Saturday, 23 July 2016

Summer's Here!

The boys broke up for the Summer Holidays on Thursday and are off for six whole weeks!  I spent Wednesday and Thursday afternoons stitching on the grounds that they were my last two days on my own at home.  And then Friday and Saturday afternoons stitching on the grounds that the holidays have started!  Great excuses.

What was I stitching?  Mostly Gathering Honey.  I completed all the flowers in the central garden areas, except the French Knots which I will leave until the end so they don't get squashed.  There is quite a lot of backstitch in these sections to do and the instructions are not clear at all.  They suggest there are different lines for the different colours.  There are not.  They also suggest Dark Chocolate Brown for most of the bs but I'm thinking of a very dark green instead.

I've been making great progress on Ghostly Mandala by Ink Circles too.

Here it is on Tuesday 19th:

And on Saturday 23rd:

stitched on 32 count Autumnal Woodland by Crafty Kitten

That design was in Just Cross Stitch's Hallowe'en Special in 2014 and by chance the 2016 issue arrived yesterday.  The small designs didn't really grab me this year but I just love this sampler:

It's by Louise Henderson of Cherished Stitches and is charted for 36 count linen.  There's some over one stitching and some speciality stitches too so I think I'd stick with the 36 rather than go for 40 which was my first thought.  This could be my evening stitch when I finish the Ghostly Mandala.

If you haven't seen Louise's work before, check out her website.  As well as a great Hallowe'en Quaker she has done two lovely monthly series of birds and flowers.  The birds in particular is quite unique.  September is a peacock, I rather like that one for my Birth month.

As it was the fourth Friday this week I picked up The Stitcher's Alphabet by Brooke's Books and stitched almost all the M motif!  I'm saving it for the Alphabet Club so here's a sneak peek at the little Mouse:

Apart from stitching I have been working my way throught this folder, it's The Small Boy's Learning Journal.  This is the folder of assessment which has followed him throughout his first four years at school.  Now he's going into Key Stage 2 we get to keep it!

It's an incredible record of how much he's achieved, full of "wow" moments; where he's done something which makes the staff say "wow"!  Every milestone is noted, every activity documented.  Examples of his work and staff observations pack the folder.  Here's a recent piece of work which shows how you test a non-verbal person's reading skills.  The sheet has the pictures printed on it and he has to match the word with the picture.  The adult does NOT read the word out loud or identify the picture.  He only got two muddled round.  Pretty impressive!

As usual, there's lots going on in the online world of stitching; as well as Measi's Olympic WIPocalypse Challenge, I've joined in with Stitch Maynia's Olympic Challenge where they have a theme a day.  My son has a daily Art Challenge which I'm going to try do with my stitching.  I've also launched a Linky Party of my own - The Tenuous Shoe-Horn!   The theme is Summer Holidays and basically all you do is make a post on or near 8th August and then link-up on my blog.  The post must show some stitching, past or present with a link, however tenuous, to the theme Summer Holiday.

Here's a picture of a shoe-horn to advertise the Party!

Finally, I still have a few spaces on my Big Birthday Blog Hop so if you want to join in, leave a comment asking for more details.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

July WIPocalypse Olympic Preparations

WIPocalypse is hosted by Measi's Musings

Each month we have to share the projects we want to complete before the End Of The World.

The focus of my WIPocalypse will be my "16 in '16" which are 16 projects I particularly wanted to concentrate on in 2016.   The full list can be found on my WIPocalypse page where you can also find my secondary list "16 Series in '16".

My main goal is to keep to my rotation of one small every Friday and the rest of the month working on my focus piece until it is finished.  I also have a number of SALs I want to keep up with:

The Alphabet Club - a different letter on the first Saturday of each month
Gifted Gorgeousness - post anything gifted on the 15th
Hallowe'en Ornie Blog - a different spooky theme each month
Christmas Ornie Blog - a different festive theme each month
Smalls SAL - last Thursday of each month


And now for the progress report:

I have worked on 4 out of 16 projects since my last WIPocalypse, plus 2 from my series list.

