Sunday 30 January 2022

The Loneliness Of Autumn - 250 hours

Hello everyone!

Would you believe it's two years since Leonore and I both started working on The Loneliness of Autumn by Leonid Afremov? What started out as a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of a SAL, following Serendipitous Jo's Autumn-themed People's Choice SAL, is now almost half complete. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun!!

Here are the side-by-side comparison of my and Leonore's progress after two years. My chart is by Artecy, Leonore's by Love Thy Thread. Even though we are have completed roughly the same percentage wise, the difference between the two designs is quite noticeable. I've been very fortunate to have had lots of bright colours in comparison to Leonore, but I'm sure hers will start to brighten up soon:

Back to this year, and the first month brought me very close to the end of the current colour, but not quite. All that I have left are a few scattered stitches under the bench, but 10 hours is 10 hours so there I stopped!

Here are the 240 and 250 hour comparisons. The 606 just stitched was added in quite chunky blocks, and mostly around the red already there, so the difference is visible, especially on the middle right:

I reckon I've got about 15 minutes of 606 left (plus threading off some tails as I don't always do them as I go) before moving on to colour number 12, 919 red-copper, another lovely autumnal colour to add to the design.

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 28 January 2022

Smalls SAL - January 2022

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.

To start off the year I have a cute wintery design. May I introduce Snowflake the Cactus. I'm not a fan of cacti, or any plants in fact, but this one, with his ear muffs, scarf and bobble hat, was just so cute I couldn't resist!

Snowflake The Cactus by FuzzyFoxDesigns (etsy)
Stitch count 40 wide by 46 high
Stitched on 16ct Horizon over-dyed aida 2 over 2
Started - 1st January 2022
Finished - 2nd January 2022
Total stitching time - 5 hours 35 minutes

I made a couple of little changes, using one strand of white and one strand of white Etoile for the snow on the ground and two strands of white Etoile for the backstitching and snowflakes. I think Snowflake looks cold but cosy.

I have a second and third small this month too. These were unplanned new starts, which sort of means I've broken my 'no unplanned new starts this year' rule but, in my defence, they were small, were quick to finish, and are for a very good cause as they are for Clare's Christmas Tree for her local church. 

For the last couple of years Clare stitched, and received, many flowers. This year the theme of her tree is letters. Read about her ideas towards the end of this post. Anyway, I said I'd submit some letters and these are my first two - C for Clare or Christmas or Church, and H for her surname. I hope she likes them!

Letters C and H from Lizzie Kate's A-B-Crazy
Stitch count 33 wide by 33 high
Stitched on 16ct Margarita over-dyed aida 2 over 2
Stitched with ThreadworX 1046 Lemon Grass
Started - (C) 16th January 2022 (H) 18th January 2022
Finished - (C) 17th January 2022 (H) 19th January 2022
Total stitching time - 3 hours 25 minutes each

And finally I have my monarch of the month, George I:

For next month's Smalls SAL, a character who's just too cute to breathe fire!

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 24 January 2022

Grow Your Own - 50 hours

Hello all!

Walter's back!!! Or to give him his proper name, Grow Your Own by Hannah Dale for Bothy Threads.

Last year I promised myself I would finish this project but didn't even put in one stitch. This year, it's another promise and one which I fully intend to keep. If nothing else, I owe it to the person who gifted me the voucher to purchase him.

So here's how I left Walter on 31st December 2020:

And after another 10 hours of love during which I finished the radishes, added the potatoes and made good progress on the yummy-looking tomatoes:

I'm hoping to stay with him, so you may see another update before my focus turns to the Winter Olympics which start in less than two weeks on 4th February.

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 20 January 2022

A Monarch A Month - George I

Hi all!

It's now time for monarch number 32, George I. Here he is, presumably with the metaphorical keys to the English throne as he's saying goodbye to Hanover:

George I from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Started - 2nd January 2021
Finished - 4th January 2021
Total stitching time - 5 hours 35 minutes

Preceded by Anne (second cousin)
Succeeded by George II (son)
Lived - 1660-1727
Reigned - 1714-1727
Married - Sophia Dorothea of Celle 1682-1694 (divorced)
Children - 2 legitimate, 3 illegitimate

George, being Anne's closest Protestant heir as set out in the 1701 Act Of Settlement, became King following Anne's death in 1714.

He was the first monarch of the House Of Hanover.

From the outset George was not a particularly popular monarch, preferring to stay out of the spotlight and doing little during his reign to improve his image. For example:

 - he surrounded himself with Germans and German customs.

 - he appeared disinterested in learning English (although there is evidence he later wrote and spoke fairly good English).

 - he made it clear he favoured his beloved Hanover more than England (visiting five times during his reign).

 - he was disliked for the treatment of his wife (after their divorce he had had her 'imprisoned' for an extra-marital affair).

George also had a strained relationship with his son, who not only spoke out against his father's policies but who made a concerted effort to learn English, adopt English customs and popularise himself with the people.

