Monday, 26 January 2009

A Whole Lotta Update (and lots of photos)

This may be a long post, so I’ll start with the stitchy bits first, and move on to the holiday bits second.

I didn’t think that I was going to have a chance to stitch with Leena in December for our monthly ornament SAL, but in the end I did get to stitch an ornament – mainly on the plane on the way over – although not strictly speaking on the weekend we normally stitch on.

Design: Snowman, House and Rabbit, from Snowmen and Santas leaflet, Prairie Schooler
Stitched on: 32ct ‘Acorn’ linen by Country Stitches
Stitched with: DMC

And then two weekends ago (the third weekend of the month) it was time again to pick up my Christmas needle and choose something stitch along with Leena.

Design: Star Bright Snowman, Ewe & Eye & Friends
Stitched on: 28ct Jubilee ‘Seabird’ by Country Stitches
Stitched with: DMC

I chose to stitch this quirky snowman, and I stitched it over one – it was my first time stitching on Jubilee linen, and it sure is easy stitching over 1 on it: not only is it an evenweave, but it’s quite heavy compared with normal linen as well, so it doesn’t pull out of shape when stitching over 1. I think I’m going to attempt to finish this off into a star-shaped ornament, but that could prove tricky given its very small size (it’s about 2-1/2 inches square).

I also managed to finish Sailing Home for my boss’s little baby – he’s 5 months old tomorrow, which isn’t so bad really for a gift is it?! Not in my world :) I have yet to frame it, and of course give it to her. I’m hoping to get to the framer’s this weekend.

Design: Sailing Home by Blackbird Designs
Stitched on: 32ct Examplar by Lakeside Linens
Stitched with: GAST and DMC

January also saw me finish a little design for myself - in the spirit of 2009 selfish stitching (well, it's worth a try?). I stitched Love by Birds of a Feather - originally intending it to be a scissor fob for my love scissors, but it's come out a bit big, so I think it might be destined to wind up as a pinkeep, or possibly a tin top for some rectangular tins I have in my stash.

Design: Love by Birds of a Feather
Stitched on: 36ct Summer Khaki linen
Stitched with: GAST

I also finished off 2 little projects in December before we flew off to Canada which I didn’t have time to post about:

First, the AMAP Pinkeep which I’ve embarrassingly been stitching since August 2007! Yes, it was always the first thing to be put aside when something more urgent (like an exchange, or, well, like anything I preferred stitching) came along, mainly because I didn’t particularly enjoy stitching with the Vikki Clayton silk, and also because I stitched over 1 on 32ct fabric – and there’s a lot of stitching in this one.

Design: Victorian Quaker Pinkeep, A Mon Ami Pierre
Stitched on: 32ct Tundra linen by Country Stitches
Stitched with: Vikki Clayton Silk

And, secondly, I finished off a tin for myself – this was originally going to be for Vonna for the SBEBB Here’s to Ewe Exchange last April, but I attached the stitching so badly to the top (it’s very off-centre) that I decided to put this one aside and stitched her another one. So we finally finished a tin of lemon sweets, and I duly washed up the tin and attached the crooked stitching :)

Design: Two Friends by Drawn Thread
Stitched on: 32ct ‘Raw’ linen
Stitched with: DMC

And that’s about it for the stitching-only crowd, the next part of this post is going to be about our wonderful holiday back to Vancouver and Vancouver Island for 3½ weeks over Christmas and New Year.

I’d been telling H for months that he wasn’t to expect snow during our trip, because South Western BC doesn’t get much snow, and if by strange chance it did snow, it would be there and gone in a matter of days. How wrong I was! This is what happened over the first few days as we stayed with my sister and her boyfriend in Vancouver:

Yep, that’s snow all right, and plenty of it. And contrary to what I’d been telling H, it didn’t just go away quickly – in fact, it didn’t go away at all and we had snow the entire time we were there. It’s quite pretty to look at, but frankly it gets a bit dull trying to slog your way through it, particularly when the snowploughs don’t come around often enough.

H practised his snow shovelling, and realised just how tiring it can be, particularly when you get a lot of snow immediately after you shovel!

After a few days in Vancouver (plus one extra because another big dump of snow kept us on the mainland), we headed over to Vancouver Island to meet up with mum and dad. H got to show off his snow shovelling skills in very cold weather…

…and unfortunately did such a good job getting the snow off that he uncovered all the ice on the drive, and dad slipped on the ice and we had an unscheduled trip to the emergency room at the local hospital. He’s fine – some pulled muscles and I think now pretty much recovered – but H then decided it might be prudent to pour an entire 50-lb bag of salt on the drive (that’s about enough salt to last for a few years). Got rid of the ice though ;) And it also meant that I was on dogwalking duty for the next two weeks. But the dogs are so cute, how could I complain?!

