Monday, May 16, 2011

Finally, some framing...

Two posts in less than a week--I must be sick, right? And it seems to be another long one, so bear with me! Finally, I've managed to do a bit of framing. This poor Blackbird Designs piece called "Something Sweet" has been languishing in my finishes drawer for almost a year now! With my dear mother's 84th birthday fast-approaching, I just knew now was the time to frame it and send it off to her. I'm really thrilled with the frame I chose and she was equally thrilled with her gift when she opened it on her birthday on May 14th (If you would like to wish her a "Happy Birthday," she reads my blog and I know she would be tickled to get some birthday wishes!). I am so proud of my mom--she's been through a lot over the past year and I'm in awe of how well she has handled everything. I love you dearly mom!

I also framed another 2010 finish, Prairie Schoolers' Spring from Book No. 50: "Prairie Seasons". This one went into a frame that I'll use when I stitch the other three seasons, as well. (Well, I've done autumn already--just need to mount that and I'll be half-done). I just mount them and pop them in and out with the change of seasons. What do you think of the frame? I really like the darker rope-like detail on the inner edge. In the foreground of the photo are some yellow roses (my favorites!) that I dried from the bouquet my husband got me for Valentine's Day. I think they're so pretty and put a half-dozen in a white vase on my kitchen counter. My sons don't share my opinion and always comment about why I still have "those dead weeds" on display!

And, that's not the end of my framing; as you can see, I have lots of work ahead of me! I've had several people ask where I get my frames from over the two years that I've been blogging, and just in case any of the rest of you would like to know, here is the link. Franken Frames runs great specials (I got this particular group of frames (plus the one for "Something Sweet:) for just over $100. They were running a free shipping special and I just couldn't turn that down!

Even better, they offer up to 20 free samples of their frames--I just love playing with the little pieces of wood and holding them up against my stitching to try to find the perfect match right in the comfort of my own home. Here are some of the samples I've ordered in the past... It sure saves a ton of money to frame the smaller things yourself. I would never attempt a giant piece like my Christmas at Hawk Run Hollow, but for medium sized finishes the do-it-yourself price can't be beat!

I'm sure you've all heard the old saying "Kindness begets kindness evermore" (by Sophocles--no, I didn't know that offhand--had to look it up!!). Well, last week something happened which perfectly illustrated this old adage. I happened to see a post by Gabi at Lady of the Floss mentioning a certain out-of-print chart she was craving so I emailed her and offered to let her borrow mine. I know what it feels like to really want to stitch something but be unwilling to spend the big bucks that it is selling for on Ebay. I really didn't know Gabi and I don't think she was a follower of my blog then either, but I just wanted to help a fellow stitcher. Gabi was so thrilled that she offered to send me something on my wishlist. Well, I told her that I really didn't have a wishlist and that the only chart I'd been searching for, for ages and with no luck, was "Betsy" by Sheepish Designs. Well, what do you think dear Gabi did--she located the chart and generously sent it to me. I was so touched--I honestly wasn't looking for any sort of reward for letting her borrow my chart, but I welcomed her gift with open arms. "Betsy" arrived looking even cuter in person and I'm planning on stitching her this summer--thinking of Gabi with each stitch. So, thank you, my new stitching friend--you have no idea how much your kindness meant to me....

I've decided to begin sending little random acts of kindness to my blogging friends and special commenters and first up is this little pin pillow (along with a couple of other goodies) which is on it's way to a new home. I hope the recipient likes it! When I saw the freebie tulip pattern at The Floss Box, I knew it would be a perfect way to use up more of that pretty blue tulip fabric I bought last month. So, I stitched it up, over one on 28 ct. white jobelan, and made it into another tiny pillow... The Floss Box has many darling free charts and some wonderful inexpensive designs for sale, as well--check it out!

Due to the great Blogger debacle of last week, I lost 20 comments from May 12th so I have to extend the drawing for the Sunflower Bellpull chart (I have no idea if anyone who commented on that date put their name in for the drawing or not). You can see my finish here and all I ask is that after you've stitched it you pass on the kindness by giving it to another stitcher. So, if you're interested leave a comment on this post and I'll draw a name on May 31st...

I'll be taking a bit of a blogging break for a couple of weeks so please don't worry if I'm not commenting on your blogs. In the mean time, I'll be working on my new start--anyone have an idea as to what it is? I'll keep you in suspense until my next post, but here's a hint--it involves two of my favorite things :)

Thank you for visiting today, a warm welcome to my new followers, and, as always, your comments are so very much appreciated. Have a great week everyone! Bye for now...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Two big finishes!

Hello my friends! My blogging seems to be dwindling to a mere twice a month these days... Just a very busy time of year for all of us, isn't it? I do have a big (for me anyway!) finish to share with you which I'm very excited about. Back in February, I was gifted with the lovely Drawn Thread Sunflower Bellpull chart from the very generous Brenda. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed stitching this piece. Most of you know that I love sunflowers--remember this post from last year?

