January 2023 WIPocalypse Update

Hey everyone! I hope you have had some sun wherever you are – it was late arriving for the “summer” holidays here in Aotearoa, so late that I was joking we missed it in the lead up to Christmas. Unfortunately January has also brought in some pain, as B farewelled a school friend (very hard to do at 22) and a family friend drowned and another has passed due to cancer. Please, please – take care of yourselves and your loved ones. The city has also lost four people in the horrific flooding that’s taken us over.

Right. Stitchy stuff.

I have completed one goal in my annual list!

  • FO Seas the Day (Hands on Design)
Seas the Day, Hands On Design, GAST – Weeks conversion.

Seas the Day was completed on January third, while we were travelling State Highway 35 around the East Coast of the North Island.  I have found a frame too and just need to re-colour it.

Other pieces that have been worked on this month include

  • A Stitch in Time (825 or 41.86%)
  • The Letter P Fairy (429 or 9.09%)
  • Rogue Dragon (757, now 70.06%)
  • Seasonal Trilogy Autumn (400, now 10.49%)
  • Strawberry Fields Forever (2623, now 49.67%)
  • Tournee du Chat Noir (4559, now 15.79%)
  • Jim Shore’s 12 Days (474, now 29.43%)

Strawberry Fields has become my go-to stitch, as it’s mostly GAST and Weeks, which I love, and there’s a bit of repetition. Perfect for binge watching – we’ve done Wrexham and all the Broadchurch this month, and there’s been a lot of cricket. I’ve also put most things into Pattern Keeper to make it easier on myself, but that 12 Day’s number refers to only days 3 & 4. That’s all I’ve re-charted right now. Days 1 & 2 were completed prior to March 2021. In total I hit 11038 stitches, well over target.

January 2023 – WIPocalypse Begins Again

Hi everyone! I’m back for the seventh year. It’s the most committed I’ve been to any SAL & I put that down to the pressure free, encouraging environment that Melissa hosts. If you’re a crafter, please join up either on your blog or via the Facebook group – we welcome all enablers!

If you’ve not read from my blog before, I’m in my late-40’s, a working mum to four (ranging from 28-13). I am book-mad, often found stitching & listening to podcasts or audiobooks, or training our three kittens. We own our home near the base of Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges & can often be found working on it, walking on the beach or in one of the many beautiful parks Auckland boasts. I’ve been hand stitching since before I was 10, can’t knit an even scarf or crochet to save myself and don’t often pull my machine out, although I did master zippered project bags & bagging out a waistcoat last year.

Stitching-wise, this year I am doing a combination of WIP Warriors 23:23 and Magical Stitches. It’s going to be a bit of a struggle to connect some tasks with a limited list, but I would like to get some things done in 2023 that have been hanging around for a while.

Year Long Goals:

  • Complete panels 3 to 6 of Jim Shore’s 12 Days
  • FO and FFO A Stitch in Time (Hands On Design via Quilts & More magazine)
  • Complete 3 houses in my Mill Hill collage
  • FO Hissed Off (Silver Creek)
  • FO and frame the Klimt Tree (Nora Corbett’s Patreon)
  • FO and frame the Letter P Fairy (Nora Corbett)
  • Get to 50% of Cliffhanger (Aimee Stewart/HAED) – currently 24%
  • Start Nightingale (new Mirabilia, ordered)
  • FO and frame Rogue Dragon (Nora Corbett’s Patreon)
  • FO Seas the Day (Hands on Design)
  • FO and FFO the Perennial Pinwheels (Hands on Design) – separated to three designs.
  • Get to 50% of Strawberry Fields Forever (Blackbird Designs) – currently 8%
  • Get to 20% of Tournee du Chat Noir (Lesley Anne Ivory/HAED) – currently 13.96%
Just a wee bit of black to add…

I’m starting with just the 15 projects to allow myself some new starts, which I think will keep me more on target. Last year I flittered and fluttered, managing only seven small stand-alone finishes and five full coverage pages.  Let’s see how I get on!

WIP Wednesday #294

Woo hoo! Back from a long, invigorating and inspiring weekend away, followed up by illness then a holiday weekend, I’m resenting being here in the office when I have so many things I want to do. My personal highlight from the retreat has to be that (I think) seven or eight people rang the bell after FFO’ing their biscornu! It was the first time I’ve released a full design into the wild, so to speak, and it was cool seeing all the variations of it.

