Recently in The Castle Category

Cross Stitching Completed

The Castle, With All Cross Stitching Complete

So, here you have it. I didn't quite meet my goal of getting all the cross-stitching completed over the weekend, but I wasn't too far off, all things considered. Seeing all those little x's and half x's in the form of a complete picture is inspiring for me. It's come at the expense of a great many knit and purl stitches or spinning wheel treadles that might have occured had I not been working on this project, and it's still not complete, but clearly I have met a significant milestone. I will be doing a little victory dance before I start into the large quantity of backstitching that needs to be done in order to give the project its final detailing.

It was a momentous day for another reason as well. I finally got my own personal PayPal account set up. Anyone who has bought one of my felted bag patterns will know that I was using the account that I shared with John and which only had his name on it. I don't have a problem with this personally, but since John and I don't share a last name, I have always worried that this was confusing to people who bought my patterns. I've also wanted to keep track of my own little rainy day/business start up fund. No, I have no plans to start a business anytime soon, but the idea does appeal to me and this seemed like a good way to start saving up should I ever decide to go in that direction.

All this is a long winded way of letting you know that, come Monday, I should be very close to making my Dragon Scale pattern available for sale. Assuming I can figure out if using PayLoadz is the right strategy for me -- it seems kind of expensive and I'm trying to avoid passing on any more costs than I have to to folks who want to buy the pattern. Would you rather pay extra for the convenience of having immediate download or pay less and wait a little bit until I can send you the pattern by email?

Just a quick update, because my comments suggest there's a bit of confusion... I am *not* considering snail mail at all as a distribution method. For a couple of reasons: 1) This pattern is large and I couldn't ship it with regular postage (and having to add 40 cents or more postage, pay for paper and inkjet cartridges, etc. would be more costly than the automated downloads), 2) I am just about the world's worst person at getting to the post office and I don't always have time to go there every day, plus, the post office does, occasionally lose things; 3) I'd have to have separate pricing for international and US buyers because international shipping costs more, and that would mean I'd have a lot more to keep track of.

So... the only methods of receipt are immediate download by a service like PayLoadz or file sent by email by me as soon as I can get to it after the PayPal transaction has cleared.

My Castle Gets a Tail


I made another milestone on my cross stitch project this week: my dragon now has a fully completed tail.

One Dragon, One Tail

Now all of the main picture is complete! All that remains is a bit of stitching around the bottom of the tail to suggest it rising out of the water, and a little bit of background scenery on either side of the dragon on the island. I'm beginning to feel like success with this project is in sight! Amazing what actually working on a project can accomplish towards getting it finished.

The Tail Detail

I can't turn away from a good macro mode shot opportunity. This picture is evidence of two things, however. 1) 22 count hardanger is not the right fabric to use if you are going to have to make a lot of half stitches 2) if you do use 22 count hardanger and have to do a lot of half stitches, at least your ugly stitches won't be all that visible because they will be very, very tiny.

This project is another project that will be going to Ann Arbor with me this weekend. Perhaps I will get all the cross stitching finished while I am there... and then I will get to move on to the true joy (NOT) that will be backstitching this bad boy.

On the Rocks


Once again, I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint anyone coming here looking for real knitting content. (I am actually knitting, but showing an inch of additional progress on a sock or a scarf seems uninspiring at best). Today I'm going back to my cross stitch project because I have hit a major milestone with it: I have completed the cross stitching for all the rocks.

The Castle, with Rock Background Complete

It might seem like it took me an awfully long time to complete a relatively small amount of cross stitching (the rocks under the dragon's tail). I've not only worked on this project an hour every evening, but over Memorial Day weekend I probably got in an additional 8-10 hours of stitching on this project. How could anything take that long? I provide you with some additional detail on this:

Close Up Detail of Stitches Under the Dragon's Tail

This is the small section of stitches under the right end of the dragon's tail, extending to the opening where the end of the tail will be. Almost all Teresa Wentzler cross-stitch patterns involve using two plies, each of different colors. She blends colors that way, and also tends to use each color in very small areas on the canvas. Thus, you change colors a lot and spend a lot of time separating thread and doing thread maintenance stuff. I used to keep multiple needles threaded at once when I finished an area and still had floss left, but now I just clip the remainder, throw it away and go on and just use one needle. Easier for me to keep track of since I'm not in any danger of running out of floss.

That said, you might notice that the rocks under the dragon's tail are darker than the ones above. I'm not sure if this is due to fading, one of the base color flosses with a different dyelot (colors 3041 and 3042 are blended with other colors most often to make the rocks) or if they are supposed to be darker due to the lower body of the dragon shading those rocks. With cross-stitch, as in knitting, you should always get enough floss to complete your project from the same dyelot, but this project is pretty old and I have no idea if I am still using the same dyelot on these colors or not (I think I am for most of them...).

This project is getting a bit exciting for me now. I feel like I am coming into the home stretch. At the same time, working on this project has been an unexpectedly pleasant re-awakening for my fingers -- like finding a $10 bill in a winter coat pocket.after it was put away for the summer. It feels very natural and comfortable and enjoyable. So much so, that I've been trolling Ebay for some new patterns.

Two New Pattern Books: The Petites Book 1 and Celestial Dragon

By now, perhaps, you are sensing that I have a little thing for dragons. And so I probably do. It was the fantasy creatures that drew me to Teresa Wentzler's work originally and clearly it keeps drawing me back. I got the "Petites" book because I like the idea of working on a "small" TW project (not to worry, they are completely chock-a-block with blended colors) and the Celestial Dragon design because I like this departure from TW's standard fantasy oriented dragons. I could actually see this design on a wall in my living room, if stitched on a sophisticated linen background. If you want to see all of TW's designs (and she has a bunch of free charts, too!) you can find her site here.

The last time I posted about my cross-stitch, I know that there were a number of you out there who told me that this was inspiring you to go back pull out some of your old unfinished projects. I'd like to keep encouraging y'all to do that. Don't have something unfinished? Maybe it's time to start something new. I've also been buying some interesting new floss and fibers so that when I finish the Castle, I have another interesting new project to start!

Dragon Day


After I got that cross-stitch project out, I decided that I needed to finish it. There's something to be said about an unfinished work, but in this case it would never make me happy given how much work I had already done on it. It's strange, I hardly even remember doing all that work. But there's definitely a lot more time in the piece than I've ever put into any sweater. How do I know this?

The Castle: A Dragon's Tale Comes into Focus

Well, I decided that I would work for an hour every day (including weekends) on this project. I didn't start right away after I posted it, but I didn't wait too long either -- I think the Saturday before Mother's Day. Since deciding to do that I've finished the hind leg and claw, and most of the long part of the tail. That probably represents 7-8 hours of work. And there wasn't a lot of color changing in the part I just worked. The castle and rocks have a lot of color changing involving two strands of two different colored floss. So it will be a bit slower going from here on out.

I'm finding this cross stitch project very engaging for me in small doses. I actually look forward to coming home from work and listening to The World and spending some time with my dragon. It's definitely a reminder that I enjoy needle work that doesn't involve yarn. I wish these Q-snap frames had been around a long time ago when I started this project. They make the experience a lot nicer than tensioned rings or wooden hoops and they are much more portable than a stand. (If you do cross stitch and don't have one of these frames, you should really do yourself a favor and treat yourself to one -- they're not that expensive and they come in a variety of sizes).

I think I'm going to have a weekly "Dragon Day" until this project is finished to help keep me motivated. I really want to see this project through to the end now and give it a special place in my home to remind me that it is never too late to finish something.

And now I'm off to browse through my Barbara Walker books in search of a pattern that might work well with my washed and set silk singles.