Thursday, June 30, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

Hello out there...hope everyone is enjoying a nice summer. We've been having a heat wave here in the Southwest but that's normal for June.   We finally got some rain last night to cool things down a bit hopefully for the weekend.

I'm so happy to report that a couple weeks ago I finished stitching my Fruit Bellpull by Teresa Wentzler!  This old UFO was a big monkey on my back and I'm glad it's finally done as I started it over 10 years ago.  It sat for years without any work being done but I got it out earlier this year and finished off 2 more blocks.  The pattern has 6 fruit blocks but I just picked 4 to do and that's enough.  I just need to get some bellpull hardware and sew it up one of these days.

It's so hard sometimes to choose what to stitch when there is so much you love and have in your stash!  My list seems to be a mile long of things I want to stitch.    I recently stitched this little free design from Threadworks Primitive and I made it into a needle/scissor case.  I'm happy with how it turned out!  

"Dutch Tulip" freebie by Threadworks Primitive

And speaking of finishing, below are some photos of what I did with one of the Little House Needlework ornament patterns.  A dear friend gave me this wooden spindle from Bloom Woodworks. It's a great way to display small pieces. I sew a little sleeve on the backing fabric before I put it all together and that holds it on the spindle.    I have so much Christmas stuff but I just can't stop making more! 

"Season's Greetings" from Little House Needleworks

I'm doing an SAL with a cyber-friend and it's going well.  This sampler is from the Blackbird Designs "Joyeux Noel" book. I've wanted to stitch this sampler for years so I'm glad to finally get it done . I just have the bottom part and border to finish.  I changed a lot on this sampler.....I substituted several of the colors and as I went along I stopped following the colors on the chart and just made things whatever color I wanted.  The book says this was charted from an antique sampler and there were lots of missing letters, letters out of sequence, etc.  I added in some of the missing letters and corrected the letter sequence...I just can't leave things alone but I cause  myself a lot of extra work!  Here's my progress:

The list of things needing framing is starting to get too much on it again....framing costs are so high. I like to get museum glass on my pieces and it's so expensive.  Also....I've been stitching for almost 40 years and I have about 60 framed pieces!  Not all of them are on display because many are seasonal or holiday pieces but what am I going to do with all of this?!?!    I'm not going to have room to keep adding to the collection constantly so I try to figure out other things to do with some of the finished pieces.   My DH and I are planning to downsize to a smaller home over the next year also so I have to keep that in mind too.   Not to mention all the quilts I have too - good thing I only have 2 hobbies!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Another UFO killed off........

Happy Friday readers!    I'm happy to report some progress with my ongoing efforts to finish off some of my old stitching UFO's that have been sitting around my sewing room for years.    Back in 2008 I started one of those "house and garden" neighborhood samplers as a member of a group blog that Vonna from The Twisted Stitcher blog was organizing.   It wasn't a round robin, each person designed and stitched their own piece.  As usual I got carried  away planning the piece - I had big plans to do 3 rows of houses and gardens on a huge piece of linen.   Below is a photo showing how far this project ever got.   Everybody was in love with a big sampler someone in France had done with a Prairie Schooler birdhouse & sunflowers in the middle.  The chart with that birdhouse (Prairie Schooler Garden Samplers) was going for almost $50 on eBay at the time - way more than I wanted to pay but I wanted a birdhouse like everyone else.  Instead, I found a $6 Dimensions chart of birdhouses at Joanns and added my own sunflowers to it. 

As time went on I lost interest in this BAP but I didn't want to just throw out all the work I had done.  I thought at one time of filling it in with more houses and stuff in order to make the piece a semi-circular shape (I had to save the birdhouse part in the middle) but even that was too much work and never got done.   Last year I tediously frogged out part of that tree on the bottom so I could cut out the log cabin scene, the birdhouse and the little red millhouse I had designed.   Here's what I did with those salvaged pieces of stitching:

The birdhouse was made into a little summer wallhanging.......

I finished the little red millhouse with a pond and made it into a project bag.  I like to design and print  coordinated business cards that I use as labels on my bags.  These cards have little willow trees across the top.

The Prairie Schooler log cabin scene I made into a cube-style finish.  

It felt great to kill off this big old UFO and I salvaged some remnants of linen I can use for other projects - it's all good!

