Monday 29 July 2019

Summer Of New Starts #2 - Winter Bird

Hi again!

For new start number 2 I decided to stay with the winter theme. This is my winter version of a bird I plan to stitch in four colourways to represent the four seasons. Spring and Summer were completed in 2017/2016 so I thought it was about time I stitched the other two!

I was only able to stitch on this piece on Saturday as most of Sunday (11am-11pm) was spent travelling. As much as I love trains, they are not a place I can stitch anything other than a hand-held small, so I made the most of Saturday stitching this and used Sunday to start the August birthstone a few days early.

Here's my Saturday progress then:

Bird by Hobikolik (etsy)
Stitched on 16ct Stormy Sea over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
using Threadworx 1140 Moonlit Skies
Stitching time to date - 4 hours

This only requires another 3 hours or so of work so will be a quick finish when picked it up again. But for the last three days of July I have to return to Hogwarts; it's been a bit neglected this month. Ooops!

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 26 July 2019

Smalls SAL - July 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 July I stitched the third Christmas Cat out of a series of six: 

Christmas Cat Yawning by Design Works
Stitch Count 38 wide by 36 high
Stitched on 16ct Tin with sparkles over-dyed aida from 2 over 1
Started - 5th July 2019
Finished - 24th July 2019
Total stitching time - 6 hours 30 minutes

Unfortunately he isn't fully-finished yet because of an issue with the barley twist cord... I have 27 different colours and 26 of them are in my bag... guess which one isn't?! I'm assuming I took it out when I started this project but I guess the little pixies have taken a shine to it! I've ordered some more and will FFO this little cutie when it arrives (and before you ask, yes, I could have used a different colour but I wanted all my Christmas Cats to match).

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

My birthstone of the month, July in ruby:

And my monarch of the month, King John:

So that's it for July. Next month I'll be prematurely welcoming autumn!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Halloween Banner - 60 hours

Hi all!

And so the black continues, lots and lots and lots of black, with a little bit of green and yellow thrown in for good measure.

Last time you saw the banner looking like this:

And now it looks like this:

Apart from three rows of black border, I'm excited to announce I've reached the bottom of the chart, which means next time you see this piece it will be as a finish!

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 22 July 2019

Summer Of New Starts #1 - Snow Globe Tree

Good morning all,

So this weekend saw the first of my seven Summer Of New Starts. I was feeling in a Christmassy mood so chose a Christmassy project - not that I got far enough into it to stitch the Christmassy bit, but the thought was there!

I must say I really really enjoyed stitching a new project and, as a result, made a fairly good start on the sky:

Christmas Tree Snow Globe by Lucie Heaton (etsy)
Stitch count 56 wide by 56 high
Stitched on 16ct Antique White aida 2 over 1
Stitching time to date - 3 hours 25 minutes

There are four in this set and this is what they'll look like when (eventually) finished:

This project now gets put away, but when it reappears I plan to stitch the snow and the tree in the new Etoile thread and use beads for the baubles. I think you'll agree there's no harm in a bit of bling at Christmas?!

I'll be back this time next week for the second of my Summer Of New Starts, but between now and then I've plenty of other stitching I need to do!

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 18 July 2019

Summer Of New Starts

Hi all!

Those who know me will know that I am fairly good at sticking with my stitching plans for the year - for 2019 that being to focus on four main pieces - Parrot on Parade (finished), Green Halloween Banner (almost finished), Hogwarts (about half finished) and Haunted Library (not yet started), and only once had those four been completed would I start on my 'reserve list'.

However, there comes a time when plans have to change. You see, I'm really really really missing that 'new start' feeling so have decided to treat myself to a new start binge; enough to satisfy the itch without going OTT. This coincides with the fact that.....

You see, I finish work tomorrow, Friday 19th July, and don't return again until Monday 2nd September. That's six weeks of school summer holiday. My original idea was to start a new project each week, giving me six new starts. Then I thought, if I started them at the weekends instead that's seven weekends so seven new starts and that's even better! So, as of Saturday for the next seven weekends I will be stitching exclusively on a new project. I'm calling this my Summer Of New Starts.

All of the starts are from this year's reserve list and none of them are biggies so although they'll be adding to my WIP pile it won't be by a stupid amount. I'd just about call that a win-win situation.

