Wednesday, January 31, 2024

So... much... rain!

Hello, everybody! We've reached the end of January and I couldn't be happier. Rain and gloomy skies have shrouded the month in darkness far too often over the past 31 days. On the rare occasion the sun does peek through the clouds, boy, does my energy level skyrocket and my mood improve. For all of you who live in climates with abundant sunshine--I hope you appreciate each and every day. Will February be any different? Probably not, but at least it's a bit shorter than January... Thank goodness we have this wonderful hobby of making thousands of tiny x's in fabric to help us through the long winters in these northern climates!

Those of you on Instagram  may know that I began a monthly ornament stitch along (SAL) back in 2021. It's proven to be very popular and I've met some great new stitching friends through it. If you'd care to join in on the fun, just use the #12in24ornamentstitchalong when you post a new ornament on Instagram and I'll be sure to see it. And if you'd like to follow my account on IG, you can click here and hit the follow button. 

So, would you like to see my very first ornament of 2024? As soon as I saw this design, I instantly knew I wanted to stitch it on black! This is called "Christmas Card" and is by Crocette a Gogò. I also knew I wanted it to be on the small side so I stitched it "over one" on 25 ct. black Lugana. Most of the suggested threads were used, although I did change the lettering to black.

Christmas Card by Crocette a Gogò

It's just such a happy ornament with that pair of cardinals, the red and white poinsettias, and the tiny Christmas trees and berries. I love it! I wanted to show you a close-up of the topper I added to the gingham bow. I simply cut little leaves (from the back) of one of my dried boxwood wreaths, glued them on to the ribbon individually (using Aleene's Original Tacky Glue), and then glued on the red and white beads. I am not a hot glue gun lover--I find it dries too quickly and leaves a mess. The Aleene's glue allows me more time to adjust the placement of tiny things like the beads and simply leaves a cleaner look, in my opinion.

It's the little details that make ornament finishing really special!

My next finish was a long time coming! Honestly, I have no idea when I actually stitched this, but I'm guessing it was at least 20 years ago because it is stitched on Aida and I haven't used Aida in many, many years. This is one of a series of cute cat designs by Calico Crossroads and is called "" I found it buried in a drawer of old "unfinished finishes" and decided it would be a perfect birthday gift for my middle son who has a black cat (well, his cat, Spike, does have some white on his tummy and paws) and whose job involves a great deal of computer work. My son loved the old-fashioned computer  and that mischievous cat trying to capture the mouse. And look at the calendar in the upper right--there's even a lounging black cat pictured on it! Such a charming little piece... I framed it in a Dollar Store frame--not a perfect fit, but definitely fine for a fun little piece like this! (There is a shadow on the upper part of the frame making it look a little off-center, but in real life, it looks much better).

A long overdue finish of "" by Calico Crossroads

I've also been working on a couple of larger Christmas pieces as I decided I wanted some bigger things to display at Christmas time in addition to all of my ornaments. Hope to have those ready to show you next month! A small Valentine's day piece will be in the mix, too--I try to stitch at least one new one each year.

I know I've mentioned many times how much I appreciate the kind emails and comments that I receive each time I post. Every now and then I also receive gifts from sweet friends who surprise me totally out of the blue. One of these gifts arrived earlier this month from my Instagram friend Theresa B. (tbornsewterry on Instagram) who wanted to thank me for my blog and the inspiration she's received from it. Oh, my! I was speechless as I opened her package which contained two lovely ornament charts, two packs of needles, and eight beautiful overdyed threads--all in Christmas colors. I am still shaking my head in wonder at this gift--it truly touched my heart. Thank you so very much, Theresa!

Surprise gifts from Theresa B.

And from another Instagram friend, Claire, came a very special package filled with the most lovely wool felt in all shades of the rainbow! Claire (blackberryhill1 on Instagram) makes  gorgeous wool strawberries each month and I knew she would be the person to ask about felt for a new endeavor I'm taking on. She not only gave me great advice, but offered to send me some of her wool felt scraps to use! So very generous and kind... Another gift that truly touched my heart. Thank you so very much, Claire!

A beautiful lot of wool felt from Claire B.

A new endeavor... So, why was I inquiring about felt? Well, last December, I became thoroughly enchanted by the darling felt Advent calendar creations on Instagram by "What a Curly Life." You can see them right here on her website, too--and they're free to download (just click on PDF patterns and tutorials)! On Instagram, she also offered video tutorials for each one, too, which will be so helpful. I plan to make this little penguin first. So far, I've only cut out the pieces. I hope to make all of the animals to give to my grandson next Christmas to hang on his tree. He adores animals so I think they'll be a big hit, if I can manage the sewing of them :) Wish me luck!

A little penguin ready to be sewn together!

