Friday, December 14, 2012

Advent days, stitching pleasures

Victoria Sampler's "Fleece Navidad"
As the December days darken towards the winter solstice, and as our Advent preparations lead us towards the great festival of Christmas, I'm still stitching here.   My camera is currently out of commission, but I decided I'd post anyway, using some previous photos that you might not have seen before.  

Victoria Sampler's Fleece Navidad is one I stitched several years ago - it's now hanging on the wall of friends who have a flock of sheep.  I love the design, and there's still enough thread left for me to stitch one for myself too :)  

This Nativity sampler was the first cross-stitch piece that I worked on linen, 32 count if I recall correctly.  The design was from one of the Spirit of Christmas books - I still hadn't discovered the wealth of samplers, both historical reproductions and modern interpretations,  available (in those pre-internet days LOL), but I still like the sampler itself, although I might have had it framed a little differently.  

Lights of Advent - JCS
Every year I still love to stitch ornaments for some special people - this small ornament (about 3 1/2 inches square) is for a church friend and features an Advent wreath, one of the ways that this "time of quiet waiting"  helps us to focus on the spiritual truths of the Advent and Christmas seasons.  

When the camera is operational again, I'll take photos of more ornaments, including one that I've stitched for my Sampler Guild exchange this year - working on small pieces like these is also a great way to learn new techniques, practice different stitches, and try out finishing methods (always my greatest challenge!).

"L.T" - Twigg Miniatures
"Sarah Twigg" - Twigg Miniatures
As far as future stitching plans, I'm participating in  Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year group.  Nicola, a stitcher from Cornwall who does some beautiful work and has a lovely blog   ( people to help her celebrate her 50th birthday by stitching any of the samplers from the Scarlet Letter company. I've had the Twigg Miniatures in my stash for quite some time now, so I was able to answer Yes to the invitation in the early days of the challenge, and we're amazed that the group has grown to over 125 now.  The above photos from the Scarlet Letter website are the pieces I'm doing - they're very small but as one of them is done entirely "over 1", it should keep me out of trouble ;)   I'll try to add a link to the separate group in my sidebar shortly, but till then, here's the address -

Best wishes for a blessed Advent and a happy Christmas - until the next time .....   

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time to Stitch on Snowy Days

Time for my weekly update now :)  I've managed to finish the last stitches and little details on several pieces this week.

The backstitching on High Hill Farm is finished now and I'll see about framing this next week, as a companion piece to Cragside Farm that I stitched and framed last year.  This has been a pleasure to stitch and I'm looking forward to seeing it hanging on the wall soon.  It reminds me of one of Beatrix Potter's farms in the Lake District - I almost expect to see Benjamin Bunny hopping along the lane. 

High Hill Farm - Derwentwater Designs (Rose Swalwell)
Tristan Brooks' Christmas Sampler Trio - first ornament
  Some of my Christmas stitching is coming along well - several of them will be finished off as ornaments, others placed into little frames - some will be given away, others kept for our own home.   The first is one of the Christmas Sampler Trio from Tristan Brooks - I may do a second of this design with a word change to Peace on Earth, and I'll decide soon whether to do the other two designs in this series as well for this year.  

These two small pieces are from Homespun Elegance:  Snow Much Joy, and Reindeer A Waiting.  They were easy to stitch and will be fun to finish off as gifts, using quilting remnants as backing.   
Reindeer A Waiting - Homespun Elegance
Snow Much Joy - Homespun Elegance
Monasterium's Four Seasons Quaker

 And at the same time, I'm continuing to stitch on my Monasterium's Four Seasons Quaker - moving into the autumn section now, using Belle Soie's Terra Potta, a beautifully variegated silk thread.  The little bit of blue to the left of it is the test section of the "Winter" colour, Belle Soie's Babbling Brook.

All being well, next week's update should see more completed on this Autumn section, a glimpse at a small new piece that I've already started (and might have completed by then), and some stitches put into my most challenging project to date,  a group teaching sampler from Amy Mitten.

