Lately I've been feeling a bit uninspired with all things crafty. I am between crochet projects and can't settle on what my next one will be; I started a blanket for Angus three times and then unraveled it and my sewing machine sits in the cupboard under the stairs, dusty and very possibly in need of a service. I need space - head space and physical space - to start any project on the sewing machine and I don't have either of those at the moment. It seems that all I want to do is cross stitch, and I don't really know why. Well, it is incredibly soothing.
Work on the kitchen limps along, grumpily. We've had a few set backs which mean that nothing has happened for the last week or two and that's been incredibly frustrating, but hopefully they will be resolved this week and things will start to come together. We really are only waiting for two things to happen - the cooker to be fitted and connected, and the floor laid.
This disruption makes me feel fed up and not at all creative or inclined to make anything lovely, but out of no-where I became obsessed with the idea of cross stitching some Orla Kiely-inspired napkins. I have always loved her very well known multi-stem pattern (and don't appear to have tired of it yet) and I thought it would be fun to stitch. I plotted out the pattern on some graph paper, chose some of my favourite colours, imagined using them in our new kitchen, and off I went.
I stitched the blue, pink and yellow ones first and was going to sew the last napkin in grey, but at the last minute changed my mind and the colours. I love it, it's my favourite.
Now, cross stitching onto such closely-woven cotton would've sent me mad but I had heard of a product I wanted to try called Soluble Canvas. It's like aida but disappears when it's wet, leaving the perfectly spaced stitches on the fabric. It's amazing - you could cross stitch onto virtually any fabric with this stuff without giving yourself major eye strain. I chose a set of four white cotton napkins but I could get pretty excited about the thought of cross stitching onto sheets, pillowcases, jumpers or cardigans, just for starters.
It's really easy. First, cut a piece of the soluble canvas to roughly the size you need and baste it in place on your chosen fabric with running stitches.
It looks and feels like plastic; a little stiff, but bendable enough to work with. Stitch as you would normally, following your pattern.
When you've finished your work, unpick the running stitches and snip the canvas as close to the cross stitch as you safely can.
Then, following the instructions on the packet, immerse the fabric in a bowl of warm, soapy water for five minutes or so, swooshing it around once of twice. When you pull it out, the canvas has completely vanished. It's weird. It's like it's melted. Rinse the fabric with warm water then leave it to dry.
Then, if you are so inclined, iron it, although take care to iron the embroidered stitches on the reverse or else you'll crush all that lovely texture. I do think they look better ironed
I deliberately positioned the stem slightly into the centre of the napkin, rather than in the corner, so that it looks as nice folded as it does laid out on your lap.
And yes, they are to be used, or else what's the point? I deliberately chose a fabric that would launder well and could withstand a very hot wash if necessary, and I know from previous experience that brands of thread like DMC or Anchor are colourfast.
Now I just need a working cooker, a huge pot of spaghetti with ragu sauce and that napkin tucked into my collar ready to be splattered in sauce. And a glass or red wine.