Monday, 9 March 2015

Long Update Posting!

Well, hello there!

Long time no see, I hear you say, and you're right!  I am still alive and kicking, just dealing with a lot of stuff these days and not getting a lot of creative work done.

Having said that, here's what my cross stitch piece looks like just now.  There's not a lot of difference, just another line of mid-green underneath the left hand leaf, but at least I've done a tiny bit.  Very fractionally better than nothing, no? =)

So, what *have* I been doing if not stitching etc?  Well, we're planning to move back to Leeds to be nearer to Mum this summer, so I've been devoting pretty much all of my spare time to clearing out and cutting down on stuff.  That means everything from sorting through drawers, boxes and cupboards, through selling and donating stuff to throwing stuff out and using things up too.  I've been blogging much of the process over on my goals and lifestyle blog, Fluffy Little Idiot, where I've got recently created Use-up and Read-up lists, which are helping me to prioritise my time with a view to having less stuff to take with us.  You see, some of the things on my old goals list, including needlework things, yes, were things I wanted to do and complete, but were also things that I was planning to keep.  For instance, there was a Chinese history book in the old list's reading section, but I'm not expecting to give that book away in the short term, so I shelved that one and got on with volumes that I do want to pass on very soon.  I've also emptied out a number of boxes etc and sold some stuff already.

The most recent part of the clear up process was this third drawer of my larger set in my room:


Here it is mid-sort through and not really getting anywhere.  I was hoping to clear this out a lot and also a basket-bag which I keep my hoops, frames etc in and put what remained in this drawer, but there didn't turn out to be enough room as I really only lost two embroidery hoops - poor quality ones, two flexi-frames - in colours I didn't like and certainly wouldn't use, and a few odds and ends of paper pattern pieces and fabric scraps for the charity shop to sell to the rag merchant.

I also found a few sewing projects that need attention.


This is a cute one, isn't it?  I started this when I was about 12 and in the Girl Guides.  I didn't get on very well with it and the leaders gave me the pattern and the pieces to finish the lion off later on.  As you can see, I didn't!  However, I've decided I will soon and then I can make a gift of it to a little child.  I even have a little girl in mind already. =)

In the first drawer photo you can also see a piece of stitching I worked a few years ago and never quite finished completing up into a tiny cushion/pillow.  The story behind this one is that, a few years ago, a lady called Nicole Burgess, who was running the pearl cotton version of Six Strand Sweets, Pearl Sweets, asked me to make up a couple of models for her to put on her website.  Sadly, her enterprise never really took off and so I didn't have much impetus to put the finishing touches to this, which was just to stuff the cushion and sew up the final seam.  I came across it recently and thought that it would make a perfect engagement/wedding souvenir for an old friend who gets married in May, so I finally completed it and handed it over to her house-mate on Saturday.



Does anyone remember these fabrics?  I've been planning on making these into a case for my digital camera ever since my hubby bought it for me nearly six years ago, but got no further than roughly cutting some pieces of fabric in readiness.  I found the whole lot, including thread, a button for the fastening, some lightweight wadding and some Vilene to stiffen it in this drawer too.  So, that's something else to get done and out of the way.

This last one is the parcel I received in an exchange that was run on the long since defunct Country Bumpkin web forums.  I was living in Taiwan at the time and I think my parcel came from an American lady.  This is what she sent me (along with three skeins of co-ordinating DMC cotton, some over-dyed silk and some wooden thread holder gadgets), and I've long been intending to make it into a nice glasses case for myself.  I plan to stitch something on the evenweave fabric, embellished with the beads and make the case up with the dyed fabric as a lining and the button as a fastener.  I have no idea when that will happen, but the 'kit' is still here ready!


The idea was that we were to create a kit pack for our partner and they were to make something from it.  I sent this parcel of Oriental goodies to Dian Nunn in Australia and I wonder if she ever made anything from it??!! =)


I remember really enjoying looking for the beads and buttons in the shops, making up this parcel and photographing it.

