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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Small, Colorful Swedish Sampler

First off, let me say a great big THANK YOU for all the wonderful comments and congratulations that you left about the Richmond sampler!  Each and every one of your comments made me so happy - thank-you-thank-you-thank-you!!!  :-D

To take a break from the BAPs, I started stitching on this tiny Swedish sampler last week.  It was an e-bay find that I was really happy with, since I have seen pictures of the finished piece on Japanese blogs, but I have never been able to figure out where it comes from, even though the last three letters in the alphabet tells us that it likely is a Swedish design.  Once I finally got my hands on it, I learned that it is a design from 1982, designed by a local craft guild in Sweden.
I just finished it up a few minutes ago and wanted to share it with you before bed-time!  I was about as lucky ironing this piece as the last - I swear that I burned the linen on one of the edges this time around... sigh.  :-(
Anyway, it was a fun and a relatively quick stitch.  Colorful, yet only using seven different colors total. Here is a quick progression series;
Thursday night:
Friday night:
 And finally, tonight:
As I mentioned in my last post, this sampler is made to celebrate craft in all it's forms.  You probably recognize most of the items representing various craft genres above.  There are a few things included that I am curious about whether they are known all around the world, though.
First off, we have two stars somewhat placed in the center of the sampler.  I believe that these stars are represent the wooden Christmas stars that are hung in some Swedish windows in the beginning of the Christmas season.  The stars hang from a cord and have light-bulbs mounted inside, so that they light up.  I don't think that the wooden versions are that common nowadays, but most people use the "fold away" paper stars instead.  Here are a couple of example of Swedish Christmas star lights:
 The bird nested in the crest of greenery is probably also representing wood craft. 

And the blue and green object in the upper right hand corner is likely a traditional Sami knife.  The Sami people is a nomad people who follow the reindeer, sometimes across the far north borders between Norway, Sweden and Denmark.  They are well known for their skills in various crafts, among which can be counted knife smithing and unique jewellery and accessories made with tin or silver strands which are braided and mounted on leather.  Very pretty!

Anyway, I had a lot of fun stitching on this sampler and the colors make me happy!  Another thing that makes me happy is the company of Henny.  She loves to sit and "help" me stitch.  She will sit on my knee and watch me until I give her a piece of floss.  She rolls up her sleeves and gets right into business:
Look at her giving that piece of pink string a work-out!  She does also like to do some serious work on Q-tips....

I did also get some really nice surprises in the mail this week.  First, I got this really neat post-card from Littlest Sister.  Guess what, it is a bag full of Bergamot tea!  I haven't opened it yet, but I am looking forward to trying it and I just love the picture on the front.
 I also happened to get in some serious Swedish stash...  These are a bunch of (=7!) kits designed as annual Christmas wall-hangings and I have been trying to figure out who the manufacturer is for a long time.  The colors used are grey blues, dusty greens and subdued oranges and they are "clean", free from unnecessary detail, with a rustic, understated and elegant look.
I am truly fond of Swedish designs, but I must say that the Swedish craft guilds leave much to be desired when it comes to their web-sites.  We just don't stand a chance against the Danish embroidery companies approach to advertising their design portfolios.
Another not-so-great bullet on the list is that the kits never come with color photos of the stitched design.  Add to that the fact that the chart quality generally is less than fantastic.  The charts look like badly copied originals (which I am sure that they are), which is not real good for re-sale of used charts from kits.... 
Either way, I am looking forward to stitching these fellows one day!  I wish that I could show you a photo of the actual samplers, but the only pictures I have ever seen were actually posted on a Japanese on-line needlework store (!) and have since been taken down.  (That is how I found the source of the samplers to begin with!  Sad but true!  Thank goodness that the Japanese are fascinated enough with Scandinavian design that we can find some of it through them...)

Well, time to get to bed or Missy R will let me know that she does not appreciate my late bed-time habits...  ;-)
Before bed, I have to share a couple of pictures showing Pixie in his/her (not sure which yet..) true element.  Check out that water spray!!!

