30 October 2017

Playing with Jax Update: Lace Pumpkin

Remember in my last post, when I said the black seemed too harsh, and that I was sort of unintentionally ending up with a purple conversion of Playing with Jax? Well, that Lace Pumpkin stitched in black and grey in the original got a makeover. It's now purple.

My changes:

Lace Pumpkin (right front pumpkin):
310--changed to-->3740

This is the fun of playing with color. Sometimes when you start changing things, you end up going in directions you never even thought of when you started. It turns an enjoyable but predictable stitch into a mini voyage of discovery, and that's one of the main things that keeps me from falling into stitching "slumps." I love experimenting with color and I love the surprises that come with those experiments. Yep, I was surprised by this purple pumpkin!

Speaking of surprises, the day before Mr. Wonderful left I got a goody box from my mom that contained these little cuties (yes, there's candy in that trick-or-treat bag!).

Aren't they adorable? They are so cute I just started laughing when I unwrapped them. They're about 5" high and she makes them from kits she gets from Mary Maxim. They arrived just in time for my Halloween scary movie marathon!

Well, Tiger Lily and I have been on our own for a few days now, and so far, so good. We had a major storm last night (no damage, thankfully) and it has turned cold. Here's what you do when your nose is cold but you have a fluffy tail you can use as a scarf:

I'm down to the last pumpkin on Playing with Jax, and then I'll have to make some decisions on the border--whether to stitch it as-is or fiddle with it. I'm still on track to have a finish soon, and then I can get going on my Joy projects. I'm looking forward to those!

27 October 2017

Playing with Jax Update: Quilt and Sampler Pumpkins

First of all, thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post about Mr. Wonderful being gone for six weeks. I really appreciate them. I told him that since he will be gone, we'll probably have a freak November snowstorm and I'll come down with my quadrennial cold. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly, because if you are or have ever been a military wife, you know what happens when the guys leave!

Anyway, I'm speeding along on Playing with Jax, trying to finish up by the end of the month so I can plunge into my Joy projects. Three pumpkins down, two to go! 

My changes:

Quilt Pumpkin (left front pumpkin):
310--changed to--> 3011
Sampler Pumpkin (left back pumpkin):
letters-->Autumn Bouquet (stitched using the mismatched method; see this post)

My thinking behind the changes I'm making is not so much a color conversion as a color adjustment. I wanted the overall look of all the pumpkins to be closer to the silk used in the leaves on Forest Pumpkin, so I'm making changes as I go, as opposed to plotting out in advance an entirely new color scheme, as I would with a conversion. Forest Pumpkin has a "soft" look to it, and when I started stitching the Quilt Pumpkin, the black in it seemed too harsh so I switched it to dark green. In the original chart, the black is nicely balanced with the black features on the center pumpkin. I also used the silk in the letters on the Sampler Pumpkin, to tie them together a bit. 

I'm happy with how this is going so far. Although I didn't really intend it, it looks like it's turning out to be a "purple conversion" of Playing with Jax. I hope to have it finished by the beginning of November. Stay tuned!

25 October 2017

Joy, y'all.

Here's the latest news: Tiger Lily and I will be unsupervised for six weeks. Six. Weeks.

Now, many of you know, Mr. Wonderful is active duty military. This is not an unusual occurrence, nor is it an unusually long time to be separated. This is routine training and is nothing like a deployment (those are dreadful). But it is the longest we've been separated in quite a while, and the timing is... not so great. So, I was less than happy about this news. 

But, duty calls--both his and mine. His is to go, mine is to hold the fort. And if you've been here a while, you'll know that Tiger Lily and I hold the fort in a rather spectacular fashion (an example: Stitchapalooza). There is always lots of stitching, baking, crafting, finishing... all sorts of stuff. Though we try to make the most of it, I was feeling pretty gloomy about this one, so I decided my theme would be "joy." Lots of "joy" stitching. Yes.

I already had a "joy" project on my to-do list, and an on-going "joy" ornament set I'd started,  and one night I sat down with my 20-year collection of Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament magazines and added a few more "joy" ornaments to the pile. I've now got a to-do list of about 10 stitching projects, plus finishing projects, plus framing projects, not to mention big household projects I plan to tackle. Oh, and my Christmas Open House project, but that's a secret. 

I'm beginning to wonder if I'll be able to get everything done!

Mr. Wonderful leaves at the end of October and won't be back until early December, so come see what Tiger Lily and I get up to. 

23 October 2017

Homemade Thread Winder

I don't have much use for thread winders. I don't--or didn't--even own one. I keep my DMC on bobbins and I keep all my other (cotton) threads in baggies. I hardly ever stitch with silk, but I had to buy a skein for Playing with Jax. I've found that while cotton skeins behave themselves very nicely, skeins of silk, when freed from their pretty little twist, end up a mess.  I needed a thread winder. So I made one. Couldn't be easier.

Cookie cutter, paper, mat board, and Multi Medium Matte. (If you don't know what this is, you can read about the joys of MMM here in this post.

Trace around the cookie cutter on both the paper and a piece of mat board. Cut them out and glue them together using the Multi Medium Matte.

