Good afternoon and how are my stitching friends today? We are in the middle of another very cold spell here in western Pennsylvania, but, for the most part, I can't complain about this winter. My poor sister lives in Boston and they've recently been slammed with over six feet of snow. I can't even imagine how the city is functioning! How are things in your "neck of the woods" (as Al Roker would say!)?
Thank you for all of your wonderful comments on my last post--I'm so glad some of you were able to glean a few helpful hints from my finishing tips. None of them are unique to me--I just wanted to pass on what has helped me improve in my finishing over the years. I received so many nice emails, too, from fellow stitchers thanking me for the time I put into writing, staging, and photographing the things I put on each blog post. Do you know how much those emails meant to me? I even received the most lovely birthday gift from a complete stranger--now a friend. Someone who read my blog and wanted to thank me for the inspiration and time I took to post my finishes and stories. I'll show you that very special gift later in the post.
For now, I have my January and February ornaments to share with you. Although it may look like I'm stitching all Prairie Schooler designs this year, that's not the case (at least I don't think it will be!). For my January ornament, I actually stitched the same design that I gave my friend, Cindy, for Christmas. I loved it so much, I just had to make another one for myself. This is from Book No. 51 "Christmas Past," and is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco.
|Prairie Schooler Santa from "Christmas Past"
My February ornament is also a Prairie Schooler design, but it is just a small portion of the sampler in Book No. 133 "Winter Wind." Stitched on gray 40ct. Newcastle linen with the suggested DMC threads, I simply used the top quarter of the chart and added red beads instead of stitching the blue "berries" that were charted as part of the design.
|Prairie Schooler "Winter Wind" motif
Here is a close-up so you can get a better look at the beads:
I am so happy with how both of my first 2015 ornaments turned out, but the second one will always have special meaning for me. Do you know why? Take a look at that cardinal perched at the tip-top of the pine tree. Do you remember me showing you these photos of that bright red cardinal in this post? Well, what I didn't mention anywhere in that post was the tremendous sense of peace I felt as the cardinal and I gazed at each other as I stood in my upstairs window. He just sat there for the longest time--even while I ran downstairs to grab my camera. I couldn't explain the feeling; I just knew I felt safe and loved and less sad than I had been since my Dad died on October 31st, 2014.
|That special cardinal...
The day after that post, I received an email from blogging friend, Frances, with the following words that she had found online:
"A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed.
When you see one, it means they are visiting you.
They usually show up when you most need them or miss them.
They also make an appearance during times of celebration
as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you.
Look for them, they'll appear."
When Frances sent me those words, she had no idea that I felt Dad's presence when I spied that cardinal; as I said, I hadn't mentioned it on that blog post. I had never heard anything about cardinals representing loved ones, but that day--and ever since--I have been more at peace with Dad's passing. And for that reason, my February stitched ornament with the cardinal atop the pine tree will forever remind me of him... I check that same grove of pine trees regularly for any sign of the cardinal, but I haven't seen him again. That's okay--he was there when I needed him most! Thanks, Dad!
Gifts stitched and sent... I also stitched a couple of gifts for friends in Wisconsin and California. To Tricia, I sent this cute "Winter" freebie pillow (available here) as a thank-you gift for a chart she let me borrow. I stitched the scene on 32 ct. slate blue linen using DMC threads 729, 869, 924, 3776, 498, 3865, and 3371. I changed the "T" to resemble a broom and used DMC 729 for that portion. I also eliminated the second row of snowflakes that was charted under "Winter" to make it small enough for a pillow finish. Tricia seemed to like it and I'm so pleased!
|Glory Bee "Winter" freebie
And, to my friend, Valerie, out in San Francisco went a VERY belated birthday present. A witch in February?? Well, Valerie's birthday is actually in October so I had it all stitched up back then, and then Dad passed away and I just didn't get it finished until late January. So, Valerie got a little Valentine's witch which she seems to love. This is an older Mary Garry pattern (from the "Seasonal Mementos" booklet) that I had also stitched for myself back in this post on a different linen. I stitched Valerie's version on 40 ct. raw Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads and finished it into a little pillow that she can sit on a shelf or place in a basket.
|Mary Garry "Seasonal Mementos" witch
Prairie Schooler Santa Sundays SAL update: I am doing a PS Santa SAL with my friends, Melissa and Hilda each Sunday. Our goal is to stitch one Prairie Schooler Santa of our choosing each month (we began in February) and we hope that by stitching together this will inspire us to follow through on our goals... I've chosen one of the blue Santas from the "Old World Santas II" (Book No. 88) to stitch for February and here is my progress after two Sundays. I've made some changes (of course) which I'll tell you about when I show the final finish... I love knowing that a Canadian stitching friend and an Austrian stitching friend are stitching right along with me each Sunday!
|PS Santa Sundays SAL progress
A Special Belated Birthday Gift... Now for that oh-so-special gift which a blog reader sent me for my mid-January 60th birthday. I received the sweetest email from April in Virginia (no blog), telling me how much she liked reading my blog and how she appreciated all the time it took me to pull together a blog post and what inspiration she had received from Stitching Dreams. She then mentioned that she had made me a gift and asked for my address. Well, just look at what arrived in mailbox on Monday...
I should have known just from the beautifully wrapped presentation that the contents would be so special... I am, I'll admit it--just terrible at wrapping gifts! So, I truly appreciate those of you who can do something like this. Notice the flower adorning the top all made of pretty blue ric rak with felt leaves. Simply lovely!
And then when I opened up the box, I gasped--literally gasped--when I spotted what she had made for me! A punchneedle bunny--isn't he adorable? He is so perfect for bunny-loving me and April's work is fabulous. I have never had a piece of punchneedle before and every time I walk by this bunny in his charming frame, he just makes me smile :) She also included a cake of soap that smells just like baby powder. Is there a sweeter, more sentimental scent in the world?
|Birthday gifts from April M.
Here is a close-up of April's gift... Thank you, my new friend, I was truly touched by your kind and thoughtful gift... It will be treasured, I promise you!
|Punchneedle bunny from April M.
We were invited to a Super Bowl party earlier this month and were asked to bring a vegetable or fruit. Hmmm... for you long time readers of my blog, you know vegetables and I are NOT on good terms--especially green vegetables. I've never liked them, and at 60 years old, I doubt that will change. So, I went with fruit and whipped up these cute rainbow colored fruit kebabs. They were a hit!! Such a nice treat in the middle of winter. (Just watch yourself when spearing the fruit--I drew blood at one point when the pointed end plunged into my hand!).
|A rainbow in mid-winter!
So, that's it for me today. I did no Valentine's Day stitching this year, which is unusual, but I've so enjoyed seeing all of your "love-themed" finishes. I do want to share with you a short video which you've probably seen, but it's just captured my heart and I think it's perfect for Valentine's Day. We are all different, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends! I hope this makes you smile :)
Thank you for reading, for your sweet comments and emails, and for your friendship! Bye for now...
Happy Valentine's Day!