Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A picture... as promised!

Finished page 4 today and had to move the qsnaps on My Mother's Garden 2, so here's a progress pic! This is in the sampler colourway - softer, muted and antique looking colours compared to the original bright version. While I'm loving the colours and how it's turning out, I really understand why I rarely stitch anything twice! This is done in Carrie's silks on 40ct Parchment from WDW. :)

Now I need sleep. :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

A little vent and some sale info to pass along...

I'll start with the little vent - I can't stitch very well right now. Nor can I type very well. I sliced my left index finger but good, on of all things, a cardboard box. Stitching is sloooooow one handed - and the timing couldn't be worse, just when I'm racing to try to get masses of stuff stitched in time for Nashville.

Add to that I spent the last two days with yet another bug. Fever, major chills and body aches and tummy in a right mess. I probably should have taken the rest of the week off work to finish recovering, but since the fever was gone today I went back. You know you're sick when customers you barely know keep asking if you're feeling okay. One more day and then I get my weekend.

On to more cheerful things now....

LOTS of sales going on right now almost everywhere!! I've done well to resist most of them, however, I might just have to cave to the Silk Mill's latest sale - 45% off everything until midnight tomorrow - PLUS free shipping. So I'm guessing a few of those sets will be jumping into my cart!

AND I'm working on more new designs - these will be for release sometime next year, but after trying out the Valdani silks I just had to come up with a design to use them on. It's coming along well, and it's going to take every ounce of willpower I have not to start it as soon as I get the charting finished!

I'm plugging away at My Mother's Garden 2 in the sampler colours, and they look awesome. A big thank you to Carrie for helping me pick these out, they are really, really pretty. I'm kicking myself for choosing 40ct, because of the over one stuff. I fly through the over two parts, and then get to a line of verse and slow to a crawl. lol I love over one, just not on 40ct. But I'll keep plodding on! Will post some pics when I move the q-snaps again. :)

I'm also very excited because I will finally get to start the Antique Lace Band Sampler - I decided on Gloriana Silks for it, and Anne was wonderful and dyed up Ecru in Florimell for me. Will be happy dancing when these arrive for sure because it'll give me something else to work on and I'll be able to switch back and forth between the two.

Hmmm... it's 8:43pm, I suppose I should attempt to eat something, but I don't want to upset my tummy again. Toast and Tea? I think so. :) Then maybe I can sneak in an hour or two of stitching before bedtime. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A finish, a review and more!

Warning. Today's post will likely be a long one, since I have lots of news to share today. ;)

First, I finished Growth Rings. The task was difficult because as usual, stitching ADD set in a few days ago, and more so the closer to finishing I got. It's normal for me, and I've still not figured out the reason why. But I persevered and here it is. :) In case you're curious, the fabric is Silkweaver's Purely Primitive in 40ct linen, the floss is Gloriana in Holly Berry and Antique Black. The camera just doesn't pick up the subtle variegation in these, it's lovely in person. I've decided that a Gift Certificate for framing will be the best idea, then Jeff can come with me after Christmas and pick out a frame himself. At least that way it will still be something of a surprise, but he'll get it done exactly as he wants. :)

The biggest cause of my stitching ADD... new stash fondling and future project planning.  I've fallen head over heels for a couple of Rosewood Manor designs which I've been trying to figure out my colours for - Past and Present and Trip Around the World Quilts. The Quilts I'm going to do in Splendor since there are only a few colours, but I'll need a fair bit of each and the skeins are huge. I'd like to stay fairly close to the original colours, but I have a bit of dilemma - the fabric colour, Platinum, only comes in 28 or 32ct and that is just not gonna happen. UGH. I was thinking 36 or 40ct. Even 34 ct would work with the Splendor, it covers nicely on that too. I have a piece of 40ct Flax that is large enough, but it doesn't work as well with the colours of floss. So I either need to rethink the fabric colour or change the green flosses to something less olive. Haven't decided which yet but I'm thinking either WDW 40ct in Linen or Legacy 34ct in Oaten Scone would be nice. OR I could go with a more wintery colour of greens and change the gold beads to silver instead. That would be equally lovely. I just don't know which I'd like to do yet! So I've put that one on hold until the new year while I ponder it. Past and Present on the other hand, uses lots of different colours of floss and not a great deal of each, so I'll likely use things I have here since there is no shortage of floss around here. But I digress.... look at all this stash! These lovelies arrived mere hours before I finished Growth Rings so you can imagine the torment! I wanted to dive into the Valdani silks and play, but I was a good girl and waited until last night. The lovely pink fabric is WDW 40ct Red Pear, the white is 45ct Florence to finish the Sampler Cove Flourish pieces (so the fabric for all four matches). The Belle Soie are the newest colours that came out for Baltimore market and are yummy! The Swatch cards are from Legacy Linen and the newest ones from Wasatch Needlecraft - Lakeside #2 and Zweigart #2. These are seriously invaluable for any fabric junkie like me. And of course all those lovely little balls of floss from Valdani!! This is most of their silk colours, there are a few that are backordered and will be sent at a later date, but this was definitely enough to get me drooling!!

