Monday, 31 August 2015

Long hiatus

I had a comment on a previous post this morning and I was a little ashamed to see that it has been over 2 years since my last post.  The last couple of years have been filled with all sorts of things to keep me occupied, both happy and sad.

Unfortunately my dear Dad passed away in June 2014.

He'd had poor health for some time and following minor surgery in May, he never fully recovered.  Dad had spent his final few years in a nursing home and had been well cared for in his time there.  In his last few weeks he had been in hospital and we managed to get him back to the nursing home for his last few days.  The nurses and care assistants were amazing and I couldn't have wished for better care for him.  It has felt like the end of an era for me in many ways, as during Dad's last few days, I was also finishing my dissertation for my MSc.  I had finished it a couple of days before he passed away and I was so glad to have been able to tell him that I'd finally finished.

I graduated in August last year and now that all my studies have finished, I've no idea how I managed to fit it in alongside working and stitching!

In stitching news, the Mirabilia retreat up in Bakewell mentioned in my previous post has become an annual event and I attended the third one in April this year.  I've made so many good friends through the UK Mirabilia stitchers who all seem to try and enable me at the drop of a hat!  At the Gala night awards at this years retreat, I won the award for having the largest stash of hand dyed fabric.  I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing!

I also went to the Crafty Kitten fabrics 5th anniversary retreat in Bideford, Devon in June this year.  Another excuse to get up to mischief with my stitching gals!

I've had a few stitching finishes over the past couple of years, but as always, not as many as I would have liked!  I finished Chatelaine's Taj Mahal Mandala in January, a project I'd started 7 years previously and my first Chat finish.  It is stitched on Lakeside Linen's Amethyst linen (discontinued).

I finished two variations of AAN's Champagne stitched as anniversary gifts for my brother & SIL and my sister and BIL.  This is one of the two stitched for a Ruby wedding anniversary.

I finished my Rose of Sharon conversion and added a silk ribbon rose to her hair and beads to the top of her bodice.

And earlier this month I started a SAL with 3 stitching friends.  We are stitching Ink Circle's Bramble and the Rose.  I'm stitching 1 over 1 full cross using 'Galaxy' silk by Thread Pickerz on Crafty Kitten's Sept 2014 Limited Edition jazlyn fabric.

The design is monochromatic but the silk has shades of yellow, orange, purple and teal in, offset by a deep grey/black.  I love how it is stitching up so far and have nearly finished page 1 of 9.

It's absolutely pouring down with rain here today, unlike yesterday when although it was cloudy, it was still quite warm.  We went on a trip to Amberley Working Museum near Arundel, West Sussex and had a great day looking at the exhibits.

They have all sorts there - displays of old electronics, machines, woodworking, masonry and we got to have a trip on the steam train too.

The weather seems pretty much set in for the day I think.  A good day to be cosy in front of a film or two with some stitching for me!  Happy stitching.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Stitchers and squealers!

I've just come back from an amazing weekend with some lovely new friends I've made through an offshoot of the Mirabilia board on Facebook.  Around 20 of us got together in Bakewell to stitch, chat, eat, drink and add to our stash at the first annual Mirabilia UK stitcher's retreat (now named the UK Mirabilia Stitchers & Squealers due to all the squeals of excitement)!  There were so many talented stitchers and we all took our Mirabilia finishes along with us to display, so there was a gorgeous gallery at the top of the Bakewell Town Hall stairs.

Kate from Sparklies was there with her boxes of hand dyed fabric and Zarina from Hawkins Hobbies with Mirabilia kits.  I have been making scissor fobs recently and had a few requests for fobs over the weekend, so didn't get a great deal of stitching done!

We also had fun with mystery boxes (10 cryptic items gathered from a list provided) and enjoyed some delicious cakes we had baked or brought with us.

I'm feeling very enabled at the moment and want to start stitching about a dozen or so designs!  I am looking forward to next year's retreat already.

I've been stitching away on Nora's letter S, which I finished:

And more recently I've started on Rose of Sharon which is my own colour conversion:

I love Nora's new Gypsy Mermaid design as well, so think there may be another start on that in the not too distant future ;o)

I have oodles of uni work to do at the moment, though year 2 should be finished in about 6 weeks, so if I've passed everything I need to, hopefully I will have a summer of stitching to look forward to.  Can't wait!!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Got the bug...

The stitchy bug that is!  I seem to have become re-obsessed with stitching, though it could be a bit of a distraction to keep me away from my studies ;o)

I've got a couple of happy dances to share, so this post is a little photo heavy.  The first is Forest Goddess, who I finished early in the new year:

I love her bling!  She's stitched on Silkweaver's Tranquility Belfast linen with skin stitched over 1.

My other happy dance is a framing happy dance.  This is the first project in all my 20 years of cross stitching that I've ever had framed for myself - all other framed finishes have been gifts for others, so I am pleased to share photos of framed Midnight Hunting with you:

The frame looks grey, but is brushed with metallic silver and goes well with the silver inner mount inbetween the two blue mounts.  I thought my dragon was handsome anyway and now he looks magnificent!  ;o)

I've even had a new start and bought the chart & Crescent Colours for Nora Corbett's Letter S with some Christmas money.  As Nora's chart says that S is for Samantha, I just couldn't resist!