With any luck, my penguin will look as cute as this little guy created by Anabella at "What a Curly Life"! Thank you, so very much for your darling patterns, Anabella!

I also won a giveaway! Shelly over at "An Arizona Stitcher" was having a giveaway for the chart below called "A Christmas Sampler." It was one I had never seen so I threw my name into the hat and was the lucky winner! I do plan on having a giveaway for this chart after I've stitched it, so please keep an eye out for it. Thank you so very much, Shelly!

I was the lucky winner of this cute sampler last month!

Birthdays--for me and my blog! Well, I'm proud to say that this little blog of mine, "Stitching Dreams," celebrated its 15th birthday on January 24th. Can you believe it? I sure can't... What started out as a simple way to document my stitching has turned into a true feeling of belonging in the most wonderful online community! I had no idea, when I began blogging that cold January day back in 2009 that it would lead to the amazing friendships, exchanges, inspiration, and fun that I've experienced over the past fifteen years. Thank you all for visiting me all these years. You've touched my heart in countless ways and I truly appreciate each and every one of you!

And my own birthday on the 16th, although extremely quiet this year, was quite nice. It was so very cold that day that I didn't even want to leave the house, so my husband picked up a wonderful dinner from a local restaurant along with some tasty cupcakes and we had a simple birthday celebration--just the two of us. After dinner, my husband surprised me with a little "Zoom" party with all of the kids in attendance. That was fun and a good way to have all of us together across the miles. 

I want to thank some sweet blogging friends for their kind birthday gifts and cards...

Such a cute stitched snowman card from Gabi in Germany! Thank you so much, Gabi!

Vickie at "A Stitcher's Story" made the prettiest set of beaded pins for me. I know they'll look great on summery finishes! Thank you so much, Vickie!

Robin in Virginia included a sweet set of cross-stitch themed stickers in her card. Thank you so much, Robin!

And from June over at "Butterfly Wings" came a lovely stitched card in my favorite color, some flower buttons and summery beach charts, a notebook adorned with birds, and a little pouch from her home in Devon, England. Thank you so much, June!

So, January comes to an end... And with that, I'll be changing out the corner cupboard in my kitchen to February's red and pink and white. Another year is flying by already, isn't it? Hope each of you has a wonderful month ahead. As always, thank you for visiting and taking the time to say "hello!" I owe a few of you emails and I'll do my best to get back to you this week. As always, if you have a question for me, please be sure to leave your email in your comment so I can respond! Bye for now...

My January corner cupboard all ready for its February makeover!

Saturday, January 13, 2024

And a new year begins!

First of all--Happy New Year! I hope 2024 is treating you well so far? I tend to have a love-hate relationship with the month of January--how about you? I love the fact that it brings such a sense of peace after the hustle-bustle of the holiday; I love having extra stitching time by cozy fires; I love it when it snows (which seems to be rarer and rarer these days!); and I (kind of) love turning a year older with my mid-month birthday on the 16th. But, January seems to drag on forever, it is gray and dull most of the time (I think I've only seen the sun twice since Christmas!), and the month just doesn't provide much inspiration, does it? My mother used to say that "If you can just make it through long, cold January, you're good to go for the year." I tend to agree! 

I have lots of finishes to share with you today! These were all gifts that I stitched for friends and family for Christmas. In addition to my monthly ornaments in 2023, I also stitched 14 pieces for either ornaments or cards last year. The clue to stitching little gifts to send out during the busy month of December is to work ahead--I start my gift stitching in January and continue it all year. The other thing I do to make it easier, is to stitch pieces that I've done before--that way I don't have to think about the colors or finishes and everything comes together more quickly. I'm sure you'll recognize many of the following gifts as ones I've stitched before in one form or another. I would love to be able to send something to each one of you, but, of course, that is impossible. So, just know how much I appreciate you reading my blog, leaving such kind comments, and sending those wonderful emails. I truly appreciate each of you!

This Madame Chantilly design is just a small portion of the "Celebrate Winter" chart. I stitched it on 40 ct. stormy night Newcastle with DMC threads.  I made an oval ornament by adding additional snowflakes, topping it with a gauzy white bow and handmade cording, and sewing on a tiny silver bell. Isn't it sweet?

A small motif from "Celebrate Winter" by Madame Chantilly

I also stitched the next ornament, "Red Bird Globe" by Bent Creek, for myself back in 2020 (in this post). I used 32 ct. Wichelt Twilight Blue fabric and finished it exactly like the one I made for myself, except I changed the type of white hanger and added a scrap of flannel tied to the side. The "snowflakes" are simply white beads scattered about.

Bent Creek's "Red Bird Globe"

This sweet snowflake was stitched from a chart in the book  "A Rainbow of Stitches" by Agnès Delage-Calvet. I used 40 ct. white Newcastle linen along with Aurifloss 4140 floss. Love the patterned ribbon and the tiny snowflake charm dangling from the bottom middle! The blue in the snowflake print on the ribbon just happened to match the shade of blue in the floss perfectly.

