Thursday, 3 June 2021

New month, new resolutions and a new start

 Well, where to begin.   It seems ages since I have updated this blog so here we are...

First, the Kogin coasters are completed and I am pleased with them.    Next I shall begin a set of placemats for my own use but not in red!   I am most definitely a blue person so it shall be the traditional indigo navy and white for me.   

Nearly two weeks has passed since my last post and the DBEM has been for her various appointments and  has her “warrant of fitness” for 3 months so this week I have some time to myself.   We have been to the Optometrist and are waiting on new spectacles which have sharpened up the little sight that the DBEM has remaining.   And we are waiting for an appointment with the Opthalmologist too as the right eye needs looking at.   So it was a good and bad report but the DBEM is still happy she can continue with her knitting so all good.

Little Sister came up last weekend and stayed while I went to a very interesting embroidery class.  This 'Grecian Urn' is constructed of surface embroidery stitches converted to counted work so I had fun.   But I have to confess that my plan on learning about colour combination didn't really come to fruition.   The variegated thread I chose for the initial row of 'spider web wheels' set the colours and that was that.   However I am pleased with the effect so far.   What do you think?   

By the way - thank you Mary for the introduction to https://stitchpalettes.com/   I shall certainly be making use of this in the future:-)

And I have made good progress on the Acorn Etui and even stitched a few of the detached buttonhole leaves.   The realisation is that this will take a loooong time to stitch -  those leaves are not conducive to quick progress.   But there is no hurry;-)

And that's all for tonight.





Thursday, 20 May 2021

A new start

 Once again the DBEM and associated care have interrupted my plans and stitching progress has been slow.

The 14 year old television decided to stop showing pictures.   Sound was good and all other functions OK but no picture.   So after a few days I succumbed and Saturday afternoon a new one was delivered and installed.   So I have settled back to the regular life rhythm of The Chase followed by the news broadcast and then I hit the off switch.  

Deruta Sfilato has come off the frame and I have only the antique hem stitch to do.   This was a trial piece and would not pass any close inspection but I plan to mount it on a piece of plain silk and keep it in my drawer.   Later on I would like to try again and see if I can improve my technique.  I am happy that I managed to follow instructions and teach myself a new technique.

So I began the Acorn Etui and rather than “begin at the very beginning” I started with the Acorn Cap for the back and rapidly grew bored with the honeycomb stitch.   Effective it might be but there is little scope for imagination.  Now I have started in the back acorn itself and despite the lettering being stitched one over one, I am enjoying the variegation of the floss and am happy that it will all look well when finished. Thus I have started on parts two and three of the instructions which are by far the simplest but give me a good idea of the completed size.   


And to show you the 'verse' and the cute little acorns.   A compound monogram goes in the box and the year below it so guess what I will be stitching next.

And as a palate cleanser I have stitched some more on the Kogin Coasters.   I rather like these and hope I don't "fluff" the construction.  Somehow I never have a great deal of confidence at that stage of the stitching :-)

At the end of the month our Embroiderers Guild have a two day class which I have decided to do.   Little Sister is coming for the weekend so that the DBEM has company while I am out.   I have done the required preparation for the class and have sorted all my ‘non DMC threads’ into colour groups.   At this class I hope to learn something of the science of how to choose colours that harmonise rather than clash.   Up till now it has all been rather hit and miss for me and that could well be the reason I prefer to follow instructions rather venture into unknown territory.   I’m hoping for some increase in colour knowledge from this weekend class.    At the end of August there is another class scheduled at which Dorset Buttons will be taught but I’m not sure I will go to that one as it’s to be held during the week.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Progress on all fronts

 First up a confession -  I have not fallen in love with Deruta Sfilato :-)   However I am delighted to have managed to decipher the instructions and to translate the drawings into linen and thread. There are four solitary 'blossom' to go in each corner and then the filling stitch to complete this piece.   An antique hemstitch border completes the piece which I think will just live in my drawer.   But all in all I am pleased and after sufficient break I may try another piece or even another style of drawn thread work. There are several more pieces of fine linen in my stash which are very suitable for this type of stitching.

And I have started a set of Kogin coasters for a Christmas Gift.   The recipient doesn't know I have a blog so I'm quite safe showing you this.   All five will be the same design and will be stitched into squares although I have yet to decide on a backing fabric.   In Japan there are usually five in any set of kitchen or house wares so I will make five despite the fact that New Zealand generally has sets of six or twelve.  Japanese stitching needs to adhere to Japanese convention I think.

I have the fabric and threads ready for an Acorn Needlework Etui -  the chart for this was in four successive issues of Fine Lines back in 2003!!  Does anyone else remember this magazine?    I was so sorry when it went extinct.    For all these years I have kept the chart and suitable linen so at long last I am about to push the start button on this project.   The first piece is 27" by 9" on honeycomb stitch which forms the bag and creates the Acorn Cap for the top of the etui.   Confused?  I promise to show progress photos once I begin.   I don't intend to put the HNG in the branches of the tree either -  more branches would be better I think.

