Sunday, September 30, 2007

October Goals

I want to do some seasonal stitching before getting caught up in the Christmas stuff, so these are my goals for October:

Finishing - If The Broom Fits - Lizzie*Kate

Finishing - Pig Fridge Magnet Freebie Kit

Finishing - July Needleroll - The Victoria Sampler

Finishing - Groundhog Day - Bent Creek

Stitching - Acorn Scissor Case - Lizzie*Kate

Stitching - October Sampler Accent - Periwinkle Promises

Stitching - Pot Pourri Sachets - DMC

Stitching - September Sampler Accent - Periwinkle Promises

UFO - Bee Treat - The Trilogy

UFO - Country Mice - Needlecraft Magazine

UFO - Moonshadow Sampler - Shepherd's Bush

UFO - Pumpkin Flower Sampler - Bent Creek

UFO - Schoolhouse Needleroll - Shepherd's Bush

WIP to finish - Pastoral Sampler - Helen Philipps

WIP to finish - Sampler Bookmark - Needlecraft Magic

WIP to finish - Strawberry - Needleworks by Sue Hawkins

WIP to finish - Potted Flowers - The Bold Sheep

There's quite a lot there, but I'm confident I'll get them all done, as long as I don't get sidetracked!

September Goals Review

Times flies! As it's the last day of the month, I ought to check in on my progress for the month:

Finishing - Baa - The Bold Sheep - not done - the fabric I thought I had that would do for this project is nowhere to be found, and as I'm on the stash wagon, I'm not buying anything!

Finishing - Bless The Blooms - Sanman Originals - not done - I'm not sure I want to make this piece into a wall hanging any longer, but neither am I sure I want to make it into a needleroll. I'm going to ponder a little longer, I think!

Finishing - Bless This House - Cathy Bussi - done - made into a card for a friend who is moving home shortly.

Finishing - Bumble Bee Needleroll - Lorri Birmingham Designs - done.

Finishing - Celtic Stones - Textile Heritage - done - made into a birthday card for my dad.

Miscellaneous - List Kits and UFOs - done - and what a list of shame the UFO one is! :o)

Stitching - Sewing - Penelope - done - and finished into a mini pillow too!

Stitching - Shep - Anchor - not done - may not do at all. Kit has gone back into stash while I ponder!

Stitching - Spring Needleroll - Lorri Birmingham Designs - done - and finished into a needleroll too!

Stitching - Strawberry - Needleworks by Sue Hawkins - a good start has been made on this, but I'm having trouble with one of the specialty stitch blocks.

Stitching- Strawberry Pincushion - Historic Needlework Guild - done - and finished into a pincushion.

UFO - The White House - Rowandean - not done - instructions have gone AWOL.

UFO - Wild Rose - Needleworks by Sue Hawkins - done.

I'm happy with my achievements, especially as I've completed a number of things that weren't on the goals list at all:

Finishing - I Will Finish This Project - Jo Verso = Stitching Bag

Finishing - Home Is Where The Heart Is - Donna Kooler = Ornament

Finishing - Harvest Time - Elizabeth's Designs = Mini Pillow

Finishing - Welcome Knocker - Bent Creek = Bell Pull

Finishing - Boo - Bent Creek = Tuck Pouch

Finishing - Sewing - Penelope = Mini Pillow

Finishing - The Rabbit - Bent Creek = Mini Pillow

Finishing - Love Candlewick Heart - NMI = Mini Pillow

Finishing - Bumble Bee - Penelope = Mini Pillow

Finishing - Saturday's Sampler - Lavender Wings = Bell Pull

Finishing - Primitive Primroses - Ewe & Eye & Friends = Bell Pull

UFO - Pink Rose Freebie Kit

UFO - Pig Fridge Magnet Freebie Kit

UFO - The Rabbit - Bent Creek

Whew! Some of the finishing projects go back more years than I care to remember - they pre-date both my current home and current relationship - and we've been together nearly six years!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Rabbit - Bent Creek

This was a joy to stitch - even the swirls weren't as difficult as they looked! There is a mistake in the upper body of the rabbit, but unless you peer very closely at the chart and compare it to the finished piece, you can't tell!

