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Embroidery

Embroidery Handmade

Dear Daisy Mouse {handmade}

05/05/2017

A lot of what I make is practical.  It’s also beautiful, because I don’t believe in spending my time and energy on something I can’t stand to look at, but quilts keep you warm on the nights when your children steal all of the duvet, crochet blankets are there to snuggly up under and be comforted, socks are to keep toes cosy, and jumpers, hats, shawls and mittens all do there thing.

But every now and then it’s nice to be a little bit frivolous, and make something for no other reason than it’s fun.  It’s why I’m a huge fan of magazine cover kits; you get to have a little play with a whatever it is (macrame, crochet, leatherwork and the rest) in between the big projects.

Space for the Butterflies - Daisy Mouse, Cross Stitcher Magazine

I don’t make every kit on every magazine I buy, and I’m saving a good boxful for when the kids get to an age where they can do most of it themselves, but this little mousie was straight to the top of the list.

According to the instructions (in CrossStitcher) this was about 4 hours sewing.  They give a time estimate for most of their projects in terms of hours stitching and I’d always wondered how accurate it was, and how much buffer they put in for people going slowly or making mistakes, much as the designer of a knitting pattern will put a little buffer into the calculations of how much yarn you need for each size.

I started stitching at Easter.  I stitched and I stitched.

Space for the Butterflies - Daisy Mouse, Cross Stitcher Magazine

And I stitched and I stitched.

Space for the Butterflies - Daisy Mouse, Cross Stitcher Magazine

And four hours came and went.

Space for the Butterflies - Daisy Mouse, Cross Stitcher Magazine

And I stitched and I stitched. For probably 8 hours in total. Clearly there is no buffer in cross stitch time estimates for a stitcher who has to hop up every couple of minutes to kiss a knee better or have lengthy conversations about why we do not encourage our little brother into the latest of his crazy escapades.

Space for the Butterflies - Daisy Mouse, Cross Stitcher Magazine

In terms of construction, Daisy is embroidered flat on two sides, then they’re cut out and machine sewed together around the top curve.  The felt at the bottom was handstitched on with blanket stitch and she was stuffed with a little toy filling.  For a pincushion it would make her a bit too bouncy and wobbly, but then she was never going to be a pin cushion.  I left off the whiskers because they would never survive the kids, but she got a plaited tail as well as her little pink ears.

Space for the Butterflies - Daisy Mouse, Cross Stitcher Magazine

Which is how I learned just how much of a miracle it is that our ears line up in the right places, and so do all the ones on the various teddies around our house.  Ears are hard.  First one would go up, and then the other would wobble down, and then they’d be giving her the most extraordinary expression, and in the end I had to have both firmly skewered in place with some pins before I could get them to behave.  Even so, they’re still a little off – sorry Daisy.

Space for the Butterflies - Daisy Mouse, Cross Stitcher Magazine

But wonky or not, the kids love her.  Kitty asked every day for a week whether she was finished, and when we headed out on our walk this morning, Pip carried her around as he sat up on my back, and made sure she sniffed the lilac tree just as we always do.

Space for the Butterflies - Daisy Mouse, Cross Stitcher Magazine

In time she will become a bit battered, and maybe some of the stitching on her nose will need doing over, but as long as she is loved I think we can all cope with a little mud.

 

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Embroidery Handmade

Scandi Love {handmade}

17/02/2017

Space for the Butterflies - Scandi Love embroidery from Mollie Makes Magazine

This right here is my version of grown up colouring in books. I can see the pretty pictures, and you’ll never have to convince me of the merits of having lots of pretty coloured pens to hand, but the motivation to sit down and colour in a picture has always eluded me. But give me fabric with a pretty pattern, needles and the most perfectly spring like colours of thread and I need no second invitation.

The Mollie Makes cover kit this month is one of my favourites, possibly ever, and I’ve been itching to get started on it every day that it’s been propped up on my desk at home.

I think it’s the simplicity of it, I don’t need to look at a pattern or count stitches, or overthink it in any way shape or form; this isn’t precision fine art embroidery but good chunky painting with needle and thread, filling in each little leaf step by step until before you realise it there’s a beautiful little heart looking back at you.

