Thursday, January 20, 2022

Another year older and sharing my final finishes of 2021

Oh, those old birthdays sure do come around quickly, don't they? I remember so badly wanting to be older when I was young--to do the "grown-up" things that all the big kids were allowed to do: ride my bike in the street, stay outside past dark playing with the neighborhood kids, walk to school by myself... But, now that I've reached my late 60's, I so wish time would slow down. I want more time to spend with my family, especially my grandson, more time to stitch every single chart in my stash and then some, more hours in the day to re-read favorite books and discover new ones. But, that's not how life works, is it? I turned 67 on Sunday and some days seem to pass in a blur. I begin each day with the best of intentions, but sometimes feel that I've accomplished nothing by the time my head hits the pillow at night. Does anyone else feel that way?

Well, enough of my philosophical ramblings on life and getting older! I actually do have some stitching to share with you today even though it is from 2021. I want to share the Christmas gifts that I made and sent out around the world to various stitching friends. As usual, I wish I could send many more gifts, but I'm only human and can only do so much! Anyway, I hope you will, perhaps, gain some inspiration from these finishes...

This charming Prairie Schooler piece is from Book No. 133 called "Winter Wind." It is only the top quarter of the design and one I've stitched before for myself (you can see my first finish in this post). This was stitched on 40 ct. pearl gray Newcastle with the suggested colors. This one is finished a bit differently as I actually forgot to attach the red beads (which represented the berries on each border), but, thankfully, the recipient liked it as is!

A portion of Prairie Schooler's "Winter Wind" stitched as an ornament

 

Next up, are two little round ornaments (have you noticed I seem to enjoy making round and oval ornaments more and more?) which went to two friends in Virginia. Again, this is a chart I've stitched before, although not "over one" like I did with these two. This is "French Country Snowflake" by JBW Designs. I used 25 ct. water sapphire Lugana and stitched them "over one" with white Anchor thread. I did omit the word "snowflake" that was charted. I think these designs are so clever with the miniature winter motifs featured inside! Can you spy the snowman, the skate, the reindeer, the sled, and the cottage? So creative!

Two JBW Designs "French Country Snowflake" ornaments

 

This Cricket Collection cardinal mitten is one that I haven't stitched before, but I love how it turned out. I used 40 ct. R&R salt marsh green linen with the suggested DMC colors for this finish. Beads were added for the cardinal's eyes and I turned it into a round ornament for my bird-loving friend.

The Cricket Collection cardinal mitten
 

The next ornament is one of my favorites as I love the Christmas greeting on it and, of course, that darling little bunny. This one can be found in the 2011 Just Cross Stitch Ornament magazine and is a design by The Sampler Girl. It is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. tea-dyed Monaco with most of the suggested colors. I did change the red to my go-to Christmas red: DMC 221. I'm happy to say the little bunny is residing, very happily, "across the pond" now!

"Good Tidings to You" by The Sampler Girl

 

In addition to the ornaments, I also made 5 cross-stitch cards. I enjoy receiving cross-stitched cards because, often, you can remove the stitching and make it into a new little ornament for your tree. I'm hoping that some of these cards will be turned into ornaments as well by the recipients. Cards are also a wonderful gift for international friends because the cost of shipping has really gotten out of hand, hasn't it? Believe it or not, the four cards shown below all came from the same chart! They are from "Winter's Song" by Plum Pudding Needleart--don't you love that cardinal? The card on the left is the full design stitched "over one" on 28 ct. Bay Leaf Jobelan. I actually stitched another as my August ornament last year (which you can read about here). And the three cards on the right are that same cardinal stitched "over two" on 28 ct. black Monaco.

Four stitched cards from "Winter's Song" by Plum Pudding Needleart

The final gift is simply another variation of the JBW Designs "French Country Snowflake" stitched "over one" on 28 ct. white Monaco. For the soft pink shade, I used Classic Colorworks "Sea Shelley." I don't stitch with pink very often, but I truly enjoyed it!

JBW Designs "French Country Snowflake" card

 

In other stitching news, I'm happy to report that a new piece has been hung after many, many years.  It took 8 long years to get this piece  on display! I began the With Thy Needle and Thread "Birds Of a Feather" sampler back in 2014, finished it in 2019 (if you want the details on the finish, just check here), and framed it last year. And finally, finally, I've hung it in my living room. Doesn't it look pretty against the backdrop of the blue walls? 

