Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - New Country, New House, New Passport and New Baby!

Well, I know I left you all wondering if the country air had completely turned my brain but I must say I had no idea Blogger would put that post on the original date, silly me for not noticing!

It is six hours and 43 minutes to the New Year and so this will be the last post for what was a fairly tumultuous year.  We moved back to our homeland, rented a flat and then a barn, sold a house in Michigan, became citizens of the country we had just left (yes, I know, crazy, but there you are), hosted two sets of American visitors to the barn, visited Helsinki and Istanbul as well as the US five times and the very best news of all........... welcomed the arrival of Duncan James on December 29th, our third grandchild, brother to William and cousin to Liam!  His father called to tell us the news and we heard him cry at only about ten minutes old!  He is named after a (many) great grandfather Duncan McDougall on my father's side of the family who we know was married in 1802!

Another tiny bit of news is that I finished the second of my 2011 Crazies!  Put on your magnifiers for this, it is very small!
Bird In Hand
Blackbird Design
GAST Uniform Blue
I really hope that next year will be a huge improvement on this year (well, it could hardly be worse, could it?) and I actually finish a few of the 31 crazies I have kitted up and waiting with baited breath!
I will be back tomorrow with my choice for Day 1 - what will it be?  I know, you are on tenterhooks and can hardly wait, can you?

The festive little basket above hold some of the smalls that I have been given and others I have stitched over the years.  Well, actually only one was given to me, the lovely little initial one in the middle made by my friend, Mouse, for Christmas this year. Thanks, Mouse! The Noel and the Merry Christmas ones in the front are from designs by  Sandy in Montana,, scroll back to her post of December 10, 2010 to find the free charts.  Thanks, Sandy!  I stitched these when I thought it was possible I would have to send an angel stitch to someone for the ornament exchange on Friendly Stitchers but the exchange was completed so I was able to keep them!  I enjoyed making these, especially as I could relive my trip though Sandy's beautiful home state that I took this summer.

And finally, especially for DJ and Disappointed in the North East or Kate as she is usually known, here are some pictures of Wales and the Lake last!

near Llanberis (I think!)

Conwy Castle
built for Edward I and Eleanor of Aquitaine
 between 1283 and 1289

Lake Windermere

Well, dears, a very happy New Year to you all, be safe whatever you are doing and wake up tomorrow with an added zest for this crazy thing called Life and for all my fellow Crazies see you at the Challenge!  Thank you to all my followers and here's hoping I can manage to post more than intermittently in 2012!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wales, the Lake District, a finish or two and some progress

Please read the disclaimer at end of the post........!

I'm not even going to attempt the National Blogging Month challenge, that would be pretty daft, don't you think?  Posting once a month just doesn't hack it.  However, today is the 3rd November and my last post was only four days ago!  In order to jumpstart the whole process, basically what I'm going to do is publish a post and immediately get on with writing the next one, nifty idea, don't you agree?  Of course, where housecleaning, shopping, walking, meals, church, taking care of the WT and stitching comes in all this I have no idea.

Anyway, since the last witterings were about travel far away, let's come a bit closer to home this time, Wales and the Lake District,along with some finishes, some decisions and some progress.  Gosh, it's all go and you just can't wait, can you?

Are you sitting comfortably, children?

A good stitching buddy, Kath, posted on her blog that she had some charts for sale.  Very sensibly, she put a time limit of availability on them so I wandered over for a quick look.  Ooh, Plum Street and CCN, hmmm, a few days later I was the new owner of Favourite Font Sampler and Ladybugs and Butterflies.  Both have gone on my Crazy January Challenge 2012 and this bring me to the decisions.  I have put up a separate page for CCJC 2012 because, dears, I am bound and determined to do better this year.  Well, honestly, I could hardly do worse, could I? Though I might have a tiny finish for this year soon, stayed tuned!

Finishes?  Well, a bit of a cheat here as I can only show one in full as nearly all of them are leaving the barn for an exchange, a couple of RAKs, and an angel stitch.

This was what I sent to Maureen as part of the Friendly Stitchers needlebook exchange, I had to confess to Maureen that the thistle and initials should have been on the back inside the frame.....
Maureen sent me this one, the count was quite small and it is lovely.  Thanks, Maureen!

Ha, see, today is the 21st so I can show the angel stitch at least as Jo finally got her biscornu as part of the Summer Sensations biscornu exchange.  Sadly, her partner defaulted on not just one but TWO exchanges on Friendly Stitchers having received two lovely pieces from her partners. Luckily this is a rare occurrence on the group, we have  wonderfully dedicated stitchers who LOVE to surprise and delight their partners!

 I used a pattern designed by my friend, Mouse, which is now on general release in the group.  The colours were MUCH brighter than I usually use and apparently Jo's daughter, Miss D,  rather fell in love with it!
from Gillie to Jo

Last weekend, Remembrance Sunday here in the UK, and Muggins decided (on Saturday) to stitch a poppy, make it into a little ornament and wear it around her neck for church.  It turned out really well and I got some compliments but the last stitches were being put in at 8:30 am and the service was at 10!  I found the pattern here on Kell's blog.  Thanks, Kell!

