Friday, September 24, 2010


Remember this? I blogged about it in February.

Plastic canvas box

I wasn't too happy with the way the sides worked out.

The bit that annoys me

Well, over the 14 weeks since Niamh was born, it has gradually become this.

Plastic canvas box

And I'm much happier now. Now it looks like the box I wanted to make. And reworking it was fun, and I got away with reusing the thread I used in the previous version without needing to buy any more.

Plastic canvas box - side view with crochet lining

I'm especially pleased with the box lining which I crocheted. After a quick look round, I couldn't find any fabric I wanted to line the box, so I crocheted the lining as I has some conveniently coloured cotton yarn. In fact, I think the lining has to be my favourite part of this box now!

Plastic canvas box with crochet lining

Now I can hardly wait to start Twilight Pearls this evening!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

15 again

Here it is! Sue Hawkins 15 sided canvaswork biscornu from the current issue of Stitch magazine. As soon as I saw it, I just couldn't resist it!

15 sided canvaswork pincushion

The stitching itself was fun, and I loved stitching each of the little squares. I particularly like the embellishment - just that little bit over the top for a pincushion! And I was really glad of the excuse to give Shisha a go. I really have been meaning to try it for a long time, but, as usual, never got round to it until now.

5 squares

I did change the design of one square which originally included Queen stitch. I'm not a fan of Queen stitch and just didn't think it added anything to the design here, so I used Star stitch instead.

However, there is one thing about the design and the magazine article that really annoys me. I've seen it in other magazines and other articles too-it's the use of obscure thread brands that are difficult to get hold of. The design as published uses Oliver Twists thread and I know from previous experience that few shops stock this brand. In the past I've completely given up on getting any. This time I tried a bit harder and managed to get hold of one of the required threads, but in the end I still gave up and used Watercolors instead. Don't mistake me - I love the end result, but I did start out wanting to use the original colours.

Who is the target audience of these designs and the magazines? Perhaps professional embroiderers might have access to a wider range of threads. However, I wound have thought that the casual, hobby stitcher like me would prefer to use materials that are readily available. What do you think?

15 sided canvaswork pincushion

I know that some magazines will suggest stockists of materials, but even then they don't necessarily stock everything that's required. In this case, Stitch magazine does not even go as far as suggesting stockists.

So this project has ended very well - I love the Swarovski buttons I've used - but it started out very frustratingly and I had to spend more money getting threads in the colours I wanted than I would have wished. I think a letter to the magazine may be in order.

15 sided canvaswork pincushion

Friday, September 03, 2010

Tweet Tweet

Yes, I've finally succumbed and joined Twitter. You'll have noticed I'venot been around here so much recently, so why on earth start on Twitter too?

One of my reasons is exactly the fact that that I haven't been feeling like blogging his year, and these days I rarely have the time either. So, I have a new plan. I will definately not be blogging regularly for the foreseeable future, but I am intending to tweet something every day. I don't want to loose my online voice through not blogging, and after all, it's much quicker to tweet a single sentence than to write a complete blog post. Blog posts will be limited to those occasions when I have something specific I want to say or to share.

Also my tweeting will not be limited to stitching, crochet or other crafty activities, I'll be tweeting whatever comes into my head. I kind of like the idea of the stream of consciousness.

So follow me on Twitter at or you can subscribe to the rss feed for my tweets.

However, having said this, I actually have several things I want to blog about, if only I could find the time to write the posts!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I might have guessed - just when I think I'm getting somewhere with MTM, along come a whole load of new distractions! Here are some of th things I wish I had more time for.


So not a lot of constructive making going on here!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happy Dancing

Woo hoo - I'm dead chuffed with this! Yesterday I completed part 5 of Medieval Town Mandala - yay!

Medieval Town Mandala - part 5 completed

It's only taken me 2 years to stitch these 4 turquoise and gold corners. As there are still another 7 parts to go, it looks like it could be another 14 years before I finally finish this one!

Anyway, I'll keep going with it for now. I don't have a lot of time at the moment to dig through my stash and plan anything new to stitch, so it's quite useful just to plod on with this and I'm quite enjoying it. There is lots of planning going on in my head - I just hope I don't forget it all before I can do something about it!

So MTM is the main focus of my stitching, but there are bits and pieces of crochet going on too. I put this together last week, having seen similar on Flickr.

Crochet ring

And someone I know was very pleased with her new pink sunglasses last week!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Penny rug style

Penny rug style
Penny rug style
I love penny rugs (see but I've never got round to actualy making one. It's yet another of those things on my mental to-do list that I never quite get aroun to. The closest I've come is this candle mat I made last year.

