Tuesday, 30 December 2014

So weak and can't resist temptation!

OK so after grovelling a few posts back about feeling stressed about having too many WIPs and not feeling able to commit to Debbie's Ultimate Crazy January Challenge 2015, I've given in to temptation and will be taking part! Though "only" doing a mini 15 new starts.

Yes I know I know I said I wouldn't,  but they are only small and they were all screaming at me!

Here's a peak at my Jan 1st start..
The Wizard of Oz by The Little Stitcher (etsy)

The other 14 projects are on the tab at the top of my blog if you want to see!

I have also signed up for Mii Stitch's Joan Elliott calendar SAL (only 12 small projects throughout the year), Jo's Gifted Gorgeousness SAL and YOTA so I am going to be busy in 2015!

Looking forward to sharing all my new starts and hopefully some finishes with you next year.

Until then

Justine

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Review of my stitchy 2014 and a cry for help at the bottom!

I love reading this type of post so thought I would come up with my own! Warning - it's picture heavy!

It's been a very productive year for me stitching-wise.  I managed a total of 38 finishes and am still hoping for another one! (more of this later).  I've updated my finishes page at the top of the blog if you want a nosy, but thought I would share here one or two of my favourites...

My first finish of the year on 20th January

Finished this just in time for "baby's" 5th birthday! 

Loved every stitch of this one.

I recharted the candy corn into a bat!

My first ever SAL finish.

I also tried my hand at finishing for the first time and managed to make these goodies which all found new homes...


I took part in four great exchanges and received some wonderful handmade gifts...
 From Heather (Gorjuss Exchange organised by Mii Stitch)

 From Michelle (blog giveaway)

 From Cross Stitch Angel (RAK)


 Both from Mii Stitch (Tutti Frutti Exchange organised by Mii herself)


From Donna (Halloween Exchange organised by Kim)

From Thoeria (RAK)

 From Albena (Christmas Biscornu Exchange organised by Mii Stitch)

From Jayne (blog giveaway)


From Shirlee (prize from Gaynor's raffle and a RAK)

I have been so spoiled!  Thank you to all of you who organised exchanges, offered giveaways and sent RAKs - you help to make the stitching world the special place it is!

On the down side I didn't do so well on some of the SALs I signed up for.  Crazy January Challenge saw me start 15 new projects on the first 15 days of the year.  Sadly I only managed to finish 10 of these and now have a WIP list of 13 projects.  Now I know some would think this is not so bad but it is a lot for me!

I also failed miserably at Stitch from Stash.  I was going to sign up for next year but I think it was my stubborn streak that made me stash when I wasn't supposed to!  So I am just going to go with the flow in 2015.  Having said that, this really caught my eye on etsy the other day and I can't stop thinking about her!
Alice and Dodo by GeckoRouge

I will be back later in the week with another post of my stitchy plans for 2015.

If you've stuck with me so far thank you, if you scrolled down to the bottom to see what the cry for help was, thank you too!  I was aiming to finish this piece by Christmas but it didn't happen.  There is a slim chance it will be done by the end of the year which would make me very happy.  Have a look..


Where I need help is with the variegated thread which is used to stitch most of the sea.  Take a look, it's very variegated...


Now, how would you stitch this?  I normally stitch top to bottom, cross country (i.e. not in blocks) doing half crosses along the line and then crossing them on the way back.  Would this be OK do you think or should I cross each stitch individually?  I've tried both methods on other pieces and not really been happy with either of them.

Thanks in advance for your advice, I know you're a helpful lot and I'll get plenty!  Stay tuned to see if I manage to finish by the end of the year!

Until next time

Justine



Thursday, 25 December 2014

Early Christmas gifts

Merry Christmas Everyone!

There's about an hour of Christmas Eve left here in the UK. I'm banished from our bedroom while hubby wraps my gifts in his usual last-minute fashion so I thought I would share with you some photos of some early Christmas gifts I received.

Firstly a lovely surprise from dear Shirlee which arrived earlier today. Shirlee posted this in the US on December 3rd and I think we both thought it was lost forever. It was all the sweeter for the wait! You may remember seeing this ornie on Gaynor's blog, well I was the lucky winner, thanks to a mysterious benefactor who had already won in Gaynor's raffle and gifted me with their win. I hope you are reading this and know how grateful I am for your kindness.


I was even more lucky as Shirlee very kindly included another gorgeous ornament,  of a boy riding a sled. My boys love it! Thank you Shirlee.


As you can see they are already on the tree!

I was lucky recently to win a giveaway on Jayne's blog and received a lovely thread catcher to celebrate her sixth blogaversary. Thank you Jayne and congratulations to you! I don't know how I managed without one of these before. It sits by ne on the sofa as I stitch and saves my clothes and carpet from those little ends of thread.


