Thursday, April 28, 2011

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding!

In honour of the Royal Wedding tomorrow, I thought I would share this neat little oddity that I first heard about a few weeks ago. Chances are you may have already seen it, but I couldn't resist sharing it just in case you haven't :) Although it's not cross-stitching, most of us know a knitter or two, even if we don't knit ourselves.

Fiona Goble has written a tongue-in-cheek book called Knit Your Own Royal Wedding!

It's a pattern book that includes instructions for the whole cast of Royal family members, including the Queen and even her beloved Corgi dogs! There are also assembly instructions for making the balcony that is reputed to be the location of Will and Kate's wedding kiss:

You can also get a better idea of the figures from this neat little video that the publishers made to promote the book (and there are loads of others on Youtube):

The author also keeps a knitting blog, where she chronicles the publicity appearances of her characters and shows reader-submitted photos of completed projects from the book!

There is an article at Macleans magazine that reveals the attention to detail that was put into the designs - all of the characters were scaled to size, and even the military uniforms and medals were replicated with accuracy. Published at the end of March, the sales of the book have already wildy exceeded expectations, and it is now on a third edition! 

According to a review of the book on, (Shala Kerrigan): "After you've learned the basics for making the dolls, at the end is a chapter of alternate clothing, so you can fill out your wedding with guests, maybe even making a mini you to attend the wedding."

Am I right in thinking that this is adorable? Or is it slightly crazy? Who knows!

At any rate, the Royal Wedding is sure to be spectacular! Even if there are no cute knitted Corgis frolicing about in the chapel ;) Congratulations Will and Kate!

(Image from this TechWhiz article that provides detailed information about the event, including links to the download of the official program and links to the Official Youtube Royal Channel, which will be streaming the Royal Wedding live, an historic media first)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WIP: Twilight Angel - Her Skirts Appear!

Spring is surely on its way, for Mr. Sun made a greatly appreciated appearance on not one but two days! And so, much happy stitching resulted, aided and abetted by his sunbeams :)

When we last left Twilight Angel, she looked like this:

And she has since had her overskirt finished, and her blue sash added:

As if that wasn't enough, she has also had her underskirt finished:

Next up for stitching is the wide blue band on the bottom of her underskirt, which echoes all the blues in her sash! I was very surprised with how fast the stitching of the underskirt came along, actually. I think that the larger sections of a single colour really helped to speed up my stitching, as the colours of the overskirt changed every few stitches.

Although the colouration of the underskirt is less subtle than the overskirt, I really do like the sunray effect of the yellows! One of the features that attracted me to this design is that Twilight Angel has colours of the day (yellows, white) as well as colours of the early evening (lavenders, light blues) and the darker hues of the night (navy blue). Most angel designs that I've seen tend either towards the very light or the very dark, and I like that Twilight Angel contains the many different hues that characterize the actual transition of day into night!

So I am quite happy with my progress, although I must confess that I had a difficult section with the very right of her underskirt. I had thought my stitching on target, until I went to put in the final colour and realized that I was out by one and a half stitches. And I further realized that I needed to take out the other four colours in that section to properly remedy the error! As tempted as I was to fudge it, I took the time to undo the mistake and redo the stitching and am much happier for it, though I was less than content at the time *rolls eyes*

Also, I surpassed a Personal Stitchy Record - I have worked with Twilight Angel for weeks and have yet to make the half cross-stitches into full stitches! And furthermore, I have actually added in more half cross-stitches and left them alone too! This is a first for me.

Time will tell how long my fortitude will last :)

Weather-wise, Twilight Angel may have to be put aside for a little while. The forecast here is for rain and more rain (and perhaps a few flurries, *ack!*) for the next few days, so I will likely be working on other projects instead. I've finished the blackwork on my Monarch Pincushion, and will be starting on the filling stitches sometime soon; hopefully, I'll have some pictures to share in the near future! I'm also looking forward on catching up on my e-mails and stitchy blogging news; and I do appreciate your continued patience.

Here's hoping that Mr. Sun will come out and shine on your stitching! ;)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stitchy News! With Giveaway & Contest!

There are some very interesting stitchy things to check out around the blogosphere!

