Fractional Stitches

Though cross stitch is a fun and relaxing hobby for people who stitch, for the designers who create the charts, some times cross stitch is an exercise in frustration.

Why?

Squares!

Whether you’re working on aida, evenweave or linen, you are stitching X’s on the fabric, mimicking the squares on the instructional chart.  This is fine and dandy in large areas or when making other boxy shapes, but for many of the characters in the Disney Dreams Collection, these squares can be very challenging when it comes to achieving the curves and proportions needed.

That’s where fractional stitches are the unsung heroes – dividing each stitch into four smaller stitches and using them in a variety of combinations.  Many stitchers, sometimes myself included, find these stitches tedious, but when they’re done properly they make a tremendous difference in the finished project.

The folks at MCG Textiles include very clear stitch guides in their kits, but experienced stitchers often don’t read the instructions or the stitch guides.  That is unfortunate because in order to achieve the effect that MCG’s stitchers achieve it is important that the stitches be done as illustrated.

The basic premise in MCG’s stitch guides is that an X is made up of four quarters, or four CORNERS.  A quarter cross stitch, indicated by a small symbol in one corner of the chart, fills ONE quarter, or one corner only.  Do not be tempted to also make a long diagonal stitch from one corner to another, thereby filling three-quarters, or three corners, of the square.  If there are two small symbols in opposite corners in the square then stitch both corners only.  In both scenarios there will always be a back-stitch line – when stitched that will fill the rest of the square.Because the characters in the Disney Dreams Collection designs are small, sometimes the designer has to divide a full stitch horizontally or vertically.  In this scenario, the four quarter stitches fill the square but a back-stitch is still necessary to match up with the rest of the outlining of the character.

Though it doesn’t happen often, there are times when three or four colors are used in one square.  When this happens, at least one of the quarter stitches will have back-stitches around it.

For all you stitchers who prefer to stitch the three corners with your floss color, this stitch is for you!  It’s called, appropriately so, the three quarter cross stitch!  🙂  This stitch is done ONLY when there are two small symbols in two DIFFERENT squares with a diagonal back-stitch line that goes across both squares.Though the fourth corner doesn’t have a stitch in it, the combination of the back-stitch line plus the other three corners being filled fills that fourth corner.

Since you’ve been so patient with the technical explanations, here are some close-ups of stitched images.

Here is Belle from Beauty And The Beast Falling In Love.  Can you see examples of all three stitches described above?

The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio Wishes Upon A Star has two of the three stitches…do you know which ones?

And here’s everyone’s favorite mermaid..can you identify which fractional stitches are used to make curves out of squares?

I hope these explanations have helped you appreciate the usage of the fractional stitches and that you have an understanding of how to execute them the way that MCG Textiles intended.

If you have any questions or need a better explanation then let the good folks at MCG know either on their Facebook page or via their customer service e-mail (customersupport@mcgtextiles.com)

Until next time…keep being crafty

~~ Emmie ~~

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Let’s Share The Crafting Excitement!

Do you remember how excited you were when you received a craft kit as a kid?  Did a smile spread across your face?  Did your eyes try to take in every detail of the package and the goodies inside?  Did it take every ounce of willpower you had not to jump right into this new craft project to the exclusion of everything and everyone around you?  What did you get?

That was me at Christmas and my birthday…a spring coiled tightly and waiting to explode with creativity after all gifts were opened and everyone left or busied themselves with their own gifts.

I completely forgot that feeling until I was in Hobby Lobby last week and came across this kit…

This box brought back memories of the Sand Art projects I did as a kid.  As I walked around the store what also came flooding back from the deep recesses of my memory was the frustration I encountered doing the first couple projects.   I kept at it though and soon became quite good, though not an expert by any means.

As I walked past the aisles and aisles (and MORE aisles) of Christmas everything that was beckoning to me, my memory changed from frustration to the excitement I mentioned above.  I’m sure that feeling was very evident because of the hugeness of my smile, my twinkling eyes and the spring in my step.  I may have even giggled a bit.

