Tuesday, 28 December 2010

La - D - dah

Is that the correct spelling? Anyway - you know who I mean!

This is a freebie by the above aforesaid aforementioned which I completed just - JUST - before Christmas.

So - you're toddling along, doing the last minute things, making a list, checking it twice and then leaving it at home, when you get a text message from your much loved nephew.

He explains how he would really, really like a piece of sewing for his girlfriend, but don't worry about anything too elaborate, just something like his mum and I have hanging from door handles everywhere.

Oh bother!!!

I didn't want to let him down so the wrapping of gifts, the buying of food, the cleaning of house is abandoned whilst I search through hundreds of charts to find something appropriate and more crucially, do-able, in the time.

His girlfriend, is, like him, a journalist - haha - a wordsmith I thought. Letters = words = sentences = news features = Victoria.
I'll choose an alphabet.


So this is the one I chose. It is stitched over one using HDF Be-grimed for the black and a WDW for the bronze.
It is finished as a hanger (as requested!). It has tiny black beads as an edging and a plain black fabric as backing. The ribbon, which you can't see in this really very poor photo, is a narrow black and bronze stripe.

Toby later explained how they had decided to spend only a small amount of money on each other this year, but were allowed to call in favours from others.

Mmmm - might try that myself next year!!!

I also completed and had framed the Red Cardinal 'Tis the Season' from the BBD Joyeux Noel booklet for my mother. I missed out the words to make it more displayable all year and added some extra snowflakes to fill in the gap. I loved it. My mother - not so much!!! I tried to take a picture, but the glass reflected back and it was too poor to show here.

Can fingers have Tourette's Syndrome? I think mine have. This would gave been totally unreadable had I not made a real effort to correct it. ( ir cirect if!!)

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and we can now look forward to what I hope will be a healthy and happy New Year.

Irene xxx
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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Blackbird Design Exchange Round 6

When you received your JCS magazine Ornament edition this year, did you seek out a particular designer, or did you browse all the pages?

Well - I always look for Blackbird Design's contribution and this year it was this lovely thing. Is the flower a poinsettia do you think?

Anyway - this was my choice to stitch for the Blackbird Design Exchange Round 6. It is Christmassy with it's colours, but would work throughout the year too, I think. I mostly used the recommended threads and chose to stitch it one over one.

I made it up into a little needle case for Barbara (I always put too many 'a's into her name!) at Mainely Stitching.

I stitched a little herringbone line for the spine and finished the edge with ruby red beads. There is a cream border and date on the front too and a couple of motifs but they have almost disappeared in this photo.

Inside I lined it with a small red check print and chose a green wool needle page. The whole thing is only a couple of inches square. The needle case ties with a red silk ribbon with a couple of beads to make it a bit more weighty.

OK. And fancy too!

I really liked this project when it was finished and I'm glad to say that Barbara seems to like it too.


Thanks for visiting,
Irene xxx
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Monday, 13 December 2010

Some stitching at last!

This is a small ornament I completed recently - it was actually the one I was searching for when I found the prayer in my previous posting. It is a freebie by Drawn Thread called 'Home for the Holidays' It is stitched over one on a 28 count linen from some I had already. I used the threads as listed which were mostly Weeks Dye Works. It is finished in twinkly iridescent beads which are really not doing their twinkly stuff here!

The beads around the border of the house (not in the edging) are stitched around with a Broad Diagonal Stitch which was charted. I did it, although I didn't think it would show much, but actually it does and I like it.

I stitched a second one like this but finished by doing the Broad Diagonal Stitch in red - mmmm not so good! I tried to frog it but the whole piece is so tiny that I couldn't get the red staining out, so in the end I just re-stitched in red. I think it takes the sparkle from the beads somehow.

Both ornaments are backed with motifs from a large piece of fabric I bought when I was in Fobbles in Cumbria in the Autumn. I am pretty sure it is a BBD fabric and has lots of different snowmen and winter trees and little crows which I thought would be really useful for backing ornaments. And so it has proved to be!

It is about now that the panic sets in for me! I have in previous years finished an ornament for special friends and would like to continue with this - but hey - when am I going to do them all? Do you, like me, wish you really had completed an ornament every month as you said you would, so that now your only problem would be which to send to who?

