Posted in Stitch Maynia, Tips and Tricks, WIP's and Plans

Stitch Maynia Progress and What I’ve Learnt So Far

Hi Everyone

As I’m writing this post, it’s Sunday 17th May 2020 in Australia and we have about two more weeks until then end of May and a long weekend!

My experience with Stitch Maynia so far has been a whirlwind and I’m now appreciating why so many participants have been talking about making plans and rotations etc. When I’ve watched some of the flosstube clips on Stitch Maynia, I’ve admired people who have known which projects they’re going to work on which days and sticking to those plans. I’ve found that I can plan something within an inch of its life, but executing those plans is something best left to someone else. Alternatively, if someone else has planned something, for the most part I’m able to follow through on those plans. I’ve found that it’s a lot to do with the amount of energy I’m able to apply to either the plans or executing the plans – rarely both!

Progress so far…

With that in mind, a few weeks ago, I had written a post about Stitch Maynia and whether it was better to big, small or medium projects throughout May or to do a combination of all three. I’d also mentioned that I was going to to a mixture of existing WIP’s (works in progress) and new starts. I have been able to stick to that. I have changed a little in terms of what the new starts would be based on what I’m feeling on the day and my available supplies.

For my physical patterns, I’ve found it easier to use a coloured pencil to track which days I’ve stitched on a pattern and how much I’ve stitched. Below is an example of what I’ve done with some of my patterns:

How I use coloured pencils to track how much I’ve stitched on which days

What I haven’t done is properly track (at a quick glance) which patterns I’ve spent what time on and which ones need more attention or starting. I’m thinking that it may be easier to have a printed calendar style page stuck to the wall or a convenient place for me to use the coloured pencils to visually see what’s going on. Below is an example of what I think could work:

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
12
Gingerbred Train
(Started – yellow)
3
Autumn Castle
4
Barnyard Kittens (coloured pencil) and
Autumn Castle (coloured pencil)
56
Gundaroo Mini Mushroom (yellow)
7
Gingerbred Train
(Cherry Red)
89
10
Gundaroo Mini Mushroom (Cherry Red)
1112
Barnyard Kittens (yellow)
131415
Fight Like a Girl
(Pattern Keeper)
16
Moon Lit Waters
(Pattern Keeper)
17
Gingerbred Train
(Rose Red)
181920212223
24252627282930
31
Example of calendar style as a visual tracker of what I’ve stitched

Meanwhile, I’ve seen that some people like to use something digital like a spreadsheet or pattern keeper. I’ve also seen some people use a project picker wheel spinner app to help them pick what project to stitch next.

I am using pattern keeper for some of my projects, where the patterns work for that app. What I’m trying to figure out is if the app can tell me when I’ve last worked on a pattern. If you know if the app has that feature and how I can get it to work, I would love to hear about it!

I’m thinking that the project picker wheel spinner app could be useful if I’m undecided about which project to stitch on next – especially when Stitch Maynia comes around next year!

What I’ve learnt…

Having enough tools of the trade

The importance of having enough hoops, needles and needle minders!

Swapping things around for the projects that I’ve not kept a needle, hoop and needle minder with has been challenging. So much so that within the second week of Stitch Maynia, I’ve lost the backs of two needle minders! Thankfully I’ve got some spare magnets that I had purchased a while ago to try and make my own needle minders and it’s made the world of difference.

Preferential Treatment

I’ve also found that I’m starting to preference some of my newer projects for some of my older ones. Mostly because they’re new and exciting and I haven’t lost my interest in them yet. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. The bad thing is that the older projects are getting set aside for longer and one of my goals for the Gundaroo Mini Mushroom project is to have it finished, framed and ready for the next Canberra Royal Show. At this rate, I probably wont have it ready for the required cut off date to submit the project. Also, who knows what the shows will be like next year with social distancing, restrictions on public gatherings etc?

Working from home

Being at home for longer has been a good thing and a bad thing. I’m saving money by not travelling as much and the temptation to stitch more than working has been stronger than ever. As a compromise, I’ve stitched a bit before work – if the weather isn’t great for a long walk – and getting some stitches in at lunch time. This has helped me with sticking as closely as I can to the goal of 200 stitches per day to my project of the day, resulting in 200 stitches for each project throughout the week before I change the colour of the pencil. If I’m able to add 200 stitches to the project of the day and I’ve still got some hours before bedtime, I’ll make a start on another project that needs some attention.

