Stitchcraft Articles


  1. Witching Hour Ornament by the Prairie Schooler
  2. Milkweed Butterfly and Flower
  3. Embroidered Table Covers
  4. Rico Design Hooded Baby Towels
  5. Easter Rabbit by Eva Rosenstand
  6. Iphone 5 Phone Covers by Anchor.
  7. Flexihoops
  8. Review of Little Owl, blackwork kit by Classic Embroidery
  9. Review of Believe by Designs Works
  10. Review of Woodland Winter by Rose Swalwell
Earlier Stitchcraft Articles

Witching Hour Ornament by the Prairie Schooler

This cute design took only a couple of evening to stitch. Since I wanted to make it into a Halloween card, I used 28 count 10 centimetres wide linen band by Rico Design in natural. The edges are already finished so less of a problem to mount.

It's stitched in only two shades of DMC stranded cottons, very dark brown and orange but I decided to replace the orange with glow-in-the-dark DMC Light Effects floss E940. It's a little more difficult to work with than stranded cottons but I only used it for a few stitches. It does glow slightly but it has to be in the pitch black.

I hope our granddaughter likes it.

halloween card
by Anne Peden on Fri, 30 Oct 2015, 18:25
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Milkweed Butterfly and Flower

I have stitched some Thea Gouverneur designs before from her two lovely books The Secret Garden in Cross Stitch and Flower Portraits in Cross Stitch. Of course then I could choose my own fabric and it's many years since I worked on anything as fine as 36 count. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 36 count linen in this kit had clear holes and is easily stitched over two. Perhaps I shouldn't have avoided linen for so long.

I wasn't sure about the instruction to ' use the floss sparingly' Since floss numbers aren't given, it might be a problem to run out but we sell many Thea Gouverneur kits and have very few complaints. To be fair if I have ever requested extra threads for customers, they have arrived with our next order. The floss is in 80cms lengths, not ideal because it's easy to tangle such a long length but I didn't want to halve them as it would waste more thread and after I while I got more adept at not tangling the cottons. However in the end there was ample floss.

milkweed butterfly and flower

These are computer generated designs and use a lot of different colours, often quite close in shade. On the flowers and stem each colour is grouped without too many single stitches and so the pattern isn't too difficult to follow. However, the butterfly is a bit more complicated and uses lots of shades. Partly that's because it does have spots of colour so that's unavoidable, but also there are several close shades of dark brown and orange. It certainly took much longer to stitch the butterfly than the rest of the pattern.

The finished embroidery is lovely and I think that we just have to accept that Thea Gouverneur kits have more shades than those of other designers and require more time and concentration.
by Anne Peden on Wed, 21 Oct 2015, 14:43
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Embroidered Table Covers

Hand stitched printed table covers always look lovely on your dining table.

Here's a tip to make the reverse look a little tidier. When working stem stitch the reverse becomes a series of running stitches. Before finishing off the thread, turn the embroidery over and whip the row of stitches, using a blunt needle if you prefer. (see whipped stem stitch) whipped stem stitch

The underside of the work will never look as neat as the front but I've often been complemented on how neat the reverse looks, so the little extra effort is worth the trouble. The left hand side of the picture is the top, the right hand side is the underneath.
harvest table cover
by Anne Peden on Fri, 09 Oct 2015, 08:50
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Rico Design Hooded Baby Towels

These baby towels make lovely gifts and can be used from birth and for many years. Made of 100% cotton, they are soft and fluffy and have a hood attached on one side with a 14 count Aida band.

I used one of Rico Design booklets especially for these towels. There are many designs to choose from in four booklets.

I had already stitched polar bears and puppies and this time decided on whales on a mint towel. The good scale charts are in full colour and easy to follow. The design can easily be stitched in under three weeks.

One problem is probably unavoidable. I prefer to stitch with a hoop, but it's difficult to use one for the last motif at either end of the Aida band since the seam gets in the way. I ended up stitching these without tension and although they probably look exactly the same to anyone else, I can see they are not as neat.

These towels will be washed many times so I'm very careful to work in the floss ends well, perhaps taking more stranded cotton than indicated. Of course, cottons are cheap compared to the fabric used and to the stitcher's time so it really isn't worth skimping on it.

whale on turquoise
by Anne Peden on Fri, 25 Sep 2015, 10:07
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Easter Rabbit by Eva Rosenstand

Eva Rosenstand kits are now produced by Permin of Copenhagen and the key and instructions are in the same format as their designs. New customers to Permin sometimes think that the instructions are incomplete or are in Swedish, but in fact although terse and pictorial, all the information is there in a logical and consistent system.

This might be a good opportunity to explain that format, so we have prepared a short file which you can download to read which will hopefully help, but if not let us know and we'll try to improve it.

To get back to the Rabbit. The floss organiser has a couple of useful features. There's a box under each number where you can draw the cross stitch symbol which saves always referring to the key. The circular holes have a slot underneath so that you can pull the unused and partly used thread down into that to keep it tidy.

