Monday, October 8, 2012

At the Hop: Stitching Tools and Aids

So I was reading Meari's blog, and discovered there was a Blog Hop going on!  Loretta over at Stitching the Night Away is hosting the blog hop, and if you were wondering what a blog hop is, here's how Loretta explains it:
The idea here is to pick a topic, sometimes a specific question, everyone will blog about the topic and then come back here and enter a link to their blog post in the link widget on the current post. That way everyone can check out the participating blogs, meet new blog friends, and comment on each other’s work, etcetera.
Now, I'm a little late to the party - the other stitchers are already on question nine, but hey, better late than never, right?  I figure I'll start with question nine, then work backwards (and forwards).  And away we go.

Question #9:  What are your must-have stitching tools and aides? Other than your trusty scissors, of course. Is there a problem you have had when stitching that you created your own solution for, or have you purchased a tool that helped?

My must haves include at least a dozen John James petite 28 needles, usually purchased in packets of 50 from Anita's Little Stitches.  I like to thread up a few needles at a time so that when I get in a rhythm while stitching, I don't have to break it by taking time to thread new needles.  If I'm working with 2 strands, I'll thread up 3 needles of the same color, and stitch as much as I can of that color to use up the needles.  I have been known to stick the threaded needles back into the pack, but I do that mostly when traveling.  At home, I use a biscornu I stitched as a pincushion.

Another must have when working with metallic threads is Thread Heaven.  Occasionally I'll use it on cotton threads, but for some reason, I find it makes them tangle up more than usual.  I generally only use it for metallics as I find it makes them SO much easier to stitch with.

I am, in general, a fairly organized person, and I have two items that help me keep my stitching organized.  (These tools are just for the act of stitching - we won't talk about my obsessive excel spreadsheets or my underbed storage boxes, at least not in this post).  Since I occasionally suffer from a short attention span, I like to have a few projects kitted up and within easy reach of my stitching chair.  I also have a 3 year old, so I need something that allows me to put things away quickly out of his reach.  For this, I use a Vera Bradley Little Travel Case. I've been using mine for several year - they're hard to find now as this is a discontinued design, but you can still find them being sold on eBay.  If you do come across one at a good price, it's very handy to have.  It zips around 3 sides, has a few mesh pockets inside for holding the aforementioned bags of needles and thread heaven and leaves plenty of room for my kitted up charts.

At home, I also use a square Rubbermaid container to contain my scissors, pincushion, needles and other stitching bits while I'm working.  I don't have to worry about my scissors falling off the table, and when I need to put it away, I snap on the lid.  As an added bonus, I don't have to worry about my scissors accidentally putting a hole through my fabric or in my Vera bag.  (I have yet to find a good sheath for my scissors).

Another kitchen product that comes in handy are snack size ziploc bags.  I am a fan of winding threads on bobbins, but my husband (also a stitcher) is not - he doesn't like the kinks in the threads when he unwinds them to use.  We looked at the baggie systems put out specifically for stitchers and decided instead of paying extra for that, we'd just use what we already had - the snack size bags.  They work out GREAT - colors are sorted out, easy to access, and no kinking involved.  We'll leave either the DMC color band with the number on it, or if using an overdyed, the color card, right in the bag with the thread.

Finally, one more tool that I find incredibly handy is a box of page protectors.  I rarely, if ever, stitch from an original chart - I will usually photocopy the chart, put the copy in a page protector and keep the original stashed safely in one of my storage boxes.  The page protector protects my copy, but if something happens, it won't happen to the original chart, and I can always make another copy if necessary.

And if the chart happens to be a freebie or a chart I've modified in PC Stitch and printed, the page protectors make it very easy to file the chart in one of my 3 ring binders when I'm finished stitching.  If I ever want to stitch the chart again, it's already printed - no wasting paper printing it up again.

So these are my slightly unconventional, but highly useful, tips and tools for stitching.  Be sure to make the rounds and see what the other participants have to offer - who knows?  You might find the perfect solution to a problem that's been a thorn in your side!

Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night Away Stitching Blogger Blog Hop:
Find the instructions on how to participate in this round by clicking here.
Friday, October 5, 2012

Breaking up is hard to do

February 2012Is there anything in your stash that you are ready to end your relationship with? (submitted by CinDC)

Oddly enough, this ties in nicely to the January SBQ about the oldest patterns.  I started stitching in 2002-2003, and over the years, have acquired several charts, patterns and kits I am now willing to part ways with.   In some cases, my tastes have changed, such as with these snowmen, Mr. Mittens and Frosty.  They're very cute, and I stitched them both as gifts, but they're not really my thing anymore.

I also have several birth and wedding records in my stash that I stitched once and will most likely never stitch again (more from my early days of stitching, when I stuck to pre-packaged kits.)  Now that I regularly modify things to personalize them, I've moved away from kits and I'm ready to make room in my collection.

