September 29, 2006

25 Stitchy Questions

As many of you will know, poor San is having awful problems with her Blog and lost a lot of recent records - hope it all gets sorted out soon San, we rely on your brilliant Mag Reviews etc! I did take a look at some of her earlier entries about a week ago, before the nightmare started, and found this great series of questions - so thanks for the inspiration and if anyone wants to have a go, feel free to "steal with pride" as we say at work - hey why reinvent the wheel?

1. How old were you when you started cross stitching?
I started Cross Stitching when I was about 20, but have been sewing and making things since as far back as I can, so probably when I was 5 or 6 years old. My teddies and dolls were the best dressed in the neighbourhood :-)

2. Who taught you to cross stitch?
I taught myself, using magazines as a guide. I found it really easy to pick up the technique, but I must say, my work has become a whole lot neater over the years - its all down to practice and experience
3. What inspired you to begin cross stitching?
I sent away for a "Seaside" kit from a magazine and that got me hooked!

4. What has been your most difficult cross stitch piece?
A Brambly Hedge Wedding Sampler with a bride and groom mouse - lots of colour changes, backstitch, French knots etc!

5. Do you have friends that stitch?
I have several crafty friends and lots of global crafting friends via the Internet!

6. What is your favourite stitched piece?
My Welsh Sampler - really lovely colours and traditional style.

7. What is your favorite fabric?
I love Evenweave, and 16 count aida is ok too.

8. What is your favorite fiber?
DMC threads.
9. What is your favorite needle?
I just use the freeby ones you get with kits and they are fine!

10. Do you prefer black & white or colored charts?
Definitely coloured is much easier to track what you have stitched and what is still to do. I cant remember using any black and white charts.

11. How many Works In Progress do you have at this time?
Only 1 that I am working on at the moment - Lesley Grant's Seed Sampler

12. How many UFOs do you have at this time?

13. How many cross stitch charts/kits/mags do you own?
I have about 11 kits (2 traditional samplers, 1 DMC Garden Sampler with embellishments, Poppies in a Field scene, an Art Deco piece from Stitch '05, 3 Flower Fairies, a Country Companion set with 6 charts and threads, a Jane Greenoff Music Sampler called "If Music be the Food of Love" and 2 wildlife kits. I don't keep magazines for very long as they take up space, so I cut out the charts I like and keep them in folders, then try to give away some to people who advertise for Wanted's

14. How much fabric do you have in stock at this time?
Quite a few pieces of Aida and some Linen and Evenweave for specific projects that I have not stitched yet - if only I had more time!!
15. Where is your favorite place to stitch?
I have a chair in the living room which is positioned so that the daylight is on my left side - this sounds very exact, but it is because I only stitch in natural light and prefer the left so that it does not cast a shadow on my work.

16. What is your favorite time of day to stitch?
I like to stitch all morning on Sunday's - the rest of the time, it is a question of stitching when I get the chance, so sometimes at lunchtime sometimes about 30 minutes before work

17. How many pieces have you stitched in your lifetime?
I have lost count, but I guess 50 or so cards and maybe 30-ish projects - that isn't a great deal, but as I work full-time and have been studying for a BSc and now an MSc for the last 7 years, that is quite good going!
18. Do you give your stitched pieces away?
Yes, most of the things I make have been for special occasions, such as Weddings, Births and just birthday gifts.

19. How many different fibers do you have in stock at this time?
I prefer to use DMC threads but I use a few metallics and the new Light Effects as well.

20. How many pairs of scissors do you own?
I have about 20 pairs - that sounds a lot but I have dressmaking, soft furnishing, needlework, cross stitch and many different special effects scissors for making nice edgings for cards.

21. Do you use stitching enhancers (lights, scroll frames…etc)?
I have never got on with frames or hoops and I think that natural daylight is the only way to go!

