Friday, June 29, 2007

Photo hunt - Sweet


What could be sweeter than a punnet of raspberries, freshly picked?

My DH turned up at home the other evening with these, freshly picked from his alotment.

There's not a lot of stitching progress this week. I've started on the third of the Mill Hill kits, but due to all the beading, progress is slow.

I've also joined the Heartfelt Friends RR and am now waiting for my fabric to arrive to that I can work out my layout and make a start on my part of it. We're all stitching designs from Little House Needleworks and I'm planning to start with Through the Woods. I will have to amend the design slightly to fit in a box 100 x 100 stitches.

I'm really looking forward to taking part in my first RR, but goodness knows when I'll get back to my Chatelaines!

Thank you so much to everybody who posted such complementary comments on my little finish from last weekend. I'm so glad you all like it as much as I do!

Unfortunately, I'm slightlier busier at work these days and haven't been able to visit so many of your blogs this week. Hopefully I'll catch up before too long.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A few firsts

Last Wednesday after finishing the Mill Hill kit, I started on Opalescent Heart from the Sweetheart Tree, as in the June issue of The Gift of Stitching.

I did not have all the required DMC colours, so I subbed a couple of different shades of pink. I also subbed all the beads and sparklies for others I had in my stash and I stitched it on 32 ct hand dyed Jobelan 'Hot Potatoes' from Polstitches.

As soon as I'd seen the design, I'd imagined it finished as a pillow style pin cushion with tassels at the four corners. So that's what I've done!

I really love it - you won't believe the grin I had on my face when I finished it, I'm soooooo pleased! I was dashing around the house insisting my DH and DS admire it. (DH was his usual disinterested self, DS liked stroking the tassels against his cheek!) I even (briefly) considered rushing next door to show the neighbours!

There are several firsts here - my first Sweetheart Tree design, my first pillow style pin cushion, my first tassels (for some reason they've always intimidated me!).

And this post is also my first attempt at creating an image map (LOL) in html!

Wow - I'm doing well today, how am I going to last the week?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Photo Hunt - Shiny


We went for another long bike ride last weekend and I managed to get some photos of the shiny River Soar and the canal in and around Leicester. I rather like them.

2 down 1 to go

Yay! I've finished that Mill Hill Buttoned and Beaded kit that has been winding me up over the last week or two. There's nothing wrong with it really, it's just not my kind of thing. Unfortunately, DS wants to give it to his favourite teacher - I wanted her to get the one I still have to do!

The reason I don't like this design is that I think it's too bitty - there's no one single theme for the design. There are flowers, a rabbit, birdhouses and bird - it's just all too much crowded together for me. The design also uses speciality stitches which I think the design does not benefit from as it's so crowded. Actually, I chickened out as I couldn't be bothered with all the French knots and just added extra beads or crosses instead!

I had a few problems with all the different thread and bead colours. In fact, I still have not identified the mauve thread - I suspect I've been unable to distinguish it from the blue! The beads came mixed in two little plastic bags and I had to refer to the Mill Hill website to work out which was which as some of the colours were far too similar. A label on the bag saying which bead colours were in the bag would have been ideal.

As a reward for finishing this one, I've treated myself to a small new start which I'm hoping to finish over the weekend. After that, it's on to the final Buttoned and Beaded kit which may not be very exciting, but I like the design better than this one.

At least the end is now in sight!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Architect Ancestors

When I started this blog last year, I also wanted to blog about my family history. Unfortunately, my posts on this subject have been rather sporadic!

Last week I rediscovered the Dictionary of Scottish Architects and contacted them as there are a couple of my relatives included in there. I've been able to add to the information they have on my relatives and add another potential architect to the dictionary.

My architects are my great grandfather John Stewart who was born in Falkirk in 1876 and his sons John Henry Fraser Stewart and William Ferguson Stewart. John Stewart (senios)'s family came from the area of Logierait in Perthshire, particularly around Tullimet and Dalcapon.

John Stewart

Born: 26 Oct 1876, Falkirk
Died: 5 Nov 1945, Lanark

From 1893, John studied at Heriot Watt College and Edinburgh School of Art and served an apprenticeship under C.S. Johnston of St. Andrews Street, Edinburgh. By 1898, he had set up in practice as an Architect at 38 High Street, Lanark in partnership with a Mr Traill. As an Architect, he was involved with the construction of:

Glengonnar House (Abington) for Lord Colebrook of Crawford
A shooting lodge at Hyndfordlea, Lanark
Christ Church Hall, Lanark
Whitehouse, Lanark where John and his family later lived
Also alterations and restoration of Lamington House for Lord Lamington

John married Margaret Isabella Henry on 19 Aug 1903 in Turriff, Aberdeenshire. They had four children, 3 sons and a daughter. Two of the sons also became Architects, the third being a Civil Engineer.

