Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A visit to Betty Stitchkit

Since I finished the Tatty Teddy project, I’ve been working on four more projects, but am currently unable to say too much about them, as they are all being stitched as gifts.

Two of the items are from a pattern I ordered from the Arts and Designs website, and the other two items are kits that were magazine freebies.

At least one of the items needs to be backed with green felt, and I realised that the piece I’d purchased from Betty Stitchkit last week wasn’t going to be large enough.

Today, my mother took me back to Betty Stitchkit, so that I could buy a larger piece of green felt, and some more DMC thread. I had taken along the piece of felt I had purchased last week, in order to ensure that I purchased a larger piece in the same shade of green.

The DMC thread was 60p, and the large piece of felt (which is plenty big enough) was £3.45, but Sharon (the owner of the shop) said I could have it for £3. She then said that if I wanted to, I could return the original piece of felt. Instead of paying a total of £4.05, I ended up paying £3.10, so left the shop feeling very happy.

My mother had opted to wait for me in the car, and although I had told her that I wouldn’t be long, she was somewhat taken aback when I returned to the car after a matter of minutes. I love visiting Betty Stitchkit, as there are so many items to browse. Today’s visit will go down in history, as it’s the first time that I’ve resisted the temptation to get carried away, and treat myself to a carrier bag full of goodies.  After a previous visit, my dad had commented that it’s not the sort of shop I should visit frequently, because there are far too many items I like and want to buy.

Aside from the usual things, such as thread, felt, and cross-stitch kits, I have recently treated myself to a few must-have goodies. Having previously used Siesta Interlocking Bar Frames, I thought I would give their No-Sew Roller Frames a try. I now have a “mini” No-Sew Roller Frame kit, which includes a pair of 6” rollers, 9” rollers, and 6” side bars. It’s perfect for small projects such as bookmarks, bell pulls, and cards. In addition, I have a kit with 12” rollers, and 9” side bars. Over the years, I have tried various frames and hoops, and can honestly say that the Siesta No-Sew Roller Frames are the best I’ve used to date. They are easy to assemble, do an excellent job of keeping the fabric taut, and I would recommend them to any stitcher. In addition, all one requires to attach the fabric to the rollers is masking tape. What I would really like to invest in at some point, is a kit that will enable me to convert my Siesta No-Sew Roller Frames into a lap stand.
Bexfield Cushion-Soft 8½" Multi-Use Scissors

Siesta No-Sew Roller Frame

Monday, 14 February 2011

Tatty Teddy Pins and Needles update

I finally managed to complete the Tatty Teddy project last week, which was an immense relief. To be honest, I seriously don’t think I would have had the patience to hang in there and see it through to the end, if it hadn’t been for a pep talk, or should I say words of encouragement, which I received from a friend.

At around the same time that I commenced work on my Tatty Teddy project, a friend had also started work on a Tatty Teddy project. Although our projects were different, we both found the patterns rather difficult to follow and the designs a nightmare to stitch. I can’t speak for my friend, but because we were experiencing similar problems and frustrations, I found it strangely motivating. I don’t know if this will make sense, but I felt that if I abandoned my project, I’d be letting my friend down, as well as myself.

Because the pattern proved hard to follow (particularly the backstitching), there were some backstitches that I failed to add. I’m not too concerned though, as it’s impossible to tell.

Tatty Teddy - Pins and Needles

After completing my Tatty Teddy project, I decided that my next project should be something quick and easy to stitch, so opted for a Somebunny To Love card kit, which I’d received with an old issue of Cross Stitch Card Shop magazine.

Although I am pleased with the finished result, I have to confess that it’s not my cup of tea. I like the design, but consider the shades used to be far too insipid for my liking. However, I feel the card would be ideal as a birthday card or gift tag for a young girl.
Somebunny To Love

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Whimsical World of Thomas Joseph - Hand Wash Only

Before I continue, there’s a tale I feel I simply must share. A few years ago, my parents had returned from a holiday and given me a Thomas Joseph fridge magnet (I collect fridge magnets), bearing the Hand Wash Only design. 

