Thursday, 31 January 2008

So Much to Tell You!

Well, I was feeling quite relaxed after our trip to Prague, and now I've just jotted down a few things that I want to remember to blog about, and would you believe there is just too much for one post! So I'm going to shamelessly serialise it like a cheap Victorian novel and you'll just have to bear with me for a few days :)

So, first, obviously we've made it back safely from Prague - which was absolutely gorgeous, although fairly grey. It's such a romantic city, no matter what the time of year. I've posted a few photos towards the end of this in case you are interested to see some of the sights of Prague! Some highlights included: flying Swiss Airlines and discovering that the complimentary chocolate that they provide on all their flights is GORGEOUS and definitely not to be missed - see, a helpful tip even if you're not going to Prague LOL; the medieval Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square (or variously Atomic Clock or Astrological Clock, if you are my husband and have difficulty with names); gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous food - we ate so well, and only got away with it because we walked for hours on end during our stay; Charles Bridge; the view over the city and the wonderful quiet solitude on the grounds around the Strahov Monastery; but mainly the chance to spend a quiet and happy few days with H celebrating our 2nd anniversary.

And it wouldn't be a holiday without a bit of stitching stuffed in my rucksack now would it?? Of course it wouldn't! I took along a simple chart in one colour, and even managed to finish it! This is JBW Designs' Christmas Sampler Motif on 36ct Examplar linen from Lakeside Linens using Crescent Colours' Apple Fritter floss (does anyone else wonder about the misnomer 'Apple Fritter' for a maroon/dark cherry coloured skein of floss? One of life's imponderables I suppose).

As I mentioned before we left, I was intending to put in a few stitches on Spanish Wine before we left, which I did do. I finished Band 2 in fact (with the grapes) and started Band 3 (the slim cross stitched band directly beneath it). I do so love this design, and I wish I could spend more time on it - that, however, would mean signing up for less exchanges. Such a difficult balance to strike!

I don't think I actually posted my goals for January - but I did have a small list of them, all of which I'm quite pleased to say I achieved! I'll post my February Goals in part 2 of this post.


Stitch, finish and send SBEBB Winter House Exchange - Yes, I did this

Stitch, finish and send Hooked on Exchanging Scissor Fob Exchange - Yes, I did this (photos in Part 2)

Stitch an ornament with Leena - Yes, I did this (in fact I did 2!)

Stitch a gift, and start another - Yes, I did this, one is ready to go and the other is firmly started

Initiate a Crazy Exchange - Yes, I sent Virpi an exchange (photos in Part 2)

Carry on stitching Awake the Dawning Day - Yes, I spent one day on this

Carry on stitching Spanish Wine - Yes, I spent one day on this

Carry on stitching Paradigm Lost with the Snowbird SAL - Yes, I did this each week

Oh, and just before I go, one small piece of indulgence: despite my rigorous (yeah, right) attempts at sorting out my small stash acquisition tendency, I treated myself to a gorgeous new pattern today and linen for it as well - although it won't arrive until after it's formally released. It's Shores of Hawk Run Hollow by Carriage House Samplings and isn't it gorgeous!! (Photo courtesy of the Carriage House Samplings website)

Right, Part 2 of this post will be available in a day or two :) In the meantime, Happy Stitching, and enjoy the photos of Prague:

Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square

Charles Bridge - above, facing the eastern tower, and below, the view of the Charles Bridge from the next bridge over

Above - Prague Castle at night, and below, the main gates of the castle the next day. Below that, we managed to be just in time to catch the changing of the guard

Above: a typical street sign in Prague (incidentally, this street was the one in which Kafka was born, obviously subsequently renamed!). Below: trams are the main method of travel for Prazaks

Friday, 25 January 2008

Paradigm Lost Update and A HOLIDAY!

So this weekend is the weekend we go on holiday - hurrah!!! I'm so excited - I really hope the hotel I've booked in Prague is a nice one :)

Before I go check out the weather and start to plan my wardrobe and packing session (I am trialling doing this the night before after nearly causing us to miss our flights to Dublin over Christmas by getting absorbed in a quilting book the morning of the flight and having to throw a few inadequate things in a bag, shower, wake H who also had to shower and pack, all 10 minutes before the taxi arived - whoops!), I thought I would do one last post to update my weekly SAL progress on Paradigm Lost:

As well, I've finished two Crazy Exchange pieces and intend to get them in the post very soon - I will share photos when I can.

