Monday, November 23, 2015

My Review of Ho Ho Ho Santa Beaded and Buttoned Cross-Stitch Kit From Mill Hill

There is nothing I find more relaxing than cross-stitching.  Given that I've been blogging about my cross-stitch projects for years now it should come as no surprise that I created another Christmas cross-stitch.  This time I decided to do Ho Ho Ho Santa - Cross Stitch Kit from Mill Hill that had a lot of the background unfinished.

The Ho Ho Ho Santa - Cross Stitch Kit pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and beaded half stitch as well as beads of various sizes for emphasis and depth. The pattern also calls for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background. In this case they were leaving sections of the brown perforated paper background untouched.

I decided to frame my finished cross-stitch picture in the Mill Hill Wooden Frame, 6 by 6-Inch, Holiday Red, which is shown in the picture above.  It's a 6" x 6" handpainted red wooden frame without glass.  Unlike the shadowbox frames I had been using more of the perforated paper would be seen surrounding the cross-stitch picture.

The pattern called for a Pine Bough Black Folk Art Frame green frame and certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background like the picture shown below:

However, I don't like seeing the different perforated sections in the background and since a lot more of it would be exposed with this kit and frame I opted instead to finish all of the background.  This time I decided to finish the inside square background, background behind the white decorative stitching on the top and bottom of the picture, two rows to the right of the lamp post and two rows to the left of the picture just before the garland with two strands of DMC brown embroidery floss #420 sewn as a half cross-stitch.

I had decided to square the edges of my picture and decided to create a contrast in the mat area next to the frame as I didn't want to finish this with brown embroidery floss.  So I combined single strands of DMC embroidery gloss #16021 and #505 together and sewed them as a half cross-stitch using the two strands of floss. I stitched several rows of the green combination floss around all the edges to make sure the perforated paper would not be visible once my cross stitch picture was inserted into the wooden frame.

I also decided to once again utilize the rectangular wood frame jig that my darling husband built for me that I could tape the edges of my perforated paper to. The wood frame jig is a rectangular embroidery hoop of sorts, but without bending the perforated paper. He had made it out of 1/2" x 1" pine wood strips with an adjustable center strip that I used for this 5 x 5 square design.

I wasn't happy with the way the street lantern was going to be finished so I decided to add a half cross stitch to the background behind the street lantern and used 2 strands of white DMC embroidery floss for this.

I had learned from previous mistakes that I needed to draw diagonal lines to locate the exact center of the perforated paper and also drew diagonal lines across each corner of the pattern to get the center point as well.

While the end results of this design were wonderful some things in the kit and in the instructions could be improved upon so I'd like to offer the following constructive suggestions:

The cross-stitch chart was in black and white as was the floss color code and symbol key. Both were easy to read and very clear. While I had no problem with the chart and keys I did have a problem with the way the DMC floss was presented. All of the floss was tied together in one big knot so you had to separate the floss pieces yourself, sort them, and try to interpret which color belonged to which floss # and symbol key on the color chart. If you only have a few colors to deal with this isn't a problem. However, if you have several different colors to choose from that are close in color then interpreting the chart can be tricky. You may assign the wrong color to the wrong symbol if the colors are too closely aligned.

As I have done with other cross-stitch kits I've completed I had to design my own thread color sorter and symbol key. I took a piece of thin cardboard and cut a 1" x 9" long rectangular piece out to use as a thread sorter. I then punched 11 holes in my cardboard strip in which to tie each of the different colors. Just above the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and just below the hole I added the respective cross-stitch symbol. I then inserted the floss threads that went with that # and symbol through the hole and tied them in a loose knot. This kit could be much improved if a thread sorter with respective #'s and symbols was provided.

The kit included a small gold bell and two buttons - a present and a star.  The gold was fine.  The two buttons were okay except they were each glued to a small piece of cardboard which did not easily come off and the glue used had hardened and extended over the sides of the button.  It was very difficult to cut with scissors it was so hard. I managed to make it presentable enough to use in my picture. I have found over time that the buttons used in the Mill Hill cross-stitch kits are usually of poor quality and the worst parts of the kits. Sometimes I use them sometimes I don't.

The wooden frame came with a 6" x 6" cardboard mounting board for the picture but had no back so I I decided to cut a 6" x 6" white foam board as filler for the back. I also cut a piece of heavy decorative paper and taped it to the back of the picture with double sided tape to finish the back of the frame.  The frame could be hung as a picture or stand with an enclosed dowel peg used as an easel and I opted for the latter.

My results with the totally finished background, square edges, and red frame is shown below:

Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was happy with the way my Ho Ho Ho Santa turned out.

It took me 24 hours to complete this picture including the framing. As always, my comments are meant to be constructive to enable future purchasers to benefit from my experience and to enhance their ability to create a wonderful little cross-stitch design.

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