Finally I want to share with you my Secret Santa gift from work. We are only allowed to spend £5. How my Santa managed to get this for the price I don't know but I was so touched to receive this as no one in my office stitches, so whoever chose this has really put some thought into it. I have an idea who it was and it's a man too! My first ever stitching gift from a non stitchy friend. Thank you Secret Santa!


I will enjoy stitching this stylish kit in the New Year!

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas full of everything you wish for!

Love

Justine

Monday, 15 December 2014

Advent Calendar Blog Hop Day 15

Hello everyone and welcome!  It's the 15th of December and my turn to open a door on Jo's Advent Calendar...


Let's have a look what's inside...


My first ever ornament finish!

This is Snowy Birds by Country Cottage Needleworks from last year's JCS Christmas issue. I was pretty pleased with how this turned out! I haven't made many ornaments since and this is still my favourite.

I have lots of things waiting to be finished though!

Jo has asked everyone taking part in the blog hop to blog about our best ever Christmas present. The one that sticks out in my memory was one I received from my parents in 1983 when I was 11...my very own record player! It had a turntable and a needle which jumped if you tried to dance near it (if you are under the age of 35 and don't know what I'm talking about, please ask a grown up).

It seemed magical to me that I could choose what music to listen to rather than waiting for my favourites to be played on my parents' radio.

Unfortunately the only disc I received from Santa that year was Cliff Richard's 25th anniversary LP but it wasn't long until the shops opened again after the Christmas break and I was able to spend my voucher on a Wham album!

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

Justine
Tuesday, 9 December 2014

An old friend and MMMM winner!

I had a little break from blogging last week, both writing mine and reading those blogs I follow.  It feels as if I have been away a long time.  In reality, it was a busy week at work and we went away at the weekend with my parents, so there was lots going on in the "real" world.  Not much stitching got done, though Mum and I had a craft evening on Friday night while my Dad and hubby went out together for a beer, and I managed to put a few stitches into this...


Snow Love by Country Cottage Needleworks

I hope to have it finished this weekend.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been working on this old favourite...




Bothy Threads Cut Thru North Pole House

I love this piece and can almost smell the finish!  I have the backstitch to do on the ground floor of the house, and then the sea underneath, and I'll be there.  I don't think it will be finished by Christmas but certainly by Christmas 2015.

Some of you will remember I hosted Mega Mini Month Madness in November and I promised a 25 Euro or equivalent voucher to one stitcher who managed to post four updates through the month.  I put all the names into a virtual hat and the winner is....Alyssa F of Brownie's Chair!  Alyssa, please would you email me with your email address, the name of a shop I can get online vouchers for, and the currency you would prefer to receive.  Sorry it's taken me so long to post this!

And after saying I was cutting back on SALs etc in 2015 - I have just signed up for a Joan Elliott Calendar SAL over on Mii Stitch.  The designs are so cute and it's "only" one every month....

Until next time, stay warm

Justine
Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas Biscornu Exchange

A couple of months ago I signed up for a Christmas Biscornu Exchange hosted by Mii Stitch.  I'm delighted to say that at least as far as I'm concerned, the exchange has gone wonderfully well and all biscornus have been received on time.

I received my parcel today from Albéna, and this is what was inside...

all wrapped up

handmade ornaments, French ribbon, yummy chocs...
everything on a white and gold star theme

the piéce de resistance, the biscornu itself

a closer look at the underside

I wish I could show you the biscornu in person.  It is tiny and absolutely exquisite!  Stitched over one on a very small count (maybe 40 count?) covered in clear sparkly beads, it's already hanging on our tree and will be admired and treasured for years to come.  Thank you Albéna, you are a super exchange partner!

I had to stitch a biscornu and send to Stacy.  I chose a chart from the gorgeous Faby Reilly range.


I was really pleased with how it turned out and I know it has been well received in France.

Thank you Mii for hosting this fabulous exchange!

Until next time

Justine

Sunday, 30 November 2014

MMMM post 4

Well today is the last day of Mega Mini Month Madness.  This fun SAL was hosted by Pull The Other Thread last month, and by me this month!  I haven't had anyone volunteer to host in December but I'm guessing everyone is busy with Christmas stitching so maybe someone will come forward in the New Year? (after all the Crazy Challenges are out of the way of course!)

Well, I do have two more finishes to show you, firstly this one which was my "train stitch" while commuting last week...

DMC "Make A Wish" Pirate kit
Stitched on 14 count white aida with DMC threads

and this one which is from the current edition of Cross Stitch Collection magazine...

Prairie Schooler ornament
Stitched on 14 count Zweigart "Dirty" aida
with DMC threads

There are two more PS ornaments in the magazine, I've already started the second and hope to have them all on the tree this year!

Speaking of which... HERE'S OUR TREE!!!!


