I can’t believe it, thanks to my stitchy bug coming back very sporadically thanks to attempting WIPGO, I actually have a stitchy update this month … may wonders never cease!?
My first project called was for Mini Sunflowers by HAED – I loved stitching this one so much I kept going well after the 5 hours were up. Here are the before and after shots.
The next project called ended up having a bit of frogging to do, so reverse stitching ate up a lot of my 5 hours – most of what I put in on the first day had to be removed again … oops. Anyway, here’s my progress at the end of the goal. I think I’ll probably keep on going to get this one finished, though, as it took me a long time to find my groove with the various stitches and I think it’d make sense to keep going while I’m in the right headspace. I swear I’m the slowest stitcher on the planet when I’m working on this one!!
If you have been to retreats, what are your must-bring items and supplies?
I pretty much just bring along my standard stitching kit of highlighter or tablet (depending on whether I’m working on a paper or digital pattern for my working copy), scissors, needles, etc – and depending what type of stitching retreat either one focal project to work on or a number of smaller ones if I can’t make up my mind … more often the latter.
While my stitching mojo was absent last year I did manage to start a new type of craft for me – thanks to Janie Hubble and Boxed and Bound I was able to sign up for some cartonnage classes and managed to complete the first couple of projects. Life then got in the way a wee bit and I still have a few projects to work on, but I’m hoping to make some progress on those this year.
Here are the two projects that I managed to fully complete – first up was a recipe card box:
The next project was a bit more challenging for me, but I thrive on a challenge so it was enjoyable and gave a real sense of achievement at the end. It’s a small set of drawers, which are so cute and dainty in real life!
I’m almost reluctant to set any goals this year, but what the heck … go big or go home, right? I’ve pretty much copied over the goals I set two years ago before my stitching hiatus, with a few adjustments and removals. I originally wanted to finish Quaker Diamonds by Rosewood Manor and also Three Kings by Mill Hill, but I don’t want that pressure if my mojo doesn’t stay so most items are for ‘progress’ instead of finishes.
My needlecraft goals for 2023 are:
Progress on 12 WIPs/UFOs (WIPGO should hopefully help me meet this goal)
Progress on three canvaswork projects (WIPs or new starts)
Progress on a crochet project
Complete 12 Christmas ornaments (as part of the JCS ornament SAL on Facebook)
Sew an item of clothing
Finish and frame the Ronald McDonald charity stitching
Start a bed quilt
Complete at least one cartonnage project
Complete at least three sewing projects (eg pouches, pincushions etc – WIPs or new starts)
Progress on at lease one project with specialty stitches or non-cross stitch (eg stumpwork, hardanger etc)
Finish-finish at least 12 items in my finishing pile (eg Christmas ornaments etc)
The starting point for those projects on my WIPGO board this year:
My goodness, this is probably the easiest annual review I’ve ever done, as I only worked on two projects!
I started the year in January hopeful that I’d get back into my stitching again, but my mojo was short lived and only lasted a few hours – I did, however, manage to complete all the letters on this canvaswork cushion by The Stitchsmith called Aroha so it wasn’t all bad (even if I only had 1 1/2 letters needing to be stitched).
The next time I did any stitching was late last month in December, where I got a sudden urge to stitch some of the blocks of Banded by Bargello by Kathy Rees. I realised I hadn’t downloaded the final part of the chart before I flew to NZ to care for Mum, and no longer had access to the email address I’d originally used, but Kathy kindly helped me out by sending me the missing parts. I think working on this project has helped me to get my mojo back a bit. It reminded me just how much I love working on canvaswork pieces, especially when the blocks are small and easy to count. This is such a beautiful piece of work, photos will never do it justice, I think. Here’s the before and after. The ‘before’ photo is closer to the colours in real life. It was so nice to put needle through canvas again, especially on a project that was really calling my name loudly.
It’s been a veeeerrrry long time since I stitched anything on a regular basis … well, truth be told, anything at all really. It’s been an emotionally traumatic couple of years after the passing of my Dad, then losing employment for a while during Covid, then my Mum deteriorating after a couple of strokes. For the first time in many many years, stitching no longer brought me comfort, but rather was an emotional trigger – perhaps because it reminded me of my Mum too much, as it’s something we’ve shared since she turned 70. Instead of stitching, I turned instead to a new-to-me craft of cardmaking, which can be found under my Instagram account, Shacks Papercrafts.
