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Monday, 24 October 2011

autumn break

It`s been such a long time I last wrote here, I almost forgot how to do this (not that I was such an expert before...)! The reason for my silence is that my Mum was here for Gregory`s school break and we were busy doing all kinds of stuff - nothing spectacular, mostly just spending time together, enjoying one another`s company, although I have to tell you this: as of from 2 days ago, we too belong to that exclusive group of people that can claim to have seen the inside of the St Monans Windmill!!! Those of you who are reading this abroad, i.e. not in Scotland, I wouldn`t recommend to hike all the way here just for this tourist attraction, but those of you who are in the area: come and have a look, it`s well worth it for the view and the wee history lesson (if you always wanted to find out about 18th-19th century salt production, this is the place for you!).
I thought that with all the extra programs, I`d hardly have time to do anything crafty - how wrong could I be? Not only did I finish a batch of my Christmas decorations...

Because of their shape, Hubby calls these my "rugby decorations". I made them using the smallest pieces of the scrap materials I`d bought a few weeks ago; I glued the fabric to some card, then cut out some oval shapes, perforated them along the edges, and finally, I sewed them together, 3 at a time, with embroidery floss. Unfortunately, although I took about 400 pictures, I still can`t show you the 3rd side of my rugby ball...

... I also made a prototype of a foam decoration I always wanted to try:

I`m still not sure about this... There`s quite a lot of work involved, and at the end of the day, you`ve got a foamy Xmas tree to show for it. But then again, just like my "rugby balls", this too is a non-breakable ornament, which is already a plus in our house (of course, you don`t know my son but if you have a bauble-chasing cat at home, you know what I`m talking about).

There was some cross stitching done over the past two weeks as well, naturally, but I can`t show these to you just yet because my Mum took them back with her to Hungary as presents and I don`t want to spoil anybody`s surprise. However, talking about surprises! After all these years it turned out that my Mum can embroider! To me it was such a shock as it`d be for you to find out, say, that your goldfish can play Chopin. (If your goldfish can play Chopin, try to think of a similarly shocking example instead). Anyway, as I recently found out, she`s learnt the basics as a little girl, she just always hated all kinds of fiddly jobs, hence she never took embroidery/knitting/crochet/cross stitch/etc. on as a hobby (which, by the way, makes her the odd-one-out in our family, where her gran, her mum (my gran), her sister, her niece, and now her daughter as well all do some kind of needlework). But I`m immensely proud to say that now she has joined the club too - of course, what wouldn`t she do for her grandson?

My Mum made this pumpkin Trick-or-Treat bag for Gregory, using satin stitch for the eyes/nose/mouth and blanket stitch to sew up the sides

She decorated the back of the bag with some chain-stitched lines, then finally added the patch I`d stitched (my only contribution, a cross-stitched letter "G" with complementary spider and cobwebs).
I know it`d probably never win first prize in a trick-or-treat-bag competition but Gregory loves it, especially the fact that nobody else in the world has a bag like this. Yesterday I saw the plastic equivalent in ASDA for 15 pence; sure, it would`ve been a lot faster and cheaper to buy one of those, but where`s the fun in that? Or the value? Why would you keep it after Halloween when you know that next year you can get something like this again for 15p? On the other hand, this lopsided wee bag with all its endearing mistakes will be an heirloom forever in our family - not only is it handmade but it was made by someone who`d rather climb Mount Everest than to pick up a sewing needle, yet she still stitched it for her grandson... Aren`t grannies amazing? If I can teach my son just this one thing, to appreciate that, I think I`ll have achieved something...

Monday, 10 October 2011

wee detour into knitting and bear-madness...

I know this blog is supposed to be about my cross stitch but with the wintry weather fast approaching, my son started to panic that his teddies are not so well-equipped for the coldest months. So last night I had to dig out my knitting needles and some wool to make a hat and scarf for Daddy Bigyi, Gregory`s 2nd favourite bear. Considering I haven`t knitted anything for about 2 years now, I have to say I surprised myself!

