Tuesday, 3 March 2015

I'm an AO!

Today was my first at the new job.   I am officially an Administration Officer =AO and feel exhausted with so much to remember and so many new experiences.  Besides which Probation Services have a completely different clientele and at times I felt rather out of my depth.   The other staff are very supportive.  I was taken on a visit to the Police Cells and tomorrow accompany a probation officer on offender visits.   This is merely part of the orientation and will not be a part of my actual daily work.   Still, all is good and I am sure that in time I will feel more at home and have more energy at the end of a day.  
Five months of "time off" was great but it is back to work now and I fear that stitching progress may slow down :-(
After finishing the panel for the Sampler Casket I felt the need for hardanger so stash provided linen and thread.  
The piece is now full of "skeletons" waiting for the next break in Casket Stitching when they will be finished.   Amazing that a smallish piece of linen can fit a pochette (bottom left), a tassel (top left), a biscornu (to be stitched on the two tacked out squares either side of the hardanger triangle ), three berlingot (in drawn thread - one done and two only tacked out ) and a needlebook and liner (bottom right).
The Christmas Tree is laced and nearly all the ingredients for completion are sourced so I am ready to go.   The ribbons for the base and a clipping of fake holly may have to wait until nearer Christmas as they aren't in shops at present.   Photo to follow.
Today is Girls Day in Japan and with impeccable timing my friend Sonoko sent me a package containing appropriate goodies.   What's more, the courier brought the package just before I left for work so I was able to wonder all day what the contents would be.   Tonight I have opened up and taken photos to share.   Thank you very very much Sonoko.
Chocolates -  special Girls Day chocolates!!!

I have shared with the HD3QBEM - a consolation for her first day on her own!
Also a cute box shaped like a Japanese sandal and filled with sweets and some other items I neglected to photograph.
And very necessary Ohinasama dolls.   I will keep these carefully to display each year.
Wasn't this a wonderful surprise.   I have had a good day.

Friday, 20 February 2015

I've been making a ball and ....

The time has flown by so quickly this week.   But I have had a profitable time getting lots of jobs crossed off my list before I start my new job on 3 March.  
Today I made a ball and although the fabric scraps limited the size of the pentagons this wasn't quite as fiddly to stitch together as I had thought it might be.   The colours go well together don't they (wink wink to Little Sister!)
I have also tried out, fairly successfully,  a flap for a hardanger pocket.   The pocket is not quite wide enough for what I want so I will get out the graph paper and extend the chart as I quite like the pattern of this one.   As I want to use up the rest of the linen, I won't be making up the pocket until I have stitched the tassel, the needlecase and the bookmark on the remaining piece of this linen.
I'm thinking that a "flapped pocket" in cream lined with ruby red may be just right for my planned ruby wedding gift.  We shall see.
My hardanger Christmas tree is coming along.  It is now officially confirmed that I am no great fan of cross stitch and hardanger, nor roses (or are they supposed to be holly berries?)and cream, but this is turning out reasonably well.   I will have to visit my local DIY store to see what they can provide by way of a base for this to stand in as the pattern says a wooden candlestick!   Goodness gracious.   Who has wooden candlesticks nowadays?!   This is not the Victorian era!   I'm thinking a cream ceramic planter pot and a painted wooden dowel.
Hopefully the roses will all be finished tonight and I will attempt to decipher the instructions for the hardanger.

Yesterday the HD3QBEM and I went into the City and bought a new merino winter sweater for her.   Yes!   In 26 degrees celsius heat we bought merino!!!   It never ceases to amaze me that end of season sales happen in January and the Autumn and Winter fashions come into the shops in February. Who feels like trying on woolen garments in that kind of heat?   The HD3QBEM is delighted with her new sweater and I approve of the lovely pink so we are both happy.
Tomorrow is Embroiderers Guild and I am looking forward to seeing what others have been working on over the summer break.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

