Friday, 30 September 2016

Solo September, Pie and Spends

Justine has hosted a series of OAAT months this year and we have just finished Solo September.  This was quite a success for me.  I spend exactly half the month stitching my Focus for a Finish project plus two days of finish-finishing.

Here they are:

The lovely couple are Brooke's Books Senor and Senorita Skull.  I stitched them on black perforated paper with the flowers on white perforated paper.  I simplified the finishing a little.  There are ribbons and things stuck out of his hat which I felt were unnecessary.  Her flower has three layers which I stitched but they looked bulky and top heavy so I only used two layers to make the flower.  The middle layer covered up most of the stitching on the bottom layer anyway.

When I finished stitching them, I attached the moustache and cheeks to the skulls by stitching them on.  Then I backed them with black felt which I attached by stitching all the way around the outline of the skulls.  Then I stitched the flower and the hat onto the skulls through the felt.  Finally I glued them onto two large square magnets I had from an old notebook which used to be attached to the fridge.  The magnets are slightly larger than the skulls which is why I have left the corners of the perforated paper attached, to cover the magnet.

Here they are on my fridge as they may look in my niece's home, assuming she has fridge magnets and likes to spell out her name and that of her fiance!

Last night I had another small finish; the top portion of the Cherished Stitches design from this year's JCS Hallowe'en Ornie Special:

stitched on 28 count Moondust from Crafty Kitten

The 26th of September was the Now I Know my ABCs SAL in the Cross Stitch Finish Line FB group and we have reached D.  I am stitching my spooky conversion of Lavender & Lace's Enchanted Alphabet:

Stitched on 32 count Tiger Lily Murano from Sparklies

I have continued to monitor my spending:

50 x DMC £20.50
CSC Subs £8.72
Backing Fabric £3.00
Chatelaine fabric £31.68
Chatelaine threads £35.83
Total £99.73

 That's a high total, but £50 of that was Birthday money from my MIL and £15 was a voucher from Leonore.  So I actually spent £35.  Remember the Stitch from Stash SAL which started all the monitoring?  Well, Stephanie has resurrected it on FB!  Similar rules where you set your budget and try to stick to it, existing subscriptions are exempt, as is postage.  She is also doing the "earn budget with your finishes" which I don't bother doing.  I want to save real money not spend imaginery LOL

My spending appears to be higher this year because I've been including all my subscriptions and finishing materials which will be exempt, so I am sure I can stick to £20 a month.  I will have my Christmas money to kickstart the year and my Chatelaine already kitted up too.

Finally, time for Pie!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

September Smalls SAL

The Smalls SAL is hosted by Heather from Stitching Lotus

This year I have two Small Challenges:

For the Hallowe'en Blog we had Bad Fairies which was a very tricky subject to find!  In the end I converted a Lucie Heaton fairy to be a Bad Bat Fairy:

Here's the original design so you can see the changes:

I used the silks from Counting Bats for her dress, tights, shoes, hair and hat.  DMC for her bat wings and Kreinik for her wand.  I sketched her on graph paper to get the wings right.

For the Christmas blog we had Festive Food for the theme, lots of yummy stitching going on there.  I am stitching the Primitive Hare Cubes for this blog and here is "I":

This is exactly as charted apart from the substitution of B5200 for Blanc.

Here are all seven so far:

stitched on 35 count Country Mocha from Willow Fabrics

You can tell "I" was photographed at a different time to the rest!

My other Smalls are two Sugar Skulls by Brookes Books which may be small in size but certainly take a lot of stitching!  Here they are nearly completed:

That photo was taken on Monday, I have actually finished all the stitching now but forget to take a photo before I started cutting them up.  So you'll have to wait until I have finished-finished them to see what they look like!