Bunny parade

It occurred to me recently that you could create a crochet version as it's easy to crochet circular pennies.

The end result works rather well. And there are a whole lot of crochet shapes that would work really well in this way, so I have lots more ideas.

Crochet penny rug

Crocheted using 4 ply 100% cotton yarn and a 1.75mm hook.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


.... joined our family 2 weeks ago, weighing in at 6lb 12oz.

She's here!

She looks a lot like her big sister, but her eyes aren't quite so big. Temperamentally, she's also different from her sister as she's the kind of baby who likes to let you know when she's hungry or thirsty or something's wrong. And she doesn't much like the current hot weather! But her big brother and sister are both absolutely thrilled with her.

I crocheted a couple of blankets for Niamh before she was born.

More granny, more ripple Grey skies....

Since Niamh's arrival, I've managed to pick up both crochet hook and needle and am particularly enjoying stitching on Medieval Town Mandala!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Still here - still pregnant - still working (but only until the end of this week) - still stitching? (Umm, not recently). Still blogging? I just haven't felt the inclination to share the thoughts rattling around inside my head.

Anyway, I've seen the rebirth of the SBQ on several blogs and thought I'd join in!

Suppose we say that there are two types of stitchers.

There are those who enjoy the “process” of stitching. They stitch for stitching’s sake and if something gets finished, so much the better, but it’s not necessarily the end goal. Primarily, it’s the application of needle and thread to cloth that makes them happiest.

Then there are those who are “project” stitchers. They move steadily through their projects, certainly enjoying their stitching time, but finding their greatest joy in the completed stitching.

If you had to pick one to describe yourself, which type of stitcher would you be? I imagine that we could all say that we fall somewhere in between, but really think hard about this and try to pick just one. And once you’ve decided whether you’re a Process or Project stitcher, tell us if your recognize that approach in other parts of your life.

I think I'm a 'process stitcher' - I do enjoy thinking about the what, how and why. But for me the process extends beyond just the stitching itself into the finishing too - I just love trying out different things!

Thanks to Lee for getting things going!

Talking about trying out different things - I've been having lots of fun trying out different things in crochet over the last 6 weeks or so! Here are a few of the things I've been working on.

Crochet flower wreathCrocheted crochet hook caseLonely hexagon
I seem to have developed a thing about hexagons .....Yummy hexagonsRainbow flowers
Waiting for granniesHexagon Rose (with pattern)Springtime candle wreath

The thought of stitching has been floating around over the last few days, but hasn't been persistent enough yet for me to actually do anything about it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Working Mum

One of those mornings this morning where you have to make the choice between work and children. Work won because I knew Iona would be absolutely fine once I left and she had the chance to settle down. She wasn't very well yesterday and extra-clingy this morning because of it. But I had to leave her in tears and it was tough.

I was reading Barbara's blog a week or two back and how she loves to post cute pics of her kids, and I realised that I don't post many pics of my own cute kids.

Iona and I went for a walk in the Botanic Gardens to see the crocuses and I asked her to sit by the pond and give me a big smile. So she sat and stuck out her chin and screwed up her eyes and nose in a funny big smile, but you just don't get to see her beautiful big blue eyes!

Alexander, now, wouldn't be so happy to be referred to as cute - he's growing up! But he is wonderful with his little sister.

Alexander and I were having a little chat yesterday and he was commenting on how big my stomach is getting, or my lump as he likes to call it! The way he's talking you'd think I really was the size of a baby elephant, but I do think I must be at least 4 to 6 weeks ahead of the size I was with Iona. I told him just to think about the size of women expecting twins, triplets or more!

I'm feeling a bit better about crafty stuff this week and have been enjoying some crochet. I just haven't managed to get round to taking any photos of it!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not in the mood

I just don’t seem to be in the mood these days for blogging – don’t really have anything I want to say.
I’m struggling a bit with this pregnancy too – I’m sick of people telling me how wonderful it is to be pregnant or how wonderful it is that I’m pregnant  when I didn’t choose to be pregnant in the first place and even at the best of times still feel rather ambivalent about it. And with the tiredness, grumpiness, lack of sleep, breathlessness, wind and heartburn it just feels like heavy going. I feel like I’m already the size of a baby elephant and I still have over 3 months to go. And this baby really loves to give me a good kicking!
We also have builders in at home extending the house to give us a much larger kitchen and dining room plus extending one bedroom and adding a new one. It’s quite exciting seeing what’s going on, but I’m not particularly looking forward to all the work that we’ll have to get started on in 6 weeks or so when the building is finished. I think we’ll need to get one bedroom finished and the kitchen sorted before the baby arrives.
Anyway, here are a couple of recent finishes.

