Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Mario Alphabet

Time to show off another new pattern - this time one designed for my bible study group.  It's The Alphabet according to Mario.

When I first moved back to my home town in 2009, I started a bible study group with my fellow young adults (aged 18 to "I feel too old"). We'd meet on Thursday nights to have dinner together and do a reading and study (if there was more than 2 of us, which often there wasn't, there being only about 5 of us at the time). After I moved overseas in 2011, this group more and more became Mario Kart. It was refered to as "The Gospel According to Mario".  When I returned again in 2014, I found Mario Kart had become Thursday Night Dinner as other people had left and joined our little group (which is now up to about 10 or 12 people - huge!) but it is still occasionally referred to as Mario Kart by some of the older members of our church.

This alphabet is for them.

Cross stitch pattern now available on Etsy.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Whovian Wedding - it's a new pattern!

It's about time I posted about another new pattern.  This one leads on from my prevous blog post about stitching presents for friends' weddings.

For a long time I wasn't sure how to design a geeky wedding sampler - I just couldn't get it to feel/look right.  Then someone contacted me via Etsy to ask about a custom wedding pattern featuring Rory and Amelia Pond and the TARDIS, and the pattern finally came together in my head.  The person never got back in touch to finalise their order but that's okay because now I have what I think is an awesome Whovian Wedding Sampler!

Patterns now available from my Esty store
There are two different styles to choose from - casual Amy and Rory, and formal Amy and Rory... mostly because I couldn't decide which one I liked best!  Also included is the alphabet and number guide so you can customise it to suit your own needs.

Happy Stitching

Friday, 20 February 2015

Wedding Stitches

A close friend of mine recently got married to another good friend.  I've known her since she was born (we were at the same church) - she's about 10 years younger than me and has always been like a little sister.  Him I did Little Theatre with for a number of years with all the usual shenanigans.

Their wedding was beautiful - such love and celebration.  They're both committed Christians which gave the whole ceremony a loving feel - lots of thanksgiving and worship intermingled throughout.

As a wedding gift, I cross-stitched "Tandem Wedding", a pattern from an old issue of the World of Cross Stitch magazine.  It's one I've stitched before when another friend got married in 2010.  This time I changed the colours to suit their wedding theme - rather than strong pinks and blues throughout, I changed them to soft greens and peach.  I also changed the colour of the groom's hair to match.
Tandem Wedding, stitched in 2015
 The first time I stitched this pattern, I changed the colour of the hearts to match that friend's theme, and used metallic threads to add some extra sparkle.
Stitched in 2010
I've put together a bit of a time-lapse video of the stitch as it progressed.  I had 8 days to stitch and frame the gift, so was doing a bit of a count-down on Instagram as I went.  It's the first time I've done one of these so I hope it works!

Otherwise it'll just have to be the still version

The only other time I have stitched a wedding present for a friend (not too many of my close friends have gotten married (or I just haven't been invited)) was in 2011 when another close Theatre friend got married.  I'd loved this pattern for years, so was very excited to finally have a reason to stitch it.  The classic style of this really suited my friend and her husband and was the perfect pattern.
To Have and To Hold - Verachtert
Stitched in 2011
Do you stitch wedding presents for friends?  How do you choose the right pattern to stitch, given the plethora of wedding cross-stitch patterns available?

Happy Stitching!

Second Birthday

Like second breakfast, only different!

