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Scandinavian Inspired Cross Stitch Birds

Apologies for there not being an update in a while, but this is down mostly to pressure here at home and because I hadn’t completed any projects.  Not any more though!  Yesterday I finally finished my set of three ‘Folksy Fowls’ from the March 2013 issue of Cross Stitcher.  I did start these back in February but lack of linen to stitch on put it on hold.  These are stitched on 28 count cream linen for those interested.

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I should add that they’re not completely finished yet as I need to mount and frame them.  I’m going to get some plain square frames and paint them.  I really can’t wait to hang them on the chimney breast in my living room which has always been bare because I’ve never found anything that I felt would look good on the large empty space.  I’m hoping that these will fit the bill.  Anyway, some close-ups!

Large bird

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Medium bird with a penny to show the size of the stitches they really are quite tiny, measuring about 2mmx2mm I think.

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And finally, the little bird.

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These Scandinavian inspired birds are completed at an interesting time here as my partner and I have decided to try to move to somewhere in Scandinavia ourselves.  It’s for a number of reasons too complex to go into here really, but we’re quite smitten with the idea.  We’ve decided to try and learn Swedish first and get fairly competent before we even start looking for work.  Swedish is also a good place to start as Norwegians understand spoken Swedish and the Danes understand written Swedish and I think that’s really quite amazing.  I have a tiny little bit of a head start as I learnt German at school (though most is now largely forgotten) so I’m not entirely unfamiliar with umlauts and such.  Anyway, it’s all a bit of a pipe dream at the moment but watch this space.  Maybe one day I’ll update this blog from Sverige possibly in svenska!

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A Little Distraction Needed

Just thought I’d do a little post with one of my previous finished objects since I’m in need of some distraction from my worry and guilt.  My youngest cat Lilly, a ‘petite’, as the vet put it, black and white cat with the sweetest nature had to be left at the vet this morning for possible spaying.  We’re not sure if she’s neutered or not since we know nothing of her history and sometimes even if a cat has been neutered, the scar is not visible so they have to go in and look.  I love most animals but cats occupy a special place in the hearts of Mr & Mrs Lauren.  Lilly turned up in the garden last spring and decided that she liked the lay of the land and just never left.  We weren’t looking for another cat as the one we adopted, Poppy (grey, claims my unfinished projects for herself) was very much an ‘only child’.  Hostile to other cats and sometimes us, not overtly affectionate and very much full of cupboard love, we had come to love and accept Poppy as the Grumbliest Cat in all of Grumble Town.  Lilly is the polar opposite of Poppy and when she arrived, although  we knew she probably had owners, try as we might, she just wouldn’t leave.  She camped outside our kitchen door mewling for days, never moving anywhere where she couldn’t see the door.  So we caved in and let her adopt us.  A year later and here we are.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve betrayed her sweet, trusting nature.  I know the operation is utterly routine and she will most likely be absolutely fine, but I still feel so anxious and guilty for putting her through it.  I have to phone in this afternoon and she should hopefully be home by tonight.  Fingers crossed that all is well, and that she will forgive me.

Meanwhile, in more crochet related matters; I made a little bear around Easter as my friend had a baby boy in November last year and she and her little family came up to Norwich to visit us on the Easter weekend.  I wanted to make him something but not clothes as I was sure he had enough of those and I saw the pattern for the bear in a crochet magazine I had bought that month using the very same Rooster Almerino DK yarn, so I didn’t even need to buy yarn, which was good because I was of course skint.  I love that the instructions for stuffing the arms and legs was not to overstuff them to make them a little squishy so they’re highly grabbable (it is so a word!) for little hands.  As the first toy I’d ever made, I was rather pleased with the results.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture myself, my friend sent me this one that she took when I presented him in the restaurant we were meeting in.  Don’t be alarmed – those are my hands emerging from the gloom, looking a little like a face crab from Alien.

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My friend kindly sent along with the photo an update on Mr Bear’s and Baby Boy’s relationship.  Apparently baby finds him very soothing and especially holds on to him when he’s in his pram and falling asleep and the arms and legs are indeed very easy for him to hold on to.  This was lovely to know and I discovered just how much I love the feeling of making for others.  I have another gift in mind, but it will have to wait until payday before I can start on that.  As for the bear, I think the crocheted ears were my absolute favourite part.  I tried to embroider a traditional looking face on him as they’re always the sweetest in my opinion.  I look forward to making one for my own baby one day.

In the meantime, I have my cats to unload my maternal feelings on.  I feel awful when I have to take the cats in just to be vaccinated and today had been very tough with Lilly and her operation and it’s only 10:30am!  I dread to think how much of a worrier I’ll be as a mother.  Lord help my future children!

Saturday Stitching – Dala Horse Cushion

I suspect that like many crafters, I go into, or at least I’d like to go into, a crafting overdrive at Christmas.  Craft magazines are filled with various beautiful, festive related creations that just make me want to lock myself up and create for days on end.  But as many of us know Christmas, or at least the run up to it, can be one of the most stressful and busiest times of the year with far less time for creating than usual.  This is doubly so if you happen, like myself, to work in retail.  I haven’t had Christmas eve off for 8 years: when I do make it home, usually at about 5pm after having been up since 5am and at work since 6 or 7am, all I can manage is to cook an easy but relatively special christmas eve dinner for my partner and his mum who joins us, finish wrapping any presents, prepare whatever I can for the impending feast on the morrow and conclude the day by flopping down into a sofa coma to nurse a strong drink and gaze at the bejewelled tree in the twilight glow of dozens of fairy lights.    I can’t help but glare in envy of office workers who, coming to buy their christmas food on the 23rd/24th have had, compared to me, a relaxed run up of parties, get-togethers, and shopping outings.  Thank goodness I don’t have any friends who expect me to throw parties because they’d be disappointed every year.

