19 February 2020

Winter in the Sewing Room

Hello, y'all! It's been quiet here on the ol' blog but I've been busy-busy stitching and stalking the Nashville Market previews for new must-have stash. I usually don't post pics of stash until I have it in my mitts but I am so. excited. about this gorgeous new sampler. I'm not a big sampler gal, but this one stole my heart. This is Huckleberry Farm by Blue Flower. I am a huge fan of huckleberries, and this sampler takes me back to where I first experienced them, in Sequoia National Park in California (bears and all!). Huckleberry tea is my absolute favorite. I just love this sampler. The colors, the composition, all the critters (see the chipmunks and hummingbirds?).  Lovely.

I was so wild about it that I already ordered and received my fabric! This is the suggested fabric, PTP Shale. I think I did a pretty good job of capturing the color (it helps to give the camera a little white to look at). It's a very unusual, very pretty purplish grey. 

I've been putting in a few hours of work a week on Russian Hunt. I'm also working on this. Hmmm... what could this be? Stay tuned for updates on both of these projects.

I'm getting lots of support from the Stitchy Supervisor. I don't know how she snoozes with my stitching light in her face, but she does.

Winter dollhouse is up. You can check out my other seasonal dollhouses by clicking on the label at the end of this post.

I am having a fit to get some finishing done. I have a stack, y'all. A stack. I'm trying to get to a certain point on that mysterious piece I showed above, and when I do, I plan to take a break from stitching and plunge into the finishing pile. Hope to have a lot of new lovelies to share over the next few weeks.

I guess most stitchers have their favorite sites for Market previews, but in case you don't, here are a few good ones. These usually start posting in mid-January, and gradually fill up as designers release preview photos. You'll see a lot of overlap, but there are a few things that might be shown on one site that aren't on others. They're updated regularly, so keep checking back to see if there's anything you can't live without. Market is 6-8 March.

Stitches 'n Things

Reflections Framing & Stitching

The Black Cat Stitchery

Enjoy window shopping and Happy Stitching!

07 February 2020

Snowflakes & Scissors

I've had this pretty little freebie in my stash for some time and finally got it stitched. I think it turned out so pretty. It's from the old Patrick's Woods blog. I wanted to share it here so I hunted high and low for it on the interwebs and finally found it here. I stitched it on 28 ct. Natural Brown Undyed linen (a favorite neutral) using DMC B5200, Weeks Pelican Gray, and CC Wild Berries. I also added a few micro mini buttons to the scissors.

Also, I have cake.

I usually bake from scratch but I am not a food snob. A box of cake mix is a good thing to have tucked away in the pantry for cake emergencies. Since there are only two of us to eat cake, I divide the mix in half and bake a small cake in an 8" square pan. Depending on the brand of cake mix you use, you may need to adjust the amounts of water, oil, and eggs, but here's the math for halving a cake mix:

Half of a 15.25 oz. Cake Mix

1 1/4 c. + 3 Tablespoons + 1 tsp. cake mix
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. oil
2 eggs

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. 
*Do use an entire container of frosting on your wee cake. You're welcome.
*Do use sprinkles. It's very important.
*Seal up the remainder of the mix nice and tight and write the date you opened it on the box. 

Back to stitching! Thanks so much for all the kind words and encouragement about Russian Hunt. It's coming along nicely. I'm also about to start another longish project that I'll work on throughout the year, but it's not nearly as large or involved as Russian Hunt. More about that soon.

Happy Stitching!

01 February 2020

It Has Begun

Behold! I have finally started Russian Hunt! I promised myself I'd start it in January, and with a few hours of the month remaining, I put in the first stitches. I can't believe I have actually started this massive project. Since it's fully stitched, I chose Aida. I wanted the fabric to have a lot of stiffness and body for such a large piece. Besides the subject matter, one of the things I love about this design is that unlike many large projects, it's not heavily pixelated; it's made up of smooth swaths of color, like brushstrokes, and there are very few confetti stitches. I'm already enjoying stitching it.

I circled the area I'm working on. 

So, I'm off. Not exactly off and running... more of a casual stroll. No deadline. A fellow-stitcher once described this type of project as a "7-11 project: not always doing business, but always open." I thought that was brilliant. For a control enthusiast like myself, there is something a bit daunting but also a bit therapeutic about taking on such an open-ended, who-knows-when, type of project. Getting lost in--and enjoying--the process takes precedence over the finish, which is years away (Lord willing). I have lots of deep thoughts about this but they're best summed up in the Chinese proverb:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The journey has begun...

29 January 2020

Forest Tale

 Another winter finish! Isn't this a lovely and unique little design? This is called Forest Tale and it's available in this Etsy shop along with lots of other wee bottles with all kinds of things in them--something for everyone. I stitched mine on 28 ct. Cornflower Blue Jobelan and it finished up at 1 1/4" wide by 3 3/4" high. I stayed pretty close to the recommended colors, except that I did tone the greens down a bit, and instead of black for the backstitching, I used DMC 938 for the fox and cork, and DMC 04 for the bottle. I wanted a softer look than the black created.

