Monday, 25 November 2013

Hark the Herald Angels ...

Yes, it is officially that time of year again. They had the grand turning on of the Christmas lights here in my little suburb on Saturday night with a craft fair, farmers market, live music, children's fairground and fireworks.

 And I do actually have some angel to show you.  That narrow column of stitching next to Serena is the left hand side of Angelique's skirt.  When there is a bit more to see, Serena will ease out of the picture, but I thought that she would lend a bit of context to an otherwise uninteresting photo.  There was serious frogging again with Angelique before reaching this point - I really must learn to read the instructions before putting needle to fabric!

Moving on to a piece which will eventually include angels, I have made good progress on April this week.  There is a largish plant in a pot still left to do on the right hand side before I start to back stitch back to the middle.  There is a lot of back stitch so it may take some little time :-(

This is a lighter picture than I usually manage to get of Train of Dreams, and it is technically poor, but it does mean that you get a better idea of the colours in it.  I got another couple of blocks done this week.

This last picture is of my Bouquet cards finally made up to sell.  Unfortunately the people who attended our Marie Curie coffee morning last week were obviously the wrong market as the cards did not sell.  However I will try them at work and see what happens.  They look good though, don't you think?

In other news, a very kind friend of mine has offered me her mum's sewing box containing a number of untouched skeins of thread probably dating from the 1940s/1950s.  I don't know what brand they are, but my mum will find a use for them even if I can't.

Furthermore I somehow managed to lose 2.5lb last week, bringing me down to 11 stone, 10.5lb.  I'm not sure whether I will be able to maintain this loss as a spot of emergency baby sitting last night led to a stopoff at the chip shop on the way home, and I will be out for a meal on Wednesday night.  I'm wondering if the weight loss may have been partly due to expenditure of calories on keeping warm as I only just put the central heating on this morning.  Any biologists out there with a view on that?

It's getting chilly now and I need to put the kettle on for my hot water bottle, so will love you and leave you.  All the best to you and yours, and may the frog keep away from your stitching!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

2013 WIPocalypse - November Full Moon & IHSW - November Report

This is becoming a bit of a habit, combining my WIPocalypse and IHSW reports - obviously the full moon likes to hermit and stitch too.  However I wouldn't say that it has been a particularly productive weekend.  I do have some stitching to show you, but not a lot.

This is my new start - "Mouse & Robin" by Margaret Sherry - a cover kit from World of Cross Stitching.  I realised that I needed something small to take to Patchwork Group this week.  I couldn't take April as that is for one of the other members, and everything else is either too big or takes up too much space.  I'm not enjoying this - I have remembered why I don't like cover kits - the fabric is too small and the threads are poor quality.  However I'm sure that I will be able to find a home for it once it is finished.

Speaking of April, it is coming on quite nicely. The only problem is that the linen is dragging down to the right hand side.  I have tried taking it off the frame and putting it back on, but it hasn't made any difference.  I am hoping that this is an issue which will be rectified once the piece is finished, washed and pressed.

Finally, Train of Dreams.  Not a lot of progress this week - one block and three rows of the next block - but that is better than nothing.

It's been one of those blurgh weeks where getting out of bed and dragging myself to work has been an achievement.  Actually doing anything non-essential has more or less gone by the wayside - which is why no progress on the Angels.  

On the weight front, I put on another 1lb this last week.  People keep leaving munchies on the desk behind me - if they were at the other end of the room, they would be so much easier to resist!

The weather man is now proffering sub-zero temperatures and possible snow in the near future, so  I may have to succumb and put my central heating on soon.  

I'm sorry that this has been a bit of a whinge this week.  What can I write that is positive - I made a casserole in my slow cooker this week and I unexpectedly had tea at my sister's tonight with hugs and kisses from my nieces.

Right, time to put the kettle on for my hot water bottle.  All the best to you and yours, and may the frog steer well clear of your stitching.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Light the blue touch paper and retire ...

There's been no such thing as a quiet night in this week - it's been one explosion after another.  The Hindu festival of Diwali started last Sunday and finished on Thursday, and it was Bonfire Night on Tuesday.  So every night has been firework night!  I went to one myself on Friday night at my sister's - just a small gathering of family, neighbours and friends, including the most gorgeous and placid six month old baby girl, who just watched the pretty lights and smiled.  I'm hoping that things calm down now for a bit.  There will be fireworks again later on this month when they have the official Christmas lights switch-on, but at least that is only the one night.

