Saturday, 12 November 2011

Slowly but surely ....

I am getting there ... I promise!  I've had no internet access at home since the beginning of September; long story but I will get it sorted at some point.  I bought a dongle thinking that would help, and yes it did up to a point.  It worked on the laptop I used for work (which unfortunately went back to my ex boss last weekend) but for some reason I couldn't get it to work on my own laptop (i.e. this one).  Tried everything I could think of and nothing, nada, zilch.  I took it up to the local coffee shop today as I was meeting a new pupil (more of that later) and thought I'd try using their free wifi access and - you guessed it - nothing!  Came back and contacted a techy friend on Facebook through my Blackberry and she was sending me ideas to try out and whilst all that was going on I thought I'd do a system restore which I did, back to the end of September, and it worked!!!!  Maybe I am more of a techy than I give myself credit for.

Anyway I thought, since Mouse is out living it up in Barnsley tonight and not on Facebook to give me grief about my lack of stitching progress, that I would do a blog update.  I'll do the cuppas tonight since she is out on the ran dan (*tuts*) So, I went to the bag I had taken up to the coffee shop this afternoon to get out the Crocus Cushion to do an update - and it wasn't there!  Panic set it!  Oh no - months of work and it's almost finished and now it's gone!  I even phoned the coffee shop to see if it had been handed in.  Then I went through everything I had taken out of the bag again just in case - and there it was - in amongst a load of finished projects I had taken up with me to show Hannah.  Phewwwwwww!

Crocus Cushion by Sue Page

And without further ado, here it is:  I thought that the gold metallic swirlies would take me no time at all; get them done in a weekend I thought.  Yeah right - that was back at the beginning of September and you can see how far I have got!  It is taking me about an hour just to do one.  Talk about soul destroying :(  Anyway it is almost done and I have high hopes of getting it finished and sent off to Mouse for getting it made up into a cushion.  I have got the most gorgeous fabric to back it with so fingers crossed and who knows maybe on my next blog post I will have a proper finish to show you all.

I have been stitching honest just haven't got a lot to show for it at the moment.  I am currently working on a Christmas ornament for an exchange on my Friendly Stitchers group and also doing some other ornaments for a craft fair taking place at one of the coffee shops where I meet up with fellow stitchers - and more on that later as well.

Well on the non-stitching front; I had a week-long visit from Mrs Mouse at the end of August/beginning of September and oh it was lovely to have her here!  She hadn't been here before and it was the first time she had met the Minster too but they took to each other straight away and to be honest I was beginning to feel a bit left out of it ROFL!  I showed Mouse around my wee home town - took her up to the gardens to show her around and she met some of our members up there; also took her up to the PDSA shop where I volunteer and she came along to the quiz night that Nyree and I go to every couple of weeks.  I think she enjoyed herself (well I hope she did lol) and Minnie and I really enjoyed having her here and I was so sad to see her go.  She did crack the whip a bit while she was here and brought her sewing machine and overlocker with her and made me practice on them.  She had a go on my antique Frister & Rosmann too and really liked it.  We had a wee trip down to the coast too to Largs to meet up with Maureen and Dee from my Scottish Stitchers group (and Dee's friend Lorna too) - and a lovely time was had.  We took Mouse to Nardini's for icecream - I think she was impressed lol!

Then it was my turn to pay a visit!  While Mouse was here her DD1 contacted me and told me she was arranging for me to go down to Barnsley for Halloween and not to tell Mouse cos it was to be a surprise!  Have you ever tried to keep a surprise from a nosy Mouse?  You'll know what we went through over the next month or so then.  DD1 organised the train tickets and got them sent up to me and even booked me into the local Travel Inn for the first night too.  On the night of my arrival DD1 and DD2 and DH (Mouse's not mine of course) made some excuse of going out for a McDonalds and of course when they came back they had a MacAlly instead!  The Barnsley stitching girls were at Mouse's that night too - and of course they were in on it, so I got to meet them too.  I loved the look on Mouse's face when I walked in behind the girls!

We had a lovely weekend - but no stitching because we were getting organised for the big Halloween party that Mouse's DD1 organises every year.  Unfortunately I came down with a chest infection and was feeling distinctly rubbish the whole time I was there but it didn't stop me getting stuck in to help where I could - I was right chuffed with the end result of the cupcakes DD2 baked them and I iced them and then DD1 sprinkled them with glitter.  They look reet good on the cupcake stand in fact they looked so good we had to persuade people to eat them - they didn't want to spoil the display!  I have to admit that I ate so much buttercream during the icing of the cakes that I didn't even try one when they were done.  Still can't face the idea of buttercream lol!

