Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good-bye 2011.......

Yes I'm ready to say good-bye to was a year of hardship or sadness for many of my friends and family it seems and I'm not too sad to say "so long".  Here's hoping 2012 brings good things to everyone!

I hope you all got some crafty goodness for Christmas.   I put some items on a wish list at 123 Stitch and DH went and bought ALL of it!  I got "Joyeux Noel" from Blackbird Designs which has been on my list for a long time, and lots of those Mill Hill kits.  I now have more than a dozen of these from the village and winter series.  I don't plan on stitching them on the perforated paper, I will use linen instead but need to get a plan together.  I would like to do a Christmas "neighborhood" with some of them at least. 

Christmas Stash
I was too lazy to find all of my photos to do a year in review of all my finished projects, but I'm happy with what I accomplished.  I have worked hard over the past 2-3 years to get my quilting projects under control.  At one time I had over 25 projects going (!)  and I'm happy to say I'm down to just 2 now which are quite old.  I'm not starting any new ones until those are done!    I got a fair amount of stitching done this year too although not as much as I'd like of course.  Since I've had some vacation time over the holidays I squeezed in 3 more finishes for this year.

I got Tanya's "Jingle" pillow stitched and finished the week before Christmas - this was fun to do. Since I used a red thread instead of the rusty shade called for I painted my bell to match.  I'm glad I got it done to display for Christmas!

"Jingle All the Way" by The Scarlett House
stitched on WDW Scuppernong linen

Next up is a little Just Nan kit has been lying around a few years and I finally got it done to sit in my sewing room.   It took longer than I thought it would to stitch because it's sort of 'confetti' stitching with lots of different colors.    I have no idea what I'll do with this but I'm enjoying having it done just the same!

Just Nan "Sizzle" tin
stitched on Morning Mist Cashel linen with DMC
I had so many expectations of getting a lot of ornaments done this year but sadly it didn't happen.  As part of my plan to do better in 2012 I got this one done in the last 2 days.  It was a freebie pattern from Midsummer Night Designs a couple of years ago.  I still struggle with sewing on cording to pillow-style ornaments - maybe I'll get better if I do more ornies this year!

What's up for 2012........
I've joined Measi's 2012 WIPocolypse and will be keeping track of my progress on a separate blog tab I've set up for that.  I have 6 or 7 big WIPs I'd like to make some progress on and maybe get one or two finishes!  I'm not making any special list of projects to stitch this year...I'm going to do whatever I feel like doing and try not to stress about how much others are getting done!  (I tend to do that to myself).  I have enough stress with my job and other aspects of my life and don't need to make goals I realistically can't keep for myself.

I do have 3 or 4 samplers I kitted up last year I'll probably start at some point - Jenny Bean Humble Servant Sampler, Jenny Bean Halloween Sampler, The Garden Glade by Carriage House Samplings, and Halloween Rules by Lizzie-Kate.    I did some organizing in one of my stash cabinets a bit this past week.    Most of my patterns I keep in hanging folders in a file cabinet but I have a couple plastic bins filled with kits and other "miscellany".  I really want to focus on getting some of these done!  Some things have been waiting years and years to get stitched - pincushion kits, tins (LOTS of tins!), hornbooks, fob kits,  etc.    It's so overwhelming!

I also am going to try to limit my stash buying this year and focus on working from what I have plus forging ahead with more framing.  I am down to about 6 or 7 pieces still waiting to be framed.   I don't know about the rest of you but I have a big pile of stitched & framed pieces in one of my closets - things that aren't on display all the time such as Christmas or Easter pieces. I want to make some padded bags to store them in - I figure it will be a good way to use up some of the fabric in my quilting stash!
Like so many others, both the husband and I have been ill this week. We had to cancel out on a birthday party Friday and cancel New Year's Eve plans tonite with friends.   Luckily our doctor's office had urgent care hours this morning so we both went and are now armed with antibiotics and assorted other prescriptions.  Our dogs alternate between visiting me in our bedroom and the husband who's camped out in the guest room.    Hoping the meds kick in soon as we both need to be ready to go back to work next week.  This is the second time for me this month and I am sick of being sick!
I wish all of you a great 2012 with good health, good fortune, and time to work on lots of great projects!   