This is my current evening project; an extract of Potions and Brews by Cherished Stitches from the JCS Hallowe'en Ornie special 2016:

I'm stitching it on a 28 count evenweave which is far too big for a small!  If/when I stitch the whole thing I will definitely go for a 36 as recommended.  This is what I had in my stash and I wanted to stitch the top part right away.  It's called Moondust from Crafty Kitten.

Finally, I received another Birthday present which I will show you soon AND I ordered my fabric and threads for my Chatelaine taking advantage of the Birthday discount Crafty Kitten gives you.  I have some of the special threads as gifts, I have ordered the Rainbow Gallery and one Waterlily which didn't convert to DMC.  The rest will be the DMC conversion or a Jodyri thread substitute as some of those threads might be more suitable.  Exciting times ahead! 

Friday, 23 September 2016

More Gifted Gorgeousness!

The gifts have been coming in thick and fast this week so I thought I'd dedicate a post to them.

First of all - a huge THANK YOU to everyone who posted for the Big Birthday Blog Hop on the 17th.  It was incredible to hop around all the blogs reading everyone's anecdotes and seeing what stitching they had chosen.  Not surprisingly there were a lot of spooky Hallowe'en designs, some dragons and some samplers.  People had obviously taken the time and trouble to look through my blog and see what I liked.

The first gift to arrive was from Margaret in New Zealand, she was worried about the international post so sent it early and it arrived very quickly!
Margaret does gorgeous hardanger work and this is just exquisite!

Cheryl made me a lovely card inspired by an alphabet design she's been stitching.  You can get the chart from her if you'd like to stitch me a card for next year.  Or for the Jo in your life!

Mini also made me a card, aren't the strips of fabric beautiful?  She also made a little stitched pouch which is so pretty.

Mouse sent some threads for my Chatelaine and a lovely piece of Polstitches fabric.  I haven't started my Chatelaine yet, I need to order the fabric for it using my Birthday money.  There's also a "friendship" needleminder hiding in the bag!

Julie sent me these lovely satin threads, they are perfect for adding a little bit of luxury when you're stitching fabrics.

Tiff also sent some threads for my Chatelaine and some Nora Corbett charts she scored in a  thrift store for extremely cheap bargain prices!

The extremely creative Jocondine excelled herself this year.  She sent me this beautiful vintage embroidery pamphlet, some dragon bookplates and a stitched gift-tag:

Look at the date on the pamphlet!

The piece de resistance is my board game!  Click on this photo and admire the details!


Jocondine has included all my blog hops (go forward 3 squares) and penalties if you miss them!  There are stitchy pictures, free charts and some of Jocondine's favourite characters from her blog.  When we were children my sister and I were always making games like this so it fitted into the theme of the blog hop perfectly!

And then there was this little wooden spool with a stitched message:

I unwound the fabric to read the message:

And then when I held it up to show hubby, I saw the reverse!

How adorable is that?

Nicola sent me a beautiful card featuring one of the samplers she has charted for Hands Across The Sea Samplers and this lovely kit to make a beaded scissor case and fob:

Preeti sent me an awesome hanging featuring the Superhero Unstoppable Jo!  She also included a gorgeous silk zipper bag with some buttons and charms and some pretty fabric which I thought was just the small plain turquoise flowers until I opened it out for the photo. Isn't it lovely?

Close-up of the hanger:

Bea sent me these three spooky needleminders from No More Lost Needles, I really need a metal board to display them when not in use:

Phew!  And Leonore sent me a Crafty Kitten voucher!

That's enough of the goodies from other people, what did I get for myself?

It was well-packaged!

There's approximately 20 feet of bubblewrap there!

A lockable display case for all the goodies I have been sent!

Kim's beautiful porcelain pencil tray inspired me to finally sort out some display space for the many lovely things I have been sent.  I needed something secure and with a glass top to protect things from prying fingers and dust.  This case is made by a company who make cases for antiques and collectors fairs and is lovely, very good quality and quick, safe delivery too.

We spent the day of my Birthday in Norwich which is our closest city.  I wanted to go to a craft fayre where my friend had a stall.  Unfortunately she was ill!  So I had to spend some pennies on other people instead.  

