Saturday, 28 May 2016

May Monster Madness Ball

Welcome to the Hallowe'en Ornie SAL Blog's contribution to the May Monster Madness Blog Party hosted this year by Little Gothic Horrors!

For our visitors from the other blogs, we are a group of Cross Stitching Hallowe'en fans who choose a different theme for our stitching each month and show our finished pieces.  For the completely uninitiated, cross stitching is a form of needlework where different coloured threads/flosses and fabric form a picture or pattern made up from tiny crosses on the fabric.

Hallowe'en is pretty big in the Cross Stitch World, not as big as the C event which takes place a few weeks later but still very popular.  The designs range from the cutesy cartoon to the primitive style.  Witches are probably the most popular design to stitch but you can see from our themes there are many other subjects which can be rendered in cross stitch.

Cross stitch is very simple to start, you need some fabric and some thread (or floss as it is called in the USA) and a needle.  On the chart there will be a selection of symbols on a grid.  Each symbol will relate to a different coloured thread.  For copyright reasons we are not allowed to show actual charts online but I have cropped a tiny section to illustrate the process:

You can see there are three different symbols and some straight lines.  You stitch all the symbols first (the large dots represent black thread and will form a witch's hat) and then stitch the straight lines (known as backstitch) on top of the stitches.  The grid lines are not stitched!

Most people start stitching using a fabric called aida which has large, easy to see blocks:

The number of blocks in each inch is referred to as "the count" with the standard size being "14 blocks to the inch" or "14 count".  Other popular sizes are 16 count and 18 count.

Many stitchers prefer evenweave fabrics for a variety of reasons, mostly to do with appearance.  The evenweaves are much finer and the blocks less obvious.  If there are areas left unstitched it can look more attractive than aida.  It is slightly more difficult to stitch on at first because there are more threads to the inch and you have to stitch "over two" threads so make sure you count carefully!  Here's a little diagram showing how to stitch on evenweave:

The standard count of evenweave is 28 count which is equivalent to 14 count in size.  Other popular counts are 32, 36 and 40.  40 count is very fine, there will be 20 stitches in every inch so they are much smaller than those on 28 count.   If you really like small then you can stitch "over one" on any count.  I myself love over one stitching on 28 count where you get 28 tiny stitches to every inch.  I have even stitched over one on 40 count.  Tiny stitching is adorable!

The final type of popular fabric is linen.  This is a natural fabric and has uneven fibres in it.  It looks great for primitive designs, for samplers or any design where you want a nice natural look.  The only thing I wouldn't use it for is a realistic face or person because there can be lumps or slubs and the last thing you want is a slub in the middle of your face!

All of the above fabrics are available in a huge range of colours and effects.  Over the last ten years the hand-dyed market has mushroomed and we have some amazing hand-dyers across the globe.

For threads/flosses there are two main brands - DMC is the market leader with Anchor being very popular too (and a bleeped-out word on DMC's Forums!!).   There are also the smaller thread producers of hand-dyed or variegated threads.  Gentle Arts, Weeks Dye Works, Nina's Threads, Crescent Colours etc etc.  But most charts will give the DMC reference numbers which you can convert yourself.  Embellishments such as metallic threads, beads, buttons and charms are also used to great effect.

Hope you found that interesting!  Now on to the finished stitching - 

First a selection of designs based on the most famous Monster of all - Frankenstein's Monster.  Now, as a warning, many designers actually call the Monster Frankie or Frankenstein instead of Monster.  Not my fault - that's the name of the design!

Frank in Stitches by Mosey 'n' Me
stitched by Loretta

Frank N Stein by Pickle Barrel Designs
stitched by Marcy

"Frank" by Trilogy
stitched by Rita

Frankenstein's Kitty and Bride by Carand88
stitched by Jo

From Behind The Gate by Blue Ribbon Designs
stitched by Gwen

Frank-N-Stein by Raise the Roof
stitched by Debbie

Freebie from Ravelry
stitched by Ana Cristina

Monster by Durene Jones
stitched by Carrie

And now some random Monsterous Creatures:

Monster Blue by Mosey 'n' Me
stitched by Theresa M

Trick or Treat by Prairie Moon
stitched by Lili 

My Monster by Cheryl A Smith
stitched by Cheryl

Pumpkin Man by Prairie Schooler
stitched by Noni

The final category I've chosen is my personal favourite - The Vampire!  I have always loved vampire stories and films from Anne Rice to The Lost Boys and the weird David Bowie one.  So here's a round-up of some of our stitched vampires:

Drac-in-a-Box by Acorn House Designs
stitched by Jo
(cross stitch can be 3D too!)

Count Dracula by The Floss Box
stitched by Lili

Smiley Face Dracula by Stoney Creek Designs
stitched by Debbie

Behind the Gate by Blue Ribbon Designs
stitched by Cathi

Fang by Dragon Dreams
stitched by Jo

Heads Up by Prairie Schooler
stitched by April

Vampires Suck by Kell Smurthwaite
stitched by Theresa M

And where do all these delightful creatures live?  Where else but Hallowe'en Town!

Hallowe'en Town by Frosted Pumpkins Stitchery
stitched by Chiara

To wind up our party I would like to thank you all for attending, I hope you learned something about cross stitching and enjoyed the various pieces we have made over the last couple of years.  If you are inspired to start stitching yourself, please leave a comment and ask any questions you like.  I'll do my best to answer them.

I leave you in the capable arms/wings of Belinda the Italian Vampire!

Belinda by Brooke's Books
stitched by Jo

Friday, 27 May 2016

The May Spiders!

