Monday, 6 April 2020

Spring Into Summer New Start Binge - #1 In The Gloaming

Hi all!

This is the beginning of a completely bonkers 17 weekend-long new start binge which came about mostly, but not inclusively, as a result of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Stitching Challenge planned for later this year (which has now been rescheduled in line with the Olympic dates for 2021 if you're interested).

Tiff will be joining me for the whole 17 weekends, and you are more than welcome to join in and stitch along for as many or as few weekends as you wish, be it with new starts, WIPs or a combination of both.

So let's get going with new start number one.

This is a project both Tiff and I were desperate to stitch, so we thought it would make the perfect first new start. It is In The Gloaming by Whispered By The Wind.

But it was definitely not a straight-forward start.

I thought it would be fun to start with the top of the monument but what a disappointment the colours were! I really like the sandstone colours in the cover picture, but the suggested threads were far too dull and, I think you'll agree, NOTHING like the photo:

Tiff had bought the kit of In The Gloaming, and it just so happened to include the 'yellow' conversion for the cover colours. Brilliant! Only these are the colours suggested... the palest two looked OK but the other two? Far too orange and, I think you'll agree again, NOTHING like the cover picture! How could the threads suggested by the actual designer be so wrong?

So, Tiff and I went thread diving for the two darker colours and came up with our own combination. They weren't perfect but they're so much better than those recommended by the designer. You can see them on the left in the picture below.

I restarted the project late Saturday and continued into Sunday but, guess what? I still wasn't completely happy! I thought the 'white' looked a bit too harsh so frogged that and replaced it with the yellow, which meant frogging the yellow already stitched (there wasn't much) and replacing that with another colour. But that 'another colour' was too close to the yellow when stitched and so I ended up frogging both again!

To cut a long story short (I know, too late!) I tried numerous combinations in order to find two colours which were dissimilar enough to actually show the difference but as close to the cover picture as possible. And guess what? I ended up returning to the white I had frogged in the first place! The threads in the photo below don't look as if they match the stitched piece but they do in real life; my camera's just rubbish at picking up colours correctly.

So, after stitching and deliberating and restarting and frogging and stitching and frogging and deliberating and stitching and frogging and stitching again, this is how much I actually achieved over the weekend - not a lot really considering how much time I spent on it in total!

Stitched on 32ct Vintage Grey murano evenweave 2 over 2
Stitching time to date - 2 hours 40 minutes
(plus goodness knows how long frogging, deliberating and restitching!)

I'm still not completely happy as I think the brown behind the skull isn't quite dark enough, but I'll wait until I pick this up again before even thinking about changing that. The top of the monument is sort of separate from the rest so I may be able to change colour without frogging what I've done. If not, oh well, it's about the only part which hasn't been frogged to date so is probably feeling left out!

I'm already looking forward to my next new start on Saturday, although sincerely hope it doesn't turn out to be as dramatic as this one!

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday, 4 April 2020

People's Choice SAL - Modern Samplers

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 Modern Samplers.

So, what exactly is a Modern Sampler?

Well to me, a Traditional Sampler is an A-B-C 1-2-3 with a house in the middle, some added motifs and maybe a couple of people; the type of design I would personally avoid at all cost!

Therefore (in my mind at least) a Modern Sampler is a 'picture' where a selection of motifs are used to build up the design. These motifs should not include an alphabet and numbers, but can include names and dates.

I can't think of having stitched any such designs, nor really having anything in my stash; I much prefer a 'proper picture' rather than designs made up from bits and pieces.

When I Googled 'modern cross stitch sampler' I was inundated with a variety of designs, many of which were not really 'samplers' but came up in the results because the word 'sampler' was in their title.

So what to show as my interpretation of a Modern Sampler?

Well, wedding and birth samplers are obvious designs which can be built up from motifs. Out of all the returns Google showed me there were only a couple which caught my eye; the rest were far too 'traditional'.

Birth Sampler / Baby Cross Stitch Kits – Sew Inspiring UK
Savannah Birth Sampler by Dimensions

Four Hearts Wedding Sampler by Historic Sampler Company

Thinking about themes other than births and weddings, how about:

Merry Christmas Patchwork Style Sampler by Riverdrift House
(would look just as effective in blues, silvers and lilacs, don't you think?)

Invierno Winter by Satsuma Street (etsy)
(the other seasons are also available!)

Marine Sampler by PatternsCrossStitch (etsy)
(sorry, Katie!)

Coffee Sampler by PatternsCrossStitch (etsy)
(I wish I'd seen this last month!)

