My Embroidery Toolkit (Such as it is…)

[Gah! Where have my pictures gone? In the meantime, feel free to click through to flickr, but I’m going to try to fix it. Fixed, I hope.]

& Stitches blog is running a little contest where people can write a post about their embroidery toolkits and get entered to win a pretty awesome prize. I think I’ll probably be too late uploading this – I cared less about the opportunity to win than about my opportunity to sleep after work this morning (still tired – why’d I have to wake up at all?) – but it’s an interesting enough idea that I’m going to post about my embroidery stuff anyway. Maybe I’ll get it done in time, maybe I won’t (the clock is tick tick ticking), but it’s all good either way!

&Stitches tool kit competition

One of my greatest irritations in life is just how very different I am at home from how I am at work. At work I’m a hyper-organized, oft-accused of being OCD neatnik and everything has a place and if it’s not in its place, I get fiercely, intensely, anger-inducingly annoyed. I work with someone who is a bit of a don’t-give-a-crap slob. There is a small mountain in the corner of our office where if he wants to store something, he stores in on top of everything else he’s already storing. It seems to grow every week. If he ever gets transferred, 90% of it will go in the recycling or the garbage, but he’s my boss, so I can’t do it so long as he’s in charge! He teases me that if I annoy him, he’ll turn half my channel locks (bits of plastic with notches sticking out one side) the opposite direction from the rest in the stack. (That WILL stop me in my tracks and make me stand around sorting them back out so that they’re all facing the same direction.) There is a running joke that I will punch in the throat whoever doesn’t return my department’s handheld computer TO MY DESK, INSIDE THE COMPARTMENT, TOP RIGHT CORNER before I ever have need of it again. I’ve been having a running “conversation” with one of my co-workers, via notes in red pen, about how her not having enough time to write me a note rather than leave a box of plants, dirt containing plants, ON MY DESK (DIRT!) is kind of bullshit because I don’t have time to clean dirt off my desk either, but I still did it anyway, because it’s courteous not to leave piles of dirt on people’s desk. I’ve framed coffee-spills people have left on my desk with cut out cardboard and put notes about modern art displays on it until the a-hole who did it finally had the sense to clean it up. (Seriously, who spills coffee on someone else’s desk and walks away?)

Anyway… I like knowing where things are. It makes everything easier. I get things done faster because I don’t have to go searching for anything. It’s just right there. In the top right corner of the upper compartment of my desk. For random example.

But when I’m at home… somehow all of that disappears. It’s like I walk out the door of the building and my boss’s general don’t-give-a-crap slobbishness descends on me like a heavy fog that just won’t lift. In theory, I have three drawers in a rolling cart devoted to embroidery supplies. Everything SHOULD be in there, but should and is are two very different things.

These are the three drawers:


In practise, they seem to contain Stuff I’m Not Currently Using And Have Probably Not Ever Used, though one should be the thread drawer, one the cloth and tools drawer, and the other the patterns drawer.

Assorted Embroidery Threads/Kits

This first drawer, the thread drawer, does in fact contain a fair bit of thread, mostly crewel wool, but it’s also got a project (Taliaferro pattern, with thread pack), a Wool and Hoop project pack containing thread, fabric, pattern, and probably needles. There are thread packs from Sublime Stitching. Under the heap of crewel wool is a bag containing some crewel wool I bought online, which turned out to have an odour and which I haven’t decided what to do about (in the photo above, it’s the green threads – super musty smelling). The Singer needles really belong with my general sewing stuff, since few of them are special needles for embroidery. The folded up bit of paper is an iron-on embroidery pattern for a table cloth I’d like to make, but probably never will. (I was looking for that, two months ago, and couldn’t find it! Why ever would I have thought to look in a drawer full of embroidery stuff, as clearly I did not!)

