Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Favorite Freebie Finishes: 2012 Edition

Good morning all! I've just returned from my monthly 600 mile round-trip journey to visit and help out my parents. Unfortunately, I got no stitching done while I was up in New York because, guess what ~ I forgot my needle! Luckily, the iPad that I received for Christmas kept me very busy playing "Words With Friends" (I'm totally addicted!), admiring all of your lovely new stitching and stash, and trying to figure out those horrid, new word verification "captchas." Mine has been removed from my blog to make it easier for you to comment and so far, any spam comments have been caught by the spam file on blogger, so I guess I'm going to leave things this way and see how it goes. Interestingly, when I used my mom's Mac to comment on blogs this weekend, the two "jumbled" words were very easy to read so I wonder if those of you who have Apple computers are all having an easier time with the changes than those of us who don't?

One of my most popular older posts was my Favorite Freebie Finishes back in October of 2010, so I decided it was time for another. I'm always so thankful to designers for sharing their talents with us through the form of freebies, aren't you? Several of you have asked if I'm doing my "ornament a month" finishes this year and the answer is "yes"--in fact, here are my first three... It just so happens that each of my Christmas ornaments so far this year has been stitched from a freebie chart. I didn't plan it that way, they just happened to be what I picked. I've also added the links for each one to my list of "Favorite Freebies" in my sidebar.

First up, is this sweet "Noel" freebie with its scenes of winter: the snowflake, the swag of holly, and the inviting looking house with heart-shaped smoke drifting up from its chimney (which, as I'm writing this, I realize I forgot to stitch--yikes!! Oh well, I'm not going to try to add it at this point!) . I found this one on a new-to-me French blog called "Balades et Broderies" and the chart can be found right here. Carmela offers quite a variety of cute freebies so check out the rest of her blog, too.

My January ornament is stitched over one on 28 ct. black Monaco. No colors were suggested by the designer, so I chose DMC B5200, 815, and 3051. Very simple, but effective on the black, don't you think? To finish it off, I ruched a bit of burgundy and white gingham ribbon and topped it with a white pin. It is very small--just a bit over two inches wide by two inches high. For me, the smaller the ornament, the better!

When I first saw Melissa's version of this next freebie back in 2010, I fell in love with it and knew I would stitch it myself some day. I hope she doesn't mind, but I "borrowed" her color ideas and used similar shades of overdyeds that I had in my collection (WDW Cocoa, Ivy, and Raspberry). Here is the chart for this cute deer freebie, and I'm sure you'll love many of the other free charts available on the main page of this site which you can find by clicking here.

To finish my February ornament (which is also stitched over one), I made a simple hanging pillow ornament with a bit of sage green fabric, rope-like trim and hanger, and a trio of soft cocoa colored buttons. You'll notice that I didn't stitch the border as charted because, well, the mystery piece of scrap linen that I used wasn't quite big enough for it! I think it looks great on its own, though, don't you?

And, believe it or not, I'm a bit ahead of the game as I've already finished my ornament for March, too! This comical melting snowman and his long-legged crow buddy were so adorable, I just had to stitch them. Doesn't it look as though the crow is just waiting for the perfect chance to pluck that tasty carrot nose from the snowman and eat it for his dinner? The chart for this freebie can be found right here on the French blog "Jura Point de Croix". I just used a small portion of the design and also changed the border so it would be symmetrical.

Vonna's extremely thorough tutorial on finishing a Mounted Flat Ornament was so helpful. Thank you, Vonna, for all the time you've spent creating those detailed tutorials in an effort to help each of us become better finishers! I used a fun black and white polka dot material for the backing and trimmed it with three silver jingle bells, burgundy satin ribbon, and handmade cording. It's quite a bit larger than my normal ornaments, but I'm still very pleased with how it turned out. So, there you have it--my first three ornaments of 2012.

I want to thank one of my Canadian blogging friends, Kathy, for passing along this darling LHN chart called "Summer Splendor." I had admired Kathy's finish of it on her blog and she so generously offered to pass along the chart. I'm especially thrilled because I have so few true "summery" pieces that this one will be a joy to finish and display. Thank you, my friend--I can hardly wait to start stitching this one as soon as I purchase the threads...

