March 28, 2006

The Day We Went to Stitch '06

Sorry for the delay in creating this Blog entry - you may know that I have been studying for a Masters (MSc Information Management) over the past 2 years - well my finals are coming up in less than a month (I cannot believe the time has flown by!) and so I have had to become a bit of a boring swot for a few weeks. But in between times if you have visited AngelSan's blog ( you will see that I took a Saturday off from the studies and San and I had a brilliant day at the Stitch '06 Exhibition at Olympia on Saturday 25th March.

I think that the best part of it was being able to meet up with our favourite designers and talk to them personally about their designs. I was particularly pleased to talk with Maria Diaz as I have always admired her creativity - she is undoubtedly an extremely talented person and, what is more, she is so down-to-earth and lovely to talk with! Her stand was an impressive show-case of her wide range of work - from cute New Born Cards, wildlife, scenery, quirky dog-walkers and charming settings such as a Paris cafe and Venecian gondolier. Sadly I missed being able to talk to Helen Phillips as she was absent from her stand when we passed by.

However, I got some great stash - here is a list:

1. 3 pieces of gorgeous linen (dusky pink - hey new for me!, country style brown and cream) - just right for my next samplers!
2. Cross Stitch Collection - latest edition. I will do a review this weekend. I finally got a subscription and the free Lion kit, which is totally stunning.
3. A canvas kit to make a pendant-style Heart from Jane Greenoff's stand - the kit includes instructions for making the tassle. The lady who served me is going to send me a piece of burgundy velvet for the back of the heart.
4. A Moira Blackburn Sampler - photo shown below
I have decided to change the poem (as you can see their suggestion is appropriate for making a Twins birth sampler but its really easy to change - they even supply the alphabet and graph paper in the kit). I have chosen some lines from a poem called The Passionate Shepherd to his Love by Christopher Marlowe. The poem is very very romantic! A Shepherd is convincing a girl to be his love by enticing her with promises of a bed of roses and views out across the fields. The last 2 lines of the poem say:

If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love

These words are really special to DH and me! Also I thought the theme of the poem went well with the design as it has lots of sheep on a hillside!

Happy stitching, everyone!

March 17, 2006

At last! Time to Blog :-)

It is such a shame this is my first opportunity this week to do a blog entry - I have been itching to write all week, but my studies and work have overtaken my time. I just hope people don't forget me or get fed up of visiting here and not finding anything new ....

Today I had to make a presentation at University (which took me 6 weeks to prepare). The subject for the assignment was "Managing Knowledge in commercial organisations", so it deals with how people gain expertise, learn how to improve their skills and thereby make the company more successful.

It makes me reflect on how we develop our expert skills as crafters. What activities do we get involved in to improve our own skills and those of our crafting friends?
- We share our skills with each other, giving each other help on stitching techniques, with mini "teach-in" sessions including photographs and instructions.
- We get together for SAL's and Stitching Evenings to exchange ideas and get help from each other on difficulties we may have with stitching.
- We subscribe to our fave XS magazines and take great delight in putting photos of our WIP's, UFO's and Happy Dance projects on our Blogs. Get the picture?
Unfortunately my presentation at University would have looked strange with these themes, so I had to stick to Organisational learning techniques .. LOL!

Despite lack of time, I am excitedly planning my next Projects. You can compare progress since San took the photo of my Welsh Sampler (see her Blog The close-up photo shows the double border line detail (in brown-black).

I am now filling in the little dashes of colour in pink and terracotta and the embellishments in green and turquoise. I think I will only have another 3-4 hours to complete it, so there may be a Happy Dance sometime soon!
My next project is going to be The Seed Sampler designed by Lesley Grant, who kindly sent me her own copy of Cross Stitch Collection. This happened because I was unable to get a copy of the magazine, so sent in a 'Wanted' Advert which Lesley noticed, and she sent me her copy with a really kind letter. I am itching to get started as I would like to send a finished photo so that she will see that I used her Chart :-) I was very excited when DH rang me in the week to say that the project threads and Linen I ordered from had arrived!

