Thursday 31 December 2020

2020 End Of Year Summary

Hello all!

Crumbs, is that another year gone already?! Time once again for me to look back on my stitching and FFOing over the last twelve months.

Warning: contrary to the title, this is not a 'summary' Plus it comes with a 'boring post alert', so beware!

I knew I wouldn't achieve everything I had planned to stitch in 2020 - not only did I have a blip at the beginning of the year but there was just too much to fit into one year anyway! But I had an amazing time trying!

To go back over my goals for 2020:

* Finish 6 WIPs from 2015 - NO, only finished 2
* Finish 7 WIPs from 2019 - NO, finished 5 and made progress on a 6th
* Stitch 12 monarchs - YES!
* Stitch 12 Smalls SAL pieces - YES!
* Stitch 24 Advent Calendar pieces - YES (and an additional piece for the 25th)
* Start and half finish Magical Bookshelf - NO, postponed until 2021
* Start 17 projects for the Tokyo Olympics - YES! (as the Spring Into Summer New Start Binge)
* Stitch 10 hours per month on The Loneliness Of Autumn - YES! (so glad to have kept up)
* Christmas Day new start - YES! (although not the one I had planned!)
* Start 3 other projects? - YES! started 4 for Naughty November (but not the three I had in mind!)
* #24 hours of cross stitch SAL - YES and NO - gave up after July
* #24HOCS ABC Challenge - YES! but decided not to blog about it
* People's Choice SAL - YES! every month
* FFG SAL - YES! every month
* Smalls SAL - YES! every month
* Dark October - YES, although for only part of the month

At the end of 2020, I'm definitely a happy bunny. The only thing I really failed on was finishing some of the older WIPs, but considering the amount of new starts I had I actually achieved an awful lot more than I thought I would.

With all the new starts and finishes, my statistics now appear like this:

Number of WIPs brought forward from 2019 - 47
Plus number of new starts - 61
Less number of finishes - 45 (and 1 purged)
Number of WIPs to carry forward into 2021 - 62

Here are the projects which make up those statistics. Those in red have now been finished, those in black will be carried forward to 2021.

NB, the statistics look inflated because I counted the 25 Advent Calendar pieces individually. Well, they were all FFOd individually, so why shouldn't they all be counted as individual new starts!

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) Hogwarts In A Bottle
14) Kings and Queens
15) Lilac Ballerina
16) Giraffe
17) Greedy Robin
18) Friends For Life
19) Feline Groovy
20) Loves Me ... Love Me Not
21) Daisy Hugs
22) Book Worm
23) Carefree Summer
24) A Tatty Friend
25) Dandelion Time
26) Flower Power
27) All Aboard The Walnut Shells
28) Christmas Wishes
29) Daisy Umbrella
30) Cuddly Feline Friends
31) Choc-A-Holic
32) I Love Butter
33) Good Morning Nelson
34) Winter Hugs
35) Lickle Snooze
36) A Windy Day
37) Little Green
38) Start Trek TOS
39) Clue
40) Evil Minions
41) Pandas
42) Snow Globe Tree
43) A Little Witch Of The Night
44) A Little Wizard Of The Night
45) Christmas Cat With Present
46) Haunted Library
47) Grow Your Own

NEW IN 2020
1) The Loneliness Of Autumn (Artecy)
2) Robin On Postbox

3) Advent Calendar Day 1 Wreath
4) Advent Calendar Day 9 Stocking
5) Advent Calendar Day 21 Baubles
6) Chirpy Bird
7) Advent Calendar Day 4 Reindeer
8) Advent Calendar Day 5 Candle
9) Advent Calendar Day 11 Gingerbread Man
10) Polar Bear Cub
11) Advent Calendar Day 6 Snowman
12) Advent Calendar Day 7 Ice Skate
13) Advent Calendar Day 16 Angel
14) In The Gloaming - PURGED
15) In The Gloaming
16) Snuffles
17) Chick Berry
18) Humming Along
19) Pretty Little Toronto
20) Duckling
21) Pooh 1 - Eating Hunny
22) Basket Case
23) Pooh 2 - Looking Into Empty Pot
24) Mouse Reading Book
25) Wonderful Fright
26) Cute Kakapo
27) Happiness Delivery Couple
28) Pooh 3 - With Head On Ground
29) Lady In Red
30) Pooh 4 - Standing With Pot On Head
31) Advent Calendar Day 2 Presents
32) Advent Calendar Day 10 Christmas Tree
33) Advent Calendar Day 22 Little Tree
34) Advent Calendar Day 23 Two Birds
35) Simply Wren
36) Tiny Toadstool Mouse
37) Pooh 5 - Looking At Smashed Pot
38) Mouse With Books
39) Advent Calendar Day 3 Heart
40) Gatekeepers
41) Advent Calendar Day 13 Dove
42) Advent Calendar Day 19 Garland
43) Advent Calendar Day 20 House
44) Snuffles In Aqua
45) Advent Calendar Day 8 Sleigh
46) Advent Calendar Day 15 Bunny
47) Advent Calendar Day 17 Houses
48) Advent Calendar Day 12 Church
49) Advent Calendar Day 14 Rocking Horse
50) Advent Calendar Day 18 Sheep
51) Advent Calendar Day 24 Santa
52) Advent Calendar Day 25 Happy Christmas!
53) Pink Patchwork Hootie
54) Spooky Hootie
55) Jingle All The Way
56) Let's Bloom
57) Let's Have Fun In The Sun
58) Let's Breeze Into Autumn
59) Let's Be Frozen
60) Let It Snow
61) Gold Stars Christmas Tree

