Monday 28 February 2022

The Loneliness Of Autumn - 260 hours

Hello everyone!

The first thing I did during this 10 hours was finish off the last few stitches of 606 and tie off the tails. Here are the comparison after the 10th and 11th colours. This is now 48.21% complete after 250 hours 50 minutes and 32,110 stitches

I then used the remaining 9 hours and 10 minutes to make a good start on colour number 12, 919 red-copper, finishing pages 1-13/16:

To be fair, you can't see a lot of difference in the top half as the stitches are not in dense blocks. In the the bottom half the most noticeable difference at the moment is behind the bench.

During the next ten hours I will finish 919 and move onto the next colour, 898, very dark coffee-brown.

Leonore is taking a small break from her version which I totally understand, especially as she hasn't missed a month so far. Sometimes all these monthly goals can be a bit overwhelming. Enjoy the break Leonore!

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 25 February 2022

Smalls SAL - February 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.

This month I decided to stitch another Snuffles the Dragon. In 2020 I stitched pink and aqua versions, and mentioned how I would like a shelf full of Snuffles in different colours. I didn't stitch any in 2021, but he's back now, in blue:

Snuffles In Blue by FuzzyFoxDesigns (etsy)
Stitch count 31 wide by 32 high
Stitched on 16ct Glacier over-dyed aida 2 over 2
Started - 19th February 2022
Finished - 22nd February 2022
Total stitching time - 4 hours 45 minutes

I think the blue rather suits him, don't you?

And then there is my usual monarch of the month, this time George II. And no, you haven't missed his post as I haven't put it up yet! I sort of forgot about it this month but hopefully it'll be posted in the next couple of days. I also need to alter the backstitching on his legs - I'm sure his calves weren't that shape!!!

Next month, another dragon, but it's not another Snuffles.

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 21 February 2022

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 - Days 13-17 / Let's Be Frozen - finished!

Hello again!

Long post alert!

So here we are at the end of the Winter Olympics. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the sporting action, even though I have no real interest in any of them. But somehow the Olympics is different and I've been drawn in to snowboarding, skiing, skating and sliding events for a couple of weeks.

On the stitching front, here was my starting point for the final five days, with just the snowflake left:

Day 13 - 16th February

Speed skating and skiing were once again on the menu today. Gotta love the giant slalom and the 40-50mph speed these guys create. That's quite insane when you think they're weaving around on snow at ridiculous angles. No wonder crashes look spectacular!

Best moment - the women's ski cross semi-finals and final. Like the snowboarding equivalent, this was just an adrenaline rush from beginning to end with positions regularly changing and the danger of collision over every bump and at every turn. You usualy don't know who the winner will be until they actually cross the finish line. Loved it!

Day 14 - 17th February

My main viewing today was the evening summary programme and a few selected catch-up sections, so figure skating, skiing cross and slalom were my must watch events. Kudos to skier Mikaela Schiffrin who has had an absolutely c**p games but held her head high and admitted things just weren't in her favour - no self pity, just positivity to move on to another day.

Best moment - Kaori Sakamoto winning the bronze medal in the women's figure skating. In my layman's opinion, the gold and silver medals were won by the skaters ramping up their points by cramming in as many difficult jumps and other technical elements as they could and joining them together with a 'bit of skating'. In contrast, Sakamoto may not have had such difficult technical elements but she seamlessly joined them with the skating elements, and she actually interpreted the music rather than just skating to it. Her overall performance was more fluid, and her jumps glided through the air rather than being almost static. She was simply sublime to watch.

Day 15 - 18th February

Very little else watched than the round-up show at the end of the day but they still squeezed in pairs figure skating, bobsleigh, women's ski half pipe and, of course, lots and lots of curling because the Brits were still in it!!

Best moment - Sui Weijing and Han Chong winning the pairs figure skating. Not only did they do this in front of their home crowd, but they did it by only 0.63points! Out of all of the top competitors, I found their skating the most pleasing to watch.

Day 16 - 19th February

So much action on the penultimate day, including bobsleigh, curling, and mass starts in both skiing and speed skating.

Best moment - the speed skating mass start event. This has been described as 'Nascar on ice' and was certainly fun to watch! So many skaters skating within inches of each other at 60kph, and after 6000m of racing the medals were decided by fractions of a second. Brilliant, but also quite scary!

Day 17 - 20th February

And so to the final day of action which included more cross country skiing and the terrifying men's ice hockey final. I'm sure the amount of padding gets bigger every year!

