Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And breathe ...

I've been a bit quiet on the stitching front, as it's the end of my semester at Uni. Fortunately - because of the nature of my course - I don't have end of module exams, but I do get assignments to complete, and the one for my American Literature course just wouldn't come together! There were so many different avenues I could have explored even within one essay title - and did, in my research! - I had trouble narrowing it down. And then when I did, I narrowed it too far and needed another 400 words so had to expand it again LOL. Anyway, everything is done and submitted. Unfortunately, the lecturer won't actually be marking this essay anyway. Her brother was very recently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, and the prognosis is not good. And if that wasn't enough, last week her father was diagnosed with cancer of the gullet and it's inoperable due to his age - and the suspicion is that it's already metastasised to his kidneys. We were unanimous as a class that Karen should spend some quality time with her family rather than with our assignments. She's a great person, and a fantastic teacher, and this is just so sad for her.

Saturday I took some time off as it was my dad's birthday, and my uncle was on a flying visit from the USA. We all (Aged Parents, Uncle, me, The Hermit, Sis, Bro in Law, The Tot) went out for a lovely lunch at our favourite pub/restaurant in the Peak District and then had a wander round the 'plague village' of Eyam - very picturesque, but the history behind it is so sad. My dad loved the cushion I made for him - it was a UFO that had to be at least ten years old, I remember working on it when I lived in Sussex, and I moved back to Derbyshire in 1998!

As well as feeling smug about that, I also managed to finish all my May goals, despite the essay crisis, so I'm going to go and polish my halo...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Freebie Exchange Received

Yesterday was my dad's birthday - but I was the one who got a gorgeous stitchy package :o)

I was finishing a cushion for my dad (last minute, as always) when the postie knocked and I had to break off what I was doing to open it - and I'm so pleased I did, because Margie had stitched me something incredibly beautiful - a hardanger tassel - it's amazing! As well as the stitched item, Margie included a bath soak and flannel, and some really cute pegs too.

I will post photos soon, but today's task is to write my final essay of the semester and that's what I'm on the computer for ...

Thank you so much Margie, I just hope my photos will do justice to this lovely piece!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crazy Exchange to Edda

I've heard from Edda that the Crazy Exchange Isent has arrived, so I can now show you pictures.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you might recognise the design - it's a small sampler by Brenda Keyes, which I've stitched before, but this time, I've stitched it in my favourite DMC varigated red (DMC 115). I've also personalised it by adding mine and Edda's initial and the year, before making it up into a pinkeep. The fabric I chose for the backing can be seen in the middle picture.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Elephant Birthday Card

Design: Elephant Birthday Card
Designer: Not credited, came from a book given away with World of Cross Stitching
Thread: DMC as charted
Fabric: 14 count aida, antique white

I made the mistake of mentioning this design to my sister when I was half way through stitching something else as a card for my niece ... so guess who was putting the finishing touches to this on the morning of The Tot's big day? It was worth it, though, to see her smile when she recognised an "ellypant" :o)

Buzzing Around Biscornu - Barbara Ana Designs

Design: Buzzing Around Biscornu
Designer: Barbara Ana Designs
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 14 count aida

I stitched this for the Monthly Finishing Challenge and I'm so proud of myself, because it all assembled really nicely, and worked!

I was a little worried that the colour fabrics I'd chosen were too dark and gloomy, but I think they look okay, they are a bit more "me" than a really clear blue would have been - not that I don't like the finished biscornu I've seen stitched on that, but it's not a fabric I have in my stash.

I charted my own design for the underside based on elements in the original because I didn't want to stitch for ages and not have it seen - the lettering says "buzzing around" but by the time I'd graphed the flowers and letters, I didn't really save much time.

I can see more biscornus in my stitching future :o)

Button Alphabet Sampler - Brenda Keyes

Design: Button Alphabet Sampler
Designer: Brenda Keyes
Threads: Anchor Multicolours
Fabric: 22 count hardanger, antique white (stitched over 2)

This sampler comes from a book by Brenda Keyes - a designer to whom I turn to time and again when I'm looking for something to stitch as a gift. Her designs are timeless and tasteful and enjoyable to stitch, too.

