Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April Goals Review and May Goals

I think I did pretty well with my goals this month :o)

Crazy Exchange piece - DONE - and mailed - just waiting to hear it's been received by the recipient, so I can post photos!

Land That I Love (Canadian Version) - Lizzie*Kate - DONE - you've seen the photos :o)

Neat Country Stuff - Homespun Elegance - this is still a WIP, but it's over half way finished. I will put this aside whilst I do my gift stitching for May, but I'm looking forward to picking it back up again.

One Finish to Frame - DONE - I framed a small geometric piece, but haven't yet taken a photo - must remember to do so!

One Finish to Make Up Into Something - FOUR DONE - two needlerolls for the Monthly Finishing blog, one piece for the Crazy Exchange, and one small wallhanging (photo of that needed too!)

One UFO - DONE - this was a piece I used for the Crazy Exchange - get two birds with one stone! :O)

May is quite a busy month, as it's my niece's birthday on the 10th, and my dad's on the 24th!

So, here is the list... the finishing challenge can be dropped if need be, and I'm not intending making anything elaborate for M, as she's only 2 :o)

10 May - Birthday card for M
10 May - Birthday gift for M
21 May - Softie exchange piece
22 May - Celtic B - Mike Vickery (UFO)
24 May - Birthday card for Dad
24 May - Make Celtic B up as a cushion for dad
30 May - Biscornu for Finishing Challenge
31 May - Freebie exchange piece

So, let's get busy with the needles :o)

Monday, April 28, 2008

SAL and an update

Yesterday was my usual Sunday SAL with Sally. I got quite a lot done as –despite the numerous colour changes – it’s a pretty easy stitch, not too much fiddly detail. I have one small row to do – another darning pattern “path” and then I will be at the half way point – not bad for three sessions work! If I keep this rate up, I should be finished at the end of May, but I have a lot of gift stitching to do next month, so it probably won’t work out like that.

This is the project I’ve been calling the “Sludge Monster” – it’s actually not a very fair name for it, because although the colours are muted, and mainly browns, it’s quite warm in tone. I had hoped to have this finished for the end of the month, but that won’t happen now due to my evening commitments over the next couple of days, and I will be laying this aside whilst I work on my gift stitching.

This is the first block in my rather ambitious quilting project – a sampler quilt! I’ve not stitched this in the usual American pieced way, rather the old fashioned English way, using papers, as I’m stitching it all by hand (and without a rotary cutter and stuff). This block is called Rail Fence, apparently.

And this is a work in progress – the second block, called Maple Leaf. Given the fact that my partner is Canadian, I had to work this one in! Again, it’s pieced using papers. The green cotton I’ve used to tack (baste) the papers in with was some from my late gran’s stash, which I inherited. Actually, I’m using a lot of thread from her workbasket – it’s nice to have that connection to her.

As you can see, the colours are quite warm and bright - I will be introducing a moss green at some point, too, and another accent colour. I've chosen fabrics with abstract patterns or mottles rather than (say) flowers or leaves - I want the fabric shapes to be the pattern, not the print on the fabric.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Saturday is Stash Day ...

Well, perhaps this should read "Saturday after pay day is stash day..."

I went to the Patchwork Garden, intending only to buy some fabric to make a gift for M, my niece, but somehow I came out with half a dozen fat quarters to start a sampler quilt, using the book by Lynne Edwards, which I have on my shelf ...

It's going to be a long job, as I will be entirely hand piecing it (sewing machines make me stressed) but I did finish a simple block yesterday, only another 24 to go :o) Or possibly 19, it depends on how big I'm going to do it ... The colours are my favourite jewels and autumn tones, so it will be ... bright, I think is the word for it. There was a class at the store about to start, and the ladies were all very interested in what I was planning, and I got lots of compliments about my colour choices and "eye", which was nice ...

I'd love to do another block today, but I'm stitching on Morning Song with Sally as it's SAL Sunday, so it might have to wait. I want to stitch at least two bands...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sow Kind Seeds - Bent Creek and an update.

Design: Sow Kind Seeds
Designer: Bent Creek
Threads: DMC Perle Cotton 5
Fabric: 10 count Tula

This project came together from a random assortment of bits, really!

The chart was a trade, and originally belonged to a kit. My swapper enclosed the left over threads, which weren't enough to stitch the whole piece again - I used what I could, subbed what I could from my stash, and only ordered one skein - to complete the border. So some of the colours are what the designer wanted - and some aren't :o)

The fabric was an unknown fabric I bought ages ago from a shop in London which is no longer there - a real shame, as it had been on the site for donkey's years, but I guess rents near Oxford Street are too high to support such a specialist retailer. Given the fact that I left living within shopping distance of London nearly ten years ago tells you how long this fabby has been waiting for it's chance to shine - and there was nearly a yard of it! I can't tell you how often I was tempted to eBay it ... but I didn't really know what it was. I've since worked out that if it isn't Tula, it's as near as jazz, and I've kitted several projects with it.

