Back stitching after a personal loss

Those that are friends with me on Facebook will know that I’ve just returned home after 3 1/2 months of personal leave back in New Zealand. My beloved Dad had a fall and broke his hip towards the end of June, and his recovery was far from smooth-sailing. He developed numerous infections during his time there, and was eventually sent home with an untreated infection in his system that took his body over a week later. After 3 months (minus that one week at home after 2 months) he lost his battle in the hospital and passed away on 26 September. It was probably a blessing at that point because he was suffering so much 😦 RIP Dad – I love you and miss you so much, and I’ll miss our weekly phone calls catching up with all of your news. This photo is from his first day home from hospital before he became unwell again.

Not unexpectedly, my craft mojo was pretty absent while in NZ – I tried doing crochet but lost the ability to count and after a couple of weeks of attempting different shawl patterns had to frog everything back again. I also struggled to see the fabric holes properly to be able to do cross stitch so most of the projects I took with me to work on in the evenings wasn’t of any use. I finally settled on a charity piece of stitching that was stitched on 14-count Aida cloth, and it became the piece that I could stitch on in the hospital room while Dad was sleeping or doing crosswords.

Since returning home on the weekend I’ve managed to get a lot of stitching done, and it’s actually helped to calm my mind and give me a bit of peace after such a tumultuous few months. First of all I did a bit of the canvaswork piece I was working on before I had the phone call from NZ.

“Lahaina Breezes” by Laura J Perin

Then today I finished the Christmas ornament that I was struggling to see the fabric on while in NZ.

“The Heart of Christmas” by Rosewood Manor
(from 2018 JCS Christmas Ornament issue)
Stitched on 32ct white Lugana with DMC 816 and 895, Kreinik #4 braid 002,

and Mill Hill beads 03049
Started 8 September 2019 – Finished 15 October 2019.

Not sure what’s up next – I really want to finish the JCS Christmas Ornament SAL on Facebook this year, so that’ll probably be my main focus for the remainder of the year, unless I throw in a larger WIP inbetween the ornies. Time will tell …

WIPocalypse – April 2019

Progress on my WIPs had been very minimal during April until the Easter weekend. Still getting over that dratted virus (close to two months now it’s been hanging around!) – and at crunch time of a major project at work meaning some long hours and not much mental capacity left over at the end of the day. My poor old crafts have been neglected majorly, and I knew if I attempted any I’d just end up frogging at the end of it … then Easter weekend arrived and that all changed!

Over Easter I decided to have a binge weekend watching old movie DVDs and stitching. That saw me putting the final stitches into the Mirabilia retreat dragonfly from last year. I stitched this one differently to how I’d normally stitch – I did it as a rough mirror image, starting from the same starting point on each side for each strand of thread (particularly the overdyed silks). There’s a bit of variation in places, but it’s pretty symmetrical and I really like it. The darker silk actually has a heap of deep pinks and purples in it, but I managed to get a couple of strands of just the green and grey-blues and cut out the pinks.

I made a couple of small changes to the design as it was charted – I only used one strand of thread for the lettering and moved the lettering down slightly on the fabric. I also chose not to stitch the swirly date as charted so it didn’t take away from the dragonfly itself – instead I just added a smaller ‘2018’ in one strand of 310 to match the lettering above it. It’s a great memento of the weekend away, and the photos will never do it justice, it’s quite sparkly in real life.

This is how it looked at the start of the month, and in it’s finished glory 🙂

2018 Mirabilia Retreat dragonfly by Nora Corbett / Mirabilia
Stitched with kit fabric and threads
Started 10 February 2018 – Finished 22 April 2019

And I just quickly snuck in one other WIP update today before publishing my post! I recently had a small windfall from work, and my biggest splurge for myself was the purchase of a brand new Janome sewing machine. To christen it I dragged out a retreat project from 1 1/2 years ago that just needed to be turned into the actual bag (I finished the stitching a year ago) – one more WIP into the finish-finished pile, woohoo!!

Hearts & Berries by Marg Low
“Hearts and Berries” by Marg Low
Project from Linen & Threads patchwork retreat 2017
using my own choice of fabric and threads

Question of the month:

Talk to us about your longest-running WIP or UFO.

