Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finished (and not quite finished)

I had to take a much-needed break from work today, so I got the mat cut and the fabric cut for making my (step) son's Christmas ornament. The stitching was completed last night, and it looks really cute.
But then, I put some Christmas holly fabric around foam core mounting board. I placed the Letter S on a piece of thin mounting board and then glued it on top of the foam core. 
After doing all of this, I realized that the cording I had was way too thin, so I will need to get some thicker cording to wrap around the Letter S, and then I will add the snowflake button to the top for an added decoration. 
Because of a small glue malfunction, I will probably have to add some sort of ribbon to the bottom left corner to cover up all the glue that squished out, but hopefully, he will still like it.

Now, only two more of these to make.......

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's that time of year...

After the last few Stoney Creek patterns of the month, I decided I would try a Q-Snap that I have heard so much about. I didn't want anything but the smallest one because the idea was for me to have a frame holder for the smaller patterns so my hands don't cramp while I stitch.  I love my scroll rods for my larger projects, but I wanted something portable, durable, and something to save my hand muscles.

I used my 40% off coupon to Hobby Lobby and I bought the last Q-snap they had. Fortunately for me, it was the 6" x 6".  I had used hoops in the past, but I hate the marks that are left on the fabric, and I detested how my oils and the dirt totally stick to the piece when using a hoop. I was very afraid that I was purchasing a very expensive hoop ($12 was the original price for the small size).

Now, I seem to have become a Serial Starter because I still have the baby sampler on the scroll rods, but I realized that Fall is just around the corner, and I promised myself that I would my make sons a Christmas ornament. They are actually my steps-sons, and while they aren't making actual noises with their complaints that everything I create only has the girls in it or on it or is for the girls, I have noticed that they look around in the house. My only defense is that they are rarely here, so it's hard to include them in pictures, etc. 

But, to correct this, I pulled out a white opalescent Jobelan, and I used the Better Homes and Garden Christmas book I had to take the letters from the bell pull sampler to stitch individually - AND, I started using my new Q-snap. So, in getting ready for The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I have a Christmas WIP.
What a difference!!! I am able to stitch longer, and I have to say that the Q-snap holds the tension very, very well.  If the fabric starts to slip, just a simple adjustment, and I'm ready to stitch again.

The stitching went so fast on this smaller project that I didn't even realize how much I got done so quickly.  The start of the project was just yesterday, and here was my progress through tonight:

I have to say that I'm really impressed.  I had heard all of the hype about the Q-snaps, and I didn't want to buy into it because I couldn't afford any new notions at this point, but it really has made a difference.  I will totally used my scroll rods until they give out. I love the floor stand, but I do love the tension quality of the Q-snaps, and the ability to keep the fabric clean while stitching. 

If everything goes well, I will be turning this into a Christmas ornament by tomorrow night, and I should be very good to go for the other two boys before Christmas. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

No Stitching - Stash!

I took a small hiatus from stitching this week. I was eager to finish a book, The Villa by Nora Roberts, and it was really great to take some added time for myself, my husband and some friends this week.  We have enjoyed a truly authentic Italian meal this week which included the singing and dancing in the restaurant as the need arose. Along with the truly amazing food was time with my hubby and a good friend of ours. We still haven't decided if he helped our spirits lift or we helped his, but it was great either way.

While I did not pick up my needle this week, I did manage to get some great new stash. I have yet to figure out what it is that makes me purchase more and more when I know perfectly good and well that I have more than enough to keep me busy past the grave, but yet, I just had to have these patterns.

The first purchase I made was inspired by a wickedly evil Kevin Tober. He is included on many of the stitching groups on Facebook, and as soon as he posted a picture of this one, I knew I was a goner:
This is from Cross-Eyed Cricket, and my American Literature teacher heart just loved it! I love the story of Ichabod Crane and the magic that appeals to me from the time period. Even better is the idea of panels for this to be showcased on my entertainment center.  Now, reality keeps nagging at me - yeah, when will I have time to get to this, but I had to purchase it nonetheless.

