Saturday, 29 November 2014

Project Restart - help and advice please!

Hello all!

WARNING: V-E-R-Y  L-O-N-G post alert!

A few months ago I mentioned that I would be restarting one of my current WIPs when the time was right. Well, that time is now and the project is..... *drum roll please* .....Sherlock aka Scarlet Macaw Preening.

You may recall that I was not happy with the hand-dyed fabric and after 20 hours of stitching I was hating it more and more. The fabric had also obviously stretched during the dyeing process and was measuring 15ct making the project even bigger than I had anticipated and the thread coverage poorer! So I put dear old Sherlock away and started searching for an alternative fabric, regardless of expense.

I had a successful find at The Crafty Kitten. Dawn was SO helpful and obliging that I can't thank her enough! She sent sample pictures of how various fabrics would take the dyes and cut the piece of fabric to my specified size. So, thank you, thank you, thank you Dawn! You're a star!

As a reminder, here's Sherlock on the original fabric:

 16ct (15ct!) hand dyed Buttered Almond by Silkweaver Fabrics (boring, dull and hardly mottled)

And this is him alongside his new fabric:

32ct hand-dyed Autumn Woodland Belfast Linen by The Crafty Kitten (mottled and colourful)

The fabric pictured is the full size 30" x 40" so that's exactly how Sherlock will transfer to the finished piece (I'm not stitching the background). The blue is slightly more subtle than in the photo and the whole fabric has more of a khaki feel but even with colour adjusting the photograph this was the best match I could get. What do you think? In my mind there's just no comparison and I am absolutely over the moon with my replacement choice. It's definitely going to give the project that forest-type feeling I was looking for.


In order to get the colour I wanted there had to be not one but TWO HUGE compromises. Not only did I have to resort to evenweave to get the desired dye effect, but to linen too! Throughout my whole stitching life I have never ever stitched on anything but Aida! Ulp!

Although I'm definitely jumping out of the proverbial frying pan and into the raging fire I'll hopefully grow to love the linen and not feel too daunted or frustrated about this rather large and unique task I have set myself. At the moment I'm quite excited as I feel I'm giving Sherlock the background he deserves. And I also know that if I want a really good result I'm going to have to put in the effort of 700+ hours!

However, this is where I need your help and advice please.

The linen is very soft so I cannot get good tension on the millennium frame without the fear of stretching it. Nor does the weave lie fully straight (although it's not actually that far off). So, should I resort to using a large hoop to get even and straight tension? or perhaps Q-snaps? or just try to get the linen as straight as possible on a looser tension?

I'm not a fan of hoops or Q-snaps as I'm very frightened of damaging the stitches and/or fabric and worried about the mass of excess fabric picking up dirt.

If I do use the millennium frame will I be able to manipulate the linen to straighten the stitches as much as possible as I go along and/or once the whole piece is completed? I know with Aida adjusting the stitching is virtually impossible to correct, but as this linen is so soft, might it be possible? I just don't know!

I realize that stitching preferences are very personal but would appreciate any insight you can give me. I've already trawled through various Google searches but haven't really found any helpful answers. Can my virtual blogosphere friends help? I hope so!!!

I'm confused and really just don't know what to do.

In the words of The Beatles - Can you please, please help me, help me, help me...ooooh!!!

All the best and
Happy stitching :)
Rachel x


Merlynn said...

I've heard that you must stitch hoopless on the linen, only with your hands. You wash it a the hand, and because it has more resistance than coton, your work will stay beautiful ! I wish you good luck !!

Heather said...

Love love love that new fabric. I can't help with your dilemna unfortunately because I stitch in hand but I would try a looser tension. They also have a similar frame at michaels I saw for $15. I haven't used one so I can't vouch for it but it may be better than a hoop.

Tricia T said...

Hope you get some answers. I don't stitch on linen because it makes me break out, but it always makes gorgeous projects! Good luck! Tricia

Brita said...

