Sunday, 30 November 2014

Decorating for Christmas

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and the weekend closest to 1st December, which means it's time to put out the Christmas decorations!

I love decorating for Christmas.  I get it from my mum.  When we were kids there were decorations everywhere - in the kitchen, in the hall, in the lounge room, even in the bathrooms!  Hanging decorations was one of my favourite family Christmas activities - that and looking at Christmas lights.

It still is one of my favourite Christmas activities.  Finding unique or special ornaments on my travels, reliving the memories as I decorate, or creating something special of my own.  These are some of my favourites on display this year.

The cross stitch Nativity scene on plastic canvas.  I started this about 10 years ago, although it took me awhile to finish.  It was a 3-parter in a CrossStitcher magazine probably about 15 or 20 years ago.  We had one of the parts and Mum managed to track down the others so I could stitch the series.  There's also an angel, a star, and the Inn Keeper and his wife, but I need to buy more stands to display them!  I've used game piece stands which work a treat.

Blackwork Christmas Angel.  This one also came from a magazine, although I can't remember which one!  It was one of the patterns I stitched in 2012 when I lived in the UK. She was meant to have a border around her, but I didn't like it, so I left it off - after all, life's too short to stitch background.

My cross stitch advent calendar - another one from a magazine!  I think this was also from CrossStitcher.  There's a stitched picture on each reverse side.  4 and 15 are missing because I have to fix their hangers.  Mum made the hanging quilt.  It has tabs to hang on a dowel hanger, but I'm using a skirt hanger in the meantime.

Ninja turtle baubles.  They were surprisingly easy to make  - green baubles, ribbon, googly eyes and some craft glue.

My Christmas decorations from my travels in the UK and Europe.  They should be hanging on the tree, but my 7 month old kitten thinks the Christmas tree is her new climbing frame and that anything hanging on it is hers to attack by right.  So instead they are on sticky hooks on one of the high kitchen cabinets to keep them safe!  The teacup and crown come from the Royal Palaces in England, the shamrock from Ireland, the purple bell is from Germany, the man in the red circle is from Iceland, and the two on red ribbons are from Harrods.

My second advent calendar - Lego Star Wars!  Very excited to start this tomorrow. Each day you get a little thing to create or build.  I had to hunt it down online because the only one I could get locally was the Lego City one.  And Star Wars is so much cooler.

Discworld Christmas cards.  I bought a set of 4 one year, gave two away as presents, and kept the other two as decorations.  They did hang on my wall for about two years before joining the Christmas decorations box.  Artwork by the very talented Paul Kidby

The Willow Tree nativity scene.  I love Willow Tree figurines - they are some of the only dust-collectors that I own.  The nativity scene is just stunning in its simplicity.  There are a couple of other sets you can buy to build on it - the wise men, and a set of animals.  Maybe one year.

Do you decorate for Christmas?  Do you go all out, or only have a few special decorations?  Do you prefer to have colour themes, or do you keep and collect your decorations to use year after year?  Are you a geeky Christmas person, or more traditional?  Religious or mainstream? Or maybe you don't do Christmas at all - maybe you do Hanaka or forego religious celebrations. I'd love to hear how you decorate (or don't) for Christmas, or any other holidays.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Geeky Christmas Designs

The count down to Christmas is on.  Advent starts next Sunday, and the Christmas decorations will go up.  The stores have had them on display for at least a month.  Tuesday will be one month to go.

However, there's still plenty of time to start and finish your Christmas stitching!

I've designed a number of Christmas cards and decorations that are now for sale in my Etsy store.  As a true fangirl, these designs are all geeky in nature, incorporating as many fandoms as I could.

