Saturday 28 April 2012

A Tour For Amy Part 2

Saturday chores are all done and I am about to sit in my favourite spot on the sofa and indulge in some stitching.
But before tha;t; I promised Amy this tour of my needlework,  so today we move on to my bedroom.
On the wall opposite my bed are all my "M" pieces -  most of these were kits and have been stitched at various times over the last twenty years.   At one stage my obsession with M was above normal but now I manage to restrain the urge and apart from one M in the cabinet (photo to come later) and the Sajou M stitched earlier this year there are no more M's in my house!

This was a small kit picked up at the trading table at Guild.   I liked it because it was an M and because it was blue.

This kit was bought to stitch on the plane (pre 9/11 days this) on one of my trips up to Japan.  One kit going there  and then this one coming back.   As I recall there was little stitching done while I was there.

This one is only around 5cm square which is just as well because the frame has real gold leaf on it and was very expensive. I have more sense now!

I couldn't find a  Kate Greenaway M at the time so had to settle for this one instead.

And this one was taken from an Alphabet book - merely to fill in a space on the wall  and because I like peonies.

On top of my Scotch chest is a mat I made - 32 count linen and possibly the most repetitive piece I have ever done.   This drawn thread piece measures around  50cm by 30cm and is loosely based on a Christine Bishop design from an ancient Inspirations magazine.
And on my bedside cabinet is a Naversom mat.   I took a class in this technique with our Embroiderer's Guild and have made several of these in different colourways and given them as gifts.

There are some more pieces to show so do tune in next time for Part 3 of the Tour!

I made a good start this week on my Around The World in 80 Stitches (Papillion SAL) but decided to completely change my colour selection.  Selecting colours when I do not know exactly what the finished design will look like is a major adventure for me but so far I am happy.   I decided that using two strands of floss was too heavy looking so have opted for one strand except for the blue Norwich Stitches which needed the heavier coverage.   So far so good.   There are partial eyelets, back stitch, cross stitch, Norwich Stitch and Berwick Stich in this so far -  Yvonne from Papillion says 80 stitches but I am not sure if she counts the simple ones like cross stitch and back stitch.   We shall see.
Tonight there is a cooking programme I want to watch on TV and then a new series of Midsomer Murders starts so I will probably get lots of stitching done.   Hopefully I will finish off this heart medallion.   I am on morning tea duty at church tomorrow so need to get things ready for that too.  Have a good evening everyone.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

A Tour For Amy Part 1

Today is a public holiday here and I have enjoyed the beautiful golden Autumn day.My long list of "jobs to do" is now all crossed off and I am looking forward to some stitching this evening.
Amy suggested she might like a "tour" after I posted a shot of my cabinet so here we go.  I'll start at the front of the house and work through - so sorry Amy, but the cabinet will be last.
First up are two pieces that are in the HDHBEM's bedroom.   This framed piece was done for Mother's Day many years ago.   I well remember how hard it was to keep this a secret  while stitching it.
Then I made this long runner (nearly 1.5metres) for the top of the large chest of drawers.   It has faded a lot but to the HDHBEM it is precious and she will not part with it.

In around three weeks we are going for a short holiday and I am preparing my stitching already.   Today I parceled up one stitched item to complete, edged the linen of another piece and sorted through the basket of "2012 projects" to find some others.   After all, I will be gone five days and I will need a lot of stitching to keep me going for that time:-)

And so the sun sets on another day.  Have a good evening everyone.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Jewellery Box

I am making good progress on the stitching for Shelley's Jewellery Box.   Now that I have added the colour I am happier as these blues are looking good.  There are supposed to be thousands of beads to cover this but I am not really a bead person so may opt for plain -  we shall see.   My Mikimoto pearls will look good in the finished box won't they?

The bigger problem is that the whole box is larger than I had imagined. 

So where am I going to put it?
My cabinet is rather full and I can hardly ask the HDHBEM to part with her precious china tea set just so I can stuff more stitching in, can I?
Hope your weekend has been as much fun and as productive as mine. 

Saturday 21 April 2012

Degas to Dali

Yesterday the surgeon removed a "spot of bother" from my centre back.   I can't see there to check that his stitches are small and even!   However I have no discomfort and today I went into the city with my friend Tomoko to visit an art exhibition.
To avoid expensive car parks I travelled on the bus and walked down the hill from the bus stop.   Imagine my surprise when these small bronze men on their plinth appeared!  
They weren't there just a few weeks ago, or if they were I didn't meet them.   Today we got close up and personal.
The Pin Oak trees outside the university are starting to show their autumn colours.
Then outside the library there are new seats - these letters spell out the Maori word for language so seem highly appropriate.   From my observation, they are more used as climbing frames for young children than seats for weary pedestrians!
Tomoko introduced me to Malaysian cuisine for lunch -  slightly more spicy than I am used to but not unpalatable.   Then we walked on to the New Art Gallery.   I love the new adjunct to the old Victorian building and particularly this fantastic Floral Chandelier.   Made of silk, this installation puffs up and then slowly deflates in what must be a cycle but seemed pretty random to me.   This view from the outside