In the last Stitchy News! post, I mentioned the wonderful work that CrazyStitcher of Crazy Cross-Stitcher had done with the blackwork design Flower, by Jeanne Dansby of WyrdByrd Designs. Well, CrazyStitcher has a great new post up with new photographs and a really neat slideshow of the finished card, including the greeting she stitched! Her work is absolutely marvelous, and it is hard to believe that this is her very first filled blackwork project!

CrazyStitcher also has a spiffy new Gallery, filled with some very cuddly and cute animals called Country Companions among other lovely works, that is well worth visiting!

Congratulations on your wonderful finish CrazyStitcher!

I'm also immensely flattered and pleased to report that CrazyStitcher's good friend, Rainy Day Crafter (of Dancing in the Rain) has also been inspired to try her hand at blackwork after seeing my Metallic Monarch Variation!

Of course, all the beautiful designs in the blackwork booth at the large craft fair she and CrazyStitcher recently attended - and the short class they both took that day - might have something to do with it, but both have credited my work as their inspiration to try the technique, and I can't put into words how happy I am that they both thought so much of a work I did that they were inspired to try a stitching method that was new to them both :)

Although, that said, all credit should ultimately go to Jeanne Dansby, methinks; I hadn't been moved to try stitching another blackwork project for years until happy happenstance led me to Monarch, so there is a nice stitchy karma domino effect on the go it seems ;)

At any rate, Rainy Day has posted up a beautiful finish of a lovely blackwork design called 'Forget-Me-Nots', and if you click on the photo for the enlarged version, you can better see the gorgeous and subtle filling stitches she did in metallic gold in the centers of the largest flowers! While this would be a beautiful design to completely fill in with specialty stitches, the well-placed and restrained sparkles of the Upright Cross-stitches and Smyrna Crosses lend her 'Forget-Me-Nots' an elegant and refined air that is lovely and impressive!

Congratulations on your first blackwork finish Rainy Day!

And that's not all. In this same post you'll find a photo of her finish of Deckchairs, which is also the first large project she's ever attempted (!), and the start of one of her Wish List projects, a cute little girl with a very sparkly umbrella aptly (though somewhat confusingly) named Gorjus! And Rainy Day has included some eye-candy pictures of the unusual and intriguingly designed blackwork projects at the craft fair she and CrazyStitcher went to, The International Craft and Hobby Fair (ICHF) in the UK. For more photos of the beautiful quilts on display at the fair, visit CrazyStitcher's post about that day!

So congratulations also on your Deckchairs finish and your new start, Rainy Day!

In more exciting blackwork news, Ant of Sweden, the company that recently launched the new retail collection of WyrdByrd Designs patterns by Jeanne Dansby, are offering a new contest on their site. To enter, you must guess the name of an excerpt of one of Jeanne's patterns! Five lucky winners will receive the full chart of this gorgeous Spring-like design :) Open internationally, this contest ends on April 28th, 2011 so make sure you hurry over soon!

I first learned of the innovative framing work of Jill Rensel in a recent post on Arthemise's (Mostly) Stitching blog, where she showed pictures of two of her newly framed epic cross-stitch works: The Awakening from Heaven and Earth Designs (HAED) and Teresa Wentzler's Castle Sampler. In both cases, Jill extended the work by adding hand-painted details to the beautiful mats she created, and her work is an excellent and unusual compliment to these complex designs.

Jill has recently started her own blog, called Rensel Studio, where she is sharing images of the many cross-stitch works she has framed over the years. While I've heard that framers can work magic, I was not aware of this particular form of artistry, and am amazed by the way that her craft work sets off the stitching of her clients.

Some of my favourites of the works she's posted so far are this subtly framed floral, this lush mandala, this delicate heirloom sampler (with closeup one and closeup two), this stunning sea mermaid, this charming bird and watering can, these curious hummingbirds amidst the flowers and this cute little Easter design. And from her Work We're Proud Of page, this adorable birth sampler and this beautiful fairy.

Jill's artistry is astounding and truly inspirational!

And last, but certainly not least, Karen, of Karen's Colourful Creations, has had a monumental week! For the past few months, she has been taking a cyberclass from the Victoria Sampler in a project that she long wished to work with, VS's Heirloom Christmas band sampler! It has been interesting and inspiring to watch her stitching progress and to read her thoughts as she worked on this piece, which includes many specialty stitches and advanced embroidery methods, including drawn-thread work.

