A guest review from a friend with more stitching time than sense.
From the Designer
Anna Dittmann’s work can be found under the username escume on www.deviantart.com.
What is it?
An art to stitch design, ‘Tea‘ was originally published as a print in 2014, coinciding with the release of season 4 of BBC’s Sherlock. It shows Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and is a watercolour interpretation of a scene from Season 2. It was converted to Cross stitch and made available via Heaven and Earth designs in April 2014.
Why this chart?
I blame Mel Hicks for this chart. In a moment of weakness we both succumb to ‘fangirl’ patterns (she to Bilbo Baggins, me to Sherlock Holmes). One of us is making solid progress, the other…not so much.
Heaven and Earth Designs have an excellent reputation for working with the designers, legally licencing their art and controlling illegal reproduction as far as they are able.
I’ve had mixed success with actually completing art to stitch designs in the past. I have three with less than 200 stitches completed, one finished bookmark and two solid WIPs (one being ‘Tea’).
So ‘why this chart?’ I could go on all day justifying this chart because it “fits with my tea and coffee themed genre” or “admiration of the artist” or even “Isn’t that a pretty shade of blue?” The truth, I fear, is more simple. I’m a shameless member of the Cumbercollective and if I’m going to tackle a chart with slightly less than 163,000 stitches, Benedict Cumberbatch is the man I’m going to spend an obscene amount of hours with.
So let’s talk about the chart, and my experience stitching it.
I purchased ‘Tea’ as a digital download from Heaven and Earth (in the Large format). This gives me the freedom to print a copy out if I so desire, or work on it with one of the many available tablet apps (I use GoodReader). The cover has a full colour picture of the finished art and includes stitch count, approximate size on 25ct and how many floss colours are needed. It’s worth noting that this information is also available on the Heaven and Earth Designs site prior to purchase (just so you know what you’re letting yourself in for). The complete floss list is NOT available prior to purchase.
The chart itself is 42 A4 pages with three row overlap on top and left hand edges, which I’ve found sufficient for aligning while stitching. The symbols are clear and unambiguous. Even on a printed version (I have the luxury of zoom on my electronic copy) they are clearly readable.
The chart pack also has instructions and notes on how to stitch ‘Tea’. It recommends stitching on 18 or 25ct with two threads over one. I, being the trend-setter that I am, chose to go with a non-standard choice of 20ct over one. Whatever fabric you choose, make sure you choose a weave that is comfortable for you because you’ll be stitching this for a LONG time. Also included are approximate thread requirements for each colour assuming the stitcher is using 25ct. All stitches are full crosses and there is no backstitching.
Also noteworthy is the fact that ‘Tea’, unlike many art to stitch designs does NOT have a fully stitched background. This makes fabric choice important as it will show around the finished design. The good news is that this also reduces the daunting number of stitches somewhat.
So let me tell you about my experience stitching this monster so far. I started the project I’ve fondly come to refer to as ‘Big Blue Batch’ in May. Having done the obligatory hyperventilate over the size of the fabric, I made a conscious decision to start at the bottom left. Why? I’m glad you asked. Firstly, I wanted to get stuck into the full pages first (and Big Blue’s head has a LOT more white-space around it). You know the story, tackle the tough stuff first. Secondly, I was itching to get my fingers on that delightful watch down in the bottom corner. I wanted to see the resolution in stitches before I got in too deep.
What became clear very quickly was that 20ct evenweave was working for me. I’ve never been happy with the coverage of two threads over one on 18ct and I knew 25ct was beyond my eyesight to tolerate for long. 20ct was like Goldilocks….Juuuust right.
One page in and I was just skimming the bottom of the watchband and the tantalising glimpse of ‘something’ was enough to hook me. Yes, you heard it folks, this chart is the ultimate tease. You’re just reaching the ‘good bit’ on a page and it lures you onto the next one with a promise of fulfilment. But it delivers…and how! If you look at my progress shot further down you’ll see what I mean. You can see the hands on the watch! It is CLEARLY 9 o’clock. If there was ever a chart that rewarded for putting the right colours in the right squares, it’s this one. (Am I ranting? Yes..I am..sorry).