City Tour, Casket Progress, Hardanger etc

Today, the HD3QBEM and I went on a bus trip.   The red CityLink bus is actually designed for shoppers and commuters but for us it was a City Tour.   We enjoyed ourselves on this outing - beautiful weather and  a chance to see places we don't normally have reason to visit.   We have now ridden the orange OuterCircle line, the red CityLink line, our normal blue Metro line and there is only the lime green InnerLink left to conquer.
I planted some Verbena for a touch of instant colour but as we are still having very dry weather I use the watering can every day to ensure their survival.   My next lot of runner beans are starting to climb and the eggplants are starting to flower.  Summer has been so dry this year that my garden hasn't been as fruitful as usual.
This week I finally completed the hand sewn hem on my dress.  Now there are only three pieces of fabric left in my stash box for a skirt, a jacket and trousers.   Skirt first I think but not for a week or two yet as there are too many other things-to-do!
The front panel of the casket is now complete.  I made a trip to my LNS for the requisite #5 Japan metallic gold and obediently stitched the gate, hated it, unpicked it, stitched it in DMC 3820, hated it, unpicked it and finally settled on one strand of DMC 413 which now looks like a wrought iron gate.
So the back and front panels are now complete and it feels like progress.   Note, the shadows behind are the hardanger mat on which the finished piece is sitting.
But I am taking a break for a piece of hardanger.   Yes! That itch has not yet gone away and this Cross N Patch Christmas Tree is calling to me.   I think the cream and rose garlands looks lovely and can probably survive cross stitch if mixed with hardanger like this.  I have the linen and threads in stash so away we go and while I stitch I will try and think of what I can use for the base/stand.
Have a good evening everyone.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

An about turn to the final product

Do you remember I stitched this Baby piece by Lynne Nicoletti?
Well one of the parents-to-be decided not to find out the gender and the other parents-to-be are expecting a "pink" so this piece may or may not have been useful!   A dilemma it was and so it sat waiting to be finished off.
Then last week we received an invitation to a baby shower (for the non-pink parents) in far off Wellington City.   We will not be able to attend but were asked for memories of the mother as a baby/toddler so her sisters could organise a quiz and photo board.   Oh dear!   I was living overseas when she was born and have absolutely no memories of her at that early age so it was up to Great Grandma who racked her brains.   Between us we found photos etc and Great Grandma wrote a letter while Great Aunty provided a memory box.
Yes!! The box, made of New Zealand native Rimu timber, has been waiting for its top for the past twenty years, so I cleared space on my shelf.  And the renovated piece is less gender specific and will hopefully tie in well with the nursery which is apparently decorated in soft green.   Tomorrow this will be consigned to the tender loving care of New Zealand Post and I pray it will not go astray.
Meanwhile I am finishing the front panel of my Sampler Casket.   The satin stitch is almost finished and then I will need to start on the zillions of bullion roses.  

Sunday, 8 February 2015


Today is the memorial day for used and broken needles and pins.

A couple of years ago I made a special needle book, the last page of which was an "honourable hard work" page for retired needles.
For the past year I have kept my "retired" needles very carefully just to see how many I use in a year.
I am surprised how many there are.   My faith in John James needles is at a low ebb -  the eyes of their needles are very weak and break so very quickly.  There were too many needles this year for my "needle resting place" so the rest sat in a tin waiting to be disposed of today.  

According to Japanese tradition retired needles are stuck into a block of tofu and thanks are given for their help in the years work.   I am thankful (but not to Mr John James!) for my needles but I refuse to waste tofu and instead the HD3QBEM and I are having a  tofu dinner tonight.
Our local haberdashery store has relocated to another suburb so I was not able to get the very narrow ribbon to complete the Christmas Stockings but I am pleased with the way these have turned out.   After experimenting on these I have decided that I like my hardanger picots to be knobs not loops and have made the 'life decision' to make knobs from now on :-)
Tonight I plan to return to my Casket stitching and build a house -  well perhaps lay the foundations.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Casket Progress

