Blue and Black Tatting & Antique Patterns

001bAfter my total wipeout with the red oval doily, I am quite happy to show you two successes! They aren’t perfect, but they sit flat and are even the whole way around.


Both of these patterns come from the same book, Tatting Book No13 by Anne Orr. This book is available for free as part of the Antique Pattern Library, an amazing website full of pdf files of old craft and art books. There are lots of tatting books on there and although the designs are no where near as clear as modern books, with enough experience and patience, you can decipher the instructions. As an example, here are the instructions for the blue medallion:

medallion38I ended up writing them out and double-checking the photographs. Written needle-tatting instructions look more like this (this is the centre motif in the medallion as described above):

  • Ring: 2-2-2-2-2-2 RW
  • Chain: 3-2-2-3 RW
  • Ring: 2-2 join to second to last picot of previous R 2-2-2-2 RW
  • Chain: 3-2-2-3 RW
  • Repeat for 5 rings total, joining last ring to both the second to last picot of previous R and second picot of first R.
  • Chain: 3-2-2-3
  • Tie and Cut.

It’s a bit different; needle tatting does a lot of reversing the work (RW) to get the chains and rings to sit in the right directions. Learning how to properly reverse took me most of a weekend and about 30 ugly little flowers.

Here are a few closeups of these two medallions, just for fun:

003b 009b

As always, check out Totusmel’s Instructables to learn the basics of needle tatting. She taught me nearly all I know!




WIP Wednesday – Thread Parking in Needlepoint

WIP Needlepoint OwlI’ve been working on a new needlepoint project recently, using all sorts of different colours at the same time. I’m stitching the feathers randomly, which means having tons of threads on the go at the same time and trying not tot to get them tangled up (too much).

As I stitched, I figured out two tricks to making the quick change of colours work for me:

1. I used a needle with a larger eye. This meant that it was much, much easier to thread the colours. I didn’t even need a silly little piece of paper!

2. At first I was pulling the threads through to the front and leaving them there, but they kept getting in my way. I wanted to be able to pull them as far away as I could from the working area, but since the working area kept moving, I had to keep moving my parked threads.

WIP Needlepoint Owl parked threads

I ended up finding a solution: Clover clips! These little red clips are fabulous. I was able to pull all my threads up and away, but move them as I needed so they wouldn’t get in the way of my stitching.

The feathers were finally done, and I’m super pleased with them! The stitch is called Fern Stitch, but I have done it upside down so they look like feathers. It was much easier to stitch the lower feathers after the higher ones, so I worked from the top down, mostly. It was quite tricky to fill in the top and get the top of the feather tucked under the long stitches of the base.

This is a quick guide to the stitch, upside down (this screenshot is taken from a program called The Plastic Canvas Design Studio, which I will write about later because it rocks!):


Three Paper Doll Dresses

Three DressesHere are the three paper doll dresses I have stitched in the last while. All of them are from a paper doll called Anya Imagines, by Charles Ventura. I found great scans of them on Marge8’s Blog, where she share hard to find/vintage paper dolls.

They are simply redwork, but I find them quite charming. I want to frame the grey one in my room. Check out closeups below!

Green Dress Green Dress Pink Dress Grey Dress Grey Dress

Paper dolls are like colouring books; they can always be a great source for simple redwork patterns.

Tantes Zolder Patterns

Tantes Zolder Cross Stitch Here is the finished cross stitched piece I stitched up using patterns from Tantes Zolder, or my Auntie’s Attic.  From what I can find online, it was a website set up by a woman who found over 300 hand-drawn cross stitch patterns in her aunt’s attic. With the help of volunteers, she digitized them all over the course of a year. The original website seems to have gone offline some time in 2012.

Luckily, I found Isabel Gancedo who had all of them backed up and posted on They also include patterns found in books in the Antique Pattern Library, which is always a great website to browse. To find the Tantes Zolder patterns, just scroll down a bit on the main page or click one of the side links.  My favourites are the octagonal patterns.

Tantes Zolder Cross Stitch Can you see where I screwed up the stitching on this piece a bit? If you look closely at the center, the crosses on the red flower in the middle are not going in the same direction as the rest of the piece. It happened for two reasons: first, the center is perfectly symmetrical, so I didn’t notice any change in the pattern, and second, I was on vacation in England when I stitched most of this piece. I also blame England for having to undo nearly a quarter of the orange border around the middle at some point.

