Welcome to my blog. You can read about my adventures in different types of needlework, and I also offer some free
cross stitch patterns. Please, come back often. :)


PLEASE, NOTE: The designs on this site are copyrighted to Agnes Palko. They are for your personal use only. They may not be distributed or reproduced without permission.
If you wish to use my patterns to stitch for charity, please, let me know.


Two mandalas - free cross stitch pattern

I haven't written anything here for a while - but I have a good excuse. I am moving flat next Friday, so I am busy sorting and packing things. Most of the boxes are filled with my craft books and stash. Luckily my lovely daughter could come and help me, otherwise I would have had even more problem with my back.

So I really don't have time to write now, nor to sort and organise my latest dyeing samples. But I managed to draw a little pattern for you.

These are two small mandala patterns in black-red-white colour combination. I really loved making them, there might come more later on.

You can use only the circles, I think they would work perfectly for cards. But I draw a backstitch frame around them, and added some small corner elements, so they can be stitched for a pincushion or a biscornu. What else do you think you can use them for?

Have fun, try different colourways.

Happy stitching, friends. Next time I will be writing from my new flat.


Bookmark freebies - and more eco-dyeing from the kitchen

The eco-dyeing saga continues. :D

After all the plants I collected during my walks (see the results here), I got back to the kitchen. I tried red onion skin. Cooked them in water for about an hour then drained them.

I put in the dye quite a few fabric pieces plus a few lace pieces (crocheted and store bought) as well, some of them not white. I simmered them in this dye for an hour then I left them in the pot for a few days. The result is really beautiful.

The darkest piece is some Aida fabric I had that was gray to begin with, unfortunately I don't have a picture of it before. I didn't like that gray, that's why I decided to dye it. The lace that became gray was a light blue originally, here are the two of them next to each other.

I red about avocado skin and pit giving a nice pink colour to wool. I was curious to see if it worked on cotton. I can report: yes, it does. It is really beatiful, at least I think so. Some of the fabric was mordanted with alum and some untreated.

One of the fabric I dyed with the roses before and didn´t like the colour (pale, liveless beige spots) I dyed again in the avocado bath, folding and tyeing it shibori-style. This is the result. Nice, isn´t it?

I also tried pomegranate, with the same method. The result is a lovely golden colour - much nicer than what it looks like in the photo.

Another experiment i did was with a lichen called salted shield lichen or crottle (Parmelia saxatilis, färglav in Swedish, talán pajzszuzmó magyarul, nem vagyok benne biztos). It is so fascinating when you take a bit of grey lichen and it turns things into yellow. At least it is supposed to be yellow on wool. My cotton fabrics turned more to a beige colour but it is nice, I like it. In the second picture you can see a piece that I didn´t wash right away after taking out of the dye but let it dry and only washed a week or so later. The colour has become stronger, especially in the creases of the fabric.

There is more coming, I have bundles in plastic bags and jars full of dye and fabric on my kitchen counter again. Watch this place for more eco-dyeing. :)

And here is another bookmark freebie, or rather three freebies in one pdf file. I loved making them, I hope you will also love stitching them.

Click on the picture for the pdf.

Happy stitching.


Cross stitch freebie + eco-dyeing, more results

I have been busy with sorting out more of my eco-dying experiments from the summer. I am going to show the pieces I tryed to dye with the bundles method I learnt from India Flint.
You take a piece of fabric, pre-mordanted with alum or alum+washing soda, put some plants (petals, leaves etc) on it, wrap it up tightly around a twig (tree bark contains tanin that can also help as a mordant) and tye it all around with a string. Then you can cook them in water or steam them - this is what I tried. See more details below.

It was not easy, as the pile of my samples grows, to keep track of what is what. I tried to number the fabric pieces with a pen - thinking that ink does not come out with washing, so it should be OK. It worked for most of the time but not always, I have some pieces which have the number all smudged out, so now it will be some guesswork. I took lots of photos during the process, and in this post I will try to match the photos of the same pieces together.

