Sunday 31 January 2016

I Like Pie

And I'm sure you all do too!  So let's start with the January Pie:

You can see what I spent most of January working on!  And here is the progress photo:

Stitched on 32 count Oceanic Fantasia by Crafty Kitten

I've only actually got two colours, the backstitch and beads to do.  But there is a LOT of each of those two colours!  Thankfully the patterned fabric means I don't have to stitch all the charted background.

Stitch from Stash is no longer running but I thought I'd track what I'm spending this year anyway.  So far I have purchased the Crescent Colours for the letters and paid for a quarterly magazine subscription.

Threads:        £ 20.80
Magazines:   £   8.72
Total Spend: £ 29.52

I also promised you the photos for how I made my cube finish for Poinsettia Christmas by Acorn House Designs.  This design featured in Just Cross Stitch magazine Christmas Ornie Special 2013.  I stitched it at the end of 2014 and it sat there waiting for me to finish-finish which I finally did this January!

First all of I cut out four pieces of thick mounting board.  Two were 14cm by 14cm and two were 7cm by 14 cm.  I'm using cm because you can be more accurate without going into fractions of inches!

In the first photo you can see the sparkly evenweave facedown on the table with the left and right edges taped to the back of the mounting board.  I put a piece of wadding between the fabric and the board to give it a nice padded feel.  You can see I have cut a thin sliver off the other piece of square board. (about 4mm) this is to make the back slightly smaller so the cube will tilt back just a little and not fall forward on its face!  It makes it easier to see the stitching too.

Then I chose my backing fabric and taped the left and right edges to the board.  I use double-sided tape for ease and because this is not an heirloom piece, it's for my pleasure now.  If you want it to last 100 years, then lace the backs properly.

Next I used tape along the 14cm edges of the side pieces to fix them to the front and back pieces so we have a long jointed piece.

 This photo shows all four pieces joined together into a parallelogram shape!

I don't have a photo of the side piece laid out but basically it's a long piece of thin card covered in the same backing fabric.  The card is 60cm long allowing for four sides of 14cm plus an overlap.  I could have used more wadding to pad the sides but I didn't have any more!

You can see the bottom of the box isn't covered with fabric.  Because the back of the box is slightly smaller, the edge piece will meet at an angle on the bottom of the box so you will need to trim it to fit.  Then I used a piece of dark green felt to cover the gaps and make a nice base for it to stand on.

I taped the card to the top of the box and to the bottom on the box.  That's when I noticed the sides gaped.

At this point I realised my no-sew-cube was going to have to be a low-sew-cube!

This photo shows me using invisible thread to whip stitch the edge of the evenweave to the backing fabric and closing the gap.  I also did the same on the back of the box.

And voila!  The finished piece:

The clay poinsettia is available direct from Acorn House Designs.  I attached it using more invisible thread around the lower petals.  The ribbon came from a box of chocolates and was in my ribbon stash box.

Side view:

And the back:

Because I used thick mounting board for the main piece it stands very well as it is.  But you could weight it down with some kind of stuffing.  Old clothing is suggested in one place which seems like a good recycling idea.  I have plenty of pairs of Small Boy jeans where one leg would fill a box nicely.

I hope you enjoyed the photos!  It's a nice project for a Sunday afternoon.


Finally,  the Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop will be taking place on Valentine's Day.  Full details can be found on this post but basically you email me a photo of something suitable for a lovely friend and I send you a photo from a mystery friend which you post on your blog to wait for your Secret Stitching Sweetheart to find you from the list of participants on my blog.  Have a look at last year's Hop to see how it all worked:

Thursday 28 January 2016

January Small SAL

The Smalls SAL is hosted by Heather from Stitching Lotus

This year I have two Small Challenges:

For the Hallowe'en Blog I have done something a little different this year, I've chosen a band sampler by Just Nan called Counting Bats and each band corresponds to the monthly themes on the blog.  So January was Winged Creatures and I stitched these bats:

Kaye has chosen the themes for the Christmas Blog and January's was Music.  I am stitching Primitive Hare's Christmas Cubes for this challenge and here is C:

I also had a really small Small finish, the Mona Lisa by Mr. X-Stitch.  While rummaging through my stash cupboard I found this display of frames I bought from a house clearance shop a couple of years ago.  One of the frames was the perfect size for Mona:

Edit - The finished piece is 1.75 inches by 2.25 inches.

