Sunday 28 December 2014

Adam and Eve at Year's End

Today is the last of the four day holiday weekend we have for Christmas.   Most people will now have three days work before another four day weekend for New Year.   You'd think I would be rested and refreshed after that amount of time off wouldn't you?   I'm not!   I feel tired, hot and frazzled. The past days have been a blur of cooking, dishes, guests and poor sleep.
And to cap it off I had to reverse stitch almost everything I did on Christmas Eve and have been busy this afternoon repairing the damage.   The HD3QBEM laughed and told me I shouldn't have made a new start when I was so busy with everything else.   But at this time of year I invariably get enthusiastic about Christmas and having completed the stitching on two other projects a new start was legitimate.   Mary Beale's Christmas Wreath seemed perfect.
Tomorrow when the shops open again I will need to go to the LNS for a DMC 3345.   Otherwise everything is from stash.
Reverse stitching was so unappealing, I searched for another small project and found this little Adam and Eve Sampler that Phyllis from Austin sent me some years ago.   I stitched it over one thread of 24 count fabric so it has come out really tiny and is therefore likely to find a home in my curio cabinet which is getting rather full;-)
Our Christmas weather was perfect and together with Little Brother and his wife we went to the beach on the 26th.   Little Brother's wife has a sea kayak and she went off on her adventures while the rest of us relaxed on shore.
The Pohutukawa blooms red along the northern coastal beaches this time of year and is aptly named our New Zealand Christmas Tree.   Very pretty.

Monday 22 December 2014

Advent Calendar Blog Hop

Today's stop on Serendipitous Stitching's Blog Hop Advent Calendar is at my house.
I want to share my favourite handmade Christmas Ornament.    These sweet little mittens are totally out of season for a mid-Summer Christmas here in New Zealand but I love them and have displayed them on my tree every year since I first stitched them.   They are always given an especially prominent place.
Jo asked that we share a memory of our best present ever.   I have had so many lovely presents over my life but I think the Christmas surprise that was the most lovely was when I was six and woke to find black footprints right beside my bed!!   Tracing these back, I found them starting at the fireplace beside which was a real pine Christmas Tree with a pile of presents underneath it.   Santa Claus had actually been to our house and what's more he had come down the chimney!   Details of the presents have faded over the intervening years but the wonder of that Christmas morning is a delightful memory..
And so I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Progress on the Acorns

In between cleaning, cooking, gardening and the 1001 pre-Christmas chores I have managed some more stitching on the Acorn Sampler Reticule.
The scissor fob stitching is finished
The scissor keeper stitching is finished
But there are still thousands more stitches to be done on the bag and then the Squirrel needlebook to stitch and fit to the base.   The florentine should be fun as the middle row of diamonds are stitched to be stitched to look like acorns -  what else:-)
I love the row of little acorns.  
They were fun to stitch but perhaps I was over enthusiastic in stitching the date on the scissor keeper??  However there are still 11 days until the end of the year so perhaps a final sprint will get me over the line.   Sure hope so.

Monday 8 December 2014

And it's Queen Stitches again

Friday night I didn't have the energy for Queen Stitches in The Sampler Chatelaine so threaded the needle and opened the instructions for Acorn Reticule.   Yes, the scissor fob would satisfy the new start I was craving.   But what's that?   Yes! Queen stitches again.
Here's a progress shot.   I rather liked the Woven Stitch square in the middle but found the instructions sparse and ended up using two needles - one of each colour thread - which seems cumbersome.   The result is good though.

Now I'm working on the scissor keeper and after that there will be no excuse, I will return to The Sampler a Chatelaine and finish that off before Christmas.

Baking is underway with several varieties of cookies in the freezer.  The menu for Christmas Day and for Boxing Day is all planned.   This morning I made a start on the other DIY job on the HD3QBEM's  list - a reprint of the ceiling in the bay window.   Amazing even myself I managed the preparation and undercoat thus morning before fatigue and bright sunshine called a halt.   No photos as it's only a white ceiling:-).  Now I'm off to the gym for some physical jerks and turn plan on baking a batch if chocolate and cranberry cookies.

