By the time you’re reading this, it will have been a couple of weeks since my boyfriend and I travelled from Canberra, Australia to the New South Wales south coast area of Malua Bay and surrounds. It had been roughly 2 months since we had been able to travel down there since the bush fires and the Kings Highway being open for an extended period of time. Our aim for travelling to the coast was to have a change of scenery for the weekend and to start supporting some of the local businesses.
To us and many Canberran’s who holiday there, it’s our second home and we had seen many news reports and images on the television, and heard about the devastation from a variety of people. But the reality was something different for us as we travelled along the Kings Highway and over the Clyde Mountain. Seeing Pooh Bear’s Corner and the areas that had been burnt and the areas that had been saved was quite difficult for both of us.
Up and down the Clyde Mountain we are accustomed to seeing this beautiful rainforest with a road that winds through it. To me at least, it’s a magical area of the drive and holds a lot of memories of going to the coast for holidays and escaping from every-day life for a little while. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, below are two images I’ve come across on a Google Image search. The image on the left was before the fire and to the right is after the fire.
Everyone who has been involved in fighting the fires has done a phenomenal job. They have saved homes where they could and not all of the drive looks like the image on the right.
The hardest part for my boyfriend and I was seeing the reality of what the landscape and people who were there, (and many who still are) went through during the Christmas holiday break.
Interestingly, as I’m writing this post and looking out my craft room window in Canberra, it’s grey, windy, cool and a little drizzly at times. A stark contrast to last week – even a couple of weeks ago! It also means that the rain we have received – in Canberra and surrounding areas – especially along the coast – the Currowan fire that had caused so much devastation along the south coast and had joined up with other fires is finally out!
It’s going to be years before anything feels like it’s going to be back to normal for the locals along the coast, let alone the tourists like my boyfriend and I. What I’m really looking forward to – now that we’ve all gotten a heap of rain – is seeing the regeneration of the forest. The fire as been a long time coming and I know we’re all glad it’s over for now.
Supporting local businesses
So while we were at the coast, I really wanted to go to Mogo to see the how the town fared after the fire and to support the local businesses. On the Saturday, my boyfriend and I had lunch at our favourite cafe in Mogo and I got to stuff myself silly on an iced chocolate and ham and cheese toasted sandwich. It was really good!
One of the things I was also relieved to see was that the Mogo Trading Post was still standing! I had been really worried that it had been one of the stores that had burnt down. Whenever I step into that store I feel relaxed and it smells really good. I love the smell of the incense, soaps and candles they have and seeing the different gifts they have, ranging from jewellery to crystals and semi-precious stones, home-wares and clothes. I was able to get some really nice presents from there!
The other place I was relieved to see at Mogo was the Rosemont Patchwork Shop. I absolutely love this store. The owners are so lovely, helpful and kind and they stock an awesome range of patchwork and embroidery materials and kits and gifts. What makes this place unique is the sewing machine museum that’s attached to the store. I love it! Every time I have visited the store, I have always found the majority of what I’ve needed and many other things I didn’t know I needed, but had to have! This time around, I knew I wanted to purchase a bucket load of DMC threads for some patterns I’ve purchased in recent weeks. Below are images of my haul…
Thankfully I had my boyfriend with me and that he is really tall and has long arms. He was able to reach some of the taller shelves for me to get the threads. By the end of it all, we walked away with about 120 threads! I still need to pick up some more threads, but I’m pretty happy with my haul because I was able to support the business.
How do you support your local crafty store?
To me, purchasing goods from a store is the best way to support a business. The next best thing is to spruik it. How do you support your local crafty store? Especially when times have been tough or you may not have been able to afford to shop there?
Before I jump into this week’s post, I just want to say Happy 1 Year Anniversary! It has been 1 year since I signed up to WordPress and started this blog. I had been so nervous about starting this blog and actively putting myself out there in the blogging world. So I just want to say thank you very much to my followers for sticking around and checking out my posts and hello to any new comers!
Fruits or flowers?
If you had to pick one type to stitch, would it be fruit or flowers? Why?
For me, it would end up being flowers…
Flowers and how gardening isn’t my thing
I admire people who find gardening relaxing and are regularly changing things around in their gardens. To me, flowers and plants can be nice to look at and smell, as long as I don’t have to do too much with them. The plants need to take care of themselves – within reason – because there’s other things I’d rather be doing!
