Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year

I hope that you all had a fantastic Christmas or whatever you celebrate at this time of year, and as I won't be around next Sunday, may I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!  Christmas Day was spent and New Year will be spent at my parents' house.  Boxing Day was spent at my sister's house (I laughed until I cried at "Mrs Brown's Boys - Christmas Special").  I'm home today, back at work tomorrow, and then off again until next Tuesday.

On the stitching front, I have two finish finishes to show you.  These are my nieces' Christmas tree ornaments for 2011.  After work on the Thursday before Christmas I went to Hobbycraft and purchased two Framecraft coasters, a sheet of blue card, some picture hooks, some double sided sticky pads and some blue ribbon.  So the aida and the card were cut to fit the coasters, the picture hooks were attached to the back of the coasters with sticky pads and the ribbon was attached.  They are not perfect, nowhere near, because I was a zombie by this stage as work was absolutely manic, but they were finish finished in time for Christmas which was the most important thing!

As Christmas was on a Sunday this year, the Beetle didn't get a look in (again!).  However when everyone who wasn't stopping over had gone away, I did get the Ark out and put in some more stitches on that.  It's coming on quite nicely and I've had to roll the aida so that I can work up to the top of the chart.  The plan is to cross stitch up to the top, backstitch back down to the middle, cross stitch to the bottom and then backstitch back up again.  And I'm planning to work hard on it while I'm off this week - fortunately the baby has still not made an appearance, though its mummy is going in for a sweep on Thursday as it looks like baby may weigh in at about 10lb!

The other stitchy things that I need to do while I'm off this week are cut the fabric and make a start on the Jayne Netley Mayhew piece for my friend, and sort out my list for the 2012 WIPocalypse.

Wishing all the best to you and yours over the coming months. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

IHSW Report - December 2011

Following my last post, this is my update report on December's International Hermit and Stitch Weekend.

My IHSW started on Friday evening with a concentrated effort on Noah's Ark which resulted in quite reasonable amounts of roof being completed; the red section having been mainly done at work.  On Saturday morning I put in the few blue stitches on the left hand side above the zebra just so that I could say that I had stitched on Saturday.  

A trip to town then ensued to do Christmas shopping (resulting in a cracking headache), followed by writing Christmas cards to take to the party at my parents which started at 5pm.  I finally fell into bed at 10.30pm, but it was a good party.

On Sunday I worked on the Beetle.  I did some infilling at the top and finally got round to doing the tedious white stripe down the side of the bonnet (which was nearly all fractionals).  After that, as I needed to stitch something a bit less fiddly, I started on the body of the car on the left side near the tyre.  I also managed to do three loads of laundry, take Dad grocery shopping, and attend a Carol Service in the local church.

Today I am off work using up some holiday leave.  I've written my Christmas cards for work, hand delivered the ones to my neighbours and done some more work on Noah's Ark.  It's cold and wet and nasty here, and I'm very glad to be tucked up at home and not out pounding the pavements.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

International Hermit and Stitch Weekend

After I'd posted last night, I went poking about amongst the trillion fascinating cross stitch blogs out there.  Several of them mentioned the International Hermit and Stitch Weekend so eventually I followed a link to Random Ramblings where Joysze kindly hosts the IHSW.

Basically the IHSW takes place on the third weekend of each month (Friday to Sunday to allow for circumstances) and you hermit yourself away and stitch.  In theory, this should not be a problem for me as I live on my own and there is always stitching to do - however the family at large does tend to demand my presence at times.

Anyway I have signed up for the last IHSW of the year this weekend.  I will probably only be stitching on Friday night and Sunday morning/evening as Christmas is looming and the dreaded shopping is not yet complete.  

So here is Hermie and if you click on him, he will take you to the IHSW signing up page and you can play too.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Late clocking in, but news and finishes to report

Yes, this should have been posted on Sunday night but never mind.  By posting it now, I have more to tell you so will get the news out of the way before I talk about the stitching.

