Thursday, October 22, 2015

Three for my tree...

Good morning, all! I plan on making this short and simple today (I can already hear some of you snickering at the idea of me writing a "short" post, but I really am going to "try"!). I'm busily packing away for my stitching retreat this afternoon so I have a bit of a deadline here... After all, I have to get the important stuff packed--the charts, fabrics, threads, needles, and Ott light! I have set aside way too many projects to take with me for what amounts to 2 1/2 days of stitching, but isn't that always the case? If you're anything like me, the thought of not having enough stitching to keep myself busy is one of my worst nightmares. So, I always end up bringing too many projects! I'm so looking forward to seeing my four stitching friends later today as I haven't seen any of them since last year at our retreat. That's pretty sad considering two of them live within an hour and a half of me, but we all lead busy lives and this year was particularly crazy for some of us...

For those of you who are new to my blog (a big welcome to you, first of all!), I have been stitching an ornament a month for my Christmas tree since January of 2010. Creating ornaments really is my first love when it comes to stitching--there is just something special about bringing them out of hiding each December and carefully placing them on the tree. I have three new creations to share with you today for the months of August, September, and October.

For August, I stitched "Winter's Night" by Grandma Kringles. It seems that Grandma Kringles is no longer designing, unfortunately, because she really had some darling ideas. Her blog is gone, but you can still find some of her patterns available online.This one is stitched on 32 ct. dirty Belfast linen with the suggested  DMC threads. Although I love the way it turned out, I really struggled with the stitching. I've gotten so I can barely stand to stitch with two strands anymore, which is why you see me mostly stitching on 40 ct. or stitching "over one" on 28 ct. fabric. I stitch so much faster with one thread and there is no worry about the threads twisting up or laying flat. Does anyone else feel that way?

To finish "Winter's Night," I sewed a strip of burgundy gingham on one side, stitched some little x's on top where the two fabrics joined, stretched out a spring (I confess that I needed my husband's help with that chore!) for a hanger and added a strip of the frayed gingham in the corner. Oh, and I added a rusty bell at the tip of Santa's hat...  A really simple finish, but I love it!

September brought an ornament finish called, what else, but "Merry Christmas!" This design is from All Through the Night and was stitched over one on 28 ct. white evenweave using DMC 115.

I thought a round finish with some ruched gingham ribbon would be perfect for this one. Many of you have asked about how to ruche ribbon. The way this blogger makes the stitches in her ribbon is how I do it, too: ruched ribbon tutorial. Work slowly and gather the ribbon after you've made the zig-zag stitching on about a two inch length--don't wait until the very end and attempt to gather it all at once! I glue my ruched ribbon on with just a teeny bit of Aleene's Tacky Glue applied sparingly with a toothpick.

And for my October ornament, I couldn't resist making another of the snowmen featured in the "Let It Snow" chart by A Stitcher's Hands. Meet the third jolly snowman that I've stitched from this chart. He is stitched on some sort of mystery 32 ct. linen. Are you smiling now?  C'mon--how can you resist that crooked grin of his?

I finished him using fabrics that picked up the blues and greens in his hat and scarf along with a mini-pompom on his hat and some white ric-rak. The blue and green plaid is from a cloth napkin I picked up at Kohl's last spring. I wanted to give all three snowmen a similar finish.

Here are all three together--do  you have a favorite? You'll notice that my newest one is wider than the others. Since I used the exact same piece of fabric for all, I can only assume that the fabric wasn't square as this newest guy clocks in at 1/4 inch wider!

Here are my three newest ornaments all together. As you can see, I have rather eclectic taste! You've got a more primitive Santa, a cutesy snowman, and a traditional bird and holly ornament. I really enjoy mixing things up in my stitching and will stitch just about anything except fairies, dragons, or extremely primitive designs. How about you?

Gratitude... To say I was touched and gratified by the number of you who emailed me wanting to help out my friend,  Cindy, who lost all of her household belongings and stitching stash due to a deadly black mold infestation, is an understatement. I can't begin to tell you how wonderfully generous the stitching community is--but, then again, I think you already knew that, didn't you?!

