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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Aug/Sep WIPocalypse (late as normal!)

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Only 2 days to go before the September WIPocalypse post is due … oops … life sure has a way to interfere with plans, and my memory is shocking, so yet again I’ve missed the deadline.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been stitched, although I have to admit I haven’t been stitching as much as I normally do.  Work pressures have yet again put a hold of any mid-week stitching, although each weekend I’ve made sure I’ve had one day dedicated to stitching my little heart out.

So, here goes … here is what I’ve managed to get up to stitching-wise over the last two months.  I figure I may as well just have this as my September WIPocalypse post as well, as I can’t see me doing any further stitching between now and two days time that will be worth shouting from the rooftops 😉

First up I decided to just keep on stitching on my Eiffel Quaker until it was finished – I just love this one!

Jardin Prive - Eiffel Quaker
“Eiffel Quaker” by Jardin Privé
Started 11 January 2013 – Finished 28 July 2014
Stitched on 36ct antique white evenweave from Sewitall
with French Au Ver A Soie Soie d’Alger silk threads
Stitch count 150 wide x 143 high

I then decided to be responsible (unusual for me!) with my stitching and get a charity quilt block out of the way that I had committed to – I absolutely adore this one, and I’ve left the DMC threads etc all sitting with the chart in readiness to stitch this one again for myself … I love, love, love it! 🙂

Green Apple Co-Chambered Nautilus
“Chambered Nautilus” by Green Apple Co (artwork by Janet Powers)
Stitched for Love Quilts Australia
Stitched on 14ct white Aida with DMC threads

Then last weekend I started back loosely with my rotation, and picked up my pastel needleroll to finish off:

M Designs-Thistle Needleroll pastels
“Thistle Needleroll – Pale Colorway” by M Designs
Started 26 January 2014 – Finished 31 August 2014
Stitched on 32ct Lambswool linen by Wichelt
with a mix of Olde Willow, Crescent Colours and DMC threads
(I had to substitute some threads and mix the colours as my Olde Willow threads
had faded so much over the years they were almost white!)

And then my final finish took place yesterday – I only had about 3 hours of stitching left in my ‘small/medium projects’ slot, but I opted to just keep stitching until I finished it (hence my comment about ‘loosely’ following my rotation!). This was a real joy to stitch, with some good challenges, and it just needs to be made into a little pincushion now.

Periwinkle Promises-Blue Bell Sampler Accent
“Blue Bell Sampler Accent” by Periwinkle Promises
Started 31 August 2014 – Finished 6 September 2014
Stitched using kit threads (AVAS silks) and linen fabric

Inbetween working on my rotation slots, I have opted to leave my current focus piece project sitting in the lounge on my floor frame. Every 2nd weekend I spend one day stitching my little heart out on her while catching up on recorded TV … which means I’ve sort of taken her out of my rotation, and I just stitch on her when I feel like sitting in the lounge. The rest of my rotation stitching is done in my bedroom sat up in bed stitching (my most common stitching location these days – I got into the habit of that with my last flatmate as I hated spending any time in the lounge when he was home). Anyhoo, here she is in her current glory (well almost anyway, I’ve actually done a bit more since this photo was taken – she’ll definitely be finished by the end of this year, which is awesome). Angel of Love by Lavender & Lace:

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After I’d finished my Victoria Sampler’s Crimson Fire Sampler, I needed to find another old UFO to take its place, and I chose this piece stitched on Congress Cloth. I managed to finally finish the darned bees on the left-hand side of the fabric, but my thread snapped while I was stitching the 2nd side of the hemstitching rows so I decided to give it a miss for a while and started stitching over on the main pain of the stitching. I hadn’t realised just how much metallic thread is used on this project, and it was a relief to finally get to the bee’s head and have something lovely and soft to stitch with. I opted to stop, though, at the end of the 10 hours rotation slot, but look forward to seeing that slot come around again in the future 🙂

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And next up in my rotation is Quaker Christmas II – this hasn’t seen the light since I did one rotation slot on it back in February, so it will be nice to add a few more stitches to this one … and that’ll give me something to show for my October WIPocalypse post 🙂

Talking of which, I guess I also need to answer the WIPocalypse questions for these two months as well, so here goes:

10 August:

“Tell us about your oldest and newest WIPs.”
Well, I guess my oldest one now is probably Stoney Creek’s Natures Rest. This is possibly one that will never ever be finished – aside from making a massive blue on the tree stump and the need to frog a huge section, because I can’t work out what was wrong and what was right, it was also using some older threads that I no longer have so there’s every likelihood that I will have mis-matched dyelots and this will show, especially with the greys. I don’t have too much love for this old project (my first ever on evenweave fabric, and I didn’t follow the instructions properly so I used 2 strands of thread in the background instead of 1 strand …). Whatever could go wrong with this piece, it certainly did – and it remains relatively unloved because of it!

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My newest WIP according to my rotation records is a canvaswork piece called Sand and Surf by Northern Pine Designs.  My canvaswork rotation is coming up soon, so I can’t wait to get back into working on this one again.  I have a feeling I won’t stop until this one is finished, as canvaswork tends to go quite quickly with some of the big chunky stitches.

Surf and Sand

9 September:

“Who is your favourite person to stitch for, or do you prefer to keep your stitching yourself?”
I have to admit over the years I’ve given most of my stitching away – over the last 10 years, though, I tend to stitch more for myself with the odd gift given out. I like to stitch gifts for people, but as soon as I make a commitment to do something my brain goes into meltdown and it removes the enjoyment of stitching for me – I’d much rather stitch something then decide after it’s finished to gift it to someone.

