Sunday, December 17, 2017

A finish, two starts and IHSW

After the grocery shopping and housework, I had a very productive

First up, the finish. 

This is Just Nan's Holly Bows.  It's done on 32-count Stone Grey Belfast with DMC and the beads from the bead pack that came with the pattern.  I really do like this fabric color and have a few patterns that would look really nice on it.

After I finished Holly Bows I put Goldie on the frame to put a few stitches in so that I could put it on my WIPocalypse list for next year.  The stitching was so easy that I did a bit more than a few stitches:

Goldie is my in-law's German Shepherd.  I took a puppy photo of her and put in an order with Heaven and Earth Designs for a special order stocking.  If you look really carefully, you can just see an outline of her ear to the right of the large stitched area.  I worked on this Saturday evening and Sunday morning and then put Japanese Zen Garden from Chatelaine on the stand (again to just put a few stitches in).

It was nice stitching a Chatelaine again.  This is stitched on 32-count Sky Blue Jobelan (after looking at the pattern there aren't areas of solid beading so the hand-dyed 32-count should be okay).  I am using Martina's DMC conversion for all the fibers except for a couple she didn't list a conversion for.  There are lots and lots of sparkly stitches that are charted in this bit, but even with all the PTB (Petite Treasure Braid) I have, I didn't have any of the ones called for.  I have an order in for the PTB, the two silks and the bead pack.  Not sure when they'll all show up but will carry on with the DMC I do have and fill in once I get all the goodies.

Goldie and Zen are the two pieces that I will focus on in 2018 as I would really like for them to be Christmas gifts next year - boring blog with just the two pieces - you have been warned.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The last Gifted Gorgeousness check in for 2017

Even though I have been talking about holiday preparations and 2018 stitching plans, it is hard to believe that there are only a couple more weeks left in 2017.  I am really not sure how the end of the year sneaks up on my like this every year.

As I am typing I am looking out the window and watching a pair of tufted titmice at the feeders.  They are very happy that I put out some shelled peanuts and chopped apples I found one at the back of the crisper drawer that wasn't so crisp earlier.  I think they're eating the apples and hoarding the peanuts.  If you're not in the eastern part of North America, here's what they look like:

Tufted Titmouse wallpaper #3617  Not a colorful bird but so very cute.  I did not take this picture, but this one is a bit chilly as they aren't normally that fluffed up.  I can also hear a cardinal calling but haven't seen it at the feeder yet.

So today is the check-in for the last Gifted Gorgeousness for this year.  Gifted Gorgeousness is hosted by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching and is a way for us to say "thank you" to those that have gifted us with stitching things, show things we're giving as gifts or anything else we can shoehorn into the subject.  It is a stressless SAL as you post as you can and Jo gives us plenty of leeway in our shoehorning.

Since last month's post I have been a stitching fiend for me anyway!  I had one finish that was a gift - A Glimpse of Santa -

and two finishes and a start, Kari's Snowflake, Snowgirls and Holly Bows (photos below in that order) that I am shoehorning.  Because I finished my obligation stitching this year, the stitching time freed up is a huge gift to myself so I'm counting these pieces

as part of the SAL.

 This weekend is also an  weekend, so grab a project and stitch.  Another no stress SAL that only requires that you stitch and post.  I haven't been too good about it this year, but I plan to give it a go again in 2018. 

I have pretty well pulled my 2018 stitching plans together and have a list of SALs that I am interested in for next year, but will probably take until midnight on January 1 to have it finalized.  My plan for the weekend is to finish Holly Bows and then start Goldie and/or Japanese Zen Garden.  See you Monday with an IHSW update.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A tired camel

After the last few years, I didn't think I'd every say it, but the Screaming Camel of Happiness is tired.  Yes, I have another finish!  Those that may be new to my blog, please do not think this is normal!  I typically go months and months without progress never mind an actual finish.  I will be back to that pattern soon enough but am enjoying this while I can.

Here is my completed Just Nan's Kari's Snowflake:

It's stitched on 28-count opalescent Desert Sky evenweave from Silkweavers with DMC, Kreinik and the embellishments that were included with the pattern.  I like the design, but oh my aching head, I had more frog visits on this piece than any in recent memory.  The design is less than 3" square so it's not like I had to count to much more than 5...  Anyway it's done and will soon be moving in with the other several dozen unfinished finished pieces.  Someday I need to sit down and figure out what to do with all of them.

