Sunday, September 1, 2019

Japanese Stitch-a-Long, part 2

Hi everyone! I'm writing this in advance as when this post publishes I should have arrived in Tokyo. It's been a busy three weeks since our last check-in, but I've managed to fit in a lot of stitching -- probably in avoidance of many things I *should* have been doing! (True story: I never lived in a tidier apartment or was in better shape than when I was in graduate school. When I felt overwhelmed or underinspired, I left the library and worked out at the gym or tidied my apartment...)

Anyway, last check-in I had just started my first- ever sashiko kit:

And, well, I finished it:

Now, there isn't *that* much stitching in a sashiko project -- at least in this one. But it was still really satisfying to complete it. And, yes, I've packed an extra bag so I can load up on Japanese craft supplies...

I am really fond of the way the sakura look when stitched:

And how just a few lines evoke a snow-capped Mount Fuji (which I'll be climbing soon!).

The pattern of interlocking circles at the bottom was the only traditional sashiko design in this piece, and is the only part I stitched in the traditional way -- 4 long interweaving rows of stitches stretching from one edge of the fabric to the other.

A peek at the back of the piece reveals how "non-traditional" much of my stitching was -- traditionally, the back of the piece should look nearly identical to the front. Well, sorta...

But all in all I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and it will soon grace the small table in my living room.

So, what's next?

I know that at least a few of us in this stitch-a-long are fond of "rescue projects" -- we lurk in the "crafts and hobbies" area of our local thrift shops, collecting abandoned projects and kits. My butterfly kit I made for my mom last year was one such "rescue":

I adopted this orphan a while back, and rediscovered it while digging through my stash. An almost complete crewel embroidery kit titled "Oriental Winter":

That tiny little bit of pale salmon wool was the only wool in the package, but most of the stitching was done. Like a lot of stitchers, I have a box of a bunch of random wool and floss, so decided to use it to fill in the empty bits.

I must confess that I'm a tentative stitcher. I tend to be a rule follower -- this is why I buy kits and patterns rather than create my own art. So even just choosing some wool from my overflowing stash to fill in a few empty patches to complete this piece was surprisingly challenging and, after I had done it, really satisfying.

I worked at it for a few evenings, and then made the somewhat fateful decision to gamble that I had enough wool to stitch the outer border. Spoiler alert: I did not.

So close! However, I knew the color code and was able to find a seller on eBay who sent the wool quickly and I received it on Thursday. I filled in the last bit, and then did the last lines of stitching on the inside edge and outside edges of the outer border.

So that's another small finish, even if I just came in for the very last bit. Oh, by the way, the O.S. (original stitcher) had done a very nice job on the piece, and had finished the edges with tape from the store where I assume the kit was purchased. Sadly, this store doesn't exist anymore, but it must have been great:

When I get back from my trip I'll iron it and see if I can get the rust stain out of the backing -- even if I have no idea what I'll do with the piece now that it's stitched.

Since I'm on the topic of orphans, here's another kit I bought at my local Goodwill:

The kit was complete, unstitched, and in excellent condition inside, so pretty irresistible at $2.49 on the 50% off sale.

And then I opened out the aida, and saw this:

A full color print and grid lines... in lurid colors. The print was very accurate and aligned to the fabric.

And the bright colors -- not matching the colors of the floss, but easily identifiable -- probably makes it really easy to stitch without needing to use the chart...

But ... what would happen to all that printing after you stitched it? I mean, it's really vibrant printing. would it really fade? Before investing the time to stitch, I figured I should test that the ink would disappear in warm water. The verdict? Yes!

Though I've clearly been on an Asian-theme kick, this won't be my next project ... I don't think.

I have two in mind; one is a vintage project I'd like to make for Christmas: an old Edna Looney kit that will make a long, skinny Santa banner. It's felt and feathers and sequins -- very old fashioned, but fun and festive in a "holidazzle" way. It shouldn't take too long to stitch, but I don't feel like starting it quite yet. I'll pick it up in November to get in the holiday mood.

