Winding Threads and Planting Seeds

Having grown up in deepest, darkest Devon (not really, but miles from “civilisation”), I like the idea of green things and plants. I’m not, though, particularly green-fingered, so I like garden centres, but generally they bore me. It’s fortunate, therefore, that one of our local ones happens to be attached to our local Hobbycraft.

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Mark, who likes gardening, can look for things to grow on our balcony, and I can look at threads at my own leisure, and neither of us becomes bored. So I’ve been adding to my collection of threads, with some specific projects in mind (for Christmas and wedding presents) which need colours I don’t already have. Typical, that. I know I can substitute, but for some reason I always feel guilty if I do, so I try not to. And it means I get to venture into haberdasheries, which I do enjoy doing, even if I must exercise restraint. And Mark is planning a little rockery in a large pot, with heathers, as the beginning of our “garden”. It will be joined by more large pots for herbs, and maybe some flowers.

I’ve also, finally, got the last three mini-kits needed for that Advent calendar, so that should be finished in the next month or so.

But now that my threads are all sorted, and I must wait for my linens and aidas to turn up, I’m returning to a much smaller project from the Summer CrossStitcher, of coasters for my new home. Biscuit coasters.

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without him becoming bored

Stitching Away a Crisis

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With the faff of moving fitting in around working full time being compounded by emergency baby-sitting while a parent had appendicitis and associated surgery, not much has been managed in my world of cross stitch. I’m still sorting out my new Stitchery, with my bags of fabrics and boxes of threads all higgledy-piggledy.

The above piece, though, managed to be stitched in a few hours snatched one evening, with the plan of going to my brother and sister-in-law for their cotton anniversary, but I have yet to send it. I’m organised like that. The pattern comes from a World of Cross Stitch giveaway pattern collection, and fits neatly into a 4″ hoop. Or would make a nice card.

The below piece, I stitched a few weeks ago for Mark, for our first anniversary, and I do intend to turn it into a coaster, but it’s currently being used as a bookmark. By me. I designed it myself, but I think the lettering perhaps requires some work. I’m still not sure about the half-crosses.

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Moving

Apparently, according to various studies and research, moving home is as stressful as, say, divorce or bereavement. I expect getting married ranks up there too, although I didn’t find it all that stressful.

Now that Mark’s Master’s course is finally nearing its end, we’re in the process of boxing up our belongings and saying goodbye to the little student flat that’s been our first home. It’s done us well for the last couple of years, although we have rather outgrown it. It’s amazing how stuff just accumulates. Our new place has more space, but I doubt it’ll feel like that for too long!

So far, though, I think the most stressful thing has been the discovery that we were sharing our home with a false widow – and sadly while I was gently evicting the poor spider, Mark was too busy hovering a few feet away to take photos to prove it. Compared to the (probable) wolf spider we had last year – nasty vicious aggressive thing; it bit me. Not something I’ll forgive easily – the false widow was very well-behaved. And seems to have kept any other large spiders out.

To be honest, the most stressful thing I find about moving is making sure I leave the place in as sparkly a manner as I can. Actually packing up my traps and moving? That’s a piece of cake. As long as the kettle, a mug and tea bags are the last thing in, and the bed is the first thing made in the new place, it’s easy. Cleaning the old place until it shines? Less easy, especially if boxes are still in it and there’s other people just hanging around…

Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates

When it comes to my reading choices, I do like a nice, cosy murder-mystery. The thrilling, mile-a-minute, action-packed versions of James Patterson and the like, are not what I want to sit down to with a cup of tea and a biscuit. They’re just too energetic.

I much prefer the likes of Poirot, Marple, Holmes, Hannisyde and Hemingway – and now Miss Phryne Fisher.

I discovered Miss Fisher via the quite wonderful Australian TV adaptation, on Netflix, and was hooked from the first note of the theme tune. The books, though, I see have been floating around since the ’80s.

Phryne (named after the courtesan of Athens, rather than Psyche the nymph because her father was drunk at the christening) is a ’20s flapper, moving to Melbourne because, firstly, London is becoming boring, and secondly, she’s been asked to investigate the curious illness of the daughter of a neighbour, who married an Australian. Having grown up in poverty in Australia, and whose family only inherited the title and wealth because of the Great War, it feels like going home to Phryne. Her assignment is quite straight-forward: to find out if this daughter is being poisoned by her husband.

Only, of course, things are never that easy, and Phryne becomes involved in all manner of interesting things, starting with the hunt for an illegal abortionist and ending with a drugs ring.

For a cosy mystery, it is actually quite gritty, but it’s done with a light touch. I’m definitely going to find the other books, because I have to wait for season 3 to come out on Netflix and I can’t do without Phryne and Jack (I’m already near the end of season 2 for the second time), and I’d like to see where the series has deviated from the original. And I want to find out where Murdock Foyle comes into it, since he wasn’t in the first book.

Unfinished Projects

It is the curse of Cross-Stitchers – and, probably, crafters of all varieties – that they should possess a “Current Projects” box, which is probably full of a half-dozen incomplete projects. At a minimum and at any one time. Occasionally the number will change, but most likely upwards, although sometimes one might be removed and completed.

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It is, you see, our fortune – both good and ill – that there should be so very many beautiful designs out there, such that we could do with more than 24 hours in a day, or no sleep, that we might complete them all. The stitcher’s version of having several books on the go at once.

I try to restrict myself to the single, monthly magazine I buy, but even then I have a list, and a queue. My list stretches back over the last eight months’ worth of magazines, and every so often I’m impelled to hunt down a back issue based on someone-else’s project being displayed in the pages of the current one. Which only adds to my list. And then, of course, I sometimes try my hand at my own designs, which doesn’t help.

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I still have a Current Projects box though, although I do try to finish the actual cross-stitching before I put things in or move onto the next project.

It’s the finishing I have problems with. I have coasters without backs, cushions without covers, clocks without faces, and pictures without frames. All stuck in my little box. And I still haven’t finished that Advent calendar!

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The Queen in Her Counting-House

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Isn’t eBay a wonderful place to shop?

I came home to a collection of 175 Anchor embroidery threads this evening, and only a third are duplicates of shades already in my stash. I foresee a few happy evenings sat in front of a film or TV series peacefully winding my new threads onto bobbins and organising them neatly in my thread-boxes. I shall probably require more bobbins though.

But I’m one step closer to having a full set of Anchor threads, and I hopefully have more of the more common ones so I can more easily take up new projects.

Summer Meadows

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When it comes to thinking about the future, there’s something so wonderfully optimistic about sunshine.

Miserable weather depresses the soul and makes it all feel so terribly futile, but sunshine now – ! Sunshine makes anything feel possible, however impractical or unlikely.

Sunshine also helps calm the mind in the face of extreme stress; doesn’t the cat look so happy and stress-free? Cross-stitch is just as calming, even on rainy days. You can’t stitch angry or stressed, or you’re too likely to miscount. Leastways, I am, but it is quite soothing to stitch. I expect it has something to do with the amount of concentration required. There’s no room for anything else when you’re counting crosses and making sure your threads are the right ones.

What say you: does stitching soothe your troubled mind too?