Tuesday, 20 January 2015

New Year - back again

Back again. I had a bit of a funk about writing this blog! I really couldn't see the point of sitting here, writing down what I'd been up to ... but thinking about it I'm going to continue. I shall write about what I've been creating, and where we've been.
Mind you - saying that - I should say that I won't post everything I've finished since my last post! That would take too long! I have to say I finished a few bits at the end of last year, maybe I will get round to posting them at some point - but let's start afresh and go from now.

I am currently working on a Heritage Crafts kit of Neuschwanstein Castle. I'd forgotten how they work those partial stitches they use, but luckily I'd bought the kit with evenweave fabric, so it was not too much of a pain. I'm about two thirds of the way complete, but the camera is tucked away, so I'll post a photo next time. Hopefully that will be a finish (or nearly one anyway).

Remember that Hummel piece I stitched last year?
I finally bought some fabric to finish this as a flat-fold. It will be my first attempt to finish in this way - so watch this space!

My dear friend celebrated her 80th birthday in November so I had to stitch her a special card. I loved the meerkats, but was disappointed that the glue I used showed through the fabric - luckily it almost made a pattern! But I was still upset with the finish.

This was a Joan Elliott pattern which I stitched and added to a christmas card for Jessica this year. My intention is to make another similar each year for her to hang on her tree. Now that they have moved house, they have space to put up a tree, so hopefully I can start this as a tradition for her.

I also finished this for Jess this year. I backed it with a red Christmas print and finally found a small enough hanging rod from Sew and So. (Most of them were too big). Although she is still slow in speaking, there is nothing wrong with her intelligence. And she does not yet write her name legibly. But this year she sat with her mum's Tesco Christmas catalogue and had ripped out the pages where she wanted the toys! So she could slip the pictures into the pocket at the bottom. I also printed out some A4 letter headed sheets which purported to come from Santa's desk, so that her parents could write a reply for her and put it into the pocket as a reply from Santa. 

This year we had Christmas at home alone - merely going to a friend's for a Boxing Day meal. And our New Year was quiet too - we sat at home watching Jools Holland on the television. 

The weather here has been very cold, but so far we have not seen any snow this far south and east. I hope we don't get any either! Tomorrow I have to go for a mammogram and have already decided to go to town on a bus so even with a heavy frost I should be okay for that. Then I have to start looking around for some summer wear - my t-shirts are looking a bit sad! We are off to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary in February in Egypt. We are going with a friend to a hotel in Hurghada and a Nile cruise tagged onto it. At least it should be a fair bit warmer than here!

Right - enough of the computer - time to get the bins ready for collection tomorrow - then make dinner and settle down for a night in front of the television with some knitting. I'm making a tunic style jumper in an Aran weight yarn, so it keeps me warm while I'm making it! The front is almost finished, so I hope to cast on for the back tonight.

Take care
Sandie

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Full of cold

Glad that cold germs can't come through the laptop! I know they have PC viruses, but hopefully cold germs don't count!

I know why I'm suffering though - this time last week we were sat in temps of 36C - today it's 19C in Colchester, but it's been raining and horrid!

Where were we last week? Egypt! I got an email of last minute deals from Red Sea Holidays, and we decided to opt for a week of sun before the cold winter blues sets in!


This is the Makadi Palace - on the Red Sea coast. Most days we spent the morning on our balcony when the sun was not too hot. After a stroll down to the Sunset Bar for lunch, we spent the afternoon in the bar near one of the pools, before returning to our room to shower and change for dinner! 

While we were away, DH celebrated his birthday. As usual I had left it late to make a card for him. This year I was stumped for ideas. A week before we left I spotted an entry on Avis's blog Sewing Beside the Sea where she'd sewn a card with a ukulele on it for her daughter. I asked her for a copy of her pattern, and I set about making it look a bit like the one my DH bought in Hawaii. Here's his 2 ukes, and here's the card I finished.
 

What else have I been doing? Well I finished the Hansel to go with my Gretel angel I mentioned last time and also a Mill Hill Santa which we bought in Hawaii last time we were there.

And I promised last time that I'd also let you see the birth sampler I made for my best friends' daughter. Myles was born on August 15th and I had the image stitched, ready and waiting for the details to be added. As his bedroom was to be decorated in cool beige/browns I decided to opt for a soft image, rather than the bright colours of many birth samplers. I decided to stretch it over a canvas rather than putting it into a frame. I edged the picture with a pale blue ric rac binding to give it a finishing touch (which doesn't show up very well in the photo!). I was delighted that both parents seemed to be delighted and it's already hanging in Myles's bedroom.
 


And finally I started to stitch the Advent animals free designs from Brooke Nolan Although so far she's posted animals 1 - 7, the intention is for the series to be completed by Christmas 2015, so even I should be able to complete that deadline! Once I have a few done I'll post in the next blog post perhaps.

In the meantime my daughter and her husband have moved house and our granddaughter's bedroom will probably have an owl theme when it's decorated. Needless to say, some of those owl patterns which have been dominant in magazines etc recently might find their way into my sewing pile! Stay tuned for the next instalment to see which make their way to the top of the pile.

'Til then take care - (and stay free of colds!)
Sandie

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Remember me?

Hi everyone!
Yes, I'm still here, struggling on with daily life. Those health issues I mentioned way back in March caught up with me, and I've spent the last few months basically doing just enough to get by with life - cooking, washing, dusting etc. Stitching and craft took a back seat for most of that time, but over the last few weeks I've felt more like my old self again, so maybe I can get back to this blogging thing again (I promise I'll try!)

There are probably all sorts of things I could catch you up with, but maybe I'll just start now, and rather than overwhelm you with photos and a long post, I'll introduce things gradually eh?

Last month we went on holiday - back to AUSTRIA - our most favourite place in Europe - staying at the Sonnenschein in Mayrhofen. We took a friend with us who lost her husband a couple of years ago, and he had always wanted to revisit Austria, so his widow really enjoyed being there. The apartment house was able to let us have 2 small separate apartments, so we were not living on top of each other 24/7. We all came back fully refreshed and ready for life - and none of us had put on weight in spite of indulging in beers, hot chocolate with cream topping and cream cakes! (And that's always a bonus!)

While we were there I stitched my first item on perforated paper. It's designed by Brooke Nolan and is her Gretel the Gingerbread angel.
 Sorry about the quality of the photo! 

I also stitched this piece - the design actually had the Swiss flag on it, but I changed it for the Austrian one!

Now I'm working on a Hummel piece, but as it's a gift I won't add it here as who knows - the recipient might be reading this!!

My best friend's daughter is expecting her second baby in about 2 weeks, and I have a small sampler ready to add the baby's details on as soon as I hear. So next time I can probably include that one.

Next time I'll drop in a few photos of cards I've made with my new ScanNCut machine - so far I haven't tried it out with fabric, but I'll post some of the cards I've done.
Until then
take care
Sandie

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Always look on the bright side......

Hi friends! It's been a while I know - but I'm finally back!

Excuses aside, I just haven't been in a good place to post recently - my mind has been elsewhere, but hopefully I'm back now and will try to post more regularly. I've had a few health issues lately, and have discovered that the older you get, the more pills you seem to have to take! Luckily as an OAP I can claim free prescriptions!

What's been going on stitchy wise? I decided that I needed a break from large pieces at the moment. My stitching mojo took a walk somewhere and didn't reappear for a while, so I took some time for other crafts. I finished off those hearts I had completed in December. Here they are with my new candle bridge which we bought this year. (Along with that new tree!)

I finished knitting the pieces for my cardigan - it's all sewn up and awaiting the buttonband to be knitted so I may get it done in time for the final arrival of Spring. I altered a few bits from my wardrobe which had been lamenting in my sewing pile for months. Nothing really worth photographing here though.

In Britain, we have had some severe weather over the first few months of the year. Luckily in the East of England, we did not have the terrific downpours of the West of England and Wales, or even just west of London, where some communities were up to their waists in water, and even entire villages had to be evacuated. However we did have some strong winds and on two separate occasions we had to have fence panels replaced in our garden. On the second occasion we even replaced those which had not been damaged, so now we have completely new fencing on both sides. I would take photos but at the moment it's a bit of a mess out there as I didn't get round to finishing my autumn tidy-up, so when I finally manage to get out there again I'll post some new photos.

As we celebrated our 39th anniversary this year, we took ourselves off on another Hawaiian cruise - the same one that we have done before, although this year it was on a different ship - the Star Princess from Princess Cruises. Nothing like a spot of sunshine to refresh the soul - and the body eh? While away I finished 2 cross stitch pieces - a free Shamrock design from Brooke's Books - scroll down past the alphabet to get the pattern for this. It's actually stitched in a dark purple rayon thread, so it shimmers a bit when you see it.

And the other piece I stitched from a colouring book page. I hope to make this the centre panel of a wall hanging for my GD Jessica. Last year while we were away I bought her an alphabet wall hanging from Hawaii. So I'm thinking that I should try to make a number one to complement it. I was thinking 1 airplane; 2 suitcases; 3 swimsuits etc to tie in with the holiday theme of this piece. Jessica loves anything with Hello Kitty on it, so I should be on to a winner here!


Just before we left on holiday, I noticed that Brother had released a new cutting machine which also operated as a scanner. In the UK the only distributor is Create and Craft, so after we came home I treated myself to a complete set-up. Here is the page to see what I'm talking about if you have missed the hype about it all. The machine arrived last Friday afternoon, and I've been spending a bit of time getting to grips with it. Like all new technology, it has a learning curve, but I can see it being so useful in all areas of my craft. It will be very useful for cutting all those appliqué pieces for Jessica's number quilt! I foresee more on this little beauty in the months to come! 

Well, if you have stuck with me so far, I'll wish you all a good afternoon. I need to get the dinner on, and then I can settle down to try and sort out that buttonband on my new cardigan while I watch Hawaii Five-0 tonight on Sky One. (We did drive past their studio in Honolulu but didn't have time to stop and see if they were filming!)

Until next time
Take care
Sandie

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Nearly Christmas - another year gone!

Hi all
I've been hunkered down, trying to finish my Joan Elliott diary piece, which might help to explain why I've been missing my blog lately. And I've had a few minor ornament finishes too.
Joan Elliott diary 2013 (World of Cross Stitch freebie) - started Jan 2013 - finished Dec 17th 2013.
I posted a picture of the finished piece on the Facebook group page - and even received a message from Joan herself, "I am smiling. This piece looks fabulous Sandie". Praise from the designer herself! Thinking I shall make it into a wall hanging, but I'm taking the time to look for the right fabric to use, so it might be a while before I can actually say completed.
I managed to finish 3 small heart pieces, which I'm going to sew into decorations. 
I have some fabric which I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show, which would be great for this, so I'm going to find a few minutes tomorrow to get them done.
I also bought some cotton yarn at the same show, and have decided that I am going to make a short-sleeved cardigan ready for next spring. I have completed the back (obviously this photo was taken a while ago!). I've taken to knitting during the evenings as the winter nights are so bad for stitching. I have a daylight bulb fitted into a lamp which I use for my sewing machine, but unless I carry it up and down stairs every night I'm stuck for a proper light. Maybe if Santa doesn't bring one, I can wait for the January sales?

We went out to town yesterday, looking for a replacement Christmas tree and a new candle bridge. Our old tree was really too large for the space we normally put it, so this year DH and I decided to look around. We decided that we really liked a minimalist look - so we ended up with an LED "cherry blossom tree". 
We put it up, but haven't yet tidied up around the bottom of the tree, so apologies for the mess!

And to top it off my Blood Pressure has been climbing back up again. So after a trip to the doctor's today, I'm on a new regime of tablets, to be reviewed again in January. The pressures of the Christmas season don't seem to count as far as Doctor's are concerned - all he could suggest was that I don't overeat over Christmas!!!

I did manage to get my hands on the latest issue of Cross Stitch Collection. There's a beautiful Joan Elliott Winter Queen cross stitch in it, which I really want to do (perhaps for next Christmas?)
Or do I start those Nutcrackers (Mike Vickery) which I got earlier in the year? Or a kit called Tiki Tropical Collage (Janlynn) as a memory of our Hawaiian cruises? Or my European Bistro? Or do I continue just with my cheetah that's been languishing lonely in the corner for the last few months?
Decisions, decisions, decisions! Tune in again after Christmas to see what I decide to go with.

In the meantime, here's a little visitor to my back garden to wish you all a Merry Christmas or Happy Winter Holiday.
I hope everyone has a fabulous time with family or friends, and that Santa brings you lots of stash enhancing presents.

'Til January
Sandie

Monday, 21 October 2013

I'm BACK!!

Morning all!
I have to apologise to my followers - I have just not felt up to blogging recently. (Blushes as I realise the last post was in August!) And apologies that there will only be a few photos as I can't find the camera to download what I need! (Maybe next post?)

I have no excuse other than I couldn't really motivate myself to put fingers to keyboard! At least not for blogging! I still kept in touch with folks via the various Yahoo groups I belong to, but even that became a pain in the **** recently when Yahoo changed it's format for the groups, making it a real learning curve to keep up with it all. However (apart from a few minor niggles recently) it seems to have settled down, and most days I am able to do what I want or need to do.