A single snowflake from "A Rainbow of Stitches" by Agnès Delage-Calvet


I'm sure you will all recognize this round Prairie Schooler ornament--it's one of my favorites and one I've often given as a gift! This is from PS Book No. 51, "Christmas Past." It is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco using the suggested DMC threads. I'm sure I'll be stitching this one again and again! It's always well received.

One of my favorite Santas from Prairie Schooler's "Christmas Past" Book No. 51

This freebie design is an oldie, but goodie. You can find the chart right here if you would like to stitch it for yourself. This was stitched on 40 ct. white Newcastle using DMC 115. I added a tiny brass reindeer charm along with a little red bell on the checkered bow for interest. Love the classic beauty of this one!

"Noel" freebie in DMC 115

Once again, I turned to Madame Chantilly's "Celebrate Winter" chart to stitch this sweet bird perched on a white house. This one is stitched on 40 ct. raw natural Newcastle with DMC threads. I added a few snowflakes to shape it into a round ornament. Love the little pop the polka dot bow adds to the final finish!

A small motif from "Celebrate Winter" by Madame Chantilly

For a couple of sweet babies born in 2023, I stitched this ornament from Brooke's Books called "Remy Rabbit" (twice). This is a free design which you can find right here. I forgot to take a photo of one of them before I mailed it, but it's exactly like the ornament shown below except with a different name. This one is for my niece's brand new daughter who was named after my dear mother. Yes, I cried a bit as I stitched her name... I hope little Elinor treasures it as she grows older. For this one, I used 40 ct. water green Newcastle linen with my own selection of DMC threads. Again, I added snowflakes to shape it into an oval ornament. 

A baby ornament for my dear mother's namesake by Brooke's Books called "Remy Rabbit"

The following cards were also stitched and sent around the world...

A sweet motif from "Good Tidings to You" by The Sampler Girl (found in the 2011 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Magazine)

The Birds of a Feather "Love" angel stitched on 40 ct. white  Newcastle. I changed her hair color from blonde to brunette.

A trio of Prairie Schooler skating Santa cards from the booklet "A Merry Mini Surprise" (Book No. 215) stitched on 40 ct. woodland brown Newcastle

And last, but certainly not least, I stitched a cute snowman ornament for my grandson, Mister B. I just had to stitch this in honor of the snowman that he and my husband created when we were visiting him in early December. Overnight, enough snow fell to build a small snowman and for him to go sledding down the little hill in their side lawn in Maryland. Oh, what fun he had! Here is the snowman the two of them made...

Mister B carefully explaining exactly where the snowman's "buttons" should be placed

And here is the snowman ornament I stitched for Mister B. It is by Stitching With the Housewives and is called "Let It Snow." I thought I was stitching it on 40 ct. black, but it turned out to be 32 ct. and for that reason, the coverage isn't the best (since I only used one thread). I stitched my grandson's name instead of the words "Let It Snow" on the mug (have blurred it out for privacy in the photo). Mister B got such a big grin on his face when he unwrapped it on Christmas morning! He now has  yet another "Stitched With Love by Nonna" ornament for his tree.

Whew! That is a lot of stitching for one post... Hope you enjoyed it and, perhaps, gained some inspiration for stitching your very own gifts for next Christmas!

Would you believe I still have my Christmas tree up? Am I the only one? I've never left it up this long, but I have to admit I'm truly enjoying the warm glow each evening when I turn it on. I had fully planned to take it down last weekend, but then this happened... 

The view of our back yard and pond: January 7, 2024

Can you spot the red cardinal snuggled in the rhododendron bush?

The snow gently falls as this sweet deer wanders into the woods

YES! We finally got snow--and I just had to leave the tree up a while longer :) I make no apologies--it just seemed right! But, the snow has now melted and I'm sure (well, pretty sure!) that I'll take it down this weekend. All the other Christmas things are boxed and put away in the attic so the tree shouldn't take long. I do hate saying goodbye to the ornaments for another 11 months, but, at the same time I know I'll love having my home back in order. 

I did take the Prairie Schooler ornaments off the tree and out of the Pottery Barn cubby for their very own photo-shoot last week. Just wanted to document what I've stitched through the years because at my "advanced age," I have to admit, I have trouble remembering which ones I've previously stitched. I'll be 69 years old on Tuesday... How can that be?!?!  I hope this final year in my 60s is a memorable one--and memorable for the right reasons!

A plethora of Prairie Schooler Santas!

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I hope you all have a relaxing weekend ahead with lots of stitching time. I'll be back later in the month with some new stitching--fingers crossed! Bye for now...