There are a few charts I'd be happy to send along to a new home for more personal reasons.  I bought them at a different time in my life, with the intent for stitching them for people who are no longer a part of my life.  There's nothing wrong with the charts - some of them are brand new and have never been out of the package.  They just don't fit with my life, and in fact, going back to look over them as I was writing this post kind of annoyed me, that minor annoyance you feel when you look back at mistakes you've made along the way, ones you didn't realize were mistakes at the time. but can see them in hindsight.  No point in kicking yourself over it, but no point in keeping reminders around either. 

Along with these charts, I have a collection of Aida cloth taking up space.  The more I stitched, the less I relied on what came in the kits I was still purchasing, and I branched out.  I started by substituting fabrics, exchanging a 14 ct. Aida for a 28 ct. evenweave, and going from there.  

Don't get me wrong - sometimes those pieces of Aida come in handy for some projects, but it's now become a design choice I make, instead of having it made for me.  Sometimes I like the chunkier, more obviously stitched look that Aida gives to a piece, and I have two birth sampler charts that I've used several times that I stitch on Aida fabric.

These are "Snips and Snails" and "Sugar and Spice" from Serendipity Designs.  I like them because they stitch up quick, and done on a 14 ct. fabric, fit perfectly in a 5x7 frame.  They're my go-to design when there's no specified theme for a nursery.  So while I may not chose kits anymore, there's still some room left for Aida fabric.  Perhaps just not all of it though...

So, that's my story.  If you're interested in any of the charts I have listed, please let me know and we can work something out.  You can see them all here: Stash for Sale or Trade
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Birth Record for a Baby Girl

Way back in June, I showed you the ornament I stitched up for a new family member, and I am now getting around to posting her birth record.

Inspirational Scripture - Faith (with thread) by Little House Needleworks
Stitched 2 over 2 on 28 ct. Sandcastle with included thread
Modified for personal use

Once again, I modified a chart to suit my needs because I couldn't really find a birth record chart that worked for what I wanted.  I took out the wording that was in place and charted in my own.  I ended up extending the flower stem to accommodate all the birth information, but I love how it turned out.  

If the parents choose a theme for the nursery, I like to match or coordinate as closely as possible, and this was the bedding they picked for their baby girl:

CoCaLo Baby Mia Rose

I've had the piece finished for a while (oh, maybe since December of last year), but framing is another story, especially with a stitched border in the piece.  Getting the border lined up and straight before framing isn't hard, but it is tedious and time consuming, and not my husband's favorite job, so sometimes it does take a little convincing.  I also had a small hiccup with this piece by not starting it where I should have.  Somehow I managed to mess up centering the piece and by the time I figured it out, I was too far into stitching it to rip it all out.  The piece still fit on the fabric, but there wasn't quite enough room to securely wrap the edge around the mounting board.

After some discussion, I took the piece to my LNS to ask for the owner's advice as she also offers framing services.  She suggested stitching a piece of muslin on the short edge, since the seam would be hidden by the matting and no one would be the wiser.  One, two, three - she stitched a spare piece of fabric on and we were ready to go.  (On a side note, this above and beyond type of customer service is one of the many reasons I continue to shop there.  Please patronize small businesses, especially niche businesses like LNSes, whenever you can, or we risk losing them all together.)

Now that the edge wrapped around the mounting board, it was much easier to frame.  Getting a decent photo with the glass was another issue, though, but this one did come out.  Finally, I was able to send this, the butterfly ornament, and the other Bride's Tree Ornaments we still owed the parents from their wedding (4 years ago) off to the family where they were greatly appreciated and able to be enjoyed for years to come.  I love it when a plan comes together.
Monday, October 1, 2012

Catching up on some long overdue SBQs

I've been trying to come up with ways of blogging other than what's become typical for me - "Hey, look what I finished!"  I'm not much for progress photos because most of my stitching projects aren't massive undertakings like a HAED or a big Long Dog sampler (I leave those to my husband).  Plus I've been overwhelmed by digital images - I am the sole currator of our family photos, and we have a 2, soon to be 3, year old, which means we take a LOT of pictures.  I get tired of keeping up with them sometimes, but I usually prefer blog posts with at least one photo so I am stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.

I also try to keep my "everyday life" stuff off my blog.  It's not that I don't want to share, and I certainly enjoy reading about other people's everyday lives, but because of some personal family issues, I am not comfortable publicly writing about my own.

So I am going to go back to answering the Stitching Bloggers Questions, currently being hosted by Lee, the Lake Stitcher.  At least I can provide a little more stitching related content.  I will also be linking back to Lee's original question  as many of the stitchers who participate in SBQ either answer the question in the comments, or link back to their blogs where they answer the questions.  If you get tired of checking in on my sadly neglected blog, perhaps you will find a "new to you" blog that will keep you going in my frequent absences. :-)  Let's go back to January and start from there, shall we?