The other is another big kit purchased ... maybe the same summer as Swans? Or maybe some other time. But it's been moving around with me for years.

It's another Beth Russell kit of a William Morris design -- more acanthus leaves! It's big -- 17"x20" stitched. And there's a lot of wool:

I lay the canvas and wool (and different wool tidy bag -- this doesn't have handles and has a different pattern) out on an ottoman normally inhabited by one of my cats... unsurprisingly he jumped up to investigate almost immediately:

Why, yes, Bub *is* a helper!
How long have I had this kit? Not sure... but I can tell you that I bought it at the Liberty store in London (oh, that store!) for £79... which seemed like a lot of money at the time.

And the same kit is still offered by Beth Russell, now for £130.

I sorted the wool and put the canvas on a frame -- two things I find tedious -- so it will be ready for me to start when I am back from Japan.

In the meantime, check out what my fellow stitchers are working on. You're sure to be inspired to pick up a needle yourself when you see their wonderful range of projects.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Clare, Mary MargaretRenee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, and Sharon.

See you on September 22nd for our next check-in!


  1. Hi Sunny! Oh how many wonderful projects! You're fantastic! I've never worked on sashico,but I think it would be nice! And "Oriental Winter"?..It looks like a painting! Happy holidays and Happy Stitching!
    Kiss for Bub!!!!

  2. hello Sunny
    have a great Holiday, and we look forward to hearing all about it when you get home.
    Well done on those finishes, and can't wait to see you start on the new cushion cover.

  3. Wow! You've got a lot going on. Have a great trip to Tokyo :-) I love how simple the sashiko is and how effective a few stitches are. As I was reading I was thinking you'd need to wash the brightly coloured canvas once it's all stitched and then you'd tried it already :-) The Beth Russell kits are so expensive but you know they're worth every penny as they're so beautiful. You found the perfect cord to trims the swans. I hope you can do the same for the acanthus leaves.

  4. Oh goodness, what a fab selection of projects. I love your sashiko kit and how lovely to have done it just before your trip to Tokyo. Have a wonderful trip and happy crafty shopping! Jenny x

  5. You have so many wonderful choices there, and happy dances too, can't wait to see what comes home in your suitcase from Japan!!

  6. Wow. You've been busy! Your sashiko turned out beautifully even if it's not practically reversible. ;-) And how lucky were you to find someone selling exactly what you needed to finish that embroidery piece! Those acanthus leaves will keep you occupied for a while. In the meantime, have a safe and enjoyable trip!

  7. Thank you for showing us all of your embroideries! I enjoyed reading about them! I really hope you are having a great travel in Japan. I also hope you´ll chose to stitch on the Acanthus Leaves!

  8. Wow Sunny! Lots of great choices for you. I bought a rescue project at a thrift store too and hope to finish it some day. Have fun and post some pics of Mt. Fuji!

  9. Hi Sunny, lovely post! I'm quite taken with the sashiko and want to work on mine. I worked with crewel embroidery for years and I'm a huge Morris fan and in fact, think I have a pattern very similar in my stash. Must have a look. I'm faltering with the cross stitch one I'm trying to work on now. Anyway, enjoy and happy stitching.

  10. Wow, you have been busy :-) I love the William Morris kit

  11. I don't comment nearly enough but this last update (which im late on commenting) is full of surprises ! Well done on both finishes and really looking forward to seeing that cherry tree progress. I have to admit what I love most is that not all in the SAL just do cross stitch and those cushion embroideries are a treat to watch grow. I find them beautiful but I couldn't possibly make one out of fear of having a clumsy cat ruin it. Hope you have a nice time in Japan!

    1. Thanks Megan! I had been worried that our cats would decide to play with / scratch up one of the cushions, but so far they just like to sit next to them. Not bad for a year so far!