I won't tell you what my new starts are, but here are teasers of the seven projects I've chosen:

Do you recognise any of them and/or have a guess at what they might be?

I have no idea which order I'll start them in, I'll just see which one takes my fancy that particular weekend and post about it the following Monday.

But there's more...

As I really don't want these new starts to get just two days of attention and then be put aside for the rest of the year, I'm considering dedicating half term week plus perhaps the two weekends either side (26th October to 3rd November inclusive) to just these seven projects. It won't be a stitching marathon as such (unless I can convince my family to allow me a couple of days of solid stitching!) but rather a concerted effort to make good progress on them all and maybe even finish one or two.

So, I have seven new starts to look forward to and to incorporate into my other stitching. Woohoo! Roll on Saturday!!!

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 16 July 2019

A Monarch A Month - John

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 is number seven, John. He's not John I as there's never been another John. Maybe one day there will be but until then he's just King John.

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

John marks the end of the top row. Next month, bearing in mind I'm moving them around a little, I'll probably be pulling my hair out trying to make sure the next set of monarchs are all in the right place!

In the meantime, it's History lesson time. John's life was exceptionally hard to summarise in under 300 words so I hope I've picked out some interesting points.

Preceded by Richard I (brother)
Succeeded by Henry III (son)
Lived 1166-1216
Reigned 1199-1216
Married (1) Isabella 1189-1199 (annulled) - no legitimate but 12-14 illegitimate children; (2) Isabella 1200-1216 - fathered 2 sons and 4 daughters despite Isabella being only 10-15 years old when they married.

John became King following his brother's death. He was the fifth, the youngest and probably favourite son of Henry II.

In England John was relatively popular with the people but not so much with the barons, many of whom begrudged his implementation of harsher taxes. These barons and their rebel forces became a thorn in John's side throughout his reign.

In France John lost most of his family's lands and, whilst trying to regain them, was implicated in his cousin Arthur's disappearance/murder. Arthur was popular with the French, and their preferred choice of monarch, so his demise did nothing to steady already strained Anglo-French relations.

In 1209 John was excommunicated by the Pope regarding disagreements over the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1213, and in return for financial compensation, John regained the Pope's support, the latter now excommunicating many of the rebellious barons instead.

The Magna Carta of 1215 sought to provide a truce between John and his enemies. It promised political, judicial and economic reforms in return for the rebel forces disbanding. A court of 25 barons would ensure John followed the terms.

John and the Pope both argued Magna Carta was illegal and, since neither John nor the rebels kept the conditions anyway, civil war ensued. John was initially the more successful but when the French supplied reinforcements to aid the rebels' cause, the result was stalemate.

John died in 1216 before the civil war could be resolved, the crown passing to his nine year old son, Henry.

So next month, how a monarch rules when so young, and what happened to the rebel forces...?

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Link-up for Fully Finished Gallery SAL - July 2019

Hello all!

It's the 10th of the month so time for another Fully Finished Gallery SAL and to show what you've been FFOing since your last check-in.

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 only fully-finished my two monthly smalls:

1) Eastern(?) Rosella was my June Smalls SAL piece and finished to match the other Little Aussie Birds in this series. Here's she is finished with coordinating backing fabric and barley twist cord:

2) July in Ruby was stitched for my Year of Birthstones and finished off as usual. I should have used red ribbon but the one I had clashed terribly. The pink's not too bad and does as least match the pink tones in the thread.

That's it from me this month; quick and simple for once!

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

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 July.

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!

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Once the link-up has closed I shall update the FFG SAL 2019 page with the number of entrants and entries.

As usual I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone has finished and created. Given the projects from the first half of the year there should be some stunning finishes to look forward to.

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 6 July 2019

People's Choice SAL - Finishing

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 finishing. I interpreted 'finishing' as meaning fully-finishing as opposed to finishing stitching. I don't know whether this is what was intended but that's what I'm going with!

I rubbed my hands with glee when I saw this topic come up as (if you're not already aware) it's a subject close to my heart.

A few years ago I had a forever-increasing Box Of Shame until someone asked me what was the point of stitching lots of projects if all I then did was hide them away? Thus began my feeling of guilt and subsequent challenge to fully-finish off the 50+ pieces in there at the time and to not add any more. As of this post, it's not quite empty but it's not far off.

