December WIPocalypse 2014

As normal, I totally missed the December deadline … truthfully I haven’t been doing too much stitching, with some more long hours at work that cropped up.  I’m finally enjoying a fortnight off work over the Christmas break, and catching up on some chores, including my final catch-up for the year here.  I spent Christmas Day with my closest friends in Sydney, which was wonderful – we sat superglued to the lounge sofas for 4 days and watched all 4 seasons of Game of Thrones – that also meant I got a bit of stitching done, although I was more distracted by the TV, 2 dogs and 2 cats to get any finishes under my belt 😉  So, here goes the most recent stitching recap, and the final one for the year:

Finishes:

The first finish I had was Poppy by Mirabilia – this is a gift for my hairdresser, whose favourite colour is red, and she asked me to stitch something for her.  I just need to frame it now for her and give it to her in the New Year 🙂

Mirabilia-Poppy“Poppy” by Mirabilia/Nora Corbett
Stitched on 32ct hand-dyed Belfast by Countrystitch ~ colour Winter Sky
with recommended threads and beads
Started Sep 2014 – Finished 30 Nov 2014

The Drawn Thread-Summer Arbor “Summer Arbor” by The Drawn Thread
Stitched on 32ct Light Mocha Belfast linen
with recommended threads but substituted the brown beads
Started 7 Dec 2014 – Finished 23 Dec 2014

Lizzie*Kate-The Greatest Gift is Love“The Greatest Gift is Love” by Lizzie*Kate
(from 2001 JCS Christmas ornie issue)

Stitched on 32ct Natural Belfast linen (I think)
with a mix of recommended and substituted threads
Started 23 Dec 2014 – Finished 23 Dec 2014

Works in Progress:

While I was away at Christmas I managed to start the following two new projects (I took those because they were relatively easy to stitch so I didn’t have to concentrate on them 100% while being distracted by the TV and chatting to company).

First up was Red Lace Sewing Case by The Drawn Thread.  Sadly I ran out of thread for this one, stupidly thinking one skein of Gloriana silk would be enough, and no doubt a replacement skein won’t match the same dyelot, but I’ll have to wait and see once I get around to a stitching order. I was surprised just how quickly that design chewed through the skein of Gloriana! This will eventually be going to a new home (hence the hiding of the letter in the centre), so hopefully it won’t look too bad when the new skein arrives …  The only change I made was to use two strands of silk for the alphabet – I used one initially as per the design instructions, but I hated the look of it, so doubled the strands (sadly that wasn’t the reason for running out).

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Then I ended up starting a Prairie Schooler design called Autumn Leaves. This has been in my stash forever! In hindsight I wish I’d chosen a lighter fabric so the colours pop more, but I chose 32ct Lambswool that I thought the design called for … presumably they used a different linen to the Lambswool I chose! :/ Oh well, I’m sure I’ll still love it when it’s finished … (sorry, but the weird colouring of the fabric is due to my bed’s duvet cover behind it!)

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Recap of 2014 accomplishments:

It looks like I had a relatively poor stitching year compared to normal, thanks to some mental working hours.  Then again, though, some of the projects were quite large in comparison to other years, so all-in-all I’m still pretty stoked with my progress this year.  Here are all the projects I completed in 2014, including 1 older UFO and 2 WIPs carried over from 2013:

Crimson Fire Sampler by The Victoria Sampler LizzieKate-Cross Stitcher in Residence Mirabilia (Nora Corbett)-Valentine Fairy Lavender & Lace-Angel of Love Mirabilia-Poppy Periwinkle Promises-Blue Bell Sampler Accent Prairie Schooler-S is for Spring freebie Margaret Lee Rigiel-Starshine Penguin Poissons Bleus freebie by Si le Point Compte Lizzie*Kate-The Greatest Gift is Love Plum Pudding by JBW Designs Victoria Sampler-Christmas Heart Beyond XS 5-3 Shepherd's Bush-Joyful Night LHN-The Merry Skater Northern Pine Designs-Blue Bayou Butterfly Quartet by DMC Dance in the Rain-Lizzie*Kate Jardin Prive - Eiffel Quaker Green Apple Co-Chambered Nautilus M Designs-Thistle Needleroll pastels Northern Pine-Surf & Sand The Drawn Thread-Summer Arbor

