Breaking Out Of The Joann’s/Michael’s Box

Gentle Readers have been clamoring for the low down on where we find the charts and materials for the stitching projects we do. Here are some links to various resources that I use for finding and buying the supplies to fuel my stitching obsession (i.e. to make sure my stash is always in a state of being “more projects than I can complete in a lifetime”). There are many more out there, but these are the ones that I find most consistently useful for the kinds of projects I like to do (samplers, samplers and more samplers).


1. The Attic Newsletter:
Attic Needlework is a shop in Mesa, AZ that is pretty much my idea of heaven on Earth. The store has a Wall of Samplers that is legendary in stitching circles, and it’s what inspired me to return to cross-stitching. While they’re not really an online or mail order business, they are an excellent source for finding new designs thanks to their weekly newsletter, which can be found in PDF form at

www.atticneedlework.com/newsletter.html

(You can also have the newsletter sent via email; I think the quality of the pictures is better in email.) The newsletter highlights new designs coming into the shop; they have a wide variety styles of projects, from historic samplers to fun seasonal stuff to contemporary designs. Another fun thing about the Newsletter is that Jean (the shop’s owner and my stitching hero) will often include pictures of the linen and threads she’s using to do the Sampler of the Month. They do do mail orders, but as they do a very, very steady business in-shop, they are sometimes a little slow. What they lose in speed, they make up for in spades in quality! (I should also point out that all of our framing is done by their extremely talented framer-in-residence.)

2. The Scarlet Letter: This is, in my opinion, the premier online source for reproduction samplers. This site is easy to use (pieces are rated on a scale from Beginner to Very Advanced) and they helpfully offer projects in just chart form or with a whole kit (linen, threads and needle included). They do a nice job of explaining what’s interesting about each piece and they are mindful of the history of the craft. The sampler page is divided into time periods and geography which gives the site a bit of a educational air as well!

http://www.scarlet-letter.com/title/tableocold.html

I’m a big fan of 17th and 18th century English samplers, and could probably happily make every one on the site! Their charts come with excellent instructions with clear stitch guides. A beginner stitcher could do really well with any of their simpler designs.

3. Carriage House Samplings: Carriage House Samplings is one of my favorite designers; while their work is probably more rustic than I’d generally think my taste runs to, I find I consistently adore their charts. Since the designs are generally pretty reliant on big blocks of color, they are pretty solid choices for beginners.

http://www.carriagehousesamplings.com/

They do not have online ordering yet, but they do mail order.

4. The Drawn Thread: This company publishes pieces that are more contemporary than Carriage House, and which are steeped in an aesthetic that is delicate, intricate and graceful. The colors are generally muted and soft, giving an overall impression of peacefulness. Don’t be fooled by the pictures — their designs almost always look a thousand times better in real life.

http://www.drawnthread.com/index.html

They do not have online or mail ordering, but they are so big in the industry pretty much any retail shop will carry their charts and kits. The designs range from super easy to very advanced, but they do not make that distinction on their charts. The intermediate and advanced charts are great learning pieces as they often include a variety of specialty stitches; the charts include very clear instructions and stitch diagrams. The site also offers free printable charts for tiny pieces.

5. Prairie Schooler: Prairie Schooler was where it all started for me and Schnookie — our very first projects when we were in grade school were small Prairie Schooler kits. These designs have a very distinctive look, very simple and static, with big blocks of rustic colors and a delightfully non-hokey country style. Many of their designs are seasonal, making them the perfect projects for when it’s mid-February and you’re dying of Spring fever or when it’s mid-July and you can’t wait for Christmas or Winter.

http://www.prairieschooler.com/

I’m particularly excited for the designs they’ve been rolling out in the last year or so which include little verses about the seasons. These projects are ideal for beginners, and the charts so charming they are fun for stitchers of all skills. You can see some Prairie Schoolers I’ve done here and here. While my examples were done in silk thread, the designs are intended to be done with DMC floss which is readily available at craft stores everywhere.

6. Moira Blackburn: While not an extensive site, this British designer has some spectacular work. They designs are very historical in nature, but the colorways make them slightly more contemporary in feel. The designs look intricate, but usually involve only counted cross stitch, making them good for intermediate stitchers.

http://www.moirablackburn.com/index.htm

Please note that the site is British so while you can order online, the prices are in pounds and shipping might be pricey!

7. Elizabeth Bradley: Schnookie works on Elizabeth Bradley kits almost exclusively. The kits are unusual in that they are done in wool on canvas in a style called Victorian Cross Stitch. The end results are simply stunning and straight out of an English manor house.

http://www.elizabethbradley.com/index.php

The kits are carried in many retail shops, but they also do mail order (again, it’s a British site). There are several small kits that are good for giving this technique a whirl. You can see some of the smaller kits and designs done up by Schnookie here.

