Friday, 15 February 2019

A Monarch A Month - William II

Hello all!

Over the course of the next four years I will be stitching Bothy Thread's Kings and Queens at the slow pace of one monarch per month.

Monarch number 1 was posted quite late in January, but monarch number 2 has been posted at what I hope will become a more regular time each month. And here he is, shown just before he died:

William II from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 7th February 2019
Finished - 10th February 2019
Total stitching time - 5 hours 10 minutes

For those who also liked the little History lesson, here are a few facts about William II, remembering that there is a 300 word limit.

WILLIAM II (William Rufus)
Preceded by William I (father)
Succeeded by Henry I (brother)
Lived c1056-1100 (birth date unknown)
Reigned 1087-1100
Did not marry or have children

William Rufus became King following his father's death in 1087. William I had divided his lands, leaving the Duchy of Normandy to his eldest son, Robert, and the Crown of England to his third (but second surviving and probably favourite) son, William.

William II was, by all accounts, a truly dislikeable person. He was a ruthless and tyrannical King and, like his father, did little or nothing to encompass the English language or way of life.

He was, however, a good soldier, quashing rebellions against him from those who wanted his brother Robert to be king, winning campaigns in northern France against Robert, and securing lands along the England/Scotland border against King Malcolm III of Scotland, whom he eventually defeated at the Battle of Alnwick in 1093. There was no doubt the throne of England was securely his.

Because he never took a wife, nor showed any interest in women, it has been widely speculated, although never proven, that he was homosexual, especially given that he kept a court of attractive and effeminate men around him. Critics argue he had taken a vow of chastity but his constant battles with the church throughout his reign somewhat dispel that argument.

William died in a hunting accident in the New Forest in 1100, being fatally wounded by an arrow fired by one of his retinue, Walter Tirel. His brother, Henry, was in that hunting party and, because of his lack of emotion at his death, and his race to London to be crowned King, there was widespread speculation, although no proof, that it was no 'accident'.

William II was thus succeeded by his youngest brother, Henry.

So, next month, Henry I.

On another note, thank you to everyone who has so far taken part in the Fully Finished Gallery SAL. There have been lots of busy fingers and some wonderful FFOs shown this month and, since the link will be open for another 4 days, it's still not too late to enter! If you haven't had a chance to look at some of the entries yet, please consider following a few of the links. Thank you.

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Link-up for Fully-Finished Gallery SAL February 2019

Hello all!

Welcome one and all to the inaugural month of the Fully-Finished Gallery SAL 2019! This is my first attempt at a link-up so please bear with me if there are teething problems.

The aim of this SAL is to encourage all cross stitchers to fully-finish at least some of their completed cross stitch projects and proudly show them off via this gallery. These might be projects which have been gathering dust for weeks/months/years and/or projects which have recently been completed; it doesn't matter. But bearing in mind how many unfinished projects there must be out there, this SAL shouldn't have a shortage of entries!

Whether you are a regular fully-finisher, an ad-hoc fully-finisher or a reluctant fully-finisher, you are all welcome and I look forward to seeing your entries over the coming months. If you are unsure of anything, the FFG SAL 2019 page at the top of my blog may help, or just ask.

So let's start with my offerings.

Since the beginning of the year I have fully-finished three pieces. They are all from this year's projects rather than from my Box Of Shame, but at least it means I'm keeping up to date with fully-finishing as I'm going. All three have all been finished as little reversible hanging ornaments, a new-to-me technique for 2019 and one which is gradually growing on me.

 January In Garnet
completed for my Year Of Birthstones

 A Very Merry Winter
completed for the January Smalls SAL

 February In Amethyst
completed for my Year Of Birthstones

Now I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing which projects you have fully-finished since the beginning of the year and, just as importantly, how.

Please link-up using the URL of your FFG SAL post and not the home page of your blog, adding a thumbnail of a finish and either your name or your blog name as the caption. The link-up will remain open for 10 days, closing at 6am UK time on 20th February.

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And please don't forget to follow other links and see what fellow fully-finishers have been up to; you never know, other projects may give you an idea for your next finish!

Once the link-up has closed I shall update the side of my blog with the number of entrants and entries.

Next month's link-up will go live at 6am GMT on 10th March so you have plenty of time to fully-finish another project (or more). See you there!

Happy fully-finishing!
Rachel x

Thursday, 7 February 2019

New Start - Green Halloween Banner by Artecy

Hello again!

