Sunday, October 24, 2010

Favorite Freebie Finishes

Hello everyone! Can you believe we're down to the final week in October? I don't know about you, but I'm not at all ready for the cold and snow that will be with us before too long. It didn't hit me until I was putting this post together that each of the things I have to show you today is a freebie! I love freebies and think they're great ways for designers to introduce us to their charts. First up is a new design called Quaker 31 from San-Man Originals.

I can't remember when I enjoyed stitching a design so much--I just loved every stitch in this one! There are so many details in it--the checkered cat, the black bat with his yellow eyes, all of those pumpkins and scary words--it was just a fun, fun piece! I stitched Quaker 31 "over one" on 28 ct. summer khaki lugana using DMC threads 301, 725, 520, and 310 and made it into a little pillow with some orange and black paisley fabric, black ric-rac, and a yellow button. What do you think?

I know most of you will recognize my next finish as "Snowman's Quaker Christmas" from Midnight Stitching. It is an old freebie which you can still find right here. Since blue is my favorite color, I changed him from the traditional red/green combo to Crescent Colors "Blue Moon."

Most of you know that I've been stitching an ornament a month and this is my finish for September (yes, I'm a bit behind!). For this smiling guy, I used 32 ct. flax Belfast linen and bordered him with Mill Hill Glass seed beads (color 02087). This was only the second time I've attempted a beaded edge, but it went well and I'm very happy with the result. I think he'll make a great addition to my snowman tree this December!

Next on the freebie finishes list is my ornament for the month of October (see, I caught up!!). This design by 123 Citrouille can be found right here: Noel Freebie. Would you believe this was my first ever red and white finish? I loved it! It was also the first time I used DMC 115--what a great thread--I finally see why you've all been raving about it!

I left out the bottom band of the original chart because the ornament was becoming too big for me (plus I was getting lazy!). The finished hanging pillow is backed by the red and black patterned fabric you see behind it and trimmed with some red and white checked ribbon and those "antique" buttons (purchased at Joann Fabrics!) for accents. I think this is one of my favorite ornament finishes of the year. ..

In an effort to keep track of my favorite freebies, I've added a new list to my sidebar. Just look for this photo collage of some of my favorites and you can link to the charts yourself. And what about you? Do you have any favorite freebies? I'd love to hear what yours are--who knows, your favorites might just become some of mine, too. With everyone trying to save money in this economy, it's nice to know that with some scraps of linen and a few threads we can all create something special for next to nothing. Thanks so much to all of you designers out there who share your talents with us--we really appreciate it!

Finally--just look what appeared in my mailbox this week...this beautifully stitched RAK from dear Catherine. Now, Catherine doesn't have a blog (yet, anyway--keep encouraging her!!), but I know many of you know her as a "super commenter!" She is one of the most loyal and sincere commenters on more blogs than just about anyone I know. Catherine stitched this Sampler Girl design, called "The Empty Nest," for me after reading one of my posts about my youngest son flying the nest--and yes, her gift made me cry. She personalized it by adding a third bird to represent my three sons and even coffee-dyed her own fabric! I just love the verse on it:
"Farewell, my birds, farewell, adieu,
I happy am, if well with you."
And, isn't the verse so true? If all is right with our kids, we are happy indeed; after all, as the old saying goes: "A mother is only as happy as her least happy child." Of course, the librarian in me took over and did some research and I discovered that these are the last two lines in a poem titled "In Reference to Her Children, 23 June 1659" written in the 17th century by Anne Bradstreet. The poet is writing about her sadness at her children leaving the nest one by one--all eight of them!

I think what touched me most, besides the fact that someone I've never met stitched this lovely pillow ornament for me, is the fact that Catherine gave up her precious free time to make this gift. You see, Catherine, also the mother of three boys, is living my life of 15 years ago: the sports practices and games, the Scouting events, the music lessons, the multiple-times-a-week trips to the grocery store to feed her rapidly growing brood. Throw in the daily cooking, cleaning, laundry, counseling, homework help, refereeing the inevitable disagreements and roughhousing that a house of men includes and you have one busy mom. So, thank you, Catherine--your gift means more to me than you know and I am truly touched by your kindness...It has a special place of honor in my family room.

Well, that's about it for today... I'm not looking forward to the upcoming week. We are getting a new roof put on our house so things will be in an uproar (am I the only one who hates having workmen around?), but at least we'll have it installed before winter starts. Thanks again for your wonderful comments--I know each one takes time to write and for that reason, they mean all the more to me :) Bye now...

Friday, October 15, 2010

And the winners are...

Thank you so much for entering my giveaway--all 118 of you! I know it wasn't the biggest or best giveaway ever, but I am really happy that so many of you were interested. If only I could give each of you a gift... But, in a way you all gave each other the gift of a great reading list for any children in your life. Just take a few moments to read through the comments from the giveaway post and you will find a wonderful variety of favorite book titles from stitchers of all ages, from all over the world. I had never even heard of Enid Blyton before, but so many of my Canadian, English, and Australian friends recommended her books that I will definitely be checking her out...