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let the merriness begin!

Ahhhh....I'm officially on vacation until January 2nd - woohoo!!  I've been counting the days that's for sure....although when you work in Information Technology it's hard to be really 'off work' since I have a Blackberry and get contacted for urgent issues - plus I have to take a few days of  'on call' duty but it's still better than being at work!  I'm relaxing this morning and enjoying some lovely hot chocolate....

I did get back my Christmas Rules from the framer and have it hanging in my foyer - the last thing framed in 2011.   I wanted a red frame but couldn't find anything that matched so I ended up with a lime green shade.  So happy to have it hanging for Christmas - now I'm all set to start "Halloween Rules" in January!

I'm so glad i did all my decorating Thanksgiving weekend as I got sick with bronchitis the following week.  I ended up at the doctor and been on antibiotics and inhalers but thankfully I'm doing better now. I just have only a couple of Christmas presents left to pick up this week and I"m getting ready to host a small dinner party on Friday night with friends.

We put up 2 medium-sized trees in our house - I got rid of my giant artificial tree a few years ago as it was just too much work and since it wasn't pre-lit it took so much time putting the 1200 lights on every year!   These trees are pre-lit and go up so quick and easy.   Here's some photos of my decorating....I've got way too much Christmas stuff!  I can't even put it all out - I've got several Christmas quilts and a lot of cross-stitch pieces all over the house...little holiday vignettes every place I can fit them in. I swapped out a few things from my little 'sampler wall' and replaced other pieces on my walls with Christmas items. I  don't like to make a lot of new nail holes just for Christmas  :).  I also pulled out 2 boxes of old Christmas items and took them over to Goodwill - you can't keep adding more every year without weeding out a few old items now and then.

I started working on "Jingle All the Way" this weekend by The Scarlett House.  It's a quick stitch and I hope to have it finished and displayed in a couple of days.   I didn't have the mahogany threads called for nor could I find the called-for color or rick-rack so I'm doing mine with red lettering.  I just love this linen color - it's Weeks Dye Works "scuppernong". 

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season!!  I'll leave you today with our Christmas card photo - Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

No, I haven't abandoned my blog.......

I'm still here....just haven't had any time for blogging lately.  I've snuck around to read some of your posts but haven't been able to comment as much as I'd like to.  So what have I been up to?

Well here are some finishes...

It's been less than a month but doesn't Halloween seem like a dim memory already?  I had intentions to blog this but just didn't get it done. I stitched up 3 Halloween ornaments to start a little Halloween tree.  I hope next year to add some more.  I threw a little tree skirt together using some Halloween fabric from my stash - saw the absolute cutest woolfelt one on sale at Etsy but decided that I shouldn't really spend $60 for it. I'm still longing for it though!

From Prairie Schooler - Leaflet #160 "Boo to You"

My Halloween tree

Last week I got another quilt back from the longarm quilter - oh happy day!  I started this quilt back in the late 90's - yes it's a little embarassing but true!  A local quilt store taught a class on the main block in the quilt so I took the class with some friends.  All the applique is done by hand using the needle-turn method.  That took me a few years off and on I think.  Then for some reason I never got around to sewing the border on the quilt - it sat for a few years until I did that back around 2009 ....then it waited in line a few MORE years to go to a professional longarm quilter.  I knew I'd never get it quilted by hand and I wanted a really nice quilting job on it since I'd put so much work into it.  It took me 4 months to get it back from the quilter (she's very popular and busy).  Then I had to sew the binding on it and put a hanging sleeve on the back.  At last here it is - "Christmas Memories" - from a 4-part pattern series by Blackbird Designs, along with some closeups of some of the blocks.  DH helped me hang it up this past weekend on the red wall in our family room - finally displayed for its first Christmas!     I still get happy every time I walk past it.

