Monday 30 June 2014

Theme-a-licious June Update

Theme-a-licious is hosted by Heather of It's Geek to Me

Each month Heather thinks up a theme for us to stitch to, or in my case, a theme to somehow shoe-horn my existing stitching into, no matter how tenuous the link!

June Jolt
School's out for the summer! Let's work on things with sunshine in them or REALLY bright colours. Summer is here!

As soon as I saw that first sentence I thought Alice Cooper!  Actually my first thought was "no it's not, in England we don't break up until the third week in July" but then I thought Alice Cooper!  I found a great monochrome design of his face but it was for beading and didn't translate directly to stitching.  I'd have to rechart it to get the dimensions right, he came out very long and thin so I abandoned that idea.  I did consider buying this one from PixelPower but I'd left it rather late in the month.

So what did I stitch this month that could possibly fit into the theme?

These lovely Summery Joan Elliot butterflies:


These were stitched as the centre part of the new JE Faces SAL on FB

Fabric is Snapdragon by Crafty Kitten

The rest of my stitching consisted of an Autumn Fairy, some Hallowe'en Countdown pieces, three different Winter projects and the Bride of Frankenstein's Monster.
(Two Winter projects do feature B5200 which is Bright White...)

Today, however, I did start a piece that will come in for the end of term in July but I've started it in June so it totally counts.  Each year I have stitched an end of year sampler for the Large Boy's teacher.  I always try to get something suitable for the person, something they like or a topic they have covered that year.  This year was tricky, she is new to the school and is a brilliant teacher.  We've got on really well and have chatted about books alot.   She recognised the influence of Terry Pratchett in the last piece of written work the Large Boy did so I decided on a Fantasy Book theme for her:

What I was looking for was a small dragon on a pile of books but googling around didn't come up with anything.  Then I found a dragon reading a book on DeviantArt.  The dragon looked familiar, and lo and behold the stitcher revealed it was a Teresa Wentzler freebie, amended to be holding a book instead of an orb.  Futurecast was designed for stitchers to choose their own colour scheme and Teresa has given great instructions on how to do so.  She also has a Gallery of finished designs so you can use their schemes if you want.  The school colours are green and yellow, there was a lovely dragon there in those exact colours so that is the one I went with.  I won't be stitching the border because I want to add the teacher's name and the school's name and year.

Finally the Summer Postcard Blog Hop (which fits in nicely with the Theme) is now underway.  The second postcard went to Jocondine and her eponymous blog.  Follow the link to see her card, message and who sent it to her.  There is still time to join in with the Blog Hop, just click on the garden picture on the right hand side bar to find out more details.

Sunday 29 June 2014

June Just Nan SAL

Just Nan SAL
Just Nan SAL is hosted by Zeb of Keep Calm and Cross Stitch

Once again I have been stitching on Winter Typography.  I toyed with the idea of stitching a small instead but really want to finish this one this year!  It is taking so much longer than the Autumn one did.  No idea why.

Here is how it looked last month:

And here is the latest picture:

I stitched quite alot more white, two WINTERS and filled in some of the pale blue stitches in the white snowflakes.  They look really nice in real life.  There is a rabbit, a bird, a snowman, some more WINTERS and alot more border to do before I start on the beads.

The second postcard in the Summer Blog Hop went out today.  So watch out for that appearing in your Readers and Dashboards soon.  Once the recipient posts it to her blog I will put the link up.  Don't forget there is still plenty of time to join in.

Finally, Chiara the Grey Tail hosted her second Enigma challenge recently.  She has been posting a series of clues to a piece she is stitching.  Very enigmatic clues which have foxed everyone except Heather who had the inspired correct guess after just one clue.  Anyway Chiara reveals the answer today.  If you haven't been following the Enigma you should start with this post and work forward to see how long it take you to work it out!

Friday 27 June 2014

TUSAL of Feasts

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.

This year I am intending to stitch The Little Stitcher's Twelve Days of Christmas as a monthly project.  Laura has designed twelve charts with a different theme for each one to represent the days of Christmas.  She has invented the different themes herself using her lovely imagination!

This week I have stitched The Day of Feasts.  Here it is as part of my TUSAL photo:

Can you see the big blob of white from the Noel Blanc frogs?