and from directly below

Currently there is an exhibition entitled from Degas to Dali and the artworks are all on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland.   Naturally there was no photography allowed inside the exhibition.   Of all the artwork we saw my favourite was neither Degas nor Dali but an amazing 1928 oil painting by William Roberts entitled The Rhine Boat.
Google Images provided me with this image to share with you
I just love the thick thighs of these guys -  Cubism it might be but the shading gives a certain roundness to the leiderhosen look!  
Walking back down the street to my bus I was taken with this display in the Louis Vuitton window.   No price tags visible of course and I wondered how many thousand dollars for the bag so elegantly displayed??
Home for pasta dinner and now I am settling down for an evening in the company of DMC 824 as I hope to complete the flowers on "Shelley's Jewellery Box".   Perhaps there will be progress shots  tomorrow as we are promised fine weather which is always a help in taking photos.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

An answer for Anna and Jade

A couple of my readers were kind enough to comment on how much they liked the stitch in this photo.

This is the Margaret stitch taken from the book "Wessex Stitchery" by Gay Eaton.  Unfortunately this book is long out of print and only available at extortionate prices from Amazon Used Books.   I have taken a scan of just this stitch and you can follow your own colour scheme.   One hint is that the placement of the colour should be as random as possible.
The stitches that form the base are Lazy Daisy stitch with the 'head' over three threads and the tail over six threads.
I often use Wessex Stitchery for needlebooks and hussifs that are to travel overseas as gifts because Gay Eaton is a fellow New Zealander and was responsible for the revival of this old technique.  Here's a photo of another style -  this is called Essex Stitch -  which I made into a needlebook for an exchange about three years ago

And also a close up of the Margaret stitch.  

I hope that is helpful -  if you need anything else please email me and I'll do my best to answer.
Have a good night everyone.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Catch up

Today the HDHBEM and I went to the LNS and I stocked up on some necessities   Floss for projects I am about to commence and small gold scissors for an upcoming project.   My boss gave me a small spherical tin in gold and black which I think will make a wonderful "hussif" so I want to get to and make a scissor fob, needle book and mini biscornu in black and gold to match.   At the moment I am thinking blackwork rather than cross stitch but who knows.   Our Embroiderer's Guild exhibition is in August and I hope to have this completed by then.    
Bad photo this but I have signed up for the Around the World in 80 Stitches SAL and I bought the greens for the base - there are 8 floral colours as well and I had those in my stash and the 32 count raw linen is also from stash.   How good is that.   I know, I know there are more than 8 colours there -  but I haven't made my mind up yet!
Chameleon Perle thread for the "mystery gift" I am currently working on.   Here's a sneak teaser photo.   I love the subtle variations of the Chameleon threads and also the fact that they are in small hanks that are much more suitable for many smaller projects but DMC perle is cheaper for cords and tassels.
Judy O'Dell has a new project of a stitched jewellery box on her Message Board and I have started that too.   I am intrigued at her technique of stitching everything in basic cross stitch and then by adding "extra" stitches turning this base into specialty stitches like Dutch Stitch, Rice Stitch, Smyrna Cross etc.   It is the first time I have heard of that technique but it strikes me as being remarkably efficient and requiring less "reverse stitching".   As I am not fond of the purple which the designer chose so I have changed the colour on the flowers to two shades of blue and can see that this will cause me some worry until the project is complete -  I have no confidence in my own ability to choose colours and usually follow the instructions of the designer.  Again this new project is part of my stash reduction and I did not have to purchase any new fabric or floss.  However I will need to buy the petite beads.
I have another short week -  next Friday I am having a skin cancer taken off my back.   Isn't that a good excuse to sit and stitch?   I may not feel like doing much more.
Hope you all have a great weekend.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Eeyore's Tail??

As promised I have photographs to show.First of all the HDHBEM and I went on an "adventure" today and followed the road signs to Shelly Beach Reserve.   We didn't know what to expect but it certainly wasn't this!  
Mud Flats at Road End would be a more honest sign.   Having not taken my proper camera I resorted to the mobile phone -  note to self.   Next time take your proper camera Margaret!

Last night while watching Miss Marple I completed the stitching on The Bookcase Bookmark and made Eeyore's tail!   Ann and Shiela had asked how I finished the back.   So here the two steps before the finale.
First of all at around six threads outside the perpindiculars I backstitch over two threads in DMC Perle #8 in a colour matching the linen.  I extend out at the top of the bookmark and backstitch another rectangle the same size.

