Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Finish!

Just a quick post to show off my first "real" finish. It is by Notforgotten Farm. I am pretty sure I used 32 ct. opalescent raw Linen and it is all standard DMC floss. It was lovely to work on but I had to switch around some of the colors that were charted because they faded in to the linen I chose. It has a unique color palette, heavy on the orange and copper tones. Finished size was about 9 inches square and I actually made a pillow! I bought a little sewing machine but ended up not using it because I could not figure out how to thread it and gave up and did it by hand. Someday I will have to get someone to teach me to thread my darn machine. Also how to so the little bit of the pillow you leave open to stuff it. I ended up doing kind of a primitive whipstitch along the bottom because I could not figure out how to do it.

This was my piece for the 12 days of Christmas exchange and I sent it off to my recipient, Emily in NC. She really likes it, I'm so glad. Not everybody likes "primitive" designs. I don't know why, I think they're lovely ( and easy for a novice like myself to stitch). Different Strokes, I guess.

Happy Holidays to All!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thank you Debra

I'm the luckiest girl in the world, look at what I got!!! My secret Santa turned out to be Debra from Atlanta and she stitched me the loveliest Alphabet Block Christmas Sampler. It is amazingly beautiful and BIG! The colors are also muted enough that I will most definitely leave this up all year. Thank you so much to Debra for all the wonderful gifts, thank you to ILCS board for being such a source of inspiration and stash enabling, and thank you to Colin for putting this wonderful exchange together!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ho Ho Ho...

It's a busy time of year for everyone but I also have the added busy-ness of both my children's and my husband's birthdays from the end of November til the first week of January. It is so nice then that I participated in a number of stitching exchanges this season. It is lovely to get a little package for myself in the mail.

First up was a Christmas ornament exchange. My partner was Andrea and she stitched this fabulous ornament for me. I love it and am very impressed because she had such a short time to do it in. Thank you Andrea ;)

Next is the 12 Days of Christmas Exchange. One gift to open from December 1 on with the final gift a stitched piece from your partner. My Santa sent me a large parcel that instantly brought me back to my childhood and getting presents sent from my Grandparents that lived thousands of miles away. Of course Christmas is not "about presents" but that does not mean we cannot find joy in the gifts we do receive. And it was so joyful to crack up open that box and start digging through the peanuts. Above is a picture of everything with my 3 year old's hand in the bottom right. Poor thing just had her birthday and was not quite getting that other people get presents besides her.

Below are my Day 1 and Day 2 gifts. Day 1 was a tube of Lotion. It has a very mild, clean scent that I love and it will be a valuable soldier in my winter war against my dry hands. Day 2 was Needles, Oodles of Needles!! You really can never have too many. Especially since I have a few projects going and I tend to stash packages of needles with each project and then I tend to lose or leave behind needles if I am stitching on the go. (Eeep sorry for the long run-on sentence). Thank you so much to my Secret Stitching Santa. And thank you to Colin, one of the moderators of the I love cross stitch yahoo group, for putting together this exchage.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kit Exchange & Mansfield Progress

Giant smile on my face! I received a wonderful package from my exchange partner Mary on Saturday. The exchange was for the ILCS group and was called "Kit in a Container". Mary was ever so lovely and generous and sent me two gorgeous projects to work on: a BEAUTIFUL Mill Hill Autumn Wreath kit and lovely JBW kit as well. Also in the package were some wonderful goodies: A cute pumpkin basket and some Autumn potpourri, a piece of linen, some needles (Petites! I've been dying to try these-I know someone who uses these exclusively), a prefinished bag with an Aida insert to stitch on, and a Star De-Tailor. She must have been reading my mind with that one! I have been wanting one of these forever but every time I order stash I always forget ;) So I absolutely love everything and will definitely get to stitching at least one of these ASAP. So Thank you Mary, it was lovely being your partner!

Also I have been making some progress on the Mansfield Park Sampler and I also found a great frame for it at a bargain store. Only problem is that the frame already has a kind of generic kitchen print and I take it one is not really supposed to take it out. In other words the backing is kind of bracketed in. Oh, and I broke the glass on the way home but I had planned on taking it out anyway so no biggie. Worst case scenario, the thing cost me maybe seven dollars.

