Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jungle Baby Birth Record

Jungle Baby by Imaginating
Stitched over 2 on 32 ct. Antique White
with recommended DMC Floss
(name intentionally blurred for privacy)

Believe it or not, I started this piece just before the baby was born, and was working on it while we were down the shore on vacation and his mom was in labor with him. Andrew, or Drew as he is better known, took his own sweet time getting here. It's a good thing he's such a cutie - his mom was in labor for almost two days!

The piece wasn't finished when I got to meet Drew for the first time, but he did get it the day before his six month birthday. (Go me! Usually it takes me a little longer.) We had a lunch date with Drew and his mom the other day, and I handed over the completed piece, as well as his ornament, coming in the next post. Drew seemed to like it, and his mom loved it. She couldn't wait to get it home and put it in his nursery.

My son is 8 months older than Drew, and the difference those eight months make is incredible! I remember holding Drew for the first time a few months ago, looking over at Nick and thinking, "There's no way my Nick was this tiny!" And in a few months, Drew's mom will look at another baby and think the same exact thing. As all you moms know, these little ones grow CRAZY FAST. Drew's a little older now than the last time I saw him, and he's such a cutie. He's got the most adorable chubby little cheeks and big, bright, cheery eyes. So cute!

I'm so pleased with how this came out. I think it's going to look great in Drew's jungle themed nursery (jungle themes seem to be very popular these days). And yes, it is framed in a standard 8x10 frame from the craft store. I've been leaving the glass out for pieces that won't be hung in a high traffic area or somewhere they'll be exposed to things like grease. Since this is going in a baby's nursery, I don't think I'll need to worry about the piece getting too dirty.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fair and Square Exchange with Lenna

The Huddle by Ink Circles
Stitched by Lenna V

Last week, I received my squares from my exchange partner, Lenna V. Lenna also included a SUPER CUTE tuck pillow with her squares. Lenna's friend makes the pillows, and if you are interested, you can get in touch with her by emailing lrlockley@sbcglobal.net. There is also a phone number on the label that I will be happy to email you.

Lenna also included her signature square.

I love these reindeer, and the pillow will be right at home displayed on our shelves in the living room, next to our Christmas tree. Thank you, Lenna, for a wonderful exchange.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't post a photo of the squares I sent Lenna. I chose a design from the JCS 2008 ornament issue.

Let it Snow by Country Cottage Needleworks
JCS 2008 Ornament Issue
Stitched over 2 on 32 ct. Picture It Plus fabric in Gothic
with my own selection of threads

Once again, the Picture It Plus fabric was an absolute joy to stitch on, though the dark color did make it slightly more difficult. However, the fabric is just lovely and the color is gorgeous. If you have the opportunity to pick up some Picture It Plus fabric, I definitely recommend it.
Monday, December 20, 2010

Our 2010 Dallas Cowboys Ornament

Christmas Hearts by Just Nan
Stitched over 2 on 32 ct. Antique White
with DMC and overdyed threads
embellished with beads

Every year, my husband and I add another Dallas Cowboys ornament to our Christmas tree. (You can see Emmitt Smith's elbow in the photo above) We have an entire section dedicated to these ornaments - we call it Cowboy Land. They're not all specifically Cowboys ornaments - we have a few assorted stars, mostly blue and silver, and a blue and silver angel hanging along with them.

I stitched this piece a while back in more traditional Christmas colors of red, gold and green, but had this color combination in mind for our own tree. Since the Cowboys use two different color combinations (one dark blue and white for the jerseys, silver for the pants, and the other white and light blue for the jerseys, and a lighter blue for the pants), I wanted to include both color combinations.

I used WDW Peacoat and Pewter for the dark blue and the grey around the border and a silvery grey DMC Rayon / Satin S415 thread for the hearts. The lighter blues are DMC 824, 826 and 827, and the other shade of grey is DMC 415 with a strand of opalescent blending filament. For the beads, I just used a silvery lined seed bead from the craft store and sewed them on with matching thread. It doesn't show up well in the photo, but the beads do add a pretty sparkle, especially in the light from the tree.

I finished the ornament with a painted wooden embroidery hoop as I described in the post about the first Christmas Hearts ornament. I picked up some dark blue ribbon at the craft store and mixed up a little bit of acrylic paint that I had to match. Once again, I am a big advocate of sanding the hoop before painting to make a much nicer finished product. Some fine grit sandpaper and a damp paper towel can make a huge difference in the hoop's appearance, and it's well worth the extra effort. To finish it up, I used two light coats of matte varnish, available alongside the acrylic paints at the craft store.

As a side note, we did purchase the Tony Romo Hallmark ornament when it was released, but it will not be allowed to join the ranks of the two Troy Aikmans (yes, we have two) and the one Emmitt Smith already hanging on the tree until Tony can bring home a Super Bowl. Sadly for us, it won't be this year, despite our high hopes at the beginning of the season.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who has two thumbs and won't be stitching any more Stoney Creek?

This girl!

Mind you, a finished Stoney Creek is a thing of beauty (and a joy forever), but I will just enjoy looking at them from now on. In fact, I've deleted all the Stoney Creek charts from my wish list. What prompted this oh so bold move? This bad boy... The Selkirk Lighthouse in NY.


This was my contribution to Kathy's Lighthouse Round Robin, which you can read more about on her blog. This piece was years in the making and Kathy is relieved to have it home, and rightfully so.