1. Jannlynn - Gathering Honey

2. Teresa Wenztler - You Were Hatched

11. Scarlet Letter - Elizabeth Shephard

16. Just Nan - Counting Bats

And for the series:

1. Primitive Hare - Christmas Cubes A

6. Brooke's Books Stitcher's Alphabet L

Before I go on to discuss this month's topic, shall we just rewind to item number 11. Scarlet Letter - Elizabeth Shephard which looks suspiciously complete?

 I started Elizabeth back in January 2015 as part of the DUCJC2015 on Day 14 then I stitched on her each IHSW weekend since then as the photo collage shows.  She is stitched on the 30 count linen and with the AVAS silks provided in the kit.  I was not a fan of the linen, it was quite rough, I guess it's similar to the linen Elizabeth would have used in 1820.  I also found the count quite large, I would have preferred 36 or 40 count for this project but again the count was chosen to match Elizabeth's original.  The silks were lovely to use and the chart was great, really clear with HUGE overlaps between pages so it was easy as you went from one part of the design to the next to see where you were.  Scarlet Letter have charted the sampler as it is today, which means there are gaps in the motifs where the thread has worn thin.  Coupled with Elizabeth's complete disregard for symmetry in places means this is not a chart for OCD sufferers!  I did resist the urge to correct the symmetry as I realised I could be recharting the whole thing at that rate and went with the chart.

I also added a little personalisation to the design.  The kit was a gift from my friend Nicola for all the help I gave her in setting up the Scarlet Letter Blogs so I added our pair's of initials rather than the charted ones.  I might add my signature and the date to the bottom too.  I always forget!

Completing Elizabeth means a gap in the rotation for IHSW which I started to fill with Gathering Honey by Jannlynn.  I enjoyed stitching on it so much I continued today and plan to complete the coloured flowers in the centre while I decide whether to make this my focus piece or move it to once a month.

Which brings us quite nicely to Measi's Topic of the Month:

July - Olympic Stitching! The Summer Olympics will be held in Rio and will run from August 5th to 21st.  We’ll be hosting a challenge for everyone stitching on their WIPs to run for the length of the Olympics with three different “competitions”:  a rotation challenge (for those who like to work on a bunch of different pieces), a distance challenge (for those one at a time stitchers, or anyone else who wants to do some serious focusing on a particular piece), and a color challenge (stitch only in the colors of the olympic rings on your WIP pieces, OR… your nation’s flag).

Challenge 1 - The Pentathlon (5 events).  This will be my four weekend projects plus the evening stitching project (currently Ghostly Mandala)
Medals - I will award myself a Gold Medal for each completed project in the Pentathlon, a Silver for any WIPs and a Bronze for any additional projects started in that category (if I finish the Ghostly Mandala for example)

Challenge 2 - The Marathon.  This will be my focus piece.  Which will either be Gathering Honey or Little Snap Dragon, depending on how I feel!
Medals - I will award myself a Gold Medal for any completed piece, a Silver Medal for 8 days of stitching (Mon-Thur for the Olympic weeks) and a Bronze Medal for any additional projects started in this category (if I finish the first one)

Challenge 3 - The Olympic Rings - Blue, Yellow, Black, Green and Red.  I'll showcase those colours as and when they appear in my stitching
Medals - I will award myself a Gold Medal for five colours, a Silver Medal for four colours and a Bronze Medal for three colours.  They must form a substantial part of the focus area, not just two stitches in the corner!

Obviously the Pentathalon will have to start this weekend or I won't get the five events in but the other two challenges will run from the 5th to the next WIPocalypse post which is on the 18th August.

edit - Measi has amended the posting date to the 22nd to cover the end of the Olympics.


Finally, I usually have the Summer Postcard Blog Hop about this time but it's taking a vacation so I can focus on my Big Birthday Blog Hop in September.  However, a chance comment on Christine's blog made me think about hosting a simple Linky-Party instead.  The title is The Tenuous Shoe-Horn.  We all know how much I love to shoe-horn a project into a theme and there has been a degree of this with the Gifted Gorgeousness SAL too, all in good fun.

So the theme for the Linky will be "Summer Holidays - My Tenuous Shoe-Horn" and the date will be 8th August (which was my Nana's Birthday, rest her soul).  All you have to do is make a post and link-up on that date, or very close to it, showing a stitched project with a tenuous link to the theme.  Random Prize for a Random Participant.  Which may or may not be Summer themed.

