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 😉
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 😉
I don’t know where the year has gone already – I just realised I haven’t posted an update since the very start of the year. I wish I could say I was too busy progressing on my WIPs, but in all honesty I’ve been dealing with depression and a crazy time at work. After being stood down from work yesterday and being moved to working two days a week, it could be the impetus that I need to change my routine and kick me out of my depressive rut – or it will increase it, I guess – time will tell. I do know that I won’t be able to afford any of my bills or put food on the table some weeks for a while, but I also do know that I have a huge stash that is going to see me through these unprecedented tough times – as long as I have a roof over my head!
Anyway, enough of the doom and gloom – time to answer the year’s questions to date and work out if I have an update to show …
In honor of “Leap Year,” tell the story of a time you had to make some sort of a “leap” in stitching – taking the chance on a new style of stitching, attending a meetup or class, etc.
When I lived in Auckland I used to attend classes all the time at my LNS – it took me out of my comfort zone all the time and I got to experience so many different techniques in a supportive environment. I miss those classes so very much! I’m very introverted so it was a big step for me to sign-up to classes on my own, but I’m so very glad I did. I managed to do classes on stumpwork, hardanger, surface embroidery and more … geez I really do miss that so much!
Have you ever adopted a piece from someone else or gave up a piece to someone else? Which piece and why?
Yes, I adopted a Marjolein Bastin cross-stitched piece from someone who had fallen out of love with it. I still haven’t finished stitching it, but it will get done one day, even if it’s to donate to charity as fundraising for one of the animal shelter groups.
Progress on goals
Um, yeah … not so much really, considering we’re already a quarter of the way through the year! One or two items have been done, or started, though, so all is not entirely lost!
Make progress on three canvaswork projects (WIPs or new starts) – 1) I started Banded by Bargello by Kathy Rees as a Mystery SAL new start
Make progress on a crochet blanket – I had a new start of start of Marnie’s Garden by Hooked on Sunshine for a friend … not sure that was the intention for this goal, though, to start a new one 😉
Finish at least three projects from Crate Crochet – 1) February 2020 box is done – Emily’s Cowl
Finish at least one project from Crochet Society – a hexagon cushion is in progress, it just needs to be put together
Complete 12 ornaments for Just Cross Stitch ornament SAL (Facebook) – 1) January is in progress, and has been since well um early January, it’s kinda stalled ‘cos I’m not enjoying it
Make some bat wraps and joey pouches for wildlife rescue – Done, I made a heap of joey pouches and hanging bags (photo to follow)
Sew an item of clothing – Done … can’t believe I managed it after all these years of not sewing, and I was pretty damned chuffed with myself, I have to say!
Introduce yourself, your projects, and any goals you have for the year!
I’m in my 50s and work full-time as a web publisher for an airline. I currently live in Sydney, Australia, which I’ve started to love thanks to having a great friendship network with fellow stitchers, but my home will probably always be Auckland, New Zealand where I grew up and spent most of my life.
I’ve dabbled in lots of crafts over the years, but cross stitch remains my one constant and which makes me the most relaxed at the end of a long work day. I love learning new things, so I like to dabble in specialty stitches and other techniques. I haven’t focused on this area of my crafts for a long time, though, so I’m hoping 2020 will be the year to kick-start my energy and enthusiasm for that again – I’m always happiest when I’m learning something new.
Goals for 2020
This year I’m kicking the year off with 56 craft WIPs/UFOs, which includes needlework and crochet projects. After last year’s pitiful efforts, I’m trying to learn from my mistakes and keep my goals simple (and hopefully achievable) this year.
Progress on 12 WIPs/UFOs (aiming for a different one each month)
Finish Quaker Diamonds
Finish Three Kings
Make progress on three canvaswork projects (WIPs or new starts)
Start a bed quilt
Make progress on a crochet blanket
Finish at least three projects from Crate Crochet
Finish at least one project from Crochet Society
Finish at least one project from KnitCrate
Complete 12 ornaments for Just Cross Stitch ornament SAL (Facebook)
Finish-finish at least 12 items in my finishing pile
Stitch at least one charity quilt block
Finish and frame the Ronald McDonald charity stitching
Make some bat wraps and joey pouches for wildlife rescue
Sew an item of clothing
Make progress on/start at least three projects with specialty stitches or non-cross stitch techniques (eg stumpwork, hardanger, etc)
Start a HAED
I also intend starting a rotation again this year to keep me more focused. This year, though, I want to ensure I have a rotation slot or monthly time allocated to new starts for gifts – I have a number of projects I’ve been wanting to stitch as gifts for years now, so it’s time to start getting those stitched. I also want to ensure I give myself time to enjoy other pursuits and not just cross stitch and crochet.
