Big Week Off: Stitching

It’s been a while since I showed off any progress on my Sajou sampler – mostly because I got so stuck on that G! After the last photo I shared, I decided to continue on that path and see how it went, but I guess my heart wasn’t quite in it. All those little angled stitches were so slow to get just right, I couldn’t quite bring myself to put in all the time and then have to rip it out again. But I really, really wanted to move on to the H and beyond, so I just dug in my heels and got on with it … (click away for bigger versions on Flickr)

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

… and it worked out pretty well in the end, don’tcha think?! Even after I’d done all those little stitches, I still wasn’t totally convinced — until I started the split stitch outline. That made all the difference. Now, after all that fussing and avoiding, I’m in love with it.

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

Because that one was, let’s just be honest, a big pain in the ass, I went with something a little more straightforward for H. I first saw thick, dimensional couching like this on a William Morris piece (at the William Morris house) and loved how it made instant texture. I’m a big fan of texture-y stitches. I don’t have a photo, unfortunately, but the pattern for this H was done as a double outline. Thick couching seemed the obvious way to go.

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

This is two full lengths of floss – 12 strands total – with two strands holding it in place. Couching is so fun!

Oh, and before I forget, I never did show you D, done entirely in back stitch, except for tiny bits of satin stitch and two dainty french knots. Starting this one was kind of pesty, I had to keep starting over and over to get the back stitch just right for this letter. Back stitch is so beautiful, so perfect in its charming simplicity, but it is absolutely dependent on finding the exact stitch length that is just right for your project, and then consistency in stitch length throughout. It took, literally, about seven tries to get it right.

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

I really wish I could wash out the blue on this one, it’s too close to the floss color to get a really clear look. Because we’ve started using those iron-out Frixion pens, I think I will go over the grid (which is fading anyway – I don’t understand how but I find it very annoying) and then give it a goodly spray to get remove the blue for good. In the meantime, I have a few other projects that need my attention for a few days, and I’ll have to have a think on how to stitch the I.

Sajou Sampler  - WIP

The flower just has to be a big lazy daisy stitch / french knot combo, I think, but I’d like the letter itself to be filled somehow. If you have an awesome idea, shout it out!

G, I’m not sure.


I had hoped to have a finished G to show you today, but getting just this far took me all of last evening, and I’m not even sure I like it anyway.

The seeding idea didn’t pan out, unfortunately, because I just couldn’t get the stitches that small! The smallest I could get them just looked like a big ole dotted line running through it. The only other idea I had was this – simple stitches at an angle to create the illusion of a bevel (is that the right word?).

Which is not as easy as it looks! Remember when you were a kid and you first tried to write on grown-up paper, the kind without lines? Your first line of writing would be nice and straight, then it would all fall apart somewhere along the way, becoming a messy, slanty avalanche of handwriting. That’s what this was like. I started in the middle to establish the angle, then would notice about 20 minutes later that the angle had changed completely.

And I’m not sure if I like it or if it looks like satin stitch done very badly. I think I need to finish that curve and outline it in a thin split stitch before I can tell for sure. What do you think?

Not G after all.


So, hi everyone! I know there’s quite a few more of you out there now, after the so-very-exciting (for us) Feeling Stitchy post about our Little Dorrit & Co. patterns. That was pretty much amazing! No matter how long I’m involved in it, I’ll never get over how supportive and encouraging this crafty community of ours is. It’s just too dang awesome. So welcome, newcomers, it’s great to have you here!

It’s been psychotically busy around here for the last few days, but I just wanted to give you all a little update on my Sajou sampler progress. That is to say, my non-progress. This G is making me crazy! I fussed for days over how to stitch it, then finally decided on a backstitch fill, only to find that the way I was doing it made such a thick, dense underside that I worried it might cause a framing problem down the line. It was also causing the fabric pucker – just a bit, but enough that I didn’t want to risk it getting worse. So out the stitches come.

So, um, I’m kind of stuck! Any thoughts on what stitch to use to get this G done in the two colors shown? I’ve been puzzling over it long enough on my own, I’m open to suggestions! Can you see in this Instagrammed-up photo the way that the pulled-out teal stitches left a sort of speckled effect behind them? I’m intrigued by that, it’s like very fine seeding – I wonder if there’s something in that?

