Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's been a while since I've posted some pictures

I've been organizing and cleaning up some photos this morning, so I thought I'd share a few.

First up is the piece I finished for my BIL and SIL's Christmas gift. DH framed it up for me and we gave it to them on Christmas morning. My SIL was especially touched - she teared up a little when she opened it (hopefully it meant that she liked it!)

Next up is Nautical Dreams, which DH also framed before we left for Christmas, but I just sent it out yesterday. It's on it's way to Colorado, so I hope it doesn't get stuck in any snowstorms. I also sent along a Boston Harbor ornament I stitched up from a Treetrunk Designs leaflet. I like to give ornaments as gifts to new babies to start their collections. Boston is very near and dear to the heart of my friend (the baby's mom) and I am sure it will become very important to her daughter as well.

And finally, something my DH stitched for his mom for Mother's Day. It's a Dimensions kit she picked out when they came to visit us a while back, and we just forgot to take a picture of it before we gave it to her. DH also framed it for her, and I think he did a great job. It's now hanging in the entrance to her kitchen.

And I know I promised Kim some pics of my progress on Princess, but I messed up the ones I took and have to take new ones, so they'll be coming later.
Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Feast #173

From Friday's Feast: A Buffet For Your Brain

Appetizer: Name 2 things you would like to accomplish in 2008.
Get a new job and buy a house.

Soup: With which cartoon character do you share personality traits?
According to one quiz, Cinderella. Classic, sophisticated, and beautiful, you are a perfect 50's schoolgirl. You like dark suits (odd) and the corprate world. You love business and government. Try running for president! And, you dream of a perfect ballroom fantasy as Cinderella has. You are fun yet mature. Your bad side is, you are way to tight. Loosen your screws, and oil up your rusty parts. Be a little more caring and spontaneous.

Salad: What time of day (or night) were you born?
I was born in the early evening.

Main Course: Tell us something special about your hometown.
HBO recognizes Wilkes-Barre as the birthplace of modern cable programming. In November 1972, coincidentally the autumn that followed Hurricane Agnes, 365 subscribers of Service Electric Cable were the first to receive HBO's service.

Dessert: If you could receive a letter from anyone in the world, who would you want to get one from?
Probably Russell Crowe or Troy Aikman. But I'd want it to be a real letter - not some mass produced fan letter
Saturday, December 22, 2007

An amazing news story

This morning, I was catching up on some reading and came across this news story about a pastor at an Ohio church who gave each of his congregants $50 as seed money to raise more by using whatever talents and gifts they possessed. What follows is an incredible story well worth reading.

A Talent for Giving

Keep in mind that I am not a religious person and my DH and I do not belong to a church. But I couldn't help but share this story, especially during the Christmas season. Using your talents and helping other people is a universal theme that is not the sole domain of a religion. The stories of the participants are varied and touching in their own ways, and it's an excellent reminder that we ALL have something to offer.

And with that, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

SBQ: Teaching

Today’s SBQ is: Have you ever helped anyone else learn to stitch? Have you ever helped anyone learn a new stitch or technique? (Submitted by Kathryn)

I learned to stitch on my own, and I've never tried to teach anyone how to do it. Since my DH and I both stitch, sometimes one or the other of us will have trouble with a specialty stitch, so we try to help each other out when we can, but mostly we just figure things out by following the directions, or looking for an alternative set online.

I'd love to teach my niece how to stitch. She just turned 5, so she's a little young, but I might take a kid's kit down the shore with us in June and try teaching her then (she'll be just shy of six). She likes to do crafts and things, so I think she might like it. My MIL also wants to learn to stitch, so I promised I would teach her when she retires next year. However, I have more hope of my niece sitting still than my MIL!!!! LOL

I've been tagged! 12 Christmas Things about me

Lovely Lee, the Lake Stitcher, tagged me with a Christmas meme, so I'm playing along as well.

1. Christmas Eve dinner is one of my favorite meals all year. I'm 1/2 Polish, as is my husband, so there is a strong tradition of Wigilia (pronounced vuh-LEE-uh) in both our families. There is a ton of meaning and symbolism behind the meal, so if you don't know what it is, it makes for interesting reading.

2. I can, and usually do, listen to the Nutcracker over and over. I love it.

3. Our tree is decorated with ornaments from both our childhoods as well as ornaments we've collected and made together. We make it a point to collect ornaments as souveneirs of our travels and I love decorating the tree because of all the memories it holds.

4. I hate taking down the tree and put if off as long as possible. Thank goodness we have an artificial one.

5. I love rock and roll Christmas music. U2, Tom Petty, Billy Squier, Elton John, Queen, etc. Love it.

6. I was born the day after Christmas, so when I was a child, people overcompensated with presents. Now I get the "This is for Christmas AND your birthday" combo gifts. I hate that. I like to enjoy them as 2 separate occasions.

7. I both love and hate buying presents. I love picking out the perfect gift for someone - I love things that are sentimental, practical, or meaningful to the recipent. Provided I have enough time to think about it, or am inspired. I seriously dislike stressing over presents.

8. Speaking of presents, I think it is absolutely ridiculous for people to be pushing, shoving, and practically killing each other, not to mention paying astronomical amounts of money, for gifts that their kids will play with for 10 minutes and forget, simply because the gift is on the must have list.

9. I think Christmas morning should be kids ripping open presents and everyone enjoying what they get, then sitting back and watching the kids play while the adults enjoy a breakfast of coffee and Christmas cookies.

10. I am not a religious person, but Oh Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

11. One of my favorite Christmas memories is of my DH's grandfather being so excited about his Dallas Cowboys boxer shorts that he immediately put them on and modeled them for the whole family (while still wearing his dress shirt, socks and shoes).

12. I adore Christmas lights and love driving around looking at them. The more complex, insane and outrageous a display, the more I love it. I absolutely love the enthusiasm of people willing to go all out on their displays.

And now I will tag Meari, Dani, and Ruth, if they haven't done them already. And two non-stitching friends, Ashely and Michelle.
Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Feast

It's been a busy, busy week. DH is home from work, so we've been baking cookies and finishing up pre-Christmas stuff (we travel for the holidays, so we need to get everything done here). This year was MUCH easier with help - I baked everything myself last year because of DH's long work hours. We also cut back a whole lot on how much got baked - I made double batches of almost everything last year and we had a whole bunch of cookies in the freezer, so this year, single batches of all but a few of the cookies.

We usually supply the cookies for the family. My MIL and FIL are busy running around with the grandmothers so they don't have a lot of time, and nobody else seems to want to bake. So that's our contribution to the holiday festivities. This year, we baked 11 different kinds of cookies and made 1 pan of Bailey's Truffle Fudge (always a big hit). DH finished up this morning so we're all done!!

Speaking of being done, I finished Nautical Dreams and DH framed it, along with the anniversary piece for my BIL and SIL's Christmas gift. I'm being lazy now, but I'll take pictures and post them later. I've also got a good start on LHN's Princess and the Pea, the SAL I am doing with Kim.

There's no official Friday Feast Questions today, so I'm going back to the beginning and doing Friday Feast #1 (from May 21, 2004)

Appetizer: What time do you usually wake up each day? If you could choose your wake-up time, when would it be?
This is a tough one. When I am working, I like to get up early and get into the office early (by 7-7:30). Normally I'm not a morning person, but being able to leave around 4 motivates me. I also don't mind getting up early when we're traveling - I like to have the whole day to do things. When I don't work, I'd much prefer to stay up until 2-3 am and wake up around 9 or 10. That seems to be my most natural schedule.

