Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stitcher's Heart - A Mon Ami Pierre

Design: Stitcher's Heart (freebie available here)
Threads: DMC 75
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, cream

I stitched this lovely freebie for the Stitch Red for Your Heart Exchange over on Hooked on Exchanges. My partner was Marie, and she tells me that due to all the bad weather she has been having, it was one of only two valentines she received this year - I'm glad it cheered you up!
The theme was dear to me, as it is to Jill, the exchange organiser. My dad was taken ill in November last year - frighteningly so. Tests have shown that although he is basically very fit, with low cholesterol and such, his blood pressure is way too high and his heart isn't pumping as efficiently as it should be. He has mild Left Ventricular Dysfunction, and possibly has had it since he was a child, when he had rheumatic fever. The good news is that he's reached 68 without it being a problem before - and he was a coal miner when he left school, and then was a builder's mate and spent 27 years in the police force, all fairly hard on one's heart in various ways. The bad news is that he's going to be on medication for life now, and there is a chance of reduced life expectancy. It's been a bit of a shock, but I think we're all getting adjusted now. My ma's biggest complaint about the situation at the moment is that she had to spend a day phoning round and internet searching because their insurer wanted to triple their holiday insurance premiums! (She's found a company that will cover them for pretty much the original premium, so it pays to shop around!)

Anyway, back to stitching! This freebie was a joy to stitch, and I used a discontinued DMC thread (75) to work it. Actually, I think the thread may only be discontinued in the UK ... although 115 is a close substitute. I traced the heart freehand using the chart as a guide - and it doesn't look as uneven as the picture. I used some vintage Laura Ashley fabric to back it, and some bought cord to trim.

The observant among you will have noticed that the fabric has changed colour between the photos. This is because when I mounted the stitching on the board, I used an aerosol glue, and there was a little seepage in one spot. Using solvent didn't remove it, and the Hermit suggested coffee dying the piece! As I couldn't dismantle the piece, I brewed some strong coffee and dabbed it on with a cotton wool ball, so that I wouldn't soak the card - and then used a hairdryer to "set" the dye and to stop any potential buckling... so, if things do go wrong, all I can say is don't panic and think laterally!

The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy - James Anderson


The theft of the diamond necklace and the antique pistols might all be explained, but the body in the lake - that was a puzzle. "Don't expect me to solve anything," Inspector Wilkins announced modestly when he arrived to sort out the unpleasantness. And at a house party that included English aristocracy, foreign agents in disguise, a ravishing baroness, a daring jewel thief, a Texas millionaire, and of course, the imperturbable butler, it was going to take some intricate sleuthing to uncover who killed whom and why...

The cover image is a good clue to the contents of this fun book - it's a return to the 1930s, with war looming, but people still having "top hole" fun in the country house of an English earl - a house which comes complete with a secret passage. The author has his tongue firmly in his cheek, but has written an affectionate tribute to Christie, Sayers et al and he has constructed a convoluted plot worthy of Christie at her peak. Some of the characterisation is weaker than the others, but again, I think that is very Christie-esque - as is Wilkins' repetition of "not sanguine, not sanguine at all".

An enjoyable mystery, and I'm looking forward to the other two in the series.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Another year older ...

I had my birthday on Saturday, and right on cue - but fortunately after I'd got home from my day out - it started to snow! I know we've not suffered as much as many places, but this has been a bad winter by UK standards, and I'm ready for Spring now ...

This is the view from our living room window (we're in a first floor flat - second floor for US readers!) looking over the communal garden to the neighbouring building, which is an undertaker's business - the big rolling door is where the hearses come out of... it's nice to have quiet nieghbours ;o)

So, Sunday's plans got cancelled - the Aged Parents were going to come over and we were going to go for lunch, but the road to get here is a minor country road, exposed and not gritted so they stayed home. I stayed in too and stitched. I've made quite a dint in my UFO pile, so there's plenty of blog material to come - I even finished some pieces before showing them on a "Finish or Fling?" post :o) I can't believe that some pieces were abandoned so close to completion...

