Sunday, November 15, 2020

Seasonal Stitch-a-Long, part 3

Hi everyone! What a long, strange three weeks it's been. Hope you are all safe, healthy, and happy. I'm writing this early as we'll be spending the weekend away for our fifteenth anniversary, which seems unbelievable. 

I'm happy to report that at 10:30 pm on Halloween night, I finished all the stitching on my sugar skulls project:


(Yeah, it was a pretty quiet night...)

Then I sewed them back-to-back in pairs, and hung them on my little Halloween tree. Ahhh. 


I've decided to set myself a task to make an ornament every year for that tree. And, of course, I already have next year's planned. (Ha!) Yep, it's another Mill Hill Beads kit, but this one is much smaller and simpler. But we'll talk about that NEXT October!

I thought I should start work on a Christmas project ... ideally one of the vintage "felt and sequins" kits in my stash. But instead I decided to start on a funny little kit that I had seen, randomly, in a craft store while my husband and I were killing time as our trailer hitch was installed. 


It was so ridiculous that it made my husband laugh. It was in a big chain store that I don't like to shop at due to how they treat their employees, so I didn't buy it. Then a few days later I saw the kit, and well, I couldn't resist it. Amusingly, when it arrived it had accidentally been sent as TWO kits, and when I contacted the store they just told me to keep it. 

As a "learn to craft" kit, it stitched up very quickly.


I wasn't sure what to do with the finished piece, but decided to stitch it on to a packing cube I am giving Wil for Christmas. (Super romantic, eh? Let's just say it's the gift of adventures yet to come...)


Now would I start a Christmas kit? Yes and no. I found this silly banner in my stash. 


I opened it up, read the instructions, and looked at all the bits. And I STILL didn't feel like starting it. 


Weird, eh? In the meantime, I had decided to try needle felting. (Yeah, I'm pretty scattered lately...). I found a really cute and well-priced kit on Etsy and bought one for me and one for a girlfriend. She and I have been holding weekly "Happy Hours" via FaceTime and figured we could do them together. 

They're certainly imperfect, but I'm pleased with the results for a first attempt!

Feels like the only thing I didn't work on was either the Christmas banner or my lovely tiger! But now that it's November, it's time to get the banner started. I hope to have something to show at our next check-in,  on December 6. (Maybe...)

The other incredibly talented stitchers work on a variety of beautiful projects -- pop over to their blogs for a bit of inspiration! 

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, SueConstanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, CarmelaSharon, DaisyAnne, Connie, AJ, JennyLaura, Cathie, Linda, and Helen.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

October OMG almost complete: calavera ornaments


My goal for October was to stitch up at least two of these calavera ornaments from Mill Hill Beads to decorate my little Halloween tree. I didn't know at the time how long each one would take me to do -- turns out the stitching was very fast, but oh, that beading took a long time! Still, I have completed the stitching on all six, and the beading on five. So close!


My plan in the "this is going so well" middle portion of the month was to do all the stitching and the beading and then cut them out, sew them back to back, and hang them on the tree. So here I am on Halloween with no new ornaments -- but over the next few days I'll finish the beading and get these lovelies hung on my little tree for at least a day or so before I take it down. I mean, you don't take your Christmas tree down on December 26, do you?


Spooky! Also, I can't resist sharing my pretty little glass pumpkin patch:


It was the first time I had ever stitched on perforated paper, and it was actually pretty great. No hoop, no frame, just a bit of stiff paper. I may well find myself stitching more of their ornaments in the future. 

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see how everyone did on their October projects on the Finish Party page. Or choose an OMG project of your own and join us in November. I'm actually thinking of -- dare I say it -- a Christmas-themed project then!


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Seasonal Stitch-a-Long, part 2

 Hi everyone! I hope you're all happy and healthy.

Last time I had decided to take a break from my tiger needlepoint and work on these skull ornament kits from Mill Hill:

You may recall that I couldn't decide between the colors, so of course I bought all six. (I know I am a bit of an idiot...) I also didn't have a sense for how long each kit would take. 

When I started, the stitching felt easy, and I thought I would wrap them up very quickly. But the beading took longer than the floss stitching ... and not just because threading the beading needles was so difficult!