Also arrived was the most PERFECT pattern for my own marriage.  The hubby and I have a few years together, but I never found the right pattern for us. Therefore, while I have made many other wedding samplers for others, our spot on our wall is still bare.  Well, until I found this one:
I'm going to alter things a little bit being that I will use a dark green opalescent fabric - Fern by Stephanie Bishop, but everything else will remain. Our wedding was at Christmas-time, and our colors were Hunter green and gold. How perfect!! Both the hubby and I have deep German roots, but I really enjoy the tad bit of Irish I have, and this Celtic Knot is a perfect symbol for us. The fabric has been ordered, and I'm anxiously waiting for Stephanie to get it to me.  

My final purchase was one that I was really trying to avoid. I am completely aware that I only have so much wall space in my house, and I do not want to "clutter" my walls with all of the things that I make. Most everything ends up as a gift, but I have started to do seasonal items that I can rotate throughout the year. But, my love of Audrey Hepburn, and my absolute favorite movie of hers was Sabrina. The dress she wore to the party was awesome, and after seeing so many other finishes of the pattern, I totally caved in and purchased the Mirabilia and the beads:
I'm not sure when I'll get to Sabrina, but I now have the pattern and bead set. I will have to pick the perfect pattern for her - especially given all of the white in this gown.  I'm sure she will be amazing, and I'll find the right place for her in my home when she's done.

I hope that everyone else has had a great week of stitching, and I'll be perusing others' blogs for inspiration. My book was finished, so I'm sure I'll be picking up my needle again by tonight.  It was great to take a small hiatus even if it did cost me a few dollars.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Favorite Fabrics

I have delved into the world of hand dyed fabrics. It is an amazing world full of gorgeous colors and styles, but it is also amazingly expensive. I searched on the Internet and read all of the posts on the stitching groups on Facebook to determine which were considered the "best." I placed orders from each and every one, and I gauged the quality versus the price from each. Now, this is entirely my opinion, but if you scout out the FB sites, you'll read a lot of the same. I encourage you to do your own "experiment" but I hope that I can encourage some of you to be more adventurous in your fabric choices. I know that I'm really happy I took this plunge.

A major issue for me is my location - the United States. There are some great dyers who are in the UK and Australia. The cost of shipping for me makes the fabrics not worth it. One of the dyers not only doesn't serge, but the fabrics still have a smell to them that I can't get rid of. I've washed the fabrics twice, laid them out to get air, etc., but they still smell.  

So, I focused on my fabrics that I purchased from people in the US. There are two that stand out, and one that I purchase from over and over.

Picture this Plus is in Kansas. I have loved their fabrics, and each have matched the color that I saw online. It takes them a long while to get the fabrics dyed and out for shipping, so I do not make a purchase from them while I need it for an upcoming project. Their prices are reasonable, and I love that they have very large pieces available on their site. When you try to contact them with questions, you can only get in touch with them via email, but they will usually respond within 24 hours.

Stephanie's Fabbies is in Michigan. I have to say, I saved the best for last! Stephanie Bishop started on Facebook, and I was lucky to be there when she did. She has now taken her business full time, so fabrics are being shipped even faster. Her customer service is awesome! If you have a problem or want a specialty item, just give her a call. Stephanie lets everyone know very quickly if she is out of a fabric for any reason (usually short of supply) as she will let you know as soon as it is back in stock. She auctions off her trials on her FB page, and I've picked up a couple really great custom colors over the last few months.

I cannot say enough about Stephanie's Fabbies. For the price, you get one hell of a deal. If you don't like the color that shows up, just let her know, and she'll get it replaced. She has an assortment of 55 different colors (so far) that she has mastered and are reproducible while explaining that each piece is original. Stephanie is constantly taking suggestions and working to develop new colors based on what we, the consumer, are wanting. It's wonderful to me to have the business owner so approachable and handling my business. 