The Hermit bought me the remaining Prairie Schooler alphabet charts for the SAL, so I'm all set with that. The guinea pigs bought me a lunch bag in the shape of a bee (I think they had help...) and the Aged Parents gave me a cheque - I spent half of it on a new pair of flat black shoes on Saturday which I really needed, the previous pair were about worn through. I'm going to look at the Nashville releases and see if there's anything that catches my eye - have you seen anything you've just got to have? Sis gave me a giftcard for Waterstone's (a book chain) so equally, if you have any craft book recommendations... I wasn't in any birthday exchanges this year, and I really, really missed it. I'd hoped my Sew Red for your Heart exchange would arrive in time, but it's not turned up so far - and my piece hasn't made it to its recipient yet either :o( Oh well, something to look forward to!

I'd like to thank Carol who pointed out that pictures on my blog had vanished ... because there's been so much interest in my designs, I'd exceeded my monthly bandwidth limit over on Photobucket - who host my pictures - and nothing could be seen! It's all sorted now, I never realised there were perils in being popular! Hopefully everyone who has asked for a chart has one now, I took a break for a couple of days ... don't forget, if you like the charts and would like to make a donation to the MS Trust, it's really simple to do, just click here - donations can be made via Paypal as well as debit/credit cards.

Right, better get cracking, I have a Uni class later, just need to gather my thoughts and find a bit of critical theory to discuss in class...

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Winter Garden Mystery - Carola Dunn

So who put the body in with the spring bulbs? The merest hint of spring has arrived in Cheshire, and so has young reporter Daisy Dalrymple. The feisty flapper’s visit is a breath of fresh air for gloomy Occles Hall. But while photographing the rather barren grounds, Daisy spots that someone’s been digging among the first green shoots – and much to her horror unearths the corpse of missing parlour maid Grace Moss. So begins an extraordinary adventure, as first the dead woman’s shocking secret is revealed and then Daisy swiftly realizes she needs to catch the killer before she herself is left pushing up the daisies . . .

This spiffing mystery harks back to the Golden Age of crime fiction, with nods to Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and even P G Wodehouse. It is a nice, easy read, without jarring anachronisms and vocabulary - although I'm sure Christie never used "spiffing" quite as much! The plot and motivations are plausible, and the denouement is done in the classic style.

Excellent froth for a lazy day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crippen - John Boyne

If you are going to write a novel about such a well known event you can't rely on dramatic tension - after all, everyone knows the outcome. To make the narrative work, the writer has to make his or her readers involved in the lives of the characters, to believe in them, and to understand them.

Unfortunately, Boyne's characters are stock stereotypes - the upright captain, the maverick seaman, the snobby pleb married to money - and he has not heard of the maxim "show, don't tell". And let's not forget the anachronistic behaviours and vocabulary ... a personal bugbear of mine in historical fiction! Perhaps I wasn't reading the same novel as the other reviewers on Amazon but truly, this was not well done at all. I have eclectic tastes, and will cheerfully read "lightweight" stuff as well as "literature" as long as either are good - and this wasn't.

What could have been an interesting story was rendered dull and unimaginative. Boyne should be locked in a room with Beryl Bainbridge's historical fictions Every Man for Himself and The Birthday Boys and not allowed out until he realises that that is how it should be done when you're telling a story whose ending is already known.

E is for Embroidery - Prairie Schooler

Even though I have UFOs to get cracking with, I couldn't resist starting the next block of my Prairie Schooler ABC, and this was after the first couple of sessions.

I've left out the cat - I don't really like cats, and there are two large ones in this project to come - I'll probably replace it with another spool of thread.

I've also changed the design the lady is stitching to incorporate the year.

I'm not sure about the design to go in the frame, whether to stitch the dark background or not ...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February Biscornu - Linden Bee Designs



Design: February Biscornu - freebie design available here
Designer: Linden Bee Designs (i.e. me!)
Threads: DMC in three shades
Fabric: 14 count aida, white

The pictures are not of the best, because although it isn't raining or snowing here, the day is very grey and foggy! In your mental picture viewer, brighten the design until the aida is white and you'll get a better idea!

