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.

July 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.

Since I last posted, I have some finishes! Un Ricarmo per Rinascere is done, and the following day I finished the beading on Nora Corbett’s Winter Bear. He’s a little altered from the original, as I am going to mount him on a canvas and I used a different bugle bead. Otherwise he’s as per the chart, on 28ct Evening Shadows Lugana from Countrystitch. URPR is on 28ct Geyser Lugana from Countrystitch, beads and threads as charted.

On a positive note, I found the fox biscornu bag! I haven’t opened it, but at least I know where it is now – in my WIP pile in my stitch dresser. I also did some “housework” and cleaned up my DMC threads, added them into Stash Cache and sorted out all the other brands (Anchor, Sullivans) to go to another stitcher.

There’s an upcoming WIPocalypse challenge based around the Summer Olympics. From Measi’s blog:

The rescheduled Tokyo Summer Olympics will take place July 23 – August 8, 2021. For the duration of the Olympics (defined as beginning of the day to the end of the day in your time zone), you can pick and choose from the following “events” to add some spice to your stitching. All optional, of course!

  • Marathon – pick one piece, and dedicate yourself to progress on that single piece for the duration of the Olympics.
  • Olympic Flag – You may stitch on any piece or combination of pieces, but only stitch in the colors of the Olympic rings – blue, yellow, black, green, and red, as well as white (the background of the flag).
  • Sprint – Choose either a time block (for example, 3 hours) or a number of stitches that you can do fairly quickly in an afternoon, and see how many projects you can work on during the Olympics. If you prefer to limit to a certain number of pieces and just do a rapid rotation, this also would count as a sprint.
  • Decathlon – Pick ten pieces by ten different designers and complete at least 200 stitches OR 3 hours on each during the Olympics.

The Bothy Threads kit Moongazer (why did I call that Moonlight last month??) arrived at work while I was away sick, and so therefore all temptation to have a new start ceased, and is the real reason I have two finishes J however, I intend to do the “marathon” event for the Olympic stitching, and hopefully this one will be a finish long before the Games are over. He really is very beautiful, confetti and all! I am stitching him on 28ct Cashel (for a change) in Waterfall from Countrystitch.

Moongazer after four days work

On that note, and probably because I am risk-adverse and at heart a scientist, but What The Actual?? Who thinks it’s an okay idea to run an event of this size and nature during a pandemic? Also, Boris et all should be taken out the back and locked up for being criminally negligent. Pretty happy the Australian and NZ Rugby League teams won’t be travelling to the UK in a few months.

July 25 – Have you ever attended a stitching retreat? If so, tell us about your experiences. As I said last month, I attended the Christchurch meet-up that was open to all NZ members. It wasn’t a retreat as such, as the accommodation and the event were in different locations, but it’s opened me up to meeting new people. I’ve attended two of the three West Auckland meet-ups, and once rugby season is over, I’ll be going to the monthly North Shore events too. 

June 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.

June is that time where we recap our stitching goals for the year.

  • Complete stitching Red Skies at Night; DONE
  • Stitch Autumn/Winter and Spring series from Hands On Design;  NO
  • Stitch couple of Sandra Cozzolino Santa’s; NO but I brought more, does that count?
  • Start a second full coverage piece; NO
  • Work a little bit on Fred (Tapestry Cat); NO
  • Learn some new stitches. DONE, thanks to a partially completed Chatelaine.

I’ve been letting my whims take me along recently; and since the Christchurch stitch meet-up I’ve continued to expand my stitchy horizons. I’ve managed to get to one of the monthly Auckland meet-ups at Te Atatu Library (next one is 17th July, from noon, come along if you’re local & crafty); started a stitch Te Reo class (Te Reo being the Maori language, Maori being the indigenous people of New Zealand) and have brought a few more things, including a reprint of a Dimensions kit, The Finery of Nature; and two recent Mirabilias, Ophelia and Twisted Mermaids. I think I’m reaching SABLE point!

This last month I’ve worked on my Te Reo piece, E pai ana au (I am good) which is the answer to another kit, E pēhea ana koe? These are designed by Gemma Steward, @gbsneedlepoint on IG, and most of the class has completed their design, which is a great indication of how good a tutor Gemma is, as most of the class hadn’t stitched before. I’m there for the language and people.

At work, I’m reading and working on the Mill Hill Sunday Night kit, one for me and one for Louise. For only the second time, I’ve run out of a thread doing the second piece, but as it’s all DMC I’m not fussed. Home has been Un Ricarmo per Rinascere, and I’m into the bottom half of the chart. I’d like this to be done before Ophelia arrives.

I’m going to set some goals for the last half of the year:

  • Complete Un Ricarmo per Rinascere (past half way mark)
  • Complete Bothy “Moonlight” (not yet started)
  • Complete the Chatelaine Castle I (at half way mark)
  • Complete Faby Reilly Fox biscornu (at back stitch mark) ALSO find where I put that, whoops

I’m not making any buy/sell promises or goals. We all know I’m not sticking to anything there!

