Friday, 5 May 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - April update

Hello there!
Well here we are in May and it's time for the monthly update on the 17 ufos in 2017 project. April has been a productive month but not on this front! The Wave started the month looking like this...


...and now looks like this...


It came out twice all month!!! Ooops! I am *hoping* to be better this month but am still battling a pretty strong yarn addiction (more on that in my next post) plus Hubbie and I have upped the walking & cycling so I'm pretty tired come the evening & don't have the concentration to stitch. Well I guess I have made a big dent in The List so far this year so I'm not going to beat myself up too much over one bad month. I plan to get back on track in May - wish me luck!
Thank you for visiting me here today, I hope you have a beautiful weekend however you are spending it!  


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Tales of a yarn addict

Hello there!
I hope you had a lovely Easter? I can't believe how quickly April is flying by, I'm really not sure what has happened to this month! In my last post I promised to share some yarny goodness with you because, in between the stitching, there have been a lot of yarny things going on around here too. Although cross stitch will always be my first crafty love I would truly be hard pushed to name my second. For years my answer would've been sewing. Sewing pretty much anything, whatever involved needle (hand or sewing machine), thread, and fabric. But then I bought some yarn & a crochet hook... followed a couple of years later by knitting needles... and before I really knew what was going on I had two new crafty loves! Now when we are going away I pack a crochet project for the car/flight and a knitty project along with a cross stitch project for while we're away and this is number one on the packing list way ahead of clothes or other mundane things. Anyone else relate?!
There are times where I know I really should be focusing on a certain project but the pull to work on something else is very hard to resist, and recently the "something else" has been of a yarny nature. Firstly I fell totally in love with a colorway of Stylecraft Head over Heels sock yarn which was handily in stock when we visited Nairn Wool Shop and now I can happily report it has grown into finished socks!


The pattern (Daydreamer) was a fun knit, and the yarn is the softest, squooshiest sock yarn I have yet come across. There are definitely going to be more balls of this in my future and the fact that Stylecraft have just brought out two gorgeous new colorways of it just adds to the temptation! The observant amongst you will have noticed my socks don't match, see the abrupt color change on the right toe? There was a knot in the ball which resulted a very sharp contrast, a bit of a shame but I'm not really bothered as most of the time it's hidden inside my shoe ;-) At that point I decided I didn't mind them being "odd socks" & didn't try to make the colors match on the second one, just went with the yarn as it came off the ball. I have seen matching socks made with this yarn on Ravelry so I think it's possible if that is really important to you, anyways don't let it put you off trying this yarn as it really is like wearing clouds on your feet! (I'm pretty sure it would also make an awesome scarf/ shawl/ gloves etc.)
After that I was going to be good and not buy new yarn but then Sirdar brought out Colourwheel, their answer to the current trend for cake yarns - have you seen these around? Oh. My. Gosh!!!! I only went in to my local store to ask if she would be stocking them & they had just arrived - "would you like to see them?" she asked. Ummmm YES! Most definitely! :-) The difficult part was working out which ones to leave behind! In the end I came out with three, a ball of Deep Blue Sea, a ball of Nature's Palette...


...and a ball of Follow the Rainbow (which lasted intact for a few hours until I couldn't resist it any longer and cast on!)...


This was totally addictive to knit!! The colors, the texture, the simple rhythm of the pattern = one happy & contented me.... The pattern is from Sirdar leaflet 8032 and I struggled really hard to put this down & finish the back stitch on the Spring Fairy! Anyways, Fairy got finished & I got to go back to my rainbow. When I was just over halfway through the pattern repeats I realised that I had more than half the cake left & I really wanted to use the whole thing on this project. The pattern is symmetrical, increasing after each pattern repeat up to a central point and then decreasing again so I ripped back to where the rows start decreasing & added some more pattern repeats, weighing the remaining yarn after each full repeat. I ended up adding two more increases and two more decreases but still ended up with some yarn left over at the end. I decided to add a border along the neck edge by picking up stitches with a circular needle and working a few rows until there was just enough yarn left to cast off. (Loosely three times the length of your row in case you were wondering) It's now on the blocking mats, would you like to see?


