Basket of Biscornu

I have been making progress on the Eagle Scout Emblem and will be taking progress photos soon. My stash has several “smalls” in it and one of them has even been carried around on outings. In spite of that I do not have any smalls in progress. They’re a nice bit of a break from a large piece in that you get the satisfaction of a project completion. A little encouragement to keep on stitching the large projects.

I made a biscornu ages ago, and have seen literally hundreds of other people’s biscornus (well, virtually that is). Last year some time I started seeing people talking about “baskets” of biscornu, and I finally took the time to do some internet searching to figure out what it is all about.

It sounds like a lot of fun though I would have to limit where I displayed the finished products else they would be “claimed” by the furry pets in the household as toys…

For anyone else who was or is as mystified as I was about this project, you can read all about it on the Basket of Biscornu blog.

Coffee is Magic

This chart was a freebie from Jennifer Aikman-Smith of Dragon Dreams. It is no longer available on her site or I would gladly share the link. “Coffee is Magic in the Morning” was a fun fairly quick stitch. I got to use a furry fiber for the first time, as well as glow-in-the-dark floss. (The bunny slippers and beard both glow, cute!) -edit- Now that I look at it I realize it isn’t fuzzy floss… I believe that what happened was I was supposed to use fuzzy floss but was too impatient to wait for my order to arrive so I purchased the glowy DMC at a local shop. It’s been a few years since I stitched it so I’d forgotten about that.

The only flaw was not centering my project on my cloth right, and then I got creative with the border. Some day I may pick out that yellow and sew a cloth border on so I can frame it properly.

The odd shadow is from my scanner. I eventually figured out how to ‘block’ the slide holder slot with a sheet of plain paper, but this was scanned prior to that.

Palm Tree

This is the project that started my stitching obsession. It was a kit I bought at Joann Fabric, in their clearance bin for $3. We had been in the process of trying to sell our small house so we could buy a home with a bit more space that would suit the needs of a family with boys better. This meant that all of my hobby supplies were packed away in boxes in a storage unit so our house would look more “staged” for potential buyers. And THAT meant I had nothing to occupy my hands with in the evenings. An online friend of mine had shared some photos of needlework pieces she had stitched. Lovely things that weren’t tiny cute Disney characters or simplistic flowers. I thought “hmm, it isn’t just Precious Moments birth announcements?” and went to the store.

My theory behind buying the palm tree kit was that it was only $3 so if I didn’t like working cross stitch I wouldn’t be out that much money. And the kit was pretty small, so I wouldn’t be out that much time either.

Turned out I loved it. So I stitched this piece and then the “Reading Room” piece and then went to the afore-blogged Ben Franklins and bought the kit for Frederick the Literate.

Needle Guardian

Sept 12, 2007

I loved this piece! As always, with a Teresa Wentzler. 🙂 I came up with my own finishing method, and it turned out well. Not as perfectly as I would wish for, but better than I’d hoped. The first page has a place for needles and a pocket for holding needle packets. The second page has another place for needles and a scissor pocket with ribbon to hold it inside the keeper. I put on a bead dangle, and ribbon, to keep the keeper closed.

I enjoyed this one enough that I would possibly stitch it again in the future.

The Bittersweet Season

Sept 12, 2007
To appease my need for stitching, without breaking out Egyptian Sampler, I’m working on ‘The Bittersweet Season’ from Heartstrings. It’s cute, it’s not difficult, and my reasoning is that of course I have to work on it now because it needs to be done in time for Halloween. Clever rationale, eh?

Oct 11, 2007
I finally got the rest of the beads sewn onto The Bittersweet Season. I like how this piece turned out for the most part. If I were to do anything differently, I would have used 3 strands of the ‘Black Crow’ floss, and 2 strands of the black #4 braid, to stitch the cat. I think the result looks a bit thin or sparse or something. Too much of the background shows through for my taste. And I might have used 1 strand of black braid and 1 strand of gold or silver or iridescent color, just so the stripe effect actually would show up. It’s there, but I have to tilt the piece “just so” for the light to catch the sparkle. Kind of irritating, but oh well.