This was taken a couple of weeks ago and I've done a bit more since then.  The fabric is an old PTP colour - Fantasia on Belfast linen.

I've not done as much stitching as I'd like recently due to uni work - during Jan, Feb and March there seems to be around six things I have to work on and submit.  I like to try and relax in the evening with a little stitching though, even if I only get a dozen or so stitches in.  Today I need to work on my assignment on Performance Management, for which I did lots of research yesterday and need to get typing today.  I'd best get on with it now, so I can get to do some stitching later!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Long awaited happy dance!

Hello folks.  It's been quite a while - I've been studying hard and managed to get through the first year of my degree ok without anything being referred.  To my amazement, I even passed both exams!  Year two is rather more intense, but I enjoyed my summer break and managed to pick up my stitching for the first time in ages.  I have to limit my stitching time as I get frequent neck/shoulder problems which seem to be exacerbated by stitching.  Nonetheless, I endured and managed to celebrate my first happy dance in a very long time!
Isn't he lovely?!  It seems such a long time ago that I started this one - 2005, so a mere 7 years to finish!  He is stitched on SMF's Shimmering Aphrodite jazlyn fabric.  I would never ever use jazlyn again - it has to be the most appalling fabric and so difficult to establish where the holes to put your needle through are.  The design incorporates more quarter stitches than I have ever stitched in my entire stitching history of 20 years, which is why I think it's taken me so long to finish.  He's one gorgeous dragon though and I love the finished design.

I'm on a mini mission (inbetween uni assignments) to rack up some more finishes, so Forest Goddess who hasn't seen the light of day for a while is currently on the Q-Snaps.  I promised myself one new start for each two finishes I achieve and as she is probably the closest to being finished of all my other WIPs, maybe I'll have the excitement of a new start soon!

I've become a bit of a baker alongside everything else and have enjoyed savouring The Great British Bake Off over the last couple of months.  I picked up a couple of the books when it finished and have poured through each and every last page.  I can't wait to try some of the recipes!  I've been on a calorie controlled diet the last two months though, so cake is off the menu for a while ;o)  I've managed to lose 21lbs so far and am hoping to keep going to lose a fair bit more.  I'd never tried calorie counting in all my years of dieting and it seems to be working for me.  I was inspired by the Hairy Bikers/Dieters programme in the summer and thought they did so well, losing 3 stone each in 3 months and considered perhaps calorie counting was worth a try.  So far, so good!

Best get back to the Q-Snaps now as Forest Goddess is shouting at me....

Monday, 24 October 2011

Jammin', no stitching and studying!

Oh dear. It's been an absolute age since I last blogged. Following Heather's comment earlier on my last post over a year ago, I thought it was time to pop in & say hi.

I've not stitched in ages for many reasons - a) I've had very limited free time and b) I've developed problems with my neck and shoulder as well as having RSI in my wrist and elbow. I've had two very painful flare ups of my neck/shoulder problem this year and had some physio which didn't help much. The doctor said it's just something I will have to put up with and I need to try and minimise the activities that are the cause, which unfortunately seems to be using the computer (not so good for work!) or stitching. I have picked up my stitching a few times, though can't work on it for the amount of hours that I used to and so over the last year have sold off about half of my stash as I know I'm never going to be able to stitch it all. When I get my stitching mojo back, I want to concentrate in short bursts on the pieces I really love rather than pieces I only like.

Heather, yes, I've been busy making lots of jams, jellies and chutneys again this autumn. My favourites so far are Spiced apple & cider jelly, quince jelly and caramelised red onion chutney. We also have several different fruit gins/vodkas on the go - blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, cherry and black/redcurrant. These need to be bottled up soon as they've been steeping for a few months so will be just in time for Christmas gifts. Earlier in the year I made marmalades and lemon curd too. We gave most of our home made goodies away last Christmas - this was most of what we made:

We made lots of different things last year - pickled onions, mulled pears, sloe gin, elderberry vinegar, jams, jellies, chutneys... but I guess the piece de resistence was 'Notella' - we attempted a version of Nutella made from foraged hazelnuts which we dubbed Notella! It saw off my 30 year old food processor in the process and was a lot of hard work for one jar of produce. This year we've concentrated on chutneys as I have grown my own veg in the garden and jellies. Last weekend we picked the last crop of quinces and cooking apples. The quinces need to be used quickly, though the apples will store for a few months.

We grew veg in the garden for the first time this year. I made the mistake of sowing 15 courgette plants and of course, all of them grew! I don't even like courgettes and didn't enjoy the resulting glut so gave lots away. We also had tomatoes, peppers, chillies, onions, squash, sweetcorn, beetroot, French beans and lettuces along with the fruit from the trees in the garden too. Lots of things to learn for next year and we need to work on feeding our crops as sadly some of the produce was very small indeed!