Actually, I do have a 'sampler' in my stash. It's this one by Maria Diaz from a cross stitch magazine, although I can't remember 'witch' one! Get it?! I'd love to start this. Maybe next year.

So I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of the difficult theme of Modern Samplers. Next month's theme is fire; at least that should be A LOT easier! See you there.

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday, 2 April 2020

#24HoursOfCrossStitch - March Challenges

Hi all,

Here is my monthly posting for the #24HoursOfCrossStitch Challenge, the brainchild of Jen from QuirksandStitches, where we can have fun matching our stitching for the month to various challenges. Let's see what happened in March...

1) Stitch for 24 hours during the month, including a minimum of 24 minutes each day
The beginning of March saw me beginning to slowly return to my usual stitching routine. Then, like a lot of people, I found myself in virtual lock down so was able to take advantage of some of the additional 'free' time when I would usually have been working. My total stitching time for March was therefore a very pleasing 56 hours.

2) Fill in the acrostic MEASURE TIME, explain the connections and pick a 24 minute, 4 hour, 8 hour, (or other) goal for each letter.
At the beginning of the month I set the goals as I usually would, suspecting I wouldn't be able to achieve all them all. And then this madness happened, so this is how much I actually achieved for the 11 projects I'd planned:

M - Kings And Queens by Bothy Threads (WIP)
Connection - my monarch is a month late!
Goal - start and finish (about 4 hours?)
Actual - 4h 45m

E - Polar Bear Cub (new start)
Connection - he's being stitched on evenweave
Goal - start and finish (about 8 hours?)
Actual - 7h 40m

A - Advent Calendar Day 16 (new start)
Connection - the design is an angel
Goal - start and finish (about 2 hours?)
Actual - stitched for 40 minutes, did not finish

S - Advent Calendar Day 6 (new start)
Connection - the design is a snowman
Goal - start and finish (about 2 hours?)
Actual - stitched for 45 minutes, did not finish

U - Daisy Umbrella (2015 WIP)
Connection - the daisy is being used as an umbrella
Goal - at least 4 hours of progress
Actual - 5 hours

R - Hogwarts In A Bottle (2019 WIP)
Connection - still no sign of the red train!
Goal - at least 8 hours of progress
Actual - 10 hours

 E - Snow Globe Tree (2019 WIP)
Connection - I'm using etoile thread for the snow
Goal - at least 4 hours of progress
Actual - finished in 8h 40m

T - The Loneliness Of Autumn (2020 WIP)
Connection - more tree trunks should appear
Goal - at least 8 hours of progress
Actual - 10 hours

I - Advent Calendar Day 7 (new start)
Connection - the design includes ice skates
Goal - start and finish (about 2 hours?)
Actual - stitched for 40 minutes, did not finish

M - Grow Your Own by Bothy Threads (2019 WIP)
Connection - the bunny is munching lettuce
Goal - at least 4 hours of progress
Actual - 4h 15m

E - Christmas Cat With Presents (2019 WIP)
Connection - because opening presents is exciting!
Goal - finish (about 4 hours?)
Actual - finished in 3h 35m

3) Connect 12 or more of the given holidays to your projects and stitch for at least 24 minutes on each. 10 of the 11 projects went on one holiday, the biggest (The Loneliness Of Autumn) went on two. Here are their connections:

Day 2 - Old Stuff Day - Daisy Umbrella - this is an old WIP from way back in 2015.

Day 3 - I Want You To Be Happy Day - Christmas Cat With Present - because giving presents is usually a good way of making someone happy.

Day 5 - World Book Day - Hogwarts In A Bottle - this represents some of the most famous books in the world.

Day 9 - Panic Day - Polar Bear - because if you came face to face with a polar bear, you'd panic!

Day 11 - Napping Day - The Loneliness Of Autumn - the bench looks like a good place to sit and take a nap.

Day 13 - Blame Someone Else Day - Kings and Queens - because monarchs would never admit they were wrong and always find someone else to blame for their errors.

Day 14 - National Pi Day - Snow Globe Tree - Pi is used when calculating things to do with circles, and this snow globe is a circle. Sort of!

Day 16 - Everything You Do Is Right Day - Advent Calendar Day 16 Angel - if you do everything right then you're usually referred to as a little angel.

Day 19 - Let's Laugh Day - Advent Calendar Day 6 Snowman - because building a snowman is usually a lot of fun and causes a lot of laughs.

Day 20 - World Sparrow Day - The Loneliness Of Autumn - there could be quite a few sparrows hiding in the trees.

