Polar Lights by Châtelaine

A Project A Day – Counted embroidery work is my main hobby and I have a huge stitching stash. Some of these projects are huge and take years to stitch, and while others are quick projects, I often spend months without stitching at all. So while I have hundreds in my stash, only a half-dozen ever see attention any given year.  To address this imbalance in 2012 I will each day write about one project languishing in my stash.

Polar Lights by Châtelaine

Copyright Martina Weber, 2002.


Polar Lights by Châtelaine

Chart: The package is 15 pages of materials listing, chart and stitching directions and stitch diagrams. Unfortunately even this is not enough for such a large, complex design. The instructions are written for an experienced stitcher; e.g. it refers to stitching the four-sided stitch in 4 strands of silk. Which silk?  Its only when you look through the thread requirements with an experienced eye do you realise that ony one of the threads is silk and the others are all brands of cottons. Why not just list which thread to use? As usual with black & white charts, there is difficulty in determining where the backstitching goes and what colour to use where.

I’ve been spoiled with Châtelaine charts with buying all new ones as pdf charts in both black & white and colour versions.  Having to decipher such complex designs in printed black & white form only is a very frustrating experience.

Stitches: Pattern uses whole cross stitches, partial cross stitches, backstitch, four-sided stitch, Algerian eyelets, Smyrna crosses, straight stitch diamonds, beads and treasures.

Materials: Caron Waterlilies, Weeks Dye Works, Mill Hill Beads and Mill Hill Glass Treasures. Stitched on Zweigart 32ct “Raw” Linen.

Designer’s Notes: I hope you will like to use some of the motifs for cards, little bandings or cushion covers … as a centre on a Tee-Shirt as well as an ornamental border for a shirt … that at least for which samplers were stitched in former times 🙂 – samplers truly were a kind of dictionary of patterns to be used everyday!

This sampler is dedicated to the memory of my late good friend Elna Mullaley, who is responsible for the fact that I acquired a taste for samplers …

Why I was attracted to this design: Oh I love Châtelaines. I was introduced to them back in 2004 when I started stitching again. unfortunately with these older designs, the cover photos look awful. I saw this one stitched in person and fell in love with it. It’s quite simple compared to a lot of her later designs but quite elegant.

So why haven’t I stitched it? To be perfectly honest, I have a lot of other Châtelaine designs in my stash that are higher up my priority list than this one. I also have at least three WIPs and four already kitted that I’m not stitching on. I could not justify kitting this one up too.

On the flip side, being her second design of this style (Knotgarden was her first) this is a very simple design. There are no metallics, no one-over-one work, no heavily beaded areas, so if I could work my way past the poor instructions, this could stitch up faster than some of the Châtelaine WIPs that are languishing ….

Of course I would have to change the fabric.  It is shades of whites, blues and purples. I wonder what it would look like on black …

Where can you buy it? I bought this chart at one of the ubiquitous closing down sales quite a few years ago (yes I have a nose for a sale). However, these days I would honestly purchase the PDF of the chart directly from European Cross Stitch. I find the PDF files so versatile for these larger designs in terms of enlarging the stitch chart and comparing the colour chart with the black & white for back-stitch placement and colour usage.

Discussion questions:  Do you like Châtelaine designs? Which is your favourite design that you have not yet stitched. Why have you not stitched it and are planning to?


EDITED SAME DAY TO ADD: Here’s a link to a really nice photo of a finished version of this.

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9 Responses to Polar Lights by Châtelaine

  1. cathymk says:

    I love Chatelaines – she’s one of my all time favourites. I’m working on Sampler Mystery II as part of a SAL (this month we’re working on a piece by our favourite designer and I had more WIPS by Martina than anyone else so picked this one to work on). Sadly I’ve only actually completed some of her smaller pieces (Japanese Octagon Box, Strawberry Shaker Box and the Grape Threadkeeper), I don’t seem to have the stamina to make it through to complete a larger piece I’ve got three or four of those stalled at part 4!

    I think my favourite design of hers that I haven’t stitched (right this moment, it will be different tomorrow) is the Illuminated Medieval Sampler I have the kit, but as I have so may already started, I can’t justify to myself starting another… or can I? Knowing that these pieces are such a ginormous commitment, I’ve become a bit gunshy of starting new ones (especially since I now have a recognisable pattern of flaking out early).

    • rocalisa says:

      I have started the Illuminated Medieval Sampler. I’ve think I’ve done three parts now. I don’t work on it often as I have it on a scroll frame and I don’t often feel well for long enough to justify setting it all up, but I hope to work on it slowly. My progress pictures are on my stitching blog is you want to take a look.


  2. I’m another Chatelaine junkie with two finished, 4 Wip’s and several others as pdf’s (Desert, PIG, Hawaii). I’m still lusting after Deep Blue sea, Octopus Treasure Cave, Cuba, Chinese, Greek, St Pete’s, Venice, Mermaid Treasure Box, Rajastan Lotus Pond, Amber Ocean Lights, Sea Quilt…….. I need a twelve step really and a much deeper set of pockets!

