Monday, 22 April 2019

April IHSW

IHSW or International Hermit and Stitch Weekend always starts on the third Friday of the month.  It's a chance to lock yourself away and focus on your stitching for the weekend.  You can take part on your blog or via the Facebook page.  Links at the bottom of this post.

It's great when IHSW co-incides with a double Bank Holiday Weekend AND you don't have to work at all.  So I got plenty done on all four days this month.

My main focus was my Discworld Mappe.  Here is where I started on Friday:

No photo description available. 

I had already stitched a length of brown when I realised I hadn't taken a starting photo.

Here's where I finished today:

We now have a fish and the whole of the Counterweight Continent done except for the backstitch.

The Counterweight Continent - according to L-Space

The entire continent is governed by the Agatean Empire, whose capital city is Hunghung.

Geographers and philosophers had long inferred the existence of such a continent, as in order to make the Discworld "work" , it was taken as given that there must be a more-or-less equal weight on the shoulders of all four elephants. Otherwise things would get distinctly unbalanced and the floor might start to tilt underfoot, with unforeseeable and possibly dire consequences. (This prospect also engages the minds of the Balancing Monks, who travel around the Discworld leaving judiciously located small weights behind them wherever they travel, so as to keep things in balance).

Source: L-Space

Great excitement as I also had a new start this weekend.  Last year I was stitching-along with Linda on Mrs Peggotty's Alice and the Flamingo.  Linda was very keen to stitch another design this year and we chose The Queen of Hearts.  She will be my "bath-time" project for the rest of the year.  For new followers, this is NOT a project I stitch in the bath, but one I stitch while my son is in the bath and I watch him to ensure neither he nor the bathroom drown.

When I printed out the chart for the Queen, it became obvious she is smaller than Alice.  Which seems strange.  So, in order for them to appear more similar I have chosen to stitch her on 22 count hardanger rather than 25 count evenweave.

Here is my progress so far:

stitched on 22 count hardanger

A few people have said that they don't do Facebook and asked if I could host a link-up for them, so here it is! Just add your name and the link to your actual IHSW post, not just your blog home page.



The next IHSW will be 17th - 19th May so make sure you note the date in your diary or come and join us in the Facebook Group - IHSW on Facebook. If you don't do Facebook then you can check in here.

Finally, thank you to everyone who took part in the Easter Treasure Hunt Blog Hop and everyone who has hopped around to visit the blog and guess the mystery phrase.  All the links go direct to the posts now so you have plenty of time to try and guess the phrase.  Happy Hopping!

Friday, 19 April 2019

Easter Treasure Hunt Blog Hop 2019

Welcome to this year's Easter Treasure Hunt Blog Hop; the bounciest, springiest Hop of them all!

First new finish - Mill Hill Daffodil Egg

The original kit was fully beaded on perforated paper but as the chart for this was passed on to me without the supplies I used a piece of 16 count yellow aida and the DMC equivalents to stitch this.  I needed a small project for my train journey last week and this was perfect.

Now on to the Hop.

As usual, I have a list of bloggers, each one was allocated a letter which will spell out the mystery phrase when you hop round in the order below.  A little clue this year - you may be confused to start with as the letters may not seem to spell out anything you can understand but persevere and all will become clear!

The first little bunny is:


and finally back to me for this letter:

Hopefully you have a phrase now!  Don't forget that some people will post later than others because of time zones.  Leave a comment telling me what you think the mystery phrase is.  I have enabled comment moderation so the answers will not appear for two weeks.  Closing date is Friday 3rd May, 2019.

My second finish was a new start last Easter so it is very fitting that it was finished for this Easter.  A lovely bright Springy design from Satsuma Street officially called Nest Egg but also referred to as "Goose in a Bonnet" as a nod to the 80s when I did not stitch those sorts of designs!

stitched on 32 count Marie's Daffodil by Chromatic Alchemy

Because the fabric was paler than the recommended fabric, I decided to backstitch the goose, the basket and the eggs to make them stand out a little but more.  For a lovely version on the recommended fabric - have a look at June's blog here - Butterfly Wings

This is how I have finished the piece for my Easter display:

I bought a felt basket from The Works and cut it apart to get a nice long line of "grass" which I stuck to the edge of the frame.  Then I "planted" the Mill Hill Egg in the grass!  Because the frame is a box frame, the trim doesn't obscure the stitching.

Finally, it is IHSW - International Hop & Stitch Weekend - or Hermit, whichever you prefer!  Enjoy the Blog Hop and make time for stitching inbetween the egg hunting!  Have a wonderful weekend.  Except for Alicia, the Crafty Princess who is working all weekend.  Hope it's a quiet and peaceful weekend instead!

Monday, 15 April 2019

April Gifted Gorgeousness Link-up Post

2019 GG

Welcome to the April Gifted Gorgeousness link-up.  The link-up date continues to be the 15th and I will keep the link-up open until the end of each month so you have plenty of time if you are late posting.