Here's a closeup of the border I added...


I have also been knitting my first pair of gloves using this pattern as a base. After all how hard can it be to make them for a large mans' hand instead of a medium female and do fingers? (Internet to the rescue, follow this link for a funny article about knitting fingers). I played with the gauge and added a thumb gusset (charted in pattern on graph paper) to increase the width across the hand and through it all, in the hopes of being able to produce two gloves the same, I have been scribbling notes like mad. To get a close but comfortable fit on the fingers I have been trying the glove on Hubbie as I go which has worked out great but meant I could only work on them when he was here so progress has been slow. But as of last night the first glove is finished...



... now to cast on the other one and reverse the thumb and finger positions. At least this time progress should be faster as I should be able to work more from my notes and not have to try them on him so often. I am writing up the modifications I made to the pattern and will add it under the free tutorials tab on here when I'm done in case anyone else is interested in making these. The yarn I'm using is Drops Fabel in black and mustard, it's a superwash sock yarn which means it should be fine to go in the washing machine when needed and also be hard wearing. It's my first time using it and so far I'm quite impressed, it's not as soft as the Stylecraft sock yarn and feels more "wooly" but it certainly stands up to being ripped back a lot! 
Even though I have really been enjoying the challenge of these gloves there are some times when you just need something more relaxing and for that (other than when the Rainbow Wrap was on the go) I have been turning to Ebee's Flower Square Blanket. You can read about the beginnings of this blanket back here but basically since then I have been gradually filling a box with squares...



Dear Daughter was home for a few days in Easter week & I managed to have around 70 squares made by then. This meant we could spread the squares out & have a play with layout ideas & joining colors. For this blanket I wanted to use a decorative join and we agreed that the Continuous Flat Braid Join would suit these squares well. There is a great tutorial available here and I tried two different yellows with a few squares but the Saffron was too bright and the Buttermilk just a bit "off" somehow? Then we went in a totally different direction...


Duck Egg Blue! Yes folks we have a winner! Unfortunately I only had one ball of it in my stash so a quick run through to Nairn on Easter Saturday to acquire more was in order. I am edging each square in it first before working the join and, using a 4mm hook, this results in a 1" band of blue between the squares. With this measurement I could finally confirm how many squares I need to make & we could finalise a layout - boy did that feel good! So this blanket will have 169 squares arranged 13 by 13 which with the decorative join and a border should come out around double bed sized. Currently I have three rows joined... 


I have given up trying to get the camera to accurately portray the colors *sigh* but this isn't too bad, the worst being the rich dark purple which looks more like navy in the above pic...
Here's a close up of the decorative join which I'm hoping will lie a bit flatter once the blanket is washed when it's finished...


Overall Daughter & I are both really happy with how this is working out, I think it's going to end up the prettiest blanket I have made to date :-) I'm going to keep adding rows until the squares I already have are used up (this will give me six rows and almost half a blanket) but then I'm going to take a little break. Partly this is because we are going away in June & I always planned to be making squares for this blanket as my travel project. It's also because I have fallen madly in love with the colors in Lucy's new Hydrangea blanket here at Attic24. I haven't made a big stripey blanket since the Mixed Stitch Stripey Blanket and have had an itch to start one for a while. But I have always had another blanket in progress and because they are generally big projects I have never succumbed to having two on the go at once. But now I probably will because these colors are just too gorgeous to resist...


And this is why I will happily admit to being a yarn addict! :-)
Thank you for visiting me here today, I hope you have a lovely rest of your week whatever you are up to!