I'm also making progress on my old Teresa Wentzer Fruit Bellpull...this project is really tedious!  It's taken me almost 6 weeks to do my 3rd block - the Cherries.  It's been my TV project for the evenings when DH and I are watching TV.   This piece as designed has 6 blocks but there's no way I'm going to do all 6.  I've changed the order of the blocks from the design,  and I'm going to do one more block and call it done. I think 4 blocks will be fine.   That Cherries block was a real pain - here's a photo of what it looks like on the pattern book and below it is my piece.  In the photo from the chart you can see a lot  more color in the shading especially of the cherry stems. I'm using all the DMC as it's charted and I kitted this up over 10 years ago so I know it's not that the DMC dyelots have changed.  I'm just disappointed that the shading is so muted.  I had to go over some of the cherry stems with another shade of brown because you could hardly see them after I stitched them.  Thankfully the last block I've picked to do looks easier than those Cherries!   

Photo of cherries block from the book I'm real life those brownish/gold shades are muddied greens and the cherries are not "reddish" but more purple-pink.

My progress - 3 blocks done, one more to go!!

I've got 2 more little finishes to share....another project bag made out of a BBD freebie I had been a pincushion but I didn't like how I had finished it years back so I put it into a project bag instead.   And I've finished off another ornament piece into a little pillow for the holiday bowl........

BBD "Eiffel Tower" freebie from a few years part of a project bag

Christmas tree is a motif from Sue Hillis Designs 'My Favorite Things'

That's all for today....I'm off to start on my final block of the Fruit Bellpull but I'm itching to start a new project!  It takes discipline to work on these old UFO's but I'm getting there slowly but surely.     Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

This stitching obsession.. a tour of my XS world

Sometimes I can't believe how big of a part stitching plays in my life!   It's not just the stitching, but the organizing, storing, cataloging, etc.   But I can't help myself!   I use my home computer a lot - I keep my inventory of charts in Excel, have lots of finishing tutorials in Word documents, have hundreds and hundreds of photos I've saved from online that inspire me (my own "Pinterest" board I guess you'd call it), keep a wish list  of things to buy, a list of all the projects I've done and what I used as far as linen and flosses, a file of free and purchased digital patterns, etc etc.    Here's some photos from my craft room and I the only one this crazy??  Here's some photos of my stitching obsession......

My DMC storage - I have one drawer with all my DMC - I use drawer dividers I bought online and love how quickly I can pull floss and put it back when done

Overdyed and silk flosses live on rings on my pegboard.  I need to be able to pull my rings and search for colors so I don't keep them like my DMC floss..

I have 2 big file drawers filled with charts in folders by Designer or Theme....

Smaller charts are stored in binders I got on sale at an office supply store...........

Two drawers of linen storage.......why do I keep buying more?!?

Some of my kitted up projects waiting their turn......

A box just for all those cute Mill Hill kits!  I need to stop buying more stash!

A drawer full of Q-snaps and tools......

Another drawer with some of my finishing supplies....trims, pins, and things...

I make padded storage bags for all my framed pieces that aren't on permanent display in my home - mostly seasonal items.  I try to match the bag fabric to the theme - Christmas, Halloween, etc.  I have a spot on the front of each bag for a label showing a photo and name of the piece so I know what's in each bag.   I see our dog Abby snuck into one corner of the photo - snoozing on one of her many beds throughout the house!

All the storage bags plus some of my quilts live in this armoire in my bedroom...I  have too much stuff to even put out in my house!

A box under my bed full of Christmas cross-stitch items......don't want my stitched items living in the hot garage all summer.

Another one of the drawers with bags of finished items grouped together by theme - patriotic, etc.  Sometimes it seems that XS is taking over my house! 

I have had some more finishes since I last posted - and I want to thank all of you for your nice comments on my previous post.  I was having some email issues getting my comments mailed to me so I didn't answer most of them but I appreciate them!   

I did finally finish my "Old Nantucket" sampler from Little House Needleworks - took me about a year since starting it with some breaks when I got tired of working on it sometimes.  Most of you may have already seen it if you're a member of the LHN Facebook group.  One of these days I'll get it framed but I need to save up a bit.  I stitched it on the recommended WDW Cocoa linen but used 35-ct instead of the 30-ct called for as I didn't want it to be so big.  I used most of the charted flosses with a couple of substitutions. 

Below is "Labor for Learning" by Plum Street Sampler.  This is a petite sampler about 6" x 6" - it was fun to stitch.

A couple of ornament finishes below from Jan & Feb.....trying to get at least one ornament stitched every month but sometimes I get behind on the finishing.  The top one is by Lizzie-Kate, the bottom is a motif from the "Favorite Things" chart by Sue Hillis Designs.

Here is a little stitched piece I did at the spring 2015 PSS Retreat in Williamsburg VA.  It was from a class taught by Lori Brechlin.  Instead of making the necklace pouch Lori designed I decided to make my stitched piece into a pincushion instead and I added a little stitched remembrance on the back.  I'm making progress on my bag of "stuff that needs finishing work" LOL. 

