Thursday 28 February 2013

February Christmas Ornament

First things first.
This year I signed up for the Monthly Ornament SAL (you can find more details here) so I am proud to show you my February offering.

I rather suspect I am going to have to buy a bigger Christmas Tree this year in order to display my collection of stitched ornaments.
In between other chores I have used up a small scrap of some sea green evenweave and DMC perle cotton to create this cube/fob.

On each face I stitched a different "flower" and whipped the back stitch edge together to close up the cube.

Quite a lot of fun to do and such a good feeling knowing that I hadn't wasted any of the fabric scrap.   My oh my.  Such economy!
Tonight I am going to try and complete the blackwork for my tape measure cover while listening to this audiobook, which I recommend.   It is very funny.

Sunday 24 February 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane

This weekend the HD3QBEM and I have been for a road trip down wonderful  Memory Lane.
We went to Waitangi where 73 years ago she had joined in the Centenary celebrations of the signing of The Treaty (our country's founding document).   We found the Centennial Photo Album in the Treaty House so I secretly filmed the two pages that brought back most memories.
This is what she remembers of it then....
And today....
And haven't the fashions changed....
We spent a lot of the day looking back...

And what were the two words I heard most that day .... "I remember.."
It was such a worthwhile visit and brought such a lot of pleasure both to the HD3QBEM and to me.
Then in the afternoon we took a further diversion down memory lane and went past my late grandparents home in Kaikohe.   Obviously the current owners are in renovation mode.
We then went off the main road onto what could definitely be described as a lane: not sealed, just rough dusty stones, and we drove for around five or six kilometres to find her old school.   There was a small river, she said.   And a small hillock.  And a large prosperous farm. And two huge oak trees where we played.   Not in my eyes.   It was dusty, run down, and the only sign of a river were a couple of dilapidated bridges.   Stifling my incredulity we continued driving and then hey presto -  the memories were correct and here was the school house.
Although I couldn't see him there was obviously a very vocal unfriendly bull mastiff behind that gate, so I wasn't going to knock and ask to go see if there was another oak tree and a small river and a hillock.   Thank God for zoom lenses on cameras and for mothers with good memories for the days of 75 years ago and poor eyesight for the current state of dilapidation!
But the trip was not all nostalgia.
We found a yarn store
And a patchwork shop in a cute old cottage

Altogether a most satisfactory road trip.   We are both tired but happy!

Thursday 21 February 2013

A Happy Meeting

At New Year Kazumi came to visit me and with her, by a happy chance, she brought her new and wonderful point and shoot camera.   I had been planning to update my elderly Pentax and rather fell in love with her nifty Nikon.
Tomorrow I am taking the HD3QBEM on a mini road trip up north and coming along with us will be my new camera. I plan on testing it out so hopefully there will be something to show you on my return.
Anyway all this reminded me of the cute little Japanese five yen coin I have that is crafted to show the Japanese phrase for a happy chance.   Happy Chance = Go En  which by a "happy chance" is exactly the same pronunciation as Five Yen!
So somewhere many years ago I purchased this cute little souvenir.

Can you see the tiny couple in the central hole of the coin.   They are grains of rice painted to look like a Japanese Bride and Groom in traditional wedding garb.
Anyway, enough trivia for the night.   This is merely to note that I will be missing from Blogland over a long weekend but will definitely be back with reports and photos next week.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Huck Weaving and Guild Workshop

Today at Embroiderers Guild I attended a mini workshop on Huck Weaving.  I hadn't forgotten how to do this although it was around 55 years ago that I learned.    Just like riding a bicycle - you never forget!   It was interesting to pick up and refresh my memory on this interesting stitch.   The fabric is amazing -  I'd love to see the looms that make this fabric.   According to the tutor this stitching can be done on Aida too so at long last I may have a use for the pieces of fabric I have discarded over the years when I swapped the kit aida for my favourite linen. Our tutor has stitched lots of huck items and had a beautifully coloured sampler which really took my eye.
With practise I may be able to achieve something like this but I'm not sure that Huck has grabbed me quite that much.  It was fun chatting with others as I stitched though. 

We all made small sample pieces so that we practised the basic stitches and were given paper charts and instructions to encourage us to try more difficult items later.

At the other end of the room were a group of ladies who didn't want to join in either of the workshops.   They stitched and chatted happily for the couple of hours.   One of them, Pat, had bought at a Guild auction last year a "just started" linen tablecloth.   It is probably around five feet square and the previous owner had completed only a complicated hardanger star right in the centre.
Pat, who has terrible arthritis decided she would complete this cloth and has, since the auction, diligently persisted in stitching a deep edging all around the cloth.   She is about to 'join up' and amazingly is correct to the last fabric thread!
When asked what she was going to do with the completed cloth she smiled and said "fold it up and put it in the drawer with all the others".
Tonight I am going to do miles of needle weaving on a beaded hardanger strawberry while I watch Silk and A Touch of Frost.   Bliss!