It made me wonder whether actually I wasn’t too far off the mark to start with, maybe this was the adult colouring book of its day? The Crinoline Lady in her gardens of flowers first became popular around 1900 and continued to be reissued in all her various forms right through the 1920s and 30s.  She got a bit of a slating from the historians for being more artistic than accurate but a trend that lasts 30 years makes colouring in look like a flash in the pan.

Space for the Butterflies - Scandi Love embroidery from Mollie Makes Magazine

The patterns that would turn up over and over again in different colours and layout and I can’t imagine that the conversation between sewers would have changed much from then to any sewing-a-long today: “which bit have you got to?”, “what colour are you doing that bit?”, “I’ve finished the flowers but I’m not so sure I like the colours, do you think I should unpick it?” The more things change….

Fun though I think the crinoline ladies must have been, there’s not quite my style for a finished item (though I loved the Garden Party quilt that Jane Brocket made from cut up embroidered table cloths) so I will happily embrace a bit of brightly coloured scandi style as the up to date version of a hollyhock or two.

I had a plan to take a photo as each leaf or petal was added and make them into an Instagram story; I made the story (and if you’re quick you might just get to see it) but I just kept getting caught up in the sewing and forgetting to take pictures, so there are a few big jumps!

Space for the Butterflies - Scandi Love embroidery from Mollie Makes Magazine

As far as the sewing process goes, it really is just sewing what you want where you want, and though I’ve copied the colours of the pattern mine looks nothing like the one on the cover, nor any of the half dozen others I’ve seen on Instagram.  The pink frame came with the kit, it’s a little looser on the fabric than one of my normal wooden hoops so I used a bigger hoop while I was sewing and then sewed the finished heart into the pink frame by running a couple of rounds of gathering stitches around the leftover fabric and pulling it tight on the back and it all sits nice and snug and doesn’t want to go anywhere.

The only real question now is where we’re going to put it; I think both girls would mount a serious campaign for it to be theirs, and I’m wondering whether it would brighten up my very very beige pinboard at work. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a little more embroidery.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Embroidery Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Knitting

A pair of Urchins {handmade for Kitty and Elma}

20/01/2017

Every now and then I knit something entirely on a whim.

For the most part, my knitting planning runs far far ahead of my fingers’ ability to keep up, as does my sewing and quilting planning for that matter.  Right now I have three projects on the needles, including my big crochet blanket, and the next seven projects lined up ready and waiting.  Even if I haven’t bought all the yarn I need for all of them yet, I know what they’ll be and in what order.  But of course  no one likes being told what to do, even when you’re the one telling yourself, and a little rearranging of the plan is in order.

Space for the Butterflies - Urchin by Ysolda Teague in Rowan Big Wool

So it was with these Urchins.  The initial whim was about wanting to make sure I’d put as much time into Kitty’s handmade Christmas as I had in knitting Elma a cardigan.  When what look to be a relatively simple skort still took me all day to put together, I realised that was silly, and shelved the three rows of hat in favour of getting as much of John’s Christmas socks done before the big day.

But after Christmas, and searching around for a nice portable project to take up to my inlaws as car and chatting knitting, I picked it back up again.  Kitty’s hat whizzed off the needles and was finished while we were there, and while Elma had to wait for me to get home to cast on, smaller hats take less time.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a photo project for 2017

Both hats are loved, both hats are worn, and both hats are left at school and so I need to nip back to my Siblings photos for this month for the only evidence of the girls wearing their hats at the same time.

Each hat is knit from one ball of Rowan Big Wool, in I think the colour Champion, at least that looks the nearest on the shade card.  This is moderately deep stash yarn, easily from before the children, saved waiting for a perfect project, and it works brilliantly for Urchin.

Space for the Butterflies - Urchin by Ysolda Teague in Rowan Big Wool

It’s not a hard pattern to knit; you make petal shapes knitting back and forth and graft the ends to make a hat, but like every other Ysolda pattern I’ve made, it’s very clever, and what at the first petal looks incredibly strange, turns into a beautiful beret shaped hat before you know it.

