Saturday, 30 July 2011

Blackwork Birthday Card Completed

I’m pleased to report that I finished the stitching for my Grandma’s 90th birthday card earlier this week (see A new blackwork project). Below is an image of what Rosa looked like before I embellished it with filling stitches and seed beads.



Initially, I had planned on using a combination of pink and silver for the filling stitches, until I remembered that I’d used up the last of my silver thread (I must remember to get some more). I knew that I wanted to incorporate metallic thread, and as I had an adequate supply of gold (DMC shade 5284) for my project, I opted for a gold and red colour scheme. I’ve had my gold thread for quite some time, so to clear up any confusion, I should point out that the shade is now known as DMC Light Effects E3852.

I decided that I would use gold thread for the centres of the teardrop shapes, and had thought of using a combination of gold and DMC shade 321 (red) for the rest of the teardrop shapes. The result looked absolutely dreadful, and the visual impact of the gold centres was lost, so I hastily abandoned that idea.

For the centres of the small flowers, I used gold thread and Mill Hill glass seed beads (shade 02011). I felt I wanted to use a slightly different shade of red for the petals, so used DMC shade 498.

After completing the filling stitches in the centre of the design, I thought I was done. However, when I sat back and assessed the overall look of my work, I had an overwhelming feeling that it lacked something.



I’d been looking at the border, pondering over what I could do with it. Suddenly, I had a flash of inspiration, and it became blindingly obvious. Recently, my friend over at EglantineStitchery had written about couching in a number of her posts, and having seen photographs of the results that can be achieved with couching, I thought I’d give it a try.



For a first attempt, I have to profess I feel quite proud of myself. In my opinion, the couching was precisely what was required to make my piece look truly complete, and give it the wow factor.

Seeing as the video for my previous Blackwork birthday card (see Blackwork Birthday Card) was so warmly received, I thought I’d try my hand at creating what I consider to be a slightly more professional-looking video. I must forewarn you though that the video is quite lengthy. In addition, the quality of some of the images is far from perfect, as they look slightly blurred in places.



I trust that you were able to view the video without any problems, as I recently attempted to upload it to Facebook and received a Notification of Alleged Copyright Infringement.

Anyway, having completed the stitching, my next task was to wave a magic wand and… [Cue drum roll] Ta-Dah!

Front of card


Inside of card


Back of card



Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A new Blackwork project

It’s my Grandma’s 90th birthday in just over a fortnight’s time, and I’ve decided to try my hand at making another Blackwork birthday card. When I had made the Blackwork birthday card for my Grandma’s niece a few months ago, it had dawned on me that I would need to do likewise for my Grandma; otherwise her nose could be put severely out of joint. It’s not just something that I feel obliged to do, but something that I want to do.

Unfortunately, because I’ve been so wrapped up in my ITQ course, time had somehow lost its meaning, and my Grandma’s birthday had been inadvertently pushed to the back of my mind.

For my Grandma’s card, I’ve decided to use the gorgeous Blackwork design Rosa, by Jeanne Dansby over at Byrd’s Nest. The design can be found on Jeanne’s Blackwork smalls page, which features a collection of other delightful designs. As time is limited, I’d prefer not to waste it by ordering in supplies (unless absolutely necessary), so am hoping to stitch and embellish the design using threads and seed beads that are in my possession.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Exam update

Last Thursday, I sat my ITQ Databases module exam (see previous post). I had felt so anxious about it that I hadn’t been able to get a wink of sleep since I’d awoken the previous day. I was due to be at the Learn Direct learning centre for 1:30pm, by which time I was definitely feeling sleep deprived.

There were 36 questions to answer within 45 minutes. The exam consisted of multiple-choice questions, and practical hands-on questions. The latter involved following a set of instructions, and performing tasks on a mock-up Microsoft Access screen.

Because I felt so tired, I knew I had the potential to make silly mistakes, so I made a point of taking my time, and ensuring that I read everything at least twice. Despite taking my time, I completed the exam in less than 20 minutes.

The nerve-wracking moment came after I’d answered the final question, and submitted my answer, as I knew the next screen would display my exam result. I spent several seconds (which seemed like a lifetime), putting off submitting my answer.

I am pleased to report that all those hours spent cramming for my ITQ Databases module exam paid off. Ok, I didn’t get 100%, but I got close enough. It was a huge boost to my ego when my tutor commented that when she had sat the exam; her result had been lower than mine. Blimey!



Despite passing the exam, I still don’t feel that I’ve fully mastered Microsoft Access. I worry that if I don’t find a way of putting my recently acquired skills to use, I will forget what I’ve learnt.

Anyway, I was asked what module I would like to study next. The choice was between spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel), and presentations (Microsoft PowerPoint). I had already made my mind up weeks ago that I’d opt for the latter, so that’s what I’m studying now.

During a recent visit to the supermarket, I couldn’t resist putting a 20cl bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro (Cava) in my trolley. When I arrived home from my exam, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to treat myself to a glass, which went down very nicely indeed.



