Saturday 31 March 2012

Theme-a-licious Looking Backward and Forward III

March's theme was March Madness, stitch a different project each day.  Not going to happen.  LOL.

I did manage to stitch several different designer's pieces and not duplicate a single person.  I also had a Moment of Madness mid-month and did a few stitches on My Lovely Sewing Tools.  Then to round the month off I decided to start a few new projects instead of working on my WIPS.

So here's what I stitched on this month:
1. Julie from In the Company of Friends (Dark Alphabet) T and U, part of V
2. Chez Elisa for the Needlecraft Haven Freebie Challenge
3. Debra Page for the WOCS Daffodil Flower of the Month card
4. Sandy from San Man Originals for her Little Quilt Shop
5. Marie Suarez for My Lovely Sewing Tools from GoS online magazine
6. Joan Elliott for the JE RR on the Yuku Board.
7. A secret project I can't show yet.
8. Elissa Hudson - Alphabet Sampler from Cross Stitcher mag 249
9. Spring Sampler based on motifs from Samplemakers Forum
10. Just Nan Dewdrop the Rabbit
11. Country Cottage Needleworks - Cherry Hill
12. Gazette 94 - Spring Heart
The last 5 projects I started in the last 5 days, I thought I'd have a flourish of starting madness to finish the month!!

And here are the pictures:

Dark Alphabet - T

Dark Alphabet - U
Chez Elisa - Needlecraft Haven March Challenge

WOCS Daffodil card

San Man Original Quilt Shop.
Sent to Lany Bleu as her Epiphany Giveaway prize.

Inside of Lany's card.

My Lovely Sewing Tools - Gift of Stitching

Joan Elliott Round Robin for Jacqui.
I've actually done loads more than this but don't want to show her until I've finished now! 
This is all the black I worked on during IHSW.

Mystery Project!  This is the back of one part.  If you guess what it is then I'm calling you a geek. LOL.
Elissa Hudson for Cross Stitcher mag.
stitched on 32 count white evenweave.  4 letters down, 22 to go!

Samplermakers Forum Spring Challenge.
stitched on Slighly Lilac from Sparklies
Bunny Bum!
A Thank You gift from Jan of the Thread Garden
Country Cottage Needlework - Cherry Hill.
Giveaway prize from Crafty Rahenna.
stitched on 40 count over 2.
Gazette 94 - Spring Heart
stitched on 36 count over 2.
Really bad scanned picture!

Looking forward, April is:

Amazon April
Dip your needle into the vast swath of fabric dedicated to your BIGGEST projects!

I guess I'll be going back to Green Goddess for this one!  I have a JE RR to finish off but that's not an Amazon piece.  The ABC isn't really Amazon either.  My Lovely Sewing Tools?  Could be, it's a 6 parter so that's quite big.
I have just catalogued my fabrics as I was losing sight of how much I had in which counts and colours.  I need more rustic fabrics!  I also need some gold cloth to stitch the Toilet God again for our bathroom.  Something opulent shot through with gold threads.

Finally, a quick reminder you have until Maundy Thursday to sign up to be a Picture Poster for my Easter Treasure Hunt.  We have enough people already to make a short phrase for the hunt.  Incidentally, do you know the origin of "Maundy"?

This is a quote from Wiki:
Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you")
Others theorize that the English name "Maundy Thursday" arose from "maundsor baskets" or "maundy purses" of alms which the king of England distributed to certain poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day. Thus, "maund" is connected to the Latin mendicare, and French mendier, to beg.

So there you go, now you know!

Sunday 25 March 2012

Sign up here for my Blogaversary Easter Treasure Hunt!

I’ve been planning an interactive activity for Easter since we had so much fun with the Secret Stitching Sweethearts for Valentine’s Day.  Then I realised that my 1st Blogaversary is actually on Easter Sunday so I thought we’d have a little competition too.

The first category is for Picture Posters - bloggers who would like to post an Easter or Spring themed stitched picture on their blog on Easter Sunday.  Simply sign up now by leaving a comment on this post.  Make sure I can find your email and blog via your comment (eg you’re not a “no-reply”).  The closing date for signing up is Noon BST Maundy Thursday 5th April.

