Monday, April 8, 2013

Linda's Review of Winter Woods - Mill Hill Buttons & Beads Cross-Stitch Kit #MH14-1303

One of the cross-stitch I had bought for creating this winter was a little different than some of the others I had completed. Usually I'm drawn to cross-stitch pictures of houses.  This one was a picture of a red cardinal sitting on the limb of a birch tree surrounded by other birch trees and large snowflakes. It was really pretty so I decided to try it.

Like the other Mill Hill  - Buttons & Beads Series patterns I had bought the Winter Woods  kit included the pattern, embroidery thread, perforated paper, beads, red cardinal button, 2 needles and instructions.

The Winter Woods  pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and outline stitching as well as beads and buttons for emphasis and depth. The pattern also calls for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background.  In this case they were leaving sections of the blue perforated paper background untouched.

I, once again, decided to frame my finished cross-stitch picture in a 5" by 5" white shadow box frame that is 1 1/2" deep and can stand on it's own (like the picture at the top of this post) or with its back picture stand (like the picture above) as I've been really happy with the way all my other cross-stitch shadowbox pictures have come out.

I also decided to once again utilize the rectangular wood frame jig that my darling husband built for me (pictured above) that I could tape the edges of my perforated paper to. The wood frame jig is a rectangular embroidery hoop of sorts, but without bending the perforated  paper. He had made it out of 1/2" x 1" pine wood strips with an adjustable center strip that I used for this 5 x 5 square design.

I had learned from previous mistakes that I needed to draw diagonal lines to locate the exact center of the perforated paper as in the last perforated paper cross-stitch picture I had done was slightly off center by a few holes which caused a problem with inserting the needles in the holes along one of the edges of my frame. So, I drew a diagonal line across each corner to get the center point of the perforated paper.

I had also run into a slight problem with one of the perforated paper cross-stitch pictures I had previously created with the beads along the edge causing a problem when framing so this time I also drew squares on the perforated paper to show me where the 5" x 5" square was. Plus, I knew I wanted to square my picture so I needed to know where to end my stitching.

While the end results of this design were wonderful some things in the kit and in the instructions could be improved upon so 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 beige 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.

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 9 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.

This time I had no problem with the beads as there were only two types being used and they were easy to distinguish from each other.  Also, I had my handy needle threader now so threading the needle wasn't an issue any longer.

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

However, I don't like seeing the different perforated sections in the background and opted instead to finish all of the background with a blue DMC embroidery floss color that closely matched the color of the blue perforated paper.   And, once again, I had decided to square the edges of my picture.

As I was going along I decided to add more white single thread straight stitch emphasis lines than the pattern had called for with the snowflakes and under the snow patches on the branches.  I also decided to add more gray and beige double thread straight stitches and running stitches along the sides of the trees and below more of the tree branches for more dimension than the pattern had called for.   My results with the totally finished background, square edges, and added emphasis are shown below:


Both hubby and I were unhappy with the quality of the red cardinal button.  From a distance it looks fine but, close up, its' quality could be improved upon.

Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was thrilled with the way my Winter Woods  turned out. There is a lot going on in a very small cross-stitch picture and it is amazing to see all the details.

It took me 29  hours to complete this picture including the framing. As always, my comments are meant to be constructive to enable future purchasers to benefit from my experience and to enhance their ability to create a wonderful little cross-stitch design.

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