Caribbean Blue

We’ve had such lovely weather recently, it has been very much like the Caribbean (just without the sea)!

My parents recently visited so we took them to one of my favourite National Trust properties, Bodiam Castle.  It’s everything you think a castle should be and, over the course of the last 15 years I have visited three times: on each occasion they have improved the visitor experience (from nothing really the first time, to signs and boards pointing out interesting features, a short video explanation, and in-character people in various parts of the property).  Visit if you can; just make sure it’s on a fine day as Bodiam does not possess a roof🙂 .

2016-07-09 - Bodiam Castle

2016-07-09 – Bodiam Castle

In stitching news, I finished 6 out of the 8 rows of Flora:


and am now on row 7, the one which features her feet.  Talk about the slow burn of anticipation when a finish this big is in sight.


My framer, Assad, did a fabulous job of deconstructing the Santa I stitched for my new niece.  He even let me change the lettering from a “M” to an “N” in his store rather than making me take it home, do the 10 minute change and take it back into town.  He then re-framed it using the original materials and you cannot even tell it would have been a difficult job given the cut down material he would have had to work with.  The man’s a genius.

2016-07 - N's Santa (Lucie Heaton)

2016-07 – N’s Santa (Lucie Heaton)

Let me leave you with a happy, summery song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from DreamWorks Animations’ “Trolls”.  Enjoy!

The Frog Prince

“That’s a funny song title by Enya” you say.  I know it is, but is it very apt for the present in the UK, what with the Brexit elections and all the reactions to it.  My only hope is that, out of the current mess, something wonderful happens.  Here is the Brothers Grimm short story if you want to remind yourself: The Frog Prince.  I was in the Remain camp, although it took me a while to get there.  The EU does some wonderful things (not least blocking the planting of GMOs) but I just wish the UK government would stop gold plating the regulations and making life difficult for everyone (which is where you get the straight bananas myth.  For those interested, here is relevant regulation.)

On to the stitching:  I have a finish!  Well, almost a finish as all the cross stitch of Poppy’s Owl Family Tree is complete.  Here is what the last row looked like, with the amendment of an outline for the body of the pink owl:


Then, this is what she looks like in all her glory:

2016-06-07 - Finished!

2016-06-07 – Finished!

If you go here, you can see a much bigger picture.  Poppy’s parents just now need to decide what to do about names.  I believe the options are:

  • Stitch the names on the fabric above or next to owls, then frame.
  • Leave the names off the fabric but have a PDF on the back of the frame with names on.
  • Leave the names off altogether.

Over to you now, guys!

Now, having been missing in action since November 2014, Flora has made a welcome re-appearance.  This is where I left her:


And this is where I finished her last night:


I think that was about 1.5 pages of pattern (approximately 5,250 stitches) – not bad for three weeks’ work🙂 .  Oh, by the way, I got to see Flora in person at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London via the Botticelli Revisited exhibition, the last day of which is Sunday 3 July 2016.  I wasn’t too impressed with the modern reimagined part of the exhibition but, go into the Pre-Raphaelite room, and Flora just leaps out at you:

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Here is a bigger copy where you can see darling Flora better.  You can see from the stitched pattern above the flowers on her dress are quite soft focussed; however, in the flesh she pin-sharp and oh-so-gorgeous!  This is understandable given the size of my cross stitch and the size of the painting!  At the back of the room is the Orchard tapestry which John Henry Dearle designed based on a poem by William Morris and manufactured by Morris & Co in 1890.  Given the relative size of Flora and the Orchard I am stumped as to how the lovely Meredith at Scarlet Quince would be able to turn the latter into a do-able pattern!  I live in hope that she will see fit to create such a masterpiece.

Next up are the pieces I am doing for my nieces in the USA.  On this I have two bits of news.  One is that the newest addition will be changing her name once the adoption goes through.  I therefore need to go on bended knee to Assad to get him to de-kit M’s Nordic Santa so I can change the M on his bobble to an N.  And then get him to re-frame it🙂 .



The other is that we have a potential pattern for my new niece who is a super basketball player and fan of Miami Heat.  I have put forward the following for consideration and will add her name in the same font once I have received feedback.

© NBA Media Ventures, LLC

© NBA Media Ventures, LLC

I am looking forward to doing this one in the graduated colours and imagine N’s name will be at the top above the basketball hoop in the same font.