Yes, I'm back with another new start! Obviously not satisfied with the other new projects already on my frames I couldn't resist the pull of this one too. I've had the chart for a few years and am so happy to have finally made a start. Here's my first 10 hours of progress, which I actually completed in January but am only now posting about:

Green Halloween Banner by Artecy
Stitched on 16ct cream aida 2 over 1
Stitch count 57 wide by 201 high
Started - 25th January 2019

And a reminder of the finished piece:

I must admit I was tempted into stitching all the black first but, knowing that lighter colours can pick up some of the black dye, I opted to stitch the colours first then fill in the black afterwards. So far so good, and when I eventually get to the hill, stitching all that black will make for hours of mindless no-counting fun!

This will be the last of my new starts for now. There's one more that's on my have-to-stitch-this-year list (Haunted Library by Mill Hill) but I think this one, along with Hogwarts and Parrot on Parade are enough to be getting on with for now.

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

February in Amethyst - started and finished!

Hi all!

At the beginning of each month I will be stitching a little calendar piece, by Palkolp, in that month's birthstone colour. This idea was inspired by Jo's People's Choice SAL Birthstone posting and from her link to a website about birthstones.

February's birthstone is amethyst:

The February born shall I find
Sincerity and peace of mind
Freedom from passion and from care
If they, the amethyst will wear

Visit if you would like to read little interesting snippets of information about amethysts.

Here's my little amethyst tribute, with a different beaded border to January as I've decided all 12 are going to be different:

February by Palkolap
Stitched on 16ct Azalea over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitch count 47 wide by 47 high
Stitched with DMC 52 and Mill Hill frosted seed beads 62042
Started - 1st February 2019
Finished - 4th February 2019
Total stitching time - 4 hours 15 minutes

But... Oh. My. Goodness! I think I found my nemesis! For such a small and simple design (whose chart is clearly gridded and has only one symbol) I had so many problems I'm sure I could have stitched it three times over in the time it took me to finish it! If you fancy a good laugh, read on...

*after stitching the top row of hearts I thought the fabric I'd chosen was a bit too dark but carried on and stitched the month before deciding it really was too dark. Time for a restart. Just over two hours wasted.

* I got to the same point again on new fabric and realised three of the four hearts were wrong, so I frogged them only to find it was the fourth heart that was wrong and not the three I'd unpicked! Duh! Another hour or more wasted frogging and restitching!

* I finally finished all the stitching and started beading the border. I must have had half a dozen attempts to get just the top right because I either started in the wrong place or miscounted. All I had to do was follow my pattern and count in increments of ones, twos and threes! Obviously too difficult on a Sunday. So more wasted time!

* when I finally got to the second side of the border, the beads didn't match up as I'd designed them, so I counted and recounted and knew that they were right... in which case I deduced the stitching had to be wrong. Yep! The hearts on both the top and bottom were one stitch too far away from the month, meaning the design was not a square as it should be. Now, I fully admit I could have left it and fudged the border, but the perfectionist in me couldn't cope with the fact this design would be a slightly different size to the others... so... out came the frogging needle again. The beads and all eight hearts were unpicked and the hearts finally restitched IN THE RIGHT PLACE! Two more hours wasted!

Finally the beading went smoothly (Monday is obviously a better day for counting to three!) the project was finished and I'm really pleased with the result. To be honest, I think the restitched hearts are in better shades than the originals so maybe all that frogging was meant to be!

Talk about people having a senior moment; I think I had a senior weekend!

But none of it frustrated me and I rolled my eyes and laughed my way through it all and at my total incompetence at being able to stitch such an easy piece correctly. When it comes to stitching March's chart I'll no doubt approach it with caution!

I hope to be able to fully-finish this little piece in time for the FFG SAL on the 10th but, given the problems it's caused me so far, I don't know if I dare touch it again!

Talking of the FFG SAL... if you're planning to participate I hope your preparations are well under way? Just under a week to go until the first link-up post goes live!

Take care (especially if it involves counting up to three!)
Rachel x

Saturday, 2 February 2019

People's Choice SAL - Hearts

Hello all

It's the first Saturday of the month so it's time for the People's Choice SAL run by Jo from Serendipitous Stitching. Continued thanks to Jo for hosting this unique SAL which has a different theme each month.

This month's theme is hearts, the symbol of love and romance.

Right, in no way am I a lovey-dovey person so I try to steer clear of stitching projects which have romantic undertones. However a trawl through my projects revealed I have stitched a couple of small hearts:

February Flip-It Stamp by Lizzie Kate

Heart Dolphins by Durene Jones (magazine chart)

As for heart charts in my stash, they're also very few and far between:

I downloaded this free DMC Colour Variation Heart a few years ago but have no idea where from.

 Love Heart charts from a magazine dated February 1999
(I have absolutely no idea why I kept this chart but it's come in handy for this SAL!)

I don't know about the rest of the world, but in the UK we have a sweet called Love Hearts which have little supposedly 'romantic' sayings on them. You can see some of them above - Real Love, Crazy, How Sweet, Kiss, Cool, All Mine - but they've changed in the 30-odd years since I last bought them to include emoticons. I bought a packet just for this post so I could show you how awful some of the phrases still are (if you can read them!)

