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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

It`s beginning to look a bit like Christmas...

Is it August yet? Oh yes, it`s the 2nd - then it`s not too early anymore to put my Santa hat on, tee hee! There are two publications in the UK shops this week and they both signal the start of Festive Stitching Season - yay! 😊
First up, my little Popcorn bear, this month`s free gift with Crazy 233.

He is not TOO Christmassy as such, is he? No, not yet. Apart from that tentative robin, he could be skiing in the Alps for all we know, right? That is, if you don`t use the aperture card... 😉

But here`s something that couldn`t be more Christmassy if it tried: a stocking with an elf and presents in Gold 140:

This lovely Faby Reilly design looks deceivingly smallish in the photo but IRL it is MASSIVE! Here`s how the project arrived:

I didn`t think of measuring the fabric but judging by that IKEA cushion under it, it must have been around 70ish x 90-100 cms. The chart was on 4 (well, 3 and a bit, really) A3 sheets and besides the threads, I also got a summary of the specialty stitches featured in the design.

If you need to brush up on your eyelet sts and spider web sts,
Faby has great tutorials on her website.

So as usual, my first task - being a `hand-held stitcher` - was to figure out how to handle this huge piece of fabric. I had to use my biggest binder clips but these, combined with the weight of the fabric, made the whole thing so heavy that I had to rely on my trusty magnets as well (I have a magnet board that holds my chart and the whole thing swivels on a Lowery frame so this time I just attached the top binder clip to one of my strong magnets and it took the weight off my left hand).

That`s the bottom right quarter of the fabric and those few blue stitches are the middle. Since I want to hold as little fabric (especially stitched, i.e. even heavier!) in my left hand as possible, for as long as possible, I had to get to the rightmost part of the stocking - which meant a wee bit of skipping:

I loved this look btw - it`s a bit like a map, isn`t it? And the `Lego colours` just make it so cheerful! 😊 Once I reached the `toe`, I could really get going. 

10 hours

26 hours

48 hours

Once I started the top half, I could finally take the binder clips off, and as an added bonus, the bits with specialty sts grew really fast because they covered large areas quickly.

Finally, after 88 hours, it was all finished. Excuse the even-more-than-usually badly lit photo - I had to take an aerial shot so I`m standing on a chair here and the flash just couldn`t cope. 😁

Anyway, here`s a much better picture, with proper lighting and the stocking all made up - looking fantastic, even if I say so myself. 😉 Happy stitching!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Big Reveal

Finally, after more than a year, the time has come when I can share some photos of the Big Surprise I`ve been working on since last May. But before I forget it in my great excitement, here`s a quick pic of the adorable wee hedgie that`s this month`s free gift with WOCS 258 that came out while I was on holiday:

It`s sweet as it is but I love the birthday card with the balloons, it looks even more special:

So. The Big Reveal. I started this project in May 2016, thinking that I`d finish it by Christmas last year, but I only completed it in May 2017. Out of these 12 months, there were only 5 weeks in total that I spent stitching this photo conversion - it is scary to think how much `free time` I have in a year! 😂 The story behind it is as follows:
When Gregory was 3 years old, we spent the summer in our cottage in Hungary and one day, my granddad was sitting in the garden with him, reading to him from his favourite farmyard book. Gregory just started to talk around that time (mixing English and Hungarian adorably, by the way 😊) and all we heard from the house was my granddad saying MACSKA (`cat`) over and over again and Gregory "repeating" MAK-CSA after him every time. It went on for ages as neither of them would back down, and I took a photo of the scene, which has been a family favourite ever since.

A dear stitchy friend of mine from Facebook converted the photo into a chart and last year, I enthusiastically dived in:

I completed the first page (of 12) in 3-4 days and then, reassured that this should be a doddle (?!?), I stopped - especially as I started to get commissions back to back and I didn`t have a spare moment for the next few months. Then in December I started to panic and put everything else on hold, I only concentrated on this picture.

Luckily, there was a lot of black in the background so by choosing to work on black fabric (16ct aida), I saved a lot of time - I marked these squares with grey felt pen so that the remaining pages of the chart wouldn`t look so daunting. 😉

Even so, by 19 Dec I only got this far...