Thistle Needleroll

I’ve been planning projects for a formal rotation, but truthfully haven’t had the mental energy to put it all into place as yet … I need to put everything onto Qsnaps and/or scrollbars and to ensure everything is kitted up properly before putting it all in order into a designated project ‘tub’.  In truth I get more enjoyment about of sorting through my stash to narrow down the potential suspects for the year rather than doing the stitching itself … but I’m sure over the New Year I’ll find some mental space to do it all properly and get the rotation kicked off for real 🙂

For now, though, I snuck in a new start over the last week, and did most of the stitching over the weekend to finish it off.  This was supposed to be the next project for my ‘small to medium sized projects’ in my rotation, but it jumped out at me early – probably only because I had the fabric and threads ready to go (including the fabric being nicely ironed in advance) … so what’s a girl to do?  I actually have the 2nd needleroll ready to go as well, but might wait for a couple of rotation slots before starting that one again so soon – this version is the “vibrant” colourway, and I still have the pastel version to complete.

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“Thistle Needleroll” by M Designs (vibrant colourway)
stitched on 28ct Lugana ~ colour Miracle Mint
with recommended threads (except used DMC alternatives for Anchor 898 and Olde Willow Antique Violet)

I won’t get around to doing the “finishing” of this one until the New Year, so for now it’s been added to the ever-mounting finishing pile.  As for what to start stitching next, that’s a very good question!

Seeing as I’m only in Oz for another working day (hopefully), my next new start will take place in NZ while I’m visiting with my folks.  I’m probably going to just take a couple of small ornaments and/or kits with me to work on, as I doubt I’ll get much stitching time in … but fingers crossed I’ll get to hang out with a group of lovely stitching ladies in Auckland on Sunday at a LNS.  I say fingers crossed, because it all depends on whether I can actually GET to NZ … the joys of staff travel and being on stand-by, and the flights are all almost 100% full to capacity as it is.  I’m limiting myself to 2 full days sitting at the airport – after that I’m going to stay home and try again on Christmas Day … but in the meantime I’m hoping for a miracle that a few people sleep in and miss their flights (very selfish of me, I know!).  Time will tell … and in the meantime I’m off to go choose a couple of projects to throw into my bag with me … if I choose something small enough I can get some stitching done at the airport, especially as it’s likely I’ll be there for the entire day each day!!  And otherwise I’ll be making sure my Kindle is full charged up, along with my iPhone … if nothing else I’ll be able to keep myself amused somehow, that’s for sure! 🙂

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

The wanderer returns

I’ve been out of town for the last week with work, spending my time in our call centre in Brisbane (Queensland).  It was grueling work, with some days being 14 hour working days, but it was really invigorating and rewarding for me personally, and the feedback I received from the staff I worked with was inspiring.  Not to mention how wonderful it was to sleep in air-conditioned comfort for 4 nights.  This was home for 5 days – and the great thing is there was a full laundry and kitchen, so aside from self-catering to keep the bills down (and healthy food to keep the weight down) I was able to do my laundry on Thursday night so I didn’t have to do it this weekend 😉

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Alas the testing didn’t quite get completed which means I have to do a bucket load more myself this week – I’d booked an RDO for this week from weeks and weeks ago stating there was no way I was going to be doing project testing on my birthday … but alas it looks like that will have to be cancelled and I will indeed be doing testing on that day (unless I put in the hard yards Mon/Tue and keep my fingers crossed both days).

Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter really, it’s just a day, and I didn’t have anything special planned for the day anyway … the night’s different, though, Katie is treating me out for dinner on Wednesday night to a local French restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to ever since I moved to this part of Sydney.  They have cheap mid-week set menus, and while the food certainly isn’t Weight Watchers friendly, it looks yummy and I can’t wait!!  We’re also getting a bus up as well, which means I can have a drink or three for a change 😀

I didn’t stitch at all when I was away in Brisvegas, as I was generally found glued to massive Excel spreadsheets on the laptop every night, so yesterday I refused to move from my stitching chair, and cleaned out all the TV recordings from last week (and believe me, there was a LOT) – I may have had numb-butt syndrome, but I did manage to put the finishing touches into this (just don’t ask me when the actual needleroll finishing will be taking place, ‘cos I think that’ll be some time away yet!).

Shepherds Bush-Happy Pumpkin Needle Roll

“Happy Pumpkin Needle Roll” by Shepherd’s Bush
stitched on 32ct Parkside (I think) hand-dyed linen by Silkweaver
with recommended threads
(I subbed my own button and beads as this was a 2nd-hand used chart)

Today I’m driving to the other side of Sydney to Concord for my first visit to a stitching group at the NSW Embroiderers Guild.  I signed up when Mum was over here when I was feeling really motivated about my stitching, but of course they closed over the summer holiday period and this month it is finally reopened again properly so this is the first opportunity I’ve had to pop on over.  I’ve found two groups that are mainly XSers that meet on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays of each month, so I phoned up and found out they both had spaces available … and today is my first visit to the first group.  I’m feeling extremely nervous, as I’m very shy meeting new people, but this is something I just need to push through and get over!  Hopefully it will turn out that I really enjoy it, and it gets me out of the house every once in a while 🙂

Photo Hunt – Stripes (9 October)

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The theme on 9 October was ”Stripes” and here are some stripes on the skirts of a Maori cultural group in Rotorua, New Zealand.  The Maori name for the skirt is “piupiu”, and it is a traditional item of clothing made from flax leaves.  I love the swishing sound it makes when it swirls and the dried flax hit each other.  If you want to see some traditional piupiu, you can find some here on the Te Papa Museum website.

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And in keeping with trying to find stitching/needlework examples of the weekly themes, here is the unmade needleroll that I stitched for an exchange years ago – it was a self-made design by using some elements from other designs and making some parts up … I was quite pleased with the end result.

Melanies Exchange for Paula