Friday, 24 November 2017

Deborah from A Patchwork of Crafts

This week's Blogger of the Week is another keen participant in my Blog Hops and another keen multi-crafter.  As far as I am concerned the best thing about her is her love of Dragons!  She even has a page on her blog dedicated just to Dragon Finishes.  Please give a warm welcome to Deborah from



1. Please introduce yourself; name, family, pets etc.

Hi my name is Deborah (the biblical spelling and it means little bee so I like bees).  I live in a small town on the North East Coast of England.  This used to be mining country.   I have no pets although I did one summer have bees nesting in the garden.

Can you spot the bee?

However, my brother who lives in Wales makes up for my lack of pets by having seven cats.

Cats!


2. How long have you been stitching and how did you start?

Now there is a question with a multi layered answer, I recall green Binca at infant’s school and stitching on that but I don’t think I was officially cross stitching till my mid to late 20’s due to a Christmas gift of a kit. (Teresa Wentzler’s The Castle.)



3. How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start?  Is there a story behind your blog title?

I started my first blog on 14 February 2013 about getting to work and back, at the time I had limited access to the internet and could not add photographs.   A craft blog had to wait until 9 June 2013 when I was able to add pictures because the pictures are mostly the important bit.   What inspired me, my BFF starting a blog about the Open University journey (she graduates next month).   Why a blog, I have been thinking about that, I believe it to be a combination of having a record of what I have made, having a place to share crafting tales and thoughts without boring family and friends to death and of course narcissism.  As for the title, I Googled several variations and they were taken; A Patchwork of Crafts both reflects my interest in patchwork and the mad way I dot about between the things I give a go, and was not being used by someone else.


4. How would you describe your stitching style? Serial starter, a rotator etc.

My BFF would call it in the zone, something takes my fancy and I start it and whilst I’m zoned in it gets worked on.  However, other things can distract me and projects go on hold.  Sometimes for days, sometimes years.   I tend to have three of four quilts at various stages, a similar number of cross –stitches and more projects in my head (and stash) than is wise.   I also tend to make things difficult for myself overcomplicating (my friend calls it Deborizing) which can make a project take longer than perhaps it needed.  Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not.  I am also parsimonious (that’s polite for tight) and like to use stuff up and recycle or repurpose and not throw things away.


5. Do you have a favourite style or designer you are drawn to?

I think there is a difference between what I am drawn to as an image and what I am drawn to as a sewing project.   I have learned a few lessons about myself, I like what I like and there is no point putting any labels or limits on that as there will be something that comes along that surprises me.   I get equally frustrated with big areas of solid colour as I do with intense tweeding and confetti.  So I need to add into a projects completion time the chance I will get fed up with it at some stage.   I like dragons, drapery, and scenic designs at the same time I like cute and traditional, bright and monotone, modern and old fashioned, so I guess a real patchwork of things.


6. Which piece are you most proud of in your collection?

That is a bit easier to answer, and anyone visiting my blog probably already knows, for cross stitch it is La Scapigliata by Maria Diaz which is the featured post on my blog.



It is just so very effective and Deborized by stitching it one over one on 45 count linen.  

For the patchwork and quilting it is Monument Dragon (beware an epic post for an epic quilting journey).  It was a long time in the thinking before its long time in the making and the quilted dragons well that was the Deborizing on that piece.  



Embroidery, my Christmas card inspired trilogy, mainly the shepherds at the moment with high hopes for the Herald Angels getting started sometime soon.



7. What has been your worst stitching disaster?

I mostly refuse to accept that disasters have occurred.  I try to view them as inspiration for a design opportunity, not perfect, unique!  On the cross stitch for my brother and his wife (Arthur and Guinevere, the cross stitch title not my brother and his wife’s names) I did not leave myself with enough fabric down one side to frame it as suggested.
The result, a mount cut to curve around the design.   Very pleased with the result and without the “disaster” not something I would have attempted.



I guess on this All Our Yesterdays design I did have a large area of green grass in the background that had to be unpicked as I has sewn it in full cross when it should have been half (or tent as some call it) and had to cut the threads and use tweezers then sticky tape to get all of the bits off before I could start again. I might have been tempted to leave it but the grass to the foreground was the full cross and it gave the image perspective and depth.



8. Which new technique would you like to try, stitching, finishing or another craft?

I am always finding something to add to the future try list it is amazing how many crafts and, styles there are out there.  Hardanger, drawn thread work not tried that yet, doing a HAED is on the list, so many blocks in the patchwork (currently trying a sampler quilt to work through some of those) it would be nice to make something that is wearable perhaps.


9. Do you have a box of finished but not fully finished pieces? What is your favourite way to finish a project and what do you do with them?

