Lots of stitching finishes

Ever since I’ve been eating healthier, and sleeping better, I’ve managed to find my stitching mojo on a regular basis.  As such, it’s seen a bunch of finishes over the last two months – most of them new starts, with one UFO from the start of the year.

First up I was trying really hard to do a catch-up for a Halloween Ornie SAL I signed up for this year.  Unfortunately I found HAEDs at the start of the year and my sole stitching focus went into those for a while, then working life got turned on its head for a bit and crazy working hours became the norm once again.  I decided in October I really did want to catch up on the SAL, but I didn’t want to stitch a heap of ornies.  At the start of the year I’d planned on working on two larger projects, that each had a block containing something that would fit within the SAL monthly themes.  Because of me starting so late in the piece, I ended up just stitching one larger piece with a couple of extra ornies thrown in for good measure.  This is what I chose for the monthly SAL, which I stitched in strict order of the themes for the year (with the exception of the two ornies, which I stitched first):

  • January – Winged creatures (block 5, the owl and bat)
  • February – Mummies and Monsters (block 6, the Frankenstein head at the end)
  • March – Pumpkins (block 1)
  • April – Ghosts (block 2, the teeny weeny ghost hiding behind the tree)
  • May – Spiders (separate ornie, freebie by Lizzie*Kate)
  • June – Free choice (the geometric border)
  • July – Witches’ accessories (block 3, the witch’s cauldron)
  • August – Spooky words (the words in the border)
  • September – Bad fairies (still have no idea what on earth to do for that one)
  • October – Black cats (block 4)
  • November – Skeletons and Skulls (another separate ornie, Halloween Ornament 4 by The Floss Box)

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“Halloween Markings” by Heart in Hand
stitched on 32ct Steel Grey Belfast linen
with a couple of recommended threads, but mostly replacements from my stash
Stitched as an alternative to ornaments for a Halloween Ornie SAL

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“Eek” freebie by Lizzie*Kate
Stitched on 32ct ‘mystery’ grey Belfast linen
with recommended threads

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“Halloween Ornament 4” by The Floss Box
Stitched on 32ct ‘mystery’ linen
with recommended DMC threads

After my Halloween stitching binge, I decided to drag out a UFO from the start of the year.  This was one of my Crazy January Challenge pieces (15 starts in 15 days, which I’ve decided really isn’t for me anymore – I want to spend my stitching time working through all those WIPs/UFOs cluttering up my stitching space instead of starting a bunch of new ones!).  Anyway, after a few weeks chipping away at her, I had a few days of work this week and managed some major progress, and finishing her a couple of days ago.  This was significantly helped by throwing a few seasons of Buffy into the DVD player, it was great mindless, and amusing, fodder for the brain while completing a stitching marathon🙂

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“The Christmas Elf Fairy” by Mirabilia
stitched on 32ct natural linen
with kit threads (Crescent Colours) and beads

The last one, hot off the Qsnaps on Friday night was one I’d originally stitched as a charity quilt square a few years ago.  I’ve been wanting to restitch this for myself ever since, and still had the DMC sitting with the chart ready for the day when I found time.  I decided it was finally time to pull my finger out and get it stitched up so I grabbed some fabric and threw it on the Qsnaps – I love this one, and it’ll beautifully with my ocean/beach theme in the lounge!

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“Chambered Nautilus” by Green Apple Co (original watercolour by Janet Powers)
Stitched on 32ct off-white Belfast linen
with recommended DMC threads

And that’s all for now I guess … I’m not 100% sure what I’ll choose to stitch on next.  I’ve been trying to finish off a lot of the WIPs sitting in crates so that I have a few Qsnaps free to use for new projects, so no doubt the next thing I choose to stitch will be something already started … Mind you, I do still have four ornaments left to stitch to complete the 2016 JCS Christmas Ornie SAL challenge on Facebook – I guess that’ll probably be the first thing ticked off, then it’ll be time to grab one of my WIPs as my next focus piece.  At the moment I’m tossing up between the following WIPs/UFOs – I just may have to toss a coin, because I really can’t decide right now!😉

