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 …

A canvaswork stitching spree

I’ve been on a recent canvaswork roll – a couple of smaller projects started me on the way to getting my canvaswork bug back in a big way, so I’ve been putting a few larger projects onto stretcher bars and making some good progress. I’ve really been enjoying getting back into the swing of things 🙂

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“Holiday Square” freebie by Laura J Perin
Stitched on 18ct mono canvas
with recommended threads
Finished 15 July 2018

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“Medley Miniature” (kit) by Anna-Marie Winter
Stitched on 18ct mono canvas
with kit threads (silks and metallics)
Started 15 July – Finished 16 July 2018

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“Double Delights – Charbleu” by Needle Delights Originals
Stitched on 18ct mono canvas
with recommended threads
Started 16 July 2018 – Finished 22 July 2018

As well as these smaller finishes, I’ve also made significant progress on another Laura J Perin design, Seaside Blues … I’m really loving stitching this one sooooo much, the colours are truly stunning and right up my alley!!

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WIPocalypse Jan 2018

All of a sudden I decided I’d attempt to finish Mirabilia’s Red (in blue) before I attended a Mirabilia retreat … considering I’m back at work full-time again after Christmas, this is possibly a very tall order.  If nothing else, though, it’s meant I have a WIPocalypse update so there’s something positive 😀

Here are my before and after shots … sadly I had to frog almost 2 inches of the dress two days ago, so that’s slowed progress down quite a bit.  Here’s how she looked at the start of January (and this photo shows the fabric colours more accurately than the other photos):

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Red (done in blues) by Mirabilia

And how she looked before the frog came to visit … darn you, you annoying frog!!

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And how she looks today.  I decided to give the bottom of the dress a miss for a while and work on the cape instead. I also can’t quite work out which stitches need to be done in 310 and which ones in 939 where the cape meets the dress, so I thought I’d stitch all the sections around there first, and come back to those to make a decision afterwards 🙂 Still not 100% sure I’ll be able to get her finished in time for the retreat, but I’ll keep going anyway just in case a miracle happens 🙂

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Hopefully in my February update I’ll be showing the finished version 😀  Now onto the monthly question:

27 January – What SAL’s are you participating in this year? and If you are participating in the Olympic Stitching Challenge, what challenge are you accepting?  What are your goals?

I’m having an easier year this year with SALs, and only intend participating in a few of them. I’m not starting until February, though, so I’ll be playing catch-up with the JCS and Halloween ones:

  1. Hallowe’en Ornie SAL – One of my all-time favourite SALs each year. I’ve got my January ornie decided, just need to kit it up with fabric and threads. I’m always a bit haphazard with these as life gets in the way, but the great thing is you can jump right back in when you’re ready, and Jo does an awesome job keeping the SAL active.
  2. JCS ornie SAL (Facebook) – Another SAL I ended up ditching last year as life got in the way, but I’m hoping to continue with this one again this year and using the ornies I didn’t stitch last year as my ‘wild cards’ for months I’m not too keen on the design. Often, though, I’ll still stitch designs I’m not keen on originally, as I’ve found the stitched version is a lot nicer, and it’s good to taken out of your comfort zone every now and then.
  3. Stitch from Stash – I’m not doing this officially with any formal group, just keeping myself honest and doing it on my own. I am in an Aussie Stitch From Stash challenge group, though, so that helps to give me a kick every month. My financial situation has changed dramatically since the apartment move late last year, so stitching stash is no longer a priority.
  4. Gifted Gorgeousness – Thanks to Jo for bringing this one to my attention. Once I manage to get back into some new starts etc this year, I’ll be contributing to this blog as I have a number of different charts etc I’ve received from friends over the years that I’d love to see finished.
  5. WIPocalypse – obviously 😛

I’m not doing the Stitching Olympics, as I’ve already got my rotation sorted for the year and want to get back into a routine again after Red is finished. I think doing the SO may derail me, so I’m going to forego it for now … but never say never haha.

