Categotry Archives: colors

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New Series Announcement!

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Categories: A Blue and Silver Christmas, Christmas, colors, cross stitch, new releases, winter

What better way to introduce a new series than through a series of posts about color?  Especially considering the theme I chose for my ornament series.  Here are a few sneak peeks.  Can you guess the color theme?

sneak peek

sneak peek

 

Introducing my new ornament series … A Blue and Silver Christmas.  There are twelve total designs – the first six will be released next week, with the remaining six ornaments being released at the beginning of October.

 

A Blue and Silver Christmas

The first to be released are Firs, Bows & Ribbons, Shine, Twinkle, Snow Fall and Noel Wreath.

Firs

Bows and Ribbons

Shine

Twinkle

Snowfall

Noel Wreath

I have a few things to say about this series and my ideas and thoughts behind it.  I hope you will continue reading and see all the possibilities I envisioned when designing this series.

When I first conceived the idea for A Blue and Silver Christmas, I was hoping for an ornament series which wasn’t as blatantly Christmas-themed, so they could then be possibly used throughout the winter season.  My other thought was to create an ornament series which could be color customized, since I used very few colors in these designs.  This makes it easy to change up the color scheme without being intimidated by a large color palette.  I chose a blue/silver color scheme so these could be displayed all winter but you may choose another color scheme to make them more Christmas oriented.  In keeping with the blue/silver theme, I used opalescent linen as well as metallic threads and beads to give it that extra sparkle.  However, the use of these items is not necessary.  In the cases where metallic threads were used, they were blended with a DMC floss so you can choose to use strictly DMC instead.  French/colonial knots or even full cross stitches can be substituted for the beads.

Just for fun, I stitched up two ornaments using other colorways to see what would happen.  This will give you an idea of what you could possibly do in choosing alternate colorways.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  The beauty of stitching ornaments is that they are small pieces so if you don’t like your choices, you don’t have to feel as if you invested a lot of time in a “mistake”.  In my original designs, I used five DMC flosses – two “silvers” and three “blues”.  In the following example, I stitched “Bows and Ribbons” with a red/gold colorway – I used DMC 729 and 167 (gold tones) to substitute for the silvers and DMC 321 and 498 (red tones) to substitute for the blues.  In the original design, the bow is stitched with a blue DMC floss and a blue metallic floss (blended).  Instead of stitching the bow this way, I changed it up a bit and stitched the gold stripes on the package with a combination of gold metallic floss and a gold DMC.  The only reason for this is that I did not have red metallic floss on hand.  You could certainly keep it like the original design and stitch the bow with metallic floss.  Instead of white opalescent linen, I used “Dirty” linen by Zweigart.  Any beige-y neutral would work for a red/gold color scheme.

Bows and Ribbons - Red and Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this next example, I stitched “Firs” with a green/gold colorway.  I used DMC 729 and 167 (gold tones) to substitute for the silvers and DMC 936 and 937 (green tones) to substitute for the blues.  In this ornament, I also changed it up from the original a little bit.  In addition to using metallic floss for the box around the word “firs”, I also used metallic floss for one of the trees.  Again, I used the “Dirty” linen.

Firs - Green and Gold

Purple/silver is another colorway which would work beautifully for this series.  I substituted purple for blue in my designing software and loved how it looked.  How about using a pale blue linen for this color scheme or even a gray?  Red/silver is maybe not an obvious choice but it also works well.  Keep in mind that one particular colorway may not work throughout the whole ornament series.  For example, “Silver Bells” may look strange in a green/gold colorway since your bells will be gold instead of silver.  You could stitch half of the ornaments using one colorway and the other half with different choices.

Purple-silver colorway

 

Red-Silver colorway

Have fun, be creative!  That was my goal in designing this series, to possibly embolden stitchers to change colors from an original design.  Ornaments are perfect for experimenting as they are small and not as intimidating as a large piece.  Make it your own and be bold in your experimentation.  I would love to see your alternative choices if you decide to go that route.

