August 30, 2006

I Say ... and you think ...

I rather like "Word Association" games, and this one is a goodie! Picked it up from Stitch's Blog in case you wonder where I found it (thank you Stitch ;-)

... although I did not get tagged myself, I would now like to pass this on to San to let her know I am still thinking of her whilst she is away in France on holiday and also to Isabel because she is just soooo good with words!

The idea is to associate the word on the left with a word or two of your choice, which you think has a connection and captures that word's true meaning.

It is called "I Say ... and you think":

Visit :: Friendship
Cake :: Sweetness
Period :: Epoque
Triumphant :: Over adversity
Screen :: Protection
Neglect :: Disregard for
Guitar :: Sensual
Loathe :: Detest
Sugar :: Darling
Montage :: Collection

Cross Stitch Collection (issue October 06)

Well, despite my best efforts I did not progress very quickly on my sampler this weekend, mainly because I went to a couple of family events which seemed to take up a fair bit of time with the travelling etc, but I am not complaining because weekends at the moment are a bit of a trial for me, so it was nice to be able to spend time with people and catch up on news. This week is my holiday week from work so I can devote a bit more time to hobbies etc, although studies are also back on the agenda as I only have 4 more weeks until I am back at Uni for the final year of my MSc - I cannot believe that the past few months have slipped by without even blinking!).

I received my subscription copy of Cross Stitch Collection yesterday so I am pleased to review it for you.
For anyone who likes samplers, traditional charts, floral designs and cute cottages, this is the issue for you! As I was leafing through the pages, I realised what a great issue it is and that my To-Do list is even greater now, especially as this month's Cross Stitch Gold issue is also chock full of great projects. Still, I mustn't grumble, it is better than not liking anything in the magazine which is far more frustrating :-)

John Clayton has created a really pretty circular design called The Summer Meadow. It has poppies and daisies in the foreground and trees and a meandering river in the background. The colours are very "late-summer" with golds, reds and yellows quite prominent, together with the late summer green leaves on the trees. I really like the design, but recently bought a beautiful Anchor kit which was on special offer (I reviewed it in a previous entry in my blog in case you are interested - around April/May time), so would rather stitch that. As always, Collection also includes some details about John Clayton which is a very interesting read. Their editorial is undoubtedly the best quality of the magazines I buy.

Maria Diaz features prominently in this month's magazine - her first offering is "Garden Birds" and is an authentic and colourful 'sampler' of 6 different birds. I use the term 'sampler' loosely, to describe the fact that she has featured each bird with its name next to it (Song Thrush, Great Tit, Bullfinch, Blue Tit, Gold Crest and Robin). As always, you can rely on Maria to produce a top quality chart, a beautiful study of birds and some additional flora (Apple Blossom and Blackberries). Next month's issue will include Maria's companion chart called "Riverbank Birds".

The Historical Sampler Company's (HSC) offering this month is a beauty! If you would like to stitch a traditional family tree sampler, then look no further. As stated by Joanne Stellig of HSC, they have used fabric and thread colours that give it an authentic and 'aged' look. The magazine also includes the full alphabet in upper and lower case characters to enable you to include up to 3 generations. Collection also features 2 pages of information on other kits you can source from HSC, including a wedding sampler and even one for Christmas!

Sandy Littlejohn is famous for her huge designs featuring costumed ladies and gentlemen from bygone times. They normally span across three issues which makes for quite a spectacular end-result. This month is the final part of a 3 part chart called "The Summer Ball". I think her charts are probably the most requested in the "Wanted" adverts ... people end up with 2 out of the 3 charts and have to search around for the 3rd part if they go on holiday or forget to buy an issue one month! That's where a subscription is handy :-) I must admit I am not at all keen on stitching people - for some reason, I have always favoured more abstract designs, samplers and wild animals, birds and flowers, but that is personal taste as I know many people love to stitch humans!

Faye Whittaker has her normal nostalgic style with a Birth Sampler in the "All Our Yesterdays" range. It has 8 little boys and girls in a circle, each carrying a childhood toy: a balloon, teddy, kite or a doll. The middle has been left for you to add the name of the baby, date of birth and birth weight. This is definitely a chart I will keep for the future as it would look beautiful in a nursery and would be loved by the child and his/her parents.

