Thursday, 31 December 2015

I'm Done With Stitching!

Well, stitching in 2015 that is!

A few days ago I put in the final stitches in to my final finish of the year, Catherine Agnes by Indigo Rose, gifted to me by the lovely Dana (you may know her as Parksfarm here and there) and she was right - I loved (almost!) every stitch!

Catherine Agnes by Indigo Rose Complete
I stitched this using 28ct Quaker and a mixture of Jodyri Antique and Regular silks (with a Caron Wildflowers used just to outline the cutwork) and it was packed full of speciality stitches (closeups of which you can see here if you are interested).  It did include the stitch that a lot of stitchers love to hate (except the crazy ones that love them, not mentioning any names you know who you are!) and I was very proud of myself that I powered through and did them at great cost to a now very bent straw needle - Bullion Knots, 28 to be exact !!!!
Bullion Knots and Eyelets
Not perfect but the best I've managed thus far!
Now that piece is completed I have the final results of my stitching for 2015!  With a clean slate for the start of 2015 I managed to have 50 starts and 50 finishes - more finishes than in the past three years combined!
I didn't start the year intending to have that many finishes, I knew I would have at least 27: 12 freebie projects, 12 hardangers and the 3 medium size projects I'd picked last year. 
The number of finishes would explain how I managed to smash my Operation Threadporn goal total!  At the start of the year I wanted to use 12% - 15% of my hand dyed thread collection in my projects, but was dubious as to whether I would ever manage it!  I can now reveal that in 2015 I managed to use 26.43%, which I am chuffed to bits with as when your collection is in the four figures that's a lot of different threads!  I loved stitching from stash, in the truest sense, as 92% of my finishes were stitched from stash - patterns, fabric and thread, changing threads and fabric to suit what I had already.  Of course it helped that I didn't purchase hardly any threads, especially in the latter half of the year - my sister was right, having a percentage as a goal was a real motivator!  The last few months I have only bought #8 and #12 white perle, white #9 beads and black AVAS - all needed for current projects.  The whole challenge really did cure me of my need to own all the threads - I knew my favourites before, but now I'm really sticking to them, quality over quantity and all that.  Consequently I've halved my stash budget for 2016 so as not to be drawn into temptation again!
The other part of Operation Threadporn was to try and fully finish more of the pieces that I stitched, which worked until about halfway through the year, then all I wanted to do was stitch!  The fact I told myself I "had" to do something was probably the reason for my rebellion!  However on the positive side, the 10 FFOs I did have were 10 more than I would have done last year lol!  I'm never going to be a finisher - neither me or my friends that love my stitching have the room in their houses for it to be displayed properly.  As much as I love my stitching, I don't have the room for all the things I finish - so they go in The Drawer where they take up far less space as I am not giving up stitching!  I'm still trying to figure out where I can display ONE of these (and I have many that I want!!) as wall space is already scarce in my little apartment!
The other thing I was keeping tabs on this year was the number of different stitches I used in all my pieces.  I gave up counting sometime in September, by which time I had already used 60 different stitches, so my total for the year will come in at around 70, probably 80+ different stitches used in 2015.  That pretty much confirms that although I am interested in all types of embroidery, its history and technique - counted threadwork is where my heart lies and where it will settle.

So having already discussed my (lack of any real) plans for 2016 here, I leave you with four little teaser shots for the projects I've kitted for January - not including Mabel's first piece for her SAL as until I see the design I cannot pick the colours :).  One of them is my New Year's New Start for 2016, by a designer that I have not stitched before and the others to be stitched as and when the mood takes me in January and beyond:


January 2016 New Starts
Answers on a postcard.........
Thank you to everyone that has stopped by my blog this past year and to all of you who comment/email/message me and encourage me in my stitching - I hope you are all having fun planning your new starts for 2016!
Happy Stitching!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Autumn Tree of Stitches

After a lot of cross stitch I was finally ready for some more speciality stitching!  Part of the reason why I like to have several pieces on the go is so that it keeps my interest as I find if I have too much plain cross stitch it drives me crazy, as does too much fiddly stitching, so I like to switch between the two!

