January Challenge – Day 9 & shopping

Today I left a little later than I originally hoped, but I braved the rush and headed out to Ikea on the other side of Sydney … I love wandering around Ikea but absolutely detest the crowds that are inevitably present.  I still managed to pick up a few things that I wanted, though, including the main item I went for, a small TV cabinet, and a tall foldable clothes airer.  A new table lamp also jumped into the cart when I wasn’t looking!  As well as surviving Ikea, I also picked up a couple of items from Howard’s Storage, including a contraption that sits over your doors and allows you to hang coats etc off it … well, I couldn’t resist it, and it’s now proudly holding two scarves that Mum knitted for me, along with my cross stitch WIPs that are no longer gracing my Qsnaps – at least this way they’ll stay nice and flat and won’t require multiple ironing jobs (although the one on the top escaped the iron the first time round!!) … I also picked up a steamed pudding tin and a drinking bottle for when I get my fat carcass back into the gym this week …

After cooking up a big batch of brown rice for dinner and the freezer, I sat down in front of the electric fan and did a bit of stitching on my Day 9 project.  I had to laugh at one point, because my stitching reminded me of a stylized gherkin sitting on the fabric …

until I added a few more stitches and turned it into a stylized little hill 😉

It is, of course, the centre panel on the lady’s dress … but alas it will remain looking like a hill for quite some time …

January Challenge – Day 8

I had a really bad night’s sleep with my throbbing leg (compliments of my buggered back), and ended up sleeping in later than I expected to today, which means I didn’t bother braving the traffic to go to Ikea today – I absolutely detest trying to find a carpark at that shopping centre, so I’ll go if I can leave early and arrive around opening time.  Seeing as I still felt a bit run over during the day, I spent the entire day sat up in bed in front of the electric fan with needle in hand with project #8 of the January challenge.  This is probably the first one I’ve been quite happy to put down after a number of hours working on it – the fabric is a standard Dimensions kit cardboard Aida, and doesn’t make the stitching particularly pleasurable (I should’ve tried washing it first, but didn’t think about that until it was too late!).  Anyway, here’s my progress from today:

After putting Tiger Reflections to one side, I started another new start, this one an old Christmas ornament by CCN called Winter’s Eve – hopefully I’ll get chance to finish this one over the next couple of days, as it’s relatively simple and easy stitching 🙂

And that’s it for me for the evening – time to get back into bed, although I can’t guarantee there’ll be much more stitching done this evening!

January Challenge – Day 7

Alas, I didn’t get to sit down properly tonight until 10.30pm, after catching up some FB gameplay and cooking a big pot of “Dragon Curry” (not actually made of Dragons, but my Mum’s curry recipe).  The outcome is not much stitching done yet again tonight – and now it’s half past midnight so not much energy to post an update … alas this will therefore be another “fly-by” posting … and here’s tonight’s paltry progress:

I’m now on a 4-day break after requesting 2 RDOs next week, so I should get a bit more substantial stitching done during the next 4 days – although I have some other plans as well, including heading out to battle Ikea crowds on the other side of Sydney, starting going back to the gym on Monday to start some exercise therapy for my buggered back, and taking down the Christmas decorations.  All-in-all I’m looking forward to it! 😀

January Challenge – Day 5

I was very naughty today, as I was in the mood to stay home and do some chores … and lots more stitching … so when it was time to go into work I called the office and asked if I could have a last-minute RDO … no pressure, as I could just as easily jump in the car and come to work, but I’d really appreciate having the day off.  It got approved (yippee!), and I’ve spent the day mostly stitching, but also catching up on some blog reading, helping my elderly neighbour move her paintings around on her lounge room walls (bless her), doing 3 loads of laundry, ironing all the linens for the rest of the January Challenge pieces, and attaching the canvas to the stretcher bars… and did I mention lots more stitching?  … so, all-in-all a very productive day haha.

Seeing as the canvas was nicely tacked down today, I opted to spend a great deal of the day stitching on my canvaswork piece – and I’m amazed at just how fast it’s been stitching on this one, the piece grew at a most phenomenal rate!!  It’s one of those designs that is pretty much entirely in satin stitch and in a consistent pattern, which means once you’ve got one set of stitches done you can pretty much continue the repeats without having to check the pattern … sheer bliss!  So without any further ado, here is the MASSIVE progress on today’s challenge piece (designed by From Nancy’s Needle).

