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Friday, 31 January 2014

Theme-a-licous January Update and Just Nan SAL

Theme-a-licious is hosted by Heather of It's Geek to Me

Each month Heather thinks up a theme for us to stitch to, or in my case, a theme to somehow shoe-horn my existing stitching into, no matter how tenuous the link!  

Jardin January

The holidays were a little stressful...let's relax in a nice garden. Work on any piece with flowers or gardens.

By lucky chance all three of my pieces for the Just Nan SAL fitted the bill perfectly (which was just as well, because my evening pieces didn't at all!)

Just Nan SAL
Just Nan SAL is hosted by Zeb of Keep Calm and Cross Stitch

This month I stitched and finished three different small projects.  The first was Lady Scarlet's Christmas:

Not actually IN a garden but plenty of greenery and a little ladybird too.

The second piece was Batty Jacks, again pumpkins are found in gardens (as are bats and spiders):


And thirdly, M is for Mouse.  Now maybe this is a House Mouse rather than a Field Mouse but there are plenty of little flowers on this design:


This is the backing fabric I used, it has little cakes and teacups on it.

Perfect to make into a little bag to go (where else) to the Mouse House to celebrate Mouse's Birthday.

I wanted some fruit tea for fabric dyeing but they only had camomile or drinking chocolate.  I figured that would keep Mouse warm this winter.  Check out those lovely flavours - Turkish Delight and Jazzy Ginger!

Finally, another mention for my Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop.  Click on the heart photo to the right and scroll down to the bottom of the post for details of the Hop!




Thursday, 30 January 2014

TUSAL of Ice and Snow

It's TUSAL time again!  For those of you new to blogging, the TUSAL is a project run by Daffycat, click on the button on the right hand bar for more details.

Today is the second New Moon of the year so we post our ORTS pictures.  This year is rather strange because there are 2 New Moons in January and in March but none in February!

This year I am intending to stitch The Little Stitcher's Twelve Days of Christmas as a monthly project.  Laura has designed twelve charts with a different theme for each one to represent the days of Christmas.  She has invented the different themes herself using her lovely imagination!  The Day of Ice and Snow is actually chart four but that would have meant stitching it in April and I do not wish to have Ice and Snow in April, so I have moved it to January.

Here is the design as part of my TUSAL photo:



And here is a close-up:


The charts are available as PDFs or as a little booklet in a choice of languages.  I chose the paper booklet and I am so pleased I did because it's beautiful, very nice quality too.

To celebrate the TUSAL of Ice and Snow I thought I would attach some photos of real Ice and Snow:

This was taken in April 2008 (yes April!) and shows The Large Boy when he was a Small Boy and his Snowcat.

This is February 2012 and The Small Boy discovering Deep Snow for the first time.

And an eerie night-time shot from 2010.

In her little description of The Day of Ice and Snow Laura suggests we "cut out paper festoons in the shape of snowflakes".  I don't think these are quite what she had in mind though:


I hope you've enjoyed the TUSAL of Ice and Snow!

Finally, another mention for my Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop.  Click on the heart photo to the right and scroll down to the bottom of the post for details of the Hop!








Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Smalls SAL January Update

SmallsSAL2014
(Previously trading as The Ornament SAL in 2013)

The Smalls SAL is hosted by Stitching Lotus


I chose four different monthly themes to follow this year:

Dragon Dreams - 12 different Dragon designs
Hallowe'en Ornie SAL - 12 different themes
Little Stitcher Fairy Tale 12 Days of Christmas - one per month
Primitive Hare Spooky Countdown - one per week starting 31st January

Now based on the first month's stitching I am wondering whether to remove the dragons from the list and just stitch them as-and-when.