Guilty as charged, at least as far as the cross stitches go.  I mostly frame them although smaller items might become cards.   If the project was not made with a gifting deadline of some sort then it will wait till I am in the framing zone or I find the perfect frame.  They are easier to store unframed and are ready if an event comes along with insufficient warning to sew something in time.


10. Which of your projects most represents you?

That’s getting a little more difficult, so perhaps without over introspection I will say the Monument Dragon, as much for what is not in it as what is, the memories the image invokes and the memories the quilting journey (I did say it was a long one) contain and well it’s a dragon, it would have to be a dragon.


11. Tell us a secret about yourself. Or a joke or anything

I did mention I was parsimonious, well I don’t do ORT, well not since the thread ball anyway. Thread is either long enough to sew with (anything over 4” is long enough to sew with) or it isn’t and goes in the bin. Material is either big enough to put in a quilt (anything wider than 1.5” is big enough) or it isn’t and goes in the bin.   I just don’t have the space for ORT.  Then again maybe my idea of usable is someone else’s idea of ORT.


12. Anything you would like to add.


It is great having people visit the blog from all over the world (even if the flag counter is not always capturing the countries) and wonderful when people leave comments (even if blogger does not make that easy).  I equally like visiting others, sharing smiles over successes, wincing with those design opportunities and seeing the wonderful divergence of tastes in patterns and styles that is broadening my own taste.  

Friday, 17 November 2017

Christine from The Alchymyst's Study

This week's Blogger of the Week is another very talented multi-crafter and artist, photographer and wordsmith.  An enthusiastic participant in my Blog Hop, particularly the Mystery Phrase guessing from only a handful of letters.  You can blame her for Hemlock Root & Henbane as I wanted something she couldn't guess immediately!  This blogger is a fashion guru and is raising the next generation of crafters with two daughters who are also keen crafters.  Her other talent is finding the best free charts for the Needlecraft Haven challenges each month.  Please welcome Christine from



1. Please introduce yourself – name, where you are from, family, pets etc.

Hi, I’m Christine. I live in Cornwall ( that’s the pointy bit in the bottom left hand corner of England for foreign visitors), with my husband of 31 years, where we run our own wedding photography business. We have two grown-up daughters (Eloise lives in Leeds and Naomi is currently studying abroad) and share our home with two cats. I do all kinds of art and crafts, not just stitching, and you’ll find little bits of all sorts of things on my blog.


2. How long have you been stitching and how did you start?

My mother used to teach needle work in secondary school which is probably why I’ve been stitching my whole life. I can remember making table mats and coasters by adding running stitch borders to squares of binca when I was about 6 or 7, and from there I moved on to stamped embroidery kits. The Holly Hobby kit, I must have stitched when I was around 14 or so.



I probably started seriously cross stitching when it “boomed” in the mid 1980s, this design of lilies by Marc Saastad for Silver Lining was one of my first cross stitch pieces.





3. How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start? Is there a story behind your blog title?

I’ve been blogging for about 10 ½ years. Yes I was surprised too when I went and checked that. I didn’t think it had been that long. My husband and I were both originally chemists, and I used the nickname of “The Alchymyst” on the internet long before I started blogging so “The Alchymyst’s Study” seemed like an obvious choice.



4. How would you describe your stitching style? Are you a serial starter, a rotator, a OAAT (one at a time), highly organised, random and eclectic, etc.?

Oh dear. I am SUCH a serial starter, in all crafts, not just stitching. I’ve got the attention span of a mayfly when it comes to crafting, and I’ve always got multiple projects one the go. Random, and eclectic are very good words to describe my style.

Geeky and weird have also been known to have been used.



5. Do you have a favourite designer or style of design you are drawn to?

I wouldn’t say I’ve one particular favourite designer, more a favourite style. I love samplers and anything which uses a variety of mixed stitches (did I say eclectic and low attention span?), I enjoy doing Hardanger and drawn thread work, and I like a stitched piece to look like a stitched piece rather than looking like a painting. I’m not a huge fan of full coverage pieces for example.



6. Which piece are you most proud of in your collection?

That’s a tough choice. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few of my own designs published, so I suppose I’m proudest of those. I think my favourite would have to be the penguin one I designed for Stitch Magazine. I’ve got a bit of a thing about penguins.



7. What has been your worst stitching disaster?

A few years ago I completely fell in love with the first instalment of a mystery SAL, signed up for the series, bought all the threads and beads (and they were pretty expensive), and then found I hated the rest of the design when it was released.

More recently, I stitched a little primitive Santa ornament, and decided to antique it with tea when it was finished. All the colour from the red threads ran, and left me with “Serial Killer Santa”



8. Which new technique would you like to try, either stitching, finishing or another craft?

Don’t get me started, I want to try ALL the crafts – Bwa ha ha ha!

