Friday, January 31, 2014

Just Nan SAL - Month #1: "Rosebuds"

I'm excited to introduce this project to you not only because this is my first entry into the Just Nan SAL but also because this is my first time stitching on Evenweave fabric!!! As you may remember, I was gifted this lovely pattern from Just Nan by Meggie, and it marks my first experience with this designer. Here is the leaflet:

I followed the colourway exactly, but mine turned out a little darker and leaned more toward the mauve than the pink. According to the chart, the model was stitched on "Zweigart 32 CT Antique Lavender Belfast Linen", which may have affected the way the colours photographed. Overall, I think mine has a more vintage feel but I like it :)

When it came time to choose my fabric, I was at a bit of a loss. Because the center is partially worked with a new-to-me Specialty Stitch called the "Mosaic Stitch"(which seems to be a smaller version of the popular Needlepoint favourite, the "Scotch Stitch") and there are Eyelets (a Diamond Eyelet in the center and Algerian Eyelets in the corners), the design cannot be stitched on Aida cloth. I couldn't find any 32 count linen here, but the design also gives measurements for 28 count.

After some fruitless hunting around in my local fabric store for some linen by the meter, I chanced upon a package of white 28 count Evenweave from M.C.G. Textiles at Michaels. This American family-owned business is new to me, and I am so very impressed with this product that - as I mentioned in my last post - I immediately went out and bought another package halfway through stitching Rosebuds :)

Here is the front and back of the package - the fabric is larger than I expected (20" x 27"), and retails here for $9.99 CA. Although the fabric is folded, the creases were light and easily came out when I sprayed them with water and let the fabric air-dry for about fifteen minutes. No ironing was needed! And that's a big plus for me ;)

The fabric itself is softer than Aida cloth, with a nice drape. And the colour is much brighter than it appears in these photos, a lovely true clear white with bluish tones rather than yellowy cream. But what impressed me most is the, well, evenness (for lack of a better term!) of the Evenweave! The threads are plump and close together... you can see in this extreme close-up of the center area (before beading). This is a HUGE deal to me! I've looked at lots of other Evenweaves, in person and online, and while less "slubby" than Linen, the threads are seldom regular. And that drives me NUTS! Also, there were no flaws, bumps or loose threads in my package either.

Made of "100% Combed Cotton", the product descriptions on the packaging and the website also state: "Our fabric is a woven 3 ply yarn. Carefully woven in each direction which details a distinct box to hold for ease in stitching". This makes the strands easier to count, I think. It took me a while at first to adjust to working over two threads instead of one, but the regularity of the weave was incredibly helpful!

The 28 count Evenweave at M.C.G. Textiles is also available in a smaller 15" x 18" package and a larger 30" by 36" package. There are five neutral colourways in the range - White, Antique White, Mushroom, Khaki and Rose (more of a mauve) - and a really neat sample pack with 12" x 14" cuts is available. You can see the Evenweave options here, and the best part is that they're all currently on sale (site-wide too)!

The company also sells several other needlework fabric options, including pre-finished items to stitch on. And M.C.G. Textiles manufactures Aida cloth in a variety of counts and some beautiful colours (with sample packs too!), including a gorgeous opalescent line called Starlite Aida! They also sell Linen imported from Belgium.

This is definitely a product I'll be using again, and that I highly recommend trying! It's really disappointing that the lovely colours and the sparkly Starlite line aren't available here locally, but I'm considering trying tea/coffee dying to get a tan colour.

I'll let you know how that goes, if it goes (and if you have any advice, I'm all ears!).

Here's a few pictures of my progress on Rosebuds :) It was a very fun stitch and worked up quickly! Besides the Specialty Stitches, the rest is all in whole cross-stitches, and although there are a lot of colour changes in the flowers you usually have at least a two or three stitch block so it's not like working confetti (thankfully!).

The pattern called for two colours of beads by a company called SJ, which I think is SJ Designs. According to the site, they carry Japanese imports, and the colour numbers no longer match those given in the chart. One was a "White Pearl" and the other was a "Rose Blush", which is basically a pink pearl finish from what I can tell.

While I had equivalents in Mill Hill Beads, the white didn't show up against my fabric so I made some substitutions that - although I wasn't sure of at first - I'm now very happy with! The colours I chose were MH #02016 (Green: Crystal Mint) in place of the White Pearl, and MH #02024 (Purple: Heather Mauve) for the Rose Blush :)

The pattern states to attach the beads with a half cross-stitch using a colour to match the background, in this case white. That's what I'd usually do too. But since I was substituting iridescent transparent beads for opaque ones, the white just washed them out. Both colours were not-quite matches to my floss, as they were too pale.

So I used the dominant floss colour to attach each bead (in this case, 503 with the Crystal Mint, and 316 with the Heather Mauve) which showed through the glass enough that the beads then matched the floss near-perfectly ;) Neat trick, hey?!

You can see the beads with the threads through the holes in the top photo, and how the beads look from the front in the bottom photo. I also used a whole cross-stitch for bead attachment, as I normally do, but I made the stitch over only one thread of the Evenweave (just below the bead) so that the floss didn't show up on the white. I'll have to remember that in future ;) The beading around the Diamond Eyelet in the center is different that way - squarish instead of aslant - but I was okay with that.