Day of Feasts.

Now I would usually post something on the Theme of the Day but I'm not a great cook or a fan of recipes and so on.  I thought instead we would have a Feast for your Eyes, much more suitable for a stitching blog.

A Feast of Stitching Prizes

I mailed three giveaway prizes this month, two for the Easter Treasure Hunt Blog Hop and one for my 5000th commenter.  I had two designs I wanted to stitch for Easter, both of which I received from fellow bloggers.  The first to be finished was Twisted Threads Itty Bitty Easter Bunny.  I stitched this over 1 on 25 count yellow fabric and made it into a little bag into which I popped a chocolate bunny and a skein of the Jodyri thread I used in the design.  This went to Michelle of Michelle's StitchCraft Place

The second design was Sheepish Designs Easter Wabbit which I stitched on 18count pink evenweave and made into another bag with another chocolate bunny and another skein of Jodyri thread, again the one I used in the design.  In each parcel I sent the actual chart that I stitched for the other person.  This one went to Jan of Thread Garden:

Back in February Gwen of Guava Gems left the 5000th comment on my blog.  I wanted to send something suitable so I read through her blog and saw she was taking part in the Snooty Parrots SAL.  I had this little parrot bookmark in my stash, a cover kit from Cross Stitcher magazine.  I used their colours but changed the parrots around a little to make them more colourful.  In the parcel I included a piece of this fabric, I couldn't find any with parrots on but this is very colourful.  I also included a skein of Jodyri's Over The Rainbow thread which includes the same colours as the parrots and a Lucie Heaton booklet of Summer Stitching.

Close up of the bookmark, I used the leftover threads to make the tassel:

And my karmic reward for sending out three giveaways?  One in return!  I've been following Annette the California Stitcher for a while and through her blog I found Lee from Notes from Under the Mountain.  I became a follower and left some comments.  The next thing I know, Lee has chosen me to receive a gift in her Fifth Anniversary Giveaway!!

A lovely band sampler chart by Eileen Bennett, some postcards and information about Hobbiton, Lee lives in New Zealand where the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films were filmed.  The Large Boy was very interested in these.  And a giant sweetie:

Inside the giant sweetie was this:

A tiny strawberry!

Look at the detail in this strawberry, all those beads, the coin is a 1p for scale (about the same size as a cent)

Lee gives some great instructions on how to make one of these for yourself on her other blog Other Side of the Mountain

As I mentioned Lee lives in New Zealand so when she asked for my address I was quite apologetic and said I am in England (postage being what it is) and gave the village and nearest town.  To both our surprise, Lee knows the area because her Great Grandfather grew up around here!  Just a few miles down the road.  She asked me about a place she'd had problems finding and I was able to send her some links and some information.  How much of a co-incidence is that?

Finally, if you have already signed up for the Summer Postcard Blog Hop don't forget to send your photos in as soon as possible.  And if you haven't signed up then please do so!

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Smalls SAL June Update

The Smalls SAL is hosted by Stitching Lotus

I chose three different monthly themes to follow this year:

Hallowe'en Ornie SAL - 12 different themes
Little Stitcher Fairy Tale 12 Days of Christmas - one per month
Primitive Hare Spooky Countdown - one per week starting 31st January

The theme for June's Hallowe'en stitch is "Any Freebie Chart".  I thought it would be nice for everyone to have a nice open choice for one month.  And a chance to share some of the great freebies the designers give us.  There is a whole page of links to freebie charts on the blog so if you love your Spooky Stitching, why not pop over and look up a few?

I haven't quite finished this month's design.  Can you guess what it is?  Is that steam coming out of her head? Maybe not LOL.

The Twelve Days of Christmas will be shown on TUSAL day, so that leaves the Spooky Countdown:

Blocks 19 - 21

Those of you familiar with the Spooky Countdown may have noticed that I have changed Block 21 completely.  The charted block is a decorative border for the word “OR” as in “Trick or Treat”.  If you stitch the piece as a sampler then it fits vertically between the blocks that say “Trick” and “Treat”.  But as I am using the blocks for my Countdown Calendar this would not have the same effect. 

