Thursday, January 12, 2012

Linda's Review of Rocky Mountain Santa Cross-Stitch Kit #MH20-8303 Beartooth Santa From Mill Hill

If you haven't already been able to guess - Christmas gifts this year were of the cross-stitch variety. Actually this year and last year and maybe even a few the year before.  What are you going to do when you're a cross-stitch junkie?

As usual, I found several kits I liked earlier in the year so, I bought a few. Unlike last year, this year I bought  a few cross-stitch patterns that utilized perforated paper.

If your remember, the 1st counted cross-stitch perforated paper pattern that I had tried was a Spirit of Quilting Angel Ornament from Brooke's Books Publishing. It was an angel counted cross-stitch ornament design by Brooke Nolan. As I was going to be giving these as Christmas gifts this year I was glad I had already learned a few tricks to working with perforated paper from my previous project.

The first perforated paper counted cross-stitch kit I chose to work on was "Arctic Circles Santa Cross-Stitch Kit #MH20-9303 Nunavut Santa From Mill Hill."  The 2nd cross-stitch kit I chose to work on was Beartooth Santa Bead Counted Cross Stitch Kit MH20-8303 Mill Hill 2008 Rocky Mountain Santas.

The Beartooth Santa pattern and kit came with DMC floss, antique brown perforated paper, glass beads, needles, and a chart with instructions. The Beartooth Santa was to be a 3.25"w x 4.75"h ornament when completed. The pattern suggested finishing the back of the ornament with craft paper or felt - both of which would be glued to the back. Instead of creating this as an ornament I wanted to create a small picture that I could insert into a 5" x 7" frame when completed.

Given my previous experience with perforated paper I knew that you couldn't put it into an embroidery hoop or square frame. The paper was stiff but, not stiff enough to be working on and holding at the same time. In other words, you couldn't just hold it in your hand and cross-stitch at the same time.

The last time I had worked with perforated paper my darling husband had come up with a wonderful solution and had built me a rectangular wood frame jig that I could tape the edges of my perforated paper to. It was a rectangular embroidery hoop of sorts, but without bending the paper. He made it out of 1/2" x 1" pine wood strips. It also has an adjustable center strip that I could use for the smaller counted cross-strip projects I would be doing using perforated paper. It was perfectly suited for this kit.

My frame had worked well for my "Nunavut Santa" which was similar in size to my   Beartooth Santa  so I knew it would work well for this one as well.

My past experience with cross-stitch and perforated paper had taught me that it can tear so you have to be careful with it. Especially when threading the ends of the thread or in the size of the needle you are using. So, before I began I covered the back of the perforated paper with masking tape

Also, based upon my previous experience with perforated paper I decided that I also needed to draw diagonal lines across each corner to get the center point of the perforated paper.

The pattern came with a black and white cross-stitch chart and black and white color code chart with symbols for the floss and beads. I had no problem reading and following the different black and white symbols.

While the end results of this design were wonderful some things in the kit and in the instructions could be improved upon. I'd like to offer the following constructive suggestions:

The cross-stitch chart was in black and white as was the floss color code and symbol key. Both were easy to read and very clear. While I had no problem with the chart and keys I did have a problem with the way the DMC floss was presented. All of the floss was tied together in one big knot so you had to separate the floss pieces yourself, sort them, and try to interpret which color belonged to which floss # and symbol key on the color chart. If you only have a few colors to deal with this isn't a problem. However, if you have several different colors of say gray to choose from that are close in color then interpreting the chart can be tricky. You may assign the wrong color to the wrong symbol if the colors are too closely aligned.

The beads were all combined in a bag so you had to sort the beads and then determine which beads belonged to which symbol. This is fine if the beads are easily distinguishable from one another. When there are several colored beads similar in nature trying to decide which is which can be very annoying. They should have put the beads in separate bags and marked them with their respective color number and symbol.

As I have done with other cross-stitch kits I've completed I had to design my own thread color sorter and symbol key. I took a piece of thin cardboard and cut a 1" x 9" long rectangular piece out to use as a thread sorter. I then punched holes in my cardboard strip in which to tie each of the different colors. Just above the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and just below the hole I added the respective cross-stitch symbol. I then inserted the floss threads that went with that # and symbol through the hole and tied them in a loose knot. This kit could be much improved if a thread sorter with respective #'s and symbols was provided.

I love using beads in cross-stitch designs as I think they really enhance the designs, as was the case with this kit. However, I had a tough time trying to thread the really tiny needle that came in this kit for beading purposes. I know the head of the needle has to fit through the tiny bead openings, but these needles were really, really difficult to thread and trying to do so was not only frustrating, but time consuming. Plus, these tiny needles tend to easily pierce your skin so using them was not only a challenge, but downright painful at times.

The pattern called for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background like the picture shown below:

I do not like any of the perforated paper sections to remain untouched as I think it takes away from the beauty of the creation so I opted instead to cross-stitch all the untouched areas with a non-obtrusive background color. It took me 13 hours (excluding the framing) to complete the Santa. My completed Santa came out as follows:

I had decided that I wanted to enclose my Santa in a 5" x 7" frame with a double layered mat and background paper. I could not use a foam board as it was too deep for my frame despite the double thickness of the mat. I covered the back of the Santa with another layer of wide masking tape to secure all the threads and then cut it out of the perforated paper. I then glued the back of the Santa to my background paper and inserted it into my frame.  For this Santa I choose a wooded tree scene for the background paper.

I was pleased with the way my Beartooth Santa Bead Counted Cross Stitch Kit MH20-8303 Mill Hill 2008 Rocky Mountain Santas came out and even happier when I gave it to my sister. She absolutely loved it and the smile on her face was all I needed to see.

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