Hallowe’en SAL – May/Jun catch-up

Halloween ornie SAL

I’ve been pretty useless keeping up with my SALs again this year – gee, what a surprise!  Eventually, though, I do put needle to fabric and do a bit catch-up session.  That’s what I’ve been doing this weekend, starting to catch up on my Hallowe’en SAL with Jo and the team.

May – Black Cats

For the black cats theme, I continued working on Prairie Schooler’s ‘When Witches Go Riding’. Unfortunately I’m chewing through the Crescent Colours Blackbird thread way more quickly than expected, and I only have one skein left, which isn’t enough to do all the dark areas … so I opted to use DMC 3371 instead for the top banner and the borders. Also unfortunately, the colour is very different to the Blackbird thread, which leaves me in a quandary … whether I should unpick all the other three elements I’ve stitched and re-do them all again in DMC 3371.  If I do end up doing that, it’ll be at the end of the year, I think. You can’t even tell that the dark thread is an overdyed thread, so in hindsight I should have just used 3371 in the first place … but that’s the thing with hindsight, it only seems a good idea after you’ve already put the effort in! 😉

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June – Something Green

Oh my goodness, it took me a very long time to decide on what to stitch for this theme. As it turns out I’d made my decision, but when I was in my stitching room I spied a totally different design, and ended up stitching that one instead.  This was my chosen project, and I have to say I really love it! The colours are a lot deeper/brighter in real life, though.

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“Jack o’ Juggle Spell” by Cathy Dean for The Victoria Sampler
Stitched on 32ct summer khaki (or dirty, I can’t remember) Belfast linen
Stitched with recommended threads, with the exception of replacing Kreinik #4 braid 010HL with 011HL.
I also subbed the black beads with ones I had in my stash, and added two extra legs on the dangling spider.

Next up is July, and the theme is Ghosts – another theme with lots of project choices, but I’m opting for a very quick stitch option to help me catch-up. With any luck it won’t be long before that one is sitting in the finishing pile, as I fully intend to start stitching that one tonight 🙂  Then I’ll be all caught up, and it’ll be back to When Witches Go Riding for August’s theme of ‘Creepy Trees’.

UFO no longer … Ecstatic Happy Dance!!!

I finally plucked up the courage to just “do it” and finish the hardanger band at the top of my Crimson Fire Sampler.  I wouldn’t go to sleep last night until I’d put the very last stitches into this piece, and just managed to put the last ones it before midnight … I’m so thrilled with this one, it’s not funny!  My lack of confidence saw this end up as a UFO for 3 years … crazy, because I used to be an incredibly confident stitcher and my learning knew no bounds.  Not sure what happened really over recent years, so it felt amazingly good to prove to myself that I really can still do new things, and to ignore my inner voice in the future!!  Anyway, this is finish #3 of the year, and definitely the finish I’m most proud of since finishing off my Enchanted Mermaid last year!

"Crimson Fire Sampler" by The Victoria Sampler Stitched on 28ct white Cashel linen with recommended threads and beads Started Jan 2011 - Finished 28 Jan 2014

“Crimson Fire Sampler” by The Victoria Sampler
Stitched on 28ct white Cashel linen
with recommended threads and beads
Started Jan 2011 – Finished 28 Jan 2014

Now I’m back to my “small projects” rotation slot to finish off the last 5 hours … but I won’t be stitching until midnight this time round and happy to stagger that one over a few nights! 😉

2nd Finish for 2014

In readiness for completing the hardanger band on my Crimson Fire Sampler, I decided it would be wise to do a ‘refresher course’ on hardanger first, seeing it’s been so many years since I did my actual beginners class!  I rummaged through my ‘small project’ rotation filing box and managed to find the appropriate Beyond Cross Stitch kit by The Victoria Sampler.  Added to that I also dragged out the book by Janice Love called “Hardanger Basics and Beyond” for some extra clear photos and descriptions.  This book is without a doubt an absolute god-send for the basics of hardanger!!

Anyway, I finally put needle to fabric, and managed to start and finish this little sweetie in a day (4 1/4 hours of stitching to be exact … gotta love the stopwatch function and a timed rotation!!).  My woven bars aren’t perfect, as I still need to work on my tension a tiny bit … but overall after not doing hardanger woven bars for about 20 years I can’t complain really, and I’m pretty chuffed with it!

