Thursday, 29 December 2016

Nostalgic Cross Stitch patterns

Christmases at home always make me feel nostalgic.  I remember Christmases spent building cubby houses, watching DVDs (or videos), building marble racing tracks (which my parents had way more fun doing than us kids) and reading new books.  I'm a big one for Christmas traditions, and as my sibblings and I got older I began to long for the gold ol' days - back when my brothers enjoyed the Christmas preparations as much as I did, and joined in, back when everything felt magical and special.  I guess everyone goes through that stage as they get older, hit their teenage years where the magic of Christmas doesn't feel quite real anymore.  It does come back though, and I still find Christmas a magical, fun, traditional time, although not quite in the same way I did when I was 7 or 8.

Christmas nostalgia reminds me of my childhood and the things I enjoyed as a child - the TV shows and the music and the movies and the books I loved.  Which is probably why my latest cross stitch patterns feature these things.

Firstly there is The Incredibles.  I was a teenager when this movie came out, but I loved it immensely and it is still my favourite Disney Pixar film.  I'm always sad that there was only one of them.
The Incredibles, now available on Etsy
Then there are The Rugrats.  Lil and Phil were always my favourites.  In fact, there are two versions of The Rugrats patterns.  Firstly there is Tommy and his Friends, ready for mischief and adventure:
Rugrats now available on Etsy
The second pattern features all of the Rugrats families.  Stitch the whole pattern, or for a quicker project, why not stitch an individual family?
Rugrats Families, now available on Etsy
I hope you are all enjoying the holidays, however you are spending them.

Happy stitching!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016: A year of ups and downs

This morning we woke up to the sad news that Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) had passed away.  2016 has certainly been a rough year - Brexit, the Australian elections (with more backstabbing and "he said, she said" than usual, and a very volatile senate), the US election, more unexpected celebrity deaths than we can count.  My two cats died within five weeks of each other.  That was really rough.
The Awkward Yeti summed up the
year nicely in this cartoon
(c) Nick Seluk
Personally, 2016 has also been a year of good things - I moved to Brisbane to start work at a new school (which is going well).  Moving to Brisbane has meant I'm closer to two of my brothers and can catch up with them for board-game afternoons more regularly, as well as several old school friends. I was in England when the year started, catching up with old friends. I've been to the theatre several times - so much easier now I live in Brisbane!
This year I went purple, dressed up as Leia for my yongest brother's 21st,
played boardgames, and visited the UK
Fangirl Stitches did well in 2016: I exhibited at three different conventions and met some amazing fellow exhibitors, as well as lots of fellow geeky stitchers.  On that note, I also met Nathan Fillion and John Barrowman, as well as Piper and Leo from Charmed, Tonks and Seamus from Harry Potter, Osgood, Danny and Missy from Doctor Who, and Xena the Warrior Princess.  They signed my cross stitch pieces and all said nice things about them.
Markets and minions - House of Fandom Market Brisbane, Oz Comic Con Melbourne
Oz Comic Con Brisbane, and Supanova Brisbane
My signed cross stitch pieces
I originally sat down this morning to write a post about Carrie Fisher, and about how crappy this year has been from a world-wide stand-point.  But then I looked at my mum's fridge covered in family photos and I stopped to think about it.  I thought about my cousin's baby, born at 24 weeks who is at home now and meeting his adjusted milestones.  I thought about another cousin who gave birth on New Year's Day, and a third who gave birth yesterday (I have 24 first-cousins - it can get confusing).  I thought about my exchange-student brother from Japan whose wife gave birth earlier in the year. I thought about yet another cousin who graduated from High School this year.  I thought about close friends who got married in January, and in April (along with another cousin), and a friend who got engaged a couple of weeks ago. I thought about a cousin and a friend who both (independent of each other) successfully launched (and funded) their first card games on Kickstarter. I bet none of them would say that 2016 was a crappy year.

Every year will have its ups and downs.  Sure, 2016 had a lot of downs, but there were also a lot of highs personally, professionally, and even in the world at large.  2016 will be remembered for the good, as well as for the bad.  I'm going to concentrate on the good, and see the year out with a smile.
Ready to see in the New Year with a bang...
well, a cup of tea and comfy pj's anyway!
Happy Stitching.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

How do they rise up? The Glorious 25th May

Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably-Priced Love! A Hard Boiled Egg!