That said, without people who have that strong desire and passion to garden, we may not have any or many green spaces to hang out in or have inspiration for many of the beautiful floral, garden and horticultural related cross stitch designs.
Meanwhile, when I was in my early to mid 20’s, I was interested in renting an apartment that realistically, I wasn’t going to be able to afford and keep my head above water at the same time. If I had been able to afford it, one of the plants I wanted to own was a lily that produced flowers like the pattern I stitched below. Though, I’m not sure how well it would have survived had my financial circumstances been different!
I stitched this flower from a magazine I had in my collection for many years and within the last few weeks, I’ve donated the magazine to the bush fire relief. So unfortunately I’m not sure who the artist and designers are or which magazine I got it from.
When I had first stitched this flower, I had thought that I would turn it into a card for someone. But as time progressed, I never got around to making it into a card and I’m still working on improving my card making skills! So instead, I turned it into a pin cushion lid on top of a container that holds my pins for sewing.
I used some styrofoam as the cushion part and Mod Podge glue to stick it all together. The container is from Big W, that originally held cotton tips – 400 hundred of them! It’s taken me years to get through them to get this result!
Meanwhile, what floral patterns have caught your eyes over the years? If you’re looking for inspiration, below are some designs I’ve come across on the Net that I think are beautiful!
At the moment I can’t get enough of the designs that are on the sa-pattern website. All of the designs on there are beautiful! One of the patterns that has really caught my eye is the Lilacs, designed by Averina Elena/Lena Averina and the artist is Irina Khimich as shown below. Underneath the Lilacs design are others that have really caught my eye and hopefully there will be enough time for me to be able to stitch them all!
Now I know that technically, I should have this image in the fruit section of this post because of the lemons. However, lemon blossoms smell really good!
Meanwhile, on NonStopStitch’s Etsy store, there’s a beautiful spring flower bouquet to stitch…
Cross stitch fruits
One of the things I’m finding really entertaining with writing this section is that I don’t like eating a lot of fruit. Mostly because I don’t like the flavour of many fruits. For some fruits like strawberries it’s about the seeds. For others like oranges and many citrus fruits, I really don’t like the smell of them, let alone the taste and bits of it getting stuck in my teeth.
That said, if any of you stitchers are like me, I can’t go past something that is colourful and looks fun to stitch and is well designed. Which is where many of the following designs have caught my eye…
Victoria House Needlecraft
There’s something about the way The Fruit Collection (artist/designer unknown) are designed that I find aesthetically pleasing. If only I ate more fruit!
Meanwhile, Everything CrossStitch has some beautiful fruit cross stitch patterns like the Strawberry Kitten pattern below by Heaven and Earth Designs (shown below). How cute is it!
What about a photo converted to cross stitch?
Have you every taken a photo (or seen one) of a flower or fruit or seen an image of one or the other (or both), that you’ve thought would make a good cross stitch picture? What about the images below?
Alternatively, do you have a pattern in your stash that you’ve been meaning to stitch for ages, that could fit within the scope of fruits and flowers in February?
Over the last couple of years of watching Flosstube, I’ve found many flosstuber’s talking about Stitch-May-nia and New Year, New Starts, 24 hour stitching marathons and similar playing on words for many months throughout the year. With these things in mind, I’m aiming for a few ‘F’ themed things for February for this blog and my cross stitch that may also help you and hopefully inspire you to do something similar with your stitching!
A few weeks ago, I talked about my aim of finishing some pages of the projects I’m working on because I know I’m not going to be able to fully finish any of them! I’m hoping that this is a reasonable task to achieve considering how much of each page I need to complete for each project. However…February for my family also means a bucket load of birthday celebrations! We have my Dad and sister in the space of 2 days. A week later is my boyfriend’s mum’s birthday and a week after that is mine! Somewhere in-between all of those celebrations are birthdays of friends and a colleague at work. Who would have thought that February could be such a social month for such a short month!
A challenge for you, a challenge for me…
What ‘F’ themed stitching, that’s PG (a rating that’s applied to movies, games, television shows in Australia) / above board, could you do? Is there a funny quote or picture you’ve been eyeing off for ages, but haven’t gotten around to stitching yet?
Funny February Suggestions
Considering everything that has been happening in the world over recent months – even years – we all could do with a really good laugh to try and relieve some stress and feel better for a little while. Also, Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and unfortunately the statistics are there to show it. So lets bring on the funnies and have a really good laugh!
