Finish-along with &Stitches

If you are an &Stitches reader (and I hope you are!), you’ll know that we’re starting 2014 off with a finish-along. A good way to start a new year, I think – tidying up the project basket and getting things done!

My finish-along goal might be a little different than others, because I don’t have one project to focus on, I have a pile:

Embroidery to Finish-along with &Stitches!

This pile is my official entry to the &Stitches Finish-along, because it’s all embroidery. It might seem a bit excessive, but this whole post (embroidery and otherwise) is full of projects that are nearly all at least 80% finished — and I don’t honestly expect that I’ll finish them all. So pictured above:

  • French Knot sampler, with only one partial section left to complete.
  • Orangework Sampler, not quite half done, but this is a fairly small and quick project.
  • Eels lyrics embroidery! Oh, how I love this project so, and am so sad that it got so deeply buried at the bottom of the basket. There’s not much left to do really, but I was stumped by the best way to stitch those teeeeensy flowers and it was put on pause.
  • The cross-stitch pictured is from a kit bought at the Bronte House about 12 years ago. It’s a reproduction of a sampler Charlotte Bronte stitched as a little girl. She must’ve had amazing eyesight, because this has lingered for so long simply because it is so tiny I can barely see it. But there’s only one line left to stitch!
  • And lastly, those blue-gray blobby flowers? Those are updated from a pattern book from 1915 and are something I started a very, very long time ago. I honestly doubt I’ll get to this one in time, but I can give it a sporting try, right? Those flowers are all done in satin stitch, and there’s leaves too, and it’s a slow project – but I do enjoy it a lot.

Although not officially tied to the &Stitches finish-along because it’s not embroidery, I’d also love to see this pile finished:

Knitting Projects to Finish-along

Again, all projects nearly done, it’s just silly that they’re still lingering. The magenta is my Henslowe shawl, which only needs blocking. The white is a secret thing that may possibly become a pattern – with very little knitting left to do. The camel alpaca project is a new shawl for my now-home-from-the-hospital mother. To be fair, this has only been on the needles for about a week, but I’m already on the edging and I don’t want it to linger, so I’ve included it. And the mustard colored project is a sock for my brother (the second of the pair) which is perfect for train travel and my upcoming visit to Amsterdam.

EPP project to finish-along

And lastly, this set of English Paper Pieced pillow covers, a gift for my mother now over a year late. Yikes. EPP is slow going, which is why I like it, but it is admittedly very unlikely to be finished quickly. However, one top is already finished and the other is about halfway, so it’s worth mentioning it here and hoping for the best.

These are, sadly, not all of my UFOs, but they are the UFOs that I: a.) definitely want to finish. There are one or two I’m not convinced about continuing, so they aren’t taking part in the finish-along, and b.) are far enough along that quick completion isn’t a pipe dream. Long-term UFOs like my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt don’t count, those are meant to be ongoing. I tend to only get frustrated by projects that linger unnecessarily, and that brings me to my one and only crafty resolution for 2014:

Less projects, more often.

Because I start too many projects at once, they all take for-ev-ar to finish, which means I’m totally sick of the sight of them by the time I get near the end, which means I let them pile up to this point I’m at now but I really don’t want to work on them anymore! This year, I want to have fewer WIPs going at once, so that I finish them and move on to new things faster. Shortening the cycle, as it were.

And the best place to start? Clearing out the basket. Let’s go!

New Knitting Pattern: Besotted

In all the Christmas / New Year’s / hospital / family-visiting-from-the-States kerfuffle, I haven’t yet posted about my new knitting pattern! I just managed to get it out a few weeks ago and it’s available on Ravelry, at the bottom of this post and via the sidebar to the right (you do not need a Ravelry account to purchase!).

The pattern is called Besotted, because really, what else could I call a colorwork cowl covered in big, squishy hearts?! I suppose I’m a little bit biased, but it would be a perfect project to cast on right away and wear in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day next month – am I right or am I right?

Besotted is a deliciously luxurious slouchy cowl; from the very beginning, I planned this project with Shilasdair Luxury DK in mind because it really is the most gorgeous yarn on earth. It’s wonderful for colorwork because it has a lovely rustic quality and makes knitting even colorwork easy-peasy – but the angora and cashmere content make it an incredibly soft, lofty and drapey yarn. The best of both worlds!