I did stitch a lovely ornie for the Hallowe'en Blog, Just Nan's Batty Jacks from JCS mag 2008:


Stitched on 28 count lilac Belfast linen using DMC.  I added the spider charm and made into a little bag as part of the Hallowe'en Blog Hop prize.  Backing fabric shown below:


Lany Bleu was the lucky winner of this one and she was most pleased with her little bag, she is going to use it as an ORTs bag this year.  I used a slightly different technique to make this little bag.  In the past I have stitched the design on a piece slightly bigger than the design and made a little hem at the open end.  However this leaves the back of the stitching exposed on the inside of the bag where it could catch on things.  Also my hemming isn't very neat.

So this is how I stitched this time:

A piece of linen much longer than needed.

Then I carefully removed one horizontal thread, this made a nice sharp edge when I folded the fabric in half.

I cut a piece of backing fabric the same size as the linen and folded that in half too.  Making sure I had the "right" sides facing each other I stitched through two thicknesses of fabric and two thicknesses of the linen to make a lined bag.  I stitched round three sides, leaving the top open, then I turned it right-side-out and added the cord handle.  Voila!!  Pop a chocolate spider inside and all done.

I have stitched The Little Stitcher design but I'm saving that for tomorrow's TUSAL post and the final small will be started on the 31st.

Finally, don't forget my Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop.  Click on the heart on the top right of the blog and scroll down to the bottom of that post for details.  I have received some lovely photos already, there will be some great Valentines arriving for some lucky people next month. 




Sunday, 26 January 2014

Rabbitty Round Robins Roving Round!

Nice alliteration!  This is the third time I have participated in a Band Sampler Round Robin and after a year off I'm looking forward to it.

I have chosen a traditional feel to my sampler with added rabbitieness!  When we first discussed this RR I knew I wanted a Band and Spot sampler using Brenda Keyes' motifs but then Karen went and mentioned bunnies!  So after numerous evil bunny pictures winging back and forth I thought it would be fun to ask each stitcher to include a little bunny in her piece.

Here is mine:


The idea is that each stitcher will stitch her bands above my bands moving up the chart and will also stitch one or more motifs in the bottom part of the sampler along with her bunny.

Once again I am mailing to Kathy, the RR Mods like to match the overseas stitchers with each other so I often mail to or receive from Kathy (or Sophia in Australia but she's not doing this one).

I have two more finishes but they have been mailed to other people so I won't show and tell until the recipients have them in their hot little hands.

Finally, don't forget to sign up for the Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop this February 14th.   All you have to do is email me a picture of something you have stitched which is suitable for a stitching friend on Valentine's Day.  It could be a heart, or a pair of cute creatures, or the word "love" or anything which warms your heart. Really anything you think a fellow stitcher would like to receive in her email Inbox.   It can be something you've stitched in the past or something you've made especially for this year.  It could also be quilted or sewn this year as I know some of my followers do other crafts too.

Send me the email by 10th February.

When I have all the emails I will randomise them and send one to each participant on 13th February.  Then on 14th February you must post the picture you receive onto your blog under the heading
 Secret Stitching Sweetheart. 
There will be a list on my blog of everyone joining in, so check out all the blogs and find out who got your picture and identify yourself  in their comments as their
Secret Stitching Sweetheart. 

Does that make sense to everyone?  I hope so!

If you'd like to be involved then leave a comment on this post, I'll be putting little reminders up from time to time and will email on 9th February to make sure you send the pic in time.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Stitch from Stash January Update

Stitch From Stash 2014
Stitch from Stash is hosted by Mel from Epic Stitching

Essentially the idea behind Stitch from Stash is that we are limited to spending US$25 (or £15) per month.  There are various exemptions (Birthday money, existing mag subs, clubs etc) but the idea is not to try and pervert the rules and stitch some of that stash!  I will be posting on or around the 20th of each month because that is when I get paid!

Money from Christmas 2013                  : £ 40.00

The Little Stitcher 12 Days of Christmas : £ 15.95
Mirabilia Fairy Tales                               : £  4.99
Just Nan Red Hat                                   : £  4.00
One Skein DMC                                    : £  0.90

Balance                                                  : £ 14.16
January budget                                       : £ 15.00
Available to carry over into February      : £ 29.16

Allowed purchases:
World of Cross Stitching mag sub for three issues : £ 8.99


So I haven't even touched my January £15 because it's all been Christmas money so far!  And yes, you did read that correctly, I spend 90p on one skein of DMC.  That is US$1.49 and is how much my LNS charges.  If I need more than a couple of skeins I send away from t'internet but for just one skein I bite the bullet and support the local store.  It's not even a proper LNS either, I have the choice of a small haberdashery dept in a department store, a knitting shop or a general craft shop.

