Monday, 27 April 2020

Spring Into Summer New Start Binge - #4 Pretty Little Toronto

Hi again!

If you don't know by now, Tiff and I are starting seventeen new projects each weekend during the months of April-July and have named it the Spring Into Summer New Start Binge. This is now (already!) week number four of seventeen.

This week's new start is the biggest of the seventeen and one that has been on my list for a long time. There was a reason I chose to start it this particular weekend.

You must have twigged that the number 10 is significant in my life; well, the number two is too. For example, we have have 2 children born 2 years 2 weeks and 2 days apart, 22 was the first house we bought, and Saturday was our 22nd wedding anniversary, which brought back wonderful memories of honeymooning in... Toronto, so starting this project was a no-brainer!



Unfortunately, stitching-wise, both Saturday and Sunday were a complete wash-out with me just scraping in a few stitches before bedtime. So here's my piddly achievement for the whole weekend, the beginning of the cloud on the right:

Pretty Little Toronto by Satsuma Street
Stitched on 16ct Winter Sunset aida by The Crafty Kitten
Stitching time to date - 20 minutes!


Obviously I'm looking forward to returning to it, especially given this pathetic start.

Next week's new start will be something to do with hunny I think.

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday, 24 April 2020

Smalls SAL - April 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 pink - the fabric was pink, most of the threads were pink and the backing fabric, when I get there, will be pink. Let me introduce Snuffles. Isn't he simply adorable?

Snuffles the Dragon by FuzzyFoxDesigns (etsy)
Stitch Count 32 wide by 30 high
Stitched on 16ct cloud pink over-dyed aida 2 over 1
Started - 6th April 2020
Finished - 10th April 2020
Total stitching time - 4 hours 35 minutes


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



And three Advent Calendar pieces:





I have a feeling next month's Smalls SAL piece might involve quite a lot of yellow.

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday, 20 April 2020

Spring Into Summer New Start Binge - #3 Humming Along

Hello again!

The idea of the Spring Into Summer New Start Binge is to start a new project each weekend during the months of April, May, June and July to help banish the winter blues and see us through the current world situation. It's pure and utter madness but Tiff and I are enjoying it so far! Feel free to join in for as many or as few weekends as you like, even if it's just working on one WIP for one weekend.

This is weekend number three which means start number three. This weekend I chose Humming Along, another adorable bird from Valerie Pfeiffer's Solos collection to go with last week's Chick Berry.



Naturally I swapped out the white for coloured fabric, and then stitched green, green, green, green and more green until some colours started appearing. I'm really pleased with my achievement over the weekend and am glad I more or less finished the little bird:

Humming Along by Heritage Crafts
Stitched on 16ct Pine over-dyed aida
Stitching time to date - 5 hours 5 minutes


Like last week's Chick Berry I absolutely love it and look forward to retrieving it from its WIP folder at some point, especially if it means I can work on the pink fuchsias.

Next weekend I will be starting something which makes me feel uncharacteristically sentimental!

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday, 17 April 2020

A Monarch A Month - Henry VI

Hello all!

Time for another Monarch Of The Month and another History lesson!

Here we have monarch number fifteen, Henry VI:

Henry VI from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 13th April 2020
Finished - 16th April 2020
Total stitching time - 3 hours 30 minutes


Henry VI also brings me to the end of the second row and means I'm 1/3rd of the way through stitching the various Kings and Queens. I've taken out the grid lines so I can get a better photo:



The second row looks too far over to the right compared to the first, but to show it's centred correctly I've put the gridding back in, along with the gridding for the next row which will almost see me through to the end of the year (bet you can't guess which box is for Henry VIII?!)



I'm also going to frog and restitch some (or probably most) of the names on both the first and second rows; I don't like the spacing on some of them, and the last three Henrys definitely need squishing up a bit.

And don't forget, I've got beads to add at the end, including to William I's shield and Henry III's leopard.

Anyway, enough of the dramatics; on to the summary of  Henry VI's reign.

Unfortunately, Henry VI's reign has been overshadowed by his failings in France and the to-ing and fro-ing of The Wars Of The Roses, so there's not much else to write. I hope you find the snippets interesting though.


HENRY VI
Preceded by Henry V (father)
Succeeded by Edward IV (cousin's son)
Lived - 1421-1471
Reigned - 1422-1461 and 1470-1471
Married - Margaret of Anjou in 1445
Fathered - one son

Nine month old Henry became King on his father's death. Two months later he also became King of France, reigning from 1422 to the end of The Hundred Years' War in 1453.

Despite showing potential early on, Henry was a weak ruler. England had been neglected during the regency years and Henry's reign achieved little to improve civil unrest.