And to kick off the year, here’s my list of current WIPs and their approx status (rounded up to the nearest 5%) – some of these I may scrap and start again, especially those at 5% for various reasons, and some may be offered up for rehoming. But for now, this is where they’re all at …
My WIPs – status @ 1 Jan 2020
Ronald McDonald charity
Mia Mermaid (retreat project)
English Garden Sampler
Nature’s Resting Place
Mediterranean Village scene
Egyptian Garden Mandala
When Witches Go Riding
Quaker Christmas II
Butterlies and Hearts needleroll
Just Cross Stitch
Le Jardin Silk Sampler
Quaker Flowers strawberry emery
Topiary tree bookmark
Bluebeard’s Princess Mirabella
Lavender & Lace
The Tea Room
Make a Christmas Wish
Berry Delightful Bag
Wool hot water bottle cover
Summer fruits pincushion
Wool beehive needlebook
Bullion rose facecloth
Long stitch frogs
Vicki’s cot quilt
Stumpwork needlework accessory – thimble pip
Honesty and Heartsease
Pomegranates and Beetle
Laura J Perin
Beginners beanie (box 6)
Granny Square pincushion
Hooked on Sunshine
Maria’s Blue Crayon
Coastal Indoor Rug
Crate Crochet Hook Roll
8-day kid blanket (blues)
Hooked on Sunshine
To help me keep track of progress this year, I’ve updated my monthly craft planner (all just done in Microsoft Word) and created a checklist of all my 2020 craft goals with space for me to write in any details. These are now all printed off and about to get hole-punched to go into a dedicated ringbinder. Other than being disorganised and lazy, I have no excuses now for not tracking my progress this year! 😉
This post is a summary of my progress over the year, along with how I went with my 2019 goals. Because of personal circumstances (major project at work meaning extra-long working hours, and Dad’s hospitalisation and then passing away meaning 3 1/2 months of carers/compassionate leave), my goals were far from met this year, but as long as I managed to get some craft time in during the year I still think of it as positive progress.
54 = Number of WIPs/UFOs @ 1 January 2019 (yikes!) – 6 = Number of WIPs/UFOs completed in 2019 + 7 = Number of new WIPs added in 2019 (ie started in 2019 but not finished) —- 55 = WIPs/UFOs balance (oops – not my finest hour!)
The 6 WIPs I managed to finish in 2019 were:
Glendon Place: City Sidewalks ornament (cross stitch)
Leisure Arts, Big Book of Dishcloths: #32 dishcloth
Leisure Arts, Big Book of Dischcloths: #70 dishcloth
Rosewood Manor: The Heart of Christmas (JCS ornie SAL)
New starts that are still WIPs:
Out of all of the new starts I had in 2019, six remain as WIPs at the end of the year:
Maria’s Blue Crayons: Coastal Indoor Rug
Hooked on Sunshine: Phoenix blanket
Laura J Perin: Lahaina Breezes
Crate Crochet: Hook Roll
Crate Crochet: Ripple Tote
Drawn Thread: Almost Halloween
Ronald McDonald house charity piece (just needs personalisation to be added at the bottom)
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 2020 either, but I’ll eventually keep chipping away at them slowly but surely.
2019 Goals – Review
Cross stitch and embroidery
Cross stitch WIPs:
X FAIL Quaker Diamonds by Rosewood Manor – I’d love to finish this one – Update: I didn’t finish this one, although I did make a tiny bit of progress.
X FAIL Egyptian Garden Mandala by Chatelaine – Entirely finish the stitching of at least one full corner (ie one full page of the chart) – This was a major fail because I decided to scrap it and start all over again on different fabric.
X FAIL Red Lace Sewing Case by The Drawn Thread – add the felt/beads and do the finishing … and finally gift it to the intended recipient. Update: not touched.
√ DONE Three Kings by Mill Hill/Jim Shore – finish the three kings in the centre
√ DONE Quaker Christmas II by ByGone Stitches – finish the Let There be Peace on Earth motif in the centre
X FAIL Progress on at least three other WIPs/UFOs
X IN PROGRESS Ronald McDonald House charity XS – managed to stitch everything except for the personalisation for the retreat house. Now I’ve heard back from the NZ Head Office, I’ll complete this in January 2020.
