Yay! I thought I wouldn’t be able to post this today. When I went to use my laptop to write I only got a blank page. No idea on why, but I can’t edit or write. So I have moved to the app on my phone, and am letting my thumbs do the talking. (How modern, but quite frustrating.)
Last SAL I had nothing to show, so I was determined this time to have at least a couple of squares completed on the stitch wheel. I put the knitting down and picked up the needle. Here are the results:
Normally I would link to Cathy Reav’s YouTube channel to show how to make the stitches, but I am afraid easily adding links is beyond my thumbs at the moment! So I will just name the stitches and let you do the searching.
Woven pivots– these make wonderful flowers, and while they are fiddly, they are quite easy.
It’s been a busy, exhausting couple of weeks and I hope to fill you in some time soon. In the mean time jump over to look at the other stitchers who post updates on their personal stitching. There are glorious things to see. (And if anyone has suggestions on how to fix my inability to write posts I would love to hear from you.)
I have been a very poor correspondent over the last few months. If it wasn’t for the SAL deadlines, I wouldn’t have been posting at all. And a couple of those posts were rather skimpy. However, I have a good excuse…..
Early in December my neck and hips started to feel very stiff and sore, and then it got worse over the month. Not really painful, but doing simple things, like turning over in bed, bending over, sitting down, were really difficult. It was worse in the morning.
Eventually, after expecting it to go away, and throwing Christmas and New Year into the time mix, I had blood tests which showed high levels of inflammation. My GP was really supportive, and started me on medication that helped, almost overnight.
This week I saw a rheumatologist, who diagnosed polymyalgia rheumatica. It is an inflammatory condition which, fortunately, is treatable. It may take time but the medication should get the immune system and inflammation under control. So, good news!
The best way to describe it to you is to say that many, many, moons ago I went rock climbing with my brother. Oh boy, were my thigh muscles stiff over the next few days! I remember how difficult it was to climb the stairs at work, and at one stage had to go up backwards. My legs just didn’t want to work. Through December my muscles seemed to be saying, “Nup, we’re not moving.” They were stiff and sore. Trying to make them move was a little painful, but overall the pain level was quite low.
I mention this because I know there are many people, including some of you, who suffer high levels of pain over months and years. What I have experienced has not been at that level, but it has given me more insight into how difficult life can be for many. I applaud you for your courage and resilience.
Getting the diagnosis confirmed how important it is to have someone say “This is what you have, this is how we can deal with it”. Before the diagnosis there were a number of possibilities which I brooded on, playing out scenarios in my mind, having imaginary conversations, scrolling through websites and Youtube videos. None of that was helpful. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but I was impatient to know. My mind tried to come up with its own solutions, but all it was doing was being a hamster on a wheel. However, now I know which way I am facing I know which direction to go in.
It is a relief to get out of my own head!
There seem to be many chronic conditions that are difficult to pin down. And that’s assuming you have a supportive medical professionals who believe you. And access to specialists and the various tests needed. So again, I really feel for people who have had to fight to get the correct diagnosis, people who have not only had to deal with what their own bodies are throwing at them but battling to be heard by others.
I am grateful for so many reasons.
Now, to end on a different note. Even when I was chatting to you on a more regular basis, I hadn’t mentioned much about my art. I am going to leave you with a gallery of my collages, with the promise that soon I will tell you more about them. However, if you can’t wait for that post sometime in the future, you can sign up for my newsletter. This weekend I am going to write about how my collages are rather like jigsaw puzzles. [You can sign up here.]
Some people are such generous souls, and my friend Kate is one of these. She has created a quilt, a table runner and a cushion as prizes for a raffle. The money raised goes to Days for Girls, an organisation that gives menstrual health solutions to girls around the world so that they are able to attend school. The information to buy the tickets is on her blog. Head over there to find out how to win a beautiful quilt for a worthy cause.
It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.
And here it is, the third and final piece of the prize trio I’ve made from the Days for Girls scraps. You’ve seen the completed cushion cover (third prize), and more recently the completed Days Gone By hexie quilt (first prize), but I’ve finally got the table runner finished as well, the second prize. This piece uses up the very last flower, the absolutely last hexagon made for the fundraiser. Metres and yards of perfectly usable and useful fabric saved from landfill.
The backing for this table runner is made from offcuts of the backing I made for the quilt, itself made from leftovers in my…
The sampler is in the form of a wheel divided into sections. Each ring has a theme of stitch types, and each section in that ring showcases a different stitch. The middle of the circle and the next ring are all about different knots. While I am not up to filling those in yet, I have watched Cathy’s videos and am looking forward to getting going.
