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

Friday 25 January 2019

Smalls SAL - January 2019

Hello all!

So here we are at the start of another year of Smalls SAL... but with a different host! Thank you, Mary, for taking over the reins and continuing to run this fun little SAL, and thank you, Heather, for nurturing it during its first four years.

My January offering is a bit bigger than a project I would normally class as a small, but was still a quick-enough stitch to keep it within my 'how big is a small' parameters.

It was also another opportunity to break out some variegated threads to add a different dimension to the design.

A Very Merry Winter by JBW Designs
Stitch Count 59 wide by 77 high
Stitched on 16ct Glacier over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Started - 3rd January 2019
Finished - 6th January 2019
Total stitching time - 7 hours 20 minutes

I made a few changes, using Threadworx 1089 Bleeding Heart for the red, 1016 Crystal Blue for the blue and 10302 Reflections for the white. The black buttons and bird footprints (or are they seeds?) were stitched instead of using beads, and the hat was stitched in the variegated blue instead of the two blues suggested, although I did choose a dark blue for the bobble. Oh, and instead of using buttons, the snowflakes were stitched in the new Mouline Etolie blanc thread for a bit of sparkle.

It's not particularly clear but the writing for the body of the snowman says 'Have a very merry winter'. I did consider backstitching around it but then thought it would look wrong so didn't.

And, of course, he's been finished off, but not in my usual way! This is a new-for-me finishing technique and I have to say I'm very happy with it, especially since it can be made into a double-sided ornie if required (something I'm not intending to do, but you never know).

I have a second Small this month too, as I hope to have every month. The stitched piece has already appeared on my blog but now it's also been fully-finished, using the same technique as above. I don't think it looks quite as good but it'll do I suppose:

 Birthstone of the month - January In Garnet

That's it for this month. See you for the February check-in.

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 20 January 2019

New Start - Parrot On Parade - 10 hours

Hello one and all!

I couldn't help another new start and will dive straight in with the 10 hour progress picture:

Parrot On Parade by Bothy Threads
Stitched on 16ct Sand Dune over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Started 13th January 2019

I'm absolutely loving the reds and corals in this one, which is just as well considering they make up the majority of the project! Eventually he will look like this:

The fabric supplied in the kit is 14ct speckled white, shown above, but because I don't do 14ct I swapped it for Sand Dune. I could have chosen any variety of pinks, blues or neutrals, but thought this neutral one looked the best. I don't think I made a mistake.

Now to decide whether to stick with this one, go back to Hogwarts or start another new project. And I've decided to...

... make you wait to find out!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 16 January 2019

New Start - Hogwarts In A Bottle - 10 hours

Good morning!

Oh, boy, oh boy, oh boy, am I enjoying this new start or what?! I've been desperately wanting to start this since I first purchased it last June and now my dream has come true!

Here's the first progress picture after 10 hours, both close up and on the whole piece of fabric:

Hogwarts In A Bottle by CutePatternsByMaria (etsy)
Stitched on 16ct Lazurite hand-dyed aida by Chromatic Alchemy 2 over 1
Started - 7th January 2019

And one last reminder of how the project will eventually look:

There are a lot of blended threads in this project; out of 55 symbols 23 use blended threads. I've stitched some already and must admit they make such a difference when transitioning between two colours. Obviously!

Having been really pleased with the colour of the fabric, I had even more luck with it. As I began stitching I thought the holes seemed a bit closer together and that I was getting more stitches out of a length of thread than usual. Yep! Although 16ct, the aida obviously shrank during the dyeing process and is now 17.25ct! This means less show through and a very slighter smaller end project, both of which I'm happy with!

After finishing the 10 hours on this one I had more stitching time left that night, so had a choice of either sitting twiddling my fingers or starting another new project. No-brainer decision really! The new one will, no doubt, be appearing for your inspection soon (and that's a very subtle clue as to which one it is!)

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 13 January 2019

Fully-Finished Gallery SAL - progress update

Hi all!

Wow! It's only been a few days but I've already had so many positive comments about this SAL that I wanted to pop by and say thank you. Further thanks to those who have promoted this idea on your blogs too; it's been very much appreciated.

