Tuesday, 30 November 2010

St Andrew's Day & James' 20th Birthday

Today is James' 20th Birthday, born at 9.25am. Seems amazing how 20 years has just whizzed by :)

Hopefully, I'll get a photo of him later today to post :)
I may even scan a baby photo to post as well. You know, the sort Mums always drag out to the embarrassment of their children :)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Blooming Felt

Thanks to the Sew, Mama Sew blog I was alerted to a really lovely looking Christmas Ogee ornament made from felt on Betz White's blog.
For reasons I can't quite fathom, I really want to make things for Christmas this year .... no idea why! However, this lovely ornament and Betz's very good tutorial really hit the spot!

So ..... I started to try and track down a thick wool felt supplier in the UK that wasn't too expensive. After a little digging around, I found a company called Blooming Felt. I really like their website. It is so bright and colourful. Not only did I order some felt but I also bought some DMC soft cotton thread. This looks suspiciously like the thread I used when I was a little girl on my Needle case, so I'm having a bit of a nostalgia trip with that one! However, I'm thinking of using it to do some embroidery on the Ogee ornament to jazz it up a little.

I also ordered some self covering buttons as this is another thing I've always wanted to try ..... and I will probably use one on the felt pouch I'm making for James.

I am so impressed with Blooming Felt. I placed the order late last Friday and it was delivered on Tuesday! Really fast service. The felt is also very nice and I can't wait to try it out :)

In my general search for felt, I also found some websites explaining how felt is made. Although I was aware of the process, I was especially interested to find websites explaining how to turn an old woollen sweater into felt ...... as a deliberate thing, rather than the accident we all may have made when washing a woollen object at the wrong temperature :)

I really want to have a go! Trouble is though, I have no jumpers that have 80% or more wool content. I'm afraid I am one of those people that can't wear wool .... it makes me itch :)

I must be the only person on the hunt for an old sweater :)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Short Walk? Perhaps Not!

Last Friday evening, we went out for a curry to celebrate a friend's Birthday. We didn't get home and to bed until 1.30am on Saturday morning.

Now ..... I really don't 'Do' late nights any more :)
So, such a late night was only possible because of a little 2 hour sleep as soon as we got home from work!

Was getting up early on Saturday to go walking a possibility? 'No' is the short answer! I did leave my alarm on for 6.30am but getting up then just wasn't what my system wanted to do. Still, we did get up at 8am and thought we'd do a smaller walk .... or at least that's what John said!!

We left home at 9.40am and walked west from our house to join the New River at Cheshunt and then followed the New River north to Broxbourne. The path alongside the New River was very muddy so we made quite slow progress. At Broxbourne, we then followed the signs to the Lea Valley and joined the Lea at Dobbs Weir, where we've been before. We then walked south along the Lea and got back home by 2.10pm. Not quite the short walk I thought we were doing!

I checked on the map ..... we'd walked 11 miles! I think I need to quiz John a little more vigorously when he says 'short walk' :)

Still, I'm not really having a go at John! Despite the muddy conditions, it was a nice day for walking and I am getting so I miss walking if we don't go out!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Closer View of Cross Stitch Christmas Cards

A closer look at my finished Christmas cards. As I said in an earlier post, these were freebies in the Cross Stitcher magazine. I added a few additional touches to one or two of them. For the one above, I used a metallic thread for the straight stitches on the middle bauble.

On the red snowflake, I attached the sequin in the middle by using a tiny seed bead. I was going to sew the other sequins in place but decided in the end that was too fiddly and just stuck them down.
Really like the Christmas pud card. Again I used metallic thread for the straight stitches. I also sewed the sequins in place with tiny seed beads and also did this with the Christmas tree below.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Might have made me go blind!

This project is possibly a salutary lesson in how not to do something, although I am pleased with how it has turned out!

One blog I like to regularly check out is the Craftzine Blog. This blog is fantastic as it alerts you to a wide range of interesting projects on all sorts of websites and blogs. One of their entries described a Firefox Logo cross stitch pattern at a site called Radical Cross Stitch.

