Friday 29 January 2021

Smalls SAL - January 2021

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.

I'm starting 2021 with the same designer I finished 2020 with - Durene Jones. This is first in a series of five cute dogs which I shall be stitching over the next five months. They are all freebies available on her FB page.

Let's Play by Durene Jones (freebie)
Stitch Count 35 wide by 39 high
Stitched on 16ct Golden over-dyed aida by
Started - 1st January 2021
Finished - 3rd January 2021
Total stitching time - 8 hours 5 minutes

Isn't he just absolutely adorable?!

I know exactly how he will be FFOd, but it is dependent on me stitching the other four first, so you won't see the finished product until June at the earliest.

In this Smalls SAL I'm also re-showing other qualifying small projects I've stitched during the month. I'm not planning on many this year so, like most months, it's just my monarch:

See you next month for cute doggie number two!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 27 January 2021

The Loneliness Of Autumn - 130 hours

Hi all!

Well, that's almost the first month of the year already gone... wow!

For this SAL with Leonore, January saw me adding more 814, completing pages 5-12 and making a very small start on page 13 of this 16 page project.

Here are the 120 hour and 130 hour comparisons:

There doesn't appear to be a lot of difference, but you can definitely see the red in the middle on the right hand side is a bit denser now.

According to my calculations (which haven't been too bad so far) I've got about another 5 hours of 814 left to complete the bottom row. So next month will see the introduction of colour number six, the gorgeous bright orange 742. I'd better go and check I've got some in stock!

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 24 January 2021

Humming Along - finished!

Hello again!

I have another finish; see, I do finish projects sometimes!

This is Humming Along, the second of the four Valerie Pfeiffer's Solos collection by Heritage Crafts. He was start number three of last year's Spring Into Summer New Start Binge and is now the second finish.

Here's how I left him after six hours of stitching:

And after adding the flowers and leaves:

And after 1.5 hours of backstitching:

Humming Along by Heritage Crafts
Stitched on 16ct Pine over-dyed aida by sewitall
Stitch count 70 wide by 68 high
Started - 18th April 2020
Finished - 21st January 2021
Total stitching time - 18 hours 25 minutes

The backstitching is very subtle on the flowers, leaves and body, but the little bits on his chin and head really do make a difference.

If all goes well, I am hoping to complete the other two in this set in February. Fingers crossed.

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 21 January 2021

Chick Berry - finished!

Hi all!

I have a finish!

This is Chick Berry by Heritage Crafts, one of a set of four birds in the Solos range by Valerie Pfeiffer. He was start number two of last year's Spring Into Summer New Start Binge and is the first finish from that SAL; only 16 more to go!

Here's how I picked it up after spending almost six hours stitching the bird and berries:

And after finishing the stitching:

And now all finished after adding 2.25 hours of backstitching:

Chick Berry by Heritage Crafts
Stitched on 16ct Provence over-dyed aida by sewitall
Stitch count 66 wide by 58 high
Started - 11th April 2020
Finished - 17th January 2021
Total stitching time - 13 hours 30 minutes

All four birds in this set contain a good proportion of fractionals, and the backstitching is certainly no easy ride, but I knew that before starting them all on aida. I'm not moaning though - fractionals on aida are second nature to me now, and not that bad really! Anyway, I had the perfect colours in aida so didn't see much point in buying more fabric, even if evenweave would have made stitching them easier.

I'm already working on finishing another from this set, so that should appear fairly soon.

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 18 January 2021

A Monarch A Month - James I

Hi all!

As you are all fully aware by now, I have been, and am, stitching Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads at the rate of one monarch per month. It's been going for two years already. during which time I have stitched monarchs 1-24. This year I shall be stitching monarchs 25-36, which will leave me only five monarchs, numbers 37-41 next year, followed by the beading, the title and some sort of border I have yet to design. In other words, I may be over half way through monarchs, but I'm only about half way through the whole piece.

So, we start of this year with monarch number 25, James I.

Here he is, reading a very important version of the bible:

James I from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 3rd January 2021
Finished - 6th January 2021
Total stitching time - 5 hours 15 minutes

As a bit of background information, James had already been King James VI of Scotland for 36 years (since the age of 13 months) before also becoming King James I of England. His mother was Mary Queen of Scots, famously beheaded by Elizabeth for conspiring to overthrow her.

Preceded by Elizabeth I (first cousin twice removed)
Succeeded by Charles I (son)
Lived - 1566-1625
Reigned - 1603-1625
Married - Anne of Denmark 1589-1619
Children - 3 boys and 4 girls (four died very young and another in his teens)

James became King of England in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I.

He was popular in both Scotland and England and was eager to unite them under one Parliament; neither country agreed.