 

WIPocalypse September 2017

Thanks to my rotation ticking along swimmingly, I’ve had another month with relatively good progress on my WIPs 🙂

First up is where my latest start finished up at the end of my rotation slot – this is Mill Hill’s Starfish, which was technically a new start last month, but I guess has migrated into the WIP definition now … Here’s how it looked like at the end of August’s WIPocalypse, and how it looked at the end of the rotation slot:

Next up was my “Large/BAP” rotation slot, so I dragged out an older WIP to get a bit of love. This is Rosewood Manor’s Quaker Diamonds, and what it looked like before and after 10 hours of work on it.  Lots of colour changes in this one, but it’s quite enjoyable to stitch on the whole – at least it looks like some decent progress was made anyway!

And now for the question of the month:

Which floss (or color of floss) do you absolutely adore and want to stash constantly?

That’s a no-brainer for me … anything blue! Every shade and deviation possible!! And whenever I stitch I never seem to have just the ‘right’ shade of blue … but it doesn’t matter, just flicking through my blue silk stash in particular gives me joy. As for threads themselves, Gloriana and Belle Soie silks are probably my ultimate favourites to stitch with, followed by Au Ver a Soie d’alger, and Rainbow Gallery Splendor silks.

A small finish Ahoy, and starfish overload

On Sunday I managed a new start, which also ended up being a new finish – gotta love those small projects and a good audiobook to keep the momentum going all day! 😉

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“Square.ology sandcastle.frame Ahoy” by Hands on Design

Stitched on 32ct hand-dyed linen by Countrystitch ~ colour Blue Ice
(the photo looks grey, but it’s actually a delightful pale blue!!)
with recommended threads – the felt star and button came with the chart

Next up is yet another new start – I only got one hour’s stitching into this one on Sunday night, and another 40 mins last night, but I have a feeling it’s going to be another quick one to stitch up as it’s nice and blocky on the whole! Hmmmm just realised it’s another starfish – there seems to be a theme happening this week! 😀

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WIPocalypse August 2017

My goodness, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? I can’t believe it’s check-in time again for the WIPocalypse … although for once I finally have some decent stitching to share!

This month I’ve decided to go back to doing a formal stitching rotation, with 10 hours stitching in each rotation slot. The first time I did this religiously I noticed I got a heck of a lot more stitching done, and it seems like this time is no exception 🙂 My rotation contains a mix of old and new projects to mix it up a wee bit, with plenty of opportunity to give some older WIPs/UFOs a bit of tender loving care. It also now means I have a number of new WIPs to add to my WIPocalypse pile, as most of my projects are ones that will take a few rotations to complete. My rotation is basically as follows:

  1. Focus piece – currently Mirabilia’s Red (done in blue)
  2. Medium-sized projects – new start Jim Shore/Mill Hill’s Three Kings
  3. UFOs
  4. Focus piece
  5. Small to medium-sized projects – something to get a quick finish or two under my belt, and primarily new projects already kitted up
  6. Large and BAPs – currently Rosewood Manor’s Quaker Diamonds
  7. Focus piece
  8. Stitching smalls & Christmas ornies
  9. Canvaswork
  10. Non-cross stitch – to give myself a regular challenge

First up is my focus piece – this one appears in rotation slots 1, 4 and 7, so it will be getting lots of love regularly until it’s finished. My current focus piece is Mirabilia’s Red done in a blue conversion by Beverley and available here. Here’s the before photo on the left, and after two rotation slots on the right – it was very exciting to move the scroll bars up a bit!

Next up came a new start for me – Three Kings by Jim Shore/Mill Hill. This is stitched on the recommended fabric and has been kitted up for a wee while now. I figured it was time to get it started and some return on my hard-earned $$$ spent 😉 Here’s how it looked at the end of the rotation slot:

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Next in line was the UFO slot in my rotation – and the one slot that’ll likely give me lots of WIPocalypse fodder in the future. I summoned up the courage to finally get the stitching finished on a very old WIP – Flight of the Bumblebees by Ruth Schmuff. It’s not 100% finished yet, as I can’t find my Access Commodities gold spangles to finish it off. I also couldn’t find the bee charms, but managed to dig those up last week woohoo. Spangles are on their way from a US store, and it means that by the time the UFO rotation slot appears again, I can use it to finish this delightful labour of love. I have to say I never EVER want to re-do that drawn thread border ever again on canvas … that was a lot of love with not much love 😉 I really do adore this project, though, and so thrilled to see how far along I managed to get it this month! Once again a before and after shot:

Because I still had six hours of my rotation slot left over after not being able to finish Flight of the Bumblebees I dragged out another UFO – I really struggle with this one, so those six hours felt like forever. Not sure I’ll continue to keep this in the rotation next round, or maybe I’ll do half the rotation slot on something else and half on this one … I dunno, will see how I feel closer to the time …

Next up was of course my focus piece again, which I’ve already covered – and then it was into the small-medium sized projects, which are new starts, so I’ll do a new post to cover those. All-in-all though a VERY productive month stitching-wise, which feels awesome! Before I sign off, though, here’s the question of the month:

How do you get yourself out of a stitching drought?

