Staycation Day 3 … every little stitch

Well my plans for a blog post a day have already fallen over…

Never mind… have managed to use needle and thread every day…

Zen de Jour

Friday night at Mum’s I finished stitching the Winter Carnation stocking – this means I’ve finished my commitment  for Yoyo’s Christmas Design SAL for this month, though I may try to start another of the stockings by the end of the month.

Blackbird Designs, By The Chimney with Care, Stitches and Spice Wintered Marble 32ct Belfast Linen, The Gentle Arts Thread, Apple Cider, Antique Rose, Avocado, Cornhusk

And because I was still in a cross stitching mood, on returning home and loading up the VCR with more X files episodes, I continued on with South Seas Lace, that I am doing as a SAL with Claire and Sandra.  Completed another long side – only problem is I can’t remember which side is up, and it doesn’t really matter design wise, except I suspect my stitches are angling different ways!

Reading de Jour

The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts – this was a re-read, the final book in the Sign of Seven Trilogy.   I was telling a friend about them awhile ago, and she asked to borrow the series.  Found the first two books on my bookshelf, Blood Brothers and The Hollow – but couldn’t find the last book, until I found it when searching for something else the other day.

This trilogy tells the story of 3 boys, all born on the same day, when celebrating their 10th birthday together unwittingly unleash demonic forces on their town.   For seven days every seven years, strange things happen in Hawkins Hollow.    Each book focuses on one of the 3 men 21 years later, and the women that come into their lives to help stop The Seven.   Typical Roberts romance with a good mix of paranormal suspense.   This is not the best of the trilogy… the first two books are better, but still a great holiday read.

Work in Progress Show n’ Tell

I realised I hadn’t posted a photo of a recent block finish.   I’m recieving Rosalie Quinlan’s It’s a Redwork Christmas each month from Under the Mulberry Tree, and finished Block One’s stitchery ages ago, but forgot to post photo.    Will get the block put together when Mum is here with the machine first week in January.

This was great fun, even though the blanket stitch (which is actually all back stitch) took an age – and all of the 9 blocks have this trim!!!   I’ve discovered I enjoy stitching (and cross stitch) where you are just working with one colour rather than constantly having to change colours.

Have blocks 2 and 3, and want to get stuck into those, but need to get my Holly Jolly Christmas Swap blocks finished first – which is what I’ll be working on for the next little while.

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Staycation Day 1 – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Yesterday was Day 1 of my 6 week ‘staycation’ and I’m hoping to do a blog post each day monitoring my progress towards my goal of using needle and thread every day!

I spent the majority of the day doing shopping, as another goal of this break is to get into a better ‘eating’ regime.   Spent the afternoon at Mum’s basting a quilt top to take to our hand quilting class at Needle and Pins last night.

This was the 2nd and last class with Kaye – last month we worked on a practice piece learning Kaye’s technique involving using your thumb and a very loose quilt.   I wanted to have a go at working on something bigger, so have started handquilting a quilt made for me by Anjii from QDU several years ago… can’t show photo as I left the quilt at Mum’s last night to do some work on tomorrow.

Zen De Jour for Staycation 1

Have made a start on my Blackbird Designs Stockings Series which I am doing as part of a year long Cross Stitch Chrismas Stitch along organised by Yoyo at Dragon My Needle.   Each of the monthly patterns include 3 stockings, and I am hoping to get at least 1 stitched each month.   This one is  Winter Carnation.   Using Stitches and Spice Wintered Marble 32ct Belfast Linen and Gentle Arts threads.

Also still progressing on the South Seas Lace SAL, though Claire and Sandra have finished their’s awhile ago!   It’s coming along, a little bit at a time.

Viewing De Jour

While doing this work, I’ve been watching Season One of the X Files – I loved this show back in the day, one of those programs where I’d seriously debate going out if it was X files night!   So, have been enjoying watching these again, and realising that some of these still are really creepy!   Have watched about 7 episodes over the last week.

Reading de Jour

Finished Book 8 of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Series – Dead to Worse – having read 1-8 over the last 2 weeks.   These are ok, not as great as other Harris books, but fun and easy to read.

Am hoping to do a fair bit of reading or re-reading over this break.   Though this year has already been a major reading year for me.

Only other thing to show is these Christmas decorations I made for a group of friends last week.   The 6 of us worked together between 1990-1995 and have regularly caught up since, usually for brunch several times a year and an annual Christmas get together.  I’ve missed a lot of the catch ups this year, so it was lovely to see them all last weekend – and as has become tradition – I made them all a hand stitched ornament.   These designs came from a vintage book of iron on’s – I had wondered if they’d still work – well they worked so well not only did they iron on to the fabric, but I also each image imprinted on my ironing board cover!   There are about 50 designs in the book, and I’ve decided to do each of them onto blocks next year to see about incorporating them into a quilt – as they were fun to do!

Now!  Regarding that blog title.  I usually go all out decorating for Christmas, but since moving into the place I’m in I haven’t been motivated at all – hence Christmas decorations – of the santa and angel variety – have been kept in the garage for the last 2 years.   Mum, on the other hand – transforms her house each year – there is usually some new stitchery project or quilt, plus the old ones – to the point that she’s running out of room.   So below – a tour of Flossie’s Christmas living room!

The mantle – filled with homemade stockings.

