Saturday, 19 September 2009

Happy Dancing - A Finish!

Another delay between postings - but at least this time I have a finish to show off! This one has taken me absolutely ages; caused mainly by me completely losing my stitching mojo halfway through working on the design. That hasn't happened for such a long time; and never for such a long period of time. It couldn't have come at a worst time too - right in the middle of a round robin! Not to worry though; normal service has finally been resumed and I have got my mojo back with a vengeance - and this is the result!

I am so pleased with the result! The design is by Sandy Orton of The Kooler Studio and I found it in issue 7 of Cross Stitch Gold. Karen's theme is "welcome/home sweet home" and I knew this one would be just perfect for her. Her home is an old Victorian terraced house and she has kept this theme within her decoration - I thought the lettering on this was quite "Victorian" looking and the colours are similar to the ones that Karen used in her "welcome" design at the top. It is stitched using DMC threads and embellished with Kreinik blending filament in copper and Kreinik #8 braid in antique gold. I really hope Karen likes it! Mouse is already making noises about me doing one for her too!!

Last month, Sheila came to stay for the weekend and brought me a present - an antque Frister & Rossman hand crank sewing machine! I am absolutely delighted. We had been talking about sewing machines when I was visiting Abi in July - she and Mouse are trying to persuade me to go down the electric route, but I was taught by my gran on and old treadle Singer sewing machine which unfortunately got left behind when my mum moved several years ago. I wanted to ease myself into machine sewing gently and having mentioned this to Sheila when I was visiting her in July, she found this lovely machine on Freecycle for me. It has been well looked after and I am just building myself up to having a go at it! At the end of the day though, if I do progress onto the electric monsters, this one will look lovely somewhere prominent in the shop - whenever I open up for business that is!

Well I am going to spend the rest of this weekend working on the next round of the round robin - this one is Lynda's and her theme is "Dickens Mittens". My only problem there was deciding which one to stitch because they are all so adorable. I finally decided on "Belle" and plan to get started on it straight after lunch when I have settled down to some Davis Cup tennis (fingers crossed for our boys today). I'm hoping this one will be a quick stitch and I will be back soon to post an update.

Hope everyone had a nice summer and that autumn isn't being too harsh to you. Thanks all for reading!


Ally xxx

Sunday, 26 July 2009

A finish and some sad news

I haven't visited my blog in such a long time - the main reason for this has been a busy time at work, and no stitching time to speak off. I usually only blog when I have a finish to show you all; partly the reason for this post - the other reason though is to document the sad loss of a very dear friend, Nan, who died in the early hours of 18th July 2009.

Nan was a close friend of my mum and since mum passed away a little over 3½ years ago now Nan has been a rock for me to cling to when I especially felt mum's loss. We helped each other through and became very close friends as a result. As some of you know, I had been stitching Poppyfield Lane for Nan (without her knowledge of course) and I never did get it finished in time. My intial feeling was that I just could not carry on with stitching Poppyfield Lane, however, Abi has persuaded me that I should go on with it and when I open my little shop it will hang there with a little plaque dedicating it to Nan.

I sent a few days away at Abi's at the beginning of this month, along with Mouse (Michelle) and we had a fabulous stitchy time despite the awful weather! I made huge progress with Karen's RR and also started on my very first biscornu - which I finally finished putting together today and here it is!
I'm absolutely thrilled with it, despite the fact that it isn't 100% perfect - but hey, it's my first attenpt and I am extremely proud of it! Thanks to Abi who provided the chart and the fabric ("Honeysuckle Pink" (I think!)) and buttons and Mouse for the thread the name of which escapes me but I'm sure she'll remind me!
Here's a couple of photos of us at Abi's ~ Mouse beavering away at her stitching and the three amigo's outside in the greenhouse underneath the grape vines.

I'm on the home strait as far as Karen's RR goes although I haven't done much of it since I got home with one thing and another, but I shall get back to that for the rest of today. Nan's funeral is on Tuesday and as I shall need something to occupy my mind when I get back I could well be in for another finish on this one too! Watch this space as they say!
Oh and I almost forgot - back in April I got my second Blogger award from Lynda - and here it is! Thank you so much Lynda. The award says .."This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated." The award has to go to eight other bloggers who shall be:-
Just a short note for this time - I'm still stuffed up with a heavy cold so I am taking things easy for now so not much else to report on. Hopefully I'll have more to report next time!

Until then - thanks for popping in!

