Hello, everyone! And here we are at the end of January--can you believe it? I hope the first month of 2017 has treated you well? In the middle of the month, I hit another milestone--I turned 62. Age 62, here in the U.S., means you are eligible for Social Security benefits. But, of course, I'll be waiting to claim them as the amount you receive increases each year until you hit 70. I doubt if I'll wait that long, though... still have to figure out this "new chapter in my life!"
And there was another birthday this month--my blog turned eight years old on January 24th! During that first year of blogging, way back in 2009, my goal was to stitch an ornament (or small design) each week for the entire year--and I did it. Thus began my love of ornaments! Back then, though, I wasn't doing much finishing--and the finishing I was doing didn't look that great. Time and practice have improved my ornament finishing greatly! I've learned to enjoy the finishing process much more than I ever dreamed I would--and I'm so thankful to all of you fellow cross stitchers who have provided inspiration, photos, and tutorials!
So, on to the ornaments that I sent to my international friends for Christmas... Most of you will recognize this first one as a Prairie Schooler. This went to my dear, long-time blogging friend, Lois in Northern Ireland, who shares a love of Prairie Schooler designs with me. This chart can be found in PS Book No. 190 "Happy Christmas" and is stitched on black 32 ct. Belfast linen with the suggested DMC threads. I did change the color of his boots, gloves, and the door to DMC 844, however. I love this finish so much with it's cheery checked fabric and little red jingle bells hanging from the cording--I know I'll be stitching it again for myself.
|Prairie Schooler "Happy Christmas" finish
Another PS Santa found a new home all the way over in Austria with my lovely friend, Hilda. I'm sure he is very happy with his new life surrounded by those snowy mountains near Hilda's beautiful home. The Prairie Schooler Book No. 80, "Old World Santas," is where this chart can be found. I changed the red to DMC 221 (as I often do with PS charts that call for red) and used a 40 ct. flax Newcastle with some handmade cording and a simple bow. I don't think you can see it in my photo, but I applied teeny Swarovski crystals here and there to look like snow. Another one that I "must-stitch" for myself!
|Prairie Schooler "Old World Santas" finish
My sweet friend, Gabi (no blog), in Germany was the recipient of this "Be Merry" ornament. I'm sure you all recognize this as one of the delightful chalkboard ornaments from Hands On Designs "Christmas Collection: Part I." I love these little designs so much--what I didn't love was the fabric suggested on the chart. It is designed to look like a dusty chalkboard, which is great, but it was way too soft and "flopsy" for me--I prefer stitching on a stiffer fabric with more body. I doubt that I'll be using it again... I think I'll be trying a simple black Belfast or 28 ct. Monaco for future chalkboard ornaments. I used the suggested overdyeds, but think I will just use good old DMC in the future as the variegation didn't show up enough to warrent the cost of the overdyed threads.
|Hands On Design "Chalkboard Christmas" finish
And, surprisingly, I stitched three of the same ornament--I enjoyed it that much!! One of these little cuties was sent to my sweet friend, Cindy, here in the U.S., another went to dear June, in England, and the third, also sent to England, appears to have gone into hiding somewhere across the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly, it never arrived. Sigh... That is the first time in all the years I have done exchanges, that something not arrived at its destination. Guess I will just have to stitch another! Anyway, the chart for this Little House Needleworks cutie can be found in the 2014 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue. I used 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle and a combination of overdyeds and DMC for this one and this is another I plan on stitching for myself (some day!).
|Little House Needleworks "Snowy Day" finishes
There are a few more gifts that I also sent, but I will wait for the next post! Whew--I was very busy at Christmas time, as you can tell!
Ch-ch-ch-changes in exchanges... After many years of doing many birthday exchanges, I have decided to stop participating in them this year. I emailed those I regularly exchange with and explained to them that I could no longer keep up with everyone and the deadlines were causing me a lot of stress. And that is not what stitching should be about, is it? (I do hope to continue the Christmas exchanges, for now). But, a few stitchers snuck in little birthday gifts for me anyway, which I want to acknowledge...
June included the sweet January Calendar girl chart in with her birthday card:
|Birthday gift from June
Cindy included a cute Lizzie Kate chart in her card:
|Birthday gift from Cindy
And, Christina, sent me some darling fabrics (aren't the little houses sweet?), a new magazine, and a little gift tag-making kit.
|Birthday gifts from Christina
So sweet of all of you--I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness! My birthday was quiet this year as it also fell on the Monday that Martin Luther King's birthday was celebrated so there was no postal service and it was a federal holiday here in the U.S. Unfortunately, my library doesn't observe many of the federal holidays so I still had to work. The day before my birthday, my middle son and his girlfriend had me over for a wonderful dinner, cake, and flowers so that made the day very special...
I wanted to share a photo that I posted on Instagram last week... I mentioned that the only snow we'd been having in January was in the form of the "snow" in my little stitched pillows! We actually did get a couple of inches this weekend, though, which has brightened up the outdoors. I'll be replacing these snowy finishes with something more appropriate for Valentine's Day very soon, but I'll miss them--they certainly have brightened up the corner of my kitchen during an extremely grey and rainy month. I don't know about you, but I'm very happy to be rounding the corner to February!
|Snowy finishes in my corner cupboard
A bit nostalgic... When I realized that my blog's birthday was January 24th, I began looking through my posts from 2009 and getting a bit nostalgic. So, so many of my old friends from those early years are no longer blogging or have stopped stitching altogether. They've moved on to Facebook, Instagram, or different creative outlets. Or have simply disappeared... I suppose it is like anything--people move on to newer, more innovative things... Old fashioned records were replaced by 8-track tapes, then cassettes, then CDs and so on. But, then records kind of reinvented themselves as "vinyl." Will that happen with blogs? Do you suppose people will miss the more personal contacts that this media offers, and return? I do worry about the future of blogs... I have to admit, I love the quick and easy posting format on my Instagram account, but I so treasure the friendships that I have formed through blogging.
Anyway, I'm ever so thankful for those of you who continue to read "Stitching Dreams!" Your comments and emails and supportive friendships are always appreciated... Wishing you a very Happy February! Bye for now...