Polar Lights by Châtelaine 

A Project A Day – Counted embroidery work is my main hobby and I have a huge stitching stash. Some of these projects are huge and take years to stitch, and while others are quick projects, I often spend months without stitching at all. So while I have hundreds in my stash, only a half-dozen ever see attention any given year.  To address this imbalance in 2012 I will each day write about one project languishing in my stash.

Polar Lights by Châtelaine

Copyright Martina Weber, 2002.


Polar Lights by Châtelaine

Chart: The package is 15 pages of materials listing, chart and stitching directions and stitch diagrams. Unfortunately even this is not enough for such a large, complex design. The instructions are written for an experienced stitcher; e.g. it refers to stitching the four-sided stitch in 4 strands of silk. Which silk?  Its only when you look through the thread requirements with an experienced eye do you realise that ony one of the threads is silk and the others are all brands of cottons. Why not just list which thread to use? As usual with black & white charts, there is difficulty in determining where the backstitching goes and what colour to use where.

I’ve been spoiled with Châtelaine charts with buying all new ones as pdf charts in both black & white and colour versions.  Having to decipher such complex designs in printed black & white form only is a very frustrating experience.

Stitches: Pattern uses whole cross stitches, partial cross stitches, backstitch, four-sided stitch, Algerian eyelets, Smyrna crosses, straight stitch diamonds, beads and treasures.

Materials: Caron Waterlilies, Weeks Dye Works, Mill Hill Beads and Mill Hill Glass Treasures. Stitched on Zweigart 32ct “Raw” Linen.

Designer’s Notes: I hope you will like to use some of the motifs for cards, little bandings or cushion covers … as a centre on a Tee-Shirt as well as an ornamental border for a shirt … that at least for which samplers were stitched in former times :) – samplers truly were a kind of dictionary of patterns to be used everyday!

This sampler is dedicated to the memory of my late good friend Elna Mullaley, who is responsible for the fact that I acquired a taste for samplers …

Why I was attracted to this design: Oh I love Châtelaines. I was introduced to them back in 2004 when I started stitching again. unfortunately with these older designs, the cover photos look awful. I saw this one stitched in person and fell in love with it. It’s quite simple compared to a lot of her later designs but quite elegant.

So why haven’t I stitched it? To be perfectly honest, I have a lot of other Châtelaine designs in my stash that are higher up my priority list than this one. I also have at least three WIPs and four already kitted that I’m not stitching on. I could not justify kitting this one up too.

On the flip side, being her second design of this style (Knotgarden was her first) this is a very simple design. There are no metallics, no one-over-one work, no heavily beaded areas, so if I could work my way past the poor instructions, this could stitch up faster than some of the Châtelaine WIPs that are languishing ….

Of course I would have to change the fabric.  It is shades of whites, blues and purples. I wonder what it would look like on black …

Where can you buy it? I bought this chart at one of the ubiquitous closing down sales quite a few years ago (yes I have a nose for a sale). However, these days I would honestly purchase the PDF of the chart directly from European Cross Stitch. I find the PDF files so versatile for these larger designs in terms of enlarging the stitch chart and comparing the colour chart with the black & white for back-stitch placement and colour usage.

Discussion questions:  Do you like Châtelaine designs? Which is your favourite design that you have not yet stitched. Why have you not stitched it and are planning to?


EDITED SAME DAY TO ADD: Here’s a link to a really nice photo of a finished version of this.