It's hard to get a good closeup of the entire piece, so I've taken photos of the different sections. The specialty stitches were challenging, but not overwhelmingly so, and they just add so much personality to the piece. If you look closely, you'll see Half Rhodes Stitches, Shell Stitches, Four-sided Stitches, Woven Stitches, Horizontal Smyrna Stitches, Alternating Back Stitches, Diagonal Satin Stitches, Lazy Roman Stitches, and Alternating Double Back Stitches. Whew!

The color used for the alphabet (Needle Necessities Serengeti) added so much to the look and provided great color variation without having to change floss colors. And those giant "bigger-than-the-house" size sunflowers, black crows, and tiny red lady bugs with their beady black heads scattered throughout the piece--adorable!

I think one of the most appealing parts of Sunflower Bellpull is the quote: "When up they riseth early in the morrow; that blissful sight it softeneth my sorrow." Nature has that effect on me--many times it is just the simple glimpse of a bird in flight or newly blooming flower that can bring a smile to my face. I suppose that's why you see so many nature photos on my blog. Another special thing about the quote is that my mother's maiden name can be found somewhere in it--can you guess what it is?

I've covered my name for privacy, but I have a question about names on samplers like this. How on earth does someone with a long name manage to make it fit? Do any of you ever have problems? I just used my first initial and last name, but if you had a really long surname, what would you do? This final section with the delta-shaped sunflower garden is so pretty, isn't it? I loved the four-sided stitch and chose to use it as a border around the entire piece even though it was only charted at the bottom point. I think it just ties up the whole piece very nicely.

As I do with all charts that are passed on to me, I want to pass this along to one of my followers. Simply let me know in your comment (on this post only) if you would like to stitch it and be included in the drawing. My only request is that you stitch it in a timely manner and pass it along when you are done... I'll announce the winner the next time I post. And thank you again Brenda--as you can tell, I truly enjoyed this piece!

My mailbox was full of stitching gifts again last week. The very talented Karen at Karen's Handiwork has a really fun drawing each month. She stitches an ornament for herself and another identical ornament for one of her lucky followers. Well, I won the April ornament and what an ornament it is! It is a very unique and perfectly stitched and beaded beauty called a "humbug." Karen has more information about it (along with much better photos) in this post if you want to try your hand at making your very own humbug. I truly love it, Karen, and it will be an honor to hang it on my tree each Christmas--thank you for sharing your talent with me!

And all the way from England, came another wonderful package from a new reader, sweet June. June doesn't have a blog, but I keep encouraging her--if I can do it, she can, too! Don't you love the miniature card that she created? It is just so sweet and with its birds and flowers it couldn't be more perfect for me. I'm going to try to find a tiny frame for it so I can display it on my kitchen shelf. She included some pretty wildlife charts and a skein of the softest pinkish-lavender floss, too. Thank you so very much, June--I've really enjoyed getting to know you through our emails and I hope you take the plunge into the wonderful world of stitching blogs very soon!

Okay, I guess you're wondering about my other finish--after all the title of this post is "Two big finishes," right? Well, the other finish isn't mine, but my youngest son's. On Sunday, May 8th, (Mother's Day here in the U.S.) I was the proudest mom in the world as I watched him graduate 'magna cum laude' from The University of Richmond. Seeing him receive his diploma with all of those honor cords around his neck brought tears to my eyes. You see, he didn't just sit in the dorm spending his time studying...He played in the jazz band, worked in the computer center, was a writing tutor for underclassmen, volunteered with Hispanic students in the community, studied in Spain, and truly lived the whole college experience to its fullest. (And yes, there were "those" parties and a bit of (ahem) "mischief," too!!)

I thought you might enjoy this collage of photos from the graduation. (Several of you have requested a photo of "the graduate" and his proud parents and I'd be happy to email you one if you'd like--just let me know in your comments. I'm just a bit shy about posting family photos on my blog for some reason.) The weather couldn't have been nicer and showcased the gorgeous campus so beautifully. I'm really going to miss the place--my oldest son graduated from the same college 7 years ago, so we've spent a lot of time in the Richmond area. It was hard to watch my son's rollercoaster of emotions this weekend--he was thrilled to be saying farewell to tests and studying, but saying goodbye to long-time friends and knowing he was about to face life in the "real world" was difficult at times. Now, it's on to job-hunting and deciding about law or graduate school. But, I have no doubt that he'll find happiness and success in whatever path he chooses. With his positive attitude and zest for living, he can't possibly fail...

Well, that's about it for this week. I'll leave you with some shots of the lovely pastel flowers that have recently burst into bloom in my yard--finally!! This had to be the rainiest, coolest spring ever here in western Pennsylvania, but this week has been gorgeous. Hope it lasts into the summer...

Thank you all for your visits, comments, and friendship. I treasure them all... Bye for now...