22. How many pieces that have been stitched but not yet framed or finished off in some other way do you have at this time?
None - the one thing I am quick at is framing! I see no point in completing a project and then not displaying it - also if it is for a gift, of course it has to be completed in time for the special event!

23. Do you have a craft/stitching room?
Yes, I have lovely cupboards and shelves that my DH put in for me

24. Why do you stitch?
I love to create and also like to watch the picture gradually take form over time. Also it is wonderful to give a friend or member of the family something I have made myself - so much nicer than shop-bought goods. Where's the fun in that?

25. What is your most memorable time related to cross stitching?
I really enjoyed Stitch '06 with San and her Mom when we met Margaret Sherry, Maria Diaz and Michael Powell, but Ally Pally '05 was good because we did some classes - Japanese embroidery and a great Jane Greenoff Sampler stitch along.

September 24, 2006

Late Summer Gardening

I thought I would take the opportunity to 'snap away' in the back garden as the UK is enjoying some lovely sunny weather at the moment (albeit interspersed with some dramatic thunder storms). This time of year, one never knows how long sunshine will last. It seems as if my pots have suddenly regained some strength and are now bursting forth with a whole new crop of colourful flowers after a bit of a lull in Aug/early Sept. I also think that the rain fall we had this week helped a lot. I repainted the garden furniture with Cuprinol (wood conditioner) which has darkened the wood beautifully, so thought I would show off my hard work :-)

On Friday, we had rain in almost monsoon-like proportions. I was sitting in the library at University in the afternoon watching the torrents of rain falling down for well over an hour, with leaden skies and claps of thunder .... wondering how I could possibly get back to my car (which was a good 10 minutes walk across the campus) without being a complete drowned-rat with all my books, papers and writing materials spoiled. I was only wearing a pair of thin trousers, summer top and cardigan, as it had been mild and fairly bright in the morning. Thankfully by 4pm, the rain stopped sufficiently for me to be able to take a quick walk back to the car and I guess the blessing was that I did get a couple of extra hours' work done as I was "a captive" in the library :-D ...... Maybe Mike decided that I needed to get that extra work done and then at 4pm turned off the tap and let me get back safely without getting wet!

To Margaret, Ash and Carolyn, I have sent off your magazines - World of Cross Stitch/Cross Stitch Card Shop/Crazy - in the post this weekend so I hope you will soon be able to "feast your eyes" on the designs.

Happy weekend everyone
Alison xxxx

Review of Cross Stitch Gold Issue 43

I received the latest issue of Cross Stitch Gold yesterday and it appears that it is becoming very popular with people out there, so I feel I should review it for you quickly this month, notable because it has a mainly Christmas/Seasonal theme

Lesley Teare is prolific in this issue and has produced a couple of stunning projects. The first is called Plush Plumage, referring to a Peacock and is full of wonderful detail on the bird's feathers, as well as a mirrored theme on the border. I should also point out that it does not use any backstitching, so is ideal for those who prefer just stitching whole crosses without further need to outline afterwards.

Lesley has also designed a really cute Christmas Shaker-style picture, which is my favourite of this issue. It is versatile because you could actually stitch any of the smaller panels for special Christmas cards in a fraction of the time .... or else stitch the whole project for a present (even to treat yourself :-D
On the Santa theme, there is an advent calendar by everyone's fave, Maria Diaz, called Mother Christmas. The only thing that I find a bit confusing is that against each day, there is a small ring attached to the fabric, into which you put a sweet - but I am not sure what sort of sweets would fit in the ring ... hmmm a bit strange - but the design is still cute (although Mrs Claus' mouth could do with a bit of 'remodelling' as it does not look very natural unfortunately ....).

Karen Britton's style is instantly recognisable with her "Overlooking Evensong" picture. Those who love cats will be particularly keen on this. The colours are bright, and quite solid in style - the cat has got a very funny little smile, rather cute!

Other projects in the magazine are Winter Retreat, a Lilliput Lane style cottag with fir tree and some snow on the thatched roof, Stained Glass designs to make into Christmas cards, Seasonal Floral display with white lillies and a Westie dog with robin and poinsetta.