Love n hugs,

Ally xxx

Monday, 6 April 2009

Another Month, Another Post

Well, April arrived like a spring lamb - and has been raining pretty much ever since! The park is full of daffodils and the bulbs in my planters have come up; I had some nice hyacinths and now I have a single solitary minature tulip! The rest are still growing - I just wish they'd all grow at the same time!

I've been busy this last little while, plenty of tennis to watch (Indian Wells and Miami) and some deadlines to meet so as usual my stitching and my tennis go hand in hand. First of all I had a Stitchers Day Exchange gift to stitch for Michelle. I stitched Lizzie*Kate's "Cross Stitcher in Residence" and made it into a door hanger for her. She was absolutely delighted with it and now that she's got it I can show it all to you! I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

In the exchange, Kay was sending to me and here's what she sent to me - she kitted up the "Needlework Shop" by Country Cottage Needleworks and also stitched a gorgeous blackwork bookmark for me (I love bookmarks and since I usually have at least 2 books on the go at any one time - the more bookmarks I have the better!) I loved my gift - thank you Kay! Can't wait to get started on the Needlework Shop and hang it eventually in my own needlework shop!

I have also managed to finish the second square of Maureen's round robin - this one a cute little Robin. These have been such a lovely stitch - very quick to stitch up and so cute!

Maureen and Lynne were here for lunch on Sunday - we were supposed to be stitching but as predicted, not a lot of stitching actually got done, although Maureen did pretty well (I think I managed two whole stitches!) Lynne gave me a lovely Thread Winder - I think it's been made from some sort of a shell - very pretty! It would actually make a pretty ornament wound round with metallic threads to give it a sparkle. I'll have a little think about it and show you what I did with it.

Back to the tennis; Andy got to the final of Indian Wells, but lost to Rafael Nadal. Big disappointment. However, then came Miami and yesterday he played Novak Djokovic in the final - and won 6-2 7-5! That's his third Masters title and he's doing so well now, he really is blowing away the opposition! Monte Carlo starts a week today - Easter Monday in fact - and I'll get to spend the whole day stitching and watching the tennis. Can't wait! As long as I get from here till Thursday I should be doing just fine.

Gotta go stitch - Poppyfield Lane deadline is end of May and I need to get to work on it NOW! Thanks for dropping by!

~ Hugs ~

Ally xxx

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Small update

I've not updated my blog since January - shame on me! I have been stitching, honest I have, I just haven't had any finishes to show for it! One of the main reasons I haven't updated is that I recently changed from a desktop pc to a laptop and several things do not quite "fit" anymore including my scanner and my printer! How I miss my scanner, especially when it comes to doing updates for my blog and Webshots. However, I have a couple of things to show you so here goes ...
First up, is the first square of Maureen's Round Robin. We started our new RR at the beginning of this month and I've already finished one square. How's that for progress?! The design is an advent calendar which was in Cross Stitcher last month and we are each stitching two squares. My first square is a birdhouse, rather cute I thought! Every single one of those French knots were perfect too!

My next square will be the robin which is equally as cute, if not more so!

Next is a progress update on Poppyfield Lane which I am stitching for my mum's friend Nan. I have kept in touch with Nan since we lost mum 3 years ago and she saw me working on this project some time ago so I decided to finish it for her (not tell her of course) and give it to her for either her birthday or her Christmas. Well, needless to say, I missed Christmas - and her birthday which was in February. However, I will be seeing her at the end of May when we are having a trip down to Dumfries for the day so hopefully I will have it finished and framed by then! Watch this space!
I am working on an exchange gift for a Friendly Stitchers Exchange. My partner is Michelle and I am hoping to finish the gift over the weekend so that I can mail it off to her at the beginning of next week. The exchange is a Stitcher's Day exchange. 25th March is Lady Day - however we have decided to rename it Stitcher's Day and we will all open our gifts (including some stash) then. My gift from Kay has already arrived and I am sooo impatient to see what is inside! Roll on Wednesday - but not too quickly; I want to finish the stitching first!!

Lastly, and most welcome - I have won my first blogging award! It has been awarded by my dear friend Sabine in Germany - thank you so much Sabine! You've really made my day!

The description for this award reads "These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these kind of writers. When you pass this award along please include these guidelines".

In return I would like to nominate:

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

January Blues

What is it about January that you just want it to be over right now?!!! After three weeks off over the Christmas break I went back to work last week and by Tuesday I was wishing it was the weekend. I try not to get disillusioned too quickly about where I work; but the whole working to line someone else's pockets is just so last year! I am hopeful that this year I will finally get my stitching shop up and running and believe me it can't come soon enough.

I have been using my down time wisely and have finished Karen's RR and done one of the squares on my RR too! Karen's theme was Flowers of the Month based on the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. I stitched the squares for March, May and June and I think they came out pretty good? What do you think?

