Saturday, 29 December 2012

Lady Autumn & 2013

I promised that there would be a picture update of my Mirabilia in my next post so here it is!
It's growing so much!! I got to start using some exciting new colours at last, now that I'm beginning the harvest bundle she's carrying. I'm not quite sure what all of it is supposed to be - perhaps just some colour rather than specific crops! As you can see, I've gone all the way to the left-hand border, though I haven't stitched the border itself yet - I think it's a single stitch wide, and in the same brown as the middle. Autumn's hands will start to appear somewhere in the band that I'm doing as well, so by the time this band of stitching is finished there'll be a headless Lady stitched on my linen! You might notice some 'blank' spots in the stitching that I've previously completed, along the right hand side in the swath of palest colours. It's a blend of two colours and in previous projects blending two colours has never gone very well for me. I'll get to it, I promise (and I keep my promises!), I'm just holding off on it for a little while longer. XD

And I found the conversion chart! I barely had 'Needlepaints' typed in the search bar, and the conversion chart to DMC was one of the suggestions. It's a good thing I had not planned to use the Needlepaints, as 2101-2106 for certain are no longer in production, and all the colours of 2101-2106 are colours I needed for Winter! Thankfully, all the colours have been matched for me on this chart, so all I have to do is dig through the bags of thread I have to find them!

I have also discovered some beads hidden in the harvest bundle that I had noticed until I began stitching. Sigh. I guess this means finding the beads online so I can replace them with matching coloured thread, as I planned to do on Winter's side (which has a lot of beads in the border work).

On another thread, is everyone nearly ready for 2013? We're down the last days here (only two to go!), so is everything prepared for the new year? Writing those last blog posts, organizing your threads and projects, cleaning up the house, and mentally preparing yourself for all the mistakes you're going to make writing 2012 rather than 2013? Or are you just lazing around the house in the aftermath of Christmas? I'm doing a mixture of both, it seems. Today is a cleaning and blog-posting sort of day, I think!

As I'm not sure if I'll post again until the January 1st date, I'll wish you a Happy New Year here before I run off to sort thread. Winter calls!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Resolutions & After-Christmas Buys

It's been a family tradition for nearly as long as I can remember: making resolutions for the New Year. I'm surprised, actually, at how many people I've spoken to that aren't making resolutions this year. You'd think with that close call on the 21st (the supposed end of the world), people'd be making all sorts of resolutions and getting out there! Perhaps they all finished their bucket lists and 100 Things To Do Before You Die before the 21st, so they've nothing left? XD

I usually write down my resolutions on a sheet of paper. Thanks to the household spirits and their mischief, I always lose this paper, no matter how careful I am. Then somehow, mysteriously, it always turns up about a week to two weeks before the end of the year. I love looking over past lists, seeing how what I thought was important each year changes and shifts. It's like a snapshot of yourself at that moment in time - it's part of why I love them. It's like all those Christmas wish lists from when you were little bitty as compared to those when you're nearing adulthood. It starts off asking for LEGOs and Barbies, puzzles and animated movies. Then you end up asking for phones, fancy shoes and clothes, money, and more 'sophisticated' grown up stuff. It's a little nostalgic, but it's part of the season, isn't it?

Last year, unfortunately, I didn't make any resolutions. I can't remember why not right now; perhaps I was tired of not having very good goals and not getting any of them done! I think this year's top priority (on the personal level) would be getting my room and the house in order. Moving makes a mess, even a month later! I still don't have a dresser unit or anything, so underthings and jammies are all still in my suitcase - which is in the middle (roughly) of the floor, as the closets are full of boxes holding the extra books I don't have the shelves for anymore!

Check out my survey here, on Quibblo, all about New Year's resolutions! I'd love for you to take the survey, as I love seeing who does what and when with these things. I also read somewhere that resolutions are possibly based on an old Germanic tradition of oaths during this season? I've never heard of that before, so don't take that as hard fact. I need to do some more research on it specifically. Has anyone heard of that before? It sounds a little shaky, but quaint.

What do you think of this pretty cover? I found it at a local store today, for about three dollars. There's a matching one in blue, and it's just so pretty! I had made a middle-of-the-year resolution last year to wear a headcovering, but that didn't last longer than a month. Perhaps I should revive it! I love headcovers, of all sorts. I think they're beautiful, feminine, and expressive. Not to mention great for days when you can't get that stubborn hair to do what you want it to!

This is the blue one. They're large enough to pull all the way forward to your forehead, though they really don't look big enough when they're just lying there. The back has a band of elastic at the bottom of what actually covers the hair, and then it tapers off into three small sections of cloth that act sort of like tassels (you can see them at the back of my neck in the picture above). It was a little fussy to get on though, which is a downside to them.

