Sunday, 31 May 2009

A weekend of sunshine

It's been so lovely this weekend that I had to spend as much time outside as possible! We spent most of the time in the garden, either doing some general maintenance, trying to reduce the number of pots on the patio by planting a few things (getting better but we have a long way to go) and drinking endless glasses of water and cups of tea. And the ice cream van conveniently passed by each days - I think we age ice cream van regulars! As we didn't do anything major I don't have any photos of big changes, so I thought I'd share this lovely bearded iris. We didn't even know it was there - although we probably had leaves last year it certainly didn't flower!

There's another one coming in to bud at the end of the garden - I'm curious to see what colour that one will be!

I did manage a little stitching, finishing the back of my top secret project, and also back stitching Elliot and Buttons Wedding Day. I was hoping to finish this in May, maybe if I do nothing but watch TV and bs this afternoon I'll make it, but I doubt it! It's an anchor kit, which means the bs NEVER seems to go in at a corner of a stitch. The finished effect is lovely, but it's a PITA to do... Anyway, here's a (terrible) photo of where I'm up to so far:

Happy stitching!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A tale about progress...

..on the mermaid's tail!

If you remember, I'd done quite a bit on Waiting for Ships before my trip to Chicago, and while I was over the pond I picked up the Krenik Braid I was missing for the tail. Two nights ago I finally picked her up again, and filled in the gaps - I think you'll agree she looks much, much better all filled out!!

In an attempt to keep on target for goals I plan on stitching a back for my top secret project tonight, so I can finish it over the weekend... which leaves me a little lace making (no problem, that's what Thursdays are for!) and some more bs on Elliot and Buttons. I've done about a 1/4 of the bs so far - I'll try and remember to take a photo to share!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Fantasy Triptych has a border!

Well it's taken me FAR longer than I anticipated, but I finished the border of FT last night (less the beading and the bs I need to do after I have stitched the maid and knight panels!):

This is the first time I've done a plaited cross stitch, I think they turned out OK! (as always, Teresa's wonderful stitching diagrams were perfectly clear):

I'm enjoying the long weekend here, we had got plans for a friend to visit but I was feeling ill on Friday (well, most of last week really), so we cancelled. I had taken Friday off work anyway, to get the house sorted (2 trips for work - to London and York, meant I spent 1 night at my sister's, then the next 2 nights I got home at 10.30pm - I knew I couldn't manage work on the Friday after that!!). So on Friday I slept, on Saturday I did very little other than watch TV and stitch. Yesterday I felt much better and poddled around the garden a little (Eddy spent most of Saturday and Sunday building ANOTHER raised bad - dry stone wall this time!!). I plan on helping in the garden again today, but not too much, just in case. Hopefully I'll get plenty of time to stitch... not sure what to pick up yet!!

Thanks for your lovely comments about the lace heart - I learnt such a lot on this tiny piece - Christine is a very thorough teacher! Theresa asked about how I got the leaves so tight - here's a Christine Springett tip: work the leaves (or tallys) so they are 1/3 longer than the patten suggests, put up the pin, tension the passive threads and voila, a lovely tight leaf.. it really does work.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A lace happy dance

Last week I finished the small heart motif I started at Christine Springett's lace course:

I've also taken a photo of my first few stitches for Coffin Buzz:

I'm about to leave for a quick research trip to London, Coffin Buzz is in my bag in case I get bored of marking essays on the train!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Two new starts

Yesterday I was browsing MJ's blog, and really fell in love with her Mother's Day start - Coffin Buzz by Plum Street Samplers.

The phrase on the sampler really rung true:

Here lies my sleeping body as lifeless as can be.
If thou shouldst bring me coffee I would spring to life with glee.

After all, I'm an archaeologist who works with skeletons day in day out, plus at work I have a reputation for being a bit of a coffee fiend - if there's none in the pot at 11am I'm not a happy bunny, and I schedule all my meetings around the 11am coffee break! (I'll share an amusing coffee related story when I have some more time).

So I went off in search of the pattern, and was delighted to see it was a freebie!

Last night was our lace night, Sonia and Louise came over to mine. I was too tired to think about lace making, so instead I dug through my stash for suitable fabbie (32ct Summer's End, a Sugar Maple Fabric which I bought of Kate from Sparklies when she was having a stash clearout). We all looked at several different floss options, and decided WDW 'Chestnut' worked well with the fabric. And then I started stitching. There's nothing like a spur of the moment start is there? Sadly I don't have a photo yet.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

A story about a tea cup....

One thing about the trip to Stratford that I forgot to tell you about was the tea cup. After dinner on the Friday night Sonia and I went for a wander around the town. We were pretty close to the graveyard where Shakespeare is buried when I saw a tea cup and saucer on a wall. I laughed, said 'how very English' then we wandered on. About 15 minutes later as we were walking along a road parallel to the river I saw ANOTHER tea cup and saucer... and this one had a label on it...