I’d like to thank my sister, Valerie Leith, for her beautiful finishing work.  Also, I’d like to thank Honeybee at The Copper Fox, as her beautiful blog and tutorials provided inspiration for Val’s finishing work, as well as endless cross stitching inspiration to me as well.

Also set to be released next week is It’s Crunch Time.  This piece was stitched on 32-ct. Creme Brulee by R&R Reproductions (32-ct. Light Mocha from Zweigart is a good substitution) with DMC threads and one Gentle Arts thread (Autumn Leaves).

It's Crunch Time

Happy stitching!

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What’s Your Favorite Color?

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Categories: colors, DMC

It’s one of the first questions we get asked as a child and one we probably ask others often as adults:  what’s your favorite color?  Knowing someone’s favorite color may tell you a bit about that person’s personality.  I found this infograph very interesting.  My favorite color is purple.  It wasn’t always purple, though.  For years, it was blue.  At some point, I changed my mind and converted to purple.  That seems to be how it is with me.  I’m quite fickle in my likes/dislikes.  I guess I should state that up front before you read this post.  All my “favorites” of today may be quite different a year from now.  So take everything I say with a grain of salt and read it in the spirit of pure entertainment.

Let’s have fun with color.  Go grab your floss boxes, bags, and organizational systems and play a color game with me.  The question?  What’s your favorite color?  More specifically, what’s your favorite floss color (name/number) in each one of the color groupings?  I’ll share mine with you and I’m certainly hoping you’ll share yours with me.  You don’t even have to choose a favorite from every color group – it would be just as fun if you shared your favorite blue, for example.  This activity shouldn’t take a lot of time.  Peruse all the blues you have and quickly decide.  The longer you think about it, the more indecisive you will be.  Choose quickly – you’ll instinctively know which one is your favorite.  If you do this for every color, you may start to see your color preferences.  Maybe you already know them and choosing colors will confirm it for you.  As you will see, it became obvious what my preferences were as I made my choices.

(Disclaimer:  I took all these photos outside in the shade so the lighting is not the best, but you get the idea.  It was a hot day; my only excuse.  Well, that, and the fact that I was too lazy to drag out my Still Life Studio box.)

For all of my color choices, I photographed them in rainbow order (remember Mr. Roy G. Biv?), with the outliers (browns, pinks, etc.) at the end.

I decided to start with silks.  I have a limited amount of silks and most of them are from Classic Colorworks as I got a great deal on them through a liquidation sale a few years ago.  I do not have the complete palette so my choices were just made from the colors I do have.  And the winners…

Red:  Tulip

Orange:  Lasagna

Yellow:  Tie between Cake and Her Crowne

Green:  Miss Green Jeans

Blue:  Blue Lagoon

Purple:  Elegant Eggplant

Pink:  Rose of Sharon

Brown:  Teddy Bear

*Favorite overall variegated silk:  Golden Oak

Favorite silks

Moving on to DMC.  If you have a color card, this will be really easy since they’re grouped by color.

Red:  817

Orange:  720

Yellow:  3820

Green:  905

Blue:  158

Purple:  Tie between 154 and 3834

Brown:  780

Pink:  3712

Blue/Green:  3809

*3886 deserves an honorable mention in the purple category.

Favorite DMC

For the over-dyed flosses, I am choosing my favorite colors from The Gentle Art line of threads, simply because I do have a complete palette.

Red:  Buckeye Scarlet

Orange:  Tomato

Yellow:  Tie between Gold Leaf/Butternut Squash

Green:  Piney Woods

Blue:  Presidential Blue

Purple:  Grape Arbor

Brown:  Tie between Cinnamon/Gingersnap

Pink:  Antique Rose

Favorite variegated color:  Vintage Lace

favorite over dyeds

Favorite over dyeds

I think it’s fairly obvious that my preferences lean towards darker, bold colors.  More jewel tones instead of pastels and muted tones.

Please share your favorite colors in your floss collection/s!

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Thoughts About DMC Conversions … My Perspective

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Categories: colors, cross stitch, DMC

When I design a piece, I have a vision for the colors, the overall look, the flow of the piece.  If it is a more contemporary design, I will choose bright and bold colors.  If the piece has more of a classic kind of feel, I may choose more muted tones.  There is a lot of thought that goes into designing, and even after a piece has been designed, much time can be spent pulling together the flosses and fabrics.  All of this before the first stitch is even laid.

