Remember Me


I had decided to participate in my first ever smalls exchange at Stitch-Con 2022. According to the guidelines, the stitched piece had to be no larger than 6″ W x 6″ H, and it had to be fully finished into some object. I chose this design to stitch and decided to worry about the finishing later. It is from this book by Blackbird Designs:

A Schoolgirl’s Work by Blackbird Designs, 2011 – Kansas City Star Books

If I had examined the chart more closely I might have realized that it has 58 Algerian eyelets and a LOT of lazy daisies! It would not have deterred me from stitching it but I would have been more mentally prepared.

HDF colors used: Basket outline – OMG Red 1151; Basket filling – Quince 1413/1409/OMG Red 1141, a mystery PB Mauve look-alike, and Haywains; Bird – Rubbed Grey Blue; Border and Letters – Primitive Barn Mauve; Leaves and stems – BeFrogged and 2 different variegated green matte silks

I do enjoy specialty stitches but after about 40 eyelets, it got really dreary and I could not wait to be done.

HDF colors used: Large flower – Quince 1413/1409/OMG Red 1141 for outline, and Gandy Dancer 1107 for filling. Eyelets – OMG Red 1152, PB Mauve lookalike, Quince 1413/1409/OMG Red 1141, Gandy Dancer 1107, and the mattes-silk yellow-green variegated.

The linen is a scrap of 30ct dyed with the Muffin Top dye mix that my friend Vikki had given me years ago when I visited their factory. I just love this color! I wanted it heavily mottled, so I dyed it in a very small jar – another trick taught by Vikki.

Heavily mottled linen using Muffin top dye mix.

I took lots of photos because I knew I would not have the piece with me if I wanted to see it again. Here are two more. I will post the fully finished object in the next post.

This is my first finish of 2022. We were in India for a few weeks in Jan-Feb, and I got Covid after we returned to Iceland. Though it was mostly mild, I felt very fatigued and did not feel like stitching for several weeks. The smalls exchange was a good motivator.

Pattern: Remember Me
Designer: Blackbird Designs
Fabric: 30-ct hand-dyed linen
Threads: HDF silks
Started: 23 February 2022
Finished: 30 April 2022

Giving Thanks



I wanted to stitch this lady the moment I saw her on the cover of an old magazine posted for sale in one of the stash unloading groups on Facebook. The design exuded an old-world ethos that I have been increasingly drawn to over the last several years. The original antique postcard from which it was inspired can be glimpsed the bottom of the frame.

The pattern is old-school in more ways than one, with its heavy use of fractional stitches and backstitching to bring contours and nuance to the design. The chart itself was very hard to read because of poor choice of symbols (for example, a blank blue square is used to symbolize half-stitches in taupe thread!) and colored squares in shades so close to each other that it was almost impossible to differentiate on paper. My workaround was to take a photo of the chart and upload it to Photos on my laptop so I could enlarge it. The edit feature in Photos allowed me to mark off the squares as I finished stitching them.

She demanded full attention and brooked no interference from flosstube videos while stitching. Despite the challenges, or because of them, this has been one of the most satisfying designs I have ever stitched. It is the closest I have come to making a drawing or painting, two areas where I am greatly inept. Here is a short video tracking my progress from start to finish.

The fabric was slightly uneven, so she is a little plumper in my finished design than in the model photo, but I am still very pleased with how she turned out. I skipped the lines of the wall that you see in the model photo because they are distracting. Morever, they seemed unnecessary on my mottled fabric. Here she is in the beautiful mellow winter light.

Pattern: Giving Thanks
Designer: Leisure Arts (Celebrations, Autumn 1990)
Fabric: 28ct hand-dyed canvas by Vikki Clayton
Threads: HDF silks
Started: 07 August 2021
Finished: 30 November 2021

Caroline Page 1832


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Caroline Page 1832 cover

I rarely participate in online stitching events but this year I felt like joining Sampler September, a month for celebrating samplers, both modern and antique reproductions. There was also a Caroline Page stitch-a-long started by Ellie (@thamespathstitcher on Instagram), who grew up in the same village as Caroline. I was drawn in by the elegant simplicity of this sampler and the charming village photos shared by Ellie, so I started her on September 1.