In Praise of Picture Books

The other month, while on the way to rugby training, RNZ said something almost unforgiveable. The Great Eric Carle was now the Late, Great, Eric Carle. From the back seat came a howl.

I am unabashedly a book worm. I’ll read (need!) almost anything printed, and always have. I’ve tried to bring up all four of our kids as readers, and like to think I’ve succeeded with three of them. We have solid collections of favourites, from Winnie the Pooh to last year’s The Inkberg Enigma (buy it from Unity!) and cover a wide range of genres, especially when you add on their dad’s favs, and books are part of day-to-day life.

The howl had come from Mr 11 and his mate, Kobe the First. They reminisced about The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and made their own list of what they could or would eat should they have the sudden urge to hibernate (rather less fruit and veges than the original). We then moved onto some other favourites and here’s some we think you can’t go wrong with.

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Buy this in a board format. Buy it as soon as you know you’re pregnant, or on the way to the baby shower. Stash a few at home for Welcome Baby presents. You can’t go wrong with this one.
  2. The Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy. Perfect for the child whose imagination blurs with reality, this Kiwi classic is on its second generation in our household. The extra beauty of the writing is that the main character (AKA the Boy) is never named, so you can very simply personalise this with your favourite person (hint: your child. That’s supposed to be your child). Another great Mahy is the Man Who’s Mother Was a Pirate.
  3. The Kiss That Missed by David Melling. This picture book is the start of a trilogy, all cleverly illustrated with plenty of subtle detail. It starts off with the King being in an awful hurry, and not stopping by to kiss his Prince good night…very relatable! Melling has plenty of other picture and hard books to choose from too.
  4. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd – another Kiwi classic that is just about on the second generation! Hairy and his mates are now in board book, paperback, video, live action plays etc and littlies love the rhythm and rhyme of these titles.
  5. The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathon King– a Kiwi graphic novel that is aimed at 8+ readers or anyone that still loves Tintin.

WIP Wednesday #289

Hi everyone! I’m resonating with the line from a Mariana Zapata novel, where the child has been “ranting for a small eternity”. Anyone else have the feels here?  It’s raining heaps, the household is full, at work we’re all full on, and patience is running out. Yay, Winter. But we need the rain, our local dam has been running very low for quite some time (atho not as low as the Hoover in the States – did you see that news article? The “bath rings” quote was apt). Of course our new water tank (which is not household, just for my gardens & topping up the pool in summer) isn’t installed yet.

There’s a bit of gaming going on, and a bit of Lego. A lot of sport, and for me, a lot of reading (Penny Reid mostly). I have divided up my stitch WIPS to Un Ricarmo per Rinascere at home (last worked on in September 2019), and a new start, a Mill Hill church kit at work. I love Mill Hill for work/travel; easy to pick up where you left off, easy to work on while in the car, or having a conversation; not quite small enough to work on at my desk however!

NOTE: If you’re looking for Un Ricarmo, it’s only available as a digital download from Casa Cenina in Italy. Nora Corbett designed her as a memorial for those who were affected by the earthquakes that rocked central Italy in 2017. Please do not buy second hand or via Etsy/eBay/whatever – the true purpose of the chart will be lost if you do. https://www.casacenina.com/mirabilia-design-nora-corbett/un-ricamo-per-rinascere.html

I reached the finish point of the May Cotton & Twine kit; I haven’t used their border as I want to personalise this once we buy a seaside getaway/retirement home. I did add a French knot for the door handle – perfect with the first attempt! – so it’s to one side for now. No rush. I’m swapping out last month’s chart and threads for a previous release and looking forward to next month’s kit – it’s a new-to-me finish, on a coarsely woven bag. So while expensive, I am enjoying these kits. I didn’t stitch even one of the charts from Sassy Devils (altho for the most part I liked their fabric and extras) so that’s nice.

Anyways, off to look after the sick littlest this afternoon. Hopefully by the time I get there he’ll have finished vomiting and we’ll have a quiet snuggly afternoon.

A Very Late May 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 – we welcome all enablers!

I haven’t written for a while. We had a wee drama in the family (be proud of me, I didn’t rip someone’s head off for destroying one of my babies self-confidence & happiness) and a trip away from home. Lots of rugby training and games – Mase took out both Coach and Manager’s choice one Saturday. A RunAuckland walk, where Mase only beat me by a minute or so. A cold running its way thru the house, and antibiotics for me. Si & I have been to both a 7 Days and a Taskmaster episode filming (making up for not being well enough to attend the comedy festival in early May). The weather has turned to winter (boo) and it’s getting time to snuggle in and hibernate, despite the Christmas Eve rose still going strong.

