Wednesday, January 06, 2016

My Review of Frosty Snowman Beaded and Buttoned Cross-Stitch Kit From Mill Hill #MH14-1304

I was not someone who was hoping for a white Christmas. In fact, given the horrendous snow season we had last winter, I was hoping we'd have a mild winter and maybe even - no snow! Unfortunately Mother Nature was not cooperative. We had our first horrible snow storm last Tuesday and, horrible it was! There was only 4 inches of it, but it was heavy and wet. It was like trying to move concrete. Impossible to push. Needless to say, hubby and I were not happy campers.

Given how much we dislike snow you would think I wouldn't like crafting snowman or snow ladies. Au contraire! I love crafting snowman and snow ladies. Go figure!

So, when deciding what cross-stitch kits I wanted to make this year I decided to do one with a snowman.  This time I decided to do Mill Hill Frosty Snowman Winter Buttons and Beads Counted Cross Stitch Kit, 5 by 5-Inch

The Mill Hill Frosty Snowman Winter Buttons and Beads Counted Cross Stitch Kit, 5 by 5-Inch pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and beaded half stitch as well as beads of various sizes for emphasis and depth. It also uses straight and Smyrna stitch for highlighting and emphasis. 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 navy blue perforated paper background untouched.

I decided to frame my finished cross-stitch picture using a Mill Hill wooden frame with snowflakes on it versus the Mill Hill Wooden Frame, 6 by 6-Inch, Matte Blue that was shown in the pattern picture. My frame is a 6" x 6" handpainted blue wooden frame painted with snowflakes but 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 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. I thought a background of navy blue embroidery floss would really enhance this picture so I finished the inside square background with two strands of DMC navy blue embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch and the area surrounding the square with two strands of DMC navy blue embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch.

The pattern also called for a single white strand of embroidery floss to be used for the straight and Smyrna stitching on the snowflakes. I opted instead to use two strands of the white embroidery floss for the straight stitching and Smyrna stitching as I wanted the snowflakes to stand out a little more.

I didn't realize until I was writing this blog post that I actually had made a big mistake on my snowman's cross-stitch.  I had forgotten to embroider his mouth and eyebrows with one strand of gray embroidery floss. As I'd already glued my cross-stitch to it's backing I couldn't correct this with a cross stitch. I could lightly draw this in, but I wasn't sure I would like that result. The ink might run on the embroidery floss. So, my snowman does not have a mouth or eyebrows. I should have known better and done a final check before gluing.

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 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 10 holes in my cardboard strip in which to tie each of the different colors. Just above the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and & 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.

This kit came with two envelopes of beads. Usually there are plenty of beads left over.  This time I thought for sure I was going to run out of the orange beads. I ended up with only one to spare.  Good thing I didn't lose any.  They should have supplied a few extra orange beads.

The kit included a small star. The button was okay except it was 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 decorative frame is shown below:

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

It took me 36 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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