&Stitches Issue 5: Woodlands & Stitches

Hurrah! Issue 5 of the wonderful embroidery ‘zine &Stitches is out! The theme this time is a perfect one to explore stitchery with, “Woodlands & Stitches”, and the issue is full of lovely woosdy goodness. I really, honestly think this is the best issue ever, and I’m promise that has nothing to do with my little woodsy scene being on THE COVER! Yeah, baby!

As you can see, there’s also tons of other awesome stuff in there, patterns and tutorials and interviews and more patterns and shopping tips (and two little bits by me, eep!) and color inspiration and … well, just loads of stuff! Go grab it now!

Map Sampler – 2 days to go

MK Map Sampler - WIP

I pretty much have to get back to stitching STAT! but I wanted to show my progress. It’s been a non-stop stitchoramafest here for the last 5-ish days, living and breathing nothing but this project. I so wish it was finished. So much. I keep daydreaming about knitting and reading and knitting. I think when this is done, I will treat myself to a fun instant-gratification-type knitting project before I tackle the joy that is Christmas crafting (hint: those posts will probably be tagged with ‘panic’ as well).

Remind me not to leave projects this late before the deadline, ‘k? Thanks.

So this is how far I am now, with about two-three days to go. There’s lots of spaces left but they are now mostly small spaces. That means it’ll be tricky to come up with fill small enough for them, but faster to stitch.

Then I will stitch over all the borders in backstitch, big fat backstitch, in a very dark blue. You can get an idea of how that will look in this odd picture (sorry, taken as I worked in poor / weird light):

MK Map Sampler - WIP

I might start that soon, just to break up the fills because I’m starting to hit the wall a little now. I’m running out of ideas for stitch patterns and running out of the will do to anymore! Naw, I’m kidding … a little. I am awfully happy with it though. I bet it doesn’t look like much now with the areas all kind of blurring into each other, but I know adding the dark border lines in will really make each section pop and tie it all together.

Until then, here’s some close-ups of some of the ‘neighborhoods’ to keep you busy while I go back to stitching (click through to Flickr for bigger versions).

MK Map Sampler - WIP
MK Map Sampler - WIP
MK Map Sampler - WIP
MK Map Sampler - WIP

More Map Sampler and related news

MK Map Sampler WIP

This is absolutely insane news (I’m still not really over it), but this map sampler project I’ve been working on was featured on the DMC Threads blog the other day! MY project! ME! Can you believe that crazy? It was terribly exciting!

Someone left a comment over there to ask about how to get straight lines on non-counted blackwork, so I thought I’d show you about that here. In reality, I’m not that worried about exact straightness. I mean, the stitching looks basically straight and grid-like to the eye, and that’s enough for me for this project. I think it would lose its character if it was too-too perfect, if you know what I mean.

But I don’t just wing it completely! For each section, I pick a thread color and a stitch pattern to go in that space first. In the middle of that area, I draw a line (with a heat-erasing Pilot Frixion Pen) down the middle to get the first row of stitches nice and even. This type of blackwork filling is usually based on rows or grids in some way, so a line will generally be enough to get a straight start. From there, it’s not too difficult to get the next row straight using the first row as a ruler of sorts, and so on.

MK Map Sampler WIP

Here’s a photo of this new block in progress that will show what I mean. In this case, because I wanted the crosses to create the grid, nice and straight both horizontally and vertically, I marked out a whole grid on the fabric to work from.

Here …

MK Map Sampler WIP

… you can see that I’ve plotted a few squares ahead, marking the beginnings of stitches in pen. This will allow me to curl up with the Scream Trilogy tonight (my favorite tradition on my favorite holiday!) and get right to the stitching without too much dithering over the details. Which often takes longer than the actual stitching. These lines will disappear with the mildest of ironing when I’ve finished.

I was also asked about the embroidery floss storage pictured in that DMC post / my first post here about this project. My mother bought this floss box for me years ago, when we lived in the Netherlands.

Floss Storage

There used to be this lovely little needlework shop in Haarlem, near where we lived then, and since there’s no brand or markings on the box anywhere, I have to assume it was handmade by someone locally.

Floss Storage

I love it so much, it only takes a quick minute to wind the thread on these bobbins (which are just a touch bigger than those paper ones you get) and it keeps everything orderly and easy to find. We don’t keep the threads in number order or anything, just generally grouped by color.