Karen came over with her DH and wee Freddie her gorgeous wee Yorkie on the Saturday and they stayed over at the local hotel until the Sunday.  I shared with Freddie - he's such a wee gentleman lol.

Mouse's craft room was the bar for the night of the party and then she was decorating it so I think we only actually sat in there a couple of times and not a single stitch was put in.  I didn't stitch on the journey down either due to lack of space and on the journey back I was just too tired.  Ah well there's always the next journey ...

As usual I left my camera at home so I didn't take a single photo that weekend but Mouse took loads and you can see them on her blog.

I have been keeping myself busy and have started running some stitching classes up here in the south side of Glasgow.  I do Saturday mornings and Saturday afternoons at the moment in the local coffee shops but we're hoping to be able to have the use of a fabric shop that has just opened up not far from here where I can have the classes and we can do some workshops too.  The ladies who have contacted me and come along are all so nice and I'm hoping that they'll be able to come along to the next get together of our Scottish Stitchers too which would be nice.  I am going to renew the ad on Gumtree over the next week or so and maybe get some more people interested pre-Christmas.  I need to do some more work to the website but once Christmas is over I can concentrate on that more.

I am hoping to have some more work done in the flat before Christmas with a view to hopefully getting it on the market some time in the New Year.  It seems to be a much better idea to sell up, move to Yorkshire and use the proceeds from the flat to set up the shop rather than try to get funding here and struggle along.  I can get on with the classes and the website for now and leave the big plans until I can move.  Wish me luck on that!

Oh before I forget - here is the lovely needlebook I received from Mouse in the Autumn Needlebook Exchange on Friendly Stitchers - and it was purely coincidental that we ended up being partners.  We drew the names while she was here and I had just said wouldn't it be funny if ... and the rest well you can figure it out lol! 

Here's the needlebook I sent to Mouse too.  I used a JBW Design and Fragant Cloves GAST hand dyed thread on Potato 28ct lugana.  I was really pleased with the way it turned out and it was a really nice stitch too.

Ok well I guess I ought to go now and finish off that Christmas ornie.  See what happens when Mouse goes out for a night lol!  Sorry it has taken me so long to do an update but I promise that I'll have another one for you very soon.  Oooh and thanks to the Canadian Oddball for yet another lovely letter. I need to get mine out to my secret penpal at the beginning of the week (should have gone already but life keeps getting in the way!)

Thanks for staying with me - hope you enjoyed the tea.  Might even do some scones for your next visit if you're lucky!

Bye for now!


Ally xxx

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Just a Quickie ...

My internet access at home is down at the moment so I am struggling a bit.  Thank goodness for wifi cafes and library services!

I just wanted to let my mystery penpal ~ Canadian Oddball ~ know that I got her letter!  It made me laugh out loud!  You are one crazy lady and I love getting your letters.

If anyone is trying to get hold of me I will check emails when I can.

Normal service including lots of photos will hopefully be resumed very shortly.

Thanks for dropping by!

Love n hugs,

Ally xx

Monday, 15 August 2011

Two more crazy finishes .... am I on a roll???

Hi all from the rain-battered west coast of Scotland.   This horrible weather we've had the last couple of weeks has prevented me from getting up to the gardens but I managed to get some pics of my lovely poppies before the rain set in and will post them a bit further down.

As the title suggests I have not one but two!!!! Crazy finishes to show off.  The only "good" thing about being out of work at the moment is the fact that I am getting absolutely loads of stitching done, so hopefully by the end of the year I will have an almost empty WIP basket ready to fill up again next year.  This Crazy Challenge has been a godsend for me and I haven't felt pressurised to finish absolutely everything either; just a little progress on some of my older WIPs is better than nothing at all.

Royal Blossoms 2007 ~ Just Nan
So ~ I know you are all desperate to see the finishes and here is the first one; Royal Blossoms 2007 by Just Nan.  This was a wee kitted up freebie sent to me by DJ and was an absolute pleasure to stitch.  I love the colours and the fabric has such a pretty sparkle which is picked up by the beads.  It is just absolutely gorgeous and I am thrilled to bits with it.  Thank you DJ for such an absolutely perfect gift and I only hope I have done it justice.  Also big thanks to my stitching partner in crime Mouse who gave me some invaluable assistance with those pesky eyelets and helped me along to my finish.  I have now passed the chart on to Mouse so I expect she will take about 2 days to stitch it lol!