Christmas is just around the corner and even if you or I aren’t the recipients of that crafting gift, we can give it to others and watch them light up just like we did!

MCG Textiles has the PERFECT small kits for your young crafters…or the older generation who like to craft but whose eyesight no longer allows them to work on projects with tiny details.

The first line is EZ Yarn Art.  There are 6 different designs that fit perfectly in an 8″ x 10″ frame when they’re done.  Included in the kit are a pre-printed and pre-slotted foam board, acrylic yarn, the tool and easy-to-follow instructions.  You can see the entire line and the video demonstration if you click here.

The next line is the EZ Stitchin’ Line.  These six 5″ x 7″ designs are cross stitched on 5-mesh canvas.  The designs are colorful and fun…and perfect for both older and younger crafters!  The kits include canvas, acrylic yarn, plastic needle, chart and easy-to-follow instructions.  Click here to see the fabulous designs!

The last line is the Beginnin’ Stitchin’ Line.  This line offers ten 5″ x 7″ designs that will appeal to boys and girls, young and old.  The fabric included is 6-count Aida but instead of full cross stitches you do half cross stitches – kind of like needlepoint on cross stitch fabric.  Each kit contains fabric, acrylic yarn, plastic needle, frame (the same color as pictured), chart and easy-to-follow instructions.  Are you in the shopping mood?  Well click here to see the designs included in this line!

Are you looking forward to getting someone excited about crafting this holiday season?  Who will it be and with what craft/kit?   Be sure to let us know!

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Locker Hooking Corners The Easy Way

If you’re making a locker hooking rug, place mat or other project with finished edges, them I’m sure you’re following the instructions and folding the canvas under on all sides and hooking through all layers at the same time.

If you are, I’m pretty confident that, like me, you’ve encountered some struggles when it comes to the corners because you’re hooking through FOUR layers of canvas.  No matter how carefully I fold back the canvas edges, the four layers never line up well for those 9 corner squares.

Since I love locker hooking and I hate struggling with anything, I spent some time experimenting with resolutions to the corner problem and have come up with one that works for me.  It makes the hooking project so much easier that I thought I’d share it with you!

Note:  I’m right handed so I work right to left.  If you’re left handed and work left to right, please substitute “left” for “right” in all the directions below. 

Here we go…

First, fold three rows to the back along all four sides of your canvas. As you do this you’ll notice that two opposing sides fold easily (twisted canvas threads) and two are a bit more difficult to fold nicely so the holes line up (parallel canvas threads).  I consider hooking through the corners a two-stage process.  Stage 1 is the easy-to-fold sides and stage 2 is the more difficult to fold sides.

Bearing that in mind, let’s do Stage 1.  Grab your canvas so an easily folded side is on the right and a not so easily folded side is on the bottom.  With only the bottom side folded, count in from the unfolded right edge and place the tip of your locker hook tool through both layers of the 4th square.  The 3 empty squares are the turn under for the right edge.

Now on to Stage 2.

Gradually fold the right edge towards the center of the canvas.  Your locker hook tool should angle to the right until the tip finds the square immediately to the right of where it first went into the canvas.

As you push the locker hook tool through that square, the lightweight aluminum tool is doing all the hard work for you and lining up the four layers of canvas!

The great news is that it’s not just the first square that gets lined up, but all 9 squares where the canvas is quadrupled!

Now that the holes are lined up perfectly your corners will be a breeze!

Hint:  when hooking these 9 squares, I still slide the loops off my tool one at a time as I hook them as opposed to sliding 8 or more off because of the bulkiness of the 4 canvas layers

Until next time…keep being crafty

~~ Emmie~~

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Vacation Finds

Well folks I’m home from vacation and all rested up (sort of)!

As promised in my pre-vacation post, I’ll tell you where I’ve been, but I’m going to do it in an Emmie way – with hints!

  1. Ocean
  2. Traveling Hotel
  3. Rainforest
  4. Sunshine
  5. Zip-lining
  6. Snorkeling
  7. Helicopter Ride
  8. Hiking
  9. Bike Riding
  10. Spoiled Rotten

Do you know where I was, or at least what I was on?

