Monday, 31 October 2011

Photo A Day - Day 65

Erm there is a little change from the rules as today I have done Halloween.

Take one pumpkin and do 3 looks - bat is my favourite (oh and this is only the second pumpkin that I have ever carved) 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A lovely afternoon walk

Poor Ferdinand hasn't had a walk all week as I have been poorly - but we made up for it today

which way?

he does like sitting looking at things

The walk is part of the Erewash Valley Trail. The whole trail is about 30 miles I dont think that we will ever walk the whole loop (I couldnt even walk that far now even if I wanted to and Ferd is only little) but we are having fun exploring the bits near to home.

Photo A Day - Day 64


I couldn't pick which one I liked best - so its two for the price of one :)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Creative Hair!

I asked on twitter recently if I should dye my hair purple, red or leave it blonde.

Well purple won 

The before:
This mornings blonde hair 
The during:

The mess:

And the after:

I have been poorly this week so really not looking my best

The colour is Live Colour XXL - Cyber Purple 46

Now ok I know its not a bright purple but I work in an office and think this is as daring as I can go. 

Of course when I was a teenager I experimented (much to my Mums erm delight.....ok she tolerated it as long as it was never permanent) with lot of colour - my favourite being Blue. I do miss having blue hair. I remember on the way to the V Festival one year I had to make an ATM stop and a child pointed at me and said something like mummy look at her hair - well the child got told to shhh as they hurried away. Ok so blue hair, piercings (at that time I didnt even have my lip pierced, my eyebrow might have been), some form of band shirt and probably a short skirt and I was obviously considered to be a terror that small children should be shielded from!

I have grown up now - well sort of.

Oh and I give it about 2 weeks maybe a month before I start to miss my natural blonde, with which I have a love hate relationship.

Photo A Day - Day 62

View from a window

Our back garden:
A blank canvas and waiting for chickens

There is more to the garden behind the shed.
We call that bit our secret garden.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Photo A Day - Day 61


This is the best view of our lovely solid oak front door. Why is it the best view? Because it means I am all safe inside Mouse Manor :)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Photo A Day - Day 60


Doesn't he look happy

And another form of happiness:

My first veg box at my new home. I have been getting an organic veg box delivery for a few years now. I use Riverford I get fresh organic veg that's in season and real - knobbly bits and dirt included. Recipes are included which are yummy and great for those 'what on earth is is' additions to the box. It means that we get to try new things every so often and being almost vegetarian we don't get stuck in a rut with the same things each week. If you've not tried one - give it a go, what have you got to lose.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Monday, 24 October 2011

Photo A Day - Day 58

Your favourite smell

Well for me it has to be fresh baked bread

This is one I baked yesterday

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Photo A Day - Day 57

Can you guess what it is? - Today's theme was take a photo of something that's not immediately recognisable.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Photo a Day - Day 56

Today's theme was a photo of a photo from your childhood.

Well I don't have my photos I haven't collected them yet. Luckily Mr Mouse has his photos.

I am the cute little girl in the back, the little boy next to me is Mr Mouse and the little girl in the front is my sister in law.

Yep Mr Mouse and I have known each other for a long time :)

Hair cut by my Mum, outfit probably also by my Mum 

How to Cross Stitch

I thought that I would take the mystery out of cross stitching. I know that people can think its very complicated well its really its not.

There are two types of cross stitch:

  • Stamped cross stitch - this is where the design has been printed onto the fabric and you follow this as guide to position and colours. Think of it as a paint by numbers but with threat. These kit are great for children. In fact my love of stitching started when I was young with stamped long stitch tapestry kits. 

  • Counted cross stitch - this is the type that I do. You have a pattern with a key (each colour is represented by a symbol) and you recreate that patten on a blank piece of fabric.

There are different types of stitching fabric - I wont go into these now.
For the purpose of learning Aida is the one to go for - its stiffer and has regular uniform holes.

For starting I recommend either buying a small kit - these come with everything that you need and clear instructions, look out for simple clear designs to start. Another good option is to buy a magazine with a cover kit - again these will come with what you need to start, clear instructions and good hints and tips.

For the purpose of this I have used a charming Margaret Sherry design that came as a cover kit on The World of Cross Stitching Magazine:

Just add scissors

Here's the pattern in a bit clearer detail:

Preparation is key:
First using the thread key on the chart you need to separate your bundle of threads into their separate colours - if you have colours that are similar you will need to do this in good natural light (I use a craft lamp with a daylight bulb, but a window during the day works just as well).

Once sorted keep them separated - for small designs I tend to line them up next to me

The next step is to find the centre of the fabric:
Cross stitch is always worked from the centre - this ensures that will wont run out of fabric at an edge.

Fold the Aida in half and half again:

As you can see this marks the centre
Now we get onto the more technical bit:

Each square on the design represents a square on the fabric and one whole cross stitch.

First part of the stitch also know as half cross stitch

top row shows whole cross stitch, bottom half cross stitch

The important thing is to make sure that all your stitches go the same way.

Starting off:

Most charts are worked in 2 strands (check your key to find out how many strands you need). Ok so I am guessing that might sound a little complicated! Really its not - if you look at the thread you will see that its made up of 6 strands. Separate these and work with the number that the pattern says.

Now there are two ways to start off.
The first involves securing the tail of your thread:

This method is best if you are working with an odd number of threads.

The next option is the loop start:
You will need to be working with an even number of strands to use this method.

As you can see this is a very neat method for starting off

Ok so you can start, what about finishing:
 You need to make sure that the threat is secured at the back of your stitching

Be careful to cut the excess thread
Working the design:

I tend to work in blocks of colour - the important thing to remember is to keep counting. For large designs and if you are just starting out its a good idea to mark on the pattern each stitch as you do it. That way you are less likely to lose your place.

A key tip is to make sure that you keep the back neat:

Stitch the whole design:

Time for the back stitch:

Or as I like to think of it - time for the magic.

So the back stitching is the lines that you see on the pattern. You either love it or hate it. Some designs are back stitch free, but for some you cant avoid it.

A top tip to take the pain out of back stitching is to switch from your blunt tapestry needle to a sharp one. This will help it to slip through the design and fabric. There really is no mystery to back stitching just follow the design. Think of it as drawing the outline with the thread.

As you can see the back stitching really is important so its worth spending a little bit of time on this to ensure its nice and clear.

And its finished:

Well that's the basics. I hope that you have enjoyed it and found it useful.

I will look at other fabrics and stitches latter :)
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