Anyway, I've finally finished Summer (Autumn) Tree of Stitches by Abi Gurden and I am so pleased with the way it turned out!  I've wanted to stitch this for the longest time, it's been sat in my stash since its SAL days.  I'm so glad I took this year to actually stitch all those designs that I kept saying I was desperate to stitch but could never find the time in my stitching schedule for some reason.

I won't bore you with endless pictures of each part (there are 12 parts), but if you want to know more details of threads and stitches used for each part, you can see close-ups of all that stuff in my Flickr album.  Here is the finished piece:

Summer (Autumn) Tree of Stitches Complete!
Stitched on Jodyri Designs 28ct Brittney Opal Fall Trees (LE) with Gloriana, AVAS, HDF and Dinky Dyes silks, Caron Wildflowers, PTB and delica beads

I've got a small cross stitch piece on the go from GOSM for easy TV stitching and hopefully this weekend will finally make a start on Catherine Agnes - ugh I hate starting pieces lol!
Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Final Operation Threadporn Finish!

Before I show my final Operation Threadporn finish, here is an update on the goals situation:

  • Finish A Flamestitch - DONE
  • Finish Summer (Autumn) Tree of Stitches 
  • Start and finish my final Autumn/Winter new start - Catherine Agnes by Indigo Rose
  • Complete October, November and December SOTW Hardanger squares - DONE
  • Complete Snow Poem Tree by Erynne Chard (freebie, blog no longer available)  - DONE
  • Complete Winter Solace by By The Bay Needlearts (freebie from a past BTB newsletter) - DONE

  • No stash spends for the remainder of the year unless I run out of AVAS on Flamestitch - still  staying strong, only black AVAS purchased for A Flamestitch
  • Try and properly finish a few things here and there
  • Kit up a few projects from stash in preparation for next year! - DONE

  • So just two projects to carry forward to December, Summer Tree of Stitches and Catherine Agnes to start and finish!

    Here is my finish of Erynne Chards's Snow Tree Poem.  In the end I decided to keep it simple with just one colour of silk and beads, but did go with two colours of metallic as PTB15 is one of my faves and I couldn't resist!
    Snow Poem Tree by Erynne Chard
    It was hard to photograph as it is so sparkly with all the metallic and AB delicas!  The fabric is 28ct Jazlyn Twilight Enchantment by The Crafty Kitten and the threads are Night Smoke 5301 (HDF) and PTB 10 and 15.
    I will write a post at the end of the month on Operation Threadporn, my thoughts and musings on this year long undertaking of mind - including the final tally of threads used for the year of course!
    Thanks for visiting and also to everyone who left a comment on my last post, I really appreciated it!
    Happy Stitching!

    Friday, 27 November 2015

    2016 Stitching Manifesto - The Marie Kondo Method

    Warning:  This is an entirely verbose blogpost, these thoughts have been buzzing around my brain and are written here more for my benefit than for your enjoyment - so please feel free to skip!

    In case you haven't realised, I am one of life's planners.  I love lists and being organised is essential to my wellbeing - I'm one of those tidy home equals a tidy mind freaks :).  The same is very much true with my stitching, I've never caught startitis and designs that require either a large amount of time or money (or both!) are never entered into lightly!  I've also never been one to jump on the bandwagon at the drop of a hat (which is faster then the blink of an eye) and have realised this year that I am not much of a "social" stitcher!  This post will be laying out some thoughts and musings on my plans for next year - so if that type of thing isn't your bag I completely understand!

    2015 saw a feat never to be repeated - I very much doubt I will ever have that many finishes in a year again!  2016 sees a vast reduction in my stitching time and to that end I've come up with what might seem like a very odd "goal" for 2016: I do not want to commit myself to stitching on anything next year!  When I have the time to stitch, I want to be enjoying it, not thinking I have to finish Project X before I start Project Y and start kitting Project Z.  To quote the great Marie Kondo, I want all  my stitching to "bring me joy" - joy because it is a design I love and because I am choosing materials that I love working with.

    That being said I still have a list of projects for 2016,  currently there are 33 designs on it (all already in stash), though I think next year I will be lucky if I finish half of them!  I like to know I have choices, options and variety in my work so they are a mix of small and large, plain cross stitch and counted threadwork, hand dyed and DMCs and simple designs to the just plain terrifying lol! 

