Medieval Mermaid by Midsummer Night Designs

This is an older design but has so many options for personal interpretation. Medieval Mermaid by Deborah Thorpe of Midsummer Night Designs.

Midsummer Night Designs - Medieval Mermaid Cover

From the Designer

I love mermaids (if you’ll notice, I even put one in my Adam and Eve piece) and thought this might be a different look than what I’ve seen in other mermaid designs. The quote is from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. It’s all in one color, which makes it easy to stitch, and uses Gentle Art’s Shaker Threads, Black Raspberry Jam.

What is it?

My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememberest
Since once I sat upon a promontory
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
That the rude sea grew civil at her song
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the seamaid’s music?

Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 2, Scene 1)

Why this chart?

It’s Shakespeare, it’s mermaids, it’s a declaration of the beauty of singing. What is not to love?

In some medieval printed books illustrations were provided by woodcuts; the image of the mermaid and boat is reminiscent of an early woodcut style.

I am also, as regular readers are no doubt aware, very fond of monochrome and stylised designs. Like so many other designs, this one can easily be personalised for your taste with a change in colour, or colours and fabrics.

Medieval Mermaid is simple whole cross stitch; I can recommend this design for an absolute beginner through to an advanced lover of Shakespeare and medieval illustrations.

Midsummer Night Designs - Medieval Mermaid

Review

The chart pack for Medieval Mermaid has a front and back cover on US Letter (A4) light yellow cardstock.  The front cover has a photo of the stitched design glued on.

The back cover has all information we want to kit up the project, stitch count, fabric used for the model, size of the design, floss used and how many skeins of floss. Succinct but includes everything we need.

The chart is shown in black on page of white US Letter (A4) paper, sandwiched between the covers.  The chart page has only the chart; as there is only one colour of floss and only whole cross stitch, there is no need for stitching instructions or a symbol key.

Although the chart is easy to see on the single page, I would be tempted to enlarge the design to mark off my progress.  The symbols are a little too small for my ham-fisted use of a highlighter.

Materials Required

To stitch the charts exactly as designed, you will need:

GAST 7021 Black Raspberry Jam

 

4 skeins Gentle Art Sampler Threads (GAST) 7021 Black Raspberry Jam

I love this thread colour! Perfectly named.

 

Lakeside Linens 32ct Double Pearled Barley Linen (stitch count 113 x 230). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1. Stitched with the recommended two strands of floss over two threads, with 3″ border allowance, fabric size is:

13¼” x 20½”  or  33 x 52cm  or  a fat quarter (18″ x 27″).

Lakeside Linen Pearled Barley
Lakeside Linen Pearled Barley

For 14ct Aida or 28ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 14¼” x 22½”  or  36 x 57cm  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: $   8.00
Floss:  $    8.00
Fabric: $11.85

Total: $27.85  ($45.80 AUD or €26.00  or  £21.40)

Places to Buy

From the designer in November 2014:
“About 5 years ago, my computer hard drive died. Yes, some of my patterns were saved on an external hard drive but not all and frankly, not the ones I really wanted. At the time I was going through a rough bout of empty nest syndrome as both my children left home for college at the same time. It took a while to get used to it and I was thoroughly down about it and not up to doing anything about my patterns until this year actually. And suddenly, I got bitten by the stitching bug again and here I am, back and hopefully not forgotten. My plan is to open an Etsy shop soon. In fact, I thought it would be later this month but issues with framing have cropped up and that timeline will have to be pushed further away.”

Hopefully Deborah still plans to open that Etsy shop, and bring out those 8 new designs she discusses in her blog.

Australia:

Colours Down Under has all the threads and a variety of plain fabrics in stock.

Colour Cascade Fabrics Tammy suggests ” After the Rain or Dark Fantasy” from her range of fabrics.

Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 27 February 2015.

Canada:

Traditional Stitches in Calgary have a selection of floss and fabrics to suit your taste.