This is quite different from her usual style, but I was looking for something suitable for my niece's second birthday.

The original design called for it to be stitched over 2 blocks of aida, and to use shirt buttons, but I wanted to keep to stuff I had in my stash, so I stitched it on hardanger and used a packet of tiny buttons I'd ordered online for another project, but had only needed 6!

I made this up into a wall hanging, with ribbon loops for suspending from dowel, but there is enough fabric hidden so that the piece can be framed at a later date.

It took me two evenings to complete - and that included the making up - I think I will keep this in my repertoire in case any friend decides to have a baby in future.

Bitty Bird Sampler - Twisted Thread

Design: Bitty Bird Sampler (from Harvest Trio leaflet)
Designer: Twisted Thread
Fabric: 28 count evenweave - I think the colour is bone
Threads: Gentle Arts Sampler Threads in Soot and The Dye is Cast in Marigold.

I loved this - it was a very quick stitch and I think the colour scheme is very effective. The chart shows it stitched over one, but I'm not a huge fan of that, so over two it was!

If I can find a suitable frame, I think I will frame it.

SAL Progress

This should possibly be "lack of progress" as I haven't done very much at all these last couple of weeks!

However, it seems that Sally and I are at the same place with it, so that's good!

I'm really enjoying stitching this, I might have to keep going with stitching a Just Nan once a week, as I have a number in my stash!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lovely Mail Day!

I had a great mail day on Friday :o)

First of all, Sally sent me the chart for Bee Charmer by Indigo Rose which she completed earlier this year, and which I loved - I love things with bees on, and this is a charming biscornu. Thank you Sally! Then there was another envelope from Carol and it contained a PIF gift - a personalised fob, from Nature's Alphabet by Elizabeth's Designs. It is beautifully stitched and finished. I will show a photo on Monday when I get back to work - as I've left the USB cable for the camera there ... Carol was also very thoughtful and included a whole host of Little House Needleworks freebies so that I can take part in the exchange on Hooked on Exchanges - thank you Carol!

I had a stash fondle and sort out yesterday as I had a day indoors, the weather wasn't great and The Hermit hasn't been well. Everything is need and tidy, and I kitted up my remaining goals for the month. My WIPs are going well, so I had a new start ;o) - the Buzzing Around biscornu from Barbara Ana Designs. It's going to look really cute :o)

I'm opting out of making a cushion cover for my dad, because I found the perfect one in a local discount store, so I'm going to attach the finished Celtic B to that - which should save some time, and the cover will look more professional. So I'm on track with finishing that. Of course, no sooner is his birthday over than Father's day will be upon us... but he's worth it! :o)

Today is SAL with Sally, so Just Nan's Morning Song will be getting an airing - I want to finish the rooster band and the floral band below it - hopefully it won't take too long, I have an essay to plan. This is for my American Literature course, and I think I'm going to use the title which talks about the portrayal of women in the books we've studied - and I'm going to talk about how needlework is used symbolically in that. Not that I'm obsessed or anything...

Hope you all have a good day, I'll be back tomorrow with progress pics (although probably not of the essay, that'd be dull...)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Little and often...

One of the reasons Celtic B became a UFO was that I was bored of all the backstitch. I really don't like doing backstitch once I've finished cross stitching - I like the shapes to stand up for themselves. And that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...

Anyhow ... I decided to make a start on the back stitch, as I'm up against a deadline on this which can't be missed, and I'm working on Celtic B as my travel project. I only have a short commute - less than 25 minutes each way on the bus, including waiting at the stop - and I've discovered that the backstitching is totally tolerable when broken down into such small bites, but the fact that I'm doing it twice a day is really making inroads into it.

There's probably a moral there somewhere... LOL

I popped into the LNS in town today, to pick up a skein of DMC. Why is it that the colour I run out of is never one of the spares I have on hand? Anyway, I saw the new "Satin" range from DMC. Looks just like their old rayon threads to me - am I missing something?

Talking of DMC, I was speaking to the owner of the very-L LNS on Friday (I was buying card mounts and peel offs, didn't realise I needed the thread...)Apparently, DMC have shut their long established warehouse in the UK in order to rationalise and save costs, so all stock is now coming from France, hence longer lead times and more out of stocks. Looks like DMC are just sorting themselves out to be here for the long haul, there's no need to start hoarding yet!