On 12 May 1916, John joined the 4th (Reserve) Batallion (Territorial) of the Royal Scots Fusiliers with the rank of Captain and may previously have served with the Lanarkshire Yeomanry. He was promoted to Major on 19 July 1917. On 28 Dec 1916, John was sent to serve in France. He was awarded the Victory medal and Territorial Decoration for his services.

In 1920, John became the Architect for the Lanarkshire Educational Authority and from 1919 was involved with the construction of a number of schools in Lanarkshire, including Knowetop special school and St. Mary's School in Lanark. In particular, Drumpark special school, Coatbridge, was seen to be 'excellently planned and outstanding for it's mural decorations'. He was responsible for all schedule and surveying for work carried out by Lanarkshire County Council and was County Architect, based at 32 - 36 Albert Street, Motherwell. John was also Consultant Architect to the counties of Moray and Nairn.

In 1931 John became a Fellow of the Royal Institution of British Architects.
On 3rd June 1932, the following appeared in the London Gazette:

'Major John Stewart, MBE
The King has been graciously pleased, on the occasion of the celebrations ofHis Majesty's Birthday to give orders for the following promotions in, andappointments to, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:-
To be members of the Civil Division of the said Most Excellent Order:-
Major John Stewart, T.D., F.R.I.B.A., Architect to Lanarkshire Education Authority'

John Henry Fraser Stewart

Born: 13 Dec 1904, Lanark, Lks
Died: 9th June 1945, Taiwan

Eldest son of John Stewart and Margaret Isabella Henry.

Fraser attended Lanark Grammar School before training as an Architect at Glasgow School of Architecture. In 1925, he set up in practice at 38 High Street, Lanark, where his father had previously been in practice. He also became a Licentiate of the Royal Institution of British Architects.

His work included St. Andrew's Church Hall, Carluke, Elgin County Buildings and Abington Hotel. He was particularly involved in the construction of school buildings, including Blackwood School, St. Mary's School, Lanark, and Lanark Grammar School.

In WW2, Fraser served as a Captain in the 155 (The Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese, probably at the fall of Singapore in 1942 and was a POW on Taiwan, mainly held in the notorious Kinkaseki camp. After he fell ill in 1945, he was transferred to the Shirakawa camp where he died on the 9th June 1945. After the war ended, his body was recovered and he was reinterred at the Sai Wan War Cemetery on Hong Kong.

He left a widow and two daughters.

Commonwealth War graves Commission
Never Forgotten - The Story of the Taiwan POW's

William Ferguson Stewart

Born: 2 Aug 1917, Lanark, Lks
Died: Around 1990

Youngest son of John Stewart and Margaret Isabella Henry.

I have little information on William. According to my mother, he was also an architect like his father and brother. He also served in WW2 in the Middle East. He married twice and lived at some point in Welwyn Garden City in England.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Photo hunt - Hair


This week's theme for the Photo Hunt is Hair, so here's a pic of my hairy brush before I cleaned it at the weekend! LOL

I was trying to get some photos of really hairy brushes, but they weren't coming out very well. This is the one I like best!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Plans – HA!

I hadn’t planned to blog today, but have got myself feeling rather stressed out, and need to let off a bit of steam. It’s turning into one of those weeks when everything seems stressful.

And a colleague is off work this week meaning that a chunk of their work and responsibility has landed on me, just when I felt I was getting on top of things. Every day I seem to be moving slightly further away from the goals I set myself this week.

I think I’m also going to have to accept the fact that I’m falling behind with St Petersburg. It’s half way into June and I don’t feel as if I’m progressing very well. I knew this would happen, and in some ways, I’m surprised it didn’t happen earlier, so I’m pleased to have made such a good start. I also know that because of holidays in July and my sister’s baby due in August, I’m unlikely to be able to keep up then either. I'm also sadly neglecting MTM and would love more time for it.

So, I’m going to accept it now and revise my stitching plans (again!). No pressure on myself to even attempt to keep up with St Pete. I may even take a complete break from it, even though I really am enjoying it!