I've stuffed this quite lightly - what's your preferred way? I like a little body, but equally, I want to be able to sew through the middle easily to make the dimple...

This is another of my freebies, and I'm hoping to raise money for the MS Trust through donations. This month has been a little slow - only £4.00 so far, although every little helps and I'm amazingly grateful that people like my patterns enough to make donations! However, I'd love to see that amount increase ;o)

February Scissor Fob - Linden Bee Designs


Design: February Scissor Fob - freebie design available here
Designer: Linden Bee Designs (i.e. me!)
Threads: DMC in three shades
Fabric: 14 count aida
February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.

The second in my monthly series. To be honest, I associate February more with snow, as it's my birthday this month, and it always snows on or around my birthday - which is Saturday, for people in the UK who want to be prepared! I was even born in a bad snow storm. Ma had gone into the hospital on the morning of the 19th and the midwives thought it was a false alarm, but because the weather had closed in even more after rounds had been done and ma was technically discharged, they kept her in overnight - which was a good job, as I arrived in time for breakfast! Of course, dads were not encouraged to stay and he'd been sent home earlier, which meant he'd to walk back in. Sixteen inches fell on the 19-20 February, and my parents lived ten miles from the hospital. Dad still says it was worth it! Love you too, dad! (Hmm, never asked my ma if she thought it was worth it... LOL!)

Anyway, to get back to my stitching - this design came out of my Valentine's design, and I wanted something less pink and which reflected the month as a whole. It stitched up pretty quickly, and looked a lot less grey than the colour scheme on the charting software seemed to make it - the blue is actually blue!

Happy Dance! - D is for Drum!

I still hear the snares in the square
Colours ablaze in the evening
The air was still
Down the stormy hill
It's good to be young and daring

Beat the drum
Beat the drum
Like a heartbeat
Lonely and strong
Beat the drum

Design: D is for Drum
Designer: Prairie Schooler
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28 count evenweave, cream
Stitches: Half cross stitch, backstitch

I've finally finished this block! I think I was dithering over it because of the big changes I made. It seems ridiculous, but I wasn't hugely confident that my modifications would work, but now it is complete, I'm pretty pleased.

This block as charted was very patriotically American. I'm not American, and neither is The Hermit. He's not wildly patriotic in a Canadian or British way either (dual national...), and so any modifications I felt had to reflect my own heritage. My father is English, my mother is Scottish, and as it was my mother who taught me needlecrafts, it was fairly obvious what I'd choose (sorry dad!).

The flag was relatively simple (one of the reasons I chose the Scottish flag, not the British Union Jack!). The Bald Eagle became a Golden Eagle, just by subbing one of the existing colours in. There are quite a number of Golden Eagles in Scotland, although I've not been fortunate enough to see them in the wild. The design in the shield of the drum took more thought - I could repeat the flag motif, but I thought that a little dull. And then I thought about the Lion Rampant, the symbol of Scotland. Could I really design something that looks quite complex and make it so small and yet distinguishable? The answer is yes, with the aid of a computer design programme! It took quite a while, but eventually, I came up with something I was happy with.

This is certainly a very individual block now!

And seeing as I've had the song whose lyrics are written above in my head as I've stitched, I thought I'd add a bit of Runrig too. Runrig are one of my favourite Scottish bands, even though the lead singer in the clip below has now been replaced by a Canadian ;o)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Crossing - Kathy Watson

In August 1875 Captain Matthew Webb became the first man to swim the English Channel. Feted and adored, praised and imitated, for a while he was the most famous man in Britain and his gallant 22-hour endeavour helped to make swimming the popular sport it is today. It was to be both the highlight of his life and the start of his ruin.

This was an interesting and well written biography of the man whose name I first knew from matchboxes. This book explains how - and why - Webb became known as "England's Glory". It is a sympathetic portrait, written by a swimmer, but I think Webb would have been easy to like - modest, unassuming, hardworking. He was not flashy, and he wasn't a speedy swimmer - he preferred breaststroke to the new crawl style strokes - but he was strong, dogged and determined. I can empathise with that! His epic swim was fuelled by beer, brandy and sandwiches - the cutting edge of sports nutrition!

