Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dabbling in Design, Freebies and Spaghetti!

Hi, stitching friends!

I am so, so, so excited to share with you a new adventure! I've been wanting to design my own cross-stitch patterns for a while now, and I finally did it. Before I "retired" last year because of stupid cancer, I worked as a graphics designer, first for my hometown newspaper in central Idaho doing ad and page design, then in ad design and layout for a sports fundraising company in Boise. About a hundred years ago, I worked as a rodeo photographer and a web designer. I've had the design bug for as long as I can remember.

I wanted to do something that I could say was from me, from my imagination and from my heart. When I stitch a pattern I've purchased, it's so much fun, but coming up with something on my own has been such a rewarding, fun, fulfilling experience, like taking cross stitch to the next level.

It's a lot of work! Thinking, "How can I make this idea work? That's gonna be tough!" Silencing the internal critic. And trying to balance colors... phew! I've found that what looks good on screen often does not translate when I pick out colors, stitch the piece and find out that those colors are just... meh. Back to the drawing board again and again, but loving every second of the challenge. I remember reading on a blog by Seth Godin about approaching every challenge with one thought: This might work. Remember that: This might work. It's a great way to overcome self-doubt.

So there you have it... on to the designs!
I started by checking out a book from the local library called Charted Folk Designs for Cross-Stitch Embroidery, a selection of pattern snippets collected by Maria Foris from old samplers. It is a wonderful book. I charted some of the patterns as is, then changed them to fit my layout, changed colors (the book's original designs are in red and black only), and flat out changed some things until something in my brain went "yes!"

I stitched it once and decided that my colors were all wrong, so I chose different colors and stitched it again. That's the hardest part - choosing colors. There are just so many beautiful overdyed threads out there, it's hard to pick! But I am really happy with my final color selection. I sewed it into a little pillow, backing it with the fabric shown behind it, and attached some handmade cording - first time using my Kreinik cord maker, so be kind! It takes some getting used to.

If you would like to stitch this, here is the pattern.

Next, I wanted to try designing something more original. For inspiration, I turned to Charles Wysocki, one of my favorite artists. And, I used words from one of my favorite poets, E. E. Cummings. His poem [in Just-] is one of my favorites, and the words "Mud Luscious and Puddle Wonderful" are from that poem (and are a great example of assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds - I was an English major!).
This was so much fun to design! And that little piggy really threw me. It's hard to design itty bitty things! I finished it into a little pillow, backing it with the brown floral fabric in the yo-yo, and embellished the yo-yo with a brad from Stampin Up.

If you would like to stitch this little fella, here is the pattern.

If you stitch either one of these, would you please send me a link to a photo? I would love to see!

My son is 15 now, and it has been a goal of mine to make sure this young man knows how to cook. He knows how to make the basics, like pancakes and scrambled eggs, and has even attempted Philly cheese steaks with beer-cheese sauce. I bought him The Culinary Bro-Down cookbook by Josh Scherer for Christmas. It's full of F bombs and recipes that use beer - apparently a staple in "manly" cooking. He loves this book. If you have a young man in your life who thinks cooking is woman's work, get him this book!
He is taking "teen living" (what was called home ec when I went to school), and his teacher taught them how to make spaghetti with meat sauce. He made this for us last week, and it was so good, and so much better than any sauce out of a jar. Psssst.... don't tell him you saw his photo on my blog. When I started this blog, he said, "OK, Mom, but keep me out of it!" Whoops. Hey, proud mama here. Couldn't resist.
Later this week, my wonderful husband and I are heading to one of our favorite spots on earth, the Oregon coast. (Our son is not into scenery, so he will be home over Spring Break with Grandma. Going out to movies and dinner and staying up late to play online games - that is his idea of vacation.) When we go to Oregon, we usually stay in Newport in a hotel on the beach, but this year, we are going with friends and staying in a condo in Depoe Bay. So looking forward to showing them our favorite sites, including Nye Beach (photo above... it's impossible to take a bad photo with that light), Nana's Irish Pub and the Christmas shop in Lincoln City.

Until next time, friends! Happy stitching!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A fun, new way to finish

Hello, stitching friends!

This past month, I've been busy working on some fun projects and trying to finish a few things in my unfinished stack. I have this pile of needlework finishes on my ironing board, waiting to be framed or sewn into pillows or ornaments. Unfortunately, the ironing board is perched in front of the treadmill, much to the dismay of my 15-year-old, who has been wanting to get in some weekend workouts inside rather than face the dreary March weather outside. Winter has caught up to us, after all. I could put the ironing board away, but he hasn't pushed very hard for that. I think we are all enjoying our lazy weekends.

Watering Can by Marjolein Bastin, stitched over two on 25-count antique white evenweave by MCG Textiles.

First up is Watering Can from Marjolein Bastin's "The Four Seasons." It's from a 2000 publication from Lanarte by Leisure Arts. I found this really cute wooden plaque at Michael's and thought it would be a nice alternative to framing. When I measured and planned the project, I planned on stitching it on 28-count linen. That's what I thought I was doing, until the stitching started looking like it wasn't going to fit on the piece of fabric I cut. Turns out, the fabric was mislabeled, and I was stitching on 25-count! Luckily, I had just figured in enough border that I could still work with it.
I mounted the stitching on foam core, stitching down the corners and lacing the back (see photo on next project below to see what this looks like), then I hot-glued it on the back to the wood plaque. I attached some pretty gold and cream braided cording to the side with 1/2" sequin pins and voilah! Super easy, super cute finish.
I finished my next project in a similar fashion. This is a view of the back of the stitching mounted on foam core with corners stitched down and lacing on the back.
I attached jute cording to the sides with a simple whip stitch.

"A Bee C Sampler" by Country Cottage Needleworks, stitched over two on 32-count lambswool linen with suggested DMC and overdyed threads.

And... ta da! I mounted the stitching to the wooden plaque, which then went into the back of this rustic frame by Jillibean Soup, available at Joann Fabric. It's so rustic and cute! Originally, I had wanted to frame it in the frame suggested by Country Cottage Needleworks, a cute white frame by The Family Tree, but I could not find this frame anywhere! I even wrote to the framing company, and even they could not find a retailer. I wrote to Stoney Creek with no response, so I just thought, "Well, figure something out, then." Isn't it frustrating when you can't find what you need or want? But then sometimes it pushes you to go out on a limb and try something new.
I'll leave you with my March cottage by Country Cottage Needleworks, stitched on 32-count lambswool linen. I adore the little sheep in this one, don't you? So cute! But can you imagine walking out that front door and running into a sheep as tall as the door? No wonder all the lights are turned off in the house. The people are hiding!

Quick question for you. Have any of you ever tried dyeing your own threads? I experimented a bit this past week with coffee-dyeing some old DMC threads, and while they did change a little bit, it certainly was not worth the time I spent doing it. I bought some tan Rit dye and plan to play with it a little bit, but I am curious to know if any of you have had success and how you did it. I would like to give some old threads a "new, antique" look (how's that for an oxymoron?) and use them here and there on ornaments and other small projects.

I hope March brings you lots of sunshine and time to stitch!