Tuesday 30 January 2024

Calling all FFOers...

Hi all,

I have recently been having a conversation with a blogger who is having difficulty deciding how to fully finish off some of their finished cross stitches. I was going to suggest they send me photos of the finished pieces, or do a post asking for help, but then I had an idea...

The February edition of the FFG SAL will be its 5th(!) birthday so why not celebrate by making the post a bit more special?

THIS WILL NOT BE COMPULSORY but what I'm proposing is that, after showing your FFO(s), you then show a selection of your Box Of Shame pieces. These could be pieces you know exactly how you're going to finish, or pieces you really don't know what to do with, or a combination. You could show one, or show them all; the decision is entirely yours.

My Box Of Shame is overflowing, but I'm more than happy to start the ball rolling in the link-up post. It may be called a Box Of Shame, but I am not ashamed of the actual contents! I have plans as to how most will be FFOd, but there are those where I'm looking for inspiration so maybe we can help each other?

What do you think? Are you up for it?

The FFG SAL link-up will be open between 10th and 20th February so there's plenty of time to prepare. See you there?

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday 26 January 2024

Smalls SAL link-up - January 2024

Good morning one and all,

And welcome to the new home of the Smalls SAL! Once again, thank you Mary for hosting for the last five years, and thank you for choosing me to take over; I'm really excited to be hosting!

I've kept the new logo similar. Judging by the size of the needle, that hoop must be about 0.75" making the design a very small Small indeed!

The Smalls SAL will continue as usual, with the link-up opening on the last Friday of the month and staying open for (yes, you guessed it!) ten days.

Entries can be anything Small you have cross stitched during the month, be it an individual piece, part of a set, a portion of a big design, or even an unfinished Small if you haven't been able to complete it. All Smalls, or part(s) thereof, are welcome!

So let's start the ball rolling with my red-themed Smalls this month.

This is the first of the Nordic Christmas Sampler charts I will be stitching over the next two years or so. There are only four colours in these designs - brown, ecru, grey and red - but that didn't stop me making changes! The red 349 and ecru are as charted, but the brownish-grey 648 has been subbed with a nice silvery-grey 2, and the 869 brown used for the outer and inner borders has been, and will continue to be, subbed with one the other colours, in this instance red:

Nordic Christmas Sampler Day 16 - snowflake by ZindagiDesigns (etsy)
Stitched on 16ct White with iridescent pearl/opal flecks
Started - 1st January 2024
Finished - 7th January 2024
Total stitching time - 5 hours 45 minutes

I knew the borders would be quite time-consuming (3 hours) but also really like them. They will be good for those evening when mindless stitching is required!

Then I have a simple Santa for Clare's Christmas Tree. You will have seen a similar Santa last year but I'm not going to show all of this one here as it's a gift and I would like Clare to have that honour:

Santa, based on Red and White Advent Calendar day 13 by Durene Jones
Stitched on 16ct White with iridescent pearl/opal flecks using 666 and Etoile 666
Started - 12th January 2024
Finished - 13th January 2024
Total stitching time - 2 hours 50 minutes

And, although his details as 'A Monarch A Month' won't be posted for a while yet, the next monarch has finally been stitched (about time too!)

William IV from Kings and Queens by Bothy Threads
Stitched on 32ct Vintage Grey murano
Started - 9th January 2024
Finished - 12th January 2024
Total stitching time - 5 hours 15 minutes

Now it's your turn.

You know the format - please link up using the URL of your Smalls SAL post, with a title (usually your name) and a thumbnail. The link will stay open for 10 days.

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I look forward to seeing your Small accomplishments this month.

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 22 January 2024

A-Z of WIPs Challenge 2024 - A and B

Good afternoon!

The A-Z of WIPs Challenge 2024 is a new little SAL being attempted by Serendipitous Jo and myself to stitch our way through our alphabet of WIPs at two/three per month, starting with A and B in January and finishing with Y and Z in December. It's a way of ensuring some of our WIPs receive at least a couple of hours attention this year!

Jo will be using the three days of IHSW for this challenge whereas I'll stitch earlier in the month, for two days on each, but post with Jo after IHSW. Jo's post is here.