Ron and Harry wish you a very Magical Christmas.
The TARDIS Christmas set, featuring a pair of earrings, and two different cards.
How cute are the earrings?!
Why not say "Happy Christmas" in Klingon?  Perfect for any Star Trek fans
In case you were wondering, it says QISmas DatIvjaj 'ej DIS chu' DatIvja 
Death as the Hogfather, as portrayed in the film Hogfather
Death as a more modern Hogfather.  Both cards are available in the one set
On a side note, these designs also don't have snow.  My biggest bug-bear about standard Christmas designs is that they are predominately just snow scenes.  Being Australian, snow doesn't really feature in my Christmas celebrations, so it doesn't appear in my designs.  Christmas designs for the Southern Hemisphere.  But feel free to use a few white beads or extra white stitches to add some in if you're in the Northern Hemisphere! :)

Happy Christmas and Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Gotta Stitch'em All - Pokemon memories and a new cross stitch pattern

Pokemon dominate a lot of my teenage memories, in particular family holidays.  Bare with me - there is a stitch-y point to this blog I promise.

When I was growing up, my father's family lived an 8 hour drive north of us, and my mother's family lived a solid 2 day drive (as in 10 hour days) south of us.  So any holiday involving visiting the family meant a lot of driving.  Flying wasn't an option to visit Dad's family (cattle station in the middle of nowhere), and with a family of 6 it would have been too expensive to fly to visit Mum's family.  So we drove.  We got good at driving.  In my memories we were pretty good travellers - it was just what we did on family holidays.  We learnt to entertain ourselves.  I tended to stitch, my three brothers tended to read or play Game Boys.
Family camping holiday 2004
Mum, Dad, Grandma, three brothers, and exchange student
from Japan
 The game of choice tended to be Pokemon.

In fact, I don't remember their Game Boys being used for anything else.

One particularly strong travelling Pokemon memory is in 2004 when we went on a four-week driving holiday around Central Australia.  Dad had fitted cigarette lighters in the back of the Landcruiser and the boys (my three brothers plus our exchange student from Japan) had adapters so they could run their Game Boys through the cigarette lighters and charge their Game Boy at the same time.  This did mean though that as soon as Dad turned off the car, the Game Boy would shut down.  The catch-cries of the camping trip quickly became:
Family camping holiday 2004
All 8 of us (I'm taking the photo) crammed into the car
Game Boys were down long enough to smile for the photo!
"Don't turn off the car, I haven't saved yet" and "I can't save, I'm in the middle of a battle".

"I'm in the middle of a battle" is still the catch-cry of our family, particularly when someone doesn't respond immediately!
At Uluru (Ayre's Rock) 2004
Although they are now all in their 20s (or almost - 2 months to go for the youngest), Pokemon is still a favoured game amongst my brothers and I.  My eldest brother recently loaded a version of Pokemon onto my iPad... not a lot else was accomplished for a good few weeks!

To celebrate this awesome, long-lived, much-loved game I have designed some cross-stitch patterns (I told you there was a point to this ramble!)

It started with a Pokemon Alphabet.  This is the Pokemon Alphabet as determined by my youngest brother.  I tried to get my brothers and sister-in-law to collaborate on designing the perfect Pokemon Alphabet but that proved too much of a challenge!!  To make everyone happy though, custom orders are available for this pattern - choose your favourite 26 Pokemon and have an alphabet designed just for you - check out the Etsy page for details.

For all those people (like me) who never managed to catch all 151 Pokemon, there is now the "Gotta Catch'em All" cross stitch pattern, featuring the original 151 Pokemon.

It is a massive pattern, fitting into an A1 frame, but how cute are they?!

While I was looking out mini sprites to turn into cross stitch patterns, I became a bit overwhelmed with how big the Pokemon universe has become!  I tend to only think of the original 151.  No - now there are over 700 Pokemon!  719 to be exact I think.  Well, I can't stop at just 151, now can I?

So now there is the Generation II Pokemon cross stitch pattern, featuring the Pokemon from the Silver, Gold and Crystal versions of the game - numbers 152-251.  This also fits into an A1 frame.

Generations III, IV, V and VI are in the planning stages and will probably be finished over the Christmas holidays when I have 4 or 5 weeks off work :)

Happy Stitching, and remember - Gotta Stitch'em All!!