Being too ambitious

Had I not been working, being able to work on 20 different projects for the month of May would be reasonable and achievable. I’m now appreciating why many people this year are choosing to do MonogoMaynia or doing a similar variation that makes it manageable for them – e.g. focusing on a page finish.

I really wanted to be able to work on 20 projects for this month and I still have time to be able to do it, as this particular post will be released on the weekend of 23rd/24th May. The pressure I’m putting on myself for this, if I choose to have 20 projects for May because of the year 2020, I need to be able to keep working on them and finish as many of them as possible. Preferably by the end of this year or May next year at the latest!

So what I’ll do for next year if I can, is to focus on smaller projects – preferably cards. By memory I had mentioned this at the start of this year, when I was talking about my plans for the year. Whether or not I stick to this is yet to be seen!

Wrap up

How are things going for you with Stitch Maynia? What version of it have you chosen to do?

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Related Reads

Posted in Stitch Maynia, WIP's and Plans

Stitch Maynia. Big versus small projects

Hi Everyone

Since I’ve started watching Flosstube, I’ve become increasingly aware of Stitch Maynia and each year I’ve been increasingly tempted to participate. because it looks like a lot of fun and I’m really good at starting a bucket load of projects! My challenge will be to finish everything that I start!

Based on what I’ve seen on the ‘Net and Flosstube, Stitch Maynia had started in May 2015 and based upon the year 2015, Stitchers were encouraged to started 15 new projects. The projects could be whatever the Stitchers wanted them to be and the aim was to get as many of those projects completed by the end of 2015. If Stitchers hadn’t been able to finish their 2015 starts by the time 2016 rolled around, they would need to include those WIP’s (works in progress) and whatever new starts they wanted to make up the 16 projects for 2016 Maynia. If Stitchers had completed all of their 2015 Maynia WIP’s, then they would be able to have 16 new starts for 2016 Stitch Maynia!

If I participate in Stitch Maynia this year, it would mean that I would need to have 20 new starts and I could start these in any which way I want – as long as they’re all started by the end of May.

Big versus Small Starts

Considering that there are meant to be 20 new starts this year, having 20 big starts may be overwhelming because of the amount of floss each project would need, where to keep it all, how to manage it etc.

Big Project Starts

Working on a big project is a challenge within its self because of the shear size of it, the amount of colours it may require, the length of time you need to spend on stitching it and that strong sense of achievement when you’ve finished it. To me, a big project is something that will take years to complete – especially if it’s the only thing I’m focusing on. Heaven and Earth Designs (HAED’s) are the first thing that comes to mind when I think of big projects. In some of my earlier posts, I’ve talked a bit about my progress on my first HAED – Moon Lit Waters.

My first HAED

If you choose to do at least one large project, check out the Pattern Keeper app if you haven’t already. It will let you know which designers are compatible with the app and if you’re trying to narrow down what to stitch, its compatibility with Pattern Keeper may be the decider!

If you choose to do 20 big starts as part of Stitch Maynia, the awesome thing is that not all projects need to have a bucket load of colours to give it that wow factor. One of the trends I’ve noticed with a lot of the Flosstubers is the amount of people who are in love with samplers – especially samplers based on or inspired by ones from over 100 years ago. Many of these samplers don’t have a lot of colours in them. Some of which are just mono-chrome or use variegated threads and make the most of the different hand-dyed fabrics available.

Another option for your big starts is to be part of a Stitch-A-Long (SAL) that releases patterns at the start of each month and by the end of the designated time frame, you will have a beautiful large piece.

Small Starts

To me, there’s something exciting about starting a new project – once I’ve decided on what I’m stitching and I have everything kitted up (unless I’ve chosen a kit). The excitement is in the new beginnings, fresh starts and seeing something come to life on the fabric. It also has bit to do with my attention span and getting the itch to start something new every few months or so.

Therefore, to me a small start is something I can complete within a week or two – a month maximum. It may just take me a while to fully finish it!

One of the things I really enjoy stitching are cards for various celebrations – even though I don’t stitch them very often. Partly because I struggle with fully finishing them as cards. However, with Stitch Maynia I now have the excuse to stitch a heap of Christmas and birthday cards and related paraphernalia! It may also prompt me to start some Halloween projects that I’ve been eyeing off for a while now and talked about in some of my blog posts.