Subversive cross stitch – need I say more? We can say so much with just one word or mash-up of words to project a feeling of the time. The links below will take you to some pages that will hopefully make you laugh and inspire some stitching:
What about your favourite comedy or a song that makes you smile or laugh out loud every time? For a long time, I’ve loved Garfield and reading the comic strips. For me, it’s the dry sense of humour of Garfield that I like the most.
I also like showing my boyfriend funny pictures of dogs and clips of them getting up to funny things like doing mad runs around the backyard or at a dog park – especially if other dogs get involved and they’re all running around madly! Which also means that I’d be showing him pictures like the ones below that can be purchased fro LoLaLotta’s Etsy store:
I’ve entered myself into the 5km event of the Canberra Times Marathon Festival and my aim is to get as close to the 30 minute mark as I can. This year the course has changed, and thankfully it’s easier because it’s a lot flatter and I’ve run a similar course when I use to work on the southern side of Lake Burley Griffin.
The challenge at the moment is getting myself outside running! I’ve found many excuses not to run – some of them legitimate, like it being too smokey or too hot. However, I should use that as an opportunity to get to the gym instead and run on the treadmill to keep myself on track. If any of you have tried running on the treadmill, you may understand why focusing on the ‘dread’mill isn’t always easy!
That said, in recent days, I’ve put together a spreadsheet of all the races I’ve participated in since 2013 and the times I’ve gotten for 5km, 10km and 14km. I’ve found it inspiring and motivating to see how I’ve progressed from running 5km in 38 minutes 29 seconds through to 31 minutes and 15 seconds. At my peak, I had been running 5km nearly every day of the week – Friday’s were my day off from going to the gym and running. My motivation during my peak had been to beat my previous times and to lose a lot of the weight I had gained when I started going out with my current boyfriend. I had relaxed too much in our relationship and I had gained 20kg. Thankfully I was able to lose that weight through a combination of running, group and one-on-one sessions at the gym and changing what I ate.
Well, I hope that this has given you some inspiration and you’re able to get some finishes happening for February!
Before I jump right into the topic for this post, I feel like I need to say a really big thank you to all of the recent traffic my blog site has seen in recent days. I’m not quite sure what’s caused the spike. I have talked a little bit about the fires we’ve been experiencing recently and I live in Australia. Nonetheless, thank you everyone for clicking on my posts and I hope you find something you like and you find out something new!
Recently I was watching a Floss-Tube clip that has inspired this blog post – what memories are embedded in your cross stitch projects? This can vary from remembering what music you were listening to while you were stitching a project or there may have been some life events happening that you used cross stitch to help take your mind off things.
New home, new project
For example, when I was stitching the project below, I distinctly remember being at my grandparents place when they were living up in Queensland. It was just during the year that my current home was being built and I knew that I wanted it to hang up in toilet room, just near the mirror.
When I was stitching this project, I didn’t have a hoop with me. I may have forgotten to take one with me. I can’t remember exactly why. I do remember stitching it in hand and it reminded me why I prefer to have my projects in a hoop because I really like the tension that a hoop provides. I was also super conscious of making sure I didn’t leave any of my excess threads around when I was stitching at my grandparents place, because I was a guest at their home and they like to keep their place very neat and clean. I hadn’t realised just how much of a challenge this was until I got home. I am naturally a messy person. My home looks lived in – much to my boyfriend’s annoyance and grief! I have piles of stuff everywhere and he and I are regularly moving my stuff out of the way so that he can sit down next to me on the couch or to another room if we have guests coming over.
Shade changes to threads
Meanwhile, whenever I look at the Fire and Ice project (shown below), I remember that I had some problems with procuring the right shade of DMC 902. I’d had the shade in my stash for ages and it took me a while to get into stitching the project. When I ran out of the colour, it never occurred to me that the number would be the same, but the actual dye-lot or shade may have changed as part of the dying process.
When I started stitching with the newly purchased DMC 902 there was a significantly obvious difference and I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the project if I couldn’t get the right shade. Thankfully, one of the cross stitch businesses at the Canberra leg of the Craft and Quilt Fair were lifesavers and they knew exactly what I was talking about, regarding the shade change for DMC’s 902 and they were able to sort me out the the shade I needed. My memory has faded and at the moment I can’t remember the name of the business who helped me out and I wish I did. Without them, I’m not sure how I would have been able to finish the project. Thank you!