He was obsessed with witchcraft, contributing to the burning of hundreds, possibly thousands, of witches during his reigns.

Yet James tolerated Catholicism and believed in negotiating peace, rather than going to war, with other countries.

An unintentional tip-off about a Catholic attempt to blow up Parliament and assassinate James and his ministers (The Gunpowder Plot) was foiled in 1605.

In 1607 Jamestown was established as the first permanent English colony in America. Others followed, including the Plymouth Colony settled by the Pilgrims sailing on the Mayflower in 1620.

In 1611 he published the Authorised King James Bible, consolidating a number of translations in one volume.

1612 marked a turning point in James' reign when his 18 year old son and heir, Henry, and his Chief Minister, Robert Cecil, both died.

James had a second son, Charles, to succeed him. But Cecil (who had been instrumental in negotiating James' smooth succession) had no such successor and factions began appearing in the previously-conforming Privy Council.

With Parliament opposing his requests, and his increasing belief in the absolute power of the monarch, James dissolved parliament and ruled without them from 1614 to 1621.

In his final few years, arthritis, gout and kidney stones took their toll on his health and James' power dwindled.

He died in 1625, a shadow of his former self, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

So next month, his son Charles I, a man not born to be king but who would take his father's belief in absolute monarchy a bit too far.

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 15 January 2021

Grow Your Own - 40 hours

Hello all!

After rekindling my love for Walter, and those gorgeous and colourful vegetables, I couldn't help but carry on working on him for the last few days of 2020 and then into January to take me up to the next 10 hour mark.

Last time I added the juicy carrots and some of the radish tops:

This time I finished the radish tops, added the cabbage and then had a few minutes left to start on the radishes themselves:

I'm afraid Walter has got to go away for a couple of months now so that I can concentrate on finishing off a few WIPs which don't require too much work. But he should appear again after Easter (ish).

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 10 January 2021

Link-up For Fully Finished Gallery SAL - January 2021

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.

And this year there is a new logo! I thought I'd go Ye Olde Worlde, with a scroll of parchment written (on purpose) in Blackadder font. It's available on my sidebar if you want to grab it.

The link-up for this SAL opens on the 10th of each month and stays open for 10 days so you can join in whenever you're ready.

But before delving into this month's FFOs, let's take a look back at 2020.

In 2020, 394 FFOs were submitted by 18 different bloggers - fairly comparable to the 389 FFOs by 23 participants in 2019. That's amazing! Thank you all so much, not only for joining in, but in taking the time to create wonderful fully-finished objects from your beautiful stitching.

For those who like statistics, here's how many participated and how many entries were received each month:

Apart from June, there's a fairly good correlation between the two, with obvious enthusiasm at the beginning and end of the year waning a little in the middle.

This FFG SAL isn't competitive, but I do have to do a few shout-outs to:

* Jo, Leonore, Mary H and Suzanne who linked up every month.
* Jo who submitted the most FFOs during the year with 55, closely followed by Suzanne with 51.
* Katie who submitted the most entries in one month with 19 in January.

But well done all of you; even one FFO is one less in those Boxes/Drawers/Cupboards Of Shame!

So let's see what 2021 brings - any guesses as to how many FFOs could be achieved this year? There's probably not as much of a backlog as in previous years, so I'm expecting numbers to be a little lower.

Having said that, I had an FFOing binge during Twixmas so am starting the year off with 17!

First up is Daisy Hugs, a start from 2015 finished in December 2020. It's FFOd to match last month's Daisy Umbrella, on metallic card with some gems for a bit of bling and a ribbon bow to finish:

Next up, October's Smalls SAL piece, Witchy Spookie Hootie. He's been mounted in a frame made from black card covered with black glittered felt, with ribbon added for a hanging loop and ric-rac for an extra bit of colour:

Then we have November and December's Smalls SAL pieces, two Christmas Words Cards by Durene Jones. For these I used foam mounting board, covering the back piece with sparkly fabric and the front piece with the padded cross stitch. Silver and blue tinsel wool was added around the outside (to cover the join!) and as a hanging loop, and a little tassel added at the bottom:

And then the Gold Stars Christmas Tree started on Christmas Day and finished a few days later. The ornie was originally going to replicate the shape of the tree, but as I didn't want to lose the fabric it became a mini pillow, with gold and silver tinsel wool twisted together to create the edging, bow and hanger. Bling bling!

Finally, we have Durene Jones' Cute Animal Calendar. Although stitched on one piece of fabric for the 2017 Smalls SAL, I always intended to FFO each month separately. However, I didn't leave much space between them so had that nagging doubt about cutting the fabric. But on Boxing Day I took the plunge and turned this...