Thanks so much for stopping by and talk with you soon again!
Happy Stitching and Good Night,

PS Speaking of the 80's - I just had to add this video by The Pretenders.  Ah, the age of the girl rock bands!  Another era...  Special....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wohooo - Here She Is!

Here she is - Anne Maria Clarke-Richmond reproduced by Essamplaire:
To stay as close to the charted piece as possible while still adding my information, I used additional "invisible stitches".  I used the cream floss to sign my full name in the lower left corner and the finishing date in the lower right corner (this morning at 00.30...) - all over one.  If you don't know that it is there, you will probably not spot it find it unless you exacarefully, so I am pleased!  Here is a close-up of the date (I had to bend the linen so that the shadow of the stitches indicates where they are):
I really got pretty excited when I recalled that the Ann Rayner sampler (Threads Through Time) uses the same type of alphabet.  Ann stitched the entire alphabet in her sampler, so I could just pick the capitals from her chart.  (This is another beauty in line to get stitched.  Where can I buy more time!?)
As usual, the real drama started once I decided to iron the sampler...  Oh, I am not a fan!  Not at all!!!  First I freaked out because it looked like the iron burned the linen.  It didn't, the linen just has darker streaks in it.  Then I discovered a couple of unidentifiable smudges that I (knowing that it was a stupid idea as I did it) decided to attack with a Tide-to-Go pen (yep, I hear the stitching-community's collective gasp from all over the World...).  Needless to say, now I have two paler spots in the linen.  One of them will disappear in the case I decide to frame her, the other...  well, I am not real sure why, but I don't really care.  I guess that I am a real odd-ball of a stitcher.  As soon as the work is finished, I am just not that intrigued or careful any more. 

And that is good news, or I would have to set up a serious talk with the parrots (in the basement).  This is a Drawn Thread design (Real Roses) that I adapted to be more personalized.   I switched the lady holding the hands of two children to DH, our - at the time - 5 (only!) parrots, and myself), composed a new verse and added all of our initials, bird and man alike.  I also decided to experiment with fancy edgings and I did have a ton of fun stitching it. 
This is what I discover today:  first off, edges are folded - I know that DH has mentioned that he has seen some of the parrot baby hang form it.  Sigh...  Then this; someones beak or claw has pulled out my right eye and pulled a strand out of the pain-in-the-neck long-arm cross-stitch border.  I am sure that I'll find some more "added personalization" to this piece as I start to patch it back up.  I love the parrots, but sometimes I tell DH that we need second house for him and the birds!!!  You don't blame me, I'm sure...
Hmmm, maybe the bird babies are hinting that they are not pleased to see that their monograms are missing, poor neglected creatures!

On to happier things - I bought myself some happiness on Ebay last week.  I go a very cheap Queen of Freedom by Mirabilia (I am thinking about linen color...), a OOP totally fantastic bell-pull designed by Mads Stage for Clara Waever back in the days (1960-70 probably), and a kit published by the Swedish Home-craft Society (hard to translate..).
Since I have problems with discipline when it comes to stitching (and since I apparently don't have a problem lying to DH in regards to stitch related issues), I did start on the Swedish kit right after my ironing adventure.
The text translates "Craft Concerns Everyone".  Pretty cute, huh!?
Yeah, about lying to my DH.  He made me promise (we even shook on it) that I would get my very-close-to-getting'er-done Peacock Tapestry back out.  I know that I really should, but I also really rather not...  PT, inconveniently enough, is the only stitched piece that DH has ever been interested in.  I did guilt him into asking to see the finished Richmond sampler earlier today, but that request was more placed out of politeness and keeping peace than out of any real interest, I suspect.  Oh well, I'll marry a stitcher next time around - but he has to have a bigger stash that I do and preferable all the hard-to-find OOP charts!

Did you note that today's post was thrown out on the net earlier than usual, by the way?  That is thanks to one of mu "guild moms" (yes, Missy R, I am referring to you!!!).  She brought her laptop to the latest stitch-in to show everyone the blogs that some of us enjoy fiddling with.  Missy R specifically asked me "what are you doing posting at 2 in the morning!?".  She is right (I am hanging my head), so I will try to change my blog-in-the-middle-of-the-early-morning habits and be better about my beauty sleep.