This was a nice quick stitch. All I need to do now is press it and attach a heart shape button to the hand. I'll either frame it or make it into a pillow.

Currently, I'm catching up with Neat Country Stuff. It's the last goal on my list for April, and it would be wonderful to get everything finished, for once :o) I've done nearly six squares out of the nine, so even if I don't finish it, it will be a very close run thing. I'm making life harder for myself by changing one of the squares - the sheep in the bottom right square looks nothing like a sheep to me (or to The Hermit) so I will be charting my own - I'm going to use the sheep from the same designer's Sheep Button Sampler as a starting point, but it needs completely re-sizing, and re-colouring, plus I want to keep the bird from the original chart - so it's get the graph paper out time. I'm a lot more confident that I used to be in changing motifs. I never had trouble changing colours, but I was always scared I'd wreck the balance of a design if I did things to it - now I no longer worry. Partly because I have a reasonable grasp of design concepts so I know I won't make a total hash of it, but partly because I know that as long as I'm happy, it doesn't really matter...

I've already decided on May's goals - I think the subtitle for the month should be "Selfless Stitching" - with the birthdays of two people very dear to me, plus two exchanges, I'm not going to have a lot of time for other things! My sister has said not to put pressure on myself making things for M (The Tot) but I want to - she really loves getting gifties, and I think when she's older, because she's been born into a crafty family, she will really appreciate getting something handmade and personal. And of course, I want to make things for my Dad, too - it's so hard buying gifts for a man, anyway, and my dad especially - if I don't make the effort, he gets the same old thing birthday after birthday. Not that he minds - he's a creature of habit, and receiving a nice bottle of Single Malt Scotch and some nice smellies is fine by him, but it doesn't seem enough for someone so special.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

June - Shepherd's Bush

Design: June
Designer: Shepherd's Bush
Threads: DMC, Gentle Arts Sampler Threads, Dinky Dyes
Fabric: 28 count linen, antique white
I think this was another chart from my friend - and arch-enabler - Marci - which I have finally stitched. See, it may take a while, but I get there in the end :o) Marci used to be a demon stitcher, but over the last few years has been bitten by the bead bug - she has some nice earrings in her etsy shop, but that's only the tip of the iceberg as to her lovely creations! Marci, not only did I find the bead shop in Nottingham, I've found one that I didn't know existed in Chesterfield ... it's a conspiracy I tell ya!
It was a pretty quick stitch, and relatively trouble free. Because I didn't have the overdyes called for in the pattern, I substituted ones I had to hand, and the purples are slightly darker, but I like the effect.
I don't know whether to frame this to go on the "wall of bees" (which I really should photograph) or to make it into - yes, you guessed - a pinkeep!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pinkeep Exchange

I've finally got some pictures to show! I hope you think it was worth the wait :o)

This is the lovely pinkeep which came all the way from Brazil - thanks Janaina! It's a Little House Needleworks design, and Janaina has personalised it with our initials and the date. It's beautifully stitched, and very neatly finished.

Here you can see everything else which came - the threads, the tea, the linen, the backing fabric, the shower gel, the sequins, the postcard - and the outer packaging too, so covered in stamps it looked very festive!

Thanks again Janaina, for such a wonderful gift!

SAL Sunday

This is progress after week 2. It seemed to want to "grow" really quickly yesterday. The Cashel linen that I'm using is a joy to stitch on, the needle goes through so smoothly, and I love the texture.
I'm mostly stitching this as charted, although I have amended the over-one areas. Instead of cross stitch in one strand of floss, I'm doing tent stitch in two - which is probably why I had time to work on the next couple of bands, although I don't think I'm way ahead of Sally, my partner in this.
Ma and Dad came over yesterday morning, and Ma really likes this chart - she's an accomplished stitcher herself, but we have quite different tastes, she's much more traditional than I am, and I think she's a bit bemused at my bees and sheep obsessions - she's more of a floral type, which is so not me... I think she thought I was stitching this for my niece, because of the farm animals on it, but it's mine, all mine!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday Update

I didn't stitch at all yesterday - although I intended to!

I was going to Nottingham for a Bookcrossing meet, and as usual, dithered on the computer a bit too long. As I had a train to catch, I grabbed my scissors, a small hoop and a Periwinkle Promises kit to wile away the train journey (it's about 50 minutes). Got to the station, just in time to get the train, settled in my seat, opened the kit ... oops! Periwinkle Promises kits don't include a needle, and my needle box was in my other handbag... Fortunately, I had a book on me :o)

There doesn't seem to be a general craft shop in the middle of Nottingham, but I did find The Bead Shop, where I got a few charms, some seed beads, and a wire knitting kit to make myself a bracelet. It sounds fun - and easy :o)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Land That I Love - Lizzie*Kate

Design: Land That I Love
Designer: Lizzie*Kate
Threads: Gentle Arts Sampler Threads, DMC, DMC Color Variations, Wisper
Fabric: 14 count rustico aida

Ooops, it was only when editing the pic I noticed the stray thread ... but that's usual for surfaces in this place :o)

This is the Canadian version of the chart - Lizzie*Kate provides the alternative on her website. I stitched this is a real mixture of fibres - there's GAST for the house, DMC Color Variations for the grass, lettering and blue border, plain DMC for other bits, and of course Wisper for the fluffy sheepies!

