Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's a secret

I'd really like to share some of the wonderful things I'm creating at the moment.

There's a gorgeous piece of knitting, it's in a really beautiful colour with the most fantastic yarn. It's almost done and is going to look amazing.

Then there's a piece of needlework. It's a fun stitch - really cute.

However, there's a catch - they are both secret projects.

One of the great things about being part of an internet community is that there are frequent opportunities to create things for other people. The bad thing is that while you are creating them you can't talk about them cos they are a secret.

Sometimes the person will know they are getting a gift but not know what it is or who it will be from. The piece of knitting is part of the the Summer Swap on the At Home in Harrogate. We will be exchanging gifts in September and until then I must knit in Secret.

I am able to tell you even less about the piece of needlework - that is so secret I may have to turn the 'puter off while I stitch - just in case you can see it!!!!

What I can share with you is the progress on The November Topaz Fairie by Mirabilia

I had a terrible shock at the weekend. I had ordered the beads for this piece from my local needlework shop. The bill was £56.00!!!!! I am sure she will be stunningly beautiful and that the beads will add a whole new dimension to the piece of work. However, I am so pleased that my Husband doesn't read my blog. Son if you're reading this please remember sometimes a Secret is a good thing (see above).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Once upon a time there were two friends....

......bestest stitching friends they shopped for stash together, planned projects together and laughed till they cried together.

One day Colly decided to visit Samantha and bring lots of stitching with her. On the day Colly came to visit the village that Samantha lived in was celebrating Summer by hosting a Village Show.

People came from far and wide to enter vegetables, flowers, breads, scones, jams, sponge cakes, knitting and embroidery into the exhibition.

Colly and Samantha chose some of their favourite pieces of stitching and took them down to the large marquee.

It was a hot, hot day in July when Colly and Samantha nervously entered the Marquee to see what the judges thought of their work. The two friends walked towards the table each hoping the other had won a prize.

As they approached Samantha saw a yellow ticket by Colly's stunning piece of Hardanger.............

Samantha's bell pull was proudly sporting a blue ticket......

And then they saw a pink ticket by Colly's beautiful sampler ............

A masterpiece by Colly.

The two friends hugged each other happy that they had both won a prize. Later that day when Samantha and Colly's lover Richard went down to collect the prize money (£4.50 to share) there was a surprise.

The Mrs S B Ward Cup, for best embroidery, knitting or sewing in Show was awarded to Mrs C Robinson of Nottingham, England............

Colly was so excited as it was the first time she had won a cup and Samantha was happy because the name of her bestest stitchy friend was going to be next to hers.

The two friends decided that every year they would both enter stitching into the Birstwith Village fact I've got to go and work on my entry for next year!!!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

UFO Night - Week 2

Last night was the second week of UFO night hosted by Moll on A Crafty Natter.

I pulled out Alpine Seasons and the universe arranged for both DH and DS to be out all evening.

My aim was to place a ring of single cross stitch in the correct postion. The ring has four diagonal rows in one colour and four straight ones in another.

I was starting each row by checking placement against one of the rhodes stitches in the body of the work.

I have a version of the pattern that had been released monthly - this is part 4 & 5. I also bought a version of the pattern as a whole when Martina released it a couple of years after the online class finished (it has been a UFO for a long time!!!!).

I used a combination of those two pattern to cross reference positioning - I knew it would take a while but I really wanted to get this spot on.

Three hours later I was almost in tears. Sometimes it just doesn't go right does it? No matter how many times I tried I would get one row positioned spot on then work the next two - check the position and I would be way off!!!! The more I checked against the patterns the worse it got.

Can you guess where this is going?

The patterns are different - the earlier version has 30 stitches on the diagonal and the newer one 34!!!! I was counting from the earlier version as it's on paper and a good size, the newer version is on the computer. As I stared in disbelief at the patterns I did some counting on the piece and that was it - those four stitches on each diagonal were having an interesting effect on the positioning of the straights.

I guess that's why they call it counted embroidery.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Internet

Have I mentioned the internet recently? I spent a LOT of time on the internet - I've not timed it but it must be 3 to 4 hours a day - off and on whilst I'm doing other things.

