Sunday, 19 May 2013

Blackwork Spring Garden SAL & Other News

ES Blackwork Spring Garden SAL

For quite some time, my good friend Aurelia over at Eglantine Stitchery has been desperate to host a SAL (Stitch Along). We had discussed the idea a couple of years back with a mutual friend, but with one thing and another it never got off the ground. Over a month ago, Aurelia broached the subject again with me and Karen (of Karen’s ColourfulCreations), which we both expressed interest in. Having been given the green light so to speak, Aurelia came up with an idea for a design.

As the advertisement below states, the SAL will run from Monday 20th May to Thursday 20th June. If you would like to participate, you will need to let Aurelia know so that she can e-mail the chart (PDF) to you. You can read about the SAL in more detail here.

In addition to providing a colour chart for the image that appears in the SAL advertisement, Aurelia has kindly taken the time to include a black and white chart, and a custom colour version. The PDF is extremely well-presented and user-friendly, and includes a step-by-step speciality stitch guide.

Delphiniums Update
Thanks to my mother who was issued with strict instructions to take some photographs during a recent visit to see my gran, I am now (after all these months) finally able to show off Delphiniums.

Delphiniums by Derwentwater Designs

Delphiniums by Derwentwater Designs

Originally, there was a mount, and the frame was larger too; sadly too large for the area where my gran wanted to hang it. An aunty took it to a framers to ask if it was possible to have the mount removed and the size of the frame reduced. She was told it would be possible if the frame had been well-made, but would most likely break if it had been poorly-made. As the quality of the frame’s construction got the thumbs up, it just goes to prove that Mark at Betty Stitchkit is an extremely skilled craftsman (not that I had ever doubted his abilities). It’s a good set up they have at Betty Stitchkit. Sharon (Mark’s wife) stitches the cross-stitch kits sold in the shop, which Mark frames and displays. Customers see the stitched pictures, buy the kits, and then go back to have them framed. Therefore, it’s in Mark’s interest to do a sterling job with the framing, in order to keep the customers coming back.

More Card-Making Goodies
During recent weeks I have spoilt myself rotten with card-making treats. For years I had been after a paper trimmer/guillotine, as I had been using a DIY craft knife, metal ruler and cutting mat to trim paper and card, which often proved to be a chore. After looking on the Ryman website, I spotted this; a Texet A4 laminator and trimmer, with 50 laminating pouches (A4, A5, A6, and credit card size) for £25.99. I had also wanted a laminator, although it had been less of a priority. £25.99 struck me as a reasonable price, so I ordered the set, which has already had a lot of use.

The trimmer has three blades; straight cut, wave cut, and crease cut. Having experimented with all three, I can’t realistically envisage a need for me to use the crease cut blade. The laminator has been used to laminate my pricking charts, which means that if I stitch a design more than once I can re-use the pricking chart, as opposed to printing off a new copy.

There is a garden centre (Webbs ofWychbold) that has been deemed The Midlands’ premier garden centre, which incorporates a Hobbycraft store, and my mother had asked me if I’d like to check it out. Approximately three weeks ago, I had my very first outing to Webbs ofWychbold to visit the Hobbycraft store. It’s a vast place, with a seriously impressive array of items, covering just about everything related to arts and crafts. My mother hadn’t expected me to buy anything, but to simply browse and find inspiration for future card-making projects. As we walked around the store I knew damn well that I wasn’t going to leave empty-handed, given that I was surrounded by so many wonderful goodies. It was as though every item that caught my eye was crying out, “Buy me! Buy me!” By the time we had walked around the entire store, the individual pleas had turned into a deafening chorus, and I don’t mind admitting that I felt completely overwhelmed. Goodness knows how, but I managed to reign myself in, and just bought a few items for a project I wanted to get started on.

That evening, I had e-mailed my mother to thank her for taking me, and had said I would really like to go back to have another look at the seed beads and bugle beads. Knowing how busy my mother’s schedule can be, I had been thinking some time within the next few weeks. To my surprise, she e-mailed back asking if I wanted to go the following day! My feet were still recovering from walking up and down so many aisles (some more than once), and I wanted time to have a good think about exactly what I wanted to get, so I suggested leaving it until the following week.

