Saturday, December 29, 2007

Alhambra Update....

I've now got 9 out of 12 pages of the design cross stitched - it's definitely coming along well. I've updated the WIP pictures in the side-bar with my year end progress - hoping for a few more happy dances in the coming year.

Just a quick reminder that the draw for blog candy in the previous post is open until January 1st, 2008.

Hope everyone is having a happy and safe holiday!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A year of blog candy!

Happy Holidays - hope everyone had a great Christmas and best wishes to all for a safe, happy and prosperous New Year.

To mark the new year, I've decided to offer up 12 handmade gifts over the year - one for each month of 2008. The first two gifts of the 12 are spoken for, as I have a few pay it forward obligations to finish up. The remaining gifts will be posted on the blog throughout the year. To start off with, I thought I'd offer up 4 spots for gift recipients as blog candy. Those 4 people will receive a gift made by me - either stitched, beaded or another craft that happens to be taking my muse at the time. The 4 recipients will be picked from those leaving a comment on this post. There's no eligibility requirement - whether this is your first time reading the blog or you're a regular visitor, everyone is eligible.

If you'd like to be selected for one of the four spots in the first six gifts, please leave a comment below, and I'll draw from those who have commented on New Years Day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas to all.....

A few more things to share. I'm currently stitching on Russian Nights by Bestitched - I've got all of the cross-stitching done, and am working on the back stitching. There's a few more speciality stitches to go in before the whole thing is finished, and then it will be done! It's a pretty easy stitch, but I haven't picked it up in a while and it's been sadly neglected.

I also have a picture of the latest jewellery project - this is a ring I finished for the class I'm taking. The class is through the extended studies department of the local art college, but you can take the class for credit as well. so they assign marks for the class. Apparently I got an A- for the term, which isn't bad - I've been told they don't give "A"'s to first year students.

I also took a picture of all of the ornaments that went on the tree this year. After participating in the TWBB ornament exchanges, Needle and Thread BB ornament exchanges and now the SBEBB ornament exchanges, I've managed to get a good collection for the tree.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

One more ornament made it....

This ornament went to Terry as part of the TWBB ornament exchange. Terry's organized the exchange for the last 6 (or more!) years, so I put an extra cell-phone charm in the package for her. I think this almost closes out my exchanges for the Christmas season - only one more to be received!

Monday, December 17, 2007

One more ornament to share

I received this from Paula in the TWBB ornament exchange this year. It's the corner fo TW's nativity, and I think the ornament is gorgeous!

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Ornaments...

I received the fantastic cube ornament from Anu on the TWBB exchange, and received word that my celtic TW ornament was received as part of the same exchange. I love stitching ornies, and now have a tree full of them after participating in the exchanges for the past 7 years.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Exchanges Received

I received two gorgeous exchanges this week - one from Svenja, who stitched me a lovely Christmas Tree, and one from Zoe, who stitched me the beautiful BritterKitties ornament.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I still do stitch.... one exchange received

This exchange was sent as part of the SBEBB Christmas Ornament Exchange to Terry. I stitched this ornament a couple of years ago as a gift for someone who stitched an unfinished square on an RR for me, and it's been one of my favorites ever since.

ETA: It's a design from "The Workbasket" from the 2002 JCS Ornament Issue.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Jewellery

I made this piece as a door prize for an upcoming event, and thought I'd share. I should have more work to share soon, as I sent 4 exchange pieces in the mail this week - Hope they are delivered soon!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I think I'm back.....

It's been quite a month. I've been busy, and don't have a lot to show, other than this - the second project from the jewellery class.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One more picture to share....

It seems it's been a week when everything has come together and I can finally share some of the goodies I've been working on. This scissor fob was for Vonna and it was her (very belated) draw prize from the Monochromatic Exchange at the Robin's Nest. I drew from all of the participants who mailed on time, and I was excited to have such a great bunch of stitchers that all of their names went into the draw!

The focal (main) bead is one of mine, and it's got Swarovski crystal beads to help out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jewelery Class - Project 1

This is the first project from my jewelery class - we've been busy riveting, texturing and soldering in the last couple of weeks, and this is the end result. I made the toggle clasp (at the bottom) as part of the class, and made the beads so that the clasp would have something to hang on to.

As part of this, I found a great new bead store in town. The owner provided some great suggestions on finishing the piece (the copper tubes were her idea) and she even asked about buying some of my lampwork, which is always a great compliment.

Biscornu Exchange

Dani hosted a biscornu exchange over at the Needle and Thread BB. My partner and I managed to time our biscornus so that they arrived on the same day, so here are both biscornu's to share.

I received a lovely Victoria Sampler biscornu from Katherine (StitchinKat) and sent her a biscornu from Indigo Rose. It's actually based on the "Peace" ornament featured in the JCS Ornament issue of several years ago. I used the button that I made out of glass to match the Dinky Dyes thread.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I think I'm still here....

just smokin' busy..... It's been quite the month or two. I've been working on a biscornu exchange for the Needle and Thread BB and an ornament exchange for the SBEBB, so I don't have much to show... except some new beads. Hope you like them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm still here..... just busy

Haven't had much time to catch up this week - everything seems to start back up in the fall and requires at least two weeks to get sorted out. I'm taking a jewellery course this fall, so this is my week one "sample" of sawing (lines and curves) and cutting things out and filing (the heart). I also got some torch time in on the weekend - the button I made seemed to match this fibre from Dinky Dyes perfectly, so I'll have to keep an eye out for a use for this in the future.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Etsy Shop

is back....

