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.