Honestly, I have always viewed works done with such elite methods as a bit intimidating, but watching Karen's work has really opened up my eyes to the possibilities inherent in such elaborate stitching! It may take me a while to get there, but I confess that I am now very curious about drawn-thread work, and may look into trying a few stitches sometime :)

If you don't believe me (or even if you do), head on over to view Karen's post about her beautiful finish of Heirloom Christmas in all its considerable glory! This design is very aptly named, as it is definitely a keepsake work to treasure :) It also features one of the nicest Holiday verses I've ever come across: "Sing the Joy of Christmas / Of Peace that never ends / Share the Love within your Heart / With family and friends".  If you are new to her blog, I recommend going through her archives and viewing her in-progress.

And Karen is starting a new cyberclass with VS soon, a beautiful design called Butterfly Lace, which she just posted about today! If you visit the design site, you'll see that there are actually two colourways available - a yellow butterfly amidst blue hydrangeas, and a multicoloured butterfly frolicing amongst pink daisies :) Both are beautiful, and Karen has chosen the pink. The most interesting thing is that the butterfly is not a charm, as I first assumed; it's a little miniature sculpture that Karen will be making out of lovely ribbon and gold wire! How neat is that? I'm really looking forward to seeing her work on BL ;)

Besides her spectacular finish and promising new start, Karen has also reached a milestone - it's her 5th Blogiversary, and she is hosting her first giveaway to celebrate! To enter, simply leave a comment on her giveaway post, with your e-mail address if it is not in your profile. The drawing is open to everyone (including non-followers) and there is a very generous gift certificate to the stitchy store of your choice, in the amount of $40 US, to be won! The deadline is April 30th, 2011.

Congratulations on reaching 5 years, Karen, and may you have at least 5 more!

So that rounds up this very special edition of Stitchy News! There will be more updates coming on my personal stitching projects soon :) Until then, as always, Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy News! A New Start and Finish!!!

Sorry for the unexpected absence! I can't blame my poor modem this time :) I've just been feeling a little under the weather. But I'm happy to report that I have lots of news to share, and I very much look forward on catching up on all the new stitchy blog happenings soon (although it might take a little while, so I'd greatly appreciate your patience)!

My Mother just passed a personal milestone and I wanted to make her something special to celebrate. I had a pattern that I knew she liked in my WTS (Waiting to Stitch) binder, and so last Thursday, I pulled together all the threads and went at it! And I am very happy to report that I finished it yesterday, and it has been delightfully received! It is not framed yet, but Mom likes to frame things herself (and is very good at it!), so I have gifted it as is with that in mind :) Hopefully she will find a special frame soon!

On to the stitchy goodness! This is the pattern I started with:

This pretty little design combines two of my favourite things - china and flowers, which happen to be two of my Mother's favourite things as well :) The great news is that this freebie is still available, at least for a little while! Cross-stitch designer Donna Vermillion Giampa runs The Vermillion Stitchery, and publishes a free series of designs annually, usually with a theme. For example, 2011's is "Teacup Posies" (flowers in teacups).

This simply named "Teacup and Doily" design is from the 2007 Design Potpourri Series, which is not typical of the VS series in that it had no overarching theme, and so the motifs are all very different. This is the only teacup in the collection. Now, on the VS website, all free series before 2009 are listed as "Formerly Free", but this chart indicates that the 2007 series has not been charted for retail and is not available for sale at this time. A simple Google search turns up the 2007 series, and all the links are still functional, so as far as I can tell this design is still a freebie for the time being. To download, visit this page.

I had originally downloaded this design in 2007 (!) so I was surprised and pleased to find it still available. The pattern is available in three formats: a black-and-white chart, a colour chart (the one I worked from), and a file for machine embroidery. All are .PDFs.

When I stitch, I tend to make alterations, and this design was no exception. My Mother was never keen on the doily, and although I started stitching with full intentions of adding the doily, I finished the teacup first and was glad I did. The longer I worked with the chart, I noticed more aspects about it that bothered me. The teacup is gorgeous! It is a small design, but is full of such detail and shading that it really has a three-dimensional effect. In contrast, the doily is flat and two-dimensional; the lack of draping or shading gives it the overall effect of lying stiffly over an invisible table, and I think that that is what was making me uneasy with it. Plus, it's charted off-center beneath the teacup. So, no doily in mine!

