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  • I'm ba-aaack!!

    Wow, it's been ages since I last blogged!  I do apologize and hope you haven't all wondered if I hadn't fallen off the face of the planet, LOL!

    It's been a tough start to 2012.  My Fibro has been very bad and I've had many days where I've struggled just to sit upright for longer than a few minutes.  The 'major' flare is starting to ease but I'm still having days when it comes back, very frustrating!  There's nothing much to do except take the painkillers and hope it won't last much longer. :-(

    My wonderful children are doing brilliantly at their respective Universities and I'm so very proud of them!  Jemma is studying Occupational Therapy at Coventry, and getting 1sts for her work.  Ross has just sat his finals for his degree in Medical Science at Birmingham, and has secured a funded place to do a Masters at York University.  I'm one very proud Mum!!!

    As for me - life has been busy!
    My business website is now finally up and running!

    www.beesneedleworks.co.uk

    It has been a bit of a trial to get it there, with the bank acting up, emails going astray, phone calls being 'forgotten', - and it's a long way from looking exactly how I would want it, but it's up!

    Please do come along and check out the gallery, showing off the work of tremendously talented stitchers all over the world, who so kindly gave their permission for me to show their work.

    The Great Escape SAL is nearing it's conclusion, and there are some truly stunning versions appearing!  I can't wait to show them all off to you.  I'm very proud of everyone who has persevered with this project - most of them coped with new styles of stitches they'd never come across before, and did a great job!  Their "Wol's" are simply awesome!

    The next SAL on the group will be a hardanger piece called A Confetti of Hardanger,  taking stitchers from the absolute basics of the technique, right up to more advanced techniques, though you can choose how far you want to go!

    I have been forced to make the decision to make a nominal charge for this new SAL.  It's sad that the actions of a few thoughtless individuals spoils it for the rest who DO abide by my wishes regarding my designs.  SALs on TSS  will still be exclusive to TSS members ONLY.  Once the SAL is finished, the design will go on my website at full price.

    My needle has been busy - I finished stitching up A Confetti of Hardanger (the new SAL) - see below.  I also designed, stitched and made up a needlework accessories set for my partner Kate in the scissor-case exchange on TSS.   It's been received now, so I can show it off to you!  I'm currently about half way through another of my own designs which will hopefully appear on my website soon!.

    A Confetti of HardangerKate's Butterflies (front)Kate's Butterflies (back)

    I was contacted by a lady from a television company who make programmes for BBC2.  They are hoping to make a series about sewing!  They want non-professional sewers, embroiderers, stitchers, etc, who are 'passionate' about their hobby, to get in touch with them.  Filming will take place in the UK this summer.  If you live in the UK and you'd like to be on the telly, go to . .

    www.loveproductions.co.uk/sewing

    to find out more and download the application form.


    I'm off in William again this weekend, fingers crossed the weather is kind - though I'll be taking my stitching with me, of course!

    Happy Stitching everyone,
    Bee

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Angel Wreath Freebie

    Where have the last few months gone?

    It has been buzzy, buzzy, buzzy for me . . a daughter to settle in to University, a son starting his 3rd year at Uni and needing help with accomodation problems (his flat flooded!), a new car to sort out, a new motorbike for my DH, a few more trips away in William . . and that's before all the designing and stitching that's been going on!

    I made the decision it's time for me to start selling designs, so this is another project I've been working on - I'm not quite ready yet but I promise to let everyone know when I am.  Tree of Stitches will be available to buy so those who missed it, or who are not members of The Stitch Specialists, can get hold of it at last!  There will be other designs available too, so keep watching for news.

    Speaking of designs . . I have just released my annual Christmas Gift to The Stitch Specialists.  This year, I've created a little Christmas Wreath with an angel, all worked in easy-to-do speciality stitches, which are clearly diagramed.  The design is very quick to stitch, it's easy to choose your own colour-ways, and would work equally well as an ornament (as I finished it, complete with a bunch of jingle bells at the base!), card, box-top, or a gift bag.  The angel by herself would make the perfect last-minute gift-tag or you could stitch rows of angels on some linen-band to create a cake-band or a festive bookmark!

