Thursday 31 October 2019

Dark October - the end

Hi all!

The idea of Dark October is to stitch on only Halloween projects for the whole month. I couldn't commit to that so had the idea of slowly stitching one or two small projects alongside my other planned projects.

However, plans can change and they certainly did, with some of my planned non-Halloween projects being swapped for Halloween ones, and some new starts being added in towards the end of the month.

In my previous Dark October post you saw the completed Chandelier and the progress I'd made on Trick or Treat:


Trick Or Treat

What you didn't see was that these were stitched alongside my Smalls SAL piece, RIP Spooky Hootie, and two Halloween WIPs, A Little Witch Of The Night and A Little Wizard Of The Night, which I swapped in and made some progress on.

RIP Spooky Hootie

A Little Witch Of The Night
(continued her face)

A Little Wizard Of The Night
(finished his body and added the broom)

Then, in the final week I went a bit berserk (well, berserk for me anyway).

I increased the time spent on Trick Or Treat each day so that it would be finished before the end of the month:

Trick of Treat from Dark Shadows by Sue Hillis Designs
(with a few alterations to the letters and bats)
Stitched on 16ct Pink Pixie over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitch Count 51 wide by 72 high
Started - 17th October 2019
Finished - 31st October 2019
Total Stitching Time - 9 hours 40 minutes

And started the four remaining pieces from Sue Hillis' Dark Shadows set:

Bird Candelabra (crows? ravens? rooks?)
Stitched on Purple Potion 16ct over-dyed aida
Started 24th October 2019

Stitched on Pink Pixie 16ct over-dyed aida
Started 25th October 2019

Stitched on Purple Potion 16ct over-dyed aida
Started 26th October 2019

Hocus Pocus
Stitched on Pink Pixie 16ct over-dyed aida
Started 27th October 2019

And then I started yet another new piece, Haunted Library by Mill Hill, which you saw a few days ago:

Haunted Library by Mill Hill
Stitched on supplied 14ct dark blue perforated paper
Started 28th October 2019

I think all of the above means that, in the end, I actually made quite a good contribution to Dark October! In fact the only non-Halloween projects I stitched during the month were the Birthstone, the Monarch and Hogwarts. Not bad, considering I had originally planned on stitching just one or two of the Sue Hillis designs!

Next year I shall ensure there are no intrusions and that October is set aside for 100% Halloween stitching. I can't wait... 335 days and counting!

For now I'm going to try to continue stitching on the four remaining Sue Hillis projects a little each day. It would be nice to have them all finished by the end of the year.

By the way, does anyone know of any other similarly month-long themed challenges like this one? Christmas in July perhaps? I don't want to join them, just curious (although a month long Christmas in July does sound appealing; I might have to think about that!!)

I'm now looking forward to seeing what others have achieved during Dark October.

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 29 October 2019

New Start - Haunted Library by Mill Hill

Hi everyone!

Yesterday I decided to treat myself to another new start. My stitching for Dark October has already involved a few new starts (more about that in the Dark October round-up post on 31st) but *shock horror* I decided to add in another to commemorate an annual event.

To be fair, I had planned to start this kit this year so don't feel too guilty about adding it to my growing WIP pile. This is, or rather eventually will be, Haunted Library by Mill Hill:

Haunted Library - Beaded Cross Stitch Kit

Haunted Library by Mill Hill
Stitched on supplied 14ct dark blue perforated paper
Started 28th October 2019

It's been 15 years since I last used 14ct and three strands of floss so it felt weird to be stitching on anything other than 16/32ct fabric; I definitely missed railroading and using the cut-and-loop starting method!

This is my first Mill Hill project, so here are a few observations and thoughts.

The threads come in a bundle, rather than pre-sorted, and I'm not sure would be easy to sort out without a shade card, given how close some of the colours are. However, as they're DMC, I didn't even try; I just cheated and went straight to my own stash!

All of the beads came mixed in two bags so, again, had to be sorted. Luckily I'd preempted this and invested in a Tacky Bob; what a life-saver!

I very rarely stitch in hand so couldn't get on with holding the perforated paper. I spent a bit of time sewing some spare aida to the top and bottom so that I could attach it to my frame and therefore use both hands, like I'm used to. Much better!

Apart from where there are stand-alone stitches, which don't lay too well due to the oversized holes in the paper, the coverage is really good.