    I won't name project names (that would feel like too much commitment!) but I can tell you that a fair few of them will be coming from SANQ and GOSM (the acronym and initialism I spoke of previously).  I have the complete collection of The Gift of Stitching magazine (and earmarked a whopping 124 designs I love!) and the 2001-2010 Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly DVD (33 sizeable designs earmarked) and some of those definitely deserve to see the light of day on fabric!  Designs from GOSM have been swimming around my head for years and they will provide another excellent opportunity to stitch from stash!

    However I will say that some of the designers on my list for 2016 include (but are not necessarily limited to): Blue Ribbon Designs, Plum Street Samplers, Cloudsfactory, Reflets de Soie, Joan Elliot, Willow Hill Samplings, Stitching Alchemist, Papillon Creations, Darlene O'Steen, Tournicoton, Marie Suarez and The Little Stitcher and even................a HAED (I haven't gone totally bonkers - it's only a QS and an outline design at that!).

    You might notice one designer conspicuous by their absence - Chatelaine.  I could bore you with my reasons as to why I've decided that for now I won't be starting Serengeti, but in a nutshell it comes down to this: I just wasn't feeling it!  I was far more excited about other designs on my list, so it got bumped!  I know for a lot of stitchers Chatelaines are some sort of Holy Grail, but after finishing a few (evidence here) I don't feel that way about them.  Don't get me wrong, some of them are truly stunning designs and I may very well next year take elements of them to work on, but I have bigger fish to fry, other cats to whip (an idiom that sounds so much better in its native French, but then everything sounds better in French to me lol!) as I expand my counted threadwork horizons!

    Operation Threadporn was a real eye opener to me and has helped me face my stash demons.  There were things I knew to be true, but Operation Threadporn  helped me to face up to them and think about the way I use my stash.  Three things stand out and I will write them here as a reminder to myself:

    1.  I find more contentment and joy in using what I have than acquiring more of what I think I need.
    2.  Not all threads (especially silks) are created equal.
    3.  Quality over quantity - I would rather have 1 skein of Thread A than the 5 skeins of Thread B that I could get for the same price.

    Carrying on with the theme of using materials that bring me joy, there are a few thread brands that I will be expanding my collection of next year.  In 2015 over 90% of my finishes were sourced with materials entirely from my stash, so I think I have earned a few extra threads for good behaviour ;).  After using so many different threads this year, I am much more aware of what I value in a thread, from how it feels to even how soft or harsh the variegation is.  There will be no more buying of random threads, but there will be threads bought that fit with the style and colour palette of the way I like to stitch.

    In 2016 I will continue to stitch from stash, as I carry on chipping away at my thread collection!  I also want to try and use up certain fabrics in my stash where possible to free up space for new arrivals!  There were some thread drawers that were barely opened in 2015 - the future does not bode well for these!  I am undecided as to whether I will have a little destash of thread and fabrics that are no longer me - I may give them another year, the collector in me is hard to silence!

    That is a lot of talk with no pictures - so here is a tiny montage of possible projects for next year:

    2016 Stitching Manifesto

    If you've reached the end of this you must be a crazy person - but I applaud your endurance!  I'm really looking forward to my stitching projects for 2016 and I hope you have projects on your books for next year that you just can't wait to put needle and thread to!

    Happy Stitching!

    Wednesday, 25 November 2015

    Finish #43 - A Flamestitch

    Closeup of flame stitches

    Cross stitch closeup
    3 skeins of black later..........

    A Flamestitch by The Scarlet Letter complete!
    Happy Stitching!
    PS  There are a few more finishes that have been added to the tally in the tab at the top :).

    Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    The Band of Two Thousand Eyelets

    Just a very quick post to say two things!

    Firstly I've finished the eyelet band on A Flamestitch and I am very pleased with how it has turned out!  I love the colours and the shading - AVAS continues to be a joy to work with and my favourite solid brand of silk!

