Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow Is...

FINISHED!! Could you hear my cries of joy all over the eastern U.S.? With one day to spare, I finally put the last stitch into this mammoth piece earlier today. I can't believe that after spending much of my 2010 stitching time on this piece, it is finally complete... Ahhh--I feel like I can breathe again!

The 11th block really stretched my patience to its limits and there were days that I honestly didn't think I would finish before year's end. (As you can see, I put the date "2011" on the ship rather than stitching the charted date of 1802.) In spite of the stress that this block caused, it is actually one of my favorites. Overall, though, I would have to say that the block with the Christmas tree farm is the one I like the best. How about you?

The 12th block stitched up very quickly and, after much debate, I decided to add my own name and the current year. The general consensus among my stitching friends seemed to be that, since this isn't a true reproduction sampler, but one from the wonderfully creative imagination of Kathy Barrick, it is fine to substitute the actual stitcher's name. I changed the body color of the little spirit/angel/cherub to a peachier shade (DMC 950) since the charted color just didn't show up on my flax-colored Belfast linen.

I really want to thank you all for following along on this project with me throughout 2010--your support and encouragement helped more than you know. Now, I need some advice...I've never taken a piece to be framed and wonder how you handle a large piece like this. Do you press it at home and roll it up to take it in to the framer? Are there any questions, requests, etc. I should ask about? Glass or no glass? I'm not using a mat... Honestly, any advice you can offer would help me so much. I am a total novice at professional framing having always done smaller pieces myself...

Well, I guess you would like to see the entire piece? May I present my finished Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow...

Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow
Fabric: 32 ct. Flax Belfast Linen
DMC threads
Started January 1, 2010 ~ Finished December 30, 2010

Now, I have a conundrum--what do I stitch next? I'm actually going to have to "think" about that in 2011, aren't I? I've been going through my stash and have narrowed my first start for the new year down to a few pieces that have really been calling my name, but I still have to make a final decision. I've decided that 2011 will be a "Stitching From Stash" year. I have so many beautiful charts that just keep getting set aside in order to stitch newly purchased charts, don't you? So, I decided to work on bringing some of "my old friends" to life in 2011.

The other thing I know for sure is that I will continue my "ornament a month" stitching in the coming year and I'm so excited that a few of my online stitching friends will be joining in on the fun. I am truly appreciative of everyone's comments on my last post about the ornaments and my Christmas tree--thank you, thank you! I'll have to admit, I spent a fair amount of time standing in front of my tree this past week just admiring the little beauties. They really make me smile and I almost hate to put them away for another year... Here is a photo collage of our Christmas morning:

Christmas Morning 2010

I want to thank my friend, Cathey (aka Pumpkin) for sending me a cute addition to my collection of ornament charts. She surprised me with this chart from Milady's Needle called "Up On the House Top" along with a beautiful Christmas card (featuring her own amazing photography) last week. I love it, my friend, and you know that ornament charts are a perfect gift for me. Thank you so much, Cathey. My oldest son has been working up in Canada lately and he always says how nice and thoughtful the Canadian residents are--I told him I already knew that from my Canadian blogging friends like Cathey!

And from Gracie, I won a very special giveaway. She was generously giving away three of the DMC "Stitch Pink" Needlework Accessory Kits and I was lucky enough to win one. Not only did she include the kit (which contains the prettiest pink scissors, pink bobbins, and a pink needle threader), she also gifted me with some pretty pink ribbon fabric, pink variegated floss, pink "love" mints, and a tiny silver charm for breast cancer awareness. Thank you so much, Gracie. These gifts will all come in very handy when I make another ornament for The Pumpkin Patch & Co. Breast Fund next year. Cathey organized a group of 17 of us to stitch ornaments that were auctioned off in November to raise funds for breast cancer research. Our little group ended up raising $875! Just think how much money we could raise if more of us donated an ornament. Cathey/Pumpkin will be continuing the group next year so keep checking her blog if you would like to contribute an ornament for this wonderful cause in 2011...

I'm going to be taking a bit of a blogging break for a while. My youngest son and I are headed down to sunny and warm (please let it be sunny and warm, please let it be sunny and warm!) Florida to visit my parents next week. I should be back around mid-January with my annual birthday/2nd blogoversary giveaway for my followers. What will be included in the giveaway? Well, something you've seen featured in this post for one--hint, hint!

