Thursday, October 20, 2011

Online Needlework Show

Wow, it's here already? Today at 2pm, the Online Needlework Show opens. :)

I will as usual be displaying through European Cross Stitch, and my newest release, My Mother's Garden 2 will be released today for the show. It's not quite "new", those of you who receive the Gift of Stitching will recognize it. For those of you who do not, here's your chance. :) The design includes thread recommendations for two different colourways, and DMC conversions for both. The brights colourway is stitched in Carrie's Creation silks on Sassy's Fabrics, the more muted sampler colourway will be stitched in Carrie's Creation silks on WDW linen. More to come on that as soon as I finish my Christmas stitching! Looking forward to it, since I've had the silks and linen for a while and they're soooooo pretty! It was a mad rush trying to get this done and out in time for the show, but I did it. YAY! :)

So how does the show work? I've seen a number of questions about it lately with it coming up and I figured I would post a little about that. It is, essentially, a wholesale show. Stitchers can't buy directly from the show. BUT, you CAN view all the "booths" and see all the latest and greatest stuff coming out. Once the show opens, you can click the General Viewing link up in the top right corner to see all the Vendor booths, and click on each one's links to see what they're offering. In a lot of cases there are door prizes and contests so keep your eyes open for these. When you see something you like, you can then contact your LNS, ONS or any of the shops listed in the Retail Shops section of the page and have them order stuff in for you. This is basically your opportunity to tell shops what you'd like them to order instead of waiting to see what they bring back, so it's a little more interactive than the average wholesale show. :)

Okay on to other things... I'm still working on Growth Rings and I made a lot of progress over the weekend. I should be able to move the qsnaps down and start working on the bottom half this week. Work has been a bit crazed, and I got slapped with a bit of a bug last week so stitching time last week was at a premium, but I spent most of my days off with needle in hand... and cleaning up my stash! It was necessary, I could no longer open and close my chart drawers.

What else is new... OH! I'm having a trunk show next week. :) This is my very first one and I'm really excited! I was contacted by Norfolk's Own Needle Arts Guild to host a trunk show at their next meeting (October 26th). So it will be a busy weekend preparing charts and readying models for display.

And with that, it's almost time to run off to work again, so until next time, happy stitching!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Silk Mill Review

Okay, I know I was going to do a fabric review for the 28ct I got in last week, but I figured since the Silk Mill skeins arrived first, they deserved to get reviewed first. It has nothing to do with the fact that they were for a design that I have been itching to start. Really, it doesn't. ;)

So what do I think? 

I really like them. In fact I love them. 

First, I will say, these are definitely not for the faint of heart or those that don't like to play and experiment. They do take a little bit of getting used to, there is a definite learning curve involved with using filament silks. That said, if you take the time to learn how to use them, you'll probably love the effect you get with them. They are also not really for everyday use, as in you probably wouldn't want to stitch a whole "picture" style design with them, like a Mirabilia or a HAED. However, they would be fantastic as an accent thread in these types of designs. Want to accentuate the tail of mermaid and make it shimmer? Want to make the moon glisten on the water? Want to make those wings sparkle? These are perfect. For a whole design of this type, they'd probably be overkill. However, for a sampler, anything goes, and these are wonderful for samplers.

As far as filament silks go, these are better than most. Here is a quick little review of how they performed.

Price - they're not outrageously priced. Each skein is 2.50GBP (just under $4 US, comparable to silks from Au Ver a Soie and NPI) and is 7 yards of 6 stranded silk. However, she also does silk packs with assortments of colours, which are much less expensive, especially if you just want a few colours to try out. The larger the set, the larger the discount.

Colours - they're available in 600 colours. I don't have anywhere near that many *yet* but I can say that the colours I do have are clear and vibrant and very solidly dyed. Not seeing any variegation, they're definitely solid colours. If you need help with picking colours, just email and ask, Wendy is ever so helpful.

Shine - holy cow! They're really super shiny. I put them above Eterna's MiniTwist, on par with Soie de Paris and just below Pearsall's for shine. I really tried to capture the shine in the picture and I think I got it pretty close. They sparkle beautifully, and overall give a really glossy shine.

Coverage - I'm using one strand on 40ct. The coverage is really full as you can see in the picture above. Not crowded, but defnitely dense. I think you could get away with one strand on 34ct. 32ct might be a stretch. That said they'd probably be a bit thick for something like 55ct. 45ct might be okay. For over one stitching, they're probably not your optimal thread if you like over one on 28ct and above - they're really just too thick for that. For 22ct or 25ct, they'd be really great I bet. I would also not recommend using two strands of this stuff for one reason and one reason only - they're slippery suckers. If you're wanting two strand coverage, I'd probably just stitch with one strand twice. Yes, it's more time consuming, but much neater with less frustration. Multiple strands will just slip and slide over each other and have a tendency to not lay nice and flat beside each other. I haven't tried two strands with this particular brand, but I have with other filaments and it's a learning experience, that's for sure. ;) Given that I mostly use one strand for everything, that's not a factor for me. Edited to add: The thickness of one strand is a fair bit thicker than DMC.

Fraying, unravelling - It's got a different type of twist (I don't know how to explain it, it's not necessarily tighter, but holds together much better) than most filament silks, so the thread stays nicely twisted while stitching and doesn't unravel so you don't get those flyaway bits that are normal with filaments. No fraying at all in fact. I started with a 12" strand, at this point I'm using a 24" strand and still no fraying. I'm trying to make it fray, but it just won't. :) Really stands up well to the friction of stitching. I'm using #28 Bohin needle with it, just for reference, and even though it's thick, the needle isn't wearing on it. I do recommend using high quality needles with it - something like Bohin or Piecemakers. The others I've used, like John James or DMC can have burrs in the eyes and they will cause a lot of issues with snarling up the thread. Not something I've tested with these, but I have with Eterna and you wouldn't believe the snarl ups a bad needle can cause.

