Monday, 30 May 2011


I can show you a little more of the fairy i'm working on. I've been doing her butterfly wings.
I've made so many mistakes lately, it's frustrating. I feel like an idiot. Why can't I count and plot properly?
Oh well. I guess that's why we have unpickers.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Blogger Gremlins and WIP

The gremlins in Blogger are making it impossible for me to comment on my own blogs.

So here are a few replies that I wanted to make

Kitty Dragon; thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I'll try to get my hands on more books to review.

Everyone who commented on Making Wreaths; thankyou so much . it's nice to get positive feedback. I think for a while I'll stick to submititng to magazines. I'm a bit too impatient to wait for internet orders.

Yesterday I tie dyed the fabric for my next piece (which has already been bought by World of Cross Stitch on the strength of a simulation).

The photo doesn't really do it justice. There is much more yellow variation in the fabric ... I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The muchroom fairy perching on a mushroom will look fabulous on this background.

Last night I wasted 3 hours!!! I stitched some purple, realised it was wrong, unpciked it and then stitched it again, but I hadn't unpicked far enough and it was still wrong, so i had to unpcik again. Grrrr. Well at least it's all ready to go again this morning. So I'd better get back to it.

Thanks for reading

Friday, 27 May 2011

Donna Kooler Book Review

Still stuck in the library and browsing the craft section, I pulled out another great book I thought I’d review.  I’ve actually seen this book in my own library and didn’t give it only a cursory glance because of the title. A longer study of this book revealed some unexpected treasures.

Book Review
Cross-Stitch for the first time
Donna kooler
(Sterling Publishing 2004)
                The title of this book is a little deceptive. Yes there are some fantastic tutorials for the beginner which take you right from the start, but there is also a section called ‘Beyond the Basics’ which I found really interesting.
                Even the well practiced stitcher should enjoy the lovely little designs in sections one and two, designed specifically for those starting out in the craft. The fat, happy cat on page 33 reminds me of my own moggy and I’m tempted to stitch this pattern. It’s bright, colourful and happy like most of the patterns in this book.
                As the book progresses through the sections, the designs become more complicated and the techniques more advanced. I’ve never used waste canvas. The tutorial on page 60 made it look easy though. And I’d be more than happy to try it with the cheerful country angel pattern provided.
                Section three was where it all became extremely interesting to me. I’ve been thinking about trying hardanger for a few months now and not only is there a great tutorial, there is a gorgeous pattern provided to try some of these much more difficult techniques. While not technically cross stitch any more, the stitches presented in section three would enhance any work. I think now is the time for me to finally get up the courage to give it a go using the sampler pattern ‘Le Jardin’ ... the garden in French?
                The of course there is section 4; the gallery. If the rest of the book failed to inspire you, there’s bound to be something in the gallery that will impress.
                I’m thinking that rather than borrowing this book I’m going to seek out a copy to buy – that’s how much I like it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my second book review. See you next time
Jenni Mills

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Book Review

Book review
A cross Stitcher’s Oriental Odyssey
By Joan Elliott for design works crafts
(a David and Charles book 2001)

                Stuck in the library while my car was being serviced I took the opportunity to browse the craft books and was delighted to find a book by Joan Elliott. Those of you who have read this blog for a little while now know that I am a big fan of Joan and aspire to be like her.
                It’s been out a while so you might have seen this book, but it was new to me.
                I would have taken this book home in an instant, but unfortunately I’m out of my area and not actually a member of this library. 
                As usual Joan has created some stunning designs for this volume. The complexity of the patterns in the Kimono’s alone is astounding. Unfortunately that complexity comes at a price. Even by looking at the patterns I could tell they would drive me nuts to stitch. The intricate floral patterns that are so much a part of oriental decoration require small areas of stitching in lots of different colours, and alas ... masses of backstitching. I hate backstitching. But I could possibly be swayed by these divine patterns. There are one or two patterns in the book that are not as intricate and require less back stitching. However I suggest this book is not really for beginners or the faint hearted.
                I adore the little bonsai tree on page 42 (I’ll may try this chart) and the dragonfly border on page 94. Much as I think the oriental ladies are stunning with their doll like faces and serene backgrounds, I won’t be attempting them. I already have a UFO that I abandoned because of the amount of backstitch in it.
                Apart from the patterns the book includes some interesting information about oriental culture. I wasn’t aware that a Kimono is a symbol of a woman’s wealth.
                If you are enamoured with oriental designs and not afraid of colour changes, or backstitching, this is definitely the book for you.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Making Wreaths

I finished the fairy last night and took a photo this morning.