Friday 5 December 2014

Doesn't look like an Acorn Reticule does it?

I had sorted out all the ingredients supplies to start on the Acorn Reticule recipe chart when a roadblock came into view.   The HD3QBEM asked for a hardanger book mark to include in a Christmas Card so another quick rummage through the stash and voila!  Looks good doesn't it, but nothing like acorns.

In between kloster blocks and wraps I have been encouraging the HD3QBEM to type up some mini-memoirs that her grandson had asked for.   Although winning prizes for speed typing back in the day, it was rather more agonising on a modern keyboard.   But I'm proud of her.
She did well and the 30 point font meant it was possible for her to see what she was doing and then Mr Gates performed his miracles of spell check and font reduction. Today I put the letter in the mail, complete with Grandma's shaky signature, and hopefully the postman will do his job quickly.
And now having temporarily lost interest in the Acorn Reticule I am going to make an effort to complete the Sampler Chatelaine.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

My bathroom's a mess.

Last week the HD3QBEM and I moved out of home for four nights so the tradesmen could renovate my bathroom.   Now this week we have been put out of the house for two days while they complete their task.   I am sick and tired of feeling rootless.  Tomorrow we stay home:-)   Last night the shower looked like this but today it is all completed and able to be used once again.  Hallelujah!
So today while sitting at a small sunny cove on the southern harbour, I tacked out a piece of 36 count linen for a new start.   I needed something pleasant to think about and this project is just that.
Nice that I had the linen and threads in stash too.   Less expensive and more conducive to an immediate start.   Although, saying that, I am indulging in a feast of Laurie R King's Mary Russell novels at present and my attention is diverted from stitching to books.   But first I need to go and cook dinner before I can think of either stitching or reading.  
Have a good evening.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Three Blind Mice and an M

Last night I sat up late and finished off the three mice.   At that time of night, I decided not to raid the yard broom but made their whiskers from Perle 5 and am happy with the way they turned out.  AS these are a pincushion two have red pins in their tails and one has black (due to an insufficiency of red!!)
I have found a box and will try to fill it with "little things" for the Embroiderers Guild sale of work next year so this is a good start.  
Three hardanger bookmarks are underway too.   I was going to put little angels on the diagonal up each bookmark but the little angels are proving little devils to stitch so have opted for a safer but simpler filling.   Surely they will be tempting to buyers even if not angelic?
Today Little Sister, her hubby and their Brazilian home stay student called in to see us.   Luiz is being shown the sights of Auckland City and Granny and Aunty are one stop on the itinerary!   It was great to see them and to hear a little about their epic journey along Route 66.  
Little Sister found this tricky box for me in New York.   Wasn't she clever to combine my love of boxes and my love of 'M'.   It's a puzzle box and the M is the key.   Here's a shot of the pieces.  
Well done Little Sister for finding such a suitable gift and carrying it carefully all across the country.
Last week we had the shower over bath changed to a walk in shower and the HD3QBEM is more than satisfied with the new arrangement.   She finds it much safer and for me it will be easier to clean. The workman is coming tomorrow to complete the odds and ends still left to do.   I will be glued to my phone tomorrow as I expect to hear back from the job which I applied for a couple of weeks ago and which I really really want.   Meanwhile I am finding all sorts of home jobs to get done while I improve the shining hours of waiting.

Sunday 23 November 2014

And while we are waiting...

Last week I played the waiting game.   The second interview for the job went well, the recruitment agency gave positive feedback and I was told to wait for a phone call on Friday.   Wait I did. And wait and wait and wait...   But no call.  Hopefully on Monday there will be good news.
But I managed to improve the shining hour.   Progress was made on A Sampler Chatelaine.   I don't really like the way the verse has words split between the lines but I am following the chart and that is what the instructions say.
Also I made arrangements for Dave and John to come and do my bathroom renovations next week.  We need a step in shower cubicle rather than the shower over bath arrangement we have at present as the HD3BEM isn't as limber as she once was.   So on Tuesday this week we move out for five days while Dave and John get working in my bathroom.   I hadn't expected they would have available time before Christmas but this has worked rather well.