All in all, I like this. I got to use a couple of new-to-me stitches, and stitch a piece in a genre of patterns I haven’t really done much with before now. The colors are nice (I like orange, but in small doses) and Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. I’m going to finish it as a hanging, I just have to find the perfect bit of twig/ stick/ branch first.
Apologies for the slight tilt, I was trying to fit the whole thing on my scanner. I almost did it, just a smidge snipped off the top star and the bottom row of stitches.

a finish and a WIP

I have a few things to share this evening. 🙂 The first one is a biscornu, my first ever. I realized after finishing it that it probably really should have had more stuffing inside. I also forgot to scan the two pieces of needlework before I stitched them together. oops.

Anyhow, the patterns came from My Aunt’s Attic. I used 28 ct antique white evenweave. The light side is stitched with Needle Necessities #119, and the more colorful side is stitched with Waterlilies #74 Storm Clouds, and Simply Shaker Butternut Squash. I was aiming for a more French blue, (should have realized that with a name like “Storm Clouds” the color was likely to be more gray than blue), but I still am pleased with the result.

My other piece to share this evening is a WIP. I’m stitching Needle Guardian by Teresa Wentzler (yay for Patterns Online! I’ve been wanting this one since I saw pics of it in someone’s blog who had attended the workshop.) It is also stitched on 28 ct antique white evenweave. I have some more lettering I can do, as well as the nun stitch border, but I’m almost out of things I can do until my order of Dinky Dyes, Kreinik and Mill Hill beads comes in. I thought about substituting things I have in my stash, and decided against it. For one thing, I looked online and couldn’t really find any variegated floss that had a similar colorway to the Dinky Dyes “Airlie”. I know that any TW stitched with her supply list turns out lovely. I’m not so sure what would happen if I replaced willy-nilly.

For anyone who intends to stitch this, if you’re as impatient as I am, you might want to order your floss *before* you start stitching it. It took me a while to find an online needlework shop that carries it which I was willing to do business with. And even so, they have to order it because they don’t have it in stock. I only found a few shops that said they had it in stock, usually just one skein. I wanted two skeins, in the same dye lot. I think I might want to stitch another one of these needlecases, and I didn’t want to have to twiddle my thumbs waiting for floss again. 🙂 I didn’t scan this, but when I finish it I’ll be sure to do a scan instead of just snapping a photo.

Springtime Roses

Jan 23, 2007
My current “small” project that I’m stitching is Martina Weber’s freebie “Springtime Roses”. I needed some instant gratification after working on Frederick for so long. Especially considering that my other WIPs are *big*.

I altered the floss list a little bit, because I wanted to play with the DMC Rayon, and YLI Silk flosses I received as holiday presents. I am using one strand of the DMC she lists, plus either 1 strand of a near-match rayon, or 2 strands of a near-match YLI. A couple of the DMC colors didn’t have any good matches, so in those cases I’m using 2 strands of the DMC cotton. I had to order the variegated silks (Thread Gatherer Silk’n colors, and Caron Waterlilies) because no one locally carries them and there are no good cotton substitutions. Oh the hardship, ordering floss! I am going to use Kreinik metallics for the Rainbow Gallery braid though. I’m currently thinking 2 strands filament plus one strand of base DMC cotton. Unless I just get Kreinik braid. I can get quite a lot of the Kreiniks in local shops though. 🙂

So, my “working floss list” is:

DMC 819 + YLI 13

DMC 776 + rayon 30818

DMC 3326 + YLI 172

DMC 335 + rayon 30899

DMC 341 + rayon 30800

DMC 793 + YLI 798

DMC 3810 + YLI 103

DMC 3348 (2 strands)

DMC 3345 + YLI 132

DMC 469 (2 strands)

DMC 935 (2 strands)

DMC 581 + YLI 162

DMC 733 (2 strands)

DMC 3823 + rayon 30745

So far, I am loving working with the silk. The rayon is more prone to knotting and tangling. But it has a lovely shine to it, and looks pretty stitched.

