Monday 29 April 2019

Green Halloween Banner - 30 hours

Hello again!

This lovely piece came out to play for the week I wasn't feeling the vibes for Hogwarts. It is, of course, Green Halloween Banner by Artecy.

Apart from a few white stitches to finish off the moon, the whole ten hours was spent stitching just two colours; fantastic for making rapid progress!

Here's how you last saw the banner:

And how it looks now, with the turrets of the haunted house just beginning to appear:

As much as I would like to continue with this piece, it has done its job and rekindled my desire to return to Hogwarts, so that's what I'll be stitching on for the rest of the month.

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 26 April 2019

Smalls SAL - April 2019

Hello all!

It's the last Friday of the month so time for the Smalls SAL. Thank you, Mary, for continuing to run this fun little SAL. Pop over to Mary's blog and see what other participants have been stitching in the way of Smalls this month.

Each month I stitch a small project specifically for this SAL which doesn't appear elsewhere on my blog. For April I chose A Very Merry Spring by JBW Designs, stitched with spring-themed Threadworx variegated thread 1134 Costa Rica. We've already had a couple of glorious spring weeks in the UK, but I'm hoping that stitching this design in these colours may encourage a little more! Here's my finished piece:

A Very Merry Spring by JBW Designs
Stitch Count 59 wide by 77 high
Stitched on 16ct Dried Petal over-dyed aida from 2 over 1
Started - 6th April 2019
Finished - 9th April 2019
Total stitching time - 7 hours 45 minutes

My design isn't exactly as charted; I slightly moved the two bunnies at the bottom and added a border to match that of A Very Merry Winter which I stitched for this Smalls SAL back in January. I guessed if I want them as a set then I needed the continuity.

For this Smalls SAL I'm also re-showing other qualifying projects I've stitched during the month.

My birthstone of the month, April in Diamond:

And my monarch of the month, Stephen:

That's it for April. For May, I'll be stitching an Australian bird. See you then!

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 22 April 2019

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 50 hours

Hello again!

So the completion of Mr Scruffy meant I could return my full attention to this piece. As planned, I started this 10 hour stint with the backstitching, and what a difference! The pattern uses black thread but I swapped it for dark grey 3799 which, in my opinion, would not look so harsh and better suit the blue/grey colour scheme. I don't think I made a mistake.

Here was my progress last time:

And this time:

And the full piece:

On big projects I generally tend to work from right to left and relatively neatly but on this one I'm working from the outsides in and seem to be all over the place! I think it was because I wasn't really getting the vibes for stitching it. I've swapped to another project for the moment but hope the vibes will return soon.

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 18 April 2019

Parrot On Parade - finished!

Hi all!

Yes, I'm so excited and you did read that correctly, Mr Scruffy is finished! He was determined there was no way he was going to be taken off my frames so I had to face the oh so dreadful task of having to continue him until he was completed! Talk about suffering for your art!!

Here's where I left him at the 40 hour mark:

And now all finished:

Parrot On Parade by Bothy Threads
Stitched on 16ct Sand Dune over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitch count 113 wide by 137 high
Started - 13th January 2019
Finished - 10th April 2019
Total stitching time - 51 hours 10 minutes

The remainder of the stitching took just under ten hours, so with only the backstitching remaining I plodded on, deciding it wasn't really worth posting about him at 50 hours when there was so little left to do.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise when I tell you I genuinely loved every stitch that went into him, so much so that I would definitely stitch him all over again! He's just so full of character and the colours were absolutely gorgeous to work with.

I mentioned when I started this project that I don't normally use the threads provided in kits. However, since Bothy threads don't use DMC, and colour matching their threads did not yield particularly accurate results, I did in this case.

I was impressed with the threads in general but, more than that, I was very impressed with the amount provided. I may have used 16ct instead of the 14ct aida they supplied but, even so, look at how much is left!

And for the statisticians among us, here's a fun visual representation of the percentage of each thread actually used:

I think the graph speaks for itself, showing that I used less 50% or less of 14/17 threads. Swap over to 18ct and there would be more than enough to stitch him a second time with the remainder. Very generous indeed!

From my online framing store I've already found a frame which suits him perfectly but am not going to order it quite yet - the store offers free postage when a certain amount is spent and although I have three frames in my basket I haven't quite reached that limit. Once Hogwarts is finished, though, I will have enough so I can guarantee there will be a framing spree towards the end of the year.