Christmas Carols ~ Country Cottage Needleworks
My second finish is .... Christmas Carols by Country Cottage Needleworks.  I picked this chart up in Harrogate last year.  It caught my eye at Trudy Anne's stall and I just had to have it.  I am not the biggest fan of Christmas as many of you will know (nothing but sad memories for me there) but I am a sucker for Christmassy type charts and winter themed charts so I just couldn't resist this one.  It kind of reminds me of the midnight carol service at our church when I was younger.  In my late teens and early 20s we would be at Joe's birthday party and break off to go to church and sing the carols and bring in Christmas Day and then go back to the party; and latterly mum and I would go up there to bring in Christmas Day with old friends then come home to tea and toast and open one of our bigger pressies before heading off to bed.  This design was also such a pleasure to stitch - the more I stitched the more I wanted to stitch and I loved watching it grow.  I eventually put the last stitch in at 5 minutes to one this morning and texted Mouse to let her know it was done because she had been hanging on all evening for me to do it. 

Phew ~ that's finish numbers 4 and 5 out of the way and my little notebook is filling up with finishing dates.  So ~ now its on to number 6 and possibly number 7????

Number 6 will hopefully be my crocus cushion.  I even pulled it out ready to go right after I finished Christmas Carols - forward planning or what??  Mouse is going to be here from next week for a few days of tea drinking, stash trawling and stitching so who knows what might happen!  She's bringing her sewing machine with her and is going to give me some lessons and is also going to try out my antique Frister & Rossman hand crank sewing machine for size.  We're also meeting up with some of my Scottish ladies for a day out in Largs and some ice cream sampling so watch out for a blog update and lots of photos just after that.  I have told Minnie so often that "auntie" Mousie is coming to visit that I think she thinks her long lost mousie is coming home.  Mouse ~ take care that she doesn't try to stuff you under the sofa or fridge but if you get too tired she will willingly carry you through to bed!!!!!!

Oh and thanks to Parsley I am taking part in her secret penpal exchange and I had my first letter from my penpal in Canada on Saturday morning!  Oh she did make me chuckle ~ I am really going to enjoy her letters and can't wait to find out her identity in December.  I sent my letter off at the beginning of last week so my penpal should have it by now.  Hope it arrived safely!

Right I am going to go get myself up to the gardens but before I go here are the promised pics of my poppies and some other bits and pieces up there.   I'm going to take Mouse up for a looksee when she's here and we may come back with some onions lol.

Thanks all for popping by and for the much appreciated comments which really do go a long way to encourage me.  Take care all and look out for another update in a week or so.

Love and hugs,


Ally xxxx

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Another Finish and an "Almost" Finish

Catch a Tail by Diane Graebner
Hi all from a very sodden Glasgow.  The horrible weather has kept me indoors today which is a good thing because it means that I have finished yet another Crazy!  So without further ado, here it is .... "Catch a Tail" from the Cats & Quilts series by Diane Graebner who is one of my favourite designers.  I chose this theme a few years ago for my robin in my round robin group and ended up having to do two of them because one of the others was "too busy" to work on all of them (huh!)  Anyway I am glad I got to do them myself because I really love working on these little charts even if they are hard on the eyes lol!

Royal Blossoms 2007 by Just Nan

Before I picked this one up again I had been working on "Royal Blossoms 2007" by Just Nan.  I got all the eyelets done, the beading done and the last thing was the double cross eyelets.  Every single time I tried one it just didn't look right.  I tried it with 2 strands as was suggested and nope didn't look right, I tried it with a single strand - still not right, and I tried it with perle and nope still not right.  So, I decided to put it aside for a while to figure it out and work on something else.  If anyone has any ideas please let me know - I even tried an Algerian eyelet and it STILL didn't look right!!

Next on my list for a finish is "Christmas Carols" by Country Cottage Needleworks.  I have enjoyed working on this one in my rotation and now I am going to keep on with it until it is finished.  Watch this space!

Otherwise, I have been spending time up at the allotment doing a lot of weeding thanks to the rather damp summer we are having.  I was absolutely thrilled when I went up there on Monday and discovered that some poppies have sprung up in my patch.  I absolutely love poppies and can't wait until they are in full bloom.  I will take my camera up with me this week to be ready to catch them at their best.  I have also planted the sweet peas and put in some leeks too.  What with the potatoes and onions and already have in the ground I think I am going to have a nice pot of soup at the end of it!  My cherry tomatoes unfortunately are not doing too well but I continue to encourage them and I just planted some thyme seeds this past week too - first time I have tried herbs so here's hoping.  Our communal area at the back is looking lovely with the planters Sarah and I have put out and its nice to have the whole space again.   I'll take some photos down there too for my next blog update.

Okay, I am going to go heat up some paprika chicken for dinner and then settle down with some more stitching - I'm on such a roll I just can't seem to stop!

Thanks everyone for your kind comments - a little encouragement really does go a long way!  Take care, enjoy your summer and talk to you all soon again.

Love and hugs,

Ally xxx

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Bang the gong the snowman's done ....?