Ah yes, my oldest UFO … I have so little love for this thing, I’m not sure it will ever get finished. I have made so many mistakes, it’s not funny! The first time I ever attempted stitching on linen, and the first time I’d come across a chart that didn’t use two strands of cotton for all stitches.

I stitched the top in two strands instead of one, which I can live with … but then I made a massive mistake on the big tree log or duck at the front, and I think I pretty much need to frog the entire section. Add to the fact that it’s using old threads that have since changed during the dying process and I don’t have enough old thread to restitch that log again anyway … yep, it’s a hot mess! I suppose I could always start stitching from the top down again and try to fudge the bottom, but I’m considering doing the backstitching of the parts I’ve already stitched, and cutting it up to have the deer or something else the focal point in a wee frame instead, or add it to a tote bag pocket or something.

Either way, I’m not sure this design will ever see the light of day as a fully finished piece! I don’t love it enough to worry about it – and it’ll never be framed and put on my walls (my tastes have majorly changed over the years) … the poor thing is a bit of a lost cause! Mind you, I guess I could finish it and give it to the SPCA to fundraise or something – maybe someone else would love it … maybe …


Nature's Resting Place by Stoney Creek
Nature’s Resting Place by Stoney Creek

Easter finishes

Over the Easter weekend I had an exceptionally lazy and indulgent four days stitching my little heart out while watching old movie DVDs. The result was to finish three projects that I started in February/March during my Mum’s recent visit to Australia. The dragonfly was an earlier WIP that’ll be the subject of my April WIPocalypse post 🙂

“Flying Geese” by Laura J Perin
Stitched on 18ct French Blue monocanvas
with recommended threads
Started 20 February 2019 – Finished 22 April 2019
“To All a Good Night” by Knotted Tree NeedleArt
from the 2018 JCS Christmas Ornament issue
with a mix of recommended threads and substitutes from my stash
Started 3 March 2019 – Finished 22 April 2019
Mirabilia Retreat dragonfly by Nora Corbett / Mirabilia
Stitched with kit fabrics and threads
Started 10 February 2018 – Finished 22 April 2019

WIPocalypse – March 2019

Yet again progress on my WIPs has been very minimal during March. Mainly due to feeling unwell for so long, and when I returned to work I just didn’t have any energy for stitching at the end of the day. I did manage to get a tiny bit of stitching done during the month, though, on an older WIP so at least I have something to post this month! 😉

This is the free chart we received at the 2018 Mirabilia Retreat on the Central Coast. I’m not entirely sure I like how the date appears so I decided to start my stitching session with unpicking the existing stitches. I’ve decided to stitch both sides at the same time and in the same stitching order, so the wings are going to turn out (hopefully) relatively symmetrical. Here’s the progress I’ve made so far, but I’m ready for a change, so I think it’ll be rotated out with something else in April.

Question of the month:

What newer designers and product creators (fabric or floss dyeing, etc) out there have you discovered and recommend?

Truthfully I haven’t really been looking for new designers or artisans, I’m a bit stuck in my ways and happy with the ones I already know – that’s not to say I don’t see the odd design that someone is stitching in one of the Facebook groups and might have a quick glance at their Etsy shop etc if I like what I see. I have to say, though, I haven’t found any so far that I’d add a “favourite” tag to. My favourite fabric dyer still remains as countrystitch.com, and my favourite designer this year is probably Needle Delights Originals (Kathy Rees) because I’ve bought a truckload of her canvaswork designs this year and kitted them up.

WIPocalypse February 2019

I’m very VERY late posting my WIPocalypse update for February (and January), due to illness and very little to share, so it’ll be a quick update …

It seems 2019 seems to be the year of the new starts for me so far, with the only WIP being worked on in February being Ladybug by Elizabeth’s Designs. The only thing that had to be done to this one was to add the little ladybird charm to the stitching … five minutes later and I had another finish under my belt 😉

Since then I’ve been doing a bit of stitching on another WIP, a free dragonfly design by Nora Corbett from last year’s Mirabilia Retreat in Sydney, Australia – but that update will come next week in the March WIPocalypse check-in 🙂

Questions of the month:

January: What SALs are you participating in this year?
Other than the WIPocalypse again, I’m trying to do the following primarily in Facebook groups:
– JCS Christmas Ornament SAL
– Hallowe’en Ornie SAL (although haven’t started any yet!)
– JK’s Groupies monthly theme SALs (managed to do Jan and Feb so far, with Mar not far away from being started)
– Gifted Gorgeousness SAL

February: What do you listen to while stitching?
I have to say I prefer to sit in front of the gogglebox and catch up on pre-recorded TV shows or rewatch movies I love, but I also love to listen to Audiobooks while I’m stitching too – it all depends on my mood on the day and how much I need to concentrate on what I’m doing.