Christmas morning we woke up to more snow and no electricity (thankfully it came back on before the turkey needed to go in):

…and Santa was very generous this year – we’d obviously been very good! My mum had been super crafty busy in the run up to Christmas and not only managed to quilt us all a placemat (which will never be used to hold a plate full of food, because they are so gorgeous), and she personalised them all too. H’s is all about golf, and mine has cross stitching on it – isn’t she great?!

She and I were also busy knitting – mum knitted fancy scarves for me, my sister and herself…

…and I’d been busy knitting one for H:

[My Gram taught me to knit when I was a small child (I think I must have been about 7 or 8), and, apart from a lot of ‘scarves’ for dolls in very holey garter stitch, I have never ever finished a knitted project. But I quite enjoyed knitting H’s scarf, so I’ve found a few patterns on the internet, bought some needles and notions, and of course had plenty of fun choosing all sorts of pretty yarns to knit with. I’m intending to use some of my three-hour round trip commute each day to knit.]

Mum had also managed to get me lots of crafty gifts for Christmas in her bid to make a quilter out of me – cutting mat, rulers, cutting blades, fabric – I’m now totally set for my (other) new hobby :)

And, we got the BEST Christmas present ever – when H and I got married in January 2006, mum had made a number of small quilt patches that all the guests signed at the wedding, instead of having a guest book, with a view to making us a wedding quilt. Now, things can either go two ways with mum and these sorts of projects – they can be done in two days or two decades, so I wasn’t expecting to be presented with this:


Above - the central blocks, and you can see the signatures along the white strips

Below - the sides of the quilt

Above - corner detail

Below - more detail of the sides

Above - the backing, and detail of the quilting - it's heart-shaped!

Below: the quilt on our bed

It’s just the most amazing thing – we totally love it. And mum made matching pillowslips and also is in the process of making 2 matching pillow covers – isn’t she just the most talented EVER??

I thought I’d take advantage of that talent, so I brought along these quilt squares that I’d been working on (remember these?):

I hadn’t done much to them since making them much earlier in 2008 (in the Spring I think), as I’d kind of fallen out of love with them and didn’t really know how to continue. So she taught me a masterclass and I watched her quilt and sew and stitch away, and now I’m set to finish them off (with a lot of help!). She decided that we would make two ‘sofa runners’ out of 4 of the squares, and 2 pillow covers from the remaining two. I won’t show photos yet, because I’m hoping that it won’t be long before I finish them (I need to bind one, and then make the second, and finish off the first pillow cover and make the second). Oh, and I also bought all the fabric I’d need to make another quilt – hopefully this one I’ll not fall out of love with and manage to finish it by the end of 2009. (That sounds suspiciously like a goal, although I’ve sworn I’m not going to set any this year, but I’m going to leave it in anyway, just in case.)

So, that was about it really – we caught up with friends, stayed in a lot, played cards, stitched, watched hockey, quilted, listened to Christmas music, watched several films, did a fair bit of shopping (H is now the proud new owner of several warm pieces of clothing: 4 toques, one pair of earwarmers, 3 scarves, 4 pairs of gloves/mitts, one winter jacket, one pair of heavy duty socks, and one pair of long johns). It was SO relaxing.

And now back to reality and jobs and work and suchlike. Apparently today is the bluest Monday of them all, but actually I’m feeling okay today, and looking forward to the weekend and a trip down to the Kent coast to visit friends.

I’m not going to set many stitching goals for 2009 – I think this year is going to be the year of selfish stitching and relaxed stitching. Last year I got a bit over-keen with exchanges, and ended up stitching and finishing in a blind panic half the time, so this year I’m going to take it easy, stitch a lot for myself, only do the odd exchange, and hopefully finish some of the bigger things I’m stitching, as well as lots of smaller stuff. Let’s see how it goes :)

But for now, this is probably (more than) enough, so Happy New Year again to you all, and here’s to a year full of happy stitching!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Phew, we're back! My brain is still a bit mushy from the jetlag (it seems to take longer the older I get), and I'm feeling fair knackered after my first day back at work today.

We had a brilliant time in BC, and I'll update you with photos and tales over the next few days, but first things first. I found these lovely squares waiting for me from the lovely Dani when we got back this weekend from Fair and Square Round 10:

I'd asked for something Christmassy and, well, she certainly delivered! The colours are so vibrant, I absolutely love this design - so thank you so much Dani and apologies again that it's taken me so long to let you know they arrived safely.

I hope you all had a peaceful and happy holiday season, and wishing you a healthy and happy 2009!

Happy stitching