Friday, January 31, 2014
Just Nan SAL - Month #1: "Rosebuds"
I'm excited to introduce this project to you not only because this is my first entry into the Just Nan SAL but also because this is my first time stitching on Evenweave fabric!!! As you may remember, I was gifted this lovely pattern from Just Nan by Meggie, and it marks my first experience with this designer. Here is the leaflet:
I followed the colourway exactly, but mine turned out a little darker and leaned more toward the mauve than the pink. According to the chart, the model was stitched on "Zweigart 32 CT Antique Lavender Belfast Linen", which may have affected the way the colours photographed. Overall, I think mine has a more vintage feel but I like it :)
When it came time to choose my fabric, I was at a bit of a loss. Because the center is partially worked with a new-to-me Specialty Stitch called the "Mosaic Stitch"(which seems to be a smaller version of the popular Needlepoint favourite, the "Scotch Stitch") and there are Eyelets (a Diamond Eyelet in the center and Algerian Eyelets in the corners), the design cannot be stitched on Aida cloth. I couldn't find any 32 count linen here, but the design also gives measurements for 28 count.
After some fruitless hunting around in my local fabric store for some linen by the meter, I chanced upon a package of white 28 count Evenweave from M.C.G. Textiles at Michaels. This American family-owned business is new to me, and I am so very impressed with this product that - as I mentioned in my last post - I immediately went out and bought another package halfway through stitching Rosebuds :)
Here is the front and back of the package - the fabric is larger than I expected (20" x 27"), and retails here for $9.99 CA. Although the fabric is folded, the creases were light and easily came out when I sprayed them with water and let the fabric air-dry for about fifteen minutes. No ironing was needed! And that's a big plus for me ;)
The fabric itself is softer than Aida cloth, with a nice drape. And the colour is much brighter than it appears in these photos, a lovely true clear white with bluish tones rather than yellowy cream. But what impressed me most is the, well, evenness (for lack of a better term!) of the Evenweave! The threads are plump and close together...
...as you can see in this extreme close-up of the center area (before beading). This is a HUGE deal to me! I've looked at lots of other Evenweaves, in person and online, and while less "slubby" than Linen, the threads are seldom regular. And that drives me NUTS! Also, there were no flaws, bumps or loose threads in my package either.
Made of "100% Combed Cotton", the product descriptions on the packaging and the website also state: "Our fabric is a woven 3 ply yarn. Carefully woven in each direction which details a distinct box to hold for ease in stitching". This makes the strands easier to count, I think. It took me a while at first to adjust to working over two threads instead of one, but the regularity of the weave was incredibly helpful!
The 28 count Evenweave at M.C.G. Textiles is also available in a smaller 15" x 18" package and a larger 30" by 36" package. There are five neutral colourways in the range - White, Antique White, Mushroom, Khaki and Rose (more of a mauve) - and a really neat sample pack with 12" x 14" cuts is available. You can see the Evenweave options here, and the best part is that they're all currently on sale (site-wide too)!
The company also sells several other needlework fabric options, including pre-finished items to stitch on. And M.C.G. Textiles manufactures Aida cloth in a variety of counts and some beautiful colours (with sample packs too!), including a gorgeous opalescent line called Starlite Aida! They also sell Linen imported from Belgium.
This is definitely a product I'll be using again, and that I highly recommend trying! It's really disappointing that the lovely colours and the sparkly Starlite line aren't available here locally, but I'm considering trying tea/coffee dying to get a tan colour.
I'll let you know how that goes, if it goes (and if you have any advice, I'm all ears!).
Here's a few pictures of my progress on Rosebuds :) It was a very fun stitch and worked up quickly! Besides the Specialty Stitches, the rest is all in whole cross-stitches, and although there are a lot of colour changes in the flowers you usually have at least a two or three stitch block so it's not like working confetti (thankfully!).
The pattern called for two colours of beads by a company called SJ, which I think is SJ Designs. According to the site, they carry Japanese imports, and the colour numbers no longer match those given in the chart. One was a "White Pearl" and the other was a "Rose Blush", which is basically a pink pearl finish from what I can tell.
While I had equivalents in Mill Hill Beads, the white didn't show up against my fabric so I made some substitutions that - although I wasn't sure of at first - I'm now very happy with! The colours I chose were MH #02016 (Green: Crystal Mint) in place of the White Pearl, and MH #02024 (Purple: Heather Mauve) for the Rose Blush :)
The pattern states to attach the beads with a half cross-stitch using a colour to match the background, in this case white. That's what I'd usually do too. But since I was substituting iridescent transparent beads for opaque ones, the white just washed them out. Both colours were not-quite matches to my floss, as they were too pale.
So I used the dominant floss colour to attach each bead (in this case, 503 with the Crystal Mint, and 316 with the Heather Mauve) which showed through the glass enough that the beads then matched the floss near-perfectly ;) Neat trick, hey?!
You can see the beads with the threads through the holes in the top photo, and how the beads look from the front in the bottom photo. I also used a whole cross-stitch for bead attachment, as I normally do, but I made the stitch over only one thread of the Evenweave (just below the bead) so that the floss didn't show up on the white. I'll have to remember that in future ;) The beading around the Diamond Eyelet in the center is different that way - squarish instead of aslant - but I was okay with that.
Here's how Rosebuds look before and after the beading:
When I was first planning the project, I thought about leaving off the beads entirely (since I didn't realize using the floss colours would make the match so good!), but I'm very glad that I changed my mind because I think the embellishment adds a lot to the design. In fact, beading seems to be a design characteristic of Just Nan patterns, and if Rosebuds is any indication, the sparkle makes them lots of fun to stitch ;)
I'll leave you with a close-up of the lovely heart-shaped Celtic Knot in the center:
The Just Nan Stitch Along (SAL) 2014 is hosted by Zeb at Keep Calm and Cross-Stitch! Anyone can join at any time, including non-bloggers :) Come stitch with us!