From the Designer
Telstra Tower (now known as Black Mountain Tower), Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia. Prominent on the skyline of Canberra, the tower rises 195m above the summit of Black Mountain. On still mornings it is common to see balloons in the surrounding skies and the photo opportunities are endless.
I am sure that in the past you have seen some dreadful computer designed charts. You know the ones I mean, hundreds of colours and odd stitches all over the pattern that really don’t add to the design and cause tremendous frustration when stitching. Often the colour key uses typewriter characters, making it very difficult to decide between a capital letter and a lower case one.
Our designs are scanned from original artwork and then put through our software import facility. For some computer charts, this is what you get, one pass through the software and nothing further.
With a Photothreads chart it doesn’t end there! The initial import is often repeated many times, using different settings to get the best result possible. This first pass might use 40 or more colours and determines the best size for a particular pattern.
Once I am happy with the initial result I then modify the colour palette, as often many of the colours can be merged without affecting the end result. It is my aim to use no more than 40 colours for any of our patterns and so far it has not been necessary to increase this number.
I also check for odd stitches and clean up any halos around the work that can appear as a result of scanning. Sometimes I will have to re-work large areas of the design to ensure that it matches the original as closely as possible.
Lastly, I do a colour check, making sure that the threads chosen match against the original artwork. This can sometimes be tricky due to the limited number of colours available in the thread range and explains why only some of our patterns can be produced for tapestry (needlepoint).
The final step is to seek the approval of the artist – sometimes the hardest part of the whole process!
So as you can see, although these designs are produced using a computer, it is not simply a case of pushing a button and out comes a chart. They are the result of hours of painstaking work and the experience that comes with many years of practice.
Why this chart?
This chart is very personal to me. I lived in Canberra for a decade and regularly drove around Black Mountain on my way to work in the mornings. My heart was uplifted seeing the balloons rise out of the fog, especially in February or March when the balloon festival was on.
Telstra Tower (now Black Mountain Tower) is very iconic to anyone who has lived in Canberra. It can been seen from most parts of the city and is often used as a compass or reference point to anchor your place or direction within the city.
I love that the design is the foliage of Black Mountain, with the fog lifting shown in the vague shadow of the Tower and the bright balloon shining above. This design was model stitched on grey/blue Aida, but could really stand out on an appropriate hand dyed fabric.
Telstra Tower is straight forward design of 9 colours used as full cross stitch only. This design is suitable over one or over two, Aida or Evenweave.
If you were to stitch this design over one on evenweave, I would be tempted to stitch the fog and Telstra Tower in half crosses or tent stitch.
This design is quite suitable for beginners to advanced stitchers. The only issue would be in selecting the right colour fabric for the background and counting all the way up for correct placement of the balloon. However even that is not critical as that balloon can be “off” by a few stitches and no one would ever notice.
I urge all Australians or lovers of Australiana to look through the Photothreads charts for a design that calls to you.
Photothreads designs are only available as printed charts. They are printed on good quality white paper.
The cover page has a photo of the stitched design, a blurb about Telstra Tower (reproduced above), a map of Australia showing where Telstra Tower is, and completed size using 14ct Aida.
The second page is of general stitching instructions. Photothreads list Telstra Tower as a “beginner” level chart, so it is right they include beginner level information such as calculating fabric size, finding the centre of your fabric, using a frame and choosing the correct needle. They include instructions and a diagram for full cross stitch and discuss whether to stitch by rows or individual stitches, and whether to carry your threads.
The chart is printed over two pages. Photothreads use very clear and distinct floss symbols. The chart is a little cramped compared to many others. I would prefer this to be over 4 pages instead of two. However, as is, the top of the Tower and the balloon are in the same page. Enlarging this design over four pages would make counting from the tower to the balloon a much more difficult prospect. There are no overlap rows between the pages.
Telstra Tower is ostensibly an art to stitch pattern, or more accurately a photograph to cross stitch pattern. However, Photothreads have done a magnificent job in reducing the design to a beginner chart, while retaining the intrinsic feel of the photograph.
The back page of the chart pack lists the stitch count, approximate design size on a range of standard fabrics, the fabric used in the model and the floss list and symbol key. I love that all of this information is on the back cover as I can kit up this chart without opening the packet.
To stitch the charts exactly as designed, you will need:
1 Skein DMC 341 Light Blue Violet
1 skein DMC 926 Medium Grey Green
1 skein DMC 931 Medium Antique Blue
1 skein DMC 932 Light Antique Blue
1 skein DMC 3042 Light Antique Violet
1 skein DMC 3046 Medium Yellow Beige
1 skein DMC 3047 Light Yellow Beige
1 skein DMC 3078 Very Light Golden Yellow
1 skein DMC 3747 Very Light Violet Blue
14ct Aida or 28 count Grey/Blue Evenweave (stitch count 110 x 160). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1. With 3″ border allowance fabric size is: 14” x 17½” or 35 x 44cm or a fat quarter (18 x 27″).
Approximate cost for Project
Approximate cost to stitch this design using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do not include postage):
Chart: $ 15.60
Floss: $ 4.05
Total: $31.50 ($50.00 AUD or €32.55 or £25.60)
Places to Buy
Photothreads sell their printed charts worldwide.
The Fox Collection sells kits of some Photothreads designs. These kits can be cheaper for Australians than buying the individual pieces from your Local Needlework Shop because they only include the cut of fabric and the amount of floss you need instead of a full fat quarter and full skeins of floss.
Colours Down Under has all the threads and a variety of plain fabrics in stock. Jo would be happy to order in the chart, and offers a 10% discount on the package (chart + floss). Mention this review when ordering.
OzStitch has all the threads and blue/grey Aida in stock.
Colour Cascade Fabrics suggests “Silver Springs, or Blue Moon”.
Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 27 February 2015.
Traditional Stitches in Calgary have a selection of floss and fabrics to suit your taste.
Casa Cenina in Italy stock a variety of fabrics and floss for your unique creation.
SewandSo has a range of floss and fabrics to make this design uniquely yours.
Chromatic Alchemy ” I have chosen Quiescence for Telstra tower I think it evokes a sense of an early evening sunset.”
Crafty Kitten ” Lovely design, you can change the time of day with a bit of fabric colour playing! I would use cotton clouds if you want a midday look (you still get background hazing to purples so it should work). For a more evening feel, which might mesh better with the hazy bit, evening sky or maybe moonlight, or sunlit water. Daybreak might also work if you wanted early morning!”
Crafty Kitten is also running a competition on her site: any orders placed in January over £10 would go into a draw for a £10 Crafty Kitten gift voucher.
Sparklies “I think Misty Morn would be perfect for this one, but Snowy Skies and Summer Skies would work well too.”
123Stitch has the thread in stock and offers a variety of fabrics.
Black Cat Stitchery in Illinois has floss and fabric in stock to make this a project to remember. Erica is offering a 5% discount for readers of Cross Stitch Review. Coupon code: CSRSPRING15. Offer ends 31 May 2015.
Stitches n Things has the recommended materials in stock to kit this up for you.
Fiberlicious “Breathtaking scenery chart! I would pick Fall storm for the balloon; hydrangea for the tower; blue gradient and quiet stone for the landscape.”
Do any of Photothreads designs call out to you? If so, which one and why?
If you liked the review, please share it with your friends, and Happy Australia Day.
Last Updated: 26 January 2015