Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Frankly my dear....

Yes you may recognize my post title as part of Rhett Butler's famous last line from Gone With the Wind.   I'm happy because I'm going to see the movie tomorrow night at a local theatre!  They showed the movie at theatres around the U.S.  last Sunday and again tomorrow  Oct 1st as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the movie. It's one of my favorites... even though it's nice to watch it at home on DVD it's not the same as on the big movie screen.  I've seen it in movie theatres every 10 years or so when it comes around...I remember going with friends to see it for the 50th anniversary back in 1989.  I can't get a decent photo of this framed piece below because I used regular glass on it but it's a favorite piece I stitched many years ago and hangs in my stitching room.

(This pattern is out of print but comes up on eBay now and then. 
It's "Scarlett O'Hara" by Charles Craft Designs.)
What else have I been doing?  Well for one thing I've been feeling sorry for myself seeing the massive number of finishes those Prim stitchers are posting on Facebook!   Some days I think am I the only one that has a job!  LOL   But I'm plugging away at my projects as I get the time.    Here's my progress on CCN's Frosty Forest.  I'm getting close - only 2 more blocks and the rest of the border to go!   I designed the border using a small motif from LHN's "Pinetop Lodge" - I worked with graph paper to make the design big enough and designed the corners.  I also modified block 7 (Snowgirls Cottage) to add a waterwheel and pond to it that I designed.  I thought this block as charted was too similar to block 3 (Snowmans Cottage) so I wanted it a little different.   (Note - sorry but I can't supply my charted changes to anyone because that would be an infringement to the designer's original chart).

 I also stitched up a little ornament that I now need to do the finishing for....I made one like this last year for an ornament exchange but wanted one for myself. 
Homespun Elegance - 2008 Santa ornament
(I modified the list to do the words in over-1
instead of backstitching)
And...I finally have a needlebook for myself!  I've been quilting and sewing and stitching for 30 years but never had anything nice to use for parking my needles. I've made them for other people but meanwhile here's what my needle storage looked like:  
Earlier this year I stitched Just Nan's "Beach Roses". I'd stitched it years ago and finished it as a biscornu for an exchange on Becky Bee's old SBEBB forum.  I decided to finish it this time as a needlebook so finally I can quit  using a scrap of batting for my needles.  :-)  By the way, does anyone know if Becky Bee is still cross-stitching?  I know she made her blog private now but I was just wondering.  She certainly contributed a lot to the online stitching community over the years.
 Front Cover....

 Inside view....
And that's what I've been doing lately.  Unfortunately we lost our dog Buster to cancer on Sept 19th.  He was starting to struggle too much and we just knew it was time.  We had tried chemotherapy but it didn't work and his prostate tumor was getting bigger.   My  husband and I spent an entire day with him doing all the things he loved before we took him on that final trip to the vet.  He swam and played in the pool, played ball, had McDonalds fries and a cheeseburger for lunch and even had ice cream with his 'sister' Abby.   We miss him of course and so does our other little dog....it's heartbreaking as so many of you know but he had a great life of 11 years we can look back on.   We'll never forget you buddy!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still alive and sweatin' through the summer!

Hello people and may I say a big THANK YOU for all you nice followers that haven't dropped me off your blog lists!  I haven't had much time for blogging this year and I had such good intentions.  It's been a pretty crazy year around the WillowTreeStitcher household so far and things aren't looking up either.  My father-in-law is 86 and it got to be time for him to move to a facility where he could get some help due to health and aging issues over the last 4 months.  My husband and I found a nice assisted-care facility for him in the same retirement community where he's lived for 15 years.  He's adjusting well and doing a lot better.  The good food, exercise program, activities and medical help he gets onsite have made a big difference.  Meanwhile we're spending every week-end  clearing out his house to get it ready to sell, getting his car and other possessions sold and taking care of his financial affairs for him.  It's been a hectic time.  Clearing out and sorting through someone else's home really makes you take a good look at your own house and things you should get rid of!  Husband and I aren't hoarders but you sure do accumulate a lot of 'stuff' over the years. My craft room alone would probably make a few people faint not because it's messy but just the sheer volume of it all!