Now I just need five more miniature Old Masters to complete the set!  If anyone has any ideas please send me the links.  I found a cute Van Gogh from Cloud Factory which is a start.

In an attempt to keep up with my scrapbooking I mounted this little tree in a new frame made from an old Christmas card:

And here's the whole page:

Another thing which has got smaller is my list of followers, you may have noticed the same.  But do not panic!  Blogger has simply decided not to allow people to "follow" with accounts other than Blogger ones.  If those ex-followers use a Reader they should still be able to see your posts.

Finally,  the Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop will be taking place on Valentine's Day.  Full details can be found on this post but basically you email me a photo of something suitable for a lovely friend and I send you a photo from a mystery friend which you post on your blog to wait for your Secret Stitching Sweetheart to find you from the list of participants on my blog.  Have a look at last year's Hop to see how it all worked:

Sunday 24 January 2016

January WIPocalypse Introduction

WIPocalypse is hosted by Measi's Musings

Each month we have to share the projects we want to complete before the End Of The World.  Measi always gives us a topic to discuss too.

January - Introduce yourself, your projects, and any goals you have for the year!

I think you all know who I am by now!  The focus of my WIPocalypse will be my "16 in '16" which are 16 projects I particularly wanted to focus on in 2016.   The full list can be found on my WIPocalypse page where you can also find my secondary list "16 Series in '16".

My main goal is to keep to my rotation of one small every Friday and the rest of the month working on my focus piece until it is finished.  I also have a number of SALs I want to keep up with:

The Alphabet Club - a different letter on the first Saturday of each month
Gifted Gorgeousness - post anything gifted on the 15th
Hallowe'en Ornie Blog - a different spooky theme each month
Christmas Ornie Blog - a different festive theme each month
Smalls SAL - last Thursday of each month


And now for the progress report:

So far this month I've worked on five of the main 16 and four of the series list.  Although there is one overlap there!

Here are the main projects:

6. Poinsettia Cottage by CCN - Finished

8. Book of Spells by The Goode Huswif - WIP

I've actually done a lot more on that house

11. Elizabeth Shephard by The Scarlet Letter - WIP

13. C by Nora Corbett - WIP

16. Counting Bats by Just Nan - WIP

And the series:

1. Christmas Cubes by Primitive Hare - WIP

6. Stitcher's Alphabet by Brooke's Books - WIP

(you're not getting a close-up until the block is finished!)

14. 12 Days of Christmas by Plum Street Samplers - Finished

15. Alphabet Fairies by Nora Corbett - see above


Finally, a little bit more About Me - I run a number of Blog Hops throughout the year.  Open to old friends and new bloggers alike.  The next one will be the Secret Stitching Sweetheart on Valentine's Day.  Full details can be found on this post but basically you email me a photo of something suitable for a lovely friend and I send you a photo from a mystery friend which you post on your blog to wait for your Secret Stitching Sweetheart to find you from the list of participants on my blog.  Have a look at last year's Hop to see how it all worked:


Friday 22 January 2016

Continuing Progress on a Couple of Projects

That title is what you get when there isn't a SAL to post about!

I mentioned Nora Corbett's C last post but didn't have a photo, so here is one for you:

Stitched on 32 count Oceanic Fantasia by Crafty Kitten

Every time I stitch a Nora Corbett I remember why I love her designs so much!  This is a pure joy to stitch.

I'm using the Crescent Colours, now called Classic Colourworks because I discovered that most of them are used in all four of the letter I want to stitch which made it worth buying them.

Next up is today's new start - the letter G from Brooke's Books' Stitcher's Alphabet:

My 2016 rotation is working rather well.  I start a new small every Friday and stitch until it is completed and then I stitch my focus piece (currently C).  I am also stitching Book of Spells each evening when the Small Boy is in the bath.

The Large Boy has had a couple of days off school with a cold so we sat down to watch a film this afternoon (The Corpse Bride).  I decided to have a go at a Cube Finish in practise for the Hallowe'en and Christmas Cubes.  It's a design I actually finished back in 2014 which has sat in the folder waiting to be finish-finished.  I'd been debating over foam blocks vs polystyrene blocks when Susan sent me some instructions for making a box using mat board.  I kind of adapted them to make my own "no-sew" version.

At least "no-sew" was the idea but it turned out to be "low-sew" as the sides will need whip stitching to fill the gaps.