If you said a cruise then pat yourself on the back – you’re right!!!!

If you said the Bahamas, South America or any other warm place then….you’re wrong.  L  I was in Alaska!!!

I know all my hints sound like things in a warm climate, but they apply to Alaska as well, at least while I was there.  I mentioned the rainforest because until I was hiking through one, I never knew that Alaska has a rainforest!  And I mentioned sunshine because it is so rare along the Alaskan coast at this time of year – most days are at least overcast, and 300 of 365 of them are rainy!  This past week was so rare in the weather department that it was the talk of every port we were in…  Every.  Single.  One.

I won’t share all the fun details of the cruise but I will let you know that I kept a watchful eye for onboard crafters, participated in one onboard craft activity and visited local fabric/yarn stores in every port.

What did I find?

Onboard there were a handful of knitters and one needlepointer.  I chatted with each of the ladies and found that they, like me, were very content to relax onboard with their hobby of choice and anxious to check out the stores in port.  Since I spent a lot of time off the ship on excursions I didn’t sit and knit with my fellow passengers, but I was able to make 10 newborn hats that will be part of the donation my Stitch ‘N Bitch group is making to a local hospital.

There were two different onboard crafting activities, each offered 3 different times – water color painting and scrapbooking.  I did one of the water color classes and my sister did one of the scrapbooking classes.  More people participated in the water color class then the instructor expected, and many of them were men.  I don’t know why I was surprised to see men, but I was.  :-/

The instructor in the scrapbooking class didn’t make any mention about the number of participants so my sister guesses attendance was about what they expected.

Though I’m not a scrapbooker, I am a crafter, and my crafting self noted that in most souvenir shops scrapbooking supplies were on display!  The majority of the supplies were Alaska themed stickers, many packaged as groups of sticker sheets of varying sizes and images, and a select few also included blue or ocean themed sheets of paper.

When I went ashore I discovered that there must have been quilters and/or sewers on board too because the fabric/yarn shop in Skagway was humming with tourists, and at the time, we were the only ship in port.  While most customers were busy exploring the fabrics, I had the yarn area all to myself.  In Juneau there were 2 yarn shops and one fabric/cross stitch shop.  When I visited two of the three (one yarn shop was not open) I was the only customer in both, but I supported them.

True to my word in my pre-vacation post, I brought home a part of Alaska that will keep my crafting fingers busy and remind me of our 49th state every time I look at or wear my finished projects.

Do you support local craft shops when you’re out and about on vacation?  Do these purchases work like movies and instantly bring you back to the pictures and memories of your trip (even if they are permanent residents of your stash)?

Until next time…keep being crafty

~~ Emmie ~~

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Vacation!!

I tried my very best to get a couple of posts written before I headed off on vacation, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  Between getting all my work commitments done, prepping for kitty care/house sitter and just getting myself packed, it’s been a couple of weeks of non-stop chaos.

The good news is that I’ve hit that pre-vacation point where I’ve decided that if I haven’t packed it or I haven’t done it then it’s just too bad.

While I am being waited on hand and foot I am planning to get a lot of writing done, including blog posts.  I’m bringing my netbook, not my laptop.  Since the netbook doesn’t have my work programs loaded…well…I can’t work even if I want to  😉

Where am I going?  Well, I’ll tell you when I get back.  If you’re also on vacation and see a gal crafting away, stop by and say “hi” – it might just be me!!!  I will let you know that I’m embarking on 11 days of new experiences…half of which will be doing nothing (a TOTALLY new experience) while the balance will be full of fresh air and awesome new adventures.

Lest you think I’ll be totally removed from the crafting world, one of my preparations was Googling craft shops in the places I’ll be.  Here’s hoping I find something totally new and wonderful to explore and share!

This brings me to a question for all of you.  When you go on vacation, does your crafting self stay at home or are  you constantly on the look-out for craft shops or people who are crafting in public?  And do you pack a project or two between your clothes?