The expression on the rabbit's face reminds me of my guinea pigs :o)

This was another eBay purchase, and the kit came complete with a mini pillow and buttons for finishing, so that's what I used, and I'm very pleased with the result:

The carrot buttons are so cute, and each one is different!

Design Details

Fabric: 32 count linen, Iced Cappuccino
Threads: DMC stranded cotton
Designer: Bent Creek
Kit Details: The Rabbit, Bent Creek (now out of print)
Stitch Count: 43H x 74V as charted
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Long Stitch, Satin Stitch
Threads Used: DMC 3799, 611, 612, 3021, 3768, 3051, 3052. Cross stitch in two strands.
Embellishments: Gold plated charms - 1 x star.
Modifications Made: Long stitches on patch and tail stitched in two strands, not one.

Sewing - Penelope

I know I said I was planning to finish this as a pincushion, but I loved the fabric so much I though it would be a shame to only have a small border ... so I made a mini pillow (it's about 9"/22cm) square.

I bought the fabric years ago in Hobbycraft - it's a Mary Engelbreit print, and it was on sale for something like £4 a metre, which seems well worth it now!

The backing fabric is black felt, which helps give some structure to the piece. I've made a teeny matching pin cushion too.

Love - NMI

This was a kit I bought on a whim from eBay, as I'd never tried candlewicking before. I'm not sure I would try it again, as it appears to be French knots worked in coton a broder on calico - so it's a bit of a struggle to pull threads through, and repetitive too!

This has been languishing in my "to make up" pile for several years, so I finally made it into a little padded heart. I think the original instructions called for lace to go round the edges, but as you've already gathered, I'm not the girly frou frou type, so I used some plain-ish braid to hide the little marks left by the transfer round the edges.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Saturday's Sampler - Lavender Wings

This was stitched as a Round Robin on the (now defunct/imploded) Yahoo group "Round Robin Crazy". It was stitched in the DMC conversions given on the chart, which is why it looks quite a bit different to the model on the chart.

Stitched in 2005, this hasn't languished as long as some pieces in my "to be finished" box! I made this into a bell pull by backing it with glazed cotton in cream, which had been given more body by ironing on some lightweight interfacing. Initially, I made this sandwich up wrongly, so I had to do a little unpicking - fortunately, I was stitching by hand (as I always do) so it wasn't as tough as unpicking machine stitching!

I gave the final piece a press, and even from the wrong side, managed to damage the button - it softened and "fell off" the stitching - fortunately, it was repairable, but I will be ultra cautious next time!

Having done all the work, I'm not sure where to hang this, as it doesn't really fit in with decor in the living room or bedroom - it might end up in the hall, which due to its small size and many doors, has some narrow spaces just crying out for bell pulls!

Primitive Primroses - Ewe & Eye & Friends

I acquired this from a trade on the (now defunct) Chartswappers Yahoo Group - I got quite a surprise when the chart arrived with the UFO! I loved the colours, so actually finished this piece rather speedily. However, that was back in 2003 and since then, it's sat in my box of finished pieces awaiting making up.

I chose to make it into a bell pull, as custom framing is so expensive, and thin, narrow frames are hard to find off the shelf. There was enough of the linen to basically fold and stitch to the finished shape, although I had to make the back seam off centre as the stitching wasn't quite centred on the fabric. I used threads pulled from the edges to sew up the seams - this means that my stitching is practically invisible, which is a huge advantage!


As asked on Stitched With Love and Cat Hair:

Would you ever stitch one of your BAPs a second time? (This does not include starting over because of mistakes, bad fabric, etc., rather stitching something from the first stitch for a second time.)

