Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yiota's Cross Stitch Kit Review

Happy Spring everyone--or should I say "summer," since that's what it feels like here in western Pennsylvania. Yesterday, we had a record-breaking 80 degrees--amazing for mid-March! But, I'm loving every minute of this unprecedented stretch of warm weather.

A few weeks ago, I had a lovely email from Yiota, owner of Yiota's Cross Stitch asking me if I would do a review of one of her kits on my blog. I had read reviews of her kits on other stitching blogs so I was most eager to see one for myself. Her website was very easy to explore and she seems to offer something for everyone... beginning to advanced stitching and everything in between on a host of subjects and themes ranging from animals to fairies to landscapes and more!

So would you like to know what kit I chose to review? It was a hard decision, but I ended up choosing this wonderful William Morris design called "Strawberry Thief." It has both birds and blue, so, of course I love it!

I was so pleased with the packaging itself--it arrived in a very sturdy cardboard envelope which suffered no damage in the journey "across the pond." Yiota's business is located in England and she and her husband design and manufacture their own kits. I love the fact that it is a small business because I feel like you get more personalized attention should a problem ever arise.

My favorite part of the kit was the way the threads were packaged... Aren't they beautiful?! All wound up so neatly on their own little card bobbins, clearly numbered, and a hole already punched into the card should you want to place them on a ring to keep them all together. Yiota's cross stitch kits use Madeira threads, but also offer DMC numbers in case you want to substitute. I've never stitched with Madeira before and am really looking forward to it. You also have the option to purchase the chart only.

The chart was printed in large, easy-to-read symbols on quality paper... The kit included a choice of aida or 28 ct. evenweave along with a nice needle. I chose the evenweave and was pleased with the nice Zweigart piece that arrived in the kit. I'll have to say I was a bit surprised that it wasn't black, though, as I was expecting that given the black background of the design. It would be helpful if the description included the color of fabric and offered it in 32 ct. size, too. Just a couple of suggestions to make an already fine product even better!

Here is a look at the whole kit--isn't it pretty? Please hop over and take a look at Yiota's site--I think you'll be very pleased with both the shopping experience and her wonderful products. Thank you, Yiota, for the chance to review your delightful kit--I'm sure I'll enjoy stitching "Strawberry Thief!"

I haven't done much stitching since my post last week, but I am almost done with the "Nature's Alphabet" that I began back in January (in this post). The stitching itself is complete, just have to add the beads; I can't wait to show it to you next week (hopefully!). In the mean time, I'll share a couple of older spring finishes with you:

"It's Spring!" by Sue Hillis Designs.
Stitched back in 2005--I still love it!

"Summer Scene" by The Drawn Thread.
Stitched back in 2009, but just framed in January.

"Daffodil Run" by Just Nan
stitched and framed in 2009.
The little daffodil charm is so sweet
and I love the ribbon hanger!
(Found the frame at Michael's...)

Here's just a sneak preview of one thing I'm working on for my bowl of April finishes... Any guess as to what it is? Here are two hints: it's stitched over one and uses 28 ct. babbling brook Jobelan!

March 21, 1982--a most special day... It's hard to believe that 30 years ago today, I became a mother. Yes, today is my oldest son's 30th birthday and I still remember the day he was born like it was yesterday... There is nothing like the feeling a young mother experiences when she holds her newborn in her arms for the first time. To my dear, oldest son, I wish you a most ♫♪♫ Happy Birthday ♫♪♫ and I hope all of your wishes come true... After all, you made one of our wishes come true the day you were born, and we are so proud to be your parents (even if we do feel awfully old right about now!!).

Your comments on my "March bowl" were all so wonderful! I sure am enjoying coming up with new finishes for it each month and I truly appreciate your compliments on both my stitching and finishing. I'd like to offer a big welcome to all my new followers, too. I've just noticed that my number of followers has topped 700 this week and I'm just astounded that so many of you find my blog interesting enough to follow... I'd say a celebration giveaway is in order, wouldn't you? Let me put on my thinking cap and try to come up with some cheery spring gifts to offer as a giveaway very soon, okay? I hope your week is filled with everything that brings you smiles! Bye for now...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stitchin' Of the Green

Top 'o the mornin' to you, my dear friends! Things are really greening up around here--both outside and with my stitching. In my attempt to keep my bowl full of new monthly finishes, I've stitched a few St. Patrick's day pieces lately--even though I don't have a drop of Irish blood in me! But, as the saying goes--"Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day!"

Although March has been a busy month (with me working both weekends in addition to my normal hours at the library), I've been able to carve out some time to create five small green goodies. Four are both newly stitched and finished and the fifth (the Lizzie Kate leprechaun probably stitched back in 2008 or so) was pulled from my drawer of unfinished "finishes." Thank you to all who sent me suggestions of what to stitch for my "March bowl"--as you can see, I've used some of them!

Below are all five, along with the fabrics and trims I selected to finish them off. For me, choosing the fabrics, ribbons, trims, and buttons to complete a small piece of stitching is almost as fun as the stitching itself. I love rooting through my boxes and drawers of finishing supplies to find just the right fabric and trims to make an often simple design really come to life. Finishing takes me a long, long time, but I really enjoy the process... These five took most of Friday to finish off, believe it or not!
So, would you like to see how they each look all finished up? Well, let's go!