This year, though, the bug has finally started to rear its head a bit and I’ve decided I may attempt the WIPGO challenge while my motivation is here. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and not put too much pressure on, and kept all the goals as 5-hour blocks. Most of my projects chosen are older WIPs, with some newer WIPs thrown in for good measure, and a few new starts just to keep things interesting. I may change projects on the board on a whim, just to keep myself interested and to keep the momentus going, but time will tell. For now this is the board how it stands at the start of the year.
January’s project numbers are 6 and 10, so I kicked off with number 6, Mini Sunflowers by Marianne Broome and Heaven and Earth Designs. This was one of the projects I was really keen to work on, so I was thrilled to have this as the first project off the ranks. I enjoyed putting needle to fabric so much I ended up stitching through the night until 6am – that was pretty insane, but it was oh so enjoyable … like returning to an old love. It has been really difficult to put it down, but I want to try to balance my crafts this year and splitting my time between my cardmaking and stitching, so eventually I put it to one side. I’ll soon start on my second WIPGO project for January, and the January ornament for the Just Cross Stitch Ornament SAL on Facebook, then I may return to the sunfowers again before we move into the February projects.
Here’s where I started from:
And here’s where I finished at the end of two days stitching … and what a wonderful two days it was!
As I’ve posted about previously, May has seen my mojo return with a vengeance, and my energy levels and confidence towards my crafting endeavours has been really positive. I even managed to do a few small updates to some of my WIPs (not to mention adding tremendously to my WIP list with all the new starts in May … oops). Here is a review of the WIP upates from May during IsoMaynia.
Raphael’s Raspberries by Forgets-Me-Nots in Stitches
Mia Mermaid (retreat project) by Nora Corbett / Mirabilia
Quaker Diamonds by Rosewood Manor
When Witches Go Riding by The Prairie Schooler
Finch Song by Shepherd’s Bush
My goals for 2020 have seen some progress in general, thanks to being stood down from work three days a week throughout May and more free time to work on crafts. So far I’m stood down until at least the end of June, so I’m hoping this will continue for another month at least 😉
Another week of stitching in isolation, which means another batch of crafty projects getting some love and attention.
15 May: New start – Tilda group needlework accessories
I didn’t actually put needle to fabric at all for this one, but I did manage to get two of the projects started by fussy-cutting a few of the pieces ready for later.
16 May: WIP – Spike stitch basket by Crochet Society
I made a bit of progress on a crochet project I started in March. I didn’t quite get it finished on the 16th, but I got up and finished it the next day on the 17th. This is using Caron Pantone yarn.
17 May: New start – Christmas Bullfinch by Punochka
I started the February ornament choice for the JCS Christmas ornie SAL group on Facebook. Hopefully I’ll get this one finished early next month when I move to a 10-hour rotation again, instead of daily project changes.
18 May: Project and accessory bags
While not a ‘new’ project, I decided to make a few more vinyl fronted project and accessory bags so went ahead and did all the fabric cutting and quilting.
19 May: New start – Surface embroidery
Unfortunately I’ve mislaid my download file so I can’t give credit right now to the website hosting this image, but I’ll add the details later. Stitched with a DMC Variations thread. I hadnt decided yet what I’ll use this one for.
20 May: New start – Time in the Meadow by One Day in May (Creations by Melissa Grant)
This design was a free one that I received from One Day in May with an online order. I had to reduce the size of it a lot to make it small enough for its intended use. I used a Cottage Garden thread for the bird and border outlines and a single strand of a hand-dyed silk thread for the flowers and stems.
21-23 May: Tilda quilted pocket challenge
I managed to finish the surface stitchery (Time in the Meadow) from the day before and used it to adorn my latest Tilda challenge project. This pocket is far from perfect, but it was a great learning curve, and once again gives me more experience to build my confidence back up again. For the first time I didn’t start something different each day, but rather opted to focus on this one project until it was finished, so this project ended up spanning three separate days (two after work evenings and Saturday afternoon).
My crafty mojo remained high for another week – here are the projects that were at the end of my needle for IsoMaynia through the second week of May:
8 May: Piwakawaka, the Fantail by Lyn Manning
A small kit I bought from The Ribbon Rose in Auckland while Dad was in hospital last year. I’ve always loved fantails, and this is a really sweet little stitching project that reminds me of home. I didn’t quite manage to get it finished because I worked during the day, but I kept stitching on it the next day and managed to get it completed.
9 May: Stitch now, worry later by Lizzie*Kate
I changed the threads to my own choices of silk threads, trying to roughly match the colours I’d used in my last Lizzie*Kate a few years ago. I changed the thread spools to use satin stitch instead of cross stitch. This saying couldn’t be more relevant in these times! Eventually I’ll stitch the larger design as well.