I truly love vintage postcards and the sentiment on this one is perfect for the approaching new year. 2011 is like a blank slate for us. As Edith Lovejoy Pierce said: "We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." I hope your new year is blessed with good health, much happiness, and everything that brings you smiles...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Final 2010 Ornaments

Hello everyone! First of all I want to thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments on my "Winter Circle" of snowpeople in my last post. There are clearly a lot of snowmen lovers out there! I loved reading which one each of you chose as your favorite, too. Well, I finally finished up my last two ornaments for my 2010 "Ornament a Month" challenge. November's ornament is from the Prairie Schooler "Santa Moon" (Book No. 53) booklet. I began stitching this over two, but it was turning out much too large for an ornament which caused me to start over and switch to my favorite "over one" stitching on 28 ct. black Monaco.

I just love how tiny the golden yellow Santa is--only two inches high. I changed the color of his robes to my favorite DMC 676 and his boots to 844, but the other colors are as charted. Now let me tell you, I lay awake at night worrying about sewing the crescent shape. It wasn't nearly as hard as I had imagined, but thank goodness for the power of trims and ribbons to help hide imperfections! Overall, I'm very pleased with November's ornament finish.

My December ornament is, what else--also a Prairie Schooler. I stitched only the very bottom motif of "The Night Before Christmas Sampler" from the chart Christmas Samplers (Book No. 63). Don't you love this tiny Santa? He is so skinny and "crazed" looking--almost looks as if he wants to throw the Christmas tree he is holding in his hand right at you!

Now I'm sure you're all familiar with the famous "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" poem, aren't you. You know the line where it says, "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse?" Well, apparently the little creatures who have taken up residence in our attic haven't read the poem or are at least choosing to ignore it. It has sounded like party central up there night after night. We've caught four of the little mice so far and things have quieted down so perhaps by Christmas Eve we really can say "not a creature was stirring!"

Anyway, this ornament is also stitched over one on 28 ct. Summer Khaki cashel linen using DMC threads. I changed the color of the house to DMC 676, Santa's robe to 221 and added some swirly, white snowflakes in the air. Then I simply enclosed the whole scene in a zig-zag border. To complete the ornament I turned it into a little pillow with the green checked fabric, rope-like braid, buttons, and a pair of shiny red jingle bells hanging from some thin sage-colored ribbon. I think this may be one of my favorite finishes of the year.

2010 Monthly Ornaments
I thought you might want to see all twelve ornaments displayed together on the garland going up my front stairway. I just hung them there for the photo--they eventually made their way to the Christmas tree in our sunroom. So which is your favorite? I really love all of them, but still think the tiny stocking that was my March ornament finish is the one I like the best. I just love that tiny black lamb on it. I'm so proud that I achieved one of my goals for 2010: to stitch and finish an ornament each month!

2010 Monthly Ornaments: January ~ June

2010 Monthly Ornaments: July ~ December

The mailman recently delivered two wonderful Christmas gifts from some dear blogging friends. First came this perfectly stitched Prairie Schooler Santa from fellow PS addict, Julianne. Perhaps this Santa was tired of life in sunny California and begged to be sent to snowy Pennsylvania to live? I just love him, Julianne, and he will have a place of honor on my tree. Right now he is sitting in the center of my kitchen island where I can admire him! Thank you so much for your lovely gift and for your friendship--I treasure both...

When I opened this gift from sweet Myra I could barely contain my excitement. Myra knows how much I love her project pouches and had gifted me with a beautiful one for my birthday last January. This pouch is a smaller version, perfect for storing my beloved ornament projects. I love the fabric, don't you? And just look at the tiny scissors charm she added to the zipper! Myra's sewing is gorgeous and I'm just thrilled to be the proud owner of this little gem. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my friend!

I'll leave you with a photo (all photos are clickable for a larger view) of my Christmas tree all decked out with my stitched ornaments. Our tree doesn't have a theme--on it you'll find ornaments made by my sons when they were in elementary and pre-school, the yearly Hallmark ornaments I have bought them since they were young, some golden Danbury Mint ornaments from my mother-in-law, and a few pieces from early in our marriage over 33 years ago when we didn't have a dime to our name. I love seeing the history of our family displayed on the Christmas tree each year.