Years ago, I received some advice from a shop owner.  She recommended that I always include a DMC alternate listing on my charts, if I chose to design with any other flosses and/or silks.  She shared that many of her customers only stitched with DMC and to sell more charts, I really should include a conversion.  At the time, it didn’t seem like such a large task.  Prior to beginning designing, in my private stitching life, I would use recommended flosses on charts or make minor adjustments here and there.  When I first started stitching, DMC was one of the only choices in floss.  It has only been in the past 15 years or so that we have seen an explosion in the choices we have, from over-dyed flosses to linens, with little cottage industries popping up everywhere.  So, I took her advice and from the very beginning, included a DMC conversion on my charts.

I soon realized this process of listing alternatives could take some time.  To do a true conversion is actually a two-step process.  The first step is to pull out the DMC color card (the one that includes real thread samples) and try to match color-for-color.  I do my best in this regard but it can sometimes be very difficult (if not impossible) to choose the color which is the closest match.  If I have used a variegated floss, I may choose two DMC colors which best represent the floss I originally used.  The second step would be to then gather the DMC colors together as a whole and see how well they play with one another.  Since it is difficult to get a color-for-color alternate for every thread used, the DMC colors which were chosen may not work well together.  This means additional time in finding colors that do complement one another.  After this, one may realize the fabric does not work for those particular colors.  So perhaps the fabric choice has to be changed.  By the time this process is over, it is soon obvious to see that by now, things have changed from the original design, creating a finished product that didn’t look at all like the product I had designed.  As a designer, this was frustrating.  I had envisioned the piece in a very clear way and I was taking my design and giving recommendations for changes which I personally did not like or perhaps did not even work.

All of this takes time, time which I do not have, so because of this, what I am doing is not a true conversion on my charts.  All I am doing is simply listing the DMC matches, color-for-color, as best as I can.  This means that perhaps the DMC matches will not work together as a whole and that perhaps the matches will not look good with my recommended fabric.  If you choose to use the conversion, then whether or not the conversion actually “works” is for you, the stitcher, to decide.  Perhaps after gathering all of the DMC colors and fabric together, you will need to make adjustments so that all of the threads go well together.

So, let’s use all the information you have just read in a real-life situation.  I will use one of my recent releases, Lilacs, as an example.

Before beginning to stitch Lilacs, I knew I wanted a delicate look, so I opted to use a higher-count linen.  When I use a higher-count linen, such as 40-count, it is natural for me to choose silks to work with.  I admit I have a bias towards silks.  I love the feel, I love the look.  I pulled most of the colors from the silks I already had but could not find one of the purples I was envisioning in my head.  I went to my LNS and searched through all the silks before finding the perfect choice, Wash Out Grape (The Thread Gatherer, Silk ‘N Colors).  When I started matching my silks to the DMC card in an attempt at finding an alternate, I found there is absolutely no comparable DMC for Wash Out Grape.  I stated this fact on my chart.  I debated what to do but could not, in clear conscience, list a DMC match when there was none.  So, on this particular chart, there are DMC alternates listed for all the colors except for Wash Out Grape.  This may be frustrating to some of you but I had no other choice.

color comparisons

color comparisons

If you are stitching from a chart and choose to use the alternates, your finished product will probably not resemble the stitched model.  In some cases, this can be a wonderful thing.  I have seen carefully thought-out color conversions which are absolutely stunning, some more beautiful than the original colors used by the designer – this is what I call “artistic license.”  But true color conversions take some thought.  If you just use the alternates recommended on the chart, you most likely will not get the same results.  Some over-dyed flosses match exactly with a DMC floss, others do not.  Sometimes (as I found with Wash Out Grape) there is absolutely no match.

The same is to be said for conversions between fabrics.  If you do not use the recommended fabric, you will not get the same results.  Again, this can be perfectly okay and in some cases, you may find a more suitable fabric or one that is more pleasing to your eye.