Monday, 10 April 2017

All about bunnies (and a chick)

Hello there!
In my last post I mentioned that I spent a lot of March working on projects that weren't from my 17 ufo's in 2017 list so I thought before we get any further into April I should show you what I was up to! First off I restitched the other two vanishing bunnies, completely restitching this one...


...and just restitching the bunnies & the swirly bits which are now purple on this one...


This wasn't nearly as bad a job as I had been thinking it would be so I really don't know why I have been putting it off for three years! They are both free patterns & are available here and here. Then I picked two new spring smalls to stitch, first this little guy from The Snowflower Diaries....


Stitched on 28ct evenweave that I dyed with tea and coffee, I changed out the thread colors to fit in better with the other two smalls I am hanging in a group with this one. I finished it as a flat ornament using ric rac, ribbon, and fabric from my stash...


The second was Primrose Maiden designed by Laura Rimola which appeared in Just CrossStitch magazine April 2015...


I loved the way Carol from the Stitching Dreams blog finished her version here so changed the colors on my version too, stitching her dress blue as Carol had done but using yellow and white for the flowers. I stitched mine on 14ct rustico aida with DMC threads and finished it as a flat ornament with ric rac, ribbon, and fabric from my stash...


I chose these two designs to hang with Hop, a Lizzie Kate design I finished last year... 


On a somewhat larger scale I also finished the Peek-a-boo Bunnies from the March/April 17 Quiltmaker magazine. I just couldn't resist these bunnies! They jumped straight out of the magazine at me on my first look through it, and, although another applique project wasn't really on my timetable right now, I started pulling fabrics within a few hours of first spotting them! I made a few changes to this project compared to how it appeared in the magazine, the main change being using regular quilting cottons rather than wools and flannels (I don't have much in the way of those fabrics in my stash although I would like to do some wool applique at some point). I decided not to applique the bunnies' eyes but to use black buttons instead, and I made one long stitch for each whisker instead of stem stitching them. I thought they looked more like whiskers stitched this way &, as it is for hanging on the wall rather than using on a bed, I think they will be fine like this. When it came to the quilting I followed the suggestions in the magazine, echo quilting round the bunnies...

...  free motioning in the first border, using my walking foot to crosshatch the square patches in the second border, and free motion stippling the outer border...

They finished up around 35" square which fits nicely on the wall outside the kitchen and brightens up this part of the hall. I really had a lot of fun sewing this, in fact I might've been a tad addicted ;-) it only took me 13 days from buying the magazine to hanging them on the wall!


I have also been working on some yarny projects but I will save those for my next post. I hope you have a lovely Easter week whatever you are up to!


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - March update

Hello there!
It's time for the March update on the 17 ufo's in 2017 project. Please follow the linky button at the bottom of Meredithe's post to go see everyone's progress!
Having been "good" in January and February and (for the most part) kept my focus firmly on the ufo's, March was a month where other projects took center stage. I really wasn't sure I was going to have much progress to share with you at all on The List! But much as I was enjoying some little spring stitches I also really wanted to get a finish on Spring Fairy while it was still Spring! So after restitching the vanishing bunnies I allowed myself two other small stitches and then went back to the Fairy. (I will share these little stitches with you next post). It was worth it because..... finally I have a finish!!!! The colors aren't showing up well this morning but would you like to see??


Apart from the week of backstitch (!) I have enjoyed stitching her & the backstitch is worth it because it brings all the little details to life. The little snails and ladybirds...


...her face, and the little bunnies & birds...


The design is by Joan Elliott and I stitched her on 28 ct cream evenweave with the listed DMC and Kreinik colours. I made one change when it came to adding the beads and used some raspberry beads from my stash for the details on her wings and the swirls. I don't know if this was my plan to begin with? (One of the disadvantages of having a project hanging around 3 years!) But the charted beads were the pearly white ones also in her hair & skirt & there was no way they would show up against my choice of fabric in those swirls. So she has three colors of beads instead of just two and I'm going with "this was an intentional design element" rather than pure luck as the raspberry beads were in the bag with the other two colors! ;-) Anyways, she is finished - happy dance!!!!! She took a bath this morning & I will leave her to dry for three or four days to make sure she's totally dry inside all those beads before I frame her.
So for April I'm getting out my oldest UFO and number 12 on The List - The Wave designed by Jim Warren. This is where it had been left...


