Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bluebird Out My Window

Happy last day of April! Can you believe 2017 is now one-third over? It's been such a lovely spring and, unfortunately, my lack of stitching reflects that. I've had a real case of "spring fever" and have been doing everything but stitching... And my finishing mojo? Oh, that is nowhere to be seen. I sure hope things return to normal soon, but with picking out plants (or should I say deer food) for our gardens, doing lots of organizing and spring cleaning at home, and planning for my mom's 90th birthday party (which will be taking place in just two short weeks), the minutes to sit and stitch have been few and far between...

I do have one finish that was done in April (along with more stitching on "A Walk In the Woods" which, sadly, did not get completed by month's end as I had hoped). This sweet design is called "Bluebird Out My Window" by With Thy Needle and Thread. It took a surprisingly long time to finish and, to be completely honest, I just didn't enjoy the fabric (40 ct. wren Newcastle linen) at all. I doubt I'll use it for other finishes. It was just a bit too mottled for my liking.   I used most of the suggested overdyeds, but substituted a few of my own choices.

"Bluebird Out My Window" by With Thy Needle & Thread

Here are a couple of close-ups for you. The colors in the photo below are a bit more "true to life." The one above looks much brighter on my computer than it really is... As I'm looking at these photos, I'm wondering if the bird needs an eye? Perhaps a black stitched eye or a bead? What do you think? It wasn't charted, but he looks rather unfinished to me...

Such a sweet bird!

I'm going to be framing this one as it will fit perfectly in a 4" X 6" frame. Yay! Love it when that happens. And it is small enough that I can handle the framing by myself. I do love that bluebird, but you know what--I have never seen one in real-life! How many of you have them in your yards? Do you have special bluebird houses for them?

Should I add an "eye?"

I'm behind on my monthly Christmas ornament finishing--have done the stitching for March and April, but have only finished the one for March. I forgot to take a photo of the April ornament, but for March, I did a little PS design from "Button Up" (Book No. 143). You all know how much I love cardinals and I couldn't resist this little guy.

Prairie Schooler "Button Up" cardinal

I finished my little cardinal into a flat ornament (just applied green felt on the back).  It is stitched on 40 ct. gray Newcastle so it's quite small. I think the wider border will help it show up on the tree!

This one is finished in the same manner as a Random Act of Kindness which I sent to April in Virginia last year. I don't think I've shared this finish with you, but here it is... better late than never: a simple flat finish with a wide gingham border, green cording, and a coordinating plaid hanger.   This design is from the same PS booklet as the cardinal above...

RAK for April in Virginia last December

Speaking of gifts, I had two wonderful gifts from stitching friends in Europe who thought of me at Easter time.  From Gabi in Germany came this cute bunny (everyone knows I love my bunnies!)... Thanks so very much, Gabi--I'll think of you each time I put him out in the spring...

Easter gift from Gabi in Germany

And from my friend, Nathalie, in France came another bunch of bunny love along with some Easter napkins and spring-colored ribbons. Thanks so much, Nathalie--you are so sweet to think of me!

Easter gifts from Nathalie in France

Easter was a bit sad for us this year as it was the first big holiday in 35 years--since we became parents--that not a single one of our sons was here for dinner. We really didn't know what to do--we just kind of sat there and tried not to be sad... but it was hard. In an effort to cheer up the day just a bit, I did make this delicious carrot cake roll for our dessert. I was so worried that it wouldn't turn out, but it was wonderful.  Ali, from the blog "Gimme Some Oven" did a wonderful job in explaining everything and it couldn't have been easier. The result was a nice looking dessert that came together very simply! Ali is the daughter of the Lizzie Kate designer--such a talented family! If you're interested, the recipe can be found right here.

A tasty carrot cake roll for Easter dessert

This has to be the most beautiful spring in years here in western Pennsylvania! A real spring --cool and sunny with just the right amount of rain. Usually we jump right from winter weather straight into summer heat and humidity, but not this year. Most of our flowering trees are gone by now, but over the past few weeks, every time I looked out a window, I spotted bright pinks, purples, and whites in each corner of our yard. Below you can see the white dogwoods, the pink mini-rhododendrons, the white crabapple, and the purplish pink lilacs. Oh, if only they would last just a bit longer!

Lovely spring blooms in every corner!

Giveaway winner... The winner of my giveaway from my last post for this sweet Homespun Elegance chart is:  

ROBIN (from Virginia)

Giveaway winner:  Robin (in Virginia)

Congratulations, Robin! I hope you enjoy the chart! I can see little bits and pieces of it being made into small cushions, can't you? I'll get it off to you sometime this week...

Sewing Machine news... Well, so, so many of you suggested that I have my old machine serviced, cleaned, and oiled before I invested in a new machine that that is exactly what I've decided to do! I truly appreciate all of your advice about what to buy, what you like, etc. That is a tremendous help and, if I do have to buy a new machine, you can be sure that I'll be taking your advice to heart. There is a Mennonite man up near my mom in New York who comes highly recommended, so I plan on taking my sewing machine up there some time this summer. Hopefully, he'll be able to get it running like new again!

And that's about it for today--my husband is on a long bike ride so I decided to sit down and get one last post in before the end of April. Thank you so much for stopping by and thank you, especially, to those of you who take the time to leave a comment or send an email. I appreciate each and every one so very much! Wishing you a wonderful month ahead... Bye for now...