There is no doubt that I am NOT her best client, but she treats me like I am. On a personal level, I am very excited for her that she was able to quit her full-time job to work full-time at home on her fabric dying. I think it's great not only for her and her life, but because the rest of us will have her available to us for all of our fabric needs.

If you have not started with hand-dyed fabrics, I recommend starting with Stephanie's.  You can talk to her about the different styles and types, and she can help you determine which you would like better based on your current preferences and experience level. Personally, I love Lugana and Jobelan. I prefer Lugana when I want a lighter colored piece and Jobelan when I want a darker piece, but the types of fabric are similar to stitch on. 

Enjoy yourself in this wonderful little world! Pace yourself, however, because it is a very large increase in price from the Aida cloth that I'm sure we all learned on.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I am not a robot

In order to post comments on others' blogs, I see this a lot:

Please prove you're not a robot
reCAPTCHA challenge image
In all fairness to myself - someone who tries to post a comment to every single person's blog on the Stitching Blog Hops and ISHW posts -this is entirely frustrating. The one  you see above was actually an easy one to read as compared to many of the ones that I had to try over and over again.

Seriously?? Does anyone else have an issue with this? It's one of the reasons that I removed the commenting moderation and requirements on my own blog, and a reason why I don't actually get to everyone's blog sites to see your updates. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

ISHW Update

I finished the Hermit Weekend fairly strong. I would have loved to have spent more time stitching over the weekend, but my hubby had the living room occupied with his backpacking and camping gear to take inventory and weigh everything. I say is was about time, so I left him to it.

For the weekend, I spent the entire time working on the baby sampler for my youngest daughter. I did post my previous stopping point, so here is the update:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Acronym Weekend

It's an acronym weekend.  As a Special Education teacher, I'm used to sounding like I'm from another planet when speaking with my peers, so I find it awesome when both of the Stitching groups fall in the same weekend. 

The first is TUSAL - Totally Useless Stitch Along.  My ORTS have grown considerably, but I have one daughter who cannot stand to see the jar filling. Because the threads just seem to be compiling, she just has to smoosh them into the jar.  Hence, it doesn't seem as full as it did prior to her smooshing.
It is also the beginning of the International Hermit & Stitching Weekend which takes place every 3rd weekend of each month. In our very busy and hectic lives, IHSW is a chance for us to squirrel some time away for ourselves and "Hermit and Stitch." It is a time set aside to take care of us and our love for stitching.

My plan is to work on Jordan's Baby Sampler, so I want to post my current WIP picture for comparison.
Now, here's to hoping that I get a lot done on it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ready for Fall

It didn't take very long, but I just had to get in the groove to finish the backstitching around the borders and add the buttons. Voila! I am now officially ready for September (and I would like to request it arrive quickly because I cannot take anymore of the heat).

Now, that it is packed back up in the bubble wrap and ready for September 1st, I can resume the baby sampler I was working on.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Well...Almost Finished

Oooohhhhh! I got so very close to being done last night.  Sadly, I was enjoying time in the pool during the day far more than I wanted to stitch inside the house. I spent the evening working on this small pattern, and despite being so close to being finished, I did not work through the night since I knew I had an early morning and couldn't be exhausted.  

So, here is how far I got:

I still cannot believe how quick these patterns go. Just a few hours is all that is required, and now I just need a couple more to finish the month, the outlines and then add the beads.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Small Interruption

This is very difficult for me, but I started another project before I was done with the current project.  I am a Disciplined Diva, not a Superstar Serial Starter, but I was away on business for a couple days, and I could not take the larger project with me.  I thought about just not stitching while at the hotel, but then what else could I do??? Of course, I just had to stitch! I mean, I did spend time with an old friend since I was in the area, and I did a lot of Team Building with some co-workers, but when it comes down to it, I just had to stitch!