One small problem however.   My current project is A Sampler Chatelaine and that is far too fine for me to see by dimmer light in our temporary accommodation so I had a rapid search of the stash and found some scraps of linen and DMC perle thread and made a start on other projects to take with me.
I'm going to make three Maarken Mice as part of my donation to the sale of work at next year's Embroiderers Guild Exhibition.   One has the stitching completed so I am sure I will have all three done by next weekend.  These are Perle #8 on 24 count linen.   Doesn't look like a mouse?   It will, believe me and I will show photographic proof next week, provided I can get the small faceted beads for the eyes.   Whiskers will come from a gentle raiding of the yard broom.
And I am going to use another square of fabric to make some Angel Hardanger Bookmarks.   This is a Carol Pedersen design which I have stitched before.   This time they are being made in 28 count linen which exactly matches the DMC 3823 Perle #8 I have in stash.   Each of the centre diamonds will house a hardanger angel but I am going to do all the foundations first before stitching the 'heavenly beings'
Yesterday the HD3QBEM and I went out for a drive in the countryside to take our mind off "the phone call".   We first stopped at our usual place for a sushi lunch and then on through the hills on the edge of the city until we spied this

I gingerly picked my way through the displays of antiques but no needlework boxes (my promised birthday gift) so we drove on.
Over another hill and onwards until we eventually arrived home.   One of us was tired and the other grateful to have had her mind taken off her troubles!   A light dinner, an hour of Midsome Murders and a good sleep has done wonders.

Sunday 16 November 2014

All that remains

I have been diligently stitching on A Sampler Chatelaine this week and all that remains on the left side are Queen Stitches.   Rather like a child who leaves the detested vegetables on his plate to be eaten last,  I have no choice now, so with music as a diversion the Queen Stitches will be completed tonight.
On a brighter note, I had a job interview this week which looks hopeful as a second interview is scheduled for next week.   So with that in mind I bought some fabric for a new blouse to wear.   After some years working in a warehouse situation, I will need to upgrade my wardrobe to 'professional office wear' if I'm successful in obtaining the position.   Fingers crossed (when not stitching).

Yesterday was Embroiderers Guild and at the meeting I stitched on an Aztec Stitch bookmark.   We had an interesting speaker talking about her trip to Machu Picchu so my concentration was not so good at times :-)   Last night while watching The Great British Bake Off I made further progress so the end is in sight.
The HD3QBEM is not so well today so I will sign off here and go keep her company.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

A finish and a new start

This small hardanger needlecase can really be considered a finish I think.   I only need to put a couple of decorative tassels on the base of the front and they will be done tonight.  Considering it is only scraps of linen and perle thread from stash this has turned out well.
And I made a start on A Sampler Chatelaine
Yes I put the date on as I think this will be done before year's end although now I am stitching an abundance of Queen Stitches the pace has slowed.   There is a metal acorn button to sew in the white gap of the top Oak Leaf band -  when all is completed.  Short rows and a variety of stitches make this an interesting project but I doubt that I will ever wear this chatelaine hanging around my neck as the designer intended.   Back of the curio cabinet perhaps?   A curio it certainly is -  why would the boxer have partly floral pants and be holding a strawberry??  
Apart from sending out applications for work, I have been sewing ( a new summer dress) and reading.   This week is going slowly but the weather is not suitable for outdoor pursuits.