This morning I was looking at the local Show stuff again and wondering if I would have anything worth entering.  I've really done nothing since.  Well, nothing I can enter, anyway!  Also, I don't know where we'll be living when the Sheffield Fayre is on and I'm not ready to enter the Leeds Show this year.  I have some ideas to try for the Sheffield one and I daresay I can still enter as a recent city leaver.

I really need to get on and complete the two embroidery projects that I have on hand at the mo.  It's hard to motivate yourself when you're finding one rather hard (as I always do with Helen M Stevens' designs) and the other irritatingly bitty to stitch.  Can't tolerate unfinished projects though, so completed they must be.  Recently I got quite into the Myers-Briggs personality typing stuff and found that it's part of the personality type as to whether one is results or journey oriented.  For instance, numerous stitchers have umpteen projects on the go and don't really care whether they finish them or not.  Some tell me I'm being 'hard on myself' when I, as an INFJ type, require completion of things before starting something new and feel uncomfy with part-done stuff hanging around.  They probably have a 'P' at the end of their personality types.  My 'J', however, and means being keen on lists, schedules, orderliness, results and so on (and I test very strongly 'J', apparently!).  'J' types find the 'P' type disorganised and unproductive and can't understand how they can bear it.  So, if you're a 'P', don't expect a 'J' to chill out and 'stop giving themselves such a hard time', they're happy with their method and it feels deep down good to them.  Conversely, it's no good we 'J's exhorting our 'P' friends to get on and be systematic about it and get things finished, 'cos they just don't have any sort of need to and seriously don't care about it. LOL! =)  Kind of a stitchers' live and let live!!! =)  Anyway, if you have a go at the test, let me know what type you come out as and how you feel it relates to your stitching habits and preferences.

That's all for now and I hope to have something more creative to share soon.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Welcome to the Grow Your Blog Party 2015!


Welcome!

Especially to everyone visiting from Vicki's Grow Your Blog Party!  My name is Elizabeth Braun (pronounced almost the same as 'Brown') and I'm from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom.  I'm 43 at the mo and have been married to my German hubby, Martin, for 16 years in June this year.  We have no kids and no pets, but plenty of cuddly toys. =)  Just now we're living in Sheffield, but will probably be moving this summer, either back to my hometown of Leeds, or somewhere else, depending on where he finds a job when he's finished his PhD.  This picture was taken when we were in Japan back in summer 2010.  I was dressed up in a kimono and had some photos taken.  (See more about that in this post.)

Although I've started a number of blogs on different topics in recent years, this one has been the one I've given the most time to and that has gained by far the biggest readership.  I began it almost 10 years ago, on 25 June 2005, as a means of documenting my completion of some overdue projects.  From there, I kept on recording the progress of my embroidery projects of many types.  Here are some of my favourite pieces from over the last decade.  Enjoy!












As you can see, embroidery is my main art form, (although I do a little knitting and paper-based art too at times) and I've done quite a number of different types over the last 12 years or so.  Things are a little slow here whilst we're dealing with a number of family and health related issues, but should get back to normal in the fullness of time.

Sorry it's a rather short intro this year and I haven't had chance to put together a give-away either! =(  If you'd like to know a bit more about little old me, then you might want to have a look at one of my other blogs, Fluffy Little Idiot, where I'm currently doing a 30 Day Blogging Challenge in which I talk about various things - interests, goals, favourites and other snippets, each day.  You might also like to stick around here for a few minutes and check out some of the past projects on the pages listed underneath the header photos.  There are also pages dedicated to links to the embroidery tutorials and feature articles that have appeared in the past.

