Steam Bee (Ashwood) by Heaven and Earth Designs

Art to stitch Wednesday is back. Today we have a beautifully subtle steampunk bee by the wonderfully talented Brigid Ashwood.

HAED - Steam Bee Cover

Continue reading “Steam Bee (Ashwood) by Heaven and Earth Designs”

Telstra Tower by Photothreads


Today is Australia Day so here is Telstra Tower in Canberra from the “Images of Australia” series by Photothreads.

Photothreads - Telstra Tower cover

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 - Telstra Tower

Review

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.

Materials Required

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

DMC 341 Light Blue Violet

 

1 Skein DMC 341 Light Blue Violet

 

DMC 926 Medium Grey Green

 

1 skein DMC 926 Medium Grey Green

 

DMC 931 Medium Antique Blue

 

1 skein DMC 931 Medium Antique Blue

 

DMC 932 Light Antique Blue

 

1 skein DMC 932 Light Antique Blue

 

DMC 3042 Light Antique Violet

 

1 skein DMC 3042 Light Antique Violet

 

DMC 3046 Medium Yellow Beige

 

1 skein DMC 3046 Medium Yellow Beige

 

DMC 3047 Light Yellow Beige

 

1 skein DMC 3047 Light Yellow Beige

 

DMC 3078 Very Light Golden Yellow

 

1 skein DMC 3078 Very Light Golden Yellow

 

DMC 3747 Very Light Violet Blue

 

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″).

Zweigart Pewter 14ct Aida

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
Fabric: $11.85

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.

Australia:

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.

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 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.”

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 “Breathtaking scenery chart! I would pick Fall storm for the balloon; hydrangea for the tower; blue gradient and quiet stone for the landscape.”

 

Discussion

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

Marie Antoinette (von Frankenstein) by Colour Cascade Designs

Today we have a beautiful art-to-stitch of one of history’s most iconic women.  Also don’t forget the giveaways and discounts we have on offer at the moment.

CCF - Marie Antoinette

What is it?

Marie Antoinette is a digital drawing by Joahanna Von Frankenstein  that has been converted to cross stitch by Tammy Verdon of Colour Cascade Designs.

Note: Please respect our artists. Your work will be a labour of love for months and years to come. Buy from reputable designers such as those reviewed on this site. They support the artists who produce the original works. By buying cheap art-to-stitch designs, you are likely buying from a designer who is not paying royalties or licensing and the chart is likely to be low quality. Without support, our artists cannot thrive. Your time, and theirs are worth more.

Original artwork by Joahanna Von Frankenstein
Original artwork by Joahanna Von Frankenstein

Why this chart?

I love Joahanna Von Frankenstein’s artwork. She uses so many different types of art techniques, from pencil drawings, digital drawings, watercolours, painting with coffee and of course mixed media. Check out her Facebook page and her DeviantArt page to see all her varied skills.

I chose this design out of all of her converted art work because of the simplicity of colours in this design. The lines created the artwork, and these have been converted into so many differing shades of grey.  This truly would have been a challenge to convert.

I also love the subject; Marie Antoinette was such a tragic figure whose naivety and sheltered lifestyle made her a target for an oppressed nation. So much propaganda and misinformation about her has come down through the centuries to us including the false “let them eat cake”.

Colour Cascade Designs is a part of Colour Cascade Fabrics.  Tammy provides such wonderful fabric suggestions day after day here on this site.  Colour Cascade Designs has been around since January 2014 and provides converted designs from the darker side of life.  From zombies to post apocalyptic to expressions of dark desires, Tammy showcases them all.

Most art-to-stitch designs are fully stitched, in that the background is treated as part of the picture so every square is stitched, culminating in a project comprising thousands of stitches and years of work. Projects such as Marie Antoinette do not have a stitched background, and so could be stitched in less time.  You could stitch this on white fabric and save yourself even more time, or you could choose to show off a fabulous hand dyed fabric that complements or contrasts this design.