Me and the boys decorated it this afternoon while hubby was at work, we also put all our nick-nacks out round the house.  You can see the Nativity advent calendar in the background with a door already open expectantly!  The first year we had these calendars, I put sweets behind all the doors when the boys had gone to bed on 30th November...well as you can imagine my 3 and 2 year old sons had the calendars on the floor and were stuffing sweets into their mouths so fast on the first morning of advent!  So now Santa's elves have to visit every night to put a sweet behind one door at a time ready for the next day.

I'm very happy with our tree this year and will be back tomorrow to show you a little handmade goodie I received this week which is already gracing the tree - can you spot it?

I will also be drawing the winner of a €25 voucher (or equivalent) for those who managed to complete four or more posts of Mega Mini Month Madness in November.  Drawing will take place tomorrow to make sure that November is over for everyone, wherever you may happen to be stitching!

Until tomorrow

Justine
Thursday, 27 November 2014

MMMM and Travelling Treasure Chest!

November is the second month of Mega Mini Month Madness!  There are 15 of us who have been stitching away on Minis throughout November, with a chance to win a voucher for those who have posted their progress four times.  I am hosting this month so have been following everyone's progress avidly.

I haven't made as much progress on minis as I would have liked this month as I've been busy with Christmas stitching but there are still four days left!  I hope to have another couple of small finishes to show off.

The Travelling Treasure Chest was a great idea by Kim of Wisdom with Needle and Thread (read all about it here).  The Chest set off at the beginning of October and so far it's visited :
Teresa of At Willow Tree Pond, Linda of Stitchin with my Furbabies, Shelly of An Arizona Stitcher, Dima of D1D2 and now it's in the UK with me!

There were lots of gorgeous things in the Treasure Chest but seeing as I am seriously trying to reduce WIPs I chose small...

The Queen Bee by JBW Designs

Flowers Limited Edition by Lizzie*Kate

I restocked the Chest and now it is on its way to Jacquie of My Journey.  I can't wait to see what she chooses!

Now I'm off to check on all the other mini stitchers for this month.

Until next time

Justine
Thursday, 20 November 2014

Mega Mini Month Madness Month 2 Part 2

Just in case you thought I had abandoned MMMM - I haven't!  I've been busy working on a biscornu for the Christmas Biscornu Exchange hosted by Mii Stitch.  It's now finished and ready to go in the post.  I'm pretty sure my exchange partner doesn't read my blog but just in case she does, I won't show it until I know it's been received.

I can show you however my latest CCN finish from the Classic Ornament Series.

Dear Santa by CCN
Stitched on recommended 32 count linen with DMC 
and Classic Colorworks thread

It needs a date with the iron, and some proper finishing off, but the cross stitching is all done.  It was a lovely quick stitch.

Not so my Red Dragon Bookmark, which is so hard I am having to do the backstitch in stages!

Red Dragon Bookmark
by Dracolair Creations
Stitched on 32 count grey linen
with DMC threads

Almost finished thankfully, then I will be searching the internet for tutorials on how to finish bookmarks.  And tossing the pattern into the bin!  It is very detailed and involves lots of fractionals and backstitch.  I'm sure it will be lovely when finished but it is giving me serious eye strain.

Thanks to everyone for your lovely comments on my last blog post.  If you didn't see it then please at least read the comments at the bottom.  It's really interesting how differently we all approach the same hobby.  Thanks too for sticking with me, I will try not to let my blog become too boring as I desperately try to reduce my WIP list!

Until next time

Justine

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My confession

Dear friends, I hope you will indulge me a little.

When I started this blog just over a year ago, I was pretty much a one at a time stitcher. I had one UFO and I hoped blogging would motivate me to complete it.


I quickly grew to love blogging and like so many was enabled to buy lots of stash. One of the first stitching blogs I came across was that of the late SoCal Debbie. I was in awe of her ability to work on so many projects at once and was soon part of her Bothy Threads Cut Thru Monday SAL, working on this lovely piece...


Soon I had signed up for the Crazy January Challenge 2014. 15 new starts later I suddenly had a huge pile of WIPs. Some of which were huge projects in their own right...

Then I discovered Heaven and Earth Designs and now have two HAEDs on the go plus another kitted up.

And then there were the exchanges...just the four of them this year...

And then I committed to 31 new starts in January in Debbie's memory...

Can you guess where this is heading? That's right. Burnout. I feel such guilt over my languishing WIPs/UFOs that stitching is becoming a source of stress rather than pleasure.

So, I'm saying enough is enough. I am going to work on one WIP at a time, with perhaps a mini project on the go for my train ride to/from work. I'm going to finish things I start. And I will be bowing out of Debbie's Ultimate Crazy January Challenge because new starts were Debbie's thing and not mine.

But because I miss her blog posts and want to honour her in my own way I'll be finishing the North Pole House and next year I will start and finish this piece in her memory, a project she encouraged me to buy as she shared my love of this story...

I hope all my readers will understand if there is a bit less variety on my blog but I hope you will stick with me and cheer me on to reduce my WIP list and rediscover my love of stitching.

Justine