Brother Arrives to Stay!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas Greetings to my Crafting Friends!

Wishing all my Blogging friends every happiness at Christmas time and into the New Year.

Happy, healthy Crafting year ahead 2009.

Warmest wishes
Alison xx

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Coughs and Sneezes

Oh dear! I am feeling sorry for myself. I have succumbed to the current round of germs circulating in my office. I am never normally someone who takes time off as I normally feel better as the day goes on, but I have to admit, this one has got to me! It is making me feel like all my joints and muscles are aching like mad. I have been in bed all morning and have got up for a few hours so that I don't completely ruin my body clock and sleep pattern. I felt very poorly at work yesterday but thought an early night might get rid of it, but no luck. So its just a question of letting this awful bug take its course :-(

Over the weekend I was able to do a bit of work on my sampler, here is the latest WIP photo - its starting to shape up nicely don't you think?

You may recall a few postings back, I mentioned that I applied to the Woodland Trust (following a promotion in the UK National newspaper The Daily Mail) and purchased a couple of trees as Christmas presents. These saplings have now been planted in a plantation in Wales which will grow into a forest in years to come. I received the gift certificates to give the recipients, so I decided I would mount them onto stiff card and embellish with some decoupage in the style of An Edwardian Country Lady's Diary, which I think is a perfect style as it depicts authentic botanical flora and fauna.

Friday, 5 December 2008

My Treasured Squirrel

Hi everyone,

I have really been looking forward to posting this week, but things have been sooo busy with my projects at work (integrating 2 big information systems and creating a database for statistical analysis!) that time has sped by and still no blogging. But, here I am, finally!

One of the reasons for my excitement is that I want to proudly show something to you that I received a gift in the post earlier in the week. As you can see from the photo above, it is an adorable and cute red Squirrel, complete with an acorn! This was made by my very wonderful friend Margaret. When I opened the parcel, it gave me a very warm feeling to know that she has so obviously gone to the trouble of making the gift especially with me in mind which makes the gift doubly great :-) Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and friendship, Margaret it means all the world to me. Now that I have your new address since the 'Big Move', I have sent you a little "quelque-chose" to enjoy (something I have made for you!) and a hand-made card which I really enjoyed making! So watch out for your postman in the coming week. I only posted it today, so it may take about 3 to 4 days to reach you.

This weekend I have been invited to a birthday party for my friend's daughter, who wants us to dress up in ball gowns, glitz and glamour! So I'm looking forward to putting on my best party gear and a good excuse for a dance and chat with some friends I haven't seen for a while, and of course celebrating Holly's birthday!

I will look forward to posting again over the weekend!

Much love and crafty-ness :-)

Alison xxx

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A Quick Post Today

Just to wish all my many friends in USA and those around the world that visit this blog

Happy Thanksgiving Day!!!
I know what a special time it is for you all, time to enjoy celebrations with your families and friends. Enjoy, do some stitching if there is time, and hopefully visit this blog if you have the inclination. Otherwise, put your feet up and relax :-)
With warmest wishes from this Crafty Squirrel!
Alison xx-o-xx

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Some of My Finished Works

Here are the colour skeins for my Moira Blackburn sampler, that I am currently stitching. I just love all those muted colours - I am really enjoying the stitching, its very restful.
These little cutey's are from the Woodland Trust website (I couldn't resist them!). The Woodland Trust is a wonderful charitable organisation in UK, dedicated to planting trees and preserving our precious natural habitats. It only cost £5 to sponsor the planting of a tree in a choice of 5 forests in different parts of the UK, so I have bought some trees for Christmas presents. You even get a certificate to give to your chosen recipients, with their name on and a short dedication. Its just my style of present, eco-friendly, not expensive but so worthwhile - who can resist the long-lasting beauty of a tree!

This is my Gail Bussi sampler which I stitched in the early summer. Gail is one of my very favourite designers because her colours are lovely, the designs are adorable - this one says "The Road to a Friend's House ..... Is Paved with Happy Thoughts".

This is my Woodland Sampler which is designed by Caroline Vincent. I bought her book at the Olympia Stitch and Craft Show 2007 (i.e. last year) and bought all the threads and aida at the show as they were cheaper, even more so than buying on the internet! The sampler took me a couple of months, it was very addictive - it uses a lot of 3-colour combinations (using 3 colour threads on the needle), which makes for really sumptuous textures and gives the animals a realistic look. Some of Caroline's other designs are just amazing - I have bought the threads for a couple of other pieces which I will start in the New Year after finishing my current piece.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Busy Saturday!

I have spent a productive Saturday today, as you can see from these photos. I have been making some Christmas cards over the course of this week, but today, I felt motivated to finish everything off as all my craft pieces were getting in the way on the kitchen table! After lunch, I went down to my local craft shop in the village and bought some special clear glue for sticking fine glitter onto card and also a little sponge applicator which makes spreading the glue an absolute breeze!

I got into the creative mood this weekend!