The other thing I’m reminded of when I look at Fire and Ice is the other pattern I have that’s the relation to it – Golden Ice which is designed by Dyan Allaire. By memory, I picked up the pattern at a craft fair or up at Mittagong. The good thing is that the pattern is still available. A Google search took me to 123Stitch.com and it’s available on the Kustom Krafts Inc. site.
First a gift, now a quilt
When I started the following this next project, I had the intention of stitching it for a friend of mine who’s birthday is in January. It was a last minute decision and I had been on summer holidays at the coast and wanted to do a dog themed project. At the time I didn’t have anything in my stash, let alone with me at the coast. I was also looking for crafty/cross stitch related business around the south coast that I could travel to, should I need to pick up any supplies or need a new project. I ended up driving up to Nowra to pick up this kit and trying to stitch like mad to get as much done as possibly could before my friend’s birthday.
If by chance you’ve seen some of my other posts, this project may look familiar to you. I never got this project finished in time for my friend’s birthday in the year that I started it. As time progressed, I decided to include this in my first country quilt instead.
Vintage cars – not the response I was expecting!
A few years ago I stitched a picture of 4 vintage cars for my Pop’s birthday because he is a car enthusiast and it was something that I thought he would really like. When I was stitching the project, it took me a while to finish it because of the amount of black I needed to use for one of the cars. At that time, the colour black was a draining colour. I didn’t get a lot of joy out of it, but I kept reminding myself that I was stitching it for my Pop and I wanted to get it done for his birthday!
When I’d finished the project, I had to get creative with the way I framed it because I had trimmed the fabric too close to the picture to properly stretch it and lace it. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!
When I was ready to give this to my Pop, my uncle – Pop’s son – had passed away unexpectedly due to complications he experienced with pneumonia. My uncle had been a car enthusiast as well and my Pop’s memories of cars and his son were and still are strong and potentially still painful for him. This makes me sad because there’s nothing I can do to make it better for my Pop or Nan.
Thankfully my Pop was gracious in receiving the gift I made for him. He and Nan chose not to hang it up on the wall and they’ve since moved homes a couple of times and the picture is now with Mum and Dad. I’m thankful it’s still around. I would have been really disappointed if it had been discarded.
This one had been a cute one to stitch. My cousin was getting married up in Queensland and unfortunately I was unable to make it. I did want to give her something that would help her to remember the day.
When I’d finished the project, I remember using a regular craft glue stick to stick it to the inside of a photo album that she could use to put some of her wedding photos in. Mum at the time was questioning if the glue stick would work. I had my doubts, but lived with the hope that it would hold out long enough for it to have the right affect when she opened the gift. I also used the glue stick because I didn’t know any better at the time and I didn’t have enough time to get the right supplies, because Mum and Dad were flying out the next day!
I’ve not asked my cousin if the picture is still attached or not. I’m not sure if I really want to know either, as the marriage didn’t last. The good news though is my cousin found love again and (to the best of my knowledge) is happily married!
What stitching memories do you have?
What memories are attached to your projects? Were there special events happening in your life or around the world while you were working on a particular project? Had you started a project with the intention of it being framed but you changed your mind at the last minute? Alternatively, do you hear a song or phrase that reminds of when you were stitching something?
It’s been a while since I’ve done a stitchy update and I’ve made a tonne of progress since I’ve last posted an update. Some of the things that have significantly helped is in September 2019 I had some planned time off work and I ended up getting sick during those holidays. In hindsight, I believe that it was my body’s way of saying that I’d been under too much stress for so long that now I have the time to relax, my body was going to make sure I relaxed! It also meant that I was able to get a lot of stitching done and binge watch a huge amount of Gossip Girl, Netflix and Flosstube! Then in early to mid December 2019, I got sick for a few days because I’ve finally relaxed into my new job (it was around the three month mark of being in the new job that I got sick) and I got even more stitching done. With all of this stitching I was able to do – let alone years – I’ve given myself RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) – self diagnosed – in my right hand. Specifically the knuckle for my index finger that connects to my palm and some of the muscles around my wrist, palm and muscles for my middle finger.
The slight positive is that I purchased a number of months ago, some fingerless support gloves (see images below) that are intended for embroidery and similar work. I purchased the gloves from the Australian website Thread and Needle. If you’re in the market for some support gloves, I highly recommend them! I’ve started using them a lot more and they’re really helping at the moment. I will need to go and see a doctor or physiotherapist about it though, because I don’t want it to get worse.