Lesley Teare is one of my favourite designers as I love her colours and subjects. This month, she has produced 4 gorgeous cards, each with a "dream cottage" on. Around the edge of each design she has included flowers that climb around beautifully. They are definitely on my To-Do list, as they suggest you can either stitch them as House Warming cards, or stitch all four as a combined picture.

Samplers feature throughout this issue of Collection and Jane Greenoff (the Grand Ma'am of Samplers!) gives advice and tips about how to design your own. There is also a free supplement this month which includes a selection of Jane's flowers which she shows you how to stitch onto an afghan. There is plenty for you to read in her editorial as well - a real treat for all who enjoy her works.

Maria Diaz's second offering is a set of small pictures called "Fashion Accessories" using metallic threads. They feature glamorous fashion items like a dress, a handbag and shoes. All the colours are soft pinks, purples and aqua greens and use beading around the handbag. Very smart!

As you can see, there is a lot to keep you busy until next month - Happy Stitching everyone.

August 24, 2006

Finishing the Seed Sampler

Well I 'll make a promise here - I will finish the Lesley Grant Seed Sampler first, before going on to the Gail Bussi Road to a Friend's House .... despite the fact that managed to send me all the threads I ordered within 24 hours (which I was very impressed by). So you can imagine that the temptation to start the new project is quite strong ... but I think there are a few people out there who want to see the finished Sampler - so I will keep going with it and hopefully sometime next week, I will be posting a finished photo and we can do that Happy Dance!

Meanwhile, I could not resist sorting out all the threads into colours and marking up the symbols on my homemade thread sorter - this is just a piece of white card with holes punched in (I am sure most of us do something similar - very ecofriendly, reusing pieces of card rather than buying new ones in a shop!).

Happy Thursday everyone!

August 23, 2006

Pirates and Progress on my Seed Sampler

Here is a photo of my progress on the Seed Sampler. I can't wait to finish it, as it has taken quite a while now, mainly because it has a lot of solid blocks of colour to stitch which always seems to take ages! You know how impatient we stitchers get when a project lasts longer than a few weeks ... time to finish and get onto something new and exciting! In my case, I am excited about starting the Gail Bussi Road to a Friend's House chart.

My threads for that chart were despatched yesterday according to the e-mail I received, so I am hoping that if they arrive by the weekend, I will be able to start next week - I am trying to be 'good' and finish off the Seed Sampler first, so that it doesn't quickly turn into a UFO :-(

The part I am working on is top right, the hanging basket - I am now filling in the background in a creamy, ivory colour. Its a bit monotonous and I am eager to move onto the last part on the left, which is a woman sitting in a colourful garden wearing a traditional costume, with a bonnet and reading a book. Then I just have to stitch the small poem underneath and do the backstitching ... and Voila, ready to frame!!

As you have probably experienced, Blogger sometimes does not allow us to upload photos - this has been happening for the past couple of days, but today it is behaving itself, so here is a photo of Pirates which I wanted to post with my review of Cross Stitch Gold. I think its a really cute and humourous chart - there is lots going on and its great if you fancy stitching it for a young person's birthday or even for Christmas. I think it would suit a boy or girl as it captures the spirit of adventure at sea. They suggest that you can personalise it by adding the person's name in the cloud. On the photo it says "Shiver Me Timbers". For those of you who are not familiar with those words, its a very typical "saying" that a Pirate says - I am not sure quite how to explain what it means, but its similar to "Goodness me!", I suppose :-)

The weather in England is due to get wetter and cooler towards the end of August and September. I guess we should be grateful for the end to the drought which was beginning to worry many people, especially the gardeners amongst us! But it is sad that the end of the summer may be upon us. Fingers crossed that September and October may result in a late summer burst of warmth as sometimes happens.

August 21, 2006

In Search of Margaret!

Well the vote is out for my next Project and it looks as if Gail Bussi's beautiful Quaker design is a clear favourite.

In case you could not see it in the photo, the words in full are:

The Road to a Friend's House ... is paved with happy thoughts!

