Saturday, 6 May 2017


Well, not quite a year, and here's another blog post. Of course, it's art, or really, craft related ...
Sadly, my best intentions with the Ever After art course crashed and burned. Yes, it was art, but it was also very intense study, and my brain just wasn't ready for it. The Little Mermaid was pretty much completed, but I'm not going to say, 'to my satisfaction', because I wasn't. The monochromatic painting never got very far - it all just seemed to hard, so it's been put aside.
I still have all the teaching videos, and the workbooks. It will be picked up again at a later date.
In August 2000 I started working on a Greenman cross stitch pattern that I'd ordered from a company called Witches Stitches, from Minnesota. By 2009, it was probably three-quarters completed. It was put aside in 2009 when I became a Christian, and started studying part-time. Mid-late 2016 I picked it up again, and finished it just before Christmas 2016. 16 years to complete the project!
I showed it to my MiL, Myrtle Billinghurst, who wanted it as her Christmas present. She took it home to Katikatii, and had it framed: 

At the end of November 2016, as my Christmas presents from Becca and David, I ordered three Dimensions brand counted cross stitch patterns, as I'd really enjoyed finishing off the Greenman. The Hydrangea Floral was a petite pattern, 10 x 20cm/4 x 8" on 18 count Aida. The Peacock and Buddha are bigger at 23 x 38cm/11 x 33" on 14 count. They all arrived late December.

20 December 2016
I decided to stitch the petite pattern, Hydrangea Floral. I enlarged the pattern, marked up the grid on the 18 count Aida with black cotton, and wound the combined colours onto labelled bobbins. I bought spare gold needles (don't like them, they're too large), a vintage-style needle holder and new wooden hoop. I eventually found my embroidery scissors, yay. What I rapidly discovered was that I DON'T like working on a hoop - and I didn't do Greenman on a hoop either. With the osteo-arthritis, it gets very painful holding onto the darn thing, and I much prefer working 'in-hand', as I discovered it's called. In April, I would also find out that my preferred technique, of just working in one colour at a time, is called 'cross-country' stitching.

Progress by 2 February 2017: Spent an hour that afternoon stitching the purple and watching Air Crash Investigation. 28°C today and too hot to move:

13 March 2017:

As of the beginning of May, I'd watched a few You Tube videos and read a few blogs, and learnt the value of grabbing a highlighter pen, and marking off what I had done/was doing. I'd also found a way to stop my pattern escaping, while marking my place - a steel baking tray, adhesive-backed magnetic tape, and a plastic ruler - practical, but not classy.

I'd looked at these back in November, but decided that I wasn't ready ... then last month decided to take the plunge, consulted with my friend/floss fairy Bonni, made up a wish list, sorted thru my stash, and ordered a few patterns. Bonni RAK'd me another one as an early Mother's Day present. I found the official HAED Facebook page, disappeared down the rabbit hole watching videos, and discovered the Fit N Stitch FB page run by Porsche Parcher with even more cool videos! Then I found myself entering stitching challenges ... minimum 7000 stitches of one colour by October, and 100 stitches a day for two weeks ... but I can't find the link back to that one.
Now I'm all ready to start stitching my first HAED (Heaven & Earth Designs) cross stitch pattern. While the pattern calls for 25 count linen, I decided that just wasn't do-able, nor 25 count Lugana - I just couldn't see the holes! So I decided to stick to what I'm already familiar with.
Prices for everything sourced in New Zealand are of course insane, with the cheapest floss I can get being off Trade Me for $1.40/skein + $1.70 postage. Of course, it turned out cheaper to get the extra 4 skeins of dark brown from Spotlight for $1.60 each. A packet of Aida was $25, and I also picked up a nice little storage box, spare needles (26/28), and a Bobbin Winder.
So far, gridding the 18 count Aida has taken around 13 hours, and is three-quarters gridded with gold Sulky Sliver, with the vertical and horizontal axes labeled with black fine-tip marker, and the edges are zigzagged to prevent fraying; The Mini Owl pattern is printed in colour, and put in a clear file folder, my first colour marked with orange highlighter; the large bag of floss was very kindly supplied by Super Floss Fairy Bonni Feltz, while the smaller bag is from my stash; The Pako grid magnifying gizmo I ordered on Ebay has arrived from Ukraine! The backing plate is magnetic, and the magnifying grid marker has little magnets, so will hold the pattern still, and I can more easily keep track of where I am (and it's so much classier than a grotty old baking tray!).
I'm just waiting on the red Guideline monofilament line to arrive from the US to finish the gridding on the right-hand-side of the fabric.
I also purchased an app called EZPDF Reader Pro, which allows me to search and highlight each symbol on the pattern - so far I haven't been able to make it save the changes, but that's ok, but this means I can more easily make sure I've found every single freaking event of that symbol. I'm going to be doing what's called 'extreme cross-country stitching' - this means that for DMC Colour 3371 Black Brown, there are 14,878 stitches to be done, all over the pattern.
The usual technique is to do one 10 x 10 square box, 'parking' your threads in the fabric - this means you could have at least a dozen threads of different colours hanging from the fabric till you need to use them again - I've tried this with just one thread colour, on the Hydrangea's and it drove me nuts! You can see the pattern, Aida and floss in the picture below:

And, of course, most importantly, it's all sealed with the 'cat-butt' of approval, courtesy of Mr Smudge!
Back in mid-January I started doing HIIT workouts three times a week and a ketogenic diet (Low Carb, Medium Protein, High Healthy Fat). While the workouts have become a bit erratic, the dieting has continued, and I've lost 7kg so far, down from 74 to 67kg. I also started trying to walk 10,000 steps most days - and up until the weather turned crappy, have mostly succeeded.

10 January (74 kg)

 14 April (68kg)

We're off to Bali for a 2 week holiday from the beginning of June, so I hope to have lost another kilo or two, and be closer to my 62kg goal weight. This goal is sure to change, as I can't actually picture myself at 62kg, let alone anything less!
I've seen huge improvements in my health, especially with the addition of 600mg of Magnesium daily smacking those 'super-hot' flushes down to just 'wee warm ones'.

All right, that's enough for one morning. Far too long, but I feel like I'm more up to date now! I intend to blog more regularly, because while I still journal pretty much daily, it's hard to put photo's in there, and it will be a whole lot shorter!

Have a happy day!