Saturday, April 26, 2014

SFS Month #4 - A Special Easter Egg!

Although Easter has come and gone and this post is a bit late, I wanted to share my second project for this month. I was working on it feverishly to get it posted up for the Holiday weekend, but this design is one of those that ended up going off in an entirely different direction to what I was imagining. Thankfully, despite all the twists and turns it took and the merry chase it led me on, I do like it and hope you will too!

(This story is a little long, so if you'd just like to see the SFS info, it's right at the end).

When I first signed up for SFS, I decided that my personal goal would be aimed not towards reducing spending as such but towards actually *stitching* from my stash. That hasn't worked out so far (for happy reasons!), but this project fits that goal :)

From the 2011 Christmas Ornament issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine, this egg is "Christmas My Way", by Keslyn's Designs. You can see a version of the original stitched up at this blog. It's full of pretty Specialty Stitches that the designer calls "Sym-Stitches", based on Symmography, or "String Art" (like this lovely example).

Way back when the issue first came out, I bought it just for this little egg pattern, thinking it would look beautiful in soft pastel colours for Easter :) So I set about putting together such a colour palette, and choose these pretty colours:

From top to bottom on the stack, and left to right on the ring: 3824 (peach), 776 (pink), 744 (yellow), 955 (green), 157 (blue) and 210 (purple). Then I remembered that I had used those pink and yellow shades in my Chicken Scratch Heart, so I added in the pretty DMC Colour Variations in 4095 from that project:

I thought it would pull all the different coloured bands together, and it did look really nice up close. But it completely faded away even at arm's length, and I was hoping for this to be a wall ornament for seasonal display. So after much deliberation, I came to the unfortunate conclusion that they were all too light.

So I went back to my floss boxes and played around with combinations. It took me days to decide! Sounds ridiculous, I know. Usually playing with colours and pulling flosses is great fun for me, but I was getting really frustrated. I tried other variegated threads, with complimentary colours. Darker versions of the pastels. Even metallics!

Finally, I kept coming back to this beautiful bright turquoise, and this happened:

Easter Brights! From top to bottom on the stack, and left to right on the ring: 209 (purple), 956 (pink), 703 (green), 743 (yellow) and 3846 (turquoise). And when these colours finally came together, I actually wondered why, exactly, I was thinking of Easter as pastels? New grass green, crocus purple, fluffly chick fits!

Special Easter Variation of of "Christmas My Way" by Keslyn's Designs

Here's my finished Egg! Now, this is the first time I've stitched over one on 28 count Evenweave (by M.C.G. Textiles). I really missed the easy counting of Aida blocks, and I had some trouble with the stitch spacing initially, especially the big diamonds on the center line. I ended up taking out almost as many stitches as I put in ;) But by then I was really enjoying the colours and the different stitches, so I kept going.

Here is the Easter Egg before and after beading:

Of course, I did change a few things along the way :) I replaced the second row from the top with Diamond Eyelets, to echo the Half Eyelets on the center band border. The original stitch was very heavy and took away from the Rhodes Hearts directly below it. I also added some more rays on the topmost element to make it fuller, and made some minor adjustments to the Stand at the bottom to fit in all the colours!

But my favourite bit of Spontaneous Stitching is the little polka dots in the center band of the Egg, and the one in the center of the Stand. These are Rhodes Octagons, but at the time I was just fiddling around with thread and liked the shape!

After I added the polka dots, I almost left the beads off altogether! The original calls for Mill Hill Petites in Red, so I had pulled my trusty favourite Mill Hill metallic golds instead to work with this palette. I was thinking of using a regular Seed Bead in each center of the Diamonds, and the Petites everywhere else. I actually stitched a few on, but it really drew the attention away from the Specialty Stitches, so that was out.

Finally, I remembered some pretty little crystals I had left from another project and discovered that they fit the spaces in the centers of the Diamonds perfectly! Happily serendipitous :) They are 4mm faceted Rounds, in AB (Aurora Borealis) finish - that pretty rainbow shine look - from Jolee's Jewels, which is now Create Your Style with Swarovski Elements. The Mill Hills are regular size, #00161, in clear AB.

Since they are mostly translucent, it's hard to see where I added them all!

The beading ended up being my favourite element of my Easter Egg, and it is SO hard to capture all the sparkle! Nothing shines like Swarovski, and in full sun the three center crystals transform into tiny prisms, letting off rainbow flashes in the light :)

My SFS for April, Month #4: Finishing Supplies

As I mentioned, my plan is to turn this little Egg into a padded wall ornament to hang up and enjoy every Easter Season :) After my first project this month, my Chicken Scratch Easter Egg, this the only other thing I've stitched for Easter.