If you'd like to subscribe to my blog, you could add me to your Feedly, click the Blogger 'Follow' thingy, (if you're on Blogger, of course), click the Bloglovin' sub box, or submit your e-mail address in the other box you'll find on the sidebar.  If you choose this latter option, remember that your subscription will not go live unless you follow the steps for verification.=)  You can also add the blog Google+ page to your circles, if you use G+.  Link, again, in the sidebar.  Many, many thanks for your visit to my blog and interest in my work.  xx  Please feel free to leave me a comment and introduce yourself, or just plain say, 'Hi' and wave in passing! =)

One blog that you won't find on the GYB list this year as the writer has been too snowed under with work to get directly involved in the event, is Rachel's Virtuosew Adventures.  Rachel is also an embroideress, who works mostly her own designs, (unlike me, as I work mostly others').  So, if you like needle arts, do check out her work too. =)

For those who are regular readers are wondering what's the why of this post, you can find out more on Vicki's blog, 2 Bags Full, (dedicated mostly to knitting and her travels).  On this post you can see the full listing of the participating blogs.

PS If you are a new blogger, you may enjoy this article I wrote last year with tips on how to create an attractive crafts blog and build up a readership.  Enjoy!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Work In Progress Wednesday - 21 Jan 2015

Yes, I know, Sharon's not running this just at the mo, but I still thought that a Wednesday check-in wasn't a bad idea, (and I know I'm not alone).  All the more so as I finally had the desire to do some stitching the other day and so did some work on my Paradise Island cross stitch, on the lower left hand, dark-coloured leaf.

I'm sorry to say that I haven't put in so much as one stitch on the freestyle piece for a long time, and I realise that it's just not going to happen for the end of this month, but there is another hand-over opportunity in May, so I've mentally re-scheduled the finish for then.

At the mo, I just have so much going on, esp. with my poor mum, that I'm not troubling myself in the least about any stitching deadlines etc, although I hope I'll have a little finish to share later in the week for my Grow Your Blog Party post.  I'm also considering a bit of a stitcher's give-away too, so we'll see if I have chance to put something together....

BTW Anyone got any ideas on how to mark my blog's 10th anniversary in June?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Monday, 5 January 2015

First finish of the year - hardanger bookmark


Just a very quick post to showcase my first finish of the year, the hardanger bookmark I mentioned the other day.  It was worked on 2 and 3 January, and presented to the daughter of its final owner yesterday lunchtime  as her poor mum was in bed with 'flu, so I hope this will cheer her up a little.

OK, Sir is almost ready with dinner, so must fly...

=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Stitching Year 2014 - A Review

Here we are for the annual stitching review, where I get to showcase all the embroidery highlights of the year just ended.

Thanks to the Needlequest challenge I ran last year, I worked quite a few different styles and did a few things that I might not otherwise have done.  Having said that, I'd been wanting to do more thread painting for a while, so I was happy to complete two projects from the Trish Burr Beginners' book, and here is the best of the two.  I also did the yellow Welsh poppy design, but made rather a hash of the leaves, so I wasn't too pleased with that one.
For the May part of the Needlequest, I took my first steps in blackwork and did this little flower, a heart with gold thread as well (which I made up into Sir's anniversary card last June) and designed and worked a tiny shaded piece based on a Chinese tea cup.

From the beginning of January to some time in July, I was also cross stitching a Tudor Lady piece, which was quite sumptuous and included rayon threads, metallics, beads and petit point for more detail on the face and hands.  When I was in the early stages of this one, it looked like a piece of holey cheese.  Cross stitched Emmenthal, remember? =)



My favourite piece this last year has to be the wedding ring cushion that I worked in July.  This was the first time I had chance to put my new DMC stranded cottons to use alongside the regular Anchor ones.  I used several of the DMC greens in this piece.  There are also some Mill Hill petite seed beads sparkling away here.  It's based on one of Helen M Steven's designs in the 'Embroidered Flowers' masterclass book, with the addition of a stumpwork butterfly.