In politics, George distrusted the Tories and favoured the Whigs.

He preferred private meetings with his Ministers rather than attending Cabinet meetings, this inadvertently allowing Parliament more freedom and paving the way for Robert Walpole to become Britain's first 'Prime Minister' in 1722.

Yet, despite his unpopularity, two ill-prepared and failed attempts by the Catholic 'Pretender' James Stuart to claim the throne in 1715 and 1719, and his implicated involvement in the South Seas shares crisis (when lots of rich people lost lots of money) George survived his reign.

He died from a stroke in Hanover in 1727 and is buried in Herrenhausen Gardens.

So next month, his popular son, George II.

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 15 January 2022

Mouse Lighting Candle - finished!

Greetings one and all!

I have a finish! The first of hopefully many this year.

Mouse Lighting Candle was start number seven during the Tokyo Olympics and one of the projects on my list of 'vaguely planned finishes for 2022'.

At the beginning of January I thought I'd put in a couple of hours to get the ball rolling, but a couple of hours turned into a few more and before I knew it I'd completed the candle, then the mouse, and had only the backstitching left... and I couldn't leave it there, could I? So within a few days he'd gone from this... this

Mouse Lighting Candle (my title) from Merry Mice by CutePatternsByMaria (etsy)
Stitched on 16ct Glacier over-dyed aida
Stitch count 39 wide by 70 high
Started - 31st July 2021
Finished - 9th January 2022
Total stitching time - 15 hours 25 minutes

I absolutely adore him!

Maria designed Hogwarts In A Bottle (if you can remember that) so I knew what to expect from her backstitching, i.e. the more complicated the better! Some is stitched in one strand, some in two, and nearly all of it breaks the aida, meaning longstitching with couching is often a better option. I knew there was a reason I'd written (but ignored) 'evenweave' in big letters on the chart! It was a bit of a nightmare, but the result is well worth it.

I've started three more of these Merry Mice, all on the same fabric, so know I've got lots more backstitching 'fun' to look forward to!

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 10 January 2022

Link-up For Fully Finished Gallery SAL - January 2022

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 here's the new logo for 2022 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 2021.

In 2021, 303 FFOs were submitted by 18 different bloggers - lower than the 389 and 394 FFOs submitted in the previous two years, but that's not surprising given fewer participants and the fact those Boxes/Drawers/Cupboards Of Shame must be a little emptier by now! Thank you all so much for continuing to contribute. There's been over 1000 FFOs in the last three years, and that's quite astonishing, especially when my initial hope was for 100 per year!

For those who like statistics, here's how many participated and how many entries were received each month during 2021:

There's an obvious peak at the beginning of the year, after which it's relatively steady. January definitely stands out again; in fact 20% of the total for the year were submitted in January alone (and, personally, 50% of my own 34 FFOs!)

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

* Leonore and Suzanne who linked up with FFOs every month.
* Suzanne who submitted the most FFOs during the year with 56.
* Sarah who submitted the most entries in one month with 14 in January.
* and Jo, who although had no FFO in December, did link up every month, and with a very useful December round-up of her FFOing achievements for the year.

And to everyone who participated -a big THANK YOU!

Now let's see what 2022 brings, starting with my contribution for January.

I'm going to start off this year with one of my top ten finishes, Parrot On Parade by Bothy Threads which was finished, believe it or not, back in April 2019! Mr Scruffy was easy to frame as I knew straight away I wanted just a simple red frame to match his feathers. And had just what I wanted in 13mm red stain. Less is more again:

Second is a little ornie. This was last September's Smalls SAL piece, Green Patchwork Hootie, and has been finished in my usual style with coordinating fabric and barley twist cord:

Just two for me this month, now it's 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 support fellow fully-finish-offers!

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

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday 2 January 2022

People's Choice SAL - Designer Of 2022

Hello all!

It's the first Saturday of the month (well, Sunday because I posted my 2022 plans yesterday and don't like doing two posts in one day) 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 2022, i.e. the designer I am looking forward to stitching the most.

Oooh, this should be a difficult one as there are so many to choose from! But one stands out above all others, and that is Hannah Dale, aka Wrendale Designs, for Bothy Threads.

So far I've only finished one of her designs, Parrot On Parade, and this year am desperate to finish Grow Your Own, or Walter as I've called him. My spreadsheet tells me he needs about another 50 hours of work to stitch all those yummy vegetables, and I know I'm going to enjoy every single one of them!

Grow Your Own

I have quite a few Hannah Dale things in the house, most of which have been gifts, as well as a few of her cross stitch kits. Luckily, not all of her characters appeal to me, but that still leaves an awful lot which do!

In future years I am hoping to work on at least one, if not all, of the following designs as I've decided I have to have a Hannah Dale somewhere among my WIPs. But which one to choose first?!

Crackers About Cheese

He's A Fun-Gi

Spice And Everything Mice

Hmmm... bit of a mouse theme going on there!!!

