Wednesday 30 September 2015

September 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.
and a third one added from August:
3. The Christmas Ornie SAL themed blog

I have only one letter left to do in the Cubes but I have left that until next month because I really need to finish the exchange piece first.  So here are my two ornies for the two blogs:

Witchy Brew by Witchy Stitches
stitched over one on 28count light beige evenweave

Roaming Reindeer by BRD
From JCS Christmas Special 2012
stitched on 32 count Twilight Blue linen.



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?

I am doing something completely different this month.  Rather than choose one designer I have chosen one publication which feautures many designers.  The Just Cross Stitch Annual Christmas Ornament Special.  I first heard about this publication when I was new to blogging and discovered the American way of doing things!  I loved the idea of an entire magazine dedicated to Christmas and to Hallowe'en too.  I now have 2012-2015 as paper copies and all the previous ones on the CDs they do.

I love reading the reviews of the magazine and seeing everyone's top choices too.  I chose ten this year (and forgot to include the tenth which is the lovely Brooke's Book's Angel, added by edit).  So here are my top nine:

Top Row - Dragon Dreams, Blue Ribbon Designs, SamSarah Designs
Middle Row - Fern Ridge Collections, From the Heart, Ink Circles
Bottom Row - The Little Stitcher, Patricia Ann Designs, Elizabeth's Needlework

2. Have you stitched a project from this publication before?

Yes, the magazines are an amazing source of designs and a great way to discover new designers.  The first year I knew hardly any of their names but now I can look at the pictures and identify most of the designers by sight.

3. Would you buy/stitch a design from this publication again?  Why/Why not?

Yes, I have a subscription!  I'm going to be taking part in Kaye's Christmas Ornie Blog all next year which is a great opportunity to stitch some of the wonderful designs from the magazines.

4. What made you choose these particular designs for your Top Ten ?

Every year I go through the magazine and write my favourites on a piece of paper which I leave in the front of the magazine to refer to later.  Then I think "oh yes, I still love that one" or "what was I thinking that year?"

This year's choices were made because:

1 - I love dragons
2 - I love BRD's serieses
3 - This will make a great gift for someone I know
4 - I like the effect of the satin stitch
5 - I love an alphabet and I like the quirky lopsided look to this one
6 - Big fan of Ink Circles.  Not such a big fan of tangled up lights!
7 - Love the Little Stitcher's designs
8 and 9 - Two nice abstract ornies which I think will look lovely stitched in the same colours on a high count fabric.  Maybe add some beads.
10 - Brooke's Book's Angel (see below).  I will probably never stitch this but it's gorgeous and so different.  I love it!

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

I have to be honest, I felt there was a lot of repetition this year.  A series is nice (see number 2) but mamy of the designs had a feeling of deja-vu about them.  The Ink Circles one is fun but was there a similar one in a previous year?

I also think there was a problem with the printing this year.  Everything looks very washed out.  Look at the SamSarah design.  Surely that will be more vibrant in real life?  It made choosing the designs quite difficult, I looked at the charts and descriptions more than usual.

So what were your favourites this year?  If you've done a review leave a link in the comments so we can all pop over and read it.


Finally, a pie chart for September, a complete reverse of last month.  With fewer projects and more time spent on each one.

Monday 28 September 2015

September WIPocalypse Shopping

WIPocalypse is hosted by Measi's Musings

The focus of my WIPocalypse will be my "15 in '15"which are 15 charts I want to stitch in 2015 (following on from my "11 in '11", "12 in '12", "13 in '13" and "14 in '14" - imaginative, eh?)
Over the last month I have only stitched 1 of my 15 designs but I did finish it!

The finished project is Sugared Almond Cottage by Nutmeg Company:

stitched on 28 and 36 count evenweave

This was such a fun project to stitch and make up.  It is very tiny but there is a lot of detail in there.  I also used a curved needle for the first time.  A John James curved tapestry size 24 for those who were wondering.

The second list I have is my DUCJC and I stitched on two designs from that list.  The first piece I worked on was my IHSW piece - Elizabeth Shephard by Scarlet Letter:

stitched on 30 count linen

I've been stitching the top left hand corner this month.  And also, her name.

The final piece is my evening project, approximately one length of thread per evening while the Small Boy is in the bath.  Book of Spells by The Goode Huswif:

stitched on 40 count Jewel Butterbeer linen

You can see I have almost completed the border for this side of the design.  Then I can move on to some colours!  Mostly grey and orange.  Maybe a finish by the end of this year?

Measi always sets us a topic for discussion and this month we have:

September – Where do you buy most of your stitching supplies?

