Friday, December 25, 2015

Too tired to think of a post title

Holiday time: busy time. It's nice to sit down and have time to be on the internet.(Note: I started this post two hours ago. Some people stopped by for a late Christmas visit. Augh.) I've been trying to keep up with people via blogs and Twitter etc on my phone, and it looks/sounds like people are having a good holiday. Lots of great pictures.

I turned a couple of small things into ornaments. I used instructions from Focus on Finishing for a flat finish, because I can't sew (yet) and don't have a sewing machine (yet).

Freebies; links below
 My first handmade cross stitch ornaments ever! I did a third, but forgot to take a picture before I gave it as a gift.

The owl was also a gift to a friend's mother, who loves owls. The pattern is a freebie via Holly's Hobbies, here, on white evenweave linen.

The second is one I did for myself; I got the pattern from Balades et Broderies, here. I did it on 14 count black Aida, using 3 strands of floss so that the white would look nice and rich. I love the way it turned out. The idea of doing the pattern on black came from this post at Stitching Dreams. I did the "Noel" pattern from that post and a few others by Balades et Broderies on black as well, and I plan to finish them all the same to have a little matched set. The colors aren't specified in the original pattern, so I used 321, 470, 721, 420 and white.

In flashback finishes news, I got a picture of the Wire Whimsy angel I stitched for my parents years ago:

From a Dimensions "Wire Whimsy" kit
And I made a little progress on my snowmen:

Crossed Wing Collection pattern; bad cell phone pic
I'm beginning to like the sparkly snow, now that I've figured out how to make the stitches look nicer.

I hope everyone had a great holiday!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Argh, and Christmas Ornaments

I got the blending filament from 123 Stitch that I need for my Crossed Wing snowmen, and put a few stitches of snow in last night. I'm not thrilled with the result. The piece is 2 over 2, and I added one strand of blending filament to the two strand of floss, but the stitches look bulky and untidy. But with just one strand of floss, the coverage isn't very good. I'm going to try pulling the stitches tighter and see if that helps, or if I end up with gaps between all of the lines.*grump*

On a less grumpy note, I thought I'd post a couple of the few needlework ornaments I have on my Christmas trees. I have a couple my grandma made several decades ago; two Christmas cats stitched by a co-worker many years ago for me; and two I made myself. It seems that cross stitch bloggers I've been reading have many, many more than that, but I plan to add to my collection over time too. :)

Here are the two I made, from Dimensions Wire Whimsy kits:

Dimensions Wire Whimsys
The reindeer has been on my tree for the past 10 or so Christmases, but the snowman I only recently discovered in the bottom of my basket o' cross stitch stuff. He was completely stitched, but I hadn't cut him out and assembled him yet. He's on my small red tree up in my 'library' - the tree is new to me this year (my mom was going to sell it at a garage sale over the summer, but it came home with me instead), and it was kind of fun to pick a few ornaments especially for it.

I also did a Wire Whimsy Christmas angel for my parents back when I stitched the reindeer, and one of the cross stitched cats the friend made is a Wire Whimsy too. They're really cute, but the kits only seem to be available on eBay and other resale venues, so I guess they're not being made anymore.

Luckily I found another unstitched kit (a flying Santa) in my basket o' cross stitch stuff, so I have another one to stitch yet.

Beneath the reindeer you can catch a glimpse of one of my grandma's ornaments:

 It's a little four-sided ornament with a candle stitched on it in needlepoint.

Monday, December 14, 2015

WIPs and firsts

I'm actually going to take a whack at finishing a couple of Christmas ornaments. I'm going to try flat finishes, because my sewing skills are...pretty much non-existant, and I'd like to have them done by this Christmas.

I've made a bit of progress on my Crossed Wing Collection snowmen, and started on a geeky Star Wars-themed thing. It's dorky and I can't wait to get it done.

This weekend I took some pictures of the first cross stitch projects I ever completed, which I gave to my parents.

It's been a good 20 years since I did these, and I don't know the provenance of the patterns. The first one was a kit, I know that; and the second came from a cross stitch pattern collection book I had checked out from the library. But that's all I know.

EDIT: WHAT. I dug out a box of keepsakes looking for some papers, and waaaaay down at the bottom I found the old kit pattern. !!! What are the odds that I would run across it today?? It's a 1995 Cross My Heart, Inc. kit called "Sabre Wing Hummingbirds."

First cross stitch project ever:

From an oooooold kit by Cross My Heart, Inc.
Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking. Blending filament, 1/4 stitches, an absolute mess of back-stitching... And I'd never done cross stitch before. At least it was on Aida cloth. But it turned out really nice, I thought.

And then, instead of learning my lesson from that first project, I immediately chose another project (on linen this time, wtf) that required blending filament through 95% of the pattern.

