May 2015 – Pansies Kit Review

I spent most of May working on larger projects, none of which are finished enough to show here, but I did get time to make a birthday card for my mother-in-law.

Pansies birthday card - DMC Floral Quick Kit

Pansies birthday card – DMC Floral Quick Kit

I found this little DMC Floral Quick Kit in yet another bag of inherited stash. I think it must be very old as I can’t find any internet references to this series of kits, except for one or two eBay listings, but it has held up well  and had no wear or damage at all. I did make one small change and backstitched the leaves and stems of the flowers in green instead of black, because I had a lot of green left over at the end and I thought the black looked too severe on the model. Looking back, I think the leaves lack definition now, so I should have either stuck with the black and just did as I was told, or looked for a darker shade of green. I’m not the best at following instructions, I tend to just wander off with my own ideas sometimes when I really shouldn’t!

DMC Quick Stitch Floral Kit - Pansies

DMC Quick Stitch Floral Kit – Pansies

Even though you probably can’t buy these any more, and it is a super tiny kit, here’s a quick review.

Pros – 

  • Tiny and very quick to stitch, as the title suggests! I think it took me about two evenings to get this done. Also a good size to be turned into a card or small gift.
  • Lovely traditional design, perfect for someone with more classical tastes.
  • High quality materials and printing. Chart was easy to read and the threads had not worn or frayed over time.

Cons – 

  • Black and white chart only, backstitch instructions were therefore unclear but manageable. No suggestion on number of strands to use, so I just went with what felt right.
  • Ran out of pink thread about half way through, and had to salvage a similar colour from another kit. No thread numbers provided to make an exact match,

April 2015 – Mini Projects

I have had such a busy April – spring cleaning, attending concerts, new clients at work and effectively re-learning to drive – that I have had hardly any time to stitch or craft for myself at all. I have experimented in the kitchen a little with some new recipes, and had equal parts success and catastrophic failure (don’t mention the rock solid flapjacks, for example), but very little to show for myself on the stitching front.

I’ve been stitching cover kits and tiny projects in my little gaps of free time though, as well as plodding on with my Magnum Opus, which will be ready for an update soon I think. Here’s a few of the cards I’ve made up for birthdays and so on in May (click for bigger)

The apples card will be for Father’s Day, as it reminds me of the smell of my Grandad’s house – he used to make his own cider in the garage, and had an apple tree in the back garden which I would often climb as a child. My Nan still makes delicious cinnamon crumbles from those apples!

I’ve gone a bit overboard with ribbons and bows and thrown on a few sequins for good measure, as there is no such thing as too much sparkle on a card…Probably.

Bargain Hunting!

I haven’t posted anything here for almost a month! It has been a very busy month with lots of commissioned work which I am unable to post publicly, and all the stress and excitement of buying a new car as well. So, instead of a progress update or a completion photo, all I have to share today is this little bargain which I stumbled across in a local charity shop:

'Protective Care' kit by Lanarte

‘Protective Care’ kit by Lanarte

I’m always so excited to find hidden treasures like this in charity shops! It is a complete, apparently unopened Lanarte kit of a super cute momma elephant and her calf for only a few pounds, as opposed to the £35 RRP tag still on the back from a UK craft superstore with outrageous prices that shall not be named here! In the past I’ve snagged a box of old cross-stitch magazines and books, as well as some beautiful unfinished crewel-work tablecloths which I hope to get round to restoring and completing some day.

I was lucky enough to see some elephants up close and in person at Kruger National Park, but these were not as placid and friendly as the ones in this kit – in fact, I think it is safe to say that it was a somewhat-near-death experience! We had not gone out with the intention of finding an elephant, and I suppose he was just as surprised to see us, and charged tusks-first towards our little van. The driver reversed at full speed around a stand of trees and out of the elephant’s sight-line, securing our escape! I wonder if he was also protecting a little family like these two in the kit.

Hopefully I will have some new charts and finishes up later this week, as my commission pile is almost clear!

2-Year Project Complete!

2 years ago for Christmas, I received an Anchor Maia kit – ‘Geishas’ – and I have been working on it, on and off, ever since. Well, today it is finally completed, washed, ironed and framed:

Geishas - Completed At Last!

Geishas – Completed At Last!

My poor photography skills really don’t do justice to the vibrancy of the colours and the amount of detail in this picture. I am so pleased with how it turned out, with the exception of the faces. I usually refuse to work anything with human faces in cross stitch because I just don’t think it ever looks good unless the piece is on a really huge scale. I prefer to stick to traditional embroidery techniques for faces where possible, but I suppose the faces are such a small element of this piece that they don’t really detract too much from it.

Detail close up of the lower left

Detail close up of the lower left

Above is a sample of the detail that went into this pretty large (30 x 40 cm on 18 count aida) piece.

Anchor Maia - 56780000-01025 GEISHAS kit

Anchor Maia – 56780000-01025 GEISHAS kit

I thought I should take the opportunity to do a quick review of this kit, in case anyone else was looking to buy it, so here’s a short bullet point summary of my experience.

Pros – 

  • Really good quality materials, excellent value for money. Most of the threads were full skeins of Anchor, the rest were pre-sorted into a beautiful rainbow of vibrant colours.
  • The chart was split into four and the backstitch detail was printed in several colours, so it was generally easy to read and understand.
  • The design is made up of lots of different elements so I never found one area tedious or boring. Lots of different colour changes and subjects held my interest throughout – and it helped that I did lots of smaller commissioned projects while working on this!

Cons – 

  • The amount of threads provided was inconsistent – I found I had several untouched skeins left over but ran out of two colours entirely.
  • My chart was misprinted in places, it looked like the original had subsequently had another chart printed over the top in some areas. Fortunately it was quite faint and I could still make out the original symbols.
  • In another area of the standing geisha’s hair ornament, there was an area of backstitch indicated in a colour that was not specified in the key, so I had to guess what looked closest to the picture on the box and just hope for the best!
  • Finally, in what I suspect is just me being overly picky, the model used on the box has not been stitched according to the instructions provided, and I feel that it is slightly misleading! For example, the gingham pattern on the purple and blue obi looks like it was done in long stitch, which looks far better than the backstitch indicated on the chart.

I think my tiny complaints take away only a little from my overall opinion of this kit, and the Maia range in general, which is very positive. Looking at other stitchers’ completed pictures, I am always envious of how beautiful and detailed they look, and now I can proudly hang one on my wall next to my own vintage kimono!