Block 4 commemorated the famous Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  I am sure that most of my followers will be aware of these trials and the innocent women put to death as witches.  But how many of you have heard of the Witch Trials which set the legal precedent for those in Salem?  How many of you know the names Rose Cullender and Amy Denny?  In 1660, those two elderly widows were living in Lowestoft in Suffolk, England, a mere mile or so from where I was born, bred and am still living.  They were accused of witchcraft by a number of local residents, tried by the eminent Sir Matthew Hale and sentenced to death by hanging in 1662.

Some twenty years later a pamphlet was produced “A Tryal of Witches”, it was the evidence given in this pamphlet that persuaded the courts in Salem that “spectral evidence” was valid in a court of law and the Salem Witches began.

A well-know local historian Ivan Bunn has written an excellent academic book on the subject of the Lowestoft Witches and a rather more accessible website full of information about Amy, Rose and the other main characters in the trial.

There are links to the various people, photos of their homes and their gravestones.  One of the most interesting links for me is that of Samuel Pacy there is a great photo of his house today on this page.  It is very well-known to me as it is now a wool shop which also sells DMC to me!

Samuel Pacy’s daughter Elizabeth was one of the “victims” of the witches and an important witness in the trial.  He also had an older brother Nicholas, who had recently emigrated.  To the town of Salem, Massachusetts.

If you are at all interested in history and witches, particularly the witch trials I can really recommend spending some time on the website following the various links.

Here are two more smalls I finished last month but couldn't show.  The full story will follow soon,  there is still one gift making slow progress across the ocean!

Summer Postcard Blog Hop

Finally, the Summer Postcard Blog Hop has started!  The first postcard went to Gracie of  Needles, Pins and Dragonflies.  Follow the link to see her card, message and who sent it to her.  There is still time to join in with the Blog Hop, just click on the garden picture on the right hand side bar to find out more details.

Friday 20 June 2014

Stitch from Stash June Update

Stitch From Stash 2014
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!

Money from Christmas 2013
£ 40.00
January Budget
£ 15.00
January Spend
£ 25.84-
February Budget
£ 15.00
February Spend
£ 18.99-
March Budget
£ 15.00
March Spend
£   8.42-
April Budget
£ 15.00
April Spend
£ 16.19-
May Budget
£ 15.00
May Spend
£   0.00
£ 45.56

Crafty Kitten Layaway scheme (25/05)
£ 11.00-
Crafty Kitten Layaway scheme (10/06)
£ 40.00-

£   5.44-
June Budget
£ 15.00
Available to carry forward to July
£   9.56
Allowed purchases:
Jodyri Threads of Month Club : £ 5.54

New Starts from Stash: Joan Elliott Faces SAL (technically only the fabric was in my stash!)
WIPs and UFOs worked on: A Mon Ami Pierre Noel Blanc, Primitive Hare Spooky Countdown, The Little Stitcher 12 Days of Christmas, Just Nan Winter Typography

So I spent quite alot this month without having very much to show for it!  Crafty Kitten do a layaway scheme where you ask Dawn to put things aside for you and then you  pay into your account until everything is paid for and she mails it out to you.  I'm saving up for the JCS DVD 1991-2000, the Hallowe'en ornie issue and the 16 new DMC thread packs.  I also want some fabric for the Frosted Pumpkin SAL.  I sold a whole batch of duplicate Anchor threads I had inherited and put the whole proceeds onto my CK account.

I did get the issue of Cross Stitch and Needlework magazine that has the new Nora Corbett mermaid in it.  I rather liked the magazine, there was a wide range of designs in it.  Some not to my taste but quite a few that I did like.

I might look into subscribing to this one instead of the UK Cross Stitch Collection.

Anyway, back to actual stitching!  Here is the slow and steady Noel Blanc:

A Mon Ami Pierre

The other three can all be seen in my WIPocalypse post and I have not stitched on them since.

I have been working very hard on the Joan Elliot Faces SAL.  All we have so far is the border framework and you all know how boring I find borders!  So I have been concentrating on the centre block.  I used three butterflies from Joan's Butterfly Fairy and stitched them over 1 so they would fit:

The fabric is Crafty Kitten Snapdragon

Here's a close-up of the butterflies:

I don't want to add anything else to this block until I see the rest of the squares.  I will probably add my initials and the date in here at the end.