As a mini project, I am stitching a Springtime Thankyou Card for our friends over in NZ to say thanks for looking after DH when he was over there - that should be a quickie job which I want to complete in the coming week. The evenings are definitely drawing out and that means one great thing .... more daylight for stitching yeah!I ordered a wonderful kit from (which arrived today). I swooned when I saw a photo of it on the back of my recent Cross Stitch Collection magazine. I just knew I HAD to buy it, even I will not be able to start working on it until I have finished The Seed Sampler and Springtime Card, otherwise I will be overwhelmed and do not want to risk UFO's! Also, it is £10 cheaper on Stitchability's website as they are running a promotion - how lucky is that!

See the haziness of the trees in the background? That effect is created by very soft green tones worked in half stitch - its totally gorgeous and makes me dream of long summer days. There is a field on a hill about 4 miles away from our house that looks very similar to this, so I think it will be a rather lovely project to work on later in the year.

(Anchor - Premier Collection)

March 13, 2006

World of Cross Stitch Review

If you like to know what is in the latest World of Cross Stitch Magazine, then look no further than San's review on her website - its a good read!

My next blog entry will be appearing soon!

Happy Monday!
Ali xx

March 11, 2006

A Funny Trivia Game

This is a very strange quiz which I got from Zohrah's website :-0 whow, its freaky - I have 3 eyelids!

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Alison!

  1. You share your birthday with Alison!
  2. Medieval knights put the skin of Alison on their sword handles to improve the grip.
  3. Snow White's coffin was made of Alison.
  4. While performing her duties as queen, Cleopatra sometimes dressed up as Alison!
  5. Alison is 984 feet tall!
  6. In Chinese, the sound 'Alison' means 'bite the wax tadpole'!
  7. Alison can't drink - she absorbs water from her surroundings by osmosis!
  8. Carnivorous animals will not eat another animal that has been hit by Alison!
  9. Alison can live for up to a week without a head!
  10. Alison has three eyelids!
I am interested in - do tell me about

Technical Problem with my Blog

My Profile dropped to the bottom of the blog rather than being visible at the top.

This is a known coding problem - if it happens to you (there is no way of knowing when it may happen or exactly what causes it!), just go into the Template code, and find the following code - then ensure that it matches what I have written below - you may need to slightly increase or reduce the width number + or - 475px -

#main-content {
display: inline; /* fixes a strange ie margin bug */
float: left;
margin: 0 0 0 3px;
padding: 0;
width: 475px; }

Hey presto! Your Profile will be restored to the top again. Looks like it fixed mine, hoorah

Ali xx

March 10, 2006

My Mugs!

Here are my favourite mugs - thanks for the suggestion, Kim, its a great idea to do this!

The one on the left is my cappucchino mug with a matching coaster which doubles as a "lid". The motto is "The years have been kind, its the weekends that have done the damage!"

The right mug is for other drinks like herbal tea etc as the mug is bone china. DH's mum bought us a matching pair - mine is Head Gardener and DH's is Under Gardener (as he is my assistant in the horticultural domain :-)

Cross Stitch Collection Review

I finally found my magazine so I can now do the review I was meant to do about a week ago! Hope its worth waiting for ....

Beginning with the designs on the cover, we have a wonderful "Pride of Lions" which is another Joanne Aston masterpiece - she certainly does a mean wildlife picture. Its definitely not for the faint-hearted but worth a challenge as a long term project. I like the way she has used the lilac and violet half-stitches to full effect as a way of 'suggesting' the misty mountains in the background. You would be advised to use a threadsorter to label up the shades carefully - some of the shade numbers are very close to each other which can spell danger, if like me, you have a habit of stitching away then realising that you have been using a lighter shade!