Once I had that finished and on its way back to Karen I picked up my own RR which I had made a start on in the autumn last year but it got put aside in favour of other things. When it's your own there is quite the same urgency to get it done. My theme is Diane Graebner's Cats & Quilts and the first one I stitched is Three's A Crowd. I love how it has turned out - but what a lot of backstitch!

I was helped along with all this stitching by the arrival of my new Daylight stitching lamp. I got the Deluxe version in satin silver and I just love it. I am still getting to grips with the magnifier but the chart clip is just ideal and its so much easier having your chart at eye level. The light is fabulous and not too over-bright. Hopefully it will inspire me to finish some of those WIPs I have in my wicker basket which sits right across from my stitch seat and just glare at me when I am working on other things!

Of course, having the Aussie Open going on at the same time certainly helps and I get a load of stitching done while I am watching tennis. Come the weekend I will be able to sit up through the night and watch the live matches and can then catch up on sleep in the daytime. Andy's playing really well at the moment and his next match is tomorrow morning (UK time) so fingers crossed. I'm hoping to see at least some of it!

Back to the stitching and I have laid aside my RR for another short time while I try to finish off a long-standing project for a friend's birthday. The project is Rosie Swalwell's Poppyfield Lane and I started in on a flight to Boston oh about 7 years ago. I pick it up, do a little bit and then put it down again when something becoms more urgent. The friend I am giving it to is an old friend of my mum's that I am still in touch with. She's seen some of my progress on this one and has admired it so I thought I would give it to her - her birthday is in just under 4 weeks time so watch this space to see if I get it finished on time!

And on that note, I guess I should get back to the stitching! Oh before I go here is a photo of what I received in my Friendly Stitchers Secret Santa parcel. It contained 2 Lizzie*Kate Tiny Tidings chartpacks, some 32ct Silkweaver Lugana in Fern, 2 square coasters, some Victoria Clayton silks and a box full of buttons and charms which gave me a cast iron excuse to go play with my bead box! My Secret Santa was Sarah-Moo. Thank you so much Sarah - I was thrilled with my gift and feel very spoiled!

My stitching is calling - gotta go! Thanks for reading.

Love n hugs,

Ally xxx

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

It's just a few minutes into 2009 so I thought I'd start off as I mean to go on and update my blog. 2008 was an up and down year generally - it had its high points and its low points - hopefully more highs than lows for 2009.

I finished off 2008 with a couple of Christmas ornaments; one for an exchange on Friendly Stitchers and the other is one that I had stitched a while back and never made up into an ornament - until now. The needleroll is from the JCS Christmas Ornaments 2008 edition and designed by Hands to Work. It was lovely to stitch - using Crescent Colours Belle Soie silks and finished off with some Christmassy fabric at either end to give it an antique look. I'm pleased with the end result and I hope its recipient, Elizabeth in sunny California, likes it too!

The second ornament was from JCS Christmas Ornament 2003 edition - I stitched it in stages ages ago, again its done in silks and finished off with bugle beads and gold seed beads and Swarovski beads for the garlands. This one I am sending to my friend Val in Tyne and Wear - it's a bit late to go on her tree for this year, but I hope she'll find somewhere to hang it next year.

And to finish off in the same theme - here's the ornament that Elizabeth stitched for me - I think it is a Mill Hill design and it has been sparkling away on my tree since Christmas Eve. I'm absolutely thrilled with it so thank you Elizabeth!

I plan to stitch up a storm in 2009 - finish off a couple of round robins I have to do, and then plan the next one on my own round robin group. I am off work until 12th January so I plan to use the time wisely and having just picked up my new "stitching" glasses yesterday and ordered my new Daylight stitching lamp which will hopefully be here by the weekend - well I really do not have an excuse not to get some early finishes under my belt! Watch this space - anyone want to start placing bets as to which project will get finished first?
We're starting a new SAL on Friendly this week; a Stitch a Week SAL. Abi has designed the grid and alphabet for the design and has also designed several of the motifs which will go into the squares, ably helped by VAL. It's up to the individual members to decide on their fabric and threads - so each one at the end of 2009 will be completely unique to that stitcher. It's nice to have almost the whole group involved in this. I haven't even got around to deciding on fabric and threads yet but I can take care of that over the next couple of days.
I raise my glass (almost empty now!) to everyone and wish you all the very best of health and happiness for this new year; I'm off to open the front door to let the old year out and the new year in and then I am off to bed!
Take care everyone; pop back soon for more updates.
Love n hugs,
Ally xxx