The other cool thing with stitching cards is that I’m able to use some of the off-cuts of fabric I have floating around the house!

A bit of both?

Since there are meant to be 20 new starts this year, there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up and having a combination of big and small projects. Which means that you should be able to get a sense of achievement by the end of May because of the small starts being finished or nearly finished. And you should also be able to see a bit of progress with some of your bigger projects.

Theoretically, this will satisfy my need to stitch a mixture of small, medium and large projects. I’ll be able to continue working on my current WIP’s and get some small cards done. My main challenge will be deciding on what to start and when. I can plan something to the last inch of its life. My struggle point is putting those plans into action! Mostly because I’ve put so much time and effort into the planning phase, that in my mind I’ve already put those plans into action and I feel like my job is done. Funnily enough, I’m not always able to follow other people’s plans as well. There’s something about my need for independence and flexibility. There’s also an element of trying to follow something exactly and then there’s a change to my routine and I struggle to get back to the regular program.

But I digress…I’m still hopeful that I’m able to stick to the plans and projects I’ve put together for Stitch Maynia and that I can keep it flexible enough to keep me happy. The other thing that I’ll be testing during this maynia month is the use of coloured pencils on my paper patterns I can’t load into Pattern Keeper. My aim is to use a different coloured pencil for each day that I work on those patterns so that I can see how much progress I’m able to make. My goal is to stitch a minimum of 200 stitches for each medium to large project before I can move onto the next project. I’ve found that for most projects this is achievable because I’m able to spend a couple of hours at least on them, and for most projects I’m able to easily get the 200 stitches in!

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Related Reads:

Posted in Uncategorized

Digital versus Stitched Pattern Cover Sheets… Does it matter?

Hi Everyone

I hope you’re all going well. I’ve been working from home for the last two weeks or so and I’m finding that I’m not as inclined to be in front of the computer as much. I’m also finding that I don’t even want to go near my craft room unless I’m working now. But I digress…

I’ve been watching a bit of flosstube and I’ve fallen in love with Autumn Lane Stitchery. Cassandra and her husband Aaron are awesome. Aaron’s the designer of all of their patterns that are available on their Etsy store. I absolutely love all of the Halloween themed designs they have and I’m keen to start stitching some of them when we get closer to October! Below is one of their recent flosstube episodes to give you a bit of a taste what they’re like.

Autumn Lane Stitchery Flosstube episode 5 – Uploaded to YouTube on 13 April 2020

One of the things that I’ve been mulling over for a while now, and Autumn Lane Stitchery have reminded me of this question – how important it is for the project cover sheet to be stitched?

Digital Cover Sheets

I’d never really thought about it too much until Java Girl Stitches talked about one of the patterns she stitched by Shannon Christine Designs (two examples are shown below that I’ve purchased).

From a design and small business perspective, I understand that it may not be possible for businesses to pay someone to stitch a model, or wait for the model to be stitched before the patterns are released . I’ve also found that from stitching perspective, if the cover image is really cool, then I won’t care if it’s not been stitched. I’m placing enough trust in the designer to convey the way the finished picture is meant to look, that I’ll purchase the pattern and stitch it.

A similar thing can be said about photos that have been converted to cross stitch. On some of the social media groups I’m part of, some people have shared their progress of projects from photos and they look really good! Jan Hicks is one example, where she has converted some of her travel photos to cross stitch patterns – aka Jan Hicks Creates. Other examples include Cross Stitch Collectibles and Mystic Stitch. The images below are from the Mystic Stitch website.

Stitched cover sheet

For the majority of the time I’ve been stitching, I’ve only known cover sheets to have a stitched image on it. For example, below is the cover of a pattern that’s currently in my WIP (work in progress) pile.

When I started stitching, seeing a stitched image would give me really good idea of whether or not I’d be able to stitch it. It seems strange to say that because in theory at least, any pattern can be stitched. It’s just a question of how long it will take to stitch it! What I’m finding as time goes on, is I’ll gauge a picture by how much back stitch is in it versus how big the project is and how much confetti stitching it may have – e.g. a HAED.

Being able to see the actual stitches (rather than the digital stitches) helped me in my early years to see how the stitches needed to look. Also, aside from following the pattern, seeing the finished picture helped to reassure me that I was on track, and that my finished project looked as close as possible as what it was meant to be.