I have just about finished the piece I am stitching for my mum from the Joyeaux Noel (BBD) booklet called 'Tis the season'. This is GOOD thing, because I need to have it framed yet!

And then maybe I can do a couple of ornies.

Or I could do Snow Garden for my sister which is kitted and ready to go but is a sizeable project at this time of year?

Or I could write my Christmas cards?

Or find a tree?

Or find the decorations?

Or have another cup of coffee?

The latter I think!

Have a good day,

Irene xxx

Edit - I have just heard that Barbara received my gift in the Blackbird Design Round 6 so I will show pictures later this week. If you would like a preview - pop over to her blog http://mainelystitching.wordpress.com

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Friday, 10 December 2010

So true!

I found this little prayer on another blog quite a while ago and it made me smile. I found it again among my pictures whilst searching in vain for the photographs of two ornaments I finished recently, so instead of the sewing I thought I would share this in the hope it will brighten your day too.

Irene xxx
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Monday, 6 December 2010

And milk comes frozen home in pails - almost

Now, I really like Picasa as a place to store and edit my photos. It's fairly simple to use, even for a klutz like me, and I can manage simple editing. However, I have only ever been able to download one photo at a time to my blog.

Until now!!!!!

Today I did what I should gave done a long time ago and actually looked at the tips for using Picasa and now - as many photos as I want! Itsa kinda magic!


So the FIRST (!) photo is of my lovely setter Meghan in the snow. I haven't shown her for a while, but she's still here keeping me company, being my friend.
And the SECOND photo is of frozen milk.

So worth waiting for eh?

Some of my American friends who pass by this way may not know that here in England, one of our old traditions is to have a milkman. Yep - we have a man (or woman) who gets up at some godforsaken hour in the morning to deliver our milk to our doorstep. We just open the door and there it is, fresh milk in a glass bottle, just as ordered.

It could also be cream, or fresh orange juice. That's pretty special isn't it, but not something I take for granted. It is so easy now to pick up plastic cartons of milk from the supermarket that many people do just that and have abandoned their friendly milkman. Not me. I like to have my milk this way. And my milkman has ploughed on through all this freezing cold, (its -4 now at 12-30 in the afternoon) and has never missed a day.

But the milk can freeze outside as you can see from my photo. The little red stripey tops have popped off and we have this little volcano of frozen milk erupting from the neck of the bottle.

By the way, not only do I help keep a man and the local dairy in work, but its green too - well not green milk obviously - but the bottles are washed, left on the step for the milkman to collect on his round and they are then re-used.

Thanks for reading through this far. The experiment worked - 2 photos on one blog.

Mission accomplished.

Irene xxx
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Friday, 3 December 2010

BBD Exchange

I interrupt my normal if somewhat erratic service to bring you news. My exchange gift from the Blackbird Design Exchange group arrived yesterday, and isn't it pretty?

My partner, and until the gift arrives, you don't know who your partner is, was Laura who lives in Mexico. Isn't it amazing that with modern technology you can connect with people you have never met, but who have a common interest, so easily?

Laura sent me this lovely and incidentally, my first, scissor keep. The design is called Summer Iris and is stitched using DMC
threads on Monaco 28 count antique white linen. It is backed with a blue fabric with tiny leaves and flowers which are not very clear here, and finished with a lovely ivory braid.

Nice eh?

By the way, the scissor keep was wrapped in a clear cellophane packet and tied with a lovely blue and gold organza bow. I tried to take a picture of this too, but the light kept reflecting off the paper so I am unable to show it.

Thank you so much Laura. It was so exciting to open the package and I was not disappointed.

Isn't it fun to receive packages full of goodiness?

Irene xxx

PS I forgot to tell you, if you want to see more of Laura's work, her website is http://puntadasmagicasdepebble57.blogspot.com

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

1831 Pin Keep

I had a finishing session on Saturday. It was snowy and cold and treacherous outside so I just had to resign myself to staying in and sewing.

Some days life is preeetty hard!

So, one of the things I finished is the Good Huswife 1831 Pin Keep (Pyn Keepe?) above. It is a mixture of threads, mostly Vikki Clayton and is stitched over one on a 28 count fabric which is acually a mid-ecru colour, although it looks a bit white here. It has an edging of tiny bronze beads. I didn't photograph the back, but it is the same fabric with the single tree and bird and 2010 stitched underneath.