Meanwhile, my job continues to be very demanding and requiring me to do business travel about once a month which eats into my time. I hope to be retired in a couple years and really looking forward to a slower pace and more time for stitching, quilting, and whatever else I want to do.  I certainly will never be bored!   Meanwhile I stitch whenever I can grab the time whether it's 15 minutes or an hour here or there. 

I finished up Blackbird Designs "In Full Glory".  This was a fun little stitch but took a bit longer than I thought it would - there's more stitching in this than you would think.  I have a lot of pinkeeps/pincushions already so I went diving into my quilting fabric stash and made it into a little mini-quilt to hang on a wire stand I had. (the stand is from Ackfeld Manufacturing)   I found the perfect fabrics in my stash and the little motifs on the blue fabric look like fireworks to me.  I like to leave my patriotic things out from Memorial Day to Labor Day so will still enjoy this one until September. 

Progress continues on CCN's Frosty Forest.  I'm starting to see people out in Blogland and Facebook who have finished the whole series since the last pattern just came out. I only started this project in May but feel like I'm making good progress and I'm having fun stitching it.  I stole an idea from another stitcher who posted in one of the LHN-CCN groups and I'm adding a border to mine.  I took a pine motif from an LHN chart called "Pinetop Lodge" and modified and expanded it to fit my piece.  Maybe when I'm done I'll sprinkle some 'snow' in the border as well.   Here's a few photos of what I've done so far....I think the block with the two young deer is my favorite so far - they're just so CUTE!  Since I took this photo I've started on block 6.

Once I got that BBD piece done I rewarded myself with a new start naturally!   I've had "Emblem of Love" by With My Needle kitted up for a couple years already.  My start seemed like it was cursed though. I had kitted it up with a beautiful piece of 40-ct Lakeside Linen's Vintage Light Exemplar and a silk conversion I got from my local shop. When I started stitching the fabric just wasn't working for me.  It was a little too orange-y or something.  So I started over on a piece of 40-ct mystery linen from my stash.  I got the first Quaker medallion done but wasn't happy with it - the thread colors seemed too dull.   Back to the square one again...I ripped it out and did my own conversion to silks (it's charted for DMC and overdyed floss) and started a THIRD time.  Thank goodness I'm finally happy with my choices.  The thing I like about Quaker samplers is you get little happy-dance moments each time you finish a medallion LOL.  Here's a shot straight from the Q-snaps.......

A bit of finishing work to share.....this little pinkeep was stitched by a friend and I did the finishing. We both think it turned out cute!  I just happened to have a piece of purple fabric in my fabric stash that matched it perfectly.   I forget who the designer is on this piece...maybe BBD but I'm not sure.
I picked up a couple Halloween charts a month ago when The Strawberry Sampler had a sale.   I just couldn't resist.   Aren't these fabulous?!  Can't wait to start on them.
On a sad note....our beloved dog Buster was diagnosed with prostate cancer this week.  He's 11 and the outlook they gave us is poor.  We are absolutely crushed and heartbroken of course....I know so many of you are pet owners and will understand the pain we feel.   We plan to make the most of whatever time left that we are blessed with...they couldn't predict any timeframe for us.  He's always been such a lively dog and still acts the same so it's hard to believe he really is sick inside. 
Thank you for coming in to visit for a few moments, I really appreciate each and every one of you who stops by.
Our beloved Buster

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New start finally and framing happiness.........

Well it's hump day at work but a good day to do a blog post.  :)     I finally got started on CCN's Frosty Forest series in the past week or so and I finished up my first block.  I've having fun stitching this.   It took me awhile to decide on a linen but I liked that the white snow showed up well on this medium gray color.  I got this nice piece of Legacy linen when I visited The Inspired Needle in Illinois recently.    I wanted some 'sparkle' so I attempted to stitch all the snow with Glisten Gloss blending filament added in but I was unhappy stitching with it so I abandoned that idea. It's okay for a small bit of stitching but there is way too much snow in this project to do that much struggling, plus you can't get the stitches to look nice and even.  I've started on block 2 now and it's going well.  I'm behind lots of other stitchers who are working on this series but that's okay - I'm just going at my own pace.