  3. Susan Simko says:

    Yet another long time Chatelaine junkie. The design that I have yet to stitch is the Celtic mandala. I have the kit but in a computer crash lost 3 or 4 of the passwords for the file parts that I had saved in my email. (Taught me a lesson there – always open the files immediately and save the passwords in a text file in the directory with the pattern.) So, now I have to buy another copy of the pattern. *grrr*

    As to why I haven’t done that or started stitching it yet – I have other projects for the last two years that have had hard deadlines. I have a few more (one that I am working on now) and hopefully I’ll either get this started or another one of Patricia Allison’s seasonal dragons.

    • kay jones says:

      This design must have been jinxed. I saved all the parts and yes I have all the passwords but when I went to print them out I didn;t have al the parts after all, I was one short. I’m still debating whether to buy a new chart or just wing the missing one. Its one of four sides so I suppose I could. decisions decisions

  4. Karen R in GA says:

    Thanks for adding the link to the great finish – I have never seen one done before, and WOW is the cover photo even crappier having seen this other one! I have always liked the colors in this one – but I guess it’s not Chatelaine-y enough, if that makes sense? Maybe I just don’t look to Martina for samplers…?

    I have 4 completed (2 big, 2 small) and as of this week, 2 WIPs (trying desperately to not become 3, since Desert is screaming from the drawer), have a few in the stash not yet kitted, and am actively kitting another (Sparkly Hummingbird), I really hate to keep finding ones that I MUST HAVE. I am pretty sure Deep Blue Sea will get bought during the Piggyback Sale that started today, and I am really trying to NOT like Serengeti (that outer frame/finished size does nothing for me – I was with it right up to that point – the middle is, of course, AMAZING). But the one that I have always wanted to do that I don’t even have stashed is Convent’s Herbal garden. Though I really like the Celtic one, too. Bad thing is, even if I finish the two I have going right now, get everything framed that’s done – I don’t have wall space to hang that many 😦 MTM has it’s place, and I know where Tuscany will go when done. Knotgarden or Secret Victorian? No idea. Not that I’m going to let that stop me, of course… 🙂

  5. LauraNorthernCA says:

    First of all, let me say that I am new to your blog and am loving these Projects a Day! I think Chatelaines are gorgeous and admire anyone who stitches them. The link you posted to the completed design is beautiful. But I have no plans to stitch any Chatelaines myself. I’m not a big fan of madelas (I prefer asymmetrical designs). And I prefer to stitch simpler designs, without metallics or beads. But, gosh, they are beautiful. I think my favorites are Illuminated Medieval, Medieval Herb, and a mystery sampler — can’t remember the name, but it had swans on it and a beautiul italic verse about “fine feathers,” I think.

  6. Mel says:

    Cathy – I understand completely what you mean about being gunshy (gunshy predictive text not gushy). This is exactly what I was trying to say about Teresa Wentzler patterns. I works for Chatelaines for me too. Illuminated Medieval Sampler was my first chatelaine lust. I haven’t kitted it or stitched it yet either.

    Rosanne – can’t help with the 12 step but through sheer coincidence (I swear I had no foreknowledge) Martina started another Piggybank within hours of this blog post going out (cue Twighlight theme music)

    Susan & Kay – I don’t have the Celtic, but the Butterfly one I was in last year, there were changes made and posted to the files which I didn’t notice at the time. Now I’ll need to pay to buy the chart again. So cross with myself.

    Karen – I figure with my slow speed of stitching, by the time I finish, a space will just miraculously appear :). Usually because I’ll have moved house again. Serengeti doesn’t do it for me, but I am waiting to see what she does for her extra piece. The same as Deep Blue Sea didn’t do it for me, but I *adore* Octopus Treasure Cave! Yes I only fell in love with this piece because I saw someone else stitching it. The usual online photos do it no justice at all.

    Laura – welcome to the blog 🙂 I too like a lot of designs that I know I’d never stitch :). However, have you looked through all of Martina’s designs? A lot of her earlier ones, even earlier than this, are much simpler in execution (you can swap out any metallics or beads) and they are not mandalas. All her designs can be found at: http://chatelaine-design.de/newweb/cgi-bin/general.cgi?all-

  7. Laura says:

    I really like several of the designs but I only have 1 in my stash. I have The Convent’s Herbal Garden. It was actually Brendan’s BAP pick for me this year but since I don’t have any of the supplies, I’ve promised him that I’ll collect them this year and start stitching it next year. I think I actually bought another one online but through the many computer issues, I’m sure I’ve lost it. I couldn’t even tell you which one it was now. I seem to be drawn more to her garden pieces. I really like the Liz Turner Diehl gardens that were out several years ago but they’re nearly impossible to find now.

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