Recently we went with some friends to their villa in Spain for 10 days. The weather in Spain was amazing for October. In fact we discovered that Spain had never had such high temperatures in October for many years. But it was relaxing to sit on the terrace, drinking the odd glass of wine, reading on my tablet or finally getting back into stitching. As we flew on RyanAir (a cheap carrier for those who don't know) we travelled with hand luggage only, so I had to find something SMALL with only a few colours of thread to pack. I chose a few christmas heart ornaments from a recent magazine.

My cheetah had to stay at home - far too bulky and too many colours, so I haven't put many stitches in there at all recently. My Joan Elliott diary piece is progressing as I had been able to put a few stitches in it while watching the tv of an evening. As a result I now have almost 9 months completed.

I did manage to complete a rush piece for our friends who took us to Spain. This weekend they celebrated their Ruby Wedding Anniversary, and as they only told us they were having a party about a month ago I had to find a pattern I could stitch fairly quickly. I found a free pattern which I had downloaded some time ago, and managed to get it completed in time to frame it and present it to them at their party. I even had time to make a special card for them too!

On one of the Yahoo groups I am on, one member had been saying earlier this year that her granddaughter will have to have major surgery next year, and other members offered to make quilt squares for Grandma to make into a quilt for her; Grandma chose the patterns she wanted us to use to ensure continuity; we all had instructions on fabric type etc; and then we all started stitching. I managed to put an individual touch to mine by adding a line of paw prints down one side of a personal message for her granddaughter, as the pattern was quite tall and narrow. 
The tacking stitches indicate the 8x8 inch square we were told to make sure we didn't exceed! Grandma has received the square and seems to be delighted with it, so I am happy to have contributed. 

I bought some cotton yarn on holiday in Austria, for 1euro a ball! So I have been busy knitting a few washcloths. Last weekend I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Alexandra Palace in London. I was a little disappointed that there seemed to be even fewer cross stitch stands this year. I was looking for a wire hanger for a christmas gift for my granddaughter, but couldn't even find one in the entire exhibition. So I have to resort to internet shopping for it - and who knows what else I might find while I'm doing that!
This has to be made up yet, but the idea is the bottom makes a pocket where Jessica can slip her letter to Santa. When I was a child many homes had open fires, and children would write their christmas letters to Santa, and then consign them to the fire where they burnt and went up the chimney to Santa's home. As more homes now have no chimney, the tradition seems to have died out. So I'm trying to make a new tradition for Jessica!

I still managed to spend a fair amount on fabric and yarns at the exhibition, coming home with 2 bags full of goodies - more of those next time. Until then - take care and keep stitching
Sandie

Friday, 2 August 2013

After the holiday!

Finally caught up with everything after our holiday in July. We took off for just over 2 weeks in Austria - at our fabulous home from home! Appartement Sonnenschein in Laubichel, near Mayrhofen is the most wonderful, restful place we can imagine going to. I'm sure that others have their favourite places - but this is somewhere we have been to 8 times already. This year we took 3 days to drive down to Austria, because both DH and I can only take being in the car for so many hours at a time (especially when you spend hours in traffic jams!)

This is the view of the house from the local cable car and this is the view from our balcony of the village of Mayrhofen - about 10 minutes walk away. (It's also a chance to show off what my new camera does - this colour popping setting allows you to chose a colour and the rest of the photo is black and white!)


Twice a day a narrow gauge steam railway passes by taking tourists (mainly) into Mayrhofen.


And I spent a lot of time, just sitting on our balcony, watching the world pass by, while stitching my Joan Elliott calendar cross stitch. When we left to go on holiday I had only 5 months completed and one more half-done; by the time we got home I had 7 months done and another one started. Here is the piece as it stands today.
Pretty good going eh?

I opened the latest issue of Cross Stitch Crazy the other day and there was a pattern for someone's first day at school in the subscriber pages. Now my dear Jessica is starting Nursery School in September, so I decided to adapt the pattern to make it into a card for her. And that's another finish! Just got to sort out a card to put it on!

When we went up there before our holiday to see them my daughter had been talking about decorating Jess's room - not in childish prints, but something which might last her for a few years. She asked for my help, and I suggested some bunting to go round the room. I got hold of a pack of charm squares in my local needlework shop and made up the bunting for her. It needed something to finish it off, so I made four padded hearts - the small ones I've put on the line of bunting, and the larger ones are to hang from the ends when her dad gets round to hanging it! 


We're going up there tomorrow, hopefully if this hot weather stays we can take a trip to the park and wear her out!

I've even made a few mini lemon cupcakes to take with us! In this heat too! Mind you I did buy a mini cupcake maker from our local Aldi store so it didn't take too much effort!

Be careful in the sun 
'Til next time
Sandie