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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!

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Stitching catch-up

I didn’t realise it’d been so long since I’d posted!  Obviously just been really busy living life and the day-to-day humdrum that that brings.

I’ve managed to get a couple more very small finishes under my belt, the first one after I finally received a stash order from back in November last year.  As soon as I received my thread order it meant I could finish the following beautiful piece of canvaswork:

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“Blue Birds” freebie by Laura J Perin (on the Rainbow Gallery website)
Stitched on 18ct mono canvas with recommended threads
(I even managed to track down the discontinued Tiara thread!)

This was the rest of my stash order – the first I’ve had in a very long time!  It means a couple more projects are now able to be fully kitted up, which is great considering one of them was in my  Crazy 7 group of projects, and already started!

Since the Crazy 7 challenge kicked off, I’ve actually been doing really well at keeping my stitching going regularly each week.  While I may not have too much to show for it, my excuse is that I’ve started my very first HAED – Daisy Blue by Jo Lynch.  Considering I’d always called my dear friend Nicki a crazy woman for her love of over-one stitching, and hating over-one stitching myself with a passion, it seems I’ve caught the craze myself!  I’m stitching my HAED one-over-one on 28ct Lugana and I just can’t seem to put it down!  I think in a couple of months I should see this one finished … and I’ve already got a couple more in line to be started immediately afterwards 🙂  The crazy thing is that I have Noah’s Ark by Teresa Wentzler as a seriously mistreated UFO because I couldn’t handle the one-over-one stitching … perhaps it may be time to give it some love and get it finished now!

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This weekend, though, I really had to force myself not to pick my HAED back up again, and instead caught up on a monthly SAL I’m going of JCS Christmas ornaments from the 2015 issue.  So far I’ve managed the first three months, with Feb and Mar ornies hot off the Qsnaps this weekend (I managed the blackbird one in its entirety today!).  Here are the three ornies to date so far (they’re being stitched in order of popularity in a group vote, with January being the most popular).

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“Snowmates” by Blue Ribbon Designs (2015 JCS Ornament issue)
Stitched on 40ct Silkweaver hand-dyed linen (can’t find the details just now)
with mostly recommended threads

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“Winter’s Eve” by The Prairie Schooler (2015 JCS Ornament Issue)
Stitched on 32ct Permin linen ~ colour French Blue
with my own choice of Carrie’s Creation threads

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“Merry Christmas” by Samplers Not Forgotten (2015 JCS Ornament issue)
Stitched on 40ct Silkweaver hand-dyed linen (can’t find the details just now)
with my own choice of Belle Soie and Gloriana silk threads

As well as stitching regularly again, I’ve also joined a group of fellow stitchers to do a weekly cooking challenge.  I think my health struggles over last couple of years had really shaken my confidence in many areas of my life, and cooking was one of them.  It’s been really nice getting back into the kitchen on a regular basis and cooking up some healthy (and not-so-healthy) meals.  Even though I may not always like the ingredients chosen each week, I still make sure I give it a try and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results so far.

Looks like life is finally getting back on a bit more even keel … hopefully it’ll continue the same way for quite some time to come! 🙂

 

Crazy 7 Challenge & First finish of 2016

Well so far the year has started really well – I had a last minute invitation to a New Year’s Eve party very close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge with friends up from Melbourne. It gave a great chance to get up close and personal with the awesome fireworks display … Sadly the friends are moving shortly so it’ll be the last time – but it was a really great way to kick off the new year getting to bed finally at 4.30am!



I was feeling decidedly seedy on the morning trip home so opted to walk a couple of extra kilometres instead of catching the bus – it gave me some much needed fresh air and exercise and I enjoyed the beach walk immensely 🙂



Then in between sleeping the day away I managed to kick start my stitching plans and achieved very small starts on all my projects:

First up the Mirabilia SAL:


Then the first 3 days of the Crazy 7 (7 new starts in 7 days):


  
I also started my first Christmas ornament for an ornie SAL on 1 Jan then finished it off today for my first finish of the year.