The Hermit is Canadian by birth, British by descent, and he's very happy to be here, but I thought I'd stitch a nod to his home land. It's a beautiful country, but for all sorts of reasons when we got together (after "meeting" online) we decided to base ourselves in the UK.

I want to make a further amended version of this, for Scotland, but it would involve some colour changes too - I can see it in my head, with a thistle border, and a white house - better get the graph paper out, I suppose!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring Needleroll - Heart In Hand

Design: Spring Needleroll (from the Spring Fobs leaflet)
Designer: Heart in Hand
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 32 count linen, cream

Another finish for the Monthly Finishing Challenge! I'm so competitive, one needleroll just won't do, I have to make up two! :o)

Again, this was hand sewn, with a hemstitch end, ribbon carriers and French seamed. This is not how the designer directed - apparently, you are just seam the roll, thread the ribbon and there you go - despite the cover model obviously being hemmed in some manner to get rid of excess fabric. Pretty poor instructions, if you ask me...

July Needleroll - The Victoria Sampler

Design: July Needleroll
Designer: The Victoria Sampler
Threads: DMC and Kreinik
Fabric: 28 count quaker evenweave

This has been languishing in my finishing pile for longer than I care to remember (possibly four years...) and thanks to Becky's Monthly Finishing Challenge blog, it's now made up!

The ends are hemstitched, as are the ribbon carriers, and the seam is French seamed, to hide the raw edges. I sew all the seams by hand too, it's easier than setting up my machine, and it's nice and relaxing, too.


Taken from quiltorstitch, although I have seen it in other places too.

1. How do you hold your fabric? In a circular hoop, usually no bigger than 8 inches - excess fabric gets rolled and pinned out of the way.

2. Floss licker? Only if flattening it with my thumb nail hasn't worked.

3. How do you thread your needle? Trim the end, flatten with thumb nail, and hope :o) Actually, with DMC, I use a loop start if stitching with two strands, so quite often I thread the loop through, it's easier.

4. What needle do you like best? John James Petites, size 26. I didn't used to worry what sort of needle I used, and then, because so many people recommended these, I bought a packet. It was a revelation! Finer needles are so much smoother in use, and with the smaller length, it's easier to finish ends.

5. Are you a needle loser? Not too bad, my main problem is breaking the eyes on them, as I use 26s or 28s a lot.

6. What fabric do you prefer to stitch on? 28 or 32 Count Linen or Evenweave.

7. Bobbins or floss bags? Bobbins

8. Are you a scissors collector? Not really, but I have a lot of pairs, as I tend to leave them lying around, I like a pair for each project - and it also shows off my fob collection! I'm lusting for Ginghers, but can't really justify buying a pair...

9. Do you do your own framing, and if so, do you lace or pin? Yes, I do. I will lace if I have to, but here's the confession - double sided tape tends to get used. Only on the small pieces, which I don't really regard as heirlooms...

10. Are you a floss floozy? I think so - I have full sets of DMC, Six Strand Sweets, a part set of Anchor, GAST, and others...

11. Silk? It's good, but not something I would use every day, I don't think it's worth the extra cost.

12. Railroader? I do try to keep the strands separate with the needle, but only generally on the top leg.

13. Are you a pattern or designer snob? Probably. Or if not exactly a snob, I can be very opinionated. There are certain designers I loathe, and it's always a bit tough making comments on happy dances if people have completed certain things - I do choose the blogs I read on the basis of the stuff people stitch, I'm afraid!

14. Do you get antsy when you give someone a stitched gift? No, because ony people I know who will appreciate something handmade get stitched gifts from me.

15. Have you reached S.A.B.L.E.? Probably not, actually. Possibly enough for ten to fifteen years, though - but I'm a fast stitcher. The good news is that I come from long lived forebears, who kept their eyesight ...

16. Do you wash your projects? It has been known, although I'm always cautious with overdyed flosses.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tall Trees - Brightneedle

Design: Tall Trees
Designer: Brightneedle

Threads: DMC and Olde Willow Stitchery

Fabric: 28 count evenweave, cream

This design was so soothing to stitch - the colours blend together so well, and are such a nice palette, it was a real joy to keep watching it grow!

Bunny Hop is a companion piece to this chart, and I will display them both together. Tall Trees seems to be a perfect design for a pinkeep, and I already have the backing fabric in mind!

If you would like to enter the draw for this chart please comment below!

Bunny Hop Scissor Fob Freebie - Brightneedle

Design: Bunny Hop Scissor Fob freebie
Designer: Brightneedle
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, cream

I've stitched this before, for a gift, but this time, it's mine, all mine! :o) For something so small, the frog spent quite a lot of time visiting on the border, but some of that is my fault, for trying to stitch it without the chart on a moving bus ...