I also wanted to use a coloured fabric, to make the white of the china stand out. I had originally envisioned a buttery-yellow cream, and it did coordinate well with the colours; however, it also washed them out slightly when I laid my flosses against the fabric. So, I went dark! Navy blue, to be exact. And here is the finished work, that I call Floral Teacup:

While stitching this, I was a bit nervous as I had no idea if I had made the right fabric choice. At first I thought that the contrast was going to be too harsh, but I was really pleased (and, honestly, relieved!) to find that it really brightens up the colours, sets off the white, and really makes the gold metallic details shine!

Floral Teacup was also a stitchy first for me, in that I tried to take a lot of pictures of the work in-progress in order to try making a slideshow! So here is that little experiment:

I hope that it works for you! If you do have any problems, please let me know :)

Quick Stitching Review for Floral Teacup:

As previously mentioned, I worked from the coloured chart, which was very well-laid out and therefore very easy to read. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of a small picture of the stitched design in the lower right-hand corner; it was a nice reference to have.

Besides the elimination of the doily, most of my changes were minor ones. I backstitched the violet flowers in a deeper shade of the colour family, 552 (the flowers were 553 and 554). I found that this helped to give the flowers a rounder look, as the backstitching softens the edges of the cross-stitch. This is a neat trick I discovered while working on another project, and one that I use frequently when working with one-stitch blossoms.

I used Charles Craft Gold Standard 14-count Aida to work on, and so I worked my cross-stitches in 3 strands of DMC, rather than the recommended 2, which is my preference for 14-count for its thicker coverage. This is especially essential, I find, when working light stitches on dark fabric, as I did with this project. For backstitch, I used 1 strand.

The substitution that made the most difference was changing the gold. The pattern calls for DMC Gold metallic floss (5282, following the old colour system before the Light Effects numbering was introduced), and I do love this shade. However, it is a very brilliant gold with a slight greenish cast, and doesn't really have the softness of the 14-karat gold paint typically used for detailing on fine china. So I changed the gold out to something more reminiscent of real china. I had some J & P Coats blending filament that was a good match, and so this is what I used. Although you can use any brand, guided by your own colour preferences, I really do recommend using a blending filament. Although it is more fragile than metallics, and therefore requires more careful working, it doesn't spilt or fray apart as much as metallics do. It does stretch with heavy pulling, however, so I find that keeping your tension a bit lighter and tugging carefully helps a great deal.

Because blending filament strands are thinner than metallics, I used 3 strands of blending filament for the gold cross-stitches, and 1 strand for the backstitching. I also took the time to backstitch the gold cross-stitches with the gold, as the pattern suggests, which seems a bit redundant but does help to even out the edges. I made some other minor changes to the gold detailing: I took off the peak on the top of the cup handle and shortened the long overhang for a smoother look, and I backstitched the entire inner rim of the saucer in gold, as I found that the grey areas just split up the lovely detailing. And I omitted the gold French knot sprays on either side of the central floral medallion entirely, due admittedly to my loathing of French knots, but also due to the fact that three-dimensional gold embellishments are rarely seen on actual china, at least in my experience.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable project to stitch, and I was able to complete it in about five days. There is a great deal of fractional cross-stitches though, most of them combined 3/4s and 1/4s, and so if that is something that you are not comfortable with, I would not recommend this design. The gold leaf border at the lip of the teacup is particularly finicky. Also, the gold detailing on the outer rim of the saucer requires some long stitching (backstitching that stretches over 2 or 3 stitches instead of 1) that is a but fussy, especially since the chart does not outline the starting and ending points of each long stitch clearly.

Still, if Floral Teacup appeals to you, I encourage you to download a copy of the pattern for yourself. Even if you are not a lover of china, the small floral motif in the center medallion is a lovely little design that has a lot of shading for its size, making it look surprisingly realistic. It would be lovely worked on its own. I also think that this design would be easily adaptable, since you could change the colours of the flowers and the blue of the china easily (with a yellow rose on a pink cup, for example!) while retaining the shape and shading that makes this little teacup look so pretty and unique (in my opinion, at least!).

So there you have it! A new start and a finish all in one! ;) It's not often that I can say that.

I hope that you find this project as enjoyable to look at as I found it to stitch! I am still working on my Twilight Angel (Mr. Sun actually made an appearance yesterday! *gasp*) and will be posting some new pictures up soon.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stitchy News!