My middle son thinks the tree looks too crowded, but I love it! It makes me so proud to think that I created many of these ornaments with my own two hands and that they'll someday be handed down through the generations. It is wonderful to have a hobby and passion for something that will leave a bit of you for others to remember, don't you think? I don't know if the guys can appreciate them now, but I think (hope!) that someday, they will treasure these tiny creations...

I want to wish each of you who celebrate Christmas a day filled with love and laughter...Thank you for being such wonderful friends who take the time to leave a comment, send an email, or just pop in to take a look at my blog. I truly have been blessed to "meet" so many wonderful stitching friends. Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winter Circle

Hello everyone! We've had some snow here in western Pennsylvania this week and it is so fresh and peaceful looking. Not sure if it was the snow or what, but yesterday I had this odd feeling that something was calling my name. I instinctively was drawn to the large wooden armoire in my family room. Slowly, I opened the second drawer on the left where I keep my finishes and "almost finishes" and there, on the very top, lay an angry mob of eyeless snowpeople. "Give us some eyes, Carol," they seemed to shout! "Hey, how about some buttons!" "Come on, lady, let us out of our dark prison--we've been shut up in here since 2007!" I sighed and reached for the little snowmen and women, gathered some black and white beads, my needle, thread, and scissors and within 90 minutes, I had a new finish. I even added some white beads in the center snowflake that weren't actually called for on the chart!

So what took me so long? It's simple: I really don't enjoy beading. Oh, I admire all of your beautifully beaded pieces, don't get me wrong. But, for some reason, I just don't like sewing on beads. Stitching beaded edges on ornaments doesn't bother me at all, it is just sewing beads onto fabric itself. How you stitchers stitch those intricately detailed beaded beauties just amazes me! What patience you must have...After three years, I'm thrilled to have "Winter Circle" (stitched on 28ct. summer khaki Lugana with DMC threads) by The Cricket Collection finally finished. They really are a winsome bunch, aren't they?

So which one is your favorite?

Do you like the grand couple off to the
opera? Don't you love his top hat and little vest.
And how about her turban with her golden yellow shawl?

Or maybe, you're partial to this little cutie.
Doesn't she remind you of Little Red Riding Hood?

Or perhaps, you like the simple casual look on this guy.
I think he might be the jeans and t-shirt type.

Or how about Mr. Prep with his argyle vest?
I think he just might be my personal favorite!

Or do you like one of the other three the best? I can't wait to get this framed and up on my wall for the rest of the winter. Finally finishing up this circle of snowmen gave me a much-needed break from slowly plugging along on "Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow."

Now, doesn't this look like fun? This is my progress so far on the infamous Block 11 of Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow. UGH! Black, black, and more black. It is really questionable whether or not I can finish this block and the final one by December 31st. I'm trying my hardest, but you all know how many other things there are to do this month! I haven't even begun my Christmas shopping or cards, but at least we got the tree up today! It is sitting in my sunroom as I write this, just waiting for its decorations.

Although I haven't begun my shopping yet, I've already received my very first Christmas present from my friend, Cindy, who thoroughly spoiled me with these goodies. She not only stitched this darling bird ornament from the 2010 JCS Ornament Issue, but also sent some delightful fabrics, red heart buttons, and the tiniest Hallmark Goldfinch ornament. I told her I had been thinking about starting a collection of those miniature Hallmark ornaments and so now it is official. I just love everything, Cindy, and your generous and giving spirit certainly exemplifies the Christmas season.

I'm feeling very old today because my middle son turned 25 yesterday! A quarter of a century ...unbelievable. He and my oldest son came over for their weekly Sunday dinner and to help decorate the tree today and this is what he is being rewarded with--his favorite dessert. Giant Chocolate Eclair Dessert--YUMMMMM... It really does taste like a Chocolate Eclair, but it's much easier to make. (If anyone would like the recipe, just email me.) So, "Happy, Happy 25th Birthday" to my dear middle son; I wish you a year filled with unexpected joys, love, and laughter... (and, hopefully, a job that you enjoy more than your current one!).

Well, I've rambled on long enough for now. I need to get the troops organized and get this Christmas tree decorated. I can't wait to pull out all of my treasured ornaments--they always bring smiles and laughs along with a few nostalgic and teary memories. Thank you all for visiting and for your wonderful comments and emails--they really mean so much to me! Bye now...