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.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Kogin and Cross Stitch

 It’s about time for another catch up - at least to record progress on my stitching.   Currently I am obsessed with Kogin and with some of what’s left of the red Lugana I am making two tray mats.   The DBEM and I usually have our evening meal on a tray in front of the television so we will appreciate a new cloth each for that.   There are many stitches in these so this is a long term project and we will continue to use our old ones meanwhile :) I am stitching one "diamond" on each mat first as the book needs to go back to the library and I can then copy my stitching to complete the mats.

Many years ago I found the instructions for a folding etui on a French blog and carefully kept the instructions.   

Then more recently I burrowed down a Pinterest hole and found this.   

So I have started a new sewing/stitching/project bag.   In DMC930 I am stitching over one thread of fabric on 28 count Cashel linen so this too will not be a quick finish.

And the weather has turned bitterly cold and my head and ears get really cold on my daily walk so I am knitting myself a beret in left over yarn.   I’m not a fan of knitting in the round and as this is definitely a “ needs must” project I’m going to knit it flat and put a seam up the back.  

Today was sunny (but still bitterly cold) and I managed to get my lawns mowed and also a quick pulling of weeds in the vegetable garden.   There are carrots ready and broccoli and silverbeet coming on apace.   The leeks are doing well but it is a slower race with those!   In the flower garden I still have roses blooming at the same time as the daffodils are in bud.   Our weather has certainly been strange this year.   Next week I am scheduled for my pacemaker lead replacement (finally I hope) and so won't be mowing lawns or doing gardening for a couple of weeks.   I'm working my way through a "must do before the 30th" list of jobs.   Tomorrow the weatherman has promised fine but cold so I may be outdoors again and the baking and other indoor jobs can wait until the wet weekend.

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   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....