    Angel Wreath

    The design is free to all members of The Stitch Specialists - my Christmas gift to you!  If you'd like to join, please make sure you fill in and return the questionnaire as we can't accept you otherwise.

    If I don't manage to blog again before the Big Day, I wish you all lots of joy over Christmas.

    Love and hugzzzzzzz,

    Bee



  • A new SAL

    Apologies, everyone.  It has been aaaaaaages since I last wrote - but I have good excuses!  To start with, the flare I was in stuck around and has now added mind-numbing insomnia in my list of symptoms! .

    I've also had computer problems .   Things got so bad, DH was forced to completely re-build my computer!  Good job he knew what to do, I didn't have a clue!

    Despite all this,  I have been very buzzzzzzzzy designing, stitching, fitting in a week's caravaning in Southamptom, visiting my lovely Mum and Dad, and looking after The Stitch Specialists - and lastly, blog.co.uk has been having problems, and today is the first time I've managed to log in for over a week!

    But here I am, phew! 

    First off, I want to talk about The Stitch Specialists because it really is becoming an amazing group - it is still not quite 9 months old, yet as of today it has 260 members, it has 'birthed' two daughter groups, and there are well over 1500 messages a month!   We have members from all over the globe, from those who have never even cross-stitched before, to awesomely talented and experienced designers such as those from Papillon Creations and The Drawn Thread.

    I have to say a massive THANK YOU to my fellow Mods who have kept pace with it all; we really have had to learn and adapt fast!  These wonderful, dedicated ladies give up many hours of their day, every day,  to keep the group 'ship-shape', and I know the success of the group is due in no small part to them.  Three cheers for, Kay, Marguerite and Nancy! 

    The last part of Tree of Stitches went up last week, and it is still a very popular design.  People are still joining wanting to make a start on it, having seen progress pics on blogs all over the blogosphere.  The first few completed Trees have already been shown off and I'm absolutely thrilled to see them all - everything from 'Wonderland Pink' trees (even complete with white rabbit!), to incredibly vibrant 'tropical-fruit' coloured trees, soft heather-and-purple trees, trees in every shade of green imaginable, autumn-foliage trees, spring-blossom trees, even a moonlit tree on a stormy hand-dyed fabric.  No two are the same and the creativity shown has been humbling, as has the determination to learn - many stitchers have never worked on evenweave before, and one amazing lady had never even cross-stitched before - way to go, Danielle!

    The end of one SAL, means the start of another .. this one has been kept a closely-guarded secret, but was finally revealed last weekend.  It's called 'The Great Escape', and here it is . .
    The Great Escape

    This one is almost entirely speciality stitches - only the tiny beetles and the spider use cross-stitch.  The model was stitched on the delightfully-named 'Purpleberry Splurge' 28ct linen by Sparklies, using Gloriana stranded silks, and just a light sprinkling of beads.

    Here it is, all framed up.
    The Great Escape (framed)

    The Great Escape SAL will start in September and the design will be free to members of The Stitch Specialists.  If you would like to join in, we will be delighted to welcome you to the group, but please, please, PLEASE. be aware you MUST fill in and return the questionnaire before your membership can be approved!   We are literally forced to turn away dozens of applicants every month because they don't send back their questionnaires, and it's heart-breaking.

    Designs are all copy-right and password-protected and you wil be told how to get the passwords once you're a member of the group.

    Well, I think that's enough for now!  I hope you are all enjoying your stitching and keeping buzzzy!

    Buzzzzzing off ...

    Bee
    x


     

  • Travels with William . . Cornwall

    Since buying our little 2 -berth touring caravan last year, DH and I have stayed on some lovely caravan-sites - but this one truly took my breath away.  It was the Caravan Club Site at St. Agnes Beacon in Cornwall.

    We arrived on a beautiful, sunny May afternoon, which couldn't have been better.  After we'd pitched up, the first thing I did was to get the camera out and take a photo through William's front windows:-

    St Agnes Beacon Caravan siteSt Agnes Beacon CCS, Cornwall

    We paid £10 per night for this view - Jeremy Clarkson, please note!!  THIS is why people have caravans! 

