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Thursday, 23 May 2019

UK map / map of the British Isles - Cross Stitcher 345

Issue 345 of Cross Stitcher is in the UK shops now and in it is the map of the British Isles that I stitched a couple of months ago. Designed by Fiona Crouch, this is a nice big project (260x182 sts, 47x32 cm or 18 1/2 x 12 1/2 in on 14ct) that`ll give you hours and hours of stitching pleasure and if you, like me, enjoy designs that keep surprising you and making you smile, then this one is for you. 😉

The chart is so big that the magazine split it in two parts - the top half is in this issue and the bottom half will be in next month`s. But since I had the whole design to work on, I first started by stitching the entire outline with one of the main greens (this took 21 hours):

Then, in the next 10 hours (since less counting was involved once the outlines were in place), I filled in some gaps with the other main green:

It took a further 22 hours to add the blue confetti around the coasts, plus a bit of France... 😊

By 75 hours, I had the top quarter completely finished (just to be able to fold those two pages of the chart which was a bit too big for my magnetic board). But after that, I was going round and round, adding one colour at a time - on this type of pattern, I find it easier to eliminate each colour before moving on to the next one. Not to mention, I love that feeling when I can put one thread-baggy away, knowing that I won`t need this colour anymore... until I discover a rogue cluster that I missed and have to dig out the baggy from the drawer just for those 3 stitches, that is. 🙄

Finally, after 113 hours and skeins of greens, blues and black backstitch later, I had a finished map:

Here`s something not many people know about me: I love maps. All kinds of maps. In our holiday cottage, there`s a 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a 16th century world map, framed above our bed - the lavishly decorated kind, with the 4 seasons and 4 elements and the 7 wonders of the ancient world around the edges. My son`s also a big cartography fan: in his room, one wall is almost entirely covered by a massive world map, complete with the flags of every country on every continent - you know those videos where they stop `the man on the street` and ask people to point out this and that and they can`t even find the capital of their own country? My boy would be the kid that comes at the end of the video, who, as opposed to all the dumb grown-ups before him, would pinpoint even the most obscure wee African country on the world map. 😂 And when my BFF and I first came to Scotland, we had a map of Britain just like this on our wall and we marked all the places (with dates) that we visited on our travels.
But my love of maps aside, this has been a great cross stitch project for another reason: I love designs where you discover an `Easter egg` at every turn, and not only are these surprises fun, they also make you smile. From Nessie swimming in Loch Ness to the Snails at Great Yarmouth, from the yellow submarine peeking from behind the Liver Building at Liverpool to the Isles of Rum and Eigg of the Inner Hebrides on the west coast of Scotland, this project gave me plenty of that `can`t wait to stitch that bit` feeling. Hope you like it too, happy stitching! 😊

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

castles and butterflies - Gold 156 and Crazy 256

Oh, how cool, just noticed that there are exactly 100 issues between these 2 mags! 😁
And they`re both in the shops now so I can share a few pics of the Carol Thornton castle I stitched for Cross Stitch Gold and the lovely butterflies by Cheryl McKinnon that`s this month`s free gift with Cross Stitch Crazy.

This project was custom-made for me: not only do I love Carol Thornton`s paintings-turned-into-cross-stitch-designs, but landscapes are my favourite cross stitch subject AND I love castles (we usually try to organise our family holidays around visiting as many as we can... which is not a difficult task in Scotland btw 😉). The project took just shy of 100 hours, mostly thanks to the confetti-heavy foreground of the flowers, but I loved every minute of it. Here are my progress pics strung together in a mini film:

And here are the lovely butterflies that are the free gift with issue 256 of Crazy, complete with purple hoop - I like it when there`s a different finishing idea for a project (but of course, this could be made into a card as well). Happy stitching!

