31 December 2016

Saturday Sampler: New Year's Eve Edition

The mailman brought some lovely goodies this week! Fox stash from Robin in Virginia! Gorgeous cards, and a beautiful scissor fob/needle minder set... thank you, Robin!

And a stunning New Year card from my cousin in Texas, showing Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden.

I did some work organizing my Wildflowers collection. Since I use this thread as a substitute for other types of threads, I don't pay any attention to color names or numbers; I just choose colors I like, so I grouped them by color family. When I need a green, I can just pull my green bundle (on the green ring!) and choose what I want. (The dowel is just to make them easier to photograph. I store them in a box.) I found the colored book rings on Amazon.

We had our first snow on Friday! This will never not be exciting! 

Tiger Lily got a cozy new bed, so she's ready for winter.

Mixing up a quick batch of cookies for New Year munching.

Thanks for visiting my blog this year. I wish all of you a happy, healthy new year with oodles and oodles of finishes!


27 December 2016

It's Stitchy Planning Week!

This is my favorite week of the year. The hustle and bustle of Christmas has quieted down, and everyone and everything seems to just draw a deep breath and exhale slowly. Christmas has passed, and we re-discover--as we do every year--that all the stuff we didn't get done didn't really matter too much. While there seems to be a headlong plunge toward Christmas, there is a casual stroll toward the New Year. We're looking forward to it, but there's no pressure to get anything done. The house is still (relatively) clean and decorated. The fridge is stocked with leftovers. The counter is (too) full of sweet treats that seem to materialize from everywhere. There is a lull in activity, and things around the house are in pretty good shape. It's the one week of the year where the domestic planets align and there is... not much to do. This opportunity must be seized. This is my week. Stitchy Planning Week.

Santa has been and gone, and left goodies in our stockings. Somehow, he knows how I feel about Caron Wildflowers and Bohin needles. Santa knows everything...

...he even knew Tiger Lily needed a new collar. 

I was able to get Mr. Wonderful's 2016 ornament stitched, but not finished. My rule is, as long as it's finished before I take down the Christmas tree (usually a few days after the New Year), it's not late. It's a good rule. This is from the 2016 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue, and it's stitched on 32 ct. Vintage Country Mocha.

Now I turn my attention to planning for 2017. (For my thoughts on the importance of planning and looking forward, see this post. 

For years and years, the week between Christmas and the New Year has been mine. Every year, during this week, I go through my entire stash--charts, magazines, kits--and look at everything. Now, my stash isn't nearly as large as some. I know there are a lot of stitchers with thousands of charts who keep a detailed inventory on the 'puter. Mine is pretty small. Magazine collection on the left, charts on the right. My charts are organized by subject, subjects in alphabetical order.

And here's my box of kits. I have a fox kit problem, but we'll talk about that later.

Last year when I went through my magazines, I was (finally) smart enough to make a list of all the designs I was interested in stitching someday, so that I don't have to page through every magazine each time. I still love to pull out magazines and look through them, but for Stitchy Planning Week purposes, it's easier to just consult my list. 

So during the week, I just leisurely play in my stash. I pull out all the things I think I really need to get stitched in the coming year. I let them lie all over my sewing room floor for a day or so... sleep on my decisions... look at the piles... make notes... refer to a calendar... plan, plan, plan. I just enjoy myself. (While I'm going through my stash, I also weed out whatever I don't want anymore. Since I do this every year, it's usually only a few things, but it does keep my stash pared down and manageable.) At some point, I come to my senses and re-file some of it. I know I'll never finish everything I've chosen for the year, but that's not the point (see the post I linked to above). When I think I'm happy with my choices, I divide my pile into stacks by months of the year. I like to stitch one season ahead, so for example, I like to stitch fall and Halloween in the summer. Then I file everything in a big three-ring binder that holds 12 folders with pockets, one for each month. And then I start working my way through my projects.

That's Stitchy Planning Week. I always start the New Year with a freshly purged stash and a notebook full of charts to stitch, all tidy and organized. Sometimes I stay on schedule all the way into the spring! Usually around July, I do a re-assessment of my notebook... add stuff, remove stuff, shuffle stuff around. Of course, there are always new must-have designs being released. Of course, things come up and I don't touch a needle for weeks. Of course, I change my mind. Of course. But what never changes is the fun I have during this week.

However you decide to start the Stitching New Year, I hope you find your happy place.

24 December 2016

Saturday Sampler: Christmas Eve Edition

Look who arrived all the way from New Zealand, just in time for Christmas! This darling fox ornament was made for me by Kay in NZ. Thank you, Kay!

From our home to yours, on Christmas Eve... Merry Christmas!

21 December 2016

More Tea Box Bookmarks

A couple of years ago I posted about an idea I had for making bookmarks out of tea boxes. You can read that post here. These are the first two I made.