I'm hoping to actually get to spend a couple of hours on Spanish Wine tonight - which I haven't picked up since December (or maybe even November!) so no tarrying - have a lovely weekend everyone, and I'll catch up with you on my return!

Happy stitching!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Ornament SAL

This weekend was the occasion of my little mini-SAL with Leena - we are going to stitch an ornament a month in the hopes of having a tidy little pile of Christmas ornaments around Christmas time, without the usual last-minute frenzy of trying to stitch them all after Thanksgiving. And I can always use a bit of Christmas cheer, no matter what the calendar is actually telling me!

Here is what I stitched this weekend - it's the Blue Ribbon Designs' contribution to the 2007 JCS ornament issue, and is called 'A Wish for Hope and Peace' - I've stitched it pretty much as charted, just changing the linen slightly as this was in my stash:

Also, I'm just about to send off my first Hooked on Exchanging exchange - it's a scissors fob this time around, and it hasn't really got very far to go so I hope my partner likes what I've stitched.
And just a quick hello to some of the new people I've noticed reading my blog - welcome! In my usual haphazard fashion, I'll be over to your blogs soon to have a look at what you're up to!
Happy stitching!

Friday, 18 January 2008

Working on a WIP

I finally got to work on a WIP this month - hurrah! This week I pulled out Awake the Dawning Day and stitched some windows and some house. One day I'll actually finish this amidst all the exchange and secret stitching that I'm currently embroiled in! Here's my progress:

Thursday is my Snowbird SAL night for Paradigm Lost - I'm still doggedly stitching the massive medallion on the right, and probably have a few weeks yet to finish it.

I'm also happy to report that we did eventually (!) book our anniversary holiday, so we're headed off to Prague for 4 days at the end of the month. H hasn't ever been to Prague before and I haven't been for several years, so we're both really looking forward to our well-earned break!

And, lastly, Cheryl asked about the tray that I made for Nicki - I certainly didn't come up with this myself and credit must go where it's due: I used the extremely helpful Focus on Finishing site and followed the links to the tutorials and found Barbara's tutorial on basket finishing which I used as a basis for making the tray - I hope it helps!

Right, now I'm off to enjoy my weekend and also stitch some ornaments with Leena - it's the third weekend of the month and we've decided to stitch some Christmas ornaments in our own little SAL - in the hopes that we'll have a stack of them ready for next Christmas. Time will tell :)
Happy stitching and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 14 January 2008

SBEBB - More firsts!

Oooooh, I was SO excited on Saturday - the postman rang the bell and that means only one thing - something too big for the letter slot! And that means, only one more thing - fun things come in big packets :)

And so it proved, as he handed me a packet from Carol. Well, I knew this had to be good, and I had barely closed the door before I had ripped it all open (carefully, of course!). And this is what she sent me for my first SBEBB exchange, the Winter House exchange: a simply gorgeous pinkeep!

She tells me it's a Lizze*Kate design, and I love it - doesn't the red colour just jump off the stitching? It's sitting behind me now as I type, and I can't stop myself from turning around to look at every so often :) She also sent me a truckload of goodies - scrummy bubble bath, sweets, some spring-y linen and DMC to chase the grey away, a gorgeous scissors fob and a Drawn Thread chart off my wish list which is ever so kind of her - she even included some felt for the chart which is just perfect - thank you so much Carol, I have so enjoyed this exchange! Oh, and even better, contrary to my last post, the SBEBB is staying open, thanks to some lovely stitchers (including Carol) so I can look forward to even more wonderful exchanges (I went and signed up for one or two more already LOL!).
Also on Saturday (this is one of the things I love about living in the UK, post on Saturday!), Nicki let me know that she'd recieved the Winter House exchange I sent her. Here is a quick photo, but the ones she has posted on her blog are far better, so click on over to her if you are interested. I stitched her Bent Creek 'Redbird' and finished it into a tray - it was my first attempt at this kind of finish (ha ha, the beauty of being fairly new to stitching, you get to jump in the deep end an awful lot :) and I think it turned out okay - Nicki says she loves it, which is the main thing!
Now, I think that's nearly enough excitement for one weekend :) Although we were meant to book a holiday for ourselves for our upcoming anniversary, we didn't remember to do it - stupid people eh??? Well, it'll get done when I have a few minutes spare at work. Maybe our forgetfulness will mean we can get a cheap last-minute deal ;)
Happy stitching and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Phew, It's Gone!