It's very sweet, and I will finish it as a scissor fob, although I'm wondering if I could make it into a teeny tiny pinkeep style fob ...

Swirly Sampler Freebie - version 2 - Bent Creek

Design: Swirly Sampler Freebie
Designer: Bent Creek
Fabric: 32 count linen, antique white
Threads: Gentle Arts Sampler Threads

This is the second version of the sampler - I used a finer fabric, but the difference in size wasn't as big as I'd hoped. This time, I used GAST to make it a little more subtle. This is my preferred version, so I'll keep this for myself! I may indeed make it into a pinkeep after all - I have some great fabric that will co-ordinate really well with it, plus a mountain of mount board to use up :o)

Swirly Sampler Freebie - version 1 - Bent Creek

Design: Swirly Sampler Freebie
Designer: Bent Creek
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count jobelan, apricot

This was my first attempt at my pinkeep exchange for Hooked on Exchanges - I thought it came out a bit big for a pinkeep, but it's a really nice design! The Hermit likes it a lot, so I will probably frame it for him.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bee My Honey Bee - 4 My Boys

Design: Bee My Honey Bee
Designer: 4 My Boys
Fabric: 28 count linen
Threads: GAST and DMC

Not the best photo - but there will be another when it's "finished" finished! I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet though - because of the blue fabric, it doesn't really go with the rest of my bees and beehive projects on the "wall of bees" ...

This was a lovely quick stitch, worked in a combination of Gentle Arts Sampler Threads and DMC, on a hand dyed linen oddment - I think it's a Silkweaver one.

I think the designer has now retired, which is a shame. The cross stitch world seems to be shrinking all the time :o( Knitting and card making are the "big things" at the moment in the UK. I can (and do) knit, but cross stitch is my big love...

Edited to add: If anyone would like the chart, please say so in the comments!


This is how far I got, Sally, with Morning Song - it looks a little forlorn, doesn't it? :o) I've tacked the outline for the sampler, too - I forget how small Just Nan's can be, the chart always looks so big! I guess that's good though, as they are nice and clear.

This is one of my other WIPs at the moment - Sow Kind Seeds by Bent Creek. I traded for the chart years ago, and the sender included her left over perle cotton, which I've used, as well as some from my stash. At that point, I was waiting on my order for more of the border colour - ordered it Sunday afternoon, it arrived yesterday lunchtime, you can't fault Sew and So's service! I stocked up on some other DMC that I was running low on, and also the ones that I lost on the bus, so I'm ready for anything now - I think! I'm going to stitch the missing motif (a hand, as in heart in hand) in mauve, or gold as I don't have enough of the charted blue - blue isn't a colour I'm fond of anyway. I'm not sure now, looking at the picture, that the mauve I have will be dark enough to balance the composition ... hmmm, it might be a case of trial and error!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


My camera batteries are flat - again - so I can't show any pictures at the moment. Not that I could for one project anyway, as it's a return exchange from my last days as a member of Crazy Exchange :o) I finished it as a pinkeep, and that's the only clue I'm giving ... so that was last night's creative endeavours.

Sunday, as promised, I started a SAL with Sally. We're stitching Morning Song by Just Nan. I've chosen to do mine on a plain linen - Flax 28 count Cashel. I managed to stitch most of the right hand barn, the picket fence and the tree trunks - seems straightforward so far, although I haven't attempted the over one parts yet!

My travel project is currently Rooster Strut by Meme's Quilts (who no longer appear to do cross stitch designs, only quilting and applique). I'm stitching it on Tula, which at 10 count is quite a change from my usual stuff! It was one of the first folk style charts I traded for on Chartswappers so it's been sitting in my stash for quite a while!

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!

This sweet little design stitched up really quickly, and I like it a lot. The only thing of note, really, is the linen I used to stitch it on. It was a scrap from my stash, of unknown origin. Although labelled as 30 count, it's actually a different count in each direction - not by much, but if you look very closely, you can see that the stitches are wider than they are tall! I think it's actually made the design look nicer - I like a nice, rounded bee hive :o) - but I'm glad I wasn't stitched a bigger project, it could have looked really strange!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

January Block Flip It - Lizzie*Kate

Design: January Block Flip It
Designer: Lizzie*Kate
Threads: DMC (conversion as per chart)
Fabric: 29 count evenweave, lambswool

I started this three years ago, on a flight from Birmingham to Frankfurt. My needle and Clover cutter got through airport security okay, but my hair accessory didn't ... it was a large clip, and the powers-that-decide-these-things thought it too long and pointy. So, I'd to spend the flight with my damp hair down and getting chilly - it was a 6.40 am flight and I'd to be awake at 4.00 am! I was embarassed as I was with my then boss, who'd had to wait as my hand luggage was minutely examined ... and of course there were supplies for my period in there too LOL

Anyway, due to the early hour and the hassle, I made a counting mistake on the snow scene, and this piece was laid aside until earlier this year, when I finally worked out the mistake and did some serious frogging.