Just a quick update with some interesting things that have caught my attention lately:

The wonderful CrazyStitcher has an excellent new entry up on her blog entitled In Stitches that not only speaks kindly of yours truly (and my tendency to, er, rant) but showcases two brilliant bookmark finishes (with enviously well-made tassels) and a magnificent specialty-stitch filled blackwork WIP, Jeanne Dansby's Flower freebie (from WyrdByrd Designs). I can't wait to see this wonderful product finished, and just want to say: way to go CS!

From the I-can't-believe-that-I-managed-to-miss-this category, DMC has released a special new board game just for stitchers based on Monopoly!!!!!!

Seriously, WOW! I have no idea when this actually came out, but here's the info that I managed to find: DMC's press release for Stitch-opoly is here, with a free .PDF download of one of the 'property' card designs, a cheerfully vibrant butterfly amid flowers that is perfect for Spring (direct link here).

This is the image of the board game from the DMC site. Instead of collecting 'property' by trading 'real estate', the goal of the game is to collect stitch techniques by trading stitch types. The end result is to build your "your own needlework studio and empire" (!), with 'Go Shopping' and 'Needlework Stash' replacing the Community Chest and Chance cards.

Since the game relies on stitch techniques, I think it's a safe bet that this game is designed more for 'needleworkers' (a term repeatedly used to describe the audience) and so will likely apply across the whole wide needle arts spectrum, to embroiderers and textile artists as well as cross-stitchers.

Here is the image of the tokens used in the game. This is the clearest view I could find, but they are still a little blurry. From what I can make out, I think the tokens are (from left-to-right): a card of floss on a stand; an embroidery hoop on a stand; a DMC vintage-style thread cutter; a pair of scissors on a stand; a ?????; and a ball of DMC pearl cotton #8.

In Canada, Stitch-opoly retails at Herrschners, the largest online and by-catalogue needlework supplier in the country. Here is the listing for the game, in which the retail price is given as $31.49 CA and $29.99 US, which is comparable to most specialty Monopoly editions I've seen. I've never played any version but the original, but Monopoly is one of the few board games I've always loved, so this looks fun to me (although it might be agony for others, mwahahaha! <evil laughter>).

Additionally, it is clear from the game information that Stitch-opoly is meant to be educational as well as fun, as DMC states that each stitch type card includes a detailed stitch diagram on the reverse, so this might be a useful tool to interest non-stitchers in the craft. DMC also has another game out for quilters, called Quilt-opoly (surprise, surprise). You can find more information about this variant in the official release. And although the release says that Quilt-opoly is 'coming soon', it is already retailing at Herrschers for the same prices as Stitch-opoly. If anyone's played this already, I'd love to know how you found it!

In Giveaway! news, Mary Corbet of the awesome embroidery resource site NeedleNThread has put together a wonderful needlepainting prize package for her birthday, with a lovely wild rose embroidery kit, stretching bars and embroidery scissors! Please read the official rules for entry at the bottom of this post - they are simple, but necessary (leave a comment - with a distinctive ID name - and answer a question). 

I love wild roses - to me, they are the quintessential flower of Summer, with their beautiful fragrance and brilliant magenta petals (or white, depending)! I've entered the draw (Comment 94 is me!), so drop by before April 12th to try your luck! 

In very sad news, a friend of designer Jeanne Dansby is very ill and needs a kidney donated. The good news is that you can help, by leaving your best wishes with Jeanne and by going to her site to view the video profile of her friend's situation. Although you may not be a candidate, passing the news on may ensure that the entry does reach someone who can help.

And finally, in the very-timely-and-important news category, one of my all-time favourite cross-stitch designers, Jennifer Aikman-Smith of Dragon Dreams, has released her first new design in quite a while, a very special dragon for a very special cause. Like most of the world, I have watched the media coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan - and its heart-breaking aftermath - with sorrow and an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

Jennifer has generously designed a new pattern - available for free, providing that a donation is given to a charity (Red Cross is suggested, but I suspect a donation to any agency directly dealing with the relief effort would be welcomed and encouraged) - called, very aptly, Compassion. I have posted the thumbnail image from the DDs website, because I really wanted you all to see it. Even if dragons aren't normally something you stitch, I think that this one will really touch your heart.

The image of the globe cradled gently in the arms of a dragon as red as the center of Japan's flag memoralizes the diaster while suggesting hope for the future, of Japan and of the world.