Do you remember when I last posted, I was feeling a bit forlorn because my husband had gone on a skiing trip to Utah leaving me alone for Valentine's Day? Well, he tried to make up for it by leaving me this surprise box of chocolates--aren't they incredible? You can click on the photo to get a better view--each one is painted like a miniature work of art. Why, they were almost too pretty to eat--almost!! They came all tied up in that pretty pink, satin ribbon, too--just perfect. Yes, my dear husband is in my good graces again--he knows chocolate goes a long way toward winning my heart...

Is anyone else shocked at how quickly this year seems to be passing by? It's hard to believe March is nearly here, isn't it?! When I was up at my parents' home this weekend, we watched that charming movie, "My Dog Skip." My dad seems to be totally enchanted with children and dogs these days, so I thought it would be a perfect movie to make him smile... Anyway, a line from it really gave me pause:

"Why, in childhood and youth, do we wish time to pass so quickly - we want to grow up so fast - yet as adults we wish just the opposite?"

Do you remember those times? The days when it seemed like forever 'till you were allowed to walk to the store all by yourself, go on your first date, or learn to drive.... And then suddenly, time seemed to be passing by more and more quickly and you began to wish it would simply slow down. When did that change occur? For me, I think it happened when my sons were born. I just wanted to hold their tiny hands a bit longer while they crossed the street and shelter them a few more minutes from the reality--sometimes harsh--of the grown up world. And now, as my fifties seem to be whizzing by faster than any previous decade, I long for the world to slow down more than ever. I have no desire to go back in time or to relive my life at a younger age; I'm happy being at this stage of my life. I just think I need to be more mindful of things that are happening around me right at the moment and to take time to really enjoy even the smallest things in life to their fullest... How about you?

Well, that's all I have to share with you for now. Thank you, as always, for stopping by and taking the time to say "hello." I truly love hearing from each and every one of you and I so appreciate your kindness and friendship--you guys are the best! Wishing you all a wonderful week--and remember to slow down, treasure those simple moments, and take some time for yourself. Bye for now...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hearts and Flowers

Good morning everyone! Hope your week is off to a wonderful start... Any special plans for Valentine's Day? Since I have to work that night and my husband is off skiing in Utah, I'll be having a lonely day (boo hoo!!), but I've been trying to get into the Valentine's Day spirit by stitching a few cute holiday designs. Before I share them with you, I want to thank you all for your wonderful comments on my last post! Wow!! I've never had that many comments before (except when I offered a giveaway)... I guess everyone liked my bowl-full of January smalls? I also want to wish a warm welcome to my new followers--so glad you're here!

The first finish I have to show you is a Prairie Schooler design which can be found in the "From the Heart" chart. I stitched it on 35 ct. natural Northern cross linen with the suggested DMC threads. I did change the border though. I thought there was too much green so I substituted a white and pink border instead. I just thought it gave it a more "Valentiney" look.

I love this natural Northern Cross linen because white shows up so well on it. That and sage jobelan are my "go-to" fabrics for snowy stitching. To finish it off, I made it into a little pillow with a pretty fabric in the shades of red used in the cross stitch. I then added a bit of the tiniest crocheted lace which I found at Joann Fabrics. What do you think?

I know you've seen this design on many stitching blogs lately. It is from the "Quaker Valentines" chart by The Stitcherhood and I truly enjoyed stitching it. I used a lovely 28 ct. cashel linen in cream and Crescent Colors Wild Berries thread. It is actually a more "berry" looking shade in real life. I just love the script on this one--probably because I admire beautiful handwriting which is an ability I'm seriously lacking in!! Seriously, I can't write--I always print!! When I try to write, I always end up making mistakes! It is like there is a disconnect between my brain and my right hand... Anyway, the only time I ever write my name is when I'm signing a document or a check--strange, aren't I?

For the finish, I decided I wanted a tiny--and I do mean tiny--pillow so I stitched it over one. To make the little pillow, which measures a mere 1 1/2 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches long, I used the same cashel linen for the back and simply stitched the edges together with the same Wild Berries thread. Instead of stuffing it with my usual fiber-fill, I used crushed walnut shells. Love the "squishy" feel of it!

Doesn't this adorable Lizzie Kate February Flip-It bring back some long-ago Valentine's Day memories? Remember decorating our shoe boxes in grade school with hearts and flowers made from construction paper, white paper doilies, and glitter, and then setting them out for fellow students to put those corny little valentines (like these) inside? I just loved those Valentine's Day parties at school and always hoped that my "secret crush" might give me a special Valentine each year...

