Saturday, 27 November 2010

In Love & Snow!

It's Saturday morning, Ben's at work, it must be time for me to update here!
Another weeks progress on In Love is here, and it's actually starting to look like something, it's about time it does have to be said! It's another Vervaco and I am rather enjoying it because it's a really easy stitch but, because about 80% of it is scenery and background, it's spent a lot of time not looking like very much, but you can just see my people starting to emerge in the middle now.
In many ways I'm a bit odd when it comes to stitching like this, because there is part of me that likes to stitch round the edge first, then concentrate on the picture in the centre, especially if, like this, there's a lot of background and scenery around the central focus point. I think the thing is, I like to see that central picture growing, and lets be honest, most of us find the background a bit boring, so I find, if (using this one as an example) I'd stitched the people first I'd have completed the focal point then got really board stitching the back ground around it, it looks finished and you're just adding extra bits round the edge, (although you know that it'll look better when the background's done). My way, it's not finished and could never be judged as finished until I've finished that central point. I know it's all a bit odd, but there is method in my madness starting on the edge and working in. I think I'm going to do it when I start my HAED projects as well, do the 'border' pages first then work in.
I think with this project, if I really worked on it in the next few weeks I could get it finished by the end of the year, quite comfortably, but only at the loss of my other projects, and as I don't even have a date for the deadline for this yet (gonna be at least another two years - they haven't gone to Australia for the ashes/honeymoon this year, so it's going to be a two year wait now, I think) then there's no point hurrying for the sake of it.
And as to the other part of my title, snow! Those of you in the UK will have seen the news (and probably the snow as well) and if you've seen the news you'll know that everyone in Yorkshire is six feet under snow, except, apparently us. The entire North East has apparently been under snow for the last couple of days according to the news, but I was starting to believe that Harrogate wasn't in Yorkshire as I'd previously been lead to believe, because we didn't have any. But, I woke up this morning to a beautiful snowy view out of our living room window, so I'm quite childishly excited about it.
Hmmm, just seen Nigella cooking lemon polenta cake and it looks good, now there's tempting!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

I Couldn't Stay Away for Long

The pull of Winter's Majesty was just to strong and I had to go back to her and I've got quite a bit done, even if it has gone back to being a whole sea of blue again! I'm enjoying her though, this page isn't frustrating me anywhere near as much as last page did, you can already see this page starting to building up.
I started on the red to give a central streak to work around but I've then tried to start on some of the more fiddly colours so that I don't end up finishing with all the fiddly stuff like I did on the last page, having said that, I'm sure this is a lot less fiddly than the last page was. I (hopefully) seem to have been right, that I did the most difficult page first, meaning that the rest of it should seem like an absolute walk in the park. Some of the pale stuff isn't showing brilliantly against the blue material, but there are little cream dots across the bottom (4 half stitches in each dot, and there are two different colours in that, you can see why it's fiddly).
It was Children in Need last night (for non Brits - it's a massive telathon that's run every year, to raise money for Children in the UK be they living in poverty, have some sort of illness or disability, living with bereavement, pretty much anything that a child might be in need over) so I did a bit of stitching on and off while watching that. And I was good and gave a donation, it was only a little donation, but I figure if every person who watched gave a little bit then they'd make loads so at least I gave something.
I might get a little more stitching done this weekend yet, we've got a pretty quiet weekend planned after a few busy weeks and with the Christmas run coming up so we're making the most of not having to do much this week, but I had some half decent light an an opportunity to get my blog done while Ben's at work so I thought I'd do my update now.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A bit of randomness

I stole this off Stitchandie and thought I'd give it a go myself.