So, for now, Mr Scruffy goes into my Box Of Shame and my attention will turn back to Hogwarts In A Bottle. I hardly stitched on it at all last month so it's definitely time to make amends! Agreed?

Take care,
Rachel x

PS I'm a bit behind with reading blogs and replying to comments; bear with me, I haven't forgotten you!

Monday 15 April 2019

A Monarch A Month - Stephen

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.

I am already 4 months in so here is the rather angry monarch number 4:

Stephen from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 10th April 2019
Finished - 13th April 2019
Total stitching time - 5 hours 15 minutes

For those who also like the little History lesson, here's a bit about Stephen's reign (which was exceptionally difficult to condense into 300 words!):

Preceded by Henry I (uncle)
Succeeded by Henry II (cousin)
Lived 1092/6 - 1154 (birth date unknown)
Reigned 1135-1154
Married Matilda 1125-1152 (died)
Fathered 5 legitimate and 3 illegitimate children

Stephen, a grandson of William I, was raised in his uncle Henry's court and became a popular, charismatic and generally likeable person (although, as King, lacked strong decisive leadership qualities).

Like the nobles of Henry's court, Stephen had sworn to support Henry's daughter Matilda as his successor. However, upon Henry's death, Stephen (supported by many who switched allegiance to him) claimed the crown, consolidating his position by granting land, titles and power to his supporters, and stripping assets from those loyal to Matilda.

Matilda was naturally angry at being usurped so, supported by her half brother Robert, began moves to claim her crown. Thus began 'The Anarchy', a civil war which blighted Stephen's reign.

Matilda was captured in 1139 but released unharmed. Stephen was captured in 1141, thus releasing the crown for Matilda. However Londoners disliked Matilda and prevented her entering the city for her coronation! Robert was then captured, and stalemate ensued until Robert and Stephen were released in a prisoner exchange.

Stephen was welcomed back and threats gradually petered out - Robert died in 1147, Matilda left England and died in 1151. Matilda's son, Henry, then aimed continued her cause.

Peace was finally achieved in 1153 when Stephen agreed to disinherit his own sons, Eustace and William, in favour of Henry becoming his successor, providing Henry supported him in the meantime. Eustace was angry (but died a short while later) whereas William agreed (and benefited greatly under Henry II).

Stephen, the last of the Norman Kings, died in 1154 and was buried at Faversham Abbey alongside his wife.

His successor, Henry II, became the first of many Plantagenets.

So next month, Henry II.

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Link-up for Fully Finished Gallery SAL - April 2019

Hello all!

It's the 10th of April so it must be time for the Fully Finished Gallery SAL. Have you all been working hard and are now ready to show off the projects you've fully-finished this month?

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.

Whether you are a regular fully-finisher, an ad-hoc fully-finisher or a reluctant fully-finisher, you are all welcome. There is no need to sign up and no commitment required, just pop in when you have one or more fully-finished cross stitch projects to show.

If you are unsure of anything, the FFG SAL 2019 page at the top of my blog may help, or just ask.

As statistics stand, in the first two months alone there have been 118 FFOs from 23 different participants. Considering I set out with the hope of there being 100 finishes in total during 2019 I think we can all agree this has been more successful than I imagined. Thank you so much!

Over the last month I have fully-finished three pieces; my two small monthly projects and one from my Box Of Shame:

1) Purple Sleeping Dragon was stitched for the March Smalls SAL and has been fully-finished as a little ornie using my preferred technique of coordinating fabric and barley twist cord. The combination of purple and red seemed strange at first but I have had really positive comments about it.

2) April in Diamond is for my Year of Birthstones and has been fully-finished as a hanging ornie using card and coordinating fabric and ribbon.

3) Cookie And Cream was stitched for DSDUCJFC 2015 (see page at top if you don't know what this is). It was the oldest UFO in my Box Of Shame (July 2015) so I thought it was about time to fully-finish it. I didn't consider it an important enough piece to be framed so just opted for a simple mini-pillow with coordinating fabric and ruched two-tone ombre ribbon. The pillow could have done with a little more stuffing but, that aside, I love the crackled backing fabric and am really happy with the result.

Now it's over to you. Let's see what your fingers, sewing machines and imaginations have been producing this month!

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 April.

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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 FFG SAL 2019 page with the number of entrants and entries.