I brought quite a bit of haul – less so than what I thought I might tho – and the best is already started. Hannah had finished Blackbird Design’s Strawberry Fields Forever, and Catherine was able to part kit it. I’m using mostly the charted threads on 28ct Countrystitch Toitoi lugana.

Catherine also had another skein of the waterlilies thread I needed for Red Velvet, and that was a finish on the 12th.

I also finished up CloudsFactory Labyrinth on the 14th – not sure why I didn’t get this done months ago!

Since then I have completed 2% more of Tournee du Chat Noir and while I’m struggling to complete a diagonal, I am just popping all over putting in some bulk ecru when we’re talking, or the red circle around the cat when I’m by myself and can concentrate.

9.84%
11.84%

I am watching the first season of The Chelsea Detective on Acorn (a mostly British TV streaming service). It’s quiet, thoughtful, quirky – all the good things. Each episode is about 90 minutes, long enough for a good story. The second season is in production and hopefully there will be a lot more.  Reading-wise, I finished the third Richard Osman book, The Bullet That Missed.  Again, it’s quiet, thoughtful and quirky – I really enjoy the characters in this series. If only I’m as sprightly as Elizabeth when I’m retired! I have a bit of a book hangover now, so I don’t know what to start next. I’m listening to Anne Cleeves “Vera” novels but flirting with fluff books on my reader. Any suggestions?

WIP Wednesday #293 & September WIPocalypse

Hi everyone, sorry I didn’t write last week but honestly I had nothing to say (and today is Friyay, definitely not Wednesday!).  It was post-daylight savings and I’m always a mess then, and I didn’t really have much of a stitchy bug. I worked for a few nights on Cliffhanger, then swapped over to the Ink Circles Red Velvet, which I am actually doing in a Caron Waterlilies thread, 177 Sapphire. I’ve realised that I will fall short there as it will take more than the full skein, bugger, but I’ve put a call out in local groups to see if anyone has any. I initially borrowed the pattern from Liz C but have since purchased it on Tracy Horner/Ink Circle’s website and loaded into Pattern Keeper – much faster progress! I have become too used to digital charts now. The freedom to zoom in and jump around is really helpful to me. I wish all of Cathy Habermann/Hands On Design worked in there too. I have a lot of those to do.

Red Velvet in Blue

September 25 – Are you a seasonal stitcher? If so, which seasons do you find yourself more productive or less productive? I love stitching Christmas stuff, but I find I am stitching more as the whim hits, rather than seasons. Not sure what I will do next year, but I am tempted by a No Starts, as then I’d get finishes…but then I’d also have more stuff simply hanging in the wardrobe unframed.

This weekend I am off to Thames, for the 2022 Cross Stitch retreat. I am so looking forward to catching up with people and collecting my haul from Catherine. Not sure now how much I am looking forward to teaching my first class – the stage fright is real.

WIP Wednesday #292

Hi everyone

I’ve had a finishy week – both the Thames biscornu is complete, ready for assembly at class AND I completed the Just Nan Porch Garden Mice humbug. Lesson? Always interface Floba before finishing. I didn’t, and the base is a bit shady. However, it’s done and on the shelf! That’s another assembly method I now can do.

Shady side hidden!

I also machine stitched the small stockings for the Makower UK advent calendar. 48hems, 24 assembled items – it was actually quite brain numbing but now it’s DONE hallelujah. I still need to iron and buy a wide red or gold ribbin, and 24 wooden clips for the display, but it’s only September so I’m doing OK.

I also had a follow up visit with the GP regarding my long covid, and I now have another daily med to add to the rattle. After two days my sinuses do feel less “full” or pressurised, so hopefully this stops the frequent headaches and migraines. She said it’s very common for sinuses to go into overdrive for an extended period, but couldn’t tell me how long this period might be!

WIP Wednesday #291

Hi everyone! It was an odd week, with highs and lows. RIP Queen Elizabeth; you served your people faithfully and well. I intend to watch her service and give thanks. I expect Mum would have hung the bunting out in heaven; she always wanted to meet the Queen.

