Sunday, 23 December 2012

WIP Update

Not much to report at all.  I've been slowly plugging away at this stocking, and I'm starting to see some design.  The next page is quite a bit smaller, so I'm going to give the stitching a10x10 square at a time thing a go again.  My first attempt was a dismal failure, but I'm willing to get back on that horse.

I have a feeling my daily quantity of stitching will likely go down a bit with this strategy, but who knows, it might actually be faster.

I don't really have anything more to report at this time, other than I am knackered from working 6 day weeks for the past 6 weeks, and I'm looking forward to Christmas, just so I have 2 days off in a row.


Merry Christmas, everyone!

~Rai Rai

Sunday, 16 December 2012

More tricks of the trade

I forgot a couple of items last week, so I thought I'd just wait and post them this week.  Give me something more to share with you than just my weekly wip update.

So, here are my final two little tricks that I rely on so much.

This is my Tacky Bob.  These are BRILLIANT for beading.  On the outside they look like a pretty little CD case, and on the inside, they are sticky.  When they are brand new they are REALLY sticky, and using metallic beads should be avoided because the stickiness can pull some of the metal off.  I keep my old Tacky Bobs around for when I have to use them metallic beads. Like everything, they will lose a bit of their stick over time, but they should last a few years at least.

What I find dead handy about them is I can put several colors of beads in little piles for when I'm working on Mirabilias, where several colors can be used in a small patch.  When I'm done for the night I simply close the lid.  Those little beads sit snugly inside until I'm ready to use them again.

Clever, clever, clever little device.

This is my wax. It's excellent when you have a thread that just keeps knotting on you.  Just slide it through once or twice and voila, no more knotting.  I hear beeswax also works, but I've never tried it.

And there you have it. The final two items of my list of tricks.

If anyone who reads this blog wants to list tricks of their own on their own blog, please feel free to leave me a link to your blog in the comments section.   I always love seeing what other people do. And who knows, I may steal a few tricks to add to my own collection!

Re: the Dragon stocking....  I slightly strained my hand this week and it's been twitching and smasming, so I've been taking it easy. I haven't gotten as much done as I would have hoped for.   But it's starting to take shape.

Behold, week 2 of the first page of the project.

I find it's so much faster with the Magic Cloth.  I'm really enjoying working on it.

Well, that's all, I guess.  It's snowing hard outside, so it's perfect weather to sit in front of the TV and just stitch the evening away.

~Rai Rai

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The tricks of my trade, and a new jazzing up of the diggs.

I changed it up a bit and added my own wallpaper.   I think it looks a lot better.

So, like every stitcher out there, I have slowly collected "things" over the years that make my stitching easier, organized and overall, more enjoyable.

Here are some of mine!

My darlings!   I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but I have a bit of a fetish for scissors.  Particularly Gingher Designer scissors.   They have the quality of the Ginger brand and twice a year they release two new designs.  They only release a limited number, so if you want them, you have to jump fast, otherwise you will be at the mercy of Ebay, and trust me, the prices can skyrocket for the rare ones.  I would LOVE to own a pair of "Leah" but they were released in 2003, and when they do pop up on ebay, the seller always asks for some ridiculous price, like $200 - $300.  I'm quite sure "Leah" will forever elude me.  (The scissors I have are "Charlene" - which are the purple ones, and "Alicia" - which have blue peacock feathers on them.)  Both are beautiful!

My little hidey boxes.  These are made by Just Nan. They are perfect for holding needles (Bohin needles are the ONLY kind I use. I know, I know, how the heck can needles make a difference, but Bohin's have a high shine, and they slide through the fabric like buttah!)  Anyway, these clever little boxes contain all the little bits and bobs that are so easily lost.

My needle threaders.  The silver one is the one I use mostly. But the green is FANTASTIC for threading Krenik thread - especially the braids.  It was a bit on the expensive side, but completely worth it.  It works by smooshing the braid flat so you can thread it through the needles eye.

My Q-snaps and ring. I used to have several other rings, but this one is the only one that remains now.
Q-snaps, in my opinion, are much easier to use. They are a bit heavier than a ring, but they hold the fabric much tighter.

My beloved bead box.  Officially, this is a tackle box for fishing, and honestly, it kinda smells like it should belong among dead fish. Something about the plastic here really .... well, to put it bluntly, stinks.  But every now and then I Febreeze it, and the smell goes away.  BUT, this is seriously the best bead box I've EVER had. And trust me, I've had a few.  They are easy to read, easy to organize.  I put a sticky of the number on the outside of the vial, and I also cut the number from the package and place it inside the vial, should the outer label fall off.  And the lid snaps on nice and tight, so no lost beads.  If you can put up with the rather interesting smell of the plastic, then I recommend these.  Just keep that Febreeze on hand.

This is my box of stuff - affectionately called "The Stuff Box that holds my thingies".  When I refer to it to my husband, he knows exactly what I'm talking about.  I keep pretty much everything in there.  Beads, all my threads (and finally, I can brag to you all that I have EVERY SINGLE THREAD that DMC has ever made.  (Checks one item off the bucket list.)

When it comes to being organized about my stitching supplies, I can be a touch ... um ... anal, I guess the apt description could be.  But trust me, it's the only thing in my house that is well organized.  I wish some of this deep down need for organization would transfer to other areas, like my fridge, and my pantry, but apparently it stops at stitching.  Much to the chagrin of my husband.