Framed "Birds Of a Feather" sampler by With Thy Needle and Thread

Here's a close-up of the frame... I sent this one to Total Framing in Virginia and the whole process was very easy (although I did have to wait nearly four months for it to come back to me). One of my goals for 2022 is to get more things framed and on my walls! We'll see how I do...


 

Other than stitching an ornament each month, I never have specific goals of what I want to stitch. But, this year, for some reason, Christmas stitching is calling to me. I don't mean ornaments, but larger Christmas pieces that I can frame. There are so many truly lovely Christmas designs out there and I honestly think I'm happiest when stitching anything Christmas related. So, I've ordered a few larger Christmas charts that (I hope) to share with you as I stitch them. This may be the year of "all Christmas, all year!" Just a warning :)

A birthday to remember... I was so surprised when my three sons told me they wanted to give me a family getaway weekend at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland for my birthday present this year. I mean, it wasn't even a milestone birthday! But, I think they just wanted to celebrate the fact that everyone is back on the East Coast and liven up the otherwise dull month of January (have I mentioned how much I dislike having a January birthday? Yes, I have--many, many times :)  Anyway, we arrived at our lovely rented lake home on Friday evening and prepared to settle in for what would be a nice cozy three-day weekend. We played games, went to a nature center, ate way too much food, snacked our way through the day, and were thoroughly entertained by "Mister B" who is just delighted at all the new words he can say. Below is my favorite photo of the weekend as my husband holds our little grandson looking out over Deep Creek Lake.


Little did we know that Mother Nature would interfere... The snow forecasts kept getting worse and worse so we pushed my birthday celebration up a day and ended up having to drive home on my actual birthday. We just couldn't risk traveling in the snow and ice with my grandson in the mix. My husband and I (and my middle son and his girlfriend) were heading north ahead of the storm so we made it home with no incident. My youngest and oldest son (and his family) were heading east, however, and it was an entirely different story for them. The youngest, who left later than the oldest, encountered roads so treacherous that he saw a big truck jack-knifed across the road right in front of him! Thank goodness, he hadn't left five minutes earlier... Things were so bad, he finally drove to his brother's house to relax and calm down for the evening before getting back on the road again. I'm sure some of you have never driven on icy, snow-covered roads, but it is exhausting and nerve-racking!

Thankfully, we all made it home safely and this will surely be a birthday weekend that we'll talk about for years to come.  I really am beyond touched that my sons gave me such a wonderful gift, even if our time together was cut short! I love those guys so very much!

My sons gave me a wonderful birthday weekend! Believe it or not, it was freezing outside--and very windy with temperatures  in the low 'teens. I don't know how my sons dared go out without jackets  while I'm all bundled up!

 

Much to my surprise, my birthday wasn't over! This week, I received three lovely gifts from stitching friends June, April, and Vickie--thank you all so much. I really am thrilled that you would remember me! And a big thank you to those of you who sent cards and emailed birthday messages...

Gifts from June in Great Britain: a lovely notebook, a much-needed new pen, cute keychain, and a fun tag about chocolate. Thank you so much, June!

Gifts from April in Virginia: a beautifully stitched and finished ornament for my tree, yummy cinnamon pecans (if my husband behaves, I'll share some with him!), and a cute "Sew Happy" notepad. Thank you so much, April!

Gift from Vickie in Wisconsin: a darling black cat wool needlebook. She knew my old kitty was an all-black cat so she modeled her creation after Shadow. I told her I can also use it as a finger puppet to entertain my grandson when we FaceTime! Thank you so much, Vickie!

 

We did end up with about 8 inches of snow from the weekend storm, but it was much worse down in Maryland where we had rented the lake house. It really was lovely to wake up to on Monday morning, though--our first real snow this year! The cardinals look so pretty against the snowy background, don't they?

Such a beautiful couple!