Best moment - the women's curling final. The British women fully deserved their win, but it is the reaction of the Japanese 'losers' which will stay with me - they were obviously disappointed, but they smiled, hugged their opponents, offered heartfelt congratulations and genuinely seemed ecstatic with having won a silver medal. Compare this to when the British men lost their final the previous day - it was embarrassing to watch how they acted like bad losers, only fist-bumping their opponents and then scowling in disappointment. Obviously it hurts losing a final, but even in their post-match interview they were saying how it will take time to come to terms with the fact they 'only' had a silver, "We'll be proud, but right now it sucks."

And then there was the closing ceremony of course, always a sad part of the Olympics. Considering covid and the lack of spectators, Beijing has put on a fabulous games. It's hard to imagine how much different it might have been with full capacity crowds, but the fact there were at least some is positive.


So many outstanding moments to choose from, but the winner is easy!
All athletes train hard, most athletes want to win, few athletes (I assume) have time for fellow competitors, so my stand out moment goes to Iivo Niskanen from Finland who, after winning the 15km cross-country skiing in 38 minutes, waited at the finish line for a further 20 minutes watching everyone else cross the line before hugging the final, and 94th, finisher, Columbia's Carlos Quintana. Niskanen said at his press conference "All athletes must respect each other, everyone has done lots of work to be here." Genuinely humble athletes are rare.

And here's my stitching which I have been working on a every day during the 17 days of action. It stitched up a bit quicker each day than I thought it would, so was easily finished on schedule:

Let's Be Frozen by Ursula Michael
Stitched on 16ct Cloud Winter Sky over-dyed aida
Stitch count 112 high by 127 wide
Started - 28th November 2020
Finished - 20th February 2022
Total stitching time - 24 hours 40 minutes

I made a couple of changes, those being that the whole piece is stitched in Etoile, and that the medium blue (found on the base and around the outsides of the snow globe and snowflake) was replaced with white. The white looks a little grey, but then so does snow when the sky is completely overcast. And because the white doesn't show up much I like how the large snowflake, from a distance, looks as if it is floating.

This is what it would have looked like had I followed the chart. The snowflake is the most obvious difference:

Hmmm, maybe the original does look better... well, too late now!!!

This is the first of Ursula Michael's four seasonal snow globes I started for Naughty November 2020. No idea when I'll get around to the other three.

And that's it for the Winter Olympics... sort of!

Coming up in March, the Beijing Winter Paralympics 2022 and more blogging and stitching 'fun' with, hopefully, 10 finishes during the 10 days.

The Winter Paralympics overlaps with Mischievous March with a new start over each of the four weekends. I'll be doing a linky-widget thingy if anybody fancies joining me and Tiff for Mischievous March.

March is definitely going to be a busy busy busy month!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 - Days 9-12

Hi all!

If you're watching the Winter Olympics I hope you're continuing to enjoy them. I certainly am, but then I've always happily been an armchair athlete!

Here's my stitching starting point for day 9 and a small snippet of each Olympic day:

Day 9 - 12th February

Being a Saturday I got to watch a lot more of the Olympics today including ski jumping, speed skating, skeleton, cross country skiing and snowboard cross - a packed day indeed! I'm still wondering how on earth the speed skaters manage to stay upright when they are skating so fast and so close together!

Best moment - Australian Jaclyn Narracott winning silver in the women's skeleton. The Brits usually do quite well in this event but were almost at the bottom of the table this year so, in the usual British way, we claimed Narracott as 'one of our own' because she trains in England and is married to an Englishman! Good on Australia though, especially as it's not a country normally associated with winter sports.

Day 10 - 13th February

Another weekend day, so lots of watching the TV out of the corner of my eye! I caught speedskating, skiing relay and the men's super-G skiing slalom.

Best moment - Jamaican men's giant slalom skier Benjamin Alexander. At every Olympics there's an outsider who embraces the spirit of the competition without wanting a medal. Benjamin Alexander, the first ever Jamaican alpine skier, finished 46th out of 46 finishers, a full 70 seconds behind the winner. BUT he finished both his runs, unlike another 41 competitors. So by not aiming for a massively quick time and successfully completing both runs he, in effect, finished 46th out of 87! He's 38 and only started skiing in 2015; what an inspiration!