When that has dried completely (I let it sit overnight), seal it with another coat of MMM.

Allow it to dry completely. Here you can see the finished, sealed texture.

And here's the finished thread winder. 

Use your favorite cookie cutter and your prettiest paper. The possibilities are endless! How about a gingerbread man thread winder and a skein of holiday thread? Pretty cute little stocking stuffer for your favorite stitching buddy. 

20 October 2017

Playing with Jax Update: Forest Pumpkin

A while back, in this post, I talked about stitching CEC's Playing with Jax using the alternative center pumpkin "Forest Pumpkin" that was offered as a freebie around the time Playing with Jax was published. I scoured the interwebs for a picture of it stitched, but couldn't find one. I don't understand why, because I think it's really pretty. Here it is:

I'm stitching on 28 ct. Carmel Macchiato from Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie. I've only made a couple of small color changes to this pumpkin: 1) DMC 3042 instead of 927, and 2) DMC 3011 instead of 3022. The main change I made was in how I stitched the leaves that called for Silk 'N Colors Autumn Bouquet (#983). 

I've mentioned before that when stitching with hand dyed threads, I'm not a big fan of the "cross-each-stitch-as-you-go rule" (though I do use it occasionally). Here's an example of why. The leaf on the right is stitched following this "rule" and the leaf on the left is stitched using the "mismatched" method I described in this post. (Please pardon the lighting of this shot; I was stitching at night and snapped a quick picture before frogging and re-stitching the leaf on the right.)

If you like the stripey, rainbow-look of the leaf on the right, then absolutely cross each stitch as you go. Do what makes you happy with your stitching. That's what I did! I like the look of the mismatched method for lots of things, and I think it's especially good for things like trees, leaves, and animal fur. In this shot you should be able to see the "four-color" stitches that this method produces. It creates a nice wash of color, with lots of texture.

One more shot I thought I'd share. There's always a lot of discussion among stitchers about photographs of needlework not being correct color-wise. If you've never tried to get true color photographs of needlework, let me tell you, it's not easy. If you look at the four pictures in this post, the fabric looks different in each picture. Pictures 1, 3, and 4 were taken in exactly the same spot by a window, and they all look different. The other problem? Picture 3 is the best representation of the thread colors, but picture 4 is the best representation of the fabric color. See the difficulty? Now imagine trying to get all the colors of both threads and fabric adjusted so they're all true on a computer monitor, and then getting that picture printed correctly for a chart, which is a totally different color process. 

I had intended to start this project at the beginning of October, but I'm about two weeks behind. Busy times at the Wonderful household, but more on that later. One hint: "unsupervised." 

12 October 2017

Stitcher's Memo Board

I've mentioned before that I am a list-maker. A writer-down-of-things. At any given time, I have at least half a dozen stitching-related things on my mind: things to stitch, changes to make, related projects to develop and make, etc. I usually jot these ideas down on paper, but a couple of weeks ago I decided I needed a memo board for my sewing room. I thought about a plain old white board. Not cute enough. I could decorate it. Nah. Still just a white board. Then I thought of using a picture frame and writing on the glass with dry erase marker. Then I thought of putting linen behind the glass to make it more "stitchy." Then I was off and running. (This is why I have to write stuff down; once I get an idea, my brain sort of takes off without me.)

This is a super simple project that takes minutes to make. You only need a few things:

*picture frame of whatever size would be most useful to you (I chose an 8x10)
*a scrap of linen or Aida
*1/8" foam core
*craft knife
*ribbon (optional)
*dry erase marker (it wipes off easily with tissue)

I chose a neutral-colored, rather plain frame and a plain, natural linen. You could use a fancier frame and your favorite color of linen. 

Use the glass as a template to cut the foam core, then cut the foam core out, just inside the pencil line of two perpendicular sides, as described in this post. Pin the fabric to the foam core.

Pop it in the frame. That's it. Or...

...pin on a couple of lengths of seasonal ribbon to dress it up a bit! This is why I chose such a neutral frame and fabric.

And here's my October memo board!

10 October 2017

Sunday Mystery Sampler is FINISHED!

Finally! I finished it! I haven't worked on this since January, but I was determined to get it done over this past holiday weekend. If you're new around here and want to catch up on the saga of this sampler, just click on the Sunday Mystery Sampler label. For a quick re-cap: I was breezing along on this Plum Street Samplers freebie (available here) until I got to the Eighth Day, when I decided to go my own way. I did my own thing on days 8, 9, 10, and 12, and it took me a while to decide what I wanted on days 10 and 12, thus the delay in finishing it. Once I had 10 and 12 charted, I decided I wanted more symmetry on day 9, so I did a partial redesign on what I had originally stitched.

"Lords a-leaping" always reminds me of Highland dancing, so I chose to use some thistles to represent that idea in the block for the Tenth Day. The blossoms are Caron Wildfowers in Iris.

This sampler is stitched with Caron Wildflowers (border is DMC 938) on 28 ct. Natural/Brown Undyed linen from Wichelt. All of my color choices for the blocks stitched as designed by PSS are in the posts showing the finishes of those blocks.