The pictures are impressive, but I'll tell you, it's nothing like seeing it in person. It will be a genuine treasure when it's completed and framed. Of course, if a piece of stitching could talk, I'm sure this one would have some not so nice things to repeat from the stitchers who worked on it. LOL According to Kathy, I wasn't the only one that may or may not have repeatedly cursed, grumbled, mumbled and cursed a little more while stitching it. The color changes are a bear, but the result is undeniably worth it.

Kathy did warn me that it was going to be a major undertaking, and I thought... "Really, how hard could it be?" Kathy, you were right. Also, I bow to your mighty power to command the respect and friendship of multiple stitchers - truly you are well loved by your fellow stitchers. I can't wait to see it finished and framed!

I was the last stitcher (besides Kathy herself) to complete a lighthouse, and lo and behold, in the remaining charts, was the Selkirk Lighthouse, a lighthouse I have visited myself. To be honest, it's hard to find a chart of a lighthouse in the US I *haven't* been to, though. As many of you know, DH and I are deeply interested in lighthouses and yes, have planned vacations around visiting them. One of these vacations was a spur of the moment road trip to the Great Lakes over a 4th of July weekend a few years ago. We started in upstate NY and worked our way around Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to just over the border in Ohio. Selkirk happened to be one of the very first lighthouses we stopped at.


One of the most unique things about this lighthouse is the "birdcage" lantern. It's one of four remaining birdcage lanterns in the US and dates back to the early 19th century.

When we were at the lighthouse in 2007, it was for sale (along with the adjacent marina). Apparently it is now once again open to the public and available for rent by the Salmon River Marina.
Monday, October 25, 2010

Fair and Square Exchange with a New Member

I had the pleasure of being paired up with new F&S Member, Diane M. Diane doesn't have a blog yet, but hopefully she'll start one soon (hint! hint!)

Pattern Available at The Floss Box

Just a word of warning if you head over to the Floss Box site - there's a TON of awesome patterns Emily has created. You could end up browsing for hours and wind up with a whole bunch on your wish list. The nice thing is that Emily has a wonderful freebie collection she's offered up (yes, I've saved most of them). And the patterns available for sale will cost you as little as $.80 for a digital download. $.80!!!! Unbelievable!

So I took these squares into my dining room, which has the best light most of the day. The walls are painted a dark blue (yes, I know they look kind of black in this photo), and even just walking into the room with the squares, I could see how perfectly they go with the color. Since we have nothing hanging on the walls in there yet, and I have no idea even what I want to do in there (other than the paint color), I think I am going to have to figure out a way to display them in that room. The colors Diane selected just POP with the wall color. There's also a good chance they can end up in the adjoining living room, also painted blue.

In case you were wondering, the walls are painted with Behr paint in a Benjamin Moore Color called Evening Dove. Home Depot has the color codes for BM colors in their computers.

As to my contribution to the exchange, I was in a fall stitching mood and selected Pumpkins by Little House Needleworks. Luckily, Diane's likes included LHN AND Autumn themes. She also mentioned in her profile that she liked to make decorative pillows to hang on door knobs, so I think this will fit the bill perfectly.


Round #21 to Diane M (no blog)
Little House Needleworks / Crescent Colors Fruit Series - Pumpkins
Stitched with included threads on 32 ct. Antique White
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who do you stitch for?

I've stitched and framed a number of pieces for other people, and I'm always happy to see them hanging on their walls. I'm very careful about who stitch for and what I stitch for them, as so many hours go into each piece, and the cost of the materials adds up. I want to make sure that the gift fits the recipient, that I pick something meaningful to them, and that it ends up being something they WANT hanging in their home. As you all well know, it ain't easy.

So you'd think I'd have more pieces of my own hanging on our walls. Surprisingly, we don't. The Rocky Point lighthouse my husband stitched and had framed is still floating around, waiting for the perfect spot to hang it. The wedding record my husband and I both stitched? In a drawer, along with a Peas in a Pod piece I stitched and framed for his Valentine's gift one year, also waiting for a home.

Part of the problem is renting for so many years. We never hung a lot of stuff up on the walls, and even though we've been in our house for over two years, we've yet to hang up any of our stitching. Mind you, I have grand plans for several pieces, including some fruits and roosters in the kitchen (it's not as country as it sounds), more birds in the stairwell, some Celtic pieces in the front entry, and some other pieces upstairs. Some of it's stitched, some of it's just ideas in my head. With the exception of the pieces I mentioned aboved, none of it's really come to fruition. Yet. I'm getting there.

So, my point. I have a whole lot of questions.

  • Who do you stitch for? Do you stitch more for yourself, or for gifts?
  • Do you stitch with a finishing idea in mind, and do you favor one technique more than any other? (For instance, do you mostly stitch ornaments, or are you more of a framed piece person?)
  • Do you display your finished pieces in your environment (home, office, etc.)?
  • Do you automatically think "stitch" when it comes to a gift, or are you particular about who you will stitch for?
  • How do you choose what to stitch for someone else?
  • Have you ever had a gift rejected, or received in a way that hurt your feelings or surprised you?
  • Is there someone you enjoy stitching for, or someone you will never stitch for again?
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's a jungle out there, baby!

So apparently jungle themes are pretty popular for nurseries these days. Given the outrageous price of bedding and accessories, I can see the attraction in picking a gender neutral theme that would be good for more than one child.

I am currently working on my third jungle themed birth record, Jungle Babies. I started it in June while on vacation and the relative simplicity of the pattern brought back a lot of my stitching joy, which had taken a beating with a recent Stoney Creek Lighthouse. Don't get me wrong - the lighthouse is utterly amazing (I'll show you in another post), but it showed me that I am not a Stoney Creek type stitcher.

