Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Affair of the Mutilated Mink - James Anderson

The Earl of Burford can't believe his luck; Rex Ransom, his favourite star from the 'talkies', and his hot-shot producer, Haggermeir, want to film their next feature at Alderley, the family's seventeenth-century country estate. Somewhat less enthusiastic is the Countess, who suddenly finds herself hosting an impromptu house party for the incoming Hollywood crowd. It's almost too much for poor Merryweather, the family's imperturbable butler, to cope with. And that's before there's a murder in the dead of night - By morning Inspector Wilkins of the Westshire Constabulary is cast in the unlikely role of hero, as he tiptoes through the evidence and endeavours to unravel the slightly batty, thoroughly baffling mystery - and work out just what a mutilated mink coat has to do with anything. 

Another enjoyable visit to Alderley and the unfortunate Earl of Burford, who is lovely but seems to attract trouble! The characterisation in this, the second of the series, is more confident, and the mystery itself is full of twists and turns. Spiffing fun! :o)

Stitching Meme

I'm sorry, there's still no pics of works in progress at the moment - I'm just running out of time here. There's been some issues at my main workplace and although some are resolved (yay!) some are on-going and I'm having to put in some more hours than I would like because there is a long weekend coming ... and after that a weekend away... holidays are great, but they get stressful beforehand!

Anyway, Anna over at Stitch Bitch had a little meme, so I thought I'd pass it on. I did change the wording to British spelling :op

What are your hobbies? knitting, needlecrafts, reading, Women's Institute, studying. I need to get back to doing yoga.
What crafts do you do
? cross stitch, embroidery, blackwork, hardanger, quilting, beading, knitting. I occasionally make cards.
What sounds do you craft along to? Usually, Radio 4. But come the cricket season, Test Match Special on Five Live Sports Extra. Cricket and crafting are a perfect combination. On knitting group nights - well, the conversation can be quite bizarre, but is always very funny!
First Project You Ever Made: The first one I remember is a cardboard star covered with blue glitter I made for Christmas. I wasn't quite four. Not long after that, my mum taught me to knit and I made a dishcloth.
Favourite Project: Oh lordy. What to choose? I think it's probably No Bees No Honey - it has a lot of good memories atttached to it.

Favourite Items to Make: I always get a thrill out of knitting socks.

What's your favourite...
: Anything that reminds me of autumn - golds, russets, plums, faded greens.
Movie: Local Hero
TV Show: I don't have a TV.
Band: It's a toss up between The Men They Couldn't Hang and Crowded House.
Book: You're asking someone who is going for a literature degree to choose one book? Okay, from the "classics" it has to be Persuasion by Jane Austen. For something a little more up to date, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things.
Food: It's a toss up between good cheese and good chocolate. 
Craft: It used to be cross stitch, it's possibly a dead heat with knitting these days.

And you? What are your favourites?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Feel Lucky...

Over the past couple of weeks, I've actually been pretty blessed by the lovely people in the blogging community. In chronological order, I've won some stitching goodies, got a blog award and won a gift voucher to spend on stitching stash!

First of all, I entered a draw on Joanie's inspirational blog, Nini Makes. If you ar einterested in all sorts of crafts, I thoroughly recommend you check it out!

I was lucky enough to win the makings of a Cath Kidston tea cosy, a vintage linen tea towel, a handmade scented heart, handmade card and even a tea bag so I can have a cup of tea whilst I'm pondering what to do with my goodies!

The most amazing thing about this is that the fabrics are those used on one of the most essential things I carry - my diary! This year, I opted for a Cath Kidston one instead of my usual Moleskine, and the cover is printed in the floral and dots designs... (it's a great diary, even has little tear out notes, an address section, and a zippered pocket). Thank you Joanie!

