Monday, April 30, 2012

A Bowl Full of Bunnies

Hello everyone! And here I am, finally, on the very last day of April with my bowl full of smalls. I'll bet you thought I wouldn't make it, didn't you? Well, I just went a "little bit" crazy stitching so many bunnies this month. I couldn't stop myself--it was like I was possessed or something! Luckily, my husband was away for a few days last week so I had plenty of time to finish them all up. I'll tell you, it looked like an explosion of pastels in my family room while he was gone: fabrics and trims and buttons and ribbons were scattered everywhere! But, I'm very pleased with the collection that I've created this month... Here are the six newest additions to my April bowl of bunnies...

This Prairie Schooler bunny (from PS Book No. 163 "Signs of Spring") looks so handsome, doesn't he? He's the perfect gentleman rabbit in his little blue vest with gold buttons. I stitched him "over one" on 28 ct. Lambswool Jobelan using the suggested DMC colors (but changed the carrot to DMC 3776). For the finish, I used pieces of a beige and white checked napkin (unused, of course!) and some pale blue ric-rac that perfectly matched the shade of blue in his vest.

What would an April bowl full of finishes be without something that spelled out the name of the month? I chose this cute Lizzie Kate "Bit of April Flip-It" for that honor. This bunny is stitched on 35 ct. natural Northern cross linen using an assortment of threads (DMC, CC, WDW, and Nina's Hand Dyed Threads). The purple is Nina's Eggplant color which was so wonderful to work with. The finishing combined two fabrics (the purple and white seersucker was from an old pair of shorts that must have shrunk in the wash--I couldn't possibly have outgrown them, could I?!) and some bright pink ric-rac. Doesn't it remind you of an Easter egg?

This little bunny was a freebie from Windy Willows which you can find by
clicking here (click on "free chart" at the top of the page). I wish I had chosen a different fabric for this because some of the pretty blue shades don't show up very well, but...too late now! It is stitched on 28 count country mocha Cashel linen using the suggested DMC threads. I chose a very simple finish with some blue floral fabric, a bit of rope-like trim, and a wooden button. Isn't that the cutest teapot that I have it sitting next to? I collect Potting Shed reproduction Dedham pottery and my kitchen is filled with various blue and white bunny themed pieces. I'll have to take a photo of it some time to show you. The little bunnies always manage to make me smile when I'm working in the kitchen!

I love the way stitching just pops on black fabric--it often gives a simple design a much more dramatic look. This is one of my favorite finishes of the month. It is also a freebie which can be found right here at Kissy-Cross. I used 28 ct. black Monaco and DMC threads to stitch this one "over one" and just love the result. It is backed with this pink and white seersucker fabric rescued from an old skirt of mine (that also surely "shrank" in the washing machine). The color isn't true in my photo--it really is more of a pinkish color not a salmon color as it looks (on my monitor, at least). Handmade cording and a tiny pink bow finish off this little oval ornament perfectly, don't you think?

I fell in love with German designer Christiane Dahlbeck's "Mit Kreuzstichen Durchs Jahr." This was my favorite design from it, although I changed it a bit from the original (which had the male bunny with three female bunnies lined up to exchange gifts with him). I chose to just stitch these two and I'm very happy with the final result. Don't they look like they are courting? She has just presented him with a juicy orange carrot and he has given his sweetheart a lovely yellow tulip. Ahh...young love! Not everyone in my family thinks they are so cute--my middle son says they look like aliens... In this case, I knew I wanted to use the green and white polka dot fabric to finish it before I even began stitching so I chose my thread colors (all DMC) based on the fabric. I even added polka dots to Miss Bunny's shirt to coordinate with the fabric! This is stitched on 40 ct. flax Newcastle linen and finished very simply with just a hint of soft yellow ric-rac.

