Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quick hello

Just popping in with a quick hello! Sorry I haven't been around much recently. I wasn't well a couple of weeks ago and have been feeling rough ever since. Hopefully things will get back to normal before too long.

For now, here's a pic of my Bluebird box.

Bluebird box again

I haven't made the bluebird for the top and I'm not sure that I will. For now, it stays as it is.

And perhaps the fact that I've felt like blogging today is a good sign!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


This week has taken on a slightly unexpected twist as I'm now having my second day at home with Iona. I'm loving having all the extra time with her, she's such fun to be with!

Anyway, I just popped in here to say that I've finished the stitching on my bluebird box.

Stitching finished!

I'm slowly getting round to the finishing. Slowly for 2 reasons, the first being that I want to stitch one or two sample ornaments for the after school club which will start a week today. My second reason for only getting round to the finishing slowly is that I think I'm going to have to do some blocking. I've never blocked anything in my life and it sounds way too scary! But at the moment, the stitched outline of the design does not quite match up with the outline of the card for the box (that was part of the finishing kit).


So I'll just have to block it into shape! Oh well, at least the box is stitched in DMCs and so it should at least be colour fast! But don't hold you breath if you're waiting to see the finished box. Maybe I'll just avoid the blocking issue completely for now and go and stitch the bluebird for the top!

Bluebird box stitching finished

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ups and downs

Things have been a bit rough at work since I went back in January. It came to a head a couple of weeks ago and as a result of that I have a meeting on Thursday. I don't know what's going to happen but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things will change for the better.

Anyway, it's all got me rather jittery and depressed at the moment. I feel like I don't know where I'm going. I just focus on my two beautiful children and make the most of the time I have for my stitching.

So I've been having fun with my Bluebird box and am really surprised at how quickly I'm getting through it.

Work in progress - after week 3

Progress has slowed this week as I really need to get organised for the after school club I'm going to be taking!

And I haven't shown you this.

Felty fifteen

A fifteen sided bircornu in felt - I just wanted to see how it worked out in felt.

And as you might have noticed, it's now settled that I'll be teaching an after school club at Alexander's school from the end of this month. We're going to make Christmas ornaments. I bought a book to put together some ideas.

A Cross Stitcher's Countdown to Christmas - I'm really glad I did get this book - there are so many designs in it I'd like to stitch!

Monday, October 05, 2009

There she goes!

Finally, over the weekend, Iona decided to walk on her own!

I'm so proud of my little girl! She was all ready to walk 6 weeks ago, but had a couple of little tumbles which knocked her confidence. But over the weekend, she's just taken off and it's really given her a confidence boost - she's becoming quite adventurous! And she's such a funny little sweetie!

My bluebird box is still coming on well, although it's almost strange to be concentrating so completely on cross stitch at the moment!

Work in progress

I really couldn't be bothered when I started those little buzzy bees - they're so small and fiddly to stitch! But after I'd finished them, I could see what a difference it made and am glad that I stitched them after all!

We had a wander around the allotment late yesterday afternoon - there are some really beautiful flowers on some of the plots! And as it was lovely and sunny, I took a few photos. (I had my camera as I'd been trying to get photos of Iona walking!)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

12 stitches in September

In June and July, Gay Ann Rogers was challenging stitchers in her Shining Needle Society group to stitch 12 stitches a day on a project. Well, I may be a little late catching up with this one, but I started my 12 stitches a day at the beginning of September and I’m delighted with the progress I’ve been making.

The project I’ve resurrected for this is Medieval Town Mandala. Here’s where I started at the beginning of the month.

When Alexander goes to bed at night I have a little bit of time while he’s in the bathroom and getting changed when I’m rather just hanging around waiting for him. So, in this little time slot, I’m fitting in my 12 stitches.