“Beyond Cross Stitch – Level Three – Blackwork” by The Victoria Sampler

Sadly it’s back to work again tomorrow so my stitching will no doubt slow up again – but I want to get back into the habit of stitching most days/nights even if it’s just for a few minutes. Having some gorgeous new projects to work on will keep the motivation up I think 🙂

Oct/Nov WIPocalypse

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Life got crazy at work, with some major hours being put in, so I’ve been locking myself away from the online world for much of the last two months.  I’ve now taken two days off as time in lieu (even though I’m probably due about 2 weeks of time off!) and thought I’d make the most of the time to do a catch-up.  While I haven’t been having evening meals half the time during the working week, never mind stitching, I have managed to do a wee bit on the weekends – in fact some weekends I’ve had some major stitching marathons just to make me feel ‘normal’ and I didn’t have the energy to do anything else.  So this will probably be a big post stitching-wise, with a few finishes under my belt.  Here goes …

Stitching finishes:

The biggest stitching news was finally finished my version of Angel of Love by Lavender & Lace.  I have decided to leave off her wings and I think of her now as my ‘regency lady’ for some reason.  I have to say I absolutely adore her, and think she looks just fine without the angel wings.  I really really enjoyed doing the beading – apparently there are just over 4,000 beads in her, and I enjoyed stitching every single one of them on!  I’ve added a photo of the detail in her skirt – just stunning!!

Lavender & Lace-Angel of Love“Angel of Love” by Lavender & Lace
Stitched on 28ct hand-dyed linen by Silkweaver, colour Dark Tan
with mostly recommended threads and beads – I substituted the DMC metallic with Kreinik braid

L&L-Angel of Love beading

Another piece I absolutely ADORE is the result of completing my Canvaswork rotation slot – while I was a bit concerned about the high level of coral pink in this initially, the final result is a tremendous blend of colours that work so beautifully together … these pieces as such FUN to stitch, it’s almost always a disappointment when they’re finished …

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“Surf and Sand” by Northern Pine Designs
Stitched on 18ct Eggshell mono canvas
with recommended threads and beads

After finishing Angel of Love my next rotation slot was Christmas ornaments and freebies, where I managed to whip up a couple of finishes:

Prairie Schooler-S is for Spring freebie
“S is for Spring” freebie by The Prairie Schooler
Stitched on 32ct Lambswool linen by Wichelt
with DMC threads – I substituted the pink threads with blue ones (I bet you didn’t expect that from me LOL)

Margaret Lee Rigiel-Starshine Penguin
“Starshine Penguin” freebie by Margaret Lee Rigiel
Stitched on 32ct hand-dyed Lugana (can’t remember who the dyer is, sorry)
with a mix of recommended threads and substitutes

Poissons Bleus freebie by Si le Point Compte
“Poissons Bleus” freebie by Si le point compte (website no longer around)
Stitched on 32ct Ice Blue Belfast (I think)
with DMC variegated thread

Stitching WIPs:

I’ve tried to go back to my rotation as well, which means Quaker Christmas II saw the light of day again in September, and I’ve almost finished the top of the chart now.  Not sure if this will seen the light of day again before Christmas, but it will eventually get done for, say, 2018 … 😉

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Next up in the rotation was Poppy by Mirabilia – she’s now become my focus piece as she’s a gift for my hairdresser, Giselle, whose favourite colour is red.