1. What are you stitching at the moment?
In Love by Vervaco, Winter's Majesty by Maia and Little Snap Dragon by Kustom Krafts2. How many finishes have you had this year? Small? Medium? Large? Extra Large?
2, 1 medium (Tatty Ted Christening Sampler) and 1 large (Tenderness by Vervaco)3. Do you think you will finish any more in the next month and a half before the end of the year?
It seems unlikely, I'm still quite early into all three.4. If you could buy 1 thing for yourself what would it be? (Doesn't have to be stitching)
Hmmm, frivilous or practical? Practical (ish) - a house. Frivilous - A Troll Bead bracelet, ooh or tickets to a (currently) non existant David Bowie gig, would love to see him live!5. What is the best thing you have ever stitched?
Toss up between Jewels of the Orient which is a Dimensions Gold, or Sea of Science (Beatles) which a kindly soul designed for me when I couldn't find a chart I liked - and I'm feeling really guilty because I can't remember her name or her site!6. Do you like making lists?
Used to, no so much now.7. Do you stitch in rotation (how does it work?) or OAAT?
Technically it's rotation, but there's no real logic to it, I work on which ever one I feel like at the time, unless I'm frantically stitching to a deadline. I only started rotation a couple of years ago when I was doing a present for my other half and needed something to work on when he was about!8. What is the next thing you plan to stitch?
It's definitely going to be a HEAD, but I'm not certain which one yet, Alice in Wonderland - Meredith Dillman, Bubbles - Selena Fenech, Lance & Gwen - Selena Fenech, Queen of the Night Sky - Fenech, or possibly one that I don't even own yet! But I need to wait for a frame to come free by me finishing something else first.9. What is your fave ONS? And why?
I don't really know what ONS is, but from th answers I've seen I'm guessing it's something to do with store/online? So I'm taking a random swipe of an answer with HAED10. Do you have a stitching chair?
Corner of the sofa generally, but it's not specific11. Do your children/pets get into your stitching things?
No children or pets, so it's all safe at the mo!
 12. Do you participate in any stitching forums?
Not really, I just love watching peoples blogs and progress that way!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Princess by Jean Sasson

I should possibly say 'ghost written by' Jean Sasson.
I approached this with a mix of feelings because I've recently read Love in a Torn Land also ghost written by Jean Sasson and thought that it was appallingly written. That's possibly unfair, it was an unsuitable writing style for the topic, however, I attempted to put that aside because I'd wanted to read this for quite some time (years) so when I saw it at the library I practically snatched it off the shelf (earning myself some very strange looks, I can tell you).

Princess tells the story or a Saudi Arabian Princess who tells the story of her life and the life of women in Saudi Arabia during her life. It's very well written and I've absolutely flown through this, occasionally reading bits out to Ben, generally when I couldn't believe them and needed him to hear it as well incase I was misunderstanding it. It's a fascinating read and to a Westerners eye, almost impossible to comprehend. It tells tales of women being punished by their father's by being drowned or locked in a darkened room for the rest of their lives, for things that we wouldn't even consider to be a crime, and not only are their father's not punished for this behaviour, they're actually applauded.

But to begin at the beginning, the story is told by 'Sultana', she doesn't reveal her real name, and changes the names of those around her to protect her. It starts with her earliest memories and follows her through to, I would guess, middle age. Sultana was a spoilt brat, and she admits that she was, she writes that she remembers things now and cringes to think that she behaved like that. But, for all that she is a brat, she's quite a likeable brat, she's got sensibilities that a Western woman can understand, and we side with her because we want her to be right and we want her to succeed. Sultana wants equality for the women in Saudi Arabia, and as a reader, so do we.

As is often the case with non-fiction writing, it's quite difficult to review, because this is someone's life, it really did happen to them so you can't really comment on the 'plot' as such. Jean Sasson's voice seems less prevelant in this than it had in the previous book that I had read by her, and that's a good thing. Love in a Torn Land read like a badly written Mills and Boons at time, and while I've got nothing against that, that's not the style you'd really choose to use for a war torn land.

Overal, I really do recommend this book. It states in the reviews on the front pages that everyone should read this book, and I agree with that. I think it's important for us to remember just how lucky we are and how when we complain what an awful day we've had, it's actually not been that bad. As a Princess Sultana also hasn't had the worst life possible, not compared to the poor of Saudi Arabia, but at the same time her life has, in many ways, been much harder than mine, because I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to live with the restrictions that she has had to endure, simply because she is a woman.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Still no dragon I'm afraid

After two weeks of page finishes, this week is a page start instead, which I guess rather stands to reason.
I used practically every light in the house in an attempt to stop the flash going off and bleacing the colours, but it still decided that it needed the flash and so looks a little washed out. And why don't I just turn the flash off I hear you ask? Because, for some reason that I have yet to fathom, when I turn the flash off, it all turns my anti shake off. If anyone knows how to make it stop doing that please do let me know.
We're away this weekend, which is why I'm posting my weekly update practically part way through the week. It's Ben's cousin's birthday so we're heading off to Centre Parks for the weekend. I'm a little intimidated if I'm honest, there's a lot of Ben's family, and I find myself turning into the quite one that hides in the corner and doesn't speak when I'm around them. Plus it's going to be a very sporty, active weekend, which I'm not really. So, if I survive, I'll be posting noxt week.