I have had quite a few votes by e-mail and blog to stitch this one next, so I think it is a clear winner, with the Traditional Sampler coming in a close second. I know I will get round to stitching all the different ones I mentioned, its just in which order to do them, Decisions Decisions, as Mayte said :-)

Margaret, there are quite a few of your blogging friends who would love to visit your blog and say hi, however your profile does not show your Blog link. Could you post the URL for your blog as a comment here and I will ensure other people get to know about it. We will also be able to update our links on our Blog to show you there. If anyone else has found out Margaret's blog/website URL (Stitch or No Stitch), feel free to share it with all of us as Margaret often visits everyone's blogs and it would be good to return the compliment! I have ordered the threads for Gail Bussi's design already!

I only have around 3-4 hours worth of stitching to complete the Seed Sampler so I don't feel toooo bad ordering yet more stash.... hey life is too short to worry about things, huh?

Stay happy, stay stitching.
Ali xx

August 20, 2006

Review of Cross Stitch Gold Issue 42

This is one of the best issues of Cross Stitch Gold in recent months - I would probably put most of the designs onto my Wish List of future To-Do's but realise I may be a bit unrealistic in being able to do all of them ... but that's cross stitching addiction for you, I guess ;o)

As you can see from the cover, there are some lovely charts to stitch. I have taken photos of the best designs so you can see for yourself!

My favourite, which will definitely go on my To-Do List is the Quaker-style design by Gail Bussi, called The Road to a Friend's House. As you can see from the photo, the dimensions are unusual, being a long narrow shape (may be a bit more tricky finding a frame for it, so it may need to have a frame made to measure). The design is gorgeous, with soft colours and wonderful detail (including the charms) and I can already picture it hanging up in the hall! Continuing with the embellishments theme, there is a page of charming Garden Greetings Cards designed by Debra Page. She has used Injabulo buttons which are Fair Trade merchandise. You can be sure of getting lovely original items to decorate your cards, and you are also contributing to a worth cause by giving people in in South Africa dignity and help to support themselves and their families. The designs are all of a Garden theme, with cute bird houses and flowers such as sunflowers, delphiniums and poppies.

Maria Diaz has designed a Woodland Fairy as part of a series. It is has a wonderful autumnal feel to it with rich late-summer cerise and purple flowers and fruits with beige brown foliage in the background. You will see a photo on the cover of the magazine (pictured above).

Finally, the 'cute' submission for this copy of Gold is The Pirates by Jenny Barton. Unfortunately, Blogger is playing up (AGAIN!) and I cannot upload the photo of it, but you can see a tiny one on the cover of the magazine above. Its such a humorous piece, I cannot resist it - and have it on my To-Do List. Probably not top ... as I have a lot of other ones, but I would like to do it for the bathroom :-) I think I would adapt the colours a little, by adding some turquoise colours to the sea, so that it coordinated with my bathroom which I recently decorated with "Cool Aqua" paint.

I hope you enjoyed this review!

Back to Blogging

I have been meaning to write a blog entry for about a week and somehow have not managed to do so - I hope you have missed me as much as I have missed you :-)

The month of August seems to be slipping away so fast, I don't know where the time has gone.

I received this month's Cross Stitch Gold, and there are some really great charts in there so I will do a review tomorrow and take a few photos of the best features.

As far as my crafting activities are going, I have been working on my Seed Sampler and will take a WIP photo tomorrow as well. It is probably quite near to completion except that there are some rather large 'blocks' of colour to stitch which take up a lot of time. Only 2 more sections to do and I will be able to frame it!

I have a couple of options for my next project, either:

1. The companion sampler to the Seed Sampler, called Garden Sampler, which is similar in style but quite different in content - it has a lot of greens as its theme shows an allotment with fruit and vegetables.

2. The sampler I showed you a few blog entries back, with the additional embellishments

3. A Traditional Sampler which I have modified to include some words of one of my favourite poems by Christopher Marlowe (its rather romantic!).

I enjoyed a nice evening at San's house with her and her DBF. We had very little time for stitching (as normal!) as we were talking and eating a lot of the time. It will be our last meeting for a while because she is away on holidays in France now, but we will get together when she returns to England in a few weeks' time.