As you may have seen, I have pretty small hands. I’m about 151cm to 155cm tall – depending on the time of day I’m measured. In my opinion, my hands – fingers especially – are chubby, so I find the medium size to be really good. Additionally, they are light weight and I’ve found that it doesn’t matter which hand I put the gloves on, because I can flip them around and as long as my thumbs go through the designated hole, I’m okay! The cuffs are super supportive and I’ve found that I can stitch for a lot longer with the gloves now that my right hand becomes fatigued quicker than my left hand.
The other thing I’m surprised by with these gloves is how quickly I’ve become use to stitching with them! I’ve stitched a little bit without them and my right hand has been fine, but I’ve felt a bit naked without the gloves.
Moon Lit Waters Project
The increasing annoyance with this is I’ve got my mojo back for stitching the Moon Lit Waters (Heaven and Earth Design) project. It requires a finer needle to stitch the project because I’m stitching it on 25 count fabric. The good thing is that I have it in a hoop that’s being held in a stand.
Based on the cover image, I have started on the edge of the moon and I have a bucket load more to do! What I’m excited about is what the future pages of the pattern look like. There’s a little bit of confetti, but mostly solid blocks and I’m feeling really positive about making more progress through the year.
Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms – my own design
Before I got my mojo back for Moon Lit Waters, I was going great guns on the Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms. This is my own design that I’ve converted into a cross stitch pattern from a photo I took.
The last time I wrote about this project was back on 24th June 2019 and below was the progress I had made…
Since then, I’ve finished the first page and I’ve moved to the left and I’m about half way through the second page. Looking at it from a distance and especially looking at it through the lens of a camera, I’m really happy with how it’s coming out. Sometimes when I’m working on it, I start doubting myself and the decisions I’ve made with the picture and pattern. I’m mostly doubting myself about the size of the photo when I imported it to the PC Stitch 11 and the measurements I’ve entered into the system to enable it to develop the pattern. I’ve looked at other pictures that people are working on that are photos that’ve been converted to cross stitch and the cross stitch project looks awesome!
Four Seasons Kittens
I’ve made a little bit more progress with the winter kittens. They’re my go-to if I need a break from the HAED or my own design. The last time I’d written about these kittens was back on 25th October, 2019 and below was the progress I had made then. By memory I may have talked about some of the fudging I needed to do. If I didn’t mention it, I had to get a bit creative with the top left corner of the winter kittens.
Plans for 2020
Becoming a uni student…again
The first half of this year at least is going to be super busy for me and I don’t think I’ll be getting much stitching done. I’m going back to uni – this time I’m enrolled at the University of Canberra (Uni of Canberra) to do a Graduate Certificate in Creative and Cultural Futures, commencing 10th February. The difference for me this time is that I’ll be attending lectures and tutorials instead of doing the majority of it online. Two years ago I graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Information Studies with a specialisation in Records and Archives. It took me 6 years of part-time study and working full-time to complete it and it was well worth the experience. I valued the flexibility studying online gave me. What I hadn’t realised, was how much I missed being in the class room until I decided to enrol in a course at the Uni of Canberra. I’m hoping that the Certificate will provide me with an introduction to working with cultural organisations and what it is to deal with cultural heritage information and artefacts. Something I hope will compliment my degree and who knows what it may lead to!
The other thing that will be busy will be work. I’m contracted until mid to late September and by October-ish my workplace is due to move from its current office to a new location, roughly 1km away. My aim is to try and improve my self promotion at work and let people know that I am there to help them and what I can help them with. My fear factor is people leaving it too late to be organised for the move or them making some avoidable decisions if they had consulted me. One of my biggest difficulties is self-promotion. I know I have the skills. I’m just super scared of putting myself out there, for fear of failure and criticism.
Fitness and running
My goal for this year is to run 5km in 30 minutes. A few years ago I got really close to that time and I want to beat it. But in order to do so, I need to stop using the poor air quality conditions as an excuse and use the treadmill at the gym until things get better. For the last two to three months (at least), Canberra has been inundated with smoke and dust due to the bush fires to the East of us and the drought that has been surrounding us.
This morning (Sunday, 12 January 2020) was the first time in what feels like a very long time, I went for an interval run outside. Probably not one of the smartest things I’ve done considering the air quality this morning was rated as being unhealthy. My run covered just over 5km in the space of 44 minutes give or take. By the end of it my eyes felt raw and I had a bit of a headache from the smoke. When I did run though, it felt good. So when the smoke and dust clears, I am really looking forward to more running outside.