On the job front, I didn't get the job that I interviewed for the other week, but I handed in the other application form first thing on Monday and got a call last night to say that I'd made it through to the next stage.  This is a PA job in a local comprehensive school - a bit closer to home and more money, and a complete change of scenery!  Interviews were supposed to be being held tomorrow but the school suffered a tragedy over the weekend.  They have therefore done the shortlisting but postponed the interview process.

On the Marie Curie front, we did really well.  We raised £530.35 on our stall, and the coffee morning which had taken place the day before raised around £470, so we reached our first £1,000 in two events and two days.  I am so proud of us and very grateful to the local community for their generosity.

Moving on to the stitching, I have a couple of finishes to report.  First up is the Poinsettia piece that I completed the stitching on some while ago.  I have now finally got the beads on and it doesn't look too bad.  I tried using a beading needle but couldn't get the metallic thread that I was using through the eye.  Fortunately the holes in the beads were wide enough to get my ordinary stitching needle through so I did manage to get the job done.  Now all I need to do is turn it into an ornament.

Next up is the Angel ornament for my younger niece.  As my niece is a redhead, I've changed several of the colours on this.  The hair was originally yellow, the robe two shades of red and the background was a tan colour.  As with the Poinsettia, all I need to do now is turn it into an ornament along with the accompanying Holly piece.

The Beetle missed out again due to the need to work on my application for the PA job.  I promise that I really will get down to it this week.

With the Angel being finished early in the week, Noah's Ark has become my sunrise piece.  As a result, by Sunday I had not only finished the zebra, but also completed the two windows and started on the side of the Ark itself.  I'm hoping to get that done this week and get started on the roof.  No news on the baby front so I'm not panicking too much just yet - fingers crossed.

Finally, on the Christmas front, I still have shopping to do but I have posted the cards that need posting, been out for one pre-Christmas meal, have another one tomorrow and am going to a party on Saturday.  Now if only the plumber can get my central heating fixed tomorrow, everything in the garden will be lovely! 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Life and other plans!

In the past several posts I have been saying that I really must get on with the Beetle and I did intend to get down to some serious stitching this morning, but as the saying goes "Life is what happens when you are making other plans".

Last night I had just sat down to eat my tea when there was a hammering on my front door.  It was my little nieces who had come out with their parents to see the Christmas lights being switched on in our main shopping street.  They were dropping in on their way home because my oldest niece had a request to make - she wanted to have a sleepover with me then and there!  I couldn't say no; surely it means that I am doing something right if she wants to spend time with me, so she stayed over.  We read some books together and then it was time for bed.  She cleaned her teeth with toothpaste on her finger and I popped her into one of my t-shirts before tucking her up in my bed.  She slept like a log - I didn't.

This morning she ate enough breakfast to sink a battleship, we read some more books, she did a lovely drawing of a house and then played on my computer until Daddy came to fetch her.  I managed to get dressed and get the laundry done!  So no Beetle this week.

I have made some progress on the Angel, although this had to be shoved under the sofa last night when my visitors came.  I would hope to get it finished this week.

The elephant on the Ark is now complete, and I have moved onto the zebra.  The zebra's mane is a bit fiddly, but I would hope to get him finished this week as well.  Time has just become a bit tighter on this one.  My mum spoke to my aunt today - my cousin is huge, the baby is expected to weigh in around 9lb and the head is already engaged!  I'm sorry, baby, this will be one occasion on which an early bird will definitely have to wait for the worm so I would stay snuggly warm inside a bit longer if I were you.

On the Marie Curie front, we had our first event as a team on Saturday.  We set up a stall on one of our local shopping streets and sold cakes, Christmas cards, cookery books, chilli jam and chutney.  The first shift arrived at about 8.30am to set up, and the second shift (including me) came on about 10.30am.  I'm hoping to get an email tomorrow to say how much we made, but by the time we shut up shop at about 12.45pm, all the cakes and chutney were gone, we'd sold quite a few cookery books and Christmas cards and some of the chilli jam (good with cheese, ham etc apparently), so I think that we've done quite well.