After finishing the snowflake, I pulled out Just Nan's Holly Bows and got it to here:

This is stitched on 32-count Stone Grey Belfast.  I love how the colors pop on this fabric.  If you look closely you'll see something very unusual in this picture.  Yes, it's in a hoop.  I seldom use a hoop for smaller pieces but my hands were protesting after I finished the snowflake so I pulled the hoop out and clamped it in my lapstand.  My hands are happier and it is so much nicer to use both hands for stitching.  Fortunately the design fits within the opening so I don't have to move the hoop or really worry about marks.

Before I started stitching this weekend, I pulled fabric and threads for the two projects that will be my focus pieces next year Goldie a special order stocking charted by Heaven and Earth Designs and Japanese Zen Garden from Chatelaine.

I was heart sore to hear the news of Martina Rosenberg's passing this last week so when DSon picked a Chatelaine for me to stitch for him I was thrilled. What better way to remember a wonderful designer.  Unlike Goldie, Japanese Zen Garden was not a planned start, but sorting through my stash, I have most of the fiber (I'm using Martina's DMC conversion) and a large enough piece of fabric (32-count Summer Sky Jobelan) that I should be able to start in the next couple of weeks. 

I will be starting both Goldie and Zen this year as I want them on my WIPocalypse list for next year, so Holly Bows will be my last finish for this year and probably a while

Because the two new pieces are large and detailed (each in their own way) they will be the only two pieces in my rotation next year.  I may have to take some time out to stitch another wedding piece and am reserving Sunday mornings for small stitching just so I can have some finishes next year but you will be seeing mostly Goldie and Zen next year. 

So remember a couple of weeks ago I showed you this? 

Well the same yard looked like this
on Saturday.  Yes, winter has arrived in central Virginia.  It's all gone today but it was very pretty outside this weekend made all the prettier by the fact that I didn't have to go out in it.  No snow forecast for the rest of this week, but it is supposed to be very cold on Wednesday almost cold enough to pull out my New Hampshire winter coat and then warm by the weekend again.  I don't think I'll see the dandelion again until spring but with the weird weather we've been having I'm not sure I'd count it out.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Online Advent Calendar

Welcome to day 6 of the 2017 Online Advent Calendar hosted by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching.  Before I talk about Christmas, I want to wish these two ladies very Happy Birthdays!  Yes, my sister and my new niece share a birthdayIt was very nice of my nephew to find someone that shares a birthday with his mother - two very special St. Nicholas Day gifts.

 And speaking of St. Nicholas here's an Americanized version of him:
Christmas Presence charted by Heaven and Earth Designs
Jo asked us to share how we celebrate Boxing Day in our family.  Here in the US, Boxing Day tends to fall into category two of Jo's 21st Century Boxing Day traditions which is "going mad in the Boxing Day sales or being forced to work to serve those mad people".  What I do on Boxing Day depends on where I am.  If I'm visiting my family, we tend to hit the after Christmas sales and then just relax and enjoy being together  That is changing a bit as my niece and nephew have both married and have homes of their own, but they do visit often.  If it is just The Hubs and me here in Virginia, there's a better than even chance that I'm working unless Boxing Day falls on a weekend.  No, I'm not one of those forced to serve the mad shoppers, but Christmas Day is the official holiday, so the office is back open bright and early on the 26th (Sounds like something Scrooge said to Bob Cratchit). Fortunately, we have had enough people that don't mind working the week of Christmas that most of us have been able to take time off.  I will be taking the week after Christmas off, so I will be doing a stitcher's Boxing Day which consists of stitching while working out a plan of attack on my stash and/or WIPs for the coming year.  That doesn't mean that I won't go out to torture the poor folks that have to work retail at some point that day.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

I finally found my stitching mojo!

I am very pleased to report that my stitching mojo has returned from its walk-about and I am taking advantage of it.

