Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Long weekend stitching

This was a long weekend in the UK... I took full advantage and booked the rest of the week off work!! We've been away for most of the weekend, and got back home a few hours ago.

On Friday night we enjoyed a fabulous curry with friends at our local restaurant.On Saturday we went to Sheffield for a BBQ at Kay's - it was fantastic to catch up with the Sheffield crowd - many of whom we've not seen since Kay's BBQ last August!!

At about 6 we left and headed south to Birmingham to see Eddy's parents. Last week Paul went into full-time care, and we wanted to see how he was settling in, and how Margaret was adapting to the change. All seemed good, and it's very obvious that Margaret has made the right decision - Paul's dementia has reached a level where he really needs 24 hour care. He seems to be settling in OK at the home - although he's already lost his slippers and acquired someone else's glasses (thankfully EVERYTHING is named)... He's there on a 1-month trial, hopefully everything will go well, and he'll be settled there permanently - it's quite nice for a home, with lots going on, and very clean.

On Monday we went to Coughton Court, just south of Birmingham - it's the family seat of the Throckmortons, who looked after Mary Queen of Scots while she was imprisoned. There was a chemise on display reputed to have been the one she wore when she was beheaded. The lace edging was wonderful, and it is embroidered with something in Latin about Mary being a martyr - sorry, can't remember what exactly, but the cross stitches were so tiny and neat. Although it's probably of the period I have my doubts that she really wore it when she was beheaded (it was too clean for one thing...), but it was fantastic to look at. I also had a naughty buy - a lovely metal two-seater garden bench, which was on sale... we'll have to put it together tomorrow!

And now for the stitching part of this post... I took 2 pieces with me - the LHN ornament I started last week, and Fantasy Triptych. We spent Sunday afternoon (which was quite cold) and all of the evenings watching movies, so I made great progress... I finished the ornament, and did loads of the background on FT:

Winter Sampler, (c) Little House Needleworks
Stitched in Weeks and GAST on Sparklies' Parchment

Fantasy Triptych, (c) Teresa Wentzler

Finally, I had a wonderful surprise when I got home and checked blogger - I won a giveaway on Heidi's blog!!!! She is giving away some amazing beaded scissor fobs... I'm so excited!!!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Jo the crafting butterfly...

Do you ever get in one of those moods where although everything you are doing is fun, you just can't stick with it? Well that's been me this last week...

After the last post I struggled for a few days to settle down to anything in particular... I did a bit of knitting on and off - my scarf is now 75cm long, about half way - which is good as it's freezing today, I think I'm going to need it sooner rather than later!

At the weekend I was in the mood for quilting again. But I was worried I didn't have enough of the paler shades... so I had a quick look online for quilting shops, and realised that there was a real brick-and-mortar (well, stone-and-mortar, this being Yorkshire) quiliting shop not 10 mins drive away... (I tend to buy myself quilitng supplies when I see them - as I don't generally actually do any quiliting, something I am trying to remedy). So I popped over to the Skep Knitting and Quilting Shop, where I got 3 fat quarters - one in white with lilac spots for the sampler quilt I am attempting to make (ahem), and two lovely bright ones to use as cover cloths for my lace - having stolen my cover cloths back from my lace pillows for use in the supposed quilt (it WILL be a quilt, it WILL be a quilt).

That night we watched Wallander in Swedish. Brilliant I thought, I can read subtitles while knitting. Except I can't very well, managed to get the knitting going the wrong way, and realised after I'd done about 6-8cm of knitting. I can confirm however that I can unpick knitting while reading subtitles....

Sunday I made a single block for the quilt, having spent most of the day thinking about the design and colour combinations (again).

Sunday night and Monday I picked up Fantasy Triptych. Which I am loving again... have made some good progress with the green:

Tonight, however, I fancied a change - and started the LHN ornament from last years JCS special issue.

Yup, I am a self-certified crafting butterfly...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

A perfect weekend

This weekend has been so lovely. And it's hard to say what exactly made it perfect... we did very little, but achieved a lot, and were very chilled out all of the time. Plus I did LOADS of crafts... and not all cross stitch!

On Friday night I finished Sunflower charms, and picked up Peacock firescreen. We ate a veggie lasagne - courgette and swiss chard - with roast potatoes, and most of the veggies were homegrown.