Assorted Embroidery Tools

The second drawer contains a pack of zippers which should be with my general sewing stuff. (Anyone need 24 zipper pulls with octopuses on them? Apparently I did!) My original pack of stuff from Sublime Stitching, still with the project inside (a tea towel, if I recall) and probably my iron-ons and I think the only thing I took out of the bag was the first bit of thread they sent out and my scissors, which move from place to place and are never where I want them to be. (They were on the floor in my bedroom, with a second pair of embroidery scissors, Fiscars ones, that my Grandma gave me when she saw something I was working on. You’ll see those somewhere below, along with all the stuff that’s “stored” in my bedroom.) There are iron-on patterns from Wool and Hoop, a pile of needles from Wool and Hoop (on loose cards in the middle of the photo), chenille needles (what? I don’t even know what you use those for), thread and needles and fabric for sashiko, as well as a quilted sashiko project my mom bought me in Hawaii. Gold thread. Scroll frame knobs for a scroll frame I don’t use. (I should put them in the box of scroll frames, which is downstairs. My sister does use them for cross-stitch projects, but we didn’t have enough knobs for two people to use the frames – we have multiple sets and various sizes – at the same time, so I bought them and then realized I despise scroll frames.) And tacks, which I use with my Evertite frames, which I do love. Also, a set of Needle ID cards, which are very useful if you’ve got loose needles and no idea what type of needle they are.

The third drawer actually does contain fabric:


A yard of rather nice linen, and some assorted bits and bobs of thread, which were sent to me by someone online.

So that’s all the stuff I don’t actually seem to use much. If at all. The rest of it is mixed in with in-progress projects, most of which aren’t currently being worked on, but which were stashed in four different places – the heap of crap on my floor of my bedroom, the heap of crap on my bedroom desk, a plastic bin in my sewing room, and the sewing table in my sewing room.

This is most of it:

Embroidery Projects/Tools

(Oh god, why didn’t I at least smooth the wrinkles out of the sheet on my bed before I took this photo?)

The only currently on-the-go project in that mess is a Super Secret Project, which is part of the only just announced Doctor Who Stitch-Along. I’m doing two different patterns for the project, and that’s all you’re going to see of it until… sometime in the future.

Doctor Who Stitch-along

Why yes, everything IS strategically placed so as to hide the relevant bits. Okay, pattern on the far left. Black with shiny threads was my first two practise runs with one of the patterns, including multiple attempts at one particular part of it. I’m not going to be using the shiny rayon thread, so the Essex linen is what I’m GOING to be stitching on. Underneath it is a gorgeous Hardwicke Manor hoop, which I so love working with. So smooth and nice to touch! The tic-tac container gets filled with the little bits of threads I trim off while I’m stitching, so they don’t migrate around the house on my clothing. I don’t tend to use a needle threader, but I had to when I was working with the rayon thread, so it’s attached to the fabric along with my needle.

I was slightly appalled by my fabric scissors sitting on top of the pile like that, which is exactly where it was in my bedroom when I gathered everything up. That’s just a snip-in-the-middle-of-a-project waiting to happen. Normally I use my little pink handled scissors from Sublime Stitching, but I couldn’t find them and had been using the fabric scissors instead. Now that I know where the pink ones are, I better swap them out. Those at least I keep in the sheathe when they’re not in use!

It’s not particularly visible, but in there is the Sewline chalk pencil I use to transfer patterns. (I do sometimes use a water-soluble pen, but I tend to default more often to the chalk pencil. I also sometimes use a very fine-tipped Micron pen for pattern transfer, but my current one is out of ink, so.) And oh, yes, the painter’s tape. This is not my usual solution for keeping fraying threads in check, but I’d used the window as a light box and all that tape was already on all four sides, so I just turned it over and sealed off the edges. Most of that will get trimmed away before it gets sewn into its final quilt, so I’m not too worried about it leaving residue. (Though maybe I’ll un-lazy myself soon and stitch a proper edge on that instead.)

There is so much more to show, but I wound up posting this so that I could squeak it into the & Stitches Show and Tell, and this is as far as I got! I think it is the most relevant bits, since it includes the thing I’m actually working on with the tools I’m actually using, everything else below this will be added after-the-fact.

Okay, more from my messy bedroom:

Tulip slip kit

This project is mostly finished, I just need to actually stitch the tulip stitch to the fabric. I’ve never used real metal thread, though, or done much appliqué and I’m scared! What if I ruin it? That bitty little stitch took AGES and was hard on my eyes! And it’s made with the most gorgeous of threads!

You’ll notice that I tend to keep everything (except scissors) for each project all clumped together. Each project has a needle woven through it somewhere (the needle for this is inside the pack of threads, woven through one of the plastic bags inside the main plastic bag). And everything has its own hoop – this one a cheapie plastic one.