Once again it is the 25th May, when we celebrate all things Pratchett.  I wrote a blog about the importance of the 25th May, and my impressions of the book it comes from, Night Watch, this time last year.  You can find that blog post here: Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably-priced Love, and a Hard Boiled Egg.

Even more important, there's a free pattern in that blog post, featuring the 25th May battle cry and sprigs of lilac.  Don't forget to check it out.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Great Washing Disaster of 2016 - Part 2: The Solution

In my previous blog post, I shared how my Supernatural cross stitch piece had been ruined in the wash when the dye in the fabric ran, staining everything a bluey-purple.

However, all was not lost.  Through her twilter contacts, my mother (who has her own blog here) had found a solution: Baby Savers had a post on How To Make Your Own Colour Catching Laundry Sheets.
If any dye from the clothes in your washing bleeds into the water, your homemade colour catcher will "trap" the dye molecules and keep them from bleeding on to the lighter fabrics.
It was amazing!  You can see the difference yourself in the pictures below - the first is the original, the second shows the colour bleed, and the third shows the final piece.  I couldn't believe how white the white had once again become, without fading the other thread colours.  The background fabric is a lot lighter than it was originally (obviously - since all the blue had wound up in the water!) but it sill looks fantastic and I'm over the moon.
And because it worked so well, I wanted to share the steps with you all, just in case you have your own colour disaster in the future.  These steps are from Baby Savers with a few adjustments/ additions from me.

Making A Colour Catcher

What you need:

Using the Colour Catches

You'll need to re-treat the colour catcher fabric before you can use it again - but that's okay because you have a handy supply waiting and ready to go.

As I said earlier - this worked like a charm and my cross stitch piece was returned to its former (albeit lighter) glory.  I'm not sure how it will go on the 15 year old piece, but I'm going to give it a try this week just in case.

Happy stitching,


Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Great Washing Disaster of 2016 - part 1

I'm sure we've all experienced it at one time or another - that moment when you open the washing machine, or peer into the bucket of hand washing, and water has changed colour.  Things that were once white are now... not.

There's been a colour run. Whether it's the fabric that has leaked colour, or a particular colour of thread; whether its in a small spot or over the whole project it doesn't matter.

When it comes to hand stitching or sewing, it can be a gut-wrenching moment: your stomach drops, your heart stops.  All those long hours spent working on a project and now it's ruined.  I have a piece I worked on as part of a Girl Guide project 15 years ago.  I'd used no-name thread scraps, and the dark red ran, ruining the project.  It got shoved to one side - never fixed, never finished, and so I never got the particular badge I was working towards.  Still makes me sad when I see it in my "to be finished" pile.
The piece from 15 years ago.  The corners ran :(
Most recently, it was my Supernatural Alphabet - the piece I stitched for the A-Z challenge.  I'd stitched the piece on hand-dyed fabric from Sew It All.  I've never had a problem with their fabrics before.  It was a rooky mistake - I forgot to wash the fabric before I started the project, so it's all on me.  I put the finished piece in water to rinse off the wash-out-pen I'd used for the lines, and to clean it before framing.  I left it to soak for a minute while I dried/hung out the other finished piece.  I turned around and my heart sank.

The water was blue.

I couldn't believe it.  All that hard work and now this.  I pulled it out immediately, but the damage was done.  The white areas were now purple.  The people all looked blue and sickly.  The pale yellow... wasn't. 
The before and after.  The lighting was very different when I took
the second picture, but you can see the blue/purple dress and skin
I did what any self-respecting, independent 31 year old would do.  I texted my mother.

Then I did a Google search.  The results were mixed, with some people saying "stitch over it and make it look better" but that doesn't really help when it's the whole piece.  Another site said "don't put it through the dryer - the heat will set the colour" which is useful to know, but didn't solve the problem.  Still others said "rinse immediately before the colour has time to set".  So I rinsed - only to release more colour.  No!!  
The most common tip seemed to be "rinse in synthrapol".  I'd never heard of synthrapol; according to this website I found "synthrapol is a special detergent used in pre-scouring fibres before dyeing, and in washing out fibre reactive dyes after dyeing."  I was willing to give anything a go to save my project.  I ordered some express delivery. 

A couple of days later my mother sent me another text message:

What was the suggestion and how did it go you ask?  You'll have to come back for part 2 to find out! ;)

Happy stitching,