Model stitching for the SAL – a snag

There are various reasons for stitching a model before releasing a design. With the SAL, one of them is that I need to work out how much thread is needed for each month (and preferably do that before 1st November…), but even when that is not an issue it’s a good idea to stitch something before allowing it out into the real world. The main reason is that you can do things on paper which you can’t do on fabric. On at least one occasion I managed to draw something that looked lovely, just what I wanted, but which was actually impossible to stitch. And I do mean impossible – if you’d tried to work it as originally drawn, you’d be undoing the first half of the stitch with the second half.

And even when it isn’t that disastrous, it is good to remember that a design on paper never looks exactly like that same design worked in thread on fabric. For one thing, Kloster blocks look beautifully square in my design program, and while in theory they should be, considering the number of threads they cover vertically and horizontally, in practice a Kloster block is a rectangle, narrower in the direction of the stitches than across.

Kloster blocks on a chart Kloster blocks on fabric

Normally I have this in the back of my mind and sort of compensate for it while designing; but one of the SAL designs has what you might call a “floating” Kloster block, one that doesn’t border on a cut area but is only there to balance things out. On paper, where all the Kloster blocks are square, it works just fine. Stitched, I’m not so sure. The design consists of two identical halves, so I stitched the two in different ways – one with, and one without the non-essential Kloster block. And I’m still not quite sure which one to choose! I may do a bit of shisha-ing while I mull this one over.

Meanwhile, I leave you with a little SAL Sneak Peek (like the one I posted on FaceBook a while ago, but with different colours to keep things interesting smiley).

A SAL sneak peek


The sun has come out, bunting and flags are flapping festively in an invigorating breeze (or a freezing gale, if you ask my husband), and "Fruit" has been saved – what more could a girl want?

It worked pretty much as I’d planned (makes a nice change …). First I unpicked the two affected Kloster blocks; this was made easier by the fact that one of them was actually where I’d finished off a thread anyway.

Repairs step 1

I then re-worked the Kloster blocks, making sure I didn’t pull too much. This was really exactly like the experiment in which I worked double-sided Kloster blocks as though they were thick wrapped bars. And they came out looking quite good! The back is a bit bulky with all the extra finishing on and off, and if you look really closely, and you know which blocks they are, you can see they look slightly different in the corner where they meet, but I doubt anyone will notice once it’s hanging on a wall.

Repairs step 2

By the way, I think I worked out why the snip happened in the first place: looking closely at some of the Kloster blocks, I saw that where two stitches go into the same hole (on a corner, where the two Kloster blocks share a hole) the second stitch had sometimes pierced the first one. This means that some of the first stitch (perhaps a single ply) is not pulled away from the "cutting edge", and so gets snipped more easily – and if it doen’t get snipped, it will show up in the corner of the cut area. Something to bear in mind when I’m stitching corners!

Another thing I noticed was that the cut ends didn’t show up at all in the re-stitched Kloster blocks. Makes me wonder whether it might not be possible to use the "cut first, then work Kloster blocks" method by default, especially in smaller pieces. Hmm, I feel another experiment coming on …

Not a crisis

Sometimes you say or write something and suddenly you realise that you’ve been using terribly overblown language. I’d started by calling this post "Crisis!" but looking at it a bit more soberly, and bearing in mind all the real crises going on in the world, it is of course nothing more than an annoying inconvenience.

Having said that, it is a very annoying inconvenience, which at worst would mean discarding a more than half-finished "Fruit of the Spirit" and having to stitch it again. And all because of a careless snip of the squissors.

I’d finished stitching all the Kloster blocks and cross stitch on the top two-thirds of the design, which is as much as I can do without moving it on the scroll frame. There were still some decorative stitches to do in Petite Treasure Braid, but when I’d done three in the whitish Pearl colour I’d chosen, I wasn’t sure about the effect. Perhaps a dull gold would be better? But I was at my weekly stitching group at the time, and didn’t have the dull gold Treasure Braid with me, so I decided to start cutting. As I was poking in my cut ends, I realised that I’d snipped a stitch in one of the Kloster blocks. (The left-hand picture shows the front, the right-hand one the back of the work.)

Snipped thread front Snipped thread back

In fact as you can see I’d only caught one of the plies with my squissors, not the complete perle thread, so at first I thought I might be able to push the cut ply to the back and make do with what was left of the thread. But unfortunately no amount of poking and stroking and judicious cutting has yet produced a result that I would be happy for other people to see – especially as I hope to give it to our church when it is finished, and a gift for the house of the Lord should be as good as I can make it.