Looking at this photo of the completed feather, I just remembered that I totally forgot that I meant to take it to the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show in November to show my old teacher!  I started it as part of the C&G line design work and never got around to finishing it until almost six years later...  It was a real triumph to get that one done though, as it meant that ALL projects were finished at that point.  Nothing was hanging around half done or neglected.  The slate was totally clean.  =)

August was an excellent month for finishes as, not only did I get that feather done, but I also made up a cushion using the appliquéd I'd done for the Japan theme for February's NQ challenge.


Also in August, as part of the fabric colouring NQ challenge, I painted this flower and picked out some highlights etc in stitch.  This was also done in DMC stranded cottons.  I find myself reaching for these when I just need to get a pack of a certain colour out as I store them in colour bags rather than shade number order.  It's also rather nice to use the things I've bought, especially as so much time went into colour comparison and selection.

Next I completed this cute stumpwork/appliqué face and posted it as my one and only tutorial for the year.

August ended with my winning four placings at the Sheffield Fayre - two firsts and two thirds.  I only entered the green sampler for the sake of it and it won!


Mid September saw me conducting a monster great thread reorganisation, which, I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed!

Having created some space by moving things around and buying this handy Really Useful Box 0.3 litre storage system, I found I had room for quite a lot more stuff, so I amassed quite a lot more pearl cotton #12 balls, with two exceptions, the entire Anchor coton à broder #25 collection (about 79 skeins), plus a good few of the DMC ones to plug colour gaps.  This one shown here was the biggest thread haul I'd had in years!


The latter part of the year was rather light on actual stitching and there has been nothing finished since August.  I have two things in progress at the mo (three if you could the bookmark I'm halfway through and will finish tomorrow) and, frankly I'm struggling.  I'm not sure what's causing my current stitching apathy as there's nothing really pushing it out, unless you count that I'm rather more into books at the mo, so I suspect it has something to do with my health - I sometimes lose interest in my hobbies when things go a certain way out.  I have to get on and make myself finish the freestyle piece as it's promised completed for 31 Jan, so you can expect me to get back to that from, if all goes according to plan, Monday.

I have no plans for the year ahead stitchwise, as I really don't know if I'm going to regain my umph in the short-term, medium-term or at all.  Sometimes you just move on from an interest and I'm aware that that may be the reason.  In my late teens up to mid-20s, I was a very keen penpal, with dozens of letters going in and out every week to some of my 100+ global collection of penpals.  That fizzled out after a few years never to restart.  So, we'll see.  I'm hoping that getting some things done may spark my interest again, but I'm not going to force it.  Neither am I going to allow the current projects to just sit there.  I'll be posting to WIPW (although I'm not sure there'll be a post on Pintangle to link on, as Sharon's taking a blog break) with my progress on the Paradise Island and the butterflies piece as often as I can and see what else transpires in time.  There'll be at least three project finishes during this coming year anyway.  I hope my interest returns at least to some degree as Sew in Love will be marking its 10th anniversary in late June this year.

'Til next week, then! =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Wrapping up the Needlequest


Well, here we all are in 2015!  Seems like 2 minutes since all the mad Millenium celebrations 15 years ago (which were a year too early....), and only about 5 minutes since I was in high school in the late 1980s!!  You don't believe that time flies when you're a kid, but you soon learn it to be true, no?

Last post of the challenge for the Needlequest now.  Just two of us had a go this month, just Pamela, Dorte and I.

* I did the tiny sample of a hardanger motif you can see above.  The larger one is on 22ct hardanger fabric and worked in #5 pearl cotton, whilst the smaller one is one 40ct linen and worked in #12 pearl cotton.  It's about 1/4 in actual size so very much like a lot of dolls house scale stuff.  Although the dolls house is (usually) 1/12, the stitchery tends to be the right size overall, but 3 times too big in terms of stitch size.  Had I wanted to get this to be actual 1/12 scale, it would have needed something like 132ct fabric and I dread to think what gauge of thread!!