Please visit the Dragon Dream's freebies page to make your donation and get your own Dragon of Compassion today! For futher inspiration, Blu at Therapy By Thread recently posted a finish of this design, with before-and-after pictures of the backstitching.

Well, that's all the news from here. I have a few quick notes about the site to share: I just realized, much to my chagrin, that the link to StitchinKat's Pawprints Blog in my Blog sidebar was wrong, so that is now remedied! I apologize for any confusion. Also, I recently recieved my giveaway prize from Moonsilk Stitches in the mail, a copy of The New World of Crewel, written in 1975 by Lisbeth Perrone; I am thrilled with it, and will be posting a review sometime soon! I have a crewel kit that I started in the bottom of my workbasket, and am hoping that these new designs and stitching diagrams will inspire me to dig it back out and finish it! Wishful thinking, perhaps, but one never knows. Or, more accurately, this one, meaning moi, never knows what fancy might take her suddenly into unexpected (and sometimes frustrating - yes, I'm looking at you, Mr. Accursed Whipstitch) things :)

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Project, As Promised!

So, evidently, there is a bit of interest in what exactly I am up to at the moment, so I feel a little bit sheepish in announcing that my new project is spinning off from Monarch (which, as most of you will probably recall, was a design generously gifted to me by Jeanne Dansby at WyrdByrd Designs, and is now available for purchase at Ant of Sweden!). Remember when I said I thought that Monarch might be nice finished as the cover of a treasure box?

Well, I've decided to do it! One of the unfinished boxes I had in my stash is square, with the perfect sized opening to insert Monarch into! I've never actually done a box finish before, but I am looking forward to trying my hand at it. I'm going to paint it black, but am unsure of the finishing as of yet. I have been looking for a fabric to line the box bottom and top with, but although I found a few possibles, I haven't found anything with my colours in a pattern (or even a solid, unfortunately) that I love. But I do know what I'm putting in it!

I'm making myself a set of stitcher's tools!!!

Don't know what I'm talking about? That's perfectly okay, as I really hadn't heard the term either until I started reading stitching blogs regularly. Mostly, it refers to very small finishes, also known as "stitcher's toys", of the sort featured on the popular gallery blogs The World's Largest Collection of Smalls and The World's Largest Collection of Smalls, Too. Often, these are made and given as tokens of friendship, and are very popular in stitching exchanges (or so I've heard, having never actually participated in one).

Stitcher's tool sets can vary, but most follow the general form of this jaw-droppingly gorgeous set from Victoria Sampler, stitched by blogger Anna-Zont and featured on TWLCOST on March 30th, 2011. This set has a pincushion (in the distinctive French tufted fashion known as a "biscornu"), a scissors' case and scissors' fob, and a needlebook.

Honestly, despite my admiration of stitchers who work with smalls, I've always thought them to be a bit fussy; great for decorations, or keepsakes, but not really practical for the everyday. So, I have decided to basically meld form with function and attempt to assemble a practical set of stitcher's tools to help me while I work. It sounds strange, I know. I have never seen a stitcher's set actually made to work with and stand up to use. But my Great-Grandmother had a maxim that 'just because something is useful, it doesn't mean it can't be pretty', and my Mother has taken it to heart over the years, resulting in many lovely things in unexpected places throughout the house, much to my ever-lasting horror and protest ('It's too good! You can't use that! It needs to be framed! All that beautiful work!').

And to my secret delight, of course. For I do so love pretty, shiny things :)

Therefore, I am going to make some usable stitchery! Right now, I basically work with a plain pair of scissors, a small magnet for my needles, a pincushion that hates tapestry needles and only works well with sharps, and my thimble. On whatever surface (usually my little lap desk) that is currently holding my stitching pattern. And although I have thought of making pincushions many times over the years - and in fact made two, for other people - I have never once thought of making one for myself.

And Monarch is so lovely that I didn't want to put it away until I could find a frame (my usual practice). I want to look at it every day and see the sun shine on all its sparkles! And when I started thinking about the stitcher's tools, I knew I wanted them to complement Monarch. I was going to try to adapt one of Jeanne's free designs, but eventually decided that since this is likely the only set I'm ever going to make (seriously), I might as well do it right, and so I have taken Jeanne's excellent advice about motifs to heart and have embarked on making all sorts of Monarch smalls to fit in my (yet to be made) Monarch treasure box! As of now, I've charted out a pincushion, a scissors' fob and a scissors' case.