Day 23 - Near Miss Day - Advent Calendar Day 7 Ice Skates - I had a near miss once when I fell over ice skating and saw the blade of a fast skater pass very close to my fingers!

Day 30 - National I Am In Control Day - Grow Your Own - if you grow your own vegetables then you are in control of eating a healthy diet.

4) Additional 'Just For Fun' Challenge: list 24 reasons to stitch instead of...
For this task I tend to waffle a bit instead of making an actual list, and this month is no exception!

I don't think stitching is my hobby; it's part of my life I can't do without, almost an obsession if I'm honest. Therefore I would try to find any excuse I could to stitch. Given a choice, I would easily choose stitching over things I don't enjoy much such as housework and cooking. However, my work is important to me, as is spending time with my children (although being late teenagers that doesn't happen very often) so those would always take priority. But other than that stitching is preferable to just about anything else.

And that's it for March. Back in April!

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Christmas Cat With Present AND Snow Globe Tree - finished!

Hello again!

Bearing in mind I will be starting 17 projects over the next four months (yes, I know I'm completely, utterly and insanely mad!) I spent the last few days of March trying to finish off a couple of WIPs so that there would at least be two less in my tottering pile.

And I succeeded! In fact I almost finished three, but not quite.

The first finish was Christmas Cat With Present, This was finish number five from the seven new projects which made up last year's Summer Of New Starts.

When you last saw her she looked like this, the cat herself obviously being too shy to make an appearance!

Here she is before the backstitching:

And now all finished:

Christmas Cat With Present by Lucie Heaton (etsy)
Stitch count 55 wide by 56 high
Stitched on 16ct white with silver lurex aida 2 over 1
Started - 31st August 2019
Finished - 24th March 2020
Total Stitching Time - 13 hours 45 minutes

She's one of a set of four but I have no idea as yet when the other three will make an appearance - perhaps during the Spring Into Summer New Start Binge? Who knows?!

My second finish was Snow Globe Tree, finish number six from last year's seven Summer Of New Starts. I left it like this:

And now it's all finished:

Snow Globe Tree by Lucie Heaton (etsy)
Stitch count 56 wide by 56 high
Stitched on 16ct antique white aida 2 over 1
Started - 20th July 2019
Finished - 28th March 2020
Total Stitching Time - 18 hours 35 minutes

I made a couple of small changes, using beads for the baubles and white Etoile for the snow. The Etoile gives the snow a greyish appearance, as opposed to being pure white, but I like it; I think it reflects the weather as being cloudy as opposed to sunny.

So that's 12 finishes so far this year and two more WIPs crossed off my list. I would say only 45 more to go but that won't be true in a few weeks' time! Nevermind... I've only myself to blame (and I've got some lovely projects coming up so don't regret this decision at all).

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Loneliness Of Autumn - 30 hours

Hi all!

The Loneliness Of Autumn is a SAL with Leonore, which we are both stitching extreme cross country one colour at a time.

March saw another 10 hours of black. I've now reached the bottom on the right hand side and am gradually working towards the bottom on the left:

Leonore's progress post for March will be linked here once it's up.

Next month I just might finish the black, and that means a second colour may make an appearance - not that there will be a marked difference since it's DMC939 dark blue.

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday, 27 March 2020

Smalls SAL - March 2020

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 another kit 'inherited' from my mum. This little polar bear was enjoyable to stitch and watch come together, although the cotton evenweave I chose to stitch him on was quite flimsy. I guess it's probably because I'm so used to aida. Anyway, here he is:

Polar Bear Cub from the 'Little Friends' range by Heritage Crafts
Stitch Count 35 wide by 35 high
Stitched on 32ct cloud blue sky over-dyed evenweave 2 over 1
Started - 3rd March 2020
Finished - 22nd March 2020
Total stitching time - 7 hours 40 minutes

In this Smalls SAL I'm also re-showing other qualifying small projects I've stitched during the month. This month it's just my Monarch, Henry V:

That's all for this month; see you next month with something very pink!

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Spring Into Summer New Start Binge

Hi all!

I hope you are all keeping safe in these scary and uncertain times.

I never thought I'd live to see the day the world shut down but have had most of my faith in humanity restored watching political leaders and most of the populations across the world taking it seriously and abiding with, let's face it, unprecedented and draconian legislation.

Naturally I hope you all stay healthy and out of danger.

I have been asked what is happening with the Tokyo Olympic Stitching Challenge I had planned for later this year. Well, as yet, the IOC/Japan have made no formal decision about the Olympic Games but I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that they will have to be postponed. It therefore looks likely that this SAL will similarly be postponed.

