Archive for the Christmas Category

T’was the night before Christmas…

Posted in Christmas, Embroidery, everyday life with tags , , on January 4, 2020 by suetortoise

IMG_04012020_111420_(300_x_400_pixel)It was Christmas eve and I was having a quiet, lazy evening after a very pleasant afternoon with my friend Sam, who had come for tea and a good, long natter. Now she had gone home, and I sat by myself in my comfortable chair, feet up on a stool, cards on the shelves beside me and the old tree glowing cheerfully on the window sill. I’d just started watching the DVD of Hogfather, and I was almost falling asleep….

The doorbell rang.

I toddled to the entry phone and talked to someone who knew my name and had something for me, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what she was saying. “Hold on, I’ll come down.” I said.

At the street door was a stranger bearing a big red basket of good food, a card and a bunch of flowers. They were from the owner of the newly opened bar next door. This was utterly, totally unexpected. And so very kind.

There is a Santa Claus.

I have treated myself to some “goodies” that will last a little longer than the chocolates, pies, nibbles and other edibles. These are Sajou Fil Dentelle au Chinois,Cocons Calais little cocoons of lovely cotton lace thread, barely thicker than sewing thread. It is very smooth, obviously good for very fine crochet but good for stitching and hand-sewing too. The cocoon is all thread, no core, pulling tidily from the centre, And, oh, so pretty!

I spotted them in the wool shop in Shrewsbury Market Hall, Ewe and Ply, back in October, and I have been adding two or three to my collection most weeks. There are 72 colours in the full range, 24 of them variegated, and I have only collected 33 so far.

What else have I been playing with? Counted fly stitch. Oh, it makes some great patterns, even on humble Aida fabric. Here’s a design I made for cards:

IMG_04012020_111332_(300_x_400_pixel)And here are some further experiments on some leftover aida:

IMG_04012020_111217_(400_x_400_pixel).jpgThe finest thread on this little try-out is the Sajou, so you can see it has Possibilities.

What have you been playing with recently?

 

 

 

December with Dragon, Peacocks and a Catbus

Posted in Christmas, Embroidery, everyday life, Needlework, out and about with tags , , , , on January 1, 2019 by suetortoise

Well, here we are, Happy New Year everyone, and onwards into 2019. Which will probably be just as mixed and tricky and confusing a year as usual, despite our good wishes and good intentions. And we shall cope with it all, as usual. I don’t usually make New Year resolutions, but when I do I like to start them early. So since I finished work for Christmas I have been making sure I do at least a little stitching every day. At least one needle-full every day. And so far so good. How about you?

This piece was started at the beginning of November, but made little progress – it was interrupted by the Christmas card run, and by indifferent health and life in general. But by Christmas Day the end of the slow, slow outlining was in sight (That’s one strand of DeVere Yarns 695 Peat – an extremely dark greenish-brown that I tend to use rather than black for these sort of projects.) I finally got started on the coloured silk shading on the 30th, and the photo above is the state of play at the very end of the year. I am using Chinese silk for this stage.

Progress will slow a little now, with work recommencing – this project needs good light. (I have simpler things on the go, so I shall keep stitching!) Regular readers will remember I worked this same design in 2017, my very first project with the Chinese silk, when I only had limited choice of colour and was learning how to use it as I went along. Now, I can build on that experience, have a much better palette of shades to choose from and hope to do the design full justice. It’s a Victorian printers’ ornament. I’ll show you how I am getting on in my next post.

I haven’t only been stitching. I enjoyed my break, good food, rest, good company. A trip to visit friends in Welshpool last week featured a visit to the National Trust property Powis Castle. We went to see the interior decorated for Christmas, with some magnificent trees and room settings. It looked very festive and very grand. The peacocks were strutting around in the courtyard – here’s one.

I also watched lot of video. I always enjoy The Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, and My Neighbour Totoro on Christmas Day – a tradition of quite a few years standing, now. And my favourite character in Totoro is the Catbus. So imagine my delight to get a cuddly, plush Catbus from my friend Sam at work. Catbus now sits on the arm of my sofa. (The picture also shows that I downloaded the Prisma photo-processing phone app on Boxing Day – I shall have fun playing with this and adding effects to phone photos.)

My other ‘not quite a new year resolution’ is to write Tortoise Loft blog posts much more frequently this year than last year. I say this every year, and it usually doesn’t happen. But here’s one, on the very first day of the year. It’s a start.

So what shall we talk about next?

Year’s Turning 2018

Posted in Christmas, everyday life, out and about with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2018 by suetortoise

embroidered tree designAnd another year has got away from me, with far too few blog posts. As usual. It’s been a bitty sort of year. My health hasn’t been all it should be, recent changes at work have put me under more stress than I really like to cope with, and I haven’t been as creative as I would like to be, either.

