Thursday 31 May 2012

Theme-a-licious Looking Backward and Forward V

May was May Memories.  I decided to go for Making Memories with The Dark Alphabet designed in memory of Lisa Roswell and also my Joan Elliott Round Robin piece which is about making memories with new friends as we all stitch on each piece.

Has everyone seen enough of the Dark Alphabet yet?  If so, then look away now....

And the Round Robin again:

June is

Jumanji June
Is it a jungle out there in your stash? Give some love to the projects with animals or birds.

Due to the Small Boy's late night habit my evening stitching has been pared to the bone and now consists of two Round Robins and Papillon Around the World in 80 Stitches.  I really don't want to fall behind after only two parts!  None of these have animals or birds.

The Spring Challenge for Samplermakes does have animals and birds so that will fit the theme nicely, it's my daytime stitch.  Here it is as of today:

The idea is, we were all given a selection of Spring motifs to arrange and stitch as we chose.  I've flipped the tree to have one of the other side too, there will be a bird, a peacock, a rabbit and a butterfly added.  The fabric is Slightly Lilac by Sparklies, 28count stitched over 2.

Finally, my Giveaway is now closed.  The names will be put into a hat and the totally random boy will chose three winners!

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Various Bits and Pieces

I keep making mental notes of things I see around t'internet and thinking "I must tell people about that", so here are a few of them.

Now, I'm annoyed because I kept this post in my reader especially to share and it's gone!  It was someone who'd visited a house which had rooms decorated with the most amazing button collection.  If that was you or you remember whose blog it was PLEASE tell me!

Edit to add:  It was Ellen's blog post here.  Ellen herself recognised it as did two other kind people.  Good job some people have better memories than me!!

The second thing is a new blogger in town, Yana Hanim.  She left a comment on my blog so off I hopped to return the following (as I do with all my new followers, probably why my Reader is choc-a-block full!).  This is how she describes herself:

"An Indonesian wife to a Turkish husband, a full time mum of two children. Graduated in water quality management from an agricultural university in Indonesia, worked in a national park in westernmost tip of Java island, studied park tourism management in New Zealand. After our glorious student life in Lincoln (Selwyn District) and Hornby (Christchurch) ended, we lived in Konya (Turkey), Aleppo (Syrian Arab Republic), and now Amman (The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan). I need to work on my Turkish (kolay gelsin!) and start to learn Arabic (Insha Allah)."

If that doesn't make you want to read more then I don't know what will!  How about this quote "I almost couldn't get this clock because bombs exploded in Aleppo just a day before I was going to collect it."

I hope that Yana doesn't mind me quoting from her blog but I think she sounds fascinating and deserves to have lots of lovely followers.  I'm really looking forward to reading more and seeing more of her stitching.

Talking of stitching, here's a new little finish:

This comes from Vavi's blog - Voyage sur Toile.  It was released as a 4 part SAL.  I stitched it on 40count linen over 2.  The original design was a long thin one but I changed it into a rectangle by stitching parts 3 and 4 underneath parts 1 and 2 instead of alongside.  On reflection I think it would have looked better as a long thin design.  Which is why Vavi is a successful designer and I'm not!  But I still like it and have scrapbooked it for my collection.

I do like the way I mounted this one.  I stuck the fabric onto a piece of plain white paper then I removed one thread all the way round 20 threads in on each side.  Then I stuck the paper to the pink mount.  You can see the pink through the edges of the fabric but not the middle so the stitching stands out.  Simple but effective.

Here's a new Facebook page and a SAL:

Banu Demirel is a Turkish designer, this is her original website which apparently has had problems in Turkey so she will be releasing her SALs via Facebook.  Just what I need - another SAL!

Finally, don't forget my giveaway of your choice of one of Yiota's Cross Stitch Kits.  Draw will take place after 31st May.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Joan Elliott Round Robin and a row of cats (minus the frog)

I finished my block just in time, mailing day is Tuesday!  Karen's theme is Fairies.  I had thought of Winter Fairy or Poppy Fairy but when I saw the two designs already stitched I knew I had to choose one with more wing showing.  So I went for Butterfly Fairy from the cover of the latest Joan Elliott book Fairy Enchantment (available from Waterstones for only £9.99).

Here is my block:

And some close-ups:

And the whole piece:

I used the recommended DMC and Kreinik from the book but subbed the Kreinik french knots for beads.  C'mon - Kreinik AND french knots, who is Joan kidding?!!

The difficulty was remembering which squares to leave empty for a bead as the charted knots went inbetween stitches but I wanted beads to replace stitches.

This is such a great Round Robin so far.  My design is slowly growing, Daffodil was added this turn.  Of course I only get to see photos until the end of the year.  I've signed up for a Giant Mira RR for next year, blocks will be 5,000 stitches rather than the usual 2,500 but we'll get 12 weeks to stitch rather than the usual 6.  I'm going for the Calendar or Birth Month Fairies for my choice.