On the job front, I have nothing to report.  Having purchased a new interview suit after much stress, I went to the interview on Tuesday morning.  I thought that it went reasonably well and they said that they would let me know either way.  I have heard nothing!  I have a form to fill in for another job which needs to be done this week - c'est la vie!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

What happened to the weekend?

It's Sunday night and very little has gone as planned this weekend!  It's fair to say that everything has got done, but not in the order that was intended.  I have a haircut and a new suit for my interview on Tuesday, I've done the laundry and the grocery shopping, but its all been a bit on the stressful side.

Anyway I do have some update photos to show you, including a finish.

This is the Christmas ornament for my eldest niece.  It was quite fun to stitch up and has come out quite well, I think.

This is the Christmas ornament for my littlest niece.  I'm quite pleased that I managed to get all the framework stitched so you could tell what it is going to be.  I'm going to be making some colour changes on this so that the angel has the same colour hair as its recipient.

The next deadline is a baby deadline.  I don't feel that I'm making enough progress on this, but my stitching time has been so limited recently and I have so many deadlines to hit that I'm starting to get a bit nervy.

With things not going to plan this weekend, I only managed to get an hour or so stitching done on the Beetle today.  I've been filling in with red round the orange wiggle at the top left hand side.

On the subject of cars, I went to a party last night and came away with some furry black dice to hang in my car.  This is a nostalgia thing - I used to have furry black dice in my first car until they had a close encounter with a small child.  Anyway, I'm going to call it a day before I fall asleep with my head on the keyboard.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Stitching for others!

As per last week's post, I have only been stitching for others this week - Carnation is on hold for the time being, despite my wish to get page 1 finished before Christmas/New Year.

Starting with the closest deadline first, here is my progress on this year's ornament for my eldest niece.  I completed the framework first and am now working on the filling in.  I hope to be showing you a finish next week, and the start of the ornament for my littlest niece.  It's been nice and straightforward, working on this piece in the quiet time between breakfast and setting off for work.

The next deadline coming up is my cousin's baby due at the beginning of January.  As you can see, I've opted to work on the elephant next.  There has been some frogging on this one and also an annoying tendency to miss the odd stitch and have to go back to it with a fresh piece of thread.  Work has been done on this at lunchtimes at work and in the evenings.  This will move into my sunrise slot once the girls' ornaments are complete.  

Finally, the Beetle.  This lost out last week so this week I've finished the pale pink section at the top and added the somewhat wiggly orangey (although it doesn't look it) section.  I still need to do the white line up the side, but the top of the orangey bit butts onto the bottom of the front windscreen, so I am getting there slowly.  This still needs a lot of work to be done by the end of February, and I also have the Jayne Netley Mayhew piece to start when the fabric gets here, and get finished by the same time as the Beetle.  However the JNM piece is smaller and will be more transportable.

Well, that's the stitching sorted.  How about life in general?  Well, I'm a happy bunny cos I have a job interview at the end of the month for what could possibly be the perfect job, so please keep your fingers crossed for me!

We celebrated Mum's birthday this week.  My Dad, my sister and I clubbed together to buy her two vintage dolls houses - one of which I showed here.  We also played Pass the Parcel and my sister baked a cake.  It was good to spend time together.

I also spent time with my nieces yesterday.  My sister was having a weekend away and my BIL was refereeing a football match.  The girls and I had a good time on the whole (a bit of poking each other and some tears), and my BIL had cooked sausage casserole for our tea which meant that I didn't have to cook when I got home and could work on the Noah's Ark piece.

Well, I'm going to finish here cos I need to make tomorrow's lunch and I want to get a fairly early night, so I'll see you at the end of the week.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Decisions, decisions!