Daisychain ABC sampler

This is my Nearly Done alphabet sampler. You’ll note the needle woven through the fabric, also the hoop underneath. This is another Hardwicke Manor hoop, but I think it’s a 4-in one. (The one with the Doctor Who stuff is 8-inch.) I was skimming other people’s posts earlier and noticed that some people put twill tape around the outside ring of the hoop, but I’ve always done the inside hoop. I don’t know why, it just seemed like the way to go when I did it, but nobody ever told me which to do, just that it should be done. Now I’m questioning my very existence! Or not, but I am curious if it matters which gets twill taped? Why the inside one or why the outside one? Does it actually matter?

The tulip slip project wasn’t shown with a zip bag, but everything gets stored in zip bags by the project, I just kept the bag out of the photo that time. (Everything’s back inside it now though!) They don’t photograph well, though, with all that light bouncing off of them.

The one project I have that’s not stored in a zip bag is this future-project, which has many, many specialty tools (needles, anyway…):

Crewel Twists project-to-be

This project is being stored in a box that contained pre-wrapped chocolates. It was the right size and had a see-through lid, which was convenient while I was collecting threads and wanted everything where I could see it so that I could order needles from place A, threads from places B and C, and the pre-printed fabric (silk!) and beads direct from Hazel Blomkamp, who is the author of that book. Which, if you’re at all interested in Jacobean patterns, or crewel embroidery, or adding beads to your embroidery projects… definitely check it out. Everything in that book is beyond gorgeous, though some of it feels very beyond me (I think of the stitches that make a lace-like fill). Hazel does everything with embroidery threads, rather than crewel wool, so if you don’t like working with wool, it could be a good fit for you. Even if you don’t like Jacobean design (which I do), I think it’s a gorgeous book to look through and there’s a lot to be absorbed, even if you don’t love the patterns themselves.

Anyway, I haven’t started this project yet because I don’t want to start it until I finish the ABC Sampler, so it’s just sitting around waiting, waiting, waiting. Anyway, I include this because… can you tell I really love Bohin needles? I started out with some of their needles for crewel embroidery and every time I’ve needed a different needle type since, I’ve gone on the hunt for a Bohin version of it. The Crewel Twists project will need several needle types (because it includes beading, etc), so I had to source four different needle types – I think the furthest flung ones came from Florida – but they’re such high quality needles that I don’t regret it at all. LOVE the Bohin needles. (In fact, all the needles threaded through all my projects are Bohin needles. Once I found them, I never went back to anything else. They just feel good in your fingers.)

I should skip these because they’re not tool-related at all, but they got gathered up in the Great Embroidery Tool Treasure Hunt of April 2013:

Canevas Folies Topiary kit
Future embroidery patterns?

A couple more future projects from my bedroom floor. On the left is a kit I recently picked up. It’s this very pretty, kind of intense looking little sampler using stitches I’ve never used before and some hand-dyed threads. On the right are two projects I never quite got around to – the Edward Gorey picture I wanted to stitch (someday, someday!) and a fandom pattern I was creating for a challenge that finished in January. If you don’t recognize it, that’s Maurice Moss from The IT Crowd, with a quote of his from one of the episodes. Love Moss! I never quite figured out how to integrate the words with the picture.

And finally, after all of that (and, oh, I forgot all my needlebooks, I used to have none and now I have three!), there’s just one more heap of crap to go through.

Assorted Embroidery Stuff

All of this was in a plastic bin in my sewing room, under various heaps of fabric, also unsorted, and some unfinished quilting projects. The Wool and Hoop stuff, top left, is actually a finished project – well, the project is long gone in the mail – and just the thread scraps left from that. I should really get rid of all of it (except for the threads – I might use them someday). Below that is a collection of threads I bought for a project I haven’t quite got around to yet, which comes from New Crewel: The Motif Collection by Katherine Shaughnessy. (Seriously! So many projects! I SWORE I wasn’t going to collected so many Works-in-progress with stitching as I’ve got with quilting!) All the stuff on the right belongs to the same project, a needlebook with birds on it that I’ve never finished. I was doing the class at Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘N Thread, but crapped out when I had problems with the second bird.

You can’t really see it, but the stitch is on one of my sets of Evertite frames, which are FANTASTIC. The yellow t-bar tool on top of the stitch is what you use to tighten the frame (and create the tension). There is a needle threaded through the project at the very bottom right corner of the stitch, but all the rest of the needles for the project are in some luscious, lovely wool felt inside the bag on the right.