On the stitching front, I have started the next section of Autumn. I'm working sections of about thirty stitches high and all the way across, so it grows all together, gradually. I've gotten the mistakes corrected on the Winter side, and will be continuing the middle border and the edge decorations for Winter along with the Autumn side until I've got the conversion chart from Needlepaints Floss to DMC and all the Winter threads sorted out. I'll update with another picture on my next post, when there's a little more substantially finished. Right now I've gotten one of the palest colours on the right-hand side going up towards her face, and it looks....pretty puny at the moment. XD Next time!

And until next time....get preparing your resolutions! We've got a big year ahead of us, it doesn't do to be unprepared!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The Big Day Cometh....and Passeth

Well, how did it go?

The big day we wait all year for (or our kids do) has finally come and is nearly over. Was it a good one? Mine was great, with the little one sleeping in later, and allowing us to start Christmas morning at 8 rather than 5:30 as we all rather expected, and a lazy afternoon at the Grandfolks' house meant no cooking on our part. XD

Thankfully last night, we stayed in rather than going out for the service. Though the one we attended a couple of years back was beautiful, I don't think any of us were up to it last night. It was fun to be able to just rest for the evening. We watched a documentary on British WWII farms (is more interesting than it sounds) and overall had a quiet night.

Christmas for me meant a lot of dark chocolate in my stocking and a calligraphy set, as well as a Korean-English dictionary (all amazing!). I think we all preferred watching baby sibling get into his gifts - he loved his bath instruments: foam and hollow plastic musical instruments for the bathtub. He promptly turned his drum over, as it has no bottom, grabbed the drumstick, and started stirring, yelling "Cookin'! Cookin'!"

A really cute idea by the parents was something we needed to have thought of long ago: hanging stockings on doorknobs! We have had the hardest time trying to find hooks for stockings that are heavy and strong enough to hold a full stocking. Having had a fireplace at both our old home and our new, it's been nice to hang the stockings off those decorative pieces. You know the type, little reindeer and Santa Clauses, painted gold and silver with a little hook at the base for the stocking. But you put anything heavier than a paperclip in the stocking, that cute little Santa topples right over onto the hearth. For the past years, we've been stuffing the stockings and laying them in order on the hearth itself, underneath the hooks. XD But this year, we opened our doors and there's a stocking! I think that's a great way to fix the hook problem, and definitely one we'll have to remember!

Who's planning to go to the store tomorrow? Got returns, or going shopping? I think we've got the outline of a plan to go shopping tomorrow with gift money. I'm sort of wary of going, what with after-Christmas sales and such going on. But I do enjoy shopping!

On the Mirabilia front, I've got a strip all the way across finished on Autumn:

(I finished the left-hand border this evening)
Now I'll have to flip the pattern over and keep on going. I'm a little disappointed that I still can't start on Winter - all the Needlepaints Floss is for Winter, a floss I'd have to order if I want it. I'll have to find a conversion chart online so I can dig up the proper floss in plain ol' DMC rather than going all out for thread when I already dropped a bunch for the linen. I'm also planning on replacing the beads they used for Winter with similarly-coloured thread. There are a lot of surprises on this pattern when I thought I knew what I was doing! So on we go with Autumn....

My prediction was true: the Slytherin scarf is not quite done. Hopefully I'll get some good work done on it in the next couple of days and get that finished. Another gift for Christmas (one I actually asked for too!) was two decks of playing cards, so I can continue prepping for my cardweaving/tabletweaving project. I've got enough cards for the simple band I've got the pattern for, but in case I screw up (as I inevitably will!) I want to have some backup!

Righty then, I'll catch up with you all soon, and I hope you continue to have a wonderful holiday season!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Eve!

Welcome Yule!

What a great time of year. Here it's been drizzly and foggy all day long, which is awesome weather in my humble opinion. And boy has it been a busy time of year! I volunteer with the kids' group at a local church, which meant that my family and I attended the service yesterday as the children were putting on a second little Christmasy skit. The boys were Wise Men, and the girls dressed up as angels (their nativity play was last weekend, on the 16th). While the kids were all great, the guy they had as a guest 'speaker' of sorts to deliver the sermon is a complete newbie - literally just enrolled in a program to learn how to be a preacher. I very nearly fell asleep with boredom. The poor chap kept rambling on and on, going off topic a thousand times, flipping back and forth and back and forth through his Bible, and finally when it came time for the closing prayer, his phone went off. DX

Mentally drained from the morning, we all had to go straight into the car and begin an hour+ long drive to Greenville SC, to attend a wonderful concert our Grandparents had bought tickets for. Baby sibling stayed at home with them, while we drove out. Greenville definitely is a gorgeous place, and the concert hall was stunning. Really a privilege to be there!! Our spot was great too, up on a balcony, nearly dead center, so you could see everything and hear everything perfectly.