Blu over at Therapy by Thread gave me this award - thank you Blu! Apparently, there are some rules attached to this:

1. Accept the award
2. Thank the person who gave you the award
3. Add a link to the person who gave you the award
4. Put the award on your blog
5. Write 10 things about yourself others might not know about you
6. Pass the award on to 10 others

Ten things that may be of interest that I probably have not mentioned before:

1. I'm more or less ambidextrous - although it's probably fairer to say I have no particularly dominant hand. I do prefer to do somethings left handed - e.g. write and some right handed - e.g. use a knife, or a mouse. I have no dominant eye either.
2. I haven't eaten meat since I was eighteen. And no, I don't miss bacon butties (sandwiches) - I do sometimes think of corned beef and HP sauce in a fresh roll longingly though.
3. I'm forty one, and for only seven years of that time (birth to 4 and for 3 years as a student) have I not had a pet. I've had goldfish, guppies, Syrian hamsters, a dog (English cocker spaniel), Russian hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs. I can't imagine life without animals in it.
4. I currently work (mostly) for a circus theatre company and I can spin plates, juggle (badly), and walk the tight wire.
5. I don't have any phobias or irrational fears. And as far as I know, I'm not allergic to anything either - just as well, as MS is an auto immune disease, my system has enough to deal with!
6. Apart from jeans, I don't ever wear blue. Sometimes I will wear turquoise, but anything that's navy, royal blue, airforce, cobalt, baby blue or related - no, no way. For one thing, it really doesn't suit me, and for another, they are colours I associate with my mum and my gran. My gran rarely wore anything that wasn't either blue, rose, or plum.
7. Although I have the nickname "beebarf" and I stitch lots of bees and beehive projects, I don't actually like honey.
8. I don't have a particularly deep speaking voice, but I have to sing in the alto range. Not that I sing a lot - but I can sight read, and play a couple of instruments.
9. I worked for a kitchenware company for several years, and in the course of my work have met a number of famous chefs, including the Roux brothers, Michel Roux Jr., Gary Rhodes, Rick Stein, Ainsley Harriot, James Martin, Antony Worrall Thompson and Jamie Oliver. Some of whom I think are amazing, some of whom - well, not so. I will leave you to guess who did not impress me.
10. Back when I was young and foolish, I went to University to study Materials Science and Metallurgy. I dropped out after two years and am now doing a part time degree in English Literature and Creative Media.

I'm supposed to pass this onto another 10 bloggers, but I honestly, honestly can't just pick ten, especially as so many of the blogs I read have had this award before. So - if you haven't already been awarded this badge, and you read my blog, consider yourself nominated! *Do*  post about it, don't feel shy, don't hide your light under a bushel!

The final piece of good news I had was that I won a $10 gift certificate in Felicity's blogoversary giveaway. That was a lovely surprise, so imagine my delight when Felicity sent the voucher for $25 saying "$10 didn't seem worth it" - she's a very naughty girl, but I will have so much fun browsing the 123 Stitch site and deciding what to treat myself to ...

So, I'm a very lucky girl and very thankful to have such great stitching friends - you all really make life better with your comments, notes, gifts, inspiration ... Thank you everyone!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sew Red for Your Heart Received

The postal service here has lately been erratic, and several things have gone missing en route to me. Unfortunately, one was my Sew Red for Your Heart Exchange :o( However, Karen D very speedily stitched another, and put together another super package and it arrived on Friday.

You probably can't feel it, but the extravagant ribbon is red velvet - very nice!

Opening it up, you can see the goodies - a stitched floss tag with some floss drops (my first!), a fat quarter of finishing fabbie, two red heart buttons, Carrie's Creations thread and my fave DMC Color Variations colour.

And just look at the design - the little spools of thread as a band in the sampler - and finished by a cute heart eyelet!

Thank you Karen, for a great exchange, and thanks too to Jill who organised it all beautifully.


Sorry I've been a bit quiet this week - just the scheduled "Finish or Fling" posts. I've not been feeling that well. Some of the time, I'm having a great time, and getting a lot done and some of the time, I'm feeling really awful, with severe headaches. Grrr.... I'm so ready for the long Easter weekend, as long as my cluster headaches have passed by then... The Hermit's not been feeling so great this weekend either - we're wondering if it's related to the change in the weather back to more wintery, or to the time change. Yes, we're on British Summer Time now, and of course, snow is forecast for Wednesday...

So, here's my week in review:

The good stuff:
  • A certain work issue has been resolved
  • Going to the local museum to see a very well designed exhibition - although I was alarmed to see that I have some of the "museum pieces" in regular use!
  • Seeing BF and pottering around at a craft fair
  • Knitting with alpaca
  • Stash busting some of my acrylic yarn by making a blankie
  • An exchange has arrived (another post later!)
  • All decisions have been made on "Finish or Fling?"!

