Ambra of Cloudsfactory is another designer of extreme cuteness. I have watched her previous year-long SALs with appreciation, and I am pleased to review her 2015 SAL: Zodiac Sampler.
From the Designer
This pattern is a yearly subscription. This means that you will not receive the entire pattern in one time: every month for 12 months, starting from January 1st, you will find a new file in the “My downloadable products” page with the section for the month!
The payment is a one-time payment. You’re free to purchase the pattern at any time of the year, and you will automatically receive all the previous months patterns.
This project is stitched using a selection of Weeks Dye Works floss, satin floss and a 32 count “Gothic” hand dyed Linen! This pattern will have a double finish choice, so you will be free to choose to display it in a hoop or in a frame, or to turn it into an amazing pillow!
What is it?
Zodiac Sampler is a year-long mystery stitchalong by Cloudsfactory. The January instalment includes the frame for all twelve inner circles and the January design, Capricorn. Each month you will receive another Zodiac Sign design.
Sign-up closes: 31 December 2015.
SAL Duration: 1 Jan 2015 – 31 December 2015
Why this chart?
I love stitchalongs! I bought the 2014 Magical Creatures Calendar as a RAK for a friend last year and loved watching her stitch it up. I haven’t yet joined the Zodiac Sampler, but Ambra very kindly sent me the introductory and January files so I could write this review.
Like most Mystery SAL’s January’s segment includes a separate frame section that helps place all the monthly designs for the year. You can stitch that frame section now or you can stitch each part when you get to that month. As the Zodiac sampler is a series of circles, it could be quite easy to lose your place or not be sure where each section fits …. I am so glad Ambra included the frame design at the beginning of the year.
Every month’s design will include a cute picture of that Zodiac sign’s mascot (all in Cloudsfactory’s distinctive egg-shaped bodies), the astronomical constellation, the sign’s symbol and other distinctive associations.
The monthly segments are informative. As well as the expected cutesy design for the zodiac, each month’s chart has a full page of information on the mythology, history and associations for that sign. Some of these are highlighted in the design itself.
Every Stitchalong thrives when there is a community surrounding it. Zodiac Sampler has the Cloudsfactory Funky Stitchers Facebook group, and the #cfzodiacsampler hashtag for Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.
Joining a mystery stitch along is often an act of faith. Faith that the resultant item is worth the time and money you as a stitcher have put into it. On the flip side, there’s no worse feeling than watching a mystery SAL being stitched by others and then find you can’t join in.
Ambra understands both dilemmas, so you are able to join in this stitchalong at any time. You can join now and almost experience the full mystery (two of the twelve designs have been released – you can see stitched samples via the social media links above), or you can wait to see if you will like your Zodiac sign before committing. The options and potential risks are yours to choose.
To join the stitchalong you need to buy the chart from Cloudsfactory. You can buy just the chart, or you can buy the kit, including all floss, the recommended hand dyed fabric, a thread organiser with symbols and a needle. The only things missing are a pair of scissors and a comfy chair!
If you buy the chart now you will receive an introductory file listing the materials required for the design, including number of skeins of each floss and how to navigate the Picture This Plus site to purchase the recommended “Gothic” linen or Aida.
This will bring up all the files you can download. Click on the name of the file you want and it will either download or ask you where you want it saved to.
You will also receive a seven page file for the inner frame and two five-page files for Capricorn and Aquarius.
Each monthly Zodiac file will have:
A cover page showing where the sign sits in the overall scheme. This is in full colour to help you in using the correct floss.
One full page of information and associations for that Zodiac sign. Part of me wants to join the stitchalong just to see what this page will include about MY sign.
The chart over two pages. There is a three-page over lap on he second page. There isn’t really that much stitching required each month, but as each design is formed by three different circles, it takes up space on the page and requires some careful counting.
The chart uses black symbols on coloured backgrounds. These coloured backgrounds help you note that you are stitching using the correct floss, especially if there are similar floss symbols, but they do make marking off your stitching more difficult.