From a book of cross stitch patterns; don't remember the book or designer

After this one, I did a couple of projects that ended up with my sister, and then I did the Lavender and Lace Angel of Autumn, which was for me, took like ten years, and is upstairs. I'll have to get a picture of it.

Speaking of Lavender and Lace, I also got a picture of the framed Nantucket Rose from my parents' house; sharing because it's purty.

Nantucket Rose by Lavender and Lace/Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum

Friday, December 11, 2015

A couple more finished things

These are a trio of cuckoo clocks I stitched...maybe in 2014? I can't remember. I was trying to get back into stitching, but then I got these done and didn't know what to do with them, which put a dampener on my enthusiasm. I still don't know what to do with them, though I like them.

Teal cuckoo clocks by Tiny Modernist

I do think that I'll go back and backstitch around the blue squirrels on the upper left clock. Right now their bodies blend into the house too much, leaving their tails looking like handles, or ears.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Many questions, and an in-progress collection of answers

Ok, not being able to walk into a shop and hand the shop lady my pattern and say "I need some fabric and stuff for this, help?" requires Knowledge. Particularly when the pattern says, essentially, 'use some kind of 28 count linen in a shell sort of color.' And there are roughly a million types of linen and none of the colors are called 'shell.'

And then there are the thread/thread conversion questions! Yay for having old patterns that used discontinued thread types/brands (not really yay in the slightest, argh). Also, patterns in general could be more specific (I'm looking at you, patterns that refer to Wisper and Nordic Gold, without bothering to mention that they're Rainbow Gallery threads).

All hail Google. This will be my post for collecting helpful links for future reference.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Upcoming WIPs

Things stitched with hand-dyed floss are lovely, but man that floss is expensive. I got a few skeins for 40% - 50% off recently, and it's killing me to see the un-discounted prices online. I'm trying to decide if I will like the results of some patterns I want to stitch next year if I use regular DMC floss. In one case yes, I'm pretty sure I will. In other cases, I don't know.

On the up side, the pattern I want to stitch for my January 'small' is charted with DMC, yay.

Chilly Winter by By the Bay Needleart
AND I think I have some linen on hand that I can use. I grabbed a few scraps for a steep discount at the cross stitch shop that's closing, and I think one of them will work. The pattern calls for Dove Gray linen and what I have is called Farsi Blue, but it's a very, very light, misty sort of blue. Bonus: I have just enough to do both of the house patterns.

I may also start another WIP. I probably shouldn't have more than one large and one small project going at once, but I found this pattern and I really want to do it sooner than later:

Tall Oaks
By the time my son was born, I was losing interest in (or at least, time for) cross stitch, so I never did any kind of 'birth announcement' type of stitching project. And honestly, at the time I don't think I could have found a pattern I liked. But I love this, so I picked it up last week and I hope to start it soon. (I'm only 17 years late. :))

Monday, December 7, 2015

Stitchers' techniques, and WIP

One thing that is interesting about looking through other stitchers' blogs is seeing the various techniques people use.

I learned to cross stitch by purchasing a kit and just diving in, and along the way I've discovered things I was doing wrong that I had to change, things I was doing 'wrong' that I shrugged off because what I was doing works well for me and looks just fine, yadda.

I expect there are one or two 'right' ways of doing things, though, and probably some ways of doing things that are easier than what I'm doing now. I know I will continue to learn and try new things (like the 3/4 stitch - I now realize that I probably should have been using it, instead of just using 1/4 stitch, in past projects, but it's so fussy that I'm not sure I will now use it everywhere I should. I may skip it and just go with 1/4 stitches in some situations).

Anyway. Seeing how others stitch: fascinating. A couple of things I've always done is start in the middle of the cloth/pattern, and stitch one thread at a time. I've seen pics on blogs of people starting at the edges, and having multiple threads going all at once. The pics where the stitcher is going row by row - stitching every stitch and color in a row before moving on to the next row - are particularly interesting. I don't think I could do that. I have tried tucking away a thread while working with a different color, and have trouble not getting everything tangled. And at this point I'm so used to counting single colors, and counting around other colors (if any of that makes sense). But the other technique really looks cool in progress.

Speaking of WIP, I worked on my Crossed Wing Collection snowman over the weekend. Didn't work on anything else, so made a bit of progress.

I'll stitch the branches, and then move on to the snowman to his left. I had planned to start on some of the snow on the ground next, but I can't find the blending filament I need in any of the shops I've been able to get to, so I'll have to wait til I can order it. I'm holding off on backstitching, french knots, and stitching the birds until I either need to or feel like it. Normally I do all the backstitching last, but since there's some in every single part of the pattern, I know I won't want to do it all at once at the end.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Stitch Along

So, a thing I'd never heard of before finding a cross stitch blogging community these past few months: a stitch along. And now I've joined one. Felt a little weird about it, since I've been lurking for months and only just this week created an actual blog, and don't actually know anyone in the stitching community, but...IDK. It seemed like a good idea at the time?