So, I started the September monthly pattern from Stoney Creek:

If it goes as fast as August did, I should be done by tomorrow night and then get back to the baby sampler I was working on.

Now, I did learn that one of my co-workers does cross-stitching.  She and I were so excited to be able to "talk the lingo" with each other because no one else that we know stitches. I made sure to add her to a couple of the Facebook groups and she had to be included in Stephanie's group so she can get addicted to the hand-dyed fabrics as well.  It was fun to see what she had/was doing and I loved showing her my work. Stacey will become a Mira Minion as well if I get my way.

So, I will continue my finish of my new little WIP and then get back on track. I am far more motivated to finish this now so that I can start my original WIP which should help.

Oh! And may I just add that I received my latest shipment from Stoney Creek yesterday when I returned.  I was relishing the idea that I was almost done with the Pattern of the Month series, and then what do I find in my envelope, but the advertisement for the next POM Series:
Crap, crap, crap!!! This one is way cute as well, and of course, I'll have to get these as well.  I think this one will have to stay as a set though, so I may just have to pay the shipping each month as well as purchase the embellishments, but isn't this something that my girls will just have to have when they go off to college??  

Monday, August 6, 2012

A New WIP - Long Overdue

My youngest daughter is 8 1/2 years old. She likes to remind me that her birthday is coming up "soon" and she'll be 9. She especially loves to remind me of her age when she looks on the wall in her bedroom and does not see a birth sampler that Mama made hanging there like both of her sisters have.

Well, I started to rectify that tonight. I haven't gotten very far, but it's very difficult to find the time to stitch when I'm back to work full time in order to get ready for the new school year, AND the lovely State Department of Ed has required yet another requirement before I can renew my teaching credential. Ugh!  But even with such a busy schedule, here's what I was able to get done:
If you look in the upper right corner of this blog, you can see a picture of my current WIP which will give you an idea of what I'm doing and where I'm at.

This is not only 8 1/2 years overdue for me to make, but the worst part is that I was just about done with it one time previous. I had difficult pregnancies which required copious amounts of bedrest. I had nothing but time on my hands, so each of the girls' birth samplers were done before they were actually born. I just had to stitch their name and information afterwards.  Unfortunately, after my youngest was born, their father really lost his mind. Sadly, I wish I could blame his actions on a mental disorder, but his meanness just went out of control. Part of my attempts to placate him and keep our family together was to put all of my stitching away, and I never finished her piece.  A couple of years later, I took the girls and left (yes, sadly, I did say a couple of years later). 

When I was finally able to get some of my possessions from the house, I found her Birth Sampler torn to shreds in a bag. Since he was right there, I asked him what he had done to his daughter's present, and he took some of the larger pieces that he had left and shredded them further in front of all of us.  

It took me time to rebuild my stash, and to get the desire to cross-stitch back. Luckily, I found my joy in it again fairly quickly, but getting the ability to have a stash took a lot of time.  I have since completely overcompensated for my original loss, and now I have more to stitch than years left on my life. Additionally, I was able to track down the actual Birth Sampler that I had started, and my youngest is completely excited to see it taking shape AND she's excited that "Daddy didn't kill it after all." (My girls refer to him by his first name, and my current husband is their "Daddy" to them now, but I still used the D-word to keep anonymity anyway.)

So, it is a bit more cathartic than I thought it would be. I was worried that maybe I should have chosen a different pattern to separate the thoughts and feelings, but this definitely seems to have been the far better choice.

I will also add that going back to a kit has not been easy!  I have been spoiled working on hand-dyed evenweaves and specialty flosses for a while. Even regular DMC floss is nicer to work with than the floss included with the kit, but I'm sure it will be great when I can hang her framed piece up for her!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A New Baking Find!

