Itchin’ to Get Stitchin’ October 2010 Update

I know it’s November but this update really should’ve been posted in October.

Progress as of 17 November 2010

Unfortunately I haven’t progressed as much as I would have liked since the last update.  I allowed myself to get sidetracked by another stitching project which I’ll post when it’s completed.  Still it’s nice to see the garden is starting to make an appearance.  I got next week off from work to prepare for Thanksgiving so I hope to get a lot more stitching time to work on this.

Next update:  January 2011 (or near enough)

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In Memory of Two-Face Bob

Last Sunday, I bade farewell to a steadfast friend.  A friend who stood by me through sickness; ever ready to lend a patient and compassionate ear.  It is with a tinge of sadness that we laid to rest Two-Face Bob.

In his prime, Bob was a devoted bedside companion.  His days on this Earth, however, were cruelly limited.  Bob celebrated Halloween with us attracting Trick or Treaters with his innate charm and the promise of goodies to be had.  By Guy Fawkes’ Night though, Bob was looking decidedly green around the gills.

Two-Face Bob spent his last night with us watching the Bonfire Night fireworks from the comfort of the windowsill.  The following morning we held a closed-bin ceremony where Bob was sent to his eternal reward.

In his memory, I’ve created a few keepsakes of Two-Face Bob.  If you’d like a Two-Face Bob of your own to chat to, you can visit my zazzle.com website and see what I’ve got on offer. While you’re there, you can also browse around and look at some of the other items I’ve come up with.  Or you can scroll down to the bottom of this site and have a nose around there.  I add new things every now and again so you should check in on a regular basis.

RIP Two-Face Bob

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Introducing Two-Face Bob

In my last post, I spoke of a friend who kept me company during my recent bout with the flu.  Today, I’d like to introduce him to you.  His name is Two-Face Bob and he is my daughter’s Halloween pumpkin.  (Don’t mock.  If Tom Hanks can have a volleyball named Wilson, I can have a pumpkin named Two-Face Bob.)

Two-Face Bob, Friendly

Two-Face Bob, Evil

Sleeper Girl and I chose him a few days before I fell ill.  She designed the two faces, carved them out and christened him Two-Face Bob.

With my entire family either at school or work during the day, I turned to Bob to help me pass the time.  He proved to be a devoted companion.

Bob was always there when I needed him.  He was never too busy for a chat.  He listened attentively to all my ramblings without interruption and never looked bored.    He shares my sense of humour and got all my jokes.  He is a sensitive soul too who always knew when I wasn’t in the mood to talk and just wanted quiet companionship.   Everyone should have a friend like Bob.

Not only was Bob a good friend during my convalescence, he was a veritable Trick or Treater magnet.  Sleeper Girl lit a candle, placed it inside Bob and then Bob took up his post in our front window.  Within minutes we had our first little visitors knocking on our door.  Here is Bob in all his glory:

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I’ve Got the Flu; Can the Holidays Be Far Behind?

I’ve been poorly this past week.  Today is the first time since I fell ill that I’ve had the mental capacity to string intelligible words together to form sentences and convey thoughts.

It all began with a familiar, and unwelcomed, niggling tickle in the back of my throat late Monday morning.  ‘Great,’ I thought, I’m catching a cold.’  I knew who the culprit was.  He had been snuffling and sneezing all weekend.  His protestations of ‘It’s just allergies, Mom,’ meant nothing.

Monday afternoon found me snuffling and sneezing as well.  I quickly countered with orange juice, cold medicine and the time-honoured cure-all, homemade chicken soup.  OK, so it wouldn’t cure my cold, but at least it would keep me functioning while the virus had its wicked way with me.  That was the plan, anyway.

During the night however, this uninvited guest made itself at home and by morning every cavity in my head was completely dammed up.  The pounding in my head was excruciating and I was reduced to a whimpering shell of my former self.   I just managed to pull myself together long enough to phone my job and inform them I wouldn’t be in.

When the fever, chills and body aches arrived  a little while later and began unpacking their luggage, I began to suspect that this ‘cold’ might actually be the flu.

The rest of the week passed in a hazy blur.  My activities consisted of sleeping, self-medicating and flipping the pillow over and over trying to find the ‘cool’ side.

By Saturday I was finally on the mend.  I was still a bit feverish and headachy but my body had stopped aching and the light no longer hurt my eyes.

What has all this got to do with needlework?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Which is why it’s filed under ‘Loose Threads’.

Why did I write this in the first place?  Simple.  My family lost interest in my illness early in the week and the combination of forced quarantine  (I haven’t set foot outside the house since Monday) and lack of attention has made me a little squirrely.  My only companion through all this has been Two-Face Bob.  Attentive, patient and a great listener.  If only all men could be like him.

