Category Archives: cross stitch

A visitor and some cross stitch minis

My brother visited earlier this month and we had a good time hanging out. He brought the cross stitch designs I stitched for my mom back in the mid-90s. They’re done in her colors and she displayed them in her dining room. After she died, my dad said he didn’t mind if I had them.

Now I need to make two decisions: where to hang them in my house and whether or not to replace the pink matboards. Although I like pink, I think those two look dated. Anyway, here they are:

The designs are from the Just*Nan Ornamental Treasures collection and include

Nosegay

Snowberries

Rosebuds

Victorian Floral

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Fall cross stitch

One set of cross stitched fall fingertip towels: DONE!

Designed by Jane Chandler.

Designed by Jane Chandler.

Thanks for dropping by!

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I found Chocolate

For three months I have been looking for a picture I cross stitched 35 years ago. I had gone through boxes and bins in our storage room several times, an exercise that always ended in frustration and anxiousness when it didn’t turn up. John was a good sport and checked boxes in the garage again, even though we were both pretty sure that the picture wasn’t there.

Lasts week I found it—and as you would expect, it was right in front of my nose. I had stored it in one of the upper laundry room cabinets before our move to keep it safe—too safe, apparently.

chocolate

I found it by accident as we were putting stuff away in the laundry room after the builder finished resizing one of the cabinets in order to make room for our refrigerator—which means we were oblivious to it when we took it out of the cabinet (it was wrapped in clean newsprint). How embarrassing is that?

Here is Chocolate’s companion:

ice-cream

I was new to cross stitching way back then and thought they were so cute. I had visions of them in my first apartment and they have hung in the eating area of every place we have lived since John and I got married. I still enjoy them and would never consider replacing them.

As much as I wanted to hang them, instead, John and I took them apart.

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After our experience with John’s grandmother’s needlework, we decided to fix these two and one other—and be done with framing issues.

Sure enough, the same damaging techniques had been used: staples, masking tape and strapping tape.

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The framer used masking tape around all four edges of the cross stitch fabric, most likely to keep them from raveling.

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Holding the masking tape in place was strapping tape with a killer adhesive—one that did not fully come out after soaking and washing.

Cringe-worthy.

Cringe-worthy.

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Skeptical, I applied some stain remover to the edges and then washed them in a mild dish soap and cool water, followed by lots and lots of rinsing (until the water was clear) to make sure all soap residue was gone.

The stain remover didn’t improve much, but I had to try.

The stain remover didn’t improve much, but I had to try.

I refrained from pressing anything because the framer will want to try her magic first. Here’s Chocolate ready to go:

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Close up of stitching.

Close up of stitching.

Here’s Ice Cream:

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Close up of stitching.

Close up of stitching.

After un-framing Chocolate and Ice Cream, we tackled one last picture: a sampler I stitched 19 years ago which was framed by someone other than the framer I use now. We uncovered more physical damage than expected due to heavy duty staples driven into the fabric, which had a loose weave to begin with:

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The sampler was mounted on a piece of foam core which had been covered with a piece of polyester batting.

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The batting was stuck to the foam core with spray adhesive, something my framer would never use anywhere near needlework. Instead, she secures the needlework to an acid-free board by lacing it across the back. This is a more labor intensive (and costly) technique, but much better for longevity.

Framing points were used to hold the board mounted with the sampler inside the frame, and one of them cut a nice sized hole in the fabric:

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So much for the tedious hem stitching I did to keep the project from raveling while I worked on it.

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The other surprise cropped up when I washed it. The picture doesn’t show the true depth of the color, but the water turned seriously yellow, like someone had peed in it.

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Then John came in to show me the glass, which had a nice imprint of the stitched design on it, an indication that no spacers were used to keep the needlework from touching the glass.

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Here is the sampler soaking in the washtub. You can see 19 years’ worth of fading here, showing how important it is to select a glass that offers UV protection.

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When John saw the yellow water and examined the glass again, he wondered if the framer had starched the sampler. We’ll never know, but it might explain why this piece always looked so faded to me so early on. I always thought it was because of light exposure, but now I’m not so sure.

As bad as all this seems, I take comfort in the framer’s statement to me when she was working on John’s grandmother’s needlework: “I’ve seen worse.”

I’ve been off and on mopey since we had to leave Colorado and move back to Houston, but when stuff like this comes up, I am very grateful to have a reputable framer in my back yard. It will be a comfort to know that when these framing mistakes have been corrected, barring a fire or natural disaster, no more harm can come to these family heirlooms.

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Cross stitch planning

With the window coverings installed, John and I finally hung some pictures. It got me motivated to start working on the cross stitch piece in honor of my next milestone birthday in 2017. I stitched this sampler 20 years ago:

sampler

I stitched this design of a Baltimore Album quilt 10 years ago:

When I’m not making quilts, I’m cross stitching them!

When I’m not making quilts, I’m cross stitching them!

For 2017, I chose this:

It’s called And A Garden Grew, designed by Karen Kluba of Rosewood Manor. I found it online when hunting for a sampler project and fell instantly in love. It’s a large piece, with a stitch area of 18″ x 18″.