January 2012:  What's the oldest pattern in your stash? (Either the one with the earliest publication date or the one you bought the longest ago.) What's it's story? Have you stitched it? (submitted by CinDC)

Oldest patterns in my stash?  I do have some vintage patterns (early 90s and before.  Wait.  Is early 90s vintage?  I hope not, seeing as how I just graduated HS) Anyway, said vintage patterns were given to me by a friend who traded in stitching for knitting.  She knew I stitched, and gave them to me to do with what I wanted.  They're not my style, but perhaps there's someone out there that's interested in them?  Please let me know if you are - I'm sure we can work something out.  You can check them out here.

As for oldest patterns I purchased myself, they'd probably be from the Dimensions kits we started buying at the craft store in our early stitching days.  The very first piece I ever stitched (along with my husband) is a piece that we did for our niece.  Since we finished it in 2003, it was our pre-digital camera days and I don't have an actual photo of the finished piece, but this is from another website:
God's Babies Birth Record by Dimensions

Eventually I will get a photo of the finished piece we did for our niece, but this is the oldest piece that currently resides in my stash.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012

If you love primitive designs...

You'll want to check out Threadwork Primitives. Nan is a designer based out of Philadelphia and has some really lovely pieces - especially if you like patriotic and Halloween themes.

Carolyn, the owner of Just Cross Stitch (my LNS), posted photos of some of her designs on her blog, and they immediately made me think of a few stitchers I know. Make sure you check them out, and be sure to stop by the Threadwork Primitive blog to pick up a few freebies.
Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nick's 2010 Ornament

And for the grand finale of this Parade of Ornament, perhaps the most shameful of all.

I finished stitching this piece in 2010, got the buttons for it in early 2011, and still couldn't manage to put the whole thing together until last week. Mind you, I've finished several ornaments for other people, but when it comes to getting it done for my own son? Bad mommy!! (We won't discuss why Nick doesn't have a 2011 ornament yet...)

The Stars are Brightly Shining by SamSarah Design Studio
JCS Ornament issue 2005
2 over 2 32 ct. Crystal Loch Belfast
Swarovski crystals, seed beads and JABC buttons

I fell in love with this cutie the second that I saw him, even though he was another snowman. I told you, it's a vicious cycle. And it doesn't help that I tend to *really* like the SamSarah Designs from the JCS ornament issues (this maybe be the 2nd or 3rd one I've stitched and finished, and at least the 4th I've marked for future stitching). The words also happen to be a line from my favorite "traditional" Christmas song - Oh Holy Night. I'm not religious, but there is something about that song that gets to me.

It's another very large ornament, and I had considered doing it over 1 but that would have thrown the proportion of the buttons off, so I went ahead with over 2. It's not the size of a dinner plate, but still.... Even though it's a larger ornament, it's still one of my very favorites that I've ever stitched. My most favorite is this one, Nick's very first ornament. Oh wait. Maybe this one. Or quite possibly this one. I'll stop now.

I did change out some of the colors - I wanted a deeper, variegated red for the scarf, and I subbed in some beads in the bush for some added texture. I also used beads for the eyes, and Swarovski crystals for buttons. I figured with the buttons, it would tie in nicely. And I changed out the gold stars for silver because we are, after all, a Dallas Cowboys family. (which is why "stars" and blue and silver are recurring themes in my stitching)

It's impossible to see in this photo, but the fabric has shiny iridescent threads running through the weave and adds a beautiful sparkle to the finished piece. And now that I've finished his 2010 ornament, perhaps it's time to get cracking on 2011. Maybe even 2012.
Friday, June 15, 2012

Snowmen, Snow women, and Snowboys!

Every single time I stitch a snowman (or snow-person), I think about how much I dislike stitching with white thread, especially large swaths of white. You know, the kind you'd see when you're stitching a snowman. And every single time I see a cute snowman ornament, I forget how much I dislike it and decide I am going to stitch it. It's a vicious cycle, but I do it for love.

These next two ornaments will be going to good friends of ours, Jenn and Marc, who just had their second son in May. Jenn and I were pregnant at the same time with our firstborn sons and bonded over the experience. Shortly after Jenn told me she was pregnant with her second, the JCS ornament issue came out and lo and behold, a pregnant snow-woman ornament!

Snowflake By SamSarah Design Studio
JCS ornament Issue 2011
WDW Blue Jean 30 ct. 2 over 3
with my own thread selections

This ornament is GIGANTIC. Okay, gigantic for me. It ended up being something like 4"x4". If I stitch it again, it will be over 1, but this is very cute anyway. I will most likely include a small easel with it though, in case they want to put it on a shelf or the mantle instead of hanging it on the tree. I also left the hanging loop long enough to fit over a doorknob if they so choose.

And I can't forget Nick's friend, Mason (Jenn and Marc's son) I stitched a photo ornament the year he was born, and plan to continue the tradition of stitching something for him every year. This one ended up being perfect for him.