Summary

I’ve found that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the cover page is stitched or digital. The most important thing is what the picture is of. The picture needs to jump out at me and make me want to stitch it. It could be because of the colours or the theme – e.g. Shannon Christine’s Craft Room picture. It could also be because of the main subject – e.g. a cute puppy sitting under a Christmas Tree.

What do you prefer – a digital cover image or a stitched one? Does it matter? Why?

Posted in How To, Tips and Tricks

What do you need to know about framing your cross stitch?

Hi Everyone

How many variations are there for you to use to frame your cross stitch? Using the phrase “how to frame cross stitch” – including the quotation marks – 21,000 results came up in my Google results. Many of the results in this search talk about the possibilities of using glass, not using glass, stretching your project over canvas, using sticky board to assist with the framing, using matting board and not using matting board.

Considering how many posts and YouTube clips there are on how to frame cross stitch, the aim of this post is to share with you, some of the most popular ways to frame your cross stitch on a shoestring budget.

The most common threads from the most popular results will tell you about:

Washing your finished project

This can be a personal choice and be dependant upon your choice of fabric and threads. There are some threads may run if they are washed or weren’t pre-washed before you stitched with them. I’ve been really lucky with all of the projects I’ve washed before framing. I’ve only used Anchor or DMC threads, mostly because they’re the most accessible brands to me and up until the last 12 months or so, I hadn’t known about or heard of any other type of threads to stitch with! Tapestry wool being the exception!

I have accidentally spilt coffee and chocolate crumbs on my projects and I’ve been very lucky to have them easily wash out. Or I’ve been able to stitch over the spots without any worries – if a mark has been left after the washing.

One of the important things I want to note is that for the majority of my projects, I’ve hand washed them in the basin of my bathroom with a little bit of hand soap – liquid or bar – in warm to cool water. I’ve tried not to rub my stitches too much, but enough to remove any crumbs or marks if there had been any. I’ve also rinsed my project with warm to cool water to remove any soap residue. I’ve then lightly squeezed my project to remove the excess water and laid it flat on a towel to dry over night.

From an audio-visual perspective, below are a couple of clips that may help you with washing your projects, if you’re feeling a bit uncertain about what to do…

‘My gridding pen washed out super easy…’ by Stitching Jules – uploaded to YouTube on 8 December 2017
‘Washing your cross stitch and embroidery’ by Peacock and Fig – uploaded to YouTube on 17 September 2016

Once dry, I’ve ironed the front and back side of my project, taking care with areas that have beads and backstitch. You may find that some people are quite particular about which side of their project should be ironed – if at all. I’ve been lucky and not had any problems. It’s also been the main times I’ve brought out the iron and ironing board!

Measurements

How large your finished project is will have a major influence on the frame size you choose. The measurements will also impact your choice in mat board and what board you have to back your project. It’s also important to note that the amount of excess fabric you have around your project will have an impact on how you frame it. For example, do you really need a metre of fabric around your project? This example is excessive, but you get my point! On average, having an inch or two – 4 maximum (5 to 10 centimetres) around your project is the perfect amount because it gives you enough room to effectively stretch your fabric and have it centred in the frame.

Choosing acid-free materials

The acid-free materials will range from the foam and mat boards to the sticky board or threads you use to lace your project. This is important because they will ensure the longevity of your project and hopefully it will become a family heirloom!

Lacing

When I first started cross stitching and the term ‘lacing’ was mentioned, I thought it was something to do with lace in fashion and homewares. But it’s actually to do with the process of stretching your project over some foam board or cardboard, so that it’s nicely centred in your frame. Below is a clip to help further explain how lacing works and how you can do it too!

‘Lacing the lazy way’ by Lindy Stitches – uploaded to YouTube on 8 August 2019

Mat board

This can be a personal choice as well. Many frames you can purchase from the shops come with its own mat board. When you have pulled apart the frame, place the matting board over the top of your project to see if the matting board enhances or detracts from your project. It’s also important to note that the purpose of mat board is to stop your project from touching the glass – if you choose to frame your project with glass. According to the Frame Shop, mat board can protect your project from moisture because of the small gap it creates between the project and the glass.

If you find the perfect frame, but you need to adjust the mat board it comes from, Peacock and Fig has put together a great clip on how to customise the mat board to suit your needs.