A couple of things have slowed down progress. Firstly I had to hunt to find a 10″ frame. The January sales saw a run on crafty things, including these hoops. Then I followed Cathy’s instructions to bind the sections of the hoop. I am not usually good with preparation like this, preferring to jump right in.
The second road bump was that I originally chose a backing material with a weave that was too open. I finished all the lines and decided I didn’t like it, and that I didn’t like the thread I had used. The photo shows that first material with the erasable lines marked in.
So, second go. I am much happier with the material and the thread. The stitch is a split back stitch. Once the lines are finished I will go over the rings with a whip stitch….so still a bit of stitching to go before I get to the French knots in the centre.
From the comments in my last SAL post it seems like some of you might be interested in taking up embroidery. If you are, then I would recommend Cathy’s sampler wheel. Her videos are very good, and she clearly demonstrates each stitch. She even gives left-handed stitching a go!
I am part of a group of stitchers who show their personal work in this three weekly stitch-a-long. There is an amazing array of wonderful work, so do have a look by following the links. I am sure there will be something there to inspire you.
My mind and energies have been elsewhere these last few weeks, so there hasn’t been any sewing. Instead I am taking an easy option.
Last time I showed you the embroideries I had been sewing as Christmas presents. From the comments you seemed to like like them. As many of you enjoy embroidering I thought you might like to know the stitches I used. The inspiration came from the work of Melissa Wastney.
The stitches are very simple and ones that you will know.
I started with the centre. It was made with large chain stitches, lying next to each other.
The petals are created in stem stitch. The uneven lengths give the flowers charm. I think the flowers work best in bold, jewel-like colours.
The leaves and stems are in feather stitch. To make the ‘leaves’ work, you have to start away from the flower and then work your way towards them. The threads were either in variegated green, two strands, or an olive green, one strand.
Lastly, the little French knots at the end of the leaves. While these are not botanically correct(!), I feel that they finish off the stem. Without them it sort of looks empty.
Maybe next time I will have some new stitching to show you. In the meantime do look at the work of the other stitchers. They all do such wonderful work, and such a variety of things.
I have been pretty quiet on WordPress for the past few weeks. There are medical issues that I am resolving. Nothing life threatening, but I need to get the issue sorted. So I thought I would just drop in and let you know I was still around 😉. And to let you know that I am reading your blogs, even if I don’t comment. [No need to comment here; I know that you would be wishing me well, because that’s the sort of person you are!]
I hope your holiday time was as pleasing as mine. It is Boxing Day today, and I am down at my sister’s beach house. We are sitting around, some are watching the Boxing Day Test at the MCG (a cricket match for those who don’t know ~ probably most of you!). I am getting organised, writing this Stitch-A-Long post to send off tomorrow.
The backing material of the embroidery was linen, and I didn’t think about how bulky it would be when drawn. However, I am sure Mum will find something special to put into it. In my stash I found some pretty green cotton to make the lining.
The other stitching was to make a set of cards for Judy, my sister. She is one of those wonderful people who always remembers birthdays and sends cards. She said that these were too lovely to send, but I am sure she will find some special people.
I made some extra cards for a couple of friends.
It is so nice to be able to give the gift of hand made.
This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks (even over Christmas!) to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.
I know that you smart, talented and generous readers will be able to give me directions to my problem, especially those of you who sew clothes.
A year or so ago I made my elderly Mum this top. We had a lovely day choosing the pattern and material, and I enjoyed sewing. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right pattern to choose, and was way too big on Mum. She has always been petite and become more so as she has aged.
She loves the fabric, enjoys the idea of wearing garments that are not Little Old Lady Clothes. I think most of all though, she loves it because it was something we did together.
So she has asked me to make it smaller, which is where I need your advice. I can see two options.
to take it in under the armholes and down the side. Would this create problems with the way the top hangs?
2. to take it in down the middle, back as well as front, of course. While this option is the most fiddly (I would have to rebind the neck and redo the hem) I feel that the top will sit better on her. Also, the neck is very wide, and this option will reduce that.
However, I would like to know what the more experienced among you think. Is there an option 3? Any thoughts?
However, for this stitch-along I want to show you something completely different.
The background…I have been loving being part of the Soul Craft Festival, which this year has been run online. So many interesting ideas, which have challenged my thinking. More in another post.