Here's a sampling - to see the full shop, click here

Monday, September 03, 2007

Progress Pic - Russian Nights

I haven't stitched on my Russian Nights sampler for a while, but I thought I would pull it out this weekend and make some progress on it. The design is by Bestitched, and it's actually quite a quick stitch, although there is quite a bit of backstitching to go in later. The backstitching instructions call for flower thread, which I understand isn't available, so I'm considering other options. It will be all black backstitching, so I'd like something heavier to contrast with the black fabric, but don't want it to overpower the design.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Beading Update

I managed to squeeze in a class from Kim Fields before I had to head back to work after my vacation. She taught us about making flower cane, petals and backgrounds. Most of the flower beads are practice from what she taught us - she was an amazing teacher, and I hope to be able to take more classes from her someday.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Stitching Update

I have a couple of updates to make now that vacation is over and I'm back to real life. The first one is my sent and received Monochromatic exchange for the Robin's Nest BB. I sent Renee a heart ornament, the bracelet and the threads, while Heidi sent me the gorgeous needlebook and threads. I'm thrilled with what Heidi sent and hope that Renee also liked her exchange.

I also have progress pictures of Alhambra Garden and of Pyra. I'm slowly workign through both of them, and hope to have more progress to share with everyone soon!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eastern Europe - Days 11 through 16 - Russia

Our first stop in Russia was St. Petersburg - home to most of the Russian nobility. St. Petersburg itself was a gorgeous city - I think it looked like a wedding cake with beautiful pastel buildings and white scroll work around the outside of each one. On our first day, we had a sightseeing tour of St. Petersburg, stopping at several churches and the main square. We were all pretty tired from the overnight train, so it was back to the hotel and then out to a ballet. Getting to the ballet required negotiating the local metro system. St. Petersburg has some of the longest escalators on the lines in their metro system and the line we were on was no exception to this. I don't think you could see the bottom of the escalator from the top, and it was a bit scary not knowing where you were going.

The ballet was wonderful - a very modern interpretation of Romeo and Juliet. It was a very classical style of ballet, but the setting and costumes were more modern, making for a wonderful evening. What a treat to be at a ballet in Russia!

The next day we were off sightseeing. The first stop was the Church on Spilled Blood - a beautiful onion domed church which was the sight of the shooting of one of the Czars. The church had been restored recently after falling into disrepair during the communist era. Many churches in communist Russia were "secularized", and used as skating rinks, swimming pools or warehouses instead of churches. This church was no exception, and the beautiful mosaics that lined the inside of the church had recently been restored to their original state.

That evening we boarded the last of our overnight trains. We didn't know it at the time, but a bombing and derailment had occurred the previous night on the same train line, so security was extra tight on the train. Fortunately our train journey was uneventful.

We arrived in Moscow and were escorted on another city tour. Most of Moscow's tourist attractions centre around Red Square and the Kremlin, so the city tour wasn't as exciting as in St. Petersburg, but it was a wonderful city to visit. The next day I got the chance to visit both sites again. We started out by visiting Lenin's mausoleum - a bit creepy and very strange. It was very dark in the tomb, and there was very little time for your eyes to adjust to the change between sunlight and darkness, so I just about ended up tripping down the stairs in the tomb. After re-emerging from the tomb, it was over to St. Basil's cathedral. Although St. Basil's is probably the most famous cathedral in Russia, it's fairly simplistic on the inside - nothing like the ornate tile work in the Church on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.

After that, it was off to the Kremlin. I was fortunate enough to arrive at a time when they were performing a military exercise, and got to see a few of the soldiers who still work at the Kremlin in their duties. From there, it was off to see some of the churches at the site - there are 5 that are open to the public, and most of which were still in their original state. Someone did point out that it was fairly ironic that the churches inside the Kremlin, which was supposed to be the secular head of state, were the best preserved churches in Moscow. The Kremlin also had a fantastic exhibition of Cartier jewellery. Given the remarkable lack of obvious security around the site, we had a discussion over dinner as to whether the jewellery was real or not, as there were hundreds if not thousands of carats of diamonds and other precious gemstones. (All of which was very sparkly!)

After that, it was back to the hotel for a farewell drink and some dinner. I had an early flight out, so I called it a night pretty early. I'd arranged for a cab to pick me up at an insane hour of the morning, and drove to the airport. Of course, what was supposed to take 1 1/2 hours only took half an hour without traffic, but I got to the airport with plenty of time to make my flight. I had a *long* layover in Frankfurt, which doesn't have much entertainment in the airport, so I ended up spending $30 on a sandwich and coffee, but at least the staff at the restaurant let me sit for a couple of hours without too much hassle. After 6 hours, it was finally time to board my flight back home, and I arrived in Calgary 9 hours after that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eastern Europe - Days 9 and 10 - Lithuania

Our next stop was Vilinus, in Lithuania. Vilinus was a gorgeous little town which had a dark history through the war and through the Soviet regime. We came to Vilinus by day train from Poland, arriving in the early evening, just in time for a late walk around town and some supper.

