Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Last-Minute Halloween Finishes...and a Freebie!

Hi, stitching friends!

"Finishing" is a four-letter word to me. I just don't enjoy the process. I stress out about making mistakes, ruining my stitching, not being perfect. I know some of you feel the same way (I read your comments!).

But a couple of things have happened lately that have changed my perspective.

1. Work has been CRAZY busy. So I have hardly had time to stitch, let alone finish things. And I am stubborn. If you tell me I can't do something, I want to do it.

2. During a "Real Housewives of Cross Stitch" (Priscilla and Chelsea) video lately, Priscilla made an off-hand comment that went something like this: "What? Are the cross-stitch police going to come and get me?" I still laugh every time I think about that. Who are we trying to please?

3. Seth Godin's blog from years ago when he said the key to trying new things (and succeeding) is living by the mantra: THIS MIGHT WORK. It might not work. But hey, how will you know if you don't try?

4. If I mess up and have to stitch something over again, so what? I had fun stitching it the first time. Why would the second be any different?

So, with that being said, I have three (THREE!) finishes to show you. I have been a busy girl the last couple of days.

Halloween House Trio
by Waxing Moon Designs
Stitched on 28-count coffee/tea-dyed linen with called-for over-dyed threads
(except for DMC 310 when I ran out of Wrought Iron!) 

I mounted each of the stitches on sticky board, then glued them to black felt. I cut out around each one with pinking shears.

My mom had purchased this extra-long frame at a thrift store for another project. It didn't work out for that, so I kept it and painted it with black chalk paint. I attached some fall flowers and a burlap/plaid bow at the top, then added some ribbons across the inside of the frame to resemble clothes lines. I used miniature clothes pins to attach each stitch to the lines.
The "Tricks" house.... I love the little ghost and the swirly smoke.
The "Halloween" house. I love, love, love "Fragrant Cloves" for the word Halloween. It's in my top-five favorite overdyed thread colors.
The "Treats" house. That ghost! So cute.

The next finish I have to show you is "Midnight" by Barbara Ana Designs.

Midnight by Barbara Ana Designs
Stitched on 28-count antique white Monaco
with DMC threads
I love the colors in this. Never in a million years would I have chosen teal for a Halloween piece. And I love the green skin of the witches, don't you? The only color I changed in this was in the main basket at the top. I used a lighter gray for the decorative pattern in the bowl. It originally called for a much darker gray that I didn't think provided enough contrast.
I mounted the stitching on foam core using the traditional lacing method. I cut circles from various colors of wool felt I purchased from Sweet Emma Jean on Etsy and blanket stitched the edges. Then I glued them around a plaque I picked up at Hobby Lobby, covering up the sentiment that was painted on the plaque. I liked the leafy things on the ends (there is a word for them, but I can't think of it... laurels, maybe?) so I let them show. Then I glued the mounted stitched piece over the top. Voila!
Love those witches!

Freebie time!

Don't you just love freebies? I do. And I'm so enamored by the freebies over at La Comtesse & Le Point De Croix. Her work is so lovely. The colors. The feminine touches. The leaves and flowers. Pretty.

Pumpkin House by La Comtesse & Le Point De Croix
Stitched on 32-count Winter Brew by R&R Reproductions
with WDW and TGA overdyed threads
I stitched "Pumpkin House" a week or two ago, and today I finished it into my very first flat-fold! Thank you, Vonna, for your awesome tutorial. It was a lot of fun to finish - I'm not kidding. I did just say "fun" and "finish" in the same sentence. (I did spew a few swear words while trying to make my cording - I always do.)
You can find the pattern for "Pumpkin House" right here. She does not list the colors she used, and I wish I knew which color she used for the words because it is GORGEOUS. So I made due with the colors I had: DMC 310, Weeks Dye Works (WDW) Sage, WDW Carrot, The Gentle Art (TGA) Shaker White, TGA Mulberry, TGA Fragrant Cloves, and TGA Banker's Grey. I think it turned out sweet!
Here is my new flat-fold nestled in with my other fall finishes and Halloween decor.

