Crabs brandishing watermelon slices

The biscornu saga continues. I’ve acquired some new patterns, including Barbara Ana’s “Summer Biscornu.” It features crabs waving watermelon slices around. I had doubts about buying this one — mostly because I hate seagulls. Where I’m from, we call them “rats with wings.” I’ve made pretend they aren’t “dirty birds” and that seems to be working.

Anecdote: I grew up in southern Maine, on the coast. Down the street from our house was a diner called “The Seagull Diner.” We locals used to call it “The Dirty Bird.” These days, the diner is gone. I think the whole time that place was open for business no member of my family — or I — ate anything from there. When we didn’t have a phone we used the pay phone there, though. So, a diner only useful for its phone booth in the times predating cellular service.

Anyway, the crabs are really funny, which also makes me forget about the seagulls. I’m enjoying the new lugana fabric I’ve acquired. It makes stitching so much easier because it’s very stiff.

summer

This is “biscornu conveyor belt” number 3. The first two are filled with winter and spring biscornus and waiting to be ironed, cut and sewn together.

So far I have one spring, two winter, and almost half of a summer biscornu. My goal is to make two of each of the spring, winter, and summer ones so I can keep one of each and give the others away. I already have the autumn biscornu for my own collection so I’ll make just one of those to give away.

I bought two other biscornu patterns by Tiny Modernist: The “Butterfly Biscornu” and “Cassette Biscornu.” These will also be made as gifts for others. I already bought the thread for them so I suppose I’m as enthusiastic as usual.

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SAL Update: “Pandora’s Box”

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve been traveling back and forth between Valladolid (where I live) and Madrid (yes, the capital of Spain). Thanks to high-speed rail it’s just an hour to get there and another hour to get back. However, RENFE (the name of Spain’s public train company) can’t provide me with the time and comfort required to stitch away on a 20″ frame. The passengers sitting next to me would not tolerate me smacking them in the face with it as I swung it this way and that to grab another length of thread or bury an end or two. As you might recall from my last update, I had finished a square and maybe two rows of the next square. Now, that “next square” has a few more rows added to it. That’s about it.

Photo Jul 07, 20 59 19

Another thing you might be able to deduce if you read my blog regularly is: This summer is such a huge crafting disappointment for me. I’m very thankful, though, that this summer is most definitely not a disappointment at all. In fact, it’s a wonderful summer. I just had stitchy plans. I wanted to thread crochet and cross stitch a lot more than I am doing. I am confident that the train trips will stop soon, which is wonderful. I really want to work on Pandora’s Box more. I actually miss stitching on it regularly.

The traveling has allowed me to cross stitch smaller projects and soon I’ll have some photos of my “biscornu conveyor belts.” That’s right, it’s now plural, meaning there’s more than one. It’s easy to tote a smaller frame around, thankfully!

You should definitely check out what other SAL participants are up to. A lot of them aren’t caught up in the high-speed rail dimension I was sucked into.

Still traveling back and forth

As June fades into July I continue having to visit Madrid. I know a lot of my readers think that it must be wonderful to go to such a large city in Spain, no less, the land of good food, wine, and the dream home of vacationers. Nevertheless, I invite anyone with dreams of living abroad to remember that often the grass just seems greener on the other side. The grass is very much the same color. This is not to say that I dislike Spain. I love living here and I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to make my life here. I wouldn’t change it for anything. All I’m arguing about is that no matter where we live there are inconveniences.

In the case of having to go to Madrid a bit too often: it gets expensive and right now it is way too hot there. It’s that kind of summer heat that makes you feel gross, lose your appetite, and pretty much wish you could have a bath in freezing ice water.

I always believe in looking at the bright side of things. In this case, the bright side is taking advantage of all the craft supplies available in Spain’s capital. Here in Valladolid it is often difficult to find what I need or want and often I’ve had to order from online stores. In Madrid there’s more variety.