Phew! This past week has seen frenzied activity with my needle in an effort not to miss the sending date for the SBEBB Winter House Exchange. This is my very first SBEBB exchange, and because Becky is closing the board for health reasons, it'll also be my last! No excuse for missing the date though, so after quite a few late nights on the trot, it's all done and H kindly took it to work to wrap it up in bubble wrap and find a suitable box, and then took it to the post office and sent it off. Now hopefully it will arrive both soon and safely! Photos, of course, when I can :)

Tonight is the Snowbird SAL, and as H was off at a late work meeting, I had an early dinner and then got down to it with my needle - I think I've made splendid progress if I say so myself! I thought this medallion on the right was going to take me weeks and weeks, but now I think it will merely be weeks.

Also, I don't think I have posted a photo of the Fair & Square (round 4) squares that I sent to Annemarie - in the hustle and bustle and holiday over Christmas and New Year, I plain forgot that she let me know that they arrived! I stitched a Quieter Moments design called Flower Sprinkles over 1 as I know that An is making a quilt out of her squares, and so I wanted to stitcher her something 'quilty'.

And, since An had mentioned on her blog that she wasn't going to have time to stitch any ornaments for herself this year, I snuck in a quick ornament for her tree:

Our second anniversary is fast approaching (2 weeks on Monday) and we are meant to be going away on a short holiday - which we still haven't booked! That will be this weekend's job, and a very important one!

Happy stitching!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

2007 Review and 2008 Goals

Hi everyone - thanks for all your lovely Christmas messages over the holiday period! I'm now back from holidays and back to my computer (and my needle!).

I thought before we get too far into January, a review of 2007 would be a good idea - it was a big year for me stitching-wise! I had a lot of firsts - my first ever major finish (Mirabilia - Titania, Queen of the Fairies), my first ever exchange, my first ever PIF, my first ever SAL, my first ever biscornu, my first ever scissors fob, my first...well, I only started stitching in August 2006, so 2007 was definitely a big one for me! (You can see what I've been up to in 2007 here.) And of course, the very best bit was starting up this blog and meeting some very special people - thank you all for making my blogging, my stitching, and my life a wonderful place!

Okay, enough looking back. Onwards and upwards! For 2008, I've identified the following goals for myself:

1. Stitch at least one Christmas ornament a month. Leena has kindly agreed to be my SAL partner in this, so we're going to try and keep to this one weekend a month.

2. Stitch a least one Crazy Exchange a month. This is such a fantastic group of stitchers, knitters, quilters and crafters - I believe still open for membership so give it a try, it's such fun!

3. No more big starts until one of either Spanish Wine or Paradigm Lost is finished. It's so daunting seeing something huge in my pile of WIPs, I'm determined to keep at least the huge starts to a minimum (you will see that I haven't limited myself in terms of smaller designs!)

4. Stay on top of blogging, and reading your blogs - now that I've got a home computer, this should be a straightforward task....shouldn't it?? :)

5. Don't sign up to too many exchanges - being a fairly new stitcher, I'm still slow enough, and deadlines can stress me out, so I'm going to try to be sensible about it.

6. Stick to my stash budget!!! (Probably the most difficult of all my goals!)
7. (This is actually not a stitching goal, but it's crafting, so it counts!) Learn to quilt.

And, because I simply can't have a post without a photo or two, here are two ornaments I finished in time for Christmas. The first was for my sister out in Vancouver for her tree:

Design: Partridge in a Pear Tree by Prairie Schooler

Threads: DMC

Linen: 32ct cream

The second is my return Crazy Exchange for Saskia - you may remember the fabulous stitched box full of tea she sent me in late November. This is what I stitched in return for her, as I know she has a soft spot for Bent Creek designs - modelled below by my Christmas tree, which I have just finished taking down for yet another year *sniff*.

Design: The Villa by Bent Creek

Threads: WDW and GAST as charted

Linen: 32ct (I can't remember what now, I think it was CountryStitches linen!)

Wishing you all a happy, safe and successful 2008 - and of course Happy Stitching!