... into these...

... and then into these:

Each month's piece was stuck onto felt and then onto metallic linen-effect card. Ribbon was added as a hanging loop and onto which a button and a couple of raindrops were attached at the bottom.

I wanted to mix rather than match the purples, greens and blues and deliberately make each card different, but I just couldn't do it; apart from the backing card, my brain told me they all had to be identical! In some ways it's a shame, but it does mean that I can save other card-finishing ideas for another time.

So with 17 FFOs to start off the 2021 FFG SAL, it's now over to you.

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 January.

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And please don't forget to follow other links and see what fellow fully-finishers have been up to; an encouraging comment can go a long way.

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

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Gold Stars Christmas Tree - started and finished!

Hello everyone!

It's been a tradition for the last few years for me to start a new project on Christmas Day. These have generally been biggish projects which haven't seen the light of day again for quite some time, so this Christmas I decided to do a much smaller project which would hopefully take only a few days to finish. And it did, becoming my 45th and final finish of 2020, thanks to a few nights of insane insomnia and lots of stitching!

This type of project is not normally my sort of thing, but I chose it because I desperately wanted something Christmassy to go on the starry fabric!

Gold Stars Christmas Tree by NandiStitch (etsy)
Stitched on 16ct Fairy Dust Gold and Silver by
Stitch Count 78 wide by 102 high
Started - 25th December 2020
Finished - 28th December 2020
Total stitching time - 12 hours 50 minutes

Other than swapping out the colours, using amber instead of pink beads, changing the location of most of the beads, and stitching the base of the tree using blended threads rather than just the lighter colour, it's as charted! I was planning to add Etoile but forgot and am actually glad I did; together with the beads and patterned fabric it might have been a bit OTT.

I'm pleased to say it's already been FFOd so will make another appearance the FFG SAL very soon.

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 2 January 2021

People's Choice SAL - Designer Of The Year 2020

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 Designer Of The Year, as in the most projects I worked on by one designer during 2020.

Edit: I've just seen in Jo's post that this is supposed to be the designer I most enjoyed stitching in 2020. Instead of changing this post I've left it as it is, partly because I found it difficult to narrow the list down to five, let alone one, and partly because I've already written it. Oh well, enjoy this post anyway!

I think we all have designers we are drawn towards, or would avoid, because of both their style and type of stitches used. But unlike 20 years ago when choices were limited to a few companies which produced kits and booklets there are nowadays hundreds to choose from, thanks to availability of internet shopping and (my favourite) etsy.

I don't think I've ever bought or stitched a project simply because it's by 'xxx'; I buy and stitch them I because I like them. But subconsciously, I suppose the designer must influence what I buy.

In 2020 I started and/or worked on and/or finished projects by 21 different designers:

5 projects: Designer Stitches

4 projects: Ursula Michael (for Imaginating) and Valerie Pfeiffer (for Heritage Crafts)

3 projects: Fuzzy Fox Designs (etsy), Cute Patterns by Maria (etsy), Margaret Sherry, Mouseloft and Soda Stitch

2 projects: Bothy Threads, Durene Jones (etsy), Lucie Heaton (etsy), Pinoy Stitch (etsy), Susan Ryder (for Heritage Crafts) and Whispered By The Wind

1 project: Artecy, JBW Designs (24 advent pieces but one 'project'), Nandi Stitch (etsy), Satsuma Street (etsy), Sue Hillis Designs, Toni Goffe (for Heritage Crafts) and ... me!

So my Designer Of The Year is Designer Stitches. This is a bit misleading because the five pieces weren't exactly different designs, but a set of 5 Winnie The Pooh charts:

Here's how far I got with starting them during the Spring Into Summer New Start Binge:

Given the blocks of colours, none of these should take too long to finish... whenever that may be!

Designer Stitches seem to have focused almost exclusively on Winnie The Pooh, and very well they charted them too! I have a number of their booklets and a couple of kits in my stash, bought years ago in anticipation that my children may like the characters, but they never did, so nothing got stitched, not even their initials.

Actually, I tell a lie; when my eldest was just a few months old I stitched two snowflake designs; Eeyore's Snowflake and Piglet's Snowflake. I can't find either of them and don't have any photos, but I know they are around somewhere. This is what they should look like (ish):

I've also got one other Designer Stitches item which isn't Winnie The Pooh; it's this gorgeous Dolphins kit gifted to me way back in 2007. Like so many other things, one day!

I believe Designer Stitches have now stopped trading but, in the UK at least, their kits and booklets frequently appear on ebay. So if you like Winnie The Pooh you know which company to look out for. 

Next month's theme is Birds. Oh goody!

Take care,
Rachel x