While this is not cross-stitching related, I felt that I would share a new find of mine.  When Ken and I visited Julian, CA last month, we stopped in a little store on Main street that sold honey, jams, and a ton of other assorted items.  I purchased a really cute, decorative teaspoon set, a bag that I'm using for my crafting, some desserts and a couple bags of scone mix that I saw.

This morning, I figured I would whip up the Scones. I wasn't going to be making them from scratch - which was a total plus today - and the family really enjoys a "baked" event in this house. In looking over the directions, what could be easier than "Just Add Water"?? The company that makes these is out of Washington state: Sticky Fingers Bakeries.  In looking at their website, I learned that the store in Julian did have every package they make for scones, and I'm very interested in trying the brownies.

Per their website, there are only three stores that carry their product in the entire state of California, so I will definitely be ordering from their website. For those interested, they offer free shipping at $75. Given that each package is $5.99, you'll have quite the haul when you reach the free shipping stage.  Currently, my wishlist is packed full.

So, I got everything together, and within 8 minutes, the scones were on the baking sheet and ready for the oven. I have NEVER had the scones ready before the oven was pre-heated. Awesome! It would have gone faster if I had looked at their website first and seen these scones are meant to be dropped and rounded. I took the time to wedge them, and the dough was far more sticky than what I'm used to making from scratch.
The baking time was a little longer than what I'm used to, but when I walked back into the kitchen after hearing the timer, I have to say, Oh My God! The smell was amazing!

The ones I started with were the Lemon Ginger. I didn't think about the kick that the ginger would give them, but they were very tasty. I didn't have any Devonshire Cream on hand, so that is something I'll have to remember to get soon now that the weather will start cooling down and I can use the oven again on a regular basis.

While I completely prefer to make all of my yummy creations from scratch, I have only ever used a couple other "packaged" brands.  I now have a new favorite to keep on hand for when I want the "yummy" without all of the work!

**PS - I received an email from Ashley at Sticky Fingers who said that their product is, in fact, available at major retailers! I will definitely be on the lookout. Here is a list of what she gave me as possible locations for purchase:  World Market, Home Goods, Home Sense, TJ Maxx, Whole Foods, Raley's Stores, Gelson's  and many more. I love knowing that this company was originally started in San Diego, CA.  

Thanks, Ashley, for the information!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blog Hop #7: Left-Overs

Stitching the Night Away Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop
Question:  What do you do with the floss, thread, beads, and other elements you have left over from full project kits?

Up until recently, unless the project had the floss labeled with the DMC number, I tossed everything away. There was no point in my keeping the floss for any reason.

However, with my girls starting to learn, I have found that having these leftover pieces made it far easier for me to allow my girls to experiment and learn - they weren't wasting the "good" floss and costing me extra money other than needles and Aida cloth.

Now with the beads - that is a different story. I have a ton of different beads, and so long as I can label the beads and have enough to justify a labeled container, I will keep them.  You just never know when you might need just one or two to finish a project.

As for the needles, well, I keep the needles, but they are separate from the needles I normally use. If I need one in a pinch, I can pull from my stash, but I tend to prefer John James petites, and I have found they do not pull on the threads at all. 

Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night Away Stitching Blogger Blog Hop:
Find the instructions on how to participate in this round by clicking here.

First Finish of August

Well, I was hoping to have this done while it was still July, but being done just after midnight on the first means that I officially have my first finish of the month. I really love how this turned out, and I got it into the special frame and on the shelf so it's ready even before the girls wake up. 

Here it is before the beads:
 The beads are attached:
 And we're framed!
My next project isn't actually "small," but I'm going to stitch it on Aida rather than an evenweave, so it should go a bit faster.  I'm finally going to stitch my youngest daughter's birth sampler (yes, she is 8 1/2 at this point). It's important to me since her father tore it up as we left him just before I was finished making it.  It took me a while to not only find the exact pattern again for her, but to get the emotional fortitude to make it. Yay! She will have her sampler on the wall next to her sisters soon.