Europe:

Casa Cenina in Italy stock a variety of fabrics and floss for your unique creation.

United Kingdom:

SewandSo has  a range of floss and fabrics to make this design uniquely yours.

Chromatic Alchemy  “I have chosen Sayge for medieval mermaid, I think this colour evokes a vintage feel that is perfect for this piece.”

Crafty Kitten “That’s another one that I would probably put on an antique neutral shade, so Oatmeal (again), Vintage Petals, Faded Olive or Tea Rose”.

Sparklies “To keep the ‘olde worlde’ feel of this piece, but give a sea coloured background I would choose Pisces or Maelstrom.”

Thread Pickerz Silkz suggests “Black orchid or lue ”

United States:

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 Another beautiful design! I suggest using:
Mermaids of Atlantis for the ocean
Sea dragon for the mermaid
Storm brewing for the stars
Shades of brown for the ship
Moonlit water for the fish
Ocean Ridge for the sayings and border.

Discussion

If you like this design, or any others by Midsummer Night Designs, I suggest you contact Deborah via her blog and let her know.

If you liked the review, please share it with your friends.

Last Updated: 5 February 2015

Spanish Rouge by Sampler Cove

I’ve been asked by Mel, as someone who loves samplers and who is currently stitching Sampler Rouge if I would do a review.

Sampler Cove - Spanish Rouge Coveer

What is it?

The Designer of Spanish Rouge is Diane Jourdan, an American who, until recently, lived in Thailand and who created the Sampler Cove company. For those who are, or were, members of the Yahoo group, The Sampler Life, you will recognise her as Thai Di.

Diane makes no comment as to what drew her to design this other than to refer to it as a Spanish Inspired Sampler. Sadly she is no longer designing although has recently returned to live in the US in her retirement. Hopefully she will at some point reverse her decision and design again. We can but hope.

Why this chart?

I was drawn to stitching Spanish Rouge as it looked complicated but in fact isn’t. I loved the overall look of it and as it has a companion piece Spanish Bleu, I could see them both hanging on my wall. Spanish Bleu is also stitched in only two colours.

This particular chart and the Au Soie threads to stitch were a gift to me from Mel sometime ago so my stitching of it is doubly pleasurable knowing that it was given in friendship.

The chart has several specialty stitches but none of them difficult and there are explicit and well drawn how-to diagrams by Valerie Vejrostek. The original model was stitched with one thread on 36ct with Vikki Clayton Hand Dyed Fibers in Diane’s Rouge (especially created for this piece) and Heartwood.

This, and indeed, any of Sampler Cove charts would be suitable for anyone who stitches, be they beginners or experts.

Sampler Cove - Spanish Rouge

 Review

As far as I am aware it is only possible to purchase printed charts of any of the Sampler Cove designs and, as Diane has stopped designing, they are becoming a little more difficult to find.

The chart comes on A4 paper of good quality. It is printed in black and white and there is a three-line overlap on each sheet.

Each part of the design is denoted by a number and correlates with the instructions which come on a separate sheet. The stitch diagrams are large and easy to follow.

There are 12 pages to the design and each is clearly marked. The chart is a 10 x 10 grid although the individual lines cannot be seen clearly; you have to pay attention to the stitch placement.

I have made working copies but it is not really necessary if you prefer to stitch direct from the chart.

My Experience

I am thoroughly enjoying stitching this chart. I did change the dividing stitch pattern as I preferred something plainer and I’m stitching over two, not over one, but then this is what stitching is about; making each design unique to yourself.

Although this design is called Spanish Rouge there is no need to keep to red. I’ve always felt that perhaps purple and yellow, or better still turquoise and orange stitched on black would be good. The latter would be in keeping with the Moors influence in Spain, especially in places like Alhambra.  The more I think about it the more I wish I had. I’m getting very tempted to do it on black.