I heard from fellow bloggers, both here in the U.S. and overseas;  many stitchers that had never before commented on my blog, but must read it (which made me happy!);  an EGA group near Binghamton, NY;  a New Jersey cross stitch store owner (Where Victoria's Angels Stitch); and a woman who runs a group that accepts donations of stitching stash to pass on to others. Charlene set up this group, Paraclete Designs, which is involved with accepting the donations, sorting,  repackaging, and sending them on to various charitable organizations, teachers, and street ministries to spread the love of cross stitching to others. A very interesting mission that I never knew existed! You can read more about it on her website. Each of these people and groups wanted Cindy's address so they could help her rebuild her stash. If there is anyone else interested in helping her out, just email me and I will send you the details. I'm happy to report that Cindy's health is improving day by day, she has begun stitching again, and has just returned to work. I can't help but think that knowing so many fellow stitchers were thinking of her and praying for her recovery is helping her in so many ways...

Have you noticed anything missing from my blog this month? Yes, there is no evidence of Halloween stitching... You see, my dad died on Halloween last year, and I just haven't had it in me to even put out so much as one of my Halloween decorations or pieces of stitching. I know this feeling will pass gradually, but the "missing him" is still a bit too fresh this year. I have enjoyed seeing all of your spooky stitching, though, and I wish you all a very fun Halloween!

Thank you for your well wishes regarding my bone bruise. It really is beginning to feel better and I can walk around the house (and work!) without limping. But, it still hurts to walk any distance so I can't yet use my treadmill. I'm encouraged by the healing that has taken place since my last post, though, so I know I'm on the right track!

Well, so much for a "short post," eh? I tried--I really did!  Thank you, thank you for your visit today, and a special thanks to those of you who take the time to comment. I never know how many of you actually read my words or if you just look at the photos, but it's nice to hear from you just the same! Bye for now...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fall finishes and helping out a stitching friend

Happy October to you! October is one of my favorite months of the year and it's been a great month, weatherwise, so far. We started off with cooler, wet weather, but the past five days have been just perfect. My heart goes out to all of you in the Carolinas, though--such devastation from the rains and floods and broken dams. Oh my--it is just heartbreaking to watch the news coverage... 

Well, I've had  more stitching time lately as I continue to recover from the bone bruise on my left foot. When you hear the word "bruise," it doesn't sound serious, but a bone bruise is very different than a bruise suffered on your arm or leg when you hit it on something.  The pain is much more severe and can last months. I've been following the RICE treatment plan: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation and it seems to be working. It's been three weeks now, and the pain is subsiding, just leaving me with a bit of tenderness and swelling. I so miss my daily treadmill workouts, but they will have to wait until I am completely healed. I've just begun riding a stationary bike for a bit of exercise this week and it feels so good to be doing something physical again! I have been able to work and my new odd gait as I hobble across the floors at the library has earned me a new nickname: "The Limping Librarian!" Hopefully, by my next post, I'll be feeling significantly better.

I have a few finishes to show you today and the first is a big one (for me anyway!). I finished the Prairie Schooler Band Sampler (Tall Oaks) from Book No. 40 that I showed you in my previous post. Isn't it pretty for this time of year? I'll be framing this one--eventually! All of you know, I'm much better at finishing smalls, than getting larger pieces framed!

Prairie Schooler's Band Sampler (Tall Oaks)

I just love all of the squirrels in this piece--the two little guys holding their acorns below the tree, the wild looking giant squirrel climbing up to the top of the tree and the two tinier squirrels scampering away in the bottom border.

I did make a couple of changes to the piece. Notice the vacant space above the two squirrels under the tree? That was supposed to be personalized with my initials and year. I really loved the empty look, though--I think it gives the eyes a place to rest. So, I simply stitched my initials and the year 2015 discreetly at the bottom of the sampler. I also changed the color of the acorns to DMC 3045 so they would more resemble acorns in my part of the country.

