Monday, January 30, 2012

January Blues

I wonder why the color blue is always associated with the month of January? I was thinking about that the other day and just couldn't come up with a good answer. I suppose snow does take on a blueish cast in certain lights, but other than that, I can't think of anything "blue" about the month. On the other hand, maybe it is more about the mental state--the "blue mood"-- that some people find themselves in after the holidays. I remember as the mother of three young, rambunctious boys, how very long and endless the month of January seemed. I would occasionally feel a bit "blue" myself after being inside so much on those cold, gray days that seem to settle upon our part of Pennsylvania at this time of year. Those days seem to be behind me now, but when I do have an occasional "blue" day, I have several things that seem to help brighten my mood. Of course, stitching is one of those things, but also exercising, and believe it or not... cleaning! I'm sure some of you are groaning right now, but cleaning the house is such a mood lifter for me; there is nothing like that feeling when you're finished and everything is all polished and spiffy-looking. How about you--what works to chase away your January "blues?"

So, in the spirit of "January Blues," I have some blue finishes to share with you all. My first finish (finally!) of 2012, is "Snow White" by Little House Needleworks. As I mentioned in my last post, I didn't enjoy stitching on this Heatherfield fabric, but I do love the result...the tiny blue flecks in the fabric add so much. I used DMC 3865 rather than the suggested Belle Soie silk and really like the look of it on the blue. Now, I just need to find a creamy white frame and I'll have a nice new piece to showcase during the winter months.

I just couldn't resist stitching this adorable, bald snowman shivering in the January winds. I'm sure you all recognize this as a Lizzie Kate piece. It's called "A Bit of January" and is stitched on 32 ct. sage Jobelan--always a favorite fabric of mine whenever I'm stitching winter scenes because the snow stands out so well. It was stitched with whatever overdyeds I had in my collection. I then made it into a little pillow using fabric from an old flannel shirt (one long abandoned by one of my sons--probably from the '90s!). I added a bit of white ric rak peaking out from the flannel and kept the finish quite simple. Here is the final result:

Now, this little guy looked pretty forlorn all by himself, so I went to my drawer of "unfinished finishes" (you all have those, right?) and decided it was high time I released more snowmen into the light of day. I spent most of Friday finishing all five pieces. Three of these were stitched years ago--you know how I can tell? Because they're done on aida which I probably haven't used in seven or eight years. I think the designs have held up quite well, though, and here is the remainder of my "January Blues" collection:

Sue Hillis's "The Weather Outside"
freebie available here.

Lizzie Kate January Stamp Flip-It

Sue Hillis's "Yankee Doodle Dandy"

Whispered By the Wind Snow freebie
which you can find here. I tufted
it in the middle and attached
a navy
blue button on the back.

So, what did I do with all of these little pillows? Well, I found this lovely long wooden bowl on sale at Kohl's before Christmas. After deducting my $10.00 Kohl's cash from a previous purchase, I paid a grand total of $3.23 for this wonderful piece. I bought it expressly for displaying my seasonal small finishes and here is my first winter group... (click on it for a larger picture). What do you think?

I was so surprised to receive a wonderful birthday gift from Michelle at "Heart in Stitches" blog all the way from South Africa! Now, who in the world would ever have thought I would have a sweet young friend half-way across the world--the miracles of blogging! I'm so touched that Michelle sent me this beautiful pale blue pinkeep along with assorted ribbons, threads, beads, fabrics, chocolate (!), and a lovely beaded scissor fob. Isn't the pinkeep lovely? So nicely stitched and finished and in one of my favorite shades of blue. Your kind and generous gifts are wonderful, Michelle--thank you so very, very much. I love each and every item!

I had a couple of nice giveaway wins lately... First of all, back in December, I won Terri's "Christmas Basket of Cheer" giveaway. Just look at this stunning pillow that Terri made especially for me. She asked me what colors I liked (blue and buttery yellow) and what motifs (I told her birds or rabbits) and from that information she proceeded to select and adapt a design just for me. The antique lace she added is so special as is the backing fabric. You can read more about the details, colors, and chart on Terri's Dixiesamplar blog . I feel so honored, Terri, that you gave up your free time to stitch this for me. It looks like it was made to order for my family room and I couldn't have stitched anything I like more myself! In addition to the little pillow, she made me a monogrammed scissor fob, and attached it to a lovely pair of gold Ginghers. Inside she included a penny for good luck--I'll have to remember that sweet touch! Fabrics, charts, ribbon, needles, and chocolate (!) rounded out this treasure trove. Thank you so, so much, Terri--I'm just thrilled with all of your goodies! It was fun getting to know you in the "design process," too. I feel that I've made a wonderful new friend all the way down in Alabama!