In the case of my most recent “find,” it’s like having discovered something a second time. I’ve ordered cross stitch supplies from the online shop Todo Punto de Cruz before, mainly because they have a good selection of threads, fabrics, and supplies in general. The name of the shop translates to “Everything Cross Stitch,” which means it’s exclusively devoted to cross stitch. This, in turn, should give you the idea that yes, indeed, it’s going to have more variety of supplies.

I needed more fabric, so I decided I had a great excuse to seek out the physical shop which is the online version’s home. In particular, I’ve got bored with just using Aida cloth, which is pretty much all you can find in Valladolid, and usually in just one color. I got interested in trying out some linen and lugana fabrics, so I bought some.

In the first picture we have the fabrics that I bought: a pale green 26-count lugana, another lugana with 26 count in a dark beige color, and some naturally colored linen at 28-count. When you buy a lot of stuff, the shop owner gives you a free tote bag. It’s pretty good advertising for the store but it’s also sturdy and reusable.

If you are ever in Madrid and want to shop for cross stitch supplies, you should go here. Read the website first, though, to find out about the hours. I’m pretty sure this business mostly relies on its online customers for survival because the hours are limited and change with the seasons. It isn’t centrally located in the city but it is a must for cross stitch enthusiasts. The people who work there are very friendly and the fabrics are high quality, mostly imported from Scandinavia. The brand of fabric, I believe, is Permin. There are tons of kits on display, too, enough to keep you browsing for at least an hour.

SAL Update on Pandora’s Box

In three weeks’ time I’ve managed to get another square done as well as a little teensy bit on another square started. Life interrupted the starting of that square. It was one of those things in life where you have to stop what you’re doing and, by the time you have time to get back to what you were doing you forgot what you were doing! Anyway, I’m still having fun with this project, a blackwork design by Liz Almond that she offers for free on her site. It’s really difficult not to have fun because you can take it one square at a time. Every square is like starting a new mini project!

pandorajune

Please check out other SAL participants’ projects and progress:

Dragging out an old WIP

The only reason why I didn’t have to knock the dust off this project is that I kept it safe inside a bag, protected from the dirt and the elements in general.

springbisco

I don’t have far to go on my first Spring biscornu. It’s my “first” because I plan to make more. This is an ongoing project on my small scrolling frame, which I have called the “biscornu conveyor belt.” The idea is to make lots of biscornus on continuous strips of fabric and that way, whenever I get around to cutting them into squares and sewing them together, I’ll have whimsical biscornus for me and people I gift them to. This one is from Barbara Ana’s series of seasonal biscornus. I’m still considering getting the summer one and having all four patterns. Anyway, sewing them and stuffing them will be a great Netflix marathon weekend. Mindless sewing, something entertaining to see on the TV. It doesn’t sound bad at all!

Madrid month

This month of June has brought lots of things. One of them has to do with the weather. I live in a country that is very dry and complains of the lack of rain. There’s an old rhyme that goes like this: “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” I have no idea what the heck plain the rhyme talks about. Spain has a very rugged, bumpy terrain. Anyway, within the valleys there are some nice stretches of land – brief ones – but they are not, strictly speaking, what we might envision as plains. The rhyme is featured in the comedy Pygmalion which is also known as My Fair Lady, so maybe George Bernard Shaw was just making a little joke about Spain having plains. The flat lands don’t look like plains, to me, but rather like desert interrupted by hills.

Anyway, the rain here is quite excessive, at least for my domestic existence. So far this fair city of Valladolid has seen about two weeks of nonstop rain storms. It’s getting quite damp. Damp and cold. Usually by now – where I live, at least, – it’s hotter than hell itself. Not this year. June seems a lot like April and February. Chilly. I’ve washed, dried, and stored my wool sweaters and wish I hadn’t. It gets so cold at night sometimes that there can be some ice mixed with the rain. But hey, I have some nicely newly done afghans. I’m under one right now.