I would love to say "a sweet little LNS run by an enthusiastic mother and daughter team along with a shop assistant who shares a Birthday with the Large Boy and was happy to chat to him while I shopped in their well-stocked Aladdin's Cave of charts, fabrics and exotic threads and accessories".  But Hobbycraft opened a warehouse store and killed Helen's business.

So now I shop online.  In common with 99.9% of UK stitchers I use SewandSo as my starting point.  They have the widest choice, most things are in stock and their delivery is next day at very reasonable prices.  The website is easy to browse, except for the "Other Designers" category where there are all sorts of hidden delights.  If anything, there is too much choice and you can get overwhelmed by it all!  SewandSo are run by enthusiasts.  If you email or call them they know what you are talking about so I feel it is as much like an LNS as it can be.  It's certainly better than the aforementioned warehouse stores.

Willow Fabrics is a family run business based in Cheshire.  They stock many kits and charts but their website is my number one choice for plain fabrics of all colours and counts.  Many of the more unusual colours you have admired on my blog (eg 32 count Cognac linen) come from Willow Fabric.  Their sales are second to none too.  Which is why I have entire metres of some obscure colours because they were too good to miss!

Hand-dyed fabrics is an evergrowing market and I have two firm favourites.  Dawn and Kate.  Or Crafty Kitten and Sparklies as they are known on the internet.  Both are one-woman businesses run by amazing enthusiast expert enablers!  I feel very torn between the two businesses so I have devised a cunning strategy to help me decide where to shop.  Dawn's fabrics are slightly more muted and subtle, possibly because I usually order 32 count Murano which doesn't dye as brightly as the linens.  Kate's fabrics tend to the wilder side of life!  So that's how I choose.  Muted = Dawn, Lively = Kate.

Here are my two favourites fabrics from each dyer:

Sunlit Heath
"A beautiful blend of greens and golds, like sunlight streaming across a grassy landscape or slanting through a forest canopy."  and named after part of my address because I inspired this fabric.

Purpleberry Spludge - Evenweave - 18 x 27 inch

I also shop online for charms from Ang's Attic and for scrapbook papers and embellishments from Scrapping the Magic and Papermaze.  All three are small, family run businesses who deserve to be supported.  In real life I have a local craft shop which sells alot of scrapbook papers and embellishments too but they cater mostly for the card-making people rather than cross stitchers.  Hallowe'en isn't really a thing for them!

Finally, Hallowe'en is fast approaching so it must be time to launch the Hallowe'en Trick or Treat Blog Hop.  Regular followers will know the format.  Leave a comment here saying you would like to take part in the hop as a Picture Poster.  When I have everyone signed up I will choose a Mystery Phrase and allocate each Picture Poster a letter of the alphabet.  On 31st October they must make a blog post showing their letter and a photo of something they have stitched on a Hallowe'en theme.  On my blog there will be a list of all the contributors so people can hop around and collect the letters to work out the Mystery Phrase.  You don't have to be a Picture Poster to collect the letters and join in with the competition but all Picture Posters do get an extra entry in the competition.

Here is last year's post if you want to see how it all works:

Sunday 27 September 2015

Mystery Stitching

I've done quite a bit of stitching this week but I can't show the piece because it is for an exchange.  How frustrating!  Maybe just a little peek?

 or two?

I can reveal the design I was stitching on when I posted my TUSAL post.  Remember this was all you could see:

Here is the finished piece:

Roaming Reindeer by BRD
From JCS Christmas Special 2012
(Much better photo for showing the colour of the fabric.)

This is the second design I've stitched from this series of four by Blue Ribbon Designs.  I changed the fabric to a 32 count Twilight Blue linen and the white to B5200 because it really pops against the blue fabric.

Companion piece - Woodsy Winter from JCS Ornie Preview 2012

I love the bright red of the cardinals.  Before I discoved blogging I did not realise these birds were actually that bright in real life!  I thought it was a little artistic license on the designers' part.

Finally, Hallowe'en is fast approaching so it must be time to launch the Hallowe'en Trick or Treat Blog Hop.  Regular followers will know the format.  Leave a comment here saying you would like to take part in the hop as a Picture Poster.  When I have everyone signed up I will choose a Mystery Phrase and allocate each Picture Poster a letter of the alphabet.  On 31st October they must make a blog post showing their letter and a photo of something they have stitched on a Hallowe'en theme.  On my blog there will be a list of all the contributors so people can hop around and collect the letters to work out the Mystery Phrase.  You don't have to be a Picture Poster to collect the letters and join in with the competition but all Picture Posters do get an extra entry in the competition.

Here is last year's post if you want to see how it all works:

Sunday 20 September 2015

September Stitch from Stash

Month: September
Spent:   £ 0.00
Earned: £ 0.00

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!