All these fabric pieces come from an old, probably hand-woven tablecloth that I bought at a loppis (second hand shop). Looks like cotton but it is possible that it is cotton-linen blend. It was pre-treated with alum and washing soda (2 tbs + 1 tbs to 5 liter water, India Flint's recipe). I tried all kinds of plants and flowers, I was desperately seeking after reds, roses, lilac... even though I read that it is very difficult to get those colours. I needed to see it with my own eyes. And, of course, I did. I mean, I did see that it is difficult :D

The names of the plants come in this order: English (Latin, Swedish, Hungarian).


Brown knappweed (Centaura jacea, rödklint, réti imola) and harebell (Campanula rotundifolia, liten blåklocka, kereklevelű harangvirág)

And the results:


3 Lady's bedstraw (Galium verum, gulmåra, tejoltú galan)

4 Purple flowerewd raspberry, (Rubus odoratus, rosenhallon, lila virágú málna)

5 Tufted vetch (Vicia cracca, kråkvicker, kaszanyűg bükköny)

6 Red clover (Trifolium pratense, rödklöver, réti here))

You cannot see the numbers in the photos, but they are the same, 3-6, in the same order.

Another picture with all of them, 1-6, just before I rolled them up. You can see, I only used the petals and I used some twigs to roll them into, then tied them with a piece of string. India Flint sugests a steamer to steam them for an hour. I didn't have a steamer so I came up with a solution that worked most of the time - but not always. I put water in a plastic container, put the rolls in it but so that they did not touch the water, put the whole thing in the microwave and turned it on for about 10 minutes. The water made steam and I did not open the door for about an hour. I think this is not exactly the same as steaming for real for one hour, but is seemed to work. But who knows, it might have affected the colours that I could get out of the plants. Not much, right? :( Oh, and one more thing: after they came out of the microwave, I put them in plastic bags and kept them out on the balcony (with some sunshine but not much) for about two weeks.


7 Tufted vetch pods (Vicia cracca, baljor av kråkvicker, kaszanyűg bükköny termése)
8 Creeping thistel (Cirsium arvense, åkertistel, mezei aszat)
9 Common agrimony, (Agrimonia eupatoria, småborre, közönséges párlófű)
10 Heather (Calluna vulgaris, ljung, csarab)


11-12 Great willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum, rosendunört, borzas füzike)
13 Dog rose (Rosa dumalis, nyponros, vadrózsa)

The first one in this picture is n. 10, see above, the second is 11, and in the bottom row 12 and 13.

The next batch of eco-bundles came a week later.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, rölleka, cickafark)

Rowan leaf (Sorbus acuparia, japansk rönn löv, madárberkenye levele)
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria, fackelblomster, réti füzény)
Blueweed, (Echium vulgare, blåeld, terjőke kígyószisz - micsoda név, uramisten!)

And the result - this was the one when I realised that the steaming method I came up with might not work :( There wasn't enough water in the plastic container or I cooked it too long, anyway, the bundle got burned in the microwave. You can see it on the result. And my microwave still smells burnt. :(

kanadensiskt gullris, ringblomma, salvia, ljung

The result:

Common hollyhock (my neighbours have one that is deep purple, almost black) (Alcea rosea, stockros, mályvarózsa)

I decided not to wash it right away, after taking it out of the bundle. So I dried it, and keept it for a week or so.

Then washed it. Not much of the colour is left, but there is some. Kind of greenish-blue. Or bluish-green. (The brown in the end of the fabric comes from the iron rod I used to wrap it in - the iron gave it some extra mordanting - perhaps that's why it became greenish.
Again, not a very scientific way of experimenting. Which I now regret. I should have done two pieces, one with and one without the iron. Next time.

