Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hats, Hats, Hats!

There's 20 miniature hats in the picture.

"What on earth did you do those for?" I hear you cry!

It's all part of Innocent Smoothies The Big Knit

What's that? It's a fund raising campaign for Age Concern. Innocent want lots of knitted hats to put on the top of their bottles of smoothies. These behatted bottles will then go into Sainsbury’s in November and for every one sold Innocent and Sainsbury’s will give 50p to Age Concern.

Almost 25,000 older people died of cold related illnesses last winter, so it’s important to not only raise awareness, but to raise money to stop it happening again. Age Concern will use the money raised to provide support to older people in winter including hot meals, blankets and advice on how to keep their houses warm.

My gran was frugal in many ways (hey, she was Scottish!) but she knew the importance of keeping warm. I've knitted these in her memory because I'm thankful that she didn't scrimp on her heating bills, and that she was in a position that she didn't have to.

I didn't find out until very late on about the campaign, so nwext year I'm hoping to have more hats to send. If you have any oddments of double knitting wool lying around, I'd be very grateful for it!

Pumpkin Trick or Treat Bags

I was in our local "everything £1" store and saw the kit that made both of these - a bargain or what!?

They are made from foam, and I had to lace together the backs and fronts onto a gusset, then attach the handles. I also had to stick on the features. A tip if you find something similar - use a decent glue, double sided tape doesn't work!

I'm keeping one chap, and the other is going to my toddler niece :o)

Fall Freebie - Trail Creek Farm

I stitched this for an exchange on the Bookcrossing UK Yahoo group I belong to - I made the design into a fridge magnet, as it was stitched on plastic canvas. I backed the design with white paper to hide reverse, and used UHU glue to stick on a (supposedly) self adhesive magnet.

I used different colours to those charted, but I think it looks pretty similar to the model. For a bit of extra pizazz I added a button from the bag I used on the Pumpkin Flower Sampler.

Design Details

Fabric: 14 count plastic canvas, fawn
Threads:various overdyed threads
Designer: Trail Creek Farm (Linda Ebright)
Chart Details: Fall - Freebie available from Trail Creek Farm's website
Stitch Count: 29H x 29V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Back stitch
Threads Used: The Dye Is Cast: Aztec Gold, Pumpkin Patch. Weeks Dye Works Pistachio Nut. Cross stitch in two strands.
Embellishments: Heart shaped button.
Modifications Made: Own choice of threads, added button.

Plum Berry Sampler - Bent Creek

I think I said pretty much what I wanted to in the last post :o)

I did wonder if the purple was a bit too bright, and thought about frogging all the specialty stitches and re-stitching in a more mulberry sort of colour, but then reality and common sense took over!

Design Details

Fabric: 28 count linen from Silkweaver - Lichen Moss
Threads: DMC stranded cotton
Designer: Bent Creek (Marsha Worley & Elizabeth Newlin)
Chart Details: The Plum Berry Sampler BC418 - Bent Creek (c) 2000
Stitch Count: 40H x 101V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Rhodes Stitch, Smyrna Cross Stitch, Algerian Eyelet Stitch
Threads Used: DMC 3835, 3023, 3787, 3021, 311, 869. Cross stitch in two strands.
Embellishments: Seven assorted buttons.
Modifications Made: Used DMC conversion, substituted recommended buttons

Pumpkin Flower Sampler - Bent Creek

(Hmmm - my pictures are rubbish. I wonder what is going wrong - I'm using macro, and flash and yet they are still very blurry!)

This is one of the set of three samplers published by Bent Creek and I've chosen to stitch them all on the same piece of linen, although I will frame or finish them individually.

I love them - the colours work beautifully - especially on this piece and they are quick but satisfying to stitch, as there are bands of raised stitches in the alphabet.

I chose to use the DMC conversions, and didn't use the recommended buttons - they would have cost me over £5, and the ones I used were from a couple of assorted packets that cost me less than that, and I've used them for several projects! They do go well, I think - I guess that's one of the advantages of having a favourite palette of colours, most things co-ordinate!