Day 11 - 14th February

Lots of Olympic action today as I have a stinking cold and spent my non-working hours curled up on  the sofa feeling sorry for myself! I found the ice dancing quite mesmerising, along with the monobob and ski jumping.

For us Brits, 14th February is Bolero Day, the day ice dancers Torvill and Dean received 9 perfect 6.0 scores for artistic impression for their Bolero routine in the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. Of course, the scoring system has changed since then, so that record will never be matched but almost 40 years down the line, Bolero is still considered one of ice dancing's most memorable routines.

Best moment - the women's monobob. A new event in the Winter Olympics, the monobob sees one rider in a bobsled. What I particularly like about this event is that all of the bobsleds are made by the same company, with each country allowed to make only minor adjustments (presumably to fit the size of their athlete). This is in contrast to the skeleton and luge, where hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars can be spent refining the equipment, something which disadvantages poorer countries. Knowing that each competitor is on a level playing field really places the emphasis on their talent rather than their equipment. I wonder if this will become the case in more sports in future years?

Day 12 - 15th February

Another day with my non-working hours spent on the sofa feeling sorry for myself, so another day of catching quite a lot of Olympic action including lots of skiing and skating.

Best moment - Germany claiming a clean sweep of medals in the two men bob. I'm not particularly patriotic when it comes to sport so enjoy watching all people and all countries. But knowing how good Germany are at the sliding sports, I was really egging on the three German two men bobsled teams. A clean sweep of medals by one country is always a memorable moment.

And here's my stitching finishing point at the end of day 12:

Just the snowflake left now, and one more Winter Olympic post which will hopefully include a finish.

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 12 February 2022

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 - Days 5-8

Hello all!

I hope you're all enjoying the Winter Olympics, and maybe doing some winter-themed stitching to accompany them?

Here's my starting point, and thoughts and progress, over days 5-8:

Day 5 - 8th February

I only really caught the round-up show tonight, although an awful lot was still packed into an hour including the usual curling and skiing.

Best moment - Eileen Gu winning the freestyle skiing women's big air. She was absolutely (forgive the pun) head and shoulders above the rest and, being Chinese, her win went down surprisingly well the spectators!

Day 6 - 9th February

Again, only the catch-up show but it included snowboard cross, skiing and speedskating.

Best moment - the men's double luge. As if sliding down ice at over 100+kph on a sled isn't insane enough, these guys lie one on top of the other. The faith of the bottom person in the top one must be unquestionable. But added to that, the winners, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt have now won this event three times in a row.

Day 7 - 10th February

More snowboarding was on the menu today, along with some skiing. I don't know about other countries, but our skiing commentators always SHOUT, so the downhill and slalom are best watched with the sound off! Such a shame, as I really would like to know what's going on without being SHOUTED at the whole time!

Best moment - the gold medal winning performance of figure skating's Nathan Chen. His performance was sublime to watch and in Beijing he really was in a class of his own.

Day 8 - 11th February

I caught a little bit more of the Olympics today, being strangely fascinated by the cross-country skiing and the halfpipe snowboarding. You have to admire the courage of these snowboarders to perform such complicated twists and turns so high above the snow.

Best moment - the men's snowboard halfpipe and the world record breaking height achieved by Kaishu Hirano during his run - he was 24'4" above the pipe. I couldn't find a video link, but see if you can. It's amazing!

And here's my stitching finishing point at the end of day 8. I've now stitched all of the words and added the edges of the snow globe. The base of the snow globe will be my focus over the next four days:

Back on 16th with more Winter Olympic fun!

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday 10 February 2022

Link-up for Fully Finished Gallery SAL - February 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.

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.

In January I spent far too much time stitching and not enough time FFOing, so have only one to show. This was January's Smalls SAL piece, cute little Snowflake the Cactus. It's FFOd as one of my usual ornies but as I'd added Etoile to the design I thought I'd add a bit of tinsel wool around the outside for  even more bling. The backing fabric is, very aptly, called Snow Flurry.

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 February.

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
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I'm looking forward to see what this month's entries are!

And please don't forget to follow other links and support fellow fully-finish-offers.

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

Take care,
Rachel x

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 - days 1-4

Hello all!

Well, the Winter Olympics are here, shrouded in political controversy and, once again for the Olympics, taking place under the cloud of Covid.

But Tiff and I are hoping to cheer things up a bit by stitching a winter-themed project over the course of the 17 days. Updates will be every few days.

