IsoMaynia – week one

What an amazing boost to crafting goodness IsoMaynia has been for me. My engagement with my crafts has been through the roof, and it’s been wonderful to do some sort of creative endeavour every single day in May.

Here are the projects that were at the end of my needle for IsoMaynia through the first week of May:

1 May: Tilda Zippy pouch challenge

A Tilda Facebook group challenge, this was a totally new project to me, and got me back using the sewing machine and hand-sewing the binding on – first time using the plastic sheeting as well. The small one was the size for the challenge, and I chose to make a larger one as well for the designs I want to stitch each month for an annual Hallowe’en SAL challenge (of which I’ve been woeful at these last couple of years).

2 May: Stitching is the Berries by Periwinkle Promises

I’d actually started this one the week prior, so I’ve included a before and after shot to show how much I achieved on the day. The border is made up of lots and LOTS of queen stitches, and it’s using a different stitch technique that I’ve never seen before. I’ll be honest I struggled with it quite a lot, but after a while I grew to like it, and I ended up doing a few other projects using the same technique. It’s not my normal choice of colours, but I love the richness of the reds and it’s been fun to try some different stitches again. This is a kit that came with the fabric and threads and the finishing kit with the tin etc. Bought from a friend unloading some stash last year, it’s been fun to work on so far.

3 May: WIP – Raphael’s Raspberries by Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches

Oh my goodness this has been an unloved UFO for so very long – probably about five years now I think. I managed to get about six queen stitches done before throwing it in a corner for whatever reason. After the Periwinkle Promises queen stitches, though, I found I whipped through these ones pretty quickly. I think another full day of stitching and I just might have got all the main body of the stitching done … I think I’ll have to return to this one in June and get it finished. I have the matching sweet bag to go with it, so then I’ll set that up as a new start and a bigger challenge.

4 May: My other car is a broom by Lizzie*Kate

This was a kit put together by a LNS in Berry that has since closed down. In hindsight the fabric choice wasn’t great and the stitching disappears on it (the picture on the left is closer to the colour IRL). I wish I’d subbed the fabric for a darker one now, but it’s too late for that now (and I can’t be bothered unpicking the green and doing it again). I managed to start and finish this one on the same day, which is great – it was my first IsoMaynia finish 😀

5 May: Patch Coeur Août by Un Chat dans l’aiguille

A different challenge today doing surface stitchery. This is a kit that I bought on my last visit to Paris with Mum, so it was time I gave it a try. I always felt a bit intimated by it, especially as the instructions are all in french, but the stitch diagrams are clear enough to work out what the stitches are, and I managed to translate the key areas of the instructions to get me on my way. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, although I’ve now learned how sewing the ends in the back can pull on the front stitching and it stuffed up my buttonhole wheels in the lighthouse – I’ll just redo them later when I pick it back up again. It’s actually a lovely change not having to follow a chart and count for every stitch 🙂

6 May: Moose Joy by Angel Stitchin’

This was the January ornament choice by a JCS Ornie SAL Facebook group. I started it in January (so I’ve included the before and after photos), but just wasn’t feeling the love for it. I think it was more to do with my battling with depression and not having any mojo than anything being wrong with the design itself). I didn’t manage to get it finished on 5 May, but the next day I put the final stitches in place. Using my own choice of threads.

7 May: Aroha (Love) cushion by The Stitchsmith

Bought as a kit while Dad was in hospital last year, I started this one in February as my monthly stitching GTG project … mindless stitching while being able to chat and still make progress. Sadly February was the last GTG we had in person, so I figured I might as well give it some love for a short while. As this was a work-day, I only managed a short time working on it, but got the equivalent of one letter stitched – finishing the letter O and starting on the letter H.

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.