Victoria Sampler-Christmas Heart Beyond XS 5-3
“Beyond XS 5-3 Christmas Heart” by The Victoria Sampler
Stitched on 25ct white Lugana
with kit threads and beads
Started 26 Jan 2014 – Finished 26 Jan 2014

I was getting a bit tired by the end of the day, so I opted not to do any more hardanger last night, but instead did an hour on another “small project” for my rotation slot … leaving me with another 5 hours to go.  This is the ‘pale colourway’ of the Thistle Needlerolls by M Designs (I stitched the vibrant colourway before Christmas).

"Thistle Needleroll (pale colourway)" by M Designs Started 26 Jan 2014

“Thistle Needleroll (pale colourway)” by M Designs
Started 26 Jan 2014

I forgot that I’d meant to stitch up Lizzie*Kate’s Cross Stitcher in Residence in my small project rotation slot this time round, so the poor old needleroll may end up looking like that until the next rotation.  I have to say I wasn’t enjoying stitching it last night, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing!!

WIPocalypse January

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Well that wasn’t a very good start to the WIPocalypse year at all, was it?  Already late with the first post for the year!!!  I need to update my calendar with all the dates, I think!  I also haven’t been doing too well over the last few days with my stitching either … although I managed to get through quite a bit last weekend.  I’ll get to that shortly … first I need to do my ‘official’ WIPocalypse introduction post … to be specific I need to “Introduce yourself, your projects, and any goals you have for the year!”

This is my 3rd year of doing the WIPocalypse, and in truth I don’t intend to spend the year just focusing on my WIPs … I DO intend to work from my substantial chart/kit stash, however, and will only buy additional stash this year if I’m missing threads etc to kit up my projects.  This year I’m also going back to a formal rotation, of which I have 10 rotation slots, and stitching allocations of 10 hours per slot (with the exception of the “Finishing” slot, which I’m allowed to just do 5 hours … but no less than 5 hours!).

The main projects I really REALLY want to finish this year are some commitment pieces, some UFOs, and those designs I’ve already spent a bucketload of money on to kit them up (eg specialty threads etc).  In particular I’d like to work on the following, irrespective of seeing them finished or not by the year’s end:

  1. Angel of Love – L&L (hope to finish this one)
  2. Quaker Christmas II – ByGone Stitches
  3. Egyptian Garden Sampler – Chatelaine
  4. English Garden Sampler – TW (hope to finish this one)
  5. Elie’s wedding sampler (hope to finish this one)
  6. Miss Valentine Fairy – Nora Corbett/Mirabilia (will finish this one easily)
  7. Christmas Elf Dairy – Nora Corbett/Mirabilia (hope to finish this one)
  8. Cross Stitcher in Residence – Lizzie*Kate (will finish this ASAP)
  9. Eiffel Quaker – Jardin Private (will finish this one)
  10. Poppy Pixie – Nora Corbett/Mirabilia (will finish this one ASAP)
  11. Crimson Fire Sampler – The Victoria Sampler (almost finished with this one)
  12. Christmas double flip-its – Lizzie*Kate (hope to finish this one)

Anything over and above those projects will be icing on the cake 🙂

My rotation is already making some great inroads into a few of these projects – Crimson Fire Sampler has been a sadly neglected UFO since the 2011 Crazy January Challenge … after 10 hours working on this one last weekend I was so close to a finish that I extended my rotation slot by another couple of hours.  Now I’m just left with the hardanger band left to do, and it will be my first UFO finish of the year … woohoo!!  Following is how it looks now, before completing the hardanger band … hopefully I’ll get a better photo over the weekend in daylight, and I’ll be taking the photo of the finished article!!

photo 1 (2)

The only other news I have is that I saw my GP today for the results of my nuclear scans … there is no stress fracture, however the heel pains that I’ve had for so long have been putting extra stress on the rest of my foot, and it showed more arthritis in my foot, which is exacerbated by the plantar fasciitis.  As my heel pain has been returning quite quickly again, I’ve got another script for a cortisone shot under ultrasound yet again … but my GP is also now referring me to an Orthopaedic Surgeon to review surgical options.  I’ve got to give my GP his dues, he’s really trying to get to the bottom of it all, bless him … which I’m not thrilled to have the potential of surgery in my near future, I WILL be thrilled to finally have an outcome that will see me walking normally and without pain every single day … will have to wait and see I guess …

More Crimson Fire

No stitching for the last few days, but today I’m making an effort to do a bit more on my Crimson Fire Sampler … geez this is such a pretty design when it’s stitched up!  The chart photo doesn’t do it justice whatsoever, and probably neither do my photos!!  It’s certainly challenging my stitching abilities at the moment, as it’s been such a long time since I’ve tackled tricky specialty stitches, but oh boy it’s so worth all the effort!  Thanks to Thea Dueck/The Victoria Sampler for such a stunning design!!