I am now three-quarters of a way through this sampler. If you would care to watch it’s progress you are welcome to peruse my blog.

Thank you for asking me to do this review Mel. I hope I haven’t frightened all your followers away.

Spanish Rouge by Sampler Cove Kay's Work in Progress Photograph  and stitching courtesy of Kay Jones.
Spanish Rouge by Sampler Cove
Kay’s Work in Progress
Photograph and stitching courtesy of Kay Jones.

Materials Required

To stitch the charts exactly as designed, you will need:

10 skeins Vikki Clayton Hand Dyed Fibers in Diane’s Rouge (especially created for this piece)

10 skeins Vikki Clayton Hand Dyed Fibers in Heartwood.

OR

soie-au-ver-a-soie-945

 

5 skeins AVAS Soie d’Alger Silk 945

 

 

soie-d-alger-946

 

5 skeins AVAS Soie d’Alger Silk 946

 

 

No amounts are given but I have used 5 skeins of each, stitching one thread over two on 32ct.

OR

DMC 814 Very Dark Garnet

 

5 skeins DMC 814 Very Dark Garnet (estimated)

 

DMC 815 Garnet Medium

 

5 skeins DMC 815 Medium Garnet (estimated)

 

Lakeside Linen 36 count “Magnolia” Edinburgh Linen  (stitch count 181 x 284). For 36 count fabric  (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 16¼” x 22”  or  41 x 56cm  or  a fat quarter (18 x 27″).

Lakeside Linen 32ct  Magnolia
Lakeside Linen 32ct Magnolia

For 28ct evenweave stitched over two (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 19” x 26½”  or  48 x 67cm  or  a fat half (27 x 36″).

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: $22.00
Floss:  $45.00
Fabric: $11.85

Total: $78.85  ($114.35 AUD  or  €63.00  or  £57.00)

Places to Buy

Sampler Cove is no longer in business, but at present this is still an easy chart to find.  Check the stores mentioned below.

Australia:

Colours Down Under has all the threads and a variety of plain fabrics in stock.

Colour Cascade Fabrics ” I would choose FairyTale or Fairies Wear Boots for this one”

Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 27 February 2015.

Canada:

Traditional Stitches in Calgary have a selection of floss and fabrics to suit your taste.

Europe:

Casa Cenina in Italy stock a variety of fabrics and floss for your unique creation.

United Kingdom:

SewandSo has  everything in stock to stitch up this design!

Chromatic Alchemy  ” Spanish Rouge looks lovely on a few of my fabrics whilst using the recommended floss. Each colour I’ve chosen gives the piece a different feel. ”

Crafty Kitten “I’d go with just peachy or oatmeal.  I was going to say tea rose, but I think the finer detailed bits will get a little lost on it.”

Sparklies suggests “I have no red threads in my range so I decided to go inverse on this one. White or cream thread on Aries or Etain would make it a different while maintaining the red theme.”

Thread Pickerz Silkz suggests “P3 and Mauve” from her range of silks.

United States:

123Stitch has the chart and fabric in stock.

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 a variety of fabric and floss in stock for your to create your unique vision.

Discussion

If you wish to be a guest reviewer on Cross Stitch Review please contact us.

If you liked the review, please share it with your friends.

Last Updated: 3 February 2015

 

 

 

Hand Dyed Fabrics

Hand dyed fabrics; or why doesn’t the piece in my hand look anything like the picture on my screen?

Hand Dyeing Techniques

Very broadly speaking, there are two main types of techniques used to hand dye fabrics used in cross stitch:

  • Immersion – fabric is put in the coloured liquid.
  • Painting, including ice dying – coloured liquid is put on the fabric.

Immersion is when you make up a bath of coloured liquid solution and you put the fabric into the solution. Scrunching, wrinkling or tying  the fabric produces the mottled colours we love so much.