    Eyelet Band

    I've also completed the plants and flowers in the cross stitch band:
    Cross Stitch Band
    All that is left to do on this one now is the flamestitch band and to fill in the cross stitch band with black.
    I also wanted to say a big thank you to Mii Stitch!  I was very lucky to win her giveaway of the chart  Pink Sparrow Sampler by Brenda Gervais.  It arrived on what turned out to be a very stressful and upsetting day, so was a welcome ray of sunshine!
    Pink Sparrow Sampler
    It goes without saying that this one has been added to the Projects for 2016 list :).
    I had thought once I had finished the eyelet band on A Flamestitch that I would move on to other projects, but it is such a beautiful simple stitch that I may just stick with it until the finish - simple and easy is what I need right now!
    Happy Stitching!

    Sunday, 1 November 2015

    Goals for the Remainder of 2015

    In a slight change to regular monthly goal lists, I've decided to make a list of the things I would like to have done by the end of the year.  I didn't manage to achieve everything on the list for last month, but considering I didn't pick up a needle and thread for 15 days and still managed four finishes and a bit of progress elsewhere I'm fine with that!

    This time of year I get the itch to just go crazy and start something I have my eye on for next year - but as with this time last year, I want a clean slate for January 2016 :).  The 2016 Pinterest Project Board  is full to the brim and I can't wait to get stitching on it!  So in a bid to give me more options to work on what I want when I want for the remainder of the year, I've picked threads and fabrics for my last four Threadporn projects too.

    Here is the list!

    • Finish A Flamestitch, here is where it is at currently:
    A Flamestitch WIP
    I could easily stitch on this one until it's done - such a joy to stitch!
    • Finish Summer (Autumn) Tree of Stitches (not stitched on in October): 
    Autumn Tree of Stitches Part 1 - 3
    • Start and finish my final Autumn/Winter new start - Catherine Agnes by Indigo Rose, pattern gifted to me by my lovely stitching friend Dana: 
    Catherine Agnes by Indigo Rose
    • Complete October, November and December SOTW Hardanger squares:
    SOTW threads for November and December
    Top: December's Threads Bottom: November's Threads
    • Complete Snow Poem Tree by Erynne Chard (freebie, blog no longer available) and Winter Solace by By The Bay Needlearts (freebie from a past BTB newsletter):

    Freebie Project materials for November and December
    • No stash spends for the remainder of the year unless I run out of AVAS on Flamestitch
    • Try and properly finish a few things here and there
    • Kit up a few projects from stash in preparation for next year!
    Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for a little while - I'll be hunkered down working on completing that list!
    Happy Stitching!

    Tuesday, 27 October 2015

    The Elements Series is Complete!

    Finally the series that has sat in my stash for four years is complete and all in a week's worth of stitching!  Crystal Waters and Fresh Air have been added to the pile of finishes for the year.

    For all three of the samplers I used threads from stash, I happened to have the majority of silks and cottons required, but I used different beads and metallics to what was called for.   The charts called for Kreinik  but I'm a Rainbow Gallery girl :) and I have quite a collection of random Mill Hill and Delica beads so it's always a good feeling to be able to use stash!

    Bead Storage

    So here are the finishes, firstly Crystal Waters:
    Crystal Waters by The Victoria Sampler
    I love the little silver metallic whales!
    And then Fresh Air:
    Fresh Air Sampler by The Victoria Sampler complete!
    Rhodes butterflies - one of my favourite stitches!
    Thankfully the delicate hardanger section survived!
    I've also picked my threads for Operation Threadporn this month.  Originally  I had planned to stitch another freebie, pulled threads and fabric for it, but then came up with better options - the only problem being they were fabric and threads which were not in my stash ha ha!  So that idea has been stored for another day and I went with a different freebie which has already been stitched up and is waiting to be finished.
    October Thread Choices
    So that's my past week in stitches!  Not sure whether I will accomplish all the goals I had for this month, but a possible six finishes is not to be sniffed at I guess!
    Thank you to all of you that stop by and to those of you that comment on my little stitching adventures!
    Happy Stitching!

    Saturday, 17 October 2015

    Green Earth Sampler Finished!

    I just couldn't face stitching the 2,000+ eyelets required for the next band of A Flamestitch, so I decided to pick up and finish something small instead that required more than one type of stitch!