More boxes where I keep odds and ends that otherwise would be homeless, and likely end up in the belly of my cat.

My current project box.  I have no idea where I picked up with particular plastic box. It would have been sometime in the early 90's, likely in Eastern Canada, but I love the fact that there is no barrier in the middle of it, and I can fit full size pencils and highlighters in it.  The only ones I can find today don't have any such space.  If anyone knows where I could find this exact case, I'm all ears.

Speaking of highlighters, I used to use a mechanical pencil to color in my chart as I followed it.  Now there is an erasable highlighter! Yes, you heard me right! It's a highlighter - THAT ERASES!  It's soooo much faster than a pencil, and it doesn't bleed on to your fabric if you accidentally lay your fabric down onto your pattern.

Of course, the old eyes not being what they were, I need help.  This is my light when I travel.

I also have a big floor stand magnifier.  I love that light, and would be hard pressed if I had to choose between it or my husband.  My husband would only slightly edge it out, and only because he cooks.  But trust me, it would not be an easy decision to make.

One of my pets is a cockatoo, who loves to sit on my knee and look at me through the magnifier, line her eye up with the super powerful extra magnifier, then growl at me.   Normally I wouldn't flood this blog with pet pictures, but this is pretty funny, and kinda, sorta on topic.

What can I say? She's silly.  I've looked through the magnifier to see what she sees, and it looks normal to me, so I don't quite understand the obsession with it, but this happens almost daily.

Silly bird is silly.

Now for the latest project!!!!!  I started a Christmas stocking for the son of a very good friend of mine.  It's the "Treasure Dragon" by Myles Pinkey.

It's been 6 days since starting it and I'm nearly 2000 stitches in.  I know with Heaven and Earth designs that they recommend you do a grid of 10 at a time, but I get waaaay too confused this way, so instead I do a page at a time and a color at a time.

Here's the progress so far....

It's not making much sense yet, but it will eventually.

And I'm also stitching it on "Magic Fabric". It comes with the grid stamped on. OMG, love, love, LOVE IT!  I had to purchase from a lady in the UK because I'm not sure if you can get it in the States or Canada. But my cross stitch supplier is looking to see if she can carry it.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed my weekly post. I'll see you all next Sunday with a project update.

~Rai Rai

Sunday, 2 December 2012


Ok, so I'm not the best picture taker. This was taken while it was still in the Q-Snap, so it looks a bit uneven, but it's finished!

The little blue dots in the background that aren't showing up very well at all are 4 beads. THIS is what took me about 4 days to complete.

I love the writing. It was done one over one, so the characters came out really sharp!

I'm really happy with this.  It took about 4 months to complete.  I started it in the first week of August.

Now I'm on to a Heaven and Earth Christmas stocking, which will be interrupted by a Stony Creek afghan that is on order, and that I have a very short amount of time to complete, because my best friend is ready to pop in about 2 weeks!

Boy, I've just gotta say, there is nothing more satisfying than completing a project!  Jes saying.

~Rai Rai

Saturday, 1 December 2012

I found a few more pictures of completed projects that I thought I'd share with you.

My husband's grandmother wanted an angel.  It was my first time stitching on a multi-colored linen, but I really enjoyed stitching this.  I think I completed her in just over a month.

I love, love LOVE making Christmas stockings.  When we moved into the house, I found this kit tucked away on the top shelf of the walk-in closet.  Bonus!  The only thing I don't like about kits, is I find the thread is a bit thinner and tends to snap easier.

This is my stocking.  It is many, many years old now. There are a few stains on it that don't seem to want to come out. This was my first stocking, and I loved every minute of it.

I have a real thing for doors.  I did this one around 1988.  I wish I knew who the pattern was by, but I've long since lost the pattern.

Here is the companion piece to the Victorian door. They are really pretty in real life.  I framed these myself...badly.  I fear there is no replacing the frame as the entire piece will disintegrate.  Chalk that up to a learning process kind of thing on what not to do when framing!

This one is kind of hard to see. But it's a Beatrix Potter growth chart that I made for my step-sisters daughter.

Tom Kitten

Flopsy Bunny
Jemima Puddle Duck (which I sometimes call my parrot)

Peter Rabbit

Tiggy Winkle

J. Fischer
and last but not least, Benjamin Bunny.

As you can see, the gang is all here!  This was absolutely adorable when completed.

And last, but certainly not least, is the last cross-stitch I completed. It's based on art by Sue Coleman. I sent this to an uncle in New Zealand who is mad for First Nations art.   Again, I don't think the photo really does this justice.

I am about 2 days (hopefully) away from finishing my latest project. It's Teresa Wentzler's Celestial Dragon.  OMG the beading...  so much beading...  It's times like this that I am glad I MAKE myself finish a project before I start a new one, because this beading is really testing my patience.  More than once I've wanted to fling it across the room and scream "I DON'T CARE ANYMORE" at it in a petulant whinge, before descending into a full-blown wobbler.  But I just put it down and walk away.  I don't mind the occasional beading, but this is going on 3 days and hours upon hours of solid beading, and that's just the background.  You'll see when I'm done and it's posted.

For me, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Wentzler's designs. I love them when they are done, and I even love working on them, but there comes a time in each of them when I seriously question my sanity for even attempting her patterns.  I'm at that stage right now.

But I'm hoping 2 days... maybe 3 and it will be finished.  I just have to keep telling myself "just one more bead...."

~Rai Rai