First WIP for 2017: some frangipani flowers

This project was started by my Mum years ago to give to me, but she didn’t get too far with it and admitted she’d never get around to stitching it. As our stitches are so very different I ended up unpicking her stitches and starting it again. Mum’s thrilled that I’m working on it and getting it finished. Hopefully this will be the first finish of 2017 if I can work out the thread colours … they got kinda mixed up a bit over the years … 

WIPocalypse 2017 – January

Time to start dusting off the blog once again, and at least attempting to post once a month if nothing else.  I’m hoping that signing up for the Measi’s WIPocalypse again will help with that goal.  Seeing as I’m doing a Stitching From Stash challenge on Facebook, an almost non-existent stitching budget this year, and a never-ending pile of WIPs/UFOs, I think it’ll be great to have another year focusing on getting some of these older projects into the finishing pile, or if not finished at least getting a few more stitches into them by the end of the year.

To start with, we’ve been asked to do the following this month: Introduce yourself, your projects, and any goals you have for the year!

So, for those who don’t know me, I’m a single 50-year-old stitcher living in Sydney, Australia. I work for an airline where I look after a lot of the online content for our side of the business plus something else that takes up the rest of my working day and often leads to long working hours.  It’s also unfortunately meant less play time for my stitching over the last 2 1/2 years, but I’m hoping 2017 will see that changing if I get my way 😉

I have very eclectic taste in XS designs/designers, and have enough stash to keep me going until I’m 500.  I tend to use Facebook more than anything these days, although I’m also loving Instagram for posting of stitching photos.  Aside from stitching, I’ve also been doing a 365 Photo-a-Day Challenge, which has been a lot of fun.

As for the projects, brace yourself with the unveiling of my WIP/UFO pile … I know I’m missing a handful of projects, but I’ll add details of those when I get home again and manage to take a photo.  I won’t be attempting to tackle all of these, but I’ve noted under each photo which ones I’d like to focus on this year.  As for goals, I’d just like to get 5-6 existing WIPs finished this year, with some decent progress on at least one of the bigger projects … and I want to enjoy my stitching and not stress.  I’d also like to finish a few tutorials this year.

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  1. Topiary Garden(?) by Textile Heritage – I’d like to finish this one in 2017.
  2. Bluebeard’s Princess Mirabella by Mirabilia – I’m not 100% sure of the fabric choice for this one, which is why it didn’t progress further … if nothing else, I’d like to make up my mind on fabric – not sure this will get too much love this year otherwise.
  3. Quaker Diamonds by Rosewood Manor – I’d like to get 25% of this one finished this year.
  4. Starry Snowman ornie by Homespun Elegance – this only has a bunch of backstitching and charms to be added, so it should be finished in an hour or two and is on the list to be quickly finished off when I get home.
  5. Bee Keeper Scissor Keeper by Cindy Valentine – the scissor case has the stitching finished, so I just need to stitch up the matching scissor fob … I’d like to finish this one in 2017.
  6. Red Lace Sewing Case by The Drawn Thread – I’d already make some progress on this one by finishing the 2nd side (alphabet) before Christmas.  I’ll be finishing this one as a priority on my return home this week – it’s a gift for someone, so it’d be great to get it finished!
  7. Celtic Summer by Lavender & Lace – truthfully another one I’m not thrilled with my choice of linen, so it’s unlikely to get much love for a while.  I may look at this one towards the end of the year, but it’s not a priority for me.
  8. Finch Song by Shepherd’s Bush – I don’t like how a couple of the threads ‘blend in’ to the background green grass, so I think I need to make some substitutions plus find another cream thread for the sheep. I’d love to make progress on this one and get it finished in 2017, but it’s unlikely … if I could decide on the thread replacements, I’ll be happy!
  9. The Tea Room by Country Cottage Needleworks – another one that’s not a priority to finish, as there is hardly anything started on this one, and other projects are calling my name more than this.  Will see how I feel later in the year, though.