And that's it for this post! I'm working on my ornament for January (it's stitched, but not finished) so I just may be back before the end of the month to share that with you. If not--I'll see everyone in early February. Just a gentle reminder to make sure to include your email address if you want me to try to answer your questions. I have no way of responding if you don't! I hope you enjoy this last ten days of the month--it sure seems like 2022 is already speeding by, doesn't it? Thank you for all of your wonderful comments and emails--I so appreciate each and every one. Bye for now...

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

And so a new year begins...

Happy January, my friends! How is everyone faring in this, the very first week of a newly minted year? I've seen that many of you are getting snow, but, here, it's just green grass and sunshine this week. Such a strange winter so far--we've received nothing more than a dusting of snow that quickly melted. I'm beginning to think our whole winter will be like this. 

I fully intended on one last post in 2021, but with my grandson and his parents here for two weeks, I just had no free time. I took the advice my own mom gave me when I was a busy young mother--sleep when the child sleeps. I went to bed early and at least laid down to rest when "Mister B" napped. I'm feeling all of my 67 years (well, I'll be 67 in 12 days!) and now fully understand why you have kids at a young age! Whew! But, oh we had fun! I am just amazed at the words he is learning to say every day--big words like pinecone, candle, tunnel, twinkle... I love just watching his little mind at work. We danced and sang and had the best time with him. Such a smiley, happy little soul!

Needless to say, no stitching was done at all during the visit--oh, how I missed it and it made me realize (even more) just how much of a stress reliever it is for me. Luckily, I do have some ornaments that I made for the youngsters in our family to share with you today...

Three ornaments for three dear little ones!

From left to right, I'll give you the details on each ornament seen above... The sweet rabbit in the Christmas stocking is a freebie called "Remy Rabbit" from Brooke's Books that you can find right here. It looks quite a bit different from the charted design as I left off the border and the number 18 (it is part of an Advent calendar so all of the designs have large numbers on them). I also changed a few of the colors and made it into an oval by adding various snowflakes. This is stitched on 40 ct. water green Newcastle which is fast becoming one of my favorite fabrics for ornament stitching.

"Remy Rabbit" freebie by Brooke's Books

Many of you will recognize this JBW Designs gingerbread boy ornament as it is one I've stitched at least five times before! This cutie is stitched on 32 ct. black Belfast linen with DMC threads. I did fill in the gingerbread boy with DMC 167 rather than just outline him as was charted. I also stitched the little baby's name rather than the words "Baby's First Christmas." I added red beads for the holly berries and a miniature white pompom to the tip of his cap. Such a cute ornament for a baby's first Christmas, don't you think?

The 6th JBW gingerbread ornament I've stitched!

And finally, my grandson's ornament this year is designed by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery and can be found in the 2017 Just Cross Stitch Ornament magazine. It's called "Snow Much Fun at the North Pole" and is stitched on 40 ct. water green Newcastle linen with DMC and Anchor threads. I changed the base to green and white and stitched my grandson's name (which is blurred for privacy) in the white band. I also added some different snowflakes than were charted. The little penguin  got a white mini pompom added to his hat, too.

A little penguin for my little grandson!

My grandson opened his ornament while sitting at the kitchen table with us before breakfast and as soon as he saw it, he pointed to the little tree sitting in the center and said "Tee, tee!" He wanted me to hang it up on the tiny tree--so cute! So that is where it stayed until he went home, taking the ornament with him for his family tree. 

"Mister B" knew right where he wanted to hang his new ornament!

 

I have additional stitched ornaments that I sent out as gifts in 2021, but I'll share those with you in the next post. I received many lovely Christmas packages from wonderful stitching friends--thank you all so much. Here are the photos of them (in no particular order)...

A beautiful "Cricket Collection" mitten from Stasi (stasibbee on Instagram)

A darling cardinal ornament and acrylic "Stitch Starter" and case from Robin (robin_in_virginia on Instagram)

A beautiful Joy-filled ornament and some Jelly Bellies from Georgia (georgiawireman on Instagram)

The sweetest ivory colored wool strawberry and some floss cards from Claire (blackberryhill1 on Instagram)

A darling blue and white sewing tray, cute Santa chart, and some candy from June

A sweet stocking ornament made from a vintage hexie quilt from Vickie (stitchingvickie on Instagram)