So I didn't have any Easter or Springy prints to use as backing fabric. Honestly, although I was secretly hoping for a small eggy print, I was resigned to settling for plain coordinating cotton at the most. And that eggy print I was trying hard not to want would have to be REALLY small - the Easter Egg turned out very little indeed:

The stitched motif is only roughly 1 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches tall! So imagine my surprise and utter delight when The Great Stitchy Karma Gods smiled upon me and granted me this most wonderful gift:

Eggy fabric! With Springy Flowers!! And Little Chicks!!! And Bunnies!!!! WITH FLUFFLY, FLOOMFY TAILS!!!!! *Ahem* I may still be a little bit excited :)

Can you blame me? Easter Joy! Every time I pull this fabric out to peek at it, I can't help but smile. And there was lovely turquoise Grosgrain ribbon to match too!

My SFS Total: I bought the smallest cut off the bolt, .02 of a meter, for $2.99, and paid $2.20 for 2 meters of ribbon. With tax, my spending totaled $6.57 CA. That leaves me with $18.43 from this month's $25 allowance, and $58.52 in the Bank.

Truly, my family and I had a wonderfully blessed Easter Holiday, and I hope you and yours did as well :) Even though I was disappointed that I didn't Final Finish this little ornament in time, I do intend to try to get it done now so we can enjoy it next year!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Scratchin' Eggstravaganza: Easter Egg!

New FREE Pattern - Chicken Scratch Easter Egg!!!
(PDF. Pattern via Dropbox - need Adobe Reader? Get it for free!)

Oh, I'm so excited to share this with you!!! You ever have ideas that don't work out? Most of mine don't, but every now and again they do. Which is great. But you know what's absolutely wonderful?! When they completely exceed your expectations, like this little Easter Egg did! And I had so much fun stitching it up that I had to share :)

Now, I know it's a little late in the game. Easter is only next weekend (?!). I have no idea how that happened, but that's what I realized today. But this project really is super quick to stitch and finish, and can easily be completed in an afternoon or two. It took me three, but I was designing (and re-designing, LOL) as I went along!

The materials - 11 count white Aida, a size 20 tapestry needle and DMC Prism Craft Thread - are the same as I used for my Chicken Scratch Sampler. And the finishing technique - the Chain Stitch and Whip Stitch Edging - and ornament assembly are the same as my Blackwork Poinsettia Christmas Ornament (with photo tutorial).

Along with the patterns for the Front of the Easter Egg - with the Floral Medallion (which I first designed in red as a Poinsettia for family ornaments this Christmas) - and the Back with the "Happy Easter!" greeting - I've included a few photo tutorials for some of the stitches and other information that I hope will be useful :)

Next to the Flower, I'm happiest with my "Egg Stitch" - an elongated version of the traditional Circle Stitch that ended up looking like a nice little row of mini eggs:

As you can see, it follows exactly the same movements as the Circle Stitch, it's the adjustment to the foundation stitches that makes it oval. The completed row is in the middle. I had lots of fun working each one in different colours!

My stitching is a little wonky in the progress pictures because I was working it in hand instead of a hoop. My Aida cloth was a looser weave and the stitches pulled it badly. It's okay though because it all worked out with some gentle stretching and a little rest, and it actually made the woven stitches - like the eggs - so much easier:

As you can see, I could bend the fabric and make the foundation stitches stand off from the fabric a little bit so it was super fast to slip the weaving thread under. So if it happens to you, worry not ;) I hope this Easter Egg will entice you to try Scratchin', and inspire some new variations! Here's a close-up of the edging:

I think I'm getting a little better at this everytime I try it, and it's really fun with the Craft Thread because you don't have to worry about not catching all the strands of floss. I like including a seasonal Sentiment, and it helps me actually final-finish things faster because I'm not waiting to find the perfect backing fabric and trims :)

Speaking of Chicken Scratch, Mary Corbet at Needle N' Thread recently posted her own floral variation on gingham, and may be offering some patterns soon.

And speaking of Easter, Jo at Serendipitious Stitching is having her wonderful Easter Blog Hop again this year! Click this very handsome Mr. Bunny for more info:

I was hoping to sign up to be a Hop Host, but I think I've run out of time for this year. The Chicken Scratch Easter Egg is actually the first thing I've ever stitched for that holiday though, so I'm doing pretty good :) I'm looking forward to Hopping along the Bunny Trail for the Mystery Phrase on Easter! Jo's Hops are always great fun.

While you're visiting, why not congratulate Jo on three great years of blogging and enter to win a fabulous yet-to-be-final-finished Alice in Wonderland gift?!

As for me, I wish you a Wonderful Spring and a Very Happy Easter!

P.S. I'm entering this project at Dream A Little Bigger's Link Party:

Dream a Little Bigger

P.P.S. I just got the most wonderfully amazing news!! I'm trying to catch up with my blog feed this weekend, and to my absolute astonishment and delight, I discovered my Chicken Scratch Sampler featured on the DMC Threads website!!! *so excited*

The article was published yesterday and features "Creative Samplers" - there are three other beautiful and inspiring projects profiled that are well worth seeing :) 

Here's a little preview:

Thanks very much to Emma for the feature, and to all ES readers! It is so great to see that there is new interest in Chicken Scratch, and I hope it comes back in a BIG way ;)