I then went internet trawling and found some heart cross stitches with a difference and ones which I would actually consider stitching:

image 0
Family Heart from MotherBeeDesigns (etsy)
(another excuse to break out the variegated thread)

Image result for cross stitch let's eat chocolate
Let's Eat Chocolate by Imaginating

And who doesn't love a needle minder?

I shall, of course, look forward to seeing what Jo and the other entrants to this SAL have to offer for their Hearts posts. Hopefully other stitchers are more 'romantic' than me and we'll see some lovely heart-themed projects.

Next month's theme is Freebies.

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

A Monarch A Month - William I

Hello all!

Here's another new start for 2019 but one which will be an almost-four-year-long project. This is Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads, being stitched, as the title indicates, at the slow pace of one monarch each month.

I was hoping to have this stitched a lot earlier this month, but constant procrastination over the fabric caused quite a delay, as did having to re-grid the whole chart because I wanted to space out both the columns and rows more. And, of course, counting evenweave seems 10x more difficult than aida so the griding of the fabric (which I very rarely do) took an age too. No point starting until I was 100% certain I was in the right place!

Anyway, this is how the finished piece will eventually look... well... sort of as I have a few changes planned!

* the columns and rows will be spaced out a little more
* the backstitching and lettering (which will be tidied up in places) will be in 3799 dark grey instead of black
* seed beads (yet to be purchased) will replace the french knots (except for the eyes)
* a border will be added around the outside, hopefully to make it look like a scroll and probably stitched in a bluey-grey/grey variegated thread if I can find a suitable one
* the title will be moved to the top
* the space in the bottom right will have a list of the heirs to the throne as they stand in 2022

Here is my first monarch, but without the beads on the shield, his spurs and the i's of William:

William I from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Stitched on 32ct Vintage Marble Murano 2 over 2
Started - 26th January 2019
Finished 28th January 2019
Total stitching time - 5 hours 55 minutes

But instead of just showing you the mini finish each month I thought I'd include some historical facts about each monarch along the way. It's not my intention to bore you or bombard you with information so I have given myself a 300 word limit (not easy for someone who talks a lot and has extensive knowledge of the monarchy!) Anyway, you can always skip this bit if the monarchy and/or British History are not your thing.

WILLIAM I (William the Conqueror)
Preceded by King Harold
Succeeded by William II
Lived c1028-1087 (birth date unknown)
Reigned 1066-1087
Married to Matilda c1051 until her death in 1083
Had 9 or 10 children - 4 boys and 5/6 girls

William, Duke of Normandy, became the first Norman king of a united England when he triumphed over King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He was related to Harold’s predecessor, Edward the Confessor, so had a legitimate claim to the English throne. He had previously been promised the crown by Edward upon his death so when Harold (the mere son of an Earl) became king, William was not happy.

William spent his early reign consolidating his position and power by, for example, undertaking an extensive castle-building programme to help quash the numerous rebellions against him, replacing members of the English nobility with French nobles, and strategically marrying off his daughters.

He remained very French throughout his reign, learning little English, surrounding himself with French courtiers and customs, and spending long periods in France.

He was a keen hunter and created an area in the south of England, now known as the New Forest, as his personal hunting ground. His second son, Richard, was killed in a hunting accident there in 1075.

In 1086 William ordered a record be made of the landholdings in England. The resulting Domesday Book is still considered an important historical document.

William died in France in 1087, probably as result of a riding accident, and was buried in the Abbeye-aux-Hommes in Caen. His funeral was a hurried affair since, in attempting to squeeze his bloated body into the tomb, his guts burst and the resulting stench was extremely unpleasant!

William I was succeeded by his third son, William Rufus, whilst his first son, Robert, became Duke of Normandy.

If you read all that (299 words!) I hope you enjoyed the little history lesson!

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 20 hours

Hello all!

Yes, some of you guessed correctly, after Parrot on Parade I couldn't resist returning to my most important piece of stitching this year! I had some lovely comments on my previous Hogwarts post, thank you, and they helped ensure I return to this project rather than indulge in another new start.

Here's how I left it after 10 hours:

And now after 20 hours:

And the full piece:

I'm afraid it's only more bottle top and cork, so nothing particularly exciting yet. But progress is progress. I reckon I might just get to the actual castle towards the end of the next 10 hour session and then it'll start getting really interesting - not that it isn't interesting now but it'll be lovely to start stitching the Hogwarts castle itself.

This project has to go away for a couple of weeks now while I squeeze in something before month end and then stitch my 3 beginning-of-the-month projects for February. But it will definitely make an appearance again immediately after those. Promise!

Take care,
Rachel x