I think she is lovely.
She was designed from this artwork of mine of the same title

She took me about 18 hours to stitch, backstitch and bead and she is a blog special. That means I will not be sending her to a magazine for publication. The chart is only $3AU and only available through etsy

Happy Stitching

Monday, 23 May 2011

Nearly There

I'm 90% finished stitching my new design.
I've decided to keep this one for sale at etsy rather than publishing in the magazines (my etsy shop is so sadly empty at the moment). I should finish it tonight or tomorrow and have photos tomorrow afternoon. At least I hope so - I'm having a lesion removed from my neck at the doctors tomorrow morning.

No previews tonight, but can I tease you just a little by telling you it's a fairy? I think she's lovely ... I hope you do too ... tomorrow we shall see.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Laugh at yourself

Well if you can't laugh at yourself, it's a sad old world.
I'm laughing at myself today because I sat down to cross stitch and actually sighed like I was sinking into a warm bath after a week camping.

It has been a bit of a long week. I sacrificed stitching time to write a few articles and they took a little longer than I expected which basically meant I didn't get anything done on my designs at all last week. I did dew about two threads a night on the magnolias and they are nearly finished. but there is just something so satisfying to me about working on my own desings. I think it's a real sense of accomplishment I get knowing that I'm working on my dream.

So have a little chuckle to yourself about something funny you catch yourself doing. It's good for the soul.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Those last fiddly bits

I hate them!
You feel like you're almost done and then all these little sections need doing. I like to start with the big chunks of colour so you aren't changing thread too often. But that means at the end you are left with the fiddly little bits.

And that's what I'm doign now with the Magnolias.
I push through it of course. I've finished plenty of charts up til now.

It's almost done.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Stitchy Meditation

A few weeks ago I wrote about not being able to stitch after work.
Well that has changed.
I discovered that I can stitch quite happily after work in the evenings, if I'm not working on a design I created.

I've been stitching the Magnolias design in Cross Stitch Collection. It's actually stitchy meditation for me. It helps me relax after work.
Lesson learned:
Own design + teaching + stitch = bad
Magazine chart + teaching + stitch = good

Got it?
me too!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

What is a Sampler (Including Free Pattern)

According to Wikipediea a sampler is an example or test of a stitcher’s skill. And the word sampler itself derives from a Latin word ‘exemplum’ or example.
Samplers originally grew out of necessity. In the past there were  no printed patterns, so when a woman saw a new stitch or design she liked she would quickly stitch it onto a piece of fabric for later reference.  A collection of such designs might be kept and added to throughout a woman’s life.

 However, by the 18th century they were becoming a decorative item for the home and often included a saying, the alphabet, the date, and the stitcher’s name. They were often worked in cross stitch.

There are plenty of designers today who’s work reflects the traditional style of the sampler.
(The Wayward Garden Sampler, available from Nordic Needle)
However the modern sampler has almost turned full circle by including types of embroidery stitches in their design, and some sampler designs are simply a selection of small pictures.
(Cross Stitch Hearts Sampler from Jolly Red Collection)
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little exploration of the theme. I’ve designed a few samplers in my time. One of the is available as a free download at my Deviant Art site;
(Click the link below)
(Oh and if you're wondering why the above sampler has marks - it went through a house fire in 1998)
My editor says that samplers are a popular type of pattern and has asked me to design more. So I guess I’d better get off this computer and get cracking!

If you'd like to read more:
Sources for this mini article;

Victoria and Albert Museum

Monday, 16 May 2011

Is Needlework a dying art?

While at the Hawkesbury show I spoke to one of the stewards for some time about the entries. She commented that there were half the amount of craft exhibits as there used to be. The steward was a lovely senior lady who had been a part of the show for many years.

I mentioned I was a school teacher two days a week and we chatted about craft being taught in schools (or the lack of).

Today at work, one of my colleagues entered into the same conversation with me.

I know it's important for children to be able to read and write, and to do their sums. But the pressure these days to perform has pushed out nearly all other parts of a well rounded education.