Home Sweet Home

One of the biggest pieces of news recently is that my flatmate moved out 2 weeks ago.  It’s been a bit of a personal struggle at home for a wee while, and even though I love her to bits as a friend it was becoming a mental drain living together at home.  She has never done housework in the whole 2 years she’s lived here, and is often flouting the rules of the Strata with parking etc – and managed to really make me fed-up when moving furniture etc around without any discussion and adding a lot of clutter to the place.  If you’ve ever seen an episode of hoarders, that’s what it was starting to feel like at my place.  My flatmate would not just buy things on special, she’d buy BOXES of things on special, and there ended up being big piles of things on the kitchen floor … it used to seriously drain me mentally every time I went into the kitchen for anything.  With her gone, it means I’ve got to basically find nearly $1,000 extra per month for her share of the rent and bills … but for at least 3 months I’ve decided it’s worth it mentally.  And thanks to a recent pay rise I’m hoping it will be doable for a lot longer than that if I possibly can!

This last week I’ve slept more soundly than I’ve done for a very long time (she used to work shifts and always woke me when she came in – either throwing her big bunch of keys onto the table or setting the NutriBullet going after midnight) … and, along with a much healthier diet recently, I feel the most ‘normal’ than I’ve felt for an awfully long time.  Maybe I won’t be able to afford to keep it up, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy every waking minute of this new freedom and having the place to myself.

The first room to get the make-over was the lounge room.  I got the carpets cleaned a couple of days after the flatmate moved out, which has meant being able to put my new furniture in place.  I’ve actually moved a couple of pieces around since these photos were taken, by just swapping the knick-knacks around on both the small side tables, and swapping my stitching recliner chair and rocking chairs around … I just love it (and if you hadn’t already worked it out, yes blue is my dream colour)🙂

Aside from anything else, I’ve managed to turn the spare bedroom into my craft stash room, along with a couple of pieces of exercise equipment … it’s so nice to be able to see things at a glance and to get out fabrics etc quickly without having to clamber over my bedroom furniture to get to it all.  It really has been blissful!  I’ve also been watching TV and stitching in the lounge most nights this last week or so, so it’s feeling more like a full home, rather than living in a bedsit and staying in my bedroom all the time.  Along with all the cheap furniture I picked up recently, it really does feel like home for the first time since I moved to Australia 13 years ago.

One of the best things now, too, is that Mum is talking about coming over to have a short holiday – that’s something she hasn’t done for years … and I have to say I’m really excited about it.  I’ll probably head home at Christmas for a couple of days, then we’ll both head back over to Sydney again, hopefully for a couple of weeks.  Unfortunately Dad has never shown any interest in visiting, otherwise they could have come over together.  It would have done Dad the world of good with the beach a short walk away, but I’ve offered to pay him for a ticket before today and he’s turned it down.  Never mind, it’s his choice.  Hopefully, though, his health will be good enough that Mum can come over and have a good rest and change of scene, and we get some good mother and daughter time at home.

Anyway, while I’ve had the place to myself the last couple of weeks, I’ve also managed to finish a couple of pieces of stitching … so I’ll get those into another post for tomorrow🙂

JCS Christmas Ornie SAL catch-up

Oh my goodness, I started creating this post weeks and weeks ago, and never got around to finishing it.  Since then so many things have happened … but for now I’ll leave this post as it is and I’ll do another update soon with the latest news and stitching.

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While I may not be doing lots of stitching each week I’m still showing slow progress on the ornament SAL – which means the little kitted up bags of fabric are gradually getting removed from the WIP crates and onto the Qsnaps. So far I’ve caught up with the following:

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“Dear Santa” by The Little Stitcher
from the 2015 JCS Christmas Ornament issue
stitched on 32ct Vintage Country Mocha Belfast linen
with a mixture of threads from my stash (mostly recommended ones)


“Pure Love” by The Snowflower Diaries
from the 2015 JCS Christmas Ornament issue
stitched on 36ct hand-dyed linen by Countrystitch ~ colour Pipi
with a mix of recommended threads and others from my stash


“Joyful Santa” by Homespun Elegance
from the 2015 JCS Christmas Ornament issue
stitched on 32ct Shell linen by Permin with a mixture of threads from my stash


“Christmas Test Drive” by Mosey ‘N Me
from the 2015 JCS Christmas Ornament issue
stitched on 36ct hand-dyed Edinburgh linen by Silkweaver ~ colour Tallahassee Teal
with recommended DMC threads

I’ve also picked up another piece of cheap second-hand furniture that I really love – a new wine rack that cost me the sum total of about $25! After I moved all my ‘old wines’ into the cabinet I was going to throw the old ones away … but then there was an awesome sale through work and I ended up stocking up big time and filling them back up again! I’m now sorted for wine until my retirement I reckon … unless my mum comes to visit, then it’ll get whittled down haha.


