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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

update - Tuesday morning

By the time I could have sat down in front of the computer last night, I was too tired to do anything so here`s the update on the Lion King:

Elsewhere, in the "real world": last night I attended my first ever Parent Council Meeting which was interesting; Gregory has an ear infection which is sad; Tam has bought a car on Ebay which is good; and I might have to go with him to drive our old one home behind him all the way from Liverpool which is terrifying! Oh, and here`s Saturday`s crop for the Festival:

My mother-in-law came to visit on Sunday and bought the red and golden toiletry bags (already a result, yay!), but there are still the three pink ones and the pot pourri sachet to take along. And now: back to work!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Kellie Castle

This is for the benefit of my dear friend Orsi in Budapest, whose internet connection was so dismal today that after about half an hour of struggling, we had to give up on our attempt at Skype for the day, after concluding that we both sounded like crazed chipmunks on helium.
So, as I was trying to tell her today, there`s this lovely castle near where I live, called Kellie Castle.

Kellie Castle and Gardens, near Pittenweem, Fife
(for more information, please visit the National Trust
for Scotland`s website on 
A few weeks ago they had an open day and I went to sign up as a volunteer. Since I have always been interested in history, plus I love castles of all shapes and sizes, I thought I could work there as a guide (for which, believe it or not, I was trained back in the early nineties... my goodness, that was 20 years ago! No wonder, then, that this morning I discovered two more grey hairs on my temples!).
Anyway, back to the castle. While I was there, I also acquired the official NTS brochure, in which I found part of the following drawing:

Sir Robert Lorimer`s drawing of 4 elevations of Kellie Castle from 1887

When I got home, the businesswoman in me (this was a joke, by the way - there`s no such thing, unfortunately...) started to wonder how I could combine my being undeniably smitten by this place with my love for cross stitch, preferably in a way that would yield some financial benefit to boot. So I grabbed my pencil and some graph paper, and designed a pattern that was just the right size to fit into one of the plastic coasters I bought the other day on Ebay (I`m telling you, this hobby so far has just cost me with very little, almost non-existent return!). Anyway, here`s the result:

So now all I have to do is take it up to the castle and ask them if they want to order a few dozen of these unique coasters... Wish me luck because if I could FINALLY make some money out of my hobby, I could maybe buy a decent camera (which I haven`t had since Gregory sat on my beloved digital Fuji camera about 5 months ago), so I wouldn`t have to use hubby`s poky wee number that only takes shady, blurry pictures like this one above...

Saturday, 27 August 2011

update - Saturday

The other day, if I`m honest, my excitement was a wee bit waning by 9 o`clock at night when I realised that it took me almost a whole day just to get prepared with everything.

As you can see, I have all my colours in symbol-coded plastic bags and with corresponding needles neatly stuck in my trusty square sponge; the pattern photocopied for crossing out the bits that I`ve done, plus I also have the original pattern in the magazine with magnetic frames to help me locate the area I`m working on... Yes, I do know that it`s borderline anal-retentive behaviour, but I just like to be well-organised, thank you very much. And anyway, I thought, you only have to set it up like this once, then you`re on a roll until you`ve crossed the last stitch on this picture... Problem is, I don`t know when that`ll be because by the time I finished with all the setting up and getting ready, this is how much I could actually stitch before I fell asleep on the first day:

Pretty daunting... Nevermind, at least two days ago I got a boost when I was forced to sit home all day long, waiting for the Sky-guy (you see, they said he`d come between 8 and 11 in the morning, so naturally, he turned up at 4.15 p.m.). Yesterday I was running around practically the whole day, shopping like mad, collecting stuff for this Arts Festival that`s ONLY 3 WEEKS AWAY (!), and today I was making up my little items from 7 in the morning till 5 p.m. when I took Gregory for a nice walk before dinner. Then, finally, I could spend a couple of hours on my lion, so now it looks like this:

Not that impressive yet, is it? Anyway, it`s time to have a few hours sleep, then tomorrow I`m going to battle again...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

new project

I`m so excited! Last night I went down to my local stitching club and it looks like I caught my stitchy bug again! (That, and a cold, it seems, for I haven`t stopped sneezing and blowing my nose all morning but I DON`T CARE!). I have a new project, yay!
Actually, I was going through my magazines - again! -, looking for some patterns that I`d used before, since I thought it`d be nice to provide some details along with my pictures, in case some of you decide to make them - that reminds me, a quick recap:
My lost picture, called Poppy Fields from Anchor, was featured in The World of Cross Stitching (WOCS), Issue 101. The red cupcake design I made for my kind neighbour was in Issue 230 of Cross Stitcher, and Wordsworth, the cooking cat I stitched for my gran appeared in Issue 77 of Cross Stitch Crazy. "Crazy" also featured the little cleaner design I made for Evelyn in Issue 145. So far that`s all, I think - since the gift tags were all the fruits of my own creative and elaborate (!) designing process. In future I`ll try to name my sources as and when I mention a design - although it might not happen for a while now because...
I`m so excited! While flicking through my magazines, I found a design that "spoke to me" - you know, when you feel the creative juices flowing and the urge that you simply have to make this thing... Anyway, I spent the next couple of hours picking the colours (I don`t have all the DMC threads that I`d need but I found some that are "close enough", even though my lion might end up looking not exactly like this:

Oh, before I forget it again: this is called `Lion King` by Pollyanna Pickering, and I found it in WOCS, again, in Issue 176. The picture`ll be about 20x15 cms and I hope to finish it before the middle of next month; I already have a frame for it, and I plan to take this, too, with me to this art show that I was invited to attend last night in the "Club" (the name of which we decided not to specify any more, since half the women knit, the other half stitch, and almost all of us mostly just unpick or unravel). Anyway, I`m off now to cut a piece of aida and maybe even start before I have to go to Gregory`s open afternoon at school - but I shall keep you all posted!

Monday, 22 August 2011

lesson learnt

I hope you forgive me but this is not going to be an oh-so-happy blog. You see, it is the story of a lost loved one. Would you like to see a picture of my beloved? Here you are:

I can almost hear some of you saying now, "Surely, Laura, you don`t mean to say that this awesome thing of beauty... which must be, by the way, at least 25x35 centimetres in size... got lost somehow???" The answer, my friends, is: yes (sorry if you expected something more climactic - although I almost wrote "climatic" here just now which would`ve been rather silly).
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, the poppies...
I started this picture (dimensions: see above) almost two years ago but to give it its due, it didn`t take that long to finish, it just almost became a UFO [for non-stitchers: UnFinished Object] somewhere down the line, until I picked it up again last August when I stopped smoking and I relished this big challenge that kept my hands occupied for hours. Actually, I got on so well with it that by the end of September I could see the end of the tunnel and decided to send it back to Hungary for my granny as a Christmas present. But (and again, I can almost see some of you gape in horror) I never thought of sending it with registered post. Cue my ranting concerning the postal service:
For you see, one never really sets out thinking, "Ooh, I`d better make sure we can track this parcel somehow in case it gets lost or stolen" - why would it, right? When I post, say, a letter, I expect everybody along the line to do their job properly until my letter reaches its destination at the other end. OK, I`m aware, of course, that things might go wrong, accidents do happen, etc., etc. but to be honest, I had such a rigmarole with the framing and the wrapping (I also sent some stuff for my uncle and my parents and by the third time I had to repack my parcels, I felt like I should maybe move in the post office to save me from shuffling home with my ever-increasing number of packages every time). Because, and I don`t think I`m alone with this, one always tries to be as economical as possible, thus my one big parcel first divided itself into two, and eventually I posted my little prezzies in 3 smallish packages - obviously, by this stage it never even occured to me that whatever I saved on this redistribution of towels and cross stitch pictures, I should spend on registering my three parcels. And would you believe it? ALL THREE GOT LOST!
So to finish my ranting, for which I profusely apologise, here`s my rhetoric question to all the dishonest postal workers in the world: when you decide to risk your job and open somebody else`s mail in the hope of a few pennies, do you ever stop and think about the people you rob? Did the postman who opened my parcel wondered how many months someone must have worked on this picture? Did he take it home and hung it on his wall with a clear conscience? Or, if that would have been too much for him, did he instead just chuck it in the bin? Did the same thing happen to my cross stitched Mothers` Day cards a couple of years ago? "Oh, nice thick padded envelopes, there must be some money in these... let`s see... hm, nothing, just a bunch of stitched flowers... drat!" Is this really the way forward that in future I shouldn`t send anything valuable - valuable to me, at least - without registered post? How sad is that...