New Starts from Stash: Just Nan Lady Scarlet's Christmas, Scarlet Letter Elizabeth Burrows
WIPs or UFOs worked on: A Mon Ami Pierre Noel Blanc

Just Nan -Lady Scarlet's Christmas

Scarlet Letter - Elizabeth Burrows

A Mon Ami Pierre - Noel Blanc

I also acquired some more stash, but it was a gift!  A while back Susan from Yellow Flower Meadow showed some lovely Nutmeg Cottage finishes on her blog.  She offered to send me the gently used charts which was very kind of her.  The parcel arrived today and contained not only three little cottage charts but also the Prairie Schooler Santa I had admired in the same post (I loved the Sun and Moon motifs on that one), a copious amount of white thread (B5200 and Blanc) and some orphaned Mill Hill beads!  She had remembered that I commented once I was happy to run a home for abandoned Mill Hills now alot of people are switching to Delicas.


Speaking of gifts, I was also sent this lovely Stitcher's Tray from the Mouse House:

Here it is full of my stitching necessities

And here is a close-up of the cute little dragon needle-minder!

Finally, the sign-ups are open for February's Secret Sweetheart Blog Hop.  Basically you send me a photo of a suitable stitched picture which I will then forward to a mystery participant.  You will get a photo yourself, display on your blog and wait for your Secret Sweetheart to reveal her identity!  Click on the Heart photo to the right for more details.












Wednesday, 15 January 2014

WIPocalypse January Introduction

WIPocalypse

WIPocalypse is hosted by Measi of Measi's Musings.

The main focus of my WIPocalypse last year was my "13 in '13" a list of 13 projects I wanted to complete in 2013.  This is how I fared:


  1. Papillon - Around the World in 80 Stitches - not worked on in 2013, now officially a UFO
  2. Joan Elliott - Green Goddess - last stitched in May 2013

  3. Marie Suarez - My Lovely Sewing Tools - not worked on in 2013, now officially a UFO
  4. Prairie Moon - Thine is the Trick and the Treat - last stitched in September 2013
  5. Nora Corbett Cottages - choose one out of three - not started
  6. Lizzie*Kate Seasons - (from Sarah) - a finish!
Lizzie*Kare Spring photo DSC03625LizzieKateSpring_zpsffec8c64.jpg

  7. With my Needle - April Word Play (from Jenny ) - not started
  8. Andree Langhorn - Fairy (fabric from Mouse) - not started
  9. Stitchers' Hideaway - Hear the Sea Call (from Riona) - another finish!
Stitcher's Hideaway Hear the Sea Call photo DSC03708HeartheSeaCall_zpse60ef6b2.jpg

10. Snapdragon (from Lesley) - not started
11. Beehive Needleworks - Sunflower and Acorns (from Linda) - not started
12. Double Double (from Gracie) - not started
13. A Mon Ami Pierre - Noel Blanc (from Kathy) - still being worked on

All in all, not very successful!  Three WIPs, two finishes, two UFOs and six not started.  Not as good as 2012 when I completed six pieces and only had one non-starter.  Oh well, it is a New Year and a Fresh Start.