Here's our logo, it's a shoehorn in the shape of an actual shoe!  Please feel free to add it to your blog for some Summer Silliness:

Nice and easy, no need to send me anything, just post around about that day and link-up.  If it's a success there may be more.  You only have yourselves to blame then.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Gifted Gorgeousness July Link-Up Post

Welcome to the Gifted Gorgeousness link-up post!  The link-up date will continue to be the 15th of each month but I will keep the linky open until the end of each month so you have plenty of time to join in.

The format remains EXACTLY the same as last year so I'm sure you are all aware of what can be included - gifts to and from you; charts, fabric or threads; shoe-horns welcome!

Since my last GG post I have worked on a few gifted pieces:

Elizabeth Shephard by The Scarlet Letter - a gift from Nicola:

stitched on 30 count linen

Counting Bats by Just Nan - a gift from Epic Mel:

Ghostly Mandala by Ink Circles - fabric is a gift from Rachel:

stitched on 32 count Autumnal Woodland from Crafty Kitten

You Were Hatched by Teresa Wentzler - a gift from Karen:

The fourth corner:

"Where Did I Come From?"

"You Were Hatched":

And the full piece:

stitched on 28 count lilac evenweave

Last month I hosted a GGG (Gifted Gorgeousness Giveaway of The Sweetheart Tree's Finger Fun I:

Congratulations to Kerry and if anyone is hosting a GGG themselves this month, let me know and I'll add a link here.

Here is the place for you to link up so we can see what Gifted Gorgeousness you have been stitching so far this year.  Please use your name or your blog name in the field NOT the words "July Update" so I can easily see who has linked up this month.
And link to the actual post, not just your blog.  It is easier if you copy and paste the link, rather than typing freehand.
Thank you.  I can amend links if you make a boo-boo though.



Finally, The Days of Jo's Life Big Birthday Blog Hop was been launched and is taking sign-ups.  The Hop will be on the 17th September.  To take part all you have to do is leave a comment or email me.  Nearer the date I will allocate you a Year of My Life and on the 17th September you do a blog post about that year or that life event in your life or what you were doing at that age (assuming you are that old!).  Also, post something you have stitched which you think I will like.  Lots of people have already signed up but there are still some spaces left if you'd like to be involved.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Turning a Corner, or Three

Here's the corner I showed you on Friday:

And here's another one:

And here's a third:

And when I stitch the fourth one you'll be allowed to see the whole piece!

Those corners are stitched in DMC metallic and outlined in the DMC metallic which is why they are taking some time.  They are full of fractionals too.

I can show you this piece and name it now a few people have identified it as Ink Circle's Ghostly Mandala:

stitched on 32 count Autumnal Woodland from Crafty Kitten

This design was in Just Cross Stitch Hallowe'en Special for 2014 and is now available as a chart direct from Ink Circles website - Ghostly Mandala.  Here is how it looked in the magazine:

I've switched the colours round and am stitching with B5200 on dark fabric.  I am still wondering whether I should have stitched the actual ghosts in white rather than stitching the background.  Maybe I can do it again that way round!  I have lots of this fabric as the lovely Rachel gifted me a large piece she could not get on with.  I have the magazines for 2012 and 2013 which have two of the other Spooky Mandala in so I could be stitching these for some time to come!

I have done seven evenings of stitching so far and have stitched 7.5 ghosts  You can count and calculate how long it will take at this rate!

I also finished another letter for the Christmas Cubes by The Primitive Hare as my contribution to the Christmas Ornie SAL Blog:

stitched on 35 count Country Mocha from Willow Fabrics

And here is the whole piece so far:

I'm stitching them out of order to fit in with Kaye's themes on the blog.

I also found time to do some very old framing!  This is Max's Moon by Bucilla, a kit I stitched in 2008 and rediscovered in February this year.  The white is not glow-in-the-dark threads, it just really pops against the black aida.

Beaded Moon

Lots of white backstitch fur


Finally, I know many of you already know and follow the antics of The Little Dog with the Grand Ideas, Stewey and his Spinster Mo-ther, Coni.  You may not know they are having a very difficult time at the moment and could do with some kind thoughts and prayers.  If you can spare some, pop over to Chez Spinster and leave a kind word.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Friday Frolicking

Happy Friday, the first day of the weekend!