The instructions prescribe Gloriana threads but in the end the cost of obtaining those was prohibitive and The Ribbon Rose was able to provide a Threadworx alternative that I am happy with so I'm almost organised enough to begin.   I'm looking forward to this one -  but the Deruta needs to get finished first otherwise I will have too many projects on at one time.   Currently I have three in my basket and that is really two too many for my peace of mind :-)

Sunday, 25 April 2021

On to the next project

This week I finished the Kogin for the fifth little bag.   The DBEM will testify that I got into a good rhythm with this and the speed increased.   But lesson learned -  I will not be attempting Kogin on fine 36 count linen again.   In my fabric stash there is plenty of much coarser linen and I will use that.   Next up I plan on making placemats.  Watch this space.

With some difficulty I traced off one side of the pattern for the Noodle Box Bag and have stitched it. 

There are just the gold bugle beads to go at the upturns of the pagoda roofs but they can wait until the very end.   I'm using a Perle 12 from Gumnut Threads as once again I was determined to use only stash.  Isn't it amazing what limited access to a specialty needlework shop can do?  Ha ha.   I really desperately miss my Ribbon Rose (LNS in Auckland) and even more so as I am contemplating another big project which requires Gloriana threads.   I'm sure that Ribbon rose would have something suitable to substitute if I were able to visit in person.   I've been researching on line but the international post and packaging from Needle in a Haystack are extortionate so I'm thinking about alternatives.

And the Deruta Sfilato (Italian Drawn Threadwork) is coming along.   The first attempt at drawing the threads resulted in disaster.  I had miscounted:(   However that piece is being used as a "doodle cloth" to test out the stitches and I started again and was more careful and the second time it has worked.   

The daisy in the centre is now complete and I am ready to put in stars and a net filling.   I am enjoying this very much and forsee more Drawn Threadwork in my future.

Tomorrow is a public holiday here in New Zealand but that will make little difference to my normal routine of life.   This week looks like being rather busy with DBEM's medical appointments.   I'll be back soon.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Not much to report

 Ten days have passed and in many ways I feel I have little to show for it.   The DBEM has required a lot of help with her knitting and there seemed to be scant time for me to pick up my needle.   Several days sheer frustration drove me out for long walks, only to return home to find yet more knitting repairs waiting for me.   At this stage I do not think I will be taking up knitting as a main hobby any time soon!

There really should be a support group for ‘carers of elderly parents’.  Sometimes we need a holiday or at least a break of more than a couple of hours at a time.  Nuff said:-)

Anyway, I have managed to complete half of the Kogin for the fifth bag and despite the foolishness of attempting this on 36 count linen I am rather pleased with the effect achieved.   My monthly stitching group friends were all very complimentary at our recent "show and tell" so I cam home inspired to speed up and complete this.   The next two bags will be Assisi embroidery I decided and I have a lovely grape coloured silk to use for those.  

And I successfully found a New Zealand embroiderer who can assist me with the Italian Deruta Sfilato.  I’m waiting on the mail to bring me some printed assistance and can then make more headway on that.

I have another hospital appointment on 30th April and hope to hear some more news then - meanwhile there are still limits on my driving and frustrations on every hand.   

So it's over and out tonight.   I have set the TV to record Prince Phillip's funeral and I'm off to bed soon.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Update and new project

 It was a poet from my favourite Yet-To-Be-Visited destination who once said “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley an’ lea’e us naught but grief and pain”and I certainly agree.  I’ve had rather a week.

Surgery to replace a faulty pacemaker lead was scheduled for last Wednesday and I duly presented myself at the required time and was met at the theatre door by the surgeon.   A handsome man with a full head of executive grey hair, he was as British as The Empire and such a lovely accent.  I rather fell for him!!  Until he told me he wasn’t prepared to go ahead with the surgery.  What?!   Apparently my heart has complex anatomy and the hospital here is not equipped for any of the catastrophic events he could foresee so his opinion was to wait, be referred to Auckland Hospital’s specialist cardiac unit and have the procedure done safely up there, miles away from family support.   At this point he was not My Favourite at all but there was nothing for it but to swallow my totally engulfing disappointment and make my way home to wait. 

And so I am waiting and endeavouring to use the time wisely.   Four of the little bags have now been completed although for number four I had insufficient Perle thread to do the whipping of the wave stitch but as the recipients are not, to my knowledge embroiderers, this will not be a big problem.

Some years ago I purchased a book Deruta Sfilato which despite being written in Italian is wonderfully illustrated and thus I hope to be able to teach myself.   