Soup: When was the last time you bought groceries? What store did you go to? Name 3 things you purchased.
We went shopping at Wegman's on Sunday. I LOVE that place. Love it, love it, love it. It's a NY state based chain that's spread throughout the Northeast and I love their stuff. I bought bagels, lamb for lamb stew and Wensleydale Cheese with Cranberries.

Salad: How many books have you read so far this year? Which was your favorite and why?
I don't keep track of the books I read or even how many. I do get a lot from the library, so my spending has gone WAY down. This year, I've been on a rock biography kick - I've read Motley Crue, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Warren Zevon, but my favorite has been Tom Petty's bio.

Main Course: What is something you consider to be very elegant? In particular, what about that item/place/person conjures up the feeling of elegance?
I guess I'd have to say high end places usually conjure up elegance for me - like Bergdorf's or Saks. I like understated elegance though - clean, classic lines, quality materials, nothing really flashy or overly opulent / gilded.

Dessert: Who taught you how to drive?
My mother. It did not go well. I did much better with my HS driving instructor.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You should read this book

I am VERY excited for my friend Julie. Her first book, The Hard Way, is coming out in May 2008!!!!!

Julie and I went to grad school together, meaning I got to read quite a bit of her book already. It's a series of short stories connected into one overall story. Julie is not only an amazing, wonderful person, but she's a marvelous writer and I promise you, you will NOT be disappointed. This book has been a long time coming, and she worked hard to learn the ropes of publishing. It's not as easy as you'd think - she's had to go through a lot, including her editor being changed, but she made it through and her dream is about to become a reality.

So please check it out, and if you're so inclined, pre-order your copy today. :-) You can also check out Julie's blog here.
Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Feast #172

From Friday's Feast: A Buffet For Your Brain

Appetizer: Make up a word and give us its definition.
Pfffftttt. It's my expression of disgust. (And my opinion of this question. It's kind of dumb)

Soup: What is currently your favorite song?
It's going to be a toss up between U2's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and Tom Petty's "Christmas All Over"

Salad: What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list this year?
A new job, a new car, and a new house. In that order. Yeah, I dream big.

Main Course: Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.
The smell of lilacs remind me of my aunt's farm

Dessert: Who is someone on television that you feel probably shouldn’t be, and why?
Tony Kornheiser and Ron Jaworski. They are RUINING Monday Night Football on me. Also, they can take Joe Buck with them. I can't stand him either.
Thursday, December 13, 2007

SBQ: Thread Management

Do you do anything special to your threads before putting them through your fabric to make them more manageable? (Submitted by Nancy)

Other than licking the end of the floss to get it through the eye of the needle, nope. Of course, I've been working mostly with DMC and have only recently branched out into overdyed threads, so I never really felt the need to, unless you count working with metallics. I hate working with metallics. Probably some sort of thread conditioner would make my life easier. So I ordered a bit of Thread Heaven when I placed a Stitching Bits and Bobs orders. We'll see how that works out.

Well. That was easy enough. Might as well contemplate some more SBQs while I am at it.

6/14/2007: How do you store your WIPs and other projects that you have kitted up? (Submitted by Jennifer)

I try not to kit too much up ahead of time, but when it comes to stitching, Ziploc bags are the best thing ever. (Okay, one of the very best things). If the chart doesn't come in it's own ziplock bag, I put it in one, along with fabric and fibers that I may have purchased especially for it. Until I'm ready to work on it, it lives in a plastic underbed storage box with the rest of my stash.

When I'm getting ready for new pieces, I usually pull about 2-3 things that are appealing to me or that I need to get done and they move into a smaller plastic storage bin next to my stitching chair. At this time, I make sure I have everything I need in there to start stitching, and I will usually take out the fabric and cut it to size, marking the center. That piece goes in the project bag, and the excess goes back in the original fabric packet bag that's marked with the count and color.

I work on scroll frames, so I usually don't worry about taking pieces off the frames between stitching. All of the fibers for current projects are stored in a plastic bag, and that bag, along with the chart, sits on top of everything else in the stitching bin next to my chair. If I'm working on a small project, that goes in the box too and the lid snapped on. If I'm on a frame that doesn't fit, I put the frame where it won't get damaged or dirty, usually behind my chair. (No kids and a very complacent cat makes this possible)

6/6/2007: What has been your most challenging project and why? (suggested by Ish)

I might have mentioned this one before - the On Safari piece I stitched for my friend Michelle's daughter. They did her nursery in a jungle theme and I couldn't find anything I really liked for her birth record until i found this piece on eBay. I was so excited when I saw the listing that I didn't realize it was on plastic canvas until after the sale was complete. But I thought I'd give it a try anyway, and at first, it was fun. Stitching on the canvas was a new experience and different that stitching on fabric (it was still using threads). Stitching the crosses wasn't bad, but for some reason, doing the backstitching on this piece was sheer torture for me and it took me longer than I thought to finish it. I'm pleased with how it turned out, but I would never want to stitch it again.

5/30/2007: How many needles do you use during a project? Have you ever loaded up a needle for every color? Do you use a new needle for every project or recycle your favorite needle? (suggested by Kathryn)

I probably use about a dozen needles at various times during a project. I picked up a square plastic magnetized needle case in the quilting section and I like to use that because it keeps my needles in place and with the lid that snaps shut, they don't fall out when I travel. Probably I should sort my needles better according to size and all, but I like to pick needles by how they feel - I can tell the difference between the really thin ones for high count fabrics and the thicker ones for Aida just by feeling them.

If I am going to be stitching a lot of one color, I will cut my strand of floss, separate out the threads and thread up three needles with 2 strands each. I only like to have one or two colors out at a time, so if I stop working with one of those colors and move on to a new one, I take the threaded needles, stick them into the threads on the bobbins and wind the excess thread around the bobbin. Then I move onto the next color and repeat the process. Usually when I am done, I have to pull out at least 5-6 needles from various bobbins, unthread them, and wind the thread back around the bobbin for the next thread.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Our Christmas Tree

I finally talked DH into putting up our tree this year. Several years ago when we moved into this townhouse, we went out and bought an artifical pre-lit tree because we travel for the holidays and have a cat that likes to drink things he's not supposed to, making a real tree a non-option. However, now that the tree skirt is in place, our cat spends most of his day (and evening) napping on it under the tree. I worried the first year that he'd start climbing up it, but I guess I should have known he's too lazy for that. He just likes the softness and warmth of the velvet (and since it's a $20 skirt from Target instead of a hand stitched heirloom, I'm okay with it). So here's our tree in it's glory. Excuse the hibiscus tree that wanted to make it into the picture.

And here's a few of our favorite ornaments:
Monday, December 10, 2007

Leading myself into temptation...

I've been looking for ideas for my Bride's Tree SAL projects, which is probably a mistake because I definitely don't need to acquire anything new. It's much like recipes for me - even though I have THOUSANDS of recipes in my possession (I'm not even kidding or exaggerating), I will usually go out and look for a new one whenever I am in the mood for something new. I've been trying to be good and work through what I already have, but it's so hard sometimes!