The Frolicking in the title refers to Kaye's group blog Kitten Stitching and the Friday Frolics where we each post what we stitch on during Friday.  The idea is to pull out an older WIP or project we are trying to complete.  My rotation changes each Friday so that's quite often what I blog about there.

This week I have been celebrating JOJ or Just One July with Justine and numerous others.  Following on from her success during Monogamous May Justine has decided to trying being a OAAT stitcher (One At A Time) and this month she is focusing on a Bothy Threads Cut Thru Pirate Ship.

I'm going to JOJ-lite, ie I chose one Focus For a Finish project but also stick with my weekly rotation to keep up with the various SALs.  This week the FFF project has been Teresa Wentzler's You Were Hatched.  In fact I am so close to a Finish, I'm not going to show you the whole piece, just extracts!

Here is one corner:

The chart uses a Dinky Dyes variegated blue for the Celtic border but I've used a DMC Metallic Blue backstitched in a DMC Gold.  One done, three to go!

The next two photos show a little trick I use when I'm backstitching pointy things like dragon wing tips.  Instead of stitching the diagonal backstitch line in the same holes as the 3/4 stitch, I move it across one thread as you can see.  Then I stitch the straight backstitch over the three threads instead of the usual two. 

(you can really see the blended blues in this photo too)

In this photo you can see the difference it makes.  In the top circle I followed the line of the stitching and the wing tip is blunt.  But in the bottom circle I made the diagonal one thread longer and you get a nice pointy wingtip:

It's not just wingtips this is useful for.  I do the same with anything with a 3/4 stitch point, leaves or petals on flowers for example.  Hair tendrils too.

Here's my bathtime project.  You might have more idea what it is now, any guesses as to the designer of the piece?

stitched on 32 count Autumnal Woodland from Crafty Kitten

And here's my rotation piece for the weekend.  The Second Friday of each month is Christmas Friday and this is from The Primitive Hare Christmas Cubes for the Christmas Ornie SAL Blog:

stitched on 35 count Country Mocha linen

I started this letter for my Longest Day Marathon and stitched the snowflake minus one stitch.

I got a lovely little prize in the post this week.  Remember the May Monster Madness Blog Party?  I won a prize!  Here it is on my fridge, next to my Rocky Horror magnet and the "Save the Date" for our niece's wedding (venue deleted so you can't gatecrash!)

Finally, I went to an award ceremony at the local college for a video game design competition the Large Boy had entered.  He didn't win but did get a very favourable comment from the judges.  Many of the critiques picked out areas of weakness compared to other parts of the design but his was all positive.  If you accept that this quote is a compliment - "He has seamlessly woven in a narrative which is simultaneously touching and disturbed".  His world was "quixotic" too.  Must be all that Terry Pratchett we read!

Monday, 4 July 2016



It's TUSAL time again!  For those of you new to blogging, the TUSAL is a project run by Daffycat, click on the button on the right hand bar for more details.

Here is my ORTS jar posing with the current stitching projects:

On the left we have You Were Hatched by Teresa Wentzler.  Here is what it looked like last week with just the green and blue stitched:

Here is the addition of yellow:

And now the pinks:

The fabric colour is a much better likeness in the middle photo.  It is a very pale lilac 28 count evenweave.  I have lots of backstitch to do and then a celtic knot border.

Here is the other project in the photo, a new start!  Bonus points for anyone who can identify the design or even guess what it might be.

stitched on 32 count linen

I finished my Just Nan Big Bee, Little Bee and intended to put it on a scrapbook page along with Beehive Violets but I got sidetracked by re-mounting an older piece which had gone "saggy" in the frame.

Remember this one from 2013?  It was a FB SAL from Threadpickerz:

Threadpickerz Heartz SAL photo DSC03706HeartzSAL_zpsa9186cd7.jpg 
stitched on 32count white evenweave with De Havilland rainbow silks

Finally, we all like a bit of beading on our projects and I know some of my followers actually make things from beads so I thought you might like to see these I found on Mr X-Stitch's blog:

They were made for an event called Battle of the Beadsmith and there's a FB group and an older website if you want to see more beautiful beading.