Feb 14, 2007
I have kept saying “just a little more, then I’ll scan it and post an update”. But then another few days pass with no scanning and no update. This morning I finally said “enough is enough” and scanned. So here, in all its unfinished glory, is my current progress on Springtime Roses. 🙂

Feb 22, 2007
Well, I discovered after I’d stitched the half stitches in the center, that I was supposed to have done them with one strand of silk, not two. I’m going to just leave it the way it is, although it probably makes the background behind the dragonfly more vivid than it was designed to be. I’ll just be sure to do a great job backstitching the dragonfly. 😀

Husband thought it looks like there are palm trees or the hint of palm trees in the background area, and I agree. Sure didn’t expect that, but it’s kinda cool! I wasn’t sure I would like variegated silk but it has grown on me and I’m fond of it now. Certainly it has to be used in particular ways or the result would be ugly, but oh the possibilities! I can hardly wait to see what this looks like when it is completed. 🙂

Mar 11, 2007
Well, this doesn’t look like as an impressive update as it feels like to have stitched. What the photo doesn’t show very well is the pearlescent blending filament. Which I loathe stitching with. Currently I am working on the rice stitch border, which is much pleasanter, because the rice stitches are done in silk floss. Sadly, I will have to add more filament stitching.. but in gold. And then there will be some slight scattering of beads. So, the next update will be a “finish” photo 🙂 Meanwhile, a hastily snapped photo:

Sept 12, 2007
I have not been stitching on Egyptian Sampler lately. It’s my carrot dangling before me, encouraging me to finish Springtime Roses. This piece is an experimentation piece and as such there are things I like, and things I don’t. Currently, I am not liking the metallic in the border. Problem: I didn’t have the braid called for on-hand, so I substituted 4 strands of filament instead. PITA is what that is. So I decided to go ahead and use braid. Only… I used the wrong size. A larger-than-should-have size. And I refuse to frog it. Either way, neither metallic is pleasant to stitch with. I didn’t mind them up to this point. Now I pretty much loathe them. I will, WILL, finish this piece. It’s pretty. After the filament/braid goes on, I get to add beads. But meanwhile it’s almost more pleasant to clean my bathroom than to stitch on it. And that’s a sad state of affairs.

Oct 1, 2007
I am so relieved to be done stitching this piece, that I cannot even express it properly. For a while I thought it would live in the drawer, forever unfinished.

First, a picture that attempts to show off the sparkle (I tried many things to capture the sparkle, have been mostly thwarted)

And finally, the back. I never share the backs of my pieces, but thought I would this time. This would be an example of why I have not yet felt confidant enough to enter anything in needlework show /competitions. I knot the start of my floss, and weave the tails, for the curious.

Fish City and so on

So Fish City is an official UFO. I believe I cannibalized the fabric in order to kit up other charts… I never did make much more than a couple of inches worth of progress on it. Some day I’ll get back to it because the piece is just adorable.

Sept 30, 2006
We’d ordered pizza delivery for lunch today, but it was so late we got our food for free. What to do with a sudden bit of extra money? Why, go stash shopping of course! I have been wanting to look at the new DMC Variations threads, but when I browsed through the kits and charts I found the Stoney Creek Fish City chart. w00t!!

I’ve wanted this chart since I first saw it, since I know my little boys would absolutely adore it. The only mistake I made when I returned home, was letting them see it. Tomorrow, I must go on a mission to purchase a sizeable piece of cloth. Because I need another WIP, yes I do! And also, if I don’t start it, the boys will mope.

I’m not usually excited about kid-oriented patterns. Fish City is one of the exceptions, and another design by the artist, Noah’s Sub, would be another exception. I may eventually acquire the Noah’s Sub. I should probably finish a few things first…

Oct 3, 2006
I started Fish City- insanely I purchased 18ct Aida. I get rather confused over the difference between Aida and Evenweave, but I *think* if it were an evenweave it would be a 36ct? The stitches, they are small. I have to turn my light to its brightest setting, and a lot of time translates to a small area completed. It’s going to look simply stunning when it’s finished though, so I’m not complaining.

The progress so far is the bottom few rows of the lower left corner page. I think the chart extends about ten more stitches to the right before it moves on to the next page. The project is 5 pages of chart wide by 3 pages of chart high. And the thing I AM going to moan about is the large number of 1/4 stitches. On teeny tiny Aida. If I’d actually looked closely at the chart before purchasing cloth, I would have picked a larger spacing..