The format remains exactly the same, there is a list of rules on the main sign-up page if you want to check what is required but basically anything connected to the word "gift" is allowed, whether it was a gift TO you or is a gift FROM you.

My main project for Gifted Gorgeousness has been my Discworld Mappe by Lyndisfarne Designs, which will be a gift for my son.  This is where I left off last GG post:

This is where it was at the end of March:

And this is the piece I have stitched so far this month:

That will be a banner and a pointing hand once it has been backstitched.

I stitched for two days on Gathering Eggs by Nora Corbett, a gift from Carol:

stitched on 32 count Vintage Country Mocha linen

Nest Egg by Satsuma Street is almost complete so I will be able to show this for the Easter Blog Hop this Friday.  The fabric was a gift from Tiffany:

stitched on 32 count Belfast in Marie's Daffodil by Chromatic Alchemy

I also worked on this small, which once again I am saving for the Blog Hop.  This Mill Hill Daffodil Egg was a gift from Riona.

Now it is your turn to show us your Gifted Gorgeousness for the month. Please use your name or your blog name in the field and NOT the words "April 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.


Finally, I hope everyone who wants to take part in the Easter Blog Hop has now sent me an email and received confirmation that I have added them to the list.  I will be sending the emails out on Wednesday with your letter from the Mystery Phrase and further instructions.  The Hop itself will take place on Good Friday 19th April which is also the first day of International Hermit & Stitch Weekend.  Perfect timing!

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Finally Fully-Finishing Fun for April

Hosted by Rachel the Ten Hour Stitcher

This new SAL is designed to motivate us all to do something with that box of Finishes pieces instead of just storing them under the bed.  We will all be linking up on Rachel's blog on or after the 10th of each month (10 Hour Stitcher - 10th of the month).

Not such a flurry of fully finished objects this month I'm afraid.  I planned to do a batch on Sunday afternoon (my favourite time to fully-finish) and then a local group invited us to a gym party.  Two hours FREE gym for my son when it usually costs £5 for one hour?  Yes please!  But I did manage to finish my March Christmas Ornament into a little bell-pull style finish.

This is The Sweetheart Tree Christmas Noel Bellpull from the Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament Special 2007.  I cut some batting to shape, laced the back of the linen and then whip stitched a piece of dark green felt to the back.  Added a tassel made from co-ordinating thread and a little hanger from a piece of ribbon in my stash.  I have remembered to save some of the ribbon for the other two in this series which I will be stitching later this year.

That was the only thing I FFO'd this month.  So here are a couple of other designs finished in a similar way.

Joy by Jeanette Douglas
from Just Cross Stitch 2010 

Snow Forest by Just Nan

Christmas Hearts by Just Nan

Christmas Star by Just Nan

Don't forget to hop over to Rachel's blog and see what everyone else has Fully Finished this month.

Finally, I will be hosting my Annual Easter Treasure Hunt on Good Friday the 19th April. If you would like to take part this year, just leave a comment here. The week before Easter I will send you a letter of the alphabet which will form part of the mystery phrase. On Good Friday you will post that letter along with a photo of something seasonal that you have stitched (could be Easter or Spring or just something cheerful and sunny or floral). We all hop around like little bunnies to find the Mystery Phrase!

Monday, 8 April 2019

8th Blogaversary on the 8th

It's my 8th Blogaversary today!  Where has the time gone?

That's me when I was 8.  Once again you can just see my little brother to my right wearing pink and green.  That was a very fetching mustard and green knitted tanktop,  My little sister was at the other end wearing a brown/orange toned dress with a blue ribbon trim.  In the 1970s it was All The Colours For All The Children.  None of this pink/blue nonsense we have now.

We'd had a fairly stable homelife that year.  I moved into the Juniors at School and Mrs Butler's class.  I actually saw her earlier this year and recognised her so it was nice to let her know what an influence she had been.  I read my first Charles Dicken's story in her class - A Christmas Carol.

How has the blog done over the past year?   Readership has held steady, my pageviews have increased but comments have decreased.  I suspect that this is connected to the way people read blogs now.  It's much harder to comment using a mobile device.  If you are a regular silent follower, why not make this post your first comment?  It would be amazing to push those comments to 20,000 by this time next year!

Here are my blog stats:
8 years
865 posts
1,000,909 pageviews

Yes, I burst through the 1,000,000 mark this week!

I'd also like to wish my Blog-Twins Susan and Calamity Jr a very Happy Birthday too!

What have I been working on recently?  I had a quick look back at last year's Blogaversary post and all the pieces there have been finished which is encouraging.

So far this month I have worked on my Hallowe'en and Christmas pieces.  The Christmas piece is very close to a finish but here's a photo when I had just started:

No photo description available.

