Kit assembly line (and one more bookmark)

Yay! My bulk purchase of felt tags has arrived, and very colourful it looks too. I’ve checked them all and although there are a few thin bits here and there they’ll probably all be usable; two are a bit doubtful, but if I use them myself for producing bookmarks rather than making them part of a kit I think they’ll be all right.

My bulk purchase of felt tags

As you may have noticed from the picture above, there’s a new shade on the block. I included two Apple Green tags in my order, just to find out what colour it was in real life! It turns out to be a pleasantly bright shade, certainly not mossy like the photograph on Blooming Felt’s website but neither, fortunately, quite so lurid as the soft cotton picture that was said to match it. There is no suitable Anchor Multicolor shade for it though, so I won’t get any more but just stitch these two up for charity using Caron Wildflowers.

Apple Green felt tags with Caron thread

Putting kits together is a time-consuming activity, so the easier it can be made the better I like it. One effective time-saving strategy is to make lots rather than one at a time (“lots” in the context of Mabel’s Fancies meaning about two dozen). So I printed out 24 sets of instructions, attached 24 cover photographs, put 48 gold-plated needles into 24 pieces of felt, cut 24 squares of fabric and all the threads needed and here is my kit assembly line (well, assembly coffee table) before the felt tags had come in – doesn’t it look colourful? As you can see I had just started on cutting the threads for the bookmark tassels. Twelve of these kits are for next year’s Knitting & Stitching Show, the others will go on sale on the website after I’ve returned from this year’s show.

The bookmark kit assembly line

And finally one more felt tag bookmark – the first one with a cross instead of a square motif.

Felt tag bookmark with a cross motif

Mini kits

A small new venture on the website this week – I’ve added a set of mini kits to the Specials page. When setting up Mabel’s Fancies I decided against kits on the grounds that so many of my designs can be stitched on a variety of fabrics using a variety of threads and colours, and that chart packs give each stitcher the opportunity to pick and choose from the various suggestions, or even to go for something altogether different.

On the other hand, if you’re a beginner you might like to get a small, simple kit so that you can try and see if Hardanger is your cup of tea without having to buy all the materials.

So I got to thinking; what would my requirements for such a mini kit be?

  • The design should be small, simple and relatively quick to stitch
  • The instructions would have to be more detailed than for a regular chart pack, with notes on starting with a waste knot and so on
  • It should include the most common stitches in Hardanger
  • It must not look like a "practice piece" – it should be something that you’d want to stitch in its own right
  • It would be great if the project could be turned into something useful
  • It wouldn’t be practical to include scissors or a hoop, but apart from that it should contain everything needed both for stitching and for finishing
  • And it must come with a decent-sized piece of fabric! None of those little scraps you sometimes get which you can’t possibly get into a hoop
  • Ideally it would also appeal to experienced stitchers, for example as a "quick stitch" between larger projects

Well, one project that I’ve been using as part of my teaching fitted the bill beautifully – the needle matchbook!

Matchbook needle keeper

I charted three versions of the design, so that the three kits cover most of the basic stitches in Hardanger: Kloster blocks; woven, wrapped and double wrapped bars; dove’s eye, square filet and spider’s web. Then I adapted the stitch descriptions to be as explicit as possible about every step in the stitching process. I worked out how much perle cotton would be needed, and what size fabric would be comfortable to work with. And finally I wrote extra instructions for turning the three designs into a bookmark – no reason why you should stitch them only once!

So if you’ve never tried Hardanger before but would like to give it a go, here’s your chance – and remember, in the unlikely event that you get stuck, I’m only an email away.