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.