I went out looking for a neat house pattern to do. I saved a 3-D one from a website, but forgot to note where it was from, so until I can figure out where it came from, I don't want to post it without credit. UPDATE: I found the original house I was looking for: Les Chroniques de Frimousse

However, in my search for 3-d houses, I found this little cutie from The Nutmeg Company.

The design is stitched on fabric, which is then mounted to plastic canvas for structure. How adorable is that?? She has a ton of different houses and cottages, as well as other 3-d projects like boxes. And you have GOT to see the 3-D Windsor Castle - it will blow your mind.

The sad part for me is that the kit is £15.99, and with the weak dollar, that translates to over $32 for me, PLUS overseas shipping. Ouch! The good news is that the designer has put out a book called 3-D Cross Stitch More Than 25 Original Designs, which I was able to find on for significantly less. It won't be the same exact cottage, but it gives instructions for the technique and I am sure I can figure out how to design one of my own, even if it's not as detailed as this one. So I went ahead and ordered the book so I would get it in time to start my January House ornament.
Friday, December 7, 2007

SBQ: Stash Questions (11/28/2007)

This set of SBQs was submitted by Heather. I've editied out a lot of the context, but you can read the whole thing here.

1. What would your stash tell others about you?
That I have a short attention span, and like a lot of different themes and ideas. Many of my patterns were stitched for gifts and I try hard to match the personality of the recipient or reflect the theme of the occasion, such as a wedding. I have charts that range from complicated and realistic to simple and primitive. My own personal charts reflect things that are important to me - my Irish heritage, lighthouses and nature.

2. Most of us stitchers joke about having reached SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy), but what would you like done with your stash after your death? Do you want it to reach other stitchers who will love it, too? Would your family know what to do with it or recognize its value?
I don't like to think about things like death or destruction (losing everything in a flood or fire). Forced to consider the subject, I would say that I hope I have children that are stitchers, or that my nieces or nephew take up the craft and would want my patterns. I'd also hope that many of the stitched pieces we keep for ourselves (both my DH and I stitch) would be passed down to future generations as family heirlooms. As it stands now, however, I don't know if anyone would recognize the value of what we have, though we don't own any rare or expensive patterns or materials. I would hope that it would be sold or given to someone who would use an appreciate it rather than thrown away

3. How well organized is your stash –could it be sold easily or would it require lots of organizing? What would you like to see done with the funds collected from such a sale?
Our stash, compared to some others, is fairly small - it fits mostly in 2 under bed storage boxes, plus a few binders. I've been working on an excel spreadsheet for inventory, so hopefully that would help, but I don't really keep track of prices (I'm afraid it would be too shocking to add up everything that has been spent). If my stash was not given to a family member or another stitcher, I would like my family to profit from the sale of the stash

4. Are there items in your stash which are rare and highly desired by stitchers that might make a much larger amount of money if sold on eBay? Have you done anything to designate which items these more valuable ones are to guide your family in how to handle them? Who would you tell your family should handle such a sale so that they don’t have to do it themselves? Have you done anything to make these thoughts known to others, either through discussions or through a codicil to your will?
I don't own anything particularly rare or expensive, but when the time comes, I will probably add a notation to our wills designating who gets what. I'd probably want everyone to pick the pieces that mean the most to them.

5. Have you ever attended a similar sale of a passed stitcher’s stash? How did it make you feel? Did it encourage you to make any changes in your stitching lifestyle?
I've never attended such a sale, though I have been to estate sales for other antique items. I appreciate the value of treasured, well cared for items that are passed through generations and that have sentimental value. I have a green depression glass bowl from my grandmother that means more than any price tag that could be put on it, and I hope that some day, things that meant a lot to me will mean a lot to future generations of my family. And if it's not my family, then I hope those things find their way to someone who will love them.

Friday Feast #171

From Friday's Feast: A Buffet For Your Brain

Appetizer: What was the last game you purchased?
For myself, probably Trivial Pursuit. As a gift, one of those chess/checkers/backgammon etc. combination games

Soup: Name something in which you don’t believe.
The No Child Left Behind nonsense. A good idea on paper, a very bad idea in practice

Salad: If you could choose a celebrity to be your boss, who would you pick?
Martha Stewart

Main Course: What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?
Not to let toxic people in my life

Dessert: Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.
A spacious room with an ocean view and access to a deck. A big comfortable couch with good lighting for stitching and a fireplace

SBQ: Stitching Advice for Newbies

First, I would like to mention that I am mad at myself. I thought of a good idea for a question, then got distracted and promptly forgot it. Grrr. I hate when that happens. Probably I will wake up at 3 in the morning remembering what it is.

Anyway, on to this week's question. What tips would you give to a new stitcher to help her stitch faster and neater while still keeping it enjoyable? (Submitted by Nancy)

Always keep your hands clean, especially when working with fabrics and flosses you can't wash. I'm surprised at how many people forget to do this, or forget that even if their hands look clean, there are still invisible oils and dirt that will ruin a piece. Nothing ruins the enjoyment of stitching something faster than a stain on the finished piece.

Organize your materials and chart, and keep them protected when they're not in use. Again, it would be heartbreaking to have all your work ruined because someone spilled coffee or stepped on a piece by accident. I keep all my threads in a ziploc bag, my chart in a protector sleeve and store my project in a plastic tub with a snap on lid whenever I am not working on it. Sounds obsessive, but we have a cat that likes thread. I'd rather not have him ruining my project or himself by eating what I am stitching.

Finally, don't bite off more than you can chew. It can be daunting to stitch a big project or something with a lot of backstitching. Give yourself a break by stitching up something small and quick - you'll feel a sense of accomplishment when you see faster progress. Unless you're really enjoying it, give yourself permission to take breaks from a big project and work on other things. If you end up hating the piece you're working on, what's the sense in putting all that time and effort into it?
Thursday, December 6, 2007

Look what came back from the framers!

Rocky Point by Dimensions (kit)

This is one of the first pieces my DH stitched. I know! Quite ambitious!!! It took him over a year to stitch the piece, and it languished in a drawer for a few more until my MIL asked us what we wanted for Christmas. DH and I had been discussing getting some of our more complicated pieces professionally framed, but the expense was a little daunting. However, getting one or two pieces at a time done made it less daunting, so we asked MIL if she'd like to foot the bill to have this piece framed. She thought it was a wonderful idea, so I took it to my LNS to have it done and picked it up yesterday. It's absolutely gorgeous, and will have a place of honor in our new home.

A few other things also managed to follow me out of the store. I don't know how it happened. Really. I swear. LHN's Princess and the Pea followed me home. I was just going to stitch it in DMC floss, but then I thought well why not stitch it in the recommended fibers, so that necessitated an order from Stitcher's Closet when I got home. And then I saw on Kim's blog that she was working on the piece as well, so we'll be stitching them together as soon as my fibers arrive

Also following me home were threads I picked for Carriage House Sampling's Acorns and Threads. I went with GAST Dark Chocolate, Apple Cider and Chamomile instead of the recommended fibers. (A gorgeous dark blue/purple called Auntie Dee slipped in there as well, though I am not sure what I will use it for). And then there was the Crescent Colors Belle Soie in Creme de Menthe that will probably be used for some Christmas ornaments.