When I know how many people we have I will send you each an email confirming that you are taking part and assigning you a letter of the alphabet.  This is very important as the letters will spell out a word or phrase for the Treasure Hunters to find.  On Easter Sunday post your letter with your Easter / Spring picture on your blog with a link to my blog so people know what it’s all about.

The second category is for Treasure Hunters.  They can be bloggers or just followers, if you’re a Picture Poster then you can be a Treasure Hunter too, you have a tiny advantage in that you know one letter!

Treasure Hunters must come to my blog on (or just after) Easter Sunday where there will be a list of all the Picture Posters in order.  Visit each blog noting down the letter displayed there (leave a comment too, it’s a nice thing to do).  The letters will spell out a word or phrase.  Come back to my blog and leave me a comment stating what the word or phrase is.  If you visit the blogs out of order then you’ll have an anagram to solve, but why make it hard on yourself?!

Blog Owner approval will be enabled from Easter Sunday until the end of the competition (I’ll give you all a week to get your entries in) so you can’t copy the girl in front.  LOL.  Sneaky, aren’t I?

There will be a prize for each category, something stitched by me with an Easter/Spring theme depending on what tempts me.  Anyone who wishes me a Happy Blogaversary gets a bonus entry in their category.  Because thoughtfulness deserves a reward.  Anyone who sends cake through the post gets two extra goes.  Because cake deserves a reward too.  That last one is a joke, not sure how well cake travels around the world!

So off you go, think of what’s in your collection you could post and sign up here for the fun.

Finally, the Eggs are just a couple of the mega eggs my hubby has given me for Easter in the past.  We had a members card for a wholesaler’s warehouse and those eggs were intended as raffle prizes for pubs and clubs to buy.  Hubby obviously decided I needed feeding up!

Thursday 22 March 2012

March TUSAL and a couple of Public Service Announcements

Here is Madame Muriel posing for the last time with the TUSAL and her travelling bags.  Also in the picture is my page-every-other-day calendar, a postcard from Arizona and my progress on the Joan Elliott RR.

Jacqui's theme is "Your Favourite Joan Elliott Design".  Well, I like them all but as I haven't stitched a geisha before I chose one of those designs.  Most of IHSW was taken up with the black!  As my daytime project is also mainly black it was a rather dark IHSW.  You can see the mass of black ORTS in the jar.

The PSA part of the post is two rather sad pieces of news and two nice ones.

Sad Thing One - Gift of Stitching is closing.  This is an online mag I've been subscribing to since last year.  It went bi-monthly in December but now the editor has decided to close it partly due to the global recession and partly due to piracy.  Too many of the charts are being shared and appearing online.  We have a choice of either a refund or back issues.  I've decided to go for the back issues as I don't have many and I'd rather not take any money out of the GoS account.  I'm just waiting to see how many I can have!

Sad Thing Two - Quilt Theft.  If you live near Texas then keep an eye out for Karen's distinctive quilts.  I saw this posted on the San Man board and although I've not heard of Karen Combs before (not being a quilter myself) I wanted to help put the word out.  Hopefully she'll get the quilts back.

Happy Thing One - Sampler Makers Spring Sampler.  Jennie Lynn has designed a few spring themed motifs for us to put together in a Spring Sampler.  I spent a happy afternoon with pencil and graph paper drawing out a design.  Now all I need is the fabric, some tea and the colours.

Happy Thing Two - my Blogaversary, which is on 8th April 2012 which just so happens to be Easter Sunday!  So the Easter Treasure Hunt I have planned will now be an Easter Treasure Hunt Competition for my Blogaversary.
There will be two prizes, one for the people who post pictures for the hunt and one for people who just play the game.  Anyone who remembers it's my Blogaversary without prompting will get another entry in their draw!  I'll be asking for people to sign up in my next post this weekend as it's time for bed now!

Sunday 18 March 2012

I'm leaving on a jet plane,

Royal Mail Home
My preferred airline

Madame Muriel here, reporting on my difficult decision regarding my next hostess.  I really was spoilt for choice, from Cornwall (relatively close to my current home) or back to the antipodes via Europe, America and Canada.