My favorite comment was from my dear mother who reminded me of some of my favorite childhood books ("How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and the Babar books). At 83, mom is a new computer user and has taken to it like a fish out of water--she's even on Facebook (am I the last person on earth who doesn't use Facebook? I just feel like I spend way too much time online as it is between blogging and work). I'm so proud of you, mom!

I can almost tell how old you all are from the titles you suggested. Readers from my era (women over 50!!) seemed to recall reading Richard Scarry books, "The Jolly Postman," "Goodnight Moon," "The Velveteen Rabbit," "The Polar Express," and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to their children. Do these books look familiar to most of you?

Many of you also mentioned "Love You Forever"by Robert Munsch, which I also read to my own sons. It is a tender love story of a mother telling her little baby, then her toddler, growing son, and teenager that, no matter what happens, she'll always love him. The mother rocks him and sings to him each night:
"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
my baby you'll be."

Well, later on in the book, when the boy is now a grown adult, his mother drives to his house, climbs up a ladder, crawls into his bedroom, picks him up, rocks him and sings the little verse to him in the middle of the night. At this point in the reading, my youngest son would always burst into fits of laughter--I mean the "tears rolling-down-your cheeks" type of laughter. And, of course, he got me laughing as well. It kind of ruined the "mood" of the story if you know what I mean, but I'll always remember those evenings way back when... At the end of the book, the adult man goes to visit his ailing and elderly mother, picks her up (eliciting even more laughter from my son), and begins rocking her and singing:
"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
my mommy you'll be."

Not too long ago, I came across "Love You Forever" in my cupboard of cherished books I had saved from my sons' childhood. My youngest son came home from college on a holiday break and I showed it to him to see if he remembered it. When he came to the page where the mother is rocking her grown son...he began howling with laughter. Some things never change. And isn't that what makes family memories so special?

I found this touching video of "Love You Forever" on YouTube which will surely make you cry (and maybe even laugh a bit, when you reach that one part)!

Well, enough of that stroll down memory lane--I know what you're really here for is to see who won my giveaways. I drew names the old fashioned way; simply printed each one onto a slip of paper, threw them into a basket, and picked two lucky winners. So without further ado...drumroll, please:

The winner of the Halloween Giveaway is:

LYNN at Kearnel's Corner!

The winner of the Autumn Giveaway is:

EDIT at Fuggosegeim!

Congratulations to Lynn and Edit! Please send me your mailing addresses and I'll get your prize packages off to you as soon as possible...

Thank you all for entering my giveaway, for taking the time to comment, and for being such great friends and sources of inspiration... I'll be back next week with a couple of small finishes (I hope!). Bye now...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nine Down -- Three To Go!

I just enjoyed what had to be the most beautiful fall weekend ever! Last week opened with four days of nothing but gloomy rain and dark days, but the sun broke through on Thursday and hasn't stopped shining since! Oh, if only this weather could last through Thanksgiving... My husband was away on a 272 mile bike ride to Washington, D.C. (biking is his passion like stitching is mine) last week so I enjoyed some extra hours of stitching time. And look at what I finished! Block 9 -- Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow is now officially three quarters of the way done. This project is really starting to wear me down, though--each block takes so many hours of my time, that I've decided if (and that's a big if!!) I ever do a huge piece like this again, I'll never put myself on a deadline like I have with this one. There honestly was a point this week where I was ready to give it up completely after re-stitching that same little heart for the third time...And I really miss stitching the smaller samplers that you all are tempting me with on your blogs!

Anyway, I call this the "camouflage church" because the whole time I was stitching it, it kept reminding me of camouflage army garb! If I ever do stitch anything camouflage (not that that is likely to happen), I'll know exactly what colors to use, that's for sure. The only changes I made to this block were to leave the transom window above the church door open (not backstitching the panes) because I liked the idea of more light flowing from the church and a few minor color changes in the peacock's tail, the birds' eyes, and the heart. Oh, and I used red French knots for the flower centers because I just couldn't figure out what was charted at all. So, here are Blocks 1-9 in all their glory...

Speaking of churches, I was thrilled when this old, 1910 era, postcard came up for auction on Ebay and I was able to purchase it for a mere $3.00. Why you ask? Well, this is the Presbyterian church in my hometown where I attended Sunday school, sang in the choir, and was active in the youth group from age five until I left for college. More importantly, it is the church where my husband and I were married over 33 years ago. I have many fond memories of that church and the times I spent there. You see, the tiny town that I grew up in had only one main street and a handful of side streets. We walked or rode our bikes everywhere--my church and the park (with that all-important gazebo) were right down at the end of my street, the library was around the corner right on Main Street along with the post office, the market, the "five and dime," the drugstore, the barber, and a handful of other shops. The school was actually a mile away and we had to walk to and from every day from fourth grade on. (And yes, I was one of those parents that used the old line, "Well, in my day, I used to have to walk a mile to school every single day, rain or shine" on my sons when they would complain about walking the short distance to their bus stop!). The older I get the more I appreciate how lucky I was to grow up in a small town environment. Are any of you "small town girls," too?