In the case of January – Capricorn, the floss symbols are diverse enough and the grid work large enough that I could stitch it direct; no need to copy or enlarge the chart.
A last page with floss list and symbol key of floss used in that month’s design part. The chart is stitched with combination of DMC and Weeks Dye Works hand dyed floss. For each hand dyed floss, Ambra lists a DMC alternative. Note that solid colours (such as DMC) can never mimic the colour variations of hand dyed floss.
To stitch the chart exactly as designed, you will need:
1 skein each of 13 DMC solid floss colours. Ambra requested that I not list the specific floss numbers due to concerns of piracy.
3 skeins of DMC Satin S3820 Buttercup Satin is the replacement to Rayon. Cloudsfactory has a blog post on how to stitch with Satin.
1 skein Weeks Dye Works 1329 Blackberry (similar to DMC 915)
1 skein Weeks Dye Works 2118 Blue Topaz (similar to DMC 597)
1 skein Weeks Dye Works 2129 Robin’s Egg (similar to DMC 964)
1 skein Weeks Dye Works 2243 Cantaloupe (similar to DMC 351)
1 skein Weeks Dye Works 2333 Peoria Purple (similar to DMC 553
1 skein Weeks Dye Works 2334 Lilac (similar to DMC 210)
1 skein Weeks Dye Works 4139 Bethlehem (not similar to DMC)
Fabric is 32ct Picture This Plus “Gothic” Belfast or 16ct Picture This Plus “Gothic” Aida (stitch count 245 x 242). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1.
We highly recommend to not use evenweave, as this particular color does not look really good on this kind of fabric. We also highly recommend to not buy the Crystal version of this fabric (the one with sparkles). Even if it looks beautiful, it is a real challenge to stitch on it because the sparkles makes the holes almost impossible to see.
If for some reason you don’t want to buy the suggested fabric, we highly suggest to not use a white or light one, because of the large amount of white thread.
Stitched on the recommended 16ct Aida or 32ct Linen (with the a 3″ border allowance) the fabric size needed is: 21½″x 21¼″ or 54 x 54cm or a fat half (27″ x 36″).
For 14ct Aida or 28ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 23¾” x 23½” or 60 x 59cm or a fat half (27″ x 36″).
Approximate cost for Project
Approximate cost to stitch 2015 Story Time Sampler using the recommended materials (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do not include postage):
Chart: $ 18.99
Floss: $ 24.40
Total: $95.40 ($128.15 AUD or €94.75 or £74.95)
Places to Buy
Cloudsfactory are also selling a kit of this design. The kit includes the chart, all floss, fabric, thread organiser (with symbols) and needle. If you wish to use the recommend materials, the Cloudsfactory kit is cheaper than kitting it up yourself!
Colours Down Under has DMC, Weeks Dye Works and a variety of plain fabrics in stock.
Colour Cascade Fabrics stocks DMC and suggests stitching this design on “Sorcerer or Riders on the Storm”.
Tammy also 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 think that Morganella with its dark greys, purples and subtle blue undertones will work wonderfully with the Zodiac SAL.”
Crafty Kitten suggests “Midnight or Twilight Shadows or maybe Aurora. For something a little different, perhaps try the February Facebook special.
Sparklies “Damn you for showing me this! It’s adorable and I suspect I will be buying it soon. Given that it’s meant to be the night sky I would suggest either Moonlighting (what I will undoubtedly be using) or Ink, probably on opal for that starry night sparkle.”
Thread Pickerz Silkz are currently undergoing maintenance as Eileen updates her website. She offers 10% off each silk thread as it is added back on the website.”
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.
Picture This Plus sells the recommended “Gothic” fabric.
Does this Stitchalong appeal to you? What is your Zodiac Sign and what do you hope they write about that sign?
If you liked the review, please share it with your friends.
Last Updated: 10 February 2015