Thursday, 2 July 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - Year seven, 2011/12

Whoops! Nearly went to bed and forgot to publish today's post!

It's year seven now and my first real tutorial appeared on blog this year in August 2011 - how to create simple ribbonwork flowers.

Actually, I'm absolutely no expert on ribbon work, I just know a few simple techniques and this was just me photographing every stage of working a kit!

This October I finally finished stitching up the goldwork viola I'd started on back in Taiwan about 18 months before.  It's still waiting for a mount and/or frame, but has been on display in my blog header for a few years, so I can't say it hasn't been seen.=)

November 2011 started with me conducting a sort of reader survey to see what people liked and wanted more of.  I also finished up the cross stitch narrowboat which was also started in Taiwan and I'd been working on ever since in fits and starts.

It wasn't until this month that i got around to putting needles in that hardanger case I'd stitched in Taiwan and then I began a dog rose needlepainting that ran from November to January. Part-way through project this my blog got splogged!  That meant that someone had copied pretty much the whole blog onto another site.  Strange thing was that splogs are normally trying to get hold of advertising revenue etc, but as I'd never had any, I really couldn't see the point to it.  Anyway, I soon got it shut down and, so far as I know, it hasn't happened since (except a certain site recently pinching all the photos to three tutorials, but more on that soon...)

From January onwards, I joined in with TAST 2012 on a fairly irregular basis.  I suppose I'm no different from most people in getting off to a great start, then falling quickly behind.  Some I managed to keep up to OK and even did a little picture made almost entirely out of versions of fly stitch for the first one, but resorted to a bit of cheating later on, esp. for satin stitch, stem stitch, couching and French knots as I just re-posted sections of a few old projects!

As the above screenshor from my Google Analytics account shows, January also saw an enormous leap in blog visit stats, and also subscribers. This was mostly down to the Wired Needlelace Elements for Stumpwork tutorial, which was featured on Pintangle, Craft Gossip and Jules' former blog. I quickly folowed that one up with one on assembling stumpwork flowers and there'd been another one on making a simple raised beetle a while before.

In February I created an 'About' page on this blog and this month also saw me starting on a stumpwork rabbit (which would get shelved for a while) and posting the first of a couple of tutorials for stumpwork berries using different methods.  The second one happened along in March.

In early April I broke ground on the sampler design I'd been planning to do for my mum for the previous two or three years.  I kept up with it for a few months, then let it lie fallow for a few. I also had a thread storage reorganising session that month and finally got around to sewing up the dog rose needlepainting into a manicure case for my old friend, Rosie.

June was quite a full month.  I stitched a little globe for my hubby's anniversary card (the one that's been in the blog header more or less ever since), and made him a tie out of some of the oriental fabric stash I'd bought in Taiwan, getting both done in the nick of time.

I reorganised my little room in early June, having got some shelves put up on the blank wall section and bought two different sizes of plastic four-drawer units.  I posted lots of before and after photos, including the contents of all eight drawers.  I do so love looking at others' collections of thread, fabrics and trimmings on their blogs, so I always hope my blog readers like it here too.=)

About the same time, I began to make wedding gifts for my old friend Caleb (the one you saw me dancing with in the first year's review post).  I completed the card and started on another hardanger scatter cushion cover.  Catch the finish of that one tomorrow in year 8)

The last feature in this blogging year, was a stumpwork ladybird tutorial, originally requested for the 'Crazy Quilt Gatherings' magazine and then published on my blog after a decent interval of time.  Here are the models, with plenty of variations.  (All tutorials and articles that I haven't put links in for can be found on the Tutorials and Features blog pages respectively.)

Almost there now, only three more years to go.  Year eight will be along early next week - I need a break!  I hope you're all continuing to enjoy the series. =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - the sixth year 2010/11

Here we are at year 6 already and we began by visiting Japan in the July, me being dressed up in a kimono and having a look around Tokyo, Kyoto and Tsukuba.

I also finished up a couple of projects for friends in Taiwan, (of which this was one and the field mice and blackberries cross stitch shown in the Year 5 post was the other), and completed my hardanger needlecase.

We flew home via Korea

and my mother-in-law's in south west Germany.  The first picture is her house!