* Pamela made a lovely bargello scatter cushion/pillow against the time when she hopes she might have another dolls house.

* Dorte posted a lovely stumpwork finish for the November theme using the leaves she'd created during her Autumn theme work and her work thus far on the December challenge.

So, that's it!  Thanks to all who've joined in at some time or even just enjoyed reading the posts and updates.  I've found it quite stressful as I've felt I needed to have something to write about all the time, and it's just not practical to carry on like that just now.  Also, participation was good to start off with, but waned so much during the year that it was a bit deflating.  Maybe I'll do it again later on, but I won't re-run the challenge in 2015.

In case you're wondering what my hardanger motif was for, you'll soon be seeing in the first thing I expect to finish this year, a hardanger bookmark in these colours, the same ones as I used in my main needlecase:


I hope to be back tomorrow with the stitching review of the year post, so, until then, t'rar! :)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 10 Dec 2014

Yay!  A WIPW update post to share!

There's very little change since the last post on this piece back in early November.  I've just done some bits of dark green on the bottom left hand side.  I think I'm going to finish this corner before moving on anywhere else.

Actually, it's a bit awkward working in that area, but I'm managing it OK.

There are two shades of green down there, but it's hard to tell - even on the piece itself.  One's only very slightly darker.  Might consider changing one of them if they occur together much in other parts of the picture.

The 'Work in Progress Wednesdays' weekly project check-in is run by Sharon B over on Pintangle.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Monday, 8 December 2014

Needlequest - November round up and December intro - Miniature Work

Sad to say that November was a bit of a dud month for most of us on the Needlequest.  =(

* I meant to do the orange(s) piece and still will (with a new finish date of 3 Jan 2015 or before), but I didn't get to it last month.  Actually, apart from a bit of knitting, I barely touched a needle of any sort last month!

*  Pamela did a little bit on her stumpwork WISP, a pretty floral, but found she couldn't get into it either!!  However, she did get the piece she got back into commission during her first NQ month in May completed, a coloured blackwork alphabet sampler.

* Dorte did quite a bit of catching up and completed some leaves for the September autumn topic, which she plans to use on her stumpwork sample for the November topic, when she can get to it, and worked a fluffy thistle piece for the October 3D stitches theme.

Moving on now to the last topic of the year, which is miniaturisation.

What does miniaturisation mean?  Well, it can mean whatever it means to you, as is often the case.  The only requirement is that it's something smaller than usual.  For instance, those keen on thread painting may like to work a small piece like some of Trish Burr's miniature designs.  Perhaps try some half size cross stitch or another counted thread technique and finish it up into something tiny as well.  There are so many options!

A classic area of miniatures is, of course, things for dolls and doll's houses.  That's what I'm planning to do as, as many readers know, I'm hoping to get into miniature textiles production and sales in the near future, so I'm planning to use this month's challenge to help me develop some ideas.  Below you can see one of them in the shape of a tiny sample of hardanger worked on 40ct linen over only 2 threads as opposed to the usual 4 and in much finer gauges of thread than normal.  You can compare the size against this full scale 22ct piece.


I'm hoping to produce a few tiny hardanger soft furnishings in the fullness of time and a few other things as well.

Some time ago, Kathy of The Unbroken Thread blog (which I'm sure many of you follow already, and if you don't yet, I encourage you to start now), sent me these tiny samples of high count linens from her own fabric stash so I could get an idea of what they're like.  As she lives on the European continent, her counts are per centimetre, so I've measured them in the the more familiar (in much of the English speaking world) counts per inch and noted them down.  High count linens are fabulously expensive, so I greatly appreciate Kathy's generosity in sending me these samples!  Mwah, Kathy!

I also want to have a go at some 1:1/12 scale doll's house bedding and scatter cushions, as well as some tiny blackwork etc.  I don't expect to get all that in this month, but I have so many ideas that it'll be hard to get them in at all, never mind just this month, especially as I'm experiencing a language learning and writing fit at the mo and others need me for proof-reading a bit too.  The real proof-reading extravaganza will come in the spring when Sir's doctoral thesis will be being finalised for submission....