As soon as I saw this pattern, I immediately thought it would be a good design to do for my son. James sometimes (gently!) ribs me that IE sucks and that Firefox is much better. I thought I'd make him a felt pouch for his external hard drive and embroider this like a badge to sew onto the closure flap.

So ....... how did I approach this one? Well ..... having decided that I didn't want it to be too big, I decided that using some 28 count linen and stitching each cross stitch over one thread would make the logo about 2 inches in diameter ..... ideal! I bought all the flosses at the Alexandra Knitting and Stitching Show. I then hunted round at home for a small embroidery hoop! Now, for many years I have always used frames! Could I find a hoop? Could I heck! Found a large one that proved to have broken at some point! Further digging ....... found a rubberised one that is supposed to double as a frame but found that hard to stretch the linen over. I'm sure I have a small one somewhere ....... heaven knows where!

In the end, I used a freebie from the Cross Stitcher magazine from a couple of months ago!

OK ...... ready to go! Now to decide how many strands of floss to use? Did a couple of stitches using two threads. You can see these little red stitches in the second photo. This seemed to be OK, so two threads it was! However, sewing over just one thread makes each stitch VERY small! In fact, the stitches are so small, I don't think you can even see that they are cross stitches! I'm not entirely sure what I looked like, but the stitching was done with me peering over the top of my glasses! I must confess to feeling a little bit of eye strain so doubt I'll do something this small again! I did mis-count the pattern at one point and didn't discover until much later! Never mind, I just slightly adjusted the pattern and I don't think anyone will ever notice. Having completed the design, I think I could have got away with only using one strand of floss for each stitch. However, it makes a very firm badge and I am pleased with it.

How long did it take? Well, I think it took about three weeks.

Having finished the design, I want to cut away the excess fabric but obviously don't want it to fray. What to do? Well, another blog I love following is by Ruth O'Leary. Ruth's work is stunning! At the moment (2010) she is working on an amazing project to produce a St Cuthbert's Banner for use in Durham Cathedral. She is making up the design on the banner by individually sewing the motifs and these will then be sewed to the main fabric of the banner. Because each motif will need to be closely trimmed, she's using blanket stitch round the edge of each motif!

Eureka! Of course! Use the humble blanket stitch!

Having completed the cross stitch, I decided to use the dark blue floss and with three strands, make tiny blanket stitches all round the edge as close together as I could. You can see in the second photo that I also sewed a small little blanket stitch circle and cut out the centre, just to see if it really would stop the fabric from fraying. It appears that it does!

However, as you can also see in the second photo, I didn't get the blanket stitches quite close enough, despite my best efforts. Initially, I thought this looked OK, but the more I looked at it, the more I realised that I wasn't happy with the gappy look to the edge. So, I went over the blanket stitch by over sewing with three strands of floss as you can see in the first photo. This looks much better I think.

I now need to pluck up the courage to cut the fabric as close to the stitching as I can! Oh .... and make the felt pouch to put it on!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Cross Stitch Christmas Cards

Another late post! On Saturday 30th October, I put the finishing touches to the cross stitch Christmas cards that were a freebie from the Cross Stitcher magazine.
I did change a few things when stitching. Primarily this was to use some sparkly threads for some of the back stitching. I used a mixture of DMC Light Effects in gold, silver and multi-coloured and some red metallic Kreinik thread I treated myself to when we visited The Work Box shop in Norwich. I also sewed the sequins in place using some tiny seed beads rather than sticking the sequins.

I didn't find the DMC Light Effects thread to be very easy to work with. When you cut the thread, the individual threads that make it up start to unravel which makes it quite dificult to thread on the needle. Also, when you are working it, the thread breaks where it is passing through the needle requiring you to trim the thread whilst working with it. Although this was manageable for small amounts of back stitching, I don't think I'd like to use it for large areas of cross stitching. By comparison, the Kreinik thread was lovely to work with. Nevertheless, perhaps it's a case of, you get what you pay for! The Kreinik thread was much more expensive than the DMC Light Effects thread.
Mind you, I should have had a look on the Internet for advice! On the DMC site, there's information about the best way of using their thread, so I will have another go with another project and see how I get on. The sparkly effect the thread produces is well worth any extra effort. As an added thought, I wonder what it might look like couched down to cover an area?