I don't really stitch very big projects, and I can't conceive that I would stitch them twice if I did! However, I'm going to be stitching another version of the wedding sampler I made for my sister (although in a different colourway) at her request - for her sister-in-law. And I have a large blackwork sampler my best friend always admires, and one day I will stitch her a version too ... she deserves it after nearly twenty years of love and support!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Celtic Stones - Textile Heritage

This looks really nice as a card, so I don't think I'm going to frame this either! I think I will save it for my dad for his birthday next year!

Bumble Bee - Penelope

I changed my mind about framing this, and made it into a mini pillow with some of the lovely bee print fabric that's been sitting my stash! I hate cutting into a new piece of fabric, but really, what's the point in having it if I don't use it? This was finished as part of my finishing frenzy yesterday - I sat and stuffed it watching The Remains of the Day on DVD :o)

Spring Needleroll - Lorri Birmingham Designs

Another needleroll, another beehive, another Lorri Birmingham design! I think there might be a trend here...

I miscounted centring this piece vertically, so I stitched a compensating row at the top to make it look more even when it was made up, otherwise it was fairly straightforward - even though I'm not a fan of fractional stitches, these didn't cause too many problems.

I think the bunnies look a bit "cutesey" but hopefully the focus is the beehive!

This is the last of my Lorri Birmingham kits I'm intending to stitch - I have a Santa needleroll chart, but that's waiting for supplies when I get off the wagon!

I finished this off as a needleroll almost as soon as I had stitched it, which lead to a great finishing flurry yesterday, as I had my sewing kit out!

Design Details

Fabric: 28 count linen banding, white
Threads: DMC stranded cotton
Designer: Lorri Birmingham
Kit Details: Spring Needle Roll # K287, Lorri Birmingham Designs
Stitch Count: 48H x 59H as charted
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Fractional Cross Stitch, Back Stitch, French Knot.
Threads Used: DMC 316, 340, 433, 435, 436, 437, 470, 471, 738, 778, 3776, 3820, 3821, 3822. Cross stitch in two strands, back stitch in one.
Embellishments: Gold plated charms - 1 x butterfly, 2 x bee
Modifications Made: Extra row of stitching added to top of needle roll.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A commission!

My sister has asked me if I will stitch a sampler for her sister-in-law's forthcoming wedding, which is pencilled in for Good Friday next year.

My sis has suggested I do another version of the sampler I made for her when she got married (I still have the pattern) which is sensible, as I don't know SiL's tastes for choosing anything different and she's admired that one - SiL does stitch herself, in a small way, so I know whatever I do, it will be appreciated.

I still do want to peruse my stash and the web though for ideas. I don't normally repeat pieces! I need a project that won't take a lot of time, isn't overly flowery or sentimental, is tasteful (no cartoon characters) and classic. I wasn't impressed with anything on Sewandso, so I'm off to Hoffman... like I need an excuse! LOL! However, if anyone has any suggestions, please speak up!

How to reduce your UFO pile in one easy step...

... list the unwanted and unloved projects on Freecycle and let them go to a home where they will be actually stitched and finished!

I've done this for a couple of needlepoint canvases and now a couple of cross stitch projects and it's very liberating! Bye bye guilt, bye bye resentment, hello to a whole new world of only stitching projects because I really, really, want to! :o)

Goals Review

It's midway through the month, so I thought it a good time to review my goals for September:

New Starts
  • Strawberry Pincushion - Historic Needlework Guild - finished!
  • Strawberry - Needleworks by Sue Hawkins - a good start has been made on this - the four sided stitched outlines have been done, and all the cross stitch in the central blocks.
  • Spring Needleroll - Lorri Birmingham Designs - finished! - needs making up.
  • Shep - Anchor - not even started - I took this out and looked at it, but it just did not appeal. I may in fact pass this on, as I'm not sure I'm ever going to stitch this.
  • Sewing - Penelope - finished! Awaiting making up into a pincushion.
  • Baa - The Bold Sheep
  • Bless The Blooms - SanMan Originals
  • Bless This House - Cathy Bussi
  • Bumble Bee Needleroll - Lorri Birmingham Designs - done!
  • Celtic Stones - Textile Heritage
  • The White House - Rowandean
  • Wild Roses - Needleworks by Sue Hawkins - finished!