Also I did about an hour's stitching on my MB sampler, managing to complete the box on the left hand side and started stitching the border, which is going to get more interesting and colourful as I progress! I have been looking forward to stewing the butterfly - it was quick to complete but has started to make the border start to come to life and give it some movement!

Not sure about you, my crafting friends, but I haven't had any motivation to venture out on Christmas shopping expeditions. I think, like me, everyone is feeling the pinch this year and there seems to be a general feeling of "let's not go mad on presents this year, just send me a nice Christmas card". I think that is an excellent idea. In recent years, I feel people have gone mad buying for the sake of it, spending more money than they can afford and loading up their credit card(s) with debt. Whilst it is lovely to exchange gifts, and it is especially exciting for families with young children, it becomes meaningless and superficial when we know how much poverty there is in the world. This year, I have decided that I will make all my cards from scratch. As you can see, I have made them from a combination of die-cuts that you can buy or get free in Card/Craft magazines and some components I have made myself, with materials from my craft cupboard. I found a box of ready-made gold design cards (which I forgot I had!) which will be great for the people at work and everyone else will receive a home-made 'masterpiece'!
I'm not saying I am completely broke or anything, but I feel that now is not the time to go spending loads of cash (a) when I love making things for people and all the people who know me that I am doing it because its my hobby, so its not just because I am too mean to buy things (b) the general mood is heading towards moving back to the simpler things in life and not being quite so materialistic - well, at least it is in my circle of family and friends and that's because they are all so lovely!
Thats all for now
Happy Crafting!
Alison xx

Monday, 17 November 2008

Close up of the Christmas Eco-bag

This is a close-up photo, at Nela's request, so that you can see the Christmas design of my eco-friendly bag! I'm really proud of it! I wish that Man can think of more and more creative ways of recycling our waste, so that we never need to use land-fill which is such an awful thing, when you think that it can take 100's, yes 100's! of years for plastic to degrade in the earth.

Gracias Nela, ahora puedo seguir tu blog, estupendo!!!! Thank you Nela, its fantastic I have now found the link on your blog, so you are now on my list of "Blogs I follow". I hope that more people will visit me and I will be sure to add more people to my list!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sampler Progress and Magazine Reviews

Well, I did make some progress on my sampler today, but to be honest, probably not significant enough to take a special photo of it :o) I stitched two little birds on the left of the tree and started to work on the border. But, it is shaping up nicely!

Continuing with Angel San's tradition of reviewing English XS magazines, here is a comparative commentary of two UK magazines Cross Stitcher and World of Cross Stitch (WOCS). Over the past year, I have noticed that CrossStitcher has moved with the times, in terms of updating its 'look and feel' these days, having a more contemporary feel to it.
By comparison, I am afraid to report that World of Cross Stitch has done nothing to update its image and seems to churn out the same designs year after year, which irritates me because it shows rather a lack of imagination IMHO. This month's edition could have been published 7 - 10 years ago!! For example, I could have sworn I have seen the penguin alphabet, just in a slightly different format, in previous years. Also, since when have jungle animals been anything to do with Christmas? I'm sorry, but putting a Santa's hat onto a snake and putting a couple of presents next to a Chimp does not constitute Christmas - not even for children!
In fairness, the WOCS cover freeby kit is a nice-to-have, of good quality, being 4 snowglobe cards + envelopes and seasonal stitckers. Although I am not particularly fond of the designs (again, just a bit same-y, no particular 'whow factor') on reflection, I can always adapt them with other designs from my stash.
Below are a few photos of designs in Cross Stitcher Issue 207 (Dec/Jan) which I really admired:
(Above) Wedding cards with a Christmas theme - what a great idea, dual purpose :-) (Above) I like leafing through the pages of CrossStitcher with this designer story-board look

(Above) Nice! Some quick easy make book marks for Christmas stocking fillers. And hoorah, they aren't on a Christmas theme - let's face it, who wants to be using a book mark with Santa and penguins when sitting in the garden in the hot summer sunshine. Hey, I live in hope that we will get a hot summer in UK, but I always was a dreamer LOL ;-D

(Above) ... and finally, here is a really lovely Traditional Sampler for Christmas. I don't suppose I could stitch it in time for this Christmas, but will keep the pattern for next year. But, in the meantime, that lovely little snowman at the bottom would be ideal for a quick-make special Christmas card!

Here is a novel idea - a Christmas eco-friendly reusable shopping bag (we call it a 'Bag for Life' in England). Isn't it so bright and cheerful? It certainly cheers up a dull, grey day! You'd just never believe what it has been made from ..... look below for the answer

Did you guess??? Well, the bag has been made from melted down recycled PET bottles i.e. plastic bottles such as those used for soft drinks - squash, Coke etc. Isnt that an amaaaaazing use of packaging!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Stitchy Saturday

I had a really crafty day today, in addition to doing a few routine Saturday jobs around the house, raking up the leaves in the garden, going out for a run and (unfortunately) having to go to the supermarket as I had run out of some essentials! But a nice easy Saturday, all in all.
I am pleased with the progress I have made today on my Moira Blackburn Sampler! As you can see, I have completed the grass and added the middle tree and a bird to the right of the tree. The graduated effect of the grass was achieved by blending several colours of green together (mid-green + olive green and olive green + light green) - also called "tweading".

