seen this kit available from some Ebay sellers, with a black background, rather than the parchment colour seen here)

The only problem with this kit was that it wouldn't fit any standard, pre-made frames, so I ordered one made to measure from
I've bought their frames for other projects since, and I'd be happy to recommend them - they're reasonably priced, quickly dispatched, and securely packaged. They use non-reflective acrylic glazing in the frames, instead of glass, making them light, and less likely to get damaged in transit. They also have the facility to upload a photo of your picture to the website, and 'try out' all the different frames so you can get an idea of what it will look like on your wall, which could save a lot of expensive mistakes! 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Snowdrop Gloves

It's turned chilly in our little corner of the planet this week, so I've been knitting fingerless gloves. Gloves are an ideal project for me, since I rarely have the patience to work on a big project - gloves, scarves, cowls and hats are my bread and butter.

This pair were made with Wendy Merino DK in Mulberry and Stylecraft Special DK in Silver. Both knit up into a beautifully soft fabric with a slight sheen, and both were held double to create the warm, chunky texture I wanted for my gloves.

The pattern below is suitable for beginner and intermediate knitters who want to try stranding techniques without commiting to a bigger project or more complex pattern. When changing from one yarn to another mid-row, remember to twist one yarn over the other - if you don't, the resulting holes will make the gloves much less warm than they should be.

Knitting Pattern: Snowdrop Gloves

Using grey yarn and 5mm straight needles, cast on 44 stitches. Work three rows in knit 1, purl 1 rib.
Knit one complete row in grey yarn. On next purl row, begin the chart: three grey stitches, then one purple. You will end your row in the middle of a pattern repeat; make a note of where you are in the chart.
Continue to knit and purl (as for stocking stitch) while working the pattern – once you have noted where the central of each repeat falls, you can use it as a reference point.
Once you have completed the chart, you will be working exclusively in the purple yarn. Continue in stocking stitch for at least four inches. If you’re a confident knitter, you may like to knit two stitches together at the beginning and end of each knit row to shape the glove to your wrists – if you do this, measure frequently to ensure that your glove still fits around your wrist.
Once the piece measures four inches from the bottom of the stranded section, work four rows of knit 1, purl 1 rib and cast off using your favourite method. Sew up the sides of the glove, leaving a gap for your thumb, and weave in any loose ends.

Monday, 19 November 2012

'Sleepy Cat' Cushion

This is 'Sleepy Cat' - my latest embroidery project, and my own design. I've sewn mine onto a cushion that's approx 18" square, but the motif can be scaled up or down to suit your own needs.

I traced the design onto my cushion using an ordinary pencil - as my cushion cover was made of 100% cotton, it was fairly easy to sponge any stray pencil marks off with a cotton bud, some detergent and warm water when I'd finished - then, using 10 or 12 varying shades of cream, orange and brown embroidery threads I began to fill in the shapes.

 I tried not to repeat a pattern more than once, or if I did, to use different colours or stitches, so no two were identical (apart from the toes and facial markings) I was planning to just embroider the heart shape too, but then found a leftover wooden button that was exactly the right size, and made an interesting feature. 

The main outline was done in stem stitch, and the outlines of the shapes within are mostly stem stitch or chain stitch, as is a lot of the filling in. The rest is a mixture of leaf stitch, blanket stitch, open fishbone stitch, fly stitch (worked horizontally instead of vertically) and vandyke stitch. Mostly I used two strands of thread, but for the really fine details, like the whiskers and the pale cream curls and lines between each shape, I used a single strand.

Below is the original drawing I used as a template. It could be adapted in any way you wanted, maybe using just the basic outline with different shapes to fill it, adding beading, appliqued fabric, more buttons, sequins, or ribbon trim. Just let your imagination and your needle run riot!