I haven't finished any of them, though I have the stitching and beading complete on four, and nearly complete on the fifth. In theory I can get all six done before Halloween!


I like that each is distinctly different, not just in color, but in design: 


And each time I start a new kit, I get the stitching done and think, "that went quickly!" and then realize the real time is in the beading.  Here's the one I'm working on, which has over half of the beads done, and a lot still left to add:

And compare that to an earlier one, with all the beading complete: 


My next steps are to finish the last two designs, cut them out, stitch them back to back, and hang them on my little Halloween tree. Even if they don't get much display time this year, they'll look great for years to come!


Our next check in is on November 14. I think I might shift over to -- dare I say it? Christmas-themed projects! We'll see how I feel. Till then, check out all the great projects that the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long are working on:

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, SueConstanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, CarmelaSharon, DaisyAnne, Connie, AJ, JennyLaura, Cathie, Linda, and Helen.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Wrapping up my last 101 things in 1001 days project... and starting a new one


In January 2018 I kicked off my second 101 things in 1001 days project -- a long enough time to complete biggish projects, but short enough to mean the clock is ticking. My first one wasn't a huge success; even with giving myself an extra 180 days I only completed 43 out of 101 tasks. 

My second one was more successful -- though I still only completed 56 out of 101 tasks. I did well in my "Blogginess" (9/11) and "Craftactular" (25/33) categories; did so-so in my "Adventure Time" (5/9), "Always Be Learning" (6/12), "Bookish" (5/10) and "House Proud" (4/10), but dismal in the important but not very fun "GOHIO" (2/8) and "Fitnecessity" (0/8) categories. Lots of room for improvement. 

I decided that I wanted to kick off a new round sooner rather than later -- and rather than wait until January rolls around, I'm kicking it off tomorrow. I don't even have the full 101 things list yet -- so completing that will be one of the tasks. 

Some -- hey, a lot -- of tasks rolled over, especially the difficult "adulting" ones like make our wills, make our advanced directives, and such. And I've adapted the fitness-related ones to reflect the new reality... and give myself more of a chance of completing them. There are lots of new crafts, lots of new things to learn, and new books to read -- some leftover Darwin, finally finishing Macaulay, darn it, and I want to go through and re-read Orwell. Sigh. You can read the whole new list here.

I'll try to be better about progress reports on a quarterly basis:

250 days : June 17, 2021

500 days : February 22, 2022

750 days : October 30, 2022

1001 days : July 8, 2023


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Tiger Stitch-a-Long, part 3

 Hi everyone! Hope you are all safe and well. Let's see how Mr. Tiger is progressing! Here's where I was 3 weeks ago:


I honestly can't believe that it's been three weeks -- getting our reminder this week came as a shock. But I have gotten quite a bit done. 


I finished the leaves at the bottom and most of the leaves at the top, and then I started working on the background -- largely because I wanted to keep stitching while I was watching television. Just filling in the blanks!

I love that the background in the center is a blend of 2 strands of one color, and 1 strand of another -- creating a mottled effect. 


As we're in October, I'm going to take a break from Mr. Tiger to make some calavera ornaments from Mill Hill:


I couldn't decide which color I wanted to make, and I saw a set of all six available, and, well, you know how it is. 

I got a head start on one ornament, but I honestly can't tell how long it will take me to complete them. There not very big, so by next time I hope to have two or three done. 

Our next check in is on October 25. Till then, check out all the great projects that the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long are working on:

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, SueConstanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, CarmelaSharon, DaisyAnne, Connie, AJ, JennyLaura, Cathie, Linda, and Helen.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

October OMG : Calavera Ornaments

I love Halloween, and for my October OMG I want to stitch up some of these adorable Calavera Ornaments from Mill Hill.


I have a small Halloween tree and try to add a new ornament every year. This year I discovered these lovely kits and, since I couldn't decide which color to get, I GOT EVERY COLOR. 

Amusingly, I closed my eyes and picked a kit to start -- and chose "Azul", which is my least favorite of the six color options. I opened up the kit today during a less-than-enlightening webinar at work... and got a good start on the stitching. I think the beading will be more time consuming, but who knows? 