One of my favorite poems, which I included in a scrapbook that I made in 2003 for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary really captures the feeling of small town life. It is titled "On Returning" and was written by Charles L. Cingolani:

On Returning

"And on returning
even the streets know
you were born here
and speak
when you walk them
watching for sidewalk flaws
cracks and swellings
where napping childhood
hides waiting.

And, after all the years
people on the porches
greet you and wave
to show they know
on seeing you,
who is one of theirs."
--by Charles L. Cingolani

I was visiting my parents in my old western New York hometown last month and took these photos of this little cast iron stove. It used to belong to my grandmother and I can remember playing with it as a child when I visited her. The stove is unbelievably heavy even though it is only about 18" tall! And the detail on it is incredible--just look at the little pots and pans and that chimney. Don't you love the name on it: "Beauty." Not sure if this was a salesman's sample or meant for a child's toy--does anyone know anything about these little stoves? Anyway, mom and I set up this scene with the stove, the primitive wooden cupboard full of small teacups and saucers, and the old round hooked rug in the corner of my old bedroom. Isn't it cute? It's nice to get things out of storage and actually enjoy them while you can...

There is still time to enter my giveaway until Friday, October 15th at 5 PM Eastern Standard Time. Just click on this link if you want to leave your comment for a chance to win. Even if you don't want to enter, you might want to take a few minutes and read everyone's comments about their favorite children's books. It's apparent that books evoke long-lasting and pleasant memories for many of us. Sorry this post was so long--I seem to be feeling very nostalgic these days...

I hope all of my Canadian friends are enjoying a lovely Thanksgiving Day today. And if any of you are lucky enough to have today off for Columbus Day (not me!), enjoy your extra stitching hours. Thank you all for taking time out of your busy day to stop in and say hello. Your comments always make me smile :) Bye now...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It's Giveaway Time!

Hello everybody! I finally got this little piece finished to add to my giveaway to celebrate reaching 200+ followers. You may recognize it as a freebie from Plum Pudding NeedleArt. I just loved Barbara's designs, don't you? If you're not familiar with them, check out her website. I stitched this little fall pillow on 32 ct. willow green Belfast linen using DMC threads (although I changed the pumpkin's colors to DMC 435 and 780).

I originally planned on offering just one giveaway, but as the number of followers kept increasing I now have two! Shown to the right is the Halloween giveaway which consists of my little stitched "Boo Web" pillow, a Prairie Schooler chart called "Boo To You," the Trilogy "Halloween Spots" chart, three 12" x 18" cuts of bright, Halloweeny fabric, three 9" X 12" pieces of fall colored stitching fabrics (18 ct. raw cork linen, 32 ct. gold Jobelan, and 32 ct. Barnwood linen), and 5 DMC threads to use with the PS chart. Oh, and what giveaway would be complete without a bit of chocolate included?

Because some of you aren't crazy about Halloween, I decided to center my other giveaway around a simple autumn theme. If you win this prize, you'll receive my latest "Blessed Be" stitched pillow, the Prairie Schooler "October" chart, the Trilogy "Happy Gobble Gobble Day" chart, 3 autumn colored cuts of fabric, three 9" X 12" pieces of stitching fabric (18 ct. raw cork linen, 32 ct. gold Jobelan, and 32 ct. Barnwood linen), 5 DMC threads to be used with the PS chart, and of course, some yummy Dove chocolate.

This giveaway is for my followers--old and new, young and not-so-young, in the U.S. or anywhere around the world. To even things up, there will only be one entry per person. You may enter both giveaways, but you can only win one. Please tell me in your comment if you want to enter both, or just the Halloween or Autumn giveaway. Make sure to include an email address if your entry doesn't link you directly back to a blog identity. Oh, and just to make it interesting for me--I'd love to hear the name and a bit about your favorite children's book or books. What made it special to you? It can be a book you read as a child or one you read to your own children. I will leave the giveaway open until Friday, October 15th at 5 PM Eastern Standard time and announce the winners on Saturday, October 16th...

Most of you know that I'm a reference librarian in a very busy public library, but did you know that I originally planned on being a children's librarian? I took all the prerequisite courses, but once I took my first reference course, I was hooked! I just love the questions people come up with when they stop at the reference desk--everything from what price a stock traded at on December 31, 1997, to how to fix an electric motor, to the names of Henry VIII's wives. It's always something new and I leave work each day having learned so much! But, just because I work with adults, doesn't mean I ever stopped loving children's literature. Last week, I was sorting through a cupboard where I've stored some of my sons' favorite children's books and came across one of the beloved titles that my middle son used to adore. It is called "The Jolly Postman" and is about a postman who is delivering letters to several fairy tale characters (The Three Bears, the witch in the gingerbread cottage, Cinderella, etc.). The book contains little pockets in which the actual letters to these characters are held--check my collage photo and you'll see how sweet and unique this little book is...

I'm looking forward to hearing about your favorite children's books and I wish you all the best of luck in the giveaway. You all deserve something for being such a fun and interesting group of followers--thank you as always for your wonderful comments. I cherish each one more than you know...Have a wonderful week! Bye now...