Wednesday, August 3

Well hello, Z for Zebra!

Of all our tapestries, the A-Z Animals designs present some real design challenges. For one thing, there aren't many squares/stitches to work with (only 96 each way) and each design has to encapsulate a feel good and timeless image of the letter depicted, and have equal appeal to boys and girls.

Last year I thought I'd finally managed to conquer 'Z for Zebra' (you can see part of the design for it in the first image, below). I even went so far as to have it stitched and photographed ready for its packaging label, but when it came to it I knew it wasn't good enough.

Knowing that some customers have been patiently waiting for a 'Z' kit for some time now, I returned to the original design many times earlier this year, foolishly thinking that I could tweak it and all would be well. No, there was nothing for it but to start again from scratch. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the stages as a design is built up.

To start us off, Z is for zigzag. In the original design, I had zigzags in the border. This time round I decided they'd look better behind the zebra itself. Here they are, set as a background to the zebra... 

Zigzags in place, it's time to add the zebra. The positioning of the animals is always key. I had to fit the zebra's head between the two Zs, and that determined the finished zebra's size.

Building the design now, and you see that turquoise border around the zebra? That's a little trick to stop the zebra disappearing into the background zigzags. Imagine the zebra without the blue, all his white stripes would merge in with the pale yellows and he wouldn't have a proper outline

Getting somewhere now, the zigzags are there and the zebra himself looks very settled and contented. Time to add more animals in the border because Z is also for zoo.

Now time to bring in some favourite zoo animals and birds - an elephant, a parrot, a frog and chamaeleon, soon to be joined by a monkey, lion, a flamingo and two penguins. Feeding the penguins was always a highlight of a trip to the zoo for my two boys when they were little, so we'll include some fish too.

After fiddling about with wool colours and stitching up a colour sample, finding two shades of yellow and a white for the zebra to look good together and don't all merge (or look too bright), it's time to send the new and improved Z for Zebra off to be stitched.

And here we have it, the final Z for Zebra. It's so much nicer now, I hope you agree! The original design had a red border but we believe that orange is much more on trend particularly when set into a smart grey border. 

And if you don't have a Zack, Zachary, Zac, Zara, Zane or Zebedee in your family but like the zebra theme? Either leave the initials out altogether, or stitch the initials that you need. Over the years we've seen the A-Z Animals stitched many times with alternative initials, it really doesn't matter!

Z for Zebra is now with our printer so we'll soon have some lovely printed canvases, and we're about to get his packaging printed too. We'll despatch all orders as soon as the canvases and wools arrive.

To find out about other new designs, please do sign up for our (roughly) monthly newsletter.

Wednesday, June 22

My finished tapestry. Does it need a mitred border?

On the Making Up Service area of our website at, we mention something called a mitred border. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, we've compiled some pictures to show you how a mitred border can literally add a bit extra to a finished tapestry.

A mitred border is a way of enlarging a small or medium sized tapestry by adding fabric around the edges. The border is the same size all around the tapestry - that's how we achieve those nice diagonals coming out from each corner of the tapestry. 

When talking on the phone to customers, we explain that it does the same thing as a mount does between a picture and its frame, if you think of the piping and backing of the tapestry as being the frame.

So, are there any particular designs that benefit from the mitred border treatment? African Tiles is an example of a design where the pattern continues right up to the edge. The mitred border brings out some of the colours in the design, and makes the cushion slightly larger too.

From the side view, African Tiles with denim blue mitred border and purple piping, both velvet.

In Susan's Pig Parade, the charcoal woolly border acts as a fantastic frame for her pigs:

A side view of Susan's piggies, with charcoal woolly border and backing, and mid  terracotta piping. 

More charcoal grey woolly fabric, this time for Edward's 'E for Elephant' cushion. Charcoal border with deep red piping. Designs the size of our A-Z Animals (approx 7.5" sq) are perfect for mitred border treatment.

Here, a Home and Heart starter tapestry is made into a cute cushion. Border in light green cotton with navy piping.

We make up tapestries with mitred borders most weeks, and many more pictures are in our Facebook albums. To find them, click through to our Facebook page then go to Photos. Once there, head to 'Albums' and you'll find one called 'Mitred Borders'.

