Wednesday, 22 September 2021

After many years

Back in March 1994 I purchased a needlework magazine purely because it had in it the instructions for a blackwork  chessboard.   This has been maturing in my stash for all those years until last week I decided the time had come.   And now I am obsessed, not with the blackwork per se, but with the idea of a hand stitched chess board.   Hopefully my picture framer will be able to fulfill my mental image of the finished piece but meanwhile I plod on one square at a time.

And my new 'M' is framed and hanging on the wall.   I am really pleased with this one and it completes my collection I think.   There doesn't seem to be a need to continue this on and on.... even though I have two Great-Nieces both with the same initial.   Neither share my love of embroidery :-(

Once again it is raining but I am grateful as I planted out some lettuce plants.   A new variety for me, this one is called Drunken Woman.   I also planted a cherry tomato plant.  Ever so slowly my garden is filling up and the potatoes planted in a tub are showing sprouts so it will probably be new potatoes for Christmas.   Lovely.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Lockdown project completed

This map of New Zealand was a joy to stitch.  I started it as a lockdown project planning on doing one icon each day during the 1pm TV broadcast of the Prime Minister and Director General of Health giving their Covid update.   But I rapidly became addicted and although we are still in lockdown, albeit at a lower level I have completed the map.   Only one icon remains a complete mystery and as the designer did not provide a list I’m left puzzled.   The DBEM is doing her best to persuade me to have it framed and hang it on the wall but I don’t really have space and the pleasure was in the stitching so this will remain hidden in a drawer for the foreseeable future.

My next project is a floral M.  A month or so ago I purchased a small circular wooden frame and am determined to add another initial to the collection I have hanging in my bedroom wall.   Over the years I have stitched floral initials in many iterations for friends birthdays and other gifts so it is about time I have my own.   

Then I think I will decide on a Betsy Morgan project from my birthday book.  Naomi asked what threads I use instead of Gloriana as those are not readily available here in New Zealand.   Amateur though this sounds I look up in Google to see an image of the colour and then choose a substitute from my DMC collection.   Friends in the Embroiderers Guild are helpful with final advice on colours too (although some of them probably wonder why I don’t just order the Gloriana on line.   I have neither budget nor inclination to do that in present day circumstances).   On the whole this works reasonably well for me especially as the finished project is never destined for exhibition but only for personal pleasure.

Now we are in a lower level of lockdown I was able to get out to the store and purchase the zips to complete the two purses I have stitched.   We have rain predicted for the next few days and really high winds so I'm happy to stay inside and get these done - the one on the top left needs its lining finished.

But tonight a book is calling me...Patchwork by Claire Wilcox which I ordered from the library after seeing it on someone else's blog.   My library kindly kept it for me and I picked it up along with a few others yesterday.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Spring has Sprung

 We are only 15 days into our second lockdown and I’m already feeling confined.   Some of the jobs on the To Do list have been done and parts of the garden are looking much better..   I have been cooking up some new recipes - two of which proved to be successful and will remain in my repertoire but I am quite unsettled.

I am trying to use up a tin of “origin unknown” embroidery floss and the last oddments of my mono canvas but even that has come to a grinding halt as I do not have the zippers for the closure of the small purses these are to become.   One is done in simple Florentine Stitch using six threads of the floss on 18 count mono canvas (all from stash). Plans are underway for another in a different Florentine pattern but using the same random colours.   

Another was done on some 28 count "Dirty Linen" using threads from this same "origin unknown" stash.   I followed some of the stitches from the recent class I took and tried to have some sort of cohesion in the colour scheme.   

Once lockdown is over I will make these into small zipper close purses.

Currently it is only my sore shoulder preventing a concerted effort to complete these and move onto a more satisfying project.   I had a telephone consultation with both the doctor and the physio and both concurred that with a fracture of the greater tuberosity of the humerus, a tear in the rotator cuff and bursitis, I should not be using my right hand and arm any more than is absolutely necessary.   Wouldn't you all agree that stitching is necessary?   But today I have made some more face masks.   Given the current situation it is likely that the wearing of these will be mandatory everywhere and not just in the present restricted areas so I decided to add to our supply.   

I have started a "Map of New Zealand", constructed of a careful arrangement of New Zealand icons.   The chart came from an Etsy shop after I stumbled across a finished product on Pinterest.  This is the top of the South Island and is so far a Wine Bottle and Wine Glass, a packet of NZ's favourite Pineapple Lumps chocolates and a Rugby Ball.  It is fun and I can do one icon each day without any painful repercussions in my shoulder.   Tonight is a Tui (bird).  This will turn into my Lockdown 2021 project although I'm yet to decide if I will have it framed and give it wall space.

And to improve the shining hour I have been reading aloud to the DBEM.   Just before lockdown I found a promising book in the local Christian Bookstore and while reading it I was relating various portions to the DBEM.   At about two thirds of the way through I realised it would be easier to read her the whole thing so that’s what I am doing.   As a child she read aloud to me Treasures of the Snow, a much loved children’s book written by Patricia St John.  So I am returning the favour by reading to her that author's autobiography.  We are both enjoying it very much and should finish tonight.

And so Spring has begun and we had beautiful weather today to prove it.   Both the DBEM and I managed a walk in the sunshine and we have had a special chicken and chips dinner tonight to celebrate her birthday.   Lockdown precludes us going out for a treat so it is homemade I'm afraid.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Another lockdown

 Once again we have a nationwide lockdown and this time community spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant.   I admit to thinking  “oh no not again” but I have plenty of food in the fridge and freezer and ample stash in the embroidery cupboard so I will be able to sit out this siege quite comfortably.   How fortunate that I had been to the library just the day before!