Off now to make some Curried Ginger Scones - the ginger syrup for these is already prepared, and the pungent scent of the scones baking will be welcome on this snowy autumn day - more snow in the forecast for tonight and the next two days, adding to the half a foot of snow we already have on the ground. 

Till next time :)  

Friday, October 19, 2012

A little progress

We've had family staying here for a couple of weeks, so I haven't been able to stitch quite as much as usual.  However, I've completed another section of a long-time UFO, Monasterium's Four Seasons Quaker.  I've finished the Summer section, using Gloriana's Baby Corn silk.  I'd already finished the Spring section, stitched in Belle Soie's Shepherd's Pasture.   Some readers may recall that I'm stitching this piece in very muted shades, and although it may not be everyone's "cup of tea", I'm loving how this is working out (the original information on what I'm doing is posted here.)  The linen is proving to be beautiful, but not easy to work on, as it's very close-woven.  Here's the updated photo:

Monasterium's Four Seasons - Spring and Summer completed

I was also able to add a few stitches to the little Christmas Sampler ornament - a little Blackwork section, some French knots, and a row of "pins" stitch, a tiny satin-type stitch.  About 60% finished - maybe I'll be able to finish up with it this next week, although I'm also aiming to have High Hill Farm finished too.  Stay tuned ........

Christmas Sampler Trio Ornament (Tristan Brooks) - Goodwill to Men

 We've had mostly pleasant weather lately, with some brilliant autumn days.  On one excursion we drove out towards the mountains - here's a quick snap I took on the way through the front window of the car - can you see the snow on the mountains in the distance?   The snow was sparkling and brilliant, though just on the higher peaks so far.  Round hay bales were ready to be picked up soon in the harvested fields, and the colours of the trees and shrubs, though past their peak, were still warm and intense with the golds and rusts common to this area, made even more beautiful by the dark green firs and the blue autumn sky with high white clouds that day. 

Looking to the West
Till next week, happy stitching :) 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On a snowy autumn day it's time to show some progress :)

After a full summer and early fall, with two trips out of town, lots of company, and just Life in general, I'm finally able to concentrate again on my stitching and on some sharing of a few recent finishes and progress. 

Here's today outside my front window - very fine rain last night turned to snow, and a white covering still remains on the ground even this afternoon.  I'm sure it will disappear by tomorrow, but in the meantime we're reminded what's just around the corner :)  

As for stitching, I've been moving along on several pieces.  High Hill Farm isn't yet complete, but is now a lot more recognizable.  Mostly the cloud detail, the roadway, and the backstitching to finish ...... Although I seldom stitch "pictures" or work predominantly in cross-stitch, I do like the way this one is coming along, a companion piece to Cragside Farm that I completed last year.  

And with Advent and Christmas close on the horizon (barely six weeks till Advent Sunday), I'm working on several small ornaments.  I'll save my Advent stitching for a separate post, but these little Christmas tree ornaments are either finished or within a day or so of being completed:

This first ornament was from a small kit produced about 15 years ago - the pattern calls for the date and initials on either side of the row below the crown, but I think I'll leave this as-is and consider it as my  Diamond Jubilee ornament in honour of Queen Elizabeth's 60 years.  (maybe a small 2012 underneath the crown, what do you think?)   The beads were a nice addition, but I won't be doing a major beading project anytime soon LOL  

This Drawn Thread freebie, First Snow, is one of my favorites, in spite of every  one of those falling snowflakes being a Smyrna Cross stitch (on 36-ct Silver Fir linen) - my magnifier stood me in good stead here.  The threads are a mixture of Gentle Arts Sampler Thread, Weeks Dye Works, Soie D'Alger, and Fibers to Dye For (Amy Mitten's silk) - these ornaments are great for using up small amounts of thread. 

And this little piece to the right is what I've stitched so far of the Tristan  Brooks Christmas Sampler Trio - each ornament is a tiny sampler in itself, with more detail than I'd usually include (that little row of gold eyelet stitches, for example!) but the stitches are a good challenge, and I love working with the beautiful colours of the Pearsall's Silk that were included. 

