Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Stitching on black and cruising down the Danube (Part 4)

Well, I made it--I managed to squeeze in one lonely post for October! To be honest, I haven't had a lot of free time this month, but I pushed through and am making myself sit down, organize my photos, write the post, and, hopefully, press the "publish" button as soon as I'm through with what will surely be a very lengthy missive...

I've missed you this month and I'm way behind on leaving blogging comments and answering emails. I do hope to catch up this week, though, so if I haven't visited your blog in a while--I'll be stopping in to say "hello" very soon. The little stitching I've done this month seems to be on black. I know a lot of you struggle with black fabric and I do, too, at times. For some reason I have an easier time stitching "over one" on black Monaco (which unfortunately is not produced any more--I just happen to have a yard of it that I purchased years ago) than I do "over two" on 32 ct. black linen. I try to stitch on black only in the daylight with a white cloth on my lap to make the holes show up better. Some people use a lightbox underneath, too. If you haven't stitched on black--try a small project at first. You never know--you may become hooked like I have!

Have you changed your mind through the years when it comes to what stitching patterns you like? In this case, I think my tastes have simply matured. When the Prairie Schooler chart called "Angels" (Book No. 42) first came out in 1993, I wasn't attracted to it all (and that is highly unusual for me considering it was a Prarie Schooler design!). But, I recently saw it come up for auction on eBay (for $6.00!) and thought that I might as well add it to my collection. When it arrived, I saw the beauty in these angels--in fact, the whole time I was stitching her, I kept saying to the little yellow angel,  "You are SO beautiful!" (Yes, I talk to my stitching sometimes--how about you?).

Prairie Schooler Angel finish

This is stitched over one on 28 ct. black Monaco with the suggested DMC colors. The only change I made was to her face. I wanted it to have a more delicate look than the original (which you can see by clicking here) so I eliminated some of the black lines and the heavy eyebrows. I stitched the lines representing her nose, mouth, and eyes with more delicate black sewing thread rather than DMC, too, since it is so small (the stitched area is a mere 2​¾" by 1¾") .  Because I wanted the beauty of the angel to shine, I kept the finish fairly simple and added only some handmade cording and a soft yellow bow. I am thrilled to finally have my ornament for August all finished up! Hopefully, I can finish my September, October, and November ornaments by the next post!

Isn't she pretty!?

My next black fabric finish is a freebie from the DMC website which you can find right here. It is a lovely design called "Flowers Bees Love" by Cathy Eliot and is stitched "over two" on 32 ct. black Belfast linen. The bee's wings on the original chart were only done in outline so I created the little pattern of  "veins" to make them look more realistic. What do you think? I just love the colors in this piece--several of the newer DMC colors were called for and they are so pretty!

A freebie bee design from DMC

I'll admit it--this was a tough one to stitch! The long-stitched flowers gave me fits until I realized that no one would know if they were stitched perfectly or not... so, I just did the best I could and I'm very pleased with the final result. I added some cording in the light gold color of the bee and topped it with a simple jute ribbon. The photo below was taken in early October when I still had some color in my garden and I thought the purple and white flowers were perfect to showcase my finish!

"Flowers Bees Love" uses several of the newer DMC colors

My final piece of black stitching is one you've seen before because I've stitched it for my own Christmas tree and for several friends. This one, when fully finished, will be going to another friend. It is from Prairie Schooler's Book No. 51 "Christmas Past," and is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco using DMC threads. I plan on finishing this one up soon and will pop it in the mail to an unsuspecting friend. Hope she likes it!

I think this may be at least the fourth time I've stitched this Prairie Schooler Santa!

In one last piece of stitching, I have a change to share with you. Do you remember the way I rearranged the placement of the words on "Miss Bingley's Library" in my previous post? Well, several of the comments on Instagram indicated that they mis-read it as "sexcellant" rather than "excellent" due to the way I had made the stem and leaves curve on the left side. OH MY!! I do not think dear Miss Bingley would approve, do you? After that idea was put in my head, I couldn't "unsee it," so I re-stitched the leaves and this is how it's looking now... Hopefully, this is the final rendition!

A bit of a revision to the leaves and stem for a final finish!

October brought several surprises to my mailbox at just the right moments. Three sweet stitching friends surprised me with little gifts that certainly brightened a difficult month. The first one came from a stitching friend who wishes to remain anonymous, but it is one of the most special gifts I've ever received. Just look at this personalized notebook she sent me! My blog name is beautifully inscribed on the front--even using the exact font "Papyrus" that I use in my header (the font my sons always make fun of me for using--not sure why!). And on the inside, is my name and a little notepad for keeping all of my stitchy notes in one place. I just love it (along with the chocolate and tiny scissors that she included). She wrote that she wanted to thank me for all the time and effort I put into my blog and for the inspiration I provided--not only the stitching, but also through my words. My friend, I was extremely touched by your gifts and thoughtful card. Thank you so very much!

