28 April 2016

Snowfire Christmas Update #2

Thanks so much for the kind words about Snowfire Christmas, and about my homemade stitch diagram. That was a first for me, and it's gratifying to know it was helpful to some.

Here's where I am as of last night... I'm so close, y'all!

In choosing the color for the words, I fiddled with all of the colors in the sampler: a paler shade of grey, white, two shades of green, two shades of red. I wanted the words to blend in to the sampler instead of dominate it, so I chose the darker grey. I also toyed with the idea of using a more elaborate alphabet and stitching the words over one, but I decided I enjoy being sane and opted for a simpler alphabet stitched over two. I'm so glad I did, because just stitching the "and" over one was plenty of over one stitching for me.

So. teeny.

I had a great deal of assistance from the Stitchy Supervisor while working on this section. Not sure how I could have done it without her. Standing on the chart:

Lying down on the chart:

Dozing off on the chart:

Baffing on the chart:

Making sure the chart is marked correctly:

Such a lot of supervising. 

I hope, hope, my next update will be a finish. I'm going out of town on Saturday and wanted to have this WIP done before I leave, but there's a row of elaborate beaded snowflakes standing between me and the finish. We'll see. Stay tuned!

26 April 2016

Snowfire Christmas Update

I set a goal for myself to finish my two main WIPs before I allowed myself any new starts. After finishing Woodland Sampler, I turned my attention to Snowfire Christmas. If you're just joining me, this is a Just Nan sampler that I've changed the fabric and colors on and converted to my wedding sampler. I finished a couple more bands and have started stitching our names and wedding date. I so wish y'all could see this sampler in person.

Robin in Virginia asked a question about how to do the Rice stitch variation (second to last band). I searched for a diagram of this particular variation--there are so many--but I couldn't find one exactly like it. Rather than post a picture of the stitch diagram on the back of the chart (copyright violation?), I just decided to make my own. It's not very sophisticated, but hopefully it gets the information across. I intentionally photographed the stitches in low light because it makes them easier to see. 

To make it easier to follow the progression of the stitch, I drew the various sections on separate stitches... otherwise it would have looked like a blob of pink lines!

From left to right:
1) The first part of the stitch is a large cross stitch, 3 stitches high x 3 stitches wide (when stitching over two). The first leg of the stitch is top left down to bottom right; the second leg of the stitch is top right down to bottom left.
2) The corners are stitched in the order they are shown: top left, bottom left, bottom right, top right. The individual stitches are stitched shortest to longest.
3) The last element of the stitch is the "+" over the center of the large cross stitch. The vertical stitch is done first, top to bottom; the horizontal stitch is done last, left to right.

Clear as mud? It's really not a difficult stitch, just a bit tedious when you're doing a million of them. If my instructions are lacking--and I'm sure they are--I think once you start fiddling with the real thing, as opposed to just reading about it, you'll get it. 

I'm doing our names and wedding date now, and after that all that will be left is another row of big, sparkly snowflakes. So close...

23 April 2016

Saturday Sampler: Azalea Edition

Last Saturday, Mr. Wonderful and I went for a quick weekend away. We spent a lot of time bundled up on a freezing cold beach watching the sea (okay, not technically freezing, but really cold) and at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA. The azaleas were losing their minds.

And one of my favorites... looking up at the sun through the lacy foliage of a Japanese Maple. I'm going to have one of these someday.

So that was last Saturday. This Saturday I'm back to my Wedding Sampler after a (way too long) break. I'm tackling a band of modified Rice stitches. Three down, a zillion more to go.

I have moral support at the ready.

Happy Saturday, and Happy Stitching!

19 April 2016

Woodland Sampler Finish!

Here they are--the last two blocks!

I made quite a few changes to the December block:
house: 919
snow on roof: B5200
roof: 645
window/door frames: 938
door: 780
windows: 972
December: 156 (same as the other winter months)

The banner is stitched with DMC 156 and instead of snowflakes beneath it, I stitched my initials.

And here's the completed sampler!