I've been offered music, sun, sunsets, cacti, candy, tea, scones and cocktails as well as stitching and the company of other like-minded people at stitching groups.  There even appears to be a job offer from Julie and Becky!

I was tempted by the class on sym-stitching, an unknown quantity for me but in the end I decided to emulate one of my hostess' favourite bloggers and let the Compote of Decree decide.

Here is a map indicating the area I will be travelling to:

So that narrows it down to two potential hostesses.  Here is another clue:

The final clue, a picture of my new hostess:

Who could resist an invitation from this lovely lady?  Her name is Zoe and she lodges with a charming couple called Gracie and Mr. H.  More details on Zoe's life and her pet's stitching can be found here at Needles Pins and Dragonflies.

I am very excited to be heading back to the US of A.  I thoroughly enjoyed my last visit with a canine host (read all about it on Stewey's blog here) and I can only hope that Zoe's pet is slightly more on the sane side of lunacy than Stewey's poor dear Spinster.  There is a Mr. H. so I feel all will be well in Arizona.

My hostess is currently running around sorting out my travelling accomodation muttering "English things, I must send English things".  So Zoe, if you would like some black pudding now is the chance to speak up and request it.

Finally, my hostess stitched a lovely card for a good friend of mine - Maggie.  Maggie is Anna the Stitch Bitch's grandmother of Maggie Monday fame.  This year Maggie is 90 years young.  She is actually Anna's real Grandmom not a substitute.  (in-jokes for regular Stitch Bitch followers).  Her devoted granddaughter was attempting to give Maggie 90 cards for her 90th Birthday.  She failed.    She gave her 106!  Including one from the President and Mrs O themselves.

My hostess stitched the backstitch first, then coloured the numbers in with one of her ubiquitous felt-tipped pen, a green this time.  Then she stitched the pink, blue and green flowers and leaves.  A very pleasant effect.  She did not have marguerita glasses so used with twin wine glasses stickers to decorate the cards.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Theme-a-licious March Update

March's theme is March Madness, I plan to stitch as many different designers as fit in my schedule (how's that for a fudge?!)

So far we have:
Julie from In the Company of Friends (Dark Alphabet)
Chez Elisa for the Needlecraft Haven Freebie Challenge
Debra Page for the WOCS Daffodil Flower of the Month card
Sandy from San Man Originals for her Little Quilt Shop
Marie Suarez for My Lovely Sewing Tools from GoS online magazine
Joan Elliott for the JE RR on the Yuku Board.

I received the RR piece but rather than start on it immediately I felt the urge to put in a couple of evenings on My Lovely Sewing Tools.  That's my definition of Madness - Throw Crazy to the Wind!  Here are my Before and After shots to show the progress after three evenings:

The top pic is a photo, the bottom is scanned into the computer.  The fabric is a 40 count antique white Newcastle linen so the scanned pic is closer in colour although a little bleached.

This is my part of Jacqui's Joan Elliott RR.  Her theme is "Your Favourite Joan Elliott design".  It's an impossible choice so I chose a genre I won't be stitched on any of the other RRs.  Here is one evening's progress: 

Again the scanner has bleached the fabric colour.

Can you guess what the design is?  I'm trying Anchor 403 instead of DMC 310.  It is marginally thicker on 28 count.  I was also recommended Vicky Clayton's HDF black.  Does anyone know of a UK stockist?

I'm also using black on another project and I'm trying 3 strands of 310 which is working well.
Finally, a non-stitchy item - my boys have normal names as I've said before but I do call them cute nicknames and use terms of endearment.  A lady came to the door today, while we were chatting The Small Boy was behind the stair gate and wanted me.  I said "Hang on a moment sweet pea, Mummy will be with you".  Lady-on-doorstep: "Sweetpea, that's a pretty name".

Now, (A) he's a BOY (OK he has a mop of hair but he's very boyish under it) and (B) what kind of person calls a child of either gender "Sweetpea"?  I'm not Olive Oyl and hubby isn't Popeye.  LOL.

Monday 12 March 2012

"U" is for "U-Bend"?