Buying Supplies

The following are great sites for ordering supplies and browsing for other designers (many of the ones I’ve listed will be available for purchase, as well).

http://www.maryjanes.com/

http://www.nordicneedle.com/

http://www.thesilverneedle.com/

http://www.wyndhamneedleworks.com/

Another good resource is Just Cross Stitch, a periodical that includes charts and tons of ads for local and online shops.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d be happy to hear from you! You can reach me at interchangeablepartsblog [at] gmail [dot] com. Happy stitching!

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13 Comments

Filed under Pins and Needles, Stitching

13 responses to “Breaking Out Of The Joann’s/Michael’s Box

  1. Caitlin

    Bless you times 1,000.

    Seriously. All of it’s to die for, but the Carriage House ones and Elizabeth Bradley ones will be sucking up extra income in no time fast, I’m sure.

    Thank you so much!

  2. You’re very welcome! This was a post I should have written a while ago. I really love pretty much every thing on Carriage House and Elizabeth Bradley! I feel like it’s a good use of extra income, since you get the joy of doing some productive while watching TV, and you get something pretty to hang on the wall in the end!

  3. Elizabeth Bradley designs actually make almost better pillows and upholstery than they do wallhangings, but because of the four-legged denizens of Maple Hoo, I just have everything I stitch framed. My big dream is to make the rugs on the EB site — I’ve actually got the kits for one of them — but I know the instant I put one on the floor, someone would be there sinking their claws into it. And then I’d have to kill them.

  4. Caitlin

    My big dream is to make the rugs on the EB site — I’ve actually got the kits for one of them — but I know the instant I put one on the floor, someone would be there sinking their claws into it. And then I’d have to kill them.

    You could always have a very attractive rug-hanging! A friend of mine did that a few years back with a rug she made out of somethingoranother and it looks fabulous. That being said, I could see how you’d be dying to do something not to go on your walls!

    I feel like it’s a good use of extra income, since you get the joy of doing some productive while watching TV, and you get something pretty to hang on the wall in the end!

    Too true! My mother has been consoling me about the needlepoint I’m currently working on. It’s been so long since I’ve needlepointed that I’ve forgotten EVERYTHING, and had to continuously consult the Reader’s Digest Guide to Needlework that we keep on hand for this sort of thing. Unfortunately I keep having problems with keeping the correct tension in the stitches, so my stitches either look really loose or pulled too taut. Ah, well, live and learn, I suppose!

  5. Tension comes with practice! It’s just like in knitting. I actually like to do the Victorian cross stitch with wool because my tension is a hair too tight for working on linen like Pookie does — I end up pulling the fabric. Meanwhile, Pookie’s tension tends to be too loose for the Elizabeth Bradley projects. So not all of us have the dispositions for all stitching mediums! :D

    I actually plan someday, when I finish my rug, to hang it on a wall. I’m in no hurry to clear the spot, though. It’s going to be a while before it’s done. Heh.

  6. Caitlin

    because my tension is a hair too tight for working on linen like Pookie does — I end up pulling the fabric.

    Same here – kudos to Pookie!

    So not all of us have the dispositions for all stitching mediums! :D

    Good to know, good to know!

    Jeez, thank god for IPB. Otherwise, where would I get my daily living questions solved? Dammit, you can never go away now, you hear me?

  7. Dammit, you can never go away now, you hear me?

    The power is going to go to our heads! OUR PUBLIC MUST BE SERVED! We can NEVER stop blogging about ourselves! :D

  8. Caitlin, careful what you wish for! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!

  9. To me, this post is NBL. I can see my craft room expanding from the tote/coffee table it is now to a space organized neatly with projects just waiting for me.

  10. Whoa, whoa, whoa there, HG — “organized neatly”??? What kind of NBL are you talking about? :P

  11. HG, I was convinced we were going to have a nice, neatly organized stitching room in our basement and about 30 seconds after we moved in it was a mess, na’er to be cleaned up.

  12. I mean ‘organized neatly’ in relation to the tote/craft room/coffee table I have right now. I didn’t mean to scare you! Sheesh. To me, ‘organized neatly’ means many piles of projects. Key word: piles. Shelves schmelves, I say.

    Get my meaning? :P

  13. Oh, I’m so relieved to hear it, HG!

    Actually, I shocked myself earlier this year by actually putting my stash into a big plastic bin (thanks, almost-flooding basement!), so all my projects are actually in the same 2’x3′ space. Shocking!

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