Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Happy Dance in the Present

Becca from Finding Flapjack has come up with a great idea for blogging prompts.  Here is the current one:

It's been said that to be happy, you have to live in the moment. Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not? How well do you think you live in the moment and why do you believe that?

"Living in the moment" is very much the philosophy of this year, Mindfulness is the "buzzword" with many new books being published on the subject.  It's all to do with savouring the here-and-now instead of wishing your life away hurrying to be in the future or living in the past dwelling on past mistakes or past happiness and not appreciating what you have right now.

As well as selling several books about Mindfulness we have also stocked a wide range of "Grown-up Colouring Books" (that is colouring books for adults as opposed to Adult Themed Colouring Books which we have also sold!)


The idea being that as you colour in the gorgeous pictures you are focusing on creating something lovely and achieving "flow" through that activity.  What is "flow"?  

"In positive psychology, flow, also known as zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity." Source - www.wikipedia.org

Most of us will recognise that state from our stitching (or knitting/crochet/crafting) but we probably call it the "Just One More Stitch" Syndrome!

So back to Becca's question - I would say that I am indeed very happy when I am in a state of flow with my stitching.  I am naturally a planner, a worrier, an over-thinker, I plot out difficult conversations in my head (usually when I am supposed to be going to sleep!).  Having my stitching and my blog does at least give me something positive to focus those thoughts on.  That's why I am always planning Blog Hops!  Ironically, my stitching is one area of life I do not worry about; I stitch what I want, when I want and so what if there is a big pile of WIPs and unstarted projects?  Their time will come, it just gives me choice.

I do get a lot of pleasure out of looking back through my blog and through my life.  I can clearly remember being the Large Boy's age (I am blessed with a highly retentive memory for experiences) and enjoy thinking about what I was doing when I was 12.  Was life better then?  People look at the past through rose-tinted glasses, my husband is always moaning that the boys don't play out like we used to.  But that's because there is so much more available to them in organised activities and in home entertainment.  The Large Boy's friends have a huge range of sporting and recreational groups they can go to, not to mention the room full of toys, Lego and computer games.  Their parents have much more disposable income than our's did.  Probably because both parents tend to work now.  My son has definitely seen less bullying, less poverty, less violence, less hunger and worry than my generation did.  His worries and concerns, and those of his peers, are listened to and taken into consideration.  OK, it's not perfect and there are still problems for many children but there is not the systematic bullying we experienced and were powerless to prevent.  As he gets older, the Internet will become more of an issue but on the reverse side, he will be able to make contact with more like-minded people than he could ever meet in our small town.  Maybe even start his own blog!

I am conscious that he is on the cusp of teenagehood and will change soon.  Harry Enfield has a brilliant sketch on this subject - Kevin Becomes a Teenager.  So I am trying to live in the moment and enjoy the days where he is happy to cuddle up on the sofa and watch a film with his Mum.  Yesterday's choice was Jack Black's School of Rock.  Very funny film.

And while we were watching, I was stitching!  I completed On The Beach by Madame Chantilly.  Here it is in all it's glory followed by a few close-ups.

On the Beach by Madame Chantilly
Stitched on Kynance evenweave by Sparklies






The fabric is especially dyed by Kate from Sparklies.  I made several colour changes, the blues are 798/799/800, the starfish are 950 and the shell is 842.  The dark tips to the seagulls are 3799, the charted black was just too harsh.  Albert is my cousin's baby.  Yes, old man names are back in fashion!  I can't wait to get this framed and to go visit them to present it in person.

Finally, we are approaching Easter which falls late this year, the weekend 3rd - 6th April.  I will be hosting my Annual Easter Treasure Hunt again.  Each participant posts a picture of something stitched on an Easter or Spring theme along with a letter I allocate to them.  Over the Easter Weekend everyone hops around like a bunny, finds the Mystery Phrase the letters spell out and reports back here with it.  Prizes for the lucky winners chosen at random.  If you'd like to be a Picture Poster please drop me an email.

Here is the link to last year's Treasure Hunt if you are wondering how it all works - Easter-treasure-hunt-blog-hop 2014




Friday, 27 February 2015

February D.E.S.I.G.N. SAL

D.E.S.I.G.N. SAL

The idea of this Blog Hop is to choose a different designer each month and do a post focusing on a piece of their work you have stitched on during the month.  Last month I focused on three very well-known designers;  Nora Corbett (AKA Mirabilia), Joan Elliott and Teresa Wentzler.  For the rest of the year I am going to concentrate on less well-known designers in the hope of spreading their fame across the Blogosphere.