During my return visit to Hobbycraft at Webbs of Wychbold, I was drawn to some glittery felt squares. I didn’t buy any, as at the time I couldn’t think of what I could use them for, but I commented to my mother that I wanted to decorate my walls, ceilings, and upholstery with them! It really was like love at first sight, as I stood rooted to the spot admiring the glittery gorgeousness of the felt squares. For hours afterwards, I kept thinking about them, how badly I wanted them, and how I could find a use for them. Suddenly, the light bulb in my head turned on, and in the words of the Blackadder character Baldric, I had a cunning plan. Well, not so much cunning, but certainly a plan. The wonderfully sparkly felt squares would be the perfect backing for bookmarks given as Christmas presents. Goodness knows why I hadn’t thought of it earlier!

Since deciding to try my hand at stitching directly on to card, I’ve built up a rather lovely collection of seed beads and bugle beads. Initially, I had been following the advice on the StitchingCards website to the letter, and had been scouring the internet to find size 10 silver-lined seed beads in the colours I wanted. I had managed to order some silver-lined red seed beads and emerald seed beads by Peak Dale from Fred Aldous, and whilst they really do look lovely, their depth varies greatly. This can be rather noticeable if working on a heavily-beaded design like the one below.

Bead Medallion Regal - Design Copyright ©

Wedding Acceptance Card
Several weeks ago, I received the official wedding invitation from my friends who are getting married this summer. Initially, I had planned to send a letter confirming my attendance, but because I considered the invitation to be absolutely gorgeous, I felt I needed to make more of an effort. I had searched online for wedding acceptance cards, but saw nothing that appealed. It then seemed logical for me to make one, and to make it more personal by basing it on the colour theme of the wedding stationery.

Wedding Invitation by Donna Blundell

While I was forming ideas in my head as to how I wanted my wedding acceptance to look, my friend had commented in an e-mail that the modern way to respond to wedding invitations is by e-mail or text message. I could not believe my eyes and was completely aghast. The cost of wedding stationery isn’t cheap, especially when one then adds on the cost of postage stamps. Irrespective of whether a couple choose to make their own wedding stationery, or have it made for them, there is a considerable amount of time and effort that’s involved. With that in mind, responding by e-mail or text message seems an incredibly lazy thing to do, and suggests the person responding can’t be bothered to make an effort. It is my belief that the tradition of responding in writing needs to be kept very much alive!

During my first visit to Hobbycraft, I had purchased a pack of cream-coloured double-fold cards, with the intention of using one for my wedding acceptance card. I had also purchased two packs of gem stones. Whilst visiting the Stitching Cards website, I saw a design for an oval. Perfect! I could stitch the oval with green thread, and then stitch the words, ‘Wedding Acceptance’ inside it with a different colour of thread. However, I really wanted the border to stand out. I had toyed with the idea of stem-stitching one oval inside another, before deciding to ‘couch’ the border. I had been curious to find out if ‘couching’ could be done on card, so this gave me the perfect opportunity to find out.

The first thing I had to do was reduce the size of the pricking chart for the oval, as it was too large for the size of card I wanted to stitch on. Having done this, I saved the file. I then reduced the size of the oval further, copied and pasted into the larger oval (that I had saved), and then printed off.

I opted to use Kreinik Cord shade 086C for the couching and tacking stitches. There was no having to work out where to place the tacking stitches, as I was able to use the pricking holes. The next task was to decide where to start and finish the ‘couching’, and not knowing how it would turn out, I felt it would be best towards the bottom-centre of the card. I found the ‘couching’ incredibly straightforward, and much more enjoyable than when I had previously used the technique with Starburst and Rosa. After completing the ‘couching’, I felt the oval needed something extra in order to stand out, and so I stem-stitched around the outer and inner oval with gold thread (Kreinik Cord shade 002C.

For the text, I used a stitching font that I’d purchased from Stitching Cards, and printed off two pricking designs (one for each word). Initially, I had added the text to the pricking design for the oval, but had experienced difficulty aligning the text. When it came to stitching the text, I felt a dark-coloured thread would be best. Black seemed too harsh, so I opted for ‘Antique Gold’ (Kreinik Cord shade 205C), which I think works rather well with the gem stones.

Wedding Acceptance Card