Saturday, 25 October 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

It was my birthday this week (Thursday) and thanks to some very special people, what would normally have been just any other day (another year bites the dust) turned into something quite special indeed! As I don't have any family I don't normally celebrate some certain people had other ideas this year!

My day started off opening some packages that had already arrived. First was a beautifully stitched needleroll from Val - another to add to my little collection (I am really getting into these!) together with a very pretty stitched card which I will frame once I can bear to take my cards down. After that came packages from Susan (Dinky Dyes silk threads and a lovely hand made card) and Abi (WDW threads, a sterling silver fairy charm and a great card which is very me!).

I then headed off to work where I had a desk piled high with cards and gifts from my lovely work colleagues. Amongst my gifts were a very pretty umbrella (much to nice to use in the current inclement weather conditions!), an Art Deco style mirror compact, a very pretty coffee cup and saucer, some cat shaped pomanders and a box of orange truffles, a half bottle of Spanish Cava, and (my favourite!) a half bottle of white wine, some crisp white grapes and a big hunk of Stilton cheese (Rosemary obviously knows me very well!)

On the way home from work I picked up a parcel at the post office - from Mouse - which contained aome Dragon Floss and a beautifully handmade beaded scissorkeep, and a lovely hand made card. I shall have to buy an extra special pair of scissors to do this one justice.

And it didn't stop there. On Friday I went for lunch with my work colleagues (there were 20 of us). We had a lovely time, despite having to fight out way through a ferocious hailstorm to get there. When lunch finished I was surprised by one of my colleagues, John (who has only been with us for a very short time) insisting on payign for my lunch - and then another suprise - a bottle of champagne which had been arranged by one of my colleagues who was unable to make the lunch! I had taken the afternoon off and came home feeling very privileged and pampered indeed.

This morning I picked up another package from the post office - this one from Yvonne. Inside was a stunning stumpwork card of some thistles and two hanks of the most gorgeous thread from De Havilland Embroiery.

I really do consider myself very lucky indeed to have so many lovely friends. I know a great deal of very nice people indeed who have gone out of their way to make my birthday special in their own ways. Thanks to the wonders of the internet I have met some of the loveliest people I have ever come across - and through my blog I would like to thank Abi, Karen, Mouse and Val for being such good friends through thick and thin, for laughing with me (and at me sometimes too!) and generally just for being them - sometimes I just don't know where I'd be without all of you. I have been lucky enough to have met some of you personally - Val that day will come I promise!

And on that sentimental note I'll get back to the tennis and some stitching. Thank you for reading - check back soon!


Ally xxx

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Dreary Autumn Days

I shouldn't complain really - the dreary weather keeps me indoors and encourages me to stitch more! its been windy and wet all day - and there are autumn leaves everywhere! I'm happy dancing though because I managed to finish my latest project - a San-Man Originals Design "Sharing Letters" which is part of my exchange gift for the FS Autumn Exchange - and which just happens to incorporate autumn leaves! I've finished the design off as a needlecase and hopefully Yvonne will like it when it gets to her. It will be winging (or should that be blowing?) its way to her tomorrow! I even finished it off with a cord trim using my new Kreinik corder. I really enjoyed stitching this design; I must have a look at some more of San-Man Originals' designs for future use.

More happy dancing - Andy won his second Masters title in Madrid - and his second in a row! Very happy for him - he played exceptionally well all week, beating Federer in the semis and overcoming Giles Simon in the final. Kudos to Simon for making the final and beating Nadal on the way. Andy's next event is St Petersburg where he will defend his title and then onto the Paris Masters the following week. The last tour event is the Masters Cup in Shanghai - the last year it will be held in China - as of 2009 it will be held in London! Can't wait - I've already organised my 2009 holidays around it.

This is my second attempt at this blog entry - I was halfway through it earlier this evening when we had a power failure. The entire street was out - alarms going off everywhere too. Just as well I always have plenty of candles around. Why do these power failures always happen in the autumn/winter and at night? Luckily i wasn't in the middle of cooking dinner or anything, but when there is a power failure my telephone is useless as it is connected to the mains supply as is my central heating system. Ah well, at least it didn't last for long and dinner is now cooking away merrily.

My next stitching project will be for the FS Christmas Ornament Exchange which I am running. I'm partnered with Elizabeth in California. I haven't chosen a design yet - I'm waiting for my copy of the JCS Christmas Ornaments issue to arrive - and hopefully there will be something in there that will jump out at me and fit the bill. I always really enjoy this exchange and its lovely to see all the ornaments displayed on our photo pages - and of course the ornament is something that will be put on the tree for years to come and will remind its recipient of her FS stitching friends.

Off to rescue dinner - and then do some work on Karen's RR. Thanks for reading - come back soon!