The Mill Hill kits I’m stitching for DS’s teachers are nagging at me, and I don’t like the one I’m currently working on. I really don’t think it’s a good idea to be stitching while telling yourself how much you hate it. However, I will finish it. I may stop working on St Pete just so that I can finish it sooner.

So the revised plan, when I get round to it, is 2 weeks St Pete/2 weeks MTM per month. Weekends flexible as it's been quite nice to do something completely different at the weekend.

I spent no more than 30 mins on St Pete yesterday, but spent last night dreaming/worrying constantly about it and, for some strange reason, the story CDs my DS has been listening to (Terry Pratchett's Truckers read by Tony Robinson (seems to have cured DS of his obsession with the Hobbit!)).

Definately time to chill out!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Drawn thread stash

During May, I had a couple of days off work with a cold during which I made a rare visit to a LNS. The shop I visited also frames completed work and had a few framed pieces in front of the counter. Among these was a beautiful white drawn thread sampler that set me on the hunt for some drawn thread pieces to stitch myself.

I had eyed this book up before, as I have tried drawn thread embroidery before, and I do like Patricia Bage's designs. This time I bought the book. Details of the book, including some page scans, can be seen through the publisher here or Amazon here.

The Drawn Thread techniques included in the book are Hemstitch over 2 and 4 threads, Ladder stitch, Zig zag hemstitch, Interlaced hemstitch, Interlaced hemstitch with beads, Diamond hemstitch, Herringbone stitch, Coral knots, Modified coral knot clusters, Woven wheels.

The embroidery stitches include backstitch, running stitch, double running stitch, cross stitch, three quarter cross stitch, Smyrna cross, double herringbone stitch, alternating Scotch stitch, four sided stitch, three sided stitch, Satin stitch, Satin stitch blocks.

There are four samplers in the book – Summer Garden, Roses and Lace, Flower Garland, Rosebud Trellis.

My only complaint is that sometimes the instructions seem rather over simplified. For example, this is the first book where I’ve noticed instructions for threading a needle! I do realise that the book is called a ‘Beginner’s Guide to Drawn Thread Embroidery’, but I would be surprised if a complete beginner started drawn thread embroidery before trying other forms such as cross stitch. I would therefore expect readers of this book already to have a familiarity with basic techniques.

However, having read through the book, I do like the clear, detailed diagrams accompanied by clear instructions, particularly for the specific drawn thread techniques.

It remains to be seen whether I’ll agree with these comments after stitching one of the designs!

But this is not the end of my purchases or of my stitching ambitions! Thanks to ABE, I now have the following to drool over.

I will definately be stitching the Wildflower Drawn Thread sampler, but I think I'll use one of the Patricia Bage designs to practice first! Now I only need to find some time actually stitch these ......

Monday, June 11, 2007

Photo hunt - Shoes


This is my first week as a Photo Hunter, and the theme is Shoes.

These are my son's shoes - the blue one being one of his first ever pair of shoes, the other being one of those he wears now. I quite fancied the idea of a picture showing a progression in shoe sizes from his first shoes until now, but unsurprisingly, I couldn't readily lay my hands on enough shoes! LOL

I put the shoes on a mirror with a bit of white board behind. I'm rather disappointed about the lighting as it looked fine on the camera and on my laptop at home. Never mind, I quite like the photo anyway!

We had a lovely family bike ride yesterday along the canal on the south side of Leicester. It was rather longer than my DH had anticipated - we must have been out for around 5 hours and cycled at least 10 miles. I'm really proud of my DS and the way he handled it - apart from saying at the end that it was too long, there wasn't a squeak of complaint from him. However, that may have been because of the detour we took to MacDonalds for his lunch!

Friday, June 08, 2007

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men ......

I was full of plans at the start of this week, but things have rather deteriorated since then! Don't they always?

Generally, I'm a one-at-a-time stitcher and therefore don't use any specific stitching plans, but these days, I seem to have several WIPS which are generally neglected or worked on, depending how I feel! However, I do find it a little stressful (LOL) to have WIPS that I can't find any time to work on, hence the idea of a plan. This was the plan -

Weekday evenings
1. St Petersburg
2. MTM, after current part of St Pete complete

Weekends, assuming 4 weekends/month
One weekend will be spent on each of the following:
1. Nova
2. Bent Creek Red Thread - I started this at work during May. Progress so far -

3. HAED, to link in with HAED SALs on HAED and FG boards.
4. Freebies, smalls, ornaments, exchanges .....

Weekday lunchtimes
Mill Hill buttoned and beaded kits for my son's teachers.