The colors in this sampler are so bright and cheerful, the camera really isn't doing them justice.

One more WIP to knock out before I allow myself some new starts!

13 April 2016

The Magic of the Tea Tray

I am a hardened tea drinker. I think there are about 40 varieties of tea in my tea cupboard (yes, the tea has it's own cupboard). I will drink hot tea when it's 90 degrees and I will drink iced tea in a blizzard. I just love tea, of all kinds, hot or iced, in any weather. But my usual way of drinking tea is a mug or two in the morning while I'm doing other things. I am always "fizzing around" (as my mother says)... I am one of those people who have to work at relaxing. One of my long-term "life WIPs" is learning to relax; not just to stop, but to relax.

I've had a favorite teacup for many years. Several years ago I bought a little teapot to match it. And they just sat in a cupboard. Why? Oh, lots of the usual reasons a busy person has for not taking an extra 30-45 minutes to do something just for them. That 30-45 minutes could be used to... do something else that needs doing. One of the things I constantly have to remind myself of is that relaxing is "something else that needs doing." For years I struggled with this concept to the point that I wouldn't sit and stitch unless everything else was done. While I've gotten better about allowing myself stitching time, I can always stand further improvement. 

A couple of months ago I bought a tea tray. A few weeks after that, I found a couple of tea towels that match my teacup and teapot. Last week I found and ordered an adorable little creamer & sugar set. (Do you see me slowly and carefully sneaking up on this relaxation thing?) 

At long last... behold! My tea tray:

The magic of this tea tray is that it is one of the very few things that can bring me to a screeching halt. It has that weird sedative/stimulant effect that stitching has. It is at the same time both calming and invigorating. Perhaps it is invigorating because it is calming. It makes sense as the reverse of the effect it is meant to counter: busyness is draining. Pressing the pause button on busyness allows time for our batteries to recharge. Everyone knows this... the trick is finding not just what makes you stop, but what makes you relax.

I was pondering all of this and I realized that for me, there is much about taking the time to make up a proper tea tray that resembles getting a project ready to stitch: putting together my favorite things, getting everything prepared, anticipating the enjoyment of sitting quietly and doing something that relaxes me. With stitching, collecting my supplies is one of my favorite parts of the process. I've learned that taking the time to prepare a pretty tea tray is just as much fun as actually sitting down and drinking my tea. The preparation time (a whole five minutes!) was partially what was keeping me from indulging--"I'll just boil the kettle and have a quick mug"--and yet it's the preparation time that heightens the enjoyment. It feels special. Things that are special take time, as every stitcher knows.

Here's my favorite teacup... a thick, heavy, diner china. I have a gorgeous tea set of Russian porcelain that was a wedding gift, but for my every day tea tray, this is my favorite. It was made by Sterling China of Ohio.

Here's my fat little teapot in a cheerful cobalt blue. I can get three cups out of this, which is just perfect for just me. This teapot comes in lots of colors and is available here

My tiny new creamer & sugar set... the perfect size to fit on my tea tray, available on Amazon. 

And a sweet little spoon rest I've had for years. I don't remember where it came from.

And that's my magical tea tray. It's very simple, very inexpensive, very casual. The most valuable things about it are the time invested in it and the calm it creates... just like my stitching. 

07 April 2016

Mama and Babies

These little finishes are the last of the series by Cathy Jean of Victoria Sampler. I've stitched them all: the Woodland Babies, the Woodland Birdies, and the Farmyard Babies. As with the other Farmyard Babies, I stitched them on grass instead of snow for a springtime look. 

These, along with the other Farmyard Babies, will probably end up as a wall-hanging of some sort, as will the Woodland set of babies and birds. I really enjoyed stitching all of these quick, colorful, cheerful little critters, and I'm a bit sad to come to the end of the series (the designer has retired). But it does make way for me to take up a new one. I'm dedicating the month of April to finishing up a couple of my larger WIPs, so I can justify some new starts.

Stay tuned, and Happy Stitching!

01 April 2016