A DIY needle minder and a jewelled cross

Last Saturday I put together an impromptu needle minder inspired by the pretty and varied collection produced by Cirrus Creations, who is a fellow member of the Cross Stitch Forum. I already had two (one for my needles and one for my stork scissors), but they hardly deserve the fancy name of needle minder, being simply two small disc magnets. Very useful, perfectly adequate, but not, let’s face it, terribly attractive. Moreover they are not like properly made needle minders as they have no second magnet to back them, so you can’t secure them to your fabric; mine are stuck to my Lowery stand, which is made of metal.

Then I remembered a pair of ceramic buttons I bought at the 2013 Knitting & Stitching Show. I must admit they were a bit of an impulse buy, as I had no particular purpose in mind for them. A rummage through my box of bits and they quickly emerged, one round, one square. My husband uses small, very strong self-adhesive magnets to put into drain plugs (apparently it collects any stray bits of metal floating around in the sump or the petrol tank or wherever the drain plug is) and was happy for me to pinch one, plus a non-magnetic guard. The magnet was soon attached, and I now have a proper needle minder which happens to go very well with the fabric for Orpheus II.

A ceramic button bought at the 2013 Knitting & Stitching Show A small self-adhesive magnet, and a metal guard The needle minder in action

Yesterday at our morning service we welcomed three people into church membership, and all three happened to be members of our bi-weekly Bible study group. This called for celebratory cards! And my husband very rightly suggested that hand-made ones would be appropriate. A little cross, probably; not the little Hardanger one, though; white with only a little metallic, it seems more suitable for baptisms and weddings or even sympathy cards. For this occasion I wanted something bright and festive. How about one completely stitched in Petite Treasure Braid? All my PTB threads are in the little default box by my stitching chair (you never know when you might suddenly want a bit of sparkle) and from it I picked out gold, red, blue, green and purple. In the end the purple didn’t get used, but it may well be if I stitch this again for another occasion.

Three Welcome-into-the-church cards A jewelled cross

Having stitched the three crosses pretty much by eye from a quick pencil sketch and the memory of the Hardanger cross, I decided to chart it for future use, and to put it on the website as a freebie. It’s funny – I’m so used to drawing Hardanger charts (where the lines are the fabric threads and the squares are the holes) that I unthinkingly drew this one in the same way, before realising that backstitch charts are usually like cross stitch ones (where the squares in the chart are the fabric thread intersections over which a cross stitch would be made, and the intersections of the lines on the chart are the holes in the fabric). In the end I drew both, so every stitcher can pick the one that suits her best. (From this FoF post, that is; to keep things simple only one chart, the cross stitch style one, is available on the Freebie page. That one also lists the PTB numbers I used.) Have fun experimenting with colours and threads – you could have a silver-and-amethyst cross, or a copper-and-emerald one, or anything you like!

Jewelled Cross chart, cross stitch style Jewelled Cross chart, Hardanger style

A panic project

After several months spent stitching mostly for the Song of the Weather SAL, I felt I’d like to get my teeth into something a little bigger for a change, so I got out my 12″ hoop and the chart for Walled Garden. It’s stitched with nothing but Caron threads (and some beads), and I love the way they look together on that empty and expectant fabric.

Fabric & threads for Walled Garden

Last Sunday I was putting together a project folder for it so I could take it to my stitching group on Monday, when realisation dawned on me and panic set in – it was less than a week to my father-in-law’s 90th birthday, and not a single stitch had been worked on his birthday card yet! The Walled Garden project folder was abandoned, and I charted “90” using 1-2-3 and my husband picked a shade of Caron thread to suit his father’s taste: 236 Appalachia, a striking combination of green, purple and blue. Thinking it might get a bit too psychedelic if I used it for the border as well as the numbers, I looked for a slightly calmer shade to match it, and found it in an orphaned bobbin of Impressions (Caron’s silk/wool mix) 66 Jade. In fact they go so well together that I may have to add a skein of Watercolours and Wildflowers in that shade to my collection!

For the border I decided on four-sided stitch embellished with beads (a combination I may well add to the 1-2-3 chart pack as it looks quite effective). Unfortunately the number of squares in the border meant I couldn’t do alternate beads, nor a bead every 3 or 4 squares; and a bead in every square would just be too much. Some furious mental arithmetic and pencil scribbling resulted in a sequence of 2 beads followed by 3 empty squares, with a slight variation in the corners.

At one point yesterday I sincerely wished I’d never thought of including beads – on my way home from stitching group the bead container came undone, spilling its entire contents into every nook and cranny of the project folder and the cotton bag I was transporting it in. There are a lot of beads even in a tiny container. But with the help of my husband and fortified with a mug of tea I managed to round them all up, and apart from the ones now adorning the four-sided stitch border they are all safely back in my bead tin.

Now all that remains to be done is the cutting and the bars and filling stitches. For the latter Petite Treasure Braid seemed a nice festive touch – but which one? Gold or Silver? A straw poll at the stitching group ended in a draw, so I’ll mull it over for a bit; for now I have a vague preference for silver, possibly because of the blues in the thread and the bright white fabric. I’ll post the final version some time after the weekend, but here is the uncut version.

A 90th Birthday card