Thursday, March 08, 2007

Please don't forget to..

change your links to my new blog address....... - I'd hate for you to miss all the fabulous things I have to say :)


Thursday, March 01, 2007


Thanks to Alison, and Anne's comment on her blog - I have moved all my posts over to Wordpress!

Soooo for the future please point any links to:

See you over there :)


A Mini-Finish

I've now completed part 3 of the four-part M Designs piece I am doing. I've just one more initial to do in the top right corner! A "W" and I have to wait for it to arrive from Dragonflydreams to do that.

Here is a picture of the "T" all done. I'm using a Week's Dye Works overdye for all four squares. I'm really liking how this is turning out!

Now, because I'm having a few days off work (I've had all this week - darn girl troubles) and quite possibly once I see the doc tomorrow will still be laid up for a little while longer, I am really getting my stitching mojo back! I am really enjoying putting stitches int o fabric once again.

I 'd like to do a few more little things to reinforce the 'finishing' feeling and then get stuck in to some of the things that have been on the back burner for ages. I wont list them here because I've made promises to myself on this blog before (ha ha!) but I think for every two finishes I will allow myself a new start. How does that sound? I mean I don't have as many starts or UFOs under my belt as 'some' people eh Janine :)

First off the block will be An Open Heart, Then " the pesky Dad's Sampler" ( I quite possibly need to get a new magnifying lamp for that one - the over one is killing my eyes!).

Oh and I"ve discovered the "Google Blog Reader" thingy which is really cool - I now just have to figure out how to get my list into this page. I needed somethign because the pesky blogroll thing never lets me know when blogs are updated, so I went hunting for something else :) THis seems to be working ok and perhaps I will be able to keep up with comments and things now!

I've also started aWordpress Blog but I've yet to figure out how to get THIS blog's posts over to there - I know it can be done though - I am sure I've seen it! If you have any ideas, please let me know :) The template I chose over there is really pretty! You can have a look here!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stash Enhancement

Yesterday I visited a lovely friend who had been 'clearing out' as we all do.

She had in her "I dont' need these anymore" pile a bunch of
Shepherd's Bush designs so I decided to rehome them for her. Aren't I helpful? They are:
  • Simple Threads
  • Angel Pie
  • French Openwork (I REALLY like this one)
  • Wandering Vine (an afghan), and
  • Gathered Hours
I've not stitched a SB design but the are so sweet, I think I 'could' become addicted. The stockings are very cute too and one day I could be tempted to stitch a couple of them for the littlies...before they become 'biggies"

I need more hours...

State of the nation

Last night I started one of the initials in the M Designs project....the letters seem to be a really quick stitch because there's so much more 'space' and less stitches! I should knock over the "T" today. I will need to order the other initial this week I guess so I have it here when I need it!

As an aside - if you happen to have the "W in your stash and you've used it already and you want to trade it - let me know :)

EDIT: Oh I just ordered it from DragonflyDreams so not to worry!

I've had a few health issues lately so am having a week off. Going to sit on my butt in my stitching chair for the entire week I think (that's my plan - but we all know that it is highly unlikely as I need to have medical appts etc....!). Might visit a bead shop or two, visit some blogs I've neglected and generally bum around. Might even just stay in my jammies today...we all need days like that sometime!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wow! Take a look at these!!

Have you seen all the lovely new things over at DragonflyDreams? I've not been over there for a week or so and my jaw literally hit the floor today!

I'm very tempted to pick up a few of the Satin Stitches hardanger designs - they're really beautiful and I really enjoy hardanger. Also Karen has some new candlewicking designs. I've not tried this yet, but my mother is very good at it! I could however, be tempted with these...lovely! Now where is my credit card?

Given my new found interest in stitching smalls I was also really taken by the Cat's Whiskers Alyssum Scissor Pocket, Blessed With Happiness Box, The Birds of a Feather Dilly Bag and the Peacock Stitching Chair although I suspect the latter two would REALLY test my modest finishing skills!