Ally xx

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Stitching up a Storm

Thanks to my enforced holiday from work these past three weeks together with the enthralling tennis at the US Open, I have been stitching up a storm lately. My first finish was "Snow Fence" which was included in my blog a couple of weeks ago. Spurred on by that finish I kept going and was determined to get at least one more finish under my belt. A while back (a LONG while back) on Friendly Stitchers we had a needleroll exchange. Never having done a needleroll before I was looking forward to trying one so I found a nice design, bought the fabric and threads and got stuck in. The actual cross stitching hardly took any time at all and I had soon finished it and the beading. Then came the making up bit and that's where I came unstuck. I had used hemstich before, but not in the way that I had to use it for the finishing on the needleroll and I just could not get my head wrapped round it at all. I searched varous sites with instructions for finishing off needlerolls but couldn't find anything to help me. In desperation I took it with me to Abi's last year, knowing that she would be able to sort me out - and she did. Of course, by the time I got home I had forgotten how to do it and after a few useless attempts it got put aside. During the renovations to my flat it got packed away and I only came across it again very recently. Maureen was over for lunch on Sunday and I pulled it out to let her see it and explained the problem I was having. She sat down with it, had a bit of a fiddle with it, worked it out and showed me how to do it - and on Monday morning I picked it up determined to get it finished. It didn't take me long to finish one end, I had some lunch and then finished off the other end and whilst I had the momentum going I sewing the needleroll together, stuffed it and threaded the ribbons through and hey presto - one finished needleroll. It is now parcelled up ready to go to Michelle tomorrow - many apologies for the delay Michelle, but I hope it was worth it in the end! The design is by Down Sunshine Lane and is stitched on 32ct Star Sapphire linen.

For the rest of the time I have been concentrating on my Sue Page mermaid which I have been working on for longer than I care to own up to (well okay I started it in April 2005). It was put into my rotation as part of a Fairy/Mermaid SAL I was doing with a group I was a member of at the time. The first time I saw the design I just fell in love with it and had always wanted to do it, and the SAL gave me the perfect excuse. Friendly Stitchers know her as the headless mermaid for obvious reasons! Well, the good news is that she not only now has a head, but she also has both her arms too! I still have to do the face (which is done in petit point) but I will get to that probably over the weekend. For now I have started work at the bottom of the design; the sand and shells and plant life. She is stiched on 28ct Icy Waters Polstitchers Jobelan using Anchor rayons, metallics and cottons and various beads, pearls and charms. Hopefully she'll soon be finished and hanging in the entrance to my finally renovated bathroom, but just for now here's a sneak preview!
I can't believe I am going back to work tomorrow - just part time for Thursday and Friday and then no doubt I will hit the ground running as of Monday morning. It hasn't been a bad three weeks; I've achieved loads as far as my stitching has gone, and the Murrays both surpassed all expectations by reaching the finals in both the mixed doubles (Jamie) and the men's singles (Andy). Both of them played really well and their rankings have improved as a result of their success in the US Open - Andy is now World #4 and a real force to be reckoned with. He's definitely playing with the big boys now! Well done to both - and I promise to leave the stitching behind during our Davis Cup tie against Austria next weekend!
And that's me pretty much up to date - thanks for stopping by and I'll catch up with you again soon!
Ally xxx

Sunday, 31 August 2008

At last - a finish to shout about!

Finally I have a finish to shout about! This lovely little design is called "Snow Fence" and is by Raise the Roof Designs. I first started it on a train journey to Bolton last October and it wasn't untl I had almost finished the middle snowman/fencepost that I realised I was stitching it wrong. The designer had recommended that for the fence the rows be stitched vertically rather than horizontally - and of course I was stitching in the wrong direction! I moved onto the next snowman and stitched the scarf and then I put it away and didn't pick it up again ... until last week when I was looking for something simple to stitch while I was in hospital. Hospitals must be the most ideal places for stitching - it certainly helps the very long days pass very quickly! I was only "incarcerated" for 2 days but in that time I managed to stitch the two right hand snowmen and frog out and re-stitch most of the middle snowman. Once I got home I just kept going and I finally finished the cross stitched part last night. Of course by then I couldn't wait to get the whole thing finished so I did all the backstitching and french knots and then placed all the buttons - and just before midnight it was done! I'm really pleased with the result and will have to look around for a nice little frame so that it will be ready to hang when I am decorating the house for Christmas.
My stitching was helped considerably last night by Andy winning his match at the US Open - although he did take it to 5 sets and I had a bit of a numb bum by the end of it! Over on one of the other courts, brother Jamie won his 2nd round mixed doubles match so the Murrays are still flying the Saltire in New York!
I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow when I will have the clips removed (they've been holding me together after my operation) and then I can hopefully start to get back to normal properly. I heard on Friday that my departmental colleague, Margaret, had quit because she claimed there was too much work for her to do. Considering that I worked for 3 people before she started and was helping out in another department, I can't quite see what the problem was. All she had to do was ask for a bit of help - or at least ask Iain and Finlay to sort out between themselves what work got priority. I guess it means they will be hoping that I will be back at my desk sooner than anticipated - however, I will wait and see what the doctor says tomorrow. I am feeling physically ok but the clips are quite uncomfortable so I won't be sorry to see their removal!
So, having got a nice finish under my belt I have spent today stitching on the mermaid. She's got half an arm now and is coming along nicely. She's such a beautiful design and I am impatient to really get moving on her. Will do an update on her next time.
Thanks for popping in!
Love n' hugs,
Ally xxx