Finally, some fabrics. I've been deciding on a few ornaments to do from the JCS ornament issue and decided on Snow Bunnies and Winter Love for myself, and DH is going to do the woodpecker. Our house backs up to woods and we have a feeder on our deck, so we get lots of different birds for us (and our cat!) to enjoy looking at. My favorite is the red bellied woodpecker with the cool red head (like me!), but DH likes the downy and hairy woodpeckers - the black and white ones with the tiny little red stripe on the males. I've been looking for a woodpecker ornament for our tree for a while now, so this is perfect.

Last night, I made a little more progress on Nautical Dreams, but I didn't take any pictures. I need to hurry up and get it done because I can feel myself getting bored doing it and itching to work on new projects.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bride's Tree Ornaments

When my BIL and SIL got married, my DH and I wanted to get them something really special for their first Christmas as a married couple. I scoured the internet looking for ideas and stumbled upon what's credited as a German tradition of the Bride's Tree. This is the list of ornaments and the meanings: (Note that the list contains both religious and secular meanings)
  • Heart - true love, love of family
  • House - shelter and/or protection
  • Flower or Flower Basket - good wishes, beauty in the home
  • Fruit or Fruit Basket - generosity, plenty
  • Teapot or Coffeepot - hospitality
  • Bird or Bird in a nest - happiness and/or joy, confidence in the shelter
  • Pinecone - motherhood and/or fruitfulness, eternity
  • Rose - beauty and/or affection, Virgin or Mother Mary
  • Fish - Christ's blessing, fertility, Christ
  • Angel or church - God's guidance in the home, God's protection, God
  • St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) - giving and sharing, unselfishness and/or goodwill
  • Rabbit - hope and/or faith
Since my DH's and SIL's families are both of German descent, I thought it was most appropriate, and working from the list, we collected the ornaments for their tree. Once we had them all, DH put together a customized box for them (using a photo storage box and cardstock) and I made a booklet explaining the meaning behind all the ornaments. They absolutely LOVED it and my SIL says when they take it out each year, they re-read the booklet as they hang the ornaments.

We also put together a set of ornaments for our own tree, but I've been thinking I would like to stitch up some well. Even if I don't hang them on our tree, it would make a wonderful gift. And since there are 12 ornaments in the list and 12 months in the year, I thought, "Why not put this out there as a stitch along?" Ornaments would stitch up quick and the list allows for tons of creativity in interpretation. Plus since 2008 has been dubbed the Year of Selfish Stitching, why not make a personalized set of ornaments for yourself?

I did a little preliminary research and was able to find all 12 patterns in the Better Homes and Garden's 2001 Cross Stitch Designs book. However, I've seen how amazingly creative and resourceful my fellow stitchers are, and I think this could be a great way to express that creativity. I would post the ornament theme for the month and everyone would stitch their piece, posting pictures when they complete them. Of course, I'd post the entire list on the blog in case anyone wants to work ahead or keep their eyes open for ideas, but the focus would be one one theme per month.

I've set up a blog here: Bride's Tree SAL. It doesn't look like much now, but I'll be working on it over the next few days. If you're interested in doing the SAL with me, let me know and I will add you as an author so you can post your pictures.
Monday, December 3, 2007


I finished a piece for my BIL and SIL, made lots of progress on Nautical Dreams and finally got around to taking pictures of some ornaments I finished a week or two ago.

First up, the piece for my BIL and SIL. It's a modification of a chart in a leaflet called Marriage Keepsakes by Leisure Arts. I've stitched the chart before - the repetition in the border makes it pretty easy. This time, I charted out the poem they used on their bookmark favors and used that instead. I like to use themes and colors from a couple's wedding when I make their wedding record, so I thought this fit in nicely. I stitched over 2 on 28 using all DMC floss, including a silver metallic thread for the inside borders. I have to frame it up and it will be ready to go for 1/2 of their Christmas present.

I also stitched up what I'm calling the Family Tree for them. It's a copy of a piece my MIL has had hanging on her wall for YEARS. It was something a friend of hers stitched for her and I've always admired it, so when I started stitching, I took close up photos of her piece and copied it into a chart in PC Stitch. It was VERY quick to stitch up, so I made two - one for us and one for my BIL and SIL. The original piece is stitched in red, brown and green DMC floss over one on what appears to be 14 ct. off white Aida, so I replicated the same fabric and color combination for the new ones. I experimented with a slightly brighter set of colors for theirs and framed it in black. I think it came out great. And I was lucky enough to find the same alphabet in one of my books, so now if I want to make one for someone else, I can do that. (I intentionally blurred our family name in the picture).

Next up are some ornaments that have been languishing in a drawer for at least 2 years. My DH stitched them up from a kit by Bucilla, laced them over cardboard backings with a little batting and there they sat, waiting to be finished. A few weeks ago, I finally dug them out and finished the backs by gluing a hanging ribbon and a piece of coordinating felt over the lacings. I know they're a little close to the edges, but this was one of our very first stitching projects and we were still pretty inexperienced. We'd definitely leave much more room the next time! They still came out nice, and they'll be family heirlooms anyway. :-) (And if you notice the kitty in the first row, he even modified him from the original brown to black so he looks like our kitty.)

And finally, I made some progress on Nautical Dreams this weekend, finishing up the cross stitching (almost) in the section with the shells and sandpiper and filling in the background. It's hard to see, but I also started on the 2 little shells on the top. I'm hoping to finish by the end of the week so I can get it personalized, framed and mailed out.
Sunday, December 2, 2007

Beaded Things

As I've been doing my blog reading, I've noticed quite a few of you like beaded fobs and such, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite links for beading supplies. I've purchased from all of these sources myself on many occasions and would absolutely not hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Their prices are excellent, their customer service outstanding and their products are all high quality. Fusion Beads has an especially nice idea gallery - I've drooled over more than one goodie there.

Also, I recommend signing up for their newsletters if you're interested in beading, as you will get regular coupons and specials available only to subscribers.

How much do you LOVE these from Fusion Beads??? Wouldn't they make the cutest ends for a fob? You have to check out the site - they have some really cool variations on Christmas trees.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More SBQs

I'm still contemplating the current SBQ, so until I come up with a good answer, here's a few more from the archives

7/12/07: This SBQ was lifted from a couple of threads over on The Wagon and is:
What do you love to do that many people hate? What do you hate to do, but do anyway?

I can't think of anything I love to do that other people hate, but maybe I haven't been around enough fellow stitchers. What I HATE to do, but do anyway is backstitching / outlining. Sometimes it really brings a piece together like nothing else can, but it's a pain to do. Especially since I force myself to be careful with the stitching - I don't like crossing more than 2 or 3 stitches if I can help it - I find that long stretches of thread can end up looking messy, but stitching a block or two at a time can help keep it looking very neat. It would probably take me much less time to backstitch (and I might hate it less) if I could allow myself to take big stretches in one stitch, but alas, it is not to be.

7/03/07: Do you consider yourself a "floss miser"? (Submitted by Blonde Librarian)

Not really, but probably because I stitch mostly with DMC which is readily available and fairly inexpensive. I imagine if I stitched with silks or overdyed threads, I might be a little more miserly with my threads. Or not. Part of the joy of stitching is making pretty things, and you need the thread to accomplish your ultimate goal. I try hard not to hoard - there's another skein around the corner.