Last time I visited DFD I picked up the Needleprint Samplers (yes I got all four!!!!) They are just charming and I can't wait to start one (or all) of them! The sampler printed inside the dust jacket of "Quaker Schoolgirl Samplers" book is wonderful too and I am just so tempted to drop everything and start one!

I've had a really busy and exhausting few weeks and asked my boss for some 'more' time off this week - so I am going to spend a week stitching and just doing things for me.

(Just for a laugh, the Blogger spellchecker asked me if I wanted to change 'hardanger' to HEADBANGER...I know some will get a giggle out of that because hardanger is a source of great frustration!)

I'm turning into a 'stitcher of smalls"!!!

Here it is...biscornu number two! This one is a motif form the Ackworth Motif book and I used Caron Watercolours in Bark and a really creamy uneven natural linen. It has a very open weave so the watercolours covered really nicely. Again I didn't button it because I didn't want to cover the design up AND I only decided to stitch it yesterday AND I didn't have a suitable button handy ha ha ha! Excuses excuses!

It's for a friend and I doubt she will look at my blog before she gets it so am happy to post a picture today!

I really like these things and I have a few large designs which would lend themselves to bigger versions of this, like REAL cushions!

Can you tell I'm a little distracted from my 'normal' stitching?

I've been making jewelry (SP) too. My dear mum's birthday is in a few weeks and I have started something special for her so will post a pic when that's done as she doesn't read my blog! I'm really happy with how it's moving along.

I'm also thinking about doing a class in polymer clay so I can learn how to make my own feature beads....that should be fun. Will certainly let you know how that goes and show you the results!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Biscornu - what exactly does it mean...

Not knowing what biscornu actually meant sent me on a bit of a research mission today. I checked my "Pincushions" book by Averil Colby. While there were lots of little cushions, none of the biscornu kind appear in there. (I'm thinking I might try a couple of the examples she shows in her book!)

You can find it here at Emli's or here (same edition as I have) for 10% of the price, failing that from ebay if you're lucky! Most of the the ones I have seen though seem to have more modern pincushions featured on the sure to ask if you are buying a newer edition that it has all the great history in it as well :) It's a fabulous book!!

A google search was productive however and as Josephine correctly refers, 'biscornu' is not a noun...rather an adjective, as explained here in Google "Answers". If you're interested, take a look at the whole thread and find out that what I made is acutally a "pique-aiguilles biscornu" or an irregular pincushion :) or a " coussinet biscornu" an irregular little cushion....

All very elegant terms...I'm not sure which I prefer!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ta da!

Well here it is - le biscornu magnifique! (is a biscornu feminine or masculine? I'm going with masculine for now!) Crikey! I just realised I don't even know for sure that 'biscornu' is actually FRENCH....someone please feel free to correct me!

I am not sure I've stuffed it enough and I have yet to find a button for it - but none the less I am happy with how it turned out. Carol WAS right - they are pretty easy to make!
I'm sending this on to someone as a surprise. This person always does lovely things for other people all the time so I thought I might do something nice for this person too :)
I hope they're surprised when they open the package :)

The design is a Judy Dixon one and for the life of me I can't find the page withthe name on! I will hunt it down and edit this post when I do find it!
I'm going to be making a few more of these :) I've not been into needlerolls or smalls in general, but the shape of these has taken my fancy :)
I also feel good about a finish - no matter how small!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A biscornu.....almost!

Well I achieved an almost done biscornu this weekend. It's three-quarters stitched, but I realised too late that I dont have any stuffing so I have to wait until after work tomorrow to stuff it and sew up the last side.

I ended up using a Judy Dixon design, blue lugana and Caron watercolours in Charcoal and a complimentary DMC....I must say it looks ok and I am pretty pleased with how it's finishing up!

Picture tomorrow!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Cat in the Hat is 50!