This is a Dragon Dreams design and the fabric is actually Reed Green not grey.

I added some bats to my spooky conversion of The Enchanted Alphabet by Lavender & Lace.  They were a freebie found at this blog - Brigitte Dadaux

I took this little Just Nan Butterfly Lace along to my Crafty Coffee Morning last week and got the purple finished and all this white border too:

stitched on 32 count lavender linen

Having worked on my Christmas and Hallowe'en pieces for 3 days each, this is where I would usually pick up my Chatelaine but I decided to do something different this month and work on another of my "19 in '19" choices. As we are close to Easter I chose Gathering Eggs by Nora Corbett.   The first picture is with my TUSAL jar so I can link up with Daffycat for this month.

I worked hard on her hair and face for two days.  The frog had attacked her last year so it was nice to get this part finished.  Lots of different colours and blended threads too.

stitched on 32 count Vintage Country Mocha

Hasn't she got a sweet face?

Last year I asked you all what was your favourite blogging or stitching moment of the last year so it seems like a good idea to revisit that question this year.  Leave a comment and let me know.

A new blogging year also seems like a good opportunity to launch a new blog.  I've been showing my painted rocks recently and everyone seems to enjoy seeing them so I thought I would start a specific rock blog -  Serendipity Rocks UK.  It's still a work in progress, I'll be adding posts over the next two weeks so make sure you follow using a Reader so you see them all, or just pop back from time to time.  I decided on a blog rather than Instagram or Facebook because I can add Labels to the posts and find specific themes if I want to.

Finally, I will be hosting my Annual Easter Treasure Hunt on Good Friday the 19th April. If you would like to take part this year, just leave a comment here. The week before Easter I will send you a letter of the alphabet which will form part of the mystery phrase. On Good Friday you will post that letter along with a photo of something seasonal that you have stitched (could be Easter or Spring or just something cheerful and sunny or floral). We all hop around like little bunnies to find the Mystery Phrase!

Saturday, 6 April 2019

The People Chose Speciality Stitches

Regular followers will be aware that for over 3 years now I have run a themed SAL on the first Saturday of each month.  First we spent 26 months doing The Alphabet Club and then 12 months of the Zodiac.  Now I have decided to listen to the People and post about your choice of theme.  Each month I ask for suggestions on the blog and then make a poll in the IHSW Facebook Group from those suggestions.

April - Speciality Stitches
May - Flowers
June - Mermaids

Here's a fun fact - in England we call them Speciality Stitches pronounced speci-ality but in America I have noticed your penchant for missing out letters and you call them Specialty Stitches and pronounce it special-tee.  So now my European friends know if they speak English or American!

But what are they?  Basically anything which isn't a cross stitch.  From a simple Symrna Stitch (an X with a vertical cross on top) to the Queen's Stitch and Jessica Stitches encompassing the dreaded French Knot!

A lot of these stitches are commonly found in embroidery and have crossed over into counted cross stitch to add interest and texture to a piece.

Most charts which use them will have a diagram showing how to stitch the speciality stitches but if you want to learn more then this is a great website with some nice clear diagrams - Nordic Needle - Stitch Dictionary

According to my Happy Dance Blog the first designs I tried with speciality stitches were a series of four from Shepherd's Bush in 1998.  This one is Mistletoe:

You can see the others on the Happy Dance blog here - Come Happy Dance With Me - Shepherd's Bush.

Around about the same time I went on a stitching retreat where the class project was this Autumn Sampler.  We stayed in a lovely converted barn rented by two sisters.  One was a former owner of a needlework shop and the other was a chef.  So the food was delicious.  During the day we stitched this Jane Greenoff design called Woodland Walk (No 234C).  This is described as a piece for "the accomplished stitcher" as it involves a lot of speciality stitches as well as hardanger.

stitched on unbleached 28 count linen

Purple Algerian Eyes
White Smyrna Stitches
French Knots and Bullion Stitches in the flowers
White Hardanger 

Beaded Blackberries
Maroon Half Rhodes
Rice Stitch with metallic
Queen Stitch Flower Border 

Green French Knots in Trees
Coloured Hardanger  

Close-up of the French Knots: 

There is also a gold acorn charm to attach at the top of the piece.  I liked the sampler but have always felt it looked a little sparse and planned to add some extra motifs or bands.  But let's be honest - after 20 years that is not going to happen! So I will just frame it as it as and get it on display.

If you want to have a go at speciality stitches and feel a little daunted by them, why not try a small?  This Drawn Thread freebie is only 3 x 2 inches but has 14 different stitches within it!

Drawn Thread - All You Need is Love

Or you could go large and have a go at this WIP of mine - Around the World in 80 Stitches by Papillon Creations:

Excuse the poor quality picture, it was a scan off my printer to capture the colours correctly.