Anyway, it’s now 5.30pm and I really need to stitch so, have a great day, do what you enjoy and enjoy what you do!



Long Long Journey

Poppy’s Owl Family Tree has been on a long 16 month journey and is now covering the last few miles.  Here’s where I left the girls and boys last month:


And here is where we are now:


That right there is the trunk finished.  That’s right: Done.  Finito.  I am so happy the sea of brown, dark brown and black is over.  I have a large owl on the left to stitch and just one more branch to the right, on which sits a small owl.  If nothing untoward happens, it’ll be finished by the end of June!  I can’t believe it.  Now, I just need to get your collective opinions on the little pink owl.  She has a white body which is stitched as directed by the pattern; however, do you think she needs some dark pink outline on that little white body?  All thoughts welcome.

The other project I had on the go this month was a Nordic Santa for my brother- and sister-in-law, who will have an addition to their family shortly.  This was the first time I have attempted an over-one face: boy those stitches are small!  I may very well do the next Joan Elliott pattern in this style if it has “skin” as it really produces a finer finish.

First attempt at an Over One Face

First attempt at an Over One Face

Assad then worked his magic by framing him in the same colourway and size as those he made earlier for Morgan, Charlotte and Hannah.  (Apologies for the reflection):

Makayla's Santa

When DH visits the US next, this little fellow will be going with him so the full set will come out for Christmas.  Here is the full set I did back in 2014.

On a musical ending, someone posted this on my Facebook timeline.  It is the Sound of Silence sung by the lead singer of Disturbed, a heavy metal band.  That genre is not my usual cup of tea; however, this rendition sends chills down your spine, it is so beautiful.  Enjoy!


Amid the Falling Snow

It’s not unknown for snow to fall in April in these parts and we have had a few flurries this April – it is very, very pretty when you are walking in it.  This month has been a little bit eventful (think snowflakes), so let’s start with Poppy’s Owl Family Tree.

Here’s where I left you last month:


Here’s just before I moved the fabric up:


And here is where I left it yesterday:


I make that 6.5 owls, 62 flowers and a ton of bark in 5 weeks – not too shabby, I think.  I particularly like the blues in the latest owl – very soothing.

I mentioned last time that we’d had a small bonus paid at work and my intention was to have I Saw the Figure Five in Gold and Twelve Days of Christmas framed.  And here they are in all their glory:

Finally Framed!

Finally Framed!

Finally Framed!

Finally Framed!

I love different things about them.  With Figure Five, it is how Assad (our framer) helped me select matting and an orange metal frame which would have an expansive effect on the picture.  It really feels like a fire engine is coming at you through the rainy night.  I never tire of looking at it and it has pride of place opposite Ehret die Frauen.  With Twelve Days, we went with a green inner matting and a pale outer matting, with a thin wooden gold effect frame to complement the lightness of the stitching.  Because there was a lot of plain fabric and A LOT of carrying over of threads on the reverse, I went with a dark grey backing rather than the usual white (which would have shown all the threads on their journey).  This one is now living under our bed until December.

DH bought me some vouchers from Sew and So for my birthday so I put them together with the ones he gave me for Christmas and kitted up Night With Her Train of Stars, although I know I’m not going to be able to start her for some time.  I just *needed* to complement the finished finishes (framed pieces) with a start on *something*.

So, given that Owl Family Tree is nearing the end (just 3.5 owls to go) I will *probably* do something like this:

  • Flora (yay! not seen here since November 2014) in combination with another Lucie Heaton Nordic Santa and A N Other Joan Elliott (I have another niece on the way!)
  • Watch (because it’s been kitted up the longest)
  • Watergarden
  • Night with her Train of Stars

However, all the above are subject to whims of fancy🙂

I recently visited Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk for a friend’s 50th party.  Wow, what a lovely place.  Click here and have a look at the short film which gives a flavour of the place.  Ancient and modern sit side by side in harmony.  It is a place that has everything (particularly if you’re interested in the medieval period) and everything is within walking distance.  Everyone is very friendly and I felt safe, even at 1am coming back from the party.  I think I could live there…

On the party note, our host had organized a live band, Walkway.  They understood their audience and played music we would all know and their musicianship was something to behold.  A top evening!


