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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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 😛

Not one but TWO finishes!

I lived up to my word and poor old Flossy (well, she’s a babe really, to say she’s only been around for a week or two!) has been put on the shelf for now … the urge got to me yesterday and I spent the afternoon catching up on recorded TV while finishing off two of my WIPs I mentioned in my last post.

First up is Ebb Tide by Northern Pine Designs.  Oh boy, this was a fun design to stitch!  I can’t say I’ll be in a hurry to stitch with Rachel thread again, but once I got clever and used some nail polish across the top of the thread where I cut it, it was a lot easier to use!  It’s the first time I’ve ever done Jessica stitches, and they’re really quite cute, and easy to do once you get the hang of them!  I did them slightly differently to how the instructions told you to do them, as I’d seen them done on some other needlepoint blogs … by tucking the last two stitches inside and underneath the previous stitches, so they sit perfectly.  All-in-all I’m thrilled this one is finally finished … and I spent no time at all popping the next Northern Pine design onto the bars to start a new one!

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“Ebb Tide” by Northern Pine Designs
stitched on Leventeen Blue canvas
with recommended threads

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While I was trying to take a photo last night my camera was struggling a bit to focus … imagine my delight at the colours showing on the viewing screen when it will still a blur … it made me smile so I captured the image! 🙂

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Here is the next design ready for starting … just need to find a couple of the missing threads (geez I hope I actually have bought these ones, otherwise I guess it won’t be started soon! LOL).  If not, I’ll just have to find another canvaswork design to throw onto some bars … I think I always need to have a piece of canvaswork ready to go at a moment’s notice, it gives me such pleasure! 🙂

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Then I decided to put the final stitches into LHN’s Acorn Hill – it didn’t take too long at all to pop the final words into place, and it became my second finish yesterday evening.

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“Acorn Hill” by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 28ct antique ivory coloured Jobelan 
with recommended Crescent Colours cotton floss

After that I decided to go back to old Flossy, and managed to put a few more stitches into the top wings – I didn’t bother taking a progress piccie as there wasn’t really too much to show … perhaps the next time you see her she will be finished … or maybe not … LOL.

Major Happy Dance!!

I can’t believe the time has come when I have FINALLY put the last lot of beads into Enchanted Mermaid!  Unfortunately my camera is playing up so I can only use my iPhone at the moment for a photo, and it does her no justice whatsoever … she is without doubt the most blingey cross stitch project I’ve ever worked on.  In real life she really sparkles with all the treasures and beads she’s adorned with!

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“Enchanted Mermaid” by Mirabilia
Started October 2009 ~ Finished 20 October 2013
Stitched on 28ct hand-dyed Cashel by Picture This Plus ~ colour Fathom
with recommended threads and Mill Hill beads/treasures (squillions of them!)

Next up I continue to stitch as much as I could today on Acorn Hill … this has to be put aside for now while I wait for a replacement thread to arrive.  I’ve stitched all the other colours, so I have to wait now for more Brown Sugar to arrive, then it’s just a case of finishing up the lettering which won’t take too long at all 🙂

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I think my next BAP focus piece will continue to be TW’s English Garden Sampler.  I’m so close to a finish with that one, it doesn’t make sense to stop … although it’s a real challenging piece for me stitching in the evenings, so it’ll continue to be stitched within a semi-rotation with easier projects during the week.  It would be nice to get it finished before the end of the year, but I’m not entirely sure that’s do-able now unless I stitch on that solely … which for my sanity just isn’t going to happen!

Then I really need to pull my finger out and get a very overdue wedding sampler started … with any luck they’ll get it before their 10th wedding anniversary!! 😉

Acorn Hill

After finishing Trick or Treat I couldn’t face going back to do the beading on my mermaid or the blended needles on my TW so I opted for an easy stitch that I’ve wanted to do for years … I’ve always adored the warm colours of this one and it hasn’t disappointed at all – it’s been a fun stitch so far. I’m at the halfway mark now so it’s time to roll up the scroll bars to start the bottom half. Sadly, though, my usual stitchers curse has appeared again and I’m going to run out of the Brown Sugar thread … b*gger! Never mind it’s an excuse to kick myself into gear to place a thread order 😉

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Peppermint ornament

After having an afternoon ‘nap’ of 4 hours, I decided to try finishing my Peppermint ornament by LHN and surprised myself by managing it 🙂  It’s supposed to have a JABC peppermint cane button attached, but when I placed it on my ornie it didn’t suit it at all (not to mention it seems I had bought the wrong size!).  Unfortunately I chose a fabric that was a bit too light so the DMC 3865 didn’t show up clearly – I had to sub it with DMC B5200 to allow it to show up at all.  But that also means the colour doesn’t match the button at all … never mind I think I prefer it without the button anyway, so this is how it will stay 😀

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“Peppermint Twist” by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 32ct hand-dyed Lugana by Countrystitch ~ colour Pipi
with recommended threads (DMC, Crescent Colours, Weeks Dye Works)

I really need to stop being lazy and taking my photos on my iPhone late at night … note to self, start taking photos using your camera in the future!!!