And, in the case of over-dyed flosses and fabrics, dye lots vary greatly so the floss I used in my model may be very different from the (same color) floss you use when stitching your piece.  You may have two flosses which *say* they are the same color when in reality, they are very different.  I pulled three examples to prove my point.  These were quickly photographed in the shade outside but it’s still obvious to see the differences in color.

Vintage Lace

Burnt Orange

Buckeye Scarlet

Then there are the actual physical differences between threads such as silks and cottons.  Sheen, coverage and texture are three differences which come to my mind.

To further illustrate this point, try comparing a red Crayola crayon with a red Rose Art crayon.  Not only are they not the same red, they color differently.  And even that red Crayola will color differently, depending on whether you are coloring on regular paper, cardboard, glossy paper or newspaper.  I could take my crayons and color a picture.  Someone may admire my color choices and wish to recreate it but they may use different crayons or paper or even another medium, such as markers or colored pencils.  Therefore, our end results will not be the same.

I realize a DMC conversion is useful for some of you, as you choose to use DMC and DMC only, from the perspective of personal taste and/or budget considerations.  But I just do not have the time to do a true conversion.  I am designing what I love, using the flosses and fabrics that I love, and if that does not correlate to what you love, that is perfectly fine.  It’s a big stitching world out there and there are lots of designers and lots of stitchers and what makes our stitching world such a beautiful place is all the diversity we find within.  Some of us are DMC only stitchers.  Some of us are Aida only stitchers.  Some prefer silks, some prefer over-dyed flosses.  Some prefer linens, some prefer  28-count, some prefer 40-count, some are comfortable using any medium.  In a world of such variety, it is difficult if not downright impossible to please everyone from a designing perspective.  This does not mean I do not hold customer service highly – I do.  But in this area, the area of DMC alternates, I fully realize some people may be unhappy with my choices.  And again, that’s okay – we are all free to make whatever choices we wish in our world of stitching.

One more word regarding the pictures on charts…

I have invested in a very good camera.  So when taking photographs of a stitched model, I can take a picture that is more true-to-color, by adjusting settings, lighting, etc.  You will see that picture on my website.  I do my best to make the photograph an almost exact match to the model.  However, the actual chart is another matter.  It’s in the printing process that the colors in a photograph can be corrupted.  I have invested in a very good printer.  As difficult as it is to take a photograph that matches the stitched model, it is even more difficult to keep the photograph true through the printing process, especially when printing to paper or card stock.  You can have the best printer in the entire world and still find it difficult to get a true replication of the stitched model.  I have heard countless times how the “picture on the chart looks different than the flosses/fabric do in real life”.  That can be true.  Again, it is an extremely difficult process.

Many of us have small cottage businesses, working out of our homes and printing everything ourselves.  However, even those designers who have been in business for years and can afford to use professional printing services still have the same problems.  Recently, I proved this for myself out of curiosity.  I took several charts I already own from several very well-known designers, who use professional printing services and perhaps even professional photography services.  I compared the picture on the chart with the recommended fabric and floss (in very good lighting) and there were differences between the colors from the chart to the real life materials.  I pulled the suggested DMC alternates and could tell some adjustments would have to be made in order to make them all coordinate together.  I am not sharing this as a criticism at all.  It’s difficult for all of us, no matter how much money we spend in the photographing/printing.

Take heart.  Conversions and changing colors are not as difficult as you think.  There are so many resources available to help you.  Get yourself a DMC color card (the ones with the actual floss samples inside are the best).  You will use it much more than you think.  Deb at Stitches ‘N Things has made several conversion charts which are so helpful.  She has added another one here.  And I found some more, here and here.  As stitchers, we are so fortunate to have all the many internet resources which are available to us.  It makes conversions and comparisons that much easier.

Thank you for reading my thoughts on this topic.  I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

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Seeing the World in DMC Color

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Categories: colors, DMC, nature

I’ve had this idea swirling around in my head for a very long time … years, actually.  It started one spring while I was studying my beloved lilacs.  As I admired their color, a question popped into my head – “which DMC shade best matches these sweet little flowers?”  (I still don’t know)  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has thought such a thing.  One thing led to another and I started wondering about all sorts of flora and fauna around the property, and their corresponding DMC shades.  But for some reason, I shelved the idea for another time, although I did write a note down to remember it, thinking that someday, I would traipse around the property, matching God-made things to DMC colors.  Today is the day!