Saturday I did the food shopping, started Pooh and Eeyore, I blogged and did some knitting in front of Wallander (the Swedish version, which I LOVE. I can knit and read subtitles, a useful new form of multitasking...). Eddy did loads of tidying in the garden. We watched a movie. I sorted through my wardrobe - only 6 items that are too small, and lots that are too big have been moved to the spare wardrobe ready to be given to charity or part exchange for money off (a new Monsoon initiative, which I can't wait to take advantage of). I don't have many clothes, but at least I know which ones fit. I still need to sort through the shelves though... many t-shirts!

Sunday I did some more on Pooh and Eeyore, Dave came over and fixed out dripping tap (this has been an epic tale of non-tap fixing until now...), we harvested artichokes and potatoes, and ate artichokes and peas, Greek-style roast potatoes, feta and bread for lunch - and ate on the patio, for once it wasn't cold and rainy. I pulled out some quilting stuff and made 3 blocks - my second attempt at quilting and much more successful than last time! I took Eddy to the station (not so good) then came home and cooked some new weight watchers recipes - for tea tonight and for tomorrow.

So for not doing much I was pretty busy! Now I just need to pick a movie and a craft and veg out until bedtime. Until then, here are some photos of the results of my labour (none of the knitting though - I've now done 45cm of the scarf, but it looks pretty similar to last time!):

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A sunny happy dance!

The rest of this week has really been a wind-down after the late night garter finish! On Wednesday I went to weight watchers - no change for me, but my friend Louise got to goal - woo hoo!!! We celebrated with a bottle of cava after class, and a good natter! (I was too tired for anything more complicated!)

On Thursday night I finished the last few letters on Sunflower charms:

Sunflower Charms, Blackbird Designs

I was feeling uninspired by my WIPS. I did a few lengths on Peacock Firescreen (Barbara Thompson), but I'm just not enjoying stitching it, even though it's really pretty. So last night I did a stash dive, and pulled out a classic Pooh design of Pooh pinning Eeyore's tail back on... I've not done much yet, so no pic to share

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

We will get to the wedding on time!!

Late last night (about 11.30pm) I finally finished Krista's wedding garter:

It took a really long time to get all of the loose ends neatly sewn away. Where I persevered with the magic threads, this was relatively easy - after I'd pinned lots more of the lace down and got the jumble of threads sorted they worked brilliantly. But in my despair last week I'd cut a fair few out - those threads had to be sewn into the lace by hand once it was off the pillow. It took over 30 mins just to get all the pins out....

Once it was off the pillow I used some blue ribbon and elastic underneath to gather it. I tied the knot in the elastic very loosely, so Krista can adjust it to fit:

At the weekend I'd seen a lovely box in a card shop that was perfect to wrap the present... but it looked lonely in the box. So I had a quick look in my wrapping paper pile in the hopes I'd find some tissue paper. Amazingly I had some in dark blue, and with the addition of a scrunched up sheet, the parcel looked really lovely (just what a bride-to-be should receive in the post):

This morning I texted Krista to see where I should post it to - I was so worried it would end up in a Royal Mail depot. I dashed to the post office and sent it special delivery (to arrive before 1pm tomorrow - at Dave's workplace)... just in time - Krista and Dave leave for their wedding in the Seychelles on Friday!!! There's nothing like cutting it fine...

Note to self - don't volunteer to make lace garters to a tight deadline. Hmmm, I seem to remember saying that when Helene got married. And Jen. And Katy...

Monday, 9 August 2010


I've been having a lovely weekend. On Saturday we went to Hebden Bridge and then Haworth, for a nice pootle around some lovely shops. I found a shop selling AMAZING light shades, and may actually have found a wall light I actually like (I hate the one in our living room, but haven't been able to find one I particularly like anywhere, and I've been looking on and off for over a year!).

Saturday evening we went for a scrummy curry at the local Aagrah's, and watched movies. I picked up my knitting, and have now done about 1/5 of my scarf:

Sunday we went to Harlow Carr, had a fabulous lunch at Betty's, and really enjoyed exploring the gardens. And were all inspired by quite a few things... shame our garden isn't bigger! That evening we cooked roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for tea, and sat down in front of Sherlock. I worked on sunflower charms:

All in all a fabulous weekend, full of fun, and most importantly a real break for Margaret. We've just dropped her off at the station, and my plan is to be crafty for the rest of my day off - and maybe, just maybe, I'll achieve a happy dance!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Erm, knitting...

I'm having a lovely week - taken wed-fri off work, and monday next week too. Apart from the occasionally flurry of housework and food shopping, I've been busy being crafty, and enjoying food with friends.

