Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A new venture and a bit of a shock!

For the past two years I have volunteered as a collector for the Great Daffodil Appeal run by Marie Curie Cancer Care.  You would not believe how tiring it is standing for an hour or two with a tray of plastic daffodils round your neck and a collecting tin in your hand - but all in a good cause.  Anyway the other week I was asked if I would like to attend a meeting to discuss setting up a local fundraising group for Marie Curie, so last night I duly turned up.  The turnout was a bit mingy, but it is the summer holidays so people were otherwise engaged.  There was a presentation about how the need for Marie Curie nurses is going to increase with the strain on the NHS caused by the ongoing cuts and how local fundraising groups were needed to help increase donations, either by acting as a focal point for other people raising money or by putting on events themselves.

Well the upshot of it was that there will be another meeting in September when the kids have gone back to school and life is back to normal to set up a fundraising group for my area.  Although I am fortunate in that nobody in my family (touch wood, cross fingers) has needed the help of a Marie Curie nurse, it is a very good cause and so I am going to participate and do my bit.  Between now and the meeting in September, I am contemplating stitching some cards (Christmas or otherwise) to take with me to see if that sort of contribution would be welcome. 

So that's the new venture, now for the shock.  I have been at my workplace for over 5 years now and things have changed dramatically since I first went there - departments growing, departments shrinking, new IT packages etc etc.  Anyway, another department is about to be merged with ours due to staffing changes.  The other department has one full-time and one part-time secretary, both of whom have been there for over 10 years and both of whom travel a long distance to get to work.  Yesterday the part-time secretary announced that she had got a new job closer to home and that she would be leaving next month.  That was a bit of a surprise but we would have time to get used to the idea before she left, or so we thought. 

This morning she was asked to pop up and see the HR person, and came back saying that she would actually be leaving today!  Well, that was a shock - we were all completely gobsmacked.  And leave she has - there was no time to organise a card or a collection but one of the bosses went out and got her some chocolates and a plant, and we had a little presentation with speech, and that was that!  The original plan was that we would all go out for drinks after work on her last day, so she said that she would stick to that date as it would give people time to get their commitments sorted out.  It will be very strange and quiet without her - she was quite a loud person - but I wish her well in her new job and hope that she is happy there.

On the stitching front, I have acquired some new stash but this is electronic stash!  For the immense sum of 91p (1 Euro), I have downloaded the Castles in the Air SAL from Papillon Creations.  Sizewise this will be about the same size as Carnation, but as it is more of a sampler piece, there will be certainly a lot less stitches in it.  And then a freebie - Kathy B at Gracewood Stitches kindly sent me a pdf of her currently free chart Flutter On By, which has butterflies and frogs on it.  My nieces will love it but it will have to wait until I have a space in my schedule to fit it in.  In other news, I have decided that I want to get Poinsettia done and dusted so that I can use my lunch hour to do some stitching for Marie Curie.  I think that Fuschia is going to be a Patchwork Group only piece for the time being.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

And the sun shone!

This weekend, for the first time in a while the sun has shone all day with no outbreaks of rain, so I feel loads better.

Updates as usual - some progress on my Poinsettia, but not a lot.  The boss is on leave as of the end of this week coming so has been getting somewhat stressed trying to get everything done before he goes off.  And when he's stressed, he's difficult to live with, so I've been blog reading in my lunch hour to stay calm rather than concentrating on my stitching. So no promises as to next week's update as he gets more and more stressed as the last day approaches - I shall have a visible halo and wings by close of play on Friday!

Mum was round again this morning to use the Internet so again I didn't get as much done as I would have liked.  However the front headlight is nearly done - most of it is in DMC B5200 which isn't showing up very well in this photo.

While Mum was here, I showed her some of the cross-stitch pieces that I fancy doing.  She wasn't that taken with Papillion Creations or Ink Circles, but she did like the Chatelaine Mandala Gardens.   I will have to get Carnation finished before I embark on one of those, but its nice to know that it won't go down like a lead brick.

I have made some progress on Carnation this week now that Dad has fixed my floor frame.  I've also been doing some maths - I've worked out that there are 7,315 stitches on page 1.  So to get half way through page 1, I need to complete 37 squares - as of this morning, I've finished 31 squares completely and probably done the equivalent of one or two more where I've gone over the edges of squares to avoid ending up with lines on the finished piece.  I'm enjoying it but its slow going - when you've got 15 stitches to finish a square but need 11 different colours, most of which are one stitch only, it takes a while to work through them.