I also finished my piece for the Blackbird Design Exchange group. I can't show it here yet, but I really liked it so I hope the recipient does too. It was one of those that I kept picking up and thinking, 'I must do one like this for me'. I probably won't though!!!

So the snow.

Well, kinda boring now isn't it?

Fun at first, exciting, run to the door and look, let the dog gambol in it, watch it melt on your outstretched hand, take snowy pics with a view to using them as Christmas cards - all that - at first - but now its just white and slippy and freezing and is like the final guest at the party who just doesn't know when its time to leave.

The photo on my previous blog is very strange isn't it? That mist wasn't visible to the eye, it only showed up on the photo. Good job it wasn't Halloween then!

Thanks for stopping by

Irene xxx
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Monday, 29 November 2010

Ethereal Snow

I have some sewing pictures to show too, but for today I thought I would share this photo with you.

Many of you will know that parts of England are gripped with Winter's icy tentacles already, having had the earliest snow fall for many years and temperatures of -18 in some places. That is cold!

I went out into the garden to record this winter wonderland and this was the result.

Those fronds of mist are hovering over a small pond, but the water in the pond was almost frozen and certainly not giving out any heat.

Eerie isn't it?

Irene xxx
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Sunday, 21 November 2010

After the pride cometh....

So, these are the two pairs of socks I knitted recently. I began with the blue stripey pair and then, gaining in confidence, quickly completed the red motley pair.

Easy I thought - all this fuss about cuffs, heel flaps, instep shaping - in my sleep I can do this.

I will make a pair for everyone I know for Christmas.
They will be astounded at my prowess.
I'll knit them as I watch TV.

These are 4ply - I'll do some in double knitting, they will be even easier - and quicker to boot.

I may sell some on an etsy shop.

Or donate some to charity. That would be kind.

Two balls of your best double knitting sock wool if you please, my good woman.

Mmm - so I've knit the rib, and the cuff and turned the heel and now I have no wool left!

Well - I have a couple of metres, and another ball for the other foot but I will need a third ball to complete this pair. I have checked the pattern, used the needles offered by the aforementioned good woman, followed the pattern exactly, but the sock is enormous and sort of loose and of course, half-finished. And the wool is £4 a ball. Which would make the socks £12 a pair. Are they threaded with gold??

I have snuck it into a bag and left it for a while. I may have another look at it, or consult with people who actually know what they're doing with a set of needles (Maggie??) or it may just go to that happy half-finished heaven where it will meet up with an Aran sweater, a garter stitch cardigan and a scarf that only needs to be cast off and have a fringe added.

It is of course a fall which cometh after the pride!

And is my bum bruised!!!

Irene xxx
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Sunday, 14 November 2010

The very last pear.

I looked out of my kitchen window on Tuesday and saw this - the very last pear on an ancient old pear tree, which actually sits in my neighbour's garden but overhangs mine.

It was just like this, a little golden orb hanging alone amongst the bare branches against the dark green of the ivy and naturally, the photographer (!) in me couldn't resist a photo.

Now - I know that I mutter constantly to myself that the pears from this tree - hundreds of them - fall on to my decking and go brown and squishy, and make horrid stains that only a power washer will remove and then the wasps come and are a nuisance especially to Meghan who having once been stung gets hysterical on hearing even a distance drone, and probably the roots are stretching out and undermining the very foundations of this house, but hey - what a pretty autumnal picture.

And yes, no doubt I should gather them and make pears in white wine and other such deliciousness but then - when would I stitch?

I had a really nice time with Clare and Judith at Fobbles on Thursday. The people there were so lovely and welcoming to these strangers from across the country. I bought some stash - scissors (of course) linen ( of course) threads (of course) and beads (of course) because I have none of these things and was in desperate need of them.

The journey back was tricky however with a severe weather warning in operation. We were driving on one of the highest roads running across the width of England (A66) and were exposed to the very worst of it. But we survived, Clare and I, and will live to stitch another day.

And - I have knitted a pair of socks. I know. How clever am I? And I have started another pair and knit nearly one whole sock in one day. Sleep and the need to eat got in the way or I definitely would have finished it.

