Thursday, 16 March 2017

Seasonal stitches

Hello there!
Well here we are on another windy, rainy March morning and before I go back to the sewing room I thought I would share a few recent projects with you. None of these are from The List, but are (mostly) part of the bigger project of making seasonal decorations. My aim is to have a table runner & wall hanging for the kitchen and cross stitched smalls for the front room for each month of the year, so after finishing the January Snowman I went looking for wall hanging ideas for February. I found a beautiful free pattern available on the Janome site here and started pulling fabrics. The project finished a bit bigger than I wanted so when I printed the pattern out I only enlarged it by 200% instead of 225%. It was only later that I joined the dots and realised I had made life harder for myself - by making all the pieces smaller all those beautiful flowing curves were smaller and tighter and how on earth was I going to applique them without ruining those tapered points???? So I played with settings on my new sewing machine (did I mention it has A Lot?!!!) and practised and looked at projects online and worried some more and practised some more... In the end I decided I needed to do some of the bits I felt I could tackle so I made a start satin stitching the hearts. Then I blanket stitched the flowers and then the swirls inside the hearts. Finally I decided to use the raw edge applique technique for all the remaining pieces. I am not a fan of the messy, frayed look that often results from just straight stitching round a shape but as this will never go near the washing machine I am hoping it won't fray much and I had to get this done before it got put aside & became a UFO... Once the applique was all finished and the borders were on I decided to try echo quilting rather than free motioning round the shapes. This technique had seemed way beyond me when using the walking foot on my old machine, I don't know if it was because it was a cheaper generic foot or because it was an old machine but it didn't walk so much as jumped like a grasshopper and it was kinda nerve racking to use! The first time I put the walking foot on my new machine - wow!!! It walks like an old man with a zimmer frame! Very unthreatening and for me it opened up a whole host of possibilities for trying quilting ideas I'd seen but discounted in the past. Anyways... echo quilting... how did I get on?? I love it!!!! :-) I actually enjoyed the quilting process on a project for the first time!! I added some jewel like heart shaped buttons for the flower centers and am really happy with the result :-)



I did vow to have a break from applique projects after I finished this but then I fell fast and hard for a project in the current Quiltmaker magazine which I discovered in WHSmiths on Wednesday so last week this started happening...


I have also been fitting in some cross stitch (head is behaving much better thank you :-)) and completed the last in the set of 2004 Cross Stitcher's Surprise Series from Rainbow Gallery. Stitched on 14 count cream aida with DMC colors and finished with button, fabric, & ribbon from my stash...


Next on the cross stitch list is a restitching job. Some of you may remember the three little bunny pillows I stitched way back here? Three years ago now! They have become known round here as the "vanishing bunnies" because as soon as you back away from them they disappear (!) and each spring I take them out and think "oh I really must do something about these!!". Well this year I decided they weren't going up until they were sorted so I unpicked and unstuffed the wee pillow & then unpicked the bunny and the flowers around him. I chose much stronger solid colors to restitch him and voila!


He vanishes no longer!!! I am working on the other two now...
There has also been some knitting going on because the day after I finished the Hermione scarf Hubbie and I took a day trip which just happened to involve a visit to Nairn Wool Shop. This is about 30 miles from us so I don't go that often but I just love it when I do! She has a great selection & very friendly staff and I was only going with the intent to squish some yarn and make future plans but a ball of Stylecraft Head Over Heels jumped in my bag... It is sooooo soft and I couldn't resist the colors....


It's a beautiful pattern called Daydreamer which came in a supplement with a knitting magazine last year or you can buy it direct from the designer here. It's the first time I have tried a lace pattern on a sock but it's a nice simple one & I'm really enjoying it. I have one sock done and am working on the other one now, I don't have sock blockers so for you to see the lace pattern you have to see the sock on my foot...