Design Details

Fabric: 28 count linen from Silkweaver - Lichen Moss
Threads: DMC stranded cotton
Designer: Bent Creek (Marsha Worley & Elizabeth Newlin)
Chart Details: The Pumpkin Flower Sampler BC420 - Bent Creek (c) 2000
Stitch Count: 40H x 101V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Rhodes Stitch, Smyrna Cross Stitch, Algerian Eyelet Stitch
Threads Used: DMC 436, 611, 3051, 434. Cross stitch in two strands.
Embellishments: Seven assorted buttons.
Modifications Made: Used DMC conversion, substituted recommended buttons

Schoolhouse Needleroll - Shepherd's Bush

This was stitched as part of a Round Robin (which never really got off the ground, this was the only piece completed), but came back to me needing beads added, which I've done. I then made a huge mistake - I pressed it with steam, and the red (WDW Lancaster Red) ran, and ran, and ran... it took two days of rinsing and drying to get (most) of the colour out. The hem stitching is supposed to be done in the same thread but I'm not going to risk it!

Design Details
chart has gone astray, will complete later.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pig Fridge Magnet

This little piggy is ten years old - the design was a cover kit from the August 1997 edition of Cross Stitcher, and has been unfinished since at least 2000, when I ran out of one of the shades of pink!

However, (s)he is now done and on my fridge, at last!

Design Details

Fabric: 14 count pink plastic canvas
Threads: DMC stranded cotton
Designer: not credited
Kit Details: Cover freebie, Cross Stitcher August 1997
Stitch Count: 28H x 17V
Stitches Used: Cross Stitch, Back Stitch, French Knots
Threads Used: DMC 956, 957, 310. Cross stitch in two strands. Back stitch in one strand.
Embellishments: None.
Modifications Made: None.

I Will Finish This Project - Jo Verso

I haven't posted for a while because life has got very busy - the new semester at University has started, and I have a heavy class schedule this time. Add to that a series of performance workshops, some family stuff and medical appointments and there's just not a lot of time left!

I've finally got round to uploading some finishes, and this is the first one. I think I stitched it about 2001/2002 and it's taken from Quick & Easy Cross Stitch - a design by the late Jo Verso. you can't see very clearly from the picture, but the motto is "I will finish this project before I start another one" - a worthy sentiment, but not one I adhere to very well! :o)

I appliqued the piece onto some strong ticking in a matching colour (thanks sis for the fabric!) and made it into a little duffel bag - it's big enough to take an A4 size chart and materials.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Banana and Cardamom Muffins

A quiet day, a nice reorganised kitchen, some bananas going spotty so what else was I going to do except bake?

I'm not a huge fan of bananas in cakes normally, but I wondered if whether adding some of my favourite spice would improve matters - and oh, it does, it does! Although I say so myself (as I am the one who came up with this recipe) they are nummy - quite subtle when eaten warm out of the oven but I imagine the favours will develop as they cool ... of course I will be testing this theory! ;o)

Banana and Cardamom Muffins

300g self raising flour
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground in pestle & mortar
115g demerara sugar (I'm sure granulated would be fine, but this is what I had in the cupboard!)
60g butter/margarine
2 tablespoons honey
125ml milk
2 eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 250g)

1. Preheat oven to 210 deg C (Gas 6-7) and prepare a 12 hole muffin tin, either by greasing on putting in liners (which you might want to spray with oil spray, because this stuff sticks like ...)
2. Sift flour and ground cardamom together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the middle of the mixture.
3. Melt the honey and butter together in a small pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a jug.
4. Add the butter mixture, egg mixture and mashed bananas to the well in the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined - don't worry about lumps, just make sure there's no dry flour visible.
5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, filling each hole about three quarters full.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
7. Remove muffins from tin and leave them to cool on a wire tray - although they are nice warm!

If I had the necessary tuits (and ingredients) I think these would be nice with a topping made of cream cheese, icing sugar and some grated lemon rind.

Bless This House - Cathy Bussi

I'm not really sure why I stitched this, because even then it wasn't really my style - but I did, about eight years ago, and it's languished unloved in my finishing box ever since. I finally made it up into a card which I will be sending to a friend who has recently moved home.

Strawberries Pincushion - Historic Needlework Guild

I found the "charm" I used to finish this off on a Sheffield street - it was a lost earring - a small gold heart studded with sparklies - I think it suits the piece very well!

This is a basic pincushion/mini pillow - the fabric backing is a floral print in matching colours which has been in my stash for years and years, as not only am I not buying more embroidery stash, I'm not buying fabrics and finishing items either until I'm back in employment!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Home Is Where The Heart Is - Donna Kooler Designs

This was another piece that had spent years in my "finished" box - I've made it into a little ornament that currently is residing in my smalls basket, but may eventually hang from a door handle.

I think the design came from a Donna Kooler book - one that I no longer have, and I can't remember the name of it now!