I've sorted out the projects I want to stitch for both the freebie exchange and the biscornu finishing challenge, I've been awfully organised this month :o) Once Celtic B and these two projects are finished, that's all my goals for the month done!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An update

Crumbs, I can't believe it's been ten days since I posted an update - I thought I was busy, this just confirms it!

I have been busy stitching, but you'll have to take my word for it - I've taken photos, but the USB cable I need is currently attached to my computer at work LOL

Last Sunday, I worked on Morning Song, my SAL with Sally. I finished a darning patternband, and started on the next big cross stitch band - one with roosters and flowers. That got halfway done, so my goal for today is to finish it.

When talking to my sister about the card design I was stitching for M, I foolishly mentioned an idea I'd discarded - only for my sister to say she liked the sound of that better. So, the Little Suzi's Zoo design I was working on is now in my UFO pile, and I finished a birthday card with an elephant on yesterday morning, before going to my niece's birthday barbecue ... it was worth it though, niece loves her elephants!

I also finished a sampler for M too - it was a very quick stitch, a big bold backstitch alphabet, trimmed with buttons, and made into a little wallhanging. It will be suitable for when she moves out of her nursery and into her bedroom, which will be pink and purple. Pink is currently the only colour she can reliably name - which is a little odd, as she's such a tomboy otherwise :o)

I also picked up an old UFO which years ago was going to be a present for my dad - better late than never! I was surprised at how little really there was to do, although that is just as well, given my schedule! At least his birthday card is finished, so my goals list is looking rather good this month already!

In other news, my job may not last past the summer, as one of our funders won't be renewing our contract for services. It's not definite though - if I can find us more funding soon (which has always been part of my role) then I will stay - and it's looking promising, after a slow start. I'm lucky in that someone I know does a similar job for another theatre company, and she's been telling me not to panic :o)

Spring is almost summer like - the last week has been warm and sunny, and green shoots are everywhere. Although I live in a city, I'm close to a park, and our block of flats has a communal garden with some mature trees and shrubs. It looks like a squirrel has taken up residence again - we used to have a pair live in one of the trees, but the tree needed work, and I think the tree surgery scared them off. I've also seen some goldfinches, and for the first time, a long tailed tit - they are so pretty! The other day, I even saw a peregrine falcon, perched on the building opposite. They are quite uncommon, and it was a lovely thing to see.

The good weather meant that my sister had a barbecue for M's birthday yesterday - The Tot was 2 - I can't believe how quickly the time has gone. She's such a little character, busy and bustling around, and very quick on the uptake! She has a large and varied vocabulary, and the odd three or four word sentence is there - there will be no peace soon :o) I'm Aunty NicNoc - and I have company - she calls two of her Fisher Price Little People by the same name, and there is a certain resemblance! LOL

Anyway, it looks like being another glorious day here - we don't have any plans so I might just take my stitching and my book to the ruins of an old abbey we have down the road, and just sit and enjoy life under the trees :o) When I say "just down the road" I mean it - it's only a ten minute walk - lucky me!

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Trade List

I've just spent more time that I thought would be needed sorting out stash I have to swap. It was a scary amount ...

If you'd like to see the list, it's over on my trades and wishes blog.

All items are from a non smoking home. You can find the up-to-date list of items here

Meme's Quilts - Rooster Strut

Design: Rooster Strut
Designer: Meme's Quilts
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 10 count Tula

I should have pressed this before I took the photo - let's say it adds to the rustic charm, okay ;o)

This stitched up quickly, as it was done using three strands of floss on 10 count fabric, and I left off all the back stitch outlining - I don't think it needed it, and it's not something I enjoy doing.

I'm going to make this up into a little pillow - any excuse for a trip to the fabric shop :o)

200th Post Giveaway!

This is my 200th post on this blog, so I thought I'd celebrate by running my first giveaway!

If you'd like the chance of receiving something stitched or crafted by me, then just comment below. I will get The Hermit to draw a name out of the hat and one person will get a little "something".

Please comment by midnight BST on Sunday to be entered into the draw.