I am not a big celebrator of Halloween, despite my love of cosplay… or maybe because of it? I don’t know. It could also be from the fact that I am severely allergic to nuts (we are talking quite literally off the scale here). So when I was a little girl, I’d go trick-or-treating and then have to throw away like 90% of the candy. Then we moved out to the country where our nearest neighbor is my grandmother and even that is a 5 minute hike up hill in the cold. Because I’m from Colorado. And it usually snows on Halloween. Mom would always take us to buy huge bags of the candy we could eat on November 1st anyway, so that was a consolation prize.
Since today is Halloween, I figured it would be a perfect day to talk about Whacky Witches, my first truly seasonal piece!
I joined the Stitching Pirates Halloween SAL because I like doing things with a group. I enjoyed the Speed Stitch earlier in the year, and this pattern seemed really cute! So on August 15 I had my needles ready, my fabric gridded, and was ready to start on the journey!
This photo was taken before August. As you can see, I chose a Spiderman binder to contain the pattern. I use 1-inch three ring binders for all my projects (thus far) and I put a bit of thought into them. I chose Spiderman because I had chosen Avengers for the Speed Stitch and why stop the superhero trend? The other thing you might notice is that fabric in the upper right corner is not the fabric I ultimately decided to use.
I started out thinking I would do gridding, because I liked how that worked on my other project. So about a month before start date, I pulled out the 40ct. fabric and started trying to grid. I found that counting it was incredibly difficult and headache inducing. I realized I didn’t really want to work on that size for this project, so I put it away and ordered 32ct. Mirage from PictureThisPlus, which was the recommended fabric.
I stated this pattern in the middle, which is still how I like to start my patterns. My original goal was to do a “block” a week over 9 weeks. I managed to get this far in that first week:
It wasn’t quite the full block. This center block probably had the most “going” on of any of the blocks.
However, this is where I first started to notice some problems. The fabric was pretty dark, and one of my greys matched it quite well. I think if I could do this again, I might pick a different fabric or a different dark grey. Maybe go a little darker?
But onwards I continued, to week two!
This week saw me put in lots of pretty stuff, especially that outer border. I loved the swirls and it was something I looked forward to on each piece. I was very tempted to just do the entire border before doing any of the internal bits. I was also tempted to put in all the straight/crooked lines that separated the blocks in at the beginning as well. I decided to stick with my original plan and work up to the next block (upper right).
It was at this point that I also decided to take pictures of each block as I finished them as well as the weekly updates. But Block 3 was my first encounter with Mr. Frog:
See, I was working this over 2, so counting was a lot more difficult than it is on my aida projects. I do try to avoid counting very much on linen as a general rule (yay gridding) but I had been doing quite well. All the little pieces were close enough that it was difficult to miscount. That changed with the ghost.
I had the first case of a major miscount. In this case, the upper half was one whole block to the left. As usual I didn’t discover it until I started filling in the black and tongue. So it had to get pulled and put back in. This was just the first time Mr. Frog visited. He came back with a vengeance in Block 4 (lower right corner).
See all that beautiful brown counter? Yeah… my original version had the whole thing shifted to the left by one. I admit, this was my problem. I misread the pattern and thought it came down straight from the edge of the purple counter instead of one back. Things weren’t lining up when I was counting one of the other little pieces and I was quite frustrated to have to rip out so much. My mom said I shouldn’t do it, but I’m glad I decided to do it. It would not have been as close to the border as it was.
And I didn’t want to try and figure out how to rechart the candy corn and mouse assistant. Honestly, this was where I had real problems with the difference between the grey fabric and the grey mouse. He is very hard to see, and from a distance almost looks like a floating hat with pink and black squares. This block also had a lot of color changes, but was actually super fun to stitch. It was a great example of how each little section seemed to build on the next.
And each piece felt like a mini finish. I will say, I usually did the eyes before the face because if you did the skin color around the eyes first, it actually looked really creepy. I suppose that was fitting for a Halloween Pattern?
I decided I was going to finish each block in columns instead of working around in a circle. I did that because I didn’t want to keep crushing stitches in the hand holding the hoop. So Block 5 was the lower center piece:
Or the dance number as I liked to call it. I don’t actually think this one had any major problems, but I had fallen behind in Block 4 because of Mr. Frog and so this one took longer than I thought. I believe it almost took two weeks. At least one and a half.
It was a lot of fun to do, and the backstitching went alright. I still don’t like backstitching and it almost seemed to get swallowed by my stitches when put across solid stitching (as it would be in the line in the stitches. I think if I really were going to do this again, I’d drop several of them to go across the bulk of stitches.
Block 7 and 8 saw me return to the top and finish up the lettering. This one actually gave me some trouble because, believe it or not, that eyeball ‘O’ was actually quite large. The outer border and the single bits inside were not a problem. It was all that white. I had difficulty not getting lines to show up. I finally ended up doing it in halves with feathering, which thankfully worked. I do love this little lab accident section and think the bat was just super duper cute!
It was at this point, I have to say, my needle was starting to itch to work into something else. Maybe something with less counting of open spaces. But I pushed on because I was still behind and wanted to make sure I got this done for Halloween. So it was onto the Halloweentown bus stop for the next bit.
I will say, please forgive me for the bad pictures. I usually took these right after I finished the block. Since I was behind, this was usually at work and I was about to start the next piece of the pattern. So it was take a picture, move on. I am convinced that this block was based on Halloweentown because how could it not be? I mean, a bunch of monsters at a bus stop with a black cat?
Even if it is unintentional, it was a good choice. I did not actually watch Halloweentown while working on it, but I fondly thought about it while humming “This is Halloween” the entire time. My coworkers were getting annoyed. But the end was in sight as I moved on down to the center once more in the penultimate Block 8.
See the bright red owl? His name is Artie. I liked stitching Artie. Actually, I really liked this one. This was stitched differently than the other blocks though. Normally I worked either up from the straight-line border or down from it. In this case, I worked from the right with the greens than up the tree, stitching where the tree met things like clouds and Artie. It was a different way to work and I enjoyed it very much. This was was just about finished on time, which surprised me as I thought the tree took forever to stitch.
Block 9 was actually really hard to start. I have this thing where when the end is in sight, I tend to want to move onto the next project. I start thinking about it. Dreaming about it. Kitting it up and gridding it. In fact, I had it in my car and ready to go since mid-September. (Effects of Caffeine). I was missing working on a HAED or even Belle.
I pushed through though. And here, well, there was a bit of a problem. Another cursed miscount. This time, I did not frog it out because too much was done and you know what, it looked fine anyway. I think a few of the stars are misaligned, but everything else turned out ok. Also, this is Athena the owl. Yes, I named the owls. She is much older and wiser than Artie which is why she is flying over the zombie-filled graveyard instead of hiding in a tree nearby.
This pattern was a lot of firsts. It was quite large and had a lot of open space for linen. most of the linen I had worked on before (DaVinci Collie and Belle) were mostly solid stitching. That meant I didn’t have to count as much because I could switch colors (or grid) and have stitching be far less likely to be off by much. I did like the challenge of keeping in mind that counting stitches when working over two is not counting holes.
It was fun, it was frustrating. There were several times when I wanted to just throw it into a heap and forget it. But overall, I really really enjoyed this pattern and will definitely be doing more by Cloudsfactory. Until next time!
Stay sane and don’t die!