Saturday, September 05, 2015

Happy holiday weekend...catching up with my progress

It's finally September - yippee!  It's still hot here in the desert Southwest but the temperatures are starting to fall just a bit so we're making progress. August was really a scorcher this year - happy to bid summer goodbye soon.

I just got back from a trip to my LNS to pick up my framing of "Hannah's Brownstone" by The Scarlett Letter.  I love how it turned out!  I don't really have a place to hang it but I think I'll put it out on a little easel.  I really enjoyed this piece.

A couple weeks ago I finished up the SAL I was doing with a stitching buddy....may I present "Strawberry Fields Forever" by Blackbird Designs.   It's waiting its turn in the 'need framing' pile - this was a fun piece to do also. I made a couple slight adjustments in the border from what was charted....the chart has a couple 'missing' strawberries which my orderly mind felt the need to add in.

Do you ever wonder why it is that we keep buying more and more charts with similar motifs on them?  I can't count how many charts I have with houses, flowers and vines, birds, etc.  Yet I keep on buying more all the time!   I've noticed recently that it seems every other pattern I'm stitching or framing has a fruit basket on it - what's up with all the fruit baskets?!?  I'm really getting tired of stitching them - enough already!

I'm still trying to get a few Christmas ornaments stitched, I want to go back next year to trying to get one done each month.  This year I've only done 3 or 4 but here's my latest finish.   I added a little red swirl on the top of the piece so I could make the shape something other than just a plain rectangle.  This is also my first time using the miniature pom-pom trim - I've bought it in lots of colors just hadn't gotten a chance to use it yet.  It turned out pretty well don't you think?

I love doing ornaments. I've got a huge quilting project bag that I keep all my ornament supplies in - all the patterns I want to stitch, different bags of linen scraps organized by size, pages copied out of my many JCS ornament magazines, etc.  It's easy to kit up a project and all I have to do is grab the threads and I'm ready to go.  I could easily keep myself busy for at least a  year just stitching ornaments that's for sure!

I'm starting to get used to being retired.  It's kind of hard to turn your thoughts away from what's happening at work but I've been pretty busy getting various paperwork chores done to transfer our benefits over, handle my 401K savings account, and file for my pension.   I'm ready to start receiving that check each month!   Not saying I'll never work again...I may do some contracting or some part-time work just for extra money for trips and things like that but I don't have to and that's the good thing about it.  

I joined a Facebook SAL recently to stitch an older pattern by Imaginating - it's called "The Lord's Blessing".   I had already saved off the photo below of a stitcher's framed piece I saw on Jill Rensel's blog a few years ago.  When I heard there was a group starting up to do an SAL I was ready to jump on board.  I love how Jill framed this piece and want to do mine the same way when I'm done. I just started it 2 days ago so not very much to share yet in my progress photo but it's fun stitching along with everyone.  You know, it's fun to buy and get excited about all the new patterns that come out every year but I think it's great that there's still enough interest in a 10-year old pattern that a whole bunch of stitchers still want to stitch it!

Title this next paragraph under "more than one way to finish a project"..............

Since I retired I've gotten a little obsessed with wanting to get all my UFO's and WIP's under control. I've got a bunch of really old projects I want either done or off my list as they're sort of weighing on my concience.  Some of you might remember the French Alphabet Sampler that was really popular about 10 years ago.  It was a customized pattern you ordered and buried in the various alphabets that made up the sampler would be your initials, last name, names of loved ones, pets, etc.  I remember justifying the cost of the pattern to my husband back when I ordered it in 2003 -  $45.00 for a pattern was a lot to pay back then  (and frankly, it still is).  I finished almost 3 pages of the pattern but there were TWELVE pages in total and I hadn't worked on it in years.  This thing is huge!  The size of the stitched piece was about 22" square.  I really didn't enjoy stitching on it obviously....and I didn't like the color of linen I had used in combination with the red silk, and to tell you the truth I really don't want such a huge sampler.  It would take me  years to ever finish it, plus it would cost a fortune to frame and I have nowhere to even put it.  So I decided to kill it off!  It took a bit of bravery but I cut off the part I had stitched, took a final picture of it and threw it away.  I salvaged the leftover linen which I can use for other things.  So it's one big heavy UFO off my list!  I felt bad for a little while but overall, I'm glad it's gone!