I have changed the rules slightly, my goal is at least 12 stitches a day. 12 stitches minimum (Alexander permitting), but there have been days when I’ve been able to at least double the 12. And if I have a day when I’m just looking for a project to work on just to fill some time, the MTM gets a bit of attention then too.

I’m aiming to get this corner finished by the end of October – that’ll see me half way through part 5.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My weekend - the best bits

Alexander's golf lesson on Saturday (and a spot of putting practice for me)

Alexander's kayak taster session on Sunday

Some nice

(for a change)

(And the chance for me to sit in the sunshine in the park for some stitching!)

Iona turning the bathroom bin into a drum as we chattered away and I cleaned the bath!

And in between all the hanging around waiting for other people, some extra time for this.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Felt overdose and a new start

I’ve been playing around a lot recently with my felt stash, working on what became 3, largely unplanned, projects of my own design. At present, they look like this –

Felt overdose

But all of a suddenly I’ve had enough of them! Blah! At this point in time, they’re just not as nice as I want them to be. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they’ll never meet my imagined idea of them, but it’s time to give them a break. And wait for some nice buttons to arrive. Somehow, I seem to have had a nightmare finding nice buttons – big ones with some kind of pattern. Maybe when the buttons arrive, they’ll fill me with inspiration.

One side effect of all the felt is that my jug for the Totally Useless SAL has been filling up rather quickly!

Then, I had a fantastic evening on Wednesday, kitting up a new project! Shock horror – I now have a new cross stitch start! For too long I’ve been playing around with my own ideas/designs, now I’m ready for a little relaxation following someone else’s instructions!

It's really very exciting! I don’t remember when I bought this, round about the time it was released, I think. I had the chart and the finishing kit but not the linen or silk floss. As I’m not feeling very wealthy at the moment, I’ve done a DMC conversion and am stitching this entirely using fabric and floss from my stash! It’s even quite liberating to be making constructive use of my stash!

You can't really see it in the photo, but I've finished backstitching the outline and am ready to get crossing this evening.

I seem to have a thing about boxes again this week and have dug out another box kit I had in my stash - this time I'm partly designing it, based on something I saw somewhere else.

And as usual these days, these boxes have sparked off a few other ideas - how do you like the sound of a Baby Bluebird biscornu or a Wild Mountain Thyme Keepsake Box?

Oh dear, and now I've discovered (via the Drawn Thread) Un Chat dans l'Aiguille - can you see me drooling?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Colour clash?

Early in the summer, I crocheted a blanket for Iona.

Flower snuggle blanket

When there was just the pink and white and yellow, I wasn't sure about the colour. I knew the yellow was too bright, but I had it in my stash and didn't want to go and buy. I also wanted to make the blanket look a bit like a large flower, so a fairly bright yellow in the middle seemed appropriate.

Flower snuggle blanket - centre

I was amazed when the green was added how it just seemed to lift the whole thing.

Anyway, as I was crocheting this, I was thinking about colour and how I don't feel very confident about choosing colour combinations for projects. I'm quite happy to go with a designer's choice, but I find it really difficult if I want to change things or if I need to choose colours from scratch. This was a bit the case with the blanket, but wanting to use only soft baby yarn, that limited my choice. It was also the case with Gay Ann Rogers's Mystery in a Corner which I ended in adding another colour to half way through.

I do find this particularly frustrating when, quite often, it can be the colour that attracts me to a design. It's so frustrating to make small changes to a design or to design my own piece and find that the colours just don't work the way I want them to.

And when I walk into a shop and look at yarn or floss or fabric, I never seem to be able to find the colours I really want, it always seems to be a compromise. Is it just me and are the shops around here particularly useless? Or is it at least partly the way I look at the colours and the possible combinations?

So I did a little bit of online research, using Ravelry as a starting point, and thought I'd share what I found.

Random stripe generator (for knitters) -

COLOURlovers :: Color Trends + Palettes -

kuler -

Color Wheel -

Color Theory Tutorial by Worqx -

Color Wizard - Color Scheme Generator -

They all look really useful, and will hopefully help me feel that I do know what I'm doing!