And here is the Scissors' Fob Stitching Progress and Finishing!

I started by stitching the center Monarch medallion in inverted blackwork on two squares;

And then I filled in the blackwork, using the same metallics and stitches as in the original piece. I did make one change; instead of using the DMC Jewel Effects I used in the star for the corners (as I did in Monarch), I added the gold so that I could have the full range of colours represented. Here are some close-ups:

Before Fill -

After Fill -

As you can see, one side has turquoise diamonds, and the other has purple. I had initially meant to do both sides in turquoise, but really, where's the fun in having the front and back the same?! This way, to get a different look, all I have to do it flip it over. And I also know which side is the 'front' which turned out to be helpful in the finishing :)

Also, I should mention here something that I forgot to talk about before; the Smyrna Crosses and Algerian specialty stitches I used to fill are the Eyelet Variations, which I stitched instead of the regular ones in my enthusiasm and, quite frankly, entirely by accident at first. When I realized my mistake (like halfway through the work *oops*) I was going to take them out. But then I decided that I quite liked the look of eyelets and how they sort of echo the eyelet naturally created in the middle of the star stitch. So I kept them :)

I am going to spare you the painful process of assembly. Oh, I had studied all sorts of tutorials, which I'm not going to link to here because none of them tell you how @#&)*^! hard it is. Sufficient to say, several unladylike words were uttered that day. And it was a "day". It took me a whole afternoon and a substantial part of one night. What the pictures don't show is that this thing is tiny. I only have one pair of scissors, after all, and they are rather small. And so I just didn't see the point of making some huge awkward quasi-pincushion to forever be elbowing out of my way.

The stitch count, to the border, is 18 across and 18 high. Even on 14 count Aida, it's small.

But the teeny-tiny nature of my fob was not the problem. No, it was the whipstitching. The evil, thrice-damned, utterly-impossible-if-you-are-not-an-octopus whipstitching. Which is unfortunately the prized method of stitching together smalls, if all these happily-whipstitching tutorial makers are to be believed. "Oh, whipstitching is sooooo fun!" they joyously exclaimed. "Oh, whipstitching is sooooo fast!" they exulted, smug in the fact that they were sharing all of the steps and none of the pain, thereby passing the torture onto other unsuspecting stitchers new to this whole "finishing" game. 

Nay. Whipstitching is not fun. It is not fast.  I now loathe whipstitching with a deep and abiding passion. And so, I will have to stress my creative thinking and come up with alternative ways of finishing the rest of my tools, hopefully less painfully. Nevertheless:

I finished it! It was a miracle. And I'm glad I got one, because I am never making another!

So much thanks goes to whatever divine being happened to take pity on me. Not only did I spend forever trying to close it, but I had to take it all apart - twice - and restitch the sides in an effort to get the ribbon to set in right (!). It's still a bit off, but oh well. I was not redoing it a third time. I know they say it's the charm, but by that point I was ready to burn the thing.

 This is how it looks when united with its proper mate, my stitching scissors:

Once I stepped away from it for a while, I could even admit it's pretty (try squinting a bit if you don't believe me, lol). I'm trying not to wince, even as I type this, at how bumpy, lumpy and unattractive my pitiful whipstitching is. And that's another good thing to remember: whipstitching, as well as being neither fun nor fast, is not pretty in the least. Not. At. All.

Here are some close-ups of the edging, just so you know I'm not being overly nit-picky:

So there you have it! My non-Internet hiatus was productive in the sense that I finially got something finished and have a great deal more somethings coming up soon! I am now the proud owner of a small stitcherly decorative finish that will hopefully be practical and enable me to locate my scissors better while I stitch (they tend to slip under the pattern pages, and slide off into my lap, and so forth)! It may be wonky. But's that's all right. Because wonderfully wonky things are most welcome wherever I am :)

Next up: my Monarch-inspired Pincushion! With no accursed whipstitching!!! *Whew*

My New Modem Cometh!

Image by jscreationzs /

Woo Hoo! I am back online! And much sooner than I had anticipated, so double Yay!

Thank you all so very much for your best wishes! I seriously think that all the good stitchy thoughts resulted in a miracle here. Considering the weekend, it arrived far, far faster than I had even dared to hope, let alone been led to expect, so I am now a very happy girl!

The word verification has now been removed from the comments!

I really appreciate your patience and support :)

New post coming up soon! So please check back!