A lack of crafty updates

Sadly I became quite sick in early February with some virus that has had me nauseous and wanting to be physically ill on and off for six weeks. Sadly that meant a few weeks of annual leave were spent laid up in bed or on the sofa apartment-bound. This all coincided with the final visit from my Mum, which sadly meant no fun road trips for us on this trip, and our all travel plans had to be cancelled. On the positive, though, we had plenty of girlie one-on-one time at home watching TV and movies and just generally chatting. Mum has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and these types of days will gradually become less and less, and she’s no longer able to travel on her own. It breaks my heart to see her memories disappearing, but I try to stay positive and just respond the same way for the 5th time I’ve heard the same story on any given day – I still treasure the conversations and the laughter that we always have 🙂

As for crafts, my gigantic plans for the year became scuppered very early on, and I’m very behind with blogging and crafting. I did eventually manage a bit of stitching while I was on ‘holiday’ though once the nausea started to wear off, and this has been the result so far …

Dimensions: Stacked Tea Cups

This kit was a gift from a dear friend in the US, and I’ve been itching to stitch it ever since it arrived. I decided the colours were exactly what I wanted to work on and made a start on it before Mum arrived for our holiday. This was also my chosen project for “New start January” in an Aussie Facebook group called JK’s Groupies. Eventually I managed to finish it during my recuperation. I really need to take a better photo in daylight without all those ugly shadows! I also want to stitch this one more time but on a 36ct linen next time with DMC – I’d love to see the comparison, because I hated stitching on that awful cardboard-like Aida and I have more Dimensions kits to stitch up.

“Stacked Tea Cups” by Dimensions
Stitched on 18ct white Aida (hideous kit fabric)
with kit threads

Started 12 January 2019 – Finished 15 February 2019

Elizabeth’s Designs: Ladybug

This was a WIP from 2018, and all I had to do was to stitch on the ladybird charm … five minutes later and it was all finished! 🙂

“Ladybug” by Elizabeth’s Designs
Stitched on 32ct natural Belfast linen (I think)
with recommended threads
Started ? 2018 – Finished 15 February 2019

Keslyn’s: Santa’s Hat & Boots

Next was the April Christmas ornament in a Facebook JCS Christmas Ornament SAL. I really struggled with this one initially because of my ‘fuzzy head’, but I persevered and managed to finish it eventually – but oh boy it wasn’t much fun, and it took me a fair few days to complete it!

“Santa’s Hat and Boots” by Keslyn’s
(from the 2018 JCS Christmas Ornament issue)
Stitched one-over-one on 28ct white Lugana
with recommended DMC threads
but I attached small bells instead of the ‘Bead Landing Sticky Gems’

Laura J Perin: Flying Geese

After I finished all that over-one stitching, I started a new canvaswork project – Flying Geese by Laura J Perin. I thought the larger threads and canvas would be easier for my head to manage. It’s been a bit slow going, but hopefully this will be finished over the next couple of months.

Sweet Valentines

The great thing about taking an extra week off work after Christmas is having more time to stitch and have a general overdue tidy-up at home. I came across this wee chart that has been kitted up for about 12 years as I was tidying up a pile of stitching ‘stuff’ – I figured rather than putting it back in it’s storage box where it belongs, I’d just suck it up and get it into the Qsnaps to get it stitched up. It took me two days to finish, but I really love it. And that also means another new start and another finish ticked off my 19 in 19 challenge for the year … bonus!! 😀

“Sweet Valentines” by The Sweetheart Tree
Stitched on 28ct white lugana (I think!)
Changed the red thread colours to be 309 and 816 instead of the chart colours (which were 316 and 3726)
Started 6 Jan 2019 – Finished 8 Jan 2019
Stitch count: 40H x 40W