Exchanges, WIPs and Finishes

In my overflowing mailbox this week I received an exquisite exchange from Elaine in NZ (this was an exchange hosted by the StitchNZ Yahoo Group).  I’m absolutely thrilled with this exchange – I really adore hardanger, although I still haven’t kicked myself in the pants enough to get back into it myself again … and this one is just gorgeous!  Elaine made it into a stitching pocket so I can hold my needlework tools and supplies – and sent along a matching wee pincushion (so gorgeous!) and packet of needles.  I’ve taken loads of photos so you can share in the beautiful stitching detail of this piece – while photos never do stitching real justice, I’m sure you can imagine that the finished piece is even more exquisite!  Thanks Elaine for a wonderful exchange! 😀

StitchNZ exchange 3

StitchNZ exchange 6

StitchNZ Exchange from Elaine July 2010

StitchNZ Exchange from Elaine July 2010

My exchange piece unfortunately left a little bit late (actually a whole week late, ahem!) … thanks to not being able to get to the Post Office.  As I’m pretty positive the recipient doesn’t read my blog, but perhaps I’d better play it safe and not post details about it yet … I’ll tempt you with a photo of the ‘backside’ in the meantime, and will post more when it’s received 🙂

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What’s next???  Oh yes, yesterday I sat in the lounge with Katie watching Dark Angel DVDs, and doing a teeny bit of finishing – I managed to get the Christmas Ornament tutorial photos completed (very basic ornie) which also means one more ornament off the finishing pile, my Just Nan Ladybug Santa is now in its little Whimzi frame, and I completed the Periwinkle Promises January Sampler Accent into its little pillow, complete with little corner tassels (I ran out of silk for the backing fabric/joining, but luckily had a skein or two in my stash that I was grab to finish this one off).

Christmas Cheer Ornament finished

Just Nan-Ladybug Santa framed

Periwinkle Promises-January Sampler Accent finished

Tassels

As for my WIPs themselves, I’ve done very very little stitching over the last week or so – I managed to put a handful of beads into Chatelaine’s Egyptian Garden Mandala (3 nights of beading and I’m still not even halfway finished the one band of beads – the row on the edge of the lotus flowers) – it doesn’t help that the beads don’t sit nicely with that poxy fabric that I’m using, so I’m having to squeeze the beads in and offset them every 6 or 7 beads:

EGM 23Jul10

Then yesterday I managed to complete some more of the border of the Quaker Huswif, and am now working on the bottom quaker band.  Once this section is finished, I’ll be flipping the design upside down and unrolling the scrollbars to work on the final two sections at the other end – I think at this point in time I’m pretty much sitting on the halfway mark of this piece 🙂

Quaker Huswif 24Jul10

And that’s pretty much it for now … not sure what I’ll be stitching on this week, if anything … I’ve got some big deadlines at work over the next fortnight, so I may be putting in some longer hours, which means less mental/physical energy for stitching …

One more for the finishing pile

I guess you can tell that I found the elusive little teeny packet of beads (they were hiding inside the chart in the stitching bag!) … which means all the stitching is now finished, and I just have to do put it all together … but that’s for another day …

Periwinkle Promises-January Accent Sampler
“January Accent Sampler” by Periwinkle Promises
stitched with kit materials (Au Ver a Soie silk)
on 28ct natural Cashel linen

Pinkeep received and latest WIP

Sharon let me know that my angel pinkeep reached its destination safely – and that she likes it, yay 😀  Sharon has a wee angel collection as she loves angels, and as soon as I found that out years ago that little angel ornament became Sharon’s in my heart … it’s just taken me a few years to finally stitch up the personalisation on the back and decide to finish it into a pinkeep.  Sharon re-wrote in her blog post about how we first came to meet – that story always makes me smile! 😀

As for me, I only did a teeny bit of stitching while I was in NZ – I didn’t take my lapframe with me, so had to hold my Qsnap in hand, which apart from slowing my stitching down, it also makes my left hand cramp up.  Mum had a good suggestion to buy another one and leave one there, so that she can use it day-to-day, and I can borrow it when I come over to visit … great thinking, Mum!!  I now have until October to get cracking and get one ordered from Artisan Design (the Elan lapframe).

At least I managed to put a couple of small bands into the piece, though, and last night I finished the stitching on the zig-zag band of Mosaic stitch.  Now I just have a row of snowmen to stitch on the bottom, and two more rows of long-armed cross stitch, then it’s ready for finish-finishing into a wee pillow.  Sorry for the crappy photo – I’ll take a better one with close-ups of the stitches once it’s all finished … in the meantime this’ll make do 😉

“January Sampler Accent” by Periwinkle Promises (kit)

The kit came with two pieces of linen – one plain one for the back.  As I have a few more of these charts on loan from a friend that aren’t obviously kits, I’m tossing up whether to save the backing linen for those designs instead, and just using the sewing machine to sew a fabric backing on – while it won’t be finished as ‘neatly’ as hand-sewing using a whipstitched back stitch, it might make better use of the fabric???

