Friday, 29 July 2011


I have finished the Royal Guard - i really don't know where the "couple of hours" came from that the magazine claimed it should take, but it was quite good fun to do anyway.

The eyes are not right though - they should be French knots, but i simply cannot master them at the moment - am going to have another practice at the weekend on some scrap aida - i have to be able to do some of these other stitch types if i am to progess. I also found the backstitching quite hard to do - something else that i need to practice to get perfect...

I didn't do any to the big project last night, and so far tonight i haven't picked it up either. I did get some gold plated needles yesterday, and used one to finish off the guard - they really do make it easier than plain nickel ones. Who would have guessed it?

Sally suggested that i try linking this to Make It Monday to share it with other crafters. Hope you like it!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Last day off for a while

The bug really seems to have bitten - not only did i spend a couple of hours on the big project last night, but i also took a little one to bed with me to carry on with before i went to sleep! It is a small image of a palace guard from one of this months cross stitch magazines. It claims that it should only take a couple of hours, but either that is very optimistic or i am still very slow!

Today is my last day off work for a few weeks, as my boss goes away on holiday this weekend for three weeks. So, i had a bit of a lay-in and carried on with the guard for a while before i got up.

Once up and about, i decided to go to Hobbycraft to have a look at the needlework hoops. I ended up getting three different sizes - i was shocked at how cheap they were - usually anything to do with crafts or hobbies are so expensive, but these were only a couple of pounds each, so i was pleasantly surprised. I also got a needle threader (a HUGE thank you to whoever invented these - i love you!) and a small black plastic box to store all my bits and bobs in. Sally had asked me to look for some blending pencils for her, which i found, so it was a successful shopping trip.

Back home i tried out the hoops, and boy do they make life so much easier! I am very glad i got them, and managed to get some more done on the big project.

A brief interlude for lunch, when Stuart and i went to Baginton to the pub by the airport (can't remember what it is called) - we hadn't been there for some years, and it has changed and improved dramatically. I had my usual burger, although this one came with the option to "build your own", so i had it with bacon, brie, mushrooms and potato rostie. It was absolutely delicious! We will have to go there again. The airport was earily quiet though - i only heard one small plane the whole time we were there.

After lunch, i carried on with my needlework, and thanks to some lovely sunshine and the hoop, i got quite a lot done today. I did break off to do some ironing, which i think was a good idea as my eyes were starting to feel a bit tired.

Here is where i am with it now - the first picture is from last night (day 3), the second from this afternoon (day 4) - i might do some more to it before i go to bed......

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

At last......the secret revealed!!!!

Yes, at last i can show you my other finished cross stitch project..........
a very cute doggie bookmark.

The reason i couldn't share this with you before is that it was a surprise present for Sally's mum, Beryl, and i know that she looks at this blog quite often, and i didn't want her to see it before i gave it to her.

I posted it out to her yesterday, and she received it today, so now i can show everyone what it is.

There are a few errors on it, as you can see on the right hand side on the dark brown of the ear, where the thread got a bit tangled and doubled up for a few stitches. I think i have solved that particular issue now - it just required a slight adjustment of my technique.

Also, if i were to do this one again, i would do it all with two threads rather than the one it says in the instructions - i did the hearts and the text with two threads, and think that they look much better than the  rest of it which is done in single threads as instructed.

The whole thing looked a bit bland until the back stitching was done on the dog's face and body - it really gives it another dimension, and i am very glad that i made the effort to do it, as i wasn't convinced there was any point, but how wrong was i?!

I also stitched some brown felt onto the back of the bookmark rather than just ironing on the white stuff that came with the kit - it not only hides all the mess on the reverse of the work, but i thought it would give it a bit more durability too.

I think Beryl quite likes it, and i hope she enjoys using it - i know that she reads an awful lot, so when i saw the kit in Hobbycraft, i immediately thought of her and simply couldn't resist it!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Can you see what it is yet? (or day 2 update....)

Thanks to Sally publicising my blog, i have had new visitors and new followers, so a big "hello & welcome" to the newcomers! Thanks for taking the time to read my waffles and laugh at my pictures.

Yes, i finally made a start on the cross stitch last night, and did a couple of hours, and have done the same tonight after work, and the photo shows the progress so far.....

It may not look much, but this is better than no start at all, and was surprisingly complicated - it may all look the same, but there are two different sets of colours in there already - no, i can't see the difference much either!!