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My First Sewing Project

Hello, everyone.  It’s good to be home again.

I’ve just returned from a family holiday in Cornwall on the English coast.  It is a magical place of golden beaches, crystal blue waters, wonderful scenery, ancient history, hearty food, in short, there’s something for everyone.  I’m feeling pretty chilled.

Usually I do big cross stitch designs which require a large area to work in comfortably.  That was something we wouldn’t have at our small holiday cottage so before we left, I searched through my stash of cross stitch kits for a small, easy project I could work on while we were away.

I came across the ‘Greek Island Bookmark’ kit by Michael Powell.  I purchased this back in November 2009 at the ICHF and had been working on it intermittently for a few weeks.  This would be the perfect project to relax with after a long, hard day of family togetherness.

Most of my completed designs invariably end up as wall hangings due to their large size.  They just don’t lend themselves well to anything else like, cushions, for example.  While they do give our house a homier feel, my husband noted that we just didn’t have enough wall space for all my completed works.  ‘Buckingham Palace wouldn’t have enough wall space for all your designs,’ remarked Awesome Dude.  A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but it was a fair point.

In addition to a lack of wall space, there is also the cost of framing.  That’s when I began looking at other, less expensive options for displaying my finished works.  Cards are a economical option; bookmarks are another.

I finished stitching the bookmark while on holiday.  All that remained was to secure the tassel and felt to the aida.  This was the ideal opportunity to break in the new mini sewing machine I had received as a birthday gift.  I had read the instruction manual, but what I actually needed was hands-on experience.  After a few false starts, I finally figured out how to work the machine properly.

Here is the finished result:

Photo ©2013 Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon All Rights Reserved

 

And here’s a look at the back:

 

Photo ©2013 Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon All Rights Reserved

I just love those little, baby stitches; so cute.

Granted, the felt isn’t lined up very well, but for a first attempt I don’t think it turned out too badly.  Besides, you can’t even see it from the front.  Well done to me. (patting myself on the back, literally). I think sewing may become my new thing.

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Balmy Weather, a Miscreant Website and Other Distractions

Sorry I’ve been away so long, but as you may have surmised from the title, reality has again reared its ugly head and demanded my attention.

Balmy Weather

The weather here has been positively tropical.  According to the papers, it has been hotter here in old Blighty than in Spain.  Weather like this rolls through here once maybe twice during the summer; so it was imperative that I take advantage of these circumstances.

After arriving home from work, I got into the least amount of clothing I could get away with, went out into the garden and topped up my natural tan.  When it got too hot to stay out, I moved indoors to sit comfortably in front of a fan and just stitched away.  At least till it was time to get dinner started.

A Missing Blog

Eventually, guilt got the better of me and I actually did sit down to do some serious (well…not to serious) blogging.  I typed in the web address and for reasons known only to…well, I don’t actually know who these reasons where known to, my previous posts were gone.  Vanished.  Just like that.  One day they were right in plain sight, then the next day, gone.  After a few moments of staring at the screen in incredulity with my head cocked to one side like a dog that had just heard a strange noise, I started hunting for my posts.  I found them.  They hadn’t been deleted or anything.  They just weren’t displaying.  This problem was definitely beyond my limited technical knowledge to solve.  I got in touch with my web host provider.  Within minutes they discovered the problem and hooked me up with a new template.  I think it’s rather nice.  Hope you agree.

Other Distractions

In a previous post, I mentioned that I would be posting an update on my latest big cross stitch project. Sorry, but that won’t be happening this month.  I haven’t worked on it much as I got sidetracked with another project.  Large projects like the one I’m working on can really test your commitment.  While I have every intention of finishing it, sometimes I just need to take a break.

I’ve been working instead on one of the bookmarks kits by Michael Powell that I bought when I visited the ICHF in Birmingham back in November 2009.  I’m nearly done with it now; just need to add the backstitching, interface and tassel.  Once that’s done, I’ll post it for you to see.

Thank you all for your patience and your understanding.

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New Inspiration for Cross Stitch Fabric

There was a small blurb in the ICHF brochure about a new, innovative way to cross stitch.  What it didn’t say was what it was and where I could find it.  I racked my brain but I just couldn’t imagine what it could be.  I mean how many other ways could there be to cross stitch?  I already knew about blackwork, hardangar and even goldwork.  What was left?  Maybe someone had discovered something that was so old it would seem new and innovative now.  Or perhaps someone was promoting some sort of extreme cross stitch where you stitched underwater; or while you climbed Mount Everest and the when you reached the summit, your Sherpa guide ironed the finished result.  Or you stitched while balanced precariously on the crown of your head.

