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Elizabeth Bradley Kit Review

I have done needlepoint for a long time but only recently started buying kits. Before I would start with a blank canvas, wools, and a book.  But I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to get a kit so I wouldn’t have to put everything together myself? One of the kits I bought was the Animal Alphabet Rug from Elizabeth Bradley. My daughter is learning letters and their sounds now so I thought it could be a family project where we all stitch it together. These were my thoughts when I ordered the kit back in October. I write this now on December 23rd, 2013.

I ordered the kit from Wye Needlecraft Ltd. because they had a terrific price at the time.  I realized that not many retailers would have it in stock with the background wool I chose (pale blue) and expected there to be a long delay before they shipped. I was correct in my assumptions. I received the kit in mid November.

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Here it is fresh from the packaging. This is a big box. It is 16 inces x 16 inches and 3 + inches thick.

Some inside pics for you next!

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Beautiful, right? I was loving it already but the first problem is sitting right in front of you.

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Lots of background wools. I knew this wouldn’t photograph well. It is more of a robin’s egg blue. But, it looks like there is enough for a sweater.

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It is adorable, is it not? This is the canvas in box.

I am going to begin stitching this today. Why so long? The problem I noticed right away was the yarn card. There were 30+ yarns on it. While that may seem like a lot, it was obvious that it wasn’t anywhere near the amount of colors that were in the box. I think there is about 70. I wrote to Elizabeth Bradley and got a prompt response. They sent me out a new yarn card and I got it by UPS in 5-ish business days.  Great! Right? Time to start? No. Because the yarn card was wrong, it occurred to me that there could be other errors in the kit. I spent 3 hours counting the strands of yarn.  I didn’t count the green or red border yarns or the background yarns because I was spent by the time I got to them. I was unfortunately proven correct. There were several shortages in the yarn amounts. One of the yarns was plain missing altogether. That would have been an awkward moment in stitching had I not counted before hand.

I contacted Elizabeth Bradley again and after connecting with someone in the Americas office, I was able to get the yarns sent to me. They wanted to send me a new kit but I didn’t want to have to count everything again and I knew I would have too. So a week later, I got the missing yarns.  I took out the color card and placed them in their places joining the other yarns.  I noticed then that the green used in the borders was a  different green than the one on the color card. Ugh!  I showed it to my husband who said they were completely different. Now, if I chose to use the green I had all might be well but what if I ran out of yarn a year down the road? It wasn’t the standard color for the kit. What if it was a dye mistake? Not wanting more trouble down the road, I called Elizabeth Bradley, The Americas again and they straight away sent me the green border wool. I am waiting for it and expect it at the end of the week. They were very nice and offered to send me a new kit again but I refused as I didn’t want to have to count the wools again and I.would.have.to.

I have been assured that this is unusual for an Elizabeth Bradley kit. Their representative has been encouraging me to purchase more kits from them in the future. She has been very nice and I may do so but it was a lot of work for me to buy one of their kits in the end. I bought it way back in Oct, got it in mid Nov, and am in a position as of the last week of December to start working on it. Then, there was the counting and the numerous packages.

I have to add that at no time was I concerned that the problems would not be resolved. I expected Elizabeth Bradley to do no less. It was super annoying and delayed the start of my project by a month but I was never worried. That does say a lot about their reputation. There is a reason why I felt safe plunking down a lot of money to work on this rug. I am happy to say that they fulfilled all that they were required, as a company, to do.

I am hoping and assuming that this was a fluke. I would not go cheerily to go buy another kit at this time because of this experience.  I would feel compelled to count all the yarn every time now. I may decide to continue to purchase kits in future or I may go back to buying supplies and using their books. It is still up in the air.  But, I have this big boy to work on for a while so I have a bit of time to ponder that question.

I am looking forward to this last package! I will be happy when the green border wools arrive. The kit will finally be complete. Phew!

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Malcolm Fielding: Kindness from the Land Down Under

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Earlier this year when things were looking financially rosey, I put a deposit on a couple of custom spindles from master spindle maker, Malcolm Fielding. Mr Fielding has a website called The Lace Bobbin Shop. He also sells on etsy. If you aren’t familiar with his work, prepare to fall in love. Bobbin lace practioners will be stunned too, so be sure to take a peak.

Fast forward to November where things became less financially rosey, I ended up having to cancel my order with Mr Fielding. I was going to lose my $25 deposit but I had no choice with mounting medical bills looming beyond and in front of the horizon. I emailed Mr Fielding who later emailed me back with a lovely surprise – he advised me to look in the mailbox as he was sending me one of his amazing Dervish Spindles at no extra charge. How nice is that?! His kindness left me speechless. He knew I was having a tough time and had wanted to spread some good cheer. How many business owners would choose to take a loss and go out of their way to please a customer in a foreign country? I should think this rates Mr Fielding as incredibly nice on the special people meter.

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So now, it is a couple of weeks later and guess what came in the mail today nestled in soft Tasmanian Corriedale? The Dervish! It is absolutely stunning and is one of the best spinners I have ever had. (I would say that whether he gave me the spindle or not.) It is really THAT good. I love the gorgeous Lace Sheoak whorl with the hard dymondwood shaft. He invited me to sell it if I needed to (I mean, so nice again!) or if I didn’t like it but I can tell you that this beauty will never leave me. It is now wearing a coat of blue merino/silk.

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(Note to spinners: I encourage you to check out his exquisite workmanship. You won’t regret it!)

Thank you, Malcolm, for your generosity! Your gift came at the right moment. I will use and treasure my new Dervish. It will always be dear to me. I deeply appreciate your kindness. Thank you!

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Tips for Spinning Hemp

Bast hemp fibers, picture in public domain

Hemp is a bast fiber and has been spun since antiquity. Mainly thought of as useful for making heavy ropes and canvas, today’s hemp sliver is far from being tough.  With the advent of an enzymatic removal of lignin from the fiber, de-gummed hemp is now as strong as ever but with a new soft touch.  Hemp is water absorbent, resists mold and UV light, breathes well, and takes dye easily due to its porous qualities.

Beautiful hemp fibers, waiting to be spun.

Sounds like a great fiber but how do you spin it?  Hemp is easy to spin.  If you would like to try spinning hemp on a drop spindle, a light weight top whorl or support spindle may be your best choice.  Good quality hemp is very fine and slides easily like silk.  If you would like to spin hemp on a spinning wheel, set your tension low to and increase it gradually as you get the hang of it.  Whether spinning on a spindle or wheel, try spinning the singles clockwise.  Do some sampling to see the wide range of possible yarns you can make with hemp.  For a more woolen type yarn, try spinning from the fold or carding with silk.  I like a 60/40 hemp/silk mix.  You will want to use fine carders or cotton carders for blending.  For a worsted yarn, you can use a forward short draw.  For an even smoother yarn, try spinning wet like you would for flax.  There should not be many fly away fibers but spinning wet will ensure that the yarn is perfectly smooth.  Just put a small bowl of water near you and dip the fingers of your forward facing hand in the water and smooth it on as you spin.

When plying, spin the yarn in the opposite direction.  There is no need to boil your finished yarns.  My suggestion is that you set the twist by holding your skein with two hands over a steaming pot of water or tea kettle.

And now for something different…

 

 

 

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