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Monday, 14 December 2015

keys, typewriters, a teddy and a sock (or two)

Another busy weekend but I guess that`s just the way it is, two weeks before Christmas - squeeee, can`t believe it`s almost here again! Also, no idea where 2015 has gone...
From Friday, the latest edition of Cross Stitch Collection, Issue 257 is available in the UK shops and in this one, there are several cards I stitched - or, to be precise, two cards and a keyfob, all three by designer Durene Jones.

One of the highlights of 2015 is definitely the friendship/penpalship I struck up with Durene. After years of stitching many of her designs, we started to write to each other on Facebook, after I messaged her for some advice on the above typewriter chart. First I was a bit starstruck, but it soon became obvious what a friendly and helpful person she is - as stitchers all over the world usually are. Plus, not only is she a talented designer, she`s also a keen crocheter AND she`s funny and quirky... basically, everything you`d expect if you`re familiar with her artwork. :)
So here are the fruits of our joint efforts, as they appeared in the magazine:

I`ve had quite a productive weekend: I made a little Christmas ornament for my mother-in-law - it`s a little teddy in a Santa hat, which I backed with red felt, and while I was looking for some festive ribbon, I came across this tiny bell that was on one of G`s chocolate Santas, so I recycled it (Santa`s belt, not the chocolate. Alas, that is long gone).

Finally, by Sunday night I finished the pair to my first-ever sock - which btw had taken me almost half a year to complete (on and off, obviously) and I`m quite chuffed that the second one took considerably less time: I only started it three or four days ago. :)
Before I show you #1 sock and then both of them on my shapely feet, I`d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and, just in case I don`t post before then, a Happy New Year as well - I hope 2016 will bring all of us plenty more stitching! :)

Friday, 4 December 2015

Fizzy Moon - The World of Cross Stitching 237

Another publication hits the UK shops today, WOCS 237, and in it (on it?) is what the magazine`s lovely editor, Ruth Southorn labelled `our showstopper cover project`: Fizzy Moon. :)
Although generally I`m not a big fan of cute cross stitch, I love stitching Fizzy and have made several pics and Christmas cards featuring him - for some reason, I love his small-yet-sweet eyes and stocky-but-soft body. Not to mention that most of the time he`s bearing gifts or brings a flower, which makes him an ideal present, and from a technical point of view, he is `backstitchy`, yes, but not the worst.
This particular one for WOCS is a 100x80 picture that took 25 hours to finish - as I remember, in the build-up to our summer holiday, so I was packing flipflops and shorts in suitcases between stitchy sessions... hard to believe it was half a year ago! :O
Probably it`s due to this pre-holiday frenzy that I didn`t take any progress pics, only one at the end, but at least I have different copies of it to show you: first my own photo, then Fizzy as cover star and, finally, as he appears in the magazine (I love the white frame they chose for him). Oh, and last night I accidentally came across the new Sayings-range on the DMC Creative World website, so I`ll post a pic of my first-ever tapestry too - a wee detour into a different kind of needlework with this saying often attributed to Oscar Wilde but in fact it`s from Voltaire. ;) Thank you for stopping by, happy stitching!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

inspirational motto - Cross Stitch Crazy 211

The latest publication that has one of my stitches in it is Crazy 211 (actually, it`s been in the shops for about a week now, I just forgot to write about it here - I blame it on the run-up to Christmas but maybe I`m just getting forgetful). This design was a welcome little (= 5,5 hours) breather while I was working on a massive big Anchor pic for a later issue of Gold and, as it turned out, it is also one of three designs by Felicity Hall. Here`s my own `shady` picture of this inspirational motto, and a much better one from the magazine, where it`s properly lit, along with the other two pieces. Happy stitching!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Christmas sampler - Cross Stitch Collection 256

In my great big excitement about Olivia, I almost forgot the latest publication in the UK shops: Collection 256 has a rustic (primitive?) Zweigart sampler, stitched by yours truly... in 18 hours, if I remember correctly, so I didn`t stop to take several photos of this one, but here is the finished product:

The Twelfth Night Cushion Saga

Apologies to everyone who`s already familiar with this story - and to the rest, here`s what`s been happening on the Olivia front.
It all started around April this year, not long after I first saw the 2012 Globe production of Shakespeare`s Twelfth Night on SkyArts (since then I`ve bought the DVD - naturally!). ;) Twelfth Night has always been one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and I have seen many different versions of it on stage and film, but this Original Practices, i.e. all-male production was a real treat. I`m not much for categorical statements like `this must be how it was back then` - I`m more in favour of toying with the idea of the possibility that `this is how it could have been`, `this is how Shakespeare`s contemporary audience might have seen this play`. Not just because the groundlings are leaning on the Globe`s stage and male actors play female parts, but the attention to detail is legendary: the musicians play on replicas of contemporary instruments, and Stephen Fry marvelled at the fact that the brass buttons on his costume were made using molds that were authentic (cf. around 5 mins into this interview on YouTube).
And the sheer fact that Stephen Fry plays Malvolio! Johnny Flynn and Paul Chahidi were true revelations to me, and I`m especially glad that I have this record of the production with Roger Lloyd-Pack who, sadly, died last year. The image of him stuck in the box tree will stay with me as much as that of Trigger and his trusty brush. :)
So around April-May, I got the idea of doing something to celebrate this rare occasion when everything comes together to create a `perfect 10` of a play that was, in a huge part, thanks to the award-winning performance of Mark Rylance, often tagged as `the most talented Shakespeare actor of our time`. He played the countess Olivia in Twelfth Night, whose white-faced, high-collared image just begged to be translated into a cross stitch pattern - so after a little fiddling with my trusty Jane Greenoff design making program, I eagerly started stitching.