Just a Little Flaky - Val's Stuff
JCS Ornament issue 2011
WDW Blue Jean 30 ct 2 over 2
With my own thread selections

I made some modifications to the design, taking out the wording and substituting Mason's name and the year, as well as adding some tiny iridescent white beads for snowflakes.

You can see the detail on the snowflakes here.

I ended up stitching both pieces on the same fabric and tried to coordinate some of the other colors so the pieces "go" together. Now I'll need to figure out what to stitch for Mason and his new little brother for this year, once the new JCS issue comes out.
Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Basket of Apples

In the continuing saga of stitching and finishing ornaments for a Bride's Tree for not-so-newlyweds comes this next piece. Here representing the "basket of fruit" component is this lovely basket of apples:

Basket of Apples
Better Homes & Gardens 2001 Cross Stitch Designs
Stitched over 1 on 22 ct. aida

(Please note my finishing isn't quite as, ummm, crappy, as it looks. It's much nicer in person.)

This has also been completely assembled for at least 2 years, just waiting for some appropriate cording / trim.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A pink butterfly for a sweet baby girl

JBW French Country Butterfly for Kayla
Stitched 1 over 1 on 32 ct. Antique White
with Crescent Colors Cherry Tomato

Whenever I stitch a birth record for a newborn (or a 1 year old, as is usually the case by the time I get it done...) I like to include a Christmas ornament for families that celebrate Christmas. I've mentioned before how ridiculously sentimental I am about Christmas ornaments, so this should come as no surprise to you. It should also come as no surprise that I like to coordinate the ornament to the nursery theme whenever possible.

Almost four years ago, Mr. Sweet Pea and I attended the wedding of his cousin Christoper in NY, and last October, Chris and his wife were overjoyed to add baby girl Kayla to their family. Kayla's nursery theme butterflies in pink and brown, and I chose JBW's French Country Butterfly for her. The lettering was borrowed from another JBW French Country chart - French Country Bunny, I believe.

This is actually the second time I stitched the piece. Originally, I had stitched it 2 over 2 on 32 ct. It was nice, but not exactly what I had pictured. I went ahead and finished it anyway, or rather, attempted to finish it. We won't talk about exactly what happened, but let's just say a butterfly shape is not the easiest to cut out and stretch neatly around a cardboard template. A snip too far, a few curses and some grumblings of frustration and the 2 over 2 butterfly went in a drawer because I cannot bear to throw out any bit of stitching, even if it is ruined beyond repair. (I will ask my husband to make it disappear without my knowledge at some point.)

So I stewed about the mishap for a while, then finally decided to restitch the piece, this time 1 over 1. MUCH better. So much so that when I took it into my LNS, the owner asked if I'd mind stitching it again for the shop in purple. You'll be seeing this again (twice) actually in 2 different shades of purple (one for the shop, one for another of my nieces).

I finished this piece using a metal needlework form which ended up being the perfect size for this pattern and eliminated the need to cut my own templates. After the initial mishap, there was NO WAY I was messing with a butterfly shaped template, and I'm quite pleased with how this round shape looks anyway.
Monday, June 11, 2012

This can't possibly be my first finish for 2012... can it??

One that hasn't been motivated by a Fair & Square Exchange? Really? Huh. Imagine that. As I was writing this post, I kept trying to think of what else I've actually finished that wasn't done for a F&S, and I can't think of anything... Maybe I should stitch more and goof less.

Pumpkins by Little House Needleworks
Stitched 2 over 2 with included threads on 32 ct. linen
(personalization stitched over 1)
accented with copper seed beads

Does it matter that I've stitched this before for a F&S exchange? No? Good.

This piece was stitched as a gift for a friend I met through my cousin. I've known her for a long time, and we were bridesmaids together in my cousin's wedding last summer. I had such a good time with her at the shower and wedding and other wedding-related activities that I wanted to stitch a little something to honor her own wedding. Since they used pumpkins throughout their wedding materials and as decoration for their reception, I thought this was most appropriate.

I would like to have stitched it over 1 and made it slightly smaller (I favor smaller ornaments), but it would have been impossible to stitch in the personalization, so I opted for the over 2. It's still not *too* big, and it's quite pretty in person.

What held me back the most though was finding a trim that I liked for the edge. I thought I wasn't a fan of making cording and tried to find a store bought one, but nothing seemed to look quite right. Speaking of which, does anyone have ideas on where to find good cording and trims? I've had my best luck at JoAnn fabric, and even they have a limited selection. Am I just not looking in the right places?

Anyway, since I'm not usually a fan of making cording if I don't have to, I thought it would be easier to do some ruched ribbon. Clearly I forgot the LAST time I did my own ruched ribbon and it took me weeks of working on it little by little to get this orange stuff done. But done it is, and the ornament is all finished up. And yes, my finishing work is nicer than my second rate photography and positioning skills would lead you to believe (that bottom right corner isn't as lopsided as it looks). I was uncertain about the orange ribbon at first, but it's really grown on me and I can't wait to give it to the newlyweds (they're newlyweds for at least the first year, right?)
Friday, June 8, 2012

The parade of ornaments begins...