Work in progress

With so many others stitching this sampler, I needed to do something different to keep my interest alive because one does get worn out after seeing multiple photos of the same design on social media. The rustic striped linen from M. Gander seemed ideal.

I was worried my spool of red would run out before I finished!

The sampler was so addictive that I could not put it down. It was also a very relaxing and enjoyable stitch.

Caroline Page in the mellow autumn light of the Nordics.

This is probably the only design that I have started and finished within a month! Signing and dating the sampler took some thought because I did not want to interfere with the clean, uncluttered look of the original.

Caroline Page with my personalization.
I did not run out of floss!

Here is the finished piece. I want to do a hemstitch finish on the sides but I will need to practice it first with some scrap linen.

Pattern: Caroline Page 1832
Designer: Hands Across the Sea Samplers
Fabric: 28ct linen by M. Gander
Threads: Perfect Red 6211 (Premium) in HDF Silks
Started: 01 September 2021
Finished: 30 September 2021

Eliza Nisbet 1839


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Eliza Nisbet 1839 printed booklet

This is the second model I stitched for Hands Across the Sea Samplers. Eliza Nisbet represents a couple of firsts in the HATS line of designs: it is the first HATS sampler stitched with wool, and also the first one with home-dyed linen.

When Nicola showed me the antique and asked if I wanted to stitch it, my first instinct was to decline – it looked too simple and boring, only two colors, too many alphabets, and hardly any motifs. Fortunately, I changed my mind when I examined it more closely, and when Nicola asked if I would like to stitch it with wool, I quickly agreed. A simple sampler in wool sounded perfect for the dark and cold winter nights in Iceland. I tea-dyed the linen.

Tea-dyed linen and a swatch of the original before dyeing

I thoroughly enjoyed working on Eliza. I liked stitching with wool. Initially I missed the “swoosh” of silk floss as it passes through the fabric, but wool is rewarding in other ways. The stitches have an “oomph” that is very hard to get with silk or cotton.

Use a fatter needle and cut shorter lengths of threads when stitching with wool.

Because she was such an easy stitch, Eliza was also my travel project.

Eliza in our little guesthouse room when we traveled north

And here is the finished Eliza before she went off to Cornwall for framing, photographing, and publication. Samplers can be so deceptive. Left to my own devices, I would have bypassed Eliza’s sampler as “not my style”. Now I always look at a sampler much more closely before deciding whether I want to stitch it or not. Some beautiful samplers sweep you off your feet but can end up unfinished because once the infatuation fades, you don’t feel like putting in the work. And the simple ones turn out to the ones you don’t feel like putting down until finished.

Pattern: Eliza Nisbet 1839
Designer: Hands Across the Sea Samplers
Fabric: 24ct Rain Barrel by Legacy Linen (tea-dyed by me)
Threads: Fine d’Aubusson wool by Au Ver à Soie
Started: 02 November 2020
Finished: 17 April 2021

Mary Lock 1832


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This is the first model I stitched for Hands Across the Sea Samplers. When Nicola Parkman (one of the owners of HATS, along with Sandra Moffitt) sent a photo of the antique, it was love at first sight. I was really looking forward to the experience of stitching a model. I started the sampler in the summer of 2019.

My goal had been to finish it within a year, but 2020 started with the passing of my mother in India in January.

I flew to India to attend her last ceremonies and returned to Iceland in early February. Then the pandemic began. For several months, my needle just seemed to drag sluggishly while I stitched, and my head felt like it was inside a bubble. Here is where I was before I left for India – I was working my way up from the bottom panel of the sampler:

Eventually as the sampler started taking shape, my enthusiasm returned.