As you are all aware I'm an avid stitcher of A Dark Alphabet designed by Julie of In the Company of Friends.  The Large Boy and I have been happily guessing each letter as it comes out (every 2 weeks or so) but we would never, ever have guessed "U" not in a month of Sundays.  We thought "Undead" was the most likely choice.

But No.  Julie excelled herself and frustrated Becky who has to do the research and write the blog post by coming up with:


Urma who loo?  Yes, Urmahlullu, the well known Mesopotamian Protector of the Toilet.  Half Lion, Half Centaur, and the colour of an Andrex Puppy.  (Do you have Andrex puppies in the States and Europe?  Go Google if not.)

Now, the Large Boy is getting a classic education - Greek Gods, Roman Gods, Viking Gods, Christian God and other comparative religions.  But Gods of Ancient Mesopotamia do not seem to be on the National Curriculum for Key Stage 2 in England.  Shame really, because it's rather interesting.  See the Note of Friendship blog for more pics and information.

And here he is in all his glory:

Talking of Dark Things, I know many of you are interested in the old Witch Trials and the poor women who were punished for being a little different to the rest of society.  You may find this website rather interesting.  It's written by a local historian I've known for many years and is absolutely fascinating.  It's all about two witches who were hanged in my town in the 17th century.  The pamphlet written was used to set a precedence in the Salem Witch Trials.  For me, the great thing about the site is that they've traced the accusers and witnesses, found where they lived and have posted pictures of the houses as they are today (or when they last existed).  One of the houses is currently the wool shop where I buy my DMC and ribbons!

The website is very wordy and I found it quite hard to read when the window was fully opened.  By moving the margin of the window so it is about 4 inches wide it becomes much easier!  I will mention this to Ivan when I see him next.  I'm sure he'd love some feedback so if you have any comments then please let me know and I'll pass them on.

Finally, Madame Muriel is currently pouring over her atlas trying to decide where to visit next.  You have until Thursday to put in your bids for her company.  Leave a comment on her last post here.

Thursday 8 March 2012

March WIPocalypse

Here's the round-up for the progress since the last Full Moon.

Part 1 - My 12 in '12

1. No progress on Green Goddess

2. Completed "T" on the Dark Alphabet, I added an extra "bump" to this block, there was a gap and it felt right to me.  Currently stitching on "U" which is a doozy!

My scanner is making things a little blurry in places.  The Things are, of course, Ghosties and Ghoulies and Long Legged Beasties which go Bump in the Night.

3. No progress on My Lovely Sewing Tools, unless you count printing off the charts!

8. and 9. Two Baby Samplers.  Designs now chosen thanks to Cross Stitcher Magazine.  There was a lovely Alphabet Sampler in one issue and a picture of the "Guess How Much I Love You" hares in the next.  Sorted.  What do you mean - I've got to stitch them?

Part 2 - Just Nan-a-thon

Finished and Framed Spring Peepers
Finished and mailed the Round Robin
Framed A Breath of Spring and hung on the wall (finally!)

This is the companion to Winter Romance and is stitched on the same fabric.  I plan to have the relevant season on display throughout the year.  This looks a little lumpy and bumpy but it looks better in real life.

Part 3 - Theme-a-licious: Fan-Girl February and March Madness

I stitched my Just Nans and my Joan Elliott Round Robin for February.

For March Madness I plan to stitch as many different designers as fit in my schedule (how's that for a fudge?!)

So far we have:
Julie from In the Company of Friends (Dark Alphabet)
Chez Elisa for the Needlecraft Haven Freebie Challenge
Debra Page for the WOCS Daffodil Flower of the Month card (see below)
Sandy from San Man Originals for her Little Quilt Shop

So that's four in 8 days - not bad for me!

This is another of the backstitch and colour in techniques.  I actually coloured all of this one in rather than just high lights like the other two.  I felt it needed it because the yellow was paler.

Now a little moan.  I showed a friend my Dark Alphabet this afternoon.  And she kept touching the stitching!!!  In the end I had to say something "You can tell you're a crafter not a stitcher"  "Why's that?"  "Because you keep touching the stitching.  Cross stitchers don't do that".

