Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stash, beautiful stash!

I've been rather naughty lately. I went on a bit of a stash buying spree online, and it's all finally arrived!

I ordered a couple patterns from I generally dislike Joan Elliot designs -- her fairies and goddesses do nothing for me. However, I stumbled across her Geishas, and I was in love! I have no idea when I'll get around to stitching them, but I just had to have them in my hot little hands! My mom and I both spent several years learning to speak Japanese (for fun), so I bought Red Geisha for her (the colours are so my mom) and I bought Blue Geisha for me. They'll make a lovely set one day I think.

I also ordered some squissors from Mabel Figworthy's Fancies. I joined the year-long hardanger SAL that she's hosting, and thought that if I'm going to be doing so much hardanger, I should have better tools. Aren't they pretty?

Even though I sometimes dye my own fabric (and as a result I have oodles of dyed fabric in my stash), I just couldn't resist buying a few pieces from Sparklies in the UK.

These four are all 18x13 pieces of 28 ct lugana - from left to right, Oceans Depth, Aries, Rain, Basically Bonkers. They're nice, but not quite as vibrant as shown on the website. I chose these ones as potential backgrounds for the dragon charts I have from Fire Wing Designs.

For fun, I also ordered a 1/2 yard grab bag of lugana. Basically I get a hodgepodge of fabric colours picked by Sparklies with a few big pieces and some ornament sized pieces.

The bigger pieces (from left to right) are Dark Goddess (25 ct, 18x13), Misty Morn (28 ct, 18x13), and Pisces (32 ct, 18x27).

There were also a few smaller pieces, but they weren't labelled with names, counts, or sizes. They are quite nice though!

I've also been kind of naughty on the HAED front - a few have landed in my shopping cart during the February sales.

Little Red Riding Hood:

Peacock in Full Bloom:



Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I love my millenium frame. I mean I really LOVE it. I ordered more extension bars and now have 4 different sizes. However, the bigger ones are a tad heavy and certain areas are harder to reach when held in the hand. So, I bought my very first stand:

Necessaire Stand by Needle Needs
Isn't it pretty?

I received it right before I left for the retreat last weekend, and I assembled it the moment I got home. And yet, I still haven't had a chance to use it.  :(  I'm swamped with teaching and schoolwork right now. If I'm lucky I might have time next week to try it out.

At least it's here and waiting for me!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My First Retreat

Just got home from my very first stitching retreat. It. Was. Awesome.

It truly felt like Christmas - I stayed up late the first night talking, laughing, and stitching, then got up early the next day, stayed in my jammies, and went running out to the main room to stitch again. It was better than Christmas because it didn't end after one day!! Big shout out to my partners in crime - Caroline and Tracey!!

So much progress - oh my gooses!

The first night I worked like a madwoman and completed page 4 of Drama Queen. That's 6 pages completed now or 32, 582 stitches or 42.2%.

I stitched every day from 8am till 2am - barely stopping for meals. It was a blast! I will admit that my attention wavered a bit, so I changed projects frequently. Luckily I brought quite a few with me. The only one that didn't get any love while I was at the retreat was Elizabeth by Mirabilia. She'll come out to play once I have a few other WIPs finished.

Definitely made some progress on Cirque des Carreaux. I think I've finished about 2.5 pages of the 6.

I finally put a few more stitches into Rules For Life by Kincavel Krosses. I love this piece. I'm hoping to finish it sooner rather than later.

I had a few new starts as well.

I started Ice Blossom by Just Nan and it was a bit of a disaster. Not only was I stitching white on white which is challenging, but I was converting the recommended threads to HDF silk and DMC perles. I did quite a bit of frogging, and I still have more to frog because I stitched one part without the sparkly metallic it needs. *sigh* It looks okay though. I like the textural differences I've added.

I also started Sunflower Bee by HAED for my Dad (he doesn't know about this though). I gridded the first page and put in 100 stitches. It's 88,900 stitches in total, so bigger than Drama Queen, but I'm stitching it on 28 ct white lugana so it should be roughly the same size. No idea when I'll actually get this one done, but the chart is full of big blocks of colour for the first few pages. It should be an easy stitch for now.

I also managed another start/finish!! I worked on the February design in the SotW hardanger SAL from Mabel Figworthy's Fancies. I didn't follow the directions for colours and I changed the beads to French knots (I can just see the beads being ripped off by my nieces within hours of getting it), but I think it looks pretty good. I forgot how time consuming woven bars are to do! It felt neverending. I also found the bead edging stitch to be fairly difficult and quite annoying. I referred to it often as the "stupid stitch." It turned out all right in the end.

Overall, the retreat was amazing. I am dead tired, and yet I feel refreshed, re-energized, and more like a real person than I have in a long time. It was good to take a few days for me without any guilt and with little thought for school and my responsibilities there. I didn't even check email!! (I dread going to check it now though.)

I've already put in my deposit for the October retreat!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Another new finish

I had every intention that this year I would work on my big pile of WIPs and get it down to a more manageable size. So far this year all I've really managed to do is start (and finish) new projects!! I'm ridiculous. This is the third start/finish of 2013.

I tried to resist, really I did, but in the end I caved and joined in on the year-long hardanger SAL over at Mabel Figworthy's Fancies. I'm a little behind because I joined late (almost the end of January) and had to wait to visit my LNS to kit up. There are 12 designs (one released on the first of every month) and I've decided to stitch them in groups of four and make them into pillows for three of my nieces for next Christmas using their favourite colours.