"Raccoon Cabin" - f rom CCN Frosty Forest series
stitched on 34-ct Legacy "Puritan" linen

I was thrilled to recently pick up my giant framed Pride & Prejudice sampler. (it's 20" x 23")  This has been a long time coming and I'm finally ready to put this project completely behind me - yippee!  It's still wrapped in bubble-wrap as I haven't had time to hang it yet but I'm just thrilled it's finally done.  I picked an elegant frame and I'm very happy with how it turned out.  It's behind museum glass so had to play with the photo a bit but you get the idea.


 Here's a few other pieces that recently got done also.   Jenny Bean got a matte black frame that works well and it's hanging on my sampler wall.  Pardon the glare......
Jenny Bean Humble Servant Sampler
by Shakespeare's Peddler 
My Mississippi Riverboats piece is getting mailed off to my mother this week. I was supposed to be there to give it to her in person for Mother's Day but due to a lot of personal issues going on with both sides of my family right now I had to cancel my trip.  Hopefully I will get to visit in June.  I like that the frame has a couple different brown tones that go well with the piece.  Thank you LHN for creating the perfect pattern for me to make for my mom!
 Mississippi Riverboats by Little House Needleworks

That's all for today folks, thanks for stopping in to visit me for a few minutes.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Blame it on Pinterest!

I know a lot of people spend lots of time on Pinterest. I've had an account for a year or two but never had a whole lot of time to spend on it.  I was on there a few weeks ago browsing some cross-stitch boards and I decided to search on "cross stitch ornaments".  Oh dear........I had one of those "I've got to HAVE IT" moments when I saw a cuckoo-clock ornament posted.  I kept clicking until I got to the source where the photo came from and it was Flamingo Valley's stitching blog.

I hope no one minds I posted this collage of Flamingo Valley's
cuckoo ornaments but I wanted to share how lovely they are!
  Unfortunately the blog is in a foreign language (Russian maybe?).  She has a huge number of followers so maybe I was the only one not knowing about her blog!  Anyway I was using the translator function on the blog trying to figure out who the designer was of the cuckoo clocks.  Fortunately someone had asked about that very thing in a comment to her post and the blog owner had responded with the name of some French magazine -  De Fil en Aiguille and something about "hors-serie montagne".  Well thanks to Babelfish translator and Google searching I found out this was a French stitching magazine that has been out of print a few years and she was referring to a special Alpine-themed edition of the magazine from 2004.  I was disappointed to find the magazine was out of print but that didn't stop me...I checked eBay and found nothing then I thought of trying eBay France and voila!  I found the magazine listed there.  I used Babelfish translator again to format a message to the seller and sent her a photo of the ornament and asked her if that pattern was in the magazine she was selling as I wanted to make sure I was on the right track.   She responded with a photo of the pattern that was in the magazine and I put in a pretty good bid to make sure I won the magazine. I was so thrilled to have found it! I 've always had a fondness for cuckoo clocks...my great-aunt had a big antique one from Germany and all of us kids always loved it.    The pattern is for a cuckoo clock sampler and has 9 different cuckoo clocks to stitch - I love it!  I don't give up when I'm on the trail of something LOL.  Thank goodness for the internet  - when you can find a 10-yr old edition of a stitching magazine sold by a lady in Brittany, France then all is right with the world! This is an incredible stitching magazine too, it's a shame it is no longer printed as I wouldn't mind buying more editions - lovely patterns in it.

I finished up the piece I was stitching for my mother and I laced it myself because I need to get it back from the framer within 2 weeks.  It's only the second piece I've ever laced but I think it came out pretty good and it saves me some money doing the mounting of the piece myself.    I modified the pattern a bit - it's charted to say "Sawyer & Finn Riverboat Co." but I wanted the word "Mississippi" in the piece since my hometown is along the mighty Mississippi river.  I charted it out and filled in some  extra spaces at the ends with little ships wheels.  I think it came out pretty good and is at the framer now.

"Mississippi Riverboats" by Little House Needleworks

My lacing job..........

This piece reminds me of the Mark Twain riverboat at Disneyland.  No matter how many times I've ridden it I always make my husband ride with me every time we go.   I love Disneyland!

By the way the winner of the "Forever Young" pattern was Cindy (no blog).  She had emailed me to enter the giveaway and I'll have it mailed it off soon.  It's nice to be able to pass along a lovely pattern I'm done with.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Finishes and Fun.........