You have agreed that perhaps this is the proverbial 'kick up the backside' some of you need to get going with your FFOs so it seems as if my mission to see more fully-finished objects may indeed not be impossible!

Some of you who commented won't have had replies as either your comments did not come through as emails or you are a no-reply blogger. In these instances I have left replies in the comments section of the original post so please check them out. There's nothing I can do about the former, but if you are a no-reply blogger, please consider changing so that all bloggers can reply to your comments (I can help you out with how to do it, as blogger decides once a month or so that I should be a no-reply blogger so I regularly have to go through the process!)

There is now a logo for the SAL which you can find on the top right of my blog. It's quite a simple logo, designed to look like a stamp (and took hubby all of 10 minutes to make!) but does have impact, I think. Please copy and add it to the top of each FFG SAL post. I'll come up with a better one for 2020 if I decide to change it.

At the top of my blog you'll also find a page dedicated to this SAL. I've tried not to lay down any 'rules' as such but have written guidelines. Please take time to read it, and let me know if you think I've missed anything.

I've found and already set up a nice linky-widget thingy with thumbnails for when you check-in, and a spreadsheet has been set up ready to be populated with the relevant data, so now it's just a waiting game... well, waiting and fully-finishing game if you're intending to join in!

I'm so excited about this new venture and I hope you are too. 27 days and counting!

Happy fully-finishing!
Rachel x

Thursday 10 January 2019

New SAL Coming Soon - "Fully-Finished Gallery"

Hi all!

I'm on a mission... and I don't think it's impossible! It might not be easy, but I'm up for the challenge... are you?

Related image

My mission... to see more cross stitch projects being fully-finished in 2019 (and beyond). Here's why and how...

There are lots of really great cross stitch SALs out there which encourage new starts, stitching progress and happy dances. But what happens to a lot of those projects afterwards?

It saddens me that there are probably hundreds of completed cross stitches stored away in drawers and boxes when all that might be needed is a bit of encouragement or inspiration for their owners to dive in and have a go at fully-finishing some, even if it's only one or two.

I appreciate that fully-finishing a project can be daunting and probably not as much fun as the stitching itself (not to mention taking valuable time away from more stitching!) and I used to be a reluctant fully-finisher for just those reasons but, trust me, seeing a lovingly-stitched project on display after being fully-finished is immensely satisfying.

My travels through blogland are by no means extensive but I'm not aware of a place for stitchers to group together to share their fully-finished objects in something like a Fully-Finished Gallery. So I thought, why not create one?

And this is where you come in.

Image result for i need your help

I am going to start a Fully-Finished Gallery SAL to be run on the 10th of each month, starting 10th February 2019, with a linky-up widget thingy where you can join in and post your recently-completed fully-finished objects.

An FFO could be anything from sticking a project onto a piece of card to having it professionally framed, and covering everything in between - bags, bookmarks, boxes, coasters, cubes, gift tags, keyrings, ornaments, pillows, purses, scrapbook pages, tablecloths, tissue boxes, wall hangings... anything... as long as it's been fully-finished. Let your imagination run riot!

I very much want this to be a no pressure SAL so there will be no need to sign up and no commitment required - you just post as and when you have something to show. But to add to the fun, for each month you enter, your name will go into a draw for an end of year prize giveaway of some sort. How does that sound?

It is my hope to see FFOs by both regular and the more reluctant or ad-hoc finishers and that having somewhere central to post and share FFOs, and a variety of finishing techniques, might be just what's needed to give others inspiration and motivation to encourage even more finishes.

Please leave a comment if you like this idea and think you might join in, just so I know I won't be alone! And please feel free to spread the word on your own blog, or add a link back to this post if you wish - the more who know about it and can be encouraged or guilt-tripped into giving fully-finishing a go the better!!

So, come on, dust off your UFOs, turn them into FFOs and between us let's proudly populate this Fully-Finished Gallery with our cross stitch handiwork! Even if you only try it once it's one less UFO sitting around.

I'll set up a page with the 'rules' and write another post or two closer to 10th February to keep you updated. I'm also looking for a good logo (I'm not very imaginative!) so suggestions are welcome (or if you would like to design one...?)