So I ended the year with 16 more WIPs than I started with. Ooops!

As for my Box of Shame, I started the year with 25 pieces in it, added 45 more, fully finished off 47, so have therefore ended the year with 23 pieces.

Here's the list of the the projects which were in and added to my Box Of Shame. As above, those in red have now been FFOd, those in black will be carried forward.

1) January Calendar
2) February Calendar
3) March Calendar
4) April Calendar
5) May Calendar
6) June Calendar
7) July Calendar
8) August Calendar
9) September Calendar
10) October Calendar
11) November Calendar
12) December Calendar
13) Spotted Owls
14) Midnight Manor
15) Parrot On Parade
16) Christmas Cat Yawning
17) Green Halloween Banner (half FFOd)
18) Chandelier
19) Trick Or Treat
20) Bird Candelabra
21) Happy Christmas
22) Boo!
23) Candelabra
24) Ho Ho Ho
25) Hocus Pocus

1) Robin On Postbox
2) Advent Calendar Day 1 Wreath
3) Advent Calendar Day 9 Stocking
4) Advent Calendar Day 21 Baubles
5) A Little Wizard Of The Night
6) Chirpy Bird
7) Advent Calendar Day 4 Reindeer
8) Advent Calendar Day 5 Candle
9) Advent Calendar Day 11 Gingerbread Man
10) Polar Bear Cub
11) Christmas Cat With Present
12) Snow Globe Tree
13) Advent Calendar Day 6 Snowman
14) Advent Calendar Day 7 Ice Skate
15) Advent Calendar Day 16 Angel
16) Snuffles
17) Duckling
18) Cute Kakapo
19) Advent Calendar Day 22 Little Tree
20) Tiny Toadstool Mouse
21) Advent Calendar 2 Gifts
22) Advent Calendar 23 Birds
23) Advent Calendar 10 Christmas Tree
24) Snuffles In Aqua
25) Advent Calendar 3 Heart
26) Advent Calendar 13 Dove
27) Advent Calendar 19 Garland
28) Advent Calendar 20 House
29) Advent Calendar 8 Sleigh
30) Pink Patchwork Hootie
31) Advent Calendar 15 Bunny
32) Advent Calendar 17 Houses
33) Advent Calendar 12 Church
34) Advent Calendar 14 Rocking Horse
35) Advent Calendar 18 Sheep
36) Hogwarts In A Bottle
37) Witchy Hootie
38) A Little Witch Of The Night
39) Advent Calendar 24 Santa
40) Advent Calendar 25 Happy Christmas
41) Jingle All The Way
42) Daisy Umbrella
43) Let It Snow
44) Daisy Hugs
45) Gold Stars Christmas Tree

What is evident in both lists is that I'm much better at finishing and fully-finishing the more recent projects than the older ones. I guess the lure of the new projects is greater, especially since the older ones are tucked away in a different box. They'll make their way to the top and become red one day!

During the year I stitched for a total of 564 hours, averaging out at just over 1.5 hours per day. The hours that I lost during my blip at the beginning of the year were clawed back in November and December with some late night / early morning stitching. Thank you insomnia, perfect timing!!

As for my stitching plans for 2021... well, they're big, they're ambitious, and they will all be revealed tomorrow morning.

Well done if you reached this far!

Have a great New Year's Eve!
Rachel x

Tuesday 29 December 2020

The Loneliness Of Autumn - 120 hours

Hi all!

So, this time last year, Leonore and I were about to start our SAL of The Loneliness of Autumn by Leonid Afremov, stitching one thread length per day (which just so happened to work out for me at about 10 hours each month) extreme cross country.

And here we both are, one year on and, believe it or not, almost a quarter of the way through!

During this latest 10 hour stint I finished the fourth colour. This is how it looked after three and four colours. This is now deceivingly 23.94% complete after putting in 15,943 stitches in 112 hours and 35 minutes:

Then it was back to the top to start the fourth colour, 814, a burgandy/red. I got through pages 1-4 on the top row and half of page 5 on the second.

