Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween stitching and a wonderful honor

Hello, my stitching friends! Can you believe I'm back so soon? I just posted last week and here I am again with a couple of cute Halloween finishes to share with you. But, first, I want to thank everyone for your kind thoughts and congratulatory words on my son's engagement! That is what I so love about this stitching blogging community--everyone is truly excited for everyone else's happy news. And, at the same time, I know I, like many of you have been comforted by words of support when something sad has crossed my path. If only the world were made up of stitchers, right?!

This sweet Drawn Thread sampler has been in my stash for years and I'm so glad I finally stitched it. Honestly, it was such fun! I just loved the little trick-or-treaters and they brought back such delightful memories of Halloween night when my sons were small. This is called "Halloween House Sampler" and is stitched on 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle. I used a variety of overdyeds and DMC pulled from my stash and am so pleased with the result. If you are familiar with this design, you'll notice I made a number of changes. I stitched a trio of black bats rather than the initials that were charted. I also omitted the year after the "31" and stitched two gold stars on either side of it. Teeny-tiny eyes were added to the witch, ghost, and cat, and also to the two ghosts peering out the windows. I think I'll be framing this one, but I could change my mind! What do you think?

"Halloween House Sampler" by The Drawn Thread

My other finish is a Prairie Schooler pillow that those of you who follow me on Instagram (if you want to follow me, please click here) have already seen. It is one of the PS mini-cards, but I changed the shade of orange to DMC 3826 and made the eyes gold (DMC 729) rather than the charted orange. It is stitched "over one" on 25 ct. mushroom lugana. I can't tell who is more scared--the ghost or the moon! What a cute design--oh, how I miss the anticipation of seeing the new Prairie Schooler designs each year...

Prairie Schooler "Boo!"

To finish it off, I simply added some orange ric-rak, black and ivory gingham, and handmade gold cording tied in a bow and topped off with a rusty star.

Another PS finish for my Halloween collection

I haven't really decorated for Halloween once again this October. As some of you who are long-time readers remember, my dad died on Halloween two years ago and I've struggled with this time of year ever since. But, at least this year I actually stitched two pieces so I'm slowly returning to normal... baby steps, right? 

I have simply kept my autumn decorations on display and will begin putting out my Thanksgiving stitching next week. Perhaps 2018 will see me decorating for Halloween once again... We'll see! The photo below was already posted on Instagram, but I thought you might like to see it, too... Three of my favorite Prairie Schooler autumn finishes all in one vignette. They were stitched in 2007, 2008, and I made the teeny pillow on black just last year ... Don't you feel a sense of comfort just by looking at them? Nobody does autumn designs like Prairie Schooler did, in my opinion!

Prairie Schooler autumn beauties

Annual stitching retreat update... Last weekend I attended my 7th annual stitching retreat with four friends. As in past years, we rented out an entire Bed & Breakfast near Erie, PA and just stitched, laughed, ate, slept, and repeated that routine for three days straight! I spent my time working on two of my monthly snowmen ornaments (which you can see a sneak peak of in the collage below). The B&B is always so beautifully decorated for Halloween--just look at that cool pumpkin that the innkeeper carved based on the "American Gothic" painting. And, of course, every good inn has to have a kitty! This one had two--here is sweet Sweeney watching us from his perch on the sideboard as we dined on one of those way-too-big breakfasts that were served each morning.

Stitching retreat 2016 at The Grape Arbor Inn

Stitchy gifts... Two of my retreat friends gifted us with some lovely presents! From Pam came this gorgeous zippered project pouch with pockets on the front and the back--so pretty and useful. We got to select one from the nine (!) that she had made and, of course, I picked this blue and yellow beauty. Isn't it lovely? And Barb made these sweet needleminders with the name of the inn where we stay--she did a wonderful job on them! I am actually using mine on my refrigerator to remind me of the special times we've shared through the years. I think both Pam and Barb could go into business--their gifts are so well-made and would be great for any stitcher! The future of our get-together is uncertain as we are all becoming busier and busier with family things (like my son's wedding next fall!) and such, but it certainly has been a memorable retreat for seven years...

Gifts from Barb and Pam

A lovely honor... So, I mentioned an honor in my blog title, didn't I? Well, imagine my surprise when I received an email last week telling me that Stitching Dreams, yes, this little old blog of mine, has been nominated for the 2017 British Craft Awards "Blog Of the Year" in the cross stitching category. I keep wondering if they made a mistake because, obviously, I'm not British! But, I am truly so honored just to be nominated! 
I have been blogging for almost 8 years and in that time, I've "met" so many wonderful stitchers from all over the world. I don't blog for money or the desire to be known; I do it simply to keep track of my stitching progress and to cultivate the friendships that blogging offers. I would never make a good political candidate because I could never say "vote for me!" and I've never been comfortable being in the spotlight. I haven't even told anyone about this nomination except my husband and three sons (surprise, mom!!). But, if you would like to take a peak at the nominated blogs and vote--for any one of us, that would be wonderful. You can vote by clicking here and then on the "cross stitch" tab at the bottom of the page. It takes less than a minute... So, thank you to the wonderful folks who nominated me--that is so special! And thank you, in advance, for anyone who does choose to vote for Stitching Dreams...