And with that little detour out of the way, I’m back to my plans as before. Well almost.  Because if I’m being honest here, the person who has worn both of these hats the most is a certain tiny wee boy named Pip.  He tried on Kitty’s and it was too big, he tried on Elma’s but it was too beloved by Elma, and then he looked up at me, in firm belief in the power of his Mama’s needles, and said the immortal words: “where mine hat Mama?!”

I’m going to have to do some stash diving for something suitable I suspect – any pattern recommendations?

Also coming under the finish line this week is the first of my Christmas tree decorations for 2017.  Yes really.  Every Christmas I end up collecting a handful of cross stitch and papercraft magazines with gorgeous little cover kits and I swear that I’m going to make them over Christmas and then get far too caught up in the actual getting ready for Christmas and usually some high speed finishing of the Christmas presents to sit down to do a little truly indulgent making.

Space for the Butterflies - Cross Stitcher Cover Kit

Starting in the autumn never works because of a proliferation of birthdays and even Christmas in July passed me by so I’m sewing for Christmas in January.  This is the first that I’ve finished, the cover kit from November’s Cross Stitcher, and even if my sewing up isn’t quite perfect, I love how it turned out.  Now all I have to do is not loose it before next December!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Embroidery Family Finished Handmade

The flowers that bloom in the Spring {handmade}

18/03/2016

Cross stitch was my gateway craft.  My mum used to stitch and I can still remember the first time she bought a kit for us. It must have been the Christmas holidays because it was a little kit for a poinsettia picture, framed inside a dark green card.  She bought the kit, some extra fabric and cards and matched the threads from her little stash kept in a slightly warped Tupperware bacon box, and we all sat around the big table in my sister’s bedroom and started stitching.  I was hooked from the start. It was like painting by numbers, only with fabric and thread, and from then on I would stitch kits and projects from the covers of magazines and then I started on bigger pictures, and finishing off some of Mum’s projects – the embroidered band that went around our Christmas cake and a picture of flowers falling into a pool she called “weeping hysteria”.

But as I grow older and spent more time commuting on trains, and rediscovered my love of knitting, cross stitch has rather fallen by the wayside; it’s not as easy to do on the train, and at home it’s harder to stitch, keep one eye on the kids and hope that they don’t run off with your pattern than it is to knit with one or both eyes up!

But I’ve not quite given up, and something really special can always tempt me away from the yarn.

Enter onto my screen the lovely Alicia Paulson’s spring pattern releases.  I love the crochet animals, the lamb especially, and I’m sure that at some point in the not too distant future my little trio may end up with a bunny or a lamb, but it was the little Spring Ring that really called to me.

Beautiful colours, silky soft linen to stitch on, and a sheep; what’s not to like.  So I ordered the kit and by the miracle of international shipping it winged its way a third of the way around the globe (ish) and plopped through my letter box.

Now this is not the first kit that I’ve ordered from Alicia.  I have, in my stash, a kit to make a Miss Maggie Rabbit for each of my girls and two if not three of the Christmas ornament sets.  It’s not that I don’t love them and want to make them, I do, I think they’re absolutely beautiful and I want to do them justice and make them perfect, and I know that when I’ve made them they will be gone.  Does anyone else save things that they know they’re going to love making, or making with, because they don’t want them to be gone?

But the other day I watched the girls playing with a sheet of stickers I’d brought home for them.  They were so excited to have them and they jumped straight in; making pictures and moving the stickers around and then sticking them on themselves and their teddies.  And the stickers were gone, but they really didn’t care, they’d had so much fun playing with them.  So when this little kit arrived I didn’t let it anywhere near the studio; I put it on a dresser shelf, and when the children were all happily playing something that didn’t require too much of my involvement I sat down in a patch of sunshine and started to sew.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Ring Embroidery

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Ring Embroidery

An afternoon and a few evenings later, and here it is.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Ring Embroidery

Entirely as the pattern states, right down to the pretty blue felt on the back.