Poinsettia Christmas by Acorn House Designs

I also need some ribbon and to affix the poinsettia charm which came with this.  I've taken step-by-step photos and will share them when I've finished finish-finishing!

Thank you for all the comments about Mona Lisa on my previous post.  I did have to laugh at the ones about my "amazing eyesight".  I am actually chronically short-sighted and wear varifocals every day.  My distance vision is about a minus seven.  To stitch anything at all I have to hold it approximately three inches from my face and look over the top of my glasses.  Which means that 28 count over one is no more difficult than over 2 on any count.  And that is why I love my tiny stitching so much.

Finally it's sign-up time for the Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop which takes place on Valentine's Day.  Full details can be found on this post but basically you email a photo of something suitable for a lovely friend and I send you a photo from a mystery friend which you post on your blog to wait for your Secret Stitching Sweetheart to find you from the list of participants on my blog.  Have a look at last year's Hop to see how it all worked:

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Some Fantastic Finishes

It was a busy weekend and I had two finishes plus some great progress on my Nora Corbett letter C.

The first finish was the Mini Mona Lisa you glimpsed with the Mona Lisa tea towel in a previous post.  This was part of Mr. X-Stitch's 52 Projects in 2015 and I fell in love with it when I first saw it.

I stitched her over one on 28 count black evenweave using a DMC conversion (the chart was in Anchor).  She looks better from a distance, so if you're reading this on a tablet or phone - hold it at arm's length!

Now I need a really tiny frame to mount her.  The finished piece is 1.75 inches by 2.25 inches.

The next finish is a little larger but still counts as a small.  CCN's Poinsettia Place is part of the Santa's Village series and was a giveaway prize from Gaynor of Stitchers Anon.  I started it as part of DUCJC 2015 and continued it in December.

stitched on 32 count Twilight Blue linen

and mounted for my scrapbook:

I used the recommended DMC for this one with a couple of minor changes.  I used B5200 instead of Blanc for the snow.  I changed the side wall to a darker green and used a brighter yellow for the windows.

I haven't got a photo of C to show you so that will have to wait until next time!  I will also be recommencing Book of Spells tonight for avid fans of that design.  It took a little break while I stitched the 12 Days of Christmas and then Mona Lisa (that 3799 fill-in was rather dull!).  But now I can return to my spooky love.

Finally, speaking of love - it's sign-up time for the Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop which takes place on Valentine's Day.  Full details can be found on this post but basically you email a photo of something suitable for a lovely friend and I send you a photo from a mystery friend which you post on your blog to wait for your Secret Stitching Sweetheart to find you from the list of participants on my blog.  Have a look at last year's Hop to see how it all worked:

Friday 15 January 2016

Gifted Gorgeousness January Link-Up Post

Welcome to the first Gifted Gorgeousness link-up of the year!  The link-up date will continue to be the 15th of each month but I will keep the linky open until the end of each month so you have plenty of time to join in.

The format remains EXACTLY the same as last year, if it ain't broke then don't fix it!  The "rules" are on the Sign Up Page but basically anything you have which was a gift from someone or is going to be a gift for someone is eligible.  Some shoehorners also included free charts which are a gift from the designer!

Most of the participants are cross stitchers but we did have quilters, knitters and crocheters joining in last year so other crafts are quite welcome to link up too.

In 2015 we had 66 people sign-up but unfortunately 11 of them didn't actually manage a single post!
The remaining 55 people made 350 posts between them, an average of 6 posts each.
The year started off with over 40 posts a month but slowed down to 20 by December, an average of 29 posts per month.
There were 7 people who linked up every single month.
Some people were usually among the first to link-up and Gillie was usually tail-end Charlie!

I used the random number generator to pick a number between 1 and 350 then worked out who that was from the spreadsheet.  The names were listed in the order people signed up on the original sign-up page and you got one entry for every post you linked-up in 2015.
Then I used the random number generator to pick a number between 1 and 7 so everyone with a full house got the chance to win the second prize.

The two winners are:

(for her April post)


(for posting every month)

Congratulations to your both.  Gwen donated a Big Box of Charts last year so I will be sorting them into two piles and posting them out very soon.


So what have I been stitching this last month for GG?