I am fortunate that my daughter's teacher decided to do some stitching with her. But it's the first time in her 7 years of schooling that she's been exposed to this kind of craft. She's also lucky that both her grandmother and her mother are keen stitchers, so she's been surrounded by it for as long as she can remember. I've given her a few projects, from straight stitches, card lacing and counted cross stitch. She hasn't completed them all, but she has at least been exposed to the craft.

What about all those people out there who don't have family or friends to encourage them to have a go?

Is needlework dwindling into a dying art? Or will there be a resurgence of interest down the track? Perhaps, as in the nineties, cross stitching will become a fad again.

What do you think?
I'm interested in your opinion.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Hawkesbury District Agricultural Show

What a lovely morning.

I was up early to make sure I got to the show and grabbed a good car parking space. The weather was beautiful and it made driving the short half hour trip very pleasant.

I actually arrived a bit tto early and the exhibition wasn't due to open for another 10 mintues, but the doors were open and I asked the steward politely if I could get in before crowds to take some photos as I would liek to do an article for Embroidery and Cross Stitch Magazine. They were so accomodating and even offered to open some of the glass cases for me. I took over a hundred photos and my arm was geting quite tired holding the folder up to write down names by the end of it.

I won't go into too much detail here, as I will be writing an article to submit to at least three Express Publication magazines (Beads, Patchwork and Quilting and Embroidery and Cross Stitch).

But here are the winning cross stitch entries.

Class 74 (Cross Stitch) First Place, V. Brown

Class 74 (Cross Stitch) Second Place, Annette Leck (Below)

Class 307 (Cross Stitch on Even Weave - small article), Frist Prize Elise Stephenson

For more detail, and other categories, I guess you'll have to check out the article when (and if) it goes into the magazine. I'll let you know when

Saturday, 14 May 2011

unable to post

DH says he doesn't have the problems I do and he said maybe it was the way I was accessing blogger through my email. I should be going to the page through google. I'll try that and see how it goes.
But I did also get an error message from blogger saying the site was unavailable for a while. Maybe it was in the short wondow of opportuntiy I had to post yesterday.

In any case, It's Saturday here now and as I've done the necessary house work I'm free to pursue my favourite pass times.

I had a nice idea for country style Christmas item that I'll probably start today or tomorrow (they need to be to the magazine by June ... I know it's strange doing Christmas things at this time of year).

I had a rotten few days at work this week and I'm keen to work hard at my designs to try and pull myself forward into that career.

I've been enjoying stitching the magnolias in the evenings too. I've only had time to do a few threads. But it has been helping me feel 'whole'. I think it's the recreational nature of this stitch (rather than something I'm trying to sell) that makes me able to do just a bit at a time without stress.

I'm off to Hawkesbuty show tomorrow so I'll have photos and plenty to write about.
See you than

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

My Daughter's Rainbow

I'm so proud of my daughter who stitched me a rainbow for mother's day.
Like many of my forum friends at I agree it's wonderful that her teacher took the time to show them how to stitch and then gave them opportunities in class time to complete it.I had quite a few requests for a picture of her work. Bare in mind it's her first finished work and she's only 11.

Actually I was pleasantly surprised the stitching is quite neat. She had to design the backstitching herself and she said she shortened the rainbow.

She's had a go at designing something herself and even though she didn't finish stitching it, I know she enjoyed the process. So who knows, maybe she'll be following in my footsteps as a designer?

See you tomorrow


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Magazine Magic

How exciting.
I had the previlidge of visiting the offices of Express Publications to spend some time with Marilyn Horwood, the editor of Embroidery and Cross Stitch Magazine.

I arrived a little early and she was still proofing the pages for the next edition. She invited me to sit with her and watch the process. Not only did I get a sneak peek at what's coming up next, I saw how the rough proofs of the magazine were checked by Marilyn for content and consistency. She talked openly and freely while I watched her bring up the pages on her computer and I learned a little on the process of the layout and advertising.

Then we went upstairs to her office where Marilyn showed me more of the gorgeous work that's soon to grace the pages of E&C. Wow! There are some talented people in this world. To see all the stitched samples together was quite daunting. I had to remind myself that they come from many different people with a wide range of talents and experience. Luckily Marilyn also seemed appreciative of the work I'd brought to show her. She appeared to be particularly interested in my dyed background fabric.