Hero is perhaps an overused word these days, but I think Captain Webb was a true one - whilst serving as second mate on the Cunard Line ship Russia, travelling from New York to Liverpool, he attempted to rescue a man overboard by diving into the sea in the mid-Atlantic. The man was never found, and Webb nearly lost his own life.

Webb drowned trying to swim the Whirlpool Rapids in the Niagara River.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett


The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely ( JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.

This book is unalloyed delight from start to finish. It's a slight read - barely longer than a long short story - but it packs so much fun, philosophy and character observation within its pages a lesser author could have made it into a doorstop sized novel.

Bennett's main argument is about the transformative power of books. An argument that I did not need convincing of in the slightest, having lived my life through the written word since babyhood - thank you parents :o) He makes the argument far more wittily than anyone else on the planet (probably) could and although very erudite, never patronises his readers.

I wonder if HM the Queen is a reader? I'm not sure she would be - I can see her dipping into Agatha Christie and Dick Francis, possibly evena  bit of Anitas Shreve and Brookner, but not Salman Rushdie or Hanif Kureshi.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February Biscornu and Fob - Free Cross Stitch Chart!

February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.


It's a little odd to be posting this when it's a lovely sunny day here, and when so many people are struggling with so much snow in the USA... although of course, the Canadians are struggling with rain at the Winter Olympics...  anyway, this is the second in my monthly series of biscornu - the Valentine one was by way of a bonus! - and I hope you enjoy stitching it as much as I did. You can possibly see the genesis of this design if you already have the Valentine one ;o)

The chart uses only three shades of DMC - 451, 452 and 932. I have stitched my own model, and will be posting pictures of it later today or tomorrow - it depends on when I can find my camera cable!

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 payment via the link in my sidebar or 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

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update and answers to comments

The new semester has started and so my stitching time is going to be curtailed by one evening a week - plus the private study time - that vacation went too quickly! I got a couple of my assignments back and I did okay - not the highest grade band, but comfortably into the second, which is better than I expected. My tutor is really great at putting in constructive comments so I know what to do next time...

I'm still working away on my February Biscornu design - when that is done, hopefully at the weekend, I will release the chart here. I wonder if it will be as popular as my Valentine Biscornu design has been? That has lead to so many requests - and so many more blogs to read :o) Hello and welcome if you're a new reader - especially if  you've come via seeing my design on Freebie Gallery or World's Largest Collection of Smalls ! I've also completed the stitching for the Stitch Red for Your Heart exchange over on Hooked on Exchanges. This just needs to be made up into "something" and mailed before Friday. It holds a bit more meaning for me than perhaps it might have done previously, as my dear dad has just been diagnosed as having mild left ventricular dysfunction. Fortunately, he is very fit for his age and leads a healthy lifestyle, so the prognosis is good, but it's been a bit of a stressful time for the family - probably because my dad is never normally unwell!

Design wise, I've finished a design for a March Biscornu and just need to stitch it - the same with a St. Patrick's Biscornu. The St. Patrick's biscornu may have to wait until next year for a release - unless anyone would like to model stitch for me?

I took out my tub of finished pieces yesterday and gave a number of them a good soak. My flat is poorly insulated and the outside walls get very cold so condensation builds up on them so that a couple of framed pieces have got slightly damp inside and needed a wash :o/. I'm going to re-frame these - or get them re-framed - and with the dehumidifier I got for Christmas, hopefully things will be better. These all count towards my "Year of the UFO" project too, but I've only done one so far! I have just ordered some nice fabrics though, so perhaps that will be a motivator?