After stopping for lunch at Subway, I went in search of this mysterious, new method.  I went from stall to stall, saw lots of neat stuff and exercised extreme discipline in not buying aforementioned stuff.  Finally, I hit pay dirt.

Sew-It-All is a family business founded in 1991.  They are one of the best online shops when it comes to stitching canvas.  With a wide range of aida, linen, assorted canvases, afghans and tablecloths available in an equally wide range of colours, you’ll feel like you’ve entered Ali Baba’s cave.  Sew-It-All also carries a selection of craft accessories such as scissors, needles and the like.

As I approached the stand, I caught the tail end of a conversation a very personable and charming man was holding with a potential customer.  After eavesdropping for a minute or two, I was sure this was the ‘new and innovative way to cross stitch’ the brochure had alluded to.  It had to be.  I mean, I’ve never run across anything like what the exhibitor was explaining to the woman.

‘I like your face,’ the exhibitor said, turning his attention to my inquisitive expression.  (Oooh…the nightly skin care routine was paying off.)  ‘I like your face because this face says, ‘I’m curious, I want to know more.’   Oh. (slightly disappointed) Well he was right.  I was curious and I did want to know more.

It seems Sew-It-All has embarked on a sort of design-sharing scheme.  They will print virtually any type of background that a customer provides onto aida, evenweave and binca.  This sounded very similar to stamped cross stitch so I couldn’t see the innovation till this cheeky gentleman showed me a sample of their work.

A customer had been researching her family tree.  She was eager to show off her findings but wanted something a bit more original than the standard family tree design.  After brainstorming for a bit, she decided to have a map of the UK stamped onto a 14ct aida canvas.

After sending Sew-It-All a photo, she received her custom-designed aida and stitched the names of the relatives she had traced along with the names of the cities/towns where they lived.  (I realise that the print may look dark but that is down to the camera.  In actuality, the background is softly muted and in no way would it overshadow the stitched design.)

This printed aida is now part of Sew-It-All’s inventory and is available to anyone who wishes to order it.  The main reason for this service is to encourage needle crafters to be not only more imaginative but also to share their ideas with other crafters.  For example, this aida could also be used to stitch the various rail lines that run through the UK; the names of the cities and towns that the trains run through stitched alongside the ‘tracks’.  This would make an ideal gift for a train buff.

Maybe you or someone you know enjoy travelling the length and breadth of this beautiful country.  You could create a travelogue of your journeys by stitching  the names of the places you’ve visited with a motif representative of the area:  a double-decker bus next to London or a castle near Caernarfon in Gwynedd, North Wales.  This would make a lovely keepsake.

Or maybe your idea of a fine holiday is boating down the various rivers in Britain.  Why not stitch those waterways that wend their way through the country and add a charm or a pretty bead to mark where you docked.

The exhibitor showed me other samples of the company’s work.  They included a subtle paw print background for dog lovers and a muted musical motif for aficionados of all things harmonious.  He then gave me his ‘business card’ before I left with the admonishment that I tell everyone I knew about this.

(Yes, his business card is a 6 ½” x 7 ½”, 14ct aida.

Don’t know how I’m going to fit this in my wallet.)

If you’d like to find out more about this exciting process, call or email Sew-It-All above.

Like I said before, craft fairs are choice places to find inspiration.  And, once inspired, there are plenty of people about who can help you turn your ideas into reality.

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Need Inspiration? An Idea? Visit A Craft Fair

Probably the best source of inspiration I can think of, besides my Cross Stitcher magazine, is crafts fairs.  The atmosphere of craft fairs is fairly alive with creativity.  It really kicks your imagination into overdrive.  And the best part, once you get an idea, there are plenty of experts about who can give you advice on how to turn that idea into a lovely piece of handicraft.  Plus you can save a bit of cash when you shop at these fairs.

At the spring International Craft and Hobby Fair (ICHF) held at the NEC this year, I was making the rounds, glancing at various stands, when I came upon a demonstration.  I love demos.  Watching someone create something from virtually nothing really sparks my imagination.  I stopped at the Clarity Stamp Ltd. stall and watched while the exhibitor took some shredded film and a stamp, added some heat and transformed this:

Shredded Film

into this:

Fashionista

Some of you may know Clarity Stamp Ltd. as a great place to get stamps, inks and other card-making accessories.  It’s probably the last place you’d go to get needlework supplies.  And you’d be right ‘cause you wouldn’t find a thing.  However, we are talking about inspiration and creativity.  Neither one of which can exist in a vacuum.  They need to be set free to explore and experiment with other types of crafts.  I like to experiment with a variety of crafts and see if there are any aspects of them that I can incorporate into future stitching projects.