According to the Borders newsletter I got today, "The Cat in The Hat" is turning 50 on the 2nd March 2007!!
In our lifetime, there may never be another revolution like it. And, as revolutions often do, this one started in a small way. In 1957, Dr. Seuss was asked to write 'a story that first graders can't put down'. Given a list of 236 words drawn up by three experts, Seuss wrote 'The Cat in the Hat' and changed the world as we know it.

The Borders Kids Webpage lists the Cat in the Hat Project 236. On the 2nd of March 2007, at 2:36 pm we are all encouraged to read aloud the Cat in the Hat!

I know I will enjoy reading it to my chickadees! : )

A brand new finishing blog and some interesting facts about mine!

If you're a finishing numpty (like me), wander over to a wonderful new blog set up by Anne and Karen "Focus on Finishing". Here, generous stitchers are giving up their time to bring it all together for those of us with limited skills in that area!!!

Today I am going try making a Biscornu from a free chart so graciously provided by Aurelle. I'll post a picture when done - I'm not sure which of the 14 freebies I will choose but they all look small and easy to complete...wish me luck! A Bisornu is a little pincushion-y thing.

I've also been taking a look at my stats to see where my vistors have been coming from, what you have been searching for on Google that led you to me and taking a look at where you all live :)

It seems Nigella's Ham Recipe has been very popular around the world, because I've had vistors from the UK, India, Switzerland and all over the US looking for that - I hope the story was useful for you! It really was a great feast!

Stitchers have been searching for:

  • Sew To Be Seen Designs -I've completed just one - Maiden's Walk, but I own nearly all of Judy's Sew To Be Seen designs;
  • M-Designs Celtic Heart (I've stitched this several times!);
  • Bargello Fantasy -I'm lucky enough to own this very hard to find chart, but I've not stitched it yet;
  • Bargello - a lovely technique and I'm very partial to how Victoria Sampler uses this one in some of their sampler designs;
  • Genny Morrow's Nova - again I own it but it's not started
As for visitors, you've visted me from:

  • In Australia, Victoria, The ACT, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland (where are the Tasmanians and Northern Territorians????)
  • The UK
  • The Netherlands
  • United Arab Emirates (hi Mel!)
  • In the US, North Carolina, California, Massachusetts, Atlanta, New York, Virgina, Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey( I think I should aim for all states to have visted me before the end of the year!)
  • Cyprus
  • India
  • Korea
  • Turkey
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Japan
  • Greece
  • China
  • Afghanistan
  • Brazil

Edited to add

  • Italy
  • Singapore
  • Mexico

I also note that some of you have visted my other blogs too! I've been a bit slack on the wine blog - not that I haven't been partaking, but I've been very lax in writing about my wine lately - a shortness of time mostly. My music blog will become busier too and if you have a question about Aussie music feel free to ask me there!

Wow - that makes me feel sensational to think that people from all over the world have taken a minute to vist me :) Thanks! I hope you enjoyed your visit and please leave a comment and let me know if you have a blog I can visit too!

Have a great Saturday!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Mini Finish!

Tonight I finished the second of four squares on the M Designs piece. I wont post a picture until it's completely done now so I don't bore you :)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My Christmas Miracle....NOT!

Thanks for all your comments on my Christmas Ham and as is the tale that surrounds it and will ensure that last Christmas goes down in the family memoirs as one to remember!

This post is a copy of a post I made to the cooking bulletin board at work.....

You may recall my request for ways to prepare my Christmas Ham...after much deliberation I chose the Nigella Lawson Coco-Cola method and I wanted to be sure to share with you the experience I had AND the outcome.

Firstly, let me tell you about the ham......I toddled off to my local butcher. George the Butcher and I have a very special relationship; I ask for a kilo of something, he gives me 1.5 kilos (same price for you beautiful lady!) If now you are thinking of Con the Fruiterer, you are in the exact same brainspace as me! George and his lovely wife Helen have been my butchers for 8 years and look after me VERY well....(they even said they would deliver 50k to me in my new house!)