My goal for October, therefore, is to stitch at least 2 of the skulls and sew them back to back to make an ornament for my Halloween tree. I fully admit that this may be too easy -- but, again, I honestly don't know. We'll see!

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see all the new October projects -- or add your own -- on the Goal Setting page. (You can also see how people did in September on the Finish Party page!)




Sunday, September 27, 2020

September OMG complete : Plus Quilt


My goal for September was to sew on the binding, trim the threads, and finish the quilt I had been working on for a few months. I'm happy to say that it's complete, even though I don't have anywhere I can really show all of it off. 

It's not my best work, frankly. And the fabric colors -- which I like as "winter holiday" colors -- don't really fit with the decor in our bedroom. So I'm not sure what I will ever do with the quilt. 

It did confirm that making a large quilt isn't something I want to do again. I don't mind making the flimsy -- that's the fun part -- but getting it spread out and stretched enough to pin it properly, and even just wrestling with the size of the quilt isn't something I want to do again. I have the material for one more large quilt in a color scheme that I am happy about. So next year I'll make the top and then send it off to be quilted. It feels like a big expense, but as long as I like the way the quilt top looks it will be worth it. 

I laughed a little at my saying "I have the material for one more large quilt" -- like a lot of people who sew, I have the material for a hotel's worth of quilts. But that's another story. 

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see how everyone did on their September projects on the Finish Party page. Or choose an OMG project of your own and join us in October. I have a Halloween project that I think will be perfect to work on then.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Tiger Stitch-a-Long part 2

Hi everyone! I hope you are safe and well. We're lucky that we're in  are only in the heavy smoke, but safe from the fires. 2020 continues to be so darn 2020...

Here's where I was last time:

And here's where I am now -- the tiger and some of the bushes are stitched!

I really like the subtle colors in the tiger... and his very sweet face:

Perhaps he's vegetarian?


My goal for next time is to finish stitching the leaves on the top, and start the top border.

Our next check in is on October 4. Till then, check out all the great projects that the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long are working on:

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, CindyHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary MargaretRenee, Carmela, SharonDaisy, AnneConnieAJ, JennyLaura, CathieLinda, and Helen.


Thursday, September 3, 2020

September OMG : Plus Quilt, continued (again!)

It surprises no one more than me that I actually got the plus quilt pinned and stitched in August!


Yep, still don't have any place that really works to take a picture! But here's a larger pic of the flimsy:


I worry that the quilt is really wrinkled and that I didn't stretch things out enough. But it also may be that I haven't cut most of the threads. At least that's my hope. 

My goal for September, therefore, is to sew on the binding, cut all the random threads, and actually finish the project. Fingers crossed!

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see all the new September projects -- or add your own -- on the Goal Setting page. (You can also see how people did in August on the Finish Party page!)




Sunday, August 30, 2020

August OMG complete : plus quilt continued


My goal for August was to assemble the quilt "sandwich" and get it pinned. Well, it was a struggle -- and to be honest I don't think I did a great job of it! Then, having pinned it, I didn't really have much room to store it easily. 

I decided one weekend that it was simply too hot to be outside, so I set up my sewing machine in the coolest room of the house and did the very simple quilting. Again, I don't think it will win any awards -- but the basic quilting is done. I haven't even trimmed any threads yet, which doesn't help. But the big unwieldy part is complete. 

One thing this has taught me is that for big quilts, sending them off to be quilted may be the way to go. Not on this quilt -- the colors don't really work for us, so I think I am working on it more out of stubbornness than desire! But I have fabric for another large quilt that I think will turn out beautifully, and I think it will be worth investing in having it quilted. We'll see how the top turns out. Eventually.

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see how everyone did on their August projects on the Finish Party page. Or choose an OMG project of your own and join us in September. I think I'll try to sew the binding on and finish up this quilt next month!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Tiger Stitch-a-Long, part 1

Hi everyone! Hope you and yours are safe and well. I am thrilled to report that I have a FINISH on my Golden Lily cross stitch!

