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Thursday, 19 December 2013

the perfect sunset by Maria Diaz in Cross Stitch Collection 231

Uncharacteristically, for this picture in the latest issue of Collection I do not have too many progress piccies - only one, to be precise. However, I do have an interesting (?) story to go with it.
Have you ever wondered what happens if a model stitcher finds out halfway through a project that she can`t finish it before the deadline? I`m not thinking about running out of time and asking the editor for a few extra days, but rather of something serious that will prevent the stitcher from finishing a work completely. The latter happened to the stitcher who started working on this (I don`t know her, not even her name, all I know is that she had to go to hospital for some reason) and she couldn`t finish this landscape. So this is how I got the project - the first time ever I had to continue a work that someone else had started and I quite enjoyed the experience (mostly, because she did such a neat job that almost put mine to shame, lol!). I hope that whoever she is, she`s feeling better now and if she picks up this issue, she`ll like the fruit of our joint effort.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

crocheted Despicable Me minion

I`m happy to report that in between stitching tasks, I managed to finish a crochet project as well in the past couple of weeks: I`ve made a strange hybrid of a minion, a weird cross between utter cuteness (with his goggles on) and a possessed jelly bean (without his accessories). You`ll see in a minute what I mean but first let me give credit to the designer of the pattern, which I found here. Truth be told, though, it was only a starting point for me - as always with crochet -, because I`m so hopeless at it: as I don`t see clearly what`s a chain and what`s not, I keep miscounting (even with a stitch marker!), plus I used different yarns from hers with different sized hooks... so as usual with my crochet attempts, this one belongs to the `Played By Ear` category too. And while the jury is still out on whether it was worth all the effort (although Gregory usually loves and appreciates everything I make, but maybe in this instance he would`ve been happier with the battery-operated model that makes all those cute sounds...?), but the main thing is that I finished something that I set out to do, and now I can`t wait to see his little face when he opens it at Christmas! :)
Mr. Cute! :) I deviated from the pattern (again!) and put wires in his arms
so they`re bendy. Unfortunately, I was concentrating on this so hard
that I didn`t pay attention and sew the fingers on the same way on both hands,
so now he has a thumb on the one and a pinky on the other, lol!

Alternative mouth, with slightly big and scary teeth. In the end,
I decided against it and sew a plain line for a smile :)

And without all his accessories... Unfortunately, his legs come off with his trousers,
and without the goggles he has this slightly demented look in his eyes
(I didn`t have brown felt so I ended up crocheting the eyes as well,
hence the fish-like, lifeless stare... oooh, quick, put those goggles back on!)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Kate Knight cushion in The World of Cross Stitching 211

The latest issue of WOCS contains one of my works, the one I simply nicknamed `orange tree` - it might be the Tree of Life for all I know, I just went for the most obvious (it is stitched on a gorgeous, tangerine coloured fabric, maybe Lugana, as far as I remember, but I might be wrong there). As usual, this has been a while, too - actually, it kinda seemed to go on forever: not only because it wasn`t what you`d typically call a stitcher-friendly project (out of the 86 hours it took, I spent over forty just doing the backstitch, and most of this you won`t even notice, e.g. the fiddly individual petals on the 70-odd blue flowers and green leaves around the frame), but also because I started it before my 3-or-4-week summer holiday and finished it after we came back, so it seemed that I`d worked on it for months. :)
I have quite a few progress photos for this project but I`d like to apologise in advance for the quality of some of these. I must have taken them in the evenings, under a reading lamp, or maybe behind drawn curtains - I remember it was very hot when I was stitching this, so I frequently had to darken the room just so that it wouldn`t feel like an oven. Anyway, here they are:

Every journey begins with the first step: a tentative start on Day 1
(photo DEFINITELY taken in sunlight streaming in through window)

Still at the stage of figuring out the best way to go about this design :)

And the solution: stitch dark outlines of flowers as reference points
(plus all 3 shades of green for leaves, so no need to come back later)

Backstitch defining not only flowers and tree but wee birdies as well :)