This is the current list of "14 in'14":

  1. Joan Elliott - Green Goddess
  2. Prairie Moon - Thine is the Trick and the Treat
  3. Maria’s Wedding
  4. Kat’s Baby
  5. Teresa Wenztler - You were Hatched 
  6. Primitive Hare - Spooky Countdown
  7. The Little Stitcher - 12 Days of Christmas 
  8. Joan Elliott Diary February
  9. Just Nan Winter Typography 
10. Firewing Dragon
11. Stitcheranon chart
12. A Mon Ami Pierre - Noel Blanc
13. Shepherd’s Bush
14. Sam's Sampler

Progress at 16th January 2014


Measi has also set us some discussion themes for each post.  For January she suggests we introduce ourselves and our goals.  You can read my All About Me to the right of this post and you can see my goals above.  I thought I would include the answers to the Twenty Questions doing the rounds at the end of last year.  At least one person expressed an interest in reading mine so here they are:

I found these questions on Silverlotus's blog who first read them on Bonnie's blog.

1)      Which fabric do you most prefer?  Evenweave, I like linen for samplers too.

2)      What is your favourite fabric count? 32 count is my choice for over 2 stitching and 28 count for over 1.

3)      What colour fabric do you most enjoy stitching on?  I don’t have a favourite colour, I’m a little wary of the more vibrant hand-dyeds in case they overpower the design. 

4)      What is your favourite fibre? Cotton.

5)      How many of the 450 DMC Colours do you own? All of them except the newest 16 and some of the 4000 variegateds.

6)      Of your last five finished projects—how many used DMC/Anchor as the main floss?  Five

7)      Of the last five projects, if you didn’t use DMC/Anchor—what did you use? I’m using AVAS silks for one of my Scarlet Letter samplers and Olde Willow Linen threads for the other.

8)      What needles do you prefer? 28 petites, because I can use the thread right down to the last 2cm and use the same needle for beading too.

9)      What is the UGLIEST design you’ve encountered?  Some of the designs in the UK magazines are just plain badly drawn.  A lot of Mr X-Stitch’s Saturday posts are intentionally ugly or subversive.

10)   What is the most BEAUTIFUL design you’ve encountered?  Chatelaines are definitely the ones that take the breath away the most.  I really must stitch one!

11)   Who is your favourite designer?  In alphabetical order Joan, Nan, Nora, Teresa are the “supermodels” of the stitching world – familiar from just one name!

12)   Least favourite designer?  Not naming names because it’s hurtful but some of the people who submit designs for the UK mags on a regular basis make me think “Why, when there are so many talented designers around?” 

13)   Will you/would you support a designer whose personal beliefs offended/angered you?  No.  I have been in this situation where a designer showed her ugly side and I can’t face finishing her admittedly beautiful design.  I am just glad it was a freebie so she didn’t get any money out of me!!

14)   Do you have a lamp especially made for needleworkers/crafters? No.  I just switch on every light in the living room until hubby comes in and turns six of them off!

15)   What brand of stitching lamp do you have/prefer?  N/A

16)   What kind of environment best suits you when you are stitching?   A warm one!  I can and have stitched most places but it’s hard to stitch when your hands are turning blue.

17)   Have you stitched any design more than once?  Yes, I have a couple of Wedding Samplers which have been stitched twice.  I also stitched the JBW cat 13 times over the last year, in different colour schemes for each month.

18)   Favourite design you have stitched and finished?  Always the last one I stitched, until the next one!  I did particularly enjoy The Dark Alphabet because of all the stories and information behind each design.

19)   Least favourite design you’ve stitched and finished?  The blummin Barn Owl!  A commission stitch charted by a friend using a computer.  By the end I was combining colours all over the place so one colour was used for about six different symbols there was so much confetti.  I got paid £50 in advance or it would never have been finished!

DSC02062ABCSampler.jpg ABC Sampler


20)   Last, but not least, what’s your longest running WIP?  That I’m actually still working on?  Probably Joan Elliott’s Green Goddess.  The others are more UFOs than WIPs unfortunately.


Finally (if anyone is still here!)  I have started the sign-ups for the next blog hop, The Secret Stitching Sweetheart.  Click on the heart to the right for the details.

oooo, just spotted this is my 300th post!!





Friday, 10 January 2014

First Happy Dance of the Year!