Back to the birth record. Here is is before I started the backstitching, which is in progress now.

Cute, isn't it? It's a gift for a friend's little boy. In fact, I happened to be sitting down the shore, stitching away, while she was hundreds of miles away in labor for a day and a half with the little guy. So far, I have 3 of the 4 animals backstitched, and I need to get moving so I can finish it up. I try to backstitch at least 1-2 lengths of thread a day, but it's hard when there's a couple other projects I'm also working on, one of which involves a variegated thread that is really something to see. (I know. I am teasing you.)

And these are the other two jungle themed pieces I've stitched over the last few years.

This is from a Janlynn kit called On Safari, and was the first time I stitched with floss on plastic canvas. I love the way it came out, but again, the backstitching was tough. The piece was originally intended to be a collage-like photo frame, but I printed the birth info on vellum and framed it behind the stitched piece, with a photo of the recipient in the middle. If you are interested in this piece, I have it listed on my For Sale or Trade blog.


This was another jungle themed piece I stitched, Safari Birth Sampler by Mary Stickley for The Coleshill Collection. As you can see, the recipient of this one just turned 2, and it's still hanging in his room. It's simpler than the other jungle piece I stitched, and I really enjoyed stitching this one. I substituted the fabric (the chart came kitted with Aida fabric and probably Anchor thread, as I ordered it from England)

Once again, I had to play around with the chart to fit in everything I wanted to get on there. (You can see how it's originally charted here). Since it was a relatively quick stitch, easy to personalize and very cute for jungle themes, this one will be remaining in my stash for a while. But if you'd like to order your own, I'd recommend Sew and So from the UK if they still carry the piece.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Housewarming gift for a friend

I Do by Bent Creek
Stitched 2 over 2 on Cream Sienna Linen
with recommended threads

I just got word that the package arrived, so I can share this with you. This is something I stitched up for my friend and her husband, who just finished building their home in Ohio. They've moved around a bit during their marriage, from PA to Montana, to New York to Ohio, but this is the first time they've moved AND built the house and the process was more than a little stressful. I wanted to send something pretty for them to hang in the new place, and this seemed to fit the bill.

It's the second time I've stitched this piece - I also did it as a wedding gift for another friend - and it won't be the last. It's a fairly quick stitch and frames up nicely. Last time I stitched it though, a regular 8x10 frame and a 5x7 mat worked fine. This time, however, the 5x7 mat didn't work quite as well, perhaps because of a difference in the fabrics I used. They were both 32 ct, though, so who knows? Anyway, the mat didn't look quite as nice, so I came up with what I thought was an INGENIOUS solution - ordering a custom cut mat to fit in an 8x10 frame that I had already purchased.

I had to do a little fuzzy math and work out the measurements so the mat would still fit in the 8x10 frame. I obsess about this part, measuring and remeasuring, making my husband measure it, then going back and remeasuring a day or two later. Don't ask. I know it's noticeable in the picture but you can't really tell in person that the mat has slightly different dimensions on the sides and top. If you weren't looking for it, you'd never know, and if you did happen to notice it, you'd have the good manners not to say anything about it. :-)

Next time I stitch it though, I am totally going to do this. (Scroll down to see the ornament Joan made for her daughter and new husband)
Friday, July 30, 2010

To Nick with love from Mommy and Daddy

I am very, very proud of this piece, as it's one of the few pieces I've stitched and framed AND hung on a wall in our own home. (More on that in another post). This is something my husband and I both worked on as a gift for our son. I stitched everything but the personalization before he was born, and my husband finished the piece by stitching in the name and the vital details.



Maine Fishing Village Sampler by Seguin Designs
Stitched 2 over 2 on Blue Dynasty Cashel fabric
with various threads
(name partially blurred for privacy)

We picked the piece from about a dozen options I found online. I never get hung up on searching for a specific birth record - I've changed a number of different charts to suit my needs. Of course, limiting yourself to just birth or wedding records can make the search less overwhelming, but you don't always find what you want, especially if you're not going for one of the more popular baby themes. I just look for something appealing that fits the theme, and figure out how to modify it from there, and if you look at the original sampler on the Seguin Designs site, you'll see I did quite a bit of modification.

In this case, my husband picked the Maine sampler because Maine is one of our most favorite places on earth and we hope to take Nick there some day soon. I also like that the piece was relatively simple, easy to modify and embodied some of my favorite "Maine" things including blueberries and lobster buoys. I even changed up the colors on the lobster buoys to add a little more color to the piece and more closely match photos of actual buoys I found online.

I stitched the piece while I was pregnant, and found the repetitive border to be rather soothing to stitch on those night when I was especially tired. When it was all finished, I ordered the frame from http://www.pictureframes.com/ and put my husband to work framing it up. Normally I would have picked a dark wood frame to coordinate with the furniture in the room, but everything else is framed in black, and I like how the black sets off the colors in the piece itself. By the way, if you're looking for framing materials, I HIGHLY recommend PictureFrames.com. They're a great site, their customer service is wonderful, and they have a very cool feature that allows you to upload a picture of what you're framing and play around with frames and mats so you can see what your piece will look like before you commit.

I have some issues with privacy which makes me feel a little uncomfortable sharing details of our private lives sometimes. However, I happen to be ridiculously pleased with how this room turned out, and wanted to share it. Especially since this room started out as what we called "The Princess Room" - pink walls, yellow ceilings, huge swirls, and gigantic flowers and butterflies painted onto the walls. Not really our taste at all, and definitely inappropriate for a boy.
As you can see, we went with a nautical theme, using Nautica William for the bedding, and hanging photographs of lighthouse and other beach / ocean related subjects on the walls. Well, except for the family pictures above the changing table. (Yes, I know it looks like it should be lower, but it's just out of the reach of a grabby little boy.)