X FAIL 19 in 19 – Start a new HAED and stitch 19 colours on it – didn’t start one
X FAIL 19 in 19 – 19 new starts. Update: I managed 18!
X FAIL 19 in 19 – 19 finishes. Update: I managed 18!
X FAIL 19 in 19 – some progress on 19 existing WIPs carried over from 2019. Update: I managed 4
√ DONE Stitch a charity quilt block
√ DONE Stitch 12 Christmas ornaments
Other needlework WIPs:
√ DONE Travel Cord Buddy by Michelle Marvig – I’d like to finish putting this together
√ DONE Hearts & Berries by Marg Low – I’d like to finish putting this together
X FAIL Make a Christmas Wish by Marg Low – I’d like to finish putting this together and framed before Christmas
X FAIL Stumpwork – choose one old stumpwork UFO and make some progress
X FAIL Start a new project from Inspirations magazines
X FAIL Make some progress on one of the 2018 patchwork retreat projects
X FAIL Make a 1920s-style hat for the Napier Art Deco Festival
√ DONE Complete three crochet projects from “Crate Crochet”
√ DONE Start a shawl
X FAIL Finish my Atlanticus (mandala) blanket
X FAIL Restart my Spice of Life blanket
X FAIL Start a Briar Rose blanket
X FAIL Start a top (clothing)
√ DONE Start a crochet hook case
X FAIL Start a blanket for Brenda & Nigel
X FAIL Make a charity blanket for SPCA
X FAIL Start the Nuts About Squares CAL
X FAIL Make a small pincushion
X FAIL Start a queen-sized bed patchwork quilt for myself
X FAIL Start the Piece and Plenty BOM quilt
X FAIL Make a sewing machine cover
X FAIL Make a summer nightie
X FAIL Make a top (clothing)
X FAIL Choose three Pinterest projects to try (eg Project bags, Purses/pouches)
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!
Belatedly adding my update for November, even though I only have one small update to share. I decided to keep on stitching on Mill Hill’s Three Kings until I got that third king finished … thus ticking one more item off the ‘to-do-list/goal’ for the year. It’s now being put away until 2020 again, unless I get an urge to keep going on the border – never say never!
Question of the Month: What new stitches or techniques did you learn this year ?
This year hasn’t been a great year for learning stitching-wise, however I just started doing a couple of older subscription boxes from Crate Crochet and learning some new stitches and techniques in crochet. It’s been a nice change learning something new, and not being too stressed at work to enjoy some decent down-time on evenings and weekends. I’m hoping next year will see me doing these projects on time each month again, seeing as I’ve just resubscribed for another 12 months 🙂
Here are some of my projects I’ve been working on this last week or two – I even managed a mandala finish that I’m super proud of!
Belatedly adding my update for October, although it’s the first WIP update I’ve made for quite some time. I’ve gone crazy stitching quite a bit since my return home – it’s helped me to take my mind off Dad’s passing and Mum coping on her own. So without further ado, here are my WIP updates and some other finishes.
Just Cross Stitch ornament SAL
I managed to finish all the remaining ornaments for a 12-month long ornament challenge using the 2018 Just Cross Stitch ornament issue – I used my two wild cards to change out two of the ornaments where I didn’t like one or didn’t have all the required threads and nothing to substitute with. The ornies I finished in October were:
Works in Progress / UFOs
I dragged out a few older WIPs/UFOs that were in my to-do-list for the year but that I hadn’t touched yet … I’ve failed my goals this year miserably, but at least I’ve managed some progress on a few projects for the year, even if it’s really small progress …
When I first came home I decided to start a new canvaswork project – I managed great progress until my fingers got too sore to keep yanking the threads through the canvas, so it’s been put into time out for a while, and I’ll probably pick it up again in 2020 to finish it off, if not before.
After I finished my JCS ornie SAL challenge, I decided to pick up a quick project that’s been kitted up for years – and finished it in a couple of days.
Question of the Month: Do you prefer to stitch on a rotation or one project at a time?
It depends on my mood at the time, to be honest – I work well with a rotation when I’m in the mood, it helps me to progress through projects quickly as long as I have them all set up together ready for me to work through the order of projects without having to hunt for items, or frames, or threads etc. I’ve been doing a screaming rotation of sorts for a while now – just stitching on what I feel like stitching on and not counting the hours at all. I’d like to get back to a formal rotation again, but I think I’ll wait until the new year for that.
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 🙂
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!!
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 …
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.
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.