Friday, January 3, 2020

🧡 A Needlepoint Round Robin! 🧡


Happy New Year πŸŽ‰ Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that 2020 brings lots of lovely stitching your way 😊 I had a fun stitchy adventure over the Holidays! My friend Shannan of Bobbin and Fred told me a about the #passthecanvas project hosted by Dish on Instagram (@dishingstitches) a few months ago and I was so excited to join in!

Dish is sending her beautiful funky geometric needlepoint canvas to stitchers around the world, like a round robin, and we each stitch five blocks in a week before sending it to the next stop! Happily, I received the canvas on December 30th, and I really enjoyed working on it in the quiet of the post-Christmas rush - it's now on it's way from snowy Newfoundland & Labrador ❄ to sunny Florida 🏝🍊

It has been many - MANY - years since I last tried needlepoint! When I was a teenager, I made a sampler out of my Stitchy Guru Mother's leftover supplies from her own bargello adventures in the 1970s. I used her vintage stitch guides to make an add-as-you-go mix of stitch blocks. I remember working on it all one Summer - it was my first and last experience trying to stitch outdoors πŸ˜‚ The wind liked to play with my threads, all the bright colours attracted flies and creepy crawlies, the sun was in my eyes - it was awful! And the edges of the canvas, even covered with masking tape, were so sharp that I took to wearing a pair of neon pink and black leg warmers on my arms to protect them from scratches, and they were way too hot, which added to the misery 🀣


That sampler is still in a tote box, waiting to be made into a cushion. I always meant to try more needlepoint, but I had trouble finding the supplies. So although I was super excited to add my block to the travelling canvas, when I first opened it, I was a little intimidated too. I had no idea what threads or stitches to use!


Here's the canvas as I received it! There are so many beautiful blocks, in all kinds of threads - velvets, braids, wools, metallics, and cottons. The stitch texture is fabulous, I wish you could run your fingers over the blocks and feel the stitches for yourself!

The package came with the canvas, a white storage bag (I just used the Ziploc the canvas was in), a little blue book to record your name, stitches used and materials used (which was so helpful and inspiring to read, especially the little messages to other stitchers!), and a cute little pocket stitch guide that was SUPER HELPFUL:


It's hard to tell from this photo, but it's a tiny book! With my favourite lay-flat coil binding. Small enough to slip in a project bag, and packed full of stitch diagrams:


I had so much fun flipping through this little guide and wondering what stitches I could try! Here are my five blocks, with a bit about stitching them:


Like most of the other stitchers, I chose my colours based on the printed blocks on the canvas. I started with the center block, using a leftover black Kreinik braid from the Bag O' Bits I received for the SFSNAD Challenge. I taught myself Norwich Stitch from the stitch guide (although I modified to fit the smaller space).


I absolutely LOVE this stitch, and it's one I will try again! It results in a wonderful woven effect 😍 It looks complex, but is surprisingly quick and easy to do as long as you pay careful attention to the order of the stitches. Using a non-divisible thread like the braid makes the woven effect stand out and makes it easier to lay the stitches.


Then I added the teal block. I knew I wanted lots of sparkle, but I didn't have many thicker threads suitable to needlepoint canvas on hand. I had intended to buy some DMC perle (pearl) cotton for this project, once I knew which blocks/colours I was stitching, but it being the Holidays, the local quilt shop that carries it was closed and I didn't have time to order anything online.

So I improvised! For this block, I used DMC 3812 (nine strands) with Gutermann Metallic Blending Filament in #235 (4 strands) and did a slanted Satin Stitch.


The small blue block was next. This was my first time using the new DMC Etoile thread in C798 (a gift from my friend Karen!). It is very different than regular floss, it is fluffy and spreads easily, giving it great coverage! I used 9 strands, and it worked great on this canvas. I intended to make Smyrna Cross Stitches, but I liked the base Cross Stitches so much I left them - I love the filigree look, where the canvas peeks through! I added a Woven Cross Stitch in the corner where both stripes meet.

And now for the BLING:


This is, without a doubt, my favourite block πŸ˜† You know how I love glitter!


This magnificent beauty is Needlecraft Craft Cord, meant for needlepoint and plastic canvas! It has a white base with a rainbow of pastel metallics woven in, in shades of teal, pink and gold. It is #55026, Rainbow White Frizette.


