Done: Autumn biscornu

I have just finished my autumn biscornu and now it is resting in its place, on my coffee table.

This one is a lot larger than the previous one I made, which is perfect because I have plenty of stuff to put on it or stick into it. The pattern is by Barbara Ana and can be found here. Here’s a warning, though: if you hate backstitching, this is not for you. As you can see in my second photo there is plenty of backstitched lettering and other little details that drive some cross stitchers crazy, such as the little black outlines to distinguish the squirrels’ teeth.

And now I’m going to cast on the Baa-ble Hat, because my knitting club is doing this as a KAL and I think it will be fun to do some color knitting for a change of pace. Also, I’m finally going to use the pompom maker for the first time. I bought it a year ago. It’s about time I got around to using it, right?


Unforeseen three-day weekend!

On Friday my only class for that day was canceled so I got a surprise three-day weekend. I turned it into a cross stitching marathon.

First, I got all my DMC and Anchor floss wound up on bobbins. It’s so much better now to have it all wound up and ready for use. I sure have bought a lot of threads in the past few months!

When I got my thread organized I started getting some new projects set up. I collected all my colors I needed for yet another Joan Elliott design, which is called “Dragon of the Mountain.” It is one of three Chinese dragons in her book Magical Cross Stitch. The other two, which I plan on making in the future, are “Dragon of the Sea” and “Dragon of the Clouds.” I am especially excited to start this one soon, – although I still haven’t actually begun stitching – because it calls for Kreinik metallic threads. When I want to get going on it, though, it’ll be all prepped to just take it out of its tote bag and start making little X’s on the fabric I cut for it.

I also got stitching on my “Autumn Biscornu” and I am having so much fun with it I can’t stop working on it. Here’s my progress so far:

Photo Nov 26, 18 47 58

It doesn’t look like much right now because the backstitching is what makes this design truly special and makes the leaves look like leaves. Also, I love using multi-colored thread. It makes the project so much easier to stitch up.

And so it’s back to work on Monday!

First biscornu for FO Friday

I finished my first biscornu! This one is going to be a gift. I really like this design.


It’s so much fun to make a biscornu that I didn’t even notice that I was sewing by hand. Weird, right? Well, biscornu is French for awkward, so, there’s that. Now I hate sewing by hand, unless it’s a biscornu!

In case you want to make this, the pattern is free, offered by the Cross Stitch Guild. I did not follow the directions for sewing because I didn’t like how the seams looked in the photographs on that web site. Instead, I backstitched a square and sewed into the backstitches. This tutorial shows you how to do that.

The other side of my biscornu has different colored beads and a different color for the backstitching. I also changed the cross stitch border. I got this idea from the photos where the pattern is featured. These little details make it more interesting to look at.


I think it would also be easy to change the colors of the pinwheels.

In the future I’m going to make more biscornus following this pattern. I know lots of crafty people who would appreciate getting one of these.

The story of the nonexistent floss

As I mentioned last week, I am a new biscornu fiend. I even bought a pattern, Barbara Ana’s “Autumn Biscornu”. When I read it, I discovered that I didn’t have any of the embroidery floss colors it calls for. I also noticed something I had never seen before: it requires DMC and Anchor floss. The Anchor colors are actually variegated. Another biscornu pattern I have also calls for some DMC multi-colors.

Last Friday I went to the city center in search of my thread. I couldn’t go to my usual shop because they only have DMC and I needed Anchor. So, I just went to the next best store. The shop assistant searched for the Anchor thread and she didn’t have the numbers. She didn’t have the DMC multis I needed, either. No problem. I tried another shop.

And this is where the story gets really ugly. The shopkeeper, a very rude woman, told me, “These Anchor colors don’t exist. You copied the numbers wrong.” So, I got out my cell phone and searched for them on the Internet. I showed her the pictures of the colors I wanted. She insanely raised her voice and said, “That’s just things on the internet. It isn’t real.” I asked her if she thought I was an idiot and left the shop in a huff. I won’t ever go in that store again.

At home, I did some research. Luckily, there is a person who runs an Etsy shop`out of California and who also blogs. I found her article comparing the Anchor and DMC multi-colored threads. Using photos, she demonstrates that they are mostly very different from each other, although there are some possibilities for substitution. This is why Barbara Ana mixed DMCs with Anchors! Also, I was very pleased to see that the floss I needed actually exists! My local retailers don’t happen to carry the colors in question because they are less commonly used and are newer.

So, as usual, jolly old England came to my rescue. I found a specialized shop and ordered my colors. They arrived today! And no, I’m not imagining things. These colors really exist! I’m no idiot, either, and I can copy numbers from a pattern onto a piece of paper quite well, thank you very much.


Of course, I ordered a spare skein of three of them, just in case!

I’ve felt tempted to bring these to the nasty shop lady to show her that these colors exist, but I don’t think she’s worth it.

So, if anyone wants to take up cross stitching, be aware that local shops sometimes don’t carry everything you might need. Also, Anchor and DMC multis aren’t usually similar enough to substitute.

Ready for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Mostly, it’s because I love a nice, big turkey dinner. I do reflect on what I’m grateful for on that day, but I also know that it’s an invented holiday that was used to promote American nationalism and unity. Did you know that Thanksgiving began as a harvest celebration? It was celebrated on any old day of the year, sometimes more than once a year! Anyway, fabricated or not, it’s my favorite day and I never miss making a Thanksgiving dinner, even if I have to do it on the weekend after the holiday. I live in Spain, so Thanksgiving is just another day to go to work around here.

I sewed up my turkey and cornucopia this morning. Mr. Turkey says “Happy Thanksgiving” to you and the Horn of Plenty reminds you that it’s not all about the yummy food. You’re supposed to give thanks.