Friday 7 November 2014

A walk in the park

This afternoon when I returned from an hour and a half at the gym, the HD3QBEM asked if I'd like to go to Cornwall Park for a walk!   We went and enjoyed time outdoors on a beautiful warm day.
Here's a photo to prove it.   Now I am tired!
Currently I have a small hardanger needlecase almost completed, a cobalt blue summer dress almost completed and three "possible projects" from which I am choosing.   This needlecase is fun and I have stitched it so many times it too is almost a walk in the park!
I have tacked out the linen for my major project of 2015.   For many years I have carefully stored a wooden casket which has insert panels on sides, front, back and top.   The charts for this I found in the Sampler and Antique Needlework  A Year In Stitches book.  You can see a photograph of what the finished casket will look like here (scroll down about two thirds of the way).   On my list for tomorrow is "sort out the threads for casket".   I doubt this project will be a walk in the park :-)
My other three 'possible projects' are a small thimble holder - a Betsy Morgan design,

My Favourite Things Stitching Basket - an Ellen Chester design and

A Sampler Chatelaine - Historic Needlework Guild (yes I have had this chart a looong time!).  

I plan on doing all of these projects but am trying to decide which to do first as I am little tired of plain cross stitch.  Now back to stitching.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Baby post

Today I finished the stitching on Lynne Nicoletti's Baby envelope.  (Excuse the wrinkles - I have not ironed the piece)
Unfortunately I stitched this all from stash and the linen is a 28 count so the envelope is rather too big for what I initially envisaged.   Methinks a cushion may be coming up on this one but it will languish in a bag until I find out whether I get great-nieces or great-nephews or one of each?!
I love the little 'perambulator' but I am certainly not going to now do a pink version just on the off chance.   Should both babies be girls there could be a problem and I may be looking for a friendly recipient :-) and frantically stitching a pink perambulator.
And today I visited the Embroiderers Guild annual display of work.   Unfortunately no photographs allowed so you will have to take my word for it that there was a wonderful variety of work on display.   The HD3QBEM peered through her magnifying lens at the pieces that took her fancy and had a very decided opinion on her Viewers Choice ballot!   Obviously visual impairment didn't dim her enjoyment.  
After that we went to the local Spotlight store and I got some thin vilene to trace off a dress pattern, some buttons and some velcro to repair the HD3QBEM's slippers and spent the afternoon cutting out fabric for two dresses and a blouse.   Tomorrow is to be a marathon sewing day - broken by a lunch date with a friend.
All this activity to take my mind off the applications for work which I have sent off into the internet.
Oh yes and I did an hour and a half session at the gym before coming home to cook dinner.   What a good girl am I!

Sunday 2 November 2014

United at last!

Last night I stitched diligently all through Midsomer Murders but the programme was not long enough to get my stitching finished.  So today a quick sprint and the final stitches were in.   The four countries are united at last.   I am really pleased with this piece and now must research how to make an accordion book and construct the item.   Well, I need to source some suitable paper first of all.   Wish me luck!
A blog reader asked what Little Sister had given me for my birthday (she gave it to the HD3QBEM to hide until the actual day!) so here's shots of the beautiful wooden jewelry box.

There are cute little button feet on the bottom.   I need help with suggestions for charts/designs that can fit in the 4" by 6" aperture -  bearing in mind that it is under glass.   Any suggestions?   Hardanger or specialty stitches rather than cross stitch only I think.

 Another reader asked to see the finished name tag.   It is really nothing special -  just small with clear  font so it serves the appropriate purpose.   Here's a selfie showing the tag in use and photos of front and back(I used a Japanese fabric from Pamela for the back 'lining')
Other spare moments have been spent sewing up seams and sewing on buttons for the HD3QBEM's knitting.   Great Grandchildren are due to make an appearance in two separate families next March and April so The Great Knitting Splurge has begun.   With gender being as yet unknown and likely to remain so, colours are gender neutral lemon, aqua etc etc.   I'd like to show you a photo of the HD3QBEM's smiling face as she knits, but whenever I point the camera her direction the smile fades into a grimace of intense concentration.   Considering the hurdles of knitting with impaired vision, these garments are truly a labour of love.   And yesterday we went shopping for yet more yarn!!