It came in a small bag of stitchy supplies from a thrift store that I bought several years ago, and I have been looking for a way to use it ever since! I was so disappointed when I realized it was too thick to go through the canvas easily. I put it aside, but in the end I decided I really wanted to make it work. So I laid it on top of the canvas, weaving it together at the corner (inspired by the Norwich stitch) and then worked Padded Brick stitch over top, with DMC 957 (six strands). It's a little wonky, and definitely quirky - so much so that I debated taking it out for a while - but it's super sparkly and love it ✨


And for my last block, I ended up going entirely off script. It was spontaneously stitched (seems to be my new stitchy theme lately, and I'm really loving this approach)! I wanted something softer after the bling block, so I used DMC 964 (9 strands) to stitch what I think is Smyrna Star, On Point, with Compensation Stitch edging (aka Make It Up As You Go Along Stitch) πŸ˜‚ It's not quite what I had in mind when I started stitching, but I do like the fun zig-zag bumpy texture and the pretty seafoam green colour.


And finally, I stitched my initials next to Shannan's (hers are in blue, to the left of mine, and her blocks are on the lower left of mine) using the same pink from the bling block. It is amazing to be part of project with stitchers I don't know from all over the world, but it is also really cool to stitch on the same project with a stitchy friend I do know, which is why I chose to stitch my blocks next to the ones Shannan did πŸ€— I did tent stitch first like all the other stitchers but then couldn't resist making them Cross Stitches 😁


And here is the canvas, ready to pass on to the next stitcher! I'm so glad that I had to chance to participate in #passthecanvas, and it's inspired me to try more needlepoint in the future ❤🧡 And if you have any online suppliers you'd recommend, I'd love to hear about them! I've been looking for Canadian shops, but haven't had much luck so far in finding blank needlepoint canvas; most offerings are tent stitch kits, or painted.

Have you participated in a crafty round robin project, or would you like to?


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

❤πŸ§΅πŸŽ„ Merry Stitchmas! πŸŽ„πŸ§΅❤


It's so hard to believe that the Holidays have come around again! Seems like only yesterday I was getting ready for last Christmas πŸ˜‚ 2019 has been another challenging year for me, with serious illness in the family that demanded most of my attention.

Thank you so much to everyone who still reads these posts and has left kind comments, they mean the world to me πŸ’ Hopefully 2020 will be a better blogging year ☘

Wishing you a Christmas that is Merry & Bright
and a Stitchtacular New Year!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

πŸŽ„ Stitchy News: Holiday Special πŸŽ„


It's that time of the year again, and the Holiday Rush is upon us! It's the first time in forever that I've done a Stitchy News post, but I have some exciting news to share with you today, including an online stitchy advent calendar and a great giveaway! ❤πŸŽ„❤



Mary Corbet of Needle N' Thread is generously running her fabulous A Stitcher's Christmas giveaway series again this year, where she shares top of the line embroidery notions and supplies! She's currently on the 2nd Giveaway, so make sure to visit the website or sign up to her free newsletter (which sends you the blog posts as they are published) to keep up with the giveaways. If you're new to A Stitcher's Christmas, please visit this year's first post for more information on how it all works πŸ˜‰

It's a super popular series, and there's often hundreds of entries for each giveaway, which can seem discouraging. But I was incredibly fortunate, and won the Inspirations Giveaway from 2017 , so if I can win, you can too! I wasn't blogging at the time so I haven't shared my kit finishes yet but I will soon. It was an incredibly difficult year for me, the first Christmas after my beloved Grandpa died (on Christmas Day 2016) and that prize made me pick up my needle and thread for the first time in over a year, and helped get me through a terrible time. Best of luck to you if you enter ☘



Laura at Bugs and Fishes has a super cute Retro Felt Baubles Tutorial for you, great for making last minute Christmas gifts! If you leave the ornaments unpadded, as Laura mentions, they would also be fabulous for sending in Christmas cards. There's all kinds of possibilities to pull out your embellishment tin and go crazy, and I think these would be a great way to use scraps of pretty trims and edgings!



DMC has a number of free holiday patterns, including this pretty Nordic Heart. It uses two shades of the shimmering new Etoile floss, but would look lovely in a single shade of variegated Coloris too! There's a cute Coloris Christmas Tree freebie as well.



The wonderfully imaginative Jo at Serendipitous Stitching is hosting her annual Online Advent Calendar Blog Hop again this year! The image above is one of my favourite finishes of Jo's, from her very first 2011 Online Advent Calendar πŸ˜ƒ This is such a great event, where stitchers share some holiday themed projects from years past and a bit about their own traditions. Make sure to hop along for some Christmas stitching and finishing inspiration! I look forward to it every year ❤



Finally, if you're looking for a super quick little ornament to whip up in a hurry, why not try my free Blackwork Poinsettia Ornament? It's two-sided, easy to customize, and doesn't need any backing fabric! I also have a full tutorial for the easy Whipped Chain Stitch Edging. This was my contribution to Jo's 2013 Online Advent Calendar.


