November visit home & stitching finishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Crazy January Challenge #1 and other Finishes

I picked up my needle for the first time since returning home yesterday and managed to put the finishing stitches into two pieces – one a VERY overdue travelling pattern, and one I started over the Christmas holiday in NZ.  I would have got a lot more stitching done yesterday if I hadn’t chosen to watch almost the entire season of So You Think You Can Dance (season 9) that had been taping while I was away … that show is definitely NOT conducive to stitching!!  I’m really thrilled, though, to see both my favourite dancers were given “winner” status … the male winner brought me to tears on a number of occasions in the last couple of episodes! Anyway, I’d better get on with what I came on here to post … here are my two finishes for yesterday, starting with Easter Treat by The Trilogy.  This was originally going to be a Crazy January Challenge pieces for 2013 but I started it earlier than expected while I was in NZ – I was never happy with the lack-lustre thread choices, as the ‘sweet pea’ border was really wishy-washy and everything just looked so ‘blah’.  I also wasn’t happy to have pink as the predominant colour and of course had to replace it with blue – the problem being there wasn’t enough of the kit thread, and the only colours in blue I had with me were a lot brighter … in the end I bit the bullet and ripped out the entire border and re-did it in a brighter fuchsia silk I had brought with me and used a brighter blue.  I’m so happy that I did that as I now really love the brightness and colour combinations in this one!

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“Easter Treat” by The Trilogy
stitched on 32ct Summer Khaki Belfast linen
but substituting a couple of threads from the kit choices

The next one is a travelling pattern that has been well overdue for stitching – I have to admit that I’m quite unhappy with my colour choices for this one.  I chose a rich blue/purple Stef Francis silk for the centre text and border hoping to then add other blues to the mix – sadly, though, when it was stitched the purple colour overpowered everything and none of my colour choices seem to work (not helped by the fact I chose an ice blue linen to stitch it on!).  In the end I chose a dark purple for the contrasting text and just forgot about trying to use blues … I think I’ll definitely be stitching this one again in the future, but next time it’ll be on a plain white Belfast with blue threads!  In the meantime I have other commitments to complete, so that won’t be happening for a little while yet …  I have to admit, though, that I still like the finished version, it’s just not how my mind had planned it! 🙂

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“Good Things” by Lizzie*Kate
stitched on 32ct Ice Blue hand-dyed linen by Countrystitch
with a mix of Stef Francis silks, Carrie’s Creation threads and DMC

I’ve also heard that a couple of finished pieces were received by their recipients, so I can finally show the finished products here (sadly one ornie exchange has gone missing in the mail so I have to stitch a replacement this week to send over to them).

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“2010 Ornament” by The Sweetheart Tree
stitched with recommended threads and beads for ornament exchange on Aussie Facebook group

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“White Christmas” freebie by The Drawn Thread
stitched on 36ct Pipi hand-dyed linen by Countrystitch
with recommended threads except Kreinik braid and GAST Claret (used substitutes for both)
I can’t find the ‘finished’ photo, which seems to be a regular occurrence for me lately!
(freebie is still available here)

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“Joyeux Noel” by Monsterbubble
(my version choosing my own colours)
(I forgot to take a photo of the finished version, so I asked the recipient to take one for me!)

And that’s it for me for now stitching-wise … this afternoon I will be kitting up my next travelling pattern, as well as ensuring all my upcoming rotation pieces have all the threads and fabric kitted up ready for ‘action’.  I’ll be heading back over to NZ again in a couple of weeks, so I want to be much better prepared for it this time round – even though I’ll be working while I’m over there, we fully intend to have some leisure time in the evenings, which for us means stitching time 🙂

Biscornu exchange and other bits

I’m working some really mental hours at work at the moment with a project not going so well that I’m supposed to be helping with the testing phase, plus another high profile project that’s just materialised where I’ve been asked to be the project lead, another two projects already underway for early next year, an entire overhaul of our main computer system we use (meaning training etc required along with the testing), and my main work colleague off on annual leave (who never provides a handover document) … my brain cells are in overdrive, but on the whole I’m loving it, even though I could quite easily leave the long hours for someone else.  So I apologise in advance for the crappy grammar etc that I’m sure you’re going to find in this post, but I’m about to fall in a heap and get some well-needed Zzzzzzzzz……

I don’t think I ever showed the finished version of my French design purchased on holiday earlier in the year.  Mum helped me by stuffing it with polyfil on her last visit, and I stitched up the seam to put the finishing touches into it.  I need to get a little basket to have it on display with some of my other favourite items in my bedroom.  I think I also need to stitch this one again in traditional red threads.

