Tuesday 31 December 2019

2019 End Of Year Summary

Hello all!

So, here we are at the end of another year and time again for me to look back on my stitching and FFOing over the last twelve months. No pictures, but you can see all of my finishes and current WIPs on the page tabs at the top if you're interested.

My plans for 2019 involved abandoning all previous WIPs and working on just new starts and, boy, did I have a fun year!

I kept up with stitching the birthstones, monarchs and a Smalls SAL piece each month. although didn't finish my focus piece, Hogwarts, mainly because of the seven summer and six Dark October projects eating into its time. But it doesn't matter; every single project has been fun to work on and I have no regrets about starting any of them.

My overall statistics now appear like this:

Number of WIPs brought forward from 2018 - 12 large, 24 challenge = 36
Plus number of new starts - 2 large, 42 others = 44
Less number of finishes - 0 large, 35 others (plus 1 purge) = 36
Number of WIPs to carry forward into 2020 - 14 large, 24 challenge, 6 others = 44

So I ended the year with 8 mores WIPs than I started with. I'm OK with that; like I said, no regrets.

Now for the lists of those projects in the above stats:

LARGE WIPs (mostly inactive but never say never)
1) Mythical Dragon (True Colors)
2) QS Emerald Dragon (HAED)
3) SK The History Of Chocolate (HAED)
4) QS Come Softly (HAED)
5) Mini Bookworm Fairy (HAED)
6) Mini The Owrd Lord (HAED)
7) Mini One (HAED)
8) Dolphin Ruins (Rabnann - ebay)
9) OMG Tigger Is Out (UnconventionalX - etsy)
10) Dragon Eye (not yet blogged)
11) Magnolia (not yet blogged)
12) Tribal Dragon (Thread Geeks)
13) NEW Hogwarts In A Bottle
14) NEW Kings and Queens

1) Friends For Life
2) Feline Groovy
3) Loves Me ... Love Me Not
4) Daisy Hugs
5) Book Worm
6) Carefree Summer
7) A Tatty Friend
8) Dandelion Time
9) Flower Power
10) All Aboard The Walnut Shells
11) Christmas Wishes
12) Daisy Umbrella
13) Cuddly Feline Friends
14) Choc-A-Holic
15) I Love Butter
16) Good Morning Nelson
17) Winter Hugs
18) Lickle Snooze
19) A Windy Day
20) Little Green
21) Start Trek TOS
22) Clue
23) Evil Minions
24) Pandas

2019 NEW STARTS (excluding large)
1) January Birthstone - FINISHED
2) A Very Merry Winter - FINISHED
3) Parrot On Parade - FINISHED
4) Green Halloween Banner - FINISHED
5) February Birthstone - FINISHED
6) Green Dragon - FINISHED
7) March Birthstone - FINISHED
8) Purple Dragon - FINISHED
9) April Birthstone - FINISHED
10) A Very Merry Spring - FINISHED
11) May Birthstone - FINISHED
12) Kookaburra - FINISHED
13) June Birthstone - FINISHED
14) Parrot 1 - FINISHED
15) July Birthstone - FINISHED
16) Christmas Cat Yawning - FINISHED
17) Snow Globe Tree
18) Winter Bird - FINISHED
19) August Birthstone - FINISHED
20) Autumn Twirls - FINISHED
21) Autumn Bird - FINISHED
22) Scaredy Cats - FINISHED
23) A Little Witch Of The Night
24) A Little Wizard Of The Night
25) Christmas Cat With Present
26) September Birthstone - FINISHED
27) Blue Patchwork Hootie - FINISHED
28) Chandelier - FINISHED
29) October Birthstone - FINISHED
30) RIP Halloween Hootie - FINISHED
31) Trick Or Treat - FINISHED
32) Bird Candelabra - FINISHED
33) Boo! - FINISHED
34) Candelabra - FINISHED
35) Hocus Pocus - FINISHED
36) Haunted Library (on perforated paper) - PURGED
37) Haunted Library (on aida)
38) November Birthstone - FINISHED
39) Happy Christmas - FINISHED
40) December Birthstone - FINISHED
41) Ho ho ho - FINISHED
42) Grow Your Own

As for my Box of Shame, I started the year with 18 pieces, added 35 more, fully finished off 28, so have ended the year with 25 pieces; lots of projects for FFOing in 2020 then!

