STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Stitchin'

I've said more than once, I might have too many hobbies. Is there such a thing? I don't really think so, only not enough time. I know, I know, my day has the same 24 hours that everyone else has.  Perhaps I just need a maid, to do the daily meal planning, grocery shopping and meal prep, the laundry, the cleaning.... Yeah, I like the sound of that. But who am I kidding? It won't happen.
Each January, I vow to be more organized, more efficient, to waste less time so I can accomplish more. More sewing, more reading, more stitching, more photography and blogging.... I must admit since Christmas I have gone into my usual self-imposed "hibernation" not doing a whole lot other than reading, some sewing and stitching tossed with the occasional Netflix movie and an extra hour or so of sleep each night. I cannot complain.
My hands are very rarely idle. Even while watching tv, my hands are occupied, usually with stitching. (The exception is Downton Abbey when my eyes are glued to the screen.) My stitching lately has been "the usual" for this time of year - more beaded Santas.

But I do have several stitching projects I am anxious to move on to. One is a small kit from Mill Hill. I thought I'd share a few suggestions with you, which make things a bit easier when working from a kit. When a kit supplies the floss, it is up to the stitcher to separate the threads and decide what is what; often there are some colours which are very very close, and it can be difficult to distinguish one colour from another. On the pattern, the floss colours are most often listed in numerical order, rather than by colour groupings.

First of all, it is imperative to do this sorting job during the day, in good natural light. I've found artificial light in the evening just doesn't cut it. I start by laying out the ones I can easily identify -the white, black, dark brown (3371) and a few others which I have used so often I know them for sure. Then I go down the list and choose what I think each colour is, laying them out in the same numerical order. Often there will be a few which I may have wrong - the greys in particular are difficult to distinguish. This is when I get out my trusty DMC Colour Chart - an invaluable tool which I have used often.

It has a sample of each and every DMC floss, grouped by colour and labelled with the number, so it is quick and simple to identify every colour. This way you know for sure you have each one correct. If you don't have a Colour Chart, treat yourself to one. You won't regret the expense. They can usually be purchased anywhere that sells DMC. Once I have correctly identified each length of floss, if I am ready to start the stitching, I will somehow label each colour- there are many accessories on the market to aid with this - either cardboard "bobbins", or other systems to loop the thread through and label with the number. If I'm not yet ready to start stitching, I "bundle" the floss in groups of five colours, in order from the list on the pattern and knot loosely, so they are "grouped," then I can easily correctly identify and label them later.
My other suggestion is related to the number of strands used for stitching. I almost always use one strand more than what is suggested on the pattern. I like my stitching to totally cover the background, whether it is fabric or perforated paper. I just don't like the look of the background fabric showing through the stitching. This particular pattern suggests two strands, but I will use three. If it looks like the supplied floss will not be enough (since I am using an extra strand) I can always buy more. I probably have most of them in my floss box already, anyway.
Only a few more hours now 'til Downton Abbey comes on, maybe I can finish another Santa beard...


"The only place where housework comes before needlework  is in the dictionary." ~ Mary Kurtz


Jennifer said...

What interesting beaded Santas! Do you use fabric canvas, or plastic, or paper?

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I don't think I ever stitched from a kit. As soon as I typed that, I realized that I most certainly did, but it's been so many years ago!! I've been thinking that I am going to get a chart since I order a lot on line and don't like the surprises of a monitor vs reality color. I've been crocheting and having a hard time getting back to embroidery. I have a problem with that "wasting time" thing!!
xx, Carol

Sara - My Woodland Garden said...

Hello, dear Linda!
This was very interesting. I sometimes see really beautiful kits, but the enormous number of colours makes me scared. There are colours really close, and I don't know how people can distinguish one from another!
I totally agree with you on covering the background completely.
Looking forward to seeing your stitch work when finished. I googled Mill Hill and found some really pretty patterns.
Have a lovely new week! Hugs!

Vee said...

Well I had no idea! Doubtful that I will take the time to sort the stash I have, but still very good to know!

Colleen Gander said...

I'm still working on the Arctic Circle Santas to celebrate my son's time north of 60 and our own Christmas visit this year. I realize that I have you to thank for pointing me to the kits. Wishing now that I had your advice about using an extra strand to fill the holes a little more but after I glued a felt backing on, it's not too bad. Good advice about sorting the colours as grey and beige are very difficult to discern in the evening light. Some of my friends want nothing to do with Christmas crafts in January but I find January the perfect time to hibernate and stitch to good music or a favourite movie.

Linda H said...

Colleen, glad you are having fun with the Mill Hill kits. They have so many lovely ones! I almost always use one more strand than the pattern suggests, no matter the project. I just don't care for the background showing through. I like full coverage!! I too enjoy relaxed stitching in January, with no looming deadlines.

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