Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Headed south

Hello there!
Today I thought it was about time I brought you another instalment from our North American travels last Fall. If you missed them (or would like a reminder) you can see previous posts from our trip herehereherehere, & here.
Our week in Canada flew by & soon it was time to head south once again. We split our drive down to Montana over two days, firstly covering the 290 miles from Edmonton to Fort Macleod, and then the 465 miles from Fort Macleod to Helena. Some of our family came along for part of the drive with us & we were having so much fun together the first day we forgot to take any photos! The second day we did much better with the camera stopping at a few notable places along the route including Leitch Collieries...


This was a fascinating look at part of Canada's industrial past, an ambitious mining project utilising technologies that were cutting edge for the time it was doomed to fail within eight years (the final nail in the coffin being World War I). The whole story about the project and the people who lived, worked, & died there was laid out on information boards around the site so that the only thing we felt we were missing out on by it not being officially "open" were the restrooms!
A little further into the Crowsnest Pass the next stop was Frank Slide. This was a place I really wanted to share with Hubbie as it had left a big impression on me as a small child. You can read the whole terrifying story here but basically this is where the deadliest landslide in Canadian history occurred just after 4am on April 29 1903. Three quarters of the town of Frank disappeared beneath a huge slab of Turtle Mountain and (apart from a pretty new looking Interpretive Center) the site remains eerily unchanged...


Once through the Crowsnest Pass we crossed into the province of British Columbia...
...and continued down Highway 3 past the town of Sparwood, home to the world's largest truck - Titan. Built for the mining industry in the 1960's it can haul 350 tons (& for those of us for whom that is just a number it means you can fit several buses in the back with space!) With many miles still to cover we didn't stop for a proper visit, just snapped this pic & went "wow that's big!" as we passed...
We left the last of our Canadian family in the small town of Fernie and a little further down Highway 3 came to this turning...
From here it was about 25 miles to the border & the landscape opened out as we bid farewell to Canada and headed into the beautiful scenery of north western Montana...


Driving predominantly southwards through Whitefish & Kalispell we reached the western shores of Flathead Lake. This is the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi & one of the cleanest in the populated world for it's size and type. The scenery here is on such a scale that it is hard to do it justice with a little camera. This a stunningly beautiful area which I hope we will be able to explore properly one day but at least we got a glimpse this time around...

The daylight was fading as we neared the town of Polson at the southern end of the lake, this was about the last photo we got for the day with the imposing Mission Mountains in the background...
We stopped to refuel the car & us, there was still another 185 miles to go before we would reach our beds for the night (added to slightly when I misread the sat nav as we joined the I90 and we ended up driving west instead of east till the next available exit!). It had been a long day by the time we reached Helena but definitely worth it, I hope you enjoyed seeing the highlights :-)
Thank you for visiting with me today, I hope to be back later in the week with another crafty post. Have a great week! 





Friday, 24 April 2015

A few little stitches

Hello there!
How has your week been? We have been enjoying some beautiful summery days here in the north of Scotland & I have been making the most of sitting outside the back door in the warm sunshine stitching away. I have also been busy in the garden & the greenhouse & wanted to share some of that with you today but I can't find the pics so that will need to wait for another post.
Sometimes I think finishes are a bit like buses, you don't get one for a while & then a whole bunch come along at once! This week has been a bit like that, starting off with another Christmas finish (I know, how seasonal right?!). This is a little kit that I couldn't resist at the Quilt Show last year & I jumped right into it when we returned from this years' show having delivered the quilt from hell  Geek Quilt to my son. It's produced by Rachel's of Greenfield who have some lovely designs available as both kits & patterns. This is the first time I have ever worked from a kit like this & I would say that for me the jury is out as to whether I would buy a kit or just the pattern in the future. On the plus side you do get all materials you need to complete it (so no hunting around for fabrics that work together) but they might not be the exact same as the fabrics pictured on the cover & a few of mine weren't. I swapped out the cream fabric supplied for the snowman's head and body as I felt there wasn't enough contrast with the background fabric plus I wanted a white snowman! Also you have to be really careful when you cut your pieces as you don't have much margin for error - I started cutting the black pieces in the order listed & discovered that was not the same as "biggest piece first" which sent me running to my stash for some more black! (Lucky I have plenty of plain black left over from that Geek Quilt huh?!) Well you live & learn & once it came to the actual sewing I really loved working on this! Very little of it used a sewing machine, oh I know a lot of applique methods are so much quicker but I thoroughly enjoyed all the hand sewing involved with the traditional needleturn applique (that link leads to an excellent tutorial on it by the way). After all, this little guy had sat on my shelf for a year so there was no big hurry! Once all the pieces were attached it was time to give him eyes & a smile. I decided to use some shiny black buttons from my stash instead of embroidering the eyes as the directions suggested. Then it was on to the hand quilting, this time following the suggestion of using a dark red thread for all of it. I wasn't too sure about this but figured it would be easy enough to unpick if I didn't like it and wanted to go another way. I also thought this would take me a lot longer to complete but, sitting in the sunshine with my non melting snowman friend, it seemed to fly by! All of a sudden it was time to sew the binding on (which I did use the sewing machine for) & then one final bit of hand sewing to attach the binding on the back & he was done! I am really happy with how he has turned out!

