Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy, Happy Mail Day!

It's a happy day today because the mailman has been! What's the big deal about that you might be wondering. Well, if there's a downside to living in Spain it has to be the mail delivery which is hit and miss at the best of times but during the months of July and August it is definitely a case of more miss than hit.
I can go for a week without getting so much as a bill and when you're waiting for something to arrive that you might be looking forward to it's a frustrating experience.
I had ordered some quilting fabrics from Hancock's of Paducah on 9th July and the package arrived this morning. That's just over three weeks airmail!!!!
Sadly three of things I had ordered were out of stock but here's what I did get.
Red and white print to finish off some of the Redwork stitcheries I plan on doing and a cute rooster print fabric to make a quilted wallhanging for the Redwork rooster (see previous post.)
I also have a yard of Kona cotton Snow for embroidery projects. Up to now I've just been practising on muslin but am ready to work on something nicer. and a half yard of a pale blue floral that I loved because it has a shabby chic look to it.
I also have a copy of the Hancock's catalogue. Wow, this will keep me happily browsing fabrics for hours on end. I'm sure to be ordering again soon thus starting a whole new cycle of waiting for the mailman.
Here's wishing everyone a happy mail day today!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cock a doodle do!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a couple of small projects to share that were finished over the weekend.
One is a little tote bag sewn in Christmas fabrics for a November fundraiser that my quilt group is doing in aid of breast cancer research.
The other is a Redwork rooster. I had wanted to finish this up into a quilted banner with some fabric that I ordered from Hancock's of Paducah. The package is taking forever to arrive so I may show a before and after picture later on.
This is only my second Redwork piece and I'm really enjoying this type of embroidery. I still have a lot to learn but I love the way it grows so fast and the fact that I can watch TV while stitching knowing that it is impossible to miscount!
I've also uploaded a few pictures taken this morning while I was at a friends house for coffee. She lives only a few feet away from the ocean and it is just stunningly beautiful.
To the right of one of the pictures (taken from her verandah)you can see some rocks which are the archaeological site of some Roman remains. The remains are open to the public. I've been round the site and it's very interesting.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another fiesta!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that if there is one thing the Spanish seem to enjoy it's a fiesta and yesterday saw the grand finale of a week of celebrations in honour of the Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of fisherman.
July 16th is the day the statue of the Virgin is taken from the church and then out in a procession through the streets until it gets to the beach. Here it is taken out to sea in the decorated “jábegas”, accompanied by her faithful devotees, while the rest of the village residents and crowds of visitors look on from the shore.
There were dozens of small boats escorting the big one that took the statue out to sea. After half an hour or so of prayers and hymns the boats returned to the port where the illuminated statue was carried back through the streets and finally returned to the church and the evening ended with a spectacular firework display.
Even though I've seen it before the entire evening was magical. There is something very special about witnessing this yearly event.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The tale of two lap quilts.

In my previous post re my finished cross stitch piece I had laid the stitching on a quilt for the photo shoot.
Heidi, an avid cross stitcher and quilter extraordinaire who is a member of my stitching group, had asked in the comments box about the quilt which she recognized as being made from Thimbleberries fabrics.
So here begins the tale of two quilts...............
About four years ago, maybe a little longer, I decided I wanted to try quilting.
Even further back than that I'd been to a few quilt shows as I just loved to look at all the glorious quilts on display.
I joined a Yahoo group - I don't remember the name of it now but I learned quite a lot from the people posting to the group.
There was talk of a St Patrick's Day swap and I was eager to join. We were split into groups of twelve and each had to make twelve blocks of our choice using green and white fabrics.
I chose to do Jacobs Ladder. I remember struggling a bit as I was inexperienced but somehow I finally finished my twelve blocks.
When the blocks were done they were to be sent to the swap hostess who swapped them back out. I received one of my own blocks plus eleven others. Some were made better than mine and some were worse so it was interesting to see how others worked.
Meanwhile the blocks lay untouched with the vague notion that one day I might make them into a quilt.
Shortly afterwards I discovered how much I loved the Thimbleberreis range of fabrics and I joined another Yahoo group that was devoted exclusively to Thimbleberries.
The group would hold a monthly bingo. To enter, each person had to make a block the design of which had been chosen by the previous month's winner.
When bingo was called everyone would send their completed block plus one FQ of TB fabric to the winner for that month.
I entered several times and finally hit the jackpot! BINGO I won lots of lovely blocks all beautifully made and a whole bunch of fabrics I hadn't seen before.
I'm sorry to say my quilting never really took off. I was still working full time and was exhausted at night when I got home. I found cross stitch much easier to just pick up as and when I felt like it so I gave up quilting for the time being with the idea that I would start back up once I retired.
Well, sometimes things don't always go according to plan because we decided to retire to Spain. As part of my downsizing operation I packaged the quilt blocks up
and sent them to my wonderful penpal Sharon who lives in Iowa, USA.
Sharon and I had met through the pages of the Just Cross Stitch magazine but she had long since given up stitching in favour of quilting.
The first year we were here Sharon came out to Spain to visit us. Well, imagine my surprise when she presented me with two beautiful lap quilts made from the blocks I'd given her! She is the kindest and best person in the world and I am so fortunate to have her in my life.
Sharon had put the quilts together and then sent them to be quilted. The green one has some beautiful feathery quilt patterns and the TB one is cross hatched? I think......
So Heidi, if you are still with me that's the tale of my two quilts.
I've spent today working on my set of Thimbleberries blocks and this time I'll be making the quilt myself. I still have no idea how it will be quilted but I'll meet that problem when I come to it.
Oh, and I highly recommend you to visit Heidi's blog. If I were not so technically challenged I would give you the link but I have no idea how to do that so just go to
http://needlenecessities.blogspot.com/ and enjoy!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Geranium House is finished!

