Saturday, June 22, 2019

Stars and Stripes Mystery Box Reveal

Spoiler alert! If you are already a fan of Colour & Cotton and have ordered your Stars & Stripes Mystery Box (but have not yet received it), STOP! This post contains some (fabulous) spoilers.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, or if you do and have been curious, read on. Colour & Cotton is relatively new on the hand-dyed fiber scene. They opened up shop in the fall of 2016. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, the studio is owned by Angela, who learned about professional dyeing while a fine arts student.

The studio is large enough to offer a wide range of hand-dyed linens, threads, fabrics and more with awesome customer service, but small enough that when I receive an order, the invoice is usually hand-signed by Angela herself. She answers emails personally as well.

I'm writing this post because I'm a HUGE fan and have been so impressed with everything I've gotten from them. No other reason. I learned about Colour & Cotton from Arlene at Nanaland when she regularly featured their threads as part of her "Friday Five" posts.

Because I was so intrigued with Arlene's show-and-tell, I subscribed to Colour & Cotton's monthly hand-dyed thread club (all-colors option). It's so much fun to get 10 skeins each month, but they offer a 5-skein option as well (brights or primitives/neutrals). If you like to play with color and swap out threads in your stitching, this might be an option for you and a great way to build your collection. If you don't like swapping out threads, their hand-dyed linens (also offered in a monthly club or a la carte) are gorgeous.

Here's one example of their great customer service. I love the "dark indigo" thread. It's simply the perfect navy blue. I was worried I was going to run out so I went to their site to order more. They were sold out! Eek! So I emailed Angela, and you know what? She dyed more that week, just because I asked.

About the box

A few times a year, Colour & Cotton puts together seasonal "Mystery Boxes." I missed the first two but got my first one last Christmas. I loved it so much I promised myself I would keep ordering them.

Yesterday I received the first box of this year, the Stars & Stripes Mystery Box, a mini version of their full-size boxes.

Half the fun of opening a mystery box is the way Angela and the crew package everything with so much thought and care.

Here we go...

When I first opened the box, I was met with fireworks! Well, OK, not actual fireworks, but lots of blue and white krinkly paper that reminded me of a festive explosion of color (and something I can reuse in my next gift basket).

And then...

Gold tissue paper.... oh the suspense was killing me at this point!

Look! So pretty!

  • 2 yards of vintage hand-dyed silk ribbon for embellishing an ornament
  • 10 yards of hand-dyed silk thread in "Spacious Skies"
  • 6 skeins (8 yards each) of hand-dyed cotton thread in a patriotic pallette

  • A needle minder specially made for Colour & Cotton by Mad for Minders, packaged in the sweetest little gold gossamer bag

  • Navy Kona quilting fabric for backing small finishes, drums and more
  • 17" x 26" piece of hand-dyed stitching linen (I selected 40-count Newcastle) in a color that resembles old parchment!
  • Tiny red snips from Paula Sibbald of Kelmscott Designs

A pretty decent haul, if you ask me! And now when I'm ready to do my patriotic stitching, I'm all set.

Later this summer, Colour & Cotton will be taking pre-orders for the Harvest Halloween mystery box (available in mini or full size), and in fall, they will take pre-orders for the Winter Wonderland mystery box (again available in mini or full size). They sell out fast.

I hope you have enjoyed my little bit of "fan girl" hats off to one of my favorite dye studios on Earth. They've brought a lot of joy into my stitching world, so I wanted to give them a shout-out to say thank you!

Thanks, Angela! You rock!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

June...Going, Going.....

Hi, stitching friends!

When I think that it's almost July 4, I think, "What? Seriously?" I've been reading about and admiring your patriotic stitching, and I think about starting some of my own. But then I realize... the Fourth of July is like... two weeks away?! Ummm... maybe I'll get on to my patriotic stitching next year. I got an email that my Colour & Cotton Stars & Stripes Mini Mystery Box has been shipped, so I'm super excited about its impending arrival, but it's a big, fat goose egg on the patriotic-stitching front here.

I have working on about eight different projects lately, using a decision-roulette app on my iPad to help me decide what to stitch on each day. But for now, here's what I have ready to show you.

Halloween at Hawk Run Hollow

I finished block 8 of Halloween at HRH a few weeks ago:

Don't you love it? The colors are so bright, and I love the realistic look of the straight-stitched straw in the scarecrow. He obviously isn't very scary to those crows landing all over him, but I think he's pretty scary.

I have to tell you, this project is pretty cool-looking in the product photo, but it's one of those rare projects that just POP in person. It has been delightfully fun to stitch.

I do have a love/hate relationship with some of the solid-color areas. On the negative side, stitching a large area in one solid DMC color can be dreadfully boring, but on the positive side, if you're watching TV when you stitch (as I do), you don't have to concentrate so hard when stitching these areas.

Now I'm working on block 9, and it seems like I've been on block 9 foreeeeeverrrrr. I took a brief vacation from Halloween at HRH to work on other things, and getting back to it has been hard. I'm almost done, though, and definitely still on track to finish block 9 by the end of June.

Do you love my new needle minder? Creepy! It's from Mad for Minders on Etsy:

Perfect for Halloween stitching. I love Dracula's fangs...

...and I love Frankenstein's monster's mustache. I'm not sure if it is supposed to be a mustache, but it looks like one to me.

Reminds me of a vintage photo, like this poor man's head became Frankenstein's monster's head.

Summer Schoolhouse SAL Update

I've been plugging away on the Summer Schoolhouse Stitch-a-long I've been doing with RJ and Mary of Stitching Friends Forever.