The blank spaces above are for a pearl cotton that I’m missing … but it’s on order so hopefully will be arriving over the next couple of weeks … hopefully …

I’m not sure which project will get started tomorrow … we’ll just have to see which fabric falls into my hands tomorrow night, but I’m out for dinner at a friend’s farewell party so don’t expect too much progress tomorrow, I’ll be lucky if I get a dozen stitches in for a change!

One other thing I did do today was to put Sapphire Star back onto the stretcher bars to tighten up the tension, so that’s not ready to be picked up once again after the 16th of January … 😀

Crazy January Challenge – Day 4

You can tell I’m back at work when I don’t get to sit down with my needle and thread until 9pm … on normal days I’d pass on the stitching, but seeing as I’m committed to doing this challenge, I forced myself to pick up LHN’s Ladybug Ladybug and managed to put in 2 3/4 hours into it 😀

I was also thrilled to see a recent purchase arrive in my PO Box this morning – the great thing about ordering locally, even though it’s more expensive, is that it doesn’t cost much more to pay for Express Post and even though last Friday was a Post Office holiday, and I didn’t order the items until last Thursday, even with yesterday being a nationwide public holiday they were still waiting for me!  The service from Janine at Colours Down Under really rocks!!!  While I still have one pair of Qsnaps and a couple of threads on back order (needed for the border of Winter Snapperland), I’m absolutely thrilled that I now have another couple of Qsnaps to use for my projects and not having to remove every project every night (especially those that won’t take long to finish) – oops a couple of charts jumped into my shopping basket as well … Scatter Christmas by Shepherd’s Bush and Simply Halloween by Waxing Moon Designs … gotta make the most of the postage right? LOL.

Rightio, on that note it’s time to call it a night and hit the hay … a bit later than expected, but that can be blamed on Season 2 of Fringe and the need to start today’s challenge piece (but more so on Fringe, as I wanted to see the last episode on the DVD, which means only one more DVD for Season 2 to go!) 😉

January Challenge – Day 3

I couldn’t resist putting a few more stitches into Shepherd’s Bush’s Baby Bug Ball this morning – I can’t believe how much I am in love with that design!  It is soooo not my normal choice of stitching project, but I absolutely and totally adore it!  I didn’t stitch the next few alphabet letters as it’s supposed to use a thread colour that is way too pale on the fabric – I thought I’d wait to see what colours were left over at the end, and I would replace that colour with one of the darker greens (but I don’t want to use it yet in case I run out!).  After the 15 days are up, this is is going to be one of the first getting revisited, I think! 😀

I was good, however, and didn’t continue stitching on BBB, and continued to meet the challenge goals by putting a few stitches into Victoria Sampler’s Crimson Fire Sampler.  This one is a major challenge for me, as it’s been forever since I stitched any hardanger or pulled/withdrawn thread stitches, so it will give the grey matter a run for its money this year!  I wanted to get this stitched up, though, so I can pass the chart on to an online pal who showed interest in it a couple of years ago (assuming she still wants it, of course!).

Seeing as I’ve handled pretty much all I can cope with today with these specialty stitches (probably thanks to the 3am finish this morning), I thought I’d put it to one side and pick up something simple, and I’m hoping to get a few more stitches put into the Autumn freebie by the Stitcherhood that I started late last year 🙂

Over the last few days I’ve also been working on a couple of my listed items on my 1001 things in 101 days – including putting together a custom recipe book.  I went with something simple, and just put together a ringbinder with plastic sleeves and subject dividers – that way when I find a scrummy recipe in one of my books I’ll re-type it up into a one-page format and will add it to my favourite recipes folder.  Seeing as I’m also trying to cook something out of every cookbook I own, hopefully I’ll also find some new favourites to help fill out the sections.  The great thing about this format is that I can take pages out individually to cook from, and the sleeves protect the recipe and can either be wiped down in case of spillage or just replaced with the recipe left intact 🙂

I think I may also try to make a quilted book-cover for this at some stage, but that may not be this year … the goal of putting the book together in the first place is good enough for me to tick this challenge off the list as “achieved”.

One of the latest recipes I added was some simple finger food sandwiches from the Aussie Women’s Weekly book “Finger Food” – these were wolfed down recently at our work’s shared morning tea … I thought I’d share the goodness with you here (AWW books are some of my absolute favourites on my bookshelf):

SMOKED SALMON, CAPER AND DILL TRIANGLES

Triangles can be made 2 hours ahead.  Storage: Covered in refrigerator.

