Fabric: Aida

This is the first in a series of articles on different fabric types, how they can be used, their advantages and advantages, and how they work with hand dyeing.
Zweigart 14 count Aida
Zweigart 14 count Aida - magnified
Continue reading "Fabric: Aida"

Antiquity: SzuLet Creations

Today we discuss the defunct SzuLet Creations, and Letty's beautiful, uncomplicated designs.  A Lady's Fancy Stash Antiquities: Welcome to a new class of reviews, for the designers who are no longer in business. These reviews are presented to showcase works that the newer stitchers may not have seen and to have a place to list where they can still be found. Some bricks and mortar cross stitch shops have a few older designs still in stock, so you may find some Szulet Creations charts when poking around. If you do, or if you are a shop owner who has some of these still in stock, please please comment below.
Spotted Butterfly Stitched by Mel Using recommended fabric and floss
Spotted Butterfly
Stitched by Mel
Using recommended fabric and floss

Why this designer?

Leticia Chen stopped designing and closed SzuLet Creations five years ago due to illegal chart theft.  Prior to that she had a line of whimsical, uncomplicated designs that could be stitched by any stitcher, from beginners through to advanced stitchers. All her designs are combinations of full cross stitch and back-stitch. She was one of the first to incorporate hand dyed fabrics and later hand dyed threads as part of her designs rather than using them as an adjunct to the main picture. I have a five or six of SzuLet Creations charts in my stash including one finish (Spotted Butterfly) and one Work in Progress (Excellence).
Excellence Mel's Work in Progress
Excellence
Mel's Work in Progress
Using recommended fabric and floss

Review

All of the SzuLet Creations designs were available  via Digital download or printed chart.  I have both. The content of formats is the same. If you print out your PDF file, it will look the same as the bought printed chart. The front cover of each chart shows a picture of the stitched model. All of Letty's designs were model stitched before they were released as charts. The second page lists all the pertinent information; the stitch count, the design size on a standard range of fabric counts, what fabric was used in the model, the floss list and the floss key.  Personally I prefer this to be on the back cover of a printed chart, but I'm glad that all the information was provided somewhere. SzuLet Creations charts are printed in black symbols on white US-Letter (A4) paper. All of the symbols are easy to see and quite easy to differentiate.  Letty uses differing size grids for her designs, but all in my stash are large enough to see and stitch from without enlarging. My only concern is that she uses the relevant floss colour to denote the backstitching.  This is great in A Lady's Fancy where the backstitching is in red, but not so good in Spotted Butterfly where the backstitch is in silver. Due to the large grid and symbol size, each chart is two to four pages in length.  Letty did not give any overlap rows between pages, so you have to be careful when changing from one chart page to the next.  She did provide a 10x10 grid and gridline numbers to help you keep your place. The last page in each chart pack has a diagram showing how the chart pages fit together.  Letty also also states the following:
You are permitted to make a working copy from the original, but please make sure it gets destroyed after you are done with the project.
All of the SzuLet designs can be stitched over one or over two, so select your favourite Aida or evenweave fabric, some favourite threads and start stitching.

Gallery

Szulet - A Lady's Fancy A Lady's Fancy: 1 skein DMC 761 Light salmon 1 skein DMC 840 Beige Brown medium 1 skein DMC 3328 Dark Salmon 1 skein DMC 3727 Antique Mauve Stitchcount 118 x 113.  Modelstitched on Dreams with Angels "Light Desert Rose" 18ct Aida. Szulet - Spotted Butterfly Spotted Butterfly: 1 skein DMC 312 1 skein DMC 322 1 skein DMC 334 1 skein DMC 415 1 skein DMC 762 1 skein DMC 809 1 spool Kreinik Braid 001 Silver Stitchcount 152 x 93.  Modelstitched on Dreams with Angels "Sky" 18ct Aida. Szulet - Royal Royal: 1 skein The Dye is Cast Lilac Dew (similar to DMC 153) 1 skein The Dye is Cast Bamboo (similar to DMC 369) 1 skein The Dye is Cast Nightshade (similar to DMC 3740) 1 skein The Dye is Cast Gold Coin (similar to DMC 3823) Stitchcount 130 x 146.  Modelstitched on Enchanted Fabrics "Hand Painted Sunshine" 32ct evenweave. Szulet - Purple MajestyPurple Majesty: no information known Szulet - Queen of Fire Queen of Fire: no information known Szulet - Imagination Imagination: Equips us to see a reality we have yet to create 2 skeins Carries Creations Jelly Fish Stitchcount 300 x 146.  Modelstitched on Stab & Stash "Blush" 32ct evenweave. Szulet - Excellence Excellence: Gradual result of always striving to do better 2 skeins Carries Creations Gold Glow 1 skein DMC 3011 Stitchcount 181 x 60.  Modelstitched on Sassy Fabbys "Ocean Fantasy" 32ct linen. Szulet - Spring Hibiscus Spring Hibiscus: Floss unkown Stitchcount unknown.  Modelstitched on Sassy Fabbys "Spring Green"  28ct  evenweave Szulet - Summer Hibiscus Summer Hibiscus: Floss unkown Stitchcount unknown.  Modelstitched on Sassy Fabbys "Hyacinth"  28ct  evenweave Szulet - Autumn Hibiscus Autumn Hibiscus: Floss unkown Stitchcount unknown.  Modelstitched on Sassy Fabbys "Lemongrass"  28ct  evenweave Suzlet - Good Luck KnotGood Luck Knot: no information known Szulet - Endless Knot Endless Knot: no information known Szulet - Good Fortune Knot Good Fortune Knot: no information known Szulet - Dream Dream: Floss unkown Stitchcount unknown.  Modelstitched on Sassy Fabbys "Into the Sky"  28ct  evenweave