We then moved here to Sheffield as soon as things could be arranged and I rejoiced greatly in having my own little workroom/study for the first time!

The review of the stitching year 2010 saw me lamenting an all time low in projects completed - a mere three, the two hardangers and one cross stitch mentioned above, but I had started a few other projects and they progressed during the year to come.

In January and February, as well as posting WIP progress, I also ran a four-part Threadfest series having a look through my stash and wrote the first article that was later picked up and featured by Craft Gossip, Stumpwork and Ribbon Embroidery - Where Does One Start?  This still remains my most popular post so far and was the starting point for a marked expansion in blog readership from year 7 onwards.

Although I was working on a couple of projects, finishes were on the slow side coming, so I ran a three-part series of stitching projects created for men during the spring, showcasing hardanger cards, cross stitched cards, gifts and even a picture, and all the things I'd stitched for my hubby up to that point.

My second feature article, From UFO to Happy Dance - How? offering help on getting stalled projects re-started and finished was written in April 2011 (which may be where some readers remember the dog portrait from as I used it as an example complete with photos at various stages) and I worked on a goldwork viola, a cross stitched narrowboat (both finished during blogging year 7 - look out for those in later posts) and completed the stitching of this Helen M Stevens' design that I worked from a photograph in one of her books.  I had awful trouble with the fish, until I found some really helpful drawings in another of her books. Later on this piece was finished up into a scatter cushion cover as a belated wedding gift.

During the year's invigilating duties, I'd had some very low key assignments meaning that I finished up a number of the boring backgrounds on some childhood UFOs (un-finished objects) and worked on the creation of a number of embroidered smalls for cards and small gifts of which I'll leave you with a selection (although I did the first one entirely at home).

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - Year #5, 2009/10

Welcome to Year 5.=)

The first two months of this blog year were devoted to getting things finished off and cleared out prior to packing most of our stuff into a storage room and heading off to Taiwan for a year.  Here's the band sampler that I'd been working on ad hoc for most of the previoius year finally finished up and displayed against the back of a co-ordinating jacket!!

We flew out late August and started a year of Chinese language classes.  Not a new language for us, as many readers may know, but it was good to learn so much more at a higher level and also to 'get back into' using it so often.  I'd got a bit lazy and lapsed increasingly into English with Chinese friends, so it was helpful to get me re-motivated.

A month or so before departure, I created a travel blog, originally called 'Made in Taiwan', but re-named 'Brauns on Tour' when the Taiwan part was no longer relevant.  This is still going, although we travel so little these days =( that it doesn't get much attention anymore.  The first post was our trip to London to get the visas sorted and I lost most of those photos as my camera disk corrupted, waaah!

Here are a few shots of Taiwan:

Here's a hardanger piece that I started before we left the UK and worked on in the temporary accommodation we had, finally finishing it in our 'own' apartment.  It was a belated tenth anniversary gift for an old friend in Taiwan.  This was a very frustrating piece to photograph as the thread is pale lilac, pale pink and white variegated.  The colours just would not show up!
I'd taken a couple of the DMC stumpwork kits with me and worked the bee one.  This turned out to a very popular post getting featured on some Turkish site or other and attracted a LOT of traffic.

I also stitched this hardanger needlecase, but I don't think I finished it up at that time.  I can't remember...

And a couple more shots of our time in Taiwan.  It was about the time of the first of these photos that I realised that I found it hard to stitch without a specific goal in mind, i.e. a gift or course etc.  Deadlines provide quite a motivation to work, unless you're a self-starter (which I'm not really....)

In May 2010, I started a general topics, goals and so on blog called Fluffy Little Idiot, which is still going and to which I've posted quite a few times this year as I've been using it to do a photo documentary of my possessions downscale.

I also turned the blog I'd set up a while before to trial layouts on into a place to post about any paper-based art I did: Art Excursion.  I hope to get more into that one by taking some on-line drawing and watercolour classes next year.=)

This cute cross stitch is the last piece I completed this blog year and I made it up into a scatter cushion cover for a Taiwanese friend who'd tried hard to help up with various things.

This blogging year finished with us still in East Asia, having a couple of new counted thread projects in progress and Sew in Love being given a craft blog award by Rachel.