Okay so poetry isn't my strong point lol!  I read it, just don't write it!

Anyhoo, just wanted to let you all know that yes, the snowman is done!  I actually finished it 2 days ago but thanks to a nasty migraine which floored me for an entire day, although eased up long enough for me to finish the stitching on this one, I am only now getting around to putting up my post about it.

So here he is, in all his snowy glory lol!  Ain't he sweet?  I so enjoyed working on this one, despite the traumas of running out of GAST Cornflower (thank you Lynda) and then discovering that I had miscounted on the "W" and having to frog the whole thing!  I got there in the end and the result is just lovely!  Can't wait to get him framed and he will be hanging in the shop (hopefully) this coming Christmas along with my other winter/Christmas themed stitched designs.  Which reminds me I need to speak to the gallery in Knaresborough to see if we can come to some sort of arrangement .....

The chart will be winging its way to Finland very shortly, to Niina - hope you enjoy stitching this one as much as I have!

I have now picked up Royal Blossoms 2007 by Just Nan - another Crazy!  Could this one be my next finish?  You'll just have to watch this space.  Having Wimbledon on the telly at the moment (my favourite time of year) helps my stitching and is probably the reason for the finishes (that and my rediscovered mojo!)  Andy is doing well and is through to the second week - he plays Gasquet tomorrow and I shall of course be glued to the sofa, needle poised, willing him onto the quarter finals.

Before I go, I just wanted to show you the bizzy lizzy (impatiens) that I grew from seed in the greenhouse and are now gracing my window seat in the lounge.  The colours are lovely and its so nice to see them all in full bloom.  I also grew some coleus from seed which are still in the greenhouse.  I am giving a lot of those away to my fellow members of the gardening club, the majority of the bizzy lizzies will go to friends as a wee reminder of their daft pal who has once again taken off into the great unknown.  I'll keep some for myself though, as a wee reminder of what a clever gardener I am (ROFLMAO!!!)  I'm really excited that my downstairs neighbour Sarah came along to our open day yesterday and has decided to join!  I hope they'll be gentle with her.

Right I am meeting Heather for a coffee and a catch up in Shawlands so I'd better get my skates on.  Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend and I sincerely hope that your weather is a lot better than ours!

Thanks for popping by (again) and for all your lovely comments.  Hopefully I will be back sometime this week with a Royal Blossoms update!

Love and hugs,

Ally xxx

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Another Finish .....Well Almost!!!

Hello all!  Bet you didn't expect to see me back so quickly!  Well, fired on by my finish on The Needlework Shop last week I immediately picked up the next of my Crazies in line, which happened to be Bring on the Snow by Waxing Moon.  Its a pretty easy stitch, large blocks of colour so not a lot of changing of thread going on, and I was getting along just fine until .... I realised I was running out of one of the threads - GAST Cornflower to be exact!  I had just enough to finish the "W" in snow and maybe start the "S" or so I thought ...

until I realised that I had put too many rows in on the first leg of the "W" - and this was when I was finishing off that letter so i had to pretty much frog the whole lot.  Stitching it back up of course was difficult because the thread had already been used and so was knotting if I looked at it the wrong way (lol!) and I ended up just about making the "W" with only a couple of stitches to go.   I put out a call to the lovely ladies on Friendly Stitchers and Lynda came up trumps.  I am hoping that the thread she is sending me will be a good enough match to enable me to stitch the "S" and finish the design.  I have learned that dye lots of hand dyes can differ widely!

Anyway, here is my progress to date ... I have cracked on with the rest of the design and only have a small bit of backstitching on the scarf to do and the snow and snowflakes on the "snow" lettering and then I can put this one away and concentrate on the next one which will be ....

Royal Blossoms by Just Nan.  I am stitching a lot as Wimbledon started yesterday (well done Andy by the way!) so I need something that I can concentrate on as well as concentrating on the tennis.  The next on my list is actually Blackberry Jam by the Sweetheart Tree but as I am at the scotch stitch part of the design perhaps I should wait until the tennis is over before I tackle that.

On the shop front - a shop AND a flat above may have been located, we are just waiting for the particulars to be issued by the letting agents so watch this space!  I am impatient to get moving and my tenant is impatient to get moved in; unfortunately I can't move out till I have somewhere to go to so things aren't moving as quickly as I would like.  I am however bashing on with my business plan and contacting suppliers too beef it out ... so excited about some of the suppliers I have contacted!!!

Right I need to shoot - my shift at the PDSA shop starts in 40 minutes I have have got a large hill to climb to get there lol.  Thanks for all your lovely comments as always - they really do keep me going and all the encouragement is reaping rewards in my stitching as you can see.