The next day was a full day of sightseeing. Vilinus is about half a million people, which meant that the town centre was very walkable and easy to get to. We started with some of the churches in the town centre, and then climbed up to the top of the Vilinus castle to get some panoramic views of the city. After that, we walked a short distance to a museum that explained the occupancy of the town during the war by the Nazis and following by the soviets. It was an interesting museum as the bottom floor was a KGB prizon which had largely been untouched since the time it was used - very interesting, but hard to see. Most of the towns that we went through had some sort of record of either the Nazi or Soviet occupation - we certainly didn't go to them all, but I thought it was important to learn something about what the area went through in the recent past.

After sightseeing, it was time to board another overnight-train to Russia. We passed through Latvia, and so got woken up by border guards twice through the night - once to cross into Latvia, and the other to cross into Russia. The Russian guards were interesting - we had one set of guards to pick up the paperwork to exit Latvia, one set to check under the bunks for stow-away passengers and one set to complete the paperwork to enter Russia. Entering Russia requires that you have a visa, which is filled out in advance, and is sealed into your passport. Even so, the guards scan the visa under a black light to make sure it's a valid visa, and then check the visa against a central register of visas for the week. The central register of visas is a big stack of paper in a binder, and one of the guards calls out your name, while the other one flips furiously through the binder to find your visa in the registry. Once found, the other guard confirms that you are in the register, and shuts the large binder. This procedure is repeated for all members of the group, despite the fact that our visas were all registered together, and should be in the same part of the binder.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eastern Europe - Days 5 through 8 - Poland

We took the overnight train from Prague to Poland - it was the first time in a long time that I'd been on an overnight train, and it was hard to get adjusted to sleeping on the overnight journey.

The first stop was Krakow. We arrived very early in the morning, and wandered around the square for a bit while eating some breakfast. It was lovely to have such a public space all to ourselves - just us and the pigeons.

After breakfast, we boarded a public bus to take us out to the Auschwitz museum. The site preserves what is left of the concentration camp, and it was a fascinating and moving experience. I learned a lot about what happened during the war that day, even though it was emotionally draining to experience. Its one thing seeing pictures or a movie and quite another to actually be there. I didn't take very many pictures when I was there, and so the few that I have are of the momument to the victims at the far end of the concentration camp.

The next morning we headed out again on another day trip - this time to the Salt Mines outside of Krakow. The salt mines are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site because of all of the gorgeous carving and sculptures that are underground. THe highlight of the salt mines is a huge underground cathedral, where even the chandeliers were made of salt. The trip took a bit longer than we thought and we ended up back in the city of Krakow just in time to make our second overnight train to Warsaw.

Warsaw was extensively bombed during the war, and as a result, has been undergoing constant restoration to bring the city back to its former glory. We saw some lovely churches and buildings that had been put back together in such a way that you'd never guess that they were actually a restoration. In the afternoon, we set off to see a Chopin concert in one of Warsaw's public parks. About half way through the concert, the sky started to blacken, so we made our way back onto the bus that we'd came from to get back into town - it was a good decision, as about 5 minutes into our bus ride, the heavens opened, and a huge downpour occurred. We managed to find a small archway to duck into, and then opted for the nearest restaurant, which turned out to be the best Thai food I've ever eaten.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Eastern Europe - Days 1 to 4 - Prague

I'm back from Europe, after sampling the local beverages and being on far too many trains. I started in Prague with a couple of days on my own before the tour that I was on started. I've found that a couple of days at the start of the tour were good, as it helped me to get over jet-lag and get orientated to wherever I was. It's also nice to have a couple of days to feel like you're really on vacation - to read a book and relax without a schedule to adhere to.

The first day after I arrived, I wandered around Prague Castle. The heart of Prague Castle is the cathedral at the centre, which is gorgeous. Prague received relatively little damage during the Second World War, and so the city of Prague and the castle are relatively intact. I also got a chance to do a short trip out to Karlstejn castle, which is about an hour outside of Prague. To visit the castle, you have to do a guided tour, and our tour guide locked us into and out of every room that we visited. The castle did have some very old objects, including medieval glassware and plates which were in their original condition.

On the third morning, I met up with the organized tour. There were 9 of us on the tour - 3 Irish, 2 New Zealanders, 2 Australians and 1 lady from South Africa. Our first stop was to head back into Prague for a walking tour. It was nice to be guided around for the first time in a couple of days, and not have to worry too much about where I was going or how I was going to get back.

The fourth day was another sightseeing day in Prague - I went to a few of the less notable churches and climbed the watch tower on the Charles Bridge. The Charles Bridge connects the Prague Castle with the rest of central Prague, and is teaming with street vendors and tourists. It provided some interesting photos to see the amount of people on the bridge from the air.