    Green Earth Sampler by The Victoria Sampler is done!
    The Green Earth Sampler Complete!
    My favourite parts were the bargello, but also the snowy evergreens in the centre.  I thought it was a clever idea by the designer to use several fly stitches to create their shape - I shall store that idea away for another time!
    These type of designs where a variety of counted threadwork techniques are used are my absolute favourite to stitch.  I plan on stitching more like this next year, just on a "slightly" larger scale lol - I think I may have scared myself!
    Not sure what I will pick up next, possibly Crystal Waters as it shouldn't take too long to finish and I also have my final new start for the year to get on with!
    Happy Stitching! 

    Sunday, 11 October 2015

    Endless Eyelets!

    The end is in sight though - only one more band of eyelets to go on A Flamestitch!  I had toyed with the idea of replacing some of the eyelets with other stitches (Rhodes and rice) but decided against it - it is a reproduction sampler after all.  Eyelets really aren't all that bad, here is where I got up to:

    A Flamestitch WIP 2
    I'm still head over heels for this one, but will put it down for the month once that last band of eyelets is complete.  There are other pieces waiting patiently in the wings!
    Speaking of which, last Saturday I finished off  Jane Austen & Me:
    Jane Austen & Me (The Emma Project) by The Sampler Girl Complete!
    I adore the finish, Moose Drool and all!  The other advantage of 40ct is that with a smaller finish an "off the shelf" frame is a much more likely prospect, so I shall be keeping my eyes peeled..........
    Changes may also be afoot in my stitching plans for next year, with an acronym (well at least the way I say it it is!) and an initialism featuring heavily in my plans :).
    Happy Stitching!

    Friday, 2 October 2015

    Milady's Blossom Garden Finished!

    After not so patiently waiting for some size 9/0 beads to come from Sew and So, I finally got to finish off Milady's Blossom Garden as the final (ish) part was released over the weekend:

    Milady's Blossom Garden Complete
    It's hard to photograph the details, but as with so many pieces the beads really were the icing on the cake with this piece.  I love the effect of the suspended beads with the somersault stitch, so the 9/0 beads were worth the wait and I will use them again in future drawn thread pieces I am sure.
    There is an optional seventh part that comes out next month which are the instructions for hem stitching the border of this piece.  I may very well finish it that way, but for the moment the stitching is done and I am counting it as my 33rd finish for the year!
    Happy Stitching!

    September Operation Threadporn Report

    This month saw fantastic results for Operation Threadporn, but before I talk statistics, here are the projects!

    Firstly there was September's SOTW Hardanger square.  I decided to change things up a bit with my materials by using a chocolate brown lugana rather than my usual white.  I also chose to use a much stroked but lesser used perle in my stash, my only silk #5 perle.  Try as I might I could not get a photo showing the true colours of this piece, but here it is anyway:

    September SOTW Hardanger Square
    I really like the satin stitch braid border and will try and remember that one for future smalls.
    In celebration of the last series of Downton Abbey airing in the UK, I stitched this freebie from The Sampler Girl and *shock horror* actually finished it!  I will add that my baking skills far far outweigh my sewing skills lol!
    Tea at Downton 😄!
    Loved loved loved using 100% Nina loveliness for this stitch, they made the project extra special!
    So how do the Threadporn stats read after all those new starts?
    Percentage of hand dyed thread stash used to date: 21.36%
    Number of different stitches used to date:                57
    Number of finishes to date:                                     33  (10 of which are FFOs)

    I've surpassed the 20% mark, which in real terms means for this year I have used well over 200 hand dyed threads in my projects!!  Not sure if I can make it to 25%, but that would be a tidy number to round off the year with.............

    Happy Stitching!

    Thursday, 1 October 2015

    September Achievements and October Goals

    Posts to follow on evidence of the below!

    September Goals
    • Complete Part 6 of Milady's Blossom Garden - 99% DONE, waiting on some 9/0 beads to finish off three drawn thread bands
    • Stitch September's SOTW square - DONE!
    • Stitch a freebie project for Operation Threadporn (as yet undecided) - DONE!
    • Finish Butterfly Garden by The Drawn Thread - DONE!
    • Start A Flamestitch by The Scarlet Letter (very excited about this!) - DONE!
    • Pin down my Autumn Winter projects and make a start on any or all of them! - DONE!  Have chosen seven new starts and started six of them!