Hi all you stitchers out there, I hope spring is finally getting to most of you. I was in Illinois last week for a family issue and it was still in the 30's some days - brrrr!  Enough of winter already!  I was really glad to get back to warm Arizona.   Some of you may have seen the latest post on Laura's Maude & Mozart blog - we happened to meet each other when I stopped at a shop in the southwestern Chicago suburbs on my way to the airport to fly home last Saturday.  What are the odds?!?!?  I always enjoy Laura's posts about the ladies she stitches with at the shop and all the wonderful projects she shows us.  So I made time in my schedule to stop and see Laura's LNS The Inspired Needle in Lemont, Illinois.   I was there just a few minutes after the store opened and grabbing up some stash when in walked a customer who was greeted by the owner as "Ms. Duet".  Well I knew that was Laura's last name from reading her blog and we had emailed once or twice so I spoke up and said "Are you Laura?" and explained that I am a follower of her blog and mentioned my blog which she reads also.  It felt like the planets were aligning that we both happened to be in the shop at the exact same time yet we live in different states 1800 miles from each other!  It was so fun to meet a fellow blogger in person!   We snagged another customer to take a snap of us.  Laura hopes to get to the Phoenix area this summer for a trip to my LNS -  Attic Needlework. Hopefully we can meet up again - Laura it was great to meet you! 

Laura & Me at The Inspired Needle in Lemont Illinois -
two happy stitching bloggers!

I do have some finishes to share. I had fun stitching the "Forever Young" sampler from Heartstring Samplery with a friend - we did it pretty quickly and it was fun cheering each other on. I used some of my own thread substitutions and I did use just one thread instead of 2 in the greenery of the big fruit bowl as it seemed to let the "fruits" stand out a bit more.   This one is going to the bottom of the big framing pile for the time being because I have 3 pieces out being framed now and a few more waiting in the wings.    If anyone would like this pattern I will pass it along- just leave a comment stating you'd be interested in having it and I'll draw a name at the end of this week and send it to you.

"Forever Young" by Heartstring Samplery

It's been awhile since I've done much quilting but I had a chance to go to an open sewing day at a quilt shop near me a few weeks back.  They had a local quilt designer there all day and we had a blast - they were giving away all sorts of goodies all day and having raffles and it was nice just having an entire day to sit and sew again.  I've got a pile going of little stitched projects I am reworking/repurposing. Some pieces I just didn't like how they were framed years back or my skills had improved and I wanted to redo the finishing. I took 2 older pieces and put them on the front of 2 lined project bags I made. I really like how they turned out and it was fun seeing some old projects get a new life!  I also finished up a little pincushion kit I had picked up a few years ago in a quilt store - the quilt block is called "Arizona" and it came with a matching little charm.  It's stuffed with crushed walnut shells - lots of tiny tiny pieces to sew together!

I was getting in the Christmas spirit early this year doing a bit of finishing for a cyber buddy....I can't believe that we are the second quarter of the year already.  The top piece is mounted to a fabric-covered board to hang on a door and the other pieces were finished as ornaments.   I love all of them!

"Jingle as Ye Enter, Jingle as Ye Go" - design by Nancy at Victorian Motto

This is a little Prairie Schooler Santa finished as a flat ornie
(yes we have grass during the winter here LOL)

And I think these are Lizzie Kate designs but not entirely sure now...
I had grand intentions of stitching an ornament a month this year but my life has just been way too hectic. I did stitch this little JBW design which has been in my stash a long time...it's a little too big to be an ornament so I think I'll make it into a little flatfold hopefully soon. For some reason this little piece seemed to be cursed, I kept making mistake after mistake after mistake.  I finally finished the wording along the bottom as the last part when I noticed that the chart has two different capital P's used for Plum and Pudding.  So I had to rip out one of them and redo that as well but it's finally done.
"Plum Pudding" by JBW Designs
stitched on WDW Cocoa linen with DMC
Now I have to get busy stitching on a present I'm making for my mom...

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Stitching away......