Two ladies on the front panel are now stitched and awaiting the gold thread for their embroidery hoops.   The trees still need their bullion stitch flowers but more importantly I need a rest from this piece.   Despite having had this chart on my To Do List for years and years, it is not obsessing me and will only be completed if I allocate breaks to work on other things.
So this past day or two, I have tacked out three pieces of linen for Mary Stewart hussifs and sorted out the Perle threads for each.   Now when the "I want to stitch something else" feeling grips me I have three different projects ready to start.   I plan one to be in hardanger, one in pulled thread work andthe last in Wessex Stitchery.   The HD3QBEM looked at me quizzically and said " stitchers make a lot of needle cases and hussifs don't they".  Sure they do but they are always useful for oneself and to give away.
The small Christmas stockings are sewn up and tonight's job will be complete the lacy cuffs that need to be stitched to the top,  I like these and filled with chocolates they make a super gift at the festive season.
And I have been angelic - well making angels anyway - copied from the green one I received as a gift eons ago.
These are done from wooden clothes pegs, a cinnamon quill, star anise and scraps of fabric and wool. The tops of my pegs are more cylindrical than round and the hair isn't quite fluffy.   My angels are perhaps a little more puritanical looking?   I have four more clothes pegs so once I get to the spice store I will try four more in a different colourway.   Do you think these will sell well at the Guild Exhibition?  I hope so.
Currently I am trying to avoid a trip to my LNS (so sorry Ribbon Rose!) and work solely from stash.   So far so good but I have no 28 count cashel linen in white, ivory or antique white.   Not good, as that is so often a staple for me for hardanger.   Perhaps I will treat myself to an LNS visit as a celebration when I finally get the job contract from the Department of Corrections.   They emailed me to say that an offer letter is on its way but whether the documents will come by post or by email I'm not sure.   Still it sounds favourable and I am excited and fearful in equal measure.   The HD3QBEM wants to go to Daruma Sushi as a celebration and rather than be selfish we will probably do both.   Sounds fair n'cest pas?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Onward and upward

Auckland City celebrated its 175th birthday last weekend with beautiful hot weather and a three day party down on the waterfront.  Oh yes, we had a public holiday on Monday too!   My personal celebration was to take the ferry across to Rangitoto Island with a friend.  
We climbed up to the crater (one hour), half slid down the other side (one hour) and walked back along the coast to the wharf over seemingly endless 'rivers' of black volcanic rock flows (one and a half hours) and past one very tempting small beach where the water was so very clear and so very warm.   At the wharf, we collapsed in the shade to wait for the ferry back to the city.   A reviving cup of tea and a short bus ride home to a refreshing cool shower and a sound sleep.   It was great fun and I still have the muscle aches to prove it.
The white Hardanger on red evenweave was completed but it will remain a trial piece.   This is not the effect I was wanting as it looks more like Christmas than a ruby wedding celebration.  
So the thinking cap is back on and in the meantime I stitched the skeletons for two Hardanger Christmas stocking tops and  a square to top a velvet pincushion.   Win win!  Another piece of scrap fabric has been converted into useful product.
Elementary is back on our TV screens and although I'm not totally comfortable with a female Doctor Watson I am hooked on the series and while watching last night made a start on the front panel for my casket.  
There are multitudes of bullion rose type knot things (?) to go throughout these branches but as I stitch with a small hoop and move it about I will leave the 3D effect stitches until the end to avoid them being squashed,
And my treat for yesterday was a trip to the movies - part of my Christmas gift was a voucher.   I went to see The Imitation Game and now I want to read the book:-).  The trailers at these movie sessions are tempting aren't they?   Well to me they are, unless I have already read the story, so yesterday I was not tempted by Still Alice (read that one), nor by The Theory of Everything (read that one too) and neither Selma nor Wild seems like my kind of movie.   So I will be keeping my remaining vouchers until the next James Bond (roll on November)  and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (only have to wait till March for this one).
Today I ran a few chores for the HD3QBEM and found a new favourite place.   Yes!   I can see that this would be very tempting so just as well I only know one outlet in a shopping mall I only go to about once a decade:-(