I also took part in a mini-challenge this week on Facebook.  I recently became a big fan of the Paper Panda, who makes the most lovely paper cut artwork. She posted this image on her FB page with the challenge "These are tiny mice made from paper that's been cut with my own fair paw with a scalpel. I invite all my lovely fellow artists and crafters to post a photo of a miniature mouse made from the medium that you usually work in, so crochet, paper, paint, buttons, wood, chewing gum - anything! How small can you go??  It must be recognisable as a mouse and as teeny tiny as you can possibly make it with your own fair hands."  

Photo: The page photo options have now been turned on so you can upload your pics for the PAPER PANDA CHALLENGE!!

Here's a quick recap.....
These are tiny mice made from paper that's been cut with my own fair paw with a scalpel. I invite all my lovely fellow artists and crafters to post a photo of a miniature mouse made from the medium that you usually work in, so crochet, paper, paint, buttons, wood, chewing gum - anything! How small can you go??
It must be recognisable as a mouse and as teeny tiny as you can possibly make it with your own fair hands.
I have a handful of 'Artists' badges that are no longer available in our shop so I'll dish them out to people who are the most inventive with their meeces. 
This isn't a competition, just a bit of fun, no liking/sharing and stuff is needed to join in, and it's nowt to do with Facebook!
(although you CAN technically like and share if you want to!)
SQUEEEEEEEEK! Have fun!!! :)
Photo copyright Paper Panda
So today is Show and Tell today and there are some lovely tiny mice on the page, everything from paper to crochet via drawings, felt and even blu-tac creations!  Here are my tiny mouses running around a penny:

And for my American followers, here they are running around a one cent coin

And a centime for my French fans:

Except I guess you have Euros now and I don't have any of those.  I did have some Pfennigs and Drachma but I don't think I have any German or Greek followers.

The mice are stitched from a design by Brenda Keyes and are just eight stitches long, plus tails.  I used a (very small) piece of 40 count linen to stitch these.  Paper Panda added this little poem to my photo:

I think mice are rather nice, 
and with mice the size 
of grains of rice, 
I had to look twice!

Finally, I will be sending the first Summer Postcard out this weekend so keep your eyes open for it appearing on a blog somewhere near you.  It is not too late to enter this Blog Hop, just click on the nice garden photo at the top right of the side bar for more details. 


Wednesday 18 June 2014

Stitching Along With Those SALs

At the beginning of the year, like many other bloggers, I make plans for which projects I will stitch in the coming year.  I always start off well, staying on target, the WIPocalypse helps with this.

Then as the year progresses, things crop up, Weddings, Babies and of course, the SAL.  Now there are two types of SAL (Stitch a long for the newbies).  The first is where two or more people decide to stitch the same design together.  Like The Spooky Countdown which Giovanna and I are both stitching.  It is easy to say Yes or No to one of these, you already have the design and it fits into your schedule.  Or people suggest it and you think "No, not really me, I'll pass on this one".

Then there is the second type - The Mystery SAL.  Cue Scooby Doo music.

You know the designer, you like the designer, you like the subject matter from the title.  But you don't know what the design will be like.  And everyone is getting excited about it.  And excitement is contagious.  And you know you won't catch up if you start later, and what if it is discontinued and you kick yourself for evermore for missing out.  And all the other girls are doing it, Mum, I'll be the only one not, what will we talk about at school now?

Yes, you are transported back to school and the dread fear of missing out on the latest craze.  So you dutifully sign up and somehow juggle the other projects you already have.  This is what happened with the Joan Elliott SAL.  She announced it via her FB fan page and everyone jumped in.  The border was released this month with one face due to be released for the next eight months.  Here is my progress so far:

There are three more boxes to be stitched at the bottom.  I have got bored stitching those fiddly flowers in the side panels so moved onto the centre.  The centre box has been charted with a title and more flowers but I wanted something different so I chose some of Joan's butterflies from the Butterfly Fairy chart.  They are an absolute pleasure to stitch and look lovely too.

