Saturday, 30 April 2011

Strand Brands

What brand of standed thread do you prefer?
I personally use DMC simply because it is the most easily available in my area, and it was the threads my mother had which I used when I started out. There are debates out there on which brand is the best comparing thread brightness, colour longevity and how well the thread sits down. I do worry a little that my lovely works will fade in colour, especially if they're on the wall. I have noticed thread colour fading with DMC over the years. But I'll stick with the DMC as I've got 70% of the colour range already in my work boxes.

Speaking of work boxes, have a look at this;
I decided to pull out all the colours I needed for a specific project, so I didn't need to carry two work boxes with me if I moved from one room of the house to another. What a mistake.
Just look at the mess I ended up with. It took me much longer to find what I needed. It might have worked if I'd had a smaller sorting box, like the ones below. But this small container really didn't do the job. I haven't been able to find a smaller sorting box deep enough to hold the threads yet. but I'm sure they're out there.

I love my work boxes, all sorted by number. All the colours of the rainbow, so neat, so easy to find what I need.
Do you sort by number? I know of a lady that prefers to have hers in hues. All her reds are in shades, all her greens, etc. She's a designer too and she says it's easier for her to choose the shade she wants. I must admit, I do a lot of pulling out and arranging shades on the table when I'm designing. But I doubt sorting by hue would stop that. I look at how the colours mix, so I'd be pulling them from their hue families anyway.

Well, I'm off to the quilting show this afternoon, and looking forward to it. I started quilting when I saw a fantasic quilt that had cross stiches as feature squares. I haven't done a large one like the one that inspired me, though I've made a few smaller quilted wall hangings from cross stitches.
I'll tell you all abotu it tomorrow.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Value of Stitches

Firstly, can I thank you for following my blog and for your comments. I haven't learnt how to reply yet, but I'll give it a go next time.

While at school today I got into a conversation about cross stitch with my co workers. Of the four people in the staff room who engaged in the converstaion, two of them stitched (including me), and the other two knew stitchers.

Everyone agreed how lovely the finished work can look and one staff member comented that a family member had been given a value of her work to the tune of $10 000. From her description I gather that the work was larger than the average piece stitched, and quite rich in design. I think it may have been one of the medieval scenes that include the maiden with the lion or unicorn.

It occured to me I haven't had any of my works valued for insurace. And I have experienced first hand the devestating results of a house fire. In 1998 my house was virtually destroyed by a fire started in our study by an infant throwing a blanket over a heater. My husband and I lost many presious antiques, items we had lovingly restored or been gifted for special birthdays, and a very large collection of beautiful books. Also destroyed was my stash!!!! Gulp!!!! Yes, my stored charts and kits, as well as a bell pull I was half way through (and I have been unable to find the pattern again ... it had yellow roses and fairies on it if anyone has a copy???). Not much in the house recieved it's full value from insurance. Perhaps the most appropriately insured piece was my piano.

What would I do if we were once again struck by misfortune? I doubt my work is worth $10 000 but it is certainly priceless. I must get a valuation.

If anyone else has had a valuation I'd be interested to know the result.

*** Yesterday I was considering a cross stitch club at school. I did bring it up in the staffroom and the teachers seemed to think it was a good idea. They mentioned that years 3 and 4 would enjoy it too, but I don't think I want quite that many to attend. Too many children attending and it will turn into a nightmare for me. So I'm still thinking carefully about how I can set it up.

See you tomorrow

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Cross Stitch at School

My daughter came home today and told me she's stitching something for mother's day with her teacher. It's nice that it's still taught in some schools ... not many I think.

I was thinking of introducing my kindergaten kids to stitching by doing some card lacing. It'll take quite a bit of preperation, but it'll be worth it. My kids love, love, love craft (I suppose most 5 and 6 year olds do). I'm just trying to think about how I can work it into the unit of work we're doing this term called 'My Place'. Maybe we could make a 'home sweet home' wall hanging (huh! I just thought of that. Obviously blogging is good for one's creative juices).

I have stitched with kids this young before as a casual (relieving) teacher. The teacher planned the activity and then left me to it ... thanks!!! Kids, needles (yes even the large tapestry kind) and threads was not a good mix for this class. I wouldn't attempt threads and needles with my current class either. They lack the fine motor skills. It might have been OK if I'd had some parent help, but as I was on my own, I spent 90% of my time undoing knots, fixing mistakes and rethreading needles. It was a looooong time ago now (at least 18 years) and I think I've blocked it out of my memory. LOL

But with older kids it's great. I made a stitched and stuffed bear with some year 6 kids once and they were pretty good at it. I still had lots of knots and mistakes to untie, but it was much less stressful.

So I'm thinking of running some stitching clubs; one at the school I work at, and one at the school my daughter goes to. It would be a lunch time activity, and Winter would be an excellent time to start it. The kids will be wanting to stay indoors. I could limit the number of kids in the club so that I'm not overloaded with work in the short time.

I'll let you know if I attempt it (or will I come to my senses before I offer my services? LOL)

See you again tomorrow

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I'd Rather Be Stitching

I was back at work today after school holidays and the Easter long weekend/anzac day public holiday.
And while I had a productive day, I'd still rather be at home stitching. Wouldn't we all I guess?

Even when I got home there was no stitching. I find it hard to switch from work mode to stitching mode, so I usually don't stitch on the days I teach. There just seems to be a block in my mood that makes it hard to pick up a needle. Is anyone else like that?