My first start of the year is my first finish too!  Just Nan's Lady Scarlet's Christmas:


Stitched on 28 count platinum linen using the recommended threads except for the blue stockings and the reds in the lettering, the berries and the ladybirds.  I also stitched the mice and the ladybirds over 1.  And I made the Gingerbread Men smile.

I also have the triple series of Lady Scarlet's Journey to stitch so I'm not sure how to finish this one yet.  I have this nice red tuck in my stash which I won in Kath's Giveaway so I popped it in there for the time being:


I looked up how to make these and it's not too difficult, you just need to be able sew a neat line!  I might have a go at making one with some Christmas fabric as this one is just a tiny bit too small.

So having finished one, I have to start one!!  As most of you know I have been assisting Nicola with her Scarlet Letter Year Challenge.  The Challenge officially ends on 20th February 2014 but we will be continuing with the blogs and the stitching because it's such a great group of stitchers.  Anyway, there will be a Grand Prize Draw on the 20th for everyone who has completed a Scarlet Letter Sampler during the year.  So how embarassing would it be if all I have to show is one large outlined band and a bit of blue? 


So when I won Elizabeth Burrows in the Advent Giveaways I knew I must try my best to stitch her!  The Scarlet Letter website says this about her "This small early eighteenth century English alphabet sampler is actually more challenging than it appears at first glance."

Here is my progress after two days of stitching:


It's an interesting chart.  It looks lopsided on paper but that's because some of the rows are stitched over two and some over 3, like this row.  Have you ever stitched over 3?  It's like waltzing - 1,2,3 - 1,2,3 stitch, 1,2,3 - 1,2,3 stitch.  I'm using some of the 35 count linen Nicola sent me so the over 3 works out to about 11 or 12 per inch.  I'm also using some Olde Willow Linen Threads I won in giveaway by Riona.  The red and blue are a very good match, the green is darker and there is a yellow instead of the charted pink but it will give the same effect of a much paler colour.  Perfect!  Stitching with linen threads is very different to silks or even cotton but it does make me feel more in touch with Elizabeth, I'm sure she didn't have DMC or Thread Heaven in 1725!

Here's the finished picture from the SL website:

Elizabeth Burrows

The 1725 on the frame refers to the date Elizabeth stitched her sampler, but this is the really exciting bit - in the bottom row it says 179, this is because Elizabeth also includes her year of birth 1709 but rather than use all four digits she uses 179 as that was how the year was pronounced then (Seventeen Nine, rather than Seventeen Oh Nine).  Now anyone who has my email address may recognise those numbers, they are my date of birth which I incorporated into my email addy!!  So it seems most serendipitous that this sampler chose to come to me to stitch her!  We are made for each other!

Finally it's just over a month to Valentine's Day so it must be time to launch the 
.
Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop
 
It's really very simple, all you have to do is email me a picture of something you have stitched which is suitable for a stitching friend on Valentine's Day.  It could be a heart, or a pair of cute creatures, or the word "love" or anything which warms your heart. Really anything you think a fellow stitcher would like to receive in her email Inbox.   It can be something you've stitched in the past or something you've made especially for this year.  It could also be quilted or sewn this year as I know some of my followers do other crafts too.

Send me the email by 10th February.

When I have all the emails I will randomise them and send one to each participant on 13th February.  Then on 14th February you must post the picture you receive onto your blog under the heading
 Secret Stitching Sweetheart. 
There will be a list on my blog of everyone joining in, so check out all the blogs and find out who got your picture and identify yourself  in their comments as their
Secret Stitching Sweetheart. 

Does that make sense to everyone?  I hope so!

If you'd like to be involved then leave a comment on this post, I'll be putting little reminders up from time to time and will email on 9th February to make sure you send the pic in time.



Sunday, 5 January 2014

Progress on my Two New Starts

I've made two new starts recently and due to the End of Year Round Ups I haven't really had a chance to show them off!