I wondered whether I would get bored stitching nothing but Hannah Dale designs for a whole year and I honestly don't think I would. And there's probably not many designers I, or anyone, could say that about!

But that's not all - I'd like to be really cheeky here and share a completely new-to-me designer I 'happened' to come across on etsy. She's called SugarStitchesDesign and mainly concentrates on months, Christmas and Halloween. I'm not really interested in the first two, but her Halloween 'BOOville' designs (and the way they're FFOd) really appeal to me. There are currently 12 in the series and, at the moment, they're only on my wishlist, but who knows when that will change! Here are my favourite four:

I have a feeling one or two fellow bloggers might like these, so I make no apologies for any enabling!!

And that's where I'll end. Next month's theme is Snow; probably perfect timing for the UK!

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 1 January 2022

2022 Stitching Plans

Good morning everybody, and Happy New Year!!

After a couple a relatively up and down (although still very productive) years, I'm hoping that 2022 will be rather more smooth-sailing. But whether it is or isn't, here are my stitching plans for 2022.


Going chronologically through the year, then...

1) CONTINUE STITCHING Kings and Queens at one monarch each month. I missed 6 months last year but am now back into the swing of it. There are 11 monarchs left to stitch and then in the 12th month I shall add the names of the heirs in the space on the bottom right. One more monarch has been completed since this photo:

 The Loneliness Of Autumn at 10 hours per month, colour by colour
. This should take me from about 45% to about 67% complete with the addition of about 10-12 colours. Here is how it stands at the end of 2021. Colours to come in 2022 include yellows, oranges, light browns and (finally) a nice brightish blues:

3) SMALLS SAL - stitch one small project each month for Mary's link-up. I like the fact this SAL gives me a new start and quick finish every month and have already chosen charts for eight of the twelve months; the jury is still out on the other four.

4) WINTER OLYMPICS (4th to 20th February) - NO NEW STARTS but hope to complete the winter-themed Let's Be Frozen. There are about 24 hours of stitching left to fit in 
over the course of the 17 days:

5) WINTER PARALYMPICS (4th to 13th March) - NO NEW STARTS but aim to finish the 10 dragons which I started during the Tokyo Paralympics. I have been quietly working on them so that there is only about an hour left to stitch on each one. No progress pictures, but this is how they looked after their initial one day of stitching:

NB the Winter Paralympics overlaps with:

6) MISCHIEVOUS MARCH - start four projects over the four weekends of March and finish them all soon after. I keep changing my mind about which four I want to start but I have at least narrowed it down to two new-to-me designers! There will be a link-up if you would like to join me.

7) CHRISTMAS IN JULY - NO NEW STARTS but continue with Lizzie Kate's Merry Christmas By The Letter which I started for Christmas In July last year and continued with the week after Christmas. Except for the buttons, I've now completed 8/16 blocks (slightly altering the heap of snow between the two words). My aim for July is another four sections:

8) DARK OCTOBER - NO NEW STARTS but hope to finish Haunted Library by Mill Hill. There's about 30 hours to go on this, so completing it during Dark October itself might be a bit of a squeeze:

9) NAUGHTY NOVEMBER - start four projects over the four weekends of November and finish them all before the end of the year. This is Moonset from Whispered By The Wind, the same company who designed Moonrise which I completed for Naughty November last year.  There will be a link-up if you would like to join me.

10) CHRISTMAS DAY - NO NEW STARTS but keep working on Lizzie Kate's Merry Christmas By The Letter. Whether it becomes a finish or not will partially depend on how much progress I make in July.

And then there are the:

11) PEOPLE'S CHOICE SAL - first Saturday of the month hosted by Jo of Serendipitous Stitching where we post around a theme for the month.

12) FULLY FINISHED GALLERY SAL - 10th of the month hosted by me(!) with the theme of finish-finishing stitched pieces rather than leaving them languishing in boxes, cupboards or drawers.

And then, if I've got time(!!!):

FINISH AS MANY OTHER WIPs AS POSSIBLE! This is a non-committal number so could be anything from 1 to 30 depending on how long I've got and which ones I choose. In an ideal world, my ultimate goal is to end 2022 with 22 fewer WIPs than I started with, so as 11 finishes are planned for the Olympics, that would ideally mean 11 more.

And finally...

As a reward, for every 10 WIPs I finish (as in those started in 2021 and prior) I will allow myself one new start. Yes, I want to significantly reduce my WIP pile, but all WIPs and no new starts (Smalls SAL, Mischievous March and Naughty November aside) could become demotivating. The new start could be anything, depending on my mood at the time.

Of course, all these plans assume life is steady and I don't get distracted or bitten by any additional tempting SALs. It's certainly not my intention, but one never knows what's just around the corner!

And that's it! Congratulations if you got this far without skipping anything!

I now look forward to reading your 2022 plans too.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and stitchy 2022,
Rachel x