Thursday, 9 October 2014

Why I've been away....

"See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Speak No Evil"

WARNING: This post is NOT about cross-stitch. If you only read my blog for the stitchy stuff, you can skip this one!

Putting aside the very cute aspect of my recent birthday present pictured above there is a serious message to be had from designs like this.
Whether it's a mantra for us to live by - or a way for us to ignore the things we don't want to talk about - it's surprisingly astute.

But, sometimes, things can reach out and grab you with no warning. I've thought hard about whether to talk about what I'm experiencing; finally deciding that I could help someone by talking about it made me write this entry.

Here's what happened to me a few weeks ago.

I went to be one night, tired after a day working at my new company and woke up the next morning with massive lumps in both of my armpits

You may be thinking I felt a small lump - well, you'd be wrong. It was the size of a tennis ball. And here it is:

The strangest things about this was that I didn't feel ill. Even the lumps themselves didn't hurt. I figured they'd go away so I left it for a couple of days.

Finally, I went to the doctor...and the look of horror on his face when he saw my lumps really got me worried. However, he did tell me that it was my lymph gland that was swollen and blood tests were needed to determine the possible cause.

In the weeks that have followed the rest of my lymphatic system has decided that swelling to impossible sizes would be fun (no more pictures, I promise!). So, now I have no neck....just a chin that merges with my swollen neck. Swollen glands in my groin have reached as high as just below my belly button. I even have swollen glands on the back of my skull and behind one ear. It's all totally bizarre.

So, finally the blood tests come back and I'm given the news. "We suspect it's lymphoma". I heard those words being said and my reply (in a very happy voice) was "Oh, Ok. Thank you". It was like I'd been told I'd won a raffle. I was so polite. While my GP continued to talk my brain was processing something like this: "Lymphoma? I'm sure 'House' has talked about that. Is that the Hodgkins one? Or is that Lupus? No, I'm sure that's Lymphoma. Shit! Isn't Lymphoma cancer? Fuck! I have cancer!?"

All the while my GP was talking to me. I have no idea what he said for the rest of that conversion.

I then, promptly, fell apart. I turned into a sniffling wreck.
However, that lasted a few hours before my sensible and logical side kicked in. Now, I just have the odd blip where I feel my own mortality...the rest of the time I'm thinking very positively.

Anyway, the next stage was a biopsy.
Given the risk of infection with an armpit extraction it was decided that the upper groin lymph-gland would be the best candidate and that's what I had removed last week.
Since then, my lymphatic system has decided that it needs to put my 'lyphm' fluid into the surrounding area...including my privates. VERY embarrassing!!!

Still...I'm days away from a diagnosis! Days away from know how I can fight this crappy disease (whichever disease it may be). And - possibly - weeks away from my lumps finally going down! Even though they didn't hurt at they're very hard and they press on nerve clusters; which is causing all kinds of issues with my arms.

So, now you all know why I haven't been stitching. And why I've been neglecting my blog. Yes, my company was largely to blame...but I also wasn't sure if I wanted to talk about what's happening to me.
Obviously, I've made that decision.
I'm not looking for sympathy - I just want other people to know what's happening and also to go to the doctor with any strange lumps. They don't have to be as big as mine to be dangerous! Get yourself checked out!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

WIP Update...and a lot of other Guff

 Anyone who is a member of my Facebook group (HERE) will probably know that I recently ran a competition which meant I had to concentrate on stitching Mother's Love. Not much of a chore, I have to admit. As I've said previously, I'm really enjoying stitching on 28 count fabric.

But, it's really great to have finished the first page and be onto the second. Yesterday, I did the top section of page 2.
I really like to get a feel for the size as quickly as possible; so I worked my way across the page. Now I know the width and it seems a lot more achievable now!

For anyone who doesn't know, this is what it will look like when done..and I'm working from left to right at the top.

In other cross-stitch related news, I am pleased to say I've signed another artist to my company.
His name is Christopher Symes and I love his space-scapes as I like to think of them.

