Get Help

There is a lot written nowadays about mental health and preventing tragedies. This is not a post about that.

We cremated my brother yesterday after he killed himself.

My brother was not an easy person to be around and he alienated most of his family and friends over the years. However, most of those he had contact with over those years implored him to seek help. Nope, he said, he was OK. It’s not me that has the problem, it’s you.

Over the course of 25 years, he tried to kill himself several times. On the last attempt, he was successful. And a bomb went off in the middle of our family.

If you think everyone is out to get you – get help.

If you think nothing is working out – get help.

If you are thinking about killing yourself – get help.

If you want to kill yourself, think of the effect that will have on those who love you.

If you have tried to kill yourself – get help.

If you can’t talk to your family – get help from your friends.

If you can’t talk to your friends – get help from someone else.

Get help.

I googled “I want to kill myself” and the first item was for The Samaritans – call 116 123. The second was an NHS page which lists other organizations you can contact: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/ and coping mechanisms.

Another useful website for men especially is here: https://headsupguys.org/mens-depression/

Please. Get help.

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The Bluebell Wood

Spring has sprung in this neck of the country and this poem by Felix Denis just encapsulates the magic of a nearby wood where we enjoyed the bluebells throughout the latter half of April and the joyous beginnings of May:

2019-05-05 – Bluebells & Beeches
We walked within an ancient wood
Beside the Heart of England way
Where oak and beech and hazel stood,
Their leaves the pale shades of May.

By bole and bough, still black with rain,
The sunlight filtered where it would
Across a glowing radiant stain - 
We stood within a bluebell wood!

And stood and stood, both lost for words,
As all around the woodland rang
And echoed with the cries of birds
Who sang and sang and sang and sang ...

My mind has marked that afternoon
To hoard against life's stone and sling;
Should I go late, or I go soon,
The bluebells glow - the birds still sing.

So, on to the stitching. It was Night’s turn on the stand with her various gorgeous shades of blue. On the left was my start point for April and where I left her on Sunday is the right hand image. You can just see the dark blue tip of the angel’s wing making an entrance on the lower right hand side.

I absolutely love stitching Night, although there is a fair amount of confetti; however, the SQ Stitch programme makes it a breeze to work on.

Otherwise, it was pretty quiet in April although my willpower was tested by not buying a couple of patterns which I love, namely: The Golden Stairs by Burne-Jones (Scarlet Quince) and Sparkling Peacock Mandala from Chatelaine.de. Another time …

Whatever it is you are doing, I hope you are happy. Much love – C

Devouring Time

This month’s title comes from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19, of which the first quatraine is:

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-liv’d phœnix in her blood;

All of which paints a very colourful picture!

For a change I’m going to start with the stitching and, unsurprisingly, Watch had an outing this month. Here’s where I left you in mid-January when I got frustrated working within the bounds of the hoop:

2019-01-13

After getting used to the constraints and enjoying the even tension, I made better progress in March (albeit for only three weeks, as we had visitors). Here’s where I stopped on Sunday:

2019-03-31

Watch is now 38.7% complete with an average stitch rate of 152 an hour. Not too shabby, I think!

Back in February, we visited Tate Britain for the Edward Burne Jones exhibition. It was amazing seeing his work up close; their large size was staggering. I was quite taken with a couple of pieces, the first of which was a painting called The Golden Stairs: I thought it would be amusing to stitch and display this on our own staircase:

You can almost hear the sound of happy chatter as they are on their way to to play their music. I love the detail in it and Scarlet Quince happen to have the pattern. It’s another big piece (15 x 35″) but you need the size to have any hope of bringing out the fine detail. I shall save up for this one and make it my last pre-Raphaelite piece so I don’t turn the house into a shrine!

The other piece I loved was Pomona, a tapestry which is privately owned and hardly ever on display, although this photograph does not do it justice:

Again, it was larger than life, the stitching was beautifully wrought and the colours were so rich. This image looks faded in comparison. There were many other lovely paintings and some of the collaborations Burne-Jones did with William Morris.

On cat colony news, Ragnar went for a walkabout for six days when he was spooked by gusts of wind (prelude to a storm gusts rather than just a stiff breeze). We couldn’t get him in overnight and the following day our visitors from the US arrived (3 adults and 3 children). Even though we went out looking for him once the children had gone to bed and when they were all off exploring in the day, he did not come back until one hour and 20 minutes after they left for the airport! He was a bit thinner and had found his meow, rather than the squeaks and burps he used previously – we knew he was OK because the other cats were unconcerned and we surmised they had been looking after him while he hid in the copse near our house.

The good news is that all the cats, including Marmie and Casper, now regularly explore outside and they love sunning themselves on the patio!

Cherubs and Cats

I searched long and hard to find a lovely poem relating to the topics for today; however, they all talked about the loss of beloved pets. Here are some cat pictures to cheer you up instead:

Marmie and the boys are well integrated now and Ragnar even went outside when the weather was beautiful in mid-February. We were in the garden too, to give him confidence. Casper has only gone to an open door, as has Marmie, but Marmie shows no desire whatsoever to go outside. This is understandable as she was a feral kitten and she is happy to be indoors. Ragnar is proving an independent soul and Casper has attached himself to me: he frequently comes and sleeps next to me while I am on the computer or sewing.

2019-03-03
2019-03-03

Now, on to the stitching! I am struggling to get the images working properly in a gallery setting because they are so tall and thin so you can see the weekly pictures here. To the left is where I finished on Sunday. Behold in all their glory, the trailing cherubs!