I also picked up 2 quilts that I had quilted by a longarm quilter I use - she does beautiful work and really makes my quilt tops look good. The first one below is a t-shirt quilt for my husband - he has tons of t-shirts he's saved and enough to make 3 quilts.  This is the first one I've done for him which  has a "places I've visited" theme.  I'm currently working on a second one for him that's going to use up the 'miscellaneous' t-shirts and the third t-shirt quilt will be sports-themed.   I'm getting better at these with all this practice!

Close-up of the geometric quilting pattern - I love how this quilt turned out

This is a little lap quilt I made for myself - the pattern is called Friendship Braid - it's a fun quilt to make.  I had a hard time getting a decent photo of it but it's pretty colors and very feminine.

I just got back on from a weekend quilting retreat...will have photos of those projects on my next post.  I wasn't able to go to the 2016 PSS retreat in Georgia.. that's a long way from Arizona and I didn't want to spend the money this year.  But I had fun at my quilting weekend with friends here instead. I'm hoping next year I can go to the PSS annual retreat so I need to start saving for it.    Meanwhile I'm plugging away on a couple of stitching UFO's and some more ornaments....I feel good about the progress I'm making on reducing the pile of old projects lying around and I'm almost done with the backlog of items that needed finishing work.   It's all good!   

Have a great stitching week everyone!  I'm off to go visit some of your blogs now.......

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A few finishes to celebrate

Enjoying a nice quiet Tuesday today with no errands or appointments to go to.   Time to update my blog and get some good stitching time in!  Recently got 2 more pieces back from the framers.   Both of these had been sitting around for months waiting.  I always get museum glass on my framed pieces but it sure increases the price!   That's the one thing about stitching that really adds up.   I'm very happy with how both of them came out and glad to get them off the framing pile.

Here's "Strawberry Fields Forever" by Blackbird Designs:

And finally got this big one below done - this is "Frosty Forest" by Country Cottage Needleworks. I took some liberties with the design on this piece - I modifed the blue house block to make it into a millhouse with water wheel, designed my own center block using some trees and bears from an LHN chart I had, and I charted my own border using a snippet of pine bough from a LHN chart and adding random 'snow'.  Love the frame as it has a brighter silver tone on the part of it that goes well with the white floss in the piece - I added a closeup photo of one corner.

I also recently did some finishing work for a stitching pal....thought you might enjoy seeing these cute pieces.

This is a Prairie Schooler piece made into an ornament

A cute scissor fob......

and a Christmas bird made into an easel finish

Did everybody enjoy the Downton Abbey finale?  I thought they did a great job - so happy that there were so many happy endings - Edith finally finds love, Anna & Mr. Bates have their baby,  and even Daisy on the verge of having a new beau.   I hated to see the series end but guess it was time.  A few years back I received a boxed set of seasons 1-4 for Christmas, so now I need to pick up Seasons 5 and 6 to complete the set.  I think I'll wait until the prices come down though....I saw Season 5 in a store and the price was more than the entire 1-4 seasons set!    Prices on DVDs and Blu-Rays are trending downward as more people use streaming and on-demand for viewing.  That's good for me as I've been picking up lots of cheap movies on clearance lately.

I've been working on this Quaker sampler over the last week and making some good progress.  This was a piece that was on my wish list to do for years and I finally started it last year I think.  I kind of went through  love/hate phases with this piece...for awhile I was sorry I even started it as I wasn't liking it that much but now that I'm just about halfway through I'm liking it again.   I'm stitching this with silks on 40-ct mystery linen from my stash.  Odd thing though...this linen looks like a neutral beige by day but at night it looks light green - must have some greenish tones in the dye I guess. 

"Emblem of Love" by With My Needle

I'm also making a little progress on block 3 of Fruit Bellpull.  Doesn't look like much but I'm happy every time I can hilite a little bit that's done on my chart - all the leaves take forever to do in a zillion shades of green. 

Keeping busy as usual with appointments for this and that - got new glasses and I'm getting a series of 5 injections for my knee arthritis.  So far I'm not feeling any improvement yet and this treatment is very expensive but I'm hopeful....the doctor says some people don't get any relief until a month or so after the injections are finished.   DH is heading out of town tomorrow to go see some of the NCAA basketball tournament games in Denver.  I plan on having a 4-day marathon of stitching, sewing, and movie watching!!   The weather here is beautiful and hope the rest of you are starting to get some nice spring days. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Long post...