There are some beautiful versions in the Gallery on their wesbsite.  One day this will be a finish!

Now it's over to you. All you have to do is make a post on the theme of Speciality Stitches, mention The People's Choice SAL (you can copy the picture I used at the top of this post and in my side bar) and my blog. Please link up using the URL of the actual blog post, not the home page of your blog. I look forward to seeing what you all post.


Finally, I need your suggestions for the next poll.  Any thing, no matter how obscure, weird or random will go into the poll.  Keep the theme suggestions to a single word or two - so you could have Cats, or Blue, or Holidays, or Warmth etc.  Really anything which could be illustrated in cross stitch.

Looking forward to reading them all!

Sunday, 31 March 2019

March Stitch from Stash and Pie

March was a good stitching month, I hit all my targets and reached all my goals.  I am probably going to have to rework my rotation to fit in some of the other projects on my 19 in '19 list.  The original plan was 7 days on my Chatelaine and 14 on the Discworld Mappe.  Leaving 7 - 10 days per month for everything else.  Which would be great if I didn't have to work full days most weeks.  Even one full day per week knocks my stitching days down.  I usually manage to do 30 minutes on a Just Nan small but that's it.  So next month I am going to choose a different project instead of the Chatelaine and see how that works.

Here's the pie for March anyway:

Of course I did spend 3 days stitching the moon on my Enchanted Alphabet.  Maybe the bats will be quicker this month?

My Discworld Mappe was a fabulous success story this month.  14 really good days of stitching saw the project go from here:

to here:

stitched on 32 count Murano custom dyed by Sparklies

I stitched all the words on the crest, all of XXXX next to the crest, moved across to the Counterweight Continent on the left and stitched a lot of the red/white border as well as its backstitch.

The whole blank area in the middle needs to be filled in with 677 next time:

Once I have filled that in and done the backstitch lettering and features I will move the left and start on the next directional arrow.  

Here's the cover photo with the pages noted that I have stitched so far:

I did buy a few bits and pieces this month but none of it actually counts against my Stitch From Stash budget.  Magazine Subscriptions are exempt, as are finishing materials (the charms) and of course Mr. Linky is a blog-purchase not a stitching item.

Cross Stitcher sub £8.72
Mr. Linky £3.91
Charms £14.65
Total £27.28

Finally, I will be hosting my Annual Easter Treasure Hunt on Good Friday the 19th April. If you would like to take part this year, just leave a comment here. The week before Easter I will send you a letter of the alphabet which will form part of the mystery phrase. On Good Friday you will post that letter along with a photo of something seasonal that you have stitched (could be Easter or Spring or just something cheerful and sunny or floral). We all hop around like little bunnies to find the Mystery Phrase!

March WIPocalypse New to Me

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.  

Since 2011 I have chosen a number of projects to focus on that year, starting with my "11 in '11" and increasing to "19 in '19" for this year.  You can find the full list here.

This month I stitched on five of my list:

1. Enchanted Alphabet by Lavender & Lace

stitched on 32 count Murano in Tiger Lily from Sparklies

2. Gardens of London by Chatelaine

stitched on 32 count Belfast in Cotton Clouds by Crafty Kitten

3. Discworld Mappe by Lyndisfarne Designs

stitched on 32 count Murano custom-dyed by Sparklies

4. Summer Typography by Just Nan

stitched on 32 count Pink Linen

6. Nest Egg by Satsuma Street

stitched on 32 count Belfast in Marie's Daffodil by Chromatic Alchemy
nearly finished!

Measi always gives us a topic to discuss too.

March – What newer designers and product creators (fabric or floss dyeing, etc) out there have you discovered and recommend?

Unfortunately, because I've been stitching from stash I haven't really been in a position to discover many new designers or products.  I checked my 19 list and the only two new-to-me designers are Cottage Garden Samplings and Sue Hillis.  Neither of whom are particularly new to anyone else!  Last year my new find was Mrs Peggotty and her Alice in Wonderland designs.  I completed Alice last year and will be starting the Queen of Hearts in April:

I suppose I could include my new hobby of rock painting in here!  I found a painted rock near the bus stop last Summer and joined the Facebook group to let the person know it had been found.  Of course, this started a whole new hobby for me.  One which I am thoroughly enjoying.  Painting rocks is considerably quicker than cross stitch for one thing.  Here is my latest, a little Easter Monster by Chris Ryniak, my new favourite artist:

Finally, I will be hosting my Annual Easter Treasure Hunt on Good Friday the 19th April. If you would like to take part this year, just leave a comment here. The week before Easter I will send you a letter of the alphabet which will form part of the mystery phrase. On Good Friday you will post that letter along with a photo of something seasonal that you have stitched (could be Easter or Spring or just something cheerful and sunny or floral). We all hop around like little bunnies to find the Mystery Phrase!