And just to prove that the weird madness that urges one to knit for a teddy bear runs deep in my family, here`s the ensemble my Gran made for Bigyi this summer:

The main thing is that now both Bigyis are kitted out for the winter, so I can get back to my stitching; at the moment I`m working on some Rudolph heads (there`s something so cheerful about his red nose, I just love it!) but, again, I have several orders from Gregory for some Halloween stuff, so as usual, I`m busy, busy, BUSY - and all this in the school break!!!
By the way, just a quick note regarding these two bears: Gregory got the "smaller" one when he was about 4 months old, and the other one, "Daddy Bigyi" about a year later, as a replacement toy in case the "real" Bigyi ever got lost. The reason why poor Bigyi is only half the size of the other one is that she (or he, it`s still undecided) has been washed considerably more often than Daddy Bigyi who, as a consequence, retained his original chubbiness, whereas Bigyi is no more now than an empty-bellied sack. But all this is of no consequence, she`s a bona fide member of our family, Gregory wouldn`t go anywhere without her (hence the warm winter clothes too). Also, we have a shortcut on our Desktop to , dedicated to all the photos that IKEA`s Blund Bear enthusiasts around the world posted - Gregory would easily sit in front of the computer for an hour, looking at these pictures, laughing his head off every time "another Bigyi" appears on the beach or on top of a skycraper (bless!). And if I`m honest, it`s kind of a relief to me as well that there are other idiots out there just like me...!
Here`s a wee selection of our pics (again, nothing to do with cross stitch but they`re such fun!!!):

Bigyi as Secret Santa

Enjoying a bit of football...

...but equally captivated by a good book.

The local bobby, working hard...

... so that he can spend the weekend with some well-earned relaxation, only working on his tan.

And, of course, we have other bears as well, and sometimes they need to be washed too!


Friday, 7 October 2011

Gregory`s Christmas gifts

No, it`s not about what the Wee Man will get from Santa - as far as that`s concerned, even though I`m pretty sure he wouldn`t read my blog (Gregory, not Santa!), I still wouldn`t leave such tell-tale traces since we still "believe" in these traditional things... By the way, the wobbly tooth fell out yesterday morning and it`s been lying on Gregory`s table for the past two days; I had to promise not to go near it, lest I`d feel tempted to pass it on to the Tooth Fairy. As far as Santa`s concerned, Gregory almost considers him as a family member: they`re in a more or less daily correspondence since whenever he sees a toy he likes in a shop or in the telly, he draws a picture of it on his Santa-list (a system I can only encourage!). He`s been writing this mile-long list since last Christmas, I`ve had to collect an album`s worth of letters so far, which I`m to post nearer the time, thus securing all the toys we simply cannot live without ("But really, Mummy, honest...!").
At the same time, he`s aware that Christmas is a time when we, people give presents to one another, showing our love and appreciation - actually, being a non-religious family, this is, in fact, what we celebrate at Yuletide: the joy of being with our loved ones and the happiness we can give them with our little presents is more or less an added bonus. In this spirit, every year I try to make a little something for Gregory`s wee classmates too, so he can spread the joy and excitement we all feel around this time of the year.
When he first started nursery, I was really on top of my game: not only did I stitch personalised Christmas tags for each and every child in his group...

...but also decided to surprise them with some home-made Scottish tablet, which I spent ages wrapping individually in all the colourful cellophane I`d saved from a 1kg box of Quality Street (which I`d all had to eat beforehand, self-sacrificing as I am...).

Last year, however, when Gregory was in Primary 1, I was a wee bit lazier, I have to admit: this time I didn`t make my own sweetie but used candy canes I`d bought in a shop instead.

However, let me just say in my defence that last year, in Gregory`s old school there were 24 kids in his class so that meant quite a lot of stitching... and quite a lot of card-signing for the Wee Man who`d learnt to write just weeks earlier! I`m just that wee bit relieved (for both of us!) that this year he only has 10 classmates...