Thanks for stopping by!

Love and hugs,

Ally xxx

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

I Finished a Crazy!

Yes you read that right!  Precisely 15 minutes ago I put the last stitch into my first Crazy finish - CCN's The Needlework Shop.  I am sooo proud of my finish that I wanted to share it with you all straightaway so here it is in all its glory!

The Needlework Shop by Country Cottage Needleworks
I have loved working on this one.  I took it with me when I was dog sitting the last couple of weeks and have been beavering away at it over the last week or so and i just didn't want to put it down.  It was the first one I started for the Crazy 15 Challenge so it seems fitting that it is my first finish.  Hopefully before too long it will be hanging in my own needlework shop!

Just a short post tonight.  Thanks all for stopping by.  I'm on a roll so I might even have a second finish before too long!


Ally xxx

Monday, 23 May 2011

Catching Up and Moving On

I always promise an update don't I?  Always full of good intentions but then life kind of gets in the way.  Not long after my return from my visit to Mouse's I learned from my boss that she was going to have to let me go as she couldn't afford to keep me on.  Just as well I didn't sell up and move to Lanarkshire to be closer to my job then isn't it?  I was gutted as you might imagine and sometimes it is a struggle - going from having a decent wage coming in to literally nothing at all.

However, keeping positive, I am looking at this as a sign that now is the time for me to move on and go ahead with my plans to open my own stitching shop.  Gillie has kindly offered me a place to stay for a while to work on my business plan and more importantly rent out the flat so that bills get paid.  I am hoping to be in Yorkshire and up and running pretty soon after that.  The girls have been amazing to say the least and I count myself lucky to have them as my friends.

Going backwards in time, I had a fabulous stay at Mouse's and got lots of stitching done.  We spent a day working on CCN's The Needlework Shop and that has come on a treat.   I also did a load to my crocus cushion as you can see ... 

Early on Saturday morning we went off to deepest Cheshire to visit Gillie ~ what a wonderful place she and WT have found to live in while they are here.  With a lovely walled garden and a field of horses right next door, I think I am going to enjoy my little sojourn in the Cheshire countryside - and Minnie will be a Cheshire cat (think about it .....)

Karen came down too and we had a right girly get together, raided her boxes of books and did some stitching too.  I made my trifle for dessert on Saturday night and WT brought home a friend so that he didn't feel too outnumbered.  I think he acquitted himself rather well to be honest lol.

I am dog sitting for friends for the next two weeks although I have popped back home today to pick up a few things, attend an interview and check the mail.  Angel is a Tibetan Terrier, 13 years old, and a wee sweetheart. 

I have also found myself a wee voluntary job at the local PDSA shop (People's Dispensary for Sick Animals).  I am doing two afternoons a week starting tomorrow so wish me luck.  If nothing else, it will give me the retail experience I need for my new venture.  My last retail experience was over 30 years ago so I am a tad rusty but I am sure I will pick it up again in no time.  I think cash registers have moved on a bit since I last used one though. 

I have been working on my Crazy 15 Challenge and here is an update on my Honey Bees project.  I'm quite enoying this one now and it is working up fairly quickly thanks to the many half cross stitches there are.

I also finished a very long overdue bookmark which has now made it to its partner.  I made her a card too but true to form I forgot to take a photo before I sent it!

It is blowing a hooley out there right now and I am so not looking forward to having to go out again but I need to get back to let Angel out.  I have got several projects with me so expect an update when my dog sitting stint is over.  I promise I will have something to show for it!

Here is a shot of the lovely threads and fabric (and cards) I received from my Calendar Girls group on Friendly Stitchers.  The girls thoroughly spoiled me as usual.

Thank you all for reading and for your continued encouraging comments.

Over and out for now.


Ally xx

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

We're all going on a spring holiday??

Don't you just love it when the sun shines, the skies are blue and it actually feels warm?  We've had some lovely spring weather here in the UK; yes even up here in the frozen north in Scotland!  I've been busy with spring planting up at the gardening club and my seedlings are sprouting all over the place - it will be another month or so before I am able to plant them out but I am hoping to have a nice array of flowers for the summer, including sweet peas which are one of my favourites.  I've also seeded some cherry tomatoes this year and have got some more onions to put in but that will have to wait because ....

I am going on holiday!!!  Boss's orders, I need a break apparently so this coming Thursday I am jumping on the train down to sunny South Yorkshire to spend some time at the Mouse House and we are having an overnight visit to Gillie at her new pad too which we are all looking forward to.  Its going to be lovely to see all of the girls, and its just a shame that Val can't join us this time around .... but maybe next time?