Yes, we have another release of:
Pure, unadulterated joy

Snowgirls from Country Garden Stitchery is done:

I have tried for the last 10 minutes or so to get this to flip but even though it is saved landscape it still posts here as portrait every time, so I gave up.  Anyway, it's stitched on 28-count Mulberry Mix from Silkweaver with the called for Weeks Dye Works, the Weeks Dye Works replacement for the Gloriana and Mill Hill beads.  I used the White Blending Filament in the center one, but did not like the look so didn't use it in the other two. If you do this piece, I would suggest two skeins of WDW Conch.  I ran out about 1/4 way through the third snowgirl.  It would have happened sooner but I alternately mixed one strand of Conch with one strand of DMC 4150 and then one strand of DMC 950. I finished it up mixing one strand of 4150 and one of 950.  Even if using the called for 30-count I don't think you would have enough.  Your mileage will obviously vary, but I am a fairly stingy stitcher and there isn't enough of a difference between 28- and 30-count to cause the shortage so early in the piece.

To celebrate my finish, I started Just Nan's Kari's Snowflake and got to here with it:

I'm doing the rose color way this pattern has three different color ways listed on a piece of 28-count Opalescent Desert Sky from Silkweaver with DMC.  I think this is going to be another quick stitch so maybe another finish this weekend.  I do need to think about getting the stocking for my in-laws started but it is so nice to have these finishes that it's very hard to go back to something that is going to take months to finish.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


I did it!  I crossed all the preparation things off my to-do list and two days earlier than I expected to.  The next big item on the list if going to the post office, but I won't do that until Saturday or Monday, so I have at least one day to relax.

So, the week went like this:  Sunday, I put the cards together.  I forgot to take a picture and they're all in envelopes and ready for mailing, so you'll have to take my word for it that they are beautiful.  :-)  On Monday I started in on the baking and crafting in earnest with a couple batches of cookies and the gift cards and small packages.  This year rather than make gift card presentation cards I decided to make and decorate the envelopes that hold the gift cards or small gifts.  Each one is different, but here are my two favorite gift card holders:

and here's my favorite small gift box:

This box is 1" square.  I did a little trimming after I took this photo so those little bits that are sticking out here are gone now.
Tuesday was a carbon copy of Monday.  Wednesday I did more baking and some finishing. 

I'm not thrilled with the shape of the heel, but at least it looks like a stocking and I finally framed 12 Days of Christmas from Plum Street Samplers.  I finished the stitching on this last November or December:

This was one of the more difficult pieces I have framed myself because of all the straight lines, but even if they were all wonky, I'd be happy because it's finally framed.

Today was wrapping of big gifts, packing shipping boxes and candy making day.  All the candy items were chocolate dipped, so lots of chilling, melting and waiting.  One of my recipes called for a couple tablespoons of heavy cream.  I'll be honest here, I normally throw out the remainder, but this year I decided that was too wasteful, so I poured it into a jar and started shaking it after I put the lid on.  In a few minutes, I had:

Yes, that's right about a half cup of butter.  I'm sure this isn't anything neat or new for many of you, but it's a first for me and I'm quite chuffed about it.

Now that everything is cleaned up and I've crossed all the extra things of my list, I'm feeling a bit let down.  In order to counter it, I pulled out an old WIP:

This is Snow Girls by Country Garden Stitchery and the last time I put a stitch in was something in February of 2012!! I've added a few stitches, but nothing much really, so will wait until I have something to show before I post a progress picture.  I plan to stitch this to a finish and then will start on my obligation stitching unless I change my mind again...

While walking to the mail box this afternoon, I saw this:

Yes, that's a dandelion flower with some sort of flying insect on it.  Yes, I live in the northern hemisphere and it is effectively December.  While I enjoy the warmer winters here in Virginia, I'm not sure I'm ready for one this warm.  Now that I've said something the bottom is going to drop out of the thermometer and we're going to have blizzard after blizzard.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Before I commence with the baking and crafting...

I must
I just love this picture and don't get to use it enough

and not for just one piece!!  Didn't see that coming did you?  A Glimpse of Santa is finished.  

None of the embellishments are the called for.  The original uses buttons and bangles that I could not find and I spent a lot of hours searching.  So off to Michaels I went and scoured their jewelry making section.  I found the moon charm which was a good replacement for the Mill Hill Treasure I wasn't going to do an on-line order for just that as I would have seen the shipping cost and decided to see how many other things I could order for the same cost and then, well, you know the story... I used Swarovski 4mm bi-cones to replace all the button ornaments on the tree and used DMC satin thread to stitch the lights rather than the called for buttons.  All in all I'm pleased with it.  One of my Black Friday stops was Joann's for fabric for the backing and I have a red and green that I am still trying to decide between.  

