Monday, September 22, 2008

Prairie Schooler Exchange

Design: From the Pins and Needles Chart, Book 115
Designer: Prairie Schooler
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, cream

I've just heard that Ulla has received my HoE Prairie Schooler Exchange. I really loved stitching this - just looking at it brings back memories of the Olympics - which is perhaps why I didn't stop at just one item, I was so immersed in listening to the Games!

All the designs come from Book 115, Pins and Needles. I modified the construction of the scissor keep - it is lined with red felt and backed with the fabric you can see in the photo. It was a bit of 'suck it and see' finish and I nearly didn't send it. The pinkeep is also backed with the printed fabric. The thread fob uses an element from the design and I added Ulla's name to it - the reverse has another fob and my initials and the year. To complete the exchange, I added a PS chart - Welcome Home.

Busy Weekend

Thank you everyone for your kind comments on the torrent of posts I've made lately - I've been trying to catch up - during my summer 'vacation' from the world of work I was quite busy with the finishes, wasn't I? I guess I don't really realise unless I see everything here, as so much of my stuff goes to other people! However, now I'm back gainfully employed, things might slow down a little!

Market Square, Nottingham

I did quite a bit of stitching and knitting on trains this weekend, though. Saturday I went to Nottingham, to a regular Bookcrossing meet. I like Nottingham - it has a bad reputation for crime in some areas, but the centre is nice and has some great shopping, if that's what floats your boat - it doesn't do much for me, in general, but I usually find time to visit Hotel Chocolat :o) The meet was great fun - my sock was duly admired, and we laughed hugely over plans for a forthcoming reading challenge, we really were getting silly! The only downside to the day were major engineering works on the line, which doubled my journey time there and back, but the network is repairing a Victorian tunnel.

Leeds City Square

Yesterday, I headed north on the train instead of south, and met my closest friend J in Leeds. It was great to see her, as we haven't met for a while. J had a personal tragedy early on in the year and has hidden herself away since then, much to my distress. We've known each other 21 years and it was horrible knowing she was hurting and being helpless ... we've seen each other through good and bad times before so I knew our friendship wasn't in doubt but ... Anyway, we had a lovely time in the sun, taking in an exhibition and eating lunch outside a waterfront restaurant and catching up on the news. J isn't quite her old self, but I'm feeling less worried about her.

Leeds is another city with a great reputation for shopping - it had the first non-London branch of Harvey Nichols, for example and it rather overshadows the other cities in Yorkshire - regional TV output comes from there, which I think is a factor. I'm biased but I think Sheffield is a nicer city - there's so much more green space, and a cosier feel, and anywhere in the city you can look up and see hills :o)

Stitching: Pumpkin by JBW Designs, worked on my sock and on my HoE Halloween Exchange

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Birth Sampler 2 - Helen Philipps

Design: Birth Sampler from The New Cross Stitch Sampler Book
Designer: Helen Philipps
Threads: DMC and DMC Color Variations, Seaside Treasures
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, bone

This was a commission from my sister for her friend, as she loved the sampler I made for her so much!

I altered the layout slightly, to incorporate the birth details, as my sister thought that would be a nice touch - and so did I, I didn't want to make something identical, I like all my pieces to be individual. The colours are used slightly differently too.

Birthday Cards

July and August are always manic months for birthdays in my family. First of all, there's my sister, then my brother in law, then my mum, then my partner's sister and finally, my partner.

I've already posted a picture of my sister's card which I made using ribbon embroidery, but here are the others:

It's really hard to find cards for men that aren't a bit of a cliche - cars, football, fishing or sailing seem to be about the limits! This was a card from a kit to which I added peel off lettering. I can't say I recommend stitching with raffia, it's a bit of a struggle :o)

Stitching with silk organza is much more pleasant and it grows so quickly! I do get a bit tangled up with the sticky tape on the reverse, but fortunately, no one needs to see that! Again, this was a card from a kit, and I embellished it with additional lettering, which not only makes it more personal, but I think it balances the design better. I'm all for blank space in designs, but there can be too much of a good thing! The needleroll was an earlier finish which I also gave to my mum. It's all her fault I stitch anyhow LOL

This is another card from a kit - I bought the kit locally on sale, but I think the designer/maker is a Dutch company. It wasn't the best stitching experience ever. First of all, I had to prick every single hole - they weren't pre-punched, unlike the ribbon embroidery card. And then, to get the effect pictured (and which had been on the picture on the packet) I had to fudge how I folded the whole thing and incorporated the liner. I wonder if everyone else had to do that, and thta's why they were so cheap? :o) I'm pleased with the effect though, and it was nice to make something for The Hermit in his favourite colours, as I rarely stitch anything blue - it really is a colour I dislike!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Needleroll - Cathy Bussi

Design: Needleroll (from an old edition of Needlecraft magazine, sometime in 2000)
Designer: Cathy Bussi
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, bone

I stitched this piece for the recent needleroll exchange over on Hooked on Exchanges. I'm not normally a big stitcher of delicate pieces in pastels, but I really enjoyed making this for Amy, and I'm so glad she liked it! I added beads and an irridescent heart from my stash, and my LNS sells irridescent ribbon which matched perfectly :o) I do like making needlerolls, even the hemstitching is fun (now!)

Below you can see the complete exchange I sent, which included one of my floss tags:

Ontario Heart - Victoria Sampler

Design: Hearts of Canada: Ontario Heart
Designer: The Victoria Sampler (Thea Dueck)
Threads: DMC as charted, Kreinik braid
Fabric: 25 count evenweave, white

I made this design into a pinkeep for The Hermit's birthday as he was born and brought up in Ontario. I'm not completely happy with it, as I think it is a little large and not taut enough, but I've used glue and I don't know whether it will come apart without ruining the stitching. If I do dismantle it, I was thinking of remaking it in a heart shape - would that work, do you think?

The Bees - Eventide Designs

Design: The Bees
Designer: Eventide Designs
Threads: DMC and GAST Clover
Fabric: 28 count linen from Silkweaver

This piece was originally framed, but it dropped off the wall and the frame broke! Rather than re-frame it, as nice small square frames are hard to find, I made it into another pinkeep :o)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fit Words - The Sewing Circle

Design: Fit Words
Designer: The Sewing Circle
Threads: Gentle Arts Sampler Threads
Fabric: 28 count linen, random hand dyed piece

This is a companion piece to the Alphabet Sampler and was a lovely quick stitch. It will probably get finished as a pinkeep as there isn't a bit border of fabric available for anything else.

Bee Hive - Elizabeth's Designs

Design: Bee Hive
Designer: Elizabeth's Designs
Threads: Gentle Arts Sampler Threads
Fabric: 28(ish) count linen, antique white - but not even!

I hope that you're not fed up of the pin keep finishes yet, as I'm not - it's a great way of finishing small pieces, and they don't then take up my limited wall space - I can pop them on a shelf, in a basket, almost anywhere!

Abigail Adams Sampler - Chartmakers

Design: Abigail Adams
Designer: Chartmakers
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count linen, antique white

This lovely piece has been sat in my 'framing' pile for probably four years (or more) - I know I finished it fairly early in my days in the flat, as I thought it quite fitting for a gravestone angel to go on our walls, as our main window in the flat overlooks an undertakers... yes, I have a black sense of humour at times!

However, not being of standard dimensions (like 4" x 6") I couldn't find a ready made frame cheaply, so it languished undisplayed - until I discovered the wonder of pinkeeps :o)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Crewel Vase - DMC

Design: Crewel Vase
Designer: DMC
Threads: DMC Crewel Yarn
Fabric: Pre-printed linen

This was a kit I acquired off eBay, and I quite liked it when I started it. Then I went off it, and finished it through gritted teeth and now that I've made it into a mini pillow, I quite like it again - I think!

I used slightly different stitches and fewer strands than the design called for and overall I think it's okay. My trouble with freestyle embroidery with wool is that it can look scruffy (that might just be me) and I like the regularly of cross stitch and counted thread work. When I'm normally not the world's tidiest person, it soothes me that my stitching can be very neat :o)

December Sampler Accent - Periwinkle Promises

Design: December Sampler Accent
Designer: Periwinkle Promises
Threads: Silks as per kit
Fabric: 28 count raw linen

This will be added to my basket of smalls come December, despite The Hermit's dislike of all things Christmas :o) I have most of the monthly sampler accents, and I'm finishing them all as mini pillows, without tassels. The fabric you can see in the second picture is the fabric I chose for the backing.

Hardanger Motifs

Design: Hardanger Motifs
Threads: DMC Perle Cotton, Six Strand Sweets Perle Cotton
Fabric: 25 count linen

And here are some more floss tags, made up from some experimental hardanger stuff I did, playing with colour. These have been backed with some print fabric, and I did use interfacing this time! I played around with shapes too, but I think that would have been more successful with a back stitch outline and linen reverse.

Sampler Bird - Brenda Keyes

Design: Sampler Bird
Designer: Brenda Keyes
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count evenweave

This was my second attempt at a floss tag, and showed my first was beginner's luck - I didn't use interfacing to stiffen it, and my sewing was a little skew-wiff. However, I like the motif, so I will use it :o)

Update - Mostly Knitting...

Work has been busy - fun, but busy. There are a few issues which need sorting, but what workplace doesn't have those? I solved one of my issues with dealing with the volunteers - I sent them all out yesterday :o) - I got so much more work done... LOL

Today is one of my days off, but I have some stuff to organise, not least a knitting and stitching retreat for the stitch n bitch group I'm in. We had a meeting last night at a member's house, and in my efforts not to make a noise and wake her baby up, wasn't concentrating on my feet and fell down the stairs pretty much from the top - I'm covered in bruises this morning, but I didn't wake up Freddie! :O) I think I lost my concentration because I was tired - and when I lose that, because of the MS I'm more likely to trip or fall but - touch wood - I generally bounce :o)

I'm going to catch up on posting my finishes here too, as I'm so behind. The new computer is making it a lot simpler and quicker as we can use the up to date versions of the software :o)

I haven't been doing a lot of stitching though, my current addiction is knitting! I was taught to knit as a pre-schooler (*cough* 35 years ago *cough*) but never mastered knitting in the round on double pointed needles. After an interview last week for a company based close to a wool shop in the city, I picked up some sock yarn, needles, and a pattern and set myself to the task. It was awkward at first (very!) but I stuck to it for longer than my previous attempts, and here is the progress on my first sock, turned heel and all:

I've been working on the simple bits on my commute to my new job (much longer than the old one, it's one of the few downsides) but I worked the heel at home in peace and quiet ...

I'm also participating in the Innocent Smoothies Big Knit.

Basically, each winter, bottles of Innocent Smoothies are sold in a major supermarket wearing little wooly hats, to raise money for Age Concern and to raise awareness that each year in the UK, 25 000 older people die from cold related illnesses. Isn't that shocking? And of course with the huge rises in fuel bills this year, I'm sure many more old people will die as they simply won't be able to afford to heat their homes. My paternal grandparents had free coal as grandad was an ex-miner, and my maternal grandmother might have been frugal in other areas, but she always made sure she was warm, and I'm so thankful that they never had to feel the cold unnecessarily. Each bottle sold with a wooly hat will mean Innocent gives 50p to Age Concern. I've already knitted quite a few (28), and I have nearly a month to make more.

Sweepstakes: Make a comment guessing how many hats I will have knitted by 14 October (when I will mail the package to Innocent) and the person who guesses closest to the total will win an item knitted by me!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Summer Quaker Exchange Pictures

I've just realised I never posted pictures of the lovely Summer Quaker exchange I received from Becky K ages ago. She stitched me my very first floss tag - and over one too! Isn't it delicate? What you can't see is that on the back, Becky added our initials, HoE and the date. The other goodies were great too - thank you again, Becky!

Needleroll Exchange Pictures

Last week, the postman delivered most wonderful parcel that had come from Joan! In it was a fabulous needleroll (from a design by Lavender Wings) - complete with some needles! And no longer do I have to look with envy at others who have been given one of her lovely project bags and cute chickens - because I have my very own! And the goodies didn't finish there, either! Joan hit my wishlist in a big way, and included a Shepherds Bush needleroll kit (Forget-me-not), a whole raft of SB freebie charts and a heap of Prairie Schooler freebie charts too, as well as two skeins of DMC color variations in my favourite shades!

I was well and truly spoilt and 'thank you' hardly seemed to cover it - wasn't I the lucky girl?

Ginger Cat - CSC

Design: Ginger Cat
Designer: from Cross Stitch Collection magazine
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count linen

This was my first attempt at a thread fob, following encouragement from other bloggers - notably Karen, who now has this little fob as part of a private thread fob exchange we did. I need to post a picture of the other fob I made, but I'm working through the backlog so if you want to have a sneaky peek (and to see what she stitched for me) pop on over to her blog - it's worth it for her other stitching stuff too :o)

The design had hung around in my finishing pile for ages - although it's done over one, it was too big for to fit into a pre-made key fob, too small (not enough spare fabric) for a scissor fob - but just right for a thread fob! It felt a little odd at first using a hammer as a needle work tool (to get the eyelet closed) but I'm hooked now...

Tall Trees - Brightneedle

Design: Tall Trees
Designer: Brightneedle
Threads: DMC and Olde Willow
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, cream

This is the co-ordinating pinkeep to Bunny Hop. I decided to make a neat bow to finish the top - not my usual style, but sometimes it's nice to try something a little different :o)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Alphabet Sampler - The Sewing Circle

Design: Alphabet Sampler
Designer: The Sewing Circle
Threads: Gentle Arts Sampler Threads
Fabric: 32 linen, hand dyed

This is a little sweet sampler that had been hanging around my UFO pile for too long! I think it was because I wasn't happy with one of the charted colours, but I hadn't had the 'round tuits' needed to make a decision about swapping it out - and frogging!

This time, when I pulled it out, I quickly made some colour choices which is why my fruit and initials are Cherry Wine rather than Old Brick - I think they lift the design and cheer it up. Grey isn't really my thing - I wonder if that's because of my school uniform being predominantly that colour? :o)

Honeycomb Sampler - Meinick Designs

Design: Honeycomb Sampler
Designer: Meinick Designs
Threads: DMC 310 and 113
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, cream

This project that I've finally finished was originally a round robin which came back to me incomplete. It's been mouldering in my UFO pile for about three years...

Originally designed for metallic gold highlights in amongst the blackwork, I changed the colour to a varigated gold stranded cotton as I wanted a more subtle effect - and also I'm not keen on working with metallic threads and didn't want to inflict that on other people too!

I changed the lettering on the verse (although not the verse) because to be honest, the initial lettering look rather amateurish and blocky - and I felt it really spoiled the quality of the whole design. I've noticed that on a number of charts - there's great care taken over the design, and no thought seems to be given to the lettering, especially back stitch lettering. The one I chose was the general one Victoria Sampler uses - it was the right size and the style seemed to fit. (Picture is a bit yellow, it was taken under artificial light)

This will - eventually - get framed and the decision to whether to hang it on my 'wall of bees' or 'wall of blackwork' will have to be taken :o)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wooly Zipper - Bent Creek

Design: Wooly Zipper
Designer: Bent Creek
Threads: DMC and Six Strand Sweets Perle 5
Fabric: mystery Tula-type fabric

Years ago, I traded for this chart and now finally, it's been stitched! The picture was taken under artificial light so it's a little 'yellow'. I used threads I already had in my stash as I'm really trying not to buy new stuff so my sheep and flowers look rather different to the designers:

But isn't that the fun of needlework, making your own personal work of art?

Quaker ABC - Gencat

Design: Quaker ABC freebie
Designer: Gencat
Threads: House of Embroidery - Grapes
Fabric: 28 count evenweave

I stitched this as the same time as I stitched my piece for the Summer Quaker Exchange but this piece was stitched over one. Following the success of my octagonal finish for the pinkeep, I repeated the winning formula :O) but added ribbon and a tassel (made from threads pulled from the fabric) to turn this into a fob or knob hanger.

The Littles: Bunny - Bent Creek

Design: The Littles: Bunny
Designer: Bent Creek
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 14 count damask aida, cream

This is another of my spring finishes that I'd forgotten to post about. I feel rather sorry for this little bunny, he looks a little forlorn. Do you think he will cheer up if I make him into a scissor fob?

Answers to Questions

Elisabeth (who does some fabulous embroidery - go check it out!) - I'm based in Sheffield, so I don't think I'm all that far from you :o) For less local readers of my blog, Sheffield is the famous 'steel city' and England's fourth largest city. It is very hilly, very green and overall, not a bad place to live and work, especially now it is beginning to recover from the collapse of manufacturing and mining.

Sheffield is full of culture - with two world class theatres, two world class universities, countless cinema screens, an annual literature festival, three art galleries, a museum, two football clubs - there's always something to find to do!

And culturally speaking - one mustn't forget The Full Monty - filmed on location in Sheffield, in some of the areas hardest hit my the end of the steel trade. I used to work next to the Jobcentre where the guys 'danced' in the queue in sign on - and I've had to visit there myself when I've been unemployed. No - they don't play music anymore!

Tammie asked who The Hermit is. It's my nickname for my partner, as I attempt some degree of anonymity for him. But here he is with Colin, one of our guinea pigs, having a snooze :o)

Thanks for your comments and questions, I'll always try and answer them, so do ask away!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Follow Your Heart - Lizzie*Kate

Design: Follow Your Heart
Designer: Lizzie*Kate
Threads: GAST
Fabric: 14 count aida, tea dyed by me

Another use for my tea dyed aida, this was a very quick stitch and will be a present for The Hermit, given that his heart led him over the Atlantic Ocean :o) I will finish this as a wall hanging, I have some fabric which co-ordinates nicely.

I changed the main colour from the charted blue to purple as I'm really not a 'blue' person at all! This disappoints The Hermit as it's his favourite colour, but it just doesn't appeal to me!