I bought a "cactus-you-cannot-kill".  Apparently crocheted cacti are a "thing", two stalls were selling them but this was the nicest.

I also bought some cards, a notebook, some wire ornie hooks and a lucky dip parcel.

Close-up of the lucky dip (chosen by my son)
How appropriate was that?
I had to tell the stall holder all about my Blog Hop!
The charms are all Alice in Wonderland themed which is perfect too.

Finally, one of the requests made to participants of the Big Birthday Blog Hop was to include a photo pof something stitched I would like.  Here they all are!

ps my Birthday Blog Hop post also saw my 12,000th comment!  From the lovely Rhona.  What great timing.  How serendipitous!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Days of Jo's Life - Big Birthday Blog Hop

It's here!!  I have timed this post to appear at the same time I was born, so please think of my poor Mum when you see it.  I do have a Happy Dance to share with you all later, I'm sure you can guess what it is.
aged 9 weeks with my Nana and Grandad

The blog hop starts with me.  It is August in the year 1966, England have won the World Cup and a young couple are expecting their first child.  The husband is in the army and away from his wife who is staying with her parents.  Each weekend he comes home expecting to see his newborn baby.  Each weekend he goes back to the barracks, childless.  Finally, we reach September the 16th and the baby is on its way!  Hurry home Dad!  Dad hitch-hikes over 200 miles home, bursts through the door "Where is the baby?"   "Oh, baby will be a while yet, we believe there is a good book in there too".  Eventually I appear at 2,15am on the morning of Saturday 17th September.  "Saturday's Child works hard for a living" - they got that right LOL.

aged 9 months - look at me with my duckies all in a row

To read more of my thrilling life story follow each link in turn.  Remember some links will appear later than others as people live in different time zones.  There are a couple of blank years where nothing much happened!  If you did anything exciting in one of those years, please feel free to blog about it and join in belatedly.  Leave a comment and a link.

1967 - Vickie
1968 - Ariadne
1969 - Lesley
1970 - Beth
1971 - Gillie
1972 - Carolyn
1973 - Cheryl
1974 - Christine
1975 - Deborah
1976 - Katie
1977 - Astrid
1978 - Cathy
1979 - Melinda
1980 - Geeky Heather
1981 - Gracie
1982 - Heather
1983 - Jocondine
1984 - Justine
1985 - Kerry
1986 - no link
1987 - Leonore
1988 - Elfie
1989 - no link
1991 - Tiffany
1992 - Kaye
1993 - Mini
1994 - Mouse
1995 - Stephanie
1996 - Diya
1997 - no link
1998 - Preeti
1999 - no link
2000 - Barb
2001 - no link
2002 - Riona
2003 - Sarah
2004 - no link
2005 - Sharon
2006 - Pat
2007 - Kim
2008 - Noni
2009 - Susan
2010 - Rachel
2011 - Barbara
2012 - Jackie
2013 - no post
2016 - Bea

Welcome Back to the Present!  Here in the present we have the promised Happy Dance for Ghostly Mandala by Ink Circles.  Earlier this year Rachel sent me some gorgeous dark fabric she just couldn't get on with and thought I would like.  I decided it would be good for the Ink Circles series of Mandalas.  I have three of them from Just Cross Stitch and only need to buy the fourth.  Because the Ghosts were charted for coloured thread on white fabric I had to switch them and used B5200 for the outline.  There is a stitcher on FB who has done the reverse, she has stitched the actual ghosts in white rather than the charted outlines.  They do look good that way if anyone is considering it.

stitched on 32 count Autumnal Woodland by Crafty Kitten using B5200

Finally, I will keep this brief because there's a lot of reading in those links!  I hope you all enjoy the Blog Hop, BYOC (Bring your own cake) and loved the stitching shown.  I have several stitchy parcels already which have been arriving throughout the week so I'll be back later with some more Gifted Gorgeousness photos to show you all.