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Miscellaneous:

Before my hours got mental crazy at work, I started putting together a quilt top for a lap quilt, to start getting used to my new machine (thanks again Alison), and using a cheap jelly roll I bought at a craft show a few years ago.  Sadly this is the state it remains in, but hopefully I’ll get around to finishing this one soon:

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I also managed to frame my Bluebell pixie in a discounted white frame – sadly the joins aren’t perfect in the frame (I only realised when I was framing), but it’s for me so I think it’s fine:

 Bluebell framed

WIPocalypse Topics:

8 October – Are you a Halloween or Christmas stitcher?

The answer is a yes on both counts … although I have to say that Halloween is one of my all-time favourite stitching themes.  I don’t even celebrate Halloween, but I just love the ghostly ghouly designs, and the bright colours.  I’ve been going through phases with my Christmas stitching – I used to stitch quite a few Christmas ornaments, but these have tended to tail off over recent years and I’m focusing more on larger pieces.

6 November – What are your favourite and least favourite materials to use in your stitching?

Least favourite would have to be rayon threads, DMC metallics and Kreinik Blending Filament – and perhaps even Weeks Dye Works.  As for favourites, I love all the different threads and textures of canvaswork, and adore stitching with silk threads (Gloriana, Belle Soie and Au Ver a Soie in particular).  Cotton threads I love Crescent Colours threads and Needle Necessities/Threadworx the most.

Stitching Hermit

The title says it all really … in the last 2-3 days since being home I’ve locked myself away from the world and just stitched my little heart out.  It has really done me the world of good and today I feel a lot more relaxed and back to ‘normal’ again (what ‘normal’ actually is!).

I’ve tried to get back into my rotation slot once again, and it’s done me the world of good to have some sort of discipline again with my stitching – it really helps me to ‘focus’ and I get so much more one than I would normally.  The first rotation slot consisted of Christmas ornaments/freebies, and in my 10 hours I managed to finish 2 ornaments, and almost finish another one (I just had to put it to one side because I can’t find one DMC thread I need to finish it … yep, story of my life!!).  The two that I finished are as follows (I won’t show the other one until I’ve actually finished it!):

LHN-The Merry Skater
“The Merry Skater” by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 32ct hand-dyed Belfast linen by Countrystitch ~ colour Haystack
with recommended threads, except substituting DMC 712 with 3865
Started 21 Apr 2014 ~ Finished 24 Apr 2014

Shepherd's Bush-Joyful Night
“Joyful Night” by Shepherd’s Bush
from the 1998 JCS Christmas Ornament issue
stitched on 32ct Lambswool Wichelt linen
with recommended threads, except substituting DMC Ecru with 3865
Note: the chart called for pink DMC for the sheep swirl, which seemed to be an error,
so I replaced with DMC 3865
Started 24 Apr 2014 ~ Finished 25 Apr 2014

Then I moved on to my Canvaswork rotation slot … the last time I started this one (Blue Bayou by Northern Pine Designs) I found the WDW pearl cotton that was supposed to be PC#8 was actually PC#5 (it was mislabelled), and it really showed up with my stitching … so my first job yesterday was to unpick the original pearl cotton stitching … which ended up being a challenge in itself!  Because the waffle stitch has so few threads on the back to weave into, I’d managed to thread through a few stitches adjoining it, and it ended up being such a tangled mess trying to unpick I just ended up frogging those as well … which left me with 3 very small bands of metallic threads left.  Once I started stitching, though, I set the stopwatch going and really got into the rhythm of this one.  It’s one of those projects when you wake up in the morning and turn over to see your stitching on your stitching stand and it makes your spirits soar straightaway!

Unfortunately, though, I hadn’t realised I didn’t have one of the pearl cottons for this design, so I’m a bit stalled now … I originally hadn’t worried too much knowing that I should be able to get pearl cottons locally, until I realised last night that it’s actually an Anchor pearl cotton that I need.  I’ve decided, though, to just try and get a DMC equivalent as I really don’t think it’ll make that much of a difference.  Today I’m going to head out to my local Spotlight to see if they have what I need (although truthfully don’t hold out much hope!!).  If not, I’ll just start up a different canvaswork piece to start work on for the remaining 3 hours of my rotation instead.  Here is how Blue Bayou looks right now, along with some close-ups of those amazing stitches in it so far:

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2nd Finish for 2014

In readiness for completing the hardanger band on my Crimson Fire Sampler, I decided it would be wise to do a ‘refresher course’ on hardanger first, seeing it’s been so many years since I did my actual beginners class!  I rummaged through my ‘small project’ rotation filing box and managed to find the appropriate Beyond Cross Stitch kit by The Victoria Sampler.  Added to that I also dragged out the book by Janice Love called “Hardanger Basics and Beyond” for some extra clear photos and descriptions.  This book is without a doubt an absolute god-send for the basics of hardanger!!

Anyway, I finally put needle to fabric, and managed to start and finish this little sweetie in a day (4 1/4 hours of stitching to be exact … gotta love the stopwatch function and a timed rotation!!).  My woven bars aren’t perfect, as I still need to work on my tension a tiny bit … but overall after not doing hardanger woven bars for about 20 years I can’t complain really, and I’m pretty chuffed with it!

Victoria Sampler-Christmas Heart Beyond XS 5-3
“Beyond XS 5-3 Christmas Heart” by The Victoria Sampler
Stitched on 25ct white Lugana
with kit threads and beads
Started 26 Jan 2014 – Finished 26 Jan 2014

I was getting a bit tired by the end of the day, so I opted not to do any more hardanger last night, but instead did an hour on another “small project” for my rotation slot … leaving me with another 5 hours to go.  This is the ‘pale colourway’ of the Thistle Needlerolls by M Designs (I stitched the vibrant colourway before Christmas).

"Thistle Needleroll (pale colourway)" by M Designs Started 26 Jan 2014

“Thistle Needleroll (pale colourway)” by M Designs
Started 26 Jan 2014

I forgot that I’d meant to stitch up Lizzie*Kate’s Cross Stitcher in Residence in my small project rotation slot this time round, so the poor old needleroll may end up looking like that until the next rotation.  I have to say I wasn’t enjoying stitching it last night, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing!!

Last finishes for 2013, and Christmas at home

First of all I should say a rip-roaring and resounding “HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!” to everyone … as we kick off a new year with the first day of 2014.  I know I’m not the only one that had some struggles in 2013, so personally I’m certainly not sorry to see it finish!  Let’s hope that 2014 is a brighter year for everyone who had a crappy 2013, and that it continues on a positive vein for those who had an awesome 2013 🙂

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I just returned home this morning from two weeks holiday with my parents in New Zealand.  I say “holiday”, but in truth it’s never really a holiday when I go home … there’s usually a list of chores that my folks want me to complete … and I have to admit I’m generally really happy to help out as much as I can when I go home.  This year the chore was to take Dad out to buy a new mobile phone … and teach him how to use it … the first part was pretty simple, and the second part saw me practising “patience” substantially, let’s say! LOL.  Then we went out to buy a Panasonic digital recorder (DVR) for both Mum and Dad and set it all up for them in their respective rooms.  Sadly Mum’s was a real challenge due to not having a good aerial set-up, so unfortunately they’ll need to call in someone to add a new aerial on the roof for Mum so she can get it working 100%.

Dad has to drink something similar to protein shakes daily, and he’s been really bad at drinking them – he told me he’d missed one whole day because Mum was sick and she couldn’t make them for him … my response was that he shouldn’t have to wait for Mum to do everything for him, why couldn’t he just make them himself?  He shouldn’t have to rely on Mum for everything, if she got sick then he’d be stuffed!  You could have knocked me over with a feather the next day when Mum told me Dad has asked her to teach him how to make his shakes … and that he needs to be more “independent”.  I didn’t expect my little chat to have such a big impact … but I got a HUGE resounding vote of thanks from Mum, as that’s helped to relieve some of the pressure from her every day having to do everything for Mum (and I know it’s been getting her down).  I hadn’t expected him to do that, but it’s a very good thing, I think!