One of the reasons this piece is so special to me is because of this tree:

It is an oak tree--the only oak tree in our yard--and the story behind it is one that most mothers will appreciate. It all started one day back in the mid-80s when my oldest son was about 3 or 4 years old and he noticed a teeny tiny sapling that had sprung from an acorn (probably carried over by a squirrel from one of our neighbors giant oak trees) growing right beside the parking place in our driveway. He basically claimed the tree as his own--it fascinated him and he enjoyed watching it grow year by year. The oak sapling soon became too large to remain in its place right beside the driveway so we moved it to the front yard. When we totally remodeled our home almost 20 years ago, we had a decision to make: should we cut down the tree or move it? With the pictures of my son and his love for that tree  in our minds, we chose to pay to have it moved to its present location in the back yard. It is now about 30 years old, growing straight and strong and every time I look at it, I am reminded of the saying "Tall trees from little acorns grow" and of one very dear little boy.

A couple of blogging friends recently celebrated birthdays and I wanted to stitch them something special. To my friend Lois in Northern Ireland, I sent a small pillow as a token of our friendship. This is a design by Annie Beez Folk Art and is appropriately called "Such Friendship." Stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle with a mix of overyded and DMC colors, I just love its simple message and I hope it conveys to Lois just how much I treasure our friendship!

I made a wee pillow so she can set it on her mantle or bookshelf or place it in a bowl full of other small gifts. It is backed with the fabric shown behind it and finished off with just a bit of lace and some handmade cording.

"Such Friendship" finish

And for one of my very first blogging friends, Myra, I made this cute Halloween witch. Yes, you've seen it before--this is the third time I've stitched her, but I never get tired of that cute little face! The design is from Mary Garry's "Seasonal Mementos" booklet and is stitched on 32 ct. bay leaf linen with the suggested DMC colors. (And aren't those autumn hued mums in the background pretty? A nice "get well" gift from my oldest son and his girlfriend after my oral surgery last month). Myra loves anything Halloweeny and I know this gift will fit right in with her decorating this month!

Mary Garry's "Seasonal Mementos" witch

Helping out one of our own... Have you ever asked yourself, what you would take from your home if you had to leave suddenly? For me, it would be my family photos and my giant box of stitched Christmas ornaments. But, what if you could take nothing? What if you had to vacate suddenly and leave everything behind. Well, this is what one of my long-time blogging friends faced recently. Cindy and I bonded over our love of stitching smalls--especially Christmas ornaments and we've exchanged both birthday and Christmas gifts over the past six years. This summer, when Cindy kept getting sicker and sicker, she found that her apartment was contaminated with a deadly black mold and, to save her life, she had to leave literally everything behind and move out. You see, the black mold spores can spread everywhere and, you guessed it, all of her stitching fabrics, threads, charts, finishes, and gifts had to be thrown away. Can you imagine? Cindy has posted about the black mold problem and is attempting to do her part to shine awareness on just how serious it can be. You can read all about it in  her post.

Would you like to help? As soon as I received her email about this crisis, I began putting together a care package for Cindy of charts, threads, handmade cording, fabrics, and a gift card to Joann's and sent it to her last week. She was so touched and since then, I've had others asking me for her address because they want to help her re-build her stash, too. Would you like to help, too? If so, please email me (my address is in the sidebar--just click on the little girl with the black cat in my profile to find it) and I will send you Cindy's new address. Stitchers are such generous folks and I know she would appreciate any bit of help--even a skein of DMC in an envelope would be appreciated. And if you can't help by sending a little something, please keep those prayers and positive thoughts coming her way... Right now, Cindy is focused on getting her health back and returning to work. I really think receiving little care packages from the stitching community would go a long way toward helping her recover, don't you?

And here I thought this was going to be a short post! Ha! I always love October for another big reason, too, and that is that I'll be going to my annual stitching retreat in a couple of weeks. Just five friends sitting, chatting, eating, and stitching for 3 days--what could be better? This year, we are taking a break from making each other anything--it's just been a crazy year for some of us (do you think I'm one of them?!) and it will be really nice to just show up and enjoy myself without worrying about getting four gifts finished up...  Until next time, happy stitching, my friends, and thank you all for your much appreciated comments and email! Bye for now...