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......


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.


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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is enjoying the New Year! For those of us here in the Northeast US, we're in the middle of a deep freeze - holy COW it's cold out there!!!!!! (All the more reason to stay inside where it's nice and warm and stitch!)

We had a great Christmas - our son Nick's first one. I still can't get over how lucky we are that he's such a good kid. So cheerful and laid back, and so good about letting people hold him. My 5 year old nephew and 7 year old niece were just over the moon about their new cousin, especially since they were allowed to hold and feed him. Who knew kids could get so excited about that? It was very cute to see them all together, and my nephew even shared his new Star Wars toys with the baby.

On the stitching front, I'm planning on taking on a one a week ornament challenge - more on that later. Also, my lovely MIL gifted me with Butternut Road's Celtic Banner chart and the cash to purchase the fabric for it. I know the pattern has been out for a while and some of you have stitched it, so I'm wondering what to do about the border. The chart calls for Caron Wildflowers in Cedar and Black Forest, but as I've searched the net, I've seen a few negative comments on these threads. I've never stitched with them, so I know nothing about it. For those of you who have either used these threads or stitched Celtic Banner, what can you recommend? Use the threads, or substitute something else? Perhaps the same colors in the silk threads or maybe a DMC conversion? Any thoughts on the subject would be most appreciated.