Last October Country Bumpkin of Australia issued No. 64 of their Inspirations magazine. They have a series in the magazine called "Pocket Project", which I guess is supposed to be small, easy to carry around, and relatively simple to work.
This Pocket Project is a counted cross stitch biscornu, a type of pillow made from two squares of embroidered fabric. Now this particular project is most definitely not small, easy to carry around, etc., but in a good way. I love the colors and the design of the embroidery, and the project sort of niggled at me until I decided that I just had to try it. Since this is worked on 40 count linen, this is definitely not a beginner's project, and with counted cross stitch, I most certainly am a beginner. But I forged on ahead anyway. I ordered the fabric, a lovely natural linen, and the threads, Au Ver a Soie, from Needle in a Haystack, in Alameda, California. I even visited the shop when my husband and I drove to Sacramento to attend a nephew's wedding this past January. We went into San Francisco for lunch and a bit of sightseeing so I just had to stop in Alameda to visit the shop. It's a great shop, the owners are very friendly, so please stop by if you happen to be in the area.
These are pretty ragged looking because I'm more than 3/4 of the way through the embroidery. I promise I'll learn to take better pictures! Notice the card - I bought a craft punch and punched holes in cardstock, labeled each hole with the floss color and the corresponding alphabet tag from the pattern. This is a great help in keeping the threads organized. I snip off 18 inch lengths and loop them through the holes as I need them.
I have finished the first side, and managed to change the date from 2009 in the pattern to 2010 all by myself, without direction. I worked all the embroidery in a hands free hoop, and around the edges there was a distinct darker ring. I had to send this off to the dry cleaner's and even though you can't see it in this picture, it still is there, very faint. Luckily, it will be all cut off in the final project.
For the second side I stitched muslin strips to the sides of the linen, and placed all in a larger hoop with a top layer of lightweight interfacing. Then I very carefully cut away the interfacing all around where the embroidery would be, leaving a protective layer around the edge of the hoop. You can't see it in the photo, but I can see where the interfacing is getting a bit dirty, thereby saving the linen. And this is with washing my hands every time before I come even close to it. The photo shows that I'm working on P, but at the time I write this, I have finished Q. Once I complete the alphabet I will work on finishing the edges using a pulled thread technique. I have no idea what that is, but the directions in the magazine look pretty clear so I will show you as I get into it.
I am finding that I somewhat like this technique, even though for some odd reason I didn't think I would. I like the bargello effect around the date and the satin stitch alphabet on the first side. The green cross stitch border is a problem, on both sides. It's hard to see, but the section just under the B on the first side is a bit off. On the second side the top and bottom centers have an extra cross stitch as I just didn't count quite right. Oh well, I've heard that even experienced cross stitchers sometimes have their counts a bit off. The second side alphabet is worked in Algerian Eye Stitch, which is a very pretty stitch with a pulled center, creating a bit of a hole in the fabric.
I started this project in early February, and here it is mid May. I'd like to finish this by late June, because I'll be starting another new project then.