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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 🙂

 

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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!!

 

November visit home & stitching finishes

In November it was my best friend’s birthday – she’d begged me to fly over for the occasion, and after selling my shares and having a wee bit of a windfall I managed to get there for the big day.  It was wonderful hanging out for a few days with my bestie at her home just outside Nelson – we’ve been best friends since we were 10 years old, and even though we rarely stay in touch these days with visits and phone calls, it feels like the years disappear when we do manage to catch up again.  I love her dearly.  Here’s a photo of the two of us with her (and my adopted) Mum, Doreen.  That’s one huge piece of my childhood history in that one photo! 😀

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In November I also FINALLY finished my wedding gift for my dear friend Elie and his bride Caroline … their wedding was in 2012, so it was only three years {{cough}} overdue!! 😉  While I’m not 100% happy with it, Elie adored it when I gave it to him (but unfortunately forgot to snap a photo of it framed).  This was a very personal gift, as Elie’s favourite author is Kahlil Gibran, so I chose some pieces of his work for the top two quotes.  The colour of the roses was to match the wedding invitation, and the bottom quote is directly from their wedding invite as well.  The Arabic wording means “a thousand blessings”, and as they are both Lebanese it was another bit of personalisation (I charted that up myself).  I have to admit, though, that I’m really glad this is one is finished now, and even more so that all the effort was appreciated by the groom 😀  Sorry for the poor photos, for love nor money I couldn’t get a decent shot of it!

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Finally, I joined in a “Winter/Fall” Exchange with a Facebook group.  Following is the item them I sent to my exchange partner.  It’s been on my wishlist to stitch for myself, so I’ll definitely be doing this one again for me some time in the near future while the chart is still out … just need to decide on the fabric to use for my one.

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“Winter Needle Roll” by Heart in Hand Needleart
Stitched on 32ct hand-dyed Belfast linen by Countrystitch (colour TBC)
using mostly recommended threads

A male work colleague flew home to NZ for a flying visit, and ended up in a charity shop of some sort – he came home with a couple of little treats for me as he knows I love to stitch … I was a bit gobsmacked at his kind thought, and think I’ll leave these in the desk drawer to do a spot of lunchtime stitching in the office in the New Year 🙂

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Over the last month or so I’ve also been taking part in a Facebook ingredient cooking challenge – it’s been great fun trying to find recipes for the weekly main ingredient, and it’s been giving me a lot more confidence getting back into cooking again.  That’s something I want to do a lot more of in 2016 – cooking from scratch!  I’ve always enjoyed cooking when I’m in the mood, and oh my goodness food tastes SO much better when it’s cooked from scratch … so 2016 will see my cooking progress continue as I do the weekly challenges, if nothing else!

And the last photo I’ll finish this post with is me dressed up for a bit of fun in the office – I dressed up in my old Christmas tree dress outfit and handed out sweets/lollies at work … including calling into my favourite coffee shop where I have a great laugh with one of the baristas (who’s in the photo – and the photo is his, so you can blame him for the caption on it! LOL).

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Latest stitching efforts (picture heavy)

As I mentioned in my first ‘return from the dead’ post last week, I’ve managed to do a spot of sporadic stitching here and there over recent months – often the sessions were weeks apart, and each spurt of stitching energy was short-lived.  Anyhow, here are the updates and the WIPs and finishes that happened while I’ve been away …

It seems I never showed the final finish of this piece, which I finished back at the end of January:

Autumn Leaves by The Prairie Schooler

“Autumn Leaves” by The Prairie Schooler
Finished 25 January 2015
Stitched on 32ct Lambswool linen by Wichelt
with recommended DMC threads

Here’s one I managed to finish in June – which now means I’ve stitched everything in that particular leaflet.  I was going to on-sell it or use it as a trade chart, but think it may come in handy for any future exchanges that I do, I think some of these squares are really cute:

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“Autumn Leaves” by The Prairie Schooler
Finished around 14 June 2015
Stitched on 32ct Lambswool linen by Wichelt
with recommended DMC threads

At some point I decided a change of pace was in order, and I picked up a canvaswork project to stitch on.  This was my next finished piece, finishing it in early July – and one of the first times in ages I truly enjoyed my stitching experience, even with all the metallic ribbons!  Unfortunately I had run out of the turquoise ribbon, or it would have been finished much sooner!