Second-hand furniture shopping

Since I moved to Australia, I’ve kind of got used to having very little spare cash most of the time, and when I do have a bit of cash replacing furniture etc is never high on the priority list.  I’ve kind of got used to just picking up something cheap from IKEA and making the most of it.  I’m not too proud to buy second-hand anything, but I’ve never actually thought about second-hand furniture – mainly because when I have gone to 2nd hand shops the furniture all seems a crazy price for what you’re actually buying.  Lately, though, my current flatmate has started trawling our local trade/selling site and been coming back with all sorts of goodies.  I decided what the heck, if I can’t afford to buy my dream $700 coffee tables etc, maybe I can at least make a drastic improvement on what I have at the moment for a lot less money.  That first browse on the site began about two months ago … since then a few different pieces of furniture have been coming into the flat over recent weeks.

A couple of pieces are still hanging out in the garage downstairs until we can hire a couple of burly blokes to come and carry them upstairs – and one piece in particular I want to sand back and stain first (plus it has a broken hinge that needs repairing).  So far, though, I’ve managed to get a coffee and side table set for $30, a dark wood china cabinet for nothing except the petrol it took to drive there, and a TV cabinet (that’s the one that needs an overhaul) that was free.  This is my coffee table – it just needs touching up on the top as there are a few deep scratches, but it’s WAY better than the ugly IKEA table that was its predecessor!  It’s so lovely to have pieces of WOODEN furniture with real character and warmth, not to mention in each a living history, rather than the cheap soulless laminate-covered chipboard!🙂

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The latest acquisition I picked up yesterday … that cost $50, although my flatmate threw me $50 as I walked out the door and said she was going to pay for it for my early Xmas present – what a surprise!!

Anyway, the latest purchase may not seem much, but I’ve always loved rocking chairs – I find them really really soothing, and can sit on one for hours gently rocking away. I also have back problems, so I figure this will also be much better for my posture sitting in the lounge when I’m stitching … my granny hobby now has some granny seating to go with it haha.  I just need to work out how to re-cover it in some nice blue upholstery fabric – in the meantime it’ll either do as is, or I’ll throw a lap blanket over it for the timebeing🙂

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It turns out it belonged to the Mum of the lady I bought it from, who’d passed away … and when I mentioned I wanted it as a stitching chair, the husband asked if I knew what a tapestry frame was and if I wanted that too.  They said they’d accept $20 for (actually they wanted $30 but I wasn’t sure I wanted it – after the drop to $20 I succumbed to the pressure).  So two of their Mum’s belongings are now living in my home, and I’m sure will be loved for years to come.  I’m still not 100% sure how much I’ll use the floor frame, but time will tell …

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Final recap of WIP progress to date

While I’ve managed to get a few finishes under my belt in the last six months or so, I’ve also chipped away a tiny bit at a couple more WIPs.  The first one is “Quaker Christmas II – Songs of the Season” by ByGone Stitches.  This is how it looked the last time I took a progress photo:

Quaker Christmas II - Songs of the Season by ByGone Stitches

And how it looks now (or at least how it looked a month or two ago anyway – there’s only been a tiny bit more progress on the right-hand motif since the photo was taken, but I’m too lazy to take an updated piccie just for those few stitches):

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After I finished off Lizzie*Kate’s 2007 Special Edition Christmas kit, I wanted to stitch on something easy to work on – my choice at the time was the “Paris” kit by Country Threads. I was fully intending to finish off the letter R if nothing else, but in truth I’m not enjoying stitching with it in the scrollbars I’ve got it in, so I’ve since shelved it for a while until I find something else to pop it into.  As it is I’m having to stitch it sideways so I could get it on the scrollbars in the first place … that feels really odd in itself really. I’ve actually done quite a bit more than what is showing in the piccie – and I think with a concentrated effort I’d get this letter finished with a good week of stitching, except my efforts have moved on for a wee while to something else.