Painting is when a thicker coloured solution is dripped, sprayed, painted or melted on the fabric.  These techniques give the dyer more control over where the colour goes, allowing some detailed scenes to be produced.

Ice dyeing is a version of painting where you cover portions (or the whole) fabric in ice pieces. The dry colourants are put on the ice pieces.  As the ice melts, the water wets the dry colourant forming a coloured solution on the fabric.

Fabric Types

There are a number of different types of fabric we stitch on, and they are made from of different natural or artificial fibres.

  • Aida – 100% cotton
  • Hardanger – 100% cotton
  • Jazlyn – 52% cotton and 48% rayon
  • Jobelan – 51% Cotton & 49% Rayon/Modal blend
  • Linen – 100% linen
  • Lugana/Brittney – 52% cotton, 48% viscose
  • Monaco – 100% cotton
  • Murano – 52% cotton 48% modal

Natural fibres such as cotton and linen absorb dyes more readily than artificial fibres, so Aida, Hardanger, Linen and Monaco will come out darker than the other fabrics (given the same conditions).

Photo courtesy of Colour Cascade fabrics
Photo courtesy of Colour Cascade fabrics

Photographing fabrics

The below is a set of images of the same fabric:

  1. the image from the dyers site
  2. photograph of my fabric outside in full sunlight
  3. photograph of my fabric outside in full shade
  4. photograph of my fabric inside
  5. photograph of my fabric under artificial light at night

In reality, my fabric is none of these; it is similar to the first two but much more vibrant. A bright lime green.  So why don’t these reflect what we see?

Colour Vision

Very broadly speaking, the cones in eyes that see colour, fall into variations of Red, Greenish Yellow and Blue/Violet based on whether they are short, medium or long wavelengths.

Monitors, digital cameras, mobile phone displays, but use a Red, Green Blue (RGB) display.  Each pixel on the screen is built by driving three small and very close red, green and blue light sources. These light sources overlay each other to differing degrees to give the differing colours. Usually these separate sources are so small as to be indistinguishable, which tricks the eye to see the intended solid color.  When all RGB are on, we get white.

Representation of a RGB Colour Wheel
Representation of a RGB Colour Wheel

 

When printing an image, printers generally use the CMYK colour model. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK.  For printers, shades of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow are overlayed on top of the paper (and on each other, to given the colour we want.  When all CMY are used we get black. In practicality, most printers don’t give a true black, more of a muddy black, which is why blacK is the fourth colour used.

CMYK

To sum up, eyes use wavelengths to see colours.  Digital devices use the subset of colours created by Red Green and Blue lights, heading towards white (full light).  Printers use the subset of colours created by Cyan, Yellow and Magenta, heading for black (absence of light).

There is no possible way for either monitors or printers to accurately reflect the full range of colours that our eyes can see.

Descriptions and comparisons

As well as just showing us these fallible pictures, some dyers use words to help us understand the real colours of their fabrics: “this colour is a bright medium Chartreuse“.  Don’t underestimate the value of this, I once saw a tiny picture of a fabric on my monitor and it looked to be lovely velvety deep blues morphing into black.  When the fabric arrived it was splotchy red and black, like lava and volcanic rock.

Or they compare it to something that we can see in life; as we are stitchers, DMC floss is something we are likely to have at hand: “the approximate DMC colours for this fabric are 437/3827, 3053 and 3859

Hand Dyed Means Unique

OK, so we’ve seen a big picture of the fabric we love, we’ve read the description and checked the floss colours so it should be perfect right?

There are just some variables in hand dyed fabrics that you can never plan for.  The minerals in the water used in the dye bath, the temperature of the water versus the temperature of the ambient air on the day it was dyed, the humidity levels, whether it was line dried or tumble dried, these can subtly change the characteristics of the final piece.