‘How to cut a mat’ by Peacock and Fig – uploaded to YouTube on 28 May 2015

Frames

Whenever I’ve decided to frame a project, I’ve taken my project with me to the shops I want to get my frame from. This enables me to see what’s on the shelf and see if the project works with the frame. Felt Magnet recommends this in their post about framing your project as well. The aim is to find a frame that compliments your project. Tip: choose a colour in your project that you have used a little bit of. Find a frame in that colour or find some paint that you can use to paint the frame you’ve chosen. Alternatively, you may choose to wrap the frame in fabric or paper or any other medium that suits your project. Additionally, your frame can be made out of whatever materials you think suit and compliment your project. I’ve seen on the internet, how creative people have gotten with their frames. Some people have chosen to utilise materials from around their home or local stores that enhance their projects. Below are some images of what people have done:

Image from Google search. See diyinspired.com for a closer look at this frame and more ideas.
Image from Google search. See websiteherpetologistsleague.com for a closer look at the image and more framing ideas.
Image from Google search. See websiteherpetologistsleague.com for a closer look at the image and more framing ideas.
Image from Google search. See amazinginteriordesign.com for a closer look at this idea and more framing ideas.

Summary

When I’ve framed my own projects, I’ve taken a stab in the dark. I’ve not looked up anything on the internet. I’ve usually had an idea of how I’ve wanted the project to look in the frame and had a go at making it right. I’ve made the mistake of racing out to purchase a frame without my project with me and purchased a frame that’s been too big or too small. I still have some of those frames hanging around my home, in the hope that one day I’ll have a project that will suit it.

I’ve kept the glass in all of my projects and I’ve taken the risk with some of the projects by not using matboard and having the project right up against the glass. This is a huge risk with ‘The World’ project (see image below) because I’ve got it hanging up in my ensuite.

I’ve rarely used the lacing method of securing my projects in the frame. More often than not, I’ve used acid-free double sided tape to secure the project to the paper or board that has come with the frame. I have had to be careful to not have the standard picture that’s come with the frame showing through my project. I made that mistake with my ‘The World’ project (see below), but I think it’s worked out for the better. What do you think?

‘World Map: The Elements’ designed by Maria Diaz – notice the darker background. This was unintentional. The darker colours you see in the background are because of the side I used for backing the cross stitch project.

I also recommend you check out YouTube for tutorials on how to frame your cross stitch projects. They will give you the confidence and guidance on how to do what you want with your project. They may also enhance what this post has touched on.

Until next time, happy stitching!

Related reads:

Posted in Cross Stitch Haul and Stitching Progress, WIP's and Plans

February Page Finishes

Hi Everyone

At the start of this month, I set myself the goal of finishing the page I was working on for each of the active projects I have on rotation. I have been stitching my little heart out for most of this month and I think I’ve done pretty well. Especially since last post I was feeling a bit down and flat and not thinking that I would be able to achieve the progress I’ve wanted for each project.

There have been a few days where I’ve not stitched because I’ve been too tired from work and I’ve not slept well the night before, or I’ve been busy with other things. So without further adieu, lets get into it and see how I’ve gone!

Four Seasons Kittens

I have finished all of the half stitch and full crosses the pattern has asked for and I’ve gotten the majority of the back-stitch around the called for areas. I just need to give one of the kittens some whiskers and finish off the frame for the quarter, and I’ll be able to move onto spring or summer!

‘Four Seasons Kittens’ by Dimensions – Progress as of 29 February 2020
‘Four Seasons Kittens’ by Dimensions – progress as of 11 January 2020

Midnight Fairy

A page finish and then some…

Moonlit Waters Fairy by Heaven and Earth Designs – Progress as of 29 February 2020

Because there was some confetti that I had to finish on this page, I wanted to make the most of the thread I had on the needle at the time. So I started looking at neighbouring pages to see if I could stitch anything there and what you see is the result of what I found.

Fishing

I achieved a page finish with this project! The area I have been focusing on for February, is the bottom of the pattern that has a lot of greys and browns it. There is a bit of back-stitch needed for this area to help give the hat, some bullrushes and fence some definition. I’ll get to that when I’ve finished all of the full and half stitching for the project. Theoretically it should be easier if I do that!

‘Fishing’ progress as of 29 February 2020
‘Fishing’ close-up of my focus area and page finish as of 29 February 2020

Gundaroo Mini Mushroom

I’ve been battling some leg pain while stitching some of this page and I’m really annoyed that I haven’t gotten more done. The short story is that I don’t stretch as much as what I should after my gym sessions and runs and I’m an office worker. As a result of so much discomfort I’ve been experiencing lately, I haven’t been able to finish the page for this one. I am frustratingly close as you will see in the pictures below…

‘Gundaroo Mini Mushroom’ by Kristen Gawronski – progress as of 29 February 2020

To help put the image below into context, I’ve completed page 6, which is more the the centre of the fabric, and I’m close to finishing page 5. I’ve decided to start in the centre of the fabric because I’m not sure if I’ll have enough fabric to finish the entire project. The other thing to bear in mind with this project is, when I first put this pattern together, I had told the software that it would need to fit onto 28 count fabric – or there abouts. I then changed my mind and decided to keep most of the dimensions but try and stitch it on 14 count fabric instead…

‘Gundaroo Mini Mushroom’ by Kristen Gawronski – progress as of 29 February 2020

The annoying component with this pattern is the amount of confetti stitching for the bottom left corner of this page, which you will see in the photo I’ve taken of my pattern. It’s not as bad as other projects I’ve worked on over the years or even now with the HAED I’m working on.

However, in recent days when I’ve been stitching it, I’ve been seriously been contemplating scanning the pattern and seeing if it would be compatible with pattern keeper app. If it does work, it would make my life soooo much easiser! Because there are 148 colours in this pattern and some of the symbols are very similar. So it can take me a few minutes just to find the symbol on the key, to figure out which thread I need for a couple of squares!

‘Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms’ by Kristen Gawronski – pattern showing the confetti stitching and what remains to be stitched for the page as of 29 February 2020

Now that February is over for another year…

What now?

As I’m writing this post, Sunday, 1st of March is drawing to a close and whilst I have many new projects lined up and ready to go, I’m not sure if I’m ready to start them yet. Starting new pages of my existing projects would be exciting and I’d be significantly closer to getting the projects finished and off rotation for good. The question is though, do I need a break from them because I’ve been working on them so intensely for the last 20 odd days? Should I bring back into rotation some other projects that have been sitting idol?

One of the positive things for March though and the rest of this year is that I’m not going to be doing any official study with uni. Earlier this year, I had written about being accepted into the University of Canberra to complete a graduate certificate and I had been really excited about doing it. However, as time got closer to classes starting and getting the schedule for them organised, it all became a bit too hard. That process also helped me to realise that I really wasn’t as keen to do the study as what I thought I would be, when I had enrolled in the course back around August 2019! The good thing through, I that I have shown myself that I can get back into uni if I want to and it’s still an option later down the track. I’ve got work to focus on at the moment and I really want to keep progressing things with this blog and my stitching.

Small running update

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about running and how things are going there. For the last few weeks I’ve been experiencing some muscle pain in my left leg that has stemmed from me not stretching enough. It has also meant that I’ve not been motivated to get out and about and go for a run or walk. With the help of my trainer at the gym and a remedial massage with a physio, the muscles are getting better. So much so that I’ve been able to get out running again! They’ve been short runs so far – 2 to 3km in distance and intervals, meaning I would run a full kilometre and walk for a minute or two then run again until I was done.

I need to pick up my game a lot more for this month because of the 5km fun run I’ve booked myself in for the first weekend of April 2020. I really want to feel prepared for the run rather than be feeling too casual and hoping for the best. Also, the course is different this year and I’m feeling pretty confident with it because it’s a similar course I’ve run during my own free time.

Anyway, that’s enough from me for this week. Stay tuned and until next time, happy stitching!

Posted in Cross Stitch Haul and Stitching Progress

How do you support your local craft store?

Hi Everyone

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.

Results of Google image search for Pooh Bear’s Corner

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.

Images from Google Image search conducted on 9 February 2020

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…

Threads for ‘Autumn Castle’
Threads for ‘Craft Room’ by Shannon Wasilieff
Threads for ‘Excuse this mess’ by Shannon Wasilieff
Threads for ‘Fight like a girl’
Threads for ‘Koi Pond’ by Shannon Wasilieff

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?

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Creative Flair – when it’s in your genes, there’s no escaping!

Hi Everyone

As I’m writing this post, I’ve just gotten back from spending some awesome time with my sister and her family. Yesterday (26 October) my nephew turned 5 and today was a great time to catch up with my nephew, my sister and her family and celebrate 5 years of my nephew being with us!

