May 2016 Update

I achieved the goal I set myself last week to finish off Mr. Christmas Teddy, here he is with all his shiny details:

Finished Christmas Teddy

The couching on his scarf took the longest time, I tried to get a better photo of it to show it off:

Christmas Teddy Details

I won’t be making him up into anything for a while, I’m going to finish off the other 3 designs then, when the season is nearer, I’ll decide if I need ornaments or cards. I’ve made a start on Ornament number 4, but it doesn’t look like anything very much just yet!

Fourth Christmas Ornament

There are about six different shades of green in here so far, I’m glad to be stitching this now rather than in the rubbish light of Winter!

Also in May I’ve had a go at making my own teabags and tea blends, which has been pretty successful so far and very enjoyable! I’ll do a whole post about that next week maybe ūüėÄ

A Tapestry and A Teddy

I never did find a frame I liked for the tapestry kit I did last month, so I’m just going to post it here bare!

I haven’t done any tapestry since primary school, so this was a fun little project. My Nana has cleared out a ton of her old cover kit stash and turned it over to me, and I loved this little countryside scene so I stitched it up immediately. Obviously it’s much quicker to stitch than cross stitch or embroidery, but the quality of the wool was pretty poor so I didn’t totally love making it up. I’ll go have a trawl around some charity shops later this weekend to see if I can chance upon a correctly sized frame for it, I would like to give it back to my Nana to go on the wall of her new bedroom.

I’ve also been working on the third of six Beaded Elegance Christmas ornaments, which is this cute little teddy bear:

Christmas Teddy WIP

He needs some backstitch, couching and beading but I want to get him finished this weekend too. I’m not 100% sure yet if I want to make him up as another ornament or if I think he might be better as a card for a young neice – but then I’ll have an odd number of ornaments!

Braiding – First Attempt!

I’ve just finished the second ornament from the Dimensions ‘Beaded Elegance’ kit, and I was looking for a slightly more professional looking finish than my last one (the Snowman, here). While hunting the internet for inspiration, I found Pinwheel Ponders, a blog almost entirely dedicated to a huge variety of cross stitched Christmas ornaments in dozens of shapes and finishes, with incredibly detailed instructions and helpful pictures for every step.

I followed ¬†Ms. Pinwheel’s instructions to the letter, and was really pleased with how much better this ornament¬†looks than my last one!

Finished Christmas Tree- front

Finished Christmas Tree (2)

Look at those sharp corners! Ms. Pinwheel’s instructions truly are foolproof if even someone as inexperienced as I managed to achieve these results! I even had a go at making my own braid to go around the edge and hide the seam, which was a bit of a trial-and-error sort of affair in terms of making enough braid to go all around. I tried triple, then quadruple¬†the necessary length and still came up a little short. Unfortunately, by my third try I had run out of thread so I had to make do with what was left,¬†and do my best to hide the joins with the big white ribbon loop.

Overall, I’m really proud of myself and I know what to improve for next time – there are four more ornaments to go and by the last one, I hope to be an expert!¬†Many thanks to Ms. Pinwheel and her wonderful blog too!

Now, for a change, I’m going back to work on my Pokemon project for a bit – I’m really in the mood to get stuck back into something big and challenging for a while.

Happy stitching everyone!

Drama Free 2016

This year, I have decided, is going to be Drama Free 2016. After the roller coaster of non-stop crises and panics that was 2015, I am determined not to do anything at all this year to rock the boat – it’s going to be smooth sailing and calm waters for the whole of 2016. I’m going to focus on finishing the current modules of my University course, do my best at work without pushing for any more advancement or responsibilities, and take better care of myself, my family and friends. I think last year I was trying to do way too much at once and it all blew up in my face, horrifically and repeatedly – but no more, because this is Drama Free 2016!

To get my year off to a good start, I want to share some happy crafty news – I won a prize! I’ve never won a write-in contest in my entire life, so when an unexpected parcel from Cross Stitch Gold magazine turned up at my door, I was naturally very excited.

I’ve been sent 2 beautiful¬†cross stitch kits for cushion covers from Golden Circle Designs: ‘Chelsea’ and ‘Dream of Alhambra’

Priza (1)         

They’re absolutely lovely¬†designs, and perfect for me since my living room is decorated in navy and moss green. I hadn’t heard of this designer before, but all her designs are the sort of historically and folk-inspired projects that I’m really into at the moment, and if these 2 kits are anything to go by, they look to be very good¬†quality. I am super excited to get started on these – the green one first I think – just as soon as I’ve finished up the remainder of my Christmas ornaments (yes, I know – it’s February and I’m STILL stitching Christmas things!)