Rotation plans for 2015:

When I was sticking to my rotation it really worked for me this year – and it gave me a place to start again when I did fall off the rotation wagon.  Therefore I’ve decided to keep going in 2015, but I’m leaving it as very much a ‘fluid’ rotation again – if I feel like stitching more than the allocated 10 hours for each slot, I’ll do so … whatever keeps me enjoying my stitching, and actually doing stitching, is what I’ll follow next year 🙂  In saying that, though, there are a few projects that I’d really love to work on during the year – I wouldn’t call them goals as such, rather a wishlist of sorts … but I know I change my mind on a whim where my stitching is concerned, so I won’t be too surprised if I change my mind again during the year!  Anyhoo, here are a few projects that are currently calling my name for my rotation next year:

Medium-Large projects:

  • Christmas Elf Fairy – Nora Corbett/Mirabilia
  • Trick or Treat Box – Just Nan
  • Three Friends – The Drawn Thread
  • Sweet Pea Pixie – Mirabilia
  • Lavender Rose Sewing Case – Fancy Work
  • Very Berry Needlework Accessories – Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches
  • Coffee & Tea series – Little House Needleworks
  • Witchy Way – Just Nan
  • Christmas Sampler – Jeanette Douglas
  • With My Needle – Just Nan

WIPs & UFOs:

  • Red Lace Sewing Case – The Drawn Thread
  • Autumn Leaves – The Prairie Schooler
  • Flight of the Bumblebees – Ruth Schmuff
  • Cottage Etui – C A Wells
  • Egyptian Garden Sampler – Chatelaine
  • English Garden Sampler – Teresa Wentzler
  • Sailor’s Valentine – C A Wells

Small-Medium projects:

  • The Formal Garden – Heritage Collection
  • Wee one birds (various) – Heart in Hand
  • The Tea Room – Country Cottage Needleworks
  • Sitting Pretty – Valerie Pfeiffer
  • Bliss – Bent Creek

Large-BAP projects:

  • Quaker Christmas II – ByGone Stitches (carried over from this year)
  • Quaker Diamonds – Rosewood Manor
  • Christmas Flip-its – Lizzie*Kate
  • Bluebeard’s Princess – Mirabilia

I can’t see many of those getting done, but I can certainly see a few new starts from that list getting started! 😀  As long as I enjoy the journey and continue to enjoy what I’m stitching, I don’t really have any other ambitions other than that 🙂

April & May WIPocalypse

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Hmmm, it seems I’m more than a ‘bit’ forgetful these days … it seems even though I was posting to my blog during April I totally forgot all about the official WIPocalypse update post … doh!! April saw a wee bit of stitching, including the completion of Nora Corbett’s Miss Valentine fairy and Blue Bayou by Northern Pine Designs … it also saw a couple of small ornie finishes … so all-in-all probably a reasonable month of stitching.  The ill-fated Flossy has found a happy home with my Mum (the Dragon) … we were going to offer it to a very close family friend, but Mum made me laugh when she said she has it propped up on her computer chair in her bedroom so she can see her all the time and she says goodnight to her every night as she goes to sleep … bless her.  When I mentioned giving it to our dear friend, her response was “she can have it when I’m gone”!  She’s even got plans for how to get her framed, so I’m pleased she loves her so much that at least she will be treasured.  I do have to admit she does look very pretty, even though she is dressed head to toe in candyfloss pink! 😀

Mirabilia (Nora Corbett)-Valentine Fairy

LHN-The Merry Skater

Shepherd's Bush-Joyful Night

Northern Pine Designs-Blue Bayou

When it came to the end of April and then into May, my mojo kind of disappeared a wee bit when I came to the end of my canvaswork rotation and started my “finishing” rotation … for some reason I have to really be in the mood to sit down and do finishing work.  I think part of the problem these days is that I don’t have a dedicated area that I can start items and then leave them to pick up and finish later … with my current flatmate I don’t feel comfortable doing my needlework or finishing in front of him (aside from the fact he comes and puts the TV on as soon as he walks in the room, irrespective of whether I was enjoying the peace and quiet or not in there myself), and I just don’t have the space in my bedroom with all the other junk that is piled up in there …