Still, there have been Good Bits. Since my last post, my friend KRin from Australia arrived for a short visit, giving me a chance to be a local tourist guide for a day and also an excuse for a train trip with her as far as Machynlleth the next day, where she headed north along the coast to her next destination, and I went on to Aberystwyth in lovely weather. Here’s Aber looking almost exotic in the autumn sunshine. 

At the end of that week, I had a couple of days in Manchester, doing the Museum of Science and Industry and the Whitworth Art Gallery, among other places. (I must also give a mention to Wasabi Dessert Room in Falkner Street, where I had an amazing thing called Green Tea Snow Ice, hand crafted for me while I was being serenaded by strange Japanese pop videos. It was delicious.)

At the end of the month, I met up with Rachel of VirtuoSew Adventures, to see her work on show in an exhibition at the Anglican Cathedral – and to talk rather a lot, of course.

In November I went to MathsJam The Gathering at Yarnfield Park near Stoke. This is run by Colin Wright, Rachel’s husband, and she talked me into coming along. I had little idea what to expect, and I have never been a whizz at maths. I didn’t really know what to expect….

It was a lot of fun! The conference centre is a training centre for telephone workers in the week, and the first thing I saw on entering the car park was a forest of telephone poles in an enclosure. Fortunately we were not expected to climb them ourselves. The accommodation and food were excellent, and the conference areas were good, with plenty of space to sit and talk or chill out, away from the main room, tea and coffee on tap and friendly staff. The event itself turned out to be lots of very short talks about a huge range of subjects – mostly recreational-mathematical, but ranging from the topology of canal bridges to card tricks to recreating old photographs to double-sided blackwork embroidery patterns – and much else in between. I think I made good sense of about a third of the talks, was totally bemused by a further third, and got the main gist of the rest. There were puzzles to play with, a baking contest, competitions and maths tricks to look at. I think the people with the tricks were very happy to have a non-mathematician to baffle. And there was conversation, lots of it. I came home hoarse but happy. I might well go again next year.

While I was at MathsJam, I got quite a bit of stitching done: the card design that is at the top of this page. It’s on 32 count linen, worked with Gütermann Sulky Cotton 12, mostly in straight stitches over 4 threads. The star at the top of the tree is 8-point woven star stitch over an eyelet of straight stitches. It comes with my very good wishes to all my readers (who have been very patient between blog posts!) for the festive season, and for 2019.

Just a quick one!

Posted in Christmas with tags , , on December 24, 2017 by suetortoise

Happy Christmas from The Tortoise Loft

Normal service will be resumed soon, I promise. Meanwhile, here is the tree on my windowsill. Thank you for your comments and emails during the year – they make the blog worth doing.

The Seasonal One

Posted in Christmas, everyday life with tags on December 23, 2016 by suetortoise

Yes, I think it’s time for my usual Christmastime post, wishing you all the compliments of the season and good wishes for the New Year. Last year, I was still grieving too much to want to decorate the Tortoise Loft, but this year the tree has been up for a few days, and here it is being suitably festive:

A Merry Christmas - or other winter festival of your choice - and a Very Happy New Year!

And for anyone who feels the need for a little more reading material, particularly a short piece for reading aloud, I offer The Antisanta which I wrote in 2010.

Thank you for your kind comments over the year. Blogs die too easily from lack of comments and feedback, so make sure you drop your favourite sites a line occasionally and keep them healthy.

Have fun, and I’ll see you all early in the New Year.

Wishes

Posted in Christmas, Digital Art and Fractals, Family and Friends on December 23, 2015 by suetortoise

christmas2015tree

Time to send my readers and friends, new and old, my good wishes for the coming year. But wishes, thoughts, prayers, dreams are only the start, however heartfelt. Let’s make sure that we act on our annual wishes, and work towards bringing more peace and happiness into the world in 2016.

Not Bad News

Posted in Christmas, everyday life, Family and Friends with tags , , , , , on January 8, 2015 by suetortoise

Dad in hospital, eating a banana
Dad and I had an ‘interesting’ Christmas and New Year. He was very happy and alert for the first few days of my visit. He got to the village church on Christmas morning, which he had been looking forward to, and enjoyed his Christmas lunch of chicken curry (his request) and opening the presents. All was well.

By New Year’s Eve he was not quite as good, and over the next couple of days his condition worsened. By the Saturday morning, it was clear he needed urgent attention. The local First Responders turned up, provided oxygen and other treatment and he was soon off to hospital in an ambulance.

To my relief, he went to the RSH in Shrewsbury, which is much easier for visiting than Hereford. He was in a poor way when he got there, but here he is less than a week later, out of  bed and eating a banana. (My sister took the picture. She bought him those elegant pyjamas for Christmas, too.) Next week, Dad should be well enough to go to Ludlow Community Hospital until he is well enough to return home, where my sister will be waiting to look after him.