Marie Antoinette is, at heart, a simple design; full cross stitch only.  However to meet the level of detail needed for so many fine lines, this chart has a lot of confetti  stitching. ,“Confetti stitching” is stitcher jargon for describing an area of stitching where there is only one or a few stitches of each floss colour.  These little groupings are scattered about like confetti.

For such a design, changes in stitching techniques are required. You can thread your needle, then stitch each grouping of one colour until you run out and then start the next colour.

Or you can park.  Parking is where you stitch one grouping of a floss, and then park you thread at the next grouping.  It is probably best explained by this Youtube video:

If you are an experienced art-to-stitch stitcher who has met such a complex chart before, then I thoroughly recommend this chart for the beauty it will become.

If you have not stitched a large, complex design before, then I recommend patience and concentration to get through the confetti stitched areas.  Some days it will feel like you are making no progress at all, other days you will seem to make great strides.

Colour Cascade - Marie Antoinette

Review

Colour Cascade Designs offers their charts as electronic download or in printed form; I have only bought the electronic downloads.  Marie Antoinette is a 26 page chart pack in pdf format. Save the pdf and you can work from the digital chart or print sections as you need, or print it all and store it with the rest of your paper charts; the options are yours.

The Marie Antoinette digital download has:

  • front cover sheet with a mock-up of the stitched design, the stitch count and size (in inches and centimetres) of the design stitched in 25ct. This also prominently lists the name of the artist and ascribes the art copyright to her.
  • instructions on how to stitch and suggestions for the number of threads to use for each count of fabric
  • the 20 page chart; each page includes a diagram of where that page sits in the overall chart and a three-row overlap from earlier pages to aid in keeping your place
  • cleaning and care notes; washing instructions
  • the symbol key or legend, in DMC numbered order
  • The floss key including the length of each floss needed

Tammy of Colour Cascade designs is in the process of updating her chart packs.  My older copy of Marie Antoinette is only 26 pages,but the newer version is likely to be around 50 pages.

The updated chart packs contain all the same information but Tammy has made the grid work on each chart page much larger.  This means more pages, but  the symbols are printed larger and more crisp and can be more easily seen on the page.

Tammy has also changed some of the symbols to give greater differentiation; reducing the likelihood of stitching with the wrong shade of floss. I love these changes and urge you to contact Tammy to receive updates of your older chart files as she converts them.

Most art-to-stitch projects recommend to stitch one-over-one on 25 count fabric. As these designs only use whole cross stitch, I strongly recommend that you stitch on the fabric count you prefer and are used to.  You are probably going to spend a long while stitching this project, don’t make it more difficult by using a stitch style or count that you are not comfortable with.

Materials Required

To stitch the charts exactly as designed (1 floss over 1 thread on 25ct fabric), you will need:

1 skein each DMC 168, 169, 310, 317, 318, 413, 415, 451, 452, 535, 646, 647, 648, 762, 844, 928, 3072, 3371, 3799, 3865, 3866.

2 skeins each DMC 939 and 3756

3 skeins DMC White (these can be omitted if you stitch this design on white fabric).

25 count Evenweave or Magic Guide fabric  (stitch count 286 x 293). Stitched  one over one with the a 3″ border allowance, fabric size needed is:  17½ x 17¾″ or 44 x 45cm  or a small pack of Magic Guide (19 x 21″)  or normal fabric’s fat quarter (18″ x 27″).

Magic Guide - 25ct White
Magic Guide – 25ct White

For 14ct Aida or 28ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is:  26½” x 27”  or  67x 68cm  or  a fat half (27 x 36″).

Approximate cost for Project

Approximate cost to stitch Moonlight crop using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do  not include postage):

Chart: $ 10.65
Floss:  $ 12.60
Fabric: $10.90

Total: $34.15  ($54.25AUD or €46.35 or  £38.50)

Places to Buy

Colour Cascade Designs stocks this chart in paper and PDF download and can kit it up for you.

Australia:
Colours Down Under has all the DMC and some plain evenweave fabrics in stock.

Colour Cascade Fabrics stocks the chart, DMC and 25ct Magic Guide fabric. Tammy suggests stitching Marie Antoinette on “Golddigger or Red is the Rose”.

Tammy also 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.