I should really make a plan to finish all these projects, maybe work on consolidating some of these tools into just one place…

I think the big lesson here is that
1. I talk too much – what a ridiculously long entry!
1. I don’t really have a tool-kit, so much as a tool-dumping ground and a tool–or-three-for-every project

My god, how do I generate so many unfinished projects? How do I generate so many piles of crap? Why can’t I bring my super-organized work-self home with me? It’s ridiculous! Maybe I need to be on the clock to ‘waste’ time on organizing. Maybe I should charge myself $25 an hour to organize and donate the money to charity, so that the longer it takes to get things in order, the more it’ll cost me. (Of course, I’d need someone to make me be accountable…) Hmm, thoughts…


Finish: Hedgie Fabric Basket

Well, I talked last week about what I got in the Modern Scrappy Bits Swap on Flickr, so I guess it’s time I talked about what I sent away. I didn’t take pictures of everything that went into the package, but honestly the thing I made was far and away more interesting than the rest of it. (Fabric scraps, some embroidery stuff, and some crocheted bits and bobs.)

Hedgie Fabric Basket

Is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? The hedgehog pattern was created by Sonja Callaghan, and can be found at her website Artisania. I’ve made this one before (as a postcard) and I just love it ridiculously.

My swap partner had a lot of things made using Sonja’s patterns favourited on her Flickr and also a lot of hedgehog things, but strangely none of Sonja’s hedgehogs, so I thought it would be a great direction to go in for her. (The package hasn’t arrived yet, but she did comment enthusiastically on the one picture I put up on Flickr, so I’m glad to know she likes it!) She had requested a fabric basket, so I made use of Ayumi’s fabric basket tutorial, though obviously I didn’t do it patchwork style and I used the larger sizes recommended at the bottom of the post.

Hedgie Fabric Basket

I somehow managed to take no really good pictures of the hedgehog, but here’s the best I’ve got. The fabrics for Hedgie are both from Art Gallery fabrics – such beautifully soft fabric to work with! I had loosely planned to make a sky blue background (using some Kaffe Fassett crossweave fabric that I’d ordered), but I wound up using some Essex Linen instead, which I really like the look and feel of, but which holds a wrinkle like nobody’s business. I’m not sure why I didn’t, but I wish I’d done more quilting on this part of the basket, since it would have given it a bit more body so that it’d stand up a little stiffer, and maybe it’d have disguised some of the wrinkled bits, at least a bit.

Hedgie Fabric Basket - embroidery

Hedgie wasn’t any too big, so I added some button flowers to fill in some space, but somehow left a big gaping blank area beside that – it started to bother me when I took my first round of pictures, and so I had to add – after it was completely constructed and lined – the other embroidery flowers to fill in some of that empty space. It’s all super simple, straight stitches and lazy daisy leaves and French knots in the centres of the flowers. (One of them, alas, is falling apart – it was HARD doing a French knot when I couldn’t stab all the way through the fabric. I don’t recommend it.) Anyway, not a half-bad way to fill in some space, although I’d have loved to have done something more complicated, rather than something so simple. I really need to learn to think things through before finishing them and then going back to fix them afterwards!

Hedgie Fabric Basket (back view)

The back of the basket is more simple and plain, just a bit of a forest scene. I freehand drew out the fabric tree and then paper-pieced it, and after that, just kind of winged it as far as the rest of the trees went. I had loose plans to add a bird to the tree on the right, but couldn’t seem to figure out the scale, so I scrapped that idea. It is pretty plain and feels like it could use some colour, but I still like this side anyway. It’s sort of quiet and restrained. It’s all back-stitching and lazy daises (for the leaves, again), though this side was done using crewel wool rather than embroidery floss (which is what I used for the flowers).

Hopefully it’ll arrive soon and hopefully my recipient will love it!

Although I’d used some scrap fabrics for the hedgie basket, I didn’t feel like I’d used enough, so I also made a second fabric basket (same tutorial, smaller size), but I didn’t wind up sending it. It would have fit in the envelope, but it would have almost doubled the mailing price (WTF Canada Post, WTF), and I couldn’t swing it right then. Sigh. Anyway, here is that second basket, which right now is home to the cutting utensils on my sewing desk. Someday I may mail it away to someone, but I couldn’t say who or when or if at all. Maybe I’ll just decide to keep it.