Here is the larger one which I started on 23rd December and have stitched on every day since then:


The design is called Noel Blanc by A Mon Ami Pierre.   I won it in a giveaway by Kathy Ellen of A Stitcher's Heirlooms quite some time ago!  The fabric is a 32 count Belfast Linen called Millenium Blue and is this colour in real life, unlike the rather grey in the previous photo.  The majority of the sampler is stitched in DMC White except for the wreath, some mistletoe and a holly spray.

I loved stitching the letters, but the little flowers in the border below were quite tedious!  There is still one more to go.  Then there's another snowflake and a sleigh and I'll be just over a quarter done.  Those unfinished antlers mark the centre spot.

The next piece is a day time small stitch by Just Nan, the companion to Lady Scarlet's Journey; Lady Scarlet's Christmas.  This was also a gift from a fellow blogger; Shirlee the Easily Influenced Stitcher.  Clever Shirlee managed to pick a JN that I didn't have!  I was also lucky enough to have a ladybird charm in my stash so I don't need to buy one.

Here is my progress after 4 days of stitching:


I'm stitching this on 28 count Platinum Linen.  I have made some minor changes; the blue stockings were charted in 930 which is very dark so I switched to 931.  Which means there isn't so much contrast between the toes and heels.  I'm using 915, 916 and 917 for the red ladybirds, berries and lettering rather than 902 because that seemed very dark as well.

I have updated my sidebar to show all the links for the current SALs and Challenges I am doing this year.  As well as the TUSAL, the WIPocalypse, The Smalls SAL, Theme-a-licious, IHSW and the Scarlet Letter Year from the past I am doing some new Challenges.

First is Stitch from Stash by Epic Stitching.  Here we have a limit of US$25 per month to spend on new stash.  I can convert this is £15 or use the handy local currency rule of £25 since she recognises threads are so expensive here.  I'm going to try for the lower amount.  I can exempt my magazine subs, my threads of month club and any gifted money.  I can also do stash exchanges as long as no money is involved.  Postage is exempt too.  I can also carry over unspent money from one month to the next ones or even borrow from future months.

Then there is the Hallowe'en Ornie SAL.  This was run by Lainey last year but she was unable to continue this year so I offered to step in.  I have chosen some themes for the various months starting with a free choice for January so you can catch up on anything you didn't stitch/finish last year.  If you enjoy Spooky Stitching please do come and join us.  There is no obligation to stitch every month, I didn't manage it last year!

Finally there are some designer SALs, Just Nan run by Zeb and my own Primitive Hare Spooky Countdown (starts 31st January) and The Little Stitcher 12 Days of Christmas (starts January anytime).  I ordered the paper booklet from Laura rather than the PDF because I like proper charts and our printer is out of ink as usual.  It arrived in a mere 2 working days from Italy and is so gorgeous!  Well worth buying.  I will do a proper Show and Tell when I start stitching.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

First January TUSAL on the First of January!

It's TUSAL time again!  For those of you new to blogging, the TUSAL is a project run by Daffycat, click on the button on the right hand bar for more details.

Today is the first New Moon of the year so the first time we post our ORTS picture.  This year is rather strange because there are 2 New Moons in January and in March but none in February!  Technically I should have emptied my jar and shown a photo of an empty jar.  But I didn't, so here is my full jar along with December's picture and my current stitching atop a selection box of chocolates:


Do other countries have selection boxes?  They are simply a cardboard box with a selection of different chocolate bars and sweets inside, this one is from Cadbury's.  There is a usually a game or activity on the back of the box.  Most children get one at Christmas time.

The new start is Just Nan's Lady Scarlet's Christmas which was a gift from Shirlee last year.

I thought I'd continue the "Round-Up" theme of the last two posts with a TUSAL Round Up or a TURU?

  
January and February
  
March and April
  
May and June
  
July and August
  
September and October
  
November and December

Finally, those of you who have been following Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year Challenge might like to know we have a new Gallery Blog which has photos of all the samplers completed for the Challenge so far and several which were completed prior to the Challenge starting.  The eventual aim is to have one of each of the Scarlet Letter Samplers to view!  There are nearly 400 and we have 148 so far, so there's a lot of stitching to be done.