In fun stuff, I am planning a Taskmaster party for Mase’s birthday. He was sick the original weekend, and now of course nearly every weekend is another friend’s party, so we’ll do it in the warmer weather. Not a bad thing, really. It should be hilarious. And messy. These things often are!

Stitching wise, Stitch West had a meet-up and it’s so good to be with other needleworkers. We are so different in our goals, experiences and beliefs but everyone treats each other with respect and humour. I love that. And it’s less than a few weeks to the annual retreat – this time at Thames, a coastal town in the Coromandel.

I have some good progress on Rogue Dragon, and his top half is nearly complete. He’s really satisfying to work on as there are so few people stitching him, so the little quirks are a surprise. A few people have asked for the conversion details too which is very complimentary. It’s not complete yet so no sharing.

Hope you all have a good week.

WIP Wednesday #290

Well – so much for willpower, as I said on the facebook post. I have not finished the Garden Porch mice, or the second set of waves on the Thames biscornu, but I started the Rogue Dragon.

Garden Porch Mice on Floba, using DMC Perle #5

In Nora Corbett’s patreon, the majority of people chose her red/orange colourway in the first posts. Me, I’m different (hold the phone!) but as I said then, I’ll work on a conversion. It was going to be blues, so Talith , from MacCaffrey. Talith was the dragon to suggest using the fire lizards stone to create the flame that kills Thread. I know, ironic isn’t it? Someone else is using Glaurang, from Tolkien; and I’m sure there will be other names from literature. And probably a Fred or two. And then I went greens, so this is Morath, who rescued Debera from her father’s attempt at imprisonment post Search. This is with seven day’s work.

Rogue Dragon on Platinum lugana

And if you don’t know the series, start with Dragonsdawn by Anne MacCaffrey. That way you can read chronologically rather than as she wrote/published, as those dart around as her muse took her. And there’s a few books written by her children to round out the series. But only if you like fantasy. If you want a non-fiction, and I’m aware I may be a bit late to the party, but I was recommended and started Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle by Claire Hunter (pub 2020).  It’s fascinating.

We had a lovely weekend away with Mase. He’s now 13, and we got the best email from his teacher, so decided to go do his things in Rotorua as a treat. Did the usual luge (where I watch, coffee and stitch while they race), a couple of touristy things like Paradise Springs, and another bout of mini golf where I won again, hooray! Si “borrowed” one of B’s rugby balls (turned out this was without permission, eep) so he took photos of the ball and sent them to B frequently. Who sent back ridiculous text messages in return. Oh dear, this is my life!

A Very Late Update

So it’s been a long while since I wrote. If you haven’t been on my IG, we’ve got a lot to catch up on.

Family-wise, we’ve grown although maybe not in the expected way. Back in February, Si  was putting in the last of the Expol underfloor insulation. I was in the room above him and I heard an “oh shit!’ then a much much louder “go and get your mother!”. I went around and under the house where he told me that he thought we had rats. We don’t even have a compost bin and live in suburbia, and I thought this was really unrealistic. Sure enough, after I grabbed his headtorch and had a look, it wasn’t. I was exceptionally passive aggressive when I made the torch shine directly in his eyes and said “…it’s kittens”.

Turns out Mama Cat was dumped when the people behind us moved out. She wasn’t much more than a kitten herself and was malnourished and therefore so were the kittens. We found three live kittens and brought them into the house to be warmed up and fed. So now we have Charlie (was 205gm), Elise (was 225gm) and Kayn (was 265gm) – at nearly six months, Kayn is “average” while the girls are much smaller, but everyone is now thriving. Mama is now spayed and re-homed, but the three terrors are staying with us.

Charlie, day one
Kayn, Elise & Charlie, night one
Charlie, on Sunday. An ideal builders cat!

And I have a teenager again – and we’ve done the high school visit. Ouch.

Work-wise, nothing much has changed for me. The role has reduced down again, so it’s getting to time to look for something more. I have read over the material for the next Tikanga paper, and decided not to proceed there. I think language might be the go, or a dressmaking course. Honestly, it’s all about me so I’ll move the way I want to.