I'm going to a friend's house to knit this evening, with some of the other girls from my knitting group. We met last week as well, in our usual pub and hopefully the evening won't end up like that - I had to walk the 3.5 miles home as enough snow fell to stop the city buses. And I live somewhat higher up than the city centre ... so there was a great big hill to go up, and underneath, the footing was awful, very slide-y and slushy. I'm grateful though that I am able to walk so far though - a lot of people with MS would find it much more difficult. Of course, as we'd met in the pub, no one had brought a car ... my friends aren't that hard hearted! Anyway, I asked them for advise on my Ripple socks and the consensus was to frog if I was unhappy - especially as the heel maths wasn't working out. I was knitting them in a Kaffe Fassett yarn - Landscape Canyon - and it looked awful. E. very kindly did the physical frogging so that I didn't get second thoughts, and T. suggested a different design, which I've started and am much happier with! I love my fellow knitters! The Colonnade wrap may yet meet the same fate ... I'm getting quite ruthless these days - I think it's all the Finish and Fling decisions I'm making, it's influencing me in all sorts of ways!

I am (we are!) about halfway through the decision making for Finish or Fling - thank you everyone for your comments and input! I need to take the next lot of photos, so there may be a bit of a hiatus. Several people have asked about The Hermit and his Christmas allergy - and whether I'm being fair to him! The Hermit has always hated Christmas (and birthdays, and Valentines) - he is very avowedly atheist, hates consumerism, isn't big on parties or family get togethers and for many years was a cab driver, so got to see at close quarters the drunken excesses of the "festive" season. This has left him more than a little jaded, and used to be somewhat of an area of conflict between us, as I do celebrate Christmas - albeit in a secular way. I've scaled back Christmas in some ways since we've been together - I don't have a tree, and I don't plan parties or special meals, or bake a cake. I make sure he writes cards to his remaining family, and that he wraps my presents - which come from a list I give him and then I leave him alone. He knows it's important to me to celebrate Christmas because my gran died on Christmas Day 2004, and I don't want it to become a sad day so he is pretty good at tolerating the displays of Christmas stitching I have - as long as they are on display for only a couple of weeks!

Okay, better get cracking as I need to finish some stuff before I go knit! Thank you for your company, and i hope you all have a nice evening too!

Finish or Fling? - Hot Water Bottle Cover

This has moved house with me more times that I really want to count. Observant long term readers of this blog may recognise some of the fabrics have been used in the Advent Calendar Wallhanging, which dates it to about 1992/3.

It was supposed to be a cute hotwater bottle cover of a patchwork quilt. It came from Needlecraft magazine - and I've lost the pattern. And a couple of the pins holding the piles of fabric together have rusted.

  • Very cute
  • You can never have too many hot water bottles

  • Don't have the pattern
  • Some of the fabric is damaged
  • The Hermit's Christmas allergy

So: Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Fling. Or at least, subsume the salvagable materials back into my stash.

Spilling The Beans - Clarissa Dickson Wright

Clarissa was born into wealth and privilege, as a child, shooting and hunting were the norm and pigeons were flown in from Cairo for supper. Her mother was an Australian heiress, her father was a brilliant surgeon to the Royal family. But he was also a tyrannical and violent drunk who used to beat her and force her to eat carrots with slugs still clinging to them. Clarissa was determined and clever, though, and her ambition led her to a career in the law. At the age of 21, she was the youngest ever woman to be called to the Bar.

Disaster struck when her adored mother died suddenly. It was to lead to a mind-numbing decade of wild over-indulgence. Rich from her inheritance, in the end Clarissa partied away her entire fortune. It was a long, hard road to recovery along which Clarissa finally faced her demons and turned to the one thing that had always brought her joy - cooking. Now at last she has found success, sobriety and peace.
With the stark honesty and the brilliant wit we love her for, Clarissa recounts the tale of a life lived to extremes. A vivid and funny story, it is as moving as it is a cracking good read.

I think if I ever met Clarissa Dickson Wright in person, we might not get on - I'm a working class vegetarian atheist who hates hunting with a passion - but this is a very good read, and I really warmed to her. Her life has certainly been eventful and through it all, she's managed to keep many of her friends - so possibly I'm doing her a disservice. 

