Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Maul Cousin Reunion - Saturday 26th June

In the early hours of Boxing Day 2009, John's Mum, Rose Mary Maul passed away unexpectedly. She was the last of the generation of 'Maul' brothers and sisters and their spouses, so it was very much the end of an era.

She was a grand lady and I have never been able to call her my 'Mother-in-Law' because the phrase conjures up the dreadful harridans in Mother-In-Law jokes and she was never like that. Indeed, she is very much missed. Her funeral was on 7th January 2010, but the weather here was so bad that several of her nieces and nephews couldn't get to it, which was a shame.

Nevertheless, one of John's cousins decided that, all too often, the only time families get together is for funerals ...... so back in January she fixed a day for a 'Maul Cousin' Get Together and it took place last weekend, on Saturday 26th June.

It was great! The sun shone. Christine, John's cousin, laid on a fantastic BBQ and we all shared photos of the 'Mauls', both the generation that has now gone and also the new additions that some of us knew little about! Indeed, several cousins hadn't seen one another for over 20 years! One didn't even know of the existence of our 19 year old son, James!

I had very hurridly tried to put together all my 'Maul' family tree research into a Word document. I didn't quite finish it, but was able to share what I had managed to get together plus we all exchanged email addresses so we can keep one-another posted on any extras.

It was a fantastic day and we've agreed to repeat it every year! Next year, it will be at my Sister-in-Law Lynne's house..... date to be fixed soon :)

Friday, 25 June 2010

Photographing Needlework

Although it is my husband, John, who is the photographer in the family, I thought I'd have a go at photographing some of my needlework pictures yesterday.

In particular, I tried to photograph the picture I am most proud of. This is a very large gobelin stitch needlepoint picture which I think was called 'Midnight in Winter'. It is a kit I got from the Gobelin Company based in Germany. They don't supply this particular picture any more so unfortunately I can't check the name and I didn't keep the counted chart pattern ...... well, I'm not going to do it again, that's for sure!

I fell in love with the picture the minute I saw it in the catalogue but it is a biggie! It's 72 cm deep and 43cm wide and on quite fine count fabric, requiring 9 stitches per cm. Mind you, with these particular kits, one gobelin stitch is actually two physical stitches, so really it's 18 stitches to the cm. It is completely done in different shades of blue from the very darkest blue-black to off-white and white itself, and it shows some sheep in a field, with the silhouette of a tree to one side, all illuminated by a full moon.

However, photographing it proved to be difficult! Although it is framed behind non-reflective glass, I could still see reflections of the windows behind me. I tried everything! Standing to one side improves things but it is more difficult than I thought!

I'd also like to try to photograph stitches up close ........ but I can see this will also be a challenge!

I will have to search on the Internet for advice!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Cross Stitch Rug Work In Progress

My current work in progress is a very large cross stitch rug on rug canvas using rug wool. This is a kit made by Glorafilia.

I have been getting my husband to take photos as I've been working on it as the pleasure of seeing how far I've got, each time he takes a photo, spurs me on to do more! However, John takes his photos in 'raw' format, so I have to wait to get him to process them before I can post them here. A round-about way of saying .... sorry, no photos at the moment :)

This rug has a story to go with it. I bought it ages ago, so long ago that I'm not entirely sure when! I think I bought it in the first few years of our marriage, so sometime around 1984/5. It was in a Glorafilia sale and I vaguely recall that it was about half price or something silly. I'm sure I didn't pay much more than £25. I also bought my first floor standing frame as it was obviously a project that would need one.

At the time, I thought I aught to make something 'useful' rather than the Penelope tapestry kits I was busily turning into pictures around the house and it looked like it would make up quickly! However ...... it got put into a cupboard and I forgot about it .... whilst carrying on with the Penelope or Gobelin kits and after that, cross-stitch kits.

A very long time after, I re-discovered it! It had been in the cupboard so long that the sellotape used for the delivery parcel had lost its stickiness and was falling off! So ...... do something about it! Get it started! This was approximately in 2003!!

It was tough attaching the canvas to the frame. Rug canvas is very stiff and it really hurt my fingers. Still, having attached it, I did the first couple of rows and then lost interest! It stood unloved in one of our upstairs rooms that we use as a music room...... until John noticed last September/October that the printed design that was exposed to the air between the top and bottom stretcher bars was fading, even though it wasn't in direct sunlight!!