And, just in case anyone is curious, I’ll summarize the technical details. I cross stitched these on 18-count white Aida cloth. The charts come from 2001 Cross Stitch Designs, which is an encyclopedia of charts published by Better Homes and Gardens. I did not follow directions precisely with the messages, which are included on the chart. Instead of backstitching with one strand of floss I used two strands so it was more visible. Also, I decided to use a dark brown floss for the backstitching details on the cornucopia rather than the recommended charcoal color. For the sewing, I sewed the bottom and sides with right sides facing each other to some canvas for a nice sturdy backing. Then, I turned them right-side-out, ironed them, and folded the tops closed and sewed the top, leaving enough space to thread some yarn through with a crochet hook. I tied the yarn in a knot and hid the knot inside the top seam. I think it’s pretty cool I didn’t need a dowel, because I did not feel like looking for a few at the Chinese bazaar.

My English learners are going to be surprised to see these, I think. Some of them don’t know what Thanksgiving is and have no clue about American traditions. They may have seen people pigging out on Thanksgiving in a film but the symbolism is not in their “vocabulary,” so to speak. I want them to ask me questions, mostly because they need to practice asking questions, which is not an easy thing to do, believe it or not! I always try to do or have things around to inspire them to ask me questions. If they don’t, I just say, “I would like you to ask me questions.” Alternatively, we play a game that forces them to ask questions. Anyway, asking questions is an intermediate level ability, but if you don’t ask questions frequently you can get rusty at it, no matter what level you are. Good language teachers constantly find ways for students to ask questions in class.

And now… I’m holidayed out. I’m sure I’ll get in the mood for making more holiday-themed stuff in the future, but for now I just want to work on any old thing I feel like doing!

WIP times three on Thursday

Yet again the stars did not align between work schedule and hobby schedule to allow me to post on Wednesday about my works in progress. So, just before Spanish lunch time, I can report on my progress.

I really want to get my Thanksgiving decorations done soon. I thought I would tire of my cornucopia in favor of the biscornu, but this has not been the case. They have each received equal time.

To the left we can see my cornucopia and to the right my pinwheel biscornu. The biscornu would be more done than it is if I hadn’t messed up and had to restitch the blue pinwheel.

My “Widsith” sock now has a complete heel and the beginnings of a foot.


And that’s all for today!

Do I really need a biscornu?

The short answer: no. But they are so cool and I want 1000 of them!!!!!! I have never been much of a frilly type, but suddenly I just feel like my scissors deserve to rest on something comfy. Needless to say, I have become obsessed with biscornus and I have been itching to make some for a couple of weeks, now. I’d love to share a photo of a biscornu, I haven’t even made one yet. I’m afraid to share photos from other places because I think they’re protected by copyright. If you want to see what one looks like, please do click on any links I provide below.

In case anyone is wondering, a biscornu is an oddly-shaped pin cushion that can also serve as a place to rest your little scissors. Lately I have been devouring all web pages devoted to biscornus, both tutorials on how to sew them together and charts to cross stitch them. Lots of aspects of them are attractive to me: they’re a small project, they often involve cross stitching, a lot of them have bead work, they usually also have something cool in the center, either a big bead or a button, and they are hand sewn together in an invisible way, usually attaching edge to edge along a border of backstitching or cross stitches.

There are plenty more reasons to like them and make them. For instance, they could be great gifts for people who enjoy crafts. I think I’m going to binge on making them for crafty friends and family. I know quite a few people who would appreciate receiving one. Even my sister-in-law, who loves to sew.

I’ve been browsing on the web for biscornu ideas for about two weeks and this is a useful list of my favorite resources that other people can use if they’re interested.

Free Biscornu Patterns

Cross Stitch Pattern Central’s huge list of biscornu charts. I really like this list of patterns. Unfortunately, some of them are not really biscornu because the centers are stitched on. Usually, the corners are the more interesting parts while the center is left a little blank to put in a button. Even despite this, I think a lot of these that are just little, square pillows could be made into biscornu.

Craft gossip biscornu patterns. This is a shorter list, but they are all charts truly suited to making biscornu with gaps in the center for a bead or button.

The Victoria Sampler has a quite a few freebies and they’re really nice. One of the things I like about these is that they are available with different versions, changing up the colors or inserting different details.

The Cross Stitch Guild has just one pattern, but it also includes a tutorial for sewing it up. This is the one I’m starting tonight, actually. I’m going to make two or three of these so I can gift them to my crafty peeps. I like the design because it’s geometric, so no matter what a person’s taste might be, it will work for them.

Really good patterns for sale

I first learned about biscornu from the December 2017 issue of The World of Cross Stitching. There are four charts there that are really interesting.

Creative Poppy has some really good things on sale from very talented designers. In fact, the designer Faby Reilly made the charts for the four biscornu in the issue of The World of Cross Stitching I just mentioned and she sells charts through this French web site. Barbara Ana also has some excellent designs. I like these because they have a sense of humor. Cross stitch humor is growing on me big time. I bought the autumn one about two hours ago and I plan to make this soon. I must admit that I’m quite partial to Barbara Ana. I wanted to buy all the biscornu charts she is selling. I settled for one. I just love the squirrel! I’ll cave eventually and buy her owl biscornu chart. I also grabbed the monochrome biscornu designed by Marie-Anne Réthoret-Mélin. This one will be fun to work on because it calls for DMC Color Variations. I’ve been dreaming about cross stitching with variegated thread. I think the pricing here is reasonable and they give all customers $4 off their first order. Even better, I like that I can download pdf versions. No waiting for the mail to come!

And that’s all I’ve got to say about biscornu, for now. I suspect my Thanksgiving cornucopia is going to be forgotten for a while. It’s going to be fun to work on a little square thingy.