Friday, 3 May 2019

Stitches Past and Cookie Bear (WOXS 281)

Yesterday I had a Mega Surprise Postie: some of my old stitchings were returned to me - yay! 😁🤗👏

You can read more (and see the occasional mini film! 😉) of how these projects (the table runner, the fairy, the cat on cushion and the autumn woodland) were born in my previous blog posts.
In other news, the latest issue of The World of Cross Stitching is out now, with a cute gardening Cookie Bear as the cover gift. I enjoyed stitching this little fella and I love the aperture card finish too. Happy stitching, peeps! 😊

Sunday, 14 April 2019

In Memoriam Margaret Sherry

This week, the sad news of Margaret Sherry`s passing has been confirmed. Her death is a great loss to the cross stitching community and my heart goes out to her family, especially her children and grandchildren, of whom she spoke so fondly in  this interview in 2012.
Coincidentally, I started model stitching the same year that interview was conducted, and after my test piece, a little giraffe for Card Shop, then-Technical Editor Anne MacGregor`s first commission for me was one of the 6 designs in this calendar:

In a way, that first picture set the tone for the next 6, now 7, years: I feel the same excitement with every new project, the same joy at discovering what I like about each - and it also marked the start of my love affair with those adorable mice of hers and their cute little noses. 😃
This calendar inspired me so much that later I stitched the three little chefs too for my granny`s birthday:

I`ve had the pleasure to work on several of her smaller designs that were the free gifts with various cross stitch magazines:

And only a few months ago, these cats in Christmas stockings were on the cover of The World of Cross Stitching:

More recently, I have finished another picture of hers, but since it hasn`t been published yet, I can`t share a photo - but I can perhaps reveal that this one involves her trademark cats and mice too. And as always, this one was also a joy to work on and I can`t wait to see it in print.
In the statement that Margaret`s daughter released a few days ago, she reassures fans that she plans to continue running The Margaret Sherry Collection with the many, many artworks there are yet to be launched, which is something of a silver lining in this sad time, but there`s no doubt in my mind she`ll be sorely missed by many of us. Rest in peace, Margaret Sherry.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Spring cottage and zombie love

Issue 155 of Cross Stitch Gold is out now and in it is my next Carol Thornton - I love her paintings and I think they translate really well into cross stitch. You might remember the ladybird I did recently, or her Christmassy cat lying on a cushion from last year, and there`s a castle also by her that`s already featured in the preview of the next issue of Gold (but more on that when the time comes).
For now though, the Spring cottage. Even though I had to rush like mad to finish it (I stitched it at the beginning of December and there was a lot going on at the time, so I had to do a few 16-hour stitchy days before the deadline) but my overall memory is that I loved working on it. Landscapes are my favourite subject matter anyway and I particularly like quaint wee cottages+horses+Spring flowers, so this was an ideal project for me. Because of the rush, I only stopped a few times to take a photo of my progress - here they are:

40 hours

100 hours - finished 😊

Those crooked chimneys cracked me up: I couldn`t help thinking of Spongebob every time I looked at my little "excited" cottage:

And here it is, beautifully framed in Cross Stitch Gold:

In other news, I finally got organised (even though I still don`t know where March has gone???) and now that I`ve obtained Issue 7 (the "Love" issue) of XStitch Mag, I thought I`d add a picture of the little zombie I stitched for them.

WARNING!!! The following is not of the cute teddies and sweet kittens variety so if you`re not into brain-eating zombies, please stop scrolling here! 😉


This has been my first ever The Witchy Stitcher design and even though I wouldn`t have chosen the subject matter for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the technical aspect; it`s a well-constructed pattern that flowed easily, which is always a plus for me among all the confetti-heavy pieces I often work on. And my son`s in the process of binge-watching The Walking Dead, so he appreciated my being so trendy. 🤣

That caption makes me giggle every time. 😆 This wee zombie only took 18,5 hours to stitch and I like how photographer Stacy Grant chose to frame it with torn black paper. Hope you like both of these - very dissimilar in style - cross stitch projects, have a lovely Easter and Spring break, and happy stitching!

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Spring is here

There have been a few mags coming out recently and Spring is definitely in the air - not just IRL but as far as cross stitch charts are concerned.
In Cross Stitch Crazy 254, the cover kit is a pair of mice, designed by Helz Cuppleditch. I loved stitching both but my fave has to be the one in the hammock: 😄

Still on the subject of cover kits, I also stitched this month`s free gift with issue 280 of The World of Cross Stitching:

This birdcage bookmark is such an elegant design by Fiona Baker and a really easy stitch too, just a few quick backstitch lines between wee bits of cross stitch, so it`s an ideal last-minute gift, for example (it`s Mothers` Day on Sunday here in the UK. Just sayin` 😉).