List the remainder of my kits in my "Next Up on The Hoop" spot - done! Along with my UFOs as well!

Bumble Bee Needleroll - Lorri Birmingham Designs

Whilst I was in a finishing mood last night, I also finished off the Bumble Bee Needleroll - one of my goals! The seam is a French seam, stitched by hand, so all raw edged are enclosed.

Stuffing needlerolls always takes longer than one would imagine, but I think it's important to tease out the stuffing, stuff firmly and evenly, and have a nice cylindrical shape! After all, what's a few minutes when one has spent several hours on the stitching, and is going to have the joy of looking at the finished piece for years? The trouble is, I'm torn - I'm impatient so I just want the thing finished, and have to curb my tendencies to cram all the stuffing in willy nilly but on the other hand I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I want to do things properly! As I get older, the perfectionist side is coming out more, but the advantage to age is more experience, so I can achieve the results I want almost at the speed I want! LOL

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far on my blog - it is appreciated! I hope I don't ramble too much - I tried at first for a very factual blog, but then I found pieces had stories to tell, and I have to tell them! :o)

Sweetheart Needleroll - The Sweetheart Tree

This delicate sampler/needleroll was (mostly) enjoyable to work, and fairly straightforward but the very delicacy of the stitching made it seem more complex than it was! A little frogging on some of the back stitch was needed, but overall it was fine!

The colours work well together, and the piece has more impact made up into a needleroll than flat.

This is definitely as pink and girly as I get. It's not really "me" although I admit it's very pretty! My favourite thing about this are the specialty stitches - a needleroll is big enough to get the hang of them, but small enough for boredom not to set in!

Finishing was a little different to usual, but looked very effective. I've taken to making all my needlerolls with a French seam - it's more time consuming, especially as I construct them by hand, not machine - but in my opinion, it's the neatest way.

Design Details

Fabric: 32 count Belfast linen, antique white
Threads: DMC stranded cotton, #12 perle, Needle Necessities overdyed floss
Designer: Sandra Cox Vanosdall
Chart Details: Sweetheart Needleroll - The Sweetheart Tree (c) 1995
Stitch Count: 60H x 72V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Diamond Eyelet Stitch, Satin Stitch, Back Stitch, Oblique Herringbone Stitch, Mosaic Stitch, Horizontal Knit Stitch, Herringbone Stitch, Tent Stitch
Threads Used: DMC ecru, 224, 225, 503, DMc #12 Perle in ecru, NN #158 Cluny Rose. Cross stitch in two strands, back stitch in one.
Embellishments: Mill Hill Petite Seed Beads #40123, Rose Quartz Heart Bead.
Modifications Made: None.

Strawberry Pincushion - Historic Needlework Guild

I seem to have a subsection in my stash for strawberries - they've crept up on me with me noticing, I must say - but it becomes more obvious when you list your stash alphabetically!

This was another Historic Needlework Guild kit, which was fairly quick and easy to stitch. I omittted the over-one stitching in the centre, and won't be attaching the heart charm that came with the kit, but I'm not sure what to replace it with. I'm going to have a browse through the scrapbooking charms and things my local LNS has, and I might even have a trip to Hobbycraft tomorrow, on my way back from the circus that I volunteer at.

I will probably make this into a pin cushion, as I think it would look a bit dull framed.

Design Details

Fabric: 28 count linen, antique white
Threads: unknown stranded cotton
Designer: Alice Okon
Chart Details: Strawberry Pincushion (Little Exquisites Collection) - Historic Needlework Guild (c) 1997
Stitch Count: 64H x 64V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Four Sided Stitch, Algerian Eyelet
Threads Used: unknown stranded cotton in three shades of pink, ecru and two shades of green. Unknown gold metallic. Cross stitch in two strands.
Embellishments: None.
Modifications Made: All cross stitch stitched over two. Silver heart charm omitted.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bee Kind Needleroll - Lorri Birmingham Designs

Now my camera is working here is the needleroll in 3D!

