Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finally a new post...and wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Can't believe how fast the time flies by....I've been a bad blogger but trying to get myself back into it.  I think I'm going to designate one day a week as my 'blog day' - a day to catch up on other blogs and update my own and stay off of Facebook!   I need to update my blog list too as so many stitchers are no longer updating their blogs so I need to remove them and find new ones to add.  I'm thankful for those of you still out there!  Facebook groups are fine but on an individual basis I prefer blogging. 

I've been busy with lots of small finishes over the last couple of months.   I'm loving getting some old quilting and stitching projects off my list and pulling out some things that have waited years to be started.  I'm finding lots of cute ornament finishes by other stitchers and want to get back into stitching at least one ornament a month going forward. 

Since I last updated my blog I celebrated a big birthday - I turned 60 - yikes!  It's scary but you can't avoid aging unless you die young so you've got to make the best of it.   My husband and I went to Disneyland for 4 days - we go there on all my 'big' birthdays.  I was born a couple months after Disneyland opened in 1955 and this year they celebrated their Diamond 60th Anniversary so it was fitting for me to join the fun.   Here's a shot of me in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle all decorated in the blue theme for their 60 years, plus a photo of my husband and I on Splash  Mountain (we're in the back 2 seats).  We had a great time!

Here's an update on what I've been working on...hope you enjoy browsing.

I finished up this piece but unfortunately didn't get it framed in time for Thanksgiving.  It's an older pattern called "The Lord's Blessing" by Imaginating.  

Below is a piece I reworked before Halloween.   I received this piece in an exchange several years ago and it was made into a treat bag.  I decided to give it a new life as an easel finish to better showcase the design.  I love how it turned out.  

"Halloween Cat" by Barbara Ana Designs -
the front....

the back....

I made some custom project bags for a gal on Facebook to gift to her stitching pals.  They're kind of hard to photograph because you get glare off of the vinyl fronts...she sent me the fabric and I think they turned out well. 

Below is a was a club piece by Plum Street Samplers I stitched earlier this year...I decided to finish it into a small wallhanging/ tablemat instead of framing it.   It's "Hurt Not the Earth".....

Earlier this month my quilting friends and I headed up to our annual November retreat in northern Arizona for 4 days.  What joy to sit and sew for 4 whole days and have someone cook for you too!   We like to give each other fun little gifts and since I retired over the summer I wanted to make something for everyone.  I bought this pattern on Etsy - it's "Flora Needlebook" by MMMCrafts.   I made 14 of these needlebooks out of wool felt with embroidered embellishments done in DMC.  They were a lot of work but I love how they came out and my friends seemed to like them too.

the covers...I did 2 of each color scheme

how they look inside...wool felt for storing your needles

Here's a few other things I did while at our sewing retreat:
I quilted this wallhanging.  I still have to put the binding on it but I'm almost to the finish line.
Closeup of the appliqued center block

This little wallhanging was made from an orphan quilting block I've had lying around for years.  No more guilt!

A purse for  next summer...

This a pattern by Cindy Taylor Oates called "Sit & Sew".  You hang it over the arm of your stitching/sewing chair and it has pockets for your scissors and notions plus a pincushion and holder for a spool of thread on top.  It was fun to make.

And here's my latest finish I did last week.  This old Ewe & Eye & Friends chart has been in my stash for many years...it's called "Let It Snow".  I had a piece of hand-dyed evenweave I got in an exchange years back and it was perfect for this piece.  The fabric was from Sugar Maple Fabrics which sadly isn't in business any longer.  I finished it with mini pom-pom trim to display on a little stand I received from a stitching friend.  These stands are made by Bloom Woodworks - love them and plan on getting some more! 

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow stitchers and bloggers!

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 readers...here 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 recently....now 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 story....my 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