I don't know if this is down to the perforated paper or to using three strands, but the thread loses its sleekness quite quickly. I'm using 16" lengths, so not exactly long, and finding I'm having to finish quite a way before reaching the end.

I'm very good at procrastinating and have been debating for ages whether to use the supplied perforated paper or swap it for aida. From using them on my monthly birthstone pieces, I found that Mill Hill size 11 beads are slightly too big for 16ct. Part of me wishes I'd done bought some similarly-coloured 14ct aida to stitch this on. Maybe I'll do that for the next one... or this one if I fancy a restart!!!

I'd be very interested to know your thoughts on these kits. Whereas some are happy to stitch on any type or count of fabric, perhaps I'm too attached to my beloved 16ct to be completely happy, and you should all just tell me to suck it up, enjoy the journey, and look forward to the stunning results these kits give!

Take care,
Rachel x

PS I'm way behind on answering emails but hope to catch in the next week or so. Bear with me, you will get yours eventually!

Sunday 27 October 2019

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 120 hours

Hi there!

I had an absolutely fantastic week with Hogwarts, reaching a milestone now that I've more or less finished the buildings, including backstitching, and am moving on to the mountains and clouds of steam.

Last week:

And this week:

And the full piece:

And because I haven't shown it for a while, here's a reminder of how the piece will eventually look. It's satisfying to see I'm about half way through the scene itself.

Hogwarts is going away for a while now but it will be out again in November, hopefully for another two ten-hour sessions.

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 25 October 2019

Smalls SAL - October 2019

Hello all!

It's the last Friday of the month so time for the Smalls SAL. Thank you, Mary, for continuing to host 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. This month it was a Spooky Hootie by Pinoy Stitch (etsy) and which which was relevent for Halloween:

RIP Spooky Hootie by Pinoy Stitch (etsy)
Stitch Count 29 wide by 40 high
Stitched on 16ct Wolf over-dyed aida from 2 over 1
Started - 5th October 2019
Finished - 7th October 2019
Total stitching time - 6 hours 10 minutes

I absolutely adore this little chap and his Halloween colours.

The charted pale grey RIP hardly showed up against the grey of the gravestone so I backstitched around it in 3799. It's still not that clear but then neither are traditional carved gravestones so everyone will just have to squint! OK, so I could have swapped the letters for black or white, or even a paler grey, but I thought a paler grey would not have made much difference and the others would have been too harsh a contrast.

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

My birthstone of the month, October In Tourmaline:

And my monarch of the month, Edward II:

For November's Smalls SAL I'm finally going Christmassy with both the design and the use of lots of Etoile threads! Yippee!!

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Dark October - week 3 progress

Hi all!

Three-quarters of the way through Dark October and my small Halloween projects are steadily progressing.

At the end of week two the Chandelier was almost complete:

And now it is!

Chandelier from Dark Shadows by Sue Hillis Designs
Stitched on 16ct Purple Potion over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitched with black Etoile and Miyuki silver-lined gunmetal seed beads
Stitch Count 61 wide by 81 high
Started - 1st October 2019
Finished - 17th October 2019
Total Stitching Time - 8 hours 30 minutes

I used black Etoile for the chandelier, regular DMC for the flames and Miyuki silver-lined Montanna seed beads for the chains, which I think really work and make it look more like a chandelier than using plain crosses.

So, having finished the chandelier I was free to start another. But which one to start next? Here's a reminder of my choices:

Dark Shadows - Cross Stitch Pattern

I decided on Trick Or Treat (top left) and here is my progress so far:

Stitched on 16ct Pink Pixie over-dyed aida by 2 over 1

I very much doubt this will be finished by the end of October but you never know. You'll find out in my final Dark October posting at the end of the month.

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 19 October 2019

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 110 hours

Hi there!

Phew! Another 10 hours on Hogwarts is over, filled with copious amounts of backstitching. In fact 6 out of the ten hours were spent backstitching which is why there hasn't been that much progress stitching-wise.

Last time:

This time:

And the full piece:

Here's the section before and after the backstitching:

The backstitching has obviously brought the buildings to life, so much so that I'm really keen to finish the remaining ones and backstitch them too! I wonder how far I'll get in the next ten hours? Stay tuned.

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 17 October 2019

Dark October - week 2 progress

Hi all!

