I’m not sure why I tend to get impatient when I do counted cross-stitch. Maybe it’s the intensity of focusing on the fine warp and weft of linen. Or maybe it’s the tedium of those long rows of stitches slanted in one direction and then stitching back across them, slanting the stitches in the opposite direction.
The cross-stitch itself, however, doesn’t deserve to be needled (pun intended). The cross-stitch is easy to learn and if you leave open space in and around the designs, interesting things come of it. This, I found, is especially true when cross-stitching on perforated paper.
Women embroiderers in the Victorian era of the late 1880s knew what to do with perforated paper. They stitched cross-stitch mottoes on it — WELCOME and HOME SWEET HOME, large pieces stitched boldly with wool or silk threads and meant to be shown off in heavy gilded frames hung in the parlor. They also cut six-sided wedge-shaped pieces from perforated paper that they embroidered and assembled into bowls to keep trinkets in. In those days, perforated paper was easy to obtain, inexpensive and came in a range of holes per inch.
Recently, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at embroidering small motifs on perforated paper. I decided to make bookmarks and to that end I cut half a dozen strips of the paper about 6 inches long and 1½ inches wide.
Since I wanted to adorn the bookmarks with simple motifs, I looked to my collection of embroidery books in search of designs that appealed to me. It wasn’t easy to decide on just six motifs. I ended up with a purple house, a dark blue bird, a green tree, a yellow star with a peach-pink bar and diamond below it, a red bird and a dark red heart. I was delighted with what I wrought. The designs worked up quickly and used up snippets of thread left over from other embroidery projects.
These little bookmark beauties will make the perfect offering to enclose in a card when a cousin or friend has a birthday.
Stitching on perforated paper requires a light touch. Even though the paper is sturdy, it can bend, not something you want to happen. Cutting perforated paper requires a bit of finesse, too. If you cut through the centers of the holes, you end up with serrated edges. It’s best, I discovered, to cut to one side of the holes to produce a smooth edge.
Cross-stitching on perforated paper is also a great way to create Christmas tree ornaments, Valentines and gift tags.
Perforated paper is not easy to come by in the Bangor area. I called several area craft stores and was not successful in finding the product. However, I found sources online. Visit www.yarntree.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for lists of retailers who stock the product. Also visit www.herrschners.com. Herrschners has available a mail-order catalog from which perforated paper may be purchased.
For free cross-stitch charts visit www.dmc-usa.com, www.caron-net.com/, www.free-cross-stitch-patterns.com, www.cross-stitchers-club.com and www.coatsandclark.com. If you are looking for a charming Christmas tree motif in cross-stitch for free, www.prairieschooler.com has one.
• Professional quilt artist Carole Halteman will be the guest speaker at the Brown Bag Lunch program at noon Friday, March 20, at the Page Farm and Home Museum, University of Maine. Her topic will be “A Journey from Avocation to Vocation: Finding One’s Way in the Business of Fiber Arts.” The event is free. For more information, call the museum at 581-4100.
• “Felted Embellished Sweaters” by Harpswell artist Lyn Lemieux is the exhibit through March 31 at Maine Fiberarts in Topsham. An artist’s reception will be held 1:30-4 p.m. Sunday, March 22. Lemieux will present a gallery talk at 2 p.m. Lemieux creates clothing crafted from recycled wool sweaters which she felts, embroiders and ornaments. Call Maine Fiberarts at 721-0678 or visit www.mainefiberarts.org for more information.
• Visit www.classiceliteyarns.com to find a pattern for a knit star-shaped wash cloth inspired by Star Island, off the coast of New Hampshire. Recently, one of the wash cloth designer’s friends, Toby Wood, was kayaking off the Granite State’s coast and didn’t return. The designer shares the pattern at the Classic Elite Yarns Web site in honor of her friend.