    The graphical representation:

    September Progress
    October Goals
    • Stitch October's SOTW Hardanger square
    • Stitch a freebie project for Operation Threadporn (as yet undecided)
    • Finish Jane Austen & Me by The Sampler Girl
    • Finish Green Earth Sampler
    • Finish Fresh Air Sampler
    • Finish Crystal Waters Sampler
    • Start final new start for Autumn/Winter
    • Stitch on Flamestitch
    • Stitch at least another two parts on ATOS
    I'll be back in a few days with an Operation Threadporn report and hopefully a finish on MBG if the beads arrive :).
    Happy Stitching!

    Monday, 28 September 2015

    A Weekend with Jane

    Here is my penultimate Autumn/Winter start!

    This is by a designer who I absolutely adore and have stitched several of her pieces in the past.  One of my favourite things to do as the nights draw in is to curl up with my stitching in front of a good film, or more likely in my case - stream a TV boxset lol!  Making sure that things match appeals to the OCD part of my personality, so when what I watch mirrors what I stitch I am a very happy Janeite!

    I am of course speaking of Tanya Marie Anderson AKA The Sampler Girl (@bzmama on IG).  Although she focuses less on cross stitch now, if you are into knitting podcasts and videos you should check out her YouTube channel and blog.  In the meantime I still have a few of her stitching patterns squirreled away for future Austen marathons and those days when only Jane will do!

    Here are a few of my previous TSG finishes from the past:

    TSG - At Home with Jane
    At Home with Jane
    TSG - Elinor Dashwood Holds It Together
    Elinor Dashwood Holds it Together
    Sound of Music by The Sampler Girl
    Sound of Music (freebie)
    The Sampler Girl - Sense and Sensibility
    Sense & Sensibility
    And here was my new start for the weekend:

    Jane Austen & Me by The Sampler Girl
    I've chosen to stitch it on 40ct linen 1 over 2 entirely with silks - my new favourite combo as it appeals to me not only because of its delicacy but also its frugality!  The chart calls for 15 different shades and I picked out silks from my stash covering seven different brands - including one shade imaginatively called Moose Drool :):
    Stash for Jane Austen & Me
    Glorianas, Dinky Dyes, HDFs, Waterlillies, Carrie's Creation, Thread Pickerz and AVAS!
    And here is where I got to, with Emma and P&P for company:
    Jane Austen and Me by The Sampler Girl WIP 1
    I was so tempted to carry on stitching it for a finish - but I still have one more new start to squeeze in this month and the final part of MBG came out over the weekend too..........
    Happy Stitching!

    Saturday, 26 September 2015


    Autumn has always been my favourite time of year.  I love the colours, I love the food, I love the weather!  Although we are two thirds through the year, September always feels a month to start again or turn over a new leaf - something left over from my school days when September saw the start of the new academic year with fresh exercise books and newly sharpened pencils!  I was always one of those children who couldn't wait for the Summer holidays to be over so I could get back to school - less so as an adult working in an educational establishment as September is the most stressful month lol!

    I knew this year I wanted to have a project with a real autumnal feel and with a bit of a colour change I found one!  Yet again it is a design by Abi Gurden of Bee's Needleworks, my third this year.  A few years ago Abi released a design called Tree of Stitches, which many of you have seen and no doubt stitched!  It will always remain one of my all time favourite finishes as it was the first time I chose my own colours for a design and my first time stitching speciality stitches.  From that moment on I was hooked and I discovered the two things that now bring me the most joy in my stitching!

