Wednesday 29 April 2015

April Smalls and D.E.S.I.G.N. SALs

Stitching Lotus Ornament SAL
The Smalls SAL is hosted by Heather from Stitching Lotus

This year I am going to have two monthly challenges:

1. The Primitive Hare Hallowe'en Cubes SAL
2. The Hallowe'en Ornie SAL themed blog.

I skipped to the end of the word for this month's cube.  The reason being it would count as the ornie for the Hallowe'en Ornie blog featuring a tombstone - a twoferone is always good.

Stitched on 32 count Vintage Grain linen

Because the Smalls Post was so early last month, I hadn't even started my Ornie for March so here they are now:

Gasper Ghost

Beulah Witch

Jockey Jack

Not one, but THREE Crowjackers by Just Nan.  I stitched them on the same 32 count lavender evenweave I used for the Moonriders last year.  The plan is to make them all into ornies for this Hallowe'en.  I wonder if that plan will come to fruition?

I also completed two other smalls which I started as part of the DUCJC this year.  They were Lizzie*Kate's Autumn and The Sweetheart Tree Tudor Rose:




The idea of this Blog Hop is to choose a different designer each month and do a post focusing on a piece of their work you have stitched on during the month.  The hosts of D.E.S.I.G.N ask us to answer a few questions on our chosen designer.

1. What designer are you talking about this month?

Isabella from Primitive Hare, another Italian designer.  I do seem drawn to the Italians this year!

2. Have you stitched a project by this designer before?

Yes, the first was this cute little freebie which Christine chose for the Needlecraft Haven Challenge back in 2012.  This was my introduction to Primitive Hare's designs:

stitched over one on 28 count Platinum linen

The second piece was much larger and I stitched it over the course of a year doing one block per week to make this in time for the Hallowe'en Countdown:

You can see more photos of the entire design on my post Spooky Countdown.

And this year I am stitching the Hallowe'en Cubes, one per month:

They are all stitched on the same Vintage Grain linen, it's just the light when I photographed them!

3. Would you buy/stitch a design by this designer again?  Why/Why not?

Yes!  I have the Christmas Cubes in my stash and also Dear Santa.  When I have stitched both sets of cubes I will treat myself to the Love Cubes too.  Isabella does some lovely freebies on her blog.  There is a set of eight based on the Pagan Festivals which I'd like to stitch.  She also has two monthly SAL running at the moment - a Hallowe'en one and a Christmas one.  Strangely, I am more drawn to the Christmas one because it focuses on the traditional 12 Days of Christmas as celebrated in Europe (rather than the Partridge in a Pear Tree rhyme).  Stitch from Stash restrictions mean I will have to wait until my Birthday for that one though!


4. What made you choose this particular design/designer?

The subject matter is definitely a big attraction for me.  I love Hallowe'en (as you already know!) and I love the old traditions.  In particular I like the way the early Christians used these traditions to help spread the religion without alienating the populace.  In the 21st Century it is so interesting to see how we celebrate festivals with a mixture of the ancient and modern traditions, Pagan and Christian ideas joined together along with features from other cultures.

The current craze for Mindfulness is a good example of this.  It may seem like a Buddhist idea but it is also a key point in Pagan and Christian rituals.  I am fascinated by labyrinths and how they are used for meditation.  The most ancient labyrinths are thousands of years old but can also be found in many cathedrals (including my closest in Norwich).  Here is an interesting link on How to Meditate in a Labyrinth if you want to find out more.

Of course, needlework is a great way to meditate too.  Medieval ladies would often have someone reading aloud from the Bible as they stitched and now for me it is a chance to slow down and just let the thoughts come to me.  Isabella's designs are ideal for this as they use a simple palette of colours with just full stitches and minimal backstitch

5. Did you notice anything that distinguished this designer from others?

Isabella has a wide range of designs from Hallowe'en to Christmas, Fairy Tales to Classic Literature via Folklore and Traditions.  She uses predominantly blacks and greys with a splash of bright red or white.  While her Literature series is quite mainstream, her Fairytales are definitely not.  I love the way they show the darker side of the stories.  She also has her own fabric, 30 count Salem Linen available from her Etsy shop.  This is a very distressed and aged fabric perfect for her primitive style designs.  Then there are her thread keepers, solid wooden shapes (my witch is a good 7mm thick) with holes for you to tie your thread through.  And the Hornbooks!