I decided that I don’t need another big project but can use the time to complete various smaller tasks so yesterday I finished the stitching on the book cover.   I’m so pleased with this and hope to finish it off completely by the end of the week.

Today I cut up two old towels that had threadbare patches at each end.  With the still thick and absorbent middle area I made a couple of kitchen towels.   My friend Sophie gave me instructions as to how to do the binding and for a first attempt it went reasonably well.   My current kitchen towels were a gift when I left Japan in 1987 so they have lasted well.   The binding efforts today are preparation for the inevitable day when holes do break through:)

And I have started another alphabet panel for the blue bag.   These are fun to stitch even though I get tired with the fine count linen and using only one thread of floss.

Yesterday I received a text message from my doctor - the ultrasound and X-ray that my physio eventually decided were necessary after my fall a month ago showed not the rotator cuff tear he had been blithely treating but a fracture!!   With the current lockdown I’m not able to get to see my doctor until at least the end of next week and meantime have been resisting a visit to Dr Google as I don’t really have any information on which to base a search.   At times like these an inability to tolerate painkillers is really quite a nuisance but this is a good excuse to rest and read??

The DBEM is quite well and has finally agreed to an appointment with the audiologist.  Hopefully hearing aids are to come soon.  

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Look at these beauties

 My lovely next door neighbour is the re-incarnation of Beatrix Potter’s Mr McGregor and his garden is something I am trying to emulate.   But it is no good me planting the same vegetables as he does because inevitably he supplies me :). This week it was this perfect cauliflower which I am now going to have to cook in a multitude of ways and freeze as the DBEM cannot eat this vege.   I love a pizza base made with cauliflower rice  so much of it will be frozen in suitable portions for that.  

Yesterday I stitched up the small pocket made with the “thrums” from Claire. I had sat up late to complete the stitching and then had a sore shoulder from the repetition and a sore thumb from pushing the thick thread through the unforgiving canvas.  But the finished result is just what I envisaged and will be most useful.

The luncheon mats are completed too and the DBEM is delighted with them and is being very careful not to spill anything :)

Now I have only four projects lying in the basket so have promised myself I will not start anything new until two of those are finally finished.  Onwards and upwards!  I am making some progress on the notebook cover too - the chives, the tansy and the sage are complete.   Just the borage and the comfrey to go.  Can you tell this is from an English book?   

Well that's all for  now.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

A new start

 Last week a friend gave me a pile of "thrums" from her weaving and I diligently separated them into blue and white and then pondered what use I could make of these.   At first I thought tassel but the lengths are too short to successfully make the requisite hanging cord so I thought again and eventually decided on a small zipper closure purse.   The canvas scrap was from stash and I think I even have an appropriate zipper so this could be a very economical project.   So far so the empty diamonds I will stitch satin stitch in the off white thread and although an uninteresting design it will be practical and hard wearing.

And tonight I am back to getting the last Kogin luncheon mat completed.   I have the backing fabric and the pellon so once this one is stitched I can get them both made and into use.

The Blue Alphabet bag is coming along well with three panels complete.   What was originally planned to be eight panels will now be only six and I will finish it into a small hexagonal bag - inspired by a Betsy Morgan project in my new book.

The DBEM gave me this book as an early (very early) birthday present and although I may never stitch all the projects I am having a great deal of pleasure in reading this book thoroughly and drooling over the photos.

It is a very cold night here and we are promised icy winds from the Polar Blast.   Some areas will have snow to sea level - how fortunate we live some distance from the sea!   But it is hot water bottles and extra blankets for both of us:-)

Saturday, 17 July 2021

I’m back again

I’ve not much stitching progress to report really. Following the successful replacement of pacemaker and its associated wiring my right arm/shoulder is sore and stiff.   Not helped by the fact that when I was out on my walk at the beginning of the week I took a tumble and my upper right arm was the cushion in the fall.  Slowly I am coming right but it was a shock.   The cardiology technician checked me out and everything is still in place and I’m ticking away.

However the DBEM has been assiduously knitting and I have been doing my part in sewing up the garments and ensuring that they are completed ready to put away in ‘the box’.   I feel hugely successful in having assisted in reducing her yarn stash to one small plastic bag, thereby ensuring that any unwanted knitting inheritance will be minimal:)

I was not allowed to drive at all for a couple of weeks so was grateful for dry days that I can get out and walk.   Frosty mornings are not so welcome but I have jonquils, freesias and daffodils blooming in the garden so Spring can’t be too far away.   The roses are still flowering generously but in a couple of weeks when my arm is better I will prune them back.  Surely by the end of July any danger of frost will be past.

And I am bored with the Kogin and not really yet hooked on the fine cross stitch so I’m thinking of what I can do next.  This seems unreasonable given I have four projects currently in progress so I’m trying to keep calm and continue with what I’m doing. 

Anyway, one Kogin luncheon mat is completed and the other about half done.   When I am next out I will look for suitable fabric to back these and we can begin using them.

The cross stitch bag is very fine work and progress is slow but I like the DMC930 on this vintaged beige/cream linen and really want to make this bag so will persist, however slowly.

And now I'm off to pick up a dropped stitch for the DBEM and then add a few crosses to mine.