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Visit to Bakewell Stitching Show/Chatsworth

Last weekend I was in Bakewell for a stitching show run by Wye Needlecrafts (who are based in Bakewell). I flew down to Manchester on Friday night and stayed over with Karen a good friend of mine (we met through an online stitching group we were both members of many moons ago). We were up early on Saturday morning to drive the 43-odd miles to Bakewell most of it in very rainy conditions. We arrived in Bakewell just before 10.30 where Mouse was waiting for us (another good friend) and we "hit" the stitching show. It was a £2 entrance fee (as opposed to £12 for Birmingham) and although on a much smaller scale than Birmingham the show was very well put together and packed full of stitching goodies. Apart from Wye Needlecrafts other stalls were manned by Chameleon, Lynda Bodkin of Loopylou Designs, Sparklies (delicious hand dyed fabrics and threads), Heritage, DMC, The Sampler Guild and many others. I was remarkably restrained in my stash buying but everything I bought will be used or put to good use. After a few hours of wandering around the show we headed back into Bakewell proper for lunch which we had at the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop - Mouse and Karen's first visit - don't think it will be their last either! Of course we had to partake of the famous Bakewell Pudding which we shared between the three of us. We then headed off to Wye Needlcrafts itself - again a first time visit for both Mouse and Karen. I found the cutest snowman chart and also bought a Sweetheart Tree needleroll chart which I will hopefully get done at some point. After that it was back to the stitching show for a final look round, some more buying, and then we headed off to Ashford in the Water where Karen and I were booked into the Ashford Arms Hotel. Finding the hotel closed on our arrival (country hours!) we headed up to Monsal Head for a drink at the Stables bar and a look through the mist and rain at the famous Monsal Head Viaduct. After booking into the hotel we headed back into Bakewell for dinner - found a lovely pub and had a fabulous meal. After that Mouse bid us a fond farewell and headed back home to Barnsley.

After all the rain of Saturday, Sunday dawned bright and sunny and after breakfast Karen and I decided to take a chance, and as we were so close - we headed off to Chatsworth for the day. What a fabulous place! Its just as stunning inside as it is outside. the grounds are spectacular including the 40 foot high Emperor Fountain. I've included a couple of photos for everyone to see.

After Chatsworth it was home and Karen dropped me back at Manchester Airport for my flight back to Glasgow. I know I wasn't the only one sad to see the weekend come to an end, but hopefully we can do it all again next year.

On the tennis side of things - Andy won the Cincinnati Masters title; however he went out in the first round of the singles at the Olympics and he and Jamie went out at the second hurdle in the doubles. Better luck in London boys - and fingers crossed for the US Open which starts on 25th August.

Although I have been stitching like a mad thing, I haven't got anything to show for it or so it seems. I am about three quarters finished the wedding aniversary sampler I'm stitching for a work colleague and although I took my mermaid project with me to Bakewell - it saw daylight but I didn't put a single stitch in it. However, since I am going into hospital this week (20th August) for a small op I shall have wall to wall stitching time for the next couple of weeks so I hope to get something finished! Watch this space as they say! More updates soon.
Thanks for reading.
Ally xx

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Welcome to My "Stitching" World!

First post in my new blog. I intend to try and post regularly if possible. I've been guilty before of starting a blog and then not doing anything with it. My blog will mainly be about my stitching, but I'll include other bits of my life too - so expect a lot of tennis talk!

First, here's my most recent finish - a cat coaster from the Little Fantasy Teapots collection by Cross My Heart Designs. This is the second of these that I've done in the last couple of years. I am stitching a series of coasters for my work colleagues whenever they have a birthday and this one was for my good friend Margaret White - like me, she's a real cat lover and she was absolutely delighted with her coaster!

A couple of years ago I used the Little Fantasy Teapots for a Round Robin and the effect was just lovely. I am still trying to decide on a border for that one but I am getting there ... not one to rush into decisions am I?

This second finish is for the current round robin in my group. Its for Kaye's RR which had the theme of clowns (funnily enough!). I stitched this one around being hospitalised at the beginning of May. My round robin has the theme of cats and quilts and we are using the charts by Diane Graebner, one of my favourite designers. I have just started work on the first of the two I will be doing on mine. It's coming along nicely and I'll post a pic once its done. I'm going to have to put it aside to work on a wedding anniversary sampler for a work colleague, which hopefully won't take me too long. Last time I stitched the sampler it took me 2 weeks start to finish. I have got a similar deadline on this one too - although the recipient will be away on the actual date so i have a few days extra to play with. I just have to work out where I am going to get it framed.

That's about it for the stitching - as for tennis. Rafael Nadal won his 4th French Open title today, beating Roger Federer (for the 3rd time) 6-1 6-3 6-0. Pretty convincing victory - I just hope Roger pulls it together in time for Wimbledon in 3 weeks time.

Signing off for now - thanks for reading!

Ally xxx