My other start, Fuschia, has gone nowhere this week - it was an emergency piece to fill in for the Patchwork Group meeting last week, and so will probably not get touched either until the August meeting or unless I finish Poinsettia before then. 

On a more adventurous note, I have been learning to drive Mum's car.  I do drive and have a car of my own, but the idea is that I get to grips with Mum's car and then we can do shifts on long journeys cos Dad doesn't drive.  My car is a little run around, but Mum drives a 7 seater people carrier so I've been out a couple of times with Dad (much less stressful than having Mum in the passenger seat while I'm getting used to it) and so far, so good.  Its a lot longer and you pull the neck of the gearstick up to get into reverse, rather than push the gearstick down as you do in my car, and the driver's seat is a lot higher up, but I'm getting there.

I was a bit hesitant to begin with, because the last time that I drove a car of Mum's (over a decade ago), I had a close encounter with a lamp post.  It wasn't quite as bad as it sounds.  Back in the day, my parents' driveway was made rather narrow by the presence of a large lime tree on the edge of the pavement on one side of the dropped kerb and a lamp post on the other side of the dropped kerb.  Backing Mum's estate car out one evening, I got the turn wrong (there was probably a car parked awkwardly on the other side of the road).  Somehow I managed to bring my side of the car right up against the lamp post, and then in moving forward, knock down the end of the wall between my parents and the neighbours, making rocks fall into the drive way so I couldn't move forwards or backwards.  Mum was not impressed and until this weekend I have never driven any of her cars since.  These days, the lamp post has been moved back against the wall and the lime tree was cut down because the roots were going under my parents' house, so that particular scenario will never be repeated, thank goodness.

Well, this has gone on longer then expected so I will finish here and make tomorrow's lunch, which will include freshly picked homegrown cucumber courtesy of my brother in law's greenhouse.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Rainy Monday in July

Well, hasn't the weather been pants recently?  The sky has a permanently dubious look to it and the only predictable thing is that it will rain, whenever it feels like it.  So much for summer! 

Stitching has been less, rather than more, for a number of reasons.

My Poinsettia piece has suffered from too much blog reading at lunchtime, although I have finished that bottom leaf and moved on to the next petal.

The Beetle has moved on slightly - you can see where the front headlight is going to fit in.  This is my Sunday morning piece so I was hampered by getting in about 1am on Sunday, following a late night babysitting for my nieces. 

I was however compensated by coming home from the supermarket on Sunday afternoon to find a bunch of chrysanthemums sticking out of my letterbox as a thank you present for my late night.

Progress on Carnation is virtually non-existent.  Last Sunday Mum and I rolled the fabric on the frame to give me better access to the bottom of page 1 of the chart.  This somehow disturbed the setup of my floor stand which refused to grip the frame properly and it kept falling out. 

Dad has now done his fix-it routine and I am now fully functional again, but I didn't get my work back until this Sunday afternoon so there is hardly anything to show - not even another completed square.

However I do have a new start to show.  I didn't intend to start anything new until I had finished one of my current WIPs, but the best laid plans and all that jazz!

Last month, when I went to Patchwork Group (I'm a member despite not doing any patchwork or quilting at all - nepotism rules OK), one of the ladies said that it made her nervous to see me without any work in my hands.  Well, Carnation is just too big to take out, Beetle's chart is too big  (I work this one sat on my double bed so that I can spread the chart out), and Poinsettia is intended to be a Secret Santa present for one of them.  So I had to find something small to take with me this month so as not to worry people.

So the above picture is of what I got done on Thursday night at Patchwork Group - it is a small kit that I have had for some time - "Fuschia" out of the Carolyn's Garden series by Serendipity Designs.  I have another one from the same series - "Morning Glory" - lurking in my to do pile.  The final piece will be 4 inches square, stitched on 14 count white aida with threads supplied with the kit.  I might make a card out of it once it is done. 

In other news, when Dad was round taking an initial look at my floor stand, I got him to help me hang my Pheasant (see blog header) in my bedroom.  Pheasant was my first piece stitched on evenweave.  The chart comes from XS Gold issue 62, and it took me just under a year to complete.  The colour combinations have been much admired and I thoroughly enjoyed stitching it.  So I suppose that is some progress on the stitching front, to finally have a piece of my work framed and on the wall.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A long week

Well I meant to get back to you before now, but as the title says, it's been a long week.