And with that, a review. 

What do I think of the Valdani silk floss? I LOVE IT! 

For price, it's amazing. Those little balls you see are each 23 yards of six stranded floss. (NOTE - these are NOT the three stranded balls that Valdani produces, those are cotton floss and completely different) That's a lot of floss on one little ball - nearly 3 skeins of DMC worth - and they're less expensive than most silks on the market. They retail for $6 each, so they're quite a bargain given their size. Great choice for monochromes and BAPs. 

The colours are beautiful. Really rich and vibrant. The dying is wonderful - the colour changes are soft and gradual with nice overlaps between the main colours. The picture doesn't really capture it well, but it's still pitch black here this morning so I had to use the flash. I chose H204 Nostalgic Rose, S1 Orchids and M30 Deep Waters to test with - no particular reason, just grabbed 3 at random! The only drawback is that there are only 41 variegated colours at present, though I am assured that more will be coming!

The coverage is amazing. This was done with one strand on 34ct linen and the coverage is full with very little fabric show through. Comparable to the coverage of Soie D'Alger, it's a bit thicker than a single strand of DMC. If you like delicate coverage you could definitely use one strand on 32ct and I will likely try that next time out. Myself, I like my coverage a bit heavier, but the coverage on 34ct was more than adequate for my liking.

The shine is incredible. It's got a very rich sheen for a spun silk.

How does it feel? Well it's not as soft as say, Belle Soie or Gloriana. It feels quite like Soie D'Alger actually. Soft and silky but substantial. It's got a medium twist - not as loose as Splendor but not as tight as HDF - somewhere in between (I didn't count to be honest).

And the all important question... how did it stitch? Flawlessly. I first used about an 18" strand (top picture) and had no knotting, tangling or fraying to speak of. So for the next colour I went to 24" and still no knotting, tangling or fraying. I will say that while at my guild meeting I had a little play and I did get one knot - however I was stitching one handed without my stand - big difference since that causes a lot more twisting. But stitching in my normal fashion with two hands using my floor stand there was no issue at all, I didn't even have to dangle the needle. Towards the end of a 24" strand the fraying was slight - not a significant amount. I tried both a #26 needle and a #28 needle (both Piecemakers) and with the #28 there was a tiny bit more fraying, but only towards the last stitch or two. So it performed wonderfully. I kept saying to Jon while I was stitching how impressed I was. I think I used the word WOW several times.

The company guarantees they are colourfast. I haven't put that claim through a rigorous test yet, however I did two things. Using the bright red, I rinsed it under cold water and left it overnight to dry on paper towel. There was no bleeding onto the paper towel, so this morning I tried hot water and a paper towel - still no bleeding. I can't say whether there would be or not with every single colour or using detergent. I always recommend caution when washing hand dyed threads of any kind.

One other bonus is the that the company uses eco friendly dyes for all their silks and cottons (this doesn't include their rayon threads). They do a huge range of different types of threads, and most of those have a large range of colours. I haven't tried any of the others, I'm a silk girl, so I don't know if I will or not.

Overall I give this thread really high marks. I've added a new assignment to my agenda - come up with a design to use this stuff in - pronto! Which for me means probably sometime next year since my plate is already overloaded. lol They're not currently available in many shops, but Wasatch Needlecraft has ordered them for me, and Anita's Little Stitches carries them as well. ANY shop that carries their cotton floss can order them for you, as well as any shop that orders from Wichelt. You can also order them directly from Valdani, if it's in stock they ship within 24 hours of ordering so they're really quick. 

Tonight, if I can stay awake long enough, I'll be starting either a Christmas ornie for my grandmother or a model. Can't decide which should take priority yet. I'd love to keep playing with these Valdani threads but I do have things to get done first!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Like sparkles but hate metallic thread?

I think I may have found a thread you'll love. But more about that in just a minute. ;)

I got in some swatch cards I'd ordered from Rainbow Gallery this week. I bought the cards for Splendor and Petite Treasure Braid since I love both and would like to use both in my designs in future. I'd forgotten how much I like the Splendor colours, they're very bright and vibrant, solidly dyed with no variegation at all. I like Splendor because I get awesome coverage down to 34ct with one strand. It's not expensive - about $3.50 a card, but you get so much on a card! They're 8 yards, 12 strands, so per yard it's very inexpensive. Probably not great if you only need it for five stitches, but if you're doing a lot of a few colours it's a good choice. The Petite Treasure Braid I love. It's much nicer to use than Kreinik's metallics and it does come in some really pretty colours! I don't think it's quite as many as Kreinik. It's also less expensive. A card is about $2.75 most places, however, you get 25 yards in comparison to Kreinik's #4 which is only 12 yards and retails for about $3. Anyway, to make a long story short (yeah, I know, too late), they also sent me a swatch card and a sample of their newest product, Petite Silk Lame Braid. 