Other than my burgeoning farmer's market, my other big news is that I started studying part time on day release at uni 5 weeks ago, which is being supported by my employers. I have enrolled on the Personnel & Development MSc, which is a three year course. I've worked within HR for most of my working life, though without the industry's recognised qualification and now the time is right for me to fit this in with my life. It may only be 5 weeks in, but I'm enjoying it so far, despite having homework and two assignments to complete over the next few months. I'm dreading the exams at the end of May/beginning of June mind you...!

Hope everyone is ok out there. I promise not to leave it so long next time ;o)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Stitchy update

Hi everyone! Just dropped in for a little stitchy update. In the last few months I've worked a little on Snow Princess:
Look - she has a hand! I've also worked a little on Watergarden:

My time has been occupied with a new interest in foraging and preserve making. I am lucky enough to live close-by to areas that have wild fruit trees/bushes. So, we have been busy making jams, fresh fruit pies, cordials, pickled beetroot, pickled shallots, cheese, hazelnut nougat, Nutella (we call ours Notella).... quite a production line! This weekend we are making chilli oil, quince jelly and two types of chutney. We're planning to do little Christmas boxes of home-made preserves for friends and family, though we will probably manage to keep a few jars of goodies to see us through until next year ;o)

I'm enjoying my culinary adventures so much, I'm considering starting a foody blog... watch this space!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

More progress on The Guardian

Yes, I'm still around, honest! Just not been in a blogging frame of mind.

I've made a little more progress on The Guardian, though I have to admit that I've not stitched on this one for at least a month. Snow Princess went back on the Q-Snaps a couple of weeks ago, but it's very slow progress indeed. Never mind - Wimbledon is just around the corner and I'm very excited to be going up to Centre Court on Monday where we are in the 3rd row, right behind where the players & umpire sits... at least I think we are! Either that, or we're opposite them. We shall see. Happy stitching everyone :o)

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Guardian update

As promised, here is an up to date photo of my progress on The Guardian:

Isn't he looking magnificent! I'm working on his chest area at the moment and then most of the rest is half stitch. I'm stitching this for Dad to accompany his African Lions I stitched a few years ago, but I think he could be waiting a while yet....! Happy stitching folks :o)

Monday, 1 February 2010


It's been, er, a bit of a long time hasn't it! Sorry folks - busy life both at work and also at home. Happy Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy February!!!

All is still going well with Mr X. He has been my absolute knight in shining armour by trekking on foot into town when we had all that snow (a 20 min walk either way on a good day) to get groceries for not only me, but my two neighbours as well. He has also climbed into my loft space to set mouse traps and then removed what was caught (euch - one of the down sides of living in the countryside!). He has equipped me with his snow boots so that I could walk without falling over in the snow and when I did manage to slip over on some evil ice, landing on my elbow he looked after me. He has repaired everything in my little flat that has broken or not been working properly, and in my car too. He even narrowly missed being flung through a full length window at dad's a couple of weeks ago by the heavy wardrobe he was trying to move down the stairs on his own. The wardrobe decided it wanted to fall on its side & speed down the stairs. Thankfully Mr X is very quick on his feet and although he caught the full brunt of the wardrobe, he managed to move quick enough to stay upright and towards the window frame, avoiding the window. I asked him the next day if I was worth all the hassle, all the ups and downs (literally!) and without a second's thought he said yes. Awwww :o))) This is us on New Year's Eve. I think he looks very cheeky in this one!

I've also lost a stone in weight since we met, which can only be a good thing. We've discovered we both like walking in the countryside so I've now got a fine pair of walking boots & when life isn't quite so busy, we hope to get lots of walking in. Lots of exercise and I'm sure another stone will drop off before too long ;o)

There has even been a bit of stitching going on! I've been working on The Guardian and will share my progress soon. Happy stitching everyone!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Drum roll please.....

I guess I should share a couple of photos of me with my wonderful man. I don't want to parade him in the, er... limelight though, so he shall henceforth be known as 'Mr X' - there is an X in his name somewhere, so I thought it appropriate ;o)

This was us (and a windmill!) just a couple of weeks after we met. He's doing his best Indiana Jones impression I think.

And this was us last night at a Christmas classical concert - an annual charity event at church by the King's Chamber Orchestra. It was magical, romantic and we both enjoyed it thoroughly! Mr X looked very smart in his suit, but is also sporting a beanie hat due to shaving all his hair off!! Not really the right time of year for such a dramatic new hair style, so we have to make sure his head keeps warm and snug :o)

We went to visit Dad at the home on Saturday & he told me that the staff have asked him to be Father Christmas for the residents Christmas party! He has got lots of very white hair and a large tummy, so I think he could be a very good choice indeed. As I can't get to the Christmas party at the home myself, I'm hoping they will be able to send me lots of photos afterwards.

Still no stitching being done I'm afraid. I'm hoping that I will get an evening to myself before long so I can sit, stitch and totally relax. I have many more Christmas cards to write out first though.... Happy stitching everyone! :o)