A trio of beautiful cards from three friends in Germany: Left to right is a TIAG angel from Gabi; a lovely blue wreath from Martina (martinas_allerleihobby on Instagram); and a pretty quilt star from Manuela (manuelas_flowergarden on Instagram)

A truly lovely piece of hand embroidery made by my new friend from the Czech Republic, Eva

A darling "With Thy Needle and Thread" ornament from Cindy (cindyderosa on Instagram)

A lovely French cross stitch magazine and some finishing supplies from Nathalie

A luscious skein of red silk thread and a Santa Claus waxer from Cindy (cindycstitches on Instagram)

I have been blessed to "meet" so many wonderful stitchers from all over the world! Thank you one and all for thinking of me at Christmas time... I will treasure your gifts and think of you whenever I look at them! I also want to thank those of you who sent Christmas cards--I loved hearing from each of you. As I've said many times in the past, stitching friends are the best!

It's fun to look back on the past year and remember what you've stitched, isn't it? So many memories and times and places are attached to each piece. On Instagram these were my most liked photos--that Pottery Barn cubby seems to rank pretty high! I'm about ready to change it up for January with some smiling snowmen so I'll share that with you in my next post. 

In 2021, my Pottery Barn cubby and Christmas ornaments were liked the most on my Instagram Top Nine!

Once again, I am leading a monthly ornament stitchalong (SAL) on Instagram! If you'd like to join in on the fun, just post your finished ornaments each month using the hashtag #12in22ornamentstitchalong. It's a great way to meet new stitchers and be inspired by their work. We have stitchers from all over the world participating--France, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Spain, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, The Ukraine, Canada, the United States, and more! There is a wonderfully supportive stitching community on Instagram so if you want to join in and follow me, you can do so right here! There is no pressure to stitch all twelve ornaments--just do the best that you can. Even if you only stitch one ornament, it's better than having no new ones to add to your tree, right? Just imagine how happy your tree will be come December with some beautiful brand-new handstitched ornaments hanging on it!

Are you interested in stitching an ornament each month? If so, join in on the #12in22ornamentstitchalong on Instagram--the more the merrier!

 

Christmas, although still wonderful, wasn't my best as I came down with some sort of stomach flu or food poisoning the afternoon of Christmas Eve Day! UGH--DOUBLE UGH! I had to go right to bed very early that evening and couldn't even help my little grandson set out milk and cookies for Santa. And after spending most of the early hours of Christmas day sick to my stomach in the bathroom, I was in no shape to help cook our traditional big Christmas breakfast. So we postponed it a day and just opened gifts on Christmas morning which worked out fine. My little grandson, "Mister B," was a bit confused by everything, but he loved all the wrapping paper and boxes! Here is my favorite photo of me reading his new cat book to him--a gift from my middle son and his girlfriend. I'm back to normal now, but it took a few days to get my strength back and my stomach to calm down. On the plus side, I think that was the first Christmas ever that I didn't gain any weight!

I could sit and read to my sweet grandson all day! He absolutely loved his new cat book from his uncle!

 

New Year's Eve was quiet here--we all ended up watching the movie "The Proposal" (again!) in honor of sweet Betty White who passed away that day. I am still shocked that she didn't make it to 100, but what a wonderful life she had. I am always rather sad on New Year's Eve for some reason and really think about and miss my dear mom and dad that day.


Happiest moment of the year... It's been our tradition for many years to go around the dinner table and talk about our happiest moment (or one of them!) of the year that is just ending. What would you pick? Mine was something that happened on our first visit to my grandson's new home in Maryland in early October. When we arrived, he was napping, but as soon as he woke up his mom went up to get him. As she was carrying him down the stairs, he caught sight of me, gave a little squeal, and began kicking his legs madly. He reached out to me and practically jumped into my arms. I think that was when I realized that he truly knew who I was and knew I was someone special in his life. Just thinking about it now, makes me smile :) What would you say is one of your happiest moments of 2021? I'd love to hear about it!

So, that's it--my first post of 2022! I want to thank all of you who have followed me for the past 13 years! My blog will be entering it's 14th year later this month--can you believe it? Have any of you read along since the beginning in 2009? I think there might be a couple of you out there :) I also want to give a warm welcome to all of you new followers as well--so glad you are here. It warms my heart to know you find my little old blog interesting enough to visit. Wishing you every happiness in this new year! Bye for now...

