Ironing and a couple of freebies

I have an aunt who enjoys ironing. No, really. She and my mother have a pact – Mum does the all washing for the two of them, and Aunt does all the ironing. Having worked my way through a pile of hankies, shirts and summer dresses (why oh why do I keep wearing long flowing skirts?) I can say without a hint of doubt that I do not take after my aunt. But there was more to be ironed: 56 squares of Hardanger fabric for the Mini Kits.

Ironed fabric squares, and one in a hoop

Sometimes I feel tempted not to bother, but then I remember opening kits myself and finding a piece of fabric with sharp creases right across the bit where I will be stitching, and having to get it ironed first when what I really want to do is get it into a hoop and start stitching! Which brings me to another thing – why are the pieces of fabric provided in kits (especially for small projects) often only just big enough for the project? I know that not everyone uses a hoop, but many people do, and it would be nice if the fabric were big enough to get it into a hoop that in turn is big enough to contain the whole design. True, adding an extra inch or so adds to the cost, but I think it is probably worth it in customer satisfaction. Being what they are, the Mini Kits are likely to be the stitcher’s first piece of hardanger, and I want to make it an experience they’d like to repeat, not put them off for life!

Having “hooped up” one of the pieces of fabric to try it out for size I didn’t really want to take it out and iron it again, so I’ll use it for a small project. Sally, a dear friend from the Cross Stitch Forum, asked me something about small designs for Christmas cards and I suddenly remembered two tiny stars I did a few years ago, so I charted them and made them available as freebies. When I first stitched them I used very light blue and lilac to go with two blue and purple metallic cards I had (you can’t see the metallic-ness very well in the picture, but it looked quite striking in real life!), but writing to Sally I suggested they would look rather nice in Anchor metallic perle (which has a gold or silver strand running through it) or Caron Snow with its lovely sparkle, and of course because of their small size they’re ideal for using up odds and ends of hand-dyed and variegated threads. Thinking of that, and having a small piece of fabric sitting there ready-hooped, I decided to stitch them again myself; I’ve picked the materials and beads, and as soon as Double Cross is finished I’ll give these a go.

The original stars on their metallic cards Materials for re-stitching the freebies

The best laid plans…

… of mice and men gang oft agley, and you can add stitchers’ plans to that. Two of mine did this week (plans go agley, that is), although fortunately I also got some useful work done.

My first plan concerned Windmills, which is fast beginning to get identified with Blake’s dark satanic mills in my mind. Well, it’s not that bad really. But having started on the beading I found that it was far too dense and heavy, and almost overpowered the stitching (which in itself is quite a feat with stitching this bright!). I’m trying a different pattern in the second sail before unpicking the first one, so I’ll be able to compare them.

Then there was the question of the central filling stitches. I charted them in black but Serinde, neatly voicing a silent niggle in my own mind, commented that it might be too stark. From my stash I gathered a navy blue and a dark brown perle #8 to see which would go best with Bradley’s Balloons; I felt a dark grey would probably be better (as it is meant to represent the nail that holds the windmill to its stick), but I didn’t have one dark enough. When I mentioned this on the Cross Stitch Forum I was soon convinced that this was not a problem, but a great opportunity to acquire some more thread! As I was actually in the process of placing an order with Sew & So anyway, I succumbed and added a ball of perle #8 413.

Sew & So lived up to their usual standard, and the next day I had my parcel. Below is a photograph of its contents. Spot the snag.

Pink and coral and rose and white - but no grey

That’s right. No grey. The invoice came with a polite note saying the perle #8 413 was out of stock and would follow shortly. Usually that wouldn’t really be a problem, but I’d been hoping to get Windmills ready for the Counted Wishes Festival, which is now unlikely (unless “shortly” means “today”). Oh well, no worries – it simply means I’ll only have one new design there, the two bookmarks of Windows on the World. The larger of the two is now finished (though I haven’t cut around the buttonhole edge yet), and I’m making good progress on the smaller one. This uses one of DMC’s Variations for the perle #5 buttonhole edge, and I needed a coloured perle #8 to go with it. Some time ago a fellow stitcher sent me a useful list which shows the DMC shades that make up the Variations, so I thought if I used one of the component shades I couldn’t go wrong. Unfortunately the shade I wanted doesn’t actually exist in perle #8, so I ordered the nearest one, which was two shades darker.

Two choices to go with a variegated thread

The one I ordered especially for this project is on the left in the picture above, and although it’s not quite so noticeable in the photograph, it really is quite bright, and quite a lot darker than the perle #5. On the other hand one of the other perle #8 in the order does seem to tone quite well with the orange in the perle #5. So of my two plans with perle #8, one is on hold because the colour is out of stock, and the other probably won’t use the colour I specifically got for it!

Quite a tale of adversity, but actually I had a very good weekend otherwise. There was time to sit on the lawn with a magazine, and watch our marigolds and dwarf dahlias buzzing with insects. Ably assisted by my husband I managed to take all the photographs for the second August SAL blog and for the first September blog. And at our local fabric shop I found just the right colours of felt for a new batch of Mini Kits.

I don’t make up the kits until they are ordered, but I do a lot of preparatory work so that the final process is quite quick. I’ve got a box which contains the photographs that go on the front of the kits, pre-cut lengths of perle #5 and #8, two sizes of gold-plated needles, pieces of felt cut to size, and pre-cut and pre-scored pieces of patterned card. I was about to run out of the last two, but with the purchase of some new double-sided card and various colours of felt I am now well stocked again. The satisfaction of a job done, and (incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t have a colourful hobby, I suppose) of simply seeing all those pretty colours together. I seriously believe playing with stash should be considered a hobby in its own right!

New materials for more mini kits The patterned card is double-sided All the felt cut to size