One of the really cool things with spending time with my nephew, is that he’s really into art and being crafty! At the moment he’s really into water colour painting and drawing and experimenting with colours. This area of art isn’t my strong point, so I found it really fun to experiment with my nephew and have fun working with kid logic. For example, we had fun figuring out what would happen if we mixed a dark blue with bright yellow and how much of each colour we used to make the final colour. We also found that the paint brush would be very thirsty for some colours and not so much for other colours.

As I’m reflecting on today, many things are coming to mind. I’m remember what it was like to have that kid wonder of ‘what if’ and not worrying about the result, because we don’t know what it will be and therefore we have no expectations. When I was in late primary school, we had the friendship bracelets.

It became so much of a craze that I remember making a number of them and selling them at school for about $0.50c (50 cents) to about $1 to $2 depending on the complexity of the design. I remember spending many nights in front of the t.v. with one end of the bracelet pinned to my pant leg or the bean bag and I’d be madly tying the knots in preparation for the next day. Below are a couple of the bracelets I’ve held onto. They’re quite simple in comparison with some of the others I’ve made and sold.

Rainbow friendship bracelets. Diagonal design going from left to right. This image shows a close up of the design to show the darker and lighter reds, blues, greens and an orange and yellow and darker and lighter purple and pink.
Rainbow Friendship Bracelet made out of DMC cotton
This overhead shot shows two friendship bracelets that show the front and back of the bracelets. Both are rainbow diagonal going from left to right.
Overhead view of the rainbow friendship bracelets

It’s also important to note that with the selling of these bracelets, I had a limited market because I went to a small country school. When I graduated, there were a total of 74 students in the entire school and 8 people in my year. So my market was pretty small and there was someone else making the bracelets as well. Mine were better though!

In high school I was very much into writing and wanted to do something with that. I did a fair bit of cooking and craft classes to get my creative fix and did a bit of cross stitch at home. It was also at high school that I was introduced to quilting and photography. It was pretty cool developing the film in photography and learning how the whole process worked. I also knew early on that with photography, that if I had to do portraiture and tell people how to pose in photos, that I didn’t want to take it any further. I really don’t like telling people what to do and how to look to get a particular result. There’s also the pressure of getting the picture taken in a quick and short period of time and to that’s too much pressure.

I digress! I can’t help but wonder what things my nephew will be interested in and how everyone in his life can help to influence him in a positive way. I’m curious about whether he’ll stick with painting or progress onto other forms like pastels, charcoal and pencils. Or move onto mediums like pottery, origami, woodwork, metalwork and photography.

The really cool thing has been seeing that the creative flair remaining strong in my immediate and extended family. My grandparents on both sides of my family were creative with their photography, knitting, painting, gardening and music. I remember my grand father on Dad’s side, bringing out the piano accordion or mandolin on Christmas Eve and would play us some tunes. Sometimes he would sing as well. There was a few times there where he had tried to teach some of my cousins and I how to play the mandolin . My fingers were too small at the time and they haven’t grown much since!

Many of my aunts are creative with their painting and gardening and one of my uncles has taught himself to play the guitar. One of my cousins is/has been in a number of different bands and has performed on stage with his band. Another cousin of mine is creative with her hairdressing and make-up artistry. Meanwhile, my sister and her fiance are creative in their own rights with their talents in music (drums and possibly guitar), pottery, drawing and photography.

So my nephew has no escape from this strong creative flair and I can’t wait to see what comes of it!

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Some of My Favourite Stitchy Places and Things

Hi Everyone

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something and the last few posts have been a bit intense and not the usual light-hearted posts I’ve shared posted before. So my aim for this post is to bring back that light-hearted vibe that I hope you all enjoy, by talking about some of my favourite places to stitch and things I use while I’m stitching.

To kick things off, I’m writing this post at the coast (Malua Bay, NSW, Australia) and the weather is absolutely beautiful! Even if the weather wasn’t beautiful, I would still be really happy to be here. The house is located in short walking distance to two beaches, the local shops that has a fantastic butcher who also makes amazing coffee to warm the soul and local lawn bowls club that serves really yummy Chinese food. The two hard parts are walking back up the hills and going back home and back to reality. To me there’s something about the relaxed lifestyle of being at the coast and so close to the beaches that I love. Additionally, the coast is my third home (the second being my parents place in the country-side). For school holidays when I was growing up through to long weekends or short weekends away, the coast has always been the go-to place where a lot of my memories are from. Also, I’m very much an introvert and alone time is important to me. To escape from people and re-charge my batteries – especially before I moved out of home to my own place. Meanwhile, we’ve just had a new entertainment unit delivered to the house which is going to make it a lot easier for technology improvements and changes and accessing the power points that are behind the unit. Especially as televisions continue to get bigger, gaming consoles are updated and our tastes in movies and television shows change. Which will mean that I have yet another reason to sit down and do some cross stitch! **Sigh** First world problems ‘ay!

