Cross Stitch · Jolly Robin - Flipped · Night WHTOS · Scarlet Quince Pieces · The Watch

All Things Seem Possible in May

I hope this finds you all well and avoiding COVID 19. As you know, I am shielding my husband and we haven’t been anywhere although we are lucky enough to have a lovely garden to sit out in when the weather is good. Stitching has been my saviour, particularly around week 7 when I felt the days ticking by particularly slowly.

Good news! I finished Watch on the first of May. I stitched this one for my husband to hang on his office wall and, yes, I love him that much to have devoted 71 weeks across four years to it.

2020-05-01 – Watch by Gerald Murphy (Scarlet Quince)

Thanks to the wonder of the stitching app supplied by Scarlet Quince, here are his vital statistics:

  • 144,396 stitches +/- a few frogs 😉
  • Timeframe: January 2017-May 2020 – 71 weeks across those years as I clearly have more than one project on the go.
  • Stitches per hour: 165 – this equates to 2.75 stitches per minute so it really isn’t as fast as it might seem. Plus, I have each of my blended threads loaded on to needles and ready to go, which is a massive time saver.
  • Approximate time spent stitching: 52,507 hours – it keeps me off the streets!

I have a few ideas on how I’d like it finish finished: a metal frame for sure but not what colour would be best, and double matting. I will have to wait until (a) framing businesses re-open and (b) I have found a new framer as the lovely Assad retired last year. I know we moved away from him three years ago, but having stitching framed had to be put on the back burner financially so I hadn’t bothered to investigate framers in our new area.

All the above meant that Night (With Her Train of Stars) came out from hibernation. Here is a sequence showing :

  • Where I left her last
  • The row finish
  • Where I am now

I finally got the hang of sizing her properly so the images are easier to view when in a gallery. In these uncertain times, I find the blues very soothing.

As stitchers, you know it is virtually impossible to have only one project on the go at any one time, so let me introduce you to Jolly Robin – Flipped:

The Jolly Robin by Wrendale Designs-Flipped

This is going to be the companion piece to the Jolly Robin kitted up by Bothy Threads which I stitched last year. The total number of colours in that kit was 16 and, although the picture looked OK when I finished, I yearned for something more detailed and nuanced:

2019-12-08 – Jolly Robin (Bothy Threads)

I found a stitching programme which allowed me to go crazy with the colours. After cleaning up the image to remove the dots surrounding the robin, I ended up with *ahem* 125 colours. Here’s what the thread box looks like for this project:

2020-05-11 – Jolly Robin Flipped – Thread Store

This robin will be more pink than the kitted one because that’s what the original artwork called for. Bothy Threads kindly sell the splat printed aida on its own so, when it arrives, I’ll give it a whirl. I have enormous respect for those who create these patterns as I spent more (non-stitching!) hours than I care to think about cleaning up the image and, even then, I think I’ll need to adjust as I go, particularly with those feet and the lower left hand side of the body where it is white feather against white aida. For copyright issues, I must reiterate I created this pattern for personal use only.

Whew, there you have my lockdown stitching. Stay safe, stay well and I’ll see you again in a couple of months to see what the world looks like.

Love and health to you all. Christine xxx

Cross Stitch · Day To Day · Kiki & Tuki · Marmie, Ragnar & Casper · Pets · Photos · Scarlet Quince Pieces · The Watch

Stay Safe, Stay At Home

Well, there could only be one title for this post, couldn’t there? It is crazy how the entire world has been changed since my last post in January and with the advent of the COVID 19 virus. I am at home shielding my asthmatic husband as, when he gets a cold, it absolutely floors him. We are taking zero chances.

On to nicer things. All this shielding means I have a bit more time for, you guessed it, stitching. Here’s where I left you in January:

2020-01-02 – End of Row

And here’s where I am as at yesterday:

2020-02-23

I’ve got a bit of a method with this one as there are so many light and dark colours next to each other. I do the light colours first, then almost all the dark, then do the next section of light, before returning to fill in the dark. This means I am not pulling through dark threads to the front of the light sections and making them look dirty. I know it will all disappear when it is framed and you step back from it, but it saves a lot of pulling the dark threads away at the back, which means more forward progress!

I don’t have recent photographs of spring flowers as the weather was awful when they were in bloom, but here are some I took in previous years:

And here are a couple of photos that I love of some of the colony:

They are all gorgeous and have settled in to their new roles. Now that Casper and Ragnar are bigger, they are able to play with Tiggy, who is now leaving the lovely Kiki alone (she definitely doesn’t want to play).