The fabric is a piece of Jazlyn evenweave from the Crafty Kitten called Snapdragon.

So I figured that I could fit this in OK with all my other stitching committments as long as I didn't take on any other projects.  I'm only doing the one Round Robin this year so this kind of takes its place.  So I'm feeling quite smug as I resist not one, but two Hallowe'en Mystery SALs.  Even though Hallowe'en is my favourite and my best (as Lola would say).  And then I get an email entitled "A Gift from Sharon", that darned woman has signed me up for another Mystery SAL!

Looks good, doesn't it?

I do have a nice little extra finish to show you today.  While deciding on which fabric to use for the JE SAL I toyed with the idea of stitching it all over 1 for an extra delicate look.  As an experiment I chose one of Joan's seasonal fairies and stitched just her face:

I stitched her on 28 count tan evenweave and changed the metallics to bright shades of DMC.  I also substituted french knots for the beads and used a sewing cotton for the backstitch.  I mounted her on another calendar page:

This is a lovely calendar called Light & Landscape by a photographer named Fran Halsall.  This page shows Scott's View in the Scottish borders and the caption says "named after the famous author, look across a tight bend in the River Tweed to the Eildon Hills, under which there is said to be a doorway to the kingdom of an Elvish Queen."  So maybe my Autumn Fairy is really an Elvish Queen?  She does look rather regal.

BTW I decided to go with stitching over 2 with an option for over 1 on the skin for the whole project.  In case you were wondering.

Finally, don't forget the Summer Postcard Blog Hop.  This year's theme is Gardens, click on the picture of the garden to the top right of the blog for more details.  I have received a few pictures so far and I think I will start sending them round to people very soon!  If you have already signed up then send me your photo as soon as it's done.  If you haven't signed up then what are you waiting for?  Get clicking!

Friday 13 June 2014

June WIPocalypse Stitching Get-Togethers


WIPocalypse is hosted by Measi of Measi's Musings.

The main focus of my WIPocalypse this year is my "14 in '14" a list of 14 projects I wanted to complete in 2014.  In the last month I have worked on four of the list.  Here is the current stitching status of each one:

6. Primitive Hare - Spooky Countdown

7. The Little Stitcher - 12 Days of Christmas

9. Just Nan - Winter Typography

12. A Mon Ami Pierre - Noel Blanc

Measi also gives us a topic to discuss:

June 13      
Have you ever been to a stitch gathering such as a retreat or a festival? If so, tell us about it!

I have been on two quite different gatherings.  The first was a Re-Treat with the emphasis on the treat.  Two sisters owned a converted barn where they held the retreats for only 6 other ladies at a time.  One sister taught the stitching and the other sister did the cooking and also the pampering in the evenings.  I had a wonderful time!  We spent three days just stitching, chatting, eating, having our nails done and shopping in the pop-up shop they had there.

The second gathering was more formal, based in London at the Imperial College in Kensington I signed up for a goldwork course.  This was fascinating but sadly I never finished the project...

Since having children it has been impossible to get away for such luxuries as stitching weekends.  However I did manage a day out in London to meet up with Nicola and some of the Scarlet Letter Ladies earlier this year.  Full report here and group photo here:


There are a number of get-togethers I would like to attend, the Mira Minions have one organised for next year already and Dawn from Crafty Kitten is also organising one for her 5th birthday (the company's, not her's!).  The ladies from Needlecraft Haven also get together regularly and it would be great to get to either Ally Pally or Harrogate for the shows there one day.  I used to love going to the big show in Olympia too.

Maybe I should organise my own retreat so you could all come to me!!

Finally, since the demise of the Google Reader I have been using Feedly which I really like.  Until this week when it has been cyber-attacked!  It's called a Denial of Service attack and the baddies flood a website so it crashes and then demand a ransom to leave.  Each time Feedly fixes it they get attacked again and off it goes.  I could read blogs via my Dashboard but when Feedly comes back they will show as unread and I'll have to mark them all off again!  Oh, the problems of the First World.  So if you miss my comments now you know why.

Monday 9 June 2014

A Little Behind

No, not a reference to my petite derriere, but the fact that the combination of frogs and a new SAL have made me fall behind on my self-imposed schedule for Spooky Countdown!