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Ring Embroidery

I loved stitching it, as I knew I would, it felt like a real treat to be sitting down each evening to choose which colour to go for next, and I have rather neglected both the knitting and the quilting in its making.

But as every member of the household who can speak in sentences has made a bid for it to be theirs I think it might just have been worth it. And for the record, it’s mine, all mine, even if I haven’t quite worked out where to hang it.

And perhaps it will be an incentive to pull some of those other kits back out of the stash, because I don’t think I mind too much that it’s all gone, although I am very very much hoping that this might be the start of a series of rings and that Summer, Autumn and Winter might come to follow Spring (fingers crossed)

Space for the Butterflies - Spring Ring Embroidery

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Embroidery Family Finished Handmade Knitting Work in Progress

Stardust {handmade in a tent}

04/09/2015

I knit most of my way around Europe.  I’m lucky that because I can knit fairly simple projects without having to look at the needles it doesn’t make me either car sick or miss out on the world flying past the windows and so most of my craft storage space more commonly known as the passenger footwell was filled with yarny projects, with small and appropriate spots left for my feet.

One of the projects you’ve already seen modelled by the birthday boy and the other is still a knit in progress and destined for a certain somone’s fifth birthday.  It’s not a secret knit, she came to choose the yarn (Malabrigo Rios in Purpuras) and had some very decided views on the pattern (more on which another time) so I wasn’t trying to knit inside a pillowcase or only late late at night when the girls had fallen asleep.  I think if I tried to knit a completely secret present it would stand a nearly 100% chance of not being finished on time.

I’m on the first sleeve now so I’m in with a good shout of the finish line.

But when I was doing my craft packing I wanted to mix it up a little, to have something in hand for the days when it might just be too hot, too sticky, or too muddy to drape yourself in thick squishy wool.  I thought about a little hand piecing, or another mini quilt, or something to play with the piles of felt that the girls gave me for my birthday, but by this point it was nearing midnight on the night before we left and so I turned once more to my seemingly inexhaustable supply of Mollie Makes cover kits.  And there near the top was the kit from issue 53.

What could be more perfect than sitting under the stars stitching an embroidery of the night sky. Into the bag it went.

Space for the Butterflies

The thing I forgot about the night skies is that when you’re camping, they’re dark.  Some are darker than others, depending on whether the campsite has lighting and whether that light is a distant glimmer (Annecy) or your second moon (Merville-Franceville until 11pm when it was abruptly turned off) but when the sun had smouldered over the horizon it really wasn’t the time for embroidery.

And so I knit and watched the night sky.  Watched star after star after star appear from the deep, watched the plough chart a steady course across the sky as the earth twirled beneath it, watched for meteors and saw mostly aeroplanes and once something that I thought was an aeroplane holding oddly steady in the sky but turned out to be a village half way up a mountain.

Space for the Butterflies

And in the quiet of the early morning I stitched.  It should come as no surprise that I chose the pattern to reflect what we were seeing, though the other two are beautiful (and might have to be added to the collection at some point).

Back home this last week I finally finished it off.  We used to use rubber faux wood roll frames for mini cross stitches and Christmas tree decorations when I was little and we always finished those off but slicing away the fabric as close to the frame as possible, but this is much cleverer;

 

Space for the Butterflies

I cut away the corners of my blue square, then sliced them into strips and then used a liberal application of fabric glue to frame and fabric to pull them over and stick them to the back.  It’s given it a really neat finish and I shall use it again when I’m framing in a hoop.

And now I just need to find a good spot to hang it.  Kitty made the first claim, and I’m seriously considering putting in a row of hooks just above her headboard to show off all her latest treasures and curios, so it could go there.  But then Elma declared undying love for it and actually, it might go rather nicely in Pip’s room so at the moment it’s travelling.

Space for the Butterflies

Either I’ll decide where it goes, or I’ll be making a couple more!

PS. If you are making the kit, the “everything you need” on the front of the packet should read “everything you need except for the carbon tracing paper you need for the first step”. Carbon tracing paper not being widely available in French campsites I just copy sketched it freehand with a blue ink pen and it was absolutely fine.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Frontier Dreams