Photo taken from my Mother's phone
Not the best picture, but gives you an idea!
Now today we had the annual family reunion at a local church gym (with kitchen and dining attached of course!). It was better than previous years for us, now that we've grown up a little since the last time we attended (about four years ago), and everyone has come out of our shells more!
And that's not everything we've got yet. My Grandmother loves the candle-lit Christmas Eve service at the church I'm volunteering at, so if everyone's still in one piece we're attending that as well. Luckily it's not until 7 pm, so we've got some time to put our feet up and enjoy some Christmas cookies beforehand....but just thinking about going to that too is wearing me out. XD
Is everyone ready for the big day tomorrow? I've still got to wrap two presents. My bedroom closet has turned into a sort of catch-all for overflow presents, as I've got high shelves in each. A gift for each my Father and one brother are still waiting to be wrapped to go under the tree, so I'll have to get to that directly! The scarf for my mother is still undone, and probably is going to remain so....Perhaps if I work on nothing but for the rest of the day I could get to tasseling, but as the deadline draws nearer it seems there is more and more to do!
Finally, three cheers for K-Pop! My sister ordered Big Bang's Still Alive album for herself since she had the money to spend a little while back. Somehow or another, the order doubled, and today there were two albums in the mail! Here's mine:
Hardwood makes a comeback!
Yay for our first hardcopy of a CD from the K-Pop world! We do have two of 2NE1's albums, but they were purchased online, as MP3s, rather than getting the actual CD. Hopefully this is the first of many to be collected by these two K-Pop fans!
Here's hoping for a smooth evening, and much happiness to all! Have a good day tomorrow, everyone, and stay safe & warm! Merry Christmas, and Happy Yule to all of you!!

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Day the Mayans Didn't Predict

Well, it's that day at last. The day they talked about when I was in sixth grade and managed to terrify every single one of us - I remember the teenagers talking among themselves, failing their high school classes because 'the world was going to end anyway.'

I've always sort of not-believed in the day. I had a list of books I wanted to finish writing before that date rolled around (and I haven't done any of them!), and I had a few points I wanted to be at before I got there. None of them accomplished. It was a sort of New Year's Resolutions date without the New Year's attached. Now that the actual day has arrived it's a little sobering in that regard [but not too sobering, since I have a head cold I picked up from the sibs, and I can't think too seriously yet].

A few years ago, absolutely petrified that I wouldn't be able to have a chance to do anything with my life, I finally got a book on the Mayans, one about language and codes. I'll have to dig that book up again, it was an excellent read. He went through the whole calendar and showed how that wasn't actually an 'end' date, and other sources I've read say that the date was more probably a date in the Mayan era, when someone came to their kingdom, a sort of visitor. But hey, try explaining that to a bunch of apocalypse-primed pre-teens and see if you get any sense out of it.

Mostly I wonder what the doomsdayers are doing. Do they have a countdown? Are they sitting in their living rooms with their survival packs, just ready for some marker that everything has changed at last? What do you do when a day you've prepared for, sometimes years' worth of preparations, doesn't come? Do you pick a new 'end day' and work towards that? Do you find somebody else crying an end time that's somewhat near, and keep acting like it's imminent? What happens then? I wonder too if this will all blow over with a few quiet mutters, and then everybody acts like no one had a thought that December 21st might really be it; or if people will make a big deal of how we could have convinced ourselves of this.

On a topic more appropriate to my blog, my Mirabilia is looking good!
It's amazing what a couple days' intensive stitching can do for a project:

The Slytherin Scarf is on the last of its green bands (hopefully). Then I can add the tassels and be done with it!

Today also marks the Winter Solstice and the beginning of Yule for some people. As part of my celebration of Yule, I'll be gathering together all my fibre arts, including my cross stitch, and making an inventory of all of them. Hopefully by the end of Yule I'll have gotten them in good order, and gotten the right threads with the right projects so it'll be easier to pick up and finish each one. I'll keep you posted on all the goodies I find!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Braving Linen

The Mirabilia project is coming along well! I got a full day of stitching in on the project for the first time today, and I got a lot done (though what remains to be done is wince-worthy!). The linen is slowly becoming more familiar and easy to work with - I have had a couple of mistakes on the Winter side, but hopefully no more on the Autumn side, as there's so much done so far. I'm a little saddened that I couldn't really start with Winter, since it's so far to the right of the centre border where I started. I'm not quite comfortable enough with linen to be counting so many stitches out to begin, so I'm sticking to the browns and golds of Autumn for now. I'm terrified of not counting over enough threads, and throwing off the rest of the project. I'm bad enough with missing or moving or miscounting stitches on regular ol' 14 count Aida, this is a nightmare!

