Down the Rabbit Hole

When I was growing up, my local shop for crafting supplies was a fabric factory shop. It was, and still is, an Aladdin’s cave of all things fabric-y, with a supply of wools and yarns for good measure. I grew up in sheep-country, where the local economy in years gone by was built on wool. I loved going to this factory shop, and I’ve built quite a stash from my trips over the years.

BUT. As might be deduced, it caters to a select handful of crafts: to quilters and dressmakers, to embroiderers and cross-stitchers, to knitters and crocheters. All things fabric and yarn, in fact.

Now, I’m generally fine with this; I am primarily a cross-stitcher, with occasional crocheting and dress-making thrown in.

Leaving home, though, meant that I had to find a new supplier for my crafting needs. And so I found Hobbycraft.

 

Hobbycraft, if you don’t know it, is less an Aladdin’s cave, more a rabbit-warren of crafts. Chances are, you will find what you need, and then, getting lost on your way to pay, you will find other things. Things which glitter and sparkle, which call to your crafter’s heart, sing out a siren’s song, and you will find yourself walking out with a whole new craft to start.

Me, I have started dabbling with papercrafts; with scrapbooking, in particular. I’ve cross-stitched a few cards in the past (it’s a nice way to use up small kits and patterns), but otherwise stayed out of the paper aisles. I mean, I’ve always like notebooks (love Paperchase!), but otherwise paper doesn’t inspire me like fabrics and threads.

Until earlier this year, when I got myself a scrapbook to do something with those small cross-stitch kits which come free with the magazines. I wasn’t turning them into whatever they were suppose to be; I was just stitching them and tucking them, out of sight, into a Projects Drawer. Which is a bit of a waste, when you think about it.

And now, when I go into Hobbycraft, I find myself wandering the papercraft aisles, looking at the pretty papers and the stickers and the sparkly pens. I’ve even started looking at scrapbook kits on eBay.

I can resist, sometimes. I mean, I have other projects, and not enough time to spend on another craft, but oh the paper’s so pretty, and it wouldn’t take all that long, would it? It’s just arranging things artfully and sticking them down, right? And it’s not like I’ll be worrying about Proper Layouts – mine’s just for my cross-stitching.

 

The Crafter’s Holiday

I had a week off this week. Nothing special, just a week at home with plans to crack on with various projects and to catch up with TV series and generally to have a lovely, lazy time.

The projects took a hit though.

One new magazine….

FestivalBracelet.jpg

…and a trip to Hobbycraft….

Kingfisher.jpg

…and my other projects lie forgotten in my project bag. Oops.

On the other hand, I’ve found these few cross-stitches to be very meditative and I remember why I took up stitching in the first place. I also think I might have completed the festival cuff in the time the pattern suggested. For the first time ever.

Monster Projects

The wonderful thing about Edward’s Imaginarium is the vast number of potential projects. Of course, the fact that the most difficult stitch is a double doesn’t hurt.

Currently I have two different monsters on the go. One’s being done in a multi coloured 4 ply sock wool, which actually is at least partly wool, and the other is a much larger acrylic yarn.

ProjectBag.jpg

It’s taken me a while to get used to such tiny stitching with the 4 ply wool and 2mm hook. I’m still not sure how much I like it. Normally not much. I prefer the chunkier yarn, especially when I’m counting to 54 for the round…Easier on the eyes as well.

Scrapbooking Cross-Stitch

I collect notebooks. I like paper and the idea that this new notebook will have a purpose. It will be home to my next Big Idea.

Whenever I go into Hobbycraft, I look at the scrapbooks and I think about getting one. Only, I don’t really understand what scrapbooking is all about. It looks like making a book of collages, or gathering pictures and things for inspiration. I’m not much of a one for collage and if I found my bits and bobs for inspiration and stuck them down, my brain would probably think the job was done and move onto something else. So I’ve looked at the pretty scrapbooks and moved on, unable to justify getting one.

