Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Farewell to February

February draws to a close... the shortest month--and the warmest February I can remember in my 62 years! It was such a delight to experience what I can only describe as "end-of-April weather" last week... Temperatures reached the 60s and even the 70s with plentiful sunshine.  It sure has been easier to get through winter with a week like that thrown in the middle. And just think, in three short weeks, spring will be greeting us! This really has been "the winter that wasn't" for us folks in western Pennsylvania--barely any snow, much warmer temperatures than normal, and easy-to-drive-on roads with no ice to worry about. Hope I haven't just jinxed myself with those words...

A new start... I've finally stitched a bit more on the larger sampler that I mentioned earlier this year so I'd like to share it with you. "A Walk In the Woods" by The Cricket Collection, is about half-finished and I've loved every stitch. I've had this in my stash for a while (it is from 1988--the year my youngest son was born!) and I'm so glad I'm finally getting around to it. I fell in love with the violet border and the shades of blue in the design. I'm trying to work on this one in between smaller projects, so I hope to have it done by the end of March--we'll see! After I've finished the entire piece, I'll share a few close-up photos of some of the individual nature motifs. But, just in case you're wondering, that interesting creature between the G and the H is a snail! First time I've stitched a snail--that's for sure! 

"A Walk In the Woods"

February Ornament... And I've finished my second ornament of 2017... This Prairie Schooler Santa is from the "Kris Kringle" (Book No. 62) and is stitched on 40 ct. natural Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads. Isn't he a fancy fellow with his hat and blue robe embroidered with holly and berries? And those swans? Love them!  I just never tire of stitching PS Santas--love everything about these guys...

Prairie Schooler Santa in blue

To finish him off I used the oval shape that I've become so fond of. I trace the ovals from scrapbooking templates (similar to these).  Adding some handmade cording and a simple bow finishes him off quite nicely, don't you think? I'd like to stitch and finish all seven from this PS booklet in the same fashion--some day! For those of you wondering about finishing oval or round ornaments, here are two excellent tutorials: Pinwheel Ponders  and the wonderful Vonna, our very own Twisted Stitcher I actually lace my ornament on the back after I've gathered the edges as Pinwheel Ponder shows. Give it a try--I honestly find finishing oval or round ornaments to be the easiest of all!

Another PS Santa for my Christmas tree!

I've pulled the threads for another larger (to me, anyway) sampler--can you believe it? What is happening to me? Am I abandoning my smalls? No, just trying to branch out a bit and stop neglecting all of the beautiful charts that lie patiently waiting for me to pay them some attention. Hopefully, I'll have a bit done to share with you sometime soon!

New Giveway for a pretty chart. As I mentioned in my last post, I've been doing some housecleaning and going through old stitching magazines.  I'll be giving away one chart each time I post and this time it is for a lovely chart from Catherine Theron. I love the blue house in this one and think I'll be stitching it myself some day. If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage.

I'm giving away this old chart from a magazine

Giveway winner from last time... I had 8 people who entered to win the chart from my Valentine's Day giveaway post so I did a simple drawing to determine the winner. And the winner is... 

Susan, please send me your mailing address and I'll get this pretty chart off to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it... And for those of you who didn't win this time--please keep an eye on my blog for future chart giveaways...

Chart giveaway won by: Susan L.

For some reason, we've noticed fewer and fewer birds at our bird feeders this winter. I'm attributing it to the mild winter and the fact that, without much snow, the birds are having no problems fending for themselves. But, I looked out one day earlier this month to be greeted by this sight! Do you think the deer are scaring off the birds? I had to laugh when I saw him helping himself to the birdseed--I'd say it's time we raised the bird feeder a bit, wouldn't you?

"Hey! Save some for the birds!"

THANK YOU! I really appreciate all of your kind words about my "bad day" at work that I described in my last post. Working with the public is tough as you just never know who will walk through the door and what their request or complaint will involve.  But, 99% of my library patrons are wonderful. Just to give you an example, I had a very elderly man come in the other day who wanted to see a map of Spain because his granddaughter was living and studying there for the semester. He specifically wanted to find out the location of Grenada and I promptly pointed it out and told him I had visited that very locale in 2011. He was surprised and delighted to hear that, so I told him a bit about the ancient city, (which just happened to be my favorite Spanish stop on our trip). He continued to study the map a bit longer and before he left the library he stopped at my desk and said, "I can't tell you how much you just made my day!" No, sir--you made mine :) Kindness counts!

So, on to March--windy, wild March. But, who knows--this year we could see warmer and sunnier days. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!  Thanks so much for stopping by--I always enjoy reading your comments, my friends. Happy stitching! Bye for now...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February finishes

Happy Valentine's Day, my sweet friends!  Do you have any special plans for today? I have to work until 9 PM tonight so not much is happening here, but we tend to keep things simple on February 14th anyway--usually just a nice dinner at home and a sweet chocolatey dessert of some sort.

Can you believe February is already half over? I did manage to get a new little pillow stitched up for my Valentine's Day bowl of smalls and I think it's one of my favorite finishes ever. I forgot to take a "before" photo for you so here it is in its finished state. I recently began subscribing to the online version of Punch Needle & Primitive Stitcher Magazine and was delighted to discover that I have access to all of the charts from previous issues as well as this coming year! That's where I found this little beauty by Nikyscreations called "Be Mine."