Friday 15 February 2013

Plans for the weekend

Thank you for all your kind comments about the Blackwork Etui  and for helpful suggestions.  
Lee suggested how I could make a matching tape measure and I am going to try that.
Inspiration came for how to include space for a small 'packet' of needles and pins -  of course they will have to be blackheaded pins!
At the moment I am suffering from the desire to stitch something new.   Not just a new start, but a new technique and last night just before bed time I searched through the four copies of Inspirations Magazine that I have.   This caught my eye.  
I'm not very confident about silk shading nor crewel work but love cornflowers and the idea of a pin ball tickles my fancy enough for me to want to give it a try.   The instructions call for silk satin and AVAS silks but I just know that this will be a "learning piece" and will never turn into an heirloom, so crewel linen and wools it will be as I have those in stash.   If, as I suspect, this ends in dissatisfaction, I promise not to leave it for my nephew and his wife to clean up in my estate!
Tomorrow is Embroiderers Guild and we are having a mini workshop on Huck Embroidery.   It is around 55 years ago that I last did this type of stitching.  Wouldn't you say it is time for a refresher course!   So that is where I will be tomorrow afternoon.   
The HD3QBEM will be at home with her knitting.   Last Saturday I took her to a new yarn shop and she succumbed to temptation.   The random wool she chose is knitting up so nicely.   She is pleased, I am pleased - it is happy dances all round.
Today I went to the Library and exercising enormous restraint (given that I have 17 books on my request list) I brought home these four.
I'm not sure I want to knit 55 different Christmas balls but I certainly would like to know how to do it.
The HD3QBEM has just finished this book (in large print of course) and highly recommends it.   She did admit however to 'skipping the mathematical bits' but enjoying the biographical detail.  
My turn next so I'll let you know how I get on.   Have a good evening and an excellent weekend.

Thursday 14 February 2013

Blackwork Etui Progress report

It was October last year that my boss gave me this tin which held, in a purpose built plastic moulded inner, three lip glosses.
I could immediately see in my mind's eye a small needlework etui.  Some time later I began to stitch and after several dead ends and disasters I now have...
Scissors, pincushion, lid.   What else do I need?  
Chris, at work, is making me some polished stainless steel floss winders.
I will have to invent a needle holder and a thimble holder - something small - and then this long-dreamed-of etui might be considered almost finished.   This tin is not a Pandora's box and with limited capacity it will not hold a tape measure as well as a strawberry and a tiny biscornu.
The biscornu only needs tiny gold capped tassels on its four high points.
I do like the black strawberry with its gold "seeds".   I have been saving this teeny tiny pair of scissors for this project.   I'm thinking of covering the yellow tip protector with black ultrasuede -  we shall see.   That may be too difficult and I'll need to live with the yellow.
Some investigation on the internet has given me basic mathematical instructions for lining the inside of the tin (both lid and base) and I have a fine back ultrasuede which I intend to use.  I hope it will all work out.

What have I learned from this adventure?
  1. I have no passion for designing. 
  2. I would not choose blackwork as my favourite stitching technique.
  3. I am never satisfied unless I can scientifically prove that something is completed perfectly and there is no method of objective evaluation for a self design :-)
However (and I am trying to have a Pollyanna moment everyday) I am happy that this "tin inspired" etui is going to be completed in time to enter our Embroiderer's Guild Exhibition.  Hopefully it will look cute on the smalls table.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Black and White

Yesterday afternoon I went to the City Art Gallery.  No particular reason.   I juts happen to think this is an asset to our city and deserves patronage.   I also rather like the massive silk flower chandelier in the main atrium so wanted another look at that.   Currently the main exhibition is on rock and roll -  not my forte so I didn't even go up to level 3.  There were plenty of other beautiful paintings and sculptures in the other gallery rooms - certainly enough to keep me happy.

Then last night I "blackworked" while watching Silk and A Touch of Frost.
Obviously both were dark enough of plot to help me out and I have managed to complete the flower for the etui lid.   The twisted gold 'flower' in the centre is a bead which will become the pull to lift the lid.
I also did two small squares for a mini biscornu - for the pin cushion.  
Now my plan is to do a mini-strawberry for a scissor fob and if space permits I may try to fit in a small needle case/holder of some description.   There is only so much that the tin will hold.   Apart from the needlework tools to fill the tin, one of my challenges is to line the tin.   I have some black ultrasuede and will experiment with plain calico to see what shape I need to cut and glue in.   That may have to be next weekend's project.  A couple of weeks and this should be finished.  
My February Christmas Ornament is completed ( a picture is promised at month end), as is the February page for the NMMSAL.   I find myself wanting to start a bigger (= takes-longer-to-complete) project.  There are many such in my stash already and I will choose one from there.   All I know at the moment is that ti will definitely not be blackwork nor will it be pure cross stitch.   I am ready for a challenge!