Full details about this design can be found in an earlier post, here.

Sewing - Penelope

My friend Sue sent me this little kit as a RAK.

I have an old Singer sewing machine just like the picture. It truly is a family heirloom. It originally belonged to my "little" great gran, who was born in 1901, and was hand powered at the time. It passed to my gran on her marriage, and she made many clothes using this machine for herself and my mum during the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1967, my grandad paid for a motor to be fitted to the machine as a wedding present for my mum, and my mum stitched her wedding dress herself with a little help from this workhorse - which doesn't do fancy stitches, only straight - it doesn't even do reverse!

The sewing machine moved south when my mum did, and was put to good use clothing myself and my sister - often in matching dresses, but hey, that was style in the 1970s! About 1980 Mum was finally able to afford a more up to date machine, and the Singer was put out to retirement. For many years, it was loaned to a family friend's daughter - it must have been a good fifteen years or more - and was given up for lost. But good friends come through, and the machine was returned, still in excellent working order. Mum was contemplating selling it, but as my modern machine had never been reliable, I offered to exchange it! I think my mum was relieved I wanted it, because this machine is so much a part of our family history and has sentimental value. My sister doesn't sew at all, so at least there was no arguments :o)

The machine is very very heavy, and setting it up usually requires a phone call to my mum for help, as it has it's little quirks :o) But swap it for a modern model? No thanks!

As for this design - a very quick little stitch, and the finished piece is going to be made into a pincushion, when I find the piece of "perfect" fabric I know I have somewhere in my stash!

Design Details

Fabric: 14 count aida, white
Threads: Anchor stranded cotton
Designer: Not credited
Chart Details: Penelope "Momentos" PM10 Sewing - Coats Crafts UK/Wm. Briggs (c) 1996
Stitch Count: 26H x 26V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Back Stitch
Threads Used: Anchor stranded cottons in 883, 884, 295, 75, 398, 400, 403, 77. Cross stitch in two strands, back stitch in one.
Embellishments: None.
Modifications Made: None.

Wild Roses - Needleworks by Sue Hawkins

This was one of my target UFOs for this month.

Originally, I started it in December 2004 after the death of my gran, to fill time on a very long car journey to her funeral (she lived 400 miles away) and to fill in what I thought might be awkward times in the packing up of her estate. But strangely, although it was a very sad time, there were some good memories made. My uncle and aunt had come over from the USA, my parents were there, my sister and her husband were there, and there was a lot of laughter and remininscence. So not a huge amount of stitching got done!

When left as a UFO, I had actually done nearly all of the sampler, apart from the top flowers in the border, and the green leaves. I think I thought the border might be complex, but when broken down, after the initial swirl, the pattern repeats and is very simple, so finishing the sampler only took a couple of sessions.

The quilt effect blocks are areas of specialty stitches - in this case bargello and Rhodes stitch - which make the sampler a little more interesting to work, and add texture nicely. The linen is so crisp, it was a little awkward to work in a hoop without catching, but the effect is so nice!

My gran loved flowers, and was a very skilled gardener - gardens were her passion, much as stitching is mine. She was always very proud of anything I stitched for her - the walls and shelves of her home had many small framed pieces which had originally been cards - I think she'd saved everything I'd ever sent :o) Roses remind me of her, because she had a number of old fashioned rambling roses on the high stone walls of her garden. There are another three samplers in this series, and each has some significance to me, and a memory of my gran:

Strawberry - my gran's garden produced the most luscious strawberries (and raspberries) - gran jealously guarded these against the birds and snails, and our summer trips are full of delicious bowls of berries - for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if we wanted! She also grew many of her own vegetables, and there really is nothing to beat newly dug potatoes and freshly picked peas lightly cooked and served with fish landed at market that morning! I'm hoping to finish this sampler this month.