The hosts of D.E.S.I.G.N ask us to answer a few questions on our chosen designer.

1. What designer are you talking about this month?

The month is the turn of Madame Chantilly, I am not sure where I discovered her but it was probably on someone's blog.  She has a blog here and an Etsy shop here.  Her patterns are available as paper charts and as PDFs.  I don't think all designs are available in both formats yet but it's worth asking.

2. Have you stitched a project by this designer before?


"On the Beach" is my first Mme.C design.


I am stitching this on a fabric by Sparklies called Kynance after Kynance Cove in Cornwell.  It is dyed to order so you can specify landscape or portrait and also where the division between blue and yellow is placed.  I have changed a few of the colours so they are a little bit brighter than the charted ones.


3. Would you buy/stitch a design by this designer again?  Why/Why not?

There are a set of landscape designs which co-ordinate with On the Beach.  I have already bought Hallowe'en Town and would like the Roses and Reindeer designs too.




There is also this rather nice Advent Calendar, I am very partial to Advent Calendars!



4. What made you choose this particular design/designer?

My cousin had her first baby last year and they decorated the Nursery with a nautical theme because Daddy is in the Royal Navy.  So of course this little design was perfect for the baby.  I am hoping to finish and frame it by Easter as I would love to travel to see them and present it in person.

5. Did you notice anything that distinguished this designer from others?

Madame Chantilly only uses whole stitches in her work, no beads or metallics or other embellishments.  They are charted for DMC and the occasional hand-dyed.  However you could easily use more hand-dyed threads and add charms, buttons or beads.  On the Beach has little crabs and shells along the bottom which you could substitute buttons for the stitches.  The designs have a definite European feel to them, which they should because Madame Chantilly is an Italian designer!


Finally, I saw this idea on someone else's blog and as a lover of statistics I couldn't resist!  This little pie chart shows the proportion of time I have worked on each project this month:

(I am assuming I will stitch On the Beach tomorrow.)
(I am also not including the one length per evening on Trick and Treat, only if I work on it during the day)



Wednesday, 25 February 2015

February Smalls SAL

Stitching Lotus Ornament SAL
The Smalls SAL is hosted by Heather from Stitching Lotus

This year I am going to have two monthly challenges:

1. The Primitive Hare Hallowe'en Cubes SAL with Giovanna
2. The Hallowe'en Ornie SAL themed blog.

Last month I started the letter H for the cubes which I finished this month and then added the A cube too:

Stitched on 32 count Vintage Grain linen

The theme for the Ornie SAL was skeletons.  I found it rather tricky to find a good skeleton pattern and had quite a hunt for a freebie I knew existed somewhere on the internet.

I could find the picture on Pinterest via Google Images but no-one ever bothers to credit and link the designers there.  So frustrating!  Eventually I found the chart on the Casa Cenina website.  Hooray!

Here is the Dancing Skeleton on his own, this would make a great ornie by itself:


And here is the completed piece:
Cuore di Hallowe'en by Savoir faire Vailly
Stitched over one on 32count Cognac evenweave
DMC B5200, 310 and 740

When I had finished stitching I showed it to my son and said "It's a skeleton, some ghosts and some long legged beasties, I think".  He was the one who realised that the black shape is actually a skeleton cat.  Sometimes you can be too close to a piece to see it!

I also stitched a Birthday card for my friend Nicola.  Together we run the Scarlet Letter Years Blogs and more recently, the Scarlet Letter FB page along with Krista.  Each year I stitch a different red letter N for Nicola's Birthday.  Here is this year's:

N by Broderie
Stitched over 1 on 32 count Antique White linen

The Broderie website is a French site which offers two freebie charts per week.  After that you can usually buy them for 1euro.  I try to visit once a week to download the free ones!

Finally, I made a small start on a new SAL.  Linda from Stitching with my Furbabies has several of the Satsuma Street Cities among her many WIPs and she suggested we SAL with one.  I chose London as it is my capital city (I also have Paris and Italy, which is not actually a city but came as a set of three).  Here is my Tuesday start:

Stitched on 32 count Antique White linen









Friday, 20 February 2015

February Stitch from Stash

Month: February
Spent: £ 5.50
Earned: £ 0.00


Stitch From Stash 2015
Stitch from Stash is hosted by Mel from Epic Stitching

Essentially the idea behind Stitch from Stash is that we are limited to spending US$25 (or £15) per month. There are various exemptions (Birthday money, existing mag subs, clubs etc) but the idea is not to try and pervert the rules and to stitch some of that stash!  I will be posting on or around the 20th of each month because that is when I get paid!