There were a few more plants and lichens I tried but they did not give any results, or - what is worse - I cannot find the sample :D Need to find a better way of marking my fabrics. I will have to buy some permanent fabric markers.

Anyway, to sum it all up, I have found a dozen or so plants that one can use to dye a piece of fabric yellow or beige, some of them a nice shade, most of them not so nice. The malva was the only one that had another colour.

Anyway, now I know. :D Not giving up. Autumn is here, berries and mushrooms might become the next victims. But before that, I still have a bunch of fabric I want to show you. Come back soon if you want to see the results of dyeing with avocado, red onions, beetroot etc.

And for all those who managed to read all this far, a little present. I made this cross stitch pattern just for you :D

Click on the picture to get to the pdf file. I hope you like it.


Butterflies - free cross stitch pattern

I went for a long walk yesterday. I have to keep moving because I really need to lose weight, and I am having problems with eating. I was also collecting plants and flowers to try in my eco-dyeing experiments. Unfortunately, in Sweden, summer is coming to a close. It is so sad in August. There are hardly any flowers left, and those are almost all white or yellow, except the thistles that are bright pink and purple. So not much colour is left in nature. It is still mostly green but some of the plants started to turn brown. It's the ferns that are the first and as there is a lot of them around here, there will be this ugly not so nice brown colour dominating the sight for a long time from now. A few trees started also turning their leaves, now, that will be pretty when all of them are golden or reddish brown.
And on top of it all, work starts on Monday. School opens on the 15th but we start a week earlier. I have to admit, I am not looking forward to it. I have rested a lot during this summer but my back was hurting almost all the time, and this week it has become even worse.

Anyway, as I was walking yesterday, I was thinking how good that the butterflies are still around, they provided such a lovely colour variation. So this was the inspiration for today's cross stitch pattern. I hope you will like them. I made them in shades of purple, but of course, as usual, I encourage you to try other colours too.

The eco-dyeing process is going on, I need to take some photos and organize my notes, then I will be back with another report.

I have also worked some on my next "spirit cloth" piece. Unfortunately, I wasn't very good at taking pictures as I was working on it. Here is a detail-photo, but I don't have a bigger one. Not sure where I am going with it next. Watch this place for more on it.

And the cross stitch pattern. Click on the picture and it will take you to the pdf file.

Happy stitching.


Dyeing fabric with plants - the results

Slow dyeing with plants

Last time I showed you some jars on my balcony. I experimented with spices from the kitchen as fabric dyes. A few days after I also collected some flowers and made more experiments. I used some garden flowers and also picked two wild plants, both yellow because they grow just outside my door. :D
For mordant I used alum. It was either put in the jas with the fabric and the dye material, as in the case of spices. Or I used fabric that had been cooked in water with alum for about an hour, then dried. I mostly used white cotton fabric, but also a piece of green linen. I also added some embroidery thread to some of the jars: in ecru, beige and soft lavender colours. Don't know the numbers, these were some threads I inherited after my aunt, and have no idea what they are. I read somewhere that you can change the original colours of the thread to something more soft, muted.

I had guests last week and we were travelling round a bit so I had no time to look at my experiments. The spices were outside for 17 days, the plants for 15 days. During this time there was some very hot weather, 25-28 degrees, lots of sun, and some not so warm, not so much sun. Swedish summer :D This is what I mean when I say slow dyeing: not putting and cooking the fabric in the dye, but leave it in it for a few days or weeks.

Here is the description of each piece. The colours in the photos are mostly true, except one or two faint ones. I write the English name of the plant (except the roses and peonies collected from my neighbour's garden), then in brackets you can find the Latin, the Swedish and the Hungarian name, too.

Lady's bedstraw, or yellow bedstraw (Galium verum, gulmåra, tejoltófű vagy tejoltó galaj)

It was put in the freezer for a few days. Then I cooked it in water, together with the stems, for an hour. (It would have been impossible to separate the flowers from the stem after being frozen. Might want to try again, and separate them before freezing.) Took out the plants and poured the liquid on some fabric (alum) in a jar. It was outside for 15 days. Nice light green color. Love it.