I finished part 2.1, titled "Pretty Miss Polly," in 16.5 hours:

And here is part 2.2, "Little Master Tommy," all finished up:

I think the colors are divine. The bees' wings are hard to see, even in person. They're almost the same color as the fabric.

After tracking 10 hours of stitching time on part 2.2, I decided that I REALLY don't like tracking time. Several of you have mentioned that you don't like doing stitch-a-longs because of either tracking time or feeling like you can't keep up. OK, so I agree! When I have the timer going, I'm super self-conscious about how much I'm getting done and whether or not I'm ahead of or behind RJ and Mary. So, I decided to heck with keeping track of time! I'm putting in what time I have, when I have it.

I think the important thing is knowing that my friends across the country are working on the same thing I am. I know we are at wildly different places in our stitching right now, and that's OK. I'll finish when I finish.

I have started part 3, but I haven't gotten very far yet. Just the windows and part of the door:

Since there is going to be an American flag on the left side of the house when I finish it, I will say, yeah, I'm working on some patriotic stitching, too!

Be well, dear friends, and thanks for stopping by. I read and enjoy every comment, so thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to say hello!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Peek Into My Drawers (Or... How I Organize My Stash)

Hi, stitching friends!

Today, I want to give you a little peek into my drawers! OK, OK, get your mind out of the gutter. Not those drawers.

Over the past few months, I have come across YouTube videos and blog posts talking about how to organize all of our crap errr... treasured stash. I thought I would add my voice.

I am not an expert, but my system works for me. I have one bedroom that I use for an office/craft room, but you could use some of these storage methods even if all you have is part of a closet.

I have a large armoire that we used to have in the living room to house our old TV. When we ditched the old TV for a flat screen, I thought about giving the armoire away. But I imagined all the storage possibilities and moved it into the craft room.

In the above photo, on the left (looking inside the armoire), I have all sorts of storage bins I've collected over the years. They house everything from patterns to linen and fabric to buttons and embellishments. Ignore the miscellaneous junk I haven't organized yet.

On the top shelf on the left, you can see I have patterns stored in some 12x12 scrapbook bins. The orange bin holds patterns I have not stitched yet, and the purple bin below it holds the patterns I have stitched.

The photo on the right shows a bookshelf I have propped up against the armoire. It houses books, magazines, boxes of miscellaneous supplies and small, seasonal pieces.

I put printouts of freebies and charts I have downloaded from the internet in page protectors. These go into a binder with tab dividers for subjects such as Christmas, Halloween, autumn, patriotic, etc.

I mounted a shelf with hooks to the top of the armoire, and you can see my fancy flosses (overdyed threads) hanging from the hooks.

I put my overdyed threads in snack-size zipper bags, punch a hole in the corner and put a label in another corner where I write the brand and color. I put the bags on 3" jump rings and organize them by brand. For brands such as The Gentle Art or Weeks Dye Works, I organize the flosses alphabetically. For Colour & Cotton flosses, I organize them by color (because I'm usually using Colour & Cotton flosses as substitutions and I look for the floss by its color, not its name.)

When I work on a project, I pull the colors I need from the larger jump rings and put them on a small, 1-1/2" jump ring (see above photo). When I'm done with the project, I put them back where they belong.

I keep my DMC flosses wound on bobbins in four plastic bins. I also keep my Kreinik threads here. When I was in college and falling in love with cross stitch, a local department store had DMC on sale for 25 cents a skein, so I splurged and bought every color. My boyfriend (who is now my husband!) sat with me for hours, winding the floss onto those bobbins. I sort them numerically.

When I work on a project, I pull out the flosses I need and store them in a small, portable floss box. I also keep my scissors, needle threader and extra needles here. I dedicate one section for thread clippings. When I am done, I put the flosses back where they belong.

I've found that the most important step is the last one - put things back where they belong! If my desk gets piled high with new stash or things I didn't put away, I just cannot think straight. I feel stressed. When I put things where they belong, I feel inspired.

Because I like to have several projects going at once, I like to organize them in zippered bags. I found these on Amazon (click here for the link). They're more durable than a Ziploc bag, come in lots of colors and cost less than a dollar each. The size I linked here fits up to an 8x8 Q-snap, but the company sells larger bags on Amazon as well.

How do you organize your stash?

Halloween at Hawk Run Hollow Update

This weekend, I put the finishing touches on blocks six and seven of Halloween at Hawk Run Hollow. Just five more blocks to go! Woot woot!

I am NOT a fan of spiders, but I have to admit, the spiders in this gorgeous project are just so creepy and perfect. Once in a while I catch one of them in my peripheral vision and I jump a little bit.

Summer Schoolhouse SAL Update

I'm working hard to stay on track with RJ and Mary over at Stitching Friends Forever on our Summer Schoolhouse SAL. We stitch one hour each day... in theory. Sometimes I get caught up in another project and I procrastinate, but I manage to get caught up. This weekend, I found myself six hours behind! Eek. But I got caught up.

Here is pattern number one (A-B-C-D-E-F-G), all finished up. It took me 44 hours and 23 minutes!

This is my first SAL and until now I had never tracked time while stitching. I can't say I love tracking time, but it is interesting to find out just how long it takes to get something done!

Pattern number two (H-I-J-K) is quite a bit smaller than pattern one, so it is going much faster. I'm 14 hours in and I'm close to finishing! Don't you just love the colors in this series? I have to say, out of the hundreds of projects I've stitched over the years, this series is in my top five favorites. RJ and Mary have excellent taste in choosing patterns.

Until next time, dear friends. Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you sunshine and lots of time to stitch.