To keep myself motivated, I have entered into the 5.3km leg of the Canberra Times Marathon Festival, to be held in early April. This year the course has changed and the event is sponsored by a different company. I’m really looking forward to the different course. It’s quite similar to the course I’ve run many times when I worked in the suburb of Parkes and would run around Lake Burley Griffin during my lunch break or parts of it after work. It’s a beautiful spot and I’m really hoping that I don’t get injured between now and then!
When the air is clearer and the roads are safer, I can’t wait to get to the South Coast – specifically Malua Bay and the surrounding region. It’s my second home (like many Canberran’s) and when I first get down there, I may spend half my time in tears and being a ball of emotion because I’ll be able to properly see what the residents and tourists went through. I want to help the businesses there as much as I can by purchasing their goods and services whenever possible. I want to help the area get back on its feet and see the beautiful bushland regenerate.
Stitching wise, I’ll still be plugging along on the same projects. My aim is to get as much stitching done before I start uni because I don’t know how much time I’ll be able to make for it when assignments and exams are due. I will be really happy if I could get the Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms fully finished this year so that I can enter it into the Canberra Royal Show for 2021. I’ll also be really happy if I could get about a quarter of the way through Moon Lit Waters by the end of the year. Any other finishes that happen this year will be gravy!
I want to use February as my motivation for finishes. Considering the complexity of the Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms and Moon Lit Waters, my aim is to get a page finish for both projects and hopefully a start on a new page.
March madness may see me having a break from the main projects and stitching a small, like a card or something along those lines. Though the madness may also be preparing for the fun run I’ve got early April and uni assignments/exams and a public holiday in there somewhere!
April however, may bring some holidays for Easter and ANZAC Day and hopefully a trip to Malua Bay and some crafty purchases.
I am curious about Stitch’May’nia this year and what that might bring for me. Life may get in the way too much, but if last year on Flosstube is anything to go by, I think it could be fun to be part of!
By June/July if all goes well, I should be finished with uni and then I’ll be able to be stitching mad again and life will be good!
In February 2019, I lightly touched on cross stitch as therapy and the potential it has for having a positive impact on mental health. I’m reflecting on this post as some natural disasters that have happened in Australia over the last few months, let alone the last few years.
As 2019 came to a close and we commence the year 2020, some of the south coast towns and villages in New South Wales have been catastrophically impacted by bush fires and drought. Many people have lost their homes and businesses because of the bush fires. Thousands have fled to beaches and evacuation centres because the main roads have been cut off by the fires.
At the moment it’s too early to say how much damage has been done by the fires. I am like hundreds of Canberrans who flock to the south coast town of Batemans Bay and surrounding region for holidays and weekends away. The devastation that has happened down there is felt by all of us because we have either experienced it for ourselves or our empathy has been kicked into overdrive because the south coast is like our second home. Batemans Bay and nearby villages that have been hit by the fires – to the point where as of last night (31 December 2019), electricity and telecommunications are down and may be down and out for a week or more. At the time of writing this post, many areas are isolated because of the fires themselves or the safety risk of trees and branches falling and perished wildlife. Images that have been shared on social media and the news show walls of flames and smoke. Some people have had enough warning to grab some supplies and things they need. Others have just had moments to grab and go. Even if power and telecommunications hadn’t been cut by the fires, telecommunications at the coast isn’t always great because of the terrain and quality of services some of the providers are able to supply.
One of the devastating things about these fires is that no one knows how long it will take before these fires are put out and people can try to start re-building. I’ve heard whispers that significant rainfall may not come until autumn – sometime in March, April or May. Additionally, it’s been so dry in so many areas of Australia for so long that there’s a huge amount of fuel in the national parks that buffer / line the south east coast of Australia. Which means that these fires could continue to burn for several weeks more. With the flow on effect of continued drops in tourism – which the majority of these coastal towns and villages rely upon to survive. There are also hindrances to air quality and a significant depletion to wildlife numbers to name a few.
As of Sunday 5th January 2020, Canberra will have had it’s worst air quality day on record. This morning we woke up to a light orange glow and smoke covered skies. Canberra has fires burning to the East, South and West and some to the North East. Regardless of which direction the wind blows, we are going to be impacted by the smoke. Many areas of Canberra have become evacuation centres for people who have fled the fires at the south coast and surrounding region or are travelling back home from these fire affected areas.
How can cross stitch therapy help?
On some of the social media feeds and internet pages, I’ve seen people encouraging others to donate their parts of their cross stitch stashes to areas who can accept them and pass them on when they can.