Iris - irises were a favourite flower of my gran, and a favourite of my mum's, too. Gran's funeral flowers were in her favourite colour, blue, and included some gorgeous irises. My goal is to stitch this and Heartsease before the anniversary of my gran's death (Christmas Day).

Heartsease - I love the happy smiling faces of heartsease and pansies - I love the old fashioned name, and their apparent delicacy - when really they are tough and will flower in almost any season. They are one of my favourite flowers. They also symbolise "thoughts" - and I have so many good memories of my gran.

Design Details

Fabric: 28 count linen, natural
Threads: DMC stranded cotton
Designer: Sue Hawkins
Chart Details: Wild Rose (The Language of Flowers Series) - Needleworks by Sue Hawkins
Stitch Count: 86H x 86V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Four Sided Stitch, Back Stitch, Rhodes Stitch, Bargello
Threads Used: DMC stranded cottons (no numbers given) in four shades of pink, two of green, two of mauve, two of blue, two of yellow, plus brown and navy. Cross stitch in two strands.
Embellishments: None.
Modifications Made: None.

Beehive - Lifetime Samplers

This sampler is one that looks a lot better "in real life" than it does in pictures - the colours blend very harmoniously together.

I'm not normally a fan of the slatted beehive images, but this one looks good, and it's nice to have a change from time to time!

I did have to frog the border a couple of times, which is what you get when you stitch when tired - in my defence, it was because I really wanted to finish this!

The kit originally came with cream aida, but I switched it out for a more muted evenweave - I think it was Jazlyn, it was certainly very smooth to stitch on!

Design Details

Fabric: 28 count Jazlyn evenweave, bone (I think)
Threads: DMC stranded cottons
Designer: Lauren Fraser Turner
Chart Details: Beehive (Little Charmers Series) No. 73 - Lifetime Samplers - (c) 1999
Stitch Count: 50H x 92V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch,Back Stitch,
Threads Used: DMC stranded cottons in 3047, 729, 680, 829, 471, 937, 3753, 340, 554. Cross stitch in two strands.
Embellishments: Brass bee charm.
Modifications Made: Substituted 14 count cream aida with 28 count evenweave in bone.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Yay! A non stitching happy dance...

I found the charger for the camera batteries, so I can take photos of my finished pieces, rather than relying on the scanner - which isn't that great when you add buttons and beads to pieces! Or to take a picture of a needleroll...

I've also cleaned up loads of computer files, including old pictures, and uploaded them to my Webshots gallery - do please feel free to browse! I will be adding more shortly, plus a trade/sale album.

I feel very accomplished, but now it's back to the housework...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

One Goal Achieved - The List of Shame!

I delved under the bed yesterday and found the not so pretty side of my stash - the large kits, the forgotten stuff and the UFOs ...

I was quite pleased with some of the stuff I found - there's a kit I want to stitch for my baby niece, for example, but as for the rest... oh dear!

For example, most of the UK stitching magazines used to come with a free kit each month, and I collected these almost obsessively. About five years ago, I did finish a whole pile off on my journeys too and from work. It was about the time I stopped buying the magazines as it was a very expensive habit, considering how few projects from the magazines I stitched! Anyhow, there was also a big pile of unfinished freebie kits lurking - mostly because of little mistakes made, I fear. It's shameful really, as most of these could be made up in an evening or two ...

There's also some larger UFOs - some of which go back ten years or so, so I've added them to the list of shame as well. I took pictures of them in 2003 and I'm not proud to say that most of them haven't been touched since! There was a Christmas sampler dated 2001 in there...

For others with long standing UFOs - please, even if you aren't going to admit you even have UFOs to the rest of the world, do go back and check to see if you've left any needles in the pieces - I had three that were badly rusted and have left marks, including one which has left marks on the stitched part of the piece :o(