Monday, 26 May 2014

iStitch2 - cross stitch design software

Inspired by the samplers and the sampler cards by the Riverdrift House company I bought sometime ago and the works of my favourite cross stitch designer Karen Brittan (known for her Nordic designs and often featured in Cross Stitch Gold magazine) I thought I should try my hand at designing my own cross stitch patterns for cards and samplers. For that reason after some thinking and searching on the internet, I treated myself to a professional licensed cross stitch design software - iStitch2 - authored by the embroidery guru Jane Greenoff. It's the newest version of iStitch, released in November 2013 and it's full of features. 

The packet with the software arrived at my place last Monday. I found it on the stairs after coming back from work and I got really excited so I had to try out straight away :) I have no designing experience whatsoever and this is my first cross stitch design software so I will be building up my designing skills from scratch. There's plenty to discover and learn about this cross stitch program.

These are the features iStitch 2 offers:

It has also got all shade cards from all the leading stranded cotton producers to meet your stitching preferences. For the past few days I've been clicking and unclicking to make my first small designs :) It's great fun!
My first random cross stitch doodles look like this: just a collection of odd mini cross stitch designs. I have had a go at making tiny beach huts and attempted to create a folky reindeer that could be stitched on a Christmas card as a central motif.

Then I abandoned my doodling and started creating all sorts of borders and patterns for samplers. Lots of them to include the Scandinavian features. Cute, little and simple to stitch - this is my guideline.
The first half of the sampler strip looks like this:
(All the motifs below are 100% mine without any sort of influence.)

The second part of the design looks like this:
The ladybirds and the flowers right above them have been borrowed from the iStitch 2 motif library :) On the  right side you can see my "doodle" before I put a design into a sampler line :)

I'm really enjoying creating my own designs and altering those from the stitch library. I'm planning a set of my own sampler cards for Christmas! Fingers crossed there will be enough time not only to design but also to stitch them! 

Hope all of you are enjoying this nice long bank holiday weekend. Over here in North Wales the weather has been spoiling us today! I'm on my half term break so also hoping for some craftiness! 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Crochet and Knitting Books

Buying books can be addictive but buying craft books is simply irresistible! Due to the space limitations at home I tend to buy ebooks for my kindle but craft books I always like in a real paper format as nothing beats proper photography and patterns and template are easier to copy and print. For the past two weeks my 4 ordered books from Amazon have been arriving. Now all in my crafty library. Do I have a book problem? Probably, but I don't think I really wanto to tackle it :)  I ordered 2 crochet and 2 knitting books. 

The two crochet books I already knew from a local library so I knew what sort of projects I can expect from them.  I've kept an eye on them for a while and finally got round to purchase them for myself.

Simply Knitting is my second Erika Knight's book. I've already had Crochet Workshop book and these two are like twin sisters - very much alike in style, photography, choice of yarn.

Knit your own boyfriend is a really funny little quirky book riddled with funny comments and wordplay revolving around knitting. It reminds me a bit of Knitted Dolls by Arne and Carlos - you knit a star naked doll in flesh colours and then you make clothes for him/her. I think a little knitted boyfriend for your handbag can be quite cute :)

Love ... Crochet - This book is full of various crochet projects like cushions, hats, brooches, tea pot cozies and pieces of garment. The books to be had by all crocheter, I believe.

A similar kind of collection of sweet lovely projects is in Cute and easy crochet. Perfect for ladies who love making accessories for their home and wardrobe. Each of these crochet books includes some crochet theory and explanation on basic crochet techniques. I must say I really adore this rich floral tea pot cozy and the jam jar covers is something I've always wanted to make :)

At Tesco I also found this issue of Simply Crochet. I'm not a regular buyer of crochet magazines but every so often something will catch my eye. This issue features lots of lovely red-and-white projects I'm in love with. 

Aren't these reds adorable?

I just love that mat with a super cute pocket for cutlery - gorgeous!

And how about those pretty stars fitted into hexagons? Although the colours proposed in the magazine are not my favourite colour mix, I do see these pretty stars in reds, whites and greys in a form of a lacey Scandinavian throw :) Another one to go on my never ending to-do list.

Folky stripey blankets - the hottest trend in the crochet world - they are a perfect alternative to granny squares. I really have to try and make one in my life :) I get to see lots of these on crafty blogs.