Truly I don’t stress about it anymore – if anything I tidy up my stash, fill up my wishlist online, and just look through the pictures in online stitching groups. More often than not, though, if my stitching mojo has gone it also affects my energy for everything else. I always know, though, that it will return … so I don’t stress and just do whatever my heart tells me to do until my mojo returns – and it has always returned at some point 🙂

 

Hallowe’en SAL 2017

Halloween ornie SAL

Crikey, I’m not doing too well so far with my commitment stitching – I’ve just been plugging away at Chatelaine’s Egyptian Garden Sampler in the odd days when I haven’t been working mental crazy hours at work.  This last week, though, I finally got my fabric gridded up so I can start stitching my focus piece for the Hallowe’en SAL this year.  It’s my intention to find work on a larger design for most of the monthly themes, then I’ll do an individual ornament as well if I get time (or have the inclination).

Anyway, this week I’ve  managed to catch up on 3 of the 4 monthly themes, with just March left to do. I’ve already decided which one to stitch on, I just need to get it kitted up and on the Qsnaps, and I should be able to knock it over in a few hours as it appears to be quite a quick one (although that could be famous last words!!).

Here’s my progress so far on Prairie Schooler’s When Witches Go Riding, and the monthly themes I’ve covered on it so far are:

  • January – The Moon
  • February – Witches
  • April – Winged Creatures

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I’ve decided to change all the colours around, and using a random selection of overdyed threads from my stash that are somewhat similar to the charted DMC threads.

WIPocalypse March 2017

2015 WIPocalypseNot much stitching done in general this month due to crazy working hours and just feeling generally exhausted all the time.  But these last two weekends I’ve made up for it a wee bit by plonking myself in front of the TV in my stitching chair, watching loads of Gilmore Girls episodes back to back, and finally getting needle to meet fabric once again.  The result is a reasonable update to Egyptian Garden Mandala.  It feels good to finally make some progress – I was getting bored with my least favourite border section, so I moved onto one of the corners to have a break on one of the pyramid blocks. Next session I’ll go back to finishing that dratted border until the bottom part is finished – then once that’s done I’ll be flipping the frame around again to finish those over-one fishies in the centre and working on the beading and backstitching from the pond outwards. Anyway, this is the progress that I managed in March (the only WIPocalypse project I worked on):

Before:

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After:

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I’ve also dragged out a pile of small and freebie designs that I’d love to work on in-between larger projects, so I may do that soon as well – in a rotation of sorts. Maybe 10 hours (or a full weekend) on a larger piece of work, then slot in a wee freebie that will only take me a few hours to finish. Hmmm, I like that plan! Either way, it’s likely that Egyptian Garden Mandala will remain a key focus piece for a while. I must say, though, it’s a lot bigger than I expected it to be!

I just realised I forgot about the monthly questions, so I’ll do February and March together below:

February 26 – What is your favourite stitch other than the standard cross stitch?  (bonus points if you provide a how-to link or diagram it on your blog post!)
Let me think … I would probably say the various Rhodes stitches (especially hearts) and I also really love the look of Sheaf stitch. I really love doing canvaswork because of the interesting stitches, so there aren’t that many I really don’t enjoy.

March 26 – What stitchy blogs, groups, or flosstubes do you follow and why?
I haven’t truthfully read blogs regularly for a few years now, mainly because of my long work hours and not having as much free time as I used to … but in saying that I’ve been wasting much more time in Facebook groups, which seems so much quicker for me on my phone – I do miss reading my favourite blogs though, and every few months I’ll have a quick recap on some of my oldie favourites. I don’t follow Flosstube videos, as I find them too distracting and just generally not ‘my thing’.  Most of my spare time is now spent doing actual stitching rather than reading about it … a bit of a strange concept for me 😉

 

Lots of stitching finishes

Ever since I’ve been eating healthier, and sleeping better, I’ve managed to find my stitching mojo on a regular basis.  As such, it’s seen a bunch of finishes over the last two months – most of them new starts, with one UFO from the start of the year.