Redwork Santa – a design from a McCalls Quilts for Christmas Magazine

Technicolour Christmas – a Row by Row swap we participated in – sorry for the blurry photo, and the colours are a lot more vibrant then they appear – all Moda Marbles fabrics,

Another blurry photo – Various redwork Christmas designs – made by Mum about 6 years ago – still one of my favourites!

A variety of stitcheries.

Below are Mum’s projects from this year – one a little stitchery, the other a English paper pieced Christmas tree – she was still working on this when I took the photo’s last weekend, but it’s now finished and up on the wall.

And each year Mum makes a Christmas themed T-shirt for my sister and herself (much as I love the craft – I ain’t going to wear patchwork or applique!!!).   These are this years efforts.

And finally – one my favourite of the Mum’s Christmas decoration – she’s made lots of these over the years!

She’s making a list and checking it twice…

Put away the books, we’re out of school
The weather’s warm but we’ll play it cool
We’re on staycation, havin’ lots of fun
S-T-A-Y-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summer sun

Can you tell I’m getting a little excited?   Only 16 more sleeps before I go on leave and I don’t go back to work till the end of January – 43 days off – woo hoo!

This will be the longest continuous break I’ve had since I was diagnosed with glandular fever 20+years ago, and I spent 5 weeks at home feeling cruddy and the only energy I had was to cross stitch while getting addicted to Santa Barbara and Days of Our Lives (I watched the first episode that Patch appeared in and was hooked, lol).

But like then, I’m going to be predominantly housebound, apart from some small trips and a quilt class or two… and a friend coming to stay for a few days.   May actually be forced to be housebound, as my nephew’s car is off the road and he’s regularly borrowing mine to get to and from work.

Flossie (Mum) coming to stay for the 1st week of the New Year, we’re going to have a ‘bee’ between putting together some quilt tops and finishing off some small projects like wallhangings and bags.

It’ll be the usual deal of her using the machine, and my cutting and pressing…though I am thinking of getting her to help me make a start on either one of these gorgeous quilts by Roslyn of BloomSimply a Bloom or Sweet Menagerie.

A bit inspired by Blessed’s version of Simply a Bloom and the bundle of Allspice Tapestry Charm Squares and Jelly Rolls I found when sorting out the stash for the sale of surplus items!

Both of these seem like relatively simple projects for someone who is less than comfortable on the machine, as it’s just straight sewing…

Am busy getting organised and things prepped with the intention of sewing something every day!

Things I must do while on staycation:

  • Get my blocks finished and posted to Aunt Pitty Pat for the Holly Jolly Christmas Block Swap – have got all my backgrounds cut, just need to sit down this week and start to prep the appliques, I’m doing Christmas Wreaths, Plum Puddings and Christmas Ornaments

  • Make softie book/s of this panel – I commented on the Busy Thimbles blog and as a result the panels arrived today and I get to have a play… already have ideas swarming through my head
  • Finish my South Seas Lace cross-stitch… as usual I’m lagging behind behind on this SAL, both Claire and Sandra have finished theirs… and I’m still stitching on mine, making slow progress… got bored with the narrow border and wanted to see what the final border looked like.

Actually, check out Sandra’s Grand Marquoir finish post… isn’t it gorgeous?   This is another project I’m lagging behind on, I’ve done 3 letters…sigh…

  • Keep up to date with The Parsonage Dresden Plate Exchange – I’m working on Kylie’s at present … you can see one of her blocks below, I didn’t make this one, Jules did.    I’ll also have Jules handed over to me in the next fortnight.

  • Start my Blackbird Design Stocking Series – I’m hoping to be part of Dragon My Needle’s Christmas Design SAL – a year long stitch along working on particular Christmas Designs.  I got the January 2009 kit from Stitches and Spice for these gorgeous little stockings, and hope to get the rest of the series during 2010.  So the aim is to stitch at least 1 stocking a month during 2010.

Things I’d like to do while on staycation (and more likely towards the end of my 43 days will be getting lots of things prepped so that I can just pick things up and work on them once I get back to work… including:

  • Prep Aunt Millie’s Garden blocks – I’m using a white with black pindot background and lots of spotty/dotty/striped bright fabric
  • Prep Love Letters blocks – I’ve got 2 lots of fabric for these, deep navy, burgundy, browns on tan backgrounds for Mum, and the 3 Sisters Chocolat range that was used in the original quilt for me.   Not going to make both – will get the blocks ready for Mum to stitch hers, and will prep and applique mine

  • Organise cross-stitch patterns for Aury’s Bride’s Tree SAL.  The Bride’s Tree is a German tradition. It is believed that a couple’s Christmas tree needs twelve specific ornaments for happiness in their life journey together. My eldest nephew and his girl get married in November 2010, and have asked us to give them money towards their honeymoon in lieu of gifts as they are funding the wedding themselves.   This seemed like a nice idea, to make them 13 ornaments for their 1st tree as a married couple, and I thought I’d look for quakerstyle patterns for each months theme, and have found some freebie patterns already i.e. the quaker heart to represent true love and love of family.

I’d also really like to aim to do a blog post a day… either a progress report on what I’m working on, or maybe dragging out some WIPs/PIGs and posting in more detail, in an attempt to shame me into progressing some of these.

Anyway, off away to do the dishes and to bed… coming home tomorrow night to progress the embroidery on some Christmas ornaments for a catch up with some girlfriends weekend after next.

Will blog a Christmas themed post at the weekend, hopefully to show the finished ornaments, and my first blocks for Holly Jolly as well as some show and tell as Mum has started decorating the house today, and I realised none of her Christmas quilts are recorded on the blog.