Happy Halloween, friends! I hope you have tons of fun. Until next time, happy stitching!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Black Cat Hollow, Autumn Leaves and a Freebie

Hi, stitching friends!

I hope this finds you all enjoying the last warm days of autumn, with plenty of time to stitch. Our weather is typical for Idaho this time of year - frost in the mornings, then mid- to late-60s in the afternoon, with blankets ready for curling up in the evenings. I can't decide how to dress each morning. A hoodie is great for staving off the cold in the morning, but by midday I'm sweating and asking, "What was I thinking?" So lately, since I have the luxury of being able to do so, I've been staying in pajamas until late morning (or early afternoon, if I'm working!). Problem solved.

I have not been able to do as much stitching as I would like lately. I have put in some long (up to 12-hour) days typesetting. I have never been so thankful to have cross-stitch as a hobby. It's such a great way to relax and unwind.

"Black Cat Hollow"
by Barbara Ana Designs
Stitched on 32-count Dark Cobblestone Lugana
Called-for DMC threads
I'm excited to show you "Black Cat Hollow," a 3-part sampler by Barbara Ana Designs. I purchased the PDF downloads from Creative Poppy as they were released. I mounted the stitched piece on sticky board, then mounted some black-and-white homespun on cardboard and attached the layers with magnets onto a metal sign I picked up at Hobby Lobby. (The metal sign was originally white with metal words attached that said "Good Things Take Time," but the word "Things" was mounted upside down! I bought this "defective" sign on purpose because I knew I would be taking the words off and painting the sign with black chalk paint.) I made a bow - Priscilla and Chelsea style - with some black plaid ribbon and some fall foliage picks. I'm thrilled with how it turned out.
Taking a cue from Priscilla, I hot-glued the bow and foliage to the stitched piece, rather than the black sign, so I can reuse the black metal base to display another seasonal project.
Don't you just love those mischievous little witches? They are definitely up to something wicked.

I have so many Halloween-themed projects finished, but not fully finished, and I'm anxious to show them to you. My craft room/office is a DISASTER. When I first started staying home, I tackled each room of my house, purging and organizing. But since then, the chaos has crept back in and it's obvious I need another go at this room. At the time I first organized the room, I was still doing a lot of card-making. I have a LOT of paper, rubber stamps and embellishments taking up space. While I'm not ready to give them up, I would like to put them in storage so I can have a better space for finishing cross-stitch projects. I'm looking forward to the workload slowing down in the coming weeks so I can get this done.

Autumn Leaves

"Autumn Leaves"
by The Prairie Schooler
Stitched on 28-count white Irish linen with called-for DMC threads
and limited-edition "Ginger Cake" thread by The Gentle Art
The next project I have to show is "Autumn Leaves" by The Prairie Schooler. I actually stitched and finished this last autumn, before I started my blog. I used the called-for DMC threads, but I substituted "Ginger Cake" by The Gentle Art for some of the words ("said the," "to the," etc.). I received the skein as a thank-you freebie from an Jen at Jen's Stitching Niche on Etsy and I was anxious to use it. Unfortunately, it's a limited edition color, so I'm not sure about its availability.
I followed the cube tutorial from LHN (for their Hometown Holiday series) to finish it. The best part? NO sewing required! None! I had purchased this gorgeous autumn leaves fabric from a quilting store in Whidbey Island, WA, more than 20 years ago (!) and have had it in my stash all this time, waiting for the perfect project.
I used flat, wide beads attached with pins as "legs" for the cube, and I just love it. Every time I see it on the cabinet in my entryway, it makes me happy.