I asked George to source for me a small leg of mildly cured ham, about 5-6 kilos or so would be fine! George (bless him) calls me on the Tuesday before Christmas to tell me that he has a beautiful leg of ham for me. "A little larger than 5-6 kilos," he says, "but will make for fabulous Christmas lunch, you wait and see beautiful lady!!!" A "little" larger turned out to be 11 kilos! And if you recall the Nigella method of cooking (simmering in Coke, then baking) you may well pre-empt my next dilemma! When I told George how I was going to prepare it - he was flabbergasted! I was flabbergasted at the size of it but didn't want to make him feel bad so took the ham anyway!

Firstly, I had to all but clear out my fridge to fit it in for the few days before Christmas!

Secondly - I didn't have a pan big enough to simmer it in! But, luckily after much searching and yellowpaging, on the Friday I found one at The Chef's Hat in South Melbourne (WOW what a shop - cooks' paradise). A nice 40 litre boiler made for my 11kg ham! What a relief - I had mouthed off about this ham so much I was committed to doing it (with hindsight I should be committed for committing to it!). Next, the ham only JUST fit in my oven diagonally, but didn't fit any of my baking trays. However it did fit one of the throw-away foil ones! Again.....Lucky me!!

The next issue was the four litres of coke I had purchased weren't quite enough to cover the massive piece of pork, so I picked up 4 more litres on the way home with the saucepan. You guessed it - after many screams of "I NEED MORE COKE" there was another mercy dash (or two) to the Seven 11 for more of the sticky brown stuff....heaven knows what the neighbours were thinking! EIGHTEEN LITRES OF COKE LATER my ham was covered and simmering nicely. The saucepan just fitted in the space between the cooktop and the range hood and I used all four burners to get the liquid to simmering point.

Now, the recipe called for 1 hour per kilo of ham, but I wasn't game enough to leave it for that long, so I simmered it for a little over 4 hours, but I did leave it sitting in the coke till it was cool(er) and easier to handle. I must tell you here that the smell was NOT the most pleasant thing I've smelt sickly coke with onions? Uuuuugh! And it stuck around for days.

Once simmering was complete, getting the massive saucepan, with 18 litres of coke, and 11kg of ham OFF the stove was a nightmare and had the entire household in fits of giggles for most of the evening! We did get it out the saucepan and into the backing dish eventually, removed the skin (which came away very easily), basted (maple syrup and mustard powder - NOT treacle) and baked. At this point, I was concerned and had to try a little piece and I was not disappointed. I then adorned it with the traditional pineapple and cherries, basted a little more, baked a little longer and VOILA! Sensational Christmas ham.....we did have to reinforce the Christmas table with steel girders to carry the weight of it, but it did look fabulous!

For all this trouble, I The taste was sensational and while I may WILL ensure I get a MUCH smaller ham next year - I will be cooking it in this manner again. It was a hit. The entire family enjoyed it and begged for leftovers!

I KNEW Nigella wouldn't lie to me! I can highly recommend this method of cooking your celebration ham!

(PS: The Christmas Cake Trifle was a hit too!)

And here's the recipe for those game enough to give it a go:(I'm sorry this is from a website somewhere I suspect, but the link and referencece was not provided to me, however I did happen to catch the episode of Nigella on Fox a week or so later and it's almost word for word).

Ham in Coca Cola by Nigella

This recipe started off in How to Eat, but has been subject to some rejigging since (just because it's not in my nature to leave completely alone), and I don't apologise for reproducing, or rather recasting, it because I simply cannot urge you to try this strongly enough. The first time I made it, it was, to be frank, really just out of amused interest. I'd heard, and read, about this culinary tradition from the deep South, but wasn't expecting it, in all honesty, to be good.