I finished the stocking Wednesday evening so decided to pull out one of my WIPs.  It was nice to stitch something that I wanted to rather than had to even though the *had* was something I put on myself.  The last time Just Nan's Florentine Floral made an appearance was October of 2015 and it looked like this:

today, it looks like this:

Because the button in the middle is so large and shiny my camera had a terrible time getting things right as it wanted to focus on just the button.  Anyway the fabric color is between these two pictures and the colors really sparkle against it.  I went through my Just Nan box and pulled out Kari's Snowflake to stitch next. 

In addition to sharing my finishes, this post is also my WIPocalypse and Smalls SAL check-in. 

WIPocalypse is hosted by Melissa at Measi's Musings.  A no stress, no pressure SAL, as Melissa says, it's for fun not a contest to encourage us to work on things we already have started. Both of the pieces I showed are on my WIPocalypse list.  Melissa is hosting again next year YAAAAAAA! and all the details are here.  She is also setting a challenge for herself to not only stitch WIPs but she is also going on a stashing wagon - no purchases except for bits and pieces to finish what she has or needles.  I will probably join her, although I do have another wedding piece to do yes, just when I thought I was done, The Hubs' niece announced her engagement last week so will have that on my list although if I start it now, it will be a WIP in 2018 won't it? Very helpfully, she gives us topics for discussion each month and this month's is:  What finishing style have you never tried but would love to do?  I've done a lot of finishing but the only thing I haven't tried yet is one of the Just Nan balls.  I have the pattern and fabric for Twilight Pearls but haven't started stitching it yet.  Here's a photo of a finished one:
It's been retired and I couldn't find a picture on the Just Nan website so a Google search found this one.  I'm looking forward to stitching and finishing of this one someday.

Smalls SAL is hosted by Heather at Stitching Lotus and is, as the name implies, an encouraging nudge to love some of those smaller pieces we have.  I am a BAP type of stitcher, so the reminder to stitch something small and actually finish pieces is helpful.  What's a small?  Well, you get to decide - isn't that a wonderful SAL?   I had been stitching The Sampler Life SAL pieces for this SAL and haven't touched that piece in ages, so I didn't think I had a check-in for this month, but when I finished Florentine Floral I looked at the stitch count and it is 53X53 so easily within my definition of a small.   I haven't checked in with a smalls finish since July so I'm thrilled to share one this month.  

I have taken this week off from work to start and finish my holiday preparations.  Just about everything has to be packed and mailed to Michigan, so I want to get it done and off.  I have a plan that should have everything done and dusted by Saturday and it all starts today with card and box making and decorating.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

November IHSW Check-in

Hermitting and stitching happened this weekend and because of that progress - lots and lots of progress!!

This is going to be short and sweet as I'd like to get another hour or two into the backstitching.

Friday A Glimpse of Santa was here:

and here's the toe area:

I could not find the called for light bulb buttons so I stitched them in DMC's satin floss - just enough shimmer to look like glass.

I had to roll the stocking back up so I could get to the backstitching so here's that portion:

A bit more on the little girl, the little boy and his teddy and that chair/stool and all the stitching will be done.  I found some 4mm Swarovski bicones that I think will work well as tree ornaments but will keep an eye out for alternatives as I'm out and about on Friday yes, for the first time in a long time I'm going to subject myself to Black Friday and all it's craziness.

Friday, November 17, 2017

IHSW and Gifted Gorgeousness

It's time for  and Gifted Gorgeousness!!  If you're interested in participating in IHSW, head on over to Random Ramblings or click Hermie on the left side up there at the top (the guy here in the post is just a picture).  Gifted Gorgeousness is hosted by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching and you can find all the details here or click on the badge up left there.
Grocery shopping tomorrow morning and I'll be just about done with the actual work part of the weekend.  I'm sure you'll have no trouble guessing what I'm hermitting with this weekend and it just happens to be my Gifted Gorgeousness entry - gotta love these two-for-one posts especially as I've been so bad at keeping up with this blog lately.

Yep, A Glimpse of Santa.  When last you saw our hero I showed it last, it was here:

And after last weekend's stitching time, it's here:

I had to roll it up a bit so I could get to the heel/toe area.  That kitten took  FOREVER.  Lots of confetti stitching, fractional stitches and fractional confetti!