I really loved the fact that this DMC kit was designed to be displayed in a hoop -- which was included. It's not a big piece -- the hoop is just under 8 inches across -- but it looks nice in it. Of course, I don't really have a place to display it, but I'll find a little nook for it. I'm really happy with how it turned out!

And speaking of being happy, I've had another MRI and something called an MRV, that looks at blood flow in the veins. The MRI shows that the clot has shrunk, while the MRV shows that blood flow has started up again in the vein that was blocked. Hope this isn't too graphic ... but here's a look at the veins in my brain. The thick vein in the lower left is normal, that skinny little one on the lower right is, at least, flowing again. 

It's not back to normal, and as there's still a clot I'm still on blood thinners and such, but things are moving in the right direction. I'll have another scan in November and hopefully things will look even better.

The next challenge I had was deciding what project to work on next. Would I tackle a large cross stitch kit? Or perhaps another sashiko kit? Or finally dive in to an older needlepoint kit -- the oldest "never started" kit in my collection?

I had advice to put all three names in a hat and pull one out -- which would at least let me know whether I really wanted to work on it. And I had advice to do the oldest project. I thought for a while and realized that I would like to wait until spring to work on the sashiko kit I had chosen for a potential "next", which meant I could easily take it out of the running. And then I realized that I have some other projects I want to work on before Christmas, and the big cross stitch was quite ambitious, I think. So that left this lovely Bengal Tiger kit, which I bought at Liberty in London in 2002.

For some reason, after I bought it, it felt too complicated, too scary. No idea why. So I opened it up, read the instructions again, and sorted the wools.


It's interesting in that it's a printed kit, but has a detailed chart available. (Perhaps that's why it felt complicated???). I have decided that I'll stitch for the most part using the printed picture, but refer to the chart to make sure I can discern the colors if needed -- perhaps on the greenery. 

I put it on my trusty roller frame -- though I needed to visit my local hardware store, because I couldn't get the screws to tighten enough -- and got to work. So far I've stitched the black stripes on the tiger, and have just started to fill in the orange color. 


Again, I think this is the sort of project that, because of the vibrant printing, it's almost difficult to tell what has been stitched! But you can see the black and the lighter orange in this close-up:

My goal for next time is to finish stitching the tiger and start in on the leaves -- lots of stitching, but no counting!

Our next check in is on September 13. Till then, check out all the great projects that the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long are working on:

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, CindyHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary MargaretRenee, Carmela, SharonDaisy, AnneConnieAJ, JennyLaura, CathieLinda, and Helen.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Travel Tuesday : the Thames Path day 21 - the Jubilee River

Walked June 24, 2002

One day while walking the Thames Path I heard about a place -- "Jubilee River" -- a built river that had recently opened. 

I couldn't really imagine it -- a river being built, but built to look natural? What? Where? Why?

Turns out the project started as the Flood Alleviation Scheme for Maidenhead, Windsor, and Eton -- the Thames often flooded in this stretch, so a plan was made to create a new channel to carry excess flood water. but not just any channel -- it would be made to look like a natural river, add a right-of-way network for recreation, and provide habitat for wildlife. 

The scheme began in 1989, the public inquiry in 1992, and then construction began in 1996. Numerous publications were released ... many of which I picked up at the offices of the Environment Agency in Maidenhead. And they are interesting. 

So many complaints about the possible effects of the construction ... construction that, in theory, was being done to protect their homes... but I digress. 

There were plenty of sweet articles about badgers, wildlife, and new hedgerows. Also fascinating pieces about the various construction methods they were using, and updates on the progress. All written in a friendly, upbeat voice that is frankly a joy to read. 


The Taplow Weir was opened on September 11, 2001... but other news probably overshadowed the event. 

I took the train to Maidenhead and headed toward the Thames... and the Jubilee River.


It was a cloudy day -- apologies for the dark photos -- but here's the start of the Jubilee River.



And, even as new as it was, it did look like a real river, and not a drainage culvert. 


There were lovely new paths, perfect for strolling along. Even wildflowers blooming!