Yesterday looked something like this:

6.30am Check a Crafty Natter forum, Ravelry, Mirabilia Stitchers forums

9.00am Check a Crafty Natter
Read some blogs
Order some stash pressies from Jaynes Attic for the Advent Exchange

12noon Check Yahoo Groups - Châtelaine Designs - Celtic Mystery and Design Support Group
Check Ravelry
Spend some time on the Châtelaine Designs YUKU group deciding if I'm going to do the next Christmas Mystery and sign up for the Online Class number 25
Check a Crafty Natter

2pmish Read some blogs
Check a Crafty Natter
Order a chart online from the Silver Needle
Check out The Gift of Stitching Yahoo Group

5pm Check a Crafty Natter
Try to source some threads for the BAP that is the embroidered bag project (I will share soon I promise)
Update my blog
Check Ravelry
Check the Silver Needle again to see if they've uploaded their What's New page today
Read some more blogs

9pm Check a Crafty Natter
Start looking for fabric for the Celtic Mystery have a look at Silkweaver - I love their fabric
Try and choose a Biscornu from the Gift of Stitching Biscornu issue

10pm Check a Crafty Natter
Turn off the computer

In addition I've checked what motorbike Steve McQueen rode in the Great Escape, booked a campsite in Thurso, Scotland, checked my bank account and sourced some stairs for a loft extension that DH is building.

I've never analysed my computer use before and I can't decide if it's good or bad. I read and type quickly so although I've done a lot I've done it efficiently and quickly. I love the internet - I've made some excellent friends, done some really exciting things and discovered some of my favourite designers.

I love the way Martina Weber of Châtelaine designs uses the internet to release her patterns. I love the way the Silver Needle features it's products and inspires me to try new and challenging things. I've only recently found Papillion Creations - I love that the world is literally at my fingertips.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


It always amazes me when I realise all over the globe there are individual cratfspeople making unique handcrafted things.

.......the embroiderers are stitching heirlooms
.......the knitters are creating with sticks and string
.......the lace makers are weaving intricate webs of thread
.......the photographers are capturing memories
.......the woodworkers are sculpting with nature
.......the painters are inspired by colour

The beauty of these things created is often a joy to behold and demand for them can be huge.

Almost three years ago while hanging out on the Internet I discovered the Moosie Spindle. Made by Jonathan Bosworth out of the antlers of Moose there is a waiting list as only a few are made each year. This summer has been exciting because it was the turn of the herd my Moosie belonged to.

When you order from the Journeys Wheel you don't just click buy and pay your money. The whole experience is almost magical. Sheila has a most wonderful way with words and a fantastic imagination - every email I received was a treasure. Choosing my spindle from those created this year and requesting the custom made shaft was simple and fun. Waiting for my Moosie to cross the pond was exciting................................

It spins like a dream - balanced and steady it goes forever. I've never met a Moose but I think they are solid, stable creatures who get on with life in a steadfast way - that's exactly what this spindle feels like to spin with.

I love the way it's got marks on it from adventures past - to me this looks like teeth marks - some small animal nibbling on the antlers................

It came with a wee bit of pink sparky roving to keep it happy on the journey - I think I need more to keep it happy on our forthcoming holiday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

About Me

What do you say?

I'm taking part in an Advent Exchange on one of the forums I chat on - 24 small pressies and one bigger one. I have a partner....ssshhhhh it's a secret and I hope a partner has me!!!

To make it easier for our partners we have been asked to have a wish list - that's easy - but also to do an About Me post - likes, dislikes etc. I'm finding it quite hard.

What do you say about yourself -

"Hi I'm Samantha and I like children, puppies and hope to achieve world peace"

or the more realistic

"arrrghhh a minute....................yes it's lovely........................where did I put it............chocolate, wine, cake and snogging.........."

There are the basics - I like natural, earthy tones. I don't do cute, Disney or cartoons in general. I love accessories, notions and bits and bobs in general. I knit, stitch, make bobbin lace like reading and folk music. Please don't send chocolate/food with nuts in cos DS has a nut allergy so no nuts in our house - and yes I have heard all the jokes prompted by that statement.

Or do I get more philosophical - as I look towards 40 I realise that life is about simplicity, nurturing and enjoyment. Being a mother and a wife is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done and it defines who I am. I have a very strong spiritual/moral/ethical compass and don't appreciate 'cruel' humour, violence or nastiness of any type. I live one moment at a time - now - not in the past or in the future. I'm not a complicated person - what you see is what you get.

Actually I think what I might say is:

Dear Advent Exchange partner - thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to think of me and my likes and dislikes. Could I ask that at least 4 of my presents aren't sent to me but to a charity of your choice. I'm sure I'll love every one of my gifts because you have chosen them (but I may like the chocolate ones best of all).

Can you believe I'm thinking about Christmas in July?!?!?!?!?!?!

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's taken a while

I started this piece of bobbin lace 18 months ago.......

It's been the hardest piece I've ever done and I'm really proud of it. I'm working towards the intermediate lace guild assessment and I've still really a long way to go before my portfolio is ready - at least a year.