That's all my stitchy news.....I also recently finished a T-shirt quilt as a birthday quilt for one of my brothers.  I used t-shirts of his that he no longer wears and I also added in a few that I purchased from favorite places of his or things that I know he likes.   I just mailed it off and hope he likes it when he receives it.   I found a nice backing fabric that has darts, pool and other masculine motifs on it and it worked out well with the colors of the quilt.    It's the first t-shirt quilt I've made but I'm also making a few for my husband as he had a huge collection of t-shirts he's saved from sporting events and places we've visited.  They're a lot of work to make but it's a nice way to preserve memories. 

That's all for today friends.   Happy fall!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Some happy news and finishes to share!

Well the day finally arrived - I retired last week!  I had been thinking about it for next spring but the stresses of work were getting to me and I decided to move up my timeline.  It's going to take me some time to get used to not worrying about work all the time but I'm looking forward to all the things I will be able to do with the added time. I'll also be able to help my husband more as his job is stressful too so it's all good.  It will be good to finally have more time for blogging and reading other people's blogs - I know a lot of people have given up blogging but I'm not ready to throw it away yet although I admit that Facebook groups are taking a lot of my time.   I've already started a massive list of "things I want to do at home now that I'm retired"!  I've got thousands of photographs and momentoes I want to get organized, file cabinets I need to go through, etc etc not to mention a massive stash of stitching and quilting projects!

I do have some finishes to share at least.  This is Hannah's Brownstone by The Scarlett House. I had such fun stitching this one!  The house takes a long time to do but I loved it so didn't mind . I used a different linen than what comes in the kit - I used Lakeside Linen's Vintage Buttercream which is a favorite of mine.  All the floss is what the chart calls for.

Below is a little finish from Heartstring Samplery called "Instead of Sheep". I love the verse on this as it reminds me of the movie White Christmas when Bing Crosby sings this to Rosemary Clooney.  I changed out the sheep that was charted for a freebie one I found online.   It's framed in a dark green frame - it looks a little black-ish in this photo but in real life it matches the stitched border very well.  

I met a lady at the Primitive Stitchers Retreat in Virginia in May who does framing in her home. Her name is Patti Nicolosi.  I sent her the above piece and another one that I'd had laying around for years unframed - see it below.  She did a great job on both of them - I picked out the moldings from a website she uses and then she ordered the frames, mounted the pieces and put it all together.  I was very pleased with Patti's work and it was very fast too.

This is "Quakers & Quilts" from Rosewood Manor. I stitched it on 40-ct linen a few years ago and it's great to see it finally framed. I plan to hang it near another Quaker sampler I did as they go well together. I remember how thrilled I was to put the last stitch in this piece - there was a ton of back-stitching to do and it took a long time to stitch this but I got it done. 

I fell in love with this ornament everyone has been stitching - Snow Love by Country Cottage Needleworks. I do all my own finishing work and this was fun to do. I love it!  The polka-dot linen is so much fun to use, I'm looking forward to stitching some more pieces on it. 

And below is a little project I re-worked.  I had it framed and displayed many many years ago but my framing tastes have changed since then as well as the decor where I had it displayed. I had it put away for a few years and then I decided to take it apart and do something else with it.  So I gave the frame away to a friend and I made a little mini-quilt out of the stitched piece to display on my little wire stand.  I think it came out pretty cute and now I can enjoy it again. I've long since gotten rid of this chart and I don't remember what the name of this was or the designer but I'm sort of thinking it might have been a chart by Theron Traditions. It was a long time ago!

So here's how it looked framed and how it looks now.  It felt good to give it a new life.

Right now I'm stitching along on Blackbird Designs 'Strawberry Fields Forever'  - doing an SAL with my pal Cindy.  We enjoy doing SALs - keeps us going on projects so they don't turn in to UFO's!

For those of you still out there reading blogs I thank you for stopping by and I look forward to having more time to spend catching up with all of you!  My job has just consumed so much of my life the last couple of years with work travel and long hours - I'm so thankful to now have more time to do the things I love!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summertime and stitching happiness...........