Since I last blogged I've visited relatives in Colorado, went to Las Vegas for a few days with DH, had visitors from the midwest, and gone to a quilting retreat.  I made this Chrismas table  runner/wallhanging at the retreat.  I'm calling these little reindeer Alvin, Simon & Theodore.  Okay...they've not chipmunks but they're cute!  (and if you don't know who Alvin, Simon  & Theodore are....well all I can say is you are a youngster LOL).  I'm loving all the bright red and lime green Christmas themed items that have started to get popular in the past couple of years.

I also pieced another quilt top at machine was humming along as there's little time for sleep when you get a whole weekend to sew!  It has soft colors that should go nicely in my sewing room and be a nice 'snuggle' quilt for me on a cold Sunday afternoon.  This isn't the greatest photo and it still needs to be quilted but I like it.

And some recent framing.......

I finished up Lizzie-Kate's Christmas Rules the end of September and it's been at the LNS waiting to be framed.  I didn't take more photos of it finished because it didn't look too different from the last ones I posted.  They tell me it should be done by Dec 10th so I'm anxiously waiting for it and will be posting photos when it comes home.  In the meantime, I picked up this cutie over the weekend.   I actually stitched and got it framed in the same calendar year - it's a miracle!  I absolutely adore the white frame  - I think it makes it look so 'wintery' and I can leave it hanging through January. 

Blue Ribbon Designs "It's Cold Outside"

I'm working on some Christmas tree cones this weekend and will be sharing those soon. I've been quilting more than stitching in recent weeks but have started on Lizzie Kate's "Dog Lessons for People" - it was supposed to be a Christmas gift for someone but it will have to be given in January as there's no way I can get it done and framed in time.

For U.S. readers, have a great Thanksgiving weekend!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

May we always remember........

In Flanders Fields - by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A few small finishes.........

Hi folks......I keep waiting for autumn but it’s still not really here quite yet unfortunately. I have been in such a bad mood this week but not sure exactly why – everything seems to be annoying me and I feel depressed. I’m sure others get the same way sometimes.....I’ve got new responsibilities at work that are stressing me....can’t seem to keep up with household chores....people are aggravating me.....I’m constantly worrying about family issues, the poor economy, and the state of the world. Once I get in a funk it seems like I just keep rolling downhill and can’t think of anything positive. I think sometimes it’s "information overload" especially when it comes to the news. I don’t need to tell you what goes on in this world, you all see it, but it seems like a never-ending stream of bad news sometimes. If it’s not violent and mind-boggling crimes, it’s economic disaster, wars, natural disasters, and everything else. I try to tune it out and be thankful for all the good things in my life but I’m not always successful. In reading some blogs this week I see a stitching exchange went bad for a group and a few bloggers here and there contemplating closing their blogs.  We've all got our share of anxiety I guess.  Somedays I wish I could go back in time about 20 years LOL. It seems I was a lot more optimistic then and life was a lot more positive in general. I’m sure that’s just me being nostalgic... and maybe this is an age thing for me but I sure wish I could get out of this funk.

Excuse my rambling on a bit but at least I’ve been stitching as much as I can recently and I still get lots of enjoyment from it. I don’t think many days go by when I don’t see something absolutely fabulous on someone’s blog and want to make it! In reality I’ll never even get what is already in my stash done, but part of this hobby (okay it’s an obsession really) is enjoying buying the stash, owning the stash, and dreaming of COMPLETING all the stash. When I sometimes contemplate stopping blogging, I know I really can’t. I would feel very alone as I don’t have a stitching group to belong to and it’s just my husband and I in our household and he’s not very interested in my needlework. When you put a lot of yourself into making something, you just have the need to share it with others in some way.