There are many more projects in the current issue of SC but I found these crocheted strawberries the cutest of all! These are so adorable! I must make some and I'm currently working through the pattern. It's the Wimbledon season coming soon and together with the tennis matches come the punnets of strawberries splashed with cream. Yummy! I'm already craving them!

The next week I will be trying to combine two things - crafting after hours and some study for the driving exam. The date has been set now (June) and I'm going to work really hard. Let's hope there will be some times to craft and blog as I can't go without these! 
Hope you all have a good weekend. It's amazingly hot over here in the UK. Real summer weather!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Spring Sampler (3) and some cross stitch goodies :)

Monday 5th of May - bank holiday here, in the UK. Aaaah! So nice to have one extra day off which I'm going to spend mostly tiding up but hopefully will find some time in the evening to do some crafting. Currently I'm working on my Spring Sampler from Riverdrift House. I haven't shown my progress on this piece of cross stitch for a while so here it is! Half way done. I think the colours are emerging very nicely on the fabric. Now I can see that aida is getting a bit grubby now and it looks like a gentle wash will be needed when all has been stitched. The cotton thread inlcuded in this kit is Anchor. I never use Anchor threads, so I hope the colours won't run in the wash. Does anybody use Anchor threads and has ever had any problems of this sort? Please let me know. 

I just love stitching samplers - they are always a nice collection of various little "characters", motifs and decorative frames so you just don't get bored stitching them. I am much better with small cross stitch projects rather than the big ones - I get bored quickly and lose my will to keep on stitching. I need frequent changes and vibrant colours to keep me going. I tend to put a project away and then it is very likely to turn into a so-called long-term UFO - an UnFinished Object. I usually come back to it after a while :)

This design comes from Riverdrift House - a UK-based company that designs many other lovely samplers. Amanda, the owner of Riverdrift House promised me (and others too, I suppose) to design the remaining three seasons in a similar style - SUMMER, SPRING and WINTER. I did ask her to include some nice wording in them. I'm really looking forward to seeing them. Actually the Summer Sampler is on sale now and I shall be buying it soon! :))) Check her blog and the Facebook page for more sampler updates and you can post a photo of your progress too! 

Speaking of the Riverdrift House designs, I have done quite a big crafty shopping recently so have a peek at what treasures I've got! :)))) They arrived very quickly just before Easter. Blissss! I purchased 4 card making sets and a set with a frame. All cross stitch motifs. I really love those mini-samplers for cards. Perfect for me!

Here are the sets I ordered:
The royal themed card set. Full of regal symbols, red, white, blue and gold for splendor. Perfect for the British people who are royalists or for someone who is fascinated by the Britishness and the Royals :)

The Love set: this one is super sweet. I love the wording, I love the font and I love the choice of colours. The cards can be given both as Valentines or as birthday ones. Really looking forward to stitching those!

The Christmas kit no.1 I love this combination of white, red and blue with some beige. The motifs have some sort of a folky twist to them, which is what I just love. Another one to look forward to!

Christmas card kit no.2 - this one is my favourite in the entire collection. My regular blog readers will know that I love all things Scandinavian and anything with Norwegian stars, reindeer, Nordic folky hearts, christmas trees and snowflakes captures my heart straight away. I can't wait to lay my hands on this set! :)

The last set of cards to stitch is the Spring / Easter set: fresh, cheery, full of daffodils, hyacinths, bunnies, and spring branches. Easter may be over now but still there are some spring cards to be stitched :) I think I'll start with this kit first very soon. I live in North Wales where a daffodil is a national symbol so this card kit just blends nicely with the overall Welsh theme :)

And the last but not least is this gorgeous white Scandi-looking heart frame with a Home Sweet Home design in it. So pretty! So keen on this one. Not sure when I'm gonna stitch this one as with such a choice I really find it difficult to decide myself! 

Well, anyway with some new cross stitch kits in my cupboard, I'd better get a move on with my Spring sampler. I've already been looking on the web to find a nice frame for it. What colour would you suggest? I have had a white one on my mind.

Linking up to Hand-made Monday tonight - the blog hop no.166! Do join in :) There is also a newly created facebook group under the same name as the blog: Handmade Harbour where you can meet other crafters and chat about your blog and crafts. Check us out too!