Monday, February 26, 2007

Kitting a Chatelaine

This is a subject which has been occupying me faaaar too much over the last few weeks, so I thought I'd get it all down online.

Many Chatelaine designs use a variety of silk threads, both solid colours and varigated. As they're silk, this significantly adds to the cost of the project. Fortunately, Martina Weber also publishes a DMC conversion for these projects so that stitchers can choose how much they wish to spend or swap out those threads they dislike. The question of buying beads also needs to be considered as Martina normally uses Delica beads, but also produces a conversion to Mill Hill.

I've now got 2 Chatelaine projects started and will be adding a third fairly soon. Each of them has been kitted in a different way.

Project number 1 - Watergarden
Watergarden uses quite a lot of DMC threads, as well as silks, so is easier than for many other designs to get hold of all the materials. However, for this design, I chose the oprion of making a simple purchase from European Cross Stitch for all the silk threads and Delica beads. This really was the simple, easy option.

Chatelaine's Watergarden WIP photo
Project number 2 - Medieval Town Mandala
I started this project on my birthday but have made little progress to date as I discovered I have a couple of threads missing. Other than that, I have all the silk threads for this project, no DMCs at all. In this case, the silks were all collected as Christmas and birthday presents from my family. I emailed them a list of the threads needed and suggested a couple of online shops to buy from. From my point of view, this worked our fine, but I have now discovered a couple of threads missing and I haven't been able to find an online source in the UK. I've now emailed European Cross Stitch who have the necessary threads and will be able to send me them.

For the beads, I bought several of the colours required on ebay, but have one colour I don't have yet. I know of one or two online shops that stock this bead colour, but it seems a bit ridiculous to pay more in postage that the actual price of the beads!

Chatelaine's Medieval Town Mandala I haven't made much progress stitching this one as I discovered early on that I needed to use the threads I'm missing. I could keep going, but would prefer not to as I don't want to risk mistakes.

Project number 3 - St Petersburg White Nights
This will be a 12 month project with the chart issued in monthly installments. The materials list and DMC conversion were issued in early February and the first chart will be issued on 1st March.

For this project, I've decided to go with the DMC conversion rather than use the majority of the silks. That part at least is straightforward! The problem really is to decide which of the varigated silks to keep and which to swap for DMCs. There are some online shops and thread producers who show sufficiently detailed photos of the thread to see just how much varigation there is. Even then, it's still not as good as having the actual threads in your hand. However, I have made my choice on this basis, and I'll see how it goes.

For the beads, I've given in and simply ordered the bead pack from European Cross Stitch.

Chatelaine's St Petersburg White Nights

Although I've mentioned European Cross Stitch several times already, I haven't mentioned the different options they offer for kitting a Chatelaine. For St Petersburg, they offer full kits with all fabric, threads and beads. You can get a kit without the fabric, without the solid colour silks, or just the bead pack. On other designs, you can order only the silk threads. I see that Needlecraft Corner too offers a similar service for some Chatelaine designs, althout I've never bought from them at all.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that, for me, European Cross Stitch is the answer. In future, I may just opt for a full kit minus solid coloured silks and fabric - the other ways are too much hassle!

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's a mystery!

This year, I've joined my first mystery group with Carol Tinson at Heirloom Embroideries. The mystery for the first half of this year, is a sampler which can either be stitched as a sampler with a drawn thread border, or finished as a huswif. I've chosen to work on the huswif as I've never made something like that before.

If you don't know what a huswif is, it's a kind of old fashioned, stitched, folding sewing case. There are some lovely photos of a sailor's huswif here (front) and here (back). Modern huswifs have also been designed by the Needle's Prayse and Sampler Cove (see the Quaker Huswif and Today's Heirloom Collection).

The reason it's a mystery is that when you start, you don't know what the design will look like. As you go along, parts of the design are revealed, but only those that you're currently working on, so that it's not until you complete the design that you know what it looks like! The risk is that you may not like the final design.

I stitched a number of Carol Tinson's designs last year, and I like most of her designs, I felt the risk of not liking the mystery design was fairly minimal.

Peachy biscornuMy favourite - Carol's Peachy biscornu

In joining the mystery group, I paid for both the chart(s), instructions and all the materials required. Carol usually offers excellent value for money, so I was quite happy to do so.

The first installment arrived round about the 7th February and I was certainly not disappointed! My pack contained an introductory letter, full and detailed instructions for this part of the design, a chart for this installment as well as materials - Hand Dyed Fibres silk threads by Vikki Clayton, a one-off hand dyed linen from Polstitches and a little gold needle.

My first step was to oversew the linen using my sewing machine to stop it fraying while I'm stitching. By the middle of last week, after finishing 4 Wishes, I was ready to get started.