Thank you again for your comments, read always with interest and much appreciated

Irene xxx
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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tulip pin cushion

I am just not back in the habit of writing this blog. They say the way to hell is paved with good intentions, well watch out, I'm on my way!

This is the second little pin cushion from the BBD Sarah Tobias booklet. It is stitched over one on a 32 count evenweave linen using a mixture of threads, some DMC and some from Vikki Clayton. It is finished on the back with a matching dullish print.

Have you noticed the clever bit yet?
Come on, look closely.

Mmmm - maybe some of you will never find the clever bit, seeing as you don't know my full name - but my initials are IH.

Yeah - those clever gals at BBD designed this one so that my initials came in the right order and I could highlight them. Now how did they know to do that?

I enclosed a ric-rik ribbon in the joining for the edging and what a chore this was! Looks alright finished though.

This photo is very smudgy isn't it? I'm not sure why I have stopped being able to take a half decent photo. This one is using my camera which was way more expensive than my son's which I often use but his definitely gives a better close up. The problem is his battery is down and I don't know where all the wires are.

Do other people have boxes full of wires and adaptors and chargers and converters and cable things? We have so many, for phones, consoles, computers, games, cameras, every electrical appliance that has ever been made and every model of said appliance. Only my son can find the right one and he struggles sometimes. We should have a clear out!

Well, the builder has gone. He has been here for nine weeks and now he's gone and my house is an emptier place because of it.
I gave him his lunch every day and bought him a newspaper to read whilst he ate it and he had his own kettle and coffee and tin of biscuits which I replenished daily. Could this be why he stayed?

I am meeting up with friends from the Sampler Guild tomorrow over at Cockermouth which means a drive from the east coast of England to the west. It will take about 3 hours. England is quite narrow here! We will be stash building - of course - by calling in at Fobbles. We will be taking our latest stitching projects to look at so that will take all of two minutes for me, but I look forward to seeing what my more industrious friends have produced.

When I re-read my previous post, it sort of sounded as though the back of the Autumn Heart was too bad to show. The back, thanks to Anne, is perfectly wonderful, it was the photo of the back that was too poor to share.

Thanks for calling by
Irene xxx
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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Autumn Heart

I think I mentioned that my friend Ann and I have a stitchy night every Thursday evening? She brings yummy biscuits and I provide as many cups of tea as we can get through - not as many as you might suppose as we talk a lot and drinking and talking are hard to synchronise.

Oh.... and we stitch!

It is a guaranteed oasis in the chaos of our busy lives.

Ann is much more adventurous than me and tries lots of new things, new finishes, or different stitches, I tend to stick to what I know.
I do have a bigger variety of stash though - ( c'est un surprise n'est-ce pas?) So I am sometimes able to help out with the odd thread and this lovely heart is a thank you gift from her.

Can I say that the French phrase above is just a shameful affectation. I have tried to learn French since I was knee high to a grasshopper and have spent many happy hours lounging around in France, sometimes staying there for five weeks in the Summer holidays, but in spite of that, and ignoring the fact that I sometimes even wore a little jaunty neckerchief (surely that isn't the word?) giving all the outward appearances of being stylishly French, and totally at home (a la maison?) as soon as I opened my mouth, my northern roots showed.

I so envy people who can speak a second language - or play an instrument - two accomplishments that in my life I have failed to .....well.....accomplish really.

Well, I did learn ....... naw... I can't really count that.

OK - when I was 6 I had my turn playing that clapper thing, that you bang on your hand, but hey - nobody recognised my potential so I just passed it to boy sitting next to me.

Raymond I think it was. He's probably in a boy band now.

Anyway, no good crying over that, the heart above is freebie from the gazette94 site and is stitched beautifully over one on a 32 count linen using an unnamed but appropriately autumnal thread from HDF. I also took a photo of the back which is finished in a matching watermarked cotton with a little 'hand-made' tag, but it was really too bad to post. Sorry Ann.

Love to all
Irene xxx
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Sunday, 17 October 2010

So I resume - with Sarah Tobias

It has been five weeks - can you believe that - five weeks since I last posted here.

I will tell you in a sec what has been occupying my time, but first to Sarah.