And last, but certainly not least, is another freebie from Sub Rosa which can be found right here. "Welcome Spring" is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco with the same DMC threads that I used on the previous Kissy-Cross freebie. I call them my "Prairie Schooler" color palette because they are so often used in those designs. In this case the colors I chose were DMC 223, 224, 3053, and 611. I finished this as a flat mounted piece with some dusty pink handmade cording and a tiny sage green bow to hide the point where the cording ends meet. Aren't the Columbine flowers in front of it beautiful this spring--sure wish they would last into the summer!

So, that's it! Whew--I'm never going to stitch that many ornaments in one month again, that's for sure. Here is a photo of all of them along with the two I showed you in my last post. Which is your favorite? I think I still love "Slicker Bunny" the most...
April bunny finishes ~ 2012

And here is the group all settled into my April bowl (which will surely be on display well into May!) What a cheery looking group!

April Bowl of Bunnies

Oh look, a few of their friends from last year's stitching have come to welcome them. If I keep up this bunny addiction of mine, I think I'll need a bigger bowl!

So, now, it's on to May stitching. Does anyone have any themes or small charts to suggest for me? I know flowers will abound; after all what is May without flowers? But, I'd love to hear your ideas, too...

I was treated to a couple of unexpected gifts last week that I'd love to share with you. First was a belated birthday gift from my dear friend, Mary. Just look at this darling bird that she stitched and framed for me. Isn't it beautiful? I love it, Mary, and the other goodies that you included are so special. The Chessie & Me chart was one I had had my eye on and the blue and yellow threads are perfect--my favorite color combination! She also included a sweet little tin and a magnetic bookmark, along with the cutest little polka-dot scissors. Oh, Mary--you really spoiled me, my friend... Thank you again for each and every gift, but also for your special friendship! Your beautifully stitched piece will have a place of honor in my home.

And from a new friend, Beth, (no blog) who lives on the other side of Pennsylvania, I received this lovely project pouch as a thank you gift. I had sent a small chart to Beth wanting nothing in return, but she thanked me by making me this lovely blue and yellow sunflower-adorned pouch. I wish you could see the tiny zipper pull on it better; it is so cute. She used plastic canvas and stitched my initial into it making a nice sturdy zipper pull. I'm so happy to have "met" you recently, Beth, and I look forward to getting to know you better... I truly love your special gift and know it will be put to good use.

Yesterday, my husband spotted a new mother robin sitting on her nest in the holly bush just outside his den window. And just look at the sweet eggs we spied when she flew away... I never get tired of seeing those beautiful blue eggs each spring. It has to be one of the prettiest colors in the world, don't you think? Thanks to my middle son for snapping the photo--I am just too short to be able to get a good shot. I guess he's good for something even if he does think my rabbit couple resemble aliens!!

So, April is over...on to May and, hopefully, more sunshine and warmer days. I hope you all have a very special week ahead. I'll be heading up to New York again to visit and help out my parents so I may be a bit out of touch, but I'll catch up with everyone when I return. As always, I want you to know just how much I appreciate each and every one of you. You are a great bunch of friends! Bye for now...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Pair of Hares and a Quintet of Winners

Good morning everyone! Hope your week has been going well...I imagine most of you are anxious to read who won my giveaway so I'll get to that soon, but first I want to thank you all for the comments on my last post of my "Nature's Alphabet" finish. I was overwhelmed by your kind thoughts--I've never had that many comments on a post (other than a giveaway post) before. Each morning when I opened my email and saw a new comment waiting there, it was like starting the day with a little gift--it really was!

Anyway, on to more important business... First of all, I want to thank all of you who entered--I was amazed that these simple gifts got so much of a response! I had my husband draw the winners out of a hat (well, actually a paper lunch bag!) the other night and they are as follows:

Grand Prize Winner:

Prairie Schooler Winner:
BARBI at "Blissfully Stitching"

"Delivering Spring" Winner:
MELANIE at "Moonraker Lampworks"

"Bunny Gingham" Winner:
MARGARET at "Days of a Sampler Lover"

Winners, please send me your mailing addresses and I'll get your prizes out to you next week. (First I have to buy more of the Raspberry Creams to send to Christina and Barbi, as I very piggishly ate BOTH boxes myself). As always, I wish I could have given each of you something... You have all been so supportive and kind over my past three years of blogging. Please know I am going to try to do more Random Acts of Kindness for my regular commenters in the future just to say "thank you!"