I'm still here and still loving my stitching.   I'm sorry so many of you are still dealing with awful winter storms the last month or two....it's the perfect time of year here in the southwest.  I took time off work this week to entertain houseguests and attend 2 spring training baseball games.  It was wonderful being out enjoying good weather - we'll have  our bad weather this summer when the high temperatures get here.

I've been stitching on the Valentine Sampler pieces by With Thy Needle & Thread for awhile. For some reason that project seemed to take me a long time to do.  It wasn't only the stitching, there  was finishing work to do, the box to paint, etc etc.  Anyway, I'm happy to say it's finally finished.  I had a few of the Whitman heart-shaped candy boxes that are called for in the pattern.  You are supposed to paint one and mount the main stitched piece on the lid.  Well I got my box painted but I was a bit dismayed at how flimsy those boxes are and really there is very little room to fit in the stitched accessories and I'd already put a lot of work into them.  I decided to look for a better box so I headed over to Hobby Lobby. I was prepared to get any shape that would work but luckily they had a heart-shaped box paper mache that fit it just great and is very sturdy.  It's a bit taller than I wanted it but it worked out well. I lined it with music-themed scrapbook paper.    I changed things up a bit and did my own pincushion version using a few motifs from the chart and I made my needlebook with a snap closing and rickrack trim instead of the hanging buttons. I want to keep this set by my recliner and use it instead of just displaying it.

"Valentine Sampler" kit by With Thy Needle & Thread
stitched on Lakeside Linen Vintage Exampler linen

 The stitching accessories - folded sewing case for needles,  a pincushion and scissor fob
I also started a few new pieces in the last month.  I'm doing an SAL with a friend and we're stitching "Forever Young" by Heartstring Samplery.  Love the verse on this one which is from a song by Bob Dylan,  and also performed by Rod Stewart:
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others and
  let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
  and climb on every rung
And may you stay Forever Young
You can see the completed version of this on Beth Twist's blog:    http://thetwistfamily.blogspot.com/2014/01/new-forever-young.html   Here's my progress so far, I'm close to done with the verse and anxious to start on the bottom half of the sampler.  I substituted some of my own overdyed flosses and didn't use exactly what was called for in the chart but it's close.

I also started a piece for my mom from Little House Needleworks.  I grew up in a town in Illinois along the Mississippi River.  We used to go on the paddlewheel excursion boats occasionally although there aren't many of them left now.  When my mother was a young girl she spent several summers at her aunt's house along the river and she has always loved the riverboats.  When I saw this pattern I knew I wanted to stitch it for her.  Not too much to see yet but the boat is starting to appear and one of the two islands in the 'river' is done.  I'll be visiting my mom in May and want to have it done and framed to give to her then.

"Mississippi Riverboat" by LHN
I've been seeing some of the Market reports from various stitching shops...more cute items of course but nothing I didn't feel I had to rush out and buy.  Of course when you've got a room full of stash waiting to be stitched it sort of dampens the urge to get even more!   I can't think of hardly any of my charts that I don't want to stitch so I'm content to keep on stitching from stash for awhile.  I've got several projects kitted up and I'm so anxious to get started on them but I need to keep my head down and finish these couple of pieces first. 
I think I'm finally going to cave in and join Facebook...I've been resisting as I don't know how I'll find more time to spend on the computer when I can't keep up with all your blog posts.  So if you have any tips for me as to stitching groups I should check out please let me know!  
Hope spring is headed your way soon - thanks for stopping in!

Friday, January 31, 2014

New year, same old blogger habits!

Well my best intentions again didn't get me to blog any more frequently this month.  Just been way too busy with work travel etc but still trying to find pockets of time to stitch.   It seems like many of you are off to a roaring start for 2014 with old projects being finished and new ones started - I'm seeing great stuff out there on your blogs!

I finally stitched up one of LHN's Sheep Virtues...I had bought 6 of my favorites from the set of 12 published last year.  I dccided I wasn't that in love with the Dark Chino fabric - a little too dark for me and I prefer a higher count than 30.  So I finished up the one I stitched as a hanging pillow:

LHN "Peace" Sheep Virtue
stitched on 30-ct Dark Chino linen with mix of DMC & overdyed floss

I really like how it turned out but I have no place really for 6 pillows...hanging or not....so I've decided I'm going to start over and stitch all 6 sheep on one piece of fabric that is lighter in color and has a smaller thread count.  They are fun to stitch so I won't mind stitching this little Peace Sheep again.