Although the 20cl-sized bottle is adequate for one person, it has a screw-top, as opposed to a cork, which was a bit of a let down. From my point of view, there is something about the sound of a cork popping that adds to the excitement and overall enjoyment of drinking Cava.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Wish me luck!

When I initially created this blog, it was with the sole intention of posting stitching-themed content only. I was determined that I did NOT want it to become a personal blog about myself and all aspects of my life.

Regrettably, I have nothing new to report in terms of stitching progress, as I’ve had to temporarily put my cross-stitching on hold, in order to focus on my LearnDirect online-learning ITQ/ECDL course.

On Thursday, I am due to sit the exam for the Databases module, so have been incredibly busy revising. Revision was not something that ever came naturally to me when I was at school, and I’m not so sure that it is something that comes naturally to me now.

The Databases module has been incredibly challenging for me, primarily because prior to starting the module, I knew very little about databases, or Microsoft Access. Unlike the word processing module, I have found it considerably difficult to remember what I’ve studied. This has resulted in me repeatedly going back over what I’ve covered, which has been a rather tedious and time-consuming exercise.

During recent days, I have been completing diagnostic evaluation tests. In plain English, that’s a practice test. At the end of a test, I’m able to see how well I’ve done. To date, I’ve not been able to score any higher than 90/100. Rather frustratingly though, the information I’m supplied with does not state the questions I answered correctly and incorrectly, so it’s impossible to know for sure what my strengths and weaknesses are.

In order to pass the exam, I think I need to get at least 75% of the answers right. If my results for the diagnostic evaluation tests are anything to go by, this means I stand a good chance of achieving that. However, I know that if I don’t get 100%, it will really bug me, and I will personally feel that I’ve failed.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Whilst checking my e-mails last night, I found myself feeling thoroughly elated when I discovered that I had received one from Aurelia Eglantine of Eglantine Stitchery, informing me that I was the recipient of a blog award.

I’ve been aware for a good many years that blog awards exist, but I honestly never thought that my own blog would be deemed worthy of such an award. To be honest, I think the last time I won an award was more than twenty years ago, when I was back at school. If memory serves me, I was presented with a Certificate of Merit for some English work I had done. At the school I attended, a Certificate of Merit was considered to be something quite special, as it was the highest form of recognition one could receive for one’s work. Obviously, I was thrilled when I received mine, but remember feeling acutely horrified at the prospect of having to receive it in front of the whole school, during assembly. I was so full of anxiety that my legs felt like jelly, I was sweating profusely, and also felt like there was an Olympic gymnast inside my stomach performing somersaults. Had my photograph been taken, I’m quite sure that I would have looked absolutely terrified, as opposed to looking incredibly pleased and proud of myself.

I’m pleased to report that on this occasion, I don’t feel anxious, and I certainly don’t look terrified, just incredibly flattered.

Anyway, there are three requirements to fulfil to accept the award, which are:

1)     Thank the Person Who Awarded You

Thank you so much Aurelia for considering my blog to be worthy of an award. It’s impossible for me to put into words just how flattered I feel, but suffice to say that it really has been an incredible ego boost.

2)     List Seven Things About Yourself

1)  I adore my pair of DMC Vichy ‘gingham’ scissors, which I’ve been the proud owner of for a number of years. As soon as I saw them, I knew I had to have them, as they’re just so lovely and quirky.

2) When my mother decided the time had come to potty-train me, she purchased a yellow potty. I liked it so much that I refused to use it for the purpose it was intended for, and instead took great delight in wearing it on my head (like a hat).

3)   Apart from when I’m stitching kits, I prefer to use DMC-branded threads. In my opinion, the shades are so much more vibrant.

4)   During the 1980s, Duran Duran were my favourite pop group, and I had a major crush on Simon Le Bon. I didn’t just want to marry him and have his babies, I wanted to dress like him too. There was a BBC programme called Jim’ll Fix It, and I spent many years desperately hoping that Jim would fix it for me to meet Simon Le Bon (not that I ever wrote and asked). Alas! None of the above was meant to be.

5)  When cross-stitch patterns state the size of needle to be used, I rarely pay attention, preferring to opt for a size of needle that feels right for me.

6) I used to be an avid Manchester United football fan, although never attended any of their matches. Incidentally, I was born at the same hospital as Ryan Giggs, and also attended the same secondary school as former Man Utd player, Lee Sharpe.

7)     I always make a point of washing items I have stitched, even if they look and smell clean.

3)     Pass the Award to 15 Other Stylish Bloggers

This is a tough one, as I only know a handful of bloggers. Therefore, I’m going to include links to some stitching, and non-stitching websites. I’ll list the blogs first, in alphabetical order.

1)     Byrd’s Nest
3)     Dylan’s Diary
5)     Firefly Dreams
6)     Flossy Bobbin
8)     CrossStitch UK