Well, folks, I've been thinking it over and have finally come to a decision - Carnation is going to have to go on hold!  Christmas is just six weeks away and my cousin's baby is due early January.  Then I have to get the Beetle finished and framed for the beginning of March.  I also have the Jayne Netley Mayhew piece to get done for the same time, but had to order the fabric from the US this morning, so that isn't even started.  In order to hit all my deadlines, Carnation is dropping out of the list while I get cracking on ornaments for my two nieces.  I also have to get the beads on Poinsettia and some sort of finish worked out for that before 17 December.

I overslept this morning, so laundry and housework took precedence over working on the Beetle.  However I must get a grip with this piece.  Part of the problem is that because I taped all the sections of my working copy of the chart together, the only surface big enough to lay it on is my bed!  Therefore it is not easily transportable and can't be worked on elsewhere.

I did get another two blocks done on Carnation - top right, column 8.  This means that I have started page 2 already.  My plan for page 2 is to work across the page, left to right, one row at a time, instead of the current one column down, one row across method.  That came about because I started off dotting about, doing as much as I could of one symbol before moving on to the next.  Then I had to fill in the gaps.  I shall miss working on this - it has been my sunrise piece, the piece I work on between breakfast and leaving for work.

Next up is Noah's Ark.  The lion is now complete, apart from the backstitching.  He still looks a bit like a bear, but I'm hoping that once the backstitch is done, that will change.  I now have to choose between the elephant or the zebra.  You'll have to wait and see which comes next.

Last up is my new start, a Christmas ornament for my eldest niece.  The plan is to make them both an ornament every year.  This year, the ornaments are stained glass motifs from the Design Library in issue 144 of World of Cross Stitching.  As you can see, I've started on the framework of this spray of holly.  This is the second shot at this section - the frogs have already been out to play on this one!  These ornaments will be replacing Carnation as my sunrise piece.

I hope that all is going well with your WIPs - are you joining in Measi's 2012 WIPocalypse?

Monday, 7 November 2011

A new start for a new life

Well, I meant to post this last night but I got distracted, so here goes.

I know that it looks like a bear, but it is actually a lion without its mane.  This is the start of my Noah's Ark piece for my cousin's baby.  Getting set up was a bit of a pain.  It took me over an hour to get the threads sorted so that I knew what I was doing. They were already on a thread sorter but not numbered, so I had to count the number of threads in each colour and compare them to the list.  I've made my own numbered thread sorters to hold the threads I'm currently working with, but it was a bind to have to mess about with that when I could have been stitching.  In addition, Design Works have used the same symbol but at a different angle or coloured in several times, which means that you have to keep checking that you've got the right thread.  However, I'll give it a bit longer before I decide that it's a must do, rather than a want to do piece.

Then comes the Beetle - there is currently no light at the end of the tunnel on this one.  I filled in the empty space that I left last week on the bonnet, apart from the narrow band of white which runs up the side which is 99.5% fractionals and will take a lot of time for very little show-off value.  I've also finished the pink section and started on a paler pink section above it.  I'll get there in the end.

I managed to finish the bottom row of Carnation last week and have started putting stitches into the first square of column 8.   This has become my in the morning before work piece - my sunrise stitching piece.  It's coming along nicely.

I now need to buy fabric for my other friend's 40th birthday piece, but need to get it from the States as no-one seems to have it here.  I also need to get set up to do Christmas ornaments for my two nieces - I've chosen the designs from a back issue of World of Cross Stitching and now need to organise fabric and threads.

In other news, I went to my friend's Dad's memorial service on Friday.  Over 200 people attended and it was lovely to see what an important influence he had been on so many.  However I spent 30 years knowing the family man, rather than the academic, so it was his son's tribute to him that meant the most to me.

It was Bonfire Night here this weekend so I watched other people's fireworks out of my kitchen window on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night.  I'm sure that I've heard some tonight as well - surely enough is enough!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Happy Dancing!