Mini Scrappy Fabric Basket (back)

This one is just a plain scrappy basket, using colours that approximately matched the fabric I used on the base of the basket.

Mini Scrappy Fabric Basket (front)

I did quite a lot of quilting on this basket, and it stands up much better than the larger one. It probably helps that it is so small though too.

Mini Scrappy Fabric Basket

February Goals

Do you think it’ll be easier to accomplish my goals if I talk about them more often instead of just thinking them, and then promptly ignoring them? I guess we’ll see… I had a goal in late January to take on a challenge I’d stumbled over on someone’s blog to spend 20 minutes a day, for the month of February, crafting. And I thought, hey, what a great idea. I can find 20 minutes on any given day – just leave the dish-washing till tomorrow or put off my laundry by one more day or spend less time contemplating how to pluck my eyebrows into just the exact shape I want them, or… you know, whatever. So the very first day, February first, I had worked a night shift and I was tired and I knew I didn’t want to set up my sewing table (which is still in the quilting configuration, rather than the sewing a quilt configuration), so I got out an embroidery project I’ve been working at off and on for months. I think I spent an hour and a half stitching before crapping out and going to bed, but I was pretty self-impressed because hey, I’d done more than twenty minutes!

But then the next day rolled around and I’d worked another night shift and I was even more tired and I thought about it, getting out the stitching again or going to make a different sort of mess of my sewing room so that I could sew again, but instead I justified skipping the day – I’d spent 90 minutes stitching the day before, so really that was kind of like 4 days worth of 20 minutes. But then I skipped another day and another day and somehow now it’s been five days and I haven’t done any crafting. Ooops. So much for that goal.

Well, it was just a thought anyway, a nice thought, but just a thought. Here’s a real goal:

In February, I will baste, quilt, and bind the purple quilt in the following photo.

Posh Tot quilts

Two years ago my co-worker found out his wife was unexpectedly pregnant, and before they found out if they were having a boy or a girl, I thought I’d just make one quilt for each eventuality and then finish the one that was needed. As you can guess, they had a boy, so that blue quilt has been done for a while now (you can read about it here), but the purple quilt top has languished. Nobody I know has had a baby girl in the last two years, so I haven’t really had a reason to pull it out from the closet and sew it.

Anyway, now is the time, so I pulled it out of the closet on Tuesday and tried to shake out the wrinkles (it’s going to take a good bit of pressing…) so that I can get it finished up. I need to find the quilt backing: I’m pretty sure I’d bought fabric for the back at the same time, or at least I hope so since I’m not sure that colour is available any more. Oh, then again, I’m totally wrong: MadAboutPatchwork does have Mulberry in stock. And now that I think of it, I think it’s the purple in my OTHER Mendocino quilt that’s not being made any more. And then I need to decide how to quilt it – I’m leaning towards figuring out how to do something wave like or water-motiony. I’ll probably default of straight line quilting because I’m lazy and that’s easy but hopefully I’ll be able to figure out how to do something more organic and pretty than that. I think I need to find binding for it too – I think a bright pink would be assume, but maybe I’ll just go with more Mulberry or pull in that Daffodil yellow again, since there is so little of it in the quilt.

My other goal for February is to finish up my ABC Sampler.

Daisychain ABC Sampler in progress

There isn’t much to see in this photo, but my camera is downstairs so I can’t take a more up-to-date one. Anyway, I want to get this sampler done so that I can move on to my next embroidery project without getting all stressy about having WIPs in two different crafts. (I have enough quilting ones I definitely don’t need embroidery ones as well!) I think I only have 3 or 4 letters left to go and then it’ll be finished – just blocking and framing.

TTMT 85: Stitchy McStitcherson

In which I show off the last two quilt blocks I made for my Livejournal Birthday Blocks group, as well as two stitching projects I’m working on, an alphabet sampler and a tiny little tulip done in tent stitch.

All my Birthday Blocks blocks for 2012 can be seen here.

The Daisychain ABC Sampler came from Posie Rosy Little Things. (If you’re interested in making your own, you can buy the PDF, the preprinted fabric, and the Appleton Crewel wools to make a kit for yourself or any of the three that you need. The PDF has DMC conversions, if you’d rather stitch with embroidery floss.)