I can't even remember the last time I worked on this, but I don't think it has been out in the last couple years as I tend to want to pick it up in the summer & the last few years I have been busy stitching wedding samplers in June & July! I will keep you posted as to how I get on... 
Wishing you a happy and creative week what ever you are up to!



Thursday, 16 March 2017

Seasonal stitches

Hello there!
Well here we are on another windy, rainy March morning and before I go back to the sewing room I thought I would share a few recent projects with you. None of these are from The List, but are (mostly) part of the bigger project of making seasonal decorations. My aim is to have a table runner & wall hanging for the kitchen and cross stitched smalls for the front room for each month of the year, so after finishing the January Snowman I went looking for wall hanging ideas for February. I found a beautiful free pattern available on the Janome site here and started pulling fabrics. The project finished a bit bigger than I wanted so when I printed the pattern out I only enlarged it by 200% instead of 225%. It was only later that I joined the dots and realised I had made life harder for myself - by making all the pieces smaller all those beautiful flowing curves were smaller and tighter and how on earth was I going to applique them without ruining those tapered points???? So I played with settings on my new sewing machine (did I mention it has A Lot?!!!) and practised and looked at projects online and worried some more and practised some more... In the end I decided I needed to do some of the bits I felt I could tackle so I made a start satin stitching the hearts. Then I blanket stitched the flowers and then the swirls inside the hearts. Finally I decided to use the raw edge applique technique for all the remaining pieces. I am not a fan of the messy, frayed look that often results from just straight stitching round a shape but as this will never go near the washing machine I am hoping it won't fray much and I had to get this done before it got put aside & became a UFO... Once the applique was all finished and the borders were on I decided to try echo quilting rather than free motioning round the shapes. This technique had seemed way beyond me when using the walking foot on my old machine, I don't know if it was because it was a cheaper generic foot or because it was an old machine but it didn't walk so much as jumped like a grasshopper and it was kinda nerve racking to use! The first time I put the walking foot on my new machine - wow!!! It walks like an old man with a zimmer frame! Very unthreatening and for me it opened up a whole host of possibilities for trying quilting ideas I'd seen but discounted in the past. Anyways... echo quilting... how did I get on?? I love it!!!! :-) I actually enjoyed the quilting process on a project for the first time!! I added some jewel like heart shaped buttons for the flower centers and am really happy with the result :-)



I did vow to have a break from applique projects after I finished this but then I fell fast and hard for a project in the current Quiltmaker magazine which I discovered in WHSmiths on Wednesday so last week this started happening...


I have also been fitting in some cross stitch (head is behaving much better thank you :-)) and completed the last in the set of 2004 Cross Stitcher's Surprise Series from Rainbow Gallery. Stitched on 14 count cream aida with DMC colors and finished with button, fabric, & ribbon from my stash...


Next on the cross stitch list is a restitching job. Some of you may remember the three little bunny pillows I stitched way back here? Three years ago now! They have become known round here as the "vanishing bunnies" because as soon as you back away from them they disappear (!) and each spring I take them out and think "oh I really must do something about these!!". Well this year I decided they weren't going up until they were sorted so I unpicked and unstuffed the wee pillow & then unpicked the bunny and the flowers around him. I chose much stronger solid colors to restitch him and voila!


He vanishes no longer!!! I am working on the other two now...
There has also been some knitting going on because the day after I finished the Hermione scarf Hubbie and I took a day trip which just happened to involve a visit to Nairn Wool Shop. This is about 30 miles from us so I don't go that often but I just love it when I do! She has a great selection & very friendly staff and I was only going with the intent to squish some yarn and make future plans but a ball of Stylecraft Head Over Heels jumped in my bag... It is sooooo soft and I couldn't resist the colors....