 

Well I hope you are enjoying March, whether it is bringing you warmer days as Spring approaches or cooler ones as you head into Autumn. The first true daffodils are starting to bloom around here and there are buds on trees and shrubs, everything is starting to wake after it's winter slumber. Yesterday I didn't even need mittens or a scarf when we went for our walk! It is time to make a start on tidying up the garden and getting ready for a new season out there (although that might wait till tomorrow as the wind is howling down the chimney and throwing the rain against the window right now!). Wishing you a lovely week whatever you are up to :-)






Sunday, 5 March 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - February update

Hello there!
It's time for another update on the 17 ufos in 2017 project, February is such a short month isn't it?! I have also been battling bugs & migraines this month so there really wasn't a whole lot of cross stitching going on round here. Spring Fairy started the month like this...


... and has finished the month like this...


Bottom corner still to stitch then metallics to finish, backstitch (tons of!), and finally beads to go... this is staying out for another month (although I have some other stitching I need to take care of in March so we will see how much Fairy actually grows by the end of the month...)
But less stitching time in february meant more knitting time and I did manage to finish number 16 on The List - the Hermione scarf for my daughter! 


Here it is folded up on the chair waiting for her to collect it...


I am really pleased to have this one done and off the list!!! In the end I actually really enjoyed knitting it (probably a reflection on how my knitting skills have progressed in the 2 years since knitting the matching mittens for her!). Definitely breaking it up into chunks helped with the motivation & as it's knitted with DK weight yarn it is very warm & snuggly. Dear daughter certainly seemed very happy to collect it the other week :-)
Another smaller project I tackled this month was number 6 - the July table runner. Pieced last year & just needing quilted & bound it got pushed to one side by more time sensitive projects last summer. I decided to do a mix of free motion quilting & quilting other parts out with the walking foot. Here's a pic of the back so you can see the quilting easier...


I am still getting used to my new sewing machine & as the foot pedal is entirely different to my old machine it kinda feels like I'm starting over where the free motioning is concerned but I am determined I will get there!!! (My plan over the coming months is practice....practice....practice....) Here's a pic of the right side, the light has been so grey here what with all the rain this month...


The pattern is actually a Christmas one from the Winter 2014 Quilting Celebrations magazine (picture it in green & red with a white background?) and I'm hoping to do a lot more applique projects now I have my amazing fancy sewing machine! I will have to tell you all about her in a separate post sometime...
The last project off the list that I worked on in February was number 8 - the Posy layer cake quilt. Although the top was only pieced last year this quilt has been on it's way for a few years now. It all started when I fell in love with this fabric....



It's called Posy and was designed by Aneela Hooey for Moda in Spring of 2013. The little girl reading, those gorgeous little bunnies? Although (apart from the lilac) these are not my usual colors I fell fast & hard for it. That summer dear hubbie bought me a layer cake of it and in Spring of 2014 we shopped for co-ordinating fabrics at the Edinburgh Quilt Show and during our holiday in the Lake District. At that point I thought I had a quilt pattern picked out for it but actually getting started was way down the list. Fast forward two years (!) and the March/April 2016 McCall's Quilting plopped onto my doormat & I saw this Field of Stars pattern. To be honest the fabrics it's made in really aren't my cup of tea but the pattern behind? Oh yes!!! Best of all it uses 9 1/2" squares between the Ohio Stars which makes it perfect for a layer cakes' 10" squares. Also it was an easy pattern to adapt to get the size of quilt I was looking for. It was pretty quick to piece & I started in on the quilting. I used my walking foot to run diagonal lines through all the Star blocks like this...


Then I free motioned out the layer square squares and stitched in the ditch round both sides of the inner border. Then some more free motioning in the outer border...


I added the binding so it was a little more sturdy for man handling while I did some hand quilting round the stars. I picked 2 colors (pink & lilac) of perle cotton & started big stitch quilting... and then we got warm weather (well it was July!) & it was so hot sitting under this big quilt!!! Into the bag and away it went. February has been many things but hot is not one of them (!) and a little bit of hand stitching snuggled underneath a quilt seemed pretty appealing...


Gradually star by star, row by row, until one night it was finished!!!! At 84" square it is pretty much the biggest thing I can fit on the floor of my sewing room without having to start moving furniture out...