The watch lead to the hand, the hand to the saucer, I followed the thumb knuckle up the edge of the robe and into the gentle folds of the collar. And that’s my next tip….When tackling a mammoth project like this, break it down. Give yourself a roadmap and follow it. All the instructions say to tackle these in 10X10 blocks and I have…sort of. What I do is I follow the 10X10 blocks with a goal to complete ‘something’. Look for identifiable ‘stuff’ and build around it. It helps me keep my motivation up.
I should also state …. you’ll make mistakes. I’ve made mistakes … LOADS of them. A stitch one too far right or a couple. Be smart! Work out if it will matter in *gulp* 163,000 stitches. Some will (on the watch face) and some won’t (in the broad expanse of his robe). If it matters, then unpick. If not….sigh, swear you’ll never make another mistake and move on. There’s a section in his robe that I KNOW has the wrong colour, it’s a shade too dark..or light..or green..or..something, but I defy you to pick it (I know I can’t). But there was also a section on the right that had the wrong colour and it was clearly visible (to me). I spent three laborious hours snipping and unpicking and I’m glad I did so. Learn what matters, draw a line for yourself and remember…This is supposed to be FUN! Don’t beat yourself up.
My final comment would be that this, surprisingly, has not been the nightmare I envisioned. There seems to be a reasonable flow to the pattern which seems to naturally break into ‘zones’. I haven’t felt that with my other HaED charts. For someone wanting to tackle their first ‘challenging’ project, this would be a good choice. However, projects this size are not for the faint of heart and unless you truly love the pattern, and are willing to commit months…and probably YEARS to it….buy it as a print and save yourself the grief.
To stitch the charts exactly as designed, you will need:
1 skein each DMC 158, 159, 160, 161, 168, 311, 312, 317, 318, 334, 336, 413, 414, 501, 502, 503, 504, 517, 518, 519, 522, 524, 535, 550, 597, 645, 646, 762, 791, 792, 793, 794, 796, 797, 799, 803, 806, 807, 809, 813, 823, 824, 825, 826, 844, 924, 926, 927, 928, 930, 931, 932, 955, 958, 959, 964, 992, 993, 3021, 3024 3031, 3072, 3750, 3752, 3753, 3760, 3761, 3765, 3766, 3799, 3807, 3809, 3810 , 3813, 3816, 3817, 3839, 3842, 3848, 3849, 3865, white.
2 skeins each DMC 598, 747, 828, 939, 3768, 3811
3 skeins DMC 820, 3756
Approximately 100 skeins of DMC floss….ALL of them shades of blue and green! Seriously…I didn’t even know DMC made that many shades.
25 count White or Cream Evenweave (stitch count 400 x 407). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1, or on any other count, or on Magic Guide.
For 25ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 22” x 25” or 56 x 68cm or a fat half (27 x 36″) or medium pack (30 x 39″) of 25ct Magic Guide.
Approximate cost for Project
Approximate cost to stitch Tea using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do not include postage):
Floss: $ 81.00
Total: $87.00 ($160.00 AUD or €144.50 or £114.00)
Places to Buy
Heaven and Earth Designs sell globally, both pdf digital charts and printed charts. Both in regular and large formats.
Colours Down Under has all the threads and a variety of white and off white fabrics in stock. Jo would be happy to order in the printed chart, and offers a 10% discount on the package (chart + floss). Mention this review when ordering.
Colour Cascade Fabrics has a variety of fabrics for you to make this design unique. Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 27 February 2015.
OzStitch has all the threads and a variety of white and off white fabrics in stock.
Casa Cenina in Spain can order this chart in for you. They also stock a variety of fabrics and floss for your unique creation.
Colray Crafts provides kits for Heaven and Earth Designs. COntact them for a quote.
Cross Stitch Heaven provides kits for Heaven and Earth Designs, contact Donna about kitting up Tea if you are interested.
SewandSo stocks DMC, plain evenweave fabrics and DMC Magic Guide fabric.
Polstitches has a range of hand dyed fabrics to personalise your design.
Sparklies has a variety of her own hand dyed fabrics to make this design uniquely yours.
Chromatic Alchemy “I have chosen Quiescence (no spot version) for our tea drinking detective, subtle yet interesting and a good match for the blues in the piece.”
123Stitch has the thread in stock and offers a variety of fabrics.
For Further Adventures
Did you like this review? Did it contain all the expected information? Is there anything you would like added or removed from the reviews? Do you know of a particular chart or designer you want to see featured here? If so, please head to the Suggestions page and let me know.
Last Updated: 16 December 2014