Crochet, Cross Stitch, Karen's Korner, Lace Making

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter

I was lucky enough to find time to dabble in a little bit of everything over Easter this year. I managed to get a few small crochet novelty items made for my grandchildren in plenty of time to accompany their Easter Sunday chocolate treats. Unfortunately the yarn I had available for the beaks of the chickens resulted in them looking more like ducks, but the grandchildren still seemed happy enough to receive them.

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter A Little Bit Of Everything Over EasterI have finally managed to make a bit more progress with my needle lace sampler (see “Update On Lace Sampler”). The next box is now about half-filled with “cloth stitch”. The lower third will have some variation worked in as part of the stitching and, once the background stitch is completed, the middle third will have some extra details stitched on top. It has been a lot slower than I had originally planned, but I am enjoying learning new things when I am able to spend some time on it.

A Little Bit Of Everything Over EasterThe third project I was able to get to was the fine cross stitch birth sampler that I also started last year (see “Two Extremes Of Cross Stitch”). It is a little easier to do now that I have upgraded my glasses, but I still struggle with it a bit. I can only do it during the afternoon in good lighting conditions which is quite a disadvantage when I am working. I will continue to persevere though as I think it will be well worth the effort once it is finished.

As if those three weren’t enough to keep me occupied, I also picked up a knitting project that I started early in the year. It is a sleeveless vest for me which I will post photos of once it is finished. I find it relaxing to knit in the evenings as it is something I don’t have to concentrate so hard on.

Easter is a very special and significant season for me and, although I was able to get quite a bit of craft work done, the most special times were spent attending church services and catching up with family. I hope you all had a very special Easter season too.

Cross Stitch, Karen's Korner, Knitting

A Busy Start To 2018

I don’t know about you but I have had rather a busy start to 2018. It has involved family, friends, knitting and cross stitch, so it has also been a very good start.

One of the special things about Christmas is being able to catch up with family, and this year was no different. Following that, on the 6th of January, our elder son arrived with his two little dogs to stay with us for a few weeks. He has just completed “The Longest Walk New Zealand” during which he walked just over 5000 km around the country to try to help raise awareness of animal welfare organisations. You can find out more about his adventures on his website (see link above).

A Busy Start To 2018I have been spending quite a lot of time in the last few weeks with two of my grandchildren who live locally. The weather has been lovely for most of the time and we have been on a number of “adventures”. These have ranged from a paddle in the local stream accompanied by a crowd of curious ducks, to a bush walk and a walk along the shoreline of the local harbour. It is great when kids enjoy doing simple, outdoor things. I feel very blessed to have this involvement with them.

A Busy Start To 2018On the crafting front, I have knitted a couple of little hats for some twins girls who were born prematurely to a young couple from our church. I also made a larger version for their three year old sister. It was fun to do such tiny knitting, especially knowing that the twins and their mum are all doing well.

A Busy Start To 2018Over the last couple of months I have also been busy with three more cross stitched cushion covers. These are for the three grandchildren who live locally. They all have their birthdays within a few weeks of each other at the end of January / beginning of February, so it is good to have them finished. I just need to put the backings on them all now.

I hope you have all had a good start to the year and look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Cross Stitch

How to Frame a Cross Stitched Piece

How to Frame a Cross Stitched Piece
Image courtesy of trent

Once your cross-stitched piece is completed it is time to share your hard work and artistic talent. Part of the fun of creating your cross-stitched piece is in the selection of a frame that will best display it. Depending on the piece itself, the right combination of picture frame and mat can turn it into a treasured heirloom or a cherished work of art. Follow these simple steps and you will have a cross-stitched piece you are proud to display in your home or give as a gift to someone special.

The first step is to select a picture frame and mat or mats that complement and enhance your cross-stitched piece and your decor. Does your piece lend itself to an ornate picture frame or would it have more eye-appeal in a simple picture frame? Let your personal taste, decor and the artwork itself guide you to the perfect picture frame and mat combination.

How to Frame a Cross Stitched Piece
Image courtesy of
How to Frame a Cross Stitched Piece
Image courtesy of

Now that you have selected your mat you will need backing on which to secure your cross-stitched piece. It needs to be the same size as your mat. Backing can be cut from mat board or foam-core. Once the backing is the size you need, cut a window that is a quarter inch larger than the mat window opening. Save the cutout piece to be used later. Now attach double sided stitchery tape to the edges of the backing piece.

How to Frame a Cross Stitched Piece
Image courtesy of

The backing with the window cut out can now be mounted to the mat with double sided tape.

Center your cross-stitched piece in the backing window with the stitchery side facing out through the mat opening. Press the backing piece you cut out to make the window onto the back of the cross-stitched piece. Work with it until you have the stitchery centered.

