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Friday, December 19, 2014

Just Nan SAL check-in and other stuff

I have been remiss in welcoming and thanking my new followers. I am going to try to post an entry a week in 2015, so there should be something for everyone to read - whether it is interesting is a whole 'nother story...

I am still not in the whole holiday spirit but am coming to terms with it and trying not to stress over it too much. I did pull out the stockings and tree today.  I even put a few ornaments on the tree but this year, "done is good enough".  I will be doing some more baking as The Hubs was upset that everything was mailed off to DSon and I did promise the in-laws a sampling of the holiday cookies.

A little more Christmas stitchery to add to what I showed on my Advent entry:


The stockings are part of the series of six or seven that Cross Stitch and Country Crafts published years ago.  I have stitched fourteen of them for family and friends. The cottages are from The Nutmeg Company and look, in my opinion, very cute hanging on the tree.  In case you can't tell, I have just figured out collages.  I am using PicMonkey and having a great time playing with it.  They do have a pay-for version with lots of additional features, but the free version seems to do everything I need.

So, on to stitching or the lack thereof.  About this time last year Zeb at Keep Calm and Cross Stitch posted about the Just Nan SAL and I jumped to join. I was a bit of an obsessive collector of Just Nans for years and have a lot in my stash.  Unfortunately, the SAL seems to have fallen by the wayside, but I have kept up with my Just Nan stitching and managed to finish three pieces this year. All the finishes can be seen in the 2014 Just Nan SAL tab up top.  I also started a fourth piece Spring in the Air and got this far:


I don't have any stitching progress to show. Except for a small, which I will hold for the final Smalls SAL check-in, I have not stitched on anything for the last few weeks. I have been keeping myself busy with stitching related things though - I gridded two small HAED pieces and have marked the fabric for Shakespearean Fantasy's gridding:


It is hard to see on my screen but if you click on the picture you'll get a clear view. My gridding technique starts with glass head sewing pins. I put a green one at the upper left corner and then take my handy dandy counting ruler from EZ Manufacturing (it is a ruler that has markings on it for 11-. 14-, 18- and 22-count fabric) and put a yellow pin every ten threads and repeat that until I get to the end which is marked with a red pin. I then do the same thing down the side. Once the dimensions are marked, it is very easy to do the count for the pages (I mark those with a blue pin). Once all that is done, I start gridding with the Sulky Sliver thread. I am finding the whole process very relaxing.

The other stitching related thing I am doing is bobbinating my floss box. I have the majority of my DMC stored very nice and neat, but when Wal-Mart stopped carrying DMC and was selling it for $.10 a skein and again when my local Joann's store moved and reduced the price to $.12 a skein, I bought a LOT of floss - no I don't know exactly how much, but I haven't had to buy more than a skein or two for a project in years. I originally organized it by putting it in plastic bags by number family and putting it in this very nice box (it has a pretty Tuscan countryside design on it) but that was it. Over the years floss from finished or dekitted projects was thrown in added and now it is a hot mess of DMC and other fibers and I can't find anything:

 So I decided it was finally time to do something about it. I have been planning this for years a while and have had six new floss boxes and 1,000 (yes 1,000) bobbins in my craft closet just waiting for me to get motivated.  Now seems to be the time. I am off work the next two weeks and hope to have all the DMC sorted and put away and the other threads at least separated and stored in their own bags by the time I go back to work. So I am off to find The Hubs's drill and see if the battery is charged. Drill you ask? I saw a blog post (and can't remember where) where an electric drill was used to help with the bobbin winding process and I want to try.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Final 2014 Stitch from Stash Update

The cards are made and on their way. The gifts are made, wrapped, boxed and on their way. The cookies are on their way too. All that's left is the goodies for the in-laws and wrapping their gift, I have time as we will see them on Christmas, and to try to find my Christmas spirit. My holiday mojo seems to have gone on holiday. Maybe I just hang around with a bunch of curmudgeons, but I have heard the same statement from a lot of people this year. No clues as to why the sudden lack of holiday spirit, but I do hope it returns soon.

