Tuesday 15 May 2012

Where have I been?

Where have I been? Nowhere – just the usual round of dog walks, spotting kestrels and kites and deer and Bill and Beatrice Crow, of which more anon.

What have I been doing? My youngest daughter is getting married in July and I decided to make a wedding ring cushion. My preferred format was cross stitch but I couldn’t find a design I really liked. Then I saw a Hardanger project which really appealed. The only problem was that I had never attempted Hardanger before though I had made some drawn thread napkins many years ago. Could it be so very different?
I bought a ‘Teach Yourself Hardanger Embroidery’ book and plunged in. Therein lies the problem – I am too hasty. Anxious to start and worried that I might not finish the task in time I began. I have always had a problem with tension - oh, the headaches, the worry!! – no, not that sort of tension. My knitting is too tight to move on the needles, my crochet stitches are impossibly taut, my cross-stitch buckles the fabric, hand-sewn seams are wrinkled. I was determined not to make that mistake and went rather to the other extreme. Kloster blocks are meant to retain the fabric when the material they surround is cut away and I was concerned that they might not.

I was working on Zweigart 28 Count Quaker cloth – that’s 28 hpi (holes per inch) – and the design was to be worked over two holes. I was pleasantly surprised at the speed with which the work progressed, then found I was one thread out and had to unstitch. It wouldn’t have mattered if it had not been a symmetrical pattern, but it was and it did – matter, that is. Eventually I finished the four hearts. By now the pearl thread had lost some of its lustre and was looking rather woolly in places where it had been worked and unworked and worked again. Undeterred I carried on.

From time to time I referred to my ‘Teach Yourself’ book to reassure myself that I was doing the right thing. ‘Remember the number four’ was burnt into my brain – that is, work over four fabric threads and leave four fabric threads between blocks. It wasn’t until I was anticipating the next stage of the work that I read that Kloster blocks usually comprise five satin stitches worked over four threads. Heart sinking, I looked more closely at the chart – yes, there were five lines indicating five stitches in each block. I considered rejigging the whole thing, adjusting everything to accommodate my mistake - too difficult! I then thought about unstitching the whole piece – the pearl cotton would look decidedly more like angora wool. Finally, I concluded that I must treat the piece I had been working on as my practice piece and started again. This time I read carefully to ensure that nothing else would go amiss and that I was doing the right thing in the right place.
Before the cutting . . . I was tempted to leave it like this.
A practice heart, cut out and miraculously not falling to pieces.

Eventually, I finished the cushion. I hope I’m the only one who will recognise the many faults in it, though I expect I shall point them out, just as my mother always drew attention to her (very minor) mistakes,  but I enjoyed doing it. It doesn’t matter if Bethan and Robert decide they don’t want to use it and even if they do the little boy who holds it, (Robert’s nephew) will no doubt drop it or stand on it or wipe his nose on it – once I’ve given it to them it’s theirs to do with as they please.
The finished article 


  1. It is gorgeous. You have SO much patience. I would have been slitting my wrists after the first "pick out".

  2. That is amazing! I think you should rewrite this post and just say 'well done me!' I bet your daughter will love it! And I did wonder where you were.

  3. Janice, I see nothing but what will become a very treasured family heirloom. It's gorgeous, a complete work of art and if I had done that I would be so proud of it, as you should be. I have never been good with a needle of any kind and am so impressed.

  4. It is very beautiful. So delicate, and I love the little pink roses and pearls. You did a wonderful job. I used to cross-stitch for hours and enjoyed it very much.

  5. I feel sure that nobody will spot a flaw. They'll be too busy oohing and aahing over how beautiful it is! What a lovely gift.

  6. That is so gorgeous and such a wonderful keepsake. Well done.

  7. Absolutely wonderful - well done! And now that you've cracked Hardanger, who knows what may follow?

  8. What a beautiful treasure, meaningful and made with love.

  9. Hi Janice .. that is absolutely stunning - well done is all I can say. It looks so, so pretty ..

    Very clever .. and I'm sure they'll be thrilled with your thoughtfulness - and now you have another skill to your name ..

    Wonderful - cheers Hilary

  10. It looks beautiful to me! I can't see a single fault.
    Love your new header.

  11. That is definitely a beautiful gift. They'd be crazy not to use it.

  12. The pillow is beautiful. Do not point out any mistakes. Think of how much love went into making it. And. . .rug makers when weaving their rugs always leave a flaw on purpose, because God is the only one who is perfect.

  13. I think that it is absolutely beautiful.

    Well done you,
    you are very gifted to be able to do something like that
    I would never in a million years
    be able to create something as lovely as that.


  14. That is just beautiful, Janice. I had wondered were you were after the A - Z challenge ended. What a lucky daughter (and son-in-law) to receive such a handmade treasure.

  15. That is lovely - now I understand your absence.


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