Tonight I have two finishes to report - the Robin and the Xmas Tree.  Both need to be finish finished, but the final stitches are in!
I put the last stitches into the Robin yesterday after a little frogging for the ID, and then washed and pressed it today.  I now have three weeks in which to find a suitable frame, lace it, frame it and wrap it.  I really like it - I hope my friend does too.

The other finish was this little Xmas Tree - the last of the back stitch went in early this morning.  It has also been washed and pressed, as have the two other little Mouseloft pieces that I did earlier on.  Now I just need to make them up into cards if I can find suitable colours - this is on a creamy yellow aida (hasn't photographed well) and the other two are on a pale blue.  Not exactly Christmassy colours despite the designs.

I also washed and pressed the Poinsettia that I finished a while ago.  That is now ready to be beaded, something I've not tried before.  The deadline for getting it beaded and finish finished is mid December, so watch this space.

On to work in progress.  This week you can actually see what I've done on the Beetle without going back and looking at the previous post.  A small frog visited this morning while I was working on this, but only about half a dozen stitches.  That's what happens when you are doing the laundry and handwashing stitching pieces as well as actually stitching.  There's still a long way to go on this one so I'm thinking that perhaps I need to give this an evening in the week as well as Sunday mornings.  I'll let you know.

I got another two blocks done on Carnation - it's confetti time again.  However I only have two more full blocks to go on this page and then it is on to the partial blocks in column 8 and row 10.  The plan is to get page 1 done before Christmas.

However, the kit has arrived for my cousin's baby and I need to get cracking on that.  The aida for that was washed and pressed this morning as well in order to get the creases out.  I've measured it up and it looks as if it will fit on my Lapman.  Once I get it all sorted out, I think that that will be my travelling piece (at least I will give it a whirl).

In addition, I think that I've found the piece for my other friend's 40th birthday - it is a Jayne Netley Mayhew cat from a very old issue of Cross Stitch Gold.  I'll need to buy some fabric for it - 28 count desert sand evenweave.  I had been thinking about doing some Ginger Tom bookmarks as they would be easy to send to the States, but if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well.  At the moment, I'm thinking on stitching it and sending it unframed, a) for ease of postage and b) cos I don't know what their decor looks like out there.

And lastly, but definitely not least, I've applied for a new job!  It is the perfect job - using all my skills and qualifications, regular foreign travel, more money and I can walk to work!  They've acknowledged my application - now I just have to wait to see what happens.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Life's too short!

My friend's Dad died this week - I'd known him for about 30 years, he was 18 months younger than my Dad.  He was diagnosed with cancer too late for them to be able to do anything for him.  My friend doesn't hit 40 until the Spring.  It's not fair, life's not fair.  He was a lovely man and will be much missed.  I feel so lucky to still have my Dad - I just wish he'd pack up smoking again.  Both my friends that I'm currently stitching for have lost their Dads - my Beetle friend lost her Dad 12 years ago.

It makes me realise once again that we only have this one life with this particular group of people and that we shouldn't waste it.  Tell the people that you love how much you love them and tell them often - you never can tell when the sand is going to run out in your egg timer or theirs.  I love you, Je t'aime, Ich liebe dich - it doesn't matter how you say it - just say it!

Now that's the deep stuff out of the way, here's an update on my stitching.

Robin is not far from finished.  Just a few blackberry blossoms to put in behind him and then add my initials and the year.  I should get him done well before my deadline.  I've enjoyed stitching him but I do wonder how different he would look if I had been able to stitch him in the original threads instead of a DMC conversion.

The pesky thing about the Beetle at the moment is that even though I put in several hours of work on it this morning, you have to look carefully to see where I've been stitching.  I've been working on the left hand side (facing you) of the bonnet, putting in another strip of colour up the side, plus a few more stitches on the right hand side.  Its the fractionals that take up all the time - if it was all whole stitches like the Robin, I'm sure that I would be much further on.

