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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Scissor Fob #2 Tutorial (with corded edging)

This is the latest tutorial I’ve just posted on the Focus on Finishing blog … I hope someone finds it useful! 🙂

Scissor Fob #2 (with corded edging)

This time round the scissor fob I’ve chosen is a simple pillow with a corded edging.  I think it is better to use a home-made cord for this, as it is softer to manipulate, but you can always try to use purchased cord if the home-made cord intimidates you too much!

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Materials needed:

  • Your chosen stitched piece, including a front and back
  • Polyfil stuffing or other stuffing of your choice (eg teddy bear pellets or crushed walnut shells)
  • DMC pearl cotton or cotton floss for cording
  • DMC cotton floss for attaching the cord
  • Sewing needle (either a sharp or tapestry needle)
  • Pins and scissors

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1.  First of you you need to cut the front piece of your stitching into the desired size.  I find the easiest way is to count the number of threads when using linen or the number of holes when using aida.  In this case I followed the design’s suggestion and counted out 25 threads from the stitching, then I pulled out the next thread – this makes a clean line for you to cut the excess fabric away.  Then once all 4 sides of the front piece have been cut, place it face down onto the back piece, with right sides of the stitching facing each other, and cut out the back to be the same size (don’t forget to make sure the back piece is centred correctly before starting to cut – I usually do this by holding the two pieces up together in front of a light source such as a bright window).  Pin the two pieces together.

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2.  Sew a seam around the edges, but leave an open gap at the bottom seam to allow you to turn it inside out and add the stuffing.  I usually leave one long tail of the sewing thread that I use for sewing up the opening at the end.

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3.  Cut away the corners, but don’t cut too close to the stitching, otherwise it may unravel when you turn the piece inside out.  Then trim back the side seams a little so they aren’t as bulky when turned inside out.

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4.  Turn your stitching inside out.  You may want to ease the corners with a chopstick or something similar for a crisper ‘point’ at the corners – be careful, though, so you don’t make holes in the corners (yes, that’s the voice of experience talking from my first attempt years ago!).

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5.  Now it’s time to stuff with your choice of stuffing material.  In this case I’ve chosen Polyfil, and once again I use a chopstick to ease some of the stuffing gently into the corners.  The amount of filling you use is down to personal preference – I prefer mine not to be over-stuffed, but firm enough to feel ‘full’.

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6.  Next you close up the opening in the bottom seam.  My preference is to use a ladder stitch, however you can use a whip-stitch if that is easier for you.  To do a ladder stitch you just work your way alternatively up each side of the seam, taking a few threads in your needle for each stitch – this looks like the rungs of a ladder when the stitches are loose, and when you pull them tight they close up the seam very cleanly.

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7.  Now it’s time to make your cording.  To do this you’ll need to have quite long pieces of thread, and I used 3 strands of pearl cotton that was supplied with my scissor fob kit.  Details of how to make cording yourself can be found in Scissor Fob #1 Tutorial.

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8.  Firstly you need to fold your cording in half and place a knot at approx 3 1/2″ to 4″ from the end.  Of course you may prefer a longer hanger, so feel free to make it as long as you want, just as long as you have enough cord to go around the edges 🙂

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9.  When we start to attach the cording around the edge of the scissor fob ‘pillow’, I find it easiest to place a pin through the centre of the cord knot and take it down into the pillow at the centre of the top seam.  From there I take the cord along the top seam and add two more pins to hold the cord in place temporarily.  I start off my thread by poking my needle through the top of the pillow, through the stuffing; pull the needle so the thread just disappears from view under the fabric, then add a few little catch stitches at the back of the knot (because I’m using black thread you can’t see these stitches, if you’re using another colour where the stitching thread shows up, you may want to do your catch stitches underneath the knot out of sight).

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Bring your needle to one side of the cord and take a small stitch under the seam – I try to put my needle in about 1 thread away from the seam, and come up approx 1 thread away from the seam on the other side, so it’s less likely to be seen.  (I pulled my knot up out of the way to show you the stitches, which pulled my loose tail out, so you need to be careful if you do this yourself!)

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Now you take your needle and thread over the top of the cording to the right-hand side once again, and this time put your needle through the fabric just in front of the next twist in the cord.  You should use the cord as your guideline here for the length of your stitches – your top thread should follow the ‘furrows’ in the cording and sit neatly in the shape of the cord.

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Unfortunately it’s quite difficult to see this with the black thread, so I have use another piece of cord with a contrasting thread as an example so you can see more clearly what I mean …

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My cord is a dark colour, so I prefer to use the above method to attach my cording – sometimes, though, if you’ve used a variegated thread, or if your cording is a lighter colour, you may prefer to attach the cord with a small stitch underneath the cord attaching it to the fabric.  To do it this way you just need to take your needle through the cord at the bottom the cord:

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Then take your needle through the fabric seam underneath the cord, bringing the needle through on a diagonal … then continue the same way until the cord is attached.

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Now after that little cording detour, it’s back to finishing off the scissor fob …

At this point you can remove the pins once your stitching is well underway.  Continue stitching the cord around the edge, stopping at the centre of the bottom seam.

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Now go back up to the top of the cord and do the remaining side the exact same way, and finish off your thread by taking a couple of small stitches into the cord.  Once again I ‘bury my thread’ by taking my needle into the pillow and coming up a wee way away and cutting off the thread flush with the pillow fabric … then you just give your pillow a quick squeeze and the end of the tail disappears.

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Lucky last, I pop a quick knot at the base of the pillow, and the scissor fob is finished 🙂  If you find your cording is too long, just make another knot at your desired length of each piece of cord, and cut off any extra length not required.

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10.  All that is left is to attach your fob to your chosen pair of scissors!

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I hope you have found the tutorial useful – if you happen to use any of the information I’d love to see your projects where you have used them 🙂

Kindest regards,

Preview of the next tutorial

Yesterday I had a mini finishing spree where I did all the photos needed (almost all anyway!) for two scissor fob tutorials.  As you can see from my previous post I managed to complete one of them and have it published … I want to take some more photos before I publish the second one, though, so the cord attachment is more clear.  In the meantime, however, I can share my two finishes from yesterday – so you have a preview of which fob finishing method is coming next … 😉

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It’s felt really good doing the tutorials once again … perhaps my finishing funk is slowly disappearing and a wee bit of mojo is returning? … I really do hope so! 😀

 

Halloween is on it’s way!

After hearing people talk about Halloween coming soon, I got a sudden urge to do a small bit of Halloween stitching … this little project has been sitting around for far too long in my ‘to be stitched’ pile, especially as the chart was on loan from a dear friend … so it finally got to see the light of day and I stitched it up over the last 2 days.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any of the green Fuzzy Stuff thread for the witch’s hair, and I’m too impatient to wait until I order some, so I just decided to use the green DMC that is used for Frankenstein’s face.  I also changed the fabric to something that I think suits it quite well 🙂

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“October” by Shepherd’s Bush
stitched on 32ct Thunderstorm Belfast linen
with recommended DMC threads, but using DMC instead of Fuzzy Stuff for witch’s hair

I managed to do quite a bit of stitching yesterday for the first time in weeks, and hope to have another happy dance in another day or two – a project I started in March this year when I was in NZ … and which was in my planned 2013 project stitching (Little Blue Potting Shed by Brown House Studio).

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 …