I have only tried hardanger once before in January 2012 as one of my starts in the Ultimate Crazy January Challenge. It took a bit to get used to but they really do stitch up pretty quickly. This one is stitched on 25 ct white lugana using DMC 797, 799, and white in perle #5, perle #8, and regular cotton floss. I started and finished January last night (I gave up a lot of sleep for this one).

I'm not a fan of the tulip or leaf-like satin stitch motifs, but I LOVED stitching the star in the center. I also tried colonial knots for the very first time (normally I just do French knots which I finally "mastered" a few years ago). I had a hard time making the colonial knots without staring at the diagram for wrapping the thread, but all eight of them went off without a hitch. I think they look pretty good! I loved doing the lazy daisy (also called detached chain) and herringbone stitches. Those flowers turned out really well. I think they might be my favourite part of this design.

I still need to do the February design, but I'll be taking that with me to the stitching retreat next weekend. I can't wait!! Weeeee!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stitchy Stash From Across the Ocean

Have you ever heard me talk about Stashmas? It's a "holiday" made up by members of a forum I visit frequently. It's celebrated on Dec 1 and members of the forum send stitchy gifts to each other, cause getting stitchy surprises in the mail is AWESOME.

Anywho ... this year my Stashmas present never arrived. I was pretty down about it - mostly because I had taken so much pride and joy in picking out and assembling a great gift for my recipient (which is half the fun!) and then not to experience the other side of the fun took the wind out of my sails. 

My gift recipient loved her gift and was quite upset that I hadn't gotten anything. I refused to let her buy me a Stashmas present - she'd already sent one out to someone else and done her part in the exchange. A few months passed and she just wouldn't let up!! She insisted she needed to send me a thank you gift, not a Stashmas present. Let's just say she's a difficult person to say no to. 

Today -- a package via Royal Mail turned up at my door! I literally *squealed* with glee. I tore off the outer wrapping and saw this:

Shiny purple prettiness with a hand-stitched card!!! LOVE. IT. 

It hurt me a little to rip the paper, but what was inside made me squeal again!

Cirque des Coeurs by Ink Circles and 2 pieces of hand-dyed fabric! So pretty!! I love blues and purples. They are gorgeous. I've been eyeing that pattern for months - it's the perfect complement to Cirque des Carreaux that I'm stitching now.

And then ... 8 spools of scrumptious HDF silk. Not only did she send me my favourite silk in my favourite colours, but she somehow managed to send me colours I don't already have!! (And I stockpiled a lot of silk when I first heard that Vikki Clayton was planning to discontinue her silk thread line.) I'm in heaven!

From left to right, top to bottom: Dragon Hoard, Acts of Violets, Isle Green 3209, Isle Green3213, Aquamarine 2431, Alpine, Carribean Evening, and Blackberry.

I'm so happy and spoiled and speechless. Thank you Vanessa!! You made my day, my week, and my month!! Thank you!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Quick Love

I teased you at the end of my last post, saying that I was going to start something new at a stitchy night with friends. Well, I did, and now it's done!

This is Patriotic Heart - Scotland by Kincavel Krosses. I stitched this for one of my mom's best friends who just successfully finished fighting cancer. She's the sweetest Scottish lady I know!

I really like how the heart turned out, but I am not loving the framing job I did. It just feels like something is missing ... but I'm not sure what it might be.

Now - about my stitchy night! I've been participating in my LNS's monthly Sit & Stitch night for almost 2 years now and I've gotten to know quite a few of the women that attend. Last Friday night I was invited, for the first time, to a small stitchy gathering at one lady's house. It was 4 hours of glorious, chatty, stitchy fun!! It was one of the nicest evenings I've had in a long while. Stress-free with great company. I was in heaven!

I'm doubly excited because in 10 days I'm off for a 4-day stitching retreat (hosted by my LNS) for the very first time.

I. Can. Not. Wait!

I'll be driving up with two ladies close to my age (I'm 36 - quite young for a stitcher in my neck of the woods) and it almost  feels like I'm off to a slumber party in high school! Stitching, wine, and pyjamas - it sounds like a blast! I've also been informed that we are to bring 2 new starts and up to 5 WIPs for that weekend. Not a problem for me at all!

For new starts, I think I'm going to bring Ice Blossoms by Just Nan and Sunflower Bee by HAED. As for WIPS, I just have to bring Drama Queen and Cirque Des Carreaux.  I think I'll also bring Rules For Life, Elizabeth, and a new hardanger SAL that I'm hoping to put a few stitches into this week.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Infintesimal Progress & Hardanger Stash

I put in a few hours on Drama Queen this past week, and while I didn't get loads done, progress was made! I'm hoping for a page finish before the end of February.

I tried to resist, but I failed ... I joined in on the Mystery Hardanger SAL over at Mabel Figworthy's Fancies. I've decided to split the 12 monthly designs up into groups of 4 and do them as pillows for my nieces in their favourite colours.

I just picked up the necessary stash for the first pillow (4 designs) - DMC 797, 799, and white.

Now to find time to do it! It's been a year since I last tried hardanger, and while I do enjoy it since it's so quick, it does take a little more concentration than regular cross stitching.

I also have two more unplanned new starts in the works. I'm hoping to start one of them tonight when I go for a stitchy evening at a friend's place. Updates will be forth coming. :)