... and my parents were arriving on the 21st to spend Christmas with us. Since I`d been telling my mom for ages that I was stitching something for them, I quickly came up with this Plan B that I knocked up on the 20th (it`s a wee key holder from an old issue of Cross Stitcher that I changed into Hungarian - I wonder what my mom thought when she saw the product of my alleged 6-months worth work!). 😀

For some reason, Christmas 2016 came and went even more quickly than usual - I swear one minute we were singing Silent Night and the next it was Spring break at the school and we were eating Easter eggs. In May, I finally went back to the Papi pic, knowing that I only had that little bit on the left to finish:

Finally, on 21 May, it was complete and ready to go to the framers. I chose two mats, cream and avocado green and a dark brown frame that`d match the other frames in my parents` house. I also asked for museum glass that doesn`t reflect the person standing in front of the picture. It took almost 5 more weeks but luckily, I got it back before our trip to Hungary.

We didn`t leave anything to chance on the long car journey across Europe: first we bubble-wrapped it, then wound a blanket and then half a dozen towels around it. Eventually, it was ready to go in the boot:

I knew there would be tears when my mum saw it. She`s always been very close to my granddad - we all adored him but they had a special bond and a year after this photo was taken, sadly he passed away in 2009. And the picture was presented to her almost on the same spot of the garden where the original `mak-csa incident` had happened, and not too far from where my granddad is buried. One of the first things she said was that he must be watching us now and smiling at us. Gregory videoed The Grand Opening - but I almost managed to break the internet with it, I don`t know why it was so difficult to up/download but eventually, after many attempts, I made a shortened version that skips the first few dozens of layers of towels and blankets and shows just the last phase of the unwrapping. I think this`ll always be one of my top favourite moments of all time! 😊


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Indian elephant and Van Gogh

I almost did something else again! But if I don`t post now, I never will. *puts on determined face*
I`m so busy having fun with my own stitching these days that I keep forgetting about other stuff I`m supposed to be doing. Not to mention the wee man`s school programs - and crocheting: have I mentioned I`ve learnt to crochet sunburst granny squares? I enjoy them so much I`ve started mass-producing them:

I`ve decided it goes faster if I do the same round on all of them - but when that gets too boring, I switch back to completing each square individually, it makes a change to swap between colours and stitch types. Hopefully, one day I`ll have enough squares to make a blanket.
So. There are some publications out there this week (last week?) that have my pieces in them, including this gorgeous Indian elephant in Gold 139, designed by Carol Thornton.

I love the vibrant colours and the straight lines that were especially soothing to stitch, as was all the filling in with that gorgeous pale yellow. Elephants are my favourite among favourite animals, so I was really pleased when this project came my way.

5,5 hours

11,5 hours

20 hours

32 hours

50 hours

67 hours - finished! 😊

I don`t always take pics of the back but I love how tidy those straight lines make this look

There`s also issue 257 of The World of Cross Stitching in the shops, and this month`s free gift is the beautiful butterflies card... that I think I`ve posted about already but here it is then, as a recap:

This week I was also excited to be able to pick up my parents` "Christmas" present from the framer - it looks just the way I pictured it in my head so I`m over the moon with it and I hope they`ll like it too. I`ll find out in about a fortnight - and when I come back from holiday, I can finally put some photos of it up here too.
What else? Finally, after 5 long years of owning the HAED chart of Van Gogh`s Starry Night, I managed to get round to having it re-printed in the library - I thought, why struggle when I can have the chart on A3 pages? So I had them done and last week I was ready to go:

I started from the bottom right corner and after 7 days I had my first page finish:

But then as I was showing it to folks on Facebook, I began to realise that I wasn`t happy with the colour scheme. 😩 I chose Starry Night not only because I love Van Gogh but also because blue is my favourite colour - as opposed to purple, the only colour I don`t like. I put my chart and a picture of the original painting side by side...

...and decided to abandon this project for the now. I think I`m going to chart it for myself, using blues instead of purples, and I`ll try to make it the right size so that I can still use this nice big piece of aida, which is still going to be quite large, even after I cut this stitched bit off (as there is no way I can unpick it). But so as not to be without Van Gogh in the meantime, last night I started his Sunflowers (I`ve had this Maria Diaz design for ages, it`s in the July 2009 issue (172) of Collection).

And while I was working on the bottom right corner of the purple Starry Night, I also realised that if I`m going to spend months and months stitching such a confetti-heavy piece, I`m going to need something (crafting-wise, I mean. At the same time, I`m also translating but that`s a different kind of challenge and satisfaction), so I`m going to need something that gives me instant gratification, i.e. a project that`s made up of blocks that can be finished in a day. So I had a look on the internet and found this amazing blackwork sampler (called `Save The Stitches`, free to download from Elizabeth Almond`s website), and I already have the fabric and threads - I`m going to use stranded cotton 301, 415 and 3821 instead of the metallics and no beads, either, I want to keep it simple and non-blingy. So in a few months/years/decades, I should end up with something like this:

How gorgeous is this?? 😍 I think I`m going to start this today 😉 Happy stitching!