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

A cross-stitch Christmas tree!

My tree is up and, although I fully expected that my little grandson would have totally rearranged the ornaments by now, that hasn't been the case. He's been much more interested in the vintage Little Tikes 1980's era refrigerator and oven/microwave/sink play kitchen that I have set up for him on the opposite end of the sunroom. I'm so glad I saved them from when my sons (who were all born in the 1980s) were little. They were pretty dusty from being in the attic for thirty years, but lots of soap and a little elbow grease made them sparkle like new. And my tree still stands! Here is my cross stitch Christmas tree for 2021...

2021 Christmas Tree


I always put the smaller ornaments up near the top and the bigger ornaments at the bottom


I did end up leaving most of my Prairie Schooler Santas in the Pottery Barn cubby, but a few made it to my tree

I've now moved my newest 12 ornaments to my tree, too. 

  
Can you spot the five Little House Needleworks buildings that I've stitched so far? I am definitely going to add to that series in 2022!


On my tree you'll see everything from cute to traditional.

It's so wonderful to relax in my sunroom and just gaze at my tree...


... especially at night!


This is my favorite photo of my sunroom and the Christmas tree at night


It's hard to believe that another year is winding down. We all had such high hopes that Covid would be conquered by now... at least I know I did! Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. But, I am extremely grateful that all three sons will be here--the first Christmas since 2018! My youngest just returned from a trip to Iceland and I was sure he would get Covid on the flight back to Washington DC on Sunday. But, he took a rapid test, and is driving home as I write this. I am so thankful! 

I've received some lovely gifts from fellow stitchers around the world and I'll share those with you in my next post. I hope to be back at the end of the month with one last post for 2021, but with my family visiting, I'm not sure I'll get around to it. We'll see...

I want to wish all of my stitching friends, fellow bloggers, dear family members, and blog readers a truly wonderful Christmas. It may be another low-key Christmas for many, but I hope you are still filled with at least some of  the wonder and excitement that can be seen in the eyes of a young child at this time of year. I dare you not to smile when you look at this little cutie holding his very first Christmas stocking as Grandpa was adding another hook to our mantle to hang it up alongside the others. Merry Christmas to all! Bye for now...

"Look! I got my very own stocking and it has puppies on it!" (Or "puppos" as my 17-month-old grandson calls dogs :)

 
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

 


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

2021 Parade of Ornaments

Can it really be time for another of my annual ornament parades? I mean, seriously! Where did 2021 go? It seems like I was just writing the post for my 2020 "Parade of Ornaments" and... whoosh! Twelve months have flown by. I have to say that last year I was so hopeful that we would be done with this Covid mess by this time. Sadly, it seems that it may be haunting us forever in one form or another. Sigh... Thank goodness we have our stitching to bring some sanity and a sense of peace to our lives, right? 

Would you believe that the "Parade of Ornaments" began for me way back in 2010? That was the first year I posted my newly-minted dozen hanging from the garland on our staircase and I've been doing so ever since! Is it hard to stitch 12 new ornaments each year? Not at all--especially when  you have lots of company. This year, for the very first time, I led an ornament stitchalong on Instagram using the hashtag: #12in21ornamentstitchalong. It was very well received and I got to know so many nice stitchers from around the world. Plus, it helped me stay on task and complete my own ornaments in a timely fashion! I've had many folks tell me they really admire the way I finish and have even told me they end up finishing their ornament in the exact same way. I don't mind that at all--I'm honored that I can inspire you! (I always appreciate it, however, when you credit me for your finishing inspiration when you do imitate my finishes).

So, let's get started... the weather here in Pennsylvania is gray after three gloriously sunny days. Not the best day for a parade, but the temperature will be in the 50s today so I'm not complaining! Anyway, sit back, relax, and enjoy the parade! I hope you find a bit of inspiration somewhere along the way...

The 2021 "Parade of Ornaments!"

How about a closer look at the 2021 parade participants?

