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Monday, 22 February 2010

Cross Stitch up-date Clematis and review of kit


Here is my update from last weeks rotation which is a DMC kit 'Clematis'. The stitching somehow didn't 'flow' last week, but I think I might have finished about 1/4 of the chart. Than there is the backstitch, and there is going to be a lot of backstitch! However, on this piece, I think the backstitch is going to 'make' this piece. 

Now some points about the quality of the kit. Firstly, the linen and threads are excellent, and I especially like the way the threads are not only sorted, but the symbol + colour number is printed on the thread sorter. Brilliant, and makes stitching so much easier:

However, whoever designed the chart is not a cross stitcher! Some of the symbols are very similar in appearance, and the fat backstitch lines are on top of it on the chart - in many parts it is impossible to see which symbol is underneath that backstitch. So it's guessing... and I keep going back with another lenght of thread thinking  'oh yeah, I think there should be a little bit more of this or that colour there... I'm sure I've missed out another one there...etc etc. ' Well, I know there are some cross stitchers who like to change the charts according to their needs, but I am not one of them. I need a clear chart without ambiguity.

(I've got 2 more kits in the same series LOL)

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Jilly Cooper 'Emily'

Published by Arlington Books in 1975.

I have read this quite some time ago and can't really remember all the details any more, so I shall copy the blurp. It is an easy and enjoyable read, 160 pages, ideal for communting.

If Emily hadn't gone to Annie Richmond's party, she would never have met the impossible irresistible Rory Balniel - never have married him and been carried off to the wild Scottish Island of Irasa to live in his ancestral home along with his eccentric mother, Coco and the dog, Walter Scott. She'd never have met the wild and mysterious Marina, a wraith from Rory's past, nor her brother, the disagreeable Finn Maclean; never have spend a night in a haunted highland castle, or been caught stealing roses in a see-through nightie... Yes, it all started at Annie Richmond's party.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Happy Birthday Bonnie

Yesterday was Bonnie's 4th. birthday. Happy Birthday Bonnie.
We've now had her for almost 2 years, we got her on the 22nd. March 2008.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Alien snowdrop circles and searching for spring

Alien Snowdrop Circles in Kent??????

Chestnuts                                                            The frst snowdrops

The weather was just beautiful today, and I couldn't resist taking the camera out with me and go in search of the first signs of spring.

Others have crop circles... I  have found this strange 'circle' with snowdrops right in a middle of a field ... no idea how it got there in that strange formation right in the middle of a field...made me laugh and I had to take a picture.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Nature's Home afghan update

Square 6Square 7Square 8view of the whole afghan so far.

Here is my rotation from last week - Nature's Home afghan. For square 6, I only had to finish the backstitch, but his really brought out the design and was well worth the effort. Than I did the next square to the right which I call square 7 (though they have different square numbers on the original chart, but I am working my way from the top down). Square 7 was not heavily stitched, so it was easy to finish in a few days. And the start of square 8 which is going to be very heavily stitched, almost completely filled with a birdhouse and surrounding flowers.

The flowers proving a right pain to stitch. There are a lot of colours in those small areas of flowers - the leaves alone for example contain over 15 different shades of green - I'm not convinced it is necessary for the design, but well, it does look nice when finished, so I guess it's worth the effort.  I definitely didn't do as much as on the giraffe last week, and it is a chore to get the afghan out every 5 weeks... but I'm determined not to have another very large project in my rotation until I finished the afghan - otherwise this could easily turn into a UFO - which I really want to avoid. Looking at the whole afghan today when I took the pictures helped though, as I feel it is turning into 'something' finally!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentine's Day to all - not just for lovers

Wishing you all a Lots of Love on Valentine's Day.

Here in the UK, Valentine's Day seems to be celebrated 'between  Lovers'. The whole week there were special features on TV (yes, I've got lots of time to watch daytime TV!) about couples finding each other, marriage proposals en mass etc). And the ominous -- oh how sad it must be if you don't have a lover, especially on Valentine's Day --. Now, I don't agree with that at all. Just because you don't have a lover doesn't mean you are desperately sad, indeed I think for some of you, you are more happy on your own.