I have found the energy and 'inspiration' to do some research work for my dissertation. This involves going to the University Library on a Friday and sitting there surrounded by books and academic papers on Knowledge Management. Yes, yes .... I would rather be stitching, say no more :-) !!!!

Hope you are all well, and enjoying the summer ... in England, we have gone from beautiful heat and long summer days, to an almost autumnal feel. The evenings are noticably shorter as it now gets dark by 9pm. I have felt saddened by the fact that I have not enjoyed this long, hot summer because I have not had my DH to share such happy times. He would have enjoyed all the warmth and sunshine ..... and now it is giving way to autumn already. Such is life, I suppose .....

August 06, 2006

Review of Cars (Pixar - Disney Studios)

I can recommend the new Disney film called Cars. I went to see it with a few friends from work the other day and I personally thought it was a really lovely "feel-good" film. The story centers around a bright red racing car called Lightning McQueen (pictured above - source: and his ambition to be the youngest car to win the renowned Piston Cup. After being involved in a dead-heat with 2 other cars, a re-match is called in Los Angeles so the cars have to travel there. En route Lightning rolls off his trailer lorry and ends up in a deserted town called Radiator Springs where he meets some new friends who teach him that there are other things in life than winning and possessions. Its a lovely story, with great characters (not a single human in the entire film - all cars, trucks, lorries and vans). I really enjoyed it!

August 05, 2006

The Happy Dance - Welsh Sampler (Framed)

Here, as promised, is a photo of my Welsh Sampler, from the design in Brenda Keyes' Traditional Samplers book. I am really pleased how it has been framed - as you can see it has a double mount in terracotta and teal green to pick up the two prominent colours in the border of the sampler.

The framing was carried out by The Framing Gallery in High Wycombe and the person who did the work, made a first class job of it, in my opinion!

This weekend has been very busy! I have decided to "declutter" my life, so to speak. In the week I ordered a skip to be delivered on Thursday (it is now on my driveway). So far, I have been sorting out the garage, removing a lot of junk that had accumulated since we were doing DIY etc. Also the front room had become a dumping ground for all our DIY materials (tools, paint pots and other assorted materials). Well, a lot of it has ended up on the skip if it is of no use and now it all looks very tidy in the garage (I think I will actually be able to get my car in it, finally :-) and the front room is very empty which is good, as I am getting someone to re-do the fireplace and then I am going to decorate. I think the colour scheme will be brown and turquoise which is a very popular combination at the moment and one I really think works well together. I will take before and after photos to post here in case anyone is interested!

Tomorrow I have a couple of friends coming round and we are going to take up the carpet in the hall, stairs and landing, and the living room. This will go onto the skip and then I am getting some new carpets fitted in the last week of August - I was getting fed up of paint-splodges and frayed edges :-) Thats all for now - with all this activity I think its time for bed!!

August 01, 2006

Another Gardening themed Sampler!

When I was in Hobbycraft yesterday, I saw the Garden Sampler shown above and liked it so much, I decided to treat myself. Its really cute, with additional embellishments - there is a rake, trowel and fork which you can stitch onto the canvas once you have complete the cross stitch part. And the fabric is a rustic colour 28 ct linen and threads are DMC - just perfect!

Seed Sampler updated photo

Here is an up to date WIP photo for you to see my progress on Lesley Grant's Seed Sampler. As you can see, I am now in the upper quadrant of the piece, stitching the hanging basket (shown with the bluey coloured semi-circular shape, which will soon look a lot more like a basket than it does at the moment).

Another update I can give you is that I decided to get my Welsh Sampler professionally framed. I have ordered a double mount (colours - turquoise and terracotta to pick up the tones in the border) and the frame will be a plain style (no embellishments). I chose the frame as I wanted it to compliment, rather than dominate, the sampler design itself. I have decided to hang it in the living room over the fireplace, so I think it will be a nice focal point for the room. The framer said he is going to have it ready for me by Friday so I should be able to add a photo onto my blog at the weekend.

The weather has definitely cooled down in England, much more comfortable than it has been recently. Hope its all going well, where you are!