So tomorrow afternoon I will very carefully take out the two Kloster blocks that are affected, and very very carefully try to stitch them again around the cut area. I am encouraged by the experiments I did some time ago with the double-sided Kloster blocks, which involved a similar exercise (only planned). With a bit of luck the process won’t be too frustrating and infuriating! But it may be just as well that this happened while stitching "Fruit", with its gentle reminder of Patience and Self-control …

Double-sided Kloster blocks (II)

As I was stitching Kloster block squares to test the two methods I’d come up with of tackling double-sided blocks, I thought of a third – or rather, a variation on one of the two. Fortunately the two variations could be tried out in one Kloster block square.

Here are my two test squares side by side. On the left I stitched both the outside Kloster blocks and the two internal Kloster blocks that would be cut on both sides. On the right I stitched only the outside blocks, and I cut and removed the threads as usual (I even tucked in the cut ends).

Double Kloster experiment Double Kloster experiment

Then I tried two methods of cutting in the left-hand square. I cut along all the outside Kloster blocks as usual, but of the two internal Kloster blocks I only cut along the two sides of the right-hand one. The two cut areas on either side of that right-hand block were now completely open, but on the left the vertical threads, though cut at the very top and the very bottom, were still held in place by the Kloster block.

Double Kloster experiment

I removed those longer threads, pulling them out through the Kloster block. I also removed the short cut threads that were left inside the right-hand Kloster block (and which would normally be tucked in). This proved to be quite tricky by hand (it would be easier with a pair of tweezers) and I did occasionally pull the perle thread, which ended up looking a little fuzzy (not easy to see in the photograph, but quite noticeable in real life).

Double Kloster experiment

Back to the second square of Kloster blocks, where all the threads had been cut and removed. Using perle #5 I wrapped the two horizontal bars, keeping the tension quite slack so that they wouldn’t be pulled and become very narrow, like traditional wrapped bars done in perle #8.

Double Kloster experiment

I then tucked in the cut ends in the left-hand test square, and used perle #8 to weave the remaining bars in both test squares.

Double Kloster experiment Double Kloster experiment

The result? All three methods work to some extent, and each one is easier than the traditional method of cutting both sides of the Kloster block and tucking in the ends. The one where the double-sided Kloster blocks are worked after cutting in the manner of wrapped bars (shown on the right) is least successful, in my opinion, as they do come out a little narrower that ordinary Kloster blocks.

The two methods on the left (cutting only along the regular Kloster blocks and removing the longer threads, or cutting along the double-sided Kloster blocks as well and removing the short threads) both produce quite nice and plump Kloster blocks, which don’t look very different from regular ones. Of the two methods the first gets my vote because it is easier to remove the longer threads – with the second method, it is quite easy to damage the perle of the Kloster block when removing the short cut threads.

I hope this will help you when you encounter double-sided Kloster blocks – if you try any of these methods in your own stitching, let me know what you think!

Double-sided Kloster blocks (I)

It’s generally a good idea to stitch Kloster blocks in such a way that the needle goes down into the fabric where it will later be cut. For some reason it makes it a little easier to cut close to the Kloster block. But occasionally designs call for a Kloster block to be cut on both sides, for example in the dragonfly’s wings in Resurrection.

Double Kloster block

There are two difficulties when you come up against a Kloster block like that. The first is that obviously you can’t take the needle down both sides. The second is that you end up with cut ends on both sides of the Kloster block, and if you are very conscientious about tucking in your ends, you’ll have to tuck in 8 instead of the usual 4 – and in opposite directions too! It’s perfectly possible, but it can be a little frustrating when you tuck in a cut end on the left only to see a previously tucked one pop out on the right!

It is for this reason that I try to avoid them when I am designing. Nevertheless, sometimes a woven bar simply will not do, and the chunkiness of a Kloster block is needed. So given that they occur in the chart you’re working on, could there be an easier way to work them?

As I was thinking about this, two possible solutions came to my mind. The first is to treat Kloster blocks like that as a sort of special wrapped bar. Stitch all the regular Kloster blocks first, cut and withdraw the threads, and then use the same thread (usually perle #5) to wrap around the remaining fabric threads very loosely, so as not to pull them together. There won’t be any cut ends to poke in, because those threads have already been removed altogether before the block is stitched.

The second option is to stitch all Kloster blocks, including the ones that will have a cut area on both sides, and then to cut the fabric only along the regular Kloster blocks. Then withdraw the threads, pulling them out through the double-sided Kloster blocks. There will be a bit more friction than usual, but it should be possible.

Very well then, time to put my theories to the test! A report with detailed pictures will follow soon.