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I did a bit of online shopping and bought some lovely (balsa probably) wooden crates from Briscoes online (Australian version of the NZ store).  I thought they’d be great to put my UFOs/WIPs into to keep them in one place … except I found that in fact I could probably fill 3-4 crates once I included my older unloved UFOs.  It has made me more determined, though, to get some more of those WIPs whipped into shape and into the finishing pile.  I’d dearly love to get that pile down into just the one solitary storage crate … perhaps by the end of 2018 it may be doable … or 2019 … OK, 2020 if I’m truly realistic😉 So yes, these are probably just half of the WIPs I have around the place, although they’re all on frames so they up a lot of room and it looks worse than what it is (that’s my excuse anyway).

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In an effort to start whittling the contents of one crate down, I’ve opted to go back to working on a Christmas SAL I started in January, where we stitch a selected Christmas ornie each month from the 2015 Just Cross Stitch ornament issue.  I have all the fabrics chosen ready to go for each month’s project, and I’m way behind in the SAL, so I figured it could be quite a quick thing for me to go through and get those out of the way.  Therefore my current WIPs will be, for the foreseeable future, various Christmas ornaments.  I managed to catch up and stitch April’s ornament, and I’ve made a (very) small start on the May one.

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“Very Merry Christmas” by Medina Originals
(from the 2015 Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue)

Started some time in April 2016 – Finished 3 September 2016
Stitched on a mystery 32ct fabric that I can’t remember
with recommended DMC threads

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Well I did say it was a small start … haha.  I’ve actually done a wee bit more since then, although at my current rate of progress it’ll probably be another week away before this one is finished.  It’s stitched on 36ct hand-dyed linen with one strand of thread, and I’m feeling my age when I’m stitching this one at the end of a long business day staring at a computer screen …

And that, I think, is all the stitching updates I have for now!

Ho Ho Ho …

After all the over-one stitching I decided to give my eyes a brief rest, and picked up another neglected WIP that I started back on 24 November last year. Hey, at least for once it was finished in the same year it was started (well within the same 12 months anyway).

Here’s what it looked like when I dragged it out of the ‘unloved but not-quite-forgotten corner’ of my bedroom:

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And here’s the finished product after a bit of tender loving care, and a whole heap of marathon TV watching:

“2007 Special Edition Christmas Kit” by Lizzie*Kate
Started 24 November 2015 – Finished 20 August 2016
Stitched on 28ct natural Cashel linen (I think)
with Crescent Colours threads as charted

The big updates have almost finished … just one more to go now and I’m all caught up for the year I think!  Phew!!

 

Blue and Yellow Macaw

After I finished doing all that over-one stitching on my first HAED I decided to go back and dig out some very VERY old UFOs and make a dent in them … the first one I chose to do was one that I fell out of love with a long time ago.  Initially started as a SAL with a fellow blogger, she fell off the face of the earth not far into the SAL. Truthfully when I started this one with her it wasn’t my first choice to stitch, so when she was no longer cheering me on I just lost interest – not to mention I wasn’t exactly enjoying the over-one stitching.

Anyway, I decided to just suck it up and get cracking … and lo and behind I soon had another finish once I put some serious effort into it.  I must say I had no idea what to do with it when it was finished – I do love it now, but I’d never have it hanging on my wall.  Next thing I know my flatmate has fallen in love with it and pretty much jumped on it when I said I didn’t know what to do with it.  Eventually I’ll get it framed for her and it’ll go on the walls of her new house once it’s built🙂

This is how it looked when I first picked it up again after not touching it since, um, ahem … 2005-ish!

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And here’s the stunning (if I do say so myself!) finished product – “Who’s a pretty boy, then?”😉

Ross Originals - Blue & Yellow Macaw

“Blue and Yellow Macaw” by Ross Originals (Graeme Ross)
Started 2005 – Finished 31 July 2016
Stitched on 28ct Lugana, one-over-one
with recommended DMC threads

I may not have as many finishes as I used to do, but so far this year I’ve managed to tick off some pretty big ticket items as far as I’m concerned – it’s been wonderful to be able to put a few of my old UFOs into the finished pile.