Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stitching Strawberries

Good morning, good morning! I'm sure some of you wondered if I would ever post my June bowl of smalls, didn't you? Well, I'm happy to tell you that I just finished them up yesterday and I'm eager to share them with you. Although I didn't get as much stitching time as I would have liked (do we ever??) due to dealing with the estate sale at my childhood home, I did manage to stitch and finish four new strawberry themed pieces along with three adorable fabric strawberries. Is there anyone out there who doesn't like strawberries? I just wish the season lasted longer, but at least these little creations will stick around a while!

First up is a freebie from Cosmic Homemade called "Sweet Strawberry" which you can find by clicking here. I really love the combination of the black crows with the burgundy strawberries in this one. It is stitched on 32 ct. raw natural linen using the suggested DMC colors (although I did switch the two reds here and there). To finish it off, I made a small pillow with the black and tan gingham fabric and a bit of ivory colored trim. Simple and sweet, just like the berries!
"Sweet Strawberry" Freebie

Another freebie finish (available here) comes from the "Le Chalet des Perelles" blog. The chart can be obtained by emailing a request to Cathy, who designs so many pretty things for us (look in the right sidebar under "Contactez l'auteur" to send an email to her.) "La Maisonnette aux Fraises" (The Strawberry Cottage) is stitched over one on 28 ct. natural brown linen using the suggested DMC colors. I omitted the heart and butterflies and added an additional bird. I've used this pink dotted fabric in many of my finishes and, unfortunately, am just about out of it! I think you can tell it is among my favorites--there is just something so happy about polka dots, isn't there?

"La Maisonnette aux Fraises" freebie

Trying to find a piece that included the name of the month with some strawberries was a bit difficult so I ended up combining several Lizzie Kate charts to serve that purpose. I had this charming red and green print fabric which I wanted to use in my finish so I pulled the thread colors from that and I love the final result. I used the strawberries from Lizzie Kate's July Flip-It, the birdhouse from her June Flip-It, and the beehive from the LK chart "Plant a Little Sunshine." What do you think? Outside of the piece being a little wonky (I always have trouble getting those lines straight on flat finishes like this--does anyone have any hints on getting them straight?), I'm very pleased with the final product. It turned out a bit larger than I would have liked and if I ever stitch it again, I'll try doing it over one rather than over two on 32 ct. Jobelan.

Lizzie Kate June Flip-It
(using bits of "July's Flip-It" and "Plant a Little Sunshine" charts)

Finally, I stitched this little pin pillow by Hillside Samplings which can be found in the chart called "A Berry Nice Sampler." It is stiched on 32 ct. gray touchstone linen using the suggested DMC colors. I rather like the salmon colored berries and the variety of stitches really give this finish a different look. The strawberry is made up of Diamond Stitches with Satin Stitched flowers and grass. Throw in a few Smyrna Stitches and it makes quite a lovely, little piece. (I did leave off the words "Berry Nice" that were charted--just liked it better without them). I used the darkest salmon color to make my cording and topped it with a little bow to finish it off (and hide the corner where the cording meets!).

Hillside Samplings "A Berry Nice Pillow"

I had been wanting to try making some fabric strawberries for a while, so what better time than now? Oh, I just loved making these little things and would have made dozens if the end of the month wasn't closing in on me. I followed Martha Stewart's template for the berry itself, but rather than using her template for the top of the strawberry, I simply cut one free-hand out of some olive colored felt. They are filled with fiberfill rather than the sand that Martha suggests. (Do you think she disapproves?) After gathering the top, I just glued on the "leaves" and added a pretty pin. Can you see how making these would be addicting?!

Fabric Strawberries

Below are the fabric strawberries, my four latest June finishes, and "Summer Splendor" which I showed you in my last post:

June 2012--Strawberry Stitching

And here are all five displayed in my bowl of June finishes. Wow! Half the year is over--do you think I can keep this monthly goal up for six more months? I'm afraid my Christmas ornament stitching has fallen by the wayside--sure hope I can catch up at some point!

June bowl of strawberry stitching

I want to thank all of you who emailed me asking how I was faring after the estate sale at my childhood home two weeks ago--your concern meant so much to me. An amazing amount of time and energy goes into a sale of that magnitude--from the hauling, to the sign making, to the pricing, to the organizing, to dealing with the buyers, to the cleaning up afterward. It may have been one of the most physically draining things I've ever dealt with, but even harder was the emotional toll it took. Having moved into that house when I was only five years old meant I had a 52 year relationship with it and it was ever so hard to see it emptied and all of its belongings carted away by complete strangers. Luckily, a few old neighbors and relatives bought larger pieces of furniture, so it's nice to think of some beloved things going to good homes.

In the end, very little was left so I would judge it an extremely successful sale which helped make all of our hard work worthwhile. I do plan on writing a tribute to my old home at some point, but, right now, it is just too hard to do without tears welling up in my eyes. I truly can't believe I'll never spend another moment of my life in that special house...