Then I make a cord and tassel.   Usually I make a long cord and double it but this time used more threads of floss for the finger weaving cord and so produced what I call Eeyore's tail.   This is fastened at the top centre of the bookmark.    I use threads from my stash to do these bookmarks - no new purchasing - and the bookcase itself was some Waterlilies silk floss in colour sable.  Being twelve ply instead of DMC six ply the cord was much thicker.   Another note to self -  Next time Margaret halve the ply and a better result will follow!    Can you see how I have made another rectangle with the backstitching.   That folds down and forms the complete (all raw edges enclosed) bookmark.  Nice and tidy.
Next step is to iron two layers of medium weight vilene stiffening onto the back of the bookmark. 
Then fold over the edges and with Perle #12 matching thread whip the stitches together and voila!   I have tried backing with other fabric but this has been by far the easiest and I usually have strips of linen left over from the sides of other projects.
Despite the dire forecasts of rain, thunder and lightning we have had a glorious weekend of warmish fine weather and tomorrow is another holiday.   Great!
Have a good evening everyone.

Friday 6 April 2012

Strawberries at Easter??

Easter weekend - a time of reflection, holiday from work, stitching and generally relaxing.   Despite the dire weather forecast, today was bright and sunny but I was only briefly outdoors.  Top of my list was sewing and I cut out and sewed (about two thirds anyway) a dress in black merino fabric.   Once completed I will have the local "logo shop" embroider our company logo on the left hand side of the bodice and my take on our company uniform will be complete.   The General Manager doesn't seem to feel the cold and all our uniform pieces are cotton and polyester =  Margaret freezes in the winter!   With all those merino sheep running around the green pastures of New Zealand why should I freeze in an imported cotton uniform so this year merino it is and I shall be warm.  And on a more colourful note I completed the Mary Stewart Hussif.  

Yes!!   Ever since I first saw one of these I have wanted to make one  - this is stitched on 32 count pink linen, in DMC floss.  The cords are finger weaving and the small toggles are an adaptation of those in Gay Eaton's Wessex Stitchery book.  For the lining I was unable to find fabric with strawberries on it so small roses it had to be.
The needle book is merino flannel.  Eight years ago on a visit to Adelaide (Australia) I bought two metres of this and have been using it gradually every since.   What an economical decision that was!
A few weeks ago I completed my "copy" of Riona's bookcase bookmark and at that time Shiela and Ann both asked how I had finished the back.  I decided to stitch another one and this time to take photographs of the process rather than try and convey it all in prose.   So today I stitched the bookcase and hopefully tomorrow will fill the shelves with books and will then take photos of the construction process.   Sorry to keep you waiting so long for a reply Shiela and Ann, but I should be able to answer fully within a day or two.
Mother has her nose in "The Winds of Heaven" (Monica Dickens) and I am engrossed in "Faith"(Peter James) so when we are not stitching there is total quietness at our house!  

On the morning of  May 12th I will spend  "An Hour With Peter James" at the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival and then in the evening  "An Hour with Stella Rimington".   Written that way it sounds like a personal encounter -  if only!   No, I am attending a couple of sessions of this

Stella Rimington I have already 'met' in a couple of books but my first encounter with Peter James was only this week in "Perfect People" which I found raised both questions and goose bumps.  "Faith" is similarly riveting in concept and scary to read and I am looking forward to seeing just what sort of person writes those sort of books.   Neither books have an author mug shot on the back and as I want him to have the rugged handsome looks of say, Nigel Havers, I am resisting a google search so as not to spoil the surprise. 
Have a wonderfully joyous Easter.

Sunday 1 April 2012


Yesterday was busy!I baked a Walnut Date Loaf for the HDHBEM's lunch treats this week, did the grocery shopping, and then we both went off to the local mall.   A walk around the whole of the complex before a lunch of sushi was the day's exercise for the HDHBEM who by then deserved a rest.   So we went to ....

Are any of you like me - committed fans of Maggie Smith and Judi Dench?   You must, really must, go and see this movies.   It is great fun and plays to the strength of Judi and the acerbic wit of Maggie.   We had a great time (and I lowered the average age in the picture theatre!!)
A quick trip to the local haberdashery on the way home to get backing fabric for the Mary Stewart Hussif mean that after dinner, I created two shepherds, two lambs, three trees and the gaps for some snow!

and did all the pinning and folding required to get to this

Buttonhole stitch is not the most stimulating but I am making slow progress and hopefully by the end of the long Easter break might have this completed.   

However I am planning on doing some dressmaking too as I need a warm winter dress for work - I bought this pattern over the internet and am now being bombarded with emails from Vogue, Butterick etc etc  One at a time I say!

I also want to dosome gardening so will need to timetable each minute of every day to accomplish all the items on the list!