Here's a tip for stitching on really small, odd-sized scraps of fabric. I try to be frugal with my fabric usage and I save even the smallest scraps. Since I stitch a lot of small things, they're always coming in handy. I have a couple of strong preferences about the way I stitch that I never depart from:

1: I never stitch in-hand. I like my fabric nice and taut. For me, having the fabric taut is key to making pretty stitches that lie smoothly, and to getting backstitching to lie where I want it. I also really dislike handling my fabric that much. I iron my fabric before I put it on the q-snaps, and I don't wash finished projects. Which leads me to my next "never"...

2: I never place q-snap clamps or hoops over any of my stitches. I like to have the entire design fit within the q-snap or hoop. This way, when I take the finished project off the q-snaps, it's ready to finish or frame. No washing or ironing required.

Now, on an oddly-shaped, very small scrap of fabric like this, it's hard to accommodate those preferences. The fabric is too small to fit normally in a 6" q-snap (the smallest). The design is too large to fit "un-smooshed" into a 3" hoop. The fabric is too narrow to be grasped properly all the way around by a 4" hoop so it can't be held taut. Whatever to do? 


I always use strips of white felt (with glitter, thank you very much) under my q-snap clamps to keep my fabric as taut as possible. It also helps to grasp smaller pieces of fabric. Turned corner to corner and clamped with felt, this scrap of fabric is held tightly enough, even along the edges that aren't under the clamps. I figured this out some time ago but never remembered to share. It's not especially clever, it's just one of those things that you don't think about until you've run into a scrap of fabric that just won't cooperate. So there's a little tip for the 3 or 4 of you out there who share my particular combination of likes and dislikes!

One of these days, I'll tell y'all about my reaction to watching a video of someone stitching in-hand using the sewing method. I had to avert my eyes! *snort*

Stay cozy and Happy Stitching, all (no matter how you stitch)!

23 January 2020

Winter Train

We are in deep winter here on the Great Plains and I am really enjoying my winter stitching. When I saw this design--Christmas Train by The Posy Collection--I was captivated! The image of a steam train rushing through a winter night is so evocative and this little kit captures it perfectly. I stitched it with most of the included DMC, but swapped out the red for GAST Buckeye Scarlet and the greens for GAST Otter Creek and Weeks Blue Spruce. I also used the new Zweigart 32 ct. Basalt Splash I showed in my last post (kit and fabric available at 123 Stitch). 

Since I wanted a winter design I could display for several months, I left off the wreath on the front of the train and the star and french knots on the tree. And about that tree: I got the subtle, piney look by using the mismatched method I described in this post. (I confess to never following the "cross each stitch as you go when using variegated threads" rule and I often mismatch the strands if I'm stitching something with a lot of texture like trees or fur.) I love this little design. I think I may frame it, which is not something I usually do for ornament-sized designs. 

Tiger Lily has had a lot of snow to watch lately. Her favorite window is in Mr. Wonderful's office upstairs overlooking the back yard where it's nice and quiet, but I did manage to get a shot of her looking out a downstairs front window. She doesn't do it often because she doesn't like cars, and snowplows are particularly scary! This is a moment of bravery!

BONUS CONTENT: Mr. Bun says, "Hi." He still visits every day unless the weather is especially bad. Shows up in the morning and goes home about dusk. We chat every morning when I come downstairs. This morning when I took his picture I told him he was about to be world-famous. 

14 January 2020

Sneaking up on the New Year

Breaking news: I'm back and I have a finish. I repeat: I'm back and I have a finish. 

Happy New Year, everybody! Grab your favorite hot beverage and snuggle down because we have a lot to catch up on!

I've finally emerged from the fog that was December. I didn't bounce back from the strep throat (and the trip) as quickly as I'd hoped. If it had been one or the other I think I would have, but both at the same time knocked me out for a while. This beautiful little design shouldn't have taken as long as it did, but I just poked at it now and then when I felt like it so it took a few weeks. Believe in Magic is available in this Etsy shop. I stayed pretty close to the suggested colors, except I swapped out the blue for GAST Weathered Barn. This is stitched on 28 ct. PTP Wren with GAST: Oatmeal, Baked Clay, Weathered Barn, Maple Syrup, and Wood Trail, and Weeks Garrison Green. More subdued than my usual color choices, but I like it. It's peaceful and quiet.

My 2019 blog book arrived last week! This is one of my cherished New Year traditions, having the previous year's posts turned into a book. I use Blog2Print and have always had excellent results. They often have great discount codes on Facebook and Twitter, so if you decide to have a book made, make sure to take advantage of those.