Monday, 8 November 2010

A Weekend with Mr Darcy - Victoria Connelly

I've had quite a constructive evening already, I'm quite proud. I've done my exercise (just got Camilla's Cardiodance Workout, which thus far I'm rahter enjoying), I've submitted my article to Costume Chronicles and finished my book. So it's the book that I'm going to blog about.

A Weekend with Mr Darcy by Victoria Connelly tells the story of Katherine Roberts and Robyn Love, both of who are Jane Austen fanatics attending a Jane Austen conference, and the romances that may or may not happen around them.
To be honest, I don't really like books that use Austen or Darcy or similar to get attention for their book when they don't necessarily need to. Victoria Connelly does better than most, the idea of the Austen conference works well as a background to the 'action' of the novel, even so, I think putting Darcy in the title is cheating a bit.
Katherine and Robyn are both perfectly likeable, as are the majority of the characters, Doris Norris is lovely (really, that's her name), a charming (in my head, little old) lady, although I don't think that you ever actually find out whether she is a little old lady or not.  Mrs Soames is in the model of Austen's matriarchs, although not really given enough time in the foreground to be a Lady Catherine DeBurgh or similar. Dame Pamela Harcourt is another matriarch (with a fabulous butler), although much less imposing and very keen on helping the plot along, although she really only gets involved in the second half. Of course, as we have two heroines and this is Austen inspired we have to have our heroes as well, I'm not really going to say anything about the heroes incase anyone reads this and feels inspired to read the book, because it's difficult to say much about the heroes without giving a lot of the plot away.
Her characters I like, the setting, again, quite liked, didn't feel anywhere near as contrived as I suspected that it was going to however, the plot. It's typical chick lit fair, and I don't really know why I keen reading chick lit because it often irritates me. It's very contrived. There are some crowbar plot points, people asking really stupid and obvious questions 'Who would possibly be able to do this?' So that ten chapters later a character can suddenly go 'I know how to solve this problem', but this is chick lit and we do kinda expect it, so I don't know why I moan.

Anyway, did rather enjoy it, pretty much raced through it, although I found myself skim reading hte last 5 or so chapters, she took a little to long to get to the end and then when she did get to the end stopped rather adruptly. But rather enjoyable, pretty brainless, nice chilled reading.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

HAED competition

Did you know that HAED have a Christmas competition on, with a very cool prize! Buy a raffle ticket (and the'yre pretty cheap really) and get entered into a draw for 25 charts of your choosing. Well, I had to enter of course, in fact I entered five times (oops, don't tell Ben). And while there is a massive temptation to not tell anyone (if you don't enter, my chances are increased - mouhaha) I figure everyone might fancy entering.

And, I'll get the ball rolling, if (by some extremely unlikely freak of nature) I win, I'll set up some kind of giveaway whereby someone else gets to share the prize with me, because there's no way I'm going to be able to get through 25 charts plus all the ones that I already own, so I may as well spread the love.

On that subject, if you're not already, head over to Threads Through Time where she's having an incredibly generous giveaway, she's offering the opportunity to win the chart of your choice, how sweet and exciting is that?

You know, I keep thinking that I've been here a year or so, and it's probably about time I did a giveaway of my own, hmmm, might have to think about that.,

Saturday, 6 November 2010

In Love has people

Here's another page finish, so I'm two pages into In Love and it's starting to actually look like something now, which is nice. I'm quite chuffed with it actually, its starting to look really nice already. Vervaco kits are lovely to stitch, becuase they're only about eight colours and are really simple to stitch, but look so effective when they're done.
This one's built up quite quickly this week, it seemed like it was going really slowly the last time I worked on it, but I've done about a quarter of this in a week and it's developed really nicely. And it's certainly a lot simpler and less likely to make me go cross eyed than Winter's Majesty was.