Oh, and a final call out: Thanks a million times to Mr L-Bug for driving over to Mrs L-Bug's work to drop of her "really important to have a closer look at scissors fob".  I had asked her if she wouldn't mind bringing it with her to the stitch-in so that I could have a look at it and take some pictures.  Mrs L-Bug reenacted the conversation that the L-Bugs had over the phone while he was trying to figure out what in the world she was trying to get him to find, and it was rather funny.  I think that it ended something like this:  
Mr L "Are you talking about this pile of crap here on the table" 
Mrs L "Yes, that's it!"
Gotta' love the guys - don't they know treasure when they see it!?  And I also love her rather resigned response...
Anyway, Mrs L-Bug  pulls out the fob, informing me about the morning's adventures in regards to arranging the transaction, when I realize that I left my camera at home!  Ooops...  I totally forgot that L-Bug is also a real shutter bug, so she pulls a compact camera out of her purse, we take the pics and she e-mailed them to me later that weekend.  So, I'd like to send a big thank you to Mrs L-Bug too!!!  
Without further due, here it is.  Isn't this just adorable?  We have decided that it shouldn't be that hard to make our very own home-made ones, so that is shaping up for another "fun & quick craft" session to look forward to!

Well, time for bed.  I promised Missy R...    Plus  Blogger or Mozilla or something else equally mystical seems a tad crabby tonight, so I'd better stop before one of us ends up crying...

Take care, have a great mid-week, and don't forget to stitch!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Large HD

Hi all and thanks so much for all your wonderful comments!  I am especially delighted to hear what you had to say about the fabric choices in my last post.  Get this, not a single person had picked the same fabric!  I love it - that means that whatever I pick, it will be right!

I have to show off my latest finish real quick.  This is the Drawn Thread SAL that I have posted about a couple of times in the past.  Well, she is done; here is Drawn Thread's Sampler of Stitches:
Here is a picture of the entire sampler:
 ...and a close-up of the last part (finished yesterday night):
I loved to work on some of the parts while other parts were pretty painful. 
I did notice that I enjoyed stitching the larger areas rather than many, many very small areas.  The larger sections allow you to practice the new stitch and get a flow going.  
I also learned that I love to do pulled thread work!
I have absolutely not idea what I'd like to do with this sampler.  I am looking at it and it is pretty and all, but I am very much undecided.  Right now, I have a real hard time believing that I will ever frame it and hang it on my wall. 
I'll bring it with me to tomorrow's stitch-in and see what my peeps say...

I also got a really nice surprise in the mail earlier this week - my floss from Examplarery arrived, so I guess that the Canadian postal strike is over.    All the text is in and now I get to concentrate on the border, which I really do enjoy!  I think that Queen stitches are a lot of fun.  
It is not all song and dance though; I almost threw a fit yesterday when I realized that the border is not the last part that I have left after all!  I also need to fill in the rest of the grout in the house!  Blah - I am not looking forward to that.  Not  at all.  I know that this is the very last part, and that it should be "easy" since it is just filling in areas with cross-stitch, but it is that boring "invisible thread" type stitching, so I am real keen on skipping it all together.  I know that I won't, but I will at least dream about it for a while... [ Oh, and I should probably work on whining less too.  ;-)]

And this is the final stitch-update for tonight - the Rosenstand bird bell-pull in coming along nicely.  I think that I have completed 1 page out of 4 now, which is not too bad.  As I mentioned in the last post, it really is a long piece, but the stitching-intensity is pretty low, due to all the naked areas. 
This is yet another one of those kits where the colors on the cover-photo have very little resemblance to the real thing.  The real-life colors are much brighter and greener than the dull browns and olive greens in the picture.  Luckily, I still like the way it looks, so that is great.  The bird is clamping onto the bamboo (I think that is what it is) very close to the bottom on this design.  I am already looking forward to stitch on him!  But fist there is a large tuft of leaves to take care of at the top of the bamboo.