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  1. Noah’s Ark by Teresa Wentzler – one of my oldest UFOs that got stalled when I tackled over-one stitching for the first time. As I’ve now completed a mini HAED over-one, there’s really no excuse not to pick this one back up again … except others are more on my radar than this one.  Maybe if I just get a couple more animals stitched that would be good progress?
  2. Topiary Tree Bookmark by Textile Heritage – I need to stitch the sides onto some calico so I can put this into a Qsnap … I hate stitching in hand and the quality of these stitches are proof that I can’t get decent tension – not sure this one will see any progress this year.
  3. Hussif by Martha Schmidt (class kit) – this is one of the class projects from way back in 2000 when I attended a HOCS in Sacramento, CA. I actually dislike my colour choices for the blue threads as there isn’t any contrast between the two colours, so if nothing else I’d like to decide on two alternate threads to use instead, and get it kitted up ready for 2018 stitching.
  4. Nature’s Resting Place by Stoney Creek – OMG where to start with this one? My first ever project (and probably my 3rd or 4th EVER stitching project) on evenweave and I made a total hash of it. The background stitches are all stitched with two threads instead of 1 and I’ve made a massive boo-boo on the tree trunk at the front which will probably mean having to rip out the entire stitching, including the Canadian goose and goodness knows what else.  While I’m tempted to just chuck it out, the stubborn part of me thinks I may as well suck it up and unpick it all and just finish it off … but it’s no longer my ‘style’ of stitching either, and I’ll never put it on my wall or do anything with it, so I’m not sure what to do with it … probably nothing will happen in 2017 anyway, unless I just do the unpicking in readiness for one day in the future to fix it all up …
  5. Paris by Country Threads – one of my Crazy January projects from last year, I’d like to see the letter R finished this year if nothing else. Anything beyond that will be a bonus.
  6. Daisy Blue by HAED – I’d dearly love to get this one finished ASAP, so I think this will be high on the priority list in the first half of the year.
  7. Egyptian Garden Mandala by Chatelaine – this poor thing has been a UFO for way too long. I’ve never been 100% sure of the fabric, and need to unpick all the centre over-one stitching … as much as I’d love to give it some love this year, I’m not sure it will.  Perhaps if I unpick all the centre stitching, it’ll motivate me to pick it up a bit more, so I’ll make that my challenge for 2017.
  8. Quaker Christmas II by ByGone Stitches – this is a monster project that I’d like to see reach the halfway point in 2017.  I have no desire to get it 100% finished this year, but I think 50% may be doable …
  9. English Garden Sampler by Teresa Wentzler – I stopped this one after not being able to decide what to put in place of the alphabet in the bottom section. Obviously this is a trend for me … as soon as I have to make a decision on something ‘out of the ordinary’ it’s like a major stumbling block for me and nothing at all happens! I want to put an inspirational quote in there, so even if I don’t get any stitching done on it this year, I’d like to decide on the quote and have it charted up ready to go in 2018.  In truth, though, I’d dearly love to get some more stitching done on this one in 2017!

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  1. Sailor’s Valentine by CA Wells – it’s quite shameful how long I’ve had this as a UFO, when all it needs is the outside bands to be stitched. Guilt will hopefully see this one pulled out of the UFO pile as I’d like to finish this one in 2017, even if I don’t get the actual finishing done on it (that scares the bejeezus out of me, as I can’t even remember how to do the joining stitch anymore!!).
  2. Pyramid Etui by CA Wells – my oldest CA Wells class project but it may not get any love in 2017. I’m not 100% convinced my choice of silk thread was the best for the dark blue, but I’m probably too far down the track to do anything else. I need to just suck it up and get it finished, and then if I want to stitch it again in a different colourway (as it is, I totally changed CA’s threads to match my love of blues).  The silk thread reminded me of Monet’s garden colours, but the finished version didn’t match my fantasy …
  3. Cottage Etui by CA Wells – my final class project by CA, and another one I’d like to make progress on in 2017 … or perhaps I should wait until 2018 and make it a 10-year anniversary stitching session? 😛
  4. Stumpwork Thimblepip by Jane Nicholas – this is supposed to be a full needlework accessories set, but I’m not 100% sure on the silk fabric choice anymore, and my tension was dreadful for the wee hedgehog, not to mention the thread colours disappear in the signature piece … plus the spider web needs to be tacked down. Maybe I just need to do these final finishing touches and get it made up … maybe.