Monday, 5 June 2017

dreamy tents and foxes

I`ve been a busy bee lately and only just remembered today that issue 319 of Cross Stitcher has been out for a week or two and in the back of it - well, you know, if you turn it around and upside down - there`s a summer festival supplement and in THAT there`s my wee `tenty` poster. It took about 38 hours to stitch and I enjoyed it tremendously because I love projects where you can load up half a dozen needles with the same colour of thread and off you go stitching. So this was ideal for me, a nice quick finish (my mom was here at the time so with this fast-growing stitch at least we could hang out more together - I try not to stitch 24/7 when she`s here). 😂

The other day I also received my copy of Cross Stitch Crazy 231 and in the back of it I saw that my little sleeping fox mum and cub will be next month`s free gift - I`d better attach some pics here, just in case I`ll be snowed under even more in a few weeks time (the wee man is about to finish his last year at primary school and the last few weeks promise to be pretty hectic, from award ceremonies to their end-of-year show, from family barbecues to discos and induction days at his future high school, from birthdays to orthodontist appointments, I have a bit more to keep in mind than usual... usual being "stitching deadlines" 😉 ). And then we are going on holiday, so anyway, just in case I forget, here are my sleeping (dreaming?) foxes - first my own photo, because for once it`s brighter than the magazine`s, but only because it`s a small picture in the preview section but I`ll attach that too so you can see how cute it looks in that hoop that`ll also be a free gift next month, I can`t wait! 😊 Happy stitching!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

roses cushion and butterflies - WOCS 256-257

Good morning! Since my last post, I have finished the private project I`d been stitching for over a year now - it`s the one my parents were supposed to get for Christmas 2016 but instead they`ll get it in July when we go to Hungary. We took it to the framer yesterday and it should be ready in a few weeks - squeeee, I`m so excited and can`t wait to share some pics of it here too (but that`ll have to wait until I`m back from holiday). ;)
In other news, I`ve just received my subs copy of The World of Cross Stitching 256 and my rosy cushion is in this issue. This lovely design by Poppy Benner I appreciated even more as I got it right after a backstitch-heavy piece and I simply relished the fact that this one had no BS at all. Plus I liked the Cath Kidston style roses `wallpaper` that`s achieved by subtle shade changes - there are 23 colours in this design and it took 68 hours to finish.


And here it is as a finished cushion in the magazine:

On the last page of the magazine I also spotted my wee butterflies in the preview of the next issue and just in case I`m in a packing/going on holiday frenzy by the time it comes out, I`d better add those pics here too. So next month`s free gift with WOCS is going to be this beautiful butterflies card cover kit (bottom right):

And here`s my close-up - hehe, while typing this, I`m drooling over those gladioli in the top left corner, I think that cushion is already on my to do list, can`t wait for this issue to come out! :) Happy stitching, peeps!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Lesley Teare`s sleeping cat (Gold 138) and Margaret Sherry`s cute hedgehogs (Crazy 130)

This week I have received two subscriber copies and thought I`d better post about them before I get carried away with other stuff and forget (I`m reaching new heights of forgetfulness btw: the other day I sent the wee man to school on an inset day. Not that it hadn`t been etched on my calendar for ages beforehand - I just forgot to check my calendar). 😵
Anyway, so first up is this gorgeous cat, designed by Lesley Teare, from Cross Stitch Gold 138:

It was such a joy to stitch you wouldn`t believe... well, you will when you start to stitch it for yourselves. 😉 I took a few photos at various stages - not the usual 5-hourly caper because as you`ll see, the stitchable portions were quite self-evident. I loved everything about this project: the cat itself, obviously, but also the colours, the flowers, the butterflies and I like the finish too, I think the red fabric they used for making up the cushion brings out the red of the strawberries very well.

9 hours

20 hours

30 hours

53 hours

And today I received my copy of Cross Stitch Crazy 230 with the free cover kit that I`d stitched almost half a year ago - the cover kits are done even farther ahead than other magazine projects (I guess because they involve more preparation? I mean the actual putting together of thread lengths, charts, cards, envelopes and what have you). These two adorable hedgehogs were designed by Margaret Sherry and I had so much fun stitching them (I`m mildly obsessed with hedgies anyway). Not to mention one of them is sleeping in a sunflower, my favourite flower - what more would a girl need? Hope y`all are having a lovely weekend and happy stitching!

These hedgies took 4-5 hours to stitch each 😊

I love these gorgeous cards with the matching frames
- more strawberries and especially more sunflowers can only be a good thing in my book! 😉