Friday, August 28, 2009

Start Them Young...

I had a lovely day on Wednesday, spending time with my niece, The Tot.

She already loves crafts and creating, so we spent a little time making puppets from a couple of kits I'd bought cheaply at Wilkinson's and then putting on a puppet show. I know I'm probably biased, but Tot has a fabulous imagination, and needs very little encouragement to tell stories!

Molly peeling the pieces

Despite her short fingernails, Tot was ace at peeling off the backing on the sticky felt...


Tot called the bodkin a "magic pen" - I thought that was very apt!

Molly and the magic pen

I did have to guide the needle through the holes, but Tot pulled the yarn through - she liked that bit!


The finished tiger!

(for some reason, despite being rotated in photobucket, these pictures have come out sideways...)

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Squirrel (part) - Full Circle Designs


Design: The Squirrel (out of print)
Designer: Full Circle Designs
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 28 count evenweave
Finish: Bourse

I stitched this for the Woodland Exchange over on Hooked on Exchanges. I took the centre portion of The Squirrel chart and used it for my project. I think I had hopes of stitching the squirrel as a matching scissor fob but making this took a lot of time!


I backed the piece with this fabric from my stash and folded the corners back. I secured them with stitching - the buttons are purely decorative!


I added ribbons in two colours, and the design hides itself away cleverly when they are gathered.


But it can be opened up and sits like a bowl when needed for storing bits and bobs.

This was my first bourse, and I enjoyed making it, although I don't think I got the proportions quite right.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I'm feeling a bit blah about my stitching at the moment. Then again, I'm feeling a bit blah in general, probably because I'm tired and work is a bit stressy at the moment. There's some changes going on, and I'll need to step up and take on some more responsibility (for a while) and I'm just a bit anxious about it all...

Anyway, I thought that seeing some of my pieces come back from the framer would help - and it did, for a while. Until I thought about all the other pieces I have still to frame - and the lack of room to display them when they're done ... the perils of living in a small apartment! No, seriously, I'm really impressed by the work the framers have done, and best of all, they are a five minute walk away. I'll show some pictures when I've taken them!

I decided to dive into my stash and see if that would perk me up a bit. It usually works, because I do have some lovely stuff in my stash. Last year, I went through my fabrics and matched them up to charts where I could. With the benefit of a spreadsheet - because I've inventoried all my charts - I worked out how long it would take me to stitch everything if I stitched one project per month. Would anyone like to guess?


October 2023. And that's not including kits, or UFOs, or the charts I have which I don't have fabric for. Or the projects from books. Or freebie charts.

I'll be 54 by October 2023 (gulp!) so I'm not at SABLE, but ...

Hey ho, at least it means I will be set if suddenly all the designers stop producing new charts!

In the light of this news, I'm going to set myself some new goals for each month:

  • stitch on one kitted chart
  • stitch on one UFO
  • stitch on one kit
  • make up or frame one finished object
  • knit one pair of socks (because my yarn stash isn't getting much smaller either!)
  • keep to a stash diet - buying only threads and trims needed for the pieces I'm working on
  • take part in one exchange per month (ideally)
I'm not saying that each of the pieces I work on will be finished in that month, but I need to focus and use what I have rather than lusting over what I don't.

I've also decided I need to be more ruthless and only work on pieces I *love* so I will be having a stash clearout, and if I want new stash,I'll browse the trade blogs first...

I'm looking forward to a happy dance later today - Neat Country Stuff is sooooooooo close - and I'm also working on an exchange piece which may be completed. I will be sitting with my feet up, listening to Test Match Special - what could be better?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Frustration... and some progress

I've been sewing up the Striped Baby Jumper for a baby that is due on Friday. Jill at the Wool Baa taught me the wonderful mattress stitch technique for knitteds, but I've come to realise why my knitted items are either plain shapes, or knitted in the round. I had to set one sleeve SIX times before I was happy with it (perfectionist? moi?). I know being striped should have made it easier but ... Anyway, it is done, and will be mailed to Switzerland when I know baby has arrived safe and well and I'll share pictures then.


