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Saturday, 11 November 2017

Christmas Eve box

This week issue 325 of Cross Stitcher is out in the UK so now I can share some pics of the Christmassy goodies featured in it. I had so much fun with this trio of designs by Felicity Hall - even opening the envelope and seeing this eclectic mix seemed almost like an early Christmas present! 😊 First up, I got a wee chart of candy canes and hollies, these were to go on shiny gold perforated paper (I was already doing a little happy dance here: it is not often that I get to stitch on anything else but fabric. Don`t get me wrong, I`d choose aida or evenweave any day over paper or plastic but from time to time, it`s nice to do something a little different for a change, and especially if it`s something so small) 😉 Then there was a slightly larger design that said "Christmas Treats" - it was to go on sparkly cream-and-gold aida and I loved stitching with the bright yellows and oranges, it was certainly different from the run-of-the-mill "Christmas colours". Finally, there was the largest of the three, this was to be stitched on bright blue aida (Smurf-blue, to be precise). I thought it was clever the way the design incorporated the candy canes, holly and the orange lanterns of the other two charts, plus added a jolly Santa and a couple of his reindeer to the ensemble. I loved stitching the banners saying "Christmas Eve" and "One More Sleep" and thanks to the nice big blocks of colour, the project grew pretty quickly. I also like the idea of having a special box that comes out every year on Christmas Eve, maybe with some games in it that would keep the children occupied for a little while on the night that seems the longest of them all...?
I only have one picture of the 3 pieces together (because the rest of them are either too bright with the flash or too dark without it and you can never see the sparkle of the gold threads or the perforated paper anyway) but I love how, accidentally, I arranged the 3 the same way the finished items made it into the magazine. Happy stitching, folks!

Friday, 29 September 2017


I guess it`ll be a while before projects I stitched after the summer holiday start to appear in publications so if there`s an even bigger gap between my blog posts, it`s because of that (the otherwise lazy blogger said, unashamedly) 😉 Anyway, here`s one of the last pieces I stitched before the summer, these 8 cute penguin gift tags by Tiny Modernist that are this month`s free gift with Crazy 235.

In other news, there`s not much happening: summer`s definitely over, heating`s on, wee man`s back to school - erm, to be more precise, he`s almost off again (after next week, we`re all looking forward to a fortnight of the autumn break and galavanting all over Scotland with my mom who`s also arriving next week). And by the time G goes back to school, it`s almost Halloween, which is almost Christmas, which is almost 2018! 😲 Anyway, as quickly as this year has rushed by, at least I have a framed Van Gogh now to show for it - please excuse the artfully angled photo, I didn`t want to fill the screen with one big flash-explosion. 

Oh and I just remembered that before I got a bit snowed under with commission stitching (again!), I had started Save The Stitches too - although I didn`t get too far, atm it looks like a strange and failed attempt of a maze designer. 😂 (That reminds me: found this site accidentally - worth checking out if you like mazes, you can generate your own! 😉 Happy stitching... and maze solving! 😁

Friday, 25 August 2017

Sunflowers finished and MORE Christmas

Just a quick post as I promised - for now I have a finished Van Gogh, mwahaha! OK, not exactly as promised - for `tis not framed. Yet. I had every intention of running out today and not returning without a frame but, alas, in my great excitement I forgot that I was skint. So no frame, I`m afraid, until I get some money - in the meantime though, here`s the finished picture:

It took 23 days, on and off, and I can`t tell you how excited I was when I stitched that blue signature last night! 😀 Not only is it my own personal Van Gogh but it`s also the first piece in a very, very long time that I stitched just for myself - and I`m so happy with it I don`t even feel guilty! 😉
In other news, I got my subs copy of Crazy 234 yesterday, with the little Durene Jones Christmas stocking freebies in it - how sweet are these? I`ll def stitch them again because this time I can finish them with the red/green pieces of felt included in the kit and these`ll look adorable on the tree - tee hee, I`m not even thinking about giving them away! What monster have you unleashed, Vincent... 😂

Saturday, 19 August 2017

tree of life, a bit more Christmas and sunflowers

This week there are two new publications out in the UK shops and, in a way, my stitching`s on the cover of both. 😀 One of them is the free gift with the latest issue of The World of Cross Stitching, and the other is this folksy tree of life cushion in Cross Stitcher 322.

As I have mentioned many times before, I love, love, LOVE stitching blocky designs... and folksy designs... and designs with shades of red, green and brown, so this Amanda Butler cushion felt like it was made for me. It grew so fast that I could hardly believe it (have I mentioned how much I love blocky designs? That`s another reason: because you can actually see it grow). It took roughly two weeks and it was one of those projects where I felt sad when it was finished, I enjoyed it so much - from the green blocks to the vines and flowers to filling in the gaps with DMC 352.

3,5 hours

16 hours

23 hours

38 hours

45 hours

58 hours - finished 😊

Deer on the flip side 😁 - love the texture of the dark green leaves` back!

