Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Are you shocked? A blog post from me both last week and this week? That may be a new record! I knew I wouldn't have time to post again until after Thanksgiving so I wanted to share my latest finishes with you today. I also want to thank you all for your sweet comments on my last post. I know what a truly busy time of year this is, so it's especially nice to read your kind comments.

I so enjoyed stitching "Be Ye Thankful!" It is an older Cricket Collection chart from 1997, but I think the design has stood the test of time very well.  The autumn colored leaves and tiny motifs scattered across the giant black letters lend a playful look, don't you think? Can you spot the acorn, the eggplant, the basket, the apple, and the ear of corn? The brick house is so pretty, too, with the wee leaves falling softly all around it.

"Be Ye Thankful"

I had to make a few color changes to accommodate my fabric (40 ct. Burch Newcastle), but most of the suggested colors were used--a mix of DMC and overdyeds. I'm picturing this in a black frame; what do you think?

And this next fall finish is on its way to a special friend for her birthday. Yes, you've seen this one before! I stitched it way back in November 2012 (you can see it in this post). This is a freebie from Beth Twist at My Heartstring blog which you can find right here. I loved my first finish of this so much that I ended up using the same thread colors and stitched it "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco. If you're interested, the colors I used are Sampler Threads: Cidermill Brown, Wheat Fields, Nutmeg; Weeks Dye Works: Cocoa; Needle Necessities: 142; and Classic Colorworks: Used Brick. The leafy print in the background is what I used on the back of the little 2" X 4.75" pillow.  How do you feel about stitching the same design twice? I can only stitch things twice if enough time has passed between stitchings. Anyway, I hope the birthday girl is pleased with her (rather late!) gift!  

Another Prairie Schooler Santa has been added to my collection! This is the 1998 annual Santa featuring the jolly fellow carrying an ark with two pretty white doves nesting in his backpack. If you are familiar with this pattern, you'll notice that I did change one thing: I left out a giraffe that was hanging under the tree. To me--it looked like the poor thing had a broken neck! And since the animals on the ark arrived in pairs, I thought the pair of rabbits was perfect. This one is stitched on 25 ct. mushroom lugana with most of the suggested DMC threads. I did change the ecru to white, the green to DMC 520 and the colors of the ark and reindeer to 612 so they would show up better. I'm so going to miss these annual Santas now that Prairie Schooler is going out of business, but, thankfully, I have many in my stash to keep me happy for quite a while!

Why do you stitch?  As  most of you know, I'm a librarian in a very busy suburban public library. One of my duties as a reference librarian (in addition to finding the answers to all sorts of crazy and interesting questions--and some not so interesting ones such as "What day of the week is it?"), is selecting books to add to the collection. My fellow librarians and I have various subject categories to read reviews on and decide whether or not to purchase the books. I'm lucky enough to choose books in the  Dewey Decimal 740s section which includes the home decorating books, drawing, antiques, crafts, and needlework. Because I get to see each and every book as it is added to the collection, I run across some beautiful and inspiring titles. Even though I don't knit or quilt, I often spend time perusing the newly acquired books and sighing "some day!"

Anyway, last week when I was reading reviews on new needlework books, I came across one titled "Knitting Pearls: Writers Writing about Knitting" by Ann Hood. This book contains two dozen stories from writers about how knitting has changed and added to their lives. Now, I think the same thing can be said for cross stitching, don't you? Many of us stitch because it truly is our "therapy." By its very nature, making all those little x's in our fabrics causes us to simply sit, breath, and relax.

One quote in the knitting book, though, truly touched me because of the horrific events in France last week. And even though it is about knitting, the same can certainly be said for cross stitching: 

“With its calm, methodical progress, 
it’s a promise, 
in the midst of war and chaos and loss, 
that, somewhere, an orderly world still exists."
                                       --Stewart O'Nan

As the world seems to have gone completely mad lately with new reports of terrorism and tragedy on a daily basis, I find my stitching to be a source of refuge more than ever, don't you? 