Thanks so much to all of you who entered the drawing for the newest traveling pattern: "Summer Splendor." The chart will be traveling far, far away--to Australia!! Yes, the winner is:

LISA from Lisa V's Lounge

Congratulations, Lisa--I know you'll enjoy stitching it as much as I did! Please send me your address and I'll get this in the mail to you next week. And for those of you who didn't win, you may want to go check out Lisa's blog--when she is done stitching this, it will be up for grabs again...

I do have a couple of stitched gifts (a birthday gift and a baby gift) that I've finished recently, but I think this post is long enough already and I'll save them for another time. I leave you with these gorgeous flowers that appeared earlier this month. Foxgloves, snapdragons, and wild roses (complete with a "Daddy Long Legs Spider"!)... their blooms have faded now, but they sure were pretty at their peak!

June flowers ~ 2012

Thank you all for your very thoughtful comments and emails--each one is so special to me, I hope you know that! Welcome to my new followers, too--it's so nice to "meet" you... I still shake my head when you tell me my finishes inspire you! My finishes have come a long way over the past three years since I began blogging, but I still find it amusing that some of you find my little creations inspirational. However, I thank you so very much--your compliments truly warm my heart... Enjoy your weekend and take some time to stitch! Bye for now...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Splendor and Attic Treasure

Hello, my blogging buddies! How is June treating you so far? With the cool weather we've been having here in western Pennsylvania the past week, you would never know that summer is only two weeks away! I don't remember a June ever starting off this way... But, I've been attempting to hurry summer along--with some summery stitching, at least!

A while back, my generous friend Kathy, over at "Kathy's Sit and Stitch" blog offered to send me the adorable LHN Summer Splendor chart after she had finished it. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed stitching a piece this much. Every little motif is just so summery--the chirping birds, the tiny cottage with its white picket fence, the luscious-looking strawberry patch. And how about the weeping willow tree--doesn't it looks like the perfect place under which to sit and delve into an intriguing new book? This will be my very first addition to my June bowl of smalls with the theme of...drum-roll please--strawberries!!

"Summer Splendor" is stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen with the suggested overdyed threads. I kept the finish quite simple due to all the little motifs and just applied thin strips of white lace and attached some square shell buttons in each corner. The little pillow is backed with the floral fabric shown in the background.

In keeping with the spirit of giving and generosity that is so common in our stitching community, I want to offer this "Summer Splendor" design to a fellow blogger. Please leave a note specifically stating that you are interested in the drawing for this chart in your comments. The only requirements are:
1. Please have an active blog
2. Please agree to stitch it promptly
3. Please pass it along to a fellow
stitcher via a drawing on your blog
4. Please post your finish and the history of
where the chart has traveled (with a link to the post of each stitcher's finish) like this:

1. Kathy at "Kathy's Sit and Stitch"
2. Carol at "Stitching Dreams"

My other finish is a little pillow sent as a RAK to my friend, Brenda. This freebie from 123 Citrouille is available by clicking here. I stitched this one over one on 28 ct. cream evenweave with overdyed threads so it is quite small. Instead of ric-rac, I stitched a little zig-zag between the fabric and the design with a bit of the brown thread used in the basket. I've never tried that before, but like the look of it. I included a Chessie & Me chart and a pretty skein of patriotic floss along with the pillow and Brenda seems very happy with her surprise...

Kindness begets kindness and my sweet friend, Elia, sent me this beautiful heart all the way from Spain. Elia won one of my giveaways last month and we have become friends despite the ocean that separates us! I just love the design (from Blackbird Designs "For My Friend" booklet) and she also included a sweet scissor fob with the word "Amor" on it. And look at the miniature scissor charm she tied on to the ribbon--adorable! ¡Me encantan tus regalos, Elia, mi amiga! Muchisimas gracias por ellos y por tu amistad preciosa! (I love your gifts, Elia, my friend. Many thanks for them and for your precious friendship). If you aren't familiar with Elia's blog--please stop by and say "hola"...

Most of my regular readers know that my childhood home has been sold and my siblings, husband, middle son, and I headed up to New York a few weeks ago to clean out the attic and basement (most of the living space had been tackled over previous months)...It was probably the hottest weekend of the year so far--closing in on 90 degrees! And, yes, I ended up on attic duty. Now this is a huge attic on top of a five-bedroom 1906 era house. They sure don't build them like that anymore! What a workout; I must have made 100 trips up and down two flights of stairs throughout the day. I have never felt sweat pouring down my face like that in my life. But, the attic is now emptied, as is the basement, and things are set up in my parents' barn for an estate sale next weekend.

I wanted to share some of the goodies that came home with me from that cleaning weekend. I chose the sentimental things--nothing of much value except for the memories they invoke. I asked my mom if I could take Grandma's vintage Singer sewing machine--and she said yes! I just love the pretty Bentwood dome case it came in, complete with its own little key to open it up. The cord is pretty frayed so I'm afraid to try it out...perhaps I should get a new cord made. Does anyone have any experience with cleaning and refurbishing these old machines?