As I was leaving, she showed me different departments and introduced me to editors of other magazines that I've often enjoyed such as 'HandMade', 'Beading' and 'Country Craft'. Not only were they all such lovcly people, they made it clear I'd be welcome to submit work (from the other crafts I enjoy) to their magazines.

And what a place to work!
There's patchwork quilts, samples of fabric, and examples of people's work everywhere. It certainly wouldn't be the ideal office for anyone who enjoys clear surfaces, but I'd be in my element.

I left feeling so inspired and ready to create. I look forward to a bright future contributing designs to the many wonderful magazines at Express Publications.

Couldn't Post Yesterday

Something is wrong with my account. Yesterday when I tried to tyep in my blog, I kept getting the uploading image (you know the one? It's a sort of flower in the middle of the screen going round and round).

My husband has sorted it out for now by putting me onto the old editor. I hope that's fixed the problem, but it might cause a few problems for me as he says it's not as good. I'll have to wait and see.

Anyway - this was just a quick post to let you know I'm still here ... just having a few computer problems. I'll write a better blog later. I'm about to leve to drive down to the magazine that's publishing my designs, so it will be an experience I will want to write about I'm sure.

See you soon.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Cross Stitch Day

OK, I want to rename Mother's day to 'Cross Stitch Day' because that's what I've done for the whole day and it's been fabulous!!!!!

I finished 'Recital' which I'll be submitting to a magazine on Monday.
It's designed from the watercolour artwork I painted a few years ago.

I didn't enjoy stitching the wings. But I love how it turned out. I tie dyed the fabric in the backgorund and it looks a lot like the picture above. I'll let you know if it makes it into a magazine one day. The next piece I dye I'm going to film the process and put the tutorial up on you tube. Of course I'll put the link here.

 And then I started a new cross stitch from the Cross Stitch Collection magazine. I hardly ever get to stitch other people's designs, so I'm treating myself. I chose one that's not too big ... I have to get back to my own stitches tomorrow, but I think I'll allow myself 'leisure' stitching some evenings. It's really nice to stitch something with no pressure.

I chose the magnolia designs by Angela Poole. I'm stitching the smaller design with just three blossoms. I had a few of the colours already, so I've made a pretty good start to it. I'm stitching it on a sparkly Zweigart aida for a bit of bling (I love my bling).

I'll upload it when I'm done.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Oh Joan

I bought the newest edition of Crosssticher magazine (here in Anustralia anyway) and it has the beautiful Iris fairy on the cover designed by Joan Elliot.

She is such a clever designer. Her way with colours and her treatment of composition make every piece a masterpiece.

Funnily enough, even though I am a huge fan of her work, I've never actually stitched one of Joan's deisngs because I don't have time to. So I have no idea if they are easy to stitch, which is one of the elements I try very hard to preserve in my own designs. They do seem to have a lot of backstitch, which in itself is not that hard, it's just time consuming. Usually by the time I get to the backstitching of a project, I've had enough of it and want to go on to the next thing. She also uses a lot of decorative elements like beads and metallic threads. I enjoy beading and I use it in my designs sometimes too.

Joan's designs are also often ladies, which are my favourite subject to stitch, and also to design. I have seen some teddies of hers, but I rarely choose to stitch teddies. And I've just caught a glimpse of a tiny picture of a dragon she designed. I think it was a dragon. The picture was very small.

Another feature of Joan's designs that I really like is the swirly, curly forms she often uses. They were particularly effective in the peacock. It's one of the few designs that wasn't a lady that I thought about stitching. LOL

I hope one day to be as successful as Joan. Yet even if my designs never become as popular as Joan's I'll keep trying to make them as beautiful as hers.

Friday, 6 May 2011

follower check

Just a really quickentry;
could you please comment if you are a follower and this message gets to you.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Free Pattern

Sorry about two posts in one day ... I really don't know why the last blog entry disappeared.

But here's a little free pattern for you.
I think it would look nice as a card.

Just ignore the tiny key on the right of the chart. I realised it would come out too small and made you a bigger one. And please ignore the extra colour I forgot to delete.

Well, I hope you get to try it. Please do let me know if you do, I'd love to see it.


Somethign very weird happened and my last post about finishing a cross stitch disapeared, so here it is again.