I still need to darn in the ends of my Clapotis, but you can see the yarn here. Yes, using autumn shades - again! I'm going to wear it for a month or so and then decide if I want to continue using it or if I will rip it back. It's hanging on a couple of pegs here, so you can see the lovely drape, but I'm still wishing I'd done it in a less plain yarn.


Although possibly nothing as bright and mottled as this - this is the current state of play of my Big Knit Hats for the Innocent charity campaign. I've been experimenting with stitch patterns from my knitting encyclopaedias, not that you can really tell from this picture, and it's been very interesting and has triggered some ideas for larger projects.

Two Bookcrossing friends of mine were having babies this month. The stripey sweater wearer-to-be is not yet born, but the other has arrived. And is a baby boy. I'd rather hoped it would be a girl, as I had cast on this cardigan:


If Swiss baby is a Swiss miss, all will be well... If not, I will have to think of something, or just rip it back, as I haven't got very far.

(Honestly, I don't really mind that my friend's had a boy. She had a tough journey to conceive, I'm just so thrilled there's been a happy result!)


I'm on the last square of Neat Country Stuff! And if you are thinking it's not looking like the chart, you'd be right. I really don't like the 'sheep' as charted on the original design. However, I also have in my stash the same designer's Sheep Button Sampler. The sheep as charted on this however was a little big, so out came the graph paper and pencils and after a session with those (and an eraser) I think it's going to work - fingers crossed! I'm hoping for a happy dance by the weekend, and then I can get cracking on my By The Sea exchange piece. The squashed stitches you can see will fluff out as I'm going to wash and press the piece - it's all DMC so will be safe. It's been hanging around so long it needs refreshing!


Finally, this is my Poetry Society letter. It's curling like nobody's business because it's plain stocking stitch. I hope the PS people are planning on putting a border on it, or displaying it stretched in some way. We still don't know what the actual poem is going to be yet ... Can you guess which letter I'm knitting? I'm hoping this will be finished in the next day or so too. It will be great to have some WIPs finished!

Edited to add - forgot to list my socks here, but I think I've left them at the office!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer House Exchange Received

I received this very cheerful envelope in the mail on Friday...


It came from Diana O and was just as cheerful inside - the tissue paper has sparkles!


There were several layers carefully concealing this treasure:


Isn't it beautiful? The colours just sing out. I think it must be the silk threads Diana used. Diana tells me that the motifs are from a Brenda Keyes book. Diana made a great choice - Brenda is one of my favourite designers, in fact hanging over the computer I have the "Schoolhouse Sampler" designed by her and which I stitched in 1996. Brenda's website seems to have been expanded recently, I recommend a browse if you like samplers!

Thank you so much for the gift, Diana. I will cherish it for the care, thought and skill you showed. And thank you too for the 'extra' you put in, naughty girl!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I promised...

Don't let it be said I live in fear of Anna the Stitch Bitch, but I think she was expecting an update on my finishing weekend!

So, without further ado, here it is...


So, here we have two framed finishes, six pinkeeps and a scissors fob!

I confess, I used Spraymount and double sided tape rather than lacing, but I think I redeemed myself slightly by stitching up the sides of the pinkeeps rather than go for more glue. Glue and I don't get on. Spraymount and tape are about my limits...


This is a design by JBW Designs, French Country IV - Pumpkin. I love the colours of autumn, and I will possibly display this most of the year round as it goes with my living room decor.

The frame was a charity shop (thrift store) find, complete with double mount - it had a dull cheap print in it and it would have cost me less than £3 (US$5). Of course, I'd stitched the pumpkin on a piece of fabric a little too small for this, so it took quite a while to centre it up and to make sure the edges were hidden! The ripples you can see I think are from the glass, as the piece is actually smooth in real life!


This design is Easter Cracker from a kit by Bent Creek. I finished it last year but it's been sat in my drawer ever since. So only a year or so - that's not bad going by my standards!