These are three examples of the same fabric, dyed to the same process by the same dyer, each bought months apart:

left is pink/grey;  middle is cream/brown;  right is grey/silver
left is pink/grey; middle is cream/brown; right is grey/silver

 

But you know what, we use hand dyed fabrics because we want something different, we want something unique and we want something that adds that je ne sais quoi to our project. Just remember, when planning to use the same hand dyed fabric on more than one design:

ALWAYS BUY THE WHOLE AMOUNT OF FABRIC AT ONCE.

The same fabric in the same dyelot, dyed at the same time on the same day is the best way to minimise differences in your hand dyed fabrics.

My heartfelt thanks to Tammy Verdon of Colour Cascade Fabrics, Shari & Marilyn from Picture this Plus and Terry Diaz from Youthful Hands Needlecrafts for the use of their images for this article.  Thank you also to Tammy Verdun for confirming the technical aspects of the dyeing process and Julie Dollery for confirming the colour vision section.  All errors are mine and mine alone.

Places to Buy

World Wide:

Fabric Flair has stores in UK and USA. Some products are also sold by their distributor in Australia, Sewitall.  Fabric Flair fabrics are not technically “hand dyed”, they are printed on onre side of the fabric by machine, but I have included them here as they as used the same as hand dyed fabrics.

Wichelt has a range of hand dyed jobelan fabrics that are available in may needlework stores.

Australia:

Colour Cascade Fabrics Tammy has many hand dyed fabrics that would add a unique element to your stitching. Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Use code: CSReview. Offer ends 6 December 2014.

Sewitall supplies some Fabric Flair fabrics but also hand dyes their own colour combinations here in Australia

Stitches and Spice is Australia’s only fabric and thread  hand dyer.

Canada:

Enchanting Lair produce beautiful fabrics many of which can be used with their great charts.

France:

Annick Abrial creates beautiful hand dyed threads and fabric.

Italy:

Eclypse’s Colors has a beautiful range of fabrics. These can also be bought in Australia via From Italy with Love

Primitive Hare hand dyes linen in a few different “aged” or “parchment” styles that work wonderfully with her patterns or any samplers.

New Zealand:

Country Stitch has been a long running supplier of hand dyed fabrics.

Poland:
Nina’s Threads has expanded  into hand dying linen fabrics.

United Kingdom:

Chromatic Alchemy is a Facebook only company that has a great range of bright fabrics.

Crafty Kitten has two ranges of hand dyed fabrics, pastels and vivids.

Jodyri Designs produces hand dyed floss and fabrics.

Polstitches is one of the UK’s longest running and best known fabric and thread hand dyers with their fabrics being recommended for charts in many UK Cross Stitch publications.

Sparklies has a  large range of hand dyed fabrics that would add a such a sparkle to your project.

United States:
Garibaldi’s Needle Works is an ebay only store that produces beautiful mottled fabrics and threads.

Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie has a great range of colours to suit all projects.

Lakeside Linens have a range of hand dyed fabric where some can be “double-dipped” and others “vintaged”.  Both give a uniqueness to their fabrics.

Picture This Plus is one the US’s longest running and best known fabric hand dyers. Their annual Christmas in July sale is so huge it takes until November to dye and send out all the orders.

R&R Reproductions produce aged and muted tone fabrics for their extensive range of sampler charts.

Sassy’s Fabbys has a great range of colours.

Silkweaver is the other long running and well-known fabric hand dyer from the US.  Silkweaver was bought out by Zweigart USA a few years ago and there have been reports of slow customer service.  I find I have the best results by ordering from the Needleworkers Delight site.

Sunny*Dyes fabrics by Youthful Hands Needle Crafts include some of the best hand painted fabrics I have seen.

Under the Sea Fabrics has some unique two-toned earth and sky or water and sky fabrics rarely seen elsewhere.

Weeks Dye Works are  long time thread dyers who moved into the hand dyed fabric market. The fabric colours mimic their thread colours.

Discussion

Did I miss any good dyers?  Please comment below and I will add them to the list.