I also stitched up an older Just Nan piece this month called "Beach Roses". I stitched this originally years back and made it into a biscornu for a swap Becky Bee had her SBEBB exchange board.  I always wanted to stitch it for myself "someday".  Well...someday finally arrived!  I plan to make it into a needlebook for myself as soon as I get the wool I ordered for the insides.  I love the little stitched white shells and the 'waves' around the edges.

Just Nan "Beach Roses"
stitched on lambswool linen with DMC

I feel like I've been on a country-wide LNS tour the last several months. (my wallet sure has felt it LOL) For some fortunate reason, the 3 places I've had to go for work travel have been places with great cross-stitch shops! I got to visit House of Stitches in northwest Indiana, StitchvilleUSA up near Minneapolis, and this month I was sent to Tulsa Oklahoma.  Now you all probably know what's in Tulsa - the SILVER NEEDLE!   I've always wanted to visit the shop and when I was told I was heading for Tulsa that's the first thing I thought of.   I stayed over an extra day.  While my coworkers were flying back home on Friday afternoon I headed over to cross-stitch Heaven.  OMG - what a fabulous shop it is!!  I was there at least 2 hours and all the employees were just nice as could be.  Lucky for me, I had a generous VISA gift card given to me by my brother for Christmas so I shopped and shopped and shopped some more.  I bought mostly patterns and linen cuts - they have a wonderful selection of linens.  I took some photos of course so I hope you enjoy seeing a bit of the shop - if you ever get a chance don't hesitate but head right over there for a cross-stitch overload!

Notice the "Help Wanted" sign!  Can you believe there aren't stitchers
beating the door down to work there?
Mill Hill overload!  This wall of Mill Hill kits blew me away totally. I have
several Mill Hill kits at home but to see a stitched model of every kit was unbelievable! I wanted to buy one of everything.  And that's not even all....around the corner is another section with all the Christmas ones! 
I've been collecting several of the Christmas Village series but not stitched any of them yet. I don't want a bunch of hanging ones but perhaps I'll make them a bit smaller and do cubes.  And may I mention that the Silver Needle has the most fabulous finishing work I've ever seen - the workmanship on all their model pieces in the shop is incredible! 

 Here's the Lizzie-Kate section - fabulous cubes, stand-ups, etc.  Loved how they made these individual cubes and stacked them up for display.

They had a Shepherd's Bush corner, a LHN area, a Hinzeit wall as you can see above, and an Autumn/Halloween section you see in the photo below. And of course there was much much more.   I saw so many models that I already have the patterns for and of course wish I could get them all stitched after seeing them finished in person.
I fell in love with this new Brenda Keyes sampler and the pattern came home with me - it's "Sweet Humility". Love how French it looks. 
They had several knotted ornaments displays made from Teresa Layman patterns. I've seen some of her works before in person but not as many as they had at The Silver Needle. They are truly works of art.  I have a couple of her patterns but as of yet have never finished a single one.  These ornaments below were in a little glass case so hard to photograph but stunning in person!  They are made of thousands and thousands of tiny knots - see how beautiful the shading is?  Unbelievable.  The owner of the shop told me that a couple of Teresa's pieces were the inspiration for some Christmas stamps from the U.S. Postal Service. Well-deserved I'd say!

I'm going to close with a photo of CCN's Santa's Village they had on display in a case by the cash register.  It's done over-1 on 28-ct.  I have all these patterns and was going to start it this year on 36-ct fabric over-2, but after seeing this I had to change my plans.  Now I want to stitch it over-1 - this was an awesome piece - you can judge the size by seeing the owner's hand at the top.  
So you can see what an inspiring visit I had at the shop - just loved it.  I'm headed back to Tulsa next Monday but unlikely I'll hit the store again....my bank account needs a rest LOL.  Thank you to my new followers and thanks to all who stop by my little cobwebbed corner of Blogland!  I just love talking stitching with you all.  Next time I'll have some finishing work to share that I just mailed off to a friend.  I'll wait until she has the pleasure of seeing them first before posting photos here. 
Until next time......keep on stitching!