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.