Thursday, 25 April 2013

Freebies!

The Freebies list I promised is added at last! It's over there on the side, underneath the tags. All of them are pretty high quality patterns (by this I mean detailed, intricate, on the larger side, or appeals to my sense of beauty), but there are also some simpler, cuter ones. I tried to describe some of them a little where I felt they needed it, and there are a few links to the same blog or website but on different pages (e.g. Oriental Designs from the Spanish Blog is a page of the blog Punto De Cruz Gratis that I have on there separately). I hope that by doing so you can better see which patterns and themes you'll be interested in rather than just a bunch of 'Various Patterns' links and whole websites to trawl through for your preferred themes. There should be plenty more added as time goes by - searching for free patterns has become somewhat of a hobby of mine! I especially love holiday themed ones, and series of patterns, so look to see more of that type added soon.

I've thought about doing a 'blog roll,' or a list of the blogs I read, but I don't read all that many. I mean, I love reading People I Want To Punch In The Throat for a good laugh whenever I need one, but I don't follow many blogs. Maybe it has something to do with my perpetual avoidance of routinely doing something. DX

Stitching updates: I've been doing the leaves and upper border on Mirabilia one thread colour at a time - stitching all of this colour, then moving on to the next colour - because the shading on so many small objects was killing me. I'm nearly finished with outlining her necklace, but there's still plenty to do with filling in the blending on the sleeves and fruits. I'm debating pulling out the blend colour I did for the wheat sheaves and replacing them with a separate, solid colour. The obviousness of the blending is bugging me. Even more so because it's going to be a major colour in the leaves above, and the last thing I want to do is a bunch of big pieces with a blend that doesn't work. *Sigh.*

On Winter's side, I've started the snowflake-like beading, but with ultra-bright white. Then I'll be stitching in where the beads go on the original pattern (no beads on my work this time!) around the branches. Winter has branches, Autumn has leaves. I'm going to be working from the top down on Winter, I know for certain, continuing the lines from Autumn's border and starting from the top of Winter's head. I've also been thinking that I'll keep the blue scheme. Perhaps it can show others what it looks like when you use the recommended colours instead of the discontinued Needlepaints. So many replacements!!! Will I ever keep track of them all? One thing though is that I'm not sure that the model piece for the cover of the pattern was stitched in DMC for Autumn's side. The colours are so much brighter and richer on this side of the border - it looks paler and more brown on the pattern picture. Hmm....

I know I promised a picture on this round, but I really want to get the upper border done at least before I snap a shot and post it, so you can really see the progress on this piece. I've really slowed down with the leaves, but hopefully I'll get back up to speed soon. Though it's been on my mind lately of what I'm going to do with this work when I'm finished with it! Just frame it and leave it? Make it into....something? What would you do with your work if you did something this big? What have you done in the past with special pieces like this? Let me know, I'd love the input!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Mixed Bag

Loads of updates going to the ol' blog! On top of the search function and Halloween countdown, I've added a follow by email widget, like/share buttons for Facebook and Twitter, a tag cloud, a page on Gluten and Blood Type Living, and the last four posts I've made show up on the side now! Added to the wonderful hits I've been getting, it's been a great exercise in exploring all the neat doo-dads you can put on a blog!

Right. Mirabilia. Autumn is coming along excellently! I've put in some good hours on her, and I've got her face completely finished, as well the outer and inner border. I've made another replacement on the piece - the corners of each frame around Autumn and Winter are stitched in metallic gold thread. I picked up a metallic red, a very Autumn colour, once on a trip to the Hobby Lobby, so I decided to use it instead of going to get a gold. The switch really makes the piece pop! The leafy design at the top, above the Maiden herself, is nearly finished, though I'm really not liking the blended colour. The wreath on her head had a 'blend colour,' or two different colour threads combined to make the two strands to stitch with, made of really close green tones. It looks brilliant - just like another green thread. But the blend thread for the wheat sheaves and the leaves in the top border is made of a yellow and an orange, and you can tell right away that there are two different threads there. It looks like a mess. I really don't like blending colours. I'll deal with French knots, half stitches, and backstitching messes, but blending just doesn't work for me. DX