The bad stuff:
  • Training courses with homework!
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • The state of the flat
  • Pressing deadlines for all sorts of things - funding, course work, job applications, exchanges
Looking at that, the week wasn't so bad - I think I'm seeing things through the opposite of rose-tinted glasses because I really don't deal well with headaches. Not the ones that break through painkillers!

Fingers crossed for a good week for everyone, and plenty of chocolate at the weekend :o)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Finish or Fling? - Wizard of Oz

And here, for all to see, is the date of this project. 1994. It could be about to sit its GCSEs, it's that old! Once upon a time, I dressed up as the Scarecrow with a group of people I was involved with, and we paraded through the streets of our town in their Festival parade. It certainly beat the previous year, when I'd dressed up as a mushroom for the same event, and so I decided to commemorate the occasion with a sampler and the help of Jo Verso's books. And for some reason I stopped before adding myself. I'm sure a psychotherapist type person could have a field day with that little nugget :o)

  • A reminder of a great day out with friends
  • A chance to finish an early design of mine

  • I don't like the style
  • Worked on aida

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Fling. I have a professionally taken photo of us all (thanks to the local paper) and I don't need this too.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Finish or Fling? - Winter Sampler

This is the start of a band sampler from a book by Jo Verso. It's one of a set of four, and I think at one point I had designs on stitching the set.

However, this got laid aside because I think I made a counting error in at least one of the specialty stitch bands - and frogging those can be nearly impossible!

  • Worked on evenweave
  • Like the design

  • Barely started
  • Counting errors
  • Difficult to frog

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Fling. I haven't left much of a margin for framing. I'm going to cut this up and perhaps make a little ornament out of what I've done so far and reuse the rest of the fabric for something else. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Enablers Everywhere....

I forgot in my last update to mention that I'd also spoken to Best Friend.  She had been in Leeds for her regular yoga practice, and discovered that a shop she'd thought was a clothes shop was actually a yarn shop - Baa Ram Ewe. BF went for a nosey, even though she is not a knitter ... and confessed that she bought some Zauberball sock yarn and would I make her a pair of socks with it? So I guess the last couple of pairs I made for her have been appreciated ... the same with my mum. I was warned this could happen... Anyway, I think I've been given a bribe to make me compliant - BF also bought a skein of Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn for *me* ... drools.... but what was I saying to Claire on Saturday about stopping knitting socks for a while to work on blankets? LOL

And if the vision of future yarn-y goodness was not enough, Margaret posted on her blog about a gorgeous etui which is featured in Inspirations magazine, so of course I had to see if the large WH Smith's in town had a copy - it did! Oh well, sometime this century I will be making this set:

The designer is Betsy Morgan of Willing Hands - I can't find a website for her - isn't it lovely?

Finish or Fling? - When This You See

I know I started this out of a lack of anything else available at the time. It's from an old, old, Leisure Arts booklet, and has a basket of flowers on it. I've stitched several other designs from the booklet, including one I have currently hanging in the hall, and another one which I finished in 2007 but probably started at about the same time as this.

  • It's on evenweave
  • It's not a big smapler, wouldn't take long to finish
  • Would fit in a standard sized frame

  • Don't really like the design

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Fling. This too is up for adoption - will send the chart, and check that I used the called for threads!

Monday, March 22, 2010


I had a lovely weekend. I went to Nottingham to meet with some fellow Bookcrossers, and we had our usual fun and frivolity! We do talk books - some of the time - but mostly we're just silly and laugh a lot! After a little light shopping, I went to see my friends Claire and Andrew. Both are writers, and Claire writes a column for Let's Knit, in which our knitting group sometimes makes an appearance. I have to confess the best stories aren't necessarily fit for publication ... ;o) Claire shared some of her recent projects with me, whilst I cracked on with my latest project. I've bought a book called 200 Knitted Blocks - although the title is misleading, as over 80 of them are just different colour variations. It's still a good book, and it will help make a serious dent in my double knitting stash, as I create some cosy blankets!