Crafty Kitten “Hard to suggest for this one, My personal taste is to stitch black and white designs on white they can sometimes look a little odd on a strongly coloured fabric, maybe moondust but that’s as strong as I’d go with colour  personally”

Polstitches “I would love to see Polstitches Avalon or a sampler linen used here, possibilities are endless”

Chromatic Alchemy  “I think Marie Antoinette looks classy on Aurelia, we can’t have anything ungainly for a queen now can we?”

United States:

123Stitch has the chart in stock and can kit it up for you.

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 can order this chart in for you. They have all the recommended materials in stock to kit this up for you.

Under the Sea Fabrics Leslie suggests “I’d recommend Looking Glass or London Fog for nice gray neutral or for something wild and fun, Vampyric.”

Discussion

What fabric  would you stitch this design on?

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

 

Last Updated: 21 January 2015

Moonlight Crop (Fell) by Eclectic Bloke Designs

Today’s Art-to-Stitch Wednesday is a tribute for Neil Bray of Eclectic Bloke Designs.  Also don’t forget the awesome Giveaways we have going on now.

ECB - Moonlight Crop front page

From the Artist

I was cleaning up a hard-drive and found this, something I started about 4 years ago. I know… another spooky girl in a long black dress! 🙂 I never finished it, but decided to do a bit of noodling on it to make it at least presentable. So here’s a suitably haunted image for Hallowe’en, or Samhain.

What is it?

Moonlight is a digital design by Aly Fell, translated into cross stitch by Neil Bray of Eclectic Bloke Designs. There are two forms of the cross stitch, the original Moonlight and a small section of the design called Moonlight crop. I am reviewing Moonlight crop.

Note: Please respect our artists. Your work will be a labour of love for months and years to come. Buy from reputable designers such as those reviewed on this site. They support the artists who produce the original works. By buying cheap art-to-stitch designs, you are likely buying from a designer who is not paying royalties or licensing and the chart is likely to be low quality. Without support, our artists cannot thrive. Your time, and theirs are worth more.

Original artwork by Aly Fell
Original artwork by Aly Fell

Why this chart?

I love Aly Fell’s artwork. His designs can be quite different to the usual artwork we see in art-to-stitch. Check out his website for more of his designs, his blog for the story behind his designs and his Facebook page for in-progress photos.

Eclectic Bloke Designs is a recent venture by stitcher Neil Bray. Neil has been a stitcher for 20 years and he produces art-to-stitch by an eclectic mix of artists. Neil has battled cancer some time and is now at home with his family as part of his palliative care arrangements. Neil’s time with us might be coming an end, but hopefully his sister may carry on Eclectic Bloke designs. Whatever the future brings for Eclectic Bloke Designs, Neil is in my thoughts and will be remembered every time we put floss to thread in one of his designs. I urge you to look through Eclectic Bloke Designs, there may well be something there to appeal to everyone.

Moonlight (crop) is like most art-to-stitch designs; the background is part of the picture so every square is stitched, culminating in a project comprising thousands of stitches and taking months if not years to work.

I chose the crop of this design because I feel it includes a closeup of the most salient features while possibly reducing the stitching time; Moonlight crop is only 300 x 300 stitches while the complete Moonlight is 280 x 380 stitches (in round numbers).

Moonlight crop is, at heart, a simple design; full cross stitch only. Unlike the other reviewed Eclectic Bloke Design “Watcher“, Moonlight crop is also fairly easy to stitch. There are only 30 colours of floss and many are in single blocks or in easy-to-follow waves within other colours.

As Moonlight crop is fully stitched, I recommend using DMC Magic Guide fabric to help keep your place, or a hand dyed fabric that will show between the edges of the design and the border of your frame; the hand dyed fabric will act as a mat within the frame.

ECB - Moonlight (crop)

Review

Eclectic Bloke Design charts are available as PDF files, printed charts and full kits. My copy of Moonlight crop is a digital download. Moonlight crop is a 34 page chart pack in PDF format. Save the design and you can work from the digital chart or print sections as you need, or print it all and store it with the rest of your paper charts; the options are yours.