As usual, Carol's instructions are very comprehensive and beautifully presented and laid out. The variety of stitches used looks intriguing and will offer some challenge to achieve.

The colours are all beautiful in antique green, red/pink and gold. The fabric complements the threads very nicely, varying in colour from similar to the HDF Verdigris to more of a parchment colour. I'll be very interested to see the effect of the shading of the fabric as mine seems to be fairly dark at the top and the threads don't stand out particularly.

I've also found the Vikkii Clayton silks and the linen very luxurious to stitch with - they feel wonderful in my hands. I'm using silk on other projects (my Chatelaines) they don't feel nearly so good! The little gold needle too just seems to add to the luxury. So a good experience so far.

My only small small gripe is the alphabet band which may be continued through the design. I'm just not particularly keen on alphabet samplers. However, it's early days and far too soon to judge without seeing any more of the design.

Now I just need to remember to go and pay my February installment .......

Friday, February 16, 2007

Couldn't resist this one .....

You scored as Luna Lovegood. You're an extreme introvert and because of this, are also a deep thinker. You ponder things others would never dream of pondering and stand with your beliefs without backing down. You find it more valuable to daydream than to socialize, because there's so much more going on in your head than others'. Most people don't understand it, but you seem to prefer it that way.

Luna Lovegood


Albus Dumbledore


Ron Weasley


Sirius Black


Remus Lupin


Hermione Granger


Neville Longbottom


Oliver Wood


Lord Voldemort


Severus Snape


Bellatrix Lestrange


Percy Weasley


Harry Potter


Draco Malfoy


Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with

Oooh - just noticed I'm more like Lord Voldemort that Harry Potter! At least I'm more like Remus Lupin that Voldemort - kind of makes up for it!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A finish!

I was really pleased over the weekend to finish my ‘4 Wishes’ from Just Nan.

I started this piece full of enthusiasm last August, but ran out of steam towards the end of September before I’d even finished the winter section. I picked it up again at the start of January and have been working on it regularly in my lunch hours at work. (Yes, I am sad enough to take stitching to work with me, breaks up a boring, unfulfilling day!)

I made one or two changes to the charted design, firstly by stitching the white border using 3 strands of B5200. Looking back, I think this was due to inexperience on my part as I had not done much stitching on linen prior to August. Looking at the design now, I know that 2 strands would have been enough.

My second change was to alter one of the two squirrels in the autumn section to a more red colour using DMC3826. Red squirrels are native to the UK and now under considerable threat from the American greys. The Forestry Commission has some interesting information on the red squirrel here and includes information on where it is possible to see reds. Most of the sites listed are in Scotland, but I know that the grey squirrels are encroaching further and the reds face serious threat. Hence my wish to include a red squirrel in my 4 Wishes.

In terms of my stitching experience, I found it at times frustrating to be constantly changing thread colours. Any one thread might only be used for a small number of stitches in one of the seasonal bands and each season used a different range of colours - not a cost-effective use of thread. I’m sure this design could be stitched just as constructively and produce an equally lovely result through using fewer colours.

Although I like the umbrella and bee hive charms, I was disappointed in the beads to be added to the design. The beads included in the embellishment pack are tiny and I’m not certain that they really add anything to the overall design. In my view, if embellishments are to be added to a design, they should add to the overall effect and be visible in the finished item. I'm not sure that this is the case with the beads used here - too many of them just disappear into the background and add little to the overall effect.

In the finished design, I'm also slightly disappointed in the effect of the fabric colour. A lot of the threads used are pastel colours and I'm not convinced that they stand out enough on the fabric.

Overall, I enjoyed stitching this design, particularly after I picked it up again in January. I enjoyed the variety of stitches used, although it did take a little while to get used to the linen. However, after finishing spring I did start to get a little bored – once you get that far, there is little new challenge to be faced in completing the design.



40 years ago on Monday ........

Your Birthdate: February 12

You're a dynamic, charismatic person who's possibly headed for fame. You tend to charm strangers easily. And you usually can get what you want from them. Verbally talented, you tend to persuade people with your speaking and writing. You are affectionate and loving, but it's hard for you to commit to any one relationship.

Your strength: Your charm

Your weakness: Your extreme manipulation tactics

Your power color: Indigo

Your power symbol: Four leaf clover

Your power month: December

I got these ........ and these ........

and lots of other lovely gifts! My husband also organised a surprise party for me which really was a complete surprise. So thanks to everyone who came to the party, particularly my mum, dad and sister - I really appreciate it!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Enlarging PDF charts

After downloading your Chatelaine chart, the first task that faces you is to print it out. If you simply print the relevant pdf document, you'll end up with a chart which is unreadable, except with a magnifying glass. The trick with the pdf file is to enlarge the design using Adobe Reader's snapshot tool and either print the snapshot immediately, or copy the enlarged section to another (word processed) document. Instructions and advice on enlarging charts can be found at the Chatelaine bulletin board on ezboard. The discussion is also added to as new versions of Reader become available.