On the stitching front, I have a start and a sort-of finish to show you.

I'm starting with my finish - here is Serena with all her backstitch completed.  When she is beaded (eventually), she will have beads down the centre of her skirt, beads in her collar and hair, and beads round her head and at the bottom of her wingtips.  I think that she looks good now, but will look even better when she is really finished.

I did start the next angel, but having had to frog every stitch that I'd done twice, firstly because I'd not read the instructions properly, and secondly because the blending filament was not co-operating despite a liberal coating of Thread Heaven, I gave it up as a bad job.  The current plan is to start again at a different point on the chart to avoid total frustration, so hopefully I will have something to show.

This is a not very good photo of my new start, April.  The ecru is not standing out from the sand coloured linen very well, so I am hoping that when I backstitch it, that will make it pop.  I had to start this twice as well.  The first time I was using two threads over two, but the coverage was not what I wanted, so I had to frog and re-start with three threads.  It's going to use a lot more thread than I am used to, and as I had to 'borrow' some skeins from other projects, I can see some thread purchasing in the not too distant future.

Last but not least, Train of Dreams.  This benefited from my frustration with the angels as I got a whole block stitched last night.  Today I stitched the two whole and one partial blocks required to finish column 3 and got a few stitches in at the top of column 4.  So good progress this week.

In other news, I maintained at Slimming World last week, so am still weighing in at 11 stone, 12lb.  There are two factors at play here.  Firstly, although I like eating, I don't like cooking - to me it seems a waste of time that could be spent doing other things.  That is why I eat a lot of pasta - it's quick and easy, and it doesn't matter if you don't stir it all the time.  

The second factor is the time of year.  Once the clocks go back, I tend to suffer from seasonal depression, and for me symptoms include tiredness, apathy and a generally negative viewpoint.  I do have a daylight lamp at home, which does help, but I work in an office with no natural light, and that doesn't!  So things which require a positive effort, like slimming, become much harder this time of year.  Stitching helps, because I have to concentrate on what I'm doing and therefore am not thinking negative thoughts.  And every year is different, some better and some worse.  At this point though, there's a long way to go before the sun comes back, so please bear with me.

All the best to you and yours, and may the frog keep well clear of your stitching!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

When did it get to be November?

This year seems to have gone really fast - I can't believe that it is already November and Christmas is just around the corner.  Time to start thinking about posting dates, where did I put the Christmas card list and what does the family want in the way of presents?

I am however doing some extreme forward planning.  Next year two members of the Patchwork Group have birthdays with noughts in them.  As both ladies have an abundance of quilts already, we are making them 12 inch bound squares, one for each month of the year.  I have April for one lady and November for the other.  In my last post, I was wittering about fabric for the April piece.  Well, that problem is now sorted - I'm using 28 count Zweigert Cashel linen in Sand.

This is a scan of the magazine picture of the piece that I am going to be stitching.  The text reads "Let Heaven & Nature Sing".  I am going to take this out and stitch "April" instead.  It is a piece designed by Sandy Orton of Kooler Design Studios.  V, the lady who is going to receive this piece, likes American folk art, so I hope that she will like this.  Her birthday is in August, so I shall start this tomorrow now that I have fabric and threads sorted out.

The other lady, whose birthday is in September, tends to be quite quiet and doesn't say much about her likes and dislikes, so I am having more difficulty working out what I am going to stitch for her.  However, between working on these two pieces and trying to get the Guardian Angels done for Mum, I am not sure when I am going to get back to work on Carnation, which is a shame.

The only piece that I have stitched on this week is Train of Dreams, with another three blocks completed on this column.  The moon now has two eyes, a nose and the beginnings of a mouth.  Both with this piece and with Carnation, it always amazes me how such complex pictures can be created using only needle and thread.

In other news, I put on 1lb last week, which I put down to the close proximity of birthday cake during a time of stress at work.  This is unfortunate, but not the end of the world.

Short and sweet this week, but work looms tomorrow so I shall finish here, and wish all the best to you and yours, and may the frog stay well clear of your stitching!