So far, two have been released; but there are more to come.

The first release was Big Brother, so named because Chris felt the little planet was being protected by the big planet.

The other art Chris supplied was unnamed; but I really liked the idea of assigning 'Big' to these designs. Space is infinitely big, and it just seemed right to continue the theme with his other pieces.
So, I promptly came up with some names and submitted them...and Chris approved! Yay!

So, the second release was Something Big. So named because, to me, it felt as though the planet was watching the unknown object hurtling towards it from space.

More in the 'Big' series coming soon!

Well, that's it for cross-stitch related news. Well, almost....a teaser if you will....there are three more new artists waiting in the wings....if only they would take the leap and fly!

So, moving on...
Nigel has done another Downton Abbey piece of fan art.
This is his rendition of Branson...and it's now on the wall with the others.

The rest of this article is really a mop-up of things I've just forgotten to speak about!

We recently went for a day trip to Nottingham and I bought this:
 I'm a self-confessed film-buff so when I saw this miniature from one of my favourite films I just had to buy it.
It's a little tray full of real sand, a miniature Taylor on horseback, and a replica Statue of Liberty...that when activated recites Charlton Heston's final words from the film:
"You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

It goes without saying that I was in movie-geek heaven putting this together and recreating an iconic movie scene. Love it!

Lastly, something spooky!
 The other morning Nigel awoke and got a little freaked out by the massive face in our bedroom:

A testament to one of the MANY reasons why a walking machine should not be used a clothes stand! (His clothes I might add! I put mine away!)

Well, that's it for now. I hope everyone enjoys whatever they're doing.

All the best


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Partial WiP, But really about other stuff article....

So, let's start with the WIP.
This is still page 1 of Mother's Love. I'm making progress, but it does feel a little slow.
Sadly, this week, I haven't really had much time to do much stitching.

I've had a few appointments outside the home, I've been trying to sign more artists to my company, and, to be perfectly honest, I've been incredibly tired this week. Seem to be having more than my fair share of afternoon naps. Starting to feel like an old man! LOL! It's probably just the last few weeks catching up with me.
 But, this does mean there's not a lot I can update anyone with that's about my this post is going to be about other things.

Firstly, my cat.
Gorgeous, contrary, and loving she and her sister Olivia, are my absolutely joy (even if her name is now tainted by that horrible terrorist group! She's named after the Egyptian goddess of love!)

Anyway, she has a scratch post which her sister completely ignores. Even so, every so often she chooses to scratch the new armchair we moved the scratch post so she'd choose the right thing.
But, this is how she chose to use it:

When asked Is that you footrest, Isis? she answered and I managed to catch it with the camera. So, there she is saying Yes as only cats can! :-)

So, while I've been busy doing work-related tasks, or just watching CSI: NY as that's all I have the energy for, Nigel has been hard at work being very creative.

For the first time in years he dug out his art supplies and started to draw.
I guess, given his love of Downton Abbey it should come as no surprise that he chose the characters from that show to be his subjects.

Personally, given that he hasn't drawn/painted for about 3 years, I think he's done an amazing job. Just think what he could achieve if he had more time to practice!

First up is Anna Bates. Loyal ladies maid.

Then we have Lady Edith.

And finally, Lady Mary

Hope you like them, and don't be surprised if more appear! He's just bought more art supplies, so I don't think he plans to stop for a while.
I'm very proud of him!

Friday, 22 August 2014

WIPped But Never Beaten! Mega Progress Report

First up we have Day 2 of Awwoo from PaineFreeCrafts.
The moment I saw this design I knew I had to stitch it and I've finally started!
This particular picture has been designed with the option to stitch the white background too. Personally, I'm choosing not to do that. I also think this decision will make the colours stand out more.
I've started in the top left corner.

When finished it will look like this:

Next up is my easy design I'm doing between the others. This is 2QT2BSTR8.