Sajou Sampler: E

Yes, I did finally get nice photos of the Cladonia shawl! No, they’ve not yet been edited or uploaded. Until then, here’s E.

Sajou Sampler - E

This one was a bit of pain, if I’m honest about it. I wanted a clean line for the main part of the E, so stuck with split stitch (my best for that kind of line) but then wasn’t really happy with the split stitch fill I did there. I’m just not totally sure it works. And after stitching in a darker pink, I realized the color of those swirls had to be much lighter or else they distracted from the E itself. I hope this barely-pink thread is right, I think it’ll be less noticeable once I wash out the fabric marker lines. On the other hand, the lazy daisies went better than expected and, I’m sorry to be smitten with my own work but really, how flippin’ cute are those tiny flowers?! They’re about a half centimeter tall or so; those little petals are so darling, I could just pat them all day long.

You can see a peek of the D there as well, it’ll be almost all in back stitch, which wasn’t quite as easy to get going as you might think. But I’ll tell you about that when it’s finished. And today I get to pick out the next group of letters from the Sajou alphabets I have saved, each one lovelier than the one before.

Sajou Sampler: B, C, and E

The very, very few of you that have been reading for a while might remember that back in – oh dear – October, I introduced a new long-term project I’d be working on: the antique Sajou sampler. As predicted, Christmas ate everything in its path like The Langoliers, and then I went on an unexpected knitting binge. Now things have sort of normalized, craft-wise, and I’ve finally gotten into this one properly. (Click through to see bigger versions on Flickr, if desired.)

Sajou Sampler - B & C

It’s so weird that I love this project so much, because I’m really not a lace-and-tiny-flowers kind of girl. But sometimes I find it’s the things that really aren’t your style that end up being your favorite. I have always disliked red as a color, especially on me, but my favorite nail polish lately is a flaming 40s-y bright red. Go figure. Anyhow, here’s B and C — only 24 letters to go! Oy. I do love a large project to really get into though. I suspect I’ll go through phases, like now, where I get really obsessed with it and stitch, say, 5 letters or so. Then I’ll get sick of it and put it away for a month or two. Just a prediction based on past behavior.

Sajou Sampler - B

In the true spirit of a sampler, I’m trying to make sure I do something different with each letter, with the end goal of expanding and exhibiting my needlework skillz. I did the B quite delicately – a lot of satin stitch, some outlined in split stitch, and a wee touch of french knot fill in the leaves. I love the texture contrast between the french knots and satin stitch – very touchable. Normally satin stitch and french knots are stitches I really struggle with doing well, so I was careful and slow with this one and I’m very pleased with the result. The whole point of a sampler was to practice and improve, after all.

Sajou Sampler - C

I kept the C a little simpler, so it wasn’t too much next to the detail of the B, especially since it’s quite a large letter. Just simple chain stitch (maybe my favorite stitch, it’s very pleasing to work) in two shades of pink.

Sajou Sampler - E

I couldn’t quite picture how I wanted to stitch the D, so I skipped ahead to the E. Not much done there yet, just a touch of split stitch again for the thin lines, and my colors for this letter picked out. I think the feature stitch, for lack of a better term, in this one will be lazy daisy stitch, another one I tend to have trouble with. All those little petals and leaves are just demanding it, dontcha think?

Sajou Embroidery Knife

And, in the most perfect timing ever, something happened yesterday that allowed me to open this beautiful, charming little box. Little Dorrit & Co. sold an embroidery pattern! Our very first sale! (Was it you? If so, thank you!) It was crazy exciting. So I took this box off the shelf, where it had been sitting for about 6 months, wrapped in tissue paper.

Sajou Embroidery Knife

My very generous brother bought this Sajou embroidery knife for me as a surprise no-reason gift when we visited Loop in London last summer. I’d already mentally chosen this knife as the treat I’d buy myself if my hobby became, as I’d been hoping it would, officially more than a hobby. The Brother bought it for me ahead of time, but I saved it for our first sale anyway. Waiting to use it somehow makes it even more beautiful. Thanks, Brother, you rock.

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