“Citation de brodeuse no.8” by Brin par Brin

Next up is the biscornu I sent to my partner in the Oz Cross Stitchers biscornu exchange (a Facebook group):

“Free Biscornu #30” by The Floss Box
stitched on 28ct white Cashel linen
with recommended DMC threads, with Mill Hill beads in the whip-stitched border

And here is the exchange I received from my partner:

August WIPocalypse

Too late at night to put any words for now ‘cos I’m going cross-eyed from lack of sleep … will post my month’s progress piccie, though – I managed to finish this little Just Nan piece (stitching-wise anyway).

I also completed 2 biscornu pieces for an exchange, but yet undecided which one to use so I can’t show and tell those properly yet …

Mental health alert … I’ve been doing housework!!

It’s been an interesting few weeks, with not a stitch happening in this household except for Mum’s stitching while I’ve been busy doing things she can’t help with.  Rather we’ve been pulling out cupboard contents and chucking old things out and doing a general decluttering – all in readiness for when I start advertising for a new flatmate, or in readiness if I have to parcel things up and put everything in storage and move out.  Without going into too many details, I can only say that the last couple of weeks have been incredible not feeling like I’m walking on eggshells at home, and I feel a lot less tense at home.  It’s just a shame I have to get someone else in to live with me, ‘cos this is definitely a feeling of bliss I want to continue.  Oh well, maybe I’ll have to start buying Lotto tickets!

Anyway, a fortnight ago we had the lovely opportunity of meeting Cathy who was over visiting from WA – while I’ve been following Cathy’s blog for a number of years now, this is the first time we’ve met in person.  It was really lovely to finally meet up, and she managed to survive the day (and car trips) with me and my crazy Mum, so she’s pretty resilient! LOL.  We drove down the coast and met up with our other stitching pals in NSW and spent the day at Kiama – as always it was wonderful company, and we had a great day stuffing our faces with munchies and laughing the day away.  It was a really great day, and I’m already looking forward to the next one! I’ll ‘steal’ one of Alison’s photos from the day to share here … which stupidly sparked a tirade of hatred from a cousin in the UK on Facebook … I won’t go into details here, but let’s just say it was ‘interesting’ to say the least!!

While we were at Kiama I didn’t get any actual stitching done, but I took a pile of ornies that just needed to be stuffed and sewn up, so Mum and I did a shared job of it – Mum did the stuffing and I stitched their bottoms up.  Here are the results – there would have been a few more, but we ran out of stuffing 🙂

I also mentioned in my last post about an exchange that I’d received – this is what I received from Karen at The Stitching Post.  Funnily enough I’d only just been thinking about her recently, and I was surprised when an envelope arrived in my mailbox with her name on the back!  Karen chose a Blackbird Designs ornament for me, and the theme was “birds” for the exchange so it fit the bill perfectly!  She also included some extra little goodies that will come in handy.  Thanks Karen for a lovely exchange 🙂

And on that note it’s time to get back into cleaning and decluttering mode – we need to get everything finished by Monday at the latest so I can get carpet cleaners in to clean the carpet in Katie’s old room … it looks like she’s thrown up or something in there at one point, and is an absolute disgrace.  Bless Mum for offering to come over and help to clean things, as we’ve ended up doing everything again in that room.  Oh well, that’s all a part of history now … time to move on … and I have to admit the decluttering has been really cathartic 🙂

Prairie Schooler ornie received

For the life of me I can’t find the photo I took of the “finished” ornie, but at least I have one of the stitching to hand – Margaret has let me know that it has arrived (albeit very very late) safely across the oceans, so I can now reveal my other stitching finish for April.

Prairie Schooler-Merry Christmas from Santas and Snowmen

“Santas and Snowmen” leaflet by The Prairie Schooler
stitched on 32ct Pipi linen by Countrystitch
with recommended DMC threads 

Prairie Schooler Exchange received & Winter Snapperland

Due to sickness I haven’t managed to get to either a Post Office to post off my Prairie Schooler Exchange to my recipient, or to pick up a couple of weeks worth of mail from my PO Box – finally this week, though, I managed to do both (and my PS exchange is finally winging its way across the oceans).