So, here's what was and/or still is in my Box Of Shame:

1) Cookie and Cream - FINISHED
2) French Country Witch - FINISHED
3) Humerous Alphabet - FINISHED
4) Snowman - FINISHED
5) January Calendar
6) February Calendar
7) March Calendar
8) April Calendar
9) May Calendar
10) June Calendar
11) July Calendar
12) August Calendar
13) September Calendar
14) October Calendar
15) November Calendar
16) December Calendar
17) Spotted Owls
18) Midnight Manor
19) NEW January Birthstone - FINISHED
20) NEW A Very Merry Winter - FINISHED
21) NEW February Birthstone - FINISHED
22) NEW Purple Dragon - FINISHED
23) NEW March Birthstone - FINISHED
24) NEW Green Dragon - FINISHED
25) NEW April Birthstone - FINISHED
26) NEW A Very Merry Spring - FINISHED
27) NEW Parrot On Parade
28) NEW May Birthstone - FINISHED
29) NEW Kookaburra - FINISHED
30) NEW June Birthstone - FINISHED
31) NEW Eastern Rosella - FINISHED
32) NEW July Birthstone - FINISHED
33) NEW Christmas Cat Yawning
34) NEW August Birthstone - FINISHED
35) NEW Autumn Twirls - FINISHED
36) NEW Green Halloween Banner
37) NEW Autumn Bird - FINISHED
38) NEW Scaredy Cats - FINISHED
39) NEW September Birthstone - FINISHED
40) NEW Blue Patchwork Hootie - FINISHED
41) NEW Winter Bird - FINISHED
42) NEW October Birthstone - FINISHED
43) NEW RIP Halloween Hootie - FINISHED
44) NEW Chandelier
45) NEW Trick Or Treat
46) NEW November Birthstone - FINISHED
47) NEW Bird Candelabra
48) NEW Happy Christmas
49) NEW Boo!
50) NEW Candelabra
51) NEW December Birthstone - FINISHED
52) NEW Ho Ho Ho
53) NEW Hocus Pocus

Finally, I stitched for a total of 608 hours during the year (which is at least 125 hours more than in both 2017 and 2018) averaging out at 1h 40m per day. I count myself very lucky indeed.

Tomorrow I'll reveal my 2020 plans... and they're BIG!

All the best and
Happy stitching :)
Rachel x

Sunday 29 December 2019

New Start - Grow Your Own by Bothy Threads - 10 hours

Hello all!

On Christmas Day I started this lovely project. It was bought with a birthday voucher from a wonderful stitchy friend (thank you again so much) who knows I have a soft spot for some of these Hannah Dale projects (remember Parrot On Parade from earlier this year?)

I am using the kit threads but have chosen my own 16ct fabric, rather than the provided 14ct speckled fabric) and here's how she's looking so far:

Grow Your Own by Bothy Threads
Stitched on 16ct Tumbleweed over-dyed aida

And here's how she will eventually look. As much as I am enjoying the many colours in the bunny and watching her adorable face come together, I 'can't wait' to get down to all those colourful and delicious-looking vegetables!

I will definitely continue on this until the end of the year.

I have one more post to make this year, which will be a year-end round-up, then it'll be on to the excitement of 2020. I've got so much (far too much) planned for the year but you'll have to wait until 1st January to find out exactly what. Sorry!!

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 27 December 2019

Smalls SAL - December 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, providing Christmas hasn't got in the way too much!

Each month I stitch a small project specifically for this SAL which doesn't appear elsewhere on my blog. This month it was the second of six Christmas cards by Durene Jones:

Happy Christmas by Durene Jones (etsy)
Stitch Count 45 wide by 45 high
Stitched on 16ct silver lurex aida 2 over 1
Started - 1st December 2019
Finished - 9th December 2019
Total stitching time - 9 hours 30 minutes

I can't believe how long this little piece took to stitch; it certainly didn't seem like almost ten hours. He was an absolute joy to work on, especially with adding a few red beads again. I did find myself giggling, though, as to whether that's him smiling behind his beard or he's dropped a tiny candy cane!

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

My birthstone of the month, December In Turquoise:

And my monarch of the month, Richard II:

I'm really hoping this SAL will continue to run next year. I enjoy stitching a small project each month and have quite a few waiting for attention; at one each month I could be joining in for many years to come!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Merry Christmas!

Good morning all, and...

Merry Christmas 2019 everyone!

Hopefully Santa has been good to you and brought you lots of stitchy goodies; I'll be starting a new project tonight so have that to look forward to once the day is over.

Thanks for putting up with my ramblings over the last year and continuing to comment and contribute to my blog. I couldn't imagine my stitching life without this blog to keep track of my adventures into the madness of stitching and SALs.