Early WIPocalypse update

I realise that we’re still 2 days away from the full moon appearing, but I’m deciding to post early anyway … there are a lot of things happening at home at the moment, so it just seems ‘right’ to do it now while I can.

For any readers that don’t know (and I’m sure I can count readers on one hand these days anyway), I flew to NZ to be with my parents as Dad had surgery on 7 February.  The plan was that I would continue to work from home as I have a lot happening at work … but that I’d work either side of having hospital visits with Dad while he was recuperating after his operation.  Mum doesn’t drive, so that also means she had a mode of transport to and from the hospital … I say that that was the ‘plan’ but it seems plans don’t always go as you hope …

Unfortunately Dad’s surgery didn’t quite go as well as expected, and 3 days later he went downhill and was taken into the Intensive Care Unit and then in for emergency surgery – they found a tear in his bowel which was fixed in the 2nd surgery.  For the entire next 1 1/2 weeks he was totally vegetative and non-responsive, aside from getting agitated and trying to pull himself out of bed and pulling his tubes out.  Last week I decided it was too emotionally draining to try and work as well, so I spoke to my boss and we both agreed that home should come first and I stopped working entirely – I’m incredibly blessed to have such an understanding work group, and I’ve been able to take carer’s leave (using my sick leave balance).

We were invited around to our closest friends home for dinner last Sunday night, and while we were there we had a phone call from the hospital to say Dad was in a really bad state again, and they were concerned with the CT scan results from that afternoon … he was taken in for yet another surgery.  We truthfully didn’t expect him to make it off the operating table, and weren’t looking forward to the next phone call from the surgeon.  I have to admit it was really good to be with friends when we got the news, so we had some more support to fall back on.

The biggest surprise is that when we went in to visit him the next day he was actually up and awake, and actually recognised us when we walked in and spoke … Mum and I were totally gobsmacked!!  We had a good visit with him that day – while he was still far from perfect, he was coherent enough to make sense and respond to questions etc … we tried not to be hopeful, and still felt really positive about his recovery after the odds being so stacked against him.

Sadly, though, his recovery has gradually gone downhill since, and the last couple of days he has been reverting a little bit to how he used to be.  He’s been agitated and his speech has eventually got more difficult and he’s been speaking rubbish and been very confused and ‘doped up’ for want of a better word.  His tummy wound is still oozing, he’s not coughing like he should be so there’s a possibility of him getting pneumonia, and the Dr had a frank discussion with me this afternoon about his condition.  Unfortunately Mum has also been a patient over the last 3 days, as she put her back out and has been laid up in bed for 3 days, so she wasn’t able to hear that discussion first hand.  It turns out that they’re gravely concerned about him but that they don’t believe he will improve at all if they operate again etc – they will continue to try to see him on the road to improvement but will need to do it with physiotherapy and antibiotics etc … but essentially won’t put him through any more major risks medically.  I was asked if I understood what that meant and if I’m OK with it … what else can you say in circumstances like those?  I know they’ve done everything they possibly can do for him to get him better, and it’s been emotionally devastating watching a family member suffering and deteriorating so rapidly.  It’s all up to him now to fight the good fight if he still has it in him … all we can is to be there in support for him as much as we can.

So, I guess that’s the reason I’m finding it the right time to post my WIPocalypse update today … I just don’t know what I’ll be doing in two days time … and over the last 2 days I’ve managed to get a bit of stitching done in the form of stress relief, so I might as well post the piccies now as later …

The first week I arrived in NZ I finished off the following (finish #2 of my 2013 Crazy January Challenge projects):

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“Little Witch” by Shepherd’s Bush (kit)

And over the last 2 weeks I managed to start and eventually finish (today) the following (finish #3 of my 2013 Crazy January Challenge projects):

Moon and Stars by LHN

“Moon and Stars” by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 27ct blue Linda fabric
with recommended Crescent Colours threads plus DMC 221 (red)

Next up is a Round Robin which is due to be posted in a week’s time, so I need to get cracking on that one … mind you our group is pretty understanding that there may be a delay … fingers crossed I get plenty of opportunity to stitch over the next few days, as that means Dad’s still going OK with his recovery …