6/22/07: When you start a new work do you look for something small, do you look for another huge project or do you consider your UFOs? (Submitted by Kathryn)

Usually when I start a new project, it is for a specific reason - wedding, new baby, gift, etc. Rarely do I start something at random for myself, but I think I might do a little more for me, especially since I've been stacking up some charts I really like and want to do for myself. However, I *do* like stitching for other people. I pick charts that are meaningful to their situation and try to personalize whenever I can. I've even combined bits and pieces to make patterns that are one of a kind for that person.

Putting my blog together has made me realize how little I keep for myself, and how many of my pieces have been given away. I'd like to start keeping a few more pieces for my own home, and I will probably start off with a few small things to get a sense of accomplishment. Also, I won't feel as guilty if I rotate things in and out if I didn't spend months laboring over them.

Friday Feast #170

From Friday's Feast: A Buffet For Your Brain

Appetizer: What is your favorite carnival/amusement park ride?
Roller Coaster - the bigger, faster, crazier, the better. I love any kind of wild ride that spins, goes upside down, whatever.

Soup: How do you react in uncomfortable social situations?
I avoid them at all costs. If I am stuck in one unexpectedly, I remain very quiet until I can escape

Salad: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy discussing deep, philosophical topics?
Sometimes an 8, sometimes a 2. I used to enjoy it much more, but now it tends to frustate me that there are no good answers to some very hard questions. The older I get, the less idealistic and the more practical I am.

Main Course: Did you get a flu shot this year? If not, do you plan to?
Absolutely not. I hate needles. They make me pass out. I'm not in a high risk group, so I don't intend to get a shot. I'd rather see someone who genuinely needs the shot get it.

Dessert: Approximately how many hours per week do you spend watching television?
I should be ashamed, but I'm not. Probably about 40 or so, give or take. Much less when it's not football season. And I almost never just watch television - I multitask: stitch, fold clothes, organize, etc.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Because I am a bad influence....

I was just transferring my wishlist items into an Excel spreadsheet (I know. I am a geek) and checking to make sure sites still had things I had on my list. One of the sites I have in my list is I was clicking around the site a little and came across this:

Coupons for blog owners

If you have a stitching blog, you can save on each and every order at!

Here's how it works.

Most blogs have a "Favorite Sites" feature where you can share links with your readers. Just add to this area or any other conspicuous place on your blog, and we'll send you a custom coupon for 10% off each and every order you place through the end of 2007. If you'd like to double your savings, contact us about displaying a custom banner on your site.

You can save even more if you share your coupon with family and friends. We'll flag all purchases they make using your customer coupon, and for every $200 they collectively spend, you'll earn a coupon for 15% off a single order.

That's it! Saving with is simple, but if you have any question, please contact us.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Catching up on SBQs

I thought I'd do some catching up by answering a few SBQs.

9/5/07: Would you ever stitch one of your BAPs a second time? (This does not include starting over because of mistakes, bad fabric, etc., rather stitching something from the first stitch for a second time.)

Hmmmm. I've never really taken on a HUGE project, though some have been complicated. Probably the most time consuming project I've ever done is the one I did for my friend Michelle's daughter. It was the first time I stitched on plastic canvas, so that was a neat experience, but by the time I was finished with it, I was very, very, very glad I was done. It took me almost 8 months to stitch and finish the piece, and the backstitching drove me nuts, but I think it came out really nice. I'd never stitch it again though. In fact, I should probably go through my stash and look for things like that I can trade.

(BTW, this picture looks a little blurry in spots on purpose for privacy)

8/15/07: How did you get started stitching? Was there a person that inspired you? (Submitted by Jennifer)

Believe it or not, my husband got me started on cross stitching - about 4 years ago. We were looking for a new hobby to try and decided to try cross stitching. I had done embroidery a very long time ago when I was a child (my grandmother and mother taught me) and I had done a bit of stamped cross stitch, but never counted. So we picked up a few kits and it blossomed from there. The very first piece we completed together was a birth announcement for our niece.

7/28/07: Have you ever thought of getting a rider on your household insurance to properly cover your stash (some of us have quite an extensive stash that an average household policy wouldn’t fully cover) in the case of some sort of damage to your house that would destroy/ruin charts, fabrics, floss, etc? (Submitted by Dani)

I never thought about that until I saw this question, and based on what I've seen in some stitching blogs, my stash is nowhere near the size of what some of you have (I'm jealous!) However, we've been acquiring more and more charts and threads and that, combined with my jewelry making supplies and my husband's stained glass supplies and tools will probably make it necessary for us to consider adding onto our insurance policies. And we'll end up moving them on our own when we move to a new house because I don't want anyone else packing and moving them.

In fact, I was talking about this at the LNS the last time I was in and the shop owner said she has some stuff covered, but she has some huge, complicated pieces that she can't put a value on. She could cover the cost of replacing the matierals, but never the time and effort that went into stitching the piece.

7/19/07: Which project (finished or in progress) are you most proud of? Explain why. (Submitted by Ish)

Of all the pieces I've completed, I'd probably have to pick Peas in a Pod by Sue Hillis because I stitched it in secret for my husband for Valentine's Day. It has special meaning for us and even though it's a very simple design, I am really proud of the way it came out. I did all the framing myself on it as well (okay, I bought the frame and mats online but I did put it together!)
Monday, November 26, 2007

Updated Stitching Picture and my floss pile

First, here's the latest on Nautical Dreams.

I got some stitching in over the holidays, but it wasn't the same as being home. I'm more comfortable in my own chair and with better lighting, but I made do because I really want to get this project done. And it inspired my MIL to ask me to teach her to stitch when she retires next year.

And this is the MASSIVE pile of floss we picked up on our drive on Wednesday, plus what I picked up today. I had debated whether or not to take a chance on going to the Wal-Mart a little further away today and I'm glad I did. There's probably about 400 skeins in this pile, just waiting to be sorted out.

Home FROM the Holidays

Whew! We're back home after spending a few days in our hometown with the in-laws. It was nice, but I'm very glad to be home. We drove up Wednesday, stopping at 5 Wal-Marts and a Jo-Ann's on the way in search of floss. Two of the Wal-Marts were completely sold out of DMC, one carried only Anchor (which I thought was very odd) and we raided a picked over selection at the last two stores. We ended up with about 200 skeins of floss for $20 (and some dirty looks from the cashiers until I told them all the skeins would scan the same since they were clearanced out and we had already counted the floss for them.) Now I just have to sort them out and log them into the floss inventory. We also made a stop at JoAnn's for colors we needed but couldn't find at Wal-Mart. There's another Wal-Mart not far from me that I may go hit up today to see if they have anything left.

Thursday we had a nice dinner with my ILs and the extended family, minus one grandmother who wasn't feeling up to coming. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching football and moaning and groaning that we ate too much. But everything was SO good, it was hard to resist. My poor FIL was downstairs later that night in search of Mylanta for his aching stomach! Friday, my DH helped his dad put up the Christmas lights outside and I went out shopping with my MIL. I'm not crazy though - we slept in and waited until late morning before we went out. We didn't venture anywhere near the malls or the big box stores - just a few local stores and the grocery store. Friday night, DH and I went out with some old friends, and Saturday, my BIL and his wife came by with their kids on the way home from my SIL's family's house (where they spend Thanksgiving). They left the kids with the grandparents, so we got to hang out with my niece and nephew for a while before we came home yesterday.