The Tulip kit can be purchased from Thistle Threads for a limited time (basically until they run out of kits, I think), though the pattern can be found for free at any time. A portion of the purchase price is donated to the MET Ratti Center, which is a textile museum (well, I don’t know if they have a museum proper, but they collect, study, and store textiles to preserve them and learn from them). The kit has the most lovely supplies – lovely 34-count linen and Au Ver a Soie’s Soie d’Alger silk threads – and you can buy a finishing kit to turn it into a tiny pillow or pincushion.

Finish: Needle-book with Crewel Embroidery Rainbow Mum

A couple of weeks ago I posted an in-progress shot of a bit of crewel embroidery I was working on. Here’s a wee photo to remember it by:

Crewel Embroidery flower

Well, I’ve finished it. And in a fit of creative energy, I didn’t just finish it: I turned it into something usable.

Needle-book with Crewel Embroidery Flower

I had started this with the intention of possibly giving it away in an exchange I’m participating in on Flickr (I was waiting for some zippers to come in the mail before making the thing my partner actually requested), in which case it was going to be a needle-book. Well, the zippers arrived and I didn’t mangle them whilst installing them into some pouches (I’d never used zippers before, and they were less horrible to work with than I’d imagined, except for that first bit of sewing up near the zipper pull, where even my zipper foot doesn’t get in very close to the zip), so I had this spare bit of embroidery and I had to decide if I was just going to hoop it and hang it or to go on with the needle-book idea. Obviously I went with the needle-book, largely because I can use one. I have random needles all over the place. There’s one (with a very long filament thread in it) tucked into a book on my bookshelf. There was one stabbed into the mattress near the foot of my bed (which I can’t find now! and it was an enormous needle!). There were three in the edge of my ironing board. And, well, I needed a single place to put all those loose needles that came from I don’t know where and always seem to end up in strange, strange places. A needle-book made sense.

Before I show the rest of the needle-book, though, I want to talk a little about the embroidery. The embroidery on the front is done using Appleton Crewel wool, but unlike typical crewelwork, has obviously not been worked on linen or cotton/linen twill. I used quilting cotton, which I stabilized with a layer of fairly heavy interfacing. (I don’t know what it was – just something I had laying around for no apparent reason, but which I probably bought for something I never quite got around to and then just forgot about.) I haven’t done a lot of crewel embroidery, but everything I’ve done prior to this was done on linen and my cotton/interfacing solution seemed to work out pretty similarly. It felt the same stitching and the wool thinned down at approximately the same speed it seems to when I work with linen. (One of the annoying things about crewel embroidery is how thin the yarn gets from pulling it through a heavy material like linen. Annoying because I always want to cut my yarn lengths longer but can’t because it’s just a waste of wool once it thins down too much to continue using.) I liked being able to use a more colourful and interesting background than typical linen (which, yes, comes in many colours, but is not the same), so it was a good experiment.

The pattern itself comes from Katherine Shaughnessy of Wool and Hoop fame. As far as I’m aware, this pattern isn’t in either of her books (I have The New Crewel: Exquisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery, but not New Crewel: The Motif Collection), but it is available for free at Makezine. If you open the PDF (linked at the bottom of the article) you’ll see I used the second version, but adapted it just a little for my own purposes.

Crewel Embroidery Mum

Obviously I changed the colour to rainbowify it, though I could only figure out a way to squeeze in six colours. I probably could have done seven, if I’d changed that central spider web a little, but it worked out all right because I didn’t have two worthwhile purples to use anyway (nothing in the zone of an indigo at all). And I changed that central spider-web anyway: I’d tried doing it with just a French knot in the centre, as in the original pattern, but it didn’t have enough impact, so I did several rounds in purple before starting in on the blue. The green and yellow got two rows of stitches (worked in my favourite, the split stitch) in a lot of places so that it would have more impact, and I added the second row of orange petals to fill it all in just a little. I didn’t draw them on, just winged it as I stitched, and they are… varying in quality as far as their roundness goes, but I like what they added to that circle of the rainbow.

For the needle-book itself, I didn’t follow a pattern. I looked at several on-line and thought about what I’d like in one, and figured out my own method. I don’t have a photograph, but it buttons closed on the back (with a red button that matches the one on the interior) since I didn’t want the clasp to interfere with the pattern on the front.

