Saturday, 31 August 2013

A Birthday lunch and ...

The dreaded desire to start something new has struck badly.   But I have too many things currently in the basket
Three remaining Christmas ornaments for finish-finish
The WALES band of the UK Trip book
A blackwork page for the NMMSAL.
Some knitting on the needles (must be done by summer) and
The Dress (must be sewn-finished by the end of October)
and a thousand and one other plans in my head so I will be well occupied until Christmas.   At least the ornaments in preparation for that are all done thanks to Stitching Lotus and her Ornament Stitch-A-Long  
I have prepared the grid for the blackwork page and plan to do a chequer board sampler

Oh yes, and there is a Christmas Tree wall hanging of Suffolk Puffs I need to do in order to fulfil a promise to a friend.   Oops - I have perhaps bitten off more than I can chew?
Today the HD3QBEM and I went out for sushi as her birthday celebration.   We had a happy time celebrating -  she's looking well don't you think?
And on the way home I called at the fabric store for two dress lengths.   One is a navy and white Japanese cotton and the other a black and white cotton sateen.   Both will be great to wear to work.  It feels like Spring is in the air so I need to get sewing!
Tonight while watching TV I shall finish-finish the canvas work purse and perhaps the remaining three Christmas ornaments?

Thursday, 29 August 2013

August Christmas Ornament

Just in time to display for the Ornament SAL I have completed two more of my twelve days of Christmas.  
These are stitched to pattern you know -  I didn't abbreviate them at all!   But why oh why did the designer only put three ladies and two lords??
I'm hoping to have them all done to add to the sale table at our Embroiderers' Guild Annual Display next month.   Only three more to finish-finish!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


While I was having lunch today a quack alerted me to these visitors....
So it is definitely Spring here - not just lambs and calves but ducklings (and blossom) and on tonight's weather forecast the promise of snow in the south.   Oh well.  Dreams are free.
Tonight I plan a hot bath and a trawl through my Blackwork  and Wessex books.   I'm planning for the next page of my NMMSAL and six Christmas ornaments are calling me to complete their finishing.   Perhaps there will be a happy dance at my place soon and possibly some photographs to share.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

From this to this

I have been up since 6am this morning in order to get at least three things crossed off my To-Do list.
So baking done -  Hokey pokey chocolate chip biscuits; Coffee Date Slice; Spiced Fruit Loaf.   That should keep the HD3QBEM happy for morning and afternoon tea this week.
And stitching done.   The UK Trip book has three bands finished
My "do-not-really-enjoy-this" canvas work has gotten this far
Oops a daisy.   The canvas is transparent enough to show the table runner underneath.   Bad photography Margaret!
And The Dress has gone from this cheap muslin toile to
to this
Sleeves, a side zipper, silk-cotton lining and hem are necessary before I will model this.   Suffice it to say I am much pleased.   Even more so now I am confident that this will be finished before the wedding at the end of October.And the bonus???    A skirt for the summer (when it comes)
Cotton pique and very simple but will be great in the hot office during the summer.   A very profitable day resulting in not only satisfaction but renewed confidence in my ability to make clothes that do fit!

Thursday, 22 August 2013


Some years ago I remember reading Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" and thinking that of course it would take a book of nearly 1000 pages to tell the story of building a stone cathedral.   Well, I feel like that with this Irish castle -  a massively long undertaking!   The right hand turret was complete, or so I thought, until I found two vertical rows next to the tree were missing and each little 'stone' had to be unpicked.   No mean feat with poor eyesight and at the end of a tiring day in front of a computer screen.
Dogged determination ensured I reached this stage before downing tools and calling it a night.   Now looking at the photo I have to admit to a certain degree of satisfaction :-)  The green hills and the lake live up to my romantic notions of Irish countryside but the St Patrick's cross could do with a little backstitching methinks.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Scotland is conquered and I'm off to Ireland!

A mountain covered in heather and Douglas Fir later, I have completed the Scotland portion of the Trip Book cover.   Wasn't it amazing that the Anchor blue ombre thread so kindly formed a cloud for me ?!   This has been fun to do - even though my eyes are rather tired and I may have developed a semi permanent squint!  And so I need to go back to Ireland and finish their castles!
I have made an appointment to visit the optometrist next month and will get new "ordinary" spectacles as well as new "embroidery" spectacles.   From past experience I know this will be fraught with all sorts of difficulties - how can I choose frames well when I haven't got my spectacles on to see them?  Then there is the wait!   My lenses are made by Zweiss in Germany and take forever a long time to arrive back here in New Zealand, by which time I have forgotten what the chosen frames look like and there is always a moment of dismay when I try the completed spectacles on and think "did I choose these?"
My canvas work is progressing but I am no more in love with it now than I was at the beginning.   However in saying that I am pleased I have made the effort to try this technique - even if I never repeat it.  Working with wool and with a stiff canvas is proving hard on my fingers and thumbs so I am not able to speed along on this one.   I tried out a different colour in the top left corner but I don't like it so out it will come.
While prodding plodding along on the canvas work, I had an inspiration on what to do with the "two sides" I had made of Judy O'Dells Jewellery Box.   Judy decided midway to call a halt on this project, so I was left with two pieces and no inspiration till now.   But I only need a zipper, some doctors flannel, some suitable lining fabric and some time and voila this will be another finish.  Watch this space.
In the weekend I have promised to take the HD3QBEM shopping but hope to find time to do some sewing as well.  The bottom half of 'The Dress' needs to be done and I have two lengths of fabric to make into skirts. Ah -  so many projects so little time!  The floral piece will be a basic skirt to wear with a cotton T shirt but I am undecided on how to treat the striped silk.   I bought this fabric in Adelaide 8 or 9 years ago and have never been able to decide on what to wear with it. Perhaps this time I have the solution as am knitting a lacy cotton top in the turquoise/aqua but am keeping my eyes open for a duponi silk to match the wine/plum stripe.  If you see me lurking in fabric shops with a scrap of silk you'll know why!
And as I have a good book to read, I am off to soak my aching muscles and curl up in bed.   Good night all.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