EDIT: It has now been confirmed the Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed for a year. Therefore this SAL will now become the Tokyo Olympic Stitching Challenge 2021. Put it in your diaries for next year - you've got plenty of time to plan for it!

Bearing that in mind, and assuming that we are all going to be in lock down for at least a month or two, does anyone fancy a new start binge?

An enthusiastic Tiff and I have decided that that's exactly what we need so I have come up with a Spring Into Summer New Start Binge. For the months of April and May we are planning to start a new project each weekend, making nine in total. If, after that, life is still on hold we talked of extending into June and maybe even July as that would, rather neatly, add up to the 17 new starts originally planned for the Tokyo Olympic Stitching Challenge. But that decision will be made closer to the time.

We appreciate it's fairly short notice, but does anyone fancy joining us for the next couple of months, maybe longer?

But don't worry... like the original Olympic Challenge, it doesn't have to be all new starts, it could be all WIPs or a combination of WIPs and new starts, or even spend those weekends concentrating on one WIP you really want to finish or don't usually enjoy working on. Whichever you choose, it's all about the weekends.

If you need any more convincing, look at the Spring Into Summer New Start Binge as:
* a replacement for the Tokyo Olympic Stitching Challenge
* something to look forward to each weekend for the next few months
* a way of staying sane whilst cooped up
* a way of spreading stitching happiness during these dark times

And if that isn't enough, just do what Tiff and I have done and consider it a damn good excuse for a new start binge!

Image result for i can resist everything except temptation

I really shouldn't be doing this, but what the heck - most of the circumstances I have had to deal with since the beginning of the year have basically now been taken out of my hands, and there's only so much housework / family time I can cope with in a day now that everyone's home all the time!

Yes, it'll take my WIPs over 50 (which I said I never wanted to happen again) and yes, I'll probably regret it later but, like I said, what the heck!

I have been reasonably sensible though - despite some bigger projects screaming to be started, I've chosen mainly smallish (under 20 hours) ones for the first two months, so nothing too excessive or large to over-burden my WIP pile. However, if we carry on into June and July that will more than likely change!

If you do fancy joining us for a run of new starts, or pulling out one or more older/neglected WIPs have fun stash or WIP diving! The first weekend will be 4th and 5th April and I'll be posting each new start update on the following Monday. Maybe see you there?

Take care and stay safe,
Rachel x

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Grow Your Own - 20 hours

Hello all!

My stitching life continues to improve, so I was also able to work on Bothy Thread's cute little Grow Your Own bunny this month.

This is how she looked after the first 10 hours:

I'd already added 5 hours in December and another 45 minutes in January so only had to stitch 4h 15m in March to reach the 20 hour mark. That was enough time for me to finish off her body, add the fur and whiskers backstitching and add just begin to fill in the lettuce leaf.

So here she is now:

Going forwards, it's time for all those wonderful vegetable colours to start appearing, and that's really exciting!

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Hogwarts In A Bottle - 160 hours

Hi there!

I didn't get to work on this project at all during February and must say I really really really missed it. I was determined to make up for it in March and thanks in part to having a couple of 'self-care' (i.e. stitching!) days I managed the full 10 hours I'd hoped for.

I usually work from right to left but finishing the outside of the bottle was far too tempting. So I did that first then continued to fill in more of the mountains and steam.

Here are the pictures from January:

And now:

Next time around I plan to finish off the steam on the bottom right, the outside of the bottle on the bottom left, and add all the backstitching I can. Then, if there's any time left, I will finally allow myself to thread some red and start the train - I've definitely left the best for last!

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday, 15 March 2020

A Monarch A Month - Henry V

Hello all!

After having missed February's post I'm now a month behind with my Monarch Of The Month. Not that it matters - it's not a SAL and I'm not stitching to a deadline - it's just upset the tidiness! There might be an opportunity later in the year to catch up, otherwise I'll just write February off as a missing month.

So this is monarch number fourteen, Henry V:

Henry V from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 9th March 2020
Finished - 12th March 2020
Total stitching time - 4 hours 45 minutes

Here's my summary of  Henry V's reign. For those of you who like Shakespeare you may be familiar with him from various plays, but here's my version.

Preceded by Henry IV (father)
Succeeded by Henry VI (son)
Lived - 1386-1422
Reigned - 1413-1422
Married - Catherine of Valois in 1420
Fathered - 1 son

Henry V became king on his father's death.