July Budget
£ 15.00
July spend
£   7.75
August Budget
£ 15.00
August spend
£ 14.57
September Budget
£ 15.00
September spend
£   0.00
Current Balance
£ 22.68

So you can see it was a great month!  In fact the whole of last month was a real zero personal spend.  I had to get the Large Boy a new pair of shoes and a new pair of trainers for school (sports shoes for the foreign!) so all I spent on myself was £3.20 for some curved needles.

But never fear, I did not go without this month because it was my Birthday and my friends are ever generous!  Here are the presents I received in addition to a lovely Crafty Kitten voucher from the equally lovely Crafty Princess, stunner!

From Jocondine, a beautiful hand made card and packaging for the ribbon which came in a vintage box.  It might even be vintage ribbon.

Close-up of that ribbon:

see, it has my initials on it!

From Nicola the Everlasting Diary featuring a number of samplers from the Fellers' Collection plus the gorgeous Needlelace cards from Catherine Barley.  I fell in love with the Snow Queen cards, there is a wondeful video of how they were made on her website here.

From Mouse, two Just Nan charts which I didn't have and some lovely ribbons.  There seems to be a conspiracy to get me to use more ribbon!

It has been IHSW this weekend so I've been working away on Elizabeth Shephard or Lizabeth Shephard because I haven't done the first E yet. I stitched most of her name and the brown motif in the top left hand corner.

stitched on 30 count linen

Finally, Kaye had launched yet another new blog - Kitten Stitching and the Friday Frolics.  Basically you pull out any WIP or UFO and stitch it on a Friday.  You can carry on frolicing throughout the weekend and post your progress when you are done.  I chose to continue Just Nan's Ghoulies and Ghosties which I started in August for the Hallowe'en Ornie SAL.  Here is my current state of WIPness:

stitched on 28 count tan evenweave.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Gifted Gorgeousness September 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.

Elizabeth Shephard by Scarlet Letter - a gift from Nicola
stitched on 30 count linen

 Book of Spells by The Goode Huswif - stitched on gifted fabric
stitched on 40 count Jewel Butterbeer linen

Hobby Horse by JBW - a gift for my cousin's daughter
stitched on 32 count Antique White linen

Sugared Almond Cottage by Nutmeg Company - a gift from Susan Yellow Flower Meadow
stitched on 28 count pink and 36 count white evenweaves

Witchy Brew by Witchy Stitches - This was a gift from Sarah (no longer blogging)
stitched over one on 28count light beige evenweave

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 "September Update" so I can easily see who has linked up this month.  
And link to the actual post, not just your blog.  People are still getting this wrong!  It is easier if you copy and paste the link, rather than typing freehand.
Thank you.  I can amend links if you make a boo-boo though.



Finally, let's have a little Giveaway to celebrate my Birthday in two days time!  Followers of The Alphabet Club will know how much I enjoy stitching lettering and alphabets.  So here are two charts featuring alphabets.

Prize 1 - Tea Cozys and Sampler

Prize 2 - Ribbon Alphabet

Once you have linked up with your GG post just leave a comment letting me know which chart you would like to win.

Sunday 13 September 2015

September TUSAL


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:

Which is going to be the ornie for the Christmas Ornie SAL Blog.  This month's theme is Trees and/or Presents.  I have chosen a design with trees in it although not indoor decorated trees as many people will probably chose.

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my little Nutmeg Company Cottage, which you can also see in the TUSAL photo.  I am slowly replying to all the comments!  Several people asked about the curved needles.  The one I used was a John James size 24 curved tapestry needle so specifically designed for this sort of thing rather than for stitching upholstery.  The charts are available as part of a kit from the Nutmeg Company's website.  I would really recommend getting the whole kit, they are not that expensive and include the plastic templates which will really help with the making-up of the cottage.  They also include the long bugle beads and the higher count fabric.  Which is useful if you don't use much 18/36 count normally.

For fans of 3D stitching, I also discovered this wonderful website with designs by Elli Jenks.  She does a whole range of houses which look slightly simpler to put together (no overhanging roofs for one thing!)

Finally, the Summer Postcard Hop is over so I will be launching the Hallowe'en Trick or Treat Hop soon.  Have a look at last year's to see how it all works and to be ready for the sign-ups this year!  I'll see you all on the 15th for a pre-Birthday Gifted Gorgeousness post.

Friday 11 September 2015

You Can Tell It's Term Time Again...

My Blog Comments email folder has gone over 100 emails to answers, my Reader had 200 posts to read (got that down to 140 now), it took all week to stitch an ornie I could have done in one day and I'm feeling a little "peopled-out" having done two days at work, one parent support group, two friends visits and a Toddler Group too.  I need to hermit this weekend!

