Friday, September 25, 2009


I'm sitting in a place with free wi-fi and an hour between meetings and my netbook in my bag, so what better opportunity to update my blog. Let's face it, it's probably the only opportunity I'm going to get ...

Work is busier than ever - the general manager of the company I do most of my work for has moved onto pastures new, and I've stepped up to cover some of his role until a new person is appointed. The trustees did ask if I would be applying, and I gently made my excuses - I'm not looking for a full time role until after 2012 (when I graduate) and - to be honest - possibly not even then, as the lure of academia may prove just too strong!  I've also started some paid work with the University in improving student representation, which will be interesting, and hopefully will only take up a couple of hours a week ... famous last words?

I got to make my professional performance debut a couple of Saturdays ago... I do most of my work for a circus theatre company and we are developing a new show, and we piloted some ideas at a community event, improvising on the theme of fairy tales. I think it's fair to say my creative leanings are better expressed through the medium of needles, thread, yarn and fabric but the finished result was well received. I even got some of the locals passing by - all tattoos and 'bling' - to stand up and recite their favourite nursery rhymes ... 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' as declaimed by a 'hard case' is something to behold...

(I'm not showing you pictures of the performance. The point of fairy tales is to use your imagination!)

I'd been coming down with something before the performance but 'the show must go on' and a combination of Coca Cola and Sudafed got me through - which of course meant a massive crash in the days following and an absolutely streaming feverish cold - I'm fairly certain that, nasty though it was, it wasn't the dreaded swine flu! The Hermit was his usual considerate self, providing hot drinks and hot water bottles when demanded required! I wasn't really up to anything more demanding than listening to the radio when feeling so washed out - it did seem like a waste of good crafting time though!

(No pictures either, runny eyes and noses are not attractive!)

So, crafting wise, what have I been up to? Well, I've finished another knitted wrap for myself, which is very timely as there has been a distinct autumnal feel in the air lately. And I made a couple of 'blanket buddies' for friends' new babies. They were rewardingly quick to knit and look very effective. There was a stitched piece for an exchange (and there's one to finish-finish) but I'm really not doing much cross stitch at all - I'm just so tired at the end of the day that my eyes can't focus on such close work and knitting is just easier ... Perhaps it's time to treat myself to a powerful daylight lamp? I also managed to miss Anna's (Stitch Bitch's) Swirlygig competition, even though I had two stitched versions to make up, and I've decided to pass on a couple of exchanges offered because of this stitching slump. The good news is that Neat Country Stuff has come back from the framer and is on my wall ...

(There might be pictures of this stuff. Sometime. You never know...)

Righty ho, must get cracking and on to my next meeting - hopefully, there will  be a more stitchy based post soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

By The Sea Exchange

Michelle pulled out a blinder for the By The Sea Exchange I received recently. She'd obviously been looking at my blog and spotted some of my likes and dislikes and I think she judged them very well indeed!

The design is a pretty new one by Country Cottage Needleworks and I think Michelle has done a super job, making it vibrant but not spoiling the balance of the design - the evenness of the stitching is amazing, too!
The mini pillow is backed in a jewel bright turquoise fabric, and Michelle was kind enough to include more of the same in the package:

She also included a fabulous star pendant. I've had to hide it from my mother, she was coveting it ...
It was a fabulous parcel to receive, thank you so much Michelle! The pillow is now gracefully decorating my bathroom and I can admire it multiple times a day!
Oh - and did you know the 'she' in this rhyme is based on a real person, called Mary Anning? She was an amazing fossil hunter, but because of her humble background and gender didn't get the recognition she deserved for a long time although she was honoured in her time. Apparently, the new Tracy Chevalier novel features her..
It's quite an appropriate gift in another way too - I've been out of circulation because I've been working on a new show based on Nursery Rhymes and Fairytales. We had a 'work in progress' showing at a local festival at the weekend, and now we're into revising and refining the concept for an even bigger Arts Festival in October. I was performing at the weekend, which is a *very* rare occurrence and I'm hoping just to be Stage Managing next month - keep the public wanting more, daaaaahlings ... Photos do exist but I think I'll stick to showing you my needlework...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Poetry Society Letter

Design: Poetry Society Letter
Yarn: Emu Superwash Wool
Needles: 3mm

I finished my Poetry Society letter for their gigantic knitted poem - we still don't know what it will be but all will be revealed next month, and I'm sure we'll all have fun trying to spot our letters!

You can probably see from the books behind me that I'm into words, lots of words, so it's no surprise that I chose to participate in this, along with some other of my local SnB group ...

We were asked to attach a label to the back with our name, location and favourite poem - my favourite is Ithaca by C P Cavafy. It's seen me through bad times, good times, tough decisions and life choices ... so I've added it here, because sometimes, we need to think that it's about the doing, not the result - whether that is life, cross stitch, knitting ...

C.P. Cavafy
translated from modern Greek by Rae Dalven

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Needlebook Arrived!

