Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sources for motifs/images

As I'm proceeding on this journey of cross stitch design, I'm finding that my tastes definitely center on the old patterns especially found in the early books/booklets that were produced mainly for filet crochet.

I'd like to share some of the things I've learned about these publications. Many of you probably already know this information, but it may be new to some as it has been to me.

In the years from the Victorian through the Edwardian ages a number of companies that produced cotton for needlework decided it would sell more of their threads if they could give women - who were very interested in such things at the time - booklets of patterns and instructions in how to use the thread. Many were for decorative objects - table runners, antimacassars, tea cloths, doileys - and many were for adding to clothing, especially camisoles and nightgowns.

The booklets pictured in this post were from the J&P Coats company in the USA, one of their primary authors was Anne Orr. I hope to bring examples from other such companies soon.

Due to the patterns being produced for filet crochet the images have a lovely stylized effect that simply appeals to my sensibilities. They were also full stitches, nothing specialty about them and I find that attractive as well.

Many of these booklets have been lost but thankfully quite a few have been reproduced and you can find them on ebay and some have been scanned to the Antique Pattern Library

I'm working on building my own library of these images and hope to continue incorporating them in my designs.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sanctuary Photo Gallery Begun

If you look to the right, you'll see the new gallery for photos of completed "Sanctuary" projects. I hope others will send photos of their completed Sanctuary to add to the gallery. And note please that if you hold your cursor over the photo in the album the name of the stitcher will appear, the beautiful stitching on this first photo was done by Dianne Frayne from Calgary, Canada!

If anyone sends photos of their completed projects of other GracewoodStitches designs I'll happily start new albums for each design.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

One May Night - 2nd Band of Roses

One May Night is a good example of the challenges I mentioned last post. I can't tell how many ways I put this one together in the software and each time something wasn't right. I'd leave it alone for awhile and then I'd wake up early one morning or during the night (which is when I'm finding I do my best designing, LOL!) and suddenly it was a smack my head moment when I'd say, of course, that's how it should be!

And it seems that what always makes it 'right' is editing out the 'too much' and going back to the design principles I began with. When I did that with One May Night it was like a jigsaw puzzle that suddenly snaps into place. I am enjoying stitching it and happy that I varied the direction of the floral bands. At least now that I'm stitching the second section it isn't boring since it isn't exactly the same.

I promised a review last post and I'd like to mention a designer I've come to admire, Mary Card. A quote about her from

Mary Card became a crochet lace designer late in life, after deafness forced her to sell her private school in Melbourne early in the twentieth century.

Her crochet designs published in New Idea, a lively new women’s magazine quickly became very popular, especially when they included Australian flora and fauna. A series of books followed. Her designs were appealing and her patterns easy to follow.

She moved overseas towards the end of World War I to explore larger markets for her work. She lived in America for a few years then in England until shortly before she died in 1940 at the age of 80.

You can find her designs in many places including reproductions of her booklets on ebay.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Design Challenges - From Idea to Chart

It can be true travail to try and translate inspiration for a design into a chart that one would actually want to stitch. And creating something that I want to stitch is priority one, the whole reason for trying my hand at designing.

Taking that mental image and finding the motifs that convey it is a real challenge. I'm finding though that the most important thing I'm doing is editing. In order to say what I'm trying to say it is so easy to include too many 'things', so the wrestling begins. What is essential to communicating what one is trying to achieve and what can you do to simplify the design and make it one you can look at and say I think it would be fun to stitch and it would then either look great on my wall or make a wonderful gift for someone?

There are many terrific books full of antique and vintage motifs - I'm particularly drawn to those from the Edwardian publications - and also online sites that offer free older patterns. In reading one book full of some beautiful subjects, the author says 'but who would want to use such old patterns today?' - I Would!!! And now my motivation has become not only to make beautiful designs I want to stitch, but to show that fascinating and appealing symbols never go out of 'fashion'. I'm also enjoying combining very diverse styles that have the ability to capture my interest.

I've added the Antique Pattern Library under the Cross Stitch Links on the right of the page. You can spend hours looking at the vintage books they've uploaded and of course you can download them for free and make your own pattern library.

Next post I hope to review some of the pattern books I've purchased recently.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

One May Night - Mid Band

I've looked forward to reaching this point on One May Night since it gives me a good picture of how all of the bands work together. I wanted the whole piece to have a feel of lacy florals and I believe this image accomplishes that as it ties both halves together.

I'm afraid that I did find an error in the charts on this band, I'd love to blame it on the software but I'm sure it is operator error :) Since the rest of the piece repeats the first bands that have already been stitched, I'm hopeful this is the end of corrections!

The blue box shows the area that needs correction, and if you look down to the same part of the image as the section repeats under the number 2, you'll see it too needs to be corrected.

And this is the corrected area, again with the blue box highlighting the two squares that need to be added as this pattern repeats across the band.

No matter how I've tried to check each chart before I stitch it, I just can't 'see' the problem till I actually stitch it. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Next post I hope to share more sources for design ideas.

Monday, April 11, 2011

One May Night - Roses & Lace (and a Chart Correction)

Bands 4&5, lace ribbon and roses are completed.

I chose the 4th band image to serve as a bit of a contrast to the two florals that border it. Since the next main band is definitely softer and more flowing, I wanted something just a bit more formal for this band.

While the charts show a softer pink for the rose band, I stitched the model with a darker Gloriana floss. It simply worked best for the dark gray fabric and it reminds me of a favorite deeply fragrant David Austin rose called William Shakespeare. Appropriate for this design that was inspired by Romeo & Juliet :)

I found a small error while working band four, please note the correction below, the stitch beginning the bottom and top of band. If it isn't clear what has changed let me know.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

One May Night - First Hydrangea Band

First band of Hydrangeas completed and being completely potty about hydrangeas I'm enjoying seeing these go from software to stitched.

As it would in a garden, parts of the flower spill over the garden fence and this is the first motif that I've used the software to place one image over another and I think it has worked really well.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

One May Night - Band 2

A bit of a rollicking motif, I chose this one to give this May night some sparkle. As soft and sweet as a May night can be, it also has exhilarating effects, like young love.