An addition to the pattern: The necklace around Autumn's neck is done with real beads, meaning that there are white beads next to the palest parts of her neck and chest. But once you switch out those beads with stitches in the equivalent colour, you can't tell it's a necklace anymore. So, using the metallic red I used on the corners, I've outlined all the 'beads' in the necklace, adding a bit of definition and a hint of sparkle. It turned out really well! I'm considering repeating the same on the strand lower down. Beneath her hands, holding up the harvest bundles she's carrying, and covering the cuffs of her sleeves, there is a criss-crossing strand of light red something. This is also done with beads, but I don't know if it's supposed to be a strand of beads like the necklace, or of some kind of red berry. Outlining these stitches is a must for the same definition as in the original beaded pattern, but I still can't figure out what they're supposed to be! Does anyone have a clue what this strand is supposed to represent?

Finally on the subject of Mirabilia, I'm thinking I may have found the answer to why Winter has been so odd on the colouring. Winter in the original pattern is stitched in Needlepaints floss, not DMC. Unfortunately, those Needlepaint flosses are all of them discontinued. The closest matches that they posted on their website are definitively not purple, but very blue. I think that I would probably have had a better time of finding matching colours if I went by eye on this one. But do I rip out what I have, or continue with a blue-green tone theme? (The original being purple and grey.)

Another thing I worked on yesterday was a dress jacket. I think the style itself is called a Spinster jacket, or something like that. I have an old Halloween costume, a princess/queen that is a full gown with a lace-up bodice. I disassembled the top bodice so I knew the cut I needed for the puffed sleeves and the correct size for bodice. I've created a new piece out of pine green felt and a black printed fabric for the sleeves. It was nearly finished in one night, but at four A.M. the sewing machine broke - broken needle, and, once replaced, the new needle keeps catching on something that I can't find. So it's basically completed but for the setting of the last sleeve. The puffed part of the sleeve is even attached already; I just need the last part of it. ARGH! Hopefully I can figure this guy out, because I love the two fabrics together, and the pattern actually came out pretty well.

I'll keep working away at the Mirabilia in the meantime. Soon, I'll be going back down and stitching the remainder of the skirt (the other half of the pattern is her flowing skirt). Next post will be a picture update on Autumn, and hopefully the jacket as well! Until then, keep an eye out for further updates and changes to the blogsie, check back soon!

May your stitching be tangle free! ~x~

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Review: King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Pancake Mix

Today I finally cracked into the box of pancake mix that's been sitting on the shelf for a few weeks. I got it on a whim, along with a bread mix, last time I was shopping for gluten free products, and just forgot about it.

So. It's a little different from other pancake batters. You get it all stirred up - I did the whole package, using oil rather than butter - and then you leave it. You just let it sit there for 10 minutes. The box says this is to allow it to thicken. When you mix all the ingredients together (milk, mix, oil/butter, and eggs), you have a very loose batter, with the usual lumps you get in a pancake batter. I set the kitchen timer for ten, and then spent that time looking for the cord to the griddle. -_- Things are never in the same place twice in this house, which includes the domain of the kitchen! Cord located, timer ringing, you grab your preferred method of measuring out your batter onto the griddle and get cooking. It actually is a lot thicker once those minutes are up; about as thick as usual batter (meaning the bowl is heavier when you pick it up!!). I used a 1/3 cup measure rather than the 1/4 cupful they recommend, and I got 18 pancakes out of it. They smell and taste a little like 'restaurant pancakes.' (Think Denny's.)

I was surprised at how quickly the first batch cooked. 350 degrees, and they were done on one side in about half the time of a normal pancake. Maybe we just always make bigger pancakes and are used to them cooking slowly? Anyway, on the plate they're very buttery and light. They taste pretty good. I enjoyed them.

