Miniaturise It.

Miniaturise It.

I finally found what, to me has been like the Holy Grail.

Seriously, I have actually been searching for these for about 2 years. Jewellery pendant frames. In fact, if you read my last post you’ll know about my recent quest on the road of life. Well, perhaps if I had found these 2 years ago, things might look a bit different. But everything happens for a reason and this is now, so here we go.

This also meant I have done something I’ve been promising and threatening for a long time. I finally got my original Skull in profile pattern converted to a digital file. 

Here’s how I did it:

First I took the original image I worked off to create my hand drawn pattern. He’s looking a bit scruffy, but no probs. I traced out the main sections, trying to simplify as much as poss. This took a couple of attempts but here’s what I got:

As I was planning to miniaturise these right down, I was experimenting to see what kind of detail I could get and also  what my cross stitcher software was going to pick up. But first I had to colour him in:

I just did this in, nothing fancy. Finally I converted this image into Cross Stitcher. This was the most time-consuming bit as even thought this is digitally coloured, the program seems quite sensitive so thinks some of these colours are purple or green or whatever. So a little bit of adjustment needed.

Even though I had a lot of fabrics in my stash, none was quite as fine as I needed to get down really small – like 1.5inch small. So for the time being to see how he worked up I used 28 count evenweave and 2 ply cotton in tent stitch. Here’s how he turned out:

I completed this over the past weekend, took me a couple days casual-ish stitching. He measures about 5cm across. Way too big for making into jewellery. But a really useful experiment – good to practice tent stitch (NOT as easy as it seems, not to get perfect every time at least, and NOT half cross stitch either). Also I feel so-so about him; colours are off (I find this is a drawback of using Cross Stitcher as the colours it ‘sees’ are really strange). shading etc. Too much detail, considering I need this to be half as big.

So, some lovely Newcastle linen in 40 count and Silk gauze in 48 count arrived today. I’ll see what I come up with over this week.


Look at that handsome gentleman.

Look at that handsome gentleman.

I have actually had this finished for quite a while.

But you see it’s not finished. Not to my slightly psychopathic standards of finish. I still have yet to complete all the very very many little black Xs that will provide the background for my eternal muse.

So there it is. Cast aside like so much else obsessed over and fallen-out-with craft. I think now with the nights drawing in the mood might strike me to fill some hours up with that. We’ll see.

Do you like it?

Taking shape

Taking shape


It’s THE most busy and stressful time of my life right now, hence the long gap, but fear not, my needle is not resting idle and turning rusty.

Cross stitch, same grey palette as my original skull pillow, it’s nice to get back to the lovely calming rhythm of little x’s. Although this is a smaller scale than my original, and you can see at the top of the pics my wonderful contraption gifted my my guru, which allows me to stitch in this dull Yorkshire winter without going blind. So I stitch two-handed using my fanny frame, and look through the integral magnifier which forms the front part of this anglepoise daylight lamp. It’s a marvel.

Rest your head here, my dear…

Rest your head here, my dear…

This was my first ‘serious’ embroidery project. Somewhere in the middle of doing my Emily Peacock ‘Hope’ anchor pillow, I realised I really wanted to, and could, make my own designs. Wow! And so set about looking around for a great image I could make into a pattern. My mum had given me a plastic bag FULL of cotton floss in all imaginable shades, so I wanted to make use of them.

Being that I am a bit obsessed with skulls and bones, it didn’t take me long to figure out what I wanted to make. When I found this, classic Grey’s Anatomy-style anatomical skull illustration, I lost my heart.

So, I bought some graph tracing paper and using the smallest grade they had – 18 count – I started tracing the picture in fine liner. I delved through my bag of floss to find all the different tones of grey, black and white, then, wanting all the different colours to be highly visible on the pattern, I used various shades of felt-tip to identify the different areas. I sorted my skeins and made myself a colour key. I was basically working on a ‘dark to light’ principle. This is what the pattern ended up looking like:

Here’s the thing: Looking back on this now, I am amazed the final thing reached completion without me going blind and/or making some huge mistake. I always intended on working a size up in my canvas, so that the pattern translated as slightly bigger in life, and the only reason for choosing to draw the pattern in 18 count was that to get the level of detail and subtlety in the piece it had to be quite fine. But I really made life hard for myself in my novice-ness working from something so small. I didn’t think to stick several pieces of graph paper together to make a bigger pattern. Plus, I had NO idea how the finished thing was going to look because not only did the pattern I drew have non-true-to-life colours (blue and yellow etc), so the actual original picture also had different coloured shading which I didn’t want to replicate. So all a big risk really, in terms of hours stitched with no assurance of success.

Whenever I get this pattern out, I feel really proud of myself, not least because I had never attempted this type of project before, and because some of the lines I drew are so crooked its a miracle, frankly, he didn’t end up with a bowler hat and a moustache.

So this was the final thing:

This took over a year to do. Measures 13″ x 13″. I picked it up, put it down, life happened etc. I wasn’t the hardcore 3-hours-a-night girl I am now *ahem*. Plus, regardless of how long the actual skull took, I then decided, having used 16 count WHITE aida, that I wanted the background to be black, and so spent as much time cross-stitching black background as main image.

Then, as usual, the beautiful-but-functional aesthetic had to come into play, so I hand stitched using back stitch black cotton to the front of it, with black cording edge, turned it inside out and stuffed it with wadding. My Mum was horrified after all this work that I hadn’t used a cushion pad to prevent the wadding from poking out, but I couldn’t be arsed. It took over a year already.

It’s pretty much my favourite thing I own, I think.