Start with a corner and pull the fabric taut and press it onto the double sided tape. Continue around the stitchery until all the fabric is held by the tape and your cross-stitched piece is centered. It may take a few adjustments to get it fitted and centered properly. When you have it centered, tape the backing and window piece together with framing tape. Now, cut a piece of mat to fit over the back of the piece to protect and secure it.

Now you are ready to frame your matted piece. Place it into the frame you selected and secure. Cut a piece of Kraft paper to cover the back of the frame. To finish off, attach the hanger of your choice – sawtooth hanger or eye hooks with picture wire – and you are ready to hang your cross-stitched work of art.

How to Frame a Cross Stitched Piece
Image courtesy of

To Glaze or Not to Glaze

Where you hang your piece and the climate conditions should determine whether or not you frame your cross-stitch under glass.

Dust: Use glass if you want to protect your piece from dust. Dust accumulation can cause serious damage to the fabric.

Humidity: Use glass if you plan to hang your piece in the kitchen or bathroom. High humidity can cause damage to the fabric. However, if it isn’t properly sealed, condensation could form on the glass and that could cause mildew and mold issues.

Living in a climate with few dry days and high humidity could make it extremely difficult to create a moisture proof seal. If you live in an area with high humidity, consider taking your cross-stitched piece to a professional framer for proper sealing or just leave it unglazed. Don’t hang it in your kitchen if you leave it without glass because airborne grease and oil could harm your fabric.


Cross Stitch

Birthday Cushions Completed!

Birthday Cushions Completed!

I am pleased to report that both the birthday cushions have been completed. (See “Two Extremes of Cross Stitch”.) This is the first time I have used this kind of kit and I have found it very enjoyable and satisfying. The coarse canvas and the printed design have made the projects easy to follow and quick to finish.

New kits or projects often come with learning opportunities, and these kits were no exception. My first surprise came when I opened the kit and took out the yarn. Previously I have used a number of counted cross stitch kits and have been used to the threads being sorted into colours, usually also organised on a card or cards. When I took out the bundle of yarn from the pony kit I found I had just that – all the pre-cut yarn bundled together.

Birthday Cushions Completed! Birthday Cushions Completed!This being the case, my first task was to sort the yarn into colours and tie them together for ease of use. This took a while, but was well worth doing.

Stitching the projects was relatively straight forward, particularly where there were big blocks of one colour. I did find, however, that I needed to be more careful with individual or small numbers of stitches. The much larger holes in the canvas meant that isolated stitches were more easily pulled out of shape if the yarn was pulled a bit tighter. I became more familiar with what worked best as I went along.

Birthday Cushions Completed!Birthday Cushions Completed!I hit a slightly steeper learning curve when it came to making the backings for the cushions. Again, this was something I had not done before. I managed to work out how to put them together without too many problems. I have made them with a zip running across the middle horizontally for ease of removal.

There were a couple of “note to self” moments during the process though. The first one came after I had successfully attached the backing piece to the first cushion. I turned it over to turn it out the right way and discovered that I had sewn the backing on with the zip fully done up. Note to self: make sure you leave the zip undone a couple of inches because it is very difficult to open it up otherwise!

Birthday Cushions Completed! Birthday Cushions Completed!The second “note to self” was a more general one. I got nearly three quarters of the way around sewing the backing on the second cushion when I noticed that the cotton was lifting behind the machine as I went. I discovered that the bobbin had run out halfway along the previous side so had to go back and repin it, then resew it after filling the bobbin.

I am very pleased with how these two covers have turned out. All I have to do now is buy some inners to go in them and wrap them up for the birthday children.


Crochet, Knitting

Yarn Bombing – a Global Phenomenon

Yarn Bombing - a Global Phenomenon
Image courtesy of

Have you heard of Yarn Bombing yet? Yarn bombing is an activity which is spreading around the world. If you Google yarn bombing you will come up with some amazing images. For me one of the most impressive ones would have to be a train consisting of an engine and four carriages, all of which had been very colourfully covered.

It is thought that yarn bombing began with knitters in Texas in 2005, who used it as a creative way to use up leftover, unfinished projects. The movement has since spread worldwide, and evolved into things like the “stitched story” concept. This uses handmade items to tell a story or illustrate a theme. The first recorded example of this was in August 2009.

Yarn Bombing - a Global Phenomenon
Image courtesy of
Yarn Bombing - a Global Phenomenon
Image courtesy of flikr

Yarn bombing may have started off with knitted items, but there are now a large number of crocheted projects as well. The “stitched story” projects can include amigurumi figures in them as part of their narrative process. (See also “The Origin and Popularity of Amigurumi Crochet”.) I have even seen photos of projects done in cross stitch. Yarn is used to create cross stitch patterns on a wire grid which is then hung on a fence or wall.