I've finished making the lace for Krista's garter, and am busy joining it:

Heidi asked about the 'magic threads' - ordinarily I'd use either a fine crochet hook or a lazy susan to make the sewings in to join the 2 ends, but this time I'm using magic threads. When I started the lace I added loops of coloured thread looped through each pair of bobbin. Now I'm at the end, all I need to do for each sewing in is find the right magic thread (sometimes easier said than done), pass one bobbin through the loop, pull the magic thread and voila, the thread on the bobbin makes a loop through the start of the lace, ready to pass the other bobbin of the pair through, and then tie off. So no poking about with a crochet hook, which I'm dreadful at. I also tried to use magic thread to neatly sew the loose ends back through the lace, but found I'd not perfected my technique yet - so I gave up on them, and will have to use a needle and thread for that once I've got it off the pillow. This doesn't sound very clear at all... maybe I'll take some photos for an quick tutorial!

When I've needed a break from the lace, I've been working on Sunflower Charms - I'm about 1/2 way now, and am loving the wonderful summery colours. Shame the weather here hasn't been warm and sunny to match!

Today Margaret came to stay - we picked her up from Leeds station at lunchtime, and had a sandwich at a nearby cafe. After a short shopping spree, where I got a fabulous pair of trousers in the sale at Monsoon, and Margaret bought an AMAZING black jacket embroidered with cream chrysanthemums for a wedding we're going to in January, we headed back towards home - but carried on to Texere yarns in Bradford. I've been trying to get Margaret - who is a keen knitter - there for years. After much oooh-ing and aaah-ing, Margaret bought a pattern for a cardigan and some beige cotton yarn for herself, and Pam Allen's 'Scarf Style', some double knitting wool and knitting needles for me. Yup, I'm dabbling in knitting again.... I can knit, and made a wonderful cable knit jumper as a teenager... but I don't knit much now. A couple of years ago I made some dressy scarves using fancy wool, but it was all just plain knitting - and I wanted to try something fancier... having Margaret here meant I could ask questions when stuck.

So I'm knitting a scarf in feathers and fans (although just after taking this photo Margaret noticed I'd made a mistake, and missed out a row of knit. Hmmm, maybe I need to concentrate more :)

Food-wise, Sonia and Louise came over on Wednesday (allegedly also for lace making, but we didn't really do any) - we had green beans and potatoes, a lovely Greek dish; Thursday Sarah and Kat came over - we had chard paneer (our version of sag paneer, but with swiss chard, not spinach) and chana marsala (chickpea curry - our neighbour's recipe); tonight we had Moroccan chicken and Moroccan vegetable casserole. Best of all, each meal included some veggies from our garden.

Thanks for popping by, and happy stitching.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

August goals

I've not got any photos to share - I've been focusing on the garter this week, and as it's a repetitive pattern, the photo would look the same as in the last post about it!

Because of the need to focus on the lace garter, I kept my July goals simple:

1) work on at least 2 WIPS - yes - Fantasy Triptych and Sunflower Charms
2) complete 25 inches of lace - I've done just over 24 inches, but my lace goal has changed, which I'll explain in a bit...
3) stitch an ornament - yes, I stitched Santa's Buddies
I also worked on Tulip Scissor Keeper by Sue Hawkins

August goals:
1) finish Krista's garter
2) work on Fantasy triptych
3) finish Sunflower charms
4) work on another WIP
5) stitch an ornament

I'm going to finish the garter this week. When I started it, I asked Krista to measure her thigh. She emailed back 19 inches. About 10 days ago I got thinking, and decided that sounded quite big for Krista (who is about a UK size 6-8/US size 2-4). So I measured my thigh, and got 21 inches. After stewing about this for a few days I asked Krista to double check the measurement - which is now 17 inches (as she said herself - either she can't use a tape measure or she's lost a ton of weight very quickly!!). So 1.5 x 17 is 25.5 inches of lace. As the pattern repeat is close to an inch I decided to make a little more than 25.5 inches - so 26... which is 2 inches and ONLY 2 PATTERN REPEATS from where I am now... the end is in sight!!!!!

I'm hoping to finish making the lace on Wednesday, ready to join the ends, sew the threads into the lace and add some elastic and ribbon. I'm trying to use 'magic threads' to make all of this easier - basically I have coloured loops of thread worked into my lace, so at the end I just pass a bobbin through a loop to pull the bobbin thread through the start of the lace, tie the pair off, then use more magic threads to loop each thread again and pull it back through the worked lace. Simple. In theory. I've never tried it on something of this scale before though... wish me luck!!!!