All in all, a very busy holiday, but I still managed to get some stitching done. I took 2 projects with me but only managed to work on Nautical Dreams. I finished the backstitching on the middle section and started working on the top section. I haven't taken any photos yet, so I'll have to post one later. It's really moving along and I'm glad I've been doing the backstitching as I've worked on it instead of waiting until the end. Breaking up the backstitching into little sections seems to help - it's daunting to face all that backstitching at the end.

So that's about it for me. Now I just have to catch up on almost 200 blog posts in my Google reader and download holiday photos off the camera. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!
Monday, November 19, 2007

Spread the Word...

I just picked this up on my pre-bedtime Google Blog Reader reading, and I love a good sale, so here you go:

From Tales of a Shooting Star

It’s official, I’m going to be running a 25% off of your entire order sale all day this Friday, November 23rd at One Star’s Light Needlework Supplies.

The coupon code will be posted on the shop site at 12:00 AM on Friday and good through 11:59 PM.

I would greatly appreciate if you would all help me spread the word. Blogs, groups, whatever. Anywhere you’re willing to write about the sale.

Bag Sale Day

Saturday was Bag Sale day at my LNS, the Strawberry Sampler. For $12, you purchase a canvas bag and a punch card which is good for a year from the date of purchase. On the 3rd Saturday of the month, everything you can fit in the bag is 20% off. They punch your card for the appropriate month and send you on your way. I bought mine in January when I purchased the Long Dog Paradigm Lost and the fabric to go with it, and it saved me way more than it cost. Definitely well worth the $12 since I used it several more times this year.

This time, I went in to pick up Acorns and Threads. It seemed like every time I went in there, they had just sold the last one, so the held one for me. I also picked up CCN's Winter Welcome that I had been eying up, and a tiny little Sweet Nothing Marriage Sampler by JBW Designs. I like keeping a few small charts on hand that stitch up quick for a gift. I also have Serendipity Designs "Snips and Snails" and "Sugar and Spice" on hand for baby gifts.

I also picked up fabric that I needed for a few projects. The first is Blue Crab by Judy Greer Carmean that I purchased at Sea Needles this summer. I don't have any photos of it since I bought the chart based on the stitched model (there wasn't a photo in the package). But it's a typical Maryland Blue Crab on a white background. The chart came already kitted up with floss and 14 count Aida fabric, but I like the look of a higher count so much better, so I picked up a piece of 28 ct. Lambswool to stitch it on instead (it will look more like sand). I thought about switching out the threads to overdyed but changed my mind. Depending on how it stitches up, maybe I will restitch it over one and make a smaller version with the overdyed threads. We'll see.

I picked out a 28 ct. fabric in Pewter for The Design Connection's Pemaquid Point. Their model was stitched on 14 ct. white aida, but I thought the blue-grey color would look nicer. There will be a little problem at the bottom of the picture where the rocks fade into the fabric, but we can just mat over that section when we frame it. And I got a 28 ct. in Forget Me Not (a pale blue) for Durham Cathedral by Heirlooms Needlecraft, a chart my husband brought back from England when he worked there last year. Once again, the chart was kitted up with white Aida fabric and Anchor threads, but I wanted to use a higher count and different color.

$50 and a LOT of self control later, we left the shop. There were at least half a dozen other new projects I would have loved to pick up, but I resisted. We'll be moving soon and I already have a pile of things to work on. (And I was under heavy supervision LOL). I'm happy with what I picked up and I left myself some things to look forward to, including this gorgeous Celtic Banner by Butternut Road. That's going right on my wishlist!

Finally, I made more progress on my Nautical Dreams, mostly with outlining and filling in the large blocks of color on the stripes. I have one more section on top to finish, plus the rope outline, then the personalization. I'm getting there!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Feast #169

From Friday's Feast: A Buffet For Your Brain

Appetizer: What was your first “real” job?
I worked in a pizza place answering phones and making pizzas. It's where I met my husband

Soup: Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?
Probably a craft store or a needlework shop. Being surrounded by all different kinds of projects and supplies usually makes me feel more creative.

Salad: Complete this sentence: I am embarrassed when…
I say something stupid or I trip / stumble.

Main Course: What values did your parents instill in you?
Respect for elders

Dessert: Name 3 fads from your teenage years.
BIG BIG hair, shoulder pads and layered socks
Thursday, November 15, 2007

SBQ: Online Stitching Supply Sources

This SBQ was suggested by Jennifer:

What are your favorite online stitching supply sources?

Usually when I am looking for a new design, I am looking for a specific reason / person and I have a theme in mind, so I start by googling keywords and "cross stitch" to see what comes up. I do both a web search and an image search. That leads me to a huge variety of sources - some freebies, some shops, etc. It's also how I discovered the cross stitching blogs. Sometimes I find something, sometimes I don't. If I find a shop that has something similar to what I'm looking for, I explore the shop further.

I did pick up a few favorite shops doing this, and now I tend to go to them first and see what they offer:

I've ordered from Everything Crossstitch as well. They used to offer a 2o% discount on your first order if you signed up for the newsletter, but I don't know if they still do that. They have a great selection and good prices, but I hesitate to recommend them because of a problem with my first order. It was taking FOREVER to arrive and I finally contacted them to find out where it was. I explained that one of the charts I ordered was for a housewarming gift and I really needed it to get started. The CSR checked the records and told me that there had been a shipping problem - my order was packaged with another and sent to the wrong address, so they were waiting for the other customer to return my order so they could send it on to me. I told her this was unacceptable to me and asked if they could please repick my order and send it out ASAP. She said they would, and it arrived a week later.

I know they fixed the problem, but I would have been more inclined to recommend them had they a) contacted me as soon as they found out about the mistake and/or b) repacked and shipped my order to me without waiting for the other customer to return it. Picky, I know, but good customer service is important to me. And unless I'm looking for something only they have in stock, I will tend to order elsewhere instead of going back. I haven't had the occasion to order from them again.

I also go to eBay quite often, especially when I am looking for something that's OOP. I've purchased a few things from Judy. She has a great selection and excellent customer service.

Mostly though, I will try to purchase at actual shops, even if their prices are a little higher. I know I am paying for their expertise whenever I have a question and for being able to see stitched models in person before I buy, so the extra money I spend is, IMO, for a good reason to help keep them in business.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

If I only had a brain...

My husband is far more observant that I am. I left the Paradigm / CDC Stitchalong blog open in another window when I called him in to look at something. When he was done looking at what I was showing him, he closed the window and saw the blog, and mentioned that the Paradigm pattern looked very familiar. I said, "Yes, I really like it. I'll put it on my wish list." He said, "I'm pretty sure we already have it." So I went to my stash box to take a look and there it was. Oops! I purchased it last January after seeing a stitched model on the wall of my LNS and falling in love. I even bought the fabric and floss (antique white fabric, dark navy blue floss) to stitch it in, and never started. We were planning to do it as a joint project, but we've been back and forth about moving, so we never wanted to get it started. We're getting very close to making a move now, so once we've done that and settled in, I think it's going to be our new project.