The finishing off of these ornaments always trips me up, but hopefully I've learned more in this past year and can show you some completed pieces before the Christmas season is here. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer stitching and a distraction

First they had to be sorted
 Market season's in full swing now, and though I don't do the amount of preserving that I did at one time, I still like to "put up" some of the produce that's special.  Recently I was able to source some sour/tart cherries from my fruit supplier, and froze about 15 pounds for later use in jams, pies, or sauces (particularly with chicken or pork). 

then washed in smaller batches
Then finally pitted individually,  frozen loose on baking sheets, and later bagged. 

I think they're beautiful :)   

Now back to stitching (after scrubbing my hands really well LOL - though I did use food prep gloves for most of the pitting work! - I still use a vintage hand-held pitter)  .....  In the past few days I've pulled out another of the Derwentwater Designs kits and I'm concentrating on stitching it with the goal to have it finished before mid-August.  Here's the photo from the kit package, and my progress to date.

 It's a little finicky, with multiple colour changes and some blended threads, but so far not too stressful.

But another trip to the market today - I'm just hoping that the apricots aren't quite ready yet, as I need to do apricot jam this year, and I'd like to get more stitching completed first :)  

Till later ......

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cloister Garden finished

Life's been a little bouleversรฉ lately, with a house guest who had to stay longer than we'd originally planned,  but I was still able to get needle, thread, and linen together from time to time.  The result was, finally, a finish - Drawn Thread's Cloister Garden that's been in my workbasket for several years.  The multiple specialty stitches were challenging but, as usual, tremendously satisfying to master.  Here's a photo of the finished work - I'm still considering how to approach the framing.   The colours are very soft and should work well on the rose wall where it will hang.

Now back to that workbasket to see what else I can draw out of it - I see a couple of small ornaments, another British landscape, and of course some samplers .........

Our weather continues to be very warm but our garden room where I usually stitch  (with a door directly onto our patio) stays cool and pleasant.

Preserving and freezing seasonal produce will be a focus of the next few weeks, but stitching still remains a priority too :)   

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stormy skies

Looking west towards the Rockies
I've always loved the huge skies in our part of the country.  Here are some photos that I snapped quickly a day or so ago from a hospital waiting room where I  had to spend several hours.  One advantage of this particular room was a spectacular view over the valley towards the Rockies.  Because of the storm clouds moving in, the mountains aren't really visible - you might, however, be able to catch a glimpse of the Olympic ski jump along the ridge towards the centre of the first photo. 
 A view to the NorthWest
Looking west again - this is the main highway to the Rockies. 

I'd brought along a book to read (well, of course, "don't leave home without it" LOL), and at the last minute had tucked in a little cross-stitched ornament I'd been working on from time to time.  With the amazing light through those floor to ceiling windows, I needed neither extra light nor magnification, and was able to make good progress with it.  It's just  a whimsical little Homespun Elegance piece that will likely be a Christmas gift  this year.  Though it might stay right at home instead :)   Sorry for the fuzziness, I'll take a better photo once it's finished. 

 I'm still making good progress on the two Drawn Thread pieces, albeit a little slow - I'll post photos of those next time.  Thanks for coming along with me on this little diversion :) 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Four "F"s - ????

Drawn Thread's Violet Sampler
Seeing as I didn't post my progress after our long weekend in May, I thought it might be a good time now.  The "Four F-s"?  Frogged, Forward, Finished and Framed - 4 different stages for 4 different projects.  FROGGED?  That would be the Violet Sampler - the work I'd started on the chain stitch "filling" for the border wasn't to the standard I'd wish, so I unpicked it ("frogged", for those who perhaps haven't heard the term before LOL)  and will come back to that section later.   I did a little more on the body of the sampler, though - another alphabet, a couple of small motifs, and a row of satin stitches (I'm thrilled with how those look - there's nothing quite like the look of the AVAS silk for these).  Stitching on the dark background is the challenge here, and also the weave of the linen - it's an R&R hand-dyed fabric and I find the threads to be very close and tight; however, the colour's gorgeous, so I'm happy to continue :) 

Drawn Thread's Cloister Garden
"FORWARD" is Cloister Garden - another section done.  This one included an area in Queen Stitch, which I hadn't tackled for quite a while, and had to review the details of it.  I'm still not sure it's exactly right, but I think it looks ok (from a distance at least LOL) - it's the line of stitching inside the "pot".  And I'll have lots more practice in Queen Stitch on the Violet Sampler and my  Guild Anniversary sampler (a piece I haven't introduced here yet). 

