May 19, 2006

A Good Stitching Week!

Its my first chance to post a blog entry this week as I have been doing a lot of site visits as described on a previous blog entry. I hope you are all well and have had an enjoyable and productive week with your latest stitching and crafting projects.

Apart from being busy at work I have had a good stitching week - the Bleeding Hearts section is now complete (apart from the back-stitching) and I have moved on to the cherub. I will post a WIP photo tomorrow (Saturday) when I have more time to spare :-)

Thanks to Christine (again!) for links to the "What Kind of Coffee are You?" game and also the Question of the Week which is: Lately, it seems that many stitching bloggers have experienced a loss of their stitching mojo. Have you ever lost your stitching mojo? If so, how did you get it back and how long did it take?

Well, lately I must admit that I always seem to have the yearning to stitch and lack the time to sit down quietly for any extended period of time. So when I stitch, I really enjoy it. I know that during the summer when I have some more time, I do find that I lose the urge to stitch to the same degree - I guess its a bit of "absence makes the heart grow fonder" versus "familiarity breeds contempt" :-)

Overall, I enjoy my stitching until I get to a difficult part of a chart or else I do something wrong, put it away in my bag and then spend several days avoiding it, knowing that there is major frogging to be done (which is, of course, a very frustrating and often time-consuming task - unpicking work that I have spent time on is awful and feels like a tragedy!!). Then, once that painful process is finished, I can put it behind me and feel motivated again.

You Are a Soy Latte

At your best, you are: free spirited, down to earth, and relaxed

At your worst, you are: dogmatic and picky

You drink coffee when: you need a pick me up, and green tea isn't cutting it

Your caffeine addiction level: medium

May 15, 2006

Weekend Fun leads to Monday Blues ....

Thank you for your comments! I really appreciate them and it was so nice to hear from you.

DH and I had a fab weekend in Brighton and it was really such a struggle to leave for work this morning :-((( On Friday evening we went to the Chinese State Circus which was in Preston Park. It was a totally amazing experience (thankfully no animals as I always get very upset with circus animals and want to set them all free!) - it was high-wire walking, shaolin warriers (marshall arts) and illusions - really very well worth a visit (they travel around the world). On Saturday we walked around the town, had lunch with friends and then in the evening we went to fireworks display which was also unbelieveable!

Before we left the house on Friday afternoon, the postman delivered my copy of Cross Stitch Collection - which I flicked through in the car on the way down to Brighton. Its a great issue so I will do a review on Wednesday. Sorry I just did not get the chance to review last month's issue and now we are already into July's edition. If people would still like me to review June's edition, please could you place a request as a comment, and if I get more than a couple of requests, it will give me the encouragement to do it!

I did not get to my stitching until we got home on Sunday afternoon - we sat down with a cuppa and the Sunday papers totally exhausted after the weekend! I managed to (nearly) complete the cream background on my sampler by tea-time - it was a bit boring but actually I did not feel like having to do loads of colour changes, so it was nice to do the "mindless" bit of sewing row after row of cream LOL! I thought I would leave the more challenging parts until I had more energy....

Tomorrow my work colleagues and I are going into the centre of London for the day. We are taking what we have called "A Research Journey" to The Science Museum, The Design Centre, The Apple Shop plus a spot of lunch at Wagamamas! The purpose of the day is to think innovatively, trying to think of things in a different way and coming back with some good ideas for ways we can delight our Customers!

Yes, I know you think its just a company 'jolly' .... well, you are probably right :-)
Have a lovely day and happy crafting.
Hugs Alison xx

May 12, 2006

My Theme Song

This 'game' came from Christine's blog - thanks for that, Christine :-D

Your Theme Song is Beautiful Day by U2

"Sky falls, you feel like

It's a beautiful day

Don't let it get away"

You see the beauty in life, especially in ordinary everyday moments.

And if you're feeling down, even that seems a little beautiful too.

Happy Friday! Sampler+Stash to show

Hello! Happy, Sunny Friday

Today started bright and sunny in England so I went for a swim at the local pool as I tend to do on a Friday and I was surprised that it was really quiet, so I had a lane of my own (luxury! normally I am battling to keep up with some huge bloke making a tidal wave LOL!) - maybe people took the day off work and weren't as mad as me to get up at 6.30 am!

Here on the left (at last!) is the latest progress photo for my Lesley Grant Seed Sampler - it is really starting to build up now - as you can see, the flowers on the Bleeding Heart seed packet are finished and I only have the leaves and background to complete. Unfortunately it looks a bit 'distorted' which normally happens when you take a photo before it is complete - it looks really lop-sided. Never mind, it will give you a rough idea of the design. I am wondering which section to do after this one - there is a hanging basket which sits above the purple columbine which will complete the right side of the piece or else there is a cherub on the left next to the Bleeding Hearts plant. All decisions!!