It's been more than a week since I last blogged (after blogging so regularly for a few weeks I feel really bad) but I've had limited internet over the last week.  Firstly because I was in Brisbane and then because I was travelling for work.  So it is time to play catch-up.
View over the river and South Bank
- taken from the pool at our motel
This weekend I was in Brisbane for my Second Birthday.  (the second celebration for my birthday, not the birthday I turned 2). A few friends (including my parents) and I flew down to Brisbane for a non-sexist-girly weekend.  We were joined by other Brisbane friends throughout the weekend and had an absolute blast.
Chilling out in Brisbane - A, S, K, B and I enjoying the pool.
My brother C and his girlfriend joined us for breakfast on Sunday.
There was shopping, eating, swimming, eating, chats, eating, theatre, and did I mention eating?  In all honesty we didn't eat that much, it just felt like it from the photos!  We visited the Eat Street Markets (so many different types of food and all at reasonable prices - recommend checking it out); went for a Chocolate High Tea at the Stamford (not the best High Tea I've ever been to, but still pretty good if you ignore the "Glass Incident"); found food on Queen St Mall at midnight; and had morning tea at Room With Roses.  Plus breakfasts, that's a fair bit of eating really...
Morning tea at Room with Roses
For the High Tea, we were joined by 4 other friends - two ex-Emerald friends, B's sister-in-law and her sister.  The food was pretty scrumptious, although gluten-free options were limited for K, and the setting was lovely.  The only incident for the day was the Glass Incident.  One of the waiters dropped a tray of wine glasses right behind our table and sent glass shards flying under the feet and chairs of several of our party.  I found out later that several of the glasses hit my friend S which was pretty scary.  Thankfully no-one was hurt and everyone was very apologetic about the incident.  It gave us a story to tell at any rate!
High Tea at the Stamford - me with B's sister-in-law and her sister;
B with ex-Emerald friends, Mum & Dad with M; A, K and S.
The main highlight of the weekend (apart from the High Tea) was going to see Wicked.  This is the fourth time I have seen the show, and I still love it.  The costumes are second to none, the scenery is elaborate, the music is catchy and enjoyable, and the actors are first rate.  I saw the production twice in Melbourne (2008 and 2009) and then in Sydney (also 2009).  I had to stop myself from singing out loud to the music this time!  Two things made this production even more exciting for me: firstly Simon Gallaher was playing the role of the Wizard (my childhood favourite actor), and secondly the people I saw it with.  You see, the first time I saw Wicked I saw it with Mum, the second time I saw Wicked I saw it with S, the third time I saw Wicked I saw it with B.  This time, I saw it with Mum and S and B!
It's a green thing.  A, K, S, B, M, Mum, Dad and I had a very wicked time.
After the show I managed to find a uni friend and fellow EQ OT in the crowd which was very exciting, and we dragged her and her husband off to join us for a very late dinner (we were so over chocolate after the High Tea!).
Very late dinner.  OT friend, her husband, and another
ex-Emerald friend joined us - it was so much fun!
It was a brilliant weekend away.  Unfortunately I didn't organise things well at work and followed my two nights away in Brisbane with two nights away for work.  Good thing Mum and Dad could keep looking after my cats!

Stitching update coming soon (I hope!)

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Turning 30 Whovian style

It was my birthday on Friday :)  I turned 30.
The cake my Dad made and
decorated for me
I had very mixed emotions about turning 30 - I'm sure many people do.  Part of me was happy or unconcerned, part of me was using it as an excuse for multiple shopping trips, and part of me was totally dreading it.  I was feeling like I hadn't achieved all these things I thought I was supposed to do by 30, feeling like my life didn't have a lot of direction or purpose, that I wasn't sure what the hell I was meant to be doing with my life. 

I got over it (mostly) and life seems to have carried on as normal.

In the end, my 30th was a pretty relaxed affair with work for the day, and then a family dinner to the Chinese restaurant.

On the Saturday we had a bit of a 'do at my parent's place.  It was Doctor Who themed because I am a geek and proud of it.  However for the guests (none of whom are Whovians and very few of whom are into dressing up) I told them it was Time and Space, which meant they could dress as anything from time and/or space.  Most people didn't get into it, a couple wore themed shirts, but a few went right out which was awesome.  The main thing was that I had a lot of fun decorating everything in blue and silver, pulling out every Whovian thing I owned.  I even bought a TARDIS dress especially for the night.
My TARDIS dress
Ancient Greeks and an astronaut dropped in for the night
David Tennant with his TARDIS, Mr Spck and Princess Leah
Whovian decorations on display
The main celebration for my 30th birthday though is this weekend: a few friends (including my parents, who I count as my friends) and I are heading to Brisbane for the weekend.  We're meeting up with some other friends for a High Tea Saturday afternoon, and then some of us are off to QPAC to see Wicked.  This will be the fourth time I've seen Wicked and I am so excited!

In other news...

I've been posting stitching updates on Instagram lately, including a Super Hero Swap I've been involved in, and the Floss Tube Photo A Day challenge.  I'm @FangirlStitches on Instagram so jump on there and follow me.  I'll post a bit of a project update on Blogger too next week.

