Archive for Christmas

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.

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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.

Eight-Point Woven Star

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, Needlework, out and about, science fiction, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2016 by suetortoise

Here’s another interlaced stitch for you to try – you might find it handy for Christmas decorations and cards.

an-8-point-woven-star

The instructions look daunting, and the first few may seem very tricky to work. But once you’ve got the idea, you’ll find the stars quick to stitch. I suggest practising on Aida fabric with a fairly thin thread until you are confident, then you can try working on other evenweave fabric or just using a circle of 8 holes made in thin card. Continue reading

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.

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.

Shining Gently

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 15, 2009 by suetortoise

My Christmas Tree 2009

The Christmas tree went up today. I’ve had this one for ten years, since my first Christmas in the Tortoise Loft.