I recently got 2 small things stitched and finished since my last post and I’m starting to get in the holiday mood at least. This is the famous Peppermint Twist from LHN that everyone was stitching last year, I’m a little behind the curve but loved doing this one. I finished it as a little pillow – I’ve got hopes of getting a basket of smalls together for Christmas decorating.

LHN "Peppermint Twist"
recommended threads mostly

I also made this one this week - it stitched up really fast and I finished it according to the pattern directions with some black wool I had. Isn’t it cute? I just love it and will be putting out some of my autumn and Halloween decorations this week. (I’ll be adding this pattern to a stash sale page I hope to update this weekend.)  As you can see I didn't spend any time staging a nice photo - just stuck it up next to the sewing machine for a non-glamorous snap........

"Enchanted Crow" by Threadwork Primitives

Then I did a little stash-diving to find what little patterns I had for fall and Halloween.....found lots of good linen colors and several things to choose from. I had a very old piece of Cashel linen that I got probably 10 yrs ago – it was the recommended fabric for some Prairie Schooler pumpkins that never got made LOL. Well the color was more rust than orange so I decided to try and lighten it up – I soaked a sample piece in a weak bleach solution and then laid it out in the sun for an hour. Look at the new versus old – it’s now a perfect orange color for Halloween - yippee – I love it when I can use up some old stash.

Yesterday the mailman brought me the latest Gingher collectible embroidery scissors – these are the ones that aren’t available at JoAnn’s but only at specialty shops.  They’re called ‘Tessa’ and I must say they are probably my least favorite Ginghers so far. They look like some dated 1960’s fabric – or maybe the Arizona state flag?? Oh well...they’re just going in the box with all the others anyway!  I really do need to do something to get all these scissors displayed somehow.....

Until next time, may you find some happy moments stitching or crafting!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Come on Autumn!

We've gotten a bit cooler here in the desert - and we're all hoping the trend continues as we are so sick of the summer heat.  It's hard to believe it's fall already, the year seems to be flying by at record speed! I had all these plans to stitch several Christmas ornaments this year - darn!  Somehow I've got to find more hours in my days that's for sure. 

I want to thank all of you for your wonderful comments on my Quakers & Quilts finish - it really warmed my heart and is much appreciated!
I've been making good progress on Christmas Rules - still enjoying stitching this one. I am down to the last 4 'rules' and should be able to finish it this month. I want to be able to get it to my framer before the holiday rush so I can have it ready to  hang for Christmas. I have a long narrow sampler already hanging in my foyer and it will be a perfect place to swap in this piece come December.  (and my husband will be glad I don't have to put another nail in the walls LOL)

I've been so good about working on my WIPs lately but I'm getting a case of start-itis. The 10-year anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy reminded me that I had bought this BBD pattern way back in 2002. (where the heck did those years go??)  Attic Needlework gave out a complimentary addition to the chart -  some words and the date to commemorate 9-11-01 at the bottom.  It's sad that it's a whole 9 years later and I still haven't gotten it stitched! I decided I would get going  finally stitch it this month.  Here's my start so far. 

The chart specifies using 30-ct fabric but I used some scrap 40-ct linen I had and some Gloriana red silk. Unfortunately I didn't realize the added words at the bottom were charted as over-one - well that just isn't going to happen - over-one on 40-ct linen is too hard for me so I will rechart the words as over-two instead. It's weird but sometimes I can stitch easily on 40-ct and other times I am really struggling - I use my lighted magnifier all the time so can't quite figure it out. This project is rather hard for me to stitch on... I wonder if any of you notice a difference between 40-ct linen from different manufacturers? Are some 'tighter' than others??