Well there went my 2016 blogging resolution but I'll try to catch up a bit here.  Life has been busy.  DH and I went up to Las Vegas for a weekend in January to see John Fogerty in concert at The Venetian Hotel/Casino. It was a terrific show and we really enjoyed it.  We're heading up there again in April to see George Strait in concert. I've always wanted to see him but never got around to it and I'm so glad he's come out of retirement to do some shows in Las Vegas.  Fortunately for us, it's only about a 4.5 hour drive so we enjoy going up there for weekend shows. 
I didn't finish this in time for Christmas but got it done about a week later.  This is "Merry Christmas" by All Through The Night.  There's a model of this piece at my LNS done over-1 and I wanted to do it so I bought the little wooden pot they had theirs mounted on.   I thought it would be over-1 on maybe 32 count but when I went to get started I found out it had to be over-1 on FORTY count in order to fit on the little wooden pot.  It was torture to do it  and it gave me eye strain even with using my big magnified light but I persevered and finished it.  The chart only calls for the piece to be done in red but I opted to add a couple more colors.  I like how it turned out but NEVER AGAIN do I want to do that much over-1 on 40-count linen!   I put a quarter in one of the photos so you see how small it is.

I finished some Lizzie Kate ornaments before Christmas too....these are all from Tiny Tidings 19. They were a lot of fun to do.   I love stitching ornaments!  You can see in the second photo below how many I have...when I was taking down all the Christmas decorations I was going to pack them all together so it was a good time to take a 'group photo'.   Some of them date back to the 80's even but I still have a whole lot more I want to stitch.
Lizzie-Kate ornaments
Christmas ornament collection
My current 2 focus pieces are Old Nantucket by LHN which I started about a year ago. The house took forever and once I got it done I was sort of burned out on this project so I put it away for some months.  I'm a bit further along than this photo....hoping to finish it up in the next week or two!  For years I always wanted to do a wall grouping of nautical-themed pieces but so far this is only my 2nd one.  I live in the desert southwest so yearn for the ocean! 

And this one is "Labor for Learning" by Plum Street Samplers. I joined a Facebook SAL for this piece and I'm enjoying this petite sampler. 

"Labor for Learning" by Plum Street Samplers
I thought I'd show you a few of my oldest UFO's that I hope to get done this year although I haven't yet worked on them yet since the new year.   This piece below is back to the early 90's.  I packed it away for a long time as it reminded me of a difficult time in my life when I was stitching it.  But it's time to finally get this off my UFO list.   I hadn't planned on stitching the farm tools behind the beehive and flowers that is seen on the chart so I only need to finish up the flowers on the right side.   It's stitched on some odd linen I got on sale decades ago at an LNS - it was a square tablecloth that I cut up.  I just can't throw it out after all that work and so much backstitching

I don't remember how old this other UFO below is....probably at least 10 years or so.  It's "Fruit Bellpull" by Teresa Wentzler. I started it back in the days when I belonged to the TW bulletin board and I was enthralled with it.  Those of you who've stitched her pieces know how much work they are with all the confetti stitching and blended threads.  Just take a look at this - on the right are floss cards with all the colors called for and on the left are floss cards with all the blended threads from the colors on the right. wonder I never finished it!   I have 2 of the 6 blocks done and I'm thinking maybe I'll just stitch one or two more blocks and call it done.  I don't see myself ever getting 4 more of these blocks stitched.   This piece always makes me think of a girl named Laura Watkins who was very active on the TWBB back in its hey day....she was the leader of the Fruit Bellpull discussion group but unfortunately she died young although I never knew why.  She was a great stitcher and one of the first bloggers even though she was using her own website because it was pre-Blogger days.  She inspired many of us.   

I also designated 2016 to be the year I get caught up on framing!  I'm tired of having a pile of unframed pieces lying around.   I recently got this piece framed - it was another FB SAL I participated in last fall.  I didn't get it framed in time for Thanksgiving last year but I'll enjoy putting it out this year.  I did the stretching and mounting myself and I think it came out pretty good.

"The Lord's Blessing" by Imaginating
My other framing piece I picked up is an old piece by BBD - Quaker Garden.  I had it framed years ago but I'd been unhappy with it for a long time because the frame I picked out originally is too dark and heavy for this piece.  So I finally got a new frame put on it and like it much better.  The new frame is sort of a pewter-like color and works well with the olive linen and floss colors.  Hoping some day I can reuse the old frame for something else.

'Before' photo with original frame choice:

'After' photo with new frame:

I've got 2 other pieces at my LNS now getting framed and I'm hoping to get a call soon that they're ready to pick up.  One of them is my CCN "Frosty Forest" and I can't wait to see it!

Thanks for dropping by....I know a lot of my former followers just aren't keeping up with blogs anymore so I really do appreciate any visitors who might still drop by!