Thomas Joseph - Hand Wash Only

Fast-forward to Christmas 2010, when I received a Thomas Joseph cross-stitch kit from my gran, for the same design. My gran had known nothing about the fridge magnet, and although my mother had been involved in helping to wrap the cross-stitch kit, she had played no other part. In fact, because it had been some years since the fridge magnet had been purchased, she had long since forgotten about it.

Anyway, I was absolutely thrilled with the kit, and it was an absolute pleasure to stitch, unlike the Tatty Teddy kit that I’m still battling with. The design was stitched with DMC threads (code numbers were supplied), which proved handy when I ran out of some of the threads supplied with the kit.

Thomas Joseph - Hand Wash Only

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Losing my scissors

When I was at secondary school, I remember having a plastic key coil, with a belt trigger hook, like the ones shown in the image below.

During recent days, I‘ve been thinking that perhaps I should invest in one for my needlecraft scissors, as I seem to have developed a habit of misplacing them. The other option is to invest in a long chain (as in jewellery), which my scissors can be suspended from.

For example, late yesterday afternoon, I had taken my scissors from the lounge and into the kitchen. I was about to go out, and was in something of a rush, so instead of putting the scissors back in the lounge (where I would see them), I had put them in a drawer where I keep my kitchen scissors, without thinking.

Several hours later, when I needed to use the scissors again, I drove myself potty trying to remember where I had put them. It was a good 12 hours later when I eventually located them.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Textile Heritage Daffodils Bookmark Kit

Several weeks ago, I asked my mother if she would be willing to take me to Betty Stitchkit. It was her first visit to the shop, as well as mine.

While I was searching for what I wanted, my mother spent time browsing around the shop, and pointing out various things she liked. I should explain that my mother’s not a cross-stitcher, but does have an appreciation of arts and crafts.

Dotted around the walls of the shop were large cross-stitched pictures (for display purposes). My mother fell in love with a picture from the Venice Palazzo collection, by the designer Michael Powell.

I told my mother that if she was willing to foot the bill for the kit, and to have it framed, I would stitch it for her. However, I then went on to add that it would probably take me several months to stitch. My mother politely declined my offer, although for the life of me, I can’t think why.

Anyway, my mother had stopped to look at some bookmark kits, so I asked her if she would like to choose one that she liked, seeing as she had been good enough to act as a glorified chauffeur. She opted for a Textile Heritage Daffodils Bookmark kit, and this is the finished result.

Textile Heritage Daffodils Bookmark

Unlike the Dimensions Gold Petites Elegant Bookmarks kit, the Textile Heritage Daffodils Bookmark kit included a ready-made tassel, and felt backing.

Adding the tassel initially proved to be a little tricky. The instructions were as follows:

No matter how hard I tried, I could not pull the tassel loop through the fabric, so it was a matter of having to use my initiative and find something that would gently widen the hole for the tassel loop. I ended up using a metal skewer, and thankfully it did the trick.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Dimensions Gold Collection Petites - Elegant Bookmarks

Up until recently, I had generally tended to follow cross-stitch patterns in stitching magazines. However, a few weeks ago I was somewhat naughty and placed an order for a quantity of cross-stitch kits with Sew and So.

One of the items I ordered was a Dimensions Gold Petites Elegant Bookmarks kit.

Unfortunately, I failed to read what the kit included. It wasn’t until I received delivery of it that I realised with horror that I would need to make my own bookmark tassels, using thread supplied with the kit. As I had never previously tried my hand at making tassels, I found myself filled with trepidation. In addition, I also discovered that I would need to supply my own backing fabric for the bookmarks.