I will be working on, and hoping to finish, Let's Be Frozen by Ursula Michael, started during Naughty November 2020. I've divided the remainder of the chart into 17 sections, with the aim of stitching one section each day. I don't know how accurate this will be but I will give it a go. Here's my starting position with 5 hours 40 minutes on the clock:

NB we're one day ahead of the official Olympic days, as we counted the opening ceremony as day one.

Day 1 - 4th February

The opening ceremony was proof that they don't need to be long to be memorable. Did you see the dandelion swaying in the breeze? Such a simple idea but so effective. And combining all of the country's name placards into one giant snowflake as a sense of unity was brilliant. I loved it all!

One thing very noticeable in the commentary as the athletes paraded in, was just how many Winter Olympians are returning for the third, fourth, and even fifth time. It seems that the longevity of competing is much greater in Winter than in Summer sports.

Fun Fact - 19 out of the competing 91 countries are represented by just one athlete, and most of those are competing in Alpine Skiing.

Day 2 - 5th February

Being a Saturday I got the chance to have the TV on in the background nearly all day. I caught some speed skating, curling, skiing, and luge - is luge the nuttiest sport ever or what?

Best moment - the celebrations at the end of the Women's Moguls. Most competitors congratulate fellow competitors with a fist bump, handshake or very obvious uncongratulatory hug, but it seemed all of the finalists bombarded the Australian winner, drowning her in a sea of enjoyment! It stands out as true sportmanship where the 'losers' really were genuinely happy for the winner.

Day 3 - 6th February

The TV wasn't on quite so much today, but I caught some speed skating, ski-jumping, ice dancing and slopestyle snowboarding. I thoroughly enjoyed the slopestyle (so much better than its skateboarding counterpart) but the camera angles just don't show how fast and how high these athletes go. It's gymnastic madness on snow and skis!

Best moment - the ice skating of the Russian Kamila Valieva. She is dream to watch - dainty, beautifully performed and almost perfect - and she's only 15 - 15! Too young to take part in the World Championships yet here she is seemingly taking the Olympics in her stride. What a star!

Day 4 - 7th February

Back to work today, but that didn't stop me catching up with a lot of action in the evening and well into the night! Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and big air were on my watching menu.

Best moment - the Men's Snowboarding Slopestlye. The tricks performed seemed to go on forever, with multiple twists and turns each time they left the snow. Unfortunately, the winner performed an illegal move which the judges did not pick up on and to which he did not own up, so his medal is a bit controversial. But, that aside, these guys were awesome!

And here's my progress on Let's Be Frozen after the first four days. So far I'm keeping on track with my schedule:

My next Olympic progress update will be on the 12th.

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 5 February 2022

People's Choice SAL - Snow

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 Snow, very apt if you are, like me (although I'm sure you would never have guessed!) a fan of the Winter Olympics!

Where I live in the UK we get very little snow so I feel quite emotional when it stays around for even just a couple of days. But, interestingly, I've stitched very little with snow; it appears that snow is, unintentionally, not high on my priority list.

But at least I have a couple to show:

Winter Owl was stitched in 2015. I love how he's trying to keep warm:

And Christmas Quacker, also from 2015, sees poor little Souffle the duck being caught up in a snowball:

In my stash are a couple of snowy-themed designs by Imaginating, Snowmen Gathering and Winter Silhouette. These are quite near the top of my to-stitch list, but keep getting nudged down by new purchases. The moral of the story... stop buying stash!!

And that's about all I could find! Quite disappointing really.

Next month's theme is Quilts, something I could do with right now as I'm trying to keep warm whilst watching the Winter Olympics!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Grow Your Own - 60 hours

Hello all!

January continued to be a fantastic month for stitching so I was indeed able to get in another 10 hours on Walter. This is how I left him a week ago:

And now with the tomatoes completed and the onion stitched:

I'm so close to a finish, but Walter has to go away for a while now as it's time for the Winter Olympics!

Following on from last year's Summer Olympics, Tiff and I decided we also wanted to do something for the Winter Olympics, but NOT involving new starts! So we're both pulling out Winter-themed projects to stitch for the duration of the Winter Olympics, and then returning to our dragons for the Winter Paralympics.

There's no link-up involved, but if you fancy joining in with some Winter stitching, please feel free. Let's look past the Covid situation, and controversy surrounding the Games, and cheer on the competitors by stitching some snow!

Instead of posting daily like we did in the summer we'll be rounding up a few days at a time, hopefully with some fun little facts along the way.

Take care,
Rachel x