If I do pick up my work I usually find myself immersed in the stitching and able to forget about the day. But it's not so common for me. It's the same way with my artwork, the basis for my stitching designs. I like a long uninterupted period of time before I even start to think about being creative. I'm sure it's all in that left brain/right brain theory of how we think. While I don't find it at all difficult to make the switch, I have to be in the mood to.

Well at least I have the stitching to look forward to in just a few days, and that pulls me along. I'm looking forward to finishing the wings and hair on my fairy to start on the backstitching which always makes a piece come together.

Just a short little entry today. I do plan to blog each day, though the entries on day I teach will usually be shorter.

And welcome to my third follower! I'm so grateful you joined us.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Metallic Thread

I'm working on a fairy that I decided would look nice with some metallic thread mixed in with the wing colours ... why????

Above: work in progress; 'Recital'. There are two stranded cotton threads mixed with one metallic thread for just a little glitter.

I love the finished look of metallic threads, but they are definitely more difficult than stranded cotton.
I tried making the threads shorter than usual, but I actually found in this case, that if I made the threads a little longer than usual I could loop more through the needle to stop the needle slipping off, and then I cut off more excess at the end as the metallic thread gets 'tatty'. I also have to stop more often to unwind the twist of the thread. Usually I do this by letting the needle drop and unwind itself, but with metallic thread the needle will just drop off I did that, so instead, I take the needle down to the base of the thread where it comes out of the fabric and gently tease it straight with my fingers (sometimes I do this with a very twisted stranded cotton too. I found seperating the threads again helps them to lie straight on the fabric).

When I'm using just metallic thread on it's own, I stick with the shorter than usual threads as the metallic thread strips off the base if it's handled too much.

I'd be interested to know if anyonw else has tips for handling metallic threads. Has anyone used the bees wax method? I remember using that method years ago, but seem to be able to manage without it now. I can't remember if the wax affects the shine, or stains the fabric?

As you can see in the WIP photo, I've dyed this fabric. I'll be writing a blog on the method I used next time I dye (probably in a week or two ... I'm working on a dyed series of designs at the moment).

Thankyou to everyone who is following the blog, I'm delighted to have you, and I hope I can write interesting entries that keep you coming back,

Monday, 25 April 2011

Purple Bling

I'm working steadily towards putting more designs into magazines.
So far two have been published and are already out in Cross Stitch and Embroidery; Rose Cameo in Vol 18 No.3 (Cross Stitch and Beyond) and Celtic Sampler in Cross Stitch and Beyond Vol18 No. 7

I've had several more designs accepted and waiting either for me to finish the stitching, or for the right issue to be printed in.

I was so excited last month when one of my designs was accepted to World of Cross Stitch magazine in the UK. It won't come out until 2012 as they plan well ahead.

Here's a sneak peek of what's coming up in Cross Stitch and Embroidery.

I've most certainly been in a purple and glittery mood lately. Above is a small handbag/box, and lavender satchel that go as a set and a jewellery box with fairy on teapot. Sorry I can't show them any closer ... it's just a sneak peek until they come out in the mag afterall.

I'm currently working on a hand dyed series. The background fabric are all tie dyed in complimenting colours. The finished results will be stitched versions of some of my watercolour artworks at deviant art.

My daughter Annalese has started stitching more regularly. She'll be 12 in October. So I'm designing her a mermaid to stitch. I've told her that I'll share the magazine payment with her if she stitches it neatly enough to submit. So hopefully that will be an extra incentive for her to learn. She's still practicing on a Christmas tree design she started before Christmas (demonstrates how much stitching she really does!) and then a pokemon design before she'll tackle my mermaid. She's been watching me design it, so she's quite motivated at the moment.

Again, thankyou for taking the time to read. And thankyou to San from deviant art who commented.
Don't forget, if you follow my blog you will posted about new entries.

See you next time

Sunday, 24 April 2011


Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog where I intend to write about all things cross stitch, including my designs, shows I've attended, lovely work I've seen, techniques to pass on and any news I hear along the grapevine.

I've actually got a good post to start off with as yesterday I visited the Sydney Royal Easter show.

I could have spent all day in the art and craft pavilion, but unfortunately my poor obliging family was with me and were getting sore feet. I hadn't even noticed that my own feet were starting to ache as I stared through case after case of astounding workmanship.

By the time I found the embroidery and stitching section my daughter was starting to fret that her dad and brother had wandered off somewhere, so I didn't get as long as I'd have liked there. The conversation went something like this.

me: 'OK I guess we'd better find your dad and James'
Anna: 'But I bet you'll just find something else to distract you'.
And she wasn't wrong. Not long after I said that, I finally found the cross stitches I'd been looking for.

First place in the 16 to 18 count linen or aida.
Third place in the 16 or 18 count aida or linen.
No place for this one. I guess they can't all be winners. I really like this one though. I know at the Royal Easter show the judges look closely at the back of the work, which wasn't on display.

I was actually surprised by the small number of the entries. I know that cross stitch has waned in popularity in Australia, but I was still quite disapointed there were under ten entries in this category.

Cross stitches did pop up in other categories too though, and this lovely example in the stumpwork, or raised embroidery section caught my eye.

And the winner of the blackwork category.

So, if you are an Australian reading this (especially from NSW), lets put in a big effort to enter more pieces into the Sydney Royal Easter show for 2012. I'll endeavour to give you a heads up closer to the dates.

I hope you've enjoyed the first instalment of my blog and I'd enjoy comments, feedback and followers.

See you next time