So here are my A and B for January:

A is for... Let's Breeze Into Autumn, a 'Words' design by Ursula Michael, stitched on Shades of Autumn aida
Started November 2020 - last worked on April 2023.
On these Words charts, I like to stitch the easy bits first, so that's what I mostly concentrated on over the two days. The main words will probably be stitched last.

Stitching time to date - 11 hours 20 minutes

B is for... Basket Case, a Little Black Cat design by Toni Goffe for Heritage Crafts.
Started May 2020 - last worked on April 2023.
I genuinely can't wait to get to the wicker basket, but first there are hours of blue background to stitch so, once I'd stitched the picture frame, that's what I did. Next time I pick this up, I might fill in the picture.

Stitching time to date - 7 hours 55 minutes

I love how much progress can be made in a few hours, and how that progress is really noticeable. I am not planning on working on either again this year, so back into the WIP box they go.

Next month C and D.

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 15 January 2024

The Loneliness Of Autumn - 280 hours

Hello everyone!

The Loneliness Of Autumn is back... again!!

I don't know how Leonore puts up with me being so remiss at keeping up with this 'SAL', and I hate that I am 21 months behind, but... fingers crossed this time I will be back for good.

So this 10 hour stint consisted of:

 - 7h 40m to finish off colour number 13, 838 very dark coffee brown, which can best be seen in the reflections of the bench and the tree on the right.

 - 2h 20m of colour number 14, 820 very dark royal blue, which has only been stitched in the top quarter but some small differences can be seen.

Here are the 270 and 280 hour comparisons:

Let's hope I can keep this momentum going, and perhaps even post more than once per month. With Leonore tentatively aiming to finish her version this year, I've added incentive to work much harder!

Take care,
Rachel x

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Link-up For Fully Finished Gallery SAL - January 2024

Hello all!

It's the 10th of the month and therefore time for the first Fully Finished Gallery SAL of 2024, the place to show your cross stitched 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.

Before delving into this month's FFOs, let's take a look back at 2023.

In 2023, 255 cross stitched FFOs were submitted by 16 different bloggers. Not only were there the regular entrants, but also some new ones, and the return of a couple who had been inactive with their FFOing for a few months. Thank you all for your continued contributions. You are all welcome, no matter the frequency!

For those who like statistics, here's how many participated and how many entries were received each month during 2023:

That brings the running total of cross-stitched FFOs in the last five years to 1,605, which is absolutely A-MA-ZING!

Every single FFOer is special, so shout-outs go to everyone who participated, but especially to

* Suzanne, Leonore and Astrid who had FFOs every month.
* Suzanne who submitted the most FFOs at 39 (closely followed by Astrid, Clare and Jo, who all submitted 30 or more each).

And to everyone else who participated - Gwen, Jocondine, Cathy, Pamela, Toki, Mary, Ann, DJ and Katie - another BIG THANK YOU!

On top of all those cross-stitched FFOs, there were also 37 entries which did not involve cross stitching and were therefore not counted in the above. They belonged to Jocondine, Pamela, Toki, Astrid, Jo and Clare. Thank you again. All FFOs are important!

Now on to 2024...

The only FFO I have this month is last month's Smalls SAL QR Code, finished off as a simple felt-backed hanging ornie. In case you haven't zapped it with an app, it says Best Wishes for the New Year.

I am very close to completing four more, but procrastinating with the finishing touches. Another hour should do it so they'll definitely be ready next month.

Now it's your turn.

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.

Hope to see you again next month!

Take care,
Rachel x

Saturday 6 January 2024

People's Choice SAL - Designer Of 2024

Hello everyone!

It's the first Saturday of the month, and of another New Year, so time for, what is (at least for the time being) the final People's Choice SAL.

Jo, this has been a wonderful SAL and I have loved going through my finishes, WIPs and stash each month looking for pieces to match the theme. Thank you for the unique idea, thank you for hosting for five years, and thanks (I think!) to all participants for the enabling!

So we end with the theme of my chosen Designer Of 2024.

If the Designer Of 2024 correlates with the amount of pieces I will be stitching by any one designer over the course of the year, then the winner will be ZindagiDesigns on etsy, as they will provide the 12 pieces I am hoping to stitch for the Smalls SAL.

The story behind this purchase is that I fell in love with some Scandi/Nordic Christmas fabric and needed designs to go on them. A search through etsy revealed ZindagiDesigns as the closest to my requirements.