The above-mentioned fiddly backstitch: one shade darker blue for the petals
and 2 different shades of green for the tiny leaves

And, finally, the finished product - gorgeous, even if I say so myself :)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

snowdrop fairy

Cross Stitch Gold 107 is out today and in it you can see the snowdrop fairy, designed by Durene Jones, that I stitched a few months ago. And if you check the `coming up in next month`s issue` section, there`s the LOVE cushion, also designed by Durene, that was also stitched by yours truly. Moreover, if you look closely at the Framing Tips section, you can see (and might remember) the Indian designs I stitched ages ago - these were, surprisingly, designed by Durene Jones as well.
So, in other words, this issue is full of my stuff - Gregory, bless him, asked me when I showed him the pictures if this meant that his mum was famous now but I had to disappoint him. I guess it`s pretty hard for an 8-year-old to understand that even if my name actually appeared under my work, that still wouldn`t mean instant world fame... I just hope he won`t send me on the X Factor or a similar show just so that he can brag about me at school! :)
I am stitching some cards at the moment and I thoroughly enjoy the respite of smaller projects between the larger ones - they`re ideal for this time of year, at least I can do my Christmas shopping and concentrate on some handmade presents (pictures of which I can`t share just now, for obvious reasons). Instead, I`ll show you a collection of photos I found on the Internet, while looking for something completely different. It`s a sort of montage of Christmas trees - enjoy!
I bet Hubby wouldn`t mind a tree like this ;)
This is what would happen if we had a cat :)
My ideal space-saver Christmas tree!
Whereas Gregory would probably want something THIS size...
And what we`ll probably end up with... :)

Friday, 15 November 2013

Gregory`s gloves

Boy, am I on fire - second post today! It is quite a surprise to me as well, I never expected to finish my second project in one day, especially as I`ve never knitted gloves before! :) /I found the pattern here/.
Yesterday morning the Wee Man complained that his hands were cold and that was all his doting mother needed: within 36 hours, here`s the first pair of (probably, many?) mittens to keep those cute wee fingers toasty. And, you won`t believe this, but he actually likes them! Mostly because he can give the thumbs up in them...
Oh, dear, another `flashy` photo... anyway, they`re supposed to be blue.
I think the 10-row thumbs could`ve been just 8 rows but hey,
at least the child can grow into them, right?
(Provided he only grows his thumbs and not the rest of his hands...)

cross stitch clock - finished!

It`s been a while since I found this clock in a charity shop (for £2.99, if my memory serves me right), so I don`t blame you if you can`t remember it. Here`s a close-up picture of the cover to remind you:
Please note the nice and airy foliage and that greyish streak that looks like a bubbling brook sprouting from the wall of the cottage (weird or what?). Alas, if I could only have followed this computer-generated image on a blank (plastic) canvas! But no, unfortunately, the pattern was printed on the white plastic with some icky brown paint that could probably only be removed by an atomic blast (I tried to scratch it off with my nails and other various implements, to no avail). 
So, as a consequence, I spent twice as much time and thread trying to cover these brown lines, and (after taking a Double Strength `Soditol`), I ended up making the pattern up as I went along. But the main thing is that it`s finished and I know my mummy-in-law will love it - now there`s only one question left: does the clock mechanism that came with the kit actually work? Maybe I should`ve checked before I started stitching...?

Monday, 11 November 2013

hubby`s hat - finished!

Since my last post I have finished and posted two commission stitches, so I thought I`d celebrate with a little knitting before I start the next one (on which my deadline is the FOURTH OF DECEMBER - I mean, c`mon, what would you do? Of course you`d knit too!). Anyway, I just finished it this afternoon - hours ago, actually, but the Wee Man`s been hogging my laptop with his Jurassic Park game - and I`m happy to report that DH loves it (i.e. the hat, not the Jurassic Park game) so much that I had to literally tear it off of him before dinner, otherwise he`d have worn it at the table too (shocking, I know). So here it is - nothing spectacular but `just the one he wanted`. Apologies for the poor photo, but for obvious wintry reasons I had to use the flash and thus the hat looks almost navy blue, whereas the yarn is, in fact, closer to dark indigo. And now onto my next project, the cross stitch clock I started over a year ago for MIL - happy stitching, everyone!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