The truth is it's magnificent, and makes converts of anyone who eats it. But, if you think about it, it's not surprising it should work: the sweet, spiky drink just infuses it with spirit of barbecue. I have to force myself to cook ham any other way now; though often I don't bother with the glaze but just leave it for longer in the bubbling Coke instead. And the salty, sweet liquor it leaves behind in the pot after it's cooked makes an instant base for the most fabulous black bean soup.

But just one thing before we start: don't even consider using diet Coke; it's full-fat or nothing.

2kg mild-cure gammon
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
2-litre bottle of Coca-Cola

a handful of cloves
1 heaped tablespoon black treacle
2 teaspoons English mustard powder
2 tablespoons demerara sugar

I find now that mild-cure gammon doesn't need soaking, but if you know that you're dealing with a salty piece, then put it in a pan covered with cold water, bring to the boil, then tip into a colander in the sink and start from here; otherwise, put the gammon in a pan, skin-side down if it fits like that, add the onion, then pour over the Coke.

Bring to the boil, reduce to a good simmer, put the lid on, though not tightly, and cook for just under 2 and a half hours. If your joint is larger or smaller, work out timing by reckoning on an hour per kilo, remembering that it's going to get a quick blast in the oven later. But do take into account that if the gammon's been in the fridge right up to the moment you cook it, you will have to give it a good 15 minutes or so extra so that the interior is properly cooked.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 240ºC/gas mark 9.

When the ham's had its time (and ham it is, now it's cooked, though it's true Americans call it ham from its uncooked state) take it out of the pan (but do NOT throw away the cooking liquid) and let cool a little for ease of handling. (Indeed, you can let it cool completely then finish off the cooking at some later stage if you want). Then remove the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat with a sharp knife to make fairly large diamond shapes, and stud each diamond with a clove.

Then carefully spread the treacle over the bark-budded skin, taking care not to dislodge the cloves. Gently pat the mustard and sugar onto the sticky fat. Cook in a foil-lined roasting tin for approximately 10 minutes or until the glaze is burnished and bubbly.

Should you want to do the braising stage in advance and then let the ham cool, clove and glaze it and give it 30-40 minutes, from room temperature, at 180ºC/gas mark 4, turning up the heat towards the end if you think it needs it.

Serves 8

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Some progress pictures...

This is the progress on "Dad's Sampler". It is from the "Australian Embroidery and Cross Stitch" magazine and if anyone really wants to know which issue just ask...I will look (I do think I've posted that info before.)

I've completed all the dividing bands (after much frogging and restitching) and all the lettering is over one - I think the fabric is 32 count Dublin linen but it's been so long since I started this one - I forget!

It uses DMC threads, and horrible DMC shiny stuff - can't recall what that is called (edited to add RAYON! ) and while the effect is nice, the stitching is painful! Lots of lovely Thread Heaven put to use for that stitching!

I will endeavour to finish 'off ragged mountain ranges' during February.....

EDIT: The magazine is Australian Cross Stitch and Embroidery, Vol 7 No 2. You can often pick these up on Australian e-Bay.

Next is Drawn Threads' 'An Open Heart'. I've really been enjoying stitching this again. I've completed the drawn thread areas (5 and 7) as well and the instructions in the leaflet made that a much easier task than how I would have tackled it. My process would have been to withdraw every second thread and re-weave every second but because the border is stitched over the top of the cut threads, there was really no need to go to all that trouble. I love Drawn Thread charts - the instructions are always pretty clear.

The colours in this one are lovely too and so much nicer in real life. I'm using lovely Heritage linen for this one in Cafe Au Lait.

I'm aiming to finish all the 'sampler' during my holidays ('til Feb 13) and then work on the border during February and March.