For example, the X Stitchers Helping Hands Aus & NZ is a private Facebook group, but is easy enough to join as long as you are able to answer simple questions required of the group. My understanding is that any Canberra based and surrounding region based stitchers and crafters out there who are wanting to destash, they can drop their donations off to the Crafty Frog in Kambah. I am hopeful that there are similar locations around Australia and New Zealand who are able to have similar drop-off locations!
Tourism – how far would you go for your stash?
The Internet has made life easier for many of us to make a few clicks and we’ve just spent (in my case at least), $50 to $100 on patterns and materials. When I can, I try to buy within Australia. Websites such as OzStitch, the Threaded Needle and The Fox Collection.
For a retail kick, I’ve travelled a few hours north of Canberra, to Mittagong or a couple of hours south to Mogo (a village that has just been wiped out by the bush fires). I want to travel further a field to see and experience other locations. My boyfriend and I have talked lightly about doing some more road trips – especially along the south coast of New South Wales and making our way to Melbourne and eventually along the Great Ocean Road. We’ve also talked about heading over to Tasmania and driving ourselves around there. Additionally, I’ve never been to Perth or Darwin and we’ve only just scratched the surface of visiting Queensland.
A distraction from reality, when there’s nothing else to be done
I don’t know about you, but I need to keep my hands busy if I’m ‘chilling out’ in front of the television. It makes me feel like I’m still being productive, even though I’m sitting on my bum for potentially hours on end. For anyone who is a stitcher or crafter, you will know what I mean! That said, I can’t begin to imagine what people are experiencing at the evacuation centres. If I was at an evacuation centre, at some point in time, I’d be needing to distract myself from what’s happening because there’s nothing I would otherwise be able to do. Talking about the circumstances and events would help a little bit, knowing that others have experienced something similar. It may however, get to the point where it would only serve as a reminder of what has been lost and serve as a reminder to myself to be thankful that I escaped with my life.
Priorities of what to pack should evacuation be required
My boyfriend is very practical. I’m at the other end of the scale because he’s so practical. This came to light when we were talking recently about what to pack and have ready should we need to grab and go. We have an emergency tub of basic essentials that is 90% complete. I have some clothes packed and things that can’t be replaced. Then I started thinking about my craft room and how much of it I could practically pack and how much of it I could leave behind. Photos and camera gear to me is an obvious choice to take with me. What I’m trying to figure out is the practicality of how to pack my patterns, kits, books, stash, WIP’s, FO’s, FFO’s and gear in case of an emergency that may not happen now, but sometime into the future? My entire collection is spread across 6 rooms out of 10. I’m well aware that there area special tubs and suitcase style items I could use. The problem I have is where to put the tubs and stuff when I’m not using it? As much as it annoys my boyfriend at times, I’m pretty happy with the setup I have. I like knowing that I can move my projects around from room to room, depending on what’s happening. I have a filing cabinet I use for most of my kits, fabric and patterns. I also like having a craft room that I can use as a partial study. The part that could be streamlined is where I do my stitching. I watch a lot of television – specifically YouTube, Netflix and and Amazon Prime. It’s my way of burying my head in the sand for a period of time and escaping from the real world for a little while. But I digress…
Using something along the lines of a spreadsheet or My Cross Stitch Tracker (or something similar) may help to organise my stash and have a clear idea of what I have should anything be lost, let alone what I might want to take with me should the time come. My challenge with this is remembering to keep (whichever method I choose) it updated.
Please be safe everyone and hopefully we’ll have some more happy stitching next time!
This is the last post of the series and looking at the date (in Australia, it’s Sunday 29th December, 2019), the last post for this year!
We’ve come a fair way in this series. We’ve considered who our student is and what their learning styles and abilities are, and some of the tools of the trade that may help them with starting out in cross stitch and hopefully enjoying it! We’ve had a quick look at some of the different patterns that are out there, with the strong recommendation of starting your learner out on a kit before embarking on chart and kitting things up themselves. Let alone embarking on a project that has a fabric count size 20 or over!
With these things in mind, we now need to have a chat with our learner about how they want to finish their project and the potential for back-stitch, beads, French Knots and what should be done with it when we’re done.
Back-stitch – is it overrated or a necessary evil?
