I am halfway up the second sleeve of the Parley cardigan, with the first sleeve and body waiting to be joined together. To be honest, I would have probably finished it by now were it not for this --
which I was completely smitten with from the moment I saw it last summer, the Heriz carpet by Sue Bakker, in an old post at Open House Miniatures. Fortunately I was able to get hold of this chart as well as a few others of Bakker's, wh. pleases me greatly. I did find a number of errors here, both in the chart and the list of floss colors -- astonishingly, things like leaving off a digit -- but, yes, I am so pleased with the finished piece that I am willing to overlook them.
I fairly careened through this piece in my joy -- just a little over two weeks from start to finish -- so I did make quite a lot of mistakes, most of which I noticed before long, some of which have now become permanent, but I admit that this bothers me not a whit. I also made some deliberate variations in the serrations of the "leaves" in the border, just because I felt like it. I had noticed in the original photo that sometimes the edges around the lighter-red figures appeared to have a sort of golden shimmer to them, and so I theorized -- since I was already aware that the photo and the chart didn't always match, eh-hem -- that Bakker may have added a touch of gold to the edges, and so I tried that with the first pair of the little "flame" figures at the narrow end of the center panel, but this was more than a bit of bother, so I decided to skip it on the pair at the other end; as it happened, once the carpet was finished, I could see that in some lights the light-red figures seemed to have a golden edge to them even when I knew very well that they didn't, so apparently it is due to the surrounding colors, presumably reflections on the stitches causing an illusion of color bleed. Interesting! I did, though, shade the four blue "leaves" in the corners of the red medallion with the charted medium-blue blend around the edges, and an unblended (slightly lighter) blue in the middle, also an experiment in color shading -- very subtle, to be sure, and I'm not sure if it is really noticeable at all, though I suppose if I were making a museum piece (!) it would be worth it!
The colors are just gorgeous, really rich.
This actually looks a bit less messy in the photo than it does to me in real life, which I suppose is a good thing. Some petit-pointers can make the backs of their work look nearly as good as the front, but this is something I think I can only admire from a distance. I find it much easier to make the backs neater in wool, because of its "stickiness", though it is possible that I am too doubting and therefore leave the floss ends a bit long unnecessarily. I don't want to think that I can't be bothered to make it neater, either -- what good is it to improve one's skills on a craft if one's dedication goes only halfway? -- but on the other hand, it is the back of the piece, after all, and in a room setting will make not a jot of difference as long as the miniature carpet lies flat like a real one.
This carpet, by the way, is worked in half-cross stitch, which Bakker insists is better for miniature carpets than continental stitch, which as I already know is what other designers insist is best -- I suspect that this may have something to do with both the fiber being worked (wool or floss or silk), as Bakker seems to work entirely in floss, or on the individual stitcher, for surely just like with knitting each of us has a slightly different tension and way of working the individual stitches. I also didn't bother with basketweave stitch on the backgrounds here -- for one, yes there is a lot of background but it doesn't come in large patches, only in little fiddly bits, which doesn't seem to me to utilize the speed and non-warping property of basketweave much, and for another, I just didn't, no reason why, really.
This particular canvas is obviously heavily starched, as when I washed the piece most of the starch came out and it is now quite limp -- which is great for displaying as it lies very flat, but makes it tricky to fringe and hem, especially since it also means that the threads of the canvas don't adhere to each other at the crossing points any more, as they did while I was stitching -- you can see how they distort a bit at the points of the herringbone hem -- but on the bright side, it mitered just about perfectly! The long-legged cross-stitch edging has that nice habit of making the canvas fold along that line, so happily I didn't have to pull the hemming stitches very tight at all to get the turning to lie smoothly.
I also decided to let this carpet be a little more realistic than I have done with previous ones, and not block it with pins and a straight-edge. As you might expect from reading this blog the past year or so, I've been looking at images of real antique carpets quite a lot, as well as the miniature re-creations, and it is increasingly obvious to me that real ones can be pretty wonky.
Of course, I completely understand that some stitchers may far prefer the straight edges, and that is absolutely fine and admirable, of course. I would just like this house to look lived-in, and to be honest, in my own house that would certainly include things like wobbly carpet edges.
Here also is my first piece of homemade furniture for Hardy House -- the Arts & Crafts bed from Jane Harrop's Edwardian Era Miniatures in 1:12 Scale. David cut the wood for me, after I cut a few pieces and realized that I was kind of making a mess of it. I like to think I would have stuck with it if the wood were bass or something ordinary, but this is mahogany, said with that rather awestruck tone one reserves for things like diamonds or Lauren Bacall. You just don't want to mess up mahogany! But I did glue the whole thing myself, and its handsomeness is pretty much entirely due to the simplicity of the original piece and the well-designed miniature. Luckily the glue splodges are mostly on the back of the headboard; I still have a tendency to use too much glue, but as it happens, even though this is just Aleene's Tacky Glue it worked marvelously, so I will trust it a little more next time. The only "change" I made was to lightly sand all four upper edges of the post caps, which I think gives it a subtle realism.
The book recommended for this particular project to finish it with a simple beeswax, but while we were at Rockler for the wood, I found Tried & True's Original Finish, which is a blend of linseed oil and beeswax, and came highly recommended by the salesclerk. I used three coats here, letting it cure gently for a few days between each coat and buffing it well with a piece of old cloth. The third time I used 4/0 steel wool, which was also suggested by the finish instructions, but the steel wool shed so much that although I was willing to add a few more coats, I didn't know if I'd be leaving steel wool fibers behind to get stuck in the next coat, so I stopped. I think it looks pretty good even with "just" three coats, and it's wonderfully silky.
I didn't finish the mattress slats, not at all sure how long it will take for the finish to stop being just a little oily -- wh. I can't imagine would be good for the mattress or the bedclothes! -- but I couldn't help getting some finish on the slats anyway.
It occurred to me as I was putting this together that for a double bed it's a bit on the narrow side, but then again, the room is pretty small!