I thought perhaps someone was having a treasure hunt and it was a clue or something, so I took a photo and went over for a closer look:

The label said 'if you find me keep me. Have a lovely day. Send your story in a tea cup to... (can't remember the email address)' and invited us to 'visit them' in the marquee by the river for the Stratford literature festival. I decided I would keep the tea cup, as it was quite fun. But I did feel like a bit of a numpty carrying it around for the rest of our walk, and then taking it back to our B&B in a taxi... I never did write a story about a tea cup, but I'm not very good at creative writing! But I did have a lovely day!

The following evening we passed the marquee after dinner. There was a rather stylishly dressed woman sat by the entrance with a bookstand when we arrived and I said 'we found one of your tea cups...'. She had no idea what I was rambling on about. We popped inside but it was quite late and they were beginning to pack up. There were lots more tea cups, here one sale for £5 each (made me smile, I'd never have bought one, but a free tea cup with baby plant is fun). We looked at some lovely artwork from a fairy tale, then left as it was clear it was time to leave!

When we left we got chatting to the lady by the entrance again. I can't remember all the details but we talked a bit about the Ilkley literature festival (which Sonia has been to) and the lady mentioned having met Salmon Rushdie at a literature festival (I thought she was name-dropping, but I could be wrong) but being a little embarrassed that she'd never read any of his books all the way through (and I felt smug that I'd persevered and read all of Midnight's Children - good book, but I don't think I'd read another of his, too heavy going for my tired brain when I get chance to read).

Anyway we said goodbye and wandered off. At which point I had a funny feeling maybe we'd been talking to a famous author who was doing a book signing or something and we'd just rambled inanely at her. Or maybe she was just a regular book lover/seller. We didn't ask her name so we'll never know!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Lacemaking in Aston Cantlow

Last weekend's lacemaking course was great fun. We drove down to Stratford on Friday after work and had a lovely meal at Bella Italia. Saturday we drove to Aston Cantlow (a very pretty little village) along some lovely country lanes with lots of 'hedge-froth' - Hawthorn blossom, cow parsley etc - I love this time of year. We also saw lots of lovely deep blue bluebells in the verges.

Aston Cantlow is very pretty, and it was fun to do a lacemaking course in a timber-framed village hall. How very English!!

I was taking a Bedfordshire lace course with Christine Springett, and Sonia was learning how to turn lace bobbins with David Springett and Stuart Johnson. The latter was exceptionally dangerous, as I love Stuart's bobbins, and have a habit of buying lots of them...

Christine's style of making Bedforshire lace is non-traditional - she's adopted ideas from Cluny lace, which essentially mean that the passive pairs in a trail continue in the trail all the way round - they don't enter and exit at will to make leaves, plaits etc - so this finished effect is more 'perfect'.

I started with a fairly simple piece, to get the hang of Christine's way of doing things, and did about half of it. I have to say I've never managed to get such lovely fat leaves before!

The coloured threads in the photo are 'magic threads', which are used at the end to make the finishing simpler, and the knots neater. We'll see how that goes when I finish the piece!

It was soon clear I'd undersold my abilities when I answered Christine's questionnaire before the class - the patterns she sent me were very pretty, but not very challenging. Luckily I was determined enough to try something more difficult to bring along a second pricking (the card pattern you make lace on) of a butterfly, designed by Christine, and most of the necessary wound bobbins. I started it with an hour to go on the Saturday, then worked on it exclusively on the Sunday - I'm really pleased with my progress, and even attempted rolled tallies (which you can't see as the are rolled UNDER the lace you are making. Won't know how successful I was until I finish... There's the tip of a wing under and amongst all of these pins:

I should say that Sonia had great fun turning bobbins, and came away with 3 lovely pairs.

In other lace making news(!), Louise finished her Bedfordshire lace project when she was at a different lace making course the previous weekend. She went to Knuston Hall wither her mum, where the class is taught by Barbara Underwood - a big proponent of making lace in the traditional way - it'll be fun to swap notes and compare pieces, but last night I was far too tired to make our usual lace making evening. Anyway, here are some photos of a lovely cuff that Louise has made. I think she'd started it when I first met her... so it took quite a while really! She took an old pricking and had a go to see how it turned out. Very pretty, but she's not tempted to make a pair!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Happy May!

Well I had a fabulous time over the weekend, the lace making course was great fun. I haven't managed to get any good photos of my lace yet though, so I'll report on that later!

Given we are already hurtling though May, I thought I should review my goals. For April I said:
1) complete xs on Elliot and Buttons yes
2) finish FT border (but not bs) I did some, but there's lots more to go...
3) work on Waiting for ships didn't touch it
4) stitch a small (top secret) gift I did about 1/2 in April and finished it on Monday
5) anything else I feel like just some lace

For May I plan to:
1) make progress on the border of FT
2) bs Elliot and Buttons
3) do the finishing on my top secret project
4) stitch on another WIP
5) finish the small lace project I started on Saturday
5) make progress on my other 2 lace projects!