Friday, June 11, 2010

Design: Rhodes Butterfly Biscornu
Designer: Kell Smurthwaite, Kincavel Krosses

I thought I’d try a few specialty stitches this month. I pretty much stick exclusively to cross stitch and blackwork, so this was something of an experiment for me. I used:

- Rhodes squares
- Rhodes butterflies
- Algerian eyes
- Ray stitch
- French knots

I’m not particularly fond of French knots and thought it was about time I got over my dislike, so I decided to add quite a few to this design! I almost wimped out and used beads, but in the end, I plucked up the courage to go the whole hog and do the knots. I’m quite pleased with how they turned out and by the end of it; I think I’d finally got a bit more comfortable with doing them. I’m still not overly fond of them, but I know now that if it’s required, I can do them and not have them look completely dreadful!

I used two sparkly fabrics I received in a Polstitches grab bag. Both are 28-count linens, but one is a light tangerine colour, the other is pale lemon, and they moth have a slightly mottled effect. In order to have a bright and contrasting biscornu, I chose to do my stitching in bright pink and orange. I had bought two little gold butterfly buttons for the centre, but as I decided to stitch over one instead of over two (as I had originally planned), they were too large for this project and I used two orange beads instead. Those little butterflies will definitely get used at some point in the future though – they’re too pretty to leave!

So, here I am, half way through the year with half of my biscornu finished!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Two ATCs

“Koi” and “Illuminated C”

These are the two ATCs I stitched for the May exchange at the Cross Stitch ATC Facebook group.

The first theme is “The Letter C” – the plan is that all 26 letters will be covered, but not in alphabetical order (just to keep us on our toes!). I chose my design from Illuminated Letters by Lesley Teare – the alphabet featured in an issue of The World of Cross Stitching (I don’t know which issue – I swapped a chart with a member on a forum to get these), and I plan to use these designs for my whole alphabet series. It’s stitched on white 14-count aida in various DMC threads and only just fits on the card, so next time I’ll be using a higher count of fabric!

The second theme is “Oriental”. I found this gorgeous little koi design which is free to download from Cross Stitch Happy and just knew it was the one for me! I didn’t use the suggested colours, but instead picked colours out of my existing stash. I also replaced the eyes and most of the little buds on the plants with beads, just for a little extra dimension. Finally, I added the Japanese character for “koi” in the upper right-hand corner. The koi represents love and friendship, so this beautiful fish was the perfect choice for an exchange. I like him so much I almost wished I could have kept him for myself, so I think there’s a distinct possibility I’ll stitch him again for a card or some such thing. This version is stitched on pale blue 14-count aida in various DMC threads and beads I had to hand.

Charlie's Falling Star and Mother Nature Birth Sampler

“Charlie’s Falling Star” and “Mother Nature”

For the first time, I decided to have a couple of my cross stitched pieces professionally framed. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t do this, as it’s very expensive to have done, but for these two pieces, I thought I’d do it as a bit of a treat for myself as they are both gifts for my son, Xander.

The first one is “Charlie’s Falling Star” (a Charlie’s Ark kit). It’s stitched on cream 16-count aida which was a good size with plenty of room for framing and there was more than enough thread in the colours required. My only wish for anything different was that the threads be pre-sorted as several colours were very similar in shade and although a list was given with the numbers of strands of each colour in the pack, some of them had the same amounts so it made no difference in the ease of sorting the colours.

The chart was large, clear and very easy to follow. It’s printed in black and white, but the symbols are clear and easy to distinguish from one another. There are large areas of one-colour blocks, making this a quick stitch, despite its size, and although there is a moderate amount of back stitch, the chart is easy to follow and it doesn’t take very long to stitch it – it really does bring out the detail of the piece. There are relatively few colours involved, but the effect given by them is both delicate and striking. It’s all full crosses in either one or two strands and there is only one French knot.

This kit was an absolute joy to stitch from start to finish. It was fun to stitch the window panes and then watch Charlie appear in silhouette before I started stitching him as the central figure. It didn’t take very long to stitch – going by my day-to-day log, it took less than a month with just a couple of hours stitching in each daily session, to complete it. It was such fun to stitch that I was almost sorry to finish it as I’d no longer have it to work on! I’d definitely stitch another Charlie’s Ark kit.