Needle-book Interior - Left side

The left-hand side has two pockets. The smaller red pocket was built specifically to hold a little packet of Needle ID cards from Access Commodities. The larger pocket has no specific intended use, but since I put in a button/loop to keep things in place, I think it’ll be a great place to keep small scissors, since they’ll be less likely to fall out and get lost.

The felt is actually bamboo felt, which I buy from TaDaa Studio Felt. I find it softer than regular felt, although I don’t know how it stands up in quality. It looks as good as typical wool felt, but I do have a square of really amazing Scottish wool felt that’s about twice as thick as the felt you normally find and is unbelievably lovely. (That’s intended for another needle-book project of mine, which you can see a little of here, but I’m stuck on that project – I keep having to pick out the second bird and I’m scared of ruining the linen if I mess it up again. I’m taking a break.)

Needle-book Interior - right Side

The right-hand side has just the one large pocket, which is where I plan to store booklets of needles. The pocket was constructed of some fabric scraps and an embroidered patch I’d bought from someone I used to know on-line. Jenny Henkelman used to have a shop on Etsy, once upon a time, where she sold necklaces made of buttons and some really cute patches she’d embroidered. It’s been years since she closed the shop and I never did find out if she’s selling elsewhere. Anyway: the robot is her work. I had recently found this patch (and a second one of a kid in a snowsuit) in a box that I’d packed up ages ago, and this seemed like an appropriate place to put it to use.

So that’s my needle-book. It’s probably a bit larger than standard, about 5.5-inches square, and was completed on 29 August 2012.

Now to collect all my spare needles and get them in there.

Talk to Me Tuesday (on a Wednesday) 81: Stuff, stuff, stuff

In which I show blocks I’ve received in the mail from my Birthday Blocks group on Livejournal, crochet from my mom, and embroidery from my Grandma. And also two pouches that I made for my Modern Scrappy Bits swap on Flickr, one from this pattern (The Elise Pouch at and one from this tutorial (the Wide-Zippered Pouch from, and a needle book, which features crewel embroidery using a Katherine Shaunessey pattern (which can be found via this article).

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: Crewel Embroidery flower

Crewel Embroidery flower by clumsy chord

Crewel Embroidery flower, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

I joined a swap on Flickr called Modern Scrappy Bits Swap, in which I am sending away a FQs worth of fabric scraps, plus a small handmade item, and will be getting the same back from someone else.

My partner requested something fairly different from what I’m working on here, but there are two things I need that I don’t have yet to make the thing she asked for. (The fabric part I’m good on, it’s a certain bit of… hardware I need.) The things I need are in the mail, but in the meantime, I’m paranoid that I won’t be able to finish it in time, so I’ve started work on this as a back-up, just-in-case project.

We’re meant to be making our small item out of scraps, and, well,… some of the crewel yarn is scrap! (It’s leftover from crewel embroidery kits that I’ve finished.) The rest of it comes from my smallish stash of Appleton crewel wool. I didn’t have the colours I needed to match my partners preferred colour scheme (and that wouldn’t have been scrappy at all anyway), so I did a bit of Flickr stalking and discovered that she’s got a fondness for round things and for rainbows. So… here’s a round rainbow. The pattern is by Katherine Shaughnessy and can be found here for free. I’ve just substituted my own colours. (I’ve also used quilting cotton for the background, with interfacing to add some stability. I don’t know how crewel embroidery would stand up on something as flimsy as quilting cotton, so I thought I’d better add an extra layer for it to sit on.)

Once I’m finished stitching it (lots of French knots to go, and a bit more orange split stitch, though I might add more to fill in a bit of the openness of those orange petals), I’ll be converting this into a needle book, with scrap fabrics finishing the book and some very lovely bamboo felt to hold needles. If I wind up sending away the project I really want to make for my partner, then I’ll probably keep this for myself. Possibly as wall art, but maybe even as a needle book. I don’t have one, but I do have needles floating all over the place attached to various different needle cards (the packets they came in) and magnetic holders and spare bits of card stock, and even woven into the fabric of my ironing board. (The ones in my ironing board are the ones I like best for stitching down quilt binding. It’s a convenient place to keep them because I always know where they are.) In any case, I do hope my partner will like this, if I wind up unable to do the other project.