Crimson Fire 18Jan2014

My nuclear scan on Friday didn’t seem to reveal a stress fracture, so it’s back to the drawing board again and back to my GP again next week … but in the meantime I’m enforcing myself to put my feet up for the entire weekend to rest my foot up … which means lots more time for stitching!!! 😀

It’s been a quiet week stitching-wise this week … it’s been too damned hot most days, even with the electric fan blaring … although I did manage to get a sum total of 3/4 hr stitching done on Tuesday night.  This is how Crimson Fire is looking now, at almost the half-way point in my rotation slot for it.  I did the teeny tiny (but quite pretty) gold sheaf stitch band with red beads and the lettering … oh well, every stitch is one step closer to a finish … slow and steady as she goes … 😉  This is a better photo colour-wise than the previous one, as it shows the fabric and threads more true to life 🙂 Crimson Fire 14Jan14

I’m hoping to get another hour done tonight if I can stay awake long enough!  I didn’t get much sleep last night – once again probably partly due to the heat, but also I was really quite anxious about having a bone scan done today at the Nuclear Medicine lab.  The scan was to check for a stress fracture in my left foot, as it’s been very uncomfortable since having my last cortisone injection in my heel … although the inflammation and discomfort has all been at the front half of the foot.  I needn’t have been worried, though, as the injection I had to have before the first scan was really similar to giving a blood sample (although perhaps a bit more uncomfortable) – and the scan was nothing at all compared to the MRI I had to have the last time at that hospital.  They did one set of scans before sending me away for 1 1/2 hours and coming back for the final set of scans.  It seems they didn’t find any clear stress fracture at all, which is good in one sense as it means not having to have a plaster cast or moon boot for 6-8 weeks, but it does of course mean that we still don’t have an answer as to the cause.  Oh well, back to the GP I go again next week – next stop (unless he thinks of something else) is to go speak to someone about special orthotics and/or special shoes … but I guess I’ll know more next week!

In the meantime I thought I’d share my rotation system that I use for my rotation – I’d mentioned this in a Facebook group I belong to, as someone asked what I did, and one of the ladies asked if I could do a PDF version so she could print it off and use it herself.  Anyway, I thought someone might find it of interest if I post it here too (I may have posted something about it years ago, but perhaps it’ll be useful to someone … or not … haha).  Zeb had also been asking questions about how people organise their lives, and I guess this is just part of my own organisation (my Day Planner is a different story and would need a post of its own, if I ever get around to that!!).

Rotation 2014 example

I have one document (on the left in the above photo) where I plan possible future projects that I’d like to stitch within a set rotation slot (obviously I had to decide on the 10 rotation slots first, which is the number I decided on this year).  Then the page on the right is what I use to actually track my progress within each slot.  I found this easier than using a spreadsheet, which some people prefer to use … I have different sized ‘blocks of 10 blocks’ on different pages, aimed at the different size of the projects in my rotation slots.  For example, I only have 3 blocks of 10 for the small-medium sized project slot, as most of those projects should be finished in under 30 hours of stitching.  I have a separate page printed for each rotation slot, and record the details of the project at the top of each group of blocks (I’ve also started scribbling the fabric type and stitch count of the project too in the side margin).  Then each block of 10 represents 10 hourly slots – I mark a “X” in the box once I’ve completed an hour of stitching … or just “\” if I’ve stitched half an hour.  Once I’ve got a block of 10 boxes with crosses I pack up that project and put it at the back of my rotation project tub, and put the rotation page to the back of the pile, then pick up the next in the pile/in the tub.  It may not work for everyone, but it certainly works for me 🙂 You can download my blank pages if you want to try it yourself … just print the page that you think would suit you the best … I put the rotation number and heading at the top of the page when I complete mine.

And on that note I guess I’d better pull my finger out and stop being lazy, and I should get another hour done on that rotation slot so I can move onto something less taxing on the brain cells … 😉

The rotation continues

I’m still continuing to do well with my rotation – this time with my UFO slot.  I’ve had this piece started since the 2011 Crazy January Challenge, but it stalled when I didn’t have the required beads so I’d have to rummage through my stash for alternatives, and also because the next band is one of the two drawn thread bands and it intimidated me to no end!!!  Seeing as I chose this one as my first project for the UFO slot in my rotation I just decided to suck it up and give it a go … and I did!