Seriously, the one thing I’d love to be able to do is crochet. I have tried. If I’ve got my “Idiots Book of How to Crochet” in front of me with the diagrams then I can manage well enough with simple things, but I just seem to be incapable of retaining the information, which is odd because I can knit pretty much anything.



9. Do you have a box of finished-but-not-fully-finished pieces? Or is everything FFO'd? What's your favourite way to fully finish a project and what do you do with them?

Yeah, I’ve got a box of unfinished things. I call it my house.

I used to like to frame pieces, but what with how long I’ve been stitching and being married to a photographer, we’re getting pretty low on wall space, and to be honest we don’t have a whole lot more room for cushions either, so I pretty much stick to smalls and ornaments these days. If I do larger pieces then they’re generally for gifts. I stitched this Jane Austen quote for Eloise, if you look carefully you can see her name hidden in it.



And this slightly censored one was stitched for Naomi.



10. Which of your projects most represents "you"?

That’s another tough one. I’m going to go with my dragon, because he’s in all my favourite colours. Also he’s kind of meant to be Smaug hoarding the Arkenstone, which feeds my inner geek



11. Tell us a secret about yourself. Or a joke. About anything!

I have an absolutely filthy sense of humour. Cards against Humanity anyone?

I really don’t think I ought to share any of my favourite jokes, there might be delicate sensibilities reading this.








Friday, 10 November 2017

Beadgirl from Books, Crafts and Other Procrastinations

This week's Blogger of the Week is another multi-talented multi-crafter who also loves to join in with my Blog Hops!  My current favourite project is her Year of Stitches embroidery challenge.  Make sure you have a good look at that when you visit Janalyn AKA Beadgirl of



1. Please introduce yourself – name, where you are from, family, pets etc.

I’m Janalyn Martรญnez.  I was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in Massachusetts (go Sox!), and now live in Queens, New York.  I have a husband, three boys, and two cats. I’m a part-time librarian.



2. How long have you been stitching and how did you start?

Since childhood.  My mom taught me the basics of sewing and embroidery, I had children’s needlepoint and cross stitch kits, and I even took some classes in my grade school in quilting and crewelwork (not home-ec, just a school with an odd selection of electives).



3. How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start?  Is there a story behind your blog title?

Since 2009. (Sheesh!)  I had to give up my original career as a lawyer to care for my oldest, who has Down Syndrome, and I was looking for a way to keep up my writing skills.  I had moved away from the friends I discussed books with and I wanted a way to express my thoughts about what I was reading.  I enjoyed reading other crafty blogs, and I wanted a way to record what I was making.  So it all came together!  There’s nothing special behind the name except that I avoid chores by reading and making things. It’s my therapy, and my way of coping with the challenging aspects of my life.



4. How would you describe your stitching style?  Are you a serial starter, a rotator, a OAAT (one at a time), highly organised, random and eclectic, etc.?

I’m not even sure how I’d describe it.  I juggle lots of projects at once, not just different kinds of stitching but crocheting, quilting, and beading too. Some projects languish for years, others I push myself to finish by a deadline, still others get done quickly because I’m enjoying them so much.



5. Do you have a favourite designer or style of design you are drawn to?

I don’t have any particular favorite (and that’s just as well, given how often a designer I like just disappears from the stitching world. Remember Monsterbubbles? Birds of a Feather?).  I like anything colorful, quirky, bohemian, geeky, or nerdy.



6. Which piece are you most proud of in your collection?

A design I stitched for my mom almost two decades ago. It’s much larger than my usual work, and much more elegant, and meaningful to my mom because of what it is and when I gave it to her.



I’m also quite proud of the first pattern I designed, a sampler of Arrested Development quotations; I’ve even sold some copies!



(It’s also how I learned pattern-testing is a thing, and an important one at that.)



7. What has been your worst stitching disaster?

I don’t have big disasters — just lots of stupid little errors and mistakes, some of which I can work around, some of which I pretend were intentional, and some which just stare at me and keep me humble.



8. Which new technique would you like to try, either stitching, finishing or another craft?

None! I have too many hobbies already! Don’t give me any more ideas!



9. Do you have a box of finished-but-not-fully-finished pieces?  Or is everything FFO'd?  What's your favourite way to fully finish a project and what do you do with them?

Are … are there people who don’t? Who actually fully finish everything?


It should come as no surprise, then, that my favorite finishing techniques are the simple ones — pillow-style ornaments that I can stitch up on my sewing machine in just a few minutes, or even better, keeping them in a hoop permanently.



10. Which of your projects most represents "you”?


My Paisley Pumpkin Crazy Quilt.  It started as a Mill Hill kit which I can never resist, stitched on fabric instead of cardstock.  I omitted the plaid border because it would be too much boring cross stitch (there’s a reason I favor small designs), instead surrounding it with lots of different fabrics from my stash.  Then I got to embroidering and embellishing it with threads, yarn, lace, trim, ribbon, buttons, charms, beads, fringe, basically anything I could find that was pumpkin-themed or in the right colors. It’s eclectic and all over the place and incorporates all my different crafty interests, so it’s a good emblem of my work.