I've seldom worked on linen evenweave and prefer cotton evenweave because of the closer and more even weave. However the fabric in this kit is easy to work on, the threads are narrower making the holes easier to see and I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, for the same reason, you can't carry floss over unstitched areas and have to be careful not to leave floss ends at the edges.

There were no problems stitching the design although the two darkest shades for the fur are pretty close. When the cross stitch was complete, the picture did look a bit bright but the backstitch toned it down.

Easter Rabbit
by Anne Peden on Fri, 18 Sep 2015, 14:42
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Iphone 5 Phone Covers by Anchor.

This is a quick and easy project worked completely in whole cross stitch on silicone covers. There are a choice of designs to work either black on white or white on black. I chose what I thought would make a 'his and hers' set.

The floss came in lengths of 1 metre, two black and two white. Not a very useful size as the full length is too long to use and half was a bit short as it means more lengths used. I normally work with about 66 cms and perhaps this had an effect later.

Since I wasn't sure how much wear the inside of the cover would get, I was very careful not to carry thread over the reverse and to leave long ends which could be worked in well. I always do this for items which are to be used rather than put behind glass. However the black on white design came out just slightly short of floss.

The white on black was equally easy to work but perhaps not such a good contrast. It also came out short of floss by even more than the first cover.

I perhaps chose the most stitched option for both colourways and the other designs would have enough floss but these are clearly beginner designs aimed at young stitchers who would be unlikely to have extra floss lying around to complete. It would be a disappointment.

I certainly couldn't recommend this kit and we won't re-order. We will include extra floss in any we do sell.

by Anne Peden on Fri, 11 Sep 2015, 11:20
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I decided to use one of these frames to mount the reversible Little Owl from the Classic Embroidery pattern.

These hoops are available as circular and oval shapes which are much harder to find in traditional frames. I have heard that larger frames are less suitable for embroideries but the 5 inch circular frame I used was ideal and the fabric could be stretched until taut.

If using the frame to hang on a wall, the reverse could be laced, but I wanted to hang it so both sides could be seen.

The problem was in finishing off the edges. I could have just cut them but since there is no glass to protect the fabric, over time it could get dusty and require washing. There's always the option of zigzaging the edges with a sewing machine which would be fine for straight edges but a bit more difficult in a circle.

Once I had the embroidery centered in the frame, I did a row of running stitch close to the edge on the unwanted fabric. Then I removed the fabric from the flexihoop and put it in a larger embroidery frame to work buttonhole stitch inside the line using Pearl cotton no.8 926 cream.

little owl in window

With the embroidery back in the flexihoop in its original position, I trimmed the excess fabric as close as I could to the buttonhole stitch using my new hardanger scissors and now it's hanging at a window.
by Anne Peden on Fri, 04 Sep 2015, 08:46
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Review of Little Owl, blackwork kit by Classic Embroidery

This pretty little design is sold as a 'weekender' and certainly can be completed in a weekend or a few evenings.

I chose the evenweave version but all of the stitching is suitable for Aida. The instructions are very detailed and I started with the backstitch outline. I realised that the horizontal centre on the chart isn't correct but since I'd already started and there was ample material I continued. It's always a bit risky to unpick in blackwork as traces of the threads may be left behind.

When I work backstitch in blackwork, I'm always aware of the reverse stitching showing through to the front so to make right angle crisp, I work some stitches forward so that they are not at an angle on the back. This may not be necessary and perhaps it would be better to use running stitch.

With the backstitch and whole cross stitch in two strands complete, the three infill patterns are worked with a single strand. The running stitch on the bird's front was quick and easy and the instructions give an order for the more dense stitching on the head to make them reversible.

The wing stitching can also be worked as reversible following the stitch guide given but I'm afraid I found that a bit more tricky in the small space and gave up. Afterwards I thought that perhaps working the pattern vertically rather than horizontally may have made it easier as most of the rows are longer. So when I tried that on one wing, it was a lot easier to follow and the reverse is patterned but not a copy of the front.

The finished owl is three and a half inches in diameter and if reversible would fit in a four inch round flexihoop. If mounted carefully it would make an attractive window hanging. My finished owl looks perfect from the front but perhaps I'll try again and take more care over the backstitch.

The kit in available in evenweave and 14 count Aida. There was a little black floss left over.

Having finished the Little Owl, I still felt that making it completely reversible was a challenge. Obviously not necessary but interesting. So I started again, this time in brown on cream and worked in outline in running stitch with two strands. This looked very neat but better after I'd invested in a pair of hardanger scissors to cut the ends closer.

Whole cross stitch as I normally work it is not reversible but if I worked every second stitch then it would slope on the back. I remembered a pattern booklet called Reversible Cross Stitch Sampler by Needlemade Designs and there was the answer:-

Work one half cross stitch every second space left to right;
Return with second half of crosses in spaces;
work top stitch on alternate stitches left to right;
work under on return to make stitches lie in the same direction.