Then yesterday, I went with Sis and The Tot to visit my Aged Parents. I had a good chat with my dad - he's still a bit down over his heart trouble, but I know that he's really trying not to dwell on it. With the nicer weather and some holidays planned, he will feel better. The Tot is a great distraction, and it is hard to keep a straight face when she's around - she says things in such a serious way, but they are side splittingly funny sometimes. We were on our best behaviour though - last week, she'd to tell off her mum and her Nanna for talking with their mouths full... My parents garden is beginning to look spring like - the bulbs over the guinea pig graves were all blooming, and there's frog spawn in the pond. The Tot was going "Look at the *wonderful* flowers" - they were a distraction when she was jumping on the "bounce-oline" - the mini daffodils are just the right size for someone who is nearly four... I'm going to have to find another name for her soon, as she's really turning into a little girl and not a toddler.

The Hermit stayed home because he's been feeling a bit off balance lately with a change in some of the many medications he has to take. So he prepared dinner for when I got back - barbecue potato wedges, yum! All the better for being made with spuds one of my uncles has grown. And I came back yesterday with some eggs from my Uncle G's hens. I am going to do nothing but lightly scramble these because they are the best, most delicious, eggs ever. This is because his hens are the most spoilt chickens in the world - Uncle G. turns over a spit of ground every day for them to have something fresh to dig about it - and they reward him with eggs packed with flavour! If I ever get a house of my own with a garden, I'm going to want chickens...

I didn't do the stitching I had planned for the weekend, as I'm at the honeymoon stage with my the blanket blocks. You know how it is with a new project... And the blocks aren't terribly photogenic right now, as they need blocking. So, because a picture-less post isn't as much fun, have you seen the latest LHN release?

I am going to HAVE to have this, as I visit Nottingham so often, and have walked many times in Sherwood Forest. Then of course, Little John is buried relatively nearby to where I live ... and some stories have Robin called "Robin of Loxley" (or Locksley) - and Loxley is now a part of Sheffield ...

I hope you all had a great weekend. And thank you so much for the comments - I appreciate them all, especially on the "Finish or Fling" posts!

Finish or Fling? - Time and Season Sampler

Although the date on this says 1994, I know I started it earlier. I bought it with some gift money from my gran at a lovely (now closed) needlework shop in Chesterfield called Brailsford and Way, and I thought it was pricey at the time.

It's worked on 18 count aida, and if I was buying this now, I would ask for this to be subbed out for evenweave or linen. In fact, this isn't so much a "Finish or Fling?" post as a "Finish or Start Over?" - I've been dithering over this for a decade or more and still can't decide. If I restart it, it will be a huge piece, because I would use 28 or 32 count and it's 18" x 12" already... hmmm, some maths tells me 28 count over 2 would make it 23" x 15" (58cm x 38cm).

I've also been stitching it with 2 strands of thread, which I wouldn't do now on that count. However, my stitching life is a journey, and lessons are learned along the way so ...

I adore the design as much now as when I bought it
The motto is one - despite it's origins - I love
It will be a spectacular focal point for my wall of samplers
It's kind of symbolic of my stitching life

Aida cloth
Using two strands of thread, difficult to get neat
A long way to go

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: I really don't know. Starting over wouldn't be hugely costly in the scheme of things as this is a heirloom piece (hopefully - The Tot will need to be taught to appreciate such things LOL) but there's been a fair bit of work done already...

Can I have your thoughts and opinions of this, please?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finish or Fling? - The Boy King

I bought this kit shortly before I left Sussex, and started it then. I have always been fascinated by Tutankamun, and one of my earliest forays into my parent's bookcase was to look at a book they had which was published to coincide with the big Tutankamun exhibition held at the Britsh Museum in the early Seventies.

I lived with my parents for a year when I first moved up here, and that enabled me to save enough money to go on a once in a lifetime trip. So it was fairly obvious that I would pick Egypt - despite my dislike for heat!
Our flight landed at 10.30pm local time, and by 9.00am the next morning, we were in the Cairo museum, and heading for the Tutankamun exhibits... I was not the only one walking round with a huge grin on my face after that, and saying "I can go home now and be happy!" Fortunately, of course, I didn't, because there were a further fourteen amazing days to go and the memories of that trip will stay with me forever.

  • Love the design, will look spectacular when finished
  • Brings back a lot of happy memories
  • Will fit with my small collection of Egyptian memorabilia

  • Still a lot of work to do
  • Navy aida. 'nuff said!
  • Lots of blending filaments and metallics.