I have this Ghost as well as the Witch!

Finally, here is my monthly Pie Chart, my time was spread more equally across several designs this month.

Friday 24 April 2015

Happy Conga Time!

Well, if one finish in a week is a Happy Dance, then two must form the start of a Conga?

excerpt from Bothy Threads

Sneaky Peeky of my finish:

The whole thing:
Winter Typography by Just Nan
Stitched on 32 count Lilac linen
Started 14th March 2014
Finished 22nd April 2015

Regular followers may remember Awesome Autumn Typography from 2013 where I changed one of the Autumns into Awesome.  I have done a similar thing on Winter.  Can you spot it?

Autumn Typography by Just Nan

It was a very serendipitous finish too, just as SewandSo are having a 10% off sale, so of course I had to buy the next one in the series - Spring Typography.  I will hold off getting Summer until I have stitched Spring.  There's an incentive for me!

Here's a collage of the details:

As well as treating myself to Spring Typography this month, I purchased an app for my iPad called X-Stitch App by PerformTec Ltd for only £2.29.  They are a husband and wife team who have created this inventory app for cross stitchers.  There are three main sections; the Journal, The Inventory and the Shopping List.  Each area is accessible from every part of the app so you jump from one to another easily.  You can also access the app from multiple devices.

The shopping list is just a notepad where you can details of anything you want or need.  Because the app can be viewed even when you do not have an internet connection this would be useful when you are out shopping.

The inventory is sub-divided into Charts & Kits, Threads and Linens.  Under Linens they have included all the major linen manufacturers and hand-dyers as well as some smaller companies.  There is also a Miscellaneous category for random pieces, or those you dyed yourself.  You select the thread count and the cut size too.  The Threads section also features all the major thread brands and many smaller businesses too.  Here the colours and numbers are preloaded so all you have to do is indicate how many skeins you own of each thread.  My only complaint about this section is that the numbered threads (such as DMC) are displayed in alphabetical order and not numerical order.  eg 3011 comes after 301 and is followed by 3012-3033 then 304 then all the 3041 threads.  This is annoying and could be easily fixed by the programmer putting a zero in front of the hundred numbers, ie 0304 not 304.  You can request dyers to be added to the list under the Settings options.

The Charts and Kits section is amazing!!  Every designer I have ever heard of is there and many I have not.  Resisting the urge to Google.  You just select the designer and add the name of the project plus some free form details of linen, threads.  The designers are displayed by alphabetical order on the index screen, you click on one and it shows the designs you own by that designer, along with the first line of text which is useful.  There is also an option to view all your charts in alphabetical order.

One thing I liked was that they have included a number of magazines, just the US ones at the moment plus Cross Stitcher.  However, there is a field under Settings where you can recommend designers and I have asked for the other major UK mags to be added.  I love the idea of adding the designs from a particular issue into your inventory, very thoughtful.

The Journal section is subdivided into Wish-List, Kitted, Started, Finished and All.  A nice feature is that once a chart is in the Inventory you can do a one click to add it to the Journal and all the information is migrated across.  Unfortunately the two entries are not synced after that so any changes on one are not copied over.  Minor niggle though.  In the Journal you can add photos from your iPad really easily.  You can screenshot from the internet and then add the photos too. 

You choose a Status and then all the designs under that status are listed in alphabetical order by project name.  I found it more useful to add the designer's name at the front of the title so they are grouped together.  You get a nice little picture of the current photo next to each one which can be easily updated each time to make some progress on it.  Once you finish a project you fill in the date and change the Status to Finished and it automatically changes section.