 
I think this is now my favorite method of applique, I felt it was gentler & more controlled than doing fusible applique on the sewing machine. You can really take your time over the trickier bits rather than having the machine rush you, & let's face it, it's much easier to unpick a few hand stitches than a bunch of tight machine zigzag! So until I get more practised at other methods I think this will be my go to method... 
My second finish this week is the Somebunny to Love design which I have been working on since January. Part way into stitching  the second bunny I realised I had made a huge mistake & cut the fabric too small (I have no clue how & can't remember when I last did that!). Rather than take out a whole bunny and a bit Hubbie & I decided to make these bunnies into a wall hanging rather than put them in a picture frame because that will take a lot less fabric round the sides of the design. So right now they are all washed & pressed & I'm deciding on a fabric to use for round the edges, this is my current favorite - what do you think?

I also thought it would be kinda fun for you to see how this grew so every time I finished stitching on it I snapped a photo on my phone. Here they are put together into a little video - enjoy!

video

I hope that works ok? I'm not particularly techy & haven't tried anything like that before so please let me know what you think!
While I was sorting out what to stitch next I remembered the stitching I started on our trip last fall. I had planned to make this advent calender for Little H for Christmas but got hardly any done the whole time we were away...
The pattern is from an old issue of Crazy magazine and has been on my "to stitch" pile for a few years! Well once I realised it wouldn't be ready for Christmas 2014 I put it away but the other day I thought maybe I should try & stitch a couple of motifs a week now & then it really should be ready for this year!! So this is how far I have gotten now.... 
...four down, twenty to go... I gridded out the aida with a blue washable fabric marker so each design will go in a box & then once they are all done I can cut them out. I've never worked this way before but figured it would make the best use of the fabric & if the pen doesn't wash out for some reason it won't really matter as all the squares will need trimmed down anyways. It feels very strange not working from the center of the fabric, working each design in the confines of a little box (even though I measured & remeasured I am scared at the start of each new one that it won't fit!), & working with a big bit of fabric in my hand & no hoop (that will probably change as I move across the fabric) - I will let you know how this goes!
Finally I have a new start to share with you. I fell in love with this Lizzie Kate chart the instant I saw it online, and couldn't believe my luck when I spied it for sale in a needlework store in Canada on our travels!
It's called Promise Me & is a quote from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree by A.A Milne that Christopher Robin says to Pooh Bear. I plan on stitching it twice, once for my daughter & once to hang on my sewing room wall. This time round I am stitching it on 16 count aida in a mushroomy color that I had in my stash & using the DMC equivalent colors rather than the speciality threads listed on the chart. The 16 count keeps it the same size as the suggested 32 count linen (I think my eyes/head would totally baulk at that!!) and looks less obviously aida than the bigger 14 count I think? This is where I am after one day spent on it...
Do you think I'm enjoying this so far?! I am loving the softer, older color palette, and the simpler sampler style of it & if it wasn't for things like cooking, laundry, & walking the dog I could spend all day every day just sat with this! But then I guess we wouldn't appreciate the time we do get to sit & stitch? Well I hope you enjoyed your visit here today, I hope you have a lovely weekend doing something you love too!







Saturday, 18 April 2015

With my needle (and my hook)

Hello there!
I hope you have all had a lovely Easter time? Here in the Highlands we have had some lovely sunny weather, just right for Little H to hunt for Easter eggs in our garden, and just right for sitting outside doing a little crafting in the sun :-) In my last post I showed you the sock lamb I made for Little H, this is the little crochet bunny I made for his brother for Easter...
It's taken from the very first amigurumi book I bought, (available here) & I really enjoyed working from it once again :-) I used Lily Sugar & Cream yarn so he will be really washable, always a good idea when using pale colors for little peoples' toys!
I also managed to get this little guy stitched up for my daughter for Easter...
She has loved pigs since she was little & so when I came across this design in an old issue of Cross Stitch Collection magazine I knew it was perfect for her. I stitched it on butterfly aida & used some piggy ribbon & polka dot fabrics in yellow & green to finish it as a little hanging pillow.

As you might have guessed from my scarcity of posts so far this year my migraines have not been behaving very well. When my head has been clear I have been itching to stitch over pretty much everything else so I have seized the opportunities and tried to make the most of them. In January I stitched this for my cousin's daughter's birthday...
The design is from an issue of WOCS magazine, and seemed perfect for her as she & her mom have a grumble of pugs (yup, that's the proper name for a bunch of them!). Unfortunately it appears that somewhere between Royal Mail & Canada Poste this has gotten lost in the mail, tracking numbers don't work when going from one postal service to another, & there doesn't seem anything I can do about it other then keep fingers crossed it shows up somewhere... 
Towards my goal of completing a Christmas project a month I stitched up two little cover kits and made them into cards...
The little robin is from an old Crossstitcher magazine and Boofle is from a WOCS magazine (I think?)
While my box of cover kits was out I found two designs that were perfect for Mother's Day (which is in March here in the UK). They are both from the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady range which my mother likes and I often stitch for her. One was a bookmark design...
...and the other I made into a card...
Since January I have also been putting some stitches into a big Somebunny to Love design for Hubbie. The design is called Follow My Leader & this is what it will look like eventually...
This is where I am up to now, just started the back stitch... 
This was meant to be for Valentines Day so is a little late! But I am hopeful to have it finished in the next week if my head behaves... 
Well today the blue sky is beckoning me out to the garden so I am going to go enjoy this weather while it lasts. I hope you have a lovely weekend doing something you like :-)