    Sadly, the beautiful weather did not last; we woke the next morning to an iron-grey cloud, a cold breeze and drizzly rain.  After breakfast, we decided it was a good day to go to the Eden Project, so we locked up and off we went.

    It was still grey, cold and damp when we arrived, but this worked in our favour because it had obviously kept the crowds away.  We drove past car-park after car-park, all empty, and finally found a bay very close the entrance.  We could see they were used to big queues here - covered walkways with seating led us up to the entrance, but we only paused to admire this incredible horse sculpture, made only from drift wood washed up on local shores.

    Horse Sculpture at The Eden Project, Cornwall
    Every piece of wood was chosen carefully for it's curve, length, thickness, etc, to fit perfectly into this incredible life-sized sculpture - from flowing mane and tail, to powerful muscles and pricked ears.  As you can see, I almost felt I could lead this beauty off!

    After buying our tickets, we stepped out to an amazing view - a valley hewn out of the hillsides, sheltering absolutely gigantic greenhouse 'domes':

    Biomes, The Eden Project
    The path wound it's way down into the valley, and I was glad I had my walker with me - but the paths were smooth and there were plenty of things to stop and look at as we went.   In addition to fascinating plants, we noticed some more sculptures on the way, including this one, which I just HAD to take a photo of . .

    Bee sculpture, Eden ProjectMe by the Bee!
    By this time it had started to rain (yes, it's raining on me in that last pic!), so it was into the Biomes.  These are just AMAZING, there is no other word for it.  The moment you step into them, the heat hits you, and everyone starts taking off coats and sweaters.  Unfortunately, it was at this point we realized the camera's battery was low, and we were very restricted as to what we could take photos of. 

    The Rain Forest dome was my favourite - it was just like stepping into another country!  We walked through a Brazilian rain forest, huts in the depths of Asian forests, a lagoon (complete with sand and waterfall), and there was even a mini balloon used by the gardeners to reach the top-most canopy of the trees.  A huge type of lily, which only flowers once a decade, was just about to burst into bloom - we were disappointed at first, and then relieved when the guide explained that it smelt like rotting meat and the scent would have filled the entire dome!

    After the rain-forest, we decided to have some lunch - this was an experience in itself!  The 'bakery' consists of a huge hall filled with benches.  The benches at the back are laid out with a buffet; all the meals are vegetarian and all made from plants grown on the premises.  You pick up a wooden slab for a plate, and choose what dish you want  (I had a vegetable fritata, and DH chose a savoury Danish pastry).  You then take this to a table to sit down.  A 'helper' will provide you with tea, coffee or a cold drink.   Once you've eaten, you go to one of the tills dotted about, and tell them what you ate - they work out your bill and only then do you pay.

    We found this trust in people so refreshing - the Eden Project is a charity and this is emphasized, but even so, I couldn't help but think they must often get people not being entirely honest about what they'd had for their lunch, but as we sat there 'people watching', we didn't see ANYONE not paying.  I think, like us, people were delighted to be trusted and showed their appreciation for it.

    Once lunch (which was utterly delicious!) was over, it was back to the biomes, this time the Mediterranean one.  This was much cooler than the RainForest - but nevertheless, warmer than outside.  The scent and 'feel' of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece enveloped us as we walked around.  There were more sculptures, including this amazing piece showing Bacchus, God of Wine, and his worshippers -

    Bacchus Sculpture, Biome, Eden Project
    Finally, it was back through a wet valley to the car - although we just had to take a last photograph of the gigantic 'WEEE man' (which stands for Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment).  He's absolutely enormous!  If you look down to the left you can see people taking pictures of him, which give you an idea of just how big he is.

    WEEE man, Edent Project

    We came back to William to have dinner, gazing at the views of the sea, no less amazing for the grey sky and the rain!

    Next day, it was looking a little bit brighter, so we decided we would take a risk and go to see the National Trust garden of Glen Durgan.   This incredible garden was created in a valley which cleves it's way down to the tiny fishing village of Durgan.  Because the valley is so steep-sided, it's protected from harsh winds, and plants from exotic places thrive.