Since I can see the end of this project, I'm planning my next one - another Christmas stocking.  This one for my in-laws.  It will have a picture of their German Shepherd puppy on it.  It's a special order from Heaven and Earth Designs so it's going to take some time and will be my focus and probably only piece next year and even with that I'm not sure I can finish it in time for Christmas 2018. 

I'll see you at the end of the weekend with my hermitting report.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


After all the craziness of the last few months, things are settling back into, dare I say?, normal (at least as normal as life ever really is).  While it's going to get crazy again as the holidays approach (WAY to fast), this time of year is typically slower - probably because the push to do outside and inside work is gone.  We had our first hard freeze this morning so the growing season is over and all that's left now is clean up.

I actually think I've got the coming holidays mostly in-hand.  Thanksgiving turkey is in the fridge defrosting, there's an amazing standing rib roast in the freezer waiting for Christmas and I've got my shopping lists all set (except for DSon's cookies - I have to finalize the list of what I'm making).  Now for the carry through...

Stitching progress was made last weekend.  A Glimpse of Santa went from here:

to here:

Amazing how something as simple as moving the phone can make such a difference. If I can keep this pace up I should have this finished, except for the embellishments, by Thanksgiving.  I'm off the week after for holiday prep, so would like "sew stocking" to be one of the items on the to-do list. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

So much...

When last I posted I was at the beginning of my vacation, today I'm at the end of it and have so much to post.

The trip to Michigan was wonderful.  It was great being with my family again, but the highlight was my DNiece's wedding.  Here's the new family:

And here's a photo so you can see her dress (everybody asks about the dress - the pearls are from my mother and are her something borrowed):

The new Mr. & Mrs. and a more experienced pair (DSis and DBIL)
Lots of smiles and laughter at the service and the reception afterwards.  In this post, I showed a piece of the pies that we were making for the table and thank yous.  Here's a picture of the front table with all of them:

Everyone got a lottery ticket and a lucky penny.  Didn't hear of anyone winning big, but everyone did go home at least a penny richer.  Here is my favorite picture of the entire day:

My father and my niece
I took a Dimensions plastic canvas kit with me in case there was stitching time.  I did get a bit of time and here's my start:

You can see the package photo through the canvas. 

And while I was in Michigan, I saw the handiwork of someone who was much more ambitious than I:

Yes, that's a crocheted tire cover.  It's done with, as best I could tell, rip cord.

For the first time in months (about four) I'm posting for WIPocalypse.  WIPocalypse is hosted by Melissa at Measi's Musings.  It's an easy SAL, work on a WIP during the month and post about it on the last Sunday of each month.  It definitely has kept me focused over the years and she just announced that she's going to continue into 2018 - Yaaaaaa!!!!!!!  Mel gives us questions each month to help to get to know the other posters.  This month's question is:  How did you begin stitching?  That is easy - my Mom.  My first exposure to stitching was with those stitching cards that some of us of a certain age will remember.  When I was 5 or 6, Mom started me on stamped cross stitch and taught me surface embroidery.  Forward a number of years and while talking Mom mentioned that she'd tried counted cross stitch and thought that I might like it - the rest, as they say, is history. 

The only piece I'm working on from my WIPocalypse list is A Glimpse of Santa.  It was here on my last post:

Today it's here:

I didn't really settle in to stitching until Wednesday, so I'm very happy with the progress. A bit upset with myself for not settling in sooner, but I did identify the block to my stitching when I do finally sit down - my phone.  I didn't realize how much stitching time I was losing until I left my phone in the kitchen one afternoon.  I figured out I would stitch a bit, pick up my phone and play through my five lives on Candy Crush and Bubble Witch (yes I'm still playing them), then do a quick email check, then look something up on the internet, and then back to the games and pretty soon hours had passed and nothing, stitching or otherwise, accomplished.  I have left my phone in another room the last two days and haven't really missed it.

I let the housework slide the last couple weeks, so today has been housework, laundry, banking book updating and blogging.  Once dinner is finished and the kitchen cleaned up, I plan to sit and stitch.  Back to work tomorrow, but I am working from home, so I get a chance to ease back into it.  In all honesty, there won't be a lot of actual work happening tomorrow as I will have two weeks of emails to sort and respond to.