    Tree of Stitches Framed photo TOSFramed.jpg
    Proof that sometimes I do frame and display my finishes!
    A few years later Abi released another design, Summer Tree of Stitches and I knew that it would be another must stitch piece for me.  This year, with my need to crack open those skeins of hand dyed floss, proved the perfect time to start it!
    I had the perfect fabric that I'd been saving for it in my stash - it's Jodyri Designs Sept 2014 Ltd Ed Fall Trees in Brittney Opal, reminiscent of the Indian summer skies we get at sunset here on the coast.  Initially I was going to stitch the whole thing in silks, but I like to use perles for some speciality stitches to mix up the textures (and preserve my sanity!) so I picked out some Wildflowers too:
    Autumn Tree of Stitches stash
    This floss toss is by no means all the threads to be used, but just a taster.  I basically went through my stash and picked out all my autumnal coloured silks and wildflowers and will choose the colour for each section as I go.
    Here are parts 1-3, there are 12 parts in all:
    Autumn Tree of Stitches Part 1 - 3
    Threads used so far: Bark Wildflowers, AVAS 1423, Gloriana Autumn Arbor, Gloriana PPP Cinnamon and PTB48
    Needless to say I am very much looking forward to stitching this one up!
    Just a note for my UK readers - Lidl currently have an offer on for a daylight craft lamp for £12.99.  I picked one up on Monday and have been using it all week and I love it!  Particularly useful for my new start on 40ct linen!
    Happy Stitching!

    Thursday, 17 September 2015

    A Much Anticipated New Start!

    Any of you that have been following my needlework adventures since my YouTube days may remember a video I did last Summer on my top three wishlish charts for 2015 which I planned on stitching.  Red by Mirabilia was the first, Plum Pudding by Glendon Place was the second and now begins the journey of stitching the third :).

    I'd never been one for reproduction samplers, that is until several years ago when I discovered Nicola's wonderful blog and exquisite stitching.  After following her stitching journey through several beautiful Scarlet Letter pieces, I knew one day I would have to stitch at least one of Marsha's samplers myself.  As I'd decided that in 2015 I would be stitching what I want when I want and not be tied down to my usual designers - this year seemed perfect timing to fit a Scarlet Letter sampler into my stitching schedule!

    Being the type of person that I am, I read everything that I could on Scarlet Letter samplers, I've never been one to jump in feet first and panic later!  I'm so grateful to Nicola and Jo and all the contributing bloggers on the various Scarlet Letters Years blogs for taking the time to explain and photograph their work.

    I had a few questions about fabric choice - Edinburgh or Floba?  Who better to ask than Nicola herself!  As Floba was a fabric I'd not tried before, Nicola very very kindly sent me a sample piece so that I could see its merits for myself.  I took the opportunity to give it a trial run and stitched up this little freebie by Blackbird Designs:

    Souvenir de France by Blackbird Designs
    I loved stitching on Floba!  It's lack of slubs and fine appearance compared to 100% linen made it the perfect choice for me for whatever Scarlet Letter chart I decided upon.  It was a given that I would stitch the sampler in the charted AVAS d'Alger as I adore stitching with those silks.  I find by planning my projects early that I can work large 100% silk projects into my stitching budget and thereafter it encourages me to stitch from stash as much as I can :).
    All that was left now was to decide on the sampler!  I have a real love of bargello/Florentine/flame stitch (call it what you will), so the solution was obvious and screamed at me from the Scarlet Letter catalogue - it had to be 🔥✖️!
    A Flamestitch by The Scarlet Letter
    35ct cream Floba and the recommended AVAS d'Alger

    Now you can see why this start is much anticipated as after being in the pipeline for over a year I can FINALLY put silk to linen - well linen mix if we want to be 100% accurate :).
    So here is my start!

    A Flamestitch WIP 1
    It goes without saying that stitching on this one was well worth the wait - I absolutely adore it!  For someone who loves stitching fonts and lettering, it really is a wonder that it took me this long to stitch a reproduction sampler!
    Now I really should put this down and work on my Operation Threadporn pieces for this month - including a freebie in commemoration of a much anticipated TV programme returning to UK TV screens for its final series:
    September's Thread Choices
    But maybe I'll do just do one more row on Flamestitch...........
    Happy Stitching!

    Tuesday, 15 September 2015

    The Four Elements....well three actually.....

    I kicked off my Autumn/Winter stitching by starting three charts that have been in my stash for a few years.  For quite some time they terrified me, that is until last year when I started and finished one in a few days and realized my stitching had actually moved on in the years they'd been sat in a drawer!

    I'm talking about The Four Elements series by The Victoria Sampler.  I absolutely adore their (Thea's) designs as the majority of them combine all the things I love (silks, speciality stitches, drawn thread and pulled thread) into one beautiful package.

