Friday, April 28, 2023

A rollercoaster of a month...

Good day, all! It's a gloomy, chilly Friday here in southwestern Pennsylvania so I thought I'd finally sit down and write a new post. It's been over three weeks since I last checked in--have you missed me? I haven't been in much of a blogging mood--or even a stitching mood--lately. I just can't seem to settle and focus for some reason. Is it because it's spring? Who knows... Anyway, I hope you've all had a good month and are looking forward to May's arrival on Monday.

I did manage to stitch and finish one sweet Spring piece this month. I seem to be on a bird kick lately and am finding myself more and more drawn to charts that feature our feathered friends. This charming little design is by Homestitchness on Etsy. Unfortunately, Jenny's shop seems to be on a break right now, but you can sign up to be notified when it returns by clicking here.  "Springtime Greetings" is such a perfect design for the season, don't you think?  I mean what says spring more than the arrival of robins and daffodils? I stitched it on 40 ct. platinum Newcastle linen using all of the suggested threads (except for one of the colors in the urn which I changed from DMC 3776 to DMC 976).

"Spring Greetings" by Homestitchness on Etsy


I found a frame in my stash (99 cents from Goodwill!) that fit perfectly. This is such an easy finish... Simply cover a piece of sticky board with fabric for the background. Gather your stitched piece into a round shape (I just use a glass or a bowl to trace a round shape onto the backing board to get the desired size) using this tutorial. Then, glue the round ornament on to the fabric-covered piece of sticky board, add cording around the perimeter (I use Aleene's Tacky Glue applied lightly with a toothpick), and top with a pretty bow to hide where the ends of the cording meet. Doesn't it look darling on the bookshelf in my family room?

A bright pop of yellow on my bookshelf!


My ornament for April is from the Prairie Schooler booklet called "Old World Santas" (book no. 80).  I've stitched three of the Santas from that booklet so far and am finishing them all the same way. They're stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle linen with DMC threads. I did change a few of the colors and am using what I consider the classic Prairie Schooler Santa color, DMC 221, for the robe. The green I'm using for these is DMC 501. I left off the bottom border as I wanted an oval finish and added Smyrna stitched snowflakes in the background. Love the final effect. A lot of folks think that the fabric is printed that way--nope! It's all stitched... It takes a while, but is totally worth it in the end!

April 2023 ornament finish

And here are the three Santas I've finished so far... I think my favorite is the one on the right with the walking stick and the bird. How about you? 

Three down, five to go!

I do have a problem, though--I am almost out of the ribbon I've been using to finish these ornaments and I still have five left to stitch! Does anyone have this particular ribbon on hand? I don't need much--maybe a couple of feet. I believe it was sold at Michael's (here in the United States) last year or the year before. Please let me know if you have any to spare--I'd be happy to pay you for it! Here is a close-up:

Does anyone have to have any extra ribbon like this?


Pouch fever! I seem to be finding myself more and more drawn to making simple zipper pouches. This month I made two of them using the tutorial from Erica Arndt on YouTube which you can find right here. Now, I am not a confident sewer (or sewist, if you prefer--there is an interesting discussion in this Threads Magazine article on whether to call yourself a "sewer" or "sewist"), but I find this to be a very straightforward tutorial. I love the added zipper tabs--not only do they look cute with the contrasting fabric, but they finish off the top so nicely. The final size of these pouches is approximately 4" high by 9" long. Next, I'd like to try sewing a larger one with boxed corners to help it stand up easily. Wish me luck!

Making these little pouches is rather addicting!

I bet you can't guess who that yellow pouch is for, can you?! Oh, my oldest son absolutely loved Curious George when he was young and his own son does, too. I was so excited to find a little vintage scrap of Curious George fabric on Ebay and thought it would make a perfect pouch for my grandson to hide his little treasures in. The interior and the zipper tabs are made from a dotted brown cotton from my stash.

I hope "Mister B" likes his new treasure pouch.

And I knew this blue and white fabric would be perfect for a new pouch in which to keep my stitching necessities. The fabric was a gift from a fellow stitcher (many years ago) and I absolutely love the scissors and strawberries that are featured on it. For the interior and the zipper tabs, I used one of my husband's old dress shirts (I have plenty of them to cut up and use now that he's retired!).

Those old dress shirts of my husband's sure come in handy for the linings and backs of projects!

So what do I consider my necessities for my stitching pouch? Well, I am a real minimalist when it comes to my stitching. I don't use hoops or frames to hold my stitching and I don't use needleminders. So... this is it: needles, a pen (thanks Vickie!), scissors (thanks, April!), a seam ripper, and a corner measuring ruler (thanks, Robin!). How about you? Do you stitch with lots of extras or are you more of a minimalist like me?

I just love my new stitching pouch!

Giveaway winner... I was pleased to see so many entries for the "John 3:16 Sampler" that I offered in my last post. I think this is one of those pieces that will be much prettier stitched up than it appears in the photo, don't you? The winner's name pulled from the hat is...


JustPam--you are the winner of this pretty chart!

