A parrot, an unintended project and a border

First things first: Happy New Year! May only good things come your way in 2015.

It’s not often that I stitch other people’s designs nowadays; it’s the downside of having so many of my own things to stitch. There is a Victoria Sampler kit languishing in a drawer that I still want to do one day, and definitely some more goldwork too, but generally I work on models of my own designs because if I don’t, I can’t put them up on the website for other people to stitch!

Occasionally there is a solid reason for picking an existing design rather than charting one myself. Recently my mother reminded me that I had promised to stitch a bookmark for my eldest aunt, and in my stash of cross stitch patterns collected from magazines over the years I found a colourful parrot that was just perfect for her, so I used that.

A parrot bookmark for my aunt

Sometimes there is no particular reason at all, except that a design really takes my fancy. This was the case with a pretty little heart which a lady on the Cross Stitch Forum stitched using a hand-dyed thread, and which had come out beautifully; it’s a freebie and you can find both a picture and the chart on Olga Maxden’s blog. What I like about it is that it uses a variety of stitches – lattice stitch, French knot, double cross stitch, different-shaped ray stitches and so on – and only two threads, one perle and one stranded. Using a solid perle and a variegated stranded thread produces a very attractive effect.

Remember the Gloriana silk I was given at the Knitting & Stitching show by the kind lady at the Calico Cat stand? As it turned out it wouldn’t really do as a substitute for the Dinky Dyes perle used in Sunken Treasures, but it is a lovely thread with its subtle variegation of green, smoky blue and lavender, and with a pale blue perle just the combination for this little heart. I’ve gone for a 28ct opalescent white Lugana with perle #12 and two strands of Gloriana silk (three for the French knots, needed to recreate the nice and plump look of the original). Here’s what I’ve done so far, just the French knots to go (“just” – ha!):

Small Sweet Heart complete apart from a gazillion French knots

In spite of sneaky little projects worming their way into my To Do pile I did manage some work on Orpheus, on the first of the three borders. The inner and outer borders are long-armed braid, and the central one is a double feather braid; I was hoping for a nice contrast between the two stitches, and I think it’s working rather well: the long-armed braid is quite solid and 3D, and should form a nice frame for the airier feather braid. Here is a close-up which shows a little of the texture and height of the stitch, though unfortunately it’s difficult to get the picture to look like it does in real life.

Long-armed braid