Floss Storage

We’ve actually run out of room in this one already and had to move browns and neutrals to plastic boxes. I’d love it if we could find another similar wooden storage box to expand into.

Happy Halloween, everyone! (I really should’ve taken a photo of the orange drawer, shouldn’t I?!)

Map sampler progress – and a winner!

MK Map Sampler - WIP

Isn’t it funny how sometimes you avoid a project for months and then when you finally pick it up, you love it? I actually stayed up too late last night stitching the area above – this one was really fun, and I was really glad I picked a large area for it. (I’m even secretly a little glad I didn’t finish it, so there’s still some more of that stitch to do tonight!)

MK Map Sampler - WIP

This section, on the other hand, was a bit of a pain in the ass. It seems like it’d be so simple and mild-mannered, but it got all fussy and the spacing went all wonky if even one tiny stitch was slightly out of place. Arg. But it does look nice in the end, so I forgive it.

Stitch, stitch, stitch! I’ll just keep stitching these and showing them to you until you can’t stand it anymore and beg for me to stop!

Oh, but wait, of course that’s not it! We have a winner to pick! Mr Random Generator, can we have a drumroll please …

#4! GILL! Whoopwhoop! We’ll get your copy of the &Stitches Scandinavian Issue to you right away! I really hope the rest of you will go check the ‘zine out too, and I want to thank you all for stopping by and saying hello. I’ve so enjoyed having you here, I’m checking out every single one of your blogs – giveaways are such a wonderful way to meet awesome people – and I hope you’ll come by again soon!

MK Map Sampler WIP

Map Sampler WIP

Sorry the photos are kind of crummy today, it’s raining – shockingly – and they look terribly lumpy but although I’d like to retake them, you’ll see a lot of this project over the next weeks, so there’s no need to get them perfect this once.

This December, the local branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild (of which I am branch secretary, don’cha know) will participate in an exhibition that will showcase embroidery of all types, as far as I understand. I haven’t been a member for very long, but apparently the branch sets a challenge every year, a theme or project type, and everyone creates something to share at one of our meetings. This time, we were each given an 8-inch canvas, the theme of our city and told to pick a place that inspires us and go with it. The challenge pieces are usually just seen by the branch members, but this year, all of our pieces will be exhibited together as part of this local exhibition.

Well, the thing is that I’ve only been here for a couple of years and don’t feel like I know it well enough yet to have a place I find ‘inspiring’. To be honest, I’m not even sure I’ve found places (as in, specific locations) I like yet and, in the long-run, I suspect this is probably a temporary stop for me. There are people I absolutely adore here, but I wasn’t about to embroider my friends on a tiny canvas. That would be creepy.

Map Sampler WIP

So I had to approach the project a little differently – Milton Keynes is kind of like a patchwork town, made of all these tiny areas that were joined to make a whole – though they all have their own identity, in a way. So I saw it like a sampler of sorts, and decided to create my own take on the traditional map sampler. I traced a map of the different parishes or neighborhoods or whatever-you-call-em over and over until the shapes were simplified, then traced that onto my fabric.

Now I will fill each neighborhood with a different stitch, based on blackwork fill patterns. This sampler:

Blackwork samples

is a sampler in the earliest sense – literally a sampling of blackwork fill patterns I re-created from Elizabethan embroideries I analyzed at the Victoria & Albert museum in London a few years ago. I took a whole mess of photos, then charted as many patterns as I could make out, then stitched them up. I really use it like a reference, though my mother is forever saying I should have it framed. Anyway, it’s proving very useful with this project, though I’m not using them as strictly as I might for another project. I’m allowing my stitching on this map sampler to be a little more freeform-y and relaxed.


The stitches will be all in blues of all sorts – unity in color, individuality in stitch. When it’s all filled up, I will stitch all the boundaries in, I think, a fat chain stitch, maybe in white or cream. Something that will frame each area and pop against them, kind of like quilt sashing. But I won’t get ahead of myself, I have less than a month to finish and I’ve got an awful lot of fill to work on.

(By the by, have you entered my giveaway for a copy of the new Scandinavian Issue of &Stitches?! It’s open until midday Wednesday, go enter over here!)

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