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Despite the huge cons, I really want to finish this!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Finish or Fling? - The Lord is My Shepherd

I don't know who I was stitching this Jo Verso design for, or for what occasion. It certainly wasn't for myself, as I'm pretty much a lifelong atheist, despite my family background. It was possibly for a family member - I'm wondering if it was for my late step-gran, as it would fit with the period of acquiring the book?

  • All the backstitch lettering is done!
  • Stitched on evenweave

  • Not my sort of thing at all
  • Lots of fractional stitching and backstitching to do

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Fling. Or offer for adoption. You will need the relevant Jo Verso book or I could possibly copy the chart for you (it's a colour chart though).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Irene's February Biscornu

Design: February Biscornu and Fob - freebie available here
Stitcher: Irene
I first "met" Irene when I stitched a scissor fob for her on an exchange blog we both belong to, and I've been reading her blog ever since. So I'm honoured that she's chosen to stitch several of my designs - and hasn't she made a lovely job of this? Irene's chosen an antique white evenweave in 28 count to stitch this on.

Irene will be receiving a little prize in the post from me for sharing her finish. If you've stitched anything I've designed, please let me have pictures and I'll be happy to share them on my blog and you too could get a little goodie in your mail.

If anyone would like a copy of the chart, leave a comment on the pattern post and I will get it out to you!

Happy Dance! - House Mouse

Design: House Mouse
Designer: Gillian Bowater, from Needlecraft magazine, November 1991
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 14 count aida, white

This is the final design in the set of four, and again was another quick stitch.

I'm not sure how I'm going to finish these. I do have a friend who keeps a couple of mice - Boris and Vasili - perhaps I could make something for her? She's one of the founders of the knitting group I go to (and writes a column in the magazine Let's Knit) so perhaps I could make a knitting bag with them? Then again, she is the step-mum to a little boy, so perhaps something for him? Decisions, decisions...

Finish or Fling? - Sweet As Honey

My mum found this in one of her "rootles" - either at a car boot sale or in a charity shop. It's from a Jiffy kit and is stamped cross stitch, not counted. The first kit I ever tried was stamped cross stitch - I was six - and I think that became a UFO too. And my feelings for stamped work have not really altered much in the the intervening 35 years, despite a couple of other attempts...

  • It's bees!
  • My mum gave it me

  • It's stamped cross stitch, which I hate - I can never get it looking neat enough
  • It's almost a prayer, and I don't do that, even in jest - well, especially in jest, as it could be taken as disrespectful - although the idea behind the sentiment I quite like.

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict - Fling. Again, it's up for adoption if anyone wants it! :o)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kathy's Valentine Fob

Design: Valentine Fob - freebie available here
Stitcher: Kathy

Kathy took my Valentine's fob and stitched it all in red. I wish I'd thought of that! LOL. Kathy writes a great blog, full of stitching and adventures with her Irish Setter, Rory - if you love pictures of cute dogs, get yourself over there now if you aren't already a reader!

Kathy will be getting a little something in the post from me and if anybody else out there has stitched a design of mine and will let me post a picture on my blog, you could win a small prize too!

If anyone would like a copy of the chart, leave a comment on the pattern post and I will get it out to you!

Gather The Flowers - Helen Philipps

Design: Gather The Flowers
Designer: Helen Philipps, from the book The New Cross Stitch Sampler Book
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 28 count linen offcut, cream
Embellishments: Mill Hill seed beads

I have heard from Ronel that she has received this piece I stitched for a Friends Through Threads exchange, so I can now share it with you all!

I've always wanted to stitch this little piece, as I thought it was very sweet, and when I read Ronel's likes and dislikes included pansies, I went straight to the book and started pulling the threads! The chart in the book is a colour chart, and looked a bit more restrained than this - I did wonder at first what on earth I was doing, but the palette does work. I did change the lettering from black to the dark green/gray colour though, and cream stitches were replaced by beads (the model had been stitched on darker fabric). I also left off the other backstitch.

The finished piece had to be a pinkeep, so I used some nice bright fabric to back it, and to keep the contemporary feel going.

I really enjoyed working on this, and I'm so pleased Ronel likes it!

Happy Dance! - Dormouse

Design: Dormouse
Designer: Gillian Bowater. From Needlecraft November 1991
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 14 count aida, white

This little mouse rather reminds me of my guinea pigs, and their fondness for snuggling under blankets and duvets. I'm sure Jasper and Rowan would love beds of their own with patchwork quilts and lots of pillows...