Navajo by Northern Pine Designs

“Navajo by Northern Pine Designs”
Finished on 5 July 2015
Stitched on 18ct eggshell mono canvas
with recommended threads

Next up are all the current works in progress … I’ve just signed up to a bunch of other stitch-alongs in one of the Facebook groups I belong to, so there will soon be a pile more WIPs added to the pile – I’ve chosen SALs where I already have a project that is high up on my to-do list, so it’s motivating me to start stitching them.  Anyway, in the meantime here are the current WIPs:

“Flight of the Bumblebees” by Ruth Schmuff – this one is a very old UFO that I’ve started making a conscious effort to get finished.  Unfortunately, as per my normal luck, I’ve run out of one of the gold metallic braids, so I’m waiting for a stash parcel to arrive with the replacement (I had a splurge a month ago to finish kitting up some other charts that were missing threads).  I”m pretty pleased with how this one is going, though, and it doesn’t have too much more to go before it’s finished.

Flight of the Bumblebees by Ruth Schmuff

“Blue Birds” by Laura J Perin – While I was on a ‘canvaswork roll’, I decided to drag out a freebie from Laura J Perin I’ve had sitting in my stash for many years.  Sadly, though, I ran out of the navy Pebbly Perle that was used around the border, so once again another design sits unfinished.  A wonderful fellow stitcher, though, came to my rescue quickly and sent me a card of the thread I need.  As soon as I find my card of blue Tiara thread, which has apparently gone into hiding, I’ll be able to finish this one off pretty quickly.  I just LOVE the colours of this one!  If anyone is interested, the chart is still available for download at the Rainbow Gallery site.

Blue Birds by Laura J Perin

Wedding Sampler for Elie – This is a self-designed wedding sampler that I’m stitching for a close male friend.  I struggled the whole way with this one, so I haven’t pulled my finger out and started it, and the wedding was nearly 3 years ago!!  I’m still not 100% with the fabric and thread choice, but I’ve decided in this case I’m my own worst critic, and I should just continue on with it.  I think the groom will love it regardless of how it looks – the contents of the sampler are very personal to him, so hopefully it will be treasured.  I’ve shown a picture of what the whole thing will look like once it’s finished.  The photo isn’t very good at all, the fabric is a buttery creamy colour.

Elie's wedding sampler

Elie's wedding sampler

“Halloween Mystery Sampler” by Lizzie*Kate – This one was a gift from my Mum for Christmas when the designs were first released.  I also purchased the Tin Roof fabric that was recommended for this one, but really didn’t like it at all, so it sat in a box for ages while I found something else.  I’m still not 100% with this choice either, but I certainly like it a lot better than the Tin Roof one!  I started this one as part of a Sampler SAL, and really enjoying stitching it!

Halloween Mystery Sampler by Lizzie*Kate

“Quaker Christmas II – Songs of the Season” by ByGone Stitches – This is another one I’m really struggling with, as I can’t stand the fabric I chose to stitch it on.  It’s on a 35ct Weeks Dye Works fabric, and it’s just dreadful – it feels like I’m stitching on an old rag!  Anyway, the chart itself is at least enjoyable to work on, I just need to forget about the immense size of this one and keep focusing on one motif at a time.  I haven’t worked on it for well over a year, then when Mum came to visit a month or so ago I sat and stitched on it while we were both sick and watching TV all day.  It was a good design to work on when you didn’t have to concentrate too much!  I actually managed to do a lot more than I thought I had … I’m now almost 3 pages down, and only about 12 left to go … haha.