I'm beginning to feel that this series is jinxed though - I started doing the February piece on the bus, and lost my baggie with the floss in it ...

An Evening with Mallet and Ming

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the finished item - I gave it away before taking a picture, as the light here was so bad!

This is the "good luck" piece I made for the guys I work with. They were performing in the world premiere of a piece that one of them had written, called "An Evening with Mallet and Ming". The play was set backstage in a Victorian music hall - Ming was a "Chinese" conjuror and Mallet the creator of the act. Their glamorous assistant Wong Li (real name: Edna) has been found murdered, and M&M try to find out whodunnit...

Anyway, I only decided to do this on the Friday afternoon prior to the first performance on the Monday, so it was a bit of a rush ...

The Chinese ideogram is the character "fu" which means "good fortune". That was stitched in petit point on 22 count hardanger using coton a broder, an odd skein of which was in my stash. The gold border was done in Anchor Chainette - a very old thread which I'd found in an old workbox I'd acquired. The symbol was a freebie chart, but I worked out the octagonal border all by myself - quite a challenge for me, as I have problems with geometry!

The lettering came from a BHG book I have - I wanted something that looked like Victorian script.

The fabric was a great find at the patchwork shop. I used it to back both pieces. I then slipped card into both, and sewed them together like an advertsiing board, using a ribbon to limit how far they parted. I then hid the top seam with some braid. Oh, I wish I'd taken a photo... I was expecting the piece to end up back at the office but one of the guys has taken it home!

Blackbird Parade - Heart in Hand

Design: Blackbird Parade
Designer: Heart in Hand
Threads: Gentle Arts Sampler Threads
Fabric: 14 count aida

I seem to go in phases with themes - last year, I stitched quite a lot of strawberries. Currently, it seems to be bunnies. And earlier this year, I had a thing for a week or two about blackbirds!

This was a super quick stitch - I did most of it during one evening at a local stitch and bitch group. Most of the other girls knit, but I'm not a big knitter - it puts too much stress on my arms and shoulders and really increases the pins and needles feeling that is my permanent companion anyway.

I stitched this using Gentle Arts Sampler Threads and added beads for the corn the blackbirds are eating, rather than stitches.

I'm either going to frame this, or make it into a pinkeep, I think.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Scotland International Heart - The Victoria Sampler

Design: Scotland International Heart
Designer: The Victoria Sampler (Thea Dueck)
Fabric: 25 count evenweave, white
Threads: DMC and Kreinik #4 braid
I liked stitching this heart - for once, all the elements looked like they were supposed to, although I did fiddle a little with the piper's pipes :o)
These little kits are great for learning some new specialty stitches, as the instructions are so good.
The bird is a type of grouse called a Capercaillie - which coincidentally is the name of one of my favourite bands!. Their Myspace page can be found here.
I did think about making all of them up into a quilt, but know I've discovered pinkeeps, they may very well end up as a series of those!

St Patrick's Day Flip-It - Lizzie*Kate

Design: St Patrick's Day Flip It
Designer: Lizzie*Kate
Fabric: 14 count cream aida, tea dyed
Threads: DMC and Kate's Kloths
I took this piece to a Bookcrossing meet, and had a fascinated audience as I stitched and chatted - mainly children, but some adults!
The aida I dyed myself in some strong tea. I used DMC threads for the lettering, hat buckle and hat, and Kate's Kloths hand dyed threads for the shamrock, hat band, and border.
This piece will probably go in a small pine frame to match the monthly Flip Its I stitched several years ago.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

And more thanks...

Thanks everyone for commenting on my finishes - I really appreciate all the kind words!

Barbara - email me your address, and you can have the BOAF chart :o)

Kendra - thank you for being so understanding. I'm not sure I'd follow my method for doing a pinkeep, that was my first...

If anyone else has seen a project they like and would like the chart, speak up, don't be shy, and if I still have it, I'll pass it along ...

Great Stitchy Day Yesterday!

I was feeling a little blue when I got home from work yesterday - it had been a dull, slow day, the weather was awful, I was feeling achey ... and then The Hermit pointed out a package waiting for me. It was covered in stamps and looked really cheerful, but what was inside was even better! Janaina was my partner in the Hooked on Exchanges Pinkeep Exchange, and she sent me a lovely stitched piece - Love, by Little House Needleworks. She says she's a better stitcher than finisher, but she's a pretty good finisher! I was spoiled with the goodies: some fruit tea (I love fruit teas!), some shower gel (I love having a long shower!), some floss - I think a Brazilian brand, how exotic (and yes, I love the colours - all autumnal!), some stitching fabric (I love neutral coloured evenweaves), some finishing fabric (I love the funky spring colours and designs) and a postcard (I love postcards, I'm a member of Postcrossing.) Can you tell I'm a happy bunny? LOL

I've taken a photo, but I won't be able to upload it until tomorrow, because I've left the relevant USB cable at work...