200g packaged cream cheese
2 t lemon juice
1 T fresh dill sprigs
¼ t drained capers
12 slices white bread
180g sliced smoked salmon

Blend or process cheese, juice, dill and capers until well combined.  Spread 1 slice of bread with cheese mixture, top with a layer of salmon.

Spread a second slice of bread with cheese mixture, place cheese side down on salmon.  Spread top with cheese mixture, top with a layer of salmon.

Spread a third slice of bread with cheese mixture, place cheese side down on salmon.  Trim crusts from sandwich, cut into 8 triangles.  Repeat with remaining bread, cheese mixture and salmon.

Makes 32

Challenge Day 1

Before I started my Crazy January Challenge yesterday morning, I decided to locate some missing threads from previously kitted up projects, and making an inventory so I knew where they were when if I needed them again – this was in part due to the fact that I knew I had two skeins of NPI silk that were needed for The Goode Huswife chart in my challenge, and sure enough I found them hiding in the kit for Drawn Threads’ Three Friends design.  I now have a lovely Excel spreadsheet showing where each thread is located.  This has partly come about from when I was housesitting 3 years ago and had all my stash put into storage for 9 months – I kitted up many, many projects with the fabric already cut out and ready to go, and as many of the threads as possible, and they were placed in individual sealable plastic bags and then in boxes within easy reach of my storage unit … the idea was that all I had to do was put my hand into the box when I needed something to stitch, and just had to pull something out and start stitching!

Well, I’m ashamed to say that there are STILL 3 drawers full of those projects (plus the equivalent of another drawer that is out and about in my room awaiting stitching), not to mention all the new ones I’ve since kitted up since moving to Sydney (ahem) … I’m slowly starting to work my way through them, though, and intend to make a decent dent into the Christmas ornies that were kitted up ready with their working copies from previous JCS ornie magazines.  (Previously there were 4 big file boxes so it has been condensed somewhat.)  I was surprised how many needlerolls were in there ready for stitching, though – this stemmed from a SAL that Katrina was doing a while ago stitching a needleroll every month … maybe that will become my challenge for 2012 … 😛

Anyway, back to my 2011 challenge … I eventually picked up my first project for the challenge, DMC’s Rainbow Lorikeets.  I decided that I refused to do housework all day, and intended staying in my jim-jams all day watching TV and stitching … which I did {{insert happy sigh here}}.  Alas, I was so engrossed in watching TV it took me a while to realise that I had made a big blue with the kit threads – what I thought was Yellow Green Lt thread was in fact the Moss Green (although why the hell you would call something moss green that actually IS yellow-green is beyond me) … I didn’t realise until I had stitched a huge amount of the adjoining green, and then looked and thought “what the…?” – sure enough, a quick review of the chart piccie confirmed my worst suspicions …

Now I do hope the old wive’s tale isn’t true, that whatever you do on 1 January you will continue to do all year (which is partly why I chose to stitch all day in the first place) … ‘cos I really don’t fancy frog-stitching every single project I start this year!  Oh well, I persevered and unpicked and restitched straight away while watching Dirty Dancing (sad I can even remember which movie sparked the frogging), and by the time I switched off at 1am this morning I’d made pretty good headway!  Thankfully the thread I had misjudged and had to be frogged is a DMC thread, so I can replace from my stash, as I had used every strand up in the original stitching … phew!  Ah, the joys of stitching from kits 😉

Of course now I’m champing at the bit to get it finished, because it’s so close to being finished I can taste it … so I think I’ll do that this morning, then I’ll start my next project immediately afterwards, which will probably be another small one – and tomorrow I’ll start one of the bigger designs.

