Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scotch Harebells Cross Stitch Panel

No sooner said than done - I've started the fourth (and final) flower panel by John Clayton. When I saw the previous three flower panels together it dawn on me - each of them individually looked nice, but somehow unimpressive, but next to each other their colors worked together and combined into a beautiful picture, that only lacked purple-blue colors for completeness. So - here come the harebells.

I'm stitching them again on Aida 14, only I decided to try Rosace floss.

Similar to the poppies, I'm stitching the  harebells by colors. But while I stitched the poppies, dividing the colors into three groups - reds, greens and background and then stitching as I please within a group, now I had the whim to stitch strictly color by color and take a picture after completing a color - something like a dissection of the picture by colors. What's the point - none whatsoever, it's neither easier nor practical, I just want to see how this will come out. I've stitched enough cross stitch projects now, so I'm curious to try different approaches just for fun :)

So - here are the first five colors, that make the flower heads:

I couldn't find pictures of harebells within my photo archives (and I searched :), so I've illustrated the real flowers with pictures from the Internet. The only bell flowers I found were these cousins of the scotch harebells that grow in the Osogovo mountain:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Spasova Mogila

It was a very sunny and warm mid-February day today (most unusual for these latitudes, but this winter has so far been most unusually warm) and we decided to take a trip we've been planning last year, but never made - to the village of Baylovo (43 km from Sofia in the heart of the Sofia plateau) and Spasova Mogila - a small hill near the village. Baylovo is the birthplace of one of the most beloved Bulgarian writers - Elin Pelin, and Spasova Mogila is known for the short story he wrote about a traditional walk up this hill to the small chapel there and the supposedly healing magic of the place on St. Spas's Day.
It was a great day! So quiet, so lonely and so lovely, we enjoyed the 10 km walk from the center of the village to the chapel and back immensely! The path passed through the fields of freshly sprouted crops, the air smelled of moist earth and green.

Gaby is demonstrating her matching outfit :)))

Some of the crops were green-yellow and some grass-green, but up close botanically they looked quite similar. I wish I knew what these crops were, in my heart I'm a country girl, I enjoy fields and nature so much, and to my shame I know so little :(

The village of Baylovo seen from the fields:

Freshly ploughed ground:

St. Spas's Chapel - very small, humble and lonely on top of the hill:

The southern part of the hill was covered with yellow and violet crocuses:

Baylovo - houses and Elin Pelin's museums.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

South Park on the Verge of Spring

As I expected, most of the snow that fell last week has gone, and though there are still no spring flowers, the fresh grass and the blue skies give that feeling of spring in the air, that is so sweet at the end of winter.

During today's walk in the park, I was most fascinated by the frozen ponds. I have a very soft spot for bulrush - I just have to stop and enjoy and take a picture of any bunch of bulrush I see, no reasonable explanation, just a quirk.

And back to the knitting. Although I've taken this misleading photo deliberately, I'm not knitting two identical sweaters :) I started the yellow one first in a shameless copycat attempt to reproduce Elving's stunning work. And I was kind of loving it, until I tried it on. The first problem was that it was a bit narrow, then a bit too yellow for my skin color hue, and third - I had started knitting it from the right side, which meant knitting all the time - and for us, knitting with the thread held  in front, purling is much easier than knitting. So, after not too much deliberation, I decided to start afresh, in a more "my" color - brick orange, more stitches and from the wrong side. Yes, I have to knit the cables from the wrong side, which is not easy, but all the rest is purling, and that's a win in my book. And the yellow Cashmira - I think I can frog it now and make something for Gaby.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jackson Creek Cardigan

Pattern: Jackson Creek Cardigan by Glenna C.
Yarn: YarnArt Pure Merino 300 g, hand dyed
Needle: 3 mm rib, 3.5 mm body
Time to knit: two weeks

This is what became of my tobacco yellow merino - a little cardigan with cable panels and stockinette back. Although the original features 7/8 sleeves, I would have preferred to make mine long, if I had enough yarn. However the yarn would have sufficed for simple stockinette sleeves, as in the pattern, but I wanted mine cabled - so I had to go for the shorter version.

When distributing the skeins, I thought I had chosen the prettiest skein for the fronts, but in the course of knitting it turned out that it was the worst of all - unlike the back and the sleeves, where the colors distributed evenly, on the fronts there is some pooling of darker and lighter stitches. Luckily, it is more visible in the photos than in real life (or so I think :)

Although I've linked it to Glenna C.'s pattern, in fact this is my interpretation of her visual concept for this cardigan. Actually, it is the second sweater this year, which I made entirely without a description (the first is Gaby's striped cardigan) - just taking the idea from a few photos and then calculating and designing the thing to fit my measurements. I know this is far from having my own original idea for a complicated design of a big garment, but I think it is a step forward to designing my own clothes. What I would change next time - I would make the stockinette back five rows shorter than the fronts and the armhole shaping a bit more shallow. I'm not sure about the neckline - higher as it is now or lower? The lower neckline could be more flattering but this time I chose the higher neckline, as it feels more cozy and warm for a winter wool garment. I didn't feel cold during the taking of these pictures, even though everyone around me was wearing warm coats, hats and gloves.

And yes - we've had our small share of snow this year :) The temperatures dropped a bit and it snowed for a couple of days, but before I was ready for a nice snowy photosession the snow began melting. Judging by the forecasts - it should be gone till the end of the week.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wild Poppies Cross Stitch Flower Panel

I just finished the third of the cross stitch flower panels - the wild poppies. It was almost done long ago, but I ran out of the winter white DMC floss and put it aside until a visit to the DMC shop downtown.

Pattern: Wild Poppies by John Clayton
Canvas: white Aida 14
Floss: DMC

With this  cross stitch project I used a more unconventional approach - I stitched it by colors. Because the panel is relatively small and it uses only 15 colors, this method worked OK.

While stitching this third panel I thought that I didn't want to stitch any other of these, but now, that I see my wild flower garden together, I think I might persuade myself to make the Scotch Harebells too - they are so-o-o beautiful and they will be a perfect addition to the bunch. I still haven't decided how to frame these, so for now I'm putting them aside.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Puzzle Cervena Lotha Castle

This is one of the two puzzles we bought for the New Year's Eve. Traditionally we open a puzzle on the 31 Dec and spend some time assembling it, while waiting for the New Year to come. However, this year none of us felt like assembling a puzzle - until a couple of days ago. From a family hobby puzzles are quietly becoming my personal hobby - this one I assembled almost entirely on my own, with a small part of the big tree done by hubby.

Puzzle: Cervena Lotha Castle, Czech Republic
Brand: Castorland, 1000 pcs.
Time to assemble: 2 days

The quality of the pieces is not as good as Ravensburger or Schmidt, but still quite good and better than Trefl, Educa or Jumbo. I definitely prefer puzzle paintings to puzzle photos, but this one was pleasant to assemble.  I hope one day to be able to visit the actual place, I love old castles :)