This stitched up pretty quickly once I'd frogged the mistake (a couple of stitches) which had caused it to be abandoned in the first place!

See what I mean about snoozing in comfort?

Finish or Fling? - Summer Into Autumn

This is a very pretty The Drawn Thread sampler, which I finished 18 months ago and yet didn't add the beads and charm to. No, I don't know why either!

  • Only needs beads adding
  • Love the design
  • Have a matchign piece in my stash
  • Worked on linen

  • The date on the sampler is 2008 - how embarassing!

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Finish!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Finish or Fling? - Strawberry Sampler

This is a kit I bought in a sale the first Christmas The Hermit and I spent together. I dragged him off to Hobbycraft (who had a good needlecraft selection back then) and he swore he didn't mind me going through every single sale kit in the shop ... I think it was his first wake up call about my obsession! However, he has his own little foibles and interests, so we're probably about even on that score :o)

The design is one of a set of four. I've already stitched the first one, and the set will be a memorial to my gran. Each has some significance to me, and a memory of my gran:

Strawberry - my gran's garden produced the most luscious strawberries (and raspberries) - gran jealously guarded these against the birds and snails, and our summer trips are full of delicious bowls of berries - for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if we wanted! She also grew many of her own vegetables, and there really is nothing to beat newly dug potatoes and freshly picked peas lightly cooked and served with fish landed at market that morning!

Wild Rose - Roses remind me of her, because she had a number of old fashioned rambling roses on the high stone walls of her garden. My gran loved flowers, and was a very skilled gardener - gardens were her passion, much as stitching is mine. She was always very proud of anything I stitched for her - the walls and shelves of her home had many small framed pieces which had originally been cards - I think she'd saved everything I'd ever sent :o)

Iris - irises were a favourite flower of my gran, and a favourite of my mum's, too. Gran's funeral flowers were in her favourite colour, blue, and included some gorgeous irises.

Heartsease - I love the happy smiling faces of heartsease and pansies - I love the old fashioned name, and their apparent delicacy - when really they are tough and will flower in almost any season. They are one of my favourite flowers. They also symbolise "thoughts" - and I have so many good memories of my gran.

  • Not a huge amount of work to do
  • Matches a design I already have finished
  • Lovely linen to work on
  • A nice reminder of my gran

  • Can't think of any!

So: Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Finish

Irene's Shamrock Biscornu and Fob

Design: Shamrock Biscornu and Fob - freebie available here
Stitcher: Irene
Irene is a lovely stitching friend from Canada who has been enthusiastic and supportive of my designing from the beginning - thank you for that, Irene. I'm so pleased that you enjoy stitching my designs, and I love how you've adapted them to make them truly unique! Irene has gone with a variant on the "bright" colour scheme I suggested, and has also altered the designs on the reverse - I think they look great, and I'm sure they also made them quicker to stitch up - never a bad thing if you are working to a short deadline! I'm quite jealous I didn't think of using the knot device as the reverse of the fob myself - only joking! LOL

Irene will be receiving a little prize in the post from me for sharing her finish. If you've stitched anything I've designed, please let me have pictures and I'll be happy to share them on my blog and you too could get a little goodie in your mail.

If anyone would like a copy of the chart, leave a comment on the pattern post and I will get it out to you!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!

Fully Dressed!

Well, no, not me - got to love blogging in your jim-jams - but my lady of the Sisterhood. Dressed in a very cheerful yellow, her hair and eyes have been coloured to match mine, but I think I'd need pretty heavy duty corsetting to get her figure! :o) Tonight I actually have an evening in so I'm hoping to get some of the lettering worked on. And last night was my last Uni class for a month, so that is going to free up some more time too! Yay! I love my course, and the tutor I have for both my classes is *fabulous* but I do need a break...

I'd like to get this finished at the weekend - I wonder where the pattern will go next?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Little House Needleworks Exchange

I received this lovely parcel from Lillie. It was my gift on Hooked on Exchanges Little House/Country Cottage Needleworks Exchange. She made this wonderful pillow with the message of "Hope" on it - isn't the finishing and trimming just deliciously frivolous? You can't feel it from a picture, but it is lovely and soft, and the backing fabric is too.