The recommended ground cloth for it is 32-count Belfast linen which has been hand dyed to achieve a mottled look:

Belfast linen

The pattern for it is contained in a 24-page booklet divided into 20 sections and calls for 121 unique floss colors—which is why I need to start it this year if there is any hope of finishing it next year.

One aspect of the design that I did not care for was the text:

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.

by Henry Ward Beecher.

I wanted a poem instead, and found this one written by 19th century English poet Thomas Hood.

‘Tis like the birthday of the world,

When earth was born in bloom;

The light is made of many dyes,

The air is all perfume:

There’s crimson buds, and white and blue,

The very rainbow showers

Have turned to blossoms where they fell,

And sown the earth with flowers.

Over the weekend, I spent time with a mechanical pencil, eraser, and 10-to-the-inch graph paper in an attempt to chart it, after searching through my cross stitch books and magazines for a suitable alphabet that would fit in the space both vertically and horizontally.

poem

Lines 5 and 7 were super long, so there was some serious kerning to do. I finally got them fitted into the space, although I will have to move or remove some of the bees, butterflies and other creatures in that section, which I’m okay with.

Last night I finished kerning the other 6 lines, which included modifying the descender on the letter f, dotting the letter i instead of using the slanted line, and looping the descender for the letter p in line 4.

poem revised

Can’t wait to start stitching!

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A cross stitch tip

Activity at work has been slow so I took a couple days off to finish cleaning out our other house to get it ready to sell. Yawn.

Throughout our move and over Memorial Day weekend, I still made time for cross stitching, so I thought I would show you the progress on my latest project.

cross stitch1

I finally figured out how to organize and keep track of floss colors for a project that requires a lot of color changes. It’s so simple and easy, I wonder why it took so long. It’s worked really well, so I’m sharing it today with the hope that it might work for you.

You will need

  • ordinary copy/printer paper
  • a pen
  • needles (one for each floss color)

Cut a sheet of paper into rectangles, roughly 3″ x 4″. The number of rectangles you need depends on the number of floss colors required for the project. For my project, I needed 21. Take the chart supplied for your project and copy each symbol, color number and description onto your paper rectangles, one color per rectangle.

Gather all your floss skeins, cut a 12″ to 18″ length from each one, separate the strands, thread a needle with each color and stick it into the paper rectangle marked with that color.

cross stitch2

With all your needles loaded and ready to go, you can easily find the paper with the color you need and start stitching.

One advantage has been no more needles lost in the arm of the sofa. But the biggest advantage is no more confusion over shades (light, medium, dark) of a particular color because the needle with each shade always has a place to live when you’re not stitching with it and it’s always labeled.

The two colors marked P and N look different enough in the photo but when they are stitched right next to each other, it is almost impossible to see the difference.

The two colors marked P and N look different enough in the photo but when they are stitched right next to each other, it is almost impossible to see the difference.

Have fun today, whatever you might be doing.

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Work, play, and a sewing room preview

A week after he was discharged from the hospital, John and I went to the house where he talked me through the installation of the shelves for the pantry and sewing room.

pantry

I did one closet in the sewing room and got two rows up in the pantry and then finished the rest by myself the next weekend.

sewing closet1

The shelves in the sewing room are for fabric and batting. They are only 8 inches deep, perfect for holding fabric wrapped on a bolt, which is how I store cuts equal to or greater than 2 yards. Most quilt shops are happy to give away empty bolts; all you need to do is ask.

sewing closet2

In the meantime, the mantel for the outdoor fireplace was installed

outdoor fireplace

and over the weekend I made time for some serious cross stitching. I stuffed my beanbag chair, cross stitch project and iPod into the car and unloaded them at the house. Upstairs in the front bedroom, the light is exceptional and I was amazed at how much progress I made.

cross stich1

cross stitch2

 

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Cross stitch = therapy

My house building sentiment for this past week: ARRRGHGHGH!

We submitted our stain sample to the builder more than 90 days ago on August 5. We’re not sure why the builder waited until the stain crew started our job to begin a sample on an actual cabinet door, but by the end of the week we were mired in a who’s-on-first scenario, followed by a request for additional money because it was “last-minute,” (no kidding, but not our problem), ending with a complete over-reaction by our rep who insisted we re-submit everything we’d communicated so far on the subject of stain and paint.

Thank goodness for cross stitch!

When the boys were home last summer, they were good sports and helped move boxes around upstairs so I could locate one that had cross stitch supplies. It didn’t take long before I found a kit I’d purchased several years ago called Olivia’s Garden Quilt by Linda Bird. I prepped the ground cloth, 28-count antique white Cashel Linen, and stitched a tiny bit of the border. Unfortunately, we were so busy with the house then, nothing more happened with it.

In the last four to six weeks, however, I’ve been stitching a fair amount on the weekend and a few evenings after work. I am really enjoying my therapy time: unplugged, quiet, peaceful. Today, I finally decided I had a big enough section completed to share with you:

cross stitch

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