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  1. Apricot (Blue) Elegance by Cindy Valentine – I kept stuffing up the buttonhole stitch border and frogged it so many times I lost count, and then lost my confidence with it. Not sure 2017 will be the year I conquer this one, but never say never!
  2. Schwalmwork Pinkeep by Moss Creek Designs – another one I’m not sure will see any progress in 2017 until I get my confidence back! Perhaps another one for 2018?
  3. Raphael’s Raspberries by Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches – if I work on this one it’ll be later in the year. After I stitch this one there is a larger sweet bag that goes with it and uses the same fabric and threads, so I’d like to tackle them both at the same time if possible, and I really need my concentration and wits about me when I do that, which may not be 2017!
  4. Stumpwork Goldfish (EGA Group Correspondence Course) – this poor thing has been a UFO for way too long, but I’m not sure 2017 will see it get some love. I could surprise myself, though, as I want to get back into finishing some of my stumpwork pieces this year, and at least this one will be easier to see the stitches! 😉
  5. Hardanger scissor fob – I’d like to see this one finished quickly, as I intend it going as a companion gift with the Red Lace Sewing Case.
  6. Flight of the Bumblebees by Ruth Schmuff – I definitely want to finish this one early on in the first half of the year. I’d run out of one of the Kreinik #8 braids, but I recently bought a replacement spool so I’m ready to go again!
  7. Le Jardin Silk Sampler by Just Cross Stitch – not sure this will see any daylight in 2017, as I really hated working with the Silk Serica with a passion. I’ll review again later in the year though.
  8. Butterflies and Hearts Needleroll by Lorri Birmingham – I hated the thread colour in the kit, plus I’d managed to miscount on the fabric so it’s off-centre … all-in-all I need to unpick this in its entirety and start it again. My goal this year is to decide on a new colour scheme and kit up ready for 2018.
  9. Mediterranean Village Scene – still not convinced I should bother finishing this one off … I decided I didn’t like the blue colour used on the windows etc, and not sure what to do with it now as I’d never ever finish it into anything, I don’t think …

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  1. Beaded Fish – goodness I don’t think I could even remember how to do these now! I think most of these nine projects will end up being forgotten about in 2017, and I’ll see in 2018 if I can give them some love.
  2. Beehive needlebook – I don’t enjoy stitching in hand and was struggling with the fresh knots, so it became a UFO.
  3. Bullion knot facecloth – I hate pink with a passion, so it sits forever unfinished ever since I took the class to learn how to do bullions.  I’m tempted to just rip these out of the facecloth and forget I ever started it …
  4. Berry Delightful Bag – an old Embroiderers Guild project that’ll be finished eventually, just not in 2017.
  5. Wool hot water bottle cover – I fell out of love with the choice of wool threads I’m using, and would rather do again in blues and pale yellows/creams, but I can’t bring myself to start again … maybe in 2018?
  6. Frog longstitch – another project I think I may just throw out and give free to a good home to someone willing to stitch it. I don’t feel any love for this one, and it’s just sitting taking up space with no desire whatsoever to work on it.
  7. Goldwork Pea – I stuffed this one up with the pea facing the wrong way, so it put me off finishing it … but once I’ve built my confidence up with some of the other non-XS projects I think I’ll come back to this one again … in 2018 or beyond.
  8. Summer Fruits pincushion – Another one for 2018 or 2019 …
  9. Hussif by Monica Hunt – all it needs is the top attaching to the bottom piece by stitching Feather Stitch along both sides … considering the name of my blog you’d think that’d be a piece of cake, but for some reason it terrifies me and it sits as a UFO for that silly reason … especially when I’d managed to do the stitch along the shorter sides already!  Not sure 2017 is the year I’ll pluck up the courage though …

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  1. Honesty and Heartsease by Jane Nicholas – if I was to work on any of my stumpwork pieces this is one that would see the light of day first. I’ve noticed my eyesight declining a lot this last year, so I think I should do these sooner rather than later as the work is extremely fine … perhaps 2017 will be the year this one sees some love?!
  2. Dragonfly by Jane Nicholas – another one that is almost finished, it just needs the wings to be completed … it should be awesome to see this one done, but Honesty and Heartsease will probably win the popularity stakes if I had to choose one.
  3. Pomegranates and Beetle by Jane Nicholas – I stuffed up the direction of the stem stitch in one half of the tree, plus I attached the wrong half of the pomegranate slip to the fabric so it became a UFO. This was a class project with Jane herself, so I’d really like to get this one done one day, but probably after I’ve completed the others.
  4. Oriental Poppy by Jane Nicholas – yet another stumpwork UFO that has a lot of the pieces stitched and ready to go (not in the photo) … I really do need to pull my finger out and get some of these done, as they’ll be stunning when they’re finished!!