Quaker Christmas II - Songs of the Season by ByGone Stitches

As to what’s coming up next, there are a lot of decisions to be made … lots of SALs and lots of designs to choose from that will fit within each SAL – some decisions are going to be easier than others, that’s for sure!  I’ll do a separate post for my own sake so that I can refer back to it and help myself choose closer to the start times!  But I’ll also be continuing to work on these as well, as all my SALs chosen don’t have set finish dates … that means I can easily slot them into my rotation along with these other projects as well 🙂

Mixed bag of all sorts

I’ve been suffering from vertigo the last few weeks, so not a huge amount of stitching has been happening around here – I returned to work two weeks ago, and it really takes it out of me getting through the day, so I’ve been coming home and pretty much going straight to bed.  Last weekend, though, I managed to put a few stitches into my English Garden Sampler.  I managed to complete all the over-one stitching of the garden gate, and most of the foliage on the right-hand side of the gate … sadly it took the entire weekend last weekend to complete just those few stitches, so it’s going to take me quite some time to see an actual ‘finish’ of this one!  It’s one of my oldest UFOs, and I’m still in love with the design after all these years, so I’m still keen to see this one finished sooner rather than later 🙂

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I finally bit the bullet and ordered a skin for my Kindle … and it arrived this week.  Last night I ‘pimped’ my Kindle, and I totally adore it!  I can definitely recommend DecalGirl for their skins, that’s for sure, and it certainly won’t be the last I buy I’m sure … I’m starting to eye up laptop skins now too 😉

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Work-wise I had a really awesome chat with my team’s “Head of” yesterday … he told me how impressed he’s been with my work with the latest project I worked on and the responsibilities I took on, and he’s going to see if he can do something about my pay rate as he feels my pay doesn’t accurately reflect the type of work I’m now doing and what he will be asking me to do in the future … you could have knocked me over with a feather!  It’s really nice to be so recognised for the work you do.  Will have to see what comes of it over the coming year, I guess 🙂

And lucky last for this post is an update on Dad … sadly he’s severely depressed, but understandably so.  He never shows his emotions, but has been spending a lot of time sitting in his chair and crying, the poor thing.  When Mum raised the issue with his surgeon he just said he needs to speak to his own GP about it.  Unfortunately the surgeon also doesn’t know why he’s still oozing pus etc from his stomach … 7 months after his surgeries!!!  It’s no wonder the poor old thing is so miserable within himself!  The surgeon said the only thing they can do is to open him up again, reverse the ileostomy bag, and have a look around while they’re in there to see where it’s coming from.  He also said, though, that Dad is in such bad shape at the moment that it is unlikely he will survive another surgery … so it’s a catch 22 😦

I’m hoping to fly over in a couple of weeks to visit and see if I can drag him out of the house for a few hours – although that would take a miracle in itself!  He told me a couple of months ago on the phone that he missed us popping down to the cafe for a coffee and chat when he was in the hospital (I used to take him down in a wheelchair).  So what I thought of doing is driving him into Auckland city and perhaps taking to a beach-front cafe at Kohimarama or somewhere else to sit and have a coffee and chat with a nice view.  He’s a stubborn old bugger, though, so it will take some convincing to get him out of the house!  I also want to talk about Enduring Powers of Attorney for them both, and all those horrible talks that are really important but are really difficult to tackle … things like getting all the life insurance policy details etc and getting a few more ducks in a row … not expected to be the most fun trip, but it needs to be done, I think …

And on that note I guess I should get my A into G and get away from the PC keyboard … time to go do some grocery shopping and a few chores … it’s laundry day, so I’d best get cracking and get on with it!!

