A productive cold and a troublesome daffodil

I have a cold. So, I’m sure, have lots of other people, but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable; and it’s most annoying not being able to sing along to carols because it brings on a coughing fit! In short, for the last few days I have been feeling less than usually cheerful. So last Friday, with the accounts more or less up to date and the tax return completed and sent off, I took some time off. What with coughing and bunged up sinuses I wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to get to sleep if I tried, so I decided on a relaxing afternoon of card-making. I riffled through my stack of completed small projects, picked some suitable cards to go with them (remember all those aperture cards?), made myself a mug of tea and set to work.

First some miscellaneous projects, mostly Snippets and Happy Hour with a course project and a few freebies thrown in; for some of them I used single fold cards I had in one of my stash drawers.

Miscellaneous finishes

Then eight Round Dozen Variations. I hadn’t realised I’d done so many recently…

8 Round Dozen variations

On Saturday I had another go and elevated eleven Song of the Weather stitched models to a state of usefulness. There were thirteen (I’d stitched March twice), but two of them were done on Afghan fabric so they weren’t suitable to be made into cards. I haven’t yet decided what they’ll be turned into, if anything.

11 Song of the Weather cards

With about ten left of the original blue-and-white Song of the Weather models which had already been “finished”, that should give us a good stock of birthday / anniversary / wedding / baptism / etc. cards for a couple of years!

Because of the general head-stuffed-with-cotton-wool feeling I hadn’t been doing a lot of stitching, but I worked on Floral Lace: Daffodil for a bit yesterday. All was well to begin with (I can now stitch the shared part of Floral Lace practically blindfolded) but when it got to the small cross stitches I did some serious miscounting. Unpicked, worked it again, then realised the flower on my chart looked a bit odd. Ah. It’s only got five petals. Daffodils have six petals. I know the flower motifs in Floral Lace aren’t exactly botanical illustrations, but here it was definitely noticeable. So today I recharted the flower, which unfortunately means having to unpick part of the green stems and leaves I’d already stitched because the flower now overlaps them. Heigh ho, it’s all in a day’s designing, and hopefully Daffodil will look all the better for it.

A silly mistake, pretty threads and a new idea

Last Sunday I was sitting with an elderly friend so his daughter and wife could both go to church for Mothering Sunday, and I’d taken Happy Hour 1 with me to stitch. Of the four designs in the set, it is definitely my favourite, and it is the one that uses the threads which inspired the set, those lovely Australian Cottage Garden perles. I’d picked an opalescent 28ct Lugana to work the model on, and as we were chatting I settled down to some serious stitching. #12 satin stitch centre in Oregano green, #8 satin stitch, almost Florentine, around it in Dahlia pink. Looking good! Leaf stitch in Oregano, and then on to some triple chain stitch. I’m sure I must have seen something like it somewhere, but I couldn’t find it in any of my stitch dictionaries, so I did my own stitch diagram, and wrote the instructions. It’s basically like a detached chain stitch (also known as a lazy daisy), but instead of only one loop of thread held down with a little securing stitch, I wanted to have three loops.

I had drawn a detailed diagram. I had written a description of every step. And yet it wasn’t until I actually tried to work the stitch that I realised its fatal flaw: I would have to come up in the hole that I’d just gone down in, not once, but twice. And I hadn’t noticed!

I decided to work the plain chain stitch border instead, and re-chart the triple chain stitch when I got home. Having considered two possible solutions to the problem, I eventually settled on a small anchoring stitch, and all three loops going underneath it but all starting in separate holes. The other solution, by the way, was to start all three loops in the same hole, and to anchor each one with its own little securing stitch, which would form a line together. Either way there are three different-sized loops siting inside each other, a very pleasing effect though not what I had in mind originally. You’ll be able to see what you think about the stitch when Happy Hour goes live.

And when will that be? Possibly sooner than I had originally thought – I’m enjoying them so much that they are my main project for the moment. Having finished three of the four there was a slight wait because I didn’t have the Threadworx perles needed for the last one, but they arrived this morning from trusty old Sew & So which means it’ll probably get finished tonight after choir practice! There is more #5 than #8 in this design and so it’s a bit of a shame that the lavendery #5 is not nearly so variegated as the #8, but I was pleased with how well it went with the green; it’s always a bit of a gamble, matching colours based on what you see on a computer screen!

Threadworx perles for Happy Hour

And finally, the new idea. As I was writing the church newsletter and looking at illustrations for the Easter services I came across one I did some time ago, which said “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!” in various languages. One of them was Old English, the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons, and I was thinking it would make rather a nice Easter project to have those Old English words surrounded by a knotwork border or something of the sort. There is no way I’m going to get anything like that charted by the end of this month, however, so watch this space when we’re getting into Lent 2014 smiley.

Needlebook thoughts and Happy Hour revisited

A while ago I finished the last two models for the first Guildhouse course. Well, they are two halves of one model, really – two small, simple squares to practice cutting, dove’s eyes and square filets. But as the course is for “refreshers” as well as for beginners, I did want to add a little twist so it wouldn’t be boring for those who had done all this before. So I decided to add a bit of bling. The students can decide whether to have the metallic thread only in the borders, or for some of the filling stitches as well.

Basic Hardanger (with gold) for the Guildhouse course

The reason I stitched the two together is because I thought they might make rather a pretty needlebook; but as we won’t be turning it into one in class, I need a simple method which I can explain in a few lines so anyone who wants to can turn their project into a needlebook at home. Nothing too complicated with whipstitched edges, then, and preferably a method that needs hand sewing only. I’m leaning towards a double running stitch edge, backed with Vilene inside the backstitch line with some coloured felt sandwiched between, and then just cut and fray and sew in some felt pages with double running stitch down the spine. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Some of you may remember that I wrote a number of posts about how designs got their names; one of them was about Kaleidoscope, which started out life as Happy Hour because the four designs were meant to provide a happy hour’s stitching (if you’re a very quick stitcher …) and then be made into coasters. However, they got renamed and so I was left with a name without a design to go with it. This is not as unusual or as odd as it sounds; in my Notes folder there is a list of names which I hope will one day lead to a design. Last week, the time was finally ripe for Happy Hour.

Why? Because last week Tracy sent me those beautiful Cottage Garden threads. I wanted to do something with them, now – well, very soon, anyway. But what? I could use them for one of the Stitch-Along months, as I’m stitching them all again for the SAL blog using speciality threads, but that didn’t seem quite right. They should have a new design of their own! Something small and simple that would show off the threads. Something like Kaleidoscope … four small designs … lots of satin stitch but also some other stitches for variety … two colours each … why not use a different brand of hand-dyed perle for each one? … but Cottage Garden only comes in #8 and #12, so do two of them on 28ct? … and not much cutting, with the option of not cutting at all … Happy Hour was taking shape! You’ll have to wait and see what threads and colours I eventually decided on, but here is a small peek at what the foursome will look like:

Happy Hour