For this month's Featured Finishing Idea I'm thinking Christmas. These are a set of advent calendar buttons by - if anyone is stitching an advent countdown these (or something similar) could be useful and, at £3.75 for all 25, are not expensive. They measure 20mm by 16mm so could easily be incorporated into all but the smallest designs. I will be using mine next year when I stitch 25 mini advent ornie projects. At the moment my plan is to have the stitching on the front and the buttons on the back, but that may well change!

That's it for this month. Next month's link-up will go live at 6am UK time on 10th May. Hope to see you there!

Happy fully-finishing,

Rachel x

Monday 8 April 2019

April In Diamond - 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.

April's birthstone is diamond:

She who from April dates her years
Diamond shall wear
Lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow

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

Here's April's piece:

April by Palkolap
Stitched on 16ct Wolf over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitch count 47 wide by 47 high
Stitched with DMC white and Mill Hill frosted seed beads 60161
Started - 1st April 2019
Finished - 6th April 2019
Total stitching time - 5 hours 5 minutes

I was worried that April would look very washed out, given that I was using white and pale grey, but the addition of Kreinik blending filament #001 (not that you can see it in this photo) just about gave it that little something to take away the blandness. Anyway, more than any other month, doesn't this one deserve a little sparkle?

I plan to have this FFOd in time for the FFG SAL on the 10th (when I'll also try to get a better photo of the sparkle).

In other news... talk about perfect timing...

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I had reached 1000 stitching days in a row and how, before that, my number of continuous stitching days had only been broken by a lengthy visit to A&E.

Some of you suggested I should keep a chart and supplies with me at all times... just in case.

Well, it's a good job I remembered that advice for, on the night of Monday 1st April at 6pm, I left home with DD on a roundabout trip (walking+2 trains+1 bus+1 taxi) that would take us to a pharmacy, a walk-in health centre and finally A&E, and which would result in us arriving home at 1:45 Tuesday morning.

Having preempted that we might be in for a long night I had picked up my April birthstone folder before leaving. I only stitched for a few minutes in A&E (too tired to focus for long) but that didn't matter; my number of continuous stitching days remained unbroken. Big sigh of relief and thank you to those whose suggestion made that possible. Without those I would have frustratingly been back to zero again. Like I said, talk about perfect timing! Thank you!  :)

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 6 April 2019

People's Choice SAL - Speciality Stitches

Hello all

It's the first Saturday of the month so 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 speciality stitches.

In all honesty, I shouldn't be posting anything this month as I have a total aversion to using any other stitches than crosses in my work (apart from backstitching and the occasional french knots of course). BUT that doesn't mean I don't appreciate speciality designs and the work that goes into them, just that I would never stitch one.

So, what to show and ramble on about?

I tried to find a single project which was a sort of A-Z of speciality stitches, but couldn't, although I expect one exists somewhere (please let me know if you find one and I'll add it in).

Lakeside Needlecraft are selling a Butterfly SAL with Speciality Stitches and a Bluebird Band Sampler both of which combine normal crosses with speciality stitches. They're both very effective and pretty but they're not for me.

However, if you are actually interested in and/or like speciality stitches then check out this page by Mary Corbet at for an A-Z listing along with loads of accompanying 'how to stitch' videos. I sampled a few of the videos and found them very clear. Plus each video is accompanied by pictures of how that particular stitch can be expanded upon for added effect.

There are also loads of books available about speciality embroidery stitches, including these two which I cheekily flicked through in a local bookshop:

Embroidery: Step-by-Step Guide to More Than 200 Stitches

Both are well laid out with clear pictures and instructions and well worth a look. The first book groups similar stitches together, e.g. running stitches, border stitches, filler stitches and so on, whereas the second book lists each stitch alphabetically. Personally I preferred the first book simply because grouping similar stitches together seems more logical.

Now to follow other participants and see what they've posted about. I know I will enjoy looking at projects containing speciality stitches but at least I know this will be one month where I won't be tempted into stash-enhancing!

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 1 April 2019

Parrot On Parade - 40 hours

Hello all!

Mr Scruffy stayed on my frames and received the attention he was demanding.

So he's now gone from this:

To this:

If you think he's stitching up quickly, that's because he is! There are only really four colours in his chest feathers so big portions can be stitched without swapping threads too often or concentrating too hard. That's my kind of chart!!

He's had a little more work since this photo, but will now go away for a few days whilst I stitch on my three beginning-of-the-month projects. Once those have been completed I'm certain he will come straight back again - and I have an inkling that the next time you see him it will be for more than just a progress report ;)

Take care,
Rachel x