We hope this solves a mystery for you! Give us a call, or send us an email, or message us on Facebook if you have other questions.

Happy stitching!


Tuesday, May 31

From starter tapestry kit to stunning cushion

There are times you need to stitch something special and possibly don't have time for a large project. That's where our starter tapestry kits come in! One weekend of stitching and you'll be ready to help welcome a new baby, celebrate a wedding, anniversary or big birthday with a unique and personal gift.

Each kit comes with a colour printed canvas of the 4"x4" design (10cm if you prefer), and eight skeins of Anchor tapestry wool, a needle and threader, instructions and an alphabet in case you'd like to personalise your finished masterpiece. With a 3" blank border around each design, there's lots of scope for showing off your creativity.

Here is a selection to inspire you, and there are lots more pictures on our Facebook page. Find our photos, and from there you can skip along to our 'Small Things Bright and Beautiful' album. 

Starting off with Laura's Dotty Heart, stitched for Elizabeth. Laura used wool from the kit for her centre panel and raided her stash of wool for her hearts border.

Laura's Dotty Heart made into a cushion, with purple woolly border and backing, and lime green piping.

Barbara's Home and Heart tapestry, using wools only from the kit. Gorgeous hearts border! Made into a cushion with dark red cotton border and teal piping.

Kathryn's Stars and Hearts tapestry, with asymmetrical border and Ailsa's name stitched below the design. Made into a cushion with red velvet border and purple piping.

Patricia's Butterfly tapestry, with striped border and name panel for Eliza May.

Made into a cushion with sandy yellow cotton border, pale red piping and light green backing.

A different look for Jean's Butterfly tapestry, made up in cerise velvet.

Jean's been busy! Mother Hen and Farmer Bear, each made up into cushions with 3" velvet borders. Purple for Mother Hen, and mid green for Farmer Bear.

How about getting us to turn your finished tapestry into a bag, as we did with Alice's Stars and Hearts tapestry? Looking wonderful in purple velvet.

To link your small cushions, especially if you're making them for siblings, we can make them up with a single colour on the front and another colour or perhaps a polka dot backing.

 Finally, who can resist an adorable owl! Little Owl tapestry with blue velvet border and golden yellow piping.

Happy stitching! 


Tuesday, April 26

Gardening? Dig out your tapestry first!

Summer is here! The gardens are going a bit mad, and it's holiday season. The schools are about to break up - it's all go!

Before the great outdoors starts to take up all of your time, we'd love it if you could stop and cast your mind back to any unfinished tapestries from last year or earlier this year that perhaps just need a few last stitches in them to finish them off. Is there a canvas that you proudly completed and put away at Christmas, fully intending to send in to us iearlier in the year for our Making up Service?

Now's the time to see if there are any tapestries that need our attention. The message is clear: never mind the beds, check your drawers

Dig out your latest tapestries and send them in to us and it's one less thing for you to think about later in the year. At this time of year when it's so warm we can often be really speedy when returning your masterpiece. Later on in the year everything takes longer, so...if you can, send them in now!

To inspire you, here are some lovely finished tapestries that we've sent home in recent months, starting with Seaside Sampler:

We loved Agnes's Seaside Sampler, which used left over pink wool from the beach hut for her name. We used pink velvet for the backing too. If you have a 'pink girl' in the family this is a great way to incorporate her favourite colour into a seaside design.

We never realised so many people tied the knot in February - but they do! Ann's Love Birds stitched for Linda and Patrick's wedding now has pride of place in their home.

Ann's Love Birds, with goldy yellow piping and backing:

It's great to see our new designs coming in for making up! Peter's Peacock Star had red velvet piping and chocolate brown backing.

We often say that you don't have to stitch a name on a kit that has a name panel. Nina demonstrated this beautifully with her Alphabet Owls and a line from the Wise Old Owl nursery rhyme.
So many personal touches, Nina changed part of the alphabet border to include oak leaves and stitched her name and the year of stitching below.

Daisy and Strawberry Cupcake tapestries, for Eva and Evie - both popular girls' names this year!