I had to do something about finishing it before the design faded completely! And I have! I have made pretty good progress and I'm glad to say that I've got past the faded area. Thank goodness there was a pretty good photograph of a finished rug in the kit or I would have been lost! I have also religiously covered the work with a clean towel after each sewing session to prevent any more fading.
Here is a scan of the picture which came with the kit. The pastel colours look a bit washed out which may have more to do with how I scanned it! However, you can just make out the dimensions: 33 inches by 53 inches......... not small by any means!

What do I think of this project? Well ..... it's a bit of a slog! There's no real skill involved in the cross-stitches or following the design. Nevertheless, I am about half way and it is beginning to look reasonably impressive.

But will I allow anyone to walk on it when it's finished? Umm.......

Monday, 21 June 2010

Birthday Boy!

And, of course, I couldn't forget Minstrel!

Taking photos of Minstrel can be a challenge, what with him being a black and white cat! So we don't have as many good ones of him as we do for Flossie. His eyes are the most vivid green which this doesn't really capture unfortunately.

Had we realised that he was a boy when we first had him, we would have called him Sylvester as he looks just like him! He has the Tuxedo colouring with white down his front and the white paws and if he sits looking at you, the long-haired fluffyiness around his mouth makes him look just like Sylvester. Truely a handsome chap!

My Birthday Has Come and Gone!

Saturday 19th June was my 51st Birthday and we spent the weekend away at a hotel near to Winchester in Hampshire. We had a great time.

OK .... John did take lots of photos but I don't have them to hand at the moment!

Still .... it's sometime around now that it's the 4th Birthdays for Flossie and Minstrel. We don't know their exact birth dates as their mother was discovered in someone's garden with a new litter of kittens in late June 2006. However, the lady in whose garden they were found obviously went to great lengths to socialise the kittens as they are both the friendliest cats ever!

So ..... another photo of Flossie instead of me! :)

On the specific day that this was taken, I had noticed Flossie was sitting still for once and the lighting was just right! I didn't dare to get up myself to get the camera as I knew she would move, so I called John to take the photo. Luckily, she stayed still and this is the result. I think it must be my favourite photo.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Did I Mention I Love Cats?

I think I did!

This gives you a better look at the two cats in my life. Flossie is the tortie on the left and Minstrel is the black and white on the right.

They are brother and sister and are long haired and are four years old. They are also the nicest natured cats I have ever known.

Flossie is the chatty one. Her little 'chirrups' and miaows are such that you can almost have conversations with her. Whilst Minstrel is the quiet, silent type. Most of the time they get on together, as you can see here, but from time to time they do have the odd fall out!
They always follow me about, so I am sure that if I were alive in the 15th century, I'd be branded as a witch!!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Why Start A Blog?

Why indeed!

Having worked in IT for such a long time, I had obviously heard of blogs but to be honest ...... why would anyone want to read what I might want to say? So I have never bothered!

However, in January 2010, the vicar for my church went on a three month sabattical during which he went on a long Pilgrimmage across Scotland. Every evening he would post a blog on his day and it was fascinating! He called it A Pilgrim's Cairn and it can still be read, although he stopped updating it once the Pilgrimmage was finished.

Moreover ...... I discovered the ubiquitous 'Next Blog' and by using this, I quickly found a whole wealth of creative people in the crafting world and so many fantastic blogs with beautiful photos of embroidery and other crafts.

And then ...... I quickly found that you can look at any given blog's Followers and see the blogs they follow ..... and find even more inspiring blogs!

So, since then I've been a (primarily) craft-blog lurker and comment poster when the mood takes me! However, I think it's about time I took the plunge as I have been a needlepointer and cross-stitcher since my teens and, looking round my house, I realise there are lots of items I've made that I would like to record.

These blogs have also inspired me to feel the itch to branch out into freestyle embroidery and this will be a good way of recording how I get on.

I may also record my creative endeavours in the world of web development, as I look after the website for my church as a novice I might add! Not forgetting my huband John's love of candlemaking and photography.

And no photos! Must rectify that in subsequent posts :)
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