So, Merry Christmas everyone or, for those who do not celebrate Christmas, I hope you enjoy the small end-of-year break.

Rachel x

Monday 23 December 2019

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 140 hours

Hi there!

I've recently finished another ten hours on this wonderful piece.

I didn't do any backstitching this time, so have that to look forward to when Hogwarts comes out again in January, not that there's a lot but it'll be nice to keep up with it. Here are the progress pictures then.

Last time:

And this time:

And the full piece:

I'm happy to have vastly increased the amount of mountains (thank you, blocks of colour) and even added some of the smoke coming from the train funnel (the white on the bottom left).

More smoke next time and maybe I'll even reach the train itself.

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 21 December 2019

FFG SAL 2019 Round Up and Prize Draw Winners

Hi all!

As promised, all that remains for the FFG SAL this year is to announce the prize draw winners.

Image result for AND THE WINNERS ARE

But first, the stats. There were a total of 109 link-ups during the year, entering 389 FFOs.

Here's a graph of how many entrants there were each month:

And how many entries:

Naturally both numbers trailed off during the summer and towards the end of the year but overall this SAL exceeded my expectations by a long way; I was hoping for maybe 100 FFOs during the year, so I'm well chuffed with 389!

And now for the prize draws.

I said I'd do two - one for the entrant and one for the entry. The numbers 109 and 389 were entered onto one of my trusted spreadsheets, plugged into the RNG and the button pressed. The results were...

Entrant number 60 which belongs to Erin from Fairy Tales and French Knots.

Entry number 284 which is this one, belonging to Suzanne H.

Congratulations to the two of you; commiserations to everyone else, but a but a big thank you for participating. In some way we're all winners with less UFOs and more FFOs to our names.

If Erin and Suzanne would both get in contact with me either via a comment or directly at tenhourstitcher@gmail.com we'll work out some prizes.

I hope you've all enjoyed the SAL this year and hope to see you return again in 2020! Let's see if we can make a new year's resolution to keep FFOing at least one UFO per month (if you have any of course!)

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 19 December 2019

Hocus Pocus - finished!

Hello again!

I have another finish, the last from the Dark Shadows set I started during Dark October.

This is how you last saw it:

And now finished:

Hocus Pocus by Sue Hillis Designs
Stitched on 16ct Pink Pixie over-dyed aida by sewitall.com 2 over 1
Stitch Count 51 wide by 72 high 
Started - 27th October 2019
Finished - 15th December 2019
Total Stitching Time - 8 hours 35 minutes

I do admit to missing out a large section of this one as there should be a yellow crescent moon behind the writing. However, I thought it was too big (I suppose I could have made it smaller) and since there's nothing like it on the others I thought it looked a bit odd anyway.

Here are the six finishes together:

What do you think? Not bad, even if I do say so myself!!

Hocus Pocus will probably be my last finish of 2019; I could probably squeeze in another one but Hogwarts is calling and then I have a lovely new start planned for Christmas Day which will see me through to the end of the year. However, I do have a lot of posts planned so there's no getting away from me (unless of course you ignore them!)

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Haunted Library - 10 hours after restart

Hi all!

At the end of October I started Haunted Library by Mill Hill.

I'd spent a lot of time procrastinating over whether to use the supplied perforated paper or use 14ct or 16ct aida, and whether to use two or three strands of floss, but finally made up my mind to go with the kit's instructions.

I made a really good start but the whole project just wasn't sitting comfortably.

So I decided to restart it on 14ct aida to see if that made a difference. And it has; I'm enjoying it so much more. I don't think it looks as effective but I can always fill in the gaps with dark blue thread if necessary to make the building and beads stand out more.

Here's my restart:

Haunted Library by Mill Hill
Stitched on 14ct Confederate Grey aida 2 over 1

Compared to the original:

I certainly don't consider the time spent on the first one as a waste of time; it was something new to me and something I had to try in order to find out I didn't particularly like it. I'm just glad I did something about it sooner rather than later.

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 15 December 2019

A Monarch A Month - Richard 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 twelve, Richard II:

Richard II from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 11th December 2019
Finished - 14th December 2019
Total stitching time - 4 hours 5 minutes

Interestingly, I think I found the picture on which this design was based. It was apparently the first portrait of a monarch to be officially commissioned.

Richard II King of England.jpg

And as it's been another six months, here's the full piece so far. 12 down, 32 to go! It also shows the marbled fabric really clearly.

So, here's my summary of  Richard II's reign.