One of the things I like best about the photographs on the walls is that most of them come from our own travels. There are photos from our honeymoon in the Outer Banks, from one of our trips to Maine, and also from Maryland and New Jersey.

Friends of ours gifted Nick with photos from their travels as well. Hanging above the chair are two photos from Massachusetts, taken and framed by my friend's very talented fiance, who has traveled all over the world taking photos.

Above the end table are photos of lighthouses and sailboats from another friend's journey to Scotland. (Yes, he did take those photos especially for me.) There is also a larger photo my husband took of a crab on one of our trips to Maine, specifically Bailey Island. You can't tell from the picture because we didn't think to use anything for scale, but the crab wasn't much bigger than a thumbnail.

I love this room. It's one of my favorite rooms in the house, and I love that it's a room that can grow with our son. I'm not a big fan of anything too cartoonish or over the top, so I am absolutely thrilled with how calm and serene this room is.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fair and Square Exchange with Linda B.

I've met so many wonderful stitchers through blogging and exchanging, and on my latest Fair and Square exchange, I've had the pleasure of meeting Linda. I wish I could introduce her to everyone, but Linda does not have a blog.... yet (hint! hint!)

Linda not only sent me these beautifully stitched squares, but when she saw that I had collected most of the rest of the fruit series, she asked if I had something special in mind with them. I told her that I had planned on stitching them over one, possibly as a bell pull for our kitchen, so in addition to the chart, she included the rest of the floss from the kit.

But Linda's generosity didn't stop there. A week or so after I received Linda's squares, Linda emailed me and told me she had picked up the last chart I needed, Cherries, at her LNS, and was sending it my way. The shop owner had removed the threads to sell separately and was trying to unload the chart. The threads - they're easy to come by, but these charts are getting harder and harder to find. Linda, I thank you from the bottom of my stitchy heart!
Now onto what I stitched for Linda. I had been admiring Sew Nautical from Carol at Istitchaholic for a while now, and when I read in Linda's member profile that she liked alphabets AND lighthouses, I knew this is what I would stitch for her.





I used a variety of overdyeds, mostly Crescent Colors, for the piece, and stitched it all over one on 32 ct. Antique White. (And by the way, how CUTE is that crab? I think that's my favorite part of the piece.) And I even gave the mermaid red hair, just like mine. Except hers didn't come out of a box.
This is another of my over one pieces. I love how they turn out and as long as I am stitching on evenweave, they're not that hard to do with good light and petite needles. But I figure I better get these in as long as I can still see them - I am sure there will come a day when it will be too much for me.
Linda and I have been emailing back and forth ever since, and I've really enjoyed this exchange with her. There are some really wonderful people participating in the F&S exchange, and I am so glad to be a part of it. If you'd like to get in on the action, Jill has been doing some housecleaning, and is opening up the exchange to new members. Head on over to the F&S Blog to make your application.
Monday, July 26, 2010

Fair and Square Exchange with April K

Why yes, it HAS taken me almost 5 months to post these pictures - from an exchange back in FEBRUARY. I'm not even going to make an excuse about it took me so long or why my blog posting in general is sporadic at best. Otherwise, it would be much like my last several posts.

Moving on....

These are the very pretty squares I received from April:



JBW Designs French Country Amour
Once again, I forsee something destined for a no sew cube, perhaps with a pretty red velvet ribbon and some silver / crystal embellishments.

As to my contribution to the exchange, when I read that April is a huge fan of Halloween, I knew I had the perfect design in mind. I have already stitched the butterflies from the Tantes Zolder website, and this was the motivation I needed to stitch the bats. Mind you, I am not a fan of Halloween, so I'd never stitch them for myself, but after seeing them stitched up at my LNS (Just Cross Stitch in Lederach), I knew I wanted to stitch them. (Speaking of Just Cross Stitch, I wonder if I can pester Carolyn to post a photo on her blog of her VERY cool version of this pattern, stitched on purple fabric and turned into a pillow with an awesomely fluffly black fringe trim....)

Bat Freebie from Tantes Zolder
Stitched 1 over 1 on 32 ct. Antique White with GAST Raven 
NOTE: Above link updated March 2013 as original blog no longer online

You can't tell from the photos, but the Raven thread is a deep black color with hints of green in it. Perfect for these bats. And this is my attempt at being all fancy like and taking a closeup photo...
Thursday, June 10, 2010

Something that's been bugging me....

"Oh, I don't have time for that. I'm too busy."

I can't even tell you how many times I've heard that over the last few weeks and it's been grating on my nerves. I know most people probably don't mean anything by it other than they are really busy, but I also don't think they realize how condescending it sounds. As if their time is more valuable than anyone else's, or that the things they're engaged in are somehow more worthwhile than your pursuits.

Guess what? We're ALL busy in different ways. Sure, I am a stay at home mom, but I'm still busy taking care of my son, taking care of the house, and taking care of my husband. I am our social director, appointment scheduler, personal shopper, etc. I am also the one that nurtures our connections to the world outside our immediate family - I talk to my in-laws several times a week, and make sure that cards and emails get sent out to the extended family on a regular basis. My job is 24/7, and I am in no way complaining - I am just pointing out that I'm busy too and what I do has value.