Last finishes of 2018, and first ones of 2019

I’ve come to realise today just how woeful my online activity has been over the last 12-18 months or so, and my online albums are missing a lot of information and projects haven’t been added at all … my blog used to be the ‘source of truth’ for all my projects and chart information etc, but not any more. After spending an entire day today doing a bit of a tidy-up (nowhere near finished yet though), and trawling through a few years of photos on my iPhone (!), it’s prompted me to add the details of my last finishes from the end of 2018, and the first finishes of the new year. So, without further ado, here are the details …

“Joy” by Rovaris
from the 2018 Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue
Stitched on 32ct Belfast linen with recommended DMC threads
Stitch count: 36 stitches high x 71 stitches wide
Started and finished 28 December 2018

“Special Delivery” by Pickle Barrel Designs
from the 2018 Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue
Stitched on 32ct Belfast linen with recommended DMC and Weeks Dye Works threads (except using DMC B5200 instead of WDW Whitewash)
Stitch count: 51H x 55W
Started 28 December 2018 – Finished 29 December 2018

Finished – Glendon Place: City Sidewalks ornament

“City Sidewalks” by Glendon Place
from the 2018 Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue
Stitched on 32ct Blue Sky hand-dyed Lugana by Hand Dyed Fabrics with Stephanie

Stitched with a mix of Weeks Dye Works and DMC, using my choice of beads because I didn’t have all the ones as charted
Stitch count: 78H x 68W
Started 29 December 2018 – Finished 2 January 2019

“Two Stags and a Star” by Blue Ribbon Designs
from the 2018 Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue
Stitched on 36ct evenweave from Sew-it-all

Stitched with recommended Weeks Dye Works, except using B5200
Stitch count: 57H x 37W
Started 3 January 2019 – Finished 5 January 2019

2019 WIPocalypse and craft goals

It’s that time when we start to plan out the year and plot out all those wishlists of lofty goals for our crafts. Mine are no less mental than normal and I’m already laughing heartily inside at all the items I want to tick off my list this year. In a nutshell, though, it all comes down to wanting to whittle down some older WIPs/UFOs while still having the flexibility to add some new projects into the list to provide continued interest and motivation.

I’ve just created a planning document mapping out all my SAL due dates and details, and information for upcoming face-to-face stitching groups … all I need to do now is to not let life take over and to actually remember to fill them in each month 😉

Anyway, here are my lofty goals, along with piccies to make it more interesting (while also giving me a visual kick in the pants as to how long some of these pictures have been around for without changing in the slightest) {hanging head in shame}.

WIP start/finish stats:

Stitching/needlework:

45 = Number of WIPs/UFOs @ 1 January 2019 (!!!)

Crochet:

6 = Number of WIPs @ 1 January 2019

Cross Stitch goals

  1. Quaker Diamonds by Rosewood Manor – I’d love to finish this one
  2. Egyptian Garden Mandala by Chatelaine – Entirely finish the stitching of at least one full corner (ie one full page of the chart)
  3. Red Lace Sewing Case by The Drawn Thread – add the felt/beads and do the finishing … and finally gift it to the intended recipient
  4. Three Kings by Mill Hill/Jim Shore – finish the three kings in the centre
  5. Quaker Christmas II by ByGone Stitches – finish the Let There be Peace on Earth motif in the centre
  6. Progress on at least three other WIPs/UFOs
  7. Ronald McDonald House charity XS
  8. 19 in 19 – Start a new HAED and stitch 19 colours on it
  9. 19 in 19 – 19 new starts
  10. 19 in 19 – 19 finishes
  11. 19 in 19 – some progress on 19 existing WIPs carried over from 2018
  12. Stitch a charity quilt block
  13. Stitch 12 Christmas ornaments

WIPs as they look today:

Embroidery (non-XS) goals

  1. Travel Cord Buddy by Michelle Marvig – I’d like to finish putting this together
  2. Hearts & Berries by Marg Low – I’d like to finish putting this together
  3. Make a Christmas Wish by Marg Low – I’d like to finish putting this together and framed before Christmas
  4. Stumpwork – choose one old stumpwork UFO and make some progress
  5. Start a new project from Inspirations magazines
  6. Make some progress on one of the 2018 patchwork retreat projects

WIPs as they look today:

Crochet

  1. Make a 1920s-style hat for the Napier Art Deco Festival
  2. Complete three crochet projects from “Crate Crochet”
  3. Start a shawl
  4. Finish my Atlanticus (mandala) blanket
  5. Restart my Spice of Life blanket
  6. Start a Briar Rose blanket
  7. Start a top (clothing)
  8. Start a crochet hook case
  9. Start a blanket for Brenda & Nigel
  10. Make a charity blanket for SPCA
  11. Start the Nuts About Squares CAL

WIPs as they look today:

Quilting/Sewing

  1. Make a small pincushion
  2. Start a queen-sized bed patchwork quilt for myself
  3. Start the Piece and Plenty BOM quilt
  4. Make a sewing machine cover
  5. Make a summer nightie
  6. Make a top (clothing)
  7. Choose three Pinterest projects to try (eg Project bags, Purses/pouches)

Stitchalongs/Challenges

  1. JCS Christmas Ornie Facebook SAL
  2. WIPocalypse
  3. Hallowe’en ornie SAL
  4. Gifted Gorgeousness
  5. Stitch from Stash on Facebook
  6. JK’s Groupies (AU/NZ) on Facebook – “19 in 19” (my choices are 19 new starts, 19 finishes, and use 19 colours in a project)
  7. JK’s Groupies (AU/NZ) on Facebook – monthly challenges

2018 WIPocalypse year in review

It’s been a year with less stitching done than normal, as my foray into the world of crochet has taken over my crafting mojo (but I’m not complaining). This post is a summary of my progress over the year, along with how I went with my 2018 goals.

WIP start/finish stats:

45 = Number of WIPs/UFOs @ 1 January 2018 (yikes!)
– 7 = Number of WIPs/UFOs completed in 2018
+ 1 = Number of new WIPs added in 2018
—-
39 = WIPs/UFOs balance

WIP finishes:

The seven WIPs I managed to finish in 2018 were:

  1. Mill Hill: Starfish
  2. Homespun Elegance: Starry Snowman
  3. Cindy Valentine: Bee Keeper Scissor Keeper & Fob
  4. Hardanger scissor fob
  5. Sue Hillis Designs: Spool Ornament
  6. Mirabilia: Red (done in blues)
  7. Ruth Schmuff Designs: Flight of the Bumblebees

New starts in 2018:

Out of all of the new starts I had in 2018, only one remains a WIP at the end of the year:

  1. Prairie Schooler: Eeek from Bump in the Night (finished)
  2. Lizzie*Kate: Spooky time freebie (finished)
  3. Lizzie*Kate: Very Merry ornie (finished)
  4. The Little Stitcher: Warm Hands, Warm Heart ornie (finished)
  5. Blue Ribbon Designs: Frosty Friends ornie (finished)
  6. Needle Delights Originals: Double Delights – Charbleu (finished)
  7. Anna-Marie Winter: Medley Miniature (canvaswork kit) (finished)
  8. Laura J Perin: Holiday Square freebie (finished)
  9. Northern Pine Designs: Earth Spirit (finished)
  10. Laura J Perin: Seaside Blues (finished)
  11. Periwinkle Promises: Blueberry needle case (finished)
  12. Elizabeth’s Designs: Ladybug (finished – just need to attach the charm)
  13. Rovaris: Joy ornament (finished)
  14. Pickle Barrel Designs: Special Delivery (finished)
  15. Nora Corbett: Dragonfly (Retreat project) – WIP

Other progress on WIPs:

While I didn’t manage to get these projects finished this year, I did manage a bit of progress – not sure they’ll be finished in 2019 either, but I’ll eventually keep chipping away at them slowly but surely.

2018 Goals

I didn’t want to set too many ‘goals’ this year because I have a tendency not to meet them … instead I thought of these goals being like the Pirate’s Code, ie more like ‘guidelines’ 😉 It was a lofty wishlist, full of my crafty hopes and dreams for the year – I managed to meet a fair few of them, but there were also many that weren’t touched …

Cross stitch and embroidery

Cross stitch WIPs:

  1. √ DONE Starfish by Mill Hill – goal was to complete it
  2. √ DONE Red by Mirabilia (in a blue conversion) – goal was to complete it
  3. √ DONE Quaker Diamonds by Rosewood Manor – goal was 20 hours (ie two rotation slots) or two larger motifs completed, and I managed to completed the entire bottom section
  4. X FAIL Red Lace Sewing Case by The Drawn Thread – goal was to add the felt/beads and do the finishing – I didn’t touch it
  5. X FAIL Egyptian Garden Mandala by Chatelaine – goal was to finish the bottom half – but I did manage to make some progress on one corner
  6. X FAIL Quaker Christmas II by ByGone Stitches – goal was to at least finish the Let There be Peace on Earth motif in the centre – I didn’t touch it
  7. X FAIL When Witches Go Riding by The Prairie Schooler – goal was to finish this – I didn’t touch it
  8. √ XS DONE Three Kings by Mill Hill/Jim Shore – goal was to finish two of the three kings in the centre
  9. √ DONE Progress on three other UFOs/WIPs – 1) Spool Ornament by Sue Hillis; 2) Starry Snowman ornie; and 3) Hardanger scissor fob.

Other needlework WIPs:

  1. √ DONE Flight of the Bumblebees by Ruth Schmuff – finish this by adding the embellishments
  2. X FAIL Hearts & Berries by Marg Low – goal was to finish this into the bag – I didn’t touch it
  3. X FAIL Make a Christmas Wish by Marg Low – goal was to finish this and get it framed before Christmas – I didn’t touch it
  4. X FAIL Travel Cord Buddy by Michelle Marvig – goal was to finish this – I didn’t touch it
  5. X FAIL Stumpwork – choose one old stumpwork UFO and make some progress – I didn’t touch it

New starts:

  1. √ DONE Start and finish at least two canvaswork projects – 1) Earth Spirit by Northern Pine Designs; 2) Holiday Square by Laura J Perin
  2. X FAIL Start a new HAED (or maybe two – one mini/QS and one larger one) – I didn’t start one, although it’s kitted up ready to go
  3. √ DONE Choose a project (or two) that has specialty stitches – eg hardanger, band sampler – Blueberry Sampler by Periwinkle Promises

Crochet

My goals here were much loftier to keep the momentum up while learning so that the lessons I learnt at the end of 2017 were more ingrained into my brain cells! Surprisingly I didn’t do to badly here!

  1. √ DONE Finish my striped blanket
  2. X FAIL Make at least one (hopefully different) granny square or other blanket square every week – started this but became bored quickly … I did make enough to put together for a charity blanket, though, at some point
  3. √ DONE Complete at least three months crochet projects from “Crate Crochet” – I think I managed to complete five of the main projects and all of the small extra projects in the beginners boxes
  4. √ DONE Make a coffee cup cuff
  5. X FAIL Small granny square pincushion – the crochet is finished, but it still needs to be made into a pincushion, and I just realised the centre flower is wrong and needs to be redone, so it’s back in the “failure” bucket!
  6. X FAIL Make a shawl – I didn’t start one
  7. √ DONE Start an Atlanticus (mandala) blanket – this was my highlight of 2018, being confident enough to tackle this one, a lofty goal indeed! It should be finished in 2019.
  8. X FAIL Restart my Spice of Life blanket

Quilting

  1. X FAIL Make some small pincushions
  2. X FAIL  very simple goal here of starting a queen-sized bed patchwork quilt for myself
  3. X FAIL Maybe start my Piece and Plenty quilt
  4. X FAIL Maybe start my The Blue Collection quilt (but highly unlikely)

Stitchalongs/Challenges

I think the two SALs that I did do only lasted 2-3 months for me – my intentions were good, but life just got in the way this year. Hopefully 2019 will be the year where I do much better!

  1. √ DONE WIPocalypse 2018 – my favourite challenge every year, I didn’t manage to post every month, but I did still continue posting
  2. X FAIL Smalls SAL – I didn’t do anything for this SAL
  3. X FAIL Hallowe’en Ornie SAL – I only managed two months of the SAL this year, which is woeful
  4. X FAIL Stitch from Stash 2018 – I didn’t keep track of my spending this year, but definitely had some splurges in sales.

As expected my goal achievements were definitely not great … but I enjoyed everything that I did do this year. Having the goals helped me to focus during the year to see how I was tracking, so it’s definitely something worth doing for 2019 – it made me have a flurry of activity towards the last quarter of the year when I realised how few of my goals had been achieved! 😉