Lastly, I wanted to show you the somewhat funny in a low-key (and probably low-cost) way; the "fortune cookies" that we get from the Thai restaurant close to work.  We eat lunch there about every other week and I have now convinced my co-workers to ask for the statement cookies rather than fortune cookies with the bill.  Here is the interesting mix of random sentences we got last time:
All in all, pretty funny, I think!  My coworkers do this thing, that I am sure is in no way unique for that group, where they read the fortune to the rest of the lunch participants and always end the fortune with "in bed" to make it all so much more amusing.  
After glancing at the examples above, I don't think that "sprucing up" is necessary at all.  But, now again, DH keeps claiming that I have an odd sense of humor and that I am easily amused...  I hope that maybe one of you, dear blog readers, has the same type of humour.  Makes the world such a more amusing place to be, doesn't it!?

Well, time to get to bed.  We have a "morale boost even" at work tomorrow, which means that we will have to play games and eat sandwiches in the park from 10 AM to 2 PM.  I am looking forward to it, even though I have a feeling that we will be up in the 80:s temperature wise.  Take into account that I am the type of woman who "glistens" bucket-fulls and  you get the picture.  Not necessarily a pretty one....   :-b

Take care, stay out of the heat, and have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ditching Stitching

Hello and Happy Sunday Everybody!
I am posting a quickie about a non-stitch related project that was a lot of fun.  Thursday evening, I decided to get out the bracelet kits that I got form French General and give jewelry making a shot.  It was so much fun to do and so quick!  After just a few hours, I ended up with four beautiful bracelets.  It is so nice to work on a project that can be done in one day every now and then and I had so much fun that I had to go back to the FG web-site and look at the rest of the bracelet kits.  I was good though; I decided to pace myself.  They have a photo of a gorgeous turquoise bracelet, but the kit is sold out (which is probably good...).  Anyway, here they are; the three thinner ones came as one kit.  The thicker one with glass raspberries is definitely the favorite and I have already worn it out. 
The next jewelry adventure is this button bracelet kit that I have had lying around for 2-3 years now.  This project will probably take a little bit longer to get done.  The base is stringed beads and from that, bead fringes are added using needle and thread to weave the fringes into the base.  There is a lot of beads and buttons in this kit, so I think that I need to wait for a day when I am fully awake and alert to do this.  I can totally see myself accidentally flip over the bead bags and spread beads all over the house.
I am always a bot concerned about using beads.  No matter how careful I am, I always lose a couple and I can only guess that most of them end up in the carpet somewhere.  Seeing that the parrots like to take a frequent stroll across the living-room floor, plus they love to chew on just about anything they find and can get away with, so glass seed beads are best not sprinkled across the floor.  
You can't imagine how hard it is to make a parrot spit.  They are stubborn and those beaks are designed to hold on to whatever they found. If you manage to bend the tiny mouth open, you'll find that they love to "hide" things that they don't want to share under their beaks...  Good times!  ;-)

I did finish up the mini bell-pull with blue birds from Fremme on Wednesday.
I mentioned that I was thinking about making it into a pillow.  Here below are the current thoughts and comparisons.  I like the last fabric choice best, even though the first two choices would make more sense, since they are home decorator fabric.  The three latter fabrics are made by the Japanese fabric design company Echino.  If you are not familiar with Echino, check out their fabrics!  They are gorgeous - classy, trendy, colorful, simple, cool!  The best source to have a peek at Echino's collections is probably Etsy; here!  I was thinking that I'd try to finish the pillow this weekend, but that will likely not happen.  I have too much fun cleaning the house and doing laundry....  ;-)

I did also pull out an old WIP; a really long bird bellpull from Eva Rosenstand.  As you can see, not a whole lot of progress has been done on this one.  If I stick to it, I know that I can get it done within a couple of weeks, since it is a huge piece of linen, but with a relatively pretty sparse amount of stitches.  I stitched up the mate last year and I know where I would like to hang them, so I really should focus...
I have not forgotten the Richmond sampler - I promise!  The "pale" sunflower is now golden and I have almost completed one out of the four border sides.  Those queen-stitches take time, but it looks great!  All in all, only 3 sides of the border and the rest of the text (with the missing silk floss) left to do!
Well, time to get going.  DH and I are going out on an adventure.  I'll tell you more about that another day!
Take care and Happy Stitching,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Danish Delights