Both bookmarks were stitched on one piece of 14-count ivory Aida. I started with the lily bookmark, which proved to be a labour of love, due to the quantity of French knots required. I then stitched the vine bookmark, which was thankfully a lot easier. In addition, I learnt a new stitch (Turkey Work), which I’d never heard of, but looks rather effective.

Making the tassels was nowhere near as horrendous as I’d feared, so it proved to be a rather enjoyable challenge. The instructions stated that I had to sew the charms supplied with the kit to the bookmarks, and then tack each tassel to a loop on the charms. At this point, things went rather pearshaped.

When I had initially gone through the kit, I had placed the bag containing the charms on my coffee table, but when I went to retrieve them, they were nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, I think the bag of charms had been knocked off the table, and into the bin below (which had since been emptied). I searched on the internet to see if I could find the exact same charms, or a suitable alternative, but was unsuccessful. In hindsight, I suppose I could have contacted Dimensions, but stubborn pride got the better of me. I decided the only option left was to attach the tassels to the bookmarks, minus the charms. It’s a shame, as in my opinion it’s the charms that add the finishing touch.

The pattern for the bookmarks included folding lines and cutting lines. It wasn’t until after I’d cut around the bookmarks that I realised that there was very little excess Aida left to play with, especially at the top and bottom of the bookmarks.

As a result of the problems I encountered, the finished bookmarks were not as good as they should have been.

Elegant Bookmark - Lily

Elegant Bookmark - Vine

Derwentwater Designs - Dragonfly Birthday

When I visited Betty Stitchkit a few weeks ago, I was drawn to a birthday card cross-stitch kit (Dragonfly Birthday) by Derwentwater Designs. The stitched area struck me as being incredibly simple, yet highly effective.

As I studied the display picture, I found myself thinking that it might be nice to embellish the eyes and bodies of the dragonflies with seed beads. I opted for Mill Hill Antique Glass Beads, shade number 03047, which proved to be an excellent choice.

It’s not that easy to see on the picture below, but in my opinion, the seed beads really do add the wow factor.

Tatty Teddy Pins and Needles

I’m currently working on a Tatty Teddy counted cross-stitch kit (TT102 Pins and Needles), which I had purchased several weeks ago, from Betty Stitchkit in Quarry Bank.

I wouldn’t class myself as a Tatty Teddy fan, but when I saw the display picture, it seemed quite apt. I’m a mum; I stitch, and often feel like I’ve seen better days.
TT102 Pins and Needles

When I studied the pattern, I will admit that I felt somewhat overwhelmed. There were two large sheets of paper displaying the pattern for the cross-stitches and half-stitches, and on the reverse was the pattern for the backstitching, which I didn’t pay much attention to.

All was going well until it came time to commence the backstitching. I now feel seriously tempted to throw the towel in and abandon the project. The words ‘nightmare’, ‘torture’, and ‘Hellish’ spring to mind. I used to think fractional stitches were a hassle, but in comparison, they now seem relatively easy.
Part of the pattern

I can honestly say that the backstitching for this picture has really put me off wanting to stitch any other Tatty Teddy designs.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

My First Blog

This isn’t my first attempt at blogging, but it is my first attempt at blogging on this site. I can see that it’s going to take me a while to familiarise myself with the site, and the various tips and tricks available.

During my early twenties, I developed a keen interest in cross-stitch, but unfortunately experienced a mental block a few years ago, part-way through a project. Talk about lousy timing! As I hadn’t expected my mental block to last for as long as it had, I’d refused to store my project and numerous threads away. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t one of my better ideas, seeing as everything got covered in dust and plenty of it too.

When a friend decided to try her hand at cross-stitch in December 2010, I found myself feeling inspired and motivated again. I’d got the stitching bug back, and it felt GREAT! To be honest, the timing couldn’t have been better considering that one of the Christmas presents I received happened to be a cross-stitch kit.

Anyway, the reason why I’ve set up this blog is to keep an online record of my stitching projects and achievements, which family, friends, and maybe even complete strangers, can view too.