Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas Stitching

Argh, time has been flying past at great speed, and I've had far too much to do - work, social life, stitching commitments - which means my little corner of the net has been a tad neglected of late, for which I am very sorry - I do hope I still have readers! I'm also extremely behind my blog reading - I doubt I'll be able to catch up with all of your lovely posts, but my stitchy friends are often in my mind, if not on the computer screen.

I won't bore you with the work, socially I've been up and down the country visiting friends and relatives, out for fabulous meals on FAR too many occasions, to some very fabulous parties and sat and ate a lot at home and with family. The post-Christmas weight watchers meeting will NOT be fun!!! But the eating and drinking was, and I like to think I have sensible priorities here...bring on the port and cheese ;) I'm currently at my parents, and looking forward to a lovely New Years party with my school friends.

As for stitching - as usual I over committed myself... I signed up for the TWCOE again, and got everything stitched and posted in time (just)... then failed miserably to post the photos on the TWBB. I'm posting here first, as now webshots has changed I'm not sure how to post pics on a BB. Hopefully a link to here will help.  I did take photos of both of the ornies I made, but one of them must have been taken with my camera (which has had a dead battery for 6 weeks, so I used my photo card in a work camera, and switched it back, then didn't bring my camera with me as I couldn't remember where the charger was... and that's how stupidly busy I've been - no time to charge a camera up!). I did remember to take photos of the ornies I received as I was dashing out of the house to come to my parents on the 27th, thankfully.

So here they are - 3/4 of my TWCOE experience this year:

Unicorn from Fantasy Sampler, which I sent to Jen.

Colour variation of the corner motif from Peacock Tapestry, from Measi. I love the blues in this one.

I'm not sure who the designer is, but I also received this wonderful ornie. And I'm really forgetful, so I can't remember who sent it to me [edited to add that this came from Natty].  The ornie is on my tree and the card is up at home... both of which are 90 miles away. Grrrr, must ask Santa for more brain cells next year.

Thank you both for sending me such wonderful ornaments. I also sent A Partridge in a Pear Tree from the JCS ornie magazine to Natty - photo to follow when I get back home ;)

Edited to say that the photograph is now here:

So why all the chaos? During the Olympics I did a lot of quilting (we had 2 weeks off work, a staycation, and the second week coincided with the first week of the Olympics. As well as watching the TV non stop all week, I finished a lap quilt, and picked up the purple sampler quilt I started years ago. I decided I'd finish it for my sister's Christmas present. I also decided to trial quilt as you go, as I have a small machine and a small table, so manhandling a large quilt is tricky. Of course none of this went to plan... We went away on the 16th Dec to Nottingham ( had tickets to see Kate Rusby, and I could work from Eddy's office for my last 3 days of work before Christmas), then to Birmingham to see his family. At that point I'd JUST started to stitch the ready quilted blocks together. And I'd not bought the fabric for the borders yet. QAYG involves A LOT of hand stitching, so I took what needed hand stitching with me, and got that done fine. We returned to Leeds to find that my local quilting shop had closed for the Christmas vacation - so we lost an afternoon driving round trying to find suitable fabric. And then I found that although the initial hand stitching was quick, the long seams were not. On Christmas eve I'd not quite got the main quilt top together, never mind the borders and the binding! Christmas day I didn't touch the quilt... it didn't seem like a Christmassy thing to do, would have been rude to ignore Eddy, we needed the table to eat dinner and I had 2 days to get it done, what was there to worry a out???? Boxing day I started quilting at 9.30 am and finished at 12.45 am... with short breaks to eat. And I still had one long seam to hand stitch and the binding to do... We weren't leaving until 4pm on the 27th.. Plenty of time??? Hmmm, maybe not! I still had to hand stitch the back of the binding - that's another 4 long seams, as well as all the machine sewing for the binding. In  finished the quilt at 5 pm, packed in 20 mins flat (leaving camera at home), and spend down the motorway. My sister was a bit annoyed we were late as she was cooking dinner and was very hungry when we turned up at 7.05 pm... but forgave all when she opened her present. Good job too!

I took this photo with my phone, standing on my mum's bed, just before 'lil sis left to stay at her boyfriends for New Year.... I love the final thing, and yes, she was worth the effort!

And for the next few days I'm barely touching a needle. Hopefully when I get home the hole in my finger will have healed. Maybe I should invest in a thimble??? And next year, if it's not finished by the end of November, I'm going to BUY presents instead of make them. Yeah, I believe me too.....

