News and views from CrossStitcher readers around the world
Heather Gibson, Fort William, Scotland
In winter the Highlands take on a life of their own, the land is transformed from the rugged landscape into a Narnia, an oasis of transparent beauty. You know that winter is well on its way when all through October you live with the haunting bellowing of the stags in the rutt. Often we will find ourselves sat on the porch after dark quietly listening to the stags stage their yearly performance, it’s a hallowing sound that sends shivers down your spine, nature doing what she does best.
We can see Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain from the sitting room window and it’s wonderful to see her in all her moods,she turns pink as the sun sets and rises above its snow caps, the snow on her doesn’t properly melt until around May which benefits the local outdoor industry greatly.
Last year as the dogs were competing we raised money for Lochaber Mountain rescue team as we are always on the hills with the dogs and you never know when you may get into difficulty and need their assistance. It costs them £1000 each for the big ropes they use to rescue climbers and is solely run by volunteers who give up their spare time and risk their own lives to save others.
Christmas and New Year in the Highlands is celebrated in the traditional style with first footing when midnight chimes at the beginning of the New Year and all the traditional Scottish Fayre such as shortbread, plum pudding and clootie dumpling.
It is also interesting to see what wildlife comes by the house. I currently have a sparrow hawk, woodpecker and barn owl visiting daily along with pine martins and various species of garden birds. The garden birds have taken to tapping the window with their beaks whenever the feeders are empty and need filled, they are a joy to watch. Some customers from Holland came by to buy some work and were amazed to see the sparrow hawk land just outside the sitting room window.
Winter is also a very busy time for the dogs as they pick up on shoots on an estate near Oban, they love it. It’s what they are bred for and what we train all year for. You know you have done a good job with the dogs when you get a round of applause from the guns and beaters for a good day’s work. Our picking up season runs from October to January then we are very much back into competition mode for the spring.
Winter also heralds cosy nights in front of the fire with comforting food and, a nice dram of whisky, and, of course, stitching. As Christmas gets closer you’ll find me busily stitching many gifts for friends but also working on gun dog commissions. I have now completed the one I was working on and have started a cross stitch of a customer’s house as a Christmas gift for his wife. I thoroughly enjoy working on these. Wishing everyone a wonderful 2018 and may it bring much joy, wealth happiness and stitching. The Highlands are a stunning wonderland in mid-winter This cairn is in memory of Ralston Claud
Muir at Glencoe My completed gun dog framed with the photograph I was working from Heather is 33 years old, and is a professional watercolour artist. She lives near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands on a stalking estate on the banks of Loch Eil, with her partner and stepson, where she also trains gun dogs. www.hgartist.com
Alesya Tyshkevich, Moscow, Russia
In Russia Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January that’s why in December we get ready for the everyone’s favourite holiday; New Year’s Eve. Although first decorations appear on the streets in November, December is still the period of holiday fuss and expectations.
While other people think of what to buy for presents, me – I choose what to stitch.
It’s a common tradition in my family (and I believe it’s not only mine) to prepare self-made souvenirs. I’m glad to do something special for my beloved ones.
First of all, I pay attention to the time-management, as I know that it’s not my strong point. I do find a lot of great (in size) and inspiring (because of the lovely atmosphere) designs, but as I’m a slow stitcher I prefer little projects to finish in a few days. First point in my to-do-list is given to numerous Christmas tree decorations – little time, easy to make, perfect decision. If I know that there is some time left or one of the family members asked for a “special treat”, I look for a design with the desirable topic. That is the second point in my list. And the third one always hides something special for me.
I have a stitcher’s dream to find a design that suits my vision of Father Frost. Maybe this December my “something special” will come true.
Congratulations, stitchers of the world, with the winter holidays!
Happy stitching x Christmas tree decorations Special treats for Mum and Granny Alesya is 29 years old, married and has recently had her first child, a baby daughter. She works in a school and has been stitching for four years. Find her YouTube channel at www.youtube. com/ricamatrice.
Rachel Dove, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK
The nights have drawn in, the flip flops are in the cupboard for another year, and I have realised that I haven’t finished the two kits from last Christmas that my husband bought me. (Don’t tell him, because I have some more on my list for Santa!)
With a summer of camping, working and parenting, cinema days avoiding the traditional English rainy weather, days on the beach catching the sunshine, I am actually looking forward to the dark nights under a blanket stitching. Nice cup of tea, box set on the TV, project on the go. This got me thinking, are you a year round stitcher or seasonal? Do you wait for the dark nights, or stitch out in the sun too?
I must admit, I haven’t done much
this summer, so my stockpile of mags and charts and gorgeous material has built up nicely and I am excited to whack the heating up and start something new. I have two kits to finish and then I plan to get a new kit made, of my son and our new puppy. I haven’t done a photo kit before, but I have decided that I am going to make time every day to stitch a little, get some nice projects done, and make some Christmas cards. I haven’t made any for a while, but I have decided that this year I am going to use my stitching time to make gifts for loved ones and for my newly decorated house. I am going to make some New Year resolutions too, to really push the boat out in 2018 and test my stitching skills. I have seen a huge Harry Potter chart that would look amazing in my house…
Whatever you are doing this winter, stay warm, and have a lovely time stitching! My next project – my son and our new dog! Rachel is married with two boys, writes for Mills & Boon, and is the winner of the Prima Flirty Fiction Competition.
AnneMarie Zeltenrijch, St.Ulrich am Pillersee, Austria
Gruss Gott, dear CrossStitcher readers. In the little alpine village where I live, Christmas and New Year is a very special time. It is an authentic winter scene, mountains covered with plenty of snow, Christmas trees inside and out with lights and Christmas decorations and the aroma of homemade biscuits. Austrian housewives bake many prior to Christmas and they all taste delicious. People bless their homes with incense and on Christmas Eve families come together for supper and the giving of presents.
On 6 January children dressed as the three Holy Kings Balthasar, Melchior and Caspar ring on your doorbells and sing religious songs. The house is then blessed for the following year as the date is written in chalk above the front door.
I enjoy living here. Austrian people are kind and enjoy it when you join in with their celebrations. In winter I like to go downhill skiing or cross country skiing or sitting beside the fire working on my next small or big embroidery project. It has been my hobby for many years now. Have a cosy winter, greetings from sunny white Austria. The mountains near my house and the Holy Kings & My embroidery of the dog of my parents, Donna A small design of two cats I made for their 50th wedding anniversary. A flower design where the picture is made by stitching around the pattern AnneMarie Zeltenrijch lives in Austria, with her husband and cat Bhumi, but is Dutch. She retired last year.