I have to confess I had a whole lot of fun doing this but some would say I am easily amused.  I took a small notebook, pencil, and DMC color card outside to begin.

colors in nature

A creative world it is.

I walked around the property, trying to choose things which were not as variegated, although much variegation exists in nature.  I could have pulled out all my over-dyed flosses and silks for extra help but really just wanted to stick to DMC for this adventure.  As you will see, I couldn’t help myself and did choose some plants which had variegation.

As I studied each plant, I quickly realized this was no easy task.  Given the extensive color palette of the DMC line, one would think there should be a color for every plant out there.  Wrong.  I would say for most of the plants, there was no perfectly matching color.  The greens were the hardest.  I gave up on the mint.  No surprise that mint would prove difficult (the mint is my mortal foe in general – I shall write a post about our epic battles one day).

After writing down all my matches, I pulled out the corresponding flosses, set out with my camera and captured my choices for all of you to see.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Phlox (I was only going for a match for the outer part of the petals), 3609:

phlox

Tickweed, 444:

tickweed

Forsythia leaves (not a great match at all, but the best I could do), 3346:

forsythia leaves

Queen Anne’s lace, 3865:

queen anne's lace

Black-eyed Susan, 972:

black-eyed susan

Crown vetch (inner petal only; I could not find a pale enough purple to match the outer petals), 554:

crown vetch

Poison ivy, 3819.  Am I the adventurous (translate: dumb) one!  This was the closest I was going to get:

poison ivy

I decided to pair these next two together as I believe they complement one another perfectly.  They are growing in the field alongside one another and it’s a beautiful sight.  Bee balm and goldenrod, 209 and 973:

bee balm/goldenrod

Moss, 470:

moss

Elderberries, 310:

elderberries

Grapes, 989:

grapes

This next one was very interesting.  Blueberries are blue, right?  But the more I compared them to my color card, the grayer they looked.  In the end I chose a gray, 3799:

blueberries(Side note:  it would be interesting someday to match the overdyed floss colors with the actual plant/fruit/vegetable companies have named their flosses for … such as chives, carrot, baby spinach, red pear, etc.)

To my complete shock, I do not have 3837 in my floss boxes.  What kind of cross stitcher am I, to be missing a DMC color?!?  So I had to take the picture of this fan flower (scaevola) against the color card.  Try not to be too disappointed in me.

scaevola

Jewelweed, which grows all along the edge of the woods.  Many things going on color-wise in this flower.  I tried to match up the two main colors and settled on 972 and 947:

jewelweed

jewelweed

And because I could not resist, Chaney Gray, 414:

Chaney Gray This could be a fun enterprise in all seasons.  Because of my love for nature, plants, flowers and fruits were my obvious choice but it would be interesting to match up manmade items as well.  If I continue, it won’t be long before I’ll be going for a walk and for every color I see, my first thought will be, “that’s DMC ____!”

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A Word About Color

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Categories: colors, cross stitch, spring

Spring brings thoughts of color after a winter of a bleak and lackluster palette. This winter was especially so since there wasn’t much snow to freshen up the landscape.  How refreshing to the eyes to finally see the yellows, greens and pinks again.

forsythia

apricot tree blossoms

daffodil I’ve been doing some thinking about color, especially as to how it fits in the world of counted cross stitch. Choosing colors is a huge part in the designing process.  I will admit it has been a struggle for me at times.  There are patterns I designed years ago that still make me cringe because of the colors I chose.  In fact, when I brought one such piece in for framing, the comment was something along the lines of how it would be hard to frame the piece since the colors were all fighting one another.  *Ouch*

Since my motto in most artistic pursuits is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson (“Every artist was first an amateur”), I give myself some grace and then dive into learning more about the area in which I feel the weakest. This is the same way I approach piano practice.  There is always a fix for the weak spots but it usually involves more diligence and focused practice.  The same goes for color.