In February, my friend Shannan from Bobbin & Fred stitched this gorgeous variation, and I had the pleasure of interviewing her about her finish for the blog! This remains one of my favourite patterns and can easily be made in a weekend. If you do stitch up a version, I'd love to see it, and feature you here on the blog if you like! 😊


Are you making like Santa Claus and doing any gift making this year? I don't have mine all lined up yet but I'm thinking about projects - unfortunately, they're all Super Secret!

❤ Whatever you're making for the holidays this year, may your Christmas be Merry & Bright, and may you Jingle All The Way ❤

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Free Style SAL: Lattice Heart Finish!


Happy news! I've been co-hosting the Free Style Sew Along (SAL) on Instagram (I'm @aureliaeglantine) with my friend Marianne Matthews (@mariannemathewsxx), and it has been an amazing stitchy adventure! In my last post, I shared some of my progress.

This was my first planned spontaneous stitching project πŸ˜‚ By which I mean that when I stitched my Joyful Jester, I started with a basic outline for felt applique and then I sat down with a bunch of embellishments - acrylic gems, sequins, beads, trims, metallic thread - and just made it up as I went along. It was so much fun, and just sort of flowed!

Ever since then, I've wanted to try to recapture that feeling, and with this project I deliberately set out to be flexible and spontaneous. I started with a basic double heart outline and a very simple idea (please see my SAL intro post for details):


As cross-stitchers, we're used to planning out our whole project before we start. We usually choose the chart, fabric, threads and any extras before we begin. Spontaneous stitching is a different way of creating, and it is both frustrating and freeing! My cohost Marianne works in this style for all her projects, both embroidery and cross-stitch, making them up as she stitches. It's a technique that lets you experiment!

Some of my stitch ideas, such as this Turkey Stitch Flower, didn't work out:


I tried a lot of stitches on this project that were new to me, and it became a sampler of sorts. Although I loved this idea, it didn't fit with the image I had in my head for my heart, and so I cut it out. But the stitches themselves were not wasted - now I know how to make a funky loopy or cut flower for another project some other time! So while it was frustrating in the moment that it didn't work, it was also a great learning experience.

One of the other fun things about hand embroidery is that it's usually a lot easier to "unstitch" than cross-stitch - this flower took me over an hour to put in, after fussing with the cutting and taking process photos, but less than a minute to cut out 🀣

I found myself constantly thinking about different ways to stitch flowers and leaves, and how to put into practice stitches I've always admired but never tried. The Fishbone Stitch leaves and Buttonhole Stitch flower are some of my favourites, and I love the Double Cast On Stitch I learned for the fuschia roses! The Granitos stitch I learned for the Daisies is super useful, incredibly easy, and one I will definitely be using again 🌼

For inspiration, I even made a a special Pinterest board for the SAL, which has lots of tutorials and ideas you can use in any embroidery! I will also link to some of the tutorials in the list of stitches at the end of this post. It was very interesting to see my heart grow, blossoming from a simple lattice to a cheerful, colourful riot of flowers:



And after some surprisingly serious internal debate, LOL, I decided not fill in the empty spaces between flowers with French Knots. I thought that they would take away from the little French Knot flowers I had already added. I did try a few stitches but ended up taking them out, and instead added some turquoise seed beads for sparkle:


You know I love sparkle! Overall, this was such a fun project and now I just want to stitch flowers on EVERYTHING πŸ˜† For anyone who is interested, here are some details:


I don't think I've ever shown one of these before, but I make little cardboard thread keepers like this for nearly every project and find them very helpful for keeping my working threads from becoming tangled! I just use nice white cardboard, usually rescued from some kind of packaging (this was gift card holder), punch as many holes and I need (as you can see, I added a few extra to this one as I went along!) and write the project information and floss colour names with a fine Sharpie. They usually look a little neater than this one, but I forgot to take a better photo, so please forgive the mess!

DMC Floss Colours: (from top left, clockwise):

554 (Violet, Light)
892 (Carnation, Medium)
444 (Lemon, Dark)
907 (Parrot Green, Light)
3607 (Plum, Light)
3708 (Melon, Light)
3837 (Lavender, Ultra Dark)
3846 (Bright Turquoise, Light)
B5200 (Snow White)
972 (Deep Canary)
905 (Parrot Green, Dark)

🧡 Stitches Used, with tutorial links🧡

πŸ’› Small Heart πŸ’›


Lattice:Jacobean Couching (Lattice 3846, Cross Stitches 444)
Center Heart Scalloped Border: Scalloped Buttonholed Chain Stitch (3708)
I later whipped the bottom of the green Chain Stitch base with 3837, as you would for Whipped Backstitch