Several of you have asked about my April "bowl" of smalls... In fact, even my middle son, when he was over for dinner on Sunday, looked at the bowl of March finishes I still have on display and said, "Um,'s April." Yes, I'm a bit behind! So, I wanted to share with you two of my finishes for April rather than waiting to reveal them all at once next week.

Do you remember when I showed you this little sneak peak a few weeks ago and asked if anyone knew what I was stitching? Well, no one guessed it correctly. Several of you thought it was Bent Creek's "Are You My Mother;" good guess, but...nope!

May I introduce you to "Slicker Bunny" who is now out and about enjoying the April showers. This was a very old freebie from The Cricket Collection, which, unfortunately, I don't see available on their website any longer. Isn't he the cutest little thing with his tiny purple flower "umbrella" and yellow slicker?

I used a 28 ct. overdyed jobelan called "Babbling Brook" (stitched over one) along with the suggested DMC threads. The little pillow is backed with the lovely plaid fabric you see in the photo. This was actually a cloth napkin I spotted at Kohl's--ah, yes, a new source for my backing fabrics. First my son's discarded shirts and now cloth napkins!! To finish him off, I added two teeny beads for his raincoat buttons and ruched some yellow and white gingham ribbon for the edging. I think he is cute enough to chase away anybody's rainy day blues, don't you?

My second finish for my bowl of April smalls is one you've likely seen on other blogs. The first time I spotted this adorable Patrick's Woods design, I knew I had to stitch it. I mean, really-- what could be better than a piece combining two of my favorite things: rabbits and stitching? This was a very quick and easily-stitched freebie which can be found at "The Dandy Hare Blog".

Stitching it was easy (I used 40 ct. flax Newcastle linen and good old DMC), the hard part came in deciding how to finish it. I thought and thought and below is what I came up with. Combining three different fabrics, some ivory-colored lace, some brown satin ribbon, a yo-yo, and three square shell buttons turned on the diagonal, plus my stitching, I ended up with a sweet, little pillow looking like this...

So, have you figured out the theme for my April bowl full of smalls, yet? Of course--it's rabbits! More will (hopefully) be hopping onto my blog by the end of the month, so stay tuned!

This has been the prettiest of springs here in western Pennsylvania and the flowering trees and shrubs have been spectacular.

The view from our front porch...

The beautiful white crab apple tree at the corner of our porch.
Can you spot the pretty orange butterfly?

A crabapple tree by our back patio: the "White Angel," which
was hybridized by my husband's dear grandfather in 1947.
We planted this as a tiny tree more than 15 years ago
and it has grown to more than 20 feet tall...
a wonderful reminder of a very special man.

Tulips, pansies, rhododendron, and dogwood...
Oh, if they could only last all summer!

Finally, I'd like to say a warm welcome to all my new followers, but a special welcome to one in particular... Mr. Red Robin! He's been visiting my window near my stitching chair almost daily and seems to have taken a keen interest in my stitching! Here he is peering in to check out the new-to-me Prairie Schooler chart (Garden Alphabet) that I finally, finally won on ebay. I think he approves of my purchase, don't you?

I am working at the library all weekend, unfortunately, but I wish each of you a special Saturday and Sunday filled with relaxation and time to craft and create! Thank you again for taking the time to visit me here at my little blog; I truly appreciate each and every comment and email. Bye for now...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Big Finish (for me anyway!)

Yes, I have a finish--and it's something just a bit larger than the ornament-sized pieces I typically share with you... May I present "Nature's Alphabet" by Elizabeth's Designs all stitched up and ready to be framed. I began this piece in late December of 2011 and should have had it finished by late January of this year, but those little creations that I'm so fond of making just kept getting in the way! I truly enjoyed stitching each little letter and the specialty stitches (Rhodes, Smyrna, and lots of Satin stitches) really make each tiny square special. Don't you just want to sit and pet those cute ewes with their white satin-stitched wooly coats?