First up I was trying really hard to do a catch-up for a Halloween Ornie SAL I signed up for this year.  Unfortunately I found HAEDs at the start of the year and my sole stitching focus went into those for a while, then working life got turned on its head for a bit and crazy working hours became the norm once again.  I decided in October I really did want to catch up on the SAL, but I didn’t want to stitch a heap of ornies.  At the start of the year I’d planned on working on two larger projects, that each had a block containing something that would fit within the SAL monthly themes.  Because of me starting so late in the piece, I ended up just stitching one larger piece with a couple of extra ornies thrown in for good measure.  This is what I chose for the monthly SAL, which I stitched in strict order of the themes for the year (with the exception of the two ornies, which I stitched first):

  • January – Winged creatures (block 5, the owl and bat)
  • February – Mummies and Monsters (block 6, the Frankenstein head at the end)
  • March – Pumpkins (block 1)
  • April – Ghosts (block 2, the teeny weeny ghost hiding behind the tree)
  • May – Spiders (separate ornie, freebie by Lizzie*Kate)
  • June – Free choice (the geometric border)
  • July – Witches’ accessories (block 3, the witch’s cauldron)
  • August – Spooky words (the words in the border)
  • September – Bad fairies (still have no idea what on earth to do for that one)
  • October – Black cats (block 4)
  • November – Skeletons and Skulls (another separate ornie, Halloween Ornament 4 by The Floss Box)

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“Halloween Markings” by Heart in Hand
stitched on 32ct Steel Grey Belfast linen
with a couple of recommended threads, but mostly replacements from my stash
Stitched as an alternative to ornaments for a Halloween Ornie SAL

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“Eek” freebie by Lizzie*Kate
Stitched on 32ct ‘mystery’ grey Belfast linen
with recommended threads

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“Halloween Ornament 4” by The Floss Box
Stitched on 32ct ‘mystery’ linen
with recommended DMC threads

After my Halloween stitching binge, I decided to drag out a UFO from the start of the year.  This was one of my Crazy January Challenge pieces (15 starts in 15 days, which I’ve decided really isn’t for me anymore – I want to spend my stitching time working through all those WIPs/UFOs cluttering up my stitching space instead of starting a bunch of new ones!).  Anyway, after a few weeks chipping away at her, I had a few days of work this week and managed some major progress, and finishing her a couple of days ago.  This was significantly helped by throwing a few seasons of Buffy into the DVD player, it was great mindless, and amusing, fodder for the brain while completing a stitching marathon 🙂

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“The Christmas Elf Fairy” by Mirabilia
stitched on 32ct natural linen
with kit threads (Crescent Colours) and beads

The last one, hot off the Qsnaps on Friday night was one I’d originally stitched as a charity quilt square a few years ago.  I’ve been wanting to restitch this for myself ever since, and still had the DMC sitting with the chart ready for the day when I found time.  I decided it was finally time to pull my finger out and get it stitched up so I grabbed some fabric and threw it on the Qsnaps – I love this one, and it’ll beautifully with my ocean/beach theme in the lounge!

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“Chambered Nautilus” by Green Apple Co (original watercolour by Janet Powers)
Stitched on 32ct off-white Belfast linen
with recommended DMC threads

And that’s all for now I guess … I’m not 100% sure what I’ll choose to stitch on next.  I’ve been trying to finish off a lot of the WIPs sitting in crates so that I have a few Qsnaps free to use for new projects, so no doubt the next thing I choose to stitch will be something already started … Mind you, I do still have four ornaments left to stitch to complete the 2016 JCS Christmas Ornie SAL challenge on Facebook – I guess that’ll probably be the first thing ticked off, then it’ll be time to grab one of my WIPs as my next focus piece.  At the moment I’m tossing up between the following WIPs/UFOs – I just may have to toss a coin, because I really can’t decide right now! 😉

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!