Roland-designs , Virginie's blog.

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Small rose. Free cross stitch pattern - Part 5 Stitching paper and half cross stitch

Continuing with the small rose challenge, I decided to try the pattern on perforated paper in half cross stitch.  I have a very small, and treasured stash of Tokens and trifles cards and the pattern was fortunately just the right size.

Tokens and trifles was a small company that offered the most amazing Victorian era inspired punch paper cards for embroidery; it was a great loss to the stitching community when they had to close in 2015. The founder of the company wrote a moving blog post explaining the difficulties small companies face with getting loans, and enough demand to stay open. Take this to heart, and try to support as much as possible small entrepreneurs, artisans and artists. As it is often said in the artists circles – If everyone who visited a gallery or market stand and admired the work of the artist bought even just one postcard each, that artist might be able to continue their work. How many beautiful contributions to the world we will never know of because an artist, or artisan was not able to support themselves by their craft ?

Well, back to the embroidery, have you ever stitched on paper ?  I think it’s quite nice and easy, but you do need to pay attention to not bend the paper, and of course you can’t wash the item so you must work with clean, and dry hands – something that has been difficult this summer due to the heat wave in Northern Europe, my hands were getting so warm and sweaty that I did not do any embroidery the whole months of July, instead I started a new knitting project – more on that later.

Small rose worked on stitching card in half cross stitch with one strand of embroidery floss

The back of the card

The front

Small rose part 1 - Cross stitch
Small rose part 2 - Gobelin stitch
Small rose part 3 - Petit point 
Small rose part 4 - Bead embroidery

The small rose pattern is available as a free instant download on my website, see link below. 
I would like to challenge you to also try out different techniques and styles of embroidery, needlework or other crafts that can be worked from counted patterns. The possibilities are endless, and lot’s of fun. 
Be sure to tag your work with #smallrosechallenge  or #rolanddesigns
The free pattern can be downloaded here:
- . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . -

During the holiday month I took the time to pull out all my boxes of embroidery patterns, samplers and other research materials then organize them once and for all! It is not a dream solution, but those cardboard boxes will have to do until I have a studio of my own for work and storage. 

Many of my patterns are in pretty good conditions for their age, but paper items that are over 100-150 years old need to be handled with care and stored away from moisture, dust, light and of course should not be stored under too much weight or touching anything plastic. The antique samplers even more so, as antique textile items require delicate handling, or best no touching at all. 

Sorted and labled ! These boxes contain my middle sized patterns and antique samplers, smaller items are in other boxes and the very large ones are actually stored at present under my bed !

Friday, 27 July 2018

The red-currant season - Jam making tips.

The summer of 2018 is the warmest I have ever experienced in Norway, with little rain since May the lawn has not needed to be cut for 5 weeks, the grass is browning, and plants are not growing as big as they normally do. On the other hand, the berries are sweet and ripe at least a week earlier than normal.

I already shared my favourite recipe on the blog, but this time I will explain a few of my tricks for making jam (or jelly with the red-currants) with a shelf life of at least two years – One year I had made way too much jam so we ate some two years later, and it was still just as good.

I’ve been making jam since I was a teen and while there are many ways to make jams and jellies, the technique I use has worked for me well  over two decades and are based on traditional methods.

Don’t rush with making preserves, but allow yourself plenty of time since you cannot stop once you start. I usually use about 2 hours max from start to finish depending on how many jars I have to fill. 

My first tip is to pick the berries on a sunny day when they are dry, not after rain. For jelly and jam you need ripe fruits, but a few not so ripe ones also, the unripe one contain more pectin which is the thing that binds the jam together, only ripe or over-ripe fruits will make your jam runny and it will not set properly. You can buy pectin, but I feel that it is cheating to use anything else than fruits, water and sugar. 

Throughout the year I collect glass jars with good solid lids that have no dents or damages; I wash them by hand, never in the washing machine. Then before using them I give them a quick rinse before sterilising them in boiling water.

The secret to successful preserves is sterilisation, if the jars are contaminated in any way the jam will spoil.  I boil water in a pot and keep it boiling while I carefully place my pots and lids in it for a at least a minute, then place them upside down to dry on clean dishtowels and elevated on silverwares which also had taken a boiling bath. 

While kids love to pick berries and help in the kitchen, anything that involves boiling water and boiling jam is very dangerous and should be done by an adult ! I had an accident a couple years ago when my oldest daughter was helping me and we spilled a pot of boiling jam, if we had not been wearing aprons we would have been very badly burned. 

As soon as the jam is ready, pour it all the way to the top of the jars and place the lids on right away, the cooling process will make the jam compact and create a vacuum. This is a little messy, but don’t try to wipe the jars yet. Let the jam cool undisturbed, and when completely cool wipe the little drips with a wet cloth before storing. 

By the time the jars are cold you should see the lids have caved in a little, this is a sign that the jam is hermetically sealed and airtight. If you find jars that are not airtight, store them in the fridge – they will keep in the fridge for a good while, but should be eaten first. You can also freeze jam, but that is again – cheating in my book.  I like the idea of food items that does not require electricity for preserving it, and I take jam making very seriously – Ha !

Jam recipe:
Cordial recipe:

Red, sweet and juicy. The summer of 2018 was so hot that the currants were ripe a week earlier than usual.

My pots and lids drying after being sterilised in boiling water

Jelly filled right up to the top of the jar.

The jellies are left to cool down undisturbed, when cooled completely I will store them in a dark cupboard.

Cordial 2018
Moumousse - My garden companion

Friday, 13 July 2018

Old books

The most recent addition to my little library of old books.
 Dating from 1895 - 1903
Someone needs to champion the cause of old books ! Vintage, antiques, found in charity shops, attics, forgotten, over-looked, judged by their foxed pages, broken spines and outdated covers. 

In a decade that is dominated by the lures of the smart phone, and wifi  access we too often find ourselves engrossed with staring at our small pocket sized screens, so much so that it has been a long time since I’ve seen an article denouncing the television as the cause of damaged vision, impaired sleep and general time waste. 

My first love will remains the classics, but once in a while just for the joy of discovery I like to read turn of the century (1880’s - 1910) novels. They were written and published by the hundreds, and while many have not ended on the list of classics, nor made their authors rich they are still an interesting look into a time period that ended with the first world war. A time when virtue and manners where the main theme of children and youth literature, and when the world was changing at a speed that scared and intrigued the grown-ups of the time. 

These are found for practically nothing at flea markets and charity shops, they may not have much value per-se, but they make interesting reading.

I haven't read it yet, but I can safely assume that 'A gay charmer - A story for girls' will be a moral story.

Not all artwork of the time was serious, this is one of many fun illustrations in 'The surprising adventures of Baron Munchausen'.

Dedication in 'The Baron Munchausen' - " To Mortimer ( ? ) who easily outdoes the Baron in long shorts " From H. W. L

Since I was small I was taught that when I read a book I should highlight or mark interesting parts then later to transfer them to a notebook for future reading. This is a habit that has stayed with me since my youth, and I have many, many notebooks full of little odds-and-ends, poems, verses, songs and book reviews to show for it. The style has changed, my handwriting not so much, but despite the fact that my taste in literature has fluctuated some, each small book is still a treasured memory capsule of a time period in my life.