The flour mix itself is made out of whole grain brown rice flour, potato and tapioca starch, regular rice flour, baking powder, 'natural flavours,' salt, and xanthum gum. It's produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and comes with the requisite warning not to eat the flour, dough or batter raw. Honestly.

So if you're looking for a good, quick, breakfast solution, definitely a thumbs-up on this one! I'm freezing the rest for later weekends, so we'll see how they hold up there. Cheers!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Updates, Pictures, Posts, Halloween, & More!

Yay! I'm back! And I can upload pictures again!! Right. Time to catch all and sundry up to date with what's been cooking over here.

Thanks to another house-sitting stay, and nearly two weeks of stitching time, as well as a blissfully wonderful supplies stop in the sale section of the local crafts shop, I've gotten A LOT done since my last post. Phew. So far, I haven't added much to the Mirabilia, with only part of the neck/chest and half the head finished:



I have, however discovered the awesomeness of The Frosted Pumpkin (their Facebook page is here, with lots more pictures and projects by people all over who are stitching their cute work). I have several of their patterns to work on now, including the Dessert of the Month Club set. I've been working on that one steadily (about one dessert a day - hey, they're small), until I came to a sudden halt with the second row. URGH! I got rid of my knots curse (long story; blame my Mother), just to run into the inability-to-count curse. DX So I'm figuring out what to do there, but for now, just revel in their cuteness!

The names of the months are stitched in Korean underneath - January being the little cupcake, to April on the right as the slice of carrot cake. Beneath them are July's and August's desserts, which is where I ran into trouble. They are literally finished, minus the blue plate July's strawberry shortcake will rest on, when I finally clued into the fact that May's dessert will be a full 'dessert' beyond January. >_< The obvious decision would be to rip out the two I've done beneath and start over, from the other side, with better spacing to fit inside the top row. The thing is, I think, that the top row is full of small-width desserts, while the second row is much bigger. On top of the two wide desserts I've done, there's a flan as well that's nearly as big as the shortcake (June's is Bubble Tea, and that's much smaller in width). So. Big sigh. Puzzle for a solution. At this moment, I'm considering finishing them all wonky, and cutting them out, a square of dessert for each month, and maybe stitching them on a pillow like confetti (instead of straight, even rows).

Part of the great-big-supply-buy (which would have cost well over $120, but thanks to all being on sale, I got for just over $30), was an awesome pattern-book of Carousel horses. Is my family the only one that thinks Carousel horses are just for children? Everyone thinks I'll be making them for kids, and I'm thinking they look beautiful, I want to keep them!


6 days of stitching later, and I've got a Halloween Horse nearly completed, and moving onto the surroundings! Really, really in love with the patterns in this book. I've got the thread and fabric for another horse - Thanksgiving - all set up and ready to go for when I've finished this one. I'll probably stitch all of them one day! But Halloween and Thanksgiving in particular really captured my eye.

The rest of my haul included a ten dollar bag of several yards of fine linen, as well as some smaller pieces of different coloured fabrics, "English Roses" from Mirabilia, and Romantic Mandarin Ducks by Pinn Stitch. LOVE. Very happy with how far my money went here, and hope to make such a good deal again in the future!

Updates to the blog are majorily singular; namely the addition of the countdown-to-Halloween widget on the side there. LOVE IT!! I saw it one someone else's blog, and knew I had to have it! Knowing not a thing about adding widgets, it was a learning experience for me, so expect to see more changes in the future! It's been suggested to me that I add a "Blog Roll," and I'm definitely thinking about it now. Perhaps at least, a few sites that have freebie patterns I love? If I link 'em, you'll love 'em - I am no fan of the simple freebie, me. I love patterns that are beautiful, blow your breath away, even if they take a long time to finish. So when I find freebies I like, they're pretty good quality. Lately I've been lucky to find some excellent freebies around, particularly related to Halloween (which, if you couldn't tell by now, is my favourite holiday!), so I'll get to work on adding some links there for fellow fans of freebies!

In the meantime, may your stitching be tangle (and knot) free! Until my next post. (: