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

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

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

Sunday, 30 June 2013

I'm getting bad at this!!

Sorry folks - I've been really un-motivated to update this blog! When I look back I can't believe how long it's been - a whole month!!

And I've got no real excuse other than the fact that I just didn't feel like it!

Most of my spare time has been spent trying to put some kind of order into my e-book collection via a program called calibre where I store all my books. When I imported the file into my new laptop somehow it found that it was corrupted! Luckily I had a back-up file of the original downloads, but of course when I imported it, all of the changes I had made - I had to do again!!! ARGH!!!

On to stitching now. I spent some time out in the garden while the sun's been shining. I've mainly been working on my cheetah. This was how I left it last time you saw my progress -

And this is where I am at the end of the month - 

Pretty good huh?? (Sorry about the funny colour on these photos, but doing these in artificial light!)

My Joan Elliott diary piece is coming along. I've finished 5 months pictures now, and made a fair start on my sixth. I'm working in a kind of reverse order to everyone, so my latest start is the March piece! In case you can't tell what it is I've included the original so you can see what it's supposed to be!

And then this was the 5 months completed just before I started March! I'm still not sure how I'm going to finish off the entire project. Have to get my thinking cap on for that. 

Been doing a bit out in the garden again - I just wish that there was a permanent cure for Bindweed! We can send a rocket to Mars, and a man to the moon but I can't get rid of BINDWEED! ARGH!! Still here are a couple of photos of the bits I HAVE tidied! My beautiful paeony has excelled itself with blooms this year. And my water feature and little wizard are mounting guard.

We're off next week on a holiday to "our" holiday home in Austria - the apartment which we have been to 7 times before. Leaving home and driving down, through Germany. taking our time as usual, and arriving back after a couple of weeks. Sewing's packed -now I'd better decide what else to take!!

See you all later
Take Care

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Missing In Action!

Evening All!
Sorry it's been quite a while since I posted but things happened which sort of took over the last few weeks!

My previous laptop, which I've had since 2007 was running Windows Vista. I know it had lots of programs on it as I use it for all my craft - papercraft (Serif DrawPlus and Craft Artist); Cross stitch designing (Ursa Software's Winstitch); photo manipulation (Photoshop Elements and Microsoft Digital Image) as well as my Calibre e-book library. But recently, no matter what I tried it was getting slower than ever and it kept dropping the Internet connection. So I had to bite the bullet and decide if I was going to spend time trying to sort it out, or go look for a new machine.

I decided that a new one would be a better bet! And it's PINK!!

So I've been super busy - learning Windows 8 and trying to recover all my files and transfer them to an external hard drive, so that I only have to load the minimum amount onto the new. It's taking me hours!! Almost done, but I decided to let you all into what was happening!

On the stitching front it's likewise been quite quiet - by the time I've spent hours looking at a screen I'm in no fit state to look at cross stitch! But I've put a few stitches into my cheetah - I can see the beginning of an ear now, so it might be a bit easier to see where I am stitching.

Also I made a fair start on the July mermaid from the Joan Elliott diary stitchalong -

Our weather hasn't been too wonderful lately. So I haven't been able to get out much and tidy up the garden. But the last few days of sun which followed a few wetter days has been ideal. I spent the last 2 afternoons out tidying our front garden. I have to make a few changes to the plants I've decided. I had a large lavender bush which actually BLEW OVER in the wind, splitting the stems, so it was dying. I still have to get the roots up, but I'm replacing that with a soft yellow rose. Then I want to dig up the bergenias. They look lovely in flower, but they rot from the underneath (and house loads of slugs in the damp weather!) So I have to decide what goes there instead. I think a trip to B&Q is in order next Wednesday (when they have their over 60's discounts).

Well must go, got to load the dishwasher and settle down on the sofa.
Till next time

Sunday, 5 May 2013

May Bank Holiday

Well, I don't know about where YOU are, but here it's been a bit of a mixed weekend so far. Friday we had brilliant sunshine; Saturday we had cooler weather with both a thunderstorm and a hailstorm(!); Sunday has been a much better day - wall-to-wall sunshine. I wonder what tomorrow will actually bring for the Bank Holiday?

We had a pretty hectic week just gone. On Monday we had a service visit for our gas boiler. It was firing up our heating, even though the boiler was switched to hot water only (!). That was fixed, but we needed a new part, which had to be ordered, delivery on Friday.
Tuesday we had the car booked in for its' annual service and MOT (a certificate of road-worthiness which all cars over 3 years old have to have in UK). Apart from having to get one new tyre it passed, but when they tried to adjust the tracking having put on the new tyre, they couldn't move the bolt which held it in place. We waited all day for it to be done, but by the time they tried to do this it was too late to complete because they were worried that the rod would snap under pressure!
So we had to take it back on Wednesday for them to order a new track rod and fit it. We then spent the day shopping! Our daughter rang us later that day to ask if we were able to visit the next day so...
On Thursday we drove to see her and our grand-daughter. Our daughter had what we hoped would be her final check-up with he consultant about her knee operation. So we drove them over to the hospital, and entertained Jessica while her mum was seen - and was signed off by the consultant. She still has to go to physio, but he has declared himself happy with her progress. She's been taking Jessica out on a trailer attached to her bike, Jess seems to enjoy it, and it's added weight and resistance for exercising her knee.
 Getting kitted up....
And off they go...

We went back to theirs for a couple of hours before heading home. I'd made her another dress which we took along - it was made with fabric I'd bought in Hawaii!
Then on Friday we had the gas engineer revisiting to fit the part to the boiler as well as a plumber to fit a new siphon unit to our toilet. We'd been having to pump the handle to get it to flush, and my right arm was beginning to complain about all the extra work it was doing - it was like an old-fashioned water pump!

After all that exertion for the week I've been spending a fair bit of time on Pinterest (I finally gave in and joined!) My page is here if you'd like to take a look. Decided that it makes sense for me to use it for all those  pictures which you attempt to download and keep track of ideas!

My shrug is nearly complete - I'll save a photo of that for next time. I finally chose my pattern from which I was going to get with the voucher I won from Ruth's blog As you may know (if you've been following me for a while) we love the atmosphere of German Christmas Markets. Over the years we've bought a few Nutcracker ornaments for Christmas, so (cue fanfare.....) I bought.....

And I've started to pick up my cheetah again -
 Here's where I left it...

 And here's after today's mini stitchalong.

I'm beginning to see the pattern of the fur emerging, so that's making it a bit easier to follow. But it's still hard going, and I can only stitch 2 or 3 lengths of thread before I have to get up and do something else instead. 

Better go now - got to settle myself on the sofa ready to watch Hawaii Five-0 and vicariously enjoy the stunning scenery (and the sight of Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett!!). 

Til next time - have fun

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Beautiful day!

Today has been the first day this Spring, when I've felt it was warm enough to get out into the garden and do some long-needed tidying. I've managed to fill 3 garden rubbish bags, and nearly 2 of those are full of dead leaves from my Cordeline which sits on one side. I also pulled up the clematis which dies back every year (didn't know that when I bought it), and after 4 years it only reached 4 foot high last year. So I decided that I will replace it - this time I'm trying a passion flower. I also cut down my vine last year which was lovely, but made so much mess if you left the grapes too long. Two years ago we were away when the starlings descended en masse and stripped it bare of grapes in a week! It was like a scene from Hitchcock's "The Birds"!
Once I have managed to get all the way round I'll post an update picture of both my front and back gardens. Neither of them are large, but as I am the only one who goes out there to tidy, it's plenty big enough for me to manage normally. We had a local celebrity gardener (Sven Wombwell) design and build them both for us, so I REALLY have to keep them looking good!

What else have I been up to?

My sewing machine got a bit of a run-out last week as I sat down and made a few things for Jess. We were going to see them last Tuesday, and I'd promised my DD that I'd make her a couple of things. Here's what I came up with -
 An apron with elastic in the top and hook and loop fastening so she can do it up herself.