I'll leave you with the following which I can only think of as a photograph of hope. My youngest son has met so many wonderful young people in his study abroad semester in Argentina this fall; not only from South America, but from all over the world. This was taken when he and five of his classmates traveled to the Mendoza region for a weekend of horse-back riding, wine-tasting, and sledding with the breathtaking Andes Mountains as their backdrop. In the photo you see three nationalities represented: The United States, Germany, and Hungary. Each of these young people is hoping that their studies in International Relations and related fields will, somehow, make a difference in the future of the world. Of all the photos my son (who is in the orange jacket) has sent me, this is the one that I love the most... I wonder what each of them was thinking as they gazed out, arms entwined, at this breathtaking view of the Andes?


I want to wish each of my fellow United States stitchers all the blessings of this season as Thanksgiving approaches. I hope your time spent with family and friends is filled with love and laughter--and lots of good eating. Safe travels and I hope you know how truly thankful I am for my blogging friends--you are the best! Bye for now...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stitched, but not finished

How are my blogging friends, today? I hope November is treating you well? We enjoyed a gorgeous, almost summer-like, first week of what is normally a very gray and chilly month--I loved it! It made me realize that living in a part of the country that is always warm and sunny would be so different than living here in the northeast. You would actually be able to get outside to walk and just enjoy the fresh air whenever you wanted. Am I ready to move south? No, I'm sure I would miss the four seasons, but I do admit the idea of warm weather year-round is becoming more and more tempting as I get older!

This week has brought back the normal cool, rainy weather that November is known  for so I've been nesting in my stitching chair and binge-watching a couple of older television series via Netlix (Parenthood and Foyle's War--love them both!). The problem is, when I'm watching television, I can't finish anything so all I have to show you today is stitched, but not finished pieces. I know many of you come here for finishing inspiration because you've told me so, so I hope you're not too disappointed today...

I've finished my very first Plum Street Samplers chart! I just fell in love with the adorable turkey family in this piece and knew I had to stitch it. I had begun this one before I went to my stitching retreat two weeks ago and managed to finish it there. How cute is the littlest turkey riding on the Mama turkey's back? And I love the Pilgrim hat that Papa turkey is sporting. And how about the giant whimsical sunflower? This piece was such fun to stitch!

Plum Street Samplings "Thankful For Thee" finish

I used a new-to-me 40 ct. linen and really liked the color: Burch newcastle. Most of the suggested DMC threads were used, too, but I did make a couple of changes so the golds would show up better on the fabric. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish it before next Thanksgiving because it doesn't look like it's going to get done this year!

My second finish is from the Just Cross Stitch 2015 Halloween issue and is called "Crow On a Pumpkin" by Samplers Not Forgotten. I used 36 ct. summer khaki linen, but had some issues with the thread coverage so this is stitched a bit differently than what I normally do. In some places (the crow, the pumpkin, the tablecloth, the berries, and the flower centers) two threads were used (just chose my own selection of overdyeds) and for the leaves and gold sunflower border, I only used one thread. Did I do this on purpose? No, I first stitched the leaves with one thread and thought they looked fine, but when I began doing the crow with only one thread, he looked a bit sickly and anemic! I just couldn't bear the thought of going back and ripping out all of the leaves to re-stitch with two threads so I left them as I had stitched them. What do you think? I actually think it turned out quite well... the flowers and leaves have a more lacy appearance which, I think, looks pretty.

Crow On a Pumpkin

And I have a new Prairie Schooler Santa to add to my collection. This is one I also stitched last year. But, since that one was sent away to my friend Lois in Northern Ireland (you can see the finished ornament in this post), I decided to stitch one to keep for my own tree. This golden Santa is from Book No. 43, "Father Christmas" and is stitched on 40 ct. raw Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads (although I did change the green of the wreath to DMC 520). This makes the fifth PS Santa that I've stitched this year. My Sunday Santa SAL partners Melissa in Canada, Hilda in Austria, and I were trying to do a Santa a month, but all of us have failed. Oh well, we have all stitched a few and should be proud of that fact, right? Now, to get them finished and ready to hang on the tree--not much time left!!