And, after many, many years of being the lone female in my house (even our cat was male), I'm pleased to announce I finally have a sweet little girl--a knitted girl bunny courtesy of Julie from Julie's Stitchyknitter Journal. I won Julie's 5th blogoversary giveaway and she made me this adorable little cutie! When she arrived, Miss Bunny was a bit hungry so I found this basket of carrots for her. And she's still adjusting to my odd American accent, but I think she's beginning to feel right at home. Julie's knitting is amazing and she wrote on her blog that over 50 of her precious bunnies are now living all over the world. I've seen them on other stitchers' blogs and I'm so proud to have my very own "Julie made" creation. But, what to name her?? Any ideas? Having only named boys, I'm at a bit of a loss... I do have one idea, but I'd love to hear your suggestions! Thank you so very, very much, Julie--I know she will make a most delightful stitching companion...

Well, that wraps up another lengthy post. I do appreciate each one of you who has stuck it out till the very end! I always have the best intentions of writing shorter posts, but somehow they always end up too long... Thank you to each and every one who visits, leaves a comment, or sends an email. I know blogging takes time and I truly appreciate you sharing some of yours with me. Enjoy your week my friends! Bye for now...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beginnings and Birthdays

Thank you, thank you for the wonderful birthday wishes you left me on my last post. With each one I read, it seemed to make turning 57 "just a bit" easier to take! I truly love how this cross stitching blog community brings together stitchers of all ages to inspire and offer support for our passion, don't you? I know I'm one of the "older generation" in the world of cross stitcher bloggers and I love the fact that I've made friendships with people of all different ages from all over the world. It's been a wonderful three years since I began my blog and I've gotten so much more out of it than I ever dreamed I would. If any of you are thinking about starting a blog of your own, I highly encourage you to!

What have I been working on so far this year? Well, a bit of a larger than normal piece (for me at least). I've had the lovely Nature's Alphabet by Elizabeth's Needlework Designs in my stash for years and finally it just begged me to stitch it. I'm loving this one, even though all that hunter green backstitching between each blog is a bit tiring. I'm up to the "P" block now, but don't want to spoil the surprise so I'll just share just a few of my favorite blocks so far: "E" is for Ewes, "L" for lavender, "D" for daisies, and "C" for cherries... (These are all stitched on one large piece of linen--I just photographed the blocks separately and created this little collage). Aren't they pretty? And the specialty stitches add such beautiful texture!

My other new start is Little House Needlework's "Snow White" which I'm stitching on 16 ct. Stardust Heatherfield. It's such a pretty fabric with the flecks of blue and the wooly appearance, but it is not my favorite to stitch on--it's just too "flopsy" for me. I like a fabric with more body. Anyway, here is my progress so far--it should be finished up next week.

So, I'll bet you're all wondering about the birthday dinner that my two older sons cooked for me? Well, I'm happy to report there wasn't a green vegetable in sight--not one!! They served me chicken parmesan on angel hair pasta, garlic bread, fruit salad, and for dessert these wonderful cupcakes. It was so hard to pick just one flavor--there was mint chocolate chip, peanut butter, strawberry, double chocolate, yellow with chocolate frosting, and red velvet. Which would you have chosen? I finally selected the double chocolate, but had a taste of my husband's peanut butter one as well--absolutely scrumptious!! The guys gave me a variety of stitching and crafting gift cards and a new GPS (I'm known for having absolutely no sense of direction so this will be a huge help!) which I'm still smiling about. I love you so very much my guys; thanks for making my birthday one to remember...

I was thoroughly spoiled by my blogging friends as well... In fact, I feel truly honored to have so many kind and caring friends in the stitching world. You made me feel so special and I thank you all for your friendship as well as all of your generous and thoughtful gifts.

From the always thoughtful Myra, came this lovely group of gifts. She knew I didn't have many summer charts so she fed my "over one" addiction with these tiny By the Bay "Stitch An Inch" charts and a lovely pendant complete with seashell trim to frame one of them. The overdyed floss she included is a perfect soothing shade for summer stitching. Thank you, thank you, dear Myra--you are such a generous and kind friend!

Cindy, one of my very first blogging friends and fellow January birthday girl, sent me this sweet LHN chart called "This Is My Joy." With it she included not only the fabric, but a skein of Belle Soie silk in the loveliest shade of burgundy. I've never stitched with silk before and am so looking forward to it. Along with the stitching things, Cindy sent me a very cute Christmas mug to hold my hot chocolate while I'm munching on those chocolate covered raisins which she included. Your gifts truly made me smile, Cindy, and I want to thank you so very much!