the fabled green hat

And here it is! The green hat I always wanted! (For `always` please read `for the past 3 or 4 weeks, ever since I first saw the pattern`). And if I`m absolutely honest, it`s not even like my dream hat because the yarn turned out to be stripy rather than speckled but it doesn`t matter, the main thing is that Teacosy #2 is finished and it IS really cosy, as I verified it this morning when I gave it a trial run whilst wandering around town, Christmas shopping. It was really frosty first thing so I was glad I had my new hat on, but by the time I was coming home, carrying 5 big bags, I didn`t need it (nor the scarf, the jacket, the big woolly jumper, etc.). I think I managed to grab the true meaning of Christmas this year again: I bought myself some sweeties, 5 pairs of socks, a giant mug for my green tea, 4 balls of wool... Just kidding! Some of that wool is for DH who, seeing my new hat last night, looked at me with puppy eyes and declared that he has never, ever, EVER had a hat that was knitted just for him... So guess what I`m doing tonight? And, of course, the other 4 bags were full of prezzies for others so I`m not as naughty as that (in case Santa reads this...?). Now I`m off to wrap and hide them before the Wee Man comes home from school, then try to stay in the Christmas mood with a nice cup of tea in my brand new big mug and carrying on with my stitching - of an Easter bunny!

Monday, 28 October 2013

DALD sampler finished!

*sigh* (That was a huge sigh of relief). Even though I loved every minute of stitching this sampler, I`m also glad in a way that after 4 long months of looking at it, it`s finally on its way to the (hopefully!) happy owner - a lovely 84-year-old lady who commissioned this for her granddaughter`s wedding. /I also hope that the granddaughter will like it too, lol!/
Since this was my pet project in between magazine works, I revelled in the luxury of not having to keep track of any detail, therefore I don`t know how many hours it took, only that I spent a total of about 2 weeks out of 4 months stitching this. And here is the end result:
 Apologies for the worse-than-usual photo but I finished it last night and couldn`t wait to take a pic - it would`ve been pointless to wait for the bright daylight anyway, it`s been so doom and gloom here lately. So the colours are not as vibrant as they should be... maybe a couple of close-ups will help:

Well, these don`t really do justice to the colours either, but at least I can illustrate what I enjoyed most about working with 2 strands on 18 HPI aida (tbh, this was the ONLY thing I enjoyed about stitching on such a high count fabric): the fact that every single cross sits there like a tiny little pearl. I think they`re awesome!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

DALD update

An uncharacteristically short post as I`m crazy-busy stitching the Dream a Little Dream sampler which I fully intend to finish this week (I kinda have to since I have other things in the pipeline). So here`s a wee recap where I left it off after Go #3:
And this is where things stand just now, at Go #4:

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

knitted hat #1 finished

Isn`t the Internet an amazing thing? If this was a diary or a scrapbook hidden in my drawer, nobody would ever read it, which wouldn`t in itself be such a great loss to the world but... then I wouldn`t have met Sandra, for example - a lovely lady from Kansas who was so helpful to me yesterday, despite of being slightly caffeine-deprived. While musing re: how it made my day and the wonders of the Internet in general, I also realised that I unnecessarily overcomplicated things in my last post by adding a photo of mine with 4 different items on it, and at the same time referring y`all via the link to another photo which also had 4 different hats in it. Why didn`t I just show you a picture of the pattern - doh!?!
I have no excuse, except maybe that I had the Mother of All Headaches yesterday, it took me two horse-strength pills and most of the day to get rid of it. On the bright side, though, I don`t know which ingredient of those tablets affected me so but by the time my head was OK, I became so alert that I couldn`t sleep till almost 2 in the morning. As a consequence, my first hat is finished:
Unfortunately, it is almost an inch shorter than it should be, and while I secretly congratulate myself on judging so accurately where I should start shaping the crown that I have about 2 metres of yarn left, it also resulted in this slightly teacozy-ish shape. Whereas it should look like the top left hat in this photo:
Now, I refuse to call it yet another Hat Fail. Actually, I`m beginning to suspect that the problem is not with the hats I knit but my head. I tried this one on a dozen different ways but, obviously, I`ll never look like the model in this photo. Thanks to the K1B knitting, it`s nice and stretchy but no matter which way I`m pulling the excess material, it looks nothing like this on my head. Instead, I have managed to imitate the look of Papa Smurf, a member of the French Resistance, a demented Highlander, Tommy Cooper in his fez, and even somebody with a KFC family bucket on their head.
Never mind, after a bit of stitching done - I must crack on with the DALD sampler! - I`ll tackle the green yarn and the same pattern but this time I`ll follow it to the letter... maybe that`ll help..? If not, I guess I`ll just have to change the shape of my head somehow..?