Hanging roses
This hanging ball of roses (from a Betz White tutorial) is dedicated to Alexander who persuaded me to persevere, that it was worth finishing, one evening when I was feeling particularly apathetic.

Peaches & Cream sampler

Peaches and Cream sampler from the Victoria Sampler - love the design, but I really lost the inclination to work on it when I was in the middle of stitching it. But I really love the drawn thread bands - I was surprised just how much they lift the whole thing.
I’m now working on a bit of crochet, inspired by something Lucy at Attic24 was working on.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The pursuit of perfection – or taking it a bit too far?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a plastic canvas box. It’s taken me longer than I expected – it’s my own design and that design keeps changing as I try different things. This time, however, I’ve come up against what is, to me, a major design flaw. Just when I thought I’d finished the actual stitching on the box and was putting all the bits together.

My starting point was this.

Winter Snowflakes

Winter Snowflakes from Kick Back and Stitch. I stitched it a while ago, but it’s never been finish finished as I couldn’t think how to do it in a way that would show it off the way I wanted to. Then, a few weeks ago, I saw this post on Craftypod and all of a sudden things clicked together in my mind and I came up with the idea of making a plastic canvas box with my Winter Snowflakes in the lid. And I could use the many of the same threads, stitches and so on in stitching the box that I used in the original design. I still think it sounds like a fantastic idea!

So, first of all, I made this for the base of the box. It’s far too nice for the base of a box, but hey-ho that’s what it’s for.

Plastic canvas box base

Then I made some box sides.

Box lid side

The diagonal stitch pattern used here (can't remember what the stitch is called) appears in the Winter Snowflakes design, but I’ve used my own choice of colours. Then I decided that the box sides weren’t going to be tall enough for the type of box I wanted to try. So the box sides became the sides of a box lid.

And when Winter Snowflakes was mounted on some stiff card and fitted into the lid, it was perfect!

Box lid with needlepoint insert

So I stitched some different, taller box sides, stitched them to the base and stitched up the sides.


Then, full of anticipation, I popped on the lid.

Plastic canvas box

Looks OK in this photo, but it’s not perfect! The lid doesn’t come as far down the sides as I’d planned – it’s supposed to come down to the darker area between the two horizontal bands. And the box is now just too tall for what I wanted!

The bit that annoys me

So I’m not sure at the moment what the next step is. I suspect it will involve dismantling the box sides and possibly stitching something completely different. But all this stitching on plastic canvas used a mountain of thread and I’ve run out of the dark blue #5 pearl cotton I’d been using. I don’t know, if I completely frog the sides, whether the threads will be re-usable. And I’ve also run out of one of the colours of metallic braid I was using too and I really didn’t want to spend a small fortune on making this!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cake, anyone? You're all invited!

Come in, come in and welcome! Take your coat off and make yourself at home. There's plenty of birthday cake to go round. Soft drinks and crispy nibbles are in the corner over there by the window. Kettle's on so tea and coffee will be just a minute.

Welcome to my virtual stitchy birthday party! What are you stitching on today? I'm still plodding along on my latest project - you'll see a little sneak peek later. My slump took a downturn at the start of the week- too many interesting things to stitch and seemingly little point in doing any of it. Fortunately things seem to be picking up now.

I had a lovely surprise from the postman about 10 days ago when this gorgeous fob arrived from Anne, as I was a winner in her blogaversary draw.

You can see it there modelling my current project. Spot the plastic canvas. Although, the plastic canvas is rather a means to an end rather than the end in itself. I'll explain better another time.

When my fob arrived, Iona thought it was maybe a bracelet, and had to try it on first. Unfortunately for her, it was too big and luckily for me, it's been living on my favourite pair of scissors ever since!

Anyway, I have to get back to work now. Feel free to stay as long as you like and eat all the cake. I'll pop back later to tidy up.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Why blog? A spot of rambling

For some reason, ‘Why blog?’ is a question that keeps bothering me at the moment. Sometimes blogging is easy, I’m full of thoughts and ideas I want to share. Other times, the ideas are few and far between, I struggle to find something to say, and I can’t think of a good reason why I should say anything.