It's a beautiful pattern called Daydreamer which came in a supplement with a knitting magazine last year or you can buy it direct from the designer here. It's the first time I have tried a lace pattern on a sock but it's a nice simple one & I'm really enjoying it. I have one sock done and am working on the other one now, I don't have sock blockers so for you to see the lace pattern you have to see the sock on my foot...

 

Well I hope you are enjoying March, whether it is bringing you warmer days as Spring approaches or cooler ones as you head into Autumn. The first true daffodils are starting to bloom around here and there are buds on trees and shrubs, everything is starting to wake after it's winter slumber. Yesterday I didn't even need mittens or a scarf when we went for our walk! It is time to make a start on tidying up the garden and getting ready for a new season out there (although that might wait till tomorrow as the wind is howling down the chimney and throwing the rain against the window right now!). Wishing you a lovely week whatever you are up to :-)






Sunday, 5 March 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - February update

Hello there!
It's time for another update on the 17 ufos in 2017 project, February is such a short month isn't it?! I have also been battling bugs & migraines this month so there really wasn't a whole lot of cross stitching going on round here. Spring Fairy started the month like this...


... and has finished the month like this...


Bottom corner still to stitch then metallics to finish, backstitch (tons of!), and finally beads to go... this is staying out for another month (although I have some other stitching I need to take care of in March so we will see how much Fairy actually grows by the end of the month...)
But less stitching time in february meant more knitting time and I did manage to finish number 16 on The List - the Hermione scarf for my daughter! 


Here it is folded up on the chair waiting for her to collect it...


I am really pleased to have this one done and off the list!!! In the end I actually really enjoyed knitting it (probably a reflection on how my knitting skills have progressed in the 2 years since knitting the matching mittens for her!). Definitely breaking it up into chunks helped with the motivation & as it's knitted with DK weight yarn it is very warm & snuggly. Dear daughter certainly seemed very happy to collect it the other week :-)
Another smaller project I tackled this month was number 6 - the July table runner. Pieced last year & just needing quilted & bound it got pushed to one side by more time sensitive projects last summer. I decided to do a mix of free motion quilting & quilting other parts out with the walking foot. Here's a pic of the back so you can see the quilting easier...


I am still getting used to my new sewing machine & as the foot pedal is entirely different to my old machine it kinda feels like I'm starting over where the free motioning is concerned but I am determined I will get there!!! (My plan over the coming months is practice....practice....practice....) Here's a pic of the right side, the light has been so grey here what with all the rain this month...


The pattern is actually a Christmas one from the Winter 2014 Quilting Celebrations magazine (picture it in green & red with a white background?) and I'm hoping to do a lot more applique projects now I have my amazing fancy sewing machine! I will have to tell you all about her in a separate post sometime...
The last project off the list that I worked on in February was number 8 - the Posy layer cake quilt. Although the top was only pieced last year this quilt has been on it's way for a few years now. It all started when I fell in love with this fabric....



It's called Posy and was designed by Aneela Hooey for Moda in Spring of 2013. The little girl reading, those gorgeous little bunnies? Although (apart from the lilac) these are not my usual colors I fell fast & hard for it. That summer dear hubbie bought me a layer cake of it and in Spring of 2014 we shopped for co-ordinating fabrics at the Edinburgh Quilt Show and during our holiday in the Lake District. At that point I thought I had a quilt pattern picked out for it but actually getting started was way down the list. Fast forward two years (!) and the March/April 2016 McCall's Quilting plopped onto my doormat & I saw this Field of Stars pattern. To be honest the fabrics it's made in really aren't my cup of tea but the pattern behind? Oh yes!!! Best of all it uses 9 1/2" squares between the Ohio Stars which makes it perfect for a layer cakes' 10" squares. Also it was an easy pattern to adapt to get the size of quilt I was looking for. It was pretty quick to piece & I started in on the quilting. I used my walking foot to run diagonal lines through all the Star blocks like this...


