Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Best Laid Plans ...

J played in a bar billiards contest this weekend and because his car is in the garage he needed to use mine on Saturday. I had my week end mapped out.

- Cook breakfast
- Wish husband luck and kiss him goodbye
- Stitch all day, stopping only to prepare and eat food

- Cook breakfast
- Wish husband luck and kiss him goodbye
- Visit Mum and Dad
- Do grocery shopping
- Stitch for the rest of the day
This is how I actually spent my weekend.

- Cook breakfast
- Wish husband luck and kiss him goodbye
- Waste time doing nothing in particularly for an hour and a half
- Work on Tree Creepers for an hour and a half
- Stop for lunch and put on a casserole for dinner
- Spend two hours clearing ivy and nettles from lane
- Work on Pouchette for an hour and an half
- Start to vacuum bedroom
- Investigate why vacuum cleaning is not cleaning carpet
- Spend 30 minutes removing hair extensions from vacuum brushes
- Vacuum bedroom
- Spend 2 hours spring cleaning half of bedroom
- Greet returning husband with kiss
- Eat dinner
- Collapse in a heap

Sunday (revised plan to finish cleaning bedroom)
- Take down vertical blinds from patio window (with J’s help), notice that patio door needs cleaningv - Realise there is not enough time for cooked breakfast, have cereals instead
- Wish husband luck and kiss him goodbye
- Put blinds into bath to soak, notice that stair walls are grubby
- Fill bucket with soapy water to wash patio doors, notice sink is looking stained
- Poor bleach down plug hole and fill sink with bleach/water
- Wash down stair walls then hall walls, doors and door frames
- Wash down patio doors
- Remove plug in kitchen sink and notice that water is slow to empty
- Use plunger to unblock kitchen sink and notice that water is running into cupboard under sink
- Drain water from unbend under sink and notice that it is full of gunge
- Dismantle plumbing system below sink and notice that it is all full of gunge
- Remove as much gunge as possible and leave plumbing in hot water and disinfectant
- Visit Mum and Dad
- Do grocery shopping
- Return home
- Finish spring cleaning the bedroom
- Clean patio door windows
- Put away shopping
- Start dinner
- Greet returning husband with a kiss
- Clean and reassemble plumbing with help of J
- Eat dinner
- Collapse in a heap!

Some weekends don’t work out the way we would like!

Happy Stitching

Friday, 8 February 2013


When I first heard about the Harikuyo festival I didn’t have any broken needles to lay to rest so I devised my own needle ceremony. On 8 February each year I put aside an hour or two to clean and sort my hand-made Japanese needles. I like to spend this time in quiet contemplation of what my needles and my other embroidery tools mean to me. Cleaning them and sorting them into their needle felt is my way of showing them appreciation for the joy they bring me.

This year I have broken three needles. This rather surprised me as I have rarely broken a needle in the past. All of the broken needles were size 10 bead needles. I placed them into the felt patch at the back of my Harikuyo needle book, placed there for that very purpose.

© Carol-Anne Conway

If I were to be true to Harikuyo, I would now sink my needles into a piece of tofu and bury them but I’m not sure if I want to part with them. I will contemplate their fate while I clean my needles this evening.

© Carol-Anne Conway

Susan has set up a Mr Linky for everyone to share their Harikuyo blogs this weekend.

Happy Harikuyo

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Bird’s Breast

I would have liked to start with the bark. I thought that by the time I had done that, my stitching would have improved enough to tackle the bird. However, I am doubtful that I will have sufficient time to complete this project (my deadline is the middle of March). I plan to stitch the bird first and see how much time I have remaining. If I am short of time, I may have to rethink how I will stitch the bark and ivy or even abandon this project all together!

I began by stitching his breast. According to my bird book and the photographs I have seen it is white but, of course, white is never just white. I wanted to capture the shading and the shape of his body.

© Carol-Anne Conway

I stitched this during the evening using my daylight magnifier. I thought I was doing quite well! The next morning by daylight, albeit grey, miserable daylight, I could see that the colours are all off. I think that I will take this out and stitch it again. I also think that the angle of the stitches is not quite right.