Stay safe, and stay at home if your role enables you to. If you are a member of one of the essential services in this crisis, I heartily thank you for your service and send you protective thoughts.

Much love to you all – Christine

Chatelaine Designs · Cross Stitch · Easter Eggs · George · Jolly Robin · Mrs Tiggy-Winkle (Tiggy) · Night WHTOS · Pets · Scarlet Quince Pieces · The Watch · Watergarden

Fare Thee Well and Welcome

Good bye 2019 and welcome to the 2020s. Will they be roaring? I am not sure, but I am certain that we all need to do better when interacting with our fellow man. As the wonderful Tim Cotton of the Bangor, Maine Police Department wisely states: Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.

On to stitchy news, here are the pieces I completed in 2019:

I absolutely loved working with silks on Watergarden as their colours are so vibrant (the blues of the centre pond). It looks like I am driven by colour when it comes to working on smaller pieces as a break from my main pieces (the blue of Night With Her Train of Stars and the brown/grey/yellow of Watch). I am also kitting up a more complex Robin, where I ran the artwork through a pattern maker and have gone crazy with the number of colours being used (125). It will be the same size as the Robin above, but will be flipped so they face each other. It should be fun and strictly for personal use only.

These pieces are a work in progress:

I’m on a bit of a roll with Watch, being 60% of the way through it, so I’ll stay with it for the time being.

On sadder news, my gorgeous, darling, handsome George was killed on New Year’s Eve and we all miss him so much. Both my husband and I and the rest of the colony are gradually adjusting to his absence. His sister, Tiggy, has picked up the reins as head of the colony and the rest are settling in to the new order. He is gone, but never forgotten.

2019-02-01 – George
Chatelaine Designs · Cross Stitch · Jolly Robin · Kiki & Tuki · Marmie, Ragnar & Casper · Photos · Sparkling Peacock Mandala · The Watch

A Frosty Morning

This is a poem by Enid Blyton, which I thought chimed nicely with the weather we are currently experiencing and the subject matter today.

When the sun hangs low in the eastern sky,
Caught in the trees that shiver and shy,
Red as the robin that flits nearby,
Sing hey, for a frosty morning!

When the lane is a-glitter beneath our feet,
Powered with crystal, delicate, sweet,
And the quiet pond is a silver sheet,
Sing hey, for a frosty morning!

Come out, come out, while the sky is red,
Over the crunching fields to tread,
Ere the frost in the kindling sun lies dead,
Sing, hey for a frosty morning!
2019-12-02 – First Heavy Frost of December and Sunlight on the Trees

On to the stitching. Here are the start and finish points for Watch in November (a fortnight’s work):

I know I said I would continue with Watch, but the large areas of the same colour thread were making it painful to stitch as I wasn’t moving much. I also needed (desperately) to stitch something that involved bright colours. Hence the robin mentioned in the poem.

I have long admired Hannah Dale’s illustrations and had my eye on her Jolly Robin picture, which she had licensed to Bothy Threads to kit up (Amazon sell them at a good price). I am not a fan of kits (or the Madeira thread used by Bothy for theirs) but I thought I’d stitch it up and see if I could get hold of the lovely material they use to stitch it again using DMC threads. Here is a copy of the original artwork and an image of where I got to at the end of the first week:

At this point I’m thinking “where has all the coral/orange come from?” To someone who is used to stitching Joan Elliott and Scarlet Quince pieces, this looks really odd, and really blocky. Anyway, I thought, let’s see what it looks like when I move over to the left hand side of the work. Well … have a look at the coral patch under his eye …

2019-11-30 – Coral Colour Re-Think

I knew at this point that I hated that coral colour with a passion, but what to put there instead. I ran the original artwork through a couple of the free to use on-line pattern makers using the same number of colours as the pattern and was presented with a couple of options: a very light pink colour which just looked strange in amongst all those beautiful reds and russets, and DMC 3705 (a dark melon). Here’s what it looked like after I finished with it on Sunday:

2019-12-01

Isn’t it funny how it looks pink now? My plan is to finish this one and do another one with a couple of important changes:

  • I will flip the image horizontally so I will have a facing pair,
  • and I will do the second one in all blended colours (DMC obviously) to see if I can improve on the impression of fluffed feathers.