Garden or yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris, videört/strandlysning, közönséges lizinka)

"Tea"-method: put the flower heads in a jar, poured hot water on them, added the fabric. Almost no colour, only a very faint yellowish tint.

Roll-up method: the fabric had been cooked in alum. I wetted it, and put only the flower heads on the right side piece, and the flower together with the stems and leaves on the left side piece. Rolled them up, put them in a plastic bag. They were outside for 15 days.

I used a piece of twig for rolling up, which might have affected the colour, because the bark usually contains tannin. Should have made one with and one without, to see if it makes any difference. :/

Peonies (dark pink): A piece of fabric that had been cooked in alum. I wetted the fabric, put peony petals on it, and rolled it up. It was outside in a plastic bag for 15 days.

This is what it looks like after washing - on the right side.
The left side piece was made with peony petals that were frozen for a few days, then I poured hot water over them in a jar ("tea" method). The fabric had been washed in alum. I rolled up the fabric unevenly, hence the marble effect. I quite like it.

Roses (red): A piece of fabric that had been cooked in alum. I wetted the fabric, put rose petals on it, and rolled it up. It was outside in a plastic bag for 15 days. I was surprised to see how dark the marks are: dark brown, almost black. I want to try again for a shorter time, perhaps then I can get some rose or reddish colour.

After washing, this is how it looks: the fabric on the right side. Not pretty. :(

The left side piece was made with rose petals that were frozen for a few days, then I poured warm water over them in a jar. The fabric had been washed in alum. It became a sort of beige colour, quite nice but unexpected.


1 tsp alum, 1 tsp paprika powder, 5 dl hot water, 17 days

Almost no colour. Very faint orange on the white pieces, nothing noticable on the green linen.

In Hungary our most common dish, the pörkölt - a stew - is made with paprika. The cookbook says that you should put the paprika in hot oil because that's how the colour is activated. I also know from experience that it is very difficult to wash out stains from tablecloths after a pörkölt dinner. I though I might try this version, too.

I heated up 2 tablespoons oil, took it off the heat and added 2 teaspoons paprika. Then added 5 dl water and 1 tsp alum. Added the fabric folded and rolled up. It stood outside in a jar for 17 days. It worked, the colour is strong, but it did not penetrate the fabric, only reached the parts that were on the outside after folding. Even though I shook it a few times. Love it! But need to wash it some more, after washing it twice (once in dishwashing liquid, once in detergent) it is still a bit oily to the touch. (I am planning to do the same with tomatoes. Have you tried washing spaghetti sauce out of your clothes?)

1,5 tsp alum, 2 tsp turmeric, 7 dl water, 17 days outside in a jar

Lovely bright yellow. The threads also dyed.

1,5 tsp alum, 4 tsp turmeric, 7 dl water, a few metal caps

Love the colour, a bit stronger than the one with less turmeric, but I can see no difference from the metal caps. They were probably aluminum, apparently that does not work. Iron or copper is supposed to change the colour.
It also dyed the green linen!

1,5 tsp alum, 7 dl water, put the rolled up fabric in it, then added yellow onion skins on the top. This one I did not shake, I was curious to see how far the colour will reach. That's why most of the fabric is not dyed, but I like it. It is a beautiful light, soft yellow.

I am quite happy with my experiments. I definitely want to continue, the only problem is I only have one week left of the summer holidays. We will see how much time I can find after that.

The most difficult thing was to keep track of each jar and plastic bag. I wrote on them but the permanent marker has disappeared from quite a few of them. Luckily I wrote in my notes which jar contained which. But it was quite an organising task not to confuse them while washing and photographing. :)

If anyone would like to join me in experimenting, please do so, it would be even more fun. I will be back with more soon. Until then

happy stitching - and happy experimenting.