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?

WIP Wednesday #287

Hello everyone! Well, we’ve definitely found winter here in Auckland. I’ve pulled out the long sleeved tops and found my Ugg like slippers – all I need is for my Snag order to arrive and I’ll be set.

I haven’t stitched most days but as I said last week, Winter Bear stitches up fast. Fortunately the reds that I chose to sub for the more pinky scarf tones worked perfectly first time out, so that helped!

I just have the ice floe and water to complete, then beads. I’ve already sorted out how I’ll #ffo and can’t wait to get to that part.

WIP Wednesday #286

Here I am, writing for the second time this week! Hopefully this is a new normal…

Currently I’m binging on The Gulf on Netflix. It’s a police procedural drama, set on Waiheke Island, just off the coast of Auckland, so it’s a bit of home. There are too many little clues to have it going while working, but it’s good for breaks.

I ended up putting Fairy Tales away for a few days. Those yellow roses are annoying me, altho I have the pink conversion worked out. Instead I’ve finally gotten Winter Bear, a Nora Corbett release from earlier this year, and started him on an eighth of Evening Shadows lugana from Countrystitch. The tonal change of white, off white, lightest grey is very smooth.

It’s stitching up quite quickly.

Woo-hoo!!

Hello everyone! I am feeling on top of my little world right about now, having finished the Auckland half marathon series with a PB in the 5KM portion (which is what I am limited to), finishing at 53:40 and 219/259 finishers. Si also got a PB yesterday for the half, and Mase ran in his first race and pulled up happy with his performance, but outraged that his age group is from his 11 to (family friend’s son) James’ 19! He will need to learn how to pace himself, as he went too fast in the first two K, then walked a bit, then ran the last 2K. Here he is at the finish line:

I’ve hung my collection of medals from the 10K at Devonport & Omaha; and the three 5km events from Maretai, Coatesville and the Waterfront on the end of my desk, as a daily reminder that even tho these things can be hard, and getting out there is important.

WIP Wednesday #285 & a WIPocalypse update

Hi everyone. Again, long time no write. I am really struggling for motivation, both in work and play. Our clocks went back on Sunday last week, wah, and it feels like summer has up and left. Saturday I was lounging around in shorts, and Sunday I was scrambling for trackies! The rest of the week we’ve been hovering in that almost overcast 21 degrees area, so it’s not quite sundress but not quite a wrap weather.

I made the decision to leave #magicalstitches for the remainder of this year at least. I wasn’t keeping up with the reading, let alone the stitching, and the notifications were overwhelming. It’s too big a group for me and was making me more anxious – the very thing your hobby shouldn’t make you! I did very little stitching for a good 2-3 weeks, just spending (oh boy!) and therefore I’m not going to keep up with SFS this year either. It’s all good as I don’t have a budget as we’re very lucky to not have our incomes affected, and still afford to have teenager appetites scrounging off us.

So no finishes since the last time I wrote, and I’m waiting on one order from Catherine at Countrystitch, two 123Sttich orders, the last Sassy Devils pouch (I cancelled this sub as the quality has dropped over the last two pouches, possibly as they had one of the team leave) and I added on the Spring box from Cotton & Twine as it has an exclusive Emma Congdon/Stitchrovia design that I want to do. Even if it is on the (to be supplied) aida! I could always give that away I suppose.

So, to WIPocalypse and the questions. February was What stitch-a-longs (SALs) are you participating in this year? and March was What is your process for working on WIPs? Are you a one-at-a-time stitcher, a rotation stitcher, or something else?

So. Feb is easy now – absolutely NOTHING (please say NOTHING in your best Sergeant Schulz voice, okay?).

And for the March question – that’s much harder. Right now I am whateverying, or stitching on whatever I have a whim to work on. Last week I pulled out Mirabilia’s Fairy Tales, looked at it for a few days, frogged the offending colours, looked at it again for a few days, then started stitching. I am not a fan of the rose colours here but I can’t get them quite right – hopefully third time will be the charm! I do want to finish this one and maybe Un Ricarmo before I start another – I have several mermaids, plus Holly, Feather Fairy and the Christmas Fairy to start. Or I just start all the things!