Hello dear we are again and it's summertime already. We had a beautiful and mild spring here in Arizona which is unusual and we really enjoyed it.  We're just starting now to get our hot summer weather.

My stitching life has been busy but happily so!  I went a retreat organized by  the Primitive Stichers Society (Facebook stitching group) in Colonial Williamsburg at the beginning of May - had a fabulous time!!   It was my first stitching retreat but not my last I can tell you that for sure.  I got to meet my cyber-stitching pal Cindy finally -we've corresponded and shared our love for stitching online for a few years now, plus I got to meet Faye of Carolina Stitcher, lots of other wonderful stitchers and some designers as well - Nan from Threadwork Primitives, Kathy Barrick  from Carriage House Samplings fame, Lori Brechlin from Norforgotten Farm, and Elizabeth Talledo from Dames of the Needle.  I felt so blessed to be able to go.  We had a finishing class with Lori Brechlin and a punchneedle class with  Kathy Barrick.  I must say that punchneedle was harder to learn than I thought it would be but with more practice I think I will be fine.   I have to master it as I have patterns and kits in my stash that I need to make!

Here's a few photos from the retreat.......

Here we are finally meeting after communicating online for 3 years -
my cyber-stitching pal Cindy and me

Our stitching table of friends - what a great group!
Designer Kathy Barrick (left) and me - a thrill to meet one of
my all-time favorite designers!

There's a wonderful store called Yankee Candle Village that was near my  hotel in Williamsburg. It had a fabulous Christmas store in it with several rooms of Dept 56 village displays - absolutely gorgeous! 

They even have a Downton Abbey buiding now with the Dowager Countess -
it's a good thing I don't have room for all this but it sure was fun to see it.

And speaking of stash....they had a fabulous vendor mall at the retreat and we all shopped 'til we dropped.  I spent a bundle but enjoyed every minute of it having never been to a stitching event like this before.  

I went a little crazy at the vendor mall but love all of it!

Here was the exchange gift I made for the retreat exchange that was held on the last evening of the retreat, plus a photo of the gift I received. I stitched Stacy Nash's "Spotted Hare Pinkeep Drum" and I  made some carrot pins out of Fimo clay to go with the pincushion. I got a great gift - a primitive-style pincushion mounted onto a lovely fabric-covered box.  I think everyone who came had a great time and I highly recommend it if you are part of the PSS Facebook group and get a chance to attend.  Next year's event will be held in Atlanta, not sure if I'll be able to go (a long way for this Arizona gal) but I do intend to try to go as often as I can.

In April I made a quilted stitching bag for myself to take to the retreat.   I found this great travel-themed fabric a year or so ago and it worked out great - I also made some coordinating project bags to use with the bag - it has pockets to store my portable light, magnetic board and stand, and I made a little travel tag to hold my 'business' card as well.  I'm very happy with it.

My quilted stitching bag with travel-themed fabric

Inside of bag with covered bottom insert
 and pockets all around

Coordinating project bags 

I've had a few finishes lately.  Below is the first project from the Colonial Gatherings stitching club I joined this year.   I haven't decided if I want to get it framed or make something with it.    This piece gave me a lot of headaches...nothing wrong with the pattern but I made so many mistakes it seemed like I was constantly frogging. GRRRRR  One problem I have is I like to use 36-ct linen but I find that using only 1 thread of cotton over-dyes doesn't give me the coverage I like, but 2 strands sometimes can be a little hard to fit in and tough to frog if you have to.  I really prefer one strand of silk on 36-ct but don't always want to do conversions from cottons to silks.  I started with the flowers on this project and after getting about halfway done with them I was unhappy with the coverage and I ended up going back over the flowers with an additional half-stitch of floss to get the coverage I wanted. But in the end I'm happy with this project.

"Hurt Not the Earth" by Paulette Stewart of Plum Street Samplers

I also picked up some framing don't laugh but I stitched this sampler 25 years ago!!  Yes, it's sat rolled up in tissue paper since 1990.   It even has my maiden initials as I stitched it right before I got married.   I don't know why I kept putting off getting it framed...somehow it kept getting pushed to the bottom of the pile yet it turned out much nicer than I thought it would.    I stitched this using Ginny Thompson flower thread which is kind of like wool thread - it was popular for awhile in the late 80's.   Funny framer called me and said she found a couple missing stitches in the border and she wanted to know if I still had the chart so she could see what color thread to use. Well I didn't have the chart but I still had the leftover threads even after all these years so I took them to her and she slipped in the missing stitches for me. 