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

How To Cross Stitch - The French Knot

One of the the most hated stitches in cross stitch is the French knot.  More so than back stitch, it's one of those things you either tolerate or hate.  But I've been over that before in my Beads vs French knot post.

Sometimes though, there's no escaping it.  Usually because I don't have the right coloured bead.  Plus, I'm very biased and there are plenty of people who like the french knot.  It has a flower-like appearance and can be very effective, particularly in landscape scenes.  

Honestly, it's not that complicated a knot - I just find it rather fiddly.

The French Knot

1. Come up through the whole, and pull your thread through (taking care not to pull it out completely!)

2.  Wrap the thread around the needle twice.  Some patterns call for the thread to be wrapped more or less times, twice seems to be the most common in my experience.

3.  Push the needle back into the same hole you came up out of.  To make your knot more secure, you may want to come down one fibre over so the thread doesn't pull through.  

4. Hold the thread taut, and push the needle all the way through.

5.  Carefully pull the rest of the thread through the knot.  Don't pull too hard or you will pull it all the way through.

6.  Your finished knot should look something like this.

Some patterns call for you to use only one strand to make your French Knot.  In that instance, I tend to wrap the thread three times around the needle to make the knot fuller.

The appearance of a French knot changes quite significantly whether you are stitching it with one or two strands, and how many times you wrap your thread around the needle
Wrapping once, twice, three and four times, using
two strands of thread
Have a go and let me know how you find French Knots.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

How To Cross Stitch - the 3/4 Stitch

The Ultimate Cross Stitch Guide, Post 4 is on the 3/4 Stitch.  Along with the cross, and backstitch, this is one of the main three stitches used in cross stitch.  It is easier to stitch on evenweave than aida as evenweave gives you a hole in the middle of the cross.  Stitching on aida, you have to push your needle through the tightly woven square which takes a little more effort and concentration to get precise, but is still relatively easy.  It makes a nice step up for the beginner stitcher so they can try some more complex patterns. In my opinion the 3/4 stitch also adds more shape and definition to cross stitch patterns.

The 3/4 stitch is 3/4s of a cross.  It can sit anywhere on the square - top left, bottom left, top right, bottom right - and its position alters how you stitch it.

Bottom Left 3/4 Stitch

Come up at the bottom left corner of the square at point 1

Push the needle down through the middle of the square at point 2.   

Come up at the bottom right corner of the square at point 3 and then down through the top left corner at point 4

Top Right 3/4 Stitch

Come up through the middle of the square  at point 1 and then down through the top right corner at point 2.  

Come up through the bottom right corner of the square at point 3 and then down through the top left corner at point 4.

Top Left 3/4 Stitch

Stitch the bottom stitch as normal - up at point 1, down at point 2.  

Then push the needle up through the middle of the square at point 3, and down through the top left corner of the square at point 4.

Bottom Right 3/4 Stitch

Stitch the bottom stitch as normal - up at point 1, down at point 2.  

Come up at the bottom right corner of the square at point 3 and finally down through the middle of the square at point 4.

Always remember the golden rule of cross stitch - keep your top stitches pointing the same way.  This will make your finished piece look a lot neater.

Adding the last 1/4

Quite often you will need to add the other 1/4 of the cross in a second colour.  You can either do this by adding the last 1/4 using the method above, or by adapting it slightly to add more dimension.

Option 1 - adding dimension
First, decide which of the two colours is meant to sit in front.  Is one colour more background?  Or is it hair that should sit in front of or behind the face?  

Once you have decided, stitch the foreground 3/4 using the method described above.  With the background colour, you are only going to stitch 1/4.  It is easiest to bring your needle up from the empty corner and then down through the middle hole created by the previous colour (as with the green thread in images one and two).  Where the 1/4 stitch is part of the bottom stitch (image two), make sure to push it under the top half of the stitch.

Option 2 - the same stitch
For this stitch, complete in the same method as detailed above, and shown in images three and four above.

The main difference for me is in the final presentation -  option 1 adds less bulk to the square, particularly if there is also going to be a backstitch separating the colours. As always however, the choice is entirely up to you.

The stitches on the right have been stitched using option 1
The stitches on the left have been stitched using option 2.

Happy Stitching!