Once again, I used the 35 ct. natural Northern cross linen for this piece along with the suggested Sampler Threads. I didn't have the called-for charm so I found this antique bronze colored heart in my stash which I think works perfectly. I thought the pale pink fabric dotted in brown and a brown ric rak edging complemented the design nicely...so cute! There is just something so fun and appealing about polka-dots, don't you think?

In my ongoing effort to finish off some of those pieces in my "unfinished finishes" drawer, I searched through it and the following two things seemed to be perfect for some February finishing. First up is another Lizzie Kate (called "Be Mine Valentine" piece (which is the same one featured in my header). I've stitched it twice--once as a a card which I sent to my dear parents and the second which I stitched in 2011 (you can click here to read the details on fabric and fibers used. Since I hadn't done a flat pinkeep finish in a while, I decided this would make a nice one. I'm really pleased with how it turned out with it's pink gauzy bow and lavender and white pins... The lovely roses are from my husband--an early Valentine's gift since he was going to be away on the actual day.

I also came across an old Prairie Schooler finish from Book No. 23:"A Prairie Year II." I'm not sure when I actually stitched this--probably in 2008 or 2009, but I'm so happy to finally have it finished and on display. I used the burgundy and white flannel fabric (yes, from another son's old shirt!) for the backing and then tufted it in the middle with a pair of red and white buttons. I really like it turned on the diagonal like this, don't you?

Here is a photo of all five of my February Valentine's Day finishes all together. As you can see, my tastes are quite eclectic!

And here they are in my long wooden bowl!
I'm having such fun filling up this wooden bowl that I might try to do it each month. I think the summer months of June and August might be hard to find things to stitch for it, but we'll see how I do... Anyone have any cute March ideas for me? I already have one leprechaun with his pot of gold that I stitched long ago that needs to be finished, but I'll have to look through my stash to see if I have any other March smalls just waiting to be stitched...

Never in all my years did I dream I would actually meet one of my British blogging friends, but it happened on February 3rd when I met Gillie who blogs at "Random Thoughts From Abroad." Gillie was in town visiting her oldest daughter and so I invited her to come visit me and two local stitching/blogging friends, Lee and Linda. We spent a delightful afternoon at my home chatting, eating coffee cake, and drinking tea. Gillie brought me this lovely tea towel from the Lakeland area of England where she is from and a jar of blueberry jam. I made her a little "Christmas Robin" ornament which she loved. (I forgot to photograph it, but you can see it in this post because it identical to the one I stitched for Mary back in December). Thank you so much for taking the time to visit, Gillie--I loved meeting you and getting to know you better...Please know you're welcome to visit any time you're in town!

I received a lovely Valentine's gift from my sweet friend in North Carolina, Myra. You all know what an excellent seamstress Myra is, and this adorable fabric Valentine candy holder is proof positive. It is so beautifully stitched that I think she could go into business--amazing! And what a cute idea to tie on a yummy chocolate bar... Thank you, my friend--your thoughtfulness always makes me smile...

And from another of my blogging friends "down South," dear Charlene, came a wonderful RAK package. How sweet is this petite Ball Jar that she covered with a personalized blue and white stitching for me! I told her, I think it's the perfect place to hold my multi-colored buttons. She also made me a cute blue thread catcher and included some pretty blue and gold ribbon. I was so surprised and touched by your sweet gifts, Charlene--thank you again for your friendship and emails...They mean so much to me!

I was also the lucky winner of a very special giveaway... Just look at what Nancy at Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe sent me: fifteen of the most gorgeous threads I've ever seen. What a luscious rainbow of colors! If you haven't visited Nancy's blog, please pay her a visit soon. In addition to her wonderful threads, she offers some lovely charts, charms, and a whole plethora of ric rak and trims. Thank you so much for your generosity, Nancy--I can't wait to find the perfect project to showcase your lovely threads...

For my friends down south who seem to be missing any sign of snow this year, I want to share this collage of snow pictures that I took yesterday. It snowed lightly all weekend and we finally have our first true wintry weather of the season. Everything looks so fresh and pure outside my windows...

Well, as Porky Pig would say (you have to be old enough to remember those old cartoons!): that's all folks!! Thank you again for taking the time to visit me and say hello. Not sure if it's celebrated in all parts of the world, but I want to wish each of you a very special ♥♥♥ Valentine's Day ♥♥♥ filled with love and laughter (and hopefully, some chocolatey treats)! Bye for now...