    Pond at Glen Durgan Gardens, Cornwall
    There is even a maze made to look like a coffee plantation, complete with palm-thatched 'huts'.  Here is DH, crowing because he only took five minutes to solve the maze (he was tall enough to see over the bushes, which helped a bit, LOL!)

    Maze, Glen Durgan, Cornwall
    I wasn't able to cope with the maze, but I did get around most of the garden with my wheeled-walker - however the garden is very steep and in places there are steps to negotiate, so it's not the best place for wheelchairs.

    Maze, Glen Durgan, June 2011Glen Durgan, 2011Me, Glen Durgan, 2011
    The village at the bottom of the garden is right on the river, and a wonderful place for a picnic if you've brought one with you, but again, not really wheelchair-friendly.  We decided to go back up to the top and have lunch in the cafe, which sold 'genuine cornish fare' - needless to say, it was delicious!

    The next day I was really feeling the effects of walking too much whilst in flare, and decided to take it easy for a morning.  We stayed in William, snug as bugs, reading books, stitching, and gazing at the incredible view, until lunch.  However, a genuine Cornish pasty and a good cup of tea got me itching to be out and about again, but I didn't fancy a long-trip, so we donned walking boots and decided just to explore the coast-line across the road from the camp-site.  We were very glad we did - what an incredible place, and we'd nearly missed it!   Just have a look at these pictures -

    Tin-mine ruins, St Agnes BeaconCoastal path, St Agnes BeaconMe on the coastal path, St Agnes Beacon

    It's not clear in the last photo but the hillside was covered in purple heather that was humming with bees!

    It was with heavy hearts that we packed up the next morning - especially since the sun had come out again, turning the sea to a jewel-like turquoise - but we'd bought local pasties and cakes to take back with us - and some Cornish clotted cream!

    All in all, a wonderful trip away - and I think St Agnes Beacon will definitely be re-visited in the future!

    Our next planned trip will be to Southampton - I can't wait! :-)

    In the mean-time, I am busy sewing, stitching, crocheting and designing . . I'm working on the next big SAL for The Stitch Specialists, which I hope is 'something a bit special', and I'm signed up for the new Chatelaine design that comes out in August, called 'Herbularius'.  In fact, quite a few members of The Stitch Specialists are fans of Chatelaines and we now have a sister-group, TSSChatelaineSAL, to chat and encourage each other while we stitch on these amazing designs.  You MUST already be a member of TSS to join it, though!

    The Stitch Specialists is growing with such speed that it has all been a bit overwhelming.  We have taken on a new Moderator, Nancy, to help out with all the work - she has been brilliant, rolling up her sleeves and getting stuck in to the admin with determination and energy.  Thank you, Nancy!  ((hugs))

    Sadly, I have had to turn away several applicants to TSS because they have not filled out/returned questionnaires.  Please, please, please - if you want to join The Stitch Specialists, check your in-boxes, spam-boxes, etc, for this questionnaire;  and if it's not there, contact the Moderators and ask for one.   It's so frustrating not to be able to approve new applicants because there's no questionnaire!

    Happy stitching all,
    Buzzzzzzzzzing off . .

    Bee
    x

  • May Stitching

    Another month has buzzzzzzed by . . I have so much to tell you about I will have to put it into two posts, I think!

    Last time, I  mentioned I'd been busy spring-cleaning - one of the rooms I 'attacked' was my sewing room!  I thought you might like to see the results . .

    My Sewing Room 1My Sewing Cupboard half-openMy Sewing Cupboard fully open
    I'm very lucky to have double doors opening on to the garden, and a wonderful sewing cupboard made by a company called Facades of Devon:-

    http://www.facadesofdevon.ltd.uk/

    You can't see in the pics but my 'L' shaped desk sits opposite the sewing cupboard, and this is where I sit to do my designing.  Being able to look out onto the garden and the woods that surround it gives me so much inspiration!  I love to watch the birds and wildlife coming in to the garden, too - talking of which, I must just share this with you all!  I recently invested in some squirrel-proof feeders, as it was costing me a small fortune in bird-food to feed the local grey squirrel population . . but nobody told the squirrels these were 'squirrel proof' . . (look carefully in the second globe from the right!)



