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.

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.

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 tenhourstitcher@gmail.com 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

Saturday 7 March 2020

People's Choice SAL - Coffee

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 coffee.

As a non-tea and non-coffee drinker, I can't appreciate the appeal of different beans and the millions of ways of making them into a cup of hot or cold brown stuff. So, in the same way as coffee doesn't appeal to me, neither does stitching anything coffee related. The total charts stitched and in my stash is zero!

So what to show? Well, good old google! Let's have a look at some coffee charts I came across.

Living in a houseful of scientifically-minded people, it seems apt to begin with the chemical formula of caffeine C8 H10 N4 O2:

Caffeine Molecule by UnconventionalX (etsy)

Moving on to the different ways of making a 'cup of coffee'. I'm sure there are loads more than the nine depicted here (for those in the UK, maybe we should ask George Clooney!):

Coffee Guide by CrossStitchWithArt (etsy)

Then some different varieties, including flavoured ones:

Let's Do Coffee by Ursula Michael
[Is there any subject Ursula Michael hasn't done a 'word' pattern for?!]

This next chart popped up last month with the penguins, but everybody seemed to love it so I thought I'd show it again. Iced Latte anyone?

Tammara Markegard's Smiles In My Cup as charted by HAED

And finally this biggie. The Coffee Sea Dragon doesn't really exist but if he did his eyes seem to indicate he's definitely had too much caffeine!

Stanley Morrison's Coffee Sea Dragon as charted by Paine Free Crafts

If I did actually want to stitch something coffee-related it would probably be a simple monochrome project like this one. I think I could cope with that as a gift!

Cup Of Coffee by Silhouette Stitch (etsy)

So there's my rummage through the world of coffee in cross stitch. I hope you've stitched more than me!

Next month, the people have chosen Modern Samplers. Hmm...

Take care,
Rachel x

PS If you haven't done so already, there is still time to enter my sixth blogoversary prize draw. Go back to my blogoversary post and leave a comment with your guess, if you wish to enter. You never know how close you could be!

Tuesday 3 March 2020

6th Blogoversary Giveaway

Good morning everyone!

It's 9:22am on the 3rd March 2020 so I'm six years old today ! Happy blogoversary to me!!

Very few bloggers celebrate their blogoversary but I do, and every year I hold a giveaway to commemorate the day I joined all you wonderful bloggers out there.

Usually I ask you to leave a comment saying you would like to be entered into a draw to win a £10 (or local currency equivalent) voucher for your favourite cross stitch website. This year I be offering the same prize but with an added bit of fun.

This year, if you want to be entered, there are two requirements. You have to:
1) be a follower of my blog via the followers thingy on the left
2) leave a comment answering the following question...

How many cross stitch projects do you think I have started during my stitching lifetime (up to the end of February 2020).

It's that easy!

Only one entry per person will be accepted.

I will help you a little bit though - the total number .....
* includes ten projects which have been abandoned/purged/restarted
* does not include all the individual monarchs - they are counted as one project
* does include all the individual advent calendar days
* and is somewhere between 250 and 500.

The winner will be the person who guesses closest to the actual number (whether that be higher or lower). In the event of a tie I will offer two vouchers.

The draw will close at 5am GMT on 10th March 2020, so you have just under a week to leave a comment. The answer and winner(s) will be announced at the end of the 10th March FFG SAL link-up post, so keep an eye out for that - it's up to you to contact me, otherwise you will lose out! I'll get the voucher out once emails have been exchanged and your store selected.

Good luck guessing!
Rachel x

Sunday 1 March 2020

#24HoursOfCrossStitch - February 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. I don't post to the FB group but make you all suffer as I post my results here instead.

As you may or may not be aware, I had some issues at the end of January, and into February which had, and are continuing to have, an impact on my life and (more importantly!) my stitching time. Having made my February plans before any of this happened I decided to keep them, although knew full well that many would not be achievable. So let's see how I did.

1) Stitch for 24 hours during the month, including a minimum of 24 minutes each day
February's stitching amounted to a mere 15 hours 25 minutes, about 1/3rd of my usual time. There were 4 days where I was able to put in 1-2 hours, but there were also 10 days where I only achieved 5 minutes. Not brilliant, but at least I'm continuing to stitch every day and am very grateful for that.

2) Fill in the acrostic LEAP YEAR 20, explain the connections and pick a 24 minute, 4 hour, 8 hour, (or other) goal for each letter.
Here are the 10 projects I picked out for the month, along with their goals and how much I actually achieved:

L - Advent Calendar Day 5 (new start)
Connection - the design is a lighted candle
Goal - start and finish (about 2 hours?)
Actual - 1h 30m

E - Grow Your Own by Bothy Threads (2019 WIP)
Connection - the bunny is eating
Goal - at least 4 hours of progress
Actual - NONE

A - The Loneliness Of Autumn (2020 WIP)
Connection - A is for autumn
Goal - at least 8 hours of progress
Actual - 10 hours
I really didn't want to fall behind with this SAL.