Here are some of the gorgeously colourful pics by other talented people I've found recently on Flickr.

Colour everywhere!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tag - I'm it!

Chrissie tagged me at the end of last week with the Kreativ Blogger award! Thanks Chrissie!

I've to list 7 interesting facts about myself and then pass the award on to 7 other bloggers!

She's now anxiously waiting for me to post 7 wierd and wonderful facts about myself. I've been racking my poor cold-befuddled brains all morning to think of 7 things and I have to confess that I've struggled - I'll blame the cold for that one! But I did, finally, come up with some vaguely interesting things.

  1. I am an expert in catching colds – you can just about guarantee that for every cold that comes along, I’ll catch it!
  2. I have two sisters and one brother, and despite the fact that my mother knits, I am the only crafty person in the family.
  3. I once took part in a preliminary study into the relationship between asthma and pre-eclampsia.
  4. I love Iain (M) Banks novels.
  5. One of my ambitions is to climb all 283 Munros. Fifteen years ago, I climbed 8 of them - Sgorr Dhearg and Sgorr Dhonuill (Beinn a' Bheithir), Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg, Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin, Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain. And sometimes I get a bit geeky about them. And I'm jealous of my youngest sister who has climbed about 50.
  6. My all time favourite food is apple crumble! I made some yesterday and it was scrummy!
  7. Most of the time I hate cooking - too much like hard work, unless I'm making something I like for a little bit of fun!

So there you go!

I'm now supposed to tag 7 other poeple. How to choose just 7? For a bit of variety, I've decided to pick the blogs of 7 of my Flickr contacts.

I also want to mention that Mary at M DESIGNS: Stitching With a View is having a giveaway on her blog which will include this year's JCS Christmas ornie issue! Pop along and have a look!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Please excuse the techie talk in this post, I’ve been having a bit of geeky fun here and am rather chuffed with the end result! However, I’ll put the geeky bit at the end, so that you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to!

You’ll see I’ve been tweaking my blog again and now have a navigation bar which appears just under the blog header – this is the techie bit I’m rather pleased with! I’ve put links on there for my designs and tutorials and those pages then link to the relevant blog posts. Once I get it sorted, I’ll also be adding links to PDF versions too.

And to celebrate, I’ve got some new snowflakes too! If you remember, I was posting the designs of the snowflakes I used in my Snowflakes in the Snow biscornu. I’d posted 8 and still needed 3 more, but didn’t like the designs I’d used enough to chart them and post them.

So here are 3 new snowflakes. Note that I haven’t stitched them myself yet, but I’d be interested to see how they work out!

Now for the techie bit!

I was looking for a way to make it easier to highlight and show links to my designs and the tutorials I’ve written, particularly as I’m hoping to add to them going forwards.

I decided I wanted to have separate pages to my blog which could be accessed via tabs just under the header or some kind of navigation bar. I even, briefly, considered moving to Wordpress or Typepad, but I like a lot of the bits I’ve set up here and didn’t fancy having to start from scratch elsewhere.

So I decided to search for any blogger tips or hacks which would let me do something similar here. Now, I’m quite happy fiddling around and making minor changes to my template, but I’d prefer not to have to get into the guts of XML or anything like that, so I wanted a relatively simple solution.

As usual with the internet, one link led to another and I found myself on this page, looking for a post which would supposedly tell me all I wanted to know. Instead I found a link to Add Page Element to Blogger Header and Blog Posts in the header-wrapper and main-wrapper. Using this would mean that I could add widgets above mt blog header, or below the header and immediately above the posts.

And I found another component in my XML template which I changed to allow me to add widgets immediately below my header – the crosscol-wrapper. Once I’d found that I knew how to create a simple navigation bar for the pages I wanted.