I finished this on Tuesday night. And I bought it while on holdiays overseas last year. I'm unsure if I want to make it into a box like this
Lynn's box tutorials are great!

But then part of me wants to make a memory quilt with all my stitches from that trip. But most of them were bookmarks.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Who Let Me Loose in Spotlight?

Oh dear!
I only went in to get a new dissolvable ink pen and some white cotton for the sewing machine.
This is what I came out with;

Well, the magnifier lamp was the most expensive and I think the kids can give that to me for mother's day.
Also in the haul were; two boxes (one pine and one papermache) for me to make into cross stitch projects for the magazines, white, pink, beige and cream cotton for the sewing machine,  a cotton organising box, the small stranded cotton organising box I'd been looking for, a piece of dowel for a Christmas project (nearly finished, it's due in to the magazine by June), a coin purse top, a crystal bag handle (both for cross stitch projects for the magazine),  two pink vinyl table cloths for when I dye fabric (I'll take my old green ones to school, I hate the two cotton drop sheets they have) ... and of course the water dissolvable pen in blue and white (for working on black aida!).

I guess that's my spending money down the gurgler for a while. But it was SO MUCH FUN!!!!!! I could have spent loads more of course. And I don't go down there that often. It's a twenty five minute drive from my house so I don't often bother ... anyway, I'll just keep telling myself that.

One thing they didn't have a lot of was items to put your cross stithing in. Do you know what I mean? Like the paperweights, or box lids, or keyrings, or those plastic mugs, or anything really. I'll have to source more of those on the internet I think. I do love a beautifully framed cross stitch, but I also like stitching something that I can use.

Not that I'll be able to spend money on anything for a while anyway :)

And thankyou so much to follower number five ... welcome.
I'll be having a competition for followers soon. The prize will be a small kit and a goody bag of stitching supplies.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Cute as a Button

First of all, hello to follower number four - welcome.

I just picked up a copy of 'Cross Stitcher' and the free gift was some self cover buttons. I can't wait to try them. They will look cute on needle cases, cards and even decorations for boxes. The little patterns should be nice and quick to stitch too.

When I've tried them with the patterns provided, I think I'll design some little charts myself.

Today I've been working hard finishing those projects that I've been putting off. I'm pretty good at finishing the stitching, and then I procrastinate making up the item.

I finished a padded book cover, which I think looks beautiful. It slips over the cover of small hard cover diaries. This afternoon I bought another hardcover diary to make up a second design, and now I know just what to use as a closing clasp - a cross stitch covered button!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Soluble Canvas

My daughter had an idea for an article that warrented stitching on something other than aida. I had some soluble canvas that I'd been meaning to try, so today I gave it a go.
She wanted a metallic look to the fabric and we chose a steel blue satin. The design was quite small, so I measured the appropriate amount of soluble canvas and cut it out as a small piece. I then tacked it to the Satin to hold it in place for stitching.

Anna had a go at stitching it herself, but as an inexperienced stitcher she found it hard to pull the needle through the satin and gave up after a few stitches. I took over and stitched the quick little design in about half an hour.
Never having used the soluble canvas I was interested to see how it disolved in the water. I ran it under cold water first and it didn't seem to do anything (there were no instructions on the packet), so I soaked it in a tray of water.
After a few mintues the canvas became soft and started to lift off. I rubbed it gently with my finger under the water to remove the remaining pieces (by now it was soft and slippery like wet tissue).

Then I pulled out the tacking and hung it out to dry.
Here's what it looked like (not totally dry yet, but it's cold outside).

I'm very happy with the result, though I'll be more careful with tacking on Satin next time as it left unsightly holes in the fabric. Luckily my daughter won't mind and she's looking forward to seeing it made up into the Naruto headband that she planned. I also recommend you are very gentle rubbing the canvas off as too much friction can fluff up your thread and the stitching doesn't look as neat.

I can't wait to use it again.

*** Yesterday I mentioned I was going to the quilt show. It was excellent, and certainly set my creative juices flowing. There were one or two pieces that used embroidery as well as quilting on the quilt top, though none used cross stitch. I was going to take some photos to show you anyway, but my camera ran out of batteries before I even took the first shot - I was so annoyed at myself for not checking them before I left home. So sorry about that!

See you again tomorrow