Every Thursday evening I have a 2 hour lesson - well it's more of a chat, cup of tea and a lesson.
I really enjoy the challenge of making lace - although it's easier that you might think it's can still be quite challenging. I don't need to spend much money either. Bobbins can be expensive if you want them to be but once you're set up with a pillow and bobbins there isn't much else to get. Each year there are several lace fairs and I'm lucky enough to live close to two. Anything I need I can get there - patterns, threads odds and ends.

It's so sad that since the introduction of machine lace there really isn't any need to make lace - but then when has need had anything to do with it. Cross stitch, knitting, quilting always seem to have times when they are really popular - lace making just doesn't seem to get that popularity.

If you've ever thought you'd like to have a go - see if you can find a teacher nearby and try it. In about 20 years I think there will be very few people making bobbin lace and that would be a great shame.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

UFO Night

Thanks to Moll on A Crafty Natter I now have the motivation and inspiration to pick up those unfinished objects and give them a few hours attention each week.  From now on Wednesday night is UFO Night.  My choice for this week is Alpine Seasons.  This piece has had an interesting history since I started it a couple of years ago and it is already full of memories - both good and bad.

At the start of UFO Night it looked like this.......

I'm working on the wildflowers around the edge.

The wildflowers are stunning but they are a real challenge - placing them is difficult, choosing the right thread/colour to use is a challenge and some of the effects are hard work.  But I am so proud when I look at them.  I think they have been one of the hardest things I have stitched for a long time.  

At the end of UFO Night it looked like this............

I got enormous satisfaction that despite the challenge, or perhaps because of it when I got to the beginning I was at exactly the right place, not a hole off, not a stitch too high but EXACTLY where I was supposed to be.

I really enjoyed UFO Night.  Across the world my friends who I've met on the internet are sat in their homes working on those pieces that they find challenging, boring, sad - the ones that stitching forgot.  I'm looking forward to next week already.

Monday, July 14, 2008


This evening I am sitting in my stitching nest working on Mirabilia November Topaz Fairie.  Living in the middle of nowhere high on a hill, I have one neighbour and  a lot of cattle and sheep in the fields.  It's peaceful and quiet but never lonely.

After dinner I sat down with a cup of tea and went for a chat on A Crafty Natter - got in a practice whipping and had a chat with a Frog and the Norwegian person.

Then the phone rings and it's my bestest stitchy friend Colly asking a question about summer colours for another one of her stunning hardanger designs - I think of the colours of bluebells, pansies and honeysuckle.

I pick up the needle again and the phone rings again - my friend Mel who lives in the next village has a harvest to share do we want some.  She popped round 10 minutes later with courgettes, radishes and redcurrants.

A quick pop onto Ravelry for a look at the At Home in Harrogate group to see what my knitting friends are up to.

Time for another cup of tea and a chat with the I said never lonely. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Well I knew that June would be chaotic – I was supposed to be away for three weekends (tutorial, conference and a cancelled camping trip) and the fourth weekend I had plans on the Saturday.  In addition I did a second job in the evenings for a couple of weeks.

Phew – it’s taken me a couple of weeks to recover, get the house back in some sort of order and enjoy some me time.  It was very kind of people to check I was OK and yes I’m fine.

I’ve been making progress on the Lady Eleanor Shawl which has become my take everywhere project and is a pleasure to work on.

I know there are some of you out there that may find the next section unpalatable – I make no apologies.  I am proud and will not be ashamed.  As well as being a knitter I do embroidery.  Those of you who have been hanging around here for a while will know that originally that was the main focus of my attention and it is only more recently that knitting has taken over.  Those of a nervous disposition who just ‘don’t get it’ may look away now – for the rest of you………………….

Last year my friend Colly bought me the beautiful November Topaz Fairie.  I have never done a Mirabilia design before but she is a beauty and November is my birthday month so it was a wonderful gift.

Two weeks ago just as life was getting back to normal I decided to make a start – this is my progress to date……………………

She is a delight to stitch – the use of shading is subtle but adds a wonderful dimension.  The colours are beautiful, charming and simply gorgeous.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done a piece of cross stitch with no speciality stitches (about 5 years I think) and I’m really enjoying it. 

There are a lot, and I mean a lot (almost £50 worth) of beads on this piece.  I’ve got them on special order from the Stitchers Garden in Harrogate.  The ones that have arrived are beautiful colours so I know they will really add beauty to the piece.

Unfortunately I have a slight injury at the moment and my right hand looks like this….

It will be fine in a couple of weeks, I’ve got tendonitis from bad computer mouse posture!!!!  I’ve found that I can’t knit but can stitch – I stitch using both hands with the frame on a stand so there is very little my right hand (which is at the back of the piece) needs to do.  Maybe I could embroider the splint and make it look prettier!!!!

Coming soon………………………………….the BAP that is the Embroidered Village Bag Project.