Since I had recently bought the right beads that I needed, I did those first, as well as doing the eyelet stitches in Kreinik #8 braid, before I tackled the withdrawn threads.  I can’t truthfully say it was pleasurable at all, really, but at least one of the two bands is now over and done with!  It wasn’t so bad to do, except for the fact that the linen thread I was withdrawing kept fraying and breaking off – I think it’s just a really poor quality linen that I’ve had sitting around for ages and perhaps it’s deteriorated over the years, I don’t know … but I was quite shocked at the quality (or lack of it!).  Thankfully I opted not to follow Thea’s instructions, and opted to withdraw the thread from the opposite side of the row to give me more thread in my needle, as otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to thread the needle with a long enough thread if I’d done as I was told and cut my threads in the centre of each row!

Anyway, it’s done now, and I only have one more drawn thread band to do in the bottom half of the sampler.  It’s a slow and tedious process, made slower by the disintegrating threads, but at least it means I have now tried it and know I can do it … and hopefully the next time I have to do it I won’t let it turn my project into a UFO for quite so long!!!

photoFirst step after re-weaving the linen threads into the sides of the fabric

photo2

photo1Number one drawn thread band completed with two sets of herringbone stitch

I still have another 6 1/2 hours left to go with this slot, so hopefully I will get another couple of bands completed in that time before I move back to my Focus Piece slot.

Sorry for the crappy photos – since my little Lumix camera died, I’ve been using my iPhone for almost all of my photos, and it’s clearly crappy for photographing stitching!!!

January Challenge – Day 3

I couldn’t resist putting a few more stitches into Shepherd’s Bush’s Baby Bug Ball this morning – I can’t believe how much I am in love with that design!  It is soooo not my normal choice of stitching project, but I absolutely and totally adore it!  I didn’t stitch the next few alphabet letters as it’s supposed to use a thread colour that is way too pale on the fabric – I thought I’d wait to see what colours were left over at the end, and I would replace that colour with one of the darker greens (but I don’t want to use it yet in case I run out!).  After the 15 days are up, this is is going to be one of the first getting revisited, I think! 😀

I was good, however, and didn’t continue stitching on BBB, and continued to meet the challenge goals by putting a few stitches into Victoria Sampler’s Crimson Fire Sampler.  This one is a major challenge for me, as it’s been forever since I stitched any hardanger or pulled/withdrawn thread stitches, so it will give the grey matter a run for its money this year!  I wanted to get this stitched up, though, so I can pass the chart on to an online pal who showed interest in it a couple of years ago (assuming she still wants it, of course!).

Seeing as I’ve handled pretty much all I can cope with today with these specialty stitches (probably thanks to the 3am finish this morning), I thought I’d put it to one side and pick up something simple, and I’m hoping to get a few more stitches put into the Autumn freebie by the Stitcherhood that I started late last year 🙂

Over the last few days I’ve also been working on a couple of my listed items on my 1001 things in 101 days – including putting together a custom recipe book.  I went with something simple, and just put together a ringbinder with plastic sleeves and subject dividers – that way when I find a scrummy recipe in one of my books I’ll re-type it up into a one-page format and will add it to my favourite recipes folder.  Seeing as I’m also trying to cook something out of every cookbook I own, hopefully I’ll also find some new favourites to help fill out the sections.  The great thing about this format is that I can take pages out individually to cook from, and the sleeves protect the recipe and can either be wiped down in case of spillage or just replaced with the recipe left intact 🙂

I think I may also try to make a quilted book-cover for this at some stage, but that may not be this year … the goal of putting the book together in the first place is good enough for me to tick this challenge off the list as “achieved”.

One of the latest recipes I added was some simple finger food sandwiches from the Aussie Women’s Weekly book “Finger Food” – these were wolfed down recently at our work’s shared morning tea … I thought I’d share the goodness with you here (AWW books are some of my absolute favourites on my bookshelf):

SMOKED SALMON, CAPER AND DILL TRIANGLES

Triangles can be made 2 hours ahead.  Storage: Covered in refrigerator.

200g packaged cream cheese
2 t lemon juice
1 T fresh dill sprigs
¼ t drained capers
12 slices white bread
180g sliced smoked salmon

Blend or process cheese, juice, dill and capers until well combined.  Spread 1 slice of bread with cheese mixture, top with a layer of salmon.