Last weekend, though, I decided “bugger the flatmate” and pulled a small fold-up table into the lounge, did a bit of finishing, then pulled the little table out of the way at the end of the weekend – it was also still there for this last weekend when I did a wee bit more finishing yesterday while he was out (mind you I only did that because I’d figured out he was going to be away for the rest of the weekend and out of my hair!!).  So perhaps I have found a solution for when I come to my finishing rotation again – and in fact I could possibly pull it into my bedroom too on a temporary basis as long as I pull it back out again before sleeping … hmmmm, I like that plan! So, what did I manage to do with my finishing rotation over the last few weeks?  I managed to finish off the following – which really didn’t need that much done to them for them to be 100% finished … First up 3 ornies – these just needed the felt backings and hangers for the Prairie Schooler ones, and the hanger and little snowflake buttons for the Just Nan one

Christmas ornaments

Next up I stitched down the binding on my teeny Halloween quilt … I did a bit of a hash job on the corners, but it’ll have to do …

Quilted mat

And then my final piece for that particular finishing session was to stitch the cord around the edge of this wee freebie:

Every oak must be an acorn

This last weekend just gone I managed to finish off one of my favourite Halloween pieces into a flat-fold … I found a bright trim in my stash along with some bright ribbons, and pretty happy with the way it turned out 🙂

Just Nan-Frightful

Just Nan-Frightful

Just Nan-Frightful

Then I finished off yesterday by trying to finish my Bunnies in the Garden needlework set that I stitched a few years ago … sadly it seems I don’t have the ribbon needed to completely finish it, so I’ve got as far as I can go without it … hopefully I’ll get chance next week to pop into Spotlight and find a silk ribbon that will work (assuming Spotlight still SELL silk ribbon, that is!).  Here is how it stands so far:

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The only stitching I’ve done since the last stitching update is to start a charity quilt block with the theme of butterflies.  I bought about a metre of 14-ct white Aida a few years ago in readiness to do some charity stitching, but with my city commute I just never had the mental or physical energy to do it … now I’m working closer to home I figure it’s time I pull my finger out and get some finished.  What also gave me the final kick in the pants was searching for an old XS kit in my wardrobe and finding a bunch that I’d bought especially to use for charity blocks … so out they came ready to start stitching!  Here are the kits I have in the charity block armoury to work my way through:

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And here is where I’m at currently for my first butterflies block … once I’ve finished this block it’s time to get back into my formal rotation once again.

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I still have a couple of gifts to complete, but I work better when I’m sticking to my rotation properly so they will just have to find a rotation slot to drop into and work together with my other pieces 🙂 I’ve probably dribbled on enough for now, but before I hit “publish” I’ll finish off with the two WIPocalypse questions for April and May:

April:  How do you keep your stash organised?

Oh my goodness, I don’t know if I could truly say my stash is “organised” per se … although I guess to a certain extent it could be a lot worse!  My problem is that it is scattered all over the place and not all together.  I’m also a lazy git at heart, so often I can’t be bothered putting something away after stitching it (eg threads etc) and I end up with a dumping corner with threads and charts not put away … it’s no wonder I can often not find what I’m looking for when I just “know” I’ve got it “somewhere”!!  On the whole, though, it is kinda organised in a disorganised way …