Contrary to my expectation, the satin stitches were quite enjoyable once I started using a hoop for them.

I struggled for long time about signing the sampler. I am not particularly fond of stitching my own name. But I did want to mark it somehow because it was my first model, and I also wanted to gift it to a special stitching friend. In the end, I settled on a bee motif to represent the HATS logo, and my initials at the end of its flight trail. It’s unobtrusive but it’s there.

It was a unique experience seeing the sampler reproduction come to life. Working with Nicola has also enriched my life. The sampler is full of memories of 2020.

Pattern: Mary Lock 1832
Designer: Hands Across the Sea Samplers
Fabric: 40ct Vintage Buttercream by Lakeside Linen
Threads: Soie d’Alger by Au Ver à Soie
Started: 19 May 2019
Finished: 20 July 2021

12-Months Squared

After finishing Berry Time, I wanted something simple and uncomplicated where I would not have to agonize over color choices. This sweet little design was the answer. I had bought this pattern on a stash sale page on FB. The cover model is stitched in GAST threads. I used my HDF sample tags, converting from the listed DMC. The designer seems to be no longer in business. I came across her blog, where the last entry was in 2014.

Colors: Snowman (B5200, Magpie Tears), Heart (Venus Mirror 1307, 1301), Clover (Popinjay 3301), Umbrella (Liquid Gold 4175, Nisse Grey 5331), Tulip (Sue Purple, Nosegay, Luteous Green), Birdhouse (Zebra Dove 5249, Nisse 5331, Nightsmoke 5311), Flag (White 5201, Phlox 1341, Magpie Tears 2351), Maple Leaf (Gold Rush), Give Thanks (Terra Cotta & Cerveza)

Pattern: 12-Months Squared
Designer: The Sunflower Seed (Anita)
Fabric: 40ct Dauphin, hand-dyed by Vikki Clayton
Threads: HDF silks
Started: 6 May 2021
Finished: 23 May 2021

It’s Berry Time


This pattern was on my to-do list for a very long time and I finally stitched it this year. I had planned to stitch it in one color from the HDF Rubbed series but I felt bored even before I started because it would look just like the cover. So I decided to simply pick colors as I went along. Many hours of pleasure and enjoyment were had as I dived through my boxes of variegated HDF. My only rule while choosing colors was that each design element would be a separate color.

After I stitched the entire alphabet, the right-side border and part of the third basket, I realized I had skipped the letter H. 10 stitches missed, which messed up the symmetry of the piece. There was absolutely no acceptable way to fudge this error, so I had to unstitch and correct the mistake.

Gross mistake!

Choosing colors was easy in the beginning as it was a blank canvas. It got more challenging as the design was filled in because each color had to be harmonious with others, yet stand out on its own.

Alphabet – Examplar Fried Pickles; Border – Redwork Red, Sea Wrack 3437/3439 w/s 5300; Basket – Kodiakery: Flowers – Rubbed Fuchsia, Rubbed UltraMaroon: Leaves – Wrasse 3317/Imperial Green 3329/Luteous Green 3257

The berries in the second basket were a set of eight cross stitched with an Algerian eyelet in the middle. Other simple stitches used here were lazy daisy for the leaves and backstitch for the berry stalks.

Basket – Examplar Wattle n Daub: Berries – Old Maid of the Venus; Leaves – Willow Withies 3227/Imperial Green 3337/Kail 3363: Star motifs – Rubbed Dark Gold; Bird – Zaffre Cobalt; Initials – Redwork Red

The roses in the last basket were the most difficult because I wanted them a deep pink-and-red with a hint of dark peach. I got the results I wanted by using two different variegated colors.

Basket – Kodiak Bear 5139/Quernstones 5169/Jackalope 5271: Flowers – Tugtika, mystery matte silk; Leaves – Rubbed Lime; Date – Redwork Red

Here is the full riot of colors. Click on the image to enlarge. I am happy with how it turned out. I may even get this finished into something I can display.