Grey is such a popular colour this year. We have three shades of grey in our wool blend fabrics. Here we have Magic Flowers showing off the pewter shade:

And with a totally different look, here's Nicola's Magic Flowers, with two contrast shades of velvet:

It's Christmas all year round in our tapestry world. Lily chose an Angels stocking for her Granny to stitch for her when they popped in to our workshop.

Time for tea? Carol and Kate's Afternoon Tea tapestries looked great with their blue backings. We have lots of blues in woolly, velvet and cotton fabrics. Give us a call if you need to request samples.

Jane's Love Birds, stitched for her own anniversary. Congratulations, Jane and Blaise!

When you send your tapestry in for making up, you have the option of choosing contrast piping. The contrast can be as strong or as subtle as you like, as demonstrated with Alphabet Ark and Hearts and Flowers below:

Happy Hearts continues to be popular as a stash-busting canvas. With Margaret's latest canvas she couldn't decide whether to go for teal border and red piping, or the other way round...

The other way round won! Red piping and backing with teal piping, in our cotton fabrics.

With weddings and anniversaries to stitch for, hearts are always a popular choice if you don't want to stitch something too 'weddingy'.

Jane's Jolly Hearts looks wonderful made up in three shades of cotton.

Give us a call if you need help in choosing fabrics for the piping and backing of your tapestry. We can often come to a decision over the phone, and are also happy to send out fabric samples so that you can try them against your work before sending it in. With three ranges of fabric: a wool blend, a heavy cotton and a cotton velvet, there are colours to suit all tastes. 

Enjoy your gardening...but please remember to check indoors, and finish off your tapestries when you have a break.


PS Remember to use a 'signed for' service when you post your parcels, and write your name and address on the reverse of your parcel if you'll be calling us to check that it's arrived safely. It's not unusual for us to have similar sized jiffy bags arriving on the same day!

Key words/tags: Angels, anniversary, birds, birds., Christmas, fabric, flowers, garden, gardening, grey, hearts, Love, owl, peacock, seaside, stocking, tapestry, wedding, Jolly, Hearts, canvas.

Tuesday, February 16

Buying a printed canvas on its own

Here's a question we are sometimes asked: Can I buy a Jolly Red tapestry canvas on its own? 

Answer: Quite simply, yes you can. We've been offering this as an option for a while now whenever regular customers call up and mention their yarn stashes. I certainly have sympathy for their situation as I have boxes full of part-used tapestry wool, which I regularly delve into when working on new tapestry designs. It's so handy to keep even the odd metre (or yard if you prefer), you never know when it will come in handy.

Ordering online

You can order a Jolly Red canvas on its own from our website. Just start to order the complete kit of your chosen design, then when you get to the checkout fill in your basic details - name, address, etc. You will see  a discount/coupon box. In this space enter the code canvasThe price of the kit will then be automatically halved and you will receive your canvas, for you to complete in colours of your choice so that you can use up your stash.

Of course, if you prefer you can phone us with your order and we'll do the maths!

We have recently added a Printed Canvas Only area on our website. No codes are needed to order one of those.

What exactly do I get?

If you order a canvas that doesn't need a name panel you will get the colour printed canvas only. If you order a canvas for a birth sampler or Christmas Stocking where there is normally a name panel to complete you will receive the colour printed canvas and the alphabet/lettering charts as would be included in the 'with wool' kit. 

What if I want to order a mix of full kits and canvas only kits?

Oops. Our current system does not allow for this, sorry! Our experience is that when customers want to buy a canvas on its own it's literally just the canvas that they want. Referring back to the beginning of this post, it's to help use up some of the wool stash that's built up over the years. 

I hope you'll find this useful. Please do get in touch if you have any comments. If you have lots of leftover wool you might be wondering which design to go for. From previous conversations with Jolly Redders I'd recommend designs such as Magic Circles or Jolly Hearts which are quite patterned so you don't need lots of skeins of one single shade.

Here are some 'own colours' customer masterpieces from our archives, starting with Magic Circles:

Noah's Christmas and Christmas Alphabet Stockings, about to head off to Australia:

Another Magic Circles:

And finally, a lovely Home Sweet Home:

Have fun, and happy stitching!