Chinese Kit Review

You may have heard of AliExpress. It is a little like Amazon and a little like Ebay. Essentially, it allows you to order items directly from Chinese manufactures at really low prices. You can find just about anything on AliExpress, including cross stitch kits.* So, several months ago (during my “free” month from Stitch from Stash), I decided to buy a couple of kits to see what they were like.

Peacock Cross Stitch Kit

Peacock Cross Stitch Kit

I picked up this Peacock cross stitch kit for only US$14.99. It is pre-printed on quite thick 11 count fabric and is a whopping 77×99 cm (33″x39″).


Canvas and booklet.

The fabric is huge and very well made. It doesn’t feel either too floppy or too stiff. The printing lines up almost perfectly with the holes, and it will disappear once the finished piece is washed.

Close-up of stitching and printing.

As you can see, the floss gives good coverage, and the printing is very cleanly done. The holes themselves are smooth and the floss pulls through cleanly without any undue wear.


Booklet and some floss bundles.

The booklet runs to several pages, is printed on glossy paper, and is very detailed. And get a load of those floss bundles.


Speaking of floss: look at what the kit comes with! It is all pre-sorted and ready to go. The large bundles are for the colours that are used the most. There is one stand of each of those colours on the floss holder so that you know which colour is which. Everything is pre-cut to generous lengths and labelled with DMC numbers as well as the numbers that correspond to the chart and fabric. I’m not sure if the floss actually is DMC, but it stitches very smoothly and feels a lot like DMC to me. Also, I checked with my colour card, and the colours seem true.

Colour key on fabric

Colour key on fabric.

Colour key on back of booklet.

The colour key is printed on both the fabric (with the colours used in printing on the fabric) and the booklet (with the symbols used in the booklet). Both keys include the number where you can find the floss on the holders. All in all, it is a very well put together kit, and an absolute steal for just US$14.99.

Perhaps the only issue comes from the instructions being in Chinese. Thankfully, I have in-laws that can translate for me. ;) The important parts say to use three strands for the cross stitches and 1 strand for back stitching. Other than that, what else do I need to know?

* There is a huge problem with copyright violations on AliExpress, as there is with many Chinese sites. I did not order any kits that were clearly in violation of copyright. But, it is also worth stating that U.S. and Canadian copyrights do not always extend to China, or many other countries for that matter. If you choose to order from AliExpress, be aware of issues surrounding copyrights and only purchase items you feel comfortable buying.

3 Comments | Posted in Cross Stitch | Tagged ,

Playing with Pastels

The little man has never been particularly interested in art. He has been a builder and a reader. But, recently, he has become interested in drawing. So, I read two books from the DIY Bundle, Chalk Pastels Through the Seasons and Getting Started In Chalk Pastels, both by Lucia Hames and Tricia Hodges, and also checked out some free video tutorials available on the Southern Hodge Podge website and decided to give chalk pastels a try.

The little man and his art set.


We have a very inexpensive set of chalk pastels that I purchased online, and some nice-ish drawing paper I picked up at Michaels. Since we have a lovely, real wood live-edge table, I thought it was best to cover it with something. A cheap shower curtain from the dollar store did the trick. (Would you believe that I couldn’t find any table cloths?!)

Our beautiful artwork.


I think we made some pretty nice art given that neither the little man nor I are experienced with chalk pastels. He drew the top two pieces (mixed media with the addition of markers, water colours, and oil pastels), and I did the bottom two. I’m sure I’ve said many times that I’m no artist, but I had a whole lot of fun drawing with my little guy this afternoon. I wonder if I can convince him to try stitching next?

The proud artist with his work.


6 Comments | Posted in Crafts | Tagged

Happy Easter

I hope everyone is having a lovely Easter, full of chocolate, good food, and nice spring weather.

Full-Color Holiday Vignettes - 11

4 Comments | Posted in Site News |

Sock Madness Round 2 – Cable Madness

Oh, Sock Madness, why do I keep signing up for you? My poor hand doesn’t like being forced to knit socks so quickly. Thankfully, in the early rounds, there are enough slots that I can take a break between socks and still have a chance to make it to the next round.

Cable Madness socks

Cable Madness socks

The pattern is Cable Madness, designed by Karen Buhr. It was released on the afternoon of Friday, March 20th. I had finished the first sock by the following Sunday afternoon, but took a few days off before being the second sock. That one was completed on March 26th, and I was able to move through to round 3 with no problems at all.

Cable close-up

Cable close-up

The yarn is Berroco Comfort Sock in colourway 1763 Navy Blue (the first picture is more true). The sock is a wee bit narrow, and fits a bit tight, so I think once everything is done, I will be ripping out the toes and knitting them a little longer. (A narrow sock can fit short because of the way the fabric pulls up.)

This round finishes up on April 3rd, or sooner if all the spots are filled. I’m looking forward to the next sock and really hoping I can get through to at least round 4, which would be a personal best.