I am gonna get all ambitious and say I will finish this week but I have been helping my husband put up some of his baseball cards to sell on ebay so that is making me extra busy these days. Have a wonderful week everyone!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ornament Exchange & Mansfield SAL

So we did a Christmas ornament exchange on the ILCS group. I was proud of myself-I did not completely procrastinate and started in on a lovely Mill Hill Santa kit. A couple of days in, I realized I had made a small yet crucial counting error. I literally threw the thing across the room. It would have required the most extensive frogging to date for me and I was sad and mad!!! I gave up, oh well, I guess I don't have to do every exchange. Meh, a couple of days later I set to work on another ornament. When I finished I rushed to the post office, sent it priority just to be safe but YAY postal service took forever to deliver it. So I missed the cut off date to have the ornaments in by. Lucky for me there was another ornament inching its way to its destination. So I was able to participate in the exchange after all! Above is the ornament I received, stitched by Leslie from the ILCS board. I do not have a picture of the ornament I stitched, gah and I just realized I packed up the box with the stuff for another exchange without taking a picture. And wouldn't you know, I come from a family with a notorious penchant for putting way too much tape on packages and gifts. Ah well.

Here is my progress on Mansfield Park. Three weeks in, I did not get as much done as I would have liked this week. I am still really enjoying this stitch although I am debating ripping out a couple of the letters at the top where the floss blends in too much with the fabric. It is not as bad in person so I don't know, maybe I'll just leave it.

Also, last week I started reading a "sequel" to Mansfield Park, "Edmund Bertram's Diary" by Amanda Grange. Really though, it is not a sequel but an homage or a retelling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park from the point of view of Edmund Bertram. A fairly light read, a few of the scenes are lifted somewhat verbatim from the original. And included in its entirety is the text featured on this sampler: " To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment". So far I like this homage better than the last Jane Austen "sequel" that I read, "Mr. Darcy's Daughters" (forgive me I don't have the author's name handy). Actually I enjoyed that book but at the end of the day I thought the author modernized too much by including too much "saucy talk". I am sooooo not a prude but I hardly think Jane Austen would ever discuss an aristocratic gentleman running off to Italy with one of his footmen.

Goodbye Shea Stadium! We will miss your amazingly bad views but awesome atmosphere.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fabulous Freebie & SAL=Awesome

Another finish! This one is a freebie by Tanya Marie Anderson aka The Sampler Girl. She designed two freebies related to the Presidential election (one for each side). Many lovely folks are stitching up both but I am partisan enough to just do the one. It is stitched on 14 ct opalescent Aida in Raindrop Flair from Enchanted Fabrics. I used some variegated colors from DMC and added a bit to Tanya's design in order to use up more of my fabric. I repeated her star in a field of blue on the left and whipped up some stripes on the opposite side. The day I finished stitching it I happened upon a Polo by Ralph Lauren canvas hobo bag on clearance and decided it would make a perfect home for this piece. The zipper pull and side of the bag are both adorned with small American flag type designs. This will be my main pocketbook until the end of the election at least.

I fell in love with Tanya's designs originally for her series related to Jane Austen. Even before I had ordered any of the patterns I joined a wonderful yahoo group related to the Jane Austen stitching. This week we started a SAL (StitchAlong) featuring her Mansfield Park design. I am loving working on this piece. It is just so wonderfully pretty and fun to do. I am also working finally with some Vicki Clayton Hand Dyed silk fibers. These.Are.AWESOME. Here is my progress after the first week:

Friday, September 12, 2008

In Memory of Goldie...

Despite my valiant efforts, Goldie the fish passed away a couple of weeks ago. Who knows how old he really was but he was in our family for five days. My husband said it was an amazing run for a fish won at a street festival. I was still sad because I was determined that with diligent care I would be able to give the little guy a longer life. I hate to see anything die, yep I'm one of those people shooing spiders out the door. So here is my daughter right after her triumphant ball bouncing victory. She is holding aloft her prize and first pet ever, the aforementioned Goldie. I should have left an offering at the shrine to Saint Rosalia that she is standing in front of. Maybe she could have talked to Saint Francis or something. (Pay no attention to the date on the photo BTW, my camera was all wonky!)

I have recently completed two pieces. One is a Dimensions Daydreams kit called "Patchwork Teddy". It was really fun to do. You get all the normal stuff in the kit PLUS supplies to "finish" it. My major triumph with this project was doing pretty gosh darn well on my French knots. I found a video tutorial that I was able to play, pause, play, and pause until I got them just right. I am going to send this piece to my Grandmother in Las Vegas, I think. Pictures below are the stitched portion and the final assembled look.