10 May: Catherine Agnes by Indigo Rose
So excited to finally kick this project off – it’s intimidated me for years, but I put the feelings aside and just started. Such a fun project, I’m looking forward to getting back to this one again after May – I think this will definitely be going into the formal rotation I’m considering next month. A good challenging stitch with luscious silk threads … and yet more queen stitches!!
11 May: WIP – Quaker Diamonds by Rosewood Manor
Finally dragged out an older WIP – it’s a goal to actually finish this one at some time this year, so once again this will probably become my focus piece in a formal rotation from next month. Sadly I stitched in the wrong place in a previous session, so the next time I stitch on it I’ll get around to frogging those random stitches. This week, though, I just avoided that area and started a new motif instead 😉 I was busy during the day so not much to show for it – oh well, a few stitches closer to a finish, every little bit helps!
12 May: All you need is love and coffee by Design Works
I was initially put off by the stiff black aida that came in this kit, but it turned out to be really good for the style of stitching. Initially I used normal one-stitch back-stitches for the lettering, but it looked kinda clunky – when you look at the cover picture the back-stitching is all done as long stitches instead … so I frogged my back-stitching and did the same. It looks much neater and I really love the look. One of my favourite stitching projects so far during IsoMaynia, and I can’t wait to get back to work on this one again soon! I think I’ll be stitching this one more than once as well as gifts.
13 May: Tilda needlebook challenge
Still waiting for some Tilda fabrics to arrive that have been on back order for quite a few weeks, so I decided I didn’t want to wait anymore and wanted to start a needlework set now (I’d already missed all the past four challenges waiting for the fabric to arrive). I chose one of my favourite series of fabrics from Spoonflower, and think the set is going to be gorgeous in this fabric! Lots of glue, and not a lot of needlework involved in this one, but it’s another new-to-me challenge, it’s crafting of a different sort, and I did use a needle to buttonhole stitch the needlebook pages and then whip-stitched the lace on top of the felt. I used some light turquoise/teal felt I bought in Paris during my last visit, some wool flannel gifted to me by a dear friend recently for the needlebook pages, and I found some silk ribbon in my stash to finish it off. I did some fussy cutting for the first time, and I really love it!
14 May: Mia mermaid by Nora Corbett
This was the design we were given as the free gift at the Mirabilia Retreat in 2017 where Nora attended in person for the first time in Australia. I stitched this in 2017 after the retreat, intending to leave the wording and the date off. Over the last 12 months, though, I’d changed my mind and kept dithering about including the wording and date as a momento of the retreat weekend, which was also the start of some amazing stitching friendships. So I finally sucked it up and put her back into the Qsnaps to add the wording. I ran out of time to do the date as well, and I can’t really decide how to do it yet, so it’s not quite yet an official finish … maybe next month! I changed the wording colour to use the Pine Forest silk instead of the Copper as charted. The fabric colour is more accurate in the first photo.
What an amazing boost to crafting goodness IsoMaynia has been for me. My engagement with my crafts has been through the roof, and it’s been wonderful to do some sort of creative endeavour every single day in May.
Here are the projects that were at the end of my needle for IsoMaynia through the first week of May:
1 May: Tilda Zippy pouch challenge
A Tilda Facebook group challenge, this was a totally new project to me, and got me back using the sewing machine and hand-sewing the binding on – first time using the plastic sheeting as well. The small one was the size for the challenge, and I chose to make a larger one as well for the designs I want to stitch each month for an annual Hallowe’en SAL challenge (of which I’ve been woeful at these last couple of years).
2 May: Stitching is the Berries by Periwinkle Promises
I’d actually started this one the week prior, so I’ve included a before and after shot to show how much I achieved on the day. The border is made up of lots and LOTS of queen stitches, and it’s using a different stitch technique that I’ve never seen before. I’ll be honest I struggled with it quite a lot, but after a while I grew to like it, and I ended up doing a few other projects using the same technique. It’s not my normal choice of colours, but I love the richness of the reds and it’s been fun to try some different stitches again. This is a kit that came with the fabric and threads and the finishing kit with the tin etc. Bought from a friend unloading some stash last year, it’s been fun to work on so far.
