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!