When finished it will look like this:

 Next up is a design from one of my favourite companies Tilton Crafts (yes, I know I shouldn't say that about the competition...but, really, who cares about that sort of rubbish!? Oh, wait, pretty much everyone else does! :-) )
Anyway, this is my progress on page 1 of So Lonely.
I'm still loving every stitch and I know this is going to be amazing when it's done.

When finished, this is what it will look like:

Finally, an update on Mother's Love, from my own company Eclectic Bloke Designs.
This is from a painting by Caroline Lord.
What you're looking at is page 1, and as you can see, I've managed to define the shape of the page already.
 I'm really enjoying this one too.

I started in the top left corner (right under my watermark!) When finished, the design will look like this:

 So Lonely, Mother's Love and Awwoo! are all being stitched on 28ct Charles Craft Monaco fabric. 1 thread over 1.

Finally, here is my Tanto so far.
As I mentioned ages ago, I use a Tanto mainly with kits, but when I'm doing 6 WIPs I'm finding it very helpful. As I cut a length of floss from one of my bobbins, I store it on my Tanto for easier access.

I may not get so much time to stitch any more, but I really can't complain.
I love charting the art I get given and I love the interaction with the friends and customers I'm meeting.
The sacrifice may be a little of my stitching time, but I think it's worth it.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Getting WIPped into shape! 3 WIP updates!

Here it is! A new update for my Indiana Jones design.

Firstly, I would like to address the issue of copyright with this design. I charted this long before I knew anything about copyright and started my own company.
Should I be stitching it? Actually, yes. Copyright law does have a whole section about personal use only, and it because of that I am continuing to stitch this design.
This design is just for me. I will not be selling it or making any profit from it and I will not be giving anyone else the chart.  Also, I have written to Paramount Pictures to ask permission to use it...funnily enough they haven't replied yet!

The above image  shows where I'm up to from a distance, but this one is a bit closer in for detail. This is stitched on 18ct aida.
I started this end of last year, but life and the Tiger commission got in the way so I had to stop. But, now I'm back at it and have completed the block I was working on as well as the confetti stretching out from it.
 Here's how Indy will look when it's finished:

My second WIP is my own design 2QT2BSTR8.
This colourful little design is proving to be an absolute joy to stitch as it gives me a nice break from the more complicated images.
As you can see I've now completed two sections including the gold Kreinik backstitch. I hate backstitch, so for this one I'm going to do it as I finish each letter/number.

Here's what it will look like when it's finished:

Finally, for today, I have a long-awaited update for Mother's Love.
A whole debacle over the fabric resulted in me starting this three times (including this attempt).

The 25 and 27 count fabrics I tried were not suitable (too loose/flimsy) so I opted to go with the 28ct Monaco evenweave I mentioned in my last blog entry.

Well, that arrived yesterday and I got cracking straight away!

This is what I did in just a few hours:

I'm pretty proud of myself for making good progress. This image also shows the width and length of the page I'm working on...which is a nice side effect of the colour I started with. I do like it when I can see what I'm aiming for.

For anyone who can't remember, this is what Mother's Love will look like when it's completed.
That section I've done is the top left corner. Long way to go but I'm really enjoying working with 28ct!

Both Mother's Love and 2QT2BSTR8 can be purchased from my website by clicking HERE


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

WIP Updates!

So, here I am showing progress pictures of my latest WIPs. To be honest, it feels a little strange to not be posting pictures of some tigers!
Also, there's that this-doesn't-look-like-anything stage at the beginning of any new project that just makes progress pictures a bit of a bore, in my opinion.

But, then again, it's really nice to be able to look back and see what things used to look like, which is why I do this.