I've been trying to take advantage of naptime lately and knock out some finishing work. My 2 year old is fascinated by scissors and the glue gun, so I've got to work while he's sleeping and get my goodies put away before he wakes up. I've been working my way through our stash of finished pieces and deciding what to do with them. Loads of framing at some point, but a few ornaments as well. Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing my best to finish more, and share the ones I've completed.

Up first is a lighthouse ornament. (You're all surprised, I know) I have a few pieces older than this one, but this is the oldest of the ones I've tackled so far - an ornament I stitched back in 2008 that languished in the drawer simply waiting for some kind of cording. (Yes, the whole thing was almost completely assembled for nearly 4 years.)

Call of the Ocean by X-Appeal Designs
stitched over 2 on 32 ct. Picture This Plus Fabric in Dwarf
with overdyed and DMC threads
Stitched in 2008 - finished 2012

I did stitch this one before as a Fair & Square Exchange that went to Susan. This piece will join the multitude of other lighthouse ornaments on our Christmas tree.
Friday, June 1, 2012

A Mini Quaker Sampler

Just another drive-by posting from me.....

Round #29 to Pokua
Quaker 1 from Gazette 94 (free chart)
Stitched 1 over 1 on 32 ct. Antique White with Carrie's Creations Foxfire

I stitched these squares for the latest Fair & Square exchange for Pokua in Australia. I modified the chart slightly to add in both our initials and I changed the date. I wasn't certain at first that I was going to like it, but the more I stitched on it, the more I fell in love. And you'll be seeing that shamrock motif again somewhere, I'm sure.

I would just like to remind everyone that the Fair and Square Exchange IS taking new members. Participation has been down in recent rounds, and perhaps a few new members will re-energize the group. Jill has been a really wonderful administrator for the group and I have had a fantastic time getting to know my exchange partners, some with whom I've developed real friendships. If you're part of the group and haven't participated in a while, please consider signing up when the next round opens up. If you're not part of the group, submit your application to Jill - you won't be sorry.
Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fair and Square Exchange from Australia

Round #29 from Pokua
Heart's Desire by Debbie Draper Designs
Stitched on 32 ct. Light Mocha linen with DMC 91
This is my second international F&S exchange in a row, this time from Australia.  I was paired up with Pokua who stitched me this beautiful piece (in my favorite color).  She stitched it in honor of Debbie Draper, who sadly passed away in early April.

Once Pokua receives the squares I stitched for her, I will post them as well.

I have a few more pieces to post soon - two birth samplers I finished, two more pieces that need to be framed, and several ornaments I finished stitching and am ready to *finish* finish.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If I could have mailed myself too, I would have

Last week, I mailed this piece off to Ireland for Round #28 of the Fair & Square Exchange. It now lives with Elaine. And yes, if I could have mailed myself too, I would have. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to go there, and someday, it will happen.

But onto the stitching. I've already shown you Elaine's squares for me. These are what I've stitched for her.

Tout en Rondeur by Liselotte
Stitched 1 over 1 on 32 ct. Antique White
with Crescent Colors Ribbon Red

I've had this freebie chart in my stash for a while, and immediately went to my Valentine themed pieces when deciding what to stitch for Elaine. The chart is about 70x70, which would have fit into the 6"x6" guidelines, but wouldn't have left much room. And since I rather enjoy stitching over 1, I stitched this piece over 1. Lany received it very quickly, so I am happy to share it with you now.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

An original, commissioned design

A few weeks before Christmas, a friend and I were chatting and she mentioned she'd love to have a "Subversive Cross-stitch" type piece made for her boss and asked if I could design something around a phrase he likes to use. I said sure, no problem!

She wanted the piece to look obviously cross stitched, so I stitched it on Aida fabric and stuck to a very simple DMC color palette. I added the sheep for a little bit of interest / kitsch / reference to his theory that most people are sheep.

The verdict? HE LOVED IT! He thought it was absolutely hilarious and says it makes him laugh every time he looks at it.

And yes, my framing is much better than it appears in the photo. It was straight in the frame, and that's glare on the glass, not a wrinkle in the fabric.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A sentimental gift

Remember Me by My Big Toe Designs
Stitched 2 over 2 on 32 ct. Fog
With Crescent Colors Blacksmith Blue and Raspberry Parfait
Accented with antique buttons

I spotted this design early in 2011, after my husband's beloved grandmother passed away just days after her 99th birthday. I knew it was something we had to stitch in her honor for his mom. He agreed, and I picked up the chart and threads. I originally wanted to do it in two shades of pink (Grandma's favorite color) but he thought it would be too much pink and chose a darker blue accented by pink.