Grandma's old Singer

Vintage Singer "Model 99" sewing machine from 1929!

Look at the engraving on the silver endpiece!
They sure don't make them like that any longer.

We aren't sure where this old print came from--it may have belonged to my great-uncle. Anyway, I thought the chubby babies crying for world peace were so charming. I did a bit of research on this old drawing and found it was from the talented hands of Charles H. Twelvetrees (1888-1948). He was famous in the early 20th century for his drawings and postcards of chubby cheeked children. This particular work is dated 1915...

Charles Twelvetrees print circa 1915
Unfortunately, the peace that these babies
cried for almost a century ago still eludes us...

These four glass bottles were found in a cupboard in the basement so I brought them home to add to my collection. The smaller two on the left were filled with alcohol--a long-forgotten Christmas gift from days gone by. They are shaped like a pear and a strawberry--so cute! (No, I didn't drink the questionable looking alcohol--down the sink it went!). They'll be perfect for displaying summer blooms in the coming months...

Pretty glass bottles

OK--this poor Santa is "slightly" ragged looking--even a bit scary. He definitely looks like he's seen better days, but, oh, does he bring back memories. As grown-ups, my brother and I would always get into playful arguments about who he actually belonged to. When I discovered Santa in an box of old Christmas decorations, I gleefully announced to my brother: "Ha ha--he's mine now!!" He laughed good-naturedly and Santa was carefully placed in my car to travel to his new home in Pennsylvania.

A much-loved Santa

Earlier this year, my mom had passed on some of my grandmother's sewing things to me since I am the only stitcher in the family. When I first told her what us stitchers use flower frogs for (displaying our collection of scissors for you non-stitching readers!), she was a bit horrified, but after realizing that it would actually be used and not just end up sitting in a cupboard collecting dust, she relented and gave me the most beautiful amber-colored glass flower frog. I think it is one of the prettiest I've seen!

Grandma's amber flower frog

...and filled with scissors.
I'm not a scissor collector like many
of you, but I've received a few fobs and
pretty scissors from stitching friends.

When mom asked if I would like Grandma's sewing basket and thimble, I was especially touched. I can still remember the basket sitting in Grandma's home. She was an expert seamstress who could whip up a dress in no time. But, her expertise was in smocking. What I wouldn't give to have one of those precious smocked dresses she made for me when I was a child...When I was a little girl, I always thought this was a Native American basket, but it turns out to be Chinese-made. The little brass decorations on the top have Chinese characters on them along with some pretty glass beads. I'll bet some of you own similar sewing baskets, don't you?

Grandma's double-decker sewing basket

...filled with a rainbow of threads!

My dear grandmother's gold thimble etched with grapevines.
Isn't it beautiful? On the back are her initials.

So, that's it for my "treasures." Oh, but wait just a second--hold on! I do have one final thing to show you... Tucked over in a corner of the nearly emptied attic, way back under the eaves, I spotted a nondescript-looking cardboard box. Scribbled in black marker on the side of the box, I saw the word "BONE." I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be nice if some pretty bone china was inside?"

"But, look, Carol," said my cousin who was there helping, "on the other side of the masking tape is an "S." B-O-N-E-S? Bones? What on earth could be in this box???? Holding my breath, I very carefully removed the tape, pulled back the lid, and lifted a layer of newspaper. What should be staring back at me but...





Are you ready?

(Don't peak if you are easily scared...)


A skeleton in the attic!

Yes, a grinning skull with an entire box full of bones. It was a full skeleton! Now, you've all heard of the expression "Skeletons in your closet," haven't you? How about skeletons in your attic? Yikes!! In all the time I had played in that attic on rainy days and the hours my sons had spent there while visiting their grandparents, not one of us had ever come across this box. Why was it there, you ask? Well, my dad was a doctor--a surgeon, in fact, and the skeleton was something he had used in medical school when studying anatomy. The yellowed 1950s-era newspaper it was wrapped in was from Buffalo, NY where he was studying to be a doctor. So, what do you do with a full skeleton? Why, you send it home with your little brother who is also a doctor! I wonder if he'll put it together and display it in his office? He was delighted with the find and he so enjoyed tormenting me by waving the skeleton's foot in my face. Some things never change... It was certainly "the find" of the weekend!

I want to welcome my new followers--so glad to have you here! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments--I truly look forward to hearing from each of you. If you ask me a question and want a response, though, please make sure you include your email address. If you post anonymously I have no way to answer you--and I really do try to get back to each of you when at all possible. There are still so many of you who have "no-reply comment" issues. Please, please check your profile and make sure you don't fall in this category. You can learn how to change your settings in this previous post which you can read by clicking here.

I hope you enjoyed your visit today--may your day brings many smiles and laughs along the way. Don't forget to let me know in your comments if you would like to be included in the drawing for "Summer Splendor!" Bye for now...