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Leeks, roses and harps of Erin

Today, in between home duties and a "warrant of fitness" at the doctor, I have stitched diligently on my UK piece but Scotland has stubbornly refused to be conquered!
I am so pleased with this which is destined to become the cover for an accordion book in which I will hopefully record my travels when I fulfill my life long dream of visiting the land of my forefathers.
And now I am weary and my eyes are a little sore so I shall go to bed.   We have had heavy rain, thunder and lightning today and it is still blowing a gale outdoors so we could have a disturbed night.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

The Big Six Oh

Today is the day!   The List is not complete but too late -  the time has come.
Haven't the intervening years changed both the HD3QBEM and me?
We went out today looking unsuccessfully in antique shops for a suitable gift and finishing up at Zealong for High Tea.   A great day, despite the dismal weather,  as shown in this selfie.
And just in case Little Sister (currently in Los Angeles) is reading this -  the HD3QBEM did manage to hide your present successfully until the day!   Thank you very much.
Tonight I intend to complete the Welsh Dragon and St George's Cross on my UK piece and so hopefully to have stitching progress to show on my next update.

Saturday 25 October 2014

The List

A week's holiday and there is not a lot to show for it.
We went to see Little Brother but the weather was not kind and I only saw the lambs and calves from the window.  Little Brother's wife did have the bright idea of some photos so here you are - The HD3QBEM et al
I read a lot of books and did some stitching.   However, on reflection I think I may have been over optimistic to think I would finish all three projects I took.
The nametag is done and will hopefully be constructed this weekend.
I started on the Baby Blue "envelope" design by Lynn Nicoletti.

The United Kingdom emblem design also got started.  
These are all stitched from stash so there is a feel-good factor involved here :-)
Yesterday, the first day home from holiday, was devoted to unpacking, laundry and a jig-saw puzzle. Of course!   A 1000 piece jigsaw is on The List and there are only a few days remaining so the pressure is on.   The HD3QBEM is of course no use at these visual pursuits so it was me, myself and I!   This morning after breakfast I finished it.   Now what do you think the last piece of the puzzle was?   Not the sparkling sapphire ring.   Not the pearly white teeth.   Not the tiara.   No, it was a piece of Prince William's balding pate :-)
Apres Jigsaw, I made a concerted effort to complete the Spring Cleaning in the Kitchen (all done!) and so crossed another item off another list.  Then this afternoon, the HD3QBEM and I crossed another item off the list and played tourist in our own city by riding the circle line, known here as the Outerlink Bus.   It was fun and we both enjoyed it, even if we embarrassed ourselves with this selfie.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Blooming Roses

Can you hear the Happy Dance?
Today I completed the Ring O Roses Sewing Pocket.   Despite a certain lack of precise detail in the construction notes, this went together well and I am very happy with it.   I had wanted a sewing bag just big enough to carry the necessities to Guild meetings and now I have one.
I did put a double cord as the single specified in the instructions seemed lopsided to me.   Each cord took two hanks of DMC floss!   And, in my case, two hour long walks to the local Bernina Store (closest stockist of said floss) as I didn't get enough first trip.   Then I made the second cord too thick and too short, so spent another 30 minutes hanging over the balustrade untwisting a twisted cord:-(   All is well now and I am happy.
The bottom is the Ring O Roses so not immediately visible, rather a sort of pleasant secret for the stitcher:-)
Spring Cleaning is losing its attraction, dressmaking is between garments at present and I am pleased that the HD3QBEM and I go to Little Brother's this weekend as I am now getting bored.   This morning I had a look at the JobSeek website and reassured myself that there are suitable jobs for which I can apply - after I complete my promised month's holiday.   I need to cross the remainder of my jobs off my list and the next is to cut the HD3QBEM's finger nails so I'm off to do that now.   And the Hexagon runner is screaming for attention..... my afternoon should be fruitfully occupied.