I have a cross stitch finish at last!
This design is Country Cottage Needleworks Geranium House. I stitched it on 36 ct Summer Khaki linen by Zweigart using mostly DMC threads and Pomegranate by the Gentle Arts Sampler Threads.
I'm not sure what I'll be stitching next..........I have way too many things started and think I need to finish up some of those before starting anything new.

Ship ahoy!

On Friday we went into Alicante by tram to see the tall ships that were moored at the port.
What a magnificent sight they were! Some were open to the public so we chose to go on one of the biggest that had four masts. It was from South America but we saw ships from France, Russia, Amsterdam, Romania, Spain of course, Portugal and Uruguay to name but a few.
The fleet features between 70 and 100 vessels from some 15-20 countries, staffed by thousands of young trainees who enjoy the experience of a lifetime. The aim of the Race is 'To enable young people of all nations to race together at sea under sail'.
Initially, the fleet gathers for pre-race practice on Spain's Mediterranean coast, at Alicante, followed by the first race up the coast to Barcelona.
Among the pictures I've posted are one of the tram took into Alicante and there's also a shot of one of my most favourite buildings in Alicante. An apartment block that has just been restored to it's former glory. It is so very elegant and quite beautiful. Be sure to click on the picture for a better view.
In the background you can see the castle way up high.
I've been up there and the views from the top are just spectacular.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

How it all began

Yesterday I was reading Bren's blog http://piecesfromme.blogspot.com/where she told how she got started on quilting.
That started me reminiscing about how I got started on counted cross stitch.
It must have been about seventeen years ago....... I remember going to a little needlework shop in my lunch hour where I bought a tiny kit that had a floral design by Permin of Copenhagen. I couldn't wait to get home. That evening I eagerly opened the kit and, to my dismay, found a blank piece of fabric! Oh no, I had imagined the pattern would be stamped on the fabric and I'd be stitching in no time.
After a few failed attempts I threw it to one side and my daughter, aged about 14 at that time, asked if she could do it. I told her she could have it, she took it to her room and imagine my surprise when she showed me the finished piece next morning!
The only error I could see was that she had used one strand of the DMC instead of two.
My daughter became very interested in cross stitch at this point and I bought her several kits but I'd completely lost interest, thought it a total waste of time, and returned to my knitting. I'd admire her efforts but had no desire to try cross stitch again.
A couple of years later I got to know someone at my work that did cross stitch and I decided to have another go. I bought a needlework magazine that had a little kit on the front and this time, with help from my daughter, I finished it!
I remember being proud of my efforts and still have that little card to this day.
My next attempt was a Moira Blackburn sampler kit which seemed a huge undertaking to me back then. I still wasn't patient enough at the slow process of doing counted cross stitch because I started it only to throw it aside for several years.
Meanwhile I did improve a lot by stitching on smaller projects that gave the satisfaction of actually finishing something and it was around this time that I really became obsessed with stitching.
I finally picked up the sampler again in 1995 and finished it even though I knew by this time that it was full of mistakes and not very well done at all. The border didn't meet up and I remember, horror of horrors, just fudging it!
I still love that pattern to this day and only wish I'd kept it as I would love to stitch it again, properly this time, on linen using silk threads.
Moira Blackburn is still up there with my favourite designers, I still love samplers of all kinds and even have a MB sampler (Peaceful Garden) as a WIP.
I still have a lot to learn about stitching and embroidery but one thing I know for sure is that working with a needle and thread, no matter what the style of embroidery, is a wonderful pastime.