Saturday, 29 October 2011

Festive Blackwork

Towards the end of September, I published a post with the title Cross-stitch Software Evaluation, which had included several images. Well, after publishing that post, I decided to go ahead and stitch some of those festive-themed designs, but before my stitching could commence, I was required to have S.E.X. (a stash enhancing experience). Sorry folks, but that stitchy acronym never fails to amuse me!

All the designs you see featured below were stitched on 18-count Aida, using metallic thread. The cards I used measure 144mm x 144mm, and the dimension of the aperture is 96mm x 96mm. I purchased a bulk quantity of the cards from Craft Creations several years ago, so that was one thing less to worry about when I had S.E.X. Having checked the website, they are still available for purchase, along with envelopes, clear card bags, and plain insert sheets. Craft Creations do stock printed inserts sheets, although not for the size of cards I used. However, it’s not that difficult to turn a plain insert sheet into a printed insert sheet, bearing a greeting of your choice, but I’ll explain more about this later. Finally, the cards were embellished with peel-off stickers that had also been purchased from Craft Creations.

Christmas Bauble
This was the first design I stitched, using one strand each of DMC E310 (black) and E3852 (gold).

Christmas Bauble
This was stitched with one strand each of DMC E321 (red) and E3852 (gold).

Christmas Bell
On the chart I followed for this design, the clapper (the bulbous part at the bottom of the bell) hadn’t been filled, nor had the bell’s hook, and I personally felt the design would look so much better if they were. I used one strand of DMC E3852 (gold) for the Blackwork and the cross-stitches.

Christmas Present
I have to confess that I found this design to be an absolute nightmare to stitch. The ribbon on the chart I followed hadn’t been filled, but I opted to fill it because I really wanted it to stand out. For the present, I used one strand of DMC E3852 (gold), and E321 (red) for the ribbon. I should add that I used two strands to outline the ribbon.
Christmas Stocking
When one looks at a Christmas stocking, furry fabric is often used for the trim at the top. I wanted to try to replicate that look when I stitched this design, so used two strands to outline the trim. The rest of the stocking was stitched with one strand of DMC E3852 (gold), and E321 (red).
Christmas Tree
The tree was stitched with one strand of DMC E699 (green). On the chart I followed, the trunk had been stitched using the same colour that had been used for the tree. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a tree with a green trunk! As the DMC range does not include metallic brown, it was a matter of searching for a brand that did. Eventually, I took a gamble and placed an order for Madeira Metallic No.4, colour 4029. This is the first time that I’ve used Madeira, and separating the strands was quite a challenge. However, the shade is perfect, so the gamble paid off.
Christmas Wreath
On the chart for this design, all the stitching for the wreath (not the ribbon) was green, and I found myself thinking, “But one can’t have a Christmas wreath without berries!”  I used one strand of DMC E699 (green) for the wreath, and one strand of E321 (red) for the ribbon. As for the all-important berries, I used Mill Hill glass seed beads (shade 02013).
There are some more festive-themed items that I’ve stitched, but before they can be made up into cards, they will all need to be washed. This is something I prefer to do in bulk, and as there are more items I would like to stitch, I’m afraid it will be a matter of waiting and watching this space.
Printed insert sheets
Unless you have the patience to use whatever tools are at your disposal to cut a quantity of paper to size, I would advise using pre-cut insert sheets. At the time of writing this, Craft Creations are charging £0.07 per printed sheet measuring 88 x 114mm, and £0.03 per plain sheet, meaning that it’s more economical to purchase the plain insert sheets.
When printing on to plain insert sheets, I prefer to use Microsoft Word. The first step is to change the paper size to Custom size, by accessing Page Setup from the File menu. In this instance, the dimensions of my insert sheet (for a 144mm x 144mm card) are 138mm (height) x 276mm (width). After entering the dimensions (in centimetres), I then switch to the Margins tab. Now, I don’t want to add any text to the left-hand side of the insert sheet, and I know that I’d like a margin of 1.5cm around the right-hand side of the sheet. In order to set the left-hand margin, the width of the insert sheet (27.6cm) is halved (13.8cm), and then added to 1.5cm (15.3cm). In addition, the orientation needs to be changed to Landscape.
The next step is to add the text, and I prefer to do this by entering it into a Text Box, simply because it’s easier to reposition. By the way, you will need to ensure your view is set to Print Layout before inserting the Text Box. By default, Word will add a black border around the text box, but it’s easy enough to get rid of. All you need to do is right-click the Text Box and then select the option to Format Text Box. From the Colors and Lines tab, select the drop-down menu for the line colour, and choose No Line.
I hope I’ve explained the above clearly, but in the event that I haven’t, please let me know and I’ll see if I can put together a visual tutorial.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Introducing Laurie

I’ve been intending to post this for a while, so I hope I can be forgiven for the delay.

Several weeks ago, my mother unsubtly hinted that she was sure my gran would like to see my Blackwork, and so I decided to stitch Laurie, by designer Jeanne Dansby, over at Byrd’sNest.
Laurie was stitched on 14-count Aida. I used DMC shade E3852 for the gold outline, and DMC shades E703 (green) and 4018 (pink) for the filling stitches. The card was one that I just happened to have in my stash, and it’s down to pure luck that the colour of it happens to work so well with Laurie. The piece of batting I placed behind the Aida could have done with being fractionally larger, and because of this, I feel it spoils the overall look of the card. It’s only been during this past year that I’ve started to use batting, and in my opinion, cutting it so that it is exactly the right size, is definitely an art within itself.

Getting musical

When I was at high school, there was a guy in my year that could often be found playing the drums in the school’s music room. Since then, his musical abilities have gone on to include (amongst other things) song writing. Earlier this year, my acquaintance entered a YouBloom song writing competition, which is judged by a panel of industry experts (including Sir Bob Geldof).

The current state of play is that my acquaintance has done well enough to become a semi-finalist (which I am absolutely thrilled about), and has been required to make a supporting music video.

When I listened to the song for the first time, I was immediately hooked, and found myself playing the song over and over again. Although I have an eclectic taste in music, I am quite choosy about what I like and dislike, and it’s not often that I hear a song that I feel compelled to listen to repeatedly. I consider the lyrics to be catchy, along with the music. Possibly because of my acquaintance’s musical influences, it feels familiar (in a good way), as though it’s a classic that was always meant to be, if that makes sense.

Anyway, if you like the song as much as I do, I’m sure my acquaintance would be delighted if you were to show your support by sharing the link to his video.