Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hello, February!

Hi, stitching friends! I hope this finds you enjoying your February, hopefully having such wonderful weather as we are having here in Idaho. Today it was 50 degrees. Fifty! Holy Hannah.

It's been longer than I would have liked since my last post. My oral chemo has been fairly tolerable, but last week my hands and feet were pretty painful, and I just didn't feel like staging photos. But I'm much better now, and I am anxious to show you what I've been up to.

February Cottage by Country Cottage Needleworks, stitched on 32-count lambswool linen with overdyed and DMC threads.

I'm continuing with Country Cottage Needleworks' monthly cottage series, and I am really enjoying stitching these. I have to say, though, that February is not my favorite design in the series. It doesn't quite "pop" like the other months, I think because there isn't as much contrast as I'd like. But it's still sweet. I love the little details in these, especially the little birds.

I mentioned back in December that I was working on "Olde World Traveler" from Leisure Arts' Christmas Portraits (1991). I finished this guy weeks ago, but I had some wrinkles to work out...literally! When I received the fabric in the mail, it had deep wrinkles running through it. I thought they would relax as I cross stitched, but no... that was silly of me. I had never seen wrinkles this bad! I was dunning myself for not returning the fabric, and kicking myself for not trying to press it before stitching. But live and learn, right? I pressed it with a little steam, but nope. Those wrinkles were not going anywhere. Panic!

Wrinkles AFTER pressing with steam only.
Back side of stitching, wrinkles so persistent!

Thanks to a tip from Vonna at The Twisted Stitcher, I bought a product called "Mary Ellen's Best Press" from Amazon (the colorless, scent-free kind). Vonna was right. This acid-free starch alternative is AMAZING. I spritzed the fabric, with the stitching facing down, ironed it again, and voilah! Wrinkles GONE.

"Olde World Traveler" from Christmas Portraits, Leisure Arts, 1991, stitched on 32-count chestnut linen with DMC threads.

You might have noticed in the bottom left corner the faint white lines. Silly me. Those are reflections of my tripod in the glass. *slapping forehead*

The colors in this Santa are a lot brighter than I expected. The colors in the photo in the book were much more subdued. In fact, the purple looked more like a neutral than this bright lilac purple. But he is so cheery in his bright coat, and I love his eyes.

My birthday was great! My husband and son took me out for a lovely Italian dinner and bought me a cabinet for our foyer so I'll have more places to display my stitching, my mom and mother-in-law spoiled me with a gift certificate to 123stitch and money for stitching supplies, and my dear brother in Colorado put together a great gift box with a board game, gift cards, and some of those old-school, stove-top popcorn pans (the ones that explode into a giant foil bubble)! As a kid, I had begged my mom to buy those, but she wouldn't, so I'm just giddy about it. My son is excited, too.

And... my brother is so thoughtful... he sent some artifacts from my childhood. My parents purchased a small weekly newspaper in central Idaho just a couple of months before I was born, so I grew up with printers' ink in my blood. My mom retired in 2004 and sold the newspaper. My brother thought it would be cool to send me some small things he had collected from the paper. I am over the moon, so excited to have these things. Let me show you!
First up, this little bamboo pencil box. I honestly don't remember where we got this, but I hadn't seen it in years. Inside...
A stick! An old business card! And a little cloth bag...

"A stick? She's excited about a stick?" I know what you must be thinking. This little stick brought the biggest smile to my face, because I became verrry acquainted with that thing while working at the paper. You see, our little paper was just that - a little paper. When we got sales flyers to insert in the paper, they were often bigger than the paper itself. So, we had to fold them in half, one at a time. Our circulation was somewhere around 2,000, if I remember correctly, so my co-workers and I would stand around this tall, long table and fold, fold, fold..... We used thin, flat sticks like this as bone folders, to press the flyers flat once we folded them in half. You can see how well-worn this folding stick is, worn so smooth by thousands upon thousands of uses. It was a pretty boring job, but it had to be done, and it was fun to visit as we worked. My co-workers from the paper were some of the most wonderful people I've known.

The business card was my mom's. It's just a little memento, but I'm so glad to have it. She really was the world's best boss. I could write 10,000 words on that.

And that little cloth bag?
We used to special-order rubber stamps for customers from a company based in Salt Lake City, and when they would send the stamps to us, they mailed them in these little cotton drawstring bags with a hanging label. Can you imagine that? And postage to ship it was 54 cents! This one is postmarked 1985, which in my old brain doesn't seem like that long ago. Hard to believe this little bag is already 33 years old.

OK... ready for my favorite thing?
The paper printed letterpress Fourth-of-July programs on wooden slats for the community in 1941. Isn't it cool? (The photo is of the same program, showing front and back side-by-side.) You'll notice the words "under God" aren't in the pledge of allegiance - the words were added in 1954. And the program of events! Oh, how times have changed! (Click on the picture for a larger view.) I can only imagine how wild the "free-for-all race to Village Hall" was, and the winner got to raise the flag. A soap box derby, a salute to the flag via radio, led by President Roosevelt, and boxing and wrestling bouts in a ring on Main Street. Wow.... The town still has a fabulous Fourth of July celebration, with fireworks launched from a hill above town (watching the volunteer fire department put out all the spot fires is half the fun). If you're looking for the quintessential small-town Fourth of July, pack your bags for Challis, Idaho. "Idaho white pine, and plenty of it!"

Have a wonderful day, friends. Happy stitching!