Sticking - Okay if you've ever used a filament silk, you'll know the nightmare of threads sticking to the imperfections on your hands and having to scrub and use hand cream to help. Not so with these. My hands are a frightful mess - dry and flaky from constant handwashing and cleaning with bleach and lots of little nicks and hangnails and whatnot. They are NOT sticking to my hands at all. I have to admit I was really shocked by this, because filaments are notorious for it. 

Stitching - They're springy. It takes a little getting used to to get them to lay nice and flat, but it's not a terrible issue. After the first couple of strands I was right into the swing of it, and again, it's normal behaviour for filaments so it wasn't anything I wasn't expecting. 

Twisting and tangling - They do like to twist up a fair bit. When using shorter lengths (12") it wasn't that much of an issue, dangling the needle helped immensely. Since I switched to longer lengths to try and get it to fray, it's tangling and knotting a bit more. My fault though, I do know better than to use long strands, but I was trying to get it to fray! The thread is pretty curly when you first unskein it, so that is likely the reason they're doing it, and I would be willing to bet that dampening the strand would get the curls out and probably tame it a LOT. I'm going to try that today and see if it does help, which I'm sure it will. Basically, keep your strands short and dangle your needle and you'll be fine. Be careful when dangling, these are slippery and needles can slide off!

Overall, I give this thread really high marks. It's beautiful and will add some really neat texture and dimension to stitching. As far as filaments go, it's easy to stitch with. Disclaimer - there is no point in comparing it to how a spun silk thread stitches, like HDF, Soie D'Alger or Splendor because the way the thread is made is entirely different so it behaves very differently. Filaments are, by nature, more difficult to stitch with than spun silks. However, the way they gleam in the light is also very different so if you like playing with textures and effects, they're definitely worth trying. I can't wait to try some satin stitches with it!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I'm thankful that it's here and I don't have to lug around anymore turkeys at work!!

But seriously, I'm mostly thankful for my wonderful family. My boyfriend is the most loving and supportive man I've ever known. My son, who is having a few growing pains entering adulthood, but seems to be overcoming them well (though he misses his mommy and tells me so almost every day). My mother for her unwavering support and encouragement. My father, who, even now worries about his little girl all the time. And my brother who has finally acheived the success that I hoped for. 

I'm also thankful for my friends, both those in person and those online, who listen to my rants and try to see past my indecisive nature (which I'm sure must be frustrating at times!). I have some wonderful friends in my life and I'm grateful for you all every day. 

Okay, so on to some less soppy stuff now. :) I've been trying to stitch as much as I can, and I have a bit of progress on Growth Rings to show. I'd have more but it's been an especially busy and exhausting week at work this week so I've been too tired to stitch most evenings. But I'm getting through it. :) Tomorrow I'll have all day to stitch so I'm going to. ;) Just a refresher, it's Gloriana Holly Berry and Antique Black stitched on Silkweaver 40ct Purely Primitive. I've been thinking about what colours I'd like to use when I re-stitch this one for myself someday, and I'm leaning towards something a little more earthy I think. Then again by the time I get around to stitching it for myself I'll probably have changed my mind ten more times. ;)

Some other stitching stuff.... I got in a yard of 28ct Dauphin fabric from HDF. It's a cotton linen blend (though I'm not sure on the percentages). The one thing I can say about it without having tested it yet is that it's stiff. I'm not generally a fan of stiff because stiff fabric is usually pretty harsh on threads, so I'm hoping a wash and dry will soften it up a bit (though I've been warned not to iron it because it will stiffen up again). I wonder if fabric softener would help? lol Apart from that, I have to say it's incredibly even and will make a fantastic fabric for over one. It's not quite white, it's almost a silver grey colour, but pretty. I might try my hand at some fabric painting with it as well. It was inexpensive, so I grabbed a yard for exactly that reason - to play. :) I'll probably give it a stitching test run tomorrow if I can drag myself away from Growth Rings for a little while. :)

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

That was fast...

Wanna know what bead heaven feels like? Here's a little glimpse...

Can you say "fast"? I emailed About Beads on the 23rd to special order these, which they did. They emailed me that they had them in on the 27th, I paid, they shipped (I paid extra for express because I wanted tracking and insurance with the way CP has been lately) and on Friday morning they were here. Jon hadn't left for work yet, so he signed for them and they were waiting for me on my desk when I got home from work. Lovely surprise, I must say!

So I spent the morning figuring out some coversions for a couple Mirabilias and Glendon Place charts I plan to stitch someday. :) I despise Mill Hill beads, they're so irregular and I can't stand using beading needles, and on the Delicas I can use a #28 no problem.

This is just the size 11/0 set, but it's a good jumping off point - from here I can simply look up the colours in other sizes and see if they're available or not. There's still a bit of guesswork when converting because Mill Hill's pictures are so horrible. I'm trying to find a sample card (a complete one that has ACTUAL samples, not just pictures) for Mill Hill but not having much luck - most are old and don't include all colours. ARGH!

ETA: Yes, Mill Hill DOES do cards. You can order them from your favourite shop as long as they have a Wichelt account. :) Have ordered the Seed Bead cards.