On The Way To Sorting The Boots!

For this walk, on Saturday 6th November, we got on the train to Roydon aiming to walk from there to Bishops Stortford along the river Stort. This is only a distance of 12 miles but so long as we walk at least 12 miles on any one walk, we're happy!

Additional saga with the boots! I aught to explain that the problem with my boots is that they're a little bit too big. They were given to me when I was a Cub leader by a Scout leader to do short walks with my Cubs. You see ..... I hate new shoes/boots as they always give me blisters. However, these nicely walked-in boots seemed ideal and for the short walks I used to do with my Cubs, they were! However, this is not the case for the distances we're doing. Even with three pairs of socks, my feet are obviously moving around and causing blisters on my heels.

However, found some insoles with curved bits in the heels and thought I'd see if these would help. They do! However, to continue the saga, these aged boots today objected to me tightly lacing them up and two of the loops came off!! Heath Robinson eat your heart out ..... ended up with the lace tied round my ankle and I'm thankful that John knows how to repair this sort of thing!

At which point, they say an army walks on its stomach ..... shouldn't it be on its boots :)

Still, one highlight of the walk ..... between Sawbridgeworth and Bishops Stortford we again saw the flash of a kingfisher. This time, it went on ahead of us along the river so we saw the flash a few times. Never close enough to get a good look, mind you. Still, a brilliant sight.

How long did we take this time? Well, although the train got us to Roydon by 8.10, we got stuck on the wrong side of the level crossing for 35 minutes! At this point, a lorry driver also stuck there said he thought there must be a problem! So, at 8.45 we decided to head across country up to the A414 (not that pleasant to walk along!) and then back down to the Stort and carry on from there. We got to Bishops Stortford at 13.40. So, quite a bit slower than previously which may have been because of the couple of stops we had to make to sort out my laces. It was also quite muddy underfoot for a fair way.

Still ...... a result! No blisters on my feet! But John, my boot repairer par-excellence has a job to do before our next walk :)

These Boots Aren't Made For Walking!

To pinch (almost!) some of Nancy Sinatra's song :)
My boots proved to be a pain, quite literally!

I'm rather late reporting on this particular training walk which was on Saturday 30th October. We started a little later than planned; about 8.50 aiming to walk between Cheshunt and Sawbridgeworth. A distance of approximately 14 miles. Here's the first lock on the route that hasn't been photographed before; Feakes Lock along the river Stort.

Here I am at Sheering Mill Lock. Although I look like I'm smiling ...... it's a grimace really! The skin covering the blisters I developed under my heels in the first week of our training walks came off during the previous week. So, new ones developed during this training walk ...... and boy did they hurt!
Even so, we got to Sawbridgeworth by 13.20 which was pretty good going. We are averaging 3 miles an hour. However, I was certainly not doing that by the end, so I can only think we are walking much faster at the beginning. Also, despite the blister problem, we both felt really strong by the end of this walk, so the training is paying dividends! Mind you, I still find myself thinking that we've 'only' done 14 miles ...... primarily because we need to be strong enough to do 42!.
Still, it was also a glorious day for walking and I'm beginning to find it really addictive.
However ....... sorting out something with my boots is now a priority!!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Runner Up Prize for Great Dorset Steam Fair Photograph

Great news yesterday! John entered a photograph he took at the Great Dorset Steam Fair into a competition being run by The Vintage Spirit magazine. They contacted him to say that his photograph (the one above) has won a runners up prize of one year's free subscription to the magazine.

I am totally chuffed for John! The photograph will appear in the next edition of the magazine, although it is certainly a publication with a pretty limited readership I would guess!

So, he'll be able to sit on the train with this magazine in true geeky style :)
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