home again

Home again yesterday after three weeks of voluntary maid service to Big Sis following her extremely successful hip replacement operation, and this morning it was strange not to have Jasper greet me with much tail wagging. This was him before he had his coat clipped a few days after I arrived and he seems to be saying “Haircut? What haircut? No-one mentioned a haircut. Is it open to negotiation?”. It wasn’t and he was duly coiffed into a slightly neater version of what he looks like here, but his coat seems to grow so quickly there’s already talk of another trim this weekend.

Sadly, my camera repair is going to cost half as much again as the repair shop assistant suggested it was worth spending on the repair and as I’ve had it six years and camera technology has advanced a little more, I’m looking for a replacement instead. I’ll have to make do with my phone camera for the time being. I just wish I could retain all the phone techy camera stuff I learn from time to time and not have to refer to the internet for refresher lessons each time!

Painting the Roses Red didn’t get stitched at all while I was away except on the journey north, and I haven’t taken any update photos yet. I had also taken some aida fabric and crochet cottons to try blackwork which was a new technique for me. I only had a few colour options but I quite enjoyed the process and found it easier than cross-stitch but doubt that I’ll do much more blackwork in the future. I can’t see myself ever needing a bell-pull or a tray cloth or yet another needle case which were the suggestions in one book.

journey piece

Whenever I travel to visit Big Sis I like to have some embroidery to do during the long train journey there and back and this time round I began a piece of crewel work. I had a supply of Appleton’s crewel wool, bought when it was on special offer at my local stitchy shop and I used Jane Rainbow’s book Beginner’s Guide to Crewel Embroidery for my inspiration. I had a close look at the fabric earlier and it appears to be 28 count Aida or similar and was chosen a) because it takes the wool easily and b) I just happened to have some – bought for a reason now unknown. It’s not a fabric I would naturally chose to embroider on as I don’t like to see where the warp and weft intersect when I’m stitching – it somehow upsets my stitching rhythm, and I also find that I can’t get the same degree of outline detail on it when using a single thread but it’s ideal for the fine crewel wool.

It might take a while to finish this piece. I didn’t take it out of my case during my visit or on the return journey and only stitched the green calyxes after rehooping it on Wednesday. What I should concentrate on is a half-completed kit piece begun twenty years ago by Big Sis which I coerced her into allowing me to take away on the understanding that I would actually finish it so I better get cracking!

blue flowers


cross stitch progress

A progress update and a discovery. The discovery was made when stitching more of the cross stitch piece this afternoon and it is that I can’t always seem to easily place the needle through the appropriate hole in the aida when coming up from the back.  Perhaps this is common with cross stitch but I don’t like this aspect of it! I didn’t do any cross stitch yesterday as I spent a lovely day in Oxford with my friend Moonpenny and today my feet attest to the fact that we walked and walked and walked around for hours. We kept seeing displays in shop windows about Alice in Wonderland but didn’t know why. An online search revealed that this year is the 150th anniversary of the book being written. This had nothing to do with my rendition of the Mad Hatter – I did it simply because I liked the original image and wanted something to while away a long journey with.

This morning I went to view “Bags, Bonnets and Books”, an exhibition of work by members of the Stroud branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild. I have no idea who did what as the sheets which would have told me had still not been delivered by the time I was leaving. The work was beautiful nonetheless and gave me several ideas. The exhibition runs until Friday so I might go back again for a second look!

cross stitch 2


cross stitch

I don’t get on well with cross stitch. I’ve tried it in the past and given up before finishing. I frequently lost my place in the pattern and/or my top stitches went in two different directions. Big sis doesn’t have any problems with cross stitch and when she bought Michael Powell’s cross stitch book and started on one of the designs while I was still visiting, I was tempted to have another go at a (small) cross stitch piece so I took a copy of the White Village pattern and got myself organised early yesterday with threads and 14 count aida.

Before putting needle and thread to aida, I looked through some of my needlework books and the internet for tips suitable for a leftie like me who normally prefers winging it with needle and thread, as opposed to following a set pattern but apart from nearly all of the articles advising me to ‘start in the middle’ without telling me why I should, none of them actually gave me much information that was specific to cross stitch beyond the essentials on suitable fabric, needles, and starting and finishing the stitches themselves. Maybe there isn’t any.

Big sis uses a magnetic board to which the pattern is clamped with a ‘ruler’ which you reposition on the pattern so you know where you’re at (except when Dave’s wagging tail occasionally swipes her ruler out of position) but not wishing to lay out loadsa money on accessories for something I might never do again, I used an old placemat and a length of stiff card attached by a spring clip at either side. Works so far.

Although I have completed not quite half of the design, I have kept my stitches all going in the same direction (but I really have to concentrate) and have already miscounted a couple of times and had to unstitch. I had marked the centre with tacking stitches both ways but at only 32 x 47 stitches I didn’t think it would matter too much that I didn’t actually ‘start in the middle’ and you can see that I’ve already unpicked all but a short length of tacking. I made the ‘steering wheel cover’ to keep the excess Mad Hatter fabric clean and out of the way of the needle and this time it also stops my threads catching on the rough edges of the aida fabric.

I hope that I do Mr Powell’s design justice. I didn’t have all the colours in his list so tried to match his suggested Anchor equivalents with the DMCs that I have. I love Mr P’s art work but have always baulked at the thought of turning them into cross stitch.

cross stitch