11. Tell us a secret about yourself.  Or a joke.  About anything!

I’m a bit of a synesthete: letters and numbers have distinctive colors in my head.  I’ve started a series on the colors of the alphabet:

D is green.  I haven’t decided on the medium, though.





12. Anything you would like to add?

Thank you for inviting me to do this! It was fun.


Friday, 3 November 2017

Faith from Faithfully Stitching

This week's Blogger of the Week is a fellow Christmas Ornie SAL Blogger and a long time follower of mine.  She also loves those rather confusing jigsaws where you don't have the picture!  Obviously an animal lover as well as a keen crafter, please welcome Faith from



1. Please introduce yourself – name, where you are from, family, pets etc.

I live in Tucson and have been here for 2 years.  Originally from Chicago where I had lived my whole life.  I live with my 2 adult children, my awesome grandson, 4 dogs (all rescues from shelters), a red foot tortoise and the newest addition to the bunch is a cockatiel.


2. How long have you been stitching and how did you start?

I had dabbled a little with embroidery while I was growing up but it didn’t really stick at that time.  In 1995, I was going through some personal stuff and needed something to occupy my mind and time so I went into a local craft store and walked up and down the aisles.  The second to the last aisle was counted cross stitch. I sat on the bottom shelf and started browsing thru a leaflet they had there and found a simple design to stitch.  I gathered up all the supplies needed, went home, stitched it and an obsession was born!


3. How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start? Is there a story behind your blog title?

I had to go look (LOL) I made my first post in January of 2010 but didn’t really start updating regularly until 2011.  My blog title is a play on my name.  I started blogging mainly to see my own stitching progress.  I had been reading other blogs and liked comparing the ongoing progress on the pieces they displayed.


4. How would you describe your stitching style? Are you a serial starter, a rotator, a OAAT (one at a time), highly organised, random and eclectic, etc.?

Oh goodness… before I really got into stitching groups on Yahoo and later Facebook, I like many others was a one piece at a time stitcher.  Now I think I am a serial starter (don’t you just love starting a new piece, it is exciting!) who wishes I was disciplined enough to follow every rotation I put in place for myself.  Instead I just stitch what I want to when I feel like it.


5. Do you have a favourite designer or style of design you are drawn to?

I LOVE geometric and mandala designs, it is just something about the way they are laid out that attracts me.  I love Northern Expressions Needlework and Ink Circles for those designs.  I also love stitching bunnies (I collect them) and simple holiday designs.  However… I am not opposed to stitching most designs put in front of me!


6. Which piece are you most proud of in your collection?

That is a hard choice because I love so many of them but I think it is between the Spirit of the Eagle and Walk Softly. I stitched these for my Father and they were my first pieces with beads.

Spirit of the Eagle
Designer - Sally Smith

Walk Softly
Designer - Linda K Powell


7. What has been your worst stitching disaster?

That would have to be Bunny Collector.  It was my first and LAST attempt at stitching “over 2”. I just can’t get the hang of it for some reason.  I finally gave up on this piece, cut off the extra fabric around it and threw the stitching away!  I may attempt to do it over 1 someday in the future.

Designer – Alma Lynne


8. Which new technique would you like to try, either stitching, finishing or another craft?

I used to crochet but my hands no longer like that craft.  I also like to sew but the machine still scares me a bit.  I would love to learn to quilt and it is on my list of things to do so the machine and I better come to an agreement soon.  Most of all though I would LOVE to learn how to finish my pieces off into “something” so they can be displayed.


9. Do you have a box of finished-but-not-fully-finished pieces? Or is everything FFO'd? What's your favourite way to fully finish a project and what do you do with them?

LOL, I have what many call “The Box of Shame” where most of my finished pieces go to rest while I contemplate what to do with them.  The easiest way of course is to frame them but I have even been slacking on that lately.


10. Which of your projects most represents "you"?

I also like quotes that serve as reminders for everyday living and encouragement so I think that may be Rules of Life which I stitched in my favorite color…purple!

Designer - Kincavel Krosses


11. Tell us a secret about yourself. Or a joke. About anything!

I can’t think of any secrets off the top of my head.  I am very good at procrastinating and tend to let things pile up which is why I have lots of WIPs and stash!  I also love assembling jigsaw puzzles and that obsession has taken over when I can’t sleep at night.


12. Anything you would like to add?


Just want to say a big THANK YOU to Jo for creating this blog so we can get to know new stitchers and learn about others that we have been following for a while.  Thanks to all who took the time to read about me!