    Here is the one I stitched up last year, Crimson Fire - it terrified me for so long due to the doves' eyes, formerly my hardanger nemesis (especially if they were surrounded by anything other than kloster blocks!), but in the four years or so that this one was sat in a drawer, I'd had quite a bit of practice with them:

    Crimson Fire Sampler by The Victoria Sampler
    The remaining three in the series were always pegged to be in my Autumn/Winter stitching as although they are challenging designs they aren't difficult and now my Summer butterfly brain has gone and the nights are drawing in (boo hiss!) I can concentrate on my stitching more.
    So here are the other designs in the series:
    The Green Earth by The Victoria Sampler
    The Green Earth Sampler
    Crystal Waters by The Victoria Sampler
    Crystal Waters Sampler

    Fresh Air by The Victoria Sampler
    Fresh Air Sampler
    As far as materials for each of these, I'm using antique white cashel linen for all of them.  I'd used white quaker for Crimson Fire and I usually like to use the same fabric for matching sets, but when it came to it I figured what are the chances that not only will these get framed but actually find themselves side by side on a wall somewhere when they are finished lol!  Cashel was what I had so it's what I went with, though hindsight tells me I could have been easier on myself and gone with Brittney instead but I didn't want to cut into my metre pieces.  For threads, I've mainly gone with what is listed in the chart where I have it in my stash, with a few substitutions here and there as I much prefer using Petite Treasure Braid over Kreinik any day of the week!
    I started all three and worked down until the first drawn thread band on each, just so I could have fresh eyes for that bit and not be squissor happy!
    Green Earth WIP 1
    Crystal Waters WIP 1
    Fresh Air WIP 1
    Ignore the unsightly threads on Crystal Waters, they'll be gone when the design is finished.  I've kept them on for added security as this is a very delicate piece of cutwork due to groups of four threads being cut on the side panels but unusually groups of six threads being cut in the centre panel (leaving some bars literally holding on by a thread, or two!).  Ordinarily my general rule of thumb is to leave all cutwork until the stitching is done, but I couldn't face stitching the whole piece and then have the cutwork not go right.  How do I know that could happen?  Because I've stitched that hardanger window twice - the first time following the instructions but the second time I went with my instincts which I should have gone with in the first place :).
    Incidentally if you like the look of these, you can find free patterns on The Victoria Sampler website which takes small sections of these particular designs and charts them to be turned into needle cases, pin cushions and pillows (you might be able to see the end results on the charts in the pic above).
    I'll be back in the next few days with another new start which is proving mighty hard to put down!
    Happy Stitching!

    Wednesday, 9 September 2015

    The End of Summer.........

    Well Summer here in the UK actually ended somewhere around the second week in July, but I'm talking about the end of my Summer stitching as I have finished The Butterfly Garden by The Drawn Thread!

    Butterfly Garden by The Drawn Thread Complete!
    At over 20 inches long, even on 36ct, it's pretty hard to get a decent full picture of the piece so here are a few detail shots:
    Butterfly Garden Snapshot 4
    Butterfly Garden Snapsot 1
    Butterfly Garden Snapshot 2
    Butterfly Garden Snapshot 3
    I'm really pleased with my thread choices for this one and it's always a joy to use my Jodyri threads whenever I can.  There are a few other charts in this series which I am tempted by, but they remain firmly on the wishlist for now :).  I also think that it would be very easy to turn each of the flower sections into a little small or card on its own, all in all a great value chart in so many ways!  Interesting fact about this piece:  it is the first time in all my years of stitching that I have actually stitched my initials on a finish!
    Now of course that WIP tab up there is looking very empty so I will have to do something about that :).  Those of you that follow me on Instagram have already had a little sneak preview of the 7 designs that I have picked and kitted for my Autumn/Winter stitching.  I think I will do as I did previously for my Summer stitching and start them all to get that bit out of the way and then stitch on them as and when I feel the need.  I'll introduce them to you over the coming weeks as I stitch on them.  All told it means that come the end of the year I should be at 46 ish finishes for this year which is insane and probably never to be repeated!
    Happy Stitching!