My answers are yes and yes…but what about you?  I’ll be anxious to see what you have to say when I get back!

Until next time…keep being crafty

~~ Emmie ~~

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Going Overboard

Many friends say I have a major crafting flaw – I prefer to think of it as an obsession Somehow that seems less negative and more adventurous.

So, what is this obsession?

Because I love crafting and filling my house with my finished projects, I have a tendency to go a bit overboard with the size of some of them.  I don’t necessarily mean the finished size, but rather the amount of work and time involved in the project.

Here’s an example…and this time finished size DOES count!

My kitchen, dining area and family room are all one big room in my house.  The kitchen is easily separated from the other two areas thanks to a breakfast bar and linoleum flooring.  The dining area and family room areas have the same flooring (off-white carpet) but different color walls.  Even though the walls are different colors, the two areas still felt connected so I started looking for a rug to put under the table and chairs.

During the unsuccessful hunt my creative subconscious went into overdrive and when it was ready to burst, it kicked the project idea into my conscience.  Once I became aware of it, I jumped on the idea with all the excitement I could muster.

I’m going to MAKE the 8′ x 10′ rug!  I’ll locker hook it!

Yep…you can call me nuts if you’d like  😉

As creative as I am, I’m also very logical, two opposing traits that can make for some interesting crafting.  The good news is that once the logical part is over, the creative part is fun!  For this project, the logical me decided that I should make the rug in 12″ x 12″ squares then whip stitch them together at the end.  The project would then be small and portable!  Great idea, right?

If you’re good at math, you’ve already figured out that this great idea meant I needed to hook 80, yes, EIGHT ZERO, squares!   Fortunately the quantity didn’t deter me.  Instead I looked at it as a challenge, and one I would definitely win!

I designed a simple pattern that would be repeated on every square.

Two opposite triangles would be a variety of white/off-white fabrics and the other 2 triangles would have multi-colored stripes  To keep the variety and color factor high, no two stripes in the same square would use the same color…and no two squares would be identical.

I shopped at MCG’s website to buy 54″ x 60″ packages of 3.75 mesh canvas, and I became a regular visitor at my local Joann’s store, especially when their fabric was on sale.  I would cut my fabric into strips right away and use one strip to tie all of the same colors together.  As big as this project was, I did need to keep myself somewhat organized  🙂  At some point during this project, this is what my strip covered coffee table looked like.

Once I had 3 squares hooked and the 4th started, I laid them out just to get an idea of how the finished project would look.

I was pretty happy!!!

As I progressed along the way, I was able to complete one square in about 4 hours…if I was completely focused.  I took squares with me everywhere, including auto shop waiting rooms, airports, craft nights with friends, vacations and anywhere else I thought I’d have some time to fill.

I didn’t work on this rug every spare moment because there were other commitments, but finally, after about 15 months, my stack of 80 squares was complete!

Now came the truly fun part….putting it all together!

I backed my vehicle out of my 2-car garage, laid out a huge piece of plastic then spread out all the squares in a controlled chaos sort of way.

It took me about 3 hours to arrange them the way I wanted them, making sure that no two stripes of the same fabric or fabric color touched each other.  Since I had no intention of tying up my garage during the assembly process, I spent an additional hour or so labeling each square so I could put the rug together the way I wanted it.

As you can see, there were 8 rows…the top label is for square 1 of each row, underneath are 2 thru 10 for each row.  Using safety pins, I pinned one label to each square so when I started putting them together I would whip stitch square 1 of row 1 to square 2 of row 1, then square 2 of row 1 to square 3 of row 1, etc.  I left the tag attached to the 10th square of every row so I would be sure to put the rows together in the correct order too.  No need to mess up the rug at this late point!  😉

I whip stitched each row and stacked them in my dining area.  Here are 6 completed rows…and supervisor Scarpetto.