Well, its sunny outside today, so as normal at this time of year, its quite a struggle to start thinking of Christmas projects when we are clinging onto the last few weeks of late-summer, early autumn!

September 17, 2006

Latest Progress on Seed Sampler

Hope you are all enjoying an active or restful weekend (whichever is your preference!). I have spent this morning sewing my Seed Sampler and here is the WIP photo I promised. There have been lots of colour changes (and a bit of frogging unfortunately!!) but I have managed to get the lady sitting on her bench* reading a book looking right - I think I skipped a line in the pattern, which is where the frogging came in :-(( Eventually on the right hand side, there is a huge geranium (which is the picture on the packet of seeds) and a header at the top with some bumble-bees buzzing around - can't wait to start that bit! At the moment, all the colour changes are slowing me down but that's the Cross Stitcher's lot, I'm afraid :-)

**NB: I know it probably looks as if the lady is floating in mid-air at the moment, but once I have completed all the backstitching, she will definitely be sitting on a bench LOL!!

I have
been called upon to make 50 wedding favours for a friend's wedding coming up in about 3 weeks so that will be keeping me occupied each evening next week because I want to get them finished in time to hand the box to her when I see her in about a week's time. I am doing little choccies in some netting circles, gathered at the neck and fastened with gold ribbon and a tiny gold rose to finish off. I will take a photo when I finish them so you can 'inspect the work' LOL!

I am looking forward to starting my stitching project with Margaret at the start of the new year. We are doing the 12 Days of Christmas (MS designs from her booklet given away in Cross Stitcher). I am very honoured that Margaret has invited me to pair up with her on such a project and it is going to be something really special to look forward to after a year that has been incredibly difficult for me. I hesitate to say that I want to forget the year as the events, tragic though they have been to me, are a part of my life and one cannot separate oneself from life-changing experiences as they shape you into the person you are and will be in the future. Its just getting through and surviving that is the key thing now. However, it will be great to focus on our 12 Days project, as a way of being positive for the future.

I am starting to make a birthday card for my friend's DH whose birthday is just before Christmas - he is a very keen cyclist so I am stitching one of those "The World's Greatest ..." series from The Cross Stitch Card Shop magazine for him - of course its The World's Greatest Cyclist and I am going to personalise it with his club colours and even his bike and cyclists helmet will be the right colours. Will keep you posted on the progress, of course!

Happy Sunday everyone!

September 08, 2006

World of Cross Stitch November 2006

I have a spare copy of the latest edition of World of Cross Stitch which is full of Christmas designs, and includes a free Flower Fairies Calendar, a card containing extra charts and a pack of Christmas craft cards + envelopes. Click here to read what AngelSan says in her review of the magazine yesterday.

I was wondering if I could interest a fellow XStitcher in this issue, in exchange for a different Cross Stitch magazine or maybe something else "craft-related" - whatever you would like to swap.

I would mail out the magazine plus the additional freeby gifts in a padded envelope.

If you are interested, please let me know and we can exchange e-mail addresses!

September 05, 2006

STOP PRESS - No longer searching for Margaret Sherry Book

Nela says she has now received her copy of the MS freeby she wanted - in fact, I misread her e-mail and in fact she was looking for the Astrocats Calendar which finally arrived in the Post.

All's Well that Ends Well!

Does anyone have a spare copy of the Freeby from July/Aug Cross Stitcher mag - the Ultimate MS book. I have been asked by Nela (who many of you will know visit XS blogs, especially mine and AngelSan) as she lives in South America and due to problems with both logistics of getting issues of the magazine out to her (they keep getting lost in the post!) and also the language barrier, she has asked me to intervene and help her.

If anyone has a spare copy or can suggest anything other than eBay that I don't really like using, it would be great.

I would really like to help a fellow Crafter if I possibly can :-)