New fabric ALERT! This gorgeous grey fabric is new from Zweigart. It's called Basalt Splash and is available at 123 Stitch. I ordered a small piece back in early December just to get a good look at it and liked it so much I ordered (and just received) a larger piece. It's a bit darker and not quite as blue as this photo. I'd say it's a bit more bluish than DMC 04 but not quite as bluish as DMC 414. A nice, dark grey. Lovely color. Already have a project chosen for it.

Wee fabric bundles from my LNS. It's like choosing chocolates from a candy box!

It's been years since I've bought a regular issue of JCS magazine, but the February issue has a few winter projects that caught my eye. I have plans for this one!

I'm knee-deep in winter stitching--or about to be--but I couldn't resist this little spring sheep and all his lovely green shamrocks. I have no power to resist green fabrics and threads.

My Christmas treat for myself was a couple of new Russian kits from this Etsy shop. It's a rare treat indeed because the shipping will make your eyes water (though the kits themselves are often less expensive than American kits), but I have ways to justify it! (Let me know if you need reasons!) I've raved about my love for Russian kits before, and at length. For my taste, there's just nothing in the American market that compares right now. The designs are beautiful, colorful, and detailed. The kits are well-made with huge charts. And there are oodles of them available on Etsy. The one on the right is a particular favorite. New Year designs are few and far between and I just love this one.

Everybody knows about the devastating brushfires Australia is battling. But you may not know that there's a growing list of designers and shops working to raise donations for relief efforts. The fund raising efforts vary, from designs like this one that are free, with the shop making a donation for each stitched finish, to designs offered for sale, with the proceeds going to fire relief. I've chosen to stitch this one first. Once finished, you simply share a photo of your finish with the shop--via email, Facebook, Instagram--by 29 February, and they'll make a donation. 

Here are a few more fire relief efforts from designers/shops:

Links to three designs here 

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

Heaven and Earth Designs (only available until 13 February)


The Little Stitcher

Tiger Lily breezed through her trip to Texas and had a lovely Christmas with a fat stocking. Santa brought her a pretty new orange collar, with glow-in-the-dark snowflakes!

So that gets us all caught up on the stitchy happenings at my house. Hope your new year is off to a safe and peaceful start. Many prayers being offered on behalf of our Aussie friends. Mr. Wonderful has served with Aussies and has nothing but good to say about them. I wish we could send y'all some of our snow and ice.

Happy Stitching, all! (And don't forget to stitch a koala or two!)

26 December 2019

It's the most wonderful week of the year!

It's Stitchy Planning Week! Long-time readers are nodding their heads, new readers are wondering what all the fuss is about. If you need to catch up on this most wonderful tradition of mine, you can check out this post and this one. It's that time of year when I take a whole week to wallow in my stash and plan for the next year's stitching. It's so fun. It's only  the first day, so I haven't plunged headfirst into my stash yet, but I do have a few ideas for next year that I've been chewing on for a while.

I'm feeling the need to snuggle down and do some wintry stitches early in the year. Not Christmas, but winter. I love winter, but my stitching focus always seems to be Christmas, and I did Christmas ornaments all year this year. So winter it is. I've got a couple more small Christmas projects I'd like to finish up before the New Year first, though. I did manage to get my 2019 ornament stitched, and hope to get it finished this week. This is from the 2019 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue. I stayed close to the original thread colors, but swapped them out for DMC Etoile so it would be really sparkly. The fabric is sparkly, too.

I also haven't stitched any Halloween in a very long time, and I've got a backlog of cute designs that need attention. Halloween here in our new neighborhood is a big deal and we had such a nice evening with oodles of little trick-or-treaters, it really made me want to do some new Halloween projects. So I hit upon a theme for my summer stitching: Summer of Halloween! Just Halloween, all summer. I think that'll be fun. I spend all summer looking forward to fall anyway! Mr. Wonderful knew I was planning this, and made sure there were a handful of beautiful fallish threads in my Christmas stocking!

I think I'll also finally tackle my dream project, Russian Hunt. If you've been here for a while, you'll remember this project that was supposed to be a New Year start a couple of years ago (here are a few posts about it). I ran into a couple of delays and never got going on it, but I'd like to take another run at it. 

So those are a few of my ideas for next year, and I'm sure I'll be adding to them as the week goes on. If you'd like to begin a Stitchy Planning Week tradition of your own but think there's no way you can manage to take a week during the holidays for it, don't think you can't do it at all. Keep in mind: 1) it doesn't have to be a whole week, and 2) it doesn't have to be during the holidays. Adapt it to whatever you need it to be. If January is much slower for you, do it in January. If summers are better, do it in the summer. Do it for your birthday. If a week is too long, make it a Stitchy Planning Weekend. It's so much fun to drag out all your stash and play with it and plan projects. Make it a tradition just for you. 

I'm off to spend the week in my sewing room! Stay tuned for SPW updates!