You are probably wondering why i have started at the top left of the image rather than in the centre as is the usual way. Well, the centre of the image is very complex, with small areas of lots of different colours, and i wanted to start on an "easy" section with large areas of the the same colour, just to get my confidence up.

Most of the sky areas are just half cross stitches rather than full ones, but some of the area i have done so far used 3 strands (2 of one colour blue, and 1 of a slightly different colour....or so the chart claims), and some of it uses 2 strands of the same colour.

So far, so good. I have made one small error though, but without the chart, a magnifier and far too much spare time on your hands you would never know! I guess that 27 years of experience of engraving and sometimes having to hide one's mistakes has paid off!! ;-)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Well, someone has a sense of humour (or....Aaaargghh! What have i Done?)

After a few hours of contemplation this afternoon, and a little bit of persuasion from Sally, i finally opened up my big cross stitch project packaging. I have to admit to being more than a little nervous - this wouldn't be the first time i have taken on a project only to find that i have "bitten off more than i can chew".

Upon opening the package, i found the "huge" piece of aida, a ton of threads and the charts. I was a little dismayed to find that the threads were not pre-sorted. This is where the "someone has a sense of humour" comes in.......i am colour deficient on blues! Not exactly colour blind, but i find it VERY hard to tell the difference between certain blues and purples.

Now when quite a few of the 27 different coloured threads call themselves shades of blues and purples, i knew that i had quite a job on my hands. It has taken me a while, but i have done it, and hope that i have gotten them right. With some of them it was purely down to the list telling me how many of each i should have - i couldn't have done it without that extra bit of information!

The charts gave me palpitations when i first looked at them, but having looked again, they are not really that bad - the fact that there are more colours simply means that there are more symbols - it isn't as bad as it first seems. I have scanned and printed the charts out a bit larger as well, which will make it easier to mark them off as i do it, plus i won't be marking on the original charts just in case.

I have marked the aida out into quarters using blue thread to help me with the layout and counting. I know that this isn't strictly necessary, but i felt that it would make my life easier, especially as i have done this in "5s", so counting the holes will be nice and simple.

All i need to do now is actually make a start on it! I am trying to pluck up the courage now.......

Another little project finished

Yes, another little (well, tiny would be a more accurate description!) project is finished.
This was a freebie from a cross stitch magazine - there are two more similar ones still to be done from the same issue.

I still can't show you the other one i mentioned, even though it is now 100% finished. Hopefully on Tuesday i will be able to though.......oooo, the suspense!! ;-)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

A Stitch in time.....

So, it has been very quiet from me on here since our holiday - just what have i been up to?

Well, work has been keeping me busy as usual, but i have also been keeping myself busy during the evening and weekends......

Back when i was at secondary school, we used to have to do various arts and crafts once a week. We would have to spend six weeks at a time on each of them before moving onto the next one, the crafts involved being Woodwork, Metalwork, Cookery, Pottery and Needlework.

I hated pottery - i was hopeless at it and didn't like getting covered in wet clay! I liked metalwork to a degree, woodwork i enjoyed a lot, but wasn't really very good at it, and cookery was a waste of time as there was rarely a teacher to take the class. In fact, eventually my mum wrote to the school and asked them to take me out of the cookery classes. I think the school thought they were getting revenge of some kind by putting me instead back into the needlework lessons. Little did they know, this was actually my favourite of the subjects, and the one i was best at!!

When i was growing up, mum was always sewing or knitting something, so i had become accustomed to some of the things anyway, and has always been very interested in her sewing machine, so much so that i had long been making silly little things on it, like drawstring money bags for people to keep their carparking change in in their cars.

I had made a cushion during my previous six week stint in needlework, but this time around, we were taught cross stitch. I took to this like a duck to water, and made a thing with my CB radio callsign on it (Pink Floyd), some other CB radio text and motifs and a border all the way around it. I even took it home to complete it. At the end of the six weeks, the teacher took what she considered to be the best to show the headmaster - mine was one of them - she was particularly impressed with how neatly i had finished the back of it off!

Apart from sewing buttons on, minor repairs and alterations, i haven't done any needlework since i left school, but the idea has often been at the back of my mind. When Sally took up crocheting on holiday, it made me think again about having another go, and so i have......

I have so far done four little projects, have a few more to start and have bought my first big project piece, which will no doubt take me an age to do, but should be worth the effort.

Here's what i have done so far:-

The fourth one, you will have to wait a few days to see - for reasons that will become clear......