Today I have a HUGE list of things that need to be done, so I’d better get off the computer and start making headway through it.  First things first, stripping my bed and getting my washing started, then I can come back upstairs and start finishing a couple of items off ready to be parcelled up and posted.  Although I’m also tempted to sit and finish this project first so I can finish that on the machine as well … oh, so many things to do, so little time … LOL.  Perhaps I should just content myself with my gift finishing first, and then do the Periwinkle Promises piece tonight in front of the gogglebox … but then again, I’m very bad at doing things I ‘should’ be doing LOL.

Why I don’t “do” Kits!

Here I have been merrily and happily stitching away on my Acorn Needlebook … on the homeward stretch, and completing the final centre block of stitches, and “wham!”, I am rudely reminded that on the whole “I really and truly hate kits!” … gotta love the convenience of having fabric, threads and embellishments all ready and prepared in the one place without requiring any effort … but by crikey it sucks when you don’t get enough threads to complete the project 😦

You may be able to tell which thread I’ve run out of … it’s not hard to work out … I guess it’s time to hunt down a new skein before I can get it finished … geez I hope someone local has it in stock!

Acorn Needlebook 02May09

I have to repeat … “geez, I hate kits!!!”

Then for something different I decided to turn into a brunette today … I have a head the colour of mahogany, and I feel shell-shocked 😉

Ornament time

Things have been quiet on the stitching front this week – instead I’ve been going to the gym and getting a program organised.  I’ve now got both a cardiovascular program and strength program, and I have to say after doing my strength program yesterday I thought my arms were going to drop off!!!

Today, though, I’ve made a bit of an effort to try turning an ornie or two into an actual ornament – here is my April ornie challenge piece all finished up (I knew those sexy Gingher pinking shears would come in handy one day!!):

Prairie Schooler-Snowy Night ornie

I really love the finished look of this style of finishing, and can definitely see more of these in the future!  In fact, I got straight into it and finished off an ornie that Mum stitched and gave to me while I was home last week.  Here’s that one all nicely finished up:

Mum's PS ornie

As for stitching itself, I only managed to get a tiny bit of stitching done on my Acorn Needlebook last night – the photo is terrible, as there’s no lighting on for it … Two more little bands of long-armed XS, and the start of the backstitched vines and leaves for the centre of the front cover of the needlbook:

Periwinkle Promises-Acorn Needlebook WIP 17Apr09

I’m also putting Winter Queen back on her scroll bars today, and have managed to find and attach my magnifying lens for my Ott-Lite so I can make a second attempt at Nicki’s Quaker RR piece.  Unfortunately with the hours I’d been working, my eyes are really tired in the evenings, so I was struggling to see clearly without straining on the 40ct hand-dyed linen … at least it means if my eyes are tired now, I can use the magnifying lens (never had to use it before, so it will be interesting to see how it works!).

Anyway, back I go to the creative corner … I’m hoping to at least get one more item started on the way to being “finish-finished”, as well as cranking my sewing machine up and learning to use it … 😀

Gotta make the most of it, ‘cos I’m back into work for 6 hours tomorrow, then out all day Sunday drooling over Mr Ackles and Mr Padalecki at the Supernatural Convention – I can’t believe the day has finally rolled around, and we’ll be seeing the stars in the flesh this weekend.  I feel like a teenager all over again LOL 😀

Back to sweltering Sydney

After a whirlwind trip back home to Auckland where I froze my buns off, it’s back to Sydney and the hottest day in the history of April since time began apparently … oh yay, LOL (sorry Zeb, I only got your email when I got home Sunday afternoon, so didn’t get chance to catch up – will definitely give you a holler the next time I come over, though, so we can arrange a meeting!).