This was let me keep up with St Pete, but allow time to work on other things and make progress on my other WIPs.

I was even making great progress on it, as I spent the weekend of 2nd - 3rd June adding another 11 blocks to Nova!

Spot the Norwich stitched block in the middle of row B!

However, I'm not so sure now. I've made little progress on the Mill Hill kits which I need to finish stitching on by 13th July to give me a little time to mount them for giving to the teachers at the end of the following week. I think therefore, I'm going to have to stitch on them at weekends now as well as lunchtimes. And I had been thinking of joining an exchange, but don't really think I'll have time for that now.

Other slight catch - I'm really enjoying this part of St Pete and would rather continue on it over the weekend!

Another part of my plan from now on is to loose weight. I lost a lot of weight (3.5 stones) 2 years ago, but things have been creeping back up to the point where, if I don't do something about it now, then I'm going to end up back where I started. And that is something I am NOT going to do. So my goal for this month is to loose 4 pounds. Not a lot perhaps, but enough to reverse the upward trend. My overall target is to loose about 20lbs. It's not a huge amount and should be achievable. It is achievable.

It's not as if I have a particularly bad diet. Generally, I just enjoy my food too much, and if I'm down, I comfort eat. I just need to be more disciplined over certain habits.

However, two days away from work on training courses don't help when a nice lunch is supplied for you ......

I'll also be blogging more often as I'm finding it helpful in fighting the depression I've been struggling with over the last 18 months. That's been part of the reason for my weight gain. I mean, when I get bored at work, what distractions are there other than food? And it is boredom that's been the problem. Answer - blogging! And it helps me to connect with the wider world in general and makes me feel better. It's all about breaking down negative ways of thinking and behaving.

At least I've been too busy this week to be bored or depressed!

Monday, June 04, 2007

May Achievements

I have a new plan (stitching and life!) which I'm starting in June, so to round up my pre-plan achievements, here's what I've been up to in May.

1. Part 3 of St Petersburg completed - see here.

2. 5 more blocks on Nova - row A completed and a good start made to row B.

3. Good progress made on Starflake, although I put away again on Friday as I'd had enough of the Smyrna crossed and pulling eyelets! However, I am really pleased with my week's progress.

4. Started Bent Creek's Red Thread series with the Snowman.

5. Completed one gift for my son's teachers - details here.

Wow - I hadn't realised just how much I'd done in May!

Finally, I thought I'd share the photo I'm looking at on my desk calendar at work this month.

The Isle of Jura, Sound of Corryvreckan from Scarba, ArgyllThis is The Isle of Jura, Sound of Corryvreckan from Scarba, Argyll by Colin Prior, a wonderful photographer of Scotland and wild places of the world.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wish list

I have a wish list now, here! I created it at work this week as a bit of light relief.

My wish list is a bit of a WIP in itself, constantly changing as I read other people’s blogs and see what they’re stitching. If I’m not careful, it could reach epic proportions! Two examples from today:

1. I visited Barbara’s blog earlier today (I’d love to know what the design is under the Red Reindeer Sampler), and curious to see more of the Red Reindeer Sampler (which hasn’t quite made the wish list), I did a bit of googling which led me to someone’s webshots album which led me to rediscover I Luv Moo’s Snowdrop which made it’s way on to the wish list!

2. If you visit to Karen’s blog you can see her progress on Heavens Above from Midsummer Night Designs. Looking at the full design, I’m not sure about the full design, the verse and the angel put me off slightly, but I do like the rest and the colours look wonderful on Karen’s. It’s not getting on to the wish list just now, but it wouldn’t be too hard to adapt the design to only stitch the top half and perhaps replace the angel with some of the other motifs. Hmm …..

I’ve probably also missed out a few that I just haven’t remembered.

And just because I can’t blog without including photos, here’s one from out wet bank holiday, last weekend.

I think this one should be called “The Stitcher’s Apprentice” LOL! He’s actually stitching his own design – a pond with a fountain and the sun shining above. He says I’ve to post photos, a chart and instructions once he’s finished! Unfortunately, my DH doesn’t think stitching a sufficiently masculine pastime, so I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Thanks also to everyone who has been commenting on my blog - I really do appreciate it and at least try to return the compliment. If I haven't caught up with you yet - thanks!