Finally, issue 343 of Cross Stitcher has hit the UK shops today and in it Part 1 of 4 seasonal samplers by Faye Walsh is published, called Spring Is In The Air.

 It took 62 hours to stitch and I enjoyed it a lot - samplers made up of smaller pictures always build more quickly and I rarely have the chance to blend colours (as I had to here for the sea waves in the image in the centre), plus I liked the colours, the virtually no backstitch and the fabric too, it`s a beautiful lavender shade (in case you can`t tell from my photo 😂).

I took some close-ups of the individual scenes - my pics might not be exactly well lit but at least there are some details there that might not be spotted at first glance. Hope you like all these Spring-themed projects, happy stitching! 😊

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Vermogh key fob

Despite of piling up commissions, I was hit by sudden inspiration the other day so I dropped everything and gifted myself with a key fob. 😊 If you follow this blog, you may know that I hardly ever stitch anything for myself, but having seen these beauties in the latest issue of Cross Stitcher (342), I felt I just had to.

It started with Becky Spencer`s interpretation of Van Gogh`s Sunflowers (naturally. How could I not stitch that?!?). 😉 Since I don`t have the frame used in the mag, first I wanted to stretch it over a mini frame that I`ve got (one of those 10x10 cm wooden frames with its own little easel). But by then I fell in love with the idea of stitching the Girl with a Pearl Earring as well and somehow display both together - so I decided to sew them together, add a little stuffing and turn it into a key fob to hang on my handbag.
My only problem was that I wanted it to look like the original by Johannes Vermeer:

Obviously, the mag`s challenge required Cheryl McKinnon to use only 8 colours, so she had to repeat some of them, i.e. the red of the lips on the turban or the green of her eyes on the dress - but I didn`t have such restrictions so I tried to pick colours closer to the original.
(For those of you who want to stitch this 31x40 design from Cross Stitcher, here`s a list of the DMC threads I used: 793, 794 and 3047 for the turban, 351 and 352 for the lips, 3828 for the eyes, 3045 and 3046 for the dress, 945 and 948 for her skin, Blanc and 3799).

To save time, I didn`t stitch the background with 3799 as the mag suggests but rather used a piece of dark navy, almost black, aida instead. I`m absolutely chuffed with the end result and I`ve already hooked it on the strap of my bag so I can see my little key fob every time I go somewhere. 😊 Happy stitching!

Friday, 1 March 2019

Cross Stitcher 342

The latest issue of Cross Stitcher is in the UK shops this week and as it happens, this mag has several of my pieces in it too - they are like buses (she said, referring to her last post, `Immediate Bonanza`).

I stitched both the fresh and vibrant Spring sampler by Becky Spencer that`s this month`s cover star and two of the 3 bird-and-cup hoops by Felicity Hall (bottom left corner). Sticking to their chronological order, first up are the hoops.

This was the project I stitched around Christmas, and either because it was holiday time, or because of the amount of backstitch on each, I got the two smaller ones and another stitcher worked the top one in the green hoop.

The smaller one took 8 hours and the other one 10, and apart from the birds` tail feathers, they were an easy stitch. If I`m honest, the chart made my eyes water from time to time...

...but I got there eventually. 😉

And then because of the Christmas break, I had less time than usual to complete this Spring sampler - but after the birds, I relished the total lack of backstitch so I felt like I was sailing through it. 😊

14 hours

21 hours

30 hours

49 hours - finished

Since I`m a save the best for last kinda gal, I finished with the row of wee bird houses around the edge. For this mag, I have to keep a record of every inch of thread I use, so I thoroughly enjoyed cutting the lengths and knowing they`d be enough for 2 houses, 3 roofs or 4 middles - call me sad but I like the order and predictability of that. 😂 I love the finished cushion and I`m glad the colours show up the way they`re supposed to - I took my pics in the dead of winter so you can`t even tell the fabric was blue! 🤣 Hope you like all these Spring projects, happy stitching! 😊