Our trip was to Christchurch, the major city in the South Island. I had brought a ticket for the two-day NZ Cross Stitch group meet-up, and Si, Lou & Mase came down also. We flew in the day before, and out the day after, and the three of them explored all over the general environs. My favourite spot was the pier that goes out from New Brighton beach; it was almost full moon, crisp and clear. I love the sound of the sea.

The meet-up was good too! So lovely to get together with like-minded people, and I attended the lacing class. I’ve more than a few things to frame, and now that the local framer’s lacer isn’t available anymore, I can do that first step myself. Much better than staples or tape! I also dropped in plenty of charts for the freebie table, and got a few more back – a couple of Mirabilia and two more Teresa Wentzler’s. I really need to finish Tapestry Cat so I can start another TW. Fred will look gorgeous up on the wall.

May 30 – What was the first project you ever stitched? (whether you finished or not)? I can’t remember the first pieces, but I do remember the first one I had framed. It is a Stoney Creek design that I’ve seen a few times, the mother dog and puppies from the cover. I stitched it for my brother Johnny & his wife Tania; no idea if they still have it! I’ve stitched the puppy on the left for a couple of people as requests also, and still have the much battered chart booklet. I stitched the Alsatian by the letterbox and the cat on the front cover; possibly even the Yorkie. Zac has the cat framed in his room.

I can tell you what my latest project is – the Craftiness is Happiness April kit from Cotton & Twine, the UK subscription box. I finished that today (June 8th here in NZ) and will FFO tonight in the hoop as per their suggestion. That’s washi tape around the edge, also from the kit, and I’ll use that on my Hands On Summer hoops that I stitched earlier, as some 4” hoops have arrived and I think that’s a good look.

WIP Wednesday #289

Hello everyone! It’s late Wednesday and I’m about to head off to bed… My brain is very very tired. But before I do, here’s my WIP of Mirabilia Princess Elliana, definitely a work in progress with an awful lot of frogging.

This is just tonight, playing with the band above the blue (which is brown in the original). I’m still not sure about the darkest band, but I’ll wait a few days and see… The hair, collar, skin and tassel are as charted.

My second drool piece is a copy of Elisabetta Sforza’s latest. OMG.

I brought my copy of Ricamare il Mare from the most local retailer – A Stitch in Time in Tasmania! I’ll be visiting that shop when we head over to explore.

I’ll need to do a lot more practice and drop some cross stitch projects down the want to work on list. I brought a pattern today for a felt apple, each wedge being an example of a set of stitches, then the finished item becomes not only a visual guide but a practical item too – a pincushion, or with a weighted fill, a paperweight perhaps.

Anyway, have a lovely week. Take care of yourselves, physically and mentally. A challenge for you – keep a 7 day diary, just one sentence of something that makes you happy that day. I’ll share mine next week.

April 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 – we welcome all enablers!

April was a mixed bag for me; I have gone well outside the SFS budget, especially as I found all the things (this particular book is on an airplane as I write, and I totally concur with Mary Corbet’s view of it being gorgeous –

https://www.needlenthread.com/2020/10/a-sea-to-stitch-and-its-gorgeous.html ) I finished stitching Winter Bear from Nora Corbett (he still needs a few beads that I am waiting on), did a little on my Chatelaine, a little on the Faby Reilly fox biscornu, a little on a Mill Hill ornament, a little on Mirabilia’s Fairy Tales – you get the picture. I did get one finish but that’s technically a May one – Merry Berry from Hands On Design/Squareology was finished in a temporary hoop, as I don’t have any 4” ones as yet.

Yesterday was my birthday, so I treated myself to a new start – Princess Elliana by Mirabilia. I plan to convert a lot of her dress to shades of blues but keeping the hair/skin/flower tones as is. This is on Countrystitch’s Urewera Mist, the same fabric that I used for Shakespeare’s Fairies.

April 25 – Have you found yourself to be more or less productive in your stitching during the Covid-19 pandemic? Given we only had a relatively short lockdown and of that, I only had a week off work, I’m actually finding myself quite burnt out now. Life here in NZ is still quite “normal” in most areas, except Tourism, and I find myself impatient with those countries that haven’t seemed to have caught on that this pandemic is horrific, unforgiving and needed to have shutdowns to effectively close if off before we can vaccinate. I was a lot more productive last year when working from home as I kept something by my desk to keep myself calm, but can’t do that in the office sadly! I do manage about half an hour a day at work during my breaks but most is at home, squeezed into my weekend.

WIP Wednesday #288

Hello everyone! I had quite a productive week, but not stitch-wise. A very dear friend had the unenviable task of cleaning her family home, preparing for the sale, so we helped out there; I went for a couple of long walks then snooze-crashed; there was a LOT of laundry as we transition to the winter wardrobe; time with the kid and time reading. I only watched my Rabbitohs play this week, not even the TV could keep me awake!

Bear is now sitting on part of his floe. Maybe a finish this week?