I've been doing more sewing than stitching over the past 2 weeks. I finally finished a king-sized quilt top I started about 2 years ago - I am SO-O-O-O happy!   I've already ironed it all and have it hanging ready to take to a long-arm quilter in a few months (I try to space out my custom quilting and framing...$$$ know how that is).  I  don't have a big photo of it to show you. It's a subtle quilt - an antique reproduction so it's doesn't have a lot of 'wow' factor.  The beauty of it I think will really come out once it's custom-quilted.   Back when I purchased everything for this quilt I got a whole bolt of one fabric because I needed almost 10 yards just for the back of the quilt.  A bolt has 15 yards on it and I got a good discount which made it worth buying.   I think this may be the last king-sized quilt I make - it's tough working with something that big and also a real pain trying to iron it once it's all together!    If I count up all the materials, plus what it's going to cost me to get it quilted, this quilt is costing me close to $500.  Quilting isn't a cheap hobby that's for sure - not with the cost of most fabric being $9-10 per yard these days.  That doesn't even count 2 years of my time.  Believe me, it was a thrill putting  a big line through this entry on my WIP list!  I'll be back with some photos around Feb or March of next year when I get it back from the quilter.

Lately I haven't been tempted too much to bring home more stash - as Martha Stewart says, "it's a good thing" LOL.   I have so much already that I want to stitch...however I did recently pick up these from Threadwork's all Faye's fault as I fell in love with her "Pride & Glory" finish.  I want to get started on this cute autumn-themed one with the witch's hat.  I'm so glad that new designers keep coming to our world since some of our favorites have quit the business during the last few years.  I guess part of it is the economy and so many crafters doing other things like knitting, scrapbooking, etc.  I know that some of the designers have also cited issues with copyright abuse which makes me very sad.  It's great that we sell or trade our used charts  or stash we no longer want,  but I continue to support the hard work of the needlework designers.   I'm relieved to know there's no danger we'll run out of things to stitch!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A finish and a new start.......

I'm happy dancing - Quakers & Quilts is finally done! HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF!   I finished it last week - what a thrill to put that last stitch in. This one has been hanging on way too long - I went back to my blog archives to see when I started it and it was November 2009.  It's not like I worked on it constantly since then, I had starts and stops but those quilts along the bottom really wore me out!  Lots of backstitching, half-stitches, and color changes.   It's a beautiful pattern though and should look great on my bookshelves when I get around to framing it.

Without further chit-chat, here it is.........excuse the color changes from photo to photo... I was playing around in the photo editor trying to get the linen to look like it does in real life- you know how it is when you are photographing needlework.

"Quakers & Quilts" by Rosewood Manor
Stitched on 40-ct Lakeside Linen - vintage bisque - and
with a conversion to Belle Soie & Silk 'n Colors threads

I couldn't wait to start a new project and I snuck in the first stitches on Lizzie Kate's 'Christmas Rules' the night before finishing Q&Q.  I absolutely am loving this project! It's like a breath of fresh air after trying to finish up Q&Q - easy stitching, bright colors and just a joy.  I actually may have this done and framed for Christmas this year if things go my way.  I fell in love with it last year after seeing it stitched on some blogs.  It's such a cute design - I have all the Halloween Rules charts too and plan to start that one probably in January for next year's Halloween.   I even talked a coworker into stitching Christmas Rules with me - she cross-stitches but is more of a quilter most of the time.  She loves Christmas though and couldn't resist.

Here's my start so far.........right now I don't feel like stitching on any of my other projects so am going to relax and enjoy this one for awhile! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back to our regularly scheduled stitching & sewing.........

I'm back on schedule after spending most of June working on blogiversary giveaways and RAK's.   I had 2 RAK's that I sent out earlier this July to Barbara of Mainely Stitching and Karen from My Favourite Things.  Both of them have been reading and commenting on my blog since my very first post 5 years ago so I wanted to reward them as faithful followers - thank you both!

I forgot to take a photo of Barbara's RAK but you can see it on her blog posting here.   I stitched a Prairie Schooler design ("Farm Fresh") and made it into a little pillow. I sewed a fabric project bag for her and also sent a needleminder from Paula Kelmscott's collection.  I chose a chickens theme for the stitched piece because if you read her blog you'll know Barbara raises chickens and of course since she lives in Maine she certainly needs to have the lighthouse needleminder. 