Monday, 21 October 2013

knitted hats

I should really go out more often (NB. I probably would if I could somehow stitch on the go). There are so many wondrous things one can learn in the course of a short walk - for example, if the pavement is reduced to half of its width due to roadworks, there WILL be some disgusting stuff in the middle of it which thus you cannot avoid. Also, a fellow mum from the school WILL NOT recognise you while passing you in the street; however, you can baffle a complete stranger into greeting you by simply smiling at her (if a weird noise between a hiccup and a burp... a hiccurp?... can be classified as greeting). And yes, I DO have every single issue of various cross stitch magazines the town`s charity shops have to offer.
But my biggest achievement for today (not counting the posting of my latest magazine piece this morning) is that I finally managed to buy a set of 4 mm circular needles!!! I know it doesn`t sound much, but after spending my entire Saturday hunting for wool in the right shade of green, followed by wasting half of my Sunday dropping in and out of shops to get the required needles for said wool, it is a major fete. (True, there is only a limited number of shops that are open on a Sunday but the fact that I even barged in a furniture store (!) should tell you all about my desperation).
Anyway, this whole Hat Saga started last week with this:
In the top left corner is my Epic Hat Fail - a real shame because it`s a beautiful yarn and the hat is a perfect fit but, alas, when I put it on, I look like the only thing missing is a shopping trolley full of aluminium cans. The rest is just some of my finds of this weekend-long hunt for yarns and needles: with the speckled creamy one, I started this Sirdar pattern (the nutmeg coloured pull-on hat in the top left corner of the pattern pictures), and I`m going to knit the same hat with the green speckled yarn too (now that I have the UK 8 needles... I have several pairs but they all have something on them, and I prefer circular needles anyway). The cute sock wool was practically thrown at me at Lidl`s - after I bought 4 very similar skeins in a charity shop... Oh, and in the course of my wanderings, I also became the proud owner of about half-a-dozen circular needles of various sizes (everything except 4 mm, obviously).
See, the calamity all this knitting can cause? I`d better stick to cross stitch! 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cross Stitch Crazy 183

My Mum`s arriving today!!! Yay!!! I`m so excited, can`t wait to see her again! And I`m sure she`s just as excited to come and see me cross stitch again... ;)
As usual, I`m a busy little bee, working on all kinds of commissions: I`ve just finished some Mothers` Day (!) cards for Card Shop and a Maria Diaz landscape for Collection, and right now I`m stitching another Maria Diaz - my absolute favourite and most glorious project so far, something I`m sure will take your breath away when you see it in the magazine (it`s that kind of stunning). I was so overwhelmed by its beauty - and, at the same time, simplicity from a stitcher`s point of view - that I felt compelled to write to Maria and thank her for it. I was not a little surprised when she, busy as she must be, answered me within half an hour, thanking me for the feedback - what a great lady!
Anyway, since I already hear it calling, plus I have some cleaning left to do before Mummy arrives, I`d better crack on with this post. Among all these big projects, I have almost overlooked some Christmas minis I`d stitched a couple of months ago for Cross Stitch Crazy: some traditional toys by Jenny Barton and 4 floral letters by Susan Bates.

