I'm really excited to share my newest cross-stitch creation today! This alphabet sampler was so lovely to make. It will be a Christmas present for my Girl Bear. The sampler is My Sweetiepie ABC's, designed by the talented Alicia Paulson. I received the sampler kit as a gift for Christmas last year, so it's a nice symmetry to give the finished and framed sampler to the GB for Christmas this year. (It looks like the kit is not available right now, but you can still buy the pattern in Alicia's online shop). If you've never stitched one of Alicia's samplers, I think you should try to do one very soon. Her designs are so pretty, full of sweet motifs, and her color schemes are always beautiful. I've worked from both her kits and her patterns and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Alicia says this sampler is her favorite thing she has ever designed and I think it's my favorite cross-stitch I have ever made.
I started stitching my sampler in late September. I love the planning phase of any project, but I especially enjoy preparing to create a cross-stitch design. There's so much possibility in a hank of embroidery flosses. I love to look at the chart and find where each color will be used. Sometimes there's just a little glimpse of a particular color - a few stitches in one small spot - and it makes me kind of antsy to get to that part, particularly when the color is a vibrant one. That single strand of bright pink in the above photo - I was so excited about it.
The first motifs are exciting, if slightly daunting. How can this turn into a full-fledged sampler? A for apple, for example, is just a tiny piece, but every piece is important to the finished whole. It's mostly a pleasure to watch the design take shape. Counting threads - especially on 28-count linen - can get a little tedious, but if there's one thing I've learned about stitching, from my first project at seven years old (a teddy bear's face in yarn on plastic canvas), it's this: I must stop working when it doesn't feel good anymore. Put everything away and do something else. Stare out the window, make a cup of tea. I can come back a few hours later, or the next day, with fresh eyes and a better attitude, and the work will be pleasurable all over again.
I liked the way this sampler was broken into quadrants, which made the design seem a lot simpler. The daisy, above, stretched down toward the quadrant below, which gave the sampler a nice balance. I enjoyed Alicia's choices for each of the letters, especially the less-obvious ones, like the pie for P and the mail for M. The heart for X (xox) was particularly clever, I thought. I don't know if I would have come up with that one, but the pink heart is very sweet and it reminded me of how my GB, as a toddler, called every heart shape a "valentine."
I don't know whether I have a favorite motif. I liked the quilt a lot, and the house, but really, I adore them all. I know Miss GB will like them all too, but I have a feeling about this little octopus. She really likes sea animals; in particular, she has a thing for octopuses.
I finished stitching in mid-November. I had decided before I even started that this sampler would be framed professionally. I often frame my own cross-stitched pieces; I'm no expert, but I do a presentable enough job, I think. This sampler is a special gift, so I wanted to have it framed as nicely as possible. I spritzed the piece with water and ironed it with the stitches facing down into a towel. Then I wrapped it up in a dry towel. I recommend using a towel to transport your stitched pieces. Lay the ironed piece on a towel that is folded in half horizontally. Then, starting from the top, roll the towel with the stitched piece inside. This protects the stitched piece and makes it easier to carry. It also prevents the stitched piece from getting wrinkled before you can bring it to the framer's. Once there, you can unroll the towel and the stitched piece should be nice and neat for the framer to work with.
For the frame, I chose a very simple wooden frame in a light finish. I think the wood is maple. I didn't want any matting; I felt it would detract from the sampler. I really like the spareness of the design, and the negative space - the way each motif sort of stands alone from all the others. The framer showed me a wide array of frame styles and I didn't like anything very much until I suddenly saw this one on the wall over her shoulder. It was exactly right. I am so happy with it. After I give it to the GB, we'll hang it over her chest of drawers. I hope she will enjoy having this sampler in her room. As soon as I saw the design, I knew I wanted to make it for her. I look forward to surprising her with it - she saw me working on it but she didn't know it was meant for her. It was a delight to make, especially with her in mind, a sweet and lovely design for my sweet and lovely girl.