Happy Bunny Bunny Day - The Trilogy

Design: Happy Bunny Bunny Day
Designer: The Trilogy
Threads: GAST and DMC (own choices)
Fabric: 14 count aida, tea dyed by me

Ooops, I've just noticed I've still not stitched on the pink buttons for 'flowers' ...

This happy little bunny had some modifications made in terms of colours, and I picked out my initials in pink to personalise it - I was pleased with how that looked and I'll probably do something similar with Trilogy/Heart in Hand/Bent Creek charts with alphabets in future :o) The fabric is a 'one off' too - some boring cream aida in my stash got the tea treatment. Unlike others, I don't bake mine in the oven, but I 'set' the colour with a hot iron, and hope that the piece doesn't need washing!

I still haven't decided how to finish this (which is probably part of why the buttons haven't been added!) but I'm leaning towards a pillow, it's a little large for a pin keep :o)


Our new computer is here, and it's working great - set up was so easy, we were offline for oooh, minutes!

Hopefully, over the next few days I'll be able to catch up with posting pictures of my recent projects, but I might have to wrestle The Hermit away from the PC... :o)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I've not really been stitching since I finished Random Thoughts, but I have been knitting up a storm. Amber of the Stitch n Bitch group I go to pointed me in the direction of a monthly dishcloth KAL group, and I've been using the designs to make squares for a couple of blankets - with the cost of fuel rising so much, I can see a need for such things! With the dull, grey days and poor light we have, I'm finding knitting easier on my ageing eyes too! LOL

There will be pictures eventually, but I'm trying not to load anything to our computer at the moment, as we will be getting a new PC tower - hopefully this week, it is being built as I type :o) I don't want to upload stuff and then forget to copy it across - and anyway, the USB port I use for the camera cable is currently in use for the flash drive we're using to back up our hard disk. It's amazing - this computer is only (!) about nine years old, and it was upgraded about five years ago and we thought 8 Gb of memory wasn't bad - now 8Gb comes in a pen drive for about 20 quid, and the new PC will have 160Gb of space! It will also have Windows XP, so we can upgrade to Firefox 3.0 and I can back up my mobile phone and stuff - Win98 has served us well, but it's being left behind :o(

The new computer is primarily because The Hermit starts a degree course this month, in e-Communications and we needed a better system. A faster system will help with my studies too of course, but I can write essays on more or less anything as long as it lets me add footnotes :o) Heck, I can even use pencil and paper if I have too ... but having a new PC is exciting! It will be the first 'new to us' system we've ever had, but we're sticking with our second hand peripherals for now - no point in getting rid of things that are still working well :o) I do have 50% canny Scots blood after all ... LOL

I am back in the world of work from Thursday which is good news - the place I volunteered at last year have asked me to come in and do some paid work for them running a community based training project. Again, it's part time hours so I will still have some crafting time :o) Initially, it would only be for two months, but this could be extended, but it's dependent on funding and I know to my cost that that cannot be relied upon ... However, I also have an interview tomorrow for another part time position, this one is much more senior (and much better paid), is permanent and would be a good career move for me, although it would take me away from the arts field ... I'm lucky to be finding interesting positions to go for given the recession we're heading towards, but I always seem to land on my feet employment wise and I'm very grateful for that!

I've also been blessed with the most wonderful exchange from Joan but that deserves a post of its own, and I need to do a picture too ...

Monday, September 08, 2008

My Favorite Things - The Drawn Thread

Design: My Favorite Things
Designer: The Drawn Thread (Cynthia Zittel)
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 28 count raw Cashel linen

Sorry about the fuzzy picture! Because it's quite long, it's hard to get a good picture of the whole thing, especially as I'm not a good photographer! This is the first 'full size' DT that I've stitched, and it's what got me hooked. I love the design, although that didn't stop me making a few alterations of my own...

A few Queen Stitches got the chop - I subbed in Smyrna crosses and eyelets instead, and after the alphabet, you can see that a bee appeared - also from a DT chart, to keep the style consistent, although I had to stitch it over one to fit the space. If a design is going to be called 'My Favorite Things' how can it not have a bee in it?

I like bunnies (which were on the original design) but I like sheep better! These were from DT's 'Generosity' design, and fitted in very well, although they are closer together than I would have really liked - but that's just me being very very picky! The vertical band on the left had its Queen Stitches subbed too. They are definitely not one of my favourite things! The initials belong to my partner and to my dearest friend.

The completed piece has been made into a bell pull and it is hanging in my hallway - which is too dark and small for me to get a decent picture. Just take my word for it, it looks really nice :o)