I did at least get an apology!  Apparently it's because the speciality stitches make it more 3D and you need touch them to appreciate them, it's a compliment to my stitching.  NO YOU DON'T AND NO IT ISN'T.  lol (but only a little bit, this is serious).

and she didn't even look at the back once.  Definitely not a stitcher!!

Finally, if you'd like Madame Muriel to come and spend some time with you then please leave a comment on her post here.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Mature Cross Stitching Lady, young-at-heart seeks Similar for Friendship, Fun and Stitching...

...GOSH and OHAC (Gift of Stitching Home and Own Hoop and Charts).

Yes, people of the cross stitch community it is I, Madame Muriel Arlene Myrtle Ethel Adeline "Flat Flossie" St. Clair aka The Travelling Granny.  I am seeking a new hostess for the Spring Season.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the family of the Serendipitous Stitcher.  I have been immersed in family life although thankfully not in the family bath!

I have met many delightful children, become a militant Library Supporter and taken part in a Day Of Support, visited the Most Easterly every-darn-thing you can imagine, spent Christmas in the company of a number of portly Gentlemen of diminishing height and seen more finishes than you can shake a needle at.

I have been in blog photos, supervised blog giveaways, inspired blog posts and even written a few myself.  There has been 'tea and cakes', 'tea and biscuits', 'tea and teacakes' and even 'tea and fabric'.

But all good things must come to an end and my feet are twitching and itching to be on the move again.  But where should I go?  The world is my lobster oyster; according to the stats for this very blog there are people from all the continents reading about my activities.  (Technically not true, there are no blog-readers in Antarctica but who wants to go there anyway?).

If you would like to be my next hostess then please make a comment to this post explaining the delights which will await me chez vous.   I am an easy woman to please, I require a warm place to sit and stitch, pleasant company and the daily tea-based sustenance.  Personal butler optional but I do prefer my own waiting maid.  My time in England has accustomed me to the finer things in life.

As ever, if you do not understand a word of this post - please click here for a short history lesson on the Life of Madame Muriel.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Stitching Finishes

Here are a few of my recent finishes that I haven't shown yet.

My 10th finish for the year was the Needlecraft Haven February Challenge.  Every month Christine discovers a freebie chart and we all stitch it and finish it however we like.  We can't show anyone until the end of the month.  February's came from  Lynn B of Happiness is Cross Stitching.  We could choose either of the two freebies and I chose the cat.  Then I decided the "LOVE" would look good stitched over 1 underneath the cat.  I changed the "O" heart slightly, it was originally a dangler!  I do have an issue with DMC 310, it doesn't cover well on 28 count.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a good black?  Not an expensive one please!  310 is great for backstitch and I really don't want to have to go for three strands everytime.

My 12th finish was another freebie, this time by Barbara Ana from Cyberstitches.

Here they both are together:

I've got another Valentine design by San Man Originals I want to add on the same fabric but now February is past I don't have the same incentive to stitch it!  It'll be done by next year, I promise.  The fabric is the fruit-tea dyed 28count I used for Mouse's Birthday card.  By careful cutting I have a small square and a long thin piece left.  I am so mean with my fabric and threads!

My 11th finish was a prize in my Epiphany Giveaway which went to Terri of Rosy Stitches.  The design is all my own, this is the second time I've stitched it for somone else, it makes a lovely giveaway.  You must visit Terri's blog to see her lovely beaded rose in her header pic and also her stitching chair which matches this pillow, how serendipitous!

Terri asked which thread I used, it's DMC 4030 one of the newer variegateds.  When I stitched Bluebeard's Mermaid last year my LNS subbed the Carons for DMC threads and this was one of the them.  It's a lovely colour and changed shades nicely as you stitch. 
The backing fabric is one of the upholstery samples I acquired last year, it's very expensive stuff, some of it is over £75 a metre!  How lucky I am to have a load of 12inch squares to play with!   Apparently the sample books themselves cost £70 for the shops so I am doubly surprised they gave so many away to us.

There are two more finishes which I can't show yet until recipients have received them so watch this space.

Finally, I let the Large Boy choose this month's "Falling Things" hence the randomness of them.  Here's the link if you too want random things falling on your blog:

(Large Boy not included, provide your own)