I also completed the stitching on my Mets Logo. I had thought I was completed some time ago and proudly removed it from my scroll frame. Then I looked at it and thought, "Meh, maybe I should add some backstitching". Back on to the frame it went and I ended up backstitching almost every possible edge imaginable. I am really glad I did, even my husband who doesn't notice stuff like that said it looked a lot better. I am going to attempt to frame it myself, keep your fingers crossed.

Hey! Watch Your Back! There is a little Angel Running after you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Ooops, so sorry was having a 1997 moment there.

Here is my latest finish and by far the most difficult project I have done so far. It was done for the magnet exchange on the I-Love-Cross-Stitch group on Yahoo!. I was paired up with the lovely Gabi from Australia. I knew her to be fond of birds so when browsing around for ideas I happened upon this magnetic frame design. The leaflet the design was in and the acrylic frame are both available at .
It was a joy to stitch, just very pretty and delicate. I used the recommended 18 ct Aida (the frame comes with plastic canvas but the booklet was written for a slightly different frame). The pattern called for about 14 different colors of floss. At first I was thinking, "Now that's just silly for such a small design". Obviously though, using many different colors makes everything just lovely.
I will not go into all the errors I made. Looking back I realize I am happy with the finished project and Gabi loved it so that is all that matters ;) One thing I will 'fess up to is that the painted green border around the edge was necessary because I totally messed up trimming the fabric to fit in the frame. I printed out a pic of my daughter to pop in there, she is standing in front of a "Birds of NYC" placard so I thought it was appropriate.
And thanks to the aforementioned Gabi, I will be watching the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet. It was number 388 on my Netflix queue. I have heard it is quite the masterpiece and so far I must say it is quite extraordinary, what I have watched.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Woohoo, my Netflix queue is almost under 400!

Wow, so my Netflix queue is shrinking for what seems like the first time since I joined back in 2002. There have been a number of times I have had to delete movies from my list because I reached the 500 limit. Part of it is a larger number of movies "being moved to my saved list"-at first I thought it was because they were out of print but at least one of those movies was readily available New at amazon. The major reason though is that I have been watching a ton of movies this summer. My older daughter is going to day camp so while my younger daughter naps I have time theoretically to watch one movie a day. And since I have taken up stitching I am watching more as I sit down to stitch. The only movie I really had a problem watching while stitching was The Prestige . A great movie, full of twists and turns that demanded my attention. So I just had to pause a few times to count or just (gasp!!) stop stitching for a few minutes. I just know not to attempt a foreign film, no way could I read subtitles constantly while I stitch.

Numbers one and two right now are Rendition and The Game Plan. To mix things up, the first person to comment on this please give me a number from 5-405. I will move that movie on up to number one on the queue.

**Quick Stitching Update**

I have another finish, a magnet I did for an exchange on the I Love Cross Stitch yahoo group. I fell in love with a pattern and I just thought it was perfect for Gabi, the woman who is to receive it. More on that later, and no pics until it arrives safely in Australia!

Hopefully in the next couple of days I should complete the Mets Logo. Only two colors but tons of stitches. I think I am on my sixth skein for one of them. Wish me Luck!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Small Finish and a WIP

I am having one of those "feeling like a grown-up" weeks. My older daughter graduated from Kindergarten this week. Even though Kindergarten is not what it was when I was a child (remember play time & naps-GONE) it still feels like a big milestone. By the way, did you have homework in Kindergarten? I certainly did not but my daughter sure did, sometimes taking an hour or so to complete.

For an end of the year present I decided to put my new hobby to use and made a little piece for the teacher. I used a free pattern from, duh, Just a very simple red apple and I added some text in back stitch around it. I put it a little magnet frame and voila, my third finish.

I have also started work on the New York Mets logo that my husband asked me to make. I am using Gentle Art Sampler Thread in Bittersweet for the Orange and will use Crescent Colors Granny Annie for the blue (c'mon package carrying thread-come to mommy). I am stitching it on 16 ct Fiddlers Cloth. I have not yet decided whether or not I will just leave it as is or stitch the background portions of white that the pattern called for. This is what I have so far:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

To Everything A Season

This week brought back memories of college in Washington, D.C.. I was not doing too much partying and not enough studying. Rather whenever I stepped out of an air-conditioned room it felt like I was walking through hot soup. Just nasty yucky heat. Thankfully, on the way home from walking my daughter to school in the mornings I passed three (sometimes four) lawn sprinklers. I had no shame in waiting for the sprinkler to make its turn around so I could feel that nice, cool mist for a second or two.