The filling stitches for the bird's head and breast had come out reversible the first time but try as I might I couldn't make the honeycomb pattern the same on the back following the instructions. I tried variations on scrap fabric and finally worked out a completely reversible order of stitching. The front still looks neater than the back as I had to finish off ends in the running stitch making some places thicker than others. You can judge for yourself from the photos.

Little Owls

My next challenge is mounting the finished Litle Owl in a flexihoop.
by Anne Peden on Fri, 28 Aug 2015, 10:16
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Review of Believe by Designs Works

A pretty little design of the word with fairies and beads.

The pattern advises running cold water over the darker red and blue shades of floss because they may not be colourfast. I wondered about using vinegar to fix the colour but decided to play it safe. As it was the colours didn't run at all.

The threads were already on the shade card in the same order as the key but no floss numbers are given even for comparison just colour names. I was a bit worried about mixing them up after I'd removed some to rinse so I took a photo. Even then I wasn't convinced about where to place them on the card. Only one shade dark lavender didn't seem to be correct but it matched the photo.

I began in the centre with the whole cross stitch of the word. That and the star shapes were easily worked. The little fairies with partial cross stitch, backstitch and french knots were more intricate to work but not too difficult.

That left the beads which are sewn on with a single strand in a similar shade using the beading needle provided. There was lots of leftover floss in all the shades, the least in the brown of the backstitch but still ample. believe by design works

The whole design was worked in less than a week and the finished embroidery fits a standard photo frame of 7 by 5 inches. Imagine, Dream and Hope are from the series with the words in the same shades and there are other series in similar style but different colours Faith and Love, Family and Friends so if you like this idea there are lots of others to choose from.
by Anne Peden on Fri, 21 Aug 2015, 09:04
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Review of Woodland Winter by Rose Swalwell

A pretty little design from a seasonal set. Derwentwater Designs has many Spring, Summer, Autumn Winter sets. This is one of the smaller sets.

Firstly I had to sort the threads onto cards by colour. Rose Swalwell never uses any partial stitches but the stitching completely covers the design area so that can be a bit complicated if there are lots of shades.

I decided to begin with both browns in the tree trunks as it's easier to go wrong if you work too far in a single shade. The shade with the most floss is a mid grey so I decided to leave that to last and use it to fill in the gaps without having to refer to the chart.

I gradually introduced all the other shades so that I could check I hadn't made any mistakes. Then when I was happy that all but the mid grey was stitched I finished the whole cross stitch. A border of the same shade left only the backstitch. That is worked in two shades of brown, the lighter brown charted with a dotted line which wasn't so easy to see so I had to refer to the finished picture to check. trees

The whole embroidery was completed in less than a week with lots of leftover floss.

Woodland Winter is brighter and with more peach than the illustration on the kit cover. The set of four seasons could be worked and mounted in a single frame.
by Anne Peden on Fri, 14 Aug 2015, 10:55
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Earlier Stitchcraft Articles ...

Review of Gardener Chick by Heritage Crafts ... Heritage Crafts have lots of birds and flower kits converted from the artwork of Valerie Pfeiffer which are very pretty and timeless.
Review of Cow - Sheep- Pig - Bull ... We decided that it would be a good idea to stitch a few different suppliers' kits to review them for our customers.
Quaker Style ... Crewel work was very popular in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth century.
An Introduction to Bargello ... There are lots of names for this style of canvas work including
Half Cross Stitch ... Some cross stitch designs have areas of
Band Samplers ... Band Samplers are a very old form of embroidery dating back to the Late Middle Ages.
Swedish Weaving ... This traditional craft had a revival in the 1930s and 40s and is becoming increasingly popular today.
Something a little bit different ...
Ribbon Embroidery ...
Counted Beadwork ... Beadwork was very popular in Victorian times when it was used to decorate evening dresses and bags and in furnishings such as cushions and footstools.
Assisi Embroidery ... Assisi embroidery comes from the Italian town of that name and was once used to decorate ecclesiastical linens.
Blackwork Easter Egg - a simple example. ... There's nothing very complicated about blackwork.
Would you like to try hardanger ? ... Some of you have recently expressed interest in hardanger, so we decided to research the subject a little and look for a few products.
New Baby? ... News of an expected new baby is always very exciting, and not just to the parents-to-be!
Miss Potter - Renaissance Woman ... Hollywood has seen a ready market for adaptations of British childrens' classics - Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, and so on, but now director Chris Noonan has made a new movie based on the life of the storyteller rather than the stories.
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat ... ... Or perhaps, «gravitationally challenged», but it just doesn't scan.
Searching for Golden Threads ... I had a long search to find the
Mounting Your Embroidery On Card ... This is a short piece with advice on mounting your embroidery on card for framing - what type of thread to use and how to do it.
What Colour Is Blackwork? ... Blackwork is over four hundred years old
Not Another Embroidery! ... There are many, many cross stitch and embroidery designs and kits out there.
Goldwork ... Goldwork embroidery
Stitching Techniques And Tips ... An introduction to working cross stitch, blackwork and needlepoint designs with some useful tips and advice for beginners.
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