Happy Stitching!!!

Friday, 2 November 2012


This is where I have got to in the pear block. I took a different approach this time. Rather than stitching a leaf at a time I stitched all of one colour across the block, starting with the single colours and moving on to blends. It seemed to be much faster, think I'll take that approach again. Next week I'll start on the actual fruit - I'm away this weekend, and have a new start in my bag as a travelling piece!

Oh, and as a Halloween treat, check this cake out. One of my students made it for our weekly 'bone cafe' (they study skeletons, hence the name). Isn't it amazing??? One was chocolate and the other vanilla, and they were both fabulous!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Grey days and grey hills

Well it's definitely autumn now! This weekend our clocks went back an hour, which means it was getting dark at 4.30 this afternoon. The weather has been decidedly grey too - rain, fig, clouds...

Last week I managed to finish Two Grey Hills - I've just pressed it, so here is the happy dance photo:

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Autumnal Apples

Well it's definitely apple season! We've been eating plenty of apple crumbles from our apple trees. Luckily it seems the apples on 'bountiful' are ripening before 'granny smith', which will hopefully extend the season.

It seems appropriate that this week I finished the apples block on fruit bell pull. I've now made a start on the border of the pears block. I've also taken a (late) picture of my ORT jar for the TUSAL. Most of this months orts are from the green apple leaves.

This weekends stitching plans (and all plans) have been hampered by a 3 day migraine. Joy. Thankfully I seem to be past sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises, and my eyes are functioning properly again. So as of early afternoon I've been stitching in front of the TV. Not on a TW, but progressing well with the simple, one colour background of Two Grey Hills. I'm getting ever closer to a happy dance :)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Relaxing weekend

I've just had a lovely relaxing weekend in Nottingham. Saturday we pottered around the town centre and I picked up a couple of bargains in the mid season sales.

Today we went for a lovely walk at Attenborough nature reserve, then sat in front of the Tv and watched the Grand Prix followed by a movie. I picked up 'Night', my Nottingham project, and made great progress. I drove home at 6, and I'm now getting ready for another stitch fest on front of Downton Abbey. I'll be working on TW's Fruit Bellpull, which I picked up again last week.

I hope everyone else had a lovely weekend too.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Rain, rain go away

Brrrrr, I'm not enjoying this cold, rainy weather. We've just had cavity wall insulation installed, so in theory the house should be toasty warm- but I clearly turned down the heat setting a bit too far!

It seems an age since I was in sunny, hot South Africa. Oh, wait... it is quite a while. And silly me hasn't posted any stitchy pics! I took this little kit to South Africa with me, and started it in the plane. The kit is 'two grey hills' by NP Designs. It's a lovely memento of our holiday to the American South West and I've found it hard to put down. I'm getting bored of the grey now, though, so have picked up something more complicated from my WIP pile :)

I've also taken a photo of my ORT jar. I've completely lost track of the TUSAl, but here it is. When do I need to try and post this again????

Anyway, if anyone else is experiencing the wrath of autumn, I guess they are also snuggled up inside, with a hot cuppa and some lovely stitching too! Happy stitching folks.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Under African Skies

This summer I've been lucky enough to return to South Africa for another research trip. I did work my butt off (honest), but I took one day off, and was treated to a trip to Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Marius acted as tour guide, and drive us to the park, showed us around some archaeological sites, and made sure we each had a set of binoculars so we could see the game...

Here is a selection of some of my best snaps. Bear in mind I only have a small point and shoot. And there is clearly a smudge on the lens...

Marius the 'Tour Guide' in the 'man cave' (men's area of the Iron Age site we were visiting - no women allowed!)

The tour group: Jenny's mum (Jane, if I remember correctly, jeesh brain cells, it was just over a week ago) Jolandie, me, Marius, Jenny



Pick nick South Africa style :)

Zebra (honest...)


Impala? I think... or maybe a springbok. We saw a lot of Bok!

Hippos. There were some crocodiles nearby too, but they didn't show up in my snaps (lol, sorry, can't resist)

We also saw a lion and an elephant, and many many other animals, birds a turtle and some fish in the lake, but either my photos were dreadful, or they were so far away that I didn't bother!

Anyway, I'll share a stitchy update soon.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Griffin and dragon

Well I'm back from South Africa. I'll write a post about my trip when I have more time!