It's not a new product, they've been doing Silk Lame Braid for years in thicker weights, which are mostly for canvaswork, and cross stitch on low counts up to 14. However, this year, they released the Petite version, which is suitable for cross stitch on 16ct (or 32ct over two) and up. It's similar in weight to the Petite Treasure Braid or a #4 Kreinik. What is it exactly? It's Splendor silk woven with a blending filament of the same colour. The result is a much more subtle sparkle than using a metallic on it's own. Similar to using a blended needle with a blending filament - just much less hassle. It's single stranded on the card, use it as is without separating. It currently comes in 26 colours but there are 22 more being released in January. It retails for about $3.50 a card and you get 20 yards on each card, so it's not terribly expensive, since you're probably not going to use it for huge areas and more as an accent thread. So what do I think? I absolutely love it.

I test stitched it on 35ct and 40ct (both over two) to see how it would behave. It behaved beautifully. There was none of the twisting and tangling and knotting commonly associated with metallics. I used an approximate 18" length and only had to dangle the needle once or twice. It didn't come apart like many metallics do, and it didn't fray terribly either. It performed very well in fact. On the 35ct I used a #24 needle, and on the 40ct I used a #26 needle. It was a little bit of a squeeze getting it into the #26 eye (Bohin needle for reference) but it glided through once I did get it in there. Please excuse the obviously messy stitching - I am NOT an in hand stitcher, I absolutely hate it because I can't make nice neat x's that way. On 35ct it was perfect coverage, not crowded at all. On 40ct however... it's doable, don't get me wrong, I would definitely use it for small areas, but it is a bit of a tight fit. I would think it would cover nicely on 32ct as well, but I didn't try that out today. Maybe I will at a later date. For 14/28ct I would probably go up to the next weight, Silk Lame 18, because I don't think the coverage would be adequate. No matter what I did with the camera and scanner I could not get it to pick up the sparkle accurately, but it IS there, much more so than the pictures show.

Overall, 2 big thumbs up. I will definitely be using this for new designs in the coming years, it's seriously wonderful stuff. 

Okay on to other matters... lol 

November's Gift of Stitching magazine is now out, so I can show off pictures of my contribution finally!! It's called A Northern Christmas Expression, and it's a 15 sided biscornu ornament. I stitched it in 2 colours of Gloriana Florimell - 1 thread over 2 on 32ct linen. Just a note - the coverage of one strand of this thread on 32ct is actually quite nice! I was very impressed. It also uses Petite Treasure Braid and 3 colours of Delica Beads, so there is lots and lots of bling on this one! I included a conversion to DMC, Kreinik and Mill Hill. I have to say, I was a little bit freaked when I was asked to do an ornament. I don't DO finishing. I'm not a sewer, I'm not good at it and I don't like doing it. However, the assembly for this was really simple. It was my first attempt and won't be my last. 

And lastly, I'm adding another entry to the corrections page in a few moments. :( Thank you to Bhooma and Nadia for pointing these out to me! It's for the Antique Lace Band Sampler (yep, again). Note to self: never, ever again release a design without model stitching it FIRST! ;)

ETA - I made a mistake in the pricing of Petite Treasure Braid - it's MSRP is actually $2.75 not $3.75.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Okay, time for an update...

I've been so lax in keeping up with what's going on! I really do try to post every week, but sometimes life gets in the way.

It's been busy at work, hunting season is here so we're doing extra cutting and packing. Well not me personally, but with personnel redirected to that task, it's been busier for the rest of us. And it seems like everyone in SW Ontario is in a bacon frenzy so I've been slicing my little heart out. Okay that didn't come out the way I meant it, but you get what I mean. I swear some nights I dream about bacon. The kitties love me when I get home from work since I reek of it! Strange thing though? I still love bacon. lol

I'm still working on Growth Rings. I had hoped to have it finished by now, but I'm getting close! If I can manage a couple of non-stop stitching days this week I will be happy dancing soon enough. I'm debating whether I should just pick out a frame, or get my brother to pick it out since it's his... he already knows what he's getting so that might be the better idea. I don't know.

My trunk show/presentation at the needlework guild went fabulously well! I'm excited to say that I've joined and I'm so happy to have found a group of ladies as passionate about needlework as I am! It'll be a tight fit, getting from work to guild meetings on time, but I'll make sure I can swing it!

I'm also very excited about some silks that are on their way to me from Valdani. I will post lots of pics and do a write up when they arrive. I'm hoping one of the colours will be the perfect fit for a planned project so I can finally get started on it!! They've already got one major thing going for them, especially for someone like me, the queen of BAPs - the balls are huge. (TEE HEE, dirty minded giggle) 23M of six stranded silk - so almost 150M per ball. And they retail for $6!!! That's really inexpensive for silk, and for most projects, even the huge ones, you'd only need a few. Obviously, they're not a great fit for small projects where you only need a little of each colour, but for huge monochromes and stuff they'd be perfect. I can't wait to see the colours! I'm really hoping that I finish Growth Rings BEFORE they arrive, cause if they arrive first, I'm in BIG trouble.

Oh and just to tempt me even more? Silk Mill is having another sale. 20% off all of their sets, AND free shipping for the month of November. I must resist. I must resist. I must resist. Well maybe just one. Or two.

Hmmm... I know there was something else I meant to post about but it'll have to wait. Running off to work now!