I picked this raspberry shade of pink for a particular reason. Right after Grandma passed away, I sent out an email to the extended family and cousins to let them know what happened and what the funeral arrangements were. (I stay in regular touch with most of the cousins via email and Facebook and it was my way of helping my MIL, who was feeling overwhelmed at the time.) As the response emails started coming back, I noticed a consistent theme in what people were saying they'd most remember about Grandma - her welcoming kitchen and delicious food, specifically her homemade raspberry jelly. My husband has mentioned this himself numerous times, and it seems he's not the only one it had an impact on. It's a little thing, but I am very sentimental like that, and I think my husband appreciated it as well.

What is obvious in the piece are the antique buttons used in place of some of the specialty stitches. I've mentioned the button collection we inherited from Grandma before, and these are some of the buttons from that collection. Just before he framed it, Mr. Sweet Pea picked out some of his favorites and stitched them onto the piece.

This is another American Frame, with a twist, as it's not the original frame I selected. Right after I placed the order, I got an email saying there was a mistake on the website and the frame I ordered was not in stock. Ugh. I hate it when that happens, but I went back to the drawing board and picked another frame. As it turns out, I like this one better than the first one I chose, and it works beautifully with the furniture in my IL's dining room, where it now hangs. I should also mention that Mr. Sweet Pea used acrylic on this piece (which is why you can see the glare) and some clear spacers to leave enough clearance for the raised buttons.

My MIL absolutely loved the piece and was deeply touched by the time and care her son put into stitching and framing the piece. She says she walks by it every day and it makes her smile to see it.
Saturday, February 11, 2012

From across the pond....

Earlier this week, I received my squares from the latest round of the Fair & Square exchange.

Round #28 from Elaine M (
Queen's Heart by Marie-Chantal Lord
From The Gift of Stitching February 2006

The theme for this round was red, and Lany selected this design from The Gift of Stitching. My picture does NOT do these beauties justice - they're gorgeous in person and Lany's stitching is perfect. I'm planning on finishing these up in a heart shaped ornament.

And speaking of the Fair & Square exchange, I've noticed a decline in participation which makes me a little sad. If you already belong to it and haven't participated in a while, now is a good time to check in to the blog and think about signing up for the next round. If you're no longer interested or don't have the time, there's no shame in opting out to give someone new a spot on the exchange. I've met some really wonderful fellow stitchers through the exchanges I've done and I'd hate to see the whole thing go away because there's not enough participation.
Thursday, February 9, 2012


Celtic Wreath by The Sunflower Seed
JCS 2009 Ornament Issue
F&S Exchange from Christine

While I was on a finishing tear around the holidays, I finished up this piece, stitched by Christine for a F&S Exchange. It had been sitting around since the end of 2009 and I had always intended to make it into an ornament. I even had the cardboard cut to size, but just never got around to actually completing the project. It's like one of those WIPs that need just a few more stitches, and when you finally put them in and finish it, you wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

This piece would work as an ornament, although as a slightly larger one, but I decided to hang it from the knob on the china hutch we inherited from my husband's grandmother. It sits in the corner of our dining room, where I do most of my finishing work. I hung it on the door to get it off the table and out of the way, and decided I really liked the way it looked there, so that's where it will hang for the holidays.

And if you click through to the original post, you'll see I have a better photo of the piece before finishing, as well as a photo of the signature square I used for the back.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A gift for newlyweds

I've mentioned before that my cousin was married this summer, and I've shown the Pinterest inspired wedding invitation ornament I made. I also did two other stitchy gifts for the bride and groom.

The first one, another ornament, had already been selected, purchased and started before the Pinterest idea came into being, so I ended up giving the bride and groom TWO ornaments for a non-existent tree. Yep. They had no tree this year, mostly due to a new puppy with a penchant for chewing. They figured it wasn't worth the potential damage to the tree or the pup to risk putting one up this year. Next year, hopefully. Anyway, this is the ornament I stitched for my cousin and her husband:

All Hearts Come Home for Christmas by Historic Stitches
Stitched over 1 on 25 ct. Ivory with CC Ribbon Red

So pretty! Finishing it was a little bit of a challenge with the heart shape - the center part wasn't very deep and the angles made getting the fabric wrapped neatly a little bit of a challenge but at least it didn't suffer the fate of another ornament I attempted to finish the same day. I might have clipped an angle a little too close on a butterfly and ended up having to restitch it, but that's a story for another day.

I also stitched a wedding record that my cousin herself chose. She had asked me to stitch a piece as a gift for a wedding she was in, and while she was looking through charts, she spotted this one for herself.

Wedding Row by Bent Creek
Stitched 2 over 2 on 32 ct. Belfast Linen in Flax
with recommended colors

Overall, I am pleased with how it came out, though if I stitch it again, I would probably make a change or two, notably the hearts. They looked red in the original pattern, but called for a more brownish thread. While it doesn't look bad, especially with the other muted colors, I would probably pick something a little more distinctly red for the hearts next time.