Christmas finishes & Crazy January Challenge

As mentioned in my previous post, thanks to season 1 of Fringe and a very lazy day yesterday where I didn’t even get dressed, I managed to finish both of my WIPs from Christmas:

Heart in Hand Needleart-Wee Valentine Bird
“Valentine Bird” by Heart in Hand Needleart
stitched on 32ct Lambswool linen by Wichelt
with recommended threads except subbed DMC 926 for GAST Straw Bonnet
added a gold heart charm as I didn’t have a suitable heart button

Blue Ribbon Designs-Perched on a Pumpkin
“Perched on a Pumpkin” by Blue Ribbon Designs
from JCS Halloween issue 2010
stitched on 32ct Willow Green Belfast linen
with recommended WDW threads but subbed DMC 310 for Mascara

I also had time to start one more that I’m about 2/3 through (Autumn freebie by The Stitcherhood) – another few episodes of Fringe and I’ll see this one finished as well:

Autumn freebie 27Dec10

Then it’ll be time to pick up Bittersweet Seasons once again – although I now realise that I don’t have the Mill Hill beads for this one (I really am useless!!!!!), which means I guess it won’t be a 2010 finish like I’d hoped.

I’ve also been updating my stitching list for the Crazy January Challenge 2011 – I’ve decided I might stitch Jardin Prive’s Christmas chart for Brenda and Nigel one Christmas, so I opted not to start it on Christmas Day (which was my original stitching plan), and have added it to my January stitching list as well.  I’ve also added Katie’s Christmas gift (Prairie Moon’s Christmas) and a teddy bear group that I want to stitch for Brenda’s birthday this year … not entirely sure I’ll get all these done this year, but it’ll be fun trying!  I think the hardest thing for me will be to not start any other medium/large designs until I’ve finished these ones – there are still a good dozen or so that are screaming to be started on top of this 15 (not to mention the minimum of 12 ornies I want to stitch next year!!) 😉

1. Waxing Moon Designs – Halloween Short Stack
2. The Goode Huswife – With My Needle (modified, without the wording)
3. From Nancy’s Needle – Lavender Blue Celtic Knot Quilt (canvaswork)
4. The Victoria Sampler – Crimson Fire Sampler
5. Bent Creek – Winter Snapperland
6. Dimensions kit – Tiger Reflections
7. Judy Odell – My Treasures Workstation
8. Little House Needleworks – Ladybug, Ladybug
9. Jardin Privé – Christmas
10. DMC – Baby Lorikeets
11. Prairie Moon – Christmas
12. JBW Designs – Autumn Harvest
13. Shepherd’s Bush – Baby Bug Ball
14. Leisure Arts – Teddy Bear Reunion
15. Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches – Raphael’s Raspberries

And on that note, I’d better get my A into G and get my first load of laundry into the washing machine (as it’s washing day for me today), and pick up a few groceries, as it’s back to work for me tomorrow (no rest for the wicked) … then I think I’ll just have to finish off season 1 of Fringe and finish off that Autumn freebie 🙂

Crazy January 2011 Challenge

Yep, I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring and complete the Crazy January 2011 Challenge, as started by Minna.  I’ve chosen designs that are a reasonable mix of designers and stitching styles, and also of medium size so that the challenge is do-able.  I’m hoping that these projects will also still allow me the flexibility and time to work on some existing WIPs at the same time, plus at least one Christmas ornament a month, as that’s another challenge I’m picking up again next year.

Anyway, without any more waffling, here are the current choices for my 15 projects for January – I can’t say with 100% certainty that one or two won’t change before January 1st, but I’m relatively happy with this list so far.  And here they are:

1. Waxing Moon Designs – Halloween Short Stack
2. The Goode Huswife – With My Needle (modified, without the wording)
3. From Nancy’s Needle – Lavender Blue Celtic Knot Quilt (canvaswork)
4. The Victoria Sampler – Crimson Fire Sampler
5. Little House Needleworks – Ladybug, Ladybug
6. Dimensions kit – Tiger Reflections
7. Judy Odell – My Treasures Workstation
8. Bent Creek – Winter Snapperland
9. JBW Designs – Autumn Harvest
10. DMC – Baby Lorikeets
11. The Prairie Schooler – When Witches Go Riding
12. Just Nan – Trick or Treat Box
13. Shepherd’s Bush – Happy Pumpkin Needle Roll
14. Shepherd’s Bush – Baby Bug Ball
15. Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches – Raphael’s Raspberries

On the short list are also the following that I’ve love to complete sooner rather than later:

  • Rosewood Manor – Quaker Diamonds
  • JBW Designs – English Plum Pudding
  • Lizzie*Kate – Needle Nick
  • Linda Barry – Elizabethan Treasures
  • Northern Pine Designs – Ebb Tide
  • Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches – Golden Garden Sweet Bag
  • Fancy Work – Lavender Rose Sewing Case