Sunday, 31 January 2016

An ENORMOUS surprise!

Look what I found out about today!  I had no idea until a text came from Glenis telling me that I was mentioned as the Blogger of the Month in the current issue of 'World of Cross Stitching'.

I'd seen a spike in blog traffic over the last week, but couldn't fathom where it had come from.  Now I know.

WOCS is a great magazine that I've had a few dozen issues of over the years.  In fact, my current cross stitch WIP, the Paradise Island, comes from issue 60 from back in July 2002.  It's the third large design I've worked from this issue and the poor magazine itself is getting very much worse for wear.  The cover's fallen off and the pages are getting very 'yonderly', as Mum would say. =)

For those of you who've been kind enough to visit me here after seeing this feature: Hi!  Thank you for taking the time to type in the URL and pay me a call.  To be honest, the description of me and my work is a little on the flattering side as, not only did I quit formal teaching (I used to conduct some classes in beginners' Mandarin Chinese (yes, really!!) at the University of Leeds for over 7 years), over 6 years ago, but the 'awards' are nothing more than winning placements in the local horticultural show where the competition is anything but fierce.  It does sound good though, "she's won awards for her work", doesn't it?!!  Must try and win some more now (Leeds Flower Show??) to try and earn my reputation....LOL!

So, many thanks to the WOCS team for selecting and featuring me and/or anyone who may have nominated this blog (I don't know how it works, but I suppose it may be a combination of editor/journalist's blog rolls and reader suggestions), and I hope I don't disappoint in the future.  As per my last post, things are a little quiet at the as we prepare for our home move on 10 Feb, but I hope to get back into both blogging and having something interesting to blog about within the next month or so.  In the meantime, here are the pieces I've worked from WOCS issue 60, both the two completed ones and the current WIP.

If I remember correctly, this piece which I adapted with a little lettering to be a wedding souvenir, also came from WOCS:

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Friday, 29 January 2016

I haven't been posting recently because....

.....we're in the middle of getting ready to move to our new home.  These are some of the things we cleared out today!  Funnily enough, I saw a lady in the charity (goodwill) shop we gave most of this stuff to buying a whole pile of 'Stitch' magazines.  I almost envied her.  Well, maybe I did, just a little!!!

Things should be back up and running here in the next month or so.  Stay tuned!  In the meantime, here's a snap of Dr Sir and I from his recent PhD graduation day. =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Friday, 1 January 2016

Stitching plans for the year ahead - 2016

I've shied off making goals lists on this blog for a few years now, but I thought I'd brave it out and have another go at it for the year ahead.  What have I got planned?  Well, the biggest project of the year is definitely moving home, which we hope will be in mid-February.  We're flat/apartment-hunting at the moment, and hoping something suitable will come up soon.

Onto stitching things now.  First, of course, is to finish up the projects I current have in progress.  Here they all are as they stand today:

* The Paradise Island cross stitch, which is the largest cross stitch piece I've ever done.  I actually measured it against the other two larger designs I did a few years ago, and it comes out as the winner.

Sir just said that he wonders if I will finish this piece this year... =)

* I also want to get this little needle painting of a violet from Trish Burr's "Fresh Ideas for Beginners' book completed ASAP and mounted in a card for a friend's new home momento.

* Lastly in the current WIP section are these small hardanger designs which I need to finish and get mounted in some tiny cards.  I'm considering selling these on Etsy (with *a few more like them - another project).  Do you think they'll sell?  I'll need to make sure I'm not going to come up against copyright problems before listing them for sale somewhere.  I'll have made enough changes to the original in both materials and actual pattern to avoid it, I should think.  Besides, there's really only so much you can do with designs this small, no?

After those are done, I hope to crack on with the following, although I must say at the outset that this is partly a 'list to choose projects from' and very much subject to change as, normally, as soon as I post something that I plan to do, I want to to do something else as well/instead/etc!!  Some of these regular readers may recognise from previous posts.

* Some more needle paintings from the Trish Burr 'Beginners' book, esp. this lovely dog rose piece.

* This freestyle piece from Sue Newhouse's book that I showed you a few weeks ago.  This has quite a bit in common with the recent Rowandean finish, so I think that I should be able to pull it off OK.

To be honest, I've been feeling quite stressed out recently, so have backed off from any really fancy or challenging pieces, (which is probably why I'm dragging my heels and struggling to get on with my current Trish Burr piece), and all I really want to do is some nice, easy counted work.  Here are some ideas that I have kits and/or materials for and would like to crack on with this year:

* I longed for this luscious 'Embroideress' blackwork kit for a while before Sir presented me with it as part of an anniversary present a good few years ago.  It's time I got on with it!  I plan to work it using stuff from my stash and then sell the kit on complete or semi-complete, depending on whether or not I use the 18ct Aida provided, or some of my own evenweave- if I have any 36ct, which I don't think I do.