Harvest Time - Elizabeth's Designs

This design is from the booklet "A Stitcher's Year", however the colours are my own choices, and the fabric a little Silkweaver oddment.

I've finished this as a mini pillow, and it's backed with cream moire satin and trimmed with purchased cording.

I'm not entirely happy with how the stuffing looks, but overall I'm pleased with it, as the colours co-ordinate nicely with my living room!

Crewelwork Strawberries Pincushion - Historic Needlework Guild

I finished this piece as a pincushion because I wanted something simple and classic to set off the design. The backing is a piece of very old Laura Ashley cotton print, and the cording is your standard purchased cord. As an experiment, I stitched the cord on before I stuffed the pincushion, and it worked well - it was easier to manipulate, and I could hide the ends in the final piece of the seam after stuffing.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Welcome Knocker - Bent Creek

This is another Bent Creek kit which was finished a while ago. I made it up slightly differently to the instructions, which were to lace it to a board and back with another fabric covered board - instead I folded the excess fabric to the back, and I had enough to make it into this bell pull. I also made the tassel myself by teasing out two colours of purchasing silky cording. I did wonder if it was a bit too much, given the design detail of the curly wire, but it will be easy to remove if I change my mind.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Decisions, decisions...

As promised, Wye Needlecraft got my JCS Ornie issue in the mail yesterday, and I had it in my hot little hands in time for elevenses (fennel tea and stem ginger oat biscuits, yummy!). Now that's what I call excellent service!

I liked this issue much better than a couple of the previous ones - 2005 being particularly bad, if I recall. There are some real classic (and classy) projects this time round - ones that stand out include Brightneedle, Jeannette Douglas, Homespun Elegance and The Workbasket. There are fewer that make me go "huh?" although once again I'm left baffled at the Jemini Designs one. There are a couple of disappointing efforts - Elizabeth's Designs being one. The Wee Works angel is just awful, but I'm biased against angels anyway!

I think my first ornament from this book will be the Angel Stitchin's one - I think that the motto "hope your stocking is filled with love and dreams" is very appropriate for my little niece. She might prefer it to be full of books, jungle animals and new shoes but hey, she's not yet two, she's got a lot to learn! :o)

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Reward!

It was going to be "one of those" days today - I start classes again tonight for my degree; I had a number of health related things to sort out, including a date for a lumbar puncture (spinal tap); I had to chase up and find out why the Incapacity Benefit people hadn't responded to my submitted paperwork plus I had to write a covering letter for a job I really, really, really want...

Anyway, as a treat for all the heavy phone calls, I made one to Wye Needlecraft in Bakewell and ordered the new JCS Ornament issue. I haven't bought stash in ages (vintage Anchor threads from a charity shop don't count!) and I felt quite naughty giving my card number out - it wasn't something I needed, but I do have all the issues going back to 2000, so I wanted to keep the collection going. And actually I have an excuse - my sister would like me to stitch an ornament a year for my niece, Molly. I think I'm going to do two, though. Because my dad and my DBF have beards, Molly likes them - last year's Santa book with fluffy beard got stroked lots - so I'm going to do her a Santa each year, and then I'm going to do a Lizzie*Kate/Bent Creek style ornament too. I might not be stitching a Santa this year though - I have here a Santa I stitched for my gran, and which came back to me when she died on Christmas Day 2004. I don't know whether it would be nice to give it to Molly, kind of like an heirloom, or a bit macabre.

Boo! - Bent Creek

Although the stitched part of this was finished last year, I've only just assembled the tuck bag - which is shocking, given that the bag came pre-made with the kit, and all I had to do was iron interfacing onto the stitching, trim to size and secure with the buttons! At least I have this completed for this autumn, and now it's October, I will display the bag proudly!

I don't really go for Hallowe'en, although I have enjoyed the times I've spent in the USA around that holiday. Over here in the UK, there's not such a big fuss made, and Trick and Treating is rather casual and can be more worrying, as children don't always seem to be escorted by parents, and there's less organisation. Some teenagers think it is a licence to beg for money too :o(

Of course, when I was a kid, the tradition was known as "Mischief Night" in this part of the country - gates would be taken off hinges, dustbins overturned, "Knock Down Ginger" played on unsuspecting householders ... all tricks, no treats! :o) The main excitement was always reserved for Bonfire Night though - these days it's just another occasion that spreads out over weeks, which isn't great if - like me - you have pets who don't like fireworks.

My, I am grouchy this morning! I'd better go have breakfast before I post any more!