All the way from Ireland, came this bunch of goodies from dear Lois. Isn't this pincushion the prettiest little thing? Lois knows I love blue and she chose such a soft, soothing color to stitch it in. She also included a skein of blue overdyed thread, a cute bookmark (perfect for a book-loving librarian like me!), and the cutest note cards... Lois, you have my color scheme down perfectly. If you could see all the blue and white in my house--you would know how much your gifts appeal to me! Thank you again for remembering me on my special day!

I was tickled pink to receive a surprise gift from dear Linda. She is one of my fellow "Grape Arbor Stitchers" whom I meet with each fall for a few days up in northern Pennsylvania. Linda sent me a generous gift certificate to 1-2-3 Stitch which I can't wait to use. I told her I already know exactly what I'll be spending it on--the threads for some of those darling Word Play charts that I received for Christmas. Thank you, thank you, Linda--you were so kind to remember me with something you knew I would love!

Brenda, my stitching friend from the Chicago area, surprised me with this packet of goodies. Isn't this scissor fob the cutest thing? It is stitched on both sides--a Goldfinch on one and a Martin birdhouse on the other. So perfectly stitched over one--I just love it, Brenda! She kept up her "bird" theme (which I love!) with a hummingbird needleminder and a lovely compartmentalized box which is perfect for holding buttons, bows, and charms. It turns out she and I share a birthday, so if you haven't visited her blog lately, please stop in and wish her a "Happy Birthday" as well! Thank you, Brenda--your thoughtful and generous gifts truly touched my heart...

Another gift from "across the pond" came from sweet June. Just look at this darling linen pouch embroidered with ribbons--how dainty and charming. I'll bet that is a hobby I might enjoy some day (if and when I have more spare time!). The bag was filled with this assortment of blue trims and ribbons and tiny butterfly and bird embellishments. And look at that birthday card--it's shaped like a frilly pink purse. I was so surprised to get your goodies, June, and I can't thank you enough for remembering me!

And last, but definitely not least, my fabulous friend, Valerie, sent me the cutest scissor fob in a pretty blue paisley pouch. The fob has all of my favorite shades of blue and such pretty accent beads... (Do you think everyone knows I like blue? I'd say they've figured me out quite well!). I'd love to visit San Francisco some day, meet Valerie in person, and have her take me on one of her "urban hikes". Watch out, Valerie--I just might make it out there some day! Thank you very much, my friend... you were so kind to remember me on my birthday!

I was also lucky enough to win a giveaway from Kathy Ellen. She sent me this gorgeous Carriage House Samplings design called "Quaker Christmas Samplers" for my prize. I can hardly wait to start stitching this one for next Christmas--I'm trying to decide on the perfect blue overdyed or silk. Any suggestions? Do any of you have a favorite blue thread that you've used? Thank you so much, Kathy--it's always a pleasure to visit your blog and your 12 Days of Christmas gifts made twelve stitchers, including me, very, very happy!

Whew! I still can't believe my luck in having "met" so many wonderful friends through my blog... Your comments, emails, cards, gifts--my goodness; I really have been overwhelmed by your kindness. I've been so very blessed in my life and I count each of you among my blessings. Thank you again for making my birthday so incredible--it certainly was one I'll never forget. Enjoy your day everyone--and take some time to do whatever makes you happiest! Bye for now...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Good January morning to you all! And thank you again for all of your wonderful comments on my last post. I had so, so many questions about the title of the wintry design in my blog header, that I thought I'd answer those first. The chart is "Monthly Sampler: January" by Waxing Moon Designs which I stitched back in January 2010. If you're interested in seeing the whole design and reading about my finish, please click here. I remember it as being the perfect piece to stitch during that cold, cold January two years ago. Luckily, this January has proven to be very mild with little snow so far, but snow is forecast for tomorrow, so our luck could be changing.

NO-REPLY BLOGGER ISSUE: I tried to respond to each of you who asked about the January design individually, but some of you still don't have your email attached to your comments or blogs. When that happens, I get the dreaded "" when I hit reply. There have been a lot of posts about this lately, but I'm jumping on the bandwagon, too. It is very frustrating to not be able to answer your questions directly. Luckily, two stitching friends addressed this exact problem in recent posts. Stitchin' Sweet Sue, tells you exactly how to correct this problem in her post right here. And Shirlee, at her newly renamed blog, "The Easily Influenced Stitcher," has another helpful post right here. Please, please check your status--there are so many times I would love to say "thank you" for one of your kind comments or answer your questions, but there is no way to get in touch with you if you are a "no-reply" commenter. Check out either link and follow the simple instructions--we'll all be glad when we can communicate with each other more easily, right?