Finally framed!   "Ella's Sampler" from Pat Rogers

Here is one of my current WIPs - it's "Hannah's Brownstone" by The Scarlett House.  The house took a long time to stitch with all the bricks and details but I'm loving this project.

That's all for today...I have a couple other items I'll save for my next post.  

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Happy Easter!

We're celebrating with Easter dinner tonite as we have some relatives in town who are coming over.  Thought I'd share my "lamb cake 2015" with you and a couple photos of some beautiful blooming trees on our block. We've had lovely weather the last few weeks and so enjoying it before the hot weather starts to come in  May.  

Due to getting ready to host dinner tonite and doing all the prep work I've designated tomorrow as 'do nothing" day - doing nothing but stitching and going out to dinner!  Should be great. I've been working on my gift exchange for the Primitive Stitchers Society retreat the end of April.  Amost done with the stitching but then have the finishing work to do.  Pardon the wrinkles, it's still a work in progress.   At the end of the retreat we'll draw names for the gift exchange and this is going to the one I'll be bringing.

Easter lamb cake

Blooming "orchid" tree

blooming Palo Verde tree

Stacy Nash Spotted Hair Pinkeep Drum

Monday, March 09, 2015

Ornament finish, some WIPS and Stash Sale

I recently finished this LHN ornament called "It's Snow Cold".  I'd seen a photo of one made like this on Pinterest last year and I was obsessed with figuring out how to do it.  The stitched ornament is mounted onto a plastic ornament with what I call a "flattened round" shape.  It's not totally round so you're able to glue the fabric onto the shape and not have pleats or wrinkles if you smooth it out.   I made one for a friend for Christmas but finally got the one for myself finished last week.   I've made a tutorial for this type of ornament finish on a separate page of my blog which you can access above.

I changed the charted colors a little bit because I wanted the stitched piece to match the cute snowman fabric I bought last year. The color in the photo isn't just right but the linen is a pale aqua color.   I'm glad I figured this finishing method out and hope to adapt some other ornament charts to this type of finish.

I've got a couple of new starts going.  This year I joined the Colonial Gatherings stitching club at the Dyeing to Stitch LNS in Virginia.  The first kit sent out is "Hurt Not the Earth" from Plum Street Samplers. It uses a quote from John Adams.  That darn Mr. Frog has been visiting me on this piece but I made it to the second page of the chart finally! 

I also am stitching another LHN chart - Old Nantucket.  I've been wanting to stitch this one ever since it was published a few years ago and I've had it kitted up for over a year.  It's being stitched on 35-ct Weeks Cocoa linen with overdyed flosses.  Not much to show yet but I'm enjoying it!

Ever since helping my husband clean out my FIL's house last year when he moved I've had the urge to clean up/throw out/organize things. I need to get rid of some of the charts I've already stitched or not going to stitch so I've added a separate page to my blog for stash selling.  I've offered some free charts you can choose from should you decide you want to buy anything (US sales only please, it costs too much for international sales for these small amounts).

Today was a good mail day!  I used up most of a gift certificate I had from Christmas to 123 Stitch online shop.  I got the rest of the 6 Fat Men series from Lizzie Kate, and some of that polka dot linen I've been seeing used for ornament stitching . Love how it looks like snowflakes.   You can never have too many ornament charts I guess!

I also got this cute Crossed Wing pattern - our first dog was a sable & white Sheltie who looked just like the dog in this chart.  Our dog Elvis has been gone since 2003 but I just loved this chart since I saw a model at The Silver Needle in Tulsa. I want to stitch it to remember him by.  

That's all for today folks, thanks for stopping in.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm still here!

Hello fellow bloggers and dear readers....I've neglected my poor blog for way too long but 2014 was a crazy year for me with family issues and all sorts of life events and things just fell off the track.   I'm trying to get back into some kind of normal routine this year and want to get back to blogging a bit more regularly.   I also finally caved in and joined Facebook last fall.  I've enjoyed joining some stitching groups but it does take some of my time.  However, I don't want to quit blogging so need to find time to balance both.