Congratulations JustPam, please send me your mailing address (my email is in the right sidebar--just click on "A Bit About Me" and you will find it). I'll get this chart out to you next week--hope you enjoy stitching it! And for those of you who didn't win... keep an eye on this space for future giveaways! 


So, about the title of today's post... Yes, April has been a month of ups and downs. Nothing unbearably sad, thank goodness. Just the normal twists and turns of life. Let's start with the downs:

* My husband now has tennis elbow in his "good" arm (the one that didn't have the shoulder replacement surgery). He overused it and is suffering for it. Does anyone have any experience with helping "tennis elbow" heal faster? 

* My son and his girlfriend who were both here for Easter, came down with Covid two days later. They have no idea where they got it as they hadn't even been at any gatherings. They had gone to the grocery store and a thrift store, but that's it! Both are recovering, but it was a rough go for a while. Fortunately, neither my husband nor I came down with it. I am now the last member of my immediate family not to have contracted Covid. I'm sure I will at some point, but I hope not...

* I just came back from the dentist yesterday--need a new crown. Honestly, it's always something with my poor teeth. I try and try to take good care of them, but...

* I haven't seen my little grandson in over two months now. What can I say :( We didn't dare have him around my husband after his shoulder replacement surgery as he is so active. Boy, do we miss that little fellow!

* The weather... So many ups and downs, but it's been an awfully cold and gloomy second half of April. We've had frosts on several nights, but have managed to cover our plants and vegetables up so they are safe (for now!). 

On the flip side, there were some nice moments happening in April as well...

* I've been enjoying the most beautiful cut flowers from my husband's garden. He planted tulip and daffodil bulbs last fall and these are the stunning results.

Love the peachy/rosy color of the tulips!

Blue, yellow, and white--one of my favorite color trios!

* My oldest son, daughter-in-law, and grandson have bought a house! They were thrilled to find one in the Potomac, Maryland neighborhood (where they are currently renting) and will move in September. I'm having a lot of fun looking for decorating/remodeling ideas for them.

* We have a little visitor each morning peering into my husband's den window. Such a cutie--he's not doing any harm, just seems very interested in what may be going on inside! 

"Well, hello there, Mr. Robin!"

* We have high hopes that we'll see our grandson in mid-May for Mother's Day! Hopefully, my husband's shoulder and elbow will both be feeling better by then. Right now, "Mister B" is enjoying a long weekend in Naples, Florida with his mom and dad. Looks like he's really having a wonderful time capturing who-knows-what in that net!

Mister B in Naples, Florida. I wonder what he's caught in his little net!

So, April comes to an end... I love the month of May and the warmer weather that (usually) accompanies it. I want to welcome my new followers and thank my regulars for your sweet comments and emails. I can't always respond to each of you, but I hope you know how much I appreciate you taking the time to say "hello!" Enjoy your weekend everyone and I'll see you again in the merry, merry month of May! Bye for now...

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Hopping into April!

One quarter of the year 2023 is already over?! Can you believe it? I hope April finds you all doing well... It's been quite a year for wild weather so far, hasn't it? Even here in normally calm western Pennsylvania we've experienced some of those crazy high wind storms that have swept across the United States. My heart breaks when I see the television coverage of the remains of communities hit by the tornadoes. All those memories and possessions just obliterated... I can't imagine and, to tell you the truth, would be (very) scared to live in a state where tornadoes are common. How many of you have experienced  a tornado? 

My stitching has been a calming force in my life with the many worries whirling around in the outside world. I know all of you stitchers can relate! As soon as I settle into my comfy blue stitching chair and pick up my latest project, I can feel the anxiety slowly seeping out of me. I can't imagine life without some sort of "escape" whether it be reading, taking a hike in nature, riding a bike, knitting, quilting, painting, photography. It's such a blessing to have those passions to turn to, isn't it?

My first finish is by one of my very favorite designers, Brenda Gervais at "With Thy Needle and Thread." It is called "Welcome Spring" and is stitched on 40 ct. flax Newcastle with overdyed and DMC threads. I actually stitched the eggs with one shade of blue and ended up ripping them out and re-stitching them with Dinky Dyes "Aquamarine" silk. I wanted the color to be a bit more like our robin's eggs (although our robin's eggs do not have brown spots!). 

"Welcome Spring" by With Thy Needle and Thread

I can't even tell you how many times I went back and forth on how to finish this one! I definitely was suffering from a case of "analysis paralysis" here... Originally, I had planned to frame it, but after many debates within my head, I went for a sweet pillow finish. I do love my pillow finishes and they are incredibly easy to display on a shelf or in a basket or bowl. 

A sweet new pillow for my spring displays!

The aqua and white checked fabric is used as the backing and I bordered the pillow with cording made from DMC 598--a simple finish for a detailed design. Here is a close-up of the little blue bell and thread bow that I added to the sheep's neck. I just happened to have the perfect blue bell in my stash and I made the ribbon from the same overdyed thread I used for the sheep's collar. 