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This week’s theme is ”Silly” and this one is in honour of Dad from his better days.

dad the fairy

Last finishes for 2012 & First for 2013

We managed to have a wonderful Christmas Day with some of our closest family friends (who are closer than family to us in most respects), and Dad managed to have a good couple of days before he was whisked away to hospital by ambulance late on 28 December.  Here is our ‘gang’ on Christmas Day:

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With Dad in and out of hospital like a jack-in-a-box the last week we haven’t been able to leave home much at all … which has meant a reasonable amount of stitching time for me.  Unfortunately I was incredibly unprepared for this trip home and I just quickly chucked what I thought were some fully kitted up projects that were relatively small into my carry-on bag … only to find when I got here that one was totally missing fabric, and almost all of them were missing half the over-dyed threads!  I had ordered them from 123stitch and they had just arrived a bare 24 hours before I left, but I forgot to pack them as well so they’re still sitting at home in Sydney …

In the meantime, though, I’ve managed to start and complete a couple of small projects over Christmas after raiding Mum’s stash of DMC so I could finish kitting them up (at least I’d brought a couple that used DMC!!) 🙂

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“Blossoms & Bluebirds” by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 32ct Lambswool Wichelt linen
with recommended DMC
(but I’m thinking of removing the 3371 border and just back-stitching it instead
as it has totally overpowered the pretty blue border)

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“Ma Boite a Tresors” by Cmon monde
stitched on 32ct white Belfast linen
with recommended Atalie and DMC threads
(just need to find some ABC buttons for it)

I also made a start on a small Easter one (my first stitching choice for my holidays) but I’m really unhappy with the colours in the kit – I want to change the big pink egg to be blue, but there isn’t enough Old Blue Paint in the kit threads and nowhere to buy from locally over the Christmas holidays.  I’ve looked at some of the other blue threads that I brought with me and some are great, but just don’t suit the other kit colours.  This morning I woke up feeling very tempted to just change some of the other colours as well, but that would probably mean unpicking the entire border … will have to mull that one over a bit further, I think … but in the meantime I’ve placed another 123stitch order with some things for Mum and I with some other threads, so fingers crossed they arrive before I fly home again!

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The final finish I have is my first finish for 2013 – I managed to put the last stitches into it at 12.30am this morning, just after the New Year was celebrated (which for me was me in the bedroom wishing the TV a Happy New Year as the oldies were both asleep).  This has been a UFO for longer than I care to admit … I tried to replicate a biscornu I’d already stitched, but the purple thread was much, much paler than when I originally stitched it and seems to have faded over time as well – the turquoise I’d originally used was WAY too bright so after stitching about half of the first side I chucked it into the naughty corner where it sat forlornly for at least 2 years.  I (well actually Mum) finally unpicked all the bright turquoise and after deciding I didn’t have any well-matched over-dyed threads in my stash I resorted to pulling some of Mum’s DMC out and opted for 597 as my colour of choice.  It’s really nice to finally have this one out of the stitching pile and into the finishing pile – as soon as I get home it will get made up into its final form and sent off to a new home along with some long-overdue promised goodies.

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I still have another few projects left to be stitched, but sadly they really need the missing threads – in the meantime Mum and I popped up to the local Spotlight store for a piece of 14ct Aida and 32ct white Belfast linen so I can at least start my Round Robin which is due for posting out on 1 February and also start a charity quilt square (will have to raid Mum’s DMC yet again, though).  I have a lot of SALs and other challenges to work on this year, but they will all have to be delayed until I return home, as I didn’t bring any of my SAL challenge pieces with me … we find out on Thursday whether Dad can have surgery and if so when that will happen, and will probably work over here for a short while (I brought my work laptop with me just in case).  Either way this week will likely be my final free week for lots of stitching time … it’s been wonderful while it’s lasted, though, and I really need to make more time for it in 2013 to give myself a bit more work/life balance! 🙂

Finally, here’s hoping that 2013 is a better one for many of us who struggled in 2012 … I hope for everyone it is a year filled with stitchy goodness, lots of fun and laughter, love and friendship, not to mention good health and prosperity!

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