Feedback

Did you like this Weekend Spotlight? Did it contain all the expected information? Is there anything you would like added or removed from this? Do you know of a particular chart, designer, stitch along or accessory creator you want to see featured here? If so, please head to the Suggestions page and let me know.

Was this read worth a cup of coffee?

The Red and the Black by Prairie Moon

As Barb and Sue, the designers behind Prairie Moon, are retiring at the end of October 2014 (three weeks away) I chose The Red and The Black for today’s Throwback Thursday.

The Red and the Black
The Red and the Black

What is it?

The Red & the Black is an ornate alphabet sampler stitched in red and black on a mottled dark ground background.

Why this chart?

The Red & the Black is in my personal stash. I love bold colours, and this unisex design would look great in a wood panelled study or library.  However being a design of such few colours it is very versatile and would look amazing stitched in pastels, giving it a floral, art nouveau vibe.

Many of the letters and ornamental motifs have borders, so snippets of the chart could be stitched for monogrammed key rings, coasters or a unique nameplate.  Such small projects are a good way to test new colour combinations.

This project is designed for silks; both Rainbow Gallery Splendor and Needlepoint Inc Silks (NPi). If you have not used NPi silks before, I urge you to try a skein in this design. The 502- Red is simply an accent colour and easily switched out for another shade of your choosing. NPi silks feel so luscious – I could stitch them instead of DMC on every design, if only I could afford it (sigh).

There are no partial stitches, no speciality stitches, and no need even to stitch the whole design; this is a great chart for both beginners and expert stitchers.

The Red and the Black
The Red and the Black

Review

The front and back cover pages are printed on US Letter (9 x 11″) heavy paper, housed within a clear plastic ziplock bag.  The back cover lists all materials needed and estimates the size of the project.  Prairie Moon have included a silks to DMC conversion with the number of skeins required. Each company uses a different length of floss in their skeins, so it is useful for the designers to provide an adjusted skein count.

The chart is on a single sheet of US Ledger (18″ x 11″) folded in between the two covers. Unfortunately, through handling, the print on the fold line can wear off and if you stitch using a small hoop or q-snap, there’s nowhere to place such a large piece of paper without folding it.

However, using this larger paper size, the entire design can be viewed and used at once. The chart is printed large enough and the design symbols are disparate enough to prevent squinting and there’s no need to look for overlap lines or judge where pages meet up.

 Materials Required

To stitch the chart exactly as designed, you will need:

3 cards – Rainbow Gallery Splendor S801 – Black (or 6 skeins of DMC 310)

1 skein -Needlepoint Inc Silk 502 – Chinese Red range (or 1 skein of DMC 321)

Lakeside Linens – 32 count Vintage Autumn Gold (stitch count 140 x 209). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1.  For 16ct Aida or 32ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 15″ x 19½”  or  38 x 49cm or  a fat quarter (18 x 27″).

Autumn Gold
Autumn Gold

Approximate cost for Project

Approximate cost to stitch The Red & The Black chart using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do  not include postage):

Chart: $14.00
Floss:  $14.20
Fabric: $38.00

Total: $66.20    ($75.50 AUD or £46.90)

Places to Buy

Australia:
Colours Down Under Jo would be happy to order in the NPi and Splendor silk floss.

Colour Cascade Fabrics Tammy recommends Gold Digger Opal from her range of fabrics.  For readers of this site she offers a 10% discount for this fabric. Use code PeaceOut during checkout. This code is valid for the month of October 2014.

United Kingdom:

SewandSo stocks NPi and Splendor silk floss and a variety of fabric choices.

Sparklies suggests Barely Bronzed or Leo from her range of fabrics.

 United States:

123Stitch stocks the NPi silk and the Lakeside Linens fabric.

Who still stocks this chart?

Please comment below if you know of a store that still has this chart in stock.

Feedback

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.

Was this read worth a cup of coffee?


 

Last updated: 11 November 2014