Here's a breakdown of how my projects have been fully-finished:

96 framed (almost a third of which are in multi-aperture frames)
54 hanging ornies
28 cards
7 mini pillows
14 others (eg hoops, scrapbooking, gift tags)

As you can see, I generally go with framing or making ornies. I admit they're not the most inventive of ideas but they are the two techniques I'm comfortable with. I'm hoping to branch out in the future; I have a few ideas in mind, I've just got to stitch the right projects!

So, what to show for pictures regarding 'finishes'? I've selected a random few which feature at the top of their category:

The most expensive and the biggest finish was Angel of Autumn by Lavender and Lace. This cost over £70 back in 2004 but, after 227 hours of work and 27,727 stitches, was well worth it.

The most time consuming and most satisfying finish was definitely A Shower by Soda Stitch, fully-finished as a sickly-sweet mini pillow. Gathering and attaching the ribbon alone took 6 hours!

The most liked and (probably) my favourite is Owls In Love by FluffyFuzzypatterns on etsy. This went down a storm when I stitched it and received such positive comments after it had been framed. Sometimes everything just works together.

The most unique (for me) is Christmas Quacker by Dimensions. I used to do a lot of scrapbooking and, at one point, thought I might combine the two hobbies. It's only happened once so, at the moment, this little ducky is one of a kind.

The smallest are After The Bath and Sparrow by Mouseloft. They are in little 2.5 inch plastic frames which were popular in the late 1990s for projects such as these. Unfortunately my FFOs have been put in a 'safe place' and I can't find them so here is a picture of the ones my mum stitched and inserted into fridge magnets, along with a picture of a spare frame for you to imagine what they would look like. Actually, I'm now beginning to wonder if this is the reason I can't find mine; because these are mine! Hmmm, I'll have to confront my mum about that!!

Finally, as a teaser, here are the raw materials for some finishing I will soon be attempting. I know what I want to do but wonder if reality will mirror the idea I have in mind. I'll find out soon.

Scroll down quickly, though, if you're of a nervous disposition as the scissors are a big clue as to what will be happening to this piece!

Now for a cheeky re-plug...

As I mentioned at the top of the post, finishing is a topic close to my heart which is why I started the Fully Finished Gallery SAL. It's an opportunity for everyone to dive into those drawers or boxes which store UFOs, pull out one (or two or three or more) and actually finish it/them off to proudly show to others. The SAL's only been running for five months but so far there have been almost 250 entries, many (most?) of which might otherwise have still been stored away instead of being on display.

The link-up for this SAL goes live on the 10th of each month and remains open for 10 days. There's a page at the top of my blog with all the information and links to previous months. Have a browse; there are loads of wonderful FFOs and inspiring finishing ideas in there.

But the FFG SAL has plenty of room for more participants! So come on, don't be afraid, pull out a UFO and come and join in. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the 500 mark could be reached by the end of the year?

Next month's topic is monochrome. I'm rubbing my hands together for that one too!

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 4 July 2019

July in Ruby - 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.

July's birthstone is ruby:

The gleaming ruby should adorn
All those who in July are born
For thus they'll be exempt and free
From lover's doubts and anxiety

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

Here's my July birthstone piece then:

July by Palkolap
Stitched on 16ct Sorbet over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitch count 47 wide by 47 high
Stitched with DMC variegated 107 and Mill Hill frosted seed beads 62013
Started - 1st July 2019
Finished - 3rd July 2019
Total stitching time - 5 hours 25 minutes

The pattern is a little more dense than those on previous months but I love it, and I also think this border of beads is the most pleasing so far. They wprk well together.

Hopefully this will be FFOd in time for the FFG SAL on the 10th. Are you all (getting) ready?

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 1 July 2019

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 80 hours

Good morning!

For this ten hour session I really got going on what I assume to be the Great Hall. I usually work from right to left but simply couldn't resist stitching that bit of of Hogwarts Castle first!

Progress has slowed a little now that there are more colour changes but what a result those colour changes have produced, and that's without the backstitching! So on to the photos.

At 70 hours:

And with the additional ten:

And the full piece:

Nothing else to say really. Makes a change!

Take care,
Rachel x