As usual, here are the comparisons after 110 and 120 hours:

You can just about see how the the top quarter is looking a little denser.

Leonore had some excitement this month in that she finished her second colour and is now onto her third which, after dark blue and brown, is that first splash of autumnal colour. I'll add her link here once she posts.

For me, it's now more of 814 for another couple of months.

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 27 December 2020

Grow Your Own - 30 hours

Hello all!

This month, for the first time since March, I spent some time working on Hannah Dale's Grow Your Own by Bothy Threads. This was a birthday gift last year and was intended to be finished this year, Well, that's not going to happen so it is now on the top of my 2021 to-finish list. Promise!

Here's how it looked back in March:

And now after finishing the lettuce leaf, and adding the juicy carrots and some of the radish tops:

What a difference the splashes of colour make. I'm really excited to be stitching this one again, and can't wait to get stuck into more of those juicy vegetables!

Sometimes I give the characters names when I stitch them. For some reason the name Walter popped into my head for this one. No idea why, but it stuck. Hopefully it won't be too long before you see Walter and his vegetables again!

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas!

Good morning all, and...

Merry Christmas 2020 everyone!

Hopefully Santa has been good to you and brought you lots of stitchy goodies?

I treated myself to a couple of new things for Christmas and will be starting one of them tonight. It's seasonal but a bit different to my usual choice of patterns. I'm definitely looking forward to putting in the first few stitches later, especially as I'm going to add sparkle! ;)

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

Rachel x

Thursday 24 December 2020

Smalls SAL - December 2020

Hello all!

I'm posting this a day early as I always have a special post on Christmas Day and like to post things separately.

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.

For December I stitched the fourth of six Christmas Words Cards by Durene Jones:

Let It Snow by Durene Jones (etsy)
Stitch Count 45 wide by 45 high
Stitched on 16ct white lurex aida
Started - 6th December 2020
Finished - 11th December 2020
Total stitching time - 8 hours 50 minutes

Like last month's, I changed the blues and added beads instead of french knots. Another piece ready just in time for Christmas!

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

For the start of 2021 I have a set of five cuties planned. They tell a little story - if I get them in the right order. I can't wait to start the first one!

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 20 December 2020

A Monarch A Month - Elizabeth I

Hi all!

Time for another monarch, number 24, Elizabeth I.

Here she is, with her trademark red hair:

Elizabeth I from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 1st December 2020
Finished - 14th December 2020
Total stitching time - 6 hours 15 minutes

Preceded by Mary I (half sister)
Succeeded by James I (first cousin twice removed)
Lived - 1533-1603
Reigned - 1558-1603
No marriage, no children

Elizabeth became Queen following the death of her half-sister, Mary. She was the third and final of Henry VIII's children to reign, and the last of the Tudor dynasty.

She was extremely well-educated, fluent in many languages, and a Protestant, meaning that once Queen England returned to Protestantism.

Elizabeth chose not to marry, recognising that a husband might undermine her power and status. Her good friend Robert Dudley might have won her hand had his first wife not died in 'suspicious circumstances'.

There were numerous plots against Elizabeth's life, the most famous being the Babington Plot which implicated her cousin Mary Queen of Scots, and resulted in Mary's execution.

Elizabeth was not really interested in foreign campaigns, so various ventures in Ireland, France and Russia more or less failed.

However, a rousing speech to her troops at Tilbury, plus good fortune with the weather, led to the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 (although what's rarely mentioned is the humiliating defeat suffered by the English fleet in Spain the following year!)

During the 1590s, Elizabeth's popularity began to fade; her new Privy Council failed to make decisions which benefitted the country, the economy was in decline, and, with the loss of a lot of her long-term allies, including her most trusted senior advisor William Cecil, Elizabeth's own authority was decreasing.

Elizabeth's health declined in 1602 and she died the following year. She is buried in Westminster Abbey alongside her half sister Mary I.

With no direct heir, and Elizabeth refusing to name one, secret negotiations had begun prior to her death to prepare James VI of Scotland to become James I of England.

So next month, the first of the Stuart monarchs, James I of England.

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Daisy Hugs - finished!

Hi all!

Yes, it's another finish, and the second this month from WIPs started way back in 2015. Go me!

After finishing Daisy Umbrella a couple of weeks ago my heart was set on finishing this one too. It's finish number 37/59 for Debbie's Super Duper Ultimate Crazy January February Challenge, and probably my last finish of 2020.

