I haven’t got another sweater out to wear. I’m rotating the same five this week, so I can’t do a “Wearing Sweaters” post in lieu of an FO.
But, luckily, I have another kind of random crafty post up my sleeve. First of all, let me introduce you to my latest cross stitch discovery, the scrolling frame with clips:
I bought this recently to give it a try. It wasn’t very expensive and it was just the right size to work on small projects, and I liked the idea of having a continuous strip of fabric for making lots of biscornu squares. Loaded into the scrolling frame I’ve got a “Winter Biscornu” in progress, designed by my favorite biscornu designer, Barbara Ana.
I’ve been using the frame for a day now and I’ve decided I don’t want to use anything else. I went back on line and ordered a larger one (20″ wide) so I can work on bigger projects. What I like about this type of frame is that I don’t have to baste the fabric onto the rods. I can clip the fabric in which means I can easily remove it and replace it with another project. The fact that I can keep the fabric quite taught while at the same time view the bigger picture also helps my work a lot. I really like seeing the full “wide-screen” view. The only disadvantage I can see with using this type of tool is that you can’t put masking tape around the fabric edges to prevent fraying. On the bright side, I have a sewing machine with lots of different stitching abilities, so I just zig-zag stitched around my fabric edges. So, I’m just going to scroll through my biscornu stitching and make it sort of like a factory. I can do one for me and a couple more for my friends all on the same strip, remove the fabric, cut out the squares, and sew them together.
My absolute favorite thing about the scrolling frame is that I can leave a project in it indefinitely. All I have to do is loosen the tension, as seen in the photo, and I can put it away. When I’m ready to work on it again, I just tighten up the tension on the fabric again. It’s very convenient.
Another thing I’ve experimented with is dyeing my fabric. I really felt like I traveled back in time to the 1980s when people actually had to do this more often. These days, Aida cloth and evenweave fabric are available in a wide range of colors. The problem for me is that I can’t get lots of different colors locally and even on line shops sometimes don’t carry what I want or sell it at the price I’m willing to pay. Another issue is that I saw something stitched on orange fabric that I wanted to make and I really don’t see the point in buying a yard or half a yard of something in orange that I probably won’t use up. In the future, I’ll use the fabric dye you can buy in the supermarket for the orange color. My immediate needs were different this time.
What I needed was a dark khaki color for my winter biscornus, something dark enough so the white snowmen and snow flakes would show up perfectly. I couldn’t find anything similar to what the pattern directions called for so I followed a tutorial for dyeing Aida cloth with tea, something I remember my mother doing quite frequently in the 1980s. I got good results. I steeped eight tea bags in a liter of water, let the water cool off, and let some white Aida cloth rest in the bath for about six hours. I still have quite a lot of the white fabric in its original color left so you can see how dark it got:
On the left you can see the original bright white color and on the right the results of my dyeing with tea. As you saw previously, the white stitches for my snowmen show up perfectly on this darker color.
I think this is a good alternative to buying expensive, hand-dyed fabrics. That’s essentially what you’re doing, anyway, dyeing your fabric with your own two hands. Using tea has its drawbacks, of course, one of the obvious ones being that you risk shortening the life of your fabric. It’s also time-consuming to dye with tea, and when the fabric dries it’s a real pain to iron out the wrinkles, even if the fabric is still a little bit damp. I did, however, save myself a lot of money comparing the 6 or 7 euro I spent on the fabric (and I still have lots left over in white!) with the hand-dyed fabric called for in the pattern, which costs maybe 400 times that. Tea creates that “hand-dyed” look, with the little irregularities of color shades you can find in antique cross stitch fabrics.
To dye my fabric I followed the directions provided at The Spruce, which includes directions on how to make the fabric colorfast after the soaking process. This blog also recommends experimenting with herbal teas to get different colors, like blue. I might try that in the future, but I don’t think I’ll be making a habit of hand-dyeing my cross stitch material. I’ll do it when I feel like I have no other alternatives, such as what happened for my winter biscornu project.