πŸ’™ Large Heart πŸ’™


🌸 Flowers: 🌸

Loose Cast On Stitch, also known as Double Cast On or Two Needle Cast On
Buttonhole Stitch Flower, double layered
Spiderweb Roses also known as Woven Wagon Wheel Roses
Granito Stitch (see also Mary Corbet's video tutorial on flowers)
Lasy Daisy (also known as Detached Chain), some filled with Straight Stitches
French Knots (also see this very helpful article by Mary Corbet, which includes this great tip: use a Milliners Needle - a needle whose eye is the same width as the shaft - for French and Bullion Knots! It totally changed my stitching and made French Knots - my longtime Stitchy Foe - possible for me πŸ˜ƒ)

Flower centers: Satin Stitch Dots, Needleweaving, French Knots (444 & 972)

🌿 Leaves: 🌿


Raised Fishbone Stitch
Fly Stitch Leaves
Satin Stitch with Stem Stitch edging
Lazy Daisy, with Straight Stitch filling
Buttonhole, with Straight Stitch filling

πŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ’™ Border: πŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ’™


Worked like Whipped Backstitch, but the base is a Double Granito stitch, for extra width and a more even ratio of turquoise to yellow (Base 3846, Whipped Stitches 444)


If you have any questions about this project at all, please don't hesitate to ask! I really want to thank everyone who took the time to follow along with my progress, and those who left helpful and encouraging comments 😊

Your enthusiasm for my Lattice Heart kept me going, even when I was frustrated. Spontaneous Stitching is such a simple concept, but like most things, it's easier said than done and requires practice like any new technique, at least to those to whom it doesn't come naturally - like myself πŸ˜‚ Whenever you're trying something new, there's always a bit of uncertainty and self-confidence - am I doing it right? Is it good enough? Am I wasting my time?- and all your feedback really helped πŸ’™

I haven't final finished my Lattice Heart off; for the photos, I just tucked the excess fabric under the hoop. But I really like the way this Anchor Glitter Hoop matches the project, and I may buy another and finish it off as Hoop Art.


The Free Style SAL is still ongoing - anyone can jump in, at any time! It's a completely free, relaxed, and flexible stitch along. I'll be sharing some fabulous SAL finishes in my next post. Please use the hashtag #freestylesewalong when posting on Instagram so we can find you! You can also post elsewhere, but please send me a link so we can feature you. Just chose an outline motif and fill it with spontaneously stitched flowers πŸ’ Any needlework style is welcome - cross-stitch, embroidery, quilting, mixed media, needlepoint etc. - as long as it fits the spirt of the SAL!

Does the idea of Spontaneous Stitching appeal to you?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Free Style SAL: Progress & Inspiration


My stitching on my double heart for the Free Style Sew Along on Instagram is starting to take shape! But first, I wanted to let you know about a Pinterest Board I just made for the SAL, with links to tutorials and stitch guides for flowers, leaves, lattices and outlines:


If you have any suggestions for this board, please e-mail me the links!

Even if you are not stitching along with us, these are ideas you can adapt to any project!

For anyone who missed my previous post, the Free Style Sew Along is a stress-free, stitch-at-your-own-pace simple SAL! Started by my Instagram stitchy friend Marianne and myself, you can join in at any time and post your progress anywhere online, including your own blog. The idea is to find a simple outline motif you like - Marianne and I are both using the same double heart, which you are welcome to use as well (please see my previous post for the free pattern and other motif ideas) - and fill it with spontaneously stitched flowers 🌼🌷🌻

My last post covered my materials, pattern choice and transfer. I've added a few new colours, which I'll list in a later post since I may add a few more before I'm finished 🎨

Here are my first stitches:


A trio of Spiderweb Roses and a little lattice!


Then I added some Fishbone Stitch Leaves (following Mary Corbet's excellent video tutorial) and a little pink ruffle using Mary's Scalloped Buttonholed Chain Stitch Tutoria, which looks fancy but is super easy once you get the hang of the tension!


I find it very helpful to hold on to the top of the chain stitch with one hand while gently tightening the Buttonhole Stitch loops with the other, and sort of slide them close together until each space is filled. I didn't count my Buttonhole Stitches, I just filled each arch until I couldn't add any more.


You could stitch down the center of each arch, and I might do so before I'm finished, but I like the free standing texture right now, even if my loops are a little wonky 😊


Fishbone Stitch Leaves are something I've been wanting to try for AGES, so I was very excited with how these turned out!!! They are fun to stitch too, and have great texture; I'm sure I will be adding some more here and there before I'm finished πŸƒ

And that's it from my end so far! Please do feel free to jump in and stitch with us πŸ˜ƒ You can follow the link in my sidebar at right to my Instagram profile (@aureliaeglantine) or leave a comment below! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask and I'll do my best to answer πŸ’