Additionally, if you join one of the Chatelaine groups on Yahoo, such as Chatelaine Design Support, then instructions can also be downloaded from there. If you still have problems, then both at ezboard and on Yahoo, you'll find a bunch of friendly stitchers more than happy to help.

I believe that the way in which Martina supplies her designs as pdf documents that you can enlarge so readily is very good. Many of the paper based charts you can buy are so small that, although still readable, they can make it harder for you to follow the chart. The advantage of these pdf based charts is that it is entirely up to you how large you print the chart. Of course, the disadvantage is the number of pages you end up printing the chart out on.

However, the biggest disadvantage of these pdf based charts is that it can be incredibly fiddly and time consuming working out exactly how you do want to print the chart and how large you want the symbols to be. You're also printing each page of the pdf document on to multiple sheets of paper and need to make sure you keep track of how all these pages fit together - no small task! This makes printing charts very complicated and heavy going for those who aren't so familiar with the workings of a pc.

But - don't be discouraged - it really is worth it! If you do have problems printing out your chart - come on to ezboard or the Yahoo group and just ask!

I've printed out my chart slightly larger than I would normally use a chart and , for the first time, I'm using a marker pen to mark off stitches as I do them - the larger chart gives me more space to do this without making a mess of the rest of the chart. So far it's working well.

To be continued ...........

Edited at 5.20pm

It's just been posted on ezboard that one contributer has just written some new instructions for enlarging charts with Adobe Reader 8 - see here for the instructions - and thanks to the person who wrote them!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Chatelaine for beginners

Last week, I started Watergarden by Martina Weber of Chatelaine Designs.

It really is a lovely design, with beautiful shades of blue. It will be my first large Chatelaine design, although I have completed one of her freebies, Tiny Rose Garden. Watergarden is considerably larger than the freebie, at 237 x 237 stitches, working out at 14.8 x 14.8inches stitched over two on 32 count fabric.

I bought my chart directly from Martina Weber, the designer, via her website, Chatelaine Designs. This is an instant access chart where, after payment, you are sent a hyperlink to the area of the website to download the chart. A password is also provided. At the time when I purchased my chart, Martina was having problems with her ISP and was in the process of moving to a new server. She warned me initially of the problems she was having and when the link she sent me didn’t work, I contacted her. She couldn’t have been more helpful in ensuring I got my chart, even sending a copy by email and following up with a new download location.

The file I received was a zip file containing 5 pdf documents and a jpg image. To view the pdfs,
Adobe Reader is normally required. The jpg image can be viewed a number of ways, through image viewers, web browsers or even by pasting into a word processed document. The files are:

  • General instructions

  • Materials list

  • Black and white chart

  • Colour chart

  • Introductory note

  • Image of the design

The general instructions include any detailed instructions for specialist stitches to use and for beading.

Unlike many Chatelaine designs, Watergarden uses many DMC threads as well as silk thread from Needlepoint Inc, Caron Collection, Thread Gatherer and Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid. The design also requires 11 colours of Delica beads, and two shades of Swarovski crystals.

Materials lists for all Chatelaine designs can be viewed at the
Chatelaine Supply Lists website. The American distributor for Chatelaine Designs, European Crosstitch Company, also supplies kits for those designs available.

It is possible to use DMC threads for this design rather than the Needlepoint Inc silks as the conversion is given with the materials list. In my case, however, I've chosen to follow Martina's recommendation and use the NPIs as I've never used them before. My fabric is Zweigart 32 count Murano - Lurex fabric in pearl flecked white (bought from
Sew and So). I bought the beads and silks threads from European Crosstitch Company.

Week 1 WIP.

To be continued ...........

Quick catch up

Just a quick catch up with some stitching from the end of last year.

First my dad's birthday/Christmas present -

And the framed version -

It's my customised version of 'For Father' by JBW Designs. I am really pleased with this one as I framed it myself. The frame too I really like, although it was all bought and done on the cheap!

I did another customised version of 'For Father' for my brother, but changed the colours (using blues) and the wording. I don't unfortunately, have a photo of that one.

I also stitched for my mother's Christmas present, again a customised JBW design. This time it's 'Grandfathers: Love and Cherish'. I left off the words and changed the colours to 3 shades of pink. I stitched it twice, added some beads, and then finished it as a biscornu.

Front -

Back -

More on this year's stitching later.