I did get to the bottom of Gaelic Banner before I left, and I took a photo, but didn't have time to post it, so here it is:

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Golden griffin

I've finally reached the bottom of Gaelic Banner! This weekend I stitched the golden griffin, and last night I started the green dragon. I'm going away on Saturday and I'd really like to finish this page of the pattern before I go. We'll see!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Lots and lots of green!

The last 2 weeks I have been completely addicted to the Olympics. It's been on pretty much non-stop when I'm at home. I've loved the variety of sports, and it's been fun seeing team GB do well, and the entire country get behind them. Quite surprised by that, to be honest, as we are a nation of cynics and had assumed London 2012 would be dreadful. That said, I've not had to travel anywhere near London, or live through several years worth of tube upgrades in the run up to them - unlike my sister. That said, it turns out that she's been secretly impressed too!

So, what have I been stitching while it was on? Well, to finish of the Amish Star quilt I had to pop out and buy black thread. This was tricky, as I had to time it not to fall during an important sporting event. So I nipped out part way through the women's cycling road race, making sure I'd be back in plenty of time to see the finish. As for the actual quilting - well there were a few points when I had to break off mid pattern to watch a rowing race, or someone swimming.... But I did finish it before the end of my holiday:

Since then I've been focussed on Gaelic Banner. Sadly I was back in work on Monday, so my Olympic watching and stitching time declined rapidly... but I've made great progress. I'm now half way through the cross stitch:

I'm really looking forward to the Closing Ceremony tonight, and to the next stage in stitching - two cute little dragons!

 Goodness knows what I'll find to watch on TV next week...

 Happy stitching x

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Sweetheart Tree happy dance

I made this scissor fob as a birthday present for Margaret. It's the first time I've tried a beaded edge and I was really happy with the results.

Let's Get Fancy Scissor Fob
(c) The Sweetheart Tree

Saturday, 28 July 2012

So many projects, so little time!

The last 3 weeks have flown past.... How have I not found time to write a blog post? To be fair, I was travelling a lot for one of the weeks (7 nights, 6 different hotels/flats/houses...), making it up to Orkney, to Stirling Castle, home, then south to Nottingham and London. So to be fair I didn't stitch or blog much that week, but the other two? I expect when I had spare time I was picking up a needle rather than the laptop!

I've had itchy stitchy fingers of late, finding it hard to settle to one project. Possibly because I've been working so much on Gaelic Banner. It's not that I've fallen out of love with Gaelic Banner, but I think I just needed a change! This is where I've got up to:

Ed and I have taken a fortnight off work - we're now half way through. Very much a staycation. We did go to London last weekend for a party (so happy it was before the Olympics, don't think I could be bothered with the crowds), then my sister came to stay for two days, so we went to Skipton and to Hollingworth Lake - both lovely days out. We might make it to Harlow Carr next week, and Margaret is coming to stay next weekend, but for the most part we are just pottering at home.

Yesterday I finished the Amish Star quilt top. I popped out and bought backing fabric, binding fabric (plain black) and batting, but I've run out of black sewing thread.... So I'll pop out again today. Anyway, here is a photo:

Last night, while watching the Olympics opening ceremony (fabulous and bonkers and VERY British), I started Blackbird Designs' Summer Iris. It's a bit wonky and washed out in the photo though:

Finally, I never shared this happy dance - the final heart of the four Heartstruck Quakers designs. It looks a little washed out here:

Right, it's time for lunch, and there's a needle shouting at me from the arm of the sofa (my 'pin cushion'). Happy stitching folks!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Sleepy fairy

Last weekend we stayed in Nottingham, which meant I spent a lovely Saturday shopping with my mum, and the time vegged in front of the TV stitching on Maria von Scharenburg's 'night'. Soooooo pretty!!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Late TUSAL...

Argh, missed the TUSAL again! Here is a photo, plus a progress pic for Gaelic Banner:

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A few happy dances and some progress

I was looking over my blog and realised I've missed a couple of recent happy dances. How did that happen?

Anyway, here are the pics:

This is the second Heartstruck friends, which I started on my flight out to Oregon. I finished it AGES ago!

This one is the completed Quaker Pin Cushions by Milady's Needle. Still not sure how I'll finish them - the wooden pin cushion bases are really expensive!