domestic goddess

One day I turned up at my son`s old school a bit too early so until 3 o`clock I had plenty of time to whinge about his latest mischief to Evelyn, my favourite "partner in playground entertainment", the grandmother of one of the wee girls in Gregory`s class. They used to walk home past the playground at the bottom of our street too so whenever the weather was nice, we used to end up there together. This particular day, however, it was out of the question, it was so cold and miserable - so much so that the previous night, I was telling her, I`d been forced to switch the heating on... to my great regret, since Gregory decided to smear a whole wax crayon (black, of course) on the white radiator in his room. The wax melted on the warm metal and by the time I noticed what was going on, the crayon was actually dripping and solidifying in little blobs on the carpet. I told her that after scrubbing the radiator with my trusty Cillit Bang, I was shocked to see that the "dirt is NOT gone", and she told me she always cleaned everything with Flash With Bleach, suggesting that I gave it a go too. I promised her I would (althought I can`t stand the smell of bleach) but I didn`t mean right away - which she obviously did, as it turned out the next morning when she asked me, and I felt this tremendous guilt flooding me as I saw the almost physical pain she had to endure when she informed me that I might "miss out on the Buy One Get One Free offer at Lidl`s"! However, by the same afternoon it turned out that Evelyn was not one to leave half the stock unclaimed in any shop because she brought me her own spare bottle to the school where she handed it over with great flourish, while I was thinking, "Great, now not only will everybody think that my house is filthy, they`ll also pity me for being so poor I can`t even afford a bottle of cleaning product!"
Nevertheless, I was very greatful to her and made this wee thank you card depicting a domestic goddess, for that`s what I think Evelyn is. We moved house since then and I really miss her, as you miss somebody you`re fond of because they gave you a gift of a smile, a timeless piece of humour like when shortly after moving to this new town, I asked her where this place was where the school took the kids for a wee trip and Evelyn answered me with an absolutely deadpan face: "Och, that`s just where my hoose is!", as if this should`ve cleared up this geographical puzzle for me for once and for all... Anyway, I think one of the best things about cross stitch is that she`ll always have this card to remember me by - and, as I`m not that keen on the smell of bleach, I think I`ll always have her bottle of Flash to remember her by...

recipe books

I love spring cleaning. Or, before you get the wrong idea, I love that time of the year when the fields get bloomier, the birds chirpier and the days sunnier - so that those dust particles that were floating just the same way in winter are now more visible, and the windows suddenly look much dirtier. This is the time when other women (alas, not so much me...) feel the urge to start cleaning the house from top to bottom.
Same thing happened to my neighbour this March who, unexpectedly, turned up one day on my doorstep with a Tesco bagful of lovely cross stitch magazines she`d found under her bed, APOLOGISING (bless her!) that some of them didn`t have the freebies in them any more (!). As you can imagine, I didn`t leave my armchair for the next three days until I meticulously went through all the magazines and the other prezzies, from embroidery hoops to magnetic boards to wee "good-for-keeping-anything-in-it" type of very handy boxes. When I finally came up for air, I decided I`d make something for my neighbour to show my appreciation for her kindness, using a cupcake motif I found in one of her magazines. Just the day before I came by a lovely little (blank) recipe book in a charity shop and recalling how my mum and I used to fold the paper for my books in primary school, I managed to make this book cover.

I can happily report that my wee gift was very well received, which spurred me on to make another recipe book cover - that, and the fact that I knew there was another identical blank book in the charity shop which I left there the other day and I simply HATE unfinished business. So anyway, I went back, bought it, and started to flick through my stichy books and magazines (with my recently acquired stash I have over about 200 magazines so "flicking through" them is a roughly 18-hour process).  I only had about a week before going to Hungary for a fortnight to visit my family, spend Gregory`s spring break there and celebrate my granny`s 78th birthday.
Now my gran LOVES cooking. My mum`s a pretty mean cook too and I`m told I`m not bad either (blush, blush...) but with my granny it`s an obsession on a par with my obsession with cross stitch. I think if it wasn`t for her soaps, she would be glued to the Food Channel 24/7, and she must have filled an enormous number of jotters with her favourite recipes so far. So I thought a book like this would be ideal for her and after a long, long search I found this adorable kitty design in the very last magazine I looked at (where else?), and managed to finish stitching it the night before our flight.

I even managed to sqeeze in "My Favourite Recipes" in Hungarian under the picture and covered the whole thing with see-through plastic so as to protect it from the greasy fumes of a kitchen... So where is it now? Probably in my granny`s treasure box under her bed, since the last time I asked she said "it was way too beautiful to spoil it with her scrawly handwriting". Oh, bless!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

gift tags

I`ve had these wee silk rosebuds lying in my stash for ages. I had no idea what to use them for at the time of purchase - so naturally, I just had to buy 3 big packets of them on the spot. Then about two months ago - out of necessitiy, you see, because I also had these thin A3 sheets of coloured card that were no use for making up as greeting cards - so anyway, I had a brainwave: why not turn them into gift tags? So that`s what I did...

And then, as usual, I got a bit carried away...

I put 3 in a bag and thought about selling them for £1 each - who wouldn`t pay 33p for a hand-made gift tag with a "real" rosebud on it, methought. Well, two months down the line I can answer this question: nobody - although, to be fair, my little tags have been lying in the bottom of a drawer ever since so it`s not exactly anybody had a chance to see and buy them (apart from my mother-in-law, bless her, who promptly bought 5 packets when I showed them to her - I think she`s got enough gift tags now to last her till 2018!).
Anyhoo, here`s their chance to shine once more...