The frame is another charity shop find, even cheaper. It was destined for another piece, but when I tried it against this one, it seemed to go so well to me that I can't now remember what I originally had planned for it!

Lack of fabric wasn't an issue with this, but it still took a while to centre and square up!

I'm so lucky to have four charity shops within a ten minute walk of the flat, I have come across some great finds.

I'll show you the other finishes in another post, time is getting on and I'm supposed to be getting dinner ready...

And the winners are ...

Thank you all who entered my blogoversary draw - it's been so much fun! Most of the commenters were new-to-me bloggers, and I've had a great time discovering your blogs, admiring your wonderful work, and getting to know you and your families and pets. I wish I'd had stash to give away to you all - well, I probably do, but the postage would have ruined me! :o)

For the draw, I used one of the baskets I keep my stitched smalls in for a 'hat' - I thought it appropriate, given the bees on the lining fabric!

The Bears, waiting for their new home:



Here's all the names in the draw for the bears. There weren't all that many, but that improves the chances of winning, right?

And the lucky winner is ...



Congratulations Pirjo, please email your address to nic dot wray at gmail dot com (remove spaces and add symbols) and I'll get the bears in the mail to you!


The bees were rather more popular, these are all the names this time, I had enough to give them a good stir...


And the lucky winner is ...



Well done Riona, again let me have your address and I'll put these in the post to you!

Do keep reading my blog if you haven't won this time, I may very well do another giveaway soon!

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I've been pretty busy on the knitting front - I went to two stitch n bitches in the course of a week, and that always spurs me on. Especially when one of my friends showed off her longline cardigan - the one she's given me the pattern for, the one I have the yarn for and which I haven't started yet...

I finished Clapotis, though! It's been pressed and is currently waiting for me to darn all the ends in. Despite it being reasonably quick, and knitted in a pretty luxe yarn in on of my favourite colours (Noro Cash Iroha, a silk/cashmere/lambswool mix - half price (£3.95/50g) from my favourite yarn shop, the Wool Baa) I'm feeling a tad underwhelmed by it. It's just a bit too simple and plain ... it does feel lovely though, and perhaps by the autumn, when I foresee wearing it, I'll be more keen on it. Pictures will follow soon ....

However, knitting is on hold for a while. I have a blister/callous developing on my ring finger of my right hand, where the needle rests and although it's not painful as such, it's a little tender. I guess it means I'll have to just stitch instead... I need to work on my By The Sea exchange and I would truly like to finish Neat Country Stuff ... here's a picture taken of me actually working on it!


Since that picture was taken at the recent knitting (!) retreat, I did some more work on it which will need to be frogged - grrr!

I had a free afternoon this week and went shopping in the scrag end of the sales. I bought some lovely trousers in M&S but my prize find was in Accessorize...


I know it's supposed to be a trendy necklace, but my first thought was "no more sticking needles in my clothes!" - and at 70% off, it only cost me £2.40 (about US$4) - bargain! Of course, there's probably some poor person in the Far East making these on piecework rates but I'd like to think that by buying this, I'm at least helping to keep them fed and clothed, and I will remember them when I'm doing my own frivolous stitching, and will always try to buy Fairtrade when I can. And to be fair, Accessorize do seem to be involved with the ethical issues.

Hmm, I didn't mean to wander off and climb on a soapbox!

Right, I'm off out to enjoy the rare sunshine we've been having this summer. I may go over to the Wool Baa, sit and darn in the ends, and plan my next but one project ...

PS Don't forget to enter in my blogversary draw, below - it's your last chance!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Answers to Comments

Okay, photobucket is down for maintenance, and as that is hosting my pictures, I'm going to take this opportunity and answer comments people have left:

Tammie: I'm so glad you like the pieces I stitched, and I'm sorry for missing the big itself!

Kimberley: I have a little gizmo at the bottom of my blog which tells me when my blogoversary is - if you go to you can set that up for yourself too!