P - Loves Me... Loves Me Not (2015 WIP)
Connection - the mouse is pulling off the daisy petals
Goal - at least 4 hours of progress
Actual - NONE

Y - Hogwarts In A Bottle by CutePatternsbyMaria (WIP)
Connection - I've yet to stitch the train
Goal - at least 8 hours of progress
Actual - NONE

E - Advent Calendar Day 11 (new start)
Connection - the gingerbread man is edible
Goal - start and finish (about 2 hours?)
Actual - 1h 15m
This was stitched during the last few days of the month so has not yet appeared
on my blog as a finish. I'll add it on the March ones when I post them.

A - Daisy Umbrella (2015 WIP)
Connection - the umbrella is protecting the mouse from April showers
Goal - at least 4 hours of progress
Actual - NONE

R - Advent Calendar Day 4 (new start)
Connection - the design is a reindeer
Goal - start and finish (about 2 hours?)
Actual - finished in 1h 20m

2 - Kings And Queens by Bothy Threads (WIP)
Connection - Henry V was the second Lancastrian monarch
Goal - start and finish (about 4 hours?)
Actual - NONE

0 - Chirpy Bird (2020 WIP)
Connection - I have no idea how to make a connection; perhaps he is singing notes!
Goal - finish (about 2 hours?)
Actual - finished in 1h 20m

So that's the goals achieved for only 5 out of the 10 projects, one large and four small. I prioritised Chirpy Bird (for the smalls SAL) and The Loneliness Of Autumn (for the SAL with Leonore) and used the advent projects when I needed something easy to stitch on for only a few minutes.

Hogwarts and some older WIPs were totally neglected, as was my monarch of the month (I'm not sure if I'll double up at some point to catch up or just remain one month behind). I'm still very happy with the amount I actually did achieve though, all things considered.

3) Connect 12 or more of the given holidays to your projects and stitch for at least 24 minutes on each. With only 5 projects to choose from, the smaller ones went on two holidays whilst The Loneliness of Autumn (as my biggest and greediest project) went on four to make up the number. See above for time spent on each one.

3rd - Feed The Birds Day - The Loneliness Of Autumn - because to do so you often sit on a bench (not that I've stitched the bench yet!)

7th - Send A Card To A Friend Day - Chirpy Bird - sending a card is similar to sending a note, and that's what the bird's singing - notes!!

10th - Umbrella Day - The Loneliness Of Autumn - because the reflections in the ground indicate it's been raining.

11th - Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day - Advent Calendar Gingerbread Man - in Shrek, the baddies tried to 'kill' the giant gingerbread man, Mongo, with hot foamy milk. It almost made me cry!

13th - Get A Different Name Day - Advent Calendar Reindeer - so what should the reindeer be called? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen or Rudolph? Take your pick!

15th - National Gum Drop Day - Advent Calendar Gingerbread Man - who can forget Gingy in Shrek worrying about his gum drop buttons?

18th - National Drink Wine Day - Advent Calendar Candle - because candles and wine often go together for a relaxing evening (or so it's said).

20th - Love Your Pet Day - Chirpy Bird - I have two cockatiels and they love me as much as I love them!

22nd - International World Thinking Day - Advent Calendar Candle - because candles are often used to help channel meditative thoughts.

27th - No Brainer Day - The Loneliness Of Autumn - the symbols might be all over the place, but stitching with one colour is a no brainer!

28th - Public Sleeping Day - The Loneliness Of Autumn - the yet-to-be-stitched bench is probably one of only a few places in public where you would consider closing your eyes for a quick 40 winks!

29th - Leap Day - Advent Calendar Reindeer - because the reindeer's in a leaping pose.

4) Additional 'Just For Fun' Challenge: list 24 things you like to stitch.
I think we are all selective about what we like to stitch, and just because we like stitching one or two dragons, for example, it doesn't follow that we like all dragon patterns. I gave up trying to list 24 things and just summed them all up in one word: 'cuties'. There are exceptions, and I do like other subjects, such as Christmas and Halloween, but even they generally tend to veer towards the 'cute' side. For those who have known my stitching for many years, I think you'll agree I'm definitely a 'cutie' stitcher.

And that's it for February. I'll be back at the end of March with another (and hopefully bit more successful) #24 round-up.

Take care,
Rachel x