On to more visible progress! Corte Medieval. I’m really starting to get into this piece, in a “I could stay up all night and stitch” sort of way. Sleep still wins over stitching, but it’s been a near thing on a couple of evenings. I really love the way the many near shades of colors blend so nicely in this piece. It shows up better in the scan than in my livingroom lighting. I can’t wait to finish this page so I can work on the section of chart that has the figures’ heads. 😀

All of this has been put on a temporary hold because I want to make my boys quilts for Holiday gifts. Yesterday, like a maniac, I cut enough squares for 3 quilt tops, laid out the squares to plan the “look”, and stitched one top together. It is crooked. I have determined that I view sewing as utilitarian, and not as art. Today sometime, or possibly tomorrow, I need to sew together the blocks for the other two quilt tops. I’m not doing anything insane like hand-quilting, or even machine-quilting. I’m simply going to use yarn to “tie” the quilt layers all together. Something cheerful and primary color.

I also cut some plain muslin into 12″ squares, so I can at my leisure, create art blocks. I want to piece some Sunbonnet Sue blocks, and try some crazy quilting. These things would be more of a “wall art” kind of thing, because I plan on using a lot of fun embellishments, which wouldn’t hold up to wear&tear of a bed quilt. Anyhow, that quilt idea isn’t something I’m doing soon- the muslin is just prepped for “some day”. LOL

And as if all that weren’t enough, I need to remember to contact the nice woman from whom I bought my spindle, for lessons on using said spindle as well as a look-see at my spinning wheel, and perhaps purchasing bits & bobs necessary for prepping and spinning an alpaca fleece.

There are more projects in my pile, and I think I’d better plan on living forever if I want to finish everything crafty and arty that I think is shiny and alluring.

Frederick the Literate

This project was the first “large” project I worked on. I had no idea when I bought the kit just how hard it is to stitch on black aida (I’d only stitched a couple small projects prior to it).

Aug 28, 2006
I haven’t posted an update on Frederick since I started writing in this blog location- mostly because I haven’t been working on Frederick. I’ve been itching to stitch on this piece for a while though, so last week I put it back on my scroll frame.

I have quite a bit of gold backstitching left to do on the lower right corner, as well as actually stitching the bookmarks. I realized that I hadn’t done those yet when I was checking the chart for backstitch floss colors. It will be nice (understatement) to finish this quarter (lettering on books, black fill on cat) and move on to the upper half of the piece. I’m very tired of stitching the black-on-black, and endless miles of shades of red.

Sept 4, 2006
I’m deep in the back-stitching on those lovely red books for Frederick now, having finally finished the gold metallic bits. I don’t know what brand of metallic is included in a Dimensions kit, but this stuff is awful. When stitching with one strand it isn’t too bad, but when the chart calls for three strands it is horrid. It was so terrible that even though there are some bits on the front that aren’t perfect, I cannot bring myself to frog it and do it over. The back is even worse, with lots of little gold loops. AUGH.

The top half of the chart has a few areas that also call for three strands of gold metallic. Why, WHY, couldn’t they just include some gold metallic braid in the kit for the heavier back-stitch, so I could use one strand? I’m going to substitute when I get to that point, because I certainly am not going to fight the stupid metallics again. I don’t see any reason to make the gold embossing on the book spines the same type/shade of gold anyway.
I will be very glad when I finish Frederick. I love the design and can’t wait to see it completed and framed. Stitching it is an act of self-discipline and willpower though- I just haven’t been inspired by this. It could be that the original ‘Frederick the Literate’ is a really rich detailed print, and the cross stitch conversion leaves out so much of that detail that it loses something of its spirit. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do really like this piece (even with my irritation regarding the back-stitching). It being a holiday weekend in the USA, I may spend some time on lettering books and filling in black areas of the cat today. 🙂

Sept 19, 2006
I was working on the bottom portion of the back end of the cat, and then I couldn’t stop. I had to finish stitching that section of the cat. And then I had floss still on my needle, in one of the cat colors, so I did a bit on the head of the cat. And then! I stitched a whole bunch more on the kitty’s head. I think I’m done with Frederick for a while though, since I want to get back to Corte Medieval.