Below are some more of my favorite squares (I also showed you close-ups of others back in this January post). We have "Z" for Zinnias, "X" for Xmas Tree, "V" for Violets, "K" for King's Cup,and "B" for bees.
Nature's Garden is stitched on my perennial favorite fabric: 32 ct. flax Belfast Linen--I just love that stuff and tend to turn to it for any larger design. I used the suggested DMC with one exception: I changed the border color around each square to DMC 3828--I just found the DMC 3829 too "brassy" looking for my taste. The only part that "dragged" a bit was all of that green backstitching between each of the squares. I swear I could have stitched that design in my sleep by the time I was finished!! But, it adds so much to the look of the finished piece, don't you think?
The only other change I made was to add some pretty beads to the nest for the eggs. After all, what is a nest without those delicate, robin's egg blue eggs? The white beads on the Christmas tree, the black "bee" beads, and the little Mill Hill Treasure beads (garnet colored tulip in my initials square and frosted white hare in the "H" square) all add nice dimension to this finish, as well.

Nature's Alphabet
32 ct. flax Belfast linen
DMC threads

Mill Hill Beads & Treasures

So, how was everyone's Easter? I had a wonderful surprise which truly made my day. Only one of my sons was able to be here for the day, but guess who came to visit and is staying for the entire week? My dear mother--the first time she's been able to visit my home in nearly five years! The last time she was here was June of 2007 when my youngest son graduated from high school... Caring for my dad, moving north from Florida, and cleaning out and preparing two houses for sale have left her with a huge need for a break and what better place to get some much-needed rest and a bit of pampering than at her oldest daughter's house? I am loving having her here to shop with, play Scrabble with, and just plain relax with.

You see, I never had the luxury of living near my mom. In my nearly 35 years of marriage, we've seen each other only a handful of times each year. During some of those crazy-busy years when my husband and I had three growing boys to raise, I only saw her and my dad a couple times a year. I always envied mothers and daughters I saw lunching together or strolling down the street pushing babies in strollers. Are you are lucky enough to have your mom living nearby? If so, count your blessings... I know I'm going to enjoy every second of my mom's unexpected visit this week!

There is still time to enter my giveaway on my April 1st post only. I'm so pleased with the number of you who have shown interest in it already! Sure wish I had something for everyone, but, hopefully five of you will be happy. The drawing is open until midnight EST on Saturday, April 14th... I'll announce the winners sometime next week. Best of luck to all!

This has to be the shortest post you've had from me in ages!! I may actually get a few more readers who make it through the whole post this time! Wishing my newest followers a warm welcome--so glad you're here! Thank you again for your meaningful comments, emails, and support...I truly appreciate each and every one. I'll be back next week with the winners of my giveaways and a couple of small finishes I think you'll enjoy! Bye for now...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

It's Giveaway Time!

Happy April to you all! Hope your month is off to a wonderful start... In honor of Spring and my 700+ (gulp!) followers I am having a giveaway. First of all, I just want to say how truly astonished I am that so many of you have decided to read my blog. I really mean that--I'm not just saying it to be humble or modest--I am honestly shocked. I am, in real life, a fairly quiet librarian, not a professional stitcher or finisher by any means. So your compliments on my little finishes mean more than you can imagine!

When I began blogging just over three years ago, it was purely with the intent of creating a permanent record of my cross stitched finishes. I didn't know a single one of you! Then the comments slowly began to trickle in until now I often receive dozens of comments on each new post... Amazing, truly amazing! And now, just the short span of 39 months, I've met some of you in real life, email many of you like we were (and hopefully always will be) old and dear friends, and have been surrounded by a group of the most caring, creative, supportive people I can imagine. Thank you all--I feel truly blessed...