Last Monday I went to Greenford for work, and this is always a good excuse to drop into Hobbycraft at lunchtime :-) I saw a wonderful display of beeds on special offer - there is a picture below to show you what I bought. I think the little brown and cream beads are made of wood and resin - I thought they looked rather African in style. The others are wonderful colours - all those olive greens and aubergine hints. I know I am going to have fun. There are several things I would like to make. Firstly, I picked up a good idea in a home-ware shop near me for a way of decorating curtain "tie-backs" - they are beaded tassles (using similar beads to mine) made into strands which dangle down from the curtain hook.

Very difficult to describe - but I will have a try at making them and will show a photo of my "effort". They were quite expensive in the shop, but I think I can make them a lot cheaper and maybe better. As you can see, I bought 2 packs of beads plus some nylon thread and stone coloured floss, which came to a total of £13. Well each of the tie-backs I described were priced at £5 each - so you can see that I would be able to make around 10 making each one £1.30. A bit of a difference in price! I do realise that they charge for the time to make them ... but even so, I will hopefully be able to make a few and still have some materials left over to make other things. We will see!

Enjoy your weekend, whatever you do and remember - if you drop by, please leave me a message - is anyone visiting me any more? :-((

May 11, 2006

All Good Intentions ...

Hi there! Well I had all good intentions of getting back to blogging this week after the fraught times of my exams last week but hey, I hope you will forgive me if I was a bit slow getting back into it. We are going away to Brighton this weekend to visit some of Mike's family who live down there, so I guess this week will be a bit of a write-off ... but I have been thinking of you all, at least :-)

So, just to update you, I have been working quite well on my sampler this week and would have posted a WIP photo as you will see the difference in my progress, however my camera's battery is completely flat (my fault for leaving it on for too long, grrrrr!!) so I will try to post a photo when I get home tonight. I am enjoying sewing it at the moment as its all the green leaves (4 different tones) so its nice and restful!

Work has been manic beyond belief. Today I am going to be running some usability trials. This involves visiting people in the workplace, running a demonstration of a new release of software (in this case it is the software that runs the e-mail system) and asking them to carry out some tasks, timing them with the current version and the new version of the software and noting down the results. The reason we do this is to measure the benefits of using the new version - so, there may be a good benefit in a particular feature, or possibly our user may tell us "that's awful, I prefer it the way it was"! In which case I have to then take the feedback to our software engineers and they will modify or remove the feature. So, this part of my role is really focussed on the end-user (who often gets forgotten!! That sounds ironic, but it happens a lot). I love talking with and helping people so its the best part, as far as I am concerned.

You could say that my personal interests mirror my career interests because I enjoy being creative and also thinking of ways of turning things into something worthwhile in some way. I really admire software programmers as I am not talented in that way, but one thing they sometimes lack is the vision of how to model the software to make it user-friendly - they are focussed on "making things work", whereas there is a need to "make it functional for people using it" and that's where people like me come in!

Well, that's all my rambling for now - I hope that the sun is shining brightly where you are (if only in your heart!) and that we will catch up again soon. Happy crafting and creating - ENJOY :-D

Ali xxxx

May 04, 2006

San's Cross Stitch crafts Forum

***Latest news!*** San has set up an online forum so that we can have a chat and exchange craft ideas. Rather than being a replacement to our individual blogs which will be our personal space to talk about our life and crafts, this is a location to get together and socialise with likeminded crafters. Quite a few people already know each other through visiting personal Blogs (or even as 'real-world' friends), but any new-comers are also welcome so come and join us! The more the merrier! Here is the address:
Finally found my USB connector for my camera so here is a photo of my very slow progress made on it. I will have a much better one to post by the end of the weekend as I am hoping to stitch tomorrow and Saturday. Probably no time on Sunday because we are off to my friend's wedding.
Enjoy your day, Ali xx

A Happy Dance (at last!)

Here is my (mini) Happy Dance of the week (well, the month really, because I have been rather overtaken with studies to be able to focus on finishing very much, more is the pity!!).

DH asked if I could put my creative hat on and stitch a Springtime thank you card for our friends in New Zealand to show our appreciation for looking after him so well when he went across for the wedding - despite the fact they had to organise a lot for the big day, they took him out on lots of day-trips and had BBQ's and generally treated him like a VIP!