I have been stitching, albeit slowly and absolutely not as much as I would have liked.  I got absolutely nothing done on my Crazy 15 project last week which is "Free Spirits" my horses project, so I decided to hang onto it for this week too and I actually managed to get needle meeting fabric.  There isn't an awful lot to show for my very poor endeavours but needless (gettit???) to say I will have loads to show for my time when I next blog because that dreaded wet noodle is going to be hanging right over my head and I won't get away with just a couple of stitches! 

I am taking my crocus cushion project with me and perhaps another project (although I have no idea which one yet) so I hope to have a good report for you next time.  I am going to squeeze in a few stitches on the Christmas Wreath tonight and tomorrow inbetween working, ironing and packing.

Short and sweet this time - got to take the laundry out of the machine and then settle down with a cuppa and my needle to watch Murdoch Mysteries.

Oh and I almost forgot to add ~ I won a PIF on Mouse's blog so I have to offer the same on mine.  The rule is that I have to stitch something for someone in the next year, so ... if you are interested in having someone stitched by little old moi please leave me a comment and I will pick out a name when I get back from my travels.

Hope you are having good weather wherever in the world you are. 

Until next time - thanks as always for reading and commenting.

Love and hugs,

Ally xxx

Monday, 14 March 2011

And as if by magic .....

Here I am again with more progress photos!   I am slowly but surely getting back into a regular stitching thing, and try hard to spend even half an hour in the evenings no matter how long the work day has been.  I spent this past weekend stitching instead of gardening - well what else is there to do when there is snow around (I know it didn't last that long but shhhhh no need to tell anyone!!!) and managed to get a fair bit done on this past week's Crazy Challenge project.

However, the previous week's Challenge was "The Lady of Shalott" by Teresa Wentzler.  This is really turning out to be a labour of love for me.  I started it on Midsummer's Day 2003 after several false starts including putting the fabric onto the scroll frame the wrong way lol!  Later that day when I called round to mum's for tea we heard that her closest friend's son had died in a house fire that day - so you see, this particular date has got bittersweet memories.   I started the project as a SAL with a now defunct Yahoo group and to be honest I think I am the only one still working on her (using the term "working" in the loosest possible sense lol).  Anyway here she is as of 7th March - I felt as I had done loads but somehow it doesn't look like that does it?  She is now firmly back in my rotation and I am determined that I will at least get off this page!!

On to last week's Crazy project which is "Christmas Carols" by Country Cottage Needleworks.  In contrast to "Lady of Shalott" this one is working up really quickly and since I managed to sneak a whole weekend of stitching thanks to the rather inclement weather I got more done that I had hoped.  Hopefully this will only take one more rotation to finish - well I need to catch up on all those people who have managed to finish one or more of their Crazy Challenges!

This week's Challenge is "Free Spirits" which is another of my longstanding projects and the one I was working on when I discovered that stitching and morphine aren't a good combination lol (I started it in hospital after major surgery).  Look out for an update next week.

I shall be popping off down to Yorkshire and Cheshire for a little rest (orders of my boss) at the end of the month but I shall keep you all posted with updates and I have even worked out which project(s) is(are) going with me. 

Thanks for stopping by and for all your lovely comments as always.  Its nice to know that there are people out there interested enough to leave an encouraging message. 

Take care all - see you  next week!

Love and hugs,

Ally xxxx

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A rather belated update ...

Hi all - apologies to everyone who has been hanging on with bated breath for an update from yours truly.  Life and work kind of got in the way again I'm afraid but I have been stitching ... not as often as I would like, but I have made some progress.  So, without further ado here's a quick roundup - hang onto your seats!!

"Bring on the Snow" was next for the Challenge treatment.  I have to admit I did rather well with this one  and it is a nice easy stitch with large blocks of colour.   I discovered when I picked him up again that I had miscounted and his eyes were too close together!  Well my mother told me never to trust a man who's eyes are too close together so they needed sorting.  Minor frogging only and he looks a lot better.  Of course now that he has his scarf on and a smile on his face he looks quite happy - what do you all think?  I think maybe only one or two more rotations on this one will get him finished.

I have promised myself that once this snowman is finished I will frame all three (yes three!!) of my unframed snowmen and this one and get them hanging up for the holiday at the end of the year (not going to name it cos it is only just past and it is a traumatic enough time without thinking of it when the year is still in short trousers!

Next on to Blackberry Jam.  It was around this time that things started to go a little bit pear-shaped.  Last year I was plagued by headaches which were finally put down to work related stress - I quit the job and the headaches went away.  Now unfortunately they have returned with a vengeance and nary a day goes by without a headache - or worse - a migraine!  What little stitching time I get in the evenings and weekends has been eaten into drastically by these nasty things and Blackberry Jam fared worst of all - and after several attempts and even more froggings, this is all I managed.  I think the lesson to be learned here is don't stitch when tired/have a headache/fuzzy eyes.  Luckily by the time this come round in rotation again we will (hopefully) have much better weather, longer nights and the chance of stitching in daylight. 