But sometimes when I mention facebook or email or some other social activity that takes place on line, it's viewed as less important than other people's activities. I know not everyone is as connected as I am, and that's fine. But it's driving me nuts to hear people say, "Oh, I don't have time for email or Facebook or whatever." I don't expect them to sit in front of their computer all day long, but whenever someone says that, what I'm really hearing is, "Communication is not important."

Email is not that hard. Type a sentence or two, hit send and you're all done. And I'm not even asking you to send an email out of the blue - I'd do a freaking jig if you'd just RESPOND TO A QUESTION I HAVE ASKED YOU. I don't expect immediate answers, but if you can't check your email and respond every few days (barring any extenuating circumstances like vacations or whatever), then maybe you shouldn't give out your email address. And yes, I know I can pick up the phone and call if it's that important, but I don't see the big deal about people responding to emails either.

I just had a discussion with someone who cancelled their facebook account, and while I understand the reasons for doing so, part of me was a little annoyed when this person said, "Oh, I don't have time for that, and if people want to get in touch with me, they know how to find me." First, I think it's a little self centered that people have to track YOU down if they want to have a relationship with you. And second, when I mentioned that thanks to Facebook, I've found some common ground with people I hadn't previously been all that close to, and developed some really nice friendships, it seemed as if that was immediately dismissed as unimportant. I'm sorry this person didn't have the same positive experiences I've had, but then again, I don't think she was trying very hard either.

Now before anyone gets on me about privacy and such, believe me, I know. Facebook isn't for everyone, and yes, it can be a time consuming pursuit. Anything online can be a time consuming pursuit, and some people are just uncomfortable with it. I understand that, but I do think that the "I'm too busy" excuse is just that - an excuse - most of the time. I think people are so conditioned to be busy, busy, busy all the time and make sure people know how busy they are that they don't stop to realize they have more free time than they know. It's always go, go, go, and yes, some of that is driven by technology and the ability to be "connected" 24/7. Some people want to disconnect, I get that. But I also think that maybe everyone's lives would be a little better if we turned that technology to our advantage and stopped to respond to an email or a facebook post and demonstrated we are interested in something other than our own lives.

End of rant.
Saturday, May 15, 2010

Two more Bride's Tree Ornaments

Way back in 2008, I started on a project to stitch a set of Bride's Tree Ornaments for DH's cousin, who was getting married on August 1. While I did manage to get the first one stitched AND finished before the wedding, the rest of them kind of fell by the wayside. I did (do) have at least some of them stitched, just not finished into an ornament, but when I decided to buckle down and finish my son's first ornament into an actual ornament BEFORE I put away the Christmas decorations this year, I decided to finish up a few other ornaments I had hanging around.

Mind you, I am not a big fan of finishing things, unless I have an idea in mind. And even then, sometimes the tedious nature of finishing hampers my progress. But I am bound and determined to finish up AND send these ornaments to DH's cousin before their second anniversary in August. Wish me luck - I think I am going to need it!

This is the "bird in a nest" ornament, a freebie available on the Waxing Moons Website.


Spring Bluebird by Waxing Moon Designs
Stitched over 1 on 18 ct. fabric with DMC threads

I finished it with a pretty piece of floral fabric on the back and a bit of store bought satin cording.

This one I am going to have a VERY hard time parting with -- it's one of my favorites:


Christmas Hearts by Just Nan
Stitched on 32 ct. Bone fabric with overdyed and DMC threads, plus beads

This is one of those ornaments I knew exactly how to finish before I even started stitching it, and it was inspired from beginning to end, not to mention a lot of fun to stitch. So much so that I'm going to stitch it at least twice more - once more in this color variation, and a second time using pink and silver instead of red and gold.

It fit PERFECTLY into a tiny wooden embroidery hoop that I sanded and painted a pretty shade of green to match the thread. I can't stress enough how much a light sanding with a fine grit sandpaper can improve the look of craft store wooden objects. After sanding, I wiped the hoop with a damp paper towel to remove the dust, let it dry, then put on a coat of sealer (available in the paint section with the acrylic paints). A couple coats of paint to get the right color, and a top coat of varnish (also available with the acrylic paints), and the hoop was finished. You can't tell here, but I only sealed, painted and varnished the outer hoop - I left the inner hoop natural wood after sanding.

I tried to be as neat as possible with the stitching, but I still wanted it covered up. I took a plain piece of neutral cotton fabric and glued it to the rim of the inner hoop, across the open area. After it dried, I trimmed off the excess and put the stitching over the top of it. And yes, I used a little fabric glue to hold my stitching in place, then trimmed off the excess stitching fabric after that dried. The painted outer hoop covers the edges nicely, and no threads peek through.

As a final touch, I wrote the name and wedding date of the happy couple on the inside hoop.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Love is Little... and so is the amount of my blog posts

I know, I know. It's been AGES since I've posted anything and it may seem as if I have abandoned not only blogging but stitching as well. Surprisingly, I have been able to stitch, though not as much as I used to. After all, there is a teeny tiny little person that demands a whole lot of attention these days.

I am also working on what is probably the most time consuming stitching project I've ever taken on - a Stoney Creek lighthouse for Kathy. It's on the tedious side - which has convinced me to delete every single Stoney Creek pattern from my wish list. The finished result is gorgeous - wait till you see how Kathy's piece is turning out! - but I think this is a once in a lifetime experience for me.

On the more productive side, I did finish stitching and framing a gift for a friend. She got pregnant shortly after I did, so our pregnancies overlapped and we had great fun sharing stories, helpful hints and birthing stories. Her son was born in January, and I had been looking for a piece to stitch for his room. His parents didn't pick a particular theme, but focused instead on earthy shades of brown and green. Now, it may be my personal bias, but I do think this is going to look just perfect hanging in his room...