I have heard somewhere (not sure if this is true) that in North America Valentine's Day is seen more as a celebration of Love - and that is all kind of love e.g. the love for your mother, your siblings, your friends, your pets. I would very much like to pledge for Valentine's Day to celebrate all kinds of love.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Judith Krantz 'Spring Collection'


This week's book comes from the world of fashion, which is rather appropriate with the sad passing of designer Alexander McQueen (personally, I am not into Haute Couture). The book was published in 1996. It falls for me into the category of 'chick lit', even though I think the term was probably not really used by the time this was published. But it is what 'chick lit' is all about for me - easy to read, 'female' topics (OK,  I think I am patronising here, what is a female topic?, and anyway, many of the big fashion designers are male). But back to the book.

Justine owns a model agency in New York. Somewhat surprisingly, 3 of the models on her books win a 'contest' to go to Paris to present the collection of a new and upcoming designer, Marco Lombardi. Others in the fashion world are surprised that 3 of her models are chosen for this exquisite job, but Justine is not SPOILER- as Lombardi's billionaire backer is her father, Jacques Necker, who has left her mother before Justine was even born. Not surprisingly, Justine detests him. The book tells really 5 different stories - the story of Justine, her PA Frankie and the individual stories of the 3 chosen models, all very different and all with their own little stories to tell. All of their lives will be changes by the adventures in Paris and Manhattan, some (most!) will find love by the end of the book as it is expected, but it is still told with a lot of entertainment value.

One of the 'funny' things for me was the mental picture I had in my head of Marco Lombardi (who SPOILER - emerges as quite an unpleasant character). Isn't it funny how we paint a mental picture of book characters in our mind - that is for sure one of the great things about reading a book.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Walkies again - for Bonnie and me

I finally started to go out with Bonnie again - boy, I was missing that. See, with a 35kg Labrador, I was really scared to walk with her and that I might not be able to hold her with my fresh abdo scar. Usually.... she is quite well behaved, but if she sees another dog - or anything which takes her fancy, she can pull me quite badly - and I really didn't want to risk my scar opening up again.

Out came the HALTI head collar again! I used to use it when we first got Bonnie. Her previous owner never really walked her, she was only kept in the back garden, and they only had a choke chain for her. So when I took her for a walk first time - all proud new dog owner - it was a nightmare. But the head collar changed her into a different dog, walking reallyle nicely with me and I was easily able to control her. I than stopped using it when she appeared to be a bit more settled with us, as SHE really hates the head collar. But now it is saving me again, as I find it really easy to control her with it, and Yeah, I am finally able to walk her again.  Slowly but steadily life returns to normal for me.

Btw, we've only had the slightest dusting of snow, as can be seen in the pictures, and even that is melting quickly in the winter sun. Bonnie easily broke to ice in that puddle to have a drink.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Giraffe mother and baby update

*smile* I'm impressed with myself! I've made serious progress on the giraffe in last week's rotation. That's what can be done if I have enough time for my hobby! Obviously, being at home and with nothing else to do, I devoted several hours a day to cross stitch. The picture on the right shows how it looked last Monday.

I have to say that the fabric is lovely to stitch on and I would like to declare it my favourite fabric at this stage. And it is Aida - I've never thought I'd say that, Aida my favourite fabric. It is 18ct, and it's lovely to stitch on, and the appearance is really lovely as well, and 2 strands of thread give perfect cover. It makes such a difference to the 'large' appearance 14ct, so much so that I will probably change the fabric in many of the kits I have. Only 'problem' is of course that the picture will turn out much smaller.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

For all of you who had enough of the winter weather - a little bit rude though

Margarete send me this picture today - for all of you who really had enough of the snow. (mum!!)

Well, here in NW Kent, we only had snow for a few days beginning of January, and than only around 5cm. Not a single snow flake since. Maybe that's why I love it so much when it snows here - I miss it.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Lazy Saturday and my first walk

Weekend is here - not that it makes a difference to me at the moment. I had a bit of a scare last night when I realised that my scar is bleeding. Not badly, but... I hope this is not a setback, it's now 12 days after the surgery. I didn't lift anything heavy or anything like that, basically all I did was sitting here on my desk with the laptop, and sitting in the armchair stitching. All that sitting must have done it LOL.