Multi-colored version

Pattern: It’s Berry Time
Designer: Blackbird Designs
Fabric: 28ct linen, Muffin Top, dyed by me
Threads: HDF silks
Started: 4 January 2021
Finished: 4 May 2021

Silent Night


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I started this design on Christmas Eve and finished it on January 6, the last day of Christmas in Iceland. It is the quietest time of the year here. We had very cold and stormy nights all through that week, and I enjoyed stitching this with the wind howling outside.

I chose the colors as I went along. I was filled with doubts while stitching the house because it was looking “block-ey”, but after I put in the roof and windows, it looked fine. All the colors are HDF mystery variegated colors from my stash, except the moon and the stars (Koi Gold light), the lights inside the house (Koi Gold dark), and the bricks in the chimney (Ex Lark’s Tongue lookalike). I omitted the initial between the tree and the house because it looked too crowded.

Pattern: Jenny Bean’s Christmas Ornament 2010
Designer: Shakespeare’s Peddler
Fabric: HDF 40ct Dauphin, mystery color
Threads: HDF silks
Started: December 24, 2020
Finished: January 6, 2021

A Small Finish



This was my “leap year” start. I had been stitching with AVAS silks on the HATS model for many months and was missing my HDF silks. So I started this project quickly and impulsively. The fabric was ready to go, no dyeing or hemming was needed. I selected the colors as I went along.

This is the first Blackbird Designs pattern I have ever stitched. It was a fun stitch and I can see why they are so popular.

HDF colors used:

Blackboard (Border, inside bands, Blackbird, initials); Primordial Ooze (tree), Primitive Barn Blue (stars); Primitive Barn Red (AGMSY); BeRedded (BHNTZ, date); Primitive Barn Rust (CIOU); BeFuddled (DJPV); BeMused (EKQW); Primitive Barn Mauve (FLRX).

Pattern: First Offering
Designer: Blackbird Designs
Fabric: HDF 40ct Dauphin, mystery color
Threads: HDF silks
Started: February 29, 2020
Finished: November 7, 2020

Jane Fiddes 1835



This is a Hands Across the Seas sampler I am stitching along with the Facebook group. The SAL started on July 1 this year and will continue for 12 months. I am stitching the 12 parts in the order suggested by the SAL leader. I like the discipline imposed by a stitch-along, although there is the risk that looking at hundreds of WIPs can wear out your enthusiasm for stitching the sampler.

I chose HDF’s 36/40 uneven linen because photos of the antique (see below) show it to be more square than the reproduction. I also liked the grayish color of the linen and tried to replicated it but my clumsy hand-dyeing yielded a more bluish grey than seen in the below photo.

I am choosing colors as I go along, using the called-for DMC as a starting point. I also changed the big honking letters in the second band because I don’t like how they look. Instead, I used the poem line that was on the booklet cover, which is a slight adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem.

Colors used thus far are:

Border: Rubbed Blue Green and Gandy Dancer 1111. Top Alphabets: Magpie Tears 2351, Gandy Dancer 1107, Pennywort 3449, Liquid Gold 4177, OMG Red 1149, Steelies 2455, Sea Wrack 3431, Mermaid Blue 2329. Wavy Band: BeRedded

Middle Band: Steelies 2455, OMG Red 1147, Sea Wrack 3431 Last band (Algerian Eyelets): OMG Red 1141, Imperial Green 3331, Mermaid Blue 2325, Winterberry 1423, Liquid Gold 4177, variegated Yellow Spice 4165/Imperial Green 3337/OMG Red 1145

Pattern: Jane Fiddes 1835
Designer: Hands Across the Seas Samplers (Nicola Parkman)
Fabric: HDF linen (36/40 uneven) overdyed by me
Threads: HDF silks
Started: July 8, 2020