First up is this classic Prairie Schooler shamrock bouquet from PS Book No. 13: A Prairie Year. I just love those older Prairie Schooler designs, don't you? Even though this chart was published back in 1986, its designs have withstood the test of time and never seem to look dated. This was stitched on 32 ct. dirty Belfast linen with the suggested DMC threads. I backed it with the green gingham fabric pictured above and accented it with a bow of handmade cording on top for a very simple finish.

I thought this St. Patrick's Day black cat was adorable. I'd say he's in for a ton of good luck based on the size of that giant four-leaf clover he's holding, wouldn't you? This is a freebie from Remy at Emboiderbee's Primary Hive which you can find right here. The cat was charted as a tuxedo black and white cat, but I changed him to all-black to resemble my dear old cat, Shadow. I also added a little green bow around his neck and left out his mouth and nose--just couldn't get them to look right. He is stitched on 32 ct. Belfast flax linen with DMC 957, 986, 310, and white with DMC 3828 for his eyes. I thought this simple little design really looked sweet after I paired it with some green ric rak and the polka dot fabric. What do you think?

My Lizzie Kate finish is the March Stamp from the Flip-It series. I stitched the red-bearded leprechaun quite a few years ago, but it seems that 2012 is his lucky year because he finally escaped the "dark drawer of unfinished finishes." If I remember correctly, the fabric used was 28 ct. tea-dyed Monaco along with good old DMC threads. I really love how this flat finish turned out... I originally planned to put a little bow in the upper right corner to cover where the cording met, but I made a little yo-yo out of fabric and topped it with a wooden button instead. Cute!!

This small pillow is another freebie from Erica Michaels which can be found by clicking here. I stitched this over one on 28 ct. Country Mocha cashel linen with DMC threads. It is such a tiny piece (1 1/4 inches by 2 inches) that I decided a miniature pillow would be a perfect way to finish it off. I added a stitched purple flower to the piece in lieu of sewing on a button because I couldn't find one small enough. The bright green gingham fabric accented with a bit of ecru lace and purple and white buttons brought the whole thing together quite nicely, I think!

Finally, another freebie called Leprechaun Lodge compliments of Blue Ribbon Designs. This is one of those designs which I thought was "kind" of cute, but the more I stitched it, the more I began to love it! Do you ever have pieces like that? It is stitched with the suggested WDW and DMC threads on 32 ct. antique white Jobelan. For the finish, I backed it in the pretty dark green and gold floral fabric which you can see in my photo of "waiting to be finished" pieces above. I kept this finish quite simple, too--just applied some handmade green cording. And look at that precious embroidered St. Patrick's Day handkerchief it is sitting on--it even has crocheted shamrocks in the lace! My mom gave it to me--it was her mother's--so it is very special to me. Mom thought I would like some of gram's old seasonal handkerchiefs to use in my blog photographs...wasn't that sweet of her? My dear Grandma was born on the day after St. Patrick's Day--March 18th--way back in 1895, so what a perfect way to remember her at this time of year...

So, here are all five displayed in my bowl. Do you have a favorite? Now on to April stitching...spring, bunnies, and lots of pastels. I'm so looking forward to leafing through my stash and picking out some little charts for next month!

March Bowl of Green Finishes

A while ago, I lent my friend Cindy a couple of my older Prairie Schooler charts. What a surprise to find these goodies included with my charts when she returned them. The March LHN cottage with the threads to stitch it and an adorable hanger ornament complete with little charms stitched by Cindy had also made their way into her package! I really didn't expect anything in return--I'm happy to lend my charts to stitching friends, but your kindness certainly made me smile, Cindy... Thank you so very much!

A sure sign of spring around here is the annual return of our resident duck couple to our pond. I hope they have little ducklings like they did two years ago--remember this post?. I first noticed them a couple weeks ago which seems a bit early, but with the mild winter we just went through I guess that is to be expected. One morning last week, I looked out to see the always impressive Great Blue Heron wading in the pond and hunting for fish! Of course, I ran and grabbed my camera and here he is...Not the best shot since it is from my kitchen window almost 40 yards away, but at least you'll get an idea. Oh, they do love to "fish" in our pond, so we discourage them from an extended "visit." Luckily, they are quite skittish and even the slightest noise like opening a window tends to scare them away.
The return of the Great Blue Heron: March 2012

Look closely in the photo below and you can see both the mallard pair and the Great Blue Heron--isn't he huge?! Why is the male of the species (except in humans, of course!) always so much more attractive? That bright green iridescent head on the male mallard is gorgeous, isn't it? So far, we've had no blooming flowers like so many of you are showing on your blogs; I've been getting more and more discouraged by how much our deer population loves to feast on anything we plant. Makes it hardly worth the effort to plant anything new... And with a yard that is over an acre, fencing is out of the question--the deer just jump over the fences we already have in place! Do any of you have any "tried and true" deer resistant plant suggestions? We do have a fenced in vegetable garden, however the chipmunk population discovered a "secret entrance" into even that area last year and had a field day with the tomatoes! Despite the problems we have with our critters, I so love seeing the wildlife that our pond attracts. In most any season, it is a treat to look out from our kitchen window to see what new creature might be visiting...

The mallard couple and the Great Blue Heron
enjoy a warm and sunny March day

Well, I hope you're still with me after another long post! Thank you, thank you for all of your wonderful comments--you are the best group of friends, cheerleaders, supporters, blogging buddies--whatever you want to call yourselves! And I truly appreciate each of much. Enjoy your week and ♣♣♣ Happy St. Patrick's Day ♣♣♣ on Saturday! Bye for now...