Similarly, when I’m in a bit of a blogging slump, I also go into a blog reading slump. Not that I stop reading blogs, I just struggle to find them as interesting or inspirational as I do when I’m not in a slump. It’s not that I can’t admire beautiful needlework, it just doesn’t inspire me as it does at other times.

So I’m in a bit of a slump at the moment and wondering why I blog and why so many of the blogs I read just don’t grab me in the way they used to.

As to why I blog, I’ve come up with 3 main reasons, some of which give some insight into what I want from the blogs I read.

  • To share my needlework
  • To ‘meet’ people with similar interests
  • To discuss the stitching process –from choosing what to stitch to finish finishing, what I learn from stitching a particular piece, what I particularly enjoy (or not), what I find inspirational in my stitching and what puts me off, why we do the things we do, stitch the pieces we stitch

The last point is particularly relevant to my blog reading. I’d rather read a blog that discusses the stitching process than one that simply parades an endless array of finishes as if to say ‘look how clever I am’. And I think the discussion is important to bring meaning and context to the finishes themselves – after all, it’s the blood, sweat and tears that go into stitching and/or finishing a piece that really give it a personal significance to us as stitchers.

And I’ll hold my hands up here and say that I completely forgot to include the process bit to my post on my SB finishes - it can be far too easy to get distracted and forget!

And while I’m on about it, can I have a moan about smug bloggers? There’s one particular blog I read (which shall definitely remain nameless) where the smug tone is just driving me nuts at the moment! I keep reading as I love the things she makes and she has some fantastic ideas. But the endless perfect photos and smug rambling about how perfect her life and family are just drive me up the wall at times! Can anyone’s life be that perfect all the time? Like the blood, sweat and tears of stitching, it’s the trials and tribulations of life that make us who we are and give us the opportunity to learn and to grow and are reflected in the things we choose to do and to make.

It’s not that I want to know all the gory details of other people’s personal problems – personally, I’d much prefer not to, although I know we all like the chance to let off steam every now and again. We just don’t do our stitching in a vacuum and real life interferes sometimes, often more than we might want. It’s important to acknowledge where the stitching and real life do collide. And that then influences the stitching process – the what, when, how and why.

And back to my blogging slump – I suppose there are other things in my life (like being unexpectedly pregnant) that have greater priority than blogging. And I admit that I still have days when the completely unexpected part of my pregnancy still gets to me and I’d rather spend time and effort doing other things. Sometimes I do resent the fact that I can’t chase Iona round the house the way I’d like to and join in all the silly games, but from May, I’ll have a lot more time just to be with her.

And it’s annoying me that I can’t think of any baby names I really like!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Production Line

My stitching mojo seems to be back with a bang - I'm rather amazed at what I've achieved over the last 10 days! As the nausea lifted and the desire to stitch returned, I promised myself that I wasn't going to push myself too hard, just make a point of enjoying the stitching.

I seem to have stretched that promise a bit more than I expected with 3 Shepherd's Bush finishes in the last 10 days!

First up is my Family Sampler, although I've realised that I can't finish it completely before June as it includes the initials of my family!

Shepherd's Bush Family Sampler

(Not ironed as it is just being folded up and packed away again until the summer!)

Next, while I was waiting for a stash order to arrive, comes Sweet Pea which I also have the Jill Rensel mat for.

Sweet Pea

Then, as Sweet Pea didn't fill all the waiting time, I started Quaker Heart which I finished last night. Much as I do like the others, I really love this one. And, at this point in time, the words really appeal to me.

Shepherd's Bush Quaker Heart

I'm still waiting for some floss to arrive, so it's on to something different tonight, but not another SB piece!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First finish of the year

And here it is, Medley by Carol Tinson of Heirloom Embroideries! It was started on Christmas Eve and finished on 2 January.


It had been in my stash for a while and I'm glad I finally got round to stitching it. I found stitching the border a bit tedious, but enjoyed stitching the inner motifs. The only difficulty I have with it now is that I find the colours very cold!


After my finish, I drifted a bit, not sure what I felt like stitching next. However on Friday, after admiring Karen's Holly and Ivy Sampler, and having drooled over someone's Quaker Heart (oops - just can't remember where I saw it now, I know it was in a blog header - gorgeous too!), I was in the mood for some Shepherd's Bush stitching. So, over the weekend, I rediscovered my SB Family Sampler! I haven't stitched on it since early last year, but am quite enjoying it so far. Most of the motifs are complete, and for now I'm working my way round the border.