Wednesday, 25 May 2016

How do they rise up? The Glorious 25th May

Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably-Priced Love! A Hard Boiled Egg!

Once again it is the 25th May, when we celebrate all things Pratchett.  I wrote a blog about the importance of the 25th May, and my impressions of the book it comes from, Night Watch, this time last year.  You can find that blog post here: Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably-priced Love, and a Hard Boiled Egg.

Even more important, there's a free pattern in that blog post, featuring the 25th May battle cry and sprigs of lilac.  Don't forget to check it out.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Great Washing Disaster of 2016 - Part 2: The Solution

In my previous blog post, I shared how my Supernatural cross stitch piece had been ruined in the wash when the dye in the fabric ran, staining everything a bluey-purple.

However, all was not lost.  Through her twilter contacts, my mother (who has her own blog here) had found a solution: Baby Savers had a post on How To Make Your Own Colour Catching Laundry Sheets.
If any dye from the clothes in your washing bleeds into the water, your homemade colour catcher will "trap" the dye molecules and keep them from bleeding on to the lighter fabrics.
It was amazing!  You can see the difference yourself in the pictures below - the first is the original, the second shows the colour bleed, and the third shows the final piece.  I couldn't believe how white the white had once again become, without fading the other thread colours.  The background fabric is a lot lighter than it was originally (obviously - since all the blue had wound up in the water!) but it sill looks fantastic and I'm over the moon.
And because it worked so well, I wanted to share the steps with you all, just in case you have your own colour disaster in the future.  These steps are from Baby Savers with a few adjustments/ additions from me.

Making A Colour Catcher

What you need:

Using the Colour Catches

You'll need to re-treat the colour catcher fabric before you can use it again - but that's okay because you have a handy supply waiting and ready to go.

As I said earlier - this worked like a charm and my cross stitch piece was returned to its former (albeit lighter) glory.  I'm not sure how it will go on the 15 year old piece, but I'm going to give it a try this week just in case.

Happy stitching,


Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Great Washing Disaster of 2016 - part 1

I'm sure we've all experienced it at one time or another - that moment when you open the washing machine, or peer into the bucket of hand washing, and water has changed colour.  Things that were once white are now... not.

There's been a colour run. Whether it's the fabric that has leaked colour, or a particular colour of thread; whether its in a small spot or over the whole project it doesn't matter.

When it comes to hand stitching or sewing, it can be a gut-wrenching moment: your stomach drops, your heart stops.  All those long hours spent working on a project and now it's ruined.  I have a piece I worked on as part of a Girl Guide project 15 years ago.  I'd used no-name thread scraps, and the dark red ran, ruining the project.  It got shoved to one side - never fixed, never finished, and so I never got the particular badge I was working towards.  Still makes me sad when I see it in my "to be finished" pile.
The piece from 15 years ago.  The corners ran :(
Most recently, it was my Supernatural Alphabet - the piece I stitched for the A-Z challenge.  I'd stitched the piece on hand-dyed fabric from Sew It All.  I've never had a problem with their fabrics before.  It was a rooky mistake - I forgot to wash the fabric before I started the project, so it's all on me.  I put the finished piece in water to rinse off the wash-out-pen I'd used for the lines, and to clean it before framing.  I left it to soak for a minute while I dried/hung out the other finished piece.  I turned around and my heart sank.

The water was blue.

I couldn't believe it.  All that hard work and now this.  I pulled it out immediately, but the damage was done.  The white areas were now purple.  The people all looked blue and sickly.  The pale yellow... wasn't. 
The before and after.  The lighting was very different when I took
the second picture, but you can see the blue/purple dress and skin
I did what any self-respecting, independent 31 year old would do.  I texted my mother.

Then I did a Google search.  The results were mixed, with some people saying "stitch over it and make it look better" but that doesn't really help when it's the whole piece.  Another site said "don't put it through the dryer - the heat will set the colour" which is useful to know, but didn't solve the problem.  Still others said "rinse immediately before the colour has time to set".  So I rinsed - only to release more colour.  No!!  
The most common tip seemed to be "rinse in synthrapol".  I'd never heard of synthrapol; according to this website I found "synthrapol is a special detergent used in pre-scouring fibres before dyeing, and in washing out fibre reactive dyes after dyeing."  I was willing to give anything a go to save my project.  I ordered some express delivery. 