Apart from Mirabilia, there's not been much else done. I spent several days house-sitting for a relative this past week, and I finally got to catch up with all the Korean Dramas I've been watching (finished To the Beautiful You at last XD), and since I'm not fluent in Korean yet I have to read subtitles rather than just stitch along to the show. Ah well, soon enough!

I did discover the wonder of Card (or Tablet) Weaving over that week too, and I'm in the process of creating my own tablets out of a deck of playing cards. If you don't know what this, or would like to see the pattern I'll be starting with, check these links below!

       This is the pattern I'll be using (Leaves on the Vine)

And that's just the start of this somewhat-less known art. Hopefully I'll be able to figure this one out and get some new work to show you all! The thing is, you've absolutely got to pay attention to everything in tablet weaving, and between 2 year old sick siblings, not-2-year-old-but-still-sick-siblings, linen work, language studies, looking for a job, exercising somewhat regularly, and catching up with Korean dramas, I've found myself looking tiredly at a computer screen at 10 pm or later, realizing I didn't understand half the page and I need to start over or get some sleep. XD My dark circles are going to droop below my cheekbones at this rate!!

Since I'm also planning to celebrate Yule in honour of Holda, I'm rushing to get the Slytherin scarf done. I need to add a few bands yet to it to make it the right length, but I've got only until the 21st. With the way I'm working my fingers off, I can begin to see why all the fibre arts go in a box, and stay there for 12 days. It's getting blessed - and I get a break. Perhaps I can catch up on reading between the festivities? >.<

'Till my next post!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Autumn, Winter, & Peeps

I finally stopped putting off my Mirabilia linen project and got started! It looks woefully small at the moment, especially compared to how much more there is to do, but the linen is getting much more familiar to work with (knock on wood). Once I sat down and looked properly at the fabric, it wasn't that hard to figure out where to put the needle, and after watching a YouTube video to confirm, I started stitching! My only problem with it now is that I don't have all the thread colours I need in one place. Handy thing that. Currently, I have the 24 or so thread colours I had to purchase in a bag, and that's generally what I'm pulling from. The rest of in this mess:

Yes, that's right, four gallon plastic bags full of threads (how I needed to buy more threads after having all that is beyond me). They're in there somewhere! Once upon a time there was a large box all these fit in nicely in numerical order. But the box, as boxes like to do, fell apart at the seams and the threads had to move to their temporary home. I had to look through every one of these one by one to see what threads I had and didn't for this project, and finding the remainder is....daunting to say the least. XD

Otherwise, it's full steam ahead for Autumn and Winter! I'll be taking a picture of my progress every 'stitching day' and hopefully compiling them into a video to show them coming to life. Fingers crossed for that one! In the meantime, here's the first picture to show you how far I've got to go:

The pattern (which is huge once unfolded) was quite nicely printed on two sides of the same paper, divided exactly at the halfway point of it all. I just had to find the quarter mark (the brown line, which is the divider between Autumn's portrait and Winter's) and begin.

And for something cute and also seasonal, check out these quickly addictive sweeties:

Omo, they're so good! Needless to say we went through these in less than ten minutes (it would've been shorter, but some people had to come back from school to enjoy their 'gingerbread'). They don't taste like gingerbread per say, but man are they tasty. Best peep I've ever had. XD Just one question: do you eat the head off first, or the limbs?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Yarns in the Basket

This time it's not so much threads (and therefore not the X's) as the yarns that make this post special.

Note: For those of you unfamiliar with Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Houses, these may just look like scarves with interestingly paired colours (good interesting I hope!). To those of you who do know on the other hand....Feast your eyes! :D

Yay for the return of hardwood!

My current scarf - Slytherin
 I haven't, and don't plan to make a Gryffindor scarf. These scarves are for different members of my family, and Gryffindor (red and gold for those who are wondering) doesn't fit nor suit colourwise anyone in the bunch! My Mother is getting the Slytherin scarf as a present for Yule, though I started it a while ago. During the renovations of my old room and the move to our new house, what I had done was misplaced until now. I'm knitting like crazy to get it done in time!