And I received not one but two pin pillows which she had stamped - plus the handmade flower pins you can see.

And if that wasn't enough, there were some cute buttons - very appropriate, as I'm planning a Sunbonnet Sue quilt for my niece, and some delicious sounding teas and chocolate.

Thank you Lillie, for your generosity, I feel very spoiled!

PS In one of those coincidences, the tea came in a good luck envelope from HSBC bank - both my sister and brother in law work for them, and they have a major centre in my home city!

March Biscornu and Fob - Free Cross Stitch Chart!

Design: March Biscornu and Fob - freebie available here
Stitcher: Tina
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 14 count aida, antique white

Tina was another kind volunteer who offered to help me with the stitching of my models, and I'm so pleased she managed to do so, as I know she's had family stuff going on. She's done a great job, and I think she liked stitching it, because she tells me she's at work on another two but with slight variations in the colours, including a pink one! I hope she will also share those, but these ones were stitched in the charted colours. I especially like the braided cord for the fob, it's a great idea to get the perfect match.

Tina, thank you so much for doing this!

If anyone would like a copy of the chart, leave a comment on the pattern post and I will get it out to you!

Shamrock Biscornu and Fob - Free Cross Stitch Pattern!

Design: Shamrock Biscornu and Fob - freebie available here
Stitcher: Sheila
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count Monaco, tea dyed

Sheila kindly offered to stitch this for me, as I've been pushed for time lately, and hasn't she done a great job?! She chose the "antique" colourway on the chart, and stitched it on 28 count Monaco in the tea dyed colourway. I'm always amazed when something takes shape in reality from a thought in my head ...

Sheila, thank you so much for doing this, I hope you enjoyed it!

Another reader of my blog, Irene, has also finished her biscornu already, but I will save that post for later as these ladies each deserve a turn in the spotlight!

If anyone would like a copy of the chart, leave a comment on the pattern post and I will get it out to you!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy Dance! - February Block Flip It

Design: February Block Flip It
Designer: Lizzie*Kate
Threads: DMC conversion as charted, with one change
Fabric: 28 count jobelan, cream

I told the sad tale of this piece in my Finish or Fling? post and I am pleased to say this was completed without further mishap or thread loss! I really enjoyed stitching this, although filling in that pink background seemed to take a while, but that's possibly because I was so anxious to get it done! The only change I made was to the pale green - the charted conversion didn't show up very well.

This joins the January piece. I don't know how I'm going to finish these, whether to frame them or to make them into some kind of wallhanging or quilt - well, whenever I get round to stitching the rest of the series. Which means I can put off the decision for a while yet!

Finish or Fling? - Petits Anges

This was another eBay find - I think I must have been ahead of the curve as it is a French design, and it's certainly the French designers carrying the torch for cross stitch at the moment, IMHO. Before you all comment and protest, I'm generalising, I appreciate there are designers of other nationalities out there, but as a body ... it's the French.

Anyway, this became a UFO because it was a travel project, and somewhere on my travels to a series of trade shows, the chart went missing. It could be in Birmingham, London or Frankfurt - or at some point in between.

  • Still love the design, even the cherubs
  • Stitched on linen
  • Company is still producing the design

  • No chart
  • Will need to try and contact the company if I want the chart - and I don't write French
  • No stockists in the UK

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: I do really want to finish this, but it will take some effort on my my part to track down the chart. But yes, Finish.

This is what it will look like when complete:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Dance! - Blue Tit

Design: Blue Tit
Designer: from a chart in Cross Stitcher
Threads: DMC as charted
Fabric: 14 count aida, pale blue

When I pulled this out of my stash, I thought it was actually finished, and I was about to make it into a birthday card for my dad. It was only when I caught sight of the chart that I realised the poor little bird had nothing to perch on.

It took me longer to pull the two shades of floss and thread my needles than to actually complete the stitching ... and now it is definitely ready for making up into a card!

Fortunately, my parents are not as superstitious as my gran's old neighbour. Mrs Parsons would not allow ornaments or even pictures of perching birds inside the house (so no robins on Christmas cards!) - she claimed they were unlucky. Is that a common superstition? I thought it was quite amusing, given that Mrs P kept a budgie for many years ...