I can now show your Rachael's Birthday Card.  I stitched this as part of the Needlecraft Haven Birthday Exchange but as Diane shares Rachael's Birthday I stitched her the WOCS Flower of the Month and chose Rachael's favourite cats for her card.

The original design came from this French blog, Novalee Point de Croix.  She has lots of freebies, several featuring cats.

This card was stitched over 1 on 25 count using DMC 69.  The moon is my own addition to cover up the frog's mess!  When you frog red thread from white fabric you can see the red left behind!  So there is a nice little moon now.

Finally, a Big Thank You to everyone who commented on The Danse Macabre post about my completed Dark Alphabet.   After posting Wednesday evening I was up half the night with a Small Boy who decided 3am to 6am was Play Time.  So when I got the the computer Thursday afternoon I was feeling rather tired to say the least!  Reading all your comments really buoyed me up again.  It's so great that you all shared my excitement at finishing this project and getting the lovely gifts.  I'm also pleased that people appreciated the individual pictures as they took ages to load on!

Thursday 24 May 2012

The Danse Macabre

Well, what else would you call a Happy Dance for A Dark Alphabet?

Dance of Death, also variously called Danse Macabre (French), Danza de la Muerte (Spanish), Dansa de la Mort (Catalan), Danza Macabra (Italian), Dança da Morte (Portuguese), Totentanz (German), Dodendans (Dutch) according to Wiki here.

Yes, I have officially finished the entire piece, and here it is in all it's glory:

The title block uses the A and D from Julie's design, the lower case letters are my own design.  Cute little witch comes from one of the blocks.  Can you spot her elsewhere?  Where's Winnie?!

The signature block feature W from Julie, Capitals by me based on W and lower case by Brenda Keyes as are the Roman Numerals for the dates.  Annis Domini is the plural of AD and means "in the years of our Lord".  I love the word "wrought" as it's often used on antique samplers so it fits this design perfectly.

While I was stitching I was thinking about each letter and I wrote a little poem as I went.  I say poem but it's more rhyming couplets of doggerel.  Just for fun, here it is along with each block:

A is for Apple and temptation from snakes
B is for Brimstone and the fiery pits that it makes

C is for Coven and witches three
D is for Devil, a Dutch spinning monkey

E is for Eek, disturbing the peace
F is for Furies, three women from Greece

G is for Gargoyle made out of stone
H is for Headless Horseman on a bay or a roan

I is for Inky Darkness on a black night
J is for Jack-in-a-box who gives you a fright

K is for Kelpie the Scots’ water-horse
L is for Lightning Bird and its storms, of course

M is for Mummy with a bandaged head
N is for Necromancy and raising the dead

O is for Occult and fortune telling
P is for Phantom singing in his underground dwelling

Q is for Queen of the Night and her Dark Power
R is for Raven who lives in the Tower

S is for Skeleton made out of bones
T is for Things that go bump and their ghostly moans

U is for Urmahlullu the Protector of the loo
V is for Voodoo, a doll which looks just like you

W is for Wyvern, like a dragon with only two feet
X is for Xaphan and demonic bellows fanning the heat

Y is for Yggdrasil the legendary Norse tree
Z is for Zombee, yes – an undead Bee!

This is the whole of the Dark Alphabet
In memory for Lisa who we’ll never forget.

For my new followers and those of you who've been living in a cave all year, the Dark Alphabet was designed by Julie from A Note of Friendship in memory of Lisa Roswell, the designer who sadly passed away last year.  Here's where it all started last March.

A letter was released as a free design every couple of weeks on Julie and Becky's blog.  Julie designed the blocks and Becky did the research.  I stitched every block and sent them photos for their blog and generally cheered them on!  The Large Boy and I played "Guess the Letter" each time and even suggested a couple.

And this is what I received in the post today:

Yes, it's a coffin!

 And inside was not a dead body, but a selection of goodies!  A headstone thread winder, a skeleton pin keep with a dinky pillow and pins, a great witch's cat (this will become a fridge magnet) and the most gorgeous little scissors with a spider web dangle.
Close up of the cute scissors.  We just don't have cute scissors like this here.
The cross stitch mags never even mention scissors beyond the basic stork shape.  I wonder why?

Julie sent me these lovely things as my prize for completing the alphabet before she did!  A while back I did challenge anyone to try finish before me but sadly no-one did!  Hahaha.  The Large Boy has commandeered the coffin but the rest is mine to keep and love.   The customs form made me smile - it said "Hallowe'en ornaments", I wonder why it didn't say "miniature coffin and contents"? LOL.

What a great adventure the last year has been stitching this design.  I've learned so much too, Becky's blog posts are always full of information and links to more information.  On both the subject matter and the stitching.  Several blocks contained stitches beginning with the same letter.  Bargello being an obvious one.

I stitched the design 1 thread over 1 on 28 count evenweave, tea-dyed by me.  Using mainly the recommended DMC.  In some places I used variegated DMC and in some places I stitched the bottom /// in one colour and the top \\\ in another.  This is a great alternative to tweeding when stitching using one thread.