I haven’t seen this written up anywhere, and it’s the simplest way of adding a navigation bar I can think of! Once I added widgets to the crosscol-wrapper, I could add a HTML/JavaScript widget there and in that write some simple HTML for a table, with a matching background, and a cell for each page I wanted to link to on the navbar!

The links on the navbar just link to blog posts I’ve created for 01.01.2001, completely separate from my normal blogging.

How simple is that?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Here and now

Thanks very much for all your kind comments on my last post. After I came back from holiday, I was in two minds whether or not to continue blogging. (A hangover from my earlier apathy.) Your comments have reminded me what it is that I love about blogging – the sense of community and sharing. I can be really bad, when I feel down, at withdrawing into myself and cutting myself off from other people. I need to really push myself to get back out again and connect with the people around me. So thank you all for reminding me about our wonderful blogging community!

Over the weekend, I finally finished my August biscornu for the SAL.

August biscornu

It’s a design by Sue Hawkins in the Aug/Sept issue of Stitch magazine, using Polstitches varigated floss in Fireworks and Wizard on 18ct mono canvas.

After reading your lovely comments last week, I had an idea for a blog to show off the best of our stitching, where only a very limited number of pieces by each person would be featured and most of the pieces would be ‘voted in’ by readers of the blog. I think sometimes that the best of what we do can get lost under the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ that gets posted, whether on blogs, in forums, or in photo sharing. I still kind of like the idea and being more selective, but I’m not entirely sure whether it might not just be a bit too much like reinventing the wheel……

'Quirky' needlepoint biscornu

I’ve also decided that I’m going to ask at Alexander’s school about teaching an after-school club once a week after October half term – Cross Stitch for Christmas! Maybe teach a small number of the kids to cross stitch and help them make their stitching into ornaments. I was thinking about this over the spring when I was probably struggling a bit with the work/life balance, but I’m definitely going to do it this time!

And, typically when I only have limited time available, my mind is now buzzing with ideas for new designs, new things to make, new projects to try .....

Who knew that tribal tattoo designs could be such an inspiration?

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Everything returns to ‘normal’ in our house today as Alexander goes back to school. He wasn’t looking forward to it, but I know he’ll be fine.

So where have the last 7 weeks gone? Goodness knows – time just flies past as usual! I’ve been back at work for a week now since our holiday, and it feels like I’d never been away. We had rather a wet holiday in Scotland – it just seems to be one of those years when if it’s going to rain it will and it does. So we had a wet week in Oban which didn’t suit my photography ambitions at all, but was quite good for crafting.

Castle Stalker

Before we went off on holiday, I was playing around with beads, attempting to make some beaded beads when I remembered I had a couple of Mill Hill kits I really wanted to make.

Beaded ornament

I’m so glad I remembered about this! I love the end result and I thoroughly enjoyed making it! It really got me out of my slump! Now if only I could find the other one of these kits that I’m sure I have …..

Next on my holiday to do list was this felt candle mat.

Bunny parade

After I saw and commented on Theresa’s mat, I had to make one myself and Theresa very kindly sent me a copy of the pattern. It’s the first time I’ve made something like it, and I love it too! Thank you Theresa! I now have (yet more) plans for lots more of this kind of thing.

Next on the list was my August biscornu, but I ran out of steam with it mid way, started something else, and then ran out of floss. The extra floss I ordered arrived yesterday, so it’s on the go again and should be done by next week.

And then I made this too, it wasn’t planned, but I wanted to give it a go anyway. As a first go, it’s OK, but I have plans for a better version …..

The only sunbonnet in sight

One of the most frustrating parts of the holiday is the complete lack of interest in anything I made by my family. I know my DH isn’t interested and that doesn’t bother me – I share everything I’m working on with Alexander and will do the same with Iona when she’s bigger. It’s not that Alexander’s all that interested, but he likes to see what I’m working on and help me choose things.