Anyway, that cheered me up no end, as did The Hermit making dinner, so I then set to work on my own stitching - actually, finishing this time. I'm a new member of the Monthly Finishing Challenge Blog, and the challenge this month was for a needleroll. And I finally made up the July Needleroll by The Victoria Sampler! I did it listening to the football commentary on the radio (Liverpool V Arsenal) . It was very exciting, so I was a little hyper by full time - which coincided with the final stuffing - so I went on and did another one! This was the needleroll from Spring Fobs by Heart in Hand, and it's been finished for at least three years! Again, I'll post pics tomorrow :o)

So, I'm a bit tired this morning, but pretty perky, and over the blue mood! I've got a nice day to look forward to today - I'm meeting up with my parents, my sister and my niece this morning, then I have a lunch meeting to discuss a presentation I'm making at a Learner Celebration evening - and the place we're meeting does goodfood :o).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Funky Bunnies

The link for the pattern - came via a "heads up" from Emily at The Floss Box, and was a limited edition freebie. The good news is that the pattern is now on sale, over on Kristen Doran's blog. I had to figure things out without instructions, and I made a few alterations to the pattern, including giving them a felt "face". I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out.

The top two were the first I made, and I thought about giving them to The Tot (my niece) but I liked them too much to part with them - so I made her the gingham one below. I did have to steel myself to give it to her, but I guess I could always make another one ...

I thought one piece limbs with felt paws would be quicker and less fiddly, but there wasn't much in it...

The bunnies are entirely hand sewn, I don't use a sewing machine at all these days - the one I possess is an antique, and too heavy to manoeuvre and lift, and I don't have space to keep it set up permanently, so it's just in storage.

Pinkeep - Brenda Keyes

After dithering about whether my first choice for the pinkeep for the Hooked on Exchanges exchange was too big or not, I finally decided that it was. Running short of time, I looked again at my partner's details, and picked out that she liked alphabet samplers, and purple.

So, once again I turned to a favourite design of mine, from Brenda Keyes's excellent book The Sampler Motif Book. I chose to stitch the design on antique white evenweave, with a limited edition Gentle Arts Sampler Thread. I've stitched this particular design half a dozen times at least, always using one colour thread, sometimes an overdye, sometimes not, and on many different scales, from 18 count to 6, and it always looks great.

I made this up using the conventional method for a pinkeep, although I stitched the two pieces together, rather than relying on glue. The fabric I chose for the back - or rather, the one the quilt shop lady picked, which I endorsed - can be seen in the background. It's rather nice - you can't see from the picture, but the flowers are surrounded by the words "daisy, daisy give me your answer do..."

These were the goodies I included for Jayne (who has no blog) - some overdyed threads, and some beads - all in purple, of course!

Spring Basket - Lizzie*Kate

Design: Spring Basket Snippet

Designer: Lizzie*Kate

Fabric: 14 count aida, antique white

Threads: DMC

Finish: Pinkeep, trimmed with ricrac braid, backed with the fabric shown.

I stitched this for Kendra in the Stitching Bloggers Birthday Club. I made a huge boo-boo and got the date of her birthday wrong, but she has been very nice about it. The daft thing is that I had stitched the piece in plenty of time, and left it to one side to finish! Initially, I thought about just making a mini pillow, as I'm okay with those, but then I decided to be brave and make a pinkeep. The construction is slightly unconventional, but it looks okay. The backing fabric is the blue folksy style print you can see in the background of the pictures, and the trim is ricrac braid. The pins were some I received myself (from Sonda) - isn't it great to share with stitchers :o)

I stitched the piece with the DMC conversions given on the chart, and omitted the buttons - frankly, I forgot about adding any!

These are the goodies I added - I wanted to co-ordinate a bit, but also to take into account Kendra's likes and dislikes.

I hope she enjoys them - I enjoyed making it, and putting the package together, I just didn't feel too happy about getting the date wrong!

Mother's Day Card - DMC

Title: Honeysuckle Mother's Day Card
Designer: DMC (kit)
Fabric: 14 count aida, antique white
Threads: DMC

I don't often stitch from kits, but I saw this on one of my charity shop trawls and had to buy it. My parent's house had - until recently - the most amazing honeysuckle growing over one wall. Last year, it got pruned back rather drastically, as it was in danger of bringing down the guttering and phone line, and it's a shadow of it's former self. So this was a little reminder.

The card was part of the kit, as you can tell by the way that the motif echoes the stitching. My mum really liked it - UK Mother's Day is always before Easter, so she's had it already.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Love - Birds of a Feather

Design: Love
Designer: Birds of a Feather
Threads: Gentle Arts Sampler Threads
Fabric: 28 count linen, flax.