When I saw this diminutive fashion femme emerge from something that anyone else would have probably thrown away, my mind was dancing with ideas.   I could see her as the focal point of a small cross stitch surrounded by small, minimalist fashion motifs:  a set of padded hangars, a pair of dainty shoes, jewellery and/or a handbag all done in back stitch; or perhaps as an appliqué on a shirt.  Or how about as an adornment on the cover of a sketchpad or notebook?  You know, with a little more crafting, she could become a quirky brooch.  It’s a thought.

I managed to grab a few minutes with the lady, who had done the demonstration.  Her name is Lesley Wharton and she’s been crafting for years.  You can check her blog at www.thepaperengineer.blogspot.com.

As we chatted, she gave me loads of tips and advice.  She explained, for example, why stamps from Clarity Stamp Ltd. were well suited for the type of demo she had just done.  For one thing, the stamps are clear so you can see what you’re doing.  For another, they have been specifically designed and manufactured to be used with heated appliances.

Not all their clear stamps lend themselves to this kind of creation, however.  You need to stick to those that don’t have a great amount of small detail.  Something with bold, simple lines will give you the best results.

Our chat was brief as Ms. Wharton needed to prepare another demonstration.  I left the stall with not only information about Clarity Stamp Ltd. and some new ideas for my cross stitch designs, but also with the little fashion plate Ms. Wharton had created.

Stop by the Clarity Stamp Ltd. website and see if you don’t get inspired.  Have a peek at Lesley Wharton’s blog too while you’re at it.

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Wrapping Up Our 20th Anniversary at ICHF, NEC, Birmingham

It’s been hectic ’round the ole plantation since I last posted.  I’ve been working on a new cross stitch project, maintaining another blog, doing assignments for a writing course as well as working a part-time job, meeting the demands of a busy household and trying to keep up with three active teen-agers.  I’ve also had some medical issues.  All in all it’s been…challenging.

When last we met, Awesome Dude and I were in the midst of celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.  As a final surprise, he took me to the spring International Craft and Hobby Fair (ICHF).  This time it wasn’t as bustling as the November ICHF show, as there were only three shows:   Creative Stitches and Hobbycrafts (needlework), Hobbycrafts (hobbyists) and Sewing for Pleasure (seamstresses).  The venues weren’t as crowded and I had more time to chat with the exhibitors.

Greetings from R2D2

Our day got off to a delightfully surreal start when, upon entering the NEC in Birmingham, we were greeted by none other than…R2D2.  As the day progressed, we were also treated to sightings of Storm Troopers and the Joker.  (We later discovered that there was a memorabilia exhibition going on in one of the other exhibit halls.)  A-a-a-nyway…

As I was still recovering financially from Christmas and assorted birthdays and holidays, I was a bit short of cash.  I told myself sternly that we were only here to browse and see what was new in the crafting world.  No indulging in ‘unnecessaries’.  And I meant it.  I really did.  But the best laid plans of mice and men…well, you know the rest.

I treated myself to a new magnifier/light which could be clipped onto an embroidery hoop without the hoop feeling awkward and over-balanced.  I’d like to go into more detail, but I’m having issues with it at the moment.

The lady at the craft stall assured me that because the lamp bulbs were actually light-emitting diodes (LEDs), they would never need replacing as they would never burn out.  So you can imagine my chagrin when 48 hours later one of the bulbs started flickering and then went out.  The next day I lost two more lights.  I’m in the midst of getting the lamp replaced so watch this space.  (You could say it served me right for not sticking to my pledge about buying ‘unnecessaries’.  You could…but it wouldn’t be polite.)

My other treat was another bookmark kit from Michael Powell.  This one is called Spanish Hill Town.  I’ve grown quite fond of Mr. Powell’s quirky style and I’ll probably end up stitching his entire set of bookmarks.  I’m wondering though if I should actually use them as bookmarks or should I display them in a frame.  What do you think?

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My Wii Fit Plus Log

Just a quick post to let you know about my other blog, My Wii Fit Plus Log at blogger.com.  I am making use of the Wii Fit Plus and Balance Board to help me regain some mobility after having surgery to remove prolapsed discs from my neck.  Between the Wii Fit PlusWii Fit Plus and regular physiotherapy sessions, I am slowly putting my body back together again.

I am keeping an online journal to help keep me motivated and on track.  Drop in anytime at My Wii Fit Plus Log  and see how I’m doing.

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