Here's a screenshot of the first part of my Started page:

(must move Winter Typography into Finished!)

So, is it worth it?  I have to say - Yes, it is.  It's a nice little app designed by people who actually know about cross stitching.  It's been very well thought out and is so easy to use.  There aren't many instructions but there is a FAQ page and you can contact them via email.  I sent an email with a couple of suggestions and got a reply despite them being on their holidays!  I guess self-employed people are never really on holiday.

Finally, there is a new blog on the block.  This one is for fans of Teresa Wentzler's intricate and gorgeous artwork.  The Magnificent Teresa Wentzler SAL.  Why not pop over and join in or just ogle the lovelies as they are added?

Monday 20 April 2015

April Stitch from Stash and a Happy Dance

Month: April
Spent: £ 4.99
Earned: £ 0.00

Sneaky Peaky of Happy Dance!

Stitch From Stash 2015
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!

January Budget
£ 15.00
January Spend
£   0.00
February Budget
£ 15.00
February Spend
£   5.50-
March Budget
£ 15.00
March Spend
£ 32.46-
April Budget
£ 15.00
Cross Stitch Crazy magazine
£   4.99-
Current Balance
£ 17.05
A good month.  I just bought one magazine which contained three charts I will definitely be stitching, the Satsuma Street Cities on black fabric,

On now for the main part of the blog, the part you've all been waiting for!  My Happy Dance on Prairie Moon's Thine is the Trick and the Treat.  I started this way back in October 2012:

and got this far in 2012:

I picked it up again in September 2013 and got this far by October:

And then nothing until December 2014 when I decided to focus on this project, stitching a minimum of one length of thread per evening.  This method works so well for monochrome samplers.

Here it is at the end of December 2014:

End of January 2015:

End of February 2015:

Mid March 2015:

Beginning of April 2015:

And now!

With my witch thread holder (from Primitive Hare)

With my cone of DMC! 

The fabric is a 40count hand dyed linen which was a gift from my friend Karen so I don't know who the dyer is.  The colour in the progress photos is more true to life than the finished photos.
I stitched using two strand of DMC 310 over 2 threads so the coverage is lovely and thick.  It made the fractional stitches a little lumpy so on some motifs I missed them out and on others I stitched them with one strand.
My favourite motifs were the cat and the witch.  I intend to stitch them again and make them into ornies for Hallowe'en.

Finally, this completion leaves a gap in my rotation!  I am going to be very disciplined and NOT make a new start.  I am going to continue on the black Hallowe'en theme and stitch this piece from my DUCJC challenge Day 10, Book of Spells by The Goode Huswif:

40 count Jewel Butterbeer from Under the Sea Fabrics

Saturday 18 April 2015



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.

Here is my ORTS jar posing with the current stitching project:

This week I have been stitching different things almost every day.  On Monday I finished another project from my 15 in '15 - Joan Elliott's Cherub from the 2013 Diary.  Tuesday was Satsuma Street day.  On Wednesday I went on a train journey so took Trick and Treat because it's all one colour, on Thursday I picked up Just Nan Winter Typography and Friday saw another finish for a DUCJC project - Sweetheart Tree's Tudor Rose.  Today is Saturday and a work day so no stitching so far!

Way back in December 2012 World Of Cross Stitching magazine had their most popular cover gift ever, a diary featuring 12 Joan Elliott designs.  I intended to stitch one a month that year.  Then I revised that to exclude three of the more cutesy designs then I revised it again and actually managed three finishes and one start!  February was started in February 2013 and was in last year's 14 in '14 (unsucessfully) and now in 15 in '15.  As ever, the crazy thing is that it only needed three days stitching to complete it.  Two were pretty full-on days though, we're talking four or five hours a day.

Stitched on 28 count evenweave dyed with fruit tea
(which smells lovely when you are stitching!)

Mounted in my scrapbook.
I need some more gold heart stickers, I only had silver.