While I was in NZ I managed to meet a dear online/blogging pal that I hadn’t managed to meet before.  Zeb had chatted to me briefly just after I moved to Aussie to live, wishing she knew stitchers in the local area to have GTGs etc … it seems all these years later there is now an active group of stitchers in Auckland that meet up, and we managed to ‘gate-crash’ the party for an afternoon!  I’d called out to the Auckland stitchers to see if anyone was interested in getting together while I was in NZ, and Zeb arranged a stitching day at The Ribbon Rose – what a perfect choice for the venue!!!  Not only did we (Mum and I, ‘cos I dragged her along for a change in scenery and a different group of people to chat to to give her a break) get to meet some lovely people on the day, but we managed to kill two birds with one stone by completing a small stash enhancement onsite.  I always drag Mum into The Ribbon Rose each trip, so it was extra special this time!  I managed to get a group photo in the afternoon, but unfortunately a few of the group disappeared and left while Mum and I were browsing around the store, so the photo doesn’t include everyone that was there 😦  (UPDATED: Photo now removed by request of someone in it.)

 

Now we’re back onto the subject of stitching, I did manage to get quite a lot of stitching done while I was away – mainly because we couldn’t really go far from home because of Dad, and I made it a priority to do ‘the family thing’ while we could.  Dad still has to have two surgeries yet in 2014, and as awful as it sounds I wanted to spend as much time as I could while I could … obviously we all have positive thoughts that he’ll come through the surgeries just fine, but I don’t want to have any regrets if it doesn’t …

Anyway, back to the stitching again … these are the little pieces that I started and finished while I’ve been away – I think I impressed myself which the stitching progress this time round!!  Admittedly two days sat in front of the TV in Mum’s room watching Catherine Cookson DVDs really helped … while I’m generally very very patient, and wanted to spend as much time with Dad as I could, we still needed to have a wee break just for sanity’s sake!!  Dad has a tendency to make comments that are less than positive and can be quite derogative, so I needed to recharge my little positivity bubble for a couple of days …

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“Never Too Big” by Dragon Dreams (2004 JCS ornie issue)
stitched with recommended DMC and Kreinik threads and JABC button
on 28ct light taupe linen (sorry, didn’t write the details down when I kitted it up!)

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“Full Moon” freebie by Elizabeth’s Designs
stitched on 32ct hand-dyed Lugana by Countrystitch ~ colour Little Boy Blue??
with recommended DMC and WDW threads
(really love those little sheepies, even if they don’t have legs! LOL)

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“Seasons Greetings” by Glory Bee (2005 JCS ornie issue)
stitched on 28ct natural linen
with my choice of threads:
Lettering in Crescent Colours Cupid, Kreinik #4 braid for the star (#002),
DMC for the rest – white, 502 or 503 (can’t remember) and 500

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“Gourmet Garden” by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 32ct hand-dyed linen by Countrystitch ~ colour Pipi
with recommended DMC threads

I did start one last project that I hoped to see finished by the end of 2013, but it just wasn’t to be … this one will only take an hour or two of love and it’ll be finished, so it’s likely to be my first finish for 2014.  I really did want to start my rotation tomorrow, though, so I’ll have to make a decision whether to finish this one off now, or to wait until the “small projects” section of my rotation … I’m pretty sure I know what will win out tomorrow! 😛

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Just have the holly leaves and lettering to go on this one before there is another “F word” … “Finish”

And on that note I’d better call it a night, I think … I managed to pick up a few healthy groceries in readiness for one of my New Year’s Resolutions, that to be healthier and happier.  Hopefully all the salads will offset the half a suitcase full of chocolate goodies and Gingernut biscuits that Mum sent me home with! haha.

As to the rest of my New Year’s Resolutions and stitching plans/goals for 2014, well I guess that’ll have to come later once I’ve made some decisions … watch this space … just maybe not for a wee while 😛