* Most of the above can be repeated for this 'Farewell' blackwork pic.  I have another super-duper blackwork design too, but I need more experience and confidence with blackwork before tackling that, methinks.

* It's been a while since I did a decent sized hardanger piece and, as I have fabric and threads enough for two or three white on white pieces, how about one of these Mary Hickmott design runners to start with?  I love her hardanger stuff as long-term readers will no doubt have noticed. =)

* If you remember the 'Tudor Lady' cross stitch, you might be interested in a companion piece I'd like to stitch by the same designer, Sue Page - the 'Medieval Lady', which I forgot to take a photo of and can't find one on Google!!

I also have these few more kits in stock that I may pick up and work.

And there'll no doubt be some cards and perhaps some small gifts along the way too.

On top of the above, and maybe selecting something from them, there are also any Show entries to consider and plan for.  As I mentioned yesterday, I may not be able to join in the Sheffield Show this year, but there'll be the big Leeds Flower Show - a far bigger pond to swim in than the Sheffield one and correspondingly far harder to win anything in - and maybe also the Otley Show, which is in May and local enough to consider entering.  May see what the Ilkley Flower Show does in the way of craft categories too.  (Please let me know if you have any ideas regarding shows etc.)

So, which projects of all the above do you like best and you would most like to see me work and blog about?  Reader interest is always a great motivation and I'm sure I'm far from being the only creative blogger who gets a lot of impetus to do projects from the reactions and encouragement of their blog readership.

Wishing a very successful and productive year to us all!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Review of the stitching year 2015

Time for another stitching year in review.  Looking back through my blog I see that I've finished up 8 pieces and worked on a handful more that are still in progress (more on those tomorrow anon).  Here are 7 of the 8 (I wasn't very pleased with the other piece), in order of completion.

The first is a hardanger bookmark worked in matching Caron Watercolors and Wildflowers threads from a section of a larger chart, followed by my own charted hardanger design that I actually worked years ago and part finished up into the cushion you see here.  I got it completed earlier this year as a little wedding gift for an old friend.  (Wonder if she used it as a ring cushion?)  It was originally done with a view to being on the Pearl Sweets website as a model of how their threads could be used, but, sadly, that business didn't seem to get far off the ground. =(

Next up we have a cute little meerkat which I cross stitched for my hubby's anniversary pressie (as I'd already bought him what he wanted when it was needed) and the card was the piece I wasn't pleased with.

Next we move on to the 2015 Sheffield Fayre Horticultural Show entries.

First is the third project from Helen M Stevens' "Embroidered Butterflies" worked mostly in Anchor stranded cottons, but with some of the greens in DMC stranded and the metallic touches in two shades of Kreinik cord in two gauges.  I love this piece, but it was hard and intense to work, especially the butterflies.

This embroidery won best in category for 'One Item of Embroidery' in the Show, but that was no achievement given that it was this year's only entry and the arts and crafts section judges seem to give first prize to any sole entry!!!  I did win first prize fair and square last year with my cute bunny (which you can see in the blog header photo selection) and was hoping to make it a cool three wins in succession next August, but we're unavoidably away for the time the entries would need to be staged so, unless I can get someone to do it for me, I'm out of the Show next time. Sigh!

This bellpull made with GAST and WDW threads from a Lizzie*Kate pattern won second prize in the 'One Item of Cross Stitch - Commercial design' category.  Second of four isn't too bad.  Embroidery entries were down on the whole this year, but knitting, which was low last year, went up.  I really hope I can get to enter this coming year.....

Last up for the year we've got two cards.

The first was for my hubby on passing his PhD.  His graduation isn't actually until next month, but I wanted to mark the occasion at once.

Last up is a small sample from the Rowandean Make and Take table at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show in late November.  I finished it up at home with some of my own Anchor and DMC Coton à Broder threads and metallic trims from Kreinik Cable.

So, there you have the finishes for the year.

As regular readers will know, I also worked on three other projects which aren't yet finished, but, as I'm hoping to do something with at least one of them later today, I'll save current WIP status for tomorrow's 'stitching plans for the year ahead' post.

How did 2015 go for your needles??