    So, now that I have given you a 'glimpse' into my world, I'd better show you what I've been getting up to in my lovely sewing room, LOL!

    I began a patchwork/sampler quilt course locally in May, and my first blocks have been made.  Here they are:-
    My first 2 blocks on my sampler quilt

    The block on the left is needle-turned applique, featuring a Rose of Sharon design.   I've tried other forms of applique - this one took the longest but it uses no fusibles or glues, and once I got into the rhythm of it I quite enjoyed it - although I was the only one in the class who did!  I think it's because I'm so used to working with my needle in my hand, rather than my machine!  The block on the right is called '54-40-or Fight'.  I am told this refers to a dispute over the Canadian/American border back in the 19th century - the numbers are the latitude that the Western side of the border hoped for.  It actually ended up being on the 49th so they didn't get what they wanted!  If you've noticed the two blocks aren't the same size, full marks!  The 54-40-or Fight is supposed to have framing around it which I haven't got to yet!

    I've also made some progress with my crochet project - I am making a shrug, a sort of cross between a scarf and a cardigan, something to pull over shoulders on a summer evening, perhaps.  I'm about half-way there, now.  It's been quite a learning experience so far, particularly as I don't know anyone who crochets and can show me how to do things - I'm learning it all from diagrams/instructions, which aren't always very clear!  Anyway, here is my effort so far . .
    crochet shrug progress
    (You can see in the magazine pic how it's supposed to look when finished!)

    Cross-stitch wise, I've been doing some more work on The Wool Gatherer (by Shepherds Bush designs) whenever I've gone away in the caravan (more about my latest escapades in William in my next post!).  The colours on this one are just as lovely as the day I began - I can't wait to start adding the beads!

    The Wool Gatherer (by Shepherds Bush Designs) May 2011

    I also started on another Shepherds Bush piece, Shepherd's Roll.  This was a kit I picked up at a show a couple of years ago.  I hadn't started it because I didn't like one of the bands on it, but I decided that was a silly reason, I was quite capable of changing the band to something I DID like!
    Here it is so far . .

    Shepherd's Roll (By Shepherd's Bush Designs)


    Next, the eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that my counter at the top of my blog has moved up to 12!  This means I am up to date with my goal of learning 2 new stitches per month on my No Chart Sampler!!

    I should perhaps say at this point that Braid Stitch (bottom left of the sampler) is not actually new to me.  It is my 'anathema' - I have tried it several times in the past and hated it.  I could never get it to look right, and my needle always seemed to be going in the wrong direction . . even being taught one-to-one by Jane Greenoff didn't help!  But I was determined to get this one licked, so I got out all my embroidery books and looked at the different instructions for this stitch, until I began to make sense of them . . and FINALLY, I managed it!   (Please don't ask me to tell you how I did it, though - I can't remember, ROFL!!!)

    No Chart Sampler May 2011
    I'm quite pleased with how this one is turning out - and it's such fun to just pick it up, choose a new stitch and 'have a go', without needing to worry about following a chart!  It's giving me lots of inspiration for my designing, too - members of The Stitch Specialists might well be seeing some of these appearing in future SALs, LOL!

    Finally I can now show you the coaster I did for an exchange on Cross Stitch Forum - this was my first exchange with them and sadly I was disappointed.  My partner never got in touch with me, and so I have no idea if she recieved this coaster or not - nor did I get anything in return, not even a message explaining her silence.

    Summer Coaster

    The coaster was adapted from a design in a mag, and the leaves are appliqued patchwork-fabric.  I also popped in a kit for my exchange partner that I thought met her 'likes' and make her parcel extra-special . . I'm beginning to wish I'd never bothered!

    OK, that's it for this time . . I will post again soon with news about my latest venture in William! Happy Stitching everyone,
    Buzzing off . . .
    Bee
    x



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