The frame was again ordered from American Frame, and I chose it to match their new bedroom furniture. Yes, I went back on my computer and looked at photos my cousin had sent me from when their furniture was delivered, and I tried to pick something that would work well with the simple Craftsman style of their bedroom. Mission accomplished, I think. Framing was a little tricky to get lined up correctly because the names stitched underneath throw the piece a little off center, or at least makes it look slightly off center when you first start figuring out how to place things. My husband ended up going back to the chart itself to find the middle point and working from there. I really should have him write a post on how he frames things - he has a patience with it that I completely lack.

In the end though, it all came out beautifully and my cousin and her husband LOVED it! (they almost didn't love it because I forgot that it was sitting on top of a cabinet at my ILs house and I had to run back in and get it before we left to meet up with the rest of the family.)
Monday, February 6, 2012

Refreshing the blog...

So I know I haven't posted a whole lot, but I've been working on some new posts over the last few days and I've come to realize that I'm kind of tired of how my blog looks. In the last year or so I've spent more time READING blogs than I have maintaining one and I think it's probably time for a refresh.

Here's the thing. Most of my blog reading is done through Google Reader and I LOVE it. It enables me to keep up with over 700 blogs. Yes, 700 blogs. Most of them are food, parenting, craft or DIY blogs, with a healthy dose of stitching thrown in there. Do I read every single word of every single blog post? No. I am a fast reader anyway - always have been. And I do admit to scrolling through posts quickly if the subject matter doesn't interest me or apply to me.

GOOGLE READER TIP: Using the "J" and "K" keys, you can quickly scroll forwards and backwards through posts. Click "J" for the next post, "K" for the previous post.

But back to using a Reader for blog feeds. I wonder how many people do this, and how many people visit the actual blog. I've been reading blogging articles on page views and things of that nature, and apparently reading through a feed doesn't contribute towards page views, which in turn, enable bloggers that monetize their blogs to make more money. I realize in the stitching community, there are very few, if any, bloggers that make money from their blogs themselves. (I'm not talking about stitchers that make money through their craft or finishing services). And some of you reading this are thinking, "What ON EARTH is she talking about?" Let me clarify a little.

My question is - do you visit the blogs you read on an individual basis, and if so, how do you do it? Do you have a list of bookmarks you go through, one by one? How often do you do this - daily? weekly? Or do you use a reader and click on each blog to go to the blog itself when there is new content - or stay in the reader? How many blogs do you read / subscribe to - stitching and otherwise?

I don't care about money or page stats, at least as far as my blog is concerned. I am never, ever going to make money on this blog - the market is not big enough and that's not really my goal anyway. If I can be a member of a helpful, interesting, informative community focused on a craft that I love doing, that fulfills my goal for this blog. I'm just wondering how other stitchers approach blogging and blog reading and trying to figure out what would work as I think about re-working my blog, so thank you in advance for your help!
Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mama needs a new pair of shoes

Well, *I* don't actually need a new pair of shoes, and I'm not really a high heel kind of girl. At 5'10", I already tower over a lot of people. Plus, I have a terrible time walking in them - I never really learned how. And although I can appreciate a beautiful shoe, sadly, when you wear a size 10, it's hard to find really cute shoes. Instead, I live vicariously though two of my friends who are confirmed "shoe-a-holics" and absolutely adore shoes. (And can walk in ridiculously high heels)

This first one is for one of my closest friends. We've known each other since I was 8 and she was 3, and she loves, loves, loves shoes. When she was moving to her apartment, her dad was helping and as shoe box after shoe box appeared, he started to wonder out loud just how many pairs of shoes one person needed. For that matter, how many pairs of *black* shoes? All explanations of flats, heels, casual, dress, and seasonal shoes went out the window - a foreign language to a man who owned sneakers, black dress shoes, brown dress shoes and winter boots.

But back to my friend. For as long as I can remember, blue has been her favorite color. She wasn't digging the pink when I showed her the original chart, and I assured her it didn't have to be pink at all. This is what I came up with:

The Shoe Shopper by JBW Designs
Stitched on 32 ct. Antique White with
WDW Americana (dark blue) and Morris Blue (light blue)

I am so excited with how it came out, and how COOL is that frame? I loved it so much I ordered it for another piece I want to frame up for my husband. I like the black on black detailing - it makes the frame a little more special without being over the top.

The frame came from American Frame, and I must say, I HIGHLY recommend them. Their service was excellent, the shipping was FREE and you can preview what your pieces will look like online by uploading a photo.