I hope this lovely surprise is an indicator of good fortune and a drama free year to come, and I hope that all you readers are having a year that is exactly as exciting (or otherwise!) as you wish¬†‚̧

Skyscape Completed, Plus Kit Review

Skyscape is done, pressed and framed! Hooray!

Skyscape Finsihed

Admittedly, the frame is not a perfect fit, but it’s good enough for now. I found it lying around in a pile of spares, and I really can’t be doing with trying to get a custom sized one at the moment. Here’s a close up of the details in the beading and metallics to distract you from the poor framing ;D ¬†:

Skyscape Detail

I’ve put it up in a hallway with my Bioshock poster, and another print in similar colours, and I’m pretty pleased with how it looks:

Skyscape Hung

Please excuse the horrible wallpaper, my apartment is a rental so I can’t change it no mater how much I want to!

As usual, I’m going to sum up my experience with this kit in case any readers are planning to buy from the same company or designer. The kit is ‘Skyscape’ by Classic Embroidery, and the designer is Barbara Thompson

Here’s a look at the kit contents – Anchor threads, a silver metallic, some opalescent beads, 14 count aida and 3 needles, for cross stitch, backstitch and beading respectively:

Skyscape Contents

PROS –¬†

  • Really good quality materials, even the metallic thread was a pleasure to stitch with.
  • I adore the designs in the series, art deco is one of my favourite styles and I think they’re really unique and unusual. They look really modern and elegant displayed in a home compared to some of the more traditonal / old fashioned designs available.
  • Super simple to follow chart in a large print, with an easy-to-read key and symbols.
  • It was very fun to stitch and quick to complete, with lots of large areas of the same colour.
  • Very detailed instructions, ideal for cross stitch beginners
  • Great customer service from the team at Classic Embroidery

CONS –¬†

  • Nowhere near enough silver metallic thread provided, I ran out less than halfway through the project. However, one quick email to Classic Embroidery and there was a brand new skein posted to me free of charge. There was plenty of all the other materials.
  • Black and white only chart – not that colours would have helped me much, but I know some people prefer it!

Skyscape Progress Halted

I have really enjoyed stitching Skyscape so far, and have done quite a bit of it (by my standards). I felt like I was on a roll!

Skyscape progress to date

Skyscape progress to date

However, I have not even got halfway through and I have run out of the silver thread supplied in the kit. I have several different¬†silver threads in my stash, but none of them match exactly, and I don’t have the time to unpick all of the silver just so I can re-do it in a stash-friendly colour. I’ve contacted the kit manufacturer, Classic Embroidery, who have promised to send me some more, free of charge, as soon as they re-open…but that isn’t for another week or so yet. I am very pleased with their customer service, but just a little disappointed that I can’t keep stitching right away!

My question now is this: should I do all the other colours and fill in the silver last when it arrives in (hopefully) 2 weeks time? Or should I give in to temptation and start a new little project while I wait?

Holiday Stitching

I’ve just got back from a lovely break in Dorset (on the South coast of England for my overseas readers), and had every intention of updating my blog with all the stitching I had got done over the holiday.

West Bay, Dorset - my holiday base camp and the filming location of the TV show 'Broadchurch'

West Bay, Dorset – my holiday base camp and the filming location of the TV show ‘Broadchurch’

However, as is so often the case, the holiday was so full of activities that I ended up doing very little! The sun shone almost all the time, so there was lots of shooting, sailing and sightseeing, as well as cider-tasting, fossil-finding and garden-visiting; by the time I made it back each evening, I was far too tired to sew.

A view of the gardens of Mapperton House, the setting for the new film version of 'Far From the Madding Crowd'

A view of the gardens of Mapperton House, the setting for the new film version of ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’

I did treat myself to a few charity-shop bargains, including a dozen or so pre-2000 Cross Stitcher magazines – the 90s nostalgia is powerful, and the fashion choices now somewhat questionable, but old cross stitch designs are still great even if they require some adapting to bring them up to date.DMC Flowers of the Month Kit

I also snagged this DMC kit, ‘Flowers of the Seasons’, for a couple of pounds which seems to have been discontinued sometime when I was still in school!! Not sure that I’ll ever actually stitch it but it is still in good condition so it will probably end up on the old Ebay store in due course.

As for my actual stitching, I started a new large project, my first since I finished the Geishas. Here it is, along with all the progress I have to show for my time away:

As you can see, I got an awful lot done…or not! This is the Art Deco Skyscape by Barbara Thompson, which I got from Choices HERE, along with a matching design from the same range. I was immediately drawn to this picture for several reasons, it would match the decor in the living room, and it contains shiny beads being just two – but mostly it reminded me of one of my favourite video games, Bioshock.