Over the last few months I have seen yarn bombing weekends advertised in two different communities in my local area. These have involved people meeting together throughout the weekend at an arranged venue. Individuals can attend for whatever length of time suits them. It is a social gathering of people working together to produce community adornment projects.

Yarn Bombing - a Global PhenomenonA couple of weeks ago I took my camera with me on my morning walk to take photos of some yarn bombing that had appeared on the fence of one of our local primary schools. The weather here has been a bit unfriendly, as we are in the middle of winter, but the colourful webs seem to be lasting fairly well.

I see yarn bombing as a rather fun way to inject a bit of colour into some of our public spaces. Having said that, I also think that the “bombers” need to be sensitive with the areas they choose to decorate, and respectful of local regulations and significant structures.

I would love to hear other people’s opinions on this, so please feel free to leave a comment.


Cross Stitch, Karen's Korner, Knitting

A Comparison of Pattern Grids

A Comparison of Pattern Grids

Last month a friend of mine gave me a special book on knitting. It is called “Knitologie” by Lucy Main Tweet, and contains some pattern grids which I found really exciting. I have quite a variety of cross stitch alphabet patterns, but this book has two different sized knitted alphabets, one being 14 rows high and the other 28 rows high. This seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to do a comparison of pattern grids for knitting and cross stitch.

Knitting patterns are often published on square grids, but knitting stitches are not actually square. Tension guides indicate that the width of three stitches is equivalent to the height of approximately four rows. This means that a pattern represented on a square grid will appear shorter and wider in the knitted work.

I decided to use the 14 row knitting grid, then chose a fairly plain 14 row cross stitch grid to use as a comparison. The cross stitch was worked in red on some scraps of white 14 count Aida that I had, and I found some balls of acrylic yarn in red and white to create a similar effect.

A Comparison of Pattern Grids
The Knitted Samples
A Comparison of Pattern Grids
The Cross Stitch Samples

The letter “O” seemed to be a good one to demonstrate the differences in shape, so I worked the capital version of that letter from both alphabets and in both mediums. This meant I ended up with four red “O’s” on white backgrounds. I have taken a number of photos to illustrate the different results created by knitting and cross stitch. It was great to be able to create such a clear illustration of something I had known the theory of for some time, but had not had a good mental picture of.

A Comparison of Pattern Grids
Comparison for Knitting Grid
A Comparison of Pattern Grids
Comparison for Cross Stitch Grid

So what does this mean in practical terms? Is it possible to transpose knitting and cross stitch patterns to create your own unique projects? The short answer is “yes” but you do have to be aware of the distortion factor. You may be happy to accept the result of the pattern without any alterations, or you may want to try to compensate a little.

To modify a cross stitch pattern for knitting you will need to either insert a few rows evenly up the design (roughly one for every three rows of pattern), or decrease the number of stitches evenly across it (taking out approximately every fourth stitch). Obviously you will need to make these changes in a way that doesn’t change the overall look of the design.

To modify a knitting pattern for cross stitch you will need to use the opposite of the suggestions above. In other words, you will need either fewer rows or more stitches across.

Good luck and I hope you have fun experimenting with your patterns!


Cross Stitch

The Magic of Outlining

The Magic of Outlining

I am always fascinated by what I regard as the magic of outlining when it comes to cross stitch. I have recently finished a special project for a very special friend. We have been friends since just before starting high school. This year a group of us are turning sixty, so we have obviously been friends for a long time. For this reason I wanted to give her a personalised, handmade gift to celebrate her birthday.

When you finish the main stitching on a project, you usually end up with an attractive piece of work. I used my cross stitch software (see “Creating Cross Stitch Designs”) to design a simple birthday message. The alphabet I chose used colours that my friend likes and I complemented them by choosing some pale green Aida fabric to work on. I was really pleased with the effect.

This particular pattern really highlights the effect that back stitching can have when it is used to complete a cross stitch project. While the main body of each letter is worked in cross stitch, they all have connecting components done with back stitch. I took a series of photographs throughout this project to illustrate “the magic of outlining”.

The Magic of Outlining The Magic of Outlining

The photo on the left shows the components of the project once I had finished the cross stitching. It includes all my pencilled in modifications to the pattern I printed out. The one on the right was taken after the back stitching of the letters in the first row had been completed. As well as completing the form of the letters, the outlining really lifts the letters out of the background.

This lifting effect is also shown in the photo where the flowers start emerging from the purple “blobs”. The final one in the series shows the finished piece after it has been washed, dried and ironed.

I really enjoyed giving this present to my friend and she was excited to receive it. It meant a lot more to put the thought and time into designing and stitching this present than it would have to go to a shop and buy something off the shelf. It will have lasting significance for both of us.