Some progress, and a new stitch-a-long

First of all, I’m pleased to note that, after a late start, I’ve finished the January block of Once Upon a Time. Even better, I finished it before the February block came out!

January's theme was Snow White. Don't yet know February's block, but the hint was that it's very green. My money is on Jack and the Beanstalk.

January’s theme was Snow White. Don’t yet know February’s block, but the hint was that it’s very green. My money is on Jack and the Beanstalk. Not sure what’s going on with the left side of Snow’s mouth; the backstitch slid between the two threads underneath. Also, the entire time I was stitching the dwarves, I had the song from the Hobbit about blunting the knives and bending the forks stuck in my head.

A few things to note: The fabric is Crystal Doubloon from Picture This Plus, hence all the sparklies. Yay, sparklies! Next, take a look at the word “January” and the blackberry corner portion of the border. See how the color changes? In this picture it’s more noticeable in “January,” but in person the blending on the blackberry portion is really nifty, which was mostly random chance. These two sections were stitched with over-dyed floss from Weeks Dye Works, so there’s a natural and randomly spaced gradation in the thread. To really make the gradation pop, you need to stitch using the English method, where you stitch each X individually. I predominantly use the Danish method, where you’ll do a row of half stitches in one direction before going back in the other direction (here’s a better explanation of the difference, pictures and everything). In general, I don’t like the English method. For me, it takes longer, and it uses more floss. WDW is pricy floss. Kills me that you have to use more of it to get the full effect.

Also, I had some assistance when I was taking that picture.

Also, I had some assistance when I was taking that picture.

The February block will be released in just a few hours! In the meantime, I had some time to kill so I moved on to another project. Little Miss Shabby is a quilting blog but is running a cross stitch “sampler along” called Quilty Stitches. The pattern is based on quilt blocks, with a new block released every two weeks and sixteen total blocks. I’m using a different color scheme, with deeper blues, greens, and reds. I’m using 28-count evenweave, I think in mushroom. I really like my color palette against the mushroom background, so I’m not going to fill in the white portion of the blocks. Instead I’m going to find a darker brown that compliments the mushroom and use that to fill in the border between blocks. Here’s an index of all the relevant Quilty Stitches pages.

The first block was posted January 20, but I didn’t have materials until a few days ago. At any rate, here ya go:

P1010460

My color palette is, on average, deeper and darker than the “official” palette.

The pattern is pretty straightforward. It includes full cross stitch and quarter cross stitch. I don’t like quarter stitch just because my brain likes to shut down while I’m stitching, and when I use linen or evenweave sometimes quarter stitches throw my count off. I also have a tendency to put the quarter stitch in the complete wrong direction. If you’re using aida, for each quarter stitch you’ll need to pierce the little square between stitches; I prefer to do that with a sharper needle than the tapestry needles I usually use. Then again, I avoid aida like the plague because I’m a fabric snob, so it doesn’t come up much. Another thing for beginners to consider, usually you start a pattern in the center, but unless you rearrange all of the blocks of this pattern you’ll need to start in the top left corner. The pattern is about 10×10 inches. To find my starting point, I folded the fabric in half twice to find the center, then measured over and up about five inches (when I say “measured” and “five inches,” I mean I folded a piece of letter paper in half and used that to eyeball 5.5 inches over and up). I called that the top left corner of the pattern, then counted down four stitches and right three stitches for my starting point (leftmost green stitch in the top row, starting in the left bottom corner of the stitch).

Final note for newbies is that the chart does not look like most other cross stitch charts (grid filled with little symbols). It might be easier to print off the chart and color in the different blocks.

A few months ago, when I fussing about how so many cross stitch patterns are either overly cutesy or photos run through cross stitch software, I got the idea in my head that I really wanted to stitch something based on quilt blocks. Of course, I’m not a quilter, and I couldn’t figure out how to build the patterns on my own. And then I found this! Woohoo!

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