A Fall Freebie

A big thank you to Beth at Garden Grumbles and Cross-Stitch Fumbles for bringing the newest Lizzie Kate freebie, "Moon Over Blackbird," to my attention! Look how cute!
I couldn't wait to get started on this, but I did not have all the suggested overdyed threads. I substituted for some of the colors (my substitutions: WDW Grasshopper, Seagull, Deep Sea, Whitewash and Chrysanthemum, and CC Pumpkin Harvest). Here's my finished (but not fully finished yet) stitch:

"Moon Over Blackbird"
Freebie by Lizzie*Kate
Stitched on 32-count coffee/tea-dyed linen
with suggested/substituted overdyed threads
I wanted the pumpkin to have a vertical-striped look, like a real pumpkin, so I outlined it then filled in the stitches going up and down rather than side to side. It was a fun, quick stitch. Thanks, Beth, and thank you, Lizzie Kate!

Adventures in Driving

My son, who is going to turn 16 in December, is taking driver's ed. He's doing well, and he is loving the driving experiences. The school where we have him enrolled has very fancy cars for the students to learn in. His first driving experience was in a 2018 Ford Mustang convertible, and he drove in rush-hour traffic around the mall. He did so well, his driving instructor asked him if we had been letting him drive in the city already! (We haven't.) His dad lets him drive pickups in the corrals at the ranch, and on some of the tiny back roads around the ranch, but this was his first city-driving experience. 

The second time he drove, it was in a $75,000 pickup. It will be quite a shock to his system when he has to drive his mom and dad's cars. We drive old Hondas (Hondas last forever if you take care of them), and mine is the "newest." It's a 2006 CR-V with 108,000 miles on it! My husband's car is a 1996 Honda Civic with more than 300,000 miles on it, and our other "good" car is a 2004 Honda Accord with more than 200,000 miles on it! When it comes to cars, we are firm believers in "use it up, wear it out." I get my "new car" fix when we vacation in Oregon and I get to drive a new rental car for a week.

My son says his first car is going to be a Ford Mustang GT350. I asked him how much it costs, and he said, "Only about $50,000." Dreams.....

Well, I'd better get back to work. It was fun sharing with you, friends, and I look forward to hearing from you. When you take the time to comment, it's like getting "happy mail" in my inbox. So thank you! Have a great week, and I will be back next week with more to share, and hopefully some finishes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Santa Ornaments Giveaway Winner!

Hi, stitching friends!

A quick hello this time - my typesetting gig has gotten super busy this week, so I can only spare a few minutes to post the winner of my Santa ornaments giveaway.

And the winner is...

Arlene Grimm!

Congrats, Arlene! Please send your mailing address to me and I will get that out to you as soon as possible. (Click on my name by the "About Me" section at the top right of this page and it will take you to a page with a "Contact Me" link.)

I will be back in a few days with some fun fall and Halloween finishes. Until then, be well and I hope you find lots of time to stitch.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A New Finish and a Giveaway!

Hi, stitching friends!

"Two Red Houses" by Little House Needleworks
16-count rustico/natural Aida
Called-for DMC threads with two exceptions
(substituted DMC 640 for ecru in fence and white for ecru in checkerboard)
It has been a wonderful week in my world. No appointments, which means my days were my own. I've had a few busy nights with typesetting for my at-home gig, but nothing overwhelming, and the extra money is nice. It helps balance the budget for the shopping I've been doing lately! I have a mountain of projects to finish so I've been on the hunt for things to embellish, ribbons, fabric, and so on. This weekend, I went to Hobby Lobby for the first time in my life (can you believe it?), and oh, baby, I am in love. So many pretty things...
I love my latest finish, "Two Red Houses" by Little House Needleworks. I stitched it on 16-count rustico/natural aida with DMC threads. I substituted white for ecru, and I used DMC 640 to stitch the fence because the called-for thread (ecru), and even white, didn't show up at all on this fabric. I stitched the farthest-left segment of the fence three or four times trying to decide which color to use! I like my final choice.
I mounted it on sticky board and glued some lacy trim on the back. My husband found a nice old board for me at the ranch, and I cut it down to size and added a natural bow to give it a little extra pop (and to cover the cut I made on the left side of the board, which was less than perfect!). I adore how it turned out, and it's a great addition to our guest room.