Phew!  What a long picture-filled post, hope you enjoyed it!  I suppose the Finally should be "don't forget to enter my giveaway".  I'm so pleased I offered a free choice of charts, everyone is picking such diverse designs I could never have chosen just three to suit everyone.  Good Luck to you all. 

Sunday 20 May 2012


Just a quick post to get my TUSAL in on time!

Here it is posed with my Three-Pages-a-Week calendar and my new book.  Curated by Carol Ann Duffy, it is 60 new poems by 60 different poets each one taking a year from our Queen's reign as their theme.

And here is the latest card in the WOCS Flower of the Month series, sent to Diane as part of the Needlecraft Haven Birthday Exchange.

I've gone for the Assisi effect again this month.  It works well for the white flowers.

It's also Rachael's Birthday today.  She's in the Needlecraft Haven exchange too but I stitched her a different design which was attacked by a frog!  So I can't show that just yet until Rachael has received it.

Finally, don't forget my Yiota Cross Stitch Kits Giveaway, details on the previous post to this one.  I'm really enjoying looking up all your favourite designs.

Saturday 19 May 2012

It's Giveaway Time!!

Thanks to my newest follower Chiara I have now reached 250 followers and can host a sponsored giveaway!  BTW Chiara blogs as The Grey Tail and is hosting a giveaway of her own at the moment.  Why not pop across to her blog and join in?  She's a newbie to blogging so I'm sure she'd be happy to meet some new followers!

Back to MY Giveaway - A while back I was sent a free cross stitch kit by Yiota to review.  I chose the Coffee Fairy and here's my progress so far:

And here's what she will look a little like, one day:

Coffee fairy

Well, Yiota must have liked my review because she offered to sponsor a giveaway on my blog.  As I was so close to the magic 250 I decided that would be a great excuse.

All you have to do is visit Yiota's website, browse around the gorgeous designs and choose your favourite three.  Come back here and leave a comment on this post only, telling me what your three favourites are.  I will choose three people at random to receive one of their choices.  Actually, the Large Boy will randomly choose three people!

The closing date is teatime BST 31st May 2012.  There are three prizes of one pdf chart each.  The chart has to be one of Yiota's designs as they are the only ones she can make into pdfs.  The descriptions on the designs clearly state which ones are available as pdfs, so that makes it easier!

You get one entry for leaving a comment with your top three and an additional entry if you mention the giveaway and Yiota on your blog.  To qualify for the additional entry you must link the words "cross stitch kits" to Yiota's website.  The geeky reason for this is that it moves her website up the Search Engines' priority lists.  So if someone googles "cross stitch kits" Yiota's website will be closer to the top of the page the more links there are across the internet to her site with those words.

Finally, a Big Thank You to all my followers, old and new, especially those that comment.  It's so good to connect with stitchers around the world.  Next post I'll be putting up details of how to join in with the Summer Postcard Trail.  It's all go around here!

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Theme-a-licious May Update

May's Theme is Memory May, the idea being to stitch something which holds memories for you.  I don't really have anything in my stitching schedule which fits that so I've decided to go for Making Memories.

I have to stitch the Joan Elliott Round Robin because there is a mailing deadline so what little evening stitching time has been dedicated to that one.  Why do I have so little evening stitching time?  Because the Small Boy has randomly decided that his nice bedtime routine of bath, story, song and snuggle down to sleep is no longer good enough for him.  He prefers bath, run around like a loon, lose control of his higher functions, run around and fall over alot, snuggle up to one of us and fall asleep between 10 and 11pm.  So very little stitching time in the evening for me. :-(

The theme for this one is Fairies and I've chosen the Butterfly Fairy from the cover of Joan's latest book - Fairy Enchantment.  This is a lovely book but the charts are quite different to her others.  The symbols are not the usual ones and are harder to follow.  They are unnecessarily complicated mini-drawings (a yin-yang, a fan with a line under it etc).  Also the backstitch lines are quite thick which obscures the symbol underneath.

I received an email from Christine today to say that her prize finally arrived!  A mere 6 days to cross the country.  I've had stuff reach America quicker than that!  Here's what I made her for being the Most Commenty Commenter earlier this year:

This is a freebie chart available from Dorkstitch.  Inside the box are two packets of cookies.  Not just any cookies but M&S cookies!  I hope Christine gets to eat at least some of the cookies before her children devour them all.

The design was stitched on 28count evenweave with a nice silver sparkle in it.  I used three strands of black DMC for Darth himself and two strands for everything else.  I think 3 strands on 28 is the only way to get the coverage.  I also used metallic red round the light sabre.  I stuck the fabric to the lid of the box (using double-sided tape) then edged it with some black ribbon.

Finally, only two more followers needed for my 250 Giveaway sponsored by Yiota.  If you want a chance to win one of her cross stitch kits then drag your friends along to my blog!