And then, while packing up for a move, I realised how many little cross-stitch projects I had. Doing nothing. Like the Mouseloft kits. Once complete, I don’t always know what to do with them, so they get put away and forgotten about.

So I joined a couple of dots.

craftscrapbook

From the beginning

The first page of my cross-stitch scrapbook, with the hedgehog which started my cross-stitch habit. The swallow was supposed to become a brooch but since it’s been a couple of years and I still haven’t stuck the pin on, it’s probably safe to say that won’t happen…

This year, my cross-stitch plans involve filling my scrapbook.

Keeping Warm this Winter

In these dark and dismal days of winter, it’s nice to think of brighter things – of sunshine and daisies and warm summer days.

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But until we get there, I’m making this brightly coloured granny square blanket to snuggle under. I just couldn’t resist the wool when I saw it in Hobbycraft..

It might take me a while – and a lot of wool! – but I’m finding it very therapeutic for an anxious mind, all these trebles and sets of three. Nothing complicated and I can nip along a line quite quickly.

For the interested, the yarn is by James C. Brett, called Party Time, shade PT4, and I’m using a 6.5mm hook. Oh, and it’s 100% acrylic.

Keep Calm and Colour In

Colouring in’s all the rage right now – or it was last year: is it still? Apparently it’s soothing to the frazzled mind to sit still for five minutes with a colouring pad and pencils.

Certainly, I found it quite useful when I was revising for my summer AS exams more years ago than I care to remember – but I was using it to procrastinate, not calm down. I forget how calming it was. I think I got through an entire colouring pad that summer.

 

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The reason I bring up colouring in is that, having gone through my magazines with a fine-tooth comb, selecting potential projects and making organised notes of the supplies required, I now find myself in that limbo-land wherein I must await a trip to my local Hobbycraft before I can gather the last few items I need for my February Project. And I have a few weeks of my colouring-in calendar to catch up on. Sadly the camera is doing something funny, so instead I have a picture of the Peacock cushion I made for my mother for Christmas, from CrossStitcher 296. I like to think of cross-stitch as Stitching-by-Numbers, although there is that counting element, so it’s not quite as mindless…

Inbetweentimes, and aside from the colouring, I’ve also been testing another fabric I picked up from IKEA, but which sadly is not as excellent as the linen for cross-stitch, and I fear I will give up with it. A shame, as I planned to make a much-needed needle-book, but I have other fabrics. And my needles are still quite safe in their length of scrap-aida.

Behind the Picture

The thing about cross-stitch as a form of embroidery is that it is very simple to do, ignoring, if you will for the moment, all the counting involved. Not only is it uncomplicated, but it is generally done on fabrics with holes already clearly marked.

So simple, in fact, that even a child can do it. Provided, of course, that they have the attention span for it.

But complications caused by cross-stitch arise when it comes to the reverse of a design. It is the back of a piece which, allegedly, shows the talent of the stitcher. According to some, the back should look very very similar to the front.

Now, obviously, when you first start cross-stitching, the back’s the last thing you’re going to be worried about:

Christmas ShoppingPenguin Cross-stitch

Admittedly, this penguin isn’t the worst, but I’d rather not reveal the depths of my terrible stitching.

On the other hand, fortunately, the more you stitch, it becomes easier to keep it tidy:

Christmas HouseChrismas House Reverse

There’s still some way to go before the reverse of my stitching matches the front, but it is much easier to identify what it is from the back.

These two were stitched the better part of a year apart and, as you can see, the stitching’s much tidier, although I’m not sure that I’ve really changed my stitching all that much. I aim to stitch as efficiently as possible. I stitch the bottom stitches of a colour /// before going back over \\\. I suppose the biggest difference is that I’ve started consciously being neater with the thread-tails. But otherwise, I’m a Life’s Too Short kind of a person, so I don’t tend to pay too much attention to the back.

What about you? How neat is your stitching? Or are you like me, and only worry about the front?