Monday, I drove a 300 mile plus round trip to Essex and back to attend a family funeral with my parents.  It was a scorching hot day, and although the funeral went well and it was very nice to meet up with family members who I haven't seen for years, it's taken just about all week to get back to normal.

I have had to change my Slimming World class as of this week.  My previous consultant has changed venue and evening.  I could have got to the new venue but can't do the new evening due to prior commitments.  So now I have to attend another class on a different night and get to know a whole new set of people, which is probably good for me but I could have done without it this week.

And to top it all off, on Friday evening my washing machine died in the middle of washing my work gear!  The perfect end to a tiring week.  However a little man should be coming round tomorrow to fix it when he has arranged a time with my Dad who will be letting him in, and my lovely parents let me use their washing machine instead of having to make a trip to the laundrette.

On the bright side, I finally got a call back from someone at Origin Publishing and now have my subscription to XS Gold for £24.30 as per their advert.

I did get some work done on my Poinsettia piece this week.  Its coming on quite nicely, but I'm looking forward to finishing it and starting on something else.

There has been progress on the Beetle as well.  That there is a chunk of front bumper.  The blue and brown and orange look a bit odd, but when I checked them against the picture on the front of the kit, it seemed to work OK in the finished version.  I'm not sure whether I got more than normal done this morning because I wasn't up and down to the washing machine as usual or whether I might have got more done if I hadn't been up and down sorting out Mum on the Internet.  I shall be so glad when she gets on-line at home.

And finally Carnation - another 300 odd stitches done this week, mainly at the bottom left.  I just need to complete one more square and that will officially take me over the 2,900 mark and leave me just 100,000 stitches to go!  Mum seems to be coming to terms with this project - at least she takes a good look at it each time she drops by.  You see, she's a patchworker and quilter - has been for well over 25 years - and doesn't really understand why I choose to cross stitch and also why I don't create my own designs.  I've tried to explain to her that as I can't actually draw, cross stitch enables me to create something beautiful and I also find it very soothing and beneficial to my mental health.

Well, its getting on and I have work in the morning, so will call it quits.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Sorry it's late!

I'm a bit behind the fair this week.  Although my WIP photos were taken on Sunday as usual, I had a very early start on Monday to drive down south for a family funeral.  I've just about recovered from driving over 300 miles in one day so here's my update.

My Poinsettia did not get worked on last week for one reason or another, so no photo this time round.

I managed to get the tyre finished on the Beetle this week as I had no interruptions, and have moved onto the front bumper.  This is not a piece that I would ever stitch for myself and doing it on aida means that a sharp needle is required for the many fractional stitches (which would be so much easier to do on evenweave).  Nevertheless I shall plug on in the hope that my friend will appreciate it when the time comes.

 Carnation is coming on slowly - there are something over 2,500 stitches there.  I will have to roll the fabric up soon in order to stitch the bottom section of page 1.  That will be a two person job as the frame is so long that it is difficult to manipulate the dowels and keep the fabric taut on your own.

In other news I have still not been able to sort out my Cross Stitch Gold subscription.  I have now had four different call centre minions say that they will call me back in the last two plus weeks, and nada.  According to tonight's minion (No. 5), all the supervisors go home at 5.30pm and let the minions get on with it.  I will therefore be ringing up at 8am tomorrow in order to speak to a supervisor before I go to work cos I am not impressed by the service that I am receiving, and if I don't get a straight answer tomorrow morning, there will be a formal letter of complaint to the Chief Executive.  OK, rant over for the time being.

Friday, 1 July 2011

A late finish finish

I actually completed this little piece ages ago, but the finish finish took several months to achieve.

The train (WOXS Issue 161) was finished on 1 April, but baby Ben was about a fortnight overdue when he arrived on 22 April.

The finish finish into a block took months because I have sewing machine issues and my Mum who does sewing machine things for me was away attending weddings and so on and so forth.

Ben's block finally made it to the finish finish line on 29 June and I packed it up and gave it to his Mum that night.  I think that it's going to be a one off - the stitching was nice and straightforward, but Mum hated making it up.  Any other baby stuff I ever do will have to be a lot simpler.