In France Henry gradually lost all English territories, except Calais, and by 1453 had also lost the French crown.

Henry's poor mental state and inability to competently rule led to his cousin, Richard of York, being declared Protector of the Realm in 1454. Richard had a claim to the throne (The Wars Of The Roses) and support for becoming King.

Richard was killed by Henry's supporters in the 1460 Battle of Wakefield, but Henry's forces were later defeated in the 1461 Battle of Towton by Richard's son, Edward, who then proclaimed himself Edward IV.

Henry, Margaret and their son (also Edward) went into hiding. Henry was captured in 1465, Margaret and Edward fled to France.

In 1470, Margaret, with the help of the Earl of Warwick and Edward's brother George, restored Henry to the throne but his reign was short-lived.

Edward was killed by the exiled Edward IV in the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury and soon after Henry was again captured and imprisoned.

Henry died in The Tower of London (possibly murdered while at prayer, hence the picture) in 1471, bringing to an end the House Of Lancaster. He is buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor.

But his legacy lives on, as the founder of Eton and two Oxbridge colleges.

So next month, Edward IV and the beginning of the reign of the House Of York.

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday, 13 April 2020

Spring Into Summer New Start Binge - #2 Chick Berry

Hello all!

This Spring Into Summer New Start Binge will be taking place over the 17 weekends between April and July where Tiff and I will be starting a new project each weekend. Madness, we know, but totally needed! You are more than welcome to join us for as many or few weekends as you wish, with one or more new starts, or just even concentrating on a WIP for the weekend.

Here's Tiff's link for week 2.

If you recall our first new start last week, In The Gloaming, did not go smoothly. In fact it was a bit of a nightmare with lots of frogging and restitching as we kept swapping out colours.

Thankfully, this weekend's new start went perfectly. This is Valerie Pfeiffer's Chick Berry. It's one of four in her Solos collection, another set of projects I 'inherited' from my mum and am more than happy to stitch for her.



You all know how I love my coloured fabric, so I swapped out the white for coloured aida. Yes, there are quite a few fractionals, especially in the berries, but not enough to warrant the purchase of evenweave. I love how it's looking so far, even if the chick doesn't have any legs and, without the backstitching, the berries look like a bunch of balloons!

Chick Berry by Heritage Crafts
Stitched on 16ct Provence over-dyed aida 2 over 1
Stitching time to date - 5 hours 55 minutes


There are so many colours in this tiny chart - that clump of berries alone contains 15 - but that's what gives the design its detail. It also shows just how much can be achieved in a weekend when no frogging is involved!

I think next weekend's new start might have to be another of this quartet, but which one I wonder?

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday, 10 April 2020

Link-up For Fully Finished Gallery SAL - April 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.

So, how much did I achieve this month?

First there were the three Advent Calendar Days 6, 7 and 16, finished off to match those the others:





And then there were another two Dark Shadows pieces, Boo and Trick Or Treat, FFOd to match Hocus Pocus from last month:



So all in all, nothing very exciting but still 5 more UFOs out of my Box Of Shame.

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 10 participants with another 36 FFOs, making 126 FFOs so far in 2020. Keep up the good work!


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


Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

JBW Advent Calendar - Days 6, 7 and 16 (and 11)

Hello all!

This year I am hoping to stitch all of the 24 designs making up JBW Designs' Advent Calendar.



Towards the end of March I managed to stitch the borders for three of the days. You may have seen them on my #24 post but here's a reminder of their emptiness. I think it's obvious which day is which!




It didn't take long to add the motifs but, in the snowman especially, there were so many colours for such a small design. I've added beads and charms to each day for a little bit of bling, and changed one or two colours along the way. Here are the finished pieces, all stitched on 16ct silver lurex aida:

Day 6 - Snowman:

Started - 30th March 2020
Finished - 2nd April 2020
Total Stitching time - 2 hours

Day 7 - Ice Skate:

Started - 30th March 2020
Finished - 3rd April 2020
Total Stitching time - 1 hour 30 minutes

Day 16 - Angel:

Started - 31st March 2020
Finished - 3rd April 2020
Total Stitching time - 1 hour 35 minutes


There's also another one which I finished on the last day of February and, although it appeared in March's FFG SAL, I haven't actually blogged about it, so I'll just quickly pop it in here:

Day 11 - Gingerbread Man

Started - 21st February 2020
Finished - 29th February 2020
Total Stitching time - 1 hour 35 minutes


Hopefully the new finishes will be FFOd in time for the FFG SAL on the 10th - is it almost that time of the month again?!

Take care,
Rachel x

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