A Song of the Weather SAL
- What is a SAL?
- How does this SAL work?
- What happens when?
- Design info
- A Song of the Weather
- SAL blog (subscribers only)
- SAL gallery
- You can still Join the SAL
A Hardanger Stitch-Along
What is a SAL or Stitch-Along (or Stitch-A-Long)? Well, it's basically a group of stitchers deciding that they will all work on the same design at roughly the same time, keeping each other updated about their progress by means of pictures, reports or both. Generally each stitcher chooses their own materials, and depending on the sort of design they've picked this may mean that some work in standard stranded cotton on linen, while others work in hand-dyed threads on aida, and yet others work in silks on silk gauze.
Mabel's Hardanger SAL will be what is known as a Mystery SAL: you don't know beforehand what the finished design will look like, and a part of the design is released every month. It will be a little different from other Mystery SALs, however, as the twelve monthly instalments are actually complete little designs in themselves, which you can stitch individually or as a larger project according to your preference. To cater for beginning as well as experienced Hardanger stitchers, the series will start simple and then gradually become more advanced. Besides Hardanger the designs will include various surface stitches as well as some beads and a little optional ribbon embroidery.
How does this SAL work?
If you like the idea of stitching a 12-part project together with other stitchers around the world, you can join by subscribing to the SAL. There is a one-off fee of £3.00 when you join; after that all remaining parts are free. You will be sent a username and SAL blog password in your confirmation email.
When a new part of the SAL is available, you will be notified by email, after which you can download the chart pack for that month using your username and the Month Code from the email. Like all Mabel's chart packs they are in PDF format, and each includes a photograph of the stitched design, a chart, stitch diagrams and detailed instructions.
When you have finished a section, you can send us a picture (resized to 300 x 300 pixels maximum if possible) which we will add to a dedicated SAL Gallery. It would be great if you could also tell us what materials you're using.
In a special section of Flights of Fancy only accessible to SAL participants Mabel will be stitching along every month, with extra tips and added visual instructions. You will also be able to ask any questions you have by leaving a comment.
The photographs in the chart packs will be of the "minimalist" version, using standard materials in the least number of colours to show that you can produce very decorative results on a budget. Mabel's monthly stitch-along version will use different coloured fabrics, hand-dyed threads, silk perles and metallics, for those who like to experiment and add to their stash. Remember, at the end of the SAL you will have 12 card-sized designs which you can use over and over again, so even if you decide to stitch the SAL using standard materials, you may pick up some ideas for use at a later date!
What happens when?
From about July to October, Mabel was busy charting and model stitching to get each design just right, and to work out exactly how much of all the materials is needed.
On 1st November 2012 the list of materials was posted. This has the quantities needed per month (e.g. "3 1-metre lengths of neutral #5 perle cotton") for those who would like to vary their threads, but also for the whole SAL (e.g. "1 ball of #8 perle cotton in a light shade").
On 1st December 2012 the "Join the SAL" button appeared at the bottom of this page so that you can sign up. When payment has been received you'll be sent a confirmation email with a username and SAL blog password. Don't worry if you don't get round to signing up until after the SAL has started, you'll be able to download the parts you've missed and then join in with the rest of us.
On 1st January 2013 the January page on the Song of the Weather Blog went live. The blog is where you go to download the monthly instalments, and where Mabel will post twice a month about her version of the SAL, discussing materials and answering questions.
After that, a new part of the SAL will be available on the 1st of every month (or the 2nd if the 1st is a Sunday), and the SAL Gallery will be updated whenever participants send in pictures.
Each of the 12 designs is 76h x 76w – 3" square on 25ct Lugana, 3½" square on 22ct Hardanger. If you would like to combine all or several designs you could stitch them as a 3 x 4 sampler, as three 2 x 2 squares (great for cushion covers) or as one very long (1 x 12) or two rather more manageable (1 x 6) bell pulls.
Stitched individually, the designs are just the right size for Cross Stitch Heaven's 6" square aperture cards.
Some people have asked me whether there will be enough time to finish each design before the next one comes out, even if you are a beginner or a slow stitcher. Although a lot depends on how much stitching time you get, I'd say an experienced stitcher would need two or three evenings for each one, so there should be plenty of time to stitch along month by month whatever your speed and level of expertise. And remember, it's not a contest – if you want to start every design when it comes out but finish them all at your leisure, that's fine; or if you prefer you can finish each one before you start the next, even if that means starting the June design some time in September!
- 12 7½" x 7½" pieces of white, off-white or cream fabric, either 22ct Hardanger or 25ct Lugana
- a 6" hoop
- 3 skeins of perle #5, 1 ball of perle #8 and 1 skein of stranded cotton in the colour of your fabric
- 1 skein of perle #5, 1 ball of perle #8 and 1 skein of stranded cotton in a Light shade
- 1 skein of perle #5, 1 ball of perle #8 and 1 skein of stranded cotton in a Dark shade
- 1 packet of size 11/0 seed beads in your Dark shade
- 50cm of 4mm wide silk or sheer organza ribbon (optional) in your Light shade
But silk perles, Caron threads, metallics and hand-dyed fabrics are all possible, and you could even stitch each month using a different combination of threads and fabric altogether. Suggestions for speciality threads and hand-dyed fabrics are included in the materials list, and Mabel will be using several of these in her speciality version. You'll be able to read more about them on the Song of the Weather blog – what they're like to work with, where to find them and so on.
For more detailed information about fabric sizes (e.g. for combining the 12 designs into one big project) and monthly thread requirements, and for alternative fabrics and threads read the online materials list or download the PDF version
A Song of the Weather
In the 1950s Flanders & Swann, to whom Mabel owes both her name and her husband (it's a long story), wrote "A Song of the Weather", a month-by-month catalogue of the unpleasantness of the British climate (all true Englishmen complain about the weather). It was a parody of Sara Coleridge's much more positive but rather unimaginatively named poem "The Months". 12 months, 12 SAL instalments – the connection was irresistible. So each section of the SAL will be identified by a couplet from Sara Coleridge's poem, but to reflect Mabel's F&S connection the title of the whole SAL is taken from their version of it.
Join the SAL
There is a one-off fee of £3.00 to join the SAL; this covers all twelve instalments (I'm afraid it's not possible to pay 25p per month …). When you sign up you will be sent a username, and a password which gives you access to the Song of the Weather Blog; this is also where you will download the monthly chart packs.
If you're joining after the SAL has started, don't worry – you will be given immediate access to all the parts that have already been published, and you can then download the others as they come out.