Friday, 16 September 2016

September WIPocalypse Memory Lane

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


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

1. Gathering Honey by Jannlynn:

16. Counting Bats by Just Nan:

And for the series:

1. Christmas Cubes by The Primitive Hare:

6. Stitcher's Alphabet by Brooke's Books:

Measi always gives us a topic to discuss:

September - Tell us the story behind a piece with special memories.

The design I've chosen is Angelica by Lavender & Lace.

I was born at my grandparents' house and we stayed there off-and-on until I was six.  When I first started school we lived too far for me to come home for dinner (as most children did back then).  My Dad would drop me off at Nana's for breakfast, I'd go there for my dinner and again after school when my Mum would come and walk home with me.   In the late 1960s my Nana had developed a brain tumour which was operated on successfully but which left her dependent on her family for anything more complicated than light housework, cooking and local shopping.  She also clung to anything familiar which included her oldest grand-daughter (me).  In her final years she was fond of telling people she "had brought me up".

When Grandad passed away she had to learn to live alone which she managed with support from my parents and the "girls" from the Home Care Agency.  She was unwilling to accept strangers into her home but conceded she would allow ones who smiled!  I was working full time (6 days a week) but did my best to visit her regularly and when she went into hospital again I spent my day off travelling to visit a very grumpy old lady who did not understand why she had to stay there.  "My sisters will look after me" as they did when she had the first brain tumour.  Well, those sisters still with us were in their late 80s themselves and not able to!  Eventually I had a cunning plan and introduced her to "my friend Mandy who has a house where ladies can live with her".  Nana decided any friend of mine was OK and told her social worker she "wanted to live with Mandy"!   The residential home was only 5 minutes from my house so I was able to visit more regularly for short periods of time.

At this time I was stitching Angelica by Lavender & Lace, the Easter weekend was spent working on her over-one face.  When the care home phoned me to tell me that Nana had lapsed into unconsciousness and the end was close, I brought Angelica with me to work on while I sat with her.  Nana passed away very peacefully just after teatime with me holding her hand and talking her through all the people who would be waiting for her.  I don't know exactly when I finished Angelica, it was some time later that summer so she appears in my Happy Dance blog on Nana's Birthday.  Nana would have been 101 this year!

Finally, Measi's suggestion of a memory post brings me nicely to tomorrow!  This blog will be hosting a Retrospective View of The Days of Jo's Life featuring Guest Bloggers from Around the World and their Memories Based on Anecdotes from Jo's Life and  Appropriate Stitching.  Or a Big Birthday Blog Hop for short.  I'm really looking forward to it and hopefully will manage to visit everyone by Sunday evening.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Gifted Gorgeousness September 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:

Beaded Trumpet by Mill Hill - a gift from Kim:

Gathering Honey by Jannlynn - a gift to and from my friend Sam:

Counting Bats by Just Nan - a gift from Epic Mel and a Happy Dance this month:

stitched on 32 count lavender linen

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

this is literally how to close to finishing I am!

Sugar Skulls by Brooke's Books - a gift for my niece and her fiance:

Yes, my B5200 arrived!
Black Kreinik is still AWOL

Last month I hosted a GGG for one person to win some Tibetan Silver charms, chosen from these packets:

The winner is

Congratulations to Jocondine, I shall be mailing a selection of the charms to you, some time before the end of the month!

You may remember back in the Summer I hosted my first Tenuous Shoe Horn Blog Party on the theme Summer?  Well, I used the Random Number Generator to chose one of the participants to win a little Summer-themed something.

The winner is

Congratulations to Katie, I shall be mailing something to you too, some time before the end of the month!

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 "September 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, we are nearly here!  There will be another blog post tomorrow for the WIPocalypse and then it's the BIG DAY and time for the BIG BIRTHDAY BLOG HOP!   BYOC - Bring your own cake.