Here's how Rosebuds look before and after the beading:

When I was first planning the project, I thought about leaving off the beads entirely (since I didn't realize using the floss colours would make the match so good!), but I'm very glad that I changed my mind because I think the embellishment adds a lot to the design. In fact, beading seems to be a design characteristic of Just Nan patterns, and if Rosebuds is any indication, the sparkle makes them lots of fun to stitch ;)

I'll leave you with a close-up of the lovely heart-shaped Celtic Knot in the center:

The Just Nan Stitch Along (SAL) 2014 is hosted by Zeb at Keep Calm and Cross-Stitch! Anyone can join at any time, including non-bloggers :) Come stitch with us!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SFS SAL for January - Month #1!

Thank you all so much for your wonderfully kind Christmas wishes!!! I had a lovely holiday with my family, and am happy to be back to blogging just in time for the first month of the Stitch From Stash SAL (Stitch Along) at Epic Stitching :)

This post is actually a little backwards, since the project I was working on this month is for the Just Nan SAL at Keep Calm and Cross Stitch. I intended to combine both SAL posts today, but since I'm running short of time I'll just cover SFS tonight.

Stitch From Stash SAL #1: Spontaneous Stash!

The thing I love most about the SFS challenge is that it is flexible and encourages you to set personal goals to fit your own stitching and spending style! Indeed, I'm really looking forward to seeing the different ways that other stitchers chose to interpret the SAL in the coming months ;) For me, it's not actually about the budget (!!!).

In all honestly, I have seldom spent more than $25 a month on stitching supplies, and I'm not much tempted by all the lovely new patterns because I don't shop online and local availability is slim to none. That helps a lot! But I do love to go "treasure hunting" (thrifting) for stitchy magazines and supplies, and for fine crochet and other crafty supplies too, and so I mostly purchase things spontaneously when I find them.

My other usual purchases are specific things needed for a project - skeins of thread, etc. - which are usually small. So the ability to have spending money each month is essential for me, but I don't think I'll have any trouble keeping below the yearly total of $350. My challenge to myself is not to limit stash acquisition - as I know it is for many stitchers, understandably (if I was an internet shopper, I'd be broke!) - but to use what I already have, especially the "treasures" that I hoard ;)

But back to the Spontaneous Stashing, LOL - I made two lots of purchases this month, one planned for near-future projects the other unplanned and just for fun:

This was my planned purchase, a pack of 28-count white Evenweave by US company M.C.G. Textiles. This is where the backwards part comes in - I used this fabric (which I purchased last month before the SAL) for my Just Nan SAL project this month, and loved it so much that I immediately went out and bought another pack :) It retails at Michaels for $9.99, but I used a 40% coupon so it came in at about $6.00, plus tax.

I'll be putting together a little review in my JN SAL post, for anyone who's interested!

And while I was waiting for the check-out in Michaels, I spotted all the calendars and planners on deep discount, so I picked up this cute one to plan out my SALs (so this last-minute thing doesn't happen again LOL) and stitchy goals for the year for the grand sum of 30 cents ;)

The other items I bought were found at my favourite dollar store, a local branch that is unique because it has a lot of brand-name clearance and end-of-the-line products.

I was thrilled to discover these Singer Transfer Fabric Crayons, that are meant to be permanently ironed-on to cotton fabrics. I bought two packs - one to experiment with, and one to use - and a special pencil sharpener for them since I know from experience with regular crayons that the soft wax sticks to the sharpener blades, and I imagine the permanent pigment might be hard to remove.

Each pack of fabric crayons was $1.50, and the double-hole pencil sharpener - despite the label - was only $1.00!

I also picked up this neat white pencil for drawing on dark fabrics for $1.00 and two packs of binder rings - which I use to hold working floss tags for my projects - for another $2.00 (at $1.00 a piece). These come in and out of stock at the dollar store and they hadn't been in for a while, so I took the chance to snap up two ;)

My Monthly Total for January: was $15.30, plus tax = $19.12, leaving me $5.88 to bank for next month.

Woo - one minute left, I need to hurry this up LOL! That's it for me for now, I'll be back in a few days with the JN SAL post :) Happy Saving on Stash everyone!

UPDATE: Whoopsies! I totally misread the deadline date as *before* the 28th of each month, when it's actually by the end of the day :) Definitely going to have to bust out my new little planner for next month LOL!

And if that wasn't embarrassing enough, I just released that I totally goofed on my figures too :( When I wrote this post, I was in a bit of a hurry (just a little wee bit mind, ha!) and I couldn't find my receipt for Michaels while my dollar store craft buys were mixed up with personal buys and very vaguely identified on the bill.

The amounts are right, but I forgot to calculate the tax on both lots separately. Also, I had the tax rate wrong *is mortified*. For anyone else living in Canada, this official GST/HST Rate Chart is extremely helpful :) So my new numbers are: $6.30 + 13% tax = $7.11 for my fabric and planner, and $7.00 + 13% sales tax = $7.91 for my dollar store goodies. Grand total = $15.02, so my bankable amount for next month actually increases (yay!!!) to $9.98. At least something good came from this mistake!

So, a valuable lesson learned this month. I should've saved my receipt from one purchase and checked in my stitchy items separately on another purchase. Now, these are totally common sense things that I've done before, but I forgot and maybe you might too, so I hope this helps! I'm starting to think that the road to SABLE (Stash Beyond Life Expectancy) is paved with Sales and Bargains LOL ;)