Finally, a big shout out to two bloggers who have encouraged me with this idea; your positivity has helped no end. You know who you are. Thank you xx.

Like I said, I'm on a mission... and with your help it definitely won't be impossible!

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 5 January 2019

People's Choice SAL - New Starts

Hi all!

It's the first Saturday of the month (and of the New Year) so it must be time for Jo from Serendipitous Stitching's People's Choice SAL. Continued thanks to Jo for hosting this unique SAL which will have a different theme each month.

This month's theme is so appropriate for January as it's New Starts and, let's be honest, who doesn't love a new start (or more) especially at the beginning of a new year? There's just something so enjoyable about opening a kit, or finding the right threads and fabric, and putting in that first little x.

Having shown my planned 2019 new starts on 1st January I didn't want to repeat myself here so decided to go in a different direction, and ask 'what kind of new starter are you?'

I came up with four general (and by no means exclusive or exhaustive) categories of new starters:

1) the One (or two or maybe three) At A Time stitcher who has just finished their previous project

2) the stitcher who picks up a new start as and when they feel like it but still keeps their number of WIPs relatively small (say 5-10)

3) the stitcher who joins in with new-start SALs or has a period of new starts etc. but who is still comfortable with the number of WIPs they have (maybe 10-25 ish?)

4) the stitcher who has 'new-startitis' and wants to stitch all of their stash 'now' so quite happily allows their WIP pile to grow and grow and grow

In no way am I intending this to be critical or judgemental, just a bit of fun. Each stitcher is different and it's that diversity which makes blog reading so interesting; we all encourage each other along no matter what or how many projects are on the go.

So, will any of you admit into which category you fall, or perhaps into which category you wished you belonged? Here's my 'confession'...

For my first few years of stitching I was definitely in the first category, then fell into the second, before completely skipping the third and falling head-long into the fourth. By strictly-imposed self-restraint and planning I've sort of been in category three for the last two years but that will change this year as I refuse to work on any current WIPs and treat myself to a year working only on new starts. Given the opportunity, though, I would feel quite at home living permanently in category four and start everything in my stash without considering the long-term consequences. Sometimes I curse myself for being far too sensible!!!

It's not very clear, but here's a little bar chart I made of my new starts each year from 1993 to 2018. Hmmm, bet you can't guess when I had my crazy startitis years??!!

Now it's your turn. Like I said, I'm not intending this to be judgemental, just a bit of fun, but you don't have to say if you don't want to.

Finally, as this is supposed to be a post about 'new starts' I definitely can't leave without at least one picture! This is a project I would love to be able to start (and finish ha,ha,ha!!) in the next few years:

Spring Owl by Artecy (the other seasons are also available here!)

And this is a project I'm holding off from purchasing because I know that once I do own it it will become a new start straight away and then I'll regret not having a lot of time to dedicate to it:

Harry Potter's Magic Shelf by LoLaLottaShop (etsy)

Like I said, sometimes I curse myself for being far too sensible!

I hope you've enjoyed my New Start post; I will enjoy reading your confessions if you've chosen to share them!

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 3 January 2019

January In Garnet - finished!

Hi all!

I have my first finish for 2019!

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 a couple of months ago, and from her link to a website about birthstones.

January's birthstone is garnet:

Her who in January was born
No gems save garnets shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity

Visit if you would like to read little interesting snippets of information about garnets (thanks go to Jo for providing the link in her original Birthstone post).

Here's my garnet tribute then:

January by Palkolap
Stitched on 16ct Rhododendron over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitch count 45 wide by 45 high
Stitched with DMC 115 and Mill Hill frosted seed beads 62032
Started - 1st January 2019
Finished - 2nd January 2019
Total stitching time - 4 hours 50 minutes

It was my original intention to stitch the whole of the month's name in beads but, since Mill Hill seed beads are made for 14ct not 16ct, they didn't lay particularly well. So I kept the J in beads, frogged the rest (I hadn't got very far) and used them for the border instead. Then I thought the J looked wrong - too 'heavy' - so that was also frogged and replaced with threads! I'm a little disappointed that my grand plan didn't work but this looks so much better.