The original theatre poster and Phase 1: the face; 27 hours

43 hours

65 hours

78 hours

96 hours

103 hours

And finally, after 140 hours, the finished stitching, complete with crownlet:

From Day 1, I always imagined the finished product as a plump, natural coloured cushion. I discussed it at the time with the lovely Rebecca Reid, who was my magazine editor at the time (sadly, she has since left our mag but although I miss her a lot, I know that the stitchy world`s loss is the sewing world`s gain). She very kindly provided me with the fabric - and even made up the finished stitching into a cushion for me, what a star! :)

Rebecca chose gold-and-white fabric for the piping, to complement the ruff and the crown - beautiful!

So after half a year, Olivia was ready for her journey to London; I contacted Mark Rylance`s agent and posted the cushion to the address she provided - and I thought that would be the end of it... or maybe I half-expected an email from the agent, letting me know whether they (Mark Rylance and his wife, composer Claire van Kampen, who provided the music for Twelfth Night) liked it at all...? Hehe, I even bribed his agent with some gummy bears to say they did, even if they didn`t - because I`m well aware that cross stitch is not to everyone`s taste, and non-stitchers usually don`t know how much time and work is involved in one of these pieces, not to mention that I wasn`t even sure whether M. R. was in the UK or maybe shooting in Hollywood... So to find that he actually took the time to find my tiny address label on the parcel (I never put it on the card) and personally write a wee note to say thank you means a lot to me - actually, scratch `a lot`: I am over the moon right now! :D

Friday, 16 October 2015

stork scissors - Collection 255

The latest issue of Cross Stitch Collection hit the UK shops today and in it there`s not only the second part of Jenny Barton`s Christmas block sampler...

... but also the mini scissors I stitched some months ago:

Funny how, months later, I never remember the exact words I used on that form I have to fill out after every project but I`m pretty sure I must have said the above as I did, indeed, start with the 2-over-2 pincushion, to figure out every minute detail of the design:

Hmmm, it must be my photo-taking skills, again: I hope you`ll believe me when I say, there is some backstitch detail there! :D
And then I started to tackle the 1-over-1 spool ribbon (I don`t know what the official name is... but it`s a band that goes around a wooden `thing` that looks like a thread spool and is big enough to house a pair of scissors).

As you can see, the motifs here are barely bigger than a pound coin. I have another pic of the two designs together and in this one, I used a more internationally recognisable item for size comparison - in case you don`t know how big a £1 is, I hope you are all familiar with lipbalms, lol!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Victorian sleigh ride - Gold 124

Finally, I can share pics of one of this year`s favourite projects - I luv, love, LOVED working on this one! I didn`t know too much about it (which, however, didn`t stop me from doing a 15-minute happy dance as soon as I saw it): when it arrived, the sheet only said `Porterfield` and I have to admit, that didn`t mean a thing to me. Since then, I have googled it/them and it turns out, they`re an American company with various licensed artists and I can`t wait to have a little free time to browse their selection (here) because I like what I see at first blink, especially the landscapes - yumm!
So here is Canadian painter Richard de Wolfe`s sleigh ride in its beautiful frame:

I love this quote from the artist (p. 32 of Cross Stitch Gold, 124): "Although I`m not a stitcher myself, I can certainly appreciate the skill involved, and the joy that must come from creating a beautiful picture using just a needle, some fabric and thread. How satisfying to take a step back and admire the finished result." Oh-ho-ho, yes! Satisfying, indeed. I think I like this guy! :D
Anyway, here are my progress photos, taken NOT every 5 hours, as usual, but rather at the end of each working day. I can`t remember now why I was a bit pushed for time with this one... I think we were about to go on holiday...? Something like that. And I also remember feeling a bit frustrated for not being able to complete it 100% because I was told to leave the faces blank - I think the editor(s) wanted to see it first and then decide whether to use 1 or 2 strands for the facial features. In the end, they opted for tiny stitches for they eyes and lips, which I totally agree with: I think French knots, even with just 1 strand, would have made the passengers look scared, lol. Anyway, if they look a bit ghostly in my last pic, it is because of this.
Today will be the day btw when I (hopefully) finish a BAP for Gold that I started almost 2 months ago... well, if not today, then defo this weekend! ;) Wish me luck, peeps - I can`t wait to `step back and admire the finished result` and also to be able to show it to you... maybe around next February...? :D Happy stitching!

7 hours

14 hours

21 hours

29 hours

38 hours

44 hours

51 hours

59 hours

73 hours

87 hours - finished! (minus faces, that is) ;)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Christmas blocks sampler - Collection 254-255

Long time, no see, as usual - and I`m busy, busy, as usual. None of which I can talk about just yet, as usual. None of which makes a riveting blog, as usual. But hey, at least there`s a new publication out this week (technically, since last Friday but I was... yep, busy).

Cross Stitch Collection 254 has the first half of Jenny Barton`s Christmas sampler featured (the second half will be in next month`s issue), a project I really enjoyed working on. I`m sure it`ll be a very popular design with lots of readers, because if you don`t have time to stitch the whole sampler, the individual squares can be turned into cards or wee ornaments too. The whole sampler took 128 hours, and I can honestly say that that 3 up, 3 down backstitch line that frames every block was one of the most satisfying things to stitch in a long while, it was most therapeutical.
I`ve got loads of pics for this one as I took a photo of each square, mostly to keep a note of my time of progress (since they`re card sized, they usually took between 6-9 hours). So here they are, all my little close-ups - see you soon, I hope, and happy stitching!