Preceded by Edward III (grandfather)
Succeeded by Henry IV (cousin)
Lived 1367-1400
Reigned 1377-1399
Married Anne of Bohemia 1382-1394 (died) and SIX YEAR OLD Isabella of Valoise 1396
No children

Ten year old Richard became king in 1367 when his grandfather died, his father having predeceased him.

Richard's paternal uncles were excluded from the Regency Councils as they were considered a threat to his crown (Edmund wasn't but John and Thomas certainly were).

Richard imposed heavy taxes on the population, but with nothing to show for their money (alongside other issues) the peasants' restlessness led to the 1381 Peasants Revolt. After negotiations, Richard agreed to the peasants' terms. Some incursions continued but not for long. In order to gain the peasants' loyalty, Richard later reduced their taxation.

Richard mistrusted many of the nobles, preferring to rely instead on the counsel of a few close ennobled friends. This annoyed the 'real' nobles who were used to being influential. Led by Richard's uncles, John and Thomas, and known as the Lords Appellant, these disgruntled nobles took control in 1389. Many of Richard's friends were charged with treason and fled or were executed.

But the Lords Appellant were short-lived. Richard gradually took back control, reconciling with and/or tolerating them as his reign continued.

Then, in 1397, Richard suddenly changed tactic and had most of them exiled or executed. Within a few months Richard had more or less made himself absolute monarch.

With questions being raised over Richard's fitness to be King, Henry Bolingbroke, Richard's cousin, declared himself king in 1399. Richard peacefully handed over his crown but Henry still considered him a threat. Richard was imprisoned and died from starvation a few months later.

Originally buried in King's Langley Priory, Richard was re-interred in 1413 alongside his first wife in Westminster Abbey.

So next month, Henry IV.

It's worth mentioning here that Henry Bolingbroke did have a direct claim to the throne, being either first or second in line, depending on whether or not his cousin Philippa's grandson, Edmund, was considered heir presumptive, as he was descended through his mother not his father, and being descended through the male line was everything.

Assuming Richard II had died naturally and childless, the succession would have gone...
* Uncle Lionel (already dead)
* Lionel's daughter Philippa (excluded for being a woman)
* Philippa's son Roger (already dead)
* Roger's son Edmund (passed over as he was descended through his mother not father)
* Uncle John (already dead)
* John's son Henry (who became Henry IV)

Oh, the complications of inheritance!!!

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Link-up for Fully Finished Gallery SAL - December 2019

Hello all!

It's the 10th of the month so time for another Fully Finished Gallery SAL; the final one of 2019!

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? Well, some finishes using my usual techniques and one finish trying a slightly different technique: 

1) Winter Bird was one of my Summer Of New Starts and the last of the four seasonal birds to be finished. He's fully-finished with matching fabric and coordinating barley twist cord:

I said I'd show the birds together when they were all fully-finished, so here they are. Autumn and Winter are obvious, I think, but Summer and Spring could be interchangeable:

2) Blue Patchwork Hootie was my September Smalls SAL piece. He's been finished off to match the other patchwork hooties, again with matching fabric and cord. I was supposed to adjust the squint in his left eye but picked him up to FFO and totally forgot about it. Oh well, he doesn't look too sinister!

3) RIP Spooky Hootie was my October Smalls SAL piece and FFOd using a new-to-me simple but effective technique. He's basically sandwiched with some wadding in a frame made from thick black card covered in sparkly black felt. The hanging loop is black and purple organza ribbon, and the orange ric-rac just adds that little extra something I think. I love the way he's turned out, although perhaps thinner ribbon would have looked better:

4) Finally, this month's birthstone, December In Turquoise, was finished off in the usual way:

The tutorial for this technique is at the end of the post but, in the meantime, here are all of the months together, all with different patterns of beads around the outside and all with different patterned backing fabrics. They're almost as colourful as Joseph's Coat. Not bad, eh?

Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Diamond
Emerald, Alexandrite, Ruby, Peridot
Sapphire, Tourmaline, Topaz, Turquoise

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 December.

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
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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.


Any ideas? I'm totally open to suggestions, or if you want to design one.....

PRIZE DRAWS (yes, two!)

Once this SAL has closed on 20th December I will be doing two prize draws for you FFO'ers!

1) For each month you entered, your name will receive one entry into the draw. Numbers will be allocated as entries were received.

2) For each FFO entered, that FFO will be allocated a number, again in the order in which the entries were received.

Both sets of numbers will be plugged into an RGN and two winners chosen (my name and FFOs will obviously not count!)

The winning names will be posted on 21st December. The second half of December is going to be a busy posting month for me so please keep your eyes peeled for that particular post as it will be up to you to contact me!