I find that I am making better progress using the Scarlet Quince programme: there is a massive reduction on re-work as it picks up all the stitches for a particular symbol rather than me having to hunt for stitches and highlight them. The piece is 7.9% complete with 12,136 stitches sewn!

To be fair to DH, Watch will come out to play for the duration of March.

This month’s blog is short and sweet, a bit like February. Have a lovely March and see you at the beginning of April. Much stitchy love.

The Night is a Big Black Cat

The title of this month’s blog is taken from a poem by G Orr Clark:

The Night is a big black cat
The Moon is her topaz eye
The stars are the mice she hunts at night,
In the field of the sultry sky.

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

When I left you last month, I was preparing the materials for Night (With Her Train of Stars) – this took nearly a week to do and then I launched into the stitching using the SQ App from Scarlet Quince, now that I have a modern tablet to use.

Given that I am stitching this piece with the left edge at the top (as it is too wide for the frame), I open up the app in portrait, switch off Auto Turn, then turn the tablet to landscape and, hey presto, stitching begins. I also turn my needle store to match the symbols on the screen. This way of doing things was not as difficult as I thought it would be – hurray!

Now that I have some tech, I also have access to statistics:

  • Total Time Stitching: 43 hours
  • Total Stitches: 5,411
  • Average Stitches per Hour (so far): 125
  • Amount Complete: 3.5%

So, on the days I stitch, that works out to an average of 2.5 hours!

Here’s a link to the gallery for the weekly photographs, and here on the left is where I am up to after three weeks – remember, you are looking at the left hand side of the main picture: the pale blobs are cherubs and the white blobs are stars. I almost re-named this 50 Shades of Blue for obvious reasons! However, it is so soothing to stitch because of all the blues.

We had about seven inches of snow last week, which was great fun as our little bit of England looked like it had turned into Narnia. The cats stayed inside most of the time and the only outside visits were done in double quick time! I absolutely love this picture of George as it captures his personality – very languid!

Here are a couple of photographs of the local wildlife and one where you can really see the extent of the snow:

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that you all had a lovely Christmas with family and friends and have girded your loins for all that 2019 may bring.

In a great start to the year, I have a finish! Ta dah!!!

2019-01-03 – Watergarden by Chatelaine – Finished

I started Watergarden at the end of June 2017 and, in amongst The Watch and a couple of small Chatelaine Christmas Tree mandalas, she took 28 weeks to stitch. The things I have learned from this pattern are:

  • Count, count, then count again
  • I am not particularly fond of Nymo to attach the beads but it does the job well, slippery critter that it is.
  • If you are going to bead, then you really need to use tacky bob or something similar: in my case, I jerry-rigged a couple of lint roller pages – job done!
  • It’s worth taking the time to backstitch.
  • I absolutely love stitching with silk and I love the sparkling effect of the beads.

All I have to do now is find a local framer who can do Watergarden justice!

Next in the rotation will be Watch from Scarlet Quince which you recall I left in the wings so I could finish Watergarden. For Christmas, I bought myself some new tech, namely a Samsung tablet and I have installed the SQ’s stitching app as I was getting fed up with joining paper patterns together. It’s a great bit of kit and I have now got the hang of highlighting and finishing stitches within it.

This all means that I have a gap in the rotation and that will be filled by Night With Her Train of Stars.

Night With Her Train of Stars, Edward Robert Hughes (Scarlet Quince)

I am busily preparing all the materials I had stashed away. Because Night is so wide (fabric requirements are 38 x 25″) I’d like to stitch her with the short side at the top. This leaves a bit of a conundrum as the SQ stitching app doesn’t turn the symbols the right way round so I have asked Meredith if this is something that can be provided. Otherwise, I think a quickish, non-technical solution would be to turn the needle store symbols on their side so I don’t become befuddled when stitching and mix up the symbols. Let’s see what Meredith can come up with.

That’s all for now folks. Have a great January (dry, vegan or otherwise – just find what feels good) and I’ll see you in February.

Progress is only Possible with Change

Hello and welcome.  I’m trying to get to grips with WordPress’ new typesetting system (Gutenberg for those who are interested).  It’s a bit different; however, I really don’t want to move to another platform and change is good for the brain, so they say.  On the other hand, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!

On to cat news.  Tuki has absorbed her babies and is no longer pregnant.  We are sad about that but grateful in equal measure as more than seven cats really is too much.  We will be making arrangements this week to have Tuki, Marmie, Casper and Ragnar neutered so they will be free to roam outside next spring.  Ragnar is already sitting on windowsills with his nose pressed to the window looking at the big outside world!

The integration of Marmie and the boys went extremely well and they now have the run of the house.  I think because Marmie’s scent was known to our crew before she came to the house, it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be.  What a relief!  Here are some cute pictures of Marmie and the boys and a bonus one of the Matriarch of the house, Kiki – she sees all.

As you can see, the boys are happy to have their food in the kitchen with the rest of the colony; however, Marmie still prefers hers upstairs.

Now for the stitching!  The end of the stitching part of Watergarden is in sight.  Here’s where I left you last month:

2018-11-04

And here is where I finished on Sunday:

2018-12-02

There are just a few balustrades, one flower pot, one corner gate and some water to go then I am on to beads, beads, beads!

I am sorely tempted to start prepping Night With Her Train of Stars but I mustn’t let myself get distracted 😮 

Night With Her Train of Stars by Edward Hughes (1857-1914)

I will see you in January for a brand new year.  In the meantime have a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2019.  Much love to you all.