My first giveaway!

I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to my faithful readers. I don't have many followers, but that doesn't matter to me. Each time you take a moment to leave a comment, it means the world to me. When I started this blog, I wanted to meet people who share my love of cross stitch and to have an outlet for sharing my work. Because of this blog, I have met some of the most wonderful people I could hope to know. So whether my following is 35 or 350, I appreciate you and am so glad to know you.
What is your favorite thing you found at a thrift store or yard sale?

In previous posts, I've mentioned the great secondhand store in my hometown, the HUB. On a visit there this summer, I found this sweet ornament kit - "Traditional Santa Ornaments" by Janlynn, and I'd like to offer it as a giveaway. The kit includes heavy-duty perforated paper for the Santas, but you could stitch them on any fabric and finish them as pillows, or use fabric stiffener on aida or evenweave if you don't like working on perforated paper. Look at their beards! So cute! The kit includes everything you would need to complete the ornaments, including jingle bells and star sequins.

If you would like to enter the giveaway, please be a sidebar follower and leave a comment letting me know you would like to enter. I will draw and announce a winner Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

Happy stitching! Have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


A couple of years ago I had dinner with my friend Alicia and her daughter, Steff. It was October. Steff, a senior in high school, was just finishing her final year of school, but just barely. She had missed months of school while she underwent surgery, chemo and radiation for a brain tumor.

There was a sign on our table that said "October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month! FREE appetizer if you donate to breast cancer awareness!"


We talked about how it's hard for someone struggling with NOT breast cancer to wade through the sea of pink in October. Steff said she felt invisible, that her cancer was somehow less important.

I know some of you can relate.

Let me just say this now. You do matter. You are not invisible.

And I am annoyed by Pinktober.

As a "former" breast cancer survivor, now that I have metastatic disease (cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other tissues), I'm not sure what to call myself now. I'm not technically a survivor (unless they figure out a cure...), but I'm not dead, either. I'm very much alive, doing the best I can on the drugs that are available to me, hoping beyond hope that they come up with new treatments that will keep me alive long enough for someone to find a cure.

Those of us with metastatic disease refer to October as "Pinktober." For us, breast cancer is not something we've "beaten." Some of us have been asked to leave breast-cancer support groups because we scare the other people there (seriously - I'm not making this up). And the statistics about breast cancer are woefully misleading. Only those who were diagnosed initially with stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer are counted as metastatic. (So the number of "successfully treated" patients is artificially inflated.)

What does this mean? I was first diagnosed in 2005 with early-stage breast cancer and I completed treatment, so therefore I am counted as "successfully treated." My breast cancer came back years later (I was diagnosed with metastatic disease in 2013). Only when I die from this disease (and I will, since metastatic breast cancer has a 0% survival rate), will I be counted among the metastatic statistics.

And why is this important? From the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) website:

"According to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance’s Landscape Analysis, which analyzed research grants from the major cancer research-funding agencies around the world, research funding for metastatic breast cancer accounts for only 7% of the total breast cancer research investment. Without an ACCURATE count of the number people currently living with Stage IV breast cancer, that number is unlikely to change."

Each Pinktober, my thoughts turn to the friends I've met because of this disease, and lost to this disease - Carey, Trina, Dani. And I think of friends who are battling cancer - not just breast cancer - Steff, George, Jenny and Scott, Jo, Judy, Sheila and Sheila, Walt. You are NOT invisible. You matter.

People have said to me over the years that they admire my strength and positivity. If I am strong, it's because I had no other choice. If I am positive, it's because for me, that was my only option. Being negative isn't going to help! But choosing to hope... that's something.

If you would like to stitch my "I am strong" sentiment (I made mine into a magnet), you can get the pattern here. You don't have to stitch the ribbon in pink. I've included a small chart with some ribbon colors for other types of cancer.