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Time for a Paradise Island update

First of all, thanks so very much to all of you who left such nice comments on the last posting of the completion of my Rowandean sample card. =)  It was a fun piece to work and, yes, I feel a bit more confident about trying more of that sort of thing in the near future.  I certainly have enough sheer fabrics and special (i.e. not just plain dyed stranded cotton) threads to use!!

Over the last few nights, Sir and I have been watching 'The House of Eliott' on the BBC Worldwide YouTube channel.  He's loving the business development and general drama side of things and I always find this show inspiring and creative, but as I've watched it a time or six, I don't need to pay much attention to the screen, so have been getting on with the Paradise Island greenery.  The first photo shows progress made over the first four episodes and the second, the next two and a bit.

Still a fair amount of tree parts to do and, as it's such bitty work - a few stitches here and there, then change colours - it's taking a long time to get done.  Still, I'm aiming to have this part completed by the end of the year.  Will I?  Well, let's see...

Today I'm home with the start of a cold (probably), but as all the shopping is done, the ironing is up to date and I have good stocks of all the things I need to deal with a cold (Vitamin C, Echinacea, Kleenex Anti-viral tissues, which are incredibly soft, pills and potions if needed and dry skin treatment things for when my poor face dries up!!), it's a good day to slob out, catch up with my blog, mess about with my Pinterest boards and so forth.  I just can't fake feeling sorry for myself!!! =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Rowandean piece complete!

This is how far I got on the lovely little Rowandean piece at the Knitting and Stitching Show.

The first thing I did once it was remounted in a hoop to work was to remove the yellow flowers on the far right as I felt it was going to end up looking far too 'stripey' if the colours just alternated.

The second photo is how far I got after the second working session having finished the main flowers and added in a few leafy/grassy sorts of motifs at the bottom.

Here's the final look of the piece with all embroidery completed.  I put in a couple of daisies as well as a few more green bits and white french knot flowers/berries.  Please don't ask me what they or any other stitches are supposed to represent as my knowledge of flowers and plant wildlife is nothing short of pitiful!

I could have brought all the threads I wanted to use to finish the piece with home from the Show, but I decided not to (except a piece of the light blue and lilac variegated one), and to use some of my own stuff instead.  So, I used 4 Coton à Broder #16s and 1 #25, plus some Kreinik gold cable to add in some more sparkle and highlights.  Delighted to have used 3 threads for the first time.=)

When it was all done and I'd even trimmed some of the organza edges, I mounted it in a card as you can see here, followed by a couple of angled close-up shots.  I was quite pleased with the final effect and I hope you like it too.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Harrogate Show and the current 'Paradise Island' status

So, the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show is over for another year and I am very proud to say that I came home with only the above - a part worked 'make and take' from the Rowandean stand and two packs of goldwork thread I needed for one of the Craftsy class projects I've bought recently, (on which more another time).  I ran out of time and needed to get off and catch the first of three buses home, so I wasn't able to complete my sample then and there, but that's the next thing I want to do.  As you can see, I didn't realise a stray bit of fabric thread got caught on the photo too...

I'd been at the Show long enough to visit the Ladies, tidy myself up, down a quick carton of orange juice (I realised that I suffered dehydration at the Show each year and that was spoiling it for me, so I took extra drinks this time) and make my way to the first stand I was interested in, the Golden Hinde one, when a text message came from Glenis, a Nottingham friend, to see if I was there.  Turns out that she was and that we were able to have a natter over lunch and a bit of a walk around together, so that was a lovely surprise.  Later on, whilst I was at work on the above sample, I looked up and realised that Rachel was standing next to me!  So, I had the unexpected pleasure of catching up with two stitchy chums as well as getting some stitching inspiration.  I missed Kathy, who was flying over for the weekend, but I hope she got the message I left for her at the Nicola Jarvis stand. =)  It was nice to see two of her pieces for real, (the other was in the RSN display.)

I need to give myself a bit more time there next time around, or maybe even do as Rachel has done and buy tickets for both Thursday teatime and the full day Friday. It'll be much easier if I'm just coming up from north Leeds (assuming we ever get moved back!) as I'll be able to leave home after 9 and get there for opening at 10, whereas I had to leave home in Sheffield before 8 and didn't get there until 11:30.

Something that made me smile happened when I was chatting with the lady on the Mulberry Silks stall about how I was enjoying using very bright greens in my current cross stitch, but that I really didn't need any more thread as I already owned over 1600.  The lady next to me promptly turned around and said in admiration, 'Oh, well done!'  Here's me wanting to use up and cut down too.=)

On the subject of the bright greens, here's how far I've got on the Paradise Island.  I think I've only had two sessions on it since I last posted an update, but the greenery is slowly filling in.  I'll be done with it one fine day.  Here are both the area I've been stitching on lately and the whole piece so far.