Courtney Collection's  Red Bird

FINISHED?  Courtney Glau's Red Bird design, stitched with Belle Soie and AVAS on lambswool (probably 40 count, but possibly 36, I can't remember exactly ....).  This design reminds me of some of Emily Carr's paintings, with her images of the NW Coast rainforests.  Many other layers of meaning in it for me too, of course, perhaps I'll mention those later when it's framed.  Right now I've just set it into a frame that I may use after I've painted it. 

Gathering Honey - Framed and Mounted
And finally, FRAMED  - Gathering Honey is now framed and hanging on my main Sampler Wall.  I was able to use a lovely vintage frame that I had at home, and the framer found a mottled cream mat that couldn't have been more perfect for it.

So there we have it - four projects that were marching along, two complete, and now I'll concentrate more on the two Drawn Thread pieces with their multiple specialty stitches.  And of course, I just might pull out another straight cross-stitch piece to work on when I want a change ;)  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 10, 1942

50th Anniversary Gift

On this date, 70 years ago, my lovely parents-in-law, George and Marie, were married.  They lived to celelbrate 55 years together.  For their 50th Anniversary, I stitched this little kit, with various threads including wools and cottons on linen.  In those days, I just did the best I could with adding the "50" and their personal information to a stamped pattern, but Marie was thrilled that it was an approximation of my own writing LOL 
She set it out on the guest book table for the anniversary reception and then hung it in their living room afterwards.  I loved trying out the many different surface embroidery stitches, although I recall it being a dash to the finish to complete it and have it framed - we decided at the time to frame it without glass, as the stitches were highly textured and raised, and so far it's been satisfactory that way.   With many fond memories ......

Friday, May 18, 2012

Two Drawn Threads, a Courtney Collection and maybe a Quaker ....


As this is a long weekend, and our weather may not enourage us to spend the whole time outside, with temperatures tonight forecast to be at the freezing mark (0 degrees C), I`m hoping to do a fair bit of stitching.  I`ll be working on two or three projects - Drawn Thread`s Cloister Garden and also Violet Sampler, Courtney Collection`s Red Bird, and perhaps Monasterium`s Four Seasons Quaker.  Here are a couple of photos of those WIPs (except for the Quaker), and I`ll post at the end of the weekend (Monday night or Tuesday a.m.) to show you my progress.   See you  in a couple of days :) 

Courtney Collection`s RED BIRD


Monday, April 30, 2012

Finally - a Finish :)

Gathering Honey - Finished! 
For those patient readers who've been "watching paint dry" as I finished Gathering Honey, I'm pleased to show you a FINISH!  Yes, Gathering Honey is now done, after several years as a work in progress (and sometimes just a plain UFO (unfinished object) in the bottom of my stitching basket.    I've been tempted to abandon it several times, but I'm glad now that I didn't.  It hasn't been difficult to stitch, just a little challenging (and sometimes tedious!) in following the pattern details with multiple colour changes and lots of backstitching.  And at one point this past week, with almost 200 French Knots to do, I wondered what I'd been thinking of!

  I'll add my initials and the date after I've had it on my project board for a couple of days and can think a little more about where those would be best placed.  And then the fun of choosing a frame - I'll search first through my vintage frames and see if anything might be just right.  Whether or not to add a mat is still an open question - I've seen photos of this piece done both ways and I'm unsure yet.  Any opinions? 

