Friday, December 18, 2020

Merry and Bright

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.

A Right Jolly Old Elf

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.

Joyeux Noel

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?

Blanket-stitched felt ornament with spool

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.

Blanket-stitched felt ornament with key

And the third ornament from Robin is this cutie. Have you ever seen anything so clever? I love it!

Nostalgic sleighing scene ornament

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.

Prairie Schooler Santa from Carol

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.

Santa stocking

Santa card

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.

Back of Santa 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.

Farmhouse Christmas

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!

Farmhouse Christmas

Farmhouse Christmas

Farmhouse Christmas

Farmhouse Christmas


Welcome Christmas

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?)


Welcome Christmas

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.

Welcome Christmas

Welcome Christmas

Welcome Christmas

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!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Words

Hi, stitching friends!

Just a quick post. Some words I think we could all use right now. Some words I wish I heard more lately.

Love.
Unity.
Empathy.
Understanding.
Truth.
Friendship.
Forgiveness.
Kindness.

❀❀❀

Of course words are just words unless we put them into action.

Be well, friends.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

I've Been Framed

Hi, stitching friends!

Boy, do I have a lot to show you today. Now, before you say, "Wow, Meg, you've been really busy," keep in mind that I stitched these over the past year. I placed a couple of big orders from Franken Frames and framed these a couple of months ago. I've been waiting for Halloween to get closer to show you, and I've been waiting for my dear hubby to help me with the hanging hardware on the back. That is the one part of the framing process that I do NOT enjoy one bit.

Thanks to my crabapple tree in the backyard, which sacrificed some of its lovely fall foliage for my photo shoot.

First up is Lizzie Kate's 2019 Halloween Mystery Sampler. Last year I showed you the drum I made from the bonus chart that came with this sampler. You can see that post here. I finished the sampler soon after that, but it has been in my "box of shame," a.k.a. unfinished finishes, since then.

Lizzie Kate Halloween Mystery Sampler 2019
Lizzie Kate 2019 Halloween Mystery Sampler
Stitched on 32-count Fog by Picture This Plus
with called-for overdyed threads
Frame from Franken Frames

I love everything about this sampler: the colors and the scared look on the moon at the top and the skinny little black house on the bottom.

Tall, skinny pieces like this are great when you have limited wall space. They fit in the most unexpected places. I hung this one on the narrow bit of wall between my bedroom door and the linen closet. It goes great there, and I see it every time I go into my bedroom.

Have you ever stitched a mystery sampler? What was it? Did you enjoy the process?



Next up is one that I've seen a lot of people stitching this year, Halloween Quaker by Lila's Studio. 

Halloween Quaker by Lila's Studio
Halloween Quaker by Lila's Studio
Stitched on 40-count Murky by Picture This Plus
with called-for overdyed threads
Frame from Franken Frames

Honestly, I would not have picked this chart up myself, but I'm glad I did. Last winter when we were on our annual Oregon Coast trip and driving from Portland to Depoe Bay, my husband and I stopped at Starlight Stitchery in Corvallis. While I browsed, I told him if he saw anything he liked to show me. He picked out this chart.

And I really wasn't sure about the fabric. It called for Murky by Picture This Plus. Since I don't have a local needlework shop, I order almost everything online. When this fabric came in the mail, my first thought was "Yuck!" But that was apparently just me, because everybody else who saw it - my husband, my son, my mom - were like, "Ooh... that's neat!" I do like it with the stitch, and I'm glad I went against my instincts (which were to send it back and get something else!). It really is perfect for this stitch.

My favorite "motif" was the little row of houses with their bright yellow and orange glowing windows.

Halloween Quaker by Lila's Studio

There is a lot of black and variations of black in this sampler, so getting through the whole thing was hard. I had to take "color breaks" once in a while and stitch other things that made me happy. But I think the end result is quite striking. The few pops of color in it really POP. When I got about 75% done, I just plowed through to the end. I was ready to be done with it and move on to other things.

Halloween Quaker by Lila's Studio

I love the spiderweb and the spiders, but they gave me FITS. A word of advice: if you stitch this sampler, go to the Lila's Studio website and download the corrected chart for this motif. I found out (too late, after a lot of stitching that I didn't want to have to frog out) that there were errors in the printed chart I bought. I almost put the whole stitch away for a very long time. I was that frustrated. I'm glad I persisted.

The cats motif is another favorite.

Halloween Quaker by Lila's Studio

The designer has a photo on the cover of the chart of the cats motif stitched on orange linen and finished into a biscornu. It would also make an adorable Halloween ornament.

And finally, my favorite of the three stitches I'm showing you today: When Skeletons Dance by The Drawn Thread.

When Skeletons Dance by The Drawn Thread
When Skeletons Dance by The Drawn Thread
Stitched on 32-count linen
with called-for overdyed threads
Frame from Franken Frames

I went through my notes and I apparently didn't write down what fabric I stitched this on, but I know it was 32 count.

Those of you with a good eye for color can probably tell I ran out of floss at one point in the house and in the moon. When I got additional floss, the dye lot was very different than what I started with! I was very frustrated and worried about it, but I went with it, and I have to say, I like the result. The house looks old and neglected with peeling, fading paint. And I think that's how the moon really looks through layers of atmosphere and thin clouds. So all my worry was for nothing.

When Skeletons Dance by The Drawn Thread

 The ghosts in the windows say, "Boo!

And I love this jolly skeleton.

When Skeletons Dance by The Drawn Thread

He doesn't seem phased at all by the creepy spiders.

When Skeletons Dance by The Drawn Thread

And these spiders are SUPER creepy. The one in the crow's mouth at the top of the house uses a fat black seed bead, and the others use 4mm black buttons. (I could not find black buttons so I used a black Sharpie to "paint" some pastel buttons black.) The effect of using beads and buttons for the spider bodies is truly terrifying. These spiders look (and feel) REAL!

When Skeletons Dance by The Drawn Thread

I don't like spiders, but these are cool. At least these don't bite.

What are your plans for Halloween? Do you celebrate Halloween? I know it's not everybody's cup of tea.

We like it because we have lots of young families with kids in our neighborhood, so in "normal" years we get loads of trick-or-treaters. This year is different, though. With Covid cases soaring in our county, the health department is advising that no one trick-or-treat. I hate to say it, but this year we are probably going to turn off our porch lights and pretend no one is home. It has got to be really hard on the little ones.

Hopefully families with young children can find safe ways to have fun and enjoy the holiday. I'm lucky that my son and his girlfriend are old enough that I could just buy a bag of candy and say, "Here you go." They'd be happy with that.

I hope you all stay safe and healthy, and remember: This, too, shall pass. They just never say when.