The focus for this week has been the letter C from Nora Corbett for my Godmother's Grand-daughter (my God-Niece?) who is also my Second Cousin Once Removed because my Godmother is my Mum's First Cousin.  Is that clear or would you like a family tree drawn?  Let's just say a 5 year old girl!

stitched on 32 count Oceanic Fantasia from Crafty Kitten

I bought the chart and the fabric with the voucher Alicia the Crafty Princess sent me for my Birthday so that's double GG points for this one.

Prior to that was Just Nan Counting Bats, a gift from the lovely Mel along with the threads:

Before that was CCN's Poinsettia Place, a giveaway prize from Gaynor:

(the dark line is because the fabric was folded under when I scanned it, it's not a mark)

And right at the beginning of the GG month, I completed this gift from Linda - Sunflowers and Acorns by Beehive Needleworks:

stitched on 35 count linen

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 "January Update" so I can easily see who has linked up this month.
And link to the actual post, not just your blog.  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, I will be running the Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop on Valentine's Day.

Secret Stitching Sweetheart Blog Hop
It's really very simple, all you have to do is email me a picture of something you have stitched which is suitable for a stitching friend on Valentine's Day.  It could be a heart, or a pair of cute creatures, or the word "love" or anything which warms your heart. Really anything you think a fellow stitcher would like to receive in her email Inbox.   It can be something you've stitched in the past or something you've made especially for this year.  It could also be quilted or sewn this year as I know some of my followers do other crafts too.

Send me the email by 10th February.

When I have all the emails I will randomise them and send one to each participant on 13th February.  Then on 14th February you must post the picture you receive onto your blog under the heading
 Secret Stitching Sweetheart. 
There will be a list on my blog of everyone joining in, so check out all the blogs and find out who got your picture and identify yourself  in their comments as their
Secret Stitching Sweetheart. 

Does that make sense to everyone?  I hope so!

If you'd like to be involved then leave a comment on this post, I'll be putting little reminders up from time to time and will email on 9th February to make sure you send the pic in time.  

Sunday 10 January 2016

January TUSAL


It's TUSAL time again, the first one of the year!  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 tin posing with the current stitching project:

The new project is one of Nora Corbett's Alphabet Fairies.  This one is C.  I'm using a 32 count Murano called Oceanic Fantasia from Crafty Kitten.  I chose this fabric because it will work well with S and also because C features a solid stitched background which none of the rest do.  I'm not a fan of solid stitching so it makes sense to use a lovely fabric instread.

I also debated which threads to use.  The letters are all charted in Crescent Colours (now called Classic Colourworks) but you don't use much of some of the colours so I wondered whether it was worth buying them.  A friend sent me some she wasn't using when I started J so I looked at those and realised I needed a few of them for C too.  So I sat down and made a list, nearly all the colours feature in at least 3 of the designs I have (C, E, J and S) so it was definitely worth getting those.

I tried a new-to-me supplier - Patchwork Rabbit and I have to say I was very impressed.  I ordered them Friday lunchtime and they were with me less than 24 hours later.  All nicely wrapped in a waterproof envelope because it does rain here and the postman will carry the mail in his hands on the way to our door.

I had another new start and a partial finish on Friday this weekend.  My loose rotation said to start the design for the Christmas Ornie SAL blog on the second Friday of the month.  Like the Hallowe'en Ornie SAL blog I have a cunning plan to enable me to join in with the SAL and complete a larger piece at the same time!  Here is my finish for the theme Music:

And here is the chart cover:

I'm using an amazing fabric called Country Mocha by Willow Fabrics.  It's a 35 count linen and I love it!  The Christmas Cubes fit a 100mm x 100mm cube when they are done.  I'm using the recommended DMC except for the snow which is B5200 instead of Blanc.  It just pops better on a neutral fabric.  I also changed the words Jingle Bells to 814 instead of Black.  It's Christmas not Hallowe'en!

Now, do you remember I mentioned I was going to be reviewing something which you don't usually associate with art work?  Well, it's not artisan soap and it's not toilet roll!  It is teatowels!  Look at these:

These are based on brooch designs and would make great stitching motifs.

I'm sure many of you recognise this design from the Bothy Threads kit?

And my favourite of all:

All three of these teatowels come from the lovely people at All Tea Towels.  A name which does exactly what it says!  They sell teatowels, from the comic to the fine art, there really is something for everyone on their website.  The website is nicely arranged in categories and easy to browse too.