My M Designs piece in red is coming along nicely too now I have found and fixed the mistake in counting that I made many months ago! I am aiming to finish this square, tomorrow :)

The Celtic Heart design is one I've stitched a few times now as gifts, it is quick and easy to stitch, but so effective depending on the thread and fabric you use :) As I have discussed before there are initials going in the two opposing squares but I'm just not sure whose yet. I'm leaning towards keeping this one myself.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Found the mistake!

Last night, after many months of having the M Designs piece screwed up in the bottom of my stitching bag, I sat, and counted, and recounted, and counted again, then frogged, stitched, and re-frogged till now it is right - because I had made an error somewhere and I couldn't find it!

Yay - I am excited about stitching this one now I have found where I boo-booed and fixed it! The mistake was such that I HAD to find it to continue - it wasn't one that I could just 'personalise' and move on!

It should move really quickly now - as long as I dont make any more errors!

There's nothing like knowing you've made a mistake and not being able to find it, that steals all your motivation away from a piece is there?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Progress...There is some....

I have been stitching with renewed fervour on An Open fact I have progressed past my June 2006 goal (ha! ha! ha!) and completed down to the end of the drawn thread work in area 7! It wan't too difficult and is beginning to look pretty good if you ask me!

My new goal for this piece is to complete the stitching while I am on holidays (not including hte whitework and blackwork borders). That takes me up to Valentines day! If I accomplish that - I might treat myself to a new start!

Would post a photo but my dial-up connect is tooooooo slow! You will have to wait!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Change of address...

And we're in....but not without a few small dramas.

Firstly, settlement didn't happen as planned on Friday.

The vendors couldn't come up with enough cash to discharge their mortgage so their bank wouldn't settle! bummer - I feel really bad for them as really their conveyancer should have let them know long before settlement day how much they needed to pay. I just hope it was only a small amount and not tens of thousands of dollars - who knows? We had to apply for a 'licence to occupy' so we could move in on Saturday still.

The removalists arrived with a huge truck and I thought that it was a bit of overkill however it was full to the absolute brim – the driver had to push the doors shut! I am not sure where it all came from in my tiny little Yarraville townhouse. It is so much nicer to have a bit of space and while the new house is ‘full’ there is lots of space around everything and looks lovely. We are all very pleased.

So now we're in and unpacked and enjoying our new home. All the rain on the weekend highlighted a small leak in the pergola roof but nothing that can't be fixed!

We finally settled on Tuesday and my conveyancer forgot to phone me and let me know! (Conveyancers are good eh?)

Tuesday we went to clean Yarraville. I got there at 7 a.m and made everything ready for Bill to do his tip run....the blind man (but not the type with a cane or seeing eye dog) came to remove the blinds and clean them at 7.30! The carpet cleaners didn't show up so I had to go back there today. I tell you I am not displeased to know that I don’t have to drive all that way again tomorrow.

Cleaning was a chore, and the blooming light fittings even more so - we broke two shades from one light fitting and looked everywhere to try and find replacements - not to be found anywhere - in fact I think the landlord had light shades cut down to fit as the rims were very uneven and jagged. After several trips to the light shop to try differnt ones, we decided just to replace the whole darn lot! $$$$ later.....

I am so tired and I hurt all over. Tomorrow I am having a day off (except for enrolling Liam in school and getting his books!) I might even get my stitching out.

My Ackworth book arrived on Monday and it really is a beautiful work. I can recommend it as a beautiful reference of the Quaker Samplers and in particular the Ackworth schoolgirls. The proceeds from the sale of the book are being used to fund the upkeep of the Fitzwilliam Museum's textile collection too - so it's a winner all round!

On a stitching front, a few of the stitching ladies of Melbourne will pop by on Saturday for a visit and a few friends on the music side in the evening so Saturday will be a nice relaxing day with friends!

Thanks to everyone for all the emails wishing us well and we look forward to hosting you for a cuppa very soon.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Somebody stop me!!!

I did it.....went ahead and ordered the book...

In case you're wondering....this book!

I can't wait till it arrives :)