I was thrilled to find an absolutely gorgeous ornie from Edgar hiding in my PO Box – it is absolutely exquisite, both in its stitching and finishing, and it will be treasured on my Christmas tree every year.  Thanks Edgar for a really wonderful exchange! 😀

The other stitching news this week is that I managed to put a few more stitches into my “Walking in a Winter Snapperland” WIP with a new block well underway.  Sadly I ran out of DMC 3865 for the snow, but I managed to find a couple of skeins at lunchtime today, so I can continue with this one again shortly (it would be really nice to be able to continue with this one until it’s finished, although I have to admit all that white stitching is doing my head in, and I have to admit I’m not enjoying stitching this one as much as I have done the other Snapperland series that I’ve done).

When I went DMC hunting at lunchtime today I actually popped into Lincraft in the city, as it’s only 2-3 small blocks from where I work – as usual, though, they had a pitiful selection and didn’t have the colour that I needed (I so hate that store, it’s not funny!).  Anyway, I had to pop to Officeworks as well, so after I posted off some more mail I walked on the other side of the road further up the block … and lo and behold, what did I see?  Needlework on display in a shop window, that’s what!!  I cannot believe I’ve worked in the city for 6 months now and never walked that way in daylight, and had no idea that Morris & Sons was in the same block … well colour me stupid!!!  They may be a bit pricey, but I did manage to get the DMC I needed and at least know where they are now …

On another note, my flatmate will be moving out in a couple of months to move into a new flat with her boyfriend – which means finances are going to be critically tight from then on while I decide if I can continue to live here on my own (which is doubtful) or whether I’ll have to find a smaller/cheaper place to live … so, what do I do in the meantime, knowing that I need to be saving money?  That’s right, I go shopping!!!  I decided to take up a sale at Country Bumpkin which gave 50% off a floor-standing Ott-Lite … I have one in the lounge, but I’ve been stitching in my bedroom more than ever of late, and decided rather than having to move it between rooms all the time I can have the 2nd one in my bedroom permanently (and Mum can use one when she visits).  Not only that but I’ve also gone a bit mad buying a few extra pairs of Dinky Dyes scissors that are on sale this week at Colours Down Under … I figure they’ll make nice gifts for exchanges or gifts etc in the future … it also meant I could buy an extra WDW skein of Bark and Havana, which I’m going to need to finish off Walking in a Winter Snapperland … which means I really don’t have any excuse not to finish it now (except for lack of desire).

All-in-all that’s probably all from me for now … I’m sure there were a few other things I wanted to talk about, but I’m absolutely shattered and my head is a bit “all over the place”, so I figure I should leave it there … sadly I’m still getting over this stupid pneumonia so I’m getting really tired as the week’s gone on … but still feel so much better than I have been!! 🙂

Still in the land of the living

Sadly a number of shocking migraines and some late working hours have seen my stitching mojo fly out the window over the last month … yesterday, however, I decided to catch up on last week’s recorded TV shows (seeing as I didn’t switch the TV on at all during the week) and managed to put a few stitches into a commitment piece – I need to quickly get this one finished so I can get it framed for a birthday gift.  I managed to do a fair bit last Saturday just before I started getting a throw-up migraine, and after yesterday’s efforts I can almost see the end in sight.  There are still a bunch of bears to stitch on the left-hand side, but at least I’m about 2/3 finished now.  It’s the first time in ages that I’ve stitched something that requires such a lot of back-stitching … not my favourite part of stitching, but it sure does make those blobs of stitching look wonderful once it’s done, and I’m glad to have got the first 2/3 of back-stitching completed before tackling the last section of the design!  This is one of my Crazy January Challenge projects:

Here's how it looked back on 10 January

How it looked at the end of last weekend

How it looks now - a day in bed stitching in my PJs was worthwhile!

Last Monday I received an absolutely awesome ornie from my good friend Carol for our HoE Lizzie*Kate ornie exchange.  I love the reason why Carol chose to stitch this one, as moose are indigenous in NH this is a wonderful personalised ornie with a taste of Carol’s home.  I absolutely love it, and the stitching and finishing are as always perfect!  Thank again Carol for another fantabulous exchange that I will treasure! 😀  I apologise in advance for the quality of all the photos today, as they had to be taken with my iPhone thanks to a flat camera battery that I just keep forgetting to charge up!  Sadly moose ornie didn’t come up at all well on the iPhone 😦

My Lizzie*Kate ornie exchange received from Carol - I love it!

I also heard a while back that Joke had received the ornie I had sent to her – unfortunately I was late in posting, so I sent a little extra beaded scissor fob to apologise for the delay.  I can’t remember taking a photo of the fob I sent, but you can see it in Joke’s post if you want to see it.

