Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Counted Thread Band Round Robin progress at last!

It's been more than 2 years since an international group of 10 people signed up for a round robin project on a now closed Yahoo group. Eventually we were down to 7 people who stitched a counted thread technique on a band, no more than 2 inches wide, then sent it on to the next person on the list. The schedule of 6 months was soon abandoned with some of the group members suffering life's ups and downs including death of loved ones and marriage break ups, but the "stitching sisters" (as the new group was called) were always there to talk to and share the joy or heartbreak.

This week in Sydney has been hot and humid, way too hot to go outside or do too much strenuous activity. It seemed like the perfect time to sit quietly, put on the air con, and finish designing and stitching the 3 bands I've managed to stockpile here. They were certainly not forgotten, but prioritising my commitments had shifted them to the very bottom of the UFO piles. So Norma and Sarah can look forward to seeing their bands in the USA soon, and Margaret's is in the designing stage and will be started by the end of this week too.

Sarah's band with my work in green at the bottom
Sarah started her band at a very tumultuous time in her life. The journal cover she sent with her partly finished work was an oriental postcard and she asked us to stitch something that made us feel tranquil. I chose to stitch a traditional blackwork band taken from an old English book. It reminded me of clouds and seemed really peaceful, a little like the clouds on Wedgewood blue and white Willow pattern china? I used a lime green DMC pearl 8 from my stash so I hope she likes it.

Norma's band with my work in blue at the bottom
Norma sent a pumpkin coloured linen for us to stitch on, and I chose to echo the shape of the first row worked by Norma herself at the top. The design again was from an old English blackwork pattern and represents Pomegranates I believe. I used blue DMC Pearl 8 cotton thread for this blackwork band. I was nearly finished when I discovered I had made a counting mistake in the middle, so had to "reverse embroider" or "frog" 2 whole pomegranates. I hope Norma likes my work too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Amelie's first birthday

This blog also chronicles my family, so from time to time I like to brag a little about them.

Today is Amelie's first birthday, I just can't believe it's been that long since we sat outside the maternity unit waiting to hear the results of an emergency Caeserian on my oldest daughter. Amelie Jane arrived weighing 2.51 kg and measuring 45 cm, a tiny bundle of joy. She's grown up into a delightful little girl, who makes everyone smile when they see her beautiful happy face. She giggles at her cousin Riley and her good friend Gabriella, aged 4, makes her laugh out loud by jumping up and down. She snuggles into my shoulder when I'm putting her to sleep for a nap on the 2 days a week I babysit while her Mum goes to work. I'm really enjoying her company, it brings back very fond memories of her own mummy's babyhood. I introduced Amelie to the Wiggles on DVD, and she starts to "dance" whenever I switch on the DVD player, long before the DVD is even loaded. Her favourite songs are Dr Knickerbocker (she can make the thumbs up sign to count number 1) and Shimmie Shake. On her birthday she was seen "dancing" to some house music playing on the stereo at home, so she likes most musical styles really.

Her birthday party was held on Sunday 10th, about 30 family and friends went to her home for afternoon tea. Aunty Bel managed to make 40 cupcakes and a cake in between looking after my grandson Riley, a fabulous effort !

It was extremely hot and humid, over 34 degrees C outside and the ducted aircon struggled to cope with the crowd. Aunty Bel and my son Peter brought Riley's new wading pool to put up for the littlies. My hubby (Pop) brought a folding gazebo and we shaded the pool with it. You would have laughed at all the adults standing around the pool under the gazebo watching 4 kids splashing about!

Riley and Amelie in the wading pool

Only problem was, after all that exercise and no afternoon nap you can guess what happened next. The birthday girl fell asleep on my shoulder.

Mummy tried to wake her up but we decided to let her have a 30 minute nap. She still wouldn't wake up so we pressed on with the cake cutting and speeches while she slept on Mummy's lap. She woke up smiling when everyone sang Happy Birthday though, and eventually unwrapped her gifts. A great day even though it was a long one!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Recent textile ATC activity

I've just started my third year of making and swapping textile ATC, those wonderful little 2 1/2 inch x 3 1/2 inch artworks, with the Scquilters online group. I've filled 3 A4 albums with 9 pocket pages of swapped cards, over 300 of them now. We suggest themes and our "list mum" randomly selects one and puts it into a database online. We then sign up in groups of 6 people, making 6 and sending one to the other 5 people on the list. Sometimes its hard not to sign up for every single swap, other times I find I don't like themes or am just too busy to make cards. This year we're running a Birthday Swap so I'm looking forward to receiving 30 ATC with cards this month ! Our group is very talented and the variety of cards is amazing. We recently challenged ourselves to a Loosen Up swap, where mystery "prompts" were posted every few days and we made cards not knowing how they would turn out. I am dismal at handing over control in case you hadn't noticed, LOL. As it turned out, my daughter was ill at the time, so I saved the prompts. I've documented the process, hoping it would inspire me again. The following photos show the steps I took in response to the online prompts.