Happy Stitching

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Tree Creepers

The theme for our member’s exhibition is ‘Five Minutes from Home’. The idea is to look for inspiration close to home. I did not even have to leave the house! A few years ago a large willow tree in the neighbouring school grounds was severely pollarded. It never recovered from the shock and died. The remaining trunk is slowly decaying but Mother Nature is quick to take advantage of every resource. Very soon the ivy began its invasion and I have watched it creep ever upwards. Of the many birds that visit the trunk every day is the tree creeper searching for insects within the fissures of the rotting wood. I decided to make these two 'Tree Creepers' the subject of my embroidery.

Photographing the peeling bark and ivy was easy. As the tree is opposite my bedroom window, I was elevated to the right height and close enough to use a standard zoom lens. Capturing an image of the Tree Creeper proved far more difficult. I spent a long time with the camera trained on a spot that he visited frequently – except when I had the camera set up. Even when he did come into frame, he moved so quickly that by the time I had taken the shot he was gone! Eventually I did get a photograph I could work with and managed to cut the bird from that and position him on the piece of tree trunk that I had photographed previously.

My picture was good enough for me to trace the outline of my design but I will be using better pictures that I have found on the web as a guide when it comes to colour placement and stitching the details. Armed with a printout of one of these and a list of the DMC threads in my stash I set off to a purchase more threads, especially browns, and some linen. I wanted a high count linen; the highest that my LNS had was 34 count. I purchased some anyway but latter decided that it was not what I wanted for this project. I sourced some 55 count Kingston linen on the web and ordered two small pieces in white and cream. I decided to use the white for this project.

I printed the merged photograph larger than the finished design and knocked back the colours so it was very pale. I drew an outline directly onto this copy, leaving out any parts I did not want and slightly altering a few of the ivy leaves. I then transferred this onto tracing paper and used the photocopier to reduce the tracing to the required size. Because I had traced the outline with a strong black line the reduced image was still clear enough to show through the fabric without the aid of a light box. I traced the design onto the fabric with a Micron archival pen. I was pleased with the tracing except for a slight bleed at the end of his beak – probably the worst place for it to happen. I may have to extend his beak slightly to cover the outline.

© Carol-Anne Conway

I have set the fabric up in my seat frame. I backed it with a light weight calico and placed a piece of cling film over the fabric before inserting it into the frame. I am very lazy about taking embroidery out of the hoop – I try to make it extremely tight which is quite hard work, once it is done I like it to stay put! I will tear back the cling film where I plan to stitch and hope that the remaining film will protect the ground fabric.

© Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching

Friday, 1 February 2013

Progress Report – February 2013

I have managed to do a little stitching most mornings but never as much as I would like, of course! However, I feel I have made good progress with Pouchette. For a long time I felt that I had done just under half of the main design. Suddenly I seem to have most of the main design on side one done. I still have all of the background to seed and side two to do as well but this feels like a big step forward.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

What I have not done this month is any stitching in the evenings (except one evening this week). I think that is because it has been such a dull, grey month that I am feeling S.A.D. – seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues. I’m not saying that I am depressed, definitely not, but I am totally fed-up of the greyness and feel tired and lack-lustre in the evenings. However, this week I realised that nearly a month had passed without me starting either of the projects I mentioned in my previous Progress Report and I resolved to do something about it. 'Nothing' is not entirely true; I had done some design work on the computer and purchased some supplies so there was nothing to stop me getting on with either of them. I’ve decided to do a piece for the exhibition and the other evening I transferred the design, framed up and started stitching.

© Carol-Anne Conway

I think that I should put Pouchette aside for now and make this my morning project but I am enjoying the beading so much I cannot tear myself away for it.

The bird thimble holder, which I forgot to mention last month, has not progress very much. His body is complete and I have begun to make the many, many tail feathers but because I usually work on these during the evening they have fallen victim of my S.A.D.ness. I will probably resume work on this when the lighter evenings return.

This morning was another dull, grey morning so the photographs are very poor quality today!

Happy Stitching