...and about 5 minutes after this pic was taken it jumped right on our bed & has been there ever since! I am SO HAPPY to have it there!!! (I am also really lucky to have a hubbie who doesn't mind sleeping under such a pink, girlie quilt!)
So two months in I have finished 7 projects off the list & 2 more projects have seen progress, I'm so glad I decided to commit to this! I'm off to see what other bloggers have finished off their lists this month at the linky page, have a great week folks!










Friday, 17 February 2017

New Starts

Hello there!
I hope your week is going well? February is speeding along and when we are out and about we are seeing lots of little green shoots heralding the approach of Spring. Although I am itching to start lots of new projects I am making a concerted effort to Be Good and for the most part am sticking to working on projects from The UFO List but there have been a few new starts which have snuck in there too. The first one is my finished New Year's Day New Start for 2017. A little kit by Mill Hill designed by Jim Shore called Snowy Owl Snowman (I also have the Evergreen Snowman kit upstairs waiting for me) he is about half and half cross stitch and beads and very sparkly as a result!



Beads in eleven different colors and two different sizes were inside the kit along with two different needles & there is no way I would've been able to get those petite seed beads on there without that thin-as-a-hair beading needle! Yes, the beads were pretty time consuming, but I am very pleased with the end result & he fitted in perfectly at the end of my January shelf...


I also couldn't resist stitching the little Bebunni free kit that came with The World of Cross Stitching magazine issue 251...


Isn't he a cutie?!! He came with a mount to make him into a card but I decided to make him into a little pillow instead...


...and he is currently sitting happily on my February shelf...


The last new start is somewhat bigger and more of a long term project. Last summer my daughter asked if I could make her a new crochet blanket to fit the bigger bed in her new accommodation. We started looking through patterns and finally settled on the Lacy Flower Granny Square pattern (which is available for free here). Then we needed to pick a color scheme. As she lives over a hundred miles away I decided it would be easier to use Pinterest, picking pins I thought she would like & sending them to her. Have you ever used Pinterest to search for color schemes? WOW! There are SO MANY GORGEOUS combinations out there!!! So much inspiration!! :-) In the end my daughter picked this one...


So I got out my yarn pegs and came up with this...


We wanted seven colors for squares in this blanket so on a recent visit home she added in Clematis from the Stylecraft Special DK range - full details on all the colors she picked are listed on my Ravelry project page here. It's been a while since I crocheted anything beyond basic squares & I had wondered how much concentration these pretty squares would take. Happily I have found the pattern is well written with lots of photos & I have most of it memorized now & am enjoying working these up. I don't know exactly how many I will need as I have a few ideas floating around in my head but I will need a pile of squares before I can start experimenting so for now I'm just making a bunch in all seven colors...


The colors are much nicer together in real life, but this will give you a rough idea (as usual my camera is refusing to represent accurately anything of a purple/lilac nature and I would rather crochet more squares than continue to fight with it!).   
Thank you for visiting me here today and a special thank you to those who take the time to leave a comment, it's lovely to hear from you! Have a great weekend whatever you are up to :-)





Friday, 3 February 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - January update

Hello there!
So here we are in February already... Time for a progress report on the 17 ufos in 2017 project. In my last post I had finished off numbers 1, 15, and 17 on The List, this month I also managed to finish number 2 - the Halloween sampler designed by the Historical Sampler Company from World of Cross stitch magazine issue 246. The stitching was completed last year except for the background stitching from four of the boxes which I left off as I had some tiny buttons in my stash which I thought would be perfect instead. So my first job was to find a small needle & sew on those 44 little stars....


... then add the fabric borders & a hanging sleeve & it's all ready for hanging in October... 


I have also been working on number 16 from the list, Hermione's scarf, some of you may remember way back here when my daughter got the mittens? Well she has been very patiently waiting for the matching scarf but now there is a distinct possibility that it might be ready for her next time she's home for a visit! This is where I had left it, half way up the first pattern repeat... 


When I took it back out I decided to break this down into smaller chunks because, much as I love Fair Isle, the thought of eight pattern repeats (which should work out around 72") seemed like a HUGE NeVeR EnDiNG slog! But if I can do half a pattern repeat in a sitting then it's just fifteen sessions which seems much more doable...At the end of the month I don't have a photo for you but I do have two and a half pattern repeats done & will continue working on this through February.
But the biggest UFO I have been working on through January is number 13 from the list - the Santa stocking for Little H. It had been left where there are lots of fractionals to be worked on the 14 count navy aida - not my favorite! - and Santa was looking rather demonic...


Oh my gosh how I would really like to get this finished this year!!!! (I would also like to stitch a stocking for his smaller brother but I might be dreaming on that one ;-)) In an effort to get them done I have decided to try something different & work a rotation system with my big stitchy UFO's this year so each will come out for three weeks. Santa's three weeks are now up so I will come back to this later in the year for another three week block once I have worked on each of these bigger UFO's. So for this month I have "substantial progress" to share on number 13... 

video


Apart from the backstitch the top two pages are finished but most of the bottom two pages are left to do. The next big stitchy ufo on the rotation is number 9, Spring fairy, currently looking like this...


Still a long way to go! So I will be working on this & the scarf & maybe one or two other things over the next few weeks. Thank you for visiting me here today & please remember you can also go here  and here to visit the other bloggers taking part in 17 ufos in 2017- there are a huge variety of lovely projects getting finished out there!! 



Tuesday, 17 January 2017

And she lasted eight days!!!!

Hello there!
This is why I don't generally make New Year's resolutions - I don't stick to them!! I had all good intentions of not starting anything new under any circumstances for ages... of making a really big dent in that ufo list first.... and yup - I lasted eight whole days!!!!
I was being very good... I finished a WIP the morning of my last post..

January wall hanging for the kitchen wall, the applique section of a pattern by Kim Christopherson from Quilts and More magazine Winter 2014 issue. 
This was the first project using machine blanket stitch & free motion quilting on my new sewing machine - oh I am sooooo in love with her (but that is an entirely different blog post!) and whilst it is not perfect I am pretty happy with the results...  

Then rather unexpectedly I finished number 17 on my list on Tuesday...

This is my Giant Little Squares of Happiness blanket, a big version for us to keep of the Little Squares of Happy blanket I made for baby C back here. It has finished up at 53" x 79" so it is slightly smaller than my Giant Granny Stripe blanket of 2013, but still plenty big enough for several of us to snuggle under on the couch :-) I used slightly different colors in the border than for the baby blanket but the same method, you can find the tutorial for the spotty edging at the top of the page under the tutorials tab. 

On Friday I finished off number 1 on my list - Snowflower Diaries February ducks...

All the cross stitching for this was finished last Easter but it got put aside to start time sensitive projects... that seems to be something that happens pretty often round here... anyways it is finished now & will be ready to go out with my February smalls in a few weeks time. The free chart is available here  as part of Maja's Joyful World SAL - her designs are so beautiful! I stitched it on 28 count evenweave I dyed with tea & coffee using the DMC equivalent threads & finished it with polka dot fabric, lace trim, bows, & a button from my stash.

Then yesterday I finished number 15 on my list - the Rainbow Stripe socks...

With not too much effort I have managed to get the two of them almost identical...
So I am satisfied with that! The pattern is Vanilla Latte Socks available here for free & I knitted them with West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in colorway Rum Paradise. I am totally in love with this colorway & have enough left over for another sock so I see another ball of this in my near future! :-)
Four finishes in eight days? Go me!!! :-) I definitely had a bad itch to start something new but I also had a bit of a problem... (Now here come the  excuses  reasoning...) 
For most of us I think crafting has to fit around life; some days I can spend upstairs in the sewing room, some nights I need a project for sitting in front of the tv, sometimes life says "today you're sitting in the car for 8 hours" so I need something to keep me sane in that situation! Also there are two types of  "sitting in front of the tv" projects - ones I can happily work on & mainly listen to various programs, and projects that I can work on mainly by touch while really watching something. Looking down my list last night I realised I didn't have anything left on there that fitted into that last category. I had thought the blanket or the socks would take me longer to finish and I needed something to replace them. I tried working the tension square for a pair of fair isle gloves & then realised I was missing the program & anyways there is a fair isle project at number 16 on my list if I feel the need to struggle with that in front of the tv... Upstairs I have had this gorgeous yarn for almost a year waiting to become a jumper - so despite the voices yelling "you can't start a big project like that!" that is exactly what ended up happening...


I am calling it my Autumn in a Ball jumper, the yarn is James C Brett Marble Chunky in the imaginatively named colorway MC07 ;-) I'm knitting it in the round from the bottom up following this pattern but omitting all the colorwork which means that I am just going round and round in knit stitch right up to the armholes. Once I silenced those objecting voices and settled into those endless rounds it felt so perfect :-) happy place reached :-) Now this is just a wobble, I am going to be good and only pick this up when I'm watching tv & go back to that list the rest of the time... watch this space ;-)

  


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Sunday, 8 January 2017

17 UFO's in 2017

Hello There!
It's been a while huh?! I'm going to give this bloggy thing another try, I know a lot of folks have given up blogging in favor of Instagram & such like & maybe there's noone really reading posts anymore but if you're still out there please drop by & say "hi!" :-)
I've been reading a few blogs recently & came across an idea which really resonated with me - 17 ufo's in 2017 . You can read all the details here but basically I have been trying to tackle some of my UFO's over the last wee while & as this new year starts I have 17 of them (!) left so this seemed made to measure for me! I'm going to join in with this & try & link up each month (although I really don't know if I'm doing the techy bit right??) anyways here's my list:
1) Snowflower diaries February ducks - cross stitched small from last year, stitching done, needs finishing off
2) Halloween sampler - cross stitch finished last year, needs finishing off
3) Little knitted hedgehog - knitted 2 (or was it 3?) years ago, needs put together
4) Yoyo pumpkin - yoyo's made, all parts cut out, needs sewn together
5) Sugar Plum fairy -  knitted 2 (I think?) years ago needs assembled
6) July table runner - pieced last year, needs quilted & bound
7) Lion for little C - partially made amigurumi started last summer
8) Posy layer cake quilt - pieced last year, hand quilting to finish
9) Spring fairy cross stitch - started 2014
10) Crochet bag - squares made April 2015
11) Popcorn bear cross stitch - started October 2013
12) The wave cross stitch - started June 2011 (my oldest UFO)
13) Stocking for little H - started for his first Christmas, he will be 5 in May!
14) Black cross stitch Christmas decorations - set of four started October 2012, one completely finished, another one and a bit now stitched
15) Rainbow stripe socks - started in October last year
16) Hermione scarf for dear daughter - the other part of the set to go with the mittens she got in 2015
17) Giant little squares of happiness blanket - started January 2015, now finally on the border!!

These are not in any order whatsoever as I haven't really set on an order to tackle them in, I've picked a few to work on first and these are number 13, number 17, and number 1. I am allowing myself three weeks per project (51 weeks of 2017 left divided by 17 =3) and where the bigger ones won't be finished in that 3 weeks I will then move on to something else on the list & count that as "substantial progress". I may come back to them later in the year, I'm not making any promises at this stage! Some of them are going to be much quicker to complete (I can see four straight off which should really only take a day if I just get on with it!!!) which will give me some extra time in theory... hahaha! Well we will see how that works out! I will report back at the end of the month with my progress at which point I hope to have before and after pics for you too...
Well I'm off to see if I can work out this linky thing and how to add the button to my blog too... Wishing you a lovely start to 2017!
Helen

Thursday, 10 December 2015

A little break...

Hello there!
Sorry it has been so quiet around here in recent months, as many of you know I have a couple of health issues & since the summer I have had to find a new way of dealing with my chronic migraine. On my better days I have still been making things which I would love to share with you! Sitting in front of a screen writing blog posts is just not possible right now but I have taken to posting project pics from my phone on the Stitchydragon Creates facebook page. I would love if you joined me there by clicking either on the facebook badge on the right hand side of this page or by following this. Look forward to seeing you on the other side!