And here it is in the magazine, all made up into a folksy wee cushion, complete with cheerful yellow bobbles:

 Next up, after all the autumn colours, here`s a bit more Christmas: the free gift with WOCS 259 is a set of 3 cute cards, designed by Helz Cuppleditch, of a moggy playing with a stocking, a robin and a cracker.

I like how the cards repeat the snowflake motifs of the stitching:

Finally, in other news: I`m plodding on with my Van Gogh Sunflowers. I`ve been away on holiday and had another commission stitch finished in the meantime (also by Amanda Butler but this is a wildlife pic, just wait until you see it in WOCS, amazing and cute rolled into one!!) so according to my calendar, I`ve spent 17 days so far working on this and I reckon another 4-5 should do it so fingers crossed, by the time of my next post I`ll have it framed...? #wishfulthinking 😂 Happy stitching, peeps!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

It`s beginning to look a bit like Christmas...

Is it August yet? Oh yes, it`s the 2nd - then it`s not too early anymore to put my Santa hat on, tee hee! There are two publications in the UK shops this week and they both signal the start of Festive Stitching Season - yay! 😊
First up, my little Popcorn bear, this month`s free gift with Crazy 233.

He is not TOO Christmassy as such, is he? No, not yet. Apart from that tentative robin, he could be skiing in the Alps for all we know, right? That is, if you don`t use the aperture card... 😉

But here`s something that couldn`t be more Christmassy if it tried: a stocking with an elf and presents in Gold 140:

This lovely Faby Reilly design looks deceivingly smallish in the photo but IRL it is MASSIVE! Here`s how the project arrived:

I didn`t think of measuring the fabric but judging by that IKEA cushion under it, it must have been around 70ish x 90-100 cms. The chart was on 4 (well, 3 and a bit, really) A3 sheets and besides the threads, I also got a summary of the specialty stitches featured in the design.

If you need to brush up on your eyelet sts and spider web sts,
Faby has great tutorials on her website.

So as usual, my first task - being a `hand-held stitcher` - was to figure out how to handle this huge piece of fabric. I had to use my biggest binder clips but these, combined with the weight of the fabric, made the whole thing so heavy that I had to rely on my trusty magnets as well (I have a magnet board that holds my chart and the whole thing swivels on a Lowery frame so this time I just attached the top binder clip to one of my strong magnets and it took the weight off my left hand).

That`s the bottom right quarter of the fabric and those few blue stitches are the middle. Since I want to hold as little fabric (especially stitched, i.e. even heavier!) in my left hand as possible, for as long as possible, I had to get to the rightmost part of the stocking - which meant a wee bit of skipping:

I loved this look btw - it`s a bit like a map, isn`t it? And the `Lego colours` just make it so cheerful! 😊 Once I reached the `toe`, I could really get going. 

10 hours

26 hours

48 hours

Once I started the top half, I could finally take the binder clips off, and as an added bonus, the bits with specialty sts grew really fast because they covered large areas quickly.

Finally, after 88 hours, it was all finished. Excuse the even-more-than-usually badly lit photo - I had to take an aerial shot so I`m standing on a chair here and the flash just couldn`t cope. 😁

Anyway, here`s a much better picture, with proper lighting and the stocking all made up - looking fantastic, even if I say so myself. 😉 Happy stitching!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Big Reveal

Finally, after more than a year, the time has come when I can share some photos of the Big Surprise I`ve been working on since last May. But before I forget it in my great excitement, here`s a quick pic of the adorable wee hedgie that`s this month`s free gift with WOCS 258 that came out while I was on holiday:

It`s sweet as it is but I love the birthday card with the balloons, it looks even more special:

So. The Big Reveal. I started this project in May 2016, thinking that I`d finish it by Christmas last year, but I only completed it in May 2017. Out of these 12 months, there were only 5 weeks in total that I spent stitching this photo conversion - it is scary to think how much `free time` I have in a year! 😂 The story behind it is as follows:
When Gregory was 3 years old, we spent the summer in our cottage in Hungary and one day, my granddad was sitting in the garden with him, reading to him from his favourite farmyard book. Gregory just started to talk around that time (mixing English and Hungarian adorably, by the way 😊) and all we heard from the house was my granddad saying MACSKA (`cat`) over and over again and Gregory "repeating" MAK-CSA after him every time. It went on for ages as neither of them would back down, and I took a photo of the scene, which has been a family favourite ever since.

A dear stitchy friend of mine from Facebook converted the photo into a chart and last year, I enthusiastically dived in:

I completed the first page (of 12) in 3-4 days and then, reassured that this should be a doddle (?!?), I stopped - especially as I started to get commissions back to back and I didn`t have a spare moment for the next few months. Then in December I started to panic and put everything else on hold, I only concentrated on this picture.

Luckily, there was a lot of black in the background so by choosing to work on black fabric (16ct aida), I saved a lot of time - I marked these squares with grey felt pen so that the remaining pages of the chart wouldn`t look so daunting. 😉

Even so, by 19 Dec I only got this far...