I hope to have the full Rowandean piece to show you soon and, as I  recently bought a pair of compasses (i.e. for drawing circles, usually just called 'a compass', but I had a maths teacher who was very particular about correct naming!) which I needed to get the beading charted up on those mini hardanger pieces I was talking about recently, I should be able to complete some of those too.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Soooooo frustrating!

Ugh!  So many things going pear shaped these days.  Ready for a good bit of moaning (interspersed with some stitching progress) etc?  OK, here goes:

First of all, October was a wash-out for most things.  I was ill 28 of the 31 days in the month, which was a total waste of time.  Better now, thankfully.

I made a start on the simple Trish Burr piece that you see here, the violets in section one of her 'Fresh Ideas for Beginners' book.  I thought, 'I'm not too keen on spilt stitch stems, let's do it on stem stitch instead.'  So, I did and it ended up being really much too thick.  I then went on to make a real mess of the bud.  This is as far as I got that day and it's all coming out.....  Time to start again.

These photos show the counted work fabric inventory I completed recently.  As you can see, I wrote all the types, sizes and so on on these pieces of paper, then transferred the details to the correct bag.  No more wondering what's in each bag as I can see at a glance.  That went well, but the frustrating part for this (and other things) was that the photos I'd taken throughout some of the process all ended up corrupting.  A whole batch I'd moved into a new folder went wrong and so I lost the lot.  Thankfully, there was nothing really important in there, but it was a shame nonetheless and rather a nuisance having to re-take some of them to post today.

Something I noticed whilst doing this inventory was that I had a lot of scraps of Hardanger and Oslo fabrics, so I fished them all out and decided to make up some small pieces to mount in my small (and tiny) cards or even bookmarks.  I'll probably try and sell them as, with hardanger being so quick to work, I can possibly even charge a price that's fair to myself and the potential customer.  If they don't sell, I'll have a set of nice cards to use up for friends. =)  The designs I'm using have come from some old 'New Stitches' magazines and I'm adapting them with colour changes, introducing metallics and changing the shape of the outer beading trim to fit the circular mounts better.  Another good thing about this project, as well as using fabric and card blanks up, is that I'm getting some threads and beads that I either have never used or not touched for a long time into service.  I estimate that I've used a quarter or less of all the threads that I own and that's not very sensible.....

In the batch of photos that I lost was a midway shot between the last update photo and this one.  Of course, I couldn't go back and retake it, so here's the whole piece at the moment.

I haven't done a lot of needlework of late, esp. as I've just started another book reading and studying up drive, but I'm getting some things slowly done.

Other results of my counted thread fabric inventory were that I realised I no longer use Aida at all and listed all my scraps on e-bay to sell.  Also, I decided to get on with projects I'd long been planning to do and even collected the materials, but never yet got on with.  One is the lovely blackwork runner here some of you might remember that I included about about 18 months ago during the Needlequest blackwork month (photo and pattern is from 'New Stitches' #75).  I've got all I need for that, although I may swap the Kreinik Very Fine Braid for DMC stranded metallic as I have enough of the latter for the whole design, but would need to buy three more spools of the prescribed Kreinik.  I'm not sure yet as the single thread VFB will probably look nicer than two strands of DMC Light Effects.  I'll try a sample and see.  The idea is to use things up though, so I want to try and use what I have wherever possible and I'm unlikely to need almost two full skeins of the DMC long-term, esp. when I have so many gold metallics that I can't imagine ever running out.

I also have enough white 22ct Oslo fabric for a couple more cushion covers and/or a small table runner.  There are several skeins of #5 pearl cotton in white and another ball of matching #8, so it looks like the traditional white on white look will have it with at least one piece.

I'm not really expecting to start those hardanger and blackwork projects until the new year, (by which time I hope to have the above etc finished) but it will be nice to work on something with a view to using it in our new home - whenever we finally get to move!  The final frustrations are that Sir still hasn't been able to get a longer term job in the right area and homes of the right spec are not plentiful at this time of year.  We looked at one last week, but it would have taken more than a few pieces of pretty needlework to make that look less shabby.  You know how some places are old fashioned in a classic and charming way?  Well, this one was old fashioned in the badly needs modernising and redecorating way.  Looks like we'll have to wait a couple more months, by which time we hope to know how much we can spend on housing.  As little as possible, I hope as who wants to waste all their cash on rent when there are so many more interesting things to spend it on?? =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Friday, 23 October 2015

So, what's up next to stitch?

