I’ve never done specialty stitches before. Are there any tutorials out there?
Fortunately, in this age of Youtube, there are often lots of how to’s available out there if you just search. Most of the time, Martina’s diagrams are pretty good if you can enlarge them on your computer or tablet. Practice the stitches on a scrap of cloth with some cotton floss to get a feel for it before you stitch on your project. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
How can I tell which specialty stitch to stitch and which fiber to use?
Read, read, read, and re-read the instructions. Even those of us who have stitched many a Chatelaine spend a great deal of time reading the instructions. Typically, Martina writes the instructions working from the center outward, particularly for mandalas. If color choice is difficult to discern, try checking with the color version of the pattern to see if that is helpful. Occasionally, something gets left out of the instructions, which is why this website contains helpful hints and corrections for each design. If you have done those things and are well and truly stuck, then by all means, make a post on the Chatelaine Support Group asking the question. Chances are it is something the admins should add to the hints and errata section!
I cannot tell from the pattern how many fibers or how to space the specialty stitch
In general, the image for the specialty stitch in the pattern is a generic placeholder. The specific instructions are within the detailed instructions of the design. For example, the "icon" for the Algerian Eyelet is the same throughout the pattern; however, one may be stitched with two ply every other hole and another may be stitched with one ply, every hole. Again, read the instructions very carefully and multiple times.
Fractional stitches are represented by two symbols bisecting the pattern square and are used to emphasize shapes or smooth lines. They are completed by creating a 3/4 stitch and a 1/4 stitch. If using Aida, the center square must be pierced and for this reason, some stitchers find linen or evenweave more suitable for fractional stitches.
The pattern does not dictate which color is the 3/4 stitch and which is the 1/4 stitch. Martina advises the more salient or important "feature" have the 3/4 stitch. In this example, the blue color is the background and the green is a leaf. The blue is the 1/4 stitch and the green the 3/4 stitch.
In some cases, the colors may be equally important to the design, in which case, TWO - 3/4 stitches can be used (double 3/4 stitch). It is helpful to use a laying tool or another needle to make sure the two long legs of the 3/4 stitches lie parallel.
Half stitches are indicated by two tiny symbols of their color in two corners of the grid square. These may be very small on the PDF and will be readily apparent once the PDF is enlarged.
The half stitch direction is indicated by the direction of the symbols. In the example above, the half stitch is from the lower right hand corner to the upper left hand corner.
The half stitch is stitched with one ply of thread unless otherwise specified in the detailed instructions.
The half stitch can be pulled tightly to create a lacy effect if desired.
There are numerous Jessica tutorials on line which show the variety of sizes and shapes that can be accomplished.
Martina also includes detailed instructions for each type of Jessica used within the design. You may need to greatly enlarge these on your tablet or within your viewing app.
Here is an excellent Jessica tutorial by Mrs. MilkybarKid (aka Amanda Koppelow) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbDNLq8jk-k