Even while not blogging, I try to stitch whenever I can and haven't lost my love of stitching at all.   In fact...I'm so excited - I'm going to a stitching retreat the end of April!  I've always wanted to attend one somewhere and since I'm a member of the Primitive Stitchers Society on Facebook I decided to go their retreat in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.   I will be taking a class with one of my all-time favorite designers - Kathy Barrick!  Woohoo!  I'm also taking a punchneedle class with Lori Brechlin from Notforgotten Farm.  Plus there will be a vendor mall and I'm getting to meet up with a cyber stitching friend whom I've corresponded with for a few years now.  I can't wait!

Here's some photos of what I've been doing the past 6 months...I'm making an effort to get through that pile of stitching items that need 'finishing'  - either getting them framed or made into a flatfold, pillow, etc.   I'm delighted that the pile is getting much shorter!

First up is this sampler from Heartstring Samplery which I got framed - this is "Forever Young".  I did an SAL with a friend and we loved stitching this piece.

This is also a piece I got framed in time to display it for Christmas last year - this is "Winter Silhouette" from Imaginating.  I wish I could get a better photo but the glass interferes with the blue color.  I display this one on a little easel as it's short and wide so works well on an easel instead of  hanging.

Below is a little project that I've been doing for a couple years now.  Several years ago I stitched this entire year of Shepherds Bush monthly-themed pieces ("A Year in Stithced") and I had a frame made that I rotated them in and out of each month.  However...I never really liked the frame too much so gradually I took all 12 of them apart and made them into little pillows that I could display each month.  I was so happy to get the last couple done in December!  I like them so much better this way so I guess it was worth all the trouble.

This is "Plum Pudding" by JBW Designs.  I made it into a little stand with a Christmas fabric border and an easel in back.  I'm using this method of finishing more often now that I'm gotten pretty good at it. I don't want to get every little piece I stitch framed - I'm running out of wall space and you all know how expensive framing can be. I'd rather put my framing money towards my bigger pieces.

Above is another easel-type finish I did.  This is Goode Huswif's 'Ida Mae Crow'. I stitched it a few years ago - it's out of print now but I suppose you might find it now and then on eBay.  I love how it turned out and I had a little crow I had made that fits right in with it.

This Halloween piece I made for a very good friend of mine that I work with.  As soon as I saw this pattern by Sue Hillis ("Yes I Can!") I knew I had to make it for her.  My friend loves driving a stick-shift car and she loves Halloween and witches. It couldn't have been more perfect and I found some great matching fabric in my quilting stash.  That's one good thing about having a large quilting stash....I almost never have to go buy fabric for something!

Just in time for Thanksgiving last year I finished up this cube of "Thankful Quaker" by Bent Creek.  I changed up the colors quite a bit in this as I thought there was too much brown. I basically pulled some pretty autumn colored threads from my stash and just stitched whatever color I wanted for the different motifs. I've done cube finishes before but I wanted to learn how to do the ones with hard sides that I'd seen modeled in a shop in Las Vegas.  I couldn't find any tutorials online for this type of cube so I just had to experiment but it worked out well.  I used several layers of foam core for the inside which I also weighted so it sits nicely and doesn't topple over. I used matboard on the sides plus I added some beads as little "feet" and a twisted cord trim on the front.  I'm glad to add another skill to my finishing list!

I've recently finished these 2 pieces below which I stitched as SAL's with a friend.  First is "Penny America" by Tree of Life Samplings, and the second one is "Trees of  Green" by Heartstring Samplery . I need to drop of Trees of Green at the framer soon but I'm working on a finish now for Penny America so that one won't get framed.  

I need to get through my blog reading list and catch up ...I'm been reading some posts here and there but still way behind.  I'm glad to see so many of  the regular blogs I read are still there as I enjoy reading about what all of you are doing.    For those who haven't dropped me off their list, I thank you!   I miss connecting with my fellow bloggers and I'm looking forward to trying to post at least a few times each month now. I've still got a little backlog of things to share and plenty of projects in progress!