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Cross Stitch

Christmas Cross Stitch Embroidery Finished Handmade Knitting Sewing

Snow Day


It’s official.  I’m ready for Christmas.

Space for the Butterflies - Alicia Paulson - Posie Gets Cozy - Snow Day Ornament Kit

Christmas 2010 that is.

Because yes, with loud hurrahs and a general feeling of pleasant accomplishment I have finished the Snow Day set of Christmas ornaments.  A mere three years after the kit plopped through my letter box.

I think every year I say I’m going to make a mahoosive effort and catch up with myself, and so far I am slightly less behind than I was last year, and I’ve every intention to get started on the Sweet Home set before this Christmas.  But I’ve decided that it doesn’t really matter.

I really love making them.  I love cutting out little bits of felt, I love the embroidery, and I love that while I don’t really want them to be chewed on, and we have distinct rules about touching the Christmas tree (namely don’t) if a tiny hand strays in the direction of the lowest branches it’s owner won’t come to too much harm with one of these.

I think Snow Day might be my favourite set so far, and not just because it included my gateway craft, cross-stitch, the use of waste canvas, which I’d always wanted to try, and a touch of my faithful knitting in the little scarf keeping Mr Polar Bear snuggly warm.  They’re just such an evocative trio, warm mittens, a gorgeous red coat and a snowy polar bear, it’s what I want winter in England to be, well I’ll keep the snow and let the polar bear stay in the arctic; I think he’d feel a little out of place in Warwickshire.

Space for the Butterflies - Alicia Paulson - Posie Gets Cozy - Snow Day Ornament Kit

I can’t do much about the snow, but I’ve got fairisle mittens and if I see a red coat like that in the shops this year I think it might have to come and live at my house.

Dressing to match your Christmas tree ornaments; is it a step too far? and does it rank above or below dressing to match your daughters? (for the record, Kitty and I had matching pyjamas one year and I thought it was awesome!).

Alicia’s latest kit, Night Before Christmas sold out in a ridiculously short space of time (but not before I’d got my order in – phew!) but if you’re at all tempted, she sells PDF patterns of all of the kits, and kits for all five previous years are in stock at the moment.  Why yes, the word “Enabler” is flashing above my head in neon lights right now, however did you know?

Cross Stitch

Sleepy Weekend


It must be the onset of autumn – I swear I’m starting to hibernate. I feel as if I’ve just spent the weekend curled up in all of my quilts inside my house with brief forays for sustenance but really it’s been quite productive.

One thing is certain; winter is definitely on the way and I’m starting to look for a windy day, not a warm day to dry the clothes. I’m also happily lapsing into my favourite autumn colour schemes:
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Copper and the palest green ornamental cabbageSeptember 074

And brilliant yellow sunflowers for a splash of colour – if a little weather worn.

On a whim, and because I had a spare orange that needed eating, I made a batch of orange fairy cakes – complete with autumnal icing.

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At least, I thought I was looking outside for the colours – blue sky, bright green grass, singed yellow leaves – and then I looked down and realised that my subconscious is matching icing colours to my apron.
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yes, it appears that I made Cath Kidston co-ordinating cakes – they tasted pretty good though.

I’ve spent much of the weekend quilting up my mint choc chip quilt but it isn’t quite finished so it’s staying hidden for the moment. I’ve been playing around with a few ideas and finishing off a birthday present so I have those to share instead.

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These are currently buttons – it’s an idea I saw in a cross stitch magazine; sewing tiny pictures and then fitting them to those blank plastic buttons that people use to make matching fabric buttons. The magazine suggested sewing them onto a tote bag which would work well but I’m thinking of taking the button shanks off and either attaching mini magnets to have them on the fridge, or drawing pins for the pin board. The cupcake is for me, and the space rocket is for H so I think they ought to go on the fridge if I can find the right size magnets.

The birthday present is for a little boy who will be 2 on Wednesday. His cousin’s birthday present was a little elephant so for a bit of variety we have a little blue bear.
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The pattern is another Ysolda Teague knitted toy pattern, also part of a Christmas present from my sister-in-law who has excellent taste when presented with a yarn shop; this is the Otto pattern.
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I made the smaller polar bear, from Rowan Wool Cotton on 3mm needles and I used about one and a third 50g balls. The colour is 941, Clear, and it reminds me of the colour of ice on a frosty morning – very appropriate for a polar bear.

The pattern is easy to knit, and very similar to the Elijah pattern, although the legs are different, being fully part of the body, rather than picked up and knit from the body, which makes it easier for our little blue bear to stand.

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The little jacket he is wearing is identical to the jackets that I made for Bella and Arthur and blogged about here, this time with a little colourwork in some leftover wool cotton.
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I usually name these little friends while I create them, even knowing that their names will probably change along the way; Beatrix became Bella when she went to live with Peggy (which suits them both) and I love that they get two names. This little bear however, has stayed strangely silent; he has a presence that requires formality and Latin (it’s the Roman nose), and so for now he is Ursus Maritimus.

He is as we speak, travelling on board the good ship Special Delivery, to arrive in time for the day itself to somewhat warmer climes, but within a salty sniff of the ocean. Hopefully Carey will like him – I wait to hear what his new name is with interest.

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The frozen wastelands


I have returned from a place quite north of here, a place of hills and howling breezes that pierce you to the core with their icy touch. I have worn a hat almost constantly (including being both inside and being in bed) since Friday night.