It was really lovely to go home again and Dad was happy that I managed to clear out about 2 suitcases full of clothes to go to the Salvation Army plus about half a big wheelie bin full of soon-to-be-shredded papers.  Ah, I so love going home for a holiday haha.  The weather was shocking, so we didn’t get to go sightseeing at all around Auckland – and unfortunately the flights were really full out of Wellington, so at the 11th hour Mum and I cancelled our flights, as it had the potential to be an extremely costly trip … of course we forgot about Easter and school holiday traffic … doh!

I didn’t get too much stitching done, although I did stitch up my April Christmas ornie for the ornie Challenge … and I’ve since started the Acorn Needle Book by Periwinkle Promises, which is a kit I’ve had in my stash for way too many years now.  It’s been really fun doing every stitch except XS so far in this piece, although I’m a bit wary of the upcoming acorn cap completely made up of french knots {{shudder}}.

Prairie Schooler-Snowy Night
“Snowy Night” by The Prairie Schooler
from 2008 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue
stitched on 32ct Merino hand-dyed linen by Countrystitch
with recommended DMC threads

Acorn Needle Book 1
“Acorn Needle Book” kit by Periwinkle Promises – first WIP photo

Acorn Needle Book 2
A bit of rice stitch, satin stitch, double holbein stitch, double back-stitch (or long-armed XS), and finished with a smidge of normal back stitch

Mum and I managed to catch up with my Auntie Trudy (who’s not actually an Aunt, but a family friend that I’ve grown up with in NZ), and it was lovely to see her again.  I came away being spoilt with a lovely blue scarf she knit for me, so I feel very special 🙂

The highlight of the trip (and our final night) was a visit to my fave family, the Smiths … Auntie Heather (again an extremely close family friend that I adore) has known me since I was six weeks old in the UK, and our two families have grown up together when we both emigrated to New Zealand.  There are only a few years difference between the age groups of myself and their two children, Tracey and Carl, and now they both have their own children and we have our own “Granny Smith” (she hates being called that!).  It turned out to be Danial’s birthday during our visit, so we were able to visit on Saturday afternoon/evening on his birthday – it was great fun!  Tracey and Glen live out in the country south of Auckland, and it was great to finally visit their property and play with all the animals.  The only ones I didn’t get to pet were the cows! 😉

Here are a number of photos from our visit – including some very special Easter bunnies, that were part of Danial’s birthday present.

Danial's birthday 2
Danial, Bradley and Heather (with stickers on her forehead compliments of youngest grandchild Danial!)

Danial's birthday 3
Tracey hard at work in the kitchen preparing dinner

Danial's birthday 5
How many men does it take to put together a racing car set? Four, apparently! ;P

Danial's birthday 4
Maybe we should read the instructions, Grandad!

Danial's birthday 7
Easter bunnies country-style

Danial's birthday 8
Awwwww……. Somebunny loves ya Heather!

Danial's birthday 9
The Dragon having a bunny cuddle

Danial's birthday 6
And this bundle of fun I just couldn’t wait to have a cuddle with, I love him to death … poor Dodge got so excited that he kindly peed on my leg … I think that means he likes me! haha – he’s such a soppy soft dog you’ve gotta love him!  This is him begging me to come outside to play with him – I kept leaning out the window to give him a pat! 😀

Danial's birthday 1
And to finish off, here’s the birthday boy with his icecream cake – with Dad (Glen), and the Dragon (Mum)

Now it’s back to the heat of Sydney, and I’m over it already after 48 hours!!  Will summer never end??  Bring on those cooler autumn days with blue skies … keep your pelting rain and humidity!  Oh well, at least I can laze around at home over the next few days indoors … inbetween going to gym sessions each day this week … I’ve finally joined a gym to get my fat A into shape and feel a bit healthier.  Going to the chiropractor all these months has been wonderful, and I’m ready to make a healthy change – going to the gym will hopefully help me reach that goal … I just need to get back into the routine of going regularly before work!

Anyway, I’d better skedaddle and put some laundry washing in while it’s still daylight and the laundry nazis don’t chase me out (we have to be out by 8pm sharp!) … can’t guarantee there’ll be a stitching finish any time soon, as I want to put a few hours into Mirabilia’s Winter Queen (thanks to me joining a UFO challenge group) and also get some decent stitching time into Nicki’s Quaker RR 😀

Look forward to catching up on your blogs over the next few days as well … ah, the joy of still being on holiday!! 😀