Winter is the perfect time to hibernate, to batten down the hatches against the weather and turn inwards. Here on the South African Highveld, it’s the perfect time of year for embroidering. The sun shines almost daily, burning away the bite of night and providing ample natural light for stitching. It’s been the perfect time to work on new designs and reflect on and plan for upcoming changes and projects.
A fairly big undertaking has been putting together a stitch directory. I got some feedback a while ago that it’d be helpful to have images of the stitches I use in my embroidery designs in addition to the names, which makes perfect sense when you think about how many stitches have more than one English name – never mind other languages – and are sometimes even done in different ways. So I’ve made a good start on it (it’s a work in progress) and hopefully the directory, along with the close-up photos I include in my patterns, will clear up any remaining confusion about exactly which stitch I’m referring to in the instructions. The directory is on its own page where the stitches are listed in alphabetical order to make them easy to find, and I’ve included as many alternative names as I could find for each of them. It also makes for interesting browsing if, like me, you’re a bit of stitch enthusiast.
The only downside of embroidering during winter in Joburg is the ubiquitous dust and fluff during the dry season. It can drive you a bit mad, getting caught under your stitches and settling on your fabric before you’ve even realised its there. This becomes an issue when you take close-up photos of your stitching; previously invisible strands of fluff suddenly appear and it literally takes a pair of tweezers to get rid of them. And no matter how careful you are, how well covered and wrapped up you keep your work, there’s no avoiding it. So a roll of masking tape, with the end folded back on itself to form a sticky “wheel”, comes most in handy. If you’re not aware of this trick, all you do is put your hand through the centre of the roll of tape and run it gently over your embroidery and the surrounding fabric. You’ll be amazed at how much dust, lint and fine fibres it lifts off. I’ve no idea if this is a “right way” of doing things, probably not. But it works for me and is a godsend in getting rid of fluff.
My local fabric, yarn and haberdashery store, Arthur Bales in Linden, has regular end-of-season sales and the winter sale is now on. So I took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on wool to crochet Anita Mundt’s variegated yarn blanket from issue 24 of Mollie Makes magazine. Living on the southern tip of Africa, I was just glad to be able to get the right Sirdar yarn even if I had to mix and match my own colours. Still, I’m thrilled at the prospect of starting a new crochet project (who doesn’t feel that way about new projects) even though I'm still busy with the Giant Blanket of Rose and Daisy Squares - I'm on square 88 of 396. It’ll be nice to have a project I can do on the go, as I’ll only need to carry one or two balls of wool with me as opposed to lugging around a big, multi-coloured bag of yarn.