My weekend has been spent sewing.   A start has been made on 'the dress' - well on the calico mock up to check for fit.   Measure, cut,  stitch, try on and then get the HD3QBEM to pin and mark where adjustments need to be made.   Whatever was I thinking of??   However,we managed and although calico #1 had to be unpicked and remade into calico #2 we hit the jackpot then and I have the sizing right now for the bodice.   I plan on making up a calico for the skirt this week and then it should be onwards and upwards to the finish line.   My "dowager hump" created problems in fitting the upper back and I have decided to place the zip in the side seam and eliminate the ups and downs from the rigidity of that in a centre back seam.   Here's a shot - wrinkles and all.
Last night I worked some more on the canvas work.   The rhythm and counting are great but having to choose colours and fit them into a coherent blend is not my forte at all.   Here's a progress shot.   There's another two shades of blue to go in which should help temper the mauve/wine dominance.
And the Scotland band of the UK Trip Book is coming along.   This week I plan on getting the left half filled -  a loch and a forest of Douglas Fir trees.   Such fun this sampler, although it doesn't stifle the "hardanger-itis" which is consuming me!
I want to make a small hardanger clutch purse.   Which of my many patterns shall I choose.  Can you guess that for many years I have wanted to do hardanger and that almost all patterns/charts become necessities?  Well they did until common sense prevailed and I decided that I already had enough!   Linen will be no problem as I have that in abundance too :-)
And so another busy week starts. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Half of Scotland!

Tonight I managed to get half of Scotland completed.  The shading on the castle didn't show up well with the threads indicated so I added a little backstitch to define the castle more and am happier with the result.
The left hand half is fir forest and so will be umpteen shades of green rather than the grey of the castle walls.   Onward and upward and then back to complete Ireland.  
I am getting hardanger fever again but cannot start anything new while I have three works in progress.   Perhaps a look through my hardanger charts and a drool over them will cure me?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

And the current attempts are ...

Currently I have three pieces of needlework on the go, as it were.   Some are more go than others!
I am attempting a small sampler piece of Florentine work for the NNMSAL.   So far so good but it is not love at first sight.   An old friend of the HD3QBEM gave me some Anchor and Bucilla threads - "I know you like needlework dear"  -  so I am using them up on this sampler square.
Then the next attempt is at canvas work.   My father bought a roll of several metres of #18 mono canvas many many years ago.   Well he died 22 years ago and it was well before that!   Said roll has been languishing in my cupboard all these years so I have retrieved it, together with wool threads from an abortive attempt at crewel work many years ago.   Hopefully these will come together into a zipped purse.  
And I have returned to the UK Trip book.   The castles of Ireland have defeated me at the moment so I moved on to Scotland.   A little sky, a little loch, a little lettering and some thistles.  Not too much to show for some hours of work but I am enjoying this.
The HD3QBEM has been conscientiously knitting and had several cardigans that needed buttons to achieve completion so yesterday we went to visit a small, cramped, severely overstocked haberdashery cum fabric store.   Buttons aplenty there and so cheap.   Some were even priced in pounds shillings and pence but New Zealand went decimal in July 1967 so these were definitely old stock.   I was intrigued at the number of sequinned decoration pieces with which the walls were "papered"; you can see them at the back in this quick snapshot taken on my phone.
I will definitely be going back there to rummage through the fabrics as I can see cheap summer dresses from among the cotton lawn, viscose and sateen he had in stock.
Well that has been our weekend here - apart form the usual chores and a fair amount of time spent on my new toy, time waster, iPad!  Hope you all have a great week.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

July Christmas Ornament and two "Seed Pockets"

"Tis the time for the July Christmas Ornament for the 2013 Ornament SAL and the promised great reveal!

The HD3QBEM kept telling me that my blogging friends would love this one but sorry folks - this one is a keeper for my own tree.   The pattern is a freebie from The Stitch Specialists group and was fun to stitch.  I used a scrap of 28 count linen, DMC floss and some Kreinik braid from stash with a sprinkling of beads where necessary. I had been given a pair of tiny earrings - one scissors and one a coat hanger, so I snipped the back spike off the earring and used the 'scissors' on this.  Perfect!
Tonight the seed pockets had a press and at the weekend I hope to buy the seed packets and off they will go to their new homes. 
The rabbit in the garden will go to an Aunt and Uncle whose house was badly damaged three years ago in the Christchurch Earthquake.   Only now are they getting it rebuilt/repaired and life is really stressful for them so this is by way of a pick-me-up.    Why the rabbit?   That Aunt loves rabbits and has had pet rabbits so I'm hoping this will hit the spot.
The house is going to a niece and her husband who have just moved into their first home.   I guess they will be needing some flowers in their garden?  
Both these designs are from Brooke's Books "Brides Tree" series.   I had visions of stitching all twelve but came to my senses at these two and found a home for the charts, so removing temptation!