I can't believe it's been two years since I've made any, and I always intended to make more because... this is my tea cupboard! Plenty of boxes to work with!

I've finally made some more bookmarks. Big, glittery, ribbony ones like those above, and some smaller, quieter ones.  For the big ones, I use the whole front of the box. For the smaller ones, I use just the top tab. As far as I know, only Twinings has this top tab with the neat shape that just screams, "Bookmark!" (It screams that to me, anyway. Probably doesn't scream that to anyone else. Probably just says, "Box of tea" to normal people.)

I laminate the little ones using these Xyron laminating sheets, which come in different sizes. I don't laminate the big ones because I like to use glitter paper and it would be tough to get a nice look. You could laminate the big ones if you just used the boxes with no backing paper, or if the backing paper was not textured.

Finished product. These bookmarks, both large and small, are super quick and easy to make. They'd be nice little gifts or stocking stuffers or card tuck-ins for your favorite reader or tea nut.

As for the big, splashy ones...

There are tons of colors of glitter paper, with varying sizes of glitter and different textures. My favorite is the super fine grain glitter paper, but it's not as readily available as the others. Doesn't matter. Any of them will give a nice result.

Fox alert! See 'em?

You could cover the backs with pretty scrapbook paper, but I don't bother if I'm just making them for myself. Because both the box paper and the glitter paper are heavy, it helps to weigh them down with something heavy until the glue is dry to prevent curling. Make sure the glue is spread in a thin, even coating to prevent bumps and bubbles. Apart from the time it takes for the glue to dry, these can be made very quickly. I made half a dozen in less than an hour. Great for gifts.

19 December 2016

Christmas Basket

You can see my Autumn Basket here.

17 December 2016

Saturday Sampler: Icy Edition

It has been too long since we had a Saturday Sampler! This morning we woke up to ice...

But it was cozy as ever inside...

I even have a couple of new friends to watch over my stitching. Look who showed up yesterday! This is a gift from fellow stitcher Janet in Iowa. Isn't he adorable? He is sooo soft. I named him Henry. Thank you, Janet!

And this is Harald the Viking. He's a chart magnet and he is too much, y'all. He's from Nordic Needle. I knew my collection of stitchy tools was missing something, and it turned out to be a Viking, of course. 

And here are bands 7 and 8 of the Never Ending Sampler.
Band 7/Juniper: Copper, Moss, Mill Hill beads #2070
Band 8/Snow: Arctic Frost, Mill Hill beads #479

Finally, flowers from Mr. Wonderful to mark 16 years today.

Happy Stitching, everyone! Stay cozy!

15 December 2016

Sometimes I just go off the rails...

I needed an ornament for a white elephant ornament exchange for an upcoming Air Force spouses Christmas party. And, well...

I make no excuses for myself. It's totally weird and off-the-wall and awesome. Mr. Wonderful laughed out loud when he saw it, so I think I hit the right tone. Since I know y'all will suddenly have a powerful urge to make your own bizarre glittery critter ornaments, I'll give you a couple of pointers.

You need a plastic beastie, anything will do (obviously). This T-rex came from Michael's. Mr. Wonderful asked me how I decided on a T-rex, and I said, "Well, I could've done something elegant, like a deer, but why do that when you can do a T-rex?" So yes, you could make these really elegant (deer, birds, etc.) and use pretty glitter colors, but... 

The other thing you need is a screw eye. These are found in the framing department of craft stores with all the picture framing and hanging supplies. 

These beasties are solid (and heavy), so it may seem like the screw won't go in, but once it bites into the plastic, it goes in just fine. You do need to have fairly strong hands, though. 

Now how, you ask, do you make sure your masterpiece hangs level? Nothing easier. Tie some string around the beastie and hold it up. Adjust the string along the body until you find the center of gravity, the point where it hangs level. Mark the spot and insert the screw eye.

As you can see, Tiger Lily was a little... perplexed. 

So that's it. Now all you do is coat the beastie with a thin layer of glue and glitter him. For this project, you don't want a glue that is very tacky. It needs to be thin enough to spread easily into all the little nooks and crannies. A foam craft brush with a wedge tip is perfect for this. Once you're sure the glue is completely dry (let it sit overnight), you can hit him with a light coat of acrylic sealer to minimize glitter transfer. I used The Tree House Studio's Clear Acrylic Gloss Coating, found at Hobby Lobby. Do the sealing outside, and let the beastie dry outside. Then add whatever festive notes you like (hat, wreath, dishes, food are all from Michael's). 

Pretty sure this will be the only glittery-blue-Air-Force-dinosaur-wearing-a-Santa-hat-and-a wreath-and-enjoying-cookies-and-cocoa ornament at the exchange. I hate to part with him. I think I'll make another one for Mr. Wonderful's desk at work.