I used the recommended colours except for the heart because they were too pink.  I also left off the border of backstitched hearts.  That saved a couple of hours!

Tuesday is a SAL with Linda and Kate on Satsuma Street's Pretty Little London:

(It's the scanner that makes the linen look weird)

This week I stitched more of St Paul's Cathedral.

The Sweetheart Tree Tudor Rose was very nearly completed last week but I wanted to save the beading for a day when the boys were at school.  Beading and the Small Boy are not really compatible!  Here are several photos of the finished piece:

Stitched on 32 count Light Mocha linen.
I substituted plain DMCfor the border and used DMC throughout.
The beads and charm were supplied with the chart.

I had stitched the centre last (as instructed) and noticed that it was quite raised where the eyelets had pulled the fabric so decided to make a stuffed ornie.

With the intended backing fabric:

All finished:

And hanging in place:

The chart was a gift from Vickie and will now be travelling on to Gillie as a prize for leaving my 7000th comment a while back.  I gave her first choice before I chose the Giveaway charts and she picked this one.

Finally, the Giveaway of the other seven charts is continuing.  To be in with a chance, just leave a comment on my Blogaversary post.  Anyone who links up for the Gifted Gorgeousness SAL gets an extra chance.  You don't have to do anything to claim that, if you have commented and linked up then my spreadsheet will automatically put your name in twice.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Gifted Gorgeousness April Link Up Post

  Gifted Gorgeousness

For newbies, this is my first year long SAL.  Click on the picture above for the full details.

We will be posting and linking up on the 15th of each month, because it is 2015.  Should be easy to remember.

There has been plenty of Gifted Gorgeousness going on this month, both giving and receiving.  I visited my Aunt and was able to present Baby Albert with his very own sampler.  I also completed the square for the Stitching Out Stigma project and sent that off to the organisers.  You can see the squares they have already received in their Gallery.

But mostly I have been stitching on pieces which were gifts to me:

Scarlet Letter - Elizabeth Shephard

Prairie Moon - Thine is the Trick and the Treat
Sweetheart Tree - Tudor Rose
(very close to finishing this so only showing a small part!)
Lizzie*Kate - Autumn Sampler Snippet

I also received a lovely stitching related gift from Jocondine.  She has been hosting a great quiz each week based on French towns all of which relate to needlework in some way.  So far we have visited Alencon, Bayeaux, Pont l'Abbe and Richelieu.  My name and Jacquie's name were the first two drawn to receive a little something and here it is:

A close-up of the cup-purse

Thanks you, Jocondine!

I also received a total surprise gift.  I've always enjoyed taking part in Round Robins where a group of stitchers take turns to stitch on a piece for each other.  Apart from the odd late mailer I've never had a problem until the Large Mirabilia RR in 2013.  Basically, mine vanished in the postal system.  I waited and waited hoping that it had been mistakenly sent by surface mail instead of airmail but nothing arrived.  The other participants were just as upset as I was and offered to restitch the piece.  And then it went quiet.  I tried to forget about it as I know that real life often gets in the way of our stitching. And then, out of the blue a parcel arrived from New Zealand.  I couldn't think of anything I was expecting so it was a complete shock to see a re-stitched Mirabilia Round Robin!

I'd chosen the Birth Month Fairies and asked everyone to stitch June, July and August leaving September for me as it is my birth month.  So here is my piece with the first three fairies complete and only the centre and September to be stitched by me:

Thank you Karen, Julie and Andie, you guys are the Best!

And now over to you - 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 "April Update" so I can easily see who has linked up this month.  
And link to the actual post, not just your blog.  
Thank you.  I can amend links if you make a boo-boo though.



Finally, I'm having a giveaway this month.  There are seven charts up for grabs, pictured on my Blogaversary post.  All you have to do is pop over there and leave a comment telling me which are your favourite three charts.  Everyone who links up for the GG gets an extra chance in the draw.  Draw closes 30th April which is when the link-ups close too.