Moving swiftly along to Royal Blossoms.  This one fared marginally better than Blackberry Jam in that I managed to get more time for stitching on the weekends, but the headaches persisted and I think I spent more time looking wistfully at the design than actually stitching it.  I do love this one though and think I did not too badly to stitch a whole crown and half a bloom (or is that half a petal??)  I've had another Just Nan in my stash pile for way too long (Catnip Tea) and another promise to myself - I will kit it up and get it done when this one is finished.  Watch this space as they say - but please don't hold your breath!

Catch a Tail was next - and I actually made some progress on this that shows!  A whole cat - and half a quilt.  Not bad going!    I shall have to start thinking about what I am going to turn this RR into once it is finished.  Again only one or two more rotations should see it finished.  Maybe by then I will be thinking of starting the next RR - watch out girls and get your thinking caps on!  I do love Diane Graebner's designs and have rather a large collection of them.    Maybe for next year - if we do another 15 challenge, I will include one or two of them in there.  The trouble is - which ones?

And finally ... the Willow Fairy.  The sheer amount of shades of green on this design is actually quite daunting and I actually sat for a whole night trying to work out if I was supposed to be working with blue greens or yellow greens and then I got a headache and gave up and went to bed :)

So, I aimed higher and tackled her rather unruly hair instead and I surprisingly made some progress there too.  Not a lot, but some and I am more than happy with that.  This one has been around longer than I care to admit to and it would be a nice feeling of achievement to see her finished and framed.    I can only hope ...

This week's Challenge is Lady of Shalott - my aim is to finish the page I am on.  I may need a cheering squad on this one and that screaming you hear in the background is Karen running for the hills.

Well its time I got on with some real work lol.  Thanks for popping by and for all the lovely comments you leave - they really are appreciated.

Till next time.  Love and hugs,  Ally xxx

Monday, 24 January 2011

Don't all fall over at once ....!

I know what you're all thinking; barely a week and another post already!!  Well the truth is I just couldn't wait to show everyone my progress on the 15 new starts challenge.  I have decided to work on each one in turn for a week and keep to the order that I started them in, which meant that The Needlework Shop came out top of the pile.   Bearing in mind I only get an hour or so stitching in the evening I spent a large part of Saturday working on this, and watching tennis at the same time.  Coincidence of course that the Aussie Open just happens to be on whilst I am in the early stages of this challenge so watch this space!

Next up will be the snowman project which I picked up tonight when I got home, so pop back next week for another update!

Brief but straight to the point lol - thanks for reading!

Love n hugs,

Ally xxx

Monday, 17 January 2011

Crazy January Challenge - the end!

Well not quite the end, but the end of the 15!  And yes, I know I promised an update last weekend but life (and work) conspired against me as usual.  I am here however, and yes I have been stitching so take a deep breath and grab a cuppa and get ready for 5 to 15 .....

No. 5 is "Catch a Tail" one of the Cats & Quilts series by Diane Graebner.  Anyone who knows me will tell you I love Diane's designs and I was gifted the set of cards that make up the Cats & Quilts series a few years ago when I was going into hospital for surgery.  I had several ideas on how to do them and when I was looking for a theme for a round robin with my little round robin group it seemed like the ideal time to use them.  I ended up having to stitch two because one of the other girls in the robin decided she "didn't have time to do all of the robins" - don't you just love when people let you down like that.  Needless to say she didn't get another chance with us.  But I digress ...

My fabric is a lovely hand dyed 28ct jobelan and the theads are all DMC.    5th January was my first day back at work after the holidays so I didn't have much time in the evening for stitching hence the very little progress - but at least I got it started.

Day 6 is the Willow Fairy - this is where my new starts and already started projects start to blur at the edges lol.  Being back at work means that I don't have as much time to devote to my stitching as I do on the weekends and during holidays so ... I decided to add in some already started projects in an attempt to get some, if not all, of them finished this year.  I started the Willow Fairy and the mermaid at the same time and since I got the mermaid finished last year I reckoned that it was the fairy's turn.  She is stitched on 28ct Jobelan in bone (one of my favourite shades as you will no doubt figure out) and using DMC threads.  all the greens drive me potty after a while so I tend to only work on her in good light to differentiate the blue greens from the yellow greens lol.  Again not a lot of progress but its a start!