The parcel arrived quickly and very well wrapped in waterproof plastic (remember the postman?) with the teatowels themselves wrapped in tissue paper inside.  They are nice and thick, two are 100% cotton and the Dictionary design is a cotton/linen blend.  Not sure of the count LOL.

I can't comment on what they are like for drying up the dishes because they are just too nice for that!!  I intend to make two of them into totebags and the third will be a little gift for someone I know.

The website gives some suggestions as to what you use them for (other than drying dishes) and there's even a link to a blog called My Tea Towels dedicated to tea towels!  Would you believe it?  And you thought cross stitch was a niche subject!  (Actually the blogger is really interesting, she tells some great anecdotes about where she bought her collection of teatowels.)

Anyway, I can thoroughly recommend the All Tea Towels website if you are searching for something a little out of the ordinary as a gift for that person who has everything.  I bet they haven't got a Tunnock's Teacake Wrapper teatowel!

Disclaimer - I was not paid to write this review and I am not affliated with the company.  I did, however, receive three lovely teatowels free of charge.

Back to stitching.  The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted the addition to the Mona Lisa teatowel.  A very small stitched Mona Lisa.  This one is a freebie from Mr. X-Stitch back in July and I've been stitching it off and on ever since then.  I'm stitching over one on 28 count evenweave.  That's a petite 28 needle for scale.  I've done all the interesting bits and just have to fill in with 3799 for about 20 rows!

Finally, the next Blog Hop will be the Secret Stitching Sweetheart for Valentine's Day.  Full details to follow or you can look at last year's to see how it works and sign up by leaving a comment.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

First Finish of the Year!

And also the first post since November which isn't for a SAL or other event!

Actually this was for a SAL but not a "regular posting on your blog" type of SAL.  This is Plum Street Samplers 12 Days of Christmas:

I made a collage!

I first saw these designs in Just Cross Stitch magazine which published First Day and Second Day in 2011 and 2012.  I liked them but the series never continued.  Until now!  Following numerous requests for the series Paulette decided to make them the Mystery SAL for 2015.

She charted them for four colours; red, green, black and gold.  But I thought it would be fun to use just red and one accent colour for each day.  I started with pear for First Day and continued to choose a suitable colour for each day.  I also continued with the quirk of having one motif a different colour to the rest of them where possible,

I stitched them over one on some 25 count creamish linen I had.  The plan is to scrapbook them across two matching pages I have already bought.  I quite like them as circles now I've done the collage so maybe I'll figure out an easy way to make them into circles! 

Christine and I had a very interesting discussion about the song because we both learned the version where there were 9 Pipers, 10 Drummers, 11 Ladies and 12 Lords rather than this version.  Some internet research revealed that we were taught the original version from at least 1780 (and no, we are not that old!).  They remained that way until 1906 when the modern version was sent to music by Frederic Austen.  

If you look at this Wiki entry you will see some rather strange versions have been used - Wiki - 12 Days of Christmas.  I'm not sure I want to stitch Bears a Baiting or Asses Racing!

The origin of the rhyme seems to be a "forfeit" song where you had to remember all the verses or pay a forfeit.  There is an old wives tale that it was invented as a catchism for persecuted practioners of the Christian faith with the various items representing various Christian themes.  But as the symbols use the 1906 version this seems rather unlikely!

There is however a song called A New Dial which does teach numbered religious themes which is reproduced on this website - Snopes - 12 Days of Christmas so it would seem that the two have become confused over the years.


As is traditional for New Year's Day I had a new start and a partial finish on the same day.  My project for the Hallowe'en Ornie SAL Blog will be Just Nan's Counting Bats.  As luck would have it the bands fit perfectly with our themes this year.  Well, considering I chose the themes, it's not really much of a surprise!

Here is the first band made into a collage with some of the bats cropped and rotated to look different:

stitched on 28 count lilac linen.

I've also been working away on a little Christmas Cottage called Poinsettia Place by CCN:

stitched on 32 count Twilight Blue Permin linen

I started this last year on Day 3 of the DUCJC and didn't pick it up again until December!  There's quite a bit of white snow, red in the top border, a pine branch bottom border and the two flower pots to go.  I do like the way the white pops against the blue fabric.

Finally, I've been sent something unusual to review.  It's a product in daily use but not one you might think of when it comes to artwork.  I shall let you ponder and wonder until I do my next post!