Friday, April 21, 2017

Linda's Review of Country Welcome Beaded Counted Cross Stitch Kit Mill Hill Buttons & Beads Autumn Series MH14-7206

When I look at different cross-stitch or needlework kits I might like to do I'm always drawn to pictures or ornaments that have the word "joy" in them or have "doggies" in them.  The ones with "joy" always remind me of my beloved mother as that was her name and the "doggies" remind me of my beloved cairn terrier.

So, when I saw the Country Welcome - Button & Beads Mill Hill Cross-stitch Kit with the little "doggie" in it I knew I wanted to make it.  The dog button doesn't look anything like a cairn terrier but it's a "doggie" nonetheless.

The Country Welcome Beaded Counted Cross Stitch Kit Mill Hill Buttons & Beads Autumn Series MH14-7206 pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and straight stitch highlighting as well as beads of various sizes 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 brown perforated paper background untouched.

A lot of the cross-stitch 5" by 5" pictures I have made were finished in small 6 1/2" by 6 1/2" shadowbox frames with 5" by 5" openings that I had gotten at Michaels when they went on sale on year.  I used up all the shadowbox frames I had gotten that year and have been looking for them ever since and haven't found them again.

So, when I saw that Michaels had small 6' by 6" shadowbox frames on sale again I bought a few figuring they'd work okay.  I thought they would be like the previous frames I had bought by they actually were bigger.  They were 7 1/2" by 7 1/2" shadowbox frames with a 5 1/2" opening. I didn't realize when I had bought these that a lot more of the cross-stitch picture would be showing.

I also decided to once again utilize the rectangular wood frame jig that my darling husband built for me 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 lightly drew a diagonal line across each corner with a pencil to get the center point of the perforated paper.

The pattern called for a white/gold wooden frame and 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 since a lot more of it would be exposed with this frame I opted instead to finish the ground with a medium gray DMC embroidery floss and the rest of the background with a light brown DMC embroidery floss color sewn as a half cross-stitch using two strands of the floss.

I had decided to square the edges of my picture and also decided to add as many rows of the light brown and medium gray floss around all the edges to make sure the perforated paper would not be visible once my cross stitch picture was inserted into the wooden frame.

However, this time, when I measured the picture and frame I realized that I would need to add a lot more of the brown floss and medium gray around the edges as a lot more of the picture would be showing.  Instead of using the brown floss and medium gray floss I decided to use ecru colored .25m floss sewn as one half cross-stitch that would make the picture look like it was matted..

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 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 like ecru and light beige. The key code chart should have contained the number of strands that were included in the kit so I would know how many strands I had for the different floss colors.

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.

The beads were contained within three small ziploc bags which was fine. The chart had footnote symbols to help distinguish which beads were within which bag.

The kit included a dog button that was to be sewn at the bottom of the picture.  The button was okay except it was glued to a small piece of cardboard which did not easily come off and the glue used had hardened and extended over the sides of the button.  I cut it with scissors and managed to make it presentable enough to use in my picture. I have found over time that the buttons used in the Mill Hill cross-stitch kits are usually of poor quality and the worst parts of the kits. Sometimes I use them sometimes I don't.

The wooden frame came with a 6" x 6" cardboard mounting board for the picture but had no back so I decided to cut a 6" x 6" white foam adhesive board to use to glue my picture to.

My results with the totally finished background, square edges, and frame is shown below:

Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was happy with the way my Country Welcome turned out.

It took me 26 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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