I chose the themes for the Hallowe'en Ornie SAL blog back in November last year so they tend to come as a surprise to me by this time of year!  I wasn't sure I would easily be able to find something for this month's theme"Spooky Words" but as I looked through my issues of JCS I realised there were loads of designs I liked!  Which is probably why I chose this as one of the themes in the first place.

I found a nice design which said Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble which reminded me of another chart I owned.  When I found that one it was too large for an ornie but in with it was this one which was the perfect size stitched over one.  I do love my over one stitching.

stitched over one on 28count light beige evenweave

This is the debut design from 2009 by Tammy who has a blog called Witchy Stitches.  It's not easy to see if she has many other designs because there's no page for her own stuff.  But there is a sweet Wynter Witch.

Anyway, I stitched this one using the recommended DMC conversion except for the lettering and mug which I subbed 3799 for plain black.  I thought it was closer to the Gentle Art thread the model stitcher used.  Because I stitched the design over one I was able to cheat on the border and stitch it over two which saved so much time hahaha.  I also added some little starry stitches around the word "hex" just because I wanted to.

I'm not sure whether to scrapbook this with the others or frame it and put it next to the kettle to drop a hint to my family!

I managed to put a few stitches into Satsuma Street's Pretty Little London for my Tuesday SAL with Linda and Kate.  White, cream and dark blue added.

stitched on 32 count Antique White evenweave

I'm also progressing on Book of Spells, I do enjoy stitching words and as I took this one to work with me one of the days I got quite a bit done in my lunchbreak:

stitched on 40 count Jewel Butterbeer linen in need of an iron!

Finally, the Summer Postcard Blog Hop is all done and dusted for another year!  The final card came to me from the lovely (and very patient) Leonore from Needle, Pen & Sword

I had pets when I was younger, and I loved them, but to be honest, I was never really up to the responsibility, and much of the actual work fell to my grandparents, with whom I lived. Now that I'm old enough to decide if I want pets of my own, I'm also old enough to fully grasp what it really means to be responsible for another living being, and I sadly realized that I don't have that kind of time at the moment. But I sincerly hope that I will in the future, and until then, stitching cute little critters will have to serve as a subsitute :)


I have to agree, he is totally adorable!  I have never owned a guinea pig but the Large Boy had a cuddly toy bought for him when he was a Small Boy and I did stitch a picture of the creature one year:

First postcard from Cheryl goes to Noni at Fireflies and Cats in the Garden
Second postcard from Vickie goes to Katie at Jeremiah's Mom
Third postcard from Noni goes to Julie at Julie's Stitchyknitter Journal
Fourth postcard from Katie goes to Anna at Stitch Bitch
Fifth postcard from Julie goes to Bea at Thoughts and Musings
Sixth card from Narita goes to Kaye at Kitten Stitching
Seventh card from Anna goes to Vickie at A Stitcher's Story
Eighth card from Kaye goes to Jocondine at Jocondine
Ninth card from Jocondine goes to Cheryl at Today I Found
Tenth card from Bea goes to Leonore at  Needle, Pen and Sword
Final card from Leonore to me!

Monday 7 September 2015

Welcome to my New Home

No, I haven't moved house, I've just built myself a new one!  It's a little "bijou" as the estate agents would say and the roof needed some work too.  I am also wondering how I will fit all my stash into it, or indeed anything larger than a petite needle!  Without further ado, here is my detached des res - Sugared Almond Cottage:

This little beauty designed by The Nutmeg Company was a gift from Susan Yellow Flower Meadow.  Here are the sides prior to making up:

The roof is stitched on 28 count pink evenweave and the walls are stitched on 36 count white evenweave.  The beads are all Mill Hill gold petites.

And here are some Work In Progress photos:

Sewing the four walls together.  
This was quite simple, I just whipstitched through the back stitched outlines.

I knew the roof would be tricky because it overhangs the walls rather than fitting flush.
So I decided to make a false inner roof using some scrap linen:

Stitching the false roof using my new curved needle:

Curved needles are epic!  They make things like this so much easier, with a straight needle I was getting it stuck on the beads and in the fabric.

Once I'd finished the false roof I attempted to fix the real roof using double sided tape.  Unfortunately it started to lift away at the edges.  Because the roof is one piece it wants to lie flat rather than be bent in the middle.  So I had to stitch it in place after all.  However, having the false roof to hold it in place made this much easier so I would use this technique again.

The finished property!

Now who would live in a house like this?

Finally, for puzzle lovers and Teresa Wentzler fans, I am hosting a competition to win a TW chart over on the TW blog.  Please do tell your friends and invite them to join in.  Clsoing date is 17th September.  If you already have the chart or are not a fan please feel free to nominate a friend to receive it.  Here's the link - Teresa Wentzler Competition Time