They will even send you samples of mat board and frame pieces ahead of time, though you are limited to five total samples before ordering. You can order additional samples when you place an order. I do have a teeny tiny complaint that if you want a complete set of mat samples at once, you do have to purchase them. Another framing company I use will send you a complete set for free, but it's not the same brand of mat. (These are Crescent mats) I figure there must be tons of scraps from mats they cut - surely they can send out free sample sets, but the savings on shipping makes up for it. I ended up not matting this piece anyway, but I do suggest (strongly) that if you are ordering mat online to order from an actual sample, NOT from your monitor color. The color on your monitor can give you the general idea, but when you're trying to match colors, an actual sample is the way to go.

For a relatively inexpensive price, the quality of these frames is excellent - very sturdy and well made, and impeccably packed. All my pieces were neatly and securely packed in the box - not a scratch, dent or ding. You can also order acrylic and backer board, and they offer an acid free foam core CUT TO SIZE for each frame. YAY!!! You have no idea how happy this made my husband (my chief framer and often disgusted with my cutting jobs).

And I did say PAIR of shoes. This is a second version of the same piece, for another shoe-a-holic friend, done in colors to match her apartment.

Stitched on 32 ct. Vintage Buttercream with
WDW Straw (tan), Crescent Colors Cupid (red) and GAST Dark Chocolate (brown)

She was absolutely thrilled when she got it, even if it was almost a year after I told her I wanted to stitch something for her. To be fair, it had been STITCHED since about March, but it sat around waiting to be framed. With the free labor I get, I can't be too demanding when it comes to getting things without a specific deadline framed.

Wow, I am on a ROLL!!! And there's still more to come. At this rate, I should surpass my posts total from 2011 by the end of February 2012. Or not, especially if Pinterest gets involved. Which it very well might.
Friday, February 3, 2012

More ornaments - finished and sent out. Go me!

Are you tired of these yet? Me? I'm just happy to have them finished up and sent on instead of staring at me accusingly from a plastic bag on my dining room table where they waited for months to be assembled. I wish I was kidding. Or exaggerating.

Art Deco Frame by Julia Lucas Designs
JCS 2005 Christmas Ornament Issue
Stitched with DMC Pearle Cotton and DMC Thread
(Images / Name intentionally blurred for privacy)

I've gotten more use out of this edition of the magazine than any other, and out of this particular piece. This marks the fourth and fifth time I've stitched this piece, all in different colors. (You can see the wedding version I stitched for my in-laws, and two additional birth record ornaments here and here). And I have a few more partially stitched waiting to be finished up, including one for my own son. Who is two. Okay then. Moving along....

As I've mentioned before, since it's stitched on plastic canvas, it's super easy for me to stitch on it in the car when we travel, and if I've started one on the sheet of plastic, I don't even need the chart. Putting them together is a little tedious, but I've been fiddling with my methods and it gets a little easier to put them together each time.

I also love these pieces because they're SO easy to customize. I went traditional with the one for my in-laws, but experimented with the variegated pearle cotton for one of the birth record ones. For these, I chose blue for the girl (her mom is NOT a girly girl pink kind of mom) and green for the boy, and went with a nautical theme for the clip art accent to reflect the theme of the nursery. I did stitch a birth record for Alexa, but Blake's is languishing in my stitching box. I really need to get on that. He'll be .... well, let's just say I hope to get it to him before he leaves for college.

I should explain that Alexa and Blake are the children of a very dear friend of mine. We met online while we were planning our weddings (9 years ago!) She lives across the country in Colorado, and though we've never met in person, we've bonded over our similar upbringings and her friendship is one I treasure. She sent me a lovely thank you note on behalf of the kids and she was touched by the gift. It's nice when your hard work is met by such appreciation, and it's definitely motivational to finish up a few more projects that have been sitting around.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Remember my first finish of 2011?

The one that's going to be my first post of 2012? The one I gave you a little sneak peek at WAY back when? Here it is all framed up.

Pot Luck by Ink Circles
Stitched 2 over 2 on 32 ct. Vintage Examplar
with Carrie's Creations Silk Thread in Double Fudge Brownie

I am so thrilled with how this came out, and my friend Julie absolutely loved it. I was able to give it to her in person right before Christmas. I love that - a lot of the gifts I make are sent in the mail. And yes, it WAS sitting around that long waiting to be framed.

She was so excited about it and couldn't wait to hang it in her office. She had chosen the pattern and given me a list of colors she liked from several thread lines. She picked a few in the Carrie's Creations collection that were combined into one thread, the Double Fudge Brownie.

The thread was lovely to stitch with and the color variations are beautiful, much prettier than they are in this photo (the sneak peek is a more accurate representation). It's been difficult to get a good photo this winter, compounded by the fact that I am usually trying to take photos at the last minute before I pack it up and send it off (or take it with me). And the framing is courtesy of my husband and American Frame - I can't say enough good things about either of them!

You'll be seeing this pattern again. I have it kitted up in an olive green silk thread, also from Carrie's, for our house. But don't hold your breath - it's going to be a while. Years, even. But I do have a few more projects to show you - they're in the queue, photos and all, just waiting for me to write a little post about them and get them online. Wish me luck!