At any rate, it's this:

Run by Stitching Lotus

I spent a sleepless part of last night thinking about what I will do for this thing. I have a tentative plan. Per month, I think I'll do a small project related to:

January - winter (the small pattern from By the Bay Needleart's "Chilly Winter")
February - Valentines Day (Snowflower Diaries Joyful World "February")
March - bunnies (Lizzie*Kate "Little Gray Hare")
April - birds (bird motif from 1998 Cross Stitch & Needlework "Four Seasons Sampler" design)
May - bees (Bee pincushion from What Delilah Did's "Secret Garden Embroidery")
June - flora  (top part of "Summer - Seasonal Celebrations" by Country Cottage Needleworks)
July - summer (Hardcore Stitch Corps "Flowers & Poetry")
August - fauna ("Rats!" from JCS Halloween 2016)
September - autumn (Crafty Like a Fox "Fangtastic")
October - Halloween (Crafty Like a Fox "Fran & Frankie")
November - Thanksgiving (Robin ornament from Cross Stitch Crazy)
December - Christmas (LK "Jingle")

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Cross Stitch Edition

The slow process of recording finished projects commences!

This is something I finished this past February, after working on it on and off (mostly off) for roughly 10 years (doh):

"Nantucket Rose"
by Lavender and Lace/Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum
It was a gift to my parents. They've had it framed, but I don't have a picture of that. Love this like whoa.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Can I post a photo? Let's see.

So, after stitching a stack of small designs this autumn, I decided I was ready to start something larger. I have a few patterns for which I had picked up fabric at some point - three Lavender and Lace angels (yes, I was ambitious, lo those many years ago) and a Crossed Wing Collection snow scene. The last large pieces I finished were Lavender and Lace (Angel of Autumn, finished, oh, 10 years ago or so; and Nantucket Rose, which I started roughly 10 years ago and finished...well, in February). I really want to do the Angel of Winter and Angel of Light; do not really want to do Angel of the Sea, and I don't entirely know why I bought that pattern and fabric. At any rate, I don't think I'm ready to do any of them right now, though, because gah. Massive undertakings, those patterns.

So Crossed Wing Collection wins. :)

I started two weeks ago, on a snowman called "Chris." He wears a hat and scarf, and holds a platform feeder. As is the theme of the designers, there will be birds galore. I also noticed last night that there is an absolute ton of backstitch. Oh boy. Also! There are SO many 3/4 stitches, which I had never done before. They are proving a challenge.

But it will be darling. Here's where I am right now:

WIP: "A Frosty Feast...No. 29"
by Crossed Wing Collection

Haven't gotten far, as I've been stitching small Christmas patterns as well. But, my goal is to have this one done by next Christmas, which I think is doable.

A 'derp' story: for some reason I decided it would be a great idea to start this project a few hours after having my eyes dilated at the eye doctor. I thought, "oh, I can see fine now, I can totally do this."


Have not yet decided if I will rip out the squiggle of stitches I mangled completed that day. I may leave them. They're not too noticeable, and I can laugh at myself for years to come when I look at them. (Derp.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I recently reclaimed a room in my house from its fate as The Room Where We Dump Stuff We Don't Know What To Do With. One little corner of it has been turned into my 'library,' with many books, a TV, and an old green chair that I got from Goodwill a couple of years ago.

The chair smelled of eau de grandpa when I got it, looks like it might be from the '70s (lime green, boxy, and vinyl), rocks, and is super comfy. I just happened to have a footstool covered in dark lime green fabric, too. Now there's also a large pet bed topped with bright green fabric, so at least some things in the room coordinate, even if nothing else does.

The best thing about this chair is that it's perfect for drinking tea and reading and rekindling my interest in cross stitch. When I started cross stitching some...oh geez, 20 years ago? I used to only do very large, time-consuming projects. They look great when they're done, but they take a lot of time and I would get burned out on them and put them away for 5 or 10 years at a time, which got to be frustrating.

Back in September I found buckets of freebies via Pinterest, though, and have managed to stitch some little things since then. Interest: revived! I stitched a few for Halloween/autumn, and then a few others that may or may not be turned into Christmas ornaments. (If I have the time and the patience to figure out how to do it before Christmas gets here, I'll be incredibly pleased with myself.) I also have started an old pattern I've had for ages, for a larger piece, but if I have to set it aside I will still have some little patterns to keep me engaged.

(So many little patterns. Between Pinterest and the only cross stitch store within driving distance going out of business and offering 40%-50% off of everything, I have SO MANY patterns to choose from.


At any rate, I thought I'd track my stitching progress and completions here. So, there will be pictures. Later.

A FFO and stuff

I actually finished a thing: Jumbled Summer by Pine Mountain Designs. It comes as a finished pillow cover with the stitchable panel; I co...