January Budget
£ 15.00
January Spend
£   0.00
February Budget
£ 15.00
Crafty Kitten Voucher
£ 20.00
Crafty Kitten Spend
£ 22.50-
Willow Fabrics Voucher
£ 10.00
Willow Fabrics Spend
£ 13.00-
Current Balance
£ 24.50


So what did I buy?  From Crafty Kitten I bought a cone of DMC 310 for all the black stitching I do plus some Crescent Colours for J is for Joanne.  I was gifted three of the colours and figured I only need three more, the rest would be fine in DMC.  From Willow Fabric's sale I got two great fabrics, both 32 count green linen for £ 6.50 a fat quarter of each.


Willow Fabrics really do have some great sales and some interesting fabrics too, I do recommend them.

So, that is the Stash part of the post.  Now for the Stitch part.

Since my last SFS post I complete the DUCJC but I won't show those again, I will just show the projects I have worked on since the beginning of February.

Primitive Hare - Hallowe'en Cubes:

Stitched on 32 count Vintage Grain Linen


Prairie Moon - Thine is the Trick and the Treat


Scarlet Letter - Elizabeth Shephard





I noticed something really interesting about these two designs - the border around the centre motif for each one is exactly the same!

 Finally, I am using hubby's laptop and the mouse keypad is stupidly over sensitive and keeps jumping the cursor around all the time.  It is virtually impossible to do anything so I am going to call this post done and try make it look a little better when I can get on the PC.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

February TUSAL of Time Travel

Tusal

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 project:

And here is a close-up of the first completed block:


The project is Primitive Hare's Hallowe'en Cubes.  The plan is to stitch one per month until Hallowe'en.  There is a lot of black as you can see so it's a good thing I bought that cone of 310.

Becca from Finding Flapjack has come up with a great idea for blogging prompts.  Here is the current one:

If you could travel back to any time in the past, what date would you choose and why? Would you attempt to influence past events while you were there? Why or why not?

I had a good think about this and strangely enough my thoughts were on the same lines as Becca.  Not of returning to an historical event but of going back to a point in my own life and making a change there.  She even referenced a favourite film - The Butterfly Effect.

Hubby and I watched this film on DVD.  The plot is a man going back in time to try put things right in his life and in his friends' lives.  However he makes things worse instead of better.  We enjoyed the film and when it came on TV we sat down to watch it again.  As it neared the end we became more puzzled.  This was NOT how we remembered it.  The film had a totally different ending!  This made us wonder "what if this film is different every time you watch it?"  How freaky would that be?

I also thought about those "Sliding Doors" moments when one little action or event changes your entire life.  I had one of those in 2001 actually involving a late running train.  My train being late set a chain of events in motion which led to the birth of the Large Boy in 2002.  If only Anglia Railways knew their power!

When I first got together with my husband we knew a lot of the same people (it's a small town!).  I was going through my photo album from my teenage years and showed him a photo of a group of us who had been fundraising.  And there, right at the back, barely visible was my husband!  If only we had known!  Our lives would certainly have been very different.  We would probably have about eight children rather than the current two LOL.

We met again about ten years later at an event my ex-husband was hosting, I was helping and hubby-to-be was the sound and light engineer.  Apparently he was very impressed by my organisational skills, my hostessing, my professionalism and my elegant red dress!  I wonder what would have happened if we had run off together that night?  Apart from getting a very different review in The Stage newspaper!

In reality it took a further ten years for us to meet again as single people and get together once and for all.

Returning to the historical point of view, I would love to go back and find out the truth behind the King Arthur legends.  I have been fascinated by these stories for so long and have read many different versions. Was he a Roman or a Celt?  Was Guenivere good or bad?  Christian or Pagan?  Did Lancelot actually exist or was he a later invention?  Merlin and the Lady of the Lake also fascinate me.  It would be amazing to sit with the people who first wrote down the legends and find out the truth.

And to tie in with my stitching, here is one project I would go back and change - stitch it on evenweave and not aida!   How great would this look on a hand-dyed evenweave?



How about you?  Would you change something in your past?  Or would you rather visit an historical event?