It's not a very clear photo of Carnation this week - maybe my hand shook or something.  We're back into the confetti zone so only two blocks completed this week.  That leaves me with four blocks on this row before moving onto column 8 which is partly on this page and partly on page 2.  I might get page 1 finished before the New Year, but I'm still waiting for the kit to arrive for my cousin's baby.  Until I've had a good look at that, I've no way of knowing how much time it is going to take.

I'm also thinking that I should stitch something for my friend who's just lost her Dad - a little something for her 40th birthday in the Spring.  So that's the Robin for mid November, the Noah's Ark for January, the Beetle and something with cats for early March, plus Carnation, plus Christmas bits for Marie Curie.  On top of that, working full-time and having some sort of social life with family and friends.  At what point do I eat and sleep?  Answers on a postcard, please!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Why does Monday come round so soon?

Well, this is a Monday update because we had family visiting over the weekend so although I got the update photos taken, they didn't get as far as the blog. 

I also climbed a cliff (actually the side of a disused railway cutting) with my sister and her two littlies so that they could see what was on the other side of the fence at the top.  I was a sedentary, book reading child, as nesh then as I am now.  Although I have lived in this area for over 38 years, I have never climbed the side of the railway cutting until now - maybe life really does begin at 40!

Anyway, on to stitching.  Starting with the smallest piece first, the end is in sight for this little Christmas tree.  A few more X's and then the backstitch.  I attended another Marie Curie meeting last week and we are hoping to have a little stall at the beginning of December to get our fundraising underway.  We have also planned a list of events for the next year, in draft at the moment and needing to be tightened up, but we are making progress.

The robin himself is now complete, including the backstitch.  All that remains is to do the other part of the branch behind him with its attendant blackberry blossoms.  I am planning to frame him myself but need to get him finished before I can go frame hunting with Mum.

Steady progress on the Beetle's bonnet assisted by the fact that Mum had visitors and so couldn't come round.  Even better, Dad has now sorted out her broadband contract and her hub has arrived.  They just need to get set up and then I have to go round and teach her how to blog as she has a history project on the go that she wants to write about.

I got three blocks completed on Carnation this week - the bottom two in the right hand column and the one on the left on the bottom row.  I just need to finish the bottom row and then I will be working on column 8 which is partly on page 2, followed by row 10 which is partly on page 4.  I am hoping to get page 1 completed before Christmas, even though the frogs appeared this morning when I had moved onto the next block.  Basically I wasn't quite awake and got two similar shaped symbols confused, which was a bit of a pain to deal with before 8am.

I have also now chosen and bought the kit for my cousin's baby due in January 2012.  I know that I haven't left myself a lot of time and I will probably not get it done quite in time, but Mum and I have just been so wary of even thinking about things for the baby up till now because of past history.  However I have made the decision and must now just wait for this lovely colourful piece to fly its way across the Atlantic - cheaper from the States via ebay than buying it here in the UK.  As you can see, it is a Noah's Ark and it comes from the Tobin Baby Collection of Design Works Crafts.  I'm looking forward to stitching this piece for a much wanted little one.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

WIP update

Well, as promised yesterday, here is a work in progress update following my holiday.

I have nothing to show on Carnation, because although I took it away with me, the  layout and set-up of the cottage were not really suitable for working on something so large.  I think that I put in about half a dozen stitches while I was gone, so need to get back to grips with it this week.

Because Beetle is my Sunday morning piece, I have two update photos for you.

The one on the left shows what I got done while I was away.  The one on the right shows what I did this morning.  I am currently working on filling in the bonnet, but it is a slow process because there are umpteen narrow bands of colour to give the right effect.

The piece that I really made progress on was my Robin.  It was just the right size to work on and everything for it was held in one narrow plastic A4 box file, unlike Beetle (which I had to move the dining table to under the lounge window in order to work on).