So I'm slowly making progress on my Dark October stitching. If you remember I'm stitching the Chandelier from Sue Hillis' Dark Shadows at the rate of two thread lengths per day.

At the end of week one I was here:

At the end of week 2 I was here, having finished the main chandelier:

With just the flames and chains to do this will be a finish very soon, I'll then have the reason I need for starting a second design from this set. Oh goody!

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 15 October 2019

A Monarch A Month - Edward 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 is monarch number ten, Edward II:

Edward II from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 8th October 2019
Finished - 11th October 2019
Total stitching time - 4 hours 30 minutes

I have absolutely no idea why he's in this pose. Perhaps he had too dull a personality to chart differently, but I don't think so. See what you think.

Here's my summary of Edward II's reign. I'm really not happy with it but I think I've done about as much as I can do.

Preceded by Edward I (father)
Succeeded by Edward III (son)
Lived 1284-1327
Reigned 1307-1327
Married Isabella of France 1308-1327
Fathered 4 legitimate and 1 illegitimate children

Edward became king in 1307 after his father's death. He was the youngest of 16 siblings but the only surviving son.

Edward quickly abandoned his father's 1307 Scottish campaign, but it was his defeat by Robert the Bruce in the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn which more or less marked the end of his Scottish policy.

In 1308 Edward married 12 year old Isabella, King Philip IV of France's daughter. However, Isabella had to compete for Edward's affection with two of his 'close friends', Piers Gaveston and Hugh the Younger.

Gaveston and Hugh, along with Hugh's family, were arrogant, influential and deeply mistrusted by all except Edward. Gaveston was captured in 1312 and executed for treason, whilst the 1321 Despenser War attempted, but failed, to permanently exile the Despensers from England.

Edward's estranged cousin, the Earl of Lancaster, was involved both times so, seeking revenge, Edward had Lancaster executed in 1322.

By 1325 Isabella herself wanted rid of Edward and the Despensers. She was able to secure enough resources and support from her lover, Roger Mortimer, to make this possible by agreeing to betroth her son to Roger's daughter.

Edward fled but was eventually captured. He had no real option other than to abdicate in favour of his son, Edward.

He died in September 1327 and was buried in Gloucester Abbey.

But Edward's reign wasn't all negativity and family feuds; he did try to ensure justice was fair across the land, and continued holding parliaments, thereby involving more than just the nobility in decision making.

He did, of course, have the usual problem with money - taxing too highly, and losing the confidence of people.

So next month, Edward III, the first monarch to become king before the death of the previous one.

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 10 October 2019

Link-up for Fully Finished Gallery SAL - October 2019

Hello all!

It's the 10th of the month so time for another Fully Finished Gallery SAL.

This is the place which will hopefully encourage you to fully-finish off one or more of your cross stitching projects which may have been recently completed or sitting in a bag or box or cupboard or drawer etc. for months or years, neglected and not out on display as it/they should be.

The link-up for this SAL opens on the 10th of each month and stays open for 10 days, so you have plenty of time to turn those UFOs into FFOs and join in.

So, what have I been up to this past month? Not that much actually; my UFO pile is getting bigger.  :(

Scaredy Cats has been my only FFO this month. It was the second finish from my Summer Of New Starts and finished off using coordinating spooky eyes backing fabric and tinsel wool. Bling for Halloween? Why not?!

The tinsel wool is a new-to-me idea which resulted from not being able to find any suitable eyelash or tinsel ribbon. I have used two lengths each of King Cole Black and Orangutan Tinsel Wool twisted together to get the effect. It definitely tested my patience to attach, but once I had found a rhythm of how to twist and anchor it down it became easier. I then took a lot of time releasing the little strands which had been caught under my thread. The result is exactly what I was hoping for!

This particular wool is available in 40+ colours so I shall definitely be purchasing more and using it in the future for anything that needs a bit of bling, especially Christmas projects. Plus it's really cheap; a 70m ball of wall costs about the same as 2-3m of tinsel ribbon. No-brainer really, and plenty left over for many projects to come!

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 October.

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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. Last month was a bit sparse, but I'm guessing that was summer getting in the way.

Next month's post will go live on 10th November at 6am UK time as usual. Hope to see you there!

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Dark October - week 1 progress

Hi again!