The making, baking and boxing has taken the majority of my time this past month, so there is very little stitching to show. Fortunately, when I don't stitch, I don't think of stashing; however, I was in and out of craft stores all month and the temptation was strong (especially in Jo-Ann's Fabric as they had DMC on sale for 3/$.99). Because I was so close to a zero spend year, I didn't give in and can give my final Stitch from Stash report as:

Carried over:  $300
November Budget:  $25 + $50 exception
Available:  $325 + exception
Spent:  $0

I had no new starts from stash, but did do a little bit of stitching on:

Lizzie*Kate's Holly and Hearts Sampler
and:

Shepherd's Bush's He Tends
I have finished He Tends but will save the photo for the Smalls SAL check-in.

So that is it! I made it an entire year and didn't spend anything on new stash.  Of course, it does highlight just how large my stash really is and explains my signing up for 2015's. There is a  ten day gap between the end of 2014's and the start of 2015's and I will use that to buy the floss I need to finish kitting up my HAEDs but I don't anticipate that next year's spending will be very different from this year's.

If you are interested in signing up for Stitch from Stash 2015A, Mel has opened up sign-ups until December 21st or until 120 people join. There were 69 participants last I looked so don't wait too long if you're interested.

DESIGN, A New Stitchy Start, WIPocalypseSmalls SAL and Gifted Gorgeousness are all still open for sign-ups too.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Online Advent Calendar - Day 14

 
Thank you to Jo at Serendipitous Stitching for hosting the 2014 Online Advent calendar. This is my first year participating and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's posts.
 
 
I have done a lot of Christmas stitching over the years. As a matter of fact, my first counted cross stitch piece was a Santa. I don't have pictures of all of them as they were completed before the ease of digital photography and I gifted most of them, but I did run around the house taking pictures of the things that I have kept and put up every year.
 
The large one on the left is Shepherd's Bush's Santaberry Pudding. From top to bottom: Lavender and Lace's Gift of Peace; Peppermint Twist by Blue Ribbon Designs; 12 Days of Christmas by Hinzeit; Angel of Light by Lavender and Lace; Angel of Freedom by Lavender and Lace; 1993 Angel by Lavender and Lace, Fondant Icing by The Nutmeg Company; and, 1991 Christmas Angel by Lavender and Lace
We do have stockings that I stitched from the old Cross Stitch and Country Crafts magazine, but I haven't pulled them out of storage yet and can't find a photo anywhere.
 
Jo asked us to tell about the best present ever. I could tell you about the Needlework System 4 stand that The Hubs gave me or the year he drove the ladies at Needlecraft Corner crazy with phone calls while trying to get a pattern kitted for me or the Jane West doll my sister and I got way back when. But in all honesty, the best ever present wasn't a Christmas present but a St. Nicholas day present and it was my sister. Now, I will be frank and say that I was probably not all that thrilled at the time and there were times that I would have gladly returned or traded her, but I know that my life would be lacking without her in it.




Saturday, December 6, 2014

December WIPocalypse and YOTA - 2014 Recap

Before I get started on my recap, Happy Birthday to DSister! I was digging through pictures but couldn't find any of the two of us when she was a baby.  The closest I got was this one:


It was taken Easter 19-something-something when she was 2 and I was 4 or 5 depending on when Easter was that year.  That foliage behind us?  I think it's honeysuckle that got a bit out of control.  The year after this picture was taken, a chicken took up roost in it.  No we didn't live in the country, we were only a few miles from the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman - we figured she was someone's Easter chick that got away (or was allowed to get away as it wasn't cute any longer). We fed her graham crackers and named her Chicken Licken.  Unfortunately, chickens are not good house pets so when we moved to Michigan, we couldn't take her with us.  So one weekend, we caught her, and found a nice farm that took her in.  I am sure she spent many long, happy years wandering around the farm yard doing whatever chickens do and died peacefully in her sleep of extreme old age.