... and my parents were arriving on the 21st to spend Christmas with us. Since I`d been telling my mom for ages that I was stitching something for them, I quickly came up with this Plan B that I knocked up on the 20th (it`s a wee key holder from an old issue of Cross Stitcher that I changed into Hungarian - I wonder what my mom thought when she saw the product of my alleged 6-months worth work!). 😀

For some reason, Christmas 2016 came and went even more quickly than usual - I swear one minute we were singing Silent Night and the next it was Spring break at the school and we were eating Easter eggs. In May, I finally went back to the Papi pic, knowing that I only had that little bit on the left to finish:

Finally, on 21 May, it was complete and ready to go to the framers. I chose two mats, cream and avocado green and a dark brown frame that`d match the other frames in my parents` house. I also asked for museum glass that doesn`t reflect the person standing in front of the picture. It took almost 5 more weeks but luckily, I got it back before our trip to Hungary.

We didn`t leave anything to chance on the long car journey across Europe: first we bubble-wrapped it, then wound a blanket and then half a dozen towels around it. Eventually, it was ready to go in the boot:

I knew there would be tears when my mum saw it. She`s always been very close to my granddad - we all adored him but they had a special bond and a year after this photo was taken, sadly he passed away in 2009. And the picture was presented to her almost on the same spot of the garden where the original `mak-csa incident` had happened, and not too far from where my granddad is buried. One of the first things she said was that he must be watching us now and smiling at us. Gregory videoed The Grand Opening - but I almost managed to break the internet with it, I don`t know why it was so difficult to up/download but eventually, after many attempts, I made a shortened version that skips the first few dozens of layers of towels and blankets and shows just the last phase of the unwrapping. I think this`ll always be one of my top favourite moments of all time! 😊

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Indian elephant and Van Gogh

I almost did something else again! But if I don`t post now, I never will. *puts on determined face*
I`m so busy having fun with my own stitching these days that I keep forgetting about other stuff I`m supposed to be doing. Not to mention the wee man`s school programs - and crocheting: have I mentioned I`ve learnt to crochet sunburst granny squares? I enjoy them so much I`ve started mass-producing them:

I`ve decided it goes faster if I do the same round on all of them - but when that gets too boring, I switch back to completing each square individually, it makes a change to swap between colours and stitch types. Hopefully, one day I`ll have enough squares to make a blanket.
So. There are some publications out there this week (last week?) that have my pieces in them, including this gorgeous Indian elephant in Gold 139, designed by Carol Thornton.

I love the vibrant colours and the straight lines that were especially soothing to stitch, as was all the filling in with that gorgeous pale yellow. Elephants are my favourite among favourite animals, so I was really pleased when this project came my way.

5,5 hours

11,5 hours

20 hours

32 hours

50 hours

67 hours - finished! 😊

I don`t always take pics of the back but I love how tidy those straight lines make this look

There`s also issue 257 of The World of Cross Stitching in the shops, and this month`s free gift is the beautiful butterflies card... that I think I`ve posted about already but here it is then, as a recap:

This week I was also excited to be able to pick up my parents` "Christmas" present from the framer - it looks just the way I pictured it in my head so I`m over the moon with it and I hope they`ll like it too. I`ll find out in about a fortnight - and when I come back from holiday, I can finally put some photos of it up here too.
What else? Finally, after 5 long years of owning the HAED chart of Van Gogh`s Starry Night, I managed to get round to having it re-printed in the library - I thought, why struggle when I can have the chart on A3 pages? So I had them done and last week I was ready to go:

I started from the bottom right corner and after 7 days I had my first page finish:

But then as I was showing it to folks on Facebook, I began to realise that I wasn`t happy with the colour scheme. 😩 I chose Starry Night not only because I love Van Gogh but also because blue is my favourite colour - as opposed to purple, the only colour I don`t like. I put my chart and a picture of the original painting side by side...

...and decided to abandon this project for the now. I think I`m going to chart it for myself, using blues instead of purples, and I`ll try to make it the right size so that I can still use this nice big piece of aida, which is still going to be quite large, even after I cut this stitched bit off (as there is no way I can unpick it). But so as not to be without Van Gogh in the meantime, last night I started his Sunflowers (I`ve had this Maria Diaz design for ages, it`s in the July 2009 issue (172) of Collection).

And while I was working on the bottom right corner of the purple Starry Night, I also realised that if I`m going to spend months and months stitching such a confetti-heavy piece, I`m going to need something (crafting-wise, I mean. At the same time, I`m also translating but that`s a different kind of challenge and satisfaction), so I`m going to need something that gives me instant gratification, i.e. a project that`s made up of blocks that can be finished in a day. So I had a look on the internet and found this amazing blackwork sampler (called `Save The Stitches`, free to download from Elizabeth Almond`s website), and I already have the fabric and threads - I`m going to use stranded cotton 301, 415 and 3821 instead of the metallics and no beads, either, I want to keep it simple and non-blingy. So in a few months/years/decades, I should end up with something like this:

How gorgeous is this?? 😍 I think I`m going to start this today 😉 Happy stitching!