A personalized stitching notebook, chocolate, and scissors from one of my sweet blog readers

This little notebook will come in so handy in keeping track of my stitching notes. My full name is inscribed on the inside, too!

When I was up in New York visiting my mom last week, this wonderful package arrived from sweet Stasi at Bee-mused and Bee-stitching blog. If you aren't familiar with Stasi's blog, please pay her a visit. She has stitched and finished the most amazing collection of smalls I've ever seen! I had admired her teeny-tiny Halloween finishes done on ribbon, which you can see in this post, and she sent me not only the chart, but some of the ribbon to stitch these miniatures on. Stasi, you know how much I love tiny things and, when I get back into Halloween stitching, these will be first on my list. Thank you so very much, my friend!

A darling Halloween chart and the 40 ct. ribbon to stitch the little cuties on from dear Stasi!

And last, but not least, one of my sweet Instagram friends, Claire, from one of my "must-travel-to" spots, British Columbia, Canada, sent me the cutest charms and some lovely seam binding ribbon to use in my "beautiful finishes" (her words!). Just look at the variety of tiny charms--hearts, snowmen, bunnies, reindeer, angels, sewing notions--why there is even a bicycle there! I think I'll have to stitch something bicycle-themed for my husband... I've so enjoyed getting to know Claire through Instagram and if you'd like to follow her and enjoy her beautiful work, just go here. Thank you so very much, my dear friend--you really made me smile! Instagram is a wonderful way to discover new stitching friends and see beautiful work from all over the world. I'd love to have you follow me--just click here!

Finishing ribbons and a variety of charms to make my finishes pretty from dear Claire!

A few more stitching goodies found a new home with me this month, too, because--guess what? I got to visit a real live cross stitch store! Oh, it was like heaven as we have nothing in this part of Pennsylvania and to see and touch charts and fabrics and threads in person is such a rare experience. I hope those of you who have a local needlework store appreciate it and support it? I loved the visit two stitching friends and I made to The Crafty Ewe in Broadview Heights, Ohio. It was almost a two-hour drive for me, but well-worth the trip! Here are just a few of the items that snuck into my shopping bag that day... 

Some new stash from my visit to The Crafty Ewe in Ohio

The photos below show just a fraction of the lovely models and goods on display at The Crafty Ewe... And the ladies working there couldn't have been nicer.  I know I'll be taking another roadtrip to Ohio!

It was SUCH fun being in an honest-to-goodness real-life stitching shop!

A sad farewell... Many of you remember our friend Liz at Sunflower Fields Pattern Co. blog. Liz was a wool artist, quilter, cross stitcher, author, and a generous friend. Sadly, her daughter posted on Instagram that Liz succumbed to a fast-moving liver cancer and passed away on October 21, 2019. We had exchanged Christmas ornaments just last year and I'm so grateful to have a little piece stitched and finished by her hands to place on my tree. I told her daughter it will have a place of honor each Christmas. Although I never met her, I'm sure we would have been true friends in real life. I'll miss you, Liz--thank you for all your inspiration and your online chats and emails. And thank you for making this world a happier and more colorful place with your beautiful designs. May you rest in peace...

The ornament dear Liz set me last Christmas will have a place of honor on my tree for years to come.

So, that wraps up the stitching portion of this post... I know many of you will be leaving me here, so thank you very much for visiting me today. For those of you who are going on the Danube River Cruise with me--let's set sail... If you are interested in reading the first three parts of the cruise, please click here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

The Danube River Cruise resumes... When we last got together, we were in Austria and today I have two new Austrian destinations to share with you: a small village and a big city--guess which one I preferred?

 Dürnstein, Austria

Dürnstein is a small medieval town, but is one of the most visited in the Wachau Valley region. It is known for apricot products of all kinds--there are entire stores that sell only apricot related items: candles, jams, candy, lotions, and even wines. We picked up some apricot candy, schnapps, and jam to take home for gifts.

The beautiful blue and white baroque belltower of the Dürnstein Abbey is a prominent landmark on the Danube River. In the distance, high on the hill, lie the ruins of  Dürnstein Castle built in the early 12th century. It is best known for being the prison of King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart)  of England who was captured while returning from the Third Crusade in the year 1192.