Love is Little by La D Da
Stitched over 2 on 35 ct. WDW Beige
with recommended GAST threads


I am utterly thrilled with how it came out. As soon as I saw the pattern on someone's blog, I thought it would make a wonderful piece for a baby or child's room, and filed it away. When my friend told me her color scheme for the room, and that they weren't leaning towards a theme, I knew this was the perfect piece for them. I did make my own little modifications here and there - adding in the name and birth date (GAST Dark Chocolate), and changing the little bird from the recommended gold to GAST Blueberry. You know, the Bluebird of Happiness? I did change the fabric from what was called for - I didn't like the more reddish tone with the GAST converstion, so I went with the Weeks. It was absolutely lovely to stitch on.

My husband did the framing for me - he has so much more patience for it than I do. I ordered a custom frame from http://www.pictureframes.com/ and picked up foam core that I cut to size (apparently I also need a lesson on how to cut that correctly. LOL). DH did all the stretching, pinning, adjusting, repinning, readjusting and cursing. But in the end, it was well worth it. I think the frame sets it off beautifully, and Picture Frames does really excellent work. And did I mention you can upload scans or photos of your pieces and play around with different frames and mats? I would, however, recommend ordering a set of free mat samples before ordering custom cut mats - sometimes the color on screen can differ greatly from the actual mat color.

But WAIT!! There's more!

Art Deco Frame by Julia Lucas Designs (JCS 2005 Ornament Issue)
Stitched on plastic canvas with DMC thread and pearle cotton


I also like to give a Christmas ornament as a gift for a new baby and this may well become my standard ornament gift. It whipped up in almost no time, and it's so easy to personalize. The photograph was taken by an amazingly talented photographer - Ashley Gigliotti. I designed the back of the ornament myself, adapting from the design. The original instructions called for pasting the completed frame on cardboard, but I wanted to make it more of a pocket so that both sides could be used for display.

I used Word to design the birth information, then printed it on linen paper. I sized the photo to fit in the frame and had that printed through Snapfish. Then I used a self sealing laminating pouch from Staples to ensure neither side would get damaged. It was a little fiddly to put it together, but well worth it, and a tiny bit of hot glue worked wonders for keeping things in place.

(FYI: The website is not on the actual photograph I used for the ornament - it's in this photo to protect Ashley's copyright)

This is one of several versions of the ornament I've stitched so far. These are the perfect thing to stitch in the car - I have no trouble finding the holes, and if I have one already stitched, I have no need to carry the pattern around with me - I just stitch from the finished one. You can fit three whole ornaments (front and back) on one sheet of canvas, and the personalization possibilities are endless. You'll be seeing several more of these as I complete them.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A gift for Baby Nick

Bless the Baby by Lizzie*Kate

A few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised (thrilled) to see a package in the mailbox all the way from Japan. Inside was the beautiful piece, stitched for my son by the lovely Yuko.

Once again, I am blown away by the generosity and kindness of my fellow stitchers. When I saw photos of this piece on Yuko's blog, I never imagined it would be coming our way. (You really must see the pictures Yuko took - so much better than mine!) It's a beautiful piece and now hangs proudly in my son's room. It was such a sweet gesture, and really touched me.

I must confess, I've been feeling a little out of sorts about some personal issues. It's nothing major, and may even be a little bit of the winter blues. But it seems like just when I need it most, something like this happens - a sweet gesture, a little gift, a phone call, a card, a note. Something that makes me feel loved and appreciated, something that lets me know another person thought about me, whether they're next door or half a world away. And when you've been let down by people who care more about their own image and agenda, it's amazing what a lift you get from something like this.
Monday, February 1, 2010

A long overdue acknowledgement

I am in the process of cleaning up my blog - deleting dead links, reorganizing, etc., and realized that I have never publically thanked Angela for a beautiful gift she sent me just before my son was born.

Gazette 94: Grille Gratuie 87
28ct Brittney linen in Iced Blue with DMC Threads

My jaw dropped when I opened the package - I never cease to be amazed, thrilled and deeply touched by the kindness and generosity of my fellow stitchers. What can seem like such a small thing - stitching up something because we love to stitch and want to share it - can really make a huge impact on someone's day.

Most stitchers will say, "Oh, it was no big deal. No trouble at all, really." But even if it is no trouble to you at all, you should know that your gift has brought a smile to someone and is quite meaningful. It's more than some fabric and threads - it's that someone thought enough of you to put their time, energy and materials into making something for you. And that, my friends, is no small thing.

So thank you, Angela, for your lovely gift, which is now very proudly displayed in my baby son's room.

Backing fabric

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Cross Stitch Designer...

Redware Pottery Inspired
Lila's Studio

Based on what I've seen of her catalog, I have a feeling that this designer is going to be quite popular with our blogging community. Her name is Lila Umstead and she is based out of Collegeville, PA. She's transitioning from the architectural field to Needlework design and has just released about a dozen of her patterns. You must see them- they're gorgeous.!

If you're an individual stitcher, you can buy the designs directly from her, or send the owner of your LNS to her site for a merchant purchase order. You can also acquire these lovelies at my LNS, Just Cross Stitch in Lederach.

Destiny by Lila Umstead
Thursday, January 21, 2010

My last finish of 2009

Nick's First Christmas Ornament
Côté Mer by Couleur d'Etoile
Stitched 1 over 1 on 32 ct. evenweave with WDW Kentucky Bluegrass

I knew when Gaby sent me this chart (as a thank you for sending postcards to help out with her son's school project) that it was destined for something special - I just didn't know what. And then I got pregnant with my son and I knew this would be a PERFECT ornament for his first ornament (I plan on stitching one for him every year). We did Nick's nursery in a sailboat and lighthouse theme, and one of his favorite toys is a Glo-worm type seahorse. See? Perfect.