January ~ March 2021

April ~ June 2021

July ~ September 2021

October ~ December 2021

 

Once again, I had no theme to my twelve... half were oval or round finishes and half were little pillow finishes. And as you can tell, my choice of what to stitch is very eclectic! From the classic Prairie Schooler Santas to the adorable stack of Christmas mugs to the whimsical children (not so) patiently waiting in their beds as Santa visits below--I really love them all. How about you? Do you have a personal favorite? Here are close-ups of each month; study them a bit more and let me know your favorite in the comments section below. I'd love to know! (And for anyone wanting specific information on fabrics, threads, changes, etc., just click on the title of the ornament in the caption below each photo and that will take you to the specific post for each finish).

JANUARY

"Old World Santa" from Prairie Schooler Book No. 80

 FEBRUARY

"Merry Friends" by Plum Street Samplers

 MARCH

"White Christmas" by Ewe & Eye & Friends
 

 APRIL


"2021 Annual Prairie Schooler Santa"

 

MAY

"St. Nicholas II" from Prairie Schooler Book No. 36

JUNE


"Night Before Christmas" by Birds of a Feather

 

JULY

"Miss et Mister Snow" by Tra La La

 

AUGUST

"Winter's Song" by Plum Pudding Needleart

 

SEPTEMBER

"Old World Santa" from Prairie Schooler Book No. 82

 

OCTOBER

"Winter Saltbox" by Melisa at Pinker 'n Punkin

 

NOVEMBER

"Sweet Christmas" by Whitehouse Stitchery

DECEMBER

"Joy" by Luminous Fiber Arts

 

So, which one makes you smile the most? I'm having a hard time picking just one, but, I think November's cute little gingerbread boys peeking out of the stack of Christmas mugs wins my vote this year. That sweet Tra La La snow couple from July is a very close second, though. 

This year, I added a sweet little vignette of wrapped packages and a small tree next to the staircase. I saw the idea on Pinterest  last year and immediately filed it away for future use. The smallest package wrapped in simple brown paper is a book for my sweet 17-month-old grandson: "Baby Touch and Feel Merry Christmas." I'm still working on his ornament for this year, but it should be all finished up by Christmas morning. Oh, how I'm looking forward to seeing the excitement in his sweet brown eyes on December 25th!

 

Here is one last shot of my foyer at night... a bit hard to see the ornaments, but still lovely.

Love the soft glow of Christmas lights...

 

So how did you enjoy this year's parade? I hope you loved it as much as I loved stitching and finishing each of those little ornaments. If you would like further inspiration, please click on the dates for past parades--I think you'll find that my finishing has come a long way over the years, too! I really try to make each one the best it can be so there is a wide variety on my tree... Hopefully, I've succeeded! Here are the links to all of the parades from years past that you may wish to check out: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020Enjoy!

I've finally finished decorating my tree and will share that with you in my next post. When I was pulling out the ornaments this year, I realized just how many I had stitched on black. And I also realized that those tend to be my favorites (but, shhh... don't let the other ornaments find that out!). The colors just look so bright and cheery on the black background, don't they? Many are stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco, a few on 32 ct. Belfast linen, and a couple of the oldest ones are done on 18 ct. black Aida.

Love my ornaments on black the most of all!

Why am I addicted to ornament stitching? I suppose it's the almost instant gratification that comes from the process. You stitch for a few days, finish in a day, and you're all set. No running around trying to find a frame or sticking it in a drawer waiting to finish it "some day." But, there are also the memories attached to the little ornaments... This year, the June ornament makes me distinctly recall being in Florida and fighting to do even a handful of stitches a day due to my issues with vertigo. The July snow couple reminds me of my July wedding anniversary--44 years this year! And the five Little House Needlework "Hometown Holidays" finishes (stitched on black in the photo above) remind me of the small home town where I spent my growing up years (note to self: you really need to add to that series next year!). So many memories in each carefully stitched ornament...

I so appreciate you cheering me on in my ornament journey each month. It really was wonderful having so many stitchers joining me in doing a monthly ornament in 2021. I hope even more of you will consider joining in on the fun for 2022... Enjoy this last ten days before Christmas! I still need to get a couple of gifts in the mail and finish sending my cards, but, other than that, I feel like I'm in great shape for my family's visit. Take care now, my friends! Bye for now...