Bothy Threads have said they can sell me just the material so I won’t have to buy all the threads again. Oh, by the way, I have ditched Xodo as a PDF reader as it kept losing the work I had marked as done, even though it acknowledged as having saved it. I was getting really bored of re-marking it. I am now using Acrobat to read the pattern I had scanned in as Bothy only do paper patterns.

Speaking of colours, Chatelaine.de had a sale on so I plumped for Sparkling Peacock Mandala, which I just know is going to look gorgeous in the flesh. Now to start saving for the materials!

And just so it’s not all about stitching, here are Ragnar and Kiki enjoying a snooze in a warm place:

Have a great Christmas and I’ll see you again in January for a round up of 2019!

Cross Stitch · Music · Scarlet Quince Pieces · The Golden Stairs · The Watch

Letting Go of the Old

We are now well into Autumn and I thought this poem by Edel T Copeland summed it up beautifully.

 Golden, crisp leaves falling softly from almost bare trees,
Lifting and falling in a hushed gentle breeze.
Slowly dropping to the soft cushioned ground,
Whispering and rustling a soothing sound.

Coppers, golds, and rusted tones,
Mother Nature's way of letting go.
They fall and gather one by one,
Autumn is here, summer has gone.

Crunching as I walk through their warm, fiery glow,
Nature's carpet rich and pure that again shall grow.
To protect and shield its majestic tree,
Standing tall and strong for the world to see.

They rise and fall in the cool, crisp air.
It's a time of change in this world we share,
Nature's importance reflecting our own lives,
Letting go of our fears and again, too, we shall thrive.

We went for a walk to a National Trust property at the weekend while there were blue skies, crisp temperatures and a calm breeze. We observed our two minutes’ silence while looking at this peaceful view, remembering the fallen and sending love out into the world:

2019-11-10 – Greys Court Walk

Here are is a photo showing the trees changing. It was a bit hazy in the distance, but you get the beauty of the scene.

2019-11-10 – Opposite Greys Court – Landscape

On to the stitching. Here is where I left you last with Watch at the end of March:

2019-03-31

Here is where I got to half way – I am so pleased with how the finer detail is showing up, because those numbers on the bottom just look blurred when you are close up:

2019-10-27a

And here is where I got to on Sunday:

2019-11-10

I am 51.5% complete on this piece and feel like I am on a roll so I’ll keep him out for the rest of the year.

Way back in February, we went to see the Burne Jones’ exhibition at Tate Britain, discussed in Devouring Time and I was very captured by The Golden Stairs. I finally took the plunge and bought the pattern from Scarlet Quince with a view to kitting it up over time. I think it would look great on our staircase wall. She is very tall and the stitched area will be a shade short of a metre! This is the first time I have ordered an electronic pattern from Scarlet Quince and I was very impressed with the speed of delivery and the quality of the product. I also love, love, love SQ Stitch the stitching app supplied free of charge by Meredith, who runs Scarlet Quince.

See you some time in December! Much love, Christine

Chatelaine Designs · Cross Stitch · Easter Eggs · Night WHTOS · Photos

Autumn Fires

Yes, I know it’s been a while and summer seems to have passed us by in a flash. I though this poem by Robert Louis Stevenson seemed to sum up the coming joyousness of Autumn.

 In the other gardens
   And all up in the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
   See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over, 
   And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
   The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
   Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
   Fires in the fall! 

After the trials of July, I decided against rotating over to The Watch and continued with Night with Her Train of Stars. Here are the before and after photographs:

I made some decent headway and am looking forwarding to seeing Night herself appear over the next few rows. After the fairly monotone blue, I felt I needed some colour in my stitching and diverted over to a couple of Chatelaine Easter Eggs. The 2013 one (Happy Easter) took four weeks to complete, and the 2014 egg took a mere two weeks.

Both were stitched on some scraps of 16 count linen I had knocking about; however, I think the 2014 egg would have been better on 14 count as it had a lot more beads. This has been duly noted for any future Chatelaines I may do. You can see some close-ups in the photo galleries: 2013 Easter Egg, 2014 Easter Egg.

On the subject of colour, my darling husband has become a flower gardener so we could have masses of cut flowers for the house. Here is a link to Photos-2019, just scroll down to see a selection of dahlias he photographed on 1 September. I absolutely love them.

Hopefully I can return to posting monthly and I hope you are doing what makes you happy. Much love – C x

Get Help

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.

Night WHTOS · Photos

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

Cross Stitch · Marmie, Ragnar & Casper · Pets · The Watch

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!

Cross Stitch · Marmie, Ragnar & Casper · Night WHTOS · Pets

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.