Hi, stitching friends!
Grab a cup of joe or hot cocoa and cozy up in a warm blanket. I have so much to show you, starting with some awesome Christmas ornaments from friends.
Arlene from Nanaland blog sent me this adorable ornament – "A right jolly old elf." Isn't it cute? (And I love that...a right jolly old elf. How can you not say that with an English accent?!) I love the way she finished it with the sugared holly and the antique buttons and the coffee/tea-dyed fabric.
Robin in Virginia sent me three lovely ornaments. Joyeux Noel is stitched on country mocha aida and is finished off with the most perfect cording and bow. I love the pattern in the tree, don't you?
The second gift from Robin is this wonderful blanket-stitched felt ornament topped with an antique wood spool. I wish threads still came on wooden spools.
And the third ornament from Robin is this cutie. Have you ever seen anything so clever? I love it!
Carol from Stitching Dreams blog sent me a wonderful surprise. She stitched this nostalgic sleighing scene over one, which honestly just rocks my world. Carol is so good at tiny stitching, and she enjoys it. (I can do it, but it kind of stresses me out, to be honest.) This stitch in blue just makes me happy, and I love that horse. Carol finished it with a wool houndstooth fabric, a lovely ribbon, a delicate snowflake charm, handmade cording and a pretty organza bow.
I hung the ornament on the tree right by the Prairie Schooler Santa that Carol made for me last year. Aren't they lovely? (Carol, you spoil me.)
Conquering My Fears
Do you have any projects that you've stitched and put away in a drawer because you just don't know how to finish them? I don't mean the ones you're not sure what to do with, but the ones that intimidate you?
Years ago (more than five years ago, for sure) I finished stitching a stocking for my husband, Shawn. It was a Dimensions kit called "Here Comes Santa." It came with a flimsy piece of felt for the stocking back. After putting in hundreds of hours of stitching, I was not going to finish it with a piece of felt. You've heard me whine before that I am not confident when it comes to sewing, so I sure didn't feel up to finishing his stocking by myself.
I thought of all the people I know who can sew, and I thought, what if I mail this to her? Would she finish it for me? What if it got lost in the mail? What if she didn't want to do it? Should I just pay somebody to do it? Every time I thought about it, I got so overwhelmed that it was just simpler to put it back in the package and think, maybe next year.
But here's what happened...
My son bought presents for his girlfriend this year and he asked me to show him how to wrap them. I offered to wrap them for him but he said, "I think I should do it myself. I want the gifts to be totally from me, including the wrapping."
That got me thinking. I wanted the stocking to be totally from me, including the finishing. I kicked myself in the behind, hopped online and found some tutorials, and thought, if I take my time and work carefully, I can do this.
Well, guess what? I did! And the stocking even has a lining.... ooooooh! And I did royally mess up. When I turned the stocking right side out, I realized that I sewed the hanger on the front of the stocking instead of the back. Doh! So I turned it inside out again, ripped out the seams that needed to be ripped out, and fixed it. I won't make that mistake again.
Several years ago we received a Christmas card that had the exact same scene on it. Isn't that funny? I saved it in the package with the stocking.
The backing fabric is sparkly and fun. It glistens with tons of silver sparkles (which seem to be impossible to photograph).
I wrapped the stocking up for Shawn as a gift to open Christmas Eve, but I couldn't wait that long. I kept asking him, "Do you want to open your present now?"
"No, I can wait. It's OK."
"Are you sure? Don't you want to open it now?"
"No, that's OK. I want it to be a surprise."
"I think you should open it now....."
I think it was wrapped all of two hours before I convinced him to open it. I was so excited for him to see it, and he absolutely loves it. I've started stitching another stocking for my son, a Dimensions kit called "Santa's List." I've had the kit for years, and now that I know I can finish a stocking, I'm anxious to do another one.
Hopping on the Bandwagon...a Little Late
Several years ago, in 2018, it seemed like everybody was stitching the Farmhouse Christmas series by Little House Needleworks. I was, too. I stitched the first block, the sheep and barn, by itself, but then thought, hmmm... I think I'd rather stitch them all together.
At first I was thinking I was going to make it into a pillow, but my measurements on my fabric were way off. The fabric, some cheap, rustic packaged thing I bought at Joanns, claimed to be 32 count, but it wasn't. When I finished stitching the border, it came to within 3/4" of the edge of the fabric! I had allotted 2" extra all around. Jean Farish, in her YouTube videos, stresses the importance of checking your fabric count by putting in a few stitches, then measuring them, before cutting the fabric (just to make sure your fabric is the size you expect). She is right.
So, plan B. Instead of making a pillow (which would require sewing and stuffing with lots and lots of fiberfill...ewww..... ugh), I decided to frame it. I wanted a barnwood frame but couldn't find one on Franken Frames, so I went with this rustic dark brown one. I love it!
I stitched "Welcome Christmas" by The Drawn Thread on 32-count lambswool linen. I started out using the called-for colors but by the time I finished the W and half of the E in the called-for green, I decided I just didn't love them. It looked like an awful lot of green, and the ribbon and the bird seemed off, too. So I swapped them out for some Colour & Cotton threads I had on hand and chose my favorite blue and a bright, vivid red. I struggled with doubt and second-guessing my choices. Would it look good? Are these the right colors? (Do you do that when you decide to change things? Or is it just me?)
When I finished it, I fell in love. I'm glad I went with my instincts. For finishing, I chose an ornate frame from Franken Frames, an antique silver/gold. It's quite small, just about 4" tall, and it fits perfectly on top of the cabinet in our entryway with old photos of my son with Santa.
Here are some close-ups of the stitching and beading.
Those stockings were a bear! They are stitched over one (on 32-count linen). Lots of trouble, but oh, so worth it. The pattern comes with alternate stockings if you don't want to stitch them over one.
Goodbye (and Good Riddance) 2020
2020 has been a hard year, hasn't it? For me, it started at the end of December 2019 with a difficult surgery, with more surgery in May, lots and lots of radiation, physical therapy and trying to walk without a walker, crutches or cane. I sometimes waddle more than I walk, but I'm making progress.
Your friendship – your emails and cards and packages and prayers and good thoughts – have lifted my spirits. Thank you!
We have all struggled in some way or another this year, but I believe in the mantra "rough seas make good sailors." Think of the things you'll never take for granted again, think of the new skills you've learned (like Zoom!), think of how the people we've lost have touched our lives, think of how much more you will cherish the people you love. 2021 is right around the corner, and things will get better.
My mom gave me the best advice years ago, so I'll share it with you: When you have a good day, enjoy it. When you have a bad day, hunker down and wait for a good one.
Wishing you lots of good days this holiday season and in 2021!