This winter, since I spend more time indoors and life seems to move more slowly, I pulled out a few coloring books and purposely worked on improving my sense of color. I have always enjoyed coloring and was doing it long before this latest coloring craze. I don’t have any fancy coloring pencils, just the ones Crayola makes.  After choosing a picture, I spent time seriously thinking about the colors I wanted to use.  I learned about tonal colors and choosing colors on the opposite ends of the color wheel to complement one another.  I used a separate sheet of paper to blend several shades of color together for a different effect.  I wouldn’t say that I am now a color expert but I do think I grew in my color knowledge.  On the plus side, it was a very enjoyable pursuit.

coloring

coloring

coloring

(I had some help from a six-year-old friend for this next one.)

coloring

When it comes to cross stitch and color, there are many opinions. I realize in most cases, the choice of colors (the stitched model, the front of a chart) is what catches the buyer’s eye.  I’m sure charts are rejected because the colors used do not appeal to the buyer.  However, I would challenge you to look at a chart and see the other color possibilities.  Some color choices are better than others.  Some patterns are beautiful patterns but the colors may not work together or may not be to your preference.  Some stitchers make conversions that are better than the originally called-for colors.  Honeybee over at The Copper Fox has an extremely helpful post on doing a color conversion. She takes you through step-by-step on changing out the colors in a design.

Another thing to keep in mind is how difficult it sometimes is for designers to provide color conversions in charts. For instance, two of my next three releases were stitched with silks, some highly variegated.  Trying to find a DMC color conversion to put on my published chart is a frustrating exercise.  I designed the piece and stitched the piece with the silks and for me to try to find a comparable alternative is a challenge and truly not that enjoyable to me.  If one does not want to use silks and would rather use DMC, that’s completely fine and even encouraged.  My point in writing this is to say, be brave!  Pull out a color card or your boxes of DMC floss (or your cotton over-dyeds), some different colored fabrics and start gathering together some colors.  You don’t have to do it like I did it.  You don’t have to use any of the materials I used – my materials (floss, fabric) are suggestions.  Once you start seeing it that way, you are free to make changes.  That’s the beauty in creativity.  Make it your own!  Take my pattern and change it up to suit your interests, your room décor, etc.  I love perusing popular cross stitch patterns on line and see what other stitchers have done with them, colorwise.  It is very inspiring to see where other people’s creativity takes them.

Sometimes you will find that you made some wrong choices. I do this often.  Yes, it is a pain to have to rip everything out but diligence always pays off in the end and the hardship is always worth it.  Consider it part of the creative journey.  And as with most journeys, the destination may be the goal, but don’t miss all the learning opportunities along the way!

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Green Thoughts (and a freebie!)

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Categories: colors, cross stitch, freebie

Sounds like a save-the-environment kind of post, doesn’t it? No, nothing like that…I’m just thinking green today in an attempt to escape the white world in which I currently live. More snow today, record-breaking low temperatures tonight…no wonder the thought of green is so pleasant today.

Green is such a restful color. Maybe that’s why there is so much of it in our world. The vibrant greens of spring are so welcome after winter. As the season ages and spring turns to summer, the greens darken into a cooling color which helps our eyes and mental well-being as the temperatures soar. Green rejuvenates us and refreshes us. Green calms us and restores us.

In the spirit of late-winter restoration, join me in thinking green…

green

green threads and linen

envy zinnia

hostas

front porch

spring

 

spring green

preying mantis

lily-of-the-valley china

shamrocks and clover

Speaking of green, the green holiday is just around the corner. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I designed and stitched a little freebie for your stitching pleasure. I’m calling it “Green Rhyme” and it’s just a friendly warning about stepping outside on March 17 without wearing the proper color. Hopefully, you’ll have time to finish it in some cute way. If you do, I’d love to see it.

Green Rhyme

If you’re interested, the free pattern is on the gallery page of my website. After it was put up, I realized that the pattern uses the symbol ‘H’ but I didn’t paste from the symbol page of the software. No matter, it only uses one color and that’s Shutter Green from The Gentle Art.

Enjoy!