I was both surprised and thrilled to be on the list of needlework blogs worth exploring posted on Mary Corbet's blog today.  A great big, warm welcome to anyone who has followed the link from that list to visit today.  I hope you enjoy what you see here and there are a number of ways you can follow, if you'd like to, including the Bloglovin' widget and the subscribe by e-mail one if you scroll down a little on the sidebar.  If you *do* join the e-mail sub list, please make sure that you complete the validation of your e-mail address process or else you won't get the updates.=(  I also have an Instagram stream at @sew_in_love_blog and a G+ page, which I normally update with most blog posts and that you can follow using the widget in the sidebar.  In the meantime, this post looks at a few things I'm planning to work on over the next couple of month.

I'm nowhere near finishing the Paradise Island cross stitch yet, but I'd like to get some freestyle work going again and have been thinking about which projects to do.  As you probably know if you've been following my work for some time, I don't like to have too many projects on the go at once, but just one WIP feels a bit constrained, esp. as it's quite large and unwieldy at times.

I've been wanting to get back to needle painting for a while (although the recent butterflies finish might qualify to some degree), so getting the Trish Burr 'Beginners' book out again was the obvious choice.

I love purples, so I thought of having a stab at this violets study, especially as it's still in the first of the three graded sections of the book.

To be honest, I like this rose design from the second section better, but this is where my thinking about the oval hoops that I mentioned on Sunday came from.  Of course, this piece would fit fine into a regular, circular hoop, but I'm thinking that an oval one would enable one to be more economical with fabric.  Don't you think so?  I want to look at the hoops before buying one though, rather than mail ordering.  The reason for this is that the normal hoops we get here in the UK are lovely.  The edges are well smoothed off and the whole thing has some kind of varnish on to make it pleasant and safe to use without needing to bind them (unless you want to).  Some of the hoops I've seen from elsewhere aren't anything like as well finished with rough, square edges that can even splinter damaging fabric and fingers.  The oval hoops I saw on-line looked unfinished, so I want to see one to check first.  I'll see what there is at the Show next month so, in the meantime, I'll be able to tackle the violets.

Something else I'd really like to do is learn the techniques in this lovely book.

As you can see, it's a much looser style than detailed needle painting, but I think it would enable me to really get some use out of the 'alternative' threads I have, such as 2 gauges of Coton à Broder and 3 of Pearl Cotton.  There may also be room to use some of the stranded silks and rayons to see how useful they really are to me (as both of those sets are in my 'wait and see if you use them, else sell them' category).

This book also features things like creating flowers on soluble fabric and I've had some of that for a while and never known what to use if for.  Now's my chance.  Hopefully I'll be able to create something that will stand a chance in next year's summer show(s).

This is the only actual guided project in the book and this is where I plan to start.  She doesn't encourage working it exactly as seen here, but to personalise it as much as possible.

I need all the help I can get in developing my own style.  I'm always so afraid of goofing it up and producing rubbish that I rarely break too far out of other peoples' designs. I'd like to though, so this looks like a good first step to take.

I also want to have a go at the Rowandean £3 stitch-a-sample activity at their booth at the Harrogate Show next month.

So, those should keep me occupied stitchwise for the rest of the year.

Sorry about the quality of these photos, by the way.  Many of you will know how hard it can be to take decent photos of embroidery.  Taking good photos of photos of embroidery is far worse!!!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

More trees on the Island

Time for a progress report on my only WIP at the moment - the Paradise Island cross stitch.

Here's where I'd got to for the last update almost a fortnight ago.

I haven't been able to do as much as I'd hoped since then as I've had two viral illnesses back to back - something that I hoped had stopped!  It was very disappointing to find that could still happen, but it is coming into the colds, 'flu and bugs time of year and I haven't been able to rest as much as I've needed to thanks to Sir's change in schedule, so I suppose that's where the problem came from.  Anyway, I've altered my own schedule to make the best of things now and hope that will help.  It had been several months since my last nondescript viral episode.  Let's hope it's even more months until the next one now and I can get on with my various projects.

I doubt it will surprise anyone greatly to know that I've been working on more trees:

And then yet more:

With plenty more to come!

It's a bit tricky getting decent photos at the moment as, although I've got my camera set for multiple points of focus, there are only so many it can do and so the right hand side has tended to get de-prioritised and left a little more blurred.  Photoshop Elements can only undo some of the mischief...

The last photo for today is one at the same stage as the one above, but of the whole piece including the 'blank canvas' sections.  It gives more of an idea how much is still left to be put in.

I'll get there in the end....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015