What's next here at the Cottage?  I have Drawn Thread's Cloister Garden on scroll rods, as well as Monasterium's Four Seasons Quaker - my goal is to have Cloister Garden done by the end of May, but we all know about setting goals, don't we? LOL  I have a couple of Sampler Guild projects I'd like to work on as well, so we'll see ......  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Miles to go ....

Perhaps not quite miles of backstitching anymore - I can see some kind of light at the end of the tunnel!   I've been working conscientiously, though I had to take a break from my own stitching to complete two small white-on-white liturgical linens for my church to use at Easter. (I was stitching small crosses using a single strand of DMC's Coton a Broder for a stem stitched outline.)

 In Gathering Honey, I've now completed all of the dark brown backstitching in the central garden motifs (except for the bee skep) and in most of the lower right corner.  Six of the twelve bees are finished, so just the other half-dozen to complete, as well as the brown backstitching in the upper left floral section and the detailing in the two outer frames (and the skep, of course)  The citation for the quote needs to be added, and then I'll do the chain stitches (a few more bees and flowers), and then the French knots.  It may be a push, but stay tuned to see if I can have this all done by St. George's Day.  That WOULD be a reason for celebration :)   And once again, thanks for the boosts from the sidelines! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Bees' Knees

Nope, I  haven't been lost in a spring snowstorm yet (that might happen today, we have a storm warning here)  - just moving along one stitch at a time, and realizing that with way more backstitch that I'd anticipated, a finish by Easter was wildly over-optimistic and can't happen unless I hold off on the rest of life, like housework, laundry, baking, eating, and sleeping :)    

The bees'  knees?  Well, I started to realize the attention to detail in some of this pattern when I read the directions calling for a a different colour and thickness of thread in the top of the bees legs in contrast to the bottom (beneath the "knees" LOL).   I do have a couple of versions of the pattern, and it wasn't until I'd completed the first set of upper legs on all of the bees that I noticed that another version didn't call for quite so much detail.  Ah, well, that part's done now and I'll just keep on going!

    I took the photo several days ago, and since then, I've added much more backstitch and completed four of the bees - my camera's having battery issues, so that updated photo will have to wait till the weekend.   At least the snow might give me extra time for stitching ......

And many thanks again for those of you who are cheering me along - stitchers are a great group :) 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Honeycomb update

It's taken a while, but the honeycomb is finished! And I've made a start on the backstitching - the gray corners of the two frames have been outlined, the flourishes stitched around what will be the wording, and I've moved onto the flagstones.   Backstitching can be barely noticeable, but it does make a difference to the finished look - that said, I generally prefer patterns that have very little LOL  And this is the first design I can recall where the backstitching is done with several different  colours (about ten, if I recall).  No predictions on goals for this week, I'll just keep on with the backstitching, and maybe practice French knots on a spare piece of linen, as there are a lot more than I'd realized, well over 100 in that small lower right quadrant of the garden on those two green stems.   There's some chain stitch as well before I get to the French knots - lots to keep me interested :)    Thanks for those who are tagging along with me here - it's good to have company!  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Remembering Japan

It's been a year ago today, March 11, when the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan.  I wrote this post in May of 2011, after completing a special piece designed with these events in mind.   I thought it might be appropriate to repost a revised version now. 

New designer Kathy Bungard, of Gracewood Stitches, was very moved by the devastation in Japan from the earthquake and tsunami.  In response, she decided to donate her new pattern, Sanctuary, to anyone who requested it, and asked for donations to be sent to an appropriate agency, for this or similar disasters.  Her design, inspired by vintage woodcuts and by the natural world, evokes warmth and home as a refuge in the midst of wildnessand uncertainty.  I thought it appropriate here for me to use fabric and threads I had on hand, so found a piece of linen that a friend had given to me, and paired it with several DMC colours, predominantly a terra cotta and some blue-greens (although the original pattern called for grays instead of the blue-greens).   Each time I see this piece, I`m moved to remember and pray for all those going through difficult times - not just in Japan (and the crisis there is not over yet), but anywhere in the world.

The pattern's available at Gracewood Stitches, and you can find out more about Kathy's creative process in her blog which outlines her sources and how she develops and stitches her designs.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Buzzing ....