As well as thought-provoking videos there have been workshops to make things. Melissa Wastney showed us how to embroider these simple but very charming flowers. (You can find Melissa on Instagram @melissa.wastney. Sorry I can’t embed the link.) It immediately solved my Christmas present for my Mum. As an elderly woman she doesn’t need more stuff, but does love things we make for her ~ and treasures them, like the plaster hand cast my brother made in kindergarten! As well she loves bags. Add in that my friend had given me French linen tea towels that were waiting for the perfect project. This turned out to be that project, and the linen is wonderful to sew on.
I might even get the bag made up today.
I enjoyed the simple embroidery in making these flowers and I was inspired to make more. This time they are to be made into cards. I am going to make a set of six as a present to another special family member.
I may even iron the linen before I give them away! 😉
This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.
A gardening guru recently used floriferous to describe his garden. It fits my garden well too; it is surprisingly floriferous. Surprising because it is not particularly planned, relying on some very welcome volunteers.
Like the pale blue/darker blue starry flower in the foreground. I think it is a delphinium. Do you agree? Its small shoots appeared months ago. As the leaves didn’t look like a weed I was familiar with I let it grow. This is how it has repaid me. Smiles!
Behind are white and blue salvias. To the right, out of the picture is a mass of nasturtiums, rambling around. I certainly haven’t planted them for ages, but they happily return year upon year.
The corn flowers are have also sprung from seeds of last year’s flowers.
I am very tolerant of volunteer plants, happy to wait for them to grow, to see what they will turn out to be. I quite like some weeds. I even did a zoom talk recently about edible weeds!
I love the seed heads of salsify. That’s another plant that many see as a weed, although the root is apparently edible, but I am happy to have its company. How can I resist admiring them as the morning sun shines through the delicate seed balls?
The front garden is another area that is doing its own thing at the moment. One half it is a parsley patch. The plants are almost a metre high and in flower.
Look at the soft yellow flowers and the umbral shape of the flowers. But what I love most is how it attracts so many insects. The bees! There must be at least a dozen working away every time I go past. Hover flies hover. When you look closely you see spiders and ladybirds, which means there must be many other creatures that I don’t see.
I wonder what the passerbys think…..
Which brings me to the verandah. You may remember that I was pondering what to do with the verandah-shaped space at my front door. After workshopping it through with friends and family, I decided to pave the area. I found some pavers, ordered 15 of them, only to find out that it was going to cost $99.00 to deliver them! After I picked my jaw off the floor I said “Thank you, but can you cancel the order”. So now I am on Plan N, or there abouts, deciding to have a proper wooden verandah built. Not that the plans have gone any further. In the meantime I have put two plastic chairs out there on the sand and enjoy cups of tea in the sunshine.
There is progress planting the other part of the front yard.
It doesn’t look much, but I can see the potential! I have planted:
Poa labillarderi ~ a native grass that will clump to be about a metre wide. At the moment they look like grassy weeds!
Copper crest grevillia ~ very low growing, and hopefully will not only cover a large area but also bring in birds
Wahlenbergia stricta ~ these are the native bluebell, whisky little things, but quite pretty.
Pelargonium australe ~ this was a surprise as I didn’t know there was a native pelargonium. It has a little, pretty pink flower.
The taller, broad-leafed plant is a sunflower, the only plant that came up from the many seeds I sowed.
There are plans for more. I am looking for some murnong plants (a native yam) and bright yellow billy buttons.
I must tell you of my David Attenborough moment. I was sitting with my cup of tea on the ‘verandah’, reading and idly watching the insect world go about business, when I looked down. I noticed some flying insects digging in the sand. From later research I think I was watching three sand wasps at work. The digging fascinated me, as the wasp madly dug a little, then moved to another spot, madly dug a little more. All three were frantically digging. I figured that they were testing out the sand, searching for the perfect spot. Then one started to be really serious about her hole. The digging action was rapid so the hole got quite deep quite quickly. At times she would appear with larger grains in her mandible and toss the grain away from the hole. In the end I think the hole must have been about twice the length of her body, which was a couple of centimetres.
My cup of tea caught my attention for a few minutes. When I looked back at the hole I was amazed to see that she had brought a caterpillar from somewhere, which she dragged down the hole. She spent a little time down there, so I presume she was laying egg/s into the caterpillar. Up she came, and fastidiously covered it in, caterpillar and all.
I helped me remember all the interactions that are happening that we have no knowledge of. We need to slow down and look.
I know that many of you are heading into a cold and anxious Winter, so I will leave you with some flowers from other gardens. I hope they bring a smile. Stay well, my friends.