Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dala Delights

I do hope that you've had a chance to visit the Flickr Group for the Dala Horse Craftalong. So many equine beauties! Look for the Dala Horse Craftalong button in the sidebar to the right, give it a click, and prepare for a feast of crafty delights. The Craftlong ends on August 21st but you can continue to add photos to the group after that.

I love Dala Horses. They have such great history and a centuries long tradition of fine craftsmanship. Visit Hannah, one of the co-sponsors of the Craftalong, at her blog iHannah for some great info on Dala Horses. But even if I didn't know about all of that, I would be hooked by their colors.

So did I finish my first attempt at embroidery in ages? Yes, as a matter of fact, I took most of one glorious day of my week off work to sit on the couch and stitch. Here it is...

(Special thanks to my lovely assistant Zippy for modeling the apron.)

OK, I didn't plan on making an apron. I started rummaging around through my stash to work on this project and the only sturdy fabric I could find was this child's apron leftover from a previous project. My original intent was to cut it away from the apron and I may end up doing that, just as soon as I figure out what I want to do with my horsey gal.

As I mentioned, I ran the dogs off the couch one day this past week and spread out my playthings to work on my horse. How does one incorporate dog hair into an embriodery project? I was trying to remember the last time I did any embroidery and honestly can't recall. Cross-stitch has always been my thing and after looking at the beautiful work on Carina's Craftblog I started thinking it would be fun to try some embroidery again. Then along came the Craftalong- perfect opportunity! I dusted off my embroidery hoops and went to town.

Due to time constraints (only one week off work, school starting soon, a long To Do list) I didn't add any decorative elements around the horse. It's heavy on the stem stitch but visiting all of the beautiful stitch possibilities in the books was great fun. If this were cross-stitch I would show off the back but since it's a beginner's effort at embroidery I think some of you more accomplished needleworkers would faint dead away if I did that. So let's just look at the front. I am aware of things that did not turn out so well or that I simply did wrong. I would also love to hear your constructive criticisms so that I can take advantage of your knowledge and skill in order to improve. That sounds hokey but I'm sincere about it. Go ahead, say it. I can take it.

This being The Butterfly Jungle, I knew immediately that there had to be butterflies. So I studied the horses in my little collection, noted the consistencies in design, and then threw them out the window. Well, not totally. I tried to keep the general design the same. But not. So here you can see that the saddle is a butterfly. The three floss colors on the left were for the mane because I just made this up as I went along. Makes you want to faint, I know, but that's how I was rolling because it was my vacation week and that's what I wanted to do.

I tried a satin stitch for the butterfly's body but because this was worked on a heavy canvas I don't feel that I could get the stitches close enough. Is there a secret? Do you split the canvas threads? Anyway, the other satin stitch areas that I had thought about doing got nixed.

Little Lazy Daisy butterflies in the mane and bridle.

I am very cognizant of the fact that this is humble beginner's level work. The easy part was fooling around tracing the horses and coming up with designs. When it came time to actually start embroidering I thought, "Uh oh, how am I going to do that?" Thank goodness for the needlework section at Barnes & Noble. Oh who am I kidding- thank goodness for Barnes & Noble. When I still had not started for several days it was time to step back and see what was going on. I realized that the problem was my fear. Who did I think I was adding my intro level embroidery to the Craftalong Flickr group with all of the beautifully worked items by wonderfully talented women? And then I decided, to paraphrase Bette Midler, "To heck with 'em if they can't take a joke." All in all, and completely aware of my amateur standing in embroidery circles ('cause I do know you can embroider a circle), I'm pleased with my modest little horse. Ya gotta start somewhere, right?

My heritage is actually Norwegian and I sometimes feel a twinge of guilt for liking Dalas so much. Same with those gorgeous Moro floor clocks. I'm Norwegian, not Swedish. Thank goodness for the Fjord horses of Norway and the two little fellas in my collection that I can't for the life of me remember where I got. First I trace the outline ...

It's been great to have you stop in today. Thank you. I'll see ya next time.


  1. Beautiful... I saw all the Dala horses on Pam's blog and was taken back how creative this group is.

  2. love your apron! It turned out beautiful, beautiful stitching
    PS I'm Norwegian too!

  3. I love what you created with embroidery! I'm not so good myself, and sorry I can't offer any tips on getting the satin stitch closer, but this is so cute. One day I hope to embroider some Dalas on a tote bag or something. Nice work on your apron! :)

  4. Fabulous! Beautiful! I am so loving your Dala Horse embroidery! The minute it popped up on the flickr group page I spotted the butterfly "saddle" and fell completely in love!

    Thank you so, so much for joining in the Dala Craftalong with such enthusiasm and great projects.

  5. Oh thank you ladies for such lovely comments. It was fun fun fun and I am so grateful for the Craftalong because it gave me the kick in the pants to stop thinking about trying embroidery and actually doing it. Today as I was rolling through Craft Gossip and saw the free embroidery downloads something in the back of my mind said, "I know what that its and I can at least try it without hanging my head." So go try it, whatever it is- just jumping in the water is half the fun.