So besides my sister's and DBIL's birthdays and their anniversary and Christmas, December means - recaps!!  As it's the first Saturday of the month and a full moon, there are two recaps, WIPocalypse and YOTA.  Fortunately they are both WIP focused SALs so it is great that the final post for 2014 for both of them falls on the same day.

I had five pieces on my WIPocalypse/YOTA list this year.  I am really pleased with the progress that I made on all of them.

Santa's Magic by Mirabilia went from here:

To here:

Enchanted Swans by Just Nan started here:


And was finished on January 3rd:


Elegant Doily by Kayann's Kreations went from this:
To this:
The section shown in the before photo is on the left in this photo
I had a bit of a switch up with my Chatelaine piece.  I started with Serengeti and went from here:


To here:

Before it was put away in favor of Secret Victorian GardenSVG went from this:


To this:

The lower right section in the before photo is the upper left in this one.
And finally, Three Tulips by With Thy Needle and Thread went from here:


To a finish on April 10th:


So two finishes from my list and good progress on the other three. I don't know if either of these SALs will continue into 2015, but I will continue with my WIP reduction plan. 

Speaking of 2015 SALs, Gifted Gorgeousness, DESIGN and A New Stitchy Start 2015 are still taking sign-ups.  Heather at Stitching Lotus has announced that she will continue with the Smalls SAL for 2015 and is taking sign-ups and Mel at Epic Stitch has a page up, although sign-ups are not open yet, for Stitch from Stash 2015A. Clicking on the SAL's name should take you to the sign up/information pages for each one.

Secret Victorian Garden went on the frame today and I may take a break from the rotation, honestly I have been rubbish at doing any stitching the last couple of weeks so I don't think it will make too much difference, and just leave it on the frame for the rest of the year. I am also gridding fabric for three, yes three, HAED starts (two fairly smalls ones for HAEDs and Shakespearean Fantasy) and am finding it rather relaxing so will throw that in every so often also.  I do hope to have one more small finish this year, but am not really pushing too hard as I have a ton of holiday crafting and baking to finish up over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Just Nan SAL and an update on everything else

It's time for the Just Nan SAL 2014 check-in.  Zeb at Keep Calm and Cross Stitch started this SAL.  Unfortunately, she hasn't updated things in a while, but it has helped me pull some of my Just Nan's out of the stash, get them started, and, in a couple of cases, actually finish them.  I have made one of the slots in my rotation a dedicated Just Nan slot, so you will be seeing more of her designs in the future.  I am currently working on Spring in the Air.  It just came back into the rotation today, so no new stitching yet as I am busy coloring snowmen for our Christmas cards, but I do hope to get a few stitches in later today.  Here's where it is right now:


Lizzie*Kate's Holly and Hearts Sampler finished up its week in the rotation yesterday.  I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped - I spent most of my week off doing gift crafting, sewing and planning - but I am happy with any progress at this time of year.  Here is what it looked like last night when I put it away:



I am still mulling over my stitching plans for next year. I was planning to cut back on SALs but have found a couple that sound interesting.  The first one I found through Leonore's blog Needle, Pen & Sword and is DESIGN (Designers Everyone Should Immediately Get to Notice)
.  The goal is to introduce others to designers you enjoy and see who everyone else is talking about.  You just need to have a WIP from the designer you choose to introduce and post about them on the last day of the month.  There is an outline of things to talk about on the website.






The next one,  GRAB the Badge to follow along, is hosted by Tammy at I want to do one more stitch.  Another easy SAL, if you are thinking of starting a new big project on January 1st, join the SAL, share your start and your progress.  No definition of "big" was given so you aren't locked into a HAED, Chatelaine or TW, although I suspect there will be a fair number of them.

Speaking of HAED, I was digging around in my fabric stash looking for a piece to do my HAED SAL and this click here to download freebie on and found an entire yard of 28-count antique white Jobelan. It wasn't labeled for a specific project or projects and I don't remember why I bought it, but it is what I was going to order for Shakespearean Fantasy, so after a little measuring and cutting, I have one less thing on my "to buy" list.  And yes, I did eventually find pieces for the smaller HAEDs.  Hurray for a ridiculously large stash and a bad memory!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November Small SAL

I woke up to a downpour and now it is:


Yep, snowing.  This isn't the earliest I have ever seen snow, but it sure is the earliest I have seen snow here in central Virginia.  I do hope it isn't an indication of how the winter is going to go.  If it is, I have plenty to keep me busy inside.