I crossed the Berry Hill footbridge (so new! so nice!)


and looked back upstream from the bridge:


I continued downstream toward the A4, where I caught the faintest glimpse of a heron. No, I can't seem to see it in the photo either...


Seriously, this stretch of river is lovely ... and I had it all to myself. 



The route diverted away from the river to avoid some the A4 bridge and the Dorney rail bridge, but soon rejoined. There's the Dorney rail bridge upstream; the project was very proud that they didn't disrupt rail service the while they built the river.


There are even weirs on the river, though boaters complain that they're not boat-friendly. Did I mention that there's a 10K swim in the river every year? Swimmers bypass the weirs by exiting the river and walking downstream to the next entry point. Someday...


As befitting a brand new path (here near the Marsh Lane weir), it was beautiful and level.


And the banks were covered in wildflowers:


I kept reminding myself that this was a built environment, not a natural river. 


Near the M4 I noticed some of the tree plantings. I read that school children collected acorns from the ancient oaks in Windsor Great Park. Other plants were grown in nurseries to give them a head start. 


The river had already attracted swans. I was sad not to spot any otters; holts were constructed along the bank to encourage pairs to settle. 


Near Dorney I managed to resist running down this path through a wheatfield:


Nearly ripe:


It wasn't the most beautiful of days, but it was still lovely to walk along the river. 


I crossed a footbridge near Ashford Lane -- here's the view upstream:


And then ... ahhh. A stop for lunch at The Pineapple


Will the sign be a lie? Or the truth?


Let's just say it's the absolute truth. They specialize in sandwiches. Lots and lots of sandwiches. SERIOUS sandwiches. 


How serious? Very serious. 



I had the Vampire Attack (I wasn't vegetarian then!) -- roast beef with red onion and roast garlic dressing on whole grain brown bread. And it was AMAZING. 


I'm very happy to report that the Pineapple is still in business, has recently been refurbished, and STILL SELLS THE VAMPIRE ATTACK. Mmmmm.

Lunch, a pint, and a break over, it was time to get back on the river. I crossed back over the Lake End Road bridge and looked downstream:


One of the nice things about the river and the path is the large number of footbridges. As this used to be fields, access needed to be maintained. Besides, they don't need to make the bridges tall for any boat traffic. The bridges add some interest to the route, too. Here's the view from the Dorney footbridge, which isn't far from the previous two bridges:


There are multiple weirs in the river. I've read some complaints that they weren't designed with boaters in mind. But the birds seem to like 'em. Cormorants and gulls on the warning floats, near Manor Farm Weir:


Manor Farm Weir -- I'm sure that concrete channel isn't navigable...


I caught a glimpse of Windsor Castle in the distance ... honest:


Soon I came to Wood Lane Bridge ... see what I mean about having a lot of river crossings?


Nowadays the Jubilee River Riverside Centre offers kayak and canoe rentals on a stretch of the river -- which sounds perfect! Also perfect -- there's an annual river swim for charity. The Jubilee River Swim is a 10K, with a few land stretches between the swim stretches to go around weirs. Dreamy! 

Jubilee River Swim pic from the event website

The path moved a little way from the river bank and felt very "rural Thames" for a stretch:


This view downstream shows what was then called the Myrke footbridge:


It was renamed, in 2016, after Michael Scaife, who died trying to save a friend from drowning. 


The river makes a sharp right turn and the path skirts some playing fields before arriving at Black Potts. 
First there's a rather uninteresting road bridge:


And then a Victorian railway viaduct that was one of the trickiest engineering challenges for the Jubilee River project. 


Black Potts Viaduct and weir from just downstream:


The land in the background of that shot is Black Potts Ait, a small island. I wasn't able to go on that side to actually get to the confluence. But I did do a bit of bushwacking to get this terrible shot -- through the hedge and over the fence on the golf course -- of the joining of the Jubilee and the Thames:


I'm still amazed when I think of the care that was put into the designing and building of the Jubilee River. I'm sure it's not perfect and even that things may be a bit run down in the intervening 20 years. But I would love to live near something like it! It presses all the right buttons for me: it's nature while still being the built environment. It has places to run and bike and swim. And did I mention pubs along the way?