Speaking of new projects, I found a few goodies in my stash box, including one I bought this summer while we were on vacation. There's a nice little needlework shop in Bethany Beach called Sea Needles, just crammed to the ceiling with thousands of charts, kits, fibers, etc. I picked up a piece called Blue Crab by Judy Greer Carmean, which I think may be exclusive to that shop since I can't find a picture of it anywhere. It came kitted up with Aida cloth and what appears to be DMC fibers, but I am thinking I might switch out both and do a higher count cloth and maybe try out some silks or overdyed fibers instead. And since it's Bag Sale day (20% off everything you can fit in a bag) at my LNS this Saturday, I might have to convince my husband to go up with me. (Mostly because I should be supervised in any kind of needlework store...) By the way, my LNS is The Strawberry Sampler.

There's another place I make a point of visiting whenever we go down the shore, Salty Yarns on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, MD.

I like to check out local needlework stores wherever we go since I've found some really nice patterns that were exclusive to the shop and featured local themes. Makes a wonderful souvenier. I had a list of about 5 or 6 needlework shops in Massachusetts when we took our fall vacation this year, and we visited In Stitches in Alexandria, VA, when we were there in March. We do travel quite a bit along the East Coast, so if anyone has recommendations for good needlework shops, please let me know.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A finish and more progress

I finished one of the ornaments I had been working on - the Sea Girt Lighthouse. The fabric you see in the background is the fabric I used to make the backing on the ornament. And there's not as much of a gap in the cording as it looks. This is from Treetrunk Designs Guardians of our Waterways piece. I also need to finish up the Boston Harbor one I made for a gift. I'll be doing that with a red and black fabric on the back and in an oval shape.

I have a few other ornaments to finish up. Most of them are stockings my husband stitched a while back. He laced them on the cardboard, but for some reason we never got around to completely finishing them. I'm going to glue a ribbon for hanging in each one, and then cover the back with coordinating felt. He did these when we first started stitching, so while the stitching is beautiful, we really didn't leave enough room to finish them, so they come right up to the edge of the cardboard underneath. Oh well - they'll be family heirlooms someday!

I also made some progress on Nautical Dreams - the whole bottom part is finished except for some stitching in white on the sky. I did the outlining, but I'll come back when I'm done to add the personalization info. I think the stitching will support the outlining without stretching it out, but I don't want to stretch the personalization info since it's going to be done in one thread in the blank areas.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My first award!

I received my first blogging "award" this morning from Terri, which I thought was really sweet! Thanks, Terri!

I'm pretty new to the blogging community, so I don't really know who has and hasn't gotten one of these. I'm going to pick a few blogs that I like to read that inspired me to start doing my own.

  1. My friend, Michelle, aka Fickleknitter, who started all of this.
  2. Another friend, Ashley
  3. Jenn, one of the first cross stitching blogs I started reading
  4. Meari, who sent me one of my first welcomes to the blogging community
  5. Von, another early welcomer
  6. Anita, who helped me get better adjusted to blogging
  7. Lauren, for providing some excellent links to tutorials
  8. Susimac, for doing detailed, photographic tutorials
  9. Abi, for providing much inspiration in her beautiful pieces
  10. Carol, also for inspiration
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007

An apology, some progress and an SBQ: Recycling

I am such a dumb ass. I was wondering why nobody was leaving me comments and then I figured out I had them turned off. Hopefully that's all fixed now! (Thanks for letting me know, Anita!)

The good news is I did make some progress on my baby gift. The bottom panel is almost complete - I have to stitch the rest of the sky in white and do the outlining. I've also started doing the rope border.

Today’s SBQ is:

When you have to frog out stitches, do you reuse that thread or do you start over with a new strand?

I am OBSESSIVE about checking and double checking and triple checking my work against my chart. Obsessive. Mostly because a mistake will bother me to the point where I will have to rip it all out and redo it, even if it is a tiny little mistake. I'd rather spend the extra time checking on something instead of tearing it out and restitching it. Usually I'm pretty good though - I'm most obsessive about the first part of stitching, and then I work from that, so everything else usually lines up.

When I do have to frog something out, I reverse stitch back to the mistake and go on from there with the same thread if I catch it soon enough. But if the mistake is large or deep into the piece, I keep a seam ripper and tweezers with my stitching stuff and tear it all out, then stitch it over again with a new thread.

SBQ: Stitching Mastery

This SBQ was suggested by Ternezia and is:

What for you means to achieve mastery as a stitcher?

I never really thought about "achieving mastery". I am a self taught stitcher, though I did embroidery when I was a child - mostly stitching over iron on patterns (Aunt Martha's and such) and a little bit of stamped cross stitch. I originally bought one of those cheap little $1 ornament kits with the plastic frame at the craft store just to try it out, but ended up doing a larger project instead and it went on from there.

I am comfortable modifying patterns, combining patterns, changing colors, etc. I've done some specialty stitches and I don't have a hard time figuring them out from written, illustrated instructions. I can also do a lot of my own mounting, framing and finishing.

I guess what I would consider mastery for myself is completing a hardanger piece.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

SBQ: Gift Giving

This SBQ was suggested by Jennifer and is:

What proportion of your stitching is for your own personal use versus gifts?

The very first piece I did was a birth announcement for our niece, one called "God's Babies Birth Record" by Dimensions. My husband and I picked it up both as a new hobby and something to make for our first niece. We even modified our very first piece, changing the blue threads for the name to a pink color. It's one of the few pieces I don't have a scan or photo of - I keep meaning to ask my SIL to take a picture of it for us.

Since then, I would say about 90% of my stitching is for other people. I have only kept a few pieces, including the Vickery collection one mentioned below, and The Sorceress, another by Dimensions. (I modified her skin tone to a lighter color and made her hair red, like mine. This is a sample picture - mine is not framed yet.) My husband stitched her companion, The Sorcerer. One other piece we have kept (and actually framed) is Count the Stars (Dimensions). We modified this one by replacing the current text with our names in the top bar and our wedding date on the bottom. Most of the pieces I stitch are for specific occasions - I've ton tons of weddings, housewarmings and new babies. I like to pick pieces that are meaningful to the recipient and reflect their tastes. Most of the wedding pieces I've done include something from the wedding - a reading, a theme, colors, etc. I try to pick housewarming pieces that fit the style of the home or a birth record that suits their nursery theme. Sometimes the gift is a little delayed because it takes a while to find the right pattern.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

SBQ: Working on the Railroad

I am going back in the SBQ archives and answering the older questions to catch up.

Do you railroad?

I never used to until I was looking for information on a different topic and came across a discussion on railroading your stitches. It seemed like a good idea, so I tried it, and the result was quite nice. However, I should probably strive to be more consistent and do it all the time as opposed to "when I remember it". This is the technique I like to use.

I've also found that separating the threads one at a time from the skein, then combining the number of threads I am using back together also makes for nicer stitches, but I don't do that as often as I should either.
Monday, November 5, 2007

Weekend Stitching

We spent the better part of the weekend doing stuff around the house (and watching FOOTBALL!), but we did manage to get to our LNS to drop of a piece for framing. It was the Dimensions Gold "Rocky Point" cross stitch kit.

Believe it or not, my husband stitched this piece over the course of about a year, and it was only his second or third piece ever. Luckily, he likes a challenge! It's 11x17 and it's ALL stitching. There are no blank spots of canvas. And there's a ton of outlining, especially on the rocks. Normally, we can frame things ourselves, but this is something we wanted to have professionally done, so we took it to our LNS, and my mother-in-law will foot the bill as our Christmas gift. The original frame we selected would have come out to over $100 for the frame alone, so we went with our second choice - equally beautiful and far less expensive. I'll post pictures when we pick it up.