As well as the above, I have plans for a few more new starts, which are all kitted up and ready to go!  So far I’m keen to start work on Red by Mirabilia (but doing a blue conversion), Three Kings by Jim Shore/Mill Hill, and a couple of wee Mill Hill kits … but time will tell what I do actually start.  I’m stitching from my stash this year, so whatever I stitch will have to be kitted up already and ready to go 🙂

 

 

Final stitches for 2016

I’ve headed across the Tasman to spend Christmas with my parents, so not a great deal of stitching has been done, with the exception of the final three Christmas ornaments for 2016. I joined a Facebook group to stitch 12 ornaments from the JCS 2015 Christmas ornie magazine, and these are my final ones – and I think the only SAL I managed to actually start and finish in its entirety this year … with a whole 24 hours to spare in the year! 😛

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“Snow” by Val’s Stuff (2015 JCS Christmas ornament issue)
stitched on 32ct Lugana (colour unknown)
with a mix of recommended threads and DMC

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“Plenty” by Hands On Designs (2015 JCS Christmas ornament issue)
stitched on 32ct Steel Grey Belfast linen 
with my own choice of threads (Carrie’s Creation plus white DMC)
I changed the word ‘Plenty’ to be ‘Noel’ and added extra leaves and berries by the wording to balance it out a bit more

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“Christmas in Red” by MTV Designs (2015 JCS Christmas ornament issue)
stitched on 28ct white Cashel linen
with DMC 4200 (Wild Fire – Colour Variations thread)
This will be folded up into a diamond shape when it’s finish-finished

Then while I was waiting for midnight to arrive on New Year’s Eve, I sat and unpicked a very old UFO that Mum had started for me not long after she started stitching. Unfortunately our stitching tensions are so vastly different that it would have looked terrible to combine both sets of stitching, so I’m starting it again from scratch myself. Mum has agreed she won’t stitch it, and her eyesight isn’t good enough to stitch anyway at the moment, but I’ll still think of it as ‘Mum’s stitching for me’, as she chose the kit knowing I love frangipanis.  She gave it a good attempt, but it’s time to get it out of the UFO pile and into the finishing pile 🙂  Unfortunately, though, I think some of the threads have been mixed up, so I’ll need to find somewhere that stocks Anchor threads to make sure I’ve got all the right threads (there are 4 greens in the WIP envelope, but only 3 greens in the design for example, plus there are a red and a brown thread in the WIP envelope and these aren’t used at all – Mum must’ve had a senior moment I think).

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As for the year’s finishes, I don’t think I did too badly all considering – below is a visual summary of those I managed to finish before Christmas, plus the ones up above in this post) … yep, I’m relatively pleased, especially considering one of my finishes was a HAED mini and that’s a huge achievement in itself, I reckon!  I think it was 21 finishes in total 😀

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Christmas fever

Oops, I seem to have forgotten how to blog – I started this a couple of weeks ago in December, and didn’t publish!!

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I seem to be on a roll with Christmas stitching! First up I managed to totally finish a sampler I started in January for the Crazy January Challenge. I thought I’d stitch on something easy for a while but I ended up making more mistakes in this one than anything I’ve stitched all year! 

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“Christmas Spirit double flip its” by Lizzie*Kate
Stitched on 28ct hand-dyed Cashel linen by Countrystitch ~ colour Haystack
with mostly recommended threads (GAST/WDW) and the rest DMC

Then I picked up another old UFO started years ago – I’ve managed to totally finish one page of The Drawn Thread’s Red Lace Sewing Case.

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And I managed to finish another prince for this year’s ornie challenge!

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All-in-all not too shabby for the last month or so I guess 🙂

 

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.