Embroidery in Iceland – 4


One of the many pleasures of Iceland is seeing old embroidered pieces displayed in homes, farmhouses, and hotels. Here are two works that I saw last month at Hótel Fljótshlíð on the Smáratún farm in South Iceland. I wanted to know who had stitched them, but the young, immigrant staff had no clue.

This rose was tucked behind an antique sewing machine in the reception area. Not sure how old the embroidery is but the colors seem to have held up very well.

This bird was perched in the small room at the side entrance/exit to the rooms.


Dear Jane Rine

A friend tempted me into starting this design. Dear Jane is a gigantic quilt that was converted into a cross stitch design (stitch size 695 x 695) several years ago. The large blocks didn’t appeal to me, so I had stayed away. Recently, smaller versions were published on a Facebook group and blog by a stitcher in the Netherlands. Dear Jane Rine is 295 x 295; Mini Dear Jane 185 x 185; and Micro Dear Jane is 121 x 121. I am stitching the first one in this list. Gloriana’s Peacock floss, which was sitting in my stash unused for several years because I didn’t know what to do with it, seemed perfect for this piece.

But finding a neutral color for the square blocks was a struggle. I tried four shades of Zebra Dove and one of Zinc (the greenish one at the bottom).


My friend suggested I try a brown or gold that resonates with the gold in the Peacock. Umbrage, Quernstones, Haywains, and Oil of Amber were the next set of candidates:

The winner was Oil of Amber: 

This is where I am as of today: 

Pattern: Dear Jane Rine
Designer: Rine Oddens (Dear Rine)
Fabric: Portuguese linen (40ct)
Threads: Gloriana silk: Peacock; HDF Silk Oil of Amber 4115
Started: September 7, 2017

Traveling WIPs – 10

I chose this little blackwork project for my recent trip to Iceland. I had a lot of fun showing Ringmus some of the beautiful sights of Iceland 🙂 Of course, some of them he could not see because I had not given him eyes yet! At Mælifellssandur in South Iceland:

At Skessugarður (the Rampart of the Giantess) in Northeast Iceland:

At Gjástykki, the beautiful lava fields in North Iceland:

And finally, the poor bird got to see some lush colors and streams instead of desert and barren rocks. At Flateyjardalur, the deserted but incredibly beautiful valley in North Iceland:

Pattern: Ringmus
Designer: Miriam (Borduurblog)
Fabric: 26-ct cotton/linen
Threads: HDF silk – Blackboard (premium)
Started: September 15, 2017
Finished: September 25, 2017




For my trip to Iceland this time, I decided to take very small projects. So small that the fabric would fit into my hands without falling over my lap, and that I could finish during the trip. This bird was one of them. I wanted to try my hand at blackwork, which was another reason I chose this pattern. I really enjoyed stitching this and plan to venture into larger blackwork pieces soon.

According to Wikipedia, the ringmus ( Passer montanus ) is a songbird from the sparrows and snowmongers ( Passeridae ) family.

Pattern: Ringmus
Designer: Miriam (Borduurblog)
Fabric: 26-ct cotton/linen
Threads: HDF silk – Blackboard (premium)
Started: September 15, 2017
Finished: September 25, 2017



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After two years of sluggish stitching, I finally have a respectable finish! This design was an absolute pleasure to stitch. It is rare for a cross-stitch design to be both aesthetically pleasing AND fun to stitch. So many of them suck you in because they look gorgeous but once you start stitching, the attraction wears off and you have to plod on to the finish line. Others look like I would enjoy stitching them but the overall look of the piece is too simplistic or childish. Kathy Barrick’s designs achieve a lovely balance between beauty and fun.

There is enough movement and flow to the design, enough colors to keep you interested and challenged but never so much that you get fed up and wonder why you wanted to stitch the darn piece in the first place.

And I just love the whimsical charm of her patterns.

I was aiming for a brighter look than the stitched model on the pattern. I also replaced the brown flowers in the original with a variegated pale white-ish thread. Lastly, I replace the fictitious 1824 with the birth year of my beloved brother-in-law who passed away last year.

Pattern: Enchanted (Carriage House Samplings)
Designer: Kathy Barrick
Fabric: 36-ct HDF linen Zymurgy
Threads: HDF silks – BeSeeded (deer), Examplar Lark’s Tongue and Light French Artichoke (flowers), Ochre 4409 (leaves), Oil of Amber 4111 (hooves and tail)
Started: September 16, 2016
Finished: September 2, 2017

Petits Alphabets


I had started this small piece several years ago as a travel project. It’s interesting how a simple, cute pattern can quickly become pesky and tiresome once you start stitching it. The little house was easy of course, but the alphabets were the reason this piece languished for so many years. Each one had to be started and finished separately because I am loath to carry thread over for more than 2-3 stitches. So after a while, I gave up stitching it on planes because it was so tedious. I finally finished it this week. On my couch at home.