Reading-wise, I am devouring older Nora Roberts, Deb Kastner, Becky Wade and anything that has a Christian/K-9 Assistance trope. Luckily that’s a huge swathe of Harlequin novels so I’ll be there until that runs out.  Re-watching older episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, Taskmaster UK, and The Great British Sewing Bee. I made a lined waistcoat for Si, for his formal awards dinner (his team theme was loud), and now I’ve mastered darts and bagging out. Woot. Patrick Grant would still be looking down his nose at it!

Stitching wise, I have finished quite a few things, started some more and purchased even more. I have mastered a few embroidery stitches – queen was a real headache to ensure it was even – and have put off starting a Chatelaine mandala as (insert gasps here) I have fallen into the full coverage rabbit hole. I know. I know!! Please God, let me live to 102… Pattern Keeper is an amazing app

Finishes:

  • Mirabilia Fairy Idyll
  • HOD North Pole Trading Company (adapted to two antlers, not three)
  • Mill Hill Sunday Night (two of course, and FFO’d)
  • HOD Cookie Exchange SAL (need to FFO on a kitchen board)
  • HOD Reflect Upon Your Present Blessings
  • La-D-Da Sweet Pea (on Floba, FFO’d even!)
  • Tis The Season Abigail’s Sampler (good for learning new stitches)
  • Faby Reilly Fox biscornu (ready to FFO at the Thames Retreat)
Sweet Pea #ffo

Still to complete:

  • Chatelaine Castle I (still back stitching the gate)
  • Beth Twist/Heartstring Samplery Coffee Quaker (my over one conversion)
  • Mirabilia Princess Elliana (still working on conversion)
  • Mirabilia Le Nouveau Sampler (LHS of garden)
  • Mirabilia Fairy Tales (to bead)

Started since we last chatted:

  • Nora Corbett Coral Charms (converting to the same look as my Luce Mia mermaid)
  • Stitching Jules’ Watercolour Sheltie (via etsy, about 15%)
  • HAED Lesley Anne Ivory Tournee Le Chat Noir (about 12%, but it’s HUGE)
  • Ink Circles Red Velvet
  • HAED Aimee Stewart Cliffhanger (mini, just over 26%)
  • Just Nan Garden Porch Mice (on floba)
Cliffhanger by Aimee Stewart

I’m also working on the Nora Corbett Patreon pattern, Rogue Dragon. He’ll be converted, as hers is red/orange tones, and that isn’t my jam. He’s the next cab off the rank once Garden Porch Mice is done, as I really do want to see what & how the humbug forms. I’ve not completed one of those before. One of the ladies at the embroidery group I go to had one done last month, but on 32ct so much smaller. I have the 32ct for this one still with the chart, but I doubt I’ll do it again. Also, the urn and mice could go well into another Hare, especially if I was to use the same shape as the Sweet Pea I finished this month.

Anyway, I will try to write more frequently. I’d like to get back into a weekly routine again, and Zeb has been asking for flosstube again. Not sure if I have the emotional spoons for that but we’ll see. Where on earth would I start from??

Take care!

August 21 WIPocalypse

Hello everyone! WIPocalypse is the monthly check-in SAL hosted by Measi on her blog, and via the Facebook group – we welcome all enablers! Click on the icon to the right to learn more.  If you’re a crafter, please join up either on your blog or via the Facebook group.

Last month I signed up to do the Marathon, which basically meant I needed to be monogamous to the one piece. I’d started the Bothy Threads/Hannah Dale Moongazer pattern and as it was relatively easy to transport, staying faithful to it was also easy (also helped by UPS sitting on my other parcel for five weeks).  I got to roughly the half-way mark during the event, which I was pretty happy with. I finished Tiger later in the month and switched over to Fairy Idyll, as that’s what I was feeling.

Saturday mid-month is our local Stitch Group meet-up in Te Atatu, a small peninsula here in West Auckland. I look forward to this get-together but sometimes I’m a bit cross with myself, that it took me so long to find a group of crafty, funny, soul-enriching people. I put the kids and SI’s refereeing first for so many Saturdays but now that we’re getting into the next phase (only one truly dependent child, woot!) it is easier to be selfish. I used this meet-up as an opportunity to pass on some of The Dragon’s stash, and about ¾ is now gone. The remainder will go into the pile I’ll take to the annual meet-up next year, or to the Hospice shop. The additional benefit this last weekend was that Mase was at a birthday party/overnighter so there wasn’t any hurry to be somewhere after. Next month will need to be a Teams or Zoom meeting I guess.