Now, I haven't thought of the prizes yet so suggestions are welcome. I would like the prize to be FFO related, if possible, but it's not essential so I could offer something like a generic gift certificate, or perhaps the winners might like to choose something specific. Our individual tastes can vary so much so I'm open to negotiation!


Now, as promised I will show you how I finish my monthly birthstones. Over the months I've made little tweaks which generally involve cheating but which give an overall better finish. I also use a lot of tape (a habit from my scrapbooking days) but can assure you I do not have shares in the company! I've probably included far too many steps and photos, but better that than not enough. If you're not as fussy as me, some of the steps can be missed and, of course fabric glue can replace the tape if that's what you're more comfortable using.

These are my supplies. The red tape is ultra high-tack tape and is actually clear; it's just the backing that's red.

1a) Iron the project face down and attach interfacing to the back to cover the stitching only. This is important because the tape won't stick to interfacing as well as it does to the fabric.
1b) Cut a piece of wadding the same size as the interfacing. Wadding is not essential but does give a bit of depth to the finish.
1c) Cut a piece of card to the size you require the project to be. I leave 1/4 inch around the design but you might want to leave more or less.
1d) Stick narrow tape around the outside of the card.

2aPlace the wadding onto the stitching.
2b) Remove the backing from the tape and place the card face down onto the stitching. Once in the correct place (I use pins to mark the four corners) firmly press into place. Don't worry, the tape doesn't show through the fabric. If strong enough tape is used, the fabric will stick to the card to give a 'flat' border around the edge of the 'puffed' stitching.

3a) Attach four pieces of tape to the four corners of the back of the card. You may want to trim the fabric down first. I've left 1/2 inch here and that's about right for this size of project.
3b) Stick the corners down. I use diagonal corners, as it's my preferred method, but you may wish to do square corners, or even cut the fabric away. I don't think diagonal corners are the neatest but I don't want to cut the corners. Anyway, they're covered up with ribbon later!

4a) Once the four corners have been stuck down, attach tape to the lengths of the card and stick the sides down, keeping the fabric in shape by using the holes as guidelines. The corners may seem a bit bulky which is why you may prefer to cut at least some of the fabric away.

5a) Cut enough ribbon for the corners (I use 2" for each corner) and stick tape to the back.
5b) Cut the ribbon into four equal pieces (it's easier to attach the tape to one long piece of ribbon than to four small pieces).
5c) Attach to the front of each corner and wrap around to stick to the back.

That's the top bit done, now for the bottom.

6a) Depending on how much of the backing fabric you want showing behind the stitched piece, cut two pieces of card to the required size.
6b) Cut two pieces of fabric larger than the card. Ensure the fabric has been ironed to remove creases and fold marks as you can't iron it later.

7a) Attach thin tape around the outer edges of the card.

8a) Using the warp and weft threads as guidelines (because I've found most material is slightly twisted) stick the fabric to the card. I like to attach the top first, then pull the fabric tight and attach to the bottom. The sides can then be pulled quite tightly and should (but not always) fall into alignment.
8b) Trim the fabric, cutting the corners off diagonally, but not too close to the edge.

9) Put tape on the back of the card and stick down the excess fabric, tucking in the corners first. You can miss out attaching the fabric to the front of the card but I found it much more difficult to get an overall neat and taut finish by sticking it to only the back of the card.

10a) Now add strong tape to the back of one of the cards.
10b) Cut a length of ribbon for the hanging loop to the required length and attach to the tape. I like the ends of my hanging loops in the middle but each end could be spaced as far apart as you like.
10c) Now stick the two pieces of card together, taking care to line them up squarely.

11) FINALLY, add tape to the back of the stitched piece and stick to whichever piece of fabric you want to be the front. I always place mine in the middle but it doesn't have to be.

12) Done!

I hope you found that useful. It is a bit long-winded and fiddly, but the end result is worth it, I think. If there's anything you want clarifying just ask! By the way, because of my faffing around with tape, and ensuring the fabric is lined up squarely, these take about 90 minutes to make.

The whole point of these birthstone ornies reversible is that if I find another suitably-sized birthstone chart I can add it to the other side (as if that's ever going to happen!) However, if I'd thought ahead, I could have made February the back of January, April the back of March, and so on, and saved half the fabric and quite a bit of time. Oh well!

If you've made it to the end here, it just remains for me to say that next month's post will go live on 10th January at 6am UK time. Keep FFOing and let's see if we can make 2020 just as, if not more, successful than 2019!

Take care,
Rachel x