So, what did I come up with for my giveaway? Well, the Grand Prize is a group of cheery spring items that is sure to put a smile on just about anyone's face. Included are the darling "Peter and Peep" chart by With Thy Needle and Thread, three 9-inch square ornament cuts (32 African daisy jobelan, 28 ct. wood violet jobelan, and 28 ct. ice blue lugana), two fun spring fabrics in lime green gingham and purple and white polka-dot, a set of pink glass beads, a mauve colored Kelmscott "Hearts Afire" needle minder, some DMC pink variegated thread and ten pink bobbins, a sampler themed note pad, my new favorite candy (chocolate covered Raspberry Cremes) and a darling new Vera Bradley wristlet wallet in Very Berry Paisley (website description: "Measurements are approximately 4 x 6 inches with a 6 inch removable strap and a pretty silver accent ring. This bi-fold style with a magnetic closure opens up to feature 2 clear ID windows, 2 L-zip compartments, 3 card slots and a slip-in pocket." This giveaway is open to any of my followers.

Grand Prize Giveaway

The 2nd giveaway prize is to promote my love of Prairie Schooler designs. I found that I had two of each of these very old charts so I would love for them to go to someone who appreciates these classic patterns. This prize includes Book No. 10: A Prairie Christmas with all ten skeins of DMC floss needed to stitch the adorable ornaments, the 1996 PS Santa, a pack of blank greeting cards to fill with your own stitching, and, again, a package of those luscious Raspberry Cremes.
Giveaway #2: Prairie Schooler items

Finally, I have three spring charts that I hope will find new homes with three of my regular commenters only. You know who you are... If you would be interested in winning one of these charts, please let me know which ones (in order) you are interested in. This is just a way to thank three of the special readers who take the time to regularly say "hello." They're the people that I start to worry about when I don't see their names among my comments!! Thank you my most loyal commenters--you're the best!!

Giveaway #3: "Delivering Spring" by Homespun Elegance

Giveaway #4: "Garden" by Imaginating

Giveaway #5: "Bunny Gingham" by Twisted Threads

So, how can you enter? Simply leave a comment stating specifically which giveaways you would like to be entered for. Oh, and one other thing--to make it more interesting and fun for all of us... tell me either what you most enjoy about blogging or the name of your favorite chart--whether already stitched or waiting in the wings and why it is so meaningful to you. I will leave the giveaway open until Saturday April 14th at midnight EST.

As for my answer about what I enjoy about blogging... Well, I love the fact that we are all cheerleaders for each other. Whether it's praising a new finish, sending encouragement after a visit from the "frog" or losing our stitching "mojo," or lending a willing ear or a shoulder to lean on during times of stress, it is just wonderful how we all support each other. I love seeing different finishes--things that I would never stitch like HAEDs or fairies or dragons. Just because I don't stitch them doesn't mean I don't appreciate their beauty.

I'm sure some of you think: "Doesn't Carol ever stitch anything substantial?" Well, sometimes I do... but for me, what brings the most pleasure, are those little ornament sized creations that you typically see in my posts. I so appreciate your comments whether you are an all-sampler stitcher or someone who works on only one project all year long. We appreciate each others different tastes, creativity, patience, and skill, and in this world of so many negative stories--I'm so happy to be a part of a positive group like we have in the cross stitch blogging community. I also love seeing those of you who have been inspired to stitch something that I've shown here on my blog--I really feel honored that I've sparked your interest in a design that you may have overlooked just because of the way I've finished it into one of my little pillows.

Your blogs have made me laugh and made me cry. They've made me smile on days that started off a bit gloomy and they've made me pause to really think about different ideas from around the world. They've made me so impressed by the international bloggers who take the time and have the talent to blog in two languages. They've made me gasp in astonishment at an awe-inspiring finish and even made me a bit envious at piles of new stash or finishes that seem to stitch themselves. It's all part of blogging and I can't thank you enough for allowing me to be a part of this special cross stitch blogging neighborhood!


Enjoy your week everyone--Happy Easter to all who celebrate! May you find some lovely chocolate bunnies in your baskets on Sunday! Bye for now...