Hi everyone!  First I'd like to begin this post with thanking all of you for the wonderful comments about the stitch-room update.  Thanks so much!  I am still in a state of thrill and so I continue to walk into the stitch-room, just to take a deep breath and sweep my eyes across all the organized shelves.  After that, I am ready to go, whether it is to work, a dr's appointment or anything else less than exciting thing that just needs to be done.

I "cheated" this weekend and treated myself to some Fremme stitching.  The beautiful fall bouquet below is a design by Gerda Bengtsson, who was the head designer at Fremme for many years.  I think that I use the one remaining Fremme phone book and finish up the design that way.  Quick and easy!
Oh, and I have to say that I absolutely love stitching with Danish Flower thread.  Initially, it took some time to get used to working with but now I am in heaven!  I love the simplicity and the understated elegance - all achieved with just a handful of colors.

Then I pulled out this petite kit - it is intended to be mounted on top of a larger sized match-box.  I would guess that stitched or ornate match-box tops are not at all unusual in Scandinavia.  In the winters, when the days shrink to only a handful of hours a day, there are always candles and pretty match-boxes spread around the houses. 
This kit came with two small pieces of linen and multi-stranded silk-floss.  I guess that one off the pieces was intended for the match-box bottom, but I decided to stitch the design twice instead.  That is another thing I love; kits that are generous enough to stitch a design several times... ;-)

Here is a photo of all three pieces together, freshly ironed (in my newly organized stitch-room!).  Note that a couple of the colors are switched between the match-box pieces.  That is one interesting aspect of purchasing vintage Fremme or Clara Waever kits - they are rarely accompanied by a photo of the stitched up piece and the colors are often described rather than numbered.  So, what is the difference between "light yellow green" and "pale sun green".  Who knows?  Does it matter?  No, not really - just one more chance to make the stitched piece uniquely yours...  :-)  Plus, I can't really decide which of the two versions was stitched "correctly".  Can you?

Then, I pulled out one of the drawers in my stash cupboard and pulled out this tiny bell-pull kit.  This is also a design by Gerda Bengtsson and it is stitched with 4 colors only.  She designed quite a few items in this series; a cushion, a runner, six cocktail napkins, and a couple of wall pictures (the single tree and there is also a version with two trees growing into each other).  This is a very quick stitch; I only spent parts of two evenings with it and it is over half way completed.  I am having grand plans for this piece - I would like to finish it into a pillow, but we'll see what happens with those ambitions...
The berries (or flowers?) are charted as regular cross-stitches, but I changed them into smyrna crosses to give more of a surface difference.  It doesn't really show though.  I have the runner waiting in my "Danish drawer" too, but now I feel the urge to getting the tree picture too.  Must. Be. Strong. And. Resist.

I thought that I'd end this post with a rather fuzzy photo of the minute Richmond sampler progress:
Note that there are now TWO sunflowers present (even though one of them is a tad pale still...)  I have also finished all the written sections as far as I could go before I ran out of floss. 
You know what the worst part about running out of floss is?  I e-mailed Margriet of the Essamplarie on Thursday evening to ask for a refill of the dark brown needed for the rest of the letters and she e-mailed me right back, apologized and then informed me that the Canadian postal service went on strike the evening before!  A perfect example of Murphy's Law, isn't it? 
So, in other words, if any progress is to be done, there will be a lot of stitching on the queen-stitch border the next weeks. 
Margriet mentioned that she will be in the US on the 27th of this month and offered to mail the floss from the Sates, which is really sweet of her - but it is almost three weeks until the 27th!  Oh well, as I said, plenty of queen-stitches to fill out the time with...

Happy Stitching and have a great Tuesday,