Friday 31 May 2019

Smalls SAL - May 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 to 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 May, this was another little Australian Bird from a series out of which I have already stitched three but still have many, many more to go. Here's the latest one: 

Kookaburra by FuzzyFoxDesigns (etsy)
Stitch Count 43 wide by 35 high
Stitched on 16ct Sand Dune over-dyed aida from 2 over 1
Started - 3rd May 2019
Finished - 7th May 2019
Total stitching time - 5 hours 25 minutes

I love stitching the birds in this series. They're basically all the same shape but that's so easy to overlook when they've all got such different colourings. Here's the link to FuzzyFoxDesigns' Little Birds in case you feel tempted!

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

My birthstone of the month, May in Emerald:

And my monarch of the month, Henry II:

In June I'll be stitching another colourful little Australian bird from this collection. See you then!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 70 hours

Good afternoon all!

So here's Hogwarts again. For this session I wanted to concentrate on the left hand side, stitching more sky and hoping to get down to the castle itself. I just about made it, although did leave cheeky gaps in order to do so!

I also added a bit more backstitching and am especially pleased with the moon. As coincidence would have it, I'm listening to the audio of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the moment (I don't think I've previously mentioned that I usually listen to the Harry Potter audio books when I stitch on this) and have just reached the chapter where Snape covers for one of Lupin's Defence Against the Dark Arts classes, taking advantage of the opportunity to teach the students about werewolves. How's that for perfect timing!

Last time:

And this time:

And the full piece:

The bottom of the stitching just about marks the halfway point down the chart although, of course, not the half way point of the actual stitching. I'm now really looking forward to making progress on the castle itself. There's an awful lot of backstitching coming up, so watching the splodges of blues and browns turn into turrets, roofs, windows and walls will be immensely satisfying. I can't wait!

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 23 May 2019

Green Halloween Banner - 40 hours

Hello all!

So this snuck onto my frames a couple of weeks ago when I was supposed to be stitching my monarch of the month, but who can blame it? I stitched the lighter green areas and added the yellow lights in the windows before telling myself I really ought to stitch the monarch as he was more important. But once he was finished I returned to this and settled down with the haunted house black until my ten hours were up.

Here's the 30 hour reminder:

And after another 10 hours of attention:

I love seeing the haunted house take shape, even though all I'm actually doing is filling in the gaps!

Now it's back to Hogwarts as I try to keep on track to finish it before the end of the year.

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 17 May 2019

A Monarch A Month - Henry 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.

This energetic (hence the leapfrogging) monarch is a little later than planned this month as, when his time came, I didn't feel like stitching on him so found myself more than a bit distracted with my Halloween Banner. I did apologise to Henry for ignoring him and luckily he understood (had it been Henry VIII I might not be alive now to tell this tale!!) Also, his reign was extremely difficult to summarise into 300 words so that took a bit longer than expected too (so much fighting!)

Anyway, here is monarch number 5:

Henry II from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 13th May 2019
Finished - 16th May 2019
Total stitching time - 4 hours 55 minutes

I stitched his crown in metallic gold rather than the charted yellow (some monarchs have gold and others yellow crowns but I don't see why they all shouldn't be metallic gold) and will frog and adjust the ridiculous backstiching on his right leg by the time he's shown again in the Smalls SAL.

Now it's time for your History lesson about Henry II:

Preceded by Stephen (cousin)
Succeeded by Richard I (son)
Lived 1133 - 1189
Reigned 1154 - 1189
Married Eleanor of Aquitaine *
Fathered 5 sons and 3 daughters

Henry became king upon his cousin Stephen's death, a deal agreed between Stephen and Henry's mother on condition she renounce her rightful claim to the throne. Although of Norman descent, by taking his mother's married name, Henry became the first Plantagenet monarch.

Henry was relatively successful at restoring England and the monarchy to his Grandfather's pre 'Anarchy' days, and introducing a more equal country-wide judicial system.

He ruled over territories in England, France, Wales and Ireland; the 'Angevin Empire'. However, there were numerous disputes over lands in France, leading to tense relationships with the French kings, and the brokering and breaking of many treaties.