This was the sampler I stitched for The Hermit for Valentines. It should have been quick to stitch, but the frogs came to visit, and I had to unpick several motifs - especially annoying as on one of them I was only one thread out!
I altered the colours slightly from the original chart, but tried to keep within the same family that the designers used. The major alteration was changing the man to look more like my beloved - hence the beard!
The frame was a cheap ready made one from Wilkinsons - it isn't real wood, although you wouldn't guess from the photo - the wood effect is a photo on paper, which has then been glued to an MDF backing (by the manufacturer, not by me, I hasten to add. Glue and I don't really mix...)

Geo Scissor Fob - MonkeyWorks

This little fob is one of my favourite designs for fobs - it's quick to stitch, but always looks effective, and can easily be made in any colour scheme to suit the recipient. This was stitched in blues and greens, and given away as my exchange on the Hooked on Exchanges Scissor Fob exchange. It now has a new home on a different continent, with Irene in Canada.

Finishing Challenge

I've signed up to Becky's new blog - the Monthly Finishing Challenge so that will sort out my finishing goal for the month! This month's challenge is a needleroll, and I have at least two in my pile to be made up! I won't say how long one of them has been waiting to be assembled, but I think it has to be nearly four years...

Wedding Sampler - Angela Davison

Design: Wedding Sampler
Designer: Angela Davison - own colour scheme
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, antique white

My sister asked me to stitch a sampler for her sister-in-law's wedding, as Suzi really is "the woman who has everything". The colour scheme chosen for the wedding was pink and ivory, so that's what I chose to use in the sampler. Although I hadn't seen the bridemaid's dresses when I had to start this, I did a pretty good job at guessing the colours :o) The original colour scheme for the sampler was blue and lemon, and it took some adjustments as I stitched to make sure the colour balance was okay. At first, it looked horribly pink (and so the WIP got called The Pink Peril)but I think in the end the design looks fine. My sister was really pleased with it, and so was the recipient.

This sampler design is one I've stitched before - in fact, the first time I stitched it, I stitched it for my sister, and I chose lilacs and silver-blues. She eloped to get married, and I didn't see the dress until she emailed photos from Oz - and guess what, her dress was a silvery lavender colour ...

This design comes from a book by Angela Davison, published by Merehurst. The charting isn't great, and there are several errors in it. Fortunately, having stitched it once, I was on the look out for them, but I find it really irritating when patterns are obviously not thoroughly proofed.

My niece was a bridesmaid at the wedding, so I thought I'd post a picture of her, too :o) The lady carrying her is my sister.

And this is the cheeky side of M:

Sunday Stitching

Well, we had more bad weather, but fortunately, none of the snow settled. It's bizarre - we're officially in British SUMMER Time. Oh, and the cricket season starts today ... Mind you, I'm old enough to remember a match at Buxton having to be called off because of snow - in July! That year we had a drought later in the summer ... and that was before anyone knew about global warming!

Both The Hermit and I stayed in, nice and warm. I finished stitching Shepherd's Bush "June" - which made me feel a little more summery. I think mine is a little less pastel than the model, because of the overdyes I chose to use, but I like it. This will probably be framed.

After the finish, I did think about going back to The Sludge Monster, but by that time, the light was really dull, so I picked up another new start - bad girl! Anyway, this one is Tall Trees by Brightneedle. This is proving to be a quick stitch, despite the number of colours (fifteen! in a piece 61 stitches by 39). I also have the freebie chart for the matching scissor fob, so that will be my travel project this week. I think I will finish Tall Trees as a pinkeep, and I might try that type of finish for the fob.

And good news! I found Morning Song (it was filed with some of my stitching magazines) so I can start the SAL with Sally when she receives the chart. I think I'm going to stitch mine on Flax Cashel, I just need to do a "floss toss" to check that there's no clashes or invisibility.

I hope everyone has a good week, thanks for dropping by!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Saturday Stitching

Yesterday, the weather here was awful - we had rain, hail, snow, sunshine, so what's a girl to do? Curl up and stitch, that's what!

Actually, first of all I had a trip to the framers to make - the nice lady in the quilt shop had told me that this particular framers sells off-cuts of mount board cheaply, so I went to get some, for my own framing and also for making pinkeeps. She'd made a curious comment "make sure they are your last stop, and not the first" - and when I went, I saw why! I have a huge bag full of pieces, I could make dozens of pinkeeps and still have some left over - and it only cost me £5 ($10). You must think I'm a real cheapskate, but I do love a bargain! Anyway, I came back cold and wet from this trip, so The Hermit and I went out for brunch to get warm. We came back, I started some laundry, and then sat down to stitch :o)

I've finished another motif on Neat Country Stuff (aka The Sludge Monster) and finished Land That I Love. So, as a reward, I made a new start - June, by Shepherd's Bush. It seems ages since I stitched a golden beehive ...

I also sorted and tidied all my stash on the shelves, so it's looking a lot better. I still need to go through the freebies and charts taken from magazines again - with each pass, the pile gets smaller, so I'm making progress. I've got a lot of othe charts I don't think I'm going to stitch, either, so I need to get myself sorted and list them here. I wish there was a group like Chartswappers about - does anyone know a good place to trade charts? I don't really want to get back into selling on eBay, it was a lot of work and took over the flat at one point as I kept acquiring things to sell on, in addition to my own stuff...