The right hand side with the blackberry fruits is complete, backstitch and all.  I need to finish the robin himself and do the few lines of backstitch on him, and then there is another short piece of branch with blackberry blossom on the left hand side to be done.  Then add my initials, wash, press and frame - all in time for my friend's birthday.

On top of that I still need to wash, bead and finish my Poinsettia piece and sort out what I'm going to do with the Mouseloft/Hobbycraft pieces.  I'm thinking of making cards out of them, but with the backgrounds being pale blue and cream, they don't exactly go with the traditional red/green colour scheme.  Need to think about that one.

Back to work tomorrow, which will be interesting after a two week break, so must now go and make lunch.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Honey, I'm home!

Apologies for the break in transmission, but I've been away for a week to celebrate (if that's the right word) my 40th birthday.  I did take some stitching with me and I will do my usual stitching update tomorrow.  For the time being, this is mainly a post about my holiday and the stash that was waiting for me when I got home.
I did take a couple of update photos before I went of Carnation and the Robin, so these show the state of play as of 30 September.

This is the comfortable little cottage in the Cotswolds that I have been staying in.  It is a converted barn in traditional Cotswold limestone.  The window on the right is the bedroom and the window on the left is the lounge.  You go into the lobby and through the door on your right into the lounge.  Facing down the lounge, the door to the bathroom is immediately to your left.  The galley kitchen opens off the other end of the lounge, also to the left.  The bedroom door is straight opposite.  Beyond the bedroom is the owners' garage.

The cottage is in a charming little village (we will call it a village because you can find it in an atlas) of stone houses clinging to the side of a hill.  There is no church, no shop, no pub, no phonebox, no nothing, except a postbox which will only take small letters.  The countryside is beautiful and it is ideal for getting away from it all, except when you have a power cut.  That night, I went to bed at 7.30pm, having had a couple of cookies for my tea!

I spent my week in the Cotswolds visiting pretty little market towns such as Stow on the Wold and Chipping Norton, doing research in the Gloucestershire Archives, and pestering Town Clerks in Winchcombe and Woodstock.  I came home with a stoneware bowl from the Winchcombe Pottery, a lot of research notes about my mother's family, and a photocopy of my grandfather's baptism record.  Oh, and a lot more books than I went away with!

Did I enjoy myself?  Yes and no - the cottage was very comfortable and well equipped, the scenery was gorgeous, the weather was lovely, but ...  it was so isolated that you had to drive everywhere for everything, which when you are used to popping round the corner for a pint of milk was a bit of a bind and not very environmentally friendly.  But I think the worst thing was the roadkill - it seemed like a massacre everywhere I went.  Living in the suburbs, on the rare occasions that, say, an urban fox gets run over, it gets removed fairly quickly.  In the countryside, you drive to your destination past and literally over a continuous array of dead birds and animals, and then on your return journey a few hours later there are fresh corpses added to the previous ones.  And the next day when you drive out in the same direction, they are all still there with yet further additions - I drove past the same two or three dead badgers on several occasions. 

I am not a rampant animal lover, but I will not be moving to the countryside - this girl knows what suits her and the suburbs is the place for her.

On a brighter note, I came home to my second lot of stash from the USA.  This has taken over a month to get to me due initially to being partly out of stock.
As you will see, I now have the chart for "Fall Fields" from The Prairie Schooler and "Christmas Sampler in Red" by Plum Pudding Needleart.  I also ordered the necessary three skeins of Cranberry by The Gentle Art Sampler Threads.  This will be my first piece using hand dyed threads (when I get round to it).

I shall finish here and get some tea, and carry on tomorrow with my regular stitching update.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The things we do for love!

Somehow it seems to me that going that extra mile is always easier when it is for someone you love.  And today I did go that extra mile - in fact I went 100 plus extra miles - a round trip to Doncaster to pick up a birthday present for my Mum that I won on ebay.