Henry had been acknowledged as a competent heir and began his reign by righting the wrongs of his predecessors, including honourably re-interring the deposed Richard II and restoring lands and titles to many who had been disinherited.

He was the first monarch to (finally!) write in English and legalise English as the language of Parliament.

His only real domestic threat was the 1415 Southampton Plot in which the supporters of Richard II's son, Edmund Mortimer, aimed to put him on the throne. Whilst Edmund was certainly more senior in the line of succession, he wanted no part in the plot; in fact it was Edmund himself who informed Henry of the threat. The traitors were dealt with but Edmund was pardoned and became one of Henry's most loyal and trusted advisers [one sceptically suspects he cleverly saw the perils associated with being King and was happier to stay on the sidelines!]

Regarding France, Henry aimed to unite England and France under one monarch - him! - thus re-igniting the English claim to the French throne, the Hundred Years' War, and the renewed invasion of France.

In 1415 Henry won the famous Battle of Agincourt where, despite being exhausted and heavily outnumbered, his troops decisively defeated the French. At the end of the Battle, Henry showed no mercy and, uncharacteristically, ordered the execution of all prisoners.

On finally reaching Paris in 1420, the Treaty of Troyes was negotiated whereby Henry was recognised as heir apparent to the ailing French King Charles VI.

But Henry never became King of France, dying in 1422, just months before Charles VI, and leaving a new wife and young child. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

So next month, Henry VI, who inherited the throne of England and became heir apparent to the throne of France at just nine months old.

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Link-up For Fully-Finished Gallery - March 2020

Hello all!

It's the 10th of the month so time for another Fully Finished Gallery SAL, the place to show your FFOing achievements since your last link-up.

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.

I achieved six FFOs over the last month, although it's not as impressive as it sounds as five took less than one hour in total. Nevertheless, six is six!

Chirpy Bird was February's Small SAL piece and FFOd in less than 5 minutes by cutting the fabric and inserting it into a small Framecraft frame:

Yawning Christmas Cat was my July 2019 Smalls SAL piece and finished as another ornie to match the other two in this series. If you remember, I couldn't find the barley twist cord; I had all the other colours but the grey one I needed was nowhere to be found, of course! Well, I ordered some more but didn't use it as it was thinner. Then, a couple of weeks ago, when I was going through a box of  'to sort out later' stuff I found it, along with a couple of other things I was missing. So I immediately got to work and FFOd this little cutie:

Here are the three Christmas Cats together with their cute little Santa pom-pom hats:

Then there were Advent Calendar Days 4, 5 and 11, simply finished off with felt to match those FFOd previously:

I also FFOd one of the six Dark Shadows pieces, Hocus Pocus, stitched towards the end of last year. For this, the design was padded and attached to some card, laid on top of some black felt-covered card and then framed with black tinsel wool. The black-on-black tinsel wool doesn't show up very well in the photo but the finished piece is exactly how I hoped it would turn out. No hanging loop though, just a piece to prop up somewhere, or insert in a glassless frame:

And that's it for me this month. Now it's over to you to show what you have finished.

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 March.

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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 page with the number of entrants and entries. Last month there were 13 participants with another 51 FFOs, making 90 FFOs so far in 2020. WOW! Well done and thank you!

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

* * * * * * * * * *

And finally.... the winner of my Blogoversary giveaway. Remember, you had to guess how many projects I've started in my lifetime. The winner would be the person(s) who guessed the closest.

I gave you a hint that it was somewhere between 250 and 500 and enjoyed watching the answers come in. Guesses ranged from 366 to 452 with all but two being in the 400s. Interestingly, all were w-a-y above the answer.

The actual answer is cunningly available on my blog, although you would have had to go rummaging for it! 

1994-2013 finishes = 57
2014 finishes = 8
2015 finishes = 35
2016 finishes = 54
2017 finishes = 26
2018 finishes = 29
2019 finishes = 35
2020 finishes = 9
Current WIPs = 47
And the abandoned/purged/restarted projects I mentioned = 10

Add them all together and you get a total of 'only' 310, much lower than all of you thought.

[For The People's Choice SAL back in January 2019 when the category was New Starts, I also showed a graph of how many projects I'd started each year up the end of 2018, so that would have been another clue. But I genuinely wasn't expecting anyone to remember that!]

So the winner, guessing the closest at 366 (and who was actually the first person to comment) is..... Rhona. Congratulations Rhona!

If you leave a comment or email me directly at I'll arrange some sort of voucher for you.

Sorry if you didn't win; better luck for next year's blogoversary giveaway (I already have the question safely stored away!)

Take care,
Rachel x