Spread a second slice of bread with cheese mixture, place cheese side down on salmon.  Spread top with cheese mixture, top with a layer of salmon.

Spread a third slice of bread with cheese mixture, place cheese side down on salmon.  Trim crusts from sandwich, cut into 8 triangles.  Repeat with remaining bread, cheese mixture and salmon.

Makes 32

A project returns as a WIP

Last year I finished all of the stitching on Lizzie*Kate’s Boo Club, but I was given the used charts on loan and had to find my own buttons – I’ve eventually narrowed the search down and found suitable substitutes, and thought I’d start stitching them on tonight instead of doing some actual stitching … I’d just finished attaching ribbon hangers onto about 10 Prairie Schooler ornies that Mum gave me to be finished, and couldn’t find my felt for the backings, but wasn’t really in the mood to ‘stitch’ …

Well, I was never entirely sure whether to stitch the border on this piece and instead thought I’d use a ribbon stitched down … tonight I decided it really would look much nicer with the border stitched in place, so back it went onto some scrollbars and I’ve decided to stitching the border at the same time as adding the buttons … what was originally going to be about an hour’s worth of ‘finishing’ to complete this piece has now turned into a week (or more) worth of stitching.  I think I’ll be much happier with it now, though 😀

As you can see from the photo, I didn’t get too far with the border stitching tonight, although not too bad considering … and 2 buttons down, 22 left to go …

I managed to snap a better photo yesterday of the Pin Pillow Exchange that I received (a HUGE yay for finding my little elusive Lumix), so I could finally do justice to the beautiful stitching and finishing.

I hadn’t noticed before how perfectly DMC 927 matches my bedroom duvet cover … I’m thinking a lovely sampler in this colour (along with the beige) just might look ever so lovely in my bedroom and now my mind is starting to work overtime and think of potential candidates!  I’m thinking perhaps a nice Quaker design maybe … hmmmm …

While I had the camera out I also managed to take a better close-up shot of my finished heart from the Beyond Cross Stitch series by The Victoria Sampler – here is a nicer photo of my finish, and the beautiful specialty stitches on this piece.  Sorry scanner, but your scans just can’t compare to the clarity of my little Lumix, even in crappy lighting!

Victoria Sampler-Beyond Cross Stitch 3-1

Thank you to everyone who has voted to date for whether or not I should continue to combine both my loves of stitching and photography in this blog – it seems the majority agree with my gut feeling, which is to leave things as they are … apologies to those of you who prefer to see stitching only, but I’ve decided to leave things “as is” for the time being.  I really appreciate you all taking the time to complete the poll, though!

Have a wonderful rest of the week everyone 😀

Beyond XS

I got halfway through this post when my PC screen fizzed and died completely … so I may be offline for a wee while until I can afford to buy a new screen. Unfortunately my laptop is totally temperamental and keeps shutting itself down (I think the hard drive is on its last legs), so I don’t know how stable it will be over the coming hours, never mind the coming weeks. Alas I’m down to the last $20 in my wallet after spending more than expected recently, so not sure how quickly I’ll get the money together (my recent stash splurges cleaned me out hmmm).

Anyway, I’d better quickly get this post finished before my laptop dies again … here is my latest finish, hot off the Qsnaps today – once again I’ve opted for a scan instead of a photo, as it’s quite dark in here. If I remember, I’ll take some ‘real’ photos later 🙂

Victoria Sampler-Beyond Cross Stitch 3-1
“Beyond XS #3-1 – Whipped Spider Web Rose” by The Victoria Sampler
stitched on 25ct white Lugana with kit threads and charm

I’m not sure what I’ll pick up to work on next – I think I’ll try to continue having a small project or two on the go for when I’m stitching in my room, and perhaps leave my Mirabilia’s and Chatelaine’s for stitching in the lounge.

Now it’s time to jump on a website or two to price up screens so I know what I’m looking at pricewise (while my laptop is still working) – then I’ll be stash diving for a new project 🙂

Updated:  Well, it appears that this morning my screen is working fine – I unplugged all the wires and put them all back in again, and it’s started up straightaway.  Different to my laptop, which died in the middle of “publishing” my blog entry last night, so I couldn’t have priced up screens if I’d tried!!  Fingers crossed this will keep working for a while yet – but in the meantime I’m going to print off my contacts list etc in case it does go out of action again!