This vintage dolls house is now residing in the bottom of my wardrobe where I am hoping that my Mum will not see it in the next six weeks or so before her birthday.  It needs a bit of work but that's fine because so do most of the other dolls houses in her collection.  There is no furniture with it so she is going to have to buy more furniture or we will have to buy her furniture for Christmas.  

So you do things for love and then other people do things for love of you.  Last Saturday I went to a combination birthday party (for the Patchwork Group) cum house warming (for one of the members).  I had a great time - lovely house, great food, fantastic company but the best bit was this:

This was an early birthday present from the Patchwork Group, who celebrate all members' birthdays ending with 0 with a group project.  It is a single bed size quilt, in autumnal colours, made for me to wrap myself up in when I'm on the computer or stitching.  

So there you go, a couple of the things we do for love!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Some progress made!

Today I'll start with another new start and then work up from there.
 This is another Mouseloft for Hobbycraft piece - this time of a Christmas tree.  This one might just get stitched as per the chart, rather than bits being left out.  I have another three of these small pieces to do.  I took Santa and Snowman along to the Marie Curie meeting, but although it looks as though we are going to have some sort of craft stall thing, I may have to make these into cards myself as I didn't get any volunteers.

Next up is my Eva Rosenstand robin - isn't he just gorgeous?  I've done the back stitch round the eye and for the beak, and he just looks so lifelike.  I'm really enjoying stitching him and may well do him again at some point.  If my friend doesn't like him, I shall start to think that there is something wrong with her.
Then comes Beetle mania.  Despite a home invasion by my Mum using my computer, I did manage to finish the second headlight and start the sidelight (?) above the first headlight this morning.  To be honest, I feel better about it when I look at the photos than when I've got it in my hands for some reason.  As you can see, I am now using a hoop with this rather than the square snap-on frame and I'm finding it easier - its not so bulky in my hand.  

Carnation has gone well this week, despite being out three nights in a row.  I've completed three blocks in the right hand column and gone into a fourth.  Mum said that it was coming on when she looked at it this morning.  

Back to work tomorrow and at least my colleague will have returned from her holiday so I will have someone to share the load again this week.  Sometimes the bosses seem to forget that one person doing two people's work is going to take longer to get stuff done!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Stash Alert!

At the end of last month, I blogged that I was going to visit Wye Needlecraft in Bakewell, and then nothing!  Well, the reason for that is because I was so disappointed in the shop.  Their website is great and I fully expected the shop to be crammed with lovely things and to come home with lots of goodies.  But it wasn't - downstairs there were kits, frames, lights, tapestry and knitting stuff.  The stairwell was full of beautifully stitched display pieces, and upstairs there were charts, threads and fabric.   There was only one chart that I fancied and they didn't have the speciality threads in stock to do it with.  They didn't even have many of the charts for the display pieces.  So I came away with empty hands.

I was so disappointed that I came home and went on the internet, which was fatal!  I ordered stash from two shops in the US, and then Hurricane Irene decided to put in her two pennorth.  Anyway, today the first order finally arrived at my office and here you are:
This little lot comes from Wyndham Needleworks in Connecticut - I think I've spelled that right.  I ordered last year's Just Cross Stitch Halloween issue and there is a very nice autumnal cushion in there which even my Mum likes.  I also ordered two charts from Long Dog Samplers - "All Things" and "All Things II".  These are samplers based on one of my favourite hymns - "All Things Bright and Beautiful" - slightly better picture below.
I may put one on my WIPocalyspe list but I'm still thinking about that, and besides I still have more stash to come.

And I've forgotten the goodies - Wyndham Needleworks didn't just send me my order - there were freebies too.  I got a free Halloween chart, a free size 26 needle, and 2 yards of The Thread Gatherer hand dyed silk ribbon in "Hawaiian Sunset".  That put a smile on my face!

That was a great start to the day , but it was all downhill from there as far as work was concerned.  Thank heavens it's Friday!  I'll be back on Sunday with my updates, but now I need to go and find something for tea.