Sally and I are going to be stitching Morning Song by Just Nan as a SAL. Of course, despite my newly organised stash, my chart has gone AWOL, so sometime today I'm going to be looking for it ... hopefully the sheep will return to the fold, and we can get going next weekend! I haven't stitched a Just Nan in a while.

Pictures of my finishes will appear on Monday, when I get back to the office. Happy Stitching Sunday, everyone!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Goals for April

This is what I would like to accomplish in April:

1. Land That I Love (Canadian Version) - Lizzie*Kate - I now have the new skein of Buckeye Scarlet thread that I need to complete this. I'm hoping that the dyelot will go okay, otherwise I feel another ONS order coming on ... this should only take a couple of evenings to do.

2. Neat Country Things - Homespun Elegance - this project is known as "The Sludge Monster" because of the colour palette. That said, I am enjoying stitching it, but I'm not looking forward to one of the blocks, which I am going to entirely re-draw. That's because the "sheep" doesn't really look like anything much - most people who I'm shown the chart to think it looks like a pig more than anything... I'm also not impressed by the fact that no alphabet and numerals were included for personalisation, so that's another graph paper job ...

3. One UFO. I allowed myself a guilt free start to the new year, but being the conscientious sort, my UFOs are beginning to prey on me again. So I will finish one this month, although it will probably be one of the ones that is reasonably close to completion.

4. One item to finish into something. My finishing pile is getting larger again, so it's time to tackle it. I'm happy now with making pinkeeps and flat folds, so it could be one of those ... who knows?

5. One item to frame. Yup, let's get those beauties on display, I've worked hard enough ...

Let's see how I do with that little lot ...

More stash ...

My favourite charity shop had a quarter yard of 28 count evenweave for 19 pence (about 10 cents). How could I not buy it? I also found a large frame for a sampler I've had finished since 2002, so for £5.99, plus a quid or so for mountboard, I will finally have "Spirit of Scotland" framed! Yippee!

I then went to the quilt shop for a backing fabric for the Pinkeep I'm making for the Hooked on Exchanges exchange. The store owner saw the piece, went to the shelf and pulled the perfect fabric for the backing, so I got that and some lightweight cotton batting. I then spotted a pile of old issues of New Stitches, on sale for 50p each in aid of charity, so went and had a rummage. I'd chosen two (which I thought was quite restrained!) and then ... there was a chart I have been looking for for years. It's called "The Boy King" by True Colors, and I had the kit, originally (bought in a sale) but somehow, I lost the chart. I never threw the kit away, although I have come close several times, and now I can stitch the piece! I'm feeling very lucky this week, perhaps I ought to buy an extra lottery ticket...

My Pinkeep is now made up, and although I say it myself, I'm pretty pleased with how it's turned out. It's now going in the mail, but it doesn't have far to travel, so if I get off the computer in the next few minutes, it could even get there tomorrow!


This week’s SBQ was suggested by Terri and is:

What items do you consider essential to your needlework that you keep in your stitching bag?

I only have a small cosmetic bag which I take on my travels, but it's surprising how much fits in there:

- current project on a hoop
- threads for project
- chart for project
- scissors + fob + pocket
- magnetic needle case - usually containing size 26 John James Petites, but quite often an assortment
- stitch unpicker
- sewing cotton in a contrasting colour (for gridding, or to mark boundaries for borders etc)
- crochet hook (to give back to friend at next stitch and bitch)

If I'm nearing the end of a project, then I pack in the next one too, with it's own hoop. If I'm going to be travelling by plane, then the scissors get subbed out and I add my Clover cutter.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A little goodie bag

The stitched piece is a very old freebie kit which came from a British Cross Stitch magazine in the 1990s, stitched on 18 count aida. I was going to use it to make a birthday card by adding a fabric mount, but then I changed my mind, and thought about making a mini pillow. However, as I had planned to give it to my niece, I remembered about her obsession with bags, and made it into a little drawstring "dolly bag" into which I put her Easter bunny and a couple of little board books - as well as a tube of mini chocolate eggs. I'm not sure which she liked most - it's one of the rewarding things about giving gifts to my niece, she's so pleased with anything - but she insists that the bag is hung with mummy's bag on her pushchair ...

Third Time Lucky!

Okay, on the third attempt I've finished the stitching for the Hooked on Exchanges Pinkeep Exchange. I've gone back to an old faithful design that I've stitched half a dozen times at least, and each time I've been pleased with how it's turned out. I don't work (usually) on a Thursday and Friday, so I have plenty of time to do the construction and get it in the mail, as it's staying within the UK.

On the photos front - I managed to get the camera to talk to my work PC, but then the batteries died! LOL At least I managed to upload a couple of pictures to share, so I'll post them later.