  • Threads:  On the whole these are all stored in Flossaway baggies in numerical or alphanumeric order and on individual rings according to their brand.  DMC floss is all stored in numerical order in two plastic tubs so they’re easily accessible as I generally use those the most.  Overdyed threads etc are mostly stored alphanumerically by the colour name, but with the thread brands separated on different rings.  For example, I have separate rings for WDW, GAST, Crescent Colours, Needle Necessities/Threadworx etc.  All these threads are housed in a cardboard storage tub that sits in my Ikea ‘bookcase’.  Silks are stored the same way, and pearl cottons and other specialty threads (pearl cottons etc) are stored in another plastic tub.
  • Fabrics:  These are stored by thread count in two Ikea storage drawers – they used to be sorted in colour groups but I quickly gave up on that idea after I’d rummaged around a few times and disrupted it all!  I also have a ‘tub’ of fabrics sitting on top of my DMC that I’ve obviously pulled out at some stage for a project and never been put back …
  • Charts:  Generally these are stored by theme in ringbinders on bookshelves.  Most of these are housed in the kitchenette on my main bookshelves, but most of my favourite designs/smalls charts are in my bedroom on a narrow bookcase.  I have a couple of folders of “to be stitched ASAP”, but I’m trying to focus on those already partially kitted up first (see below).
  • Finishing fabrics/trims:  Truthfully these are all over the place!  Most of my quilting fabrics are in Ikea storage drawers in my wardrobe, with finishing trims etc in a little plastic storage system that has a few pullout drawers. Not ideal, but seems to work OK for now.

My projects themselves are in a whole world of their own where organisation is concerned!  I’ll try to differentiate the different types:

  • WIPs:  My current rotation projects are sitting in their own storage tub with the project on scrollbars/Qsnaps and sitting with their threads/charts etc in a plastic envelope.  That way each project is ready to go immediately when I want to drag it out of the tub.
  • UFOs:  Older WIPs that I haven’t touched for years are sitting in a cardboard storage tub in my Ikea bookcase in my bedroom – these are not stored on scrollbars etc and may/may not have threads with them … they just sit there forlornly at the very bottom of the bookcase feeling unloved …
  • Partial & full kits:  When I was housesitting in Melbourne I went a bit crazy and cut up fabrics for a few tubs worth of projects and put the fabric with the chart … these are now housed in two separate areas – some of these are sitting along with other full kits in two storage drawers in my wardrobe, and the others have all been split into cardboard storage boxes according to their size that will fit with my rotation.  I basically have one box each for “Large/BAPs”, “Medium” and “Small” projects.  I’m trying to work through those items first before kitting up new designs, seeing as the fabric is already committed and cut up ready for stitching!  That seems to work about 95% of the time, but ever now and then a new project seems to leap out of the chart pile demanding to be stitched first!! 😛
  • Canvaswork:  My canvaswork projects are sitting to the left of my Ikea storage bookcase in a shopping bag – these are kitted (or semi-kitted as far as I can for now) with their canvas and threads/charts all ready for when my canvaswork rotation rolls around.  This bag probably makes me drool more than the rest of my storage boxes, if the truth be known!

May:  What designs or themes do you really wish you could find?  What do you think is missing among stitching designs?

Truthfully I can’t say I really have had problems finding a specific type of design … I have, however, had problems finding a specific design that has since gone OOP and hard to locate unless you spend a fortune.  Those are the designs I wish would be more readily available, especially now that PDF downloads are widely available and don’t require a full print-run by a designer.  The other thing I find frustrating is the number of designs only available as kits and not charts, and how many are only available with Aida cloth as the fabric – the fact that I inevitably substitute the fabric in all my kits is not a cost-effective way for me to stitch a design … I really wish that all designs had the option of either having linen in the kit or to just have the chart made available (although I know this would diminish some of the designer’s/distributors’ profits to a certain degree).

The only other thing that has been happening over the last few weeks is something that I can’t talk about yet on my blog, but it threw me for a loop temporarily and my mind has been very very distracted over recent weeks, and I’ve been even more forgetful than ever, if that was even possible!  Hopefully there will be further news sooner rather than later and I can talk about it openly … for now it’s just a case of “wait and see” 🙂

Still around … but without my mojo (& March WIPocalypse)

Well, it seems my mojo has totally deserted me over the last month or so – I haven’t touched a needle, literally, in over a month!  Work stresses and personal stresses have just seen my head too cluttered to stitch … while normally stitching would bring me relief at times like this, it had reached the stage where the thought of stitching just felt overwhelming for some daft reason.  Instead I’ve been spending lots of time on my laptop checking out stitching websites and just being generally lazy and doing ‘nothing’.