The decline into alcoholism is well written - I think to use the jargon, Dickson Wright was a "high functioning" addict and to drink away quite so much money is some sort of an achievement... and appears to be frank and honest. I do wonder which MP she had sex with behind the Speaker's chair in her pre-sobriety days...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Save Karyn - Karyn Bosnak


Drowning in $20,000 of credit card debt, shopaholic Karyn Bosnak asked strangers for money online -- and it worked!
What would you do if you owed $20,000? Would you: A) not tell your parents? B) start your own website that asked for money without apology? or C) stop coloring your hair, getting pedicures, and buying Gucci? If you were Karyn Bosnak, you'd do all three.Karyn received e-mails from people all over the world, either confessing their own debt-ridden lives, or criticizing hers. But after four months of Internet panhandling and selling her prized possessions on eBay, her debt was gone!
In Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back, Karyn details the bumpy road her financial -- and personal -- life has traveled to get her where she is today: happy, grateful, and completely debt-free. In this charming cautionary tale, Karyn chronicles her glamorous rise, her embarrassing fall, and how the kindness of strangers in cyberia really can make a difference.

When I first heard about this on the news, I was sceptical, and a little doubtful as to why people would want to help someone who freely admitted she'd spent the money on ... well, nothing.
And then I read this, and I saw why. Karyn is honest, funny, sweet - and I could identify so much with how and why she spent the money. I've been a bit ... silly... with plastic in the past, and I defy anyone to read this and to be judgemental.

I got out of debt too, eventually, but I'll never have a great credit rating. I'm envious that Karyn managed to do it with so much more grace and humour but I was rooting for her all the way.

Finish or Fling? - Emerald Mermaid


One day, The Hermit was with me when I was in my LNS (now closed) and was flicking through the charts as I chatted to Maureen, and had some fabbie cut. He admired several of the Mirabilia mermaid charts and as he doesn't often ask for me to make him stuff, I rashly said I would stitch him a mermaid ... and he picked this one ...

This is probably one of the biggest guilt magnets in my UFO piles because it is for my best-beloved. He does have several pieces I've done for him, but this was one *he* chose...


One day, it may look like this - you can see how much I have to do...

  • It's for The Hermit
  • It's on linen
  • It's not blue

  • There's a lot of work to do
  • Beading and metallic threads
  • Size for handling

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Finish. Although possibly not this year!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Finish or Fling? - Daisy Chain


This Anchor kit came to me in a bag of bits acquired from a charity shop. I possibly know why the original owner discarded it - there's been a few counting errors. Well, we all know that's a reason for more than a few of my own UFOs...
  • Not of a lot of stitching to do

  • Not really my style
  • Wouldn't fit my niece's room
  • On aida
  • Mostly backstitch to do
  • Will have to fudge a little

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict  - I don't really know on this one. Would anyone like to adopt an elephant and finish it?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Finish or Fling? - February Block Flip It


This is a more recent WIP - I remember working on it during some journeys to work in Chesterfield in 2008, and losing the bag of threads on the bus :o( - which is why it got set aside.
The design is  February Block Flip It, by one of my favourite designers, Lizzie*Kate.

  • Like the design, and have the set of charts
  • Not a lot of stitching to get a finish

  • Can't think of any, hopefully the design isn't jinxed though!

So - Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Finish

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Finish or Fling? Country Cottage


This cute little design comes from Jolly Red, and I bought it from eBay a number of years ago - at least seven years ago, because I remember stitching it on the tram to work from my old house. I put it aside because I made an error on it.
  • Very cute design
  • Would look great in my niece's room
  • Simple to work - no backstitch

  • Need to work out where I went wrong
  • Stitched on aida

So, Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Finish

Friday, February 05, 2010

Finish or Fling? Christmas Felt Wallhanging


Finish or Fling has had a bit of a break, while I've been thinking of new stuff to work on - even if that's not quite what designating 2010 "The Year of the UFO" was all about...
This was something else I bought in Havant, I think. So it dates back to 1998, if not earlier. It's quite a big piece, it's designed to have three strings of Christmas cards hanging from it.
  • Quite a lot has been done
  • It's very cute

  • Beading is fiddly
  • It's going to annoy The Hermit and aggravate his allergy to Christmas!

So ... Finish or Fling?

Verdict: Finish.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Valentine Biscornu - Linden Bee Designs

Design: Valentine Biscornu - freebie design available here
Designer: Linden Bee Designs (i.e. me!)
Threads: DMC in three shades of pink - I've used the "antique" colourway on the chart
Fabric: 16 count aida, grey but overdyed with tea by me.