The Moonlight crop chart pack contains:

  • front cover sheet with computer mockup of the finished design and artist licence information.
  • a page of general instructions pertinent to art-to-stitch designs.
  • the 30 page chart, including placement diagram at the base of each page.
  • a page of recommended fabric, stitch count and floss key. The floss key is in DMC floss number order.
  • a last page is the DMC floss list, showing both the stitch amount and skeins needed for each floss colour.  The skein amount is for the recommended 1 over 1 stitching on 25 count fabric. If you change the fabric or the number of strands used, then you may need to change to number of skeins.

Eclectic Bloke Designs provide black symbols on a white US Letter or A4 background.  Each successive chart page includes a two-row shaded overlap from earlier pages. Most of the floss symbols are pictographs such as a pair of reading glasses, clock face, open book and flag. There are only a few alphanumeric symbols.

The chart is 30 pages long because each page only shows 45 x 62 stitches per page. This small amount of symbols per page is much easier to see and mark off, so don’t let the number of pages put you off the design.

As with most art-to-stitch designs, you can only find the list of required floss after you have bought the chart, but as you will need to purchase the floss separately or buy the kit, this isn’t an issue.

Materials Required

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

1 skein each – DMC  154, 160, 161, 169, 318, 336, 414, 415, 451, 498, 550, 648, 762, 815, 816, 3350, 3371, 3721, 3740, 3743, 3747, 3834, 3835, B5200

2 skeins each DMC 413, 823, 930, 3799

3 skeins DMC 317 Steel Grey

5 skeins DMC 939 Dark Navy Blue

25 count Evenweave or Magic Guide fabric  (stitch count 300 x 298). Stitched  one over one with the a 3″ border allowance, fabric size needed is:  18″x 18″ or 46 x 46cm  or a small pack of Magic Guide (19 x 21″)  or normal fabric’s fat quarter (18″ x 27″).

Magic Guide - 25ct White
Magic Guide – 25ct White

For 14ct Aida or 28ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 27½” x 27½”  or  70 x 70cm  or  a medium pack of Magic Guide (30 x 39″)  or a normal fabric’s a fat half (27″ x 36″).

Approximate cost for Project

Approximate cost to stitch Moonlight crop using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do  not include postage):

Chart: $ 15.30
Floss:  $ 18.00
Fabric: $10.90

Total: $44.20  ($71.85AUD or €61.90 or  £51.95)

Places to Buy

Eclectic Bloke Designs website is the only place to order the PDF and printed charts.

Kits are supplied by GeckoRouge. This is a relatively new partnership and not all Eclectic Bloke Designs have kit prices yet. Contact Neil if you would like a quote. Usually kit prices are cheaper than kitting the design yourself as they include the amount of each floss you need (allowing for generous amount of “oops I’ll need to restitch that part”) instead of full skeins.

Australia:

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

Colour Cascade Fabrics stocks DMC and 25ct Magic Guide fabric. Tammy suggests stitching Moonlight Crop on Purple Haze.

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

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.

Crafty Kitten “I would stitch on a solid fabric as it’s solidly stitched.  If you wanted a hand dyed then evening magic would frame the design in similar colours.”

Polstitches “No hand dyed fabby for this but you could use glitter crystals on the moon to make it shine”

A premium and most versatile range of glitter. Ultra fine transparent particles – Mix crystals with medium and paint onto fabric to add a sparkle to the areas of your stitching you wish to highlight 1 part crystal to 10 parts medium then iron. The possibilities are endless to adding sparkle to Christmas Stitching or adding sparkle to a moon stitched on a plain fabric.

Sparklies “Pitch for this one, then you could probably get away without having to stitch a lot of the background.”

Chromatic Alchemy  “Now I don’t usually recommend a hand dye for a fully stitched piece but Moonlight is such a wonderfully moody and gothic piece that I just had to see what it looked like with Maelstrom as a frame. I hope you agree that it fits the mood of the piece beautifully.”

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.

Discussion

What is your favourite Eclectic Bloke Designs chart?

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

 

Last updated: 14 January 2015