We’ve been in Scotland. Edinburgh to be precise, a place of

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Unexpected Christmas trees
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Lots of cake (to keep out the cold)(NB Florentines good, Black Forest Cupcake not memorable)
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Great pub signs, and even better,

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Great street names – I would love to know how this flight got its name – it isn’t colour and there didn’t seem to be any grass around!

We went salsa dancing
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In matching outfits and H and I rapidly alternated between quasi salsa and quasi irish jig while Lulla showed everyone how it was done.
Lulla had a fabulous party with lots of friends and improbable cocktails (and as the designated driver I coaxed the bar staff into inventing some booze-free versions of the exciting ones).
And finally, there was a little birthday present time:
I think it was a hit! Certainly it only took about 10 mins to have decided where to put it (top of the stairs so it’s the first thing you see when you come in) and another 5 for H to have put it up for her:
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The parents-in-law did a great job on the framing, the two mount cards are pearlescent so the whole thing shimmers and it fits with the latest evidence of my MIL’s activities:

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Ladies who eat ice-cream, or possibly candyfloss. The family suggestion is that Lulla is in the middle in green, I’m the one in orange because I love orange and Belle is in her favourite pink. Whoever they are they’re a good sight warmer than we’ve all been this weekend, Lulla kept forgetting to turn the heating on as she’s usually out during the day so we were double wrapped at all times. The dressing gown she’s wearing isn’t because it’s morning but for warmth and if you could see me I’m wearing a t-shirt, a wool sweater, my Kauni cardigan, my Icarus shawl and an alpaca hat. And I’m shivvvvvvering!
Cross Stitch

May all your dreams come true


In a cloud of exhaustion and pricked fingers I am happy/relieved to show you Lulla’s finished Fairy Godmother.

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Before I get a stern telephone call from my mother I should stress that I have not just finished, I finished last night/this morning and I’m posting during my lunch hour having just entrusted the item in question to the mercies of the Royal Mail, heavily protected by a hand towel, a sturdy envelope and RM’s promise to deliver it to H in Yorkshire before 9am tomorrow. Whether the dear boy (who is widely regarded as a night owl) will be awake to receive it, is a completely different question. He is not being given an option on this one.

If you compare it to this picture (taken on 1 November as I finished the basic cross stitching)
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You can see how much it changed and why it took so long to do. I think 11 days isn’t bad though, particularly with an enforced three day break in the middle. I’ve spent a bit too much quality time with this Fairy Godmother recently and at the moment it just speaks to me of desperate early morning stitching but H assures me that she will love it and it got a positive response from a couple of colleagues who saw it en route to the post office today. I just keep reminding myself that when I first saw it in the magazine it spoke to me and I knew that it was meant to be for Lulla. I suspect that after a week’s absence and a trip to the framers I will be much more inclined to be pleased with it.

I do like the way that it is practically life size to the pattern!
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And, since I know that the true hallmark of a textile artist (in which I include all knitters, sewers etc) is that their first reaction is to turn a piece of work over and have a look at the back (and I know that this is the first thing that both my husband and mother in law will do):

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Now this is something that entertains no false modesty. I am known for keeping the back of the work very tidy and this piece is no exception. There are no random loops of thread and not too many dramatic leaps of thread from one section to another. Given that the piece contains two and a bit spools of gold thread, one and a half of silver, one of black and a good half of a 32 metre spool of blending filament, and most of a packet of four different colours of beads I consider that to be an achievement. It will also make the piece sit more nicely when framed and there should be few if any points at which the carried thread can be seen from the front of the picture. My slight tendencies towards OCD, which are not at all evident from the state of my housekeeping, rather come to the fore in cross stitch.

I started this project in August 2005 I think (on the basis that it is a September issue and magazines are strange like that). At that time I had been engaged for three and a bit months and we were living in our little halfway home while we looked for the home we have now. It sat in a bag on the corner of our green chintz armchair in the lounge and I sat and sewed throughout the heat of that summer, a few stitches every day. At the time it was intended to be Lulla’s birthday present, she turned 27 that November, but then we moved house, ran a marathon and got married, and the bag stayed tucked by the side of my desk, occasionally raided for threads for other projects.

The finished piece has a stitching area of about 10″ x 12.5″ and while not the biggest embroidery I have ever completed, it’s certainly up there for size and comes top in terms of levels of backstitch, topstich and embellishment. It seems rather appropriate that such a magnum opus should be for a very special birthday. I’ve done my bit and it’s now in the lap of the framers to make sure that Lulla gets her fairy godmother for her 30th birthday and I’m so glad that it won’t be ‘just’ a Christmas present. I read somewhere that cross stitch takes about an hour for a square inch (depending on pattern and whether you need to stop to read the chart). On that basis, and assuming that I’ve done each inch square twice, once for the stitching and once to embellish, I’ve spend 250 hours on this project. Whether she likes it or not, the one thing that I know is that she will recognise it for the investment of time and happy thoughts that it represents.

And now for the final, ironical, gloss on the cherry on the top of the cake. Would you please pay attention to the name of this illustrious cross stitch magazine:

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I don’t think I can say anything that would be printable!

Cross Stitch

Shattered delusions


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You were all quite correct, I didn’t get it finished and finally caved in and went to bed for a few hours early this morning before Lulla arrived. I have hidden the evidence down the side of our bed and I have high hopes for sneaking in a little bit more stitching over the weekend.

We are however having a wonderful time having Lulla with us – we’ve just come back from fireworks at the Sports Club and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only Friday, it feels like it should have been Saturday and that means that I’ve got a whole day in hand – yippee