Then I free motioned out the layer square squares and stitched in the ditch round both sides of the inner border. Then some more free motioning in the outer border...


I added the binding so it was a little more sturdy for man handling while I did some hand quilting round the stars. I picked 2 colors (pink & lilac) of perle cotton & started big stitch quilting... and then we got warm weather (well it was July!) & it was so hot sitting under this big quilt!!! Into the bag and away it went. February has been many things but hot is not one of them (!) and a little bit of hand stitching snuggled underneath a quilt seemed pretty appealing...


Gradually star by star, row by row, until one night it was finished!!!! At 84" square it is pretty much the biggest thing I can fit on the floor of my sewing room without having to start moving furniture out...


...and about 5 minutes after this pic was taken it jumped right on our bed & has been there ever since! I am SO HAPPY to have it there!!! (I am also really lucky to have a hubbie who doesn't mind sleeping under such a pink, girlie quilt!)
So two months in I have finished 7 projects off the list & 2 more projects have seen progress, I'm so glad I decided to commit to this! I'm off to see what other bloggers have finished off their lists this month at the linky page, have a great week folks!










Friday, 17 February 2017

New Starts

Hello there!
I hope your week is going well? February is speeding along and when we are out and about we are seeing lots of little green shoots heralding the approach of Spring. Although I am itching to start lots of new projects I am making a concerted effort to Be Good and for the most part am sticking to working on projects from The UFO List but there have been a few new starts which have snuck in there too. The first one is my finished New Year's Day New Start for 2017. A little kit by Mill Hill designed by Jim Shore called Snowy Owl Snowman (I also have the Evergreen Snowman kit upstairs waiting for me) he is about half and half cross stitch and beads and very sparkly as a result!



Beads in eleven different colors and two different sizes were inside the kit along with two different needles & there is no way I would've been able to get those petite seed beads on there without that thin-as-a-hair beading needle! Yes, the beads were pretty time consuming, but I am very pleased with the end result & he fitted in perfectly at the end of my January shelf...


I also couldn't resist stitching the little Bebunni free kit that came with The World of Cross Stitching magazine issue 251...


Isn't he a cutie?!! He came with a mount to make him into a card but I decided to make him into a little pillow instead...


...and he is currently sitting happily on my February shelf...


The last new start is somewhat bigger and more of a long term project. Last summer my daughter asked if I could make her a new crochet blanket to fit the bigger bed in her new accommodation. We started looking through patterns and finally settled on the Lacy Flower Granny Square pattern (which is available for free here). Then we needed to pick a color scheme. As she lives over a hundred miles away I decided it would be easier to use Pinterest, picking pins I thought she would like & sending them to her. Have you ever used Pinterest to search for color schemes? WOW! There are SO MANY GORGEOUS combinations out there!!! So much inspiration!! :-) In the end my daughter picked this one...


So I got out my yarn pegs and came up with this...


We wanted seven colors for squares in this blanket so on a recent visit home she added in Clematis from the Stylecraft Special DK range - full details on all the colors she picked are listed on my Ravelry project page here. It's been a while since I crocheted anything beyond basic squares & I had wondered how much concentration these pretty squares would take. Happily I have found the pattern is well written with lots of photos & I have most of it memorized now & am enjoying working these up. I don't know exactly how many I will need as I have a few ideas floating around in my head but I will need a pile of squares before I can start experimenting so for now I'm just making a bunch in all seven colors...


The colors are much nicer together in real life, but this will give you a rough idea (as usual my camera is refusing to represent accurately anything of a purple/lilac nature and I would rather crochet more squares than continue to fight with it!).   
Thank you for visiting me here today and a special thank you to those who take the time to leave a comment, it's lovely to hear from you! Have a great weekend whatever you are up to :-)