However, my mother’s attitude made me cross. She’s always been of the attitude that she can appreciate looking at something nice I’ve made but she has no interest or knowledge or appreciation of anything that went into the making. Occasionally she’s made comments that I should show my creations in some kind of exhibition – what’s the point of making them if nobody ever sees them. I always explain that the things I’ve made aren’t generally original designs of my own, so I think the value in exhibiting them is limited. This time, she said more openly that unless I’m exhibiting or selling the things I make, then it’s just a waste of time. I’ve tried not to mind that she’s only ever had very limited interest in the things I make, but I do find it a bit hurtful to have her suggest that it’s a waste of time.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to make things for sale – there are far too many new and different things coming along all the time that I want to try, and I wouldn’t want to sell one-offs. If I design something myself, then I’m quite happy to share my design through this blog. I might even have a go at getting some of my designs published in magazines sometime, but I have to find the time to stitch them all myself first! Although if anyone has any better ideas, I’m open to suggestions.

Oh, and you might notice I’ve changed my template again too!

Monday, August 03, 2009

A few more odds and ends

Well, I spoke too soon, last time I blogged. I’m still feeling rather apathetic, and struggling to find something interesting enough to do. As a result I don’t feel like I have much to say today, but I wanted to share the pics of some of the things I’ve done.

Ribbon rhodes pincushion

Ribbon Rhodes pincushion – this was my big idea that I was just getting going on last time – Rhodes hearts stitched with ribbon. I like the hearts, but somehow, I’m not sure I like the end result all that much.


Another complete change – a scissor fob stitched on plastic canvas using knitting yarn.

I also owe a big thank you to Deb for this lovely surprise which arrived last week.

And here’s my TUSAL contribution for July – some bits of felt, evenweave fabric and plenty of odd threads and bits of yarn.

Finally, as I’ll be away on holiday from the end of this week, I’m going to take the rest of this month off from blogging. Hopefully, I’ll be back with lots of news and photos to share at the start of September.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time for a change

I've been suffering a bit from a crafting overload over the last few weeks - I seemed to work on 3 exchanges in fairly quick succession, gifts for Alexander's teachers and since then have been drifting, unable to find anything sufficiently interesting to work on. With the lack of inclination to craft came a similar disinclination to blog, so I've not been doing much and have had little to say about it.

I have, however, done a couple of things. The first is my July biscornu for the Basket of Biscornu. I'm really very pleased with it!

Bargello biscornu

This was my first go at bargello and uses a coaster pattern from 'Bargello: A Fresh Approach to Florentine Embroidery' by Brenda Day. I really love the colours I've used for it too - a different combination for me - and I just don't know which side I like best!

After that, I continued the canvas theme by digging out Nova and stitching another 8 or 9 squares.

I had an idea yesterday for a stitchy project to try and had to rush home from work to dig out fabric and ribbons - it's all quite exciting and looks like the crafty overload is history! But I don't think I'll be attempting any more crochet for a little while - still feel a bit crocheted out!

As a result of my new project, I'm now lusting after a copy of Jean Hilton's Stimulating Stitches - isn't it amazing what different people think looks like fun?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More to show

The school holidays started here at the end of last week, so in the week up to them, my evenings were spent frantically stitching little gifts for various teachers. I ended up with these, and already have instructions from Alexander to make him an identical yellow one as that’s his favourite!

Love birds

I think my next felty foray will have to be a candle mat – have you seen the gorgeous one that Theresa made?

Then on Monday, I arrived home to find that a large parcel had arrived for me from Gabriela in Chile for the amigurumi swap! Gabriela very kindly included a number of traditional Chilean goodies which were so exciting to open and examine and plan what to do with them.

Swap goodies

This week, I’ve been stitching on (and loving) my first bargello project – I’ve done all the bargello bits, just the finishing left now!

First bargello square

Friday, July 10, 2009

Finally, something to share!