So I am in the process of edging a square in buttonhole stitch and then will withdraw threads to begin making one of these lovely looking flowers.   What I will do with the finished piece is unknown but I am looking forward to this adventure.  

 Meanwhile the DBEM continues to use up her existing stash of yarn which means I am becoming ever more expert in picking up dropped stitches and repairing errors.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Almost but not quite

 I have been busy working on the third bag and for this one I used up some left over variegated blue Perle #8 and stitched it in Sollersom - roughly based on the pattern in an Inspirations magazine.   Yes, I do like it and am going to stitch another (with some variations) in some more left over Perle #8. Basically a whipped wave stitch,  this is rather effective.   

But I'm not going to have time to complete the bag this week as tomorrow I go into hospital to have my pacemaker lead replaced and stitching will have to go on hold for a day or two.   I have stocked up on books on my iPad as well as going to the library for a good stock of reading material.   I've finally been able to get my hands on the latest Elly Griffiths book, "The Postscript Murders" and have made a start.   I was rather taken to read this on page 9

I've never thought of my Allbirds as expensive -  perhaps that's because they are so comfortable.  Between us the DBEM and I have several pair :)   Today I wore Natural Black merino.

Well that's all from me at present.   I shall be back soon, hopefully with some stitching to show.


Sunday, 21 March 2021

One finish and two more on the way

 One bag is finished completely ribbon and all.   I am well pleased.

And with the momentum from that I started on another in Kogin work = Japanese darning.  But this is B.O.R.I.N.G !!!!   I like the effect but it is going to take many hours to complete and I lost interest quickly.   I must admit though, that the fine linen and the Au Ver A Soie silk thread are a great combination.  

So I started another the same as the first and merely changed the colourway around a little.   This is coming together well and has relieved the boredom.    I shall go back to the Kogin when this is complete.   And then I think the fourth one will be in traditional blackwork.

So far so good.   I am happy that the linen is being used to good purpose and I'm enjoying the finished product.   Two more Christmas ornaments are almost completed so I'll show those next time.

Any spare time is spent repairing the mistakes in the HDEM's knitting.   I took her to the optometrist last week and it appears that there is little that can be done to effect any improvement and she is almost at the point of deciding that once the current stock of wool yarn is all knitted up she may call it a day.   I will be happy if she gives up the knitting as I don't really enjoy it and am having to do quite a bit now to assist her progress.   We have discovered that she can operate the iPad to stop and start audiobooks and this is giving her access (through the public library) to a better selection of books than those provided by the Blind Foundation for their Talking Books.  So there are pluses and there are minuses:-)   All the medical professionals we see tell her "you're doing very well for 90 years old" to which she smiles and later tells me 'they would say that wouldn't they.   Wait till they reach this age!' 

Until then....

Monday, 8 March 2021

Finishes and new starts

 The Gift of Stitching biscornu is now fully finished.   I have to say the unusual geometry of this almost defeated me at the sewing together stage and there were two episodes of reverse stitching but the end result was worth the angst.   I rather like this and the way that four smaller squares make up one face.   My  display cabinet now has another resident :)



And I have made another start.  It was the seemingly vast quantity of high count linen in my stash that inspired spurred nudged me into action.   If I don’t stitch this up now I won’t be able to see to use it and that would be an expensive mistake.   So out came a piece of 36 count Edinburgh linen and I tacked out the sizes for five small bags.   The first is started - a mixtures of stitches but mainly cross stitch and beads. I’m determined this will be all stitched from stash so as I don’t have beads the correct or near enough colours I used Smyrna crosses.  So far so good but definitely hard on the eyes.  I'm doing the hemstitched channel for the draw cord at present.  The 36 count linen doesn't look so fine in the close up shot of the hemstitching but believe me it is !!


A recent visit to the library led me to the magazine displays and I found  a copy of Homespun, an Australian handwork magazine.   I was drawn to the odd shape “noodle bag” in the copy I borrowed and think that I might use my piece of 50 count linen for this   So in the wet weather of the last couple of days I added "measure out for noodle bag” to the list and to my joy found that I have ample fabric.   In the fullness of time you might yet see the bag appear on this blog :)

 But there is sewing to finish, baking to do, cleaning to complete etc etc   I should be busy all day tomorrow as today I spent mowing the lawn and tidying up the garden -  flowers and vegetables.   The broccoli seedlings have their own little 'house' of insect proof mesh to stop the white butterflies laying eggs for hungry green caterpillars :-)   My neighbour kindly gave me some fresh sweet corn today and I enjoyed it with my dinner tonight.   He has a very large garden which reminds me of Mr McGregor's so much so that I expect to see Peter Rabbit appear at any minute.   He grows more variety in his garden than I do so he gives me some of his surplus and I bake him scones and biscuits -  works well for both of us :)

Saturday, 20 February 2021

An overdue update

 It has been a while since I updated but in reality not much has been accomplished.   Five of the Christmas ornaments are now fully finished but even that didn’t get my mojo back.   In desperation I trawled through my Gift of Stitching magazines and found this.   