Enjoy the merry, merry month of May!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thank yous and spring stitches

It's April! March zoomed by with just a single blog post from me--how did that happen? I try to post twice a month, but other things took precedence last month... More working hours on weekends, a long-overdue trip to New York to spend five days with my mom, a wonderful week-long visit from my oldest son. But, I have been stitching! Before I show you what I've been up to, I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" to each of you who commented on my last post or emailed me to congratulate me on the British Craft Award win. I couldn't be prouder to be a member of such a supportive community of needleworkers--we all celebrate each other's success whether it be for a new start, an amazing finish, or an unexpected honor! Thank you again, my friends--your kindness means so very much to me...

So, do you remember that sweet Prairie Schooler bunny stitched on black that I showed you in my March post? Well, he's all finished up and, I must say, I'm very proud of this one!! I made him into a little hanging pouch, filled it with some dried baby's breath, and hung it on the wooden knob of my corner cupboard. Oh, my--it just makes me smile every time I see it!! The bag is very small (just 3 1/2 inches from bottom to top (not  counting the hanger)--just my style.

Prairie Schooler bunny pouch

The back of the little pouch is a fun black and white polka-dot fabric and the gingham trim and hanger are cut from an old pair of slacks.  It took me an entire afternoon to figure out how to make this as I had never done anything like it before. It's not perfect (as I couldn't figure out how to line it), but it looks pretty darn good for my first attempt at sewing curves, don't you think? My ancient 40-year-old sewing machine rebelled, though, and it was all I could do to coax it to do "just a few more stitches, please!"

Love, love, love this little finish!

This next finish is one of the monochromatic designs from Little House Needleworks--Spring. I had the hardest time photographing it as it was a gray, dreary day when I took the photo. It is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. ivory evenweave so the finished size is just a bit over 3 inches square. 

Little House Needleworks Spring

For this piece, I worked backward and chose the floss color based on this pretty spring green piece of gingham I wanted to use (the gingham came from an old shirt of my husband's!). After auditioning all shades of green, the one that popped to the front was Anchor 214. Where I got this skein of Anchor thread, I have no clue as I only purchase DMC or overdyeds. It must have been a gift at some time or other. But, it worked perfectly for the fabric I had chosen! Here it is all finished up as a flat finish (the backing is simply covered with some ivory felt). I found a perfectly colored button and some green ric rak to jazz it up a bit. I'm very pleased with the final outcome...

A spring green finish

Here is another view straight on--I had a bit of trouble getting this one to photograph well. 

Little House Needleworks Spring--all finished up!

And my "A Walk In the Woods" sampler is inching along as well... I've added another line of letters and that gorgeous nest (which caused much anxiety as I kept having to rip out wrongly placed stitches time after time!). But, isn't it pretty with the lone egg resting there? My goal is to have this one finished by the end of April--fingers crossed!

It's growing!

Our spring weather here in Western Pennsylvania has been less than ideal. I think because our winter was so easy this year, we all hoped for a warm, sunny, early spring! But, that hasn't been the case... There has been lots and lots of clouds and rain. Luckily, all I have to do to get my daily dose of sunshine is to look over at my "yellow" shelf in my corner cupboard. I dare you not to smile when you glance at it--just look at all of the cute bunnies, chicks, and sunny colors. I love it! When I posted this photo on my Instagram page, there were a lot of comments about that little polka-dot bowl. I had just purchased that (as a set of three!) for a mere $7.99 at Homegoods. The other two are white with yellow dots and yellow with white stripes--so cute for spring decorating!

My cheery yellow corner shelf

March was my month to take in the treat for our department meeting at the library, so I spent a few hours in the kitchen making this plate of goodies. As you know, I love to bake, but with my three sons all grown and out of the house, I just can't bake as much as I used to when there were five of us living here. So, it was a real treat to put together this tray of Chunky Cheesecake Brownies and Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies for my very appreciative  coworkers. You can try baking some for yourself by clicking on the names of the goodies--I've linked to the recipes for you! Yum!!

Chocolate overload!

I really appreciate all of your thoughts on when to retire from my last post. I've pretty much decided that the end of 2018 will be it for me--right before I turn 64. But, there is a new bump in the road! My "new" boss who has been here all of one year, will be leaving at the end of this month... What a shock! Now we all have to adjust once again to a new manager and new ways of doing things. I'm getting too old for this! So, who knows... we'll see what transpires this year!

More advice needed... As I mentioned above, my old sewing machine (which was gifted to me by my parents as a college graduation gift 40 years ago!) is giving up the ghost. I have thought about purchasing a new machine, but the choice just seems overwhelming! There are so many bells and whistles now--do I really need them? On the other hand, I do hope to be sewing more in the future after retirement so I want more than a basic machine. Do any of you have advice for me? Any thoughts would be much appreciated!!

New Giveaway for this pretty chart... I have a lovely little Homespun Elegance chart which needs a new home. "Be Ye Kind & True" is from the May/June 1992 issue of "Cross Stitch and Country Crafts" magazine. An oldie, but goodie! 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 chart from an old magazine

GIVEAWAY WINNER from my last post... There were ten entries to win the Nora Corbett chart called "Gathering Eggs," so I did a simple drawing and the winner is:

Congratulations to Jo! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this pretty chart off to you as soon as possible (although since Jo lives in England, it may take longer than normal!). 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 Jo
I hope some nice, sunny spring weather is finally here by the next time I post! Thanks so very much for visiting me today; it's always a pleasure to read your comments and emails...  Wishing you a lovely week ahead with lots of stitching time! Bye for now...