Friday 8 February 2013

Festival of broken needles

Today, February 8th is the festival of Broken Needles.   All over Japan women gather at Shrines and Temples to tuck needles and pins into a slab of soft tofu as thanks are made for good and faithful service.

Late last year, under the tutelage of Susan Elliot I made a Hari Kuyo Needlebook in which the last page is the resting place for bent, broken and unserviceable needles.   So I have need to resort to a slab of soft tofu when I have a page of soft doctors flannel.  If you get a chance to take an Eclass with Susan I certainly recommend do.   I had such fun making mine.

But it is here I should admit that my most used and well loved needlebook is in fact this one
Oh the wonders of the internet.   Browsing one day around six or seven years ago I found this, wrote away to the Valley Quail Chapter of the EGA and some days later this wonder arrived.   It has been my friend ever since.  

You can read about it in more detail here I highly recommend these.
But where do I keep my supply/store of needle packets?   Most of my many hussifs, needlecases and etuis have packets of needles in them but the bulk store is in this.
Some years ago I took a Schwalm class with a local needlework teacher and this needle packet case was her design.   
It has been so very useful and is usually stuffed to the gunwales with packets - as you can see I am not exactly loyal to any one particular brand.  I prefer Piecemakers but my choice is made by price so generally it is good old John James!   
So with thanks for needles, needle books, and all the good service these embroidery tools give me year in year out....

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Waitangi Day 2013

Today is a public holiday held annually to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.   With that document New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha (the non- Maori) became a part of the British Empire and we have lived with the consequences of that ever since.   Be that as it may, today was a gloriously warm blue-sky day and I, for one, appreciated a day off work.
The HD3QBEM and I went for a drive to a small town about an hour's drive south and had lunch at a quaint cafe called The Copper Kettle. We have had so little rain for weeks now that the usually verdant farms are all a dry brown dust bowl and we wondered how the poor animals are surviving.
On the way back we stopped at a tiny craft shop and watched two women creating beautiful ceramics.   I was particularly taken with this grey hippo planter but unfortunately he didn't come home with me.
While I did the ironing this morning I remembered to iron the Confetti of Hardanger piece so I could show it sans wrinkles!  
This HAL is great and Abi Gurden publishes excellent instructions.  
The curved fan was the homework for this issue.   I see that despite counting the wraps my tension has not been even and one "spoke" looks fatter than the others.   Only the centre motif and the edging to go.   I wonder what will come for the centre?
Last night I made a re-start on my self-designed blackwork etui and hopefully by the weekend there will be progress to report.  My original plans for this came to nothing except and unplanned mattress pincushion so I have started again.  The tin, the linen and the picture in my head remain the same. I plan to have this completed for our Embroiderers' Guild exhibition in August and as I have only just started the lid and there is still a scissor fob, needle book, pincushion and thimble holder to go I need to plod along.
Hope you have all had a great day too.

Monday 4 February 2013

February Page

Tonight I have completed the second page of my Needlework Masters Monthly SAL.  
Quaker with a simple hem stitch edging - and I am pleased with the result of this although I can see that I need to attack those wrinkles again!

Sunday 3 February 2013

A finish or two or three ...

Today has been another hot, dry day and the promised drizzle did not eventuate.  Perhaps tomorrow the rain will come.   We sure need it.   I washed my car on Saturday and that usually guarantees it will rain LOL.
Now for news,  It's official!   On Friday afternoon the HD3QBEM very cheerfully told me she is now legally blind!   How many people do I know who are happy that they have been accepted as members of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind?   Anyway we can now access their assistance with magnifiers, audio books and for me the best is their extensive large print library.   Guess who will be choosing the books?   We went out for Sushi lunch yesterday to celebrate.
The elephants are done, complete, finished - down to the snap fastener under the flap.   I am quite happy with this one and must remember to send a photo to my niece as she was the one who brought these two Pachyderms from India to my house.
Yesterday while engrossed in "A Touch of Frost" I completed some more of the Christmas ornaments.  
Hopefully tonight, the stimulus of "Lewis" will help me complete the Lavender Hussif.   I certainly feel more in control now that so many of the WIPs are being completed.
And last week the mail man brought me this -which may become my next project.   
This is from the Historic Needlework Guild and I will definitely be substituting those words.   The chart says AVAS but has the DMC equivalents and Wallet is screaming "make it DMC" so that is probably what it shall be.
I have been cross stitching my February page for the NMMSAL and am tired, once more, of the little x's so a sampler is probably just what the doctor ordered.   We shall see.   I also have everything ready to start my self-designed Blackwork Etui.   
And now it is time for dinner preparations so I'm off.