As for work, I still have a job but there are lots of people who have been in the company for many years that I worked with really closely that have now left, and they still haven’t worked through all the levels of the company yet, so many more heads yet to roll.  Even though I know my job is safe, it’s still very disconcerting and upsetting while other colleagues and friends still wait for the decision affecting them.  They haven’t given me much time to ponder it, though, as I was given a new ‘project’ to work on with an exceptionally tight deadline, so it’s been back to working 14-hour days again over the last couple of weeks, and next week will be “the week from hell” where I’ll be planning to pretty much sleep there for the week!!  At least now we’re back working closer to home I know I can be home in 20 minutes at the end of the day, so that’s a blessing if nothing else.

And as for today … well, would you believe it, today I’m going to FINALLY break that mojo curse, and I’m going to pick up my needle and do some stitching to try and get back into my stitching routine.  I have a huge list of TV shows I need to watch on my DVRs (so much that one has stopped recording because the memory is full!!), seeing as I haven’t been keeping up-to-date with it much, so that’s a perfect excuse to chill out at home with the TV on and my stitching on my lap 🙂  It will be interesting to see how much I can get done this weekend after not doing anything for so long!!  Here is my skimpy progress on Fern since my last WIPocalypse post, which was done a month ago now in the last week of February …

One good thing, though, is that I’m being forced to take annual leave and long service leave before the end of June … as I can’t afford to go anywhere, that means having 3 1/2 weeks of leave between now and then … I think I just may enjoy a couple of 2-week leave blocks around the home lazing around stitching – there’ll be no excuses not to get my mojo back then, that’s for sure!!! 😀

UPDATED TO ADD:  Oops, I forgot that the question for the March WIPocalypse was where our favourite stitching spots were … I have to admit since my new flatmate moved in he’s pretty much taken over the lounge and my favourite stitching spot in there is no longer my favourite unless he’s gone out for the weekend … instead you will now only ever see me sat up in bed doing my stitching, so this is now my favourite (actually I’ve always enjoyed sitting up in bed stitching, anyway, so it’s no hardship!).

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February WIPocalypse

It’s been a reasonable month for both stitching and blog posts … probably the most regular I’ve been in quite a few years!  Who knows how long it will last for, but I’m enjoying it so far that’s for sure!

As for my stitching progress, here are the progress piccies from the last month’s efforts, and comparing how they looked last time vs this month:

First up is a new start, which is a gift for someone if I can get it stitched up quickly enough!  Unfortunately, though, I just noticed a mark on the fabric so it’s off to spend some time in a tub and hopefully it will come out … if not, I guess I’ll be ironing up some new fabric and starting again …

Fern by Nora Corbett

Fern by Nora Corbett

And my other WIPs/new starts were:

And then there were a couple of new starts that were also finishes:

All-in-all it was a pretty amazing month of stitching … my work department moving closer to home again is doing wonders for my productivity, that’s for sure!!

And now this month’s topic:  “Topic: How many projects do you generally feel comfortable having in progress at a time?  Tell us about your one-at-a-time or rotation habits!”

I have to admit the high number of UFOs I have has started to bother me in recent years, so I’ve been making an effort to slowly work through them.  I’m starting to become more of a one-at-a-timer, but then when I get bored with a project I tend to just stop stitching, or I put it down and never come back to it again because I feel burnt out with that particular project.  This year I’ve tried to be more disciplined and have gone back to a formal rotation once again, and it’s really working on the whole.  I have 10-11 project slots, with a Focus Piece slot every 3-4 slots so that I can focus on one project to get stitched up more quickly (generally assigned to one of my BAPs or SAL commitments).  I’ve managed to stick to my rotation really well so far, although I’ve just decided to start a new gift for someone that needs to be stitched up really quickly before we meet up in early March, so my rotation has been temporarily put on hold.  It’s funny, though, I already miss my rotation and the discipline I’d built up, and I’m almost ‘resenting’ this project because of it … isn’t it funny how our minds work?  So far I’ve managed to finish up one old UFO this year thanks to my rotation slot and being disciplined … I’d like to see another 1-2 of my UFO list joining the finishing pile this year, but either way I’m just doing to enjoy working through my stash pile on a regular basis! 😀