You'll see January In Garnet again in the Smalls SAL posting towards the end of the month, but as a fully-finished piece.

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 1 January 2019

Happy New Year and 2019 Stitching Plans

Good morning everybody, and Happy New Year!!

Image result for happy new year 2019

So as we say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019, it's time to reveal my 2019 stitching plans!!

After two years of focusing on finishing off a number of outstanding WIPs I have decided to change direction this year by tightly closing my WIP box and stitching only on new starts. Yep, your eyes did not deceive you, I will only be stitching on new starts!

But don't panic; that doesn't mean 365 new starts, just that every project I work on in 2019 (except for the Tribal Dragon I started on Christmas Day, which is almost 2019) will be new.

However, I really don't want my WIP pile to increase again so am hoping that, with the exception of one long-term project, every other 2019 start will also be a 2019 finish. Having said that, though, if I fancy another new start I'm not going to fret about it, so I'll see how it goes. 

So here are my plans, along with a few pictures/teasers as to what I will be working on:

Monthly Birthstones
My first project each month will be a small chart by Palkolap stitched in that month's birthstone colour. I'll show the piece when it's been stitched and the fully-finished ornie as part of the Smalls SAL Here's a reminder of the fabrics and threads for each month:

Smalls SAL - to be posted on the last Friday of each month
My second project each month will be one specifically stitched for the Smalls SAL, which means it won't be shown until the last Friday of each month. Here are the projects I've lined up for this year:

A Monarch A Month
Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads is a project I've been wanting to stitch for a while and will be a long-term (almost four-year long) project as I will be stitching just one monarch each month. They will be spaced out a little more than charted, and at the end (mid 2022 if I keep to my schedule) I am planning to add a title at the top and a border around the outside. I'm still procrastinating about a fabric but had better make up my mind soon!

Continue working on Tribal Dragon
I have made good progress on this since Christmas Day and would like to continue that progress into 2019. It definitely won't be a finish but if I make it to the one-third (perhaps even halfway) mark I'll be very happy indeed.

New starts
I have a number of projects kitted up for the year varying in shapes, sizes and colours. Here are the four biggest and top-priority projects I'm hoping to start and finish; the remainder are generally much smaller and shown in their popper wallets so as not to give nothing away! In order of priority:

Hogwarts In A Bottle by CutePatternsByMaria (etsy)
The fabric is gorgeous 16ct Lazurite aida by Chromatic Alchemy.

Halloween Banners (green one only) by Artecy

Parrot on Parade by Bothy Threads

Haunted Library by Mill Hill
Will be stitched on navy fabric, not the supplied perforated paper.

The remainder, if time permits.

People's Choice SAL - first Saturday of each month
Hosted by Jo of Serendipitous Stitching, this is a fun SAL with a different theme each month. I will not be stitching anything specific for it but hope to make an interesting post around the chosen theme.

Continue to empty my Box of Shame
Apart from projects which are parts of unfinished sets or for which I have not yet purchased frames, I would like everything else in my Box of Shame to be gone by the end of 2019.

Minimise stash-buying!
OK, so this is easier said than done but I have a plan...
Each time I buy a chart I am going to put aside the equivalent amount of money, ready to donate to charity next Christmas. This year our whole family agreed to fewer presents and instead donated a sizeable amount to good causes, and this is another way I can help. Yes, I'll probably still feel guilty about stash-enhancing, but I know that it will also benefit others. Win-win!

So, there are my plans for 2019. The first third/half of the month will more or less be taken up with stitching the Birthstone, Smalls SAL and Monarch pieces, and then I can stitch on any of my new projects for the remainder of the month. It'll be interesting to see if I stick with one project or chop and change according to my mood or which colours I fancy stitching with. I have absolutely no idea!

It also means that, for the bigger projects at least, I'll become more of a 'Ten Hour Stitcher' so may be posting more frequently as each ten hour mark is reached. Hmmm, not sure if that's a good or bad thing!

Time to pick up my first piece for 2019 then. January's Birthstone is calling...

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and very stitchy year.
Rachel x