A couple of days later my mother sent me another text message:

What was the suggestion and how did it go you ask?  You'll have to come back for part 2 to find out! ;)

Happy stitching,


Monday, 16 May 2016

Some sad news...

It's taken me a week to find the brain-power to write tonight's blog post.  Or to write anything really.  However I know I need to write this before I can move on to more light-hearted Fangirl-Stitchy-ness.

A week ago I had to say goodbye to my fur-baby Skimbles.

I understand if you stop reading at that point.  I probably would.

Skimbles didn't come home last Thursday night (Thursday week I mean).  After two days of waiting, looking, and thinking he was gone for good, Skimbles appeared on the front porch Sunday morning.  I was ecstatic, very happy, and very thankful.  He looked a bit stiff and slow, but I figured that was due to being outside for two days and three nights, and that once he got inside and warmed up a bit and had something to eat, he'd be fine.
My helper cat - he helped with quilting, cross stitching,
blog-writing and playing Ticket To Ride
As the day wore on, he began to move a bit better, but still didn't look like himself.  He was hiding under the bed (well, he's probably a bit scared I thought), he was still sort of limping/dragging himself a bit (maybe he's pulled something) and he wasn't eating or using the kitty litter (well, he hasn't eaten so he doesn't need to 'go').  I'll take him to the vet in the morning, just to get him checked out I thought.  I moved the mattress off the spare bed onto the floor that night so that he could sleep next to me like he normally did - he wasn't up to climbing on the bed, and I'd missed my night-time cuddles.  I was very happy to wake up in the middle of the night to find him curdled up next to him.
Happier times...
Monday morning I rang the vet (after finding a vet - we'd only moved into the area about 6 weeks ago so I didn't have a local vet yet!) and booked an appointment.  I told the girls at work I was just taking him to get checked out, maybe get some antibiotics, I was sure he was going to be fine.

He wasn't.  

It turns out he had a tail-pull injury.  Apparently it's a relatively common injury in cats - it happens when their tail gets caught or pulled hard as they are moving in the opposite direction - for example they run out in front of a car and the car catches their tail.  Sometimes it just dislocates the tail, and sometimes it tears the nerves at the base of the tail.  These are the nerves that control the tail, the bladder and the bowel.  The reason Skimbles wasn't eating was he had a full bladder/bowel, and the reason he wasn't using the kitty litter was because he didn't have any control/function in that area.  You also can't repair the injury.
Just hanging out
And so, I had to say goodbye to my little boy.  I held him tight, told him I loved him, and stayed with him while he drifted off to sleep.  It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make.  And at the same time it was one of the easiest because I didn't want him to be in pain.  

I'm very glad that he came home Sunday morning, that we got to spend that last Sunday together, and that I moved the mattress onto the floor that night.

Hanging out with Eevee
Eevee and I are slowly adjusting.  She's been a lot more clinging and cuddly this week than she ever was before.  I still jump every time I hear a cat bell - the cat across the road has one on its collar that sounds like Skimbles' bell.  One day I'm going to frame his collar and photo, but not at the moment.
Skimbles' last photo
It's been a long week.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge

The A-Z Challenge is done and dusted for another year, and now is the time to breath and think about other things for a bit - releasing new patterns, and getting ready for Melbourne Oz Comic Con for a start.
This was my second year in doing the A-Z Challenge, and I set myself a mammoth challenge this year: cross stitch two alphabets AND write about my Harry Potter travels.  Why did I do this to myself?
  1. I've been wanting to write a blog about my Harry Potter travels for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity
  2. I didn't want to write about Harry Potter traveling under the Fangirl Stitches blog since that one is linked to my online cross stitch store
  3. I wanted to get back into blogging on the Fangirl Stitches page (after being absent for about 6 months)
  4. I couldn't choose between the two cross stitch alphabets!
  5. Which all led to a crazy, busy, whirlwind month and a half.
Onto the reflections:

I completed the challenge on all three projects - which is the most important thing.  On that note, here are the finished pieces.  Both patterns are available from my Etsy Store.
The Pokemon Alphabet
Fabric - 14 count Bluescape from Sew It All
It's even been framed and given to my sister-in-law for her birthday!
The Supernatural Alphabet
Fabric - 14 count Stormy Sky from Sew It All
The Supernatural photo was taken before the Great Washing Disaster of 2016, which I will tell you about another day. 

I also finished the Harry Potter tour which you can read about on my other blog.  I have a few other places to add that didn't fit into the alphabet, which I will get to soon... I hope!

I met some new people and discovered some new blogs.  My favourites (of course) were the cross stitching ones, particularly the ones where people were stitching my patterns.
There were several others that I enjoyed and visited regularly, 

I didn't visit nearly as many as I wanted to, and didn't get back to visit people as regularly as I wanted to either.  Moving, not having internet for a few days in the lead-up, Easter, travelling, work, as well as trying to finish to cross stitch alphabets AND write two blogs took up most of my time, leaving very little time to read and comment on other blogs.  I'm hoping to do the Blogging Road Trip and get back to visit some of the ones I missed/didn't read enough of, as well as find some more to read.  Thank you to everyone who visited my blog, even if you didn't leave a comment.  Big thanks to those who did leave a comment, and those who managed to visit regularly.  I take my hat off to you.

I got back into the whole blogging thing.  Hopefully it will stick with me a bit longer this time! I need to work out a schedule/regular time where I don't feel so stressed about posting.  I have exciting stories to share with you over the coming weeks including the Great Washing Disaster of 2016 (and how I survived), Unique QR Codes, Market Stalls Dos and Don'ts, as well as several new patterns.

I'll certainly do the challenge again next year, although I will start my stitching A LOT earlier and only work on one... or post about ones I've already finished!  That or only write one blog!  Scheduling posts is certainly the key to surviving the challenge, and having time to visit other blogs - and for a cross stitching blog it means starting early so you aren't madly trying to get your stitching finished on time.  I learnt this lesson last year, forgot it, and learnt it again this year.  Hopefully I remember it about February next year :)

Happy Stitching


Friday, 6 May 2016

Exciting Announcements!

I survived the A-Z challenge for a second year.  This post is nothing to do with that though.  I'm hoping to have some time on Sunday to sit down and reflect on the A-Z Challenge, and write my post sharing my finished pieces, my experiences of the challenge, and my favourite blogs.

My big news is that I'm going to be having a stall at a couple of markets/conventions in the next month - hurray!  I've been busily trying to find where I stashed everything after the move, as well as update and finish-off some new patterns (which I will hopefully have up on Etsy soon) ready for display at the stalls.

Firstly, I will be at the House of Fandom Markets in Brisbane on Saturday 7th May (tomorrow). 
The Fortitude Valley Markets are combining forces with House of Fandom for a huge pop culture & alternative market in the Brunswick St Mall.  Complete with cosplay parade, comic book stalls, kawaii gifts, game traders and more - these markets are set to be an outstanding day of fandom fun.
If you are a Brisbanite, it sounds like it will be a lot of fun and a lot of fantastic hand-made fandom stalls will be there, as well as people selling games, toys, and the POP figurines.

 Secondly - Melbourne, I'm heading your way!  I've just (as in, in the last week) found out that I have been accepted to have a stall at Oz Comic Con!  Melbourne's Oz Comic Con is on 11-12 June - so I've been madly booking flights, organising accommodation, wrangling helpers (the eldest of my 3 brothers) and geeking out over the guest list - John Barrowman (Torchwood) will be there!!!  Just a tad excited.

Thirdly - I'll be back at Brisbane's Oz Comic Con.  That isn't until September, so I have plenty of time to prep and breath before then.

I'm off to finish prepping.

Happy stitching,