I was a participant in the Round 5 Blackbird Designs Exchange organised by Patti, and therefore browsed through all of my BBD charts and booklets looking for a suitable design to exchange. It was then I realised that in my eagerness to acquire stash, to possess it, to have it, own it, file it, organise it, gloat over it ( come on - you've done it!) I had actually hardly stitched any of it. So I completed my exchange project - afore posted - and decided to do a couple of things from the Sarah Tobias booklet.

I chose firstly the little alphabet pin cushion above, stitched over one on a mid-cream 32 count linen with Kaalund thread - the colour of which is lost in the mists of time. Now it seems that in the intervening interlude, any photographical skills I may have once possessed have deserted me completely, so the pictures show hardly any detail at all.

This, I think, leaves me open to a little exaggeration!

The piece is backed with a perfectly matching batik fabric ( you can't really tell so you'll just have to believe me) and exquisitely finished with opaque irridescent blue / green beads! It is packed with crushed oyster shells. I know - it sounds exotic, but I can't find those darned walnut shells that everyone seems to use and this gives a nicely weighty emery-ish feel.

So that is finish number one. I have a lovely gift and another finish to show another day.

Well, you ask, those of you who loyally check to see if I have made any effort to write here at all, what has the girl been up to?

A dream holiday on a paradise island.


I've just been cleaning. Relentlessly. Unendingly. Exhaustingly. Purposelessly ........ cleaning.

Yes - purposelessly. To no purpose. Uselessly.

I still have the builder here. We are running into, I think, 6 or 7 weeks now. To be honest, he so much part of the family I've stopped counting. He came to renovate all the sash windows in the house, and just stayed. Like a lost puppy. We have adopted him. He hardly ever goes home.

He is now finally outside, repainting the house and it looks great. It is just taking so long. And because it was every window in every room that needed some work, every room was a mess, with dust sheets everywhere, and wood shavings and paint scrapings. He promised faithfully it would be completed before my guests from America arrived for their holiday.

Oh didn't I tell you? Oh yes, in the midst of all this I had guests for about ten days. Happily they are old friends and picked their way around the rubble, but it's not want you want, is it, when friends are staying?

So in a vain attempt to make the house look habitable I cleaned. But in the end I just asked people to wipe their feet as they left, not as they arrived.

There is just a glimmer of normality showing, a tantalising glimpse that I may eventually resume the retirement I signed up for.

We shall see.

Thank you for your patience

Ooooo - almost forgot to mention. Are you desperate for the 2010 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments Special? My friend Margaret is giving one away in a draw on her newish newsy blog. She would love to have you visit. http://allthingsmaggieo.blogspot.com/

Irene xxx

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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Shhhh - not a word

I have stitched a couple of small things - and I've started on a Christmas pressie for my Mum - but I have nothing much finished to show. I don't think I have shared this with you though and I do like it very much.

This is Mocking Bird by La D Da. I used their recommended linen - if only I could remember what that was - and substituted HDF threads by Vikki Clayton. I am pleased with the colours I've chosen except that his little feet have almost disappeared. I'm afraid he looks a bit grounded, in real life and even more so in this very poor photo. He is framed, so that accounts for some of the wonkiness of the picture. Don't ask!!!!

So - I have a man in at the moment.

Not a handsome, suave, debonair, ready-for-love at the drop of a hat, man.

(I should be so lucky.)

( Well - I should be if I could be bothered with all of that, but I can't)

But anyway - back to the story.

He's a very nice workman.

He is renovating my windows. I live in a Victorian house and the windows are those old sash windows which I really like. But most of mine have, after a hundred years of less than precise painting, been sealed shut.

I need then to pose the question - why is it that although they are painted shut and will not moved by a herd of angry elephants, the wind whistles through them like a hurricane and leaves me shivering in my favourite (stitching) chair all through the long Northern winter???

I know, another of life's mysteries.

But Derek - for indeed that is his name - is mending them for me. He is making them open, top and bottom, replacing sash cords and weights, burning off the old paint, re-painting them and draught proofing them.

Which is all good. And he's no bother.

But..isn't it unsettling when things are going on in your house? I am in a constant mood of unsettlement. I feel not ready for anything. This blog, mundane as it is, has required considerable effort this morning.

Sorry it wasn't more exciting!!

Irene xxx
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Saturday, 21 August 2010

My contribution to BBD Exchange

When Patti asked me if I would like to join the Blackbird Designs Exchange Group, I was quite apprehensive - not that I was afraid I wouldn't love the gift I received (I did!) but the whole thing about what to stitch, how to finish, can I complete in time etc.

However Patti is a persuasive gal so I agreed to give it a go.

There followed a great deal of chart searching and discussion with my stitching friend Ann. Is the possible design too big? Too small? Take too long to stitch? Need framing to look good? Has it been seen too much on other blogs? Will my partner have it already?

Eventually I chose this little Blackbird design from a file of printed-off charts. I chose the colours from Vikki Clayton's HDF as the original was a single colour and set to work.

It was lovely to stitch, just enough variety to keep it interesting but a bit of repetition to make it a fairly quick stitch.

Then half way through - a really worrying thought struck me.

'Was this an actual Blackbird Design chart, or just a chart with a blackbird on it' - in which case it wouldn't do! There was nothing on the chart itself to indicate where it was from. I found it under 'Blackbird Designs' in my folder, but you can see my dilemma.

I called my friend Ann and she remembered seeing it on a blog somewhere, but between us we read so many! She came round and together we began to trawl through the blogs we normally read - something with 'needle' thought Ann, or 'thread' - mmmm that narrows it down a lot!

Eventually we found it and read with relief that it was an actual Blackbird Design freebie. So I carried on, finished it as a little ornament with a beaded edge and peyote stitch hanger (I really like these now) and sent it off to my partner Elisabeth in France.

There was the expected anxiety about whether it would arrive safely and whether Ela would like it.

It did and she did. Ela even sent me a lovely hand-made card to thank me again for the gift.

So maybe I will join an exchange group again. I loved my gift from Christina and Ela loved hers from me and that's just about everything you can hope for.

Thank you for your comments - always read with much pleasure.
Love Irene xxx
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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Counting Mistake Item 2

I know, I promised you this ages ago. Counting mistake number two.

Mmmm you think - can't see anything much wrong here.

Well actually, there isn't anything much wrong, except that it is supposed to say 'Live, Love, Laugh'

I bought a chart which showed a little woven basket with a stitched border along the outside, and inside, lots of pretty little mottoes and inspirational sayings - like - 'be what you want to be - it isn't too late' (it was slightly more catchy than that) and 'seize the day' and stuff.
I determined to use my wonderful Kaalund thread (Taipan) and set to work.

Now, for little inspirational saying ornamenty-baskety-things, I don't much bother about the linen count, huh, that's for amateurs, so I grabbed a piece and began to stitch 1 / 1 because that is mostly what I do now and as I stitched I hummed a little inspirational tune. I was getting really quite good at this stitching thing although humming and smirking at the same time was proving a little more difficult

I learned the pattern quickly, the border was looking good, the colour was yummy, and so as I stitched, I began to discuss with myself where I might put the completed basket and the aforementioned sayings. On the table, in the hall, in the bedroom?? Now where would be the best place to show off my considerable skill?

Enough of this, border finished - time to look at the lettering.

Have you guessed yet?

Yes....stitching 1 / 1 from a chart that was meant to be 2 / 2 with lettering - spells disaster.

There was just not enough space to stitch anything much. So, not wanting to waste a perfectly good border, I wrote 'LIVE'
It's not even inspirational is it? If you manage to take in a breath, you're doing it.

I couldn't give you the exact quotes and sayings because I threw the chart down in disgust and now I can't find it.

Yeah, not so smirky now eh?

Love to all who visit,

Irene xxx
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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Beautiful Tall Ships.

I mentioned in my last posting that I have been busy. Well, I thought I would show you briefly what I have been up to.

My home town, Hartlepool, has been hosting the 2010 Tall Ships Race and I have been a volunteer. I haven't had a very high powered job - I am a 'Lost and Missing Persons Assistant' but it has been such fun to be involved with this event.

We began our training way back in May and have been looking forward to the arrival of these ships for months now. There are about 65 vessels in all, quite a few of which, including all those in the photographs, are Class A - the biggest of the sailing ships. They are from all over the world, Oman, Russia, Indonesia, Poland etc and their crews have been magnificent. It is not every day you see a group of Russian sailors shopping in your local supermarket!

From the Headland, we watched the ships far away on the horizon, steadily making their way into our port. I am not a watery, shippy sort of person at all, but seeing those great vessels in full sail must send an echo back through the ages as it really stirs the heart. I found myself quietly humming the tune of 'Hearts of Oak' and the rousing 'Rule Britannia'. Both these songs are probably inappropriate these days, and of course most of the ships here are not British, but still.........

The festival ended on Tuesday with a full Parade of Sail when all the ships left the harbour and sailed north along the coast, again in full sail.

OK - so even I shed a tear and like I said, I am not usually a watery sort of person!

Back to sewing now all the excitement is over.

Irene xxx

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Blackbird Designs Exchange

I interrupt my busy schedule to bring you excellent news!

I still have a 'counting mistake' project to share, but this lovely ornament arrived this morning from Christina and I just had to show it.
It is called 'Thistle Manor' by Blackbird Designs stitched on 32ct linen with an unknown, but very pretty Anchor thread.

I am a member of only two exchange groups, the Quarterly Quaker Exchange and this - the Blackbird Design Exchange.
Patti encouraged me to join, and I am so pleased I did as I would not otherwise own such a lovely piece of work. I am delighted to have the ribbon finish too as I can't do this - and the ribbon is all shiny and curly-whirly and so neat!! I don't know if Christina has a blog, I suspect she may have, so I will find out and post it here next time so that we can all go and look at her meticulous work.

Thank you Christina, I thrilled to ribbons with it.

Irene xxx

Post Script Edit.

Christina's blog is http://whilstirisnaps.blogspot.com.
So there's no excuse, pop on over and have a look.
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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Counting Mistake - item 1.

Last week I explained how, in spite of teaching maths, I seem to have lost the ability to count.

Well this little acorn ornament is proof of that, if proof is indeed needed.

Oh yes, it looks very nice - on the surface - at first glance - from a distance.

But it is flawed, deeply flawed.

I frogged a whole heap of it once, then twice and then I tried to work out my mistake. I had miscounted, in the middle somewhere, near the central ( well, actually, as it happens, not central) motif.

Frogging was leaving behind little tell-tale shades of evidence of error in the form of brown fluffy residue.

So finally, needing to move on, I just accepted the imperfections, sellotaped it liberally, and went ahead and finished it.

So my friends, look if you must, but not too closely.

The chart is a freebie that Patti very kindly offered to send, the fabric a 28count evenweave, the thread HDF 'Kindling' and the beads a sort of bronzey colour.

However, to shine a little lightness in the dark that is this posting, I tried something new for the hanging cord.

I have often used a single thread of matching beads, but this time I put my elementary and very rudimentary knowledge of beading to, I think, good effect by using a peyote stitch which gives a little more interesting and substantial finish. I think this method is used to begin a piece of flat beading and is very very simple to do, although I think it looks more complicated.

I will be trying it again methinks.

Thank you for your welcome comments.

PS This is counting mistake item 1, - item 2 to follow. I know - I never learn!
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Friday, 16 July 2010

Another needle case - whoppee!!!

OK. So I seem to have got the hang of these needle case things. I can just churn them out now, like crisps on a conveyor belt.

Crisps on a conveyor belt????

Actually I really like this one.

I used for the first time, Kaalund threads, this one is colour 'Taipan' and I really like them. They are cultivated silk and come in twelve stranded, 10 metre skeins. All of the colours are subtly variegated. They are Australian threads but available in the UK. I got mine from the Sampler Guild. (www.thesamplerguild.co.uk)

The fabric is a 28count evenweave linen. I used a matching cream ribbon for ties and for the little hinges - the first time I have tried this.

Having completed it, I think I would change a couple of things - the tie ribbon is too unbendy (can you tell I taught English?) and I think a hoop and button would have worked better and I painstakingly stitched beads on both sides of the hinges - on reflection they were only really needed on the top side.

I mentioned above that I taught English, and indeed I did - to Primary aged children all my teaching life - and for a year I taught other teachers to teach too.

I also taught Maths. My pupils did really well in all their tests.

So...why can't I count? Not big counting, with hundreds and thousands and lots of zeroes, no just little counting - you know - up to 10!!

Next week I will share with you the results of my inability to count. I have no shame.

The thimble keep was nice wasn't it? Thank you for your comments.


Irene xxx

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Monday, 28 June 2010

Ann's thimble keep.

Cast your mind back.

Not far - just 5 weeks or so - to mid-April when I showed some little silver sewing treasures I had found.


OK - well I mentioned then that having found the little silver thimble with the two swans entwined, I would look out for a Quaker pattern to make a keep for it.

No need!

My friend Ann brought this amazing gift with her to our stitching evening on Thursday.

She decided that a humbug design would work well for my wished-for keep and then had to work out the size and stitching to just fit the thimble. She said it took an inordinate amount of time to work out just where the opening on the humbug needed to be! It is usually these little decisions that are so irksome and because they work so well they oft-time go unnoticed.

Ann - (I think we can now call her now Designer Ann ) - thank you so much for this gift. It was totally unexpected but beautifully stitched and will be treasured.

The photos - Aw not so much! I haven't done this little beauty any justice at all.

Love to all and thank you for your many comments.

Irene xxx

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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sorry Stitcherhood!

No pictures this time, although I am working on a couple of things.

My major current project is one of Betsy Morgan's lovely etui sets. This one is from the Australian publication 'Inspirations' magazine ( the one before the current one - I've checked now and it's issue 65!) and is called Tiny Treasures. The set consists of an Etui box, a button box, a needlebook and a tuffet (biscornu). My stitchy friend Anne also has the chart for a thimble keeper, so I will add that to the list. It is stitching up quite quickly on the recommended 32 count Belfast linen. The threads should be Gloriana, but as I have only a few of those, I am using Vikki Clayton's hand dyed silks.

I have a couple of other small projects plodding along too, and of course, I still have finishes to complete from the Jackie du Plessis class. Oh dear - and it all started so well!

However, the main reason for this quickie is a correction I need to make regarding my last post.

I said that the needlebook came from a free pattern. This is because I discovered it whilst browsing through a file of printed freebie sheets, without a front page, just asking to be stitched - so I presumed it was a freebie.

I wanted to credit the site and today started to look for the precise location.


It was not a freebie. It was actually a download from www.thestitcherhood.com which had been misfiled. The download (#17 Stitcher's Samplers) is only $4 and if you like it, check out the site above. I hope the designer will forgive this oversight and that at least a million people will go to the site and choose this or other available designs to stitch.

That's all - conscience cleared!

Irene xxx

Friday, 11 June 2010

A touch of scarlet.

This is another freebie pattern which I finished into a small needle case. It has also occurred to me that I keep on making these needle cases but never actually use any! They're just piling up on my little display and my needles are stuck in my T-shirt..

I used a 28count white evenweave linen and HDF colour 'Be-grimed'. You can see that I stitched one little bud on the Quaker motif with red - DMC 666 - and then, having got the bug, one little leaf on the central motif on the back and if you look carefully there is just one red bead among the black on the edging.

Oh for goodness sake, its in the middle on the top edge!

I used a red fabric for lining and a red gingham ribbon. The outside spine is a tiny herringbone stitch.

I made a little key fob too, but I haven't got a photo of that at the moment.

Oh -do you remember I couldn't think of a simile for 'as smug as'? Well, Katrina, (http://theneedlespromise.blogspot.com) a girl with my own sense of humour suggested 'Smug as a bug in a rug'

Nice one Katrina!

Thank you again for you comments.

Irene xxx
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Monday, 7 June 2010

It was this!!

So, this is what I saw.

A full set of bone embroidery tools in this amazing purple case.

I have looked at many of these sets, but I have never found one with this colour lining. I just love it.

It has a heavy Dorcas thimble, some bodkins, tweezers, hooky things, a pair of pretty scissors and most wonderfully of all, a bone needle case with a little screw top. You can see it tucked into the second loop.

It has a gathered half-pocket in the lid.

What a lucky find. I am not even going to tell you how much - OK - how little, I paid.


I know. I've paid more for a thimble.

Heyho. I must have done something right at sometime in my life.

Irene xxx
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