It's been really gloomy and rainy here. Not like summer at all. This weekend I've mostly stitched. Yesterday we had friends over for dinner, so between stitching in front of Boardwalk Empire we went food shopping and cooked a Morroccan feast. Today we did a few DIY jobs, and (because the sun finally came out) pottered in the garden - but we couldn't do too much, as the soil was so wet. Clay soil = not great when it rains a lot :(. The plus side is that I've made more progress with Gaelic Banner, I've finished the left side of the current page (2 of 6). So that's 3/12ths done... There are a couple of symbols I have to finish, but I won't need much thread, so I'll stitch them when I get to the same level on the other side.

Right, I have a hot date with Gaelic Banner and a DVD - probably Batman Begins, unless something else jumps off the shelf at me. Happy stitching.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A week in stitches...

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my last post - I was so delighted to win :). I've not had much time for lace making - it just takes a bit too much effort to pick up of an evening, and isn't worth it unless I have a good couple of hours to spare. I'm hoping to see Louise this week - we usually make lace on a Wednesday, but the last few weeks one of us has been busy - I think it's a month since we last caught up!

This week I've made some progress with Gaelic banner:

But to be honest, I really fancied a bit of a change, and a quick stitch. So on Sunday night I started one of the Heartstruck Quakers by Midnight Stitching. I finished it this morning, and after a quick press, it's ready for sharing:

Happy stitching everyone!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Best butterfly

A few weeks ago I went to the working day and AGM for Sheffield Lace Makers. Each year, we have a competition. Any piece of lace completed in the last 12 months can be entered, so I put in my Bedfordshire butterfly, and the Bedfordshire leaf motif that I finished the other month. All of the lace on display was beautiful, some pieces were huge, some pieces quite simple, yet beautifully done with amazing use of colour. Some was modern, some tradition. Some was highly complex, others quite simple in terms of the stitches. What I did NOT expect was to win the Norma Munday Prize!! Norma described my lace as 'exquisite', which I really can't believe. This tells me that the classes I'm taking each May with Christine Springett have really, really improved my technique. Anyway, here are a couple of pics:

I'm still working pretty much exclusively on gaelic banner - I'll post another photo of it soon!

Happy stitching x

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Long weekend stitching

Hmmm, I'm getting bad at this blogging malarkey. I blame my hectic job, and desire to sit and stitch rather than surf the web of an evening!! The last few weeks were especially busy - lots and lots of deadlines, a sudden, and especially nasty throat infection, followed by a week-long conference in Belgium. We got back Friday night, after a week of networking, presenting, drinking beer and eating frites, just in time to enjoy the Jubilee four-day weekend. Mostly I sat on the sofa and stitched. Nuff said. So, what has been holding my attention for the last few weeks? It's Dracolair's Gaelic Banner. I love the beautiful blends in the leaves, and the swirling tendrils of the vines. And, importantly for this weekend, the simple border that I can stitch while watching TV with subtitles :) We finally finished watching the Bridge, possibly two of the best characters on TV for ages. Anyway, this is where I am up to:

I also managed to miss a TUSAL a few weeks back, so here's a catch up photo. Guess where all that green comes from ;)

Happy stitching everyone xx

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

New start

I have, predictably, been a tad busy of late! I have been crafting of an evening and weekend, but only by sacrificing my blogging activities. Which means it is ages since I have visited your blogs, but I do wonder how my blogging friends are getting on! Maybe this blogging app will help me get on top of things a little.

I've been working on my wips, especially the green cardigan I'm knitting - just have the collar to go! I've been working on some lace, but it's just a mass of pins, so not much fun to look at. I do have a piccie of my latest new start: a fairy by Maria vin Scharenberg (I don't have her to hand, can't remember her name). This is what I have done so far. I'm enjoying working on her, but the chart is HUGE and difficult to manoeuvre. And I've not had chance to photocopy it yet. Oh well....

Happy stitching folks

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Quaker motifs

I took two projects to Oregon. I did finish the second heart from Moonstruck friends, but the photo I have just taken is really dark and blurry. So I'll share that later. The other project I took was Quaker Pin Cushions by Milady's Needle. I'm stitching all six of these on a piece of Belfast called 'Golden Harvest' - although I'm not sure who dyed it! I'm stitching the motifs in the recommended Belle Soie (so yummy to work with). I don't know how I'll finish them - I certainly won't be buying four wooden pin cushion bases! But I'll finish each on separately.

I missed the TUSAL at the start of the week. I took this shot on my dining room table - guess what other craft I've been indulging in since I got home!!!

I'm also still knitting my green cardigan. I'm finally doing the shaping at the top of the second sleeve. After that it's just the collar to go!

Happy stitching everyone.