Nov 17, 2006
I haven’t updated in forever, mainly because I haven’t spent as much time stitching lately as I’d like to. I decided to post a progress photo of Frederick, though, because even though it doesn’t seem like I’ve gotten much done when I look at the photo, it took me AGES to stitch the front half of the cat. There was a lot more confetti stitching involved than I’d realized. I’m hoping the cat face *pops* nicely when I add back stitching, because right now it’s very blah.

Dec 12, 2006
Still not finished, alas, but getting much closer to the end. 🙂 I am forcing myself to complete the border along the top edge before doing any more work on the books and curios, or any of the backstitching for the top half of the design. The border is monotonous and boring and tedious. Just an endless row of the same color. Bleah. On the plus side, it does add something to the overall feel of the piece.

Jan 3, 2007
A short update- I am nearing the end of Frederick, and have run out of some colors of floss. Luckily, I can substitute some DMC that is a near-enough match, and it isn’t in any areas where one would notice a shift in color anyhow. Note of warning to anyone stitching a kit- be extra extra frugal in your floss usage!! I wasn’t nearly cautious enough in the beginning of this project, but I believe I would still have come close to running out of one or two of the colors.

Waiting for bright daylight to work on the black-on-black areas, but can get started on some back-stitching and book titles while I’m waiting for that. I might get it finished today, but it may not be until tomorrow. And… the Husband? He is going to get it framed for me for our anniversary. 😀 I *am* a lucky gal!

I’ll wait until I can post the “finish pic” of Frederick to also post the pic of the Yule tree framed. It turned out nicely, and I didn’t post it earlier because the piece was a Christmas gift.

Anyhow, that’s all for now. Must stitch! And later I can sort out a small project or three to test my lovely new rayon floss upon, and it shouldn’t be too long before I get my silk floss order in (another week or two. a couple items are on backorder). So, an excellent stitching start to 2007. 🙂

Jan 15, 2007
I am still in a little bit of a state of disbelief that I’ve actually finished Frederick. The piece has been washed and is drying, and eventually will be pressed, stretched and framed. 🙂

I took a couple of photos with the camera. I wanted to wash it and get the dust out and the hand oils and whatnot out. A year+ is a long time to handle something and not wash it. So I didn’t think to scan it first. And now I’m not planning to. The square photo was taken in natural sunlight, and I edited it a smidge- a little darkening so the black looks black, and a little sharpening in an attempt to bring the stitches into focus. The goofy shaped photo was taken with a flash, while draped on the back of my sofa. The draping-on-sofa resulted in it having a distorted look, so my applying the distortion was actually an attempt at making the picture display the piece properly as a nice square. I also darkened it a bit so the black is black.

(not sure why sunlight and flash both wash things out. hm. can you tell I am not a pro photographer? LOL)

I’ll be sure to post picture(s) once it has been properly framed. That may be a while, but it is a certain thing (like death. and taxes.)

I may try to take a better photo one of these days- natural light, tripod, etc. Pardon the glaring flash spot, and the other reflection bits. I have nothing but positive things to say about having needlework framed at a professional frame shop. The people we took this piece to have been framing for decades. It’s a good thing it takes me more than a year to complete a large piece though, because quality framing with UV glass and custom bits is expensive. But worth it. If a person figures out the total hours they put into stitching a piece, and multiplies that by a reasonable wage to be paid for the work, plus cost of materials, then it only makes sense to put the money into quality framing. 🙂 ok ok, enough with the chatter, here’s the pictures:

Among the Roses

Aug 24, 2006
Some time ago I finished my rendition of Just Nan’s “Among the Roses”. (I switched the colors from the pinks listed, to blues. I like pink sometimes, but it’s really not my “thing”.) I’m quite pleased with the result of the framing. It was very interesting to see how the needlework changed depending on which paper background I laid it upon. I didn’t think to take photos at the time…

I found a small frame, with square glass! (harder than you’d think. Most frames I’ve seen have a rectangular area.) And then I got out my scrapbooking supplies and played. I’d thought about getting “proper” matting, but decided to just have fun with scissors and such.

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