Too hot to keep up with all of my housework, I was able to finish my second stitching project. Another Learn-a-Craft kit from Dimensions (72665 Seasons of Color) this one was at least made for adults. Let's hear it for progress!

I am really getting the hang of this, my main problem being getting distracted and not counting correctly. A couple of times on this project I was off a couple of spaces but each time I was either able to do good damage control or just leave it be because you would never be able to tell.

The first major issue I had with this project was running out of one of the thread colors (the kit had provided all the floss needed, in theory but not in practice). Labeled pink on the chart, it was more of a rose color and I ran about 20 stitches short. With no needlepoint stores in my general vicinity I was stuck with the generic variety packs of embroidery floss offered at the craft store. I chose the color that seemed the closest and filled in the missing stitches. Meh. Here you can see the result:

See where the thread is coming out there? That's where I began to pull it out when I decided that it was nowhere near a close enough match. It is harder to tell in the picture but it was much more of a true cotton-candy pink then the rose pink you can see above that line of magenta. I could have just called Dimensions customer service like they advised in the instructions. They probably would have just sent me a couple lengths of the correct floss. That would have been too easy though. I was putting together an order from so I looked through the DMC colors and found the floss I thought might work. It ended up being a little too dark but I decided at that point to accept and move on. After all, a couple little mistakes should be expected on only my second try at this.
So basically the pattern consisted of four flowers or leaves, with each representing a season. A few words of back stitches "To Everything A Season" and one (woot!) French knot to dot the I. It was never really a piece that excited me, just not my taste. I am pretty proud of it nonetheless.
When I completed all the stitching I decided to actually "finish" this project. Instead of simply recentering the piece in the hoop and trimming the excess fabric to make a little wall hanging I decided to attach it to a canvas bag I bought for 99 cents at the aforementioned craft store. After a couple of aborted attempts using a variety of stitches, I kind of had a tantrum and quickly back stitched a circle "framing" the piece. Of course, it looked a million times better than all the other tries. A couple tiny segments kind of frayed a little so I threw in a couple random cross stitches to tie them down. Looks kinda cute.
For now, I am going to use this as my project bag. I am building up supplies and stuff faster than I can organize it. At least with this I put the supplies I actually need at the moment in the bag and keep myself a little more sane. I have already started my third project, just a little end of the year gift for my daughter's teacher. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 2, 2008

First things first...

I decided my first project would be a Learn a Craft Cross Stitch Kit from Dimensions (72422 Bumble Bee). The kit came with everything I would need including the chart, floss, fabric (11 ct white Aida), needle and hoop frame. The finished design is about 3inches by 3inches. The first instruction was actually to wash your hands, "Scrub them and use lots of soap". I kind of chuckled then remembered this kit was made for children. I decided to live on the edge and skip the first step.

The instructions were thorough, verging on maybe a little too much so. I found myself at times doing things differently because, intuitively, there were easier ways. Overall, I was glad for the hand-holding directions and no matter what, it is always nice to know that something is there to help you out if you need it.

The basic design consisted of four floss colors and was easily completed. It took me a couple of days of sporadic stitching. There were many long, straight rows of one color or another and no skipping from one side of the "canvas" to the other. After stitching the basic bee shape, the instructions directed me to do a back stitch outline of the bee. After that I ran into my first real problem, the french knots required to do the antenna tips. One of them turned out great, completely by accident and the other one looks like crap. I felt better when I read somewhere that some people actually avoid patterns that include French Knots because they find them so difficult. I do not think I will get to that point but I do think it will be some time until I get the hang of them.

Upon completion, I centered the design in the hoop frame and trimmed off the excess fabric. It will stay in there for the time being. My daughter wanted me to put it up in her room but the other day I saw a magnetic cross-stitch frame made by yarntree that I think might be a good home for it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A True Beginner!

I have long had an interest in "making stuff". I took many art and design classes in High School and while I would never say I was the most talented kid in my school, I certainly enjoyed doing a variety of artistic and craft projects. Then college, work, marriage, and kids kind of got in the way. My artistic outlets became making clip art signs at work when one of the bathrooms went out of order or making faces with ketchup on my daughter's hamburger.

So why did I decide to take up cross stitch? Hmm, well I am a Jane Austen fanatic and one day I was browsing through the online gift shop for the Jane Austen Center in Bath, U.K. ( They offer a selection of cross stitch kits and when I saw them I immediately thought it would be cool to try some out. One little problem: I had never stitched a stitch in my life! I decided it was better to start simple. So I ordered a kit aimed at eight-year-olds.