Day 7 is the Lady of Shalott by Teresa Wentzler.  I have always loved this one and Teresa really did her proud.   When I first started her my (now ex) Pete gave me a little book of Tennyson's poems which includes the Lady of Shalott.  Again she is being stitched on 28ct Jobelan in bone with DMC threads.  After all that stitching I am STILL on page 1!!!  She really needs to grow a head and some feet so I need some encouragement here guys!    Progress on this was fairly minor again due to a very busy day at work and being completely worn out when I got home from work - why is the first week (even if it is only half a week) the worst?

Day 8 being Saturday was a new start and so I chose "Christmas Carols" by Country Cottage Needleworks.    It is stitched on 28ct Zweigart linen in Miracle Mint (love that name!) using DMC threads.  I actually did a bit more to it after this photo was taken but you'll see that in my next update on this one.  I got this chart at Harrogate in November and fell in love with it.  Christmas is not my favourite time of year but I do tend to find myself wandering around the house singing Christmas carols for some reason.  Not always at Christmas either ....

Day 9 is Free Spirits which is from one of the beautiful Chris Cummings horse paintings.  She really does capture the movement of the horses and I swear as soon as the horse's eye went "in" this beauty came to life.  Again I have been working on this one for a while so it is about time it got finished.  Worked on 28ct Ice Blue Brittney fabric it was a kit that I picked up at a stitching show several years ago.

Day 10 is Winter Wreath by Maria Diaz and is from Cross Stitcvh Gold magazine.  I am stitching this one on a 28ct white opalescent fabric using DMC threads.  This one, when finished, will be raffled on behalf of my gardening club in aid of the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice.  We do several fund raising raffles and an open day every year to raise money for the Hospice and I was asked to stitch something that we could use to raise funds.  Hopefully this will be done in time to raise money for next Christmas.

Day 11 is the Grandfather Clock by DMC - and is another kit that I have been working on for a while.  A friend down in Staffordshire was given it for a birthday or Christmas (hers are on the same day so it could have been either lol) and being a non-stitcher she asked me to do it for her.  I think its about time it got finished and back to its owner don't you!  Need encouragement on this one too because Country Companions are just so not my bag!!!

Day 12 is a Crocus Cushion designed by Sue Page from a very old edition of Cross Stitch Collection.  I have had this one kitted one, well forever I guess, and I finally decided that this was going to be the year I got it done.  It is a really lovely design and I have the most gorgeous fabric to back it with so I can't wait to get it finished.  It is being stitched on 28ct white evenwave with DMC threads.

Day 13 is Honey Bees by Fleur de Lys.  This was a kit given to me in an exchange some years ago and I was pretty unimpressed with it to start with but the more I looked at it the more I liked it.  I changed the kit fabric to my favourite 28ct Jobelan in bone and decided to use it for last year's round robin.  I came back to me ages ago but I am only just now getting around to doing my part and my progress although slow, is getting there.  Another one I desperately want to get finished.

Day 14 - Fast Off (Cats & Kittens) another DMC kit which I bought in a wee stitching shop in Scarborough on a day away with my mum and her friends.  Mum spotted it and said "look there's Minnie" and so it was - it is almost an exact replica of my own little tabby so I just had to buy it.  The browns are soul destroying lol and it has been put away so many times over the past couple of years just for that fact alone but it is almost finished now and this is going to be the year!!!!!  Encouragement required ladies!!!!

And finally (fanfare here!) Day 15 is Poppyfield Lane.  I had a choice of two here - this or Yoder's Hill.  Both have very sentimental value to me.  This one was meant for my lovely friend Nan who died 18 months ago very suddenly.  It was very close to completion and I had hoped to give it to her when she got home from hospital, and of course she never did get home.  It has taken me until now to find the will to get it finished and framed.  I couldn't possibly have it hanging here at home as there are too many memories attached but some day when I have my own LNS it will have pride of place with a little plaque underneath dedicating it to Nan's memory.  It is a Derwentwater Design by the very talented Rosie Swalwell.

Phew, if you managed to get through that lot give yourselves a pat on the back and have another cuppa.  Doing this challenge has really brought my stitching mojo back and I am enjoying my stitching for the first time in absolutely ages which has got to be a good thing, right? 

I am working from home tomorrow morning so I may find the time to put a few stitches into something although what I am not sure as yet - it may be a late night/early morning as a certain Mr Murray plays his first match in the 2011 Australian Open tonight/tomorrow and I am very tempted to stay the distance with him - well lets face it, it wouldn't be the first time I had pulled an all-nighter for my tennis.  I do suffer for my art ... but I also get a lot of stitching done!!

Hope everyone taking part in this crazy challenge is enjoying it as much as I am.  I wonder who will get the first finish? 

Thanks for reading everyone and for the comments you leave - they really do mean a lot.

Love n hugs,

Ally xxx