Well, since I'm working this weekend, I won't get to pop in again to say "Happy Halloween!" I hope you, who celebrate it, enjoy your day on Monday and are treated to some tasty goodies. I always loved watching my sons sort out their "loot" after they returned from begging for candy up and down our street. And sometimes, I was even lucky enough to walk away with a Mounds Bar or an Almond Joy because they, like their dad, do not like coconut! Do my international friends have trick-or-treating? I know it is becoming more common in some other parts of the world; it has become so hugely popular here in the United States...   ENJOY!!  Bye for now...


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Four sweethearts and a snowman!

Greetings from an unusually warm western Pennsylvania! 84° in mid-October? Unbelievable, but that's what they're forecasting for later today and I'm loving it. I know it won't last forever, but the winter will surely feel shorter due to this amazingly sunny, warm fall we've had so far. 

Today, I have a couple of finishes that are long overdue. You see, way back in this post from August 2011 (yep, more than 5 years ago!), I wrote that I would be stitching the most famous crow couple Ida Mae and her honey, Ira Ray "next." Ha! I wonder what happened? They have been kitted up all these years just patiently waiting for me to pay them some attention. And you know what? I'm sorry I put off stitching them so long because they were both so delightful to stitch!

I had originally picked the suggested 35 ct. WDW straw linen for the crow couple (designed by The Good Huswife), but after just a few stitches, I knew it wasn't for me. It was so flopsy--it about drove me crazy! So, I switched to what lately seems to be my "new best friend"--40 ct. country mocha  Newcastle. Here is Ida Mae in all her glory stitched with the suggested NPI silks. Isn't she adorable? I just love her polka dots!

Miss Ida Mae Crow

Seriously, who could resist her? Well, certainly not Mr. Ira Ray Crow in his bright green vest and chocolate striped pants. I did make some changes to the flowers surrounding Ira Ray--I omitted the bright orange and used the same colors that were found in Ida Mae's palette. I changed the color of his buttons, too, from ivory to gold because they showed up better.

Mr. Ira Ray Crow

Um, let's talk about those pants of Ira Ray's--don't they totally remind you (well, those of you old enough to remember the fashionable 60s, that is!) of the slacks sported by many of the boy bands of the decade? Why, I know I dated a few guys who wore them (and, I "might" even admit to having owned a similar pair, myself--but don't tell anyone!!). I found this great old photo of a 60s band online (sorry, but I don't know the name of the group) and just look at the striped pants on the second guy--notice the resemblance? Too funny!!

So, what do you think? Are Ira Ray and Ida Mae in the courting phase or are they married? I think it's the former... They both have a sort of hesitant, shy look about them. Ah, young love in bloom! I plan on framing them  in black, rustic looking frames and hanging the pair in my family room.

Two sweethearts in love...

And I have another snowman ornament finish--my ninth of the year. Oh, wait, this is the 10th month of the year, isn't it? Yes, I'm behind--still need to stitch my snowman for October. I needed something quick and easy so I chose this little guy  by The Little Stitcher called "Blue Snowman." He can be found in the 2016 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue. Once again, I used 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle--just love it!

"Blue Snowman"

I changed the color of blue to DMC 930 (from the turquoise hue that was suggested) because I wanted to coordinate it with the Woolies Flannel that I chose for my finish. I'm so pleased with the final look. The blue wool flannel reminds me of a snuggly  blanket and the ivory braided trim resembles a warm winter sweater giving this ornament a nice cozy feel. I surrounded it with some handmade cording and added a couple of rusty bells hanging from strands of DMC 930 to finish off the ornament. Only three ornaments left to stitch for the year--hooray!

A ninth snowman ornament for my tree

So, that is my stitching news for this post...

But, don't leave yet! I've got some other news... Big news!! Look at the title of my post--it reads: "Four sweethearts and a snowman," doesn't it? Who are the other two sweethearts??? Well, remember my oldest son who moved to California last month? What I didn't tell you is that he left with a ring in his pocket... a beautiful diamond ring. And, on a lovely San Diego evening, while drifting down the canals near Coronado, he asked his very own sweetheart to marry him as they watched the sun set from a gondola. They are planning a fall 2017 wedding and we couldn't be happier for them... 

An engagement at sunset

So, there is lots of happiness in my household in spite of a very tumultuous time in United States history. Thank goodness I have my stitching and Netflix watching so I can avoid the political commercials and stressful moments that this election is causing--at least, to some degree. Is anyone else stressed out? Yikes!! Pure craziness...

I plan to be back with a couple of Halloween finishes before the end of the month, but until then--"Happy Stitching" everyone! And thank you all for your sweet comments and emails. The fact that you take a few moments out of your day to leave a comment really means a lot to me! Bye for now...