The second one is “Mother Nature” – a birth sampler. It’s stitched on 20-count gold and cream lugana evenweave from Wichelt in the colours indicated on the chart. The design was in the Christmas issue of Crossstitcher Magazine and the designer is Lesley Teare (Thanks, Line, for letting me know!). It’s a very sweet little scene of birds, lambs, woodland animals and flowers, with a full alphabet and space for a name and date of birth.

If I remember correctly, the chart was originally meant for 14 or 16 count, which would have made it larger than my finished piece, but I wanted it the smaller size and none of the details suffered for it. Initially, I was a little worried that the stitching wouldn’t show up so well against the gold-flecked background, but I think it worked out rather well.

Yo can’t really tell from the photographs, but the border mount is a creamy shade with a slightly grainy effect which works equally well with the cream aida and the gold-flecked cream evenweave, and I opted for a very simple, narrow wooden frame with a light wax finish, so tha the focus would be on the stitching, rather than the frame.

I’m very pleased with both finished pieces and look forward to seeing them hanging on Xander’s bedroom wall!


I’ve recently become part of a Facebook group that exchanges ATCs (Artist Trading Cards)* and have also been taking part in an exchange on The Cross Stitch Forum, so I thought I’d display them here.

The Easter Bunny and Smile designs were both for the Facebook group for the April exchange (I’ll post the pictures of the May exchange ATCs when they’ve arrived at their destinations – the posting date is the 20th of the month).

For the Easter-themed ATC, I thought there could be nothing more associated with that holiday (well, for me, anyway) than the Easter Bunny, so I adapted a sweet little design I found online for free (click HERE).

The “Stitch a Smile” theme had me thinking – what would I choose? Wile searching for something suitable, I came across a beautiful freebie daffodils design. FOr me, the first sign of daffodils is the first sign that Spring is here and it always makes me smile. Again, I adapted the design slightly. Unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me, remember where I got the chart, so if you spot it anywhere, please let me know, so I can give credit to the designer!

The final ATC is on a Summer theme and is for the Cross Stitch Forum exchange. I designed this one myself and it was fun, yet simple, to stitch. You can download the chart for free at my Kincavel Krosses design blog.

* ATCs always measure 2.5″ x 3.5″. They are exclusively swapped, rather than being sold, and can be done in any medium on any theme.

Cards for Charity

A selection of cards I stitched in aid of Relay For Life / Cancer Research UK.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blackwork Biscofleur

Blackwork Biscofleur by Kell Smurthwaite, Kincavel Krosses
Materials: White 14-count aida; DMC 310 floss; black tassel; black ribbon; soft toy stuffing

WTF? Mini Subversive Sampler

Circular Mini WTF? by Kell Smurthwaite, Kincavel Krosses
Materials: 16-count white aida; various flosses in purple shades; mini circular frame (plastic with metallic gold finish)

PMS and Chocolate Subversive Sampler

PMS Subversive Sampler by Kell Smurthwaite, Kincavel Krosses
Materials: 28-count latte evenweave; DMC linen flosses in chocolate and caramel shades

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Little Blue Angel

Design: From Donna Kooler's 555 Fabulous Cross-Stitch Patterns (page 85)
Materials: Antique white 18-count aida; various threads

This was a quick stitch mini project for a charity that makes memory boxes for parents whose babies sadly didn't make it. These little angels are used as a label on the boxes - blue for boys, pink for girls and pale yellow/cream for either. I was asked to stitch one in blue (there were 5 of each colour needed, but a whole bunch of folks volunteered - one of the lasses on the Cross Stitch ATC group on Face Book asked us). I used a little bit of gold metallic in the halo and star, but it doesn't really show up in the photo.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Baa Baa Blackwork Sheep Mini Sampler

Design: Baa Baa Blackwork Sheep by Kell Smurthwaite, Kincavel Krosses
Materials: 16-count white aida; DMC 310

I designed this mini blackwork sampler to hang in my hallway at home - I tried to put across a bit of a folksy feel and liked the idea of a play-on-words reference to the nursery rhyme.

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