I got home yesterday after an exhausting day at work - not only am I doing my 'normal' work, I've been roped in to perform at a festival this weekend so we're rehearsing for that, and I'm not a natural performer - to find a lovely package from Jill!

Jill tells me this is a Lizzie*Kate design which she adapted. The sunflowers are so cheerful and one of my favourites - and of course there's a bee :o)
The leaf of needles is attached by the little cute star, and the lining fabric matches the border on the front perfectly - and is another one of my favourite colours! 
And talking of bees:
Jill included this really sweet Shepherd's Bush kit from my wishlist! Wow! My needles are itching to start it already!
Thank you so much for a lovely exchange!

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Sister is Ready to Travel...

Amongst stitching bloggers, there's a great feeling of sisterhood - like all sisters, we have the odd times when hurtful comments are made (fortunately, none have been left on this blog) but overall, we're a great community.

Something that typifies this spirit is The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pattern, a pattern which is being passed from stitcher to stitcher. It has just been completed by Jill, and is ready to move on again. You can be added to the draw if you pop on over to her blog.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

August Review and September Goals

here are my goals for August:

  • Clapotis - Kate Gilbert - I finished this and felt less than enthusiastic about it. Until I actually started wearing it. The fabric drapes wonderfully, and it's just right in terms of warmth. A friend even spotted me the other day because she was drawn to the Clapotis first ...
  • Mini Cable Socks - I'm on the foot of the first one, but I've just realised - just as I'm supposed to be shaping the toe - that I've made the foot narrower than it should be. I need to check whether they will still fit, as 4 stitches off could be too many.
  • Neat Country Stuff - Homespun Elegance - Happy Happy Dance! It's done! It's even at the framer's. I found a nice frame at a charity shop, again, and the framer is going to stretch it and cut a mount .
  • Striped Baby Sweater - Sirdar - Finally sewn up. My estimate of an hour was rather optimistic - it took six goes to fit in one sleeve!
  • The Big Knit - Smoothie Bottle Hats - I'm working on these in odd moments, as a little hat takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, including sewing up.
  • Poetry Society Letter - completed, blocked and ready to mail
  • By The Sea Exchange - mailed and received
  • Prairie Schooler Exchange - mailed and received
  • Birthday something for The Hermit. This did turn out to be an MP3 sleeve, as the player itself could not be attached to a lanyard although to be fair, I used a piece I'd already stitched.
I had quite a productive month, as I also completed:
  • Several Beaded Scissor Fobs, to give away with future exchanges
  • Striped Baby Hat 
  • Striped Baby Mitts
  • Striped Baby Bootees - can you see a theme? My friend for whose baby I've made these for is known for being a fan of stripey things!
  • Derbyshire - Heritage Stitchcraft. Happy Happy HAPPY Dance! This was one of my oldest UFOs. I know I bought it on  visit to my parents when I was living at the other end of the country. I've babaeen back here for 11 years, I bought it at least 2 or 3 before then! I can't say it was the most enjoyable thing I've ever stitched - Heritage kits have a lot of unusual fractionals in them - and it's not really my style. I think I bought it because I was homesick...
I also had a Finishing Weekend, where I completed the following, which can all be seen earlier in my blog:
  • French Country IV Pumpkin - JBW Designs - framed by me so it's now ready to display
  • Easter Cracker Sampler - Bent Creek - also framed
  • Bird in Tree - Historic Needlework Guild - made into a pinkeep
  • Alphabet Ribbon Sampler - Historic Needlework Guild - another pinkeep, which I then sent to  stitching friend
  • Winter - Trail Creek Farm - Scissor Fob, just for a change
  • Miniature Sampler - Cathy Bussi - Pinkeep - this dates back to 1996, so it deserved to be finished into something!
  • Hardanger Square - Mary Hickmott - what a surprise, I made this into a pinkeep, with fabric underneath the design to show off the voids
  • A Merry Tree for Thee - Full Circle Designs - I made this into another pinkeep!
  •  Merry Stitching - Elizabeth's Designs - why break the habit, yes, you've guessed it, I finished this as a pinkeep too!
Actually, I'm astonished at what I achieved last month, although I admit I did take a week's break from working. This month is not going to be anywhere near as productive, as work is going to be very hectic, I have taken on another freelance role and there will be some training for that, plus the new semester at University starts. I will need to do some crafting, just to keep my sanity, but apart from exchange and charity deadlines, I'm going to concentrate on the process, not the results ...

Goals for September:

  • Friends Through Threads Exchange - I know what I'm going to stitch, just need to get cracking!
  • Hooked on Exchanges Fall Needleroll Exchange - still planning this one. I have a couple of Shepherd's Bush charts that would do, but they aren't quite right ...
  • Stitch on one kitted chart - this will be She Gathers, by 4 My Boys
  • Stitch on one UFO
  • Stitch on one kit
  • soKnit more smoothie hats for The Big Knit
  • Work on the New England Stole
  • Keep to a stash diet - buying only threads and trims needed for the pieces I'm working on
Hopefully, this will see me through some potentially stressful moments ahead!