The other cover photo is Jane Greenoff's Alphabet sampler which is stunning. It is taken from her latest book called "Antique Style Samplers" which I was lucky enough to get signed by the lady herself! I don't mind getting the chart in the magazine as it makes it easier to carry around in my craft bag -yes, I have it on my to-do list :-)

Sue Cooke's Nursery Rhyme set concludes this month with "Little Miss Muffet" (photo above) - her designs are very witty and charming - I love her use of colour and her wonderful charting skills are evident here as she makes Miss Muffet really look as if she is leaping in the air as the spider dangles down from its thread. Apparently the facial expression was the most difficult for Sue to capture, but she has done an amazing job of it.

Other charts in this issue include 4 Easter Parade cards by Lesley Teare (a duckling, a chick, a rabbit and a lamb) with each little animal surrounded by miniature traditional Spring-like flowers. If you like William Morris designs (he is a traditional English designer and artist), Maria Diaz has created some designs which fit onto wooden boxes (which you can buy via the magazine) - they would make an ideal Mother's Day present, if you can get stitching straight away! Christine Howes has put together a rather bright and stunning peacock using jewel colours (jade green, purples and oranges) and has added some sequins on its lower plummage which is effective.

Angela Poole presents the technical article this month - a 3 page special on how to create miniatures. It gives the history of Medieval and Royal miniatures, gives some useful tips about how to create them and also provides a buyer's guide of where you can source the materials on the Web.


Stash Photo

I meant to include this photo in my previous blog entry which is the full set of stash from my latest internet "shopping experience" :-)

March 09, 2006

Reviews - A Big Read

Its time I caught up on the latest Cross Stitch Gold and Card Shop magazines (unfortunately I cannot find my copy of Cross Stitch Collection at the moment - I will look for it over the weekend - you can tell what kind of week I have had!)

Cross Stitch Gold
The cover photos tell the story! Lots of spring-time animals - a wonderful cat amongst the tulips with a red admiral in the foreground - stunning! I am very tempted to stitch this because the colours would go well in our downstairs utility room which is my route to our back garden - so it would be appropriate. Designed by Maria Diaz.
Bluetits and Blossom The other wildlife chart is also shown on the cover - a design created by Joanne Aston, representing Coats Crafts. NB, the threads key only lists Anchor, but why do they always do that?? The DMC charts give Anchor and Madeira, but never reciprocated by Anchor. What about us DMC thread-lovers?
Fresh as a Daisy is a promotional project for Zweigart 25-count Dublin linen. There is a competition to win Table Linen and Design Booklets too - but no skill required to enter, therefore its going to be luck ... i.e. if your name comes out of the hat first. I am never that lucky and have only won one prize which was for my sampler. Hence I prefer competitions that judge skill rather than luck!
Count the Creatures is a really cute sampler created by Lesley Teare - its a 4 x 3 grid with each square filled with animals, counting from 1 up to 12. An adorable set of cute animals (such as giraffes, pigs, sheep, penguins, ducks and butterflies). Dangerous .... if I stitched it for a child, I would probably end up keeping it myself!!

Next month there are quite a few designs suitable for men - did I read a blogger was looking for men-style designs (for her father?) - well, there are fishing samplers and classic cars!

Cross Stitch Card Shop

This edition (Issue 47) is also feeling as if Springtime isn't far away.

Lots of cute cats and dogs "Furry Fun" greeting cards with silly slogans like "The Best Things in Life are Furry" and "Cat's Motto - Whatever you've done wrong ... Always make it look like the dog did it!". The designer, Claire Crompton has put together a really excellent card book with designs for every occasion - she is very artistic and her charts are authentic.

There are even a few Easter designs creeping in, with 6 Daffodil Posy designs (by Lesley Teare) and 6 Easter Rabbits (by Debra Page) surrounded by spring flowers. Very attractive and would make a good weekend project.

If you like cartoons, then Debra Page has changed styles with some "Super Star" cards for your relatives' birthdays, Mother's Day, Sister's and Brother's Birthday etc. Nice bright colours and comic-strip poses. Lucie Heaton has created some pastel shaded baby cards, a crib, bunny, teddy, mobile (flower, star and heart) and a rocking horse. You could even stitch all 6 of them and make them into a Sampler (there I go again with my samplers!!!) - they are suitable for boys or girls as the theme colours are pinks, lemons, greens, powder-blues etc. Ahhhhhhh, cute.