Henry also had tense relationships with his surviving sons regarding their inheritances. His eldest was crowned 'Young Henry' and all were given various titles and lands but none were satisfied. Rivalries ensued, sometimes encouraged by Eleanor.

Henry is probably best remembered for the Thomas Beckett 'will no one rid me of this turbulent priest' murder. Beckett had been a close friend and ally but when made Archbishop of Canterbury his conflicting views made him a thorn in Henry's side. Henry was blamed for Beckett's infamous murder at the alter of Canterbury Cathedral.

Henry later believed that his mounting conflicts were a punishment for Beckett's murder so undertook a pilgrimage to pay vigil at the alter. This humble gesture brought most of his conflicts to a close and helped secure his throne.

Henry died in France in 1189 and was buried in Fontevraud Abbey where his wife would later be buried beside him. Young Henry and Geoffrey had died before their father, leaving Richard (and later John) to inherit the throne.

So next month King Richard I.

Take care,
Rachel x

* Does anyone remember that this was the answer which won Judith Keppel £1million on UK's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Friday 10 May 2019

Link-up for Fully Finished Gallery SAL - May 2019

Hello all!

It's the 10th of the month so time for another Fully Finished Gallery SAL. I hope you've been working hard over the last month, ready to show your fully-finished goodies?

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.

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

1) A Very Merry Spring, stitched for April's Smalls SAL and finished off with card, ribbon and backing fabric.

I can't say I'm 100% happy with the backing fabric but it was the best of the rest as my originally-chosen pretty pink fabric (shown below) looked gorgeous when laid under the stitching but actually looked awful when fully-finished (it doesn't look too bad in the photo but, trust me, to the naked eye it doesn't match!) I'm on the lookout for a more suitable fabric and will swap it over once I find one. But for now the above green will do, and as some have commented, it's nice and bright for spring.

2) May in Emerald, stitched for my Year of Birthstones and finished off as a cardboard-backed hanging ornie to match the other months. I'm happy with this one!


3) Snowman, a freebie from Durene Jones, stitched in 2016 and sitting neglected since then because I didn't like the snow! Here's the original piece, where I thought I'd be clever and add jewel-effect thread to the snow to make it look all multi-coloured sparkly. But it didn't turn out how I pictured it and looked blooming awful!

So I sat and frogged the snow and restitched it adding silver metallic thread instead. Much better, I'm sure you'll agree? It gives it more of that look when the sun is reflecting on it and it's just beginning to melt.

So now the Snowman has now been finished off as a well-stuffed ornie using matching backing fabric and white barley twist cord:

Now it's over to you to show what you've been finishing 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 May.

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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 going small, quite small. These are little frames I found in Poundland in the UK. There are six in a pack (three each of two designs) and so far I've found three different sets: winter blue/whites, Christmas red/greens and pastel purples. They're not bad quality for the price, and if you don't like the front the backs are plain. I've included a thread bobbin in the picture for size comparison:

The Christmas frames in the middle have an aperture size of just over 4.5cm by 6.5cm (1.75 x 2.25 inches) so (without patronising your intelligence) 14ct would allow a stitch count of about 21x28, and 36ct over one about 54x72 stitches. 

Then I realised I'd seen them somewhere before... very similar frames were previously used by the wonderful Serendipitous Jo for some wedding ornies. Jo has given me permission to show her finishes and link back to her original post here where she gives more details.

Jo backed her wedding ornies with felt, added decorative ribbon and hung them on hooks (also think 12 days of Christmas or advent calendar perhaps?) but two ornies could also be displayed back to back if the frames were stuck together. Quite an easy finishing technique, providing you have small enough projects that fit!

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

Happy fully-finishing,

Rachel x

Tuesday 7 May 2019

May in Emerald - 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.

May's birthstone is emerald:

Who first beholds the light of day
In Spring's sweet flower, month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and loving wife

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

Here's May's piece:

May by Palkolap
Stitched on 16ct Sea Glass over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitch count 47 wide by 47 high
Stitched with DMC variegated 125 and Mill Hill frosted seed beads 62020
Started - 1st May 2019
Finished - 3rd May 2019
Total stitching time - 4 hours 55 minutes

As usual, I plan to have this FFOd in time for the FFG SAL on the 10th, where I hope lots of you are preparing to join me?