I found the design in a recent copy of Cross Stitch Card Shop and I modified it to include the words Thank You, adding the blue forget-me-nots at the top as they are all in bloom in our garden and make a lovely backdrop to the daffodils (we have about 4 different varieties - some are like the ones on the card, then there are cream and lemon ones, mini dwarf variety in bright yellow and some doubles)!

It has been a glorious day today, 25 degrees, so by far the hottest day of the year, so I am off outside now to water all the pots which are gasping for a drink ... then it will be time for dinner and a glass of wine to relax before the exams begin tomorrow. After that .... life will begin again for me after months of stress, worry and late nights! Enjoy your day!

May 03, 2006

Photo of a Bleeding Heart

I noticed on Heather's blog (see the entry for 28th April) that she has a lovely photo of a Bleeding Heart, including the Latin name as well (very impressive, Heather!). As I am currently working on that section of my Seed Sampler, I thought it was appropriate to show you the "real thing" ... although Heather's one is an ivory colour, which I think is more rare than the cerise pink ones! Very pretty pot, too :-)

Today has been a tiring and frustrating day at work - I just can't wait for it to be over. Nothing major, just little niggly things that are "sent to try us". The team I work in has to please a lot of different groups in the company, hence we end up invariably not pleasing anyone :-( No worries, it will soon be home-time and I can feel a swim and a sauna coming on :-) Nothing like it to melt away the worries of the day. DH just called me to say hello and find out if we needed anything from the supermarket ... guess what my response was? C H O C O L A T E !!!!!! He got the message LOL. Hope your day was a lot more cool and serene than mine was....

May 02, 2006

Ali B Returns!

Hi there Friends!

It has been too long, I know, so I thought I would break away from my studies to post a blog entry.

Since my last blog entry on 8th April I have been "flat-out" studying, especially over the Easter holidays. My time was spent finishing off my research for the final 2 assignments of my MSc - a Report on Knowledge Management and another on Human Issues in IT Project Management. Finished both within about 4 hours of the deadline ( phew!!)- these days, we submit our work to the University secure area. It felt such a relief to hand-in, I cannot tell you :-) I danced around the room and went mental - just to let off steam I think. Only a further week of exams to survive and that will be everything completed for my 2nd Year. My 3rd Year will be dedicated to my dissertation (20,000 words on a topic within the theme of Information Management).

As regards cross-stitching, I cannot tell you how much I have missed being able to pick up some stitching whenever I want to (without feeling guilty of course!!) - I have managed to fit in about 2 hours this weekend as we had an extra day to play with yesterday - May Day public holiday. I must say that having a limited time in which to stitch really makes it all the more enjoyable!

In the absence of a progress photo for my seed sampler (unfortunately I left my camera and USB connector at home so will not be able to upload it until later in the week), so on the left is a photo of the specific section I am working on taken from the chart, so that it is easier for me to describe. I have completed the Columbine section (above) and am now working on Bleeding Hearts (below). It is an interesting part because although there is not a lot of backstitching, there are lots of colour changes, so I am using the "parking" technique they always mention in our XS magazines. The flowers consist of several different shades of pinks and cerise at the top of each "heart" and the stem and leaves are 4 shades of green. It is very lifelike as we have some of these pretty flowers in our garden, and they really do grow in a line along the stem, just like on this chart!

I am really looking forward to having a nice long sewing session this Saturday to celebrate the end of my exams, as I am going to be really mentally exhausted, and will feel in the mood for creating rather than thinking :-)

Next Sunday, we are going to a friend's wedding. She and her future husband are Seikhs, so it will be a traditional Indian ceremony and lunch, which I am really looking forward to attending. My friend went to India in February to collect her sari, which is rich red silk. She is now all ready for the 'Big Day'. She and her husband have requested that people don't buy presents as they have 300 family and friends attending and feel uncomfortable sending out a wedding list. I know exactly how they feel, as DH and I said to people that we would prefer not to receive gifts, we were just happy for people to come along on our wedding day and celebrate with us. We only had 50 people, so I can imagine that 300 people would be overwhelming!! However, I have bought my friend a personal gift of a book of Love Poems which I will give her when she returns from honeymoon - its almost like a "girlie" gift, not so much to do with the wedding but just one friend to another. We both share a great love of good books and are always swapping titles with each other, so I know it will hold special meaning for her.

Well, that is all for now, have a lovely day! Thanks for visiting me! I've missed you! My blog entries will start to reappear regularly after this week's exam are over, so I look forward to welcoming you and visiting your blogs again after my absence.

Love and Friendship,
Alison xx