For Karen's RAK at least I remembered to take a photo this time before mailing it......I chose another PS design  because it reminded me of Karen with its cat and yarn balls.  Karen has 2 cats and she's not only a great stitcher and finisher but she knits too.   Karen  also received a mesh project bag I made and I included some fat quarter quilting fabrics for her to use in her finishing business.  I'm so pleased that Barbara and Karen liked what I made for them.

Prairie Schooler #116 - Y is for Yarn
Stitched in DMC on 32-ct linen, finished pinkeep-style

(By the way I found the cute little easel shown above at JoAnn's recently in the picture frame department and I went back and bought several more -  they cost about $2.50 US or less with a coupon of course.   What I love about these is they are small and work great for pinkeeps - they have sort of a rustic finish in brown/black.) 

There's a few things I finished back at the end of May that I haven't gotten around to blogging know how it is.   May seems ages ago doesn't it although it's less than 2 months - how the time flies by when you're busy!  I stitched this piece below because it reminded me of an LNS I used to go to, and also to recall a special trip to Hawaii some years back.   This piece didn't seem that big when I started it but it was tons of solid stitching as you can see and seemingly endless sand..OMG.  I changed out the wording on the pattern and added a couple of hibiscus flowers.  This pattern used lots of specialty stitches which added some nice texture to the palm tree trunks, the water,  etc.

"Kona Coast" - oldie from Ewe & Eye & Friends
Stitched with DMC on 32-ct linen

Closeup of Kona Coast

I did manage to finish up my puppy dog quilt on time for the baby boy christening in June - my husband delivered it in person as I couldn't go with him to Chicago this time. I'm told the family loved it so mission accomplished once again.  I just found out that another niece is expecting so next year I'll need to do another baby quilt - it's tough keeping up with all these babies!

"Dog Daze" baby quilt - stitched & quilted by me
Pattern by Kimberly Rado

I posted about this last year..I had finally finished up an old quilting UFO that had been a nemesis of mine for way too long... this pattern was so much work!  You make tons of blocks then you cut them in half diagonally and recombine them all again.  There are many, many seams that drove me crazy matching up.   I took the quilt top to my longarm quilter a few months ago and I got it back a few weeks ago.  The quilting is fabulous and now at least I like this quilt again LOL.     I sewed the binding on the edges and have happily moved another  project to the 'finished' list.  I have no idea what to do with this quilt.....I'm thinking of asking for a quilt ladder for my birthday this fall as we have only 2 beds in our house which already have quilts,  and I'm short on wallspace.  I have lots of quilts just stacked up in closets.   I really don't need any more quilts of course but do you think that's going to stop me from making more?  :)

"Radio Flyer" - pattern by Miss Rosie's Quilts
Quilt pieced by me and quilted by a longarm quilter here in Phoenix......
hope you can see the beautiful quilting on the borders, and the back of the quilt really
 shows the pretty swirl pattern - love it!

Lastly thought I'd post an update on Quakers & Quilts. I got really tired of this piece and was trudging through it with a grumpy in 'why did I ever decide to stitch this??'.  This week though I finally reached the point where I can see the end is getting near - I just have some more on the right side to do - one more quilt block and a little bit of the upper section.  I'm probably about 85% done.  Hallelujah!!   I'm starting to anticipate a happy dance!  I've got the energy going now  and working hard to finish this up quickly. I'm so anxious to start some new stuff but I am keeping to my rule of finishing a WIP first.   It will be heavenly to have all this tedious backstitching and the half-stitches behind me!

"Quakers & Quilts" by Rosewood Manor
(why does it look good until you photograph it and then every wrinkle shows?!?!)
Be back soon I hope!  Thanks for dropping in............