My Remembrance Day necklace

Okay, I know, today is 3rd DECEMBER, what is the fool talking about, well, all I can say is, time goes with the speed of light here at the barn and somebody moved onto another month without letting me know.  I thought, darn, I am NOT wasting these words and so  here you are, enjoy, lol!  As the sharper amongst you will observe, there are NO pictures of Wales, the Lake District or indeed of any progress but fear not, dear hearts, I will be back, God willing and the creek don't rise, sometime  before 2012!

Thanks for reading this far and please, somebody comment before I sink into a deep depression!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Istanbul and not a Stitch in Sight!

Good grief, it's the last day of October and a month since the last post!  So what has been happening at the barn?  Well, I got to go somewhere I'd always wanted to visit - Istanbul!  Who am I kidding?  There isn't anywhere I don't want to visit!

Every type and flavour of Baklava!

This dragon boat is the "kitchen" where they grill the
most delicious fish sandwiches which are then handed
very precariously to the servers on the Eminonu waterfront
just down from the Galata bridge.  Strong stomachs are needed by
 the chefs as these little boats can rock quite violently in the wake of
 the frequent ferries that pass up and down the Bosphorus!
Istiklal Caddesi, the main pedestrian thoroughfare. definitely
the place to be on a Saturday night.  At the end of the
street is the Tunel, a funicular built by the French in 1874,
making it slightly younger than the London Underground
A backgammon bower!

Looking towards Asia going under the Bosphorus bridge

Sultan Ahmet Camii (the Blue Mosque)
 commissioned by a nineteen year old!
Sponges, soaps and soothing lotions

I wanted to buy every one of these pashminas!
The Egyptian or Spice Bazaar
Just looking at the pictures and checking names in my guidebook makes me want to run to the airport and get on the next Turkish Airlines flight!  I didn't see everything but left plenty for the next visit.  Talking of Turkish airlines, they could teach American Airlines a thing or two about airline food!  It was delicious, tasty and spicy, are you taking notes, AA?
Thank you for reading this far on what appears to be a travel blog with not a stitch in sight!  It's late and I am tired so I'll save the stitching for another day.  I enjoy comments or emails so much so don't steal away without telling me you were here and a cheery wave to all my new followers, thank you!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Helsinki Part 2, Gifts and Stash!

Well, the weather pixies finally got it right, the most gorgeous weather this week!  Everyone was smiling as I walked to and from town today and I ended up having a lovely conversation in the lane with a nice lady called B- and an exchange of phone numbers!

Yesterday was the short walk (only six miles, lol) with the Kingsley Walkers, and unlike the 33 stile marathon of last time,there were none at all, just kissing gates along the river and the canal and a lovely lunch at the Leigh Arms afterwards.

Note the salad growing on the roof of the barge!

The pub floor
Now back to Helsinki, the furthest north I have ever travelled but with still a long way to go before you start going down the other side!  One of the attractions of visiting was to meet Niina whom I know from Friendly_Stitchers.  She was so generous with her time and hospitality, we met three times ending up with dinner in her apartment with her and her gorgeous daughters to whom I am known as Chille !

This is a combination of the lovely gifts that Niina presented me with, tea, candles, an LK chart and a tiny biscornu stitched by her and a whole metre of fabric, a book and some scissors that I was forced, able to buy when she made, went with me into a shop that was closing down and a bookshop!  And I am here to tell you that a metre is a LOT of fabric (25 count for inquiring minds!).  What do you mean, I forgot to show the chocolate, what chocolate, lol?

These gorgeous shawls were knitted in a linen yarn
and I wanted to buy them all!

Marimekko, the wonderful clothing and textile
company, where a second mortage would be helpful!
Ha! Foiled those bicycle thieves!

The Lutheran Cathedral in Senate Square
which dominates the Helsinki skyline.  On the
smaller domes the decorations looked
 remarkably liked Smyrna stitch or Algerian Eye!

The Sibelius Monument - when it was unveiled in 1967
 the reception  was somewhat negative.
 The pipes catch the wind and make their own music.

 A little rain should never stop one having coffee with a friend!

One of the many delicious looking stalls
at Hakaniemi Market Hall
Back home again (for a while, lol!), I nearly missed that I had won the giveaway on Melissa's blog but thankfully all was well and this arrived in the post in a very short time, the Earth Sampler from Primitive Needle.  Thank you so much, Melissa, the first giveaway I have ever won and it will be one of my Crazies for 2012!

Mouse kindly edged all the pieces of linen that I bought at the Nimble Needle a couple of weeks ago, I really should not have got started down this road...... it really doesn't feel "right"now to stitch on a piece that hasn't been overlocked/serged.  Thanks, Mouse ! 