Finally, just to follow the Card-Shop tradition, Lesley Teare is featured each edition with a set of Zodiac cards, with the star signs following the relevant month of the magazine. This time its Taurus and Aries - if you know someone who enjoys reading their horoscope, you could copy it out from a magazine inside the card for the individual touch!

Don't groan everyone .... the cover kit was Winnie the Pooh (its a sketch of Winnie, with Hello Friend motif)! Oh well, I guess it would make a nice greeting card for a pal, but not a lot of colour in it, I'm afraid!

Lots of News!

I have been really hectic this week and consequently, my blog entries have been thin on the ground (sorry!) - but I will make up for it now! I have got so much to talk about, I have a backlog to catch up with :-)

Firstly, I have taken a couple of update photos of the Adam & Eve sampler for you - showing you the lacing and the effect of stretching it onto acid-free backing board before framing. Traditional samplers are meant to be framed close to the edge of the design, which looks stunning. However, if the lines are crooked, because the piece has not been stretched correctly, it can look awful .... maybe when my sampler has been framed, the lines will look straight, but the photo makes it look a bit wobbly!

I also have some Stash to show off! I am a buttons addict - I really love all the different designs that are available and sometimes just sit down with a big pile and go through them, thinking about possible projects where I can use them. I just need some more time and the right charts for them to be shown off to their best effect.

My favourite ones from this latest batch are the Watering Can and the Rag Doll

The Winery buttons are fun ... these are a joke for DH, to remind him of the amount of gorgeous New Zealand wine he enjoyed :-)

Thursday Brainteaser!

I cannot claim to be a mathematical genius so I felt a bit less of a dunce than I used to at school (when I regularly attained 2/10 on a good day LOL :-) ... There's life in the Old Dog yet!

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!

March 02, 2006

Question of the Week

What cross-stitch magazines or other publications (as opposed to blogs) do you read on a regular basis? What do you like about them? What do you not like? What would your perfect publication include?

This is a Question of the Week lifted from San's website

My regular cross-stitch (XS) magazines are XS Gold and XS Collection - why? Consistent high quality, reasonable price, large charts that you can read without a magnifying glass and, no gimmicks ("freeby" kits are OK but they are very monotonous ... Winnie the Pooh, Popcorn, etc get very boring after so many of them).

X Stitcher, World of XS and XS Card Shop are the next level of magazine. Good quality, smaller projects that Gold and Collection, can normally rely on some "must-do" charts each issue. Freeby kits/give-aways feature strongly - its their selling point, but please can we have less folders, zip-up bags, plastic tape-measures and more cute buttons, embellishments. Also can't they think of different characters to Winnie the Pooh??!

XS Crazy or XS Quick do not inspire me normally - maybe there is one chart in each copy, but will I want to spend £3 just for 1 chart? They contain a high percentage of "trivia" and waffle. Hence the Readers' Letters page is normally irritating and patronising (in my humble opinion), whereas the good quality magazines print full letters, of which most are extremely interesting and informative. For example, XS Collection had a moving Letter from someone who described how her kidney transplant enabled her to get out more than before and meant that she could buy items for her cross stitch projects such as threads, fabric etc, which she had difficulty finding

My perfect publication would contain:
60% charts (different designers like Maria Diaz, Michael Powell, Lesley Teare, Helen Phillips and all the Kooler Design Studios folks)
20% technical aspects (tips, advice, creative ideas)
5% competitions - with craft prizes to be won
5% adverts (for LNS and web-stores - these are useful and we need to support those suppliers so that they continue to make beautiful high quality base-materials for our crafts!)
5% fiction/reading material - nice poetry, words, phrases, short story written by readers or talented writers.
2% templates/motifs - make your own cards, samplers, wall hangings
1% exchanges/swaps/Wanted adverts - very useful to source those items that may be in someone's attic :-)
1% letters - good quality only, including photos of people's projects
1% craft stories from Round the World - traditional crafts, unusual crafts etc