(I fixed it eventually by drawing an arrow on my pattern, and an arrow on the masking tape I had put around my fabric to prevent fraying.)

Tantes Zolder Cross Stitch

Sadly, that wasn’t the end of the unpicking. The middle was filled in dark grey for a while , and I hated it as soon as it was done. I forged ahead, thinking it would grow on me as I did the leaves around the center but it didn’t. It even highlighted the direction of the crosses on the red center. So after much consideration, I put on a Jim Gaffigan comedy special and unpicked it all using a thread ripper, a needle, and lots and lots of small bits of tape to catch all the fuzz created by unpicking.

Sometimes, you just gotta undo what you gotta undo. 😉

Hexagons and Discontinued Fabric Books

048bWhen I signed up for Wild Olive’s Summer Stitching Club (which I never managed to finish, but that’s a whole other post), I was introduced to hexies, otherwise known as English Paper Piecing.  About a million tutorials and one new Pinterest board later, I was ready to go.  But what to do?

051bSo I just started putting hexagons together. And more, and more, and more. Hexagons are super addictive. You can do them while you watch a movie without stabbing yourself in the fingers too too much. It’s fabulous.

046bI knew I wanted to stitch something onto the hexagons after they were put together, so I went through my stuff and found these lovely arrows from Urbanthreads. I printed one onto a water soluble paper and stuck it on (some of the fabrics had too large a weave to use chaco paper to transfer the design). To do it again I would place the arrow further to the right side of the piece.

Blue Hexagon RaspberryI borrowed some batting from my quilt-queen mother, picked up a gorgeous mustard yellow cotton from Fabrications, and after cutting everything out to the right shape, put everything together. With three little hoops at the top to hand it from a stick, I ended up with a wall hanging I am really super happy with!

I’m not sure what it is, but I love it. I call it my blue raspberry.



Canvaswork by the RSN – Mini doodle and review


I have a few of the little embroidery guides by the Royal School of Needlework: Blackwork, Crewelwork, and now Canvaswork. They are fabulous. They are small enough to fit in a purse or a project bag, are spiral bound (so they lay flat) and are always super educational.

As with all of these guides, I’m not sure they are suited for a beginner-beginner, but an advanced-beginner will definitely enjoy them. They are inspiring, beautiful little books, with just enough information to let you try stuff out and get interested in finding out more. All the pieces are truly wonderful and allow you to really see a huge range of projects stitched in various complexities of stitch blending and colour blending. I think stitch blending is the prettiest thing featured in the book. Here is a look at one of the pages, just to tempt you.Canvaswork Review

Here is the mini, messy sampler I worked while watching Sesame Street with my daughter after reading the book through in one sitting. The stitches I tried are: alternating cross (not so nice), byzantine (nice!), chequer, fan (shrug), straight gobelin, leaf (ran out of thread there…), milanese (love the triangles), a very screwed up norwhich square and fern stitch, in alternating directions.Canvaswork Review

This book also led to me using one of my Cross Stitch Pendants from the Workroom! One notion down, way too many to go. I’ll show you the pendant later this week!

Grey Owl & Book Review: Story Land Cross Stitch

Grey Owl on dorkwithaneedle.comThis beautiful owl comes from the advanced chapter in the book Story Land Cross Stitch, by Sophie Simpson, also known as What Delilah Did. Her patterns have always had a certain charm to them, and the book has all that and more.

There are three levels of difficulty in the book, and each pattern comes with a short little fable to inspire you and keep you thinking while you stitch.

The charts were super clear and the owl was very easy (if very long) to stitch. Luckily, I stitched him the first few weeks my daughter started daycare, so I had more time than usual, and needed plenty to keep me busy!

Grey Owl on dorkwithaneedle.comI changed the colour pallet from the original book, but it still looks great. Most of her patterns are simple enough that you could get away with quite a bit of tweaking and still end up with a charming piece in the end.

I really recommend her book, especially if you have been eyeing up her patterns for a while. For the price, it’s the best value What Delilah Did patterns you can get!