If the weather happens to be bad outside and I’m unable to be out there enjoying by sitting on the balcony (if I’m at the coast – see images below) or going for runs or walks, having the television on in the background while I’m stitching is one of the things I love to do. If this is the case, I’ve found having a movie or television show on that has a similar genre to the project I’m working on a real motivator.

Balcony View 1 – slight water view
Balcony View 2
Balcony View 3

For example, when I was stitching the Palamino by Country Threads or Midnight Glow by Dyan Allaire for Kustom Krafts (see below), I was regularly watching Heartland or McLeod’s Daughters.

Completed Palamino. I have used this as part of a country/outback/Australiana themed  quilt. I've used a navy blue trim around it with lime green or avacado green fabric to connect it to other cross stitch pictures.
Palamino by Country Threads
Three quarters of this image has been stitched. The nose and remaining part of the mane of the horse needs to be stitched. I may not have enough fabric to be able to stitch it all.
Work in progress – Midnight Glow – Design by Deanne Allaire for Kustom Krafts

If I’m not down at the coast, I’m definitely chilling out at home with cross stitch in hand and television in the background. If it happens to be a nice day outside, I’ll try and make the most of it by being out at the patio. Which is where I’ll have my earphones on and I’ll be listening to music or an audio book or something from Youtube like Flosstube!

I have considered taking my stitching public – e.g. going to a park or cafe and stitching whilst drinking a coffee or hot chocolate or even going to the library. I’ve been a bit nervous about it. Scared even! In my introverted way, I’ve been fearful of the fabric getting dirty or spilling something on it. But mostly fearful of what others might say – especially if I’m stitching at a cafe on my own and the staff getting annoyed that I’m sitting at one of their tables for hours on end and only drinking a coffee or hot chocolate, when they could have many people sitting at that table ordering drinks and/or food. Then there’s the sharp object thing in a public space that isn’t a knife if I’m at a cafe. I’d like to think that it shouldn’t be a big deal stitching in public – especially since there are knitting and crochet groups who catch up in my local area!

What about you? Are you a home body as well or do you recharge your batteries through your social interactions or being out amongst nature? Where do you like to stitch? Do you need peace and quiet or something noisy in the background?

I love needle minders!

Meanwhile, if I haven’t mentioned it before in my other posts, I’ll mention it here and quite probably in future posts too…I looooove my needle minder! I can’t believe I’ve been stitching so long without one! It has made the world of difference for reducing the amount of times I jump up from the couch cursing and swearing that I’ve dropped my needle and need to find it before anyone steps on it or sits on it. I love it so much that a few weeks ago at the Canberra leg of the Craft Alive Fair, I bought a few more and I wish I had them with me so that I could share pictures of them with you. Hopefully I’ll remember and share them with you in my next post!

Old school paper patterns

I’m old enough to remember very well the cassette and VHS tapes and the joys of batteries dying in diskman’s and walkman’s and the transition from cassettes to CD’s and VHS to DVD’s to streaming music and movies online. I’m also young enough to be championing the use of digital patterns, spreadsheets and apps on my phone or laptop to keep track of my threads, patterns, fabric and cross stitch related things. But there’s something about the physical marking off of an area of a pattern with a lead pencil that I can’t shake. I have purchased a digital pattern and I have briefly had the intention of trying to keep it digital as I stitch but I couldn’t do it. I had to print it off.

A comfy chair with my legs stretched out

Unfortunately I’ve managed to do something to my side of the recliner couch and I miss being able to have the foot rest up while I’m stitching. It was sooo comfy and it gave my legs a good work out when I needed to put the foot rest back into position. The couch still is comfy and I enjoy being able to sink into it while I’m chilling out. I just need to figure out how to re-establish the tension for the wire that normally enables the foot rest to go out/come out.

So these are just a few of my favourite stitchy places and things. I’d love to hear about your favourite stitchy places and things.

Until next time…Happy Stitching!