If you are unable to get some of Shilasdair’s DK yarn (which Ravelry said is now discontinued, but the website doesn’t? I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I desperately hope not), try to chose a DK yarn that has some combination of wool (for the colorwork) and a luxury fiber like cashmere, alpaca, or silk (for the deliciousness). Of course you can use a pure wool yarn as well, but if you choose well, your Besotted cowl will puddle around your neck in lovely soft folds and be a joy to snuggle.


Shilasdair Luxury DK
100g / 300m (330 yd) per skein, one skein each of main color (MC) and contrast color (CC)
Example shown in Hawthorne (red – MC) and Fleece Cloud (natural – CC)

US #4 / 3.5 mm circular needles, 24” / 60 cm in length

2 hearts (19 sts in stranded colorwork) = 3” / 7.5cm wide and 1.5” / 3.75 cm tall
26 sts / 30 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stranded colorwork, blocked.

Finished Size:
28” / 71 cm in circumference
10.5” / 27 cm in height

(Thank you to the ever-talented Carina of Carina’s Craftblog and Polka & Bloom embroidery patterns fame, who was kind enough to take these beautiful photos for me!)

The Night Before Christmas Embroidered Pillow Tutorial!

Night Before Christmas Embroidery Pattern!

As I mentioned the other day, the Little Dorrit & Co. Team (ahem, me and Mom) have been thinking about how we can put our embroideries to use. We like things to be used, not hidden away and hoarded! Honestly, nothing makes me happier than to see something I made all beat up and ratty. It means it was loved! So this time, we’ve turned our new Night Before Christmas embroidery pattern into a snuggly holiday pillow cover and here’s how you can make one, too!

(Note: you may need to shield your eyes from the psychotic reds in this tutorial. I can usually wait for a nice day with natural light, but it’s November in the UK and I couldn’t wait any longer. It will be dark and gray until next April and editing can only do so much. Whattya gonna do?!)

Just like we did for our Dracula Trick-or-Treat Tote, we’ll start by trimming our embroidery down to 15″ square. If you haven’t done your embroidery yet, make sure to stitch on a piece at least 16″ square so that you can neaten it up after for sewing. Go back to that Dracula post for tips on getting your embroidery centered nicely, but the best tip is always measure twice, cut once and double-check it about 30 times in between!


Night Before Christmas Embroidery Pattern – out now!

Night Before Christmas Embroidery Pattern!

Finally, our Night Before Christmas embroidery pattern is in the shop! We love this one so much – mostly because I’m just so darn partial to a bit of stitched text. Yum.

Night Before Christmas Embroidery Pattern!

It’s all pretty self-explanatory, really – not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse! We know Christmas crafting is always busy, so we’ve done everything we can to make this pattern large and exciting, but work up quite quickly. The center children area has some really cute detail, but the stars and words stitch up in a jiffy, thanks to some big fat chain stitch and the simplest straight stitches.

Night Before Christmas Embroidery Pattern!

We’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to actually *do* with all these embroideries and if you like stitching like we do, surely you’ve thought the same thing! There’s only so much wall space, right?! So we’ve made this one into a festive throw pillow to add to the Christmas decorations – and I’ll be posting an easy-peasy tutorial this Sunday for how to turn your finished Night Before Christmas embroidery (or whatever other embroidery you want, of course!) into a pillow cover as well! See you back here then!

Retro Christmas Tree Mug Rug – Embroidery Pattern & Tutorial!

Retro Christmas Tree Mug Rug Tutorial!

YAY! I’m so excited to be taking part in Laura’s Christmas Craft Link-Up today! If you’ve never stopped by Bugs & Fishes, definitely check it out – Laura does such adorable things with felt and is an all-around crafty whiz, her blog is definitely worth adding to your reader!

Today I’m sharing a free embroidery pattern for a retro Christmas tree design. This tree is 100% based on a project from a 1965 issue of Stitchcraft magazine:

Retro Christmas Tree Mug Rug Tutorial!

I’ve always loved this design, it’s just so very 1950s/60s and I’ve always wanted to do something with it. I can’t take credit for its ridiculous cuteness at all – I just wanted to recreate it in a modern way. The embroidery pattern is what I wanted to share with you all, and it can be used in a zillion projects. I quite like how the original pattern repeated the motif on a table runner, so cute for a vintage-y Christmas dinner, and I have plans to stitch one up for a tree ornament. But today I’ll show you how to turn it into a mug rug – perfect for snuggling up with Christmas treats and a hot chocolate!


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