The hospital doctor said she’s never known anyone of his age recover from full-blown pneumonia quite so quickly.

“Well, I’ve had plenty of practice.” said the Amazing Eric.

It’s that time of year again!

Posted in Christmas, everyday life with tags on December 21, 2013 by suetortoise

snowytoptree mini

Yes, it is time to wish all the readers of Tortoise Loft – The Blog the compliments of the season. Thank you for your comments and your interest throughout the year. You makes this blog worthwhile.

Please do let me know if there are any particular topics you would like me to write about in the New Year. I enjoy getting suggestions for subjects and questions to answer.

Meanwhile, may you have a delightful Christmastime and may all sorts of unexpected good things happen for you in 2014.

Sue

Wishing You a Very Happy Christmastime

Posted in Christmas, Embroidery with tags , , , , , , , on December 16, 2012 by suetortoise

three trees close-up

I must be honest, and say that I’m not feeling particularly ‘Christmassy’ this year. The family’s first Christmas without Mum is bound to be a bit difficult. So things will be kept low-key. 

I thought you might like a glimpse of one of the cards I made this year. Very simple and easy to make. If you want to use the design, you should be able to use the picture above as a pattern.

The fabric is 36 count natural linen (Zweigart Edinburgh). Any relatively fine evenweave can be used instead – you’ll only need a small quantity, so it’s great for using up scraps and offcuts. In this case, a small strip of fabric left over from another project. On this fabric, the stitched area is 6.8cm high by 2.3cm wide. Allow another centimetre all round, before trimming. On coarser fabric, the finished size will be larger.

The green/blue threads are two strands of different colours of varigated silk thread from Oliver Twists. (You could use two strands of stranded cotton floss, or anything else that is about the right weight for the fabric.) If your fabric is not as fine, you may need to use more strands of thread. The tree-top stars are worked with two threads of blending filament – I used one strand of gold and one strand of red/green iridescent filament. Any fine, shiny thread would do instead. (I can tell you that blending filament is a real pain to stitch with – it is most disobedient stuff!) You could also tiny star-shaped sequins, beads or little adhesive stars to trim your tree.

For the blanket-stitch edging, I used sewing silk in a slightly lighter shade than the ground fabric. Again, the colour and thread can easily be changed. You might prefer to use a bright Christmas red.

Work the main part of the trees first, then the stars and finally the border. You can see the three stages in this photo:

3 trees wip

The trees start at the top with a straight vertical stitch over four threads. After that, there are four fly stitches. The loop of the first one is two threads down from the top and two threads out on each side, and the tying down stitch covers four vertical threads. The loops of the other three are each one thread further out and three threads down from the previous stitch. All the tying-down stitches are over four threads. You might want to experiment with different numbers of branches, and different spacings to make trees of different sizes and shapes. There are eight threads left between the base of one tree and the first stitch of the tree below.

When the trees are finished, add the stars – just three straight sitches of the blending filament, one vertical over five threads, crossed with two diagonal stitches over four.

The border is just buttonhole stitch worked over three threads, with three threads between each stitch. (At the corner, you work three stitches into the same inner hole.) I left three threads between the trees and the border at the top and bottom, and it is seven threads beyond the broadest fly-stitches.

And that’s it. I cut the fabric six threads beyond the border all round, and then frayed off three threads. The piece is simply glued to the front of the card. (I used PVA glue, applied sparingly.) I mounted it onto a brown-paper coloured card, for a very natural, simple look.

And here’s the finished card:

3 trees 2012 card

A row, or a whole forest, of these little trees would make a nice decoration for table linen. How about white trees on dark green or holly red fabric? Have fun.

My very best wishes to you all for the holiday season. In the new year, I will have some more embroidery projects to share with you, along with other things. Starting with the story of Great Grandfather Thomas the Station Master and his dog.

Happy Christmas from the Tortoise Loft

Posted in Christmas, Family and Friends, Storytelling, Uncategorized, Writing on December 19, 2010 by suetortoise

Enough pictures of snow, I can see all the snow I want outside the window. Here’s a story instead of a card. One for reading aloud. And my good wishes for a very happy Christmas season to all who hear it:

This story was beautifully read by Allan Price on the programme Genevieve Tudor’s Sunday Folk (BBC Radio Shropshire, BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester and BBC Radio Stoke), on Boxing Day evening, 2010.  

The Antisanta

THE ANTISANTA

Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus… Call him what you will, he is older than those names; older than the religion of the Christ Child; older, even, than the pagan faiths that gave us the high feast of Yule. The protector of children in mid-winter, that cruellest and most dangerous time of year: the time of the gnawing hunger and killing cold, the time of darkness and of famished wild beasts, grown desperate by that same hunger and cold. Continue reading