Over the years I have definitely complained about doing back-stitch on many of my projects. Sometimes it’s because there’s so much of it and it’s felt like I’ve been working on the project for a really long time. Other times it’s because I’m just really keen to get moving onto a different project and I’m procrastinating the inevitable. That said, I know that really, back-stitch isn’t really all that hard. Tedious at times yes, but not hard. It also makes the world of different to a project and makes things stand out in a way that other stitching wouldn’t be able to do – that I’m aware of. If anyone does know of another stitch similar to back-stitch that can be used in cross stitch, I challenge you to show me!
Reading the pattern however, for doing back-stitch on a project – that may be another reason why I grumble about it. Because the pattern will remind me where I’ve fudged things on the project and when I go to try and follow where the back-stitch needs to be, I get annoyed at myself all over again. To help you understand why this is, the two clips below by Peacock and Fig, explain how back-stitch works in cross stitch projects:
For some of the projects I’ve worked on that have had long runs or long lines of back-stitch, I’ve carried my thread from point A to point B without any stops in-between. This could cover a number of centimetres and I’ve then gone back and put some small anchors along the line to secure the thread. I’ve found this to have a bit more of a cleaner view rather than stitching the individual stitches and it saves a bit of time. You may need to help your student with starting and finishing the back-stitch to ensure the stitches stay put.
French Knots or Beads
This is something you and your student will need to have a chat about, regarding whether or not your student wants to give them a go. Personally, it’s taken me a very long time to get the hang of doing French Knots and I have used beads instead of the knots. An example of how this can look is shown below:
The additional tip I can provide you and your learner with if either of you choose to use beads, is the smaller the bead, the fiddlier they are going to be to use in the project and you’re going to need to use a thinner needle than what was used to stitch the project. The image below shows the needle I use for beading. Unfortunately I’ve lost the packaging that the needles came in, so I’m unable to let you know the details of the brand and needle size. What I do like about these needles is that they are a little longer and thinner than the regular embroidery needle and I’m able to get a little Mill Hill Seed Bead on the end of the needle. Which helps a lot when I’m trying to pick a bead out from the packaging and adding it to the project, like the ‘Angel Bear with Candle’. I like to grow my fingernails a bit and I find it difficult to pick out just one of the little beads out of the packaging because of my nails!
Additionally, I use one strand of cotton that’s the same colour (or as close as possible) as the bead I’m attaching to the project. My logic for doing this is to make it as seamless as possible and the centre of the bead is sometimes so small that it can only handle one or two strands at the most.
Washing your final project
Have you ever taken a project out of a stand, hoop or frame and found that your hands weren’t as clean as you thought they were – even though you thought you were diligent about washing them before working on the project? Don’t worry. Accidents happen. Even with the best of intentions!
Washing a project after it’s been finished is a personal preference for many people. If I’ve been working on light coloured fabric, I prefer to wash my projects to be absolutely sure I’ve not left any grubby marks on it. My logic behind this is I want the project to last for as long as possible. By removing any contaminates from the fabric, it puts my mind at ease knowing that I’ve done what I could to remove anything that could increase the deterioration of the fabric or threads.
It’s important to note that whenever I’ve washed my projects, I’ve hand washed them in the basin with some warm water and hand soap. Nothing fancy. I’ve rinsed the project in cool to warm water and gently wrung the project out and laid it out flat on an old, clean tea towel. I’ve usually left it overnight and then used an iron to smooth it all out. I’ll usually iron the back side of the project to ensure the iron doesn’t catch on any of the back-stitch or cause any problems with the French Knots or beads.
However, this is a personal preference and you will need to have a chat with your student about what they want to do about washing their finished project. Aside from potential marks from dirty hands or accidental spillages, another deciding factor will be what your student wants to do with the finished project. Do they want to frame it? Make a card? Turn it into a pin cushion? No decisions have to be made straight away. There are a lot of options out there regarding the way a cross stitch project can be fully finished. In the related posts section at the end of this post, is a link to an earlier post I wrote on what finishing options there are, if you or your student choose not to frame.
End of a series, but not goodbye…
It’s been fun and interesting writing this series. I hadn’t anticipated parts of it being so difficult to write – mostly the parts about doing the actual stitching! I’ve likened it to teaching someone to drive. Whilst the two activities are very different, it’s the fact that both activities are so hands on, that at times it can be easier to just jump straight in and make adjustments as you go!
Thank you for bearing with me throughout this series. I hope that you have picked up on some different things that help you and your student. I’ve certainly learnt a bit about different learning styles and going through my stash has reminded me how much I have and how much I want to stitch!