Nikyscreations "Be Mine" finish

"Be Mine" is stitched on 32 ct. Putty Belfast linen with the suggested DMC colors. I did change the color of the lower right heart to match the upper one on the opposite side and used a satin stitch to fill in both.  I found a charm square of a marbled-looking fabric that perfectly complemented the thread colors so that was used as the little accent strip at the bottom as well as the backing of the pillow. The little heart charm was one I had in my stash and I thought it looked so sweet tied on with a wee bow in a bit of thread to match the cording. I think this color palette is a nice change from all the typical reds and pinks you usually associate with Valentine's Day, don't you?

Another gift sent... This green-robed Prairie Schooler Santa from Book No. 62 "Kris Kringle" is  now making his home with my sweet friend, Valerie, all the way out in California. I finished several of these Santas in this oval shape last year and have to admit, they are among my favorites! This bird-loving guy is stitched on 40 ct. natural Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads. I'm so pleased with this finish that I know I'll be stitching and finishing him exactly like this for myself in the future.

Kris Kringle Santa (from Book No. 62)

A near disaster... Well, that brings me to my ornament finish for January and a lesson I thought I had learned, but apparently hadn't! I loved this crow sporting his jaunty Santa hat the minute I saw him in the 2015 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue so I finally decided to stitch him as my first ornament of 2017. Using 40 ct. Sand Newcastle (a first for me--I loved it! The fabric's true sandy color is more accurate in the second photo below) and a variety of overdyed threads, he stitched up fairly easily (although I did make a few changes to the lettering--just a personal preference). I also added the two smaller snowflakes...

"Merry Christmas" by Samplers Not Forgotten

Anyway, it all began so well and I decided to use a black and white checked flannel (an old shirt from my husband--believe me, having had four guys in the house at one time, left me with a lot of flannel to add to my stash!). To this, I decided to add a thin burgundy colored strip of fabric and tuck a barely visible row of green ric rak in between the two fabrics. All went well and the little pillow was sewn and stuffed and ready to be pressed down to give it a nice compact look. I typically only use the iron on the backing fabric, but I stupidly tried to press the flannel portion on the front. Disaster struck! The iron accidentally touched the green ric rack, melted it and it somehow made it's way on to the linen just under the wording. AAAGGGGHHHH!!!

I flew into action and immediately tried to sponge off the sticky green remnants of the synthetic ric rak. Then I began picking it off with tweezers, which actually worked quite well. At this point, the ric rak that was peaking out from under the black and white checked fabric was half melted so my only choice was to cut it all off as best as I could. I then covered the entire area where the red and checked fabric met with a new line of ric rak which now meets in the back of the ornament. Not a bad save, eh? If you look closely, you'll notice flecks of barely visible green here and there, but I was not about to take apart the entire ornament and start over. If you recall, this wasn't the first time that my iron and ric rak have done battle... In this post from four years ago, you can see the results of a previous catastrophe. I hope I've learned my lesson, but I know I've learned that it almost always possible to rescue a piece from being thrown into the trashcan by using ribbons, trims, or buttons to cover your mistakes!

Saving a finish from near-disaster!

Another birthday gift... I want to thank my friend, Nathalie, all the way over in France for sending me a lovely package of goodies on my birthday. What a treat to receive this pretty French stitching magazine and  pretty embroidery kit with threads. Thank you, Nathalie--that was so thoughtful of you!

Birthday gifts from Nathalie

A little giveaway... I've been doing a lot of cleaning out as we are turning our sons' old bedrooms into proper guest rooms. After 25 years, all traces of the old green plaid wallpaper with its border of mallard ducks have been erased from my middle son's old bedroom. Oh, what a job! We had neglected to apply sizing underneath the wallpaper and it was a bear to remove, often coming off in only thin little strips. But, it is off and the room now has a fresh coat of a lovely pale gray/blue shade of paint thanks to my husband. Now to find a new bed (the bunk beds are out!!), dresser, chair and rug and we'll be all set for future visitors. Anyway, I had been storing my old cross stitch magazines in this room and so began weeding them out for duplicates and unwanted items. In the process, I came across several pretty charts that I thought one of you might like to stitch so I'll be offering one per post.

I thought this pretty chart would be perfect for a Valentine's Day giveaway and, as you can see, you can stitch just portions or the entire sampler... Just let me know in your comments if you'd like to give this a new home. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage.

I'm giving away this chart from an old magazine

On kindness... I had a really, really bad day at work last Tuesday. Problems with poor communication from another department that led me and other librarians to have to do many, many more hours of unnecessary  work on a project, a mean and condescending male patron doing his best to make me feel like an idiot, and way too many tax questions all rolled up into a gray and rainy day  left me feeling empty and defeated. But, at the end of that long day--a little ray of kindness offered itself up and saved the day from being totally bleak. A co-worker, one whom I work with every Tuesday, came up to me as we were getting ready to close for the night, and said she just wanted to thank me for always having her back, for always being there to help if problems arise. I wonder if she had any idea how much I needed her kind words at that time? 

It doesn't take much to make someone's day a little brighter... A simple compliment about a pretty outfit or a new haircut or a kind offer of help can go a long way and it makes such a difference. Even a simple smile given to a passing stranger... A dear, dear great-aunt of my husband's told me she always did her best to spread kind things she had heard about others and she was one of the most positive-minded individuals I've ever met. I strive to be more like her...

Thank you all for visiting! Thank you for all of your kind comments! Thank you for being such caring stitching friends! I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with at least one piece of chocolate... Spread kindness whenever possible--it does come back to you!  Bye for now...

Wishing you a day filled with love!