Not too much stitching done in the past couple of weeks - with company here there was little time to sit down and concentrate, but I did manage to make a little progress.   The dozen bees now have all the cross-stitching finished, and I've made a start on the honeycomb in the lower left corner.  The backstitching on the bees (and the rest of the design) is called for when the honeycomb's complete.   Our visiting house guest is a beekeeper (amongst other things LOL), and she very much liked this design, commenting on how accurate the bee skep was, although of course skeps haven't been generally used for well over a century. 

I also did one small band on Drawn Thread's Cloister Garden, just for a change of pace, but no photos of that one yet. 

After the snow storm earlier this week, there's water sluicing down the street now, and the temperatures are warm enough for us to pull out our spring jackets - but at the same time, we'll keep our winter coats not too far away.  I've lived here long enough not to be deceived by warm temperatures in March :)  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Progress in Gathering Honey

Images of flowers, bee-skeps and garden paths are a contrast to today's blowing snow and cold.  But I've been warm inside here, beside the fire, and have managed to complete the outer cross-stitched corners of the design.  Next will come the bees, and then I can finally begin with the backstitching and specialty stitches.  Here's the progress to date:

It doesn't seem like much of a change when I compare it to my earlier photo, but there were a lot of colour changes and quarter-stitches in there - I'm looking forward now to seeing what a difference the back-stitching will make.  However, bees first :) 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Once upon a time,

Gathering Honey

Once upon a time, long ago and far away, I started several stitching projects.  For one reason or another (running out of a crucial thread, life interfering, not knowing how to proceed with a stitch, etc., etc.), some of these were set aside.  And now the time's come to pick them up again and FINISH them.  Other projects are enticing, but none are currently urgent, so these three long-delayed pieces are now either in my stitching frame or ready to go.  The first is the longest-running, an old Better Homes and Garden piece called Gathering Honey (shown above).  I think there are over 4  dozen colours, and a few specialty stitches as well.  I can't remember when I started it, but I'd guess at perhaps six or seven years ago.  Here's my progress to date: 

Gathering Honey - progress to mid-February 2012

While I've stitched a lot, there's still lots more to come and it's not quick work.  So we'll see - I'm thinking that I'd like to have it finished by Easter, but in the past, setting myself deadlines has taken much of the pleasure from the stitching, so I'll keep that time in mind, but in the meantime just concentrate on enjoying each section as I do it.

The two stems in the lower right quadrant of the inner motif will later be topped by a yellow section of multiple French knots, something I haven't stitched for quite some time.  But seeing as I did a piece once that called for a couple of hundred of them, I think that the twenty or so from this pattern shouldn't be too daunting.   The threads for the design are DMC, stitched on about a 28-ct. linen. 

Two more are waiting in the wings after this one.   One's called The Cloister Garden, a design from Drawn Thread, stitched with Au Ver a Soie on 32 ct. linen in a soft mauve-y rose. 
     Here it is:

The Drawn Thread's design of The Cloister Garden , and my progress to date

 It was passed on to me from another stitcher several years ago, and after looking carefully at it and continuing with the small section she'd started, I realized that she'd started with the wrong shade of silk.  So I've re-stitched most of it, and hopefully won't take ages to finish it.  I have the instructions and suggestions from a group who stitched this together (each on her own project) - I'll see whether their ideas make my needles fly a little faster :) 

The final design of this floral triumvirate is another Drawn Thread design, The Violet Sampler.  Although I don't have an image at the moment of the original photograph on the pattern envelope, you can get an idea of it from my progress photo here - like the previous DT design,  it's also in silk on linen (sorry about the lack of ironing in this photo!) 

My progress on The Drawn Thread's Violet Sampler 

 The violet was the favorite flower of my mother-in-law - in her garden she cherished a few plants of this delicate spring flower from her native province of New Brunswick.   So once this is completed, I'd like to frame it carefully and hang it close to a photo of her as a young woman.

My stitching time won't  suffer from lack of possibilities :)