The weather is really mild here at the moment, around 11 degree C,and nice winter sunshine. After some 'gentle' persuation on my part Nafees agreed to go out with me to walk Bonnie. I am really missing walking the dog, not to mention the look Bonnie gives me every time I walk past the closet with the 'dog-walking' stuff, her leads etc. But she is much too strong unforunately for me to walk her by myself. If there is no-one else around, it's fine, but if another dog appears on the scene...different story, than I won't be able to hold her in my current past-OP state. Here are a few impressions:
Nafees with Bonnie Honey outside our house, making a dash for it.
Across the road from us.

Friday, 5 February 2010

John Pearson 'The Profession of Violence - The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins'

When I first came to the UK in 1993 I moved to East London (Walthamstow) and lived in the area (Walthamstow and Leytonstone) for the next 10 years. In October 2000 I saw the burial procession of Reggie Kray through Walthamstow. As I am not native to the area, I didn't really know anything about the Kray brothers, so when I saw this book in a charity shop I thought it would be good to 'educate' myself on those two. I like to read 'real-life- crime stories in general.

The Kray twins were 'the original East End villains', ruling London's East End of the 1950's and 60's . Born in 1933 in Hoxton, East London, from an early age, they were involved in armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, violent assaults including torture and finally, murders. The book outlines their early life including information on their parents and grandparents and their rise through the ranks of the criminals of London's East End. There were many things I didn't know - not having read a lot about them before - e.g. that Ronnie suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, Ronnie being gay which he was apparently quite open about and despite general hostility in society towars gays at the time, he was accepted within the criminal world as such.  

The book very much keeps to the facts without being judgemental, which I prefer in 'real-life' crime books, thus completely overcoming the devide opinion about the Kray twins - vicious villans or glamourous gangsters.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Who can resist a kitten?

I could watch the cats and their sleeping positions all day. Here is Medway in my room, feeling obviously very relaxed. He is now 4.5 months old, and started to go out which is always a big worry for me. But I still believe a cat is an animal and needs to go out, even with all the risks. Just yesterday I looked at some pictures of Thomas when he was a kitten (which is really just about 3 years ago) and felt soooo sad, it is still painful that we lost him last year. Thommuuu where-ever you are now, we think of you. You would have liked little Medway.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Filing System for charts from cross stitch magazines

It was about time I sorted out my cross stitch magazines for various reasons:

1. three big banana boxes full of magazines - space problem
2. Many more magazines all over the house
3. I was never able to find a chart if I ever searched for one, indeed, it was impossible to look through the magazines quite simply because there were so many with no system at all.
4. DH moaning LOL

YES, it did hurt to rip the magazines apart, but it has to be done for the good coming out of it *sigh*. And this is how I did it:

Step 1: The most difficult part - Rip the chart out of the magazine.

It's obviously up to you how ruthless you want to be in your selection - I sort of keep all of the well-known designer stuff such as Michael Powell, or Liliput Lanes, and things which I know I like e.g. cats, dogs, wildflowers. No cuties for me, nor teddies.

Step 2: Place the chart in a clear plastic wallett.

You may need to fold the chart a bit to place it in the folder. Here in the UK you can get them really cheap in discount stores such as Poundland etc.

Step 3: Chose a category and write it on the top left side of the plastic wallet.

Anything which makes it easy for you to find it again and archive it. Cats, landscape, .... finishes, techniques...

Step 4: File away alphabetically in a ring binder

Step 5: Add the relevant category to the side of the binder / or on the front - whereever it is easier for you to find it.

And that's it. It is really easy to browse through the charts and different categories which will be marked in the front left corner. It will be equally easy to add charts / remove charts for using them.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Le Coeur and Margaret Sherry cat

So, this is what I did last week (the one with the strawberries, the cherries were done last year). They are from a French series of calliagraphy heart designs by French designer Isabelle Vautier,  from a company called Savoir-Fairie Vailly. They have a big range of 'heart-shaped' designs, right from the usual stuff like flowers, animals, also designs of Paris, one for chocolate lovers... cows, penguins, Egypt. I bought my two designs in Germany a few years ago. As far as I am aware, they are only available as kits. Here is the link if anyone wants to have a look.

The hearts were finished by Saturday, so there was time for a new start - a Margaret Sherry cat. It's a design from a the magazine Cross Stitcher (June 2003), it's a cat tangled up in cross stitch, very cute. As I'm working to a 5 weekly rotation, this won't come out again for a while, but shouldn't take long to finish at the end. It stitches up very easily actually.

©2009 The Pegster | by TNB