And in keeping with the lighthouse theme, I stitched up this quick little piece I'll be turning into an ornament as part of the baby gift I am currently working on. I like to give ornaments to newborns to start off their collections. We collect ornaments whenever we travel and my husband and I also have ornaments dating back to our first years. It's always a wonderful experience to decorate our tree every year. Each ornament brings back memories of places we have been and people we have known and I just love looking at our tree when it's all done.

Finally, I made a little more progress on the baby gift.

The lighthouse is really taking shape and most of the rest of that bottom panel is going to be a lot of blocks of color. The sky is predominantly white stitching and the rest of the water will be the same color blue. I'm hoping to knock out the bottom panel tonight or tomorrow, and maybe even finish the outlining there. I'm making it my goal to have this piece finished and mailed out before the baby's one month old, since I've been a slacker in the past with other baby gifts.

You can see how the green on the right bottom corner is really darkening up when I go back and put the second stitch in.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A little more progress

I made some additional progress on my Nautical Dreams piece. I'm working on the bottom section now. You can start to see the lighthouse in the bottom section - it kind of reminds me of the Annisquam Light on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. It's one of the reasons I chose this piece - the new baby's mom went to school in Massachusetts and misses the East Coast so much, she chose the nautical theme for the nursery. I thought it would be nice to have a reminder of one of her favorite places in her baby's room.

Speaking of lighthouses, here's a peek at my unfinished lighthouse ornament for our tree this year. It's of the Sea Girt Lighthouse in New Jersey. I originally picked it because I didn't think I'd be able to find an ornament of the lighthouse (we try to find ones of the lighthouses we've been to), but when we were there a few weeks ago, lo and behold they had some for sale. So I bought one, but I'll still finish this one for the tree as well.

Also a few minutes from being completely finished is this bookmark. I did the bookmark following this tutorial, and I have to say - NEVER AGAIN! It certainly made a good looking bookmark, but it was kind of a pain to make sure everything was lined up properly before I stitched it closed (inside out). Turning it right side out was more difficult than I anticipated, and the bookmark is thicker than I'd like it. I'm also not sure I want to put all that work into something and end up ruining it or getting it dirty. I'm still thinking of a better way to do bookmarks, as I'd like to do one for my sister-in law eventually.
I did a nun stitch on the end and fringed the remaining threads. Since I didn't want a contrast on the edges, I used white thread to match the aida cloth.

SBQ: Designing

As part of my stitching blog journey, I started looking for other blogs to read and be inspired by. One of the things I noticed was that many of them had posts devoted to SBQs and I wondered what that was until I found the Yahoo! Group SBQ, which stands for Stitching Blogger's Questions, a meme of questions specifically for cross-stitching bloggers.

Today's SBQ (Stitching Bloggers Question) was suggested by Ternezia(

If you were a cross stitch designer, what would your design style be?

This is a pretty good question - it definitely made me think. Probably I'd design pieces that are enjoyable for me to stitch, which means not a whole lot of outlining (my least favorite part of stitching). It's odd, because while I don't really like country or primitive decor, I like more simplistic, sampler like patterns for stitching. I really like doing samplers because of the variety - you don't get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

I tend to choose patterns by The Design Connection. Their patterns aren't complicated, but you get beautiful results. They have a classic feel to them that would be at home in most homes. I would like to design pieces that have a wide range of appeal, though I would mostly focus on natural or nautical themes (because that's what interests me).

I also like patterns that can be adapted into smaller pieces - pulling out an elements for something like an ornament or coaster. Another important concept for me is personalization. Most of the pieces I make are intended as gifts for specific occasions - weddings, births, new homes. I like the ability to personalize a piece for the recipient and that's something I'd be conscious of designing into a piece I'd create.
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Two finishes I am really proud of

I finally got around to taking pictures of two pieces I finished earlier this year. I try to photograph and/or scan everything that I do, especially pieces I make as gifts. The first piece is something I stitched for my husband for Valentine's Day. I worked on it in secret when he wasn't home so it was a surprise for him.
Well, sort of. I ordered the frame and mats from

When I went to put it together though, it seemed that the top beige mat was slightly off. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it, or if I was doing something wrong, so I ended up showing the piece to my husband before it was completely finished (he was still surprised). It turned out that they cut the top mat to the same dimensions as another mat I had ordered at the same time for another piece. The sizes were similar, but just different enough to really mess me up. I called and explained the problem and their customer service person was VERY helpful and apologetic. She checked my order, said it was completely their fault and they sent a new mat out at no charge the next day. She even told me to hang onto the old mat in case I could use it for something else. The new mat arrived shortly thereafter and we put the piece together.

I've ordered from several times and would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone, especially if you're not framing a complicated piece. It's definitely a lot cheaper than having the piece framed at a shop or craft store and the quality of their materials is excellent. (We'll stick to having things framed at our LNS for really complicated pieces). It's a little difficult when you can't see things in front of you, but I've chosen well so far. Also, I HIGHLY recommend you ask them to send you a set of sample mat pieces. There used to be a link on their site to order a set for free, but I can't seem to find it. I'm sure, however, if you call and ask them to send you a set, they will. The mat colors look very different in person than they do on a monitor, and it's really best to have the sample in front of you.
One of the things I like best about their website is that you can upload a scan or a photo of your piece and play around with different combinations of mats and frames to see how it would look. You can even change the wall color! If you want to try framing some of your own pieces, they're definitely worth looking into.

This is one of the other pieces I photographed yesterday, Celtic Seasons by Vickery Collection. I started on this piece last year when my husband was in the UK for six weeks for work and finished most of the color stitching. I set it aside when he came back, but picked it up again earlier this year.

I finished the last of the color stitching and started in on the outlining. I love the look of outlining in a piece, but I really hate doing it. Mostly because I am obsessive and for most backstitching I force myself to do it square by square (over 2 if that's how I did the cross stitching.) In most cases, it looks neater and stays tighter - you don't have long stretches of thread that can sag or droop in a finished piece.

It took weeks to finish the outlining in this piece, but I think it was well worth it. It's still unframed, but it's one of the few pieces I've completed for myself.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cleaning out my Crafting Bookmarks

I started cleaning out my crafting bookmarks and trying to get the more organized. As I was going through them, I came across a few goodies to share:

Freebie Cross Stitch Sites:

Other Good Cross Stitch Sites:

And a helpful hint of the day in dealing with UFOs. Everyone from knitters to stitchers to crocheters can use this method of dealing with all those projects you can never seem to finish. Chris Miller describes a good Rotation Method for keeping things moving. In fact, there are a number of excellent articles on the Shakespeare's Peddler site.

Once you're done with all the stitching, check out these sites for finishing techniques.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Current Work in Progress

My friend Christine and her husband just had their first child, Alexa. Since her nursery is a nautical theme, I picked this piece from the Design Connection. (I noticed I have quite a few Design Connection pieces in my stash.)

I'm personalizing the piece with some modifications. The first line of text in the piece will be changed to the baby's first and middle names, and the second line of text will be her birthdate. In the space below the third section, I'm able to fit in her weight, length and time of birth.

It's a LOT of stitching, but there are large sections of simple cross stitching in one color, so that makes it easier. I've started by doing half crosses in those large sections, and then I'll come back later and fill in the other half of the stitch. I think it will be really cute when it's done.