Look how darling the little bow and bell are! And that satin stitched ear... ♥

My other finish is my March ornament for the #12in23ornamentstitchalong over on Instagram. It will look familiar to many of you as this is the third and final Prairie Schooler angel and I finished each one the same way. The "Angel of Plenty" is stitched 'over one' on 28 ct. black Monaco with the suggested threads. I did alter the lines in her face to make her look a bit less severe. Don't you love the beautiful lacy pattern in her wings? And, of course, I liked the touch of blue (grapes? blueberries?) falling from her cornucopia.

My final Prairie Schooler angel is finished!

Here are all three together--do you have a favorite? I like the one with the red flower--I just think those colors appeal to me the most. And her halo--oh, my! So lovely! I think the pale yellow trim and ribbon add an unexpected, but charming, touch. It's wonderful to have the trio completed and I look forward to hanging them together on my Christmas tree in December.

Do you have a favorite of the trio?


I've moved on to stitching a larger summer-themed piece and I'm loving it! I have very few true summer finishes in my collection--most of my summer pieces are patriotic themed. So this is a nice change and one I hope to finish before summer actually starts in June. 

My mailbox was full of gifts and stitchy goodies over the past few weeks! These came from Gabi and Martina in Germany, Charlene in Arizona, and Pat in Wisconsin. I was truly touched by their generosity and each of them taking the time to send me such thoughtful gifts. ♥Thank you all so very much!♥

Two sweet handmade cards hopped over from Germany. The stitched bunny came from Gabi and the crocheted bunny from Martina. Aren't they adorable? Thank you both so much, Gabi and Martina!

From my friend, Charlene, came a plethora of card blanks--I think I'm supplied for many years! And she included this cute ornament book which has many sweet ideas. Thank you so much, Charlene!

From my Instagram friend, Pat, came two beautifully made project pouches. Don't you love that fabric she used? Their smaller size is perfect for my ornament stitching. She also included two wonderful pieces of black fabric which she knows will be put to good use. Thank you so much, Pat!

Giveaway time... I found this lovely chart in an old magazine called "Celebrations" (from Spring 1993) that I thought would make a perfect giveaway for Easter. It is the "John 3:16 Sampler." Would anyone like to stitch it? If so, please follow the guidelines below. (I will be folding the pages and mailing them in a legal-sized envelope to save money on shipping). I'll announce the winner on my next blog post later this month.

I'm giving away this "John 3:16 Sampler" chart. To enter the giveaway, just follow the guidelines below...

To be included in the drawing for this chart, please...

1) Specifically mention that you would like to win the chart in your comment 

2) Be a follower in my blog's sidebar (to the right)

3) Make sure to leave your email address in your comment

4) Answer the "Getting to Know You" question below. 

Getting to Know You! Well, it's been a while since I asked one of these questions, hasn't it? Today, I'm wondering if your tastes as to what you enjoy stitching have changed through the years? For instance, when I first began stitching in the early 1980s, I wouldn't have given the Prairie Schooler angels above a second glance, but here I am over 40 years later, very attracted to them. When I first began stitching, everything was very "country." Do you remember those years? Everything was slate blue and mauve and geese, teddy bears, and country quilts were common. The abundance of charts and fabrics and threads that we are blessed with today was just not there! So, you stitched with what was available. Luckily, all three of my sons were born in the 1980s so stitching little teddy bears and such for their bedrooms fit right in! Today, I prefer small, cute, but not "cutesy" themes; more classic designs that will stand the test of time. I've never been drawn to samplers, but I still admire those that others stitch. I'm not into fairies and Mirabilia designs, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate and enjoy others' finishes of those things. That is the best thing about our stitching community, isn't it? Even if someone stitches something we would never be interested in, we all know the time and patience and love that goes into stitching (even a tiny square) and we cheer on and applaud each other. So, has what you enjoy stitching changed over time?

Do you have special plans for Easter weekend? Ours will be quiet as we are staying home a while longer so my husband's new shoulder (which is doing very well!) can heal and strengthen. I worry that being around my 2 1/2-year-old grandson might  not be the best thing for his shoulder right now so we're planning on going down for a visit in a month or so. My middle son and his girlfriend will come for Easter dinner, but no traditional ham or lamb for us. I'll probably make this Lentil Shepherd's Pie as he doesn't eat meat and is allergic to soy. (I do leave the mushrooms out as I just detest them!) I've made this dish before and it is very tasty--a nice "comfort food" to enjoy at any time of year.

I'll leave you with this sweet Easter postcard which is now over 100 years old! It belonged to my husband's grandfather and was sent to him in the year 1915. It is part of a collection of vintage postcards that I happened to bring back from my husband's family house in Naples, Florida. Yes, the same house that was flooded in September by Hurricane Ian. Thankfully, I had brought these postcards home on a previous trip--I'm so glad they were spared! Anyway, I wish you a Happy Easter and a wonderful April! Thank you for visiting me today and, as always, thank you for your kind comments and friendship. Bye for now...

Hopping in with an Easter wish--may your Easter weekend be filled with many blessings (and perhaps a chocolate bunny or two)!