I love how three variations of the same theme are offered. I chose the square ones, although won't be stitching the numbers so some will require a bit of jiggling around.

Other than ZindagiDesigns, my planned WIPs and new starts for 2024 cover no less than 25 different designers, both companies and individuals, five of which will be new to me. I think I can safely say that I am not exactly a mega-fan of any particular company or person, at least not this year!

Perhaps, in another year, concentrating on a particular designer or two might be a good way of making progress on or whipping WIPs. Now there's food for thought...!

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday 1 January 2024

Annual Stitching Plans 2024

Good morning everybody, and Happy New Year!!


It's that time of year when I make a load of ridiculous stitching plans for the year ahead, knowing that I'm going to fail most of them! But, you know what... failure doesn't bother me in the slightest, so since I really enjoy planning my 'ideal' year, what's the harm?

So, are you ready to laugh with me at what my perfect year of stitching would consist of?!


Per the chart, there are only eight monarchs left to stitch (but 11 to blog) and the title to add. After that, I would like to to add the heirs, restitch a few of the names, and maybe add a border around the whole design. This could become a finish in 2024.

I am a woeful 21 months behind on SALing this with Leonore. Given that I'm very unlikely to catch up, my focus will just be on stitching for 10 hours each month (more if possible). If successful, it could move from being 50% to 75% complete with the addition of another 16 colours.

These will probably be 12 from this Nordic Advent Calendar by Zindagi Designs on etsy. I might add some Etoile, and won't be stitching the numbers, but they will more or less look like these:

Jo and I have enough WIPs each to enable us to work through 26 of them alphabetically at two/three per month, starting with A and B in January and ending with Y and Z in December. Jo will use IHSW for this; I will stitch for two days on each earlier in the month but post at roughly the same time.


A mini new start binge, starting one small-ish project each weekend of the month, and aiming to finish them during the month, or soon after. Projects as yet undecided.

Focus on Christmas stitching. Project(s) as yet undecided.

26th July-11th August and 28th August-8th September (29 days).
Start one section of this Harry Potter themed Advent Calendar, by 1000sPatterns on etsy, each day (2 sections on the days of the opening ceremonies). I may stitch them individually rather than as one design but that decision doesn't have to be made just yet.

Focus on Halloween stitching. This will probably be Haunted Library by Mill Hill. I've finished all the stitching so just need to add the beads:

Another potential mini new start binge. Projects as yet undecided.

Focus on Christmas stitching. Project(s) as yet undecided.


1) PEOPLE'S CHOICE SAL - first Saturday of the month
Hosted by Jo of Serendipitous Stitching where we post around a theme for the month.
EDIT - this will, sadly, be taking a break after January. I shall definitely miss it, but totally understand.

2) 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. With an embarrassingly high 60 pieces in my Box Of Shame I have plenty to be getting on with!


2024 is the Chinese Year Of The Dragon and I just have to stitch a dragon to accompany it. I have a couple of Dragon WIPs, but have instead chosen to start this (female) Rainbow Dragon bought from PatternNadGavr on etsy but now also available in other stores. With a prevailing wind, this could be completed in 2024.

This is a big project (470x250) but since it's only(!) 46,092 stitches of one colour I can cope. My hope is to complete about 60 of the estimated 300+ hours. It's also a venture into two new areas which, even after 30 years of stitching, I have never attempted - 1 over 1 and 25 count! It's not going to be black on white like the picture, but mahogany-brown on Vintage Coffee for more of a Ye Olde Worlde feel. The designer is StitchingJulesDesign on etsy.

Well, after finding the perfect fabric, how could I not start this one!??? I know this will be a very long project but am not bothered by that. My aim is to finish it before retirement age, which is only (mumble mumble) years away! Again, 60 hours is the mark I would like to reach.

And that's all!!!

So from SALs and WIPs, to small designs and big new starts, and with some challenges thrown in for good measure, I have lots of variety to look forward to. And if all goes well (hahaha!) I should be able to fit everything in. If life goes pear-shaped again, well... I'll just do what I can.

On the other hand, if other challenges or SALs (or temptations!) come along, or I decide to focus on WIPs instead, then all of the above could go out of the window! Nothing is set in stone.

I wonder what your plans are for the year? I'm looking forward to reading them all!

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and stitchy 2024,
Rachel x