Lizzie*Kate ornie exchange sent to Joke

The only other thing I have to share is a wonderful surprise parcel in the mail I received from Orna Willis – I’ve been a fan of Orna’s canvaswork designs for years now, and have been a follower on her blog  since she started it up.  Orna has recently been having giveaways of thread/embellishment packs for some of her followers (just chosen randomly from the list of followers), and I was surprised one day to see my name up in lights on the blog … I had won one of the giveaways.  I just had to take a photo of the way that everything was packaged up, aren’t they lovely in their own special little tin?  I should probably take a photo of the contents separately as there are lots of little treats hiding in that tin, but I’ll do that on the day that I take them out to put them away 🙂

And that probably covers all the stitching news that I have.  Nothing else has been happening really except for work, work, and more work – it’s been quite difficult trying to close off and start pieces of work for my current job while learning my new job one day a week, plus still attending many meetings and having to teach a work colleague aspects of my job.  Hopefully after next week I’ll start getting back into a normal routine of only one job, although sadly 2 hours travelling time each day will probably eat most of my week’s stitching time that I normally have … it just means that I’ll have to plan my weekends so I can at least get ‘some’ stitching in every weekend 🙂

One great thing about working in the city now, though, is that last Wednesday after work I wandered over to the city swimming pool and did a workout in the hydrotherapy pool.  My leg has been giving me a lot of pain lately so I knew I needed to make an effort to get those exercises happening again – and by the time I was ready to get on the train most of the peak hour people had gone home already … mind you, it meant not getting home until 9pm but what the heck, it felt good! 😉

Ruby Tuesday … just ‘cos I feel like posting!

Here is my choice for this week’s Ruby Tuesday – a very old photo scanned from the printed copy of a brasserie in Paris … my favourite city in the world.

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And in trying to keep with the ‘crafty theme’, here’s a redwork exchange I sent to Nicki five whole years ago in 2006 … probably one of my most favourite exchanges I’ve completed! (The photo was compliments of Nicki, she did such a wonderful job of the photography!)

Needleroll Exchange for Nicki Lampon

Ruby Tuesday

HoE Snowman Exchange received & a small finish

Today I finally managed to get to my PO Box during opening hours so that I could pick up my post as well as pop my own parcel into the mail – I was very excited to see that as I sent off my own Snowman ornie exchange parcel, my very own squishy mail parcel was sitting in my PO Box.  My exchange partner this time round was Elisa, and she put together an exquisite ornie using a fantastic pattern (which has been on my wishlist for stitching for a while now), a great choice of fabric (never would I have thought of using yellow linen and I love it), and the perfect pom-pom edging … all-in-all yet another exchange received that I will treasure.  I have to say that after having a couple of exchanges ‘go wrong’ in the past, it’s been a distinct pleasure to be part of this group and having exchanges run smoothly for a change 🙂  Anyway, thanks again Elisa for a real treat in my mailbox!  If my exchange partner likes theirs even half as much as I like mine, I’d class it as a perfect exchange 😉

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The small finish I referred to in the title is a freebie from The Stitching Parlor, Inc.  I have to admit, I can’t say I’m totally in love with this design.  After wanting to stitch it for the longest time (it’s been kitted up with the fabric since having all my stash in storage when housesitting years ago), I’m really disappointed with the colours and the overall look – I was originally going to finish it off as a little gift for someone but now I really don’t know what on earth to do with it!

The Stitching Parlor-Proud Peacock freebie
“Proud Peacock” freebie by The Stitching Parlor, Inc
stitched on 28ct white Cashel linen
with recommended DMC threads

I now understand why KarenV changed the colours when she stitched it for me for an earlier birthday gift … I totally adore Karen’s version of this design, and kinda wish I hadn’t bothered to still stitch one myself – but on the positive side, I now have one kitted-up piece of fabric/chart that is off the “to be stitched” pile! I’ve copied another copy of KarenV’s version below so you can compare … Karen’s version is so, so very much better, I’m sure you’ll agree! 🙂

KarenV birthday gift Feb08 2

And on that note, I think it’s time to go back to getting a few more stitches into my extremely overdue PIFs that are currently in progress – I never ever received my PIF that I signed up for (nor ever heard from the person running it), but I still fully intend fulfilling my end of the bargain, albeit (the way I’m going) a year late!!!  Mind you, I have to admit to having second doubts about one piece … I guess I’ll wait until it’s finished before I decide whether to rethink my choices!

And now it’s time to go plug in disc one of Band of Brothers (from Quickflix) and chill out with needle in hand for a wee while before catching a few zzzzzz 🙂