There were quite a few pieces of fabric that came home with me as I made the mistake of picking up not one but two baskets of linen that Chris had invitingly placed on chairs and sitting down with them on my lap!  One contained larger pieces and the other offcuts, perfect for smalls and ornaments,in all  thirteen pieces came home with me and two patterns.  I did hold off on threads though, only two 'fell' into my shopping basket!

Linen and patterns, La D Da Polly Wolly Doodle
and the Drawn Thread Cloister Garden
So what have you actually stitched on, I hear you cry?  Well, a bit of this and a bit of that, a needlebook for an exchange which I need to hustle on and oh, flushed with success at keeping up with  Carol's SAL, I decided to join the six part one in TGOSM which began in August.  It called for Valdani threads and the most inexpensive I could find were from Anita's.  To be even more frugal I asked for them to be sent to a friend in Michigan and the WT agreed to bring them over earlier this month.  Anita was very efficient and the threads arrived with the speed of light.  But, as you can see,  by now we had got to the middle of September and I had yet to begin!  This is my progress so far and the third part will be issued the day after tomorrow!

My Lovely Sewing Tools by Maria Suarez
a SAL in 6 parts
Well, dears, I hope that wherever you are you are among friends and enjoying life and remember that there are ALWAYS two sides to every story!

 To all of us revelling in an Indian summer long may it continue and that we remember how good the sunshine felt when we reach the damp and drippy days of winter or the freezing and fridgid ones depending on where you are!

 I will leave you with this last photograph !  See you in October!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Line Dancing, an LNS and Helsinki part 1!

Excuse me while I get my breath back... goodness, that's better!  A friend, Debbie, made  um, persuaded me to go line dancing this afternoon in the next village.  Despite having lived in the States it is something that I've never done and since I have NO coordination whatsoever I had no great expectations for the afternoon.  We learnt three sets of steps, the Electric Slide, the California Freeze and something else that I was hopeless at so am obviously blocking, very Freudian!  Much to my surprise, it was fun and by the end of the session I was sort of, kind of, almost doing it properly.  We'll see how much I retain by next Monday.  There are quite a few videos on the ubiquitous YouTube and they were quite helpful, I had a look when I got home.

I sent off the giveaways and Elaine has already received hers.  Someone remind me NOT to put magazines on ever again, it is not cheap to send to the States!

Well, what's been happening?  Working backwards, a trip to an LNS just in Wales but with a Shropshire address. A lovely day was had by all,  visiting
The Nimble Thimble, The Mill, Llangedwyn, Oswestry.
Tel: 01691 780 088.

Owned by Chris, a most hospitable lady who had coffee, tea and biscuits waiting for us.  Despite not being on the Internet Chris has been in business for thirteen years, stocking cross stitch and needlepoint as well as framing your masterpiece.  If you are going to be at Harrogate this year stop at her stall and see what treats she has brought.

Isn't it lovely?  Such a good day and definitely worth the drive as I was in need of a cheer up as the WT had flown off to the States that morning for a week, sigh.  I was fairly restrained, only three charts, a couple of threads and, okay, I admit, a fair bit of linen which my chum, Mouse, is kindly serging for me.  I'll put up a picture when that arrives.

The week before was the Norley Garden show..... what do you mean, you've never heard of it?  It is famous in this part of the world.  Very sensibly, the organisers hold the event behind the pub, the Tiger's Head, which means that there is plenty of liquid refreshment available.  A beer or cider goes down very nicely when you are admiring the prize onions and dahlias, I can tell you.  They have a needlework section so might think seriously about entering next year. 

Not part of the show, just a rather wild but pretty garden
 that we walked past on the way to the pub

All shapes and sizes of onions!

A lovely old steam engine, beautifully maintained
And finally.......... to Helsinki, where the WT worked and I played, or rather walked and ate delicious food, well,in fact  we both enjoyed some lovely meals.  A very walkable city and only armed with the hotel map I found my way all over the city, and on  three of the days I clocked up 22,000 steps each time which I felt was fairly impressive!

Kauppatori Market is down by the harbour and is so colourful with its heaping amounts of fruit and vegetables, huge mounds of chanterelle mushrooms and peas.

Not sure why the flag was at half mast.  The picture above made me laugh, the knives are a sort of  ungrammatical afterthought!

Salmon soup is good!
Eating in the hotel one night and there was creme brulee on the menu, obvious choice as it is one of my favourite puddings, but wait, no, surely not, LIQUORICE?   All I can say is don't knock it until you've tried it, absolutely wonderful accompanied by lemon ice cream.

To finish, a small piece of stitching, my version of Carol's SAL with which I am keeping up!  So proud of myself, lol!  I'm using SNC Vintage Brown on an unknown piece of 40 count.

Enough of the tour and we haven't even left the harbour!  I'll be back with part 2 of Helsinki and some pictures of ongoing stitching, but, alas, no finishes yet.  Thank you to all my new followers and emails I have received.  I appreciate each and every one of the comments so if you stop by, let me know, don't steal away!

love, gillie x