The fabric is a scrap of Dauphin. I had stumbled upon a thick stack of Dauphin fabric scraps at Vikki’s factory; they were discards from Bob’s dyeing experiments and they weren’t going to sell them. Needless to say, I saved them from the trash bin for exactly this purpose – to stitch smalls.

Pattern: Petits Alphabets (free at PCB Dijon)
Designer: Sylvaine Lenoir
Fabric: 40ct Dauphin (scrap)
Threads: HDF pre-dyed silk
Started: March 25, 2013
Finished July 20, 2017


Randje Per Week – Weeks 18 to 54



This was a year-long stitch along started by two Dutch ladies in 2014. Two bands were released each week for a total of 106 bands (the first installment had four bands). I made it up to band 52, then gave up working on it for some reason. Maybe I got fed up of the deceptive nature of the bands. Because of the repetitive motif, you are lulled into believing it’s a quick and easy stitch.

After a long hiatus, however, my mind kept going back to it, so this weekend, I worked on it again. I finished bands 53 and 54. I plan to do a little bit each week and finish it this year.

Pattern: Randje Per Week (free pattern; now on sale)
Designer: Simone & Annalies of Soed Idee
Fabric: HDF 36×40 uneven linen in reddish brown
Threads: HDF Blue Pink (a “failed” color), Yonder Blue 2215
Started: January 9, 2014

Jane Longstreth Update



I have been rather sluggish with my stitching over the last year. Though I kept working on Jane, my heart was not in it and I just could not sit still long enough to focus. Moreover, it all seemed so pointless because each cross stitch project takes forever and all of my stuff and stash would become rubbish after I die anyway. Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten to enjoy the process – to lose oneself in simply creating something beautiful with color and design, and fabric and thread, without fretting about finishing and usefulness and tangible value – all those dreadful inhibitors of the artistic impulse.

Fortunately, my enthusiasm was renewed over the last two weeks when a friend took me to Stitches West – a yarn trade show held at a nearby convention center. Granted it had almost nothing to do with cross stitch but it felt very good to be among crafters and see all that fibre and color around me. And I discovered a Pat Carson’s needles, which are made by an elderly man in Japan. I like to think of them as magic needles because once I had them in my hand, I didn’t feel like putting my stitching down. Just like old times!

Some of the motifs in the Jane Longstreth are over one. The prospect of using regular thread over one was daunting but it was not as bad as I had expected. The leaves are outlined with stem stitch and supposed to be filled in with stem stitch too but I didn’t like the look (the leaf on the right).

So I stitched them with the Cretan stitch using the excellent instructions here and here. I am going to try doing the rest of them without the stem-stitch outline.

Here is where I stand on the sampler. Not significant progress since the last photo but I am happy to be just enjoying stitching again.

Pattern: The Jane Longstreth Sampler
Designer: Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College
Fabric: 38-ct Nacre by Gander
Threads: HDF silks
Started: August 21, 2015

Embroidery in Iceland – 3


We have been visiting Iceland almost every year since 2006. One of my great delights during these trips is seeing embroidered pieces given pride of place in homes, farmhouses and hotels. This is particularly observed in the countryside and smaller towns. In the summer of 2012 we stayed at Ytra-Áland, a very remote farmhouse in north-east Iceland. They had a very old traditional piece hanging on the wall by the entrance.



Colors in these old Icelandic works were muted and subtle because the threads were dyed using natural ingredients instead of chemical dyes.


It’s not a cross stitch. Not sure what the stitch is called but it appears to be a simple vertical stitch. I love the movement and flow in this design!


The fabric is a gorgeous shade of brown, probably locally made and dyed. I have not seen it sold in any of the needlework stores I visited in Iceland, so I am guessing it is no longer made.


This charming piece was hanging in one of the inside hallways. It is also stitched in the vertical straight stitch of varying length. ytra5-frameshop_1

I am looking forward to going back there some day and admiring these beautiful works at close quarters again.




Jane was becoming a bit of a bore, so I decided to have some fun on the side with Kathy. Before anyone gets any wild ideas, here is my little extracurricular activity – Kathy Barrick’s Enchanted. I just love the simple joyfulness of this design and it’s a nice change from a sampler.

It didn’t take too long to select the fabric and colors. I wanted the fabric to be mottled; and I wanted to retain the original interplay of colors but make them more saturated. The only challenge was the golden leaves/flowers – I need something that won’t get lost in the fabric but not so dark that it competes with the deer. Contenders are Haywains, Kodiak Bear, Rum Scullion, and Ochre. As I write this, I am wondering why I didn’t consider Cerveza.

I started in the middle because I was afraid the piece wouldn’t be centered properly if I started on the upper left corner as usual.


Pattern: Enchanted
Designer: Kathy Barrick
Fabric: 36-ct HDF linen Zymurgy
Threads: HDF silks – BeSeeded; others TBD
Started: September 16, 2016