Riona: I'm hoping for William Blake too, I studied him this semester and I think I'm in love ... it would be appropriate as he crafted his poems too, with the illustrations and engravings. There's a lot of Tennyson celebrations happening over here at the moment as it's the 200th anniversary of his birth. And wasn't that a coincidence about the tea! :o)

Thank you everyone for commenting, and don't forget, there's still time to enter my blogoversary draw!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Note to Self

When you take part in an exchange with a sending date a long time away - like say, hypothetically of course - a birthday exchange - star the email that gives you the details *and leave it in your inbox*.

*hangs head in embarassment*

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Blogoversary Giveaway!

It's my blogoversary today!

I've raided my stash and I've got two sets of stitching stuff to give away.

One is Blogoversary Bees and the other is Blogoversary Bears!

Firstly, here are the Bears:


Six charts, including:
Dale Burdett - A Cross Stitcher's Delight (lots of small charts, including bears)
Just Nan - Noel
Leisure Arts (Donna Richardson) - The Cross Stitchers
Leisure Arts (Shirley Wilson) - The Bears' Picnic
Leisure Arts (Heartprint Inc) - Teddy Bear Reunion
Stoney Creek - Bear Parade

I have to confess, most of these have been given to me or turned up in charity shop finds, as I'm not a bear person - but somebody out there may be!

And now - the Bees!


The goodies include:
Mosey 'N Me - Bee Happy
Lizzie*Kate - Buzz on Inn!
The Stitchworks - Bee Stitchin'
Heart in Hand - Wee Bee
SamSarah - Bee Cool
4 My Boys - Welcome to Our Hive
DMC - V&A Museum Collection - Art Nouveav Bee Napkin and Napkin Ring Kit (complete)

Bees are my thing, as you may have guessed from the blog background, but some of these charts are duplicates, some I've stitched from, and some - well, I think I've got enough to be working on!

If you'd like to enter the draw for either of the sets of charts, please comment below. If you'd like an extra chance in the draw, link back to this blog in a post of your own (and say so in a comment)

Good luck!

Edited to add: I will do the draw next Saturday, 7 August at 7.00pm BST

August Goals and July Results

I'm going to make the most of my summer break from Uni, and I've set myself some goals for the month. I'd like to finish most of the projects in my "Current Projects" pile, which includes some charity knitting. I've also got a couple of exchanges coming up, and let's not forget it's The Hermit's birthday!

So, here are my goals for August:

  • Clapotis - Kate Gilbert - more than half done, it's fairly mindless knitting
  • Mini Cable Socks - I'm about halfway down one leg
  • Neat Country Stuff - Homespun Elegance - I have some frogging to do on this, grr!
  • Striped Baby Sweater - Sirdar - To sew up. It's a job that will take well under an hour, but I keep putting it off!
  • The Big Knit - Smoothie Bottle Hats - I'll fit these in and around my other stuff
  • Poetry Society Letter - this should be a couple of evenings work
  • By The Sea Exchange - I've chosen the piece I want to stitch, I've sorted out the goodies, so I just need to stitch it!
  • Prairie Schooler Exchange
  • Birthday something for The Hermit. Don't say anything to him, but I'm thinking of getting him a new MP3 player, so it may be an MP3 cosie I make!

July was a busy month workwise, but I think I managed to do a reasonable amount of crafting to keep me sane.

  • Christmas in July Exchange - the finishing on this took a long time, but was worth it!
  • Summer House Exchange - just got in under the wire
  • Antique Needleroll - Shepherd's Bush - another finish for my smalls baskets
  • Hourglass Dishcloth - surprisingly pretty
  • Smoothie Bottle Hats - 15 complete
  • Elongated Corded Rib Socks - I gave this to my mum for her birthday. They are prettier than the name suggests.
  • Scissor Fobs - I've completed two, and another two just need tying to the fixings.

I guess another August goal is to get up to date with all my pictures of finished objects!