My design style seems to have settled into incorporating words with little sampler motifs, and the word on this Valentine biscornu is "amour" ... seems a bit more glamorous ;o)

Again, I used some tea dyed aida to give it an antique feel and chose the colours to go with it. I thought about beading the edge, but it seemed a bit too much, as the borders are quite busy.


The middle is drawn in with just a single bead, which was quite fiddly!

Valentine Fob - Linden Bee Designs

Design: Valentine Scissor Fob - freebie design available here
Designer: Linden Bee Designs (i.e. me!)
Threads: DMC in three shades of pink - I've used the "antique" colourway on the chart
Fabric: 16 count aida, grey but overdyed with tea by me.

This little fob is stitched from my own design, and I dyed the fabric too. So perhaps I can be excused my little glow of satisfaction :o)

The fabric was some I got in a grab bag, and it was rather a drab grey/blue colour. So I stewed it in some very strong tea and it came out looking suitably aged. Hence my decision to work the "antique" colourway on this.

I was surprised by how much more delicate the 16 count looks to my previous fobs on 14 count.


You can't see it very clearly, but there's a heart shaped charm attached at the top, which says "Made With Love" on it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

February Goals

Well, if there was a groundhog in my garden yesterday (not likely, they don't live in the UK!) it would have seen it's shadow in the morning. And then at teatime, it started snowing... there's not much, but looks like winter isn't over ...

So, what better to contemplate getting through a wintry month than my stitching and knitting goals? Here's what I want to achieve in February:

Sew charms onto:
  • Bee Joyful
  • Bee Merry

  • Bless The Baby
  • D is for Drum
  • February Scissor Fob
  • Sew Red for Your Heart Exchange
  • Ripple Wave Socks

Start and Finish:
  • February Biscornu
  • 28 Innocent Smoothie Hats
  • One quilt block

Frog or Finish:
  • Colonnade Wrap

Frame or have Framed:
  • Bathroom Plaque
  • Alphabet Sampler
  • Bee My Honey Bee
  • One to celebrate my birthday!
  •  £20 for the MS Trust

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

January Review

I didn't specifically set any goals for January - apart from not making any new starts until I had completed some of my outstanding UFOs.

That resolution got broken. Big style.

I blame my new addiction to designing, and the need to stitch up models. I'm going to have to work on a better balance for this...

Anyway, I managed seven finishes for the month:

  • Valentine Biscornu - Linden Bee Designs  
  • Valentine Scissor Fob - Linden Bee Designs
  • January Snow Biscornu - Linden Bee Designs 
  • January Snow Scissor Fob - Linden Bee Designs
  • A is for Anchor - Prairie Schooler 
  • New Year Biscornu - Linden Bee Designs
  • New Year Scissor Fob - Linden Bee Designs 
Charts for all my designs are available - follow the links in the sidebar.

Knitting has slowed because of all the stitching, but I did manage some finishes:

  • Innocent Smoothie Hats = 37
  • Knitted Netbook Cover
  • Tardis Washcloth 
However, only one item from my box of finished pieces got made up:
  • Alphabet Sampler - Needlecraft - Long Pillow  
There's great news on the fundraising front though - donations to the MS Trust have reached £43! A big THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed, it really is appreciated. Considering I set a target of £100 for the year, to have got to 43% of the target in the first month is fab!

So, now to plan my goals for this month ...

Monday, February 01, 2010

Katie's January Biscornu

Katie - find her blog here - has just sent me these pictures of her finished January Biscornu. Hasn't she done a great job?! I love how she's taken some of the design elements and created her own reverse to make it really personal. Katie chose her own colours - DMC 799, 3078, and 3756 - and they work really well together with the navy fabric.

And thank you Katie for your kind words about my blog! I've emailed you to get your address, so look out for a prize coming your way soon ;o)

If you'd like your own copy of the chart, follow the link above and leave a comment. If you already have the chart, you too could receive a prize if you send me a picture of your finished article!