Despite the evidence of my blog, I have been making things over the last few weeks. Until this week, there was a lot of mad crocheting for two swaps. Now that the swap parcels arrived at their destinations, I can show you what I've been making.

First up is the Hippy Chick Monkey I sent to Amber in the June amigurumi swap on Flickr.

Hippy monkey

It's a hybrid of various amigurumi monkey patterns with longer limbs and my (not entirely successful) attempt at a pot belly! Not entirely successful as you wouldn't know it's supposed to have a pot belly, but it's cute anyway, so I don't mind!

After the monkey, it was on to this cushion I make for Alex in Mel's Cozy Crochet swap!

Cozy crochet swap cushion

Both swaps were sent with a lot of other goodies which I managed not to take a photo of! You can see everything I sent to Alex on her blog, and Amber has posted a photo of her swap parcel here on Flickr.

And here's the wonderful array of goodies I received from Alex yesterday.

A gorgeous bag, hat, covered notebook, mug, coaster and hot choc, a pouch full of buttons, a bookmark, a pin cushion with a wonderful thistle on the side and a heart badge! All I can say is WOW! And the colours are all wonderful and really me and the yarns are beautiful and I'm completely gobsmacked! THANK YOU ALEX - what a wonderful swap!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

On the plinth

I discovered One & Other this morning, via Flickr.

I love the idea!

To quote the One & Other website,

"This summer, sculptor Antony Gormley invites you to help create an astonishing living monument. He is asking the people of the UK to occupy the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, a space normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals. They will become an image of themselves, and a representation of the whole of humanity.

Every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 days without a break, a different person will make the Plinth their own. If you're selected, you can use your time on the plinth as you like. One & Other is open to anyone and everyone from any corner of the UK. As long as you're 16 or over and are living or staying in the UK, you can apply to be part of this unforgettable artistic experiment.

You can play your part in making this idea a reality - either by volunteering yourself, by telling others about it, or by experiencing it online or in the square itself."

In fact, I love the idea so much, I've applied to do it! Although I would prefer not to have a slot in the middle of the night!

So, what crafty thing could I do if I get my hour?

Monday, July 06, 2009

The way we were ……

One of the things that’s been left for me to sort out since we sorted out the loft is my stereo. Despite the fact that it still works perfectly, I replaced it at the end of last year as I just don’t have the space for it any more.

The record player had been relegated to the loft several years ago, and the rest was initially put up in the loft as I didn’t know what else to do with it, but now the time has come to put it on ebay. There is also the added point that I found all the manuals when we cleared the loft!

So I brought it all out yesterday and set it up in the bedroom – record player and all, and, with Alexander’s help, tested that each component still works.

My stereo

We has great fun with the records! Alexander had been listening to Michael Jackson at school, so I was able to dig out my copy of ‘Beat it’ – the 7” single. And after Michael Jackson, I took a trip down memory lane, through my singles collection with ‘Drive’ from the Cars, ‘If I Was’ (Midge Ure), ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (Far Corporation), ‘Solsbury Hill’ and ‘Sledgehammer’ (Peter Gabriel), 'Golden Brown' (the Stranglers), ‘Paperlate’ (Genesis).

It was a very atmospheric adventure! Somehow, the playing of a record feels so much more tactile than playing a sterile CD. The background interference of needle on vinyl just adds to it. And then of course, I remember the teenage excitement and anticipation of going up to Woolies on a Saturday morning, buying my single, and then walking home again, to sit on the floor in front of my parents’ stereo and play the precious vinyl. I remember being puzzled, until I got home, as to why it said ‘Clear Vinyl’ on the sleeve of Midge Ure’s ‘If I Was’. You can’t exactly get clear vinyl CDs!

And now my precious, 20 year old stereo is up for sale on ebay.

It’s the end of an era - I feel quite sad about the whole thing. In the mean time, I’m quite enjoying having it all set up in the bedroom – I just have to make sure I don’t kick it when I open the wardrobe!