Places to Buy

SzuLet Creations ceased cross stitch sales five years ago, however Letty is currently selling off all of her cross stitch stash and that will include her last remaining stock of charts.  Look to her Facebook Group for further news. My Special Stitches - I've never used this online store, but they seem to have some designs in stock.

Hand Dyer Suggestions

As these designs call for hand dyed fabric and floss from companies that are no longer available, some hand dyers have suggested their own take on kitting up the designs.  Of course it's easy to tell which was the most popular butterfly! Colour Cascade Fabrics Tammy suggests using Misty Mountain Hop for Royal Butterfly. Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 27 February 2015. Under the Sea Fabrics " I really think Royal Butterfly would be stunning on Sugar Plum Fairies" Chromatic Alchemy  "I have chosen just one of these wonderful butterflies to play with and as I'm a sucker for colour it had to be our bright red and yellow friend. I have chosen Halcyon, I feel the blues contrast wonderfully with the yellow and the pinks complement the red." Crafty Kitten suggests "Royal butterfly candytuft or lavender mist or butterfly blush as fabrics. I'd maybe use twilight shadows as the darker thread and select a DMC to taste for the others." Sparklies "I chose 'A Ladys Fancy'. I'm not sure how many different colours there are in this but I would suggest Morning Glory for the outline of the butterfly, with Violets & Cornflowers, Sugar Mice and Hunnybunny to fill the various areas, all stitched on Lilac Ice." Fiberlicious has a range of gradient coloured cottons and silks to stitch your fairies.  Fiberlicious has a 15%  off sale until Jan 11.  Nguyen offers an additional discount of 5% for readers of Cross Stitch Review (20% in total). Just let Nguyen know you read this site when you place your order. "For the butterfly of Szulet Creations, I would suggest Shades of Purple (for those who like subtle changes in colors) or Sumantra Haze and Spring Breeze (for those who like more variegated). These two last colors are available in silks as well. They can be stitched on either plain white fabric or solid/slightly mottled hand dyed fabrics. Hand dyed flosses might be lost in a piece of hand dyed fabric that has too much color changes." Thread Pickerz Silks Eileen of Thread Pickerz also kindly offers a 10% discount on her floss to Cross Stitch Review readers. Use code:  xstitchreview .  This works in conjunction with other offers (such as free postage for spending over £30uk / £70 international) but cannot be used with other discount codes. Code expires 8 January 2016. “A Lady's Fancy: Fabric Peach Sorbet by Crafty Kitten. The outline colour in Burgundy with Candyfloss as the main colour and Pink Raver for spots/details.” "Royal butterfly - Main butterfly colour in Amethyst with Pinkple used in the light patches. The border can be done with Purple Twonk and Pinkple (if you want to stay in the purple scheme) or l.u.e. (life universe and everything) with Amethyst details. Something like Lavender Mist or Icicle would be nice as fabric from crafty kitten."

Discussion

Have you stitched any of these designs? Do you have any of these in your stash (paper or digital)?  Can you help supply some of the missing information or cover photos of missing designs? Which other vanished Designer would you like me to showcase? Comment below and I will try to find something suitable. If you like this review of SzuLet Creations designs, please share it with your friends. Last Updated: 8 January 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?