The plan was to stitch one block per weekend.  But last weekend I dedicated to frog-slaying and re-stitching Noel Blanc so I only managed half a block and then this weekend I became obsessed with the new Joan Elliott SAL on FB so I completed Block 18 and managed 3 lines on Block 19.

To be fair, there is quite alot of dense stitching in those pumpkins.

And Block 19 looks like nothing at all!

So here's the start on the SAL:

Remember last post where I was debating with myself about stitching it over 1 or over 2?  I finally decided on over 2 but with the option to stitch the faces over 1 as suggested by someone on FB.  This proves my point about asking for advice online - if you have two equally valid choices you cannot decide between, you can guarantee that someone will come up with a third equally valid choice just to confuse you!  Or in this case, help you out!

The fabric is a piece of Crafty Kitten Jazlyn called Snapdragon.

Thank you to everyone for your commiserations on the frogs over the last two posts, it's worth re-visiting the previous post to this one to read Christine's and Julie's in particular as they both made me giggle!

Finally, don't forget the Summer Postcard Blog Hop.  This year's theme is Gardens, click on the picture of the garden to the top right of the blog for more details.  I have received a few pictures so far and once I get to six I will start sending them round to people.

Friday 6 June 2014

All Frogs Have Been Banished from the Kingdom!

What a relief!  After the massive frogging session on Noel Blanc I decided to spend all of Sunday re-stitching it so I was back where I started from.  Here is the latest progress picture:

See, I have completely finished the bad border and reached the far end of it too.  Now I have to stitch the outer border and then I can reward myself with the lovely alphabet.  The frogging was a pain but it was worth doing because there was no easy way to fudge this as it is a double border, it just threw the outer border and the symmetry totally off kilter.

Usually at the beginning of a month I start with my obligation stitching and my monthly challenges to make a good start.  This month I have signed up for a Joan Elliott SAL on FB.  The border was released this week and there will be eight further parts over the next eight months.  The layout is very much like a round robin with four larger blocks and four smaller blocks, there will be eight faces to go in the blocks.

As usual there has been lots of chat about fabrics and colour schemes etc.  Many of Joan's fans are English because she regularly features in the UK magazines and like many English stitchers some of them are surprisingly inexperienced with evenweave and higher counts.  I find the English obsession with 14 count aida hard to fathom!!  I do appreciate the ease with which you can stitch on it, the fact it is clear to see the holes and easy to count spacing out.  But compared to the feel and look of evenweave - no contest!!  Personally I blame the magazines, they rarely feature anything other than plain aida and considering we have three* of the finest hand-dyers in England this seems strange to me.

Anyway I am hoping this SAL will open up the beautiful world of hand-dyed fabrics of all counts to my countrywomen.  Which brings me on to my dilemma.  The stitch count is 139 x 139 so 10 inches on 28 count.  I looked in my stash bag and found some nice 28 count Crafty Kitten hand-dyed and started stitching the border.  While thinking "this is big, it's not 32, is it going to look too chunky?"  I don't have any suitable 32, most of it is either bright solid colours or neutral linens for samplers. Then I thought "what about over 1?"  I checked with Sharon Shebafudge to see what she thought, she damned me to hell and back because she has a lovely piece of fabric which the SAL will fit on over 1 and now she can't shake the idea!  

But I was concerned about the faces and whether they would lose the definition.  Joan does not use so many fractionals as a Mirabilia but they are there in her faces.  So the only way to tell (other than wait a month for the first one!) was to stitch one.  Luckily I have alot of Joan's charts and I chose Autumn Fairy for my sample.  Here she is, nearly finished:

I had to change the metallics to plain DMC, I rather like the bright yellow and there's an orange to come.  The beads will be French Knots.  The only issue now is the backstitch, the charted colour is way too heavy so I'm thinking of using a sewing cotton instead in paler colour.  Most of the design doesn't need bs anyway, just the outline of her face.

But I'm still in two minds!  I know the designs look lovely over 1, really delicate, but do I want to lose the metallics and beads?  I don't know!!  I used to be indecisive but now I'm not so sure...

* wondering who the three are?