Hi there blog friends!  Here is my May Spider.  It is from Prairie Schooler Book No. 165 "Sweeping Cobwebs". I can't wait to get this one finished.  I found this wonderful fabric in my stash!  It will be the perfect thing to finish this design.   I bought that spider charm several years ago.  I'm not quite sure but I will most likely use it on this design.  I do love spiders by the way.  They are very helpful insects.  It blows my DH's mind but in this house, we don't kill them we gently put them outside or in the basemant.  I love photographing them in the Fall.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Noni's Spider

Incy wincy spider went up the web to the trick or treat bag......

A very quick stitch... two colours! Stitched on plain 28ct linen with DMC - nothing too fancy!  The chart was featured in the Just Cross Stitch Halloween 2015 issue.

Now next month is free choice.... and I have no idea what to stitch!  Actually I have lots of ideas just can't make up my mind :o)

Til then... happy Halloween stitching
Hugs xx

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Cheryl's May Spider

Jack-A-Rachnid by Deborah Dick
I have wanted to stitch this spider ever since I first laid eyes on him!  When I saw that the theme for May was spiders, I pulled out my old magazines to find the chart.  I finally found it in the Just Cross Stitch September/October 2013 issue (Volume 31 Issue 5).


Saturday, 7 May 2016

J is for Jack-in-the-Box, Jack O'Lantern and other famous Jacks - Revisited

When we first started this blog I made a series of posts beginning with each letter of the alphabet starting with A.  Unfortunately, they ground to a halt after L.  So in honour of The Alphabet Club hosted by Chiara I have decided to resurrect the original posts and link up each month with the rest of the Alphabet Club posters.  To learn more about this SAL follow the Alphabet Club link to Chiara's blog.

J is for Jack-in-the-Box from A Dark Alphabet designed by Julie and Becky's Note of Friendship blog.

Here's what Becky said about this block at the time:

"Depending on the country, the story varies a bit in it's telling, but most involve a devil! In French the jack-in-the-box is called a "diable en boîte", which means "boxed devil".  One of the first jack-in-the-boxes was pictured holding a boot with a devil in it. Some believe that the name "Jack" was a reference to the devil, referred to as a jack - is this also where we get Jack-o-lantern?"

Here is the perfect little 3D Jack-in-the-Box by Susan Myers:

Now some people might think that looks a little tricky but I stitched Susan's Drac-in-the Box and thanks to some nice clear instructions it really wasn't too difficult.  Good preparation and lots of slip stitching is the key!  Here is Drac:

On to Jack O'Lanterns, most usually a pumpkin in modern times as they are the perfect size and shape for carving into heads or more imaginative shapes.  Vegetables have been carved out and used as lanterns for centuries, from the Maori (gourds) to the English (turnips, manglewurzels or beets).  The carved pumpkin was first used at Harvest Time in America but by 1866 had become associated specifically with Hallowe'en.

There are many stories about the origin of the name "Jack O' Lantern" with some believing Jack is the Devil and others saying he was a man who tricked the Devil.  This website tells the story of Stingy Jack and the Devil.

There are so many great Jack O'Lantern cross stitch designs to choose from, here are just a few:

There are Pumpkin Carving Festivals all over the world and Pumpkin Carving Competitions too.  I asked my older son to choose his favourite from one website and here it is:

Another J, for the Joker!

Other famous Jacks include Jack Skellington:

Jack Skellington is the main character in the Tim Burton Nightmare Before Christmas animation.  One of our favourite Hallowe'en films.  Jack visits Christmas-land and tries to explain to the inhabitants of Hallowe'en Town what it is all about.  Of course, they put a Spooky Spin on the festival and it all goes horribly wrong.

The other famous Jack is Jack Sparrow, not really very Hallowe'eny but he is a popular character for people to dress up as for the occasion so that's why he's here!!

There are lots of computer generated Jack Sparrow charts out there but this one appealed because it is based on original artwork by Brian Duey rather than a photo taken from the internet.

And finally, still on the subject of famous Js, here is Jason from the Friday 13th films:

Jo's May Finish - Spiders

I am now over half way through my band sampler; 5 bands done, 4 to go!

Here is this month's band for the Spiders theme, seems like the spider that the ghost was scaring the froggie with last month has grown in size and turned on the ghosts!  Or maybe that's Mumma Spider come for her baby?

stitched on 32 count lilac linen

Here is the whole piece so far, along with my special spooky scissors and my new scissor charm:


I did email everyone to tell them about a new blog party I discovered - the May Monster Madness on 28th May.  I'll be signing the group up for it and will write a blog post on the day featuring some of the monsters we have stitched over the last 2.5 years.  If you have a suitable photo you have never shown here, please email it to me and I'll include it too.  All photos will of course be credited to you as part of this group.

Loretta's March, April and May Ornies

I got kind of sidetracked but made up for it this week.  The following are my ornies for March, April & May.

All three are from the 2015 JCS Special Collector's Issue Halloween.  The Pumpkin and Ghost are by Belinda Karls-Nace of Blue Ribbon Designs and the Trick or Treat is by Nancy Greenberg of Pickle Barrel Designs.

Thanks for looking!


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

April Ornament

My April ornament is from Just Cross Stitch Halloween Ornament issue 2014. It is stitched on perforated paper.

by Christy Schmitz
JCS Orament Issue 2014

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Determined ...

... not to be scraping in by the skin of my teeth for my May ornament, I stitched like a crazy witch all day yesterday (1st May) to get the next band finished in Counting Bats by Just Nan for the theme of "Spiders".

(the fabbie is so much prettier than I can get my camera to show - it is a pretty lilac and blue)

Phew!  Feeling so good about my monthly goals right about now.

hugs, Kaye