The Memory of Trees

This title is particularly pertinent today as we have the tail end of Storm Katie whizzing through our skies: the trees certainly need their memory to flex and sway!

So, on to the other part of “trees”: this is where I left Owl Family Tree last time:


I needed to move the material up, which meant unhooking the bars, so I took the opportunity to take a full length photo of my work so far.  This was as at last Monday:

2016-03-20b - Entire So Far

In case you are wondering, that is about 20″/50cm in length.  I am so pleased with how they are turning out and the colours are just lovely.  But wait, there’s more!  This is last week’s progress after I moved the little critters up a bit:


Aren’t these two girls the cutest?

We received our Bonus from work so I have treated myself to having these two pieces framed: I Saw the Figure Five in Gold (completed in 2014) and Twelve Days of Christmas (completed in 2013).  Figure Five will then be hung in our living room – can’t wait!  Twelve Days will see the light of day at Christmas obviously.

Here’s to Spring and have a lovely April!

Tempus Vernum (Springtime)

Greetings and felicitations!  It looks like Spring is finally and ever so gently moving Winter aside with lovely bright days, crocus, daffodils and snowdrops making an appearance.

Also, and in the turning a new page vein, I have a finish!  Ta dah:

2016-02-23 - Finished

When I left you last month I was prevaricating over which pattern to use for the name but decided to go with Sanvito Pro (a font from Microsoft Word) as it had a “paintbrush/calligraphy” feel about it to fit with the Japanese theme.  And very happy with the result I am too!  I offered Morgan various colour choices and mocked up a couple: the pink from the inside of the kimono and the purple of the bow and Morgan chose the latter.  I then applied Joan Elliott’s method of colouring with the three shades featured in the stitching and ran it through my stitching programme (Easy Cross).  I then needed to wash the finished stitching as the flexible magnifying glass had deposited some tiny metal particles onto the materal.  I was so anxious about it I left it for a couple of weeks.  In the end, I did some research on the internet and washed it in Ecover washing up liquid and cold water.  Hey presto!  The mark disappeared.  Whew!  I now have a duster tied around the base of the magnifying glass so this problem will not recur.

Given that I finished stitching Morgan’s Geisha at the end of January, I have had a whole month on Poppy’s Owl Family Tree and went from this at my last post:


to this as at close of play yesterday:


That’s a whole lot of brown I can tell you!  Also, the centre point is around the bump in the bark just below the pink flowers.  Yes, you heard me.  The centre!  Just another 22-23 weeks to go, which should take me to the end of July/beginning of August.  Let’s see how it goes.

Have a lovely March everyone!

Tea House Moon

Happy New Year everyone.  My challenge for blog titles this year will be the songs and music of Enya.  I chose Tea House Moon for two reasons: we had a marvellous full moon yesterday and it is a soothing piano/xylophone piece, which is what we all need after a busy Christmas and New Year.

First out of the gates for the New Year was Morgan’s Summer Geisha:


Most of the cross-stitching is done, except for where I ran out of light blue thread for the flowers near her feet (not shown) so I started on the back-stitch: both gold and dark grey.  You can see how the back-stitch really makes the detail pop on the left hand side of the geisha.  She is back on the stand for the next two weeks so I hope to finish cross-stitch, back-stitch and beading.  Then comes the task of creating a pattern for her name.  I have a possible three fonts but it depends on what they look like when placed at her feet to see what flows the best.

Morgan's Name Oriental Alphabet 2 Oriental Alphabet 1










Ideally, I’d have something in Microsoft Word and move that over into the cross stitch pattern maker but I couldn’t find anything suitably oriental.  It’ll have to wait until I finish her as per the pattern, take her off the bars and measure her to work out how big 10% is (for the lettering) and see how this fits, keeping in mind I need to leave a suitable amount for the framer.  Decisions, decisions🙂

Meanwhile, Poppy’s Owl Family Tree is coming on a treat:


Owl Family Tree by Alessandra Adelaide

Owl Family Tree by Alessandra Adelaide






Aren’t these two just gorgeous?  Once I have done the blue and green/yellow owls to the lower left of the two just completed, add a bit more bark and there it is: the centre of the piece.  It might take a smidge longer than I originally anticipated, but it is a joy to stitch!

That’s all for now folks!  Have a happy, healthy start to 2016 and do what makes you happy!