Although we didn't go into the iconic blue tower, it is possible to tour the abbey for a small price. As you can see, the clouds lifted from the time of our arrival and we enjoyed a thoroughly delightful afternoon exploring this quaint town.

By late afternoon, the crowds had dispersed and we enjoyed wandering around the cobblestone streets, admiring all the nooks and crannies of Dürnstein.

Lots of yellow houses, fabulous flower boxes, and charming curved streets--I think I could live here!

This was my favorite view of the Danube from Dürnstein.

I've always loved cemeteries (at least by daylight!) and I find those in Germany and Austria to be especially enchanting. 

I love the way the flowers are planted in square beds at the foot of each gravestone--all so perfectly tended to!

Such a peaceful spot for your final rest...

My husband and I were the only two exploring the graveyard that day making for a very peaceful visit. The crumbling remains of the Kunigunde Church sit quietly watching over the flower-covered graves.

Look if you dare! Yes, these are human bones... In this graveyard, the graves are not purchased, but rented for ten years. Then the skeleton bones are exhumed, cleaned, and placed in this "bone room."  Glad we weren't visiting at night--it was quite an eerie sight!

After quite a bit of walking on a 90° day, we decided to stop in at a beautiful little cafe called Kuenringerhof. With its lovely lace curtains and views of green grapes growing on vines outside the windows, it was perfectly charming!

While at the cafe, we enjoyed a tasty apricot strudel topped with vanilla ice cream.

At the end of a relaxing afternoon in Dürnstein, my husband descends the steep hill back to our riverboat. Time to go to our next destination!

Surprisingly, the next stop on our journey was one of my least favorite cities. I can't explain it--there was a lot of beauty there, but it just didn't touch me in a personal way... If we had had more time there, it might have, but I guess I am just a small town girl at heart:

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the largest city and capital of Austria. With it's worldwide reputation for being a center of art, music, and fine culture--it is known for having one of the highest qualities of living in the world.

We began our tour of Vienna at the Volksgarten, a public park which is part of the Hofburg Palace.

Being centrally located in Europe, Vienna has quite a mixture of architectural styles.

Intricately carved statues and stonework abound.

I thought this scene of the filigree ironwork arching over the horse-drawn carts was so pretty.

This is the Spanish Riding School where the famous Lipizzaner stallions are trained. Unfortunately, each July and August they are taken to their summer stables in rural Austria so we saw no horses the day we visited.

One of the delightful flower markets!

One of the most iconic structures in Vienna is the Gothic St. Stephen's Cathedral, more commonly known as Stephansdom. It is the most important religious building in Vienna.

Just look at that gorgeous ornately patterned roof! It is made up of 230,00 colored tiles and is so steep that it is rarely covered in snow.

Inside St. Stephen's Cathedral

Of all the places on our trip, this was the one I was most looking forward to visiting: Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Hapsburgs. With over 1400 rooms, it is considered Austria's premier tourist attraction. I still remember the photos my parents shared of it when they traveled there in the late 1960s.  Sadly, on the day we went, it was unbearably hot and crowded as we passed through the rooms making the whole experience quite miserable. No photos were allowed inside so my aging brain remembers little of what I saw.

There were some beautiful gardens at the palace as well, but sadly, our time was very limited by the river cruise company--we only had an hour or so to explore and we needed much longer. Overall, the visit was a disappointment--but one I blame on lack of time and planning on the part of the cruise line rather than the palace itself.

Well, that does it for the fourth installment--only two cities to visit and then we fly home. Can anyone guess where we are headed next?

I'll leave you with some of the beautiful images of fall that I spotted while out for a walk at my mother's senior living community in upstate New York.  The colors weren't the best this year due to a hot, dry spell this summer and fall, but they were still quite pretty... I even ran across a large (to me!) snake sunning himself on the sidewalk. Of course, I backed away slowly (after screaming in alarm as I almost stepped on him!).  That pretty gazebo and little footbridge are on the walking path that surrounds my mom's place and in the background you can see the senior living community itself. It's such a pretty setting overlooking one of New York's beautiful Finger Lakes.

Fall in upstate New York

Once again, I did no Halloween stitching this year. My dad died five years ago on Halloween morning and I haven't felt the same about the holiday since. I do hope to get back to it one of these years, though, as I miss seeing all of my little Halloween stitched pillows. But, for this year... it's straight on to Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoyed my post today and I thank you for your visits and wonderful comments and emails. I'm so proud to be a part of this supportive online community that we have with our fellow cross-stitchers. I wish everyone could be so lucky, don't you? Happy November! Bye for now...