Cityscape from the game Bioshock, which inspired my purchase of this kit

Cityscape from the game Bioshock, which inspired my purchase of this kit

In this game, you are exploring a massive underwater metropolis called Rapture set in the 1960s, but with heavy art deco influences in the design of the architecture and the character’s costumes. I thought the blues and aquas in the kit were reminiscent of the ocean, and the beads made me think of pearls and the softness of lights seen through water.

In any case, now I have yet another half-finished project on the go as my main holiday souvenir, along with half a dozen bottles of mead and a sunburned nose!

May 2015 – Pansies Kit Review

I spent most of May working on larger projects, none of which are finished enough to show here, but I did get time to make a birthday card for my mother-in-law.

Pansies birthday card - DMC Floral Quick Kit

Pansies birthday card – DMC Floral Quick Kit

I found this little DMC Floral Quick Kit in yet another bag of inherited stash. I think¬†it must be very old as I can’t find any internet references to this series of kits, except for one or two eBay listings, but it has held up well ¬†and had no wear or damage at all. I did make one small change and backstitched the leaves and stems of the flowers in green instead of black, because I had a lot of green left over at the end and I thought the black looked too severe on the model. Looking back, I think the leaves lack definition now, so I should have either stuck with the black and just did as I was told, or looked for a darker shade of green. I’m not the best at following instructions, I tend to just wander off with my own ideas sometimes when I really shouldn’t!

DMC Quick Stitch Floral Kit - Pansies

DMC Quick Stitch Floral Kit – Pansies

Even though you probably can’t buy these any more, and it is a super tiny kit, here’s a quick review.

Pros –¬†

  • Tiny and very quick to stitch, as the title suggests! I think it took me about two evenings to get¬†this done. Also a good size to be turned into a card or small gift.
  • Lovely traditional design, perfect for someone with more classical¬†tastes.
  • High¬†quality materials and printing. Chart was easy to read and the threads had not worn or frayed over time.

Cons¬†–¬†

  • Black and white chart only, backstitch instructions were therefore unclear but manageable. No suggestion¬†on number of strands to use, so I just went with what felt right.
  • Ran out of pink thread about half way through, and had to salvage a similar colour from another kit. No thread numbers provided to make an exact match,

April 2015 – Mini Projects

I have had such a busy April – spring cleaning, attending concerts, new clients at work and effectively re-learning to drive – that I have had hardly any time to stitch or craft for myself at all. I have experimented in the kitchen a little with some new recipes, and had equal parts success and catastrophic failure (don’t mention the rock solid flapjacks, for example), but very little to show for myself on the stitching front.

I’ve been stitching cover kits and tiny projects in my little gaps of free time though, as well as plodding on with my Magnum Opus, which will be ready for an update soon I think. Here’s a few of the cards I’ve made up for birthdays and so on in May (click for bigger)

The apples card will be for Father’s Day, as it reminds me of the smell of my Grandad’s house – he used to make his own cider in the garage, and had an apple tree in the back garden which I would often¬†climb as a child. My Nan still makes delicious cinnamon crumbles from those apples!

I’ve gone a bit overboard with ribbons and bows and thrown on a few sequins for good measure, as there is no such thing as too much sparkle on a card…Probably.

Bargain Hunting!

I haven’t posted anything here for almost a month! It has been a very busy month with lots of commissioned work which I am unable to post publicly, and all the stress and excitement of buying a new car as well. So, instead of a progress update or a completion photo, all I have to share today is this little bargain which I stumbled across in a local charity shop:

'Protective Care' kit by Lanarte

‘Protective Care’ kit by Lanarte

I’m always so excited to find hidden treasures like this in charity shops! It is a complete, apparently unopened Lanarte kit of a super cute momma elephant and her calf for only a few pounds, as opposed to the ¬£35 RRP tag still on the back from a UK craft superstore with outrageous prices that shall not be named here! In the past I’ve snagged a box of old cross-stitch magazines and books, as well as some beautiful unfinished crewel-work tablecloths which I hope to get round to restoring and completing some day.

I was lucky enough to see some elephants up close and in person at Kruger National Park, but these were not as placid and friendly as the ones in this kit – in fact, I think it is safe to say that it was a somewhat-near-death experience! We had not gone out with the intention of finding an elephant, and¬†I suppose¬†he was just as surprised to see¬†us, and charged tusks-first towards our little van. The driver reversed at full speed around a stand of trees and out of the elephant’s sight-line, securing our escape! I wonder if he was also protecting a little family like these two in the kit.

Hopefully I will have some new charts and finishes up later this week, as my commission pile is almost clear!