This month’s theme also links to having to be in Madrid an exaggerated amount of time. June here in Valladolid is usually hot. A Madrid June is hotter, usually. I’ve been wearing jackets there to stay warm this month. Totally weird! One of the most amazing temperature quirks in Spain’s capital is that the subway feels like room temperature. Usually by June it gets suffocatingly hot in the stations.

Anyway, let’s get to my point: All people interested in crafts should rejoice about going to Madrid because the biggest tourist magnet, called “Kilometer Zero,” or “Puerta del Sol,” is next to the ultimate craft supply district. After having your photo taken with a person disguised as a huge version of a cartoon character, taking photos of the big “Tío Pepe” sign, and checking out the Plaza Mayor, you can shop for craft supplies. I’m convinced that craft addicts could spend an entire day in this area of the city. This is unusual for typical tourists, who perhaps spend a couple of hours there.

Another funny thing is that craft supply stores in Spain also sell lingerie as well as regular old underwear. So, if you happen to need some hosiery and panties, you can get them along with your yarn!

Anyway, I have had to be in Madrid, so one day I shopped for craft supplies. Quite the bargain. If you ever go to Madrid, and you like to do crafts, you will no doubt visit first “Kilometer Zero” which is “La puerta del sol.” Just off that, you’ll find all this (caution: photo montage ensuing):

 

 

This looks really good, doesn’t it? I have to say: it’s awesome. Crafters míos, go to these shops. Buy what you like. Keep them alive. Learn a little Spanish beforehand, though, because in these types of stores you have to ask for things. The clerk stands behind the counter with the merchandise. You order your stuff and the shop assistant retrieves it for you and rings it up at the register. So, if you’re looking for a particular item, make sure you know the word for it so you can ask for it. Knowing your numbers will also get you far.

From the photo gallery you might recognize the name of a shop, “El Gato Negro.” That’s where I got my yarn for the crochet sweater I designed and offered for free here on this blog. They sell wool by weight, so you can ask for it in units of 100 grams. I’ve also included a picture of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. El Gato Negro is right next to it, on Calle de la Sal (that means “Salt Street”).

And what did I buy? I bought some canvas at the fabric shop which calls itself a sedería-lanería, which means a silk and wool shop. They also have other fabrics made of cotton and, of course, canvas. I needed the canvas for my dragon project. The place had exactly the right color I needed, which is a kind of orange-red.

 

The big crazy afghan

I’ve crocheted a lot of afghans in my life, but this one is special. It could be that I feel accomplished because I mostly made it up on my own, improvising a bit. I did get some help from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks, but I sewed my blocks together with my own ideas and improvised the “filler,” which are random stitch patterns. I even made up my own border for it on the fly!

It was really hard for me to photograph this, so I decided to include different angles on it, including draped over a door. I really wish I had a yard. So many of my blogging buds take a nice panoramic photo of their afghans in their back yards so you can see the whole thing. I live in an apartment in a pretty big city, and it’s just not feasible to drag out an afghan like this and try to spread it over some public space other people are using. I considered trying to get to a public park, but then there was the time factor. I don’t think it would have been a good idea, anyway, because even public parks are full of people using up just about anything that might hold a spread-out blanket.

As you can see from the last two photos, I made up an interesting border with different colored stripes, some lacy, others with a little texture. The most time-consuming task was the multi-colored bobbles with the dark blue background. I wanted to do them as I would with tapestry crochet, but the bright colors showed through the dark blue and looked pretty bad, so I had to cut and weave in ends for each color. I am so glad I did that, though, because it just adds that extra little “umph” I wanted for it.

This afghan will spend most of its time on our bed. I’m confident it will make its way to the living room occasionally.

Now that I’ve finished this afghan I only have one knit/crochet WIP going, which is a pair of socks. This means I’ll be looking for something new to start pretty soon.

Why not buy me a coffee?