Notes on a simplified coaster

Right, so I’ve been doing some coaster stitching (it’s remarkable how much you can get done in a hospital waiting room, on the London Underground, or at an Austin Seven auction!) to try out my various ideas for quick-to-stitch coasters for charity. Definitely stick with the smaller central cut motif – it really is very versatile, and makes for a nice lacy, Hardanger-y look without too much cutting or bar wrapping.

First I tried the design without a coloured border (I also left out the four stitches in the corners of the Hardanger motif). It’s probably a matter of taste, but to me it just doesn’t look quite right; it’s not defined enough. It’s also a little on the small side. Both problems were addressed by adding a simple coloured cross stitch border, and I do think it looks more complete that way, but perhaps a little too big. Also the leaf stitch seems a bit too chunky for the smaller central motif, although their shape, as always, is very pleasing, and the whole thing did actually look OK once I put it in its coaster. I do like the effect of using Caron Wildflowers thread for the wrapped bars and picots; it adds a nice splash of colour to the centre. I’ll keep this design as a possible – not ideal, but definitely usable.

Simplified design without border

Simplified design with border

Keep those coloured picots, then, and back to the drawing board for the other bits. Using a smaller corner motif means we can move the border in by a few threads, bringing the whole design down to 60 stitches square while retaining that finished feel of a coloured frame holding the whole design together. But can I do something a bit different from simple crosses? How about a little “bird’s foot” of three stitches? I decided to try it out using some of that stunningly colourful Threadworx perle called Bradley’s Balloons. The chain stitch diamond and the border certainly looked very cheerful, and the smaller heart motifs in the corners worked well too, but I felt the thread was just a little too bright for wrapped bars and picots. Cheerful and bright is good, but we don’t want to produce coasters that are a health hazard to the eyes. So for this one I decided to go with white wrapped bars and coloured sunburst. Future coasters will use slightly more muted threads.

Simplified design with border and hearts

And another thing, not everyone likes hearts. Some people actively dislike hearts. (In designs, that is. I assume they have nothing against them biologically.) Coasters, like bookmarks, are useful presents to give to men, or so I’ve been told by several ladies who confessed it was almost impossible to buy presents for their menfolk; but people might feel coasters with hearts make less suitable man presents. An alternative design was therefore called for, about the size of the hearts but of a different shape. I decided on three small satin stitch leaves. While charting this variation I also lengthened the middle “toe” in the bird’s foot border, just to see what that would look like. Well, it looks like this smiley:

Simplified design with border and small leaves

I like both these designs, and will very likely use them alternately – hearts and small leaves, picots and sunbursts and spider’s webs. Of the borders I have a definite preference for the long-toed one. One day I will also try solid colours, to see if the coasters still look pretty and decorative when using standard, non-variegated threads (but with so many lovely variegated threads to choose from, it may be a while before I get round to the solids…). And, because recently I’ve got kits on the brain, I’m having a look at which design and which threads would work best for a coaster kit, and whether to include one or two coasters. Plus, of course, whether I can put them together for a price people are willing to pay while still making a bit of profit!

Leave a comment or ask a question