FINAL 2011 ORNAMENTS: I'm happy to say that my last four ornaments of 2011 were finally delivered to their new owners. That made a total of nine ornaments I created in December for friends!! It took a while, but this Prairie Schooler kitty is now residing with my blogging friend, Edit all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Edit, who is Hungarian, but lives in Spain, and I became friends when she won one of my giveaways a while back. She is just as much of a Prairie Schooler lover as I am so I also included an old Just Cross Stitch magazine with a PS rooster chart in her Christmas package. I'm so glad she liked my gifts!

If this ornament looks familiar, it's because this is the third time I've stitched it! I only stitch things again that I really like, so you know I must really love this one to have stitched it three times. This snowflake went to a dear co-worker at the library who recently retired. I've given her an ornament each year for the past six or seven years, but she said this one is her favorite and she plans on leaving it out all winter. This Prairie Schooler piece is from No. 23: "A Prairie Year II.

This gingerbread boy took so long to arrive in England, I feared the poor thing was drifting aimlessly somewhere in the Atlantic. But, thankfully he found his way to his new home with my lovely friend, June. Again, this is the third time I've stitched this little guy--this one is stitched over one on 28 ct. evenweave. I ruched some gauzy burgundy colored ribbon to add for the trim and hanger. This one went to June because she is so full of J-O-Y; her blog is always a treat!

This next snowman probably looks familiar, as well! You all loved him so much when I stitched him last year, that I decided my youngest son's girlfriend might like one of her very own for a little remembrance at Christmas time. She really seemed to like him and sent me the sweetest thank-you note. I finished him exactly like the one that hangs on my own tree using 28 ct. sage jobelan and DMC threads. He is stitched over one as well, and, of course, a little plaid bow completes his look!

One of the most common questions I'm asked is how I make those tiny bows that you see on so many of my ornaments... Well, if it weren't for the helpful tutorial of that amazing finisher, Barbara from "To Stitch or Not To Stitch", I wouldn't know how to make them either. She did a wonderful step-by-step tutorial back in 2010 which you can find right here. My bows differ only in that they are much smaller. I start out with only about a seven inch piece of ribbon (usually 9 mm or 3/8 inch, but sometimes I use wider ribbon as you can see in the black and white gingham). And rather than tying another piece of ribbon around the center, I just wrap the thread (that I've used to gather up the center) around and around and tie it in the back to create a nice look. Trim the ends as long or short as you like and voilà--you have a sweet, (almost) perfect bow! Give it a try--it only took about half an hour to make the six in my photo.

I was totally caught by surprise when I received the most amazing RAK (random act of kindness) from Annie! I mean, sometimes, you suspect something is up, but, Annie truly, truly surprised me... And what a surprise it was. I first started following Annie's blog because of the darling little tin finishes that she does. I'm so proud to now have an original "Annie-made" tin of my own. Just look at this little perfectly-stitched beauty... She chose my favorite color, blue, included my initials, and inside, tucked the cutest pair of scissors.

But, wait--that's not all! In addition to some yummy chocolates, Annie also crocheted a charming gift-card holder in the most soothing shades of blue and green. And snuggled inside was a very generous Amazon gift card to buy myself a book or two for my Kindle. I think it took me an entire day to stop shaking my head in disbelief at Annie's generosity. You really spoiled my, my friend, and I will treasure your gifts! Thank you, thank you, thank you...I'm so glad our paths crossed through this amazing cross stitch blogging community.

So, do you have any special plans for the weekend? Since my ♫♫♫ birthday ♫♫♫ is coming up on the 16th, my sons thoughtfully asked what I wanted. I told them what I really wanted was to be invited to their apartment for dinner for a birthday dinner. They couldn't believe I would want to come to their "junky apartment" (their words!). But, I haven't been there in almost 3 years, so I can't wait! In a way, it will almost be like "going home again" since most of their furniture is the stuff we bought when we were first married. I can't wait to see what they plan to feed me; they're teasing me saying they'll be making a dish with lots of vegetables. For you long time readers, you know I don't eat green vegetables (remember this post from back in 2010), so I really hope they're just having a bit of fun with old mom.