The above picture is the top left corner of So Lonely from Tilton Crafts. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to stitch it. I love bears and I'd never seen a decent Polar Bear cross stitch design until this one. This (along with Indy and Mother's Love) is the first small-count, complicated design I've ever tackled. So far I'm really enjoying it.
You can buy this amazing design HERE

Here's a distance shot so you can see how big it's going to be:

There's actually another 4 inches or so at the bottom too. So, I've got a reaaaaallly long way to go! :-)

You may be wondering why I haven't posted any more progress pics for Mother's Love from my own company.
Well, to be honest, I've abandoned it until I get some new fabric (which is in the post! (or mail to my US friends)). I really couldn't get on with the 25 count I was using, or the 27 count I bought to replace it (I've now started that design twice!).
So, given that the 28 count I'm using for So Lonely is a joy to work with I've ordered more of the same.

For anyone who wants to know the fabric is from DMC, their Charles Craft Range and it's 20x24" 28 count Monaco in white. It's 100% cotton and it has a thicker, more rigid feel.

I've also not done any further work on my Indy picture...but that may change this week!

Finally, I have my easy WIP.
The latest design from my own company, I designed this one for someone on Facebook who wanted something she could stitch for her gay granddaughter. I wanted something that wasn't gender specific, and this is what I came up with.
That stands for 'Too Cute to be Straight' in case you can't figure it out.

I've used the colours of the Rainbow Flag too, which I really like and I think makes for an interesting design.
I've already started stitching this too and here's where I'm up to:

It's a nice easy stitch. Designed in 14 count and using only 9 colours with gold Kreinik thread for the backstitch - just to give it some bling!
I'm doing this on a 16count evenweave band. Not quite sure what I'll do with it when it's finished, but I'm sure Nigel or I will think of something.

At the request of a Facebook friend, I also have the same design with a different layout - so that it's adaptable for cushions or standard frame sizes.
Here's Version 2:
 I also have a companion piece in the works which I think will appeal to people as well. At least I hope so!

In other news....I'm still hunting for new artists and hope to have new designs for my company soon.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

FINALLY FINISHED!! Siberian Gold Tigers - Day a wee break.

56 Days and it's finally finished!

This is Siberian Gold and it's from Anchor and it's a commission piece I've had in my possession for about 6 months.
I've actually only spent 56 days stitching it in that time and each day has been a minimum of 3 hours and a maximum of 14.
I hated the first page but loved every stitch after that.
Now it's done, I will be sorry to see it go, but I'll be pleased to be able to concentrate on my own stitching.

In addition to finishing this design over the weekend, I also did some more on my Tilton Crafts design So Lonely. It still doesn't look like much, but at least progress is being made! That's also almost 200 stitches!

So, what else did we do since my last blog entry?

Well, on Thursday we had a trip to York.
We discovered we could get a train from Grantham (about an hour from our house) and be in York in an hour too! Which gives Nigel a nice break from driving too!

So, off we trotted to Grantham train station. Admittedly getting up at 5.45am to be able to get the train was not my idea of fun!
An hour later and we were in York!

York's a lovely train station. Very clean and modern with a touch of the London feel.

Don't worry...I'm not going to bore you with 'holiday snaps'. We spent the day wandering around the city; which if you've never been, is a beautiful place to visit!

We found a stitching shop of some importance too!
People who read my blog know I'm a firm fan of the Able Stretcher frame, well the UK owner of the design is based in York...The Viking Loom.
And here I am outside (I HATE this picture! LOL!)
After a fair amount of time in there - during which Nigel bought some patchwork squares... - we continued our wanderings.
We found the Abbey which is lovely:

 I even managed to get Nigel to pose for a picture and he managed to sneak another of me:

As the day wore on we both started to feel like old me. Aching feet, aching backs, too hot, too thirsty! LOL! Still it was a lovely day and we really enjoyed ourselves. Nigel was especially pleased at only having to drive a little bit all day!

The following day, while I was busy trying to finish the tigers, Nigel was hard at work creating this little masterpiece!

A companion piece to the other Downtown Abbey Cushion, this is the sequel!
Fully patchworked with flower/fabric buttons and framed with a delicate blue edging.

And, now we're up to date.
Hope you enjoyed this entry.