At my embroidery class I’ve mastered stem stitch, and surprised myself by remembering how to do woven roses without any nudging. I’m making myself a felt scissor pouch to start with, as the clippers I use came in the most useless, fragile plastic wallet and really need to be contained. Hopefully I will find the Stitchsmith Tree of Life project that I put away in a fit of feeling inadequate and be able to finish it. Class is now postponed until we are in Level One. Bugger.

Looking at my second half’s goals:

  • Complete Un Ricarmo per Rinascere COMPLETED
  • Complete Bothy “Moongazer” COMPLETED
  • Complete the Chatelaine Castle I (at half way mark) REPLACING WITH FAIRY IDYLL
  • Complete Faby Reilly Fox biscornu (at back stitch mark, & back to stitch)

Pretty content with where I’m at for this point, altho I am thinking of simply not making the Fox biscornu into a biscornu, and just framing the front piece. I have so many things that I want to work on that I am going to end up doing small-Mira-small-Mira for a while. And by Mira I mean that I will take one of the kitted ones and work on it until I’m bored or frustrated, then switch to a small. Fairy Idyll is be the first cab off the rank, as I have the two arms over one and some of her dress to do, then she’s done…

  • Fairy Idyll (three quarters completed)
  • Elliana (started the conversion)
  • Twisted Mermaids (want to convert to be the twin of Under the Deep Blue)
  • Ophelia (not started, going to use Dewn’s face conversion)
  • Garden Prelude (not started)
  • Feather Fairy (not started)
  • Holly Pixie (not started)
  • Moonlight Laguna (not started)
  • Sunrise Laguna (not started)
  • Coral Charms (convert to the same as my Luce Mia mermaid)
  • Bella Vita (convert to the same as my Luce Mia mermaid)

September is Sampler September, and as is typical, I cannot find my chart of Le Nouveaux Sampler (yes, another Mirabilia!) so I’ve borrowed Zeb’s via a non-contact delivery, and have started this on 28count Feijoa Lugana from Countrystitch. A replacement has left Chicago airport and is on it’s way out to me now. This means of course that I will find my original chart in a couple of weeks…

August 29 – Which of your project finishes made you the most proud? The most relieved?

I think my favourite finish would be the Alma Lynne Noah’s Ark sampler. This is the first piece I modified, adding in the details about Brandon at birth; the first time I substituted in different threads, using metallic for the lightning bolt; and the first I had framed for our own house.

The most relieved would be Persephone. Not only was she HUGE I was using my own colour conversion and a fabric that could have gone very, very bad. I can see a couple of things I’d change now but overall, phew, she’s on the wall!

Book Review: Echoes of War by Tania Blanchard

BLURB: Set in Mussolini’s Italy amid great upheaval, this is the story of one woman’s determination to find her place in a world that men are threatening to tear apart. Another heart-rending novel inspired by a true story from the bestselling author of The Girl from Munich.
Calabria, Italy, 1936
In a remote farming village nestled in the mountains that descend into the sparkling Ionian Sea, young and spirited Giulia Tallariti longs for something more. While she loves her home and her lively family, she would much rather follow in her nonna’s footsteps and pursue her dream of becoming a healer.
But as Mussolini’s focus shifts to the war in Europe, civil unrest looms. Whispers of war are at every corner and her beloved village, once safe from the fascist agenda of the North, is now in very real danger.
Caught between her desire to forge her own path and her duty to her family, Giulia must draw on the passion in her heart and the strength of her conviction. Can she find a way to fulfill her dreams or will the echoes of war drown out her voice?

My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author has included glimpses of her Italian family history, interwoven into a clever and thoughtful pre & during WW2 novel. The social history is well rounded, with the contrasts between northern and southern Italy, city and village, fisher and farmer, parent and child all written with a lot of truth behind them. Traditionally, as a New Zealander, Italy was always thrown into the “axis of evil” basket, and I hadn’t given much thought to the people that made up Italy during the 1930s & 1940s, what made them tick, what they needed and what they were subject to. This book certainly opened my eyes to this, and also made me think about the intersections between natural medicines and modern techniques (well, modern in 1945!).
The joy and grief resonate and I’m going back in for a second read.

I received this ARC via #netgalley.