Elsewhere, in the knitting world: I haven`t had too much time lately to play with my yarns but I did get on with the rainbow entrelac a wee bit, plus I started a Fair Isle hat just for the fun of it:

Friday, 27 September 2013

Cross Stitch Collection 228

I have a lovely new follower on Twitter who complimented me on my blog - what a great way to start a day! It also immediately kicked me into gear and made me realise that I`ve been neglecting my posts here, again, for quite a while now... My feeble defence is that I`ve had a couple of emergency jobs lately, one self-inflected and the other a `real`, i.e. magazine one (I had to quickly finish a project another stitcher had started, then she was taken to hospital). I`m about to post it back today and I thought before the next two arrive - they way things work, this month I`m getting 2 projects at the same time -, I`d better tend to my blog before I get snowed under again.
I`ve got more piccies for you, yay!! Cross Stitch Collection 228 came out last week and my autumn cottage is in it - I simply loved every minute of working on this one! Not only because it`s by my favourite designer, Maria Diaz, but because it reminded me of our little white cottage in Hungary. So, without further ado, here are the progress photos I took in June... :)
A tentative start with roof and gate...

Some foliage added...

Getting stonewalled...

Beginning of the `shepherd`s warning` sky...

All the little crosses finished...

And the completed picture with backstitch :)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Dream a Little Dream update

I`ll be honest here: I`m having a naughty weekend. Nothing kinky, I just decided to have a few days off, despite the fact that I`d sent the latest commission stitch back on Thursday and that the next one turned up with Friday`s post - luckily, with a very generous deadline, so I thought I`d better get a move on with the DALD sampler. Even though I started it over two months ago now, this is only my third go at it, due to magazine commitments, so here`s a wee recap of the progress:
Go #1: Just a few hours, to get a taste of this sampler malarkey :)

Go #2: Finished the house in the middle and started to stitch the motifs along the fold lines of the chart
so that I could separate it again into four A3 sheets for easier handling

Go #3: This weekend I concentrated on the top right A3 - getting there!
 Elsewhere, in the knitting world: I took the plunge and FINALLY tried my hand at entrelac! I have no idea (yet) what it`s going to be - depending on the finished size, it might be a scarf, or a bag, or maybe a cushion cover - but at the moment I`m just enjoying seeing the design grow, so whenever I`m not too tired after stitching all day, I knit another coloured row in the evening. As you can see, there have been 3 such evenings so far:
First attempt at entrelac knitting, a.k.a. The Mystery Project

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Cross Stitch Gold 105

Those of you who are lovely-sweet-kind enough to follow my occasional ramblings or mere outbursts on Facebook as well, might remember that a few months ago I moaned a bit when I started my fifth hour of stitching French knots with metallic threads (I know, I`m such a wimp!). Anyway, the result of this Metallic Marathon is in the shops now - my beautiful little advent calendar picture which I absolutely adored working on, despite those few (one hundred and thirty-four, but who`s counting?) French knots. And that`s not all: issue 105 of Gold features Lesley Teare`s unconventional, super-girly Christmas stocking - also stitched by yours truly. So let`s see some before-and-after pictures, shall we?

A nice and easy stitch for a `last-minute` stocking 

All made up, complete with some funky fabby 

And a more traditional Christmas scene, with 134 (!) metallic French knots
The finished advent calendar, complete with the 25 numbers I stitched - I love the idea of these tiny drawers!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Cross Stitch Collection 226

I`ve been so absorbed by my current project for Cross Stitch Gold that I almost forgot to show you another one that appears in the current issue of Collection (226). Although these three cute designs by Maria Diaz are small, I thought they wouldn`t be turned into Christmas cards as soon as I saw the size of the fabric I got from the magazine, and I was right: they became gorgeous little gift bags... I wouldn`t mind getting one of these, filled with sweeties, for Christmas! :)

The photo I took when I finished all three of them...
... and as they appeared in Cross Stitch Collection 226