The one thing that really amazed me was that when I originally stitched the flowers, I thought "they are never going to show up" because they did not seem to have a shape to them, but having added the green in the background, it is really surprising how well they came out! Also, isn't it lovely the way the leaves on the trees really do look as if they are being buffeted and blown on the top of that windy hillside. How exciting, I am going to start working on the border next, which is the really interesting part!
The other craft I did today was to make a card for my brother who will be graduating with a Masters in a couple of weeks. See like brother, like sister! We both have a Masters in a Computer Science subject, again totally spooky because we didn't know that we had both enrolled on similar courses until after we had started!
As you can tell from the card, I have made it quite simple, with some fairly plain backing paper in the peachy colour which I carefully tore just for a special effect, then added some board slogans which I thought would be appropriate. You know what men are like, they don't want a fuss really - but I think it is sufficient to show him that I am very proud of his achievements. He now has a fantastic job managing enterprise-level software implementations in a top University in US, so he has done incredibly well for himself.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

First Post of this week ... on a Thursday! :-((

As you can tell (from the lack of posts!), dear Crafters, it has been a very hectic week for me, which is the reason I have unfortunately been unable to write this week. At last, I can sit in front of the computer (not for work, but for pleasure!). I hope you have all had a good week and enjoying whatever you have been busy on, over the past few days.

I didn't mention in my previous post that I started a couple of evening classes at my local Adult Education Centre. On Tuesdays I attend a Psychology class - I can tell you it is absolutely fascinating!! We have been learning about Attachment - from infants into adulthood - for the past 5 weeks. Last week we did Research Methods to train us in how to carry out interviews, design questionnaires and analyse data. Next week, we will move on to Memory (Short term and Long term) as well as Eye Witness Accounts - how accurately (or not!) people remember things that they only see very briefly. On Wednesdays I am doing Maths Plus which is basic principles of Mathematics and Statistics - something I was very weak on at school. The teacher is wonderful, very patient and excellent at explaining things! So I am enjoying a completely different type of learning nowadays, not so much pressure with exams, dissertations etc. Just for the joy of learning new things.

Thank you, to my dear friend Angel San for posting a comment to me. Yes, I am definitely suffering from lack of sunshine. Without a doubt, today must have been the most dull, grey day of the autumn, not a single glimmer of sunshine at all. Guess what, San, I have treated myself to a Daylight Lamp, so now I will be able to try stitching some evenings, like you :-) Although, saying that, I am so tired by the time I get home from work, I don't always have energy to start stitching my project. I have not made much progress on it since posting the photo, but I hope that tomorrow and over the weekend will be more productive. I am eager to start stitching the border with all those adorable animals. San, please could you say to your Mom that I will respond to her lovely email about Squirrels over the weekend.

Well, that's my bit of news for today. I will hopefully be able to post something of a crafty-theme over the weekend. Also I have been collecting some discount vouchers that Hobbycraft seem to put into every magazine for £3 off every £15 - hey, that's 20% off, if I have my maths correct :-) So I am hoping to get down to the Greenford Branch, sometime before 14th Dec (when the vouchers expire).

Enjoy the rest of your day!
Ali xxx

Saturday, 8 November 2008

First Blog Posting ... for a long time!

Hi there Crafters!

For many months I have been planning to get back blogging again, and things seem to have distracted me from doing so. I have really missed keeping in contact with the many crafting friends I have made over the internet. So, to give me some motivation, I decided to set up this brand new Blog and I am now determined to get back into the routine of posting, because it is a lot of fun! I need a new battery for my digital camera as my current one is 'on its last legs' (i.e. nearly beyond use!), then I will be able to take some piccies of my latest craft efforts to show you on this blog.

For those who remember me (and I hope there are a few familiar old friends, as well as newcomers, who will visit my blog!), I was in the middle of doing my Masters dissertation when I was last 'in the blogging habit'. I completed those studies and the photo at the top of this Posting, was taken at my Graduation ceremony in July this year.

My current project which is very much "Work in Progress" is a Moira Blackburn Sampler. The photo below has been taken from MB's official website, so you can see the finished design. As you will see, the border is very busy with lots of woodland creatures, including Squirrels (of course!), birds, rabbits and insects. I am really enjoying stitching it as there are no half-stitches or backstitching - so very relaxing! Also the colours are lovely, natural and rustic.

So far, I have nearly completed the bottom part, which you will see from the photo below includes the hillside field with sheep grazing, one of the trees and the bottom borderline. I hope that tomorrow (Sunday) will be a nice quiet day so that I can make some progress on it, as I am looking forward to the interesting part which is the side-border!

Well, that is all for my first blog - I will dig out a few photos of a couple of nice projects I completed over the summer, when the light was good and the evenings were longer. Its 5pm here in England, and already dark, although we did enjoy some nice sunshine earlier today.

Happy crafting!

Alison xx