When all 8 rows were done I whip stitched the rows together in pairs, then the 4 pairs were whip stitched together into 2 sets of 4.  At this point I spread the plastic out in the garage again and laid down the 8 rows.  I used one full can of Scotch guard on each set of 4 rows in hopes that should the kitties gift the rug with a furball or two, or a guest decorate the rug with some red wine or spaghetti sauce, I’d be able to get the majority of the stain out.

After the two sections dried I whip stitched them together then spread out the rug.

Then frowned.

I didn’t like how the off-white triangles looked against the off-white rug.  The colored ones looked great because they really popped against the carpet, but the off-white ones were, well, icky!

I still had many fabric strips left so I decided to make a 3″ border for the outside of the rug.  I would hook it in strips and attach it to the sides in a log cabin quilt sort of way.

I cut the canvas to size and hooked the 4 border sides using just the colored fabrics.  The finished rug was rolled up and laying against the wall, but as I started each border side, I unrolled the rug to make sure I didn’t use a fabric color that would touch the same color edge of the square.

I was just a wee bit finicky, huh?  😉

Finally the day arrived that I was whip stitching the final border side in place!!!!

I couldn’t wait to finish it and spread out the final rug….which now had a finished size of 8-1/2′ x 10-1/2′.

Do you want to see it?

Really?

Okay…

Tah-dah!!!

And now with the pub-height table and chairs on top of it…and guard-kitty Scarpetto on top of the table.

To answer a couple of questions that I’m often asked…

Nope…I have never washed it (and don’t intend to), and yep, the rug has been “gifted” with lots of staining type presents, all of which I’ve been able to wash off with a wet cloth  🙂

So folks…I’ve shared my “going overboard” project…time to share yours!!!  What’s the biggest or most intricate project you’ve done?  The one that has people scratching their heads and thinking you’re a bit nuts?

Until next time…keep being crafty

~~ Emmie ~~

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Isaac

I had planned to write an off-topic post, to fill you in on my Ravellenics knitting project that ruled my life for a couple of weeks, but instead a force of nature has temporarily put it on a back burner.

And that force of nature can be summed up in one word….

Isaac.

My heart has been breaking for all of MCG Textiles’ fans that are in, or know someone who is in, Isaac’s path.

When I look around my home I see countless treasures that my friends and family painstakingly made for me, or that I made for myself.  First and foremost is protecting life, but if there is time, how does one decide what treasures are more important than others?  I absolutely positively do not know how I would decide, except to say that the ones made from my hands would be less important, as I could replace them, but those made from the loving hands of others would be first into my evacuation vehicle.

Am I naive?  Would I really grab the treasures of others?  I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I live in an earthquake zone and I have a “grab ‘n go” bag in case of evacuation.  on top of that bag is a list of times to grab if I have time.  It’s broken down my room and I update it every year.

Amazingly, after grabbing my kitties, my “grab n go” bag (food, important docs, first aid kit, change of clothes, personal care items, flashlight, water, etc), my laptop, my camera, family photos, a rug I locker hooked for my dining room and the paintings I have from my Mom, the rest of the items are more of a survival nature than an emotional nature.

Which is why I made the initial list and annually update it during a non-emotional time, and why I keep that list on the top of my “grab ‘n go” bag.  Should I ever need it, I need to be able to focus on the necessary rather than letting the heart rule.

All of that being said, if you my fellow crafters, were ever faced with an evacuation scenario, what would you grab?  Would you take any crafting supplies or projects that you completed?  Or would you focus on hand-made gifts from others? Would you be sure to pack survival supplies first or family photos?  Before you answer, think about a time limit of as little as a 1 hour before a mandatory evacuation that comes with minimal warning…then think about it with a 1 hour mandatory evacuation that follows a 3 hour warning.  Then think about what is really important to your survival, heart and soul.  And do this when the chance of an emergency evacuation is so remote that those around you laugh at the time and energy you are expending.

And remember that whatever you choose to pack will be all the history of your life that you bring into tomorrow…

Would you bring any craft supplies/projects….what would they be…who made them? And why would you choose them?  Let me know!

No matter your answer, please pray for all those who are in Isaac’s path…

Until next time…keep being crafty

~~ Emmie ~~

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