Here's how you last saw the hugging mice (well, the daisy at least!) back in March 2015:

And now finished:

Daisy Umbrella (my title) by Margaret Sherry
Stitch count - 45 wide by 62 high
Stitched on 16ct antique white aida
Started - 6th January 2015
Finished - 15th December 2020
Total stitching time - 23 hours 45 minutes

Due to the number of fractionals, and thread splitting for the backstitching, I think this will probably be the last time I stitch a Margaret Sherry on aida; I say 'probably' because I know I've started two others on aida and will have to decide (when I eventually get to them) whether to carry on or restart hem on evenweave. Luckily they're both small, and I haven't stitched that much, so abandoning/restarting them won't be too wasteful.

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 10 December 2020

Link-up For Fully Finished Gallery SAL - December 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, even if you have nothing FFOd today, or tomorrow, or the day after that, you still have plenty of time to join in.

So this is the last FFG SAL of the year. A couple of months ago I asked if it would be possible to reach 366 finishes this year. All we need this month is 18 and we will have done it. I think it's a definitely-achievable target!

Let's start off with four from me:

First up is the final part of the Advent Calendar. The actual Advent Calendar had only 24 parts, but there were 25 buttons in the pack so I couldn't not use the final one. I designed this myself, but it didn't exactly take a lot of brain-power to stitch a few letters! And seeing as it was the special one it was stitched and FFO'd a bit fancier than the rest:

Here they all are together:

And, yes, I did remember to put them up for the 1st of December! The days are random, although the colours are not (terrible photo as taken by night light):

Next up is my Pink Patchwork Hootie from September's Smalls SAL. He's been FFOd in my usual way with coordinating fabric and barley twist cord:

Third is my most recent finish, Daisy Umbrella. I always knew this was going to be a simple (sickly cute) finish, and had the perfect pink and blue card to hand. I added a few gems for a bit of bling and a ribbon bow to finish:

And finally, la piece de resistance... it's Hogwarts In A Bottle! I spent many days on the framing website trying different combinations of thick frames, thin frames, wooden frames, coloured frames, one mount and two mounts, but this is the frame which immediately caught my eye and stayed at the top of my list. It's quite chunky, in both width and depth, but just seemed right, especially with the gold highlights which pick out the castle colours. Getting the fabric completely straight and taut was a bit of a fiddle, but it's done now and the last big thing I'll have to frame for a while. And no, I can assure you the bottle is not wonky, it's just an optical illusion which makes the bottle seem to tilt to the right. Weird!

And 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 December.

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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!

Next month's post will go live on 10th January at 6am UK time. It will also contain a round up of 2020 with a some data and graphs, for those lovers of statistics. Hope to see you there!

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Daisy Umbrella - finished!

Hi all!

Back in 2015 I started 59 projects during the first 59 days of the year in what was named Debbie's Super Duper Ultimate Crazy January February Challenge.

Up to now I've finished 35 of those projects - 17 in 2015, 9 in 2017 and 9 in 2018.

This year's to-finish list contained a further six but, mainly due to a lot of new-startitus, my good intentions haven't quite gone to plan - at almost the end of the year I've only just finished the first one!

Here's how I last left it:

And now, as finish number 36 of 59:

Daisy Umbrella (my title) by Margaret Sherry
Stitch count - 45 wide by 62 high
Stitched on 16ct white aida
Started - 21st January 2015
Finished - 4th December 2020
Total stitching time - 22 hours 40 minutes

I remember that this was one of my first Margaret Sherry designs, and I regretted using aida because of the fractionals. But it wasn't too bad in the end. The backstitching - all three hours of it - was probably more frustrating as it involved lots of thread splitting. But, again, it wasn't impossible, and well worth it for the effect.

The centre of the daisy was charted for french knots but I used beads because I don't like doing french knots!

I know exactly how this will be FFOd, so it will hopefully be ready for the 10th.

Wonder how long it will be before I finish another from this ages-ago Challenge?!

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 5 December 2020

People's Choice SAL - Stitching Disasters

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 Stitching Disasters.

I'm hoping, in the nicest sense, that this topic is relatively, if not completely, empty for everyone.

For me, I don't know if it's down to luck or care, but I can honestly say I've never had any stitching disasters.

I've never spilt anything, cut anything, damaged anything or had colours run when washing anything. All of my stitching has, thankfully, been very straight forward and non-dramatic.

Yes, I've had to restart a handful of projects after a few hours because I've chosen the wrong fabric or thread, but I wouldn't call them disasters.

I do admit to recently making a mistake cutting a project I'm FFOing, but it's retrievable, so even though it won't be FFOd quite how I wanted it, it's still not a disaster.

All in all, fortune has definitely been on my side for over 25 years.

But so as not to have a completely empty post, here's a disaster I would like to stitch, although it's currently about 1,759th on my to-stitch list! Along with many people I have a morbid fascination with Titanic, and this is my favourite chart, a now out-of-print kit by Dimensions called The Night To Remember:

And that's it!

Next month's theme is Designer Of The Year. This could be approached from quite a few angles, so I'll have to decide which one.

Take care,
Rachel x