As a matter of interest, here is my “rotation tub” … all of my projects are on their own scrollbars or Qsnaps, and sit in order of being stitched, along with their chart/threads in a plastic envelope or mesh project bag … this really helps me to keep organised during the rotation and I’m not running around each 10 hours trying to find the next project kit …

My rotation 'tub'

My rotation ‘tub’

2014 Stitching Plans & WIPocalypse

It seems I fell off the WIPocalypse wagon part-way through the year last year thanks to an insane workload/hours at work … but it’s time to get back up on the saddle again for the 2014 WIPocalypse.  I’ve always loved this SAL as it doesn’t have strict rules and it encourages me to make at least one blog post a month … so there’s no good reason not to continue again this year!  Also going by my bad progress with the 2013 Crazy January Challenge, I’ve decided to not join up again this year – so the WIPocalypse may just be the only ‘real’ challenge I’ll sign up for this year …

2014 WIPocalypse

I’m also going to try to pick up my rotation once again … this sounds like a broken record to me, as I’ve attempted this a couple of times at this time of the year … but yet again I’m going to give it a go and see if it helps to keep me motivated.  This also means I get to focus on some older UFOs/WIPs as well as having lots of new starts – and gives me more fodder for the WIPocalypse posts.  So here is my rotation slot list for 2014, including the projects I have in mind to start off with:

  1. Focus Piece – Angel of Love by L&L, Wedding Sampler for a friend, Poppy Pixie by Nora Corbett (gift), English Garden Sampler by TW
  2. Medium-sized Projects – Christmas Elf Fairy by Mirabilia, Trick or Treat Box by Just Nan, Eiffel Quaker by Jardin Prive, Red Lace Sewing Case by The Drawn Thread
  3. UFOs – Crimson Fire Sampler by The Victoria Sampler, Flight of the Bumblebees by Ruth Schmuff, Raphael’s Raspberries by FMNIS, Le Jardin Silk Sampler by JCS, Cottage Etui by CA Wells
  4. Focus Piece
  5. Small to Medium-sized Projects – Thistle Needleroll by M Designs, Classic Stitches needleroll, Blue Bell Sampler Accent by Periwinkle Designs, Blackwork Box Pincushion by Silkstone, Beyond XS-Rhodes Butterfly by The Victoria Sampler, Cross Stitcher in Residence by Lizzie*Kate
  6. Large and BAPs – Angel of Love by L&L (this will move to the Focus Piece once a couple of commitment pieces have been finished), Sampler Gameboard by The Drawn Thread, Christmas Flip-its by Lizzie*Kate, Quaker Diamonds by Rosewood Manor, Quaker Christmas II by Bygone Stitches
  7. Focus Piece
  8. Christmas Ornaments & Freebies
  9. Canvaswork – Blue Bayou by Northern Pine, Holly and Ivy by Laura J Perin, Holiday Square by Laura J Perin, Reflecting Pools by Laura J Perin, Surf and Sand by Northern Pine
  10. Finishing – Getting those stitched pieces into their ‘final form’ after languishing in the finishing pile for years

My biggest goal for the year is “no pressure stitching” … I still have gifts I need to complete that are overdue from last year, but I don’t want to commit to deadline pressures at least at the start of the year anyway over and above those gifts.  I felt quite overwhelmed last year, so this year I want to get back to the ‘joy of stitching’ not just using it as a sanity tool.  At least this year I won’t have crazy commuting times to/from work, so I’ll have more time at home to get some work/life balance … hopefully that will reflect in my stitching and on my other personal goals to lose some weight and get healthier … which of course then makes me feel happier within myself and that in itself will provide some improvements in general I think.

Anyway, enough spending time on here … it’s time to actually put a few stitches into that first rotation slot … my first 10 hours on Angel of Love by L&L, before she moves to the “Large/BAP” slot and gets replaced by the wedding sampler as my focus piece.  Really looking forward to getting Angel of Love stitched up, she’s been on my stitching wishlist for YEARS! 😀