April Smalls SAL Check-in: “Union Jack Freebie”

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England…

In celebration of actually completing this month’s (by which I mean April’s) 2014 Smalls SAL challenge, I’m letting my inner Anglophile out to play. To be truthful, my inner Anglophile isn’t exactly usually inside the house practicing her violin and doing her math homework. She’s usually out cavorting around for everyone to see — watching BBC America, reading nineteenth-century English novels, eating lemon curd, indulging in a mild fascination with Prince Harry, driving on the left side of the road (OK, maybe not that last one).

I charted and stitched “Union Jack Freebie” (last seen as a work-in-progress here) for my fledgling — very fledgling — cross stitch design company, Wordsmith Designs, and the charted design will be up on the web site soon. However, it’s already available on this blog here as a free pattern.

Union Jack Freebie by Wordsmith Designs
Though she be but little, she is fierce!

To give you some idea of the scale of this design, the entire frame is only 6″ X 4 1/2″/15 X 11.5 cm, and the design size itself is 2.52” X 1.4”/6.4 X 3.55 cm. I stitched this Union Jack on 25-count beige Jobelan, which is my current favorite fabric for doing one-over-one designs;  the stitch definition is fantastic and it’s not too tiny (and exasperating) to work with considering my middle-aged eyes. The threads I chose were Gentle Arts Sampler Threads in Midnight (blue), Schoolhouse Red (red) and Oatmeal (ecru/white), although the pattern comes with some alternative suggestions (DMC, Anchor, Crescent Colours and Weeks Dye Works).

I’ve tried to be as accurate to the real Union Jack flag as possible. The tricky parts were the diagonal red lines which do not quite line up in the original, although many reproductions “cheat” by having simple diagonal lines.

The frame is a standard 2″ X 3″/5 X 7.5 cm frame I found at (I believe) Target several years ago. The cracks at the joins don’t appear so alarming in real life as they appear in this photo. It’s funny how photographs magnify even minor flaws. I’ve noticed this phenomenon when photographing knits before; the slightest imperfection — a knot in the wrong place, a stitch that sticks out, a stray cat hair — shows up like it’s got a huge neon arrow pointed at it.

Photography issues aside, I hope you enjoy this quick and easy pattern. I’d love to see any pictures of completed projects.

Union Jack and Bobbi Bear

I’m happy to report one completed project, “Baby Bobbi Bear” by Blue Sky Alpacas, and one nearly completed project, my “Union Jack” cross stitch design. Baby Bobbi Bear started out as a gift for my niece Ella’s first birthday — she is now four (or, as she would insist, four-and-a-half). Ahem. Then BBB (as I will refer to him from now on) was intended to be a gift for her sister Lauren’s second birthday, which was in late February. Double ahem! There’s nothing like sticking to your goals!

Anyway, next it was intended to be a gift for Lauren for Easter, but I also wanted to make a couple sweaters for BBB (just in case he gets cold) so I’ll be putting off giving him to Lauren for Easter. But I’ll get it to her soon. I promise. Blue Sky Alpacas has a free pattern that looks quick and easy. I’ll also probably knit up a hat or scarf. I’ll post a picture of the finished BBB soon.

Union Jack Freebie in Progress
Union Jack Freebie in Progress

The “Union Jack” freebie sample stitching is coming along nicely, especially considering I spent what felt like an eternity fiddling with what is, after all, a very simple charted design. I added a row on the sides, took off a row on the top and bottom, added those top and bottom rows back on, added the side rows back on plus another row on either side, removed the top and bottom rows again… and so on. You get the idea. I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible with the proportions, which is not easy considering that the slanting red stripes don’t line up “properly” in the original (that’s just my humble American opinion). What were those Brits thinking?

I love Union Jack designs and I chose here the same kind of weathered, variegated (“tweedy”) colors that I chose for the Debbie Bliss Union Jack pillow cushion I knitted in Fall 2012 as my Ravellenics project. In this case, I am stitching over one on 25-count oatmeal Jobelan with one strand of Gentle Arts Sampler Threads in Midnight (blue), Weathered Barn (red) and Oatmeal (off-white). When I print out the chart for Wordsmith Designs, I will offer some alternative color suggestions for people who want to use DMC/Anchor, Crescent Colors or Weeks Dye Works, or for people who want be more accurate to the colors in the actual flag. I should be finished soon. Rule Brittania!

If anyone would like a copy of the charted design, send me a message. Thanks!

Update: The Union Jack pattern is now available on my “Free Patterns” page. Just follow the menu link at the top of the screen. I’d love to see some photos of finished stitched pieces! Hint, hint.