3 May: WIP – Raphael’s Raspberries by Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches
Oh my goodness this has been an unloved UFO for so very long – probably about five years now I think. I managed to get about six queen stitches done before throwing it in a corner for whatever reason. After the Periwinkle Promises queen stitches, though, I found I whipped through these ones pretty quickly. I think another full day of stitching and I just might have got all the main body of the stitching done … I think I’ll have to return to this one in June and get it finished. I have the matching sweet bag to go with it, so then I’ll set that up as a new start and a bigger challenge.
4 May: My other car is a broom by Lizzie*Kate
This was a kit put together by a LNS in Berry that has since closed down. In hindsight the fabric choice wasn’t great and the stitching disappears on it (the picture on the left is closer to the colour IRL). I wish I’d subbed the fabric for a darker one now, but it’s too late for that now (and I can’t be bothered unpicking the green and doing it again). I managed to start and finish this one on the same day, which is great – it was my first IsoMaynia finish 😀
5 May: Patch Coeur Août by Un Chat dans l’aiguille
A different challenge today doing surface stitchery. This is a kit that I bought on my last visit to Paris with Mum, so it was time I gave it a try. I always felt a bit intimated by it, especially as the instructions are all in french, but the stitch diagrams are clear enough to work out what the stitches are, and I managed to translate the key areas of the instructions to get me on my way. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, although I’ve now learned how sewing the ends in the back can pull on the front stitching and it stuffed up my buttonhole wheels in the lighthouse – I’ll just redo them later when I pick it back up again. It’s actually a lovely change not having to follow a chart and count for every stitch 🙂
6 May: Moose Joy by Angel Stitchin’
This was the January ornament choice by a JCS Ornie SAL Facebook group. I started it in January (so I’ve included the before and after photos), but just wasn’t feeling the love for it. I think it was more to do with my battling with depression and not having any mojo than anything being wrong with the design itself). I didn’t manage to get it finished on 5 May, but the next day I put the final stitches in place. Using my own choice of threads.
7 May: Aroha (Love) cushion by The Stitchsmith
Bought as a kit while Dad was in hospital last year, I started this one in February as my monthly stitching GTG project … mindless stitching while being able to chat and still make progress. Sadly February was the last GTG we had in person, so I figured I might as well give it some love for a short while. As this was a work-day, I only managed a short time working on it, but got the equivalent of one letter stitched – finishing the letter O and starting on the letter H.
Wow, what a crazy year this has been so far – thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been stood down from work three days a week which stressed me out majorly when I heard the news … but in hindsight it’s actually been a godsend to me. I’ve been battling depression since Dad passed (I hadn’t realised just how much of a major toll it had taken on my health with Dad’s horrendous extended stay in hospital while managing Mum’s dementia at the same time – not to mention frantic and challenging work conditions back at home). Now the norm is working from home (which I love), and only working two days a week for a while. It’s not conducive to getting a great deal of work done each week, but it IS really conducive to me getting my life back on track craft-wise.
April WIPocalypse came and went – I thought about doing a post with my updates, but I looked back and realised there weren’t any! This month, however, is a totally different story – I have craft updates coming out the wazoo!!
We have regular stitching get-togethers with friends twice a month in real life here in Sydney, but due to the pandemic and lockdown all events have been cancelled the last couple of months … meaning we’ve resorted to Skype calls which have continued every Saturday. Three weeks ago I was joking that since being stood down my head is swimming with all the many things I want to do craft-wise – I just want to start everything at the same time and I felt really motivated. To sum it up we jokingly came up with the term of IsoMaynia – kinda like the major Stitchmania challenge every year, but just for while we’re in lockdown/isolation. My personal challenge was to attempt a different craft or stitching project every day in May – and to date that’s been working out well.
In the first two weeks of May I’ve managed lots of new starts, and progress on a couple of WIPs. Seeing as I’ve pretty much run out of Qsnaps now, I’ll likely be working on a few more WIPs for the rest of the month, but don’t hold me to that! 😉
I’ll post all the updates in weekly bursts shortly – but first here’s the April WIPocalypse stitchers’ question of the month:
Tell us about a piece that you absolutely loved stitching.
Goodness, there are a number of projects that I really loved doing, so it’s hard to pick just one … I’ll just say the first one that comes to mind, which is Mirabilia’s ‘Red’ done in a blue conversion. The whole thing makes my heart sing … from Nora’s amazing design itself, down to the amazing conversion and colours by Beth, and being so happy with the fabric choice for her. It’s probably the quickest I’ve ever finished a Mirabilia design too, so that’s probably a good indication of how much I loved doing her – although a deadline of getting her finished before a retreat that Nora was attending might have been a bit of motivation too 😉