Thursday, 6 October 2011


I`ve been on a diet for about 6 weeks now - nothing drastic, you know, I don`t aim to be a Size Zero (couldn`t be even if I wanted to, anyway), I just got fed up with being too big for all my clothes, and I thought it`d be nice if when I went somewhere, my boobs would actually get there before my tummy. I don`t know how much weight I`ve lost (since we haven`t managed to replace the battery in our bathroom scales since 2008) but the diet must be working because I can squeeze myself in my old jeans again, even though it`s not a comfortable fit just yet.
Anyway, the whole malarkey reminded me of an old project idea that I abandoned in favour of the Christmas decorations: I have some plastic canvas left and strips of magnet too, so I`m going to make some "thinspirational" fridge magnets - although, to be quite honest, I never really understood the logic behind putting motivational reminders on your food-hiding places; in my opinion, if you want to lose weight, just don`t go near your fridge, or even better, try to forget that you own one. Anyway, apparently a lot of women find these "deterrants" helpful and luckily, I found loads of motifs in Issue 77 of Cross Stitch Crazy (from October 2005, the same issue that has Wordsworth, the cat in it which I stitched for my Gran`s recipe book). There`s a bit of everything here, from the "traditional" fridge-with-chain-and-padlock design to fitness guru claiming that "no pain, no gain", but my favourites are the funny ones, like "Dieting`s no piece of cake!", with a slice of cake crossed out under the caption, or another one with a lady standing on the scales, saying "I`m in shape: ROUND is a shape!" So next time I have a minute (ha!), I`m going to start these. In the meantime, don`t worry, I`m not leaving you without a picture: here`s one of a card I made a wee while ago - back when the caption embodied my whole attitude towards diet... but that was before I stopped smoking and ballooned up twice my original size. I`m telling you, I can`t wait to see this double-chin go!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Here`s today`s crop: two snowglobes that I intended to finish for the festival but never got round to do it. Still, better late than never, right? And anyway, I`m well in time for Christmas, aren`t I?

designs by Durene Jones, WOCS 182

I wish it was a bit warmer, though... I`m not sure this howling wind whistling around the conservatory is the ideal soundtrack for working on snowy, Christmassy scenes... I think my next project will be something to do with sunflowers - I adore sunflowers, just looking at them always fills me with warmth and happy memories of summers past... And in the meantime, I`ll head for the kitchen to get myself a hug-in-a-mug!

`Sunflowers`, WOCS 141

Monday, 3 October 2011

Celtic chessboard - finished!

There isn`t much to add to the title - especially, since I very unprofessionally forgot to document exactly when I started to stitch this, so I have no idea how long it took: I`d say roughly 3 weeks but I really don`t know... According to the magazine, it`s a 100-hour project, so let`s go by their calculations.

Cross Stitcher Issue 152 (October 2004)

The main thing is that it`s done, framed and dusted, and - not because I made it but simply thanks to the design - it`s STUNNING! For the first (well, umpteenth...) time in my life I sooooo wish I knew how to play chess!!!

"baby feet" photo album

This story started almost a year ago. That`s when I found this cute motif in Issue 209 of Cross Stitcher and, naturally, I had to stitch it straight away (NB: although I didn`t know why I was stitching it at the time, I instinctively chose the blue design of the three, despite the fact that I liked the pink and sepia versions too. Must be a "son`s mother" thing...).

Cross Stitcher Issue 209

I think I had a vague idea at the time that I would turn it into a card; however, by the time I finished I`d realised that it`d be too big for a card and I didn`t want to "waste it", you know what I mean. So anyway, I figured it`d look much better on the front cover of a photo album - I envisaged a nice, white album, about 30x30 cm, with these baby feet in the middle. And that`s when my search started...
Unfortunately, I couldn`t find what I had in mind anywhere - until one fine day last week, that is, when I walked into this charity shop in Cupar where this album was smiling at me:

There was a white ribbon on the spine as well which I took off before taking this photo.

I couldn`t describe my happiness: although it wasn`t white, at least I finally found a photo album that had this boyish theme going on with the baby-blue gingham cover. And while I had no idea who "junior j" was, I felt pretty confident that my patch would cover the name, leaving only the "baby album" part visible.
So chuffed as I could be, I bought the album - only to discover the next day that I must have put it on some of the (maybe damp?) fabrics I also acquired the same day, for my lovely album that I spent months looking for had dozens of strawberry spots on its back, like a poor victim of some mysterious album-pox:

I was devastated! However, after a few minutes of wondering, "why these things always happen to me", I realised the futility of this excercise, and promptly asked hubby to take me to St Andrews where - and I`m not surprised if you see a pattern emerging here - in one of the charity shops I found a lovely pale blue baby blanket. I brought it home, cut it up and turned it into a book-cover which I sewed on the album, so now it looks like this:

Instead of the white shoelace-imitation, I put a piece of baby-blue ribbon in the holes and it`s done. A nice, padded photo album for a wee baby boy. I`m quite pleased with the result - what do you think?