Make an 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch background square which I marked with card sizes

Add triangles or add red, I did both.

add a strong diagonal or pictures cut from a printed fabric, so I added a strong diagonal in a printed fabric.

Add something very light or use crayon or paint, I added some Angelina fibres and fused them

This resulted in the previous step being nearly covered over, not to worry, carry on. Next came "add cross stitch or ribbon, lace or braid" I added some cross stitches. Finally, "add curvy lines or use a repeating pattern" I made a repeating pattern using my programmable embroidery stitches on the sewing machine. Finally "cut up, back and edge as usual"

Voila! The finished card, as requested. I didn't really enjoy that as much as I should have, or perhaps the circumstances were just a bit overwhelming at the time. Might try another in the future, lots of other members are keen to try again too.

Friday, January 08, 2010

A busy few months

The last few months have been quite busy. In late October my husband was hospitalised with another heart attack which required 2 stents this time. He was still off work when I started looking after Miss Amelie, and we were just settling into her routine of 2 days a week when her mum was hospitalised, see previous post. Then came the holiday period with her mum and dad at home, my hubby had his holidays and my teacher daughter was around too. Consequently we haven't got fully back into our routine, and I'm hoping she'll slip back into it fairly quickly. I'm really enjoying our time together, she's growing up so quickly. Crawling properly now and pulling herself up to stand using the furniture. Her birthday is the 11th January, can't believe how quickly that 12 months has flown by.

The birthday-girl-to-be

Amelie's cousin Riley, my little grandson, is 16 months old now and running everywhere. The 2 cousins love to get together, she laughs all the time when he's around. I don't see Riley nearly often enough, since Mum and Dad both work full time and he goes to daycare we only get to visit on the weekends, or they come to us sometimes.
I'm really looking forward to the big 1st birthday afternoon tea bash for Amelie on Sunday, 4 generations of our family will be there.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas Pt 2

Of course, it's already after Christmas. However I need to catch up with my blogging, so please excuse the title for now.

Christmas around here can be quite frenetic, but this year I had a good excuse to slow down a bit. We had a bit of sad news just before Christmas, with my oldest daughter hospitalised with a miscarriage. Everything was put on hold to support the young family and help with Miss Amelie. Then some exciting news with her partner proposing marriage and giving her a huge diamond ring to seal the deal straight after Christmas. We'd been keeping the secret since mid November, we thought he'd never get around to it!!

Santa was good to everyone in our family, especially the littlies who were spoilt rotten of course by all the grandparents. Lucky husband and I received tickets to Darren Coggan's show Peacetrain at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall from our kids, pre-theatre dinner included. We chose to go to Aria, our first time there. We certainly weren't dissapointed, the meal and scenery were both wonderful, we felt like A-listers sitting in the restaurant at Circular Quay watching all the ferries whiz in and out, watching the world walk past under our feet. What to say about Peacetrain? Darren sounds just like a young Cat Stevens, and wove 24 of Cat's songs through a narrative about his life. The capacity audience really got involved in the show, most of whom were around our age and like hubby and I probably went to Cat's Sydney concert in the early 1970's !! Everyone in the line for the Ladies at interval was raving about the show, a very good sign, LOL. He certainly deserved the standing ovation, would recommend Peacetrain to everyone.

My santa figurine collection went up the week before Christmas and will come down in early January. I added a few and also received some for Christmas gifts from family, so can now count 64 old fashioned Santas in the display.

Santas on the entertainment unit

Small santas on the sideboard!

I'll certainly miss their company when I pack the Santas away, the room looks so cheerful when they are up. Will have to put back the family photos, and perhaps add a few new decoator touches. I'm considering starting an angels collection for this coming Christmas, as they are available all year round and should be easier to find!
PS santa photos of the grandkids are hiding on the sideboard too!