2014 Smalls SAL is one of the SALs that has kept me busy this last year.  Heather at Stitching Lotus hosts the Smalls SAL.  You define what a small is and post a photo of it on the last Wednesday of the month.   In the last month, I finished Shepherd's Bush's Garden Fair from the She Tends leaflet:


And started His Flock from the same leaflet:


I think I have my stitching plan/rotation for next year worked out - I will continue to focus on whittling down that WIP list there on the right but have a couple of new starts worked in just so I don't feel deprived.  As usual, it is all subject to change at any time.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November Stitch From Stash and other things

For all you folks in the US:


A big welcome to my new followers.  I really appreciate you stopping by and reading about the craziness that is my stitching life.

Besides the start of holiday stressing, November means the beginning of announcements for 2015 SALs.  I always say I am going to cut back on them, but never do. I was waiting on the official sign ups for a couple of mine from this year that will continue into next when Jo at Serendipitous Stitching announced the Gifted Gorgeousness SAL.  The SAL is a way to show people that have gifted us stitching items, how much we appreciate their gift.  I have two charts, Snow White Santa by Mirabilia and Shakespearean Fantasy from HAED, that fit the SAL theme perfectly, so Gifted Gorgeousness became my first official SAL of 2015.  Snow White Santa is slated to go into the Santa slot in my rotation but won't be started anytime soon as there are a couple ahead of him, but Shakespearean Fantasy is slated as my New Year's start - I am working on rotation revisions but believe that instead of both my off Fridays being set aside for smalls, one will be for smalls and one for SF.  Anyway, if you're interested in participating, the SAL name should take you to the sign up page.  If it doesn't work, the blog name should take you to Jo's blog and you can navigate from there.  In the spirit of the SAL, Gillie at Random Thoughts from Abroad is having a give-away for those of you living outside the US - 15 skeins (your color choices) of DMC floss.  I forget that DMC is a loss leader in the big box stores so not everyone has access to the $.39 to $.44 prices.  And in line with Gifted Gorgeousness, my mom stitched this pretty towel for me:



Speaking of Shakespearean Fantasy I have all the threads, except black (even being the thread stasher that I am, do not have 41 skeins of black) pulled and need to bobbin them (yes, I know that is not everyone's favorite way of storing their threads, it's not mine either but it is the easiest way for me to store all the threads for this project and no I will not be bobbinating the black.  I am planning to purchase a cone of thread and will keep it in the project bag) and will be buying the fabric around the beginning of the year.

Why am I waiting until the beginning of the year? Well, I have, so far not spent anything on stitching stash this year and just because I can, I plan to finish out the year that way.  What a perfect segue into my Stitch from Stash report.   Stitch from Stash is hosted by Mel at Epic Stitch and is a way to get the stash spending under control and reduce that stash a bit.  We get a budget of $25 (or the equivalent in your currency) each month for "must haves" and are allowed to carry over the unspent amount to the next month.  For November I had:

Carried over:  $250
November Budget:  $25 + $50 exception
Available:  $275 + exception
Spent:  $
Balance forward:  $300.

I had two new starts from stash Garden Fair:

and He Tends:


Since my last report, I stitched on each project in my rotation!! Yea me!!! 

Santa's Magic has been on the frame this week and went from here:

to here:

I have started filling in the beard with Wisper and am not enjoying it, so I stitch an area of beard and then go to something different (I finished the glove and a bit of the cuff shadow) so that I don't get overly frustrated.  Santa  is on the frame through tonight, so I hope to have a bit more progress on him.  Lizze*Kate's Holly and Hearts Sampler goes on the frame tomorrow.  As I have next week off and no plans I hope to finish part 2 and a good bit of part 1 - because I'm stitching it upside down (to fit my stitching style) I did part 3 first.