Finish or Fling? - Random Thoughts

This does look finished - and it pretty much is, it just needs the embellishments. Which I can't find. I put them "somewhere safe" and now I can't lay my hands on them...

  • Lovely, lovely design
  • It's pretty much finished
  • Did I say how much I love the design?

  • Can't find the embellishments.

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Bit of a silly question really. Finish, definitely. Now, has anyone any idea where the charms are?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Finish or Fling? - Pearlescent Bracelet

I bought this little kit when my LNS was closing down, as I'd made a similar bracelet in a different colourway earlier.

I like the idea, I like the bracelet, I don't like the metallic floss.

  • Something different
  • It's small, won't take long

  • Black aida. Need I say anything as to why this is a con?
  • Metallic floss. Ditto

So - Finish or Fling?

Both. I will frog the little I've done, but use the design to stitch it with standard floss.

March Biscornu and Fob - Free Cross Stitch Chart!

March brings breezes loud and shrill,
Stirs the dancing daffodil.

We're having a nice bright March here, but because of the snow earlier this year, our daffodils will be later than usual - it's looking like it will almost be April before we get a show! I love daffodils, they are so bright and cheery. The Hermit gets them confused with dandelions, don't ask me how! He just has no interest in flowers, bless!

Another "D" who deserves celebrating is my gran, Donaldina Mitchell McLeod. It would have been her 87th birthday today. She loved flowers and was a super gardener - her soft fruits and fresh vegetables were high spots in our summer holidays! Her son, my Uncle Rod, shares her birthday (although not her green thumb) and he is 60 today! I can't believe that my cool, trendy Uncle Roddie would be eligible for his bus pass if he was still in the UK ...

Anyway, enough family stuff! The chart uses only three shades of DMC- I've chosen quite muted shades, but I think this would look good in a bright colourway too!

There's a matching fob with this design too, included in the chart pack!

If you would like a copy of the chart, please comment below and leave an email address unless yours is visible in your blog profile. Some people ask for charts but I have no way of getting them to them :o( Charts are sent in PDF format.

If you do stitch this design, I'd love to see the finished article - and there will be a prize for any I show on my blog!

Although there is no charge for this chart, a donation to the MS Trust for this chart would be appreciated. Pennies will do - and you can make a donation by clicking here

There is no obligation to make a donation - you will be sent the chart whether or not you choose to make a donation, as I appreciate that some people are not in a financial position to do so.

This pattern is offered for personal, non-commercial use only. Items made from this pattern may be sold on a small scale basis such as on Etsy or at craft sales. Sales for charity are positively encouraged! This pattern and the text and photos contained within, may not be copied or reproduced for any purpose other than personal use. Please direct people to this blog rather than forwarding the pattern, thank you! Copyright 2010 N M Wray

Happy Dance! - Liberty Print Miniature

Design: Liberty Print Miniature
Designer: Liberty of London
Threads: Unknown
Fabric: 18 count aida, antique white

Again, please excuse the grubbiness of this finish - it's now washed and looks fine - but you would be grubby if you'd been hanging around, unloved and incomplete since 1991.

I think this is one of my oldest UFOs and I'm so pleased to have finally finished it. It took hardly any time at all as it was nearly there but - again - I needed to match up the colours as I had lost the threads, the chart had no colour key and no clue as to the brand of threads.

I started this at a difficult time in my life, and in my early days as a stitcher. I'm not going to show you the back, because it's shocking! And if I was going to start this now, I would use one strand for cross stitch on 18 count, not two, as it is a bit chunky looking, probably because my stitches aren't as even as I can make them these days - but I guess that's what practice does! :o) It was put aside because of counting errors - and then I lost the threads. Twenty years later, I had the confidence to sub a thread and to fudge and make allowances for the errors. So, actually, I think this little piece is a symbol of my journey as a stitcher, in a funny sort of way.

I think I will make this into a pincushion, I have some fabric which - although not a Liberty print - is very similar in style and colouring to this.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Finish or Fling? - Patchwork Garden


I think I started this in 1998, when I moved back North and lived with my parents for a while. The design is by Elaine Cosier and was published in Cross Stitch Collection. It features a number of specialty stitches.

  • Stitched on linen
  • Specialty stitches

  • I've lost the chart - that's a pretty big one!
  • Don't like the colours I've chosen

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Fling. Or at least, recycle the linen.