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 4 May 2019

People's Choice SAL - Flowers

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 flowers.

We all know that roses are the symbol of love but did you know that every flower, and sometimes each colour variation, has a meaning? Although around for thousands of years, The Language of Flowers - or floriography to give it its proper name - took off in its modern form in France in the early 1800s before spreading to England, and later America. Many books have been published on the subject but each flower's meaning often varies depending on country or the source of information used. For the novice floriographer, provides a succinct A-Z summary (NB there are adverts on the page).

Nowadays, with most flowers available all year round, the language of secretly communicating affection through flowers has all but gone. But who still doesn't love being given a bunch or bouquet of flowers, whatever they are?

Flowers don't tend to appear in many of my projects, but I did find a few to show:

Morning song by Dawna Barton for Dimensions was my second ever cross stitch back in 1994 and is still one of my favourites. It's stitched on 11 count so is huge! And no, that's not how I had it framed - the inside mount has slipped, but since it's not on the wall at the moment I haven't adjusted it.

Rainbow Rose by Celtic Rose Needlecraft is another flower I've stitched, although only the the top 2/3rds of the chart. I loved it when I stitched it but have gone of it now. It's not gone to waste though - it's in my mum's room and she loves it! It's also in a frame I found at a car boot sale which is why there's a pathetically small mount. One day I'll frame it properly.

Lizzie Kate's Flip-It Stamp for November was changed from a turkey to a poppy (because we don't do Thanksgiving in the UK) in honour of Remembrance Day. I found a free poppy chart on the internet and adapted it to fit.

Flower Power from the Lickle Ted range by DMC is a current WIP started back in 2015. I've got most of the teddy still to stitch but at least the flower's done and even backstitched (apart from where the petals meet Lickle Ted).

In my stash are these kits, Magnolia and Clematis, by Riolis. Although not my usual type of project, these two flowers are special to my mum and my intention (yeah right) is to stitch them for her. I started Magnolia a couple of years ago (but not enough to blog about) but not touched it since then. It's another of those long-neglected WIPs I have to bring back out... one day; my mum's not getting any younger!

And then I did my usual thing of going internet trawling, looking for some other flower projects, just in case you haven't been tempted into any stash-enhancing yet! These little beauties all caught my eye:

Cute Cacti by FuzzyFoxDesigns on etsy. Each one is available individually, or as the set as shown here, and all have names e.g. the top left is Astrid, the fourth along on the top row Einstein, and the bottom right Cozmo the Magician. I'm not a big fan of cacti but I have to admit they live up to their cuteness!

I have loved these John Clayton flower panels by Heritage Crafts for as long as can remember but have never bought one. The three shown here, Fuchsia, Honeysuckle and Sweet Pea, are my favourites but I can't actually see myself ever stitching them.

Finally, cross-stitch wise, here's a gorgeous pink/space petalled flower from LoLaLottaShop on etsy. It's not been framed with a circular mount, that's the charted border. Very clever, very effective and certainly different.

image 0

To finish off, here's a tongue-in-cheek something especially for Faith... stash-enabling doesn't have to be all cross-stitch, does it?! ;)

Image result for the language of flowers puzzle

So there you have it; plenty of flowers out of which I hope you like at least one. Next month's theme is mermaids; see you there!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 60 hours

Hello once again!

Swapping out to Halloween Banner for a week did its job of making me eager to focus on Hogwarts again.

During this session I had initially planned on working my way down, tidying things up and filling in the missing stitches. But as I was stitching I changed my mind and focused on completing the moon, and the sky around it, before moving left. I'm pleased I did; completing the moon felt like a mini finish.

So last time:

And this time:

And the full piece:

Unfortunately for Hogwarts I now need to stitch my three beginning-of-the-month projects but fingers crossed this one will reappear after those. I'm just about on schedule for completing it this year but it would be nice to get a little bit ahead if possible. Here's a reminder of how it will eventually look, just in case you've forgotten; still so much more exciting stitching to come!!!

Take care,
Rachel x