There's no need to stitch hoopless on linen as long as it's good quality but you will have to be careful. It's better to use just a small hoop, not much wider than your hand, and move it often. Always, always take the hoop off when you finish your stitching session. If you are afraid of the linen slipping from your hoop it could help to wind some ribbon around the hoop first and put the fabric on top. I've never done this and I have never had a problem but then I have never used custom-dyed linen either. When I stitch on linen I use cashel which is also from Zweigart so I'm sure yours is the same high quality but might be softer due to the dye. It's fab for the project though. Perhaps you could start with a small section that's not too obvious and simply try which way works for you? I can't maintain an even tension without using a hoop (I hate Q-Snap!) but many others can so this might work for you, too.

Linda said...

Love your new fabric Rachel. It is much prettier than the first one. Sorry, I can't help you. I stitch in hand with only aida.


Mii Stitch said...

Simply love the new fabric, it will look absolutely stunning!!!
I only stitch with hoops on aida or evenweave. Never had troubles with my evenweave (which is from Zweigart). Never stitched on linen because I find the fabric too thin.
All I can advise is to wash your end before stitching and always remove your hoop when you've finished stitching for the day... Hope you'll find some answers!!
I can't wait to see your start it just look fabulous and colourful xoxo

Mii Stitch said...

Sorry meant HAND, not END!!! How embarrassing :)

Caitlin D said...

I love the new fabric! I'm not very experienced either on stitching anything but aida. I also only have a hoop. So when I stitched on evenweave I just found the smallest hoop and prayed. I did leave the hoop on, accidentally, for one day and it did turn out just fine. It took me a few extra minutes to get the wrinkles out, but that was all. Good luck!

Katie said...

First the new fabric is perfect! I'm an evenweave girl though I have stitched on linen. I use Q-Snaps cause I want my fabric TIGHT. I have used linen in my Q-Snaps but I remove it when I'm done using it. I put a piece of fleece between my snap and the fabric so it doesn't leave marks. Also I use a Huggie from a lady on Facebook that holds the extra fabric and keeps it from getting dirty. Is where I purchase mine. I would suggest trying out different methods and finding what works best for you. Good luck deciding and Good luck on that gorgeous piece!!

Pull the other thread said...

What a stunning piece and the fabric you choose it just amazing. I'm afraid I can't give you any advice on the Linen as I don't stitch on it. I hope that the suggestions from others have helped you out and that you will get lots of joy from this piece!

lizbirdk said...

I hoped you would get more replies from linen stitchers!
I stitch on 25ct Dublin linen and love it. I have used a small hoop, but I've finally got a Millennium frame and I've been using that! Linen is a very strong fibre/fabric so I wouldn't worry too much. If there is slight stretching I would expect it to correct itself when you wash the fabric. I found that the fabric distorts a bit where I pulled it to get it tight on a hoop - but it is just as easily nudged back into place. For that reason I would stick with the Millennium frame - only the top and bottom edges have threads out of place that way.
I also wondered if a gentle spray starch would reduce the stretchiness and increase your confidence - but try that out on a corner first.
Enjoy the linen experience!

Keebles said...

As a newbie linen stitcher, I have issues with the crookedness it seems to take on in hoops over time. I know a lot of stitchers prefer it, but my OCD clean brain wants nice neat straight holes to work with and linen just doesn't give me that. The project I'm working on linen gets re-evaluated every single I continue on or do I start it over. I'm kind of reaching that tipping point of going too far to start again, but I think I've pretty much decided to switch back to an evenweave. I used to swear by aida too but decided to start branching out. I tried lugana first, but found it too soft and a bit too hard to work with (especially after coming off of aida), but monaco was the "baby bear" of the bunch and it's just right...not to stiff, not too soft, easy to work with, nice coverage...absolutely perfect! I pretty much use it all the time now (except for this demon linen project). I wanted to do projects on linen like other stitchers, but I think I'm coming to the realization that all stitchers are different and what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another (which pretty much means ignore everything I just said and do what you feel is right!).