(I know today is April Fool’s Day. I am ignoring it because I don’t like it and because I am no fun. :P )

2 Comments | Posted in Knitting | Tagged , ,

Trying Something New (again)

I’m pretty sure most of you are needle workers. (Except my dad and my husband, who read my blog once in a while to keep an eye on whatever trouble I am getting into now.) Even with all my knitting, sewing, etc., I still identify as a needle worker first. But, once in a while, I do like to try something new. This past weekend I went up to That Bead Lady with my mom, and avid beader and a maker of all sorts of wonderful things, and picked up a few supplies so I can try something different.

Pearls, charms, keys and more!

Pearls, charms, keys and more!

I got some closures for my experiments with chainmaille bracelets, two beautiful Swarovski keys (75% off!) that may make nice earrings if I ever figure out wire wrapping, pearls for an idea I have for a necklace (further supplies are coming from ArtBeads), lotus charms for simple earrings, and some cupped flower-shape sequins for needlework embellishment. I may never get around to using any of it, but I didn’t spend much (under $25) and I feel very inspired!

Speaking of trying something new, the Ultimate DIY bundle is available again for a very, very short time. You can read more about it here and here. I have had a great time with it, and I am super glad I bought it back in January. I’ve sewed some cool things, tried pastels with my little guy (a huge hit!), worked on my writing, printed off mandalas to colour (I love colouring!), and a lot more. It is totally worth the price ($34.95 US), especially since you get a free Craftsy class. I picked Essential Techniques Every Knitter Should Know, and I have learned so much! That, in itself, was worth the price to me.

The complete bundle includes 69 ebooks and ecourses as well as 4 awesome bonuses, worth over $150. That’s 4x the price of the bundle alone! These include a free $15 Store Credit PLUS 8×10 Art Print from Hope Ink ($43 Value), a free online class from Craftsy (up to $71.95 Value), a free sewing pattern PLUS a Premium Video Class from UpCraft Club ($19.99 Value), and free, full digital copies of Where Women Create Magazine and Greencraft Magazine ($20 value) from Stampington and Co.

Like I said,  The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 2 days – from 9am EST on Monday, March 31 until 9am EST on Wednesday, April 1. (I really should have posted about this yesterday…) And this time, when it is gone it really is gone. You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund. So, if you want to get in on this fabulous bundle, do it now! The DIY Bundle is going away in…

This post uses affiliate links. You know me: I only tell you about things I really use and believe in. This bundle is worth it! Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

2 Comments | Posted in Crafts | Tagged

Little Hedgehog

Spring is very slow in coming this year. We actually made it up to 6°C today, but the wind made it feel so much colder. We still have pockets of snow hanging on in all the places the sun doesn’t quite reach. The only hint that spring is actually on its way is the two fat little robins I’ve spotted and the bird song we have heard while walking to school. That isn’t enough. So, I set the cold, wintery stocking aside for a little bit and worked on this little cutie for a few days.

Hedgehog - wip

Hedgehog – wip

It is the cover kit from issue 225 of World of Cross Stitching magazine. It doesn’t seem to really have a name, and I have no idea what brand of floss it comes with. It has stitched up nicely so far, and I think it will look adorable when I add the back stitching. The daffodils are a lovely bit of spring colour when the outside is still all dull, muddy, and a wee bit snowy.

Smalls SAL – If you haven’t check-ed in for March yet, you still have some of time. The link list will close to new entries around mid-night Eastern time on April 1st. April’s check-in will take place on the 29th. Hopefully we will finally be having some spring weather by then! ;)

4 Comments | Posted in Cross Stitch | Tagged ,

Smalls SAL – March 2015 Check-In

Welcome to the last Wednesday of March and to the check-in day for the Smalls SAL.

2015SmallsSALI hope you’ve managed to have a productive stitching month. I know that in many places around the world the weather has been a bit crazy, leaving lots of time to stay indoors and pick up your needle.

Santa's Night, designed by Mill Hill

Santa’s Night, designed by Mill Hill

This month I stitched Santa’s Night from Mill Hill. It is a kit from their 2005 series Charmed Mittens. It is stitched as per instructions with the included threads, except I didn’t attach the petite beads with an X, using a half stitch instead. Even though I was using a thin beading needle, I had so much trouble with the small beads. I think I have been spoiled by Delicas.

So, what did you stitch this month? I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s smalls. Please leave your link using the form below. Also, please be sure to link to your actual post, not to the main page of your blog, and try to select a picture of your small. The list will remain open to new entries until April 1st at about midnight Eastern time. Remember: for each month you share a finished small you get an entry into the end of the year draw.

Also, please consider visiting some of the other participants and leaving comments. We all love visitors!

April Check-In: The next Smalls SAL check-in will take place on April 29th. If you’d like to receive my reminder email, you can sign up on this page.

Thanks for taking part in the Smalls SAL!

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18 Comments | Posted in Cross Stitch | Tagged , , ,