Just before Christmas, I pulled the chart out of my stash and raided my small cuts of fabric for a piece of evenweave. I knew I wanted to stitch this over one so it would make a petite ornament, and over 1 worked out great. In fact, it's triggered several over 1 stitching projects - I seem to be on that kick lately. (More to come on those later). The thread was one of those "oh isn't that pretty? I bet I could do something with that" impulse purchases.

With the holidays - shopping, baking, traveling, etc., I didn't manage to finish the ornament before Christmas. In fact, I put the last few stitches in it on New Year's Eve! But I was determined to *finish* finish it in time to get it in his ornament box when I took the tree down. And I did - YAY ME!! In fact, I finished several ornaments this past week, including another for our tree, which happens to be my first finish for 2010 and something you'll see in another post.


And because I like to personalize things, I stitched up the back with his name and year, plus a sailboat from the front. I love, love, love how it turned out, including the cording I used to trim. Which just happens to be a smaller version of the drapery tiebacks in his nursery. Yeah, how cool am I?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

PIF for Deirdre and Tammie - Completed!

I finally completed my PIF obligations. I won a PIF from Yuko in July 2008 and had until July 2009 to get my own PIFs out to my three participants. One of them got out on time, to Michelle in Ireland. The other two? Well, you know what they say about good intentions.

I found out I was pregnant in February 2009 and had ever intention of getting those PIFs out and done before the baby arrived. Until I hit the wall of pregnancy exhaustion - my first trimester was brutal and I could barely keep my eyes open during my stitching times. But after months of feeling guilty for not getting my PIFs done and sent out, I finally got them finished and packaged up just before Christmas.

This is what I stitched for Deirdre (The Stitching Teacher):


Tudor by Karen @ The Cross Stitch Directory
Stitched over 2 on Weeks Dye Works Linen with WDW Calypso thread

Deirdre mentioned on her blog that she liked kalidescopes, so I picked this design and thread to create a kalidescope effect. It's bright for certain, but it's very cheerful and pretty, and stitching on the green fabric was fun - a nice change of pace from my usual neutrals. And because Deirdre had to wait so darn long for her package, I *might* have gone a little overboard to compensate:


I was able to find lots of neat goodies in Target, and I included some fabric and ribbons for finishing, a blank journal, a Christmas wreath stitching kit and a super handy fold up, reusable bag from Target (I LOVE these things - keep one stashed in my purse at all times)

I also raided my jewelry making stash and made a scissor fob with the initial D for Deidre. And I included 2 tiny little angels I made - one for Deirdre and one for her daughter, whom she mentions on her blog.

I confess, I was a little worried when I heard my first package had made it all the way to England within a few days of mailing, and I still hadn't heard from Deirdre about the one I sent her (in the US). So I sent her an email asking if she had received it yet. She replied that she didn't, but would ask her husband. As it turns out, the package did arrive, but thinking it was a Christmas gift, her husband stashed it under the tree! Luckily Deirdre let me know she got it and put my mind at ease.

Tammie (A Stitch in Time) also had a PIF coming to her

Mermaid Pattern from a German book I borrowed from the library
Stitched over 2 on mystery 28 ct. fabric with my own dyed threads

And once again, I went overboard to compensate for being sooooo ridiculously late.


I also included this scissor fob and beaded angel. I've read on Tammie's blog how important her faith is to her, so I went with an angel theme. And like Deirdre, Tammie's favorite color is purple, so I picked purple beads.

So my PIF obligations are officially concluded. Yay me!

The Sisterhood is Moving On... Again!

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pattern is ready to move on to the next lucky stitcher. Stop by and see Carol at iStitchaholic for your opportunity to be the next host!
Friday, January 15, 2010

Christmas 2009 Fair & Square Exchange

Now that things have settled down over the holidays, I'm posting photos of the Christmas 2009 F&S Exchange.

First up are the gorgeous squares I received from Christine, just shortly before Christmas:

Celtic Wreath by The Sunflower Seed
JCS 2009 Ornament Issue

Aren't they stunning? And I love her signature square - I might have to borrow that idea in the future. These lovelies are already in my finishing pile. I stitched a few ornaments over the holidays, including the first one for my son, so I'd like to get them finished up and put in with the rest of the ornaments. And no, I have not taken down our Christmas tree yet. It's still standing in all its Christmas glory in the front window. (Although I have been forbidden to turn the lights on for fear of attracting the attention, and ridicule, of the neighbors.)

And the squares I sent to her (though just a hair late because of the craziness of the holidays)


Christmas 2009 Round to Christine R (no blog)
Merry & Bright by Little by Little Designs
JCS 2007 Ornament Issue
Sitched with DMC Threads on 32 ct. Bayleaf

I'm glad I was paired up with Christine for this round as her "wish list" introduced me to a new designer I had never stitched before. I liked stitching this one so much I might have to stitch it again for myself.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Non Stitchy Craft Project

It's entirely possible that I have too much time on my hands, and that perhaps I can get a little over the top. I've already admitted to being completely OCD when it comes to organization, so it shouldn't shock any of you that I decided to take on a project shortly before my son was born.

I read all the horror stories about moms finding unworn clothes - tags still on them!! hanging in the closet long after their child had outgrown them and was determined that wasn't going to happen in OUR house. But what to do? What to do? If there was only a simple solution that I could take way too far......