By the time I get around to making anything, it’s usually January:  such is the case with the Dala Horse.  The reason for the scenic route into this post is that I only bought the christmas edition of the Cross Stitcher magazine, which contained the pattern for the dala horse, because it came with a free kit to stitch a robin ornament for the christmas tree.  I did stitch this kit in time for christmas but alas I didn’t have time to put it together in order to hang so it’s been stuffed into my sewing box until I remember to buy some fabric glue and finish it.

Embroidery and cross stitching is another craft I did quite a bit as a child but never touched it again until late last year.  Even so, as I child I never stitched anything complicated.  My mum would buy big bits of aida (which she pronounced eye-ee-dah, I’m still unsure of the pronunciation), cut me squares or rectangles of it and I would stitch freestyle borders or my name, or sister’s name or ‘mum’, using lengths of unsplit, ie. 6 strands, embroidery silks.  We’d occasionally go into Canterbury on the weekends where there was a large fabrics shop called C&H Fabrics (which a quick search reveals is still standing, I’m pleased to say).  My mum would peruse fabrics to makes curtains and I’d head straight down to the haberdashery section to pick colourful silks off the towering display wheels adorned with its rainbow colours.

I was so happy to partly recreate this part of my childhood when I came to stitching to the dala horse.  The suggested fabric was 20 count linen which I had to buy online as I couldn’t find anywhere local that stocked it despite living 5 minutes from 2 fabric shops and a knitting shop that sells embroidery silks to boot.  Progress was immensely slow as I have never in my life stitched on linen, which is much finer than aida.  Indeed the pattern suggested aida for a faster finish, but I don’t mind spending the time when I know it’s something that I’m going to keep forever.  Having never stitched on linen, or with split thread, or read a cross stitching pattern for that matter I made a fair few mistakes in my counting which then I dutifully unpicked, determined to make the dala horse perfect.  Three months of stitching solidly in my free time gave me everything that I wanted and I was awash with pride at my creation.  I bought a cushion pad and some red striped cotton fabric and quickly machine stitched an enveloped cushion for the dala horse to reside on.

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Unfortunately, with there only being two of us in our house, and our house being very little, I don’t have a charming, cosy armchair for him to reside on.  There simply isn’t the space or need for a third chair, as much as I would love one, so the cushion tends to reside on one of the dining chairs.  However, as we’ve got a nice sunny day, I took it into the garden to photograph, coincidentally enough next to a miniature christmas tree that I bought in December that is still going strong despite my neglect.

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I have since cross stitched a couple more things, but again, mainly due to monetary constraints they are, like poor christmas robin, awaiting finishing.

Work in Progress (WIP) Wednesday

I’m going to try and make ‘WIP Wed’ a weekly thing, but I have to bear in mind that generally towards the end of the month I run out of funds to fuel my hobby and work ceases until my next pay day.  This week, however, I do have something for show and tell,  that being the blanket that I’m crocheting that I mentioned 2 post below.  It needed, the now discontinued Debiie Bliss Como, so I’m making it with some hairy, super chunky Twilley’s Freedom wool in a lovely forest green colour.

Green Bobble blanket

I’ve decided to try, when selecting new projects, to try and do something that I’ve never done before and although this blanket is essentially all double crochet, I loved learning how to make the bobbles, a process much easier than I had anticipated.  The pattern is from Melody Griffiths’ book Crocheted Throws and Wraps which is full of lots of things I intend to make.  I’m about a third of the way through at the moment; that didn’t stop my older cat deciding it was done enough for her and has taken possession of it.  Her actions got me thinking and whilst perusing one of my favourite online yarn stores, I found that they had an offer on Drops Eskimo which is another super chunky yarn, making it just a little over £1 a skein.  Seeing as I’d already run out of yarn to continue with then green blanket and it will be a while before I can get some more, I promptly ordered some of the Drops yarn to crochet a little version to serve as a cat sized, fireside rug.  The yarn arrived late yesterday morning and apart from some sewing in of ends, I have now finished it, border and everything.  Here’s Poppy the Cat showing her usual outpouring of gratitude and appreciation…

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I doubt that my offer of a blanket exchange will work and  it may be some time before I can have the green one back.  At least in the mean time I have plenty of the Drops yarn to make a cushion cover for a spare cushion I’ve got floating around upstairs.  I really love the colour which is a light greyish blue, and I’m thinking a cushion cover in that colour will look quite ice in our duck egg coloured bedroom. I’m thinking a bobble front with a textured back of some sort, a big swatch of a type of stitch.  I’ll  perhaps use that to work on some new types of stitch.  I’m grateful for any suggestions as to what would make a nice 40 x 40cm swatch with  super chunky wool!  Just name the stitch and I’ll find out the pattern!

I really do have a big crochet itch to scratch at the moment.

A Milestone in Making.

I thought it time I really update this blog on one of my completed works, mainly my first ever big project that I completed after learning how to crochet.  A good ol’ granny square blanket in beautiful spring time colours.  the yarn is Rooster Almerino DK and is wonderfully soft.  It doesn’t normally live on the bed, it is at the moment for display purposes, but it’s usually thrown over the back of the sofa ready to wrap us up when there’s a draft or a sudden case of napping.  The cats are rather fond of it too.

Crochet Blanket

I must say, I’m rather proud of it.  18 months ago, I couldn’t crochet at all and knew nothing of yarn and now I created and own this wonderful blanket.

Crochetpics