Saturday, 5 January 2013

2012 - The Year of the Needle & Thread

I feel kind of bad for crochet you know. Poor crochet didn't get a look-in in 2012 in my life. I made a few squares at some point in the hopes of making a blanket but they were merely an exercise in distracting myself from the bad news of the redundancy and nothing ever came of it.

Even after I'd moved to Preston I think there was a hook in my hand only a couple of times and I just couldn't bring myself to get enthusiastic about it.

Cross stitch however. My first love, has accompanied me all the way through the year. I didn't even know I'd been stitching until I had a look back at what I'd completed this year. Unfortunately I can be pretty lame when it comes to actually photographing what I've produced - I need to work on that.

(Pattern from CrossStitcher)

For instance, without even realising, I managed to cross stitch about 12 Christmas cards, despite saying that I wasn't going to bother this year. I vaguely remember having a complete cross-stitching frenzy at the beginning of my unemployment period and I think that's when they were all produced. But unfortunately there is no photographic proof, you'll have to take my word for it.

As has become standard, my go-to for cross-stitch patterns is CrossStitcher magazine - since it had its make-over in 2011 it has become the coolest cross-stitch magazine about at the moment. It must be hard for them, there tend to be all kinds of ridiculous comments on their Facebook page from disgruntled people wishing there was more "traditional" patterns in the magazine, but there are loads of magazines offering that kind of jazz, and I hope people find CrossStitcher before they think that there's nothing out there for them.

Pattern from CrossStitcher

What I did do in 2012 was branch out a bit. Most of my cross stitch in the past has been in the form of cards because I've not known what else to do with it or have found any bigger patterns that I like the look of.

This year however I've done some bigger pieces - most of which have been given as presents - an excellent idea given that 2012 was not very blessed money-wise.

One of the favourite things I stitched was the above and below birds for a Christmas present for my friend. I love these Scandanavian style patterns although it was not as simple as anticipated - there's a whole bunch of backstitch here which made me want to pull my hair out at times.

Although I did finally conquer the ever elusive french knot, meaning that I completed one of my Not Really Resolutions.

I do need to get better at framing things in hoops though - this wasn't my finest work but hopefully I'll get better with practice.

I also had a frenzy making some bunting cards and then decided to take them one step further by stitching on the flags to spell out a name or message. The below card was made for my niece for her birthday in October.

It's a good idea but only if you have someone with a 3 or 5-letter name, otherwise you can't make the flags fit, and having an even number just doesn't work, it doesn't look right.

I need to make more of these because they don't take that long to knock up and they look pretty good, but more blank cards I needed, I went on such a roll this year that I've finally used up all the blank cards that have been hanging around for a couple of years!

As I mentioned in my round of up of Not Really Resolutions I finally finished my France 2010 album and this has definitely been something I enjoyed. I'd like to do more stitching on cards/photographs if I can this year.

 The first big piece I did in 2012 was the below fairy castle which I completed in March 2012, even though it wasn't given as a present until October for my niece's birthday.

It was the ideal first big project because it was basically blocks of colours. Not loads of annoying faffy colour changes, you just stitched a block and then moved on to the next. It also meant it was pretty easy to do in terms of counting, much less chance of you cocking up and going wrong.

The backstitch did take a long time though, I decided to do it all in one go at the end and although I sighed sometimes, it was actually pretty good as the backstitch added the detail, meaning the picture really came alive as I stitching.

Pattern from CrossStitcher

I took it over to my brother's to give to my niece but said she probably wouldn't be fussed about opening it, she is only 2 after all, but she surprised me by ripping the paper off and going "OH WOW!" and then tried to carry it about everywhere.

I'm not sure if it was the picture or just opening a present that made her excited but it's hung up in her room and my brother has assured me she loves it.

The biggest project I did this year though kept me going through my unemployment, and for that I am grateful.

I did the owl and the pussycat for Little Tin Bird's Tiny Tin Bird, and as she got more and more pregnant, my picture slowly got bigger and bigger. There was definitely one time when this was thrown across the room, I counted about 3 times and kept doing part of the boat wrong. When I'd got so stressed out that I had to open a window because I was sweating so much, The Person pointed out that no-one was probably going to notice if the very edge of the boat was one square out.

Pattern from CrossStitcher

I absolutely loved this picture and at one point I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to give it up. But it turned out that Heather had a damn cute baby and I relented and decided to hand it over. But I'm not going to lie, don't be surprised if this picture appears in my house at some point - baby or no baby.

Patterns from CrossStitcher (sensing a theme?)

I did manage to stitch and keep something for myself in 2012 though. This set of vegetables are now individually framed and hanging in my kitchen back in Preston.

(Tell you what though, it's hard to take photos of things once they're in frames, damn reflective glass.)

They surprisingly didn't take long to stitch up at all, even though there's a hell of lot of colour changes involved in them. In fact it took waaaaaay longer to frame them than to stitch them - I always seem to fall at that hurdle when it comes to properly finishing off my stitchy stuff.

I really loved the frames on these photos and I hover between which is my favourite - the carrots or the tomato - because that's just what I do when I'm hanging out in my kitchen.

But I didn't isolate my needle and thread activities to aida/evenweave/fabric - oh hell's no. This year on my very long walks as part of my stupid commute I started to notice all the leaves on the floor. Some of them were so beautiful and I wanted to take them home with me...

Crappy phone photo - sorry

...So I did. And made me a leaf garland to hang in the lounge. It couldn't be easier, I just threaded through the leaves and hung it up, easy peasy lemon squeezey.

I did feel like kind of a weirdo collecting them on my walk home but they did make me happy and The Person said it was the happiest he'd seen me in a long time when I walked through the door announcing "I have LEAVES". 

I didn't know how long the garland would last but it was actually up there from the 23rd October until the Christmas decorations went up in mid-December. Some of the leaves curled up a bit but they didn't change their colours and it still looked really nice. You can bet your ass there will be another Autumn garland in 2013.

I'm looking forward to what 2013 will bring craft-wise and I'm hoping for a bit more crochet in my life because I have missed it.

But me and cross-stitch have got a thang going on baby.


  1. We LOVE our Owl & the Pussycat! It's on TTB's chest of drawers. I was so chuffed that you made something for him, let alone something so big and detailed. You're ace :-)

  2. Oh I love the owl & pussycat! How thoughtful of you xx

  3. So much love for everything in this post! Lucky old TTB!! And a LEAF GARLAND! I would have thought they'd crumple within a week! Thanks for the tip about Crossstitcher - will have to nave a nose :)

  4. I'm going to have to get my hands on a copy of CrossSticher these patterns look fabulous. I loved the owl and thepussy cat as a child and recently bought an illustrated book of the poem.
    The birds are my absolute favourite, can you remember the brand of the pattern at all? It's beautiful and I'm a dab hand at a French knot!

  5. Love those veg pictures. Reminds me that i started some cross stitch pictures for my kitchen years ago - they were based on blue and white Dutch tiles and I really loved them. At the time I had a bright yellow kitchen (and I mean really bright, my husband said it was like sitting in an egg yolk, but I loved it!) and I thought they'd look great on the wall. I think I finished 3 out of the 4 but never framed them - now I'm in a different house and have no idea what happened to the cross stitch. Must try and hunt those down! x

  6. Wow - I am so impressed with your stitching - esp the vegetables and the Christmasy stuff! You are like a real pro now! xxx

  7. At the start of last year I tried to get into crochet. I used to do it when i was a kid. However, I bought all the stuff and then I couldn't even work out how to cast on. I gave up pretty quickly.

    Happy New Year by the way!x


Go on. Say something. You know you want to...