Prairie Schooler Santa (Book No. 43: "Father Christmas")

I was so touched to receive a wonderful package of goodies from Charlene at Paraclete Designs. She thought I deserved a little something for spreading the word about my friend, Cindy, who lost everything to black mold. (If you haven't read about Cindy's plight, please go to this post). I also mentioned Charlene's Paraclete Designs which collects unwanted stitching stash to pass along to different charities and mission projects and she wanted to thank me for getting the word out. Anyway, just look at what arrived in my mailbox--the entire collection of Heartstrings "The 12 Days of Santa" along with some buttons, perforated paper, and a couple of other cute small kits. Charlene--you are such a generous soul! Thank you so very much--I know I'll enjoy stitching these chubby guys and I wish you much luck in your mission to spread the love of cross stitch...

I've been published! Well, self-published, that is... I had been wanting to get a hardcopy of my blog printed for a few years now and when a 20% discount offer appeared in my email last month, I finally took the plunge. The result is this two year compilation (2013-2014) of Stitching Dreams which weighed in at a solid 314 pages! Every photo, every word, every finish shown on my blog from 2013 and 2014 is here! This was quite a splurge for me--even with the discount, but I am thrilled to be able to sit down and read through two years of memories in book form. Now to save up enough to publish 2009-2010 and 2011-2012. 

My blog--in book form!

The service I used is called Blog2Print and it was so easy. My only complaint is that my photo captions weren't centered under the photo itself, but were off to the side. However, the paper quality, layout, and solid construction of "my book" are just wonderful. Here is a look at two of the interior pages so you can get an idea of what it looks like... I know I'll enjoy sitting down and looking through this when I'm old(er) and gray(er) and want to marvel at how I was able to see well enough to stitch such tiny creations!

When I'm not working, sleeping, stitching, or reading, I seem to be spending time getting ready for our upcoming trip to Argentina. Oh, my, how do I pack for this trip? You see we'll be spending part of our visit in northern Argentina where it will be warm--high 70s / low 80s. And then we'll be flying way, way down--almost 2000 miles--to southern Argentina where it will be cold and very windy. Yes, we're going to Ushuaia in Patagonia, commonly known as the southern-most city in the world. And guess what we're going to see? Those darling little black and white tuxedoed guys known as Magellanic Penguins!! Yes, I'm beyond excited to be able to see them in person. Well, not as excited as I will be to see our youngest son who is studying international relations in Buenos Aires--but close!!

Thankfully, the bone bruise on my left foot is almost totally healed and I am walking normally again. I get a twinge of pain every now and then, but it should be fine for the tours and hikes we will be doing. I bought some great new hiking shoes which will give me even more stability so I should be in good shape. Now, we just have to hope the weather cooperates!

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from my kitchen... I tried this recipe for Dutch Apple Pie on Sunday and it turned out very well. I thought I could have cooked the pie longer as the apples were just a bit on the firm side, but the flavor was wonderful--especially when topped with ice cream!

Apple Pie, anyone?

I snapped this photo of our kitchen eating area to send to my youngest son one sunny morning. Thought he might like a "bit of home." We just heard that he plans on spending about two weeks with us over the Christmas holidays and I'm so excited. I love cooking and baking for that "kid" as he truly loves to eat and really appreciates my meals. Anyway, the kitchen just looked so pretty with the sun streaming in the (dirty!) windows... Thought you might like to see it, too!

I want to welcome all of my new followers--so glad you're here! Please remember that, if you ask me a question and want a reply, you need to leave your email address for me. Otherwise I have no way to respond to some of you who are "no-reply bloggers." I hope you can find some time to sit and stitch in this very busy pre-holiday season--it is so good for the stress-levels that seems to skyrocket at this time of year... Thank you, as always, for each and every comment--I truly appreciate them! Bye for now...