Sneak peek – Four Seasons

No more painting again this week, the being busy/horrible gum infection-TMJ combo, meant I wasn’t really in the right head space for pushing outside my comfort boundaries. Instead I worked on some cross stitch, now this particular project has also been pushing at my comfort zone too, it’s the Four Seasons sampler from Modern Folk Embroidery and oh I’ve had some dramas with this. It’s a stitch-a-long project with a part a month. I got all set up before it started at the beginning of January, I had visions of this on a dark grey background with off white thread, so I ordered what I thought was fairly dark grey evenweave and enough ecru thread for the whole project (so quite a big bag). The what I thought was fairly dark grey evenweave arrived, um no, it wasn’t actually that much darker than the big bag of ecru thread that had also just arrived 😳, but, well, I’d paid for the materials so I persevered and although it was a bit hard going (working with almost identically coloured thread and fabric means that you need absolutely excellent light, something which is in short supply this time of year), I managed to finish the January segment by the end of January.

The February part of the pattern was released and, well, cross stitchers out there, you know how you can tell where the centre of the pattern is by a triangle shaped arrow marking the centre of the pattern at the top and at the side, it helps you make sure that you’re starting your stitching in the right place, so that your pattern doesn’t suddenly run off the fabric….. Well, I had in January made the assumption that the Four Seasons pattern was, to use a printer paper term, in landscape, so I had orientated my fabric (which was only just big enough, it’s a big pattern once finished), to start on the top left hand corner of the fabric when in landscape orientation. So when I downloaded the February part of the pattern and there was the centre marking arrow, right slap bang in the middle of the February piece, I realised that the pattern wasn’t in ‘landscape’ it was in ‘portrait’, I would, if I continued, very definitely run out of fabric at some point in the design…..

So there I was with a big (but decreasing) bag of ecru thread (a colour, I should point out, I don’t use that often and would probably go to waste if I decided to stop working on the project – if it had been a big bag of black thread, that would have been another story, because I’m always using and running out of black, so a big bag of black thread would have easily been used elsewhere) and a fabric that was hard to work with and would require a massively soul destroying amount of unpicking if I were to use it again, so I decided to get another piece of fabric.

This time the fabric was dark green, as keen eyed readers will note, the in progress picture at the top of this post is not a piece of work on dark green fabric ….. I started the piece again, with the dark green fabric, MAKING SURE THAT THE FABRIC WAS THE RIGHT WAY ROUND THIS TIME and it was looking pretty nice. I was working on the band that you can see at the top of the piece, except when it came to getting the zig zag bits of the design between the two lines of the band, I could just not get my stitches to match up. I was unpicking and restitching various bits again and again, so, very prepared to throw the whole project, big bag of ecru thread and all, at the wall, I examined the fabric more closely. Now, I’ve been stitching with evenweave for a few years now and I would describe myself as a fairly experienced cross stitcher and this evenweave fabric was the worst I’d ever seen, I won’t say the brand, maybe I just had a one off dodgy piece but I will not be buying that brand again. With evenweave, you need to be able to see some definition between the strands, so that you’re putting your needle through the right hole, basically you want the weave to be EVEN, but I realised that my stitches kept going out of sync because some of the strands of thread in the weave of the fabric were so thin, they were pushed up against and indistinguishable from the next strand, unless I took the time to poke around and tease out the weave with my needle with each stitch. So I gave up on the green fabric.

So, I ordered some more fabric, a different brand this time. I never did get quite the shade of dark grey that I had originally envisioned but this, attempt number 3, is much more how I originally imagined it (and of course the fabric is the right way round this time), I like how the ecru thread looks lace like on the dark background. I had so wanted to keep up with the stitch-a-long but here it is, nearly the end of February and I’m only half way through January but I’ll catch up, especially now that the fabric is actually stitchable.

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