Finally, thanks to everyone who took part in the recent Valentine Blog Hop and also linked up for Gifted Gorgeousness.  I believe all the Secret Sweethearts have now been revealed.  If not, then the links are up so you can still find out where your stitching went.  The next Blog Hop will be the Easter Treasure Hunt.  So prepare your bunnies for that one.





Sunday, 15 February 2015

Gifted Gorgeousness February Link Up Post

The first link up was an enormous success with 40 people linking up to share their Gorgeousness.
I thought there were alot of generous bloggers out there and this confirms it all.

  Gifted Gorgeousness

For newbies, this is my first year long SAL.  Click on the picture above for the full details.

We will be posting and linking up on the 15th of each month, because it is 2015.  Should be easy to remember.

In January I was also taking part in the DUCJC in memory of SoCal Debbie so I have many projects to show you!

Day 15 - Gifted Chart and Fabric
Just Nan - Haunted Pumpkins Tree

Day 16 - Gift for someone.
Joan Elliott - Believe

Day 17 - Not GG project!

Day 18 - Gifted Chart
Teresa Wenztler - You Were Hatched

Day 19 - Gifted Chart and threads
Nora Corbett - Little Snowy Gray Cottage

Day 20 - Gifted kit for someone
Jannlynn - Gathering Honey

Day 21 - Gifted Fabric
Joan Elliott - Faces SAL

Day 22 - Gifted chart
Just Nan - Winter Typography

Day 23 - Giveaway prize chart
Stitcher Anon - Marley was Dead

Day 24 - Gifted Chart
Shepherd's Bush - She Tends

Day 25 - Gifted Chart
Shepherd's Bush - Mulberry

Day 26 - Gifted Chart and Threads
Dragon Dream - Dragon of the Winter Moon

Day 27 - Gifted Chart and Fabric
Prairie Moon - Thine is the Trick and the Treat

Day 28 - Gift for someone
Anchor - Kingfisher

Day 29 - Gifted Chart
The Sweetheart Tree - Tudor Rose

Day 30 - Gifted Chart
 
Nora Corbett - J is for Joanne

Day 31 - Gift for someone
Madame Chantilly - On the Beach

Of the above designs, two have been stitched on in February - Prairie Moon and Madame Chantilly.

And now over to you - 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 "January Update" so I can easily see who has linked up this month.  And link to the actual post, not just your blog.  Thank you.  I can amend links if you make a boo-boo though.

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Finally, we have a little Gifted Gorgeousness Giveaway this month thanks to the Gorgeous Gillie!  When I announced the GG project she sent DMC threads to me and to Jacquie, she also did a draw and sent threads to Sheila.  This time she is donating a wonderful chart just for the GG link-ups.

Earth Sampler by Primitive Needle

All you have to do is link up your GG post above AND leave a comment here clearly indicating that you wish to be in this GGG (Gifted Gorgeous Giveaway).  The words "Yes please, include me in the draw" are recommended as clear and non-ambiguous LOL.  One name will be drawn at random on the 1st March when the link-ups are closed and announced on next month's post.   Good Luck!


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Secret Stitching Sweethearts Blog Hop


Happy Valentine's Day to you all!  I hope that those of you in relationships got well treated today.

Over the last few weeks my email inbox had been receiving Hearts and Love in preparation for the Secret Stitching Sweetheart activity.  I have a lovely spreadsheet and each person has now been emailed a picture from a random participant.

At some point today they will post the picture they receive on their blog and wait for their Secret Stitching Sweetheart to reveal her identity by leaving a comment.

Here is the full list of participants (in no particular order):


So please hop over to the blogs and leave a nice comment.  Each participant will be trying to locate the photo they sent in and trying to find out who sent their's.

There are new faces in the blog hop again this year.  I have seen a few comments recently on FB that people don't seem to be blogging as much.  But this is definitely not my experience.  I have found there are the longtime bloggers who have been blogging since the early days, then there a group of us who started about four years ago when blogging was really huge and finally the newbies of a year or less.  People do come and go but there always seem to be new people coming in to take their place.  Which is nice, I always try to return the following and meet new people.  And it is also why my Reader is always so full!

This Blog Hop is just for fun but watch out for the Easter one coming soon!

I don't usually get a photo for this hop (because it wouldn't be much of a secret!) but this year one person sent in two photos and I chose this one for my Valentine.  Can you guess who sent it to me?


I made the border for the collage!

Here are a couple of little seasonal stitches I have on display this time of year:



(She has an Etsy shop too)

Finally, I will be back tomorrow with the Gifted Gorgeousness Link Up for February, never too late to join in with that one.