BABY CLOSET DIVIDERS!!

I could have taken the easy way out and purchased some, like these blue ones from Sugar Booger. Or ordered some custom made ones from this Etsy seller, Potatopatch. Viable options, sure. But it was just weeks before my son was born - the perfect time to take on a craft project, because really, as a first time mom with plenty of stuff to do already, it made perfect sense.

So I scoured the internet for tutorials, and found these super cute foam hangers here at Armelle and Spearmint Baby. However, they weren't really my style as I'm not much for the colorful, cartoon-y kid stuff (we'll see how well this goes over with my son in the future). And then I found THESE at Blissfully Domestic and I thought, "I can totally make them!" Naturally, I could not find the thicker wooden doorhangers, and ended up buying the thinner ones at Michael's, but they worked out fine.

My best advice for working with that thin, balsa like wood used for these hangers, and all kinds of boxes and other things in the "wood craft" aisles at the local craft store is "Sandpaper is your friend". A light sand on these pieces before painting goes a long way towards making a much nicer finished products, especially around the edges. I've even sanded the wooden embroidery hoops I've used for making ornaments, and the end result is a smoother, more refined wood nearly free of blemishes and ragged edges. I would also recommend a coat of primer (available with the acrylic paints) on these softer woods as they tend to suck up the paint pretty quickly.

Another thing I learned was to shell out a couple more pennies and buy the better acrylic paint. I used the Joann's brand acrylic paint because I liked the color names (Sailboat and Baby Blue), but will know better next time and will buy the Plaid or other name brand paint because it works much better. I had to use several coats of the Joann's paint to compensate for the streaky coverage.

Knowing that I had limited artistic talent and would not be able to freehand something I'd be happy with, I searched high and low for nautical themed scrapbook paper and stickers that would work with a decoupage technique. I looked everywhere, in every store, including discount outlets like The Christmas Tree Shop and Ollies.

Nothing.

I couldn't find a nautical / boat themed paper for a background, and every sticker was either cartoony or textured or raised or otherwise not at all what I was looking for, which is how the whole painting process came about. So I painted my six dividers - three in one color, three in the other - after sanding and priming of course. And then a genius idea struck - if I could not find stickers or decoupage things I liked, surely I could find CLIPART that would work. And it helps I am a font freak and have hundreds of them on my computer, so the lettering was no problem. Getting it onto the painted wooden hangers? Yeah, that was a problem, until another stroke of genius took hold. I designed the hangers on my computer because I'm good with layout and design (it's just the execution that gives me problems) and in no time, I had six lovely, nautical themed hangers designed on paper, just waiting to be transfered to the wooden ones.

I had originally intended to trace the design onto the hanger using a nail or something as a stylus, creating an impression in the soft wood that could be filled in with paint. Yeah, not so much. Back to the drawing board. Then I remembered pattern transfer paper that I had used in home ec class in high school, so back to the craft store we went. (Mind you, I was 8 months pregnant at the time) Transfer paper in hand, I gave it my best to transfer the designs to the hangers, and this time, it worked out. The filling in with paint, however, did not go as intended, but this is where my brilliant (and artistically talented) husband stepped in and saved the day.

Seeing as how he's much more patient than I am, I turned the project over to him, and he completed the painting, complete with shading and blending of various paint colors. Impressive! He also came up with the idea of some simple outlining that really made things look nice. So may I present....... Little Dude's Closet Dividers!!!




And yes, Little Dude's oh so clever Mommy has his hangers doing double duty. Once we get through the "infant" sized clothes, the reverse sides of the hangers are painted up with toddler sizes. All I need to do is flip them over. He'll be tired of them long before they outgrow their usefulness.

As a final step, which I did not photograph, I tied a wide, dark blue satin ribbon to the top of each hanger so it could be hung in the closet (we have closet organizers instead of the long wooden pole)

Stitching Sale!

Stop over and visit Amy at Down Sunshine Lane....

She has a long list of items for 50% off, with more to come! Visit to get some great deals - http://downsunshinelane.com/50.htm

Also, there are some great items on their regular sale page too - take a peek while you're there! http://downsunshinelane.com/sale.htm
Friday, January 8, 2010

A Star Danced

A good friend of mine gave birth to her first son just a few short months before our son arrived, so part of our pregnancies overlapped and we were able to share our experiences. Rachel was a tremendous help and a source of support for me, so I wanted to make something for her son as a thank you for some very nice things she did for me.

The trouble is, I couldn't decide what I wanted to do, so I stitched both! First up is a simple birth record.


Snips and Snails by Serendipity Designs
Stitched over 1 on 14 ct. white Aida with DMC Threads

I purchased the boy and girl versions of these designs as they're a handy piece to have around. They stitch up quick and are super easy to personalize, plus they're not overly cutesy. The original design only calls for the first name, but whenever possible, I like to include the middle name as well as it fits nicely into a 5x7 frame. I don't generally stitch on Aida anymore, but I do like the slightly chunky look it lends to this piece.

I also knew I wanted to stitch up this piece, ever since the first time I saw it way back in January.


A Star Danced by Sharon Bennett (Daffycat Designs)
Stitched on 32 ct. linen with my own hand dyed threads
Name blurred for privacy

I fell in love with this design that Sharon created for her daughter's 21st birthday (you can read the story on her blog by clicking on the link to the chart). I personalized the back with the complete information, then finished the piece into an ornament. I followed Nicky's tutorial for ruched ribbon, and stitched it on the finished pillow by hand. I LOVE how it came out.