Call me skinny, but that's ridiculously wide
LONNGGG scarves a bonus!
 My Father's scarf is Ravenclaw. This one remains without tassels at personal request, but the patterns have the scarves finished with alternating tassels of the colours used - for instance, the Slytherin scarf will have alternating green and silver tassels. I went with the 'book' colours for Ravenclaw, rather than the 'movie' colours; blue and bronze, rather than blue and white. I suppose the latter is more recognizable as Ravenclaw, but being rather a fan of the books I stuck with the original!

My personal scarf and the first of the bunch is Hufflepuff. I changed the tasseling to just black, instead of yellow and black, and ta-da! Hogwarts scarves.

Now, for the average person in an average town with no kids in the band or football teams, this is not the scarf for you. As you've seen with the previous photos, these scarves are ridiculously enormous - more fitting for Hagrid than Harry! They're nearly as wide as my torso, and even without tassels it falls below my knee. For someone six foot tall, that's a long scarf. The pattern calls for around 14 sets of stripes, and that's just too long for many people intending to wear these scarves.

The length you can deal with - looping it up, making interesting knots, etc. But they're just so wide! If you made them shorter, they'd function exceptionally well as shawls. They cover from my shoulder to my elbow, and can completely cover my head like a hood with extra to spare. To rectify this problem with the last of the scarves - the Slytherin one - I cut the number of stitches cast on by about half (going from 93 stitches, to 27). They're stitched on a circular needle set, so these scarves will get you warm in a hurry.

Why the mention of kids in band or on the football team? Anyone who's attended a football game in the fall and winter knows that those 'benches' get darn cold and stay cold, as well as being seriously uncomfortable. You've no choice - you have to stay put for the duration of the game (or at least until halftime). What do you do? Get one of these ridiculously long shawl-scarves out! Then you can have them as a blanket over the bleachers and wrap yourself and three others in warmth and comfort!

Though we love them for those cuddly reasons, the Slytherin scarf is definitely going to be much shorter, and not just for the time constraints. I'm just a little taller than my Mother, so I'm using myself as a measuring stick. I'll stop after I hit around my waist, and then tassel it. With it being not nearly so wide, it'll be perfect, both for her, and the rest of the population without giant's blood in their ancestry.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Four of a Kind and Other Threads

Hello there! Want to see what I'm up to?

This pattern is going to be made into a Welcome banner of sorts for our new home. It's taken from my Grandmother's collection of cross stitch magazines, namely 'The Nestlings' by Carolyn Shores Wright. (To see the booklet I'm talking about click here. You'll see the four birds in the upper left corner, and under the picture of the children.)

Displayed with a backdrop of the gorgeous hardwood floors

My Aunts had done other pieces from the collection, which I also found unframed in the forgotten drawers of crafts in the basement. Never fear birdies! I've come to save you!

There will be one more bird added to the right, so there will be two and two facing each other. The fabric is one of the largest....holed?.....fabrics I've ever used. Just putting the needle through the fabric and it'll fall right back out again immediately if you aren't holding tight. You can see the holes distinctly without even having to hold it up. It's a little uncomfortable to work with (and means I definitely have to use three strands instead of two), but it's a quick stitch so not so terrible. If this was a bigger, more intricate project, I'd definitely be finding a different count size.

Other threads I've got in the works will be this stunning piece from Mirabilia:

Again displayed flawlessly on hardwood.

'Autumn' and 'Winter' from Maidens of the Seasons series, to be stitched on grey linen. I've got the pattern, the linen, and I recently acquired the colours. All that's left is to stitch. Having never stitched on linen before, however, it's taking me a moment to get to that part. I was a little disappointed with Spring and Summer; is it just me, or do the colder seasons have more detail Spring and Summer are really pale in colour and don't seem to have the 'awe factor' I got when I first spotted the Autumn/Winter set. I saw that pattern, and I immediately knew what I was going to be getting. Lovely, rich colours, explosion of detail; something that just catches your eye. Spring/Summer just don't do that. I purposely saught out the previous seasons, so I could get the set and do them all together, but it was really anticlimactic to see the paler pair. But maybe it is just me?

To fill in the gaps of time between stitching up the birdies and putting off figuring out linen, I've found this awesome little cutie. (For those who don't want to click, look below.)

Sadly, without the hardwood

I'm thinking of making it into a pillow for my bed, and putting 어서 오세요 ('welcome' in Korean) along the left and right sides. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it in the blue & green tones, though, or make it up in a different colour set. Hmm.....decisions, decisions....

Stay tuned for more threads, updates, and thoughts (and pictures! and perhaps more hardwood!)!