Japan, Korea, Germany and home coming up in Year 6....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Monday, 29 June 2015

Ten Years of Blogging - the fourth year, 2008/9

Year four of my blogging career started off with quite a number more of the blog awards, Helen M Stevens' 'Ornamental Pool' design being finished for my mother-in-law and her hub's 20th wedding and starting out on the band sampler that was to run in the background for the next year.

I finished up another pretty hardanger scatter cushion for friends' 20th wedding anniversary.

In September, and with only a day to go before the start of the programme, I decided to spread my embroidery and textiles wings and start the City & Guilds Level 3 certificate at Harrogate College.  Knowing that I mayn't be in the area longer than a year (as Sir was making obvious moves towards some time in Taiwan), I had originally hoped to fast track the course, but a combination of health problems and workload quickly put the kibosh on that little fantasy!

I got a fair number of samples worked, learned a lot of new techniques and got a chance to put some of the glut of Derwent pencils you saw in the third year's post to use.  I always felt that I was rather 'bottom of the class', but here are a few of the things I was pleased with.  I can see their merits better now there's nothing to compare them with.=D  You'll know what I mean, I'm sure!  C&G work dominated my blog for several months and I ended up having to buy quite a sizeable quantity of supplies needed for it.  That was quite frustrating as we were trying to save money for an impending international move and I had to keep buying in stuff to use once.  I think some of the class thought I was a complete cheapskate, but I felt other circumstances were more important, especially as it was becoming more and more evident that I wasn't going to be able to finish.

In the interests of improving my writing skills in Chinese and German, I started mirror blogs to this one in both languages.  However, I found it rather a pain to keep up to three blogs and the two satellite ones didn't last long.  I even tried to do post summaries in the other languages here, but it soon fell by the wayside.  Shame, really.  Maybe I should try something like that again sometime.

February saw the completion of the third of a set of lovely Derwentwater Designs cross stitch kits of British Birds.  I'd done the chaffinches and bluetits ones before and now I'd finally completed the triptych with the goldfinches.  I'd always meant those to be framed and hung in our bedroom, but I'm still waiting seven years on!  I hope it comes off in our next home.

In March we had a long weekend in Frankfurt, where I bought some French, Italian and Spanish embroidery magazines from the newsagents in the main railway station concourse (German railway stations are GREAT for international publications). Then in early April I took and passed my Music Theory grade 3 exam with 96% and a few days later saw the confirmation of my expectation of leaving the country in the form of the first sentence of an important letter shown here:

After that, naturally, it was all focus on that.

Then in late May/early June with me being was busy with exam invigilation, this was the only exhibit I could enter into the C&G students' end of year show.

It's an awful photo as I was using a poor, cheap camera that was only any good for outside shots because the one I'd been used to using (Sir's old one), had gone thoroughly kaputt.  Mercifully, our tenth wedding anniversary followed in June and I got a lovely new camera (which I'm still using - even still learning to use!), making blog photos much better quality again.

This is the sampler I mentioned at the top of this post, as far as I got during with it this blog year.  It wasn't finished up into the final bellpull until August 2009 (see Year 5)  I remember putting in the last stitches and doing the beading whilst invigilating in a special circumstances exams.  There were two invigilators and one exam candidate, so it wasn't exactly your standard environment!  Afterwards, the student told me it was the most relaxed exam she'd ever sat and then came over to have a look at what I'd been doing!!

That was a good job.  I got loads of things finished, some like this and some that were just low concentration, dull jobs (like filling in plain backgrounds) for exams with several people.

A big blogging highlight for me during this fourth year was getting a mention on Needle'n Thread when Mary featured my post Some Finishes.  One of the three projects I showcased in that post was the dragonfly you met in the Year 3 summary.  A friend had loved the stitchery when she saw it on my old, long-since defunct Webshots album, and I'd been looking for a way to give it to her.  She got engaged and Stitch magazine featured a casket project, so I braved the sewing machine, which my C&G teacher was forever teasing me for being hesitant with, and made it up as an engagement present (filled with chocolates) for her and her fiancé.
At their engagement party, I also handed over a card to another couple and snapped this shot of the initial reaction to it!LOL!=)

I'll leave you with Viv's jaw drop and see everyone again in tomorrow's Year 5 post.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015