The unusual geometry of the biscornu appealed.  I intend to back stitch all around the sewing line so I can whip stitch it together more easily.

And I have made a start on my 3D pohutukawa flower.   The leaves are done ready to cut out and back with felt.   I now need to get started on the rich red stamens (pistils?) of the actual flower.   Creative 3D work such as this is way outside my comfort zone but I attend a monthly group whose purpose is to show and tell finishes and WIPs from the month.   The others are all wildly artistic and creative so ..... :) One lady who attends is currently stitching a ‘fabric paper’ from which she will fold an origami hummingbird.   Each section is meticulously planned out so that feathers, beak, legs etc come in correct colours and places.   This is to be her entry in an exhibition where the theme is ‘From the Simple to the Complex’.  It is fun seeing what the others do but my pohutukawa will be my first and last foray into this unknown territory.   I shall remain happily in 'counted work' territory.

Next I am going to attempt a small zipper purse made from 1 inch squares stitched together with feather stitch.   If successful I will have another use for my sewing fabric scraps :)

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Getting ready for Christmas

 I’ve yet to decide on a ‘proper project’ for this year so meanwhile have tagged several Christmas ornaments from the 2020 Just CrossStitch ornament issue and have made a start on them.   

This pointsettia will be finished as a flat round and have silver cord and hanger.

I intend to finish Joy to the World as a flat rectangle with a thin ribbon to edge it and a broader matching ribbon as a hanger.

The diamond was three by three in the original chart but I scaled down as I didn't want such a big ornament to finish.   I think a small padded pillow finish for this one.

And the last one for this batch is the Festive Jersey.   I intend to make a small wire coat hanger from florist wire to attach at the neck so that it can hang on the tree with a ribbon - possibly a narrow white ribbon I think.

This is a great way to economically use up scraps of linen (of which I seem to have many) and floss from stash.   I still have spare fabric on the left hand side and will make a couple more ornaments before I call it quits with this piece of linen.   

And I admit to a certain feeling of righteous satisfaction at making full use of a small scrap of linen and in having a head start on this year's ornaments.   But still no decision on the 2021 project :(



Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Beading is Over

The Mill Hill Bead and Button kit is now finished.    I backed it with a piece of felt stitched on with a running stitch in toning blue DMC as this piece is destined for a shelf in my display cabinet so will not be framed.


I have to admit it looks quite splendid now all the decorations are on ;)

And today the only named rose in my garden bloomed -  "Mum in a Million" - so here is the DBEM holding 'her rose'. 



Thursday, 7 January 2021

Beading will not become my new obsession

 Last year I won a Mill Hill Beaded Kit as a prize at Embroiderers Guild and immediately felt the pressure to get this stitched ready for the Show and Tell after the summer holiday break.   I didn't immediately feel the love for this kit.   Perforated Paper, Beads (lots of beads) etc etc   But I followed the excellent instructions and eventually reached the point of sorting out all the colours of the beads from the mixed packs.   Then a day or two of stagnation before today deciding to sit down at the table and bead.  So I did.  A good part of the morning and a good part of the afternoon.   Just as well it was not really the weather for gardening:)

And, this is progress so far.   The weather forecast is for rain tomorrow so I am hopeful that this piece will be completed.   As I don't intend to frame it or use it I will be gluing stitching a piece of felt to the back and placing this at the back of the display cabinet.

And now the confession -  I am a little over absorbed and would almost be persuaded to stay up through the night to get this finished.  Not that I love it or even really like it but I have to admit that the beads make it shine and add a certain pizazz to this piece.

Lessons learned -  I will not be adding beading to my list of crafts nor the supplies to my stash.  And it is not a good idea to try to stitch on perforated paper with beads if you have a splint on your right thumb and are right hand dominant :(


Sunday, 3 January 2021

Happy New Year and...

 Happy New Year.   I have trawled through tidied up my stash cupboards and found two forgotten WIP.   One I have decided to continue to forget and the other has been placed in the queue :)   But before I can attend to that or even think about starting anything new I have the temperature chart to mount for hanging, the hardanger apron to complete and the dratted Mill Hill kit won as a prize at Guild to finish off.

I am making good progress on the stitching and now comes the dreaded part -  the beading.

Why oh why do Mill Hill put the beads in mixed bags and expect the stitcher to sort them out only providing generic colour descriptions and the warning "some colours are very similar".   Correct!!!! 


Some of the colours are very similar.   Tonight I spent ages sorting out one bag which is supposed to contain six different colours.   In the artificial light I could only find five colours and am assuming a) from the quantities,  I have mixed up the blue and purple and b) the light yellow and the apricot are probably requiring further sorting out.

Well, that's another job for tomorrow's list.