 Summer dress - with a few rows of machine embroidery around the skirt to brighten it up

 Tunic top. I wish I'd had more of this fabric - I got a fat quarter at a show last year, and it was the last one. It's full of references to "Grandma"! This tunic crosses over at the back, so does away with the need for fastenings. I think I'll make this again as it was a fairy easy make and looks quite sweet.

Cross stitch has been progressing, although not as fast as I wanted it to. I'm finally getting round to the backstitch, so as it's close to being finished I'll wait and show it completed next time.

My knitting - THAT cable shrug is slowly progressing. I'm back to about halfway down the second sleeve, so probably where I was when I had to rip it all back two months ago! So FINALLY I feel like it's progressing again. I tend to knit this in the evening while I'm watching tv, so I do about an hour or so each night - if I can stay awake long enough that is!!

I heard from Ruth that she's organised my $10 credit with, so watch this space when I reveal next time what I'm going to get!! 

Until next time
take care

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

I'm a winner!!

After posting about Ruth's giveaway in my last post, I was astounded today to discover I'm a winner of the $10 card for 123 stitch! So I'll have to head on over and see which pattern/kit comes to the top of my wish-list!

I've been slowly grinding away at my November stitch from the Joan Elliott diary stitchalong. Here's today's photo.

I've been stitching a bit more today, and have finished the 2 fairies at the bottom, Apart from a few butterflies and a lot of leaves (!) this ones nearly ready for the backstitch, then I'm going to move on to ???? Not sure. As I'm half a month ahead - I've done four months' pictures now - I might put a bit of solid work onto my cheetah. I think it must be feeling neglected as I've put in barely more than 2 lengths of thread since the beginning of the year! So watch out for progress on that one I think. 

Take care and keep smiling no matter what the weather does - I'm cold and fed up of winter now - can someone please turn up the thermostat!!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Heads up on a giveaway

Ruth's Little Leprechauns is having a giveaway for her birthday. Pop over and have a look at what she's offering - and add your name to her comments!

It seems too cold for Easter here - normally I'd be hoping to get out and do some tidying in the garden, but there's still snow on the ground - not as much as in some places I know, but the grounds so hard!

Maybe by the end of the Easter break ??

You can but hope eh?

Happy easter everyone

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Easter and birth samplers

I was catching up on some blog-reading today and on Jo's blog she was talking about birth samplers she has completed. So here goes with some of mine. (WARNING - picture heavy post!) And I'm sorry about the quality of some of these photos - they are rather old!! And some have been scanned in from original prints as I no longer have access to them all!

 Obviously first has to be my own daughter's sampler. It was after all the one that started me on my cross stitch journey. Stitched on linen, with one strand of thread, patterns gathered from various sources to my own design. 
This was the next one I stitched - for friends of my husband. 

These next two were stitched for a friend's first two grand-children. The first is "Bluebirds for baby" and the second is from a book of Mother goose designs. 

Now this one started a whole series which I designed myself from a variety of images. I worked in a large library, and when one of the staff became pregnant I thought it would be a lovely idea to design a birth sampler for her. Several other colleagues volunteered to stitch out a motif, so it became a kind of round robin! When all the main motifs were done I took it round most of the rest of the staff, inviting them (or twisting their arms!) to put a couple of stitches in - even caretakers had a go! Then as a finishing touch I put everyone's names around the sides.
This one design spawned more and more - not just birth samplers but wedding ones too for other colleagues. I continued doing these until I retired. (More of them perhaps in another post!)

Friends too had their babies - 

and of course my own dear Jessica came along - my grand-daughter who is now approaching her third birthday - 

At Easter time we seem to hear of more babies being expected. But at the moment it's all quiet on that front as far as I can see. Hopefully I'll get some more of my own work done before I need to start searching out baby patterns again. But if anyone has heard of a new arrival recently, I pass along CONGRATULATIONS!

Until next time when I'll try to fit in some photos of what I've been up to recently!!