Well, the next time I post, I'll be a year older. Funny how these birthdays keep coming around faster each year, isn't it? I'll leave you with the image of this beautiful bouquet of roses my three sons surprised me with on Christmas... Enjoy your weekends everyone and thank you again for your thoughtful comments and emails--I'm blessed to have each one of you in my life. Bye for now...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcoming in 2012!

Happy New Year!! As another year begins, I want to thank all of you special cross stitching friends who have visited my blog over the past twelve months. Your kind comments and emails have been so encouraging and down-right complimentary that I feel blessed to have "met" each one of you. You've brought me more smiles than I can count and turned what sometimes began as a "horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day," into one filled with sunshine and warmth. You are such a special group and I simply want to let you know how much your friendship has come to mean to me, how inspired I have been by your stitching, and how happy I am to have started blogging almost three years ago...

December found me stitching a few small ornaments to send to blogging friends around the world. I wish I could have done more--simply ran out of time. Perhaps this year, I'll be able to plan ahead a bit more and add a few more people to my gift list. These are the gifts that have made their way to their new homes so far...

This trio of snowmen is now making their home with Shari in Indiana. Shari has triplet grandsons so I knew this would be a perfect choice for her. "Let It Snow" can be found in the Winter 1994 issue of Cross Stitch Sampler magazine.

"Christmas Robin" flew across the miles to the other side of Pennsylvania and is now making his nest at the home of Mary. This chart, by The Victoria Sampler, can be found in the 2010 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue and it was stitched on 35 ct. natural Northern Cross linen (loved that stuff--thanks for the recommendation Theresa).

This was the second time this year, I stitched this L'R de rien freebie. My first one was done on pale pink; this one, for Cindy in New York, is stitched on 28ct. Wood Violet Jobelan, a lovely shade of lavender. I thought it would be a nice reminder of her daughter's trip to Europe this past year which included a visit to Paris.

Of course, you'll recognize my next finish as a Prairie Schooler Santa. I stitched him "over one" on 28 ct. tea dyed Monaco for my dear blogging friend, Lois, in Ireland. Lois was my fellow "Ornament a Month" stitcher this year and her 2011 collection is stunning--stop by her blog and check it out. This was the only one of my gifts which arrived in Europe in time for Christmas! There are still packages sent to friends in Spain and England which seem to be missing in action... I sure hope they make their way to their new homes eventually.

And to one of my very first blogging friends, the cardinal loving Myra in North Carolina, went this sweet ornament by Plum Pudding Needleart called "Winter's Song." I hope you're not getting tired of cardinals, Myra--you're certainly getting quite a collection!! I stitched this one "over one" on 28 ct. Bay Leaf Jobelan--a fabric I know I'll be using again. I loved the simple message on it...

I received a few goodies in the mail last week myself! I am always overwhelmed by the kindness of my fellow stitchers. All the way from The Netherlands came this sweet felt ornament created by the bubbly, very creative, Annette. I was especially touched that Annette stitched mine with blue threads knowing how much I love all shades of blue. Thank you so much, my sweet friend--your joyful blog always makes me smile!

From the very generous Mary came this bounty of Christmas gifts... a darling snowman chart, four pretty fabrics, peppermint chocolate truffles (oh, the pure decadence!), and not one, but two Christmas ornaments. One is a fun polka-dot ball monogrammed with a "C" and the other has three little snowmen bursting out of a Christmas present. On the bottom of it, Mary wrote: "3 Boys...Many Joys!" Yes, my three boys have brought me many joys and so have you, my friend! Thank you so very much for your wonderful gifts...

My final package came as a giveaway win from Shirlee at The Easily Influenced Stitcher. I received not only the LHN "Two White Houses" chart, but the fabric and floss needed to stitch it. I just love my prize, Shirlee, and I'm thrilled to have found a new blogging friend as well. In our correspondence regarding where to send my prize, we discovered that Shirlee grew up not more than half an hour from where I currently live. What a small world!! Thank you so much for the delightful gift, Shirlee--it will make a perfect piece to stitch in the fall...

As you can see, my first post of the new year seems to be sticking to my overly long format. I so appreciate you staying with me this far! Where will 2012 take me in terms of stitching? Well, I'm not really one to make goals other than my "Ornament a Month" continuing. I like to just stitch whatever calls my name at the moment... And there is a long-overlooked chart in my stash which seems to be screaming to me more loudly than the others at the moment. What is it? Well, I guess you'll just have to wait and be surprised!

Wishing each of you very a most wonderful new year. May 2012 be filled with love, laughter, and, of course, more time to stitch! Bye for now...