Just a quick post to show you the progress on my Dark October stitching. Whilst other stitchers are deep into their Dark October Halloween projects, I am slowly stitching a small piece from Sue Hillis' Dark Shadows set. In case you didn't guess, this is the chandelier.

Here's my progress after day 1:

And after week 1:

You can't see it in the photo but the Etoile is certainly adding a tiny bit of sparkle, as will the beads once it's their turn.

Naturally I'm absolutely desperate to work on it more, but I'm being a good girl and putting it away after adding just two thread lengths each day. I'll show another update after week two (unless I stop being good and have finished it by then!)

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 6 October 2019

October In Tourmaline - started and finished!

Hi all!

First things first... a little celebration as this is my 500th post!!! I would not have imagined when I started this blog I would get to 500 in 5 1/2 years. Just goes to show how much I have to say! Here's to the next 500.  :)

Now back to reality...

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.

October's birthstone is opal (or tourmaline):

October's child is born for woe
And life's vicissitudes must know
But lay an opal on her breast
And hope will lull those woes to rest.

Visit here if you would like to read little interesting snippets of information about opals and tourmalines. The opal is particularly interesting.

October is my birth month and, given that I am not keen on opals, I chose to stitch a pink tourmaline version although, where tourmaline is concerned, it seems that almost any colour could have been chosen!

October by Palkolap
Stitched on 16ct Dried Petal over-dyed aida by 2 over 1
Stitch count 47 wide by 47 high
Stitched with DMC variegated 48 and Miyuki Opaque Pink seed beads
Started - 1st October 2019
Finished - 5th October 2019
Total stitching time - 5 hours 40 minutes

I added a couple more bows to the pattern to make the fabric under October look less empty and love how it turned out. Now to FFO it!

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 5 October 2019

People's Choice SAL - Cats

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 is the 13th month of this SAL, so it's ironic that this unlucky number should be accompanied by a lucky theme - cats.

I'm not a 'cat' person as such but we did inherit a couple from the previous owner of the first house we bought as he couldn't take them with him. Both were totally gorgeous and totally black apart from Bagheera had a white mark under his chin and Midnight had a white tip on her tail. But they have long since departed and I'm not sure my cockatiels would appreciate it if we had any now!!

But I digress...

Off the top of my head I couldn't think of many projects in my finished, WIP or stash piles which have cats on them. Then I looked through my spreadsheet and found I'd actually finished 31 pieces, have 7 WIPs and have well over 40 in my stash; obviously I'm drawn towards cats much more than I thought!

Now I'm obviously not going to show all of my cat pieces, so here are a random few.

These Purr-fect Pets were stitched from a magazine chart back in 2000 before I kept accurate records. I think there are only three or four colours in each one so were really quick and easy to finish.

Sleepy and Big Eyes Kitty are two of a set of six sepia kittens by DMC. Sleepy was stitched between 2007 and 2012, and Big eyes Kitty in 2014. They could have been shown in the monochrome-themed SAL but I thought I'd put them in this one instead. I do have the other four in the set; I'm just waiting for that elusive 'one day' to arrive!

(the stripes you can see in the background are the spokes of an
umbrella I was using to try to stop reflection.)

This set of four magazine charts, called A Taste Of Tuscany, were some of the first pieces to appear on my blog when I started it back in 2014 (as was Big Eyes Kitty above, actually) so hold really strong memories of becoming a part of the online stitching community. I have no idea at all why they appeal to me, they just do!

Out of my 7 cat WIPs, one is a large chart, so is on hold, and the other 6 were started for DSDUCJFC 2015 so are on my list to be finished sometime during the next four years. I'll only show the biggie which is OMG Tigger Is Out by UnconventionalX (etsy) which I've barely started. I'd love to stitch more though (famous last words!) since the confetti isn't too bad and the colours quite soothing to work with. Seeing the gridlines, I think this is the only project I have actually gridded, presumably to help with the confetti.

Finally, on my to-stitch list is this set of 12 monthly Nelson and Tibbs charts which were in a free-with-magazine calendar. I'd definitely start with my favourites and may not even do them all. Not that's it's worth thinking about at the moment as that 'one day' is still light years away!

There, I've tried to keep it brief and am very surprised I wasn't tempted into showing lots more. No doubt I'll be able to fit them into other categories at some point.

Next month's theme is autumn colours - perfect for the time of year and right up my street!

Take care,
Rachel x