Finally, for general interest and information: I mentioned about the word 'mojo' last post, which some readers were unsure of, so here's the definition from good old Wiktionary:
mojo (plural mojos)
  1. A magic charm or spell.
  2. Supernatural skill or luck.
  3. (slang) Personal magnetism; charm.
  4. (slang) Sex appealsex drive.
  5. (slang) Illegal drugs.
  6. (slang, usually with "wire") A telecopier; a fax machine.
The idea in talking about "getting one's mojo back" for something, seems to have something to do with the first two definitions, perhaps coming from the idea that one could, by some magic spell or other, induce interest in oneself or others.  So maybe that explains why I'm not so keen on its usage.   =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Friday, 5 December 2014

Is it December already?

Goodness me!  Have I really neglected my blog for a whole month?  Wow!  That must be a record.  Well, here I am in the usual one piece.

My main reason for not posting was lack of anything interesting stitch-wise to report.  There have been other things - illness, being busy with day-to-day stuff, stress etc, but plain lack of productivity (related to the other reasons!!!) is the main cause.

Anyway...

I made it to the Harrogate K&S Show this year after being afraid I couldn't go.  In fact, I had a better, longer day there this time than I had for a while.  I also realised how dehydrating the place is and made a mental note to pack twice as much liquid next year so as to avoid the feeling of being very achey and tired most of the day.

I also got some great new stuff.  The first picture is the threads and the lovely, fine-point scissors.  I bought my first Stef Francis threads (the gold one) and also my first Japanese thread (the multi-metallic one).


The second shot is of the contents of a bargain pack of light evenweaves I picked up for only £8.  There are 8 pieces in there, all good project sizes, some larger, and some even seem to be linen or linen-look fabrics.

I also got a couple of packs of small pieces from a different stall.  I enjoyed looking at Jane Greenoff's little fabric sampler books and thought these smalls would work well to make up one of my own. =)

The next photo, and the last from the Show, is of the four pieces of silk I got from The Silk Route, one of my favourite stands.  I'm still interested in making miniature textiles for doll's houses and I thought the one on the far right especially would be great for 'the gentleman's room' stuff.  The piece on the far left is actually lemon, not cream, and I just bought that for the sheer pleasure of it. =D



As I'd recently made a fair bit of pocket money on e-bay and Amazon, I still had a decent amount left after the show and so put in a big thread order with good old Sewandso.co.uk  I more or less completed the Anchor Coton à Broder #25 collection (just omitted 2 shades I couldn't see myself using) and then plugged some gaps with some DMC ones.  Sadly, their skeins are a completely different shape, so I wasn't able to store them together.  Other than that I grabbed some more Pearl Cotton #12 balls and discovered that I still have room for about another 15.  The beads are Mill Hill Pony Beads in sizes #6 and #8.

So, just a quick stash posting for now as I still have nothing to show you and hope that the stitch-itch might strike again soon.  It always does, never fear. =)  No 'mojo' comments though, please!  I'm quite passionately against magic and related things, so that expression doesn't sit well with me, although I appreciate the thought behind it. =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - 5 Nov 2014


This is what I have for you this week.  Not a lot of progress, but a little.  I just put a few stitches in on two of the leaves.  Hmmm, looks like there are a lot of white bits on the fabric that I didn't notice when I was taking the photo this morning.  Not that it matters too gravely just now.

I really haven't had much stitching or art time as I've been busy with regular tasks (yawn) as well as doing some increasingly time sensitive proof-reading for a Chinese former manager who is applying for a grade promotion at work.  The application deadline is Friday 7th, and there are still two sections to go, including a long academic CV.  So, I think I know what I'll be doing at least part of tomorrow.=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2014

 
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